The date is April 25, 2030. The planet has been flooded with criminals and chaos, the government has been overthrown, and all known superheroes have either been killed or have gone into hiding. The citizens of Earth now obey the criminals and supervillians that threaten them. They survive through each day with hope, hope that the heroes might rise again to restore the world to its former glory.
In a subterranean base deep underground, a not-entirely-human in a spacesuit is working on an android. His suit is a mix of green, gray, and black, made mostly of metal. A beam of blue light emanates from the spot in his helmet where his eyes would be. He wears the suit to protect what is held inside, a being made of pure, unstable energy. The suit shields Guardian from Earth’s air, which is toxic to his body. A cure to his condition is still elusive despite his intelligence. The suit is his only way of living on Earth.
The white room that he is working in is filled with gadgets and tools, strewn about in a seemingly random fashion. A pile of scrap metal sits in the corner, overflowing with junk: a broken radio, half of a computer, even a couple damaged airplane parts. He currently sits at a desk working on the upper body of a robot, one of his numerous projects.
The room is Guardian’s personal laboratory, and he uses it to build technology for his boss and teammate, Minion. The project that he is currently working on, titled Apetura, is an android designed to be an assistant to Guardian. It will have all of his technical prowess and limitless intelligence. Its purpose is to assist Guardian with a far more complex task: building a more advanced robot from scratch that can match the martial abilities of Minion, a necessary requirement for any member of his team. The robot will be named Namaste and will be a member of Minion’s team of superheroes, The Vindicators. Their goal is to save the world from the evil that runs unchallenged throughout Earth. Minion walks into the room, the reds and blues of his super suit shining in the light. He has a smile on his face and appears to be very excited, practically jumping with every step.
“How goes the project, my friend? I will require Namaste to be ready in a week’s time so that I can properly assess his abilities,” Minion inquires. Guardian looks up and hesitates for a second before speaking.
“Well… there’s a slight problem. To create an android from scratch in that amount of time I will require an assistant, which I am creating now. She will be specifically designed for this task and will hopefully prove to be a valuable asset to my lab. But Namaste should be ready by next week if all goes well, sir,” Guardian replies.
Minion smiles and leaves the room. He walks through the main floor of the base and into the elevator, a stainless steel contraption with an array of floor buttons, much more than any regular elevator. Minion inserts his key card into a slot on the bottom of the button panel and presses the lowest floor in the entire complex. The elevator descends rapidly and soon reaches the bottom, dinging with every floor passed. The doors open into the portal room, a room created for only one purpose: teleportation. A large portal-making device sits in the very center of this room. It looks like a metallic, circular frame, but nothing currently sits in the frame. A terminal slides out of the wall with Minion’s arrival, and an interface is brought up to his hand. He inputs the exact coordinates of his destination, and the terminal slides silently back into the wall. The portal machine emits a low humming noise, and a portal fills the frame, showing a glimpse of the other world. Minion enters into the darkness of the portal and is teleported away. The portal closes behind him.
The world that Minion enters is pitch black, except for the light coming from the portal behind him. But the light disappears almost immediately with the closing of the portal. The planet is named Ragnarok, after the doomsday story in which the sun itself is eaten and the world is plunged into darkness, a very fitting name for a place devoid of light. Minion takes a pair of night vision goggles out from his belt, puts them on, and starts walking down a meticulous path with the aid of his now clear vision. His surroundings aren’t much, just black spires of rock and the occasional hole, but the night vision helps to distinguish them from the rest of the darkness.
Without light, this planet is incapable of sustaining life, except for the person that Minion is looking for. The planet was once great. Its surface was vibrant, its animals happy and peaceful. But that was before the planet’s sun exploded. Everything went downhill from there. Soon, Minion reaches a steep ravine, the bottom nowhere in sight. He grabs onto the end of a tall pole that rests against his side of the gap, as if it was placed there on purpose. Minion vaults across the ravine with practiced ease and leaves the pole resting against the side of the ravine that he now stands upon. He takes a series of complicated turns and reaches another ravine, albeit with less distance between both sides. A metal bridge has been built here by someone, to allow Minion passage across to the other side. He is careful to avoid the tripwire placed between the second and third steps. At the end of the bridge, he reaches a large cocoon made of pure darkness, the lair of the person he is seeking.
The door opens eerily as Minion approaches the cocoon. He enters the lair of darkness and spots the only inhabitant of Ragnarok: Lady Death. She is a creature of shadows, specializing in the magic of darkness and necromancy. She used to be the daughter of a wealthy human family, but the reason for the sudden shift from her past self to her present self is unknown. Lady Death rarely talks about her past. She is currently sitting in a chair made of darkness, lazily playing with a wisp of darkness in one hand.
A scene plays out between the darkness, a battle between two contenders. Two stick figures wielding swords exchange blows silently. One lunges at the other, but the sword is knocked away by the second, a clearly better fighter. The better fighter holds up his sword to the other figure’s throat. The swordless fighter, clearly defeated, puts his hands above his head. The fighter with the sword gives the swordless fighter his sword back, and they shake hands.
