The last time we saw our bearded adventurers….
The Marksman hunts a mysterious being haunting the hills surrounding Franklin. After a lengthy stakeout, the Marksman happens upon a wood giant. The Marksman pounces on the Giant leading to a skirmish in which the Marksman is finally able to gain the upper hand.
Now we travel back to the town of Franklin where a strange visitor lies upon the Wizard’s table…
The stranger lies on his back on the Wizard’s table. He begins to sit up groggily. Every muscle in his body aches from the whiplash he experienced in the crash. Judging by the ease with which he is able to raise up, his space ranger armor must have been removed, leaving his high-tech temperature-controlled, moisture-wicking undershirt and long bottoms. That thought shocks the stranger towards consciousness. As he further regains his cognition, he realizes that he does not recognize his surroundings. He turns his head and notices his plasma sword and energy rifle sitting in the corner.
He quickly rolls off the table, reaching for his weapons. However, as he springs for his weapons, he feels all his muscles loosen, and his momentum stops. His tension is replaced by a warm calm feeling, his mind put at ease. The stranger feels his body being lifted gently and sat back on the table.
“Now let's not do anything hasty, you’re safe here,” says a calming voice from the corner of the room. The stranger turns his head to see the Wizard, piddling with a serum at his workbench.
“You’re safe here, stranger,” continues the Wizard, “You crashed in a near by field where the Hero found you. The Inventor is working on bringing your ship back to his shop as we speak.”
The stranger sits straight up in a flash. “MY SHIP?!?” The stranger leaps off the Wizard’s table and sprints out the door. He turns, running down the main street of Franklin. He begins to slow at the impressive sight before him. The Inventor is driving a strange machine down the road, towing the crashed ship behind. The machine has a large boiler with a large exhaust pipe sprouting out of the top, spewing large clouds of billowing steam. Beneath the boiler, several pistons fire in and out, powering the machine’s drivetrain. Large, aggressive tracks dig into the dirt to pull the machine forward. The Inventor sits perched behind the boiler on a small padded seat. The machine is pulling a large cradle holding the spacecraft securely in place. Several clasps and ropes hold the ship in place.
“How… well… uhm.. Thank you…” mumbles the stranger.
The Inventor powers down the machine and climbs down from his seat, stretching out a hand to shake the stranger's hand. “It’s no problem, sir, I’m just happy to see this wonderful machine. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s so advanced, genius really. But I guess that happens when you’re from the future.”
“From the future?” asks the stranger, feigning confusion at the Inventor’s accusation.
“Well it is obvious,” explains the Inventor, “Your strange clothing, this advanced craft. There are several implements on the ship that I would say provide the ship offensive capabilities and then that fell out of the ship when I was loading it up…” The Inventor points to the cart and the stranger now notices a long cylindrical object stuck down in the side of the trailer. The stranger shivers. If they knew what that was, they may be even more cautious than they were already. That particular armament could throw a thorium rod clean through a Martian light cruiser.
“... I would say that you’re some kind of space soldier,” finishes the Inventor.
“Close, I’m a Guardian. We’re like your rangers but we police the universe. Like a space ranger,” offers the stranger. The Inventor, however, continues on without pause, “The similarities between our language and writings compared to the writings on the readouts in your craft suggest that your language evolved from the one that we speak currently. It’s all pretty obvious.”
The stranger stares at the inventive dwarf, shocked by his astuteness. Understanding that he truly is in good hands, the stranger begins to relax, followed by the feeling that he probably owes them a debt of gratitude.
“You could start by telling us what your name is,” says the Wizard, almost as if he had read the stranger’s mind.
The stranger answers slowly, surprised by the Wizard’s omniscience. “Max… Max Starlighter… but my friends call me Rocket.”
Captain Crimson stares through his eyeglass at the shore of the island cresting over the horizon.
“See any sea spirits,” asks Cole chuckling jokingly. The absence of laughter from the good Captain brings a weak close to the first mate’s attempt at comedy. Captain Crimson had grown agitated, had he been able to drop the Witch Doctor off at the previous island, he could already once again be staking his claim as terror of the sea. Since passing on the last island, land had disappeared from the path of the Mystic Wave.
“This better work,” mutters Captain Crimson grumpily. “If it doesn’t, I’ll toss his bothersome hide to the waves and let the ocean deal with him,” nodding his head back towards the Witch Doctor, who was still tied to the mast on the main deck, baking in the hot sun. Captain Crimson grabs a lever, jerking it back quickly, then does the same to another. The Mystic Wave’s waterwheel drops into the water with a splash and then begins to turn slowly churning in the water, picking up speed until eventually the Mystic Wave almost skips across the water. The Mystic Wave draws close to the shore, sailing parallel to the island. Captain Crimson stands the Witch Doctor up and walks him over to the edge of the deck.
Giving the Witch Doctor a quick look, Crimson says, “You’re strong right?”
The Witch Doctor answers with a silent glare.
“I thought so,” replies Crimson, kicking the Witch Doctor overboard.
The Witch Doctor hits the water, his unchained legs rapidly kicking to keep his head above the waves.
Captain Crimson laughs riotously, returning to the helm of the ship, and directing it back towards Franklin to begin his conquest. Just as the island disappears from view, Crimson turns back around and stares at the island. He thinks for a moment, an evil thought lurking in his brain, however he shrugs, then reluctantly says, “Gratis.”
Crimson, satisfied that everything is in order returns to the ship’s wheel, but then notices something strange on the waves. It almost looks like a large man, riding a wave, heading right toward the Wave.
“Now what?” cries an exasperated Crimson.
Narrated by Brandon Warner