Previously on Rising Stars…
In the Cosmic World; a Commander in the U.G.M.P, Alexander Aile, tries to carve his own path in life. While on patrol he and his fellow soldier are attacked by an unknown enemy. With Star Brand in hand, he pursues the assailant. Narrowly escaping with his life were it not for a fellow Radiant coming to his rescue. Although they bested the creature it seems to just be the start of their worries…
No matter where on the planet you went, crime was a constantly looming shadow. Sometimes hidden beneath the surface and other times in the open for all to bask in their horrors. Although there were good people who did what they could to stop it, there was only so much they could do. For criminals who possessed unique powers, it required heroes with powers to meet them in battle. In Ireland, hidden deep within a warehouse away from the storm that raged outside, two gangs met to do some much-needed business. The first was the resident Irish Mafia, led by the kingpin himself Red Death. He was a man wearing a deep blood red suit with similarly red-tinted skin. The white of his eyes black and his pupil a piercing red. A short smooth head of hair and matching jet-black beard giving him the image of Satan himself. But the other was still unknown to the young hero who snuck in through a rooftop air vent.
“Can’t believe the boss is dealing with those Americans. Can’t even keep their own heroes off their back and they think they can move in on our turf?” A gangster complains to another gangster while guarded one of the side doors.
“Think that’s the point. We make a deal with ’em and when they collapse we get their turf in the process.” The second gangster replies.
“Win-win.” the second gangster stops when water begins to fall on him. “Is this place leaking?” he looks upward before webs fly down and cover his face. Spreading across his body rapidly like it had a life of its own before pulling him up into the rafters. Not even a second later does the first gangster find himself similarly webbed up and pulled out of sight. His voice muffled as his friend is cocooned by a figure 14 years of age wearing a skintight black costume. A black domino mask with crimson eyes extended to his nose atop pale skin and below a ginger military crew cut. A black widow’s crimson hour-glass shape sat in the center of his chest. Deeper red markings extending slightly from the middle of the hourglass before curving at 4 diagonal angles. The bottom set going down to his feet and the top set up to his shoulders and extending the length of his arms to the index, middle, and ring fingers. Four blade-like spider legs extending from his upper back that skillfully and quickly begin to cocoon his targets.
“One chance to play nice fella.” he says in a hushed tone that still contained a noticeable Irish accent. His spider legs stopping so only the gangsters head remained web free. “Nod if you’re game.” he waits for a nod but receives none. Only a disgusted and hateful leer. “Your loss.” he continues cocooning the man before crawling across the rafters deeper into the warehouse. “Better take out as many as I can quietly. Don’t want ’em calling for backup.” Taking the initiative, the young hero searches for his next prey. Finding two more posted in front of the entrance. With a mighty leap, he lands on one of the guards, sending him into the floor. Using both hands to quickly web him to the floor while backflipping onto the other guard’s shoulder. He wraps his legs around the man’s neck and swings him backward onto the floor. The momentum letting the young hero quickly leap into the air and web him to the floor as well. With two more guards dispatched, he uses his spider legs to leap back up to the rafters and approach the meeting proper.
“Am I supposed to take this seriously?” A deep and thick Irish says.
“That must be Red Death.” the hero thought as he got closer. Sticking to the rafters until he was above the meeting. Below he saw a number of low-level grunts from both sides. To the western wall was Red Death and to the right a woman with jet black skin like coal, white oval shapes over her eyes, and silky black hair that matched the equally black dress she wore. She held a silver suitcase that shone in the dingy warehouse. “That has to the American those guys were talking about.”
“That’s my offer, take it or leave it.” she replies confidently.
“If they take each other down that’d save me a lot of trouble.” the hero thought briefly. Shifting from crawling to sitting on the edge of the rafters lazily. Suddenly, his danger sense begins to trigger. “Yeah yeah, I’m sitting above two kingpins. Of course you’d warn me about it.” he dismisses his warning system as a dragonfly lands on his shoulder. “Hmm?” he glances at the Dragonfly who seems off but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. His Danger Sense intensifies as the Dragonfly rapidly grows in size, revealing it to be a humanoid dragonfly man who punches him square in the saw. Sending him falling out of the rafters to the ground below in between the two kingpins.
“Good work Dragonfly.” the woman says as the 7-foot tall dragonfly man lands next to her. He stood with a pronounced hunch so that his wings and tail rested on the floor. Its glassy eyes gazing at potential targets. “Is this really Aranea? You let a child give you this much trouble?” she scoffs as Aranea tries to regain his senses.
“Ugh…cheap shot.” Aranea works up to his knees and leers at the woman. “Crap, this isn’t good. Need a plan!” he thought to himself.
