Writing Comp Winners Thread



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Writing Comp Winners Thread

Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

29 Nov 2013, 18:25 #1

This thread is for the winner or winners of the writing competition to post a story for all Tavernites to enjoy. The story can be a new story or an old story. It is the winners choice. Either way it will be good [smooth;

Note: Only winners of the comp can post stories in this thread. However, feel free to ask the winners any questions regarding their stories or writing styles etc. I plan to make this thread as interactive as possible.
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Mister_Oz
Superpowered Human
Mister_Oz
Superpowered Human
Joined: 07 Dec 2011, 15:23

18 Jan 2014, 23:36 #2

Okay, I'll go ahead and post a story. This is a one-shot special in honor of Halloween.

I Own Nothing Which Is Not Mine

X-Pansion: Trick or Treat

"I vant to suck your blood."

The vampire's desire was quickly met by a blinding paff of light from a witch clad in lacy, flowy black dress and tall pointy hat.

"Ow!" the vampire claimed covering his eyes and morphing not into a bat, but a young boy with big sorrowful eyes, "I thought you were supposed to be a GOOD witch."

"And I thought you had manners," Juliette McLaughlin, the good witch Luminar, replied without buying into Variable's antics. The shapeshifter morphed again to resemble a well known red and black clad mercenary.

"Oh hell no," Juliette announced taking the stance of a school marm, "You're not pulling any Deadpool garbage on me, either."

"Fine. But next time you need a masterful merc with a flair for the air, I'm not coming to help you," Variable pouted morphing into a sad faced circus clown.

"What's that even supposed to mean?" Juliette asked him as she followed him through the dimly lit and cobweb decorated foyer.

"You know, I gots reams of rhymes, style for miles, I can talk the talk and walk the walk better than the rest of ‘em and still get more done than the Army can do before brunch, sweet cheeks."

"Congratulations, fool, you're scaring me," Juliette deadpanned.

"Sweet!" the shapeshifter exclaimed and ran ahead to the day room in Professor Charles Xavier's eerily decorated mansion, also known as the X-Men's secret base; which was currently transformed for a little Halloween fun.

Smoke machines coughed out another round of fog, clouding Juliette's view of the opposite end of the blood red lighted front room. Faint moans worked their way into her ears as she slowly made her own way further into the mansion. She startled when a hand contacted her shoulder.

"Pity no one has taken you to the ball," a dapper man wearing a white mask over half of his face spoke, "May I have the honor?"

Juliette's heart began to relax as she took up the nattily dressed phantom's arm and smiled.

"Why of course, sir," she confirmed knowing Marvelous was behind the famous facade. She recognized his voice, "You know Variable is having a field day tonight."

"Well, it stands to reason, since well, it's the season," Marvelous frowned under the mask for sounding so corny. Juliette nodded.

They rounded the corner into a lime green lighted hallway that glowed like a Hollywood version of a nuclear spill and passed the Ante Room where a trip wire activated an animatronic skeleton that lunged at the pair from the doorway and briefly danced wantonly in their path.

"Henry and the gang really went all out for this didn't they?" Juliette chuckled as the dancing bones retracted to let them pass.

"It's a good excuse to get one's mind off of the stresses of being a superhero. And I think the evil genius part of him really enjoyed doing it."

"Mad scientist," she added stopping to face Marvelous Mark.

"That would be his doppelganger –– or Sinister," Mark revealed bringing a dark aura over the festivities.

"Right. Don't remind me," she replied bowing her head, likely remembering her own encounter with one Jamieson Dawes and the Dark Mercenaries. [Issue #15] Wanting to lighten the mood again she added, "Let's see if we can scare up some punch."

The library was cast in an eerie bluish glow, and a Tesla sphere, (or was that No Girl?), stood on a Doric column, illuminated by the bright moon beaming in through the windows.

"Are you scared yet?" an apparition spoke softly in Juliette's ear as it circled around the couple, preventing further progress towards refreshment.

Marvelous's hand made contact with the ghost's body, and it lurched backwards.

"You're not a real ghost. You're corporeal," the half-masked man announced.

"Give the man a cigar," the being, now resembling Groucho Marx said and then disappeared by teleporting.

"He's having a little too much fun," Juliette smiled and took the next step leading them to the Day Room where the party was in full swing. A large, ugly, hairy black spider dropped down from the ceiling and kissed Juliette's cheek, which brought an instantaneous slap from her opera gloved hand and a Full Nelson (with four other legs splayed out all over) from Marvelous, who lost his mask in the hold. The oversized arachnid morphed in the lock to what Variable used as his default appearance and apologized.

"I'm sorry, Juliette, forgive me."

"You can let him go," she said quietly to Marvelous, who released his teammate with a glancing whack on the head. Variable ‘ported away.

"Ooh, Speed Racer," Juliette said upon seeing Scotty "Pace" Seafreigh, "How appropriate."

"Target acquired," she then announced upon spotting the familiar crystal punch bowl. The pair eased their way around Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, passed the Headless Horseman and a saloon girl, and came face to face with a Martian couple who walked hand in hand and wouldn't let them between. Their costumes were very well done, and matched identically except for the obvious female shape underneath... Then another party goer jumped in front of them:

"Argh! Cap'n Lightning's me name. Where ye be headin'. HA!" the pirate ship captain dressed swordsman of X-Pansion bellowed at realizing he'd accidentally spoke a pun and then swished his broadsword about, "Beheadin'? Get it?!"

"I think we're going for some air," Marvelous answered killjoy style.

"Aye, walk the plank, say ‘allo to Davy Jones's Locker," Lightning called after them.

Marvelous and Luminar made it to their destination, only to find less than a cup full in the bottom of the bowl.

"Well, we found the problem, it's up to us to fix it," he sighed.

"Just like always," she added.

A mere moment later:

"Gang way!" Marvelous yelled pushing the rolling table, with a flaming Luminar lying on top.

Instantly the other X-Men turned to see what was up as their refreshments rolled out the door away from them.

"Is she alright? What happened?" some of them asked.

"That Dorothy girl threw water on her and she's begun to melt!! I need to get her to the kitchen stat!!"

Once through the library, and down the greenish hall to the kitchen, Luminar extinguished her illusory blaze and gently hopped onto her high heels, laughing, "That was great!"

"Your fire idea was brilliant. Sheer genius," Mark congratulated her as he stuck his head into the refrigerator for punch ingredients.

"Okay, Variable, enough's enough," Marvelous heard Juliette say somewhere behind the fridge condenser's noise. He turned from the appliance and beaned an apple off of the giant creature which resembled some kind of humongous evil praying mantis. Man that Variable was good!

Upon impact, the creature stopped hissing at Luminar and began approaching Marvelous, hissing at him now. It was quite loud in their ears.

"C'mon, knock it off. Your costumes have been great but you've gotta settle down," Juliette explained thinking she was reasoning with her teammate. The creature swung its tail behind it and knocked Juliette off of her ankle boots with a "Hey!"

She grabbed the leathery scaly tail and yanked to get its attention from Mark and succeeded, so she fired a light burst intending to stun it, still thinking it was Variable. The creature kept coming towards her.

"I don't want to hurt you, but if you don't morph to normal right now, I'm going to let you have it!" she warned. The immense insect-like thing was too close for comfort now so she fired a doubled handed highly dense light bolt at what she figured was its chest, but it barely slowed the monster down.

"A little help?" Luminar called scurrying along the kitchen floor as best she could. It grabbed her right ankle and began pulling her until a meat cleaver chopped the being's pincer from its limb, releasing the luminescent witch.

"Sorry, dude," Marvelous said diving over a stainless steel prep table, rattling empty pots and pans in the process, while the creature screamed from the amputation. It's blood oozed thickly onto the floor leaving a trail of sticky plasma behind. It thrashed its tail wildly to try and knock out the two X-Pansion mutants.

"I'm beginning to think that's not Variable after all," Juliette said clicking her booties to another vantage point.

"What changed your mind? Its incredible tenacity for the kill? Hey ugly! Over here!" Marvelous yelled from the top of the stove. The burners threatened to burn off his feet since he'd lit them and turned them up high, "You're going to make a disgusting dinner."

Once the monster was within striking range, Marvelous pulled himself up into the exhaust hood, luring the beast to look up at him, and when it did, Marvelous slammed his legs onto the creature's head, forcing it into the flames of the range top. He let up only when the heat was too much on his own body.

Without Marvelous pinning it to the burners, the monster wearily picked up its attack again, but Luminar swung a cast iron skillet with her adrenaline soaring. The impact sent a painful twinge through her wrists and arms but it also knocked the creature from somewhere else unconscious.

"Holy cow!" Variable exclaimed upon discovering the bloody fight scene. His teammates's costumes were shredded and soiled but , although they were recuperating from the battle, they seemed otherwise unhurt, "I was wondering what was taking so long for the punch. Didn't know you had trouble with the secret ingredient."

The two battle weary mutants glared at their teammate with malice.

"Fine, I'll finish making the punch and bring it back out," Variable offered.
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darktruth
Neo
Joined: 08 Dec 2011, 13:45

20 Feb 2014, 10:39 #3

The Templar

Issue 1- The Captain (Part 1)

Budd exhales in relief as the warm water runs downs across his face and body.
He brings both hands to his face and gently rubs, his stubble rough upon the palms of his hands.
He sucks in a fresh breath of air and takes a step back so his face is out of the stream and the water collides with his well-toned chest.

His eyes lock upon the shower-head, the water that shoots forth from it.
The cold metal that delivers something so warm and refreshing.
He was certain there were some men who would find a poetry in it, he wouldn’t strain himself searching for it. For him it would just be another thought from a well-earned shower.

He feels the warmth of the water begin to drop and pushes the button before him so that the stream of water comes to a stop.
He shakes his head rigorously then turns and pushes open the glass door of the shower and steps out onto a warm metal floor.
His hand grabs the towel from the nearby rack and he dabs himself with it.

He turns to the full body mirror to his right and his brown eyes examine his form.
Budd was a Caucasian man, his dark-brown hair currently plastered to his head.
Some days he isn’t sure he recognizes the man in the mirror that stares back at him, he wishes today was one of them. He wishes he actually was someone else for the day.
Someone without his memories.

He rubs at his eyes and turns back around to an open locker that contains his clothes.
”Are we finally done wasting the water?” inquires a feminine voice from a speaker.
“I’m done,” he replies and pulls a pair of black briefs from the locker. “Not like we can’t get more.”
”No, there’s very much the possibility we can’t get more,” replied the voice. ”We have still received no word on when clearance will be granted. We could very well be stuck in orbit another week.”
“Great,” he grumbles and his gaze jumps to a small window that looks out into the darkness of space dotted by tiny stars.

The Templar,
Currently Running Quiet in Orbit Above Nimbus 2, Zultan System


The metal door slides open with a loud whir as he pulls on a pair of dark blue pants, his eyes turn towards the doorway and the green-skinned, long dark-haired Skrull woman dressed in a bright red form-fitting suit that stands within the frame.
"Not quite decent in here Lin," he says as he gives a small gesture towards the fact he is still pulling his pants up.
"I've seen it all before Captain," she replies as her eyes take a moment to wander his body.

He nods in agreement as he pulls the pants up and buttons them closed, then grabs a belt from a shelf and uses it to keep his pants in place.
"We should talk," she tells him as she steps around him and pulls a grey shirt from the locker. "About today."
"I don't think we should," he shakes his head.
She thrusts the shirt into his chest and stares him directly in the eye. "We must."

Budd takes the shirt from her and pulls it over his head. "What will that achieve? Doesn't change anything."
"We may learn something," she replies.
"Or we may not," he points out. "Look, let's just not do it this year. All we ever get from it is me being pissed off and you getting exhausted. It's not worth it."
"I disagree," she replies.
"Of course you do."

She takes a hold of his chin and holds his gaze upon hers. "Anything is better than this."
Budd gently pushes her hand away. "Just drop it."
"You'd do it for her," Lin says and her hair begins to recede back as her skin turns a pale pink.

"Don't!" Budd snarls in her face. "Don't you dare!"
"Then humour me," she tells him as her hair returns to its length and her skin turns green once more. "It's one day a year. Please, just give me the chance to try."
Budd licks his lower lip and exhales. "Fine. Tonight, after dinner. My quarters with the door locked, the crew don't need to know."
"No they don't," she replies in agreement, then leans in and kisses him deeply for several seconds before she takes a step back from him. "Thank you."

Budd stares at her for a second, before his head suddenly tilts to the side. "Did the engines just shudder?"
"Keela wanted to attempt some modifications," Lin replies. "I told her not to, but as usual she ignored me."
"We've been here a week already, you know how she gets," he says.
"Yes, I do," Lin mutters. "And she would be less like that if you didn't let her get away with so much."

Budd shrugs. "Well you know I just can't..."
His sentence trails off as the ship turns silent and the lights turn dark.
"And that would be our engines failing," Lin says in a 'told-you-so' voice. "Perhaps you should see to that, Captain. Before we fall uncontrollably towards the planet surface."
----------------------------------------

Engine Room

"Keela!" Budd shouts as he descends the ladder into the main maintenance tunnel. "Keela, you better have everything under control or so help me!"
"Hey Captain, what are you doing in this neighbourhood?" calls back a voice, slightly distorted by an electronic interference.
"Oh, not much really," he replies. "I was just enjoying a nice hot shower when suddenly the engines stop. but I figure what's the worst that could come of that? Then I remember that we need them working so we don't die a horrible death!"

"I crossed the main couplings is all Captain, so now I just have to do a hard reboot," Keela replies. "It's all kitek."
"No, it's not kitek," Budd replies. "It's very un-kitek." He takes a breath. "So how long until it's all working again?"
"Oh, should be about... now," Keela says and the engines flicker to life.

Budd rubs his forehead as a young woman dressed in a blue-and-grey full body suit slides out from inside an open panel a short distance ahead of him.
She climbs to her feet and brushes dirt from her front with a three-fingered hand as her head, enclosed within a full-head helmet turns towards him. He can't make out her features past the dome of blue glass that makes up much of the helmet.*
"See?" she asks, the breather across her mouth flashes with a red light as she speaks. "Told you everything was kitek."

*Keela's look is heavily inspired by Tali'Zorah vas Normandy from the Mass Effect series, in fact her name is taken from an expression Tali uses- darktruth

Budd exhales. "Look, I know you're bored, but try to find a way to amuse yourself that doesn't potentially kill us all."
"I wasn't trying to kill us," Keela defends quickly, panic easy to note within her voice. "No, Ekar no. I thought I could fix the energy discrepancy between the mess and the cargo hold. Stop the systems failures every time somebody uses the oven. I didn't think I'd cause an engine failure, although I should have I am suppos..."
"I know," Budd cuts her off. "I'm not saying you tried to kill us, but playing around with the engines while we're using them makes me a bit... nervous. We've got plenty of games."
Keela shakes her head. "Grod always accuses me of cheating, even when I do not. Even when I am not playing against him."

"There has to be something you like to do."
Keela shrugs. "I like the engines, making things. I get very little downtime and so have few hobbies. The only other activity I have time for I am unable to do since my latest suit firmware update caused a corruption of my masturbatory application and I have not yet..." Keela stops suddenly with a gasp. "Please forget what I just said!"
"Already forgotten," Budd replies before he takes a deep breath. "O-kay, I'm going to go... do... captainy things, you keep working on that hobby problem."

Budd turns and nearly trips upon a loose cable before he clambers back up the ladder.
Keela places her hands against the front of her helmet and takes several deep breaths. "Oh Ekar, why did I say such things?"
Her head turns towards the ladder Budd had just left via. "Why did I have to say them to him?"
--------------------------------------------------

Cargo Hold

"We couldn't take another day stuck here," mutters a tall human-like male covered the the green ooze of a Symbiote, the face is uncovered to show the blue skin of a Kree beneath. "We need to do something."
A small brown scaly creature dressed in a black suit jacket with large ears, a pointed face, cruel teeth, and clawed three-fingered hands looks from the electronic clipboard it holds to the Kree-host. "Carvus, please tell me you didn't just come down here to complain. I have work to do, unlike you."
Carvus shoots the creature a glare. "And you cheer us up as always, Grod."

Grod exhales and places the pad down. "Do you wish me to placate your ego?"
Carvus gives a curt nod.
"You're an exceptional pilot, for a creature host to a 'Symbiote' which in fact shows more parasitic qualities. However pilots are only useful when we have somewhere to fly, which we, currently, do not. Now cease your prattling and try not to join Keela in dismantling the ship in your boredom, lest we all realize you're not as skilled as we would like to believe."

Carvus blinks at Grod. "That wasn't helpful."
"Wasn't really trying to be," the creature replies as it picks the pad back up.
Grod just begins to log the reference number on a nearby crate when it is suddenly pushed across the floor.

Grod turns to look up at Budd with yellow eyes that narrow. "I hate Earthers."
"Love you too, little buddy," Budd replied and rubs the top of Grod's head.
"I'm going to poison your food."
"I'm going on a diet," Budd smiles and claps his hands together and turns to Carvus. "So great news..."

"Attention all crew, we have just received clearance to descend into the atmosphere of Nimbus 2 and proceed to the Engloss docks. Please ensure that we shall pass inspection." says Lin's voice over the intercom.
"And she ruined my fun in telling you," Budd says as he points at the roof. "But you heard the lady. Grod cloak our cargo, Carvus to the cockpit!"
Grod rubs at his temple with long, clawed finger. "I had almost finished logging the inventory."
"And soon you'll have even more inventory to log, isn't that great?!" Budd smiles.

"I hope your children contract the Eight Plagues," Grod mutters as he pads off along the cargo bay floor.
"So nobody needs a hand with anything?" Budd asks eagerly.
"No," Carvus and Grod respond simultaneously as they move to do their jobs.
"Cool," Budd says as his smile fades. "Great."
--------------------------------------------------

The Private Quarters of Captain Budd

Lin stares out the window towards the planet below, her form framed by the light that shone up from the surface. "Have you ever heard the tale of this planet, Captain?"
"You know, Grod always has trouble pushing the right buttons with those fingers of his," Budd says from his seat upon his bed. "Maybe I should go help him."
"It was the final battlefield of a great war between a species born of Kree science and their neighbours whom they wished to 'gift' with their existence," Lin spoke, ignoring Budd. "The war raged for years, and rarely could either side claim to be winning. Millions burned."
"I just remembered Keela needed some help with heavy lifting, and I'm the heavy lifting guy!" Budd exclaims and starts to rise, but Lin gives a wave of her hand which sparkles blue and he feels himself forced back down onto the bed.

She turns to look at him. "Then came an Earther. Factions of the Kree-bred race grew tired of war and so sought help, which came in the form of an Earth male. A mutant, as they are called. The year was 2013 by the Empirical Calender. The Earther aided them in the war and was praised a hero, only to use his status to aid the dissenters and sabotage the war effort and doom them to defeat."
"I don't get the point," Budd says as he watches her move to sit down beside him.
"That war was to turn upon an object of great power, an object the Earther stole as part of the sabotage and took it away, intended to sell it. An item he never fully understood. Of course such items of power draw in darkness and danger, and he was hunted until he, and those that followed him, were dead."
"I still don't get it."
Lin exhales. "The Earther's fate was sealed not by his actions, nor because of the power he held. His death came to him because he failed to understand what it was he had."

Budd rubs at his forehead. "So you're saying I'm the weapon thingy?"
Lin shakes her head. "Not a weapon. That is the point, his failure to understand means we shall never know what he had."
"So if I understand myself I won't die?" Budd asks then chuckles. "Yeah, understanding seems rather unnecesary."

"Just let me do this, for me," she says and places two fingers against his forehead.
"Fine," he mutters. "But be quick. We're on a schedule."
"It will take but a moment."

The tips of her fingers flash with a blue light and in a flash their two minds meld, amidst of blur of images, emotions, and thoughts.
Lin reaches through the memories and grabs at one, of a large machine and needles and intense pain. She holds onto the memory and attempts to bring it into clearer focus, to find it's chronological place.
Then she is torn away from it violently when Budd throws himself to the metal floor.

"That's enough," he huffs at the floor. "No more."
"We need to do this," she tells him. "This is the only day the link is freely open, the anniversary. It is the only day we can unlock what happened to you."
"Maybe I don't want to know," he says as he climbs to his feet.
"So you would live like this for an eternity?"
"We don't know that."
"Don't we?"

Budd swallows as he looks at her. "I know this is important, to both of us. But I just can't do it today. I dreamt of her again last night and I... I just can't do this today."
Lin rises from the bed and wraps him in her arms. "Then we shall leave it."
"You're sure?"
She smiles at him. "We have plenty more years to learn the truth of you."

Budd pulls himself from her embrace and moves towards a pane on the wall that retracts to reveal a small cupboard.
From within he grabs a long green jacket and pulls it on, then from a shelf grabs a cowboy-style hat, large round green-lensed goggles, and a triangular shaped gas-mask.
"You ready to make some money?" he asks as he puts the items on.

