Bruce: Part 6

Continued from here part 5

League of Assassins secret prison, 1995

As Bruce sat staring at the old man across from him locked in meditation the door swung open. Several men entered and grabbed him. He was taken up several flights of stairs and ushered into what appeared to be a throne room.

A man sat regally on an ornate chair in the center with a sword resting by his side. He stood and walked toward Bruce as a man behind him kicked him in the back of the knees. Bruce went down as the man behind him ordered, "You will kneel before the Demon's Head."

The man from the throne looked down, "Do you know who I am?"

Bruce looked up, "Ducard called you Ra's al Ghul."

Ra's nodded, "And you are Bruce Wayne, of Gotham City. The only child of Thomas and Martha Wayne, who was forced to watch them die. Afterwards you were raised by a butler named....Albert?"

Bruce gritted his teeth as he corrected, "Alfred."

Ra's gave a bit of a shrug, "Minor detail. You have been doing quite a bit of traveling alone for a boy your age, why did you seek out Ducard?"

Bruce pulled himself up to look Ra's in the eye, "He's said to be the world's best detective. I wanted to learn from him."

Ra's grinned a bit, "I see."

He sighed, "Very well, Detective. If you wish to learn, I will teach you. You will return to your cell, from this day on you will train, you will work and if I decide you're worthy I may let you live."


1 month later

Bruce entered the cell and more fell than laid on his mat. He then looked to Kirigi who didn't even seem winded, "How the hell do you keep up?"

He grinned a bit, "They don't make me train. I could show you a way to fight the fatigue you wish."

Bruce pulled himself up, "I thought you didn't train people."

"I don't train these people, are you one of them?"

Bruce shook his head, "Very well then."


The next day

Bruce sat in meditation across from Kirigi as a man stepped in. Bruce opened an eye and looked up, "New guy?"

The man shook his head, "No, Ra's has taken an interest in you. He believes I'm the best teacher he has."

Bruce sat up, "And you are?"

"David Cain."

Bruce noticed a girl near his age behind David with a stoic expression, "She have a name?"

David looked back, "This is Talia, she'll be helping train you."


Bruce was in a dojo looking across a mat at Talia as David stood back, "Show me what you know, rich boy."

Bruce looked incredulous, "I won't hit a girl...."

Before he finished Talia had punched him in the throat and flipped him over her shoulder. She then placed a foot on Bruce's throat, "Chivalry will only get you killed."

She stepped back as Bruce pulled himself up. David looked to him, "Now, show me."

Bruce sighed a bit then charged toward Talia. She drove a foot into his face sending him down. David gave a shrug, "We have a lot of work to do."


That night Bruce returned to his cell with dried blood on the corners of his mouth and quite a bit on his shirt. Kirigi looked him over, "Now my training begins."

Bruce sighed, "Whenever your ready."


8 months passed, Bruce spent every day much the same. Cain woke him before the dawn and trained him till dusk. Kirigi took over as soon as Bruce returned to the cell. Kirigi taught him a form of meditation that allowed him to go for extended amounts of time without sleep.

Talia seemed dismissive of Bruce at first and was even more harsh with him than Cain, but over time she softened toward him. She found his determination and drive appealing.

One night as Bruce prepared to begin his night training the cell door opened. He looked back to see Talia standing, "Come with me."

Bruce looked to Kirigi but the old man waved him off. He then turned to Talia, "Am I allowed to wander?"

"You are tonight, besides if you did attempt escape you'd freeze to death long before you found civilization."

Bruce left with her. She ushered him to the upper floors where Ra's lived when he was here. Bruce looked nervous, "Why would Ra's allow you in his private quarters."

"He is my father. Did you not know?"

Bruce shrugged a bit, "Never thought about it."

As he looked around the room he walked to a large window. He looked out on the snow covered mountain range that surrounded them. Talia spoke from behind, "My father sees greatness in you. It is the reason he allowed you to stay with the old man. He knows all about the training he's been giving you."

Bruce didn't seem surprised, "I was curious about that."

He then sighed and spoke as he turned, "Is there a reason you brought me up here?"

As he looked to Talia she dropped her shirt to the floor. His eyes went a bit wide, "What are you..."

She cut him off with a kiss. She then pulled back a bit, "Now is not the time for talk."


Shortly before sun rise Bruce and Talia returned to the cell. She locked the door as Bruce laid down. Kirigi gave a smug chuckle as she left, "You should be more cautious, boy."

(To be continued.)


Marvel Re-Genesis: Captain Marvel part 1, We Are Kree.

(This is the first chapter for my part of the Marvel Re-Genesis group started by @avenging_x_bolt )

A Kree ship enters the Sol system. Two blue skinned Kree look out an observation bay. One called Colonel Yon-Rogg looks back, "We are wasting time."

The "pink" skinned Captain Mar-Vell shrugs, "Routine threat assessment. Has to be done and since we're the closest, Command ordered us to do it."

Yon-Rogg gave a condescending sneer and began to speak but was cut off by the Kree known as Ronan, "Who is the assigned Captain of this ship?"

Yon-Rogg looked nervous, "Mar-Vell, sir."

Ronan nodded, "And what is the punishment for disobeying the orders of an assigned captain or asking for him to be derelict in his duty?"

Ronan stared down on Yon-Rogg fully expecting an answer. The smaller Kree shook a bit as he spoke, "Execution, sir."

Mar-Vell stifled a chuckle as the Colonel made his way off the bridge. Ronan stared hard as the came upon the third planet from this systems sun, "I often wonder why the Supreme Intelligence bothers to worry about this little water ball."

The Captain stepped over, "My guess would be they're mostly worried about Attilan, tho I couldn't say if it even exists anymore. We haven't seen a trace of it in over a thousand cycles."

Ronan began to speak but the ship rocked violently as something slammed into it. Vell hit his comm, "What was that?"

A voice came over the comm, "We were struck by a small craft, damage is minimal."

Vell nodded, "Was it an attack?"

"Unknown, sir. Signs point to accidental encounter and the craft seems to be completely disabled."

Vell looked to Ronan, "Pardon me, sir."

He then headed off the bridge, "Bring it in, we'll bring it back as part of our assessment."

"Yes, sir."


Mar-Vell entered the bay as a soldier approached, "There's a pilot on board, seems to be unconscious."

They pulled the pilot out. Vell looked her over and moved to take off her helmet, "Get me a breather, they have an oxygen heavy atmosphere."

He attached the breather over her mouth and nose and set it to compensate, "Take her to the med bay and let me know she wakes up."

The soldier looked over, "How do you know its a she?"

"Files say most Terrans are aesthetically similar to Kree. Looks like a female to me."


In the Med bay a blue skinned Kree doctor looks her over and notices her dog tags as he picks up a translation devise. He holds it over the tags as he scrolls through options, "Hey Kor, you know what this language is called?"

Kor was looking at a monitor, "According to the files...." He squinted a bit as he looked, "I think it says Angleesh"

The doctor furrowed his brow, "There's one called English listed as a common Earth language."

