Jump to content

June Vignette - Foreign Climes / New Civilizations

Recommended Posts

Foreign Climes / New Civilizations


They say travel broadens the mind, and some heroes can get anywhere in the world in mere seconds, but it's not until you stop and experience a place that you can truly learn something.


So for this month's vignette we’d like you to tell a story of how yourcharacter was taught something whilst spending time in another country. Whilst they might have help saved the day, it’s the local who managed to solve their own problems.



And if your character is active in space, then don’t despair, it just means you have an entire alien culture to work with!


Post your vignette in this thread by midnight of Thursday, June 30th so that it can be included in this month's post counts.


Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...


Exciting New Worlds


Wiping away the thick fog of condensation from the intensely hot showers he preferred, Riley studied himself in the bathroom mirror. As usual, he didn't like what he saw – but the nice thing about the changes in his body on Earth-Prime was that he could do something about those. Dabbing on a few dots of shaving cream, he carefully shaved the fuzzy corners of his upper lip, in private letting himself grin hugely as he did so. Real f$(#ing facial hair, for the first time in his life! He'd originally let the thick, dark hairs grow in, but after some consideration and a few hard looks in the mirror, he'd decided he was man enough to shave. He'd be growing hair thick enough for a real mustache and goatee in a month or two now, there was no reason walking around like he had anything to prove – unlike the peach fuzz boys he'd seen wandering around campus.


Still studying his face in the mirror, he began to dress for his date – settling on a baggy, short-sleeved plaid button shirt that showed off his thickly muscled arms (and hadn't they been getting bigger too in the last year, how nice!) and running his wet hands through the very short dark hair he was going to need to shave any time now. As he did so, he experimented with what exactly he planned to say – knowing that otherwise he and Robin might not say anything at all. “Hey, babe, since we spent this year screwing around, don't you think it's time we screwed around-” He laughed and whipped a washcloth at his reflection. “Yeah, right, so I can sound like Huang...”


Admittedly, Huang was a lot more successful with boys than Riley typically was with girls even when he'd been a 14 year old trying to ask girls out when he still wore dresses sometimes – but Huang's brand of success probably wasn't what he was looking for here. He tried again as he buttoned his brown slacks. “Robin, you and I've been wanting this for a long time, so don't you think it's time we-nah.” He shook his head again, tying up his shoes, trying to think of what exactly he could say to Robin on their date – a date that would hopefully end the way Cathy's and Huang's (and maybe Sanderson's? He wasn't sure) dates usually ended. Maybe he didn't need words – he knew what she thought of the guys around Claremont who tried lots of lines to get in girls' pants. Robin wasn't really with him because of his abilities as a conversationalist. But he wanted those words for her anyway.


“Because you deserve it,” he told his reflection in the now-mostly cleared glass. “This place, with you in it, is where I learned how to be the man I never saw in the mirror – but always saw up here.” He pointed to his temple. “And that man wants to be with you, now, and maybe forever. As long as you're here, and I'm here, this place isn't so strange. You make any place feel like home.” He smiled fractionally, allowing himself humor at his own expense in private that he'd never have allowed outside the confines of the bathroom. “damn, I shouldn't tell a girl she feels like home...maybe I'd better bring some nice flowers, too. Don't want her thinking I'm getting all clingy...” He thought about getting clingy with Robin, really clingy, and then gripped the side of the sink, taking slow, deliberate breaths in the style that he'd learned in meditation.


He was really feeling the T today – or maybe what he was really feeling was wanting to get with his brave, clever, and super-hot girlfriend. Easy there, buddy, he thought, the voice in his head sounding more than a little like his mom's. She was the one who'd taught him that he was the best kind of man – somebody who knew what it was like to be a girl (sort of) and who knew what it was like when men were jerks


Of course, talks with his mom (much less ever-'helpful' Peyton!) about girls had never really covered his plans for later that evening. 


"You know what?" he finally murmured to his reflection, talking out his feelings under his breath. "I'm gonna ask Robin if she wants to have sex tonight. The only way we're gonna solve this is to solve it together." 

Link to comment

Sea Devil

Precious Lord

Temple Ben David

West End




5:2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

5:3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.

5:4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.

5:5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.

5:6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.

5:7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.



Aquaria listened as the Surfacer shaman spoke, closing her eyes as she listened to the man's tale – remembering stories of the ancient Deep One past passed down through untold generations and the whispers of Dagon and Hydra from below, trying to place the Surfacer tale against the ancient hymns and prayers of her people. “Yes,” she finally croaked softly, opening her eyes and looking at the rabbi. “We tell that story, of the days before the Journey West, when we sought homes in the rivers of the Surface. But there is more.” When she spoke again, she spoke with the slow, resonant tones of a woman translating from one language to another. The Lemurian of her youth often wrapped poorly around English – it was hard to turn a song into a story.




Then the Surface-men

said to the People of Dagon

You have brought this curse -


You will be cast out

from the Peoples of the Sea

and be vagabonds


And Lo, Great Dagon spoke:

'You have abandoned my kind

and broken the Pacts


Your name is curs-ed

And your foes will use your ashes

to write of your doom


Your temple will fall when

he who does not see sees your

fall.' So speaks Dagon.



The shaman coughed – and even Jessie, Aquaria realized, was giving her an odd look. “Well, that's...interesting,” said the rabbi, scribbling away on his paper with his ink-filled pen. “Your memory is excellent. You say you learned that all from oral history?”


We had some writing,” said Aquaria, “but not as many as those who lived in cities. It was mostly memory aids for the shamans to remember our songs – and what they meant.


And what did that song mean?”


It meant to never trust a Surfacer,” said Aquaria, casting her eyes downward awkwardly. “That even those who seemed to be our friends would turn on us eventually – and so we should stick to our own kind.” She gave Jessie an apologetic look, massive shoulders rising in her best imitation of a Surfacer shrug. “The story of the Sea Peoples is a story about the sins of mixing blood and the abomination of the desolation above...But I think it means to be wary of false friends – and false leaders. Those who would lead their people to war without finishing it – or without a reason.


