The Heroine Revealed


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/30/15CB 1-ShotsThe Heroine Revealed(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
TSnakes, centipedes, and other things that crawl or slither. Physical violence.
"...Clarissa's an American."

Finding a golden idol in the shape of a modern car wasn't the hardest job I've ever had, but it may very well have been the strangest. That is, it may have been, until I was approached by that little girl. "Clarissa!" she called. No one had called me that in years.

"Do I know you?" I asked the girl as she ran up to me.

"I'm Ana!" she said brightly. She leaned in and whispered, "I've got a message for you." A little amused, I smiled and she said, "Open the boot."

"I beg your pardon?" I was genuinely confused.

"Oh, right, Clarissa's an American. The 'trunk.' Open the trunk," insisted the girl.

I was a bit stupefied, and it must have showed, because she gave me a look that said, "Snap out of it, dummy," and with a jerk of her hand indicated the BMV parked on the street behind me. Not quite shaking my befuddlement, I looked toward the car for a moment, before I heard the girl turn to run away.

"Wait!" I called after her. She stopped only a few steps from me, and turned to look at me curiously. "How do you know me as 'Clarissa?'"

Just then, two dozen boa constrictors slithered across the street, passing around Clarissa and between her feet. Her pupils elongated horizontally, then turned like keyholes until they were vertical and she blinked sideways. "You delivered me and my clutch," she answered, and with that, her form melted into that of another boa constrictor, and she slithered away with her siblings.

I remembered that day with some disdain, as it's one of the few jobs I have been fired from. I scowled at the receding tangle of snakes for just a moment, before remembering the girl's message. I fished the keys from the pocket of my combat trousers, and felt their heft in my hand. Jangling them for a moment, I tossed them lightly, caught them, and hit the keyfob button for the trunk. It popped lightly.

I walked over, opened it gingerly, and all I found inside was a pure white cat with a really ugly black and orange collar. It looked at me and said, "Meow." It didn't meow at me. It actually said the word, "Meow." While I was processing that, it jumped in my arms, rubbed it's head against my shoulder, then promptly clawed me and jumped, hightailing it for the alley across the street. I thought it's collar pulled off as it jumped, but it turns out it wasn't a collar at all.

"Why does it have to be a centipede?"

It was a centipede. A really big centipede. I hate centipedes. "A centipede," I gasped. "Why does it have to be a centipede?"

It was rolling sideways down my arm while I was having this moment of phobic hysteria, until it reached my wrist and curled around it like a charm bracelet, stopping its momentum. Something I was sure it shouldn't be able to do, but nor should it have been able to say, "I wasn't really given much of a choice in the matter. My wife was a bit unhappy with me at the time."

I screamed and smacked at it instinctively, only succeeding in causing its venomous spurs to dig deeper into my wrist, which only freaked me out more. So I did the sensible thing and slammed my wrist on the trunk lid a bunch of times, trying to kill Jiminy Cricket's ugly cousin, but only succeeding in slamming the trunk shut in my fervor. I probably would've kept going until the pain caused me to pass out, but inbetween poundings against the car, the centipede finally said, "Do <oof> you <oof>MIND!" He had a rather manly voice for such a small creature...I might have even called it debonair, if it wasn't coming from a freaking centipede! With a wild look on my face, I stared for several seconds at the thing clinging to my wrist like a bad memory. "You're quite lovely when you're manic, you know."

My chest heaved a couple of times, trying to keep down a scream, and I forced out, "What. do. you. WANT?!"

It looked up at me and said, "I need your help, luv."

My wrist still extended out as far in front of me as I could get it, I looked at the thing incredulously and said, "You have got to be kidding."

Several of the legs nearest the head seemed to shrug as he asked, "Why do you hate me so? You don't even know me."

I didn't really feel the need to explain myself to a bug - especially a bug I didn't even know - but my mouth opened unbidden, "It was my gap-year in Indonesia- I was envenomed by a giant centipede. I woke up in my tent to find a massive centipede crawling on my arm that looked exactly like you. That freaked me out, but what was worse was when the guide told us that each of its forty feet has a venomous spur on it. I was feverish and in constant pain for the next three days."

"Hm," the centipede fretted. "It hurt, then?"

"'Hurt?' Screw that. It felt as if someone had lathered up my skin with acid. It was that painful." Then I blinked hard and shook my head. "Why am I telling you this?" I felt a little woozy, and put my centipede free hand to my forehead.

"Yes, well, that would be me," he confessed. "My venom is a bit special. It compels you do whatever I want, including answering my questions."

I became a little unsteady. "That's reedorkylus," I slurred.

"Oh? Tell me, luv..."

"Stop cowlin' me dat," I interrupted. I wrinkled my nose at the words that wouldn't come out right.

"...Tell me," it repeated, "What's your favorite pants?"

"Combat troos...truss...the kind I'm warrin', ob'v'usly." I swayed a bit.

"Um-hm," it continued, "and you're afraid of me. Are you afraid of snakes?"

"I hander ven'm'us snakes on a reg'ar basis." I was trying to sound superior, but just then I was finding it really hard to do that and still stand up straight. "Perfess'r Jones really loves me f'r that." I smiled awkwardly and wobbled, stumbling back a couple of paces.

"I see. And what's your name?" he asked.

"Impurr...Emp'ror' No." Forgetting about the thing wrapped around my wrist, I stretched my arms closer to my sides, not quite touching, forcing myself to stand steady. I concentrated hard, and managed to say, "Impurest. Cheese."

"Your real name?"

"Eloise. Clayton," I answered, still forcing correct pronunciations from my mouth.

Sounding unnervingly charming, he asked, "Don't you mean 'Joanne,' luv?"

With that, a leotard and helmet of pink crystal formed around me, popping the centipede free of my wrist and bringing me to instant sobriety...and anger. "Only one person got to call me that, and you. are not. her! And I told you to stop calling me 'luv.' State your business bug, or I'm putting you in a coffee can until I figure out how to be rid of you for good."

"Nothing Lugh the Wanderer can't overcome."

"I don't think there's a coffee can big enough for me," he said, growing until he had become an eel.

I raised an eyebrow and smiled a cruel smile as the former centipede found it hard to breathe. It flopped back and forth on the pavement. "Having problems?" I mocked.

It grew again as it struggled, and became something larger and more mobile. He said, "Nothing Lugh the Wanderer can't overcome," and then he struck at me.

I hadn't been Katya in awhile.

I flipped backwards, gracefully avoiding the strike and landing in a crouch, my tail whipping aggressively side to side. I hadn't been Katya in awhile. "Again, serpent: what do you want?" I growled.

He curled back on himself a bit, surprised to see my Princess Katya form. He tilted his head to one side and considered for a moment, then shifted his form again into the massive Dragon Eel of Macau. In response, I shifted from Katya to Jena Johansson, otherwise known as...

"Black Boxxxx!" the Dragon Eel hissed. "Then you do have what I am after!"

Jena Johansson aka Black Box

I gritted my teeth and asked, "And what would that be?"

"The golden mask of Ai Apaec! I must have it!" said the Dragon Eel.

I narrowed my eyes and asked, "Why?"

The Dragon coiled from side to side a bit, its head always staying centered towards me. He must have finally seen the futility in deception, as he gave in and answered, "My wife, Fea, gave me this ability to shapeshift long ago, when I was still a Viking named Ragnar. Over time, I have been all these things you've seen today, and more. She too has had many forms. She's currently in a temple in Peru, in her true form of Ai Apaec. She needs the mask to summon the Sea God, in order to save the Earth."

Still suspicious, I asked, "Save Earth from what?"

"Not what," he answered, "but who. The Orumcek are coming."

On hearing that name, I shifted from Black Box to a Valkyrie dressed in Middle Ages armor with a steampunk flair. "Get in the car," I said.

"Like thisss?"

"Turn into that Viking you mentioned," I said, and hit the keyfob to unlock the doors.

The Dragon Eel seemed to coil upon itself as its form compressed and shifted into the form of a Viking warrior. "Ragnar, at your service," he said, his voice finally matching his visage. Swifter than I'd have thought, he closed the distance between us, grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off of the ground. "I think I'll just take that mask though, if you don't mind."

Both of my hands on his wrist, I leveraged myself enough to be able to say, "I'll...tell you...for...a kiss."

"HA! A kiss?" he roared. "I'm a Viking, wench! Do you think I don't know the power of a Valkyrie's kiss?" He slammed me against the car, and through gritted teeth said, "Tell me where the mask is!"

As he loosened his grip enough for me to talk, I took a few deep breaths and answered, "It's in the trunk."

"Do you think me a fool, woman? That's where you found me, remember? There was nothing in that trunk but me and that cat!"

"Yes, and some other time, you must tell me how you came to be there, but the mask is there also. It's in the spare tire compartment, under the floor." I held up one hand and jangled the keys before popping the trunk again.

"You know what else my many forms have taught me?"

Ragnar dragged me by the neck to the rear of the car, and with his free hand he started pawing at the floor of the trunk. Needing his other hand, he set me down and shoved me backwards before continuing to rip at the flooring.

I regained my composure, enjoying the free flow of air again, and looked down the street to see a couple of dozen kids and their sister running from the alley. Ana stopped in the middle of the street and waved at me before continuing after her brothers and sisters. As I waved back, Ragnar, his head half in the trunk, bellowed, "I see your many forms have taught you to be sneaky, luv!"

My steampunk armor shifted to bone, and a scythe appeared in my hand. "You know what else my many forms taught me?" I asked as I swept his feet with the scythe, tumbling him into the trunk. I pinned him down with the scythe, and as he looked at me in surprise, I recited, "'Meta, Dermis, Auricus.'" He turned to gold, and I slammed the lid down.

