Streets of Albion

Note: The following content is M rated as it contains violence and swearing. You have been warned.

I’ve been a long time comic vine fan and although I don't participate in forum conversations a lot I do love the community and everything the site represents, I’ve been writing on my own, and with others, for years but this is the first time I’ve put any of my writing on comic vine and it's a cool moment for me.

Recently I self published a varied collection of super hero short stories on kindle set in my own unique universe and I call it Streets of Albion. I’m trying to do some cool stuff and hopefully branch into areas of super hero mythos that haven’t been tapped before; or at the very least I can offer a unique perspective.

You can find previews of each story at my site http://streetsofalbion.wordpress.com/ and there is a sample on the kindle store that has a huge chunk of the first story. Direct links to each preview are here and it should be noted that the site has uncensored swear words.

Avalon: Birth of a Hero

Crimson: The Mind Bleeds

Quiver: Blodd Money

Ana: The Wrong Side of Darkness

Cerulean: An Alliance of Steel

Marshall Cruzai: A Matter Most Dark

Silver Saviour: The Social Experiment

The Teenage Dreams: The Art of Science

Her Majesty's Heroes: Grief

Now what you’ll get is roughly the first thousand words of the first story. Hope you like what I have and thanks for taking a look, I appreciate it.

Avalon

'Birth of a Hero'

Three armoured transports rolled down the dust covered streets of a town in the southern province of the Middle Eastern country of Ventilov. The convoy of British light infantry was on its way to the foothills of Sutinal to help clear out a known insurgent base of operations. A watchful eye was kept on the surrounding streets but the town was peaceful neutral ground so they expected no trouble.

“That’s bulls**t,” said the young and pleasant first lieutenant Anwen with a smile to her corporal as they sat in the back of a transport.

“It’s true,” Corporal Blaney insisted before he turned to sergeant Gethin for backup, “sergeant?”

“He’s telling the truth so he is, saw it with my own eyes,” Gethin assured her.

“You can’t be serious,” Anwen replied with a smile, she clearly thought they were trying to pull her leg.

“Best shot I’ve ever seen,” Gethin replied seriously.

“You’re telling me that Blaney managed to bring down an apache with a single shot?” Anwen asked dubiously.

“Would I lie?” asked Blaney innocently.

“Yes you bloody well would,” said Anwen with an accusing grin.

“I got it right in the fuel tank, thing went up light a firework,” explained Blaney.

“Shooting a fuel tank doesn’t make something explode, they disproved that on mythbusters,” Anwen told him.

Blaney was about to reply when the transport shook violently in the shockwave of what sounded like an RPG explosion. Ears ringing Anwen moved to the front of the transport to talk to the driver, through the windscreen she could see the lead vehicle had become a smouldering wreck. Briefly she thought about the people on board but had to push that thought from her mind; there would be time for that later.

“Go around, keep movin’,” Anwen ordered.

“There’s no room, we’ll have to back out,” the driver told her and began reversing.

It was too late for that and Anwen knew it; the stretch of road they were in was tight enough to keep them from moving around and that meant only one thing. This was a trap. There was a trail of smoke in the air and suddenly the rear most transport exploded in a burst of flame. She guessed that in any minute insurgents would swarm over their position; why’d they pick that town? Why that place? The insurgents relied on brain washing the local population to get new recruits so why would they risk an attack in such a densely populated and peaceful town with potential recruits? It made no sense.

“It’s a trap, they’ll be watching the streets and probably approaching our position,” Anwen said and quickly came up with a solution, “we need to cover our retreat, flash bangs and smoke.”

“Yes ma’am,” Gethin said moved to one side of the door, he took out two grenades and held one in each hand while another soldier positioned himself ready to open it.

“Now,” Anwen ordered and pointed her weapon at the door in case anyone was waiting for them outside.

Gethin threw the flash bang out of the small gap, cooked the smoke grenade for a second, then threw that out as well. The door to the transport was closed to block out the effects of the flash bang.

“Make it to the nearest building and expect hostiles,” Anwen ordered and the door was opened again.

