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Found 21 results

  1. alderwitch


    Content Notice: Character Death Date: November 6, 2017 Location: Phantom's Sanctum Sanctorm in North Bay For once, it was a quiet Monday for Taylor. Halloween was always a busy time for her line of work, but the week afterwards, she'd come to expect the lull. Today, that happened to coincide with a day off with her boys' schools. Sprawled on her stomach on the large rug of her library, Taylor's brow furrowed as she tried to stay ahead of JJ in their lego assembly project. The latest addition to the haunted castle line was halfway assembled, but where Taylor wanted to follow the directions to the letter, her youngest had a tendency to... improvise. "I don't think that goes there," she told the seven year old at his efforts to attach the constructed wall to the top of the tower. "It'th better defenceth!" JJ lisped only to scowl as he heard the distortion that his fangs made to the words. With his brows creasing, he enunciated carefully with a seven year old's scorn, "What kinda keep has open access like that. It's just asking to be caught by surprise." "Well-- hrk-" Whatever Taylor had meant to say was lost, her voice falling from human into the otherworldly echo it took on when she released her hold on Prime. JJ's eyes could only widen as his mother froze in place, her body flickering almost frantically, as if she couldn't quite sync in with Prime as all the barriers between Here and Other failed for one awful, terrifying moment. Even at seven, JJ's other senses were established enough to feel the danger even if he didn't know what it was, or what caused it. As he'd been trained to since he was old enough to understand, JJ did exactly two things; "DAAAAAAAAAD!" And then the seven year old dhampir vanished into the Void, exactly as he was supposed to in case of a potential invasion of Prime.
  2. alderwitch

    Blood Drive

    Taylor had been planning on a quiet night at home, for once, after the brief trial of settling her five year old down to bed. Unsurprisingly, JJ was largely nocturnal by nature so keeping him on a regular schedule was rather critical to make sure he got enough rest to go to Nicholson. Once their son was down to bed, Taylor had fetched a book, intending to curl up in her chair in Jack's office until he was done with his evening's phone calls. Of course, if Taylor was having a quiet night, that more or less guaranteed that Jack's evening was just the opposite. That was how she found herself answering the alarm on one of the blood banks serving the vampiric community not all that long after sunset. "'Baby, can you get that for me?'" The ghostly effect of that echoing voice was somewhat ruined by her grumbled words. Phantom appeared in the back of the darkened blood bank, an imposing figure in her cloak and cowl that billowed in wind only the guardian seemed to feel. Despite her appearance, her muttering was more vaguely disgruntled wife than Chosen of Heshem, for all that it echoed hollowly in the empty room. Her eyes glowed briefly as she switched to scanning the room. Her spouse remained too charming by half. Still, how hard could it be to route whatever had set off the alarms? "Look, come on out. I'm not here to hurt you."
  3. Date: September 19, 2015 Taylor hadn't exactly given Elis all that much choice really. Oh, she'd promised that it was a nice, normal meeting with nice, normal people who just happened to have super powers. Other than that it was just a barbecue with friends who happened to be super parents, at least that was what she'd conveyed on the phone. In Taylor's defense, she really did feel that it was important for the relatively new super hero to have something like a support network. She certainly would have appreciated having had more of a network when she'd first started. Also, her definition for 'normal' might have gotten steadily skewed over the years. After all, Stesha was the most normal person that Taylor still knew - she just happened to be a goddess running her own nature planet preserve these days. Taylor's lack of sympathy for any attempts to cry off might have also been in part in her expectation that it took some strong arming to get people to attend parties. Jack certainly wasn't ecstatic about Taylor's 'we're all going as a family to this barbecue on Stesha's planet before dark hits. No, really. It's important to me' explanation for why everyone was being rousted on a Saturday, side dish in tow. With a soft 'pop' of displaced air, Taylor showed up in Ellis' living room. Huang had his after school job to keep him busy and Taylor didn't think that he'd enjoy a barbecue with mostly adults and the under ten crowd in attendance. Jack and JJ had already been dropped off with Jack entrusted with delivering the side dishes of potato salad and a cooler full of steaks for the barbecue. That she showed up inside the house rather than on the porch was in difference to Ellis secret identity but he might not see it that way. Except for the sudden appearance, Taylor looked normal enough - at least she wasn't in costume. With her hair pulled up in a bun and in a light shirt and denim shorts she could have been any fresh-faced college student. Well, except for the fact that she was still translucent.
