Steampunk Stardust, Part 2


DateSteampunk StardustViewRead the...
03/28/17Part 2(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
T+Slavery.Part 1
"You gave him a yeti for this trinket?"

"You gave him a yeti for this trinket?" Will asked incredulously.

"He led me to believe it would let me fly," she said with an angry pout.

"Why did he want a yeti?" Will wondered aloud.

"How do I know?" the old woman barked, now closer to her original demeanor. "He wanted to go over the Ice Shelf, and you don't do that without a yeti. Now sir, if you're not buying anything today, I have work to do. Starting with notifying the Yeti Council that I have been bilked out of one of their brood," she said with aggravation as she turned back towards her wagon.

"Actually, do you have any more yeti?" Dunn inquired.

Half-turning back to him, Semele said sternly, "You'd do well not to waste my time, man. Yeti are expensive."

Dunn balked. "You traded one to Trigger for these wings!"

"Which I thought to be of great value!" she barked. "Do not taunt me, sir!"

"Perhaps Mister Dunn would have something of great value to trade for one of Madame's yeti," the cat girl asked with a purr.

"Don't interrupt when I'm talking business, Una!" Then, eyeing Dunn's wrist, Madame Semele said, "I'm partial to a good timepiece."

"It's attached, I'm afraid," he answered. "So's the helmet, before you ask."

"Bah," she grunted. "What do I want a helmet for anyway?"

"Madame?" Una said quietly.

"What, Una? What?!" the old lady barked impatiently.

"Is the ring of any value?" she asked, pointing to Will's left hand.

"Well?" demanded Semele. "Is it?"

Will thought for a moment, then held up his hand so Madame Semele could see it better. "It was," he answered. "It's called a 'power ring.' When charged, it can make anything you can think of. It also translates languages, and protects the wearer from harm. It's actually very low right now though, and I don't have the power battery with me. If you think you can trust me for it, I could trade you the ring for a yeti, and bring you the battery when I return."

"It can make anything?"

"It can make anything?" Semele asked hesitantly.

"Pick something," offered Will.

"Faerie folk!" she said with almost girlish hope.

Will held the ring up so she could see it glow, and ten little faeries appeared to leap from the center of it, fluttering around his hand for a few moments before darting towards Madame Semele. She flinched before realizing they were just flying around her head, and they were smiling. She grabbed for one, and it disappeared in a puff of green smoke. She looked to the others, and they all disappeared in like fashion.

"Where did they go?" she cried with disappointment in her voice, mixed only slightly with her customary anger.

"They're not real, Madame Semele," Will said with slight amusement. "They exist only as long as you will them to, and only as long as the ring has power. Do we have a deal?"

"Yes! Yes!" she shouted happily, snatching the ring from his hand almost before he could get it off of his finger. Then she darted into the wagon. A minute later, she came out with a yeti. It was four feet high, and it seemed a little pudgy to Will. It had a silver chain identical to Una's around its ankle leading back to the wagon.

"A pup?" he almost spat.

Madame Semele was taken aback. "What?" she said defensively. "Yeti pups are easier to control, easier to store, and as they're not fully grown, they have a longer shelf life for the dealer. A buyer is rare, you know." Then actually smiling, she said, "No one is going to believe I sold two in one day."

Will scowled, but bent down to the young yeti. "Can you show me your teeth?"

The yeti growled, opening its mouth wide as it did so. The growl sounded nothing like the roar of an attacking adult. It sounded like the strangled whine of imperiled tiger cubs.

"Mm-hm," Will hummed with satisfaction. "And your claws?"

The pup held out its hand, and the claws were a bluish-black hue against his white fur. Will took his hand and turned it over to examine the other side. He could feel strength in the yeti's grip, but merely that of a full-grown man; nowhere near what it would be when he was an adult yeti.

"And can I see your eyes?" he asked.

The yeti blew at the fur covering his eyes, but moved it only slightly. It gave a brief glimpse at the dark eyes hidden behind its bangs, but then they were covered again.


"Hold on a minute," said Semele. Turning towards her wagon once again, she called, "Edward!"

Will looked at her in surprise. "How many live in your wagon, Madame?"

Semele smiled with true humor, and simply said, "Well. It's bigger on the inside."

"Ah, I see," said Will, deciding from her undertone that it was best to pursue his curiosity no further.

"Edward!" she called again, and was immediately answered by the door to the wagon swinging open.

Out stepped a tall, lanky young man with pale, nearly albino skin, and disheveled black hair. He was dressed in black leather from neck to feet, and his hands had the strangest attachments Will had ever seen- all blades. Knives mostly, but he saw scissors there too. He also had a silver chain around his ankle, attaching him to the wagon.

"Remarkable," muttered Will.

"Edward, be a dear and trim the fur out of the yeti's eyes, will you?" Semele asked, almost sweetly. "I'll be right back," she added as she headed into her wagon.

Edward stepped forward, and examined the yeti's face for a few moments before his hands made a few swishing noises, and the yeti's eyes appeared, now exposed under nicely trimmed bangs. Will looked pleased, but still looked at Edward in astonishment. Edward noticed him looking, and stared back for a moment. Then he leaned forward suddenly to Will, and whispered strongly, "I don't belong here."

"I should say not," agreed Will. "So why don't you leave? Surely those hands of yours could make short work of that chain?"

Edward looked down at his ankle quite sadly, and stabbed one finger blade just under the chain, letting it glide over the back of the blade as he lifted it up for Will to see. With the scissors on his other hand, he snipped the chain in two. As it fell away, Dunn was amazed to see the chain pieces reattach themselves, looking as if they'd never been cut.

"Of course, I've tried," said Edward. Before he could say anything else, Madame Semele came back outside with some papers in her hand.

Next Issue: Part 3.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #58.

Steampunk Stardust, Part 1


DateSteampunk StardustViewRead the...
03/27/17Part 1(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
T+Slavery and surgical violence.

The Faerie Market, near Wall:

William Dunn had not thought of World War II in many years. A strange weapon detonated by the enemy opened a hole in space and time, and a few in him as well. He was thrown here by the blast. Well, not here exactly, as he was currently in the Faerie Market. He had actually been cast into the woods between the Faerie Market and the town of Wall.

...if he was that Doctor Frankenstein...
...if he was that Doctor Frankenstein...

He barely made his way to the Market then, and was put back together by a man he would be eternally grateful to, but also quite afraid of. William wasn't sure if he was that Doctor Frankenstein, but he certainly remembered scalpels, and wrenches, and needles, and hammers, and he was a little fuzzy on it, but he was pretty sure there was a blowtorch and a wand involved. Or perhaps it was just lightning through the doctor's skylights. Man or wizard, he had put Dunn back together again. More or less.

At any rate, William now had what amounted to a telescope for a right eye, but it sat on his face like a jeweler's glass. His right arm had wires and tubes running through it, and pistons that helped it bend. His entire hand on that arm had been replaced by a metal the likes of which he had never seen. It appeared to be brass, but he had yet to meet anything that could even dent it. This despite some of the fingers being hollow, and filled with various wonders. His favorite was actually the lighter in the tip of the thumb- the only thing the doctor had allowed him to suggest. There had been a few occasions to make use of it, but he mostly used it to light his pipe. His right knee and his left shoulder were the same metal as his hand, as was the big toe on his left foot. He wasn't sure that last bit was strictly necessary, but he sometimes used it as a blunt instrument while referring to it as his "hammer toe." Something else must have happened to his legs, because he could leap up to second floor balconies as if he were taking stairs two-at-a-time.