“My men made him seem…older…” Red Death tries to maintain his composure. He extends his now glowing right hand towards Aranea who suddenly coughs up blood. Collapsing onto his side in the process. “So you’re the kid who’s been screwing with my business these last few months huh?” he walks up to Aranea and kicks him in the stomach with all his might. Sending the young hero onto his back. “Thank you for the assistance Madame Orca, I can handle it from here.”
“Sure you can.” she says sarcastically. “I’ll leave my men just in case.”
“You think I can’t take out a frigging kid a few feet from me?”
“Nope…” Aranea struggles onto his stomach and wildly lashes out his spider legs after summoning them in the blink of an eye. Causing Red Death to stumble back and wildly swing his right hand, catching, and destroying part of the top right leg upon contact. Despite this, the suddenness of his attack still gives him the opening he needs to burrows under the floor in seconds.
“You were saying?” Madame Orca tries to contain her laughter.
Elsewhere in the warehouse, Aranea crawls out of the ground. His right forearm now bleeding from the attack done to his spider leg. “The hell did he do to me?” he thought while inspecting his injury. Having the power of Astral Manifestation, Aranea could create a mental projection of his inner self to aid him in any number of tasks. His, Guardian Aranea, was a spider he could wear like a costume. Any injury inflicted upon it was also inflicted upon him. Which was the problem, he narrowly avoided losing his arm but whatever power Red Death held was starting to slowly burn away at him. For their first encounter, he certainly left an impression. “Maybe I should-” Before Aranea can finish his thought, a reptilian tail wraps around his body and pulls him up into the air. His eyes following it as it leads to a 9 foot tall humanoid Chameleon.
“Crawler hungers.” the Chameleon says in a low voice. “Crawler’s not supposed to eat spider child…” he raises his tail high enough so the two are face-to-face. “But Crawler can’t resist.” he opens his massive mouth wide enough so he could eat half a horse in one bite. Far more than was even remotely necessary if he wanted to eat Aranea. Even while wrapped up, Aranea had several means of defending himself. The first was a poisonous bite, which he uses on Crawler’s tail. “Was that supposed to hurt Crawler?” he closes his mouth and asks. Both eyes focusing squarely on Aranea.
“No…Just distract you.” Using the opening, Aranea summons his spider legs from beneath Crawler’s tail. Giving him enough room to drop out and put some distance between them. “Four supers and a bunch of gangsters? They really don’t like me.” His mind raced to find a way to deal with the ever mounting odds. As if his own thoughts tempted fate, just as he loses sight of Crawler a stream of fire comes from above. Courtesy of Dragonfly who just barely misses as Aranea kicks off the wall and onto the side of a warehouse shelf. Using his left hand, he fires webs at Dragonflies wings but he easily evades it. “I hate flyers…” Aranea prepares to attack a second time when the shelf he’s clinging too begins to tilt backward and is lifted into the air. This time, it was a hulking humanoid beetle that stood a massive 10 feet tall with a brown body. His flesh now an armored plating. His hand clawed, massive mandibles extending from his cheeks, and like Dragonfly his hard shell extended the length of his body. “Hercules? Why are you here?!”
“And miss a chance to finally put you 6 feet under? Not a chance!” he says in a disturbingly deep voice as he tilts his head back and sends the shelf hurtling over his shoulder. Knocking over five other shelves in the process. But this was only a minor inconvenience for Aranea who is able to use his enhanced agility to jump along the shelf as it tumbled through the air and land without missing a beat.
“They’re really serious this time aren’t they?” Aranea thought before the ground erupts from beneath him. A horde of snakes lifting him into the air and slamming back into the floor. Combining together and forming a single massive Tiger Snake that lay on top of him with mouth bared. “Not you too Tiger Snake…”
“Sorry friend, a job is a job.” Tiger Snake hisses at Aranea who lay defenseless under him. In the past, the pair had been close allies. Tiger Snake was always driven by his own personal desires yet this was an extreme. Even for someone ultimately self-centered.
Aranea struggles to free himself to no avail as Crawler, Hercules, Dragonfly, Red Death, and Madame Orca approach. “Great, they had to get all the people my Danger Sense won’t trigger for didn’t they?” he thought at the unwelcome sight.
“End of the line kid. Any last words?” Red Death asks with a smug grin.
“Yeah…My dad has a saying. Corner a rat and they’ll fight even harder. Corner a tiger and you’re right where they want. Always thought it was dumb but I get it now…”
“Let me guess. You’re the tiger here?” Red Death scoffs.
“Nah.” Aranea begins to faintly glow golden. “I’m a god.” his body surges with energy and sends the villains flying several feet away from him. The crimson on his costume turning golden and shimmering like galaxies. A star-shaped gemstone appearing on his upper back. Each point extending and sending lines out to connect to the hourglass symbol on his chest. The top point simply leading up to the back of his neck. As the light clears he’s standing firm. The glow now a golden aura that surrounds his body. “I hate using more power than needed. And against you guys? This is like using a tank to smash an anthill.” he cracks his knuckles and smirks smugly.