"...find me that mask with the golden tentatcles."

Shifting once more into combat trousers and a tank top, my scythe became a hand bow, which I tossed into the passenger seat as I got in. I pulled a cell phone from the console and made a call. "This is Siwang. Make some room in storage for a life sized golden statue, and find me that mask with the golden tentacles. It's somewhere near the Book of Secrets. I'm going to Peru. Right, Peru. Be there shortly." I hit the end button and tossed the phone next to the hand bow. I started the BMV, it lifted off the ground, and I was off to save the world. Again.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #21.

It's What We Do


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/28/15CB 1-ShotsIt's What We Do(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
MFire and death. Censored cursing. Based on a true story. With a twist of sci-fi to make it hurt less.

Ninety-nine percent of alarm company dispatches are false alarms. I've been sitting here trying to think of something more clever than that to tell you, and the truth is...I just don't have it in me today. Not today, not yesterday, not the day before, or the last three before that. I've just been...numb...between numb and a crying mess, maybe. You see, I'm a dispatcher for one of those alarm companies, and eight days ago, there was this fire.

It looked just like any other fire alarm

It looked just like any other fire alarm: same color code, same priority, same procedure. But it wasn't just any fire. I got multiple signals at the same time. I noticed this while I was dialing the fire department and I raised an eyebrow, but I brushed it off because nothing was following it. Real fires usually send in alarms from every detector in the building as they get flooded by the smoke. I just had these two. Sure, it was from different areas, but it must be a power surge or something.

Then, while I was giving the information to the dispatcher, three more signals came in and I thought, "Oh no." I was quickly relieved to see that they were just problem signals. An alarm is one thing. A problem is just a glitch with the equipment- mostly batteries. That seemed to confirm the power surge. I finished the dispatch, called a couple of contact numbers with no answer, and moved on to the next alarm.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful.

Seven days ago I came in for my shift, and looking over the log for the past twenty-four hours, I saw that another operator had been notified that a fire alarm dispatched during my previous shift had resulted in the house burning down. That's always sad news. Fire is something I cringe about. I'm a collector of books and comics, and if a fire broke out there would be nothing to do but escape with my life. I checked the account number on the log and found out that yes, it was the alarm I had dispatched on. So the two signals at once were a fire. Why weren't there more signals though? Had the fire moved that fast? I winced for a second, thought about all the owners would have to go through to recover from this, and moved on to the night's new alarms.

That night, like most, was also fairly uneventful.

Six days ago I was off, but I had to come in for an hour long shift meeting before the midnight shift started. Since I wasn’t required to be at a meeting on my off day, the manager was surprised to see me. She said the president of the company had wanted to see me. I asked if that was a good or bad thing. She said it was good, but I'd have to catch him during the day.

We moved on to the training room for the meeting. Just my manager, me and one of my partners- the other was running late. That's all it takes for the night shift. We started without the late coworker, and covered some minor aches and pains of being an operator. We discussed some potential policy changes. Then my manager brought up the fire alarm. Not a big surprise that she'd mention it. Even with the percentage on false alarms, true alarms are still usually not a huge deal. They're usually property damage at most, but a full burn down- that is both tragic and rare.

This one was worse.

The manager dropped the bomb- the house was sixteen thousand square feet, worth between four and nine million dollars depending on which news you follow, and was known to the neighbors as The Chateau. And there were six people inside- two adults and four children. And just like that, my awe at the extent and expense of the property damage turned into a lump in my chest as my head fell into my hand. I had dispatched on what the press was calling the "Ann Arbor Manor Fire," and six people had died.

Four of them kids.


They were six, seven, and two eight year olds.

The room stopped for a minute...or maybe it was my heart, but my mind had to catch up to what my manager was saying. She was commending me for the way I had handled the alarm. She said she had looked at the dispatch history, so had the president of the company, so had the police and fire department, and they all agreed that I had done everything I possibly could, as fast as I could.

That's why the president had wanted to see me- to congratulate me on doing my job. It's a harsh fact of business, and no one would ever put it like this, but actually he wanted to congratulate me on saving the company from any liability to do with the fire. I was too stunned to be disgusted. My manager continued on, saying the president had wanted to present me with something, but couldn't be here this late at night. Then she said she wanted to present me with something too. She stood up, reached into her jeans pocket, pulled out a gold dollar coin, and set it on the table in front of me.

What the hell? Six people died...

I looked at it for a half second, trying to hide the revulsion I was feeling, but picked it up so as not to be rude. What the hell? Six people died, and she was giving me a dollar? I looked at it for a few seconds, then looked at her with something between blankness and sadness on my face. Sitting again, she just said, "This is what we do." She went on for another minute, and I'm just holding this dollar, rubbing my thumb over it, thinking about how utterly meaningless it is, and I'm still looking at her the same way. Something twitched across my face, and it must have been a questioning look of some kind, because again, she said with emphasis, "It's what. we. do."

The rest of the meeting was fairly normal. The late coworker showed up just before we finished. We ended the meeting, went back into the central dispatch, and I clocked out. I stepped into the manager's office briefly to thank her for the coin, trying to put more meaning in my tone than I really felt. I was still dumbfounded over the meaninglessness of what felt like blood money though.

I knew it wasn't that. My manager is smart. She's seen this before. She knows that death hits an operator hard, and I show everything on my face. I'm sure that it was obvious that I was devastated. So she gave me a token that I could focus on instead- something to diffuse me from drilling in on the deaths of six people that I didn't know of a couple of days ago. I understood that logically, but behind that, my mind was still caught in a downward spiraling maelstrom of emotions that shouldn't be there, but were.

I left to go home, but stopped off to get steak and eggs at a little breakfast joint near my apartment. I was still a little numb, and a little bit disgusted that I had just learned that six people died, but was there feeding my hunger. I was a little bit glad too, because it was a sign that I was still alive, even if I felt like little pieces of me were dying off inside. Logic was working overtime, telling me that I truly had done everything I could do. So why were my emotions battering me around like a raft in a hurricane?

I went home, looked up every piece of news about the fire I could on the Internet, until I just couldn't read anymore. I was scrolling through picture after picture of the fire. The Chateau completely engulfed in flames. The "memorial at the gate" pics that come with this kind of tragedy. Then one of them got me- a typical picture of three people hugging each other at the gate of the property- and I just sobbed aloud. And then shook, and sobbed some more, and shook, and sobbed some more, and stopped. Then sobbed again. Then stopped.

Then I turned off the computer, because I couldn't take anymore.

I tried turning my mind to something else- shelving some books that had been in boxes. That quickly turned my thoughts back to the fire, because...y'know...the fear of fire and my collection meeting. I finally gave up, laid back in the floor, and just stared at the ceiling. Lost in thought for a few moments, my hand brushed my pocket, and I felt the gold coin through the denim. I winced, then scowled, and dug into my pocket to fish out the coin.

I turned it over in my fingers for a few seconds, and thought of it more and more as blood money. Is this what six lives are worth? A dollar? My mind was still numb about it, but I thought, This really is one of the sh*ttiest things I have ever been given. What. the. f***?

What the heck was I even supposed to do with this? I'd be ashamed to spend it. But what then? Sit it on a shelf as an eternal reminder? Throw it in a drawer so I didn't have to be reminded? Maybe run across it later, and forgetting what it was for, throw it in with my other change and spend it by accident? I mean really, what the hell? Was I supposed to put it in the drink machine at work? Buy "a Coke and a smile," and try to put this horrible, horrendous, gawd awful feeling behind me? I think if I spent it on something, I would never, ever be able to buy that thing again for the sick feeling it would give me every time I tried.

These damned feelings were horrible. The worst yet since my grandmother had died. Something about losing someone who means so much to you: every death after that multiplies your grief exponentially. You feel it faster, deeper, and worse every time. Six? Six...I feel like it should put me in the f***ing ground. Four of them being kids- the youngest the same age as my nephew...could I please die now? I teared up a little, squeezed my eyes shut, squeezed the coin in my hand as if to wring the blood from it, and let my fist fall against my forehead a few times until I heard...

...birds chirping? And I was feeling...a breeze?

I opened my eyes. I was laying in grass, and it was dark. Then there was a loud "BOOM" and my head jerked to the left to follow the sound of shattering glass.

The Chateau.

I was at The Chateau!

One end of it was crumbling at the top, every window below it showing fire inside. The rest of it looked fine; the place was so huge, not everything had caught on fire yet. I recalled the news saying that the large floor plan allowed the fire to spread quickly because there was more oxygen inside to feed it. I didn't know what the hell was happening, but before I even thought about it I was running.

I remembered that the alarm had come in about three-thirty in the morning, so it was the middle of the night now- the place was probably locked up. It was gated private property though, and the news said they were loved by their neighbors. I didn't remember any burglary alarms coming in; maybe they felt secure enough to leave the doors unlocked. I reached a set of French doors off of a stone patio, and found them unlocked as I had predicted.

There were the four children, running for the stairs instead of the exit, no doubt looking for their grandparents, the fire already to this part of the building. I caught up to the two oldest and grabbed one up in each arm, causing them to scream more than they already had been. The other two reached the stairs and started up until I hollered, "WAIT!" The youngest stopped and turned to look. We locked eyes just before a loud groaning noise signaled the impending collapse of the roof, full of its several-ton beams. I hunkered down on one knee and hugged the two I had hold of close, and shouted, "Hold on, girls!" Their screams kicked up another notch with the noise, and then were a fading echo as I found myself outside, back across the lawn, no girls in tow.

