The Writers Guild Presents #48 - February, 2015

Writers Guild LibraryGuild GuidelinesDisclaimers (to be added)

Welcome back to another issue of WGP, and once again, I am getting this in right under the wire for February, but give me a break, it's a short month...or something. Finally! Someone decided to request one of their stories to be featured here in The Writers Guild Presents, rather than me searching them out! Waezi2 always writes an entertaining story, and he gave me a handful to pick from. I wanted to feature more than one, but I was swamped (or possibly procrastinating- shut up) so I picked just one. What better for February than a Valentine's Day story? Love is in the air! So without further ado, please enjoy...

DC Re-Created - Valentine's Day: They won't get us alive!, by Waezi2

Gotham City, Olympus...

"Let go off me, you big meanie!"

"Little lady, a casino is no place for children."

"I'm not a children. I'm all grown up!"

"Oh, for Pete's sake..."

"NOOO!!!" The little girl kicked out in the air after the security guard as he picked her up. "Bad man, BAD MAN!!"

"Don't be difficult, okay? Do you have your parents nearby, or..."

BLAM!!!

Everyone in the casino stopped at whatever they were doing and stared at the little girl, who landed on her feet in a way that could have won her gold in the Olympics. The security guard lay dead in front of her.

"JESUS!" One of the gamblers finally said. "That little girl just blew that guy's brains out!"

The seeming child giggled as she pointed her teddy bear with a hidden gun at the others. Before opening fire, with an innocent smile on her face, she said, "I didn't mean to!"

As the rest of the security personnel came, they were met by a grim surprise. A creature, more monster than man, had managed to get into the casino, and now charged at them with beast-like movements. They tried to shoot him, but if they didn't miss the agile beast, then his leathery skin protected him from the bullets.

"Hello, folks!" the green scaled creature yelled at the horde of gamblers, all horrified as he ripped one of the guards apart. "I'm Killer Croc! The lady calls herself Baby Doll. We will be your killers tonight!"

And killing was what they did. Razor sharp teeth and water guns with acid. Brute strength and acrobatics. Scaly skin and explosive marbles. So different, yet so destructive together. If it wasn't for the fact that it was horrifying, it would have been almost beautiful to see these two freaks' dance of death.

"Faster, horsey, faster!" Baby Doll yelled as she was riding on the back of Croc. She laughed as he clawed his way through the crowd with a bag full of cash over his shoulder.

"Here come the cops," Croc said as he heard the sirens. "You got us covered, Doll?"

"Baby made biiiiig boom boom!" she replied cheerfully.

And indeed she did. As the police arrived, several explosives were set off, providing Croc and Doll the distraction needed for them to get to the sewers, making their escape.

Next day, in a cottage near Slaughter Swamp...

"You spent ALL of our money on that piece of junk?!"

"Mmmhmm." Baby Doll was busy working on a big teddy bear-like machine. Bolts and oil covered the floor. "When Baby is done with her new dolly, we will have the biggest, bestest killer robot in the whooooole world!"

"Dammit, you haven't taken your pills today, have you? They are supposed to keep you from doing stupid crap like this! We need the money for-"

"Ooooh," Baby Doll said with a sassy smile. "Baby been a baaad girl. Been sooo naughty! And naughty girls need to be sp-"

"Marion Louise Dahl and Waylon Jones! This is the police!"

They froze. If Croc could sweat, he would have. Baby Doll's face lost any sign of emotion.

"You are surrounded!" the officer continued to yell in his loudspeaker.

Croc was the first to say anything. "No... How could they possibly find-"

"Please come out with your hands in the air where we can see them. This doesn't have to get nasty! You have ONE minute before we storm the house!"

"Dammit, this is not good! Doll, we gotta... Doll?"

Croc recognized the look in her face. This was one of those times where her mind was clear; where she was completely aware of the world around her.

"Mary... Mary, can you hear me?"

"I don't want to go back."

"Mary, please. We gotta-"

"I DON'T WANNA GO BACK!!!" She was panicking. "Oh, god, I don't want to go back to Doctor Crane! He, he doesn't wanna help me, he... h-h-h-he... Oh, Waylon..."

"MARY!!!" Croc picked her up and started to shake her. "Snap out of it! The cops are coming for us!"

"I don't want to go back to Arkham, Waylon." She looked at him with big tearful eyes. "I... I-Iiii-I..."

Croc could hear the door being kicked in, and he ran. He left the house with Baby Doll under one arm, and a bag of her equipment in the other. The house had a secret trapdoor that allowed him to get to the swamp unseen. To hide among the trees. But hiding and getting away was not an option. But maybe he could win a little time?

"Mary... Mary, I don't want to go back either. But if we are going to get rid of the cops, I need you."

She looked him straight in his yellow reptilian eyes. "We are not gonna beat them this time, are we?"

"... No... No, I don't think so... but I promise you this: we ain't going back to the nuthouse. If they want us, well, that's just too bad. They won't get us alive! Will they, Babe?"

"... We are just like Bonnie and Clyde," she finally said with a timid smile. "That's just SO romantic."

"Attagirl!" If he had a normal face, Croc would have sent her a warm smile as he gave her the bag with her gadgets. "Two monsters like us won't go down without a fight, eh?"

"They won't get us alive!" she replied, now with her teddy in her hands, ready for combat.

***

"NOOOOO!" It was quite surprising that it took three men to strap down such a little person to the hospital bed. "Baby wants her Crocy, Baby wants her-"

"Where is that godd**n needle, we need her to calm down!"

"AARGH!!! She bit me! That little b%tch bit me!"

"Hold her down, dammit! I got the needle ready!"

"CROOOOCYYYY!!!!!"

***

"So..." Baby Doll was asleep now, thanks to the strong sedation. "What now? We send her and her freak boyfriend back to Arkham, right?"

"Not this one. She is going to the airport tonight. National security, or something."

"Thank god! One nut-job less to worry about in Gotham."

Follow Baby Doll's future adventures in Suicide Squad.

Hope you all enjoyed it! I apologize that these are taking so long to come out, but my real world life is demanding much of my time lately. It's hard to get the logos done for WGP with everything going on. I'll see you here in March!. If you want to submit something for a future WGP, just contact me in PM. Until next time, thanks for stopping in, and thanks for reading. -cb

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Classic Trades #9: "Secret Origins, Vol. 1-6"

#DateWelcome to CT #9:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
902/13/15Secret Origins, Vol. 1-6(Blog) (Forum)Secret Origins (1986)(Back) (Next)
12-Month Trades is now Classic Trades. I still think that one year of issues per trade is a workable format, because it certainly works when a publisher reprints a twelve issue mini-series. Publishers don't seem to do this when they reprint ongoing or discontinued series though, so I want to be a little more realistic in my proposals. This means the title change was necessary. Other than that, it's still the same idea: an entire series collected into volumes. That's why I'm continuing the 12-MT series numbering with CT. Thanks for reading. -cb
Secret Origins (1986)

This time around, it's the 1986 version of DC's Secret Origins title. DC is just a couple of issues away from ending their current Secret Origins title with issue #11. No suprise, as they were priced at $4.99 an issue, and the stories were written as if they are meant to be seamed into the characters stories in later trades of those characters' series. Not a bad thing for those series, but not great reading for individual issues of SO.

However, DC has published a trade of issues #1-4 of the current series, and will presumably collect the remaining issues. This and the fact that Convergence is reaching back to the days of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour seems like a good time to reach back to the 1986 series and reprint an entire series of cool origins.

*******

Proposed Title:Secret Origins
Alternate Title:DC Comics Classics Library: Secret Origins.
Vol. 1 Collecting 9 Issues:
  • Secret Origins #1-9
Vol. 2 Collecting 9 Issues:
  • Secret Origins #10-18
Vol. 3 Collecting 9 Issues:
  • Secret Origins #19-26
  • Secret Origins Annual #1
Vol. 4 Collecting 9 Issues:
  • Secret Origins #27-35
Vol. 5 Collecting 9 Issues:
  • Secret Origins #36-43
  • Secret Origins Annual #2
Vol. 6 Collecting 9 Issues:
  • Secret Origins #44-50
  • Secret Origins Annual #3
  • Secret Origins Special #1
Covers: (click to enlarge)
Vol. 1 TPB Cover: Secret Origins #1.

For the cover to Volume 1, the first issue is a no-brainer. The black background makes the image slick, and it still holds up today. Plus, it's a definite sign that this is a trade paperback for the 1986 series. The DC Bullet gets replaced with the current DC symbol, and most of the text gets removed, including the corner and issue boxes. Just the title and the artwork for a stunning cover.

*******

Vol. 2 TPB Cover: Secret Origins #10

The Volume 2 cover is Secret Origins #10. It's the standout issue of the series, with four separate possible origins for The Phantom Stranger. Again, with just the SO title and the artwork... real nice.

*******

Vol. 3 TPB Cover: Secret Origins #20.

I was a bit conflicted about the Volume 3 cover. For the first two volumes, I went with the first issues collected in the volume. The Uncle Same/ Guardian cover of issue #19 is okay, but a white background cover has to be completely stunning for me to want to use it, simply because they have a tendency to get dirty or marked up easily. The Dr. Fate/ Blue Devil cover of issue #24 is cool, but I feel that neither character is well known enough. They should be, but currently they're not. The Doom Patrol used to have a hot, hot title, so I'd really like to use Annual #1, but they've cooled to obscurity these days. So in the end, I felt that out of the issues collected in this volume, Batgirl carries the most heat these days. So I went with issue #20.

*******

Vol. 4 TPB Cover: Secret Origins #31.

For the Volume 4 cover, my personal favorites are the Plastic Man/ Elongated Man cover, and the Midnight/ Nightshade covers, but neither of those are big draws for the consumer. A gatefold cover of the puzzle image from issues #33-35 would be cool, but a little awkward with the thick spine of the TPB. So I think the money is on the JSA cover of issue #31.

*******

Vol. 5 TPB Cover: Secret Origins #42.

For the Volume 5 cover, I'm tempted to go with The Flash, from Annual #2, and I feel strongly that DC would probably go with that one. Also, with the heat they currently have over the TV show Arrow, the Green Arrow/ Speedy cover of issue #38 wouldn't be a bad choice. However, I feel like it's good for DC to get the Legion of Super-Heroes out there whenever possible, so I'd go with the issue #42 cover, without the Grim Ghost sidebar. It kind of homages an All-Star Comics cover, so that's a plus.

*******

Vol. 6 TPB Cover: Secret Origins #50.

For the Volume 6 cover, I feel like DC would go with the issue #44 cover of Batman and The Mud Pack, because let's face it, Batman sells everything. For my own taste, I like the Blackhawk cover, but it's not a full cover image. So my preference would be the Teen Titans cover of Annual #3, but I think a more sentimental cover from issue #50- with everything being packed up and hauled off- is the one to go with.

*******

There was one Secret Origins trade paperback in 1989, but it is long since out of print. The cover is great though.

Would you buy this series, if it were reprinted in TPB? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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The Writers Guild Presents #47 - January, 2015

Writers Guild LibraryGuild GuidelinesDisclaimers (to be added)

Welcome back to another issue of WGP, and I am getting this in right under the wire for January. The challenge for Character Creation Contest #33 was to create a villain for Batman, and very appropriately, Batkevin74, our Bat-fan-at-large, was the winner with Crossbow Man! His story was a quirky tale of a third tier villain, and I liked it enough to write a couple of extra scenes on the contest thread, just because he got my imagination going on it.

Later, I asked Batkev' if I could feature his story and my scenes together for The Writers Guild, with a possible Part Three. He agreed, but as he had a bit of a scheduling conflict, suggested I write Part Three, as long as...ah, but you'll have to read that, won't you? So without further ado, enjoy.

Batman: The Origin of Crossbow Man Part 1, by Batkevin74

Sneedville, Tennessee

“You could not!” stated Doyle as he finished off his bottle of Flying Saucer Stout. He shoved the bottle back to his bartender friend Jimmy who grabbed the bottle, flung it spectacularly into the air, and then caught it inches before it hit the bar.

“He’s just a man,” replied Jimmy as he tossed the beer in the recycling and popped the top off another.

“He’s the $#@^ BATMAN!” cried Doyle as he motioned for the beer.

Jimmy looked at the bottle, then his friend, and smiled. “Wanna bet?”

Doyle stopped, slightly confused, as he thought about what was going on. “Back up. You, Jimmy Brown, are going to kill Batman. Is this correct?”

“Yup”

Doyle burst into laughter. The kind of laughter that makes you cry and have a hard time breathing. Jimmy watched his friend have a fit. Doyle wiped his eyes and giggled. “You are going to end up in the hospital, you idiot!”

“So it’s a bet then?”

Doyle tossed his wallet on the bar. “Sure, why not. Whatever I have on me is yours.”

Jimmy opened the wallet. “Sixty-two dollars.”

“We live in Sneedville, not Metropolis,” Doyle replied as he reached for the bottle.

