Would U Buy It? #124: Supreme: Storming Heaven

DateWUBI? #124:View:Attached to Forum:Last Issue:
07/01/20Supreme: Storming Heaven(Blog) (Forum)Supreme (2012).WUBI #123.

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Supreme: Storming Heaven
Alternate Titles:
  • Supreme: God Gone Mad
  • Supreme by Erik Larsen
Collecting 6 Issues:
  • Supreme #63-68.
Covers: (click to enlarge)
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TPB Cover: Supreme #64
TPB Cover: Supreme #64

Look, I won't lie- I was just an okay fan of Supreme when it started out in 1992. That is to say: I read the first two or three issues, something else a couple of years later, the Supreme: Glory Days mini, the Gladiator/Supreme one-shot, and the Alan Moore run when Checker Books finally managed to get it into a couple of trades.

And yes, the Moore run was fantastic. But... it wasn't Supreme. It was a hallelujah revisiting of Silver Age Superman (and Superboy). I loved it... but it wasn't Supreme. But fans OMG loved it, so how does anyone follow Alan Moore on this character?

That is what everyone was asking when it was announced that Erik Larsen would take up Supreme... following that last, unpublished issue of Alan's run. What the fug? Is Larsen crazy? I mean, I love Larsen's Savage Dragon. I think he's overlooked as a writer. I knew if anyone could follow Moore, it was Larsen, and that he would make it his own. But even I wondered how he was going to do it.

The answer... was... amazing. It was beautiful. It was so simple, it was brilliant. With one - ONE - freakin' panel, he turned the whole series on its ear, effectively ending Moore's story, and defining the tone for what he would do in the next six issues. I'm really dying to spoil it for you, and the story is eight years old at this point so I should, but I won't, because if you haven't read it yet you should. And you will thank me for not spoiling it. It's that good.

Add to all that: Larsen didn't try to carry on Moore's Supreme. He very definitely shut the door on that. What he did was bring back the original Supreme... no, scracth that. He brought back the 1992 Supreme, because Original Supreme is another character altogether. Get it? Get i... y'know what? Just read the danged story. I promise you, it's good.

For the cover, I'd go with Supreme #64, because if I'm getting an Erik Larsen story, I want an Erik Larsen cover. Not #63 though. It's okay, but it doesn't give you a feeling for the action in the whole story, and it's not a great shot of Supreme. The #64 cover does both. However, if you want just a great shot of Supreme, you could go with any one of the variant covers for #63. Those are nice. For my money though, it's #64,

For the TPB title, I'd go with Supreme: Storming Heaven. "Storming Heaven" was the title for #64. It's unclear whether the title of #65 was "God Gone Mad" or "Picking Up the Pieces," and I don't have the issues at hand to check it. "God Gone Mad" might be a good TPB title too, but I like "Storming Heaven" better. Then there's the third option: Supreme by Erik Larsen for obvious reasons. That seems a little reserved for the action that's inside though. So, "Storming Heaven" is what I'd go with.

Although they are in storage, I do have the actual issues for this arc. A TPB would just look so good on my shelf though. But you tell me...

Would U Buy It? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
2 Comments

Would U Buy It? #123: The Complete Badrock

DateWUBI? #123:View:Attached to Forum:Last Issue:
07/01/20The Complete Badrock(Blog) (Forum)Badrock (1995).WUBI #122.

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:The Complete Badrock
Alternate Titles:
  • Badrock
  • Badrock and Company
  • Badrock Team-Up
Collecting 18 Issues:
  • Badrock #1-2.
  • Badrock and Company #1-6.
  • Badrock Annual #1.
  • Badrock/ Wolverine (one-shot).
  • Grifter/ Badrock #1-2.
  • Spider-Man/ Badrock #1A-1B.
  • Violator vs. Badrock #1-4.
Plus 1:
  • Savage Dragon #3.

Covers: (click to enlarge)
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TPB Cover: Badrock #1A.
TPB Cover: Badrock #1A.

First: please don't bother me with criticisms of Rob Liefeld, because Yes, I Am a Fan of Rob Liefeld. I know he's comics' favorite whipping boy, but just don't do it here. There's plenty of other places to hate on the guy- go there if you just can't keep it to yourself.

Second: How can you not love Badrock? Originally named "Bedrock," Liefeld took fire from Hanna-Barbera, made one simple letter change, and bam, an instant comic badass is born!

Third: Due to the number of one-shots and short mini-series, I didn't really realize this, but Badrock was published pretty consistently from late 1994 to early 1996, with only a month's gap in one or two places. Then there's about a five month jump to get to Badrock/ Wolverine, and a nine month jump to Spider-Man/ Badrock. Look, that ain't bad.

An interesting bit about Badrock is just about every issue has a guest star or few. Just about everyone in the Image Universe plays through in the Badrock books. Basically, this collection would be one fun ride of team-up after team-up, and who doesn't love that?

For the cover, there's really no one cover that represents all of the guest stars that would be in the book, so I think one with just Badrock on it would be best. For that, we go to Badrock #1A. There's another good one on Violator vs. Badrock #1, but there's some Violator leg in the foreground, so I wouldn't use it.

For the title, I think Badrock and Company is the most likely of any of the actual titles reprinted here, and it's actually the first one in the book so it makes a certain amount of sense. Of course, the focus is Badrock, so the title could be just Badrock. I suggested Badrock Team-Up, because I like it better than Badrock and Company, but it's not a true fit, because part of the book is a versus, not a team-up. I actually kind of like The Complete Badrock better, because I think buyers gravitate to those types of collections. So, that's the one I'd go with.

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For my money, a complete Badrock collection isn't quite complete without The Savage Dragon #3. This is a knock-down, drag-out fight with Dragon, and the ending is the best. My only hesitation with it is that it's from December, 1992- nearly two full years before Badrock and Company #1, so not quite in the same era as the rest of them. But then again, the last two crossovers suggested for the book take a bit of a publishing time jump from the rest of the issues, so maybe the gap here shouldn't be a problem either. I'd want to see it in there, and I do think it helps set the tone for Badrock's characterization.

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No Caption Provided
The 1995 Violator vs. Badrock mini-series has already had a trade paperback in 2000, but you try getting hold of a copy! I only found a few copies, and they were priced from $99.99 to $314.80! What The Frick?! I want to see this complete Badrock collection just to keep those price gougers from getting anything. Harumph.

I think Badrock is one of Rob Liefeld's most successful characters, and he's just pure fun. I honestly don't even know if this trade is possible due to Rob's copyright woes with Youngblood. I'd love to see this TPB though! But you tell me...

Would U Buy It? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
2 Comments

Would U Buy It? #122: Cosmic Powers Unlimited

DateWUBI? #122:View:Attached to Forum:Last Issue:
05/23/20Cosmic Powers Unlimited(Blog) (Forum)Cosmic Powers Unlimited (1995).WUBI #121.

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Cosmic Powers Unlimited
Alternate Titles:
  • Cosmic Powers
  • Cosmic Powers: The Complete Collection.*
Collecting 5 Issues:
  • Cosmic Powers Unlimited #1-5.
  • Star Masters #1-3.
Plus 1:

*see: Plus 1 notes.

Covers: (click to enlarge)
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TPB Cover: Cosmic Powers Unlimited #5
TPB Cover: Cosmic Powers Unlimited #5

So, when I was doing WUBI? #120: Star Masters, it occurred to me that Marvel would only have to throw in three more issues to have the complete Cosmic Powers Unlimited series as well as the complete Star Masters. So, why not? You get a cool set of Silver Surfer stories the first three issues, and then the Star Masters story the last five issues.

For the cover, like always, #1 is a safe bet, but even with CPU #1-3 included, this is still mostly a Star Masters book. So, I'd go with the CPU #5 cover. It's a nice shot of the whole Star Masters team, and for me it gives the added bonus of showing that odd change in costume for Beta Ray Bill.

For the alternate titles, Marvel could just use Cosmic Powers, since their original CU series was collected as Thanos: Cosmic Powers. I think that would be confusing to buyers though, so I'd personally stick with CPU.

No Caption Provided

This is a little bit of a cheat on the Plus 1 idea, because Thanos: Cosmic Powers is a TPB, collecting Cosmic Powers #1-6, and Secret Defenders #12-14. This is where the other alternate title comes into play. See below.

No Caption Provided

Another option is Cosmic Powers: The Complete Collection. Basically, this is both CU series all in one book, plus Star Masters #1-3, and Secret Defenders #12-14. So, this would be like a hefty 17-issue Epc-sized TPB. I think that would be cool. But you tell me...

Would U Buy It? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
2 Comments

Would U Buy It? #121: Rom, Vol. 1-4

DateWUBI? #121:View:Attached to Forum:Last Issue:
06/05/20Rom(Blog) (Forum)Rom (1979).WUBI #120.

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Rom: Spaceknight
Rom: Spaceknight

I can't believe that IDW hasn't found a way to do this yet, but the Marvel Rom series has still never been reprinted. I'm sure there are licensing issues, and the fact that Marvel has their own characters all over the Rom series probably doesn't help things. Still, fans of Rom have been wanting to see his series collected forever. Someone please find a way to do it!

If you don't know who Rom is, he was originally designed as a toy for Parker Brothers, and then was licensed to Marvel as a comic character. He's the greatest of the Spaceknights, and he'll be glad to tell you that when he introduces himself! His mission is to free Earth of the Dire Wraiths- shapeshifting aliens that kill and replace their victims, worming their way in until they've taken over.

I don't think I read the whole series as a kid, but I read a good portion of it... I think I dropped it in the middle, and came back for the last dozen or couple dozen issues. I remember that I really enjoyed the series, so I think the dropoff had more to do with not being able to get mom to buy me the issues than me losing interest (ah, being a kid with no allowance- le sigh).

Whatever the case, Rom enjoyed a 75 issue series, 4 annuals, and 4 significant guest appearances (one of which was in a two-issue X-Men story). That gives us 84 issues to collect which I split into four 21-issue volumes. I made them larger collections, because I'm thinking of books that are Epic Collection in size.

