CCC # 50 - Voting Thread

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BlueEcho

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#1  Edited By BlueEcho

CCC #50 has come and the time has passed for story creation, so now the voting begins! The challenge for the milestone CCC number was to create something epic, and we were supposed to create a hero with a rank or title that represents a geographical unit. We had seven entries in total, and one of them will get to choose the inspiration for CCC #51, which is just as important as #50, because as they say ... the second half of the first hundred is better than the first half of the first hundred (no one actually says that.)

The voting rules go like this:

Vote!

If you wrote one especially vote (just not for yourself)

If you have friends on CV that don't vote, make them vote!

Voting goes until July 15 at midnight Eastern Time (that is to say that votes count until 2359 on Friday.)

Here are the entries:

JamieWolfe7 - Captain Ireland

Wendy O'Mallory. This fire haired lady is a student in anthropology at the University of Dublin. One day while on an expedition to research the Stone of Tara, the most unexpected thing happened. A series of thunderclaps resounded across the emerald isle, and there she stood holding a spear of ancient make while wearing a green uniform with a stylized harp overlapping an I on her chest.

From head to toe, she strikes a distinctive appearance with her red hair and green uniform. Her symbol is the overlaid golden harp and I of Ireland in the center of her chest. Across her back hanging from her shoulders is a cape that matches her hair fastened by a golden hasp adorned with a pentagram within a snake eating its tail. Her boots and gloves are fashionably flared while her face is concealed by a simple domino mask. Her neck, arms and legs are decorated with blue celtic knots and tribal patterns.

She is the wielder of the Spear of Cu Chulainn. This artifact is her mystical connection with the Stone of Tara and symbolizes her status as the Champion of Ireland. This heroine's powers are tied with the Seelie Court of Fae, as such she defends those ancient lands from the encroachment of greedy corporations but this is only one of her major interests. She is a hero against criminality of any sort much like her friendly rival Captain Britain.

The powers of her spear are manifold as a powerful and seemingly indestructible magical artifact. While it is in her grasp she has superhuman strength and reflexes, able to lift and toss over a ton with a single hand. She also gains the supernatural fighting abilities and resilience of her legendary predecessor Cu Chulainn, but these are merely the more mundane aspects. It is a symbol of her Fairy granted authority as the Champion of the Land, as such she is the emissary of the Seelie Court and can summon them to her aid when needed.

Besides the spear, she has other magical abilities tied up with her status and blessings. She has a vested interest in defending the Fairy Lands of Ireland because she derives strength from their preservation. While on those lands she is immune to most magics including all magical influences (charms, mindcontrol, and the like) and is at her most potent. She can also see and thereby commune with ethereal creatures invisible to most, including the creatures of the Unseelie Court with whom she is naturally at odds with and her Spear and Blessings allow her to do battle with. Besides them, she is a staunch enemy of lycanthropes and other unsavory creatures that stalk the emerald country at night and do the bidding of the Unseelie Court.

BlueEcho - Lady Luxembourg

"Welcome to the Global Warriors, Danger Man" Retrobot said, "you will be assigned to Lady Luxembourg for your initial training session in the Simulation Room."

"Hi Lux,," Danger Man said. He looked to his fellow hero. She was dressed in a colorful costume, with red white and blue stripes, which Danger Man assumed must have been the colors of her country. Her blonde hair hung loosely around her face, which was hidden by a mask covering her eyes and forehead.

"The name is Lady Luxembourg," she replied, "I would prefer if you paid it the proper respect."

"The proper respect?" Danger Man asked, "I don't really know much about Luxembourg."

"A proud country in Europe," Lady Luxembourg explained, "forged in the challenges of history to become the giant that it is now. Behold I wield the Sword of Luxembourg, the mighty weapon which led our people against the invading Germans in the First and Second World War."

"Didn't Germany invade your country in both wars?" Danger Man asked. Lady Luxembourg stared at Danger Man and squinted, trying to contain her anger at his words. Retrobot sensed the discomfort and leaned over to whisper in Danger Man's ear.

"You better apologize," he said, "she is pretty serious about it."

"Oh ... ummm ... sorry," Danger Man said, "I didn't know."

"Follow me," Lady Luxembourg said as she turned to lead him away. They walked past the more mundane parts of the team headquarters, towards the more militaristic interior, where the team kept its arsenal, its hangar and its simulation room. She hit a couple of buttons and the two waited while the computer ran a simulation which would be challenging for their combined skills.

"You have been in one of these before, right?" she asked as the computer indicated that nearly 100% of its scenario was loaded.

"Why would I need to be?" Danger Man replied, "I am battle tested on the streets and in the skies. Not much can stop me."

"I have read your power set," Lady Luxembourg said, "it is impressive, but you sound inexperienced in the use of your powers. That is why we are here."

"Sorry," Danger Man said, "I am not familiar with what you do?"

"I fight by my country's sword," Lady Luxembourg said, "I do not need powers."

"Ok," Danger Man said, with a hint of laughter in his voice, "I guess leave the fighting to me, you can stand by and watch." The door cracked open in front of them, letting out a huge hissing sound, and the two walked in.

"Looks like Squigglies," Lady Luxembourg said.

"What does that mean?" Danger Man asked.

"A simulation based on one of our earliest missions," she replied, "London was invaded by small aliens that looked and moved like worms, though they move fast, and have some mean claws. We underestimated them and nearly lost the entire city to them."

"I heard about that," Danger Man said, "I didn't even know that you were there."

"Just be careful," she said looking sideways to him. As she looked back to her front one of the aliens launched itself at her from nowhere and she dodged it. It landed squarely on Danger Man's unsuspecting face and started to wriggle around, trying to dig its sharp claws into him. Suffering from the surprise and the lack of oxygen, Danger Man panicked and tried to pry the creature from his face. All of his strength and speed were nothing to him when he couldn't see or breathe. In a moment he felt relief though as the creature fell dead off of his face, having been cleaved in two by Lady Luxembourg's sword.

"I thought that I was supposed to stand by and watch?" she said, "You know that is just one of them, in London we fought tens of thousands at once."

Danger Man looked at her and nodded his head. He turned back to look around him and saw that the Squigglies were coming at them from every direction. He sprung to action, but Lady Luxembourg was already ahead of him, sword in hand, ready to face the simulated foe. The following minutes were a blur as the two of them battled wave after wave of the vicious creatures, until the simulation suddenly stopped. They looked behind themselves to see Retrobot standing there.

"An excellent simulation Lady Luxembourg," he said, "let us not wear out the new recruit on his first day."

"What do you mean wear me out?" Danger Man asked, "I was leading the way." Lady Luxembourg looked at Danger Man and laughed.

"Retrobot, what is the kill tally?" she asked.

"Danger Man 53, Lady Luxembourg 842," Retrobot replied.

"What? How?" Danger Man asked.

"Just because I said that I didn't need powers doesn't mean that I don't have them," she said, "and much like these Squigglies, you would be wise to not underestimate something or someone who you have never heard of before, or who you think is too small to matter. Today has proven otherwise."

Joygirl - The Lady of Norway

“Smaaash!” the lumbering thing bellowed, his command swiftly carried out by his own hand. The enormous, unwieldy weapon with which the creature was suspiciously proficient stormed its way through another building, this one a hardware store, sending shoppers and employees alike running from the ruins, seeking cover, crying out for those they’d lost contact with when the support beams fell and the roof began to collapse.

The thing in question -- that which was beating its way through the city of Oslo one building at a time, wielding a “hammer” that appeared to be a fire hydrant bolted to a length of steel beam -- had arrived mere minutes before now, his presence heralded by the thunderous collapse of a hotel, followed by a bestial roar of delight. It stood tall at around eight feet, its body corded with thick, bulging muscle and wrapped in a stretched, veiny membrane of lusterless, jet-black skin. Mismatched body armor composed of sharpened rebar and truck tires covered his massive body, leaving his proportionately small, hairless head ironically exposed.

Another swipe of that pendulous bludgeon sent it raking through yard after yard of brick and metal and wood, sawing its way through a tattoo shop with a single flick of the monster’s wrist. It was only now that the beast properly introduced himself to the people of Oslo, though his garbled, distorted bellow seemed more like a declaration of self to the universe than a genuine greeting. Considering that he was single-handedly reducing the Norwegian capital to rubble, it also seemed more likely. “Behold Smashnir! The Smashinator!” a brief pause, a moment to catch his breath and lower the gigantic, makeshift hammer. “...Smasher of Things!”

Unfortunately for the self-declared Smashnir, a complication was already in the works for his hitherto-successful smashing spree. For the city of Oslo, unknown to many, had a defender... in fact, all of Norway did. Maybe not the best known hero, perhaps not the most powerful, definitely not the most responsible. But nonetheless, a woman who had been ordained by those who had first forged the Nordic Peninsula, a woman with the power to protect those she called her brothers and sisters, the lead guitarist of Hela’s Kiss -- and a woman who happened to frequent tattoo shops.

Thea Lokken ducked backwards as the scavenged hammer blasted its way through the store, thanking Odin she’d only been in the waiting room for a new tattoo rather than halfway through getting one. She took in a deep breath as the wall collapsed fully, giving her a better look at the roaring behemoth in the streets outside, moving towards the next building in his path, this one only a small, local grocery shop. It was her job to make sure he never got that far.

Glancing behind her to make sure any other inhabitants of the shop were either hiding or had fled, she slung her black electric guitar from off of her back, taking a firm grasp on the neck of it and whispering in the old tongue; “Mighty Odin, grant me the strength to protect your creations....”

The burst of light and rush of wind went unheard and unseen by those who were already distracted by the escapades of Smashnir the Smashinator, Smasher of Things. Thea’s secret would remain intact for today, not that it would have given her pause were her identity at risk -- protecting the city was her first priority, and needed to always be. The sides of long, thick blonde hair formed spontaneously into a storm of braids; jeans and a black Sabaton t-shirt shimmering and shifting, forming into a set of dark, nordic battle armor. Her eyes darkened, her tattoos expanding and intertwining, covering more of her body in runes and markings... and that guitar took on its true form, that of the great battle-axe named after those who had forged it. The great battle-axe known as the Wings of the Aesir.

With a direction of her will, mythical winds lifted Thea into the air, propelling her forward and upward -- clumsy for a moment until she was able to grasp the “reins” of her powers more easily, the young heroine still a bit unused to exercising them. Beyond a few muggers, she was new to her new role as the protector of the country, and flight had thus far not been on the list of things she’d needed to practice.

