Aric Dacia is a Visigoth barbarian born into the strife of war in the 5th Century who, as a youth, witnesses as Marcus, a Roman Centurion, slaughters his parents, Rolf Dacia and Inga Dacia. In that instant, Aric becomes a man when he picks up his father’s blade and swears to kill every Roman pig. After the Visigoths’ overthrow the Roman Empire, Aric faces their legions in the service of his uncle Alaric, the King of the Visigoths, but then he comes upon an even more formidable foe in the form of the Spider Aliens, a race of blood-thirsty extraterrestrial arachnoids that make him their prisoner for the next sixteen centuries.
The Valiant Age
With help from the Map Giver, a fellow prisoner, Aric Dacia, a barbarian raised as an animal and trained as a killer, absconds from a Spider Alien vessel with their ultimate weapon, the X-O Manowar, a sentient armor that returns him to Earth in the last decade of the 20th Century. Though Aric is the most primitive man on the planet, he wields the most technologically advanced weapon in existence, and, as he struggles to adapt to the modern world, he prepares for when he can seek vengeance against his captors.
On August 13th 399 AD in a region of Southern Europe in the providence of Dacia inhabited by Visigoths, Rolf Dacia showed off a new sword to his young son, Aric Dacia, who expressed his belief that its magnificence was the reason others in the village looked up to his father. As Rolf told Aric that others preferred to steal their weapons from the Roman pigs while he learned the art of sword-making so their people would not be reliant on stolen plunder, he held the blade in his hands and said that he made it for his uncle Alaric. When Rolf promised him that when he reached manhood he would make a blade for him, Aric told him that he would be a great warrior and make him proud. Suddenly, a distant cry for help from Aric's mother roused their attention.
As Aric and Rolf came out of the blacksmith tent, they witnessed as legions of Roman Centurions wantonly slaughtered their brethren. Hurrying home, Aric and Dacia ran inside just as Marcus and his cohort were raping Inga. When Rolf ordered the Centurions to let his wife go, Marcus slid Inga’s throat with his sword to Aric’s dismay. Enraged, Rolf ripped Marcus’ cohort apart and urged Aric to flee to the forest, but the young Visigoth refused to leave his father and witnessed as Marcus beheaded him. Filled with rage, Aric skewered Marcus with his father’s blade, and as his body fell, he swore to kill all Roman pigs.
Nine years later in the village of Rieti in Northern Italy Aric and his best friend, Gafti, recklessly and mockingly beheaded a pair of Roman Centurions until Aric’s uncle, Alaric, King of the Visigoths, ordered them to dispatch the Romans. As Alaric reminded Aric that they were not there for him to exact his revenge, he ordered him and Gafti to take what they needed and put the rest to the torch as was the Goth way. Later, as they galloped to the edge of the city on horseback and Gafti laughed that Alaric did not approve of his blood oath, Aric told him that, while Alaric felt it clouded his judgment, the Holy Roman Empire owed him a debt of blood that he would collect as was the Goth way.
As they came upon a Roman Temple, Gafti reminded Aric that his uncle wanted provisions and weapons, not gold, but then Aric joked that they could barter the gold for provisions and convinced Gafti to follow him. Inside the temple, Aric and Gafti kept to the shadows and witnessed as a Catholic Priest warned Mericus, a Roman Captain, that the Visigoth scourge was God’s wrath for his consent to have Deidre, a beautiful Irish disciple of the God Lugh that the priest believed spread her heathen beliefs like a plague, as a slave. Convinced by the priest’s words, Mericus proclaimed that Deidre had to die if they were to be cleansed of the Visigoth curse, but as he was about to kill her, Aric impaled him with his sword. After Aric slew the priest, he released Deidre from her bonds and took her with him because, even though she was a heathen and his uncle would disapprove, she was better looking than the women in his camp were.
That evening in the Visigoth village, Aric warned Deidre not to even think about escaping because she belonged to him and, to his surprise, she told him she would never leave because she owed him her life, and it was her people’s way to repay such a debt. When Deidre asked him how she could serve him, Aric took her in his arms and made love to her. Weeks later, Deidre told Aric that if they were to join in the eyes of Lugh the both had to drink from the same cup. As he drank from the chalice, Aric washed his hands of the Roman God and proclaimed that he would gladly serve Lugh, who brought Deidre to him.