Kor shrugged, "Worth a shot."

He looks over the translator, "Captain Carol Danvers, U.S.A.F., whatever that means. Sounds military."

Carol began to regain consciousness as the two doctors spoke in a language she couldn't understand. She tried to sit up, but was restrained. She began to thrash around as the doctors noticed, "Call the captain."

Kor held her arm still as he injected her with something. She yelled at him, "What the hell did you give me?!"

He gave a wary look, "Translator microbes, calm down."

She was still unnerved but she hid her fear well, "Where am I?"

A voice came in from behind, "This is a Kree star cruiser. Your craft collided with ours."

She looked over to see Mar-Vell, "Are you human?"

He shook his head, "No I am Kree, just a different paint job."

He then introduced himself, "I'm Captain Mar-Vell."

She gave him an odd look, "Captain Marvel? Sounds like a comic book character."

"No, its Mar-Vell. And you are?"

"Captain Carol Danvers, United States Air Force. Why am I here?"

He sighed a bit, "We were doing a routine threat assessment when your craft collided with ours. Unfortunately our protocols dictate that we needed to assess whether your craft was a weapon and if so if it presents a danger."

She sat up as he unshackled her, "Its a prototype high speed vehicle for space flight. We were hoping to shorten the trip to other planets by a few years."

He looked incredulous, "Years?"

Kor chuckled, "Well now we know they can't chase us."

Mar-Vell gave a glare, "Her people aren't a space fairing race yet. You have to learn to crawl before you walk."

Carol cleared her throat, "Am I gonna get a ride home?"

Vell sighed, "Well, there's an issue with that. We're on a bit of a tight schedule. We have to get back to Kree-Lar and drop some people off but at most we're two days from the nearest Star-Gate that will take us right there. After that I'll take you back as soon as I get clearance."

Carol looked annoyed but had been in the military long enough to recognize when someone's hands are tied by red tape. Suddenly she looked down with a shock, "Am I naked?"

Kor nodded, "Wondered when she was gonna notice that."


Later Carol stood in the observation bay in awe of the stars rushing past as bored Kree wandered by. Mar-Vell stepped up next to her, "I remember that feeling, first time I was on a ship going beyond light speed I thought it was the most amazing thing in the universe. Tho you're lucky you were unconscious for the first couple days. My first time I thought my stomach would abandon ship."

She chuckled a bit, "Its odd, scientists on my world are still debating if its even possible to travel at the speed of light while your people are casually breaking it."

Vell shrugged, "We started with sticks and stone, same as you."

"These translator microbes are fantastic."

"A Spartoi scientist came up with them quite a while ago, they pretty much revolutionized interstellar commerce and diplomacy."

She was startled as Ronan stepped behind Vell. He towered over him. Vell turned as Ronan spoke, "Is it wise to allow this..Human, is it, To wander the ship?"

Vell nodded, "She's restricted to public areas only, and I doubt she'd be able to cause trouble. Her people take a week to get to their own moon, how much trouble can they be?"

Ronan glared down at Carol as he walked by. As a door closed behind him she looked back to Vell, "Who's that charming fella?"

"That is Ronan the Accuser, actually Supreme Accuser is his technical title. He's one of the highest ranking officers in the whole empire."

She was about to ask something but again the ship rocked. An alert rang out and Vell hit his comm, "What happened?"

Carol over heard the answer from an angry Kree, "A damned Skrull ship. It came out of nowhere and opened fire."

Carol started to say something but Vell ordered a soldier to take her to guest quarters.


Vell entered the bridge as Ronan was barking orders. Vell told him, "I have pilots heading to the fighters. What's the situation?"

Ronan looked down, "It's Commander Kl'rt."

Vell nodded, "Any chance, this is just a coincidence and they aren't trying to take you out?"

Ronan gave a blank stare as Vell sighed, "Didn't think so."

A soldier spoke up, "They're hailing."

Ronan nodded, "Let's hear it."

"The comm system rang out with Kl'rt's voice, "This is Kl'rt of the Skrull empire, surrender the accuser and you won't be killed."

Vell grinned a bit, "Does he really think we'd believe that?"

(To be continued)


5th Column Comics: Joe part 4

Continued from here part 3

Guantanamo Bay, 5 years ago.

NSA agent Bob Thornton sits in a room as a man with a shaggy beard and long unkempt hair is brought in. He is heavily shackled on the wrists, waste and feet. As he sits Bob has a welcoming grin, "Hello, Its Thomas Kane, right? Or do you prefer Tom?"

Kane gave a nod, "Okay then, right to business. Do you know how much we spent to catch you?"

Tom shrugged, "Wasn't my idea."

Bob chuckled a bit before continuing, "We've spent $400,000,000 a year for the last half decade hunting you and the other subjects of project Sparta. That's 2 billion in total, you know how many we've caught?"

He noted Tom's blank stare then sighed a bit, "We've caught 1, and I think we both know that was just dumb luck. You might be a legitimate threat, but you are not worth the money or the man hours and frankly I don't want to spend it again on what will most likely be a fruitless endeavor."

Tom leaned over, "You coming to a point?"

Bob nodded, "I came with a deal for you. I want you to put your skills to work for us. So what I'll do for you is this. You agree we'll just leave the rest of them alone, on the condition that if one goes rogue they become your responsibility. Outside of that you'll basically be an agency unto yourself, there will be oversight of course and you will receive missions.

This is a one time only deal, if you don't take it you'll likely die here."

Tom sat in thought for a moment then looked up, "When do I start?"


Golden Roads, present

Joe sits on a bench with Roxie, "Okay, kid. Test time. Joe pointed to the top of a parking structure where he'd sat a small pocket knife, "You have twenty minutes to get up there and bring me back that knife without anyone seeing you."

She looked nervous as she started to walk. She looked back to Joe but he waved her off. He waited until she was out of sight then made his way toward the structure. He stretched up a few flights to a spot where he could keep an eye on her just in case.

After a few minutes she passed him, he stifled a chuckle about being unnoticed but was impressed that thus far he'd been the only one to notice her.


After she'd retrieved the knife she came back down two floors when a small crowd of people came in. She quickly hid but one of the people happened to be Agent Kane who'd come to pick up his car. He noticed her scurrying along under a line of cars.

When she thought she was completely unseen she crept out and headed down the stairs when a voice spoke, "You must excel at hide and go seek."

She turned to see Kane. He seemed to recognize her, "Roxanne Collins?"

Her eyes went wide and she bolted. Kane sighed as he jumped the rail and landed on the flight of stairs just below. She surprised him a bit by being able to side step him but he nearly caught up. He was stopped when something grabbed him from behind and tossed him a few feet away.

He stood to see Joe now standing between him and the girl. Kane loosened his tie as he stepped forward, "Milton."

Joe gave a nod, "Kane."

Tom then pulled off his gloves revealing hands that seemed to be made of smooth black crystal. Joe took a fighting stance as Tom spoke, "I'm taking the girl with me."

Joe shrugged a bit, "We'll see."

