Posts Tagged ‘A to Z Blogging Challenge’

Zorro Lives! – A Zorro Story

April 30, 2020

It was a dark night in what was still called Mexico City. There was no longer a country named Mexico, it was instead a state in the re-established boundaries of the United States of Central America. It was joined by Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, and Texas after it had seceded from the United States of America. It was 2237 and a lot of things had changed. Tired of the cartels in the area, the corporations had moved in and took their place and then they further dominated the government. In the 21st century, the people were beginning to fight back against a surveillance state, the corporations forced the issue.

Mexico City was an oppressive place to live. Every inch of the city was observable by cameras. Police were everywhere and had complete freedom to ‘serve and protect’ as they wished. Undesirables moved underground or out to rural areas. It was no way to exist. The synergy of government and corporation was unbeatable. This is why a couple of teenagers were being chased down an alley by three cops with military-grade weaponry on a Friday night.

Allegra Vega came from a wealthy family. They had carefully curated their money but had always channeled that money into helping the people. La Gente. La Raza. This is exactly why she was running through the shadows of Mexico City in pitch-black clothing, a cape, and a mask. The mask allowed her to tap into the city’s surveillance network at will and find where he was needed. She was always needed where the strong were preying on the weak. The devices in her body armor and mask made her practically invisible to cameras. At worst, all they would see was black smudge moving across their field of view.

Allegra lept from the fire escape she had been standing on and landed between the three cops and the teens they had been chasing. She smirked and folded her arms.

“You will not be bothering these young people anymore,” Allegra said. “Lay down your arms and walk away and you will live to tell the tale.”

“How about we bother you and then go back to bothering them?” One of the men said.

Allegra said nothing and grabbed a small metal cylinder which suddenly extended into a sword which crackled with electricity.

“Who are you?” one of the other cops asked.

“I’m Zorro,” Allegra said. “Time to die.”

“Blast her,” the lead cop said.

All three opened fire but they quickly realized that they were shooting through a hologram. Allegra charged at them from their side and drove her sword into the ribs of one of the cops. Electricity arced from the sword and left her opponent smoking and slumping to the ground. She lept through the air and her image blurred before the other two could react. She appeared in front of the second cop and drove her sword through his throat. She then came to a stop with her back to the last cop.

“Freeze!” the cop yelled. “You bitch! I’m going to take my time with you.”

Allegra smiled. “I’d check my pocket if I were you,” she said.

The cop frowned and patted his pockets. He already knew what he was holding when he pulled it out of his right pocket. It was a grenade and the pin had been pulled. He only had a split second to curse as the thing exploded and he was done.

Allegra pulled out a knife and pressed a button which made it heat to red hot. She slowly carved a Z into the body armor of the two intact cops before disappearing back into the night.

You Have Been Called – A Buffyverse Story

April 29, 2020

Karyn Stroud was walking back toward her dorm late at night. It was after midnight and Karyn had already been sleep-deprived for days. It was Finals week and she had been hit with exam after exam and paper after paper. She was not overly worried about any of that, though, because she had yet to turn in her portfolio for review. She was visual arts major and her portfolio was more important than anything else. In her tired mind, it was more important than food or sleep. She had no idea what time it was as she stumbled toward her bed but she knew that she had to get some sleep before she passed out on a drawing table again.

She was proud of her portfolio. Much of her art was inspired by the dreams she had had since she was a little girl. Her dreams were full of dark imagery with plenty of vampires, demons, and things that go bump in the night. Her dreams had bothered her as a kid but therapy had helped her refocus her nightmares into something productive. She had chosen to pursue visual arts but she also did a lot of writing outside of Finals week.

She almost didn’t notice the frat boys as they approached her from the shadows. She immediately tensed up and started moving faster. She put her head down and clutched her bag tight to her chest. One of them suddenly grabbed the strap of her bag and she tried to jerk away from him but he held onto it.

“Where are you going, girl?” the guy asked.

“I’m going home,” Karyn said. “Just let me go.”

“You’re not the boss of me,” the guy said and his friends laughed. “Why don’t you lighten up.”

“I’m tired,” Karyn said. “Please just leave me alone.”

“No chance of that, cutie,” the guy said. “Why don’t you come with us? Let’s go party.”

“It’s Finals week,” Karyn said. “I’m not going to a party.” She struggled again. She decided to let her bag go and just run, her fear response starting to go into overdrive. She felt a surge of energy wash over her body. She was suddenly more awake than she had ever been. She knew exactly where all of the guys were standing. She could hear them breathing.

While this was happening, the guy had tossed her bag aside and grabbed her wrist. He pulled her close and Karyn acted on instinct. She lashed out with a closed fist and hit him in the nose. His nose exploded with blood, splattering all over her suprised face. She could hear the guy’s yowls of pain and his angry friends started toward her. Her vision went blurry and then everything went black.