Several months later while on night patrol, Aric and Gafti came upon a clearing in the forest that he believed was an imperial encampment within the Visigoth perimeter. As Aric rode over the ridge to take a look while Gafti and the others watched his back for treachery, he was appalled to see as the Spider Aliens devoured his people. Certain that they were demons from Hell in league with the Roman Emperor, Aric leapt through the foliage with sword in hand and split one of the aliens in half. When Aric lunged after one of the aliens, it shot him across the head with a blast from his ray gun and rendered him unconscious. After the alien dragged Aric inside its vessel in the belief that his spirit would serve them well in the slave pens, Gafti and the others witnessed in horror as the alien mothership vanished into space.
Seven years later, the Spider Aliens removed Aric from suspended animation to transfer him to a labor camp on asteroid LZ15, a refueling station. When Aric awoke and spat on the guard’s face, the alien disgorged a vomit from his mouth into Aric’s that tranquilized him for transport. Before he passed out, Aric vowed to kill all the Hard Skins, his name for his alien captors. Against his will, Aric worked for the aliens while they prepared their armada to invade the Earth, until, one day, he met the Map Giver, a prisoner who spoke his language that told him that he might be tough enough to fight his way to the aliens’ ultimate weapon. When the Giver asked him if he was brave enough to kill the aliens, Aric simply told him to show him the way.
Weeks later aboard a Spider Alien Transport Vessel in Earth orbit, the Map Giver told Aric that, after years in the aliens’ servitude, he had learned the layout of the mothership. While the Map Giver carved a map on Aric’s hand using a bone and warned him that the aliens kept their ultimate weapon in a heavily guarded room, and that when he found it he just had to pull the control ring, Aric assured him that he would not fail and many Hard Skins would die that day.
When a Spider Soldier came to take Aric away for a First Among Equals to sustain himself on his blood, at that moment outside the Earth’s atmosphere, Phil Seleski, the hero known as Solar, attacked the alien fleet and gave Aric the opportunity he needed to escape. Armed with an axe from one of his captors, Aric followed the giver’s directions to the Red Room, where he found a Manowar Class Armor with a ring sticking out of its chest plate. Though the aliens tried to stop him, Aric pulled the ring and the armor enveloped him. Amazed that the aliens would risk using their weapons inside the ship, Aric concluded that the armor was a Good Skin.
As an aliens’ blast blasted open a tear in the hull, Aric flew out of the vessel into the void of space. While confused by his surroundings, which differed from what he remembered, Aric remained surprised that the armor carried him where he wanted to go and obeyed his commands. When the alien vessel opened fire on him, Aric tore it apart and it exploded. As the force of the blast propelled him towards the Earth, Aric asked the Good Skin to take him away from the Hard Skins and back home.
Into The Fire
On November 3rd 1991, aboard a Spider Alien transport vessel in orbit over the Earth, Aric Dacia fought his way through a nest of Spider Aliens with an axe he took from his captors that allowed him to break their hard skins and make their blood splatter and pool on the floor. While he was aware that the aliens feared firing their weapons inside the vessel, Aric had no qualms about killing them, and, as he looked at the map on his palm, he knew he would soon have a hard skin like theirs. While the aliens’ fearfully battled Phil Seleski, Aric, whose skin was drenched in the crust of the aliens’ blood, crawled through a tube and entered the red room where they kept the X-O Manowar. Finding himself with nowhere to flee and nothing to fight with, Aric doubted that the armor would help him kill the aliens, but when one of them saw him, he recalled that the Map Giver told him to pull the ring from the armor’s chest plate and did as bidden.
As the armor wrapped itself around him and protected him from the aliens’ lasers, Aric realized that the armor was stronger than the aliens’ weapons and fired on them with its gauntlet cannon, which tore a hole on the ship that sucked them into the void of space. Impressed by the armor’s power, Aric dubbed it the Good Skin, and as he wished to go outside, it carried him where he wanted to go. Though confused by his surroundings, which differed from what he remembered, Aric remained amazed with the armor, which took him back to the ship and gave him the strength to tear it apart.