"I'm certain there are more... legal ways to receive an income," replies Lin. "Perhaps we could pursue them?"
"Ah, but they're not as fun," he replies as he opens a compartment to retrieve a bulky energy pistol which he holsters. "I was a landlord once though."
"I have no idea what that is."
"I owned a building people live in."
"Why?"

He blinks at her. "Good question." He then moves to an intercom and presses the button. "Carvus, how far out?"
"We shall land in eight," replies the Kree-Symbiote over the speaker. "Local authorities have requested a minor search upon docking. We have approved it."
Budd nods. "Right, then I want all crew in the cargo hold once we land. No need for more trouble that it needs to be."
"You always find more trouble, Captain," says Lin.
He laughs. "That I do."
--------------------------------------------------------

Cargo Hold

"Will they make a mess?" asks Grod as the crew is assembled before the main cargo door.
"Let's hope it's just a basic check," replies Budd. "Not sure our cargo cloaks will hold up to more."
"They better not make a mess," mutters Grod.

"So everybody knows the plan once we're past the check?" Budd asks.
"We know the plan, Captain," Lin assures him. "It shall all be fine."
"Yeah, things don't tend to be fine with me," he replies. "Hell, one time I tried to kiss a girl and the building blew up."
He thinks he notices a shudder in Keela's body, but ignores it. Probably just nerves from the inspection.

A chime sounds to signal a request to board, and so Budd gives a nod to Grod who taps his pad and the cargo door begins to open.
As it lowers a group of five heavily armoured and armed individuals comes into view, their race hard to determine through the armour. The one at the front, however, has no helmet and is clearly a human female with red-hair tied back into a ponytail.

"I do hope this is a quick inspection," Budd says as he steps forward. "Because we've got a but of a schedule to keep to."
The woman doesn't say a word, but instead draws her pistol from her belt and fires a shot that rips through Budd's chest.
As he falls and his vision fades to darkness his mind wanders to an Earth woman with short brown hair and a tendncy to wear the colour purple.

To be Continued
"Don't Act Too Paranoid Or They'll Know You're Onto Them."

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Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

14 Apr 2014, 20:28 #4

As some of you may know, darktruth recently won three writing competitions and acheived the rank of "Professional Wordsmith". As such, I thought I should conduct an interview and allow darktruth to speak about his writing. If you are interested you can find out more by following the link at the bottom of the post.




Miles_Warren: You are one of the busiest writers on the forums. I think I counted 24 different threads consisting of ongoing stories and one-shots. Writing is obviously a passion for you. Is this something you wish to do full-time in the future or just something that will remain a hobby?

darktruth: Wow, even I didn't realise exactly how many I had. Maybe I should go outside and play catch, but then I'd probably just get an idea and rush back inside to write it out anyway. Making my writing something professional is one of those things I've mulled over from time-to-time, and I think every writer does no matter their skill or confidence or whatever. It's just one of those things. It really has me torn, and funnily enough because of one of the main reasons I love writing. Obviously it would be amazingly awesome to be paid to create characters and worlds and make people fall in love with them, but with that comes restriction. As it is now I can do whatever I wish, whenever I wish, but that just isn't possible in professional writing (unless you're incredibly lucky). Ultimately your editor or publisher or producer or whoever is going to decide what they do or do not want to see in it, as it should be since they're paying for it and it is a job like any other. If the opportunity came up I would love it, although the lack of freedom scares me some whenever I think about it. So I guess my answer is 'yes', after-all that, but at this pint I imagine the closest I'll get is if I manage to get enough money to turn one of my scripts into a film, which I will continue to dream about for now.



MW: What can you tell us about the character of darktruth?

DT: Ooh, now that's an interesting one. Darktruth is a lot of things, but foremost he's reminder of why planning can be key in writing. Hahah. His background is a bit of a mess, largely because I never expected to use him for anything more than throwaway humour. He started as a way to 'insert myself' into my tales, to have a character that was me in my tales (something I had seen other fan-fiction writers I admired do). His name is my typical username on boards and the such, and it's one I took from a throwaway moment in an Animorphs book (which I love as a kid). Anyway, I teamed him with Deadpool and threw them into a multitude of bizarre situations in what was my first ongoing series I believe (although it began close to Violet Warrior, so I can't be certain). Eventually I decided to utilise both of them within Violet Warrior and so began Darktruth's development as a character, although he remained largely a side-character. Now, as readers of my works will know, he;s gained his on ongoing alongside a character he developed a romantic attachment to, Pixie (aka Megan Gwynn of the X-Men). He's had a series of adventures both with the X-Men and without, and I have finally been able to explore his past, which is where the issues of not planning things out came in. As his name suggests he has a dark past he tends to ignore, which was eventually revealed to be that he was the figurehead for a mutant hate group. This was a late development on my part, and so I rushed to try and cram it into existing plots and relationships (with mixed success), and it's also a blessing and a curse in relation to how he's developed as a character and what his place is, as it opens up certain paths yet also closes others off. It's often I throw around the idea of rebooting him in some fashion, but then I look at where he is, especially his relationship with Pixie (which is probably my favourite relationship to write) and I just can't do it. Maybe one day, but for now I will also say there's still plenty of plans for both his past and future and major secrets to be revealed.


MW: How would you describe darktruth and Pixie's relationship? You mentioned that it is possibly your favourite relationship to write. Is there a particular reason why?

You know, that's a tough one. I've actually thought a lot about it lately as I've tried to determine exactly where I see them headed and I still don't have a definite answer. I guess if I had to describe it in a single word it would be 'imperfect'. They're possibly not the best match, in fact in many ways it may be the opposite, but despite all that they wouldn't have it any other way, despite the imperfections they love each other indefinitely. There's been many moments I've thrown at them that walking away would be the best choice for either, yet never in writing them have I felt that that's the path they would take. That probably sounds a bit strange to people who aren't writers, I mean I control their every action, but, to me, a key part of writing is the admittance that you actually you don't, and shouldn't, have complete control. For me a great writer is one who gives their characters life, that understands them and feels that they're as real as anyone around them, at that means being true to who they are when you write. I could one day decide to write a story where Megan kicks Darktruth from her life forever, but that doesn't fit who she is, or how she 'feels' when I write her. So they're most definitely imperfect, but don't let that get in the way, nor do they let other people's perceptions of their relationship get in the way. I love that about them. It's not a Disney relationship where they 'live hopefully ever after', nor is it the tragic relationship. Theirs for me is a more 'real' version of 'true love'. It's just always a joy to write that, two characters that have a real deep joy at being around each other, that just love each other. It's invigorating. The age difference between them also plays into my idiosyncratic approach to 'non-standard' relationships, something that long-term readers of mine might know I like to deal with. It's tamer than some of my others, but the difference in age I feel is a major component in why they work, if they were the same age I just don't think they would have lasted as long as their experiences and outlooks as a couple would be completely different. Another reason I think it's my favourite to write is I took my time in building it up, and that's also part of the reason they have such staying power as a couple. I didn't jump into a relationship between them, in fact in the start I never intended the coupling but simply wanted Pixie involved in the series as she is my favourite super-hero. Their relationship started with a simple base and grew over time until they finally admitted their feelings. Part of me wishes I had taken a little longer to build it, but it works and I'm happy with that. Damn it, now I want to go write a story purely of them just being a couple.


MW: Am I right in saying that a lot of your characters (even your own original characters) are centered in the X-Men universe? What is it about the X-Men that seem to fit your stories and characters? Is this simply a case of you just been a fan of X-Men or is there something more?

DT: Hah. Now here's an interesting piece of trivia, I basically read no X-Men comics up until I started writing Darktruth's solo and it was revealed he was a mutant himself. The X-Men films were what got me into comics, yet I jumped straight for things such as Avengers and the only X-Title I bought was Deadpool (or Cable and Deadpool, as it was at the time). But honestly it was a connection that was always going to be made at some point. Using the Avengers as a basic central point for my Violet Warrior (now Violet Avenger) tale made sense, since it was about someone striving to be a hero and the Avengers provided a good back-drop for this heroics, but the X-Men provide something that I see as a key theme throughout my tales. Image. Each of my tales have their own themes and morals, but the one that is in everything I write, that impacts every single of my characters, is how other people perceive them and how they perceive themselves. This is a major part of the X-Men mythos, as these people defined by their genetics must deal with how the world perceives them and also how the perceive themselves. Beast is in a constant struggle against his bestial side and the fear it will overcome him, Cyclops faces having to live up to being the leader he has trained his entire life to be while not being able to look anyone in the eye, Nightcrawler has had to deal with his faith and how he looks, Pixie has always battled a lack of self-confidence and now also the darkness that has filled the missing pieces of her soul, and all of them have had to deal with a society that often views them with suspicion, fear, and hate. That kind of theme is something I think everyone can relate to, even the most self-assured of us have moments where they have to battle how they views themselves or the expectations placed upon them. My characters all have constant battles with this, most often with how they view themselves. Darktruth battles against his own secrets and his place in the world, Allison (Violet Warrior/Violet Avenger) deals with her anger issues, her lack of confidence as a mother and standing next to heroes like Iron Man and Captain Marvel, Amira (also from Violet Warrior/Violet Avenger) has to deal with how society at large views her faith while also trying to figure out who she is exactly within it, Budd (The Templar) has to deal with the fact he's not sure who he is anymore. The X-Men deal with all those things, and so act as a great back-drop to explore as well as being a good place to go for inspiration. Also I am a real X-Men fan now, so that helps.


MW: Is there a particular style of story that you enjoy writing (action, horror, romance etc.)?

DT: That's an interesting question, and I hope the answer is just as interesting. I've never been one that really subscribes to the school of 'genres'. It's funny because I have a background in film (all extremely low-budget) and a major part of my film studies was built around the idea of genres, yet I still don't like the idea of them. They're certainly useful for categorising entertainment, and I certainly feel it is important when doing any form of entertainment to understand them and how their interact, for example the strong two-sides-of-the-coin relationship between comedy and horror, but to rely upon them is folly. I just find the idea a little too confining. Confines are good, I my opinion, they help creativity more than anything. Nothing is harder than crafting a story with absolutely no parameters set upon yourself. I simply don't use genre for those parameters. To me no story can be so simply defined as to belong to one genre. Nearly every story, especially the great ones, is a mix of genres. The action story with the sub-plot of romance and the spattering of humour, the sci-fi with character-based drama and tropes from Westerns. They're all a mix. That being said I do tend to focus more upon the action, drama, romance section of things. I do comedy occasionally but it's rarely my focus, despite my love of comedy. As an example I have a script I wrote as a project for a small group of people I know to film at some point, it was intended to be comedy. My friend who did the first reading when I completed it pointed out that although it did have comedy, I always managed to pull it into either dramatic or romantic areas more strongly. Basically what we ended with was a rather dramatic romantic-comedy, not the original plan but I'm pretty happy with it. The fact I focus on super-hero fan-fiction obviously means that action is my meat-and-potatoes, it's the central point of the story. People in costumes who beat up bad people. But that's just the framework that allows me to explore the characters, their dramas, and their relationships. For me without the drama and romance the action is nothing but fluff, it's all the extra stuff that gives the action it's weight and makes it all the more exciting.


MW: Are there any authors or stories that you are influenced by?

DT: That's a tricky one, and one you'll notice all writers are careful about answering. Obviously we're all influenced by authors and their stories, it's basically impossible to write and not be, but we don't want to say who and then have our readers say 'hey, they took that straight from that writer they said they were influence by!' Which, naturally, happens. Part of that influence is taking in pieces, whether it be themes, characters, locations, dialogue, or whatever, and finding a way to incorporate it into our own work, either more cut-and-paste or more heavily modified. It's the nature of the game, nothing creative can be made in a vacuum. So onto the actual question, my main influences are pretty varied. People like Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Kieron Gillen, Kelly Sue Deconnick, JK Rowling, Tolkien, and Guillermo del Toro have all had a major influence upon me in different ways. Guillermo's method of 'discovery channel' take upon creature design has influenced how I design creatures in my own tales, Kevin Smith has had an impact upon how I write dialogue and romance, Whedon's philosophy of 'make it dark and then make them laugh' is a big impact on my style, Tolkien has obviously had a big impact on my 'Song of Selwyn' but more generally has influenced me with his 'myth creation' stories and approach to whorl-building. Other influences have been the games of Bioware and Telltale, both of whom have proven themselves masters of crafting story with the video game industry. Bioware in particular are amazing at taking what are seen as more generic components and using those to their advantage in building something greater, while Telltale really know how to make you care about characters and get you invested in a story over a short period. Then there's the numerous fan-fiction writers I've come across since I started, it's impossible to downplay the significance they've had on my work. All those other heave had a major influence, but I think the fan-fiction writers I've become friends with have been an even bigger influence. These are people who I've not only been influenced by the works of, but also been able to discuss writing with. I'd have to say the biggest influence of these has been one by the username of Feral Female. She's been there since I first dipped my toe into the world of fan-fiction back on the Marvel.com boards, in fact it was reading her tales that made me want to dip my toe in in the first place. It was she who helped me work over the ideas that created Violet Warrior/Avenger. She's been an amazing inspiration, support, and friendly voice. If I had to pin-point a single influence that has led to my development as a writer it's her, from reading her own tales to her helpful advice on mine. There's probably a thousand more influences I could name as well. But I am certain people could look to my work and see the influences in there, sometimes more overt than others. It's always good to give tribute to the artists and creations that influence you.


MW: I was speaking with kacangpool and he said he is working on a comic book project with you. Can you tell us anything about this project or is it still hush-hush for now?

DT: I'd say it's all hush-hush, but largely because I'm not entirely sure what's happening with it. Hahah. Sadly that's true, right after I came onboard my life was thrown into a bit of an upheaval with having to move and such and I'm not quite sure where things stand on it at this point now things have settled again. Hopefully we'll be able to get traction on it again as it's a project I'm pretty excited about, and also pulls me from my comfort zone which is always a good thing as a writer, but we'll have to see.


MW: Mickey's Tavern recently started a monthly writing competition and you have already clocked up three wins and became the first "Professional Wordsmith" in the process, a rank that people with three or more wins can call themselves. How does it feel to be recognised as a fantastic author by your fellow writers?

DT: It's incredible, just plain incredible. I truly believe that there is no such thing as bad art, so long as one person enjoys it. If one person likes it then they're your target audience and your creation has succeeded. So just knowing people have read and enjoyed my work is amazing, winning the competition is just the cherry on top after that. I honestly can't believe I won once, let alone three times! I was up against some amazing people, including the amazingly talented Feral Female, so I'm just amazed to even get half the votes I did to win. But mostly, as I said before, I think the greatest thing about it is that I get to know people are reading and enjoying my work. They've taken the time to read my work and enjoyed it, maybe even influenced by it, and nothing could make me happier.




MW: Can you give us a hint of any future stories you may have planned in the future?

DT: Hints at the future? This one could be tricky without giving too much away, but I'll give it a shot. As I said before there are more secrets about Darktruth about to come to light, ones that will have a major impact upon his place in the world, but also within 'Darktruth and Pixie' we'll be exploring Pixie more as her role and how she sees herself is shaken. Her tale is going to take her to other dimensions and back to Wales, and she may become a real force to be reckoned with as a result. Violet Avenger will turn it's focus to more classic super-heroics as she gets herself her ow Avengers team, while Agents of SHIELD (not quite connected to the show, yet) is going to finish up it's first major story and have a roster change as a result, then go back to exploring more elements of the Marvel Universe (original creations of myself and other fan-fiction writers I know in particular). Then we have things like Templar, which will continue to explore who Budd is and the future he exists in. I've got my major Australian story-line still brewing, involving the new government taking a hard-line against any 'non-humans', and we'll see that unfold more when I restart my 'Gecko' tale. I've also got plans to do more involving an amoral scientist we've seen in Violet Avenger, finish up 'Agents of Fury' and explore where things go following the events there, something I'm currently calling 'Agents of HYDRA' (I do a lot of 'Agents' stuff it seems), and then there's my plans for numerous one-shots and minis that will hopefully see the light of day at some point and over a dozen major characters I have waiting to be introduced in various tales at some point, and, of course, my Lord of the Rings monthly tale 'Song of Selwyn' has a lot further to go before it finally ends. So, I'm set to be as busy writing as always. Of course some of these ideas may never come to fruition due to various changes (both in my life, my long-term plans, and what happens within the comics and such), but hopefully I'll get the chance to get nearly all of them out there. Then we've just got to see if they're any good, hahah.





Well that’s all the questions I have to ask. If you are interested in reading any of darktruth’s stories you can do so here:

http://z3.invisionfree.com/Mickeys_Comi ... wforum=274
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Miles_Warren
Eternal
Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

14 Apr 2014, 20:29 #5

If anybody has any questions for darktruth feel free to ask. :thbsup:
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xMatt
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xMatt
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Joined: 28 Apr 2014, 11:02

02 Jun 2014, 21:01 #6

I'll post a story. It needs a bit of context, but for the most part, it's a 'done-in-one' story. The X-Men have become less and less fun, I've noticed, over the last few years. Everything seems so grim and militant. So, with my Outstanding X-Pendables series, I really tried to hone in on the family aspect of the series. It's a party the X-Men are throwing because Dazzler is returning from her world tour. But then, why do friends and family need an excuse to get together and have fun?

I hope you like it!
Outstanding Marvel Team Up - your favourite heroes (and villains) all in one fan fic!
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xMatt
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xMatt
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Joined: 28 Apr 2014, 11:02

02 Jun 2014, 21:04 #7

HOLLY

“When you say everyone is going to be here...” she started, as she saw the Mansion coming alive with activity.

“I mean everyone. Even the people you haven’t met yet and probably won’t ever meet again. But I mean, you’ve heard of Dazzler, right?”

Holly rolled her eyes. It seemed like a redundant question: of course she’d heard of Dazzler. “Of course I’ve heard of Dazzler. I have a TV, you know. I live in the western world. Everyone knows Dazzler.”

“Well, she’ll be here. Just finished her thirty-two country world-tour, so we’re celebrating for her,” Elixir shrugged, as he held the door open for Pixie pushing a tray of fruit and vegetables into the kitchen. “I don’t know, find your favourite CD or whatever, she’ll sign it for you. She’s cool like that.”

“What?” Holly shrieked so loudly that Pixie almost dropped the tray of food. “Dazzler is going to be here? I need to prepare! I need to get ready!”

“Yeah?” Pixie giggled, twirling her pink hair. “Does getting ready involve helping me chop the carrots?”

“Why are you chopping carrots?” Elixir asked as he moved out of the way for Psylocke to bring in the cans of soft drink. “You aren’t making your—“

“I’m making my carrot soup!”

Elixir’s face may have been the colour of gold but it certainly looked like it could have been made of stone as soon as Pixie finished speaking. “Nightcrawler isn’t going to be here for the party, so I’ll say it for him. Please, in the name of all that is holy, do not make your carrot soup.”

Pixie scrunched up her face, wrinkles and knots appearing all over her forehead and chin. “I’ll have you know, Kurt loves my carrot soup.”

“He’s a practicing Catholic and the nicest mutant you’ll ever meet,” Elixir answered. He reached over and tapped her shoulder, comfortingly as if he were telling her Santa Claus didn’t exist. Something told Holly that Pixie didn’t know that yet, either. “He loves your carrot soup.”

“It’s not like that!” Pixie squealed, stamping her foot. “He genuinely likes it!”

Elixir gave her the kind of indignant look that said ‘Pixie, you are so silly’, though she didn’t pick up on it right away. There was a beat of silence, the only noise being the clanking noise of aluminium can against aluminium can as Psylocke moved them with her purple-tinted mental powers. At last, the golden-skinned mutant let out a heavy breath and said:

“Pixie, he tells Jubilee that he likes her finger paintings.”

“But those are horr – oh! Right. OK. Maybe there won’t be carrot soup tonight...”

“Tough love,” Elixir whispered to Holly. “It’s the only way she responds. One of the reasons why Wolverine was so good around this place.”

“Wolverine?”

Elixir could hardly believe his ears. “You don’t know Wolverine?”

Holly shook her head. She then leaned against the bench and watched the telepathic, telekinetic, purple-haired, beautiful, British lady placing the cans of drink in a tub. At first, Holly thought it was some sort of chilled compartment: but it wasn’t. It was empty, save for the cans that Psylocke was putting inside of them. Just as she was about to ask, Psylocke leaned up and tapped a finger against her left temple.

Holly was often taken aback by the beauty of the women around this building, but today, Psylocke seemed to have outdone herself. Her hair was so straight and shiny she could have been plastered all over a commercial. The purple sheen matched her lipstick and the purple sash she was wearing over her left shoulder, which came down around her waist. Apart from that, she was wearing a high-necked dress that split down the side of her left leg. Even her makeup looked heavenly.

“No need to shout, geez,” a familiar voice said, entering from the other side of the kitchen. “I’m here, I’m here.”