  4. There was a field trip. To the Hunter Natural History Museum no less, which was basically from what Huang guessed a visit with his namesake minus the chance at decent dim sum. Reasonably enough he found both reason and means to evade the buddy system and do some research of his own. It was like ferris bueller's day off meets the craft, so bound to be full of awesome right? The sun overhead was still too bright as he slipped unseen out the employee entrance to the Hunter museum and jogged across the street toward the park. Pulling his sunglasses from the void, with some aid from the ever helpful denizens that allowed him to find his things despite his corner of the void looking precisely as one would expect a realm of chaos and shadow imprinted by the mind of a sixteen year old boy, he gathered his bearings. Finding a likely gate he began to make his way through the tree lined paths towards heroes' knoll hoping to use the sympathetic energies of the hero statues therein to trace a theory he had developed about the mysterious Hepcat. Of course keeping his eyes from the sky avoiding the brightness of the sun he took no notice of the gathering of unatural shadows over the knoll nor the slow thrumming build of dark magics in the heart of the monuments.
  5. The minivan might not have gone with the whole 'supernatural aesthetic' of the rest of the haunted manor but there was a surprising number of times that Taylor had to get around Freedom City, family in tow, and not have it be reasonable to stick the whole family in her cape for the ride. The minivan, however, was growing on her. Not only could she stuff all sorts of supplies - or unconscious bodies - in with the seats down but there was a built in vacuum. The Void did not have a built in vacuum. "Huang, come on! We're going to be late to the bus stop if we don't hurry," she called as she hustled JJ down the stairs and towards the side of the van. The five year old was yawning as, like the rest of his family, he was by and large a nocturnal creature. Sadly, he was forced to a daytime schedule with his own classes starting. "In the back with you, kiddo, we have to pick up one of Huang's classmates along the way." At least the little boy was fairly biddable when tired as all he wanted to do was get into the car and nap until he was stirred once more. Taylor stepped up in to the van to buckle him into his seat and glanced into the back... which was apparently empty. "I swear I told him to put his things in the car this morning..."
  6. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Four lines, Phantom, p2

    © K Keppeler

  7. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    I was going to work on my to-do list but instead doodled the end of this thread. Ink and color work will wait until I whittle down my pending requests a bit.

    © k keppeler

  8. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    It's gone a little Image... Iron age up in here. Complete with Background!

    © K Keppeler

  9. December 23, 2010 It's a cold and dreary day in late December, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere where most people live. It's no better in Freedom City, where a heavy snowfall last night has transformed into dirty ice and slush by the unaesthetic mechanics of life in a major urban area. It's a good day to be inside with a strong cup of hot cocoa or eggnog, letting ceremonial libations shake away the incipient holiday blues. Luckily this is generally a quiet time for superheroes: most supercriminals are people too, and even the ones without Christmas cheer have been socked away at home thanks to the lousy weather. You need a good reason to be out tonight, whether it's carrying out the duties of a government agent's patrol, hunting for last-minute Christmas presents, or else dealing with problems that have nothing to do with the season. - "Growing tired of these lies," said Avenger, leering malevolently down at the snitch he'd cornered in the Fens back alley. There were new heroes active in the Fens, he knew, but these were _his_ streets, and he was possessive enough, and secretive enough, that he preferred to keep his own council even when dealing with notorious criminals. "Christmas will be difficult in prison. Worse in prison hospital." He grabbed the frightened man by the collar and jacked him up against the wall with one hand, a murderous look in his eyes. "Where's the shipment?" "Oh God, don't hurt me, please!" Mondale Tommahan whimpered, still wearing the shattered sunglasses that Avenger had broken on his face and then neatly put back there after dragging him away for interrogation. He'd heard all about the notorious vigilante, about his brutality and uncompromising violence, and watching him tear through his friends in the Irish mob in their favorite bar that evening had certainly put the fear of Avenger into him. "Look, the X-Ray stuff was just a joke, man? What kind of scuzzball would take naked pictures of Lady Liberty-" "A SCUZZBALL LIKE YOU!" Damn, Jack loved the look in their eye when he _yelled_. "Already know you inside. Time to show you!" He went for the machete on the wall, the one that usually had them wetting themselves before his hands were on the blade, but his nighttime exertions were suddenly interrupted as a brilliant white light shone on the wall in a pattern of brilliant hexagons!
