[MV] The Super Wizard From Space #33: To Hell And Hell And Hell And Hell And Hell And Back Again, Part 9

Wil Alambre wilalambre at gmail.com
Wed Jun 20 08:35:29 PDT 2012

The Devil, The Secret Living Language, and the Super Wizard From Space
stood upon a massive square of black stone half buried in blistering
desert sands.

"This is it, end of the line," the Devil announced. "We're standing on
top of the obsidian vault that has entombed the Super-Devil. Like all
prisons, it's designed to keep people in, not to keep people out. Once
we get inside, we can put an end to this gallivanting. We can all walk
away happy."

The charcoal shape of the Living Language crossed its arms, the
serpentine tendrils piled around mimicking her actions. "How will we
effectuate this exertion? Only a arbalest aggrandized here in
Quinto-Hell can fusillade this sepulture."

"We have one," said the Devil, shading his eyes to look up at the
gigantic sun. "That is, if our phantasmal friend here is up to it."

The wizard was a barely-discernible silhouette with a tree-like nervous
system and spinal cord branching throughout. His ghostly shape looked up
at the sun and slouched his shoulders. Then the cosmic crown above his
head flared with strings of pale-white electricity that entangled
themselves within him and tugged him upright. "Be ready. This will
happen fast," he warned them.

He raised his arms to the sun. The others could see his spinal cord
overfill with a liquid gold that dripped out between the vertebrae. It
clung to him, pouring upwards along his arms, becoming interwoven with
his nerves; by the time it reached his hands, it was impossible to tell
the difference between the golden power and the wizard's being.

The nerves in his fingers were of golden fusion that stretched up and
plunged into the sun. The massive sun shrunk back, making a gasping
shudder, as if someone had a grip on its heart.

The wizard pulled. The sun collapsed with a weak snap. A beating ball of
fusion fell into his hands. He held it close to him, close to his
breast, then compressed it between his hands and slammed it fiercely at
the black stone.

The square cracked with thunder. Jagged chunks fell away.

All three tumbled into the vault. As they crumpled on the floor, the
pieces of broken stone paused in mid-air, then slingshot back into
place. Within moments, the vault's ceiling like new, trapping them

"About damn time," said a brash voice from the darkness. Two rows of
rotted teeth parted in a wide frown, and the Super-Devil spat pieces of
molten lava into the corners to light the room. The only place that
seemed immune to the dull, new light was the twisted black circlet of
razor wire hovering over his cracked skull. "I thought you had left me
here to rot."

"You know perfectly well that I *had* to come back," the Devil retorted
as he got up onto his feet and straightened his clothes.

"You would have figured something," the Super-Devil mumbled.

The Super Wizard From Space was on his hands and knees. The crown rose,
its golden strings trying to pull him up. He didn't have the strength.
There wasn't enough left of him here. He crumpled onto his side.

"See? See?" the Super-Devil exclaimed, gesturing at the fallen wizard.
"I told you the jerk would be trashed down here. He's got the
characterization of a paper bag! I can end this Challenge with one
freaking finger!"  He wiggled his pinkie in hopeful demonstration.

"No! Not a chance," the Devil said. "You had your shot. You blew it. You
screwed yourself. And you screwed the lot of us. This time, we do it
*my* way."

The Super-Devil flipped them all off and slouched against the wall,

The Language didn't so pick itself up; the brittle charcoal clamoured
upwards to make a standing shape. Jade fire gave everything a sickly
tint. "And what explicitly is the contrivance you've engineered?" it

"Ah ha," said the Devil, now smiling. He straightened his jacket and
tugged his sleeves tight with broad showmanship. He took off his top hat
and showed that it was completely empty. Then he reached inside, made a
point of scratching around inside, and pulled out an old parchment
folded into squares. "Me and my cousin here came to an arrangement. I
agreed to exercise a loophole in our original legal quagmire and he
agreed that he was a chowderhead."

"Hey!" said the Super Devil.

The Devil ignored the outburst. "I've drawn up a contract that will
satisfy the Challenge, giving the Super Wizard From Space his victory by
way of the cosmic crown. Sign this, the whole mess gets untangled. Bob's
your uncle, we all go home." The Devil pulled a ballpoint pen from a
pocket. He unfolded the contract, clicked the pen a couple times, and
gave both to the Super-Devil. "You *do* still remember how to spell your
own name, right?" he asked?