Are there other Deep Ones who believe as you do?” asked the rabbi, whose investigations into comparative religions were going far beyond what he'd learned in his training.


Yes,” said Aquaria immediately, “there are others who know the true teachings of Dagon and Hydra. But as far as I know, I am the only one who has walked Above. The shamans were wrong – the gods are not too far Below to hear here. I hear them beneath the stars and in the waves, and even in the songs of your people.” She reached over and squeezed Jessie's hand. “And wherever I have a friend.


Link to comment

Blue Jay

Claremont Academy

Sometime in 2012


The smartphone lay in the middle of the table, a rectangle of glass and high technology in the middle of a sea of dark wood and pre-industrial craftsmanship. Tona Baudin stared at it, distrustful but waiting. She had only spent a few days away from her home and the Silver Tree of the Furions, a few days away from the total oppression of the Terminus, a few days in this wonderous land of heroes and god-killers, and now she was being told that there was a kind of magic called a phone.


Anne Gables sat across the table from this new stranger and surreptitiously checked the clock again. She had been sitting in this room for more than two hours now, trying to explain modern computing technology to someone who had never handled anything more complicated than a crossbow. When she had volunteered for extra credit to Mr. Archer, she hadn’t been expecting something like this. Still, she had volunteered… The girl took a deep breath and dove back into it. “See, something like this is called a smartphone, although older people call it a cellphone or a cell. My dad actually still calls his a cellular – but you don’t need to know all that.” Anne caught Tona’s uncomprehending look across the table and started to pare back her commentary. “You can learn to do a lot of things with a smartphone. It’s your window to the whole world, really!”


Tona looked between the phone and Anne’s face, then slowly picked up the smartphone and held it up, at arm’s length. “I’ve seen windows,” she said slowly. “Windows are in walls.” She paused and added, “And you can see through them.”


Anne sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “Okay, don’t worry about that. What most people use phones – use smartphone for is to talk to other people. You call them up and you have a chat.”


Tona’s lips moved as she repeated the unfamiliar words for them. “I called you before,” she said, “when we were on other sides of the castle.” She kept referring to the Academy’s campus as ‘the castle,’ apparently fixated on the high walls and towers. “You always said I did not have to call, to yell at the phone.”


Anne nodded slowly. “Right, right. You shouldn’t have to yell when using a smartphone. That’s because there’s… There’s like, tiny little demons inside.” Tona’s eyes lit up at that explanation and Anne felt a thrill, felt like she had made a connection with the stranger for the first time all day. “Little demons in your phone hear the message, and fly it over to my phone and tell the demons in my phone, and then I hear your message.”


Tona held the smartphone in both hands, gazing down at it with a rapt expression and wide eyes. “There are demons in here?” she whispered. Anne gave an encouraging noise, waiting for the stranger to reply. Tona stared at the phone in silence for a long minute – then, she raised it above her head and brought it down hard on the edge of the table, snapping the glass and plastic casing clean in half.


Anne gave a startled shriek at the sudden outburst of violence, as Tona prodded at the goo that seeped out of the broken screen. The Terminus native looked up at the Claremont student, eyes fierce and body coiled. “It’s bleeding,” she hissed. “We’ve wounded the demons, now we have to finish them off!"


Edited by Raveled
Link to comment

The Future Is A Foreign Country


Providence Asylum – Hospital Ward

June 2016


In the wee small hours of the morning, Richard kept talking, even as he listened to his father's steady breathing. Bryant was supposed to be sleeping – but sleep meant nightmares brought by the powerful painkillers that kept him comfortable in the day, nightmarish claustrophobia in a man who had spent the past forty years in and out of institutions. Paige and Will had helped when they were there – but the problem was organic, not mental, the brain itself under siege from fast-spreading cancer.


“So, like, the future's pretty rad, ya know? Pretty girls in tight suits as far as I can see – and super-tech everywhere. Future types almost picked me up last time I went jogging, but it turns out I'm the fastest thing in 2500.” He snorted. “Good thing that worked out. Don't need to call Ma to tell her she needs to get Paige to come get me out of future jail...”


“Eighth of December,” said Bryant Haliday, his voice almost a whisper. “You should have gone on the eighth of December. That's Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day...is there water?”


Richard brought him a cup, holding to his father's lips, almost before the old man had finished speaking. “Maybe next time, Pops....” He smiled, hard, his face half-visible in the darkened room. “I mean, as I look at it, as long as I'm not messing around with my future, or my wife or my kids', nothing I'm doing is actionable.”


“Bet on the ponies, boy...make a million dollars overnight...” The two men held hands, Bryant's covered in bruises from the IVs sunk into the back of his hand and the effects of his medication.


“Ma and me tried that when I was ten, it didn't work out so well,” said Richard, squeezing his father's hand lightly. “It's not the same future every time – that's why there's no Centurion with the Legion anymore.” He sighed, putting aside the thoughts of a man dead when his own father had only weeks remaining.


“Should pick one and move there. Get yourself a pretty future girl with no morals...” Richard caught the smile on Bryant's face.


“I already got a pretty girl, Pops.” Richard thought about what he'd seen of the future, in all its ups and down, in his occasional visits into the future of humanity. “Besides, the future's not for people like us – it's for the kids. They don't need a lot of time travelers crowding it out. Can you imagine if every steam punk showed up here with some time traveling gizmo and tried to settle down?”


“Mmm. People better?”


“They're still people. They still screw up, they still have stupid grudges...” Richard thought about standing on the streets of Freedom City, watching the Legion flying overhead, hearing a multi-species crowd screaming its joy. “But they've lost a lot of them. Everybody eating, and having medicine for when the kids get sick, having a good place to live, really does make people treat each other better. The future's a good place to live.”


“Why you not good enough?” Bryant squeezed his son's hand again, turning to look at him with eyes gone a brilliant sky-blue. “You take care of your wife, your kids. Good father.” The two men, the long-absent father and the long-absent son, shared a long, silent look at that.


