From the Deep

A group of mostly mystical type heroes had previously been summoned to help Mistress Karma–the Dr. Fate of her timeline–locate a Temple of Summoning constructed on her world by an aquatic race known as the Deep Ones. Having helped the sorceress scry the location of the Temple by lending her their mystical energies, the heroes pledged to help her stop the Deep Ones in their plan to summon Great Cthulhu from his sleep in the sunken city of R’lyeh. For if the creatures suceeded, and Cthulhu arose from the depths, he would open the Gate–Yog-Sothoth–to allow the Great Old Ones to return to Earth. Powerful cosmic beings, the Old Ones had once ruled Karma’s world until they’d been banished by another race, the Elder Gods. Now they sought to return, as the stars were once again right.

While the heroes waited in her magical tower, Mistress Karma teleported herself to a location near the temple, a small cave in a large boulder, which she hid with a cloaking spell. As she scryed the Temple of Summoning, she discovered that powerful magical shields had been erected around it–something more potent than the Deep Ones should have been capable of. As she continued to magically scout the situation, she summoned the heroes to her. But due to the protective energies surrounding the tower, not all were able to break through. Mary Marvel was thrown completely back to her own timeline, while Captain Marvel was held in stasis, attempting to break through. The other heroes, however, appeared in the small cave where Mistress Karma had established her beachhead.

Karma continued to scry for answers to what was causing the intense magical inteference around the Temple even as the heroes arrived, using her crystal ball for a focus. She suddenly found the answer–and a grim one it was. She created a viewing portal for the heroes to show them what they were up against. It turned out that the Deep Ones had employed the service of a High Priest of the ancient and evil Serpent Men to aid in their summoning ritual. It was his magic that was protecting the Temple. He had already conducted human sacrifices, the still living remains of which were hanging outside the temple, kept alive and in torment by the Serpent Man’s dark sorcery. But even worse, in the inner Temple floated . . . the Shining Trapezehedron!

This ancient mystical artifact had been constructed eons ago by the sinister Mi-Go on the far off planet Yuggoth, at the rim. It existed in all dimensions and through all time and space and was the key to both summoning Dread Cthulhu and opening the Gate. Once summoned, Cthulhu, as the priest of the Great Old Ones, could use the Shining Trapezohedron to open the Gate and let the cosmic overlords back into the world. Mistress Karma told the heroes that they must, at all costs, stop the Serpent Man from completing his ritual and destroy the Shining Trapezohedron! Neither task would be easy. But to accomplish either, they had to get past the Deep Ones standing guard in and around the Temple.

Mistress Karma had sent out summons to others to assist the heroes, should any hear and respond to the call. She suddenly got two responses. One from a friend and the other . . . well, she informed the heroes that, under these circumstances, against such formidable foes, they could not refuse even the least desirable of allies. She used her magic to call the two figures to the group. First appeared Sister None, Karma’s colleague in the Birds of Pray. The heroes had met Sister None during the Hypertime Crisis. The black-habit-clad woman appeared, her holy battle mace at the ready. She’d heard Karma’s call due to their past closeness and responded from out in space, where the JLG and the Birds were fighting Lobo, the Imperiator. As the fight was going well, she retuned to assist Karma and the others.

The other figure who appeared after None was not so well received–Vandal Savage! This was the version from Mistress Karma’s timeline, who’d helped the heroes with his Yeti to fight Emperor Deadman and his demons at Nanda Parbat to rescue Rip Hunter during the Hypertime Crisis. Though he had come with sword ready, it was clear he was here more out of self-advancement than altruism, as he acknowledged that, should the Great Old Ones devastate the Earth, there’d be little left for him to conquer. Still, the heroes were in no position to turn down his assistance. Though when Savage learned that the Shining Trapezohedron was involved, his eyes lit up–and Karma sent the heroes a telepathic message to make sure that Savage did not get his hands on the powerful artifact.

The heroes and Savage conferred on a plan to attack the Temple and dispose of the Serpent Man and Shining Trapezohedron. Savage’s experience fighting the aquatic Deep Ones in the past as wall as his knowledge of the Serpent Men–he’d thought he’d disposed of the last one four centuries earlier–came in handy, as did Mistress Karma’s knowledge of the forces they were up against. Finally it was decided that Mistress Karma would teleport to one side of the Temple and draw away as many of the Deep Ones as she could in a diversionary maneuver, while Savage and the other heroes took advantage of that and assaulted the Temple as Karma kept several of the Deep Ones occupied. They would then fight their way to the inner sanctuary and keep the Serpent Man off balance till Karma could get there.