The Chateau exploded again.

Glass shattered again.

I ran again.

I didn't know what happened, but I was back at the start of the fire again. I felt the coin still pressed in my fist and thought, That must be it! The coin! I couldn't explain it, and if I wasn't there, I probably wouldn't believe it, but my manager's words echoed in my head: "This is what we do." Damn! I bolted through the French doors, grabbed the screaming girls without stopping, caught up to the other two at the bottom of the stairs, knocked them down, fell on top of them, hugged all four close, and as the ceiling groaned, screamed, "HOLD ON!"

And I was back outside, across the lawn, all by myself.

Exploding Chateau, shattering glass, me running.

I gambled and won. I went to the main entrance door, closer to the stairs, and found it unlocked too. I headed off the two youngest, grabbing them up in my arms, causing them to scream. The two older girls screamed at the sight of me and took off running in opposite directions. The ceiling groaned, I hugged the two I had close, shut my eyes, and dammit! I was across the lawn by myself again.

Exploding, shattering, running.

This wasn't working. "This is what we do," I heard my manager saying. Did she know what she was doing when she gave me this damned dollar? Is this why the president himself wanted to see me? To give me this coin? To give me this chance? I remembered thinking earlier, Is this what six lives are worth? A dollar? The thought slowed me down. The ceiling was already groaning when I came through the main entrance. I could only grab one- the older of the youngest two. My shout and hers were inaudible over the noise of the house collapsing, and I was back across the lawn, still by myself.

I glanced at the gold coin as the Chateau exploded, squeezed it in my fist again as the glass shattered, and took off running as I heard my echoing thought, Is this what six lives are worth?...

But that's the thing, I thought as I reached the main entrance door, it's not saving six. The awful realization hit me as I burst through the door and the seven year old hit the stairs and started up. I locked eyes with the youngest as his momentum sent him right into my grip. The older two screamed and ran in opposite directions. I knelt down quickly to the boy, who looked more scared than I had ever seen anybody in my life. I pressed the dollar into his hand, folded his small fingers shut over it, and said, "Shut your eyes tight, and think about earlier today when you were still home with your parents." He just looked at me in terror and tried to pull away. I held him fast by the elbow, my other hand clamped over his fist with the coin in it, and shouted, "DO IT!"

He squeezed his eyes shut tight. And then he was gone.

I sank to the floor wearily, smiling tiredly. The ceiling groaned. I heard my manager saying, "It's what. we. do," followed by the hellish roar of fire, steel and stone. And then...dammit.

I woke up on the floor with my books.

That was five days ago.

And I've had the same dream every day since. Like the one I woke up from just about an hour ago.

I looked at the ceiling, shut my eyes, swallowed, inhaled deeply, and ran my fingers through my hair. I took a few deep breaths, rolled my head side-to-side, then slapped the mattress with both hands. I laid there a minute longer, then got up to start another day.

I came downstairs, poured some iced tea and turned on the computer. I clicked on the Internet, went to Google, and typed in "Ann Arbor" before the search bar auto-filled "manor fire;" something I've typed in several times a day, every day since the shift meeting. I sighed heavily. The headlines hadn't changed.

Search crews have still only found five of the six bodies.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #34.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Agents


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/25/15Marvel Fanfare #3Teenage Mutant Ninja Agents(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
TMutagenic madness.Marvel Mayhem: Operation: Nightstrike

Wearing a beige suit and dark shades, Henry Peter Gyrich watched silently as the techs rolled in two matching tables. One held a specially made device that looked a bit like a high tech shop vac, and the other held the specimens that had been so carefully chosen for this project. The techs, all in lab coats, were buzzing around the tables and the rest of the room, getting ready for the experiment.

Looking at the specimens, Henry pointed at a young, blonde tech, and said, "Jensen! What is that?"

Jensen jumped when the agent barked his name, and looked at Gyrich with some confusion. Looking at the table nervously, he answered, "I don't understand, sir. They're what you reques..."

"Not the plants, you idiot!" snarled Agent Gyrich. "That!"

"Oh!" smiled Jensen. "The ribbons. Those were Meredith's idea. It's to help tell them apart." It was obvious he had a crush on Meredith.

Henry suppressed the urge to slap him. "Might be a good idea," he said noncommittally.

"Yeah, she's great," agreed Jensen.

"Get on with it!"

With revulsion in his voice, Henry snarled, "Get on with it!"

With that, Jensen and everyone else focused in on their specific jobs. His was manning the pump on the first table. There was a brief countdown from three from someone at a panel on the wall, and then they pointed at Jensen. "Goop 'em!"

Jensen pulled a lever much like a slot machine, the pump hummed to life, and a vaguely glowing goop coated the four plants on the opposite table. Once they were covered, he shut off the machine and they waited. Nothing happened immediately. "Are we sure this is going to work?" asked Gyrich.

"Well," started Jensen, "they're called 'experiments' for a reason. This goop hit a bat flying around a streetlight and a kid who tackled an old man out of the way of our truck, and it produced one of the finest agents S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever had."

"Murdock's good," agreed Gyrich. "But plants?" The four small plants just sat there, the glow of the goop pulsing slowly.

"We couldn't very well purposely try this on humans, could we?" answered Jensen.

"No, of course not." Henry sounded disappointed.

Jensen continued, "Right, and the animal rights whiners would go into spasms if we tried it on animals...although Meredith had the cutest little turtles picked out before that idea got axed."

"...we can make an unlimited amount of footsoldiers for S.H.I.E.L.D."

"Jensen!" snapped the agent.

"Oh! Uh, right. Anyway, if this works, we can make an unlimited amount of footsoldiers for S.H.I.E.LD."

"Plants were really our best option?" asked Gyrich.

"Well, we have a vampire problem right now. Something to do with those mutants out of Westchester," Jensen shrugged. "So the wooden limbs will be lethal to those bloodsuckers."

Gyrich raised an eyebrow. "Great. Saved by Pinocchio. And how are we making them mobile?"

"The goop, of course. And DNA culled from the brightest young minds our education system has to offer. 'Lice checks' allowed us to collect what we needed." Jensen waggled his eyebrows when he said "lice checks."

Gyrich again suppressed the urge to slap him. Then he pointed and hollered, "Look!"

The goop moved. The plants shuddered. Then they swayed. Then they bent and moved in ways not natural for plants. They grew limbs that they used like hands, and they stepped from their buckets, roots serving as legs and feet. Eyes and other facial features formed in the foliage, and then they grew to about five foot seven inches each. They started changing shapes, forming into various shaped plants- cats, chameleons, squirrels, etc.

The room held its breath- even Gyrich- then the techs burst out into cheers and whoops, high fiving each other.

"It's worked!" shouted Jensen. "Agent Gyrich, I give you plant soldiers that can camouflage themselves! I give you Teenage Mutant Ninja Topiaries!"

"Ninja?" asked Gyrich.

"I will teach them that."

"I will teach them that," said a quiet voice from behind him.

Henry spun to see a four foot tall rat with a red robe and a walking stick. "What the hell is that?" he exclaimed.

Jensen sounded a little sheepish. "Um, well, that old man that Murdock saved? He was carrying a pet rat, and they got gooped too. Turns out he's a ninja master."

Gyrich looked at Jensen incredulously. Then back to the rat.

Bowing his head slightly, the rat said, "My name is Master Splinter."

Henry looked at Splinter for a few moments, saying nothing. Then, "A 'ninja master,' huh? And you couldn't dodge a truck on your own?"

The rat seemed to smile as it shrugged. "Had I done that, our young Mister Murdock could not fulfill his destiny, could he?"

"He trained Murdock, sir."

Gyrich took his shades off and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. He then glanced at Jensen.

Jensen leaned in and said, "He trained Murdock, sir."

Henry looked at Jensen blankly, remembering one of Murdock's first missions against Hydra, then nodded. Putting his shades back on, he glanced again at the Topiaries. Just before he headed for the door, he looked at the rat and said, "Do it."

Next Issue: ?-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #29.

I Wish You Could Remember


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/25/15CB 1-ShotsI Wish You Could Remember(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
MGun violence; murders. Arms dealing. Fighting. Petty theft.
The Claw of the Crab

Benjamin "Benny" Factor is not a nice man. He's been a gangster since he was old enough to make his own bad decisions. He began as muscle for pushers, then started dealing drugs himself, and eventually went into moving all kinds of merchandise- chiefly, guns. He was referring to himself as being in "import/ export" before that became a bad joke. It soon became a legitimate claim though, just to cover his illegal activities. Underlings wound up running the illegal stuff for him so he couldn't be connected to anything, and before he knew it, he was a respected businessman, and the cops weren't able to prove jack.

That doesn't mean that his hands were clean. Far from it. His organization- the illegal one- started being harassed by a vigilante known as The Blue Crab. She broke up a handful of important deals with a blue spotlight of a crab claw and a lot of fighting. She dropped off the radar for awhile, but was finally caught by Horace and Harry Fly, when she tried to bust up a weapons deal. They called Mr. Factor in, and Benny put the cap in her himself.


What was she even doing back in costume?

Horace Crabb was shocked when the police showed up at his door, and devastated when they told him that Merilyn was dead. He knew that she was The Blue Crab, but a gunshot? After all the crime she had stopped over the years? After all the things she had seen with The Statesmen? He wondered numbly who they would get to represent Maryland now. Then the weight of realization crashed in on him, and he wondered what the hell he was going to tell the girls. They were only four and five. How do you tell children that their mommy is gone? What was she even doing back in costume? She had only been in remission a few months. He slumped into a chair and buried his face in his hands. The detectives made their condolences and departed.


