This story is based in the 5 Earths Project continuity, and is built on what was written before by myself, Brad Cobb, and Martin Maenza. For those unfamiliar with the setting, it assumes that there were 5 earths left after the great Crisis on Infinite earths. Earth 4 is a combination of Charlton and MLJ/Red Circle characters.
O'KENT'S LABORS: Part 1
The burly man stopped and listened into the oncoming night. He knew he was not going to catch up his work this night. Scotland was going crazy, and he would have to put a stop to it.
"Blast, and be damned," he said as he threw down his rag on the boat he had been building.
He went into his office at the back of the shop and quickly changed into a clean black T-shirt, dungarees, and boots. He pulled on padded gauntlets last as he ran for the door of the shop.
In seconds he was running as fast as a bullet train on the country roads. This always happened when he was behind schedule on a project. He would decide to put in the time to catch up his work and someone threw open the gates of Hell and Faerie besides.
Well he would quickly put a stop to this, or his name wasn't Jock O'Kent.
Jock O'Kent ran down the road easily; the first thing he had to stop was the invasion he could hear forming up. He gritted his teeth when he saw the open portal among one of the many sites of standing stones in Scotland. He ran through, pausing to get his bearings on the other side.
The queen of these warrior women ordered her troops through the portal as the hero appeared on the scene. She ordered her fire-eyed soldiers to kill the otherworlder.
Jock plowed through the red-skinned, armored women with his amazing speed and strength. Bodies were sent flying as he bulleted to where Queen Evilja stood. She tried to cut him down with the flaming blade in her hand. He easily dodged her swings with his lightning reflexes.
"I don't have time for this," O'Kent said, as he yanked the Queen's glowing belt from her hips with one hand, while punching her with the other.
Queen Evilja was sent flying from the dais by the powerful blow.
O'Kent pulled on the belt until it separated into two. The portal began to close. The strongman threw one piece of the belt across the dimensional green sky. He threw the other piece through the closing magical door.
"Don't bother me again, ladies," he called out, as he leaped and sailed through the glowing door just before it shrank to nothingness.
Jock O'Kent paused outside of the standing stones. Evilja's amazons weren't much of a threat without her girdle.
A black dog barked at the hero. Glowing red eyes regarded the strongman with interest.
"I don't have time for Constant now," Jock said. "Tell him I'll meet him later."
The dog barked loudly.
"Tell him, or get punted," O'Kent growled.
The dog whimpered for a second. Then it ran off into the darkness.
"Constant and his stupid deals," O'Kent said to himself, shaking his head. "One day he'll trade his soul and won't be able to get it back."
Jock O'Kent raced into Aberdeen. Five men in winged silver armor flew through the air above. O'Kent saw the gaping hole in a bank down the street. He shook his head.
Why tonight? he asked himself. Well, they weren't keeping the money, Jock vowed.
The strongman jumped to the top of the nearest building. He lined up for his next move. He took a deep breath. Then he ran and launched himself through the air.
The lead hawkman looked over at the rocket that was approaching. His eyes widened as a foot shattered his armor, and sent him naked through a window.
O'Kent used the blow to launch himself at the next two men who were in line. He slammed their heads together, letting them drop to the street, and pushing off into a kick that embedded the fourth man into a concrete wall. The hero rebounded at the fifth man, who jerked himself out of the way at the last minute. The hawkman laughed until he saw the strongman hit the building behind him and rebound right back at him at double the speed. One hand the size of a Christmas ham ripped the flyer's jet pack away from his armor as O'Kent passed. The man screamed all the way until he impacted the street.
O'Kent brushed his hands clean as he set out after the next problem.
Jock O'Kent jumped down from the top of the building. He raced out of Aberdeen, his face grim. Someone had set loose Kern and his demon chariot to roam the roads and highways. What kind of dunderhead would do such a daft thing?
O'Kent saw the light first. Six flames danced in two rows of three. As he got closer, the flames became six horses pulling an obsidian chariot through the night. A figure in black armor and cloak urged the fiery creatures to greater speed with a lash made of red light.
