This story departs a little from “Doc’s Universe”. However, it had been announced that the game was closing, so I wanted to write an adventure that also included a number of my league & forum friends, so it has departed from the original idea in my head for this particular tale. Maybe one day I’ll rewrite it as I’d originally intended.
Zomborg was another character I created, a Neanderthal that had been reanimated by evil science and enhanced with cybernetic implants. I guess part Terminator, part Hulk, part Star Trek Borg.
The Salvation of The Zomborg
“Excellent news.” He said as he briskly walked across the study, “Which story?”
“The succubus.” I replied “The Malevolence.”
“Ah yes. The Malevolence. Well if you don’t mind, I will leave you to your own devices, there is plenty here to keep you occupied, I have some rather urgent matters that I must attend to. “ He smiled & with that walked across to the far end of the study, moved a couple of books from a shelf, revealing a keyhole. From his pocket he pulled out a key, put it in the lock & turned. To my astonishment, the bookcase swung forward, revealing a staircase. “Good day to you sir” were his parting words & he disappeared down the flight of stairs, closing the door/bookcase behind him.
I returned to the journal from Sister Fister, opened where I had left off & began to read again.
(From the Journals of Lady Cecilia Fitzroy-Herbert)
On an icy plateau, a lone hominid collapsed exhausted & wounded. Had he stood upright he would have been approaching seven feet tall. A giant for his time and species, which more normally even six feet tall would still have been a prime specimen of Homo-Sapien Neanderthalensis. And he was broad, a physique of pure muscle, even the most physical of Olympian homo sapiens in modern times could not come close to rival. He had spent that day, like most others hunting with others of his kind to take back to the village to feed his clan. But he was never to arrive home. Instead, due to his injuries, sustained while hunting, he exhaled his last breath and died. A small family of lynx-like cats came upon his body that night, and half-heartedly began to gnaw at his corpse, but his flesh was already freezing solid in the cold. By morning that nights heavy snow had covered, & the wind had drifted over him so much that no-one would have known he had even passed there.
The Present Day (Early 21st Century)
Over 5,000 miles away and 350,000 years later Gaylord and I were responding to a fax we had received. This time our talents had been called for by an unassuming middle-aged man, Victor Smith, an American mortician who it transpires was also a bit of a fan-boy of a one Dr Fulkherth, most recently of Superhero City. In trying to emulate his hero’s work, he’d also acquired some of the Dr’s research papers, & was trying to recreate (on a budget!!!), one of the Dr’s more outlandish experiments.
He had somewhat nefariously managed to acquire the frozen remains of a Neanderthal and was undertaking some “extracurricular” work of his own. He had busied himself for some months previously. Meticulously he had fashioned, and with the precision of the obsessive, painstakingly fitted new cybernetic limbs to the damaged corpse. These prosthetics had then been hooked up to an old mainframe he had had stolen, & he had painstakingly created the punch cards required to program them. By some miracle, in short his experiment had actually been a success, but the creature he had re-animated, (And named “Zomborg”), had very quickly proven far too strong to be restrained in his impromptu “laboratory”. Gaylord and I had been engaged to capture “Zomborg” before the authorities did & this man got in deeper trouble for his meddling.
As far as tracking him, this was perhaps one of the easier jobs we’d undertaken, after all a seven foot tall Neanderthal with cybernetic limbs does tend to leave a bit of a trail of an inadvertent destruction behind him and also stand out from the crowd.
Within a matter of days we had followed him to the out skirts of Superhero City. A rather unique metropolis, which attracted some of the most “unusual” people imaginable. SHC was a modern day Mecca for those individuals who through natural mutation, or by being exceeding rich and with nothing better to spend their wealth on, buy physical enhancements, or by just sheer bad luck & freak accident (radioactive insect bites seem to be a popular one in this category), have gained extraordinary superhuman powers. Rather cruelly Gaylord referred to the populace as the biggest concentration of side-show freaks known to man. I chastised him, reminding him of our nature & said that we ought to fit in well then. He said nothing, raising one eyebrow just glared at me. This was, however, going to make the task of finding Zomborg somewhat harder, as he’d sought refuge in the one place he stood a chance of blending in…
It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and we were hot on the trail of Zomborg in one of the slummier districts of SHC when we set upon from behind by a gang of street youths. In any other city in the world, this would not have proven to be a problem with our unnatural strengths. However, we were taken by surprise and these young thugs also, so it appeared had superhuman abilities too. A vicious fight ensued, which neither side was apparently going to win, we were in a standoff and cornered down a seedy alleyway.
It was then that our proverbial “Cavalry” arrived, an ear piercing Wolf’s howl echoed from the main street followed by the shouting in a Scottish accent, “I’ll bite their fookin’ ankles, the wee bastads”.
Round the corner came three figures, the same voice yelling “Kira, Ace, aren’t these the wee feckers we told to nae be roun’ here n’more?”
