BELOVED NEWSSTAND OWNER KIDNAPPED!

Breaking news from Fawcett City, beloved newstand owner, Freddy Freeman was kidnapped this morning in broad daylight by a group of masked men. Eyewitnesses said a group of four masked men gagged and carried the young newstand owner off to a waiting van without license plates.

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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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Giant at S.T.A.R. Labs

Hoax or experiment gone wrong? Earlier this evening, while sit-seeing with his mother, 15 year old amateur photographer, Petey Parsons, snapped a picture of what he claims was a giant standing on the S.T.A.R. Labs building in Central City before disappearing. While the picture is of low quality, experts claim it’s dirt on the lens or a trick of the light. You be the judge.

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A Dark Figure Appears

At the offices of Meta Human Affairs, a large armored man appeared, demanding to speak with a woman named Diana, His voice was described as giving witnesses a chill as he spoke.

After several minutes her left, stating he would return; Security cameras were able to catch the unknown man on film.

 

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Has the Guardian Returned to Metropolis?

From the Daily Planet: Eye witnesses reported a shield slinging hero appear and thwart a bank robbery at Metropolis bank, the hero stopped & shook hands with citizens but left when a woman screamed in the distance. The Guardian was a Metropolis hero in the 40’s & has since disappeared, possibly retired. Today he seemed vibrant & younger with a more stylized uniform that showed his patriotism, but no 1 could mistake those shield slinging skills! Welcome back Guardian!

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Shadow Over Gotham

Last night, Oracle summoned several of Gotham’s defenders to investigate a scene she was monitoring from a security camera of the Pavilion Hotel of an old man being besieged by what appeared to be masked and armed ninjas in the Pagoda Plaza to Chinatown. Upon arrival, The Batman lead the heroes to attempt to rescue the older man who it proved to be a Professor Howard Vincent, an associate of the recently murdered Professor Pointer of Gotham University.

The ninjas claimed to be The Shining Arm…a legendary caste of ninjas with supposedly mystical powers who proved to be a match for our heroes as they fought their way to surround Professor Vincent who also proved to be a master of the martial arts himself. During the combat, Troia cornered the Leader of the Shining Arms who was wielding a mystical katana but fortunately her Amazonian bracelets protected her.

As the ninjas moved in to kill the heroes and capture Professor Vincent, the heroes found themselves in a deadly trap as they were surrounded. Just as things looked bleak for our heroic band of Gotham’s defenders, a grim hollow laugh seemed to echo out of nowhere and a slouch hatted figure emerged from the darkness with guns blazing. To Batman’s shock it appeared the vigilante known as The Shadow had returned though he believed him long dead.

Using The Shadow’s arrival to distract the ninjas, the heroes made their move with Batman using a smoke batarang to drive several of them back as Batwoman managed to battle a few others back with her battle staves. Black Canary managed to immobilize more using her Canary Cry but Cyber Arrow also got caught in the cone of her sonic blast and went down. The Shadow seemed to vanish and reappear around the battlefield mercilessly gunning down ninjas before appearing directly behind the leader and demanding him to lower his sword.

The Shadow then had Troia truss the leader in her Lasso of Persuasion as he attempted to interrogate him. However, the leader called out for his brethren to bite down on cyanide capsules hidden in their teeth…preferring suicide to revealing any information. After the ninjas were all died, Batman angrily confronted The Shadow, decrying his violent brand of justice but his former mentor ignored him, preferring instead to explain what was going on.

It appears that Professor Vincent is the elderly son of The Shadow’s first agent, Harry Vincent. The Shadow then told the heroes how in 1952, he had battled his immortal archenemy, Shiwan Khan when Khan had attempted to invade they mystical refuge of Nanda Parbit. During the battle, a portal had appeared out of nowhere and Shiwan Khan had leaped into it but when The Shadow had attempted to follow him thru the portal had closed. For decades, both The Shadow and his network of agents had attempted to discover what had happened to Shiwan Khan expecting him to reappear.