He was pretty sure Frankenstein must be different from the man known on his world, because bizarrely, he had also bonded Dunn's G.I. helmet to his head by means of a large screw at the top of his skull. He could remove the helmet in favor of a closer-fitting plate, but it was such a pain that he rarely bothered. He hardly noticed the discomfort anymore when he lay down to sleep, as he'd found ways to compensate for the helmet. The doctor had also bonded his watch to his left arm. It always kept flawless time, but he still had to wind it on occasion to keep his movements from becoming sluggish. Since his right hand was mechanical, it was annoyingly difficult to do, but he figured it beat looking at the underside of a hill for the rest of his afterlife.

The true marvel of everything that had been done to him was his heart. It was covered at the chest by more of that metal, and with some strange, glowing crimson stone inside, both supporting and partially-replacing his heart. He figured that had to be something more Faerie than Frankenstein, but he was just grateful he had it. More than one fool had tried to take it from him.

"Are you really authorized?"

He was looking for one of those fools now, as he was one of the enemies from his own world- one Herr Trigger. It was actually Auslöser, but he "translated it for the dumb Yanks." He had not only tried to steal the stone from Dunn's chest, he had actually stolen his pipe! That just wouldn't do. He figured Trigger would try to blend into the nearest crowd, and that was the Faerie Market. Will was looking for some kind of clue to his foe's trail, when he saw the Luftwaffe pin on the table of one of the Market stalls. It was a Gypsy wagon whose table was attended by a young girl who was preoccupied with a thin silver chain on her ankle. He might not have seen it if not for the sign hanging on the table. It read "YETI Authorized Dealer."

"Are you really authorized?" Will asked the girl at the table as he walked up.

It was when she looked up in surprise that he noticed her cat-like ears, and that the chain was not just jewelry. It actually ran from her ankle to a slat in the wagon's door. Surely it wasn't meant to hold her?

"I'm sorry?" the cat girl asked.

"Your sign says 'yeti authorized dealer.' Are you really authorized, or are you just selling the sign as a novelty?"

"The sign's real 'nuff," answered a voice from inside the wagon. As Will looked to the door, an old woman stepped out. She was overweight with a patina colored, spiky attachment covering half her face. One of the spikes curved into her left eye socket, clearly filling empty space. A like-colored attachment ran the length of her right arm, giving sparse covering to the upper arm, but completely sheathing the forearm and hand. It had a red stone in the center of the back of the hand. "So's my dealership," she said in answer to his challenge. "Are you looking for a yeti?"

Will scowled slightly, but nodded to the table. "Actually, I'm looking for the man that sold you those wings," he said pointing at the Luftwaffe pin.

"Really?" the woman said in surprise. "I only traded for them because I'd never seen their like before. He said they allowed him to fly, but I haven't had the chance to try them yet."

Dunn shook his head and chuckled. "I'm afraid they'll only work for him, Miss...?"

Sounding much more pleasant, the old woman said, "Madame Semele," as she proffered her left hand. "And how do you know what the wings can do, Mister...?"

"William Dunn," he answered, "and I know because Herr Trigger and I are from the same place. Or thereabouts. The wings grant him access to a flying machine. They don't actually give him any sort of ability."

"...they're just sort of... plane, really."

Madame Semele's eyes lit up as she said, "A machine that flies? Marvelous!"

"I suppose it is," said Dunn. Playing to her wonderment and his own amusement, he said, "Where we come from, they're just sort of... plane, really."

"Plain?" she exclaimed. "I must see such a place where flying machines are plain!"

Dunn smiled genuinely. "It's not as remarkable as it sounds, Madame. Truly. Tell me though- you said the man traded these wings to you? For what?"

"Funnily enough, for a yeti!" she said with a laugh.

Next Issue: Part 2.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #58.

The Color Guard #3: A Family Affair, Part 3

DateThe Color Guard #3ViewRead the...
01/27/17A Family Affair, Part 3(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
TMurder and death discussed.A Family Affair, Part 2
Try to Keep It Straight:

Two challenges as you read:

  1. Keep it straight which Color Guard members have which parents, and how they're all related.
  2. If Super-American is at nine o'clock, figure out the seating arrangement for the game.

Why? Why not? It's just a fun thing to do. The answers will be at the end of this chapter. -cb

"Well, it took me awhile to find out," Blue Lady confessed. "I'm adopted, and they wouldn't tell me. I finally got mad and threatened someone with a little electroshock therapy--" She stopped when Super-American looked at her disapprovingly. She hunched in her chair a little, and said, "I'm not proud of it." Then straightening back up, she very quickly added, "But it did work! They told me who my mom was, and I knew she was Green Sorceress' sister! So I tracked down Golden Arrow, and--"

"--Green Sorceress," said Super-American, looking just as shocked as Purple Tigress had. "Blue Bolt was your mother?" he asked, his hand shaking as he set down his beer.

"Dad? Are you okay?" asked Amazing Man.

Not answering, he asked Blue Lady, "Who was your father?"

"I... I don't know," she answered. "My adoptive parents didn't know, and neither did the orphanage." Pointing right, she continued, "I was about to say- I tracked down Golden Arrow to see if he would know, but he said his mom didn't like to talk about her sister."

"Yes, they were a bit estranged, I'm afraid," Super-American said weakly.

Blue Lady looked at him oddly, and nodding hesitantly, she finished, "I never did find out."

Super-American sat in stunned silence. Then very quietly, he said, "A 'family affair,' indeed."

"Dad?" asked Amazing Man.

He turned to his son with wide, haunted eyes.

"Dad? What's wrong?"

"Your mother," he started. "She died when you were born."

Amazing Man started to look deeply concerned. "Yeah, dad, I know," he said gently. "You've shown me pictures, but you never really talked about her."

"Grief," his father said simply. Turning to Blue Lady, Super-American said, "Would you take off your mask, please?"

The room was very quiet. Blue Lady didn't know what to say. After a few long moments, she reached up with both hands, and slowly removed her mask.

The old man gasped, as did his son. Amazing Man said, "Oh my God. Dad...the pictures--"

Super-American put one hand on his son's arm. "You... you look so much like her," he said to Blue Lady, putting his other hand up to his mouth, trembling. "They--" his voice broke with a sob. "They told me you died with her."

"What are you saying?" she said angrily.

"Dad, what are you saying?" Amazing Man asked, not quite able to accept the implication.

Turning back to his son, hand still over his mouth, he lowered it slowly and said, "You didn't know her, but Blue Bolt was your mother. You had a twin sister that didn't..." Looking back at Blue Lady, he corrected himself, "that they said didn't make it." The group was stunned once again. "My dear girl..." he reached a shaking hand across the table, and haltingly, she reached out and took it. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know."

She half-smiled, still not knowing exactly how to react.

Going from shock to anger, Super-American added, "I don't know why they told me you had died, but I will find out. That I promise you."

