E.G.G Episode 60: Hands of the Mandarin Part 2- The Ten Rings of Power
AND THERE CAME A DAY, A DAY LIKE SO MANY OTHERS. WHEN THREE FOOLS FOUND THEMSELVES STANDING IN THE PRESENCE OF TRUE POWER. ON THAT DAY, E.G.G DISCOVERED THAT NO ONE ESCAPES THE HANDS OF THE MANDARIN.
Previously, on Hands of the Mandarin...
Josh followed up the lead that began with A.I.M, and it led him on a flight to China. However, the man he was investigating, known as none other than The Mandarin, destroyed his plane before Josh could reach his destination, killing everyone save Josh and a Chinese woman named Lee Mei, who speaks no English. As Josh and Lee Mei made their way towards the Mandarin's palace, Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man 2099, tracked down James to E.G.G Base, where he was waiting prepared. After a hard fight, James won and hauled O'Hara back to the year 2099, leaving Eileen distraught and alone, and triggering her transformation into Darkstream.
Click here to read E.G.G Episode 59: Hands of the Mandarin Part 1- Heroes Fall
Hands of the Mandarin
-The Ten Rings of Power-
Kyle Rice was lying asleep on the roof across the street from Grand Central Station. Squirrel Girl sat on the edge of the roof with a pair of X-Ray binoculars, looking into E.G.G Base.
“Um, Kyle…” She said. She turned to see him sleeping. She poked his shoulder. “Kyle…”
“Mmmm, go away…” He groaned, waving her away. Squirrel Girl nervously looked back through the binoculars, then began to shake him.
“Kyle wake up!” She shouted.
“Errrr…” He growled, slowly sitting up. “What is it Squirrel Girl?”
“What are we supposed to be watching for again?” Kyle rubbed his eyes, yawned, and stretched.
“We’re making sure Eileen doesn’t lose control of her powers.” He said, scratching his side.
“Um… what exactly does that look like?”
“I don’t know, I guess anything out of the ordinary, power or behavior wise.”
“… Dose this count as out of the ordinary?” She asked, handing him the binoculars. Kyle raised an eyebrow and grabbed them. He looked through into E.G.G Base to see Acacia backed into a corner, and Darkstream floating above her, red fire and lightning engulfing her body.
“Holy shell!” Kyle shouted. He tossed his cell phone to Squirrel Girl and rushed over to his briefcase.
“What do I do?” Squirrel girl asked.
“Call Fury!” Rice replied, taking a gun out of his briefcase and loading the clip into it. “Tell him what’s happening!”
“What are you gonna do?”
“I’m going in.” He pulled his jacket on and grabbed his swords.
“Alone.” He jumped off of the roof.
“Ohhhh…” Squirrel Girl nervously whined. She dialed the number on Rice’s phone.
“Fury.” His voice replied on the other end.
“Mr. Fury, this is Squirrel Girl!” She shouted. “We got a code 10, no, uh, 69! A rabbit hole! Foxtrot is proceeding to delta! The package is under the door! Coo coo cachou just entered the pit!”
“What. The shell. Are you saying.” Fury sternly replied.
“Eileen’s going crazy!” Squirrel Girl screamed. There was a pause.
“I’m on my way.” Fury replied.
“Hurry! I don’t think Kyle can survive!” She hung up and watched nervously as Rice entered the building.
* * *
Josh and Lee Mei peeked over a hedge to find a giant Chinese palace surrounded by tanks, Humvees, jets, weapons, soldiers, and missile launchers.
“The Mandarin’s palace.” Josh said. He looked at Lee Mei to see her staring in fear. He grabbed her hand. “Hey.” He said. She looked at him. “I’ll protect you.”
“Wǒ pà.” She replied.
“I still can’t understand you, but I’ll take that as a ‘Thank you Josh, you’re my hero!’. Now let’s go.” He and Lee Mei snuck around the perimeter of the compound. Josh spotted a side entrance to the palace with guards standing in front.
