Posts Tagged ‘A to Z Blogging Challenge’

Zangief the Brave – A Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter Story

April 30, 2022

Sonya Blade parked her SUV and slipped on her sunglasses. They were a gift from Johnny but they were so useful on bright days. She checked her gun in its holster and then made sure her badge was tucked away. She wished that she could make herself look like an average woman but she had become military through and through. She was happy to move from hunting criminals to hunting down extradimensional invaders. She had been through fire and it had made her stronger but part of that was leaving behind a normal life. So be it. It had to be done.

“Thank you for coming along,” Sonya said, turning to look at Chun-Li Xiang. “All of this fresh blood is going to help us in the fight but I don’t know these people like you do.”

“Well, I investigated a lot of them for Interpol at one point or another,” Chun-Li said. “And I’m also a little better with people than Guile or Cammy.”

“Good,” Sonya said. “We need to recruit the best that you have for the next tournament and that might mean siding with some of your less savory acquaintances.”

“I understand,” Chun-Li said. “I understand the whole deal between us.”

Sonya nodded. “If you help us with this recruitment drive and the next tournament,” she said. “We’ll help you take down Shadaloo.”

Chun-Li nodded, excited by the thought of finally achieving her revenge. She could deal with anything to achieve that goal, even dealing with Outworld and its denizens.

“Well, we’ve brought in Ken Masters, Ryu, Edmond Honda, Luke Sullivan, Karin Kanzuki, Sakura Kasugano,  and Fei Long so far,” Chun-Li said. “We get connections to the US Air Force and MI-6 through Major Guile and Cammy White. We haven’t located Dhalsim or Blanka yet.”

“What about this stop?” Sonya asked, looking over at the bar they were about to enter.

“Oh, I think this one will net us two fighters,” Chun-Li said. “Inside that bar is one of the greatest fighters around. Sometimes he’s known as the Red Cyclone but most of us know him as Zangief.”

“The pro-wrestler?” Sonya asked. “I mean, I’ve seen pictures. He’s ripped but how good of a fighter is he?”

“He’s a really good fighter,” Chun-Li said. “Pro-Wrestling is his day job but he’s been in the street fighting circuit like the rest of us too. I would definitely want him on my side in a fight.  Besides, through him, we might recruit Rainbow Mika and El Fuerte.”

“More pro-wrestlers,” Sonya said.

“Hey, don’t underestimate them,” Chun-Li said. “Zangief has wrestled bears and gone toe to toe with Shadaloo as well.”

“Let’s go talk to him then,” Sonya said and climbed out of the vehicle. She scanned the street up and down instinctively and she watched Chun-Li do the same. It was impossible to push those routines away but they also kept you alive in bad times.

Chun-Li led the way and pushed open the door. She was dressed casually but she still had her hair up in ox horns. Sonya had her hair in the usual combat-ready ponytail and was dressed in all black. The inside of the bar was noisy and rowdy but Sonya and Chun-Li did not even flinch, knowing they could probably take just about anybody in a fight. Chun-Li approached the bar.

“We’re here to see Zangief,” she told the bartender. The bartender gestured to a door behind the bar and the two ladies made their way to the private back room.

Inside that room was the hulking form of Zangief, his shirt barely containing his impressive physique. Chun-Li was not sure she had ever seen him with his chest covered. There were a few burly men and tough-looking women surrounding the big man and a ton of bottles with varying amounts of liquid still in them.

“Chun-Li!” Zangief shouted. “An old competitor of mine,” he told his friends. “Do not be fooled by her size, she is very fierce. Show them your lightning kick.”

Chun-Li smiled. “Now’s not the time for that, Zangief,” she said. “We’ve got business.”

“Show them,” Zangief insisted. “Then business.”

“Fine,” Chun-Li said. “Glad I didn’t wear a skirt today.”

She picked up a bottle, threw it into the air, and suddenly her leg was in motion. It looked like she was kicking with multiple legs as they blurred in the air. The bottle was absolutely obliterated by dozens of kicks that impacted it within a split second. Zangief clapped and everybody else joined in, including Sonya. It was very impressive.

“Very good,” Zangief said. “Now to business. Everyone out, leave me to do business.” His voice was commanding and everybody cleared out before they pissed off the big guy. Zangief grabbed a bottle and poured out three shots. “We drink. To the fight!” He downed the shot in a flash. The ladies shrugged and followed suit. The vodka did not go down easy as it burned their throats and made their eyes water.

“Good stuff,” Chun-Li managed to choke out. “Zangief, this is my friend Sonya Blade.”

“Sonya Blade,” Zangief said, nodding. “Are you also a fighter?”

“Oh I’m definitely a fighter,” Sonya said. “I’ve seen fights you wouldn’t believe.”

“I’ve seen many fights,” Zangief said. “Many fights you might not believe either.”

“What are you doing outside of Russia, Zangief?” Chun-Li asked.

At the question, Zangief’s expression darkened and he shook his head. “I am temporarily out of Mother Russia,” he said. “I could not stand by as they committed atrocities. I was informed that if I did not remain silent, I would not be welcome. I could not stay silent. I continue to protest while abroad.”

“What if I told you that we need you?” Sonya asked. “Would you be willing to fight not for Russia but for Earth?”

“For Earth?” Zangief asked. “Please tell me more, Ms. Blade.”

You’re Doing It Wrong – A Hellblazer/Ghostbusters Story

April 29, 2022

John Constantine climbed out of the New York City taxi on Moore Street and handed the cash over and had the cabbie keep the change. He suddenly missed London and his good buddy Chas. Still, New York City had been his home away from home and it had accumulated as many dark memories as London had. It seemed that New York definitely had its own history of being a nexus for all sorts of nasty things. The demon Mnemoth in particular had made for a particularly nasty trip to the Big Rotten Apple. He wondered how much dust had accumulated in his old apartment. He had no time to think about that now. He had business to attend to.

He walked up to what used to be a fire station but now it had a big sign with a cartoon ghost with a big red line through it. Absolutely, ridiculous. The sign said “Ghostbusters” and these must be the people that John had heard about in the news. He had also felt the disturbance that these people had caused. He did not stop to ring the bell, he just pushed open the door and stepped right inside.

