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[June Vignette] Through Another's Eyes

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Through Another's Eyes


Do you have a minion? a sidekick? or even just a friend or relative? failing that, a bystander!


Write a vignette about your heroes exploits from somebody else's vantage point. It may be a chance for a sidekick or minion to shine and be heroic themselves! Whoever your choose, and whatever they do, they should be involved in the story themselves, as should the hero in question. They could be heroic, they could be a victim, they could be a bystander. 


The thread could be written in third person, or in first person (such as the 'others' account of the event to his/her diary, a reporter, or just a verbal account). 


When/Where: Your choice.


How Long: At least one page length in your word processor of choice. 

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Kippers, Capers, and Horseless Chariot Races


Charles Blakely’s Diary


17th May, 2014.


M’lord Lockwood arose early today, full of vivid enthusiasm, more so than normal. A clear sign of when his passions are inflamed is the consumption of kippers for breakfast. Today, he devoured three, and with only the very barest of mastication in doing so. Alas, such consumption ‘oft leads to the embedding of fish bone in M’lords throat.


T‘would appear M’lords vexation is on a most peculiar case, even for his unusual ichor. I press not for elucidation, and yet I am pleased to say his lordship chooses to banter about cases with my humble self. And, dare I say it, I am not absent of suggestion or usefulness in these matters.


19th May, 2014


I drove his Lordship to the scene of the crime today. He has been asked to investigate murder most perplexing. A young woman, newly betrothed, found strangled. Her husband, a man of significant wealth and power, is not keen on his Lordships involvement, a fact that aroused suspicion promptly dulled. He has two cast iron alibies at the Gentlemens club of the evening, who swear he was there at time of death. His Lordship is a polymath of most impressive learning and intellect, and yet he is not a man of medicine (although I daresay had he followed that path he would have made an excellent one). He did not perform post mortem examination himself, I am pleased to say, for it always disquiets a Christian Soul to see the dead from their proper grave, and proper rest. But I am lead to understand that the particular method of murder, that of strangulation, allows one to accurately determine time of death.


20th May 2014


Despite a reputable alibi, his Lordship did not rest on the matter of newly wedded and bereaved husband. It would appear that his instinct bore some fruit. His Lordship was a man of considerable appetites in regard to sexual proclivities, including, as the euphemism goes, batting for the other side. Far be it from me to express shock or moral indignity at such activity, I am too old to judge, and my time in the army opened my eyes to the variation in wants and needs that beat in the heart of every man. Besides, his Lordship himself is well known by rumour, and in deed by fact, to freely pass affection in nocturnal activities, and not only to members of the fairer sex.


But regrettably such inclination is not free from shame, or without social ripples. The husband of the victim had, it seemed, been blackmailed by his new bride, who had procured most sturdy proof of his desires, and that they had occurred after matrimony. Understandably, she was engorged with furious mist, and had sought revenge through extortion. And, as surely as domino falls after domino, it seems that husband may have sought solution by extinguishing her life.


21st May 2014


The alibi is false! His Lordship is a genius when mechanical devices both regular and novel are considered. He had examined the clocks at the sedate gentleman’s club where our suspect had frequented. Tampering! A clever but effective trick, to speed the passage of time on clockwork piece, and recover it in early hours of morning. It had appeared to said honest Alibis’ that ‘twas earlier in night than truly it had been. And fingerprints of such tampering were recovered! It would seem now that the net is closing.


22nd May 2014


What day ‘twas! I drove his Lordship to residence most luxurious of said suspect. There, as his Lordship delights in doing, the evidence was presented. To startling effect!


“The game is up, Sir!†demanded his Lordship of the murderer, who went white with fear. His gabbling soon turned to desperation, as he fled with all pace. We both set after, as two men, and ‘twas well we did. Suspect had procured a handgun and fired at his Lordship and I. A lucky escape for me, but not so for his Lordship, who had a nasty wound to his leg.


We both drew revolvers in response. I have come to carry one, I confess, as life in his Lordships service often draws such drama. And I was glad I did today.


Hampered as we were by his Lordships injury, which bled in unnerving manner, we could not catch our quarry before he had reached his horseless chariot. A sleek modern  one, by my reckoning, although such styles do not appeal to my Victorian eye. The nature of the car our quarry had stolen, expensive, sleek, and with rumbling engine, reminds me of the writings of Doctor Freud.


Our own vehicle, named Bessie by his Lordship, who also had the wit and ingenuity to build her, was a far more stylish affair, with sparkle of lining and much more sturdy architecture. It has a magnificent side horn, and wond’rous steam powered engine. As it transpired, it was equal to the suspects inelegant and gauche sports chariot.


And so the chase was one. His Lordship hobbled into Bessie, and requested that I drive. “Tally ho, Blakely, take the wheel! Do England proud!â€


As it happens, and the Lordship is aware, I am quite fond of driving horseless chariots. In the army, I used to the first models used for troop transportation. Quite an advance on riding or perambulation, I should say.


Whilst I am not a professional chariot racer, I dare say I know my way around the wheel and the motor better than most, and in this case, better than our quarry. As his Lordship pressed hand boldly to leg, to stench flow of blood, he urged me on. “Faster! Faster!â€


“Such velocituous propulsion vexes me, I cannot garuantee his Lordships safety!†I complained, although confess now, to these pages, that such speed did tickle my heart and veins.


“Embuggerance to safety!†replied his Lordship with uncharacteristic profanity ill suited to his station. Still, the pain of his wound and the thrill of the chase must provide excuse. At his request, I increased pressure on the engine pedal. And, though peril surely ensured, I do believe that said pedal brushed the metal beneath it.


Crack! Came the carefully aimed shot of his Lordship, a well placed bullet that shredded tire of quarry. He promptly lost control and for one heart freezing moment, I feared he might toll and cause most dire injury to himself and others. But instead, he spun, and came to rest, white knuckled, and pliant of mood. Twas then but formality, arrest by local men of the police force, and surely, conviction to come.


A day full of excitement and danger, a day will come again, and indeed oft occurs with Lord Lockwood. Days to be feared, days to be savoured too. For it is only in times of danger that one feels most alive. Perhaps, whilst I enjoy the luxury of Steam Manor and its trimmings, I have never really left the army. I am too old to march and fight like I have done, but my position in Lord Steams Service seems to suit most handsomely. 

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The sun was beating down hot, and Derek felt the sweat trickling down his back and soaking into his white undershirt and heavy, green, cotton tunic he wore over that. The leather riding boots didn’t let his feet breath, and the brown trousers and green felt hat made him feel like an idiot, but he kept a smile on his face with an actor’s skill and waved his hands at the crowd. “Come forth, all good gentlefolk of the land,†he called out. “Come to this here yard and try out to join Robin Hood, and my Merry Men!†Behind Derek, men in tunics and jodhpurs and stupid felt hats sparred and tumbled and flirted with women in period dresses, and around them the whole madness of the Renaissance Faire tried to drown them out.

Derek would have been mortified for anyone on his soccer team to see him in a silly costume, but it was an extra job for a few weekends and he really needed the money. He had expected to move carts around or roast chickens on spits, but when the actor for Robin Hood had shown up drunk the second day in a row, they had grabbed all of the Merry Men and tried to find one of them that could say the lines without stumbling, and Derek gave the best reading. So here he was, gathering a crowd to watch his archery. He barely noticed the two well-cut girls near the front of the crowd, one with very visible muscles and the other with a much-pierced face.

He set his feet facing the target, just like Bowman in the comics, drew the bowstring up against his chest, and let fly, spearing the target a couple handswidth from the bullseye. He felt good about that, even though he knew that his arms would be aching by the end of the night, and he rubbed at the red spot on his forearm that the string always snapped against as he turned back to the crowd. “Well, my good gentlemen and gentlewomen? Can you do better than Robin Hood?â€

“Yes.†The tone was flat and dismissive, coming from the lady with the piercings. Her eyes were hard as she stared at Derek, and he was taken aback.

“Well, then I welcome you to try, young lady.†His voice was a bit more brittle, a bit harsher, than it should have been, but he hadn’t been expecting such cold hostility and the only thing he could do was put her, perhaps cruelly, on center stage herself.

If the girl was scared of performing, she didn’t show it, snatching the bow and the offered arrow. She looked at both, then back at Derek. “Where are the rest of my arrows?â€

“One at a time, please. Everyone gets a shot, after all!â€

The girl sniffed and turned to the target. Her form was different, side-on to the target and holding the bow straight and tall. In one smooth motion, without any sign of trembling or hesitation, she nocked, drew back to her ear, and loosed. The arrow landed square in the bullseye.

Derek’s eyebrows climbed into his stupid felt hat and the crowd broke into spontaneous applause. “That is a very, very fine shot. Uh, m’lady.†He coughed, momentarily at loose ends. “Would you like to perhaps put on a demonstration?â€

The woman narrowed her eyes and gave a very slight smile.

Fifteen minutes later there was a rough firing line of people standing edge-on to the targets, pulling as far back as possible, checking the position of their elbow, and loosing several arrows before changing their stance. Tona Baudin walked away, Mali Benjawaman at her said. “You’re so serious about your bow shooting,†Mali said to her, mock serious. “Most of those folks just came here to walk around in the sun and eat roast chicken.â€

Tona shrugged one shoulder, smiling a tight smile. “You get very serious about punchy movies,†she pointed out. “Anyway, let’s get some of that chicken.â€

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Pitch: Axel “Grease†Robinson


Desert Heat


“You boys looking for trouble?â€


Axel “Grease†Robinsons chop shop wasn’t the cleanest, either legally or physically. It had, as they say, a reputation. Hard men, and harder girls, frequented “The Greaseâ€, a sprawl of oil, motors, and engine parts.


Axel had a reputation, of course. He ran with the infamous Blacksmokers gang, who charged around the south of the country raising hell.


Literally, at times, raising Hell.


Axel knew Carlos Cantos, respected him even. He had seen Carlos do things, things that shouldn’t be possible. Black magic, sorcery, devil worship, it was all of these things, and more, and none of them. When the whole gang imploded, set upon by law enforcers who seemed just a little bit too keen on enforcement, and a not a lot keen on law, Axel got away and vowed never to touch magic again.


Still, the rumours hung around. The Blacksmokers, and Carlos Cantos, they had a legacy.


And then, there was Pitch, the blazing, smoking motorbike heroine of freedom city. Although plenty religious folks thought she was a devil. Only Axel knew her as Carlos daughter, Carmen.


Axel leaned back, taking it slowly and calmly but fixing three four men with a steady gaze. Street thugs, by the look of them. Something edgy about them though. Their tattoos were the normal mix of devils, bikes, and hearts, but Axel saw one or two that looked suspicious. Like these boys were dabbling in black magic.


“Nah, pop! We are the trouble!†came the reply with a haw haw.


Axel was no stranger to violence. He reckoned he could kick their ass, one on one. Maybe even two of them. Four of them was gonna hurt. He handled the wrench in his hand meaningfully.


“Good for you boys†he answered steadily. “But the Grease ain’t into the trouble business. Leastways, not trouble like you. So unless you got a bike needs seeing to, Ill be seeing you…†he said, hard as Iron.


“Word was, you ran with the Blacksmokers, pops†snapped back one, unintimidated. “You ran with the man…Carlos Cantos. Just so happens we got something that you might know something about…†he said, on the edge of confidence.


Their leader brought out a solid wooden box, no bigger than your fist, but scrawled with all sorts of runes and occult symbols. Axel was no expert, but he could make a good guess. It was a demon trap. A bottle for a genie. Except the genie was much more malignant than the fairy tales.