I'd really like to see this as a Marvel Epic Collection, but I don't know if that's even possible, so I left Rom Epic Collection as an alternate title. Rom: Spaceknight is also an alternate title, just in case the publisher thinks "Rom" isn't recognizable enough on its own. I'd go with just Rom though.

Proposed Title:Rom
Alternate Titles:
  • Rom: Spaceknight
  • Rom Epic Collection
Vol. 1 Collecting 21 Issues:
  • Rom #1-21.
Vol. 2 Collecting 21 Issues:
  • Rom #22-40.
  • Rom Annual #1.
  • Power Man & Iron Fist #73.
Vol. 3 Collecting 21 Issues:
  • Rom #41-58.
  • Rom Annual #2.
  • Marvel Two-in-One #99.
  • Incredible Hulk #296.
Vol. 4 Collecting 21 Issues:
  • Rom #57-75.
  • Rom Annual #3-4.
  • Uncanny X-Men #187-188.
Covers: (click to enlarge)
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Volume 1
Vol. 1 TPB Cover: Rom #1
Vol. 1 TPB Cover: Rom #1

For Volume 1's cover, really simple: I'd go with Rom #1. The first volume is very straightforward, collecting Rom #1-21. I think it's good that the first volume doesn't rabbit trail into the guest appearances in other comics. However, #12 guest stars Jack of Hearts, #17 & #18 guest star the X-Men, and #21 guest stars Torpedo.

Volume 2
Vol. 2 TPB Cover: Rom #25
Vol. 2 TPB Cover: Rom #25

Volume 2 would collect Rom #22-40, Rom Annual #1, and Power Man & Iron Fist #73. The Power Man & Iron Fist issue leads right into Rom #23. Besides Luke Cage and Iron Fist, this volume also sees appearances from Namor, Torpedo (again), the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and Nova and the New Champions.

There are plenty of cool covers for the issues in this volume, but how can you not use #25- Rom fighting an evil twin Rom? That's the one I'd go with.

Volume 3
Vol. 3 TPB Cover: Rom #42
Vol. 3 TPB Cover: Rom #42

Volume 3 would collect Rom #41-58, Rom Annual #2, Marvel Two-in-One #99, and Incredible Hulk #296. This volume sees appearances from Doctor Strange, the Thing, the Soviet Super Soldiers, the Skrulls, the Hulk, and Alpha Flight. OH! And 36 YEAR SPOILER ALERT: the death of Torpedo!

For the cover, I have to say the #41 cover with Doctor Strange is pretty cool, and if Marvel did this TPB series, I think that's the one they'd go with. For just Rom though, I think #42 is better, even though the energy crackle makes it look like Rom just passed gas.

Volume 4
Vol. 4 TPB Cover: Rom #75
Vol. 4 TPB Cover: Rom #75

Volume 4 would collect Rom #57-75, Rom Annual #3-4, and Uncanny X-Men #187-188. It obviously has appearances from the X-Men, but also just about everyone else from the Marvel Universe! By the end of the series, the Dire Wraiths were pretty much everywhere, because this was pretty much Secret Invasion before Secret Invasion without tie-in issues for every series, or seven related four-issue mini-series. This was absolutely epic by the end, and everyone was in on the fight. There are significant appearances from the New Mutants, Gladiator of the Imperial Guard, Beta Ray Bill, the Avengers, and Rick Jones as a Hulk!

Again, several cool covers to choose from this go 'round. I really love both the Rom Annual #3 and Rom Annual #4 covers. I'd almost go with #3, but the art doesn't really match up with the previous choices. So, I think I'd go with Rom #75 instead.

I'd definitely be all over this if it were reprinted. But you tell me...

Would U Buy It? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
4 Comments

Would U Buy It? #120: Star Masters

DateWUBI? #120:View:Attached to Forum:Last Issue:
05/23/20Star Masters(Blog) (Forum)Star Masters (1995).WUBI #119.

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Star Masters
Collecting 5 Issues:
  • Star Masters #1-3.
  • Cosmic Powers Unlimited #4-5.
Covers: (click to enlarge)
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TPB Cover: Cosmic Powers Unlimited #4
TPB Cover: Cosmic Powers Unlimited #4

Honestly, I don't know anything about this series beyond what I found in the wiki. I ran across this while researching something else, and thought it sounded like a good way to kill some reading time.

To summarize, Quasar appoints himself greeter to aliens that have come to Earth, and soon finds himself framed for their deaths. Silver Surfer and Beta Ray Bill are drawn in, a few new characters join them, and this is how the Star Masters begin. It turns out that evil aliens have been using a Planet Pulverizer asteroid to destroy planets, and Earth is next. Ultimately, they have to stop the aliens, clear Quasar, and destroy the asteroid.

I'm not sure what the story is with this series. Looking at the dates, Star Masters #3 and Cosmic Powers Unlimited #4 came out the same month. So, it looks like Star Masters was cancelled, but was allowed to wrap up in Cosmic Powers Unlimited which itself was cancelled with issue #5.

For the cover, especially for something this obscure- and obviously failed- I imagine Marvel would just make the Star Masters #1 cover the TPB cover. However, Cosmic Powers Unlimited #4 has a pretty decent-looking wrap cover that would give them both the front and back covers for the trade (with a little modification for the trade's thicker spine). It's nice that the front of the cover is a nice, clear shot of Beta Ray Bill, Silver Surfer, and Quasar, because that gives something for the buyer to recognize when they glance at it, and this unknown would need all the drawing power it could get.

I think this would be a fun read, and at five issues, it's not too long. But you tell me...

Would U Buy It? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
4 Comments

CCC #98 - Voting Thread

The Rise Of The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey, on inprnt
The Rise Of The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey, on inprnt

Hi, everyone! It's voting time once again, and after this we will only be one contest away from the big 100! Kind of exciting! This time around, the pictures were The Rise of the Octopus Man, and The Octopus Man, both by Lloyd Harvey, found on inprnt.com (no "i" in "print").

Writers had to tell two things:

  • Who he was before he was the Octopus Man, and
  • Why he is rising now.

I've been holding this pic for a contest for a long time. I haven't read the other stories yet, and I'm excited to get to it. So let's move on to the rules:

The voting rules:

  • READ the stories, PICK your favorite one, and CAST your VOTE!
  • If you wrote, you should vote! (It's just sporting)
  • No voting for yourself. (Also sporting)
  • The voting deadline is Sunday, May 24, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).
  • Remember: All are welcome to vote, and the winner gets to pick the next contest.

The stories:

TommytheHitman - Otto Mire - The Octopus Man

Otto Mire - The Octopus Man

(The following is a collection of evidence compiled together in the ruins of Crampton, New England).

The Crampton Weekly – Edition 67 – 29/12/1904 – Written by Sutter Crane

It was in the early hours of the morning when we were all woken by the sound of thunder and lightning ripping through the sky, though I doubt anyone was surprised by the disturbance. Storms are fairly typical this time of year, though what happened because of the storm is far from normal.

At 2AM most of our small village was either asleep or trying to get that way. Which is why the group of sailors that washed up on our shores comes as such a surprise. I’m sure many of you have noticed the massive hull of the USS Philips off in the distance, tipped on its side but I’ll fill you in on the details anyway.

I spoke to Ensign Taylor as soon as I heard about the disturbance. He was with his colleagues at The Gillman, all of them were grouped around a small fire trying desperately, desperately to get warm. Just thinking about how cold those waters must have been sends chills down my spine.

“It was the strangest occurrence.” Taylor manages to tell me in between the chattering of his teeth. “I was on the bridge when it happened. One moment everything was completely fine, serene… and the next moment everything was chaos.” According to Taylor, the USS Philips was on its way back to Washington following a trip to Australia, a terribly lengthy voyage only to be met with defeat.

“Captain Taggert ordered me to the Cargo Hold.” Taylor continued. “We had some important resources down there we needed to make sure were secure, but the ship capsized before I could get there.”

When asked how many crewmembers the ship held, Taylor grew grim. He explained to me that the five or so others that were sat around the fire with him were less than a fraction of the many members that ship had held.

What a way to end the year!

I suggest we all send our thoughts and prayers to the poor souls still struggling aboard that vessel and may God wish them well!

______________________________________________________

The Crampton Weekly – Edition 68 – 5/01/1905 – Written by Sutter Crane.

It was 9AM last Wednesday when Crampton’s local celebrity and deep-sea Diver, Otto Mire volunteered to explore the ship. Otto (photographed below with his wife Deborah and two children) – PHOTOGRAPH NOT INCLUDED – as I’m sure you all know put Crampton on the map a few years ago when he became the first man to discover the rare breed of Cuttlefish that has recently taken to our shores.

Otto, a close friend of mine I must confess, showed up at my house in the early hours of the morning. Deborah was with him and the man was already wearing most of his diving suit save for the helmet.

“Sutter.” He said in the same heroic voice he always sports. “There are people dying on that ship and I’ve gotta do something.”

We ventured to Mire’s Cove (named after our hero and an ideal spot for divers). Otto donned his helmet and explained to me his plan for this operation.

“I’m going to go up to the Philips’ hull and see if I can’t find a way in.” He said this while Deborah checked to make sure his suit was securely fastened and such. “I’ll give you a tug on the breather ever 15 minutes or so to let you know I’m alright.” He cracked us a smile under the helmet. “If I’m not… well pull me back up.”

We all smiled at this, though in truth I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel nervous. I told Otto good luck, his wife kissed his helmet and he submerged.

Deborah and I waited there for 15 minutes and Tom gave us a tug on the breather. We waited another 15 and there was another tug. My nerves began to settle.

45 minutes passed since Otto had submerged. I stared at the man’s breathing apparatus waiting patiently. 50 minutes passed. Deborah looked at me, panic in her eyes. An hour went by and there had been no sign from Otto.

It was 9AM when Otto had submerged, that was the last time we saw him.

Deborah and I began to reel the Diver back in, though it was a difficult job given how heavy the suit was. Many minutes of silent work went by, finally we reached the end of Otto’s tether… but there was nothing there.

I’m beginning to suspect, dear readers that there is something terrible aboard the USS Philips, though what terrible cargo that vessel has brought to our quiet shores I do not know.

