5th Column Comics Library

WELCOME TO THE 5TH COLUMN COMICS LIBRARY

A year ago, Indigo City was ravaged by a mysterious explosion that released a blue gas, spawning both a brief "Blight" zombie invasion and a new race of superpowered humans known as "Carriers." What was the blue gas? Where did it come from? How will the populace react to this new carrier race? How will the carriers adapt to their new lives? and most importantly: What comes next? You'll have to read to find out. Welcome to 5th Column Comics. (description courtesy of dngn4774)
If you are interested in joining the 5CC group, please contact @dngn4774. -cb
by The_Deathstroker (aka Alexander_Wolffe).0..1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.

by Batkevin74.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8.Ended

Crossroads (logo to follow)
by Batkevin74.1..2.

by Knightofthechronicle.1..2..3..4..5.

by Batkevin74.1 (one-shot).

by ImpurestCheese.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9.

by Dngn4774.0..1..2.--

Indigo City Council (logo to follow)
by Batkevin74.1..2.Ended?

Inkcap (logo to follow)
by ImpurestCheese.1..2.--

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by Joshmightbe.Prologue..1..2..3..4.

by Johnjo719.1..2..3..4..5.

Loser (logo to follow)
by Delphic.1.--

Mrs. Heisler and the 5 Children of Fury (logo to follow)
by Batkevin74.0..1.Ended?

by Batkevin74.1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..10.Ended?

by TommytheHitman.0..1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9.
-.10..11..12..13..14..15..16.---

5CC Related:
Title:By:Related how?
Onca: Warrior of Xibalba #5ImpurestCheeseMentions a Heatseeker cartoon
Survival of the Fittest #1ImpurestCheeseMentions Clive Anderson
Mv. May. S2- New Thunderbolts #3ImpurestCheeseMentions The Quoll

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75 Comments

12-Month Trades #8: "James Bond Jr"

#DateWelcome to 12-MT #8:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
807/29/14James Bond Jr(Blog) (Forum)James Bond, Jr. (1992)(Back) (Next)

I think we all have a favorite title we'd like to see in trade paperbacks. Here's a series I'd like to see:

Proposed Title:James Bond Jr
Collecting 12 Issues:James Bond Jr #1-12
Covers: (click to enlarge)
TPB Cover: James Bond Jr #1

James Bond Jr was a twelve issue series by Marvel, based on the 1991 animated series of the same name. Very oddly, Junior is the nephew of 007, not the son, but what he lacks in familial connection, he more than makes up for in gadgets (many of which are in his watch) and villains with funny names, like Walker D. Plank, Ms. Fortune and Goldie Finger.

Some of the Bond girls from the cartoon included Lotta Dinaro, Terri Firma, Wendy Day and Ruby Slippers. I love a good wordplay (or awful, depending on your point of view) so I loved the cartoon just for names like that.

Why should it get a trade paperback? Because it's James Bond! ...Okay, James Bond Jr, but c'mon, for the die-hard Bond fans out there, they might well be interested in this too- for their kids, if not for themselves. Bottom line on this one: it will make money.

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

2 Comments

CCC #28 - Voting Thread

Captain Marvel Bunny (aka Hoppy)

Character Creation Contest #28 is down and done, and now we're on to the voting fun! I cannot praise you folks enough. You wrote some fantastic stories, and I had a blast reading all of them!

This time around, the contestants had to create a villain for Captain Marvel Bunny, and the rules were simple:

  • You must create at least one OC villain for Captain Marvel Bunny.
  • As always, NAME that original character.
  • Absolutely NO HUMAN characters! ALL ANIMALS!
  • And PLEASE, keep it light-ish. Have fun with this one.
  • No word limit.

Voting deadline is July 31st at 4pm GMT (so 12pm EST). And remember:

  • Please read the entries and vote for the story/villain you liked best.
  • One vote per voter.
  • No voting for yourself (it just isn't sporting, chaps).

Again, folks, these entries were fantastic! So let's get to them. In order posted:

Batkevin74:

“My…name…is…Baron…Tomeo…Largo.”

Hoppy looked at the turtle carrying the swag of cash exiting the bank and folded his arms. “So?”

Baron Largo smiled “You…think...I…am…not…a…”

“Threat!” Hoppy interrupted. “You talk like molasses! All slow and…”

“Steady.”

Hoppy looked at the turtle, the wisdom of Salamander not really helping him against this ridiculously slow villain. Hoppy cracked his knuckles and reached out to grab Largo, when Largo’s hand came up and parried it away. It wasn’t fast; it was tai-chi-like.

“What the?” Hoppy wondered how on earth he missed.

“I…wear…the…cream…colour…of…a…t”

“STOP TALKING!” yelled Hoppy as he jumped up and down on the spot in frustration. “Your voice is SO annoying, with that weird Southern drawl!”

Baron Largo chuckled and slowly, very slowly began walking off down the steps of the Fawcett City Bank. Hoppy did a double take and the speed of Monkury, which was kinda overkill, flew in front of him.

“Not so…slowly.” Hoppy wondered if he was going mad “Now drop the cash and we’ll head off to jail.”

Baron Largo raised a hand to his gnarled chin and stroked it; the sound like two granite rocks being rubbed together. Hoppy shuddered at the horrid sound and lashed out to grab him, but again the super slowness of Largo blocked every single grab.

“HOW DO YOU DO THAT?” screamed the magical rabbit.

“Super…slowness…” Baron Largo winked and meandered off. Hoppy watched in disbelief as the turtle in the cream jumpsuit holding a bag with a dollar sign on it, very slowly got away.

“C’mon rabbit, think!” He tried to tap into the wisdom of Salamander but the sight of the turtle ambling off mad his blood boil which counteracts any and all wisdom. “STOP!”