As the ship exploded, the force of the blast pushed Aric towards the Earth and crashed on a snowy mountaintop in Peru. While dazed, Aric stood up to celebrate his victory over the aliens and lament the death of the Map Giver, whose spirit he considered worthy. After he discarded the armor, Aric thanked it for bringing him to a place where he could walk and then he made his way south. Shortly, Aric came upon a village whose inhabitants spoke a language that made less sense than the aliens’ tongue, and while he was prepared to kill them for their food, he was surprised when they did not run and gave him what he wanted.
Days later, while Aric plucked bananas from a tree, troubled by the Peruvians’ skin and tongue and worried that he was nowhere near his home, M’rrha, a beautiful villager, brought him a cup of water. While Aric drank from M’rrha’s cup, her brother, Carlitos, told her to ask Aric about his ring, and as she motioned towards it, Aric mused that it pulled her eyes as she pulled his. While Aric wondered how long it had been since he loved a woman, a driver on a jeep asked him if he was ready for their trek to the city and interrupted his train of thought. Eager to find a wizard who could tell him where he was and how to find his kin, Aric leapt on the back of the jeep.
Half a day later, while Aric mused that he only found worse air and heat than in the aliens’ litter, Carlitos ran into the city screaming that the helicopters had killed everyone in the village. While Aric failed to understand, he could tell that something had happened and rushed back to the village. Although Aric ran as fast as he could, his long captivity had weakened him and he was too late to save anyone. As he gazed at the villager’s dried husks, Aric lamented that he missed an opportunity to catch the aliens while they fed to kill them, when then he was horrified to see M’rrha’s head atop a spear. While Aric stroked M’rrha’s hair, he found an alien device pinned to it that played a message from the aliens that said that they had the Manowar armor and they wanted him to leave the ring for them and walk away or else they would continue to feed on his friends. Surprised that the aliens threatened him instead of kill him, Aric figured out that they feared him and the ring, which talked to him with a voice in his head that told him where the aliens took the armor. Determined to avenge M’rrha, Aric followed the ring’s voice north.
Days later, as Aric systematically slaughtered the aliens that guarded the perimeter to their landing pads, he took his clothes off to move freely and used their weapons to infiltrate their camp. While Malachai, a Spider Soldier, informed Lydia, a ruthless bio-engineered Spider Soldier and leader of their covert operatives, that Aric was costing him denizens, Aric destroyed their helicopters with an alien bazooka.
That night, Aric came upon the capital city of Peru, where he ran into a pair of prostitutes, one of whom spoke in a Germanic accent and another whose touch reminded him of M’rrha. While Aric wondered if the foreign prostitute knew his kin, a Spider Soldier leapt off a roof and bit him on the shoulder. After Aric snapped the creature’s neck, he wondered if it was the kind that had poison on his teeth, but then he noticed that he lacked any green stripes on his clothing and he thanked Lugh for his good fortune. While Aric loomed over his foe, Ken Clarkson, a devious effeminate schemer, applauded him and commented that he was there looking for local color but he surpassed his wildest dreams. While he could not figure out Ken, who he thought sounded like a raven and clucked like a woman over his wounds, Aric believed he was very bird-like and might be the wizard he was seeking, so he followed him to his hotel room. While Aric took a bath, he thought the shampoo and soap were strange oils that proved Ken was a wizard. Afterwards, while Ken showed him a couch where he could sleep, Aric wondered why he had not begun his wizardry and believed that he had to be refreshed before he could begin. Worried that with the fighting he had yet to do he was better off in a comfortable space, Aric slept on the wooden floor behind a potted plant.
The next morning when Ken woke up, he was dismayed to notice that Aric had vanished, but then he saw him behind the plant and joked that, if he wanted a brute to growl at him in the morning, he would have bought a St. Bernard. Worried for his safety, Ken told Aric to shave his beard so he could get him out of the country. At the airport, as Ken joked that Aric looked like a pro wrestler, Aric mused that he had not been without a beard since it sprang from his face and thought that Ken had taken him to his house to begin his wizardry. During their flight, as Aric mused that wizardry made the plane fly, Ken told him that he looked nervous and grabbed his hand, then, when he reached for the ring to look at it, Aric pushed him aside and pondered that, even though Ken was a wizard, the ring belonged to him.
