By cbishop 2 Comments
I decided that I wanted all of my Character Creation Contest (CCC) entries in one place. These are the entries as they were posted to the original contest threads, no embellishments, no edits. Up through CCC #13, these entries have appeared individually on the Fan-Fic forum, retitled and edited for better reading (the others will be edited and appear there eventually). I'll update this as each new contest ends. I hope you enjoy them, and as always, thanks for reading. -cb
|Yes, it's true: I finally got a notice that my "content is too long," so I had to split this up. For the entries before CCC #25, please refer to Part 1. -cb|
All of my CCC entries, from latest to CCC #25:
|028||Villain For Captain Marvel Bunny||1,565||17||2||2nd||E|
Captain Marvel Bunny and Invincible The Ibis were fighting a strange reptilian foe- a black snake with a yellow underbelly in the jagged pattern of a lightning bolt. He was as strong as the Captain, but with additional powers the bunny couldn't explain. Even with the combo of The Marvel Bunny's might and Invincible's Ibistick, they were having trouble with this slithery villain.
Invincible raised his Ibistick and fired a magical bolt at the snake, but he coiled like a spring and bounced out of the way. When he came down from his bounce, he trapped Invincible in his embrace. The snake squeezed until the Ibistick dropped from the hero's grip, then grabbed the end of the bird's red turban in his mouth, and coiled around Invincible at super speed. When he was done, The Ibis was a big red mummy.
The snake coiled before the crimson bundle, pleased with himself. Captain Marvel Bunny took that moment to throw a punch at the snake, but it moved at super speed, flying into the air. "Ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ss-ssss," came the stuttering hiss of the snake's laughter. "You'll never defeat Black Adar, Bunny!"
Captain Marvel Bunny lunged into the sky, shouting, "You don't mind if I try, do y-ooop!" Black Adar had grabbed the Captain's wrist with his tail and flipped him through the air. A deafening crash signaled the Captain's abrupt halt in the wall of a nearby building.
As the Rabbit of Righteousness shook off the stunning blow, the Serpent of Sin asked, "Don't you know I have the same power as you? Do you know what's good about that?" Before the Captain could respond, Black Adar zigzagged his body like a lightning bolt and with similar speed, he struck The Marvel Bunny in the chest.
The hero was shocked to find that he had been turned back into Hoppy! He went to shout the word that would change him back, but Black Adar quickly coiled around his body, one firm coil over his mouth. "Ah, ah, ahhh," scolded the snake. "We can't have you saying your magic word, Hoppy." The bunny's eyes went wide when he heard his name. "Oh, don't look so shocked. The narrator let it slip seven sentences ago."
"Fret not, you'll get to change back soon." Still firmly coiled around our hero, Black Adar flew to a spot at the edge of Fawncett City, landing before a familiar burrow. "It was a bolthole like this that led me to the Rock of Eternity, centuries ago," said the snake. "This is how you found him, yes?" Unable to answer, Hoppy just glared at the snake. "Well, only he has the answer you need of how to stop me," taunted the serpent, "but don't think I'm going to make that easy for you."
Swaying his head back and forth before Hoppy, the snake continued, "This is a power that all of us cartoon snakes have, y'know." With that, concentric circles started spinning in Black Adar's eyes, and he leaned close to Hoppy until the bunny's eyes matched his own. "When next you look at this hillside, Hoppy, you will see many burrows, and you'll have to try them all to find the old guy. But don't worry, when you find a wrong one, all you have to do is say your magic word, and instead of changing back, you'll be transported back here to try another hole." Eyes still spinning, the enthralled rabbit nodded weakly.
"But you need to move quickly," warned the snake, "because the contest deadline is almost upon you." Coiling around to one of the bunny's ears, Black Adar confided, "I'd wink at the reader, but I don't have any eyelids." With that, he uncoiled from around Hoppy at super speed, leaving the bunny spinning like a top while he flew away.
Hoppy spun for several seconds, then wobbled, then plopped down on his cottontail. His eyes still spinning and his upper body still wobbling back-and-forth slightly, he put one paw to his head, shut his eyes tightly, and shook his head vigorously. When his body-wobble slowed, he opened his eyes and the hypnotic effects were gone. Hoppy snapped his head around to the hill, now dotted with holes. He immediately shouted, "SHAZAM!" and dove into the nearest burrow.