Obviously, the portal had been caused by the recent Hypertime Crisis the JLA have recently been investigating. Now it appears Shiwan Khan had reappered in the present and was attempting to take control of the Chinese mobs in Gotham City. He had murdered Professor Pointer in an attempt to discover the location of the lost tomb of Ghenghis Khan and had sent The Shining Arm to kidnap Professor Vincent. Shiwan Khan has long declared himself a direct descendant of original Genghis Khan and believes he’s the reincarnation of Kublai Khan…..it appears he is attempting to find the tomb of Ghenghis Khan to loot it of mystical artifacts and to legitmize his claims to attempt to take over China and then the world!

Professor Vincent revealed that only he, Pointer and their counterparts in China who were going to lead the initial excavations knew the exact secret location of the tomb. The Shadow requested an alliance to find and defeat Shiwan Khan but as police arrived upon the scene vanished, declaring he’d be in touch. Batman took Professor Vincent away to get him to a safe house for his protection.

Has the immortal Shiwan Khan truly returned from the past? And, if so, what is it to be found in the lost tomb of Ghenghis Khan that he so desperately desires? Will The Shadow and Batman again join forces to defeat another threat to mankind?

(( to be continued….))

Heroes present: The Batman, Batwoman, Black Canary, Troia, Cyber Arrow

Villains present: The Shining Arm Ninja Caste

Others present: Professor Howard Vincent, The Shadow

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A QUESTION OF KARMA

Several hereos received a mysterious summons in the form of a glowing sphere and an almost familiar voice requesting them to come to a location in Annex City. None of the heroes knew that the others had been summoned until they all arrived at the rooftop location, where the globes disappeared and told them to wait for “the others” or, for the final arrival, for their “Mistress” . . . The heroes conversed among themselves, but they began to notice a strange feel in the air, as though reality itself were being twisted in some way around them. As most of the heroes gathered had magical or mystical origins, they began to suspect something or someone of a mystical nature had drawn them to this location.

Suddenly a figure appeared before the heroes in a burst of magical flame and sigils . . . one whom they’d met previously during the Hypertime Crisis, when several timelines had become intertwined: Mistress Karma! In her timeline, Mistress Karma is the wearer of the helmet of Nabu, and thus a female version of Doctor Fate. A powerful sorcereress, Mistress Karma is a member of the Birds of Pray on her Earth and a defender of the planet through her mystical powers. She had joined with the heroes when they traveled to the Vanishing Point to locate the Time Commander. But when the timelines had unraveled again in the climax of that crisis, she had vanished with the others from that Earth. Now, it appeared, she was back. But for what purpose?

Karma quickly explained to the heroes that she needed their assistance, so had pierced the veil between the timelines and traveled ot our Earth to request their aid. It seemed that the Justice League Global from that world, along with the Birds of Pray–all but her–had gone on a mission in space to assist the Rainbow Beacon Corps with an interstellar invasion by Lobo, the Imperiator, leaving Earth unprotected, save for Mistress Karma. Coincidentally–or maybe not so–a new crisis arose on her Earth with all its other heroes gone. It seems that the stars are now right, and the Great Old Ones, eons-old beings of immense power who once ruled the world, are attempting to return and lay waste to Karma’s Earth.

The Great Old Ones had been imprisoned millions of years ago by another group of beings known as the Elder Gods. Some had been locked away among the distant stars or in other dimensions or in remote places on Earth or under the sea. But it had always been said that when the stars were right, they could break through again into our reality and take back what they’d once possessed. Even now they had minions–humans and unspeakable creatures both–who were working relentlessly to bring back the Old Ones. Mistress Karma had seen and recognized the signs as described in ancient texts such as the Necronomicon, and she knew that the return of the Old Ones was imminent–and that if they were not stopped, first her Earth and then all of reality would fall to them.

But so far, Karma had not been able to detect them, no matter how much she had scryed. She felt that if she had the assistance of others with mystical roots, she might be able to locate where the Great Old Ones might break through. She believed that an aquatic race known as the Deep Ones, the minions of the Old Ones’ priest, Dread Cthulhu, were attempting to awaken Cthulhu from his deep sleep in the sunken city of R’lyeh. Once the Temple of Summoning could be located, Karma and the heroes could engage the Deep Ones and stop the calling forth of Cthulhu from his ancient slumber. And with Cthulhu stopped, no one else could open the Gate and set the Old Ones free again on Earth. At least that was Karma’s hope–if the heroes would agree to travel to her Earth and help.

