The Super Wizard From Space #6

"The Secret Of The Silver Skull Machine, Part 1" by

In the ruins of an ancient city of pillars, an alien octopus
pointed eight dangerous looking ray-guns at a white-bearded
hermit. "You best be giving me that there data-cylinder, Gavrilo,
or I'll vaporize you right where you stand, I done swear it!"

The hermit was on his knees, clutching the data-cylinder close to
his chest. His mouth was wet with blood from the beatings he had
already taken, and though his eyes shone with the fiery glow of a
red sun, his assailant seems unworried. "Damn you, Pete! I should
never had told you my secret name."

"Split milk and all that, partner," the alien octopus sneered as
he used the barrel of one of the ray-guns to push back the brim of
his ten-gallon hat. "Shucks, we both knew it would come down to
something like this. I reckon I just popped you one before you had
the chance to pop me. Ha. Now..." all eight ray-hammers of the
ray-guns clicked back in series, "...that data-cylinder, if you do

The hermit's eyes burned a long moment, casting an gaze around the
pillared city and the lone rocket-ship they had come in. But the
light died out from them. As his shoulders slumped, he finally
rolled the data-cylinder toward the octopus.

Cephalo Pete holstered one of the ray-guns and picked up the
data-cylinder with a gloved tentacle. Manipulating the buttons on
the side with dexterous suckers, he was able to activate the
cylinder, filling the air between the two with a three dimensional
map of a distant star system and a very specific planet marked
with a red X.

"At last," he said with relish, "the hidden grave of King
Argentum!" With satisfied glee, he turned off the map and tucked
the cylinder in a pouch on his belt. He glanced one final time at
the dejected hermit and tossed him a laugh. "Ha! Don't look so
glum, Gavrilo. All your worries will be wiped clean away once I
use the silver skull machine!"

Gavrilo looked up, the defeat in his eyes poorly hiding a growing

"Don't you follow me none," Cephalo Pete warned the hermit as he
backed his way to the open ramp of the rocket-ship. "I see you try
to come after me before I done made warp speed, I'll use the
ship's space-lasers to fricassee you right outta outer space!" He
kept half the ray-guns trained on the hermit for good measure as
he climbed aboard the vessel and closed the airlock.

Gavrilo only had a moment to see Cephalo Pete give him a wink and
a mock salute from the pilot's portal before the rocket-ship
blasted off into the sky. It trailed fire and smoke behind it as
it raised higher and higher into the clouds and, just before it
shrunk to an imperceivable dot, it winked away into warp speed
with a green flare.

Gavrilo raised both arms into the air, threw his head back, and
howled in frustration. So close! So close to fixing everything
only to be backstabbed!

He curled into a fetal ball, weeping. Alone on this dead planet
amongst the pillars of this dead city, he wept. For hours, well
past the sunset, there was only darkness and his sobs.

Some time late in the alien night, the hermit realized he was no
longer alone. Perhaps the eight-armed coward had come back to
finish him off. Gavrilo stood up, and flung his mud-splattered
blue cloak over one shoulder, revealing the faded blue-and-gold
suit of his super-civilization. He rose a foot in the air, a pale
white glow of science sorcerous power flaring out from him.
Lightning arced out from his palms, ricocheting off the remains of
the marble pillars. The very air around him groaned, as if reality
could not contain the sheer power being concentrated in a single

"Come out from the shadows, damn you!" the hermit wizard
challenged mightily!

 From behind a nearby pillar stepped out the Super Wizard From
Space. He wore the same blue-and-gold suit, though his was clean
and well maintained. The small ethereal crown hovered above his
head, ghostly white, its light outshone by the hermit wizard's
outbursts. "Hello Gavrilo," the super wizard greeted him, holding
a hand in front of him to shield his squinting eyes.

"Oh," the hermit wizard said, floating down to the ground. The
power faded from him, the light faded from him, soon he was just a
sad old man again. He frowned under his unkempt white beard, and
the many lines under his eyes seemed to age him a thousand
space-decades. "It's you. How did you find me?"

"I asked around. It wasn't too hard. Most people are willing to
tell me what I want to know. And everyone remembers you." The
super wizard shook his head, disappointed. "You know as well as I
do that once one of our super-race tells anyone our secret name,
our powers are completely useless against that person.

"And you've traded away your name so much that there is not a
sentient being alive that doesn't know Gavrilo, the Hermit Wizard
 From Space."