Karyn came back to herself as she sat on a bench in what turned out to be the local police station. Not the campus police but the actual police. She was led into an interrogation room and the officers asked her questions about how she had managed to beat up five people. They told her that two of them were pressing charges. She tried to tell them that the guys had attacked her first and it was self-defense but the officers seemed hesitant to accept her explanation. She was shown pictures of the horrible injuries she had inflicted and she could not understand how she had done it.

The following day she was summoned back to the interrogation room. She was told that her attorneys had arrived. She was confused as her one phone call had been to her parents and they had not mentioned any lawyer. She had never needed a lawyer before but now there were lawyers plural waiting for her. She went along to the meeting and sat down in front of a brown-haired woman and a black-haired man.

“Hello?” Karyn said. “Why are you here?”

“We’re here to help you out, kid,” the woman said. “My name is Faith and this is Angel.”

“Is that a joke?” Karyn asked.

“How is that a joke?” Angel said. “That’s literally our names.”

“You have to admit that the names kind of go together,” Faith said. “Like Angel said, those are our names, Karyn. We’re here to help you.”

“Help me?” Karyn asked. “I don’t even know what’s going on. I also didn’t hire any lawyers. Did my parents send you?”

“We came on our own,” Angel said. “We heard about what happened and we’re currently on a mission to manage these things.”

“You heard about what happened?” Karyn asked. “What did happen?”

Faith smiled and shrugged. “It’s going to sound weird,” she said. “Believe me, I’ve been there. You’ve experienced what it is like to be called.”

“Called?” Karyn asked.

“It only happens to certain girls and women,” Faith said. “It happened to me. I suddenly was super strong and fast and I could sense predators and monsters. I became a Slayer.”

“A Slayer?” Karyn asked. “What?”

“Into every generation, a slayer is born,” Angel said. “A chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.”

“That’s how it used to be,” Faith said. “Thanks to B, whole waves of girls get called at once. It’s kind of tiring.”

“How do I know this isn’t all bullshit?” Karyn asked. “You two could be crazy.”

“Do you have a lot of nightmares?” Faith asked.

“Yeah, whatever,” Karyn said. “A lot of people do.”

“Do you see monsters?” Angel asked.

“Sometimes,” Karyn said.

“What do you see when you look at me?” Angel asked.

Karyn studied Angel for a long time with a sense of unease in her gut. She glanced at Faith. “You’re both not human,” she said. “What are you?”

“Like I said, I’m a Slayer too,” Faith said. “We’ll get to what Angel is later. Look, we can work on getting you out of here and take it from there.”

“Where do you want it to go from there?” Karyn asked.

“Slayer Academy,” Angel said.

X-23: Agent of SHIELD – An Agents of Shield Story

April 28, 2020

Laura Kinney was amazed at the size of the plane in front of her. She had heard stories of the legendary covert actions done with this plane while she was on missions with the X-Men. They had never really crossed paths. Now the doors were open and the ramp was extended for her. This was SHIELD, the organization of Nick Fury who her father had told her some stories about. She walked up the ramp where three people were standing waiting for her.

“It is nice to meet you, Director MacKenzie,” Laura said. “I’ve received your messages and I’m excited to hear more of your proposal.”

“So formal,” Melinda May said with a very slight smile.

“That’s something coming from you. But you’re right, it’s too formal,” Mac said. “Let’s stick with calling me Mack. What should we call you? Ms. Kinney? Laura?”

“Maybe X-23?” Melinda May asked. “You’ve gone by that too.” May’s eyes studied Laura carefully, Laura could almost feel her gaze like it was a physical pressure. There was no menace to it but a sense of determination that Laura was familiar with. She could tell that May was trying to prod her, she respected that.

“Maybe that’s too dry and scientific,” Jemma Simmons said. “Too many memories of experimentation. I sympathize.”

“The name X-23 never really bothered me,” Laura said. “but my mother named me Laura so you can call me that. Though, in the field, my father has granted me the use of his mantle.”

“Wolverine?” Mack asked. “That name has some really nasty connotations.”

“To be perfectly honest so does the name Quake,” Laura said. “She’s one of yours, right?”

“She’s not wrong,” May said. “Daisy is a hero but she hasn’t always looked like one.”

“We have quite a long and sordid history,” Jemma said. “Some of us have been villainous when we weren’t at our best.”

“Speak for yourself,” May said. “I’ve always been a saint.”

“We’re getting ahead of ourselves,” Mack said. “Let’s talk about what this is. Welcome to SHIELD, skip the acronym, we work hard to save the world every single day. We’ve had ties to the Avengers, the Inhumans, and we’ve taken down Hydra more than once. You already know that I’m Alphonso MacKenzie and that I’m the director of SHIELD. This is Agent Melinda May, head of training, and this is Jemma Simmons, director of technology. There’s a lot of overlap, though and we’ve all seen a lot of field time.”