“Right, who can I talk to who runs this establishment?” Constantine called out. “I have a complaint.”

“Welcome to Ghostbusters. My name is Janine. Our service contract comes with a hold harmless agreement and we are not liable for property damage. Do you have a warrant or other writ?” A woman with red hair said almost in one breath like it had been rehearsed.

“I don’t bloody well have a writ,” Constantine said. “I’ve got a complaint.”

“What is the nature of your complaint?” Janine asked.

“You’re doing it wrong,” Constantine said.

“Excuse me?” Janine asked.

“You heard me,” Constantine said. “The name’s John Constantine. Who can I talk to?”

A serious-looking, bespectacled man walked into the room and stopped to look at Constantine.

Janine turned to look at the man. “Egon,” she said. “This man has a complaint. He says we’re doing it wrong.”

“I’ll talk to him.” Egon said. “I’m curious.”

“Should I call Venkman in too?” Janine asked.

“Dear god no,” Egon said. “We all remember how he ruined us with Peck. Could you go to Winston’s office and ask him to come to my office? Come with me, Mr. Constantine.”

Janine quickly walked deeper into the building while Constantine followed Egon to his office. John settled into a chair in front of the desk. They did not have to wait long for Winston to walk in. He took a chair and moved it to the side of Egon’s desk.

“My name is Dr. Egon Spengler, head of research. This is Winston Zeddemore, our head trainer,” Egon said. “Winston, this is John Constantine.”

“It’s Constantine, actually,” Constantine said. “It’s pronounced Constantine.”

“Right, Mr. Constantine has some critiques of our process,” Egon said.

“Is that right?” Winston asked. “I mean, we’re kind of the experts at this ghostbusting thing but we’re always open to new ideas.”

“I don’t mean to insult you blokes,” Constantine said. “But you’re doing it wrong.”

“You have a funny way of not insulting people,” Winston said.

“You said that before,” Egon said. “Enlighten me as to what that means.”

“Well, I’ve dealt with my own share of ghosts and demons but I don’t go blowing up buildings if I can help it,” Constantine said. “You’ve blown up at least two and that bloody statue.”

“This is the first time that we’ve met a competitor,” Egon said. “And you’re willing to compare notes? Are you using a similar proton stream?”

“What? Those glowy guns you lot used on the news?” Constantine asked. “God no, most of the time I solve the problem by conning them. When that fails, I use magic.”

“Magic?” Winston asked. “Really?”

“I would have dismissed such claims previously,” Egon said. “After Viggo, my mind has been opened somewhat. Still, I’ve yet to see a human being perform feats of magic.”

“I could show you,” Constantine said. “If you promise not to pull out your guns all willy nilly.”

The two Ghostbusters nodded and Egon gestured for Constantine to proceed. Constantine stood up to give himself room. He gestured.

“Exsurge, Sanctus! In nomine creatoris! Surge!” Constantine called out. There was a bright light and a brightly glowing ghost suddenly in the office.

Egon pulled out his PKE meter and scanned the ghost.

“That is definitely a ghost,” Egon said. “Impressive.”

“Where did he come from?” Winston asked.

“Thank you for not saying ‘it’,” Constantine said. “Instead of shooting first, why don’t we ask this poor bloke. Hey, who are you?”

“Albert Fleisher,” the ghost said. “I died in the subway below.”

“Well, Al,” Constantine said. “Would you like to move on?”

“Very much so,” Albert said.

Constantine gestured again. “In the name of the Creator, you are hereby commanded to leave this place. By the blood of Man, be not and be gone!,” Constantine called out. “Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine!”

The ghost faded away with a grateful look on his face.

“That’s the thing, gentlemen,” Constantine said. “There aren’t any good guys, and there aren’t any bad guys. There’s just us. people. Doing our best to get by. Most ghosts just want to move on.”

“Shit,” Winston said. “Would you be willing to consult with us?”

“Agreed,” Egon said. I would love to study your methods.”

“I think I can swing sticking around for a bit,” Constantine said with a smile.

Xinyan’s New Band – A Genshin Impact Story

April 28, 2022

Barbara focused her will on the charm in her hand and conjured up a wall of water. She took several deep breaths and focused on the rippling water. Bit by bit, the surface flattened and Barbara could see her reflection slowly form in the water. The magic of Hydro came so easily to her as it always had. What she saw made her blush a bit. Her costume was not her usual fare. These were definitely not the raiments of a deaconess for the Church of Favonius. They weren’t quite the clothes of an idol either. It was all spikes and sharp lines, different from her usual flowy cloth. She was also a bit overwhelmed by the thick makeup.

“I’m not sure about this new look, Xinyan,” Barbara said. “It’s not really my style.”

Xinyan had been tooling around with her guitar and looked up. “I think it looks great!” she said. “You’re definitely rocking it with that style.”

Barbara sighed. “I mean, thank you, but it’s really more your style than mine,” she said. “It feels like a lie.” She released her will and the water splashed down to the ground and started to soak into the Earth.

“I totally get it but if you’re going to be in the band, you have to have a little more showmanship,” Xinyan said. “We can’t have our lead singer dressed all churchy.”

Barbara had to laugh at that. “Churchy? I guess that describes my style but I do try to throw in a bit of idol style for flair,” she said. “You don’t see the nuns with the frills that I wear.”

“Gotta give it to you on that, you’re never boring Barb,” Xinyan said. “But that’s your everyday. When you’re in a band you have to wear show clothes.”

“You wear the same thing every day, Xinyan,” Barbara said pointedly. “So how does that work into your philosophy?”

Xinyan shrugged. “I’m always on,” she said. “My concerts can start anytime and anywhere.”

“Doesn’t it get tiring constantly running away from the authorities?” Barbara asked.

“The Millelith are totally too slow,” Xinyan said and laughed. “They’ll never catch me. They just don’t appreciate my music but the people do.”

“Maybe this band will change that,” Barbara said. “We could be big and, more importantly, legitimate.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Xinyan said. “I don’t want to lose my street cred, though.”