"We meet again, O'Kent," growled Kern. "Why do you always get in my way?"
"I have no time for people with bad manners, and killers, demons, and such," said O'Kent. "You going back in your chest peacefully for once?"
"Surely you jest," said Kern. He turned his horses in the road, and whipped them forth at blinding speed. Laughter trailed behind him.
"Idiot," said O'Kent. He flashed after the demoniac charioteer at full speed.
Kern could not be allowed to roam free. He was too deadly to leave alone on the roads. Worse of all, O'Kent could not destroy the charioteer, only imprison him.
The two raced through the countryside at blinding speed. O'Kent saw the sign for Inverness and knew he had to do something quick. The strongman ripped a tree from the ground. He threw it with his full power behind it. Kern looked over his shoulder and saw the tree coming. His sparking eyes grew wider in surprise. The tree disintegrated in a cloud of splinters when it crashed into the monstrous spirit. The armored charioteer flew over the heads of his horses and dug a trench into the ground. They came to a halt beside the fallen figure.
O'Kent scooped up the chariot and hurled it into the air. Kern slowly got to his feet. The hero did not give him time to recover. He punched the charioteer in the snout. The villain was propelled towards the coast of Scotland. The strongman took off after his punching bag. He knew the horses would be right after the pair of them.
O'Kent snagged Kern out of the air before he could sail over a cliff into the ocean. He spun like a top with the charioteer in his hands. Then he released the demon in mid-spin. The killer sailed through the air into a cave in the side of a hill. The giant heard the crash of metal and winced slightly.
"Time to put this sassenach to bed," O'Kent said. He ran into the cave, as the demoniac horses came up the seashore after the dueling pair.
Jock O'Kent strode into the cave. His face was set as Kern climbed to his feet. He would have to do this just right.
"You won't get in my way this time," Kern screamed. His scarlet lash cracked across the cave at the giant.
As the whip descended, O'Kent stepped out of the way. He leaped forward, and kicked Kern in the head. The charioteer flipped end over end to land on his face. The Scot grabbed his foe by the scruff of his neck and held him off the ground.
The demoniac horses filled the cave's entrance with their flaming bodies.
"You want him," said O'Kent. "Go get him." He threw the fallen Kern into a stone box embedded in the floor. The horses dove into the small container after their owner, dragging the chariot behind them.
O'Kent heard chomping noises as he slammed the heavy stone lid back on the box. Bars of some silvery metal stuck up from the cave floor. They had been pulled in two. The massive muscles on his arms barely stood out as he tied the metal together like string.
"That's that," O'Kent said to himself. "Have a good meal," he said thumping the box before he left the cave.
He could swear he heard Kern scream, but he must have been hearing things. After all, there was nothing in there with him but his horses.
Jock O'Kent ran into Edinburgh. His senses told him that another old foe was trying to step to Earth. O'Kent hoped Constant wasn't in serious trouble, otherwise he was getting his just desserts on this night.
The Scot decided he would handle one problem at a time, and as he raced through the wind blown streets, he knew it was he was facing a big problem indeed.
A portal about twenty feet tall and half again as wide was standing open in the middle of the city. Torrential rain and winds scoured the asphalt and buildings.
A fifteen foot giant with seven heads stepped out of the glowing door. He rested a redwood of a club on one shoulder as he examined modern Scotland. None of the seven heads looked pleased to see the hero.
"We meet in battle again, O'Kent," said the blue humanoid, smiling with shark-like teeth.
"For someone with seven heads, you are hard of hearing, Hydracles," said O'Kent. "Didn't I tell you not to set foot in Scotland again?"
"Why should I listen to you, midget?" boomed Hydracles. "Am I not king of the Fomorians? I go where I will."
"We'll see about that," said O'Kent, gritting his teeth in anger as he strode forward.
The two combatants came together with a mighty crash that rattled windows up and down the street. Hydracles realized he should have called his followers to join him. Now it was too late.
The Fomorian Giant swung with his club. O'Kent smashed the weapon in two with one blow as he strode forward. He picked up a broken end and smashed his foe in the leg. Hydracles hopped up and down for a second as O'Kent swung the staff against the other leg. The seven headed humanoid went down to his knees.
