Artwork and Story by Leonard Pigg
Still grieving the loss of Calamity Jane and the discovery that Koschei was a clone, Doctor Omega found himself truly lost. Prometheus (Frankenstein’s Monster) was there when it all happened and had been sticking around, looking after Omega. For days, Doctor Omega was catatonic and lost in his own grief. Prometheus, John Henry and the Iron Ace spent weeks repairing Omega’s ship, which had been running on low power after his encounter with the Bride of Frankenstein and Captain Nemo. Once the repairs had been made, the heroes returned to Earth and sought out Doc Ardan. They were aware of his synthetic island off the coast of Florida in international waters. Doc Ardan had made the base of his island from discarded plastic that was floating in the ocean. The ship materialized onto the edge of the island, making the familiar didgeridoo sound as it arrived.
Within moments, Doc Ardan comes walking onto the beach wearing hospital scrubs, with an automatic rifle over his shoulder and a pair of robotic copper-colored Shiba Inu dogs at his side. Omega’s ship looked like a UFO and still had a damaged exterior. John Henry and Iron Ace come out first, greeting Ardan. When Prometheus comes out carrying Doctor Omega in his arms, the dogs start barking at the hulking creature.
“Shush, boys. He’s a friend.” Both dogs fall silent and sit. “What the devil happened here?” Ardan asks.
John Henry says in a sullen tone, “We had a battle with two of the Six Emperors. Omega lost his companions and his ship was nearly destroyed. We did what we could to get it somewhat repaired, but was hoping you might be able to help?”
Iron Ace chimes in, “The ship can fly around now, but it’s unable to travel through time. Neither of us are that adept at temporal circuitry and the good Doctor is still in shock. Prometheus has been feeding him and keeping him alive, while we worked on the ship.”
Doc Ardan gives a “Hmm,” and starts to look over Doctor Omega, checking his vitals and shining a light in his eyes. “We should get this man to the lab, it seems only one of his hearts is still working properly. The other two are beating quite slowly. Let’s get him taken care of first.” Ardan says, gesturing for them to follow him.
Ardan rushes ahead of the group and takes out a clicker from his pocket. He presses the clicker, it makes a chirp noise and a large metal garage shimmers into view. “I always relish an opportunity to get back in the lab! Things have been quite quiet as of late. Come in and place Doctor Omega on the examining table. Dogs, keep a watch on the perimeter of the island.” Ardan says, as he puts up his gun and puts on a lab coat. He then grabs a hi-tech set of goggle and dons them, looking closely at the unresponsive Doctor Omega. Pulling a cellphone from his pocket, he shines a green beam from it over Omega’s form.
“I’ve got an app that scans biological data and sends it to my computers. I know Omega isn’t human, but I need a baseline of his physiology.” Ardan says.
“I could try and interface the ship’s computer system with yours, Doc?” Iron Ace says casually.
Doc Ardan nods and says, “Make it so. Use the device in the corner that looks like a silver fire hydrant. Place it on the ship and press the red button.”
Iron Ace grabs the device and rushes out of the room toward the ship. A few moments later, a “Ding” noise comes from Ardan’s computer and he looks over at the screen.
“Computer, correlate data relevant to reviving Doctor Omega.” Ardan says, while Prometheus and John Henry look on.
As they sit and wait, John Henry’s chest starts to glow red. He pats his chest and says, “I’m being summoned by Shango. My divine heart is flaring up, so it must be urgent. Keep me posted, gents!” With that, John Henry takes out his hammer and taps it on the ground. A vortex of flame surrounds him and he is teleported away.
Iron Ace comes back into the room and says, “Is it working?” Ardan starts humming as he looks over Omega, tweaking his goggles as he goes along, then takes out a syringe and draws blood from Doctor Omega. “There’s food in the pantry in the next room if you’re hungry. I’ve a feeling this is going to take a while.” Ardan says.
Prometheus and Iron Ace get up and head that way. As Ardan looks at the blood sample under a microscope, the computer gives a long beep, then says: “Doctor Omega is a member of the Great Race of Yith, a time traveling species that has existed for eons. His ancestors had a more alien, plantlike appearance and in recent centuries, had become a hybrid culture that existed beneath this galaxy’s sun, cloaked from view. In times of great trauma, whether mental or physical, he could go into a coma-like state to heal. In the event of being mortally wounded, he may go through an energetic cellular rejuvenation process, thus changing his physical form completely.”