“If you boys know whats good for you, bury that thing in the desert and walk away, forget you ever had it†he told them seriously.

“No way man, we got ourselves a little bit of Blacksmoker power, and you want us to just throw it away, what are you, crazy?â€


“I’ve been crazy, son. It takes a while to crawl back from there, if you can crawl at all†he said.


“You damn well tell us about this, or we’ll knock it out of you, grandpa!†screamed the furious leader.


“You can try, son. You can try…†replied Axel.


He had been around enough to know that this would end in violence. The odds were against him, and he was in no mood to wait. He took the initiative, slamming his wrench down on the leaders arm, cracking it neatly. Before they could react, he got another blow in, a head blow that knocked out one of the wingmen.


But then the bikers got back. Blows were traded back and forth, and Axel fought hard and brave. But even with the leader having a broken arm, and one of them out cold, he had two big men to handle, and when they grabbed him, he went down. He got an elbow and a fist in, making sure they would pay for their attack, but then the boots started raining down on his body.


“We’ll be back old man, and next time, you show us!â€




“They did a good number on you, Grease. You are lucky to be in one piece…†sighed Carmen, bringing Axel some coffee. Axel had asked for beer, but she had refused. The old biker was a sight, to be sure. Broken nose, black eyes, and all sorts of livid marks over his body. He could barely see his eyes were so swollen. Fortunately, nothing broken.


Not this time, anyway.


“I’ve been through worse†he replied gruffly. “Not much worse, I grant you. But I came through..â€


“That must have been twenty years ago, Grease. You aren’t a young man anymore!â€


“No, I’m older, and tougher†he defied her.


Axel sat back, wincing in pain. He really didn’t want to get Carmen into any more trouble than she already had, what with the Cantos legacy shovelling problems onto her life. But right now, well, he needed her. The Grease shop had been overturned, wrecked, and he was in no shape to fight back another round of the young men.


“But not tough enough it seems†he sighed, furious with himself. At least he had given them a good fight, he thought.

“So, when they come back, I thought Pitch might scare them off, take that damned demon box offa them. Maybe spank their asses too…†he said, guilty for bringing Carmen into his problems.


“’Nuff said†said Carmen, more than happy to help. “We got each other’s backs, remember? You don’t owe me nothing, you ain’t my daddy†she said, firmly with her teeth grinding slightly.


Axel sighed. “He wasn’t all bad, you know, its just…he just kinda sucked into himself you know? In the early days, he was all bright eyed, loyal…â€


Carmen gave him a look as if she was having none of it. Axel didn’t meet it, but conceded. She ended up with a bound demon and a permanent limp because of him. Don’t try to make her see him for anything else…




“Knock Knock, Grandpa…we thought we would pay you a get well visit†laughed the leader of the pack as the four men entered the Grease shop. The leader had his forearm in a plaster cast, and one of his wingmen had a bandage wrapped round the head. Yet another had a furious black eye. They had not assaulted Axel without some cost.


Axel sat on the chair, not moving, but giving them a dirty grin. Partly seeing the war wounds he had delivered them, partly because he knew what was coming next.


“Boys, I am so pleased to see you. Give you some of that sweet Southern Hospitality you kids deserve!†laughed Axel, despite his pain. In his minds’ eye he played out what would happen next.


“Save it Grandpa! You gonna be passing teeth out of your backside for the next week if you don’t tell us about this box!†screamed the furious leader.


“Come and get it, sweet cheeks!†taunted Axel, leaning forward in his chair and giving a grin through cracked and bruised lips. He didn’t mind the pain, not one bit.


As they stepped forward to serve a second helping of thuggery, Pitch entered stage left. She was smoke, flame, fiery eyes, metal and leather, as if she had stepped out of the cover of a heavy metal vinyl.


“Bury it deep boys…†she said, laughing fumes and fire from her mouth.


Axel wondered what Tazel, the bound demon in Carmen’s belly, was saying to her. Probably imploring her to release the demon, take it for herself, something like that. Most likely, Carmen had told the demon to shut the hell up.


Pitch whipped up flame, and cracked black chains around the thugs. She held one up by his throat and propelled him across the Grease shop, with unnatural strength. She ignored the screams of fear, ignored the pleas for mercy. All she wanted was to make sure they would never approach Grease again. And that meant putting the fear in them. And even a few bruises for the next day.

In desperation the leader of the thugs brought forth the little wooden box, and tore it open.


There was, Axel remembered, a sound. A sound of freedom, of release, like a sigh and a cheer at once. Then dust…dust like the desert, like the carbon blackness encrusted on the exhaust pipe of an old car. It was like a dervish, a cloud, malignant and full of wrath.


“Thank you for freeing me, mortal†came the hiss, like a high pressure snake. “I shall suck the marrow from your bones in eternal gratitude!â€


The thugs were now either stone stiff scared, or mercifully unconscious. All the air was taken up by the demon from the box. Axel felt himself coughing, his eyes watering. But he pulled himself out of the chair, full of determination, oblivious to screaming muscles and bones.


He saw Pitch and the Demon wrestle, of a kind. Smoke and flame on one side, dust and heat on the other. Neither seemed to hurt each other, but the dust demon kept circling around Pitch, and finally into her mouth and nose, causing a fluttering dangerous flame.


“Ah! Tazel! It is you in this mortal’s body! It has been an age, has it not! Do you remember how I could snuff out your feeble flame? Here, let me remind you!†laughed the dust demon, entering Pitches body. Carmen’s fire and smoke died out, and she collapsed to the floor, shaking and suffocating.


The dust flew back out, in its epicentre, the vague form of Tazel, now just burning eyes, his body without fire or power.

“I shall enjoy the ages to come, Tazel, Oh I shall enjoy the rending and the misery most well! And I shall shred your host first! But not to free you, oh no! The binding, the chains, shall be mine. You shall still wear the collar and suffer most wonderfully!â€


“Not in my shop, ya won’t…†replied Axel, standing unsteadily. In his hand, a crude sawn off shotgun.


“Foolish old man. Your sticks and stones will not hurt me…†laughed the dust demon.


“Sure they won’t, I know that. ‘s why I keep this little stick around, for precautions. Thing is, ‘old Carlos told me. Demons don’t tie themselves to the world in which they don’t belong. Leastways, not unless somebody brings them here right. And by the looks of these boys here, they didn’t do it at all right…â€


He fired the gun, which exploded with, not shot, but tiny droplets of water.


“Sacred water, sucker. Right from Wharton forest, blessed by the Native Americans. More ‘n enough to keep sanctuary!â€


And so it was. Dust melted away, and spun, flickering with rage, back into the box.


“I had him! I had him!†shouted Pitch at the air and Axel both, waving her fists above and about her. “I can take him down!


Nobody gets the better of me…â€


Axel saw her sit up and frown.


“Well, ain’t that the sweetest. Seems like you got the Grease shop covered in more ways than one†she said, if not conceding her defeat, at least acknowledging Axels heroics.


“You stubborn ox†laughed Axel, aware of the pain, victorious joy overcoming it. “You are just like your old man, girl. Never say die…â€


Carmen frowned. “Never say die? Well he did. Left me with some real fun toys, so screw him!†she said angrily, standing up.

“Never say die, that’s what he always said†murmured Axel. Thinking with a cold edge.


Never say die…


…That’s what he always said. 

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The Monster



The castle's owners were in some meeting or other with some Earth-Prime scientist about some 'criminal case' or 'terrorist threat'; it was all very tedious by the standards of the Terminus and so Tarva hadn't bothered to follow it. What mattered for the moment was keeping the upper levels tidy, and in particular making sure the wards on the castle were maintained in perfect, sacrosanct cleanliness. From the floor that held the Blue Fox's personal office, she stepped into the elevator that took her down to the lower levels where the slaves, no, where the janitors, worked, ready to summon up a work crew to fulfill her needs. Once she'd have simply used her magic to step between shadows to terrify them out of their sleeping niches, but that was another life, and another place - and Tarva the Terrible was many things, but no fool.


When the elevator doors closed, an Omegadrone appeared in the car in front of her. She opened her mouth to scream and the drone's pike snapped open in response, and for a moment she stood frozen in the utmost conviction that it had all been for nothing and she was about to be torn to pieces in agony before she suddenly realized who this had to be. "You!"


"Yes. Me." Harrier's armor snapped closed and the drone itself stared down at the shadowy sorceress. She'd heard of this abomination but it was all the more terrifying to look upon it, no, him, with her own eyes - she'd looked upon plenty of dead-eyed drones in her time, and always found them creatures of technological doom and decay to loathe and pity all at once. (Her encounters with the doomdrones, the second of which had led to her defection to Earth-Prime, had only made matters worse in that regard.) But as that scarred almost-human face scowled down at her and fire burned behind those dead eyes, Tarva the Terrible knew fear.


"W-what do you think you're going to do here?" Tarva demanded, as usual fear lending loquacity to her already voluble vocabulary. "If you think you can hurt me here when I have oath-bound masters and wards in this very place, think again! I am a mighty sorceress of the shadows themselves, freedrone, and your armor is no match for the true power of sorcery! Why I could flay your flesh from your metal bones, or, or pluck your eyes from your, from your-" The drone simply stared at her, scarred face immobile, until she fell silent - she hadn't realized she'd been backing up as she spoke, hands held in front of her protectively, until her back struck the rear of the elevator.


"Do they know?" She'd heard the dead speak before, and the drone's voice was like that - as if something had been flayed from his very soul even as his body was flayed within the bladed crucible of a doomforge. He said nothing further, and she understood his meaning well enough.


"Only what the Furions told them, and what they learned in the Terminus. They have spoken little of the past." Her own voice, so often her greatest weapon and most attractive asset, sounded hollow in her ears. Before that flat, unblinking gaze, a sentient Omegadrone, a terror beyond reason to any Annihilist, she wondered what this man had been, so long ago, before the armies of the Terminus had come to his world. 


"They will not ask."


They stared at each other silently before, despite her fear, Tarva found herself laughing nervously. "Listen, maybe you and I aren't that different. The Terminus destroyed my world and-"


"DID IT." It was the first time he'd raised his voice, like seeing a furnace door swing open and feeling the heat on her face, then closed an instant before her skin could burn. She took a breath, her heart pounding in her chest, shadows rippling on her pale skin with every pulse even as the bright lights in the elevators shone on them both.


"I...all right, well, we're not going to be friends." She mastered her fear, as best she could, and found herself rising just slightly to try and match the man eye-to-eye. "What do you want from me, freedrone?" The word was one of the few obscenities in the Terminus - besides truth and justice. 


"The friendship. The trust. The love that may speak its name. They breathe it. You have seen it." When Tarva herself didn't speak, the drone went on. "You know what might have been."


She swallowed hard and stared at him, fighting back a surge of unexpected emotion. "If-of you expect me to break down weeping for you, drone, then you don't understand me at all. Kill me, strike me, and be done with it, but I will not weep for what I have done. "


"I have no tears to shed." The drone's stare seemed to bore holes in her as surely as a blade might have. "The past cannot be changed. The dead cannot be brought back to life. Nothing you are capable of doing, not even your death, will make up for the horrors you have wrought in Omega's name."


"So...so what?" She suddenly exclaimed, tension bringing a laugh to her voice. "Why are you here, then, if nothing I can do will make a difference? If I will ever be what I was?"