Hours later at John F. Kennedy International Airport, as Aric thanked Ken for taking him north, Ken told him not to thank him while he was still a fugitive and asked him to wait for him while he made a phone call. Having grown increasingly annoyed, Aric decided to continue his journey, but then Ken stopped him and told him that he had found them a place where he would be safe. Since Ken could not understand him, Aric showed him the ring to indicate that he had to follow it and hugged him to thank him for his help. As Aric called Ken friend in Spanish, he mused that, while he did not understand men like him who liked other men, he thought they could be good wizards and that, someday, he would bring him great reward.
While at first Aric thought that Ken did not understand him, when he started walking north, he followed him to the tarmac certain that he had. Unable to understand Ken, Aric failed to grasp when he revealed he worked for the aliens and tried to warn him of an ambush, when, then, Malachai and a group of Spider Soldiers came out of hiding with a Spider Tank and shot Ken’s arm off. As Aric wondered how the aliens found him after he traveled so far north, he figured that Ken had never fought the aliens and hid him to spare him their cruelty. Certain that to save Ken he had to defeat the aliens, Aric drew their fire and they shot off a gasoline tank, and as the explosion engulfed him, he found himself pinned beneath the debris. As Aric heard the voice that told him to travel north again, he wondered if the armor could hear him as well and he called for it to come to him.
As the voice in his head no longer whispered north, the armor arrived on the tarmac and kicked the debris away from Aric, and, as it wrapped itself around him like a bear skin, the soldiers fled in fear, while Malachai shot in the certainty that their weapons would destroy it. As Aric wished to jump away from the blast, the armor carried him towards the tank and he ripped its turret off its hinges, but then he found himself floating in mid air unable to move. When Malachai told Aric that watching him die would afford him great pleasure, Aric recognized his voice from the device on M’rrha’s hair and fired on the tank until it toppled on its back. Enraged, Aric pulled Malachai through the tank’s glass canopy and killed him to avenge M’rrha’s death.
While tarmac workers discovered the damage from the battle, Aric escaped with Ken to the woods, and as he loomed over him, convinced that he was a wizard since his spirit did not fly away with his arm, Aric felt pleased that he had avenged M’rrha and the others and then he set out to find a healer for Ken. As Aric mused that when the aliens took him from his home had could not kill them, he pondered that with new Good Skin he was the strongest one there was and that with it he would rule.
Early one evening in Lido Beach, Aric Dacia battled a Spider Soldier garbed in X-O Wolf Armor that proved to be stronger than the everyday objects he used as weapons. After the alien punched him through the side of a house, Aric noticed that the Good Skin was harder than the poor weapons he had found and rammed his fist into the alien’s carapace. As the alien’s blood oozed freely through an open wound, Aric reproached himself for thinking like a naked warrior looking for sticks and proclaimed that, like a true warrior and his blade, he and the Good Skin were the strongest one there was. When Aric ripped off one of the arachnoids’ limbs and the soldier escaped, the Good Skin bore him up after him, and, once he caught up to his foe, he mused that death was a gift to a warrior who had lost a limb, and that, though his enemy had limbs to spare, he was a generous foe. After Aric killed the soldier, he thanked Lugh for his Good Skin.
When Aric returned to Lido Beach, he found Ken behind a bush where he left him when the soldier swooped down on them watching as the police gathered around the house where he fought his arachnid foe. After Aric picked up Ken and took flight, he wished he could understand him, then, as he mused that Ken lamented the loss of his arm, he pondered that, since he was his friend, he should grant him the gift of a clean death, but then he considered that, since he was a wizard, he could grow a new arm. As they approached the house of Ken’s friend Bev, Aric thought that she lived in a castle, and after she patched up Ken’s injury and made them dinner, he thought that Ken was an important wizard for the queen herself to tend to his wounds and feed them.
When Ken signaled him to wrap himself in the Good Skin, Aric figured that he knew that when he wore the armor he understood him a little better and did as he asked. Certain that the armor was probably trying to help him understand, Ken told Aric that it was going to need time to develop a full rapport with him and asked him to try to get the drift of what he told him. As Ken told Aric that the beings that held him prisoner were from another world, he told him that when he destroyed their ship he stranded them on Earth, so they needed the armor to build a new ship, and long as any of them lived they would go after them, so he had to kill them all.