"We'll find out," added Amazing Man, just as somberly. When Blue Lady looked to him, the full realization finally hit him, and his face changed as he shouted, "Holy crud! I have a sister!" He turned to mist and flowed across the table, solidifying between her and Golden Girl, and giving Blue Lady a hug. She was shocked for a moment, but then hugged him back.

"We're going to need more beers," said Silver Streak, and before anyone could answer, he was back handing them out. Popping the top on everyone's beers at super speed, he raised his bottle, and said, "A toast! To family!"

"To family!" shouted the group, raising their bottles, and clinking them all around. Then they all sat down and threw their cards in.

White Panther passed the deck to Red Rocket, who started dealing and said, "Well, it seems we all need to get to know each other even better. So Super-American, what about that long story of why you never joined The RBC?"

"Ah," said Super-American. He took a long pull on his beer, set it down, turned it in his fingers a few times, and then said, "That's been a closely guarded secret." The group waited silently, and he finally sighed. "Well, the truth is I couldn't join The RBC, because it might have messed up history too badly. Once I met and saved Blue Bolt? And then fell in love with her? There was no way I could join."

"But it would have messed up history too badly before you met her?" asked Purple Tigress, her feline irises shining as she tilted her head.

"Yes," said Super-American, taking a deep breath. "My history. You see, Golden Knight and Silver Knight are my great-great-great grandfather and grandmother, several times removed."

The group gasped.

"That..." started Golden Girl. "That means..." she shook her head in disbelief.

"Yes," said Super-American. "My family line comes through you. You're my ancestor as well."

"Oh-ho, wowww!" shouted White Panther, throwing his cards on the table. Laughing he said, "Just... wow!"

Pointing to Amazing Man, Super-American said, "And his. And hers," he said pointing at Blue Lady. "None of us could even exist without you."

"And you saved Blue Bolt," said Golden Girl, "which saved Purple Plague, which kept Golden Knight from going to jail, which allowed me and Tigress to be born..." she shook her head with the implications.

Realizing where it was going, Golden Arrow laughed and said, "Which means they couldn't exist without you!"

"WOW!" shouted White Panther.

Golden Girl looked at Super-American, clearly reeling from this information, and although her mouth moved trying to form words, she found herself speechless. He nodded at her, answering her unvoiced question. She shook her head slowly, backing up in her chair a little, and then she fainted.

"Golden Girl!" shouted Golden Lad, catching her before she fell over. Setting her up in the chair and patting her face lightly, he said, "Golden Girl! Golden Girl!" Then realizing something, he looked at Super-American, and asked, "Wait-a-minute. Does that mean...? Am I...?"

Super-American winced and nodded. "Great-great-great--"

Golden Lad passed out.

"WOW!" shouted White Panther.

Red Rocket fell back in his chair and stretched his arms up with a cheer of "Woooo! Best. Poker night. Ever!" and laughed with the rest of the team.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #49.

The Color Guard #2: A Family Affair, Part 2

DateThe Color Guard #2ViewRead the...
01/27/17A Family Affair, Part 2(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
TMurder and death discussed.A Family Affair, Part 1
Try to Keep It Straight:

Two challenges as you read:

  1. Keep it straight which Color Guard members have which parents, and how they're all related.
  2. If Super-American is at nine o'clock, figure out the seating arrangement for the game.

Why? Why not? It's just a fun thing to do. The answers will be at the end of the last chapter. -cb

It was Amazing Man's turn to blush. "Oh, that was the press' doing. When I first fought alongside the group, a reporter dubbed me The Green Ghost after seeing me turn to green mist. Before I knew it, the team voted and invited me to join. I straightened 'em out on the name, but it took the press a bit to let it go."

"Okay," said Super-American. "And you two are dating, I take it?"

Amazing Man smiled sheepishly, and protested, "Daaad."

Purple Tigress laughed, "Yes sir, we are. I hope you don't mind."

"On the contrary," he said. "I approve wholeheartedly! This one needs someone to keep him in line," he said, elbowing his son lightly. The team laughed again.

"How come you never joined The RBC?" asked Purple Tigress.

Super-American smiled. "Long story. Mostly because there was no color in my name." The team laughed. "So then, I know you're The Woman in Red," he said pointing a few seats to his right, "And you're Red Rocket. Related?"

"Brother and sister," confirmed The Woman in Red. "Our parents were Red Torpedo and Scarlet Phantom."

"Keeping the family to one color theme," snickered Red Rocket.

"Yes," Super-American chuckled. "That's quite a car you drive by the way. Got the old man's penchant for tinkering, I see? Your father and Golden Knight built El Dorado, y'know."

"With a little help from my mom," added Silver Streak.

"Our mom," said Golden Girl.

American laughed with disbelief. "Now wait-a-minute. You're all sister and brothers?" he asked, pointing at Golden Girl, Golden Arrow and Silver Streak.

Golden Arrow was sipping on his beer when asked. He stopped, and pointing the bottle towards Silver Streak, he said, "Oh, no- we're not related at all." Super-American looked confused. "Golden Girl and I are only half-brother and sister. My father was Golden Archer--"

"--Who became Golden Knight later. Right," said Super-American.

"My mom was Green Sorceress," finished Arrow. "I was 'Bronze Man' so as to not get confused with Golden Girl and Golden Lad, but then 'Bronze Terror' came on the scene and killed mom. I didn't want the name association, or the reminder, so... 'Golden Arrow,' after dad."

Super-American looked a bit sad at that. "I was truly sorry to hear about her death. You have my condolences, young man."

Arrow nodded, and took another pull on his beer.

"And my mom was Silver Knight," said Silver Streak, "but from when she was the villain Madame Strange."

"When she got together with my dad, she became a good guy, and they changed their names to Golden Knight and Silver Knight," added Golden Girl.

Looking at Silver Streak to his right, Super-American said thoughtfully, "Your father... Madame Strange was married. So was he--"

"--Doc Strange. Yes sir, both were villains. Dad went to jail when I was a preteen, and mom wouldn't allow me to see him. I lost track of him after that. I grew up angry, and eventually became estranged from mom and my half-sister there. Similar to Tigress, I was pissed that mom moved on to a team of heroes, and came gunning for Golden Girl. The team beat me, and she welcomed me back with open arms." He looked at the table. "I just broke. Family was all I wanted, so when they offered for me to join, I accepted immediately."

"So you two must be glad to have him around as well," Super-American said to Red Rocket and his sister.

"How do you mean?" asked The Woman in Red.

He was slightly taken aback. "Oh. You've never made the connection?" The group looked confused. "My dear, 'Doc' Strange is Tom Strange."

Woman in Red still looked confused, but said, "Well, 'Tom' is our dad's name, but--"

"--Our last name is Redd," finished her brother.

The old man raised his eyebrows. "Well, he changed his name, but I assure you: Doc Strange became a hero too, because he was Red Torpedo."

The Woman in Red fell back in her seat, exchanging shocked looks with Silver Streak and Red Rocket.

Super-American continued, "He and Golden Knight fought bitterly the last time Doc Strange got out of jail. He created the Red Torpedo identity so as not to violate his parole. He just wanted to see his son. When your mom realized what was happening," he said to Silver Streak, "she stopped them from fighting, and convinced Knight to keep the secret. So they told the press that the fight was a test for their newest recruit, and they introduced Red Torpedo to the world. He met Scarlet Phantom when she joined the team, and yes, they clicked at first because of their matching color schemes." He shrugged. "The rest is history."