Minion stands in the doorway patiently, knowing not to disturb her. Lady Death lets him wait for a second before letting the darkness dissipate and turning around to face Minion, intrigue in her eyes.
“What kind of project do you want me to work on this time? It’s always projects with you, no fun.” Lady Death makes a fake pouty face. “You’ll owe me a favor, of course, for my compliance. You won’t know when or where, but it’ll come sooner or later,” Lady Death says slyly, a grin spreading across her face. Minion’s expression falls.
“I thought you would let me off the hook given our history. Especially because of that last favor you wanted. That one took a lot of resources, especially from Guardian.”
“I insist,” Lady Death replies. Minion thinks for a couple moments and reluctantly comes to a conclusion.
“Fine,” Minion mumbles. Lady Death winks and pulls her cloak across her body, disappearing into the darkness and teleporting to Minion’s base. Minion rolls his eyes and sighs.
“Of course she’d just leave me here,” he says exasperatedly. “I’ll have to walk all the way back now.” Minion mumbles as he walks back down the long and boring route to his portal.
Minion passes through the portal back into his lair, entering the room with a satisfying swoosh. The darkness of Ragnarok crawls into the room for a moment but is sucked out when the portal closes. Lady Death sits in a conjured chair of darkness in the corner, pretending to be asleep. She pretends to wake up suddenly, as if Minion’s entrance was loud enough to disrupt her sleep.
“Ah, you’ve finally arrived. I’ve been waiting here forever. I wondered if you would even return at all,” Lady Death drawls. Minion rolls his eyes, clearly not appreciating the sarcasm.
“The project is this way, follow me,” Minion says forcefully. He walks into the elevator room and turns left into a small room, Lady Death following right behind him. The room is painted white with nothing but a skeleton made of metal in the center. The skeleton slightly resembles that of a bat, with an elongated face and winglike bone structure where ears would be. Minion walks directly towards the skeleton, while Lady Death keeps her distance and fidgets with her hands.
“Don’t be scared, it doesn’t bite!” Minion says jokingly, beckoning her forward.
“I… have an aversion to metal,” Lady Death says hesitantly, only inching forward a small amount. Minion nods slightly, respecting her wishes and making a mental note of this occasion, so as to not repeat it in the future.
“This is my project, or at least part of it. I want to create an intelligent creature from scratch, made of darkness and water. I want it to be like a human, but enhanced. I need the darkness from you. I can provide everything else,” Minion says. Lady Death reluctantly inches a little closer to the metal skeleton and begins to collect a ball of darkness in her hands. She closes her eyes, concentrating on the darkness, and it soon grows boulder sized. Lady Death opens her eyes and launches the darkness at the skeleton, covering the skeleton completely and then some. She rushes to the darkness covered skeleton and begins to sculpt the blob into a figure. She starts at the bottom, giving the being sturdy feet. Lady Death moves to the legs, sculpting stocky upper and lower legs for balance. The torso is slim and feminine, with small breasts and narrow shoulders. Her arms are thin with small but strong hands. Lady Death stands back, admiring her handiwork for a moment, and moves upward to the head. She sculpts a human face with slight batlike features, small winglike ears at the back of the head and a prominent nose. She steps back again.
Minion raises his right arm and forms a gauntlet made of water. He walks up to the creature and infuses water into her body. The creature’s chest glows blue for a moment before fading. Minion’s water gauntlet then turns white with light as he gives his project her final necessary component, life. Her body lifts into the air, and her eyes open wide, revealing blue irises. Minion steps back as the creature touches the floor. She bends down on one knee and bows her head, waiting for Minion to name her.
“Chiroptera, rise and protect the citizens of Earth! Help me save the world!” Minion exclaims. Chiroptera stands up tall and tests out her water abilities, creating shoulder pads and knee pads effortlessly, the magical abilities coming to her naturally. She then creates a sword out of water, takes a few practice swings, and lets the sword’s form coalesce into a sphere of water. She turns it to ice, then back to water. The water is absorbed into her body, and she looks up at Minion.
“I am ready to serve,” she says. Minion looks at Lady Death, smiles, and looks back at Chiroptera.
“Welcome to my base of operations,” he exclaims proudly. Minion hears a gasp behind him and turns around quickly. Lady Death’s black gloves are on the floor, and she is clutching her hands, which are turning white and skeletal from the palms to the wrists. The rest of her hands have already been turned white. Flesh drips off her hands, forming a small puddle at her feet. She bites her lip, trying to hide the obvious pain that the process is causing her.
“What’s happening to you?!” Minion asks concernedly. Lady Death gasps before responding.
“It’s from using too much magic… The darkness is corrupting me… eating through my skin. I can’t use that much darkness at once or it’ll… consume me entirely… This has happened before, it’s the cost of my abilities… ” Her flesh stops melting, and Lady Death straightens her body, her arrogant air materializing again. She puts her gloves back on and tries to pretend like nothing happened, acting as if the process never happened.
“Are you alright?!” Minion asks worriedly.
“I’m fine,” Lady Death says angrily. She rolls her eyes and teleports back to her lair.