Before they could put the plan into action, however, Captain Marvel managed to finally break through the Serpent Man’s magical defenses and appeared among the heroes! He was initially suspicious of Savage, and vowed to keep an eye on their seeming ally, though Mistress Karma mentally warmed him, too, to make sure Savage never got hold of the Shining Trapezohedron. Once Captain Marvel was up to speed on the attack plan, Mistress Karma magically teleported herself to one side of the front of the Temple, immediately drawing the attention of the Deep Ones on that side, who all rushed to attack her. The heroes them poured out of their hiding place in what the nearby hollow boulder and moved swiftly toward the Temple.

Once at the temple, however, Troia and Captain Marvel, fearing that Mistress Karma might be overrun by the Deep Ones attacking her, each launched themselves to her defense, afraid that if she fell, they wouldn’t have sufficient magical power to stop the Serpent Man or destroy the sinister artifact. Since Mistress Karma had explained that, being denizens of the ocean depths, the Deep Ones were extremely strong and tough, neither hero felt the need to hold their punches as each attacked one of the Deep Ones surrounding Karma. As Savage, Sister None, and Firestorm made their way toward the Temple, faced by even more Deep Ones from the other side, Zatanna attempted to port herself directly to the inner sanctum and confront the Serpent Man priest with her own magic.

Although her magic got her to the priest, and she managed to create ice missiles from the nearby ocean to fling at the Serpent Man, she hadn’t counted on how powerful the ancient creature was. He waved a scaly hand at her before continuing with his ritual, and Zatanna found herself back outside the Temple with her own ice missiles bearing down upon her. Meanwhile, Firestorm flung nuclear energy blasts at the Deep Ones coming from the other side of the temple, frying several of them, while Vandal Savage lopped off “fishheads” with his sword and Sister None smote the creatures with her holy battle mace. The powerful blows of Troia and Captain Marvel took down more Deep Ones, as Mistress Karma formed a mystical shield to protect herself from those still attacking her, sending bolts of mystic energy toward them, causing them to disintegrate totally.

Troia continued to lead the other heroes in battling the Deep Ones, as the aquatic creatures began to fall under the heroes’ powerful attacks. Zatanna rerouted her ice missiles toward several Deep Ones, while Captain Marvel uprooted a nearby palm tree and used it to sweep their opponents aside. Firestorm continued to create an impromptu “fish fry” with his nuclear bolts, while Savage swept through the creatures . . . savagely . . . and Sister None used her holy battle mace to good effect. In moments, the beach outside the Temple was clear of Deep Ones. Though as Savage was about to boast of his part in it, the huge statue of Cthulhu standing before the temple suddenly came to life, animated by the Serpent Man’s magic, and it grabbed Savage in its stone claw, raising him high above the sand.

Sister None immediately rushed to Savage’s aid–and was also snatched up in the statue’s other clawed hand, both held tight before the now squirming tentacles around its mouth, as though it were ready to tear them to pieces. Mistress Karma called out to the others to help save Savage and Sister None and get inside the Temple to stop the Serpent Man before it was too late. Already there was a horrid feel to the air, energies swirling about the area, as though something terrible was about to occur. Seeing the others rush to aid Savage and the Sister, Troia decided to press onward into the Temple, where more Deep Ones awaited as they protected the Serpent Man. Mistress Karma sent more bolts of mystic energy flying toward the statue’s leg in hope of toppling it, while Captain Marvel smashed at the statue’s gruesome face with the uprooted tree, hoping to smash it.

As Firestorm attempted to transmute the stone of the statue to dirt, Zatanna, weakened by her encounter with the Serpent Man priest, drew on all her reserves for a spell to free both Savage and Sister None from the hideous Cthulhian idol and to pull them to her and safety. She managed to succeed in her attempt, but it drained her almost completely, and she fell to the sand, where she suddenly disappeared, bounced back to her own timeline by the Serpent Man’s wards, having drawn even on the mystical energy Karma had used to bring her to this world. But Savage and Sister None were both safe, if a little worse for the wear. Meanwhile, the parts of the statue hit by the heroes cracked and began to crumble, even as the entire thing fell apart, transmuted into dirt by Firestorm.

Meanwhile, Troia had hit the first of the Deep One’s inner line of defense and was plowing through them with her Amazon strength to attempt to get to the Serpent Man and the Shining Trapezohedron. The heroine, close enough inside now, could see as well as feel that the evil priest was nearing the end of his summoning and that if they didn’t hurry, it would be too late. As Savage and Sister None rushed inside to aid Troia, Captain Marvel tried something desperate to keep the Serpent Man from completing his foul ritual. He began to call down the magic lightning again and again, hoping to either disrupt or at least distract the priest from his horrid chore. Seeing what Marvel was attempting, Mistress Karma added her own magic to his efforts. Firestorm, however, suddenly found himself kicked out by all the magical energies swarming about, landing back in his own timeline and out of the fight.