"Holy cow," said a young man laying a gun in the middle of the table. "You guys are closer knit than you thought."

"And you are?" asked Super-American.

"Oh, Gunmaster," he said, reaching across the table to shake the hero's hand. "Woman in Red's boyfriend," he added, pointing left. "Not a member- just associate."

"You're going to have to become Blademaster if you keep betting your weapons, young man," scolded American.

Gunmaster winced. "Yeah... I was hoping we were just betting for fun?"

Half the group rolled their eyes and handed him back his weapons. He looked to The Woman in Red, and she said, "Oh, I'm not giving you back anything." Gunmaster's mouth fell open. "I won 'em fair and square. I got invisibility from my mom, but guns are my thing too. I like these," she said firmly. The group was quiet. Then she smirked, and with a wink she said, "But we might be able to work something out." The group chuckled, then laughed as Gunmaster's face lit up.

Super-American looked across the table, and said, "Well, that leaves you, young lady. I know it's 'Blue' something, because most of your costume is that color, but I apologize- I've forgotten the rest. Begins with an 'L' I think."

The girl held her thumb and forefinger apart a few inches beside her, arched her eyebrow, and let blue electricity jump between them as a reminder.

At the display of her powers, a soft smile momentarily crossed Super-American's face. "'Bluuuue... Lightning?" he asked hopefully.

"It's 'Blue Lady,' actually," she said with a smile.

"And who are your parents?" he asked, taking a pull on his own beer.

Next Issue: A Family Affair, Part 3.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #49.

The Color Guard #1: A Family Affair, Part 1

DateThe Color Guard #1ViewRead the...
01/27/17A Family Affair, Part 1(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
TMurder and death discussed.
Try to Keep It Straight:

Two challenges as you read:

  1. Keep it straight which Color Guard members have which parents, and how they're all related.
  2. If Super-American is at nine o'clock, figure out the seating arrangement for the game.

Why? Why not? It's just a fun thing to do. The answers will be at the end of the last chapter. -cb

El Dorado- home of The Color Guard

Silver Streak whooshed into a kitchen and back, distributing beers to the twelve players around the table, and popping the top off of one for himself as he sat down.

"It's really a great honor to have you for our poker night, sir," said a blushing Golden Girl.

To her left, Golden Lad nodded in agreement. "Yeah, you've got to be the greatest hero of World War Two!" he declared with a slight British accent.

"Oh, I didn't do that much for the war. Really," insisted the aging superhero.

"Are you kidding me?" balked Golden Arrow. "The Allies might have lost if it weren't for Super-American, sir!"

Super-American smiled slightly, taking off his winged helmet, and revealing a full head of white hair. "No, son, that's not true at all," he said as he pulled slightly on one of the cards in his hands, then pushed it back into row with the others. "The Allies' win was ancient knowledge to us. The only reason I came from the future was to inspire them to do what they were meant to. I merely gave hope at a bleak time. To be truthful, I tried to make my contributions as minimal as possible so as not to alter history. Sure, I threw a Panzer or downed a Zero here and there, but nothing the historical records didn't note as defeated anyway. I'm just glad to have helped."

"How much did you alter history when you helped make him," purred the violet-haired woman with the cat-like eyes as she nudged Amazing Man.

"Tigress!" blustered Amazing Man as he traded two cards to White Panther, who was the dealer.

"Ha!" laughed Super-American. Pointing a thumb to his left, he said, "Actually, I'm afraid my boy here is the reason I can't go back to the future. Saving his mother changed quite a bit as it turned out. The Purple Plague didn't kill her, so the Golden Knight didn't kill him. So Golden Knight didn't go to--"

The hero's story was interrupted by loud gasps from Tigress and Golden Girl, and Golden Arrow choking on his beer. The others at the table stared in stunned silence. Finally, a horrified Tigress exchanged glances with Amazing Man, trying to get words out, but failing. Then she stared at his father for long moments before saying, "Did... did you say 'The Purple Plague,' sir?" She was almost crying as she said it.

"Well...yes," said American, a look of concern on his face as he put his cards face down on the table. "Whatever's the matter, young lady?"

Her lip quivered slightly, but with her voice shaking, she managed, "The P-Purple Pl-Plague is m-my f-father."

"Your father was a villain?" asked Super-American in surprise.

"Dad!" barked Amazing Man.

Tears welling up in her eyes, begging for it not to be so, she pleaded, "H-he killed your wife?" Turning to Amazing Man, she was nearly frantic. "Your mother?!"

"And Golden Knight killed her father?" asked Golden Girl. "My father did that?"

"Our father," corrected Golden Arrow.

"So you two are siblings," said Super-American with a nod. "And you, Golden Lad? Another brother?"

"Oh, no sir, I'm the boyfriend," he said, his British accent becoming more pronounced. "I got my powers from Golden Girl when she saved me from The Green Dragon, back when he fought The Black Dragon over London. I helped in the fight, and we've been together ever since." He smiled at Golden Girl, but it faded quickly when he saw the concern still on her face.

"I see," said Super-American. "So The Color Guard is a family affair then?"

"With the emphasis on 'affair,' I'm afraid," said a raven-haired looker.

"Sis, come on," said White Panther.

Super-American laughed. "And 'sis,' is it? Whose children are you?"

White Panther smiled with embarrassment as he looked at his cards, then folded his hand. "Most of our parents were members of The Rainbow Bridge Club back in the day. We're son and daughter of White Indian and The Black Cat, who also used to be a villain. When she got together with dad, she changed sides and names, becoming Black Angel."

Super-American nodded. "I knew them well. Good people."

"I took my mom's name of 'Black Cat' when I first joined The Color Guard," said the sister.

"Which got my attention, because Black Cat was my mom, from when she was still a villain."

"Ah," said the older hero, "that explains 'Tigress' then."

"It's Purple Tigress actually," she said respectfully. "He never became a hero, but he was still my dad."

"My dear, that seems truly hard to believe," he said with a warming smile. "I knew your father too- he was a terror to fight."

"You would've believed it when she came at us guns blazing," said White Panther, making Tigress wince. Looking to his right, he winked at her. "She came in all, 'Who are you to have my mother's name,' and bam! Pow! We had a fight on our hands!" he laughed.

"I was out for blood," confessed Tigress. Pointing at her half-sister, she said, "until she took off her mask." Faltering a bit, she said, "She looks so much like mom."

"She told me so too- said I was beautiful- which is how I got my new name," she said with a soft smile. "If 'Black Cat' was going to cause her pain, I didn't want that, so I took a name inspired by my new sister- 'Black Beauty.' That's been my name ever since, and we invited her to be on the team. That's how the daughter of two supervillains got to be on the team."

"Well, I didn't accept right away," said Tigress bashfully.

Nudging Red Rocket and laughing, Golden Arrow said, "Yeah. She came at us a few more times before coming around. Took Amazing Man joining us to change her mind. She had a bit of a crush as it turned out." The group laughed good-naturedly.

"I've been meaning to ask how that happened," Super-American said to his son. "You don't have a color in your name." He smirked, then winked with a chuckle.

Next Issue: A Family Affair, Part 2.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #49.

New Teen Titans: Always Running


DateNew Teen TitansViewRead the...
01/22/17Always Running(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
EAppropriate for everyone.

