HANDS OF FATE: ISSUE 3 WRITTEN BY: LUCA BALDASSARRA
In the Nevada Desert, the fight between Damian Hellstorm and Johnny Blaze rages. Blaze is in Rider Form, but has no control of himself. He is possessed by the Demon Lord Mephisto and the powerful artifact he holds known as the "Hand of Fate".
(Ghost Rider raises the chain, silently meeting Damian's charge)
Damian charges toward the Ghost Rider, his trident raised. The two exchange blows, Damian's trident colliding with the red hot metal of the chain and leaving long cuts along the Ghost Rider's body. Though deflecting the fatal blows, Damian is still overwhelmed by the brutal chain strikes and suffers long gashes along his torso and arms.
Johnny Blaze (thought): It's like a fog. A choking, endless fog. Images flutter by, barely visible. Sounds are distorted. Screams. Muffled screams. I can feel the pain. Like hot knives, slicing through me. Am I bleeding? Please, just make it all end...
The two opponents exchange blows for what seems like hours, endlessly. Ghost Rider breathes in deeply and exhales black fire from his jaws. Damian skilfully dodges as a nearby boulder is melted from the unholy heat. After dodging, Hellstorm keeps his distant, trident at the ready. Damian Hellstorm is breathing heavy, his coat is tattered and he has long scars scattered across his body. The Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, stands in front of him silent and foreboding. Long gashes are scattered across his body, flaming blood oozing from the wounds. Despite the damage, he is completely unaffected. Damian is near exhaustion.
Damian (thought): I don't understand.....he should have been finished. I've hit him with everything I have. I practically skewered him! I'm running out of time...and options. Do I really need to kill this monster? Do I really need to kill Johnny Blaze?
Blaze...I'm not going to warn you again. Whatever control you're under, fight it. Fight it with everything you have. Don't let that bastard control you.
Ghost Rider (in a low raspy voice): Mephisto. Mephisto demands....I...I serve Mephisto.
The Ghost Rider's chain lashes out at Damian, catching him off guard.
Damian: ARGHHHH! Damn you Blaze, you weak minded--GAHHHHHH!
The searing heat of the chain burns into Damian's flesh. Ghost Rider slowly walks towards his victim, tugging at the chain with each step. Damian vision slowly blurs from the pain. Ghost Rider stands over his defeated opponent, silently staring.
Damian: Go on then....end it. Just know that this is all on you now Blaze. It's all your fault.
The green portal that Ghost Rider arrived on suddenly begins to churn and spin, creating a vacuum. Ghost Rider loses balance as he is being tugged toward the vortex. The struggle loosens the chain's hold and Damian breaks free. Gathering his strength, Damian shoves Ghost Rider into the portal, and he is consumed by it. The portal flickers as Ghost Rider passes through, closing immediately after. Damian collapses, completely exhausted from the effort. Behind Damian, his saviour stands shrouded by the now darkened desert.
Damian: What took you so long Strange? The bastard almost got me back there. This is much worse than we thought...Mephisto is using some powerful magic....incredibly powerful. We need to find a way to stop him, fast.
The shrouded figure steps forward, slowly revealing himself. His dark green cloak trailing behind him, snapping in the night air.
Dr.Doom: Indeed demon, Mephisto is a much larger threat than you could possibly imagine. That is why I have come. Now, surrender to Doom.
=Meanwhile, in a SHIELD safe house, Captain America trains alone in a large gym. The near-silent gym filled with the sound of his heavy breathing and grunting as he spars with a punching bag. Captain America slows his pace and casually walks over to his bag, reaching for his towel. His expression is calm as he pats himself down. He straightens and looks into a seemingly empty corner of the gym=
Captain America: You have about five seconds to step out of the shadows and tell me why I shouldn't replace my punching bag with your face.
The once empty corner begins to shimmer, and out of the darkness Young Loki appears.
Young Loki: To be able to sense me through my illusion spells is no small feat Midgardian. Thor's respect was well placed for you. Please excuse my intrusion, I mean no harm Steven Rogers. I am--
Cap's hand slowly reaches for his Shield which leans against the gym bench nearby.