“And you’re interested in me?” Laura asked.

“We’ve heard a lot about you and we want you on our team,” Mack said. “Shield has had people with powers on the payroll for a while but we could always use more.”

“So I would be muscle?” Laura asked.

“You’d be a full member of the team,” May said. “Everybody contributes here and you have skills and knowledge that people here could only dream of. Like I heard that you’re an excellent tracker.”

Laura smiled and nodded. “I am,” she said. “I get that and a lot of other things from my father. But are you sure You want me? I’ve been called a monster. I’ve been called an animal.”

“You’ll be a whole person here,” Jemma said. “Not a lab rat, not an animal. The sum of your parts like the rest of us.”

“We’re offering you space to grow away from your father, your sisters, and the X-Men,” Mack said. “If you want it. No pressure.”

“No pressure, hmm?” Laura asked. “Sometimes some pressure is good. What would I be doing in SHIELD? How will I save the world?”

“We’d put you in Daisy’s team,” Mack said. “I’m sorry that she’s not here. Quake is out in the field with Yo-Yo, Mockingbird, and Deathlok.”

“A superhero team?” Laura asked.

“Sort of,” May said. “They’re agents.”

“It’s hard to explain unless you’re experiencing it,” Jemma said.

“May I have some time to think about it?” Laura asked.

“Of course,” Mack said. “Like I said, no pressure. If it helps, you could talk to the other person we’re actively recruiting.”

“Oh?” Laura asked. “Who is that?”

“Her name is Gwen Stacy,” Mack said. “I’ll get you her contact info.”

“Thank you,” Laura said. “I look forward to meeting her. Maybe I’ll run into Quake soon too if she’s not too busy. It won’t be hard to find her.”

“Good luck,” May said. “I trained her.”

“We’ll just consider it my first test then,” Laura said. She turned around to leave. “I’ll give you my answer soon.”

Watson and Watson – A Sherlock/Elementary Crossover Story

April 27, 2020

“This is all so strange, don’t you think?” John Watson asked. He kept his eyes peeled for any sign of trouble, a little nervous.

“This is a pretty standard lockpick,” Joan Watson said with a shrug. “but that’s probably not what you’re referring to.”

The two Watsons had met not but a few hours earlier when they were both following leads about the kidnapping of their partners. Upon finding out that they were both working with the famous Sherlock Holmes, they just had to team up. It was intriguing that they just happened to be entirely different iterations of Sherlock Holmes. It also deeply confused John that he had been in London earlier in the day but was now in New York City. He had not remembered any air travel. Now they were hot on the trail of whoever was behind this.

“You’re absolutely correct,” John said. “How can there be two men named Sherlock Holmes? Both are consulting detectives from England.”

“Both are assholes with a heart of gold?” Joan asked with a smile, trying to focus on picking the lock.

“What are the odds?” John asked. “Honestly?”

“The odds are pretty slim,” Joan agreed. “Is his brother’s name…?”

“Mycroft,” John said. “Yes, it is. I feel like we’re entering the realm of science fiction.”

“You’re not wrong,” Joan said. “but we’re fairly different, right?”

“We’re both J. Watson,” John said. “That’s not enough for you?”

“I’m an ex-surgeon and ex-sober companion,” Joan said. “What’s your background?”

“I was a medic in Afghanistan,” John said. He did not seem to want to expand on that. “Now I’m kind of a writer.”

“So, we’re both ‘Doctor Watson’,” Joan said. “But we came at it from different angles. Plus there are the obvious biological differences.”

“That goes without saying,” John said.

Joan finally got the lock open. “Maybe that wasn’t as simple a lock as it looked,” she said. “We’ll have time to explore the implications of all this once we’ve recovered the Sherlocks.”

They moved inside the office and split up to start searching. There were papers and files everywhere so there was enough to keep them occupied. Each had different strengths that had been honed by their partnerships with Sherlock Holmes. Somewhere in the back of their heads, both Dr. Watsons knew that the Sherlocks were somewhat different from each other. It would be interesting to study them when they were together after they were rescued. After a while, John could not help but talk again.

“Who do you suppose is behind this kidnapping?” John asked. “I’m sure your Sherlock has no shortage of enemies just like my Sherlock.”

“Definitely true,” Joan said. “It might be Moriarty. This is appropriately complicated.” Although, in the back of her head Joan wondered if this was one of Sherlock’s tests meant to further her education. Somehow this seemed too strange for even Sherlock Holmes to dream up.

“Moriarty?” John asked, stunned. “He’s still alive?”