Blue Valley:

No Caption Provided

So I wrote a letter to mom and dad, and then decided to deliver it myself. Had dinner with them, changed clothes in my room, grabbed a backpack, and zipped downstairs again.

"Wally West!" scolds my mother. "What did I say about super speed in the house?"

I catch the pictures that flew off the wall in my wake, and say, "Sorry, mom," as I quickly rehang them. I kiss her on the cheek, she swats my shoulder, and I head for the front door.

"Aren't you staying for game night?" she calls after me, sounding disappointed.

A bit guiltily, I wince and say, "Can't, mom. Gotta run." As the door closes behind me, I hit superspeed, and I'm passing the "Now Leaving Blue Valley" sign before it clicks closed.

Back at the house, mom probably sighs and says, "That boy. He's always running."


No Caption Provided

Guys like Zsasz hardly make the double flip from the lamp post worth it, but he's basically a big bully, and I really kind of dig hearing a bully go oomph.

"OOMPH!"says the killer as my heel connects with his jaw. He goes down hard on the sidewalk as I roll to a stand. He's on his back for several seconds before rolling unsteadily to his side, propping himself up on his elbow, and spitting out a mouthful of blood along with a tooth. When he sees the tooth, he starts, "You mother-- OOMPH!" but is interrupted by an escrima stick to his solar plexus, and the other to his jaw again, knocking him cold.

"Yippee-ki-yay," I say to his unconscious form as I ziptie his hands and feet. Pressing a button over my ear, I say, "Oracle, can you arrange pickup for Zsasz at these coordinates? Let the police know the bomb is deactivated and there should be a couple of very willing witnesses against him tied nearby."

"You didn't untie the hostages?!" exclaims Oracle.

"No time! Got another appointment! You know me..."

"Yeah," says Oracle lightly, "I know you: always running."

"That's the life!" I say with a smile. "Nightwing out."

Manhattan Penthouse of Donna Troy and Kory Anders:

No Caption Provided

"Kory! Come on! We have to go!" calls Donna.

"I'm coming, Donna!" I call back as I skip barefooted down the stairs. Padded carpet is an Earth wonder. "Have you seen my shoes?"

Donna laughs. "You can see over three miles away, but you can lose something in this apartment?" She has a beautiful smile. "Did you look behind the couch?"

"Oh! There they are," and I grab them and slip them on as I hop for the door. "What's the hurry, anyway?"

"Last one there has to cook, and I'm not letting the guys do that to me again!" she grins, waving me frantically for the door.

"Well then we'd better hurry!" I say as I lock the door, and scoop her under one arm. I take off through the foyer skylight, and we're headed towards the island.

"We know we're not beating Kid Flash there! We have to hurry!" laughs Donna as she twists out of my arm and takes to the air herself.

"Always in such a hurry," I say calmly. "Why are humans always running?"

Mansion of Steve Dayton:

No Caption Provided

"Jeeves! Jeeves! Jeeves! How many times do I have to tell you only four grape tomatoes on the salad?" I exclaim in mock outrage.

"How many times must I tell you that my name is not 'Jeeves,' sir?" asks Vernon Questor peevishly. "Or that I am not your butler? I am Mister Dayton's business manager!"

"Don't get your bow tie in a twist, Jeeves!" I say as I turn into a spider monkey and jump on his chest, straightening his already impeccable tie. "I'm just funnin' with ya."

The doorbell chimes like a grandfather clock, and Questor says, "I believe that would be Miss Jillian, Garfield. Where shall I tell Mister Dayton that you have gone this time?"

I swing the door open, turn into a gorilla, swing Jillian lightly into the air, and turn into a horse just in time for her to land on my back. "Aw, you know, Jeeves- don't bother. Steve knows me- always running somewhere."

"Hi, Mister Questor! Bye, Mister Questor!" Jillian laughs from my back.

As I step out into the sunlight, I turn into a giraffe, and Jillian grabs around my neck, surprised by the sudden elevation. "Urk! Not so tight!" I gurgle. She lets up, and I gallop away.

"Hey, Salad Head," says Jillian, "I don't cook, and I've tasted your so called food! Let's get a move on it!"

Turning into a giant eagle, I laugh and say, "What the lady wants, she gets!"

"OOOOP!" she calls out in surprise, and I angle towards the island.

Titans Tower:

No Caption Provided

I've been sitting cross legged for hours, meditating and summoning strength from great Azar to hold back the encroachment of Trigon on my soul. I may have to call on my friends for their help again soon, or I may have to run from my father's onslaught once again. I don't want to do that. It feels like I am always running from him, and I grow tired of it.

I allow my soul self to lift away from me, and it passes through walls and ceilings, circling the top of the Tower, and then through the common areas before sweeping towards the dock. They are all here or quickly approaching. It is almost time. My soul self swings back towards my room, and settles over me once again. I open my eyes, stand, retrieve my cloak, and teleport through dimensions to get to the rec room.

Rec Room:

No Caption Provided

"Witch!" calls Victor jovially. "We've really got to teach you to use the elevators!"

"I am sorry, Victor. I did not wish to be late."

"Ahh, but you are late!" teases Garfield, as he turns into a green crow and lands on my shoulder. "You live here. You teleport. And you still managed to be the last one to the rec room." He flaps his wings once, turns into a chimpanzee, flips in mid air, lands on his feet, shrugs, winks at me, and then turns into a rabbit before hopping into the arms of his friend, Jillian.

"You know what that means," says Dick, wagging a finger at me.

"No. I cannot," I protest.

No Caption Provided

"Ohhh, no!" says Donna. "Fair's fair, Raven! Last one here cooks; that's the deal!"

"I could cook one of my native dishes," says Kory. "I am sure you would all like--"

"NO!" the group shouts in unison. Kory zaps small starbolts towards our friends playfully in retort, and they scatter behind the furniture, laughing.

I smile. "Well, I thought that my meditation might make me late, so I took the liberty of being prepared," I say as I walk towards the kitchen.

"Wait a minute," says Victor. "You actually cooked?"

The lobby buzzer sounds over the intercom as I reach the refrigerator, and as I open it, I smile slyly back to my friends. "No, I made lemonade, tea, and espressos. I ordered dinner- pizza, Chinese, and subs. The pizza delivery man is also bringing sodas."

"Alllriiiight!" cheers Gar as he runs for the elevator, green fox tail swishing behind him. Jillian runs after him to help get the food.

Richard looks at me and raises an eyebrow. "You rigged the race by showing up last?" he asked. "And you don't even cook?" he laughs.

I set the various pitchers out on the counter, and smile back at him and the rest of my friends. "We are always running, Richard, and this race is in fun. This is a time for us to relax. I don't get to treat very often, so allow me this indulgence."

"Speaking of 'running,' the winner gets to pick the movies. And that was...?" asks Donna.

"Who else?" says Wallace, hefting his backpack.

"Ohhh!" groan Victor and Richard.

"Not again!" says Kory.

"To the victor goes the spoils," Wallace says with a grin.

"Then that should mean I get to pick the movie!" says Victor, pointing a metal thumb at his chest.

"Ha!" shouts Richard. "I'm supposed to spout the one-liners!"