“I'm not that good,” said Richard, shaking his head. “But I try and take care of my family, and keep anything bad from happening to people who don't have it coming. That's not being a hero, that's just...being worth something. Future belongs to the young. That's not me anymore. You know I'm past fifty, Dad? I see some of these immortal types running around like they were born twenty years ago, and...I dunno. Not my style.”


“That why you dress like that?”


“Hey, this is a perfectly fashionable outfit, Dad,” said Richard as he touched the broad lapels of his leather jacket, “not my fault the kids don't wear it anymore.” He smiled slightly. “I can run around in the future all I want, but I guess I can't ever know enough about it – same reason I can't know everything about the past just because I run around there. The only way the past will be there when we're gone is if we show the kids what it was like – and if no one else wants to remember the past, it's our job to make sure somebody does.”


Bryant fell silent, still breathing, and for several minutes Richard thought his father had finally fallen asleep. When he finally spoke in a dry, scratchy voice, it struck him to his core. “How you gonna remember me?”


Richard squeezed his father's hand and thought about abandonment driven by a broken brain, by his mother's anger transmuted to grief, about life without his male parent in his life.


“As my dad.”

Link to comment



Whip it


Omecron 8 was a world full of tepid oceans and cool swamps, green, lush, and full of all manner of life. Including a primitive tribe of sentient humanoids. Purple skinned, short, and stocky with black eyes and black hair, the natives were believed to be an offshoot of humanity, placed on this mangrove world by the Preservers countless millennia ago.


Normally such a world would be off limits to casual visitors, but the world was so rich in flora, fauna, and disease (regrettably) that it had been visited many times, the law on such things being bent and twisted. The natives were aware of the visitors from the stars, and had been remarkably accepting of them, whilst fiercely protecting their own customs. They had a curious mix of xenophobia and tolerance in this matter.


Mindful of the unique situation, it was now possible to visit the world providing it was for scientific motivation. Of course, there was some tension with commercial, or industrial motivations, given the diverse biosphere, but by and large the world was protected from exploitation.


It was not an easy world to study, or research. It was, in fact, dangerous. For this reason, Starshot had taken a job many years ago babysitting a small team of biochemists, botanists, and zoologists examining the world.

They had been met by the local tribe. Communication was not easy, but over the weeks some basic understanding could be had. Starshot had taken to trying to understand the tribe as best he could. There was something noble in them. Insular, yes. Prideful, true. But something serene too.


The most holy and sacred thing an adult Omecronian could own was a Sky-whip. It was most difficult, and dangerous, to obtain. Atop the huge cloud-trees lay its vines, from which could be fashioned a sky whip. Those same trees were home to brutal birds of prey. As a rite of passage, prospective hunters would climb a cloud tree, take a vine, and hunt the birds with vine.


As it stood, the cloud-tree vines were strong and hardy. Excellent material for ropes and whips, which had entwined with the belief system of the Omecronian. Starshot had little time for religion himself, having seen so many. But he respected the focus of ritual.


And he yearned the adventure.


And so, to the valley of the Cloud Trees he went, bare chested, painted with a rather foul smelling paint. The twin suns shone bright, and he was glad of the canopy of leaves and flowers above. The trees themselves were resplendent, towering, gnarled. And easy to climb, with mottled bark and twisted form, they had plentiful holds. The gravity of the world was rather low, making the climb easier.


But as the tribes hopefuls ascended, vertigo threatened. The sun shone brighter. And the branches just that little thinner. Not enough to challenge, but enough to make one think twice. Yet none of the hopefuls faltered or doubted, or even thought twice.


It was, Starshot decided, a question not of faith, but of commitment. They had committed to the task at hand, and hence would not entertain confusion or doubt on the matter. They would no more contemplate turning back than they would falling upwards to the clouds.


For a man infected with doubt, such as he, for a man who had been a slave of two worlds, such commitment was enthralling. A commitment not imposed, but chosen, of free will and free heart.


The sweat, under the suns, ran freely. The sickly ritual paint ran. His brow was wet and came, stinging, to his eyes. He squinted under the glare. Up high, the ritual started to test ones endurance, rather than the leisurely climb at the base.




Muscles now ached. For all his strength, Starshot was not one with the branches and wood like the tribe he climbed with. Then, the first of the Sky-vines was spied, to the cheers of the half dozen prospective hunters. Just like the revered and symbolic whips he had seen on the seasoned ones.


Gathering them was easy. Perhaps they were a little hairy, perhaps they itched a little, but nothing that the ritualistic curing and preparation would not sort out. And serviceable.


The others started winding the vine, taking flicks into the air with the skill of ones practiced since birth in the art. For his part, he did well enough. He was no expert with the whip, but it was not alien to him either. He had felt the sting of one, on occasion.


The screech of birds sliced through the air. Harsh, penetrating calls that almost hurt his ear. It was hard to see in the bright light, but the shadows of wings could be seen.


Hells, they were big! Bigger than he had thought. Bigger to cast a spell of fear for a moment. But by now, he shared in the gestalt of the alien hunters. Commitment, focus. There was no choice, no dilemma, no consideration. The decision had been made, right at the base of the tree. Now, there was but implementation of action.


Fast, the birds were too. Fast enough to startle if one had not chosen. But now, Starshot had, and fear melted away. Just movement. The movement of wings, the movement of hands. Like the young hunters he was with.


Crack, crack crack!


The whips sang. He missed, and was rewarded with a cut of talon. The pain was there, but somehow irrelevant to the task at hand. As if happened to somebody else. So too, the seeping blood, mixing with sweat and paint.


Cries of success came from his fellow hunters. He cracked his whip once again, stunning a bird which fell unconscious to its doom. He was not fast enough to catch it. No despondency. Just more action. Just action.


Crack again, and the vine wrapped like a web around the bird, tangling in it. No success, not yet. He yanked, hot of body but not of mind, and reached out, unafraid of falling, to clasp the bird in his metal hand. The kill was messy but again with that sense of focus; the decision had been made, there was just implementation.