And that's how Cancer was born.

Merilyn's death ate at Horace for a year. The police were no closer to answers than they were when she was killed, and the girls were only starting to approach normal again. He was fed up. He dragged a footlocker from the closet, fished a key from the top drawer of Merilyn's dresser, and opened it up. He couldn't fit into her costume of course, but he could make use of her spotlight and her mask. He pulled leather motorcycle pants from the closet, along with a bomber jacket with his Zodiac sign on it. A pair of steel toed boots, his riding gloves, and the gun from his nightstand drawer. It was time for some answers. And this is how Cancer was born.

Horace made more waves and did more damage than his wife had done, in a short amount of time, because he was willing to use more violent methods. He rattled Benny's crew. They knew Cancer was someone out for revenge, because he was using The Blue Crab's old spotlight, and he made it known he was looking for her killer. No one dared give Benny Factor up though.

Anger makes a person careless though. He hadn't been at it a year when Cancer was caught and taken to Benny Factor at one of his dockside warehouses. They got on a boat, motored out past the three mile limit, and unmasked the vigilante. Benny capped Horace with his own gun, and tossed both over the side. Police found him washed up on the beach a day later.


Later that night, police showed up at the door and whisked Annie and Sandy Crabb off to Child Protective Services. A social worker named Theresa, appalled that the officers hadn't told the girls what was going on, found that she now had the unpleasant task of telling these children that their father was dead. Sandy cried, but Annie was numb. She called her sister a crybaby and became angry with the social worker. Terrie let them cry and scream for two hours before they were worn out, and then they were taken to a state orphanage while authorities tried to find next of kin.

The girls were made wards of the state when no relatives were found. This lasted for a couple of years, until a janitor named James yelled at Annie for walking across his wet floor with muddy shoes. She scuffed her shoes all over the floor, then kicked the janitor in the shin. He grabbed for her, but she pulled away and kicked him in the other shin. Jim lunged forward, but slipped on the wet floor and fell. On the way down, he hit his head on the corner of the metal wringer of his mop bucket. Then he hit the floor, and he didn't move.

Annie grabbed Sandy's hand and ran, and they left the orphanage. Sandy protested, saying they could tell the headmistress that it was an accident, but Annie insisted they had to run. She said they would separate her and Sandy if they knew what happened. So they ran. When they couldn't run anymore, they hid in an alleyway, and at eight and nine years old, this was the beginning of them living on the streets.


...he hadn't felt it come off of his wrist.

They had been living on the streets for four years when Benny caught Sandy trying to lift his wallet. When she tossed Annie his watch he was surprised and impressed, because he hadn't felt it come off of his wrist. Harry caught Annie before she could get away. Benny took his watch and wallet back, but instead of getting angry with the girls, he offered them a meal. Figuring it was better than getting arrested, they nervously accepted.

Benny talked to them while they ate. Like any gangster worth his chops, he had cops on his payroll. He knew that Cancer and The Blue Crab were Horace and Merilyn Crabb. So when he learned Annie and Sandy's names, he connected them as the orphaned children immediately, and had an idea. He offered to take them in, promising they'd never have to live on the streets again, and that they could even learn his business if they wanted. Benny figured it would be sweet revenge to turn his enemies' kids into gangsters. When the girls accepted, he smiled to himself. They'd be turning over in their graves.

Annie knew who Benny was too though. And she also had an idea.


Benny was true to his word, as it served his revenge. He taught the girls everything about his illegal businesses, and they came up much the same way he did. They started as runners for various things, mostly drugs, and they reported to Horace Fly. Although Benny kept a close eye on what he considered his personal project of corrupting these girls.

Horace taught them how to shoot.

Annie didn't like Horace Fly. He had the same name as her dad, but he was a jerk. She called him Horse Fly, which he didn't much care for. His brother, Harry, she liked. He was called Harry the House, because he was so big. Sandy pointed out that this would make him House Fly, and Harry thought that was funny. Harry taught the girls how to fight, and Horace taught them how to shoot.

Annie played Benny's game, and she and Sandy kept him close. All the while, Annie kept focused on the memory of her father talking about Benny Factor and his involvement in her mom's death. Sandy still woke up crying over it sometimes, and Annie had called her crybaby so much that the term had become affectionate between them. So much so that Crybaby had become her nickname. She cried at everything- happy moments, sad movies, and even when she was angry. So Annie kept her eyes and ears open, looking for any information she could to prove that her dad was right. She wanted to give her sister a reason to stop crying.

They were not completely unaffected though. Sandy kind of fell into a bodyguard role for Benny, and Annie became one of his most trusted enforcers. Benny considered their corruption complete when they started killing for him. Sandy only killed to defend Benny from attack, but Annie actually carried out hits for him. She became known as The Orphan.

The sick son of a...he took pictures!

They worked for Benny for ten years before Annie finally ran across the information she had been looking for. Actually, she didn't find it herself. One of Benny's enemies had sent an enforcer of their own named The Mute to steal the contents of his safe. Sandy was stalking her through the halls of the office when The Mute got the drop on her.

Before she could fire, Annie cocked a gun to her head and said, "I've been made an orphan once. I didn't care for it much. Drop the gun." Taking The Mute's weapon and taking back Benny's documents, Annie leafed through them, and found the proof she had been looking for- pictures. The sick son of a... he took pictures! She let The Mute go.


"I wish you could remember this moment as much as I will..."

Benny was throwing a party- a charity function for his legitimate businesses. He had to keep up appearances, after all. This was a New Year's Eve party that he hosted every year in his penthouse. It was tradition that he personally set off the fireworks from the roof of the neighboring building. It was there that Annie and Sandy confronted him.

Annie cracked him across the jaw with her gun, and threw the pictures down in front of him. Sandy held him at gunpoint so he didn't try anything. He pleaded. He begged. He bargained. And when none of that worked he became angry. "I've been like a father to you!" he shouted.

Annie looked at him coldly and said, "A father, Benny? I'm an orphan, remember?"

The hope left Benny's face as Annie turned away. He looked up at Sandy again. With fat tears streaming down her face, she looked at him coldly and said, "I wish you could remember this moment as much as I will..."

And that was when Benny Factor died.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #26.

Captain Marvel Bunny and the Hill of Holes


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/23/151st Issue Special #4Captain Marvel Bunny and the Hill of Holes(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
ECartoon mischief to be sure. Weakening of universal and fourth wall boundaries.

Captain Marvel Bunny and Invincible The Ibis were fighting a strange reptilian foe- a black snake with a yellow underbelly in the jagged pattern of a lightning bolt. He was as strong as the Captain, but with additional powers the bunny couldn't explain. Even with the combo of The Marvel Bunny's might and Invincible's Ibistick, they were having trouble with this slithery villain.

Invincible raised his Ibistick and fired a magical bolt at the snake, but he coiled like a spring and bounced out of the way. When he came down from his bounce, he trapped Invincible in his embrace. The snake squeezed until the Ibistick dropped from the hero's grip, then grabbed the end of the bird's red turban in his mouth, and coiled around Invincible at super speed. When he was done, The Ibis was a big red mummy.

"You'll never defeat Black Adar, Bunny!"

The snake coiled before the crimson bundle, pleased with himself. Captain Marvel Bunny took that moment to throw a punch at the snake, but it moved at super speed, flying into the air. "Ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ssss," came the stuttering hiss of the snake's laughter. "You'll never defeat Black Adar, Bunny!"

Captain Marvel Bunny lunged into the sky, shouting, "You don't mind if I try, do y-ooop!" Black Adar had grabbed the Captain's wrist with his tail and flipped him through the air. A deafening crash signaled the Captain's abrupt halt in the wall of a nearby building.

As the Rabbit of Righteousness shook off the stunning blow, the Serpent of Sin asked, "Don't you know I have the same power as you? Do you know what's good about that?" Before the Captain could respond, Black Adar zigzagged his body like a lightning bolt and with similar speed, he struck The Marvel Bunny in the chest.

The hero was shocked to find that he had been turned back into Hoppy! He went to shout the word that would change him back, but Black Adar quickly coiled around his body, one firm coil over his mouth. "Ah, ah, ahhh," scolded the snake. "We can't have you saying your magic word, Hoppy." The bunny's eyes went wide when he heard his name. "Oh, don't look so shocked. The narrator let it slip seven sentences ago."

!!!...Sorry, Hoppy.

"Fret not, you'll get to change back soon." Still firmly coiled around our hero, Black Adar flew to a spot at the edge of Fawncett City, landing before a familiar burrow. "It was a bolthole like this that led me to the Rock of Eternity, centuries ago," said the snake. "This is how you found him, yes?" Unable to answer, Hoppy just glared at the snake. "Well, only he has the answer you need of how to stop me," taunted the serpent, "but don't think I'm going to make that easy for you."

"This is a power that all of us cartoon snakes have, y'know."

Swaying his head back and forth before Hoppy, the snake continued, "This is a power that all of us cartoon snakes have, y'know." With that, concentric circles started spinning in Black Adar's eyes, and he leaned close to Hoppy until the bunny's eyes matched his own. "When next you look at this hillside, Hoppy, you will see many burrows, and you'll have to try them all to find the old guy. But don't worry, when you find a wrong one, all you have to do is say your magic word, and instead of changing back, you'll be transported back here to try another hole." Eyes still spinning, the enthralled rabbit nodded weakly.

"But you need to move quickly," warned the snake, "because the Internet attention span is really short." Coiling around to one of the bunny's ears, Black Adar confided, "I'd wink at the reader, but I don't have any eyelids." With that, he uncoiled from around Hoppy at super speed, leaving the bunny spinning like a top while he flew away.