“This is why I love living here,” Elixir laughed. “The only things we need to buy are food and drink. Watch this...”

Elixir then tapped her shoulder and pointed towards the basket. Psylocke was standing with her arms folded and the familiar voice, belonging to the one named Iceman, both stood beside it. He lifted an eyebrow and his right hand slowly became complete ice, frost and mist appearing around it. Then, the ice spread from his fingers all around the basket and over the top, creating a lid. Iceman then spun his index finger slightly and small circles were formed in the ice block he had created. Psylocke then slowly lifted her right hand, an aura of purple around her purple nails, and the cans moved up slowly so that they fit through the holes perfectly.

Psylocke smiled and Iceman replied, “No worries,” before leaving the kitchen.

“Elixir, those apples...” Psylocke said, breaking her verbal silence. She pointed towards the tray that Pixie had brought in and all three of their eyes closed in on the fruit. Psylocke’s observation became apparent immediately: they were browning on the sides.

“Got it,” Elixir responded. “Who picks the fruit, anyway?”

He walked over and lifted both hands over the fruit. It only took a moment, but Holly was just as astounded by his display of powers as she was by Psylocke’s finesse and Iceman’s coordination. There was a glow of golden light and the apples began to redden as if someone had taken a Sharpie to them and coloured them in, expertly. Before she knew it, they were as ripe as they would ever be, as if they had picked straight from the farm.

“I think it was Multiple Man,” Psylocke answered. “He picked all the groceries, actually. Got it done in about a minute.”

“Multiple Man? Is he really good at maths?” Holly imagined that would have been a great power while she was at high school.

“No, he multiplies. Like, he multiples himself,” Elixir informed her, as Beast walked in. He looked to have a huge potato sack in his hands, as well as an apron over his huge frame. “What’s that for?”

“What would be a hairnet for the regular patron of the culinary arts becomes a full body net for one such as me,” Beast responded humbly. He then placed the net all around his body and Holly stifled a laugh as she watched his fur catching in the open spaces.

“You cook, too? Is there anything those hands can’t do?”

“I’ve never gotten used to texting,” Beast admitted, as he whipped out an old, leather book with a bit of paper taped to it holding the word ‘RECIPES’ on the front. He flicked open to a page with a bunch of post-it notes and rested it on the tabletop.

Holly and Elixir thought it best to leave the master to his work, leaving the kitchen. They stepped out into the living room, with most of the furniture adorned with streamers and banners. Prodigy was reading something out to Kitty Pryde, who was phased through the ceiling, revealing only her lower body. There was a clicking noise and the lights suddenly became a bright green. Then, the lights in the hallway became a bright blue and outside, Holly could see a golden light streaming through the windows.

“Fantastic!” Prodigy beamed, clapping his hands together. “Just as I had hoped!”

Hoped?” Kitty gasped, when she came back down from the upper room. Her face went from tan to red in less than a second. She turned to Prodigy, wagging her index finger: “I thought you had the math figured out perfectly!”

“I did!” Prodigy mumbled. “I mean, mostly...”

They went from the living room to the front lawn, meeting Cannonball at the front, standing beside Storm. In front of them, waiting by the gate with a big, pink sign was Jubilee in a her favourite yellow coat, standing next to Mercury, who was shifting her neck to see through the trees. Cannonball and Storm, however, were both looking up at the sky, which had darkened considerably since the morning. Holly could faintly make out their conversation.

“...ah heard it might rain tonight.”

“And we can’t have that, can we?” Storm chuckled, her tiara-bead headpiece rattling as she did so. Holly made a mental note to ask where she bought it, because it was as beautiful as anything Holly had ever seen: the perfect mix of exotic and class.

“Before you do your super cool, superpower-y stuff, can you – you know, do that thing you do?”

“What thing do you speak of, Cannonball?”

“You know, we’ll be in the middle of a fight and you’ll talk about the fury of the storm and the rains to quench fires. That kinda thing. Ah like the sound of it.”

“As do I,” Storm said. She then lifted her hand and her wonderfully white hair whipped about her neck and back. The storm also lifted up around her feet, picking up the satin grey dress off the grass, revealing her heels, laced up to her ankles. “The very forces of nature bend at my will and beckon at my call! The skies open their eyes under my command and the light of the sun shines upon us! We are X-Men! And we shall party!”

“You’re the best,” Cannonball grinned stupidly.

Holly turned and was delighted to see Raven in the arms of Hellion. For once he wasn’t using his telekinesis to get something done. The raven-haired teenager approached, bouncing Holly’s ward in his arms. He patted her hair softly, the same black as his own, before handing Raven off to the blonde-haired Holly. As soon as he did so, the hair on her head became the same gold colour as hers.

“I’ll never get tired of that,” Hellion beamed. “You ready for the party?”

Holly kissed Raven’s forehead and wistfully replied, “Don’t I look ready for the party?”

“You’re wearing track suit pants and an old shirt,” Hellion observed. “I didn’t know lazy was in fashion, that’s all. Oh, Husk! There you are! I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“We live in the same house, Hellion,” Husk grumbled.

Holly rolled her eyes. “Is he always that much of a scumbag, or is it something he puts on?”

“Well,” Elixir laughed, watching Hellion jog over to Husk, “a little from column A, a little from column B.”

“They’re here, they’re here!” Jubilee and Mercury cried in unison, from the front of the gate. “Quick, tell everyone!”

Mercury morphed her silver hand into a huge microphone and called, “X-Men assemble!” and out poured the closest family Holly had ever been part of, gathering on the front lawn. Professor Xavier was wheeled out by Cyclops, with Angel and Emma Frost by his side. Beast came out as well, a few singes on his white apron, joined by Psylocke, Prodigy and Kitty Pryde. Even triplets came out, wearing a brown trench coat and a green shirt, with the same scruffy brown hair, standing beside a short, burly and angry looking individual with sideburns coming down to his chin. There were more, of course, but Holly was too interested in the car pulling up the driveway to take notice.

It was the coolest looking Camaro she had ever seen in her life, with rims that were as bright as the glitter in Emma Frost’s eye makeup. Stepping out from the front seat was a man Holly had never seen before. He had short, neat red hair and wore a green tie beneath his black leather jacket. Stepping out beside him was a woman with darker hair, but was almost as tall as the man she locked arms with. The man opened the door and out stepped a woman wearing leather pants and a silver jacket, her puffy blonde hair looking like it might have belonged on an album cover.

Dazzler.

“Welcome home, Dazzler!” They all sang at once.

“Out of tune,” Dazzler laughed, embracing Jubilee and Mercury in an arm each. “But beautiful, nonetheless. You all remember Sean and Moira Cassidy, right? I picked them up when I went by Scotland!”

“Good to see you all again,” Sean said, waving to them. Charles wheeled himself over and shook his hand. “Too long, Charlie.”

Dazzler freed herself from the grip of the two teenagers and looked out at the crowd before her. “Now, where’s my favourite Canadian? Sorry, Wolverine, no offence.”

The revelry died down slightly and they all exchanged furtive looks. Holly held Raven a little closer, noticing the discomfort each of them were in. Dazzler seemed to notice it as well, for she looked down at Jubilee and said:

“And we seem to be missing a particularly big, metallic Russian and a three-fingered, furry German, too.”

Her sparkling, bright eyes then turned to the leader of the pack. She could faintly make out her reflection in the ruby quartz sunglasses that belonged to Cyclops. There was a smile on her face, but it was one of uncertainty now, as opposed to joy: “Scott ... what’s happened to the X-Men?”

XMATT PRESENTS...
The Outstanding X-Pendables #12
This One Time, at the Xavier Institute...

ANGEL

There were two places Angel thought he was most in his element: in battle and at parties. This meant that living as an X-Man basically brought him everything he could ever want. Battles came around very often and parties were easy to come by with people of so many different cultures and ages. An hour had passed before the food was completely prepared: Beast was, as with everything else, a perfectionist when it came to food and was not prepared to serve something that wasn’t completely cooked and prepared.

It was worth it. Angel had attended many social events with his family and had seen many birthdays during his time at the Mansion, but none of the spreads quite compared to this one. If he ate with his eyes, he’d be bloated already. Meats, bread, salads, fruits and drink were all before him, just asking to be eaten. Angel was more than happy to oblige: all good parties needed good food and drink, no matter where you’re from.

“Before we eat, I think we should...” Storm said, standing up. She was right next to Angel, and so he craned his neck to meet her gaze. “We should remember those who are no longer with us. Whether in body or spirit, anyone who was once an X-Man and is now no longer here. Nightcrawler is one such individual who would bless this food and this table. But considering he is not here...”

“A wonderful sentiment,” Beast agreed from the other end of the large table. “Perhaps a toast and a moment to remember them. Any dedications in particular?”

They had cleared the dining room so that they could fit in a second table, so that everyone could be seated in the same place. There was just enough room for them to fit comfortably. Though they were close in proximity, Angel couldn’t help but feel that they were closer in spirit than they ever were physically. The things they had seen in the last few weeks, let alone the last few years were enough to bring even the worst of enemies together.

“Ah’ve got one,” Cannonball said, rising with a plastic cup of Pepsi in his hands. “Uh, Rogue.” He then sat down, staring deep into his cup like there was no end to it.

With Cannonball opening the gates, the rest of the flood followed soon after.

“Karma counts, right?” Husk piped up. She looked around, slightly uncertain, her emerald eyes glittering beneath the golden light above. Angel noticed she was wearing the jacket he had bought her from last year, a cuffed, denim one that fit her snugly. She wasn’t exactly one for dresses like the one Pixie was wearing, sitting next to her, which was garish and cute, the same pink hue as her hair. “She’s here, but she’s not ... y’know, she’s not here.”

“Surge isn’t here either,” Elixir reminded them, all a-flutter. Angel bet that if his golden face could blush, it would have been. “She went with Northstar. Just – you know, just saying.”

“Pete,” Kitty managed to say, after a pat on the back from Iceman. “No matter what happened between us and him, he’ll always be a friend.”

“Jean.”

Cyclops said it so softly, Angel strained to hear. But he could tell by the look on Emma’s face that he had, indeed, said it. It was the first time he had even mentioned her in months. But she was there; just as they all were, in each other’s hearts. None of them could forget Jean, or Colossus, or Surge, or any of them.

“This building is worse off without them,” Storm said.

Everyone lifted their glasses and knocked them against each other’s in cheers, before digging into the food before them. Angel had lived in this house for almost six years: not once had Beast cooked a meal quite as well as this. Even Wolverine seemed to be enjoying himself as conversation stirred and company gathered. And Wolverine was a harsh critic, especially with that heightened sense of smell of his.

But heightened smell or not, it was difficult to resist the sweet scent of the honeyed pork and the buttered corn wafting through the air resting in the centre of the table next to a huge plate of badenjan and a side of yogurt, which was an Afghan dish made by Dust and was a particular favourite of the Professor and even Emma Frost. On top of that, Beast had also managed to fry chicken, Southern style (just for the two Guthries) so the herbs and spices were pricking on Angel’s nose as Cannonball made his way through a particularly large chicken leg. Even the crumbs carried with them a touch of the Colonel, though by the look on Cannonball’s face it was better than any kind of takeout you’d find in the country. There was even a smoky, almost charcoal smell in one corner of the room, where Storm had barbecued enough sausages and ribs to feed a small army, marinated in a way that only an African Goddess could have known how.

“Delicious, guys!” Dazzler moaned, taking a bite into some of the pork. “Believe me, after months of eating nothing but Jolly Holly burgers, this is a godsend.”

Angel figured this almost could’ve been seen as a small army. But seeing them like this, sharing bread and meat and drinks, they couldn’t have been anything other than a family.

“You really miss her, don’t you?” Angel nudged Cannonball’s shoulder as he saw him take another hefty bite from that chicken leg of his. “Rogue.”

“’Course,” he mumbled, swallowing his food down with a sip from his cup. “Miss ‘em all.”

“You don’t have to play tough with me, bro,” Angel assured him. “I was with you through it all. We all were. Sometimes it’s alright to let your armour down. Just ask Armor.”

Cannonball grinned at this. “Ain’t about armour, Third. It’s about – well, it’s about them all, isn’t it? Rogue’s not the only one not here. Everyone’s hurtin’ for different reasons. Rogue not coming ‘round to visit hardly compares with some of your problems.”

“Problems? Angel chortled sarcastically. “What problems? But just because your problems aren’t as bad as other people’s, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to suffer. You really liked her, huh?”

Cannonball placed the bone (just the bone, everything else was gone) back onto his plate and rested his hands in front of them. They were still oily and crumby, so they did the hovering act where they weren’t touching anything. “Yeah. Yeah, ah did. Actually ah ... ah think ah still do. Ah really miss her, bro. More than ah thought ah might’ve. Do you get that with your family? Do you miss them?”

“Of course,” Angel nodded, his blonde hair falling in front of his eyes. Angel tucked it behind his ears, thinking it was really getting out of hand. But he couldn’t be bothered, and it was tough finding time between saving the world and managing Kitty and Iceman’s friendship. “I miss them every day. I get the urge to call my dad sometimes, too.”

“What do you do then?”

“Look around us,” Angel said, leaning back in his seat. “Who needs parents when you’ve got people like the Prof and Storm? Who needs sisters when you have people like Kitty and Jubilee? Or even younger brothers, when there’s Hellion and Elixir. We even have a baby, now. All we’re missing is a pet bird and we’re one big, happy family. But replacing girlfriends is a lot more difficult.”

“She wasn’t ever really mah girlfriend,” Cannonball mumbled.

“Doesn’t change the way you feel about her. Or the relationship you have. You were together in everything but Facebook status.”

“Ah ever tell you about this girl ah used to know?” Cannonball asked, starting into a bit of corn. He licked some of the skin out of his teeth and continued, “Her name was – well, is – Anna May Drew. She lived near mah house back in Kentucky.”

“You’ve never told me about her.”

Angel had never actually heard Cannonball talk about any girls he had known in his past, save for Rogue. He often implied them, or referred to some of them, but never in depth. If there was one part of Cannonball that had remained a mystery for the three years he had been living here, it was his relationship past.

“We were really close friends. Like two peas in a pod, right?” He said, picking a bit more skin from his teeth. He wasn’t exactly the most gracious eater. Coming from a privileged childhood, Angel couldn’t help but notice. “We hung out all the time, spent lunch at school with each other. And she was great. And she liked a lot of other boys.”

“Did you like her?”

“Maybe,” Cannonball shrugged, placing the corn down. It was all fluffy, almost like a blonde version of Kitty’s hairbrush. “It was one of those friendships where we could tell each other everything. So she told me all about her boy problems. Ah would’ve told her about my girl problems, but really, ah didn’t have any. And every time she told me, it hurt a little more.”

“What’d you do about it?”

Cannonball drunk from his cup, leaving a ring of oil from his lips around the edges. He played around with the liquid inside, before Jubilee noticed directly opposite from him and gave him a refill. Cannonball said thanks before continuing. “Well,” he sighed. “Ah left. Ah came here. Haven’t caught up with her since.”

“You should,” Angel told him, shrugging. “Give her a call. You can’t replace feelings, bro. They’re always there. The only thing that changes is that new ones form around it. Everything we do is informed by our first love.”

“Well, as far as ah remember, she wasn’t too keen on mutants.” There was a pause then, and Angel knew how much of a problem their genes could be. Cannonball then lightened up and said, “And you know this how, Romeo?” He then nudged him with his elbow. “You got a first love?”

“Of course he does,” Beast said, opposite them, sitting next to Jubilee. He wiped his hands against his napkin and dabbed at the fur beside his mouth. “What was her name again? Candy Southern? Those two were the teenage version of Brad and Angelina, if my memory serves me.”

“It does,” Angel nodded. “And she was great. But it felt more like Tom and Katie. And she was Tom. Anyway, there’s no chance of us getting back together now, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.”

For the strangest of reasons (attraction always was) Angel’s eyes darted towards Psylocke. He was hoping, deep within, that she hadn’t overheard him. But she was in deep conversation with Dazzler at the head of the table and the two of them were laughing with each other. But then, her head slowly turned towards his and their eyes locked. It was a moment that could’ve lasted forever, Angel thought, so enthralling were those dark eyes of hers.

But embarrassment quickly took hold of him, and after an awkward smile, he turned away and back to the others. They gave him wry looks and Cannonball shook his head, laughing, before patting Angel on the shoulder.

He said: “Come on, if you’re not gonna try with Psylocke, we should just find you someone else!”

It was like being a high school kid all over again. The doorbell cut through the chatter and broke Angel’s train of thought, thankfully. Saved by the bell.

“Now, who could that be?” The Professor asked with a smile on his face. He turned to Angel, as if reading his mind, and so did everyone else in the room. “I didn’t know we had extended the guest list.”

The blonde youth shrugged his shoulders, moving his wings up and down as he did so. Ever the party boy and social animal, Angel said, smiling cheekily, “I may have invited a few other people...”

HOLLY

Holly, having grown up much in the same way as Angel (with money to burn and parties marked on every day of the calendar) was not at all surprised when the once-billionaire teenager had said “few” almost a dozen people walked through the front door. Holly recognised them immediately. Years ago, when she had been part of the EVOLUTION program which gave superpowers to ‘regular’ people, she had been part of a superhero team. This team was then opposed by the Avengers – the very people who walked into the Mansion.

She immediately recognised the dark skinned, thickly built James Rhodes, flanked by the flame-haired Crystal and even Jenna van Dyne had come along for a visit. Right by her side was a yellow jacketed man known as Hank Pym. Following in after them were two normally dress people, who could have passed for regular citizens: they were Jennifer Walters and Matt Murdock, she overheard, when Angel welcomed them inside.

“Thanks so much for coming,” Angel had said, shaking their hands, “I have something I really need to ask the two of you. Contract law?”

“Jen’s specialty. Aside from superhero law,” Matt had laughed.

Following them were two more familiar looking people. The first of them was Susan Storm and a young male, only a few years older than she, with fire in his eyes and in his heart: Jonathon Storm, right next to Captain America, beaming at the X-Men, placing his shield on the coat rack.

“Hey, Holly!” Jonathon beamed as he embraced her. “Angel told me you’d come here after what happened at the Raft. I’m so sorry I couldn’t visit sooner!”

“It’s so good to see you again!” Holly had answered, her smile spreading from ear to ear. “How are things?”

“Fantastic,” he laughed. “The acting gig is going well and I’m pretty sure I’ve got a project lined up with Jenna in Hollywood, too. And you?”

“Amazing,” was Holly’s response. “Have you met Raven?”

But there were more still. It was like a ‘Best Of’ of superheroes, that night. A man wearing a purple hoodie, Hawkeye, Holly had been informed was visiting as well, joined by a woman named Carol Danvers. They were regular people, without any powers, but were part of a ‘classified’ military group. Wolverine met them with a big grin.

After the introductions had passed, the new visitors had sat down and gathered in the living room, the winged mutant playing host to them as they ate and partook in the wonderful food provided.

Dinner had finished, at least, for most of them. There were still two X-Men at the table, a male and a female. Both were blonde, with green eyes and fair skin. They were the Guthries, Holly remembered. She had met with both of them of course, but she never really had a chance to speak with them. The living room was populated with many people, enjoying some video game on the new GS4 beneath the (now) red lights. Outside, in the backyard, were even more X-Men, among them, the one Elixir had called Wolverine. He was in deep conversation with Cyclops; both of them standing in front of the garden, listening to Dazzler play her (incredible!) music.

There were so many people that even the front lawn was taken over with bodies. Many of the Avengers had congregated there, gathered around a fire started by Jonathon, to keep them warm. They could hear the rain just outside of the Mansion’s limits, but the grounds themselves were dry, thanks in large part to Storm’s powers. But Holly had remained within and she approached the Guthries, hoping to join them in the conversation.

There was only a bit of food leftover in the middle: their plates had taken them all. Husk, the younger woman, smiled at her between mouthfuls and Cannonball stood and pulled out a chair for her, inviting her to join. It was nothing like the social events Holly had been to in her past. So often she would have to float and drift around the room, waiting to see someone she knew. But here, everyone was welcome.

“Holly, right?” Cannonball said. “Elixir speaks really highly about you.”

“It’s like we’re best friends already, I know you so well from him,” Husk laughed, drinking her food down. “Still hungry?”

“Oh no,” Holly shook her head. “If I ate anymore I think I’d explode! How are you two still going?”

“We come from a big family, see,” Husk replied, wiping her face with a napkin. There were plenty next to her. “And we were raised to not leave a single crumb behind. Besides, how could we leave such delicious food here, all alone? Did Raven get anything to eat?”

“Yeah, Hellion was feeding her.”

Husk chuckled. “That’s good. He loves kids, it turns out. Who knew?”