We shall be having a candlelit vigil for our Otto and the rest of the Philips’ sailors at 6PM this evening, I hope I will see you all there.

_______________________________________________________

The Crampton Weekly – Edition 69 – 12/01/1905 – Written by Sutter Crane.

As I’m sure you all know this week has been quite hectic.

I knew that something strange was happening as soon as the men in the black suits arrived. Crampton very rarely receives visitors and given the recent events there was no question as to why they were here.

From what I’m told they ignored most of the townsfolks, instead moving immediately to The Gillman where the survivors of the USS Philips’ were staying. Sally Gilly (owner of The Gillman) tells me that there were some hushed conversations between the sailors and their guests, though she was not privy to the details.

It was on the Monday when the men in suits had arrived, it was Tuesday when they left. They took the survivors with them and left with barely even a word, though that wasn’t the last we heard from them.

Last night came the sound of an explosion from the approximate location of where the USS Philips sunk. Though it’s quite impossible for the cause of this destruction to be determined this humble reporter can ponder a few guesses.

There is something sinister beneath the shores of Crampton, dear readers. I do not know what it is and I’m not certain that I want to. Though I am not certain that an answer shall be uncovered, I am certain that sinister forces are at play here.

Tonight, I request that the town prays, not for anyone else but for your friends, neighbours and family.

There’s a good chance only God may help us now.

___________________________________________________

The Crampton Weekly – Special Edition – 15/01/1905 – Written by Sutter Crane.

Otto Mire is alive, dear readers! Otto Mire is alive!

It has been ten days since our poor hero first submerged beneath the black waves and by all accounts, he should be dead! Yet somehow the man is alive… though we may wish he wasn’t.

It was at 6 in the morning when Father Craddock was enjoying his weekly spot of fishing, as we all know he likes to do. The poor man… he tells me he was by Mire’s Cove when it happened, simply sat there peacefully with his fishing rod gently twitching with the water.

“There was nothing but me and the wind.” Craddock told me, his eyes staring up at the ceiling as he lay upon his hospital bed. “My fishing mornings are my favourite parts of the week; the peace and serenity bring me closer to God… but today… today I think I was brought closer to the Devil!” Craddock’s eyes never left the ceiling, even as he continued to explain the horrible sights he saw. “I… I saw the water by my feet begin to break and shift. Rising up from the water there was a… a round, bronze device! I saw him come to the surface, shambling towards me and inn my panic I ran up the beach, crucifix in my hand! I turned back to see what was rising from the water… and I saw Otto! He was still dressed in his Diving outfit and he was thin! Dreadfully thin! He seemed soaked to the bone, but the worst part was the helmet. Coming from Otto’s helmet and by extension his face… was some sort of parasite!”

The Nurse refused to let me stay in the room a moment longer, terrible state that the Father was in.

For those of you unaware, Officer Gilly is organizing a group to find Otto… or whatever has taken his form. Craddock remembers Otto heading away from the town and as such is searching in that vicinity.

Our thoughts should be with Otto’s wife and children at this time.

__________________________________________________________________

The following is a typed Transcript found at a bloody scene. Two bodies were found belonging to Sutter Crane and Ms Sharon Tate (The Transcript’s typist).

Dated: 17/01/1905

(Mister Crane – the Interviewer – is seated at a table. Across from him is what shall be referred to as Mister Otto Mire, though his identity still has yet to be confirmed).

Sutter Crane: Hello, Otto.

(There is silence).

Sutter Crane: Is… is there another name you’d prefer to be known as?

Otto Mire: My true name cannot be pronounced by your tongue.

Sutter Crane: Is there something you would prefer to be called?

Otto Mire:You may call me “Master”.

Sutter Crane: Alright. “Master”, would you mind telling me what’s going on?

Otto Mire: Currently? You are addressing a more advanced lifeform as if you were talking to a common vagabond.

Sutter Crane:Oh?

Otto Mire: What you see before you may look like Otto Mire. It may sound like Otto Mire. But it is not Otto Mire.

Sutter Crane: What are you then?

Otto Mire: What I am is the beginning, Sutter Crane. The beginning of what? The beginning of your end at the very least… and most likely the end of your civilisation.

Sutter Crane: So, you’re thinking of killing me? Like you killed Officer Gilly? Is there anything of Otto left inside you?

Otto Mire: There is not.

Sutter Crane: And I presume you took him once he entered the remains of the USS Philips?

(Otto nods).

Sutter Crane: May I also presume that you are responsible for causing the Philips’ sinking in the process?

Otto Mire: Our power is limitless.

(There is a slight pause).

Sutter Crane: “Our?”

Otto Mire: Of course, Sutter. You didn’t presume that your friend, Mister Mire is the only one under my control… did you?

Sutter Crane:If I’m being honest, Otto… I don’t quite understand what I’m talking to.

Otto Mire: It’s… Master. And there were hundreds of sailors aboard that vessel, Sutter. What do you PRESUME happened to all the bodies?

Sutter Crane: I don’t know, Otto. What did happen to them?

Otto Mire:Well. They’re beneath the ocean, Sutter. Drifting with the tides. They’re rising up at all the beaches across the world just like I did. These Octopus Men are just like the one before you… and they’re only the beginning.

(Sutter stops taking notes).

Sutter Crane: And… and why are you telling me this?

Otto Mire: Because you’re not going to leave this room alive.

Batkevin74 - How WW1 was won...

How WW1 was won...

25th April, 1915, 1am, off the Turkish Coast

“Oi! Bluey! What is that thing?”

Bluey; officially Private First Class Maxwell Grant, over at his mate Charlie Lynch beside him and held up the small silver bell, ornately engraved. Maxwell had been called Bluey ever since he signed up, due to his red hair. It didn’t bother him.

“Is that a trinket from Cairo?”

Bluey shook his head. “Nah, me mum gave me this.”

“A bell?” Charlie scratches his head.

“YOU MEN BE QUIET!” Major Edmund Drake-Brockman bellowed which sounded like it could be heard all the way in Istanbul. The entire rowboat went quiet as did several other boats nearby as they bobbed in the water. It was sometime after midnight somewhere off the Dardanelles. In the wee small hours they were about to invade Turkey. Charlie sniggered, which made Bluey snigger which soon had most of the boat in giggles. But as soon as the click of the Major’s pistol happened, it was dead silent.

“Go on!” whispered Charlie. “What’s with the bell?”

“It’s a long story.” Bluey quietly replied. “And you heard the Major.”

“We’re in a rowboat, about to attack Johnny Turk and win the war,” Charlie smiled. “One little story won’t kill anyone.”

Bluey couldn’t help but smile at his mate from Mount Isa Queensland. He, like Bluey, had eagerly signed up for the war. It was a great way to see the world and do your bit for Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Under normal circumstances he and Charlie would never have met, separated by 2300km. Charlie was the son of a copper miner and would’ve continued the family tradition while Bluey was from Geelong in Victoria and destined for either law or medical school depending on his marks. This Great War was an adventure.

“My mother got this from her grandmother, who got it from her grandmother who got it from the sister of this bloke,” Bluey pointed to an inscription. “Guiseppe Caprotti da Oreno who was the brother of Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno who was an apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci.”

Charlie nodded his head then looked Bluey in the eye. “Bull$#!+!”

“I swear, all true!” Bluey crossed his heart. “Family heirloom.”

“And your mum gave it to you to bring to alert the Turks on your position?” Charlie chuckled. Bluey elbowed his friend in the ribs to shut him up.

“No, you want to hear the story?”

“No!” Charlie said before smiling broadly. “Go on Blue.”

“So back in Venice about five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci had a workshop....”

1483, Venice, Italy

“It looks like an octopus!” Gian stated as he held up the weird contraption his master had placed on the table. “What is it?”

“A device to walk under the waves,” Leonardo da Vinci said as he took it off his apprentice and laid it upon the table. “But yes, Gian, it is based off an octopus. It makes one into an octopus man.”

Gian looked at the device. “I don’t understand.”

Leonardo patted him on the shoulder. “We breathe yes?”

“Yes.”

“Air,” the inventor waved his arms around to highlight. “Goes in and out. But underwater, it goes out but not in. The octopus...” He smiled at Gian. “Will allow someone to breathe air underwater. The tube has the air, it will be like strolling down to the piazza.”

“Just underwater.” Gian added.

“Precisely. But it needs work,” Leonardo mused as he looked at it. “Maybe a heavier helmet or boot...I’m not sure.”

“Bull$#!£!” Charlie interrupted. “You’re telling tall tales. I’m getting some shut eye before we march into Constipation tomorrow.”

“Constantinople,” Bluey corrected him. “And it’s all true. Why would my mother lie to me?”

“To shut you up, you orange rat!” hissed a voice next to him. The harsh criticism came from New Zealand soldier Howard Parker. “Keep yapping and you’re over the side!”

Charlie nudged closer, leant over Bluey and whacked Howard in the jaw. His head snapped back against the boat and it was all silent. “Go on,” Charlie said, impressed by his own punch.

“Basically the bell was carved by Guiseppe’s wife after he died trying to make the octopus suit work,” Bluey showed Charlie the scenes engraved on the bell. He squinted in the moonlight but could barely make it out. “It’s said she cursed Leonardo, putting her hatred and grief into the bell. And that if the bell was rung and tossed into the sea, Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno would rise again.”

Charlie looked at his friend. “Don’t you think his missus would’ve used the bell by now?”

Bluey tucked the bell back into his khaki shirt pocket and bedded down.

“Only kidding Bluey,” Charlie tried to make amends. Bluey shrugged and rolled into the unconscious Howard as a pillow. “Bluey? Bluey!”

“Ssh!” Bluey seethed as he tried to force himself to sleep.

A shrill whistle woke everyone up, though most hadn’t slept at all. Major Edmund Drake-Brockman barked something which was incomprehensible as each boat scrambled up and rowed in to the Turkish coast. Charlie tried to talk to Bluey but he was manning an oar. The boats rode the waves in towards the shore. It was like an early morning punt...until boat six exploded from an artillery shell sending men into the air. Suddenly it all became very real!