Hoppy flew right at Baron Largo hoping to crash tackle him with the strength of Hogules but the turtle turned and at the pace of a snail sidestepped the attack. Hoppy ploughed heavily into the granite steps like a missile. With stars and tweety birds circling his head, Hoppy tried to shake his head clear as Largo stood over him.

“We…are…natural…enemies.” Largo breathed as he drew a handheld blunderbuss from his belt “I…am…the…predator…and…you…are…the,”

“NOW HANG ON A MINUTE!” Hoppy exploded out of the stairs and into the air “Rabbits and reptiles are not natural enemies! You’re crazy! You’re seriously crazy! The tortoise and the hare is a FAIRY TALE! And besides, I’m a RABBIT and you’re a TURTLE! THAT I HAVEN’T MET, UNTIL RIGHT NOW!”

Baron Tomeo Largo ran his tongue across his pencil thin lips which took about three minutes before speaking “You…make…an…interesting…point.”

Hoppy sighed and glided in towards Largo. “So drop the money and let’s take you to jail.”

The turtle smiled and pulled the trigger “No.”

**

Hoppy came to. He was wedged in the bank wall like…well a super powered rabbit who’d been hit by a cannon at close range.

“WHERE IS HE?” He roared as he exploded out of the wall and up into the air.

An orangutan police officer rolled his eyes and held up a note above his head, waving it back and forth until Hoppy finally flew down. The rabbit landed beside him and sheepishly took the note.

-Marvellous…Hoppy;

Today…you…have…met…your…nemesis. And…his…name…is…Baron…Tomeo…Largo.

Next…time…you…won’t…be…so…lucky-

“He wrote in the ellipses!” remarked Hoppy as he handed back the note as he rubbed his forehead in confusion.

“I know,” said the officer “Took me a while to read too!”

Hoppy looked around, slightly unnerved by the fact he’d been easily trounced by a turtle who moved slower than drying paint dressed in an offwhite onesie.

ImpurestCheese:

The Grievances of the Hammer-Hand Shark

Construction Site, Cub City - 28/07/11

"Ah." The massive anthropomorphic shark sighed as he locked up the site office. "The end to an honest days work." He added as he waddled to the gate. Reaching halfway he suddenly caught site of a humanoid snow leopard, dressed only in a black bustier and bracelets, leap over the fence and towards the scaffolding.

"You'll never stop me Marvel Bunny." The leopard purred as a rabbit dressed in red with a thunderbolt on his chest, not to mention a cape flapping in the breeze flew towards her.

"Snow Leopardess, your criminal cat capers end here!" Marvel Bunny boomed. "Hand over the Diamond Eyes of Onca and the courts will be lenient."

"If you want it Bunny, come and claim it." The Leopardess purred before leaping up to a hanging girder, and slashing through the support cable. Whistling as it fell the girder never reached the ground as a fist, propelled with 'the strength of Hercules', slammed into the steel beam, it's flight hitting a fuel tanker parked at the base of the structure.

"Oh cra..." The shark swore as the building exploded in a flash of orange, the resulting fireball swallowing the battling super-creatures and the unfortunate bystander, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

**

St Solomon Skink's Memorial Veterinary Practise, Cub City - 06/09/11

"We'll me right back with your test results Mr. Asalis." The vixen wearing an incredibly tight nurses uniform stated as she walked out the door. Stretching his arms Mr Asalis, Rod to his friends, looked at the burnt skin that covered 90% of his body. The explosion at the Construction Site had done little damage to Marvel Bunny or the Snow Leopardess but had effectively ended his career after eight long years of dedicated service.

Wallowing in his self pity Rod was shocked out of his misery as the door smashed open and a rust red man sized bed-bug wearing a cape and fuel tank smacked into the chair, the force of the impact sending the bystander sprawling to the floor.

"Finally ze reserves of ze blood plasma are in the claws of ze Bat Bug." The insectile villain snickered. "Now not even le Lapain Marveloux can stop me." Rod looked around, a confused look etched on his face, save for the Bat Bug and himself the only other person in the room was a scrawny kitten of a rabbit. Seconds later he saw the Bat Bug fire a stream of burning plasma at the rabbit, the noise of the firing drowned out by a crack of lightning and one room shaking word. ''SHAZAM!!"

As the noise faded Rod watched what happen as if they were occurring in slow motion, the plasma jet deflected off the newly arrived Marvel Bunny and splashed over the Shark's hand. With a howl of pain Rod watched as his hand melted before blacking out, the pair of super-powered adversaries battling on oblivious to his fate.

**

Undisclosed Location, 29/09/11

"It's not like I don't have a problem with the guy fighting super criminals," Rod grunted as the table rotated into a horizontal position, "I just wish he would be more careful."

"And that is why you sought me out?" A figure seated in a lab chair said in a shrill grating voice.

"Yeah." Rod replied, "I went to Weasel, Vulture and Adder: Partners in Law in order to take legal action against him, but just like that the Sheltopusik Supreme and the forces of Superior Natural Assault Kommando and Execution Unit attacked the finance district. Guess who rescued them forcing them to drop the case?"

"How are your new enhancements?" The shrill voiced creature asked as the straps unsealed from around his wrists.

"Makes me feel like I'm stronger then ever." Rod announced as he cradled the hammer grafted to the stump where his missing hand had been. "Next time that stupid rabbit gets out of line I'll pound some sense into him."

"And what name have you chosen for yourself?" The figure seated in the chair asked as he checked the readout from the monitor screens on the back wall.