“She’s still alive,” Joan said. “and very dangerous.”

“She?” John asked. “Your Moriarty is a woman?”

“Another difference, I guess. She and Sherlock actually used to date,” Joan said. “She was Irene at some point.”

“Irene Adler?” John asked, exasperated. “That’s quite a shock.”

“It was,” Joan said. “I take it that your Moriarty is dead?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure sometimes,” John said. “There have been a lot of posthumous recordings. He doesn’t stay away for long considering he’s supposed to be dead.”

“That sounds like a Moriarty. It also sounds like you live as complicated a life as I do,” Joan said. “Still, it’s all worth it right? Helping people? The thrill of the chase?”

“I like to think so,” John said. “Not something I ever went looking for, though, and I actively tried to avoid it at one point.”

“Avoid it?” Joan asked. “What do you mean?”

“Working with Sherlock caused disruptions in my marriage for a while,” John said. “but Mary has passed.”

“I’m sorry,” Joan said. “This work makes it hard to date much less get married.”

John nodded and they went back to searching. Suddenly, Joan came up with a piece of paper and looked over at John.

“Do you recognize the name Eurus?” Joan asked.

John went pale. “Unfortunately, I do,” he said. “Have you not heard of Eurus Holmes yet?”

“Eurus who!?” Joan nearly yelled.

<Once again, Elementary was a suggestion from my friend Liz but I know she likes Sherlock too>

Victory Garden – A Justice Society of America Story

April 25, 2020

Courtney Whitmore was pouting just a little bit on the rooftop of the headquarters of the Justice Society of America. She was tired of being inside and completely restless. She wanted to be out with her friends or even on patrol. She and her stepfather, Pat Dugan, had just finished a patrol when the Stay at home order was announced. There was a deadly virus and the short term solution was to shelter in place and wait it out. Courtney had wanted to at least go home but Pat had insisted that the responsible thing to do was stay at headquarters in case they had already been exposed during their patrol.

Besides, they might be needed if the emergency got worse. There were others also at headquarters. Doctor Mid-Nite was locked in his lab and communicating with leading medical scientists and doctors from around the world. Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, and Wildcat were also present and accounted for. The Marvel Family was sticking around but they were immune to the virus as long as they stayed in their superpowered forms. It had been weeks since they had gone out in costume.

In the meantime, Courtney was hanging out as Pat tended a small but growing garden. The sun was shining and it was good weather for it. However, Courtney looked restless.

“We should go on patrol,” Courtney said. “There could be danger out there. How would we know?”

“We have a computer attached to police scanners and news feeds,” Pat said. “If we’re needed, we’ll be there. It’s safer to stay here.”

“Your STRIPES armor probably keeps the virus out,” Courtney said. “You’d be perfectly safe.”

“Maybe,” Pat said, grunting as he dug another hole. “But it’s actually pretty peaceful out there. Even the criminals are scared of this thing. Why are you pushing this so hard, Courtney?”

“I just need to be Stargirl,” Courtney said, wrapping her arms around herself.

“Why do you think that is?” Pat asked.

“I don’t know,” Courtney said, looking away.

“Maybe because being superheroes has become normal for us?” Pat asked. “Maybe you think it will feel normal to put on the costume again?”

“Maybe,” Courtney said. “Is that bad?”

Pat stopped what he was doing and looked up at her, having to shade his eyes a bit. “Not at all,” he said. “Being Stargirl and STRIPES is important to the world and it’s important to us. It brought us closer at a time where we were still figuring out how to be family.”

Courtney thought about that shared history. She had been pissed when Pat had married her mother. A resentful and sullen Courtney had chosen to act out instead of make peace. She discovered Sylvester Pemberton’s old Star-Spangled Kid costume and had run around town to piss off Pat. Pat had been Pemberton’s sidekick Stripey back during World War 2. Circumstances caused by time travel had ended with Pat being much younger than he should have been in the present day. Pat had eventually designed and donned the STRIPES armor to accompany his stepdaughter as she fought crime. Eventually, Courtney saw Pat as a mentor instead of an obstacle. Courtney earned the respect of her stepfather but also her peers when she accepted Ted Knight’s old cosmic rod.

“Yeah,” Courtney said. “That’s true.”

“But this is what’s important right now,” Pat said.

“Why?” Courtney asked. “Why are we even doing this? It’s not like we need the vegetables, the grocery stores are still open.”

“Because this is a little thing we can do in case things get worse,” Pat said. “If these vegetables grow that leaves more in the stores for other people. Back when I was running around with your predecessor, we called these ‘victory gardens’. People did them to help the war effort.”

“Stopping the Nazis, huh?” Courtney asked.