“And your pickup,” Jimmy added, leaning forward.

Doyle looked at his friend. “You’re going to kill Batman for sixty-two dollars and my $#!tt^ blue car? Done! What do I get when you lose?”

“If!”

“WHEN!” corrected Doyle.

Jimmy looked around. “You can have my job.”

“I don’t want your job!” laughed Doyle “I have a crap, dead end job in this dirt poor, boring old town that I hate. Why would I want yours?”

Jimmy shrugged. “Dunno.”

“Well…how about the key to the museum?” Doyle said suggestively. "Your mom works there."

“You want your great grand uncle’s rifle, don’t you?”

“It’s a family antique that belongs with family,” said Doyle matter of factly. “Not sitting in a two-bit shack in a one-bit town.”

“You’re going to sell it, aren’t you.”

“What do you care? You’re gonna go kill Batman for a car.” Doyle sipped his beer. “So we have a bet or what?”

Jimmy thrust out his hand “Deal! I win, I get your car and sixty-two bucks; you win, and I get you the key so you can steal that gun you want.”

**

“You’re still here?” said Doyle as he wandered into the bar. “Gotham City is a thousand miles thataway!”

Jimmy pulled a face and slid a Flying Saucer Stout down the bar to his friend. “I’m waiting for the internet.”

“Huh?”

Jimmy walked over. “I ordered some stuff on the internet. Hasn’t arrived yet.”

“Did you buy a costume?” asked Doyle. He studied Jimmy’s face which looked like a kid trying to keep a secret. “You bought a costume!”

“I’m gonna look good when I kill Batman,” Jimmy said nonchalantly. “Plus some weapons.”

Doyle paused mid-sip “You bought weapons off the web?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re going to get your head broken,” laughed Doyle. “Seriously, you’re a dead man walking.”

Jimmy sneered. “Just wait, Doyle, you’ll see.”

**

“You can’t let him die of old age and claim it was you!” said Doyle as he entered the bar. Jimmy ignored him and got out a beer for his friend. “What’s the hold up? Was it a ladies costume?”

“The crossbow bolts weren’t pure silver,” Jimmy said.

“What?”

“Batman may be a vampire. So I’m making sure. So I need pure silver tips for my crossbow.”

“Batman’s a vampire?”

Jimmy shrugged. “Maybe a werebat. Not sure, but silver works on both of them.”

“He could be an alien.”

“Don’t be stupid! There’s no such thing!”

Doyle shook his head. “But vampires and were... what’s a werebat anyway?”

“It’s like a werewolf, but a bat.”

Doyle rubbed his nose. “But aliens aren’t real?”

“Just you make sure your truck has a full tank of gas,” Jimmy said. “He’ll be dead by Monday.”

**

“So?” Jimmy stood in the men’s room of the bar in full costume. Doyle burst into laughter and it reverberated through the bathroom like it was Carnegie Hall.

“What does the C stand for?” guffawed Doyle, supporting himself against the hand dryer to prevent falling over.

“Crossbow Man!” Jimmy declared. Doyle shrieked and hit the floor. Jimmy looked in the mirror and thought he looked pretty cool. “Ahh shut up!”

Doyle tried to speak but couldn’t, due to laughter.

**

Bus Terminal, Gotham City

The coach finally pulled into Gotham. It’d been a long, uncomfortable ride from Sneedville, but Jimmy was finally here. He was surprised at the amount of people bustling about the place. The whole population of his hometown was only fifteen hundred, and there seemed to be that many people just here at the bus terminal. Cars, bikes, buses, and taxis raced through the streets, making a terrible sound. Jimmy hefted his bag and headed into the city.

**

Amusement Mile, Gotham City

Jimmy threw off his trenchcoat and hat. “I am the Crossbow Man!”

The Sunday morning crowd of Gothamites barely noticed as the man in black with a white C on his chest started yelling at them. Jimmy was slightly confused at their apathy, which made him angry, and he fired a crossbow bolt into the leg of the closest person.

“I SAID I AM THE CROSSBOW MAN!” roared Jimmy. The crowd responded as any group would when a costumed man fires crossbow bolts into a crowd; they screamed and panicked. Jimmy smiled as he loaded another bolt. “Whenever you’re ready, Batman.”

**

Batman looked down from his vantage point at the man holding eight people hostage. He’d picked up the call via the scanner.

-Male, causcasian, thirties, possibly from Tennessee judging by speech pattern and tone, left handed- Batman checked the sight lines and angles as he watched the man below. –Count seven bolts, carbon fibre, costume shows no sign of upgrades or tech-

“WHERE IS HE?” Crossbow Man yelled. “WHERE’S BATMAN?”

“Right here!” said the cold, grim voice from behind him. Jimmy nearly soiled himself. He began to turn but it was over before it began. A right chop to the neck followed by a left cross to the jaw. As he sailed to the ground he was disarmed, flipped over to his front and driven onto the concrete floor like a nail into wood. The whole “fight” lasted less than six seconds. He tried to get up but a tap to the temple knocked him out cold.

**

Sneedville, Tennessee

Doyle sat at the bar sipping his beer while looking at the front page of the Sneedville Shopper, and smiled. He might have to wait awhile, but he’d soon be getting his hands on his great grand uncle’s Civil War rifle.

**

Arkham Asylum

“I AM NOT INSANE!” Jimmy yelled and spat. He bucked against his restraints as they wheeled him down the corridor towards his cell. Dr Jeremiah Arkham flipped through his chart as he walked along beside him.

“That remains to be seen, Mr Brown,” the doctor said as he signed off on the chart and left for the evening.

Batman: The Origin of Crossbow Man Part 2, by Cbishop

Three days later

Detective Harvey Bullock knocked on the door to Doctor Jeremiah Arkham's office. From within, he heard, "Enter!"

Shuffling into the posh, Victorian style office, Bullock closed the door and walked over to the doctor's desk. Looking at the two empty chairs, one on either side of him, Bullock wondered what crazies had sat there. Grimacing slightly, he pulled his grey trenchcoat around him a little more snugly and remained standing.

Without looking up, Arkham said, "One moment, detective, I'll be riiight with you." He finished writing a note, looked over the whole form, then straightened it in the folder, closed it, and sat it neatly in a small pile at the edge of his desk. Finally looking at Harvey, he said, "How can I help you, Detective Bullock?"

"What's the word on Crossbow Man, doc? The Commissioner wants to know if our new skell is crazy or not, so we can know what to tell the D.A.'s office."

"Well, let me see," began the doctor. "James Hunter Brown- aka 'Jimmy,' aka 'Crossbow Man.' Born and raised in Sneedville, Tennessee. Profession: bartender. Made a bet with a friend that he could kill Batman. Spent one hundred twenty-eight dollars and thirty-one cents on twenty-four silver crossbow bolt tips, in case Batman was a vampire, or a 'werebat.' He only wanted twenty, but the bolts 'only came in packs of six, like dey was beer or somethin'.'" Arkham looked over his glasses at Bullock, who just smirked, then continued.

"In addition to the bolts to put the heads on- eighty dollars; a crossbow pistol - thirteen dollars; a bus ticket from Sneedville - one hundred dollars; and a spandex costume - twenty-four dollars plus twenty for customization. The bet was for sixty-two dollars and a blue pickup. Oh yes, detective- he's the very picture of sanity," the doctor said dryly.

"So another nut job. Got it," said Harvey. Turning to go, he said, "You're a funny guy, doc."

Already engrossed in another file, Doctor Arkham said, "The Joker doesn't think so."

"HA!" shouted Harvey. "Now that! THAT'S FUNNY! BWAH-HA-HAAA!" Bullock was still guffawing as he exited. He called back, "Thanks, doc!" just before the door slammed behind him.

Jeremiah twitched with a start at the slamming door, and looked through the blurry glass to see the blobbish outline of Harvey Bullock receding through his office lobby. "How I hate that man," he said quietly, then went back to his paperwork.

Back at the Commissioner's Office

"...So then he says, 'The Joker doesn't think so!' Ha!" laughed Harvey. The commissioner stood bent over his desk, looking at the open folder Harvey had brought with him from Arkham Asylum. He raised an eyebrow in the detective's direction. Bullock summed up, "So yeah, the doc says he's nuttier than a fruitcake."

"I don't know if I agree," Gordon said flatly.

"No offense, boss," said Harvey, "but you suddenly got a shrink certificate we don't know about?"

Gordon's jaw clenched briefly as he looked up at Harvey. "No. Just a lot of years listening to my gut. Brown gave all this detail to Arkham? All those numbers? Spent all that time preparing? Track down this friend of his, and check out the story on the bet. The costume is going to make the insanity plea hard to beat, but it will help if we can corroborate his story. If the friend tells it like he did--"

"Then it's not 'crazy,' it's collusion!" finished Harvey, warming to the idea instantly.

"Right," said Gordon. "And if the friend corroborates the story- that it was a bet- and he knew about it, then we'll see about extraditinghim for accessory." Gordon clenched his jaw again. "I might even suggest to the D.A. that he charge it as domestic terrorism."

Harvey winced. "For these guys, boss? I don't like costumed crazies either, but this is a couple of drunken hicks gone too far."

"Exactly!" growled Gordon, slapping the folder shut on his desk. "Way too far! If he's crazy, we'll lock him away in Arkham with the rest of 'em. If not, then I think it's time to send a message- discourage anyone else from bringing their fool violent ideas to Gotham." Fixing Bullock with a stern look, he said, "Run it down, Harvey."

The detective sighed and turned to leave. "All right, boss. On my way."

Detective Montoya passed by the commissioner's door just then, and Gordon called out, "Take Montoya with you!"

Harvey looked back as Montoya backed the few steps up to the door. Looking in, she said, "Take me where?"

"Sneedville," answered Bullock. "Grab your coat."

"Sneedville?" she asked as she fell in behind Harvey. "What's a Sneedville?"

"Village full of sneeds. Anyone ever tell you that you ask a lot of questions?" asked Harvey.

Jim Gordon watched them move across the detective bullpen, bantering all the way out the door, then tossed the folder to the front of his desk. Slumping into his chair, he sighed to himself and said, "'Crossbow Man.' I'm getting too old for this."

Batman: The Origin of Crossbow Man Part 3, by Cbishop

Sneedville, Five Years Later

Doyle pushed the bar door outward and stepped into the night air. As it swung shut behind him, he fumbled with his keys, found the right one, and turned to lock the door. Pulling on the handle to make sure it locked good, he tossed his keys lightly and caught them as he headed for his truck. As he reached the driver’s door of the cab, he realized he still had his bar rag slung over his shoulder. Rolling his eyes at himself and making an only-slightly-disgusted noise, he snatched the rag from his shoulder and tossed it into the bed of the pickup as he went to open the door.

Suddenly someone sat bolt upright in the back of the truck and shouted, “Hey! Watch where you’re throwing that nasty thing!”

Doyle shouted and jumped backwards several steps, before getting a good look at his uninvited passenger, who was now tossing a duffel bag to the ground and climbing out of the back of the truck. “HA HAAAA! Jimmy! How you doin’, brother?” He came up to Jimmy quickly, caught his hand in a greeting that looked like they were about to arm wrestle, and then laughed and hugged him tightly, slapping him on the back several times as he did so. “Oh, God, it has been too damned long, man! It is good to see you! When did you get out? How long have you been back? How are you, man? Oh, wow,” he said as he stepped back a little.

“In reverse order,” started Jimmy, “I’m good, I just got back, I got out last Friday, and yeah, it’s been too long- five years too long.”

Doyle sucked his teeth. “Yeah, man, sorry about that.”

“Nah, man. I did the crime, I did the time, y’know?”

“Yeah,” acknowledged Doyle. “I guess.”

“No guessin’ to it, man. That’s what happened.” He shrugged. “That Batman has a helluva left though.”

Doyle grinned. “Not too many can say they took a punch from Batman, huh?” he chuckled.

Psht,” countered Jimmy. “Not here, maybe! In Arkham, you were a second class inmate if The Bat didn’t put you there. And God help you if you lied about it to try to get in good with the first class.”

“That right?” Doyle asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” Jimmy answered. “Some of those loonies are a mite particular.” He looked lost for a moment. “Anyway man, you mind giving me a lift?”

“Yeah, man, sure! Hop in. I’m just gettin’ outta here myself.”

Jimmy walked around the truck, tossed his duffel bag back into the bed of the truck, and got into the passenger side of the truck. As he closed the door, he said, “Yeah, what about that? Closing up the bar? Thought this was beneath even your ‘crap, dead end job.’ Changed your mind?”

Doyle grimaced and raised his eyebrows as he pulled out of the lot. “Yeah, well, you tend to reassess what’s crap and what’s not when you lose what you’ve got.” Doyle was quiet a few moments, then continued, “Lexcorp shut down the plant. ‘Not cost efficient,’ they said. Moved the whole operation to Beijing. They already had corporate holdings there though, so they weren’t ‘taking jobs’ they said, just ‘consolidating interests.’ Can you believe that?” He spat out the window. “What a load of crap.” He seemed lost in thought, but then added, “Anyway, man, I hope you don’t mind me taking your old job. The old man had been trying to run it by himself after you went away, but he was struggling. It was a real godsend when he asked me to help out.”