He cried like the others had cried, a salute to the Alien Gods of the sky.


By the time the expedition was leaving, Starshot would not leave without regret. True, a restless spirit could not stay in one place long, but he was not made of stone. He would miss the world, miss the tribe, the smells, sounds, and sights. Like many worlds, it had left an impression.


He brushed the Sky-Vine whip at his hip. He would take something more concrete away than a hunting trophy. More than a head or horn or tooth that adorned the lounge of his ship. And he would take something more ethereal. A restless spirit was ill often ill at ease. But the commitment, the dedication of the ritual hunt, that moment when doubt and fear melted away, where there was only perception and action, because the decision had already been taken. That, he would not forget. That would be his steel.

Edited by Supercape
Link to comment

Doctor Warp – Bridge over calm water


The Oresund bridge was an engineering marvel. Running between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden, the combined road and rail bridge was 4 kilometres long. Not the longest bridge in the world, but impressive by any standards.


It took some persuading to use for a short man weighing a Ton.


“Sir, I have researched the structural engineering of the Oresund bridge. I have a specially adapted vehicle, and I can assure you I have full confidence that we are well within the structural safety parameters…”


Professor Erasmus Bolt needed to take great care, and make great expense and travel. Weighing a ton made things like flying particularly difficult.


I really must invent something! Like a gravity car! He decided.


In the mean time, he and his wife really wanted to get to Copenhagen. They had had a few days in Stockholm, his wife, Doctor Meredith Bolt, attending an international conference on non-epileptic attack disorder. He had spent the days strolling the city and soaking up the Scandinavian culture.


Fika. The practice of taking coffee and pastries. Slowing down, socialising, relaxing. It was extremely popular, and Erasmus could see why. He was a restless man, always working. It did not do his head, or, as his wife reminded him, his heart any good. Either literally or metaphorically. The ritual of Fika had unwound him. He found himself less irritable. And, he reflected, curiously enough in that state of relaxation, he had come up with, unbidden, several rather attractive new theories and ideas. By simply not trying, his brain had come unstuck.


Lagom. “Just the right amount”. Viking origin. He had discovered, contrary to popular belief, that Vikings were not wild savages wearing horned helmets and driven to excess. On the contrary, whilst far from Spartan, excess, particularly if it deprived the others of ones “tribe”, was to be frowned on. And here, in Scandinavia, Lagom persisted. Just the right amount, neither puritanical abstinence nor selfish gluttony. To a man with millions in the bank, it was thought provoking, and sat well enough with him. His money was a means to an end, not an end in itself. And his wife had done a good job – for which he was thankful – of preventing him spiralling out of control in a vortex of money and power. Lagom. He would remember that. Just the right amount.


As it so happened, with a debate and a few phone calls, Erasmus and Ruby bolt were allowed to pass over the bridge. After Erasmus showed the officer all the engineering specifications and research he had done on it.

Halfway across the bridge, there was an accident.


Despite initial inclinations that might have prepossessed a nation more predisposed to blame, this was not the fault of Erasmus Bolt. It was an unfortunate freak accident that fortunately happened to have a freak nearby; said freak being aforesaid Erasmus Bolt.


A medium sized truck had a blowout at precisely the wrong moment. It turned in precisely the wrong way, flipped in a similar manner, and rolled down the bridge, and half way through the barrier on the side.

The truck had a precarious wobble. The cold waters of the Baltic were so very black and far away, but had a most present quality.


Several other cars had been crushed, or swerved. No doubt there were serious injuries, and quite possibly deaths. Ruby Bolt was a neurologist, but no doctor would be turned away. She rushed off to see what she could do.


“Don’t move!” she ordered her pale faced husband, who, for a moment, had been overcome by fear that he had, somehow, been the cause of this most unlikely and ghastly accident.


He was caught between activity and inactivity. Panic, the urge to act, the paralysis of fear, all whirled for supremacy.


A few helpful bystanders had taken out of their car and were pondering the wobbling bridge. Somehow, a precise blend of action without being reckless. A Lagom of action.


Carefully, Erasmus exited his car, the vehicle sighing relief as one ton was removed from its customised suspension.


Action. But not too much. He was heavy – too fast a movement could tip the truck into the cold waters below.


He took a deep breath, and acted without undue speed, or undue delay. Spatial dimensions contracted around him. His arm did not elongate, but rather, the universe contracted around it, and, standing a hundred or so feet from the truck, he gripped it, with the most feather like of touches.


Even that was enough to begin the tilt that would end with a plunge. But there was no surge, no sudden plummet. As he felt, with numb fingers, the balance shift, her gripped tightly and held.


“Hold it!” came the cry from the helpers. A redundant piece of advice on fast glance, but perhaps not completely so. If he pulled now, pulled to hard, then he might tear the truck in two. No, he had to pull just the right amount, slowly, with caution, with love. No panic.


Leaning back, his weight acting to advantage now, the truck slowly grinded against the remains of the barrier. Oh so careful, he had to be. Inch, by inch. Pause by pause. Bystanders, who weighed considerably less than he did, went by the truck, guiding him with their eyes about whether to pull, and whether to wait, which direction and which angle to take. It was fortunate that the truck driver was unconscious. It would have been a frightful ordeal to watch.


With patience and help, the truck rolled back to the bridge, that stood still resolute. Flashing lights and emergency services surrounded them, and the process of saving and mending started with more vigour. Erasmus bolt was given many a handshake, and many a slap on the back. And he found himself doing the very same, and with all due gratitude and comradeship, to the people around him.


Edited by Supercape
Link to comment

Flintlock – London Calling




Captain Annabelle Flintlock awoke at an unseemly hour of the evening, nursing a rather vexatious hangover. Her nostrils flared from a toxic aroma of bile and urine. She was most bedraggled.


In was 1976, and she was in London. More specifically, she was lying, half drunk and half conscious in a street in Soho.


She recalled something about seeing a group of young angry musicians. The Fornicating Flintlocks, or something.


