This story previously appeared in Issues, 100, 101, 102 and 103 of The Power Star fanzine, and is posted here without the authorization of the authors, with due acknowledgement – C.B.
A Multi-Universe Story By
D. Lynn Bivens, Kimberly Murphy and Gerald James Seward
[The Story So Far: F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper wakes up from a deep sleep to find himself far away from his own Twin Peaks in a mysterious room he does not recognize, hearing a voice refer to him as "Number 3". He looks down to find his normal black suit has disappeared and has been replaced with the same casual clothes worn by Number Six in the 1960's TV series The Prisoner. Cooper realizes the absurdity of his predicament but nevertheless presses forward with an investigation of his circumstances, only to find he is not the only outsider here. Joining him in a courtyard that they all seemed to be led to are Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea's Admiral Harriman Nelson, private detective Veronica Gaines (from the POWER STAR stories "Twisted Web" and "Twisted Web 2: Resurrection"), Star Wars' Luke Skywalker, Deep Space Nine's Major Kira Nerys and Constable Odo, Space: 1999's Maya, Manimal's Dr. Jonathan Chase, Captain Scarlet, Highlander Duncan MacLeod, Superman, Greatest American Hero Ralph Hinkley, Star Trek's Montgomery Scott, and Angus MacGyver. Mutual mistrust fills the air of their first meeting--with Kira and Odo openly questioning whether all of them are after the same goal and whether Cooper, with his odd clothing, is really one of "them" or not--but all eventually come to the realization that they are prisoners of a power stronger than any of their individual powers and talents can handle and that they are going to have to work together if they want to get out. Deciding to return to their bungalows and gather clues and anything else that might be helpful, the fourteen outsiders vow to reconvene on the beach after sunset and put escape plans into action. But they may be fighting more than just their captors: Also finding themselves in a strange place are Star Wars' Darth Vader, Dr. Doom, V's Diana, Terminator 2's T-1000, Lost In Space's Robot, Buck Rogers' Twiki, and the Star Trek mirror universe's Commander William Riker. "There is a game to be played," Vader tells his companions. "We have all been brought together to challeng the strongest forces of good in each of our universes. And when we win, we shall return to our worlds--and rule them triumphantly!"...]
"Warning...warning...unknown energy sphere detected around island. Danger imminent."
As the bubble-headed Robot flailed his claw-like collapsible arms about while pronouncing his warning, the smaller robot next to him almost seemed to roll his eyes.
"Bee-dee-bee-dee-bee-dee-no kidding," Twiki said in a mechanical imitation of disgust. "You don't have to be a computer to figure that out."
"Silence!" T-1000 ordered, turning his fierce-looking visage toward them.
Any thoughts Twiki or Robot might have had about responding were soon banished when T-1000 morphed one of his appendages into a deadly razor-sharp weapon that he brandished at the two less sophisticated automatons. "One more word from either of you," T-1000 warned, "and I'll cut you both in half."
Dr. Doom tsk-tsked. "With all due respect, T-1000," he said condescendingly, "I hardly think that would be in any of our best interests. If Lord Vader is correct, our adversaries outnumber us. That should hardly be a concern to us with our superior powers and knowledge...but one can never be too careful."
Slowly, T-1000 turned toward the armor-clad king of Latveria and glared at him for a moment, then morphed his limb back to a humanoid arm shape. His features reflected an unfeeling rage toward his circumstances. "I do not belong here," he said. "There is no Sarah Conner here...no John Conner...no renegade Terminator. I am not a party to this game for which the rest of you have been gathered." He started toward the door.
Doom, showing the absolute confidence of an absolute despot, blocked his path. "Whether you believe you should be here or not is irrelevant," he stated firmly. "The fact remains, dear sir, that you are here. Some power has brought us here for some purpose. I believe that purpose is for us to gain the power to dominate our own realms forever. And to do that, we must defeat the champions that have also been brought here."
"Dr. Doom is quite correct."
All heads turned toward the strong amplified voice that boomed from the other armor-clad man in the room.
