Marvel Team-Up #3 featuring 3-D Man, Ghost Rider, Shriker, and NYX

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Marvel Team-Up #3 featuring 3-D Man, Ghost Rider, Shriker, and NYX

Post  Nik Havert on Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:18 am

Fred Cogan, manager of the of Popeye's Chicken on New York City's Avenue C between Third and Fourth, thought the man with the flaming skull head could use a sweet tea.

The Ghost Rider and the former Avenger known as 3-D Man stood outside the Popeye's Chicken while a man in a Toronto Blue Jays shirt spoke with them. Cogan thought bringing the Ghost Rider and the others some sweet tea was the least he could do since 3-D Man and the man in the Blue Jays shirt had just fought a losing battle against men in black wielding knives who kidnapped a girl by dragging her into a shadow. Cogan bagged up some popcorn chicken, some biscuits, and three sweet teas and headed out to greet them.

"The name," Ghost Rider said to 3-D Man, "Abd-el-Hazred...It is familiar. Old. Ancient, in fact."

3-D Man pulled a small smartphone out of a hidden pouch on his waist. "Let me make a call and see what I can dig up."

The Ghost Rider turned his death's head-face to Jack "Shriker" D'Auria, the longtime friend of Danny Ketch - the Ghost Rider's alter ego - and a martial arts expert and super hero in his home country of Canada.

"What more can you tell me of these men?" Ghost Rider asked.

"They were good fighters, but they had a smug look about them. They looked like a tough gang following a tougher boss. Take out the boss and they wouldn't fight with such confidence."

Fred Cogan approached with the food and drinks. "Excuse me. I thought you might - "

The two men turned to face him, and Fred Cogan got a straight look at the Ghost Rider's face. He looked square into the black holes in the skull where eyes should have been. They were darker than night, darker than the bottom of a well, darker than the basement of his childhood home where he knew monsters lived. He couldn't move. He couldn't speak. He saw nothing but that blackness.

And then he saw him offering extra shifts to Allie so he could admire her backside and flirt with her. He saw himself taking the twenty dollars from yesterday's till that he hadn't paid back yet, he saw himself snapping at his wife for making and slightly burning a frozen pizza for dinner after she'd been on the go all day taking the twins to and from tennis camp, he saw himself rushing to get off the phone with his mother calling from the nursing home so he could finish watching the Yankees game.

The longer he stared, the more sins he'd committed came rushing back to him. He began to tremble. He dropped the bag of food and the drinks. He began gibbering and the color drained from his face.

Jack nudged his skeletal friend. "Danny, you'd better let him go before he pops."

Fred Cogan turned and ran before the image of him feeling up that snoring drunk girl at a party in 2001 completely filled his mind. The Ghost Rider whipped out a chain hanging from his belt. The chain extended along magical links that could reach further than they looked. The chain lashed around Fred's waist and he was yanked back and into the unforgiving clutch of the Ghost Rider's bony hands.

"You will pay back the money," the Ghost Rider said as he looked into Fred's terrified eyes. "You will promote the Allie girl and never work with her again. And you will honor your wife."

Fred Cogan nodded as he made strange sputtering sounds. The Ghost Rider released him and he ran back into the restaurant. He put twenty dollars into the safe, ordered a dozen roses for his wife, made them a reservation at the Italian place she liked, and filled out the paperwork for Allie's promotion in less than half an hour.

3-D Man walked back to Jack and the Ghost Rider as he put his smartphone back in his waist pouch.

"I put in a call to the Avengers and asked about Abd-el-Hazred. He's been dead for hundreds of years. He was a magician. They called him the Mad Arab."

The Ghost Rider tensed. "The creator of the Necronomicon."

"That book from those Evil Dead movies?" Jack asked. "Seriously?"

"It is no joke," Ghost Rider said. "It is a book written in the blood of many sacrificial victims and bound in their flesh. It is a tome of great power and evil. The Mad Arab was one of the most powerful sorcerers to walk the Earth."

"That's what the Avengers database said," 3-D Man said. "He was last seen just a few years ago in Madripoor. He gave Wolverine a beatdown but was forced into another dimension."

Jack snapped his fingers. "That Arab in the coal-black suit. That must've been him."