She reached up to her head, and noted that yes, she had indeed shaved a Mohican that afternoon. Whilst she could not actually see her hair, she strongly suspected that, yes, she had also died it a most fluorescent purple.


She tried not to think about the piercings.


“C’mon, c’mon, they are starting soon!”


Ah yes, her “punk” friends she had met yesterday. Sleaze and Spiderflower. She vaguely recalled they were a couple. But frankly, in this day, age, culture and location, she had come to realise that relationships were as ephemeral as mist. Drink, music, anger. Drugs and sex. And most importantly, rock and roll.


She rather liked the furious rebellion of the kids. She rather loved it.


Sleaze had been tall and skinny as a pole. She kept thinking he might have scurvy. His skin was so pale, she thought he might get sunburn from watching fireworks. His hair was jet black, and greasy enough that one could fry your breakfast on it.


Spiderflower had had one tattoo too many, even by her Liberal standards. Spiky green hair and a cobweb on one cheek. Plump and ugly and infuriatingly sexy, her anger powered by a lust for life rather than sullen rejection.


They had been most agreeable drinking companions for the last twenty four hours. She had taught them some particularly saucy sea ditties, and they had insisted on drinking some more, urinating in public, and dragging her to some new “in” band, whose name she could not quite remember. The Fornicating Flintlocks was all that came to mind, and that their lead singer was a putrid fellow, by name if not nature.


So on she stumbled, hand held by new friends, through streets she vaguely knew, to a venue she did not know. An act of spectacular blagging commenced. In order to jump the queue of this most popular show, Captain Flintlock had to threaten the bouncer with the complete [xxxxx] of his [xxxxxx] with two pencils and a walrus. She rather suspected that the rather saucy and completely deceptive insinuations of Ms. Spiderflower and her most red lips were the deciding factor in entering the establishment.


Ye Gods! The heat. The smell of alcohol and sweat and, she believed, other less palatable odours of hopefully (but not necessarily) human origin. There was a resounding press of flesh. Everywhere, young and angry flesh. Colours and Lights and spitting and sound. Damn the establishment! Damn the fascist regime! So said they all, in word and deed.


And so on they came, the four men of this band she could not quite recall. What they lacked in musicianship, and, to be fair, it was lacking, they more than made up in furious charisma. The crowd pressed further, like a seething monoorganism despite all protestations of individuality. This was a cult, but a cult with energy and without direction. The mission, the rapture, was all defiance.


Anger is an energy.


Who said it first, she did not know, but it was soon spoken, chanted, and worshipped. And yes, amidst youth who, she noted, were always angry about something or other, here was some spark. Here was barely restrained and barely contained anger.


And soon she joined the chant. And danced the mad dance. And spat and drank and sweated profusely. It took quite something for a woman of threehundred years to lose herself in the novel, although she would always be wild.


Anger is an energy.


Gods, the false, the true, the ones that were true and you wished were false, the ones that were false and you wished were true, Gods, all of them, she was angry. For three hundred years she was angry. It spiked her insides and tainted her heart. Perhaps it always wood, but right here, right now, amongst the cult of the furious, she could revel in it.


God save the Queen!

Edited by Supercape
Link to comment

The Red Rat – Paris on the Run


It had been but a few weeks since the Red Rat had escaped Russia. And a curious escape it had been.

The world had changed. She had been awake only intermittently since the cold war, spending most of her time frozen, awaiting her next mission. But then the USSR had collapsed, the intelligence community collapsed and scattered, and the Red Rat had been lost.


Lost for decades, in Siberia, in a cold, frozen, and forgotten bunker. Until, that is, she was found by UNISON. The meeting did not go well.


Maybe, she reflected, she was disorientated. Maybe confused. It was hard to tell. Her Soviet Handlers did not go lightly when it came to her training or her conditioning, both mental and physical. And having a computer welded to your skull full of fixed propaganda did not help.


Warning: Corrupt western propaganda! Beeped SLAVE inside her head every now and again, as she scanned western adverts for jeans, hamburger joints, and luxury holidays to Barbados.


Suits me she thought, silently in her head.


Not willing to ever again serve a government, of any political persuasion, she went on the run. She was out of date, but spy craft never went completely cold. She was trained, and had several advantages.


But still, here she was, a couple of weeks down the line, dressed in Soviet style grey clothes that would, under some circumstances, make her just another brick in the world. In fashionable Paris, it made her look like an escapee from a dubious and historical lunatic asylum.


“<Oh, Pardon Monsieur!>” she blurted as she bumped into a suited Gentleman of finely cut cloth and expensive spectacles. She was pleased that the French language had been part of Soviet Spy Training school.


Not ten minutes later, she walked away from a Cash Machine with a goodly sum of Francs. SLAVE could hack into the cash machine with great ease once she had inserted that very same gentlemans cash card. He was, as she guessed, rich.


Commendation: Appropriation of wealth from Capitalist Tyrant is glorious act!


She ignored her skull. The Man was wealthy enough to miss the bundle of cash. And, from the looks of his back account and expenditures, would barely notice. She was not without guilt, but this was, after all, survival.

Off she went to the nearest clothes shop.


“<Can I help you…madam…>” sniffed the assistant. His manner and tone spoke of class, style, and a sexual orientation that she judged would make him quite immune to her seductive charms. She was actually relieved. She could use plain charm instead.


As it turned out, the gentleman was rather helpful. His disgust at her blandness had, once smoothed over, turned to a drive to educate her and transform her. The man was clearly most pleased to rise to a challenge.


“<Oh monsieur! I do hope so. I have come into some money, and, well, as you can see, fashion has always been…>” she swayed her hands over her drab clothes, leaving the sentence unfinished in words and so very finished in meaning.


“<Ah yes, I..see your problem>” he said, more keen once Noemi had showed him her considerable amount of notes and asked how much it would get her. It seemed that despite the cost of the very fine clothes at the very fine establishment, a modest little wardrobe could be purchased.