Of course, all the heroes assembled agreed. Even Firestorm, whose powers weren’t mystical in nature–though Karma equated them with the mystical energies of alchemy. Mistress Karma, when asked, explained that she had attempted to contact the Elder Gods for assistance, but had received no answer. She also explained that the only thing that could stop Cthulhu once summoned was a mystical sigil called the Elder Sign. Unfortunately, it had been lost to the mists of history. Even nuclear weapons were useless against Cthulhu. The only way to save her Earth–and all the others–would be to stop the summoning. So Mistress Karma used her sorcery to open a portal back to her timeline, and all the heroes entered, finding themselves in front of a dark stone tower–the Sanctuary of Mistress Karma.

Before they’d left, Mistress Karma had expressed hope that another that she had sent her summons to would arrive. But since he hadn’t the heroes needed to proceed without him. Arriving at Karma’s Tower, the heroes were warned by the Mistress of Mysticism not to enter until she could go in first and pave the way for them with the Tower’s Guardians. She entered and could be heard conversing with some odd-sounding voices. Then she bid them to enter, introducing them to her mystical Guardians, among they a living tree of dozens of eye stalks–whom she addressed as “Eye-gore”–and a huge, horned skull on a truncated body of ribs that seemed to go by the name of “BigSkull.” Other Guardians included a skeletal hound and a brown blob of mostly eyes and a mouth.

The mystical energies in the Tower especially seemed to creep out Mary Marvel, who felt uneasy there, especially when BigSkull asked Karma if he could eat the girl. Karma quickly got the Guardian in line, insisting that he was harmless–to those she invited to the Tower. Others, not so much. Zatanna and Troia found the exchange more amusing than anything. Eye-gore sought to invite the heroes to sit down at the table before them for a tea party, till Karma forbid it, explaining that his idea of a short tea party might last half a century or so. She told them they needed to explore the various chambers of the Tower. She had a number of mystical scrying artifacts throughout it, and some of them might be drawn to the heroes’ mystic auras, and thus they could boost her own powers and perhaps locate the Deep Ones’ Temple of Summoning.

Mistress Karma then disappeared in a burst of magical energy, teleporting the others to the second floor of her tower, at the center of which, among other artifacts, lay the Pool of Eternity. The Pool’s waters glowed with strange roiling colors, some of which seemed to lie outside the known spectrum. She explained that the Pool should be able to locate anything throughout all time and space . . . but even with her most powerful sorceries, she’d not been able to pierce the mystical veil hiding the Deep Ones’ temple, despite the Pool’s innate power. She hoped that it would respond to some of the heroes and that they could lend her their own mystical energies to enable her to scry the location where Cthulhu would be summoned.

Mistress Karma asked the heroes to gather round the pool and concentrate as she reached out to it to see whether it would embrace any of them. As they did so, the heroes felt swirling energies cascading about the room in ebbs and tides of temporal power . . . suddenly, as though it were alive, parts of the pool reached out and surrounded both Zatanna and Mary Marvel. Karma said that the two of them were in empathic harmony with the Pool, and that they may be able to help her use it to locate the Temple of Summoning. But just then, there was a burst of lightning and into the room emerged . . . Captain Marvel! Karma welcomed him, as he was the other hero she’d originally summoned, though it seemed he needed to check with the Wizard Shazam before allowing the summoning energy to overtake him. But now he was with the others.

And though the Pool had picked two of their number, Karma indicated that she had other means of scrying as well and that they might prove even more potent than the Pool–if the heroes were in tune with them. So she transported all of them to the next level in her Tower . . . her study and workshop, where she explained that she performed alchemical experiments and studied the ancient tomes of magic she’s accumulated. Zatanna was immediately taken with all the magical tomes, wishing she had time to study them here herself. The mystical energies here were strong as well, but suddenly and unexpectedly, one of the vials on the table of alchemical equpment opened and its contents begain to swirl around Firestorm.

