Today, I write for Charlie Hebdo

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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

22 Comments

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
7 Comments

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

28 Comments

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
49 Comments

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
68 Comments

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
2 Comments

The Writers Guild Presents #45 - November, 2014

Writers Guild LibraryGuild GuidelinesDisclaimers (to be added)

Welcome to The Writers Guild Presents for November, 2014! This time around, I'm happy to say that we've got a story from someone fairly new to the Fan-Fic forum- Johnjo719. Johnjo' jumped in feet first as soon as he hit the forum. He's competed in the Character Creation Contest, has been writing Lex Hard for the 5th Column Comics group, and is currently on issue 5 of that story. You may have seen the following story in the forum already- it's on part 2- but I'm happy to be re-presenting the first chapter again. Enjoy:

Deep into the Fire Nation countryside, an old man sat in his courtyard on his cushioned mat, legs crossed. He had a cup of tea in his hand and his eyes were closed. His long, white beard hung all the way down to his belly button. For a man of his age, he was in good shape. As a matter of fact, he was in good shape for a man 20 years his junior. As he sat and meditated, steam rose from his cup of tea. Soon, the scent of tea filled the entire courtyard. The man was the very picture of a peaceful old man. Many of the local townspeople thought he was some retired businessman from Republic City, or some well off noble related to the Fire Lord. No one guessed at what he really was.

As he sat there, a streak of fire blazed across the courtyard heading towards him. Without even bothering to move from his seated position, he sipped from his tea, and he exhaled. As soon as he did, fire hot enough to melt the stones in his courtyard spilled out from his mouth and met with the flames that threatened him.

His assailant however, had anticipated the failure of his first attack. So he had dashed forward, hurled himself into the air, and brought his feet down in a sweeping arc. A bright flame manifested at his heel and jetted out towards the old man.

The old man threw his cup into the air with his left hand and used the same hand to bat the stream of flames away. With his right, two fingers extended, he manifested flames in front of him.

His opponent hurriedly adjusted his plan of attack and swung his leg around so that he landed in front of his target, one foot extended, one bent. With barely a second's pause, he sprinted the last few feet towards the old man and threw a punch with devastating force behind it.

The old man chuckled as his assailant's fist stopped just short of his face. His two fingers had found their way to his throat, and were only awaiting his command to release the flames they manifested so easily.

"You are still too loud, Jinn," the old man said amicably. "As long as I can hear your attack coming, I will always defeat you."

"True, but how quiet would one have to be to sneak up on the Young Dragon?" Jinn replied, lowering his fist and sitting in the same position as his former teacher and master. "Although, I'm not sure how well the 'young' part of your moniker fits anymore."

The old man chuckles at his former apprentice's joke at his expense. "I may be getting on in years boy, but remember the most dangerous type of assassin is one that is still alive."

Jinn bows his head in acknowledgment. He remembers well the lessons he was taught, and how painful they could be. He had many years yet before he could pose a threat to his master.

"Not that I don't enjoy reminding former pupils of mine of their place in this world, but why have you come to see me, all the way out here?" the old man asked.

"I've been sent to kill you," Jinn replies simply.

After he delivers that short and simple statement, the old man doesn't speak for several long moments. He sips his tea and closes his eyes, as he let's the passing breeze brush against his face. A nearby bird chirps and the sound of leaves rustling is heard. "I see. So that time has finally come," the old man said just as simply as his pupil had stated his purpose.

"Yes. My father has decided to move against you."

Meanwhile, in Capital City:

The room was dark with only a few candles to light the large space. Ridiculous really, when you considered the remarkable availability of electricity and the lanterns it powered these days. But the dimness provided a grim atmosphere, which suited the nature of the meeting that would be taking place in just a few minutes.

Rei looked around the room at his fellow conspirators, and he was pleased to count his wife, his daughter, and his brother among them. It was yet to be seen if his own son could be trusted.

Other than his family members, there were a few lieutenants from the nation's military, and only one general. However, they were all dedicated to the cause.

A certain amount of time passed and everyone in the room began to look toward Rei, their fearless leader, to start the meeting.

"Friends, citizens of our great Fire Nation, the time is nigh for the culmination of all our goals and plans. If everything goes according to plan, we should have a new Fire Lord very soon." Rei began.

He paused to look around the room. Some of his people looked...joyful. But most- the smart ones- looked somber. The road ahead was a tough one, and they knew most of their compatriots would die in the upcoming struggles.

"General Rufus Li, how goes the campaign?" Rei asked.

"Wonderfully. Many of the people are talking about how different criminal organizations are running loose throughout the country. Perhaps more important are the nobles, and they are highly upset with the new Fire Lord. They think he's weak and has no edge or control over his citizens. 'Something must be done' they say," the general reported.

"Excellent. Keep fanning the flames of dissent. Our new Fire Lord is weak," Rei began in disgust. "He must be removed and replaced."

"The Fire Lord still has his Wrath," a voice spoke out. The voice belonged to another of his key allies, so he let the interruption slide...this time. "He may be getting old, but the Young Dragon is still very much a threat."

"Are you still going on about that old fool, Jet?" Rei snarled. "Ryuu has been a thorn in our side, yes, but it's time the Young Dragon was slain. We have someone working on this as we speak."

Meanwhile, in the countryside, a few miles from Ryuu's home:

Fire Lord Roku was not pleased. He listened intently as one of his lieutenants reported to him. He had hoped he could spend his vacation time uninterrupted by talk of rebellion, but it turned out that hope was unfounded. As he knew it would be.

"A few of the nobility have been grumbling, but none have joined up yet. Only one general has betrayed us."

Roku nodded his head and stayed silent behind his wall of flames. The heat helped him to concentrate. The growing criminal element was becoming an increasing problem, one he had to solve soon. Something he had to fix before he finished off the rebels.

"The Brotherhood has served me well on this day," Roku praised. "Continue your good service and bring me the head of the Fire Nation's cabal," he ordered. He knew it would be a difficult task, but he was sure his men could handle it. It was what they were trained for, after all.

"Yes, my Lord," his lieutenant said. He rose and quickly exited the Fire Lord's chambers.

The next year was going to be an interesting one in the Fire Nation, Roku sensed. The heat of the flames seemed to double, then triple. From the flames, he thought he saw something...a vision. An aging dragon burned alive, and from its flaming corpse, a new, more powerful dragon emerged.

***

(Side note: this story is set many years after Korra, let's say 50 years. So they have more tech like telephones and commercial and passenger flights, but no cellphones and computers yet. That's the era we're in right now. -johnjo719)

Next for this month is something from yours truly. Character Creation Contest #31 was a challenge from ImpurestCheese: "Mariner vs. Ocean Terror." I'm afraid I only got half of my story in before the deadline, so I thought I'd present the whole story here. Hope you have your sea legs ready:

Manjaro the Manslayer stood a head-and-a-half higher than most men- even Finnrick the Fine. So with his broad shoulders, strong voice, and the studded mace he carried as his weapon, what he said carried weight with those around him. Especially when he was angry. His temper, backed by his mace, is what gained him the name Manslayer. So when Manjaro was angry, men were wary. When the person he was angry with stood their ground, they said a prayer to the gods for the fool’s soul. When the fool seemed unconcerned, those watching trembled with adrenaline, knowing they were about to witness a brutal death.

Such was the case aboard the karve, currently making its way across rough seas to a patch of swirling water. All men held tightly to their oars as they watched Manjaro yell into the face of their passenger- a man they called Draco. They called him this because of a necklace of teeth hanging across his bare chest, which he claimed came from a dragon. He had no hair on his head, a long, thick mustache that curved around his mouth and drooped down past his chin, was only a head shorter than Manjaro, and he was seemingly as unaffected by the cold as he was by Manjaro’s anger. He was the lone escort of a queen who had commissioned them for the trip, who currently rode in the hold with the livestock. An arrangement which was not to the men’s liking, and which Manjaro finally decided to speak up about.

“It’s bad luck for a woman to be aboard! We’ve lost five men to the raiding party, just out of port! Two to the waves! Three to the cold!” The men grunted their support with each count, and continued to do so as he listed the casualties so far. “Two disappeared in that damned thick fog we had a couple of nights ago! We lost one in the attack of the giant devilfish! And one went into the hold for supplies and never came back out again!”

Draco stood casually, with his fists on his hips, waiting for Manjaro to finish. Then he said, “I killed the man who entered the hold.” Everyone went silent at that, including Manjaro.

From his position overlooking the men at their oars, Finnrick spoke up. Not bothering to hide the anger in his voice, he challenged, “What did you just say?”

Draco looked at him with no more concern than he had for Manjaro. “I told you I would bring out whatever supplies were required by the crew. The terms of your commission included that no one may enter the hold. None may lay eyes upon the queen. He did both. So I killed him.”

The crew remained silent. Manjaro still stood, seething, chest heaving with his anger. So he smiled when Finnrick said, “Manjaro, kill him and throw him overboard. Then guard the hold for the remainder of the voyage.”

The massive Viking closed what little space there was between himself and Draco, and through gritted teeth, he said, “Now, Draco, you find out why they call me Manjaro the Manslayer.” Then he heaved the mace into the air, and brought it down with an angry roar.

Draco caught the head of the mace in his hand, stopping it’s swing. Manjaro gaped. The escort, still unconcerned, said, “That would be impressive, boy, if I were a man.” He then hit Manjaro in the chest with the flat of his palm, shoving him several paces backwards, where he fell over the first row of oar benches. “And I’m tired of telling you: my name…is Heironymous.”

Manjaro started to get up when Finnrick called out, “We’re here!”

The men looked out at the swirling water. “What do you expect to find here?” asked Finnrick.

As if in answer, a giant beast rose out of the water, it’s long, gray neck towering over the ship. Heironymous answered, “That- Leviathan.” Looking to the mage, Ulrich the Unnatural, he asked, “Do you have the item I entrusted you with?”

Ulrich produced a small glowing spike and answered, “It is here.”

Heironymous took the spike, looked at Leviathan, and said, “Wait for me to return.” He then ran for the stern of the ship, jumped to the rail, and bounded off at the beast. Both roared hellishly, drowning out the sound of the wind and waves.