And so began a whirlwind of dressed, blouses, hats, shawls, shoes, scarfs, suits and jackets. She even tried a fascinator. The gentleman was most pleased to show her exquisite French Lingerie that seemed was attractively racy, but a little too lacy.


Warning: Decadent Capitalism! Warning: Decadent Capitalism! Came a flashing sign at every outrageously priced purchase. She ignored every blip, even when paying over a hundred francs for a piece of underwear that was little more than a piece of string. Even so, SLAVE was right in one regard, her priority was not frilly underwear, which was unlikely (bar some unfortunate or possibly fortunate circumstance) to catch the eye of the observer, but more to look reasonably normal in Paris and beyond.


And, well, damn it. She would quite like to feel well dressed, in her own clothes, for once. Back decades ago, before ice, implanted computers, mutagenic viruses, and spy school, she had actually protested for the right to buy such clothes.


“<I say Madam, you look wonderful! Full of a certain I-don’t-know-what!>” smiled the attendant, who had evolved from vaguely sneering retail assistant to fawning admirer. She suspected his commission might be the prime motivator to such evolution, but perhaps not the only motivator.


She felt fabulous, and after a little time, perhaps a slightly self-obsessed time, posing in the mirror in her new costume, she judged herself to look rather fabulous too.


“<Thankyou, Sir, you have certainly made me feel like a proper woman!>” she thanked, brushing her hair.


“<Madam, it has been my pleasure. A woman should always look Parisian in Paris!>” he answered, eyes mainly on her, but just slightly on her cash.


“<And you do look fabulous in red!>” he finished, bidding her good day as she left the shop.


Commendation: Red is superior Soviet tone!


The Red Rat was in agreement with both the attendant, and SLAVE. She did look good in Red. Maybe, just maybe, she might keep it…

Edited by Supercape
Link to comment

Living up to a name...


Mount Thor, Baffin Island, Canada


Dancia had faced threats as massive as the Incursiona and the Terminus but she had never been as nervous as she did now. In the brief time since she’d learned of her true heritage she’d researched everything she could and everything had lead to this one place, the one place that held answers about her past. So lost in her own thought she hadn’t even noticed the weight of the massive door that that protected the building inside from the harsh environment. Inside was a place she’d only seen in pictures and few had been allowed to visit before, the Sanctum of the former Centurion.


Even after several years proving herself, and a sponsor who would spoke to the truth of her claims of her origin as someone from the same Earth as Centurion himself, it had still took many hours of negotiation until she was allowed to visit the Sanctum especially as she wanted a chance to visit the place alone. Dancia had needed to work out how she felt about what she’d learned about her heritage, and that was best done if she had time to process things alone. Not that she’d had that long here before she had to leave the place behind. Even now a few worried that she wasn’t quite what she’d seemed and would turn upon humanity, as had several former potential Centurion replacements. Not that she’d ever considered herself as a replacement for such a great hero.


She stopped and forced herself a few moment to admire the beautiful architecture of the Sanctum the colourful Neo Roman architecture that she remembered from her own Earth, a stark contrast to the stark white version of this architecture that was beloved on Earth-Prime. So use now to the later it was a little strange to see such a riot of colours, she wondered if Centurion had some skills or bought people in to build the Sanctum. Despite her mood she couldn’t help but give a little smile at such thoughts, it was difficult to imagine Centurion carefully designing and building this place, even if he’d probably had the advantage of super-speed.


That done she’d had intended to go straight to her intended room of the Sanctum but she paused at the entrance to the Zero Zone feeling some kind of pull towards the Zone itself, it would be so easy to throw herself back into the Zone to float again for another hundred years. Though in her head she knew her original home had gone she’d still felt as if the world was still there, after all now with all her memories it was only a few years since she’d left her world in crisis.


Dragging herself reluctantly away from that room she went to the room that was her reason for coming to the Sanctum in the first place, the room that was a shrine to their shared lost homeworld. She couldn’t help but float up to the dimensional pod that bought him to this Earth and gently touched it surface, this little pod not only was the only remaining artifact of the world it was also the reason she could even be here in the first place blazing the trail that she’d followed to Earth-Prime.


It was all too much to deal with a room full of memories of a world lost memories still to fresh even though she knew they were over a hundred years ago. She sunk back down to earth and collapsed into a chair, she wouldn’t cry but she still felt the entire weight of the lost upon her. She couldn’t carry on with this, she didn’t have the right to carry on this legacy, she hadn’t earned it to wear this costume, not here not on this Earth. She...


At first she thought she’d imagined it a gentle touch on the shoulder, but no the pressure was still there with a slight fizzle, just outside of normal hearing, but no it was still there. She looked up at the hand and into a face that she’d only seen in books and television, that of the Centurion himself.


“Hello there the Sanctum’s systems detected that you have a unique signature as someone from the same world as myself. I’m sorry I can’t be here in person but you must have so many questions about myself and the world itself. So what would you like to know?”

It might not be him, but it might just be enough.

Link to comment

Phantom - Desert Shadows


China, Xinjiang Region, July 2003




Taylor’s attention perked at the deep intonation from her grandfather’s brother, Huang. It was a dusty and hot - even for a July day in the Taklamakan Desert - but Taylor hadn’t yet flagged despite the glare of the sun high in the summer sky. That thoughtful rumble from the elderly but still spry Huang Chun could only mean one thing; that something here in the archeological explanations had surprised the one time member of the Jungle Patrol, and that was not a common occurrence. 


Though Taylor had begun to pick up the Uyghur dialect steadily as she trailed her Great-Uncle around the dig-site, the rapid fire instructions that Uncle Huang offered were too fast for her to follow in entirety. 


“Great-Uncle?” Taylor prompted in the Cantonese that she was far more familiar with, excitement and impatience in her tone. When the offer had come to spend a few months exploring Ördek’s Necropolis in Western China, it had been met with little interest among Taylor’s siblings. Only she, the youngest of the lot, had begged and pleaded to be allowed to spend the summer in the desert heat, examining tombs. 