They charged each other. Kane went for a punch but Joe dodged before wrapping an arm around him and hurling him into a wall. Kane jumped back toward him as Joe stretched out a leg to kick him. Kane grabbed him sending crystal up Joe's leg immobilizing it. He then twisted sending Joe smashing into several cars. As Joe tried to get up Tom slammed him down encasing the rest of his body in crystal.

Tom then walked over to Roxie, "Its okay, your safe now...."

He was cut off by Roxie driving her foot into his crotch. As he keeled over he looked over shocked as Joe broke free of the crystal. He moved to attack again but Joe stretched out and caught both his arms before reeling him in and tangling the rest of Tom's body with his arms, while carefully avoiding the hands.

Tom looked worried as Joe spoke, "She ain't gonna be a lab rat."

Tom's face changed to a look of confusion, "Wait, what?"

Joe's anger faded a bit, "You're not here tracking her?"

Tom became indignant, "I'm here tracking the Indigo Butcher, she's the only living witness and I noticed her out of dumb luck. Why the hell would I be after......Oh, she's a carrier, isn't she?"

He sighed, "I'm sorry but she's the only real lead we have."

Joe loosened up a bit, "I'll save you some trouble, it's Victor Cole. She described him for me, right down to the bayonet scar I gave him back at the Facility."

Joe then squeezed around his neck a bit, "I let you go, you forget you saw her. Hell, I'll even help you get him but she ain't setting foot near any place the task force can grab her."

Kane nodded, "Deal."


Lewis came into an interrogation room where he noticed all the recording equipment had been disabled as he sat across from Kane, "What's with the cloak and dagger."

Kane looked up, "I know who the Butcher is."

"Well lets go..."

Kane shook his head, "You've been on this case for months so I figured you had the right to know."

Lewis leaned back, "You had no intention of letting this guy stand trial, did you? Just gonna put him down like some rabid dog."

Kane hushed him, "His name is Victor Cole and if you try to bring him in, you and anyone you bring along to help will die."

Lewis was about to make a joke but the look on Kane's face sent a chill down his spine, "What makes you think you can take him alone?"

"I won't be alone."

Lewis then seemed angered, "And what about that Collins girl?"

"She's safe, but we can't bring her in. The task force would take her."

Lewis dropped his shoulder's, "She's a carrier?"

Kane nodded as he continued, "So if we bring her in to id the guy, she gets rewarded by being a lab rat."


Roxie and Joe were in a seedy motel in Lovecraft. She paced the room, "How can you trust that guy, he's a carrier and he works for the government?"

Joe shook his head, "Trust me, Kane is a world class prick but he knows what its like being an experiment and he wouldn't make a kid go through that."

She glared at him, "You obviously don't like the guy, why defend him?"

"Let's just say, he did me a big favor a while back and I owe him."



A retired Colonel, turned television producer entered his home and noticed his dog laying very still on his doggie bed at the end of the entrance hall of the house. He leaned down to pet him but noticed he didn't move. He was saddened but the dog was old and had no wounds so he assumed it died naturally. He then walked into the living room, "Honey, I have some bad news...."

He stopped as he saw the words, 'Mihi Vindictam' drawn in blood on his wall. He saw his young trophy wife sitting posed on the couch with a blood soaked shirt. He moved toward her but felt an invisible blade at his throat. His last vision was of the naked body of his wife's lover laying just off to the side.

Victor wiped the blood from his blade on the man's shirt and headed out.

(To be continued)


5th Column Comics: Joe part 3

Continued from here part 2

Roxie woke up from the bed in the cheap hotel room Joe had rented for the night and saw Joe staring out the window, "What's going on?"

Joe looked over, "Someone started a brawl or something. The streets crawling with CBTF. Some goon in spandex showed up a minute ago, been entertaining so far."

She gave a yawn, "Wake me up if it looks like they're gonna blow us up."

Joe chuckled as she rolled back over and fell back to sleep.


The next day Joe woke Roxie up around noon, "We need to be on our way."

She grunted as she woke with bright sun in her eyes, "Sorry, been a month or so since I slept in a bed."

Joe shrugged, "We need to be away from here asap."


They dodged the increased CBTF patrol by entering a tiny bar called the Pigeon Hole. Joe looked around the room finding a few people who were exactly the type he'd expect to be hanging around a dive bar at 12:30 in the afternoon and a terrible folk singer abusing the bar's open mic feature.

The bar tender noticed the kid, "She can't be in here."

Joe sighed, "Some creepy guy's been following her around."

He looked toward the folk singer, "Let her sit for a bit and I promise I'll come back tomorrow and drink till that sounds like music."

The bartender looked to the small stage, "Serving that much liquor to a guy might count as manslaughter."

As he turned back he had a realization, "Holy s**t, Joe?"

Joe looked at him for a second before recognizing him, "Jack? I didn't recognize you with the beard."

Jack waved them over, "Hell, come on in. Have a seat kid."

Joe and Roxie sat at the bar and Joe looked up, "You serve food?"

Jack shrugged, "We do burgers, wings or pretzels."

"Give her a burger and a root beer."

Jack started to nod but he and Joe noticed the hard stare Roxie was giving the bar code tattoo on Jack's forearm. Joe looked down, "What's the problem?"

She pointed at the tattoo, "The Butcher had a tattoo just like that, same place and everything."

Joe sighed as he pulled up his sleeve to show his own bar code, "You sure it looked just like this?"

She nodded as Joe turned to her, "Okay, what'd he look like?"

She looked nervous, "He was a little shorter than Jack here, had short dirty blond hair, blue eyes and this little scar under his right eye that looked like a crooked check mark."

Joe turned back to Jack with a concerned look, "What the hell's going on?"

Joe sat up, "I lied a minute ago. This girl here, her family was killed by the Indigo Butcher. She's the only one who's seen his face and lived."

Jack popped his knuckles, "And from that description, I'm guessing we both have a pretty good idea who he is."

Jack then slid a plate to her with a burger on it, "Eat up kid."

He then waved Joe toward the office, "Me and you need to talk."


Det. Lewis and Agent Kane are looking over an Indigo Butcher crime scene in Devil's Den. Lewis was curious, "I don't see what we're gonna find that forensics missed."

Kane leaned down and rolled up his sleeve. Lewis noticed a bar code tattoo on his forearm and thought he saw something glinting in the sun light under his glove before Kane adjusted it. Kane moved something aside revealing a foot print, "I assume, like most people your forensics team was in a hurry to get away from here."

Lewis looked down, "Looks like a size 13."

Kane nodded, "Looks like it, tho I'm betting the man who made it was size 11."

He pointed to a dip in the foot print, "I'd guess he was wearing shoes two sizes too big with weighted filler. It's a red herring. He wanted us to find this and start looking for a guy with bigger feet who out weighs him by around 60 lbs."

Lewis crouched down beside him, "And how'd you get to that?"

Kane shrugged, "Its something he was trained to do. That probably explains why your forensics found 14 different DNA types that they were sure led back to him but ended up matching a victim."