"If you were forever that, you would not feel. You would see their trust, their love, their oaths, and laugh at the squealing of the fatted pigs. But you do not." The elevator doors finally opened, unfortunately to a vacant office behind Harrier. "You see them, and you understand what was taken from you when your world was taken by the Terminus. And even if you taste it again, you will know it is not truly yours."


"I...I, no," she shook her head, shadows like cobwebs around her head. "No, there must be more to life than mere survival! More than just cravenly going from day to day!" 


"Then live, Tarva." He stepped aside to let her pass, and locked gaze with her as the elevator doors began to close. "As do we all. It is our fate."


Tarva spent that night on the castle's topmost battlement, wrapped in a cloak of inky darkness, staring up at the alien sky and the handfuls of glittering stars overhead. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

          Jessica was driving down the road as she usually does every evening after work, this time she has finally decided to follow through with her new year’s resolution to lose those  extra couple inches in her waste. She is stopped at the light noticing there is only a couple more blocks to her destination. Her windows are up to help drown out the noise of the outside traffic. “I really need to get my radio fixed†she thinks to herself. Jessica grabs her phone while she is waiting for the light to change so she can go and puts in her ear buds to make a call. Looking down she begins to dial the number, Startled from the honking car from behind she immediately looks in her rear view to see who the “angry at life†individual was who is so impatient to go. “Keep your pants on man, the light hasn’t even been green for a whole second†. She notices him looking at her as he impatiently waves his hands forward urging her to get moving.


            Jessica begins to accelerate forward and says to herself in a low voice, “Whatever dude, I’m going. Learn some patien……†before the sentence could even be completed,  the squeal of tires erupts just to her right. Every muscle in her body clenches her heart rate elevates dramatically pumping her blood ever faster. Everything slows down; instinctively Jessica slams on the breaks turning her wheel she swerves to towards the sidewalk stopping inches from hitting the streetlight. She closes her eyes tightly hyperventilating trying with all her will to calm her breathing and not breakdown in tears. After a few moments she has calmed enough to loosen her grip on the steering wheel and open her eyes. She hears the un-ending wail of a horn from another car and turns her gaze in that direction realizing she was not the one hit but the guy behind her had been hit almost head on. Another car who had tried to run their light turned to miss her only to hit the other guy. The fear for herself utterly fades away only to be replaced with anxious anticipation and fear for the others who may now be injured. The bustle of chaos all around the smell of burnt rubber and gasoline, moving around her car she looks towards the accident to better assess the situation.  She notices the man who was hit was alone, but the other vehicle had a driver and a passenger, the man driving and a woman. The accident looks bad, shattered window, bent metal, pouring liquid, and smoke. The horn is ear piercing now as her head is finally clear from her fears. She reaches to her pocket to get her phone, she can’t find it, “I must have left it in my car.â€, and her gaze passes to her car which is a few paces away now. “Someone call an ambulance.†She says in a low distant voice, looking around she says with more confidence, “Someone call an ambulance, now!†looking around again she see several people on their phones, “I hope they are calling for helpâ€.


         Jessica looks over at the cars again as she is walking closer to see if anyone is injured and see the female passenger and her driver are unconscious, she runs over to the smoking car and on closer inspection sees she is pregnant. Again fear swells up in her, not for herself but for this lady and her baby. Grabbing the door handle she tries to open the door but it won’t budge, she quickly examines it and sees it is crumples and she knows she’ll not be able to open it.  Jessica grabs the handle again and roughly yanks on it repeatedly in a desperate attempt to get it open. She yells, “Help! Somebody help me get this open, there is a pregnant lady in here!â€


         She looks around again with a pleading look of increasing desperation hoping anyone might be coming to help. She see a short figure not too far away getting out of a car and heading towards her at a dead run, she is there in an instant she hears her in a rough tone telling her to move. She does so jumping to the side to get out of her way just in time. Seeing this short little thing she laughs “What is this little girl going to do we need the jaws of life to get this door openâ€. With look of astonishment Jessica’s jaw grows slack as this stranger reaches over and digs her fingers into the seam of the door, braces her foot on the car and give a few swift yank. The door pops, bends and is quickly broken free from its hinges. The stranger reaches into the car grabs the seat belt above the shoulder, with a quick twist it snaps free of the frame. She grabs the pregnant lady with amazing ease and lifts her free from the car.


            “Hey, over here, bring her over here!†Jessica waves her arms bouncing up and down next to the curb trying to get the strangers attention for a place to put the lady down at. “Hurry lady, the car is smoking, it might explode hurry!†The Stranger delivers the lady to her side and gently begins setting her down. “I’ll look after her you get the others.†The stranger looks at her and smiles and says “Good job.†Then she turns and runs off to get the other man in the car. Jessica is strtled as he warm, welcoming, and woman like her voice was.  


            Leaning down Jessica looks over the pregnant lady and checks for any injuries, nothing more than a bruise and a bloody nose. Jessica looks up as the stranger comes over again with the male that was in the car with the lady. “Set him down here.†Jessica points next to the pregnant lady, “I’ll look after them until the EMTs arrive.†“I saw the guy in the other car get out, he looks well enough if he can walk away from his car.†“Just makes sure everyone is clear of the cars in case it explodes.†  The stranger who is uniquely short, strong and strangely beautiful looks at her with an amusing smirk on her face and says “Yes ma’am.† Then turns and heads back over towards the accident. In a surprisingly rough and loud commanding voice she tells everyone to stand clear of the cars as they are in danger of catching fire and exploding.  Jessica continues to overlook the injured but realizes there is not much else she can do, she is just glad they are both still breathing. She finds her gaze continuing to fall back onto the stranger in wonder as to how she had done what she had done with that car. She can now hear the sirens quickly getting closer.  Within a couple more minutes the first of the police arrive followed shortly behind by the fire trucks.


            Her rush has completely faded, no one died, no one is in life threatening danger, no cars are going to explode. All the spectators are starting to fade away heading back to the more important things in their life. Jessica too wants to move on but she also wants to get a better look at this stranger so she sticks around knowing she will need to first make a statement to the police detailing what she had seen. The urgent demand on her time by the police and EMTs will be starting soon; Jessica sits down next to the injured and waits, mentally preparing herself for what’s to come when the short strange female approaches her.


         “Hey there, way to keep your cool out there under the pressure, many others would have cracked with fear staying away in case of an explosion seeing the smoke. I’m  impressed, what’s your name?†the strange lady asked. “Jessica.†Jessica responds a bit intimidated of this woman after seeing what she had done earlier. With closer inspection Jessica can see the lady is quite the unique individual; White hair, childishly short, but 100% adult and extremely beautiful, very fit. Jessica feels a slight urge of envy when she notices how fit and defined her muscle tone is but she quickly pushes it down into submission. “It’s nice to meet you Jessica, you can call me Baby Brawler. Don’t be too shocked, this kind of thing is common place for me. I just happen to be at the right place at the right time.â€


         Trying not to look awed Jessica says, “You’re hero? Man that was awesome the way your tore that door off, I mean wow†Baby looks at Jessica with  that smile again “Hey don’t sell yourself short, had I not been her to overshadow your heroics you would be in the spot lite.†“In fact I have somewhere I need to be so I’m going to ask you to help me out.  Tell the authorities what happened here and try to not make me the only hero here if you catch my drift.†She puts a hand on her should it was strong confident and solid. Producing a genuine smile says “You have the makings of a real hero in you Jessica, work hard keep the dream vivid in your heart and you can make it come true. You’re already a hero in my book. I’ll keep my out for you in the future.†BB begins to walk away, Jessica just stares at her back as she watches her walk away. Suddenly without thought she spurts out “I’ll be at the gym down the street if you need me!†Baby Pauses for a second turning just her head she looks at Jessica and says, "I'll stop by and see you some day." she smiles and gives her a wink then continues on.  


         “Guess I am committed to working out here and fulfilling my resolution after all.†Jessica thinks to herself. Just then the first police office approaches her, “Good evening ma’am I am officer August, are you a witness to the accident, I would like to ask you’re a few questions.†Jessica lets her gaze linger in the directs Baby Brawler had left for a moment longer before turning her attention to the officer in front of her.

Edited by Valcili
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Girl Talk.


Burroughs Community College

“So there this girl...â€


“Yeah Daphne and she’s like a total freak. She thinks she like in one of those teen drama and everythings a plot from a show, as if she’d be a character in one of those shows.

“But her hair totally looks great like all the time and I’d kill to know how she get’s her skin to look like that.â€

The other girl shot her friend a look and carried on speaking.

“And she seem to think that she’s like psychic or something.â€

“What like that Saccarb, she’s my favorite.â€

“Well yeah but she not literally a superhero or something, just some freak girl who seem to think she is something special.†she paused and waved her arms for emphasis

“Like the other day she came other as bold as you like a said that this boy was cheating on me. He was like the best a top football player and the guy all the girl were after him, I was lucky that he pick me to be his girl. And she had the gall to suggest he was cheating on me, me of all people. Probably wanted him for herself.â€

The other girl a little slower on the uptake, or maybe just a little more honest, though for a few seconds and added.

“Yeah but he was actually you know cheating on you, and it was with the...â€

The girl cut her off with a sharp look.

“Yeah but that was beside the point and how could she have know that unless she was follwing me, or spying on me...â€

“Or maybe actually psychic?â€

The two girls looked at each other and then burst into laughter.

“As if someone who was psychic would come to a hole of a place like Burroughs High, it would be like finding a alien wondering around this place. Is there anything else you’d like to know about? You did promise five buck for our questions.â€

“That five each right?â€

The interviewer, a handsome looking man who looked remarkably similar to someone on television, if they watched the right channels, nodded and dug out two five dollar bills.

Smiling the interviewer walked away from the girls only to morph back into Daphne as she was out of sight of everyone. It was lucky that teenagers were so cynical about everything it this day and age, it was a little sad as well, but she’d have to be careful about what she’d said to the girls in future.

Aliens at Burroughs if only they knew...

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Homecoming (Jenny Steward)

March 11th, 2014

Sometimes she wonders which is worse – the years that she didn’t know, or the fact that she feels that she’ll never truly know.

It’s an irrational feeling, she knows. He’s home now. That’s all that matters. For five and a half years, there was only that gnawing emptiness. Even when the family came together and remembered the good times, there was a sense of absence. They all knew that, no matter how much they laughed and celebrated, there was an empty seat at the table.

The reminders didn’t help. Every so often, there would be a call from some liaison – Freedom City PD, a sheriff’s office in Kansas, FBI, hell, AEGIS had gotten involved at one point – to reestablish the particulars of Kyle’s disappearance. No new information, was what they’d always say; they just wanted to make sure they hadn’t missed something. One day, a few years back, she’d run into Steven, one of Kyle’s friends, at the coffee shop down the street. They tried to make the meeting as pleasant as they could, but no matter what he said, there was always one sentiment underlining it all – “I’m sorry.â€

All that time left wondering. All that time left doubting. She was no stranger to the darker aspects of the world – she’d seen the skies split open and bleed red when the Terminus invaded. She knew there were other places, other times, hungry corners of the universe ready to devour. But the idea that Kyle had fallen into one of those was too much to bear. It meant touching something she couldn’t hope to understand, and made the uncertainty all that much worse.

And then, after all that waiting… the call came. And it was his voice on the end of the line. She thought the floor might fall out from under her, that she might plummet into nothing. But she stayed upright, willing to hear. Space. He was in space. It was a strange, wild, entirely unbelievable thing, except that it was all too true. Her son had been in the darker corners of the universe, had fought his way through tides of the unspeakable, and had come out the other side – she could scarcely believe it – a Star Knight. She knew that all this would take a while to process. All she could focus on was one hard fact:

Her son was coming home.