True, it hadn’t been nearly so exciting as the Jungle Patrol adventures had made out archeology to be. Really, it was hot and exacting - cataloging each micro-find and taking the meticulous care not to destroy the delicate remains. Yet, despite the occasional tedium of the tasks, Taylor found herself gripped by puzzling out the stories hidden in the bones of the ancient burial mound. 


“Patience, Xiao,” Huang said, not for the first time but with clear affection in his tone for his brother’s grandaughter. Of all of the Chun offspring that Huang had seen over the years, only Taylor had inherited his fascination with archeology - perhaps she might prove to inherit the duties that he’d not yet been able to put into other hands. 


As the archeologists began to carefully uncover the inscription, Huang turned towards his great niece and bid her closer, curious to see if he was right about the potential in her talents. Switching to English easily, he invited the young woman to take a look at the inscription that had caught his interest. 


“What do you think?”


Taylor paused, frowning at the unfamiliar curls and swirls on this particular etching. “I… I don’t understand, it doesn’t make any sense.”


Huang paused to look at the teenager, patient as he gestured again towards the etchings, “Very little is done in this world to no purpose at all. Take what you know and start there.”


Her brow creased for a moment in concentration as she was directed once more to the writings. Taylor had a natural knack for languages, that had been clear from the moment she’d begun to doggedly pick up scraps of the various dialects used around the dig site but this was far more complicated a puzzle. 


“It… it doesn’t have any of the forms I would suspect. The tomb is supposed to be bronze age, about four thousand years old, but the shapes of these… uh… letters? Symbols?… They don’t match any of the sorts of other writing we’d expect from this time and place - At least not the ones we’ve been cataloging.” Taylor puzzled out, her dark gaze thoughtful on the writings before she turned her expression up towards the elderly professor uncertainly. 


He grinned at his great niece in delight, the expression erasing years from his features. Huang lowered his voice conspiratorially, as if inducting her in a great mystery, “That’s because this inscription is in Lemurian.”

Edited by alderwitch
Link to comment




In Freedom Mike felt perpetually oversize and clumsy, worried that a stray shoulder or stumble would break something or worse hurt someone as he made his way through the busy sidewalks and malls.  He realized now how good he’d had it.  In Freedom there were occasionally those as tall or broad of shoulder as himself, sometimes even taller, but here in Tokyo it was as if he was in truth the giant marauder he always worried he’d be.  This wasn’t helped by the looks of bewilderment to alarm, or autographs assuming he was one sport star or another.  Everything seemed crowded and undersized while at the same time the streets seemed to be endless mazes of bright neon and concrete and narrow twisted alleys between immense skyscrapers.  Not an inch of space was wasted in the city which of course meant there was little room for one accustomed to the sprawling suburbs and larger than life modernism of Freedom.


After picking his way through the dense crowds of commuters Mike arrived at the International School and met with the headmaster for his orientation and class assignments.  This was a great opportunity not only to further develop his knowledge as an educator and learn more about other educational systems but a chance to get out of the unique bubble of Freedom City.  He was appreciative of both opportunities though after seeing the lodgings was grateful his gifts put Freedom City within commuting distance.  


The first day was not precisely what he’d expected from his visits to classrooms in Freedom, the student driven environment allowed for more one on one attention where needed while encouraging more independent learners to explore the lessons and materials in ways Mike would not have thought to explore with them on his own.  His fellow teacher instructed primarily in Japanese while Mike presented in english the melding of language for instruction was tricky to match and he had doubts it would work in a more structured environment though it certainly seemed to pay dividends in the student's mastery of the languages.


Of course the changes in curriculum and style were expected, in fact a significant part of the reason for the exchange program he was there under.  The social landscape was more of a surprise.  While the Japanese staff were generally reserved while at work the younger faculty were eager to take out and perhaps show off the JET teachers at their favorite watering holes.  At first Mike demurred, even in the states the bar scene was not really his thing.  On the other hand he was here to learn and that wasn’t necessarily confined to the classroom.


The staff both local and foreign were open and gregarious trading stories of home and friends with a casual ease Mike envied.  Education in a government lab had left him woefully unprepared for normal socialization and while he’d certainly grown at clairemont and after he found himself with little to say that didn’t involve his famously empowered finance, their eclectic band of friends with little beyond  shared superheroics, or said heroics themselves.  Sitting uncomfortably on the periphery as he usually did at these sorts of social events he tried to grasp the ease with which his fellows shared their interests and lives with so little exposure of anything too personal.


He suppose the ease might have been down to the alcohol, at least in part, though that was a dead end for him.  Regardless the conversations and ease with which the others interacted began before any imbibement at all.  He found himself quietly nodding along politely but not engaging as was his custom.  Before long he made his excuses about jet lag and took his leave to meander back to the apartment he was renting and from there a rapid fight back to Freedom for the night.


These habits and withdrawn social schedule did not go unnoticed over time of course.  Some speculated he had met a local girl, others attributed it to homesickness as he seemed withdrawn at Work when not interacting with the kids directly.  The locals he noted seemed to find his lack of workplace banter almost comforting, though when they joined the others on nights out they too opened up.  A change Mike took notice of and thought often on as he tried to figure out how to meld a less standoffish person without the need for active deception which he far from excelled at.


He noted over time the difference in how he was treated at work as well as outside work.  Not actively disliked of course but his own discomfort and withdrawn manner carried over to others interactions with him.  He didn’t exactly mind, he was secure in his interpersonal life in freedom but he knew in a way that even in freedom he was an outsider, disconnected outside the few friendships he made in school or had foisted upon him by his gregarious fiance.


He resolved to fix the problem and gently managed to broach the subject with his co-teacher under the guise of the balance of workplace professionalism and out of work socializing.  His concerns about burdening others or going beyond the bounds of workplace social norms served well enough as a proxy for his needs to provide cover for his superheroic identity.  Under the cover of the banal work social appropriate chit chat there was plenty of room to be social without being personally revealing.  