No Caption Provided

"Or me!" calls Changeling, as he slides in on giant octopus legs, seven holding the food, and one coiled around Jillian, holding her aloft.

"If you don't put me down, I'm gonna kill you, Green Genes!" she says while laughing.

"Hope you guys like fast planes!" calls Wallace as he zips over to the VHS player.

"Top Gun again?" groans Donna.

"You know you love Tom Cruise!" Wallace says good naturedly.

"Do not!" protests Donna.

"You have a poster of him on your bedroom wall," Kory says innocently.

The group laughs. I sit back with an espresso and smile. We are always running, but not today. Today is just a time for friends.

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: SBS #7.

The Origin of Tommy Tomorrow #2


DateThe Origin of Tommy Tomorrow #2ViewRead the...
01/22/17Tommy and the Legion of Super-Heroes(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
TSpace violence.Major Tom

The Scarabs were whizzing by like enormous bullets, but most had steered clear of the path of the rocket, due to its former protection. The newcomers from around the moon registered no such protection, and were headed right for it.

"It's just gone. And Major Tom with it."

Captain Atom lanced out desperately with his energy powers, quickly reforming a shield ahead of the rocket, detonating a good number of the Scarabs in the process. The explosions were thunderous, and the strain of their impacts on the shield was hard on the hero. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes as he concentrated through the strain of maintaining the shield. The Scarabs again adjusted their flight around the protective cone.

The strain lifted off of him, and Captain Atom opened his eyes in relief. That is until he saw that, "The ship! It's gone!" he reported in disbelief.

"WHAT?" shouted General Lane through the comm. "Are you telling me those things destroyed our project?"

"What about Major Tom?" came the voice of Cyborg.

"No. No, it's not destroyed," Captain Atom said as he recovered himself. "It's just gone. And Major Tom with it."

Air Base:

"Where in blazes is my ship?"

General Lane slammed his fist on one of the consoles. "Bloody hell!" he shouted. "Where the blazes is my ship?" he demanded.

"Your ship?" balked Cyborg. "This is a joint project, Lane. Don't forget."

Before Lane could explode in anger, Kalmaku spoke up, "Victor, can you confirm these sensor readings? I'm showing a high level of tachyon particles around the Major's last known position."

Stone was quiet for a few moments, but then answered, "Confirmed. Those levels are off the charts."

"Will somebody tell me what the deuce you're talking about?" shouted Lane.

"Tachyon particles are a main component in chronal radiation," answered Kalmaku.

"And what does that mean?" Lane said with impatience.

"Are you saying he actually went to--?"

Captain Atom's voice crackled over the comm, blasts and explosions heard in the background. "It means my blast sent Major Tom and the ship into the timestream, General Lane. It tends to happen when I expend great amounts of energy at once; especially if I'm doing it quickly, as I was in this battle." More blasts and explosions were heard, and then the Captain was too busy to communicate further.

"We'll talk about your lack of control later, Captain," the general promised angrily. Turning to the room, he said, "If that ship was thrown into the timestream, then when did it go to?"

"Based on past displays of Captain Atom's chronal displacement powers," answered Cyborg, "Major Tom probably went forward in time."

General Lane was astonished. "Are you saying he actually went to--?"

"Yes," answered Kalmaku. "He most likely went to..."

"...The Future."

It took me a few minutes to get my bearings, but the relief from G-forces was welcomed. When the klaxons started going off, all I saw out the ship's window was a wave of what looked like some kind of metallic meteors, and then nothing except what must have been Captain Atom's energy, shielding the ship. I heard a bunch of explosions, then saw space again with more of those meteors headed at me. Then the Captain's energy again, and then the ship plowed into the shield, and then...I was here, wherever that is.

...I'm with the Legion.
...I'm with the Legion.

You're in United Planets space, near Earth orbit, came a soothing female voice, seemingly from inside my own head. I am inside your head, Major, via telepathy. My name is Saturn Girl, and I'm with the Legion.

What Legion? I thought. I wasn't expecting an answer, but I got one.

The Legion of Super-Heroes, she said with some bewilderment. I felt a slight throb in my head, and then heard, You're not from around here, are you, Major?

I suspect not, I said, still not sure of what a United Planets was. Just then, a girl came through the hull of the ship like a ghost. She was followed by another girl with green skin who was dressed very much like the Martian Manhunter. They said something unintelligible that sounded like no language I'd ever heard before. Then a light of realization came into the green girl's eyes, and I heard another voice in my head.

I'm Miss Martian.
I'm Miss Martian.

I'm Miss Martian, the green girl thought as she put a hand to her chest. This is Phantom Girl, she thought, waving her hand to her companion. Take my ring. It will translate for you. With that, she handed me a gold ring with an "L" on the face of it. I put it on, and then I heard her voice normally, "There, is that better?"

"Much," I answered. "Please, you look somewhat like the Martian Manhunter--"

"The Martian Manhun... you knew J'onn J'onzz?" the green girl said incredulously. "He hasn't been seen for a thousand years!"

"A thous...wait. Was it...Saturn Girl? She said I was in 'United Planets space,' but also that I was in 'near Earth orbit.' Can you please tell me: what year is this?" I asked with some trepidation.

"...Tommy Tomorrow, welcome to the Legion!"

"The year? 3016," answered Phantom Girl. "You're really not from around here, are you?"

With some amount of shock, I answered, "No. No, I'm not."

Emergency time protocol, Miss Martian! came the thought-voice of Saturn Girl. He's from the past! Get out of his head now, before we learn something we shouldn't! Use the rings' translators from here on out!

"Acknowledged," Miss Martian said aloud. "Major, we have to call you something. What's your name?" she asked.

"It's Tom," I said softly. "Tommy Tom--" I stopped short, thinking of Saturn Girl's warning. What would knowing my identity do to this era? I thought quickly, and finished, "...morrow. Tommy Tomorrow will do just fine."

"Well," said Phantom Girl, "until we can figure out how to get you back to the past, Tommy Tomorrow, welcome to the Legion!"

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: SBS #6.

The Origin of Tommy Tomorrow #1


DateThe Origin of Tommy Tomorrow #1ViewRead the...
01/22/17Major Tom(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
TLots of yelling. Space violence.
"Relax, Major Tom," answers Control.

Secret Air Base, somewhere in the United States:

My name is Tommy Tompkins. It's been a long, strange road from newsie sidekick of The Guardian, to scientist for Project Cadmus, to astronaut for a joint S.T.A.R. Labs/ Ferris Aircraft/ U.S. Air Force venture, but here I sit, strapped into a rocket, waiting on the countdown. Truthfully, I'm not so sure about this newest path. "Send me up a drink," I joke into the mic, hoping I don't sound as nervous as I feel.

"Relax, Major Tom," answers Control. It's Tom Kalmaku- one of the Ferris crew for the project. "Your heart rate is spiking a bit."

Major Tom, I think to myself; a nickname the Control crew has given me because "Tom" is in both my first and last names, and to differentiate me from Kalmaku. They call him Pieface just to make it even easier; it has something to do with a self-deprecating Halloween costume he wore last year. This position automatically came with rank, and I was shuffled into the Air Force through a mountain of paperwork and the string pulling of the higher ups who have put their heads together for this project. I'm not even sure that's legal, but again, here I sit.