Darth Vader cut a wide swath through the narrow room as he came over to Doom and T-1000. "Even as you two carry on this discussion, on the other side of this island our rivals are gathering to attempt escape. One of them is known well to me--my son, a traitor to his own family. And though the others are unfamiliar, they too are obviously champions of their own realm. Thus, they are our enemies. No doubt a great battle is meant to take place here. The ignorant peasants and the primitive dwellings are not what is to be fought--they are merely obstacles to our success."
As Vader spoke, Riker seemed to smile broadly. "I think I know who is responsible for all this," he finally said. "And if I am right, we don't dare show any weakness or mercy. If we do...our enemies are not the ones we'll need to worry about."
All looked at him as he looked out the window toward the beach.
Though no one had set a time for the next meeting, no one had to. It was as if each of them received an internal signal as the sun descended and night filled the skies. Each of the fourteen left their bungalows at almost the same time and headed for the beaches, finally rendezvousing below the cliffs near a set of caves. Cooper took a quick head count of the group, then spoke. "All right, has anyone given an escape plan any thought? If you who say you can fly have found air escape impossible, what's next to try?"
Nelson looked out over the ocean. "Swimming," he said matter-of-factly.
All eyes turned toward the seasoned seaman. "You've got to be kidding," Kira scoffed.
"Not at all," Nelson said. "You--the one called 'Superman'--you said your cellular structure gave you extended strength and endurance. You could probably swim many miles without being tired."
"True," Superman commented. "Maybe whatever blocks air escape doesn't extend to the surface of the water. I could swim out beyond the barrier..."
"And bring back help of some kind," Kira realized. "Preferably military."
"It's certainly worth a try," Nelson noted. "Who knows--perhaps my own Seaview is out there even now, searching for me." He looked toward the sea wistfully.
Odo stepped forward. "If that's the case, we might all want to try escaping together," he said. "I could transform myself into some kind of barge or boat to hold us all."
"A boat large enough to transport us all would need some sort of propulsion," MacGyver said. "I don't suppose anyone found the parts to make an engine?" "I found very little that looked like it might be useful," Scotty sighed. "Just a bunch of antiques and cobblestones."
"But there are other kinds of propulsion," Chase smiled. "Perhaps something or someone could push the boat from behind. A large sea mammal, like a whale--I could obtain that shape with a little effort."
"I could give you a hand," Ralph remarked. "Super strength does seem to be one of the few consistent parts of this suit I can use."
"There might be predators," Maya noted. "I could probably turn into some sort of creature to act as a guard to our boat as we make our way beyond this energy barrier."
"But how does this actually help?" Veronica asked. "We'll still be stuck in a world where none of us belong."
"Not necessarily," Cooper said. "It could be that if we make our way beyond the energy barrier, we cross the gateway back into our own worlds. I've done that before--I'm quite familiar with being drawn into other realms. The trick is to conquer the fear of the unknown and face the crisis with perfect courage." He stopped talking and looked around, as if something had caught the corner of his eye.
Luke shivered slightly.
Cooper turned to the Jedi, whose face now bore concern. "You felt it too," Cooper noted.
Luke nodded. "Whatever we do," he said, "we need to do it quickly. I sense others have arrived here--others who do not necessarily share our goals."
Scarlet's ears perked up. "You did say this might be a game," he said to Cooper. "I suspect the other game pieces have just been placed on the board."
"The Gathering," Duncan whispered.
Everyone looked at Duncan oddly. No one could understand why he kept talking about the gathering when it was clear that this was a gathering already. Superman finally spoke up. "It's settled, then," he stated firmly. "I'll swim out ahead and make sure it's even possible to leave the island. Then, Odo will turn into his boat, and with Ralph's help, the rest of you will get out to sea--and Dr. Chase and Maya will provide their assistance from there. Think you can handle your part, Ralph?"
"Sure thing," Ralph replied. "I guess I can tread water better than I can fly."
Superman patted the other suited hero on the shoulder. "When we get out of here," he said, "if we're not immediately swept away, I'll be happy to give you flying lessons."
Ralph looked awe-struck. "Really?"