“Okay, wait for my signal.” He said. Lee Mei looked at him in confusion. “You,” He said, pointing to her. “Stay here.” He pointed at the ground. Lee Mei nodded as Josh slid down the hill. She watched as Josh snuck up behind the guards and slammed their heads together. They both turned to Josh. She saw him backing up and beginning to talk when one of them punched him in the gut. The other one hit him with the butt of his gun. Josh swung at the first guy, but he dodged it and kicked Josh. Josh spun into the other guy, who shoved him into the dirt. Lee Mei looked around, then spotted a large rock. She picked it up and hurled it. It hit one of the guards in the head and he fell unconscious. The other guard turned, and Josh got up, rushed him, and slammed him into the wall, knocking him out. Lee Mei slid down the hill, as Josh stood with his hands on his knees, panting.
“Nǐ bùshì yīgè hěn hǎo de zhàndòujī, nǐ?” She said.
“I had ‘em on the ropes…” Josh panted. He stood up and inhaled. “Come on.” He opened the door they both rushed in.
* * *
Rice rushed through the doors of Grand Central Station.
“Okay,” he said. “This is it. Gun, check. Swords, check. Bow staff, cheeeeeeaaaaahhhhh!!!!!” He screamed as he fell through the hole in the floor made by the Joshinator Armor. “AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!” He screamed, until he finally hit the ground. “Uhh… check.” He sat up to see the light emanating from James’s secret room. He took out his swords and made his way down the tracks. He took cover behind the wall and peeked in.
“Eileen!” Acacia screamed. “Listen, I know you’re upset, but you’ve gotta calm down! You’re going crazy!”
“I’m not going crazy.” She replied. “In fact, I see more clearly than ever before! And I told you, it’s Darkstream.” A red lightning blast formed on her hands and she launched it at Acacia.
“Ah!” Acacia screamed, when suddenly Rice slid in front of her and blocked it with his swords.
“Go, now!” He ordered. Acacia turned and rushed out of the room as Rice began to strafe around Darkstream. “Now listen Eileen, I’m supposed to kill you, but I want to help you. Stand down, we can make this easy.”
“Foolish man!” She exclaimed. “My power is beyond reproach! Your universe will be extinguished!”
“Not today.” Rice said, readying his fighting stance.
* * *
Josh peeked around the corner, then motioned for Lee Mei to follow him. They began to run down the hall.
“I don’t get it.” Josh said. “Where are all the guards? This place is deserted…” As they made their way down the halls, they passed many clay samurai statues. Lee Mei cautiously made her way around them, sticking close to Josh. Josh looked at Lee Mei. “What’s wrong?” He asked.
“Èmó.” She said, pointing to the clay guardians.
“The statues?” Josh asked.
“Èmó.” She repeated, holding her fingers to her head like devil horns.
“Riiiiiiight…” Josh said. “Lee Mei, I think you’re being a little paranoid, or superstitious. They’re just…” Suddenly the eyes on all of the clay guardians lit up orange, and they all stepped off of their stands in unison and took out their swords. “… statues.” Josh finished. They all surrounded the two and aimed their swords.
“Wǒmen yàosǐ!” Lee Mei exclaimed. Josh turned and punched one, crumbling it to pieces.
“Run!” He shouted, grabbing her arm and running away, as they were adamantly pursued.
* * *
In the year 2099, James came through the time portal with Spider-Man 2099 still bound. They were back in Walker Sloan’s time research lab, which was still damaged from the battle that had ensued. Broken Lyla’s laid strewn about everywhere, scorch marks were on the walls, webs hung from the ceiling.
“You’re making a mistake Collins.” He said.
“Shut up and keep moving.” James said, grabbing his shoulder and pulling him along. Suddenly they both heard a light groan. They looked over to see Charlie propped up against the wall in the corner of the room.
“Charlie!” Spider-Man 2099 exclaimed. He aggressively shook free of James and ran over to Charlie, kneeling next to him. “Charlie, hey, talk to me buddy.” Charlie slowly opened his eyes.
“Miguel? Is that you?” He asked, his voice hoarse and raspy.
“Yeah pal, it’s me.” Spider-Man 2099 replied. He looked to see a trail of dried blood on the floor leading from a puddle of it to Charlie. “What happened to you after I left?”
“You know I got stabbed by that jerk.” Charlie said, nodding over to Venture’s body, right where Spider-Man 2099 had killed him. “After that I stopped Sloan from shooting you, you’re welcome by the way, and you were gone. Sloan got me off of him and left me for dead. I’ve been down here for weeks. Guess clones aren’t as easy to kill, huh?” Charlie violently coughed.