“Heads up, j’vel!” Thea shouted out, catching only enough of the rampaging brute’s attention for him to swing his hammer in her direction, the soaring axewoman only narrowly moving out of its reach in time. When he didn’t feel the impact of his club against a small, fleshy creature, Smashnir finally turned, his tight-skinned rictus grimace turning down into a more frustrated scowl. “Behold this!”

Hurling herself in mid-air towards the lumbering titan axe-first, the Hidden Defender of the North built up as much momentum as she could, to ensure that she made the most satisfactory “splat” sound possible when Smashnir’s hammer swatted her out of the air like an insect, sending her crashing into the sadly-intact wall of a nearby IKEA.

“Nnnngh...” Thea groaned as she started rising back to her feet, concrete dust sliding off of the darkened iron plates of her fitted armor. “Thanks for the durability, Thor,” she mumbled as she stretched out slightly, tightening her grip on the Wings of the Aesir before calling out once more to the massive creature rampaging through Oslo. “Hey! You think denying the people of Norway affordable, do-it-yourself furniture is gonna get me off your back? Think again!”

This time her aim was true, calling on the winds to guide her forward and catching Smashnir off-guard, the ghoulish titan not yet able to acclimate to something that could withstand being smashed by him. Having the blessings of the Norse pantheon had a way of making things trickier for supervillains, as it did now -- the gleaming, wing-shaped blades of her axe sunk into the beast’s shoulder, splitting its way past the rusting rebar armor like a woodcutter chopping through a mildly knotty log and driving into the flesh beneath, drawing forth a well of milky, viscous white blood.

“Raaargh! You smash Smashnir the Smashinator, Smasher of Things? Nobody smashes Smashnir the Smashinator, Smasher of Things!” the beast bellowed out in rage and rarely-experienced pain, lashing out with his hammer once more and missing wide. Thea was too close now, having already eliminated the reach and distance advantage that Smashnir the Smashinator, Smasher of Things had exploited in her first headlong assault. Now, with her boots dug into the creature’s waist and her free hand clutching tightly to the edge of his tire-armor, she was able to easily evade his arcing, clumsy attacks, slamming her axe down against the creature’s shoulder again and again. She kept hacking at the same spot while the dark-skinned monster staggered and stumbled about the swiftly-evacuating streets of Oslo, finally penetrating more deeply into his thick, durable flesh.

“Maybe you should have thought of that before you destroyed that fresh batch of piping hot, perfectly-seasoned meatballs.” One last mighty downward swing of her axe left the armor in shattered pieces, finally shearing through the giant’s thick bone and sending the entire appendage toppling down onto the street. Smashnir let out an agonized shriek as his left arm was chopped from the rest of his body, collapsing with a heavy thud and leaving the dark ogre barely able to lift his “hammer.”

Despite the wound already beginning to heal over, the beast now focused more on escape than further destruction, desperately attempting to shrug Thea off of him as he reached down to grab his fallen appendage, clumsily trying to carry both it and his weapon before the choice was made for him. Thea set one foot on the massive, severed arm, guarding it with a menacing brandish of her axe. “This time, you leave with your life. Your limb, I keep.” Oooh, badass. I think I’m better at this than the standard banter. “Never return.”

“Smashnir... only wanted... to smash...” the giant let out another agonized wail, sounding genuinely dejected and dragging his weapon behind him as he tried to scurry out of the city, going back the way he’d come, not that anyone was yet certain where exactly that had been. A trail of milky, gooey blood marked every step of his retreat until the beast vanished completely behind the tree-line of Oslo’s outer limits, escaping alive but by no means unscathed into the countryside of Norway. He’d done his damage, but Thea had made sure he’d think twice before returning... and this time, she’d be ready.

Taking a moment to catch her breath, Thea looked down at the white-encrusted blades of her enchanted axe, twisting her hips from side to side in a weak attempt to “work out” the dull ache in her bones from that hit she’d taken. She’d have to be glad the gods had been so generous when they’d gifted her with her powers -- on her own, there was no way she’d have lasted more than two seconds against that... whatever that thing was. Smashnir, apparently. The Smashinator. Smasher of Things.

As the creature vanished behind the tree-line, Thea drew in a deep breath, steadying herself. Her first real fight. Easier than she’d expected, but definitely left her aching. It was the sound of cameras and gasps, however, that most took her off guard -- a sound that was getting closer and closer, more numerous, almost cacophonic. The ordained heroine slowly turned, facing the half-destroyed west side of Oslo to be greeting with hundreds of faces of those who had survived. Some looked fearful, others adoring, many hopeful.

“Was that her?”

“Did she drive it off?”

“She saved us!”

Thea took a slow step back, her grip loosening slightly on her axe as she was trapped in the headlights of hundreds of citizens of the city she’d saved from the creature. They were talking about her. Somehow this was the part of being a hero she’d expected the least. Battle and injury, yes. Even the bit of odd detective work where it was needed. But the cries of the crowd, many snapping pictures of the daylit, dumbstruck axewoman, was... overwhelming. Almost agoraphobic.

“Hero of Oslo!”

“The Lady of Norway!”

“Daughter of Odin!”

“10/10, would smash!”

“Have the old gods returned to us?”

“Can I get an interview?”

Thea backed away slowly, looking from side to side to find a place to escape to, finding no offer of asylum in the shattered remnants of the structures she’d been too inattentive to save. Catching her breath, she summoned the wind once more, letting it lift her up and shoot her away into the dark green countryside of Norway. Wherever she went, she had to get out of Oslo, just for right now. She could return later, maybe. Out of costume.

Who was she kidding. She had to return. Her apartment was in Oslo. And band practice was at seven.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

“You poor creature.” Her whisper was a dark promise of something that couldn’t be understood. Infectious like a disease, intoxicating like a drug, soothing like a caress. Velvet darkness slithering through and around Smashnir, sifting through his ears, penetrating his mind, filling him. Completing him. “How you suffer.”

“Smashnir... just wanted... smash....” The black-skinned ogre-creature clawed weakly at the grass beneath him with his single arm, curled into a ball in a pool of the sticky, milky white substance that had gushed from his wound. Much of it had healed over, leaving a messy, gaping, scabrous stub, but the beast was left drained and whimpering with pain from what he had endured at the hands of Oslo’s protector. “Fix... everything... smash a better... world....”

Shadows slithered and eddied around the fallen behemoth, cradling him, comforting him. “You will, my knight. You will create a better world. We will create a better world.” That poisonous voice faded to a whisper, its location still difficult to place. “My world.”

“But... no smash without... arm....”

Only then did the source of the voice become visible to the fallen Smashnir, the darkness of the forest coalescing, collecting, taking form. “Don’t worry, my knight. I shall save you. I shall uplift you. Be mine, swear yourself to me, and I will recreate you.”

Trying to pull himself upward, Smashnir set his one hand beneath him and pushed up, struggling to get to his knees and finally looking up at the figure before him who know spoke, as dark, ethereal and beautiful as a nocturne. A woman in black, black of hair, pale gold of skin, her eyes shimmering with the vivid scarlet of a rose -- two almond-shaped pools of blood that met Smashnir’s own gaze, locking it to hers. Beautiful, exotic, yet comforting, drawing him in.

“I... swear....”

“What is offered cannot be undone,” she whispered, taking his chin in her delicate hand, those vivid crimson eyes boring into Smashnir’s narrow, pale blue ones. “You would embrace Euphoria?”

A slow nod. “...Let Smashnir smash again.”

Laying her hand on the shoulder equivalent to Smashnir’s severed arm, the woman arched her back slightly as dark power coursed through her, a curious mixture of life and death -- a necrotic revival, manifesting in tendrils of deep, effervescent red energy that seeped from her hands, spiraling past the scabs and hacked flesh and imbuing itself with the pale wound. Bonding with Smashnir’s physiology, the strange magic imbued him and extended itself, replicating and enhancing what it found, mapping out the lines of a new arm with bone and blood and muscle and flesh and skin.

The new appendage was different than it had been previously, pulsing blood red beneath the transparent charcoal casing. It was larger, longer, the hand at the end thick and powerful and tipped with vicious, jagged claws. Struggling to his feet, Smashnir’s piglike eyes widened as he watched the replication and growth of his new arm. Something that both was, and was not a part of him. Something new. Something better.

“Are you pleased, my knight?”

“Y-yes... yes!” Smashnir roared with joy, flexing his new hand, staring at it in awe. “Now I can smash again! Maybe even crush! Smash viking girl who took Smashnir’s arm!”

The woman in black arched a brow, tilting her head to the side. “What viking girl?”

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

One week later...

“I dunno, man, I saw some of those pictures that leaked. She looks like the real thing.” Felix said, coaxing a slightly off-pitch bungsound from his bass guitar as he attempted to tune it. Gangly, red-haired, smooth-faced. Not the type anyone would take for a metalhead if they didn’t know already... or if he wasn’t in corpsepaint.

“Hot, too. I dig all the dark eye makeup. And you know what they say about a woman who can handle an axe....” Aksel Madsen, drummer, would-be limelight-thief of Hela’s Kiss, and the opposite of Felix in every way. Aksel was a true viking, with his forked blonde beard and stockier build. Also, traditionally, the hardest to tolerate of the four.

“I wasn’t aware that anyone said anything about axe-handling. Ever. Except in direct relation to chopping wood.” Erika, rhythm guitar and vocals. Infuriatingly tall, enragingly pretty, stupidly talented. Every day that passed was a day that Thea had to physically restrain herself from snapping Erika’s neck and trying to suck her powers out through her esophagus. So far she’d managed to hold back, but it was getting harder.

“I’m just sayin’, I’m sure she knows her way around a shaft, eh?” Aksel chuckled darkly as he set up his drums, laying the sticks on top of them and reclining against the back wall. “Maybe we can actually get this thing started if Felix ever finishes tuning his guitar.”

Erika shrugged, shuffling around the center of the garage a bit before finally sitting down on the steps leading to Felix’s mom’s house proper. “I’m more interested in the hero girl anyway. Not like we’re gonna suck any less today than we did last week. What are they calling her?”

“I’m telling you, it’s a hoax!”

