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The Headless Horseman v.s M.O.D.O.K -or- Decapitation Immunity! Sleepy Hollow - New York A moaning wind tickled the branches of the dead tree, causing Â it's skeletal extremities to rap against one another like bones. This was a forbidden place - a shunned place - and only sparse patches of sickly yellow grass sprouted from the cursed patch of earth. They too bent to the mournful wind, which, angrier now, trumpeted in torment quickening the bone-rattling rhythm on the tree. A lonely crow cawed in defiance of the violent gusts, beating its wings to stay perched on the tree's highest branch. Then all noises stopped. No wind, no rattling; not even the crow stirred. Not so much as an insect buzzed in the early October evening, and in a place where the nature sounds sounded so unnatural, the silence foretold something new. Magnetic hovercoils gradually powered down and hydraulic landing gear extended cushioning the AIM ship's landing. For a brief moment, the metal and polymer behemoth sat, almost breathing and alive as the final landing sequences were executed. Then a deployment ramp descended and a dozen newly-armed AIM drones quickly and efficiently secured the area. His arms tucked arrogantly behind his back, the Scientist Supreme strode boldly onto the site, followed by another half dozen drones carrying equipment. "Hastily you imbeciles. The window to extract the Necroessence is very narrow! Begin assembling the Mystical Siphoning Device immediately!" he commanded and obediently, the assembly team sprang into motion. Â Prefabricated pieces snapped into others and in moments the device was beginning to take shape. A holoprojector hovered before the scrutinizing gaze of Supreme and the face of AIM's leader, the technological miscreant M.O.D.O.K, appeared. "Have. You. Commenced. Extracting. The. Antienergy. Element." "Momentarily Lord M.O.D.O.K. Soon we'll have a suitable sample for study." "The. Advanced. Idea. Mechanics. Must. Harness. This. Power. It. Will. Allow. AIM. To. Control. Sub-terrestrial. Entities. And. Use. Them. For. Our. Purposes." "Once the Siphoning Device is activated it should not take long, my lord. We will deliver it to the waterfront facility in Manhattan as planned when we've concluded." even as Supreme finished speaking, the protective casing was fastened, shelling the machine's delicate interior. "See. That. You. Do. The. Advanced. Idea. Mechanics. Will. Control. The. Supernatural." and without another directive, M.O.D.O.K's hologram vanished and the projector literally buzzed off. From the tree above, a mocking "CAW" echoed over those assembled and the lonely crow flapped away. The AIM drones paused and now the wind carried with it a chill that collectively seeped through their temperature regulated bio suits, through flesh, and settled uncomfortably into the bone. The normally steady hands of the guard detail shook involuntarily on their protonic projectile rifles. "Superstitious fools." spat the Scientist. "Activate the Mystic Siphoning Device!" The machine throbbed and hummed as it went through the final series of calibration protocols and then glowed brightly as a line of white light shot from the lens affixed to the device's front. The line of light struck the face of the dead tree and began tracing pentagonal patterns across the grayish bark. And somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbled... The white line of light greyed as a shadowy tendril was coaxed from the tree. Like a vine, it clung to the siphoning beam and snaked its trail into the waiting capacitor. Now thunder boomed in the full sky and lightning began to strike mere feet away from the operation site. The AIM drones shuffled nervously, but Supreme, bolstered by the success of his experimental device, remained resolute despite the omens. "Maximum power! Do not relent until the Necroessence Capacitor is full!" dutifully, the AIM drone in charge of operating the Siphoning Device pushed the lever to full power. From the base of the tree - no! From the very tree itself leapt a steed, black as night and snorting sulfuric gusts of breath. Its whinny filled the AIM drones with fears seemingly as solid and tangible as the weapons they hopelessly tried to bring forth. It stamped the ground angrily, rearing and spitting. The AIM troops shrunk away from the devilish horse and encircled the device defensively. This was no horse of nature born... But if the nightmare could inspire fear in the bravest among them, the rider that sat astride it was the embodiment of dread itself. Illuminated by a red full moon and the periodic flash of lightning was a warrior garbed in a colonial military uniform. A saber, rested sheathed on it's hip, and as the dread beast reared up, backlit by the full moon, it held a wickedly bladed sickle high in the air. Laughter, baleful, condescending, evil laughter resounded around the extraction team. It had come from the rider though he had no mouth, and without eyes it took measure of those that had defiled its domain. This warrior had neither eyes, nor mouth, nor any facial features at all. For this sickle-swinging avatar of terror had no head. And for the AIM drone that stood closest to the horseman , it was the last realization he had ever made. Horse and horseman charged the drones, defeating whatever vestiges of bravery remained and again the sickle came high. SCHINK! The decapitated head of the unlucky AIM minion fell at Supreme's feet even as he called for the attack. Blindly loyal, one actually managed to fire at the Horseman. Though he missed badly, his comrades mustered their own discipline and