"Me?" Rod asked. "I'm the Hammer-Hand Shark, the man sent to deal with that rabbit's lack of respect for the non super-powered people of this city. I mean you would think with the 'Wisdom of Solomon' he would think about the fate of the people caught up in his super brawls."

"Another time Mr Asalis. Your personal grievances can wait for another time, as we speak that 'big cheese' is out there unchecked."

"Sure Doc, now what are you getting out of this again?" Rod asked.

"I Dr Shrewnerva get to plan my revenge." The small rat like figure squeaked as he rubbed his hands in an evil gesture. "And end him once and for all."

Wildvine:

Marvel Bunny awoke to the sound of two strange voices, speaking with an unknown accent. His body was stif and sore, he felt like he had gone ten rounds with Elequake, that hulking elephant villain. His head was pounding, the pain intensefying everytime he tried to think. He opened his sleep crusted eyes with an almost audible creaking sound. The sight made his head hurt more. He was in some kind of glass container, the bright lights of the room beyond were like daggers to his eyes.

"Fascinating." One voice squeaked excitedly. "How did Mr Piecemeal find the specimen I wonder?" His voice took on a hungry tone, and Marvel Bunny could almost hear the speaker licking his lips.

"That's not a wise question to ask Dr Helsmou. Mr Piecemeal as you know is a collector of the rare and exotic. Where he finds his treasures are strictly private matters." This voice was obviously female, and a little annoyed if Marvel Bunny was any judge. "Are the items levels of Seerotox high enough? It is a meta animal with reportedly high stamina."

Its was Helmou's turn to sound superior. Or rather he tried to. "My dear Mrs Slifaux, I have studied meta-physiology for years." Someone patted the side of the glass container, the sound sending daggers of pain through Marvel Bunny's head. "The specimen could not be more sedated if he ws dead and frozen. he won't wake up unless we want him to."

Marvel Bunny had heard enough. Thrusting out both hands, taunt muscles screaming as they flexed, he pushed out, knocking the glass door away with a crash, followed by a gasp and a surprised squeal. He pulled himself from the container, ripping tubes and wires from his body as he did, gradually feeling less like a big bruise and more like the hero of Animalville. "Where am I?" he asked, surpressing a groan as he staggered from the container.

"Can I assume you wanted him awake?" Slifaux sneered. She was tall and slim, her suit was tailored not jusy for her form, but for her long slilky fox tail as well. She was speaking to Helmou, but her eyes never left Marvel Bunny. Helmou, a small mouse in a labcoat was backed up against a wall, his mouth moving but no sound coming out.

"I think.." Marvel Bunny began, before falling to one knee weakly. Whatever they had given him was still working. "I think there has been some... mistake here... and I want to know what's going on now..." Before anyone can answer something large and black flew into the room and slammed itself into Marvel Bunny.

"Tekh-Crow! What took you so long?" Helmou sputtered, having finally found his voice again.

"I do not wait outside the door for you to perform blunders. I have other obligations to fulfill." The huge crow snapped. He had pinned Cap Marvel's arms with his talons, beating him with wings like slabs of steel. "Maybe you want to sedate him sometime soon?" Tekh-Crow grunted just as Marvel Bunny struggled one arm free and landed a thunderous punch to the side of the crows beak, knocking him to one side.

"Bring the specimen under control or it will be all our heads." Slifaux said said shrilly, her cool demeaner having worn off a bit.

"Who are you--" Marvel Bunny was cut off as Tekh-Crow wrapped one talon foot around his throat. The combination of drugs and excertion were taking their toll on Marvel Bunny, and the room began to spin.

"Hold him still." Helmou said, edging close, a large needle on one small hand. "Soon this will just be a dream Mr Bunny. Just an unpleasant dream."

Weak, disoriented, need a way out...

"SHAZAM!" Marvel Bunny yelled, causing a bolt of magic to hit him and Tekh-Crow. The huge bird was stunned by the bolt, and Marvel Bunny shoves him aside. He briefly noticed he hadn't reverted to his normal form before leaping through a window. The city before him is completely unknown to him. Sprawled out as far as the eye can see, and reaching up to rake at the sky. Buildings bunched together, broken streets, pollution and dirty skies.

It was as far from Animalville as another planet would be. Marvel Bunny flew down into a narrow ally, grabbing a trench coat off a clothes line on the way down to disguise himself. Picking up part of a newspaper from a pile of trash, he squinted his eyes as he saw the date near the top of the page.

July 16, 2099

Cbishop:

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."

!!!...Sorry, Hoppy.

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

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.

Earth-8311:

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 you, too!"

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

"I'm Captain Marvel Bunny."

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

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

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

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

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

"Ahem."

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.

Just Right of Albuquerque:

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

"What in the world?" asked The Captain.

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

"Excuse me?" asked Captain Marvel Bunny.

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

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

The World Tree:

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.

Hope you got as many smiles and laughs out of this as I did! Don't forget to vote! :)

56 Comments

Would U Buy It #94: "Batman Family: Secret Origins"

#DateWelcome to WUBI # 94:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
9407/15/14Batman Family: Secret Origins(Blog) (Forum)Secret Origins (1986)(Back) (Next)

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Batman Family: Secret Origins.
Alternate Title:Secret Origins of the Batman Family
Collecting 8 Issues:
  • Secret Origins (1986) #6, 13, 15, 20, 26, 36, 44
  • Secret Origins Special #1
Covers: (click to enlarge)
TPB Cover: Secret Origins Special #1

I am a huge fan of the Origin Story. Who doesn't like to know how a hero or villain got their start? Since DC has released a new Secret Origins title for the New 52, this would be a good time for them to capitalize on their previous title from 1986, which ran for fifty issues, plus three annuals and one special.