Doc Ardan goes over to the far wall and looks at a rack of various chemicals and compounds. “Computer, please give a list of similarities to the human physiology.” Ardan says as he starts grabbing different containers and sits at a table.
In the next room, Ace removes his helmet and sits in on a kitchen table. He dusts off his blue armor, then runs his fingers through his black hair. “I haven’t had a proper cup of tea in weeks,” he says to Prometheus, who puts a kettle on the stove.
“I’ve always enjoyed tea. Too bad there’s no liquor around, I could go for a Long Island Iced Tea.” Prometheus says casually. They both sit at the table, sorting through an assortment of Tupperware containers filled with food. Ace holds up one, inspecting it closely and says, “Doc Ardan seems to like making casseroles. I never would have pegged him as the sort, then again he could make almost anything.”
Prometheus pauses a moment, holding up his finger and says, “I feel a massive energy source nearby. It’s not from Ardan’s lab. The two get up and go back into the lab, where Ardan is mixing chemicals together. Before they can speak, there is the sound of an explosion outside and the entire island shakes.
Ace puts his helmet back on and says, “Stay with Omega, Prometheus and I will handle this!” The two rush out the door.
Next to Omega’s UFO is a dimensional tear, from which energy crackles out into the air. Koschei steps out wearing all black with a priest collar. His white hair is wild and he is wearing sunglasses. His pale skin is drenched in sweat. Behind him is a striking man of color with short black hair. He is in a black coat, dressed in gray slack and shirt, wielding dual pistols. The robot dogs rush towards the duo, but are stopped when Koschei whips out a silver medallion with an eight-pointed star on it. “Khatim!” Koschei says and both dogs sit. Iron Ace flies towards the duo, knocking Koschei and the gunman to the ground with concussive energy beams from his gauntlets.
Prometheus leaps onto the armed man, taking the guns from his hands and holding him down on the ground. “You don’t need those, friend.” he says.
“Ulysses Paxton. You come here often?” the man replies.
Koschei springs back to his feet and presses the medallion. When Iron Ace fires his energy beams at him again, the bolts ricochet off a barrier around Koschei and hit Prometheus, sending the hulking brute across the beach and into a tree. Ulysses springs back up, leaping toward the Iron Ace with a kick. The quick and sudden attack sends Ace to the ground.
“Would you believe I come in peace?” Paxton says as he holds his hands out and the guns fly into his palms. “Not magic. Just magnetism. Synthetic body with a few after-market modifications.” A moment later, Prometheus leaps back into the fray and lands onto Paxton, driving him into the sand. He holds him down easily with his superior strength. Koschei gives a sigh, dropping his weapon and waves a white handkerchief.
“I’m here to help Doctor Omega. I owe him.” Koschei says as he is restrained by Iron Ace.
A few minutes later, a restrained Koschei and Paxton are shown the room where Doctor Omega is. Doc Ardan looks at Koschei and says, “I’ve got a finite amount of knowledge regarding the Great Race of Yith.” Koschei looks on in shock as Ardan speaks.
“Nobody knows about our lineage in this part of the universe. It’s one of our best kept secrets and if you weren’t trying to help Omega, I would do you harm. Please let me try to save him.” Koschei says. Ardan gives a nod to Iron Ace and Prometheus. The two release Koschei and Paxton, who both look in on the fallen doctor. Koschei puts two fingers on Omega’s forehead and concentrates.
“He is in a deep state of grief and wants to die. I can’t let that happen. The universe owes him too much for him to fade away like this,” Koschei says with a tear in his eye. “I’m going to give him some of my life-force in order to jump start his hearts and snap him out of this fugue state. If he dies, place his body in the ship and it will fly off into the sun. If I die, bury me at sea. I deserve no better than that.”
Paxton replies, “I’m the one that can’t die. Can’t you use my life-force instead?”
Koschei snaps his fingers, inspired by the suggestion. “Doc Ardan, I’m going to need another examining table. Place it next to Omega and I’ll have Ulysses lay on it.”