Lewis rose, "So basically we got nothing?"

Kane looked up, "Not exactly."

He pointed at several other partially covered tracks, "We know he spent quite a bit of time standing right out here in the open and not one person saw him but there is a traffic cam pointed right where you're standing."

Lewis grinned a bit, "Well, lets go have a look."


An hour later Lewis and Kane are looking at the video with a lab tech. They don't see anything but Kane tells the tech to pause, "Can you enhance that?"

The tech gave a wary look, "This ain't CSI buddy. Street cams have limits."

He noticed the stern glares from the men, "Fine I'll see what I can do."

He tinkered a bit managing to enlarge the image a bit but not clearing it up much, "That's weird."

Lewis looked over his shoulder, "What?"

The tech pointed at the screen, "Its kind of what it looks like when you shine a flash light through a clear glass of water."

Kane leaned over and pointed out the vaguely man formed out line around the odd light pattern, "Our killer is bending light."

The tech looked up, "What, like the Predator?!"

Kane gave a blank stare as Lewis spoke, "Its a movie where this alien...never mind. Our perp can make himself invisible, that's a problem."

Kane turned to him, "So he's a carrier."

Lewis dropped in his chair, "Invisible, super assassin, serial killer, wonderful."

He then shouted out to the building, "Anyone else miss regular psychos?"


Victor sits at a table in the kitchen of his run down apartment. He has several photos of his next victim on a bulletin board behind him and the news playing on the television as he sharpens and cleans a set of blades. He looks over as he hears mention of the Indigo Butcher and raises the remote changing it to Demon Dog, "Bah, Indigo Butcher makes me sound like a deli ran by hippies."


Devil's Den, Pigeon Hole Bar.

A man staggered up to the bar, "Hey Jack, looks like a couple task force goons are heading this way. Damned jackboots always getting up in yer business, as if we ain't got enough crap to deal with down here."

Jack looked to Joe and Roxie and directed them to the back room. The man at the bar noticed them heading back so Jack put a bottle of his preferred whisky on the bar, "On the house, Ed."

Ed shrugged, "Sweet."

Joe found a sliding door along the back wall hidden by an over sized painting of dogs playing pool. Roxie noticed a small metal box on the wall that Joe pushed a button on before closing them in the small room. He saw her curious look, "Blocks the scanners."

A few minutes later a few men in task force uniforms walked in. He looked to Jack, "Scanner indicates a carrier may be in here."

Jack gives a wary look, "Unless alcoholism or depression are super powers I'm doubting you'd find any carriers here."

One of the agents puffed up his chest as he looked up at Jack, "I don't like your tone boy."

Jack feigned anger, "Boy? Who you calling boy?"

The agent's eyes went a little wide as he looked up at the large black bar tender, "Now, sir, I didn't mean it like..."

Jack went with it, "Oh, you didn't mean it like what, cracker?"

The other agent put a hand on his partner's shoulder, "Time to go Bill, if there was a carrier here we'd know it."

Bill nodded, "But I'm not racist, some of my..."

His partner hushed him, "Don't finish that sentence."

Joe chuckled in the hidden room as he watched the scene on a monitor, " Jack's still got it."

(To be continued)


5th Column Comics: Joe part 2

Continued from here part 1

Devil's Den.

Joe and Roxie are sitting on a roof over looking Alegheri park eating chili dogs. Roxie had a worried look. Joe looked over to her as he swallowed a bite, "Something wrong with the dog?"

"How am I supposed to eat when an invisible man is hunting me?"

Joe shrugged, "Not eating means you have less energy, less energy means you won't focus as well and that'll get you killed."

She sighed and took a bite. As she chewed she looked up and spoke with a half full mouth, "How did shpot the guy?"

Joe looked down at her, "Swallow before you speak kid."

He quickly finished her bite and asked again, "How did you spot the guy?"

"Wasn't hard, just payed attention."

She gave a blank stare. He sighed and pointed toward the street, "What do you see down there?"

She looked down, "Some people and cars and stuff."

He nodded and knelt down beside her as he pointed toward a man eating a cheeseburger, "That man down there most likely didn't have breakfast considering how focused he is on that burger. His girl friend there started aggressively pawing at his shoulders a second ago because she probably thought that attractive blonde ten feet to the left was checking out her man.

She was actually looking at the burger but the disgusted look she had indicates she's either a vegan or a health nut."

He then pointed to a pigeon sitting on a lamp post, "That bird is getting antsy and nervous because he just noticed the falcon on the flag pole about half a block away on the right."

She looked at him mildly impressed, "Is that like a power?"

He shook his head, "No, I was trained for that. Observational skills are one of the most important attributes for evasion and survival. This Butcher guy who's following you can make himself invisible but he's still solid. I spotted him because he brushed past a flag and made it move opposed to the wind. Him stepping in a puddle confirmed it."

She gave a nod as he pointed down again, "Now look again, pay attention and tell me what you see."


Golden Roads

A man from the CBTF had just finished his shift and arrived home. As he opened the door he noticed the phrase 'Mihi Vindictam' written in blood on the wall. He felt a bit of panic as he remembered the reports about the Indigo Butcher. He ran into the house, "Laura! Baby!?"

He felt relief for a second as he saw her seated as if looking out the window before realizing she didn't respond. He walked over and put a hand on her shoulder causing her body to slump. He then felt a grip on his own shoulder and felt a cold steel blade across his throat. He didn't have time to react before the unseen blade sliced through his skin.

Victor looked down on the man's body with a nod.

Griffith, The office of the Indigo City Police Commissioner.

A man in his late 30s with black but graying hair and a five o'clock shadow named Det. Craig Lewis sits waiting for the Commissioner. He'd been on the force for over a decade but had never been in this office before but he didn't think this meeting meant anything good.

After a moment the Commissioner walked in followed by a well groomed man in his late 20s who wore a dark blue business suit and black gloves. The Commissioner introduced them, "This is Detective Craig Lewis, he's been working the Butcher case from the beginning. Detective, this is Agent Tom Kane from..."

He looked to Kane, "I'm not sure what agency he's with but the Mayor has ordered me to assign you to aide him in capturing the Indigo Butcher."

Lewis turned back, "And why are the Feds suddenly interested?"

Kane looked down, "There has been a development. It is currently known that your killer is targeting soldiers and their families. In every instance the families of these soldiers were all posed and accounted for while the soldiers were left where they died. In all cases but one."

Lewis nodded, "The Collins girl?"

Kane nodded, "If she is in fact alive we may have an actual witness."

Lewis nodded, "That's not your only reason."

Kane shrugged, "We've been following this case for quite some time. The M.O. has us concerned. We've noticed that with the family members, he kills with surgical precision and wounds indicate quick almost painless deaths, while the soldiers get their throats slit and are allowed to bleed out. In nearly every case their eyes were open and facing their families. This says that the soldiers are the actual target."

He then tosses a photo on the desk, "Then there's this."