Captain America: You're Loki. Thor's brother. Well...a copy of the original. Somehow. But that still doesn't explain why you're here and why I should let you stay.
Young Loki's expression is mixed joy and confusion. His voice is taken back.
Young Loki: Do you speak true Steven Rogers? Do you remember Thor-Odinson? Do you remember my brother?
Captain America's expression is puzzled.
Captain America: How could I forget Thor, after his sacrifice. What's your game Loki?
Young Loki steps towards Cap cautiously. His face is serious.
Young Loki: No games Steven Rogers. If only such were the case. Great danger has come to Midgard, a threat that threatens all the nine realms. I've come seeking answers...that only you can provide.
Why has Dr.Doom taken Damian Hellstorm? What does Captain America know that Young Loki is seeking? What is happening with Dr.Strange, Alejandra, Mephisto, and across the nine realms? Find out in HANDS OF FATE #4!
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HANDS OF FATE: ISSUE 2 WRITTEN BY: LUCA BALDASSARRA
In the Throne Room of the All-Mothers, Loki stands in audience explaining to the rulers of Asgard the terrible news he has discovered about the History Tomes in the libraries of Asgard. Ikol is perched high above his young self, shadowed in the highest parts of the room, unnoticed.
Young Loki: Blank. Blank from cover to cover. Entire histories lost to us, knowledge that we may need in this dire time.
All-Mother Gaea: This news is indeed dire Young Loki-
All-Mother Freyja: -but how much knowledge have we lost since you discovered this news?-
All-Mother Idunn: -can you be sure that this is the work of outside forces?
Young Loki: What other forces could want to rewrite Asgardian history?
The All-Mothers pause for a moment, gazing at one another.
All-Mother Gaea: Your predecessor was not one who would have deeds-
All-Mother Freyja: -that would be looked upon most favourably by the students of history-
All-Mother Idunn: -and very few Asgardians have access to these tomes without our knowledge.
Young Loki's looks at the All-Mothers with growing suspicion
Young Loki: You think I would commit such a crime? Why would you? Why would I?
All-Mother Gaea: It is simply in your nature-
All-Mother Freyja: -mischief is something we simply expect from Asgardia's most revered trickster-
All-Mother Idunn: -just know that we take care to observe all our children closely.
Young Loki: But I have done nothing wrong, I've come to warn you of this foul magic!
Freyja's eyes glow for an instant, and an image of Loki speaking with Mephisto appears before them, hanging in the air.
All-Mother Freyja: Idunn speaks true Loki. Would you care to do the same?
Young Loki face grows flushed with anger
Young Loki: What I do, I do for the good of Asgardia. For the good of all its inhabitants. In the memory of my brother Thor!
The All-Mothers sit in silence from Loki's outburst. Then look at one another, confused.
All-Mother Gaea: Who is this Thor you speak of?
Young Loki: Surely you jest All-Mother Gaea. You expect me to believe you know not of the mighty Thor? Son of Odin? He who slayed the Serpent and saved us from certain doom?
All-Mother Idunn: The All-Mothers do not forget their children. We know of no such hero, no matter how great you say his deeds are.
Young Loki is shocked momentarily by what he has just heard. He collects himself and once again addresses the All-Mothers.
Young Loki: Forgive my outburst All-Mothers. I forget myself.
All-Mother Gaea looks over Young Loki suspiciously. She lets out a low sigh.
All-Mother Gaea: We will forgive your actions this time. However, see to it that you stay out of trouble Young Loki. We know not what you spoke of with Mephisto, but know that the eyes of the All-Mother's remain vigilant, and if we suspect that your schemes threaten Asgardia-
All-Mother Freyja: -you will know our wrath to be most-
All-Mother Idunn: -unpleasant.
Young Loki: If you'll excuse me All-Mothers.
Young Loki leaves the Asgardia throne room, a flurry of thoughts racing in his mind, but one comment stands out among all that he has heard.
Young Loki (thought): How could they have forgotten Thor?