  10. Taylor had been stretched to the breaking point and then some. After some terse words exchanged with Jack (and perhaps a chair or two thrown), she'd been forced back onto yet another emergency but something had tickled in the back of her mind. Had been tickling in the back of her mind so this time, after the emergency, she'd waited around and spent some time doing some serious scrying and spell casting to check her suspicions. What she'd found left her more coldly furious than Taylor had ever thought she could be. Normally, her return to the library was soundless as she filtered in from one reality to another but this time, Phantom ripped time and space asunder, leaving bolts of eldritch energy flashing and crackling through the windows and a fell wind knocking over papers and sending them whipping around the room. She seemed unaware or uncaring of the magical storm she was causing in the library as she tore through it, tossing priceless volumes aside in some sort of personal quest.
  11. Since early November, Erin had been called much less to watch little JJ and with a good deal more forewarning for normal things like 'date nights' or an afternoon of extra work, rather than several days a week. The Faretti's themselves had seemed happier and getting handed over JJ's care by Taylor had grown a lot more common. The house that Erin provided directions too led them first through the palatial estates of North Bay, each more grand than the last. It was one of the oldest and wealthiest parts of Freedom City and the drive took them down a street that began winding its way up the hill. The estate that they came too was... a little different from the rest of the environs. It was old, certainly, and expensive but the entire thing was surrounded by a large stone wall with a large wrought iron gate that opened without Erin having to buzz in. She'd called ahead, thankfully, so they were expected. Once the gate shut, the lawns looked a little overgrown and the manor itself was old and with gothic stylings. Behind the house there was even a graveyard to complete the spooky environment with cracked tombstones and even a mausoleum. The drive, however, was well kept gravel. The front door was thick and heavy, with an overly elaborate knocker attached to it.
  12. Date: August 18th, 2010. Evening. Freedom City was no stranger to flying people in its skies. One such figure, carrying a black doctor's bag, was flying east, from the ultra-tech sector of Hanover to the posh Old World neighborhoods of North Bay.   "Jack? Taylor?," Archeville's rich tenor voice called out as he touched down in their front yard. "Sorry I am a bit late; dings got a bit... messy at de laboratory." Doktor Archeville had been by many times since the birth of Avenger & Phantom's child, in part because he knew how stretched everyone's schedule got to be.  
  13. (a week before the birth of Jack's son) West End was a good neighborhood, usually, but it had its dark spots. The shadow of the old waste recycling plant, closed a few years ago for urban renewal purposes, had left a block of empty warehouses along Miller Avenue. From the outside, the battered old brick industrial warhorse at 4686 looked just like plenty of the run-down former industrial warehouses in the area: windows covered or boarded up, brick and concrete walls covered with daring gang tags and the vandalism of neighborhood hoodlums. It was dark outside, and it was raining, the lightning overhead reflecting off the spattering drops in flash after flash of light. The rain was an obstacle, but the darkness of the night (and the broken streetlights) was nothing to Avenger's eyes. He had experience with people hiding secret facilities, after all. A faint light leaked out around the window coverings and fresh marks showed the doors had been opened recently. He'd learned from a contact in Freedom's medical business that 'they' were making max here, and in gigantic quantities. Jack hated the stuff. He hated the memories of the rush of addiction, he hated the feeling of false bravado, and he hated the memory of being a weak, helpless addict. He was going to break these people in two.