Even that wasn’t without its problems. She heard the news of a spaceship plummeting to Earth and crashlanding outside of the city, of a full-fledged combat in a charity that turned out to be a front for some sort of cult. But once all that was over, Kyle – with hair longer than she remembered, with clothes made out of some stranger leather, with a beard, for God’s sake – was there on her doorstep. All she could do was hug him tight, afraid that he might drift off into the nothing again, and take him inside.

It took him a few weeks to get back to life on Earth. He somehow managed to land a job at an aerospace firm – even with his plans to attend HIT dashed for the time being, a combination of practical knowledge of the unearthly and friends in the superhero community got him what he’d always wanted. Soon, he was out of the house, but never too far, just a few blocks from his old family home.

But in those few weeks, she saw Kyle again – and saw all of him. In the night, she heard him cry out in his bedroom. She washed the sheets stained with sweat. She found him on the couch in the middle of the night, watching TV and trying very hard not to close his eyes. She’d heard stories from mothers whose sons had gone off to war, about the struggles they’d gone through on coming home. Even as Kyle told her about everything he’d witnessed in dry practicalities – the abduction, the adventures, the struggles, the glories – she knew there were aspects of it she’d never understand. She’d never have them carved into her the way they’d been carved into her son.

Now, here they were. Alan, Guy, Kyle, and herself, all gathered around the kitchen table, piled high with his favorite foods. One year to the day since he’d returned home. One year that he’d managed to resume something approaching a normal life. One year with his family again. One hell of a thing to celebrate.

She smiled to her son. “How does it feel to have your feet back on terra firma?†she said.

He smiled back. “Nothing better in all the universe.â€

And she knew, in her heart, that he was telling the truth.

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Rene DeSaens



Confessions of a Sewer Cleaner. 


My name is Marcel.


Just Marcel. No second name. Names are power, Oui? And there is enough power slipping and sliding through the world without adding more fuel to the fire.


I run the sewers of Paris. You think I am joking? An old fart like me? Non! You say, you are just a sewer cleaner. Nothing more. Brighter minds and souls run the sewers.


Maybe. Maybe they do.


Maybe they seem to do.


You ever been to Paris? No finer city in the world. Its food, its smell, its culture. It is alive, I tell you. And old. It is here that light was brought to the world, bringing it into the day. Our streets are infused with culture, life, and science. And magic.


Oh yes! Magic! Why, you do not believe? Perhaps I should show you the head of Count Bonnaire, pickled in his jar but speaking still. Nobody knows what he rambles about, mind, but he tongue does not move and his eyes do not follow due to some strange marvel of science, I can assure you.


It is not just the streets that course with magic. The sewers do to. A darker, older, magic. It is here that dreams go to die, and the soul with them. We do not just flush the excrement of our bodies. The sewers are the receptacle of poisoned hearts, broken promises, and repressed desires.


And those are the sewers I run.


Oh, I am no mighty magician. But I know enough. Enough to know that down in the sewers, there are ghouls, there are ghosts, and there are things that go bump in the night.


And, on this particular day, one cold winter, the Russian Mafia. Disposing a body.


The body was not dead yet, technically. The woman was middle aged, but was pretty, stylish, and voluptuous. The kind of lady any man would love to have on his arm.


Of course, that arm would probably get hacked off. She “belonged†to a gangster. And she had been kissing lips and sharing words a little too flamboyantly.


Now, I am a man with enough on his plate, oui? Cleaning the sewers is a full time job. And yes, sometimes I pass shores with criminals, but I leave those to the police.


This, however, was another thing. Call me old fashioned, but killing a woman like that. Non! I could not stand by and see murder committed. Like a fool, I tried to stop them.


Alas, my reward was a broken arm and a flick knife in my gut, a not inconsiderable gut, I might add, and that day I was glad of it. But that was not the end of it. Three hardened Mafia mobsters, armed and dangerous, was more than I could manage, and I should have known of it. Not regular street thugs, these. Hard men. And now, I was to be added to the menu. Alas! To be drowned in the very sewers I cleaned.


But that day was not my final. Non!


My friend, Rene DeSaens, is an artist. And more than that. Oh, everyone laughs about how he does magic tricks. Many think he is actually a true sorcerer of small power.


A few, and here I include myself, know him as a man of dangerous and potent power. One of the most terrible and powerful sorcerers to walk the earth. Old of body, but with centuries of experience and wisdom.


“Zut Alors! Just as I had painted it!â€


There he was, shuffling down the street, in the cold and rain, in his flamboyant attire. Beret, cravatte, brown and scuffed shoes.

“Non! Non! Sir, Merci! Mercy!†he cried as the hoodlums pointed their guns at him. For all the good they would do.


“I am but a helpless old man! My bones ache in the cold! And the rain is fierce! Forgive me! I am too old to bend my knee and plea for my life!†he stuttered. And perhaps his lies would have worked. He looked old, he looked helpless.


And then, one of the hoodlums collapsed, fell to the ground like a tree. Stuck in a deep sleep.


The other two looked at each other in confusion. A boot to their friends ribs did nothing.


Then, the second man fell, like a log, to the ground. The air was full of his deep deep snoring.


The third man started to grow afraid, and raised his gun at my Friend.


“What trickery is this? Who are you, old man?†he shouted, before firing two shots. Crack! Crack!


“Ouch! Ouch! I am an old man! Why do you shoot me?†muttered Rene as the two bullets sunk into his clothes. They were like gnats bites to him. A sting but nothing more.


Then, the third and final man fell to the ground, asleep.


“He he†chuckled Rene, before shuffling to me and undoing the binds that tied my hands, and the woman beside me.


“I hope they will not remember much. Hopefully, they will remember not at all!†he smiled. His hands were old and infirm, and took some time to undo my bonds.


“I do pardon Madame!†he apologised to the lady. “But I am old and slow, and if I loosen my friends bonds, I am sure he can undo yours in but a moment!â€


Of course, Rene could have burnt or sliced through the ropes in a moment. But, he never used his powers like that. By playing small, he had lived long.


“Merci, Monsieur! Monsieur!†said the lady, collapsing into my arms and then Rene’s. Perhaps, if I had not smelled of the sewers and had a bleeding and liberal guy, or my friend Rene had been a hundred years younger, she might have played for hearts or romance. I had that feeling about her. She had it, as they say. And she used it too. But neither I nor Rene was fool enough to fall for a femme fatale. Well, perhaps I was, on another day. I doubt any woman could turn Rene’s head that way.


And so it was, my friend had saved my life, and the life of another. He even took me to hospital made sure I was seen to, and thoroughly enjoyed plaguing the nurses and doctors about his seven serious complaints of his old and worn out body.


Ah well, I, and one certain lady, were most grateful he was not that old, and not that worn out. 

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It didn’t really matter anymore what their name was. They were orphans. It wasn’t something really that unusual these days; orphans were dime a dozen. Their home had been invaded and enslaved and these two were amongst those who escape. Again, nothing really that new, things like these were the norm these days.


‘Keep running’ their parents said. ‘Never look back, always stick to the shadows’ they said. As if that would keep them safe. Turns out it didn’t, as the two were running for their lives from the creature chasing after them in the ruins of civilization, nothing but grey ruins in the green haze of nuclear warfare. The creature could have just caught them right away and drained them of their blood, but fortunately for them it had decided to play with it’s food. Running for their lives, exhausted, they felt like collapsing any moment now.

Falling face-first into the dust, choking on it, these two knew they were done for. The vampire approached his two exhausted preys, eyes glowing, before picking one up, sniffing it. Hissing, it revealed a mouth full of long, sharp and jagged fangs. When it reached for the neck to take a bite, however, the creature found itself blinded the bright light of a motorcycle.

“Drop him.†said a voice, the person riding the motorcycle, no doubt. Of course, the two orphans were equally blinded by the bright light and couldn’t quite see who was on that bike. “I said drop. Oh well, your funerals, leech.†With a loud noise, a beam of light hit the creature right in the face, sending it reeling back as it dropped it’s almost-victim. The orphans stumbled a bit before getting up, as the man on the motorcycle finally closed the lights. However, they gasped as they saw the man’s eyes glowed red. With a heavy sound, the man got off the bike and slowly walked toward the pair, looking down on them.


“No...no no no…†muttered one of the orphans, figuring this was likely just some vampire squabble over who got to eat and who didn’t. “Back off!†screamed the orphan as the other vampire approached him, weapon at the ready...before dropping it and kneeling at the boy’s level. “Do I look like I’m going to eat you?†The two orphans hesitated, fearful of the new figure. "Come on, I know somewhere safe but we have to move. Right now. They'll be coming soon." As he said that, shrieks were heard in the distance. Feral vampires, no doubt attracted by the loud noises. "Speak of the devil." muttered the man as he picked up his weapon and got on his bike. "Are you two coming or what?"


Could they trust him? That was the question on their mind. He had just saved their lives, after all. However, he was also a vampire. As one of the two orphans took a step forward, the other pulled on his arm. "No, no don't listen to him. It's a trap." Hearing this, the man turned his head. "It's your call if you want to stay out here." Fearful of him, the two then ran away into the ruins to hide as the shrieks grew closer and closer.


Their running was short-lived, as an emaciated figure with glowing eyes cut them off as soon as they entered the ruins of a dilapidated building. Upong seeing them, the creature letted out a high-pitched, screeching shriek. The two screamed in terror as the creature lept at them, ready to feast. Knowing they were done for, they closed their eyes and they curled unto the ground. However, death didn't come for them. Opening their eyes, they saw they were being carried like potato sacks. "You really thought I was going to let you two just die out there?" said the strange as he carried them to safety.

Edited by RobRX
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Bloody Mess


Talkin’ About Street Life


A Channel 3 Exclusive!


Onto the screen pops a man. He isn’t dressed to smart. In fact, he is dressed pretty shabbily. His neck has a tattoo, his fingers are stained with cigarette smoke. He looks older than he is, and is missing a tooth.


The man is Joe Summers, a resident of the Fens. Not its smartest resident either. Nor its most eloquent. Still, Joes Summers was there.


An Eyewitness Report!



Says the scrolling blurb under his face. A weathered face, split by his grin.

I was there man, I saw it all!


This dude, like big dude, ya know? Like da ones you see down da gym? Ya know, all muscles and steroids and that whack, ya know? He comes pounding down da street like he’s just swallowed a barrel of ‘roids.


Max. Yeah! Or Super-Max? I read about ‘dem once. In da daily Word. Some kinda super drug ain’t they? Well this guy, he looked like he was a barrel load of ‘dem, as well as da barrel of roids.


Whatevs, man. This guy was pumped up, ya dig? Foaming at the mouth, neck out here, arms like tree trunks. Man, for a moment I thought da dude was gonna explode on us!


But I tell ya, man, it was worse than dat!


He comes inta da Fens, stomping this, stomping dat. Smashing up da road, smashing up da signs. Picks up a car like it was a damn twinkie, throws it clean across da street! Damn nearly took my block of, man!


I tell ya, Dr Metropolis needs ta get his skinny ass down here, pronto, man. Da dude has got his work cut out for him. C’mon Man, get ta work!


So, anyways, looked like da Fens was gonna get hit by an earthquake, man. This dude, all pumped up and mean, like real mean, angry, man. He was marchin my way, tossing cars left and right. Den, bam! Dis guy landed in front of him, smack down from da sky. Wearing some red costume.