----Meanwhile in the Nevada Desert----
Damian Hellstorm stands with his trident in his hands. The corpses of several demons lay scattered around him, and in front of him a lone demon pants heavily, blood seeping from several wounds on his body.
Damian: You may be all that remains of Blackheart's forces from his attempt to bring Hell to Earth, but I'd be willing to bet you still have ties to Mephisto.
Demon: Whoever I serve, I serve loyally to the end. What makes you think I would tell you anything I know Damian Hellstorm?
Damian: Believe me demon....I want nothing more than your utmost resistance. I find the forcing to be much more enjoyable than the learning when it comes to your kind. You'll be talking soon enough.
Demon: Spoken like a true Demon Lord. *spits blood in the sand* Do your worst Damian Hellstorm.
Damian's eyes begin to glow red, when suddenly a green portal opens behind the demon.
Demon: What? What kind of trick is this Hellstorm?
A fiery chain lashes out of the portal and wraps around the Demon throat. The Demon claws at the chain in vein, as it begins to glow from red to bright orange to a brilliant white.
Damian: Oh crap....not him. Not yet.
The Demon's head is severed from his body, the neck charred from the chain. The head and body slowly sear from the burn. Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider Form emerges from the portal.
Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze): Damian Hellstorm. Lord Mephisto sends his regards.
Damian picks up his trident, his eyes still glowing red.
Damian: If we do this Rider, controlled by Mephisto or not, I won't hold back.
Ghost Rider (Blaze) draws his chain back, the Demon's body now smoldering from its heat. He slowly walks forward spinning the chain at his side.
Damian: Fine then. Let's get started.
Damian throws off his jacket revealing the pentagram on his chest glowing brightly, and his hair ignites into flame. He raises his trident and charges.
What has happened to the memories of Asgardia? How is Loki immune to the spells? Will Damian survive his fight with Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze? To be CONTINUED in Hands of Fate #3!
HANDS OF FATE: ISSUE 1 WRITTEN BY: LUCA JORIKO BALDASSARRA
Loki sits in a large Asgardian Library, Ikol perched on a bookshelf nearby. Sitting at a large table, surrounded by various tomes, Asgard's resident trickster pours over the stacks while thinking about his meeting with Mephisto, the Demon Lord.
Loki: Tell me Ikol, how would you react to an offer of such magnitude?
Ikol: -Mephisto cannot hope to attain that which he seeks without powerful magic. Within these tomes may lie the very hint we need to uncover what tricks he hides.-
(Loki sighs, casually flipping the page)
Loki: So you have said, many times over. Would we not simply be able to LOCATE the item with a meeting? Surely he Demon Lord would not deny welcome to his "valuable" allies.
Ikol: His enforcer Loki. The Rider. You would be wise not to take him lightly.
Loki: Well I cannot expect to take him darkly Ikol, after all his head is aflame.
Ikol: Cease this worthless prattle, continue your studies.
(Loki sighs, and flips the page once more. As he does so his expression changes from boredom to surprise. He stares astonished at the tome, and abruptly stands.)
Loki: Ikol. The pages...what has happened?
(Ikol lands on his shoulder)
Ikol: What is exactly that which is missing. This is worse than it appears....much worse. We're running out of time.
----Meanwhile, in the Astral Plane----
(Google Translate what strange is saying "Latin-English", enjoy.)
Doctor Strange: Dico me spiritus astral planum, quod magicis turbat fabricae re!
(Without warning Doctor Strange is surrounded by a golden ring. In his astral form he struggles to contain his shape. The Ring begins to spin and swing around him, creating a sphere.)
Voice in the Astral Plane: Fatum est infectum. Fila fracti sunt. Chaos venit in ignis. Respice ad fabulis. Sunt diriget novum Manus. Agere.
(Blinding light envelops him, and he returns to his body and is thrown back from the spell circle. Damian Hellstorm is in the room with him and helps him to his feet)
---Back in the Sanctum Sanctorum---
Damian: What happened Strange? You were screaming! Did the spell work? What did you learn?!
Doctor Strange: Legends....need to find new Hand....Chaos in Fire....we're running out of time.