Barbara smiled. “You don’t have to be afraid, Xinyan,” she said. “This could be the start of something really good and if it doesn’t work then we can go back to what we were doing. If you don’t try then you don’t gain anything.”

“I’m not afraid of anything,” Xinyan said. “But I guess that makes sense. I do want to get my music out to more people.”

“Our music,” Barbara said, gently correcting. “Part of making music together is compromising. Give a little, take a little. Which brings me back to what I will and won’t be wearing.”

Xinyan laughed. “Alright, what are your thoughts?” she asked.

“Again, a compromise,” Barbara said. “I can design something a little flashier but less “churchy”. I’ll even show you sketches.”

“Alright, alright, it’s a deal,” Xinyan said. “I’m not going to make you do anything that you really don’t want to do. I’m just trying to push you out of your comfort zone a little bit.”

Barbara focused again and conjured water to wash the makeup from her face. She felt more like herself.

“What do you mean?” Barbara asked. “I’m comfortable.”

“Right now you are,” Xinyan said. “But everybody knows that you work too hard and play too little.”

Barbara raised an eyebrow. “Everybody?” she asked, a little embarrassment slipping into her voice. “Who is everybody?”

Xinyan realized her mistake. “We don’t all talk about you,” she said. “Some people have seen how you never get any rest. You and your sister Jean. You’re always helping people.”

“It’s a great honor to be of service,” Barbara said a little indignantly. “My family has always believed that.”

Xinyan sighed. “Don’t take offense, Barb,” she said. “We all want to help out as much as we can. As crazy as my life is, I still fight to protect Liyue and the people I care about. I’d fight for you too.”

Barbara blushed slightly. “I don’t doubt it,” she said. “You’re a good friend, Xinyan. You’re a good person.”

Xinyan grinned. “Thanks, not the point. The point is that too much of anything will run you ragged,” she said. “You have to stop working and cut loose now and then. Maybe I can teach you how to have fun.”

“I’d like that,” Barbara said. “And maybe I can teach you how to be a bit more serious.”

“I don’t know about that,” Xinyan said with a wicked grin. “But you’re definitely welcome to try.”

Wonder Woman: The Key Stone (Movie Pitch)

April 27, 2022

(This is a sequel to a proposed Wonder Woman 2 that can be found here which makes this Wonder Woman 3)

It’s 1977, almost 40 years after Diana made a commitment to protect Man’s World with the assistance of ARGUS. To occupy her time she has decided to take jobs as an expert in authenticating and restoring ancient artifacts. This is a way to keep ahead of dangerous magical artifacts making their way into the wrong hands and instead kept safe while being used to educate people about the ancient world. It also allows her to travel the world with ARGUS.

Gateway City

Diana Prince leaves her apartment to walk to work with happy purpose. As she walks to work she sees the good in humanity and the life of the city. Suddenly, she senses something is amiss. An armored car is traveling at unsafe speeds through traffic and it is out of control. Diana ducks into an alley and Wonder Woman jumps and runs ahead of the truck, using her lasso and strength to clear the way and save people from harm. She lands on the roof of the armored car and opens a back door and slips inside. She is immediately attacked by some sort of snarling cat person. Wonder Woman knocks the cat person out of the back of the truck. As the truck hits a curb and starts to flip, she is able to toss the driver and guards to safety.

As she recovers from the crash, she looks to see a giant eye peeking through the back of the truck. She is startled when a large woman’s voice asks if she can hand over the artifact as the truck is lifted into the air. Diana spots a large lock box bolted to the truck’s floor and replies in the negative. Diana leaps from the truck and finds that it is being held by a woman several stories high. Diana lunges at the woman but is swatted away. The woman seems to hear something and complains about ‘standing down’. She drops the truck and starts running with Diana giving chase. Diana tries to follow but somehow loses the large woman around a corner. Diana calls ARGUS agent Paula von Gunther who starts to look into the two women.

Credit Sequence: Newspaper articles and photos pass by of Wonder Woman saving the day

Diana Prince shows up at the museum and apologizes for being late. She is quickly summoned into a meeting with the museum’s director. When she arrives, the director is in conversation with Maxwell Lord. He starts to introduce himself and Diana responds that she knows who he is, a shady businessman. Lord scoffs at that and wants to get back to business. He wants to check the status of the artifact that was supposed to be transported that day. He donated to bring it all the way from Metropolis and wants to make sure it is safe. The Director relates that the transport was attacked but thankfully Wonder Woman prevented its theft or damage but Diana needs to examine it as soon as it arrives within the hour. Lord proposes transporting the artifact to his building as it is more secure but the Director does not think that is appropriate although the offer is appreciated.

In Maxwell Lord’s office, he is yelling at somebody for failing him and how he needs that artifact. It is revealed that he is yelling at the large woman (Giganta) and a Dr. Minerva. Dr. Minerva is angry at being talked down to and transforms into Cheetah through the use of an artifact. She is the cat woman from earlier. A young woman (Troia) appears and says that Lord should have just sent her. Lord reminds all three that they owe him. He saved Minerva’s career, saved Giganta’s life, and literally created Troia. He wants the three to break into the museum and get him the artifact. He is through playing games, it is time for results.

In Diana’s lab, she studies the artifact with the newly arrived Paula looking over her shoulder. It is the Key Stone, a potentially powerful item that can unlock magical power. Diana is even more curious why Lord was so focused on this artifact. What does he have planned? They discuss what should be done about the artifact. They agree that Maxwell Lord should be kept from it. They also worry that the thieves that attacked earlier could easily strike again. Diana researches the Key Stone more and sees that it is at the height of its power later that night due to the alignment of the planets.

The buzzer sounds but it is pretty late for visitors. Doctor Minerva talks her way into Diana’s study, claiming to be Maxwell Lord’s expert there to protect his investment in the museum. As they talk about the artifact, Paula scans Dr. Minerva and reveals that Dr. Barbara Minerva moved from artifact study to artifact theft and was presumed disgraced and barred from the profession as a plea deal. Minerva transforms into Cheetah and starts fighting Diana. Diana gets the upper hand but Troia appears out of nowhere and sucker punches Diana. Cheetah and Paula fight, Troia and Diana fight. The artifact is passed back forth between the four. Troia is a match for Diana’s strength and speed, unnerving Diana. The two villains escape with the artifact after Troia collapses part of the ceiling on Paula. After a beat, Diana gives chase but is punched through the open door by Giganta.