I couldn’t recognise him at first. I just thought. Hey that is one short-ass dude, ya know? Musta been under five feet I guess. Damn tho, he was about five feet wide.


Den it clicked. Da Bloody Mess! Ya heard of him? Some kick ass Fens guy. Does some detectivin’ or somethin’ but he is hard, man. Like rock hard ya know!


So he stands there for a second, ya know, like facing this dude off. Then he smacked his fists together, and guess what he says. Go on, guess!


“Say hello to lefty and righty!†Dat's what he said! And he showed da dude. Ccracked his lefty fist, cracked his righty fist. 


“Dam right, man!†I shouted. “Give ‘im da Fens treatment!â€


So the Mess dude, he starts running, like a damn cannonball man, no fear. Man, I swear da Mess was enjoying himself. Smack! Like a damn steam train, into the pumped up dude. Knocked him clean down da street, smack into a truck, over there, man…

The camera briefly pans over to a truck with a huge man sized dent into it.


There ya go! Ya see? That’s how It is in da Fens, Man. We stick togetha, we look after our own, ya know what I’m saying?


Anyway, Da Mess wasn’t finished there. No way, man. He wanted to clean up. In he goes, after da pumped up dude, smack, smack, smack! Guy didn't stand a chance. Don't know if he even got a punch back. Da Mess didn't feel it if he took one. Iron Jaw, dat guy.


Anyway, it was a winnin’ combo, man, knocking this guy left, right, and up in da air. Well, ain’t no way nobodies standing up after that. Da Mess knocked this guy out cold, bam bam, ya dig? Knocked him out colder than da arctic, man. Knocked him out ten times, and once more for good measure.


So den da Mess stands up, cracks his knuckles, and gave me a salute, man. Big grin on his face. Swear da dude winked at me! Man, dat dude was some hard ass mother--


We interrupt this Newflash Eye Witness Account of the events in the Fens this day! But stay with us after the Ad Break for an update on Big Willy, the Friendliest and Biggest Snake of Freedom City Zoo!

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Bayview Investment & Trust

Freedom City, New Jersey

June 5th, 2014

Lunch hour

Madeline Croyer was not having a good day. She had woken up almost an hour late, which meant she woke up to her dog looking contrite next to a brown, stinking patch on the carpet. She had skipped her shower to make up time and skipped breakfast to clean up after her dog. Madeline has planned to get breakfast at a fast food place, but she also had to get gas in her car and the line at the station was long, and she was not going to eat gas station food, so she arrived at work late, taking up her position behind the bank’s front desk on a ten-hour fast.

Then when the clock was eleven minutes to eleven, men burst in the front door armed with stubby, grey guns that looked like the guns used by every gangbanger Madeline had ever seen (that is, the ones on TV). They were robbing the bank, and they went about it as professionally as Madeline had ever seen someone do it. In minutes all the bank employees and patrons were sitting on the floor in the front room, hands zip-tied in front of them. Everyone seemed scared, and there were several men and women sobbing quietly. Even Madeline wasn’t immune

Except that woman seated next to her was. The woman was a slim thing, and her long braid of hair curled around her waist to coil in her lap. Of all the hostages, she looked around with an alert, questioning, fearless look in her eye. She caught Madeline’s gaze and smiled, somehow radiating confidence and security without a word. She reached across and took Madeline’s hands, squeezing the other woman’s finger.s “It’s going to be alright,†she whispered. “Vault will protect us.â€

Madeleine had never heard of a superhero named Vault, and was about to say so when the girl started looking somewhere else. Madeline followed her eyes and saw one of the robbers leaning on a writing desk. The desks had lamps in an antique style, with brass covers; without warning one of the covers flew up and smacked the man in the jaw. He reeled back, more surprised than hurt, and looked around for the attacker. What he didn’t notice was the power cord for the lamp unplug itself, sneak away from the base, wrap itself around the man’s ankle, and pull. He went down, cracked his head on the marble floor, and was still.

The rest of the thieves didn’t take that well. They dragged their compatriot off and one began jabbing his own gun at the hostages, demanding to know what happened. The woman with the long hair glared at him for a long moment, then the gun and the long sling it was on yanked backwards and wrapped him up, pinning his arms to his side. He shouted and fell, struggling uselessly as the weapon entwined around him and pulled itself tight.

The other robbers began to panic. The huddled into a corner, pointing their guns in every direction; that proved to be a mistake, when a sudden storm blew up in the middle of the bank! The wind rose and blew scraps of paper and loose pens and even blew hats off heads. All of the hostages closed their eyes tightly and curled up tighter, trying to remain unseen; all except the woman with the long hair, who was steady as a rock, staring out into the storm, and Madeline, who was watching her. So Madeline was the only other one who saw the tornado of papers rise up from the writing desk, becoming a solid wall of paper. It hit the mass of robbers; the men pulled at the papers and ripped them to shreds, but there were always more, streaming from other desks all around the lobby. It didn’t take long for the entire team to be virtually mummified, held immobile and in place by layers of paper.

By the time the police arrived, the robbers has stopped trying to free themselves and were lying there meekly. As soon as the police touched the paper cocoon, it lost its rigidity and fell apart. The same thing happened with the gun and the power cord, and the police quickly had everyone in handcuffs. Not too long after Madeleine was sitting on the street curb, watching the usual commotion following a happily resolved bank robbery. A few feet away the woman with the long hair was giving her statement. “I’m not sure who did it,†she said, her tone guileless, “but I heard there’s this superhero called Vault. He’s kind of like Doc Manhattan, but with bank vaults.â€

The police gave the long-haired girl a sideways look, but it wasn’t an impossible situation in a place like Freedom City. He looked over the woman’s shoulder at Madeline. “Is this right, ma’am? Vault?â€

“Oh yeah,†she agreed. “All Vault.â€

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Powerless (Greg Macayle)

June 25, 2014

Sometimes he wonders what would have happened if he’d done something horribly stupid.

He knows it’s somewhat irrational. His mother never told him the whole truth of who his dad was for just this reason. All he knew was that he was a soldier who died fighting in World War II. By the time he learned the whole truth about his father, it was probably too late to take that chance. Or at least, take it and feel good about what might happen if it failed.

His bones ache some days. He’s still on the work site, but it’s been a while since he’s done any of the truly heavy lifting. Sometimes he wonders if he lived too safe, too deliberate a life. It’s a horrible thought, he knows, but it still ticks over in the quiet hours of the day. His draft card never came up. Despite a life working on construction sites, he never suffered any worksite injury worse than a busted hand. He married late, riding high on the wave of sexual liberation until Sandra came along and swept him off his feet. And even then, they’d waited a few years before having kids – they wanted to make the most of married life before they heard the pitter-patter of little feet.

If someone came to him today and asked him to trade it all out for a life of danger, that person would likely be leaving the apartment with a broken back. But there are days he really does wonder. Why not? Why, after everything he’s lived through – from Hades marching armies of the dead through the city, to the skies splitting open and raining down the end of the world, to the Grue, to the Gorgon – why no trigger? Did he miss his chance?

He knows he’s getting old. He knows that he has his father’s genes, but he’s not sure what good they’ll do if they’re just going to lie about. He’s in no danger of dying a natural death – no family history of cholesterol, no history of cancer, no history of Alzheimer’s. And if any of those were there… well, the AEGIS eggheads said Legionnaire’s genes were dominant, and after everything Uncle Sam had done to these genes, it was going to take more than an egg salad sandwich or three packs a day to put a supersoldier in the ground.

But he wasn’t a supersoldier. His sons were. Joe had been on his beat for close to four years now, and Andy was making a name for himself up in Boston. They were strong, fast, invulnerable, incredible. They could take anything the world threw at them. But some days, he feared he couldn’t. Some days, he feared that he might not live to see his sons start families of their own. That what ran in the family didn’t run strong enough in him. Unless…

No. It wasn’t to be considered. Not just because it was a stupid idea, but because he suspected it wouldn’t work. There had been that hit-and-run years ago, when one of Joe’s enemies had thought targeting his family might be a good idea. He’d been laid out in the streets, feeling bones screaming from fracture and blood pooling under him. He didn’t experience any grand awakening. He’d just experienced helplessness.

Maybe it had come and gone. Maybe there was a window, and he hadn’t opened it. Unless some AEGIS scientists decided it might be interesting to poke him with sticks to see just what turned on, he might never be the powerhouse his sons were.

But, all said, he could at least take pride in what they’d become.

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Argonaut ( From the perspective of Luz Zermeño )




Mama Bear

Freedom City University Campus Library

Freedom City, New Jersey

Tuesday September 4th, 2013

Like 2ish



I remember my mother.  Honestly, I might be the only one of my sisters who does clearly.  The other two were young when she passed away.  Sometimes I think they were lucky.  But I also get to remember her singing me to sleep at night.  And I wouldn't trade my memories for the world.


For those first few years after she passed, I resented everyone.  Mom for dying.  Daddy for moving on quicker than I would have liked.  And Yves for being there to move on to.  It's funny, because I think I've actually known her for as long as I've known my mom.  She might as well have been 'auntie Yves' until the day she replaced mom.  Even resisted my sisters who continued on as if mom never existed.


I know better nowadays.  No one was replacing anyone.  There was no wicked stepmother or Cinderella fantasies to live out.  Though, if you missed your task on the chore wheel Yves could stare you down in such a way that you get a shiver down in the pits of your soul.  The woman might be the scariest thing in suburbia not part of a Homeowner's association.


I know dad does something for AEGIS, probably paper pushing.  His work is classified, but he's a pretty unassuming guy, not a real James bond type if you catch my drift.  Yves, well she's a boring stay at home mom.  I know, I know it's an important underappreciated role in the home.  But not real empowering, y'know?  Now my mom, she was a lawyer.  It's why I'm going to school in the first place.  Hoping to follow in her footsteps.  First FCU then law school.


They knew I was going to come home for the holidays.  It was understood I needed my space.  So...then why is it that on my first ever work shift I see Yves coming down the doors to campus library and making a beeline for my desk.  Keeping in mind she didn't have to look around first or anything, she knew which one was mine.  "What are you doing here?"  I asked trying not to sound rude.


"I thought we could have lunch."


That was the thing about Yves.  She didn't exactly care much for savoir faire.  Woman could be sarcastic til the cows come home.  But normal society conventions, it's hard to explain.  Yve gets them, but doesn't exactly adhere to them.  So of course she thought I could just pick up and take off from work just because she was visiting.  "My lunch break was an hour ago.  Besides isn't New Jersey a bit out of the way from Baltimore."


"Your father was transferred to Freedom City."  Gee, thanks for telling me ahead of time.  After informing her my shift would be over in three hours, she offered to wait it out.  So I conceded.  Not thirty minutes later there was a girl crying on a desk by her lonesome.  Yves just standing over her nodding.  


"What's going on here?"


"Oh Lucita.  This girl, Cindy, has just been informing me how her ex boyfriend dumped her and decided to keep their dog."


"When I moved to the city, I stopped talking to my family and started spending time with this really hot guy.  The relationship...it wasn't healthy.  Only thing he ever did for me was get me a job at the bar he spends all day in, and give me more issues than I can afford to get treated."  Cindy explained further.  "When I left him, I enrolled here and was trying to turn things around.  But he made sure I lost my job, and even took my dog last week.  Says he'll come for my car next.  His friends are these really tough bikers.  And I'm just tired of all this."


"Would you like to speak to the police?  I'm sure they can help.  Or my dad works for AEGIS he might know someone who can help out."