He immediately shouted, "SHAZAM!" and dove into the nearest burrow.

Hoppy spun for several seconds, then wobbled, then plopped down on his cottontail. His eyes still spinning and his upper body still wobbling back-and-forth slightly, he put one paw to his head, shut his eyes tightly, and shook his head vigorously. When his body-wobble slowed, he opened his eyes and the hypnotic effects were gone. Hoppy snapped his head around to the hill, now dotted with holes. He immediately shouted, "SHAZAM!" and dove into the nearest burrow.


As soon as Captain Marvel Bunny appeared in this reality, he heard maniacal laughter followed by, "It worked! It worked! The Moleholeborer has drilled into another dimension, bringing me a minion capable of defeating that pesky porker..."

"Hey! Big ears here! Kind of sensitive!" the Bunny shouted. He then looked down at a small animal with white goggles and a green cape, and asked, "Who are you?"

"I?!" shouted the villain. "I am The Mole, man! I am the underminer of morals! I am boring into the very fabric of..." and that was when The Captain backhanded him into a nearby tunnel wall.

"You're boring alright," he agreed.

"Hey! That's Spider-Ham to you, too!"

"Hey! Who are you and why are you defeating my villain?" a voice demanded.

Captain Marvel Bunny focused his keen eyesight down the dark tunnel until he spied a pig in a red and blue costume with white eyepatches. "Ah, you must be the pesky porker?" he asked.

"That's Spider-Ham to you, pal," answered the pesky porker. "Hey! That's Spider-Ham to you, too!"

???...Fine, I'll be over here, being quiet. See how far your story gets without me.

"I'm Captain Marvel Bunny."

"I'm your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Ham. I see you've already met The Mole."

"Yes, but I was sent here by a villain of my own and need to get back."

"If anyone can figure out how to travel to another reality, it would have to be Deer Dicharrs, of the Fawntastic Four. Let's drop The Mole off to the police, and we'll go see him."

"Um, I don't know if...wait. What about him?"

"Who? Oh...what about him?"

"Jumping Jellyf...mmf!"


Hm? Oh, me? Oh! Oh yeah! <ahem> Captain Marvel Bunny and Spider-Ham...

Spider-Ham nodded approvingly.

Captain Marvel Bunny and Spider-Ham headed to the surface. They were just leaving police headquarters when The Captain looked down the street and started to shout, "Jumping Jellyf...mmf!" but was interrupted by a web muffling his mouth.

"I don't think our lawyers will let us say that," chided Spider-Ham.

The Captain scowled at the hero and ripped the webbing from his mouth. "No! Look!" he said, pointing down the street. "Jumping Jellyfish!" And sure enough, coming down the street were two giant, jumping, bouncing jellyfish, bouncing off of buildings as well as the sidewalk. "That must be what The Mole's Moleholeborer actually brought here! Let's wrap this up quick," said The Captain. He started forward, but another web grabbed his shoulder.

"Touch those slimy things?"

"Touch those slimy things? Are you kidding? I have a better idea." Captain Marvel Bunny just looked at Spider-Ham as he strolled forward with his hands clasped behind his back. "Jellyfish!" he shouted. "That's perfect! Now where did I put my Peanutbutterfish? This will be a great snack!"

The two jellyfish stopped mid-bounce, one in a lean off the sidewalk, the other about to leap from the side of a building. Their bulbous heads turned to each other, they shook, and then both jumped, spinning faster and faster until they disappeared from this reality.

"If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it," admitted The Captain. "Well, time for me to go. Until we meet again, Spider-Ham."

"Until then, Captain," answered Spider-Ham.

The two heroes shook hands, Captain Marvel Bunny shouted, "SHAZAM!" and was gone. Appearing once again before the hill of holes, he immediately dove into another burrow.

Just Left of Albuquerque:
"So, Taz will be here in a second...I'll see you in two weeks."

"Eh, what's up, doc?" asked a naked rabbit. "You must be the temp, while I go on vacation. Heyyyy, fancy duds, doc!" He then chomped on a carrot while he looked the hero over. In the distance, a small brown tornado was moving towards them. "So, Taz will be here in a second. Don't worry, his bark is worse than his bite, doc. Thanks for filling in for me, and I'll see you in two weeks. Tah tah!" With that, the grey and white rabbit dove into the ground and burrowed away.

"What in the world?" asked The Captain.

"Waaaabiiiit!" came the slobbering chatter of the brown tornado, now stopped beside him. Not a tornado at all, he was an also naked brown Tasmanian Devil.

"Excuse me?" asked Captain Marvel Bunny.


"WABBIT!" hollered Taz, as he quickly tied a napkin around his neck and grabbed The Marvel Bunny's arm. Before The Captain could say anything, Taz's mouth opened wide and clamped down on Cap's arm. There was a loud clanking sound, then the teeth cracked, and fell out of Taz's mouth. Taz looked at the pile of teeth, then at the hero, who just shrugged. Snatching the bib from his neck, he quickly scooped the pile of teeth into it, creating a small sack. He then spun and zipped away, trailed only by a, "Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!"

The Captain just looked after him. "Oh for the luvva...SHAZAM!" Disappearing once again and reappearing at the hill, he dove into another hole.

The World Tree:
"Who dares to intrude on Toucan the Terrible?"

Seeing a giant squirrel scurry up the humongous tree, he spied a giant red bird with four eyes, staring at him. "Who dares to intrude on Toucan the Terrible?"

"Oh, heck no. SHAZAM!" and he disappeaeard again.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #28.

The Rise of the House of Toucan


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/22/15CB 1-ShotsThe Rise of the House of Toucan(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
TDestruction of your childhood memories. Bird on squirrel violence.

A bird with a brightly colored beak sits brooding among the branches of the World Tree. He does not look happy.

"Hello, Ratatosk."

A squirrel scampers down from the higher branches and stops beside him. He notices that whatever the bird is looking at, it seems to be an infinity away. “Sam?” he asks.

The bird cocks an eye his way only slightly, and greets the squirrel without enthusiasm, “Hello, Ratatosk.”

“What are you doing here?” Ratatosk asked, moving from side to side a couple of times. Sam just looked at him. “Odin wants to know.”

“Odin?” gruffed the bird. “Since when does Odin take notice of any bird besides his ravens?”

Ratatosk scurried to the underside of the limb, as if dodging something. A few moments later he poked his head back around, and looked anxiously at the higher limbs, his head jerking first to one side, then the other as he peered between the branches. Cautiously climbing back to the topside of the branch, he gave one more nervous glance upwards, then stepped a little closer to Sam. “Since the bird is from another pantheon,” scolded the squirrel. “Now I ask again, what are you doing here?”

"...all he can talk about are the Six Houses!"

Sam looked perturbed, and waved his wings towards the messenger. “Oh, quit twitching your tail, tree rat! We all have claim to the World Tree. I know it, you know it, and Odin certainly knows it.” Ratatosk looked horrified, and in a frenzy did a couple of laps around the branch. Sam ignored him as he settled back down on his haunches and resumed his watch into the abyss.

“At any rate, I just came here for some perspective.” Sam glanced at the squirrel who had stopped his scramble to look at him quizzically, then added, “And to get away from Xibalba’s blathering.” He craned his neck downwards and shouted into the abyss, “King of the underworld for millennia on end! And still all he can talk about are the Six Houses! Like they’re the only ones who live there! Get. a. clue!” screeched the bird.

Ratatosk gasped, and his eyes got big. “You live in the nether realms, Sam?”

Sam jerked his head back around to the squirrel. “Why is that so hard to believe?” he demanded.

Ratatosk deflated a little, and answered, “Well, it’s just that…that…”

“That what?” bellowed Sam, stepping closer.

“…That…you-you’re…a toucan,” finished the squirrel. Withering a little further under Sam’s gaze, he added weakly, “You just don’t see many brightly colored netherworlders, is all.” Ratatosk reflexively started scanning the lower branches of the World Tree, avoiding the bird’s gaze.

"I'm the great god Fallayershnozl!"

Sam was fuming. “And why not?” he screamed. “Do you know who I am? I’m the great god Fallayershnozl! I'm the Pied Piper of Morning! Children follow me blindly for the promised taste of something I never give them! There’s no cherry in those loops! No orange! No anything! They’re all the same flavor! But they love them! They love me! Then they beg their parents to buy them more! I say, ‘Follow my nose,’ and those kids will follow me anywhere! Anywhere!” Leaning from the branch, Sam screams again into the abyss, “Let’s see Xibalba do that!” As he straightened back up, his tailfeathers fell away, and the skin underneath was red.

“Uh, Sam…” started Ratatosk.

"I not only got humans to folllow me, I got other humans to help me!"

“Do you know how hard it is for someone from the nether realms to get humans to follow them?” interrupted Sam. “It’s near impossible!” he shouted, throwing his wings wide. As he did so, the feathers at his wingtips flew outwards, leaving more red skin underneath. “I not only got humans to follow me, I got other humans to help me! An advertising agency will sell their souls for a buck…and did,” he cooed. “The love of money really is the root of all evil, you know.” He rubbed his wings together, clearly savoring the memory, and more feathers fell from his wings, leaving bright red skin underneath.

Ratatosk laid his ears back a little, and took a few steps backwards. Sam continued to rant.

"Is that good enough for Xibalba though? Noooo!"

“Is that good enough for Xibalba though? Noooo! ‘That’s not the way we do things, Sam.’” More feathers fell away.

“‘That’s too commercial, Sam.’” Great tufts fell away, and nothing but bright red skin underneath.