Damian: Chaos in fire? I do NOT like the sound of that....but what does it all mean?
Doctor Strange: The Riders, they are at the center of this. I know it. We need to find the girl Damian. Soon.
---Somewhere in the American Mid-West---
Alejandra is stopped on the side of the highway, and reaches into her jacket pocket. Alejandra pulls out a blackened chain fragment. The links are severed at each end, with a few links intact. She sits on her bike at the side of the highway, drinking a bottle of water. Alejandra closes her eyes and begins to pray to herself. When she opens her eyes, fire erupts and she transforms into the Rider. The chain links in her hand come to life and glowing red hot, point into the distance, down the highway. She returns to human form, and places the chain which is now smoking, back into her pocket. She climbs back onto her bike, and continues in the direction the chain pointed.
Alejandra (thought): Blaze...I don't know what you are doing, or why, but when I find you we will end what we started. One way or another, there will only be one Rider. For your crimes against God, I will slay you and your master Mephisto. The power of Zarathos guides me.
(She accelerates hard, and continues down the road)
---In Hell, Mephisto's throne room---
Mephisto sits on his throne surrounded by orbs. On the orbs the images of his allies Doctor Doom and Loki. On other orbs, Damian Hellstorm and Doctor Strange, Alejandra, and Asgard. He holds the Amulet in his hand, admiring it, as his eyes shift from the orbs to the surface of the piece.
Mephisto: Such a small insignificant artifact...with such great power. How could the Lord of Fear have hidden this away for so long? What do you think Blaze? Any insight?
Blaze stands silently beside the throne of Mephisto, in Rider Form, staring into the distance.
Mephisto: Yes, you are pretty boring like this. Not much conversation in you these days. Not unless I say so anyway. *The amulet glows brightly*
Johnny Blaze (in Rider Form): *Gasp* Where? Where am I?
Mephisto: Indeed, where in the HELL are you Blaze?
Johnny Blaze: *Instinctively reaching for his weapons* Mephisto! What have you done you evil piece of Fu--
*The Amulet glows brightly again, and Johnny reverts to human form, losing his chain weapon*
Mephisto: Now Johnny, don't get all worked up over this. I wanted to show you something before I put the leash back on.
Johnny: My powers? How do you control them?! You gave them back! That was the deal!
Mephisto: No, no, Johnny. The deal was I give you your power back, and you STOP the girl. When that showdown didn't end to well, I came back for you. After all, I couldn't just leave you there, you are still very useful for my plans.
Johnny: Plans? I'm not apart of your plans anymore. *Looks over to the orb with Alejandra* Send me to Alejandra Mephisto. I'll keep my end of the deal.
Mephisto: Oh no Johnny. The girl doesn't need to be stopped quite yet, I still have need of her. Besides, I'm finally getting the hang of this fancy little trinket.
*Mephisto lifts the Amulet*
Mephisto: It's called...the Hand of Fate. One of my servants plucked it out of Dark Asgard before the heroes destroyed it. Nifty little trinket...I'm sure the Lord of Fear won't be missing it too much.
Johnny: Whatever it is you're planning Mephisto. They'll stop you. *Points to the orbs of the heroes* They always do!
Mephisto: What don't you understand about Hand. Of. FATE! I'm not playing the same "game" anymore Blaze. No one is. When I'm done, everything will be different, and with you protecting me, no one will be able to stop it.
*The Amulet glows once again*
Johnny: *Johnny grits his teeth, and his eyes slowly fill with black. He transforms back into the Rider*
Mephisto: -smiling- Now then, where was I?
- To be continued in Hands of Fate Issue 2 -
HANDS OF FATE: ISSUE 0 PROLOGUE WRITTEN BY: LUCA JORIKOBALDASSARRA
*From a nearby tree, we see Young Loki walking down a park path*
Young Loki sits on a park bench in Broxton, Oklahoma the sun rising in the horizon. Lost in his thoughts, Young Loki reflects on an earlier message he received from Mephisto, the Demon Lord of Hell. The message stated simply. "I would speak with you, young trickster. I have news of which would be most intriguing to a youth of such cunning and treachery. Meet me in six days, on the sixth minute of the sixth hour. Come alone."
