Goldau felt his joints creak from his next insubstantial movement – a slight lowering of his aching skull. Times like these were always the worst for him and his colleagues. Like him, the other slaves in that tiny, damp enclosure were survivors of genocide. And, like him, they were all that remained of a totally slain race, tribe or people. Nothing made sense anymore… but then again, it never did.
With a pistol-like bang, the main door of the dungeon swung open.
“Goldau Sturz?” the ignorant looking guard spat.
Goldau responded by sinking his gaze deeper into the shadowed ground. Again, his power was being called. His… other side.
As unceremoniously as he could, the dog of a guard yanked Goldau to his feet by tugging at the necklace held dear around his nape. Suppressing a sneer and dirty remark, Goldau reluctantly felt his limber frame being pulled without his dank, yet familiar, cell. It suddenly appeared, in the imaginary daylight, that his final purpose had arrived.
“It begins in an hour,” the garrison snorted. “You’re in the Foyer, until then.”
Foyer, Goldau chortled bitterly in his head. It sounded like a pleasant place, but truth was the Foyer was just a fancy name for the slightly larger dungeon.
During the long and tiring trek – made worse by his traversing over jagged shards with bare feet – Goldau saw Kilauea being shoved just as rudely alongside him. Kilauea mons Etna.
Kilauea the Dove.
Kilauea the Volcano.
Goldau knew very little about this Force; rarely had he worked with another one of the slaves. His work was always done solo.
The two guards yanked Goldau and Kilauea up a narrow flight of stairs, before leading them through an even darker tunnel. With a brisk twist of his helm, Goldau was able to shake some strands of hair from his line of sight. He always felt it necessary to be prepared… even if he knew exactly what was gonna happen next.
After all, no one ever left Mount Meggido. And this poor excuse for a promenade wasn’t gonna be different.
“Hehehe,” the garrisons chuckled amongst themselves. “What’s it this time?” the younger one laughed.
With equal gusto and fond levity, the other responded. “Not too sure, myself.” After a seconds pause, he continued. “But I here it’s bigger than a city.”
“A whole country maybe,” the young one giggled again.
Whatever it is, Goldau whispered in his silent dome. I hope it happens fast.
Goldau the Landslide, began formulating ways to alleviate the pain which followed with the tasks, but was abruptly halted by a shove. His body bashed against the steel gate and rattled its perch. With no help from the trash standing beside him, Goldau rose once more. Now recovered, he could see his destination – the Foyer.
It was just as he recalled inside his vividly detailed memory. The entire set up was little more than a domed room with two openings – the steel grate he stared through and the giant, wooden gate he stared to.
He knew what the wooden gate was. It was the gateway to Earth. The portal to destruction.
Before either could react, Goldau and Kilauea were thrown into the Foyer via the invisible opening on the far side. As each Force struggled to recover, they could hear the latches being slid back into place.
“You to, eh?”
Arms still shackled, face still buried on the hay-stained ground, Goldau turned to the new voice. “Do you know why we are summoned?”
The bald man sat in the far side of the Foyer -- in the theoretical ‘corner’ of the room. He also had giant cuffs grasping greedily round his wrists. Goldau had seen him only once before… and the power he possessed. Rarely was any Force knowledgeable of another’s – they were much too busy surviving – and when this did occur, it was no small event.
Valdivia Richter was a beast in his own rights. To add to his monstrous potential, he had lost all sight. As a nod to one of his many epithets, this blind man could well see another person based solely on the waves they resonated. Richter needed only to sense them through the earth. It was by this method that he had recognized these two newcomers. Yes, Goldau and Kilauea had fallen into the presence of Valdivia… the Earthquake.
“I have heard many a rumor of why we were so civilly summoned,” Valdivia responded with all the bitterness he could muster. The hostility, however, was not aimed at Goldau -- a sensitive man in all respects -- but at the conditions set out before them. “Would you like to hear them all?”
This time, Kilauea responded. The old man had risen to a sitting position of his own, and let all his paling hair flow around the exhausted visage. “I think Goldau and I have enough time.”
The blind man smiled, and began. “First is to lead the army. It seems war is beckoning our king’s troops, and surely he will not fail.”
Even half awake and starving bitterly, Goldau could easily register the sarcasm from the Earthquake’s tone. Still prostrate on the ground, the Landslide smirked, and let the blind Force continue.
“His gold-plated men will march over the Gehenna! With spears – fortified with Heaven itself -- each soldier will claim ten heads for his own! And like Troy, all armies shall fall before his might.”
Again, more blatant sardonicism.
“The King would never wage war in these times,” a new voice countered.
Goldau finally grew tired of the paltry comfort offered by the ground and rose to his knees. On higher ground, his eyes, against the antagonizing darkness, were able to catch the details of the new face. Well, actually, it was the new member’s sheer presence, which helped Goldau see him.
Even if there was a single candle in that room, normal eyes would never have observed that obsidian armor clasped round Marble Bar. The black carapace covered the Force’s figure in near completion. All that revealed he was a living thing, and not a sculpture of old, was that single, glowing eye.
The iris burned a livid roar of blue, which dwarfed the meager candle above. Valdivia aside, Marble Bar was the next most knowledgeable slave in the whole of Meggido. And if he opposed Richter’s claims, everyone knew a debate was fast approaching.
After all, it was Marble Bar. Marble Bar the Heatwave.
And yet, to both Goldau and Kilauea’s astonishment, the blind bloke merely bellowed with a grin.
“Right you are, my dear man!” Richter quaked in laughter. “That’s why I have another rumor to hand out to your eager ears.”