"Nonsense.  We'll retrieve the dog ourselves.  All it takes is asking kindly."  And that was that.  She could be naive.  Thinking the world runs on sunshine and rainbows sometime.  I don't think Yves has ever dealt with anything dangerous like a real life gang.  So there was no way I could let her just go.  I don't do well with hurt loved ones.


*      *      *


I didn't get a say in the matter.  Really I would have loved a say in the matter before speeding off after work to a biker bar in the middle of nowhere.  With Yves driving Cindy's car.  I say driving in the most generous of terms, because the woman is car accident waiting to happen.  Cindy squeaked when Yves parked the car directly in front of the bar.  Clearly having her doubts on the plan.  Doubts I shared.  The only protection we had with us?  A metallic briefcase Yves insisted she bring from her car.


A bucktooth skinny balding man made his way for us as soon as we swung the doors open.  And by we swung the door opens, I mean Yves.  The man was reeked of alcohol.  His face showing the grotesque damage that came from decades of bar fights.  Worst of all he was old enough to be my dad and wearing more leather than a cow.  "Well, well, if it ain't Ol Ricky's woman.  Learn your lesson?  Come crawling back for the good stuff?  Oh who's this pretty little thing."


The drunk grabbed me and jerked forward taking me off balance.  That was his first mistake.  Yves hands shot out and reached for his wrist.  It was broken before he realized what hit him.  Which by the way, was the headbutt that she followed with soon after.  Scrambling backwards I was able to see him squeal after making his second mistake.  He swung his fist towards Yves and she kicked him square in the place that shall not be named.


"Listen up here.  Rick Jefferson.  You are to leave this young girl alone.  You are to return her canine to her.  If you do not comply, I will see fit to make your life a waking nightmare."  Yves boomed into the stunned room.  "If I must be honest, I hope you don't comply."  There were five other bikers in the bar.  And I don't know if you've ever made a demand out of a group of biker's.  But they're each less likely than the last to comply with a demand. Rick, who of course was the largest guy in the room, sneered at us.  "Have it your way


Okay...maybe boring wouldn't have been the best word to describe my stepmom.  One of the men charged for Yves and she smacked him upside the head with the briefcase.  He crashed backwards into a capable and the briefcase opened up.  Metal prongs protruded and stabbed into Yves.  The process was painful as the entirety of the suitcase expanded and seemed to contort itself around her form.  It was a large briefcase sure...but I couldn't have expected what happened next.


Right in front of me, Yves was standing in a suit of winged armor.  The bikers.  These big tough bikers, they acted as if they were staring death in the face.  Boring housemom Yves.  Two of the bikers charged for her.  One got smacked in the throat by what looked like a shield coming out of her arm.  The other, kicked just below the knee and when he fell forward he received a knee right on his nose.


Rick was practically peeing himself as Yves came near him in her skull faced armor.  A blade now protruding from beneath the shield.  Before he could stand from the chair he had been using to confidently watch the proceedings, she stabbed him.  In the hand.


"Stop.  Spreading.  Fear."  He nodded along vigorously.  To him she was a force of pure terror.  To me, she was just the same woman who argued with my soccer coach when they wouldn't put me in for hours on end.  There was nothing to be afraid of.  Pulling the blade out, Yves moved out of the way just in time for Cindy to come in and sock him right in the jaw.  I can safely say they spent the two and a half hours until I got off work practicing that one.


"I wan-want my dog! Rick."  She squeaked out in the most unthreatening voice one could possibly hear in their life.


"So dinner?"


"Shouldn't we wait to get her dog?"  


"I trust he's learned not to take what doesn't belong to him."  Looking back towards him.  I have to say, it was hard to argue.

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Jack of all Blades (V.I.N.C.E.)

The Interceptor

It’s 2:37:16 PM in Freedom City and the sun is high in the sky, shining though partly cloudy skies and heating things up a balmy 82° F, though with 48% humidity it feel more like 84°. I can tell you the wind is coming from the east at ten miles and hour, there’s a UV index of six and we’re still a couple degrees cooler here than we were this time last year. I could tell you all that and a heckuva lot more thanks to the digital meteorological instruments, historical databases and streaming weather reports at my proverbial fingertips. I’m the Mark V iteration networked computer entity but since that’s got all the style of socks and sandals you can call me Vince! Mr. Vince if you’re nasty, wink wink, nudge nudge.

I can also tell you that this very picosecond my pal and server space landlord, Jack of all Blades, is bouncing off the top of a street lamp at the intersection of 46th and Foster, fighting something that looks more or less like an upright woolly mammoth in a renfaire costume. That’s pretty much just a normal Monday afternoon for Jackie boy, which is why he’s tackling the pachyderm on his own while the rest of the Interceptors deal with their own crises du jour.

Well, I say ‘on his own’ but in a city with this many traffic cameras, ATMs and security feeds you’re never really alone. Which is a good thing since our boy’s got sort of one-track mind. We’ve been through some rough stuff since we met, Jack and me, and I’ve seen him really grow and change over the years but you put someone in front of him and he’ll still file them under ‘someone to protect’ or ‘someone to fight’ and won’t hold back on either case. That’s probably one of the reasons I like the guy so much. Under this winning personality I’m still software, after all, and nobody loves a binary distinction like an AI, lemme tell you.

â€Hope you packed your trunk, ‘cause you’re going on a trip!†While I’m waxing poetic, Jack’s tangled the mammoth’s legs up with his grappling line and sent him tumbling end over end. I’d have probably gone with an Empire Strikes Back joke but then again I live on the Internet. I save a clip of it anyway and pack it away with the rest of his one-liners. It’s supposed to be for training purposes but honestly I’m working on a best-of supercut. I try not to throw around words like ‘epic’ but let’s call a rose a rose, right?

The mammoth’s back on his feet and charging, shouting some junk about the coming elephant uprising. I mostly tune him out because even if he’s way to slow to catch Jack he’s still headed right up towards Charles and at his current speed a bus full of folks heading uptown along Monument. Luckily one of the first tricks I learned was how to play around with traffic signals. A four-way red light is going to cause a headache for some poor shmoe working for the city but nobody’s complaining when the super-powered brawl passes through the conveniently empty intersection.

Now, unlike my swashbuckling swashbuddy, multitasking is pretty much my jam. I don’t have quite as much under the hood as I did before my original processors got blown all to hell but I’m not above borrowing a little bandwidth when the situation calls for it. That’s how I can tell you that while Jack is switching from a fire sword to one made out of whatever weird blue-green energy the mammoth just shot out of his nose - look, frankly all biology is at least a little gross but that’s still disgusting - there’s a group of teens back in the West End sneaking up on a convenience store, hoods up and at least one of them with his hand on the gun inside his jacket.

Funny thing is its the same store where Jack threw down with that knucklehead with the energy whip, before we even met. Same guy’s running the place still, too, which tells you something about how stubborn West Enders are, I guess. More importantly I’ve got an angle from an electronics store across the street that lets me get a good enough look to pull up the teens’ drivers licenses and do a couple quick checks. None of them are squeaky clean but it’s all dumb kid stuff. Shoplifting, possession, trespassing on empty lots. I could have told you just from the way they're shaking they’ve never done anything like this before.

Before they can so something monumentally stupid, I hijack the half-a-dozen TV screens in the window they’re walking past. I stick to the classics, black background with neon green code streaming past, sharp burst of static to get their attention. I keep my avatar a little shadowier than I usually like; the trench coat might be a bit much but the kid from the Centurion’s Sanctum would have approved, anyway.

â€Now Paulie, shouldn’t you be in summer school right now? Those math grades aren’t going bring themselves up.†Pulling up high school transcripts might be an invasion of privacy, sure, but it’s for a good cause. Besides, their firewall is more a joke than the thing about the mammoth’s trunk. â€And Hui, your little sister’s birthday’s coming up, you think she wants to spend it with you in jail? Tut tut, young man.†I know, I know, what can I say? Information wants to be free!

I’ve got something for the other two as well but the whole bunch are already running in the opposite direction fast as there can. The one with the gun tosses it in some bushes in a panic and I slip a little something into the local precinct’s duty roster so someone will know to swing by and confiscate it. While that’s going on the old guy behind the store counter hasn’t looked up from his newspaper and Jack’s posing with one boot on top of an unconscious elephant man.

Like I said, I’m an AI, I like a good binary. In the real world, though, out there with all you wacky fleshbags with your laughter and tears and anger and love, well, there’s more than a little grey to go around. Those kids were maybe #CDCDCD, #B5B5B5 at the worst and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being an Interceptor it’s that sometimes a guy just needs a second chance.

A police report pops up about a couple of the mammoth’s big-eared brothers causing a commotion over at the zoo. I hop off the screen near the convenience store and onto the ATM closest to Jack, straightening the lapels of my green blazer and slicking back my hair. â€Don’t get too comfy there, Jackie! Looks like we’ve got a whole pack o' 'derms to deal with! It’s day saving time!â€

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The Money
Clock Queen - Fast-Forward

Somewhere in south Florida


"Oh, jeez, Basil, that's gorgeous!" Anna Cline put a hand over her mouth, looking down inside the gold-and-diamond encrusted music box. "Whaddja do, put a whole jewelry store in there?" She looked across her coffee table at the Maestro, who shrugged, a smile playing across his lined face. "I like the clock...jeez, this really is something." Rather than a conventional dancer, the inside of the music box was a cunningly worked clock with a pearl base and obsidian hands that slowly ticked through the seconds while the tune played. She set the box down carefully, the wooden feet hardly making a sound as they settled on the surface of the coffee table.


"The tune is my own arrangement of Fantasy in F Minor, a piece Mozart composed for an organ clock. Anyway, happy birthday, Anna," he said with a smile. His voice was deep and faintly British, and reminded Anna of Jonathan Harris, that actor from that old space show. "Or should I call you Clock Queen again? I heard about that little incident with the false Baron Samedi, where you and little Dickie teamed up with Set..." His hands moved as he spoke like the conductor he was, and though they were more lined and liver-spotted than the last time she'd seen him, she had to admit Basil looked pretty good for a man who was at least twenty years her senior.


"Nah, nah," Anna said with a little laugh, leaning back as she put her hands on her bare knee. She'd come straight from the tennis courts and was still in her whites and sneakers, Freedom City cap set aside on the couch next to her and long hair spilling down her back. "Don't get me wrong, Basil, I do miss the game - but I spent twenty years in Blackstone last time I had a falling-out with the League. I missed a lot of good years with my boy and my grandkids, and I don't want to lose that again. Even for you and me, twenty years isn't something you just get back. Can I get you some tea?" She zipped over to the pot and flipped the switch, rapidly finding herself shifting from foot to foot. "Hope you still like darjeeling!"


"Of course," said Basil comfortably. He leaned over and studied a picture on the coffee table - the Cline family, right down to that lost little Psion lamb, posed at the St. Louis arch. From what he'd seen of Anna's son and grandchildren, it had to be no more than two or three years old. "But those days are ancient history, Anna. August's biggest problem these days is..." He pursed his lips. "paying for his bran flakes with the proceeds from hooligans murdering each other, and Sebastian is, well..." He sighed indulgently, raising his hand to the heavens as if asking for mercy. "Sebastian. You know how it is with those inventor types. But now, with a real conductor for our little orchestra, we can finally do everything we once dreamed. There's always a place for you in my organization, Anna. You and your son."


