The Super Wizard From Space is caught in tight, knotted agony. His gut feels like gravel, rolling and scrapping and banging all against itself. He lays on the ground, clutching his middle. He instinctively absorbs ambient sunlight to try burning the foreign thing inside him. It only makes the sensation worse.
Andy sits nearby, in good cheer despite nursing injuries of his own. He surveys the landscape around them… or the lack of it. "I must admit, I’ve always wanted to know how my space-kung-fu martial skills would stand against a Super Wizard’s science-sorcery. Alas, your power is exponentially greater than my own humble abilities while you wear a cosmic crown. Look at this. At all this. You’ve turned miles of ancient bedrock into an ocean of magma. You’ve torn this small world’s sky so badly, it’s suffering the greatest - and possibly last - lightening storm of its existence. You’ve smashed this planet beyond recognition. You wield power many magnitudes beyond my imagining. I could never stand a chance against you. I would be rice paper in a hurricane.
“That pain you’re feeling? That’s the sun. Specifically, it’s the sunlight you took in to cause all this. My allies have altered this system’s star. They’ve done something to its… wavelength? Or its radiation? I’m not sure, the details are beyond me. The effect, I’m told, is like a particularly excruciating poison. For that, I apologize.”
The Wizard could sense it now. The fusion he drew in, boiling inside. His body, frantically squeezing against itself. His veins feel like they’re bursting from the inside.
Andy stands gingerly and examines his arm, twisted loose of its shoulder. Taking deep breathes, he makes a sudden effort and pushes the limb back into its socket. CRICT. “Ow! Ah …oh. Yes, that is so better.” He swings his arms in large circles. “Much better. Sadly, I cannot bring you similar relief. Circumstance and stubbornness have taken us both down this sour road. ‘No sky. No earth. But still, the snowflake falls.’ ” He approaches the Wizard. “…but I can at least free you from your burden, as you once did for me.”
Before he’s conciously aware of doing it, the Wizard pushes up off the ground and flings himself off the planet.
He doesn’t bother with direction. He just launches away. Away from that orbit and from that star and… just… away. He lets the closest gravity well catch hold and drag him toward it.
He only gets flickers of sensation outside the pain. The emptiness of space. The warm embrace of a new atmosphere. And finally, an abrupt slam into a hard, abrasive surface… the next planet over.
He reads its magnetic field: bigger, thicker, denser. But still too close to that septic sunlight. Like millions of burning pins, flung across space to dig into his pores and burrow in his middle. Hard to think. Can’t stand to open his eyes. Feels like he could throw up his entire innards.
He staggers to his feet and gropes for the next planet or asteroid or anything. Anything, so long as it’s farther from the star. The second he finds a magnetic field, he flings himself into space again.
A long, blind tumble through darkness. The flushed feeling of re-entry. A slapping, smacking fall past blurring greens and browns. A booming thud in a soft dark terrain.
And shade. Wonderful shade.
Finally able to force his eyes open, he finds himself in an impact crater within a primeval jungle. Rich black soil, blown out around him. Monstrous, towering trees stretching higher than he can make out. A dense, overlapping canopy made up of leaves armlengths wide. What little light filtering all the way down to him is split and refracted and thinned by layers and layers of vegetation. Finally, his body has a chance to burn through more poisoned sunlight than it’s taking in…
Leaves and branches above rustle with new weight. Shading is eyes, the Wizard looks up through the trees. He doesn’t see anything… but that doesn’t mean Andy wasn’t there.
“Take a moment,” comes the monk’s voice, carried on the wind, “Rest, if you need to. I’ve no desire to be cruel.”
“I don’t know you well. Nor your brother. But I knew your father. He told me of your family and where they came from and what they stand for. I refuse to believe you’re doing this for Genovefa Buzz’s sake…”
“This is not for her sake, no.”
“Then your allies must be Super Wizards From Space. Only my own people have the knowledge and capability to alter a star’s structure in so specific a manner.”
“You are correct, again. Two representatives of your illustrious super-race are with us in this very star system; they observe our encounter. All we do and everything we speak. They’re allowing me this opportunity to resolve this peacefully.”
“‘Peacefully’. Which means they’re still trying to kill me. They’re not sure the cosmic tournament will do the job. They’re desperate enough to ally with enemies like Buzz… and their enemies are desperate enough to ally with them.”
“They have their reasons. We all have our reasons.”
The Wizard gets back onto his feet. “Excuses. And I’m sick of hearing them from you.”
“Hm. Very well. Are you ready?”
He nods. He might fall over at any time, but Andy had been more than generous.
Dull blows echo from far above. A rapid, repetitive thud thud thud against the surrounding trunks. The Wizard tries to follow the staccato, but it moves too fast and too high. The sound goes around and around him, two times, three times, four times, coming lower and lower, before finally halting at the far edge of his crater.
Andy’s is barely visible, a outline of a shadow. He stands at the base of one of the behemothic trees, his iron club held high above his head.
The Wizard casts a shield around himself. The poisoned fusion moves like broken glass under his skin, but he has to protect himself against another assault.
Andy doesn’t charge. He doesn’t advance at all. He swings his club down against the tree. “Woodpecker’s Barrage.”
A hundred branches SNAP with a single report. Timber and blades drop in a mass. The dense canopy vanishes. Sunlight cleaves into the Wizard again.
A sudden flash of light! Blinding pain! His shield fails.
Andy swiftly follows with a flurry of strikes. “Avalanche Of The Dragon!”
CRACK, against the Wizard’s ribs. CRACK, against his arm. CRCK his shoulder.
The Wizard throws fusion out blindly. An explosion of fire and wind. Hopeless. He can’t see anything to aim at.
CRCK at his back. CRRK, at the hip. CRRK, in the back of the knee. And he buckles.
He pries his eyes open just enough to see Andy’s hazy form looming over him. The club swings in a long, deep arc and connects with his skull with a detonation. “Cast Out The Sun!”
CKRRMM! …the sound of the impact bowls over the forest. The black soil under Andy’s feet is crushed down to black glass.
The Wizard is sent tumbling through space. Clammy blood cascades from his mouth and ears, dribbling a hemic trail across the black emptiness. Sightless and senseless, he pitches between gravities, trying to stay concious.
The weight of the next planet catches him, and he plunges at it. The slamming pressure of entry focuses him enough to orient himself, slows him enough to land with some dignity… but then, whatever he has left is… gone.
The world around him is an expansive red desert. The sky above is clear and cloudless. There’s nothing here but the stabbing light and the sensation of sharp fire.
He so tired and so weak… he can’t even stay on his feet anymore. He falls forward onto his knees, barely catching himself with his hands. Even breathing the thin air is laborious agony.
A shadow falls over his stooped form. When he looks up, he finds Andy looking down on him. “O prince of friends, you are gone again,” the grey monk says, soberly, “I hear them sighing after you.”
Andy Dharma reaches down and removes the douli from The Super Wizard From Space’s brow.