“Yeah,” Pat said. “That was the idea. I trust Doctor Mid-Nite and the gang to find a cure but if this helps just a little bit, it’s something I can do. We can’t patrol but we also can’t just watch television and work out all the time. Some sunshine and a little hard work could help us stay sane.”

Courtney sighed. “Hand me a shovel,” she said. “I’ll help you out.”

Uzume and Ms. Cosmetic – An American Gods Story

April 24, 2020

The strip club was fairly sparsely populated but it was that definitely the usual for a Thursday afternoon. Cigarette smoke hung in the air even though it had been banned from bars and restaurants years ago. There was also the smell of a little bit of cannabis in the air which was definitely not legal in Virginia. The owner did not really care about it. The place was out of the way enough that he got away with it. There was also the smell of stale beer. This was all mixed with the desperate and futile use of air freshener spray. There was the usual constant pulsing of music and the flashing of lights. Despite this, there was not much energy in the place either from the performers or their audience.

As the clock ticked over to one in the afternoon, the DJ roused himself and looked at his list. His face brightened as he saw the stripper scheduled for the next set. He flipped a switch and turned his microphone on.

“Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the fabulous shining star of the Sunset Lounge,” the DJ said. “You know her, you love her, put your hands together for Suzie!”

He started to pump the music again, a sort of JPop and Trap blend that was high energy and very happy. A young Japanese woman took the stage like light and lightning personified. She moved fast and with a joy that shone like the sun. Unlike the other girls, she seemed to really like what she was doing. She brought the energy to the room and soon the small crowd was clapping, banging on tables, cheering her on, and, most importantly, showering the stage with money. Suzie took off her clothes without a shred of reluctance or embarrassment. She was a complete professional.

As her set was ending, Suzie noticed that a strange woman had sat down at one of the tables. The woman was staring intently less like she was watching a stripper and more like she was studying a painting or taking inventory in a shop. It only threw off Suzie for a moment but it unnerved her. She ended her set and went to the back. She threw on a robe and headed into the hallway to go get some tea. However, the strange woman was in the hallway. She was very angular and overly perfect and completely unreal. Suzie led the woman through the back door and out behind the dumpster.

“What do you want?” Suzie asked. “You’re one of those new gods, aren’t you?”

“I am,” the woman said. “You’re Uzume, no?”

Suzie shrugged but nodded. “Yes but I don’t trust you,” Suzie said. “I don’t want you here.”

“That was all Loki and Odin,” the woman said. “There is no real conflict between the old gods and the new gods.”

“Still, you creep me out,” Suzie said. “What’s your name?”

“We don’t really do names like you old gods,” the woman said. “You can call me Ms. Cosmetic.”

“I can guess what your goddess of,” Suzie said with a smirk. “What do you want from me?”

“I’m here in the spirit of new cooperation,” Ms. Cosmetic said. “If you are not returning across the sea with other old gods, I have a proposal for you.”

Suzie sighed and shrugged. “I don’t think I’ll like it,” she said. “but go on.”

“I could make you beautiful,” Ms. Cosmetic said. “I can make you glorious. I have connections with Media, we could make you a new global face. More than a supermodel. You would be a deity model.”

Suzie laughed and shook her head. “I’m not the goddess of beauty, I’m the goddess of laughter, happiness, and revelry,” she said. “This is all-natural and it’s going to stay that way.”

“Suit yourself,” Ms. Cosmetic said, clearly disappointed.

“No offense,” Suzie said. “but you’d be better suited going after car crash victims, burn victims, cancer survivors, and so many more people who really need you.”

“It’s a thought,” Ms. Cosmetic said. “Not much glory in all of that.”

“Suit yourself,” Suzie said with a laugh and a toss of her hair. She headed back inside to get ready for her next set.

Temple Run – A Dora the Explorer Story

April 23, 2020

Kai-Lan stretched a bit in the shadows but stayed low. They had the cover of the jungle and the ancient stone wall in front of them. The place was crawling with men with guns. No doubt they were mercenaries, castoffs from the world’s militaries. They meant business and would surely have no qualm about killing Kai-Lan and dumping her body into a ditch. The thought caused a chill to run up and then down her spine. She shook it off and stayed still. In the mad scramble, she had tweaked her shoulder and it throbbed with pain. At least it hadn’t been a knee or an ankle. She might have been dead if she had been slowed down.

She heard a soft thud and a rustle next to her and she smiled. She did not need to look to see who or what was there. She knew the sound of those particular boots in the dirt. “How was scouting?” she asked. “What did you find?”

Dora tied back her hair with a shrug. “They’re all over,” she said. “They all have guns. There’s at least ten of them. I think they’re Red Hand.”