Jimmy sighed deeply and said, “Nah, man, I get it. Just doing what you had to. It’s good.” The two fist bumped and rode on in silence for a few minutes, until Jimmy said, “Hey, man, pull over at that Gas Stop. I wanna grab some beer. Park in the back though- I need to take a leak first.”

“Shoulda come into the bar earlier,” said Doyle as he swung in behind the convenience store. “Could’ve gotten your beer for free.”

Jimmy laughed. “Nah. The surprise on your face was worth it.” He hopped out and stood facing the back of the truck as he handled his business. “Guess I owe you a key to the museum, huh?” he asked, grinning through the passenger window.

Doyle chuckled. “Nope. With so many people out of work after the plant shut down, the town’s revenue dried up quite a bit. They had to cut funding to the museum, and it got shut down. A lot of the stuff got shipped to museums in and around Nashville. Your mom made sure my great gand uncle’s rifle didn’t make it to the capitol though. She’s good people, Jimmy.”

Jimmy did a double take through the window. “What? She gave you the rifle?”

“Yeah, she knew how much I liked the thing,” smiled Doyle. “Plus,” he added a little sheepishly, “She kind of heard about our bet.”

“What the hell, Doyle?!” exclaimed Jimmy. “You didn’t win our bet!”

Doyle laughed. “What are you talkin’ about, man? You went away for five years, and it wasn’t for killing Batman. You didn’t kill him, so you sure didn’t win.”

“I didn’t win yet! Yet!” yelled Jimmy. “I ain’t done with that Batfreak, man! You ain’t won nothin’!” He threw up his hands and reached into the bed for his duffel bag. “I can’t believe this,” he griped as he riffled through its contents.

Doyle was a bit dumbfounded. “Jimmy! C’mon, man! You can’t be serious! It was a stupid, drunken bet, over five years ago! You wanna take on Batman again? Are you nuts?

Jimmy stepped to the cab and slammed his hand against the passenger door. “I am not crazy!” he shouted. “Do you hear me? I AM NOT CRAZY!”

Doyle threw his hands up. “Okay, man, okay. But jeez, man, the bet’s done. It’s over. Let it go.”

“It’s not done!” shouted Jimmy. “I lost five years to that” he slapped the passenger door again and finished, “freak!” He stalked away to the front of the store, and emerged a few minutes later with a case of beer. He got back into the truck and put the beer in the floor between his feet. He didn’t say anything.

Doyle was quiet for a minute, then said, “Hey, man, you okay now? Let’s blow off some steam. Where you want to go?”

Jimmy jutted his jaw side-to-side a couple of times, then said, “Look, man, I need your truck.”

“What? Well where do you want to go? I’ll get you there, man.”

“I don’t need you to go with me, Doyle. I just need your truck.”

“What do you need it for?” aksed Doyle.

“It’s only fair, Doyle,” said Jimmy. “You got the rifle without winning the bet. I should get the truck without winning the bet.”

Doyle laughed. “HA! No frickin’ way! I’m not givin’ you my truck, man! Are you cracked?”

Rage came over Jimmy’s face as he pulled a handheld crossbow from under his jacket and put it under Doyle’s chin. “I. AM NOT. CRAZY!” he yelled. He was breathing rapidly, and Doyle was no longer laughing. “I got a problem here, Doyle. You see, the Gotham D.A. was looking to put both of us away, but my good friend Doyle was most definitely not in that frickin’ asylum with me.”

Doyle’s face fell. “Jimmy…”

“So I’m askin’ myself how that happens. Only thing I can figure is that my good friend Doyle…my best friend since grade school…ratted me out. Tell me I’m wrong, Doyle. Can you tell me that?”

“For cripes sake, Jimmy! They didn’t put me away because they couldn’t prove collusion! I didn’t even think a Batman was real! I didn’t think that you did either! They couldn’t get me for collaborating on something I didn’t think was real!” Jimmy pressed the tip of the crossbow bolt a little harder to Doyle’s chin, and Doyle whined, “Come on, man!”

Jimmy breathed hard as he stared Doyle in the eyes. Finally, he eased back on the crossbow just a touch, and said, “Alright, Doyle. Still, I need your truck. And I’m not asking. So get out.”

“Okay, man. Alright,” said Doyle as he reached for the door handle. He slid out carefully, afraid that the crossbow might go off if he jostled Jimmy’s arm. Once he was out, Jimmy slid into the driver side, and he and Doyle exchanged angry looks. Doyle finally just shook his head and said, “Damn, man,” and turned to walk away.

“Doyle!”

“What?!” he said as he spun back to face Jimmy.

“You forgettin’ somethin’?” Jimmy asked.

Doyle threw his hands up, because he had no idea what Jimmy meant.

“Your wallet?” said Jimmy, looking at him like he was dumb. “You owe me sixty-two dollars too.”

Doyle seethed as he reached for his wallet. He threw it into the open window where it slapped Jimmy’s hand and fell into his lap. Jimmy picked it up, took out all of the cash, and tossed the wallet on the ground. “See ya, Doyle.”

“You go to hell,” Doyle answered back, and he turned to walk away again.

“Hey, Doyle!” Jimmy called again, as he started the engine.

“WHAT?!” Doyle screamed as he turned back to the truck.

Jimmy was pointing the crossbow out of the window. He said, “You’re five dollars short,” and pulled the trigger. The bolt hit Doyle in the head, and he hit the ground hard. Jimmy tossed the hand bow on the passenger side, broke open the cardboard case, and pulled the tab on a beer can. He took a long swig, sat there for a minute, and looked one last time at Doyle’s body. He drained the rest of the can, tossed it out the window, and put the truck into reverse. He backed up, put it into drive, and peeled out of the parking lot, throwing rocks from the loose gravel behind the store. As he got out onto the street, he rolled his neck from side-to-side, and said to himself, “Gotham, here I come.”

Hope you all enjoyed it! Hopefully, I won't be the very end of February getting the next one out. If you want to submit something for a future WGP, just contact me in PM. Until next time, thanks for stopping in, and thanks for reading. -cb

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Today, I write for Charlie Hebdo

#DateWelcome to my blog:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
5101/07/15Today, I write for Charlie Hebdo(Blog) (Forum)Artist Show-Off(Back) (Next)
“Today, I am a press cartoonist. Today, I am a journalist. Today, I draw for Charlie Hebdo.” -Martin Vidberg

So...a group of political cartoonists were killed in France today. No, I didn't know them. No, I wasn't a fan of the magazine. No, I had not heard of them before today. But...cartoonists? As a rule, we laugh at what they create, but someone found it SO offensive...so DID NOT get the joke...that MURDER was an appropriate response in their minds?

I take this to heart a little bit, because comics have been a lifelong obsession for me. I wanted to draw them before I decided I could write better than I draw.

Political cartoons are the well respected older brother of comics- the one that did well in school, captained the football team, went off to war, and came back a hero, with a broader worldview and still a sense of humor. And when that older brother dies, everyone shows up to the funeral and pays their respects.

No, it wasn't ALL political cartoonists who died today. But for everyone who has ever shared their passion, and for everyone who has ever taken the time to appreciate what they do, a little piece of us died with those four today. And lest we forget, eight others died with them. May they rest in peace.

-cb 1/7/15, 7:59PM

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Eblogated Man

DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
01/04/15CB 1-Shots #6Eblogated Man(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating ExplanationLast Issue:
EParody fun for everyoneMarvel Mayhem: Operation: Nightstrike
Intro:
I currently have 289 blog posts on CV- more if you count the couple hundred blogs I did as lists. I was going through old character notes last night, when I was reminded of Eblogated Man- my twenty-first blog post to the site. It's not especially epic- just me having fun- but I deleted it somewhere along the way. So I thought I'd re-post it here for nostalgia's sake, and because really, Eblogated Man could have no other home than Comic Vine. -cb

After twenty blog entries on his favorite website, Colin Dibs found himself in a unique set of circumstances. Swinging on a Comic Vine, while drinking his special geekgold formula (a special extract from the famed, fabled Iced Tree - strange, surviving plant of the brewed planet Lypton), Colin was bitten by a radioactive blogging bug, and found that he had the proportionate speed and strength of a blogger, able to stretch any idea into a full length blog entry. His special blogger sense warning him of impending blog ideas, Colin's nose will twitch, as he proclaims, "I smell a blog topic!" Thus, the Eblogated Man was born!

Operating on his Blogputer from his secret Blogcave, the Eblogated Man travels the information superhighway in his special Blogmobile, aka the Thumbler, which looks like a computer mouse. Probably his greatest weapon is his bloggerang. It doesn't really do anything, but it sounds cool. Really, just say it aloud: bloggerang. Fun, isn't it? It's one power seems to be stopping unwanted conversations. The Worldwide Webcrawler is always on the case, pushing his blogger sense to the limits, looking for the next blog topic. His greatest weakness is boredom, and he has found that he is highly allergic to bull... uh... baloney. Recurring enemies include Flamewarriors of the planet Moron, and DD. Not Daredevil, just DD - a woman whose super powers seem to be her giant... distracting... distractions.

Known associates include: The Silicon Surfer - master of the marvelous Motherboard! The Blue Blogger - nimble, acrobatic mind of the Blogosphere, operating from his fantastic Blogship! The Moderators - special Guardians of the Bloggerverse and friends of the forums! And of course, The Marshmallow Manhunter - no real blogging parallel here; I just thought that his weakness to flames would make more sense that way.

So tune in next time, forum fans, for the continuing adventures of the Eblogated Man!

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cb
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The Writers Guild Presents #46 - December, 2014

Writers Guild LibraryGuild GuidelinesDisclaimers (to be added)

Hey there, everyone! This is one of the things I've been wanting to get to with The Writers Guild Presents: "trade paperbacks." I want to do some compilations of some of the multi-chapter stories The WGP has featured in the past, because let's face it- they're pretty great. I think they deserve to be collected all into one thread, and I hope to be switching back-and-forth, between new material and old. I couldn't think of anyone better to start off with than ImpurestCheese, as she has contributed more stories to The WGP than any other writer on the board. Best known in WGP for the excellent "Patron Saint of Crime," this tale is one that will give you a great idea of just what kind of story she can tell. Enjoy. -cb

Marvel Mayhem: Crimson #1, by ImpurestCheese

The stained glass windows of the ‘Sky Top Wedding Chapel’ smashed open. A blur of gold and red threw the stain of scarlet out the window before stopping; the familiar form of Iron Man perched on the top of Las Vegas’ tallest casino as his foe fell to the ground.

“I know what you're thinking,” the scarlet-armoured form of the Crimson Dynamo thought as he fell to the earth, his armour leaving a crater in the steps outside the tower. “That Iron Man has saved the world from the Soviet menace once again. Well you'd be half right. I’m certain that is the Iron Man armour, although the pilot lacks the typical arrogance Stark has. That should give you pause for thought. Who is this man and what history do we have?” he mused as Iron Man landed, his repulsors charged up and ready to fire.

“Alright, Ivan, tonight I rid the world of the legacy of terror you've brought to our shores,” Iron Man hissed coldly. “Tonight is the day you die!”

“Again, I'm certain this isn't Stark. I knew I had this coming the day I left Mother Russia, so death isn't a surprise. I just hope this ends with me. My life in America has been hard but worthwhile; I have a job, friends who treat me with respect, a house, and even a car, not that I use it. I know you're surprised, you always seem surprised. It didn't start like that, but to get to the good memories, you must go through the bad ones. So I begin my last rendition of my life, not in Russia - as fitting as that would be - but in the same spot I'm about to be murdered in: right here on these steps.”

***

Five Months Earlier

Dimitri Bukharin finished polishing the last remaining spot of grime off the hood of the lime green Lotus Elise, before standing back to admire his work. He was finished for the day and had managed to restore several filthy sports cars back to their former glory. “Ironic, if my superiors could see me now, they wouldn't recognise me, but then that’s the point of my disguise,” he thought as he flicked strands of long, black hair from his face. “If people knew that a former terrorist was washing their cars, there would be panic. It’s a good thing I changed my name as well, or I wouldn't even have been able to get this job.”

“Yuri!” A voice barked, and Dimitri turned to see Matt, his potbellied supervisor, roll over to where he was standing. “Good work, as usual! I’m glad I changed my mind on hiring you,” he added before stuffing a wad of bills into Dimitri’s overalls. “You're a hard worker, and efficient, not to mention you have a gift with cars.”

“Thank you,” Dimitri answered. “It comes from years of cleaning the Crimson Dynamo armour, just to qualify for selection process to pilot the suit,” he thought, as a Latino woman in similar overalls trotted over from the Porsche 911 she was cleaning.