At Lord’s building, he congratulates his henchwomen on getting the artifact but still snarkily insults them. He and Dr. Minerva start to prepare the ceremony. It is explained that he plans to unlock his magical potential by siphoning power from Mount Olympus. Bored and frustrated, Troia and Giganta break into one of Lord’s labs. Giganta tells the story of the magical artifact that saved her life and gave her the ability to change her size. Troia discovers that Lord had her created while studying a woman who looks like Wonder Woman. What does this mean? Are she and Wonder Woman related somehow?

Wonder Woman and Paula break into the lobby of Lord’s building where Giganta, Cheetah, and Troia are waiting for them. Wonder Woman tries to give them a speech about how they do not have to fight and that Lord is using them. Cheetah and Giganta agree but point out they are getting paid, Troia hesitates. The fight begins and both sides dig in. Paula sets off a flashbang which allows it to be two on two. Paula tangles with Cheetah while Wonder Woman fights Troia. Eventually, Paula locks Cheetah in an office.

Wonder Woman fights Troia and Troia questions what Diana is. Diana reveals her proud Amazon heritage and her oath to protect humanity from monsters and the worst of itself. Troia can use her powers for good. Troia rejects that and tearfully attacks and Wonder Woman eventually puts Troia through a wall, knowing the girl can take the punishment.

Wonder Woman returns to the lobby to fight Giganta and finds that Giganta has cornered Paula. Paula distracts an enraged Giganta and Wonder Woman eventually throws a statue of Lord to knock her out, finally getting payback for all of the giant’s sucker punches.

An enraged Troia charges into the lobby and Wonder Woman is ready for her. Troia has comparable strength, speed, and agility but Diana has been doing this a lot longer. This time Diana knows just what the young girl will do and she takes her out in graceful Amazon style. She then subdues the young girl by bending a pipe around her. This time, she should stay down.

Wonder Woman and Paula rush to face off against Maxwell Lord. Lord explains that he has siphoned power from Mount Olympus itself. He has extensively studied the Gods and their workings on Earth including the Amazons. He observed Wonder Woman in the press and put two and two together. Now he will have power surpassing hers. Diana tells him that was an unfortunate choice. She is the Godslayer and stealing her father’s power won’t help Lord. The two of them clash with Paula struggling to find a way to reverse the process. Diana powers up and finally puts the beat down on Maxwell Lord just in time for Paula to reverse the process.

Diana visits Troia in ARGUS holding. She notes that as strong as Troia is, she could have broken the pipe and gotten away. Something in Troia wanted to get caught. She assures Troia that Lord and his henchwomen are going to prison. They will never touch Troia again. Diana is there to give Troia a second chance. Troia may have all of Diana’s abilities, but she has none of the training. Diana offers to teach her. Troia accepts.

New Characters:
Troia – Shahadi Wright Joseph, Jada Harris, Brooklynn Prince
Cheetah – Damaris Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Stana Katic
Giganta – Bella Thorne, Bella Heathcote, Dreama Walker
Maxwell Lord – Michael Madsen, Simon Baker, Damian Lewis

Possible Directors: Ava Duvernay, David Leitch, Alexandra La Roche

Venus and Jupiter – A Sailor Moon Story

April 26, 2022

Mina and Lita had driven up to University that morning for orientation and were busy unpacking in their dorm room. The two of them had decided to room together. It just made sense as they were the last to join their friend group. Of course, they were friends with all of the other scouts but it was clear that there was more history between Serena, Amy, and Rei. Besides, they got along famously.

“Maybe we should get a hot plate so that I can do a little cooking for us,” Lita said.

“But we have meal plans at the dining hall,” Mina said. “Isn’t that a bit of a waste?”

“It’s not the same as home cooking,” Lita said. “I wouldn’t cook all the time, just sometimes.” She sounded a little defensive and offended. She was proud of her cooking and did not want to be dismissed.

Mina did not have to look away from her unpacking to hear the tone in her friend’s voice. “Well, it might be a good idea,” Mina said. “I do like your cooking. Let’s check with the rules of the dorm, though.”

“True,” Lita said. “I wouldn’t want to get us in trouble.” She respected Mina’s adherence to the rules. Mina had been the most serious of the five friends but she had lightened up. Still, Lita wanted to keep her friend comfortable.

“Of course,” Mina said. “We’ll figure this out. Dorm life is different.”

She turned to look at Mina just as Mina pulled out a stylized red domino mask.

“No way,” Lita said. “You kept the mask? That’s so cool.” She walked over to get a closer look.

Mina smiled and held the mask in front of her face. “I could never get rid of it,” she said. “I’ll always remember my time as Sailor V. It’s a huge part of who I am.”

“Of course,” Lita said. “You were all we could talk about. You were the first of us in action. Do you ever miss it?”

Mina shrugged. “It was really exciting being a solo act before I knew about the rest of the scouts,” she said. “But I wouldn’t trade being part of the team for the world. I guess I miss London the most.”

“I’ve never been,” Lita said. “So I guess I’m kind of jealous.”

“It was kind of lonely,” Mina said. “At least, it was at first. I didn’t really know English and my parents were always working. Meeting Artemis and becoming Sailor V was the start of me coming out of my shell. I fought the Dark Kingdom and I eventually learned English in school and from Katarina.”

“The police officer, right?” Lita asked.

Mina nodded. “From Interpol,” she said. “Back before I learned that law enforcement isn’t really equipped to deal with the threats we’re up against.”

“Yeah,” Lita said. “They just get in the way.”

“Exactly,” Mina said. “Maybe one day the Scouts can take a trip to London and I can show you around.”

Lita nodded. “That would be great,” she said. “We’ll get Amara and Michelle to pay for it.”

“What?” Mina asked. “That’s a little presumptuous.”

“Their families are loaded,” Lita said. “We’d have to save up a long time to afford a trip to London.”