“Red Hand?!” Kai-Lan nearly yelled. They had never actually had any experience with the Red Hand but they had a very bad reputation. They were an international private military group not unlike Blackwater or WatchGuard International. They had their hands everywhere. They were supposedly called Red Hand because they were unashamed that they got their hands so dirty. Their presence was definitely not a good omen.

Dora clamped her hand over her friend’s mouth. “Callate!” she hissed. “If they hear you, they will shoot both of us.” She looked into Kai-Lan’s eyes and waited for her to relax before removing her hand.

“Sorry,” Kai-Lan said. “I’ll be quiet. 他妈的! This was supposed to be a peaceful job.”

“There’s no such thing as a peaceful job in the kind of archaeology, Kai-Lan,” Dora said. “We search for high-value artifacts which are also sought out by criminals and the black market itself.”

“True,” Kai-Lan said. “we could be working with a university, traveling the world but living the quiet life.” The two had met in college at Oxford in England. They had instantly bonded as outsiders. Kai-Lan was from China and Dora was from Peru. Neither felt quite at home or accepted in an increasingly xenophobic England.

“Neither of us has ever lived the quiet life,” Dora said. “We can speak to animals.”

“Also very true,” Kai-Lan said. “So what are we going to do?”

“We’re going to do like Professor Croft taught us,” Dora said.

“Always fly first class?” Kai-Lan asked with a grin.

“No, the other stuff,” Dora said with her own grin. “the stuff with the guns and the kicking ass.”

The two of them had felt like outcasts until they had met Professor Lara Croft. The professor had seen the eagerness and curiosity in the young girls’ eyes and had taken a liking to them. She had maneuvered to become their advisor and the two girls had flourished. Professor Croft had retired from fieldwork but she told the girls all of her stories about gunfire and exotic locations. She taught them everything she knew and the girls had soaked it all up like sponges. They became keen detectives, adventurers, and warriors. Now they had formed a partnership and they worked with several historical preservation organizations and museums to retrieve or recover important artifacts.

“How’s your shoulder?” Dora asked. “Are you up for this?”

“If I wasn’t, would we run away?” Kai-Lan asked. “Could you run away with me and get the authorities?”

“Could you?” Dora asked.

The two of them looked each other in the eye for a long moment and then almost simultaneously shook their heads.

“No,” Kai-Lan said. “We’re definitely doing this. My shoulder still hurts a lot but I have two of them. I can still help. What do we have?”

“We have our sidearms,” Dora said. “We also have jaguars.”

“Jaguars?” Kai-Lan asked. “Really?”

Dora nodded. “Really,” she said. “They’ll start attacking soon. These guys have trampled their territory. They’re pissed.”

“Great,” Kai-Lan said with a smile. “So we wait for the attack and then we join in?”

“That’s the plan,” Dora said.

“It’s a good plan,” Kai-Lan said. “Poker?”

Dora held up a deck of cards. “Yes, please,” she said.

Sons of Heart – A Descendants Story

April 22, 2020

Ally was hanging out with her friend Jordan in one of the gardens on the grounds of Aurodon. They were a bit partied out so they left Audrey, Lonnie, Jane, and the VKs to keep celebrating. Everybody was so happy about the reunification of Aurodon and the Isle. Ally was happy too. Like many other people in Aurodon, she had been convinced by Mal and the gang that the VKs were not so bad. She had been nervous at first but that had changed. Like her mother Alice, Ally was used to playing by herself. But she was also curious like her mother and that had played a big part in learning to accept the VKs. The AKs had followed Audrey’s lead and they had become one big team.

When Audrey had turned bad, it had shaken everybody. That was not the friend that Ally had met when they were little. Sure she was the queen bee and a little rude sometimes but she was good at heart. Audrey had a lot of making up to do but that would come later. Ally already knew that they would forgive her even though Jordan and Ally had been turned to stone for what felt like forever. So much had happened but they would be friends forever. Besides, if Uma could walk the streets of Aurodon freely, anything was possible. It was a new world but Jordan and Ally had wanted to step away for a minute to breathe.

Ally spotted two young men walking toward them. They looked like twins and each had red accents to their raggedy clothes. Something inside of her tensed. They were from the Isle of the Lost for sure which meant they were VKs. The bridge to the Isle was restored but these two would not have had the same time to adjust that Mal, Evie, Carlos, Jay, and Freddie had had. Jordan moved slightly in front of Ally protectively, knowing Ally was a bit smaller.

“Whoa, guys,” Jordan said. “The party is over there.” She pointed away back toward all of the noise.

“When the barrier came down, we had to seek her out,” one of the boys said.

“We mean no harm,” the other one said.

Jordan looked at Ally and Ally shrugged and nodded. Jordan stepped aside.

“You wanted to look for me?” Ally asked. “Whatever for?”

“My name is Harlan,” the boy on the left said.

“My name is Jack,” the boy on the right said.