As soon as Captain Marvel Bunny appeared in this reality, he heard maniacal laughter followed by, "It worked! It worked! The Moleholeborer has drilled into another dimension, bringing me a minion capable of defeating that pesky porker..."
"Hey! Big ears here! Kind of sensitive!" the Bunny shouted. He then looked down at a small animal with white goggles and a green cape, and asked, "Who are you?"
"I?!" shouted the villain. "I am The Mole, man! I am the underminer of morals! I am boring into the very fabric of..." and that was when The Captain backhanded him into a nearby tunnel wall.
"You're boring alright," he agreed.
"Hey! Who are you and why are you defeating my villain?" a voice demanded.
Captain Marvel Bunny focused his keen eyesight down the dark tunnel until he spied a pig in a red and blue costume with white eyepatches. "Ah, you must be the pesky porker?" he asked.
"That's Spider-Ham to you, pal," answered the pesky porker. "Hey! That's Spider-Ham to , too!"
???...Fine, I'll be over here, being quiet. See how far your story gets without me.
"I'm Captain Marvel Bunny."
"I'm your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Ham. I see you've already met The Mole."
"Yes, but I was sent here by a villain of my own and need to get back."
"If anyone can figure out how to travel to another reality, it would have to be Deer Dicharrs, of the Fawntastic Four. Let's drop The Mole off to the police, and we'll go see him."
"Um, I don't know if...wait. What about him?"
"Who? Oh...what about him?"
Hm? Oh, me? Oh! Oh yeah! <ahem> Captain Marvel Bunny and Spider-Ham...
Spider-Ham nodded approvingly.
Captain Marvel Bunny and Spider-Ham headed to the surface. They were just leaving police headquarters when The Captain looked down the street and started to shout, "Jumping Jellyf...mmf!" but was interrupted by a web muffling his mouth.
"I don't think our lawyers will let us say that," chided Spider-Ham.
The Captain scowled at the hero and ripped the webbing from his mouth. "No! Look!" he said, pointing down the street. "Jumping Jellyfish!" And sure enough, coming down the street were two giant, jumping, bouncing jellyfish, bouncing off of buildings as well as the sidewalk. "That must be what The Mole's Moleholeborer actually brought here! Let's wrap this up quick," said The Captain. He started forward, but another web grabbed his shoulder.
"Touch those slimy things? Are you kidding? I have a better idea." Captain Marvel Bunny just looked at Spider-Ham as he strolled forward with his hands clasped behind his back. "Jellyfish!" he shouted. "That's perfect! Now where did I put my Peanutbutterfish? This will be a great snack!"
The two jellyfish stopped mid-bounce, one in a lean off the sidewalk, the other about to leap from the side of a building. Their bulbous heads turned to each other, they shook, and then both jumped, spinning faster and faster until they disappeared from this reality.
"If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it," admitted The Captain. "Well, time for me to go. Until we meet again, Spider-Ham."
"Until then, Captain," answered Spider-Ham.
The two heroes shook hands, Captain Marvel Bunny shouted, "SHAZAM!" and was gone. Appearing once again before the Hill of holes, he immediately dove into another burrow.
"Eh, what's up, doc?" asked a naked rabbit. "You must be the temp, while I go on vacation. Heyyyy, fancy duds, doc!" He then chomped on a carrot while he looked the hero over. In the distance, a small brown tornado was moving towards them. "So, Taz will be here in a second. Don't worry, his bark is worse than his bite, doc. Thanks for filling in for me, and I'll see you in two weeks. Tah tah!" With that, the grey and white rabbit dove into the ground and burrowed away.
"What in the world?" asked The Captain.
"Waaaabiiiit!" came the slobbering chatter of the brown tornado, now stopped beside him. Not a tornado at all, he was an also naked brown Tasmanian Devil.
"Excuse me?" asked Captain Marvel Bunny.
"WABBIT!" hollered Taz, as he quickly tied a napkin around his neck and grabbed The Marvel Bunny's arm. Before The Captain could say anything, Taz's mouth opened wide and clamped down on Cap's arm. There was a loud clanking sound, then the teeth cracked, and fell out of Taz's mouth. Taz looked at the pile of teeth, then at the hero, who just shrugged. Snatching the bib from his neck, he quickly scooped the pile of teeth into it, creating a small sack. He then spun and zipped away, trailed only by a, "Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!"
The Captain just looked after him. "Oh for the luvva...SHAZAM!" Disappearing once again and reappearing at the hill, he dove into another hole.