“Hey, take it easy.” Spider-Man 2099 said.
“I guess you didn’t change the future after all, huh?” Charlie asked. Spider-Man 2099 looked at the floor, sadly.
“No, I tried but… People were in my way.” He looked over at James, who looked away.
“Oh well…” Charlie coughed. “It was worth… a shot…” Charlie closed his eyes.
“Charlie?” Spider-Man 2099 asked. “Charlie? Hey, stay with me, okay?” Charlie didn’t respond. Spider-Man 2099 exhaled, stood up, and walked back of to James.
“This the future you’re fighting for?” He asked. James looked over at Charlie, sighed, then grabbed Spider-Man 2099’s arm.
“Just keep moving.” He said solemnly.
“Yeah, sure.” Spider-Man 2099 angrily replied as the two proceeded to the elevator. They went up to the top floor and exited. Everyone stared in astonishment as James walked down the hall to Walker Sloan’s office. Inside, Sloan was looking through his computer when a holographic man popped up on his desk.
“You have a visitor sir.” He said.
“I don’t have time for this Joseph. Tell them I’m busy.”
“He insists it’s urgent.”
“Oh for crying out loud… fine! I don’t see what couldn’t wait ten minutes.” The doors opened to reveal James holding Spider-Man 2099. Sloan jumped up so quickly he bumped his desk and everything fell off of it. “Is… it that…”
“I got him.” James said.
“My boy! This is incredible! I always knew you were the right man for the job! Guards!” Sloan called as two men rushed into the room. James handed Spider-Man 2099 off to them. Sloan walked up and tore off his mask. Miguel stared angrily at Sloan. “Tsk, tsk Miguel, how sad that after all of that senseless running, after all the people who died protecting you, you end up back in my hands.” Miguel spit in his face. Sloan inhaled deeply and wiped it off.
“What do you want us to do with him sir?” A guard asked.
“Take him to the dissection lab.” Sloan replied. James looked up quickly. “By the time I’m done, you’ll be in so many pieces putting you back together will be like solving a holo-puzzle.” He looked to see everyone looking at him. “You know? One of the ones with 1000 pieces?”
“Oh, uh, haha, good one sir.” The other guard replied.
“Oh just shut up and get him out of here.” The guards saluted and dragged Miguel off.
“Hope the bounty’s worth it.” Miguel said as they dragged him past James and out of the room.
“Ah yes! The bounty!” Sloan replied, pulling up a screen on his computer. “I’ll wire the credits immediately! You know what, since I’m in such a good mood, I’ll triple it! What is your account number?”
“Keep the bounty.” James said.
“But my boy, you’re man of the hour! I always knew it’d be you too. I mean, Venture, psh, he had no finesse. No refinement. But you, oh, Mr. Collins, I knew you had the stuff! You’re a killer!”
“I’m not…” James began but Sloan clapped him on the back.
“A drink! How about some wine? I’ve got a bottle of 2012 scotch I’ve been dying to crack into!”
“Look, you’ve got him. That’s all that matters.” James replied. “One more dangerous man in a mask off the streets.”
“Yes, yes, of course.” Sloan said, popping the cork on his wine and holding it into the air. “Long live Alchamax!” James sadly sighed and left the room as Sloan drank his wine from the bottle.
* * *
Darkstream shot a blast of lightning at Rice, and he blocked it, spinning his sword. She shot again and he blocked again.
“Well, well, you’re not as easy to deal with as I thought.” Darkstream said, smiling.
“Keep it up, you’ll find out I’m full of surprises.” Rice replied.
“Perhaps, but I think it’d be more fun to watch you die!” Darkstream began to rapidly fire blasts of red lighting at Rice. Rice blocked two, tumbled, then blocked two more. He ran at Darkstream and began to attack with his swords. She formed two swords out of lightning and blocked his assault. Rice struck quickly and furiously, Darkstream on the defensive. She then caught one of his swords and broke it half. Rice looked at it, threw it aside, and grabbed his second sword with both hands.
“You truly believe you can stop me?” Darkstream asked.