Lewis picks it up and looks at the words 'Mihi Vindictam' as Kane continues, "Its Latin and translates too..."

Lewis cut him off, "Vengeance is mine. So what you're saying is you believe we have a well trained assassin who's gone off the reservation with a vendetta?"

Kane nodded again, "Basically, and I can give you 10 suspects."

He then opened a brief case with several files in them, "You won't find any records, on paper none of these people exist but they are the only people that we know of with the kind of training necessary to get away this clean considering the targets. Even if he's a carrier he'd leave some form of evidence otherwise. We aren't sure what was different but if and when we find out we may have your killer."

The two men made there way out of the building. Lewis noticed Kane took out a pen and began clicking it as they passed the scanners that all government buildings have to detect carriers. After they exited the building Kane slid the pen back in his pocket. He did it in a nonchalant manner as if it was a nervous habit. To the untrained eye it wouldn't matter but Lewis is a very good detective and knows practiced behavior when he sees it.


Devil's Den

As the sun set Joe and Roxie walked down an alley. They stopped as they heard the beeping of a scanner. Joe looked ahead to see a task force agent who happened to be taking a leak in the alley, "F**k."

The agent quickly zipped up and yelled,"Freeze."

Roxie looked nervous as Joe's arm stretched out and coiled up like a spring. When the agent got within an arm's length Joe punched him in the chest launching him across the street where he slammed into a wall. His armor took the brunt of the impact but the man was winded as he stood. His partner gave a surprised look before turning down the alley.

Joe and Roxie were no where to be seen.

( To be continued)


5th Column Comics: Joe part 1

Continued from here prologue

The Facility: Ten years ago.

Joe Milton and Victor Cole stand with blood dripping from their mouths and noses as their instructor orders them to halt. Their combat training stops as the boys are mid swing. They stop and turn at attention in an almost mechanical fashion.

The subjects of project Sparta are filed into a large room where they take note of armed soldiers all around them. After a quick head count the head of the project stands before them, "You have all been doing very well. We've gathered you all here for a sort of graduation ceremony."

The soldiers were unnerved by the cold expressions of the teens, not one made a sound as they listened. Joe and Victor looked around noticing the safeties were off on the loaded weapons being held. In near unison the subjects nodded as Victor turned to the nearest soldier and smashed his jaw while disarming him. He then shot the soldier next to him before he had time to react.

The soldiers began to fire but the kids had already mixed into their ranks disarming many and using them as human shields before turning the weapons on their attackers.

After a few minutes the firing stopped as the last soldier died. Joe turned to see Victor standing over his twin brother. Of all the subjects only Victor and his brother knew they had family, they were identical aside from a scar under Victor's eye that Joe had given him in a training session.

While the rest kept their cold stares Joe noticed a single tear on Victor's face before shouting, "We should go, more will be here shortly."

As a group they made their way out of the Facility easily evading the security measures.


Hours later a government agent was giving a report to his superior, "We only managed to eliminate ten of them. They wiped out the soldiers."

He then nodded as he listened to his ear piece, "Understood sir."

He then turned to his partners, "Bring in the cleaners, we need to get a story together for this. I want every agent in the company keeping an eye out for them. Kill on site orders have been issued."


Indigo City: Present, Denton area better known to locals as Devil's Den.

A soldier returns home from duty after quite a while away from home. He'd been a bit disappointed that none of his family had met him at the airport but he was still glad to be back. He was shocked to see his wife and teen sons dead but posed on the couch, blood still dripping from their wounds as Demon Dog played on the television.

On the wall above the couch he noticed a Latin phrase written in their blood, 'Mihi Vindictam' <Vengeance is mine.>

As he stares in shock he notices a bag filled sitting near the door. He moves to check it but is caught by the hand of an invisible attacker. Suddenly his throat erupts with blood from a wound caused by an unseen blade. His last sight before dying is the bag by the door seemingly disappear as the door seems to open by itself.

Victor Cole silently walks away from the house. He has the ability to bend light around himself rendering him and anything he touches invisible leaving him safe from detection by the soldiers neighbors as he casually walks away from the house, not that anyone would care much in this neighborhood.

Victor had seen four muggings and an attempted rape between his current home and this house and this was a calm day. He kept himself fed by robbing his victims but that was hardly his motive. He blamed soldiers for taking the only family he'd ever had so he dedicated himself to taking their families away as well.

The papers call him the Indigo Butcher. For the last few months he's been stalking the city due to the recent uptake in soldiers turned task force agents living in the city.


Joe entered the area known as Devil's Den where three men immediately attempted to mug him. He quickly dispatched them without even needing his power. One began to rise from where Joe had thrown him but Joe turned, "If you get up, I'll put you down permanently."

The man dropped back down as Joe walked away. As he walked he noticed someone sliding a hand into his pocket. They let him walk away a bit then turned before noticing Joe's hand still holding the his shirt sleeve. The pick pocket looked shocked as Joe began to reel him back. He then lifted the young girl into the air while holding a hand out in front of her, "Wallet?"

She put it in his hand as he dropped her and turned, "What's with the rubber freak powers?"

Joe didn't turn but replied, "My last visit to this city was eventful."

As he walked the girl followed, "My name's Roxi, I got powers from the impact too."

Joe gave a nod, "Obviously not one that made you a good pick pocket. You following me for a reason?"

She became annoyed, "Seriously, I can prove it. Try to do your stretchy thing."

Joe shrugged and humored her tugging on his thumb. He stopped walking as he noticed it stayed in place. He then turned seeing a smug grin on her face, "Told you?"

He was now genuinely curious, "With an ability like that, why aren't you in a lab?"

"My dad was a soldier assigned to the task force, he thought they'd dissect me if they found out so he didn't register me."

Joe gave a nod, "Sounds smart, does he know you're a pick pocket?"

She got a sad look, "The Butcher killed him, almost got me too but he was surprised when I turned his power off and I got away. He was invisible so I think I'm the only person who has actually seen his face. I knew I couldn't go to the police cause those scanner things they have would let them know I was a carrier and they wouldn't care what I had to say, so I ran. Been on the streets ever since."

Joe sighed, "I'd suggest you find a better way to earn a living, or at least get better at what you're doing."

He began to walk away but Roxie followed, "I ain't looking for a side kick."

"You don't seem too worried about getting spotted, maybe you can teach me how to avoid it."

He gave a wary look, "I have neither the time nor the patients for teaching."

She dropped her head, "Well maybe you...."

She looked up with a pitiful stare but he was gone. She sighed as the phony puppy dog eyes went away, "Damn it."

Joe chuckled from a roof top and began to walk away but noticed a flag hanging from a shop moving. He knew it wasn't the wind because it was blowing in the opposite direction and it moved as if someone had brushed against it. Anyone else wouldn't have noticed but Joe was trained to observe every detail. He followed the path from the flag with his eyes and saw a small splash as an invisible form stepped into a puddle of spilled soda, "Ahh, goddamn it."