Seeing a giant squirrel scurry up the humongous tree, he spied a giant red bird with four eyes, staring at him. "Who dares to intrude on Toucan the Terrible?"
"Oh, heck no. SHAZAM!" and he disappeaeard again.
|027||Mayan Underworld OC||986||9||4||1st||T|
A bird with a brightly colored beak sits brooding among the branches of the World Tree. He does not look happy.
A squirrel scampers down from the higher branches and stops beside him. He notices that whatever the bird is looking at, it seems to be an infinity away. “Sam?” he asks.
The bird cocks an eye his way only slightly, and greets the squirrel without enthusiasm, “Hello, Ratatosk.”
“What are you doing here?” Ratatosk asked, moving from side to side a couple of times. Sam just looked at him. “Odin wants to know.”
“Odin?” gruffed the bird. “Since when does Odin take notice of any bird besides his ravens?”
Ratatosk scurried to the underside of the limb, as if dodging something. A few moments later he poked his head back around, and looked anxiously at the higher limbs, his head jerking first to one side, then the other as he peered between the branches. Cautiously climbing back to the topside of the branch, he gave one more nervous glance upwards, then stepped a little closer to Sam. “Since the bird is from another pantheon,” scolded the squirrel. “Now I ask again, what are you doing here?”
Sam looked perturbed, and waved his wings towards the messenger. “Oh, quit twitching your tail, tree rat! We all have claim to the World Tree. I know it, you know it, and Odin certainly knows it.” Ratatosk looked horrified, and in a frenzy did a couple of laps around the branch. Sam ignored him as he settled back down on his haunches and resumed his watch into the abyss.
“At any rate, I just came here for some perspective.” Sam glanced at the squirrel who had stopped his scramble to look at him quizzically, then added, “And to get away from Xibalba’s blathering.” He craned his neck downwards and shouted into the abyss, “King of the underworld for millennia on end! And still all he can talk about are the Six Houses! Like they’re the only ones who live there! Get. a. clue!” screeched the bird.
Ratatosk gasped, and his eyes got big. “You live in the nether realms, Sam?”
Sam jerked his head back around to the squirrel. “Why is that so hard to believe?” he demanded.
Ratatosk deflated a little, and answered, “Well, it’s just that…that…”
“That what?” bellowed Sam, stepping closer.
“…That…you-you’re…a toucan,” finished the squirrel. Withering a little further under Sam’s gaze, he added weakly, “You just don’t see many brightly colored netherworlders, is all.” Ratatosk reflexively started scanning the lower branches of the World Tree, avoiding the bird’s gaze.
Sam was fuming. “And why not?” he screamed. “Do you know who I am? I’m thre great god Fallayershnozl! I'm the Pied Piper of morning! Children follow me blindly for the promised taste of something I never give them! There’s no cherry in those loops! No orange! No anything! They’re all the same flavor! But they love them! The love me! Then they beg their parents to buy them more! I say, ‘Follow my nose,’ and those kids will follow me anywhere! Anywhere!” Leaning from the branch, Sam screams again into the abyss, “Let’s see Xibalba do that!” As he straightened back up, his tailfeathers fell away, and the skin underneath was red.
“Uh, Sam…” started Ratatosk.
“Do you know how hard it is for someone from the nether realms to get humans to follow them?” interrupted Sam. “It’s near impossible!” he shouted, throwing his wings wide. As he did so, the feathers at his wingtips flew outwards, leaving more red skin underneath. “I not only got humans to follow me, I got other humans to help me! An advertising agency will sell their souls for a buck…and did,” he cooed. “The love of money really is the root of all evil, you know.” He rubbed his wings together, clearly savoring the memory, and more feathers fell from his wings, leaving bright red skin underneath.
Ratatosk laid his ears back a little, and took a few steps backwards. Sam continued to rant.
“Is that good enough for Xibalba though? Noooo! ‘That’s not the way we do things, Sam.’” More feathers fell away.
“‘That’s too commercial, Sam.’” Great tufts fell away, and nothing but bright red skin underneath.
“‘We already have Six Houses, Sam.’” The toucan began to grow as he ranted, towering over Ratatosk like the World Tree itself.
“‘You’re just a toucan, Sam!’” A second pair of eyes appeared just over his first pair, and they started glowing with yellow energy.
“Well? I’m not ‘just a toucan’ anymore, AM I?” he bellowed, shaking the boughs of the World Tree with his thunderous voice.
