A Tale of the Ringbearers, by Brother Grimace
(NOTE: This is a fic in the 'Judith Strikes!' shared-world series.)
Judith shrieked as blue-white flame exploded out of her mouth, carbonizing her tongue and cutting off the scream as her face, and then head, disappeared in the blistering, five-foot-tall column of fire that her body had become.
In seconds, the young woman dropped upon the front lawn of the Morgendorffer home, leaving scorch marks as her flailing body jerked about in its death throes - and then lay still, the scent of her roasting flesh filling the air.
"You are one sick woman," Ian Lloyd chuckled, as Anastasia Rowe used her telekinesis to pull a clump of earth from the lawn, transforming it into 'ambrosia' – the psychoactive substance that could be turned into any imaginable form of food – and then, transforming the ambrosia into a thick, rich barbecue sauce that poured slowly over the smoldering corpse, covering it thoroughly. "I must admit, though – I do like that about you."
Anastasia's emerald eyes sparkled as she looked over to her fellow Ringwraith; on the lawn, the corpse gave off popping, crackling sounds as the barbecue sauce cooked into the flesh, still too hot to touch, as Anastasia's ring created a gentle corona of flame over the charred remains. "Okay, she's been dead for about thirty seconds," she said, glancing in Ian's direction as the flames disappeared. "Bring her back."
Ian nodded; the copper-hued ring he wore on his right hand sparkled in the sunlight as copper light shone from his eyes.
Judith's corpse shone with the same copper light – and the two Ringwraiths watched as the young woman, her body fully healed, returned to life with a strangled, surprised gasp.
"Oh, my," Ian mused, studying Judith's nude form as he used his Vengeance Ring to restore the lawn beneath her. "Evil little bird's got the body of a spinner..."
The female Ringwraith rolled her eyes. "Get her cloak."
Ian made a casual wave with his hand, and a red cloak soared through the front door of the Morgendorffer home. As the Ringwraiths watched, the cloak expanded itself as it covered Judith, becoming a giant tent...
Less than a minute later, the cloak retracted itself to its original size; it wound itself around Judith, now garbed in a simple gray outfit. "Well, that was – an experience," she said, looking around the area before focusing her attention on the Ringwraiths – and giving Anastasia a surly glare. "And you didn't even wait to hear any of my directions."
"What was there to wait for?" the Ringwraith shrugged. "You wanted to die and be resurrected. It's not as if that's something that has a lot of steps."
Judith growled at them both, the locket around her neck flashing with a blue light that pulsed for several seconds in an exact rhythm with the light in her eyes. "You burned me alive – and then covered my charred corpse with barbecue sauce? You grilled my remains?"
Ian pointed in Anastasia's direction as he took a step away from his fellow Ringwraith. "That was all her."
"What's death without a little desecration?" Anastasia giggled. "By the way – mesquite- honey barbecue is so your color. It sets off the highlights in your hair – well, it would have, if it hadn't all been burned away."
"In any event," Ian cut in, before either woman could comment further, "We've held up our end of the deal, Judith. You died – a violent, senseless death that you didn't expect or see coming. You experienced every detail, every moment of agony involved with that – and we brought you back to life."
The Ringwraith walked up to Judith. "Our payment, please"
Judith smiled as she reached deep inside her cloak, and withdrew a square that – to Anastasia – looked like a cigarette pack-sized block of tofu. "This is an bio-organic shield module, which can adapt to cloak anything you wish – physical objects, energy signatures, biological life signs, anything you want. You should be able to duplicate the material with your Rings at will – just take a taste of it, and then, have at it."
"Does it taste like crap or chicken?" Ian asked, looking the module over warily – he'd had tofu before; one of his former Agency team members was a vegan, and had lived on the food.
"Chicken crap," Judith said, as Ian broke the module in half, handing part to Anastasia as he opened up a 'hammerspace' portal and placed his half inside. "Make enough of this and plant it around the world – let it get into the environment through living creatures, who will act as living dampeners for their scans - and the Ringbearers will never detect you or your Rings here on this Earth. Actually, they won't be coming here anyway. This world is under Agency jurisdiction, and they haven't been here in ten years."
Something went click in Ian's mind; Anastasia's Ring-shields had already activated, and the information on her heads-up display made her growl with anger:
==ALERT! Active HST infestation zone
==Classification: Reanimate/Romero-class - MULTIPLE FORMS
==Classification: Reanimate/Russo-class - MULTIPLE FORMS
==Classification: Reanimate/Umbrella-class - MULTIPLE FORMS
==Infestation Intensity Level Status: CLASS FOUR EXTREME
==HST shields deployed
==Recommend against use of primary reanimate-disruption endowment due to physical constraints of human physiology
==CONFIRMED CHAIN SWARM IN PROCESS
==EVACUATE CURRENT LOCATION IMMEDIATELY
"Bitch!" she hissed, as the first wave of zombified creatures – once-human, and barely-animal – came around the corner, drawn by the sounds of their voices and the scents in the air. "You think that we can't deal with the undead?"
"Oh, no - I'm sure you can," Judith said, her voice tinkling with happiness as the necklace she wore began to emanate a sparkling blue light. "Ten years ago, the Agency dealt with a being called Apocalypse on this Earth. They evacuated the survivors to another world, and convinced the Corps of Ringbearers not to destroy this planet – they felt that the surviving life forms here deserved the chance to evolve, the same way that mammals did after the event that wiped out the dinosaurs."
"So this world's full of zombies?" Ian barked, transmuting the crowd of over a thousand zombies into silver as Judith's locket opened a portal into space and time thirty feet above them. "Oh, bloody hell!"
"Almost five billion zombies,
Mr. Lloyd," Judith told him, as she began to float upwards, drawn in by the
gentle pull of the portal. "Not to mention all of the other species that exist
in zombified forms – think of it as 'Noah's Ark – Max Brooks style'. You're
going to have an interesting time living here – for a while, anyway.
She shrugged as a wave of zombified animals seemed to explode from almost every direction – strangely enough, they avoided the Morgendorffer residence as the Ringwraiths flew just above street level and away from the house, frustrating the animals as they followed along, a cesspool of snarling, undead flesh that hissed and snapped as it expanded beneath them by the second. "Whichever way that goes."
A pulse of thin, bluish energy exploded from Judith's locket, and Ian's eyes widened as a new message read across his heads-up display:
==Planetary interdiction field established
==Dimensional portal travel restricted
==Extra-dimensional travel currently unavailable
==Trans-temporal travel currently unavailable
==Cross-dimensional travel unaffected by interdiction field
==Estimated time until depletion of planetary interdiction field power levels to allow for off-world travel (standard unit/hours): 167:58: 56
Anastasia waved her Ring-hand, and the second wave of zombies were obliterated where they stood as a massive rain of pea-sized spheres of light sprayed from her hand, instantly incinerating any undead flesh it struck. "Bitch!" she screeched once more.
"Well, yes - but not for this," the woman said, disappearing into the portal she created. "In exchange for your help, I led you to a world where you and yours could be safe from detection, live in comfort, and have access to everything you could possibly need as you prepared for whatever your future goals are. I never gave you a reason as to why this would be so."
The Ringwraiths suddenly found themselves in deep shade; looking up, they saw a massive flock of winged creatures – hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions of undead creatures, blocking out the sun as they flew unerringly towards the only non-zombified life on the planet. "Welcome to the New World, Ringwraiths," Judith said, as the portal closed. "Welcome to Zombie Earth... welcome to Zerth. I've burned your ships – and now, it's time for you to tame your new home."
17 June 2010