With that, the street gang looked over their shoulder, & realising that between The Doc, myself & these strangers, they were outnumbered, and fled.
“See Kira, tol’ya they’ll nae mess wi’ tha Bad Mune Wolf”. The leader then looked directly at me, “Ya’alrite doll? C’mon we bes’ get ya and the big man here oot a bit pronto, c’mon, lets tekem te tha Bootcamp.”
Doc & I brushed ourselves off, & introduced ourselves. “Aye, well I’m Bad Moon Wolf, this feller here, wi’ the Ninja moves, he’s Kira, & rockboy there, he’s Ace, pleased to meet yoos”.
They led us for no more than ten minutes, the streets not becoming anymore discernibly salubrious than the alley where we’d met. We stopped outside a run-down old disused YMCA building.
Bad Moon Wolf led the way in, “Welcome ta our Bootcamp. Spawn? Ya here Deathspawn? Come & meet some new guests”
Out of the gloom a shadowy figured stepped forward & bid us welcome,
“Ya better tek these nice folks ta meet tha Brotherhood, Spawn,” & with that, Kira, Ace & The Wolf, left. We followed the Deathspawn down a flight of shabby stairs & through a steel door. Immediately the surrounding, whilst still stark where much better kept, clean, better lit.
“This is the real centre of our organisation, the ground level building is just for show, to keep unwanted interest away.” We were led down another flight of stairs, “This was all excavated out from the old SHC undercity, it serves us well as a main base of operation,”. The winding corridor led to a lift. Spawn pressed the down button & the low whiring grumbling of the mechanics of the lift indicating it was coming filled the air. We stepped into the lift, the doors closed behind us, & we felt the lift shift down. ‘ping’, the bell indicated we’d reached our destination, the doors opened & we stepped out, the choice of two corridors lay before us, Spawn pointed to the left one, ”Down there is the Ice Cavern, that’s where the Penguins are” We could hear the raucous sound of honking & laughter echoing up on the chill from down there.
I looked at him puzzled, “Penguins?”
“Well they’re not penguins really, they’re just a bunch of dumb asses who think they’re penguins. Dress like penguins and everything. Completely batshit crazy mothers to be honest, but they’re great fighters, I mean these guys are psychonuts when it come to a fight, and that’s what’s needed round here so we let ‘em stay. Just take ‘em a couple of buckets of raw fish-heads & bacon once a day, & they seem to be happy. Just a shame they haven’t figured out how to use the bathroom yet, some poor bastard has to clear up their guano once a week. Oh yeah & the one they call chilli, keep away from his porno stash is all I’m sayin’”
Under his breath and through gritted teeth I heard Gaylord mutter “freakshow” & I threw him a glare.
Deathspawn indicated the other passage, & let us down it. We entered another cavern, the floors neatly smoothed. & a large glass corridor suspended from the ceiling. There, waiting to greet us was a another group.
“Doc, Sister, This is the Brotherhood of the Scout.” We shook hands with a Blonde Lizardman. He spoke with a slight lisp.
“Hello, welcome. I am Lathertine,” he smiled “You’ve already met Death-thpawn here, but let me introduth you to the retht of uth. The thurfing hippie gentleman ith the Dood. Thith thuavely drethed blue chap ith The Blue Dodol. The Viking at the back ith “Bertherker” Harald, & bethide him ith Plathmathtorm. Then in the gantry there’th Thadowcat & Throcky, & on guard duty today guarding our datathenter there is Thling, Huggy & Burning Ithe”
We greeted each in turn & the foremost six led us past Sling into an office complex. As we walked, Lacertine continued to explain.
“Thith fair thity of ourth, ath you already have gathered I imagine, is thomewhat of a magnet for mithfitth that are shunned by thothiety. Conthequently, hath a thriving population of what one might call a-hem ‘Thircuth freakth’ “ He glanced at the Doc, “Thith population hath become factioned into groupth, that are regularly fighting one another, over territory, turf warth and the like. We are one thuch group, & thee ourthelveth ath vigilante’th keeping thith neighbourhood thafe. I believe you met Bad Moon, Athe9, & Kira earlier who were out on patrol,”
He led us into a meeting room, and the eight of us sat down. “Anyway, enough about uth, pleath, tell uth what bringth you here.”
Between us, Doc & I explained a bit about ourselves and our mission to find Zomborg. PlasmaStorm piped up, “Well if he’s loose in our neck of the woods here, we can probably help. We have a network of over 100 hero’s here in the city sure we can track them down,”.
“Good plan” said The Dood, “Dodol, put a call out”. Dodol smiled & reached for his tablet computer and tapped a few lines. “Done.” He said.
Within minutes, the tablet was pinging back replies of confirmed and unconfirmed sightings from across the city. Dodol grinned, “Efficiency personified. The most recent sighting appears to be from The Libertarian & Texas Tuff, over on the east-side.”