“I guess we’ll find out.” Rice replied. He began to hack at her with his last sword, as she blocked his attack. He alternated between head and body blows, but she was too fast. She then caught that sword and turned it to stone. Rice dropped it and took out collapsible bow staff, extending it to its full length.
“You don’t learn, do you?” She asked.
“My girlfriend always said I was stubborn.” He replied, spinning the staff. Darkstream shot a stream of lightning at him and Rice began to run, keeping ahead of it. He circled the room then cut towards Darkstream, whacking her across the face.
“Worm!” She screamed, shooting a dark blast at him. He did a back handspring and it hit a monitor, turning it to stone.
“Better avoid that…” He said to himself. In the Inner Shell, Acacia rushed in and fell against the wall, catching her breath.
“Okay,” She said to herself. “Eileen just went completely banana balls, think for a minute… I’ll call Fury for help!” She rushed over to the main terminal to find it smashed. “What the… Who the shell did this! Ugh! Jocasta, help me out!”
“I am sorry; I only take orders from James.” Jocasta replied.
“Still? Oh man, I need a miracle!” Suddenly the elevator dinged. She turned to see Tristan Trevino and Justin Milan step out.
“Hey, you guys! You’re Agent Rice’s team, right?”
“Yeah,” Milan replied. “Where is he?”
“Down the tracks, to the left! Help him out, but don’t hurt my friend!” Trevino and Milan nodded and rushed off to the fight.
* * *
Josh slid around the corner with Lee Mei and continued to run, followed by dozens of clay guardians.
“This is bad! This is really bad!” He shouted. He looked towards the end of the hallway to see a giant double door. “We gotta get there!” He shouted.
“Ah!” Lee Mei cried as he grabbed her arm and pulled her. They were almost there when a group of clay guardians dropped from the ceiling in front of them.
“Oh no…” Josh said. He turned to see that he and Lee Mei were surrounded. “Well… it was nice knowing you Lee Mei.” Josh closed his eyes. “Just finish it you stupid pieces of pottery!”
“Hiya!” Lee Mei shouted, kicking one of the guardians and shattering it to pieces. Josh opened his eyes.
“Lee Mei?” He asked.
“Ya!” She screamed, punching two of them and shattering them. One sliced at her, but she caught its sword and elbowed it in the face. She spun around and kicked one of them into five more, shattering them all. She cut through a horde of them with the sword, then kicked one into the wall and caught its sword. She spun with both swords and beheaded a group of them surrounding her. She then twisted the swords and back-stabbed two more, and they shattered. Josh looked around to see himself standing in the middle of hundreds of tiny clay pieces.
“Wow… Hey, there isn’t a Mr. Lee Mei back home, is there?” Josh asked as Lee Mei threw the swords down.
“Ràng wǒmen qù” She said, grabbing his hand and walking.
“Right, sure…” Josh said, looking back at the shattered clay guardians. They approached the giant door. Josh took a deep breath. “Okay, no turning back.” He looked at Lee Mei.
“Wǒ yǐjīng zhǔnbèi hǎole. Dǎkāi tā.” She replied. Josh grabbed the handles and pushed the doors open.
* * *
In 2099, Miguel was strapped to a dissection table. He pulled against the restraints, but couldn’t get free.
“Well this is shocking great.” He said. Suddenly the door opened, and three scientists walked in. Miguel looked as they each picked up a sharp object.
“Don’t suppose I can get a quick bathroom break?” Miguel asked.
“Ohh, I’ve waited a long time for this.” The head scientist smiled, holding up a rusty saw. “What would you rather have cut off first? Your legs, or your head?”
“Is none of the above an option?”
“Head then, so I can shut that mouth of yours!” He raised the saw. Miguel closed his eyes.
“I’m sorry Dana.” He whispered. Just then the door was kicked down.
“What?” The scientist asked, turning as James charged into the room and shot him. “Ah!” He shouted, falling into the computer terminal. The other two rushed at him, but James shot them both, and they fell to the ground.
“Change of heart Collins? Well, better late than never,” Miguel said as James walked across the room. Miguel looked to see the scientists lying dead on the ground. “You killed them…”
“Doesn’t matter.” James said, tapping a button and opening the restraints. “They’ll come back to life once we go back in time.” Miguel sat up, rubbing his wrist.