"No," 3-D Man said. "When I was possessed, that guy spoke of Abd-el-Hazred in the third person, and it seemed like he and his gang were getting ready for something."

The three men looked at each other.

"They're going to bring him back," Jack said.

"We must stop this," Ghost Rider said. "Abd-el-Hazred has consorted with ancient demons. Who knows what he may bring back with him?"

"But why kidnap those teenagers?" 3-D Man asked. "What do they have to do with it?"

The flames on Ghost Rider's skull-head flared bright. "Blood sacrifices. What else?"

*****

Kiden Nixon's eyes didn't want to open. The eyelids were far too heavy. She forced herself to do it, and the effort seemed like she was lifting two pianos off her face. She was in a large empty flat. She could see the Hudson outside one of the far windows. Her friends were all there, and, like her, bound and gagged. She was chained to the wall with a collar around her neck and her hands cuffed behind her back. She tried to stand, but was too tired to muster the strength. She wondered if it was the after-effects of being shot with the dart by the mystery men.

Bobby Soul was tied naked to a surgery table in the middle of the room His brother, Lil Bro, and her other friend, Tatiana Caban, were to her left. Lil Bro was snoring. He and Bobby were blindfolded. Tatiana strained against her bonds, and someone had bandaged her right elbow. Bobby didn't move. Kiden couldn't even tell if he were breathing.

"You're awake. Good."

Kiden and Tatiana looked to their left as a handsome Arab in a jet black suit walked into the room. He carried a thick book. Four of the men who had attacked them on the street followed him. One of those men wheeled an IV stand with him upon which hung a plastic bag containing a small amount of blood.

"Let us go," she said, but it came out as "Leg ug guh." through the gag.

The Arab walked over to Kiden and stroked her face. She jerked away from him.

"I was worried that your ability to slow and hasten your place in time would've caused you not be conscious for the ceremony when combined with the tranquilizers. We need all of you conscious. Well, apart from him."

He gestured back to Bobby, who still hadn't moved. Kiden and Tatiana looked at each other, their eyes wide with fear.

"He is not dead," the Arab said. "In fact, he will soon begin a new life, as will the two of you. You will be the first concubines to Abd-el-Hazred here on Earth."

Kiden shrunk further away from him.

He chuckled. "Oh, no, my dear. You will not be a concubine to me. I am not Abd-el-Hazred. I am but his humble servant, the Grand Vizier for his coming rule. I found all of you through this." He held up the book, which looked like it was bound in dirty, oil-soaked leather. "The Necromomicon. Our master wrote this book. One of the spells within it gave us the way to bring him back from his prison beyond this world. It helped me to find a boy who can see the other side and act as a beacon." He pointed to Lil Bro, who had awakened and was stock still on his knees trying to listen to everything around him.

"It helped me find a girl whose blood can make its owner change form." The Grand Vizier pointed at Tatiana, who looked at the bandage on her arm.

He pointed at Bobby. The men in black were putting the IV into Bobby's right arm. "A boy who can project his astral self into others, so the reverse must be true. This boy is a prime shell for the astral self of Abd-el-Hazred."

The Grand Vizier, whose suit seemed to be made of swirling shadows, smiled down at Kiden. "And it helped me find a girl who can manipulate time and space." He twirled some of her pink-streaked hair in his fingers. She tried to nudge him away with her head. "I wish I could keep you for myself. Perhaps Abd-el-Hazred will let me have you when he tires of you."

He turned away before Kiden could headbutt him in the groin. He opened the Necronomicon and began speaking in a language that even Kiden knew wasn't Arabic. He pulled the blindfold off Lil Bro and then put his hand on Lil Bro's forehead. Lil Bro's eyes went blank and his body went rigid. A sick green light glowed from his eyes and then from the Grand Vizier's eyes. He turned to point at Kiden as he continued to chant. She felt something tug at her chest and her spine straightened. All breath left her, but yet she didn't feel she needed to breathe. All things before her turned into weird green light, and she felt time slowing and warping around her. Then, she felt something else, something dark, wrong, and patient - evily, malevolently patient, clawing at the edge of her mind.

One of the Grand Vizier's men hear a storm approaching in the distance. The cultist thought it must be the power of Abd-el-Hazred breaking back into this world. He stepped to the window to see it happen. He did not expect to see a motorcycle with wheels of fire driving up the side of the building.

