[*] Part IX: Dark Storm Rising [*]

Each AAE story is broken down into "chapters" of approximately 100KB of ASCII text per file. SPOILER WARNING: The summary after the chapter links is intended for those who want to find out what happened in this section without reading the full archive. It will contain spoilers. You have been warned :-).

In AAE IV, the Gaunt Man learned of the Callahanian Army of Light. In AAE VI, Thratchen tried to steal a cosmic artifact of unimaginable power. In AAE VII, the Demon Prince struck again, attempting to divine the secrets of the TARDIS.

For years, the Gaunt Man has let his demonic rival do the work. Meanwhile, he has watched. Waited. Planned. Prepared.

And now, his plans have borne their monstrous fruit.

Earth-9 is the richest prize the Gaunt Man has ever found, replete with Possibilities and defended by vast forces. In one fell stroke, his rivals and his enemies alike will fall. When they do, he will become the Torg: immortal, indestructible, invincible. The terror and agony are merely sweet frosting on a hellish cake. Indeed, the resistance of the Callahanians will only serve his purposes... (ran 02 Sep 03 - 19 May 07)

Prologs/Spin-offs
The Adventures of Dr. Energy: Part 1; Part 2
Doc Energy -- Chaos in Chinatown: Part 1; Part 2 (Latest 1 Nov 04)

AAE 9
Prologs / Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4 / Ch. 5 / Ch. 6 / Ch. 7 / Ch. 8 / Ch. 9 / Ch. 10
Darkseid, Round 2
Ch. 11 / Ch. 12 / Ch. 13 / Ch. 14 / Ch. 15 / Ch. 16 / Ch. 17 / Ch. 18 / Ch. 19 / Ch. 20 / Ch. 21

Please keep in mind that several of these were going on at the same time, so there is some back-and-forth between plot threads, especially the Nile Empire and the Islands story lines.

Pulp Cosm (Nile Empire) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4 / Ch. 5 / Ch. 6 / Ch. 7 / Ch. 8 / Ch. 9 / Ch. 10 / Ch. 11
High Fantasy Cosm (Middle Earth) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4
Various other adventures New Orleans / Rio de Janeiro
Islands (Champion's & InfraRed's) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3

Anime Cosm (this one started at the same time as the above sections, and ran through the space opera/swashbuckling ones) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4
Intermission (in which everyone but the characters in the Anime realm regroups before heading out again) Ch. 22 / Ch. 23

Space Opera Cosm (Star Wars) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4 / Ch. 5 / Ch. 6 / Ch. 7 / Ch. 8 / Ch. 9 / Ch. 10 / Ch. 11
Swashbuckling Cosm (Théah / 7th Sea) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4

Finalé (the Gaunt Man) Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / Ch. 3 / Ch. 4 / Ch. 5 / Ch. 6 / Ch. 7 / Ch. 8

Writers (in order of first post, writers with multiple characters are only mentioned once, by their alias or primary character's name):

Summary:

(See Roland's Earth-9 site for an overview of the TORG reality invasions, and the invading High Lords.)

Due to this possibly being the greatest number of different settings involved in one CAoL story, the following "scorecard" may be helpful. In addition to those fictons represented by the members of the CAoL, the following are represented in the Big Final Brouhaha (mouse over a name to see if the character is dead):

From Earth-9:
The Champions, UNTIL agents and Viper goons (and related supers), Markoth the Sorcerer (with Dark Seraph, Black Paladin and Malais), Gaiasbane, Anathema (Paragon of Pride Eremite), The Ebon Dragon, Malfael (the Abyss Incarnate) Note: The former Viperia is "Defender Girl" (for now) and on the side of the heroes
From Earth-6:
Roland Dracul and the Champions of Evil
From Amber:
Prince Julian and Lady Alysande
From anime:
Akira, Astro Boy, Battle of the Planets, Bubblegum Crisis, Chojin Locke, Dirty Pair, Fullmetal Alchemist, Tenchi Muyo!, Voltron
From Babylon 5:
White Stars, Omega Dreadnoughts, Sharlin Warcruisers, G'Quon Heavy Cruisers, Vorchan Medium Cruisers appear, fighter craft from various worlds
From Battlestar Galactica:
The Battlestars Galactica and Pegasus, Vipers and Cylon Raiders, Boomer's Viper/Gunstar hybrid
From DC Comics:
The Justice League; Lex Luthor, Cheetah, Sinestro, and other Legion of Doom members; the Crime Syndicate (a.k.a. the anti-JL); various "New God" heroes and villains
From Doc Smith:
Lensmen and Eddorans
From Flash Gordon:
Ming the Merciless
From Legend of Zelda:
Link, Ganon, Zelda
From Lovecraft:
Cthulhu, Azathoth, Old One avatars, Shub-Niggurath, and other Lovecraftian horrors
From Marvel Comics:
Thanos
From Middle Earth:
Gandalf and his allies; Balrogs and nasties
From Orrorsh:
Manwaring, gospog, other miscellaneous horrors
From Robotech:
the SDF-1, Skull Squadron, the Zentradi
From Star Wars:
Darth Tyrannus, Vader's Imperial Navy, the Rebel Alliance, a General Grievous-alike
From the Wheel of Time:
Rand and his allies, and Forsaken
From who knows where:
The Walkin' Dude (aka Randall Flagg)