“Today is the start of Toucan House! Today marks the beginning of the time of Toucan! Beware, Xibalba! BEWARE THE POWER OF TOUCAN THE TERRIBLE!” The giant red toucan roared with laughter, and his top pair of eyes smoldered with energy.
Ratatosk scampered backwards as quick as he could, and started to climb the World Tree. Toucan the Terrible spotted him, and his voice echoed, “Where are you going, tree rat?” His top eyes glowed brightly, and then energy beams lanced outwards and reduced the squirrel to a pile of ash.
The ash pile smoldered for a few seconds, them shifted slightly, and Ratatosk rose again from his own demise, shaking the remaining ashes from his fur. “You know, that’s not very nice,” he said to the giant toucan.
Toucan the Terrible smiled cruelly and chuckled fearsomely. “Be glad I have use for you, Messenger. Scamper back to Odin and tell him to mind his own pantheon, and Toucan the Terrible will mind his. Tell him to hope that I do not decide I want another pantheon as well. Now begone.”
Ratatosk looked on his former friend Sam in horror. Then he bolted up the trunk of the World Tree, tail twitching the entire way.
Toucan the Terrible laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
|026||Lady in Red||1,693||16||1||3rd||M|
Benjamin "Benny" Factor is not a nice man. He's been a gangster since he was old enough to make his own bad decisions. He began as muscle for pushers, then started dealing himself, and eventually went into moving all kinds of merchandise- chiefly, guns. He was one of the originals to refer to himself as being in "import/ export." That soon became a legitimate claim, just to cover his illegal activities. Underlings wound up running the illegal stuff for him, so he couldn't be connected to anything, and before he knew it, he was a respected businessman, and the cops weren't able to prove jack.
That doesn't mean that his hands were clean. Far from it. His organization- the illegal one- started being harassed by a vigilante known as The Blue Crab. She broke up a handful of important deals with a blue spotlight of a crab claw and a lot of fighting. She dropped off the radar for awhile, but was finally caught by Horace and Harry Fly, when she tried to bust up a weapons deal. They called Mr. Factor in, and Benny put the cap in her himself.
Horace Crabb was shocked when the police showed up at his door, and devastated when they told him that Merilyn was dead. He knew that she was The Blue Crab, but a gunshot? After all the crime she had stopped over the years? After all the things she had seen with The Statesmen? He wondered numbly who they would get to represent Maryland now. Then the weight of realization crashed in on him, and he wondered what the hell he was going to tell the girls. They were only four and five. How do you tell children that their mommy is gone? What was she even doing back in costume? She had only been in remission a few months. He slumped into a chair and buried his face in his hands. The detectives made their condolences and departed.
Merilyn's death ate at Horace for a year. The police were no closer to answers than they were when she was killed, and the girls were only starting to approach normal again. He was fed up. He dragged a footlocker from the closet, fished a key from the top drawer of Merilyn's dresser, and opened it up. He couldn't fit into her costume of course, but he could make use of her spotlight and her mask. He pulled leather motorcycle pants from the closet, along with a bomber jacket with his Zodiac sign on it. A pair of steel toed boots, his riding gloves, and the gun from his nightstand drawer. It was time for some answers. And this is how Cancer was born.
Horace made more waves and did more damage than his wife had done, in a short amount of time, because he was willing to use more violent methods. He rattled Benny's crew. They knew Cancer was someone out for revenge, because he was using The Blue Crab's old spotlight, and he made it known he was looking for her killer. No one dared give Benny Factor up though.
Anger makes a person careless though. He hadn't been at it a year when Cancer was caught and taken to Benny Factor at one of his dockside warehouses. They got on a boat, motored out past the three mile limit, and unmasked the vigilante. Benny capped Horace with his own gun, and tossed both over the side. Police found him washed up on the beach a day later.
Later that night, police showed up at the door, and whisked Annie and Sandy Crabb off to Child Protective Services. A social worker named Terrie, appalled that the officers hadn't told the girls what was going on, found that she now had the unpleasant task of telling these children that their father was dead. Sandy cried, but Annie was numb. She called her sister a crybaby and became angry with the social worker. Terrie let them cry and scream for two hours before they were worn out, and then they were taken to a state orphanage while authorities tried to find next of kin.