“Well,” Ally said. “This is Jordan and I’m Ally. It’s nice to meet you.” She did not know quite why she had said that. It was something her mother had always said.

“We had to look for you to apologize,” Harlan said. “We need to apologize to you and your mother. You look just like her.”

“Apologize?” Ally asked. “I don’t know you. What could you possibly have to apologize for?”

“Our mother is the Queen of Hearts,” Jack said. “She nearly killed your mother several times. The first thing we wanted to do was come and apologize to you and your mother.”

Ally blinked. She had not even thought of the possibility of meeting kin of her mother’s tormentors. “My mother has come to terms with her adventures in Wonderland,” she said politely. “From what I understand your mother was quite unbalanced to begin with. No offense.”

“None taken,” Harlan said. “She was not the best mother. She has calmed with age, though.”

“Not that anything could excuse her actions,” Jack said.

“But you didn’t do anything, right?” Ally asked. “That was all your mother.”

“No,” Jack said. “No more than we’ve had to do to survive.”

“The Isle has been rough,” Harlan said with a nod.

“So I’ve gathered from Mal and her group of VKs,” Ally said.

“You know Mal?” Jack asked excitedly.

“Of course,” Ally said. “She’s become one of my closest friends recently. Evie too.”

“They’re like celebrities on the Isle,” Harlan said. “I mean before they left they were the baddest gang around but now they represent hope since they started the lottery.”

“They’re kind of celebrities here too,” Ally said. “They just have that effect on people, I guess.”

“Anyway,” Harlan said. “It was nice to meet you too. We’ll go back to the party.”

“Wait!” Ally said, a sudden idea popping into her head. “Jordan? Why don’t you interview them for your webcast?”

“What?” Jordan asked. “Why would I do that?”

“All of Aurodon will be curious about the new VKs,” Ally said. “You could be the first to introduce them to Aurodon. You could interview them all. It would be a huge hit. Maybe?”

“No,” Jordan said. “You’re absolutely right. That’s a great idea.” She pulled out her camera. “Hey, if you’re the Queen’s sons, does that make you princes?”

The Road Vlogs – A Supernatural Story

April 21, 2020

The screen comes alive and there is Charlie, perfectly framed in the shot and obviously in a car. The viewer cannot tell where she is but Charlie looks happy and healthy.

Hey guys, Charlie here. I’m here in fabulous Wyoming. I decided to do these vlogs as kind of an update on what the Winchesters do on paper. You’d think Sam would have entered the digital age but those guys are old school. I guess their dad always used pen and paper so they have to? Anyway, this is encrypted six ways to Sunday and I don’t think anybody can crack it. If they did they would probably think it’s some Marble Hornets stuff. You guys remember Marble Hornets, right? Anyway, check the attached PDFs for any tips on attacking monster weak points for massive damage. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe. Just kidding. Hopefully, nobody sees these until long after I’m dead. Later.

The transmission starts again. This time Charlie looks more somber with a stitched-up cut on her face.

Hey guys, Charlie here. Vampires are dicks. I always thought they were kind of cool when I was a teenager. I had a total crush on a goth girl and we played The Masquerade. It was actually my first LARP. Anyway, things got pretty nasty back there but I got them all. I just also kind of burned down an arcade. That is the saddest news of all. The nest was in an old arcade and they weren’t even really playing any games. Who does that? They were totally preying on young teens. I can imagine myself as a teen gamer falling for it. Maybe. No, I was smart. Of course, I couldn’t tell that my boss was a leviathan. Forget it. Charlie out.

The transmission starts again. Charlie is in a much more jubilant mood, more of a party atmosphere.

“Hey guys, Charlie here. We’re having a blast. We totally just took out a lich. A lich! I didn’t think those existed outside of Dungeons and Dragons. We totally rolled a critical hit. Oh! Let me introduce you to the gang. I guess I got kind of lonely and I’m not hanging out with Rowena after I found out what she did to the other me. This is Tatty, she’s a faerie. No big deal. She actually knows Gilda so that’s awesome. Nudge, nudge. Say hi, Tatty. Oh and Bill is imaginary which is cool. He’s not really into appearing on camera, though. They don’t really pick him up. I’m not sure whose imaginary friend he is but he’s ours now. Anyway, we’re going to go celebrate. We’ve got a trunk full of wine coolers and beers. Peace.

The transmission starts again. Charlie is alone again but happy.

Hey guys, Charlie here. I’m taking a little break from hunting. I just needed a break. Did you know that Oz is real? Like, the Wizard of Oz? The other me actually went there and nobody told me. How crazy is that? Tatty didn’t even tell me about it and she’s from there. We kind of ran into Dorothy and it was super awkward. Apparently, the other me had a thing with her and it ended abruptly due to a shortage of dimensional travel. We had some coffee and talked it out and I might see her again but I don’t think I’ll see her like she wants me to see her. She is cute, though. Charlie out.