Their numbers depleted, Karma called out for everyone to concentrate on getting inside and stopping the Serpent Man, who at this time was hissing angrily as Marvel’s and Karma’s magics had delayed his nearly completed ritual. But he jumped back into his task, and the Shining Trapezohedron above him began to glow ever brighter with an ethereal, unearthly light. As Captain Marvel quickly joined the others inside, Troia attempted to fly up above the few remaining Deep Ones to grab the magical artifact and crush it with her Amazon strength. Unfortunately, strong as she was and despite her own divine origins, Troia’s strength alone wasn’t quite enough to affect an object that existed in all dimensions and in all times and space at once–and it began to suck her into it!

As Savage and Sister None tackled the remaining Deep Ones, Captain Marvel joined Troia, calling down his magical lightning onto the Shining Trapezohedron! But even that seemed insufficient to destroy the ancient artifact, though it did free Troia from its icy, preternatural grip. Suddenly, the glowing object floated up and right through the roof of the inner room, as Mistress Karma teleported in to confront the Serpent Man priest. She declared to the creature that it had lost. While it turned with a triumphant hiss and replied that Great Cthulhu was rising even now and that soon all the Old Ones would return. Karma called to Troia and Captain Marvel to get up to the roof and destroy the Shining Trapezohedron at all costs, while she began to engage the Serpent Man priest in a magical dual.

Savage, finishing off the last of the Deep Ones with Sister None, called out to them not to destroy it–that it was his!–revealing his own duplicitous plans. But Captain Marvel and Troia smashed their way through the stone roof of the temple, where they found the Shining Trapezohedron, glowing and spinning and sending out waves of unnatural color about the area. Out from the ocean, the waves were now crashing ominously on the shore and the sky had turned an ugly shade of sick green, as a horrid sound rang out, sounding like a cross between the mindless chattering of a half-dead monkey–though one the size of a building–and the buzzing of a swarm of millions of bees . . . as the awful visage of great Cthulhu began to rise from the sea, his mouth tentacles flailing madly!

Keeping their eyes averted from the mind-blasting horror in the waters behind them, Troia and Captain Marvel both smashed into the Shining Trapezohedron with all their strength, the force of the two powerful heroes stopping the artifact at least momentarily in its motion. Meanwhile, they could hear the blasts from below as Mistress Karma and the Serpent Man priest traded magical bolts of power, though the sounds were nearly lost in the hideous, unearthly roars from the gargantuan creature in the sea as it drew closer to shore. The Shining Trapezohedron tried to suck Troia and Captain Marvel inside it, which would have spread their atoms across all hypertime and the multiverse . . . but now that the Serpent Man was occupied fighting Karma, the artifact wasn’t empowered enough to fully engulf both the magically powered heroes at once.

As the unbearable sounds emitting from Great Cthulhu’s maw grew louder, the two heroes heard a final blast below them, and then silence. Suddenly, Mistress Karma appeared on the roof next to them. her cape smoldering, having barely managed to defeat the Serpent Man, thanks to his being distracted by the assault on the Shining Trapezohedron, to which he’d been still linked. As Troia hammered at the artifact with her Amazonian strength, and Captain Marvel called down his magic lightning upon it, Mistress Karma concentrated on it, sending disruptive mystical energies into the unearthly object. Suddenly, it began to shimmer, its spin becoming erratic . . . and then . . . it blinked out of existence and was gone!

And as the Shining Trapezohedron vanished, the entire taint in the air also seemed to dissipate as the winds died down and the seas ceased to roil. And the huge, horrible image of Cthulhu also began to fade away–and seemed to evaporate completely! Just then, Savage managed to claw his way through the hole in the roof that the heroes had created, lamenting the fact that they’d destroyed “his” Shining Trapezohedron. Sister None, floating up on a prayer, shook her head and suddenly bonked the villain on the head with her holy battle mace, knocking him unconscious. She explained that he’d gotten a bit “handy” down below after they’d dispatched the last of the Deep Ones. Captain Marvel was especially happy to see Savage go down.

With the threat ended and the creatures dispatched–and Cthulhu returned to his dreaming in distant R’lyeh deep below the ocean–Mistress Karma turned to the other heroes with gratitude, expressing the hope that their friends got back safely to their own timeline. She thanked them again for saving her Earth, which of course, was saving their own in the process, since it wouldn’t have been long before the Great Old Ones, having ravaged her world, would have moved on to the heroes’ timeline. She handed them each a mystical summoning globe and told them that if they ever needed her assistance in their world, to use it to call on her. Mistress Karma then summoned her magic for a spell to return the heroes to our world and timeline, secure that the evil they’d been called on to oppose was vanquished . . . until the next time that the stars were right . . . .

Heroes Present: Troia, Captain Marvel, Zatanna, Firestorm, Sister None, Mistress Karma.

Villains Present: Deep Ones, Serpent Man Priest, Great Cthulhu, the Shining Trapezohedron.

Others Present: Vandal Savage.

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