She took the lead and was the first to leave the transport, she couldn’t see far in the smoke and that was the whole point, it meant any stationed gunners or snipers couldn’t see them. She moved forward and two men appeared in the smoke, they were armed with assault rifles but didn’t look like insurgents. They were westerners and wore black body armour that had a strange symbol on their shoulders, a red semi-circle with a black cross in the middle. That kind of equipment, the body armour and the rifles that looked better than hers, was not the same inexpensive models the insurgents used. Acting on instinct she fired and sent them to the ground.

“Who the f**k were they?” asked Gethin.

Four more people dressed in the same body armour came out of the fog and opened fire, one of her people fell before they managed to subdue the new attackers.

“He’s gone,” Blaney told them as he knelt next to the private that had fallen.

Anwen walked the short distance to the door and violently kicked it open, she was pissed. Whoever these people were would pay. Inside she saw six armoured soldiers and quickly moved away from the door, a hail of bullets began flying out of the doorway as more soldiers began to appear in the smoke. Her people knelt and began to lay down covering fire while the smoke started to dissipate rapidly.

“Flash it,” Anwen ordered as she stood with her back against the stone wall.

Blaney popped the pin on a flash grenade and threw it inside; once they heard the bang he and Anwen walked in and quickly shot the stunned soldiers. The rest of her people followed them inside to get off the street and into a slightly safer position. They weren’t getting out of there on their own, she knew that, they were probably surrounded. What they needed was a good defensible position until they could be rescued.

“The roof, move,” Anwen ordered and headed up the stairs, some of her people remained behind to hold the position at the door as long as they could. Once on the second floor she spotted a ladder on the wall that led to a hatch for the roof. “Blow the stairs,” she ordered before making her way up the ladder, she liked to lead from the front.

Cautiously Anwen pushed the door up and looked out of the gap and on to the roof; two soldiers were stood at the edge looking down at the street. She quickly crawled out on to the roof and shot them both in the back; they stumbled forwards and fell over the waist high parapet at the edge of the flat roof. There was an explosion Anwen hoped was the staircase blowing as she ran to the parapet and took a low crouched position behind it. Gethin joined her behind the wall along with five other soldiers.

“Gethin?” asked Anwen and Blaney just shook his head. Bullets began flying over the wall. “Will someone contact command and get us an evac?!”

“Can’t ma’am,” said a soldier close by, “signals shot to hell, all I’m getting is static.”

“Keep tryin’,” Anwen ordered and turned to Blaney, “I’ll lay down some suppressing fire, take out as many as you can.”

“Right,” said Blaney as he pulled back the bolt of his sniper rifle.

Anwen and a few of her people pointed their rifles over the wall sprayed the opposite side of the street with fire. Blaney popped out of cover, carefully fired five single shots, and then ducked back down. He breathed deeply and reloaded his weapon.

“I think I got maybe four,” Blaney told her.

“Out of how many?” asked Anwen.

“You really don’t want to know,” Blaney assured her.

“Get me that signal!” Anwen ordered urgently.

“I told you, it’s just static!” the private replied.

“Probably just your radio,” Anwen replied and clicked the radio attached to her combat vest, “this is Lieutenant Anwen Morris requesting evac.” There was no reply. “Repeat, this is Lieutenant Anwen Morris, we’re pinned down by unknown forces and need immediate assistance.”

Static.

They were trapped, done for, and it was her fault, she led them there and she was failing to get them out. What could she do? She felt lost, it wasn’t her first mission but she was still a little green behind the ears, she felt she had failed everyone so completely that it was beyond recognition. She kept up a brave face, kept up a stoic and immovable expression in front of her troops, but really she felt like crawling into a corner and sucking her thumb. This was a big mission and one of her first solo commands, they had even asked her if she was ready to take on the responsibility and she’d foolishly said yes. What kind of an idiot was she? Her own arrogance had got them killed, she knew that. Each one of the people that fell she took personally, it was like a part of her died with them, but she had to be strong. Knew she had to be strong. She had to at least try and get the rest of them out of this somehow.

“What’re the enemy positions?” asked Anwen.

“Most of them are set up in a building across the road,” Blaney told her, “but there were a few waiting down in the street. Ten or twelve if I had to guess.”

“That’s all? Okay we deal with the building first and worry about the ground forces later,” Anwen told him but before she could say how they would do that there was a soft servo sound followed by a loud mechanical thunk. A moment later there was another and another and another. The way they followed each other was almost like footsteps, surely that wasn’t the cause… but what was? Were they bolting something down? Some kind of heavy weapon? If they were placing a mortar that could mean all kinds of trouble.