“So Holly, enjoying yourself here?” Cannonball asked. His smile was as warm as the air around her. He gave off such a distinct personality and friendliness that it was difficult to not be completely taken in by his Southern charm. He didn’t even look like he was trying: a far cry from Hellion, and there was only a year or two between them. “Not just the party but, y’know, livin’ here. It couldn’t be easy coming, especially with everything that’s going on.”

“How could I not? This place has been ... the best ever. It’s like living in an amusement park. And I’m learning new things every day, too. It’s almost a school!”

“That’s true,” Cannonball nodded. “Husk was just tellin’ me that she was gettin’ a bit homesick, s’all. And ah don’t blame her. We haven’t seen our family in over two years. Can get tough livin’ here in the big city when we’re farm kids.”

“You lived on a farm?” Holly queried, immediately interested. She had never been to a farm. Her father didn’t quite have the same interest in horses as she had. Did.

“Yeah,” Husk nodded. “There were ten of us, so we had a lot of room and a lot of work. Ah think ah miss that the most, thinking about it. Working on the fields and havin’ the sun blazing down on our backs. Working in the garden and tending the pool are great, but it ain’t the same as a farm.”

“I’d love to see it. I’ve never been to a farm, see. I’ve never really left New York, aside from moving to the Raft. And that wasn’t exactly the fun kind of experience you’d expect on a holiday.”

“You’d be more than welcome,” Cannonball smiled at her. “Hey, Husk, remember that time Melody was ridin’ in the tractor? She wanted to push the hay from one side of the farm to the other and couldn’t be bothered liftin’ it. So she tied it to the back of the tractor and drove all the way across. Only problem was, the exhaust was blowin’ the hay and by the time it got there, half of it was already scattered ‘round the farm!”

Husk nodded, laughing. “She wasn’t allowed to drive the tractor for a month, after that.”

“So there are more of you?” Holly wondered.

“Yeah. There are 8 of us. Well. 7,” Cannonball said, lower then. He did it almost inadvertently, and if he hadn’t dropped those green eyes of his, Holly never would have noticed. He then wiped his hands, turned towards Holly and patted her on the back and laughed lightly, “You’d love it there, ah think, Holly. Heck, put on a bit of an accent and they’d probably think you’re a Guthrie, too! You’ve got the hair and everythin’!”

“Ah don’t think ah could ever put on an accent!” Holly guffawed, trying her best to imitate the Guthrie drawl. They found it amusing and laughed along with her, and she spoke with them until they finished all the food that was left on the table.

“I’ll take you there, one day.”

“Promise?”

Cannonball smiled. “Promise.”

With the food gone, the Guthries took it upon themselves to start washing. Cannonball shooed her away from the kitchen, telling her she wasn’t needed. Feeling slightly guilty, but not particularly mourning the loss of being able to wash up, she joined the party at the front, standing beside the fire to warm herself up. She could hear patches of conversations all around her.

Hank Pym was speaking to Beast and Moira, the woman that arrived with Dazzler: “You are saying her mutant powers have ... locked her inside the psyche of another human being?”

“Yes,” Beast responded, looking troubled. “We are uncertain of how to treat it. The Professor tried telepathic intervention and it was not nearly as effective as hoped. Worse still, it isn’t something we can operate with and we haven’t been able to find the human she inhabits, either.”

“Troubling, indeed,” Moira joined in, rubbing her hands together near the flame, a heavy Scottish accent coming from her. “Is she showing any signs of illness? Trauma? I’ve seen many mutants struggling with their powers at Muir Island, but I have never heard of something like this.”

“She’ll have fits. Sometimes she’ll project the images her host human is seeing. It’s beyond anything I would have thought her powers were capable of. Tell me, Doctors,” Beast said looking at the both of them, “do you have any idea on how to help her? Seeing her like this...”

“We will do all that we can, Beast,” Hank said, patting his shoulder.

“I love fire,” Pixie said, her arms holding a shawl around her shoulders. “I love its warmth. You know, no one at this Mansion has the power to control fire? Thank God Crystal and the Human Torch are here. Otherwise, we’d be furee-zing!”

“I knew someone who could use fire,” Holly remembered. Her powers were as fiery as her attitude, from what Holly could recall. “I’d say it was cool, but it was the exact opposite.”

Pixie grinned. “So,” she started, nudging her slightly with her shoulder, “how’s Elixir?”

“He’s good,” Holly replied. From the light of the fire, Holly could see a strange look in the dark eyes of the Welsh mutant. The cheeky smile on her face was a dead giveaway. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Gone out on a date with him yet?” Pixie winked.

“What? Why would we go out on a date?”

Holly wasn’t completely oblivious to the attention that Elixir was giving, nor was she oblivious to her feelings about him. He was the first person that she had really gotten to know, indeed, he was the person who saved her life and Raven’s and for that she already owed him her life. For that she would be eternally grateful. And he had been spending more time with her than any of the other girls – right now he was in deep conversation with Crystal of the Inhumans, mentioning something about biology and Crystal was more than happy to share.

He was a charmer, Elixir, and it seemed even alien’s fell for his smooth words sometimes. But Holly saw the nonchalant, jolly demeanour on the teenager’s face as they conversed and he and Crystal shared laughter, before Elixir moved away and started speaking with Jubilee. Her jacket was just a shade brighter than his golden skin.

“Duh, dummie,” Pixie rolled her eyes. “He’s totally into you. Like, he spent that whole week with you when you were in the infirmary. He barely left you! It’s totally ketch.”

“Ketch? Isn’t that a boat?”

“Ketch. Like, cool. I’m trying it out. Think it’ll catch on?”

“I think it might need a bit more work.”

“Fetch? No, that’s from Mean Girls. Thanks for being honest! I’ll get back to you on the word. In the meantime, totally go and talk to Elixir! I’m telling you, you two would be so perfect together.”

“What makes you say that?”

Pixie shrugged. “Besides, he hasn’t a girlfriend in ages. I can hardly remember the last time he took interest in a girl. Since Surge. But she’s not here, is she?”

With that, Pixie skipped off to the other side of the lawn, where Captain America, wearing a brown leather jacket and jeans was sitting on a bench next to Prodigy. The Captain was illuminating him with some war story, or perhaps a critical event in one of the many decades he had lived through: Pixie joined them without caution. Holly couldn’t help but think she was so energetic and excited that she had to be high on something – life, probably.

CYCLOPS

“You should probably slow down on those, Slim,” Wolverine advised, as the two of them watched the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and SHIELD members enjoying themselves in the backyard.

Dazzler had finished setting up the speakers in the background and was playing an acoustic set in the background. Mercury and many other students had gathered in front of her to listen to her play. It looked like story time, except with a world-famous pop star and the fact that they were waving their arms in the air and shining the light from their smart phones. Some even sang along. Cyclops fought the urge.

“I’ve drank as much as you,” Cyclops replied, using his voice to converse instead of to sing.

Wolverine shrugged and stepped off the wall he was leaning against. He was a shorter man that Cyclops, almost a full head shorter, but his spiky dark hair almost made up for it. Despite his size, it was his broadness and thickness that was truly intimidating. And then there was the fact that he could call upon his adamantium claws to literally cut through any known substance on the planet. Including Cyclops.

Wolverine replied, “Yeah, and I’ve got a healing factor. Which means I can’t get drunk. Heals the bad stuff right out of my body.”

Cyclops then turned towards Wolverine slowly, a look of horror on his face. “That must suck. No wonder you’re always angry.”

“Tell me about it.”

“A true ninja,” Psylocke said, approaching them with a glass of water in her hand, “would treat their body like a temple, Wolverine.”

Psylocke was tall, lithe and slim. She moved like the water in her glass, all grace and flow. She treated every movement with the utmost respect. Cyclops couldn’t imagine her inebriated. She had trained as a ninja, as had Wolverine. But there couldn’t have been two more different body types in the entire Institute, Cyclops thought.

“I do treat my body like a temple. A temple of vice and debauchery.”

“I’m surprised he even knows what that means,” Cyclops laughed. “Here, have mine. You’re right: I have had enough.”

“Are you even old enough to be drinking this stuff?”

Cyclops glared at him before Wolverine laughed and walked away, both hands full.

“In Canada I am...” Cyclops grumbled. It was then that the pouting, red-shaded mutant saw Jamie Madrox (one of them, anyway) walking by. Cyclops called him over, and Madrox stopped turning to face him with a sheepish grin.

“Madrox, we’re still getting your mail. All of them. And I mean all of them. Including your subscription to the Sherlock Fan Club and one from the [/i]We Hate Holmes Committee[/i].”

“Ha ha,” Madrox laughed. “I know,” he added, before he continued danced into the Institute.

Psylocke smiled at him and leaned her elbow against his shoulder. Wearing heels the way she did made her almost a head taller than he. She let out a sigh, Cyclops did the same. They weren’t sighs of discomfort or frustration, though. The opposite. Cyclops had never felt happier. It brought him joy to see the joy of others. It seemed like Psylocke shared the same thought.

“By the way, how’s the Danger Room going?” Cyclops queried. It had been months since it had been operational. It had stunted his physical and battle training regime and even though he had offered his advice and assistance, Psylocke often rebuked him.

“It isn’t,” Psylocke shrugged. “Cannonball is good with the mechanics and engineering of it and so he’s been helping me in trying to rebuild it. But it might be a few weeks before we have the holographic display working again. I’ve been trying all different kinds of configurations, but it isn’t close to how we had it before. The damage is getting to it. And besides. It is good to see them like this,” she said. Her voice was soft and smooth, like the velvety dress she was wearing. It reminded him of Kate Beckinsale. Cyclops had no difficulty guessing why Angel was so interested in her. “Good to see them relax and unwind.”

“I keep hearing people call this a school. Do you think that’s what this is, Psylocke?”

“It might have been. Once. We may not be teaching them how to do algebra, or how to read Shakespeare, but I think what we’re teaching them is a little more important than that. The things we’re teaching them in here will guide and inform what they do out there. And Emma, well, she’s teaching them how to be mutants. How to use their powers. But they are learning more here, with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, than they usually do in class. Meeting other people is important. Sometimes I think the gates of this Institute are to keep us in, more than they keep others out.”

“Doesn’t stop others from coming in, regardless,” Cyclops laughed softly. “Something Emma isn’t particularly fond of, but that’s what this place is, right? It’s a place for the disenfranchised.”

“Speaking of disenfranchised, it would seem our winged friend has something he’d like to ask you. I’ll leave you to it.” She then took her elbow off his shoulder, finished her water and nodded her hellos to Jennifer, Matt and Angel before leaving them in private.

“Hey, Angel,” Cyclops said, patting him on his back. “What’s on your mind?”

Angel shrugged, and patted Cyclops on the back in return. He then turned to face Jen and Matt, two lawyers, and said: “Franchising. Business venture. Saving the mutant race. You know. The usual.”

Cyclops was interested already.

HOLLY

The party was winding down by this point and Holly didn’t blame them. It was almost midnight and they were all old and old people got tired when young teenagers didn’t. At least, that’s what Holly said to amuse herself. The SHIELD members had left, called to action and Jamie Madrox had left as well, citing he had just received a lead from one of his dupes out in the city. Jennifer Walters and Matt Murdock had also departed, gone to prepare a contract of some sort under the behest of Angel and Cyclops.

Jonathon Storm had left as well, and it was a sweet farewell between her and him. Jonathon had been kind to her, helped her when no one else had and she was thankful for that. Holly couldn’t help but think that she attracted that kind of help – she was the very definition of a damsel in distress. That was something she aimed to change, now that she was with the X-Men.

With so many now gone home, it meant their number mostly resided indoors or in the backyard. Holly opted for inside. As the newest member of the X-Men family re-entered the Mansion, she heard Hank Pym, Beast and Moira Cassidy descending the steps from the upper room. Husk was with them, and none of them looked at all happy or joyous. The sounds of revelry all around her (Holly could have sworn that she’d heard cheering from the living room, and someone claiming Ryu would always be better than Jin) seemed to stay clear of the scientists and the Guthrie girl.

There was a Scottish accent speaking now, which informed Holly that Moira was speaking, “She’ll need constant monitoring. Ye’ve been doing very well with her, Husk. Karma is very receptive to yer presence.”

“But can she be – fixed? Or healed? Or whatever? Elixir went to see her and there was nothing he could do, either.”

“As I understand it,” Moira responded, placing a hand on the teenager’s back, “she isn’t sick. She isn’t suffering from anything. The problem lies not in the body, but in the mind – and even then, it is more a case of her powers working in a way that we haven’t seen before. At least, when it comes to her power set.”

“Beast,” Hank Pym said in a calculated tone. It seemed like everything he said was with purpose and calculation – like he said it to himself first, to make sure it sounded absolutely correct. “You wrote to me once about the phenomenon of secondary mutations. I recall the piece well. In it, you mentioned a genetic recoding of the entire physiology of the individual: one where that recoding could either regress or progress the mutant power. You also wrote that such a recoding could leave the individual with – well, less than desirable results.”

“Yes. You believe this to be some kind of secondary mutation in Karma?” Beast queried, with a tone of interest apparent in his otherwise growly voice. “Possible. Her powers are developing and if it is a secondary mutation – perhaps categorised beneath telepathic and empathic connection – then that could explain the reason why we may not have foreseen its coming.”

“It also means that we cannae do anything about it,” Moira told them, softly. “It means that this is simply the natural progression for Karma.”

“But if we wait any longer she could get hurt!” Holly saw the determination in Husk’s face, the same kind that was always present in Cannonball’s. It seemed they were similar in more ways than just their appearance. “She is sick! She’s got a huge temperature –and whenever the person she’s in – or whatever – gets hurt, she gets hurt, too! This is more than telepathic or empathic. It’s physical!”

“Husk, I know this must be difficult for you: it is difficult for the rest of us as well,” Beast comforted her. He too placed a hand on her shoulder, joining Moira’s. “But I do not wish to rush into a solution, only to find that it can make things worse.”

“Isn’t that what Elixir is for? He can heal her!”

“His powers don’t work that way,” Beast mumbled.

When she was angered, her voice became even more of a heavy drawl. “He heals people! That’s what he does, right? What do you mean they don’t work that way?”

“He takes the pain,” Holly interjected, when Husk finished. Their four heads turned towards her all at once. It would have been funny if it weren’t so serious. She had already spoken, and now she could hardly just leave. So she kept going. “He doesn’t get rid of it. It becomes his.”

Husk furrowed her brow in confusion at first. At least, that’s what Holly thought it was. But she soon knew better. It was the kind of face that Holly had pulled many times in her youth, especially when she was living with her family back in California. It wasn’t confusion. It was sorrow. Holly rushed up the steps and embraced Husk.

“Ah hate seein’ her like this,” Husk admitted softly. Holly heard no sobs and felt no tears against her exposed skin. Instead, she could feel the tightness and strength in Husk’s arms. She may have been able to shed her skin, but she couldn’t shed her emotions. “She used to be so full of energy and life and now – now she’s just—“

“It’ll be alright,” Holly said, patting her back. “The X-Men help people, right? That’s what they do. So they’ll help Karma.”

“I will stay here, Husk,” Moira said, suddenly. “I’ll help in any way possible.”

“You and Sean could stay here at the Mansion,” Beast informed her. “I’m sure the Professor would welcome you both here.”

“It isnae that,” Moira replied. “Sean’s found a job here with Emma Frost’s sister. He’ll be staying somewhere else in the city. I’ll be joining him there, but that disnae mean I cannae be here, too. And ye told me what happened with Cecilia. I’ll help. I promise.”

“Thank you,” Husk said, letting go. “Thank you all so much.”
Outstanding Marvel Team Up - your favourite heroes (and villains) all in one fan fic!
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Joined: 03 Oct 2013, 20:56

30 Jul 2014, 22:51 #8

As June's winner, I've been told I can post a story. I think I'll post a chapter from my Marvel SW: Hulk and as a bonus I'll throw in a picture I made that involves another chapter. [Note: the image is a combination of a background of a planet (the Earth) and some images of CAD models I made)]
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Joined: 03 Oct 2013, 20:56

30 Jul 2014, 23:09 #9

After their science transport was captured by an Imperial Star Destroyer, Gen. Thuholt Ross (an officer in the Rebel Alliance) and his daughter Beatrice (a scientist) were interrogated by the ship's captain, an old acquaintance of his. Understanding that there was an isolated "mystery" patient in the Alliance transport's medical bay (secretly Dr. Bruce Banner, one of the Alliance's greatest minds), the star destroyer's captain, ordered to have him "dissected"...


Chapter Six

A sealed section of the prisoner holding cells on the star destroyer Cripper’s Arm, a few minutes earlier…


Dr. Bruce Banner sat on a bunk staring at a pair of stormtroopers stationed outside of his static shielded cell. It was only a temporary holding cell from what he had figured. After the scientific transport he had been on had been captured by the Empire as it tried to escape Heyweh Bah, the ship’s occupants were herded out of the Alliance’s ship and into a holding area. Since Bruce had been in a sealed medical bay, the Imperials wisely kept him isolated and had ushered him into the ray shielded holding cell where he was forced to don a purple colored prisoner uniform.

Outside of the cell, Bruce could easily see the others from the Rebel Alliance’s science team being ushered from other holding cells to what he figured to be a more secured prison bay within the mile long Imperial warship. Among them, Bruce managed to catch a glimpse of Beatrice Ross and her father who were separated from the others and taken under guard in a different direction. That worried Bruce even more than he already was. General Ross wasn’t in uniform and due to the Alliance’s security protocols, the entire team had been assigned aliases and the mission had been given a cover story to downplay its importance. Evidently, General Ross had been identified and unfortunately, Beatrice (still wearing the pajamas she had been sleeping in) had somehow been associated with him.

A black colored protocol droid approached the stormtroopers guarding the cell Bruce was in and began muttering something to the white armored soldiers. Because of the crackling sound made by the ray shielding covering the cell’s narrow doorway, Bruce couldn’t overhear what was being said. By the way one of the soldiers gave Bruce a glance, he could tell the conversation was about him.

It sickened Bruce that the Imperials were singling him out. It might have been because of how he had been sealed off from the others on the Alliance transport and they figured he was either radioactive or infected with something communicable and dangerous. That was the best case scenario. The worst case scenario would have been that the Empire had identified him as one of the Alliance’s top scientists. Bruce had gotten word that one of the Empire’s top engineers had defected to the Alliance not too long ago and could imagine the tyranny’s delight as they found themselves in possession of one of their enemy’s greatest minds.

As Bruce watched, the stormtroopers walked away from the cell’s entrance leaving the protocol droid seemingly standing guard in his place. Carefully, Bruce stood from his bunk and walked over to the entrance and peered out the best he could careful not to touch the sheet of shimmering energy sealing it. Across the holding area, he could see that all of the other stormtroopers, officers and techs were being ushered out of the area.

”Well, that’s odd,” he noted to himself, wondering why the area was seemingly being evacuated. Quickly, he surmised that the sudden troop movement was due to him and that the Empire (conveniently) had chosen the “hey, that guy’s got something contagious” option over the “Hey, that’s Dr. Bruce Banner.” The ray shielding covering the cell door would prevent transmission of high energy particles or microbes, so they had obviously been taking precautions to protect themselves from whatever he was supposedly carrying or emitting. It was evident that the sudden removal of all organic personnel from the area meant that he was going to be ushered out of the cell (hopefully) or they’d at least deactivate the ray shielding.

Almost as if the Imperials read his mind, a pair of doors opened and a quartet of droids entered the holding area. He recognized two to be Imperial medical droids but the other two he couldn’t recall ever seeing a design for. They were slightly larger than humans and sported multiple arms each tipped in different claws and tools. As they approached his cell, Bruce tried to deduce their function, but it didn’t matter: whether they were some sort of new medical droid, military drones or part of the Imperial janitorial staff, they didn’t look too friendly.

“Step away from the doorway, prisoner,” the black colored protocol droid ordered loudly, its voice heard above the crackling sound. Bruce most willingly complied as the larger droids extended their multiple tool tipped arms in his direction. Within a few moments, the noisy static shielding deactivated - a relief to Bruce’s ears.

“You are to follow these units, prisoner,” the black droid ordered. “Any attempt to flee and/or escape will be dealt with quickly and painfully.”

As if on command, the two larger droids lifted several of their arms and different tools began to spin, open/close or snap.

“I understand,” Bruce said raising his hands fearfully.

“Exit the cell, prisoner.”

Bruce complied, hands raised. As he did, the black droid stepped aside and the two medical droids approached him, waving different sensor arms at him. The larger droids stepped behind him.

“Well, if it matters anything, I feel fine,” Bruce told them. “No aches in my joints. No hair loss. No burns or unexpected bruising. No nausea or…yeagh!”

One of the larger droids jabbed something in his back. It was sharp, but not enough to cut through the purple jumpsuit he was wearing and he checked his back with one of his hands just to be sure. Right after that, the two medical droids began rolling forward, their sensor arms still scanning him. The sound of the larger droid’s clunky metal footsteps behind him motivated him to keep pace with the medical droids he was being forced to follow.