The Super-Devil snatched them. "This is worth it just so I don't have to
listen to your smug I-told-you-so bullshit any more," he said,
scribbling on the dotted line. When he finished, a lick of hell-flame
lit up the edge of the paper as infernal powers turned the legal wording
into physical reality.

The Devil then took the contract to the Secret Living Language. "You're
the witness. Your signature makes this binding."

The Language took the pen, and looked at the Devil with a questioning

The Devil sighed. "Yes, I remember. You signing this is your end of our
bargain." He shook the parchment, "Cooperation, yes?"

A wash of hungry green embers flashed in the Language's charcoal eyes.
The burning desire of space-greed intermixed with insatiable hunger. It
took the pen and signed. The contract's edge gained another lick of
infernal fire.

The Devil then walked over to the Super Wizard From Space. He knelt by
him. He placed the contract on the floor. He handed him the pen.

It just passed through, clattered against the stone. "Hm. Thought this
might be a problem. A fanciful material thing like you isn't even real
enough to even grasp a simple idea like a pen. Well, no matter," he
picked up the pen himself, and held it at the bottom of the contract.
"You can whisper me your name and I'll write it down for you. It'll hold
up, don't worry."

The wizard tilted up his head, staring at the Devil. The dawning
realization could actually be seen. "This was it. This was the point,"
he said.

"What do you mean?" the Devil asked. He was angrier than he meant to be.
But it felt good. "Do you mean me helping a friend? A friend that turned
around and *killed* me when he found out about a past I was trying to
account for? Executed and banished for Double-Hell. Without even asking
a question. Without any regard for everything we did together. All the
good we did.

"Or do you mean putting you in a spot where you *have* to tell me your
name? Your secret name, where me knowing it makes me invulnerable to all
your damn power?

"And the worst thing, the thing that just *gets* to me? It wasn't you
killing me or all the time I spent under the thumb of my cousin. It was
that you *never* felt regret over it. Not once. I think that must screw
a person up, not being able to feel sorry about anything. I'm the Devil,
for crying out loud, and even *I* feel sorry about... um, *some* of the
things I've done."

The wizard laid his head back down. "You planned this. From the

The Devil frowned. "Do you know what the first crime ever committed was?
Betrayal. And its the one with the longest-lasting consequences." He
clicked the pen a couple times.  "So here's where we are now. You pick.
Whisper me your name and get everything you need. Or don't, and the
Super-Devil will just take your cosmic crown; without its power holding
you together, you'll cease to exist."

The Super Wizard From Space didn't have an expression. He didn't have a
face. The Devil couldn't tell what he was thinking. But he was pretty
sure what the choice would be. He could see right through him.

The wizard whispered a word to the Devil and the Devil wrote it on the
contract. The last of the edges caught fire. The agreement was sealed.

The obsidian vault split apart in pentagonal shapes, the pieces flinging
away at the speed of sound. The desert was blasted away from them as if
a gigantic hurricane had picked it up and threw it away. Upper levels of
space were shredded, dimensions tumbled away, and everyone had the
stomach-turning experience of falling upwards.

As they crashed higher and higher, they could see other black cubes
exploded open. The alternate devils were released, tossed out of
Quinto-Hell and back to their own realms. The Hyper-Devil found a
twisting corridor into his infinite maze. The Jumbo-Devil found a muddy
path to his terror swamps. The Super-Devil broke through massive gates
into his fortress city.

The rest of them saw a ceiling of dirty ice above them. They fell up at
it, out of control, and crashed through. Gravity suddenly rolled back
where it was supposed to be as they entered Hell, and they were dropped
onto the massive glacier plain of Cocytus.

The Devil leapt to his feet and patted his chest, incredulously. Then a
smile cracked across his red face as he realized they had succeeded. He
was back. He was free. He whooped and hollered like a maniac.

The Super Wizard From Space stood up uneasily. He felt better than he
had in a long time. He could see his hands. He could see his arms. "I'm
normal again," he said, more to convince himself than anyone else. He
flexed his hands into fists, feeling his fingers in his palms, his
muscles tensing, and solar energy pumping in his veins.

"Normal, yes! Or close to it," the Devil reassured, clamping him on the
shoulder. "And here! This is yours. Now that you can hold it yourself."
He handed over the contract.