Doc Ardan rushes out of the room and returns with another table. Ulysses stretches out across the table. Koschei stands between the two tables and grabs the hand of Omega and Paxton. He pauses a moment, murmuring a prayer to whomever will listen. The others look on in anticipation as Koschei starts to breathe deep. A warm, blue glow begins to flow from Paxton into Koschei, who channels it into Doctor Omega. The room begins to hum as the energy transference takes place. Koschei continues to draw energy from Paxton, funneling every erg into Omega. He finds himself drenched in sweat, which starts to evaporate as it forms and veins on his hands begin to bulge out. As Koschei begins to have steam rise from his body, all three men begin to breathe in unison. The thump of three heartbeats in Omega is loud, syncing with Koschei’s. There is a flash of light and a wave of energy that goes through the room, knocking everyone back.
The room is smoky and alarms are going off. From the smoke, Doctor Omega steps out and looks around the room. The group cheer and all celebrate, hugging each other and laughing. “Sorry about the mess,” Omega says.
Doc Ardan replies, “Don’t worry, I’ll send you the bill.”
The group end up dining at Ardan’s place and catching up with each other. Alliances are built and some are forged anew. Koschei had used drones to fix Omega’s ship while they ate. Doc Ardan had access to newer technologies which inspired him. Prometheus and Iron Ace decided to head off to America. When all was said and done, everyone went their separate ways. Doctor Omega returned to his ship alone. The ship seemed quieter than normal. Until he hears a strange beeping noise. A moment passes as he looks around for the source of the sound. In his control room, there is a console that lights up with the omega symbol. It gives a location in Canada. Then flashes up an image of a dark-haired man with a mustache and a cigarette dangling from his lips. He looks at the image and he recognizes his old companion, Denis. “Denis! I haven’t seen him in at least twenty years! Perhaps he’s in trouble! Nobody ever summons me for tea.” Omega says to himself as he begins to set the coordinates for where his old friend is located.
Denis Borel sat on the porch of his run-down house, which was out near the middle of nowhere. He enjoyed living a quiet life in the Canadian wilderness. The elderly Frenchman took to wearing a sock hat most days. His overcoat was worn from the years of wear while traveling through time with Doctor Omega, having been through intergalactic wars and faced down multidimensional beings. As it was a cooler night, he found it among his old clothes in the garage and decided to wear it. He could still smell the slight hint of Stellite, which Omega’s ship was made of. Checking the pockets, he finds an unopened pack of Muratti cigarettes from his last adventure with Omega in Italy. Opening the pack, he smells them and takes one out. In his other pocket he finds a lighter.
“I haven’t smoked in over ten years. Don’t mind if I do,” he thinks to himself as he lights up and looks towards the night sky. Sitting back in his chair, he exhales the smoke. He suddenly hears the sound of something metal hit the ground. Looking down, he sees a metal device the size of a hockey puck. It has a raised red omega symbol on the front of it. He reaches down to pick it up and realized it must have fell from his coat pocket.
“I remember this device. It’s a beacon to summon Doctor Omega. I completely forgot I had this. I wonder if the old man’s still alive? Should I wait until there’s a crisis? There’s no guarantee it will even work.” Denis ponders as he cradles the device in his hands.
“Everything happens for a reason, I learned that from him,” Denis says as he presses the omega symbol. It glows bright red. He smiles and finishes his cigarette, placing the device on the seat next to him on the porch. An hour passes, as Denis has another cigarette and began to sip Cognac from his flask. Nodding off on the peorch, he awakens in time to see a bear begin to wander onto the property. He begins to get up from his chair and start toward the door to his home. Suddenly, the sound of a didgeridoo begins to echo louder and louder. Looking confused, the bear runs away as the noise continues. Denis recognizes the sound and rushes off the porch, checking out the area. There is a flash of light as the sound intensifies, the air vibrates and Omega’s UFO appears in the back yard. Denis goes towards the ship as it opens. Doctor Omega steps out and Denis looks at him confused.
“Are you his new companion?” Denis asks. Omega begins to laugh and walks towards Denis.
“Same old Doctor, just a new body is all. Excelsior!” Omega says with a smile.
Denis hugs Omega and says, “The last time we traveled together, you were an old white man and I was young!”
“Seems our roles have changed, Denis. You get to be the old man this time! Although, I do have a much better tan this time around. Want to see the inside of the ship? I’ve made a few changes since you were part of the crew.” Omega says.