Roxie was walking as Joe's hand wrapped around her and yanked her to the roof. She heard an angry grunt as she was yanked up. Joe hushed her as he looked down. Unknown to him, Victor was staring back up at him. He recognized his old sparing partner and decided to wait to get the girl.

(To be continued.)


5th Column Comics: Joe prologue

My name is Joseph Milton, most just call me Joe. Don't know if that's my real name, not even sure I have one. Until I was 15 I lived in the Facility, that's what we called it. I was one of a hundred kids chosen for something called project Sparta. It was a simple idea, take infants and raise them from birth to be soldiers.

We weren't super human or anything just well trained. As soon as I learned to walk the training began, combat training, espionage, wet work and whatever other bit of dirty work that might be useful. None of us ever actually saw the field. The powers that be got nervous about the potential public relations nightmare if the project was discovered.

They ordered a clean sweep but they trained us too well. I couldn't say what happened to the others but I managed to escape and I've been on my own since then. I drift from place to place, trying to keep my head down. All that changed about a year ago.

I had wandered into Indigo City and tried to catch a nap on a park bench when all hell broke loose. I didn't see what crashed but I heard the explosion. I turned to get a look just in time to get a lung full of blue gas. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I passed out and woke up the next day to the sounds of screams and confusion. I couldn't stand up, my legs were like loose rubber bands.

I had no idea what was going on but I knew it wouldn't be long before soldiers showed up. I crawled into a storm drain and tried to collect myself. I can't remember how long I was down there, I could hear the panic in the city for sometime. Once I managed to get walking I followed the drain out of the city.

Over the next few months I discover I now had the ability to stretch like rubber. I hid out in a forest while I mastered my new abilities. The place became infested for a while with what they call Blights. They left me alone but they drew soldiers and I had to move on.

Since then I've found that my abilities have advantages. The strength and durability that came with the power combined with my training made me great in a fight. The task force set up to hunt down people like me are persistent but they're amateurs.

I hear stories all the time about people like me getting taken away, even had a few close calls. Its easy enough to slip through the cracks when you can make yourself two dimensional. I never intended to come back to Indigo but as it turns out about a dozen other members of project Sparta happened to be around during the Great Impact and since they're the closest thing I have to family I decided to track them down. Indigo seems like the best place to start looking.

(To be continued)


Cutlery Book 2: The Pirate Hunters part 3

Continued from here part 2

An ancient oil rig sits in the sea, it has long since been claimed by sea life. People have come to call this artificial island the Coral tower. It is mostly home to nesting gulls. On one side Kearn had ordered the supply ships and few escort ships he'd assigned to anchor themselves in a straight line making it impossible for on coming ships to see behind the island.

On the other side four pirate ships approach. Between the pirates and the island stands Castor, the Man-At-Arms for the Barracuda on a long boat. He stands with a hand rolled cigarette hanging from his lip as he checks his weapon, three black sickle blades attached to a long chain. Its called the Raven's claw.

A sailor named Curry sits with a pair of oars at his side and a poleaxe called the Naga strapped to his back. As they sit a pirate ship comes close to the longboat. A man looks over, "What are you doing out here?"

Castor begins to swing the Raven's Claw, as it picks up speed he looks up to the ship, "I'm plannin' on sinkin' yer boat."

The pirate grins as he turns back to the crew, "You hear that, boys? He's gonna sink our boat."

As they begin to laugh Castor threw out the claw. It connected and sunk into the side of the hull. He then yanked back and the pirate crew was silenced by the sound of wood being torn. The ship then dipped sharply to the side as water rushed into the massive hole. Castor then looked to Curry who had nodded off and began to snore. He kicked his leg, "You're on."

Curry stood with a yawn, "Alright, alright."

He then put the base of the poleaxe down and used it to pole vault to the large hunk of hull Castor had ripped off and then spun the Naga around. The pole extended then he caught the side of the ship pulling it down a bit as he allowed the Naga to drag him up as it returned to normal size.

The angry pirates charged but he swatted several into the water with the Naga. The blade at the top of the poleaxe extended and he sliced through the mast before kicking it over. It crashed down, slamming into the bow of a ship coming up to help.

As this was going on, Bartley, Vargas and several others swam up beside one of the other two boats. Bartley tossed up a grappling hook and they climbed aboard. The pirates turned to attack but Vargas stabbed the Coyote into the deck sending out a shock wave that split the ship. Bartley led the rest of the crew to attack the panicked pirates.

The final ship turned to flee but was ripped apart by large spikes. Angus stood on a longboat with Olaf holding the hilt of the changeling as the rest of the blade laid just under the water's surface. Olaf patted him on the back, "I need me, one of those."

The Navy forces then got back to their longboats as Akida raised Triton's Claw. Light flickered around it for a moment. The pirates in the water began to scream as hundreds of shark fins began heading toward them. Bartley snatched one pirate from the water.


Kearn stood on the Coral Tower as Bartley brought the lone survivor of the pirates and tossed him down at the Admiral's feet. His eye's went wide in terror as Kearn spoke, "I am Admiral Kearn from the Navy of the Western Empire. I assume you've heard of me."

The pirate nodded as he shook. Kearn swatted him in the face, "Man up, boy. I ain't gonna kill you."

The pirate spat out a tooth as Kearn glared down, "You tell Barrick and that hag that if they want I fight, I'll bring one to them. They can run if they want but this sea lane is mine now."

Bartley then tossed the man into the water by a longboat and threw a pair of oars down after, "I'd get goin' quick if I were you."

He then looked to Kearn, "You know Barrick ain't gonna run."

Kearn nodded then looked back to Dory, "Tell everyone to get ready to fight, we're heading into rough waters."


The God's Head

Casandra gives Rikke a report, "He took six empty cargo ships and eight battle ships. He said he was going to break up the pirate fleet and be back with a resupply in a week or so."

Rikke nodded, "Did he know Barrick and Selena have sixty ships between them?"

"He said they could have a thousand, for all he cared."

Rikke burst into laughter, "That's why I love that man."


The pirate Kearn had spared was rowing along but wearing out when he came across a ship from his fleet. A young man with long black hair and a tattooed face named Argyle looked down to him, "Where the hell are the rest of you?"

The pirate looked up, "The Navy sank us. Sent me back with a message."

Argyle sighed, "Who was it?"

"Kearn and his crew."

Argyle took on a serious look as he yelled back to the crew, "Get him up here."

He then walked back to the cabin door and swung it open, "Captain, we got problems."


Barrick sat on the dock at his island sipping rum as Selena's crew loaded up their ship. He noticed a messenger bird flying in but continued to sit and drink.

A few minutes later Amos came up running. Barrick turned as he noticed the panting man, "I take it, the bird was for me."

Amos nodded, "Kearn's coming this way with Black Heart."

Barrick shrugged, "It's about damn time. He must be loosing a step from age."

As he took another drink Amos finished, "He's got Vargas with him as well."

Barrick crushed the bottle with his hand at the mention of Vargas. He tossed the shattered glass and rose, "Get my ship ready."

He stomped past as Selena made her way to her ship. She looked to Amos, "What's his problem?"