This series is good for a number of trade paperbacks, and the best way to start off any DC series is to pull out one of the big guns to get the buyers' attention. For that, who better than Batman? Why, the entire Batman Family, of course!

From the eight issues selected, we're pulling the Bat, his allies, his villains, and a couple of his original team from the 1983 series, Batman and the Outsiders. So we're getting Batman, Halo, Nightwing, Deadman, Batgirl, Black Lightning, Poison Ivy, The Mud Pack (Clayfaces I, II and III), Riddler, Penguin and Two-Face! That's thirteen origins in one fine trade paperback!

For the title, I went with Batman Family: Secret Origins, just to again try to preserve the rights to DC's Batman Family title. For the cover, I'm tempted to suggest issue 44, but I've already suggested that as the cover of Batman: The Mud Pack. So out of all the other issues, the only one that's completely dedicated to Batman and Family is Secret Origins Special #1. I'm not completely happy with that one though, because it shows three villains, and only a shadow of Batman. An original cover may be needed for this trade.

Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

2 Comments

Character Creation Contest #28 (7/3/14)

Hoppy, aka Captain Marvel Bunny

Alright folks, I'm a little burned out on the all-powerful evil sods, world saving super bodybuilders, and bloody gunplay, so now for something a little bit lighter.

Meet Hoppy, aka Captain Marvel Bunny. When he says the magic word he receives all of the Marvel Family powers: wisdom, strength, stamina, power, courage and speed. We all pretty much know the powers of Captain Marvel, which is why I chose this funny animal out of all the ones I could have chosen.

Basically folks, I just wanted to see everyone write something different. So the challenge? You guessed it: create at least one new villain for Captain Marvel Bunny! Beyond that, you can use any existing funny animal heroes and villains that you wish- DC or not (but that's not required).

What is required (aka The Rules):

  • You must create at least one OC villain for Captain Marvel Bunny.
  • As always, NAME that original character.
  • Absolutely NO HUMAN characters! ALL ANIMALS!
  • And PLEASE, keep it light-ish. Have fun with this one.
  • No word limit.

DEADLINE is Thursday, July 17th at 4pm GMT (so 12pm EST). If you don't know GMT, Google "what is GMT now," and Google will show you.

25 Comments

Would U Buy It #93: "Wolfpack"

#DateWelcome to WUBI # ?Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
9306/18/14Wolfpack(Blog) (Forum)Wolfpack (1988)(Back) (Next)

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Wolfpack.
Alternate Title:Wolfpack Classic
Collecting 14 Issues:
  • Marvel Graphic Novel #31
  • Wolfpack #1-12
  • Marvel Comics Presents #11 (Slag story only)
Covers: (click to enlarge)
TPB Cover: Marvel Graphic Novel #31

Hailing from 1987, I think that Wolfpack is one of those embarrassments of the time, but one that's probably remembered fondly by far more than are willing to admit it. Why? Because it was different, and in the 1980's, I think that fandom as a whole, though in love with superheroes, was rabid for new ideas. Although, to be fair, for Marvel, this wasn't a completely new idea.

In August of 1987, when Marvel Graphic Novel #31 was realeased, a then-hit mini-series, Fallen Angels, was just starting the latter half of its run. The problem is that what made Fallen Angels a hit wasn't that they were living like a street gang, it's that it was a team of misfit mutants that was headlined by some of the wildly popular New Mutants, and filled out by Devil Dinosaur and a few unknowns, including the keeper of two mutant lobsters.

This...is in no way...that. It was a group of misfits, and they were living like a street gang...but that's where the similarities end. I think the initial popularity of Wolfpack may have been buoyed by Fallen Angels, because fans were maybe expecting something similar. I mean, come on, it's superhero-laden Marvel Comics. With a cool name like "Wolfpack," wouldn't you expect them to break out with super powers at some point? Someone at Dark Horse must have thought about that when they created Wolf Gang for Comics' Greatest World, and obviously someone at Milestone recognized the potential in a super gang when they created Blood Syndicate. So why wouldn't Marvel turn this cool name into a super team?

Well... it didn't happen.

Have no doubt, Larry Hama is a fantastic writer, and this isn't his first foray into non-powered and/or street level characters. He's written GI Joe, Elektra, Wolverine, Punisher, Warlord, and Conan to name a handful. Here though...I'm not sure why this one failed. Yeah, they're a street gang without any real powers, even if they do have abilities- martial arts, stealth, strength (not super strength, just strength), speed (not super speed, just speed) and smarts (not super smarts, just...ah, you get it by now).

However, Hama did try to inject some of the fantastic into it (and would it be a comic if he didn't?). The Wolfpack were just the latest in a long line of packs brought together to stand against The Nine...an ancient cult whose current plans are centered in...The Bronx. And only a group of misfit street kids can save us. ...Yeah, what went wrong?

It was perhaps a bit overly preachy. After all, we can't have readers deciding that street gang life would be cool. You could do drugs and wind up shot. Oooo, bad! Nevermind that street life was popular movie culture at the time, with breakdancing movies like Breakin' (1984), Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984), and Krush Groove (1985). Rap- seen as street music that made it big, at the time- was at a high point of its popularity, so when you factor in all of the urban stuff being focused on in popular culture at the time, Wolfpack was just something trying to ride a trend.

Still, I remember it as being a fun ride. A trade paperback of this series might be nothing more than pure nostalgia, but isn't that okay sometimes?

Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

2 Comments

CCC Entries by cbishop, Part 2

Intro:
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:

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CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
033Villain For Batman1,8834??T

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.

.

CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
032OC vs Payno's Blue Samurai Guy2,9782131stT

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 nothere, Special Agent Salt.”