“What the hell is he?” Manjaro whispered, clearly in awe.

“He’s a dragon,” answered Ulrich. “Now watch.”

“Row, men!” commanded Finnrick. “Get back from this beast!” Manjaro and Ulrich took a place at the benches, and all leaned into their oars, happy to put distance between them and the battle.

Heironymous was clinging to the base of the beast’s long neck, and did not go unnoticed. Leviathan swung it’s massive head downwards, trying to catch Heironymous in his jaws. Undeterred, Heironymous swung his fist in a backhand, knocking the sea dragon backwards, if only slightly. Leviathan roared in anger, and Heironymous fell into the surf. Leviathan lost no time in diving after him.

The crew watched the water anxiously, the area still frothing and swirling, and now angrily bubbling with the activity underneath the surface. Then the water broke suddenly, and Leviathan came towering out of the water again, and now grappling with a second beast, this one a deep, dark purple. The men gasped, and then Manjaro shouted, “Look! The new one holds the glowing spike!”

Finnrick, his blond locks dancing in the high wind, looked wild eyed on Ulrich. “What in the name of the gods is happening here, mage?”

“That’s Heironymous!” declared Ulrich. “This is his true form, Finnrick!”

Finnrick didn’t speak for a second. He just looked out at the battle. Then he looked back again and said, “Then the queen…”

“…Is also a dragon,” concluded Manjaro. “That explains the livestock, and why their lowing grows less and less as the voyage goes on.”

They turned their attention back to the battle, the dragons still grappling with each other, long necks alternately intertwined in struggle and then swinging away at each other’s bodies. Powerful jaws clamped down again and again on their adversaries. Fearsome roars raged over the storm, and bursts of flame lit the sky. The crew of the karve looked on anxiously, hoping for Heironymous’ victory, but only because he was at least the beast that they knew.

Finally, Heironymous swung the talon gripping the spike backwards, and then plunged it into the heart of the beast. Leviathan roared in pain- its loudest yet- and bit down once more on Heironymous’ body, before finally succumbing. His coils slackened and he fell beneath the waves. The crew saw what appeared to be several glowing items falling into the water with him. Heironymous dove after him.

Long minutes passed, and the water continued to churn and swirl. Then it began to calm, and still, Heironymous did not reappear. They waited silently, peering out into the now dark night that hung over the sea.

Finnrick was about to order the men to turn back towards port, when they heard something bump the side of the ship. Then Leviathan’s head swung over the rail, and thudded onto the deck. His mouth fell open, and several glowing spikes tumbled out, of various colors. Heironymous, back in human form, pulled himself up over the rail, and found himself looking at the Manslayer. Manjaro gripped his hand firmly, and helped him onto the deck of the karve.

Looking at Finnrick, Heironymous said, “This is what we came for. Let’s head back.” With that, he gathered the spikes back into Leviathan’s mouth and dragged the head into the hold. Ulrich pulled the hold door shut behind him, careful not to look inside.

The crew was silent for a minute, and then Finnrick called out, “Heave to the oars, men! We’ll raise the sail when the storm dies down! Row!” The men pulled to the oars, and started the jouney home.

Writing Challenge!
Sea Monster Wallpaper from http://wallpapersinhq.com/49773-sea_monster/

Take on ImpurestCheese's "Mariner vs. Ocean Terror" challenge! Write your story of any kind of mariner fighting any kind of ocean terror, and I'll feature it in a future Writers Guild Presents!

That's it for this month, folks! If you want to submit something, new or old, just contact me in PM- it's really that simple. See you sometime in December for #46. Until then, check out the other stories in the Fan-Fic forum. Thanks for stopping in, and thanks for reading. -cb

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Simpson 451 (C-Rhymes #3)

DateIssueTitleViewRead the...
11/21/14C-Rhymes #3Simpson 451(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating Explanation
TJust because it deals with the O.J. Simpson car chase and arrest.

Afterword:

11/21/14 - The Slow Motion Chase of O.J. Simpson

I've talked about this before in Comic Ads #28, but I was in my early twenties when the O.J. "chase" happened. I put that word in quotes, because it really was more of a sixty mile police escort back to his home. I thought it was sick. People mobbing the highway and overpasses to cheer O.J. on. The police not ending the chase. I mean, they said it was to avoid a violent end to the matter, but come on- if he wasn't famous, they'd have cut that Bronco off and forced it to stop very early on. It was only going thirty-five miles an hour on the freeway for crying out loud!

And the media was there for the whole thing, making sure that we were too. That's why I called this "Simpson 451"- because it reminded me so much of the filmed-for-entertainment fugitive chases described in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury was still alive at the time- I figured it must have turned his stomach. What he actually had to say about it can be found in a 1996 Playboy interview:

When O.J. Simpson prowled the freeway pursued by cop cars and helicopters, Russell Baker wrote in his New York Times column words to the effect: This is the last act of Fahrenheit 451! I watched the reruns and thought, My God, he's right. In the final pages of my novel, Montag is running ahead of the book burners and sees himself on TV screens in every home, through each window, as he flees. When he eludes the Mechanical Hound, the society he left behind gets frustrated and kills a proxy Montag on television to satisfy the panicked need.

The OJ chase was a media circus. Don't believe me? Check out CNN's June 10, 2014 5 surprising facts about O.J. Simpson's slow-speed chase. The first three facts show just how far we (the viewers) and the media spiraled, over this case (edited for conciseness):

1. The Bronco chase and subsequent "not guilty" verdict are among the most memorable TV moments in the past 50 years.

The Simpson verdict was the third most "universally impactful" televised moment of the last 50 years behind the September 11, 2001, attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005...

Simpson's white Bronco chase came in sixth, behind the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the death of Osama bin Laden...

The verdict came down in 1995, and is third, behind two disasters that happened much more recently. The 1994 chase came in sixth behind the 1986 Challenger explosion and the 2011 death of Bin Laden. In the last fifty years of television, these two O.J. Simpson moments came in the top six.

So just to recap- the top six moments in television history go:

  1. Terrorist attack disaster
  2. Hurricane disaster
  3. Simpson verdict
  4. Challenger disaster
  5. Death of terrorist responsible for #1 on this list
  6. Simpson car chase

Does that seem a little f****d up to anyone else?

2. The Bronco chase dominated sports coverage on a day with major sports news.

On June 17, 1994, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer played his last round at the U.S. Open, the World Cup opened in Chicago, the Rangers celebrated winning the Stanley Cup, the Knicks played game five of the NBA finals against the Houston Rockets, and Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit before June 30.

So let's just get a handle on just two of the sports events the Simpson chase eclipsed that day:

  • Arnold "The King" Palmer played his last round in the U.S. Open. Palmer was arguably the first television sports superstar.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit before June 30. Babe Ruth played from 1914-1935. Griffey played from 1989-2010. So this tying of the record was kind of a big deal. Griffey's home run record still stands as the sixth highest in Major League Baseball history.

But so what? We were watching a white Ford Bronco cruise down the interstate, because "Oo, flashing lights!"

3. Domino's Pizza reported record sales of pizza delivery during the chase.

..."It was a record night at the time. It was dinner time on the West Coast and 9 p.m. on the East. People were fascinated and didn't want to miss it. It was as big as a Super Bowl Sunday up to that point," said Tim McIntyre, vice president of corporate communications for Domino's Pizza.

You read that right: "As big as a Super Bowl Sunday." That's...unbelievable.

I watched the news coverage of this chase, disgusted the entire time by the media circus of it all. Online sources say Simpson surrendered at 8:51pm, which was Pacific time. Being on the East Coast, I was seeing his surrender at 11:51pm. Of course, there was commentary after the arrest- the press milking it. What I remember distinctly was it wrapping up at midnight exactly by my clock, which is why I put the time on this one. I picked up my pen as soon as it was done, and finished this poem forty-five minutes later.

I read this today, and still recall my revulsion over the media hyping this non-event. I refused to watch the trial, but couldn't help getting some of the news highlights. I don't recall any other big media trials before the Simpson case. Other "media event" trials (and later, Court TV) came about after this case, and as a direct result of the ratings for the Simpson case coverage. I think reality TV probably owes a lot to this case too, and frankly, I think that's a travesty.

I hope this cycle of media obsessiveness is something we manage to break, but we aren't really a society that's geared towards taking control of our own lives. Being "free," sure, but that really just means being free to pursue our own entertainment. If we were pursuing goals of any worth, we'd have more writers, artists and musicians; a better education system; and we'd have cured a couple of things like cancer and diabetes, rather than turning the cures away because they're not profitable. We don't care about those things though, because we're busy worrying about the self destruction of a retired football player, the sex life of the President, or the plastic surgery mishaps of pop stars and actors.

All that we're missing is a mechanical hound.

.

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CCC #32 - Voting Thread

Character by Payno

Hey, peeps! @batkevin74 picked a great contest this time around- hearkening back to CCC #3, he picked a random character design from @payno, and told us to write the character, good or bad.

We had a nice turnout this time, with a whopping TEN entries! Frankly, you folks pulled out some good ones this time. It's a lot of reading this time around, so let's get to it.

The contest rules were:

  • Write a fight between the person pictured and another OC.
  • The person pictured can be hero or villiain.
  • Name them, give them powers, and whatever other details.
  • Set it in an original location (no published universes- DC, Marvel, etc.)
The voting rules are:And for the writers in this contest:
  • Read the entries
  • Vote for your favorite
  • Deadline is December 4th, 11:58pm 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!

Mikesterman: Kaito Kimotsuki vs. The Royal Dragon

It was a cold, snowy night in Kyoto, Japan. It has been about nine years since Japan surrendered to the US during WWII. Kaito Kimotsuki, has been wandering around Japan, since he found an ancient scroll in the hands of his fallen comrade, during the battle of Manila bay. This scroll was one of the Seven Scrolls of Bushido. This scroll granted Kaito immortality from natural causes. So now he has been wandering to find the other seven. Finally he reached his destination: an old penthouse, on the peak of a snowy mountain. It has been rumored that a man with super human strength lives there. Kaito believes this man has the fifth scroll.