“Ah, Angela, here you go. The interiors were slightly rushed, but it was good enough,” Matt stated, handing her a smaller amount of money. “Mr Brant wants to see you before you leave,” he added, as he held out a box before waving it in the car cleaning team’s face. A collective groan left their mouths as they dropped all the keys inside. “Now get lost!” He ordered before rolling back to the valet office.

“That guy is a serious tool,” Angela sighed in her Chilean accent.

Dimitri laughed, “Yes, he is certainly some kind of wrench,” he answered, causing a smile to creep across Angela’s face. “I see no problems with the interiors you cleaned,” he added, before removing a third of his pay from the bundle he had been given, and passing it to her. “For you, my comrade.”

“Oh, Yuri, you know I can’t accept it,” Angela sighed, before giving Dimitri a hug, “but thank you for the offer. I’ll just…work an extra shift or something on the weekends. I’ll be fine.”

“I understand,” Dimitri answered. “Maybe I should make conversation with Matt; talk about expenses and the like.”

“No, you'll only get yourself fired,” Angela gasped. “I have not made a lot of friends since I moved here after my parents died. I don't want to lose you as well,” she added as they meandered through the maze of parked cars, to the maintenance entrance. “Please don't say anything.”

“I promise,” Dimitri told her before crossing his heart. Together, they walked into the employee area, only to see a man dressed in hunting leathers, armed with an AR14 rifle. He was keeping a bead on several employees and their boss, Mr. Brandt, whose face sported several bruises.

“Sit down and shut up!” the man ordered, gesturing for Dimitri and Angela to join their colleagues. “More immigrants, Mister Brandt? Where do these ones come from? While you hire this collection of carpet baggers, terrorists, and thieves, American citizens have to stay unemployed. You settled for cheap labour while your own people starve! How can you live with yourself?”

“I assure you I employ several American workers,” Mr. Brandt stated. “All positions are offered to multiple races, and I make sure not to discriminate against someone, because of their age, sex, religion, or where they come from.”

“Liar!!” the hostage taker bellowed as he popped a red pill, and took a swig from the bottle of water attached to his belt. “I know you prefer cheap immigrants to paying hard working American workers! These people are stealing our livelihoods, and you have the gall to say you don’t discriminate?!”

Dimitri looked at Brandt before turning his attention to the hostage taker. In close combat, the AR14 was a deadly weapon- one that could cause a lot of damage, but the man seemed not to realize that in this space, it would only take a few seconds for an attacker to cross the distance and reach him. In addition, he didn't seem to actively notice anybody other than Brandt. Still, there was a danger, and as a trained soldier, Dimitri recognised it when the man popped another red pill.

“Listen, you are not well,” Brandt stated. “You need a doctor; we have an in house medical centre if you want to lie down.”

“Shut up! These pills make it all make sense!!!” the hostage taker screamed. “The Imperial Forces own this country, and there is no place for effing immigrants on American shore!!” he bellowed, before momentarily taking his finger off the trigger. In that time Dimitri charged, tackling the man to the ground and knocking his weapon away. The other employees scattered once the gun was out of play. With a grunt, the man threw Dimitri off him, the thickset Russian smacking into the wall with a crack. “You think you can stop me?!!” he yelled, as Dimitri got to his feet. “While I have these, I'm like a freight train and nobody can stop me!!” he bellowed, as he slammed a fist into his target’s face, sending him sprawling to the floor. “I am the voice of the American People!!”

“You are about to burn out,” Dimitri stated before the man slammed his boot into the Russian’s chest. “You don't understand what those things do to your body.”

“I know enough!!” the hostage taker hissed, spittle running down his cheeks. “Commander Simpson told me they make me strong, make me unstoppable, and that my mission was to liberate America from those people who wanted to destroy our homes and way of life!” he yelled. Dimitri grabbed him by the leg and toppled him, before placing his knees on the man’s arms, and an elbow against his neck, removing the pot of pills.

“Your commander is sending you out to die!” Dimitri explained, as he forced a blue pill down the man’s throat. “You were to be a martyr for his cause. He wanted you to throw--” Before he could finish, the man kicked him off, grabbing the AR14 from the floor. His hands trembled as he aimed at Dimitri.

“FBI! Both of you, hands up!” a stern voice announced, causing both men to turn and look at the speaker. Armed with a 9mm, and a badge displaying the logo of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, was Angela. “Gun down, now!” she ordered as the man turned back to face Dimitri.

“He'll kill me,” the hostage taker grunted. “Better to die for the cause, than die because of it.” He yelled as he turned to face Angela. The force of the bullets tore through his body, slamming him to the floor.

“He was calming down, the medication…”

“Not a chance I was willing to take,” Angela announced. “I will need you to give an eye witness statement Mr Bukharin.”

“How did you…”

“…know who you are? Did you really think we wouldn't keep an eye on you Crimson Dynamo? I have orders to make sure you didn't get involved in anything criminal, but this…let’s just say you just bought yourself a one way ticket back to Mother Russia.”

Marvel Mayhem: Crimson #2, by ImpurestCheese

The occupants of the car watched as the man clad in irons was led by FBI agents into the waiting Lear Jet. A few minutes later the plane was taxiing down the runway, and took off heading west towards the California coastline.

“Who was that man?” a thickset man with a Russian accent asked, as the driver reversed the car and headed back towards the Vegas strip.

“A low level criminal that works for the crime lord, Alexander Lukin,” Angela replied. “He’s wanted in Russia for supplying arms to Ultranationalist rebels. While the government and SHIELD have placed an order to have you extradited, from what the Bureau has seen, you are to be treated more like a potential asset than a threat.”

“So I am not being sent back to Russia?” Dimitri asked.

“Oh, as you have just seen, Dimitri Bukharin is being extradited; the arrest of Yuri Vikenti was a case of mistaken identity,” Angela explained. “Please understand that the FBI is regretful for any stress you have experienced in the past six hours.”

“Stress? Do you know what they would do to me for deserting the armed forces with a dangerous and classified piece of tech?!” Dimitri spat. “I’d be lucky if it took ten years for them to kill me!”

“You…you still have the Crimson Dynamo armour?” Angela gasped, before heading to the suburbs. “We had no idea. Originally, our surveillance was looking for a man called the Crime Master; a big time criminal who controls two thirds of the organised crime syndicates based on the Vegas strip. Our initial assumption was that Bennett Brand was a business front, although we have long since discarded the idea of him having any real involvement with the Crime Master.”

“What does that have to do with the attack earlier this evening?” Dimitri asked.

“Maybe nothing,” Angela answered. “We have a search out for an ex-marine, Frank Simpson, but his records are sealed by a project called Weapon Plus. We were hoping that you could tell us something about the pills the gunman was taking. That’s why we chose now to pull you in.”

“It is hard to explain,” Dimitri replied as Angela’s face dropped, “but maybe I can show you.”

***

The blacked out BMW stopped outside a ramshackle house in the suburbs, and Dimitri stepped out of the car, followed by Angela. Fishing into his pockets, he brought out a key and unlocked the door before holding it open so his company could enter. Turning on the lights revealed a spartan home, with little inside besides the furnishings and the peeling wallpaper.

“Wow I sort of imagined…” Angela gasped. “You live here?”

“Da,” Dimitri replied. “Best home I've ever had, and the only one not bugged by the KGB,” he added as he walked over to the TV, carefully slid the glass out, and removed a second set of keys. “Only thing worth stealing is in the garage,” he added as he led Angela through a clean kitchen, to a reinforced door with no lock. Taking the key, Dimitri twisted the handle, and activated a tiny pen laser that he shown at three sensors on the wall. With a hiss, the door opened up to reveal the hulking form of the Crimson Dynamo armour.

“Holy Mary mother of God,” Angela swore.

“What? You look as if you had never seen something like this before?” Dimitri asked. “When KGB records list you as White Tiger.”

“How did you…? I was, but after Shadowland, the things I did made me feel less than heroic so I handed over the costume, the amulets, and everything else,” Angela stated. “Luckily, I had my old job to fall back on, although I feel that I don't deserve it. So you brought me here to show something about those pills? Is the armour part of it, or just a backdrop?”

“All Crimson Dynamo armor shares a central archive so pilots can learn from mistakes in the field. Former pilot Alex Nevsky encountered and recorded a similar occurrence in Vietnam when serving in Titanic Three. We can watch video of it, sit back and eat popcorn; I think I have some in my larder.”

Angela cracked a half smile. “You were trying a little too hard to be American there,” she stated coyly.

“Soon, I will be American; I will take citizen test, quit job and open a small garage, just like it says in the American Dream,” Dimitri told her, before giving a short chuckle. Then he tapped a command into the Crimson Dynamo armour.

“You hiring?” Angela asked, as part of the wall retracted and revealed a TV screen. A flickering warning appeared in Cyrillic as the data was streamed from the armour’s memory onto the screen.

***

Rainforest of Vietnam - 1962

“Nevsky, hurry up,” a Russian accented voice stated. The video camera operator moved through the thick brush and emerged into a clearing full of ripped up trees and putrefying corpses.

“You know, I'm envious of you,” the glowing figure of the Radioactive Man sighed. “With your sealed helmets, you can't smell what I can.”

“The sight is bad enough, Doctor Lu,” Nevsky answered. “Bullski, you have most experience in combat. What happened here?”

“The bodies are of Viet Cong fighters and American Gis,” Bullski stated from the thickset Titanium Man armour. “They were both firing in the same direction, and whatever it was shot back. The damage to the trees was caused by .50 calibre rounds shot at a height of four feet above the ground; too low for an armoured vehicle, and the weapon itself would be too heavy to be fired in such a way by a normal human.”

“I'm picking up faint radiological signals as well,” Dr. Lu announced. “It could be a gamma powered creature that did this, although the dosage is too low for a creature like the Hulk.”

“Hmm, pinpoint the source,” Bullski ordered. “I will correlate the wound patterns, and determine if any other weapon was involved. Nevsky, keep watch; the person responsible could return, and we have a duty to the North Vietnamese government to keep her people safe from criminals.”

“Da, comrade Bullski,” Nevsky replied as he walked between where Dr. Lu was searching and where Bullski was scanning bodies. Looking down, he saw a corpse twitch, and bent down, rolling the man over to see his face was tattooed with the image of the American flag. “Over here, this one is alive,” he called.

“Hmm, trace levels of radioactive isotope. It appears to be similar to the one used to create derivatives of Project Legacy; this man is an attempt to create a super soldier,” Dr. Chen stated. “And look, there is the weapon he used to kill all these people. It’s obvious why he would be fighting the Viet Cong, but not his own men, unless the tattoo is meant to be ironic.”

“Maybe the process made him unstable,” Bullski suggested. “The question is what do we do with him? He is now a prisoner and an asset, but not one that would be of use to the Soviet Union or Red China. Yet I am unwilling to send him back to the Americans, lest they set their monster loose again.”

“Wait, he’s trying to speak,” Nevsky hissed, as the man reached for a pouch slung over his shoulders.

“Red to go up, white to calm, and blue to sleep. Need a red. No VC,” the fallen soldier murmured as he reached for a red pill. Aggressively, Bullski struck him before pushing a blue pill down his throat, and throwing the weapon into the bushes.

“There must be something we can do,” Nevsky asked. “He would be killed if he were imprisoned here, and we promised not to kill without reason.”

“What about the Avengers?” Dr. Lu sighed. “As much as I hate them, they are not federated, and could contain him in one of their super gulags. And if he does escape, he will be their problem,” he added, a smile on his face.

“Da, a good idea, Doctor Lu,” Nevsky stated. “I will call Iron Man and bring him here. Until then, keep him calm with the pills, and out of sight,” he stated as the camera turned off.

***

Las Vegas - Present Day

“My god!” Angela gasped. “Everyone was in on it; the Avengers, the Army, probably SHIELD too.”

“One question that needs asking. One that Nevsky, Lu and Bullski didn't get an answer to,” Dimitri stated. “Where did the Avengers put the mad soldier, and who has control of him now?”

Marvel Mayhem: Crimson #3, by ImpurestCheese

Dimitri and Angela stopped outside the Las Vegas branch of the Bar With No Name; a hole in the wall that shook as the patrons drowned their sins in the bottom of their beer glasses. “I thought this place was in New York?” Angela asked.

Nyet.* After Scourge bombed the establishment in New York, the bartender packed up shop and moved down here,” Dimitri told her. “As your American movies say, ‘never before will you see a viler hive of scum and villainy.’”

“I still don’t understand why I have to wear this costume?” Angela asked as she placed an armoured mask on her face that matched the jet-black bodysuit she was wearing. “Do I even look like Black Racer?”

“Enough to confuse the drunks,” Dimitri answered as he flexed his armoured shoulders. “We’re looking for a man called The Profile. He knows everything that’s going on in this city.”

“And the fact that there are going to be some of the worst criminals in the world between him and us?” Angela asked as Dimitri opened the door for her.