Looking up at her new partner, Crystal raised an eyebrow and asked, “We weresent 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 saysSecret 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 arehonorable, 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 favorare 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 thiscreature 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 didgive 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 getthis?”

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.

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CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
031Mariner vs. Ocean Terror OC7482413rdT

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.”

Manjaro 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 on cue, a giant beast rose out of the water, it’s long 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?” asked Manjaro, clearly in awe.

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

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CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
030Marvel Mayhem OC1,3181422ndT

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.”

“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

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.

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.”

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 ‘cutthroatbusinessman,’ 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?”

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 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.

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.”

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 entrance."

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CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
029Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles833522ndE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Jensen!" snapped the agent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Ninja?" asked Gyrich.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry looked at Jensen blankly, then nodded. Putting his shades back on, he glanced again at the Topiaries. Just before he headed for the door, he looked at the rat and said, "Do it."

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CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
028Villain For Captain Marvel Bunny1,5651622ndE

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."

!!!...Sorry, Hoppy.

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

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.

Earth-8311:

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 you, too!"

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

"I'm Captain Marvel Bunny."

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

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

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

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

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

"Ahem."

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.

Just Right of Albuquerque:

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

"What in the world?" asked The Captain.

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

"Excuse me?" asked Captain Marvel Bunny.

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

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

The World Tree:

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.

.

CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
027Mayan Underworld OC986941stT

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.

.

CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
026Lady in Red1,6931613rdM

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.

.

CCCThemeWordcountNew OCVotesRankingRating
025Villain for Raven Diablo2,5871051stM
"Xandra, what am I looking at?"

“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.”

“Then who...”

“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.

"I... am Miko the Magnificent."

“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.

"The Thuggee were killers, and perhaps the earliest version of 'organized crime.' ..."
"The captured Thug Behram was one of the most notorious..."

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 real Canova Medallion is in the collection of a private museum..."

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.

"Why is it always Simon Janus?"

“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.

"You can call me High Hat."

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.

"Thug Behram, at your service!"

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…”

"Sholeh Kaviani sends her regards."

“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.

The End...for now

“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

Read the...Fan-Fic Disclaimer for cbishop

Thanks for stopping in! :^D

2 Comments

CCC #26 - Voting Thread

Lady in Red, by Cintia

Well, folks, here we are, another contest come and gone. The rules were simple- write the picture, and use the line "I wish you could remember this as much as I will" in the story.

We got a few entries, and once again, I found myself posting at the very last minute. It was great to see Delphic enter this time! A regular to the Fan-Fic forum, but new to the CCC, Delphic came in with a strong entry. He's going to give us all a run for our money!

I'm anxious to see how the vote goes, because win, lose or draw, someone else is hosting CCC #27! lol I'm excited! (And I'm ready for the break!)

So without further ado, please read over the four entries, and vote for the one you liked best. Deadline for votes is one week this time- June 9th @4pm GMT (so 12pm EST for my own reference). Two weeks really dragged out last time. One vote per voter. Remember: if you wrote, you should vote! But no voting for yourself. ;)

-cb

Here's the entries, in order posted:

ImpurestCheese:

Danika Sedova: Bounty Hunter Babe

Thaliana Broadcasting Studios, Los Angeles, California

“I wish you could remember this as much as I will…” The platinum blonde holding the revolver purred, “…but I'm afraid that you be doing all your thinking in Country for the next ten to life.” She stated as her sidekick, a short man with a fish hook through his lip handcuffed the blonde man lying unconscious on the floor.

“Turn that off will you.” A voice groaned as the credits rolled over the image of the blonde escorting the man outside to the waiting police car. Turning to look down the table, the scrawny man wearing aviators with purple lenses and a business suit removed a cigar from his jacket pocket, lit it and took a deep breath. “Danika darling I love the show but your ratings are down, people like when you're hunting down criminals but you make it look too easy.”

“What do you mean?” The blonde haired woman at the end of the table asked in a Ukrainian accent as she smoothed out the crop-top she wore, the front emblazoned with the logo ‘Danika Sedova: Bounty Hunter Babe’. “You told me ratings were good Mr. Mc Kellum yes?”

“They have been better, have you thought about appealing to the ‘Avengers Generation?” Mc Kellum suggested as he looked over the assorted people sitting at the table.

“I am not wearing anything more skimpy then I already do on air.” Danika hissed. “And I’m not going to start call myself something like Huntress or Blond Bombshell.”

“I don't know I like the sound of Fishook.” The man with the hook in his lip stated as he ran thick fingers over his bald head. “And Tabby could be Gimble while Maurice could be Chaser.”

“No Brian I will not be some kind of show pony for the teenage demographic. I started this show to reassure the public that somebody could reach the criminals the law couldn’t. You now have me chasing after bail jumpers and jaywalkers, I need a challenge.”

“Babe listen your big now, plus you're good looking. “ Mc Kellum told her. “We're not going to risk sending you after the bad guys, there is a certain profit we get from you looking like a supermodel.” As he finished his words were met by the scrape of chair legs as Danika and her film crew got to their feet. “Where are you going babe?”

“We've just decided to go independent.” Danika purred. “You remember my escape clause in the contract I signed for Thaliana Broadcasting, well I'm invoking it unless you can find me a better class of criminal to hunt.”

“Not going to happen babe. Without us your revenue dries up. I give it a week and you'll be crawling back to old Mckellum for your spotlight back.” Mckellum snorted as Danika left the office. “Dames all alike.” He said as he coughed on the cigar before turning the TV back on. “Nice rack though.” He commented as Danika turned and blew a kiss to the camera at the end of the credits.