Prologue

Even for the Callahanian Army of Light, Roland Phoenix -- the closest thing this pack of interdimensional barhopping adventurers has to a leader -- is rather unusual. Originally an outsider's outsider on his homeworld, avoided even by his fellow rebels and rogues, he has risen to become a leader of Champions and an icon of liberty and justice. Across the dimensions, he and his beloved wife Morgan have altered the fates of dozens of realities for the better, both alone, as a pair and with the aid of the CAoL.

Enough is enough.

The Gaunt Man, drawn to Earth-9 by its rich resources and its importance to the Callahanians, gathers allies to invade. Over the course of weeks, he keeps the Champions off-balance with carefully arranged crises here and there. The occasional monster that defies their world's unusual laws. The supervillain that doesn't play by the rules. The political tension that escalates at just the wrong time. The Champions realize this, immediately after a fight with the brilliant and evil Golgoth, just in time to watch the mother of all Boom Tubes open up over their beloved New York City.

Part 1: Apokolips Now

Darkseid invaded the American north-east, striking at the very heart of the world's power rather than skirting it as the other High Lords had. Making short work of the Champions (and personally caving Defender's head in), he finds himself having much greater difficulty with the CAoL. Still, the Lord of Apokolips was ready, and everyone involved has one heck of a fight on their hands. Eventually, Darkseid retreats, but not before the Callahanians find something fishy about Suli San, Darkseid's resurrected wife and love.

Round Two takes place at the realm's nexus, a huge Fire Pit that marks the seat of Darkseid's power. The battle is even more immense than before...until Darkseid's true plan is revealed. The Anti-Life Entity, his Darkness Device, has been manipulating Darkseid through its power over Suli. Darkseid, in turn, has manipulated the CAoL into being forced to rescue her in order to free Earth-9 from his invasion. The plan works, and the Entity is defeated and repelled. Darkseid agrees to help Roland's world resist the Gaunt Man in exchange for the already-provided help. Besides, the Gaunt Man is stepping on Darkseid's turf, as far as the New God is concerned.

Part 2a: Fire in the Sky

The mad genius Pharaoh Mobius I, ruler of the Nile Empire and one of two High Lords with serious past experience with Roland, creates a 30s pulp-era reality in north-eastern Africa. As usual, his initial success is considerable, and he captures the queen of the Amazons and the Silver Scarab early on. The heroes are a trap for the CAoL, but in spite of dizzying odds, they rescue the prisoners and manage a narrow, desperate escape...all save the heroine Karma, who becomes a prisoner of the Empire and a guest of the Pharaoh.

(After the rescue, there is a bit of a heroic diaspora, which results in the Hunter's capture by the villainess Infra-Red. Several heroes must divert their attention to his rescue, which is by no means a simple matter.)

Mobius 'invites' the heroes to his fortress in Luxor with a display from his ultimate weapon -- the Omegatron, an artificial sun with a mythical Titan inside it. Ironically, in spite of all the mighty heroes in the Nile and the CAoL's massive invasion of the Pharaoh's palace, it is Karma who becomes the Empire's undoing, helping Mobius to escape Evil and turn to Good (both genuine metaphysical powers in the realm). Natatiri, a scheming underling of Mobius', is revealed as the traitor she is, but escapes with the cosmic entity OMEN, no doubt to return at the worst possible moment.

Part 2b: The Eye and the Crown

Sauron, near death after the Destruction of the Ring, is saved by the Gaunt Man, who gives him the Drakacanus Crown. This resurrects the villain and allows him to invade Northern Europe, his forces ravaging in their usual style. Morgan goes alone to the defense of Ireland, which suffers the presence of an undead Saruman, while Roland leads a small band of Callahanians against a siege on "Minas London," the transformed capital. A gigantic, evil dragon comes to the aid of the invaders, who are bolstered by several Ringwraiths, but the heroes win out in the end. Saruman (now a Ringwraith himself) is beaten by Morgan and Gandalf, and Roland's heroes break the siege.