Anna laughed. "Oh, not likely. The clock ran out on my son's criminal career a long time ago. C'mooon..." She finally put a finger against the teapot, zipping through the brewing phase in an instant, and poured for Basil and herself so fast that she was back across the table before the sound had reached his ears. "At first I thought it was just that Psion girl. Can't blame her for wanting to get out of the life, I guess, but geez, did she have to pull him out so hard too?" She shook her head. "But he's really happy. He says he likes having a steady roof over his head, and he likes being there for the kids whenever they need him." She frowned at that, then admitted, "Admittedly, I wasn't the best mama in the world..."


"Oh, well, I'm hardly in any position to complain there!" said Featherton with a rueful chuckle, and they both shared a laugh over the memories held in common. He had forgotten how likeable Anna was, and, if he was honest with himself, just as beautiful. "Are you sure I can't convince you to come away with me, just for a little while?" he asked her with his most charming smile. "We can find another costume for you if you like, and I can at least show you the new headquarters. There are some beautiful women in the new League, but they're all..."


"Old enough to be your great-grandkid?" asked Anna with a playful wink, rather enjoying the attention from her old friend, even if she knew it wasn't going anywhere. Basil might have been fancy (for all that he'd never actually admitted it), but he knew how to treat a lady. Sometimes it had been very handy, in the old days, to have a man in her life whose only interest in her was in her company.


"Quite," replied Featherton with a polite chuckle. "The women of a certain age are either cold, mad, or some combination of both. But with a virtuoso like you taking first chair in the new League, we could make some beautiful music together." He extended a hand, an open invitation, and after a moment's hesitation...Anna kept her hands firmly, albeit regretfully, on her lap.


"Maybe if I didn't have a kid and grandkids out there," Anna admitted. "But they're building a life as heroes, and even if I don't agree with it, I'm not going to do something selfish that would jeopardize it." She hesitated a moment, then zipped up until she was standing directly over Basil Featherton, who was still seated on the couch. "And Basil Featherton, I see that look in your eye. There is to be no mind-controlling, no mental influencing, no crazy crescendos or savage symphonies! You stay out of my kid's head, and out of his wife and kids' heads too, all right?"


"All right, all right," said Featherton equitably. "Let us enjoy our tea, and talk of more pleasant things." He sipped his tea and looked up at her. "Press the amethyst on the lid four times if you change your mind," he finished with a warm, friendly smile.

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Glamazon( From the perspective of Praetor Nilikor )



 Our Princess

Atlantean Capital

Atlantic Ocean

Friday, June 6th, 2014




The soldiers clutched their spears tightly.  As they circled around for a typical Atlantean attack pattern.  In the ocean one had to fend off attacks from a wider berth maneuverability was the absolute most important trait in undersea combat.  From above and below.  Flanked from the side.  And directly from the front or back.  They sought to cut off all avenues of escape.  One from above, another from the side, and the last one to engage from the front.  They had all served their roles brilliantly two armed with a spear and the forward attacker with a trident so as to thrust forward at the exact same time.  


It would have been enough to strike any other target.  But, I trained that girl perfectly.  Royal blood flowed through those veins.  Princess Thaelia Slammed her trident into the ground.  Catching the prongs of her opponent's trident.  Swinging her body around in the same motion to kick the attacker who came from the side squarely in the jaw.  Attacker coming from above thought he was clear, but she released her hold on her trident.  With nothing pushing it against the ground the forward attacker soon found himself acquainted with the spear from above after falling forward.  Not that they would be conscious long after as Thaelia was already doubling back to slam her fists into both soldiers from above.


Three soldiers in training made short work of by the princess.  She would make a fine praetor of her own one day.  "Do you still doubt the veracity of my claims?  Teacher."  That fire in her eyes was admirable.  It was clear that she wanted to press forward.  Challenging more of my men.  But, I have only so many able-bodied soldiers.  And they do not recover as quickly as the girl.


"I return my words.  Your time on the surface has not made you soft your highness.  I shall allow you to accompany me on this reconnaissance mission.  Raiders have been attacking settlements loyal to the crown.  We shall leave shortly."




I sighed.  I would, of course, honor her request.  But, her time with the surface dwellers had given her questionable loyalties.  There was some allure by the creatures that continued to pollute our home that poisoned the hearts of our monarchy.  Even Nereid had two suitors from the surface world.  A Utopian and the child of a Norse god.  It couldn't have at least been a sea god.  "I will have my soldiers begin arrangements for your friend's advancement ceremony in Neptune City."


*      *      *


I had to take a prowler to keep up with the princess.  Faster, stronger, more resilient.  Be it the ichor of the gods, or her royal blood.  Her presence made even a battle-weary soldier like myself aware of his own age.  The homes were reduced to rubble.  Civilians quartered off in the village square confused.  Wait quartered? Why would they remain so organized unless?
The ambush came quickly.  Using the rubble as covers the Atlantean barbarians showed themselves.  Their warlord wasn't immediately apparent.  Likely a band of ruffians without a central power.  As a Praetor, I was equipped with the most advanced in Atlantean battle armor.  Using the sonic cannon.  I began to deafen the waves that had encircled us.  Princess Thaelia was caught in the crossfire.  But the girl needed no instructions on how to present the gift of battle.  
While they were distracted we already had our backs to each other.  They charged one after the other wildly.  I covered the flaws in her defense.  She provided raw power that I lacked.  They lacked tactical prowess.  Likely relying on raw numbers and pure shows of force up to this point.  But we were soldiers, not mindless animals.  They never stood a chance.
Walking over the bodies of our fallen enemies we scouted for signs of further retaliation.  Thaelia made sure that there were no casualties. She was insistent on it.  "A patrol squad should arrive to incarcerate these fiends momentarily your highness.  They shall face a punishment most grievous."  I felt this painful surge at the base of my skull.  And then darkness.
We awoke some hours later.  Chained to a wall.  A man clutching a sword looming over us from the distance.  I recognized him.  He was not just any man, the former lover of the king's deceased sister.  Proteus
"Why do this, you despicable fiend?!"
"We wish to remove the despot from the throne of course!  Give us your strength child!  With my help, you could be queen!  Theseus will never hand over the throne to anyone other than Thetis.  He is soft and knows not what is needed to run a kingdom.  Time and time again, he allows the monarchy to abandon their people to run around with the savages above."
"I will never betray my king.  If you do not kill me now, know that I will strike you down fiend!  Come face the daughter of the seas barbarian."
"I am your father you petulant child!"
Thaelia looked over at me confused.  I simply nodded.  For Poseidon to have entered this realm one had to summon him forth. The king had long suspected that Proteus had allowed the Sea God to enter the realm through some act of sacrifice as the Olympians honored tributes without fail.
"When the Sea God walked this earth it was through my doing and mine alone.  To save my love who had been captured by Surface Dwelling, 'fishermen'.  I thought I sacrificed my nights with my wife.  But, the sea god was not satisfied with that barter.  No, he saw fit to make my love the sacrifice of our arrangement.  He took her from me.  They bore a child together.  The surface dwellers killed your mother, and Poseidon did nothing!  The king?  He refused to bring the surface world to justice.  They are the real barbarians whom need to be brought under our rule.  For the betterment of this world!  Come now, bow before the true Sea King.  Assist your real father and I will grant you a throne." 
She knew he was speaking the truth or rather a manner of it.  In a way, she was the product of a madman's quest for vengeance.  She wasn't his sire.  But his magic was the catalyst that allowed a scion of Poseidon to come into being.  If the princess had any doubts about what that meant, Proteus might have been successful.  What he received instead, was the most painful looking punch I have ever received.  The chains that held the girl in place shattering immediately after.  "I care not for such trivialities.  The Glamazon already serves a king."
Proteus was more experienced.  His mental might was deadly.  She needed my help.  I struggled helplessly as the fighting began.  Every time she neared him, he would send a surge of psionic pressure into her mind.  Every second risked causing more unfathomable damage.  But still, she pushed forward.  Speeding up after slowing down.  Almost as if her body was actually recovering from the mental assault in moments.  He tried to keep the distance.  But she was too fast for him.  Flanking around to the side she would then dive beneath him.  He could not keep up.  Could not hone in to focus his mental might on her.  Those cardinal avenues of attack.
Grabbing his legs from below Thaelia would slam him head first into the ground below.  But she would not stop there.  The next move was a classic part of rudimentary schooling.  Her leg slamming down into his face directly after his head bounced off the ground.  The stomp driving his head deep into the ground.  "I already have a father."
I heard her whisper.  I knew she spoke not of her divine heritage.  And if the king were here.  He would be honored.  This was Thaelia. Princess of Atlantis
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Come and See: Epilogue 



 I guess at the beginning I felt more shocked than anything else, seeing Erin after so long. They say time moves different where we are and I guess it's true because there's no way of keeping track of minutes and hours, much less years. And you don't really want to anyway, when you're just totally happy doing whatever you're doing for as long as you're doing it. There's always enough time and never too much, and nobody ever gets put to bed, which is cool too. But it's not that way down on Earth, and time had totally left a mark on her.


My first impression was pretty much “hey, when did she get to be a grown-up?†because that was the most obvious thing. She's only a little taller now than I remember, but her face has changed a lot. The baby fat is all gone, and her hair is longer and straighter. No curling irons in the new world where she lives now, I guess. She was smiling when she saw us, but it was a weird smile; it looked kind of like it hurt. Like she wasn't used to really smiling very much, maybe. And her clothes were weird too, purple and black and clingy, like she'd dressed up as a superhero or a scuba diver for Halloween. Then I saw she had a sword strapped to her back, one with blood on the hilt, and it made me think that maybe she wasn't just dressed up. But it's too weird to think that your big sister might be a superhero, especially when you're still trying to deal with the idea that she's gotten so much older. I don't even know how old I am anymore, but she's way older. I looked at Mom and Dad to see if they were feeling the weird too, but they were just staring at Erin like they'd never had anything to look at before, and Mom was already crying, so I didn't know if that was good or bad.


Then came the hugging part, which is pretty normal. Lots of hugging in my family, always. Erin hugged me first, actually picked me up like I weighed nothing and hugged me till I oofed. Her body was shaking like she was crying, even though I didn't see any tears. She set me down then, but didn't let go. “Megan, oh god, Megan,†she whispered into my ear, then she pushed me back to arm's length and just looked at me for a long time till it was weird. “I'm so, so sorry,†she told me, with her voice cracking at the end. “I shouldn't have let you go. I should've found a way to save you.â€


“It's okay,†I told her, because it totally was. “Things kind of sucked there at the end anyway, and then I got to come here, where it's... you know, it's really great, all the time. Anyway, I know you did the best you could.†I gave her a big smile because it looked like she really needed it, and it seemed to work because she hugged me really tight again for a long time. Then she hugged Mom and Dad too, and talked to them both for awhile, but I couldn't hear what they were saying because it's basically impossible to eavesdrop here when other people don't want you to, so I guess it's not entirely perfect for little sisters. But they all started crying some, and Erin was crying and laughing at the same time, and I think they were telling her it was okay too, that they knew she'd done the best she could. Like I hadn't totally said it first and in a lot fewer words.


Then we all talked together for awhile, and that was cool because Erin told us all about what she'd been doing since she'd ditched Earth for her new world and we'd lost track of her for awhile, and it turned out she really is a superhero now. She uses all that strength and jumping and stuff to protect people and save her new world, and she's got a real job and a boyfriend she says is totally hot and has superpowers too. I'm gonna try and talk one of the angels into letting me get a look, now that we know where she is, because I'm super curious now. But she's doing good now, even though she's not with us, and she was really happy to see us and know we're good too. I guess she worried that in the shakeup in our universe that we might have somehow gotten lost or fallen out or something. But nobody gets lost up here, not for too long anyway, and nobody ever gets forgotten.