Denis nods and walks inside the ship, taking a deep breath of the Stellite smell in the air. It takes him back. He walks along the massive interior, running his fingers across the metallic walls. Wandering around, he finds a trophy room filled with artifacts from their adventures. Omega follows behind him with a smile.
“The interior is bigger! What did you call it back then, spatial distortion? The color scheme is much brighter. It seems more festive.” Denis says as he continues to wander until he finds a room with a golden urn in the center of a shrine. The urn is on a pedestal and is surrounded by a gun belt, with two six shooter pistols crossed in front. There is a picture of a smiling Calamity Jane.
“She was one of your companions? The cowgirl?” Denis asks.
Omega nods silently with teary eyes then says, “She was so much more. Lover. Friend. Defender, if need be. Jane was the kind of woman that would walk the darkest line next to you and never blink. Oddly enough, she was a clone of the original gunslinger. I’m not sure if I would have gotten on with the original, truth be known. However, the time I had with Jane was amazing and not matter how many lives I live, I won’t forget her.”
Denis puts a hand on Omega’s shoulder and looks him in the eyes. “If she had half the amount of fun I had, then she truly had a full life. My only regret is not having spent more time with my mother. I came back in time to go to the funeral. I didn’t know how to explain to my siblings that I was in space fighting monsters while they let her languish alone in a nursing home.”
Omega snaps out of his melancholy and rushes to the control room. Denis follows along and says, “I know that look. What are you about to do?”
“I know exactly what you need. I’m going to mind the gap, old friend. One last trip. Strap in.” Omega says as he sits in his chair and a holographic display appears in front of him.
As Denis straps in to the seat next to Doctor Omega, he gets a lump in his throat. He senses what is going on and is overcome with the nostalgia of time travel. As the ship begins to vibrate and slip into the time stream, he gets teary eyed and smiles. “I never thought I’d get to do this again,” Denis says, patting Omega on the shoulder.
“For all the good you’ve done, this is the least I can do. I calculated it out in my head. Given the number of years you were with me on the other side of the galaxy, there is no chance of you running into your younger self now. It’s a temporal technicality. I like to use those on occasion.” Omega says as the ship suddenly goes quiet. Activating the stealth mode, the exterior of the ship makes itself look like a photo booth. He gets up and walks out. Denis follows.
Opening the door to the ship, Denis sees a downtown area in Paris and rushes outside. He looks around with a sense of wonder and smells the air. Omega points over at a nursing home at the end of the street and says, “Your mother is in there. You should go and spend time with her. I went back in time to about a decade before she passed away. With you here, she won’t be alone.”
Denis hugs Omega, crying. “I can’t believe it. This is beyond my wildest dreams!” he says. Omega hugs back silently.
“I’m sure you could find a place to stay here. Settle back into a relatively normal existence, while your past self is traveling with the old me for a few more years. Reconnect with Mama Borel and remind her you were her number one son. I’ve got a Phantom Card you’re welcome to use. It’s got a few million Euros on it. I imagine that might come in handy.” Omega says as he hands Denis the jade colored credit card.
Denis is rendered speechless at the gesture.
“You don’t have to do anything but be her son now. Leave the never-ending battle to the old warhorses like me. I’ve still got a long way to go. It’s been a pleasure knowing you, Denis Borel. I believe your mother awaits!” Omega says as he points toward the nursing home.
Denis looks towards the nursing home and starts to walk there. There is a vendor selling flowers, so he stops and finds a nice bouquet for his mother. As he reaches the door of the building, he looks back. The photo booth and Doctor Omega are both gone. Denis smiles and gives a sigh of relief.
Nervous, he finds another cigarette in his coat and lights up. He paces back and forth, smoking. Finally, he enters the building to find his mother. The attendant shows him where her room is. When he goes to see her, she has tears of joy as he enters the room. She asks him where he had been all this time and he pulls up a chair next to her bed. Handing her the bouquet of flowers he kisses her on the cheek. Denis spent time with his mother until visiting hours ended. He came back every day after that, always bringing her flowers or chocolates and telling her the stories of his adventures with Doctor Omega. He would write down the stories later on, as a reminder before his memory would fade. By the end of the decade, she passed away. A few months later, Denis decided to publish his stories about Doctor Omega through his own company, Excelsior Publishing.