"Vargas is coming."

She sighed, "Get the fleet ready. All hell's gonna break loose the second they spot each other."

Amos nodded, "Black Heart Bartley is coming to."

She nodded, "Tell the men I'll give the man who brings me his head a ship-full of gold. Two if they can get rid of Kearn and Vargas before Barrick gets there."

Amos looked concerned, "Ma'am...."

She grabbed him by the shirt collar and glared, "I've worked to damned hard building this fleet to let it fall apart over some petty grudge. If Barrick ruins this, I'll kill him myself."

(To be continued)


Cutlery Book 2: The Pirate Hunters part 2

Continued from here part 1

The Baracuda

Hana stood across from Bartley with a crudely carved wooden blade, "Why do I need to learn this."

Bartley put a hand on his hip, "You're throwin' star ain't like normal blades. Its a livin' thing that has to rest from time to time and it ain't a whole lot of use in a close up fight without power."

He then swatted her blade aside and stopped his a mere inch from her neck, "You want to live this life, you're gonna need to get better."

Angus leaned against the mast as he looked to Bartley, "I know I heard of you, somewhere."

Bartley shrugged, "That so?"

Angus searched his memory, "I heard tale of a pirate named Black Heart Bartley."

Bartley chuckled as he knocked Hana's blade away again, "Haven't been called that in years."

Angus grinned, "They say you killed a thousand men."

Bartley shrugged, "Bah, it was barely a hundred. Folks love to exaggerate."

Hana sighed as she dropped her blade, "If you're a pirate, what are you doing on a Navy ship."

"Well, see quite a while ago I ran into this young Navy Lieutenant in the middle of a raid. Big son of a b*tch who fought like a monster. In the middle of everything he'd got his sword knocked out of his hand and I thought he'd be easy pickings. He swatted my blades from my hands and beat me half to death with his bare hands.

A bit after that I was waiting for a judge to tell me I was being executed when that big man said I'd be more use on a Navy ship than at the end of a noose. Told'em if I made trouble he'd kill me himself. Been workin' for him ever since."

He then side stepped and tripped Hana as she tried to charge. He caught her just before her face hit the deck and yanked her back to her feet, "Don't be thinking I can't talk and fight at once."


Across the deck Vargas working out a kink in the anchor line when Akida stepped up behind him, "You think you're funny, sell sword?"

Vargas looked back, "I've been known to crack a joke or two."

Akida gritted his teeth and shoved Vargas who rolled his eyes, "You're just intent on being a cliche' ain't you?"

He then took a swing that Vargas easily dodged and followed it up with an attempted strike with his hook blade. Vargas caught his wrist and looked at it, "Triton's Claw? Guess you do have to give up a hand to use it."

Vargas then put a foot to his gut and kicked him away. He noticed the blade beginning to glow, "Controlling fish ain't gonna do you much good here."

Akida looked surprised at the blades activation but they were distracted by the ship suddenly dipping on the port side. Abasi and Kearn were sitting inside the cabin playing cards when they were both suddenly slung to the floor. Kearn sat up angrily, "What the hell is going on?"

On the Deck Vargas and Akida's eyes went wide as massive tentacles began wrapping around the ship. Vargas turned, "You called a damned Kraken?"

Akida looked just as shocked as Vargas as he began to stammer, "I didn't mean to."

"Do you even know how that hook works?"

Menace and Bedlam burst from the cabin to attack the beast followed by Kearn and the rest of the crew. The Admoral roared, "Get that thing the hell off my ship."

Angus was the first to hear the mast crack. He and Bartley grabbed it to keep it from coming down as the Changeling took the form of a support beam. Bedlam tore into one of the creature's tentacles as Menace leapt for its face. The creature fell back into the water taking the dogs with it.

As it moved to grab them Kearn stepped up on the bow and sent Leviathan to capture the Kraken and move it away as he ordered , "Drop a longboat and get my dogs."

As some of the crew got the dogs Kearn noticed a guilty look on Akida's face as Vargas stepped away from him. He marched over and stared down at the frightened sailor, "Did you call that thing?"

Akida looked as if his life flashed before his eyes as Vargas tried to slip away. Kearn caught him by the back of his shirt and dragged him back, "Two days in the brig, both of you."

Vargas seemed stunned, "He started it."

"And I'm ending it."


After seeing Vargas and Akida to the brig he came back up to see his shipwright, a middle aged man named Olaf. Olaf had an annoyed look as he stood by the mast of the mainsail, "I can patch it but if we get much more than a stiff breeze, I'd be shocked if it doesn't give."

Kearn sighed, "If we head north east we ought to meet up up with the God's Head in a day or so. We can do a proper repair there. In the meantime, do what you gotta do."


Down in the brig Vargas looked over to Akida's cell, "You haven't figured out how to talk to that hook, have you."

Akida turned away in a huff as Vargas chuckled, "First time I accidentally let the Wolf howl, I blew a wall out of an inn. Couldn't hear crap for near a day after. The inn keeper was mad as hell. My father laughed his ass off."

Akida turned, "I only got the thing a month ago."

Vargas gave a nod.


Captain Barrick sat on a barrel on a pier sipping rum from a bottle as a massive ship pulled into the harbor. He tossed the bottle to Amos as it docked and walked over. As the gangplank hit the dock a woman stepped down. Her name was called Selena and at her side was a claymore broadsword called the Midgard Serpent.

Barrick gave a bow and spoke in a mocking tone, "What brings the pirate queen to my humble island?"

She gave an annoyed look, "Stow it. Its been a long sail and I need some rum. We'll attend to business after."

He chuckled, "You're in luck. The Navy was generous enough to part with a few dozen barrels."

She got a slight grin, "That was awful nice of them."


Two days later.

The Barracuda pulled up to the God's Head. Angus and Hana looked in awe at the ship the size of a city. Bartley chuckled, "Nice boat, huh?"

Down in the brig The Master-At-Arms, named Castor unlocked the cell doors, "Olaf said to tell you, if you try to break his ship again he'll have you keelhauled across the God's Head."

Vargas got up from his cot with a stretch, "Been a while since he threatened that, the kid must have broke something big."

Castor nodded, "The kraken broke the mast for the mainsail. Bartley had to talk the old man out of coming down here and burring his ax in your heads."

As Kearn stepped off the ship a petty officer shouted, "Admiral On deck!"

The men around him gave a salute which Kearn returned. He then looked to the chief petty officer of the God's Head, Argus, "We got a mast that needs replacing."

Argus gave a sigh, "We should be able to handle it."

Kearn gave a curious look, "There a problem sailor?"

Argus looked over to Bartley as he stepped off the ship, "Barrick and that damned sister of yours have amassed a fleet of pirates and they claimed an island sitting in the middle of the biggest trade route between the Western Empire, Europa and the African Empire. They've been raiding any ship that comes through for weeks."

Bartley chuckled, "Selena loves stirring crap up, don't she."

Argus shrugged as he looked back to Kearn, "Supplies are getting a bit tight."