Kaito walked up to the penthouse, and saw the sign.

“ロイヤルドラゴンのホーム” or “The home of the Royal Dragon.”

Kaito entered without knocking, and there was a man dressed in blue robes with white dragon designs and a dragon mask was sitting reverently.

“Who dares to enter the Royal Dragon’s Home?” The man asked with a sharp voice.

Kaito presented himself and bowed.

“I am Kaito Kimotsuki.”

The Royal Dragon bowed without getting up from his criss-crossed position.

“I am Roiyaru Doragon.” He said, “What brings you here to my chambers?”

“I have searched far and wide for the Seven Scrolls of Bushido.” Kaito said. “I hear you have gotten your strength from one.”

“Hmm, have you found any other yet?” Roiyaru asked. Thinking that he could take the one Kaito already has.

“The first one.” Kaito answered. “It grants me immortality from natural causes.”

Roiyaru tried to hide his deception. He knew if he could kill Kaito, then he could obtain his power.

“I’ll tell you what.” Roiyaru started. “I have something you want, and you have something I want. The only way to settle it is for one of us to give the other an honorable death.”

Kaito was skeptical at first. This man is definitely stronger than a regular person, how is Kaito to defeat him? Then Kaito thought about how these scrolls bought purpose to his life. He would rather die fighting for his purpose, than leave a failure.

“I’ll do it.” Kaito said.

“Very well.” Roiyaru said

In a split second, Roiyaru unsheathed his blade, and was slicing at Kaito’s throat. Kaito swiftly grabbed his own blade, and blocked Roiyaru’s attack. There blades buckled and they were staring each other in the eye.

“The scroll will be mine!” Roiyaru declared.

“I don’t think so!” Kaito remarked, and he slipped his sword out of the clash and took a stab at Roiyaru, who blocked it with his sword. Due to Roiyaru’s enhanced strength, the block threw Kaito off balance, giving Roiyaru an opening. Roiyaru took advantage of the opening and kicked Kaito in the chest. The strength of the kick was so great, it sent Kaito flying across the room. Kaito hit a wall, leaving a huge crack, then fell on his hands and knees. Roiyaru then jumped from his spot and tried to slice down on Kaito. Kaito avoided the strike as quick as he can.

“Ha, first blood.” Roiyaru snickered. Kaito saw blood on Roiyaru’s blade, and looked at his left arm. It had received a light slice.

“What matters, is who gets last blood.” Kaito remarked, and then slashed at The Royal Dragon.

Clang, cling , clunk, their swords clashed attack after attack. Sparks were flying off the swords. Neither sword was hitting flesh. Kaito new that he wasn’t going to last long if the fight kept up like this. He decided to use Roiyaru’s strength against him.

Kaito clashed his blade against the Royal Dragon’s, and started backing up (as if he was being over powered). Kaito kept this up until he had his back against a wall. Roiyaru smiled.

“It is over!” Roiyaru said in a victorious tone.

“It is about to be.” Kaito replied. Then he forced Roiyaru’s blade into the wall. Kaito slipped out and sliced down with his blade. Roiyaru was able to escape the attack unscathed, but his blade was cut in half.

“It looks like your blade doesn’t share your strength.” Kaito taunted, than attacked the unarmed warrior. Roiyaru ducked slepped away from every slice. He juked Kaito, then grabbed both halves of his sword.

Kaito kept attacking with skillful slashes, but they were no match for the experienced Royal Dragon. Roiyaru evaded Kaito’s attacks and finally delivered a slash to Kaito’s left leg with the top half of his broken sword, and slashed his right shoulder, simultaneously. This attack made Kaito drop his weapon and spin to the floor, in pain.

“You were a worthy opponent.” Roiyaru praised, and then held the bottom half of his sword to Kaito’s neck. “But it wasn’t enough. Now, immortality is mine!”

Kaito didn’t want to die a loser. He knew he had only one chance to live, but it wasn’t honorable. It was either dishonor or death. Kaito decided to choose dishonor. He quickly reversed Roiyaru’s sword into his shoulder. Roiyaru screamed in pain, and Kaito kicked him as hard as he can in the face.

Kaito scrambled up and grabbed his own sword. He pointed it in front of Roiyaru’s face before he could recover.

Once Roiyaru saw the blade in his face, he realized he had been defeated.

“I see.” The Royal Dragon said. “Hesitating to kill you was my own undoing.”

“Before I kill you.” Kaito started. “You were a great warrior, I want your blessing.”

“You will not only get a blessing, but a curse as well.” Roiyaru took his mask off. “May you find the rest of The Scrolls of Bushido, may your power be great. But, for the dishonorable win you have earned today; whenever you see my mask, your power will become moot.”

Kaito saw as a green smoke ascended from the Royal Dragon, and covered the blue and white mask.

“May your soul find the afterlife.” Kaito said, and then he sliced his sword. After two seconds, Roiyaru’s head fell off his body. Blood gushed from the top of his severed neck, and the body fell backwards. The Royal Dragon has fallen.

Again a green smoke ascended from Roiyaru’s body, but it went to a room. Kaito followed the smoke into the room and saw it descend into a scroll. Kaito picked up the scroll and read the Haiku out loud.

“The fifth scroll of Bushido:

The great strength is yours.

Unmatched, it is in battle.

Use the strength wisely.”

Then a green fire consumed Kaito, and he felt his whole body numb. After the fire has ceased, Kaito went up to the nearest tree, and punched it down. But when he looked at the Royal Dragon’s mask, he would lose it.

Kaito tried to destroy it, but it couldn’t be. It was cursed. Kaito buried it along with it’s owner.

Now he still wanders, looking for the other five, dreading the day someone finds it.

Jkutz: The Azure Assassin vs Entropy

The Azure Assassin vs Entropy

I found it hard to push myself back into the line of detective work, but the decimation of my home town forced me back into the game, that and I needed to keep up on rent. Hours upon hours of searching and collecting clues in order to locate the perpetrator, all that didn’t matter in the long run. The culprit had found out that I was on to him and sent me a letter of challenge, it read

“I know who you are, Azure Assassin, come to the old Alabaster warehouse on Baker Street and we’ll settle it there, don’t expect it to last, this is a one way ticket.

-Entropy”.

Donning the mask and blue gi, I grabbed my saber and headed to the warehouse, ready to accept my fate. What met me there was one of the most unsettling sights I have seen in all my days of work. What resembled a man stood in front of my, his back was arched forward in a most unnatural way. His arms had grey, oozing, external veins that pulsated as if what was flowing through them intended to leave his body rather quickly. He lumbered toward me in a mechanical fashion and beckoned for me to attack him. I moved to strike him down, remembering my training from the Academy and went for his midsection. He caught me off guard with a teleportation technique that I could not have seen coming.

My attack completely missed and he was all of a sudden behind me, I could hear the squishing and sloshing of material being made, what I assumed was coming out of his arms. I turned to be greeted with a ball of grey matter racing toward my face at an unnatural speed. It contained a flashing red light, which I only assumed to be a timer of some sort, and it rang with a beeping noise that anyone would find annoying. I instinctively raised my left hand with a performing shield on my left hand to block the incoming assault. The paste-like material became stuck to my shield and after a one-second delay, hit me with enough force to knock me back, but didn’t do any real damage.

“Shall we begin Azure Assassin?” He said, taunting me, trying to get me rattled, but even after his display I wouldn’t be rattled, he needed to be stopped.

“Ready when you are” I replied. This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, teleportation wasn’t exactly a new concept, fighting exactly three people that possessed the skill before. I was able to track his movements through the grey mist he left behind, it moved in the direction he was teleporting, a natural flaw.

His next assault came from above, he shot more of that grey matter out of a hole in his wrist after he teleported above me. I narrowly dodged and swung my sabre into the direction of his head. This is when I determined he couldn’t spam-teleport, but he was able to block. He put up some sort of wall made out of a sand-like material, made from the same material that the explosives were since the sand was grey and absorbent in nature.

Proceeding to swipe at his legs with my own, I was able to make solid contact, dealing a small amount of damage to him. He jumped back, proceeding to pump grey ooze out of his wrists. A tsunami of ooze approached my position and managed to crash down on top of me. It held me down from the waist and locked me into a position favorable to him.

“Like I said this was going to be quick Azure Assassin, my explosive ocean technique has sealed your fate. Be sure to give my regards to those from your home town.” He taunted, getting the idea into his head that he had already won.

The layered sound of the beeping from early started to resonate within the warehouse and the sea of grey started to flash red. The explosion proceeded to put a hole the size of a meteorite in the ground. He moved over to marvel at what he thought would be my ashes. I was able to call upon my substitution technique and replace myself with one of the barrels in the corner of the warehouse. His expression changed from giddy to extremely agitated.

“Where are you coward?!?” he shouted. I had been able to secure a spot on the beam just below the roof, the perfect vantage point. I fell from the beam, silently, aiming right for his body. I managed to plunge my sabre directly into his back and proceeded to pin him to the ground.

“Your time is up Entropy, surrender now and I won’t let you bleed to death.” I threatened.

“Fool, you can’t kill me, I’m am a universal necessity, Entropy must exist for there to be order!” He shouted, then his entire body melted into a pool of the goo. I was too stunned to react and his torso emerged from the grey slime, plunging a knife that seemed to be made from his hand directly into my heart. His smile was that of a psychopath, getting into my face and smiling, laughing.

“Goodbye” He said, the pointed end of his limb proceeded to grow red and explode while it was still in my chest. This was the last fight I had ever fought, I was unable to stop this madman from hurting other people, and I died from the explosion that vaporized my internal organs. As I saw my body from above, I could only see failure and destruction, and as I recollect from the afterlife, I can observe that there is not natural law that dictates good shall defeat evil. I now spend the rest of my days in purgatory, looking upon the consequences of my failed actions when it came to defeating this man, and I think to myself,

“What if…..”