“Lady of Norway,” Felix answered, ignoring Aksel. “I think she’s badass. You see the pics of the monster she brought down? Yeesh. Thing was like a Troll from one of the old folk tales.”

“You don’t believe in all that stuff, do you? Odin and all that? Dwarves under the mountaintops and all that Lord of the Rings crap?” Erika scoffed.

Thea finally spoke up, having tuned her guitar off in the woods before she actually came to practice. This was definitely a conversation she was more comfortable sitting out, but sometimes it was more suspicious to say nothing at all. Right now, nothing weighed on her mind more than being found out. “Well, I mean... you know what they say...” she chuckled weakly. “Odin promised an end to frost giants, and I don’t see any frost giants anywhere.”

“Hey, I don’t think anyone asked Thea,” Aksel said with a little grin on his bearded face. “What do you think about this Lady Norway... whatever-she-is?”

“Um.” Thea froze, swallowing hard and fidgeting her hands along the neck of her guitar. “Uh, she seems cool, yeah? She’s fine by me. I mean, if we have dragons then we may as well have a knight, right?”

“I was thinking more about whether you think her boobs are too small. But I can imagine you not wanting to bring that up.”

Thea chewed her lower lip awkwardly, slowly scooting her legs up to perch her feet on her stool, hugging her knees in a half-assed attempt to conceal her unremarkable chest.

“Aksel! Don’t be an ass!” Erika barked, but was quickly interrupted by the garage’s side-door opening and two nearly-identical young men stumbling through it.

“Avatar!” one of them blurted out, before clearing his throat, taking stock of those inside of the garage and trying to tone it down. “Thea. We have dire news.”

“Who the hell are you?” Aksel growled, starting to stand up, but Thea quickly hopped from her stool. How the hell had these two gotten here? Actually, maybe not the best question. They were borderline-omniscient scouts by nature, after all.

“I’ve got this, guys, don’t worry!” the Lady of Norway said, slinging her guitar around her back and rushing over to meet the two intruders. Huginn and Muninn were their names -- the all-seeing ravens of Odin, now in human form to lend their assistance to Thea. To anyone else, they appeared merely as two young men, boyish, both pale, black of hair, dark-eyed. More “cute” than handsome, undoubtedly related but twins only ambiguously.

“Friends of yours?” Felix murmured.

“Um...! Cousins! This is Huey and... Mu... ey.”

“Those are not our names,” Muninn began to say, furrowing his brow in confusion. “Avatar, your task remains unfinished, there is much to be undertaken--!”

“--And we were just going! Aaaaall three of us! See you guys later! Hopefully Felix will have his guitar tuned by then!” Thea yelped, trying to forcibly shove the raven brothers back through the door they’d come from, following them out and slamming it shut behind her.

Silence fell as Thea and her two “cousins” stormed out of the garage as quickly as they’d arrived. Felix blinked, staring at the door they’d left through.

Bung.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

No showing up at band practice! I can’t have people knowing who -- or, what -- I am.” Thea scolded, catching her breath now that she’d gotten the brothers out of earshot. Both tilted their heads at her for only a moment, so curiously bird-like even in their human forms.

“The burden of duty remains yoked, avatar,” Huginn said gravely, folding his arms across his chest.

“I got that part! More to do. What is it? I got rid of the big... thing. The ogre or whatever it was.”

“Something had come to Norden, avatar. Something dark. Something we had hoped would never return.”

“Already, her influence grows.”

“If left unchecked, her wickedness will infect the people. Dull their minds, harden their hearts, glass their eyes.”

“You are she who was chosen by Odin, avatar. It is you who wields the might of Thor, the wisdom of Frigg. You alone hold the runed blade of Tyr.”

I know all that stuff! Okay, what is this darkness, where do I find it, and how do I kill it?”

The brothers looked at each other for a moment, then turned to Thea once more. “You do not kill her, avatar. Banish, defeat, expose, whichever you wish. But that which has long been unliving can never truly die.”

“Sounds like fun. But you guys aren’t really giving me much to work with.”

Muninn, this time, took the stage, breathing in deeply and attempting to explain. “Deep in the forests of Norden, she rises. A creature far from the Eastern lands, hundreds if not thousands of years old. She sweeps across nations, erecting temples to herself, drawing forth those who seek her poisonous aid.”

“Already this has begun. The actions of the creature Smashnir have created need for her. Those without homes, those without jobs, they are falling to her influence.”

Thea furrowed her brow. “Wait, those without jobs? This is Norway. We have like, the best economy ever. They can just get unemployment until they find a new one.”

“She grasps any opportunity, any glimmer of hopelessness, anyone who feels outcast or dejected. Anyone with the seed of doubt in their heart can be corrupted by her malice. She’s darkness, she’s toxic.”

“She’s delirium.”

“She’s Euphoria.”

“Oooh, I heard that capital letter. Okay, so I find her and hit her with the axe, once you tell me where she is. And by the way, his full name is Smashnir the Smashinator, Smasher of Things.”

“We will take you to her, avatar,” Huginn said grimly. “But know that this foe is not merely one that can be stricken down with the Wings of the Aesir.”

“Well... we’ll see about that. “Hit with axe” is kind of my big battle tactic.”

“You possess the wisdom of Frigg, even if it is not known to you. Use it, avatar.”

Thea sighed deeply, slinging her guitar from off her back and holding it firmly by the neck. “Got it. And... quit calling me avatar.”

Muninn tilted his head. “What, then, do we call you?”

“Mighty Odin, grant me the strength to protect your creations...” Thea closed her eyes as she felt the crackle of wind and electricity sweep around her, encircling her, enshrouding her. Her guitar transformed into the runed axe she had used to fell Smashnir, her simple clothing forming into a sleek set of dark armor. Even her hair and makeup changed with the transformation, enough that her bandmates had managed to, somehow, not recognize her. Finally, she looked up to the raven brothers and inhaled deeply. “...Call me Lady Norway.”

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Spiraling around one another’s glossy black bodies and with Thea close behind, Odin’s two ravens soared throughout the tall, dark woods of Norway. Small bits of snow still clung to the ground in wet patches, but most of it had managed to melt -- or had been stomped away by black metal bands shooting music videos. The temple they had mentioned, however, soon came into view.

Tall, dark, and spindly, Thea didn’t realize until she’d gotten far closer that she’d been looking at the tower the entire time, mistaking it for one of the tall trees of the forest. Thin thorns and spires mimicked branches, and it wasn’t until she was upon it that Lady Norway understood what she was looking at the entire time.

The ravens finally landed some hundred yards away from the tower, their tiny forms expanding and shifting into human bodies once more. As Thea lit beside them, they looked from her, to the tower. “Your greatest test lies ahead of you, avatar.” Huginn murmured.

“She will be within. Possibly others. She tends to uplift those around her, those with enough power and wickedness within them to be of use,” Muninn added with a nod, then turned back to Thea. “We cannot join you in this, Lady Norway.”

“What?” Thea exclaimed. “Why not? I thought you two were supposed to help me with all this... hero... avatar stuff.”

“We guide and protect you. In matters of war, you are the avatar -- not we. Ásáheill, avatar.”

The brothers shifted back into ravens, then took off into the darkening sky -- leaving Thea alone. She flinched when she heard one of their caws some ways off. They were gone now, hundreds of yards away. She was alone in this completely. One girl, a metalhead from Oslo who’d never fought anyone before in her life, against some kind of demon cult leader.

Well, what was the worst that could happen?

“Ásáheill,” Thea whispered, tightening her grip around her axe and moving towards the tower. Tall double-doors were open, whispers of madness and peaceful darkness echoing out from the gloom they led into. She didn’t see any people, not yet -- maybe she was early enough to prevent the corruption of any innocent lives.

Finally steeling herself enough to take a step inside, Thea felt a chill run down her spine. The style of the “temple’s” interior was bizarre, the architecture implacable and the decorating a strange blend of cultures, most pointedly drawing from Imperial China and Victorian England, creating an aesthetic that was both exotic and baroque. She also noticed quickly that the place was dark... quite dark.

“I’m so glad you finally came, viking girl. I’ve been expecting you for a while, now.” The voice seemed to come from all angles, formless, accompanied only by a soft, pale glow that was slowly bringing the interior of the tower into better view -- even moreso as Thea’s eyes began to adjust to the dark. “You despise me, don’t you? You came here to destroy me. Destroy what I’ve created.”

“I came here to keep Norway safe. That’s what I care about,” Thea said guardedly, lifting the Wings of the Aesir slightly and keeping the axe defensively in front of her. “To do that, I need to stop you before you endanger its people.”

“Endanger them? By granting them peace? Solace?” The voice grew warmer now, sickeningly comforting, but... comforting nonetheless. Soothing. “Giving them acceptance in a world where it is so hard to find?” The words began to take form, the soft glow coalescing into a human shape, that of the most beautiful creature Thea had ever laid eyes upon. Moonlit, seductive, sinister... but beautiful. “Do you even know a single thing about me, Lady of Norway?”

“I... I mean, no... but I know you have to be stopped.”

“And who told you that?” The woman took a step forward, seamlessly slow, confident yet cautious. “Your storm crow companions? Those who control you, using you to fight their battles for them?”

You possess the wisdom of Frigg, even if it is not known to you. Use it, avatar.

“I serve the old gods. I serve Odin. Huginn and Muninn may be weird, but... I trust them. And I trust them a lot more than I trust you.”

The woman took one more step closer, her expression wounded, shattered, her hand extending to lightly caress along Thea’s cheek. “So brave. So loyal. Shame that you chose your loyalties... unwisely.” Like the mist she’d formed from, she seemed to disperse, revealing the hulking entity that had been lurking behind her for who knew how long, motionless in the darkness. New and improved, bigger than before, his pale eyes now laced with red streaks and the veins boiling beneath his translucent skin. “Destroy her, my knight.”

“SmaaaaaAAAASH!!!” Smashnir lashed out like a man possessed, leading by swiping out with his massive, makeshift hammer, then following up with a flurry of slashes and swats with the unbalanced, gigantic, pulsating arm that had been gifted to him. Backpedaling as quickly as she could, Thea was barely able to get her axe in front of her, causing the first strike to only send her skidding backwards -- but the follow-up with that unholy, bloated appendage battered and raked at her, forcing her to retreat farther back into the dimly-lit tower temple.