“You mean…” James nodded and held out his hand.
“Come on.” James said. “Let’s change the future.” Miguel grabbed his arm and James pulled him up. “Now, Sloan’s gonna have an army between us and that portal, so I’m gonna have to break my no killing decree for just a bit longer.”
“You think in your line of work you’d have done it a long time ago.” Miguel replied, as they approached the door.
“Yeah, well, I took an oath not to kill after my parents were murdered in front my face… by a man in a mask.”
“Oh…” Miguel said. “More than a bounty.” James nodded.
“You’re sure they’ll come back?”
“Like nothing ever happened.” Miguel reassured. James loaded his blaster.
“Then let’s see just how good of a sharpshooter I really am.” He opened the door, and the two charged guns ablaze into an army of Public Eye Patrol.
* * *
Rice was hopping around the room as Darkstream relentlessly attacked him with lightning blasts. She smiled.
“You’re wearing.” She observed.
“Doesn’t matter.” Rice said, panting. “Only thing that matters is keeping the world safe from you, and keeping you safe from yourself.”
“A fool’s task!” She shot a lightning blast and hit Rice. He slammed against the wall, and she hovered up to him. “And like all fools, you shall die a fool’s death.” Suddenly she was shot in the shoulder. “Ah!” She screamed, as Milan entered the room and continued to lay down cover fire. Trevino rushed in and helped Rice up as the three backed out of the room.
“Why do you always get us into these situations?” Trevino asked, as they rushed down the hall. Darkstream blew the door off and began to fly after them angrily.
“I don’t always get us into situations like this!” Rice defended.
“Germany.” Milan said.
“Kuwait.” Trevino added.
“That was an accident!”
“Rio.” Milan replied.
“We agreed never to speak of that!” Suddenly red fire rose up in front of them, causing them to slide to a halt. They turned to see Darkstream fly up to them, her hair blowing, her body flaming, and her eyes glowing red.
“We’re dead.” Milan said.
* * *
Josh and Lee Mei walked into the large room. Josh looked around to see Chinese décor everywhere; vases, rugs, incense, curtains, statues. In the center, against the back wall, was a throne. In it sat a man in a long green robe, with black hair down to his shoulders, a mustache that went down both sides of his face, and a pointed beard down to his chest. He stroked his beard with his long, sharp nails.
“The Mandarin.” Josh said. Lee Mei cowered behind Josh as the Mandarin stood up.
“You impress me, Mr. Westbrook.” He said. “Not only did you survive the plane crash, but you’ve found your way to my compound.”
“You’re gonna answer for all those people you killed Mandarin.” Josh growled.
“Yes, of course.” The Mandarin walked over to a small box on top of a cabinet and opened it to reveal ten rings, each with a different Chinese symbol carved into it. “The Ten Makluan Rings of Power.” He said, slowly putting the rings on. “Each with a different ability. Some believe they come from an alien race, who have long since been destroyed. Others say they were created by the spirits, and bestowed upon the human race, to those deemed worthy of the title The Mandarin.”
“I don’t care about your stupid magic rings.” Josh said. “You’re going down before you hurt anyone else!”
“You are a fool!” Mandarin shouted. “Not only in the fact that you should have seen this coming and failed to adequately prepare, but also because you believe you stand even the slightest of chances against The Mandarin.” All of his rings began to glow. “Ten rings, one thousand ways to die!” Josh ran forward, but Mandarin held up his hand and a white ring began to glow. Josh was stopped short and launched into the wall.
“Josh!” Lee Mei shouted, rushing to his aid. Mandarin held out his hand, as the white ring lit up again, and she was swept off her feet and into a vase. “Ah!” She screamed.
“Your meddling will not be tolerated.” He said, as another one of his rings began glow red.
“No Mandarin, don’t!” Josh pleaded. “She’s pregnant!”
“All the better.” Mandarin replied. “I will spare this child the cruelty of being born into a world of sin and corruption. Consider this a mercy killing.” Lee Mei closed her eyes and cowered in fear. But just as Mandarin shot a blast of fire, Josh tackled him to the ground, sending the blast into the wall.