**

Casa Sedova, Beverly Hills, California

Danika poured herself an iced tea as she sat by the side of the pool at her Beverly Hills estate. While she loved the house she hated what it represented, and while she had no idea what the rest of her crew felt about what had happened she was glad they had gone with her. Between Brian ‘the Hook’ Baldwin, her underworld contact, Tabitha Taylor, her camera woman, and Maurice Cartier, her expert getaway and pursuit driver, they were a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately Hollywood didn't see it that way.

“Hey Danika you've got a visitor.” Tabby yelled from the kitchen. “It’s the man from Texas we met a while back.” She added as a well built man wearing a pair of jeans and a leather jerkin walked in.

“Well if it isn't the little girl from the frontier.” The man sneered.

“Huh takes a walking scarecrow to know one.” Danika hissed as she got to her feet and met the man half way across the floor, the pair of them bumping fists. “You look awful Kenneth.”

“And you look like you've been enjoying the weather too much.” Ken replied as the pair sat at the ornate metal work table beside the pool. “Been catching up on the re-runs by the way. Don't tell me you're happy being eye candy for some studio executive.”

“I never was but up until recently I thought I was doing a public good.” Danika sighed. “Still what have you been up to? Still the nightmare of the cartels down on the border?”

“No, I’ve been in a chemically induced coma for the last few weeks.” Ken answered before removing a box and sliding it across the table to Danika. “Take a look at this; they pulled it out of me. Apparently everyone else died from the toxicity of the weapon but you know what they say.”

“You can't bulls**t a bulls****r.” Danika purred. “What does this have to do with me?”

“I need help; I'm man enough to admit it especially after being out of the game for a while.” Ken answered. “And you, despite what the jealous types are saying, are the best in the business.”

“What’s the profit margin?” Danika asked. “And what do we know about this guy?”

“Girl, the shooter is female.” Ken announced. “We don't know much, but from the E-Fit El Paso Police Department is circulating we know she’s Asian and in her mid to late twenties. As for the reward; the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Aviation Authority. EPPD, FBI and Homeland Security are offering a million each, either for her capture or corpse.”

“And you’re really chasing down this woman?” Danika asked as she removed a black crossbow bolt from the book Ken had given her. “This is crazy even for you Zimmermann.”

“I know what that means.” Ken said with a wide smile as he took

Remove his hip flask from his belt “To partnership.” He toasted as Danika broke the bolt in two.

“And to breaking the woman whose death is our next pay check.” Danika added as she clinked her glass against Ken’s flask. “Now let’s go hunting.”

Batkevin74

Larry looked at the placard. His face said what words couldn’t express. “I don’t get it?”

“What’s not to get?” Darren crossed his arms defensively; face contracting like he’d just eaten a chilli lemon. “It’s pretty self explanatory.”

Larry’s eye shifted from the picture to his designer and back again as if it was a ping pong match. “You’ll need legal to clear it.”

“Why?”

“Because,” Larry rubbed his moustache “She looks like Jessica Rabbit. Either that or Betty Boo?”

“She does not?” Darren huffed.

“If I say she looks like Betty Rabbit, then she LOOKS LIKE BETTY RABBIT!”

Darren paused, step forward gingerly “It’s Jessica Rabbit, not…”

“I DON’T CARE!” roared Larry making the office shake. “Now explain it to me.”

Darren adjusted his tie and gestured for his boss to take a seat. He’d been working for Larry for eight years now and nearly every presentation had the same circus attached; it was like a game but one Darren had grown tired of very quickly. He grabbed the placard and set it back on the easel.

“This is for our client Hubel & Wiesel trying to increase market share in…”

“Neurotic plasticine” Larry added looking pleased with himself.

Darren groaned, if this was a sitcom the canned laughter would’ve erupted…but it wasn’t a sitcom. “Neuroplasticity.”

“That’s what I said, neuro-plastic-city.”

Darren often wondered how Larry was a partner in the firm with his name on the door, probably because McMann was a very hands off partner. “Neuroplasticity. They have invented a game that helps with brain training, like a workout.”

Larry smiled “And you have a woman with a gun because…”

“Sex sells. A desirable woman of mixed origin to catch the widest demographic of males but holding a gun showing women a capable of doing men things so hits a wide area on gender and ethnicity.”

“Okay, but the slogan?”

“I wish you remember this moment as much as I will.” Darren tapped the speech bubble “Written in red, like the dress to catch the eye inspires and signifies passion. A longer phrase than some of the snappier fast food phrases…”

“I’m loving it!” chuckled Larry.

“But market research indicates products with red in their logos sell better. Because it’s also an educational game you’ll notice the swirl in the bottom corner.” Darren pointed to it, “It’s actually a stylised QR Code that’ll launch smart phones directly to their website.”

“You’re a wizard!”

“You’re thinking of my wife,” Darren smiled cheekily “The woman, who is named Avabella, which were two of the top names in 08 mashed to create a new name which tested through the roof with focus groups of teens who will be naming their kids that especially in the African-American and Latino communities.”

Larry stood up applauding “Great job!”

“I haven’t finished,” said Darren as Larry slowly stopped his ovation before slinking back into his seat. Darren waited until he was seated and then a few seconds longer before continuing “We’re also working with Stella McCartney who’ll produce a range of Avabella dresses because smart girls need to dress smart and be sexy, a portion of sale going to some animal sanctuary she likes along with a sizeable donation to John Hopkins Neurology which raises their karma credit in the eyes of the public.”

“Good things,” said Larry not with any insight just because he felt he need to say something as Darren steamrolled along.

“We’ve started a Twitter account for Avabella run by the PR department of Hubel & Wiesel and she’s killing it and on target to being in the top 100 of most followed people by Christmas.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about but I LOVE IT!” Larry exclaimed as he got up from his chair. “I’ll bring them in. Do what you did just now for them.”