Mistress Karma told him that it was as she suspected–with the alchemical nature of his powers, Firestorm drew to him the mystical Tears of a Virgin, a powerful alchemical potion, showing that should alchemical means be the key to locating the Deep Ones’ temple, it would be Firestorm who could lend Karma the energy she needed. But there were two more stops to make. The first–her lliving quarters–proved fruitless. Nothing in the Egyptian-themed room seemed attracted to any of the heroes. She said it was as she’d suspected, since none of them were Egyptian in origin, but it was necessary to make sure. And then she transported them to a balcony surrounding the top level of her Tower and the Summoning Chamber. The heroes found even more mystical energies enveloping them as they stood outside the Chamber.

Karma warned them to be prepared when she opened the door as a flood of mystical energy would rush out at them. She’d last summoned Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss, to attempt to secure his aid. Though it was not to be. Still his residue was very powerful. Once the door was open and the heroes braced for the onrush of power, they entered to see a mystical circle on the floor, a brazier with a floating orb above it in the center. To the back was an altar topped with mystical artifacts. And around the edges of the circle, three powerful magical artifacts they’d last seen during the Hypertime Crisis, when they had protected the citadel of Emperor Deadman in Nanda Parbat: the Red Jar of Calythos, the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath, and the Green Bell of Ulthool.

Mistress Karma explained that she had taken the three magical items from their owners, the Demons Three, after the heroes had defeated them there. Like many other magical artifacts, she explained, they were neutral in their power–it was how they were used that determined whether they were good or evil. She was using them to protect the world against magical threats. And she hoped now they would help to locate the Temple of Summoning before Cthulhu was set free. She asked the heroes to concentrate once again to see if any had an affinity with the items. This time, the magical energies seemed to soar about the heroes, almost like a rip tide of sorcerous power . . . and suddenly a stream of stars arose from the bell, the jar, and the wheel and centered on two individuals–Troia and Captain Marvel . . .

With this development, Mistress Karma seemed to think that they now had a very good chance of successfully scrying for the location of the temple of the Deep Ones to stop them from summoning Cthulhu to unleash the Great Old Ones. But she was suddenly cut off by an eerie wailing from below. Though it seemed impossible, Karma recognized that as the signal that her mystical defenses had been breached and that the Tower was under attack. Eye-gore’s voice could now be heard calling for help before he and the other Guardians were overwhelmed. Karma quickly teleported them all down to the Guardians’ Chamber on the ground floor, where at least half a dozen black, faceless, horned, bat-winged creatures were giving the Guardians the fight of their supernatural lives.

Mistress Karma immediately identified the creatures as Nightgaunts, foul minions of the Old Ones, and declared that the heroes had to stop them before they could open a breach for more of their kind–or worse. The heroes immediately rallied to the defense of the Tower, with Captain Mavel taking the lead in attacking the Nightgaunts, followed swiftly by Mary and the others. Karma warned the heroes not to let the Nightgaunts tickle them, for if they succeeded, they might never stop laughing . . . until their hearts gave out. Troia followed the Marvels in attempting to land a solid punch on one of the creatures. Unfortunately, all three quickly discovered that the rubbery bodies of the Nightgaunts deflected most physical blows.

As they were attacked the Guardians tried to fight back as best they could, though Eye-gore was besieged by one of the Nightgaunts trying to poke out his eyes. The brown blobby Guardian tried to take a bite out of one, but missed and was tickled, going into convulsions. Following his lead, BigSkull reached up and took a bite out of the Nightgaunt Captain Marvel had attacked, declaring it to be “good eating” . . . The Nightgaunts contined to try to tickle the heroes, seemingly nearly immune to their hardest blows. Karma quickly explained that they were made of extraterrene matter and that more extreme measures would be required to defeat them. Zatanna, taking Karma at her word, began flinging fireballs at the Nightgaunts, injuring several with her mystical flame.