“I wouldn’t be opposed to them paying,” Mina said. “But I’m not about to suggest it.”

“Of course not,” Lita said. “I was just joking. Mostly. I like Michelle and Amara.”

Mina nodded. “How do you think it’s going with Serena and Amy?” she asked.

“Serena is probably making a mess unpacking,” Lita said. “Some things change but that girl is still a tornado.”

“And Amy is probably right there patiently helping her organize,” Mina said with a laugh. 

“Well, we’d all be a bit lost without Amy’s patience and organization skills,” Lita said. “Besides, if Serena and Rei had roomed together then they would be at each other’s throats already.”

“Sadly true,” Mina said.

“Do you think we’ll be alright?” Lita asked.

The question caught Mina off guard. “You and I?” She asked. “Of course. We’re going to be great roommates. I promise that I’ll always try to talk out any problems I have.”

“Oh, yeah me too,” Lita said. “But I actually meant the Sailor Scouts. We made it work in middle school and high school but this is college. Are we going to be able to fight evil and pass our classes?”

“Oh!,” Mina said and blushed slightly. “Good question. I think it’s going to be tough but we’ve been through a lot together. There’s no way we’ll quit.”

“Yeah,” Lita said. “Sailor Scouts never say die!”

Under the Helm of Soul – A Ronin Warriors Story

April 25, 2022

Mia sat by the fire and stared at her hands. Sounds around her seemed so distant and muffled and she just focused on her hands. She was still quite a bit shaken and disbelieving about what had happened but everybody else confirmed it. It was hard to match up the feeling of unreality with what she knew to be true. She thought that any moment she would wake up and it would all be a dream but she also knew that was unlikely. She felt a hand on her shoulder shaking her a bit and she slowly surfaced from the deep pool of her own thoughts and emotions.

“Huh?” Mia said softly, looking up at her friends. Ryo removed his hand from her shoulder.

“Just a little worried about you, Mia,” Kenta said with that easy smile of his. “I think you checked out at some point in the conversation.”

“You definitely look checked out,” Cye said. “Are you alright? Do we need to table this discussion for later?”

“No, I guess I’m alright,” Mia said. “I’m just very overwhelmed by all of this. I’m having trouble trying not to think so much.”

“I believe that it was that way for all of us,” Sage said. “At least, it was that way for me. Overwhelmed with power and purpose and magic. It is indeed difficult to navigate.”

Ryo sat back down. “Yeah, you end up trying to make sure that you’re riding the magic and it’s not riding you,” he said. “My experiences with the Armor of Wildfire and the Armor of Inferno have proven how powerful this stuff can be. Sometimes when I think about it, it really scares me.”

“It scares you?” Mia asked. “You’ve never said that before. How can you do the things that you do then? How can you be a hero?”

“Because the world needs me,” Ryo said. “The world needs us.”

“We’re uniquely suited to confront the horrors unleashed from the Nether Realm and their allies here on Earth,” Sage said. 

“We can’t walk away from our responsibilities,” Cye said. “I could never live with myself, seeing the faces of all the people we failed to protect.”

“That’s right!” Kenta said. “We’re the only ones who can make a difference. The Ronin Warriors!” He stood from his street as he cheered almost like a cheerleader. His excitement made Mia smile and, although some of the others may have rolled their eyes, they smiled too.

“Not the only ones anymore,” Sage said. “There’s a new player among us.”

Mia blushed and shook her head. “I still can’t believe that I was actually wearing armor. After studying so much of my grandfather’s research and watching you five, it was mind-blowing to be right there with you on the battlefield.”

“You looked good out there,” Ryo said. “Like you belonged. If you hadn’t jumped into the action, we would be toast.”

“Worse than toast,” Kenta said. “We were just about done for.”

“Thoughts, Rowen?” Sage asked.

Rowen was deep in thought. “Not quite yet,” he said. “I’m thinking.”

“Well, how did it happen?” Cye asked. “You know all of our origin stories. What’s yours?”

Mia smiled. “It wasn’t all that different from your stories,” she said. “I saw all of you in danger, at the mercy of Lady Kayura and the Four Seasons armors. I told Yuli to run but, for some reason, I couldn’t run myself. I could not heed my own warning. Instead, I stepped toward you and in a flash, I was surrounded by pure white light and then I was standing there in my own armor and carrying a shield. I instinctively knew how to cast the spell.”

“A spell that instantly healed all of us and repelled our enemies,” Sage said. “It was amazing.”

“I’m ready to speak,” Rowen said.

“Go ahead, buddy,” Kenta said.

Rowen cleared his throat. “Well, we know that our armors and the armors of the seasons come originally from the magic of Talpa. They were created by The Ancient One and every bit of information we have, which mostly comes from Mia and her grandfather, says that only nine armors were made.”

“Could we have incomplete information?” Mia asked. “It was a difficult subject to research until you all showed up and proved the armors were real.”

“I don’t think so,” Rowen said. “The research was thorough. I have three theories and correct me if I’m wrong, Mia.”

Mia nodded. “I’m all ears,” she said.

“The first is that The Ancient One hid this armor as a failsafe. Seeing as how the Seasons Armors have been corrupted and all but reclaimed, he feared the same might happen to this tenth armor and so he somehow kept it out of the legends. Second, this armor was created by our great need for it in the moment and by Mia’s compassion and knowledge of the armors. Third, it is something else separate from the original armors.”

“All of those are valid theories,” Mia said. “How do we know which one is the correct one?”

“It doesn’t really matter,” Ryo said with a shrug.

“That’s uncharacteristically rude, Ryo,” Cye said.

“Ryo is actually correct,” Rowen said. “There is no way to figure out where the armor came with unless we receive further information. The point is that we have it now and it is an asset for our team.”

“Exactly,” Ryo said. “Which means that we have to train you, Mia.”

“Train me?” Mia asked. “I’ve never really fought anybody before.”

“Probably why you got a shield,” Kenta said.

“Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through everything,” Cye said.

“The other question is what to call it,” Rowen said.

“The Armor of Soul,” Mia said. “I’m sure of it.”