Without being asked Plasma leapt up, “Come on, I’ll take you there” He reached for a set of car keys, and looking at the Dood, said “Mind if I borrow this?”
“Sure,” The Dood replied “Just don’t char the seats like last time man”
Plasma led us back to the lift, bawdy noise & honking could be heard coming up from the ice cavern,
“…Gaylord Barecock… What sort of a name is that?!?…” followed by more peals of laughter and honking “…Sister Fister… Yeah we KNOW what she likes…phnaar” Individual voices were drowned out by more laughter.
Plasma stepped into the lift, & looked at us uncomfortably, “News travels fast round here.”
We stepped back into the dilapidated YMCA building upstairs. There, slumped in the corner was an inebriated body in a gasmask “Don’t mind him, he just comes here to sleep it off and avoid the drunk tank. FJ will be along in the morning no doubt to pick him up” said Plasma storm. The figure rolled over in his sleep, muttering, “Asshat, Douchebag.”
We got into The Doods’ hotrod. Plasma turned they key & it roared into life. He tapped on the screen on the inboard navigation system. Plasma engaged first gear, gunned the engine & released the clutch. We sped away in cloud of burnt rubber & screeching tyres.
Plasma’s redlined the car across town, following the beep on the navigation system. Plasma explained, “Texas has activated his tracker, we’re closing in on that.” Quickly we arrived at our destination. We’d arrived at a large department store already cordoned off by the police. A large crowd had already gathered to the view the spectacle.
We stepped under the plastic tape “Like THAT would stop the Zomborg” I said. As we approached the building an officer stepped forward “Ma’am, Sir’s I’m afraid you can’t go there.” Plasma looked at him “Ah Mr Storm sir, sorry I didn’t realised… carry on”.
The shop front had been smashed & smoke was already billowing from one of the broken windows. We climbed in through the broken glass.
“So, Gaylord, what’s the plan?” I asked.
“Quite simple my dear” he said, and reached for his gun.
“No! you can’t,” I replied, “You can’t kill just kill him.”
“Why not? It’s what we usually do. Never fear my dear, I’m not going to kill him.”
He reached down to his ammunition belt & pulled out some cartridges. No ordinary ones. They were clear & contained a luminous orange liquid.
“What’s he doing?” Plasma whispered.
“It’s OK” I said, “You’ll see.”
Zomborg had gone up the escalator, leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Doc followed, loading his rifle with the specialised ammunition. A cloud of orange gas billowed down.
I put my hand on Plasma’s arm, “Better stay back.”
From upstairs we heard a loud roar, two shots were fired then a loud crash, were followed by quiet.
“It’s perfectly safe now, you can come up.” Doc called from upstairs.
Plasma & I hurried up. There, prone on the ground was the massive inert body of Zomborg, with Doc standing over him, a scarf pulled over his nose & mouth. “Tranquiliser gas cartridges, he’ll be out for maybe a day, & groggy for a few days after that” he explained. We collected Zomborg up, & took him back to the abandoned YMCA building.
The brotherhood, Doc & I peered through a glass window into a Laboratory. The Blue Dodol approached the window & spoke to us through an intercom.
“It’s OK I think, his body looks like it was damaged by the implants, I don’t think they’re removable without killing him. The programming that’s been used is pretty crude though, if I can find a compatible interface I think I can probably do something about that. Leave it with me.”
Blue Dodol worked into long into the night alternating between one of the consoles of the Brotherhoods main computer cluster, & the operating table, soldering iron, wires, cables and tools in hand.
In the small hours he emerged. “It’s done!” he exclaimed, “I managed it, I’ve managed to hack in & re-write his main operating system & command codes, it’ll take some adjusting & tweaking, but he’s going to be OK.”
The Dood addressed the Doc “So what do you plan to do with him?” he asked.
“To be completely honest, I’d not got that far, but it’s becoming very apparent that perhaps the best place for him might be here with you chaps.”
Lacertine beamed “You mean we can keep him?” Oh exthellent! I think he’ll make a marvellouth member of the team.”
“Will mean I can make some more refinements,” said Blue Dodol, “You know I’ve done some research, Neanderthals’ reputation of thuggish stupidity was quite undeserved, they were quite intelligent, but their voicebox wasn’t much more developed that than of a modern Gorilla, but I think I can do something about that, with this little box of tricks & some more coding, I think I can get a much tighter interface between his organic nervous system & the artificial implants, give him his own voice box, & get him working better than ever. I’ll be able to program a basic vocabulary for him too.”
“Exthellent.” The Lizard added, “Plathma, once thith ith all done, perhapth you could take on thome thpeech therapy & elocution lethons…”
“That’s settled then,” Doc said, “we’ll be off.” & before there could be any protests, Gaylord & I beat a hasty retreat. As we exited, We head the now familiar voice of the Dood, “Now Plasma, I need to talk to you about the scorch marks on my drivers seat…”
We headed back to the private runway where I’d left the learjet & settled down for the long flight home…