“Lee Mei, run!” Josh shouted. One of Mandarin’s rings lit up green and he punched Josh. “Aaaahhhhh!” Josh screamed as he crashed through a suit of armor. He sat up, coughing, as Mandarin began to walk towards him. Josh looked down and noticed a samurai sword from the armor. He picked it up and began to slash at The Mandarin. One of Mandarin’s rings lit up yellow and he materialized a shield. Josh desperately attacked, but a ring on Mandarin’s other hand began to glow orange and he blasted Josh with a ray of energy.
“Gah!” Josh screamed as he broke through a rice paper wall. Mandarin walked through the hole he made.
“How sad that you still attempt to resist.” He raised his arms and a red and blue ring began to glow. Josh got up and ran as Mandarin trailed him with a stream of fire and ice.
* * *
“Well, now or never guys!” Rice called.
“Right!” Trevino and Milan agreed simultaneously. Rice jumped up and punched Darkstream.
“Why you…” She began but was cut short as Trevino grabbed her in chokehold. “Get off!!!” She shouted, swinging wildly this way and that.
“Line up a shot!” Trevino shouted to Milan. Milan snorted.
“Line up, ha, funny.” He shot three times and nailed Darkstream in the chest.
“Ahh!” She screamed, as her wounds began to heal.
“Hey, tactician!” Rice called to Trevino. “How about some weak points!” Darkstream grabbed Trevino and threw him into the wall. He shook his head and stood up.
“Why do you think I got so close?” He asked, smiling. “Ankles and hips!” Rice took out his bow staff and charged forward.
“Lay her out for me Milan!” He called. Milan shot two bullets at the wall, which ricocheted and hit Darkstream in both of her ankles.
“Gah!” She screamed in pain as she fell to the ground. Rice ran by and slammed his staff into her right hip. “Rah!” She shouted as Rice vaulted over her and slammed her left hip. “Oof!” She groaned. Rice then spun and swung his staff up, whamming her in the chin and knocking her into the wall.
“Well, that wasn’t so hard.” Milan said.
“DIE!” Darkstream suddenly shouted, holding out her hand.
“Whoa!” All three of them screamed as they were lifted into the air. Suddenly, from the feet up, they slowly began to be covered in stone.
“I… I can’t escape!” Rice grunted.
“I guess this is it guys.” Milan said, the stone moving up his waist.
“After everything we’ve been through…” Trevino said sadly. “Well, it was blast guys. Can’t say I’d have done anything differently.”
“I’m gonna cry,” Milan said, choking back tears. “I love you guys man!”
“… For some reason I feel an overwhelming sense of de ja vu.” Rice said. Trevino and Milan groaned.
“Leave it to Kyle to ruin our perfectly heroic death moment.” Milan said.
“Yep.” Trevino agreed. The stone began to crawl up their necks. Darkstream smiled.
“You will burn, the first deaths of many in my new order! In the age of Darkstream!” Suddenly the door was blasted down. Darkstream turned quickly to see Acacia with the Cosmic Gauntlet.
“Hey Darkstream!” she shouted.
“Ggggrrrrraaaahhhhh!” Darkstream roared.
“Give me my friend back you mother shocker!” The gauntlet began to glow, then blew up in Acacia’s face. “Ah!” She screamed. She looked down at the steaming gauntlet. “Well, that could have gone better. Oh well, now guys!” Acacia ducked down as James flew into the room on his jet pack and tackled Darkstream to the ground.
“You dare to touch me fool!” She growled.
“No, but he does!” James replied as Spider-Man 2099 leapt into the room.
“Hhhhaaaaaaa!!!!” He cried as he stabbed Darkstream in both sides of the neck with two injectors.
“Ungh…” Darkstream moaned as she grasped her neck and stumbled back. Rice, Trevino and Milan all fell to the ground, the stone slowly dissipating. James, Spider-Man 2099, and Acacia all approached cautiously as Darkstream fell to her knees. “Impossible…” She said, as her eyes returned to green and blue. And in seconds, she fell, unconscious.
“She’s Eileen again.” Spider-Man 2099 said. “Darkstream is gone. Forever.”
* * *
Josh ran for dear life as The Mandarin continued to fire an array of powers at him. Josh suddenly tripped and hit the ground and Mandarin fired a blast of purple lightning from a ring. Thinking fast, Josh flipped up a mirror and deflected the blast, blowing Mandarin back.