"That'd be great." Ralph smiled broadly.
"Ahem," Kira said, clearing her throat. "I hate to interrupt this male bonding moment, but how are we going to know if you made it or not?"
Everyone looked at each other, as if the question had not occurred to them. "I don't suppose any of you have a radio you could loan me?" Superman asked.
Odo shook his head. "Our communicators don't work," he said, gesturing over the gold insignia pin on his chest.
"The radio in my cap is dead, too," Scarlet added, pointing to his red cap.
"Just shout back," Chase remarked. "I'll hear you."
Superman looked at Chase oddly.
Chase blushed slightly. "I have heightened sensory perceptions," he noted. "A side effect of training myself to cross the boundaries that divide man from animal."
"Really?" Maya asked. "That would be a nice thing to have--a nice accompaniment to molecular transformation. How is it done?"
"I'd be happy to show you some exercises that would help..."
"Ahem," Kira interrupted. "I think it's wonderful that some of you have found you have things in common, but it seems to me everyone is forgetting the main goal--to escape."
"Then let's get started," Cooper announced. "Superman, on your way. MacGyver, maybe you could help Constable Odo figure out the right size and shape boat to carry all of us with maximum efficiency."
"Sure thing," MacGyver replied.
"Then let's get cracking," Kira said impatiently, already heading for water's edge.
Nelson turned to Scarlet. "The lady knows what she wants," he remarked. "And she knows how to get people's attention. It's too bad women aren't allowed to command wartime efforts in my world."
"Perhaps you can do something about that," Scarlet replied.
"Perhaps I can," Nelson noted with a smile. "But I'd like to get back to command my own vessel first."
"What are they doing?"
Diana regally paced around the overlook point where the seven forces of darkness stood looking down over the fourteen champions. "I thought you said this was some sort of game or contest, Doom," she accused. "But it looks like the other pieces are running away."
"Indeed it does, Diana," Doom replied. "I am not certain what is going on. Surely they too know why they are here..."
"They do," Vader noted. "But they are thinking only of escape...of trying to avoid conflict."
"Too late." T-1000 started to descend to the beach below.
All heads turned to Riker, who was glancing back up toward the Village. "I don't think the gamemaster is going to allow them to go anywhere," he noted. "So let's just watch and see what happens. Who knows--we may be able to win this game without any real effort on our part at all."
Robot turned the front of his bubble head to Twiki. "I am not programmed to harm humans," he said to the smaller robot. "Why are we here with those who wish to harm the ones below us?"
"Bee-dee-bee-dee-bee-dee-would you rather we were down there with them with these things plotting against us?" Twiki replied.
Silence, as if Robot was thinking about it. "Warning...warning..."
Superman turned toward the others as the group finally reached water's edge. "O.K., give me a chance to swim about a mile or so out," he said. "That should give me a pretty good indication of how far out this energy barrier extends."
"A mile?" Kira asked, looking puzzled.
"About 2 kilometers," Scotty said, translating the number system.
"Two kilometers? We don't have that kind of time!"
"Trust me," Superman replied, "you won't have to wait long. Once I've made sure it's safe enough, I'll call back to Dr. Chase, and then Odo will turn into his boat and the rest of you will get underway."
"After that," Nelson said, "it's in God's hands. The sea can be unforgiving to men who make mistakes."
"Let's take it one step at a time," MacGyver cautioned. "First, Superman needs to find out whether any of this is possible."
"Right." With that, the Man Of Steel headed out into the water and began to swim with speed that astonished even Ralph. A few seconds later, Superman had reached the mile boundary.
"Guess he wasn't just bragging," Veronica said in Kira's ear.
Kira rolled her eyes.
Chase looked out over the horizon at Superman and cocked his head slightly. "Right," he finally said, "he's done it. He says he's bounced up and down and back and forth and can't feel any kind of energy wall. Constable Odo, it's your turn."
"Right," Odo said, then turned to MacGyver. "How big do you think the boat has to be?"
Mac thought about it. "Well, I'd say we were talking about needing a small barge--are you familiar with 20th century barges, Mr. Odo?"