Gavrilo gave an angry bark and waved his hand. "Bah! If you've
come to throw my mistakes back in my face, you can just leave. I
don't need you of all people reminding me of bad decisions."

"No, friend," the super wizard said, walking up to him and placing
a hand on the hermit's sad shoulder, "I've actually come for your

A curious, suspicious look was the only reply.

"Our race is part of a tournament. A cosmic tournament of
space-champions, but I haven't been informed. I've been ambushed
once already, I need you to tell me what you know before I am
unwittingly trapped again."

There was a long silence, then the straggly white beard scowled.
"And what will you do for me?" the hermit wizard asked.

The super wizard took his hand off Gavrilo's shoulder and seemed
both unhappy and unsurprised. "I know about the silver skull

Gavrilo's eyes widened with eagerness. He grabbed the super
wizard's golden collar and cried with hopeful excitement. "What?
What do you know?"

"I know King Argentum was a magical giant, gifted with a silver
skeleton that worked like a reflective antenna. His every thought
was broadcast outward, allowing his whims to become realities.
This allowed his numerous normal-sized worshipers and citizens to
become a wealthy, powerful civilization.

"But King Argentum was executed by an invader from space, and
without his assistance, the civilization declined to near
collapse. In an attempt to save themselves from extinction, the
smartest of their scientists dug up their dead god's silver skull
and fashioned a machine powered by the giant bone's latent
reflective magic.

"A time machine. Big enough for a single passenger in the cranium
cavity. Who would travel to the past and warn King Argentum before
he was killed."

"How can you know all this?" demanded Gavrilo. "It took Pete and
me space-years to piece together the entire space-legend! And more
space-years after that to find real proof!"

"I was that invader from space. I killed King Argentum."

Gavrilo let go of the super wizard's golden collar in speechless
shock, taking unsteady steps backwards. He had heard what fearful
species call this man, but until this very moment, when he looked
into cold unforgiving eyes flatly admitting to space-deicide, he
never truly believed it himself.

There was a uncoiling anxiety in the pit of his stomach.

But more so, there was a straggling hopeful need.

"Take me there," the hermit wizard said.


"The hidden home planet... the final resting place of King
Argentum... the secret location of the silver skull machine!
You've been there before! Take me there!" demanded Gavrilo,
getting more animated by the moment. "With our science sorcerous
powers, we can still reach it before Pete can use it! Take me
there and I'll tell you everything you want to know about the
cosmic tournament!

"Every Super Wizard From Space knows the name of every other Super
Wizard From Space. You know and I know that you are as powerless
against me as I am to you. You can't force me to talk.

"Take me there, or you'll learn nothing from me!"

The super wizard seemed grim, but after a long thoughtful moment
agreed with a single silent nod. A pale light cocoon wrapped
around him, a star-light shield to protect him from the rigours of
space travel, and he rose into the alien sky with growing speed.

Gavrilo's heart leapt and, with a grin, he wrapped himself in a
similar light cocoon and jumped into the air, following.

The two Super Wizards From Space cleared the atmosphere and
drifted purposely into outer space. Once they had cleared the
gravitational well of the planet, Gavrilo watched his companion
bring his hands in front of him and grasp at the nothingness in
front of them. Then, with a green flashing burst, he tore open
outer space, revealing behind it a swirling green warp tunnel that
reverberated with unnatural pain. A gesture to follow was given,
and they both plunged into the tunnel.

 From a hidden orbit on the exact opposite side of the planet, a
spy peered over the horizon and observed it's target depart.
Moving deeper into the relative safety of the world's umbra, the
operative began a complicated eight-figure dance, transmitting to
it's fellow drones that their prey was on the way.



It's an octopus from space that's a cowboy. Come on, that's

For those paying attention, this is my entry for the nineteenth
high-concept challenge, except it's not really an entry as I can't
submit an entry for a challenge I initiated. I guess it's a demo?

When I finished writing this story, as before, the word count was
too long. So, as before, I needed to split it up into multiple
issues. I've tried to clean up the final paragraphs a bit to not
make the cut off seem so harsh.

On the other hand, this gives me an opportunity to do so
rethinking. I wasn't entirely happy with how the story originally
ended and I was having trouble getting the next story started.
This provides me with a chance to iron that out by weaving the two

And maybe feature more space cowboy octopi ;P

Wil Alambre, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wilalambre