Red Rover – A The Mentalist Story

April 21, 2022

Madeleine Hightower sat and sipped a beer. The flights to Indonesia had been a long ordeal consisting of three layovers. The drive to the beachside village of Kuta had been relatively blissful. Still, she had not wanted to travel nearly around the world but here she was. There was no way she was traveling so far and coming back empty-handed. She was not risking being away from her family again to fail at the new mission. Red John was finally confirmed to be dead and she was proud of Jane for carrying out the deed. For once, the future seemed brighter and it was alright to have a little hope..

Erica Flynn walked into the bar and waved down the bartender to order. She was wearing a beautiful dress which probably cost more than Hightower’s whole wardrobe. Erica’s designer sunglasses hid her eyes but Hightower knew that the woman would be casing the whole bar. She had read Flynn’s file back in the CBI days, she knew how calculating the woman was.

Erica walked by her table and stopped short. “Agent Hightower, is that you?” she asked. “What a surprise! It’s been a long time.”

Hightower rolled her eyes. “You damn well knew I was here as soon as my plane touched down,” she said. “You’ve got eyes everywhere. I know how you behave.”

Erica smiled and dropped the pretense. “I knew before you touched down,” she said. “I still have friends back home.”

“I’m sure you do,” Hightower said. “Eyes and ears everywhere you can get them. You like to be in control of the narrative.”

“I’m not sure if that’s an accurate assessment or not,” Erica said with a sly smile. “I hear that I’m hard to pin down. Harder to catch.”

Hightower rolled her eyes again. “Obviously,” she said. “You escaped prison even with Patrick Jane watching you. Would you sit down already?”

Erica shrugged and seemed to consider it. “I’m not sure whether or not it’s worth my time to sit down,” Erica said.

“But it was worth it to swing by and taunt me,” Hightower said.

“Taunt you?” Erica asked with a tiny laugh. “You make me sound cruel. It’s not my fault that we’re well out of your jurisdiction and that we’re presently in a country that lacks an extradition treaty with the United States.”

It was Hightower’s turn to smirk. “Oh, your eyes and ears didn’t tell you?” she asked. “The CBI has been dissolved. I turned in my badge well before that. I’m no longer in law enforcement.”

A momentary frown appeared on Erica’s face but she was soon smiling again even though some of the genuine amusement had disappeared. “I hadn’t heard that,” Erica said. “I’ll admit that much. You’ve given me a genuine surprise. That’s rare. It makes me more intrigued to know what you’re doing here.”

“Well, now that I’m not official, I could haul you back to the US for fun or money,” Hightower said. “Lock you in a trunk and pay somebody off to smuggle you back home and deliver you back to the prison system.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” Erica said. “I’m sure you have better things to do with your time.”

“I have to say it’s tempting,” Hightower said. “To see the look on your haughty face when I close the lid on you. To see you back in chains.”

Erica stayed silent and kept her face pleasantly neutral.

“But you’re right, that’s not why I’m here,” Hightower said. “I’m here to offer you a job.”

Erica laughed. “Me? A job?” She asked. “I can’t imagine what you could offer that would be anything more than amusing.”

“It’s not an offer from me,” Hightower said. “If I had my way, I would have let you drift out here and con your way into getting rich as you play with people like puppets. This offer comes from Walter Mashburn.”

Erica’s eyes widened slightly, showing that she recognized the name. It also seemed to spark a little bit of desire. “Walter Mashburn?” she asked. “Now you have my attention.”

Hightower nodded. “I thought so,” she said. “Mashburn is putting together an extra-legal task force to help hunt down the remnants of the Blake Association. Red John was their leader and founder but he’s dead now but the Association is still out there.”

“Red John?” Erica asked. “Will Patrick Jane and his team be there?” She got really excited when saying Jane’s name.

“No,” Hightower said. “Patrick Jane is in the wind and the rest of the team has been scattered. Mashburn has selected decidedly less conventional team members. He even managed to deprogram and recruit Kristina Frye.” She would be lying if she said she did not enjoy seeing the disappointment in Erica’s eyes.

“I’m not sure why I would be interested then,” Erica said. “Let’s be honest.”

“The thrill of the chase?” Hightower asked. “The challenge? It must be somewhat boring out here.”

“There are things to do wherever I am,” Erica said. “But I must admit the idea is somewhat interesting.”

“Then you’ll do it?” Hightower asked.

“I’m not traveling back into the country in a trunk,” Erica asserted.

“We can negotiate that,” Hightower said with a smirk.

Qurac Mission – A DCEU Suicide Squad Story

April 20, 2022

Lyle Bolton slammed the door shut and slumped down as he leaned against the wall. This had been somebody’s apartment at some point but it was half-destroyed. The Quracan Civil War had gotten beyond intense. Usually, nobody cared about this sand trap except for a few terrorist attacks on Metropolis back in the day. The only reason the US Government cared now was that the civil war was threatening oil reserves. The direct involvement of US Armed Forces could have ignited another World War so, as usual, they had come crawling to Amanda Waller.

Waller was the queen of the black ops and, although it wasn’t pretty, she had taken credit for organizing teams that had eliminated the threats of The Enchantress and Starro. She had quickly formed a new version of Task Force X (aka The Suicide Squad) to confront this new threat. With Rick Flag dead, she had pardoned Bolton for his crimes in Gotham as Lock-Up. She had made him a black ops agent of the government and put him in charge of the expendable inmates chosen for the third incarnation of Task Force X. Bolton had tried to tamp down the word “suicide” but things had gotten grim.

“You’re in charge, Bolton,” Giganta said. “What are we supposed to do? I can get big but I can’t really get bulletproof. If I hadn’t pulled Grundy out of the fight, he would have gotten himself blown apart.”

“Grundy come back,” Solomon Grundy said. “Always come back.”

“Quiet, Grundy,” Giganta said but not too harshly. The thing didn’t really have a mind to speak of and so it was a thing to be pitied.

“She has a point, Bolton,” Bronze Tiger said. He had his arms folded but was always ready as the very picture of martial arts discipline. It also made him more imposing but he was up against a woman who could grow to 250 feet and a ten-foot-tall undead monster so he was already third place.