The transmission starts again. Charlie is really close to the camera. Her face is absolutely covered in blood.

If you’re watching this. It might already be too late. They are coming and they are coming to kill us all. I barely got away. For how long? I don’t know. Charlie suddenly laughs and backs up. Just kidding, I’ve always wanted to do a Help Me Obiwan kind of message. This is ketchup. I’m still on vacation. I just thought I would check in. These are fun to do. I’ll check in again in a few days.

The transmission comes on again and Charlie is sitting on the hood of a car.

Hey all you cool cats and kittens. That’s what she says, right? I’ve been totally binging lately. I saw Dorothy again and we watched Emerald City together. We both kind of liked it. It wasn’t very accurate but more accurate than the books. I’m heading back to meet up with Tatty and Bill. We might meet up with the Winchesters or Bobby or whoever. I’m ready to go hunting again. I’m ready to get back in the game. There are monsters out there and I know how to kill them. Check you later, guys.

<Although she did not suggest it, this one is for my friend Liz who is the biggest Supernatural fan I know>

Quiltbag Wizards – A Harry Potter Story

April 20, 2020

People started filtering into the appointed meeting place in the late afternoon. Some walked boldly into the room and some walked in with eyes cast toward the floor. Some people knew each other and chatted quietly. Others grew bold enough to talk to strangers. There were refreshments and some found solace by cramming cookies into their mouths and sipping punch. By early evening, the room was nearly full even though it was quite large. It was easier to get lost in the crowd as that crowd grew.

Thalia Spindle had entered the room relatively early and had grabbed a few cookies and a cup of punch and had sat down. Her hair partially covered her face which was maybe her way of hiding from the world. Thalia could see that there was a makeshift stage set up along with a podium and just seeing it triggered her social anxiety. She had come to the meeting from her job as a filing clerk at her ministry post. She had walked the whole way, trying to dissuade herself from going. She had nearly talked herself out of walking in the door six times before she finally did it. When enough people walked in after her, there was no going back.

Finally, a young man walked toward the podium. He stopped and said hello and waved at a few people as he walked. His smile was welcoming and Thalia felt a little more at home just seeing it. The man pulled out his wand and used a voice amplification spell.

“Welcome everyone,” he said. “For those who do not know me, my name is Martin Thatcher. You were all invited here to ignite a movement. Too long we have remained quiet and kept our lifestyles secret just because it made people uncomfortable. We cannot let ourselves waste away in a closet. Things are changing in the world and we can help that change.” He paused and gathered himself. “My name is Martin Thatcher and I am gay. I am gay and I am proud.”

The applause started slowly but soon the whole room was clapping. A relieved and happy expression passed over Martin’s face and he wiped away a single tear.

“Thank you,” Martin said as the applause died down. “Thank you so much. That means a lot and I’m not just saying that. We will not be silent anymore. Now I want to present to you our keynote speaker. She is a legend. She was present at the Battle of Hogwarts. She was a member of Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix. She fought against evil in all forms. Please welcome the wonderful Luna Lovegood.”

The applause rang out again as Luna walked to the podium. She waved and smiled and then amplified her voice with a spell.

“Welcome. It is so good to see all of your happy, smiling faces. You are here because you are more interested in living your truth than being what the world may want you to be. My father passed along a love of seeking the truth out even when everybody thinks you are wrong or crazy. We are not wrong. We’re here and we’re queer.”

She took a breath and continued. “I had the great honor of studying at Hogwarts under Albus Dumbledore. He was a real war hero and a legendary mind when it came to magic. He made every single person there feel safe. Except that he was not allowed to feel safe. Not many people are aware but Albus Dumbledore was gay. He obviously did not feel comfortable sharing that with many people, even some of those who were closest to him. He was betrayed by a lover and then locked that part of himself away from the world.”

“We have to do better. The muggle world is waking up and being more accepting, our world can do the same. When I attended Hogwarts, I was often accused of not speaking clearly even though that’s what I thought I was doing. Let me be absolutely clear now. I am polyamorous and pansexual. I have married three different people over the past few years since I graduated from Hogwarts. I’m tired of being treated like it’s strange.”

“Know that this group will always support you. We will accept you for who you are. I know not all of you want to come out but those who do, we are there for you. You can stand up and be counted with us by your side. We love you when your friends and family won’t. If you are looking for allies, your search is over. Welcome to the Quiltbag Wizards Association.”

The crowd began to applaud and go to their feet. Thalia was one of the first to her feet and she was clapping wildly. She started cheering and tears were running down her face. She felt like a burden was being slowly lifted. These were her people.


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