As their boat wedged into the sand; Charlie was over the side and running for the beach, a dozen others with him. Bluey threw the oar into the surf, gathered his rifle and followed his mates. Bullets whizzed by him. Bluey lurched as the boat was bumped by an incoming wave. From out of his coat bounced the bell; it smacked the side of boat, spun, hit the bench seat and scurried around the bottom. Bluey clambered after it.

Even as he ran for cover, Charlie heard the chime. He dove onto the sand and looked back at the boats.

“Come on Bluey,” Charlie said.

Bluey grabbed the bell and a wave of relief washed over him. He stood up. The Turkish bullet slammed into his cheek and passed into his brain. Bluey fell backwards into sea.

“NO!” Charlie started back for his friend when Howard Parker grabbed his arm and wrenched him back to the ground.

“Leave him!”

“But...”

Howard grabbed Charlie’s face and pointed it to the sandy cliffs in front of them. “We have to go this way, not that way!”

Charlie whimpered. He was terrified and angry and scared. He didn’t know what to do or feel. Explosions shook the beach. Men suddenly stopped running as bullets from the bluffs greeted them. Some died instantly; others lay and screamed in agony. Charlie sucked in some air and swore loudly.

25th of April, 6pm.

A lone bugler belted out the haunting last post across the cove. Guns on both sides were amazingly silent. Charlie Lynch huddled in hole he and his fellow soldiers had carved into the cliffs. Today had been horrific and that really didn’t capture it.

The sun slowly set. Charlie wanted to cry. He looked around at the other soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force who were in the same shape. He gazed longingly out across the beach. Some odd bubbles caught his eye. Slowly, menacingly, a figure emerged from the water and marched up the beach.

It stood about six feet tall, dressed in slimy brown leathers, a tarnished bowl helmet upon its head and octopus tentacles where a face should be. Charlie gasped and clutched at Howard.

“It’s Bluey!”

Howard was puzzled and looked towards what Charlie was babbling about. Howard went white and filled his pants.

“What in God’s name is that?” Howard crossed himself.

“It’s Bluey!” Charlie said. “I think. He had a bell, from Leonardo da Vinci...I can’t remember! It’s a bell that summoned something or...”

The creature trudged up the beach towards the Turkish line. Cries of horror erupted from AIF soldiers who saw it. Bullets rained down from the Turkish line at the advancing thing but it just kept walking forward. Charlie grabbed a lantern and ran over to the monster.

“Bluey! Bluey! It’s me, Charlie.”

The creature stopped and looked him up and down. It muttered something and kept walking. Charlie followed behind it using him as cover.

“CHARLIE!”

Charlie ignored Howard’s shout and waved him over to join him. The monster climbed up the cliff using hands and face tentacles. Shout and calls from the Turkish side as the concentrated upon this advancing thing. Howard ran up to Charlie.

“What the hell?”

“We need to find someone who speaks Latin or Italian,” Charlie said as he scrambled up the cliff after the monster. “Go tell the Major.”

The Octopus Man moved into a trench much to the horror of the Turkish troops. It batted a soldier aside and stomped on the nearby machine gun nest. It marched onward and forward smiting anything that got in its path. Charlie Lynch followed it popping out to take shots at fleeing terrified Turks.

“Good job Bluey,” he encouraged the monster as they invaded the Turkish line.

The Octopus Man’s attack turned the tide on that day. The unstoppable monster chased the Turks back to Sarkoy, some seventy kilometres west of the landing. Major Edmund Drake-Brockman spoke a little Latin and tried to speak with the creature. It muttered over and over “Venice to see Leonardo.”

Using that, the AIF fell in behind the Octopus Man using the horrific creature to scare off their enemies. The initial diversionary tactic of deploying the Australians to the Dardenelles to split the Germans focus turned into an actual second front. The Octopus Man trudged terrifyingly onwards.

Within three days the Turks had retreated and given the AIF access to the Sea of Marmara.

“Bull$#!+!” yelped Angus Lynch, the eight year old grandson of Charlie Lynch, into his grandad’s ear. “That’s rubbish!”

“Entirely true,” Charlie replied with a smile. “The reason we won The Great War was the Octopus Man.”

“So where is he now?”

“He turned left at Bulgaria and marched all the way to Venice.” Charlie said as he crossed his medals.

“Why isn’t there anything about this on the Internet?” Angus asked.

“Oh there is, you just have to Goggle it.”

“It’s called Goo-Gel, grandad! Jeez!”

Charlie ushered his young grandson off his lap. “Come on, we’ve got to get some sleep. We got an early morning tomorrow for the dawn service.”

Charlie Lynch slowly stood up and watched Angus charge out the room. He wandered over to the mantle piece to the ornate silver bell sitting there next to the photo of his wife Camille.

“At least that’s what I recall,” Charlie said.

Cbishop - The Rise of the Octopus Man

The Rise of the Octopus Man

New York. Two months ago:

A private eye finds his lawyer struggling with an octopus man. "It's not funny, Jeanine."

"Oh, Solomon! Get this thing off of me!"

"It's not funny, Jeanine. Turn him back."

"Solomon Seal! This is no time for games! Help me! Shoot it!"

"I said turn my brother back, Jeanine. Now."

Suddenly undisturbed by the tentacles entangling her, Jeanine looked at the private eye coolly. "Damn! How'd you know it was him?"

"He's wearing my dad's watch. He hardly ever takes it off. Plus I was expecting him. Now turn Titus back to normal."

After another minute of bickering, she rolled her eyes, huffed, snapped her fingers, and Titus turned back to normal. "Oh, relax, crabby. We were just having some fun. Weren't we Up-Titus?"

Atlantic end of the English Channel. Two months ago:

He sits on a coral throne at the bottom of the Channel. He has sat there so long that he himself is covered in coral. So covered in coral that if anyone were to discover him, they would think him to be some ancient, lost work of art, or perhaps the body of some long forgotten sailor. They would be partially right on both counts.

Now though, he hears once again the eldritch call of the magic that created him. Ever so slowly due to the coral that has attached itself to his eyelids, he opens his eyes. He attempts to shift, but at first doesn't budge. He exerts himself again, and a low moan goes out that sounds like a monster climbing out of a nightmare. Then another moan. Then another. And another. Finally, there is a shift in the silt around the coral throne. The moans grow louder, until finally the coral cracks and breaks with a loud, echoing crack that causes a school of small fish to change direction and flee.

He lifts one arm, then another, and then both of his legs. More of the attached coral cracks, and he shakes it off until he is able to walk out of the pile of it. The strange creature from the throne reaches up tentatively to feel its coral-covered head, then balls up his fists, and punches both sides sharply, causing the coral to break and fall away. This reveals an old diving helmet underneath. He stands there only a moment before several octopus arms wriggle out of the helmet's faceplate, blue rings all along them flashing their iridescence intermittently, and then he starts to walk.

As he does so, he begins to recall his life before the ocean.

Times forgotten:

He has had more names than he can remember, but the first that man ever bothered to remember to any degree was Tyr. The Norse god of war. The Sky Father. He who gave up his sword arm to see Fenrir bound by the silken chain made from Sif's slender lock. As the gods moved around the world, he would be known as Ares in Greece, and Mars in Rome. Still a god of war.

1758-1805:

Even in England. Intrigued by the way the Son of God had lived a mortal life to win a great victory, the war god decided to try it for himself. Born anew and whole in Norfolk, he grew into a flag officer and was known as Lord Horatio Nelson. Even there, he could not escape his true nature, as Lord Byron- a god in hiding himself- rightly called him "Britannia's god of war."

Britannia's wars took an eye from him, and true to his roots, he lost his right arm again as well, this time having to amputate it himself in a naval battle. This was the end of his mortal life as Nelson, as he returned to England to recuperate from his wound, and this is where he met Miss Fairchild.

Miss Fairchild had been hired as his nurse during his recuperation, and they had become quite taken with each other. It was some months before he found out her true nature as a vampyre and witch. What does a god care of these things though? Having not yet come back into the full of his own power, he asked Miss Fairchild to heal him.

Her own powers didn't quite extend into healing, but she did have a solution that shocked him to his core. Jeanine knew many things about animals. Even animals that lived beneath the sea. Something she knew about the octopus was that it could grow back lost appendages. She suggested that she could transform Lord Nelson into an octopus-human hybrid, he could grow back his own appendage, and then she could turn him back into a man. By this time, perhaps his godhood would have reasserted itself, and he could move on to his next life elsewhere.

The plan was carried out. A special water tank was built in Lord Nelson's library which would sustain him during his transformed state. While the construction was being carried out though, whispers of its purpose began to circulate among the house servants, and these soon spilled out to the community. Miss Fairchild performed her magics, Lord Nelson was transformed, and transferred from bed to tank.

The hybrid state was a strange one. His body was still mainly that of a man, but his head had become the body of an octopus. The head rested horizontally upon his neck, and the octopus beak pointed forward from roughly the position of the human mouth, surrounded by the eight tentacled arms of the octopus. Submerged in the tank, he found that he could breathe just fine, but as his head was now octopus, he could not speak.

Almost immediately, the house was stormed by commoners, nobles, and military alike. The tank was destroyed, and Lord Nelson might have been as well if the trauma of the attack had not brought on his godhood once again. Between his godly might, and the vampiric powers of Miss Fairchild, they were able to fight off their attackers and flee, but not together.

Miss Fairchild, now exposed, and in dread fear for her own life, boarded a boat for the Americas, and was never heard of in Britannia again. Most unfortunate for Nelson, for although a god once again, he found that he could not reverse this transformation, because it did not originate from his own power. In short, he was stuck in this octopus-man state until such time as he could find Miss Fairchild again.

Unable to explain his appearance or visage to his attackers, once he had them at bay, Horatio's only option was to flee. The chase led through the countryside and to the harbor, where he took to the water, and discovered that he could emit a dark cloud of ink to aid him in evading his pursuers, which he did. Once he had eluded them, he took to the seabed, and there he stayed while he tried to figure out how he could find Miss Fairchild again.