  14. Date: June 2010 The monthly Interceptors meeting had gone well enough, for all that no one on the team cared overmuch about the business side of things. What really mattered was that their financing was going well, their publicity was at an all-time high, and in the wake of the Grue invasion, things were going very well indeed for the defenders of West Freedom. Avenger had been bored through most of it, though he'd missed a couple of minutes to slip away and take calls from Phantom from that other dimension. Getting her and Jack Jr. out of the house but for their daily visits had been the right safety precaution after Dracula's attack, but it had given him free time: perhaps too much free time. You know what they say about idle hands... When he'd approached Dr. Archeville about testing the brownstone's security for him, he'd originally only planned to stay a couple of hours, but truthfully the sheer excitement of the moment had kept him around longer than he'd intended. It beat looking at a barely-used nursery. Wonder if that means he'll pay me more...or _less_? Truthfully, maybe lurking around the Casa del Interceptor for a whole day and a night had been a little unethical. For Avenger, at least, it was really hard to sort out what was and what wasn't the right thing to do when it came to matters of privacy and watching people at night while they slept. He decided to split the difference and just let them know. Don't need to tell them who I'm working for, I guess. Appearing in one of the empty seats at the table just as the meeting was wrapping up, Avenger waved. "Evening. Just popped in to let you know you need to fix your security systems. I'd recommend something that can monitor air movements."
  15. After the near disastrous encounter with Darkstar and Stesha Jack moved through the void for a short time to figure out where to look next. First thing he had to find out was exactly when it was. Luckily he had a good disguise that few to none would question shaking down informants for the 'word on the street'. Thus he stepped out of the void on the roof of a small apartment complex on the Westside of freedom looking for a likely target. His earlier encounter and relative inexperience with field work left him not putting his all into hiding but he cut an imposing figure where he lurked on the roof.
  16. Date: June 2010 A few days before Avenger returned to the Interceptors' brownstone, the telephone rang at the Espadas apartment during one of those times Erik was there. Ellie picked it up and after a short, "Yes, he's here. May I say who's calling please?" exchange, handed the phone to her brother with an eyeroll. "For you." The voice on the other end was warm, friendly, and very familiar. "Hey, Erik. It's Jack. Taylor and I wanted to meet with you and make sure we had the ground rules in place for the game over the weekend. Are you busy now, or should we get together another time?"
  17. Date: May 23rd, 2010 The city was in sad shape, but the day had been saved, but barely. The heroes realized that they needed to better themselves should such a dire situation ever arise again. An old abandoned arena, probably from the hey day of Circus Maximus would prove to be a way to better themselves. This was a venue where the heroes could spar away from prying eyes, on neutral ground and best of all, not worry about hurting anyone. Word was spread through the grapevine in the hero community. Take the evening off to come test your mettle against the other heroes. No one knew definitively who was coming, though heroes had their suspicions. But among all of these unknowns, there was one truth to the whole matter, tonight was going to be an interesting night.
  18. Those books. Those movies. You've all read about them, you've all seen previews for them, even if you think the writer is an incompetent hack. Horror fans all over the world have condemned Her writing as just petty, stupid teenage romance that takes the terror out of some of the legendary monsters of worldwide folklore. But you've never really stopped to think about them, have you? Who'd have an interest in promoting a series of books that depict murderous, blood-soaked monsters as perfect lovers and the ideal soulmates for weepy teenage girls? That's right Us. I used to hate that writer too, and how embarrassingly cliched and pathetic she made us look. Until I started talking to people; especially until I started talking to superheroes. Jokes about glitter and Edward used to annoy me, you know? They really did. Until I started thinking about what it really meant. Let me start by saying a few words about what I am. I am the damned undead; a soul rejected by God that walks the Earth by night to feast on the blood of the living. I am a juggernaut of my kind, barely affected by the worst of our weaknesses, with only the power of faith to repel me and the Sun, that damnable sun overhead weakening a few of my abilities. There are no doors that can stand against me, no eyes that can see me, even of people with superpowers and super-science. And I should know, I've tested them all. I think about killing people not because I hate them, not because I fear them, but because when my mind wanders I think they might taste really good. Make no mistake. I've made a choice, an ethical decision, to put aside what I am to build a better world for my people and my city. Through great good luck and what I hope is good example, I've persuaded a dozen of my kind in this town to put aside what they are so they can keep what humanity they have. But I have no illusions about what I'm clinging to here, and no illusions about the thing I am at the core of my being. I'm a husband, a father, a superhero, and I am not a man. I am a thing that hunts and feeds on men. I've done it. And though I regret the killing now, there were times when I enjoyed it very much. But no one really cares. I mean sure, Stesha despises me for what I did to her before my control was better, and Taylor's not happy about the times I fed on her, and Ace is certainly keeping a watchful eye on me. Dark Star's kind of pissed too,. But everyone else? It's all jokes about those books and that hero, about glitter and sparkling. And I go on being what I am, doing what I do, and no one really seems to give a damn. All because somebody, somewhere, had the best idea in the history of anything. How do you make people let vampires into their lives, their home, their world? Get the humans to laugh at us first. April Fool's.