The Ghost Rider's motorcycle burst through the window, knocking the cultist down and breaking his right hip under its front wheel. 3-D Man and Shriker, now dressed in his full blue and gray ninja uniform-like costume, jumped off the back of the motorcycle as the Grand Vizier and the rest of the cultists scrambled backward. Kiden had no idea how 3-D Man had found her, but the adrenaline surge she had upon seeing the heroes brought her to her feet.

"Rider, take the boss. Shriker, keep those clowns off us. I'll get the kids," 3-D Man said as he ran for Kiden.

The Grand Vizier pointed at the Ghost Rider. "Your powers are nothing compared to what is to come, Rider!" He curled his free hand around an invisible handle. Light beamed from between his fingers and grew into a hatchet made of the same eerie light. He rushed the Ghost Rider, mystical hatchet in one hand and Necronomicon in the other.

Shriker pulled the pair of nunchaku off his waist and cracked the closest cultist across his face. He front kicked the second in the chest and through a stairwell door behind him. The third ran for another room. Shriker threw a shuriken at the man, but he turned the corner just in time and the throwing star stuck in the wall.

3-D Man broke the chain off Kiden's collar and then snapped her handcuffs. He ran to Titania and did the same. She pulled off the gag and flexed her jaw before speaking. "How did you find us?"

3-D Man broke Lil Bro's bonds. The autistic boy smiled at him, tapped his own forehead, and then tapped 3-D Man's. 3-D Man smiled back at the two girls. "I got his message."

The Ghost Rider jumped off his motorcycle as the Grand Vizier's mystical hatchet sliced off one of the handlebars. The Ghost Rider whipped his chain to knock the Necronomicon from the Vizier's hand. The Vizier stopped to reach for it, and that was all the Ghost Rider needed.

The punch knocked the Vizier through the wall behind him. Silence fell upon the room as the three heroes and the three teenagers looked at each other. They all had the same thought - That was too easy.

Hundreds of bats flew out of the hole in the wall made by the Vizier's body. The bats swarmed everyone but Bobby Soul, who still hadn't moved on the surgery table. Shriker struck at the bats with his nunchaku, 3-D attempted to shield the teenagers, and the Ghost Rider burned any bat he could reach with magical fire.

"Get out of here!" 3-D Man yelled to the teenagers. He pointed to the stairwell door. Kiden and Lil Bro started to run, but Tatiana grabbed a bat from the air and scratched its back until it bled.

"What the hell are you doing?" 3-D Man asked her. "Run!"

3-D Man stepped back as the Latina's features changed. Her muscles rippled and her ears and teeth grew to sharp points. Leather wings grew from her wrists to her hips. She'd become some sort of bat-girl.

"I can help," Tatiana growled.

3-D Man had no time to argue as a fireball blasted out of the hole in the wall and struck the Ghost Rider square in the chest. The blast shot the skull-headed spirit of vengeance out the window behind him. Five more cultists, including the one who'd escaped Shriker, came around the corner. They were armed with knives, pistols, and one shotgun.

The Grand Vizier stepped from the hole in the wall. The bats swirled around him like a protective tornado. He gestured toward the Necronomicon and it flew to his outstretched hand. His eyes glowed with eerie green light and weird black tendrils sprouted from his suit.

"Now," he said through broken teeth, "I will make you all suffer beyond imagining."

"No!" A voice boomed from the center of the room.

Bobby Soul stood upon the surgery table. Every shadow in the room seemed to drift toward him. His eyes were a horrible, dull yellow. His voice was not his own.

"I, Abd-el-Hazred, will decide their fate!"

TO BE CONTINUED!

Nik Havert

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We're all sinners

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:21 am

I loved what you did with Ghost rider in the beginning there. Turns out he's good for more than just lashing guys to pieces and riding up the side of buildings. Nice work!
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Paul E. Schultz

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Indeed we are.

Post  Nik Havert on Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:35 pm

Thanks for noticing. I thought, "No one could look the Ghost Rider in the eyes for long without getting a bit of that 'penance stare' of his."

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Re: Marvel Team-Up #3 featuring 3-D Man, Ghost Rider, Shriker, and NYX

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