The girls were made wards of the state when no relatives were found. This lasted for a couple of years, until a janitor named Jim yelled at Annie for walking across his wet floor with muddy shoes. She scuffed her shoes all over the floor, then kicked the janitor in the shin. He grabbed for her, but she pulled away and kicked him in the other shin. Jim lunged forward, but slipped on the wet floor and fell. On the way down, he hit his head on the corner of the metal wringer of the mop bucket. His neck twisted on the way to the floor, and he didn't move.
Annie grabbed Sandy's hand and ran, and they left the orphanage. Sandy protested, saying they could tell the headmistress that it was an accident, but Annie insisted they had to run. She said they would separate her and Sandy if they knew what happened. So they ran. When they couldn't run anymore, they hid in an alleyway, and at eight and nine years old, this was the beginning of them living on the streets.
They had been living on the streets for four years when Benny caught Sandy trying to lift his wallet. When she tossed Annie his watch he was surprised and impressed, because he hadn't felt it come off of his wrist. Harry caught Annie before she could get away. Benny took his watch and wallet back, but instead of getting angry with the girls, he offered them a meal. Figuring it was better than getting arrested, they nervously accepted.
Benny talked to them while they ate. Like any gangster worth his chops, he had cops on his payroll. He knew that Cancer and The Blue Crab were Horace and Merilyn Crabb. So when he learned Annie and Sandy's names, he connected them as the orphaned children immediately, and had an idea. He offered to take them in, promising they'd never have to live on the streets again, and that they could even learn his business if they wanted. Benny figured it would be sweet revenge to turn his enemies' kids into gangsters. When the girls accepted, he smiled to himself. They'd be turning over in their graves.
Annie knew who Benny was too though. And she also had an idea.
Benny was true to his word, as it served his revenge. He taught the girls everything about his illegal businesses, and they came up much the same way he did. They started as runners for various things, mostly drugs, and they reported to Horace Fly. Although Benny kept a close eye on what he considered his personal project of corrupting these girls.
Annie didn't like Horace Fly. He had the same name as her dad, but he was a jerk. She called him Horse Fly, which he didn't much care for. His brother, Harry, she liked. He was called Harry the House, because he was so big. Sandy pointed out that this would make him House Fly, and Harry thought that was funny. Harry taught the girls how to fight, and Horace taught them how to shoot.
Annie played Benny's game, and she and Sandy kept him close. All the while, Annie kept focused on the memory of her father talking about Benny Factor and his involvement in her mom's death. Sandy still woke up crying over it sometimes, and Annie had called her crybaby so much that the term had become affectionate between them. So much so that Crybaby had become her nickname. She cried at everything- happy moments, sad movies, and even when she was angry. So Annie kept her eyes and ears open, looking for any information she could to prove that her dad was right. She wanted to give her sister a reason to stop crying.
They were not completely unaffected though. Sandy kind of fell into a bodyguard role for Benny, and Annie became one of his most trusted enforcers. Benny considered their corruption complete when they started killing for him. Sandy only killed to defend Benny from attack, but Annie actually carried out hits for him. She became known as The Orphan.
They worked for Benny for ten years before Annie finally ran across the information she had been looking for. Actually, she didn't find it herself. One of Benny's enemies had sent an enforcer of their own named The Mute to steal the contents of his safe. Sandy was stalking her through the halls of the office when The Mute got the drop on her.
Before she could fire, Annie cocked a gun to her head and said, "I've been made an orphan once. I didn't care for it much. Drop the gun." Taking The Mute's weapon and taking back Benny's documents, Annie leafed through them, and found the proof she had been looking for- pictures. The sick son of a... he took pictures. She let The Mute go.
Benny was throwing a party- a charity function for his legitimate businesses. He had to keep up appearances, after all. This was a New Year's Eve party that he hosted every year in his penthouse. It was tradition that he personally set off the fireworks from the roof of the neighboring building. It was there that Annie and Sandy confronted him.
Annie cracked him across the jaw with her gun, and threw the pictures down in front of him. Sandy held him at gunpoint so he didn't try anything. He pleaded. He begged. He bargained. And when none of that worked he became angry. "I've been like a father to you!" he shouted.
Annie looked at him coldly and said, "A father, Benny? I'm an orphan, remember?"
The hope left Benny's face as Annie turned away. He looked up at Sandy again. With fat tears streaming down her face, she looked at him coldly and said, "I wish you could remember this moment as much as I will."