“Please. None of the clients are anything close to being the big players of the villain world,” Dimitri answered as they reached the metal detectors in the foyer of the bar. Leaning on the counter, Dimitri turned and glared at the coat-check girl as she sat there open mouthed. “See, if I’m the biggest villain here, then the others are no problem,” he told Angela as she strutted through the metal detectors into the main bar. All around the bar were drinking super villains, each of them seemingly unaware of who had just walked into the room.

“Okay, where is this guy?” Angela asked, as Dr. Sax and Johnny Guitar started to strike up the band, and play their latest hit from their new album, Dazzle Dayz.

“Over there,” Dimitri stated, as he spotted a man sitting in the shadow with a lit cigarette in his hand. “We just have to make sure…”

“Oh wow! You’re the Crimson Dynamo!!” a voice called as Gamecock walked out of the men’s room. “Hey guys, look who’s here.”

“Nothing like that happens?” Angela asked. “You said that you’re the most dangerous man in the room; have fun while I talk to The Profile,” she added as the various low level criminals gathered around him.

“Listen, guys, I can’t talk. I’m in the middle of a…” He stopped as something small crawled up onto his shoulder, and he saw the muzzle of a gun swim into view.

“Talk?” Gamecock snorted. “Somebody is paying us good money to remove non-American criminals from the area, Ruskie.”

“I thought you were citizen of Madripoor?” Dimitri asked as he surveyed the room. He recognised a lot of the criminals as low level thugs and bail jumpers; he wouldn’t even need his weapons to deal with these jokers. Still, words and money were deadlier weapons in this situation. “How much is your employer paying you?” he asked. “Is it worth tussling with somebody like me?”

Gamecock looked at the others before turning to where Angela was talking to The Profile’s bodyguard in the corner. “Hey, Black Racer!!” he yelled. “There’s two million a piece on this guy’s dome! You want in?” he asked.

“Uh, sure,” Angela answered as she walked over. “Whoa, that’s the Crimson Dynamo! You sure we can take him?” she asked.

“Oh, we can take him!” a tall man with a scar running over his eye hissed. “Name’s Big Wheel, and this motley gang is my crew: The Wheels of Injustice. Ain’t nothing personal, Red. It’s just business,” he added.

“Da, so is this,” Dimitri sighed before shaking his head, and knocking off the diminutive Elf who was holding a gun at his head. Before he could move any further, the rest of the villains dogpiled him, the majority only holding on for a few seconds before being flung off, save for the snake-headed felon known as Slither. Unhinging his mouth, the villain bit down on the armoured helmet of the Crimson Dynamo armour, his fangs splintering before receiving a punch from Angela.

“Okay, partner, it’s two-on-eight, so who exactly are we dealing with?” she asked. A woman armed with swords slashed at her, only for the undercover agent to slip under her guard, and push her back into the ranks of The Wheels of Injustice.

“Big Wheel appears to be the leader; the others are Gamecock, Slither, Elf with a Gun, Porcupine, Eel, and what appear to be new versions of Screaming Mimi and Coldheart,” Dimitri answered as he slammed a fist into the Eel’s jaw, sending him flailing to the floor. “Curious; I thought the Eel was in prison after that fiasco in New York.”

“I was, but an unknown benefactor paid my bail,” The Eel hissed, as Angela kicked the Elf with a Gun into Gamecock; the pair of thugs toppling to the floor.

“This is so unfair,” Porcupine whined as he tackled Dimitri, forcing him away from the Eel. “We only joined because we needed the money to start our own radio series in the back room of the bar.”

“Maybe you should have just said no and got a job,” Dimitri answered as he removed a pair of embedded quills from his armour.

“Shut up and do what I tell you!!” Big Wheel roared as he ran out of the bar. “Hold them in place so I can turn them into roadkill,” he ordered as Screaming Mimi let out an ear-splitting moan that drowned out the sounds of the band.

“Hey b***h!!” Johnny yelled as Sax nodded to him. “Stop horning in on our gig!!” he ordered before striking a power cord that sent the members of The Wheels of Injustice scuttling backwards.

“Cowards!!” Gamecock yelled as the floor started to rumble, and the Big Wheel smashed through the front of the building. Freezing like a rabbit caught in headlights, Gamecock stood stock still as the Wheel slammed into him, and the force of the blow sent him crashing into the bar. Spinning around, the Big Wheel locked onto Dimitri and charged straight at him, his target standing stock still as he got closer.

“Dimitri, move!!” Angela yelled as she dived out the way. Beneath his helmet Dimitri smiled, before sidestepping the speeding wheel and ripping the gyroscope out, the damage causing the big wheel to fall on its side with a thud.

“Anyone else?” Dimitri asked, as the rest of The Wheels of Injustice pulled the wincing form of Big Wheel out of the wreckage.

“This isn’t over!!” Big Wheel snarled as his teammates dragged him away, leaving Gamecock slouched against the bar. As they left, the sound of sarcastic applause sounded, and both Angela and Dimitri turned to see The Profile clapping as he walked towards them.

“For a show like that, the information is on the house,” The Profile stated as he lit up a second cigarette. “Or what’s left of it. That address is where Simpson’s drug source can be found. But I’d be careful if I were you.”

“Careful?” Angela asked. “What do you know that you’re not telling us about?”

“Let’s just say Simpson’s partners have some very advanced ideas about the product he’s shifting,” The Profile stated as he took a long drag on his cigarette. “Very advanced indeed.”

*Nyet is Russian for "no." -editor cb (I've always wanted to do that)

Merry Christmas from me, and happy holidays of whatever kind for the rest of you! See you sometime in January for #47. Until then, if you want to submit something, new or old, just contact me in PM- it's really that simple. Don't forget to check out the other stories in the Fan-Fic forum. Thanks for stopping in, and thanks for reading. -cb

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CCC #33 - Voting Thread

"We're going to need Batman for this."

Welcome to the voting thread for Character Creation Contest #33. This time, we had to create a villain for Batman, and the villains were cool all around.

For the contest, the rules were:

  • Give your villain a cool name.
  • Have your villain fight Batman.
  • No retconning your villain into continuity. Your villain is new. No history with Batman, the Bat-Family, or any established villains. However, this does NOT mean that your character can't meet established villains or Bat-Fam.

Compared to the previous contest, we only had half the entries this time, so you only have to read five stories to make your decision, and they're all fun. So now that you know that...

The voting rules are:And for the writers in this contest:
  • Read the entries
  • Vote for your favorite
  • Deadline is January 2nd, 11:59pm GMT (Google "What is GMT time now" if you need to [I do])
  • If you wrote, you should vote
  • No voting for yourself

Now, on to the stories!

ImpurestCheese: New Detective Tales #1 - Nerves of Steel

New Detective Tales #1 - Nerves of Steel

Roof of the ArmTrac Building, Gotham City

The formally sleeping man opened his eyes and screamed as he looked down over the side of the building at the streets below. For a brief moment he thought he was going to fall only to realise he was in a lot more trouble.

“Oh man please I don’t know nothing.” The man groaned as he looked up to see a well built man dressed in black standing above him, his left leg clamped firmly in his assailants hand.

“The Penguin is receiving a shipment of anti air missiles,” The figure snarled, “where is the exchange being made!!”

“The boss will kill me.” The man whimpered. “I can't tell ya even if I knew.” He added as the man holding his leg let him go, his body flailing as he fell before coming to a stop only a few meters off the ground. Struggling he felt pressure on the line and watched the ground shrink away as the man pulled him back up to the roof.

“Your weight stretched out the line; if I drop you again you’ll be in no state to be hoisted back up. So tell me where the Penguin’s Arms Dealers are meeting!”

“I tell you, you put me away somewhere he can’t get to me right?” The man asked as he felt a warm sensation creep down his body.

“The location!!” The man above growled impartially.

“The docks near the Guild-Hall Shipping Building, that’s where his men are meeting the arms dealers.” The man practically screamed. “Now let me go.”

“As you wish!” The man snarled before letting the man go, his screams being cut short as he fell unconscious as he came to a stop at the same point as the last time he was let go. Stepping out of the shadows the well recognised form of Gotham’s Dark Knight emerged and tapped the communication link in his cowl.

“Oracle I need information on any arrivals near the Hall Shipping Building.” He growled as he moved to the north -west edge of the building and looked across to the coast and the three freighters docked nearby.

“There are three vessels currently docked there; two of them are Australian owned and have been docked for days, the later arrived a few hours ago and is registered as The Lammergeyer's Shadow and last made port in Odessa.” Oracle replied over the communications link as Batman took to the air. “Reports suggest a crew of thirteen, most likely armed with automatic weapons.”

“They won’t be a problem.” Batman growled as he soared over the streets, his gaze focused on the ship. As he got closer he dropped onto the roof of the Guild-Hall building and scanned the dock of the ship. “Oracle there is no guards on the deck and no party meeting them.”

“Already hacking into a satellite and running a thermal scan.” Oracle replied as Batman turned to check the decks of the two other ships, only to see no sign of anything out of the ordinary. “I’m not picking any heat signatures on the ship. I hate to say it but we may be in the wrong place” She added as Batman launched himself off the edge of the building only for a massive hand to reach out from just under the roof and grab his cape, the ad hoc gliding surface ripping and sending him falling to the floor.

“Good thing you're never wrong.” Batman stated as the figure clutching onto the side of the building leapt down onto the dock. The figure stood just shy of seven foot and was clad in jagged edged armour, the titanium plates painted white covering its entire body save for the face hidden by a gas mask, the breathing tubes connected into the shoulder pieces of its armour. “Where is the Penguin’s Arms Deal!?” Batman snarled at the mysterious figure only to be answered by the sound of laughter, the noise echoing from behind the mask.

“You will talk just like all the others!” Batman threatened as he released a handful of Batarangs, all aimed at the breathing tubes only for his opponent to snatch the first two out of the air and block the third with his arm. By the time he had lowered it Batman had covered the thirty meters between them and aimed a punch to the face, his opponent taking the blow and slamming him away. Turning the blow into momentum Batman released another swarm of Batarangs, as this time his opponent blocked all three before lunging forward right to where his attacker was going to land and catching him by the leg and slamming him into the floor.

“Bruce are you okay?” Oracle asked as Batman got to his feet and aimed a punch at his foe’s midsection, each blow slamming into the armour before he was pushed away.

”Just tell me who this thing is?” Batman asked as his attacker surged forward and slammed a fist in his direction. Dodging the blow Bruce charged his attackers back only to receive an elbow in the face, one that caused him to skid across the concrete. Before he could recover Batman dropped a pair of smoke grenades, thick grey gas erupting over the docks and concealing him from his attackers view. Silently Bruce grappled up to the nearest crane and watched as his opponent shook himself before turning and leaping up at him, the force of his landing knocking Batman from his perch.

“Found a match on the Checkmate database.” Oracle stated as the attacker landed only a few feet from where Batman had touched down. “He’s an armoured mercenary known professionally as Neuron,” She added as Batman dodged left only to be grabbed by Neuron, a massive arm wrapping around his torso, “reports show that he’s a walking nerve cluster, no-one has seen his face but Intel suggests he used to work in a chemical weapons factory in Syria before…”

“Before what Barbara!?” Bruce yelled as Neuron placed thick snake like fingers on the optics in his cowl, the force causing the lenses to crack.

“Two years ago the Justice League fought Dr. Poison at the same factory Neuron was working at. During the battle the plant exploded, all the workers were out save for those working in the packing area.” Oracle explained as Batman lashed out at Neuron’s neck, the electric charge running up and down his gloves causing his breathing tubes to explode and his mask to fall off. “Most of them died…”

“…save for one.” Bruce answered as he looked at Neuron’s now exposed face, if layered neural cords constricting around one another can be called a face. With a groaning roar Neuron ran at Bruce just as he threw a Batarang, the mercenary dodging the projectile as it arched back round and sliced through the weakened crane. With the sound of hissing sparks the crane fell, Batman grappled up onto the ship, Neuron leapt backwards but not enough as the superstructure came crashing down onto his legs, his armour shredding but his flesh of exposed nerves and muscle remaining intact. Shaking himself Neuron leapt onto the deck of the ship and looked around before focusing on the faint sound of a heart beat coming behind one of the crates.

Walking over he slammed his hand down, his hands ripping the metal away only to see a Batarang clamped to the side of the box. Narrowing what passed for eyes Neuron turned and leapt away a hair too late as the Batarang detonated, the sparks sending him convulsing to the floor, the crates contents exploding seconds later, fire engulfing the mercenary in a brief brilliant flash.

“Bruce are you okay?” Oracle called as she watched the sat feed and saw The Lammergeyer’s Shadow go up in flames.

“I’ll live.” Batman answered as he got to his feet. “Penguin’s Ground to Air Missiles are destroyed as well.”

“And Neuron?”

“Gone.” Bruce answered as he spied the trail of nervous fluid leading away from the ship. “He’ll be back though.”