Of course he had thought of boarding another boat bound for the Americas. Unfortunately, he could not get around his odd appearance, and could not see any sailor doing so either. So he remained in the English Channel, biding his time. Eventually, he found a discarded diving helmet, and put it on to help protect himself against any potential predators. As the years passed, the possibility of reversing his fate gave way to anger, and then to despair as even revenge seemed unlikely. And so he sat on his coral throne, brooding until he became one with it.

Mid-Atlantic floor. One month ago:

Until thirty days ago when he felt once again the stirring of that strange magic that Miss Fairchild had used to transform him. Now, he followed the pull of it- as strong against him as the current against an anchor, but he moved with it willingly. As he did so, he felt the stirrings once again of hope. The hope of transformation back to man-god. The hope of new life after the ocean. The hope of revenge.

New York Harbor. Midnight tonight:

As he waded to the shore, that hope had turned into an all consuming desire. Revenge would be his. He would find Miss Fairchild. She would reverse his transformation. And then, as surely as he was a god, he would punish her. Cruelly. For ages. Be wary, Miss Fairchild, he thought. For I am coming. Revenge is coming. The Octopus Man is coming. I am coming. I...

New York City. Midnight tonight:

"HORATIO!" gasped Jeanine Fairchild as she jerked awake from her dream.

"Hm? What?" came the sleepy voice of the man stirring beside her.

"Nothing, Solomon. Go back to sleep," she said, wondering what her dream meant.

"Mnnn," he moaned in objection. "I don't know if I want to. I was having the strangest dream. Some guy walking underwater with a light-up squid for a head. Creepy."

"It's a blue-ringed octopus," Jeanine corrected absentmindedly.

"Oh, yeah, like that's better," said Solomon as he rolled over.

Then, "HEY! Wait a minute!" they both shouted. "You dreamed it too?!"

Remember: Votes due by Sunday, May 24, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).

I'm glad you're here. Thanks for reading, thanks for voting, and see you on the 24th! In the meantime, Happy belated Mothers Day to all the moms, and hey, maybe we'll be out of all this virus-madness by the end of voting? Here's hoping. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home if possible, and enjoy some reading! And vote! Yeah, don't forget to vote. -cb :^D

The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey, on inprnt
The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey, on inprnt
25 Comments

Character Creation Contest #98 - The Rise Of The Octopus Man

The Rise Of The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey on inprnt
The Rise Of The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey on inprnt

Okay, peeps, it's time for CCC #98, and I'm going to a pic I've been holding in reserve for a long time: The Rise Of The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey, originally found on inprnt.com. Currently, I can only find it on Dribbble. He did a second picture, The Octopus Man, which you can see below.

The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey on inprnt
The Octopus Man, by Lloyd Harvey on inprnt

For this contest, your title is The Rise of The Octopus Man. Your OC is who he was before he became The Octopus Man Name him. Two things you have to tell in the story: how your OC got to be The Octopus Man, and why he's rising now.

The rules:

  • The Octopus Man was created by Lloyd Harvey, so that can't be our Original Character. So for this contest, your OC is the man who became The Octopus Man. Name your OC, and tell us the origin of how he became The Octopus Man.
  • Tell us why he has risen.
  • No word limit.
  • Deadline is Sunday, May 10, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).
  • Winner will get to pick the theme for CCC #99, approximately a month from now.

I look forward to your entries. Have fun, and see you in about two weeks.

Remember: deadline is Sunday, May 10, 2020, @11:59PM New York time!

I'm glad you're here! Please join us for the fun, and enter your story! -cb

15 Comments

CCC #97 - Voting Thread

Get out, by Deborah Lee, on Inprnt.com
Get out, by Deborah Lee, on Inprnt.com

Hi, everyone. It's that time once again. The idea this time was to create an OC (male or female) based on the person in the bottom left of the picture. That picture by the way, is Get out, by Deborah Lee, on Inprnt.com. Writers had to name that person, name the three tigers, and name the sword. There were four entries this time, so let's get right to it.

The voting rules:

  • READ the stories, PICK your favorite one, and CAST your VOTE!
  • If you wrote, you should vote! (It's just sporting)
  • No voting for yourself. (Also sporting)
  • The voting deadline is Sunday, April 26, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).
  • Remember: All are welcome to vote, and the winner gets to pick the next contest.

The stories:

.

Wildvine - (Untitled) [Peepants]

*Record scratch*

Yeah, that's me. I bet you're wondering just how I got in to this unique situation? I am heartened that you would inspire to such heights of interrogative discovery. You see a human being-- (or that is-- being, not being, eh, words are hard) besieged by (at least) three tigers, any one of which is more than capable of disseminating a fleshy human.

Oh eww,! Maybe that was not the best word use for the moment. Really conjures some interestingly grotesque imagery, does it not? Allow a rephrase on my part. Ahem, a mere singular individual of this most bizarre troupe of tigers being capable by right of nature for the visiting of unpleasant carnage upon said unfortunate human. I feel better about that, thank you for your input on the subject of my narration.

Being the intrepid junior detective that I know you to be, you have no doubt noticed my irreverent indifference towards the gender-to-be-questioned human being-- that is being not being. Damn you English! I should be recounting this all in Spanish. That would save us a lot of addendum-- Anyhoo, human of unknown gender and tigers of the no-one-cares-gender. The answer is very simple and concise. I am the sword. Now I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the story of the situation or situations that I will not be recounting. As a third person observer you may have an interest in our nameless human-oid. Lets call this person "Peepants." Bloke in some weird forest, about to be mugged by someone's future fursonna with a sword like a nightmare situation in a parking lot of a joint furry/anime convention. Or so I've been told of such things, you know. I'd say the given situation is pretty interesting (The tiger tree mugging, not the furry bit. Blast you time number next, English!)

Or you might be curious about the apex land-shark armed quite literally to the teeth. Now there is a story, where did they get that sword? From an undiscovered temple? From a fallen explorer? From eBay? Why does it have friends with it? And most importantly, why is it harassing a lost civilized fellow, that most natural and beautiful of forest dwellers? All valid and no doubt intriguing avenues of thought to pursue.

On your own time, that is. This is my story.

Now where was I... Hm? Name? The tiger? Now you're just being silly! If you name it you'll get attached and then later on when it dies you'll be sad. Okay, alright now, don't go getting the pouty face my darling little stinkbug, I'll name the kitties if that'll make you happy for the fleeting moments we'll share in the eldritch and icy stare of eternity. Lessee'... the main one we'll name Hungry Maneater. The second one is Not as Hungry, and the third is Not Hungry at all Just Here for the Emotional Support. *Whispers* He's my favorite.

Say, you know what would have been a good story? A Three Little Pigs remake, but with tigers, and a human and instead of a morality story about preparation and good planning its a revenge story about a roving gang of giant felines who mess with the wrong human. Kind of like 'I Spit on Your Grave' but more meta and less awkwardly turning the volume down on the TV because its midnight and your roommates are sleeping down the hall. Know what I'm saying?

Ooh! Or Hungry Maneater is arming the human because he's a good kitty, and the two are about the fight back to back against the other tigers, even though in reality a human with a sword vs a tiger would still just be a human with a sword vs a tiger. That is to say, very soon to be very dead. But what do I know about reality? I'm just a talking sword with ADHD or something.

Wildvine stared at the alien salad of sentence gibberish her high functioning mental disorder had spewed out. It rambled, it was only vaguely coherent, and it probably had some punctuation issues that she wasn't going to bother re-reading for. However they had achieved their true goal. They had participated in a CC Contest for the first time in over a year. Wildvine consoled herself with the knowledge that sometimes you can't write the story someone wants to read. Sometimes you can't even write the story you want to write because you spend your day working over time, and draining all your creativity at work so it a wonder you can write anything when you get home. Sometimes you have to be happy with just placing in the race, even if it is a rather evocative image prompt.

"Good enough, you sexy idiot." Wv self-congratulated herself, about to hit post when she realized. "Oh heckmuffins!" I forgot to name the sword! Ah. Um... Sir Shank. Ha! Annnnnnnnd... post."

TommytheHitman - Shoto and the Darkness [Shoto]

Shoto and the Darkness

Shoto was a Seeker.

That was the sole thing that gave him comfort as he stood before the forest. It was not the first forest that his profession had forced him to venture into in the dead of night, but it still felt like it was his first. He looked at the dark shadows that lingered in-between the trees and the shapes of birds watching him from the branches and his hand moved to the sword that hung proudly from his belt.

He had been given the blade by his father upon achieving the rank of Seeker and had named it Sun Sword. It had been a proud day, but one with a great deal of sadness. Upon becoming a Seeker, the person in that role was forbidden from returning to civilisation until their job was done, and in the hundred years since the Seeker organisation had first been formed not one Seeker had successfully completed their mission.

Shoto sighed. He gripped Sun Sword and in an almost casual manner drew it from its hilt out into the open air. The Seeker took one last look at the field he’d been standing in. It hadn’t been anything special, dead grass and the corpses of flowers that hadn’t seen sunlight in one hundred years yet still tried to grow, but Shoto had a sneaking suspicion that this might be the last thing he sees. He stared at the field for a few long seconds… and then he stepped in.

Shoto’s goal was the same as any other Seeker. He sought gods.

Just over one hundred years ago humanity had faced an invasion unlike any it had before. Their astronomers had noticed the warning signs first. In the black sky that surrounded everything the stars that filled this dark blanket had started to slowly disappear and fade. It had only been the odd couple at first, but in the next decade astronomers noted that during those years over half of the stars visible from the Earth had completely vanished. What was worse, the disappearing stars had started to get closer.

With no idea what they would be facing, Humanity had prepared itself for the worst it could think of and found its imagination sorely lacking.

It had been the darkness itself that had turned against the universe. Space itself had decided to remove the tumours and boils of life that had spread across its back, and the Earth was merely another target in its billion-year war.

When this darkness had arrived, Humanity had turned to its gods to protect them and they had answered.

Their names were Karskan, Brika and Lurve. Collectively they had been known as The Three, and collectively they fell in a matter of minutes. Their thousand-year long religion crumbling almost immediately as humanity had been forced to face the vast darkness that surrounded it alone.