“What... are you?” Thea gasped, her eyes widening as Smashnir descended on her like a mad dog. Long gone was the big, dopey, destructive creature she’d seen in Oslo only one week ago. This new Smashnir was different. Determined, brutal, feral, assaulting Thea with attack after attack, setting her on the defensive, desperately chopping at his attacks as she backpedaled in a semi-circle around the temple. With the fairly small floor area of even the base of the tower, Smashnir’s massive height and reach were rewarded, forcing her to retreat while simultaneously not allowing her the room needed to truly escape his zone of “influence.”

“Sir Smashnir! Smashnir is better! Dark Lady fixes Smashnir!” Letting out a bellow, he reared back his “normal” arm, the one that still held his huge, pendulous hammer. “Smashnir the Smashinator, Smasher of Things!” He whipped his arm forward, tossing the huge bludgeon outward as if it were a throwing dagger or axe. Instead, it tumbled immediately to the floor, creating a sizeable crack in the tile.

“Um?”

“Sorry. Smashnir saw in movie once. Maybe Fixer too big to throw.”

“No worries.”

Wasting no more time, Smashnir slashed his throbbing new arm in front of him as he stampeded forward, grabbing his hammer (“Fixer,” apparently) mid-charge and lashing out with it. This time Thea was pinned, too close to the temple wall to truly dodge out of the way, not without taking another hit. If only she could get enough of a breather to counter-attack, but so far, that was not written in the stones. Unable to go up or to either side, Thea ducked down to her knees and wished for the best.

Fixer slammed into the tower wall with enough force to take a massive chunk out of it, shaking the temple to its foundation and letting in a burst of weak sunlight that helped cancel a bit of the gloom. The scream of rage that followed it, however, was even more thunderous. “Fool! You dare destroy the temple?!”

“But... you said Smashnir could fix....”

Thea took the opportunity to dive between the troll-thing’s legs, clasping her axe tightly and rolling forward, giving herself some space to move and looking around for the source of the voice.

“Not my temple, heathen! It must remain standing!”

Oh yeah? “Is that so, dark lady?” Lady Norway said tentatively, keeping her distance as Smashnir began to turn around once more, moving a bit slower now that his confidence had been deflated. “What must it remain standing for?”

There was a silence from that voice, and even Smashnir looked a bit befuddled -- not that this was too very unlike his default state.

“So... if it must remain standing, then I probably shouldn’t do this?” Thea backed up a little more, turning just enough to chop her axe to the side, taking a chunk out of the twisted stone that made up the windowless tower.

“Stop.”

“You do realize that the more you tell me not to, the more I’m gonna.” Thea’s lips curled into a smile as she slammed her axe into the same section of wall, calling upon the might of the Aesir to fuel her strikes and causing more of the stone to crumble away.

“My knight! Stop her!”

Smashnir was more watching, now, than actively participating, his look of befuddlement now transformed into abject confusion. “Viking girl pretty good at smashing...” he murmured, looking from the hole Thea had made, down to his own hammer, then glancing at the hole that he himself had made. “But... Smashnir is the one who is supposed to smash....” The beast-man looked back up to Thea, watching her attack the environment around her, seeing the delight and satisfaction in her eyes. The joy of smashing.

“Smashnir is the one who smashes!” he roared, turning and sending his hammer blasting back through the wall, using his newly enhanced strength to take out massive chunks of brick, each strike like a clap of thunder, the shouts of Thor himself.

The tower rumbled and shook, swaying now as the cracked foundation struggled to hold up the temple’s great height. Bricks and chunks of marble were tumbling from above, now, causing Thea herself to attempt to take cover, but Smashnir held no such self-preservation instinct. He was in his element, he was at peace. He was smashing. He was fixing it. Fixing everything.

“Idiot! Stop! You’ll ruin... everything...!”

Lady Norway summoned the winds about herself once more, rushing through an opening in the wall at the last moment as the tower began to topple from the bottom down around Smashnir, burying him in tons upon tons of stone, wood, metal, and marble. Thea caught her breath as she soared out into the forest above the tower, watching the entire thing collapse, watching it submerge Smashnir... then watching a billow of scarlet mist with a woman’s screaming face streak out from the ruins, burbling, shrieking sounds echoing out around it as it dispersed into the skies of Norway.

“Whew.”

Thea closed her eyes for a long moment, floating in mid-air and trying to calm down after what had happened. One thing she knew for sure was that it hadn’t gone the way she’d expected it to, that much was certain. “That was intense.”

Flying some distance away from the collapse and back into a less creepy section of the forest, Thea finally settled back down onto her feet, taking another deep breath before releasing the enchantment that had been bestowed upon her, dissolving the armor, turning the Wings of the Aesir back into her electric guitar. No longer Lady Norway -- now only Thea Lokken.

“She won’t be gone forever, you know,” said a soft, familiar voice from behind her. She didn’t need to turn to recognize it as the dour, serious tone of Huginn, especially as the second raven settled on a branch in front of her.

“Are they ever?” Thea sighed. “We probably haven’t even seen the last of Smashnir.”

“Such is the destiny of the Avatar of the North. It’s a tireless task, with little thanks and no reward.”

Muninn, the second raven, shifted into his human form, now sitting on the branch with his legs dangling off of it. “Are you willing to accept this burden, Thea Lokken? Will you be the savior of your people? The defender of Norden?”

Slowly, the girl nodded, looking down at her guitar, then back into the woods where she’d left the ruins of Euphoria’s temple. Everything felt different now, like she‘d conquered an obstacle that, in some strange way, changed who she was as a person. She wasn’t just the lead guitarist of Hela’s Kiss anymore. She was Lady Norway. “Yeah, it looks that way. The people need a hero, right?”

ImpurestCheese - The Tale of Sergeant San Jose

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica - 16th of July

“Take that!!” The woman dressed in a blue dress accented with a cream coloured bird insignia and white trousers exclaimed as she slammed her bo-staff into the chest of the man dressed in a black robe complete with an orange beak like mask over his face. Staggering the man fell to the floor before receiving a swift blow to the side of the head. “Your reign of terror ends here Toucan Tyrant!” The woman announced, as the ‘Tyrant’ placed his hands up and surrendered.

**

Corcovada National Park. Costa Rica - 21st of July

“Sergeant San Jose!!” The red haired woman dressed in an orange tank-top and green combat trousers hissed as she placed the bottle filed with exotic butterflies on the ground. “Kill her my pet!” She ordered as a massive red dragonfly took off from the roof of the bank.

“I think not Eco-Loco-Gist!!” Sergeant San Jose purred as she threw her staff at the red haired woman, the blow knocking her to the floor, before she sprung up and slammed a fist into the dragonfly, the insect falling to the floor its wings twitching slightly.

**

Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, San Jose, Costa Rica - 25th of July

Sergeant San Jose ducked under the thrown spear, before vaulting over the car she had been hiding under before sprinting towards the man dressed in a pair of leather trousers armed with an atlatl and a sling as well as the ammunition for such weapons. Hissing in rage he threw a rock at the charging heroine, only for her to bat it back with her bo-staff, the projectile striking him in the head.

“Bad move Clovis.” Sergeant San Jose purred as she swiped her staff at the stunned man’s legs, the blow sending him crashing to the floor.

**

Puerto Carillo, Costa Rica - 28th of July

“Looks like you’re the catch of the day Sergeant.” The man dressed in a bush hat, open vest and shorts sneered as he lashed out with the fishing rod he wielded, the hook biting into the heroine’s bo-staff, before pulling it away. “Pity we have laws on by-catch.” He added as he removed a pistol sized spear-gun from his belt.

“I’m going to be the one that got away Angler.” Sergeant San Jose hissed as the Angler opened fire, the twin harpoons shooting past the heroine as she tackled him off the end of the dock and into the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Coughing and spluttering, the two figures surfaced and the Angler threw a punch at the Sergeant, only for her to block the blow and deliver a brutal head-butt in return.

“Ugh I give.” The Angler grunted, as he turned belly up before being dragged ashore. Looking down at her foe, the Sergeant looked at a scar running along the villain’s arm before shaking her head in anger.

“You, I know you.” The Sergeant gasped. “You’re that guy from the Tourism board who sponsored the Sentry Programme. Why are you dressed up like a super villain?”

“For the revenue, do you know how much money the places that have super-human battles make from tourists?” The faux Angler hissed as he got to his feet. “It’s a lot, Costa Rica cornered the market on eco-tourism, we planned to do the same with super hero tourism. And all it took was some silly costumes and an idiot who actually believed that she could make a difference. Sure you’re a one woman army, but that’s only because our nation has never needed one, just like it no longer needs you, the money has been made, there’s no reason for you to exist!” He hissed as Sergeant San Jose looked down at him, horror spread across her beautiful face. “Thank you for your service to the country.” He mocked as she turned and walked away, her life shattered by the lies she had been told.

**

Non Descript Apartment, San Jose - 18th of August

Elisa Mendez sat in her apartment staring at the blue dress emblazoned with a stylized outline of the clay coloured thrush, Costa Rica’s national bird, and held her head in her hands. How could she have been so foolish, looking back at her enemies and allies in the fight against Costa Rica’s super crime it was so obvious. The staff of Project Sentry had all been members of the tourism board, as had all the criminals she had fought, In essence it had been one big scam and she had been the unwitting mark suckered into what essentially was a propaganda scam.

“And in other news,” the newsreader on the television playing in the background stated, “the Amazons have managed to hold repel the invasion of Jakarta by the subterranean Lizard Men. The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for the hero’s intervention and has personally offered amnesty to the remaining forces of the Lizard King as long as they promise to cease hostilities within the next twelve hours.”

“I was an idiot to think I was anything like them.” Elisa mumbled as she took the white and blue bo-staff laying by her bed and attempted to snap the weapon over her knee, the smooth wood resisting before being dropped to the floor with a loud clatter. “Everything they told me was a bloody lie and I fell for it. I dropped out of university for their lie, I took beatings in the street for it and I have nothing but a stupid costume and an unbreakable stick!!” She snarled as she walked over to the window and looked out over the city of San Jose. As she did, a shockwave radiated out from the capitol building, shattering windows and setting off car alarms on the street below.

“And breaking news,” The announcer gasped as an image of an image of an impact crater complete with a massive nine-foot tall figure dressed in silver armour with red wires running down his arms to cobalt blue skin, “a massive figure has appeared just outside the Capitol Building.”