“There is more you need to know, the factory Neuron used to work in was owned by Oswald Cobblepot.” Oracle announced as Bruce leapt off the burning deck of the ship.

“He wasn't here for me.” Bruce snarled. “He came looking for the Penguin!!” He snarled as he switched lines in what was left of his cowl. “Alfred.”

“Already in motion, your replacement cape and cowl will be arriving shortly.” Alfred announced. “Sir what do you plan to do when you find Neuron, he doesn't seem to be the kind that listens to reason.”

“I'm not going after Neuron, not right away, even wounded he’s still almost untouchable. Instead scan for reptilian DNA, more precisely that of a snake. I know Copperhead is in town and his venom may just be enough to shut down Neuron long enough for him to be contained.” Bruce stated as he caught a glimpse of a jet black plane slash through the night sky.

”And how do you plan to obtain Copperhead’s venom? I doubt he will hand it over willingly.” Alfred asked.

“He will after I'm done with him.” Bruce snarled as a supply pod slammed down on the roof of the Guild-Hall. “And then I’m going after Penguin and Neuron. It’s time I shut Cobblepot down for good.”

Jkutz: The Gravekeeper

My plan to defeat the Dark Knight was put in motion after the bombing of an empty warehouse that was adjacent to Ace Chemicals; this was of course just used to gain his attention, large enough to scare, but remote enough to not hurt anyone. I had waited in the shadows while my involuntary “partner”, Two-Face, acted out as the main perpetrator of this crime. Sure enough the Batman showed in a matter of minutes and started a brawl with the luck-crazed lunatic. As I expected the lowly rouge only lasted for about three minutes, and now it was my turn to act.

“Why hello Dark Knight, I see you have dispatched of my minion rather quickly” I chortled from the shadows, hiding on the second story roof across the street from what used to be a warehouse.

“Where are you scum, show yourself!” he shouted at me. I proceeded to float down on my personal flotation device and introduced myself,

“Why here I am Bruce, it’s time for you to meet your makers..hahaha…” I scoffed at him.

…………….

The guy was just another new creep, someone I haven’t seen before, but nonetheless he needed to be put down. Someone who is ordering lunatics to go around Gotham setting off bombs needed to be. He floated down on what looked like a hover-board made in the shape of a cross, he had a dark green hood with a metallic mask in the shape of a skull. This lead me to believe that he had either a fascination with death or powers that deal with death, either way I had to take him down.

“Ah where are my manners, I am the Gravekeeper, and I have come to find a new champion in you Bruce Wayne.”

“What do you want from me?” I asked the man, hoping to get more information out of him, I was especially worried that he knew who I actually was, this wasn’t the first time I dealt with someone deducing my identity but I needed to be careful that he wouldn’t spread that information.

“Allow me to alleviate your mind, I have no intention of revealing your identity, I only have one purpose for tonight...to test whether you can become the hero Gotham will need in the coming days, or if I need to find a new champion.” he told me. I gathered that he had mind reading capabilities, so I toughened up the defence on that front so that he couldn’t use that against me. I was also greatly concerned by what he meant by me becoming the hero that Gotham needs in the “coming days”. I decided to humor him to try and fish more information out of him,

“Alright I’ll bite, what is this test of yours, what do I need to prove to you?” I asked him.

“Let me show you….” He said rather ominously, all of a sudden a greenish force-field of some-sort formed around our immediate area, giving us about the space between the destroyed warehouse and the building he came down from. I looked up and a smaller version of what was around us surrounded him.

“Let us begin Bruce Wayne…” He taunted, some kind of green mystical energy emerged from his hands and he shot two different beams at the ground directly below him. What formed after that were two circles of roses, a rather odd display but I was still as cautious as ever. The ground began to arise and what emerged from the rose-circles were two large wooden coffins, and when that happened I knew what was in them, however impossible it seemed, I knew this test was going to be one of the most difficult in my life.

“I suppose you have figured out what I am about to show you, let me relay the full test before you get to see them, you will fight them, and either you defeat them or I blow up every single subway-station within Gotham, all I have to do is give the command and Two-Face will awake and set off the pre-placed bombs, and how unlucky for you, he;s outside of the containment field. Now without further-or-do, Bruce, say hello to mommy and daddy.” He explained to me. My parents emerged from the coffins, they looked completely rejuvenated and as they were right before they were shot.

“You’ll notice you parents have their exact personalities, I haven’t tampered with them, but I have increased their strength to your level and I will be forcing them to fight you, we have to keep this a fair fight after all.” He said.

“Parents….Bruce is that you?” Martha said, My mind was racing, I was trying to find a way out of this, but I couldn't let those people die. I didn’t even know how he pulled it off, I just went to visit their graves yesterday and their grave sites were intact. I intended to ask him how he did it but before I could he said,

“Don’t bother with the “how” of this situation is occurring, you need to solve this predicament, and don’t bother trying to contact the police, the containment field prevents you from doing so. So how about it Thomas and Martha? Are you ready to try and kill your son?” He asked, his voice sounding like he was talking to a puppy or a small child.

“Bruce, what are you doing here? How long have we been gone?” My father asked me.

“Enough talk! Time to fight!” The Gravekeeper shouted, and right then my parents moved to strike me, I couldn't bring myself to fight back so I just blocked and dodged their attacks.

“Bruce you need to fight back! You won’t be able to keep this up, our time is passed, you need to do what you need to do.” My father told me, but it didn't matter, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I continued to keep maneuvering around their punches and kicks, but my father was right, I wouldn't be able to keep this up forever. I thought about all I had done because of them and all the good that had come out of their inspiration, and I did what anyone would do in this situation, I stopped blocking and allowed them to pummel me.

“Bruce what are you doing, you need to protect yourself!” My mother shouted at me, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I took blow after blow, I couldn't let them suffer through this anymore, so I accepted my fate, I was beaten and I knew this.

“What are you doing, you’re just giving up?!” The Gravekeeper shouted, and shortly after he said this it all went away. My parents were gone and the containment field was down.

“I had higher hopes for you Bruce, I thought you had finally gotten over them and accepted the rationality behind their deaths.” The Gravekeeper said to me, in a much more serious tone,

“I will need to find a proper champion in time for the impending attack, farewell Bruce, keep defending your city, become better from this, and I hope we can work together someday” He said, which confused me, I thought this “test” was all a ruse to just try and kill me. I needed to ask him what attack was coming and why a test this extreme was necessary, but before I could, he vanished. I then rushed to make the necessary preparations for a serious attack that may be arriving on Earth in the near future.

……….

Unfortunately the Dark Knight had failed to show that he was up to the task to protect Earth, he couldn't make the tough decision to sacrifice his moral standing and human nature in order to fight an enemy that is going to use similar tactics that are much more severe. I must find someone else who may be up to the task before it is too late.

Batkevin74: Crossbow Man

Sneedville, Tennessee

“You could not!” stated Doyle as he finished off his bottle of Flying Saucer Stout and shoved back to his bartender friend Jimmy who grabbed the bottle flung it spectacularly into the air and then caught it inches before it hit the bar.

“He’s just a man,” replied Jimmy as he tossed the beer in the recycling and popped the top off another.

“He’s the $#@^ BATMAN!” cried Doyle as he motioned for the beer.

Jimmy looked at the bottle then his friend and smiled “Wanna bet?”

Doyle stopped, slightly confused as he thought about what was going on. “Back up. You, Jimmy Brown, are going to kill Batman. Is this correct?”

“Yup”

Doyle burst into laughter. The kind of laughter that makes you cry and it hard to breathe. Jimmy watched his friend have a fit. Doyle wiped his eyes and giggled “You are going to end up in hospital, you idiot!”

“So it’s a bet then?”

Doyle tossed his wallet on the bar “Sure, why not. Whatever I have on me is yours.”

Jimmy opened the wallet “Sixty two dollars.”

“We live in Sneedville not Metropolis,” Doyle replied as he reached for the bottle.

“And your pickup.” Jimmy added leaning forward.

Doyle looked at his friend. “You’re going to kill Batman for sixty two dollars and my $#!tt^ blue car? Done! What do I get when you lose?”

“If!”

“WHEN!” corrected Doyle.

Jimmy looked around “You can have my job.”

“I don’t want your job!” laughed Doyle “I have a crap dead end job in this dirt poor boring old town that I hate. Why would I want yours?”

Jimmy shrugged “Dunno.”

“Well…how about the key to the museum?” Doyle said suggestively. "Your mom works there."

“You want your great grand uncle’s rifle don’t you?”

“It’s a family antique that belongs with family,” said Doyle matter of factly. “Not sitting in a two-bit shack in a one-bit town.”

“You’re going to sell it, aren’t you.”

“What do you care? You’re gonna go kill Batman for a car.” Doyle sipped his beer. “So we have a bet or what?”

Jimmy thrust out his hand “Deal! I win I get your car and sixty two bucks; you win and I get you the key so you can steal that gun you want.”

**

“You’re still here?” said Doyle as he wandered into the bar. “Gotham City is a thousand miles thataway!”

Jimmy pulled a face and slid a Flying Saucer Stout down the bar to his friend. “I’m waiting for the internet.”

“Huh?”

Jimmy walked over “I ordered some stuff on the internet. Hasn’t arrived yet.”

“Did you buy a costume?” asked Doyle as he studied Jimmy’s face that looked like a kid trying to keep a secret. “You bought a costume!”

“I’m gonna look good when I kill Batman,” Jimmy said nonchalantly. “Plus some weapons.”

Doyle paused mid-sip “You bought weapons off the web?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re going to get your head broken,” laughed Doyle. “Seriously, you’re a dead man walking.”

Jimmy sneered “Just wait Doyle, you’ll see.”

**

“You can’t let him die of old age and claim it was you!” said Doyle as he entered the bar. Jimmy ignored him and got out a beer for his friend. “What’s the hold up? Was it a ladies costume?”

“The crossbow bolts weren’t pure silver,” Jimmy said.

“What?”

“Batman may be a vampire. So I’m making sure so I need pure silver tips for my crossbow.”

“Batman’s a vampire?”

Jimmy shrugged “Maybe a werebat. Not sure but silver works on both of them.”

“He could be an alien.”

“Don’t be stupid! There’s no such thing!”

Doyle shook his head “But vampires and were..., what’s a werebat anyway?’

“It’s like a werewolf but a bat.”

Doyle rubbed his nose “But aliens aren’t real?”

“Just you make sure your truck has a full tank of gas,” Jimmy said “He’ll be dead by Monday.”

**

“So?” Jimmy stood in the men’s room of the bar in full costume. Doyle burst into laughter and it reverberated through the bathroom like it was Carnegie Hall.

“What does the C stand for?” guffawed Doyle supporting himself against the hand dryer to prevent falling over.

“Crossbow Man!” Doyle shrieked and hit the floor. Jimmy looked in the mirror and thought he looked pretty cool. “Ahh shut up!”

Doyle tried to speak but couldn’t due to laughter.

**

Bus Terminal, Gotham City

The coach finally pulled into Gotham. It’d been a long uncomfortable ride from Sneedville but Jimmy was finally here. He was surprised at the amount of people bustling about the place, the whole population of his hometown was only fifteen hundred and there seemed to be that many people just here at the bus terminal. Cars, bikes, buses, taxis raced through the streets making a terrible sound. Jimmy hefted his bag and headed into the city.

**

Amusement Mile, Gotham City

Jimmy threw off his trenchcoat and hat “I am the Crossbow Man!”

The Sunday morning crowd of Gothamites barely noticed as the man in black with a white C on his chest started yelling at them. Jimmy was slightly confused at their apathy, which made him angry and he fired a crossbow bolt into the leg of the closest person.

“I SAID I AM THE CROSSBOW MAN!” roared Jimmy as the crowd responded as any group would when a costumed man fires crossbow bolts into a crowd; they screamed and panicked. Jimmy smiled as he loaded another bolt. “Whenever you’re ready Batman.”

**

Batman looked down from his vantage point at the man holding eight people hostage. He’d picked up the call via the scanner.

-Male, causcasian, thirties, possibly from Tennessee judging by speech pattern and tone, left handed- Batman checked the sight lines and angles as he watched the man below. –Count seven bolts, carbon fibre, costume shows no sign of upgrades or tech-

“WHERE IS HE?” Crossbow Man yelled. “WHERE’S BATMAN?”

“Right here!” said the cold grim voice from behind him. Jimmy nearly soiled himself. He began to turn but it was over before it began. A right chop to the neck followed by a left cross to the jaw. As he sailed to the ground he was disarmed, flipped over to his front and driven onto the concrete floor like a nail into wood. The whole “fight” lasted less than six seconds. He tried to get up but a tap to the temple knocked him out cold.

**

Sneedville, Tennessee

Doyle sat at the bar sipping his beer and looking at the front page of the Sneedville Shopper and smiled. He might have to wait a while but he’d soon be getting his hands on his great grand uncle’s Civil War rifle.