And that was when Benny Factor died.
|025||Villain for Raven Diablo||2,587||10||5||1st||M|
“Xandra, what am I looking at?” asked Raven.
Xandra’s eyes never left the screen, her brow furrowed deeply with concern. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were looking at your own handiwork, but you’ve never been to the area this happened in. Just look though. This woman was strangled with the yellow scarf you see around her neck, and sliced open with a khukuri.” She pointed to a small blade on the floor, at the bottom of the screen and added, “We know that was the weapon used because the killer lost his Karda in the struggle.” Xandra bit her lip briefly. “Raven, this could be a Gurkha.”
“No,” Raven answered. “Gurkhas would never be so sloppy. They’re stealthy like leopards, and agile like mountain goats.” Xandra looked at her strangely. “What? You’ve never read the Nepalese Khukuri House website? Point is, they’d have left with all their weapons. And besides, they don’t bother with strangulation.”
“My impulse would be Thug, but this is something else,” said Raven. “This is someone trying to get my attention.”
“What? Why would you say that?” Xandra asked in surprise.
“The Thugee used scarves called ‘Rumal,’ which means roughly ‘yellow scarf.’ The real color was closer to cream or khaki, but I chose actual yellow because it stands out more. It doesn’t match anything the victim is wearing. So whoever left this yellow scarf around her neck was leaving a message for me. Who is this?” she asked, pointing at the picture.
“That’s Anita Child,” Raven’s friend answered. “She deals in human trafficking, but has never been caught until now. Her specialty is…was kids.”
Raven smiled. “So good riddance.”
“The world’s a better place,” agreed Xandra, “but there’s a problem. We were already in the process of tracking her down, because she was suspected to have two missing children with her. A girl and a boy- Wanda Auf and Willie Cumbach. When we found the body, the kids weren’t with her.”
“Now this guy has my attention. He’s not going to enjoy it though.” Raven smiled diabolically.
“Yeah. I figured that’s what you’d say. You’re going to need some help though. Someone from outside.”
“Who?” asked Raven, and as if in answer, there was a small explosion at the end of the room and a thick puff of black smoke. Raven immediately unsheathed a knife and threw it across the room.
“WHOA!” shouted a voice from the smoke. As it dissipated, there stood revealed an African-American man in a black trenchcoat and tophat, leaning a bit backwards, and still holding Raven’s knife where he caught it in midair. He looked at the women with a raised eyebrow and with slight exasperation in his voice said, “I come in peace.”
Xandra put a hand on Raven’s shoulder. “Raven, this…”
“Oh please,” interjected the man as he crossed the room. “Allow me to introducemyself.” Holding Raven’s knife by the tip and resting the hilt across his other wrist, he offered her knife back to her. Once she took it, he continued, “I am the cat in the hat. I am the technodelic jazz magician. I am the Shaman of the Vegas Vibe. Iam…”
“…Completely full of yourself?” finished Raven.
The man drew his head back a bit and put his hand to his chest in mock umbrage. His thumb and forefinger stroked the silver skull hung around his neck, then he continued, “To quote the late great Nicol Williamson in Excalibur, I am ‘a dream to some…’” then he threw his hands in the air and declared, “‘…a nightmare to others!’” His voice reverberated through the room like thunder, taking even Raven by surprise. He then took a bow, swept the hat from his head to reveal a salt and pepper afro, and standing, added, “I…am Miko the Magnificent.” Nodding to Xandra, he said, “My close friends call me High Hat. You,” he said, looking pointedly at Raven, “can call me Mister Magnificent.”
“Never going to happen,” countered Raven. “Nice trick though,” she conceded.
“Trick?!” Miko gasped, the umbrage real this time. With pursed lips, he pulled the tophat back down over his hair, flicked an eye up and down Raven’s form, snapped the lapels of his coat sharply to settle it back onto his frame properly, and silently turned to the monitor with the picture of the dead abductor.
Over Miko’s shoulder, Xandra looked at Raven with wide eyes and shook her head slightly. Raven shrugged apologetically in return, then put her hands up in front of her, telling Xandra both to be calm and that she would behave. Xandra said, "Miko helped us with the Milwaukee Torso Killer awhile back." She then turned to the monitor and asked, “What can you tell us about this, High Hat?”
His voice all business now, Miko said, “I can tell you that nobody will mourn the departure of this blight on humanity.” Raven smiled at that. “But what’s festered up in her place might make them reconsider.”
Raven’s smile disappeared. “What do you mean,” she asked.