Loki (thought): Is it wise of me to trust a demon to be punctual? Rather, should I place any trust in one whom I have slighted so recently? I am nothing if not bold, though this sunrise is rather lovely. The birds sing such beautiful songs in scenery such as this.
*Leaning back in the bench and stretching,*
Loki: Is it not a beautiful morning my silent friend?
*Loki hears movement coming from behind him. A rattling, clanking sound*
Mephisto (In human guise): Young Loki, it seems you have accepted my invitation. I should be thankful that you had the wisdom to avoid an unpleasant meeting.
Loki: (Looking past him to the figure standing behind Mephisto) I am told that I am quite mature for my age Demon Lord. Though I had thought we were meeting alone? Who stalks in the shadows behind you?
Mephisto (smirking): No one to be concerned with, so long as you have kept the secret of our meeting.
Loki: A child must respect the wishes of his elders I suppose. What is it you have brought to concern me with? If you wish to address the business of our last meeting, I apologize but that is quite---
Mephisto (serious tone): Do you feel it Loki? Do you feel the changes?
Loki (surprised): Changes? I must admit I know not of what you speak?
Mephisto (leaning on the bench): The nine realms are in flux. The All-Mothers have saw fit to alter reality. Midgard's heroes....are easily deceived, but not beings such as us. I seek allies Loki, allies who wish to meet this change and find their place within it. Before it settles more...permanently.
------Scene change to Latveria, the Throne room of Doctor Doom-----
Doom: What would a Demon Lord possibly gain from an alliance with Doom?
Mephisto (laughs): I require those who have adequate magical knowledge Doom, and of the mortal beings you are quite formidable.
Doom: The Rider skulking outside, was he not once your enemy?
Mephisto (smirk): We have reached an agreement ,his motives are not your concern. You need only know that the power he wields supports mine own. Would you join your might to ours?
----Scene change to the Sanctum Sanctorum where Doctor Strange and Damian Hellstorm meet to discuss recent events----
Hellstorm: I don't like it Strange, Mephisto has appeared all over the world. He is planning something.
Strange: Is what you've discovered true? He travels with a Ghost Rider?
Hellstorm: My informants are not mistaken. You can't miss that flaming skull Strange. But from what I understand, there are two riders now. The battle that happened a few weeks ago, it somehow brought them together.
Strange: They were fighting. The damage was devastating. The girl is incredibly strong, and Johnny Blaze....I have not seen him so distraught in all the time I've known him.
Hellstorm: So...it's all happening then. Just like you saw in your visions.
Strange: The visions were clouded Damian, we don't know exactly what is happening, we need--
Hellstorm: WE NEED to prepare Strange. We can't be caught off guard this time, not like Las Vegas. (Referring to Circle of Four, by Rick Remender)
-silence between the two for a few moments-
Strange: I will prepare the initial spell work, in the mean time you must track Mephisto's movements. Follow him as closely as you can, but stay hidden.
Hellstorm: I will find the girl, we will need her power for the days ahead.
------On the outskirts of Broxton, Oklahoma-----
Alejandra: Explain to me why I should not slay you where you stand Asgardian.
*Pressing her sword against Loki's throat, she is holding him from behind*
Loki: Well, if you would kindly allow me to *uff* breathe for just a moment, I will do just that.
Alejandra: What do you want? Why did you ask me to come here?
Loki: To warn you, about the actions of your enemy. Mephisto is gathering allies, he has a plan that will change the world as we know it and he needs the power of a Ghost Rider to do it.
Alejandra: Mephisto needs my help? Why would I help the demon lord of Hell?
Loki: He doesn't need you, because he already has a Rider of his own. Mephisto has possessed Johnny Blaze.
Alejandra: What? But how did he....Tell me everything you know Asgardian, right now.
*In a nearby tree, a magpie watches Loki and Alejandra talk.*
To be continued in "Hands of Fate" Issue 1.