O'Kent seized the head in front of the seven in a lock. He began to do short powerful punches to Hydracles's face with the other hand. With each punch, he said a word in a sentence.
"Don't--" WHACK! "--come--" WHACK! "--back--" WHACK! "--here--" WHACK! "--again--" WHACK! "--because--" WHACK! "--you--" WHACK! "--are--" WHACK! "--not--" WHACK! "--welcome--" WHACK! "--in--" WHACK! "--Scotland!" said O'Kent.
The hero released the dazed villain to drop on the ground. Then he executed a flying upper cut to Hydracles' chin. The blue giant somersaulted through the portal, crashing down on the other side. Two gauntleted hands seized the edge of the rip, and pulled it close with an effort.
The rain stopped as O'Kent waved smoke from his hands.
What next? he thought.
Jock O'Kent waved the smoke from his hands as he listened. The land seemed quiet for all of two seconds. Then the whooping of the Golden Stags alerted him to more trouble.
O'Kent sprang into action, traversing the country in a minute. His ears had told him true. The speedy Stags were looting Glasgow as fast as they could.
Jock shook his head at the mess as he sprang among the metallic meteors. His huge hands began swinging before the group could separate and make a break for it. In seconds, he had laid the whole bunch out cold.
"I hope MacGraw appreciates this," the giant said under his breath.
He doubted it. Heroing was just a job to O'Kent. He knew appreciation was something short lived for the likes of him by the people he helped. That was also the way he liked it. It made him an urban legend or fairy tale that was examined at some times and then put away by rational men.
After all, how many men could hurl a mountain into the ocean like he could?
Jock O'Kent ran across the water to the Isle of Man. He ran to the other end. Armored men were boiling up out of the sea. Their leader stood on a floating platform to one side of the forming sections of his army.
"This is just bloody marvelous," said the hero. "Everyone please return to the ocean," the hero said in a shout resembling thunder. "Please return to the water, or I will be forced to take action."
"Who are you to command me, and mine," said the general on the platform. "We come to seize this island, and nothing will stop us."
"We'll see about that," O'Kent said to himself.
He leaped and began using the army's horned helmets as stepping stones to get to the general. Every man he stepped on, he kicked down. They did not get back up. Then he stood on the platform.
"Last chance," O'Kent stated grimly.
"I will still your arrogant tongue," said the ocean master, pulling a black sword from a scabbard on his back. He raised his sword to deliver a head chopping.
One fist slammed the general in the face. He flew away from the giant Scot, skimming the ocean like a rock.
"Would anybody else want what he got?" asked Jock. "If so, come ahead."
Apparently they all wanted what their leader had gotten, because the whole army tried to get on the floating platform to get to the strongman. His huge hands became jackhammers as he proceeded to take the ocean army apart. Men in shattered armor flew in all directions as O'Kent did his work on his enemies.
One man had watched the whole thing from the landing spot. He was the only one of them still standing after the carnage was over.
Jock calmly jogged to shore, brushing his hands together.
"Go home and never return," he said to the lone survivor of his destructiveness. "I really don't want to see you again. Am I understood?"
"Yes, sir," said the lucky corporal. He fell to the ground as the giant vanished. His knees were weak with relief. He was glad not to be damaged like his fellow invaders had been. He threw off his armor and dove into the ocean.
"Where's Captain Atom when you need him?" O'Kent said to himself as he blasted into Aberdeen. This night reminded him too much of the temporal chaos that had happened during the red sky event. He told himself not to think like that because all the events of this night were isolated incidents.
He debated his notions as he skidded to a halt a few feet away from another old enemy.
James Newman had been a petty crook. He bought a device from some Yank calling himself Spectro, or something. The device had been capable of creating solid objects of light. O'Kent had destroyed the device in one of their donnybrooks, but Newman had been able to internalize some of the thing's energy. He could only create one thing now.
That one thing was a giant, black lion that Newman used as a steed and a murderous weapon to carry out his robbery attempts.