Considering what it was they were facing Humanity hadn’t done a bad job.

Yet there were rumours that the Three had survived their brief battle with the darkness, that they had fallen back to the planet in their wounded states and gone into hiding in order to recover. Following their battle people had seen three bright sparks thousands of miles away, three objects burning through the atmosphere, and following that there had been rumours of three giant, orange tigers stalking their way through the forest.

It was just as justifiable a lead as any, and it was Shoto’s task as a Seeker to find the Three and bring them back to civilisation. For what? He did not know. In truth the young boy imagined it was some sort of punishment. Humanity had suffered many losses to the vast eternal blackness that surrounded their little world, if the Three were still alive it would mean they had fled the battle like cowards and as such were due harsh punishment the same as any man.

Shoto sighed and averted his eyes from the darkness of the forest. In his heart he knew that he could only put it off for so long, and as such he took a deep breath, closed his eyes and began to march forward in a crisp, smart walk just as his training had taught him. The whole time that he walked he kept a hand on Sun Sword as it hung at his side, he tried to ignore the fact that his whole body was shaking.

As he stepped into the forest – its branches and tall trees quickly engulfing him – he couldn’t help but notice that the light from the clearing behind him had been quickly snuffed out.

This was far from the first forest that Shoto had entered, far from the first batch of darkness he’d willingly entered, but it still felt like the first. Having stepped into his enemy’s territory, Shoto opened his eyes and they quickly darted in-between the trees, searching for movement. There was no wind, so thankfully if anything were to shift or move, Shoto would know for a fact that it was either friend or foe. Though that lack of wind had the unfortunate effect of giving the forest an unnaturally quiet feeling.

Suddenly, a bright lightbulb seemed to flash in the recesses of Shoto’s mind and he cursed himself for a fool! He reached into the satchel that hung around his back, and from it pulled out a small, tar black lantern that easily fitted into the palm of his hand. For a moment Shoto closed his eyes and simply focused all of his mind into lighting the lantern as he’d been taught.

‘” Keep your thoughts pure. And they shall lead you through the dark.”’ He had been told many times during his younger years, and as he’d grown older, he had learned that those words were in fact true.

When his eyes opened again, Shoto found a pale green light emanating from the lantern that was engulfing the surrounding area. The Seeker smiled to himself – satisfied – and quickly began to continue his journey further into the trees.

His smile quickly faded once he saw what was waiting for him.

The creature standing before Shoto stepped out from between the trees. It was a thin yet tall figure that seemed to be constructed entirely out of shadows, save for the creature’s face which resembled that of a round, white fleshy egg.

In surprise Shoto went to ready his sword. Though in his panic the boy’s hands seemed uncoordinated and fumbled with the blade. A feeling of shame filled Shoto as he watched his treasured Sun Sword clatter to the ground as if it were no more than a tool and not some sort of holy relic. The boy’s eyes darted up from his sword on the ground and back to his quarry.

Even though the creature had no eyes it seemed to be staring at him.

‘That’s no way to treat your weapon, kid!’ The creature said in an unearned friendly tone. ‘You need to treat your sword with more respect! Darkness knows what you’ll run into in this place!’

Shoto grimaced. The voice from the creature seemed to be coming from a tiny slit in the centre of its “face” and the creature’s cheek bones were protruding as if the terror was smiling… like the smile a cat would have as it cornered a mouse, if a cat were capable of smiling.

‘G… get back!’ Shoto said, unable to hide the fear in his voice. He went to reach for his blade but before he could grab the hilt, the creature’s foot landed atop it and kept it pinned to the ground. ‘You don’t scare me, monster!’ The Seeker lied.

‘You’re brave coming in here, boy.’ The Darkness said. It took a step forward towards Shoto and the boy instinctively backed away. ‘But you’re not the first.’ As the Darkness spoke several large talons began to grow from its right hand. The talons were quite long, almost touching the ground as the Darkness took another step forward… and another… and another.

‘But I’ll be the last!’ Shoto snapped. A brief surge of bravery filled his chest and in an act of pure defiance he raised the green lantern that he had admittedly forgotten about until this point. The green light covered the creature, but it just stared at the lantern completely unaffected.

It actually seemed somewhat amused by the attempt on its life, and (still smiling) gently brushed the lantern out of the way using one of its talons.

You’ve got heart, kid!’ The Darkness said. ‘Too bad I’ve gotta rip it outta ya!’ It gripped Shoto by the neck with a single, lightning fast movement and the boy found himself completely at this foul creature’s mercy.

‘Stay away from me!’ Shoto yelled in vain, his eyes were locked desperately on the blade lying just behind the creature’s foot. So focused was he that his foot knocked a branch lying upon the ground and he fell backwards, landing upon the ground in a heap of pain and embarrassment.

The Darkness paused its approach to watch this. Its head cocked to the side in a display of amusement, and something foul that resembled chuckling echoed through the forest.

‘Come on. You know you can do better than that!’ It said, crouching down to Shoto’s eye level. One of its talons dangled precariously over the artery in Shoto’s leg. ‘Hang on.’ It turned around, black body shielding its actions from Shoto’s view and when it turned back around it was carrying the Sun Sword. The Darkness stared at the sword for a moment, the blade was grasped in its black talons, then its head twitched and Shoto felt the creature’s hidden eyes upon him again. ‘Shame you’re nothing without it.’ It said, nodding to the sword.

The Darkness gripped the sword with its other hand and, upon applying pressure, effortlessly snapped the blade in two. The metal portions of the sword fell to the ground, severed and snapped.

‘Now. What shall I do with you?’ The Darkness placed a strong hand on Shoto’s shoulder, and the boy could do nothing but stare at the creature in horror. The creature’s talons were so sharp that they were actually digging into the young Seeker’s back, drawing cool blood that dripped down his flesh and chilled him to the core. With its free hand the Darkness placed a talon to its chin as if it were thinking. ‘Hmm! Well. I’ve never turned anyone into a wishbone before!’ It placed its free hand upon Shoto’s other shoulder and slowly, began to dig in.

A terrible heat began to fill Shoto. His skin began to burn, he turned bright red and a mixture of blood and sweat began to drip as the Darkness’ talons gripped into his flesh from both sides. It was a terrible, terrible pain and the only thing that filled Shoto’s vision as he screamed was the white shape of the Darkness’ face. The Darkness’ cheeks still seemed as if they were smiling.

‘Oh, come on!’ It said. ‘You can scream louder then that!’ Somehow its talons dug even deeper into Shoto’s back, and the boy’s voice cracked as his vocal cords suffered similar damage.

The Darkness just watched, finding some sick amusement in the torture it dished out. For a moment it unclenched its talons from its prey’s back, and let the young man fall to the ground, blood oozing from the scars that he would bear for the rest of his life.

Somehow the creature was still smiling. Yet that smile quickly faded.

Shoto heard it first, somehow over his sobs he heard it. From the darkness of a forest came the roar of a great beast, and from in between the trees came the beast itself. It was a beautiful creature, a four-legged golden tiger that somehow seemed to shine in the shadows that encircled it. Its green eyes turned to Shoto who’s tears had briefly stopped, and without speaking somehow the tiger managed to say: “Everything will be alright.”

The Darkness turned towards the golden tiger, Shoto had – for the moment – been forgotten in favour of a much more menacing opponent.

‘Not you!’ It snapped, growing larger in height as it did so. ‘I thought we killed you!’

The Tiger did nothing, instead it simply sat between the tree line. From it came a soft purring sound, and as it did this a soft wind began to rise through the forest. Shoto lay upon the ground. His back, his whole body was in agony yet despite this he managed to smile.

The Tiger’s eyes remained locked on the Darkness. Its purr had started to grow deeper, and as the Darkness stared at it, uncertain what to do the tiger began to rise up to its feet.

‘Stay back!’ The Darkness warned. It raised its bloody talons in a futile gesture, but this did nothing to deter the tiger. The Tiger snarled, its teeth were on clear display and they were pointed and sharp. ‘Stay back!’ The Darkness repeated, but once again the Tiger did not listen. It once again let out a mighty roar and this followed it through.

The Darkness screamed as 300 pounds of fur, meat and rage leaped upon it. Shoto watched from his bloody heap and upon hearing the screams slowly began to get back to his feet. He saw the Tiger clawing at the Darkness it had landed upon, it tore chunks of shadow from the creature’s flesh and flung them behind it in a fit of animalistic rage. When the Tiger turned to face Shoto, it had the Darkness’ egg like skull in its mouth.

Shoto stared uneasily at the animal. He was unsure what the creature wanted, though he had his suspicions. His eyes passed from the beast to the remains of his sword lying upon the ground by his feet, he felt a terrible pang of regret in his heart and found that the Tiger was not alone.

He glanced to his right upon seeing movement in the trees and saw not one but two other tigers emerging from the trees!

There were three… three tigers!

One of them moved towards Shoto in a calm manner. It placed a paw on the severed blade of the Sun Sword and almost immediately scooped up the blade in its mouth. It stared at Shoto and waited patiently for the young boy to hold out his hand.

Shoto did as the beast desired, and as the Tiger released its mouth the reforged Sun Sword fell into the young Seeker’s hand. It was as if the incident with the Darkness had never happened, and Shoto gave his blade a practice swing for good measure.

Shoto stared at the Three.

His mission was complete.

Batkevin74 - (Untitled) [Shuvam]

Shuvam had been told nearly every single day of his life, often three times per day, that he was never to touch the sword on the mantlepiece. “It is razor sharp!” his mother would bark. “It was a gift to our family from the Emperor of Japan so DON’T TOUCH IT!”

But since there were armed men entering the house; some dragging his father towards a waiting van and others menacing his mother, he thought this rule could be broken. Shuvam stepped up onto the edge of the fireplace and reached up just as a menacing voice yelled at him.

“I bid you greetings, Lord of Maai,” growled the tiger with the sword in its mouth. “I live to serve.”

“What?” Shuvam looked around as he was standing in a misty forest. “Where?”