Inwardly, Bruce felt curiously eager to see the star destroyer’s medical bay. While the Alliance had top notch medical training and technology for its sentient staff and superb medical droids, he wondered what the Empire might have been doing differently. If, by chance, the Empire was doing something better, he would pass it on to the Alliance.

Of course, that was in case he and the others could escape. He hoped Gen. Ross was coming up with a plan to do just that.

As the medical droids reached a first set of doors, they opened and Bruce was ushered into a short hallway past several upon which the bodies of several Alliance soldiers had been laid. They were evidently dead and each of them had laser burns on their uniforms. Bruce had seen some of the very same men just a few minutes earlier when they had been ushered out of their holding cells.

Bruce clenched his teeth. They were unarmed prisoners and the Empire had them executed.

“Where are we going?” Bruce asked, fearfully.

“To a secured scientific laboratory,” one of the medical droids asked.

“To get a more thorough medical examination?” Bruce asked.

“You are to be thoroughly examined to determine the cause for your isolation on the Rebel transport,” the same droid answered.

“Radiation exposure,” Bruce explained with a shrug.

“There is no evidence of radiation exposure,” the droid told him.

“The 2-1Bs on our transport would have told you that,” Bruce told the droid.

“The rebel droids are being disassembled and analyzed for any pertinent information and/or data important to the Empire,” the medical droid said as they entered a turbolift. Its doors closed behind the larger tool droids and it silently carried them to a different level. “The Rebel droids revealed no credible data on your condition.”

“Yeah, they said I stopped emitting radiation after a while,” Bruce told the droid. “I don’t think I…”

The turbolift stopped and its doors opened. As it did, Bruce realized there was a lab beyond filled with machinery, equipment and droids. No human personnel were in sight, unsurprisingly. Bruce couldn’t help curiously looking around the lab at the equipment. Disappointingly, he couldn’t identify anything he couldn’t recognize.

One of the larger droids jabbed him in the back again and Bruce quickly followed the medical droids into the lab toward a small room whose doors opened revealing a single droid within it standing next to a table. As they made their way to it, Bruce noticed a pile of Yuuzhan Skrull artifacts laying on the floor being sorted by a pair of spindly analysis droids and placed in bins along the wall. He easily surmised that the Imperials had recovered the artifacts from the debris that once was the gamma beam weapon mountain. To his relief, he knew the Empire wouldn’t be able to get much valuable information from the pieces of bio-technology they were in possession of. They’d need the yammosk for that and the bio-brain was dead – killed when the weapon exploded after overcharging. He still wondered why he wasn’t dead from either the explosion, the intense gamma radiation or the mountain falling on him.

As the medical droids approached the doorway to the smaller room they parted to the left and right as the larger droids directed Bruce to enter the room. After he entered, the larger droids followed him. Turning to look back, Bruce curiously noticed that the medical droids were wheeling back to the turbolift.

“The subject is to position itself onto the table,” the room’s previously sole occupant ordered. It was a tall, gray colored cylindrical droid with panels covering its surface, evidently covering dozens of arms.

“Why do I need to get on…yagh!” Bruce started to ask when the two larger tool droids grabbed a hold of him and lifted him in the air pushing him onto the table face up.

“Resistance is futile,” the laboratory droid said, extending several arms as a cabinet behind it opened. Each of the arms took out several empty metal pans as a quartet of suction hoses descended from the ceiling guided by small mechanical arms. Last of all, a spherical sensor pod was lowered from the ceiling as well pointing in Bruce’s direction.

“Wh-what are you doing?” Bruce asked in fear as the large pair of droids held him down with some of their clawed hands. “What kind of medical procedure is this?”

“Dissection,” the droid stated.

“What?!” Bruce asked, trying to wrench his arms and legs from the larger droids’ vice-like grips. They didn’t even budge a centimeter. “Why?”

“To determine the cause of the Rebel concerns over the subject,” the lab droid replied then blurbled something to the tool droids in an electronic language. The sensor pod began to lower even closer.

“Hey, I have a theory as to what happened and why they…no, stop!” Bruce started to say in a panic as the larger droids raised several of their arms tipped in sharp looking claws, and cutting tools. Bruce again looked at the pans and the suction tubes, realizing the pans were for his body parts and the suction tubes would siphon up his blood and bodily fluids.

Cutting blades began to spin and lower in his direction.

“No!!” Stop!! Please listen to me!”

The droids didn’t listen. Sickeningly, Bruce watched the first blades lowering toward his chest.

“Stupid droids, STOP!! I can help answer your questions, I…”

They wouldn’t listen.

Images of the blade cutting through skin and muscle and through his ribcage ran through his mind. No anesthesia. The thought of the intense pain he would endure surged through his mind and he convulsed, arching his back sending his chest up toward the spinning blades. Seemingly blood flowed to his head causing him to diminish his ability to see and hear as he strained and resisted.

“Restrain the subject,” the lab droid said. “Sensor scan will not initiate until the subject is motionless.”

Bruce lifted his head and slammed it down angrily, looking up at the medical droid, clenching his teeth.

“Stupid, stupid droid!”

Suddenly, the laboratory droid detected a very noticeable shift in the subject’s skin tone as he again pulled against the tool droid’s grips. Incredibly, the droids found themselves having to strain to hold him down.

“Yeagh!!”

Bruce convulsed again. This time, Bruce sensed as if his entire body – every cell in his body – was going to explode in anger. As the droids watched in utter fascination, the human’s body lurched and swelled. As the droids fought to hold him down, the lab droid pointed at Bruce’s neck with one of its free arms.

“Sever the subject’s carotid artery,” it ordered one of the tool droids. It immediately complied bringing one of its already spinning saws over to the human’s neck and attempted to cut through his skin. Surprisingly the saw failed to do so.

Bruce continued to swell, his muscles convulsing and ballooning within his skin. The pain was intense, but it was drowned out by his swelling rage.

“STUPID DROIDS!!”

Bruce lurched again and the purple jumper he was wearing began to rip apart as he continued to swell and grow. The droids continued to grip him and, in a last ditch effort to restrain him, tried to cut through muscle and tendon with all the tools at their disposal, all to no avail. In response, Bruce brought his arms together and the two tool droids found themselves plowing face first into one another.

“YEEEEAAAAAARRRRRRRGGHHHH!!!”

The laboratory droid had seen a lot in his day. Not much seemed to fascinate him anymore it seemed. This subject and its transformation, on the other hand, had seemed to revive his sense of curiosity and delight. Quickly, he activated the sensor probe only to discover that when the two tool droids had smacked together it had been caught between their heads and smashed to uselessness.

Bruce continued to swell and his skin continued to turn a dark green color. As he grew in size, his strength increased several fold while his mind seemed lost in a violent storm of rage.

Suddenly, the table underneath Bruce began to buckle.

“The subject’s mass seems to have increased,” the lab droid announced curiously. “This seems to defy any possible scientific explanation unless a large energy reserve within the subject’s cells…”

A large green hand reached over and caught the lab droid’s head and crushed it like a tin can before it could finish its sentence. The remaining two droids frantically continued to try and restrain the rapidly transforming human, trying every tool in their arsenals to cut through his skin and failing in every attempt.

Finally, the large green human lurched forward and stood even as the table beneath him collapsed. As he stood, the two droids found themselves yanked into the air, now that he stood nearly a meter taller than either of them.

“STUPID, STUPID DROIDS!!”

In their last few moments each of the droids came to the same conclusion: they should have listened to their self preservation protocols. Before too long, the massive enraged human effortlessly ripped them to pieces and began smashing the equipment around him before kicking the door to the room open, ripping large sections of the metal wall down as well. Other droids around the lab stopped in their tasks suddenly, fixing their electronic eyes and sensors on the strange green colored humanoid thing that had emerged from the room. The large green thing looked back at them, its face curling into an angry sneer.

“YEEEEAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGHHHHHHH!!!!”

Every droid has a self preservation protocol . Otherwise, droids would put themselves into conditions that would render themselves useless and costing their owners and masters greatly for repairs and replacements. While an occasional human would display his displeasure by yelling at them, these particular droids rarely found themselves in conditions where the angry humans would cause them harm of any lasting sort. This time, however, every one of the droids recognized that the being they were now facing was quite capable of doing them irreparable harm.

“STUPID DROIDS…”

“Yipe! Run!”

As the massive green thing that had been Dr. Bruce Banner made his way to the nearest turbolift, smashing through tables and equipment effortlessly as he did, every droid in the room scrambled to get away from him, nearly trampling each other over as they did.

As the massive green thing came up to the turbolift doors, it pounded against them. When they didn’t open, he curled his massive hands into fists and began pummeling them until they bent inwards. Angrily he continued to pound on them until they tore from their railings, through the turbolift shaft housing and plunged into the shaft.

The turbolift car wasn’t there. Growling, the massive creature looked into the shaft, downwards then upwards. Angrily he climbed into the shaft and began scaling it, crawling upwards in a rage filled quest to find nothing in particular. As he climbed, however, the turbolift car descended from above and eventually the two met as the car slammed down onto his head and shoulders, coming to a violent, sudden stop, knocking four officers, a tech and a pair of stormtroopers from their feet.

“YEEEAAARRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!”

“What was that?” a lieutenant, and one of the officers in the car asked as he climbed back to his feet.

“Sounds like mechanical failure of some sort, sir,” one of the stormtroopers replied as he stood to his feet and helped the others in the car to theirs. “I think that sound was a frayed servomotor.”

“A frayed servomotor?” the lieutenant asked skeptically. “We’ve stopped. On which level are we?”

The tech looked at the turbolift’s control display. “27k, sir. No, actually we’re between 27k and 27j.”

“Contact maintenance,” the officer grumbled. “I’m needed at my duty station.”

“Will do, sir,” the tech replied, touching the turbolift’s comm controls.

“GRREEAAAGGGHHHH!!!!”

The turbolift’s occupants looked at each other as the tech’s mouth hung open wordlessly. Every one of them had distinct doubts that the sound had come from a frayed servomotor. Without any warning something very powerful began ramming the turbolift’s floor from below, sending all its occupants flying up against its ceiling only to fall back to the floor. The ramming action repeated itself over and over, with the unfortunate occupants bouncing against the ceiling, walls and floor until the turbolift had risen several meters and the Imperials within it had developed a laundry list of concussions and broken bones.

Beneath the turbolift car, the massive green creature that had been one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest scientists was trying to figure out how to open a pair of doors to the turbolift shaft. The solution to the dilemma was solved when he gripped the bottom of the now hopelessly jammed turbolift car and a swift kick from one of his massive feet that curled the doors open onto Level 27k. The sudden “explosion” drew a response from several dozen stormtroopers that began to surround it curiously while a few had the initiative to sound an emergency alarm.

As the stormtroopers watched the massive green humanoid thing swung out from the shaft onto the floor.

“What in the…?” the nearest stormtrooper said in complete astonishment. “What kind of creature are you supposed to be?”

The thing that had been Bruce Banner looked at him.

“HUH?”

“Hey, did you do that to the turbolift?” another trooper asked. “Our captain is going to be pretty angry at you.”

“What is this hulking thing anyway?” another stormtrooper asked the others. “I don’t recall the captain picking up any passengers, especially some big green hulk.”

“HULK? ME?”

The stormtrooper that had asked the last questions drew his blaster and pointed it at Bruce’s face.

“Is that your name now, creature?” the soldier asked. “Are you stupid or something?”

“ND-125, I think you ought to wait for word from the captain before you…”

“This thing damaged those turbolift doors and I can only imagine what it was doing in the turbolift shaft,” the stormtrooper with the drawn blaster responded angrily. “I think ‘Hulk’ here is to blame.”

The “Hulk” growled at them quietly and looked down the hallway past the smaller stormtroopers. He was angry and just wanted to forget about the stupid droids that had been bothering him. He would go somewhere else if it wasn’t for the little white stormtroopers that were in the way.

“OUTTA MY WAY…” the Hulk bellowed.

“You’re not going anywhere, Hulk,” another stormtrooper said putting his blaster also in the Hulk’s face.

The Hulk grabbed both blasters with one massive hand at the same time time. As he did, he had also grabbed the two stormtroopers’ hands and forearms in the same massive fist.

“Yahh!”

“Help!”

He looked down at the other little white stormtroopers and growled again. Remembering their training and their two comrades flailing their free arms and legs in a pain filled panic, the remaining stormtroopers drew their blasters.

And fired.

The Hulk was such a big target, he was hard to miss. The blaster fire, however, did him no damage and only served to fuel his rage.

“YEEEEEAAAAGGGGGHHH!!!”

The two stormtroopers dangling by their forearms in his left hand soon found themselves flying into eight of their comrades, sending the lot of them sliding and tumbling nearly a dozen meters down the hallway. The remaining stormtroopers continued to fire. The Hulk lifted a foot and slammed it down onto the floor in response, knocking every single one of them off of their feet. Hundreds of others in the star destroyer on same floor, above and below felt what they thought was an asteroid striking the ship.

“Look out!”

“Get out of the way!”

“Run!”

The stormtroopers that weren’t unfortunate to be within kicking range scrambled to their feet and began to high tail it down the hallway, dodging flying comrades that had been kicked down the corridor past them as they did. The Hulk was angrily storming down the same hallway. Even though he was in a quick-paced walk, the stormtroopers who were running found it hard to get away from him.

One of them who had recovered his blaster before he began to run foolishly decided to fire over his shoulder at the Hulk.

“AAAAAHHHHHHRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!”

The closest two were simply run down by the rampaging monster. That left eight of the original group that had gathered around the turbolift. Nearing a turn in the hallway, the one in the lead spotted an officer near a control panel on the wall just past the turn.

“Close the blast doors! Close the blast doors!”

Curiously, the officer did as they asked since it seemed there was a danger of some sort behind them. As the last of the eight scrambled through the thick metal doors closing from either side of the hallway, the officer got sight of the Hulk turning the corner toward them.

“What in the galaxy was that thing?” the officer asked as the doors closed with a loud thump. “Why is that emergency claxon going off?”

The eight surviving stormtroopers stopped to catch their breath.

“He…it…whatever it was called itself ‘Hulk’, I think,” one of the stormtroopers said as he leaned against a wall.

“Did he mean he was of a species called ‘Hulk’ or was that his…?” the officer began to ask as the sound of massive fists pounding against the other side of the blast doors began to echo through the halls.

The stormtroopers began to take backwards footsteps, cautiously watching the blast doors. The officer looked at them incredulously.

“You are members of the Imperial Army,” the officer scolded as the pounding grew louder. “How can one creature instill such fear into you? Where are your weapons? Where is your courage?”

“It’s gonna come through,” one of the troopers said ignoring him and wisely turned and ran in the opposite direction.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” the officer said turning to look at the doors he had closed. “Those blast doors could withstand…”

With every sound of a fist hitting against the doors an indentation in the shape of one of those fists was being made in the thick armored doors. Every following indentation was more prominent and extended out further. Every new blow against the blast door was getting louder.

The officer turned to see the remaining eight stormtroopers leaving him as they ran for their lives.

“Oh…blast it,” he said swallowing nervously, realizing that maybe the stormtroopers had every reason to be afraid of whatever that “Hulk” thing was. With a shaking finger, he hit the emergency alarm on the control panel.





"Attempted Escape from Heyweh Bah"
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Miles_Warren
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Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

25 Aug 2014, 07:57 #10

As some of you know, xMatt has recently won three writing competitions on the Tavern forums and acheived the rank of "Professional Wordsmith". I thought it would be a great chance for me to catch up with him and have a chat about his work.

Q: Can you tell us something about yourself? What do you do when you aren't writing? What hobbies do you have etc?

xMatt: I'm currently studying to become a high school teacher. I'm from Australia, so I'm often watching sports or going out with friends - when I can find the time between uni and work! For fun, I generally read fantasy and YA novels as well as video games and comics, obviously. I'm also really into playing TCG games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! Remember those?

Q: You are one of the writers of the Outstanding Universe stories on the forums where you write the likes of Avengers and Dr. Strange. What do you find so compelling about this universe that made you want to write stories for it?

xMatt: Originally, it was the chance to "redeem" Hank Pym in a new universe. I was reading Dan Slott's Mighty Avengers at the time and loving the take on the character. So, the first series I wrote for the Outstanding was The Outstanding Adventures of Yellowjacket and Wasp. So that appealed to me - the chance to write characters with new perspectives, but what kept me as a writer for the Outstanding for almost four years now, was the great community of writers that are part of it.

It's a great collaborative effort, with lots of writers working together and coming up with shared ideas, so it gives me a chance to work creatively, but also have that social aspect to it. Now, there are so many opportunities to keep adding to the universe! Like you said, I'm working on Dr. Strange at the moment, which is a lot of fun because it's unlike anything I've ever written. The nature of the Outstanding Universe is to try new things and as a fan fiction writer, that's always fun.

Q: For those that haven't read your stories yet, can you tell us what they are about? Who are the characters in your Avengers story?

xMatt: Continuing on from the last question, I suppose I really enjoy using dialogue as a means of propelling story and inspiring action. Characters and their relationships with each other are at the heart of my stories. That being said, The Outstanding Avengers is a team effort, where each writer on the Outstanding participates with each story arc, or chapter.

The three stories I entered in the Writing Comp over three months built off around 40 issues worth of content. So, by that point, there were definitely undertones of family that had been reached, where all of the characters share a close bond. Alex Power was added by one of the writers and I took that and ran with it - the new guy on the old team, struggling to fit in. He's the only 'kid' on the team of old heroes, like Cap, Yellowjacket and Ares.

What I've noticed is that nearly everything I've written with the Outstanding has revolved around either family or hope - or both. So thematically, those seem to be my go-to topics.

So three-part story arc on The Outstanding Avengers was the typical teenage story of the outsider trying to be part of the 'cool' group, I suppose - except, of course, it involves superheroes, bad guys, evil robots and a madman.

Q: In addition to your Outstanding Universe work, you have recently begun to write stories that take place within the Assassin's Creed universe. What made you decide to branch out from writing comic book characters to writing about computer game characters?

xMatt: I wanted to write something that I could do at my own pace. With the Outstanding, I try and keep a strict schedule - at least one issue a week! But with working with my own stuff, I have more freedom and can write about things not in the Marvel/Outstanding Universe. The reason I chose Assassin's Creed for my new work, 'THE SHARED UNIVERSE', was because I love the way it mixes history, action and intrigue. This falls in line perfectly with what I have planned for more series to write, as part of that world.

Q: Do you have any plans to become a professional writer in the near future?

xMatt: It's always in the back of my mind, but at the moment my main focus is getting my university degree in Education and becoming a high school teacher. (What is it they say about those who teach?)

Q: Are there any writers that influence your work or inspire you in any way?

xMatt: Over the last few years, I've certainly noticed my work being influenced by Matt Fraction, Brian Bendis, Joss Whedon, George RR Martin - for the obvious ones. And some that aren't quite as obvious are writers like Cecily von Zeigesar (Gossip Girl writer), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time and Stormlight Archive) as well as Russian playwright Anton Chekhov (Cherry Orchard).

The humour I incorporate has that kind of witty, snappy-banter kind of feel to it, while my long form storytelling and perspective characters is really influenced by Martin. My narrative voice is inspired by Zeigesar, who captures mood really well for YA Fiction. Sanderson inspires the action scenes, while, I really admire Chekhov's naturalist dialogue, which always implies more than it outright reveals.

Q: You recently joined the Tavern and have become an active member of the community. How did you hear about the Tavern and what made you decide you wanted to join us?

xMatt: I was originally part of Marvel.com and throughout the years, I kept hearing about the Tavern, as well as a few other places (shoutout to the Off Topic Mafia). When I heard some of the Outstanding Writers had moved over here, I thought it was finally time to join the site I'd always heard about, but never been part of. It was a great decision!

Q: You recently joined the forums and became a regular entrant in the monthly writing competition. In fact, you have one three competitions in a row which has never been done before. How does it feel to know other writers find your work so enjoyable to read?
xMatt: It's always surprising! But it's also great to know that some people can find something they can enjoy - even if it's one thing here or there - in some of my stories. I write because it's a passion and sharing it with other people on a website as close and kind as this one is always great.

Q: Can you give us any hints as to future stories you are hoping to write?

xMatt: There are always ideas, but it's just a matter of either finding time for it, or finding the way to start them. The SHARED UNIVERSE is what I'm working on, outside of the Outstanding Universe. Still to come are GI Joe fan fics (which I love) and some Transformers as well. Hopefully they work out as well as out my Outstanding fan fics!

If you wish to read some of xMatt’s Outstanding Universe work (including work from other contributors of the Oustanding Universe!) you can do so here:
http://z3.invisionfree.com/Mickeys_Comi ... wforum=286
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

25 Aug 2014, 08:48 #11

Great interview! Best of luck in your studies, xMatt!
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Miles_Warren
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Joined: 24 Feb 2013, 00:05

04 Feb 2015, 18:56 #12

I recently had the honour of sitting down with Big Thunder! and discussing his work. It made for a very interesting interview.

