October 15, 2016
288. MAXIM LUSO
Vrykolakas, Planet Friki
Power Rating: 1 – 100
POWERS, ABILITIES, WEAPONS & TOOLS
Max Luso possesses enhanced speed, strength, durability and agility.
My name was Captain Noble. I was a superhero who worked for the US government before becoming lost at space. After being consumed by the universe, I am now Cosmic Noble, and this is an excerpt from my new journal.
Year 11, Day 324
After defeating Leviathan, Astor and I took advantage of the first safe spot we discovered in the woods to set up camp. Even though his vampire healing abilities help him restore his health as do my hyper-abilities, the toxin from the third monster still rendered his body and mind disoriented. I also needed much rest myself. Engaging in highly intense and complex combat with an unknown creature that can kill you in the blink of an eye is exhausting. Mentally, you have to remain as keen as can be. Physically, you have to always be prepared to perform any type of maneuver and to call on your full strength and speed at the drop of a dime. Superhero or vampire warrior, it does not matter. Surviving a fight like the one against Leviathan will sap every ounce of energy from you.
Gasps of awe could be overheard throughout the arena during the transformation. Even Max’s crew was dumbfounded. It was as if a deity was being created before our eyes. The waves of energy pulsated throughout the arena and continued to kick up dirt on the ground while swaying the rest of the buildings and things around us. Astor then walked forward after a few more moments once the energy disappeared and started at Max. The werewolf glared back at the vampire prince, and before I knew it, the two advanced to battle each other!
WEIGHT: 302 lbs.
On top of being drained of vitality, I lost my supply bag when the initial wave of water smashed into us as Leviathan emerged. All my food, water and medical supplies were gone. Having been lost at space for 7 months before finding the S.S. Prism, I did not worry too much about it. I was more than sure I could handle the journey, and I also had a native guide which is something I lacked on all my previous travels. Yet, having a bag I could simply reach into for a snack, a drink of water, or medicine to treat a cut was a welcome luxury instead of having to hunt for my meals, boil water to drink, or burn wounds to try and clear them of any infection. Again, I was not concerned though. C’est la vie had become my life motto by the time I reached Friki. Fitting as mottos will come for a space traveler.
It took a day or so, but when Astor was better we moved out and continued on the journey. We encountered numerous types of beasts in the woods. Some of them were dangerous and aggressive. Others were peaceful and kept to themselves. I killed a few for food to sustain myself, but Astor still refused. He swore to never take another life for blood consumption, and he stuck to his vow even though he remained physically weakened. Fortunately, we did not face any beasts even a fraction as deadly as Leviathan and Astor did not need to be 100%. That was, until, we unknowingly stumbled into an unexpected situation.
After about 6 days of traveling through the woods, Astor and I happened to come across a large camp ground. We were well into the woods by that point, and according to Astor we were almost a third of the way to Castle Rathegalia. My initial thoughts were to be cautious, as I had not come across any large gathering of sentient intelligent beings or group civilizations my entire travels in space. All I had experienced was wild, unsettled planets and then The Stavro Dome. Astor was of the same mind too, for to the best of his knowledge, no large settlements like that were supposed to be anywhere in the woods. He said there would be small camp sites with a few people, no more than 10, who would be resting from their travels before moving on. The part of Friki we were in, though, was always known for being the hunting grounds of vicious predators. People knew not to plant roots there, and from the looks of the encampment, there were at least 700 people.
Astor and I walked around the outskirts just beyond the tree line to do some reconnaissance. The tents ranged from small to huge in size, with some log cabins having been built and many more in production. There was a storage section of the camp where they kept supplies, and a section where they skinned, chopped, and salvaged parts from their animal kills. A huge pond was near one edge of camp providing them water and fish, and there also seemed to be a barracks or a training ground with an open arena. It was evident the residents of this place were no typical nomads but people who were intelligent, advanced, and very capable. They also all appeared to be human, which caught me off-guard. When I inquired of Astor whether or not some of the human livestock the vampires bred could have escaped, he reminded me that they stopped taking and breeding humans long ago when aima was discovered. I next asked if the evil warlord could have reopened the portal and brought humans here for his own feeding desires. That, Astor did not know for sure. Whoever they were, they did not seem like bad people though, and seeing how I had not had any food or water for a while, I decided we should introduce ourselves. Astor vehemently disagreed and said we should push on. In the end, the choice was not up to us, however. Members of the encampment had snuck up behind our position.
How they were able to sneak up on a vampire with extremely heightened senses and myself boggled my mind at that moment. It did not matter though, for they had us. We could have fought back, but I did not want to commit any bloodshed, and Astor looked reluctant to do anything. So, we cooperated and went with them to their camp as they grabbed us by the arms. We marched on between the tents and cabins while people dropped everything and stared at us. They pointed and whispered to each other incessantly at first, but then they grew hostile and began throwing things and spitting in our direction. That is when I noticed the vitriol and objects were aimed at Astor. They hated him and did not even know him, which utterly confused me. I yelled for them to stop and to leave him alone. Naturally, this drew their ire in my direction and they began cursing me while throwing objects at my head. Astor told me my attempts, no matter how noble, were futile. He did not say why though, again, leaving me puzzled for the second time in a matter of minutes. Little did I know answers were just a few feet away.