ImpurestCheese: Southern Cross #0 - The Words of the WIshing Demon

Southern Cross #0 - The Words of the WIshing Demon

The Hanged Man Inn, Darling Harbour, Sydney

“I almost had her this time I did mates.” The living humanoid lump of crude oil hissed as it squirmed into an empty chair, the rest of the figures all looking down at their hands, empty faced.

“We know City Slicker.” The man dressed in a costume that was part criminal jumpsuit and part regal robe. “We all have had her on the ropes once and for all yet somehow Southern Cross always survives. Now who will match my bet?”

“I’m out, we all know you cheat at cards Robber Baron.” A tanned man dressed in hunting leathers, his arms and back covered with various sized boomerangs. “As surely that we, the toughest men in town keep getting thwarted by that star spangled dynamo of action out of the streets.”

“Toughest Men on the Streets. Ha, you don’t even touch the streets.” A man clad in grey plate armour and dressed in blue and slumped at the far end of the table hissed. “I’ll meet your bet Baron, and raise you the opportunity of a life time.”

“Who is this guy?!” The last man sitting at the table, if a humanoid rat like figure with amber fur decorated with white dashes could be called a man grunted as he slammed a fist containing four cards onto the table.

“Who I am Tiger Quoll, is the only real person at this table.” The man in blue stated in a cold, almost wind like voice. “Have you ever wondered why you loose against the hero every time you face her?”

“I beat her once.” The man with the boomerangs replied. “Almost killed her too.”

“Because you were written too.” The man in blue hissed. “Everything you’ve done, everything you’ve achieved Mc Kragen. All of it is a story, you are parts written to appose a fictional hero.”

“Seriously who is this bloody galah!?” Tiger Quoll spat as he threw his cards away and got to his feet. “What’s your rep compared to ours?!”

“I have no ‘rep’ as you put it, not here at least, but I am the only one in this entire world who matters.” The man in blue told the others as they stood up and backed away from the table,.

“Alright blue boy let me show you my rep!” Tiger Quoll snapped as he flung a chair at the man in blue only for him to slash the adhoc projectile into pieces with his blade. Not waiting to see if his attack was a success Tiger Quoll closed the gap between him and his foe and aimed a punch at his face, only for his target to teleport away, the punch slamming into the wall so hard that the entire inn shook.

“If you think you can do better then Tiger Quoll,” The man in blue hissed as he reappeared over by the bar, “then step up and try your luck against the Wishing Demon.”

“Wishing Demon huh.” Mc Kragen grunted. “Nice to meet you bloke, know say G’day to the Seven Sisters!” He yelled as he released a set of seven boomerangs, all of them arching towards the man at the bar. Closing his eyes the Demon spun his blade, the sword slicing through the first five projectiles with the other two deflecting off it and returning to their thrower. With a smile the Demon opened his eyes and swung his sword into a defensive position as it met the cutlass of the Robber Baron.

“Your sword is impressive but it is no match to my training.” The Baron told him as he parried the blade and lunged in, the tip stabbing into the bar as the Demon vanished and reappeared behind him. Spinning round the Baron met the blow with his elbow, the hidden armour in his costume blocking the blow well enough to avoid loosing his arm. Backing up the Wishing Demon thudded into something hard and looked up to see Tiger Quoll looking down at him, his hand wrapped around a pipe with a lump of cement at the bottom.

“Alright you little p***k, let’s see you dodge this!!” Tiger Quoll roared as he swung the makeshift club, the tip shattering on contact with the Wishing Demon, cement dust flying everywhere.

”I can’t see a thing, someone open a window!” The Robber Baron ordered as Mc Kragen pulled down a pair of night vision goggles and scanned the area.

”Don’t bother I got him.” Mc Kragen answered as he slung a boomerang across the bar, its micro jet turbine sending it flying towards its target only for him to teleport away. As he did the boomerang pivoted around and locked on to the Wishing Demon again, its cameras correcting its course with every movement he made. With a thud the projectile hit its target just as the Robber Baron found the switch for the air-conditioning, the fans blowing the dust away to reveal the Tiger Quoll out cold on the floor, a co medically large bump on his forehead and a boomerang lying by his side.

“You idiot Mc Kragen, you hit Tiger Quoll instead!!” City Slicker spat as the Wishing Demon reappeared standing by the juke box.

“Do you gentlemen wish to continue?” The Demon asked, a wry smile spread across his face. In response Mc Kragen threw another boomerang as the Robber Baron removed a chain whip from his robe and charged in. With a mocking chuckle the Wishing Demon raised his hand and clicked his fingers, the villain’s weapons vanishing for a few seconds, their owners looking at each other in confusion. “As I mentioned before your careers, your lows and highs have all been scripted before now, this meeting is the first time you’ve been free to choose.”

“Free to choose what?” The Baron asked as he spied City Slicker oozing across the floor towards the Wishing Demon.

“Whether you will continue this written life of loosing night after night to a badly written construct or become kings in the real world!” The Whishing Demon stated, his voice oscillating from cool and calm up to a manic scream, the shockwave sending ripples across the City Slicker’s body until he retreated to where Tiger Quoll was stirring on the floor.

“And what do you get out of this deal?” The Robber Baron asked, his eyes narrowing as he retrieved his cutlass from the bar.

“Chaos, the more chaos I bring to my world the greater my chances at winning are.” The Wishing Demon hissed as blue fire flashed in his eyes. “Bring your friends; it’s time you took your destiny out of the notebook of an obese sixteen year old girl. It’s time to burn the world down, 300 years ahead of schedule.” He finished before vanishing in a puff of blue flame.

Dngn4774: Cyborai- Thunderbolts and Lightning

Background: This story takes place in the 23rd century. It has been 52 years since World War 3 and the new superpowers have all formed empires dividing all remaining territories. China, France, Japan, Iran, and Brasilia make up the Imperial Axis, currently dominating 90% of Earth's landmass.

As the empires' territories have expanded, so has poverty, xenophobia, violent crime, and government corruption. To combat these threats, Japan's top corporations have pioneered a new course for robotics, modifying the body to superhuman limits. Unfortunately, like all great innovations, the technology has been widely misused. The wealthiest members of society, known as daimyos, have replaced their old husks with newer, artificial bodies to prolong their mortality and increase their power. To secure their expanded assets a new class of warriors , known as the roburai, have established themselves as the newest standard in personal security.

Initially, the roburai were a success but over time their flaws became increasingly apparent. An inability to process empathy beyond cold rationality and a vulnerability to hacking from other droids gradually caused rifts between the warriors and their masters. Many roburai abandoned their daimyos to form the Maeda Shogunate, a dangerous criminal network that has rapidly expanded throughout the Axis. As a result, Dr. Chisoto, a robo-technician, capitalized on the daimyos' panic to fund his latest project. In an experiment to create the perfect guardian, Dr. Chisato reanimated the tissue of a corpse, infusing it with the latest in weapons technology. The subject would have the physical capabilities to fight evenly with roburai whilst maintaining enough humanity to comprehend virtue, making it the worlds first Cyborai. To test this new Cyborai, he unleashed it on the streets of Edo 4, targeting the daimyos' most infamous nemeses.

Cyborai- Thunderbolts and Lightning

Rising Sun Empire; Western American Territory; 2271 a.d.

Edo 4, formerly known as Los Angeles, was the largest city on the western front and therefore, the most ruthless. Each road brought in streams of revenue and industry, causing it to become aptly named Big Tokyo, or BT for short. Big Tokyo was more or less a ribcage for the Maeda Shogunate, guarding the heart that was the Geisha House nightclub. The club was run by a Shogunate underboss named Chikamori "Bad Wolf" Ookami.

The giant roburai was made of over 7' feet of heavy metals. He had wiry silver hair that he slicked back with fine oils and an oni mask welded into his face, leaving the perpetual scowl baked into his expression. He wore large hakama bottoms that left his sandals barely visible. A proportioned orange kimono covered his upper body. The kimono was adorned with gang symbols that complimented the platinum engraved tattoos etched into his chrome skin.

Ookami sat in the champagne room as two pleasure bots (cybernetically enhanced escorts) danced slowly before him; their warm flesh swaying in a tantalizing rhythm. Above him laid his prized killing weapon, Thunder, was propped up on nearly a dozen iron hooks to support its weight. Unlike a traditional roburai katana blade, Thunder was more of a club that answered the age old question: what kind of death instrument looks like the bastard offspring of a steel cricket bat, and a diamond chainsaw?

The women strutted over to each of his shins, kneeling before him and presenting compliments of the house. He claimed the glass of vaporized sake from the servant girl's hand, swirling it in his palm before taking a quick swig to down it in one shot. Bad Wolf then snatched a fat cigar from his other paramour's grip. His teeth glowed beneath his mask, conducting a spark of electricity to lite the cigar. Nicotine puffed through Ookami's nostrils, granting him the brief resemblance to an angry dragon.

"Rise." He ordered the escorts with a grunt. Both girls jolted up, bowing again before standing to attention. Chikamori grinned beneath his mask. "Well go on, earn your pay!"

As the escorts moved in closer to lock their lips together the lights in the room flickered, blacking out for a few seconds. Bad Wolf growled loudly before the darkness subsided. When the lights returned an eerie silence filled the room. The loud J-Rock music which defined the Geisha House was now replaced with muffled shouts and stomps.

"D*f*q is goin' on?" Ookami pondered aloud as curiosity was pestering him more with each fading moment. He slowly rose from the sofa, taking a few steps towards paper corridor before halting by his companions.

The underboss instantly heard the marching steps as two forces met towards the doorway. Ookami ducked beneath the four dancing shadows as a swordsman slashed through three of Chikamori's henchmen. Blood spatter painted the paper walls inside the hallway as the first two gangsters had already died before hitting the ground. The third man was quick enough to raise his weapon but misfired from the fatal injuries given out by the swordsman. Bullets from the submachinegun propelled through the walls, over Ookami's head, rippling through an escort's skull as the swordsman had already dashed around the corner of the floor.

AHHHH!!!-

The other escort screamed. Bad Wolf snapped her neck before she compromised his position.

"Dumb b*tch!" He hissed dumping his finished cigar on her blank face. He hoisted Thunder, over his shoulder and picked up a new cigar, proceeding downstairs.