“Greetings human, I am War Chest and I have a proposition for you.” The figure announced, as he took a step out of his impact crater. “Make me Lord of this nation and willing submit to being in my army and I won’t burn your country with my orbital satellite laser.” He stated before pointing to the steps of the capitol building, a thick red beam of light lancing down from the heavens and melting the concrete into glass. “Answer me now!!”

“Sergeant San Jose will stop you!!” A figure from the crowd yelled, causing War Chest to stomp over to him and place a hand on the heckler’s shoulder, energy radiating off his gauntlet causing the man to spasm before falling to the floor, red wires running along his body. Seconds later he detonated where he lay, the people standing near him screaming as they tripped over themselves to get away.

“Sergeant San Jose? Bring me this Sergeant or I will destroy everyone in this city!!” War Chest boomed as he slammed his fists together, red energy pulsing down the wires in his body with the impact. As he did the closest people caught aflame causing the entire crowd to scatter screaming, the sound of thundering feet drowned out by War Chest laughing as he crossed his arms ready for the upcoming battle.

“And it appears that this ‘War Chest’ has called out Sergeant San Jose.” The announcer stated, her words causing Elisa to shoot a look back out the window. “The heroine who has defended our fair nation hasn’t been seen for weeks. We can only hope that she will answer the call and defend the values that have made Costa Rica the country it is today.”

Looking over to her staff Elisa walked over and picked up the weapon, the smooth wood feeling warm under her hands. “One more time.” She whispered as she picked up her costume. “But only one more.”

**

War Chest snorted with amusement as the woman dressed in a blue dress and white trousers stood at the other side of the street outside the Capitol building. Stomping over he towered over his foe, a wicked look of amusement on his face.

“You are the Sergeant.” He stated as he leered down at his foe. “The strongest of this nation of weaklings. If you can beat me I’ll leave, but you won’t and this country will be mine.”

“Why us? There are other places you could go?” Elisa asked as she looked War Chest over for a weak spot. “Why come to a nation that knows only peace?”

“Because you are weak. You have no army and care about the well-being of others.” War Chest growled as he pushed past Elisa and looked up at the Capitol Building, a greedy glint in his eye. “Where I’m from the strong eradicate the weak just for fun. The subjugation and destruction of your countries weakness are going to make for an enjoyable long weekend.”

“It takes more strength not to give in to fear and follow peace then it does to go to war.” Elisa told the villain before placing her staff on the ground. “We are stronger because we don’t fight.” She hissed, her words causing War Chest to glower at her. “To live in a constant state of conflict is unacceptable, you could have a life of harmony here.”

“I’d rather just rip this place apart, gut those rainforests and but in an arena for executions.” War Chest purred as he cracked his knuckles together.

“Then I pity you.” Elisa sighed as she picked up her staff and turned to face War Chest. “You had the chance to be something more than a bully with ambitions of power.”

“Enough with the preaching.” War Chest grunted, as he pointed at Elisa, the beam of light lancing down from the sky and reducing Elisa and the piece of pavement she was standing on to shards of glass. “To easy, nothing and no one can stop the War Chest. Behold my new subjects, Sergeant San Jose is dead and you are mine.”

“No!” A woman dressed in a nurse’s uniform called from the crowd. “I am Sergeant San Jose!”

“Easy enough to fix.” War Chest snorted as he walked towards her, only for a teenage boy to move into his path. “Who are you?” War Chest hissed as he pushed the boy to the floor and started to walk past.

“I’m Sergeant San Jose.” The boy called causing the wannabe tyrant to stop in his tracks.

“What did you say?” War Chest snarled as he turned to see multiple people taking to the street to form a wall of bodies between the child and the villain.

“He said he was Sergeant San Jose.” A camera man who had been filming War Chest’s invasion. “As am I, as are we all.” He added as a massive roar of, “I’m Sergeant San Jose.” was unleashed by the crowd gathered to stand against the invader.

“We aren’t going to fight you friend, but if you want to take this country then you’ll have to kill Sergeant San Jose.” The nurse stated. “And that means every Sergeant San Jose.”

“Then I’ll kill all of you.” War Chest stated as he took a step forward before hesitating as he spotted more and more people joining the throng of defenders. “I’ll be doing your world a favour by culling such weakness in their species.”

“Is it weakness for unarmed people to stand up for their beliefs?” An old man asked from the crowd, his words causing War Chest to convulse, almost as if they had been acid to him. “You’re just another bully, but we aren’t afraid of you or your satellite death beam.”

“You will be.” War Chest snarled as he stepped forward. “Once I've killed one or two of you and you’ll lose cohesion, your weakness will be evident as you scatter.” He added as he towered over the front few rows of the crowd, his eyes flitting towards the back as he counted the number of people standing before him. “I’ll do it now surrender!!” He snapped, only for the crowd to take one unified step forward.

“I’m Sergeant San Jose.” The mass of people called, their words causing War Chest to gulp in fright, before he turned his back on them and pointed at the Capitol Building.

“I’ll destroy it and everyone inside!!” He growled, his hand shaking as he shot a nervous glance at the crowd.

“Without fear backing you up your just a sad man.” The nurse stated. “I’m Sergeant San Jose and I pity you for never having understood the strength we have.”

“Then please,” War Chest sighed as he dropped to his knees so he could look the crowd in the eye, “show me this strength.” He asked as he threw off the gauntlet that controlled his satellite weapon. “How did one woman standing up to me cause you to fight so hard against me?”

“Because peace, real peace, is worth protecting no matter the cost.” The camera man told War Chest as the crowd dispersed save for a few of the braver members who came forward and sat around there would be oppressor. “Through peace our society has become great, and nobody in Costa Rica will let that be taken away from us, be they enemies foreign or domestic.”

***

“I think I understand.” War Chest grunted as he looked over to where he had killed Elisa. “My world is full of slaughter and subjugation, we have a peace but it is hollow compared to what you have. As such I would like to take the name of your hero and try and fix my world. Should I succeed I will return to face your judgement, should I fail then perhaps my death can inspire a better man to rise up against all evils.” He told the crowd as he stood up once again, this time a nobler figure then the one who had arrived many hours earlier.

“Go Sergeant San Jose, bring peace to your world and remember you’ll never stand alone.” The nurse from the crowd told him, before handing the newest Sergeant his gauntlet back.

“Thank you, I will return if I can.” The former War Chest stated as he shot into the sky like a comet in reverse, his jet stream causing a wind to move across the flowers scattered across the street left to commemorate the countries hero, the breeze revealing five words spray painted on the pavement, five words that everyone in Costa Rica could be proud of.

BatKevin74 - Captain South Ossetia

“I am Captain South Ossetia and I demand to be let in!”

The angry Korean man on the door gripped the lectern as the Baltic Man in his stylised yellow, white and orange unitard tried to enter the Captain’s Table, the elite club for those superheroes who were the national flagbearer of their country. “You not country! GO!”

“I AM! I HAVE A FLAG!” South Ossetia roared getting nose to nose.

“YOU HAVE BROKEN NOSE SOON!”

“What’s all the commotion out here, Captain North Korea?” asked the monocle man in the union jack costume and bowler hat.

“I demand to be let in!” South Ossetia protested. “This yellow ogre says I am not a country!”

Captain North Korea snarled at the insult and went to deal with it violently as a gentle hand grabbed his shoulder. “I’ll deal with this old chap.”

North Korea slammed the club door open and went inside leaving the pair at the entry.

“South Australia you say?”

“Ossetia! You’re Captain England.”

“Quite right,” he adjusted the monocle and looked down the list on the lectern. “I’m sorry but you’re not on the list.”

“I am Captain South O…”

“Oh I heard you,” Captain England said. “But under our charter you are unrecognised.”

“I’m right here! Look!”

“Ha ha very droll. You may be Captain South Austria…”

“Ossetia! SOUTH OSSETIA!”

Captain England harrumphed and shrugged. “Saying it louder doesn’t make me recognise it any quicker young man. Now if you step to the side please…” Captain England ushered him to the left as a young woman walked up to the door. “Good evening Kaptain Kosovo.”

“Good evening Captain England. Everything okay?” She eyed South Ossetia up and down.

“Nothing for you to worry about. Capitano Mexicano left a message for you at the desk.”

She smiled and went inside. Captain South Ossetia stepped up to the lectern.

“How did she get in?”

“She’s a member,” England replied. “Now as for you…”

“How is Kosovo a country and South Ossetia isn’t?”

“It has a flag; it has a capital city…”

“I’M WEARING THE FLAG! TSKHINVALI IS T…”

“Bless you.”

Captain South Ossetia paused. “What?”

“You sneezed.” Captain England said. “It is polite to say ‘Bless you’. I would’ve said ‘God Bless you’ but for fear of offending any religious sensibilities you ha…”

“Tskhinvali isn’t a sneeze! It’s the capital of South Ossetia!”

“So you say,” England dismissed. “Now if you’ll step aside.”

“I WILL NOT!” South Ossetia planted his feet and folded his arms.

“Greetings Captain Chad!” Captain England said around his annoying guest as a man in blue, yellow and red walked up to the door.

“I am Captain Romania!” The man grunted.

“Awfully sorry old bean,” England apologised. “Your two flags are almost identical., I do hope I caused no offense.”

“What is that?” Romania pointed at South Ossetia.

“Some Russian province I think,” England muttered. “Never you mind. I believe Captain Cameroon left you a present in the pool house.”

Romania nodded and went in.

“I demand to speak with the person in charge!” Captain South Ossetia yelled.

“That is Captain Japan…”

“Bring me Captain Japan!”

“Who isn’t scheduled to be here this evening. Some problem with an overgrown lizard eating Tokyo I hear. But do come back tomorrow.”

“NO!” South Ossetia reached out and grabbed Captain England’s wrist. “Now.”

“Young man, do you realise what you have done?” Captain England said. “You have invaded the sovereign territory of Her Majesty. You have declared war upon the United Kingdom!”

“No, I am trying to get recognise…”

“And under Article 50 of the United Captains Club. Section 7! Subparagraph B!” Captain England began radiating with light and the rising sounds of ‘Rule Britannia’. “I will def…”

“Settle down Charles,” said middle aged black woman in a green, white, red costume. “You British and your rules.”

“Captain Somaliland,” England sneered.

“Go back inside with your elitist friends,” Somaliland said. “I’ll talk to Captain South Ossetia.”