MW: You are the writer of the Marvel: Star Wars series. What made you decide to write Marvel characters set in the Star Wars universe?

BT: I think there is a simple answer to this question and that is Mary Jane Parker (formerly Watson). Yeah, that might sound kind of odd, but I think I could expand the answer to Mary Jane Parker and Mara Jade Skywalker. Being a fan of Spider-Man and Star Wars, I thought it was very coincidental that Peter Parker's main love interest and Luke Skywalker's main love interest were a couple of beautiful redheads with very similar names (MARy JAnE and MARa JAdE). It made me wonder if the author of the Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire, who created the Mara Jade character based her on Mary Jane from the comicbooks. I then started drawing comparisons between Luke Skywalker and Peter Parker: both of them had an older "Ben" character that had a major influence on them and yet were tragically killed, both of them had extremely fast reflexes endowed by their gifts (the Force, a radioactive spider). As I continued comparing the two fictional universes, I started finding more and more parallels. I'm not sure if George Lucas and Marvel Comics borrowed ideas from each other. I wouldn't frown at either of them for doing it. One day, a few years ago, I started writing out a story to tie the two fictional universes in a combined universe, where the characters were merged (an amalgam). This idea was influenced by some Marvel Comicbook titles I had seen online. I think they were called "Marvel Fairytales" and a few of them featured Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane. I think one had MJ as Little Red Ridinghood and Peter/Spidey as the woodsman.
The first version I wrote about this amalgam was on Marvel.com's fan-fiction boards. I stopped writing after a while since it seemed no one was interested. After Disney acquired Marvel and Lucasfilm, I was inspired to go back and rewrite the main story from the beginning.

MW: What I enjoy most about Marvel: Star Wars is that you are creating your own anthology filled with amazing characters. How much planning goes into developing a story such as Marvel SW: Hulk or Marvel SW: Punisher? It isn't just the story that needs planning out but also the characters name and origin are completely different to their comic counterpart.

BT: How much planning? Well, as the day goes along, I'll think about the stories and where its been and where I want it to go. Point A and Point B. Pretty simple. Then, as I sit down and write, I let the story carry itself. What would be the logical steps a character would make at Point A? How would others (given their personalities) react to that character? What would be the consequences to the actions the character and the others take? Sometimes, I find myself written into a corner! The consequences are disastrous and the story can't logically continue from Point A to the next point and I end up either trying to rewrite it or just set it aside. More than once, I've written a chapter (or part of one) and was completely dissatisfied with it. I'd go back (an hour, a day and even a month or two) and begin either editing what I've written or starting the chapter over. When I do the latter, I don't throw out what I've written before. I usually highlight it red and "push it down" in the Word doc. So, as the story continues, the last thing written in the document are all of this red text that never was used. Sometimes, there are pieces of stuff in the red I might use later.
Sometimes, when I reach Point B, I have a hard time coming up with Point C. I don't always have a climax to a story planned. In a serialization such as Marvel Star Wars, its one episode after another, BUT I do plant mysteries within it with solutions. I have conflicts in mind that eventually need to be resolved. I also plant Easter Eggs throughout the story hinting about characters that eventually I'll write into the story. (I either have definite plans on introducing them, either as ongoing characters, cameos, or spinoffs, such as MSW: Punisher). I've found that having a major climax planned out at the beginning (a Z Point, you might say) doesn't always work out (see the serialization stuff I mentioned). Sometimes, I do, but as I write from one Point to another, I realize as I develop the characters and situations, the story steers itself away from the climax I had planned. That Z Point wouldn't go as planned with how the characters had developed as well as the developed relationships they have with other characters.
Also, when I have a complex story, I try to keep a lot of notes in an Excel file. I have tabs for a timeline, characters, space ships, planets and even "items" (for example, "bloog - a type of frog with big ears found on Planet X").


MW: You recently announced that you plan on expanding the Marvel: Star Wars series and would like to collaborate with other writers to do this. Has there been much interest from other writers about writing for Marvel: Star Wars?

BT: There's been a couple of people that have expressed interest. First was silverspidey4ever. He actually expressed interest before I made the announcement. We had a few PM conversations where I set ground rules (for continuity's sake) and ideas were passed back and forth, but nothing came of it. After the announcement, xMatt expressed interest and after a few conversations, he came up with some ideas for a Marvel Star Wars version of the Fantastic Four. After sending me a few good drafts, I gave him the go ahead and he has started writing Marvel Star Wars: F4.

MW; Am I correct in saying that a lot of your stories are classified as "science fiction"? What s it about this genre of storytelling you find so appealing?

BT: Science fiction? Yes. I think comicbooks for the most part are all science fiction. The idea of someone able to crawl up the side of the building or shoot spiderwebs? Science fiction. Someone who can leap over a building in a single bound? Science fiction. Science fiction takes snippets of reality and glues them together with fantasy. Sci-fi stories work when the recipe uses the correct amounts of each ingredient (reality, fantasy).
Take a movie like Gravity. No sound in space. A space shuttle. The Hubble Space Telescope. All in orbit around the Earth shown in brilliant, beautiful and very realistic colors. All of these elements are realistic and yet, for the average person they are the realm of fantasy because, hey, face it, the likelihood of any one of use donning a spacesuit and working on the Hubble is next to leaping over a tall building in a single bound. Now, add to this mix a familiar element: the disaster movie. One frightening life or death situation after another. And all of this is wrapped around a single core element: a woman trying to escape a life tragedy. The whole story is an analogy to her personal struggle. So, all in all, the movie really isn't science fiction on the outside (critics would differ, given their knowledge of space suits, differing orbits, etc.)
So, what makes science fiction so appealing? The ability to go to fantastically impossible places and do fantastically impossible things in familiar ways. That's the key to a good science fiction/fantasy story/movie or a good comicbook. Familiarity. Take some sci-fi movies from the 1950s. "Hokey" is a word that comes to mind for the most part. Why? A lot of times that take the improbable and turn them into implausible. I remember one particularly bad movie (from Italy...and I think from the 70s) where the two main characters (humans from a different planet) didn't know
what water was. That element (combined with others) destroyed the value of the movie. They turned something familiar into something alien. A good sci-fi movie will take something alien and turn it into something familar and appealing (ET, Mork and Mindy). A good example is the "bar scene" from Star Wars: A New Hope where Luke and Ben meet Han Solo. A bunch of fantastic elements (aliens) in a "familiar and appealing" scene: a bar. Han Solo was a very familiar element: the roguish tough guy. If he had been portrayed as an alien (which was Lucas' first idea, as I understand it), I think the story as a whole probably would have collapsed (ignoring the romantic element - familiar and appealing - he shared with Leia in the sequel).
I think the other appeal to good science fiction is hope of where we might go technologically ("But, The Terminator is good science fiction, isn't it??"). Well, that movie had a moral compass: "are we going to destroy ourselves by leaving out the best parts of humanity out of our lives?" But, the inclusion of a "cool" robot added something. ("Wouldn't it be cool if they could build one of those?") Flying around in space ships to other planets. A speeder bike that hovers over the ground that flies at 300mph (and what idiot would want to ride one in the forest in real life??) A car that can fly and travel trough time. (I have a big issue with time travel being realistic, even though I enjoy time travel stories). A computer that can think. (HAL, Skynet...wait a minute, I see some negative connotations about both!) Ah, but throw in the familiar (HAL: "Will I dream?") and the negative connotation is erased.

MW: Are there any writers that influence your work?

BT: Not that I can think of. I've read several novels and, to be truthful, I can't think of the names of any of the writers. I can't say that I can look back and say "I liked the way he or she describes things." I would say, though, that I wouldn't be as "good" of a writer if I hadn't read anything.

MW: You mentioned you have written "novel length" stories. Do you have any plans to become a published writer at some stage?

BT: No. It really doesn't sound appealing to me right now. I really don't feel like I've got the talent. I like to write for the enjoyment of it.

MW: Since the inception of the writing competition you have now won four competitions. How does it feel to know other writers from the Tavern enjoy your stories?

BT: Satisfying. A relief, you might say. I've written some stories before (novel length, in fact) for myself on my computer. They had a lot of characters, beginnings, middles, endings, situations, places, etc. and I was the only one in the world that knew about them. After writing them, I'd think to myself: "Okay, I enjoyed this. I like this story. I like the way it came out. Now...am I full of myself or what? What would someone else think of this? Maybe this is all a bunch of convoluted nonsense!"
So, I started writing fan-fics on Marvel.com. I think maybe...two people read and/or commented on them (mostly positive). I entered the fan-fic writing contest there and won once. I started thinking: "Hey, maybe my 'good writing skills' and 'interesting stories' AREN'T just in my own mind."
So, I've won a few months' contests here at Mickey's. It is a gratifying feeling to think that I have given something that I made and enjoy to someone else. Its not about me. Its about the reader. Can I give something to someone that will entertain them, inspire them, stir their imagination in the way that a few comicbooks and movies have done for me? To see that I've written some stories along with a few other writers and someone took a look through them and picked mine out isn't saying that mine were better than the others, but that I had something good and interesting to give. Really, if I enter the contest every month, have people read and say that they enjoy what I've entered and they vote for someone else is just the same as winning. As someone has mentioned, the contest is a way of advertising our fan-fic stories. Votes for my stories are just indicating bigger interest in what I have to give.

MW: Can you give us any hints as to future stories you would like to write?

BT: Well, I've got some ideas for expanding the "Marvel Star Wars Universe" by introducing some "Star Wars-ized" Marvel characters, but I'm realizing with my busy work life and other things, its hard to take the time to do it. For one thing, its easier to write if I have goals for the stories. Its hard to make several goals and write several stories when I have limited time to do it. That's the biggest reason for asking for other interested writers.
I'm also thinking about reviving another story I had come up with called Wasteland. Its sort of a sci-fi western, set in the distant future on a planet with a mishmash of descendants from colonists from different human and alien civilizations. Due to a war, these forgotten colonists, with 19th century technology rebuild their lives into a "wild west" civilization with cowboys, gunslingers, shootouts, etc. Picture some aliens of different races with cowboy hats on horseback riding into some dusty wild west town.
I've been also thinking about reviving my own interview thread where I would interview fictional characters in a fake talk show (sound familiar?) I had done that as a side thread for a cooperative fan-fic that a few of us writers had did over at Marvel.com called The Chosen. I used the talk show to "interview" our characters. What I would do is PM each writer with questions about the characters and then, in a humorous way, write in the thread as if I was talking to the character. I included a character called "The Bee" (a pudgy, clueless momma's boy) that acted as my co host. I also included some other guests which included some famous Marvel characters. Everyone involved seemed to love it. I enjoyed writing it. My thought is that I might do it again, but this time come up with the characters, their backgrounds and interviews all by myself.

If you are interested in reading Big Thunder!’s Marvel: Star Wars series you can do so here : http://z3.invisionfree.com/Mickeys_Comi ... wforum=285. If you are also interested in writing a story for the Marvel: Star Wars series just shoot Big Thunder! a pm.
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

04 Feb 2015, 21:17 #13

Cowboys & Aliens together it's a good idea, BT make it more funny (not so serious and tragic as it was shown in that movie from 2011)

I like your MSW' world,
the story I enjoyed mostly was, I think, the one about a probe droid fighting against Wohl and other heroes [smooth;

Nice interview Miles [wave;
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Joined: 03 Oct 2013, 20:56

05 Feb 2015, 18:42 #14

ewkada @ Feb 4 2015, 03:17 PM wrote: Cowboys & Aliens together it's a good idea, BT make it more funny (not so serious and tragic as it was shown in that movie from 2011)

I like your MSW' world,
the story I enjoyed mostly was, I think, the one about a probe droid fighting against Wohl and other heroes [smooth;

Nice interview Miles [wave;
Wasteland had some elements of humor in it, but it really wasn't done for humor. I tried to give it the "grit" of a western while throwing in some sci-fi elements. In one particular case, I had these "outsiders" that kept to themselves on the other side of a mountain range. They were big, mean and rode two-legged lizard creatures instead of horses. In one scene, three of these guys rode into a town looking for a prospector that had gone into their territory, as this sheriff recalled seeing as a boy. As he watched, these three guys walked into a bar where the prospector was drinking, there was gunfire and then they quietly walked out into the middle of the street and dropped his dead body. They hopped back onto their lizards and quietly left. Everyone in the town was scared to death that they were even there.


As far as Marvel Star Wars, thank you! So, do you like the action scenes? Personally, I like to do action scenes, but I try to build the story around the characters and situations before I get into battles and fights. As far as the probe droid fight on Dagobah, I was going more with "Wolverine" fighting the droid than "Han Solo", obviously. I think those two characters have so much in common, but its not always easy for Wohl to put down his blaster and use his claws, or visa versa.
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

25 Jun 2017, 22:01 #15

I have to confess that I didn't stop writing my stories
here I'd like to give you the recent one which was on my mind last two or three years
after I investigated my family-roots and found traces of Armenian origin of my great grandma
the story consists of two parts
the first part is a little bit historical and contains some true threads
the second part is pure fantasy
----------------

for my grandparents
and
for my ount
and
for Aurora Mardiganian

-----------------

I. For AURORA.

- I’m not going anywhere, I won’t fight for them. This’ not our war! – for the first time in his life Stasiu roared at his father, directly into his face. Stasiu was the youngest and the oldest son in the family; the youngest one because his two older brothers had already got married and were living on their own small holdings, and due to the fact that their younger sister was still living in the family house – Stasiu was the oldest one too. The younger two brothers in their family hadn’t survive the wave of the feverish illness which some years ago had befallen many houses in this restless area.
And the war started just at the moment when Stasiu became twenty one. So he was obliged to join the Austrian army.
- Stanislav! Sit down! – Franciszek, Stasiu’s father was angered too. He had just tried to persuade Stasiu explaining, that there was no choice for them, that very soon also both Stasiu’s brothers will have to follow him, although the war between the three invaders wasn’t their matter at all. Such explanation didn’t work – Am I the King here? – Franciszek decided now to use more practical arguments - Tell me! Yes or no?! Or maybe I am the Tsar? Or Chancellor or the highest Marshall? No? Are you sure, that I am not? You’re not either! – Franciszek was a very tolerant man and father; from all his obligations the melodious prayers at their Orthodox church were the ones he loved most. And he never ever took part in the heavy emotional discussions which happened every Sunday after that; he simply greeted everyone, but already while shaking hands he was saying farewell to all them at the same time. And because he behaved the same way every Sunday from the very beginning of his adult years, the result was that all his neighbors ignored his presence in their village; luckily bringing him and his family no harm either, despite their clearly angry reactions against any outstanding behavior – The rulers have made their plans, our task however is to survive that which was settled by them. If you refuse to go now, you’re dead for sure. So fighting is your only chance. We will pray for you -
Stasiu looked down to the rough wooden floor rubbed clean by his sister just a while ago. Even this he was going to miss… His father had his reasons, which made him accept all the mess in their pillaged country, but Stasiu couldn’t agree with him. Nevertheless he didn’t dare to argue with Franciszek any longer, especially on the eve of his departure.

The invaders of this part of the Republic of Poland, namely the Austrians, knew, that such men as Stasiu won’t fight against their own people, who were in turn forced to join the Russian army (that meant the army of the other invaders). Intending to have the Poles on their side the Austrians promised them their own autonomy, even though for years they were developing other nations on the same territory; on the territory, which they so eagerly took over more than a hundred years ago. The consequences of such actions were to be seen soon: in a form of a real outbreak of hatred.

The queues were long and it took as long for the Austrian officer to fill in the documents. Additionally, as if this day hadn’t been hard enough to live it through, it started to rain. It wasn’t a heavy rainfall though, but after three hours Stasiu had cold feet. And he felt alone as his colleagues had been scattered in the other three queues so that they wouldn’t communicate with each other. The one who dared to protest or to talk was immediately moved to the very end of his queue.
When he was close to the table with the officer, Stasiu started listening to the questions and the answers given during the registration. One of the men stated that he’s a Pole, the next one, named Jurko, whom Stasiu recognized to be his distant relative living two villages further to the east than Stasiu, stated that he’s a Ukrainian. So Stasiu, intending to avoid any conflict with the previous two, decided to confirm that he himself is a Rusin.
- Was? Ein Ruse? – the Austrian officer shook his head clearly confused, assuming that Stasiu is a Russian guy which meant their enemy.
- Nein – Stasiu denied with a broad smile. Now he will show this officer that the invaders don’t know everything about people who have lived in this area for centuries, and that Stasiu isn’t a horse just to be numbered and classified to a specific kind – Rusin ist immer in Diensten seines Königs – he explained proudly to the officer as correctly as he only could - he graduated in an Austrian primary school with only six classes, as Austrians hadn’t financed longer education for people in the occupied territories. The Rusins were in fact the descendants of those who lived and worked in the king’s lands in the southeast part of the Republic of Poland. And that also meant, that “belonging to the king” they were a natural opposition to the magnates, who covered with their own influence smaller local territories and who not necessarily had to originate from them. Well, maybe Stasiu wasn’t able to explain all this in German, or maybe he didn’t want to.
- Was für einen Königs?! – the Austrian shot up from his chair angrily.
Stasiu realized, that he went one step too far this time; over the queues on the left and right hung a deadly silence, all were listening to this conversation – In Vergangenheit – Stasiu quickly answered - – Jetzt gibt es diesen König nicht mehr – what was actually true, as more than a hundred years ago the last king of their Republic had dishonorably abdicated.
Luckily for Stasiu, the officer sat down – Also ein R U S I N – he wrote down. They needed new soldiers for this war, as many as possible, and it would be good if not all of them were Poles, as the Poles had always caused the biggest problems. Other nations like Ukrainians or such R U S I N S were really welcomed in the Austrian army.
And because enlisting officers got orders to organize the southern troops, Stasiu together with some guys from the same province became part of one of them. But particularly those guys, like the already mentioned Jurko were ancestors of those who had an inclination for rebelling flowing in their veins - not a humble servitude to any king or noble - so our hero Stasiu had to look for friends elsewhere in his unit. He hadn’t had make much success though as for choice there were Austrians, who behaved as if serving together with other nations was degrading, and there were also Hungarians, who although friendly towards Stasiu spoke their own so different to his own language.
So as you can see Stasiu seemed to have had bad luck from the very beginning of this war, well maybe he had earned it being so negative about everything which concerned the invaders, including serving for them.
One night some Ukrainians quarreled with this Pole, who stood before Stasiu in the queue, and Stasiu, still feeling guilty that he hadn’t declared the same nationality, decided to help him. Actually for Stasiu they all lived in the same area where storms of war were coming every now and again, and this time they had again an invader, who staying for a longer time in their area had additionally decided to use them for fighting in their army. But the Ukrainians disagreed with Stasiu and they all ended trashing each other noisily. The gendarmes soon appeared so Stasiu rushed in an attempt to escape.
They didn’t see him in this unit anymore.
The rest were caught and soon they were sentenced to the first front.

But Stasiu didn’t die. Although he was ashamed to do it, he decided to break through on his own to his homeland. But there he had more bad luck to face, because exactly at the time of his arrival the Russians succeeded in their southern offensive: they quickly defeated the Austrians and took from them the whole area of the Polish Galicia with Lvov. Stasiu, who had no idea what was going on there, was caught when they besieged the stronghold of Przemysl. In order to avoid getting bullets right into his chest he joined the Russian army. And he was immediately sent to fights in Przemysl. During every attack there he was swallowing his own silent tears, he was so sure that he was shooting not only at Austrians, but also at his own people who were forced to fight on the other side. But at the same time he knew, that as penalty for aiming only at legs of the enemy the Russians in best case were sending Poles to the east, to die in the coldness of Siberia, or, in the worst case, they were immediately shooting them in the head. Such threatening behavior worked. This way the Russians also limited the number of their own deserters.
After some months of such not only physical but also emotional fights Stasiu was relocated more to the east. And again after some months he was regrouped due significant losses in the number of soldiers and his unit was directed to fight together with the First Armenian Legion. What Stasiu learned in the meantime was fighting without much thinking.