“You are in the Grove of Calm Tiding,” the tiger muttered as it dropped the sword on the manicured grass. “The Lord of Maai rules this place. You are the new Lord. I live to serve.”

“You can talk?”

“Yes…” the tiger replied. “Is this strange?”

“YES!” Shuvam snapped. “I was trying to get the sword to protect my mother and father and…”

“Is everything well, Maldonado?” asked a second tiger as it moved in through the mists.

“It is, Passage,” it replied. “The new Lord of Maai is adjusting.”

“I bid you greetings, Lord of Maai,” called another tiger as it came through the opaque veil. “I live to serve.”

“WHAT IS GOING ON?” Shuvam cried.

“Is there something wrong?”

“He is a little confused, Baskin,” said Maldonado to the third tiger. “It is possibly because he is very young. But still, he is the new Lord of Maai.”

All three tigers bowed their heads and lay prone on the ground before the scared little boy. Shuvam looked at them and around in despair. “ENOUGH!! WHAT IS GOING ON?”

“You are the Lord of Maai.” They said in unison. “We live to serve!”

“Then help me…” Shuvam cried as he fell to his knees. “Please.”

The trio of tigers looked at each other in silent conference before Baskin inched forward. “You must take up the Blade of Ryek to confirm your acceptance as the Lord of Maai.”

Shuvam snatched up the sword from the ground. “Like this?”

Baskin sighed. “Other Lords of Maai have been more dramatic, but each their own.”

“Now what? Can I go home now? My family is being attacked.”

The tigers looked around in confusion. “No, Lord of Maai, we are not.”

“NO!” Shuvam screamed. “My mother and father! At home! Not here in the jungle.”

Baskin shrugged. “The Lord of Maai has no family.”

“All hail the Lord of Maai!” roared Passage as he reared up to full height. He was joined by Baskin and Maldonado and in turn several dozen more tigers appeared in the Garden of Calm Tiding to pledge their loyalty to the young ruler. Shuvam screamed….

__

“Anything?” yelled the doctor as the nurse hit the boy with the defibrillator. The nurse was quiet which meant only one thing. “God dammit! Where are his parents?”

“In the hallway, Dr Bishop.”

“I now have to tell them their son didn’t make it…” The doctor tore off his hair net and stormed from the room.

There were about 226 million cases of significant accidental falls that occurred globally in 2015. From that they were around 527,000 deaths. GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators

Cbishop - The Origin of the Paper Tiger [Armand Hammer]

The Origin of the Paper Tiger

Maharashtra, India

Armand Hammer had heard of Waghia, The Lord of Tigers, many times in his years of martial arts training, and he had spent a great deal of money and time to attempt to track him down. That search now had him traipsing through a jungle, hoping for his long-awaited audience with a god. As he neared a clearing, it appeared that his hopes were being rewarded.

A tiger approached him with a second one trailing behind, and a third trailing behind that one. The lead tiger carried a sword in its mouth, and its eyes trailed a low-hanging smoke; enough to make it appear that the other two cats stalked through fog. As it got within pouncing distance, Armand bowed to the beast, but held out a fist, ready to defend himself if he must. The sword still between its teeth, the great cat growled, "Get out!"

From behind, the other two cats echoed, "Get out! Get out!" There seemed to be a muffled chorus of like cries following them, but he could not tell if anything else was out there.

In a low fighting stance, Armand answered, "With respect, I cannot. I seek an audience with Waghia."

"And why should Waghia want to speak with you?" asked the second tiger as it came up and sat on its haunches, just behind the first tiger.

"I have trained many years," replied Hammer. "I wish to hunt men, like the tiger itself, and seek his blessing, in the form of whatever boon he is inclined to give me."

"Tigers do not hunt men," purred the third tiger, now reaching the group. It was her voice that had provided the echoes, as "hunt men" whispered in the air several times at the end of her sentence. Her tail wagged in short flits, and seemed to leave afterimages as it did so. She teased, "Unless they have tasted of man, and become maneaters. Are you a maneater then?" As she spoke, she dipped her head and rolled it upwards, leaving more afterimages, like her tail. A smile, a roar, a yawn, a snarl, a wink and a licking of her lips. "Are you?... Are you?... Are you?" drifted on the wind.

"I misspoke," said the human. "I will hunt men with or without your gift. However, as the tiger is the mightiest of hunters, what I wish is to learn the way of the hunt from the Lord of Tigers."

The first tiger chuckled, lowered its head, and let the sword drop softly to the ground in front of him. "Oh ho. I think you flatter us, manhunter. Do not humans call lions the king of the beasts?"

Armand gave a look of disgust, and waved off his accusation. "Bah! Lions let their lionesses do their hunting for them!"

"Careful," whispered the third tiger with a low growl, and all of her afterimages seemed to agree, as "Careful... Careful... Careful," echoed from each.

"I'm only saying that their males are lazy," retorted Hammer. "By what right do they call their groups 'prides?' What do they know of hunting? I wish to stalk my own prey, not have my meals brought to me by another."

The second tiger nodded slightly. "You are right to come to us for what you wish. We are hunters. Our groups are even called an 'ambush.'"

"Or a streak," added the third tiger, "streak" repeating all around them. "As in 'fast' and 'number of victories.'" And again, the afterimages echoed, "Victories... Victories... Victories."

"Oh ho," laughed Armand, imitating the first tiger. "Have I come to you then? I've come seeking Waghia."

"And you've found him," said the first tiger. "Blake called me 'Tyger Tyger, burning bright.' I am Fyyr; Waghia Today. I can give you this sword- the Baagh Nakh; the Tiger Claw- a weapon that can cut through nearly anything. And with it, the gifts of strategy and stealthiness; the best weapons of a hunter."

The second tiger stepped forward, coming alongside Waghia Today, and said, "I am Wotyr; Waghia Yesterday. I can give you the gifts of the tiger's reflexes and grace, and not carrying the wounds of past battles; an ability to heal quicker than most any man on Earth."

The third tiger stepped forward, past her compatriots, and circled Armand. Her afterimages circled with her, just out of sync; all of them looking him over from head-to-toe. "I am Wynnnd; Waghia Tomorrow." The jungle whispered, "Wynnnd. Wynnnd. Wynnnd." She seemed to smirk.

"Why do you leave afterimages when you move?" asked Armand.

"Because the future is not set," answered Wynnnd. "There are always multiple possibilities for tomorrow." She seemed to consider Armand for a few moments. Then she offered, "I can give you the ability to read your prey; to know their moves almost before they do."

"And why are you female when Fyyr and Wotyr are not?"

Wynnnd tossed her head back and laughed, her afterimages doing the same one-after-the-other just behind her. "I am a god! I can be whatever I like!" She seemed to grin, and licked one side of her mouth.

Wotyr spoke up. "Are these the boons that you have sought from us, Armand Hammer?" When Armand was visibly shocked to hear his name, Waghia Yesterday added, "We are gods."

Armand nodded slightly, and recovered himself. "These gifts are very generous, Lord of Tigers. Even more than I'd dared hope for."

"It's good that they are more than you'd hoped for," answered Fyyr, "because you may only choose the gifts from one of us. Not all."

The three Waghias could see that the man was clearly torn. They waited a long minute while he considered, but finally he answered, "I choose the Baagh Nakh, with your strategy and stealth."

Fyyr nodded, picked the sword back up in his mouth, and offered it to Armand, who took it reverently. He looked it over, and pointing at some etchings on the blade, he asked, "What are these?"

"Baagh Nakh."

Wotyr answered, "It's Hindi- the name of the sword- Baagh Nakh. Tiger Claw will serve you well."

Armand turned the sword over, back-and-forth, admiring it as the light played over the blade. He ran his fingers over the etching, and asked, "Waghia Yesterday, Waghia Today, and Waghia Tomorrow, right?"

"That is correct," answered Wotyr.

"But you are all Waghia? In all my searching, I had been led to believe that there was only one 'Lord of Tigers.' Not three."

"There is only one," answered Fyyr. "We are Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, but we are all the same Waghia. What are you not understanding?" the tiger asked patiently.

"I am merely wondering," began Armand. "If I could only choose the gifts from one of you, and you are all the same Waghia, and now I have the Baagh Nakh, what is to stop me from taking all that you have offered?"

The three tigers all perked up in alarm. "You would dare?" growled Wynnnd.

"I dared to come all this way. I will not shrink back now!" shouted Armand. With that he launched himself forward, swinging the sword in attack against the Waghias.

They reacted swiftly, defending themselves with tooth and claw, their roars declaring their outrage. It was for naught. In seconds, the fight was over. Baagh Nakh had cleaved the tigers into pieces, and they were strewn across the jungle floor.

Armand had not gone without his injuries. His legs. His arms. His torso and back. His face. He was carved with claw and bite marks all over his body. He was on his knees before the bodies of the fallen god, leaning on the sword which he had stuck in the ground before him. He breathed heavily, considering each and every pain. As he sat there, he was astonished to see his wounds begin to close themselves. His pain subsided to nothing, and finally only the blood on his clothes showed that he had endured any wounds at all. He would have laughed, but his body was still recovering the blood loss, and he was simply too tired for it.

Instead, he said to the destroyed bodies before him, "Strategy was not unknown to me before I came here, but then you offered me yours. I knew if I could take that gift first, I could figure out how to get the others." Warily, he gripped the sword's hilt, and pulled against it to help himself up. Pulling it out of the ground, and wiping the dirt and blood from the blade on the sleeve of his shirt, he said, "Thank you, Waghia, for these boons. I will use them as the mightiest hunter men have ever known." He touched the tip of the sword to his forehead, and swiped out slightly, saluting the fallen tigers. Then he turned and walked towards the clearing, still full of the smoke from Fyyr's eyes.

As he was approaching the far side of the clearing, the pieces of the Waghias began to twitch. The hunks of meat evaporated into tendrils of smoke, and as the tendrils coalesced into bigger clouds, the bodies of Fyyr, Wotyr, and Wynnnd reformed, whole and unscathed.

Watching him reach the treeline on the far side of the clearing, Wotyr said, "Bold."

As he re-entered the jungle, Fyyr's eyes smoldered. He growled, "Brazen!"