“Let the coach talk,” Sportsmaster said. “Or I’ll put you in the penalty box.” Sportsmaster was the opposite of Bronze Tiger, slumped in a beat-up old armchair and completely relaxed. His mask betrayed nothing of his true emotions but his body language spoke volumes of his cocky yet crafty mind. Bolton absolutely loathed the man and it seemed most of the group agreed.

“There would need to be two of you,” Bronze Tiger said. “Where did your wife get off to anyway?”

Sportsmaster tensed at that but then thought better of it. “Cheshire is on mission,” he said. “Don’t you worry about that.”

“Can we get back to the point of what we’re supposed to do now?” Giganta asked. 

“Absolutely,” Bolton said. “This is just a minor setback. Just a bit of gunfire. We’ll call in for intelligence and move on from there.”

He pulled out the satellite communicator and hit the button.

“Come in Waller,” Bolton said. “Bolton calling.”

There was a tense silence. “Waller here,” Amanda Waller said with a voice devoid of patience. “Is mission accomplished? I’m showing the team in an apartment complex.”

“Mission specs were incorrect,” Bolton said. “A regiment of insurgents is between us and the targets. Film Freak and Stirk are dead. Cheshire and Copperhead are MIA.  Can’t dismantle your BS insurgent government if we can’t get to it, ma’am.”

“Let me have a look at this,” Waller said. “No, not there, near the team. Damn, I actually miss Economos. Yes, I’m showing a regiment. The mission is still a go. Find some way to complete it. Cheshire and Copperhead are still showing vital signs if that helps.”

“I’m open to ideas,” Bolton said. 

There was a clanging sound in the ceiling.

“What was that sound?” Waller asked.

“Something is in the vents,” Sportsmaster said.

“Or someone,” Giganta said.

“Grundy attack?” Grundy asked.

“Hold Grundy,” Bolton said.

The grate on a vent flew off and the colorful form of Harley Quinn burst into the room.

“Ta-dah!” she shouted with a big grin on her face.

Waller sighed. “Don’t tell me,” she said.

“Harley Quinn?” Bolton asked. “What the hell are you doing here? How did you get here?”

Harley shrugged. “I didn’t have anything else going on,” she said. “I figured I could stop the end of the world again. I go where I’m needed.”

“You were not needed,” Waller said. “We hadn’t even recaptured you yet. Damn it! You didn’t bring the Joker with you, did you?”

“I’m done with that creep for good,” Harley said. “You didn’t get the memo?”

“There actually was a memo on that, Ms. Quinzel,” Waller said. “You blew up a chemical plant.”

“I did!” Harley said. “Thanks for noticing. Now, I have an idea how to get past those guys out there.”

“Permission to tie her up?” Bolton asked.

“Very rude, Mr. Lock-Up,” Harley said. “I remember you.”

“Permission denied,” Waller said. “As much as I hate to admit it, her plans actually work. Let’s hear her out. Things can’t get any worse.”

“Hey!” Harley said. “Don’t underestimate me.”

Possible Team Up – A KC Undercover/Kim Possible Story

April 19, 2022

KC Cooper crept through the museum carefully. She and Ernie had worked together to disable the security system, including the cameras. That ensured that KC would not be detected or recorded but it also left the museum with a lot of vulnerabilities that her team would have to cover. This mission was the perfect thing to keep her mind off of her final exams which she had finished taking that morning. Instead of anxiously waiting for her scores, she could go out and try to bust some bad guys. She was confident that she had aced everything but it was hard to be one hundred percent sure of anything. She would have to call Marisa to compare answers later.

“You still there, KC?” Ernie said, his voice transmitting in her earbud. “I’ve hacked into the camera feeds and I can’t see you.”

“Cameras?” KC asked with some alarm in her voice. “I thought we turned the cameras off, Ernie.”

Ernie seemed nonplussed by his sister’s sudden outburst of frustration. “Oh good, you’re still there,” Ernie said. “For your information, I tapped into the cameras so I can see what’s happening and help you out. Only I can see the feed and it’s only be recorded in the van.”

“That’s better,” KC said. “If footage of me sneaking around got out there, Beverly would have to fire me.”

“I’ve got you, sis,” Ernie said. “I’d be more worried about Mom and Dad grounding us, though.”

“Ugh just thinking about them being disappointed gives me goosebumps,” KC said. “Let’s get back to focusing on the mission.”

“Good idea,” Ernie said. “The intel we got says that the Jewel of Antara might be stolen tonight by unknown parties. That information came from incomplete text messages recovered from unknown parties.”

“Unknown parties?” KC asked. “Very helpful information. That means we’re going in clueless.”

“On top of that, I’m getting weird energy readings,” Ernie said. “I’m trying to nail down where they are coming from.”

“Weird energy readings is one of those things that sounds dangerous, Ernie,” KC said. “It also sounds like something you should have mentioned earlier.”

“No way,” Ernie said. “Whatever it is, it’s not dangerous radiation, especially at the low levels I’m seeing. I promise I’ll let you know if it becomes an issue.”

KC sighed. “You’d better,” she said. “Now guide me to the exhibit.”

“You’ve got it,” Ernie said. “You should see a sign for the Greek area.”

Ernie continued to talk in KC’s ear, guiding her through the twists and turns in the museum to get to the exhibit for the Eye of Astara. Thankfully, it was still there when she got there. It wasn’t KC’s style but she had to admit that it was pretty.

“Ooh, that looks nice,” a voice from behind her. “Check it, KP, the Eye is still here.”

“That’s good news, Ron,” another voice said. “That means we’re not late.”

KC turned around. “What?” she asked. “Who are you? How did you avoid the cameras?”

A red-headed young woman smiled at her. “The name’s Kim Possible,” she said. “I’m just good at avoiding cameras. This is Ron Stoppable and he’s just unluckily lucky.”

“Hey!” Ron said, crossing his arms.

“Well, you are,” Kim said.

“I’ve got the skills that pay the bills,” Ron said.

“Sure, Ron,” Kim said with a little laugh. “So who are you? You’re not with Drakken, are you?”