Larry bolted from the room. Darren rubbed his forehead and looked up to the corner of the room to see an old woman in flowing purple and green looking down on him.

“Derwood,” she sneered as she floated to the floor.

“What do you want, you old witch?” he snarled as his hand went to his pocket.

“To see my daughter and grandchildren!”

Darren sneered as he pulled out a locket from his jacket pocket and dangled it watching her recoil in horror. “You can see them when I say you can see them,” he sneered “Now get out of here before I do to you what I did to that idiot Bombay.”

In a puff of smoke accompanied by the sound of a kicked harp, she was gone. Darren smiled and put the locket back safely.

“You $%#^d with the wrong mortal Endora.”

Delphic:

Remembrance

Life was such a peculiar thing. No matter where you go people always seem to look at it differently. Some see life through rose colored glasses, where everything is made up of sunshine and rainbows. Others see life through the grime colored spyglass of cynicism, always itching for that next horrible thing to happen. What about about a man who saw life completely different from every other human being on the planet? A man who had always lived his life seeing things that others could not. Feeling what they could not. There was once such a man, and his name was Jack Spade.

It was a hot day, and despite all the open windows, and the electric fan blowing in the corner of the room it seemed like there was no rest from the hellish heat of the summer. Jack sat behind his desk, loosened his tie, and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. Sweat poured from his brow, so Jack took the already damp handkerchief he held in his hand and dabbed around his forehead. He sighed praying for some sort of relief to come soon, perhaps it was late in the day, and before long that damnable sun would set. He looked at his watch and groaned when he saw the hands seemingly forever perched on 1:45 PM. It was turning out to be a long day.

Jack looked up in time to see a silhouette appear on the other side of the window of his office door, and straightened his tie. His office was on the fourth floor of the building, and the only people who had any reason to be up here where potential clients, or at least that was what he hoped. It could be some fool that had managed to get themselves lost on the way to the accounting offices on the floor below him. When he heard a knock at the door he smiled.

“Come on in. It’s open.” Jack called out feeling almost as happy as a kid at christmas. It had been a slow month, and for a private eye to pay rent you needed clients. What Jack had expected from what he had seen through the window was someone’s old lady. Another poor dame that had suspected her husband of having a mistress. Work like that was usually boring, but a broad’s money was just as good as any other schnook that walked in his door, but what walked in caused Jack to sit up straight and lean forward, eyeing the spectacle before him like a dog that had just been presented to a prime rib.

The dame was a knockout from head to toe, and where most broads would cover themselves up to hide their purpose when visiting his little abode, this lady held no shame. The heels made a distinctive click as she took each step into his office, and the scarlet dress that came halfway down her thigh showed enough leg that would have made any school boy fall to his knees to beg for just a moment of her time.

“Is this Jack Spade’s office?” She asked with a voice that sent chills up his spine, and he couldn’t help but notice how her dress clung to her curves leaving little to his imagination. “Is everything all right?”

Suddenly Jack looked up realizing that he had just been gawking at the woman like a putz. He shook his head to bring himself back to his senses, and stood up quickly, nearly knocking everything on his desk over, causing the woman to chuckle. Damn, she was cute when she laughed too, this woman had already shaken him more than he liked, and his gut told him he better quit acting like schlub, and do his job.

“You’re in the right place ma’am. Please have a seat.” Jack smiled and motioned toward the chair in front of his desk. When she sat down and crossed her legs Jack had to force himself not to look down. Dresses like that didn’t like keep things to themselves, and it was obvious to him that this woman, whoever she was, was really trying him. Instead he did his best to keep eye contact, and conduct himself in a business-like manner.

“I’m Jack Spade, what can I do you for Mrs?” Jack asked reaching his hand across the desk to shake her hand.

“It’s Miss.” the woman replied as she returned the handshake, “Miss Cordelia Brown.”

“Well Ms. Brown. It’s nice to meet you, so what brings you to me?”

“I’m looking for a man.” She replied, looking down at her purse.

“You’ve got a name?”

“No, but I have a picture.” She said as she opened her purse and pulled out the photo. She looked up directly into Jack’s eyes, as she slid the photo across the table. Suddenly Jack started to get an uneasy feeling in his gut, and when he grabbed the photo he felt even more uneasy.

“This is Bob Peters. He was my partner back when I was a cop.” Jack said looking at a family photo of an overweight balding man, his wife, and two kids. “Where did you get this photo? It looks like the same one Bob’s wife keeps in his living room?”

“It is?” Cordelia replied followed by the sound of the hammer of a revolver being pulled back. Jack looked up to see Cordelia standing over him the gun aimed right at his head.

“Hey now wait a minute!?” Jack raised his hands up, “What’s the meaning of this?”

“Ten years ago, two little girls were victims to a kid raper. One of the girls was my sister, and I guess you can figure who the other was.” She said as she grimaced at him never once moving the gun. “You’re buddy Bob he took care of the sicko, but he saw me, and just couldn’t help himself. He had his way with me, and my she tried to stop him, but your partner put two in her chest, and you just watched.”

“What are you talking about!? I’ve never saw Bob hurt any kids.”

“No, you sat in the car, and watched the front door of the house. Even when the gunshots went off, you just sat there and watched, and now you get to watch again, as I do to you what I did to Bob Peters.”

“What did you do to Bob!?”

“You can ask him, when you see him in hell, though you might not recognize him.” Cordelia grinned. Jack sat there unable to move. Not sure of what to do. If he attempted to grab the gun he would die, and if he waited too long he would die.