The rescued Armenians were reporting to the soldiers unbelievable stories of a real genocide. Stasiu, who two or three times during rare pauses in fighting was taken to one of their refugee villages, was told about the enslaving of Armenian women, about trainings in shooting were those women replaced target boards, about long rows where one could see hundreds of bodies of adults and children partly buried, and about marches without water and food towards their desert…

- Vy golodny? – Stasiu once asked one Armenian girl in Russian. She was wearing a torn dress, with a soldier’s shirt on it, which was also badly torn and dirty, so feeling pity with her he just wanted to offer her a slice of hard bread. Such bread together with soup (it was usually kvas which Stasiu learned to cook while helping their cooks) was making for his daily soldier’s ration. The soup wasn’t tasty to him, but Stasiu swallowed it without any comments, and half of the bread portion he kept for a night meal. He was always hungry at night. Armenians didn’t steal food from each other, and reasonably fairly they shared it among themselves – in that, well, it was at least Stasiu’s experience, they differed from other nations he had meet in the Russian army. This was why Stasiu felt more attached to the Armenians than to others.
But the girl didn’t accept the bread, she crouched visibly and quickly hurried up towards one of the shabby wooden shacks.
Stasiu wasn’t easily that discouraged. He run after her – Izvini – he started again in Russian, which caused the girl to hurry up even more.
- Actually, I could talk to you in Polish! – Stasiu shouted after her – Either way you don’t understand me… - he finished feeling hopeless.
To his surprise she stopped. And turned to look at him.
Stasiu had no idea what he should do now, so he just handed over the bread again – Here you are… - he said - To be honest there is no one eager to talk to me – he continued in Polish – I am really alone here… - unexpectedly he bowed to her and left her in the middle of the muddy road.

Aurora, such was this girl’s name, long acted mistrustfully towards him, clearly avoiding him. She changed her attitude first, when Stasiu rescued her aunt from being robbed by other soldiers who had noticed a golden bracelet in her pocket. Stasiu of course wasn’t aware that both women were from the same family. But well, although in a longer time perspective it wouldn’t change Aurora’s aunt’s chances of survival, it helped Stasiu to gain a friendly soul in this still alien to him area.
Their common language turned out to be a mixture of Armenian and Polish: Stasiu learned it from his Armenian fellow soldiers and Aurora unbelievably quickly memorized Polish sentences.

They had such a good relationship that one day Stasiu took the courage to ask: - Aurora, how have you survived Erzurum? – this question wasn’t very accurate actually – Stasiu knew nothing about where Armenians lived before this war had started, but one or two days earlier he heard, that the people living in this village were refugees from Erzurum.
Aurora laughed at that – Survived? – she asked in a surprisingly light tone – Do you call this place here, these continuously repaired huts and this garbage I am wearing… do you, would you call this all “survival”? And would you really call me “the one who had survived”? – she shook her head at that – Here, we are more like shadows of our previous lives. Hungry we live, depending on the ones like you. During the day we’re scared of what troop will enter the village, at night we’re not able to sleep as we don’t know which ghosts would like to come and haunt us -
- But you’re here, alive – Stasiu reposted – And it was you who smiled at me a couple of times today. And don’t tell me this was this garbage you’re wearing, which decided to smile at my sight -
Aurora closed her eyes shuddering – You have no idea – she answered – And you won’t have, because you are a man, how it was to be scared being surrounded by death. The death which had been stabbed, cut, impaled, crucified, beaten, even buried alive in rows… – she looked down – And raped – she finished in a low voice. But then she looked up – Do you really want to know, why I am alive, here standing in front of you? Because being sixteen I am still thin like a small girl and I almost don’t have breasts – she sniveled sadly – Well, it didn’t discourage all of them – she added – But you are really different. Maybe you don’t even like women at all. To me you’re… Oh no, no, no… just please let me continue – she quickly said it noticing that Stasiu was firmly shaking his head – Don’t take me wrong please, but to me you’re as if you hadn’t seen war at all, as if you hadn’t fought any battles, as if you hadn’t noticed this horrible dirt which has stuck to me. You’re the one who walks with his head in the clouds, but at the same time your footfalls are so firm and so reassuring – she stopped for a while, to take some breaths.
Stasiu however didn’t make any attempts to comment, he simply couldn’t find any comforting words for her.
– And I don’t think – Aurora continued – That you’d like to know, that one of them, who, because I turned towards my grandma who sitting in a cart with my small brother in her arms stayed at the back of our column… I feared I had lost them as I couldn’t see them… And he just pushed me down from the rocks – she paused again - I don’t know how I survived this fall. Maybe because I was meant to live through something much worse than that… - Aurora closed her eyes for a while - First after they threw another party having all fun with us I was spared some pain as they lacked wood to impale me… Only the Mountain Kurds gave me some respect and let me go over the mountains to this Russian area… – Aurora looked at Stasiu with her huge eyes, there were no tears in them, but Stasiu still had a great lump in his throat – Stasiek, if you really want to survive, you have to block all your feelings, otherwise neither your legs nor your hands would follow you – she shook her head – This is not a world designed to feelings, this is the world of flesh: either you eat, or you’re eaten – she finished darkly.
Stasiu unconsciously sat down. A while later he got up and cuddled Aurora. And he burst out crying.

In the year 1917 started the revolution. Russian army got scattered. Many soldiers joined the Red, our Stasiu however took decision to go back home, to his Wolyn area. And he didn’t want to leave Aurora behind. But he was shocked while entering Aurora’s village: it was burned down entirely. And there were new dirty people striding here and there. They told him whispering that one evening the Red were drinking so heavily that in their madness they started to set fire to the huts. Well, Stasiu didn’t find it easy to believe them, they also looked like those who wouldn’t see any problems in doing such a thing. Stasiu went into the forest then, to search there for Aurora. After some time she came to him. And she had shown to him golden bracelets explaining: - They’re from my aunt. She ordered me to run away deep into the forest. I’ve been here for two weeks -

On the way back they avoided towns and - if it was possible – even villages. They were scared. Yes, they were afraid of meeting anyone: in the woods – the wolves, which had multiplied last summer enormously and hunted in huge packs – and they were afraid of people, who seemed to be as hungry as the wolves – and even while crossing any meadows they feared that they would get stuck in a swamp, which they often saw as it was early spring already. And they were walking on foot. Yes, it wasn’t easy at all, but perhaps it was what saved them, because being so thin and dirty they didn’t attract any vagabonds.
There was however one extraordinary meeting they had on this journey, or maybe two, although the second one was a rather unpleasant surprise.

Let’s start with the first one.
They were just having some insipid soup (just cooked without salt) based on some crunched bones and tree-bark and drinking some birch sap (Stasiu the day before had cut a birch trunk sticking an old pipe into the cut, through which a sweet juice was dripping down right into their only cup), when Aurora suddenly rose to her feet – A child! – she yelled surprised – Stasiek, there is a child hiding in those bushes!-
They carefully searched the whole area, but the boy only came out to them after they had cooked another tasty smelling soup. He was evidently wild, of maybe three or four years, thin, small, but with huge brown eyes which were just the same as Aurora had. He couldn’t speak, only once they heard him gurgling something. Ouch, I’ve almost forgotten it: the boy had incredible hair – pitch black dreadlocks, which were standing to all sides, and rather short.
Stasiu bended over the kettle and took out a squirrel’s leg with still had some meat on it. He checked its smell, then carefully laid it on the greening brushwood. The kid quickly grabbed then the leg and rushed away from them.
Since that moment he followed them keeping of course a safe distance. Aurora tried to talk to him several times, but he run away every time he heard her speaking. He was really wild. His face wasn’t showing any emotions. But he had enormous influence on Aurora: she kept smiling every time she noticed him, and she checked every now and again to see that he hadn’t got lost. She even asked Stasiu to slow down to make it easy for the thin boy to keep up with them.

So this way our pair returned to Wolyn, to Stasiu’s homeland. Oh sorry, they were three, not two; I forgot to count the wild boy.
Stasiu, who almost smelled the food which he thought was surely prepared at his home, rushed forwards. Aurora as usual protested sharply, you know that her thoughts all the time were concentrated on Pete – such name she gave to the boy, as she didn’t like Stasiu’s proposal to call him Pietro. At that moment Stasiu noticed Jurko. He hardly recognized his cousin as Jurko looked by half slimmer than four years ago. Luckily his blond, straight but thick hair remained the same.
Jurko turned towards Stasiu when he heard him calling his name, but then surprisingly he speeded up his steps and soon he disappeared in the bushes.
- Stasiek, stop! – Aurora shouted – It’s not only Pete, who’s not able to catch up with you, it’s me neither – she explained breathing heavily and her cheeks reddened from marching.
- She’s so cute! – Stasiek thought and stopped.

Jurko however had his own reasons for avoiding any contacts with Stasiu: firstly - he was alone at the moment of their meeting, secondly - he remembered that Stasiu took the side of that Pole when they were serving in the same unit, which actually meant that Stasiu was a Pole too, thirdly - Jurko had nothing in his pockets with which he could defend himself, not even a small knife. The atmosphere in Galicia, still occupied by Austrians, turned during this war from bad to worse. Those who declared themselves Ukrainians organized weapons, and as their anger through years of Austrian occupation had been directed against the Poles, they meant to act against the Poles now: to battle for their own independent Ukrainian country. And the Poles too were regrouping their own men hoping to regain their lands from Austrians, from Germans and from Russians instead of serving them any longer.

But Stasiu had been away from home for almost four years and knew nothing about it. Luckily for him, soon after meeting Jurko, he rushed into the door of his own house and grabbed his shocked mum to cuddle her tightly.
They all wept, of course with exception of Aurora and Pete, the last one at the sight of the happily crying family let Aurora take him by his hand for the first time.

With social turbulences in Wolyn – such was the name of this part of Galicia, where Stasiu was living – Stasiu has been familiarized by his father Franciszek who hadn’t let his sons join the Ukrainian partisan troops, despite the fact that he regularly used to attend the prayers at the Orthodox church. And even when one day their neighbor Mykola, younger than Franciszek by some years, paid them a visit suggesting that as Franciszek’s mother was a Pole then maybe Franciszek himself wasn’t that much a Ukrainian by heart and soul, Franciszek didn’t lose his decent temper and answered that the dear neighbor not without the reasons had been baptized not as Mykola but as Mikolaj (which was a Polish name) and that instead of getting to each other throats all people here should defend themselves from being robbed of their land and goods by their invaders. Mykola only a little bit confused left their house first after being assured of Franciszek’s and his sons’ neutrality.

Yes, it was hot in their village, and not much later it was even hotter in the whole area as the Ukrainians really started their civil war against the Poles. Luckily Stasiu and his family survived it, but Aurora since that time got the name of Rozalia and no one except Stasiu, even her parents in law didn’t know, where she really came from. Well, maybe the Catholic priest suspected something, when Stasiu and Rozalia asked him and not the Orthodox priest to marry them as the Catholic church incorporated the Armenian one, for safety reasons of course.

Stasiu and Rozalia waited longer than usual for children: more than five years; finally they had three children: a daughter and two sons, plus Pete, whom they adopted of course. The twenty years period between the wars wasn’t that easy for the new Republic of Poland, for example in the eastern part of Galicia, in Stasiu’s Wolyn the anti-Polish resentments of the defeated Ukrainians hadn’t disappeared, they only weren’t so openly demonstrative. The situation couldn’t improve at that time as political turbulences, hidden interventions of foreign intelligences and activity of other minorities which demanded separate rights for themselves directed public attention away from this area. Stasiu so well experienced during the first World War renewed his house installing heavy wooden shutters which were additionally strengthened with metal bars from the inside.
Stasiu’s sister became a nun, and Stasiu and Rozalia lived together with his parents. The fact that Stasiu and his father belonged to different Christian churches didn’t disturb them at all, and for children it had additional advantages: they had Christmas two times in the year.
They were really happy.
Only their daughter Juliana who strongly resembled her Armenian mum had one serious problem, which was that she had fallen madly in love with Pete. Pete, who ignored her totally. With time Juliana’s emotions grew so immense that she started to control and follow Pete day and night, as often as she could.
When winter came and Pete was often sent to the nearest lake for fishing in a hole cut out in the ice, what actually always resulted in a pail full of fresh fish, Juliana one day managed to finish early her morning duties in the kitchen and took her chance to follow him too. But at the lake she found no one: the hole which seemed to be newly cut out was there, the saw was lying next to the hole, even Pete’s clothes were there next to the saw, Pete however disappeared, and the pail as well. Juliana laid herself flat on the ice close to the hole and touched with her bare hand the water – it was cold – He had drowned – she thought painfully – What an idiot! – she wondered if maybe she should call for help, but after a while she explained to herself, that he must be gone for good, that he hadn’t had any chance of surviving. She took his clothes and the saw and crying she hurried up home – she wasn’t running though as getting cold in winter could end ending up in bed for half a year if not worse.
But Juliana didn’t go far.
- Jula! – she suddenly heard Pete calling her. He was snorting while cleaning his nose. She happily turned around.
Pete had already made some steps away from the hole; he covered the lower part of his naked body with the pail.
- Pete?! – Juliana couldn’t believe that he was alive – Oh, sweet Jesus! How did you survive? – she wondered handing him over his clothes.
Pete didn’t answer her, which actually wasn’t rude and didn’t surprise Juliana. Pete had always been a silent type.
Juliana looked at the pail: it was full with fish – You fish with bare hands? - she asked cautiously - Deep under water, don’t you? –
He nodded.
- How do you breathe there? – she continued asking.
- I don’t – he answered after a while, then he grabbed the pail and took the saw from her hand and he rushed home – Come – he urged her – Otherwise you’ll get cold -
Juliana shook her head still wondering and doubting, she then caught up with Pete and stopped him by touching his face: it was unnaturally rough, but warm – Thank God, he isn’t a waterman – she thought relieved as she recalled what she was once told: that watermen were supposed to be cold as fish when touched.
Pete narrowed his eyes and smiled slightly, what encouraged Juliana to try to kiss him.
- Sister, don’t… - he reacted surprised.
- Well, you know that we haven’t got the same parents – Juliana answered him smiling – Which means that I am not your sister -
But Pete took both her hands – To me you are – he said looking into her face so gently, that Juliana shuddered. Pete had an incredible gaze.
Juliana realized her failure. She reddened ashamed, then quickly turned away from Pete and rushed home running with full speed although Pete called her to slow down.

The result was that Juliana ended bed ridden and coughing heavily. Pete who felt responsible for her illness had always laid the best pieces of fish on her plate, which was noticed by Stasiu and Rozalia – they accepted it smiling meaningfully at him.

When the next war had started Stasiu and Pete were enlisted, but soon after the capitulation and disarming of the Polish army by Germans and Soviets they both returned home. So the Soviet occupation of Wolyn started and soon winter came – and a wave of hunger. Their family survived it quite smoothly: Pete’s fish and corn flour and apples became their daily meals.

One day, it was late Summer 1941, shortly after the German offensive against the Soviets, Pete returned home visibly out of himself, and with a strange emotional expression on his face he asked Stasiu for a private talk. Stasiu thought immediately that Pete would like maybe to ask him for Juliana’s hand as Juliana was about to turn sixteen soon.
- Dad, I saw Jews at the turning of the river – Pete said in a low voice before Stasiu asked him any questions – Our men were drowning them using long sticks! -
Stasiu blinked nervously with his eyes.
- And German soldiers stood on the hill above the turning and supervised it – Pete continued.
- And where were you at that time? – Stasiu asked automatically as he still couldn’t believe in what he had just heard.
Pete took a deep breath before answering – In water, not far from them – he stated – I mean not far from the Jews – he added.
The silence which hung above them lasted for some minutes.
Finally Pete rubbed his frowned forehead, then his chin. Although he was at man’s age he had no beard nor moustache, additionally his hair was still in the form of thick dreadlocks, which were very slowly growing after they had been cut before going to the army two years ago – Dad – Pete said slowly – The Germans did not force our men at all -
- Who was there? – Stasiu asked sharply.
- Ours from the village, Mykola, Stiepko and other neighbors – Pete explained sadly.

This way it came out, that the Ukrainians had allied themselves with the Germans. They were promised an independent Ukraine, but weren’t given any weapons – that’s why they used the sticks…

In Summer 1942 Stasiu received a letter from his sister with her request to visit her at the monastery, because she was very ill. Stasiu and Rozalia took their parents on a cart, they left their children at home under Pete’s supervision, whom they asked to set a fire in the forgery and work on horseshoes for the whole day, and they departed.
Jozinka (by such a name Stasiu’s sister was called at home) was really dying. She said farewell with all of them in a quiet and peaceful way, so that they all had tears in their eyes but didn’t cry them out. But her last words left them astonished – I had a vision – the thin Jozinka told them in a trembling hoarse voice, as her sick throat was causing her much pain – Archangel Michael in shiny black armor came to your children… he had black wings that’s why I recognized him – Jozinka made a short break – And he told them: “My hair is full of many colors… but my armor is black. You should be wearing black too. When dark time comes I will… recognize you by it” -
When they left the monastery’s gate, Rozalia for the first time in her life burst out crying.

The dark time really arrived. The Germans concentrated themselves on Stalingrad, far to the east in the Soviet Union. People were hungering in Polish towns, and those in villages were systematically robbed of their food. Jewish houses were empty dark and silent. Here, in Wolyn, the Jews had been smartly indentified by denunciators and had disappeared. Stasiu and Pete knew, who had helped the Germans in that. Additionally Stasiu’s neighbors stopped talking to him, only with his father Franciszek they were shaking hands at the Orthodox church. So Stasiu got really worried and felt trapped.

1943 in Wolyn the villages started to burn. Stasiu didn’t believe the first pieces of such information, as they were brought by his two younger sons. Stasiu assumed that the kids were colorizing the warlike atmosphere they had to face for the last three and a half years and that they were giving the warlike meaning to all things they didn’t understand. But Pete who often went to the river didn’t have any doubts: the water there wasn’t always clear and often was reddened… In July the boys were coming home with bad news every day, so Stasiu ordered them to keep close to home. Franciszek saddened, he even visited his Orthodox priest, but was advised by him to stay at home, as he had done in all the previous years.

One night in autumn many men stopped at Mykola’s home. Stasiu immediately thought of two things: firstly, a meeting must have been held there and secondly, that it wasn’t safe for them to stay so close.
- I’m going to check it, Dad – Pete declared coming closer to Stasiu, he also got anxious about the gathering – I can be very cautious, you know that – he added.
Stasiu nodded, but then he turned after Pete – Put on black: shirt and trousers so that you melt with the night out there – he called and shuddered as he was reminded of Jozinka’s last words.

Although not so many minutes had passed over, they felt they waited for an eternity for Pete. And fear and despair filled their minds.

The night was really black and hot so that he even found it difficult to breathe. Their house had a newly renewed roof with a good quality thatch, which Stasiu and Pete had carefully chosen and laid; even Franciszek, who had been ill with a pain in his back since last autumn, had been bravely overcoming the pain and helping them. This was why Pete wasn’t aware of how hot this night was, just as if summer decided not to give way to its rightful follower or as if autumn jealous for summer’s hot sun decided to make the sun its private prisoner. And Pete was happy that he had followed Stasiu’s advice and put on the black shirt and trousers: he felt covered with the night and therefore invisible.
But Pete wasn’t supposed to have reasons for more happiness that night. In front of the gate which was leading to their neighbor’s house there were plenty of men, Pete roughly counted a hundred heads. The men were shouting, they were laughing and cursing again and again. Pete was also sure that a least some of them were seriously drunk – I’ll get in from the barn’s side – Pete decided and turned back quickly and alongside the wooden fence which led to the back of the farm he run to the spot where from the side of the old toilet he could enter the neighbor’s barn.
Through the holes in the wooden barn Pete saw a terrible view: three children were kneeling in front of Mykola, who was sitting on the stairs leading to his house. The children were praying Our Father in Ukrainian language. Pete suddenly crouched, as one of the men who were watching the praying scene came closer to the barn and started to piss on the barn just in front of Pete. In the meantime one of the praying girls started to squeal painfully. The man at the barn stopped pissing and rushed towards the group. Pete didn’t see much as the men surrounded the children tightly, but he recognized from the sounds that the girl was being kicked by them. Then Mykola cursing heavily grabbed her and pulled her to the dunghill, which was close to the barn, separated from it only by a toilet.
- Ot, ditko – Mykola murmured throwing the unconscious girl onto the dunghill and pissed on her.
Pete didn’t see more dramatic things that night, because a while later Mykola started to curse on everyone around him and one by one he was pushing the gathered men out onto the road. It took him some time; Mykola made the impression of having received new powers, he was roaring terribly while swinging with a shovel all around him so easily, as if it was a kitchen wipe. He then closed the gate and with shaky legs he entered his house. Pete could hear him also shouting and cursing inside the house. And in the whole village was actually the same: the men were calling names and cursing, they were joking nastily and laughing and rumbling and again cursing in turns. Pete waited till the light in Mykola’s house was gone. He was so nervous and shocked that he was subconsciously holding his fists tightly and stopped feeling his fingers, it took him some time to open the barn’s main gate to go out. He didn’t dare to touch the side door inside the barn, because he supposed it was leading through a granary directly to Mykola’s house. When he finally forced the gate with his arm, he immediately run to the dunghill. The girl didn’t move but she was still warm.
- Who are you? – someone asked him on his left side.
Pete jumped surprised. Mykola’s wife was standing there with a big fork in her hands – I am the oldest one from Stanislaw – he openly introduced himself.
The woman looked surprised too, but Pete was so shocked that he didn’t understand why he could see her face and that the night was becoming a little lighter than it was before – You weren’t with them? – she asked barking.
Pete shook his head – I wasn’t ¬– he stated shortly.
- Run! Away with you! – she hissed and Pete suddenly realized that she was scared of him too or that she was at least not sure of his intentions.
- What will you do with this girl? – he asked reluctantly.
- It’s not your problem! Run! – she repeated – Yours are already burning! -
Pete quickly turned towards his home. True. Its whole roof was in flames – They should have put on black shirts – he thought at that moment; a fraction of a second later the roof collapsed. (05.2017)
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ewkada
Inhuman
Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 01:44

25 Jun 2017, 22:03 #16

and the second part:


II. For my AUNT

- I had an incredible dream – Teresa said to The Biggest (of the dragons) and just after bowing down she concentrated on looking down to the fresh tiled stone floor – I saw three dragon children. You were taking care of them -
The Biggest lifted his ears, which was an evident sign of his surprise – Dragons don’t have children, you know it very well – he sneered nevertheless with disgust – Tell me my Guardian, what you are about -
- Oh, it’s nothing my Lord – she answered humbly – I assumed that such a dream could be of importance for you -
- Dragons don’t dream – The Biggest barked back – So the meaning of your dream you have to figure out by yourself – he stretched out on his whole length. Teresa admired the power of these muscles. The Biggest very rarely allowed himself to be ridden on, but then his strong wings carried her high to the clouds… This time however Teresa also noticed, that he somehow had got slimmer - Was it the first sign of him getting old? – she wondered. Teresa had never witnessed the death and the rebirth of any of the three dragons. Anyway there never was anything certain about these dragons. Their way of thinking and their mental communication were totally different from humans; well, actually more precise and… rather more honest.
Her thoughts were easily understood by The Biggest – I’m only incredibly hungry. Call for the girls! – he demanded.