While Ken tried to tell Aric that the armor understood maps even if he did not and it would take him to the aliens’ facilities, Aric stared at Bev while she smoked a cigarette and grabbed it from her hand. As he stared at the cigarette and realized that it was a stupid way to breathe smoke, Aric tossed it and picked up an antique letter-opener. While Ken told Bev that Aric spent most of his life locked up and did not understand a lot of things, Spider Soldiers broke into the house. Certain that the soldiers were there to avenge their eight-legged brother, Aric confronted them head-on, but as he fought them off one of them absconded with Ken. As Aric killed a soldier with the letter-opener, he mused that, while the Good Skin was his weapon, a warrior should always have a blade. When the aliens left with Ken on a hovercraft, Aric bid his friend goodbye and mused that his spirit was worthy, but then Bev urged him to do something and he thought that she might random Ken and decided to leave before his enemies brought more harm to her castle. As Bev pointed at the corpses strewn over her house and asked Aric how he could just stand there, he thought she did not have any servants who could burn them, so he incinerated them himself, and as he flew away, he thought that none could ever say that he was not a grateful host.
The next morning when Aric woke up, he thanked Lugh for the Good Skin that kept watch over him while he slept as it told him it would. While Aric searched for something to eat, he wondered if the voice that spoke to him was Lugh himself and mused how, once, he thought that those who claimed the Gods spoke to them were liars. After Aric had his fill of a swallow’s eggs, he took flight on the armor and went to find the aliens to kill them all as Ken told him. As Aric skewered the aliens with his ion beams, the voice called his name in words for the first time and he believed that Lugh, the grandest God of all, had spoken his name. When Aric asked Lugh what his was will, the wordless voice guided him towards New York, and though the sound differed from before, Aric believed that a God could speak with many voices.
Guided by what he believed was the voice of Lugh, Aric arrived at the Chrysler Building in New York City, which he thought was the castle of the king of his enemies, and slaughtered a nest of Spider Aliens garbed as Centurions that were waiting for him in the lobby. As the aliens wilted before him and fled at his approach, Aric grew convinced that the power of Lugh covered him like a cloak that filled them with fear. When a handful of the guards fled in an elevator, Aric swiftly went after them and slaughtered them all. As the elevator carried him to the top floor and the doors opened, Aric thanked Lugh for guiding him and then he proceeded to slaughter the guards that stood between him and Prather, a bio-engineered Spider Soldier who helped Lydia coordinate Orb Industries, a powerful international conglomerate that the Spider Aliens used as a front for an invasion of Earth. Boldly, Aric blasted Prather’s head cleanly off his shoulders and took his scepter as a symbol of his victory, as well as the captain of the guard’s sword. As Aric loomed proudly over the aliens as they begged him for mercy, he wondered if Lugh’s purpose for him was to subjugate them or destroy them and wished that he would speak to him again, but then he decided that, unless Lugh bid otherwise, he would kill them.
When Lydia tossed herself at his feet, Aric found it strange than neither she nor Prather were aliens, and as he sat on the throne feeling confused, he ordered the aliens to bring Ken out so he could help him decide what to do about her. As Lydia ordered the soldiers to leave them in soothing voice that sounded like a soft musical tone like the sad, beautiful whisper of the night wind and a siren’s voice to him, Aric wished that he could understand what she said. When Lydia offered to bathe him, Aric mused that, while he did not find her to be beautiful, there was something strangely enticing about her and so he removed his armor to allow her to treat him like a conquering king.
While Lydia bathed Aric and purred what he believed were soft sounds of love, she soothingly called him by his name and told him that she had studied him and knew that, during his imprisonment on their ships, the only ones of her kind he saw were unlike humans. Insultingly, Lydia told Aric he was too primitive to imagine they could bio-genetically alter their bodies, and that those of them who conducted business on Earth could become almost indistinguishable from his kind. As she slowly caressed Aric’s neck and moved closer to it, Lydia voiced her discomfort with her human form and unveiled her alien teeth to bite him.
As Aric discerned that Lydia called him by name and realized that only Lugh knew who he was, he recalled that he knew better than to trust the aliens or the women that dwelled with them and stabbed her in the heart. When Lydia kept moving in spite of her fatal wound, Aric believed that she was a witch with no heart and donned the armor to overmatch her spells. As he grasped that Lydia had put what he thought was the voice of Lugh in his ear, Aric pulled her cloak off her and gazed at her arachnoid body just as she fell out the window. While horrified that such a creature tried to seduce him, Aric retreated inside to search her lair for charms to protect him from her like.