Captain England scoffed and slammed the door behind him, several dozen locks clicking into place. Captain Somaliland looked Captain South Ossetia up and down.

“My what a busy costume you have,” she laughed. “You won’t get in today.”

“But I am my countries Captain!” Ossetia protested. “I should be allowed in.”

“True, very true.” She said offering him a cigarette. “But the Captain’s Table is run by the U.N. And if the U.N doesn’t recognise your country, you don’t get in. Believe me I know. I’ve been trying since 1991.”

“But Kosovo…”

“I don’t make the rules,” Somaliland said blowing a smoke ring pattern like the Olympic rings. “I’m just subject to them.”

“So what do I do?” Captain South Ossetia moaned, his shoulders slumping.

“You can hang around the door like a bad dog or you can come and join the Coalition of Unrecognised Nations and Territories.”

“The what?”

Somaliland nodded. “Places nobody talks or cares about until they want something. Come, let’s get a drink. You’ll be in time to here Captain Tibet’s poetry.”

She held out her hand and Captain South Ossetia reluctantly took it. Slowly the pair walked up the road and into the night.

Cbishop - The Second Reign of Women

The smooth baritone voice of a station announcer calls out, "You're watching ISPN: The International Super Person Network!"

No Caption Provided

The Second Reign of Women pops boldly into view as theme music starts playing over silent clips of Supermodel in action. The narrator starts, "We all know Supermodel- hero of The Sponsors, and loved practically the world over, she's the public face of the Super Corporation." Still shots flash on the screen every two seconds, showing Supermodel at the S-Corp. podium during a press conference; walking the runway at a Super Chic fashion show; in a publicity still for The Sponsors; an overhead shot looking down on her as she stands on the deck of The Battleship; lighting the Olympic runners' torch with her fiery breath; standing at the graveside of her father Major Battle during his funeral; and a face-off publicity poster of her and Superblonde for their now famous televised grudge match.

Those are followed by action clips of the Supermodel Vs. Superblonde fight as he continues, "Just as well loved, but perhaps more infamous is the hero who burst onto the scene by fighting Supermodel, and revealing to the world what they have in common- the Hyper-Parasistes. More commonly known as the Superbugs, the world has since learned that these truly alien lifeforms are actually symbiotic in nature. Who is the woman that revealed all this though? It depends on who you ask..."

The next clip is audible, showing news anchor Phillip Thyme for Larsen Channel Seven News. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you're just tuning in, a fight between Supermodel and an equally powered woman claiming to be the daughter of Osmosis has leveled a portion of the Richmond Rotunda this evening. Hundreds have been injured, and there have been some fatalities. The damage is still being assessed at this time. Calling herself Superbi-- uh, Superblonde..."

"Wait a minute," says the narrator, "What was that?"

"Superbi-- uh, Superblonde," repeats the newsclip.

"Check again, Mister Newsman," the narrator says in a mocking tone. "Let's roll that fight footage."

MFL footage of the interrupted Richmond Rhinos game-turned-super-fight shows a by-now familiar scene.

Supermodel picks herself up out of the impact crater she made when she fell from the sky, and asks angrily, "B[leep]ch, who are you?"

"That's Superb[leep]ch to you!" screams the other combatant.

"I'm sorry, who?" asks the narrator.

"Superb[leep]ch to you!" repeats the clip.

"I'm sorry, one more time?" asks the narrator. "Let's get rid of that annoying bleep though."

"That's Superbitch to you!" screams the original footage clip.

"You heard that right- in her anger, the daughter of Osmosis dubbed herself 'Superbitch.' An unfortunate choice that she's never quite escaped, but that hasn't stopped her from trying!" Photos change every two seconds, the first showing the original green costume that mimicked her dad's, topped with his green bowler hat- the so-called Bowler of Oz. The banner in the lower left says "Superbitch," then the name gets overstamped with "Superblonde." Then she's in an orange jumpsuit, with the name banner showing "Superblonde," then overstamped with her prison number: "9035768." A new picture shows her in her Black League uniform, with "Major Oz" on the name banner. Then that gets overstamped with "Major Chaos," then stamped again with "Major Bitch." The next photo shows her in a red costume with the banner once again reading "Superblonde." The banner extends with a slide whistle noise, and her common nickname of "The Blonde Bombshell" appears next to the name. Finally, the last photo shows her after she moved to England, married The Terror, and debuted her current pink and black costume. It's complete with a pink bowler hat with a black hatband known as The American Derby- hearkening back to her arrival in the public eye. She's giving a playful wink to the camera, and the name banner in the lower left reads "American Beauty."

"But pfft! Everyone knows them!" declares the narrator. "Once the Superbugs became public knowledge, the scientific community quickly realized that the creatures were worldwide, spread mainly through meteor strikes that have peppered the globe over time.

"One of the more notable strikes was in Turkey, and it upset the balance of world power. When an Islamic general of the Janissary corps took over the country and set himself up as Sultan of Turkey, his preference for dark robes gained him the media nickname of 'The Man in Black,' and what has been dubbed the 'Black Reign' began. Besides his many other human rights violations, he reinstated harems, and began 'importing' women from all over, despite unfavorable comments from NATO and the UN.

"So the story goes that one night the Sultan was feeling a little freaky, and wanted a new girl sent to him from the harem. The girl was sent, and before the Sultan could disrobe, a meteor strike wrecked the Imperial bedchamber, and both Sultan and odalisque were invaded by Superbugs." As the narrator tells this, mock B-movie drawings are shown: the Sultan rubbing his hands together, his face showing lecherous intent; a young odalisque with a look of horror, her arm thrown up to shield her face as manly hands reach for her; a meteor heading for Turkish spires; a jagged, cartoon crash explosion; overblown alien bugs with the Sultan and odalisque reflecting in their eyes; and then The Man in Black and his would-be-conquest standing in the middle of a dramatic starburst, breathing fire to the right and left of the picture. "Annnnnd the world called him 'Turkeyman'." A wah-wah sound is heard.

"The girl refused to reveal her name, so she simply became known as 'Odalisque'." An obelisk appears onscreen. "No, Odalisque," the narrator corrects. A question mark appears in place of the obelisk. "Just go with it," says the narrator," and a Facebook thumbs up icon appears in place of the question mark. "Good. Moving on."

"Of course, we all know what happened next," continued the narrator. "Several years later, we found out where those bug meteors were coming from, and it won't 'Klendathu,' space fans!" A clip from Starship Troopers plays briefly as he says this. "No, it was the former homeworld of The Accord- a hive-minded collective of alien races that- unlike Earthlings which hunt down the alien nests and destroy them like overzealous Orkin men- embraced the Superbugs, and merged most of their collective with them!" More cartoon pictures detailed what the narrator was saying.

"So the Accord came to Earth. They asked us to 'Be in accord.'

"We said 'No.'

"They said 'Please?'

"We said, 'No way!'" Two cartoon children representing Earthlings and Accordians stand yelling at each other while he says this.

"We fought." The cartoon kids slap at each other rapidly while turning their heads away.

"We fought hard." A dust cloud kicks up, obscuring the two 'toons, and more cartoon kids jump into the fight.

"We beat the Accord." A cartoon spaceship explodes and falls out of the sky.

"The alliance of Earth's 'Dragon Men' dissolved with the victory, and Turkeyman killed Supermale." A Supermale kid-toon is kicked out of the dust cloud fight, and falls to the ground with "X's" over his eyes, and his tongue hanging out.

"Supremacist killed Turkeyman." A Turkeyman kid-toon is thrown from the dust cloud, and lands back-first on top of Supermale, tongue also hanging, and eyes "X'd" out.

"Supremacist caught a beatdown." A Supremacist kid-toon stumbles out of the dustcloud, wobbles around briefly, and collapses chin-first onto Turkeyman's chest, birds and stars orbiting his head, and a dark black shiner over one eye.

"Everyone went home." The dustcloud dissipates, and nobody is there.

"And Turkey turned to the only person on the Sultan's power level to lead the country. Still refusing to reveal her real name, Odalisque renamed herself 'Ankara' after the capital city, and became the new Sultana- referred to by her countrymen as the 'Sweet Sultan of Turkey.' Then...the unexpected."

Lightning cracks across the screen, and loud thunder follows.

"While the rest of the world was screaming their distrust of the now-stranded aliens that survived, and arguing over what to do with them, Ankara offered the Accord refugees asylum in Turkey." Dramatic, ominous music punctuates the narrator's statement. "To make matters worse, the Accord took their surviving Superbugs with them, and Ankara unleashed some of them on the Imperial harem." Canned screams and movie monster sound effects played over stop motion animation of harem women running from giant bugs. "The Harama was born."

Stop motion flames rose up over the animated harem background, and the narrator continues, "Having endured the horrors of human trafficking to wind up in the harem, and abuse and sexual servitude once they got there, The Harama- drunk on their newfound power- went on an absolute rampage. Flowing across Turkey in an indestructible, fire-breathing wave of revenge, they committed a near-total gendercide; slaughtering every male they came across- young and old- with an Amazonian fervor." Female wails of torment are heard over the animation. "It took the intervention of Ankara, two of the Harama loyal to her, and the cries of the country's women- wives, sisters, and daughters- to bring the killings to a stop. When it was all over, only an estimated eight percent of the Turkish male population remained.

"The Harama retreated to the capital, and Ankara announced to the world that Turkey was now a closed state, much like North Korea." News footage plays over the narration. "She confirmed the asylum for the Accord refugees, and promised swift retribution on any country that attempted to attack them within Turkey's borders. With the now-massive military might of the bug-implanted Harama and Accordians, the balance of world power was instantly thrown on its ear.

"While Ankara did not let this new position go to waste, she wielded it as a bargaining chip for her country's interests, rather than as a weapon. The world began to see her as 'The Sweet Sultan,' just as her countrymen did, and the Sultana of Turkey, formerly an 'unspoiled' odalisque, became known as 'The Modern Day Virgin Queen'."

A map of Europe and Asia appeared onscreen, and a big arrow pointed to England as the narrator said, "Don't let Iron Liege hear you say that though!" A picture of the armored, fully-covered royal flashed onscreen, but was then covered by a big red "X" as the narrator said, "On second thought, who cares what she thinks? She's named after a racehorse!" A picture of the deceased racehorse appeared in the royal's place. "Unless she's really immortal like she claims," the narrator added quickly. "In which case, the horse was named after her, so nevermind." A red "X" covers the horse, and the picture switches back to the human Iron Liege. "Long live the Queen!" shouts the narrator, followed by a nervous, "uh-heh-heh."