Kearn nodded, "You planing on sending someone after them?"

"We have, last try they sent back one sailor in a dinghy and killed the rest for show."

The Admiral sighed, "Well get my ship fixed up and I'll go take care of that for you."

They began to walk off when Lieutenant Casandra cleared her throat behind them. Kearn turned, "You're supposed to salute."

She gave a slight grin, "Who says you deserve it old man?"

He laughed, "That's my girl. Where's that grand daughter of mine? Got her a present from the Capitol."

Vargas stepped off the ship and Kearn pointed, "By the way, brought your cousin with me."

She gave Vargas a wave as she answered, "Kali is in school, it can wait."

She got a bit of a serious look, " I heard about Marcus and Victor."

Kearn shrugged, "Bah, they went out in a fight, they'd have had it no other way."

"I also heard about Vargas killing Harris."

"He's fine, and if he weren't he ain't the sort who talking it through would help."

Angus and Hana met Vargas by ship. Angus looked him over, "All rested up?"

Vargas stretched his back, "I've slept on stone softer than a Navy brig cot."

Hana gave a wary look, "Perhaps it will teach you manners."

"Doubt it."

(To be continued)


Cutlery Book 2: The Pirate Hunters part 1

See this first Book 1: part 12

Hana sat on the deck of the ship called The Barracuda trying to meditate. Bartley dropped down across from her with a half empty bottle of rum in hand, "What you doing, girl?"

She opened one eye with a sigh, "I'm trying to hear my blade's voice."

He took a swig from the bottle, "How's that going?"

Her eye narrowed into a glare. A booming voice came from behind, "You're trying to hard, kid."

She turned to see Kearn standing above her, "What do you mean?"

He stepped in front of her as he snatched the bottle from Bartley, "You still got work to do."

He then sat down wiping the top of the bottle before finishing it off, "Hearing the voice, doesn't have to be a chore. You just need to figure out what about you made it choose you."

She looked confused so he continued, "Look at Vargas, see the Wolf and Coyote want to fight and love a good challenge. Vargas is natural born fighter, who's always getting in over his head."

He then mentioned Angus, "That fella is a strange man, who seems up for anything. Because of that he has a strange weapon that can adapt to a variety of situations."

She then looked down to the Starburst, "So why did it choose me?"

He shrugged, "Hell if I know, we all have to learn to talk to them in our own way."


Angus stood in the Galley of the ship helping the cook, Luca, wash pots. He noticed a meat cleaver bigger than most battle axes, "What do you cut with that?"

Luca lifted it, "Mostly pirates. This is the Bone Chopper."

"What's it do?"

Luca grinned, "I'm sure you'll see."


Vargas was helping Dory swab the deck. He looked over to Hana talking to Kearn, "He letting her off easy, cause she's a girl?"

Bartley walked past, "Nope, she finished up her chores an hour ago. Maybe life on land has just made you lazy."

An old man with one eye named Abasi stood at the helm as a younger man named Akida, with a hook like blade where his left hand should be, spoke to him, "I don't like this."

Abasi turned, "What's that?"

"Hauling a couple sell swords and that girl. We ain't a cruise ship."

Abasi shrugged, "One of those sell swords is the Admiral's nephew on a mission from the High General of the Marshals and the former cabin boy of the ship you're standing on. The other two are earning their keep which is more than I can say for you at the moment."

He glared at Abasi who gave a bored look as he ordered, "Why don't you go find something to do. I have no ear for nagging today."


Hana looked to Kearn, "Why did your sword choose you?"

He chuckled, "Its complicated."

She gave him a blank stare. He sighed as he pulled out his blade, "This is the Leviathan, one of the seven great Serpents. She's a stubborn old hag who can hold a grudge forever. Maybe she just picked me because I was mad as hell when I found her."

"What do you mean, seven great Serpents?"

His eyes narrowed, "Don't they teach you kids anything? There are orders of blades, the great serpents are blades said to wield the power of the seas. The Leviathan has the crushing power of a Tsunami."

As he waved it the water around the ship rose. Hana's eyes went wide at this.


Many miles away a pirate captain named Barrick stands on the deck of a burning Navy ship. A sailor is brought before him. He smiles a bit as he pulls a cutlass. He aims it toward the man as the blade sprouts eight more, "Do you know what this is?"

The sailor gives a hateful look, "Its the Hydra."

Barrick nodded, "Very good, boy. I want you to watch this and then go tell your comrades what happens when the Navy comes to my island."

He hopped up on the edge of the ship and looked out on several other Navy ships as his crew retreated from them. He raised the hydra and with it nine massive waves rose in the form of knife blades. He then swung down causing the waves to obliterate the other ships.

He then tossed the young sailor in a dinghy with and oar, "I'd hurry along boy, my men aren't as kind as me."

Barrick then jumped over toward his ship as a large man covered in tattoos reached out to catch his hand. He heaved him up and as the captain arrived on the deck he looked to the man who caught him, "Thank you, Amos. Was there any loot to be had?"

Amos nodded, "Aye, sir. One was a supply ship. Had about ten gallons of rum."

Barrick smiled, "As good a reason as any to celebrate."


Navy flagship God's Head.

A small old man sat at a desk as an aide delivered a stack of papers. His name was Fleet Admiral Rikke. He glanced at the reports before tossing them in a basket, "Any word on when the rum's coming in. We're running a bit low."

The aide, a tall blonde woman named Lieutenant Casandra sighed, "I'll check on it, sir."

Before she left he asked, "Any word on how Kearn did at the Capitol?"

"The report is on your desk, sir."

He gave the stack of papers a hateful look, "I'm sure he did fine."

Casandra rolled her eyes as she walked away.


The Barracuda.

The men all sat down for dinner but before Vargas could start eating Akida sat across from him and dragged his plate away with his hook, "I don't think the sell swords should be eating with men. They can go eat with the dogs."

Vargas grinned a bit, "I'm sure the dogs would make for better conversation, but I'm comfortable right where I am."

He then yanked the plate back. Akida started to stand but Vargas glared up, "If you'd like to keep the hand you have, I suggest you stay down."

Akida continued but Abasi pushed him back down, "He'd kill you before you crossed the table. Now shut up and eat."

Akida grabbed a fork and took some food off his own plate as he stared hatefully at Vargas. Bartley looked to Kearn, "I got three days."

Kearn gave a wary look, "I got tomorrow."

The ships doctor Oliver looked over, "For what?"

Bartley sipped his rum before replying, "Until one of them starts a fight."

Luca sat down, "I'd have won the pool already if Abasi had stayed back."


Hana sat on the deck with a half eaten plate of food as she stared at the Starburst laying on the palm of of her hand, "Okay, why did you choose me?"

She paused as if waiting for an answer before sighing, "Oh, come on."

She then took it up in her fingers, "You're going to talk, because I will not be hidden away like a child while others defend me. I will be strong."

She then slumped her shoulders as she tossed it in front of her. It stopped mid air and floated as a smile came across Hana's face, "About damn time."

(To be continued)