The Indigo Light (4)
Two days later, I was still agonizing over what happened to Sugarman. “I just can’t shake it,” I told Grandmaster. “Empathy is what set you apart. If the incident didn’t bother you, you’d be no better than the Punisher.” “Who?” I asked.
“Never mind.” He said. “Your compassion is what makes you the you that you are. It’s why the ring chose you. Out of all the trillions and trillions that could have been selected, the ring directed me to you. Are you ready to continue?” “Yeah, I guess so,” I answered.
“Thus far, you have encountered a galactic brawler, and a sociopathic death camp Commandant. Very serious foes to be sure. But now we change up, not only the paradigm of the foe, but the context of his Universe as well.” I looked up confused. “His Universe?” “Yes, ring bearer. For the next battle we travel to the Negative Zone.”
“The Negative Zone is an entire Anti-matter Universe which exists parallel to our own. A Universe made up of negative energy, where the physical principles of our Universe do not apply. For example, in the Negative Zone, up may be down, or in may be out.”
“So, like a mirror world?” “No,” he said. “Not at all. It’s charged with negative energy. While some aspects might seem like mirror examples of one thing, the next example might be a negative version of that same thing. Our Universe, our Multiverse more exactingly, is constantly expanding. A result of the sudden emergence of matter, and the corresponding energy release from that emergence- what some people call “Big Bang.” The Negative Zone suffers from The Big Crunch, a condition from the anti-matter there collapsing upon itself. All the matter, the Anti-matter, rushes to a great cosmic vortex in the center, ultimately setting up for another “Big Bang” incident.
I stared at him. “That makes my head hurt.” “I apologize”, he said. “Its necessary to draw the context of the conditions for your next battle. We are going there, and you may not be prepared for the situation otherwise. Now pay attention. This Negative Zone is in a state of energetic chaos. The governance of the Zone has changed hands many times, but falls mostly to and brilliant and powerful insectoid creature named Annihilus.”
“So, go to an anti-matter universe and fight a psychopath insect? Great.” Grandmaster continued. “His greatest power is derived from his Cosmic Control Rod- a weapon which allows him to manipulate cosmic energy, control the molecular structure of matter, and project vast amounts of energy and concussive force. He has bested some of the most powerful heroes in the Multiverse.”
“But?” I asked. “His arrogance, which he believes is his strength, is in fact his weakness. He looks on all other beings as less than himself. He is without remorse, being willing to vaporize entire planets if he wishes.”
“So that sounds easy,” I decided. “I hit him with a couple of psychoplasmic blasts, and he’s all done.” Grandmaster almost smiled. “Except that we will be battling him in the Negative Zone. You won’t know what effect each attack will have until you actually try. If you happen to pick the wrong type or intensity of assault, it could add power to him instead of subtract it.” “So how do I fight him?” I asked. “The answer to that question,” said GM, “is the point of the entire battle.”
We teleported to a Universe that looked like the colors were all backwards. Reds were light blue, blues looked orange, and my ring looked green under the reverse light. Grandmaster’s skin had turned brown-orange. We stood on a barren planetoid. The noise of the area was nearly deafening. I tried to yell to overcome the sound, but the louder I yelled the quieter I got. I stopped yelling and whispered. My voice boomed across the void. “This is definitely the weirdest place I have ever been to.”
Grandmaster whispered back. “What you see now is just a fraction of it’s unusual properties.” Grandmaster pushed off the planetoid with great effort and slowly floated from its surface. I didn’t catch on to what he was doing and gently jumped up into the air. I rocketed off the planet’s surface and Grandmaster had to catch me with an energy beam and reel me back in.
“Ungently,” he said. It didn’t take long for the Cosmic Crazy to detect our presence there. Annihilus dove on us with his mechanical wings, screeching about us being there to take his control rod. Grandmaster intercepted him and talked with him for a minute, making what looked like a deal, because at the end they shook hands.
Big Bug flew to a nearby asteroid and waited. Grandmaster returned to my side. “I had to offer him a prize, of course, if he beats you. I absolutely did not ask him for any agreement where he comes at you with less than full strength. So even though he understands we are not here to steal his power, he is going to fight you like we are here for that purpose.”
I flew to the waiting Annihilus and Grandmaster enclosed us in a force field. As were the other fights, no one would leave until there was only one man standing. (battle listed here).
I awoke in the infirmary. Grandmaster was standing over me, actually looking concerned. “How long was I out?” He smiled. “Only 6 hours. You are doing significantly better.” I sat up on the bed. My whole body ached. “Better? I lost.”
“You lost this battle,” he said. “But you gained much more than a victory. Many times, conflicts are not straightforward. A head-on attack is not always the best strategy. You have learned this, and it will serve you when you meet Annihilus again.”
“Again? I didn’t want to meet him this time.” I looked at the ring. “He tried to do something to the ring.” “He was attempting to use his control rod to change its properties, and disempower you. If he had succeeded, the results could have been catastrophic.” I stood trying to stretch. “And you are telling me I have to fight him again?” “Yes,” he said. “In the future. Not now. But later.”