"Hold it!" Chase interrupted.
All eyes turned to him. "What is it?" Luke asked.
Chase was listening intently. "There's something wrong...I can barely hear him. There's some kind of roaring noise around him."
"A sea vessel?" Nelson asked.
Chase shook his head. "Not mechanical...it sounds almost like a beast of some sort."
Ralph looked as far out to sea as he could. Suddenly he gasped.
"What do you see?" Cooper asked.
"You don't want to know," Ralph replied.
Suddenly, Duncan pointed outward. "Look!"
All eyes watched as Superman swam back toward the shore, pursued by a gigantic silver-white balloonesque sphere.
"It's going to catch him!" Scarlet realized.
And catch him it did, seemingly swallowing the Man Of Steel whole about halfway to shore. Superman pressed against its rubbery skin, trying to break through this biological prison.
Odo was the most shocked of anyone on the beach. Was this creature similar to himself in construction, texture, origin? Was this the reason he had been led to this island--to do battle with beings like himself?
"It's coming closer!" Kira said aloud.
Duncan drew his katana. "I'll slice it open if it comes ashore," he announced. "We'll get him out of there one way or another."
"We'd better," Veronica said. "I don't think we can afford to lose such a valuable partner in this game." Then, she added under her breath, "or such a cute one."
Chase turned toward her and glared.
"Oops," she smiled. "Don't tell anybody I said that."
The bubble drifted closer to shore. Superman pushed against it harder, harder, harder...
Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion. Pieces of whitish skin and gelatin-like substances sprayed everywhere as Superman tore the creature apart from the inside.
Everyone on the shore jumped back from the flying debris. "Ick," Veronica pronounced.
Another whitish bubble rose from the depths and began approaching Superman, who had stopped moving.
Scarlet threw off his cap and vest, kicked off his boots, and raced for the water.
"Captain Scarlet!" Ralph shouted.
Scarlet did not listen. Instead he swam out to Superman, who was looking dazed from his experience with the bubble-beast, hooked his arm around the other man's shoulders and neck, and began swimming with him back toward shore.
The bubble-beast got closer.
Superman finally seemed to get a second wind as he reversed Scarlet's grip faster than the other man would have thought possible and propelled the two of them with his super-strong legs through the water back to shore.
The bubble-beast, apparently deciding its work was done, sank back beneath the water.
For a long moment, everyone just stared at the Man Of Steel and the Indestructible Man as they stood on the beach, dripping and exhausted. Finally, Ralph spoke. "I take it that is not the way we're going to get out of here?"
Superman shook his head. "Afraid not," he replied. "That is, unless you enjoy being a meal for a giant jellyfish."
"No, thank you," Scarlet replied, finally catching his breath. "I'm indestructible, not indigestible."
Superman smiled. "Thanks for your help, Scarlet."
Scarlet shrugged. "No sense in anyone dying just yet. The game's hardly begun." He shook his arms in disgust, trying to get the excess water and goop from the dead gelatin creature off himself.
"Let me help," Superman offered. "You get dizzy easily, Scarlet?"
"Not really," he replied. "And I recover quickly when I do."
"Good." With that, Superman threw Scarlet with a twisting motion into the air.
Scarlet's body rotated as if he were in the spin cycle of a washing machine, then dropped into Superman's waiting arms. Superman stood him upright again.
Scarlet grabbed Superman's shoulder for support. "I don't recover that quickly," he said in a shaky voice.
"Somebody give him a hand," Superman urged.
Ralph came over and helped Scarlet make his way over to his clothes as Superman seemed to float about a foot off the ground and whirled himself around in much the same fashion, using the centrifugal force to dry himself off. Superman lowered himself back to the ground and straightened his hair. "Much better," he replied. "What was that thing out there? I've never seen anything like it."
Cooper almost seemed to laugh. "Rovers," he said. "I should have guessed."
Kira turned to Cooper. "You knew those things were out there!" she accused.
"No, I didn't...but I do know what they are," he admitted.
A fresh wave of suspicious glances turned Cooper's way.