Miko’s eyes flicked to his peripheral for a second, but he didn’t turn to look at her. He answered, “You see that half circle just above the edge of the scarf? Xandra, did your people take any other pictures?”
“Yes,” she answered. Three pictures came up on the screen, revealing the full mark below the scarf. “But we haven’t made heads or tails of them yet.”
“Appropriate phrasing,” offered Miko as he touched the screen to enlarge one of the pictures, “because this…” he spread his fingers from the center of the mark, enlarging that portion of the picture, “is from a coin. Or more accurately, a medallion.” The picture showed the profile of a man, with words to either side, following the edges of the medallion, and a date at the bottom: 1757-1822.
“Medallion?” asked Xandra.
Continuing to stare at the picture, Miko answered, “Yes, the Canova Medallion.”
“The Canova Medallion?” asked Raven.
Miko looked at her this time. “What do you know of it?”
“The Thuggee were rumored to be worshippers of Kali, so I’ve done some reading,” she offered. Miko nodded slightly and waved a hand towards the screen, telling Raven to continue. As she did, he brought up other pictures on the screen, showing what she was telling.
Raven continued, “The Thuggee were killers, and perhaps the earliest version of ‘organized crime.’ A group would disperse along trade routes, sometimes for hundreds of miles, and join bands of travellers a little at a time, until they outnumbered their victims. Once they reached a spot along the route of their own choosing, they’d kill their victims, often by strangulation, hide the bodies, and plunder the spoils. The captured Thug Behram was one of the most notorious, claiming to have been present at nine hundred thirty-one killings. He was quite proficient with his Rumal. He could throw it so that a medallion sewn in its lining would land over the victim’s adams apple, making it easier to strangle them. That medallion was the Canova Medallion. It had the face of the artist – Antonio Canova – on one side, and an image of his statue, The Three Graces, on the other.” She looked at the image on the screen. “This is the side with Canova’s image. Someone wanted us to be sure this was from the Canova Medallion. But is it the original or a copy?”
The magician answered, “It’s impossible to tell, but you’re right. This mark was burned into the flesh. So someone heated the medallion and branded the victim with it. That had to be done after she was killed. So he moved the scarf, branded her, and then put the scarf back in place. Someone wants to point you in a specific direction, but where?”
“I think I have the answer to that,” cut in Xandra. She was working the screen at an adjoining station, and as she tapped keys and images, she said, “The real Canova Medallion is in the collection of a private museum, bought from the family of Thug Behram.”
“So this is a copy then,” concluded Raven. “It could have come from anywhere then.”
“Maybe not,” countered Xandra. “The real medallion has done some travelling, and is currently in a touring exhibit of famous serial killers.”
“And that exhibit is here, in Vegas,” guessed Raven.
“Bingo,” said Xandra, “and no bets on where,” she said as she tapped the screen again. Miko and Raven joined her at the console.
Raven shook her head, “Damn. Sanctum Tartarus. Why is it always Simon Janus?” she complained.
“It might be more than that,” answered Miko.
“More?” Raven looked puzzled.
“I’ll meet you at the exhibit. You take my hat,” he said as he tossed the tophat on her head. He disappeared in another black puff of smoke, and his voice echoed through the room, “Enjoy the ride.”
“Ride?” asked Raven, and then she felt the hat shift on her head. She raised her eyes towards the brim, and before she could say anything else, the hat got wider and bigger, and fell over her head, resting on her shoulders. She grabbed the rim, but it got wider and bigger again, causing her to lose her grip, and it fell to her waist. It shifted once again, got wider and bigger, and fell to the floor.
Xandra hollered, “Raven!” Her eyes got bigger as the hat shrunk down to normal size, then seemed to fold in on itself and disappear. “Raven!” shouted Xandra.
Inside the hat, Raven tumbled over backwards into a dimension of strange images and sounds. Lights flashed, music played, and she felt herself slipping, no longer knowing which direction was which, which way she fell, or if she was even falling at all. A shadow that might have been a man passed close by to her, and she heard a whisper. “Still think it’s just a ‘trick?’”
She was about to scream when a bright light shined through a seeming tear in reality itself, and she landed in a sprawl on the exhibit floor. She took a second to catch her breath, braced her hands on the floor as much to make sure it was real as to push herself up, and then saw a pair of black boots in front of her face. She followed the boots upward to the black jacket, and all the way up to the face of the magician. He reached down with one hand to claim his hat from her head, then offered his other hand to Raven, which she took, and helped her up.
