The Super Wizard From Space #9

"The Secret Of The Silver Skull Machine, Part 4" by

A monstrously giant bee made of hollow electricity used its clawed legs 
to peel open the hull of the crashed rocket-ship. It glowed brightly 
with a pale light, partially transparent and seemingly fragile as it 
opened up the armored cockpit as if it was made of tinfoil. The ship's 
two occupants didn't even have a moment to shake off the shock before 
the bright buzzing shape changed position and jammed down into the 
breach with its spear-like stinger.

Cephalo Pete was already badly wounded, thick ink and sticky blood 
seeping out of wounds sustained in the crash landing. The stinger came 
down and skewered him in a single vicious stroke. He made loud gacking 
sounds and clutched futilely at it with his tentacles. The electrical 
space-bee ignored the flailing and let the venom of the stinger soak 
into the alien octopus's body. The octopus's gaze was filled with 
helpless fear. "Gavrilo," Cephalo Pete choked out, trying to reach out 
with a broken limb, "Help me. Pleeaass... sss...


Gavrilo retreated into the rocket-ship, unable to do anything but watch 
the toxins transform his former partner. The mass grew exponentially, 
becoming fat and round. A pair of clear wings ripped out from the back. 
Two long powerful legs came from the front. And the tentacles elongated, 
hardening  with grey brown carapace into eight deadly stingers.

"Oh Pete. I'm so sorry," whispered the hermit wizard as Cephalo Pete's

form was twisted into another monstrous drone of the lycanthro-bee swarm.

"Don't be szzorry," came the low rumbling reply from the new terrible 
shape. Its striped body expanded and contracted slowly like it was still 
getting used to it's new shape. Eight antennae stretched into the air, 
catching signal scents being broadcast from it's electrical brethren. 
"There'szz a szzting of pain... but alszzo a szzting of... of fresh 
realizzzation. Before I waszz aimlesszz. Now I got me sharp purposzze. 
To my hive! To my queen!"

Gavrilo raised his hands and let science sorcerous powers well up in 
him. His fingertips glowed with blue white sparks. "Don't make me kill 
you," he said, taking a step back.

"You cain't hurt me. I szztill got your name, wizzzard!" Wings became a 
blur and the Pete-bee jumped in the air. It zigged and zagged in a 
complex communicative dance before joining up with the electrical drone. 
Both then looked down on the Hermit Wizard From Space menacingly, 
stingers almost shaking with anticipation.

Gavrilo gave up the bluff and ran into the depths of the ship. Whatever 
that new horror was, it had all of Pete's memories on top of any 
instincts the change granted it. It knew Gavrilo's name, and was immune 
to his power.

The hull rang out from numerous thuds as the pair of space bees banged 
against the outside. As Gavrilo made his way toward the rear airlock, 
eight pointed stingers cracked through the shell of the ship in unison. 
However the Pete-bee was stabbing blindly, the stingers were spread wide 
rather than bunched together, and Gavrilo was able to squeeze between 
the deadly barbs.

But as the stringers were drawn out, Gavrilo saw the purple venom left 
behind in the puncture holes already soaking into the walls and the 
floor. The metal skin of the rocket-ship screeched as the shape started 
to change. Using the warping walls as footing, Gavrilo crawled out of 
the airlock just before the hatch closed behind him the rocket-ship 
turned into a metal reflection of the other space-bees.

The rocket-bee fluttered up heavily, fat thrusters on it's back instead 
of wings, eyes of portal glass, transmitter dishes drinking in the 
overwhelming attack pheromones in the air. The mechanically jointed legs 
bent with a creaking sound, the laser turrets at the ends warming up.

A sonic boom blasted from the sky above them. The Super Wizard From 
Space accelerated straight downward, the energy cocoon around him 
flaring with bright power. He pushed his hands straight in front of him, 
and the energy formed a pointed cone, tearing straight through the 
transformed hull like a bullet. Inside, he spread out his arms, 
expanding the bubble around him. The solar-powered bubble flattened the 
rocket-bee's mechanical interior against the armored skin. Gavrilo 
watched the rocket-bee suddenly bulge into a sphere, computer panels and 
piping and wiring oozing out between the hull's seams before it crashed 
to the ground, dead.

With a hard kick, the deformed hull split in half and the Super Wizard 
 From Space marched out of the rocket-bee's corpse. With a closed fist 
and a jabbing motion, a ball of force hit the wall beside Gavrilo, 
collapsing the aged concrete inwards. "Quickly inside," the super wizard 
said, motioning to the opening.

Both ran into the dark building, crossing a dusty room into a 
long-abandoned hallway just as angry buzzing and grasping legs jammed 
through the hole. Electricity from the shield-bee arced madly, lighting 
up the area in strobing bursts, but the opening was too small for either 

"You can't run, wizzzard! We have you trapped inszzide!" yelled the 
Pete-bee so loudly the vibrating sounds caused the structure to shake 
and bits of loose plaster to fall.