"Look, it's not what you think," he said. "In my world, there was a TV show in the 1960's called The Prisoner. It was set in a village just like this one--they even called it The Village--and everyone there wore numbered tags and nobody used names. It starred Patrick McGoohan as a British secret agent who resigned from intelligence work only to find himself captured as he was trying to leave the country. He woke up from an odd sleep to find he'd been brought here, wearing clothes like the ones I'm wearing and a pin with the number 6. His nemesis was Number Two--a different Number Two every week--and whenever he tried to escape, they'd always thwart him. One of the ways they did was by using a bubble-shaped beast to guard the coastline called 'Rover'. Turns out there was more than one Rover and they wouldn't even let you get close to the water. When we were able to make it this far without running into one, I thought our captors had forgotten that aspect of the series. But looks like they've managed to cover every detail, including that one."
Chase nodded. "You know the story better than I do," he said. "But you're right. Down to the cut of Cooper's suit, this is a copy of the setting for The Prisoner."
"Terrific," Veronica groaned. "We've got fan fiction writers for captors."
"Did the prisoner ever escape?" Scotty asked.
"Well, that's open for debate," Cooper replied. "In the last couple of episodes, he seems to finally beat Number Two at his own game and then escape--but the whole thing is like one long surreal dream and it ends with doors that open just like they do in The Village and a shot that's just like the one in the first episode where he drives off into the sunset like he was planning to before he was captured. So no one really knows if he escaped or not."
Luke nodded. "No wonder you were chosen to lead us," he remarked. "You're the only person who has any idea of what's going on here."
"I know what's going on here," Duncan announced. "The Gathering."
Now all eyes were on Duncan, who still had his katana drawn and now had the tip of its blade buried in the sand as he leaned on its handle. The Highlander had a curious mix of awe and determination playing across his features.
Cooper stepped towardhim. "That's the third time you've used that term, Mr. MacLeod," he said. "What exactly is 'the gathering'?"
"Immortals believe that at the end of the world, the last two Immortals left after all the intervening struggles for life will come together for one final battle," he explained. "As I said before, there can be only one--and this battle represents the ultimate battle between good and evil. The one left standing at the end receives all the lifeforce from all other Immortals who have ever been. It is the ultimate goal of all Immortals."
"You spend your lives fighting each other for the chance to be the last man alive?" Scarlet remarked, stunned.
"It is our destiny," Duncan replied matter-of-factly. "One does not fight destiny--one embraces it."
"So, if this is The Gathering," Maya asked, "which of us is the one you're supposed to fight?"
Duncan turned to Scarlet. So did everyone else.
"Hold on!" Scarlet replied. "I thought we sussed all this out..."
"Never mind that," Odo interrupted. "Look!"
All eyes followed Odo's gaze up the side of the cliffs to the seven figures overlooking them.
"What the...where did they come from?" Kira asked.
"Probably from the same places we did," Scotty deduced. "Anyone recognize any of them?"
Luke shivered. "Yes," he responded in almost a whisper. "The one in all black is my enemy, Darth Vader. The darkest of the dark Jedis. Evil, beyond redemption." He took a deep breath. "My father."
Cooper turned to him. "Your father?"
"The evil was gone in him," Luke whispered. "It was gone. What happened?"
"Obviously, this is from a time when the evil wasn't gone," Cooper realized. "If they can bring people through time and space to an island, they can certainly pick and choose which time and space to bring them from."
Nelson looked the seven dark figures over and frowned. "Looks like the game has finally begun."
Vader looked down the cliff face at the group below. Once could sense satisfaction in the carriage of his body as he stood on the edge of the precipice. "My son has finally found me," he remarked. "And he is afraid. His fear will be his strongest enemy."
"It usually is among these pitiful creatures," Doom agreed.
Vader turned to Doom. "I cannot help but feel a sense of kindred with you, Dr. Doom. You would have made a fine Sith Lord."
"And you would have made a great ruler, Lord Vader. Together we could bring Earth to its knees."