“‘We already have Six Houses, Sam.’” The toucan began to grow as he ranted, towering over Ratatosk like the World Tree itself.

“‘You’re just a toucan, Sam!’” A second pair of eyes appeared just over his first pair, and they started glowing with yellow energy.

"Where are you going, tree rat?"

“Well? I’m not ‘just a toucan’ anymore, AM I?” he bellowed, shaking the boughs of the World Tree with his thunderous voice.

“Today is the start of Toucan House! Today marks the beginning of the time of Toucan! Beware, Xibalba! BEWARE THE POWER OF TOUCAN THE TERRIBLE!” The giant red toucan roared with laughter, and his top pair of eyes smoldered with energy.

Ratatosk scampered backwards as quick as he could, and started to climb the World Tree. Toucan the Terrible spotted him, and his voice echoed, “Where are you going, tree rat?” His top eyes glowed brightly, and then energy beams lanced outwards and reduced the squirrel to a pile of ash.

The ash pile smoldered for a few seconds, then shifted slightly, and Ratatosk rose again from his own demise, shaking the remaining ashes from his fur. “You know, that’s not very nice,” he said to the giant toucan.

"Scamper back to Odin and tell him..."

Toucan the Terrible smiled cruelly and chuckled fearsomely. “Be glad I have use for you, Messenger. Scamper back to Odin and tell him to mind his own pantheon, and Toucan the Terrible will mind his. Tell him to hope that I do not decide I want another pantheon as well. Now begone.”

Ratatosk looked on his former friend Sam in horror. Then he bolted up the trunk of the World Tree, tail twitching the entire way.

Toucan the Terrible laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #27.

Peppy: The Bunny From Beyond!


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/21/15CB 1-ShotsPeppy: The Bunny From Beyond!(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
TAllusions to bunny sex. Child endangerment. Blasters. Brawling. Lawnmower on bunny violence.

The name's Peppy, and I'm a space bunny. How's that happen, you ask? It's like this: I died in a horrible lawnmower accident, and... and... and there were ears and fur everywhere... everywhere! It was... h-horrible. Brr. But Little Jimmy didn't know that. What Little Jimmy's parents told him was that I went to Heaven, only they explained it as "a magical place in the sky."

It turns out a little boy's belief is a powerful thing. So powerful in fact, that I was resurrected and found myself in "a magical place in the sky" - space. The only thing it doesn't have is Jimmy, and I miss Jimmy. I fear I've seen the last of him, but I hope to get back to him someday.

In the meantime, there's space. This sector of it is called Hog Heaven. Yeah, I was expecting "Hare Heaven" too, but it turns out there's all kinds of animals here, and if you don't think it's magical, then you've obviously never been here.

Where else can a rabbit live side-by-side with predators and be free from petty peddlers trying to take my feet for keychains? Where else can I become hero to a planet full of green, amazonian jackrabbits with ears that go on for days? Where else is it possible that they didn't realize that the giant, monster carrots that were terrorizing them would taste so good?

Contrary to what my resurrection might tell you, I am in rabbit heaven, because I have been in carrots and cosmic cottontail ever since! Yep, I've still got my feet, and all of 'em are lucky, if you get the way my whiskers waggle. On a planet of alien angora, I am the Angoran's chief consort, and I just keep going, and going, and... <sigh> let's just say that pink fella with the drum has nothing on me. The afterlife is good! Six months and seven hundred twenty Angoran Amazons later, I've got eight thousand six hundred forty mouths to feed, and with no predators in sight, that number's only gonna grow, because... well... I am a rabbit. Don't judge me.

Still, even in the afterlife, it can't be the bunny hop all the time. Fortunately, the biggest business in space is import/export, and the biggest export from Angora are the "Halfbreed Hares of Hog Heaven!" So my problem is also my solution... and okayjudgemealittle. Moving on...


...I was on a delivery run in the Aluminum Falcon with my partner- a teacup terrier named Chewtoy. We had a dozen litters of Halfbreeds with us, a couple of stray cats named Bandit and Princess, and a resourceful robot hedgehog named Koosh. We had an android goldfish named Deep-CPO with us too, but frankly, he was annoying, so we used him for spare parts for the Falcon.

Unfortunately, one of the parts we needed was a voice response unit, so we were stuck with his annoying, know-it-all chatter, and he still sounded like he was underwater. Guess what I was planning to buy first, after we got paid for that delivery? Deep-C' could tell you with a ninety-nine-point-four percent probability of being right, as he'd tell you every chance you gave him. At the time, the danged thing was chuckling, and combined with that underwater burble of his, it was really a quite disturbing sound. "What's so funny, fish brain?"

"Oh my, sir, I was just considering the irony- I've gone from circling the fishbowl to swimming the ocean of space. An android fish out of water, as it were. A little fish in a much bigger pond. A..."

"Shut up!" I broke in. "I'm sorry I asked."

"No need to apologize, sir. I know I can go on a bit at times, but I shall endeavor to..."

"Shut up!" I interrupted. "Shut up! Shut. up! Shut! Up!"

"Well! There's no need to be rude, s..."

"Shutupshutupshutuuuuup!" I gasped. I slumped in my chair and my ears drooped a little. "Stupid koi-toy," I muttered.

"I heard that, sir."


While I was arguing with the bane of my existence, Bandit and Princess were playing a game with Chewtoy. It wasn't so much a "game," as Chewtoy would try to be fierce and intimidating to them (they were cats, after all) and they'd boredly bat him away like the mouse that he almost is.

"Hey!" I shouted. "Let the teacup win!"

Bandit, a Siamese, looked at me with disdain. "You're kidding, right?"

My ears perked a bit as I looked at him very seriously and said, "Let. the teacup. win. He takes it personally."

The other cat, a short-haired, light colored calico, scoffed. "You know that's just Napoleon syndrome, right? You let him get away with that?"

"Hey, Princess, my ship, my rules. You don't like it, you're free to get out and walk."

Chewtoy gruffed indignantly at the two cats, who growled in return. "Chewie! Playtime's over. We're there." I turned towards the viewport, took in the magnificent floating city that the Falcon was closing in on, and announced, "Cloud Nine."


Cloud Nine

We were exiting the docking bay where workers were unloading the Halfbreeds, when we heard, "Peppy! You old scoundrel! Where have you been keeping yourself?" Flanked by guards, the leader of Cloud Nine slithered towards us.

My whiskers twitched as I shook my head and said, "Boa Calrissian, you slimy snake! How are you?" I hugged the snake warmly.

He coiled around me once and squeezed just a little too tight. "You brought my snacks, right?"

"Sure I did. Eat all you want, I'll make more." Okayjudgemealot. "What do they taste like, anyway? Chicken?"

"It doesn't matter. I swallow them whole anyway," hissed Boa. He slackened his coil and withdrew. Then he flicked his tongue contemplatively a few times, before adding, "What's a chicken?"

"Chewtoy on bath night," I quipped. Chewie whined slightly, then wuffed his perturbance.

Boa swayed his head towards my teacup partner and said with a smile, "I might have to try that sometime." His tongue flicked Chewie's way, almost brushing my partner's nose.

Chewie went into a yapping fit, and Princess stepped up with a scowl and yelled, "Hey! You leave him alone!"

Boa coiled himself reflexively and swayed a bit as he looked at Princess and Bandit. "Oh look," he said, "Chinese takeout." Princess hissed, Bandit let out a low growl, and Boa just smiled as he uncoiled and started slithering back the way he came. "Come on, Peppy, let's go get your money."

I cocked my head over my shoulder, one ear cocked back with it, the other lazing over my forehead, and said, "Don't get lost you three, but...y'know...get lost." I waved over my shoulder and followed after Boa.


Once Boa and I had worked out the credits for the sale of the Halfbreeds, I contacted Chewtoy, Princess and Bandit, and told them to meet us back at the docking bay. Boa and I were halfway there when we were met by a large fish in black armor and a black helmet that kept him breathing when he was out of the water. "Dolph' Vader!" gasped Boa.

The dolphin inside the armor chittered madly, but it was translated by the helmet, "Why do you act surprised, Calrissian? I've come for Peppy, as we agreed."

"As you what now?" I asked, looking at Boa.

The snake's tongue flicked nervously, and he looked at me and hissed, "Sorry, Peppy. It was you or Cloud Nine. I've got a lot of animals to look after up here." I wasn't happy, but I couldn't really be mad.

"Peppy, for crimes against the Animal Empire, I'm taking you into custody," declared Dolph' Vader. "Take him." On his command, a small flock of white birds in armor surrounded me for the escort back to the docking bay.

"Hey, what is this?" asked Boa. "This was to be done quietly. No troop presence. That was the deal."

"I do what needs to be done," said the helmet, as the dark lord of the fish chittered inside it. "Or perhaps I need to leave some troops here, to oversee operations?"

Boa undulated from side-to-side uncomfortably, but dropped his head slightly as he replied, "I can see you've done what you had to."

"Good," replied Dolph'. "Bring him." The birds marched in unison as we headed to the docking bay, their talons making an odd click on the hard tiles of the floor.


When we reached the docking bay, we were met by Chewtoy. Chewtoy growled as menacingly as a teacup can. "Chewie, no!" I called. "Just get back to the ship." He growled again. "Now, Chewie!"

Just then, Princess and Bandit exited the ship. Bandit took one look at us and back arched, said, "Are those...?"

Princess smiled, bared her teeth, and finished his sentence, "...Storktroopers! We've got this!" And with that they bounded across the room at the flock of armored birds.