Sometime later, Aric patched the armor into the aliens’ communications web and found Ken in the warehouse in Northampton. As he saw Aric on the screen looking at him, Ken realized that they had won.
The Most Powerful Man In The World
While wind blew through the broken window of the offices of Orb Industries in the Chrysler Building, Aric Dacia was kneeled on the floor eating an animal he killed while he read a children’s book to learn how to speak English at the behest of Ken Clarkson. Bored with the book, Aric thought that others should learn his language since he was stronger, but since he considered Ken his only friend in the strange world he found himself in, he did as he asked. As he flipped the page, Aric saw an image of a spider and recognized it.
Moments later, Ken entered the top floor office and told Aric that, if he had it his way, they would not let any outsiders in the building since people could never know who the principal owner of Orb Industries. Troubled, Ken noted that the Spider Aliens built Orb Industries into a powerful multinational corporation to serve as a front for their operations on Earth, but that it would all come crashing down if the world ever learned that an ancient Visigoth had captured it and become the most powerful man in the world. When Ken asked him how his lessons were coming along Aric angrily tossed the book aside and told him he wanted to go home, but Ken told him that he was home for the moment and asked him to believe that he knew what he was doing. . While Ken said that the aliens did most of their work behind the scenes and no one outside them knew who ran their corporation, and that as far as anyone knew they had always been in charge and he had slowly transferred all their assets into his name, Aric sat on his throne and mused that Ken chattered too much.
As Ken thanked God he had the common sense to tell Aric to get rid of the aliens’ bodies, he said that, since the cops thought that mystery terrorists ransacked the building and no one knew what really happened except for them and, far as the world was concerned, Orb Industries was back to business as usual. Deviously, Ken told Aric that he was making Orb their business, and, once he was done, they would be sitting pretty and he would be able to go out again. When Ken suggested that they fix the window, Aric refused because the cold made him feel at home. While Ken told Aric that his home had not existed for two thousand years, he noted that one did not have to be a Visigoth to have trouble understanding that and asked him to forget he said anything. As they looked down at the city and Ken told Aric that, soon, they would be able to buy Germany or whatever the area he lived in had become, he said that they were lucky to have each other and that, as long as they were together, they were the most powerful men in the world.
The next morning Aric entered a conference room where he left the Manowar armor and was enraged to see Phil Seleski standing beside it. As Phil told him that he chased the aliens’ invasion fleet into space and he was afraid something awful could have happened while he was gone, Aric thought he was a wizard that wanted to distract him with his words. After Phil congratulated Aric for taking care of the aliens without understanding how he did it just with his will and heart, he told him that he was privileged to come back home during an exciting time for not just them but many others. As Phil vanished in a bright flash of multicolored lights, Aric donned his armor to bring him back since he was an emperor and wizards worked for emperors.
As he flew out the window, Aric told the Good Skin that he knew when he spoke to it, it could hear him, and, sometimes, he heard another voice in his head that he guessed meant it was a gift from Lugh. When the Good Skin did not answer, Aric worried he had talked too much, and, as he apologized, he begged Lugh to tell him where Phil had gone. While he flew over the city, Aric mused that the Good Skin might not know which wizard he meant since their castles filled the city, when then he came across Central Park. Certain that Lugh had placed the great forest there to answer his earlier plea to go home, Aric thanked him for giving him his freedom and removed the armor to frolic in the park, where ten bandits armed with clubs, knives, and chains surrounded him. As he thanked Lugh, Aric slaughtered the bandits with their own weapons. Pleased with the steam of new-spilled blood in the air, Aric mused that the city might become bearable with a forest like Central Park, wizards like Phil in the heights, and bandits in the depths that Lugh had provided for him.
After he donned the armor and took flight to return home, Aric realized he had only seen the outside of his castle once, but then he recalled that the Good Skin could lead him there and bid it to take him home. As the armor flew towards the Chrysler Building, Aric mused that, while wizards dwelled in the city, they would all bow to him. Suddenly, an unseen attacker shot Aric in the back, and, as he lost his balance, he ordered the armor to halt and he stopped falling. Amazed at how the armor responded to his commands, Aric turned to face his aggressor and saw Karl Breznoff, the mercenary called Sniper, standing on the street below. As Karl opened fire on him and told him that, while his armor appeared formidable, he had butchered worse, Aric felt the blunt of the bullets and thought that he was another wizard, when then the momentum pushed him back and he fell through a brick wall.