“I didn’t sign on for this.” Tiger Snake bursts into a sea of snakes and slithers away in various directions.
“Next time I see ya TS I’m punching you!” Aranea shouts.
“So you turned gold. That don’t mean shit to me!” Hercules stomps towards Aranea and snaps his pincers around him with all his might. Had it been any other day, Aranea would’ve been torn in two. But with his Cosmic Barrier, all Hercules accomplished was breaking his pincers. “GRAGH!” he cries in pain. Stunning the gangsters who are unsure how to react.
“Sorry, but you did that to yourself.” Aranea turns to face Hercules as he holds his broken mandibles in agony. “Better be careful this time…1% should be enough.” he thought with right fist aglow with power. Leaping forward, Aranea delivers a single jab which sends Hercules flying across the warehouse and out of the building. Thanks to his powers, Aranea could lift up to 170 times his weight, which meant he could lift roughly 19,720 pounds. Despite his size, this meant he needed to keep his strength in check at all times. Something which became even more difficult with the Star Core boosting his power even higher. If he could, he wouldn’t use the power at all but given his dire straits he had no other options but to hope that making an example of Hercules would end the fighting. “Who’s next?” he looks around the room that remains stunned. Their plans rapidly coming undone, all the non-powered grunts didn’t even stick around to see the outcome.
“RAH!” Dragonfly roars fearlessly. He flies into the air and breaths fire on Aranea who stands his ground.
“Okay new guy, I’ll take you down next.” With a small kick off the ground, Aranea flies through the flames and backhands Dragonfly into a shelf which topples over.
“Screw this. I’ll stick to dealing with Frostbite.” Madame Orca wisely declares. Being grabbed and put atop Crawlers back as he crawls away.
“Get back here Orca! We had a deal!” Red Death aims his hand at the pair. His power of inducing sharp pain, dizziness, and vomiting of blood taking full effect on the pair. Crawler stumbling and collapsing onto his stomach. Madame Orca tipping off Crawlers back and landing on her side facing Red Death. “You get your assess back in there or I’m ending you myself!”
“You ungrateful…son of a bitch…” Madame Orca strains to hold herself together. It took all her effort to lift her upper body off the ground. Spewing out a torrent of water onto the floor from her mouth. Creating a wave of water that begins to fill the warehouse. Knocking Red Death onto his back and dragging him away. Aranea simply hovers above the water to avoid it.
“That’s a new one.” Aranea says to himself moments before the water begins to take semi-solid form. Appearing to be four large water Orca swimming towards Red Death. “That could’ve been a problem.”
“You just started a war!” Red Death shouts. Swinging his arm to the side and sending out a crimson wave of energy that disintegrates the water Orcas.
As the two Kingpins continue their battle, Aranea floats watching it unfurl. None of them noticing that an eerie miasma began to enter the room. Slowly floating towards Dragonfly before it enters his body. The miasma filling his lungs and awakening the humanoid Dragonfly. His body convulsing violently as inky black veins begin coursing through its body. The suddenness of the scene giving everyone a moments pause. They could only watch in awe and disgust as he lifts up off the floor without even needing the use of his knees. As his skin rots away and reveals white flames beneath it. It’s skull beginning to break away as flames escape from any opening they can. The temperature from being near Dragonfly causing the water to boil and turn to steam. The heat was enough to reach Aranea through his Cosmic Barrier.
“What the hell?!” Aranea holds his skull as his Danger Sense triggers with such intensity it causes him physical pain.
“AHHHHHHH!” Dragonfly wails as he breathes white flames at Aranea. Just narrowly missing as he dives to the side. The flames melting through the floor and causing things nearby to burst into flames by mere proximity.
“This guy is way more dangerous than I thought. Need to take him out before he causes any more damage.”
“Ki…ll…m…e…” Dragonfly pleads through a monstrously distorted voice.
Aranea’s heart sinks at hearing Dragonflies desperate plea. There was no time to hesitate or come up with a plan. Aranea focuses as much energy into his hands as he can and fires a concentrated stream of Cosmic Energy at Dragonfly who counters it with his own flames. For thirty intense seconds, the pair struggles to overpower each other. Neither willing to concede no matter how much they may have wanted. While Dragonfly was forced to fight against his will, Aranea still had all his faculties. De-spawning his mask which takes the form of a spider head hovering over his shoulder. It opens its mouth and fires golden webs at the ceiling. Pulling with all its might to drop some debris onto Dragonfly. Though it kept its firey onslaught, it gave Aranea the chance he needed to fire one last burst of energy to pierce through Dragonflies chest. Sending him out through the roof of the warehouse and onto the streets dead. The miasma that filled its body disappearing as mysteriously as it appeared. Aranea didn’t want to admit it…but part of him knew this was just the beginning of something far worse.