Behind them, Chewie growled again, his high pitched little teacup voice getting deeper, and deeper still as he shuddered and grew, until his body and his growl was that of a bear. He charged my captors. I smiled and looked at the fish lord, "That's my partner."

It was a short fight. Once Chewie and the strays had the Storktroopers on the ropes, Boa and his officers joined in the fight, and Dolph' Vader and his remaining troops retreated.

Boa was squeezing one last trooper until their armor cracked, and then he dropped them to the floor. He swayed a bit with excitement, and then looking at me, his tongue flicked and he said, "We should talk." Without another word, he started slithering for the docking bay door, headed back to his office.

My ears had been drooping forward a bit, since the fighting died down. When the snake spoke to me, they perked up again. I gritted my teeth and said, "I should think so," and I headed after him.


I slammed my blaster on Boa's desk and seethed, "Start talking...pal."

Boa quickly circled the trunk of a small tree rooted behind his desk, and settled calmly into it's lowest branches, "Oh calm down, Peppy. I did what was best for my city and you know it. I could see it in your eyes when we were with Vader."

My ears flattened against the back of my head as I glowered at Boa, but then I nodded. "Fine. What did you have to say then?"

Boa's head tilted to one side as his tail pushed a few buttons to bring up some images on the surface of the desk. "I looked into your problem, since I figured you wouldn't actually be going with Dolph' Vader." He smiled, and I narrowed my eyes at him again, warning him not to push my patience.

His head bobbed again. "It's Jimmy. Something's come up."

All the anger left me. "What? Jimmy? You've kept track?" I was dumbfounded.

"Hey, we're friends, right? I've had my sources looking for any possible way to get you back with Jimmy. We may have found one."

I looked at the snake with a new respect, but I was still shocked. "H-how? You know the story: 'ears and fur everywhere.' How could I go back?"

Boa smiled, and his head extended out from the tree a bit, face level with mine. "He's developing an imaginary friend; a superhero. You could be the spirit and personality of that friend. You're perfectly suited for it." He smiled.

The Aluminum Falcon

"A superhero? Me? What's the name?" I asked.

Boa's tongue flicked. "You're not going to believe it." He told me. He was right, I couldn't believe it. "You interested?"

I nodded. I was stunned by it. Jimmy. I was going back to Texas again. I was going to see Jimmy again.


Just like that, I was back, and The Aluminum Falcon was born. Jimmy and I made the most of it, and our adventures were legend. All I can say is thank goodness for little boys.

I did miss Hog Heaven though. Nice thing about being an imaginary friend- I can go back anytime I want. Jimmy has another adventure planned though, so...not just yet.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #22.

Really hope you folks enjoyed it. I had fun with this one. :)


Solomon Seal #2: I Knew I Was Gonna Miss Her

DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/18/15Solomon Seal #2I Knew I Was Gonna Miss Her(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
TMild swearing. Allusions to sex. Violence- vampire and gun.The Octopus in My Office

I stood in the doorway of the lab, both horrified and crestfallen at what I was seeing. Doctor Madsen was splayed across a table with no heed of the test tubes, beakers or other equipment that were standing on it before she was tossed there. There was no blood. Just a bruised wound at his neck, and a pained look locked on his face. Behind that table, Doctor Vozot had Doctor Williams bent backwards over a counter, pulling his head to one side with one hand, wrenching his arm behind him with the other. Williams flailed less and less as Vozot drained the blood from his neck.

Clearly, Jeanine had been here. "Damn," I said quietly. I had managed to hide them for six months since she found out I had doctors trying to crack the problem of vampirism. How the hell had she found this place?

I about jumped out of my hat and trenchcoat when I heard, "I bet you're wondering how I found this place."

Holy hell! Jeanine!

"Relax, Seal, I've eaten already," she smirked. "I've known where they were for six months."

I couldn't keep my thoughts off of my face. Surprise that she had kept that fact from me. Upset that I hadn't been as good at hiding them as I had thought. Surprise that she hadn't killed them six months ago. Confused about why she had waited until now to do so. I just looked at her, with all of this playing out on my face.

"Hellooo?" she said, pointing both hands at her face. "Ancient, powerful vampire here? Can turn to mist and follow you anywhere, sneakier than the sneakiest ninja? Can track one smell in a million? Especially blood?"

My face was now clearly showing that I knew how much of a fool I had been to think that I could fool her. I have these same abilities. I really should have known.

"By the way," Jeanine added. "Don't think I don't know it was Hudson that shot me. I know his smell too. Him, you, Tito." She smirked again at his nickname. "Relatives have scent markers just as telling as DNA. I knew he was the shooter as soon as I went out the window."

I knew how to track through smell, but I didn't know that about the scent markers. I had never paid it much atten...

"You're lucky I didn't kill him," Jeanine said, interrupting my thoughts. She fixed me with a dangerous look.

I looked at her for a long couple of seconds before drawing in a breath and nodding in acknowledgment. "Why didn't you?"

Jeanine shoved me against the doorframe, the noise of which drew the vampire doctor's attention. He looked our way hungrily, but Jeanine held up an index finger in a halting motion and told him, "Stay." The doctor obeyed. Turning back to me, she said, "The same reason I only turned you instead of killing you, you dope! I like you!"

Tilting a thumb in the doctor's direction, I said, "That why you turned him too?"

Jeanine grabbed my face in one hand and squeezed it into a fish-faced look to quiet me. "I like you, Solomon, but don't test my patience when I'm angry."

Still fish-faced, I twitched my eyebrows and managed, "O-hay." She let me go, and I flexed my newly freed jaw, rubbing it slightly on one side.

Her own jaw jutted from side to side as she glowered at me. She looked at Doctor Vozot, and the anger turned to a smile. She said, "He is quite..." she looked him up and down, then back at me to waggle her eyebrows and say, "...vigorous." I just looked at her. When she got no more reaction than that, she said, "You were right though. He is highly motivated to study vampirism and figure it out." The mischievous twinkling returning to her eye, she said, "Science is a real turn on for him." Her shoulders swayed like a satisfied puppy wagging its tail, as she looked off towards the ceiling, unconsciously tonguing the tip of her canines while she savored a memory.

"Is that always how you do it?" I asked, recalling how she'd turned me. I may have sounded a tiny bit jealous.

"Why, Solomon," she purred. "You sound a tiny bit jealous." She smiled. "There's no reason I can't scratch two itches at once. I mean, be's quite a way to go, isn't it?"

Hell yes it was.

"That's not what happened here though," she said. I tilted my head in surprise. "I very rarely turn someone, Sol'. That can get messy. I prefer to eat and move on."

I glanced at the doctor, ""

"Well, if I didn't do it, and you didn't do it," she said, waiting for me to find the answer.

"Another vampire?" I asked, looking at her with confusion.

"I did it," said Vozot.

I looked at the doctor, dumbfounded and still a little confused as I grasped to reconcile this new information. I looked at Jeanine, who just crossed her arms and looked at me, waiting. I looked back at the doctor, and simply asked, "How?"

"The blood samples you gave us," he said, and what color my face held drained away. "They could only get us so far on the microscope slides. The best way to study it was in a live host. So I injected myself. I honestly didn't expect it to make me so hungry though. You seemed to have it under control."

"I have a food source!" I said as if talking to an idiot.

He chuckled as he looked at the discarded body of Doctor Madsen thrown over the table. "Well, so did I. I just couldn't control that constant craving," he said with a shrug. "How do you do that? How do you not jump every normal person you run across? They," he said, clearly a little overcome with the thought.

I looked at him numbly, disgusted at what I had inadvertently created; horrified that this could have easily been me when I turned, if not for Jeanine. I looked at her as if looking to a life preserver. Arms still crossed, she just raised her eyebrows at me, her look expectant.

I threw my hands up in front of me and answered her, "Yeah, okay Jeanine. I get it. You were right."

She smiled.

I pulled my gun from its holster, released the clip, dropped it in one pocket, and pulled a special clip from another.

Jeanine's neck recoiled backwards in reflex. "Ew! Those smell disgusting! What are you doing with those?"

"It's my mess, Jeanine. I'll clean it up," I said flatly.

Now it was her turn to look confused.

I just looked at her with resignation, then turned to Doctor Vozot and fired. The white phosphorous bullet ignited on impact, destroying him with immolation. His screams were brief, his destruction total, leaving behind only a little pile of ash. I looked back at Jeanine after a few moments. "Satisfied?"

"Interesting that you have those," she said. We looked at each other for a long few seconds without saying anything else. "Take care of the others too. Zombies are a pain in the rear." She turned to mist and as she drifted away, her disembodied voice added, "I'll see you at the office in the morning."

I watched her mist drift away. I couldn't decide if I was becoming more horrified by Jeanine Fairchild, or more attracted to her. Either option gave me a dread feeling of panic deep in what was left of my soul.

I fired a bullet into Williams' body, and he burst into flames with an audible wuff. He sizzled and popped in the crackling flames, and it took less than a minute for his body to be reduced to ash.

I knew I was gonna miss her. This was purely a business decision.

I paused when I turned to Doctor Madsen's body. She was a truly compassionate woman, and that's what motivated her desire to help find a cure for vampirism. If I weren't undead, I might have...well. It would almost be worth letting her come back as a zombie just to tell her that. Or to apologize. Jeanine just wanted me to dispose of her and show up at the office tomorrow to go back to business as normal. As if anything about us is normal.

Still, she's not wrong. Creepy business decisions like this are part of what we do; part of the cost of being vampires. I stood there quietly, looking at Madsen's face. What a damned waste. I pulled the trigger anyway, and she ignited as easily as Williams. I watched her burn, and just shook my head. I knew I was gonna miss her. This was purely a business decision. If I told myself that enough, maybe I'd believe it. God help me if I did.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #36.