The weapons fire went silent.

“I have a really bad feelin’ about this,” Blaney told her and looked incredibly grim.

Anwen poked her head over and looked down, what she saw caused her face to fall in disbelief and finally lose hope that they’d make it out of there alive. The thing was walking tank like creation as tall as a double decked bus and as heavily armoured as a tank. Its two thin legs had interconnecting plates of armour that slid over each other as it moved to keep the delicate and finely turned hydraulics and servos well protected. The square body had a single extremely thick square shaped window of glass and next to it were rows of small circular holes with a charred, blackened ring around each one. Part of the armament no doubt, they probably fired mini-missiles, but unfortunately that was not the full extent, there were twin mounted cannons on the underside of the body and double grenade launchers sat on the top.

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Robin the Bad A** Boy Wonder

 

In the media there is a certain preconception of Robin the Boy Wonder, people tend to think he’s generally lame and a total joke of a character. This view has been inspired by the dreadful portrayal of Robin on the screen in both the old campy TV series and in the films in which robin was portrayed as a boring and annoying old man. Robin is seen as a stupid character that has no right existing.

This is a fracking travesty.

Robin is, by far, one of my favourite super heroes to have ever existed in fiction. He’s awesome. The problem arises, and the view differs, because yes the film and TV versions of robin are rubbish but the comic book version is the one that’s good. Granted over the years Robin is a moniker that’s been held by a few individuals; but the main two are excellent. Dick Grayson was the first robin and his master of acrobatics made him brilliant at navigating roof tops and also aided in his superb fighting style. He was intelligent and had a charming disposition that nicely offset the dark knight’s harder edge. He later went on to become Nightwing and was even better in that role than he ever was as robin.

My personal favourite Robin is Tim Drake, this is a person with a great sense of humour, a mastery of martial arts and a detective and deductive mind that surpasses even Batman himself. From the get go Tim was depicted as a detective greater than batman as he is the only one, ever, to work out who wears that cowl. He also has this great point of view that I can really get behind, he didn’t become Robin due to some kind of trauma, no, he became Robin because he saw a Batman without one and realised that Batman needs a Robin.

This idea that Batman can’t exists properly without a Robin is something I’ve believed for the longest time. Those two are intrinsically linked in a way that no other two super heroes, or other heroes and sidekicks, ever are. Bats is a very dark and brooding character that’s always on the verge of insanity, he’s a character that sits apart and above the world and views it with an analytical sense of distance. Robin is needed because he provides Bats with a human side, a side to rein Bruce in and keep him connected to the real world. Furthermore they also give Bruce support and act as a family, he views each of those Robins as sons and cares for them deeply. With his super hero career he could never really have a proper family; so these kids he takes under his wing are his surrogate sons.

Aside from the emotional connections there is also the important fact that Batman is human, painfully human. He may be a total bad a** capable of defeating all foes but he can be hurt and having backup in these situations is vital, that’s one thing a Robin provides. Though what most people don’t like to think about is that one day Bruce will die, old age is ultimately the one foe batman won’t be able to defeat. But the world needs a batman and part of the Robin thing is to create heroes ready to replace him. Recently in the comics Bruce Wayne died and Dick Grayson stood up and took the role of Batman for himself, he became the Dark Knight and did quite a good job.

You can question if it’s right to put children in danger or if these kids make Bats weak and vulnerable, look at Jason Todd. You can also argue that teenagers make poor super heroes as they are immature. I don’t see that; Bruce Wayne is a very intelligent guy and he only ever picks those that show a potential and a maturity to be a hero. He’s also a great trainer and if anyone can prepare a person for that kind of life, to prepare them for the dangers this life can bring, it’s him.

There is a section in a Grant Morrison run of batman where someone tries to kidnap a character called Damien from Bruce’s mansion and they attack when they know Bat’s isn’t there. They do know that Tim Drake, Robin, is still there and to deal with him who do they send? Only about fifty Ninjas and do you know what? Tim deals with them easily. Robin is a total bad a** in the comics and Bruce has made them that way so they can handle most situations. You just… you don’t mess with Robin because he’ll kick your a**.

Robin is incredibly cool and I just wish that someone, anyone, would make a version of Robin in more popular media that would reflect this.

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