“I wish you could remember this moment as much as I will.” Cordelia grinned as she pulled the trigger. Time seemed to slow down for Jack, as he heard the cylinder turned, and saw the bright light appear down the dark tunnel of the barrel. It was in that brief moment Jack went back to the time that he was looking out the window of a car. The world series was on, and it was the bottom of the ninth. When he heard a loud noise he looked up just long enough to see a girl’s face through the basement window of the house she had been crying, her face full of fear. How did he forget that? Why didn’t he get out of the car?

There was a loud bang. It was funny how dying never seemed to hurt.

Cordelia lowered the smoking gun, and breathed a sigh of relief. Years of long awaited revenge had finally been finished. Bob Peters and his whole family was dead. Including the kids. Nothing good could have came from that man, so she had done the world of favor by slicing little Jimmy and Susan’s throats. Also that joke of a wife, a belly full of buckshot had finished her off, but as for Bob she took her dear sweet time with him. She made him feel the pain he had been feeling for years.

Jack Spade had been the last part of the tale that she had so long desired to see to it’s conclusion, and now she looked at too lifeless eyes and a gaping hole right between the sicko’s eyes. Cordelia put the gun back in her purse and took one last look at the man who liked to watch. His eyes were still open, still watching her. She wanted nothing more than to just cut them out, but she didn’t have time. The cops would be here soon, and she had plans to be out of town before dark. She looked down at the corpse of Jack Spade one last time, and remembered how she had seen him out in the car that day. The day her sister died. The day that man raped her. The day Jack Spade had just sat by and watched.

Cordelia spit on Jack’s corpse before turning around, and heading toward the door. She took two steps when suddenly something grabbed her shoulder. She stood frozen to the spot, cold chills running all over her body. The only thing that was behind her was a dead man. Nothing should have been able to sneak up behind her. Then tears rolled down her cheeks as she heard the voice of Jack Spade saying:

“I wish you could remember this moment as much as I will.”

Cbishop:

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.

Thanks for reading, and for voting! Don't forget: voting ends June 9th @4pm GMT (12pm EST). :)

28 Comments

Grandma's Instinct

#DateWelcome to my blog:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
5005/31/14Grandma's Instinct(Blog) (Forum)Off-Topic(Back) (Next)

I ran across this video on Facebook a couple of days ago. I guess I'm a bit more sensitive to these types of stories now, since grandma had dementia before she passed, but I was truly struck by the last line in this video:

"Amazing what's possible, when love becomes an instinct."

And by what the wife said just before that:

"...I just broke inside. I just said, 'Thank you, thank you,' because I saw his heart."

I was struck by that, because I have experienced that. I've mentioned before how I got to hear "I love you" from my grandma again, not long before she died. I can't overstate how important that was to me. In the midst of everything else, there it was. From Grieving For Grandma:

If I did any bargaining, it was brief, just before the end, when I was sitting at grandma's bedside. It wasn't for "one more day" though. I just wanted her to acknowledge me. I just wanted to hear her say she loved me. I just wanted some sign that she hadn't forgotten me completely. And I got it. When everything else was painful to the touch, bringing about a weak, "ow. ow. ow. ow. ow..." she held my hand. I held one of her hands in both of mine, very carefully, so that she didn't "ow. ow. ow.," and then she put her other hand on top of mine, just patting it a little, or maybe her hand was just shaking. She did that for awhile.

When she was even weaker, eyes not even open, about to fall asleep, we went to leave, and I told her, "I love you, grandma."

She didn't open her eyes. She just said, "I love you too, sweetheart." I got to hear that two more times before she died, and...I think ...I'm pretty sure... that was the last thing I ever heard her say. Not a bad memory.

To say how very heartbreaking that was doesn't really do it justice. You can sympathize with what I'm saying, but unless you've actually experienced it, you just won't really understand. You might think you do, but trust me, you don't. I can say this authoritatively, having been on both sides of that understanding. But anyway, yes, very heartbreaking.

I will carry that "I love you too, sweatheart" with me throughout the rest of my life. Why? Because when she was lost to me... when I once had to introduce myself to her seven different times in an hour, and she responded like she didn't know me... when I had seen the strongest woman I knew deteriorating before my eyes... when her mind was retracing old memories in a neverending loop... I still got "I love you too, sweetheart." Because love was her instinct, just like the man in the video.

I think something else that struck me about that video was just how much I was struck by it. Obviously, I'm not done grieving grandma. Maybe I never will be. Maybe I just need more time. Damn I miss her.

I think it's just because the more I think about it, the more I realize how much she really did love me. I've said in previous blogs that I realized grandma was really the only one who ever supported my love of comics. She loved some of 'em too. She would pop in on me just to go to lunch or dinner somewhere. She even went to the movies with me several times. She let me live with her twice, and let me stay in a house she had sitting unoccupied, when I needed it. If I stopped by to see her, she was going to fix me dinner before I left... There's just so many little things that compound the fact to me that my grandmother loved me... Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn I miss her.

...I want love to be an instinct for me. I don't want to go through dementia, Alzheimer's, or anything that will take my mental faculties away- I really don't think I'm strong enough for that. But I want love to be an instinct. I want the people in my life to know that I love them. I want people to talk about how much I loved them, after I pass away. Assuming I ever get married and have kids, I want them to be able to look back and say that I supported them in the things they loved to do. ...It's not like grandma didn't have flaws, but mostly, she loved me...and I want to be at least that loving for someone else. And I want someone to love me at least as much as I loved her.

Dammit, I miss her.

17 Comments

Character Creation Contest #26

Simple contest this time around. Here's your picture:

Lady in Red, by Cintia

No word limit, and there's only two rules this time:

  1. Name your characters!
  2. You have to use the line from the picture somewhere in your story.

Deadline is Monday, June 2nd @4pm GMT (so 12pm EST, for my own reference).

90 Comments