KC froze up a bit. She knew who Kim Possible was. “Me? I’m nobody,” she said. “I’m not with anybody. I forgot my uh… textbook in the museum and I didn’t want to get grounded.”

“Uh huh,” Kim said. “So you’re not a secret agent? You look like a secret agent. What do you think, Ron?”

“Definitely a secret agent,” Ron said, nodding vigorously.

KC sighed. “Ok you got me but please don’t tell anybody,” she said. “I’m here to stop the theft of the Eye of Astara.”

“Cool,” Kim said. “Us too. My old nemesis Drakken wants to get his hands on it so we’re here to put a stop to it.”

“Ok, I guess that can work,” KC said. “I mean, that means I get to work with the famous Kim Possible.”

“Aww shucks,” Kim said. “You could be famous too if you were a less-than-secret-agent. So, what’s the sitch?”

“Sitch?” KC asked.

“What’s going on?” Kim asked.

“Oh, well my team is tapped into the cameras and sensors so we can see whoever comes before they get here,” KC said.

“Unless they avoid the cameras,” Kim said. “Like we did.”

Ernie’s voice spoke up in her ear. “Is that Kim Possible?” Ernie asked. “Wow.”

“I know, right?” KC said, fangirling just a bit.

“Uh, she’s talking to herself,” Ron said.

“She’s talking to her guy,” Kim said. “Like we have Wade.”

“No holograms, huh?” Ron said a little smugly.

KC smiled weakly. Maybe their tech did need a little update.

“KC!” Ernie shouted through the comm systems. “That energy signal is back and it’s stronger!”

KC, Ron, and Kim dodged as green energy slammed into the glass case of the exhibit, sending pieces everywhere. They looked up and there was the infamous Shego.

“Sup, Kimmie,” Shego said. “Who’s your friend?”

Overlook AWE – A Control/The Shining Story

April 18, 2022

Director Jesse Faden was deep in thought. She had gone through a hell of a lot very recently and she was still adjusting. She had spent a lot of her life from her childhood to adulthood trying to find her brother Dylan and solve the mystery concerning the event that destroyed their hometown. She had drifted from place to place, trying to find the shadowy organization that had come in to clean up the mess but also took Dylan away. It took decades to find them. She had walked into the lobby of The Oldest House, an eldritch building that housed the Federal Bureau of Control. She had arrived in the midst of a chaotic extra-dimensional invasion. She had been tapped by the mysterious Board to be the new Director of the FBC. She had spent most of her life chasing the Bureau, now it was her job to defend it.

The helicopter hit a small air pocket and it jostled Jesse from her thoughts. She blinked and looked over at Emily Pope who was holding her ever-present clipboard. Emily looked up from the clipboard and smiled at her. Jesse found herself automatically smiling back. Emily had been instrumental in Jesse’s adjustment over the past few months. They had met mere minutes after Jesse had become Director and they had hardly been apart since. Jesse felt more confident with Emily close by, giving her practical scientific advice. Besides, Emily was easy to talk to.

“Are you alright, Director Faden?” Emily asked. “Some people get airsick.”

Jesse shook her head. “I’m alright, Emily,” she said. “And I told you to call me Jesse. Besides, if I can travel through the Oceanside Motel and the Ashtray Maze, I think I can handle a helicopter.”

“Tough girl,” Emily said and Jesse fought not to blush. “We should be arriving soon.”

Jesse pulled out the Service Weapon and checked it even though the thing took care of its own repairs and kept itself clean. It was something to do with her hands. She still had quite a bit of anxiety but she was gaining confidence every day.

“Brief me again,” Jesse said. “Please.”

“You got it,” Emily said. “We should be arriving at a massive Altered World Event. This AWE had kind of a slow build-up that claimed the lives of hundreds over centuries. It is centered on the Overlook Hotel, high in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The most recent recorded Bureau activity was a visit in the 1970s after the hotel exploded and partially burned away. At that point, agents on site determined that the AWE was dormant. Lately, we’ve received readings that this is no longer the case. I’m not sure what to expect. Interviews with survivors Wendy and Danny Torrance were inconclusive even though it was determined that Danny was a possible parautilitarian.”

Jesse nodded. “Dylan said that he felt a lot of menace from the place even from nearly across the country,” she said. “The thing has trapped the memories of people there. Like ghosts.”

“That’s possible,” Emily said. “I mean, in a manner of speaking. I guess it would be kind of like the hotline.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Jesse said. “I’m not really raring to explore a place like that but if we don’t do this, who will?”

“Somebody inexperienced who will get themselves killed?” Emily asked with a slight smile.

“Cheery thought,” Jesse said. “But probably correct.”

The intercom came to life. “We’re coming up on it now, Director” Ranger Williams said. “On your left.”

Jesse looked out of the porthole on the left and her eyes went wide.

“Emily, the hotel does not look burned down at all,” Jesse said. “It looks almost as good as new.”

“Maybe it put itself back together?” Emily asked. “Altered Items are usually really hard to destroy. The hotel may be no different.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Jesse said. “It’s very creepy, though.”

“I’m not going to argue with you there,” Emily said.

The helicopter touched down in the driveway and Jesse, Emily, and Williams hopped out of the helicopter. There was something immediately imposing and sinister about the building. The three of them stared at it for a few moments. It was only then that Jesse noticed that there was a car parked nearby.

“Emily, were we expecting company?” Jesse asked.

“No, on your orders we’re the advance scouting party and a cleanup crew is still incoming,” Emily said.

“Then who owns that car?” Jesse asked.

They looked at each other and then all three of them approached the car, weapons drawn. Jesse looked in the car and saw somebody asleep in the back seat under a blanket. She knocked sharply on the window. The man woke up with a start and looked at her with red eyes. When he saw her weapon, he moved slowly and deliberately. He rolled the window down.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Federal officer,” Jesse said. “Can I ask you what you’re doing here?”

“You can,” the man said. “I’m just visiting.”

Jesse spotted several gasoline canisters in the vehicle.

“Uh huh,” she said. “Can I ask your name, sir?”

“Again, you can,” he said. “The name’s Daniel Torrance.”


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