After an eerily familiar debate, the heroes attack Sauron's stronghold, using massive distractions to draw off most of the Dark Lord's forces. The trick works, and after a tremendous battle against Sauron's remaining defenses (which remain highly formidable), the evil thing is finally beaten once and for all when Morgan (with considerable help) rips the Crown away from the Eye. Those greedy hearts and minds that would claim the Crown are undone by other heroes while the cosmic Callahanians buffer the realm from the backlash.

Part 3: Animated Misadventures

While most of the CAoL is dealing with other invasions, duplicates of heroes and what few others can be spared travel to Japan to help the native heroes repel Zoltar, High Lord of Spectra. A massive battle involving almost every major anime trope (including some of the most famous villains from the respective worlds) takes place in Tokyo, in battles that range from Astro Boy fighting alongside Defender against Piccolo to Big O and G-Force teaming up against a Dark Voltron and a Spectran worm-mecha.

Though heroes from across Earth-9 and among the CAoL ally with the anime champions, in the end it comes down to their greatest heroes, Astro, G-Force, Voltron Force, Chojin Locke and others, to unite their wills and courage to free Zoltar from the psychic enslavement of the Luminous One and destroy its epic, all-consuming hunger.

Anime referenced: Big-O, Ranma 1/2, Akira, Astro Boy, Dragon Ball, Voltron, Battle of the Planets, Sailor Moon, Robotech, Chojin Locke, Pokémon, Street Fighter, Dirty Pair, Shinesman, Teknoman, Bubblegum Crisis, Project A-ko, Slayers, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Guyver, Escaflowne, Tenchi Muyo!

Part 4a: Return of the Jedi

A Callahanian force enters India, which has been conquered by Emperor Palpatine and his Empire. The Demon Prince Thratchen has allied with him and offered his Thardolku -- a race of cybernetic demons who end up adapting well to the Dark Side -- and the Imperial forces have crushed most opposition, regular and super, as a result. A rebellion exists, however, and the heroes go to meet their contact in a hive of scum and villainy in Hyderabad -- the Qui-Gon and Anakin of an alternate Star Wars reality altered by Roland and Morgan. Alas, their meeting is uncovered, and the group must flee for their lives after a brawl to end all brawls.

Of course, this does not end all brawls. The Callahanians successfully lose their enemies, retreating to the rebels' hidden base to rendezvous with the leaders and plan a counter-attack. Just as a plan is starting to form, however, the Empire catches up with them again! Morgan is captured, several heroes are tempted by the Dark Side, and once again their escape is a narrow one.

Part 4b: Anchors Aweigh

In Southern Europe, a mad "Italian" Prince with a flying clockwork island and fate-twisting sorceresses has overrun several nations. While meeting an UNTIL contact in Marseilles in an attempt to find a way onto the Prince's island, the Garde Noire (the enforcers of the new "Emperor of France") find the heroes and give chase. A few heroes 'escape' by spacial portal, the rest finding their way onto the Black Phoenix, captained by the infamous Roger Sparrow (that's CAPTAIN Roger Sparrow, mind). They sailed from Marseilles as fast as the wind and the Phoenix's sorcerous engines could carry them.

The found themselves boarded by Caligari's flying island, rather than the reverse, then fought their way through a pack of villains viler than most, even among the Prince's brood. When the mad Prince turned his great machine of a Darkness Device on the heroes, they turned his own evil on itself. Ultimately, it consumed Prince Caligari, his island, and all his insane dreams of immortality. It almost consumed the Black Phoenix, too, though they of course escaped by the skin of their teeth (miraculous stuff, teeth skin).

Part 5: Heart of Darkness

All the while, the Gaunt Man waited on his bleak throne, set in foul Illmound Keep atop an artificial mountain of his own making. He waited and watched and smiled, until the heroes arrived. Their coming only increased his terribly joy, for every strategem Roland had devised, the Gaunt Man seemingly foresaw and outmaneuvered. All the hopes of a thousand fictons now rest on Defender's ability to pull a sword from a place that it should be impossible to deny him, in a battle where endless impossibilities stack up, one on another, with the terrible end approaching...

Jump to...
Part I: The Forge of Light Part II: War in Arcadia
Part III: A Game of Revenge Part IV: The Gathering of Nightmares
Part V: Marvel Quest Part VI: Fuzzy Quest
Part VII: Tense Times Part VIII: Stay Tooned
Part IX: Dark Storm Rising
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