As he melted into the shadows of the trees, Wynnnd purred loudly, and whispered, "Beautiful." The breeze seemed to echo, "Beautiful... Beautiful... Beautiful."

Remember: Votes due by Sunday, April 26, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).

I'm glad you're here. Thanks for reading, thanks for voting, and see you on the 26th! In the meantime, Happy Easter, everyone. Stay safe, stay home if possible, and let's beat the hell out of this Coronavirus. -cb :^D

31 Comments

Character Creation Contest #97 - Here's Your Picture

No Caption Provided

Welcome to CCC #97! This is something we haven't done in awhile- it's called "Here's your picture." What that means is: you write your entry based on the picture, and the very few rules I will give you. That's it. Have fun.

NOTE: I have not supplied the title and artist of the picture here, because I do not want to influence the direction of anyone's story. I will give the credits on the pic in the voting thread.

The rules:

  • As this is a character creation contest, your OC for this contest is the person in the bottom left of the picture. Male, female, or whatever, that's your original character, and they are dealing with what you see in the picture.
  • NAME 5 things in your story: 1) The person in the bottom left, 2-4) The three tigers, and 5) The sword. Beyond that, the parameters of your story are wide open.
  • No word limit.
  • Deadline is Sunday, April 12, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure). It's a couple days longer than normal, but I want to give everyone a chance to enter.
  • Winner will get to pick the theme for CCC #98, approximately a month from now.

I look forward to your entries. Have fun, and see you in about two weeks.

Remember: deadline is Sunday, April 12, 2020, @11:59PM New York time!

I'm glad you're here! Please join us for the fun, and enter your story! -cb

17 Comments

CCC #96 - Voting Thread

The one yellow ring.
The one yellow ring.

Hi, everyone. It's that time once again. The idea this time was to create an OC that found Guy Gardner's ring (Sinestro's ring) after Guy had lost it. It's just Batkevin74 and I this time, so not much to read this go 'round. I was really hoping to read some more powerring stories from the rest of you great writers, but alas, maybe next contest. Let's get to it:

The voting rules:

  • READ the stories, PICK your favorite one, and CAST your VOTE!
  • If you wrote, you should vote! (It's just sporting)
  • No voting for yourself. (Also sporting)
  • The voting deadline is Sunday, March 22, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).
  • Remember: All are welcome to vote, and the winner gets to pick the next contest.

The stories:

Batkevin74 - (Untitled) [Inventurion]

“I am the Inventurion!” cried Maxine Galdar, surrounded in a bubble of yellow energy. “If I can think it, I can make it!”

The three masked gunmen turned their automatic weapons on the middle aged woman. As the bullets roared through the air she clenched her fist and thought of a vacuum cleaner and all the rounds were harmlessly sucked away into the giant energy construct she’d made. With another hand gesture she created a giant two-headed goat and it charged at the men who screamed like girls. Inventurion then made some tweezers and plucked them all up and placed them into a massive yellow jar.

“You’re all going to jail,” Maxine said, using the ring to amplify her voice. “Hopefully you’ll learn a lesson there about not robbing banks.”

The people in the bank began to cheer as the would be robbers banged their hands to the walls of the jar to no avail. Inventurion levitated them up to the ceiling.

“You’re amazing!” said an old woman.

“Can I get a selfie?”

Inventurion smiled. “Sure.”

“Are you San Diego’s newest superhero?”

Inventurion nodded. “It looks like it.”

__

“Look out world, there’s a new superhero in town,” said WSDN news anchor Tiffany Pike to the viewing audience. “And she’s amazing! In seemingly her debut, Inventurion stopped a robbery of the First National Bank right here in San Diego. She used yellow energy, similar to Green Lantern, and saved thousands of dollars and many peoples lives. Her name is a play on the words inventor and centurion.”

Maxine Galdar watched herself on television with awe and bewilderment. It was surreal. Six months ago she found a ring lying on Goat Rock Beach, just lying in surf. She handed it into the local cops because that’s just how she was and when nobody claimed it they sold it to her for the princely sum of five dollars plus tax. Little did they know or she that the ring was essentially magic. She could think of anything and it was created.

Maxine created a dialysis machine for her mother, which fundamentally changed both their lives. It healed her and freed up Maxine to do anything other than looking after her. She thought of a rocking horse and it was there. Force field? Snap!

She created a SCUBA suit and went to the bottom of the sea because she watched a documentary that stuck with her. Maxine saw it for herself. This ring changed her life! And it changed even more so when she was waiting in line of the bank and those three gunmen attacked, because she’d become a superhero.

Maxine checked her mom’s vitals before creating a rocket ship suit around herself. “Let’s go see if the JLA need a new recruit.”

Cbishop - Benny Fitz's Benefits [Starfist]

Benny Fitz's Benefits

The Gold Bar, New York City

Benjamin Fitzgerald, aka Benny Fitz, wasn't just an enforcer. He was Goldface's enforcer. Goldface gave him a name, and he went and took care of business, whether that was kicking their ass, or something a little more permanent. Enough times that he kept a shovel and a mattock in the trunk for when he needed it. Whatever the job, he loved to take the person's jewelry when he was done- especially rings, and especially if they fit his fingers. He called them "Benny Fitz's benefits," and he had a pretty decent collection piling up in an old chicken bucket on his kitchen counter.

Fitz had been with Goldface a number of years, and the only thing he was better at than being an enforcer was playing cards. So when that barfly, Kyle, dropped a gold ring into the pot in a last ditch effort to win his money back from Benny, he recognized it immediately. Guy Gardner had used it to toss him and the rest of the guys around once. It's not something he'd forget easily. "Rayner, where'd you get that? It's damn sure not yours."

Kyle almost looked scared. "Ah, crap. It's not yours, is it, Fitzy? I found it out in the alley earlier." A bit sheepishly, he added, "Too much to drink- I had to puke."

Benny laughed. "Nah, kid, it's not mine, but I know the guy it belonged to. Too bad for him. 'Finders keepers,' right? You can cover your bet with it if you want. Call."

"Alright!" exclaimed Kyle as he laid down his cards- two kings, and three jacks. "Full house! Ha, haaa!" he said excitedly, sure of his win.

Benny smirked, and laid down his cards slowly, one-at-a-time. "Let's see... I've got a queen, and one, two, three, oh! Look at that! Four deuces," he said smugly. "And 'losers weepers,' huh, kid?" He reached for the pot, and plucked the ring off the top. Putting it to the middle finger of his right hand, he said, "And lookit that- just my size! Benny Fitz's benefits, yeah?"

Kyle rubbed his hand across the back of his neck, and slumped back in his chair, looking a bit lost. "Yeah, Fitzy, lucky you."

Fitz took a couple of twenties out of the pot, and dropped them in front of Kyle. "Get yourself a cab home, Kyle. I think you've had enough tonight."

Rayner dropped a hand on top of the bills, and dragged them to the edge of the table as he stood up. Pocketing the money, he said, "Thanks, Fitzy. I'll see ya around," and he weaved away towards the bar to ask to use the phone.

Benny turned the ring around on his finger for a minute or so before asking aloud, "Now what am I going to do with you, little ring?"

"Ninety-five percent charge remaining. Awaiting commands," stated the ring.

Benny arched his eyebrows at that. Pursing his lips for a few seconds, he smiled quickly, then said, "Well, then. I think it's time I gave Goldface my notice."

The Gold Bar, New York City, Owner's Office, One Week Later

The "office" was most of the Gold Bar's second floor. It had a large desk at one end, a meeting table next the floor-to-ceiling windows on the industrial side of the building, and a private bar, and large, comfortable couches and chairs near the matching windows on the side of the building with the view of Central Park. There was a fireplace at the other end of the room, and above it, Goldface's helmet was mounted on a large trophy plaque- a neat hole in the back of it, right in line with the one in the faceplate.

Benny was seated on one of the couches, sipping champagne with a couple of ladies, and enjoying the view from his new office when a couple of his guys crashed through the double doors, breaking them down. A few seconds later, in walked a cape he'd never seen before. He was wearing a black-and-white costume with a gaudy, red and orange cape with yellow stars. His head and hands glowed, and he was rubbing a ring on his right hand. "I am Starfinger," the cape declared, "and you have something that I want."

"That so?" asked Benny, as his two companions ran for another door.

Rubbing his ring a little harder, two women appeared next to Starfinger. "Yes. The ring you wear. Starlight and Starbright here will relieve you of it."

Fitz scoffed. "That supposed to impress me? I can do that too," and with a wave of his hand, two yellow women appeared- mirror images of Starfinger's women. Only Benny's 'Starbright' held a shovel, while his 'Starlight' held a mattock. Faster than anyone could react, his constructs lashed out and knocked the real Starlight and Starbright out, making them disappear back to the ring on Starfinger's hand. "Starfinger, meet Starfist," Benny said mockingly.

Starfinger growled, and fired energy blasts at Benny. Without getting up from the couch, a yellow shield appeared around Fitz, and it simply absorbed the energy blasts. "Now at ninety percent charge," said the ring.

"Thanks for that," said Benny, "I've been losing charge all week." A big, yellow hand appeared from the ring, flipped his foe the bird, and then rammed the villain while staying in the form of the rude gesture.. "How's that for a star finger?" Benny said dryly.

Starfinger began crackling with energy, but Benny formed yellow spheres around his face and hands, and waited. Starfinger soon passed out from lack of oxygen. Leaving the spheres in place, Benny got up, walked over, formed a yellow shovel, and put it in Starfinger's neck. Letting all the constructs fade, Fitz looked at his attacker's body for a minute, then bent down, and took the ring off of his finger. "Starfist," he said to himself. "I like it." Placing it on the ring finger of his right hand, right next to his power ring, he rubbed it, summoning Starlight and Starbright. "Benny Fitz's benefits, yeah?" he said with a smile. "Ladies, would you like some champagne?"

Remember: Votes due by Sunday, March 22, 2020, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure).

I'm glad you're here. Thanks for reading, thanks for voting, and see you on the 22nd! In the meantime, Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. -cb :^D

14 Comments