  19. Avenger Hockey Mask Midtown Jack sat in his lush apartment, a glass of blood in hand, studying the mute skull-face in the chair opposite him. "You were supposed to be a lark, you know. Just a simple little diversion for my boring mornings and evenings. Look at me now, thanks to you." He took a drink. "I'm a superhero, I've got..." He swirled the blood in his glass and thought of Taylor. "I've got a woman I love. A real, human woman, friends, and...half the city knows what I am. Most of the vampires know too." He stared down at what he drank. "I don't even know if they realize the full implications of my existence." He set the glass down, looking intently at the hockey mask across from him. "God, it's so hard to remember how living people act. How living people think." He scrubbed his hands through his thick, glossy black hair. "It's just a joke to most of them, you know? Oh, look at the vampire who's a superhero, how very cornball and heroic." Gently, carefully, he replaced the glass on a nearby table. "I'm not like them. I'm not like them at all, really." A crackling fire burned in his apartment's fireplace, the light casting an eerie red and orange glow over Jack and his surroundings. "That's what I'm really afraid of," he finally said. "Maybe the only thing I really am afraid of. One day that particular mask is going to slip, and Taylor's going to see me at my worst. Or Scarab, or any of the others who've basically trusted me for so very long..." He shuddered, rising to his feet as he picked up the glass again from the nearby end table. "So what do I do? I put a hockey mask on and I go out and beat up muggers. And gods, and extra-dimensional tyrants, and...God." He rubbed his eyes, studying the mask again. "I can't keep doing that." Walking up to the mask, he bent down and studied the plastic most carefully, remembering his long-ago argument with the Scarab. Not so long ago, I guess, in the grand scheme of things. "The hockey mask is about scaring people. About hurting them, even when I'm supposed to be their protector." He touched the plastic. "If I'm going to be a hero, a real hero, who actually inspires people...this is one mask I don't need."
  20. Avenger stood on a balcony in the Boardwalk overlooking a lovely view of the ocean. He wasn't paying attention, though, not when he was dangling a low-level informant for the Russian mafiyah over the edge of the balcony, keeping an iron grip on his ankle, and waiting for the man to talk. Jack tuned out the man's sobs and pleas as he waited for him to break...but as it happened, it was Avenger who broke first. Behind his mask, he began to sing. "Never knew I could feel like this. It's like I've never seen this guy before, I could make him vanish with a kiss Every night eat him more and more." He leaned close and added, his voice gentle and loving, "Listen to my heart, Can you hear it sing? No. There is no life in me, There is no thing! Seasons may change, winter to spring. I'll live now 'till the end of time." The man shrieked incoherently as Avenger nearly dropped him, waving him wildly around in the air in tempo with his sudden jerky lyrics! "No matter what you say, this night is ending my way!" He shook the man violently, making the flab in his cheeks shake like a bowl full of jelly. "Come on and stand your ground! For life, freedom, and man!" His voice went up, and up, echoing off the walls now. "You won't fool the children of Draculya! You won't fool the children of Draculya!" He took another step out, leaping up onto the railing. "My gift is your life..." His voice trailed off for just a moment, but the rhythm of the moment hadn't ended. "I will love life. I will save life. Until my dying day..." He leaned close, his mouth right next to the man's ear. "MY WAY" Only when the madness stopped did a shaken Avenger realize that the mobster had been yelling, "No speaking English! No speaking English!" All in all, maybe it was better that way. Maybe it was better to just let this all be forgotten. EDIT: The tune is from the reprise of "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge.