"It won't take them long to find another way in," the Super Wizard From 
Space said grimly.

"Doesn't matter." the hermit wizard said excitedly. He threw a beam of 
light up and down the hallway, overgrown with strange moss. "We're 
inside. The silver skull machine is here. I can still make this right!"

"No, you can't. Listen to me."

"The hallway is clear this way! Follow me!" Gavrilo said with a smile, 
running further into the ruined complex and leaving footprints in the 
thick dust. He didn't know where he was going, but he aimed for the 
centre of the building. He was so close, it was like his goal was 
tugging at him.

He eventually got to a large entranceway. The wooden doors were rotted 
away but above the frame in red paint, a collection of unknown words and 
a distinct skull-shaped symbol. This was it!

He flooded the cavernous chamber with blue white light. Banks of rusty 
machinery lined every wall. A green ivy-like vines had infested the 
entire ceiling, a few lines of leaves hanging at random intervals. In 
one corner, a handful of skeletons, tall with too many ribs and overly 
narrow shoulders. They looked huddled around broken burnt crates.

And in the centre, attached to shattered screens and piping and 
conduits, a gigantic silver skull, the hermit wizard's light gleaming 
off it's tarnished surface. It was hollow, it's massive empty cranium 
filled with a chair and controls and buttons and levers, enough room 
remaining only for a single occupant. The eye sockets had been filled 
with tinted glass, the jaw closed with a black metal grill, allowing fat 
wires to spill out. On the side, an airlock door had been crudely 
attached, invitingly open.

He leapt across the room and peered into the eye sockets, pressing his 
face against the dirty glass. His heart skipped a beat. The console was 
glowing. Lights were shining faintly. A hum resonated from inside.

"It still works," Gavrilo said.

"No, it doesn't," said the Super Wizard From Space. He  crossed the 
large room, ignoring everything but his companion.

"They must have tapped directly into the skull itself! There's still 
power! Look! I'm certain I can..."

"No, Gavrilo, you can't!" said the super wizard loudly. Sharply. With no 
more patience. "The time machine doesn't work! It never did!"

The hermit wizard stopped. The words hung in the air.

"Look around you," the super wizard said, a hand sweeping across the 
room. "Does it look like this civilization was able to save itself?"

Gavrilo turned to look at the super wizard with unbelieving eyes.

The Super Wizard From Space frowned, like a parent breaking a child's 
heart. "Yes, the Argentonian scientists were able to tap into the 
god-giant's magic for their time machine, but the power could never be 
directed within. It's why King Argentum couldn't save himself.

"The technology works, but the silver skull radiates the effect outwards 
rather than into the machine. The entire universe that travels through 
time, with only the pilot chamber actually changing. The time machine 
works inside out."

Gavrilo was shell-shocked. "But... no, it... "

"Any pilot gets shunted away as the machine's limited interior realigns 
to a different time period. But since the controls are always here with 
us, they're trapped forever. The machine is useless. It always has been."

The Hermit Wizard From Space stared at the super wizard. Then at the 
silver skull machine. Then at the super wizard. He felt his entire long 
age upon him. All his mistakes suddenly hung heavily on his shoulders.

There was nothing he could say. There were no words.

A breaking snapping sound came from above them. Ivy vines snapped, 
girders and concrete crumbled. Long ruined supports and age weakened 
materials gave way. Rows of triangular teeth faded in from the corners 
and bit through the ceiling. Two or three entire floors above them were 
yanked up and into a wide gaping blackness. Sunlight suddenly burst in 
as the five layers of powerful hexagonal plates linked in from 
phantasmal nothingness to form a set of building-sized jaws.

The pair of super wizards stared up at huge ghostly shape, easily three 
or four times larger than Pete's rocketship. It's long sleek shape was 
transparent, the rubble of the research centre visible within as it was 
crushed by ectoplasmic forces. Though it hung in the air, the wind 
visibly rippled past its massive fins, the shimmer rolling along a 
gigantic blade-like tail that only occasionally existed.

And floating above it's forehead, set just behind it's golden eyes, a 
wreath of bay laurels made of interlocking branches and tangled leaves, 
radiating with a sickly green pallor.

"That's no monster bee," said the Super Wizard From Space, grimly,
the ghost of Sharkasaurus Rex. And he looks angry."



I'm having too much fun with were-bees. This issue was over 2200 words 
before I realized it was too long and wasn't going to wrap up the silver 
skull machine arc. So it got the biggest series of rewrites I've done to 
any Super Wizard issue so far. Unfortunately, I did more of those 
rewrites after I had a friend go over for spelling and grammar, so if 
there's choppy parts, that's entirely my fault, not his :)

The action sequences and the various ridiculous transformations have 
been chewing up a lot of word-count, more than expected. But next issue 
will wrap this arc up, regardless of the length of the post. I'm excited 
to move onto the cosmic tournament and I want to be prepped for whatever 
the next high-concept challenge is.

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