Enraged, Aric punched Karl to make him bow before him. After Aric tried to insult him, Karl continued his barrage, and as he returned his fire, Aric mused that, soon as he triumphed, he was going back to Ken’s book to learn how to say bad things about people’s mothers. As Aric’s lasers bounced off Karl’s suit, Karl proclaimed himself the hero of their battle and fired on him, but his bullets ricocheted wildly and hit the innocent bystanders. As Ken reached the street to help Aric, he made him notice that the people around him were dying. In a bid to safeguard the people from harm, Aric pointed at Central Park and challenged Karl to follow him there, but Karl shot him off the sky with a barrage of bullets. Though Aric called for Lugh to help him, he crashed on the pavement and Karl shot him with a bazooka that broke the Manowar armor’s helmet. Angered that Karl had broken the Good Skin, Aric blocked his gun’s barrels with his gauntlets, and when he opened fire, the blast destroyed his implants. While Karl withered in pain, Aric wanted him to stand up and continue their battle, but Ken urged him to take them out of there because people were gawking at them.
While Aric and Ken flew away from the scene, Ken told Aric that they had to try to keep his identity a secret and that they would stay out of sight until dark and then sneak back into the building through the broken window. Though he felt the pain of the Good Skin in his head, Aric dismissed it as a ringing in his ears and told Ken that the city afforded him many fights and many bad wizards, but then Ken assured him that in the 20th Century there were no wizards.
On March 1st 1992 in the top floor of the Chrysler Building, Aric Dacia and Ken Clarkson reviewed a file that held all the data Ken could find on Sniper, who he had learned worked for Toyo Harada, the founder of the Harbinger Foundation, a non-profit organization that provided an environment where people with special abilities could achieve their potential. Since he had never heard of Toyo before, Ken researched him and told Aric that he was incredibly wealthy as well as powerful, and involved in a vast pattern of behind-the-scenes manipulations on a global scale that made him a world power unto himself. Moreover, Ken told Aric that the Spider Aliens’ files were full of references to Toyo, whose resistance against them made them fear him. When Aric proclaimed that he did not fear King Toyo or the wizards he sent to kill him, Ken noted that he thought Toyo sent Sniper to kill him because he thought he was one of the aliens and ignored that he had stolen their greatest weapon and booted them out of their headquarters, a notion he hardly believed himself.
Just then, Todd Bevins, Toyo’s personal assistant, contacted Aric and Ken through a comm-link terminal hooked into the aliens’ private communications system that the aliens left behind. As Todd assured Aric and Ken that Toyo merely reacted to what his sources believed to be a threat, he said that Toyo had made a commitment to rectify the damage. Using a remote camera at one of their medical facilities, Todd told Aric and Ken that the victims of the battle had received the best care on hand and that they had generously compensated the families of those who died. When Todd said that Toyo would like to meet with them in their offices to discuss his vision of global peace, Ken refused and warned him that the offices were off limits. When Todd suggested that they go to New Orleans where Toyo was and showed them a video of dancing girls at the Mardi Gras festival, Aric eagerly agreed to go, while Ken terminated the transmission and promised to get back to him. While Ken worried that they were not ready to confront Toyo without a plan, Aric was tired of making plans, being locked up in the building, and of what he called Ken’s wizard games, and insisted on facing Toyo his way, with or without him. Since he had invested too much in Aric to let him put his head in the lion’s mouth, Ken halfheartedly agreed to accompany him to New Orleans.
Later that day in the airport, Aric mused that he could fly them much faster with the Good Skin, but then he figured it be undignified to lug around a wizard like Ken like a saddlebag and it was important for wizards to seem dignified before an emperor like Toyo. As the plane took off, Aric lamented that Ken did not have time to grow a new arm before they left and thought he would be embarrassed. During the flight, as Ken exclaimed his comfort with their ability to charter their private jet with the wealth they appropriated and asked Aric if the damage that the armor suffered would be permanent. While Aric assured him the armor would re-grow its fallen pieces soon, Ken told him that, if it came to a fight, the armor was all that stood in the way of them meeting his great God Lugh. Valiantly, Aric said that he was not afraid to meet Lugh, and assured Ken that he was a great warrior before the Good Skin, and that if Toyo harmed him he would meet Lugh first. Though he found Aric’s attitude charmingly hostile, Ken noted that it ill-suited their diplomatic mission.