  21. Friday, Feb 13th, 2008 I remember the first person I killed. It was early on, before I could control my impulses, when I was so damnably hungry that I was ready to chew my own lips bloody just to get at my own vital fluids. (That particular trick doesn't work, by the way. It's like trying to make a baby solo; the right parts just aren't there.) Claudia had gone out for a meeting with Melinda, leaving me alone in the apartment for like the third or fourth time. This was all about three years ago, now, I'd only been a vampire for about a week and a half. She'd forgotten to feed me. No, I'd forgotten to ask for food. I was so besotted with her, so besotted with the joys of undead grace and power, that I assumed I could hold back that urge gnawing at the back of my mind. You ever have to go to the bathroom but put it off because you were busy doing something really fun? It was kind of like that. Except giving myself indigestion, I was putting off the taste of a stranger's blood pouring down my throat. I can't even tell you what that's like. I really can't. You know, I tell myself that my objection to blood banks is ethical, that it's not right for someone who's already a predator to feed directly from the body of the community. And maybe that's true, but it doesn't change the fact that it's so _good_ coming straight from the flesh, a delicious, curling shot of sex and food and every single carnal appetite wrapped up into one irresistable package that just goes on and on. Anyway. My murder. Maybe I'd have come through it all right if not for that burglar. The doors were locked and I hadn't figured out how to break into mist yet, so I'd have been stuck there chewing my lip and clawing at the walls until Claudia got back if that uppity little thug hadn't forced the lock. Claudia liked me that way; she liked me hungry, needy, dependent. I'd been that way when we met, you see, except back then it was for max and zombie powder instead of blood. She'd fixed that little addiction, yessir. I'm changing the subject again? Yeah, yeah, I am. Anyway, the guy cracked the door open with a crowbar. Pretty simple stuff; I don't know it says that I hadn't thought to try that yet. I'll admit I'm not a hugely smart guy, and I wasn't as strong then as I am now. So he kicks open the door, sees me standing in the hallway with red eyes and fangs, and I see him, a walking eight pints of hot, pumping blood. God, he looked so surprised! I grabbed him by the collar and hauled him inside, jacked him up against the wall and shoved my teeth into his neck. I hadn't figured out then how to make it feel good, so he'd have been screaming before I hit his windpipe. I don't really remember it very well; when you get that hungry, all you really think about is food. It was a good thing no one else lived on that floor, I tell you what! I finished tearing his throat out about the time Claudia came home, and I remember looking down at the dead guy at my feet and thinking... _Nothing._ That's the thing. Oh, I was scared that I'd be found out, that Claudia would be angry with me or we'd have to move, but as for the man I'd just murdered? The throat I'd just torn out like a rabid, hungry dog? (OK, I did feel that: way too much flesh!) I felt _nothing_. Claudia had a lot to say; she screamed at me and beat me, like she did back then, and left me to clean up the mess while she called the disaster cleanup service the vampires own. After all, now she had a lot of work to do! I'm not like that now. I tell myself that every time I go out at night. Killing is wrong; killing as a superhero is especially wrong. I can live as what I am and not kill, even if it would be fun, even if I could get away with it scot-free, even if I was sure nothing would come of it other than a hot, sensual meal of blood and death. And I believe it, too. I don't want to kill. I don't want to be a murderer! But my world is soaked in blood. I have killed three humans and multiple vampires. I have used my fists, my teeth, my claws, and anything else I needed to get the job done. I can't think of a friend I have, outside of Avenger's friends, who hasn't killed right in front of me, or close by me, or to my knowledge. Sometimes it's casual, sometimes it's shocking, but they've all felt heart's blood on their fingers, or tasted it on their lips. When I see a pretty woman, I think of her thighs and neck as much as her breasts; when I see a tough, dangerous man I think about how easy it would be to bleed him out. I live that way every night, and every day. I stop myself today, tonight, tomorrow. I have willpower I didn't have when I was younger; I can restrain my blood lusts. I don't need to kill when I'm hungry anymore. But, see, here's the thing. The sun doesn't burn me. Fire, blessed weapons, stakes, silver; they don't hurt me more than they'd hurt anyone else. It is entirely possible that I will live forever. I can save a thousand lives; I can break the gangs of Freedom beneath my fists, I can fight a demon, a monster, a terrorist, and do it all in time to get laid at the end of the night. I can do it all. I will kill again. And again. Forever.
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