When we reached the middle of the camp, we were made to kneel in front of a large man surrounded by other men and women. They were stationed outside of a giant cabin that appeared to be the main building and center of their settlement. The people all looked rough and battle hardened. It was apparent they were no spring chickens, but they were not old either. All were in top physical shape; as fit as a person can be. Then, the leader emerged. He was very tall and incredibly built. He had muscles on top of muscles without a layer of fat on him seemingly. The man carried a very stern look on his face, and I could tell he was a no-nonsense kind of guy. That would prove to be an understatement though, for when he reached Astor he punched him in the face with a crushing blow. My vampire friend was right. We should have definitely pushed on.
As Astor recomposed himself and straightened up, the other men and women standing in front of the building began laughing and applauding. They called him Max while cheering him on, so I spoke to try and reason with him. I told Max my name and what we were doing. I informed him we did not mean to trespass and did not want any trouble. He replied by glaring at me. Another man ran up in my direction next. It was obvious he meant to do me physical harm. Max stopped him though. Then, the man yelled in a fit of rage asking how dare I speak to their leader without being spoken to. Max nodded for him to return to the group behind him, and the man did so reluctantly. Then, he turned to me and introduced himself as Maxim Luso, the leader of their settlement also aptly named Luso. Next, I assured him there would be no more need for violence as Astor nor myself were a threat and we would leave as soon as they would let us. However, when I mentioned Astor’s name, Max turned to him slowly and looked at him with utter disdain. Next, he muttered Astor’s name under his breath. Then, aloud, he announced, “Astor Rathegalia!” There was a collective gasp from the surrounding crowd, and then Max went from on-edge to being enraged!
He pounded Astor into the ground with thunderous punches and kicks. I yelled for him to stop but he wouldn’t. Then, I wondered why Astor did not defend himself. He more than held his own against Leviathan even in his weakened state. But, instead of waiting for him to fight back, I threw my body in front of Max and covered Astor while yelling for him to stop. When I did this, I heard a slew of what sounded like growls that would come from massive beasts. I looked around expecting to see they had released monster wolves on us or something. That is when I noticed the group of men and women behind Max all looked different. Their hands and feet were elongated, forming claws with razor sharp nails. Their faces seemed to be forming snouts, and they had mouths full of sharp teeth. Once more, Max gestured for them to be at ease. So, they relaxed and their anatomies returned back to normal. I was dumbfounded by what I saw. That is when Max motioned for me to help Astor up, which I did. Finally, he explained to me what was going on.
Luso was the new home of the werewolves. Everyone there was one, and they had decided to settle in the area to avoid the constant slaughtering of their people. Ever since Astor’s ancestors failed to help the werewolves defeat the evil warlord and his troops, the vampire race offered no help to the werewolves even though they were continually hunted and exterminated. Once the Rathegalia family was murdered and Astor was exiled with his one remaining kin being locked up in the dungeons, vampires gave up all hope of a resistance and decided to only worry about their own kind. The werewolves did not take this slight lightly, and felt abandoned by those they had formed a strong bond with ever since the truce was established between the races long before. Thus, Max formed a rebel group of werewolves that swore to protect all of their kind and murder any vampire who got in their way, whether they were friendly or not. In the eyes of the werewolves, vampires had either actively hunted them to be killed or let them be hunted. So, they returned the favor by unleashing hell on all vampires while they fought to free their captive brothers and sisters, and lead the remaining werewolves who were scattered all over the kingdoms to one location. Luso was that place; it was where Max led every one of his kind he freed or came across, and over time, they continued to add to their numbers as well. Thus, Astor was not only their enemy for being a vampire, but he was seen as being responsible for failing to defeat the evil warlord.
After hearing Max’s story, I was quick to remind them that Astor was a Rathegalia, a member of the royal family who led the vampire charge to come to their defense against the evil warlord. I told Max that Astor actively fought side by side with werewolves against his own kind to defend their freedom, and that in return he had lost everything for it: his family, his friends, his title, his home, and almost his life. Max and the others laughed in response to my words, and the alpha werewolf told me that allowing oneself to be exiled instead of fighting to the death was a great dishonor amongst their kind, as every werewolf fought until either their life was taken or they were victorious. It was not until they faced extinction that they had to start moving in secret and using other alternatives of fighting as to ensure their race would continue on. I was at a loss at that moment. I knew nothing I said would help and the look Astor gave me said the same. We were trapped and at the will of these mighty creatures. Then, it dawned on me why Astor looked as if he did not want to do anything when we were caught in the woods, and why he didn’t fight back while getting beat down. He knew we were in the presence of werewolves from the start. We were surrounded by dominating monsters who could rip us to shreds in mere seconds; even in his human form, Max seemed stronger and faster than most creatures. Astor also knew to not waste his breath on trying to reason with them. So, I closed my mouth and waited what was to come.
Max circled us, yelling and pandering to his followers, preaching about werewolf pride and how it was their day. The people cheered of course and egged him on. He continued for a few more minutes, soaking up the glory of having a Rathegalian prince, possibly the last of the vampire royalty, at his feet. Then, he turned to us and said he would not allow for a swift and quick death. He told us that it was only right we suffer agonizing pain before being killed, which is why he decided to throw us in their arena to face his fellow werewolf warriors in death matches…