***

Hundreds of guests were still running in herds through the exits as Ookami entered the main hall. He clung to the corner of a wall to view the menace that disrespected the Shogunate.

Ookami's intruder sat in the center of the karaoke stage, meditating with arms and legs crossed. He had pale skin, and a strong jawline, with a crop of long black hair tied into a ponytail. Each of his limbs were metal, but he wore unusually light armor to be a roburai. Apart from a thin gi and a padded hakama sorted in azure tones and white dragon patterns, there was no clear protective gear on his person. He was also noticeably shorter than most modern warriors, just shy of six feet with no added reach and carried a short blade in his main hand.

After the room had cleared Bad Wolf's eyes scoured the room, looking for a better explanation than the only one that sat before him. How could one pipsqueak take down thirty of his armed guards? Bah--I'm better off, he thought. If the useless fleshbags couldn't take down one shiny ninja then they were never fit to become roburai in the first place. They were a disgrace to Boss Maeda and his entire organization. It fell on Ookami to restore honor to the Shogunate, the old fashioned way, and the Bad Wolf was happy to oblige.

The swordsman rose and tapped into the microphone. "Reveal yourself Chikamori-san!" The monotoned voice ordered.

Bad Wolf stepped into the light. "What for? You wanna sing me a song?" The mobster teased.

"You have stolen billions of yen from Daimyo Long. I am here to collect."

"Long?" The roburai chuckled. "That old chink put you up to this?"

"Do not disrespect your Lord, oathbreaker!" The cyborai exclaimed.

"Roburai don't serve lords anymore, unless you count the slave models, such as yourself. We are superior to them! You'd see that if you weren't defective."

"Insults will not erase your debt, but my master has offered another solution to prevent open conflict."

"Is that so?" Ookami asked, sarcastically furrowing a brow.

The intruder reached into his waistband, tossing over a wakizashi to Chikamori's feet. "Inject the blade into your life support systems."

"Hahahahahahaha! You're a riot pal."

"I was being serious." The swordsman hissed.

Bad Wolf pick up the bladed and pointed it on his abdomen. He rapidly drew his hands back before hurling the weapon at the intruder's face. The intruder narrowly dodged it as the blade chipped a piece of his mask, leaving a small cut on his skin.

"You're a fleshbag?"

"I am Raiko mk 7." The cyborai affirmed. The cut quick sealed, auto healing itself.

The Maeda underboss flicked his second cigar away. "No, you're dead!"

***

The giant roburai lunged at the stage, nearly splitting it in half as Thunder roared to life. Raiko evaded the massive strike but the aftershock sank the stage on a slope, quickly dragging his body towards his opponend. To create distance the cyborai backflipped but was caught off guard when a large hand clutched his leg in midair. Bad Wolf was surprisingly agile for his size, flinging the white dragon across the room past the dance floor and into the bar.

Mk 7's body crashed like a ragdoll, snapping a few ribs on impact which caused him to wince in pain. Bad Wolf charged forward to exploit his foe's injury tossing a floating table at his prey and revving up the diamond sawchains of his weapon. The intruder composed himself quickly by slashing through the table with his sword, and throwing several explosive shuriken with his free hand. The explosives scathed Chikamori, but only slowed his blitz by a few seconds, giving Raiko the time to prepare himself. The two forces met at the center of the main hall. The cyborau dodged again beneath a fast swing but spun around, this time meeting his opponent head on.

Matching his oponent's moves Ookami spun to face the cyborai as they both exchanged parries. Thunder clashed against the sword as the larger warrior pushed his weight down on the blades, forcing Raiko into a crouched postion. Their arms tremored as they fought for control, Bad Wolf clearly being strong enough to dominate, but not strong enough to break the swordsman's resolve. Within seconds Thunder's edge had begun to wear a nick into the shorter weapon, being the only line of defense between the massive club and its target's skull.

"Come on! Is this the best you can do?" The Maeda enforcer teased.

Raiko's eyes twitched and his nostrils flared in anger. His sword vanished for a moment and he rolled back from the crouch reappearing with his blade to graze Chikamori's arm. The roburai countered with a strike from Thunder's blunt end, smacking him back over the bar, this time into the alcohol cases.

He grinned at the gash in his arm. It had been years since Bad Wolf had seen his own blood, and it was relieving to fight someone who could make him bleed. "That's a neat trick you got with the sword, Ghost Metal, right?" The thug inquired.

Raiko remained silent. He was too busy plucking the glass out of his skin to respond. The liquid had also infiltrated his ears and eyes, fluxing his perception filters. Ookami's voice was alternating pitches through Raiko's ears as the Maeda underboss kept antagonizing.

"I've got a trick too...wanna see?" Suddenly Bad Wolf's teeth began to light up as a small orb of electricity appeared before his mouth. He howled loudly, triggering the orb to transform into an arc of lightning directed at the smashed liquor case.

Raiko sprinted as fast as he could, jumping over the rail of the exploding bar as his hakama caught flame. Ookami howled again narrowly missing the evasive target as he tossed smoke bombs to throw of the blast. Chikamori's eyes glowed orange as his optic scanner activated thermal vision. "I seeeee you!" He jested.

"You're too late." The cyborai declared, as his perception filters had finished rebooting itself. To delay the next lightning bolt he hurled his sword at the roburai's chest. Bad Wolf lifted Thunder with his good arm and flung up to swipe the sword away but Raiko had activated the Ghost Metal. With precision the sword phased through the steel club and solidified, pinning Chikamori's forearm to his chest.

The roburai howled in pain this time hitting mk 7 with a lightning bolt, kicking the falling combatant in the midsection, choke slamming him into the ground, then smashing him back into the karaoke stage. Despite his advanced healing features Raiko could not take much more punishment. He crawled to the back of the stage before collapsing.

Ookami smiled. He dropped Thunder to the ground as he carefully dislodged the sword from his chest and arm. Clutching it in his hands he swung it a few times through the air and admired it's precision. He strided towards his fallen foe to end the duel properly.

"It was illogical for you to come here, but I'm glad you did. It's nostalgic to feel tested once again. One of the downsides of acquiring true power is that it is seldom to actually use it. You've given me a gift today and you deserve a reward, for that. You'll die serving your master, and I live on and personally dedicate myself to reunite all of you loved ones in the long days that will follow your death." He laughed. "Yes, I think I'll thoroughly enjoy that." Ookami's pace quickened as noticed Raiko's body occasionally twitch from the shock. He crouched down by the wounded cyborai and spoke softly to his prey.

"Do you know why you've lost? It wasn't because you had poorer tech, that you where too dumb, too weak, or too slow, I mean, all of those things contributed but they weren't the root of your problem. You lost because you're only human, and thus, an inferior creature. I fight with no restrictions because I obliterated my weakness long ago. I've adapted to become what this world needs me to be hard, tough, strong, but mostly, just better than the older models." He gripped the sword and slowly raised it over mk 7's head. "Well...don't feel so bad, of all the fleshbags that have tried to kill me, you came the closest."

"SHUT UP!" Raiko roared. Bad Wolf plunged the blade down as it faded into the floor. Raiko spun up with the wakizashi he had hidden beneath his body, thrusting the blade upward, through the bottom of Chikmori's jaw into the base of his skull. Ookami's eye's rolled up as the sparks between his fangs discharged.

He reclaimed his sword from the base of the stage and pried the oni mask off of Bad Wolf's metallic face. After pocking the mask within his hakama, Raiko tapped his earlobe, activating a radio call. "Chisato-sama, I've resolved with the problem. I'll return the mask to the daimyo and meet you back at the lab for further orders."

"Good work, my boy! I'll contact Long now."

***

Chisato turned off the radio signal. The old man coughed into the sleeve of his lab coat, before striking a name off the list in his monitor. "That's one down...and 46 more to go." The Doctor grinned, regardless of the future outcomes this victory had just made him a very wealthy man.

THE END.

Batkevin74: Superhero Smackdown - Lady Gunsword vs. Belloc

Welcome to this, our special special edition of Superhero Smackdown.

My name is Kevin and I sound like Calculon doing an impression of Howard Cosell.

Our action tonight comes to us from an alternate dimension and sponsored by Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, the cleanest teeth or your money back. Betting and odds will be available on our website in just a few moments.

But we now go live to the action, which is taking place in a city similar to Westbury Massachusetts if it were built on the moon by LSD infused architects. In the blue corner, plummeting from a height of fifteen thousand feet and approaching terminal velocity is Lady Gunsword, the hero of this piece…correction I’ve just been informed that it is indeed a woman under the mask, making the name much more appropriate.

Standing at only five feet five inches the stunning sapphire cyber samurai was the former sidekick of The Duke, this world’s elite gunfighter. Seemingly parting ways some six years ago this lethal lady has been making quite a name for herself. Skilled in several forms of martial arts, coupled with a cybernetic array that would make a certain alcohol guzzling playboy from a marvellous universe pretty jealous, Lady Gunsword is quite the package. Due to her colouring we shall be assigning her the blue corner.

In the red corner, though imbibed with purple energy; is eldritch infused, telekinetic demon lord known as Belloc! Formerly a librarian who one day checked out the wrong book and now is the rotted eldritch infused telekinetic demon lord bent on wreaking havoc. On a scale of one to ten, he’d be on it.

We take up the action, apologies to our viewers in universe one as we have no way of translating their dialog into smell to coincide with our live broadcast.

Lady Gunsword lands on the turquoise concrete with all the grace of a cat several feet away from the demon lord who hovers inches off the ground in a purple nimbus. Words are exchanged but they are simply the canapés to the main course of battle! As expected Belloc roars in delight and pulses off a blast wave of energy. Lady Gunsword activates pitons in her boots and stands her ground like a lighthouse against the angry sea. Nothing given, nothing asked.

Gunsword leaps forward with an impressive array of flips, barani’s and somersaults as she closes the gap and attempts to behead him, which may or may not work as I believe only vampires are destroyed this way. Regardless Belloc has telekinetically stunted the attack mere inches from his skin; you can see the veins popping in his anorexic neck. Lady Gunsword’s blade starts to glow and quake. I can see Belloc questioning what is hap…OH MY LORD!