**

Arkham Asylum

“I AM NOT INSANE!” Jimmy yelled and spat as he bucked against his restraints as they wheeled him down the corridor towards his cell. Dr Jeremiah Arkham flipped through his chart as he walked along beside him.

“That remains to be seen, Mr Brown,” the doctor said as he signed off on the chart and left for the evening.

Gumflabica: The Surgeon

"Jesus Damon, are you crazy?" Gage was a thin man. Timid-looking, but suave at the same time. He wore an open sleeveless black jacket with the collar popped, and a blue dress shirt underneath with a red clip-on skinny tie. His hair was a brown pompadour, his face clean shaven. His eyes were a grayish blue, like ice. His voice and posture was an odd mixture of confidence and fear, as if he could tell you a harsh truth one moment and flinch when you next moved. He handled the business, and did the talking.

"No, man, I'm serious. We can do this!" Damon spoke with a lisp. He wore a leather jacket with a red shirt underneath, and the not great summer choice of leather pants. He had black hair, brushed to the side and slightly spiked. He had a thin goatee that did not fully form in a circle, and made wild gestures with his hands as he spoke. He funded it all. "We can kill Bat-freak."

The two looked over to Mike, who sat in a corner. He was an older man. He had short but shaggy dark brown hair and a full goatee. He wore glasses and a bandage on the bridge of his nose, and looked tired. As if he had given in to all the world had thrown at him and was just counting the days. He was the genius behind it all.

"Exactly! Tell 'im Mike." A smile spread across Damon's face. "It's simple, really. All we need is-" Gage cut him off. "If it's so damn simple, why hasn't anybody done it yet?" Mike gave Gage an icy stare. "Because the only people smart enough to get that close have with-held any information." Everyone leaned in.

"You remember Bane, the luchador freak? He broke the man's back. Bruce Wayne's back broke that same night. Attention to detail can get you past the makeup he covers his cuts and bruises with. And Gage, you worked as an accountant for his company, and there are millions, billions even funneled into unexplained expenses. It's so painfully obvious, it's funny."

Gage's jaw dropped, and Damon stood up. He began to clap. "Yeah, baby! Let's do this! Oh man, this is f*ckin' great! Just tell me what you need and it's yours man!" Mike looked around, as if he had heard something. "Damon, I need you to get Batman's attention. Gage, I need you to go to Bruce Wayne's mansion while he's out. Bring whatever thugs you need to, clear the place out, hide the bodies, and find his base of operations. Wait for him there, and put a bullet in his face. Multiple men, from multiple angles, aiming for the chin. He goes down like a sack of bricks, and the criminals have no reason to commit crime. They do what they do for Batman. Then, this city can sleep peacefully and in safety. We're doing the world a favor."

"Well how do I get his attention?" Damon. looked around, as if he too had heard something. Mike smiled. "If Batman is Wayne, we can hit him where it hurts. Burn the theater where Wayne was orphaned. Light 'er up, get in your car, and fall asleep or something. I dunno, get a junker, dress like a bum. As long as he's gone and spends time looking."

Gage stood up and pulled a revolver from his waistband. Tears rolled down his face. "I'm sorry man, they're makin' me man, they're gonna kil 'im!" Mike stood up and drew his revolver as well. "What do you whoever from killing me? We share a goal!"

"Oh shi-" Damon turned and ran towards the door, but was cut off when a shotgun blast caught him in the lower gut through the doorknob. The door swung open to reveal Batman, holding a shotgun. The sudden noise caused Mike to shoot Gage in the face, killing him instantly. He pointed the gun at Batman "Who are you!?" Two rounds bounced off of Batman's chest, before Mike received a shotgun blast to the chest. Damon was bleeding out on the ground, and along with blood, managed to choke out "That's not fuckin' Batman!" The impersonator tossed his shotgun to the side, and retrieved an axe propped up against the wall. He looked down, and raised his weapon. In a deep, gravelly voice, possibly electronically modified, he spoke. "I'm the surgeon."

Bullet holes were found in the walls, but no guns or shell casings could be found. The charred bodies were found with all teeth removed, and there were no cars found near the meeting site. 2 weeks later Commissioner Gordon received an envelope. It contained the teeth of Gage, Damon, and Mike. The envelope had no postmark. Many policemen were set to guard the Commissioner.

3 knocks. A well dressed man was outside. The guards were hesitant to open the door. "Hey, Gordon, you know this guy?" The Commisioner shouted down from his office. "Who is he?" The guard shook his head. "Just look at him. The dude's wearin' a sweater vest, he don't got no damn gun." The Commisioner hesitantly peeked around te corner. The well-dressed man smiled. "I just came by to tell you how dreadfully sorry I am about this whole ordeal. It seems to be causing you a great deal of stress." The Commisioner stopped down the stairs. "What do you mean you're sorry." The man looked down to his feet. He began to laugh a bit. "You know what I mean." He said with a wide grin. "You know exactly what I mean!" He pulled a Glock from the back of his waistband and fired a round into the Commisioner's shoulder, and one into the guard's head. 4 more guards came, one by the stairs, a second door guard, and 2 living room guards. The Man tore off his dress clothes, revealing a Batman costume, he pulled the cowl over his head, and grabbed an axe propped up against the side of the building. He buried it into the door guard's head and shot 3 rounds into the stair guard's chest. He turned and dispatched the living room guards. He realized te Commisioner had fled. He laughed and followed up the stairs. A back door guard hid at the bottom, and opened fire on The Surgeon. They bounced off the cape and armored back of the cowl. The Surgeon pulled the pin on a grenade and dropped it down the stairs. He took cover around a corner, and a sickening smile spread across his face at the sound of the scream of a man who would be dead in seconds. He saw a blood-smeard doorknob, and shot off the lock.

"Get down here now! He's in the building!" The door swung open. The Surgeon carried an Axe and a Glock 17. He holstered his pistol. "He's coming?" The Commissioner nodded his head rapidly. "I'll wait." Minutes Later, Batman crashed through the window. He and the surgeon exchanged glares and snarls, before exchanging blows. The Surgeon swung his axe, which Batman easily ducked under. Batman followed this with a kick to the chin from the ground, but The Surgeon quickly regained balance and drew his pistol. He shot Commisioner Gordon in the leg, distracting Batman, and retrieved his axe. He feigned a swing to the legs and kicked Batman in the chin. The Caped Crusader rolled away from the axe strike, but lost part of his cape. A swift uppercut knocked The Surgeon to the ground. Batman dove for the axe and threw it out the window. The Surgeon, distresses and angry at this point, drew his pistol and shot for the chin. All shots blocked. Empty clip. There was no time to reload. The Surgeon tried his best to last against Batman in unarmed combat. Most of the Surgeon's strikes, although precise, were quickly blocked and countered. A final blow sent The Surgeon into the wall. As he began to black out, he saw Batman tending to the Commisioner.

"'The Surgeon' eh? Just another hotshot lookin' to get in the news, I say." The Arkham Inmates chuckled as a grim-looking middle-aged man with police escorts walked down a corridor. He had short, brushed, light-brown hair and scars above his eye and on his upper lip. He saw the inmates, and smiled a bit. He grabbed the gun of the guard infront of him, and shot one of the inmates in the face before being tazed profusely.

He'd spent 6 months in iso. He awoke to the sounds of gunfire and screaming. His door opened, and some crazed thugs in Clownface threw him an axe and a cowl. From across the room, he heard a man shouting. "Get the f*ckin' Surgeon out here, yeah!" He slipped on the cowl, and readied his axe. It was time to repeat the cycle.

Cbishop: The Woman in White

Ten years ago- Slaughter Swamp:

“Mister Gold?” the woman called, knocking on the door of the ramshackle cabin. “Cyrus? Hello? Are you home? It’s me, Maria White. I’ve brought you some groceries.”

A minute passed. Maria heard nothing, save for the croak of tree frogs, the buzz of mosquitoes, and the occasional splash of what was probably a gator. She shifted the paper bag from one arm to the other, and was just about to knock again, when she finally heard movement from inside. She heard the rattle of a slide bolt on the door, and then the door opened slightly, to allow a man to peer out. She smiled. “Hi, Cyrus. It’s Thursday- I brought you some groceries.”

The door opened wide. “Mrs. White?” asked the older man now filling the doorway. He coughed. “Please, come in,” he said, standing aside from the door. “You shouldn’t keep coming out here. This swamp isn’t safe.”

Entering the cabin, she smiled and said, “That’s why I bring my daddy’s forty-five with me.” She pulled the butt of the gun from the grocery bag to show him, and then let it slide back into the bag. “Any gator tries to get fresh, I’ll make a pair of shoes out of him.” She set the groceries down on the wooden table.

Cyrus sounded a bit self conscious as he said, “That might serve you better than those heels. And all that white? Out here in the swamps?” He sniffled, then coughed again.

“Oh, this,” she laughed. “I’m going from here to meet my husband at a Halloween party- he’s dropping the baby off at the sitter’s. After walking through the grime of Gotham, nobody’s going to pay any attention to a little mud. If they do, I’ll just tell them that I had to tussle with a badguy in an alleyway.” She reached one hand in the air, and swept the other over the length of the dress. “So soon after the baby, not waddling like a panda anymore, I wanted to feel like a woman tonight. I’m Domino Lady. What do you think?”

Cyrus glanced at the floor, and then back at Maria, clearly a little uncomfortable. “You’re quite the lovely woman in white, Mrs. White.”

“Aw, Cyrus, you’re sweet,” she said, putting a hand on his cheek. “Let’s hope Tim thinks the same as you. He’s going as The Spider.” She stretched up and pecked the older man on the cheek. “I’ll see you next week. Feel better, okay?”

His lower lip wavered a little bit at her kindness, and after a moment, he said, “You’re a good woman, Mrs. White. Please be caref--”

BLAM!

A shotgun blast, somewhere outside, interrupted the man’s words. Then another.

BLAM!

Maria immediately grabbed the forty-five from the grocery bag, and flipped off the safety. “Cyrus, wait here.”

“Mrs. White! No!” the big man said, but a sudden coughing fit made him too slow to stop her from going out the door.

She was barely out the door when something hit her from behind, knocking her to the ground, and the gun falling a few feet away. She rolled over quickly, and found herself looking up at a scaly, green lizard man. “Aren’t you pretty meat for Killer Croc?” said the creature.

“Croc! No!” came a voice from behind her.

Killer Croc jerked his head up towards the other voice, and Maria wasted no time. Grabbing the forty-five, she shot him twice in the midsection, which sent him tumbling backwards. He got up and ran, stumbling towards the swamp. She jumped to her feet, pointing the gun in his direction, but heard the distinctive shlick-shlack of a shotgun being pumped, from behind her. “I really wish you wouldn’t do that, miss,” said the voice, smoothly. Then it added with a growl, “Put the gun down, turn around, and please don’t make me ask twice.”

Maria reached slowly to one side, tossed the gun away, and turned around. She wanted to scream. She found herself looking at a man whose face was hideously scarred on one side, untouched on the other. Oddly, his suit was loud and tacky on the scarred side of his body, and crisp and businesslike on the unspoiled side. He held Cyrus at gunpoint, and motioned for both of them to get on their knees. “I’m sorry, Mrs. White,” said Cyrus, followed by a hacking cough.

“Who are you?” she asked.

The man turned the cleanshaven, untouched side of his face towards her, smiled, and said, “Ah, so kind of you to ask. My name is Harvey Dent.” Quickly turning the scarred side towards her, making her flinch, he added, “But every other person calls me Two-Face.” Looking towards the swamp, Harvey said, “I hope you didn’t hurt Croc. Good help is hard to come by. I had convinced him we were two of a kind- both monsters,” he said with a sneer.

“What do you want?” Maria said with as much defiance as her fear would allow.

Two-Face turned his attention back to her and looked her over. “What’s that?” he said, pointing. “There, in your belt, what is that? Hand it here.”

Maria reached to her belt, pulled loose a scrap of cloth, and handed it over. Harvey looked at it and smiled. “Ah, a domino mask!” Moving his face closer to hers, he said, “A dual identity then? Oh, I like that. Yes, indeed.

“Well, to answer your question, I had to come out here tonight to take care of a couple of turncoats. Feeding snitches to the fishes,” he growled. “Croc was going to take them deep, make sure they didn’t resurface. Now, I’ve got two witnesses to two murders, half of whom has a second identity and put two shots into my partner.” Smiling wickedly at Maria, he said, “I like your style. I really do. But now you’ve made twice the work for me. So what say we give you a fifty-fifty chance of getting out of this?”

He pulled a coin from his pocket, and turned it over so they could see it- clean on one side, scarred with an “X” on the other. In one fluid motion, he rolled it on top of his thumb and flipped it in the air. It spun upwards, hesitated, and flipped back down to his hand. Catching it in his fist, he looked at it, then held it out to Maria in an open palm. “Sorry.”