“Oh!” He shouted and he hit the wall. He stood up. “You’ve pulled your last trick.” The white ring began to glow and Josh was pulled toward Mandarin. Mandarin choked Josh, whose feet were off the ground.
“Ack… urk…” Josh struggled, grabbing at The Mandarin’s arms, but he only tightened his grip.
“Mister Westbrook.” Mandarin said, as a black ring began to glow, and Josh’s skin began to turn pale. “Ready for…. A lesson?” Josh’s veins began to show and his eyes reddened.
“Gnuh…” He gasped. He looked at Lee Mei, who watched on in horror. His eyes rolled to the back of his head. Mandarin smiled. Suddenly the Signal began to beep.
“What?” Mandarin asked. Josh managed a smile.
“It’s… about… time…” He choked. Just then the backpack containing his Joshinator armor broke through the window and slammed into Mandarin.
“Ah!” He shouted as he flew back, dropping Josh. Josh gasped for breath as the armor circled the room.
“Come to daddy.” He said. He jumped up and it attached to his back. He spun in the air as the armor covered his body, then landed, slamming his fist into the ground. The visor clasped over his face and his HUD popped up.
“Good morning Jocasta.” Josh said, readying a fighting stance as the Mandarin got up.
“I am sorry; I only take orders from James.” Jocasta replied.
“What the shell? Ugh, I’ll deal with Collins later. But now…” He began to run at the Mandarin.
“Fool…” He said, his rings lighting up. “This makes no difference!” Josh punched Mandarin twice, then went for a kick, but Mandarin blasted his leg with orange energy.
“Ah!” Josh exclaimed. He swung but Mandarin caught his arm and flipped him. Before he hit the ground, Josh activated the thrusters and launched him and Mandarin into the wall. A brown ring began to glow and vines grew from the ground and wrapped themselves around Josh.
“Crap!” He shouted, struggling to get free. Mandarin’s purple ring lit up and he grasped Josh armor, electrocuting it. “Agh! Electric discharge, now!”
“I am sorry,” Jocasta replied. “I only take orders from…”
“Oh for the love of!” Josh slammed his wrist and a shockwave emitted from his armor, cancelling out Mandarin’s lightning. Josh popped a blade out of his wrist and flew at Mandarin. Using his yellow ring, Mandarin materialized a blade and cut Josh’s in half. Josh spun and kicked at Mandarin, but a pink ring lit up and he began to levitate in the air. He held out his hand and the brown ring lit up, tearing up the ground around Josh’s feet. Josh lunged into the air and swung but Mandarin froze him with the blue ring. His servos locked up and he crashed into the ground.
“Agh,” He said, tapping his wrist and opening the flaps on his suit, breaking the ice. Mandarin’s green ring lit up and dropped from the air and slammed his fist into the ground, blowing Josh back. Josh’s armor was heavily damaged and sparking. “Okay, last chance!” He said. He hit his thrusters and flew towards the Mandarin, his fist lighting up. “AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” He screamed.
“Enough.” Mandarin stated. Just as he was about to connect the white ring lit up, and Mandarin balled up his fist and pulled, telekinetically ripping the arm off of Josh’s armor.
“Crap!” Josh shouted as he tumbled past the Mandarin and into the throne. He was standing when Mandarin began ripping the armor off with the white ring, one piece at a time.
“You will suffer for your insolence. Today, is last day you will interfere in my affairs!”
“I’ve done nothing to you!” Josh shouted.
“Silence!” Mandarin yelled, electrocuting Josh with the purple ring. “Your investigation into A.I.M cost me my super soldier formula. My dream of an army to conquer this planet, ripped from me in an instant. And for that, you will pay dearly.”
“A.I.M? Super soldier?” Josh coughed. Then he stopped. “The Extremis 3.0… You’re who M.O.D.O.K answers to… You’re the one Maya was working for…”
“When Ms. Hansen told me your friend was a mutant, my joy was uncontrollable. But now that the serum is gone, I’ll have to rip it from her blood myself!”
“You aren’t touching her!” Josh stood up and went for the punch when Mandarin caught his fist and the black ring lit up. “Ungh…” Josh groaned, as his skin began to pale.