Lady Gunsword’s sword has fired of a blast like a gun! At point blank range into Belloc’s face! Let’s see that on super slo-mo. The sword glows and like a gun fires a massive ballistic hit into Belloc’s face, the face shuddering mad even more painful by the slow motion!

I haven’t seen anything like this since the Punisher War Journal of 1989 where he shot a man in the nuts with a ballistic knife! Amazing!

Is Belloc getting up? He’s lying on the…Lady Gunsword is on him like white on rice and drives her sword home through his sternum to the hilt. THAT”S GOTTA HURT!

Seems this one is over folks. The lady in blue easily defeating her opponent and possibly in record time.

That’s all we have time for folks, stay tuned for a few words from our sponsors. I’ve been Kevin doing Calculon doing Howard Cosell…good night

4donkeyjohnson: Blue Tiger vs. The Super Geo-Power Attack Team

Translated from the Japanese...

“You have killed for the last time, Blue Tiger!” cried Lightning Corridor as he cradle his now dead fiancée, Umbrella Of The Sun, in his pulsing bio-electric arms. The sword wielding villain threw his head back and laughed maniacally.

“No, Lightning Corridor, I still have you to kill today,” he swung his sword back and forth, carving the air. “So get up and face me!”

The man called Lightning Corridor glowed bright yellow, with the fury of a million turbines. The area hummed with static, the smell of ozone was offensive to the nostrils as he powered up with righteous anger. “DIE!”

Lightning Corridor fired a blast that tore a hole in the fabric of the universe with it’s tenacity! Amp upon amp, volt upon volt, of an incalculable amount hurtled towards Blue Tiger. The killer smiled, planted his metallic feet and caught the bolt on his sword.

“My sword was forged in the heart of a stormcano,” shouted Blue Tiger of the furious noise. “This…feeble, pathetic attack is offensive to me and to the woman you seek to avenge. Have it back!”

Blue Tiger tossed the energy back at Lightning Corridor who unready for such an attack, causing him to explode like a rapidly inflated balloon. There was very little left of him asides from a red mist hovering in the air. Blue Tiger inhaled and then exhaled what little was left of Lightning Corridor as if he was puffing a cigar.

“I told you I still had you to kill, my brother.” Blue Tiger licked his lips, turned and looked at the wave of the other amassed heroes of Super Geo-Power Attack Team who were waiting like a frightened herd of sheep. He shook his head taking off his mask. “I said that is all I was going to kill today, and as a man of my word, I will keep that promise. But come at me…mark my words, tomorrow there will be furious vengeance upon those who step to me.”

The Super Geo-Power Attack Team, all 102 of them paused. He was but one man armed with a sword. They had fought the Zilla-Gorilla of Honshu who stood 700ft tall and shot molten snot; they had defeated the Pumpkin Men from the Perseus Quadrant…but they were unsure what to do when one of their founders who had turned to a life of crime and wickedness. One by one the Super Geo-Power Attack Team dispersed; quietly like monks through a temple for prayers until there was only one left: Atomic Powered Goat Girl.

“Go home Nadia,” Blue Tiger said as he wiped his sword on his azure robe.

“No…I am going to wait until the clock strikes 12.01 and then I am going to kill you Hattori,” she cried softly as tears ran down her face.

Blue Tiger shrugged as he crossed his legs and closed his eyes. “Suit yourself.”

Slowly, steadily, the clocked ticked as Atomic Powered Goat Girl waited and watched.

Nine hours to go…

TommytheHitman: Yukko Simatzu

The stars had once shone through the night sky, illuminating the ground and showing a path for all of Earth's creatures to use. But the stars shone no longer. The light they had once created had simply been replaced with darkness. A darkness unlike any that the man known as Yukko Simatzu had ever known. It was the type of darkness that permeated from the darkest recesses of man's minds.

It was the stuff of nightmares.

Yukko was an oddity in the world he had created. He had been born before the dark had tightened its grip around the Earth. He'd taken part in the war against the creatures that had been created from the night... and he'd been there when the entirety of the Human race had perished that long dreadful day almost 50 years ago. Now, he was all that remained.

"It's time to go..." He whispered to himself as he gripped the large sword attached to his belt. He'd spent the last 4 days in the darkness of the forest trying to stay out of sight. Not hiding of course, it was impossible to hide from something that was omniscient... however simply staying out of the darkness' plans. Yukko's costume was the only light a person would be able to find across the entire planet... and that was the way he liked it. As he released himself from the tree he had made his home he felt a sensation that he hadn't felt for years... he wasn't alone. The moment he hit the grassy ground he twisted his body and pulled his sword from its sheathe. "Who's there?!" He yelled, his voice croaking from the lack of use his vocal cords had been through recently. He released a burst of white light from his right hand that unleashed its brightness into the surrounding dark... and as the light shot forward a shadow appeared directly between a pair of pine trees... only this shadow did not sleep upon the ground as others did... this one stood upon the ground like a normal person.

Slowly the darkness molded around the shadow before taking the appearance of a person... a woman. Someone that Yukko had known very well in his youth.

"Hello Yukko." The girl said, she clung to the pine tree on her right as though it was the safety rail keeping her from death. "I've missed you."

Yukko stared into the darkness with anger. His hand tightened around the hilt of his blade as the woman stepped forward. "Do not think you can trick me Spectre." He hissed. "Your kind has tried this before." He smiled slightly as he placed the tip of his sword against the creature's throat. "It didn't work then, either." The woman stared at him with her dead eyes... and slowly she began to spin whatever lies came into her mind.

"But I'm not a trick, dearest..." She said in the most seductive tone she could muster. "I'm real. The most real person y-" Her sentence was interrupted by the blade severing her neck from its body. Pitch black blood splattered across the grass and the woman's body dissolved into nothing, Yukko stepped over the goo that was hissing upon the floor and sheathed his sword.

"You're not real..." He muttered as he made his way through the forest. He willed the light he'd created to fizzle out. "Nothing is."

Johnjo719: Samurai vs. Ninja

The armored Samurai leapt into the air and swung his blade down at the helpless woman that knelt before him. He expected to hear the sound of sharp steel cutting into soft flesh and bone. Instead he heard the clang of metal on metal. He glanced to his right and finally noticed the dark clad warrior standing there so silently.

The fact that he hadn't heard him enter the warlord's home was impressive. He was able to suppress his murderous intent to a worrying degree. The Samurai took a step back, using the space to give himself a chance to reassess the situation.

The two warriors circled around each other. The dark clad ninja making no discernible sound on the wooden floor. The Samurai lunged at him, trying to catch him off guard and keep him off balance. His attempt at guile failed as the ninja parried his strike and then immediately fell into the shadows, melding into the darkness completely.

The Samurai brought his sword closer to his body now, trying to defend himself. He stood there in the silence, trying to discern the ninja's location, nervously awaiting the attack he knew was coming. His heart was pounding and his palms grew sweaty. The sounds of the warlord's wife sobbing was the only thing to be heard in the entire house, that and the sound of the samurai's own breathing.

Then the sound of metal whipping through the air was heard, and the samurai spun around swinging his sword, knocking down the kunai that had been sent towards him. However it was a feint and the ninja dashed towards him from behind and cut into his back, and slid back into the darkness.

The Samurai grunted in pain. His blood seeped through his armor as he turned around and slashed at his invisible foe, entirely too late. He slowly started spinning around in circles, trying to anticipate the next attack. The next one came much quicker this time, but the samurai was ready. The attack came from his left, low. The Samurai blocked the hit and lashed out with his fist, catching the ninja off guard, not expecting that from a supposedly "honorable" Samurai. The Bushido warrior swung the knife down in a vicious arc nearly cutting through the ninja's arm. As it was, he still had limited use of his arm.

The ninja again disappeared into the shadows but this time he left a trail of blood to follow. The Samurai jumped on the opportunity for the victory and gave chase. The ninja however, was expecting this tactic. He sheathed his sword and withdrew his many shuriken and threw them at the attacking samurai, while backpedaling away from him. The samurai pressed on, deflecting the throwing stars and backed the lethal shadow warrior against the wall. He made one final lunge and finally, finally heard the sound he had been waiting for. The sound of a sword cutting deeply, mortally, in a human body.

The samurai coughed and spit out blood. His arm was still raised, his sword gripped tightly in his fist. The armor had proven useless against the famous steel of the Katana blade. The ninja pushed the Samurai back and off of his sword. The Samurai collapsed and fell on his knees. His body was starting to lose its warmth, it was all leaving him through his life's blood. "So this is what death feels like." The Samurai thought to himself. His body went numb and he coughed up another wad of blood.

The ninja pulled off of his mask and put away his short sword. "Mother. Are you unharmed?" He asked the woman who was still crying.

"He....he killed them all." The woman, his mother, whispered. "All of them." The ninja knelt and hugged his mother tightly.

"He has joined them in the afterlife now mother." He reassured her. "Now come, more are on the way."

Gumflabica: Tyler Dorrance

Pain. It was the only thing he could think about. It was familiar, yet alien at the time. He could focus only on pain, yet felt none. The blood fell to the ground, he saw the sword in his abdomen, yet he felt nothing. His hands were bloodied, and the eye he could still see out of was still. He stared, and time seemed to pass in slow motion. He realized what was happening, but in a childlike sort of way. As if he knew that everything was going to be okay in the end. That life would go on. But he didn't know that. Would he die here, before this swordsman? Would his injuries claim him after a long battle? Could he survive this? His thoughts came to a sudden stop when he remembered. He remembered what pain felt like.

He felt a sudden twinge of pain in his abdomen, which suddenly spread through his body and radiated out of every place that blood leaked from. He looked to the sword in his abdomen, and looked to the man holding it. He pulled back his fist and shot it towards the man's chin with all the force he could.

His name is Tyler Dorrance, and he's going to die.