Riker rolled his eyes. "Look, you two, I hate to interrupt this great sympatico thing you've got going, but they now know we're up here. Shouldn't we be making some sort of plans about we're going to take them on?"
"Plans?" Doom sounded almost maniacal. "Plans? What do we need of plans? They are no match for us--for our talents, our intellects, our ruthlessness! If they dare attack, we will utterly destroy them!"
"Glad you think so highly of yourself," Diana retorted. "Maybe we should just leave you and Helmet-head over there to handle all of them yourselves. I've got better things to do--like getting out of here."
Vader turned toward her. "Do not taunt me," he warned. "You underestimate the power of the Dark Side of The Force."
"And you underestimate the skill of your opponents," the voice of Number Two boomed over the beach.
The seven villains looked around, seeking the source of the voice.
Riker frowned as his face formed a mixed mask of disgust and recognition. "Damn," he growled.
Diana turned to him. "What is it?"
"Trouble," Riker replied. "Big Trouble."
The fourteen heroes and heroines looked around at the sound of the voice much like their counterparts on the cliffs above them had. "I've heard that voice before," Kira whispered. "We are in big trouble."
"You have no idea," Number Two taunted in reply. "But enough conversation. You were all wrong--this is not a game. It is instead a quest--a quest that will send you to the farthest corners of the earth. You are seeking the greatest treasure anyone could ever find, an ancient artifact from a dead planet called Sagar tens of thousands of light-years from here. A brilliant blazing sword that has been called many names over the years--the kingmaker, the sword of life, Excalibur. Its real name in almost any language imaginable, however, is the Power Star."
"The Power Star?" Veronica whispered.
"That is your quest--to seek the Power Star. You will be sent forth in teams to find it."
"Teams?" Scarlet questioned.
"Teams. Good one one side--evil on the other."
Everyone looked at each other, then over at their contrarily-aligned counterparts. "I've got a bad feeling about this," Luke sighed.
"And just what it that we will receive if we find this 'Power Star'?" Doom thundered.
Silence. All stood attentive, listening for any indication that Number Two would answer.
"To the one who finds the Power Star," Number Two pronounced, "will come Absolute Power over the entire universe and its many alternates...for all time."
The awe that spread over both groups was almost palpable. The villains could almost touch the culmination of their life goals in Number Two's words. The heroes began to realize that they were the only things standing between the domination of evil over all their universes.
A flash of light split the darkness. When it faded, Superman had disappeared.
Ralph looked over at the space where the Man Of Steel had stood just a second ago. Before he could react, he too was gone.
Veronica vanished next.
Diana followed in the blink of an eye.
"What's going on?" Maya asked, unconsciously moving closer to Chase.
"I think I know," Kira replied. Then she disappeared.
"Major!" Odo shouted.
Nelson left next, and Riker up on the cliffs above them followed.
"Cooper!" Luke shouted, extending his hand.
Cooper didn't even have to ask what the Jedi meant. He grabbed Luke's hand, and the two of them were swept away together.
Vader disappeared from the precipice.
"What the...," MacGyver began before the light grabbed him next. Scotty left next in a flash, and Doom disappeared in the next instance.
"We're next," Chase realized as he, Maya, and Odo vanished.
The robots and T-1000 were the next to make a hasty exit.
Suddenly, Duncan MacLeod and Captain Scarlet were the only ones standing on the beach.
One man watched the action on the beach and the cliffs with great interest. These twenty-one outsiders were the first new visitors he'd seen in The Village in years. And he had been here a very long time.
To his captors he was known simply as Number Six. To others, he was The Prisoner.
The strangers who had been here and had disappeared did not belong here, he realized. And they had been brought here by a power stronger than any trick any Number Two had ever tried on him.
But had they really been here? People didn't just appear and
disappear out of nowhere, particularly people like those. And
Number Two had been particularly sadistic with his mind tricks as of late, he noted.
Maybe he'd finally snapped. Maybe the labors of all those Number Twos all those years had finally borne fruit...rotten and dying fruit.
Or maybe not.
Either way, Number Six was going to find out...if it was the last thing he did.
END OF PART TWO
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