"Speaking of 'long live the queen,' that's what Turkey is hoping for as they are now in the throes of their Second Reign of Women. So while the United States has a stranglehold of superiority on many things," vamps the fast-talking narrator as Uncle Sam, The Statue of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln, a battleship, and fireworks flash across the screen in rapid succession, "super women is no longer one of them! Look out Supermodel! The Sultana of Turkey is giving you a run for your money!" Music plays, the picture narrows, and credits start to play in a minimized box on the right side of the screen. "For ISPN, this has been The Second Reign of Women! Thanks for watching!"

KCSSHD - The Man of Sin: Welcome to the City of Lights

Welcome to The City of Lights

“Welcome to the country of Las Vegas. Please hand over your passport.” The VegasDefense lady asked from inside her glass box. There were ten glass boxes, each with a person from VegasDefense.

She carefully looked at the passport, “Danielle Brinkley, what a pretty name.”

“Thanks. It was my mother’s name before she died.” Danielle stood awkwardly and nervously. She hoped that the lady didn’t ask her for business papers. They were required to enter Vegas if you were a small-business, startup, or corporate owner.

Danielle Brinkley was an important hiCaste official in the East States. She was the owner of a new weapons production business which she was trying to get support for. The government decided that her business was not viable so Danielle decided to pursue her venture in the more chaotic Las Vegas. Of course, no one knew who she was. Just that she was another hiCaste.

“Congratulations, you are the 50th person allowed to pass here today.” The VegasDef lady gave the passport back.

“What? Don’t you guys get millions of visitors?”

“We refuse millions of visitors from this side of the country. I suspect it’s your first time here, considering you didn’t know the rules,” The lady scanned her card at a point on the glass and pushed a hidden door open, “My shift is over. Follow me, leech.”

“I don’t even work or live here!” Danielle replied.

“Look, anyone who visits or is an outCaste gets called leech. If you aren’t an outCaste, then don’t worry, it’s a term of endearment.”

They continued walking down a narrow passageway. There was no one else walking besides Danielle and the weird VegasDef lady. She was scary with her body armor colored in red and black. The walls and floor were a blinding bright white and it was making Danielle’s head hurt.

“Just a few more feet and you will officially be inside McCarren International Airport. I know this goddamn bright white, glossy ass walls must be killing your eyesight.”

“You were going to tell me some rules.” Danielle mentioned.

“Ah, well where you from?”

“I’m from the East States. You know, the narrow bit of land from New York to Miami.”

“No wonder you don’t know about the rules. Damn fuckers in the East States keeping everyone naive as to what happens in the rest of the goddamn continent. Look, all you have to know is if you notice a Policy Breaker, report it immediately. Don’t mess with VegasSector either.”

The lady stopped at a giant glass double door and opened it. She kicked Danielle pass the door and closed them.

“But wait. What’s a Policy Breaker?” Danielle screamed as the lady walked back down the passageway quickly, “Wasn’t your shift over?”

Danielle sighed and turned around. The look on her face at the sight of the interior of the airport was one of shock and awe. Glass was the premise of the entire airport as you could see the runway from all angles. The floor was a black marble with odd-colored streaks of orange.

“Gate D13 is now boarding. Gate D13 is now boarding.” An announcer spoke over the speaker system. Danielle awoke from her daydreaming and quickly walked away from the D Gates. She found herself in another long passageway but this one was wide and had different stores and shops.

‘There’s dirt all over my overcoat now. This was $1000. The blue dye was special!’ She screamed in her thoughts as she proceeded down an escalator. She found herself running in high heels, which a hiCaste should never do, to catch the last train of the day.

She immediately regretted the entire ride as a midCaste had the nerve to stand next to her, “Excuse me gentleman. Could you possibly breathe that way?”

The whole train car fell silent as the midCaste, none other than the notorious gang leader Remiggio Simon, quickly responded, “Lady, you must be new here. I own this goddamn airport. VegasDefense isn’t going to help you when you start screaming.”

Danielle quickly turned around and walked away, ‘Goddammit. Why must my mother be such an influence in my life.”

The train stopped and people rushed off. Danielle was the first to leave and Remiggio stayed behind. The station was still part of the airport. You could tell by the orange streaks in the architecture of the station. Danielle looked for her limousine driver as The Man of Sin found another target to strike.

“There’s a high-level weapon going through VegasSector at around 3:00 pm. You may want to be there in order to snatch it so that we can sell it for some money on the black market.” Delta, a hacker girl, told the Man of Sin through his coms system.

The Man of Sin, or just Sin for short, was a muscular guy in an advanced matte-white suit. It was designed to be sharp and intimidating as well as stealthy with a cloaking mode, which made him invisible to all forms of light. He was mostly known for causing mayhem in the City of Lights by attacking the corporations and actively campaigning against the Caste system.

“That’s literally in 15 minutes! You couldn’t tell me this before!” He screamed back.

“It just popped up on the grid. Look, this is an important meeting with eXecs and, from what I can tell, a failed weapons producer from the East States.”

“If VegasSector gets their hands on that weapon, an East States weapon… What even is the weapon?”

“I don’t know, but it apparently is supposed to solve the outCaste rebellion problem happening in California and in Nevada. So you may want to steal the only copy available.”

“Still you could have told me before. I have to go through the entire residential area and you know how long that takes.” Sin scolded his partner.

Delta geo-located Sin, “Why are you on a street?”

“People wanted autographs.” Sin worded the sentence like a question.

“You were in the Paris Strip Club weren’t you? Just get to ******** VegasSector A.S.A.P. God no wonder you were complaining. You just wanted to screw around today!”

Danielle stepped out of the limousine and entered the tallest building in Las Vegas. It had VegasSector printed on the side and it went upwards in a spike form. She stepped into the glass elevator in the middle of the lobby and pressed the button for the top floor.

‘What is with the obsession of using glass for everything in this city?’ She thought as the elevator rocketed at such a high-speed that she nearly vomited.

She stepped out of the elevator to be welcomed by a bitch, “The eXecs aren’t taking anyone today, thank you.”

“I’m Danielle, they scheduled a meeting so that they could inspect this weapon.” She held up a silver briefcase.

“Listen lady, I don’t care if you are from the East States—”

“I am from the East States.”

“I don’t believe it because people actually have style there.”

Danielle slammed the briefcase on the desk and cracked the white marble, “Listen bitch, I was on a four-hour flight and got welcomed by a VegasDef officer who kicked me onto the floor. This fucking overcoat is a thousand dollars which is worth more than your midCaste life. I will see the eXecs because they scheduled a meeting with me and I will step into the goddamn office right now without your ******** approval!”

Danielle grabbed the briefcase and pushed open the doors into the room. She was about to be welcomed by an eXec who sat at the triangular table before a comment was made.

“Well isn’t someone moody today.”

Danielle quickly rushed out of the room and slammed her briefcase into the face of the woman. She walked back in with blood on the edge of the briefcase. The eXecs didn’t even question it. She sat down at the one empty chair.

“Miss—”

“Just Miss. We aren’t even on a last name basis right now.”

The eXecs looked at each other before one of them asked Danielle to present her product.

“I call it,” the briefcase let out a hiss and gray smoke, “Reflection. The fluid contains nanobots which enter the bloodstream and can help regulate stress and health levels.”

She stood up with the vial in her hand and walked around the room before stopping at the giant window with a view of Las Vegas, “The best part about Reflection is that anyone injected with it has their emotional state affected. Or you could solve your outCaste rebellion problem easily by just giving them all heart attacks. Either way, it’s an effective weapon.”

“Did you hear that?” Sin asked Delta. He was cloaked and was inside the very room Danielle stepped into a few minutes before. They were at the very top of the VegasSector tower, which was a pyramid room with a silver metal wall dividing the lobby from the meeting room.

“Grab it as soon as she puts it down. I am sending a VTOL.”

Danielle put the vial down back into slot in the briefcase. She walked around the room, discussing numbers and data with the eXecs. Sin walked slowly toward the table. He put his hand in the area of the briefcase and grabbed the vial.

But he was no longer cloaked.

Danielle heard the alarm from the briefcase, “Stop him!”

It was too late. Sin ran toward the window and jumped. He shot a wire at the VTOL and hanged on for dear life as it took off.

“Not on my watch.” Danielle ran out the window and hooked onto Sin’s foot. They were flying over the residential area.

“Shake this crazy woman!” Sin screamed at Delta.

“I’m trying!”

The VTOL turned and twisted like a rollercoaster. It was quickly heading into the main tourist area of Vegas. The Paris hotel flew by as the VTOL continued to fly irregularly. Finally, Danielle lost her grip.

“I’m fine,” Sin felt something wrap around his foot, “I’m not fine.” He plummeted to the ground.

“Is the vial broken!” Delta screamed.

“The first thing you ask about is the goddamn vial?”

Sin quickly stood up and ran as Danielle was on his heels. She tackled him right in front of Caesars Palace and punched him repeatedly in the face. By the time she was done, his mask was bent inwards.

Sin kicked her off and pried the vial from her hands. He ran again and hid in an alleyway between two casinos.

“I need an exit Delta.”

“I’m working on it.”

“You don’t get an exit.” Danielle spoke as swung from the roof and kicked Sin into the street.

“Give me the goddamn vial.”

Sin heard a car roar as it quickly sped toward him. It was his ride. He jumped into it as it passed him by as Danielle shot a wire from her gauntlet. It caught the vial and soon Sin was speeding down the street without it.

“You don’t have the vial!” Delta screamed.

“Crap. Try and find her.”

“I can’t relocate her. She’s blocked me.”

Sin stopped the car and stepped out. He slammed his foot into the concrete out of sheer rage and anger.

He had failed.

“Look, we can get the vial another time. You may want to get out of there before VegasSec swarms the area.” Delta said.