Before Valdivia could continue, a burst of arguing and violence sounded from beyond the steel grate. All of the Forces in the Foyer snapped their necks to get a better view of what was happening. As expected, the Triplets were being horded into the Foyer next. It was only a matter of time before these girls would’ve been summoned. While Valdivia explained the second rumor he’d heard, Goldau fell into a realm of memories.
It was 1920 when they’d first met – Goldau and the Triplets, that is. The King had summoned Goldau Sturz to Kansu, China… a former enemy of his kingdom. Strict orders were given to Goldau – “go as far as you must.” Before he could make sense of the oblique command, Goldau was let off his leash, and set before innocent lives. Like so many times before, he wept in his heart for the wrong he had to commit on those numerous guiltless souls. In no time, his disorder – a unique Personality amongst each of the other Forces – kicked into play. Mere moments later, he’d lost all control of his actions and felt the beast inside commence its carnage. Cities fell, earth parted, and the havok went so far as to be called the day ‘When mountains walked.’ When his energy was spent to the last morsel, and all Goldau – finally back in control of his body – could do was lie in wait for his masters, he met the girls.
They were near identical little beauties, with each having only a different hair color to set them apart. From the same parents, they all shared the same surname – Sarna. Of the three selfsame Forces, Tip was the oldest and bearer of crimson hair. Second was Galvston with her golden tufts. And last in line was Suter, the kindest, blue-haired child. They were all so young, and the hardest to see when subjected to such deplorable conditions.
It was several days after the Kansu Incident that Goldau discovered just what those girls were doing in China. The King, as paranoid as ever, had wanted to send a potent message to the people. And to do that, he felt that additional destruction was required.
So he sent Tip Sarna the Typhoon. Galvston Sarna the Storm. Suter Sarna the Tornado.
Yes, this King was just that mad – he was willing to send a landslide and three storms to a single city.
“ – and that’s the second bit that’s been whizzing around these parts,” Valdivia said with a laugh.
Evidently, he’d just finished his next lecture. And even though he was blind to the eager eyes and perked up ears, Goldau was sure the old man was eager to share more.
While Valdivia delved into deeper scandal, Mister Sturz, looked at the full house before him. In the back of his mind, he knew it was the last time he’d see any of them.
The first person to fall under the Landslide’s gaze was none other than Valdivia. He was a Force of so much power, that his shackles were seven whole inches thicker than everyone else’s. Whenever he was set to work, the old man would be left on splendid meadows and forced to grope in desperation, to the food he’d so desperately seek. Each time his fists beat the soil, the earth would rumble and crack in protest. It was not Richter’s intent to harm the world. A world he loved dearly… But that was his curse to live through – and the King used it as savagely as he could.
Goldau’s eye moved to the Triplets next. They were innocence incarnate, those three little angels. But like the rest of the enslaved Forces, they were cursed with great potential, and the King’s knowledge of how to use it. In fact, they were the easiest to use, and thus, one of the most frequent forms of destruction on Earth. All one had to do was separate the three, and instantly, chaos would erupt in the wake of their futile, desperate searches.
After all, they were rarely placed close to one another.
Newcomer, Tanami Ashes came after. She was every bit as dangerous as Goldau -- if placed in the right area. She had much more stamina than the others, and was the King’s favorite method of draining his foes. Sometimes, Tanami alone would bring victory to the vulgarian leader. And every time, she would seem to have lost a bit of herself.
Tanami Ashes the Drought.
Hamber, Goldau spoke with his thoughts. You too…
The Landslide presently stared at the Famine. His name was Hamber El Bhar, and he was a mystery in every way. Hamber the Famine, was a plump being, which portrayed the most bizarre scenario of a slave. Unlike Richter who was starved before his gruesome ordeals, El Bahr was tempted. His Achilles’ Heel, was excessive appetite. The guards would toss a crump of some new food to Hamber’s feet and watch him scrape the dollops into his jaws. Once they were sure the weak-willed Force wanted more, they would set him out. As quick as lightning, the poor man would rob entire societies of their food and, sometimes, water.
But what stood above all this was Hamber El Bahr’s eternal inability to quell his insatiable hunger.
Again, Goldau was wrapped in a reminiscent hell. He could hear the screams. The frightened faces… And the single, looming cloud, which never passed. That was the death of his people in 79 AD.
He turned to the culprit of the event. The most innocent of the slaves. He was worn thin by both his age and declining health. Some of the other Forces still wondered how he was still around. He was a pacifist, Kilauea, and nothing could anger him. It was with this in mind that the King always paired Kilauea mons Etna the Volcano with some other Force. Because, tragically, Kilauea was only ever angered when he saw death.
An early raid of a weaker Force seemed to always do to the trick. Dolefully, Kilauea was the slayer of Goldau’s people, but inside, Goldau had always forgiven him.
“But even that trash is a lie,” said Valdivia, “and only I know the truth.”
“What is it, then?” Goldau groaned with all the grief of a dead man.
Waiting for a response, he once again noticed the glowing eyeball. Marble Bar was an mystery to the Landslide. The ways he was tortured and how effective his destruction was, never seemed to reach Goldau’s ears. Like the armor of darkness, which enshrouded him, Marble the Heatwave was a living enigma.
“What I speak of is The Last Act.” Valdivia smiled grimly. “When we must all play our part.”
Everyone’s eyes widened. The majority was surprised, but both the older Forces – Kilauea and Valdivia -- were sickened. They never thought the King would fall so low, so fast.
Creengh! No words were spoken as the wooden gate on the Foyer’s far wall was raised. The light of a dreary storm, sifted into the dank room, and helped the garrisons maltreat the slaved Forces even farther.
Like clockwork, the weakened powers were chained to each other in a single, shackled line and marched out of the Hypogeum.
Along the way, Goldau heard one of the despicable guards chuckle the word –