As he pocketed the coin and swung the shotgun upwards from his side, Cyrus jumped to his feet, catching Two-Face with an uppercut, followed by a savage right, and shouted, “Run, Maria!” before being wracked with a coughing fit. Harvey slammed the gun butt into Cyrus’ face, knocking him on his back.

Swinging the shotgun back around to the fleeing Maria, Harvey hollered, “Look at her run! The Woman in White!”

BLAM!

“Now lying dead, in the cold, dark night,” finished Two-Face. “Ah,” sighed Harvey, “I love a good couplet. Or even a bad one, really.” Harvey smirked, but nodded in agreement with himself. Pumping the shotgun again, he turned it on Cyrus, before he could attempt to get up, and said, “Whattaya say, big man? Giving me the old one-two there? Want to go a second round? See if I can go two-for-two?” Bending over the man, he added, “Or maybe a split decision?” Producing the coin from his pocket, he flipped it again, caught it in his fist, paused, and opened his hand to look. Looking down on Cyrus Gold, he said, “Looks like you get a second chance.” He then delivered a kick to the man’s face, knocking him unconscious.

Turning away and looking into the swamp, he said to himself, “I think we should kill him anyway. No, no, we always abide by the coin. Besides, we have to decide what to do with her- do we let her lay in the yard, or drag her dead weight to the swamp?” Flipping the coin again, he caught it excitedly and looked immediately. Shoulders slumping a little, he said, “Damn.” Grabbing her by the ankle, he started the slow drag to the swamp.

Today: a warehouse owned by Two-Face, two blocks west of Crime Alley:

“Where is she? WHERE IS THE WOMAN IN WHITE?!” shouted Solomon Grundy, as he tore through a group of small time thugs. “Tell Grundy where she is!” The screams of the gang echoed through the quiet streets.

A warehouse owned by Two-Face, two blocks east of Crime Alley:

“Where is he? Where is the boy!” a woman screamed vengefully, her voice seeming to be everywhere at once. Men with guns drawn scanned all around them, trying to pinpoint the source of the voice.

“What’s going on here?” grunted one of the gunmen.

“What boy?” said another.

“Who the hell--”

BANG!

The third man was cut short by the gunblast, and went down. This sent the rest of the men scrambling for cover, and they spread out through the high rows of crates. A slow dance began to move throughout the warehouse- a shadow moves here, a gunburst there. Return fire. A scream, then quiet. Repeat. This had been going on for a few minutes when a menancing figure came crashing through the skylight.

“It’s the Bat!” screamed a thug, and gunfire came from all sides. Batman moved quickly, a series of batarangs disarming gunmen or rendering them unconscious. The few who didn’t get hit bolted for the exits, and Batman moved to give chase.

“No!” screamed a woman in white, jumping off a stack of crates and landing before him. “I need information from them!”

Batman unleashed a batarang at her gun, knocking the forty-five from her hand. “That’s not the way to get it!” he growled.

The gun stopped before it hit the floor, and came back to her hand. Batman’s eyes went wide behind his mask, but he wasted no time. He threw a punch, determined to take her down quickly, so she couldn’t interfere. His fist went through her rather than connecting, causing him to stumble through her as well, her form dissipating slightly, like a cloud, before reforming.

She threw punches in return, and Batman blocked them, now finding her solid, until he tried to punch or kick back. Then his attacks would pass through her again. “I don’t have time for this,” he growled.

“Neither do I!” she shouted. “They’ve got my boy!”

Batman stopped and looked at her, glowering. Turning to one of the downed thugs who was now stirring, he grabbed him up off the floor, leaned in his face, and shouted, “Where’s the boy?!”

Warehouse owned by Two-Face, two blocks west of Crime Alley:

Batman burst into the warehouse, closely followed by The Woman in White. Thugs lay everywhere, and sitting in the middle of the floor, cradling the boy in his arms, was Solomon Grundy. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Grundy couldn’t save you,” he said to the woman.

“It’s okay, Cyrus. You saved my boy. It’s okay. Merry Christmas.” Looking to Batman, she said, “Thank you,” and her form dissipated into nothingness.

Grundy gave the boy to Batman and wandered away. Batman chose to call that a problem for later, tending to the boy instead.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and all that! Enjoy reading, voting, and I'll see you after the New Year. Deadline is January 2nd, 11:59pm GMT! -cb
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Character Creation Contest #33

"We need his help now, more than ever."

Welcome to CCC #33!

Why has Commissioner Gordon lit the Bat-Signal? Because there's a new Bat-villain in town, that's why. That's right, the contest this time is to create an original villain for BATMAN!

The more the merrier, so join in, and here's the rules:

  • Give your villain a cool name.
  • Have your villain fight Batman.
  • No retconning your villain into continuity. Your villain is new. No history with Batman, the Bat-Family, or any established villains. However, this does NOT mean that your character can't meet established villains or Bat-Fam.
  • No word limit.

I figure everyone has their Bat-psycho filed away somewhere, because we see a Joker-level maniac every villain contest we do. Now we're in Gotham. Your villain doesn't have to copy the Joker, but let's see what you've got.

Deadline is December 18th, 11:59pm GMT (Google "what is gmt time now" if you need to). See you then- same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. :) -cb
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Marvel Mayhem: Operation: Nightstrike

RANKED 2nd BY VOTERS IN CHARACTER CREATION CONTEST #30

DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
11/29/14CB 1-Shots #5Marvel Mayhem: Operation: Nightstrike(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating ExplanationLast Issue:
TMild amounts of murderous violence.The Day the Vikings Landed
Note: This is a non-canon Marvel Mayhem story, unless the MM writers decide to run with it. -cb
Be sure to check out the Marvel Mayhem Library, and the Marvel Mayhem: Season 2 Library.

Undisclosed Location

“I’m telling you it won’t work!” he shouts.

“I’m telling you that it will,” she answers. “At any rate, all of the forces are in play.”

“But this is a game changer! You can’t trust them,” he insists with a sweep of his hand. “It will destroy everything we have built here!”

“You worry too much, father.”

"Darlin', never bet against the house."

“And you don’t worry at all! Know this,” he warns, “if this goes sideways, it’s you who will pay the price!”

“You wouldn’t dare,” she says.

He narrows his eyes and answers, “Darlin’, never bet against the house.”

Vieux Carré, New Orleans

Bar With No Name

The sun has nearly disappeared over the horizon, leaving the French Quarter to the mercies of evening. Its alleyways darken first, as buildings cast their last shadows before darkness falls completely. In one such alley, between a Chinese market and a Bar With No Name, and closed on one end by a brick wall lined with dumpsters, there's a jet black motorcycle. From out of the shadows strides its rider, clad head-to-toe in black leather and a shiny, jet black helmet that hides his face. He swings a leg over the seat, mounting the bike, flips the kickstand up with his foot, and puts the key in the ignition.

As he does so, a radio squelches to life in his helmet. “Operation: Nightstrike is a go.”

The rider says nothing. He turns the key, and jumps on the kickstarter. Revving the engine, he waves to the darkness behind him, as if motioning it forward, and starts toward the street. A roar is heard from the shadows, and as he reaches the mouth of the alley, a half dozen motorcycles pour out behind him, all jet black like the first, and with identically dressed riders. They pull out in both directions and roar off into the night.

As they depart, a man steps out of the bar, his gaze following the riders. Looking down the short alleyway, only just long enough for a trash truck to fit into, he sneers slightly. He then hefts a heavy-canvas bag from one hand to the other, and starts down the sidewalk.

"Thanks for the cards, Arcade."

Murderworld Hotel & Casino

Remy LeBeau zips a duffel bag shut and swings it over his shoulder. “Thanks for the cards, Arcade.”

The long-haired redhead smiles, and pats Remy’s back as they walk out of his office into the main casino. “It’s a pleasure doing business, Gambit. We have to change those cards out after so many games anyway. If you didn’t take them, we’d just have to throw them out. It’s a small price to pay to keep on the good side of the United Guild.”

“That and testing our assassins,” answers Gambit. “How are the newest initiates doing?” he asks.

Arcade purses his lips, “I’m afraid you’ve lost three so far.” He shrugs, and adds, “The other ten are still doing quite well.”

Gambit nods. “And how’s the rest of the business?”

Arcade gives a disgusted wave at the rows of slot machines and blackjack tables, and says, “These mouth breathers annoy me, but the gambling funds my other activities. Going straight is almost boring, but it’s endlessly amusing to know that the very thing that made me a wanted criminal before now makes me legitimately wealthy. Rather than paying me to kill others, people now pay me to ‘try’ to kill them. A ‘survival course’ for whales. Where the other hotels hunt them with comps, I hunt them with harpoons… among other things.” Arcade smiles maliciously. “Lawyers and legal waivers are magnificent things.”

"Pity you won't challenge my Murderworld."

Remy smiles briefly, his red eyes flashing slightly. As he walks away, he calls out, “You’re a cutthroat pig, Arcade!”

Arcade holds up a finger and calls back, “Businessman! I’m a ‘cutthroat businessman,’ thank you very much.” He smiles to himself and adds quietly, “Pity you won’t challenge my Murderworld.” He then turns and strolls back to his office, savoring the thought.

***

Gambit is stuffing a few packs of cards into his jacket pockets, when a black portal opens up halfway between him and the casino doors. He hears the scream, “Gambit!” before he sees the woman step out of the portal. She's barely covered in thin black stripes of what it would be charitable to call “clothing,” including a thin black mask over her eyes.

He looks a little confused as he says, “Ecstasy?”

"Remy! Help meeee!"

Then a figure in black leather and a shiny black motorcycle helmet exits the portal behind her, quickly catching up to her and forcing her back into the portal. “Remy!” she screams, “Help meeee!”

“Renee!” screams LeBeau. “Hang on, cher!” He drops the bag and runs for the portal, diving in before it can close. He is surprised to land in the street, just outside the casino. He is equally surprised to see six more portals open up, all with black clad bikers stepping out of them.

The one with Renee now over his shoulder speaks to the others, his voice filtering through a speaker in the helmet, “Ecstasy neutralized,” he says, as he drops her to the pavement. “Mister Negative recruited. Marauders report.”

The first of the newly arrived riders says, “Blackheart eliminated. Black Mamba recruited. Doorman neutralized.”

The second says, “Night, Nightside, and Nightwind recruited.”

The third adds, “Spot neutralized. Vanisher and Smuggler recruited.”

The fourth reports, “Blackout eliminated. Quagmire recruited.”

The fifth says, “Darkstar eliminated. Silhouette neutralized. Cloak escaped.”

"The Darkforce is ours."

The sixth finishes with, “Shroud escaped. Asylum eliminated. Sepulchre eliminated.”

The one from the casino waves a hand over Ecstasy. The thin strands of ebon energy that make up her costume lift away, absorbed into his black leather, leaving her naked and unconscious on the pavement. “The Darkforce is ours,” he concludes.

Gambit picks that moment to throw some charged playing cards at the rider standing over Renee Deladier. The rider simply gestures, and a black portal swallows the cards. A moment later, another portal disgorges them towards the casino’s doors, and the explosion sends glass everywhere. Remy rolls to shield Renee, and the riders disappear through their portals.

From the shadows of another alley, across the street, the man from the bar watches Gambit through the scope of his rifle. As the mutant lays his trenchcoat over the body of the naked woman in the street, the gunman muses to himself, “Two for one. Good.” He lines up his shot on Gambit, and just before he is about to pull the trigger, he starts to whisper, “Justice is…” His mantra is cut off as a knife is pressed to his throat, a black clad attacker having appeared out of the shadows behind him.

The Marauder leans in close, and with a light squelch from his helmet’s speaker, he utters his own mantra into the man’s ear, "Hail Hydra," before ending the would-be-assassin’s life. He then melts back into the shadows of the alley, before passing headlights reveal that nothing is there but a brick wall.

"...Well played."

Murderworld Hotel & Casino, Operations Center

Watching the events outside unfold on the monitors, Arcade offers, “Arcadia, my dear, it seems I owe you an apology. Well played,” he says, raising his glass.

A beautiful young woman, hair dyed green, clinks her glass against his. “See? I told you, daddy- it can all be Murderworld, if we just try.”

Embracing her, Arcade says, “Yes, you did, darlin’. You told me.”

Her head leaned against his shoulder, she says, “Daddy?”

“Yes, dear?” he answers.

“I worked really hard on this, didn’t I?”

Stroking her hair softly, he kisses the top of her head and says, “Yes, Arcadia, you sure did.”

"You're paying to fix my hotel."

Head still resting on his shoulder, she says softly, “Then I think you should call me Madame Hydra.”

Scowling, Arcade thinks, Game changer, indeed. Aloud, he answers, “Yes, Madame Hydra,” and strokes her hair again. Draining his glass, he asks, "And Madame Hydra?"

"Yes, daddy?"

"You're paying to fix my hotel."

Next Issue: Eblogated Man
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cb
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