“Mr. Westbrook, I’m going to offer you a choice.” Mandarin threw Josh across the room and he slid next to Lee Mei.
“Josh…” She said, reaching out for him. Mandarin suddenly stepped on her hand, breaking it. “Aaaaahhhhhh!” She screamed.
“No!” Josh cried. Mandarin materialized a sword with the yellow ring.
“Do you want an empty life?” He raised the sword. “Or a meaningful death?” Josh looked at Lee Mei, then looked up at Mandarin. He saw there was no way out. He looked at the ground and closed his eyes. Mandarin brought the sword down, but just as it was about to hit Josh, the window crashed open behind him. “Who?”
“Mandarin!” Josh looked up to see Iron Man hovering just above them. “I’m glad you started using your rings again, I was able to track the Makluan energy signature.”
“No! I will not be defeated!” He shouted.
“Yes you will.” Iron Man charged the Unibeam, and blasted Mandarin across the room.
“AH!” He yelled as he crashed into the wall. Iron Man landed in front of Josh.
“You okay kid?” He asked.
“I’m fine.” Josh replied. “But I… look out!” Suddenly Iron Man was hit with a fireball. He turned to see Mandarin raising his arms, all ten of his rings glowing.
“NO ONE ESCAPES THE HANDS OF THE MANDARIN!!!!!!” He yelled.
“Josh, get down!” Iron Man ordered. Josh got on top of Lee Mei as Iron flew across the room and grabbed Mandarin’s hands into his. As he did, his Repulsors began to charge.
“You fool!” The Mandarin said. “You’ll overload the rings!”
“That’s the idea!” Iron Man said. And then, there was an enormous explosion.
“NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” The Mandarin screamed, as the palace blew open from the impact. Josh covered Lee Mei as debris fell around them. He looked up slowly to see Mandarin lying there, with none of his rings. Iron Man stood up and shook his head.
“Well that was a blast.” He said, walking towards them.
“Seriously Stark, when are you gonna give us your Repulsor tech?” Josh asked.
“We’ll just take it you know.”
“Not if you don’t want another AvE on your hands you won’t.”
“You call it that too?”
“Well, what else would you call it?”
“Exactly!” Josh knelt next to Lee Mei.
“Are you okay?” He asked. She tried to move but then suddenly grabbed her leg with her good hand.
“Wǒ de tuǐ…” She said.
“She needs medical attention.” Josh said, picking her up and handing off to Iron Man.
“She’ll get it.”
“What about him?” Josh asked, nodding towards Mandarin.
“He won’t be waking up for a while. S.H.I.E.L.D is already on their way to take him to the Vault.”
“You may want to tell them a plane crashed somewhere in the jungle.”
“The victims have already been ID’d and Stark Industries is compensating their families.” Josh sighed.
“This is all my fault. Mandarin warned me, but I didn’t listen. He was right. I should have seen this coming.”
“It’s the Mandarin. You never see him coming. When you’re ready there’s a Stark Industries plane on the landing pad that’ll take you anywhere you need to go.” Iron Man turned to take off.
“Josh!” Lee Mei called. He looked up.
“What is it Lee Mei?”
“Josh.” She said, touching her stomach. “Yīng'ér. Josh.”
“I think she just named her baby after you.” Iron Man said. Josh smiled.
“Wow, uh thanks! Um…” He scanned the ground. “Ah!” He picked up the chest plate to his armor. “Lee Mei!”
“Well that’s endearing.” Iron Man said sarcastically.
“I mean when I fix it!” Josh defended. He tapped the chest plate. “Lee Mei.” Lee Mei smiled, and Iron Man flew off. Josh sighed and turned when he caught something out of the corner of his eye. He bent down and moved some rubble to see Mandarin’s green ring lying there. He picked it up, dusted it off, and examined it. “Interesting…” He said. Josh pocketed the ring and made his way to the plane.
See you Thursday!
Alright guys, tune in Thursday, Dec. 17, for the Q&A for the Hands of the Mandarin Season 3 Finale! Then, tune in Friday, Dec. 18 (If you couldn't get a ticket to Star Wars) and catch the end of the season until 2016, in E.G.G Episode 60.1: Starting Over!