"My dad, yeah, he's pretty proud of me. Glad I wanted to be a part of the family business. Blowing sh*t up. Controlled demolitions. Not that commercial sh*t, though, like, we get paid to blow up people, places, you name it. As long as it gets the job done and it's untraceable. We homebrew our own, out of the weirdest sh*t. But anyway, the reason I'm here is, uh, this guy. Think his name was Hector McReary or somethin' like that. Weird guy, real shady. He had money though, and that's what we needed. He wanted us to blow this warehouse. Abandoned. Again, real shady. We did, but he gave us a case full of absolute sh*t. Like, he pulled some switcheroo on us or somethin'. Turns out that warehouse was owned by a mob boss, like yakuza or triad or somethin'. Those crates in there were just loaded with coke. He had his men take me, the oldest son, into custody to spite my family before killing them. He had me tossed in this pit and, well, here I am."

All of the men in the room were bloodied, wearing tattered pants and nothing else. The man sitting across from Tyler nodded. "So you blow sh*t up? Might come in handy 'round here." The man stepped up at the sound of a buzzer. The other people in the room looked to him. "You're up, Kerr." Kerr stepped into a round room, with a dirt floor and fencing for walls. The top was open, and spectators leaned in to the action.

"Sick bastards." A man with a shaved head stood up. "Makin' us fight." He looked around, stopping at Tyler. "At least we've got a chance to freedom. Champ walks away free." He walked in after Kerr, and the gate closed behind him. The men in the room with Tyler watched through the gate.

The man who was in the room punched Kerr in the back of the head, which Kerr responded to with an elbow to the jaw. Kerr then slammed his shoulder into the man's solar plexus and pinned him against the wall. The man brought down an elbow on the exposed back of Kerr's head, causing him to fall to the man's feet. The man attempted to kick Kerr, but Kerr grabbed the man's shin with one hand and pressed against his knee with the other. The man fell to the ground and tried to pry off Kerr's hands. Tyler watched. The snap made him sick to his stomach. The gate opened up, and Kerr walked back in. The man was pressed against the chain wall and a command was given in a foreign language. Electricity surged through the metal and the man was killed.

"That's how it works." Kerr grumbled to Tyler. "Hey new guy, hope you don't live to lose a fight." The night passed, but Tyler got no sleep. He was going to die here.

5 years had passed. Tyler forgot what the outside world was like. He just spend his time in this dank bunk room or the arena. Fighting had become boring. He was never scared or excited for a fight, never happy when he won. He was indifferent about we the he lived or died. Hell could be no worse than this. He heard the buzzer.

He stepped into the arena. He looked around for his opponent, and saw Kerr. There were no friends here, but Kerr was the only person here who actually talked. Everyone else was reduced to grunts it seemed. Too bad. Tyler waited for Kerr to approach him. When Kerr threw a punch, Tyler took hold of his arm and punched Kerr as hard in the jaw as he could. On top of the downed Kerr, he swung his fist into Kerr's face until it, as well as Tyler's right hand, resembled spoiled hamburger.

Tyler got up, emotionless, and walked back to his bunk. The men on the other side didn't bother zapping Kerr. The usually didn't have to after a fight against Tyler. He was just good at what he did.

2 more years passed. Nothing eventful happened, until out of the buzzing that he heard from the mass of talking people he heard the word championship. He suddenly wasn't lifeless. He felt emotion. He rushed to the person who had said it, and found that if he could kill the man behind all of this, he could walk free. The man however, was armed with a sword, and an armor suit.

Tyler had no reason not to accept, and put up quite the fight. The swordsman's jaw was practically hanging off.

Tyler laid on the ground, in a rapidly growing pool of blood. The swordsman approached him. He attempted to speak, but instead spat blood. Tyler would've laughed if he had the strength to. He looked at the time displayed on the built-in digital watch on the swordsman's suit. He had by this point learned how to read it. "Al-almost ti-ime..." He said, smiling. The swordsman looked confused.

"K-kaboosh" Tyler clasped his hands together and spread his fingers and hands apart. A distant crashing noise could be heard. Then, soon, another. And another. They began to come from all directions, and underneath them. The floor collapsed, and the arena was consumed in a fireball.

"Tyler, Tyler, holy sh*t calm down!" Kerr ran towards his friend, who was beating a man senseless. "What's wrong with you!? He's not a damn cyber-ninja, are you crazy? Have you ever heard of cosplaying? Christ dude, you've got problems!"

"Tweaked out crazy sonofab*tch." Kerr turned away, shaking his head. Tyler charged at Kerr, and slammed his shoulder into Kerr's back. He smashed Kerr's head on the cement in the parking lot before he heard a distinctive clicking noise behind him.

"You stay away from me you evil psychopa-" The weak and bloodied man shot Tyler in the head before falling down into the feral position and crying. Police sirens could be heard in the distance. Kerr was loaded into an ambulance in a body bag.

The man in the parking lot walked home, and turned on the TV. He made himself some food as the news played stories on a recent hospital bombing and a bust on an underground fighting ring.

He took his food into his bedroom and just stared at his armor suit and sword while he ate.

Cbishop: Heironymous in Indigo

The Iron Circle- an industrial roundabout near one of Indigo City’s crash sites from The Great Impact:

“Tell me again why we’re here, Special Agent Heironymous,” said Crystal Salt.

Looking at the work going on in the foundry, Heironymous answered, “We’re not here, Special Agent Salt.”

Looking up at her new partner, Crystal raised an eyebrow and asked, “We were sent here by our commanding officers, weren’t we?”

Still looking at the foundry, Heironymous cocked his head to one side and replied, “Of course...but that doesn’t mean that we’re here.” He turned his head slightly, looked at Crystal from the corner of his eye, and winked.

Ha. I see. So a dragon smelting iron, and trolls working the metal have what to do with the U.S. Treasury, or protecting the President?”

Heironymous looked down at her fully this time. The question not being entirely unexpected, he replied dryly, “I’m sorry?”

“Trolls and a dragon,” she said, pointing at the foundry. “This must have something to do with POTUS or the Treasury. Otherwise, why send in the Secret Service?”

The bald agent looked back out toward the dragon, and sighed like he was tired. “Damn whoever came up with ‘need to know.’ Is thatall you think we do, Agent Salt?”

“It’s all I was trained for,” she said. “It’s all that’s on the agency’s website,” she added.

Heironymous sounded only slightly annoyed when he said, “Great. A greenhorn.”

Excuse me?” Salt challenged, plainly offended.

“What does it say?” he asked, watching the copper-scaled dragon breathe fire into the great smelting pot of metal ore.

“What?”

“The website,” he said, turning his attention to the young agent. “What does it say?”

Salt ticked off the items on her fingers as she listed, “We safeguard the integrity of the economy, protect national leaders, visiting dignitaries, certain sites and events.”

“It says all that, does it?” asked Heironymous, his handlebar mustache twitching as he talked.

“Yeah,” said Crystal.

“I see,” he said, pursing his lips. “And who has access to this website?”

Everyone,” she answered, plainly bothered by the obviousness of the question. “It’s the World Wide Web.”

“Uh-huh.” Leaning towards her slightly, he asked, “And what part of that says Secret Service to you?”

Crystal considered for a moment, and said, “So we handle other things that aren’t made known to the public.” Heironymous nodded. “So back to my original question: why are we here, watchdogging trolls and a dragon, for weeks on end?” The great smelting pot tipped into the molds at that point, and the trolls began working the molten metal.

Heironymous looked at her curiously. “That’s it? No shock and disbelief? No umbrage over disinformation? No surprise that those are real trolls and a real dragon down there?”

“Special Agent Heironymous, my father was lost in some sort of portal accident, my sister is part of an elite military unit that I gatherencounters weird and unexplained on a regular basis, and during my time in the Navy, I’ve seen things at sea that defy conventional explanation,” she lectured, again ticking her list off on her fingers. “Trolls and a dragon are just more of the same,” she added.

They looked at each other for a long few moments. Heironymous broke the silence with, “Hmph. Not a greenhorn after all then.” Crystal nodded her appreciation before he added, “Just ignorant.”

“Hey--!” she started, before he put a hand up to stop her.

“We- that is the Secret Service- are here,” offered Heironymous, “because our government has a vested interest in Indigo City recovering from the trials brought on by The Great Impact. The foundry hasn’t returned to fully operational status yet, so their smelting equipment isn’t working. So we asked a dragon--”

“--That we just happen to know--” interjected Crystal.

“--to smelt the metals needed to aid in rebuilding, in exchange for a favor that’s beyond your paygrade.”

“But not yours,” she stated.

“We asked the trolls to work the metal, because there are no better metalworkers on Earth--”

“--Or beneath it,” she pointed out.

“--and ordinary citizens can’t be allowed to know that such creatures of lore still exist.”

“Because…” she shrugged.

“Will you please quit doing that?” Heironymous said gruffly. Crystal gestured with both hands for him to continue, then clasped her hands in front of her. “We, specifically, are here, because dragons are my purview. If this goes sideways, we are to protect the dragon, and see that he gets out of here safely.”

“And if it’s the dragon that sends us sideways?” she asked. There was an audible hiss as the metal castings were cooled in the foundry.

Heironymous looked at her quizzically, almost offended. “Dragons are honorable, above all else. Once they agree to do something, they will not waver from it.”

“And if the dragon has an ulterior motive for being here?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

Gritting his teeth slightly, Heironymous said, “Then it was probably covered in the deal he made for his services. Or he decided that doing this service wouldn’t conflict with his own agenda.”

Salt gave a knowing look as she turned back toward the foundry. She clasped her hands behind her, rocked back-and-forth on her heels a couple of times, and said, “Uhh-huh.” The trolls removed the iron girders from the molds, and began resetting the equipment to repeat the process.

Heironymous scowled and said, “Do you have something to say, Agent Salt?”

Crystal looked at him like she had been waiting for this moment all day, and said, “What’s your motive for being here, Agent Heironymous?” He just looked at her. “What deal did you make for your services?” Still nothing. “What favor are you getting in return?”

“That’s definitely above your paygrade,” Heironymous said flatly. Crystal did not look amused. “You read my file.”

“I read your file,” she confirmed with a nod. “You’re a dragon too.”