Newman regarded O'Kent with hatred. The lion roared, twitching its tail. O'Kent folded his arms across his chest.
"I'm just asking this once," said O'Kent. "Come along quietly, please."
Newman looked up and down the empty street. There was no one to use as a hostage. He decided that maybe this once he would let himself be arrested without the usual mayhem.
"It's okay, kitty," Newman said to his cat. "Back in your box."
The shadow feline slowly faded from sight at his command.
O'Kent relaxed slightly. This was the first time in a long while a malefactor had the brains to not try anything. The night could only get better from here on in, he thought to himself.
The hero knew he was joshing himself. No one else would surrender as quickly as Newman. He never seemed to run into crooked pacifists trying to rob others without violence. He always seemed to get hairy apes and murderous monsters and such.
O'Kent sighed quietly.
Jock O'Kent stepped out of the local police station. He listened intently. A ruckus was growing somewhere.
Then the black dog began to bark frantically at him from the bottom of the steps.
"You again?" O'Kent said. "What do you mean Constant can't hold out for much longer? He just better well do so until I check out that noise I hear."
The dog moaned slightly.
"This one last thing and I will tend to Constant," O'Kent promised, with the tip of my toe he added silently.
The dog's stubby, black tail wagged frantically with happiness. It jumped up in the air, tongue lolling to one side.
"I'm glad you are so ecstatic," said the strongman. "Be off with you now."
The black dog vanished into the night.
"Talking dogs," said O'Kent as he jogged away from the police station. "What kind of assistant will that imbecile take on next? A parakeet?"
O'Kent vanished down the street in the opposite direction.
O'Kent jogged into Banff. A fracas had indeed broken out. The hero shook his head slightly when he saw who it was. Two of his old enemies had decided to use downtown as a romper room.
Time to put a stop to this nonsense.
"Hey, you two," O'Kent shouted. "Time to go to gaol."
"Ha," said Auroch. "Look who's here."
"We are having a private discussion right now, Mr. O'Kent," said Tusker. His wild boar cowl stared hatefully at O'Kent. "Can you please come back later."
"Let me tell you about my night," said the strongman, as he strode forward. "I have had to deal with two invasions, gangs of robbers, a Fomorian, and Johnny Newman. I am not in the mood for any more troubles."
"My heart bleeds," said Auroch, snorting smoke from his bull's head, "just like this loser once I'm done with him."
"We will see who will be losing bodily fluid," said Tusker as he slammed the minotaur through a storefront.
In seconds, the two combatants were going at it again.
O'Kent sighed as he stepped up to the box. These two twits couldn't be allowed to wreck anything else.
Auroch swung a left at O'Kent as the giant stepped into reach. The hero let the punch slide over his shoulder as he grabbed Tusker with one hand by the neck. The man in the pig cowl brought a backhand around to smash the hero down. O'Kent blocked the blow with a foot, then brought the foot around in a kick at the minotaur. Auroch absorbed the kick with his blocking arm.
Auroch tried to turn his failed punch into a successful neck grab. O'Kent bent under the arm, dragging Tusker into a bow with his neck grip. The pig man brought both hands up and siezed O'Kent's massive arm. The strongman jackhammered him in the stomach with a series of short, powerful jabs to bring him to his knees.
Auroch went for a tackle. O'Kent leaped over the minotaur to deliver a sledgehammer blow to the top of Tusker's head. The pig man went out like a light. The hero let his antagonist fall to the street's asphalt as he turned to meet his remaining foe.
O'Kent and Auroch came together in the middle of the Banff street. Their hands swung in mighty blows that shocked the air. Neither landed a blow on each other until O'Kent landed a poke in the side of Auroch's neck. That made the minotaur pull back and to the side. It also left him off balance.
O'Kent stepped up and kicked him in the jewels. Auroch went down on his knees. The hero stepped back to get the range right. Then he brought both hands down on the top of the minotaur's head. The blow drove his enemy into the ground like a tent peg.
"That takes care of that," O'Kent said to himself. "Now to look into this thing with Constant."