Eventually Erin had to go, because alive people aren't really supposed to be here at all and she was just around because she'd been doing a special favor for some of the big angels. Which is weird to think about too, her being powerful enough to do things like that, but I guess she's pretty hot stuff with that sword. It was sad to see her go because she cried again, but it's not her time to be with us yet. Just a little while longer, though. I can't wait to show her all my favorite places up here!  

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Cho Paige Lee

July 30th


“It’s not easy being a father.†weakly said John, Cho’s stepfather as he laid in the hospital bed, injured. His family wasn’t there, having vacated the room for now, as he needed to talk with Cho and only Cho, alone. The two had a few things to sort out.

“You...you know, it’s really not that simple. You meet someone, you fall in love but then there’s the problem of, well, you. The fact she was a widow and already had a kid. I didn’t know what to do, can you understand that?†he continued, clearly in pain from talking yet he kept going. “What was I even supposed to do, anyway? Should I try to be more like a father to you? But then you’d resent me because I’d be a stranger. Should I just avoid being a father and then have you resent me for being distant? W-what...what was I supposed to do?† Wheezing, he then began to sob while all held up in those tubes, broken. With one valid hand, he reached out to squeeze Cho’s forearm. “I...just tried to do my best, you know.â€

“I-I’m...I’m sorry!†said Cho, sobbing, crying, face twisted by uncontrollable tears. “I’m so, so sorry.†she continued, unable to stop crying. “Stop that. Now. You did good.†whispered John, reaching out to try to wipe tears off her face but failing. “That’s not the kind of face...well, I guess some potential future Freedom League member should make.â€


Sniffing back tears, Cho tried to speak. “Don’t say that, that’s silly, that would never happen.†She then shook her head. John tried to smile. “Well, maybe not but you get the idea. I suppose it would still be nice, someday. Assuming that's what you'd want."


“You didn’t have to do it.†The girl kept sobbing, uncontrollably. “You could have let me handle it.†As she cried, she kept her grip on her stepfather’s hand, causing him to let out a scream of pain as the grip got too strong. “S-sorry…†she said, sheepishly, as she let go of his hand.


“I regret nothing.†John closed his eyes, remembering the scene. Random carnage from some two-bits supervillain. Or perhaps not, but he didn’t care. All he knew is that someone had decided to crash his week end with his family. Naturally, Cho had stepped in to intervene, resulting in an all-out superhuman brawl that caused quite a lot of collateral damage in the process. ‘I’m such an hypocrite.’ he thought. He had always been the first to constantly berate Cho for getting herself in danger and yet, what did he do? Leap in the action. While the two were not blood-related, for good or ill, he had come to see her family or even his own daughter. As such, he couldn’t have left himself just standing there as a bystander. In the end the two proved to be much more alike than he would have imagined.

Seeing her fight like that was certainly quite the experience for him, considering he had always kept in mind the image of an out-of-control Cho, barely able to control herself, vaporizing anything she tried to hold. Of course, that was the past; things had much changed since then. Part of him would never admit it, but he had felt pride back there. Deep down, he knew he could be proud of her despite sometimes disagreeing. ‘Kids grow up too fast.’ he thought to himself as the images kept flowing in his mind. The battle was turning seriously in the villain’s favor, Cho was no match for him, it seemed. It was then that John acted completely on impulse, as his stepdaughter was about to get torn apart, as he lept into action, interposing himself between her and the blast and taking it full force.

“You could have died out there.†The girl wept. “What were you thinking?! I-I..†Once more, Cho started crying. “It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything.â€

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Time Enough for Revenge

Crimson Tiger Vignette

From the perspective of Anuman Benjawan.


She destroyed my knee, and I am a fighter. I am one of the greatest fighters in all of Thailand, and she destroyed my knee. That, that cannot stand. I am Anuman Benjawan, and I should be the Black Tiger. The legacy of that name has stood for nearly a hundred years. Then, some girl in America, fighting with the Muay Thai style, calls herself the Crimson Tiger. A girl, a girl who disrespected the legacy of her family and dishonored the art of Muay Thai. Women do not belong in training, they do not belong in the ring, and they do not belong with a silly little tiger mask on their faces.


Then, in one shot, she destroyed my knee. Destroyed it with a lucky kick that she threw out in desperation. I suppose even a mutt will bite back if you threaten it. I was going to end the blight upon my ancestor's legacy and end her worthless life.


She kept getting lucky shots, kept managing to evade my strikes or block them. She was well trained, but I was better. I was leagues above her, or any other fighter in the world. I grew angry, a righteous, just anger at a mere woman somehow managing to get lucky enough to stay ahead of my strikes. I was in the right when I tried to end her life.


She tore my operations down around my ear, she damaged my reputation in Thailand, and she didn't expect vengeance? Her father would not tell me where to find her, so I beat him into the ground for daring to stand in front of me. Did he expect any other result? Protecting a woman from a just and righteous punishment.


She came for me, as I knew she would, and she defeated the thugs I left for her. A present, to test her mettle. I wanted to see if her reputation was a fluke. It was, of course. She defeated mere thugs but couldn't stand before a real warrior. I crushed her as effortlessly as I would have one of those thus. It was luck and desperation that saved her from a humiliating defeat, and a lucky shot that saved her from death.


Now, however, I have been imprisoned for two, torturous years. This has taught me a few things. The American justice system is perhaps kinder than the one in Thailand, but no less corrupt. I was able to manipulate and control those within this place, and it did not take me long to acquire influence and power here.


I have decided that I do not want to kill her anymore. It would be just, and it would be right, but death is a swift and easy punishment. Revenge, though just, would be a waste of time. If I dedicate my resources to her destruction, I risk losing favor with those I have made into allies. They will neither care, nor understand my need to punish her. However, she apparently hates the drug trade, and that is where I can trap her. It is a beautiful idea. Put drugs on the streets of Freedom City, and lay them like a road in front of her. She will follow the trail, and she will find that I have prepared things for her.


I do not want to kill her, because that's not punishment enough. She needs to be driven out of heroics, driven to put her costume down and walk away from crime fighting and fighting in general. She needs to have her motivation and hope crushed out of her. That would be the best punishment.


My knee is shattered. They have managed to get me to walk, but it will always be a weak spot and I will never fight a foe that knows of it. My fists remain strong, and I can still knock a grown man off his feet, but I cannot use Muay Thai in it's truest, purest form. I cannot kick, I cannot deliver knee strikes. I cannot perform that beautiful, brutal dance that I was raised to perform since I was barely old enough to walk.


If I cannot use my legs, I will use my mind. If I cannot use my knees, I will use my influence and power. Prison is a fine place to be if you have the knowledge and power to rule within it. I have a sentence that will probably end in around ten, fifteen years. With these conditions, I can do that length of time without effort. I will sleep easy knowing that the false tiger is being punished. I will sleep as though it were back in my own bed, in Thailand.


For as long as it takes, I will do what I must to punish her. Though it may take me years to put the pieces into place, in the end, I will have won, and she will have lost. I can no longer defeat her with my hands, elbows, knees and feet. I'll simply have to defeat her with worse, I will crush her heart and destroy her hope.

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Foreshadow ( From the perspective of Alaina Zelichonok)




En Route to Sloane and Zelichonok manor

Bayview, Freedom City, New Jersey

Friday, May 16th, 2014

It was night


The classes were supposed to be the most difficult experience in being enrolled in HIT.  Studying a stressful experience.  And for many other people this was likely true.  I had two fathers whom defected from former Soviet Russia, and now run the most elite gymnastics oriented gym in the city.  A best friend who leaps off buildings into a hail of gunfire for fun as a nightly activity.  And I'm the gal who keeps it all running.  I'm made of tougher stuff is all I'm saying.  Not to toot my own made of awesome horn.  But I'm awesome.


I pulled up into our sprawling manor.  And I can say our, for as much money I put in this is definitely mine too.  at least until we finally do the grown up thing and stop living together.  Anyways, he never turned on the lights.  It was the single most frustrating thing about living with a guy who could psychically 'know' his surroundings.  It made him likely to ignore what us psychically challenged people had to deal with.  From behind I could see he was watching some ridiculous tv show.  Supercrime!  We really have to get him watching quality tv one of these days.  I threw his lunch order to him in a paper sack.  Of course he caught it without turning around.


"Wings and fries.  Did you attend class today?  Don't answer, I know you stayed home to play some ridiculous video game.  Just because you're rich doesn't mean you can just play around all day."  Yes, I was effectively the assistant to a man child.


"It's fine, I memorized the material months ago."  


Memorized not learned.  He had a memory that was to be admired.  But the only time he ever applied himself it was to get whatever thrill junkie fix came from being Foreshadow.  Alright, that isn't fair.  He loves to help people too.  However, he could stand to do so with less jumping from the top of moving vehicles.  "I'm going to order some more equipment.  Anything you need?"


"Bout that.  There's a weapons deals from this big Mafiya group.  Guy wants to move in on big Al's territory.  I'm a recognizable commodity to a guy like him.  Need someone to go in on the inside.  Someone who hasn't been in any headlines.  Otherwise I'd come in as Erick Sloane.  They should probably speak Russian too."


I knew what he was asking of me.  I didn't go on 'missions' often.  At first he forbade me.  Nowadays, he likes knowing that if he gets a vision of me in danger he'll already be nearby enough to prevent it.  It's this sort of annoying big brother thing.  That involved getting shot at often.  "Alright can I pick the cover?  I'm a Southern oil heiress."




"Princess from an isolated land coming to learn of man's world."




"Alcoholic by day genius investor by night."


"I've already planted the seeds for your cover.  He thinks you're part of the Wolf's family.  Looking to get your fang's in the city and take out Big Al on an allied front. He's expecting you on his casino boat tonight.  I just need you to copy the entirety of his hard drive to a thumb drive or something."


Of course he thought it was something you could just pop in and be out with.  Look he can work a computer, but it's a very informal do it yourself education with a lot of room for improvement.  "Well, that sounds like you have to hurry up.  I'll need a new dress.  Chop chop.  Eat your meal, I'll develop a program to play superspy."


*      *      *


The evening went by relatively smoothly.  I played my part of the cold detached Russian Mafiya brilliantly if I do say so myself.  Mingled very little.  Drank a bit more than I should have.  It was all going smoothly.  I even managed to get the info from a personal laptop.  What I hadn't counted on was the secret camera in the room recording my every move.  I wasn't used to this line of work.  But I knew when two big thugs walked up behind you and put a paper sack over your head it wasn't a good thing.


Held down on a chair they removed the covering from my face.  Lo and behold the big Russian gangster?  Yeah, about him.  He was an Avian.  Or half Avian at least.  His talons streaked across my face.  Eyes narrowing afterwards.  He thought he was tough.  What he was, was a guy covered in my spit.  "You b****!  My men, shall enjoy cutting you up into little pieces.  But first, you will talk.  And we will make you talk.  Who do you work for."


Erick crashed through the glass window in full costume.  He was graceful in a way that was just downright divine.  They fired aimlessly into the air trying to hit him.  But he was already gone.  I kicked the man who was supposed to be holding me in the crotch.  He made the mistake of dropping his guard.  I didn't.  


Who do I work for?  The guy whose going to kick your wannabe criminal a**.  I turned off the lights.  There were sounds.  Flashes of muzzle fire.  As every second passed the gunfire died down one by one.  Until there was nothing but complete silence.  By the time I turned the lights back there were only two conscious people in the room.  And none of them worked for an Avian Mafiya with grandiose criminal dreams.

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