"Major?" comes another voice over the comm. "This is Captain Atom. I'll be trailing the rocket's flight path just after launch. If anything looks like it might go wrong, I'll do everything in my power to stop it. Keep 'em flying, sir!" I outrank Captain freaking Atom? I outrank Captain freaking Atom?

I smile to the camera they have trained on my face. "Thanks, Captain! Much appreciated!" Captain Atom? How the heck do I outrank Captain freaking Atom? The sooner this mission is over with, the better.

A computerized voice comes over both the comm and the ship's P.A. system. It sounds female. "Final checks before launch complete. Final securing of all hatches complete. Final checks on human components complete."

Did it just call me "human components?" I think. Nice. For the next few minutes, I'm checking instrument panels, I'm lost in my own thoughts about the success or failure of the mission, and my heart is beating so wildly with excitement that I don't hear anything except the blood pounding in my ears. That is until...

"...Five, four, three, two, one, launch."

The engines rumble, and I hear Kalmaku again (I don't like the nickname, no matter how jovially he takes it). "We have liftoff! Godspeed, Major Tom."

I'm already feeling the G-forces of liftoff, so I don't respond. The medical monitors will show them that I'm okay. The G-forces build, and I'm at the stage of panting like a dog, and then the klaxon starts going off.

Space- a ship just behind Earth's moon:

"Is everything ready?" asks a man standing on the bridge of the ship.

"Yes, Commander. The ships are prepared for launch," answers one of the crew.

"Proceed," orders the Commander.

"It's time for this pathetic planet to learn that nothing is beyond The Reach."

The crewman waves his finger over a single holographic button, and the sound of bulkheads receding can instantly be heard all over the ship. Silently, gleaming, bug-like vessels dart out into the void, arcing around the moon, then twisting downwards towards Earth.

The Commander is pleased. "Prepare for the data influx, and await the return..."

"Commander!" shouts a female crew member. "Probes show a ship coming up from the surface!"

"Visual?" asks the Commander curiously.

She waves her hand at the holographic displays in front of her, and a picture hums to life in front of the Commander. He scoffs. "That ship shows promise, but it will barely break orbit. It will be no challenge for our Scarab Sliders. Order them to plow through it if they have to."

"Aye, Commander," answers the crew woman, and she sends the message out.

The Commander breathes deeply, satisfied of their impending victory. Calmly, he says, "It's time for this pathetic planet to learn that nothing is beyond The Reach."

Air Base

"What in Sam Hill is that?" shouts General Lane.

"Whatever it is, I'm sure you'll call it a good excuse for Project 7734 to exist!" sneers Cyborg.

"You stay quiet over there, machine man!" barks Lane. "You're only here as a courtesy to S.T.A.R."

"And because no one else can track that rocket's internal progress the way I can," Victor Stone shot back.

"I don't work for you general, so you can kiss my metal butt..."

"You'll watch your tone with me, mister!" growls Lane.

Cybernetic fingers tapped into one of the panels, Cyborg glares over his shoulder with his human eye, and says, "I don't work for you, general, so you can kiss my metal butt, then back the hell off, and let me do my job!" Turning his attention away from Lane, and back to the display generated by his cybernetic eye, Stone spoke into the mic projected from his left earpiece, "Captain Atom! I'm reading hundreds of those things in the atmosphere, and more streaming from the dark side of the moon! They're headed our way, and they're going to intercept Major Tom!"

"Not on my watch, they're not!" came the hero's voice over the comm.

Upper atmosphere:

"Hang in there, Major! Help's on the way!"

"Hang in there, Major!" the Captain shouted into his comm. "Help's on the way!"

The Scarab Sliders sliced through the sky at stupefying speeds. Captain Atom fired into the atmosphere, blasting many in the front of the descending attackers into fireballs that caught some of those behind them. The Scarabs broke ranks, and began raining down in a wider pattern. The Captain fired a protective umbrella of energy over the cone of Major Tom's ship, which detonated any Scarabs that attempted to plow through it, clearing a path for the experimental ship to break orbit.

One of the Scarabs nearly missed Captain Atom, and he fired a blast at it with his free hand, winging it, and causing it to spiral towards the ground, smoke trailing in its wake. He blasted another, the explosion jarring him to one side. Then a third ship shot into him at great speed, knocking him aside, and causing him to lose concentration on his protective shield for the ship. "NO!" he shouted, recovering quickly, and rocketing back towards Major Tom's ship.

Next Issue: Tommy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: SBS #6.

Nightwing: Rusted From the Rain #2: A Boy Wonder and His Dog


DateNightwing: Rusted From the Rain #2ViewRead the...
01/22/17A Boy Wonder and His Dog(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
EAppropriate for everyone.Formerly Known as Robotman
"We thought about transferring him..."

"We thought about transferring him to my Robotman body, but it was decided that the organics of my brain may have contaminated the connections too badly. Mixing the two might cause catastrophic infection in his brain. He decided to remain in Robbie," said Crane.

Dick looked at the dog with wide eyes. "So, he's just...a dog now?"

"Well, robot dog, obviously." Crane looked pensive for a moment, then said, "There's one more thing."

Dick looked at him incredulously. "I don't know if I can take another surprise today, and for me, that's saying something."

Robert Crane smiled. "Even when he was just a robot dog, Robbie could talk. He has a voice synthesizer."

Dick was dumbfounded, and did a doubletake between Crane and the dog.

"Say hello to your uncle," Crane said softly.

Holding the dog out at arm’s length, Dick looked at the face of the robot dog for long moments before he finally managed a very weak, "Uncle...Chuck?"

The dog's eyes lit up, the mouth opened, and a distinctly human voice said, "Hiya, kid."

"Holy crud!" exclaimed Dick to Crane. "It sounds just like him!" Looking at the dog, he said, "It sounds just like you!"

The dog laughed a human laugh, which Dick found a tad unnerving, and said, "Hey, I was very good at this stuff." One robotic eye clicked shut and open again, winking at Dick.

"Oh, wow," was all Dick could say.

"I think you can set me down on the coffee table now," said the dog.

"Oh! OH! Right! Here you go. Sorry," fumbled Dick. "So...what's all this about then?" he asked.

Robert and Chuck were both silent for a few moments, but Crane finally said, "I'm dying."

Dick was stunned. "Um, wow... four surprises for the day."

"It's the degenerative disease," Crane said with resignation. "It came back with a vengeance, and even if the diseased blood of the body hadn't coursed all through my brain, I can't transfer back to the robot body. The organic material that might be left behind has decomposed, and poses just as much infection risk to me as it does to your uncle. So I'm approaching the end of a very long life," he said simply.

"I'm sorry," said Dick.

"Nah. Don't be. I've got a year or so left, and my affairs are in order," he said, interlocking his fingers and resting his hands over his stomach. "With the exception of him," he said, nodding at Chuck.

Dick looked at the robot dog a little blankly, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, and resting his chin in his thumbs, mouth hidden behind his hands.

"I was hoping I could stay with you," said Chuck.

Dick said nothing, clearly overcome with this fifth surprise.

"I don't have to be walked," Chuck joked. "Just oiled and augmented with a protein formula every so often...for my brain," he clarified. After a few more moments of silence, he said, "I can probably tell you some stories about your dad that you haven't heard before."