Sometime later in a hotel lobby, Aric mused that New Orleans was hotter than New York and planned to take his suit off as soon as they got to their room. While on the elevator, Ken reminded Aric that he would do all the talking when they met Toyo and he would not say anything. When Aric and Ken came into the penthouse, Toyo’s guards reached for the bag that held the Manowar armor to inspect it and Aric thought that they were bandits who wanted to steal it. As Aric punched the guards, Toyo asked him to end the conflict between their two camps and told him that it was his hope they could become staunch allies for the betterment of the planet.
While Toyo told Aric that, for many years, he had monitored the alien invaders’ communications, disrupted their flow of supplies, and thwarted their operations at every turn, he explained how, as he became familiar with their technology and recognized his armor to be of extraterrestrial origin, he presumed the worse and apologized for his actions. When Toyo expressed a desire to know what his involvement with the aliens was, Aric insisted to speak with him himself over Ken’s objections.
In his own way, Aric told Toyo how, after the aliens took him from his home and made him their prisoner, he waited for years for the time to kill them until, one day when they were not watching, he found the Manowar armor and used it to kill them and take over Orb Industries. Satisfied with Aric’s tale, Toyo told him that the spoils of his victory belonged to him as long as he did not oppose him, but then Aric accused him of attacking him and Ken. While he reiterated that the attack was a mistake, Toyo assured Aric he could rest easy and he had nothing to fear from him as they were there to forge a bond of peace. As they reached a understanding, Toyo invited Aric and Ken to partake of the Mardi Gras festival in a place where the drinks were cool, the jazz was hot, and Aric would have his pick of any woman. While Aric was eager to leave, Ken wished to discuss further business with Toyo, but he declined. As they left and Ken whispered to him that there was more to Toyo that met the eye and said that he did not trust him, Aric told him that he did not trust anyone.
That night in the French Quarter, Aric mused that New Orleans was a magical place where people sang and danced as if it was the great festival of Lugh and everything a man could want was there for the taking. As they sat to listen to Jack Boniface, a jazz player, play his sax in the La Bas Jazz club, Toyo offered Aric and Ken a glass of Sazerac, a renowned local drink. Shortly, while Toyo ingested a pill that spared him from the effect of alcohol, Aric became heavily inebriated and excused himself to go to the bathroom.
As he stumbled dizzily towards the bathroom, Aric pondered Ken’s assertion that there were no more wizards and noted that something about Toyo smacked of wizardly since he seemed unaffected by their liquor. Just then, Aric came across Lydia, who leapt out of his way and fled, and though, at first, he seemed to recognize her, he dismissed her presence as the result of his inebriation and decided to return to the table to drink a few more just in case Toyo would not respect a warrior who could not hold his drink.
That night, as Toyo took Aric and Ken to Bourbon Street, the Harbinger Resistance, a loose organization of Harbinger renegades, attacked, and while Toyo called his guards, Aric, who believed the renegades were wizard bandits, attacked John Torkelson, a goliath who sought to get even with those that wronged him, who punched him through a wooden fence. As he donned the Good Skin and it cleared his head, Aric punched John and Charlene Dupré, fiery Southern Belle, but then Pete Stanchek, a psionic of extraordinary power, deflected his lasers and tossed his in the air where Faith Herbert, a plucky fangirl with the power of flight, tackled him. As John grabbed Aric’s ankles, he tossed him against a shed, but when Charlene climbed down to check up on him, he used a broken water main to douse her flames. In a huff, Charlene evaporated the water around them and created a curtain of steam that hid Aric from her and allowed him to punch her out. Though Aric thought that the renegades were brave, he also though that they fought without strategy and defeated John and Pete. Suddenly, Kris Hathaway, Pete's girlfriend, drove up to the club and the renegades escaped in her car.
After Toyo reassured Aric that he would find him a strong ally in the future and left them to enjoy the festival, Ken urged him to hide the armor before they attracted more attention and said that he wanted to go back to New York because he had had enough excitement for one day. As he accused Ken of being a boring wizard, Aric walked over to a couple of show girls and said he was there for the women and was not leaving until he had some fun. As Aric told him to go back to the hotel, Ken shook his head and called him a barbarian.