It only took a minute for O'Kent to construct cages for Auroch and Tusker. He dropped them off with the local constable. Then he ran from Banff.
He wondered why he should help Constant. The man was walking trouble. Worse, he was English.
Still Edward Albertus Constant was a symptom, if not the cause, of the problems plaguing Scotland. The man might be able to provide a clue as to what was really involved.
The black dog joined O'Kent as he approached the place where Constant said to come. He paused to take in the area. The dog yapped at him but he took no notice.
Something was wrong.
Jock O'Kent quietly walked towards the abandoned hill fort. There were many such as these scattered over the landscape of Britain. The problem he had with it was he didn't remember seeing it before.
The dog trotted at his heels as he walked down to the tower. He could hear movement inside the stone wreck. It sounded too heavy to be a drunken Englishman.
O'Kent walked up to the wooden door of the place. He pushed it open so that it slammed against the wall. No need for quiet here.
He heard a growl behind him and knew he had misjudged the dog.
The hero started to turn. A giant fist put him into the floor. Before he could recover, he was yanked up by his shirt and thrown into a metal cage.
"Let me guess," said Constant from a matching cage next to O'Kent's. "Come quickly or your friend will be hurt. That sort of thing, eh?"
"Yes," said O'Kent. "I thought he was a new assistant. You go through so many of them."
"He is a new assistant, O'Kent," said a voice out of the shadows. "He is my assistant."
The black dog had become more humanoid with a transformation of extremities. The speaker stood beside his servant, dressed in a black cloak and holding three golden orbs at the end of a silver chain.
"Ladonicus, meet Jock O'Kent," said Constant. "O'Kent, meet Ladonicus."
"Now that that is over," said Ladonicus. "It is time to execute the rest of my plan."
"No small talk first?" asked the Scot as he pulled off his gauntlets.
"No," said his captor. "We'll talk later after my plan is concluded, just before I kill you."
"No and no," said O'Kent, grabbing the bars of his cage in his massive hands. "The plan is done and so are you."
"You'll never bend those, O'Kent," said Ladonicus. He began to swing his chain in a circle over his head. "And soon you won't have the strength to try."
O'Kent closed his eyes to shut out any distractions. He began to pull on the steel with all of his will and power. The two bars snapped under the strain. The Scot smiled as he stepped out of confinement.
"Get him back into the cage," Ladonicus screamed at his canine helper.
The black dog leaped at the hero in fury. Saliva dripped from its growling mouth in its fury.
Jock O'Kent ducked under the maddened were-dog's charge, grabbing it by the waist with both hands. He slammed the dog into the floor, creating a crater. As the assistant tried to pull itself out of the hole, O'Kent crushed its skull with one blow.
"Nice going, Jock," said Constant, clapping his hands.
"I see I underestimated you O'Kent," said Ladonicus. "Let me see if I can rectify that."
The magician brought his chain and balls down like a whip. He was caught unprepared as the giant brought his hands together and crushed the three orbs together into a flat sheet of metal.
"What have you done?" wailed Ladonicus.
“Stripped you of your powers, I would say," said Constant. He worked the lock on his cage for a second, and then stepped clear. "How does it feel to be mortal again?"
Ladonicus exploded in a cloud of dust before he could answer.
"You set this up, didn't you Constant?" O'Kent asked as he retrieved his gauntlets from where he dropped him.
"I'm sure I'm not that cunning as to involve one of my closest friends in something as dangerous as this could have been," said Edward Constant, taking a drink from a silver flask, trying to look innocent. "I could never do that."
O'Kent left the mage choking in a cloud of dust.
"Of course, I could have said something like Jock O'Kent will avenge me," Constant said to himself. "Yes, I could have done that."
He arrived back at the shipyard minutes later. He still had work to do of the more mundane kind. He began at one end of his area and started cleaning and assembling and loading and all the other things he was going to do before being called away. When he was done, he smiled at the good job he had done, and went home. When the crew comes in in the morning, they can do a little without me, he thought.
O'Kent headed for home as the sun came up on a new day.
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