Shrieking in pain, as the room filled with a smell like a cross between burning rubber and a rotting whale carcass, two of the Nightgaunts flew toward Zatanna, ready to tickle the Mistress of Magic to death. BigSkull managed to take a bite from the Nightgaunt that Mary had hit, which had also been hit by one of Zatanna’s fireballs, and the creature expired, with BigSkull commending the ladies for tenderizing and frying their opponent and declaring the Nightgaunt as “finger-licking good” . . . if, that is, the Guardian had any fingers. Firestorm hit another of the Nightgaunts with a nuclear blast, turning it into salt and causing it to fall apart on the floor. It seemed that, organic or not, the extraterrene matter of the Nightgaunts were indeed vulnerable to Firestorm’s “alchemical” power.

Meanwhile, Mistress Karma rose into the air, a blazing magical ankh appearing around her as she muttered a spell, opening a mystical portal and sending multiple bolts of pure glowing mana at the Nightgaunt attacking Eye-gore. obliterating the eldrich creature. The remaining creatures, smoking still from Zatanna’s fire, renewed their attack on the heroes. One managed to tickle Troia, but with her Amazon fortitude, she cast off the effects of the attack and grabbed the Nightgaunt, throwing it at one of its fellows with all her mighty strength. At the same time, both Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel called down their magical lightning on two of the creatures as the one Troia threw at the other bounced off his brother, only to throw himself and the other Nightgaunt directly into the path of the magical lightning. The two exploded into tiny splattering chunks, causing BigSkull to complain that he liked bigger bites.

Meanwhile, as the brown blob expired from the tickle attack, melting into a mess on the floor, Eye-gore, his eyes no longer in danger, unleashed a flurry of eyebeams at the remaining creature, just as Zatanna sent more magical flame its way, and Firestorm hit it with a nuclear blast designed to turn it into pepper. The Nightgaunt tried to flee, but the skeletal hound Guardian grabbed its leg and held it in place until it, too, was obliterated by the remaining attacks. And suddenly the battle was over. BigSkull, of course, complained that Firestorm should have provided the salt and pepper to season the Nightguants before he chowed down on them. Zatanna, meanwhile, summoned up a wind to blow the smells away and clear out the tower.

Asked how the Nightgaunts had breached her magical defenses, Mistress Karma suggested they must have had the help of one of the Great Old Ones. On occasion, some of them have been able to momentarily escape their confinement to engage in some nefarious scheme. She suspected Hastur, the prince of the power of the air, as he would certainly be powerful enough to break down her mystical defenses long enough to allow the Nightgaunts access. Fortunately, since none escaped, they can’t warn the Deep Ones that the heroes are closing in on them. And now, she declared, they more than ever needed to scry for the location of the Deep Ones’ Temple of Summoning. She magically transported the heroes to the Pool of Eternity.

At the Pool Mistress Karma began to scry for the location of the Temple of Summoning, with Zatanna and Mary Marvel lending her their energies. And she started to sense a vision . . . of a structure of non-euclidean architecture on a beach near the ocean, surrounded by Deep Ones. For a moment, she almost had the location–but then it faded. Frustrated, but not defeated, Karma took the heroes to her study, where she began to concentrate on the alchemical artifacts there, with Firestorm this time lending her extra energy. And again, she got the vision of the non-euclidean Temple of Summoning and the Deep Ones, and scryed a little more of its location–before it eluded her again. Declaring that she was close to securing the location, she teleported the heroes up to her Chamber of Summoning.

There, Mistress Karma concentrated like never before, putting all her mystical power into the task, this time aided by Troia and Captain Marvel. And . . . suddenly she had it! The location of the Deep Ones’ Temple, where they intended to summon Cthulhu to unleash the Great Old Ones on the planet! Looking to the other heroes, Mistress Karma asked if they were ready to end this threat to the Earths of the various timelines before it could grow. United, the heroes agreed–and the battle was on . . .

(To be continued . . .)

Heroes Present: Troia, Mary Marvel, Zatanna, Firestorm, Captain Marvel, Mistress Karma.

Others Present: Eye-gore, BigSkull, Brown Blob, Bone Dog, and other mystical Guardians of the Tower.

Villains Present: Nightgaunts.

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