They looked at each other for several moments, before Raven said, “M-Mister Magnificent.”
Miko nodded appreciatively at her, leaned towards her and said, “You can call me High Hat,” before placing the tophat back on his head.
Raven gave an appreciative nod back. “Raven, then. You said something about this being more than Simon Janus?”
“Yes. It’s the owner of the Medallion- the one who normally holds it in a private museum. His name is Ali Indigo.”
“Why does that sound familiar?” asked Raven.
“Probably from your reading,” offered Miko. “The British used the son of Behram to pressure him into becoming a King’s Approver against the Thuggee. The son’s name was Ali, and the East India Company ‘gifted’ him the position of running anIndigo factory, hoping they could pressure him into disclosing the locations of his father’s hidden hordes of plundered treasures.”
“So you think that Ali Indigo has something to do with… High Hat!” Raven was interrupted by a yellow scarf being slung around the magician’s neck. Miko barely had time to throw one hand up in front of the Medallion sewn inside, keeping it from putting the full pressure on his throat.
From behind him, he heard, “Thug Behram, at your service!” The killer pulled tighter on the Rumal, determined to strangle Miko. Raven unsheathed her kukhuri, but Behram warned, “Don’t try it, girl! I will kill him!”
Raven backed off, but Miko reached backwards suddenly and poked his attacker in the eye. The thug screamed and grabbed for his eye, enabling High Hat to get free. The magician immediately ducked, grabbed the edge of his jacket, and swooped it in an arc towards Behram, like a cape. The killer was swallowed completely by the coat just before it dropped back into place. Miko looked pissed. He seemed to stare into nothing as he pulled the scarf from his neck and shoved it in his pocket. Then he spun, flaring the jacket again, and as the coat snapped forward, Behram was ejected from its folds and thrown across the room into a display.
Raven Diablo looked at the magician fearfully. The things she could learn from this man. She then crossed the distance between her and the killer swiftly, putting her kukhuri to his neck and demanding, “Who are you? And don’t say ‘Behram,’ because that’s not possible! You would be…”
“Almost two hundred fifty years old,” answered the Thug. Raven looked shocked. “Yes, it’s true. If you can’t believe who I say I am though, you may simply call me Phansigar. I took a vow of silence when British justice betrayed me, but not before I made a deal with a devil I knew from Persia.” His eyes narrowed cruelly as he looked into Raven’s eyes. “Sholeh Kaviani sends her regards.”
Raven wasn’t expecting to hear that name, but she was startled enough that she jerked backwards from the Thug a few steps. He did not miss the opportunity. Although he had been resting on his elbows, from his fallen position, his powerful arms pushed off of the ground, and he lunged forward, a kick to Raven’s gut sending her sprawling backwards. Jumping to his feet, he laughed. “She was right! This is a thrill!”
High Hat took a step towards the killer, but stopped when he saw what the killer took from his pocket. It was his Rumal. It was Miko’s turn to be startled. How had he gotten that from his pocket, while he was in the coat?
“Don’t look so bewildered, mage! I told you I made a deal with a devil! And she has powerful magicks of her own! Besides, I am Thug! As much thief as murderer! Pickpocketing is easy for one such as I- even from one such as you. Bah-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!” With that, he unfurled his Rumal, spun it around his head and let it fall around him. As it did so, he disappeared completely, just in time to avoid Raven’s khukuri, which embedded in the display case behind where he had been standing. Only the echo of his laughter remained, and the fading words of a warning. “You will hear from Phansigar again, Raven Diablo!”
Raven looked at the pile of debris that was the ruined display case, and exhaled sharply. “This…is not good,” she said finally.
“You’re telling me,” said High Hat. “I hope he didn’t get anything else from mypockets!” Raven looked at him quizzically. Miko just said, “That…would not be good. Tell Xandra I’ll be in touch.”
“Wait!” called Raven, but Miko had already flared his jacket, spun, and disappeared in a cloud of black smoke.
A voice echoed, “It was good meeting you, Raven,” and then faded from the room.
Raven smiled at nothing, but answered, “You too, High Hat.” She took one more look around, and headed for the exit. She needed to go see Sholeh Kaviani about two children.
Thanks for stopping in, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my entries. Participate in the next Character Creation Contest- we always love having another writer compete! -cb :^D
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