The Writers Guild Presents #50 - April, 2015

Writers Guild LibraryGuild GuidelinesDisclaimers (to be added)

Welcome to the 50th issue of WGP. This is the final issue for me, and I decided that I wanted to feature as many stories as possible. The easiest way to do that is to feature as many libraries as possible, so today, I went through the Fan-Fic forum, and grabbed links to every library I could find. So this month, it's time to...

Below, you will find all the links I found. Check out these libraries, enjoy some great stories, and leave comments:


If there was more than one library for the same thing, I went with the most recent. If the library was empty or had been edited to be empty, I didn't include it. If I missed your library, I apologize. As you can imagine, scrolling through 181 forum pages can make you a little bleary-eyed, and I was bound to miss something. Bump your library to the front page, or message me, and I'll add it here. I'll also be adding new libraries as I see them appear in the forum.

Thanks for staying with me the last eight months, and hopefully, someone will take this over! Contact @dngn4774 for permission, if your interested- he started it, so he should get the say on who continues it.

As always, thanks for stopping in, and thanks for reading. -cb


Earth vs. The Manowarriors


DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
04/10/15CB 1-ShotsEarth vs. The Manowarriors(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
TViolence- alien on human; nature on alien; alien on alien

Once a Nosvonamatar enters military bondage, as all do at their last molt, they win or they die. If they die, they rot. If they win, they wallow in it- literally- and they never wash again, lest they lose the spoils of their victories. And they do spoil- putridly so. It’s a boast of their prowess: yes, you can smell them approaching, they know it, and they advance on you anyway, assured of their victory. It’s not often an idle boast.

The Nosvonamatar fight as fiercely with fang, claw and tails as they do with raw, unrestrained science. They have infested the galaxy for ages. They are creatures of many means, numerous victories, and absolute stench. Nowhere is this malodorous atmosphere more nauseatingly inescapable than in the War Hall of the Cogular- ruler by right of the most victories won- which means his spoils have been spoiling the longest. To slog in the bile of his war trench is considered a great honor.

As he approaches the War Hall breathing as shallowly as possible, the Chamberlain tries to remind himself of this fact. Entering the hall with a steady face, the thick gargle of what passes for laughter is replaced by the hiss of females interrupted. Then quick splashes as they slither and dive below the murky surface, leaving barely a ripple in their wakes- a talent that makes them most deadly. “Slipshod! What is it now?” barked the Cogular. He reclined in a shallow portion of the trench, elbows propped on the side, knees protruding above the surface of the hard won muck. His tails twitched in opposite directions, but were mostly submerged.

The Chamberlain inclined his head to one side in deferment to the greeting, and answered, “My lord. Am I disturbing you?”

The ruler grunted, “Hardly.” A serpentine form broke the surface just before him, knotting and writhing in its own coils. The Cogular snarled to reveal a broken fang as his tails curled to slowly push the body back into the briny slop. As it submerged once again, the female’s tail gave a final flick, which threw a little slime onto the Chamberlain’s long toes. His foot betrayed him, twitching backwards involuntarily. The Cogular’s eyes turned to slits and back again. “Do my conquests offend you, Chamberlain?”

The Chamberlain put one claw out placatingly, bowing slightly as he began to back away. “No! Please, my lord…”

‘Please’ WHAT, Slipshod?!” His great tails erupted from the water, drenching the Chamberlain’s multicolored robes, splashing him in the face, and throwing the female above the surface once again, straight towards him. She wrapped her arms around Slipshod’s neck, coiled her body around his, and then tipped back into the trench, dragging him with her, below the surface. There was no struggle as her coils slowly tightened. The Cogular, now on his feet, plunged his claws below the surface and yanked the female and the Chamberlain together from below. “Do you not recognize the great honor that is afforded to you daily, to merely stand in my presence? Much less to wade in my victories?”

Weakly, the Chamberlain answered, “Of…course…brother...Forgive…my…lord.”

The Cogular’s eyes narrowed at the familial falter, but he nodded at the female. “Enough, Kakaluta.” She frowned as she slackened her coils, but leaned towards the Chamberlain and hissed lightly, tongue flicking in his ear before she slunk back into the trench. The ruler leaned into his brother’s face and showed a broad grin of fearsome teeth. He observed, “I think she likes you, Slipshod,” before dropping him into the mire.

“Impossible. I’m not worthy, my Cogular.”

“See that you remember that, Chamberlain. To show offense to my victories is to challenge my right to them, and my right to rule.”

“I would never…” the Chamberlain started.

“You could never,” corrected the Cogular, turning his back. “Now get up, and tell me of our progress with the humans. How fare the Manowarriors?”

Slipshod stood uncertainly, and began cautiously, “Against the humans? They exceed our expectations. It’s…uh…everything else…”

The Cogular turned back to face him, and with a hint of menace, said, “Explain.”

“If you’ll permit me, my lord, I thought it would be easier to show you.” With that, a holographic display hummed to life between them, and the magnificent Manowarriors sharpened into focus.

Their gargantuan gelatinous hoods billowed on the air currents as they descended from the sky, drawing looks of wonder, confusion, and terror from the primitive humans below. Their rosy tentacles flowed with the passing air, splaying in every direction and causing them to spin slowly as they fell earthward. It might have been beautiful, if not for the massive, fleshy, pink trunk of the creature, that ended in a giant claw, which ringed rows and rows of teeth. Slender blue filaments whipped about from the hood itself, glowing with energy, and causing the awesome creatures to hum.

Despite their seeming gentle descent, they landed with thunderous weight, their claws sinking into the ground, giving them firm purchase. No longer filled with air from their falls, the hoods slapped downwards with a wet, blubbery sound, undulating throughout while the tentacles slammed the ground like felled trees. The filaments dangled but briefly, and then the hoods snapped open with a loud crack, suddenly releasing dozens each of Manowarrior young.

They fell like small bubbles from a larger one, complete with tentacles, filaments and tooth filled trunks. Drifting towards the fleeing humans, the tentacles would ensnare them, the filaments would deliver stings to immobilize them, the claws of the trunks would dig into the base of their spines, and the hoods would drape over the humans’ heads, making the attachment complete. Then there was no more resistance. Every bonded “Humanowarrior” turned towards the towering parent beasts, and stood stock still.

“Excellent,” approved the Cogular. “Efficient use of the Colony Consciousness.”

The Chamberlain’s mouth twitched into something not quite a grin, and glumly said, “Keep watching, my lord.”

The larger Manowarriors then came alive again. The hoods undulated firmly, and the tentacles lanced outwards, rooting into caves, reaching behind boulders and trees, dragging humans from their hiding places. Others were lashed by the filaments- weak connections simply immobilizing with a shock, but firm strikes rendering screaming targets to piles of ash and bone fragments.

Suddenly, there was a large shadow from above, a piercing screech, and a wet SPLORTCH as the top half of the large hood was ripped away by the claws of a diving pteranodon. What remained undulated unsteadily, causing the trunk to wobble, then topple limply into a heap. The Colony Consciousness was stunned by the sudden death of its main brain, and before anything else could be done, other carnivorous dinosaurs stalked in from all directions, smelling the fresh kill of the Manowarrior. What followed was a feeding frenzy, while more pteranodons circled above, waiting to swoop in on the remains of any carcasses.

“What. Is. This?” seethed the Cogular. Even though he was angry, he could not keep the bewilderment from his voice.

“There were more of those, all over the planet,” commented the Chamberlain. As he said this, the hologram showed several Manowarriors descending over the ocean, only to have a pod of humpback whales leap out of the water and bring them down. What the whales didn’t eat, sharks and sardines did. The Cogular made an exasperated noise. His brother pinched the bridge of his nose between two claws, and continued, “It gets worse.”

In a mountainous region, a Manowarrior rooted itself on a snowcapped peak, and froze to death. In another, a volcano erupted, the blast disintegrating a beast that was directly overhead, and the burning ash cloud causing dozens of others to boil in midair and fall from the sky. In a region of the Northern Hemisphere, enormous hailstones pelted the floating creatures, bruising and rupturing them. In a plains area, they were torn apart by tornadoes. In yet another area, the magnificent monsters descended through stormclouds, only to be struck by cloud-to-cloud arcs of lightning, causing them to explode in balls of wet goo and blue energy.

“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!” roared the Cogular.

An unfamiliar voice answered, “Who are you to question the will of your creator, Nosvonamatar?”

The being was fierce and imposing, with a fiery wingspan and features that glowed like lightning. Slipshod gasped and immediately dropped to his knees before him, but was told, “Don’t do it! Stand and attend your master, Chamberlain! For he will give account of his actions this day!” The Cogular could not answer. “Speak up, O king! Why do you attack a planet that every race has been plainly told to avoid? Answer now and be clear!”

“My lord,” offered the Chamberlain. “My Cogular sought to eradicate the humans, as he does all his enemies. He thought if we could eliminate the race which the Creator made for his pleasure, then perhaps the Creator would then find his pleasure in us instead. Forgive us our folly.”

“So you presume to know the mind of God, Nosvonamatar? Then know it now! The Lord takes pleasure in all of his creation, but disobedience is a stench worse than your victories! You will be removed as Cogular, and replaced with another!” Then the angel was gone.

The Cogular was dumbstruck, his eyes wide with fear. “W-wh…what…does this mean?

The Chamberlain considered for a moment and then answered, “It means…I had my last molt today.” His tails swung around quickly, the bony ends gutting The Cogular where he stood. He watched his brother sway and fall into the muck. Then he wallowed in it.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #14.