“And? It’s in my file, because it’s not a secret.”

“Nooo,” she said, still working her way up to her point, “but some people think you’re making that up. There’s plenty of people in the world who are super strong, invulnerable, and breathe fire. Still others don’t believe you because they don’t believe in creatures of lore.”

“I don’t give a damn what people believe,” Heironymous said calmly, “but as you can see, we do exist. Which is why,” he said pointedly, “we have hidden this creature of lore in a foundry, and only have other creatures of lore working with him. Less to explain.”

“Then why am I here?” asked Salt. “I’m just human.”

“If you keep it up? To be a snack,” groused Heironymous.

“Ha!” Crystal put one hand to her chest in mock offense, and said, “Why, Agent Heironymous! Are you saying you want to eat me?” Heironymous looked uncomfortable with the implication she gave his words, and she laughed heartily.

Heironymous’ mustache twitched a few times as he regarded the woman before him. Finally, he said, “Young lady, you have quite a mouth on you.”

Crystal smiled wryly and said, “You have no idea. I was a sailor y--”

BOOM!

An explosion rocked the foundry, and a wall fell away at the entrance. It was followed by the screams of several trolls as they turned to stone, having been caught in the sunlight flooding in through the hole. The other trolls scattered to dark corners of the foundry. The dragon swiveled its head toward the hole and roared.

What appeared to be a blue-clad samurai in high tech armor stepped through the damaged wall, sword in hand. Heironymous was already headed towards the hole, followed by Crystal. Gun drawn and aimed at the intruder, Salt fell in step next to her partner, and asked, “Carrier?”

Still walking, Heironymous snarled, “He’s not a carrier.”

“How do you know?” asked Salt. “Friend of yours?”

A faint hint of smoke came from Heironymous’ nostrils as he answered, “No, but it is someone I know.” Crystal looked at him questioningly, but he only said, “Follow protocol. Protect the dragon.”

“Invulnerable and breathes flame?” she said sarcastically.

Not to everything! Protect the dragon!” he barked. “At all costs!”

Crystal nodded, but he was already moving faster toward the samurai, who was moving toward the dragon. “Halt! Secret Service!” she yelled, and punctuated it with a shot at the feet of the intruder.

As the bullet ricocheted off the floor, the samurai turned his attention toward Crystal, and threw three shuriken at once, moving incredibly fast. She shot one out of the air, one knicked the top of her left ear, and the other lodged in the armor plating of her vest, biting into her chest. She doubled over from the hit, and tried to pull the shuriken from the wound.

The samurai was still running towards Salt when he let another three shuriken fly towards Heironymous. The tip of one bent a little against his chest, but snagged in his coat. The agent smacked one out of the air, caught the other between two fingers, and wasted no time hurling it back at the samurai.

The samurai reached Crystal’s position, knocked her out with an upkick to the face, then deflected the shuriken with his sword. Turning to face his attacker, he froze. “You!...The Escort!...Heironymous!”

Heironymous was walking towards him, and said, “And you…you can hide your face behind that mask, but you can’t hide your smell, boy. Since when do ninjas disguise themselves as samurai?”

“Since I’m sick of ninjas!” he spat. “They pride themselves on adapting to any situation, but they never adapt to the times. I decided I needed an edge, if I was to have vengeance for my family. So I found one,” he said, sweeping a hand from head-to-toe to indicate he meant the armor.

“We’ll see about that!” Heironymous growled as he closed the distance between them. He swung a fist towards the ninja-samurai, but was blocked by an armored arm. The agent immediately swept a leg around, kicking his opponent’s feet out from under him, but the ninja caught himself and did a couple of back handsprings before landing upright.

“You will have to do better than that!” declared the ninja, springing forward and swinging the sword.

Heironymous threw up an arm to block the sword, only to have it cut deeply into his forearm, and slice across his chest. “Yaarrggh!” he cried out, not expecting to be wounded by a manmade weapon. He looked at his arm and chest in shock for a moment.

The ninja looked equally as shocked that it had worked. He gave a breathy laugh as he realized new value in his weapon. Looking at the now angry agent, he said, “The old fool was telling the truth!” He only had a couple of seconds to marvel further before Heironymous attacked again.

They traded punches, kicks, and chops in rapid succession, and Heironymous took more cuts from the sword. The agent started to realize that the armor did give the ninja an edge; it increased his speed, so his reflexes and reaction time were faster. It also made him stronger- he was feeling some of the ninja’s punches. He needed to end this soon, or the kid might get lucky with the sword. Finally, the right combination of feint and punch allowed Heironymous to get the ninja in a hold from behind- left hand under the left arm and around the back of his neck, and the right hand locked onto his wrist, holding him from swinging the sword. For a few seconds, all that could be heard was the sound of both of them breathing hard. Heironymous was ticked, but the ninja was still smiling.

The ninja finally broke the silence to say, “It’s true! It can kill a dragon!” The thought made him laugh breathlessly.

Heironymous tightened his grip a little and said, “Your sword isn’t Japanese, so it’s not the Kusanagi. I’m guessing it didn’t come with the armor. Where’d you get it?”

The ninja laughed again, his breath finally settling. “What does it matter? I will use it to avenge my family!”

Heironymous squeezed tighter, and leaning to the ninja’s ear, said through gritted teeth, “Son, on this entire planet, there are only a handful of weapons that can hurt a dragon, and it’s best that most of them stay where they are.” Giving a stiff shake of the ninja’s sword arm, he demanded, “Where did you get this?”

The ninja fumed, but relented. “In my search for something that could aid me in avenging my family, I met a man in Libya who claimed to know of a sword that could kill a dragon.”

Heironymous scowled at the mention of Libya. He said nothing.

The ninja continued, “This man had a very interesting take on historical and mythical accounts, but his story eventually pointed me to a village in Essex, called Wormingford--”

“--No.” said Heironymous, a hint of fear actually in his voice.

“There, I found the home of a real collector of dragon and dragon-fighting memorabilia. Really amazing place. Best of all was this sword, though,” said the ninja, admiring the blade.

“You fool,” Heironymous said with real dread.

“I took my name from this sword--”

“You stupid boy,” said Heironymous, the strength leaving him.

The ninja took that moment to break free from Heironymous’ grip, and spun to face him, sword extended in front of him. “Now, the dragon who killed my family will know--”

“You didn’t--” the agent said angrily.

“--the wrath of Ascalon!” shouted the ninja.

“No! Noo! Nooo!” shouted Heironymous. “You stupid fool! Tell me you didn’t steal the sword of Saint George!” He roared angrily, and spewed fire at the ninja, driving Ascalon backwards towards the foundry.

When his breath was expended, Ascalon lifted his sword to strike, but a thunderous crash just behind him caused him to spin and find himself staring in the face of the copper-scaled dragon. The dragon roared in his face, and the ninja swung his sword.

Heironymous bellowed, “NO!” which caused the dragon to rear its head back in surprise; just enough for only the tip of the sword to catch its neck. The dragon instinctively drew back several paces, but Ascalon moved forward with him. Drawing the sword back for another swing, he suddenly found his wrist in the vice-like grip of Heironymous again, and he was jerked backwards before he could react.

Heironymous stepped between them as the dragon drew its head back to strike, and shouted, “No!”

The dragon stopped, but Ascalon took the opportunity to strike while Heironymous was distracted. Thrusting forward, he stabbed the agent through his left shoulder. Roaring in pain, Heironymous wrenched backwards, pulling the sword out of Ascalon’s hand, throwing the ninja off balance. With the sword still through his shoulder, and with a savage growl, he broke the ninja’s arm and elbowed him in the face, shattering the mask and knocking him flat on his back. With great pain, he pulled the sword from his body, as Ascalon looked at him in disbelief.

“You should be dead! It should have killed you! Why aren’t you dead?” he shouted hysterically.

“Because I’m bald, not Balder, and this isn’t mistletoe!” Heironymous shouted back, shaking the sword at him. Ascalon looked at him blankly. Heironymous realized the ninja didn’t understand, and his shoulders slumped a little. Tiredly he said, “Ascalon can pierce a dragon, son, but you still have to hit something vital for it to kill.” The ninja suddenly looked defeated. Heironymous scowled. “You don’t even know what you’ve done, do you?”

“I have failed once again to avenge my family,” Ascalon said quietly.

“This goes much deeper than your personal vengeance,” said Heironymous. “You damned near started a war. This sword is bound by treaty, between Saint George and the Dragons, to never be used to kill a dragon again. Had you killed the Prince of Dragons with thissword, you’d have unleashed hell in retribution against humanity. As it is, if the Saint thinks we stole the sword from him, there may yet be war anyway. He will want this BARRGHHHH!

Heironymous went down from an armored foot to his groin, and then was kicked in the face, throwing him on his back. Ascalon jumped to his feet, grabbed the sword with his good hand, and ran for an exit, with his bad arm folded close to his body. As Heironymous concentrated on his pain, he heard, “Humanity can rot with my family! I will have my vengeance!”

The foundry was quiet again for a minute. Then the trolls began to come out of hiding, and the Prince of Dragons walked up and nudged Heironymous with his nose. The agent rolled painfully to his side, and winced. “I suppose the universe owed me that,” he said weakly. As he picked himself up off of the floor, he told the dragon, “I’ve got to catch him. Saint George is going to want his sword back, and his first stop in his search is going to be us.”

The dragon breathed smoke and growled. Heironymous looked at him sternly and said, “Our time here is up. Scorched earth. Nobodycan know we were here. Nobody survives. Except her,” he said, pointing at Crystal. “Deal’s off- I’ll make it up to you. You protect her with your life, or you will answer to your father.” The dragon lowered his head in submission, and Heironymous ran for the door.

As he got to his car, he heard the dragon roar, followed by a troll screaming, “Treacherrryyyyyyyy!” followed by only screams. He knew the Prince would walk away from the site in human form when he was done. They didn’t complete what they came to do, but they gave Indigo a head start. Now though, recovering Ascalon was the priority.

Whooo, great entries! Thanks for reading, and don't forget to vote- deadline is December 4th, 11:58pm GMT! -cb
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