4donkeyjohnson - Captain Norway

i am Captain Norway!

there is norway you can beat me, oslo thereis norway you can escape me

thankyou for your time

fin...no Norwiegan :)

Happy reading and happy voting

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#3  Edited By cbishop

Vote tracker:

AuthorsVotes
JamieWolfe7
  1. 4donkeyjohnson
BlueEcho
  1. cbishop
Joygirl
  1. wildvine
ImpurestCheese
  1. KCSSHD
Batkevin74
  1. ImpurestCheese
  2. BlueEcho
Cbishop
  1. JamieWolfe7
KCSSHD
  1. Joygirl
4donkeyjohnson
  1. NotCharlieCox
  2. TommytheHitman
  3. batkevin74

I'll add 'em as I see 'em.

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@blueecho: You mind bolding my name in the entries? I actually missed it the first time I looked. lol

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@cbishop: Sorry about that, editing these together becomes a bit of a beast.

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#6  Edited By cbishop

@blueecho: Yeah, they can be a bear. Thanks. :)

Oh, hey! "July 14 midnight." Do you mean midnight between 13th/14th, or midnight between 14th/15th?

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Trying to read through all of them. In a few days I'll have a full verdict on each and make my vote.

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#9  Edited By 4donkeyjohnson

there are tw standouts that i see...will think on this

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I'll read each one in detail and then vote carefully. Should have a verdict on Saturday.

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Captain Norway has my vote.

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It will take a bit to get through all of these ...

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#13  Edited By cbishop

It came down to BlueEcho and Batkevin74 for me. Kind of want to vote batkev' just to get him started on his way to his promised win this time, but alas i liked Blue's story just a little better this round. Voting for Blue.

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Read them all over. Despite the bizarre anticlimax, KCSSHD takes this handily. I'll have a more complete analysis on each entry tomorrow.

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#18  Edited By Joygirl

Okay, as I promised, I'm doing a breakdown on each title here... and yes, I read each of them, from beginning to end.

LET'S GO

JamieWolfe7 - Captain Ireland - While I found the mythology used to be personally pleasant, and the research invested to be rarely remarkable, this is just... well, not really a story. While it has designs and backstory, the lack of actual forward motion and genuine prose makes it feel a bit limp. We don't really get a feel for Captain Ireland -- we learn WHAT she is, but never WHO. 3/10

BlueEcho - Lady Luxembourg - This really isn't bad, per se. It's decently written, tells a story (however simple), and even gives a strong inclination towards how "badass" the title character is. That said, this isn't without a number of flaws. Certain elements are exaggerated to the degree of being condescending ("Danger Man 53, Lady Luxembourg 842," Retrobot replied.), creating a feeling that the reader is being talked down to. We see early on that Lady Luxembourg is tough when she saves Danger Man, and the revelation that she's had powers all along is actually a fun twist that I didn't see coming -- but giving us an actual numerical value seems like overkill here, especially after it's already been made obvious that she's head and shoulders above Danger Man.

Secondly, I don't know these secondary characters, and after reading this piece, I still don't. They feel like old OC's that I'm unfamiliar with, possibly from other CCC's, but as far as I'm concerned in my reading, Danger Man and Retrobot are blank digital mannequins with no descriptions and no past. 4/10

4donkeyjohnson - Captain Norway - I have no idea what to do with this. It's cute, but... I... yeah. x/10

ImpurestCheese - The Tale of Sergeant San Jose - This piece is something I really wanted to be impressed by. It clearly has a story to tell and it technically does tell it. The inclusion of the sudden death of the supposed protagonist caught me pleasantly off-guard, and the message of peace and strength through unity was a really refreshing one. Unfortunately, there's a sense of hasty and messy writing that makes this message not shine through anywhere near as cleanly as it could or should. Bottom line, this story needed to be about twice as long as it is. Nobody realistically goes from "genocidal space titan" to "pacifistic hero of the people" in that short a span of time -- it wouldn't work in real life and it doesn't really work in this story either. If we knew more about War Chest, if we had more insight into his feelings before the events of the story, or if things were handled with a bit more patience, this could have been a winner due to how evocative it can be when it tries. As it stands, it gets a 5/10.

Batkevin74 - Captain South Ossetia - A cute idea, here, finds itself decidedly outweighed by the lack of description, clumsy dialogue structure, exhaustive amounts of ALL-CAPS SCREAMING, and vague racism. Most importantly, however, is the lack of any real "presence" to these characters -- Captain England stands out as having the most personality, simply in how stereotypical he is, but Captain South Ossetia could be surgically removed from his own story with an insignificant degree of impact. As I said originally, the idea is cute, and handled differently, the Coalition of Unrecognized Nations and Territories (I see what you did there, by the way; classy) could have been an interesting team with unique characters. 3/10

CBishop - The Second Reign of Women - I'm a bit confused by how I want to tackle this one, and I definitely find myself on the fence on it. As a story, it... doesn't exist, it's a news report that only really stands up as such. The way the news report itself is dealt with is interesting and the concept is fun -- as a running joke in a movie, I think I'd really like it, it's handled smoothly. My big issue with this is trying to find an actual protagonist out of the mix, the "character" that's being "created." By the climax, this roulette wheel of characters seems to have settled on the Sultana of Turkey, a character we know very little about and never see in action. The overall story isn't bad, but leaves me with something of a sense of confusion as to who I was supposed to be focusing on. Don't give up on this concept, but try to refine it a little more next time. 5/10

KCSSHD- The Man of Sin - Here's our masterpiece. Damn, dude, did you make up this world by scratch just now, or is it something you've been working on for a while? Whichever the answer, you have serious talent. Engaging descriptions, a world that feels distinct and lived-in, and writing that's non-indicative enough to keep the reader on their toes. I got really invested in the action and the world here, as well as the actual characters themselves -- it feels like "just another day in the life" of the Man of Sin while also giving us a pleasing look into the way he acts and operates in this dystopian political neo-noir action story. It feels clean and dirty all at once and I really, genuinely enjoyed reading through it. If you keep writing these, I'll keep reading them. 8/10

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#20  Edited By cbishop

@joygirl: Yeah, it's a clip of something bigger. In the universe these characters exist in, this fluff piece is a slightly snarky historical thing telling the viewers something that the world at large already knows. All the characters were being created though, to answer that question, but in the end there's both the deceased Sultan of Turkey (Turkeyman), and his successor the Sultana of Turkey (Ankara) to answer this contest's challenge of (Title) + (Country Name). I agree though that on its own, this doesn't tell you enough about the characters. I've been building info on Supermodel and Superblonde over a few stories now, but Turkeyman and Ankara are new. I throw these news reports out there to get the bare skeleton of what happened out there, intending to tell the full story later. Haven't done it yet- need to work on that. :}

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@joygirl: Sorry about the haste, between work, chemo and everything else going on in my life this kind of never got the time it needed.

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@joygirl I knew the ending was kind of anticlimatic as I thought about making it longer but I decided to keep it short.

The rest, you can't believe how happy you have made me just now. I am crying for joy while I'm writing this and the reason is because I have always thought I wasn't a very good writer. I don't have a very high self-esteem when it comes to that.

For you to say something good about it makes me jump up and down for joy because the one thing that I actually enjoy in life is enjoyed by at least one person. I am also happy because the one time I am not hostile toward other people and actually enjoy myself as a person is the one time I can have other people enjoy the words I say.

Thank you.

And sorry if I seem very emotional. That's not the usual side of me.

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And hell. I guess I found a new series to write once I am done with the three that have my attention.

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@joygirl: Thanks for the feedback.

I was kind of going for the kind of story that you might get if you went to the 50 cent or Dollar Bin and pulled out an old issue of something like the All Star Squadron. Just a bunch of random heroes without backstories that are kind of thrown together from the remnants of the golden and silver age, but with a compelling enough in-issue story to keep a plot moving.

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4donkeyjohnson

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1 vote 1 x thanx

@jamiewolfe7 gets the nod 2 b sure 2 b sure

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Joygirl

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Things sure are heating up.

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wildvine

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Joygirl gave a nice blend of action, comedy and some unique characters. My vote

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ImpurestCheese

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This time my vote goes to @batkevin74:

And now everyone has a vote, we're all deadlocked :-D

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deactivated-57b9eaaf41cf6

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I say my vote goes to @impurestcheese

Because Costa Rica and other things.

And there is going to be a massive deadlock

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ImpurestCheese

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@kcsshd: Cool thanks for the vote :-)

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BlueEcho

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@cbishop said:

@blueecho: Yeah, they can be a bear. Thanks. :)

Oh, hey! "July 14 midnight." Do you mean midnight between 13th/14th, or midnight between 14th/15th?

Oops just saw this question now, I meant this Friday at 2359 ET

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cbishop

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@blueecho: So the 15th at 2359? Need to update your OP. ;}

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batkevin74

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I have no idea on who to vote for

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BlueEcho

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@cbishop: Ah right I guess that would leave us one day short, I will go fix it.

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deactivated-57b9eaaf41cf6

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Batkevin is going to be the tie-breaker.

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cbishop

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batkevin74

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BlueEcho

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batkevin74

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#39  Edited By batkevin74
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cbishop

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#40  Edited By cbishop

@batkevin74: @blueecho: Wellll, you could both abstain, and leave the tie-breaker up to someone on the forum. lol

Edit: Or you could both vote for someone different, and leave it to someone on the forum to break that tie. lol

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batkevin74

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How long we have left?

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@batkevin74 If you don't count tonight then technically 1 day. Voting closes on July 15th midnight

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@batkevin74: @batkevin74: In all honesty I am going to vote tomorrow night after work. That should still leave about 24 hours for any strategic voting/gerrymandering.

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Joygirl

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"Strategic voting" sounds kinda sinister....

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cbishop

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@joygirl said:

"Strategic voting" sounds kinda sinister....

It's all the work of that Jerry Mander guy.

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batkevin74

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Hey @tommythehitman come throw a vote this way, not specifically at me but whichever one you like best

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TommytheHitman

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#47  Edited By TommytheHitman

@4donkeyjohnson gets my vote.

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batkevin74

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@blueecho: your move :)

I also will Donkey Vote for three reasons

1) Spite

2) Breaks the potential deadlock

3) It was good in its silly little way.

Everyone else's stories were good and hope to band them all together in a United Nations style battle Royale!

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cbishop

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@batkevin74: lol, @4donkeyjohnson are you ready to host a CCC? You might take this one! :)

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@cbishop: @batkevin74:

I liked them all, but I guess that I will go with batkevin.

It wasn't that serious, but I liked the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the dialogue. Also he created a lot more than one OC with Captain Wherever, so bonus points.

Also spite, because that is a thing now?