discharged proton bolts at the dread rider. The Horseman felt each hit, but so close to his nexus of power, the same shadowy element that fled the tree and into their machine sewed the Horseman's wounds shut. More devastating was his retaliation. Again and again and again and again his weapons flashed, his saber having joined his sickle's death song, lobbing heads into the air that no magic could reattach as effectively. As the battle grew worse with three AIM guards getting decapitated in rapid succession, the Siphoning Device "dinged" and the Necroessence Capacitor presented itself to Supreme, fully charged and pulsing with antienergy. Supreme snatched the capacitor and retreated to the ship. The Horseman dispatched another drone and angled it's beast in line with the Scientist. "Take off you simpletons! Take off!" barked Supreme. The Horseman pumped his arm and let fly. The ramp closed shut Â a split second before the sickle reached its target, embedding itself in the AIM ship's hull and poking out the other side of the ramp an inch from Supreme's face. The vessel floated straight up on its magnetic coils, quickly putting distance between itself and the undead rider waiting below. Supreme stood there staring at weapon jutting out in front of him a while before he realized the pilots were requesting his orders. "Return to Lab Delta immediately.Inform Lord M.O.D.O.K that we have his prize." "Right awAy Scientist Supreme!" the navigator nodded as the orders were received and rotated south. Then the vessel sped away from the legendary sinkhole of evil back to the clutches of M.O.D.O.K. Jostled the the sudden speed, the Horseman's sickle shook loose and fell back to the unhallowed grove. A wounded AIM drone attempted to crawl away, convincing himself beyond hope that the Horseman had forgotten him. The sickle landed a few feet ahead of the drone, and his hopes were nearly abandoned as a pair of shiny leather boots walked past him. Though he dare not look to confirm, he knew the angry horse waited behind. There was no escape. The Horseman did not notice the wounded guard. At dirst. A new fury filled it, aimed at the interlopers that had disturbed him. More than that, they had stolen a piece of his domain, the key to a darker world where nightmares became reality; to a power that had never been meant for incompetent mortal hands. He walked over the bleeding guard and reclaimed his weapon. Then with one deft movement silenced the final drone, pinning him to the fallow ground with his razor edged sword. He mounted his steed and reared it a final time, sending an unearthly wail across the bloody battlefield. He charged south, speeding as fast as the AIM vessel had. To those not attuned to the ephemeral world that lay slightly out of sync with what they ignorantly labelled the 'real', the Horseman felt like an abnormally cold October breeze that brought long forgotten nightmares bubbling up from the subconscious. He rode as a wraith, through forests and field and across valleys and bridges. The wild landscape became rural, then urban, and in the span and a few heartbeats, the immense warhorse carried its rider through the heart of New York City. The unfamiliar landscape did not captivate the vengeful rider, as it had millions before. He could sense the Necroessence Capacitor - the piece of his realm - was near. Steering his monstrous mount in its direction, the revenant soon found himself looking on what appeared to be an unremarkable building; a warehouse actually, larger than any five barns in Sleepy Hollow. Nothing stirred in the neighborhood, and the place showed no signs of activity. But the stolen power was there and the Horseman would have it back. Death awaited any that stood in his way. The Horseman drew his sickle and whipped his steed and charged the warehouse. The Necroessence Capcitor that stored the stolen antienergy snapped into place. Overseeing the preparations, M.O.D.O.K let a wide, wicked grin grow on his face (which AIM's leader mostly was!). "Once. We've. Adapted. The. Harmonic. Resonator. To. The. Antienergy. It. Will. Emit. A. Frequency. That. Will. Bend. Any. Undead. Creature. To. AIM's. Control. My. Control." "Great M.O.D.O.K," interrupted Supreme, "the sensors are picking up an intruder at the northern perimeter. It's... it's THE HORSEMAN!" "Defend. The. Lab. At. All. Costs. I. Am. M.O.D.O.K! I. Am. Designed. Only. For. Killing." "But my lord, how do we kill that which is already dead?" How indeed? The Headless Horseman will have 47 minutes to stop M.O.D.O.K. or wind up serving him. Between them and against the Horseman are AIM, Scientist Supreme, and whatever death traps M.O.D.O.K can multitask while trying to get his device working. Lab Delta is the size of a warehouse with labs in the sub-levels, so it has maybe at most 100 AIM Drones. The Headless Horseman wins if: â€¢ He reaches and kills M.O.D.O.K in time. â€¢ He stops M.O.D.O.K's plan by stealing back the purloined Necroessence. â€¢ He causes critical damage to Lab Delta preventing M.O.D.O.K from harnessing Antinergy power. M.O.D.O.K wins if: â€¢ He or AIM delay the Horseman long enough for him to activate the Resonator, making the Horseman his slave. â€¢ They can devise and reasonably execute some way to kill a legendary-caliber undead bounty-hunter. Side notes; â€¢ Because AIM is defending, they may have their choice of either two dozen Â ACME robot security drones or one advanced Security bot. â€¢ Because The Horseman is besieging the lab he gets the Dramatic Entrance and the Walken advantage in exchange. â€¢ And naturally the Horseman's mount and AIM personnel do not have decapitation immunity.