The wizard held the contract with one hand. The fire didn't hurt. The
writing was illegible. The paper was ancient and fresh at the same time.
But there was a shape in the words he recognized. A roundness that sang
to him. He reached into the legalese and grasped it. When he lifted it
out, the shape became a circle, and the circle became black and sharp
and jagged.

"The black circlet. The Super-Devil's cosmic crown," the Devil

The air went sickly as the Secret Living Language exploded out of its
coal and embers figure. It was a breezy thin thought that reeked of wet
mold and angry wants. "A deal's a deal. I did my part. I want your part.
Give me what's yours!"

The Devil scratched the back of his head and shrugged. "Off you go,
then. All of my Hell is open to you."

The Language drenched the area with malevolent excitement. "I'll take it
all! All of it. I'll take it and make it mine!" It spread out thinly,
transversing impossible distances. Within seconds it was gone, off to
the far edges of an infinite space.

"What did you do?" the wizard asked when they were alone.

"Hm?" The Devil feigned ignorance.

The wizard narrowed his eyes. "It spoke one-syllable words, and I
understood all one of them. You did something to it."

"Well... yeah. Yes, of course I did," the Devil said. He took the
contract and folded it along the worn lines. Rather than the original
square shape, it bent and clipped wrong. It was origami that didn't
change the parchment so much as it changed the world around it.  When he
was done, it was in three pointed forms and was violently pregnant with
incredible power. "Voila!" the Devil said proudly, presenting the result
to the wizard. "The folded triangles. The Secret Living Language's
cosmic crown."

"You tricked it," the wizard said in realization.

"I beat it with small print," the Devil agreed.

"And what of the Secret Living Language?"

"Well, not so secret any more," the Devil said smugly. "It can try to
monkey around, if it likes. I doubt it'll cause any more trouble. Down
here or anywhere it manages to squirrel away to. It was a poisoned
philosophy that overcame entire civilizations, but without its crown, it
has to stand on its own merits. And bad ideas rarely have staying power
on their own."

The Devil clapped his hands and from sky fell his iron pitchfork. He
caught it nonchalantly, twirled it like a cane, and jabbed it into empty
air. A simple crackling came from the weapon. and a pentagram-shaped
hole tore open. On the other side lay the cobblestone road that led to
the ruined university.

"Goodbye, old friend. You many not survive you coming trials, but 
you'll be better for it either way."

The Super Wizard From Space nodded and returned to his own universe.



That wraps up this hell-arc. It took longer than I originally intended.
If I were to go back and clean this arc up, I would reduce the trip
through Double-, Triple-, and Tetra-hell into half the number of issues.

This arc allowed me to examine the Super Wizard character. I've been
getting by, up until now, by focusing more on the rest of the cast than
on the title character. Though I may continue to do so, I realize the
Super Wizard himself is going to have to gain some depth if I want to
continue writing his adventures past the cosmic-crown challenges. I'm
laying down some groundwork for an evolution; I'll see if I can find
enough of interest there, or if I'll move onto something else.

The Secret Living Language was a neat idea that I felt wasn't executed
as well as it could be. It turned out more as a generic monster than an
insidious menace. The Devil doesn't believe it has any staying power as
a character, anywhere it manages to get to. I'll let someone else find


NAME: The Secret Living Language

ALIAS: none

APPEARANCES: The Super Wizard From Space #2, #12-13, #25-33

DESCRIPTION: Crafted by bio-philosophers in a far-off galaxy, it was an
self-describing concept that gained a hungry sentience. It has no
physical form or shape, being a living idea, though some types sensitive
can make out an abstraction.

ABILITIES: As an idea, it has no physical form. It can't be killed,
hurt, hit, stabbed, shot, etc. It can move in and out of people's minds
as easily as any other idea, stealing everything within or altering
thoughts/opinions. At its worst, it can either suck dry all
knowledge/culture/art from entire civilizations.

WEAKNESSES: It is infected by "space-greed", which makes it ravenously
hungry. It always wants more. Of everything. It rarely lets that greed
manipulate it into make poor decisions, but when it does indulge, it can
act irrationally and instinctively, to its detriment.

PERSONALITY: Slippery, slimy, insidious. Like a snake, patiently getting
into position, then acting suddenly and brutally. It enjoys using its
advantages to set things up before striking, like seeing how big a house
of cards one can make before knocking it all down. Its at its most
dangerous when flip-flopping between this sadistic nature and the
impulses of that infectious greed.

Wil Alambre, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wilalambre

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