Soon in their estate an intense smell of crunchy roasted grain was spreading out in all directions. The dragons were bigger than the humans, but not huge. Well, surprisingly, they were swallowing huge amounts of seeds: the black ones in the morning, and the light ones in the evening. And once a year they used to catch a human for themselves. But they had never eaten the girls, as the dragons were clearly preferring old people. And the girls were only dragon’s servants, and every ten years, when the girls more or less were turning twenty eight, the age of being mature, the dragons suddenly got incredibly angry and then after their meal they expelled the girls from their estate spitting their own fire after them. The one who was caught by the fire disappeared. But it was usually only one, the rest luckily were allowed to return home. And then the dragons needed fresh staff…

To Teresa, the day of the selection of the new girls has been the most hurtfull. Because she was aware that there was always at least one who wouldn’t return home after that. And this day was mercilessly approaching.

When such day came Teresa drew high her hair into a tight bun, she then put on the newest dress, of course the dress was as black as her hair, the same as the dragons were. And she mounted The Smallest. He was already very nervous. Soon she felt and behaved the same.
The dragon dropped her onto their huge market square; and flew away immediately. And Teresa saw how a while later he had been followed by her brother’s unit – they run through the black corn fields towards the Dragon Mountain carrying big black shields on their shoulders.

The selection took the whole day.
From afar the Dragon Mountain had already started to smoke: it was the first sign that the dragons were busy with cleaning: their first step was of course the burning of everything what was inside their caves and inside the halls of the fortress nearby (the first ones were occupied by the dragons and by Teresa, the other ones by the girls) – Hurry up, please – Teresa urged The Senior – There are only three hours left to the sunset -
- Nine dressed already in black are waiting, my Lady – he answered bowing deeply down in front of her, despite the fact that as her father he had superior rights, even in this world – But no one wants to give the tenth one to the dragons -
Teresa felt a great lump forming in her throat.
The Senior noticed her confusion, but it has already been many years since he stopped treating her as his own blood. Nope, he didn’t pity her. She deserved it, because she wanted too much to have power – Maybe you should just choose the house of their prey by yourself? – he suggested hoping that she won’t make it his task.
- No, I can’t, I am simply not able to do it again – she thought going automatically towards the ancient and beautifully old wooden houses, but in her mind they were already burning with the dragons’ rage for not presenting to them the ten girls for service. No discussion was possible with the dragons, nor any negotiations, and they were immortal with their ability to resurrect…
She heard the noisy whistle of their wings behind her. Teresa turned around. Yes, they have just left their lair and started their cruel play “hide and seek” with the girls – This time it will be different – Teresa thought clenching her teeth – This time they’ll all return home safely – and with a bit of hope in her heart she started counting the houses; she entered the tenth one.
She went past next ten houses, then she checked further houses on the other side of the road. There was no girl inside, only watered eyes of parents confessing: - We’ve hidden our daughter – to what Teresa had only one comment: - We’ll all burn! -
Nevertheless, one girl short, she went back to the market square.

Juliana and her younger brothers: Jerzyk and Genij awoke actually at the same moment, but Juliana needed more time to realize were she was; well, the reason for that lay maybe in the fact that she was older by nine and by ten years than her brothers. And when she finally recalled all her fears, and her grandparents and parents surrounding them, all praying, no… begging God for help, and then lacking breath and… Juliana took a deep breath: the air was still full of smoke and fire, but its smell was different, it seemed to be somewhat… tasty as if someone was heating up sunflower’ seeds in a pan. So it was then, when Juliana realized, that she was laying in the middle of huge crop field. But the crop had black seeds. Juliana rose to her feet immediately, she noticed her brothers. Suddenly Jerzyk called: - Jula, stay low, maybe in this crop it won’t see us – Juliana obeyed him. Laying crouched she dared to glance quickly to the sky: nearly above their heads there flew a pitch black… dragon!. A while later (it wasn’t very long) Juliana heard a hissing noise; she understood that the dragon was spitting fire on the crop field. Jerzyk and Genij rushed away from the beast…

David was broken: he was late in shielding of one of the girls, she simply disappeared surrounded by flames just in front of him, not more than some meters away from him. He was running now as fast as he could covering himself when needed by his shield from the dragon fire, especially from the one crossed - when two dragons crossed their flying routes. And in this running David suddenly run into an unknown girl almost crushing her. He quickly rose up the shield and waited until the dragon stopped spitting fire on his shield. Then he rushed towards the town pulling the girl with him. She clearly didn’t want to keep up with him and was looking back all the time. Finally she managed to free herself from David’s grasp and screaming loudly she turned back towards the fields. David had no time for clarifying the issue: assuming that the girl was in a deep shock he quickly caught her and ordering her to shut up he threw her over his shoulder and carried her to the market square. David was tall and strong, while the girl was very thin, so he was actually more tired of the intense running than of carrying her. He put her in front of his sister – There on the black T- field there are my two brothers left! – the girl protested with tears in her huge nut-shaped green eyes.
And then the three dragons landed on the huge market square.
Teresa was really surprised to see the new girl: very slim, black hair the same like her own, at that this long black shirt… Teresa took a fast decision – The dragons need to be distracted from the fields – she whispered to the girl – And in the meantime my brother David will search for your’s. Come, you’ll join the Dragon Girls – And Teresa quickly pushed her to stand in the row, next to the remaining nine girls.

The Biggest started sniffing around the girls. And he stopped by the last one, which caused Teresa’s heart to almost jump out of her chest from fear. The dragon sniffed again around the last girl who suddenly made a painful face and said aloud: - I remember the roof falling down directly on us -
The dragon widened his nostrils, and Teresa was so surprised that she didn’t even manage to close her eyes: she was sure, that the dragon would rip the girl’s head that instance.
But the girl only moaned – Are they here? My parents? – she asked looking bravely at the dragon’s yellow eyes – What is it, this place? Are we dead? If yes, why are you spitting fire on people? Is it some kind of penalty? For what? Is it hell? Are you bad? – the girl seemed not to be able to stop spitting out questions.
The Biggest however, who had never encountered such a fearless approach, moved his head slightly to the back, and Teresa crouched. Yes, she knew he will cover now all people here with his fire.
- Really? – the girl said unexpectedly – Another world? And the time here – is it the same time, or is it anyhow different? Because I… I… No… Are they really gone? Since when? – she visibly frowned – Sixty seven years! – she gasped wondering, but soon after that she looked sadly down – My name is Juliana – she said in a low voice gulping down her tears.
- He’s talking to her! – Teresa felt a pinch of jealousy in her heart – And she can understand him… - Teresa crouched even more; it’s now her turn to lose her head; now her life is in danger… and she was doing everything they wanted all those years… everything…
- Hey, have you gone mad?! – the Smallest asked Teresa so suddenly that she jumped – You’re super. Even he likes you very much -

Juliana worked eagerly, even though she was unnaturally slim, as slim as her mum was at the age of eighteen. But the dragon diet didn’t suit her, sometimes she got bad stomach cramps. Juliana supposed it was because she missed her lost world and lost time, her parents and Pete especially. And she hadn’t seen her brothers, though Teresa assured her several times that David found them and took them to his home. The Dragon Girls couldn’t leave the castle, and no visit in the castle was possible: the only mediation was done by Teresa – the black queen flying the dragons.
Well, sometimes however there is found someone who dares to break the rules, even on their planet. Juliana was just cleaning the canal sluice. Actually it was the worst work here, because it was the most smelly. Dragon excrements weren’t maybe that much more smelly as human ones, but there were a lot more of them. Juliana was cleaning all this very carefully so that she wouldn’t anger the dragons, and for obvious reasons as fast as she only could. The shuffle, and then the broom were making an intense noise, and then Juliana started to remove the blockades of the aqueduct’s sluice. Suddenly she was caught by someone from behind and put on one of the stone shelves. She quickly turned around. It was David.
- Chestnuts – he whispered despite the noise of the falling aqueduct water – Jerzyk had twenty of them in his pockets -
Juliana immediately burst into tears.
- Genij is also with us – David continued – I’ve got only this moment, the water will wash out all the smell soon and the dragons would detect me – he added.
Juliana was all smiles despite the tears, she wasn’t able to say anything, she was only watching David with her huge green eyes.
- I’ll come as soon as I can sneak through the black fields, maybe even before the harvest – he declared somewhat distressed and next second he was gone.

Unfortunatelly he hadn’t come. Juliana asked Teresa several times about him, but was told nothing more than that everything was all right and that all in the town are happy with the beautiful chestnut trees. The trees hadn’t grown big yet, but they were the only ones here and generally in their world, which in the Dragon’s Era was so poor of any bigger plants or big animals.
And Teresa herself finally accepted the fact, that Juliana could talk to the dragons. In truth she was happy to have a sister soul close by. They rarely met though, because they had different duties, but then Juliana was always surprising Teresa with her happiness and internal light.
This way almost ten years flew past.

It was late autumn, and very windy as well, though quite warm. The Senior wasn’t with them anymore. The dragons had taken him, but after long discussions at which end Senior gave them his life, The Biggest brought back his body confirming that Senior’s sacrifice had been big enough to repay for all cruelties done on dragons by human ancestors. David only heard some stories about it; according to them people enslaved dragons and were merciless while training them. And as it was common knowledge that evil actions aren’t without consequences, one day surrounded by fire there appeared the three big defenders of the small dragons…
So typical for this season they had their harvest. First they took care to collect the black crop as the most valuable, and under the supervision of the two smaller dragons it was transported to the huge castle granaries. Then it was time for the light colored crop, which had to be carefully sifted and after that also transported to the castle. In the end the rests of both types of seeds together with the wild green ones were meant for people. David had already tried many times to reach the castle, but each time one of the dragons noticed him. Today also, just at the end of the field work David standing on one of the ancient burial mounds cast a longing glance towards the castle which was visible on the horizon: from all members of his long-living family only two remained: him and Teresa. At that moment the Smallest landed just behind him. David straightened himself carefully, it wasn’t that easy to read the dragon’s intentions from his moves; but even feeling endangered it wasn’t wise to do anything rapidly, as it fueled the dragon’s anger even more. Suddenly the skies thundered and a huge light struck down, directly onto the castle’s caves. David unconsciously stepped back, and realizing what he had just done he turned to face the dragon. But the Smallest must have been also surprised because he was watching the thundering paying no attention to David. At least it seemed so to David.
- Let’s go there together – the dragon ordered it mentally to David – Jump on me quickly -
David didn’t even manage to realize why he understood the Smallest. He just did what he was asked for.

Juliana was combing her long black hair. She had it like her mum: black and strait, and thick and due to that heavy, but shiny and healthy. Juliana also had a nice voice like her mum, or maybe like her dad too as actually their whole family, including her grandma and grandpa could sing beautifully … Juliana saddened visibly, after a while however she sniveled couple of times and continued the combing. Suddenly she heard strange sounds. It was like the howling of a wind combined with an intense scratching. When the sounds seemed to prolong, Juliana decided to check the issue. Yes, it was something in the dragons’ caves: all the heat was radiating out of them. This time her curiosity was stronger than her fears: instead of running away Juliana directed her steps towards the caves.

Hela rushed out of a sphere full of flames. It was her last chance: if she hadn’t covered herself with her own flame, she would end up burned by Mjonir. Well, this she hadn’t expected it: that this hammer having its own will and intentions would abandon Thor, would leave him to his fate in her hands… - And in my power – she thought of her enemy, landing firmly in the middle of a huge cave. And she immediately started to analyze where she could have relocated herself this time. So if Mjonir could have been able to make such a surprise and give itself up to a stupid blond lass, one never knows if something nasty hadn’t been prepared for her as a farewell. Hela shook her head still wondering: just some minutes ago everything was different: her stone gave an indestructible relocation energy, the hammer was a powerful tool within her reach and Thor was dead, but now: her stone burned entirely while opposing Thor’s hammer Mjonir, the Mjonir itself proved to be intelligent, while Thor, well… Thor hadn’t risen from death as before, but he had been replaced by a young girl. Hela suddenly felt herself being watched. She immediately turned around.
- I can tolerate many things – she said quickly recognizing whom she had encountered, so she knew where she was now… - But your laziness has cost me a couple of years! – she bowed her head to look more determined, well she actually was very determined to… - And it had cost the lives of many beings, more or less intelligent ones – she finished concentrating her mind and focused on the feet of the biggest of the dragons what should initiate an avalanche of burning thunderbolts: bursting rapidly out of her eyes.
But no thunderbolt reached the Biggest.
- It doesn’t work here – he mentally told her straitening his neck (of all the three dragons which had been modified by Hela a long time ago he had the longest neck).
Hela clenched her left hand into a fist and rose the right one high above her head.
- Nay… that won’t work either – he commented so darkly that it echoed many times in Hela’s head.
Hela suddenly thought that the dragon wanted to cross its forelegs in a human way while watching her – He’s playing with me – she assumed panicky. The dragons inherited some things from her character: she actually had to give them part of her own genes otherwise they would be too stupid to fulfill their tasks. Hela quickly put her hands together to concentrate her whole mental energy at one point; she very rarely did it (for safety reasons of course), but this time she decided to risk it as she felt she should teach the Biggest the appropriate lesson which he deserved, even if in the end she would lose him. His rude comments smelled to her of rebellion.
- Hihihih… that won’t do either – the dragon laughed openly, but then he stopped – Here – he said – None of your skills are working. We’ve got only our premature abilities and premature instincts – he winked several times amused – Everything here is only up to who we really are -
- Premature instincts! – Hela sneered with clear dismay. It didn’t sound natural as it was only pretended, nevertheless Hela continued behaving this way. If she gave up now, this flying reptile whom she had once created would shortly become her master! No, never ever on her watch… - Your premature instincts are to collect and then to stuff yourself with roasted grain! – she said angrily. She was really full of anger.
- Oh, you’re not nice, and I won’t accept… -
- What won’t you accept?! – she cut him off rapidly – Everything which makes sense has been given to you BY ME ! Your fire, your size, even the way to achieve immortality! You’re mine; without me your time would be over long time ago… - Hela suddenly noticed a woman. For a while they were eyeing each other.
- Is it her? – the question of the woman echoed in the cave.
The woman wasn’t young anymore but Hela suddenly felt very hungry. Maybe it was the reason why she had lost here her abilities. She had already used all the life energy from the last girl relocated by the dragons, yes, because she had to make a cover from Mjonir’s fire. Hela took her decision quickly, she went closer to the woman and pushed the woman’s midriff with her thumb. It worked and the woman fell to the floor. Hela smiled – You see – she told the Biggest in a firm voice – Where thoughts are weak, one has to be handy – and Hela sat down on the unconscious woman and pushed up her eyelids to enter the woman’s mind.
She was sitting on the woman for a minute or so. The Biggest in the meantime stepped closer and watched them curiously.
Hela felt her hair is going to stand on its ends. In this world she wasn’t even able to take over the woman’s energy! Well, there was a solution in such a situation but as she hadn’t needed it for a very long time the Biggest had never had the opportunity to see it… until today… - This is my only chance – she thought and threw herself on the lying woman biting through into her jugular vein. She shuddered from pleasure tasting the blood.
- Yaaaark!!! – the Biggest spat fire on them both. He continued his hot salvos all the while so that the smell of burned bodies started to spread through the caves and reached the castle.

- Come closer, Juliana – the Biggest ordered some time later – And explain yourself why have you sneaked in here and why were you eavesdropping -
Juliana’s heart almost stopped beating. She had no idea, how the dragons could sense or hear people, even if they were moving soundlessly, even surrounded by a nasty and intense smells or even in the middle of a howling thunderstorm – I was… - Juliana suddenly heard rapid sounds of footsteps bumping against the floor in the passage leading to the caves. One of the smaller dragons run in their direction, and seemed to be in a hurry.
- Yes…? – the Biggest was waiting for Jula’s answer.
- …I wanted to make sure that nothing wrong had happened here – she said. Suddenly she noticed a small pile of ashes on the left side of the cave. From fear her heart started to beat fast; she looked down trying hard not to cry. The Middle, at least so it seemed on his loud snorting, rushed at that moment into the cave and placed himself close after her. Juliana barely was controlling her breath. And after some seconds of a deadly silence she burst into tears. It wasn’t that important anymore if she ends up burned or eaten and which dragon would do this; too much fear, too much careful behavior and risk every day, and too many details to take care of – the dragons noticed everything everywhere, they were too big and there was no hiding from them and it was so hard to live with them…
The third dragon flew smoothly into the cave, it was the Smallest with David…
David, when he saw the crying Juliana, bravely took her in his arms looking carefully around for a possible way to escape which would be different than the passage he entered running after the Smallest.
But the Smallest pushed him with his nose, so unexpectedly, that David almost fell on Juliana – Step away from her – the dragon communicated to David – She’ll be our new Guardian -
- What?? How? – David protested loudly, panicky guessing what that pile of ashes on the left could possibly be. And he immediately got angered – Why have you done that? – he asked clenching his teeth – What has Teresa done to you? After so many years of service! – David lowered his head while the Biggest rose his head higher and moved it slowly in his direction. David instinctively covered Juliana with his own body – Of a true servi… -
- You fool! What are you doing?! – the Biggest cut him off – How would you like to defend her?! – he snorted David right in the face – If I spat fire now, she would burn together with you. My muzzle is big enough to take you both into it. I can crush you easily with my tail and squash you with only one leg! – the dragon’s anger was visibly growing - You seemed to be so experienced! Where’s the wisdom of your father? Was is only inherited by Teresa?! – the Biggest was now clearly out of himself.
David, who had never seen the Biggest so angered, didn’t know what to do. He was also wondering why he was able to understand the dragons so suddenly – Maybe they weren’t talking to me before? – he thought.
- Move to the side! Right now! – the Smallest barked to him, while the Middle moved to the right side. The two dragons were clearly making room for the Biggest, to burn David.
- Well… - David realized that it was him who should burn now and he quickly took his decision: - Yes, please: I’m doing what you want, you see – he said leaving Juliana alone – But please spare her -
- We’re not humans – the Biggest sneered in answer – If I were one of you, you would be already burning – and he turned away from David – She’s staying here as our new Guardian. And you take the girls back to the city and bring me ten new ones – he ordered.

David suppressed his anger and did what the Biggest wanted.
But when he got out of the stronghold he felt again free – No! – he thought – I won’t leave her there for sure –

On the market squere there was a gathering. The noisily discussion was heard from afar. David led the girls there to return them to their families. And to ask for new ones. He was just memorizing what to say to the people when he noticed a strange tall man standing in the middle. He was wearing a red coat and on his chest there hung a remarkable green stone which threw out delicate shafts of green light.
- David, the Dragonslayer – the man turned to him – You’re the bravest I have ever encountered –
- Sir, I didn’t kill any… – David quickly protested.
- True – the man confirmed – Not yet, but you will. I’ve already watched it many times and in many versions... I’m here however – the man’s face took suddenly a painfull look - I’m here – he repeated taking a deep breath - To prevent you from doing this –
David hasn’t even managed to rise his eyebrow before the strange man just waived with his hand and everything got lost in a swirl of rainbow light. (05.2017)
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