"My only living family is Johnathan Crane--"

Dick couldn't hide his interest in that. He looked up at Crane, who was watching quietly, but expectantly. "Yeah. Yeah, it's no problem. What about you though, Doctor Crane?"

He smiled and said, "I can walk myself." Both men laughed. The mechanical dog shook its head. "I'm going to do some travelling, but the Chief will be handling my medical care until the end. Also...Charles and I have done some talking...about after my death. If it's alright with you, as this is his body, I'd like to be buried with your family. My only living family is Johnathan Crane--"

"The Scarecrow?!" Dick blurted.

"Yes, and I don't want to take the chance that he might make use of any of my discoveries, or make any connections to your family, because of Charles' body. You'll inherit whatever estate I have left, and the Chief has my technology in safe keeping. Is this acceptable?" he asked.

Looking at the dog whose eyes clicked shut and open in a blink, and then back to Crane, Dick said, "Yes, I think that's probably best."

Crane again seemed relieved. Standing, he said, "Well, I think I've given you enough shocks and surprises for today. I'll take my leave." Reaching out to shake Dick's hand, he said, "It's been good meeting you, Mister Grayson."

Shaking Crane's hand, he said, "Please call me Dick, Doctor Grayson. The pleasure was mine. Thank you for coming," he said sincerely.

"Robert then," Crane said agreeably. Looking down at the mechanical dog and smiling warmly, he said, "Goodbye, Charles. Thank you for everything, old friend."

The dog's head tilted slightly, the mouth opened, and Chuck's voice said, "Goodbye, Robert. Thank you for getting me this far. I wish you well."

Looking back to Grayson, Crane said, "Goodbye, Dick."

"Goodbye, Robert. Thank you again."

"You're quite welcome, young man. Thank you for being so understanding. Good evening now," and stepping to the stoop, he opened his umbrella, and walked out into the rainy night.

"My turn for surprises."

Dick watched him go for a few seconds, then closed the door behind him and locked it. Going back to the couch, he sat and looked at the robot dog for a long minute.

Finally, Chuck said, "Well, looks like we're going to be roomies, huh?"

Dick sighed, and said, "Yeah, and there's some things you need to know. My turn for surprises."

Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: SBS #5.

Nightwing: Rusted From the Rain #1: Formerly Known as Robotman


DateNightwing: Rusted From the Rain #1ViewRead the...
01/22/17Formerly Known as Robotman(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
EAppropriate for everyone.
No Caption Provided

Dick Grayson got out of the shower just in time to hear a knock at the door. Grabbing a towel, he wrapped it around his waist and ran to the front of his apartment. "I'm coming! Hold on!" he called. Without opening, he said, "Who is it?"

"That's a weird story," a male voice answers over the sound of rain.

Dick scowled a little, but unlocked the door anyway. Opening it, he saw a brown haired man holding an umbrella over his head with one hand, and an old toy dog in the other. This distracted him only momentarily before he realized the man was, "Uncle Chuck?"

"Oh. So you do recognize me then?" the man asked.

"Very funny!" Dick said, giving his uncle a hug. "It's great to see you! It's been forever! I mean, what? Since...well, way before mom and dad died! Where have y--"

Holding up a hand to stop Dick, he answers, "Um, you don't understand. May I come in?"

"Of course! Of course!" says Dick, standing aside. Pointing to a chair, he says, "Make yourself comfortable, but excuse me for a minute. Let me throw some clothes on." Moving quickly to the bedroom, Dick grabs a red shirt and throws it on. Grabbing a pair of jeans, he pulls them on as he says, "So what brings you into town, Uncle Chuck?"

From the next room, he hears, "Well, that's just it. I'm not Chuck Grayson."

Dick comes out holding one of his escrima sticks, "You want to explain that, mister?"

Not moving from the chair, the man says, "My name is Robert Crane. I--"

"In the 1940's, I was known as Robotman."

"Worked with my uncle," Dick interrupted. "I remember your name, but I had no idea you looked so much alike."

"Please, this is difficult enough to explain- let me finish," implored the man.

Looking equal parts confused and concerned, Dick took a seat on his couch, and said, "Alright."

"This might be very hard to believe," said Crane, "but this is Charles Grayson's body. The brain is mine though- that is, Robert Crane's."

Dick was shocked, but didn't show it. "Okay. Now I definitely need an explanation."

"In the 1940's, I was known as Robotman."

"Robotman?" asked Dick. "Of the Doom Patrol? I know him. His real name is Cliff Steele."

"No, he came later. I was with the All-Star Squadron. My brain was in a powerful robot body of my design, but the transfer process was invented by your Uncle Chuck. Without him, I would have died."

"Go on," Dick nodded. He reached to a side table, and picked up an Oracle-dedicated tablet. He began looking up Robert Crane to see if he could verify the information he was being given.

"I was eventually trapped in a collapsed mine for several years. When my robot body repaired itself, and I was finally able to escape, I located Chuck again, only to discover that he had died from a brain disease. His body had been frozen to keep anything else from degenerating, and it was with the help of The Chief from the Doom Patrol that I was able to have my brain transferred into your uncle's body- once again allowing me to be human. Something I'm very grateful for, but I thought it would be only right to let his next of kin know. Apparently, that's you."

Putting the tablet aside, Dick said, "You check out."

"Check out?" asked Crane. "Are you law enforcement, Mister Grayson?"

"Something like that," Dick smiled.

"I see," answered Crane. "At any rate, I basically came to let you know about this. It hadn't occurred to me to think of any family Charles might have before the operation. I know this is incredible, but I wanted to ask: is this okay?" He seemed very nervous to hear the answer to his question.

Dick looked at the floor for a moment, and sighed deeply. Looking up, he said, "Well, it's done now, isn't it? It's beyond weird, I'll give you that. To ask you to undo it at this point would be akin to asking you to commit suicide. And if I tried to force it- murder. So it's very strange, Doctor Crane, but congratulations on your new lease on life."

Crane seemed very relieved, and he sank a little deeper into the chair. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Grayson. That's quite a load off of my pun intended."

"Ha! Still funny though," chuckled Dick.

Rubbing his forehead for a moment, a new pain came over Crane's face as he said, "There's a little more though, I'm afraid."

Dick cocked his head sideways, but said nothing.

"This is Robbie."

Holding the toy dog forward, and handing it over to Dick, he said, "This is Robbie. He used to help me fight crime when I was Robotman."

"I was wondering about this," Dick confessed.

"He also has the brain of your Uncle Chuck," added Crane.

Dick jumped, fumbling the robot dog from his grip, but managed to catch it before it hit the floor. "Ugh! What?! Why...? Wait. I thought you said he died of a brain disease?"

Crane's brow furrowed. "That's what I was told. Apparently, Charles had a lot to do with Steele's Robotman body too. When the degenerative disease began to claim his body, he and the Chief decided to separate his brain from his body before it could actually be harmed by the disease. So, they put it inside of Robbie, and froze the body, hoping to find a cure someday."

"Then why did they allow the transfer of your brain into the body?" asked Dick.

"Because the degenerative disease had progressed enough to make the risk too great that the body would reject the brain if implanted again. I wanted out of the robot body badly enough to risk it. Obviously, it took."

"What about Uncle Chuck though?"

Next Issue: A Boy Wonder and His Dog.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: SBS #5.