He slowly came out of his shell and stopped avoiding the after work or weekend social calls.  He’d talk obliquely about Alex without name dropping, open up about how he’d spent the weekend without providing details, in truth being more open allowed him to call less attention to the oddities of his schedule and the workaday average hobbies he expressed didn’t attract additional attention while not appearing secretive.  There was a sort of balance to maintaining a heroic and normal persona and as he built these new relationships he began to uncover it.  Certainly the gentle elementary school teacher with amatuer interest in ballroom dance and gardening might have been a bit of a romance novel best friend of the romantic lead but it wasn’t any less truthful than saying nothing and certainly didn’t tie him back to Phalanx.

Link to comment

Ace Danger  


April 1941, Southern Libya


“But it’s a dry heat!”  replied the Captain as his steward doled out the water ration and was met by laughter from the men as they hunkered in the slim shade of the crumbling fortress.


Ace waved off the offered water where he lay with their local guide slowly practicing the careful wrap of the layers of the bedouins outfit.  “Leftenant’s gone native sah!”  barked one of the men to be met with another round of laughter from the commandos.


The radioman emerged from the tent that mostly protected his equipment from the sand and blistering heat, “Nazi bastards laid siege to Tobruk.”  he stammered looking uncertainly to their commander, there’d be no resupply from the allied lines.  The Captain nodded smartly, “Jerry’s in for a rough spot, Those Aussie boys know a thing or two.”  the stalwart englishman intoned with grin though turned and whispered to the steward as rations were cut back again.  Miles of Axis held territory ahead and nothing but the endless dunes of the great sand sea behind the commandos were in for a wait.


Ace sat beside the guide in the early morning the sun barely peeking over the horizon as they licked scant moisture from the stones they’d buried, “I think the heats getting to Lieutenant Danger Sir.”  the steward remarked the parched captain merely nodded and checked casks once more with a shake of his head.  The radioman emerged from his tent tattered now by the sandstorm that had ruined carelessly exposed stores the night before.  “Not too long for the rest of us simmons.”  the brusque officer confided slowly as the radioman shook his head, no response from HQ.


“That damn bedouin’s deserted.”  Bellowed the Captain in outrage through cracked lips.  Ace slowly stood from where he lounged under the shade  they’d built from the remains of the radioman's tent when the radio went out. Wrapped head to toe like the rest of his squad in whatever fabric they’d managed to scavenge he shook his head, “He went for help sir.”  the american noted with a nod earning a baleful glare from his commanding officer.  “We’ll see.  Was the only grumbled reply as he looked at the half buried jeeps even with a guide they weren’t going anywhere regardless.


Sun baked and no longer sweating the captain stared up at the sky and laughed maniacally, “Buzzards come to feast so soon!”  he cackled as the bird circled overhead, “COME ON THEN GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT!”  he bellowed and collapsed in the fine sand that covered everything now body still quaking with mad laughter as those of the men strong enough slowly rose to pull him back to the lee of the crumbling fortress.  “Not today, Captain.” Ace replied slowly as he looked up, “That is a falcon not a buzzard.”  pulling the field glasses from the Captains kit as the sun mad commander was shuffled off he peered out into the dunes of that nigh impassible sea of sand and stone and smiled, “Boys our ship has come in.”  on the horizon the distinct humps of the ‘ships of the desert’ stood in silhouette against the setting sun.

Link to comment



“Uuuhhhhg.”  Huang groaned as he looked dawn at the pile of dishes that were his assigned duty for the evening.  “I am so sick of this Mr. Miyagi Bullshit.”  he growled into a pot as he began scrubbing and tapped into the power of his vampiric nature his hands moving with greater swiftness as he sped through the cleaning process at a blur.  Taking a step back as he smugly finished the hours of work in minutes he nearly stumbled over a pile of soiled pots, pans and bowls the monks had freshly delivered.  


“No, no no no no no.”  he intoned shaking his head, “That is just not possible.”  he turned again at the sharp bark of laughter from his ‘teacher’ in the arts arcane.  “Very funny.”  he growled eyes flashing red then fading as he forced down his urge to hard counter the monks mockery of his efforts and prove his superiority.  “So some kind of test of patience?  Do it the slow dumb way to prove I’ll jump through your hoops?”  he yelled as the monk turned and walked away.


Kicking a pot hard enough to dent it and nearly break a toe Huang spat out a curse in old slovak that would peel paint from the walls of a less blessed place.  “No training is worth this.”  the teen sullenly complained as he glared death down on the accumulation of filthy crockery.  “No power is worth even feigning bent knee to this kind of nonsense.”  he raged and subsided slumping in a pile.  Not that he could leave, not really, even the void here was warded to stop the uninitiated from coming or going.


An incantation of a few words of power and spectral hands took up the task next only to once more be undone with yet more dirtied dishes.  Summoned creations, entities of void, animate tools all fail before the test.  Finally humbling himself before the task he’s been set he buckles down, perhaps the lessons are worth it in the end, perhaps this will satisfy the arbitrary needs of the Shamballa monks.  Hours later he completes the task and turns to see yet another batch.


“What have you learned?”  asks the monk his affect flat.


“That you’re a jerk?”  Huang replies with scowl as he sets about the task once more complaining all the while.  By the third or fourth batch he even fell into the mindfulness techniques his mother had taught him to deal with predatory urges in his childhood.  And still the task was not satisfied.  It seemed they must use some kind of magic to even soil so many bowls and pots.


Exhausted the teen dhampir looks up from his task as the monk returns, “What have you learned?”  he asks once more and Huang shakes his head, “I have no idea what you want to hear.”  Huang replied finally, “and that’s the point isn’t it.”  he finally admitted, “I need to learn and I am ready for you to teach me.”  Huang reluctantly acknowledged as the monk motioned for him to follow.


He wasn’t sure how long it had been in truth when he finally emerged from the valley on his wrist was a sigil of his initiation to those with the sight to see it.  Hard won, and but a first step on a longer road to be sure.

Link to comment
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...