Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Funny If You Play 'Avengers: Alliance'

"My name is Fury, Captain Rogers. Nick Fury." The man stood in the shadows...or perhaps the shadows gathered close to him. "The Avengers need you. SHIELD needs you. There are threats out there, threats to America that only you can face."

Captain America smiled wearily. "How can I turn my country down?"

They took him to the future, then, with a time machine they claimed was confiscated from someone named 'Doctor Doom'. They set him up with his own room in the SHIELD helicarrier, and told him he'd be going on his first mission shortly. Within minutes, a SHIELD agent met him at the door.

"So, how about a little sparring session? You, me and Wolverine against another team. The practice will do you good."

Cap shrugged and grabbed his shield. "Sure. It'd probably be a good idea for me to get used to some of these strange new threats, Agent..."

"ContractKiller, sir."

", right. Just show me the way to the gym."

A few minutes later, and he returned to his room, bruised and exhausted. His 'sparring partners' had tried to murder him with some sort of powered suit of armor that shot missiles and lasers. Luckily for him, Howard Stark's shield held up to the punishment, but he'd be feeling the pain for days even with the Super-Soldier Serum coursing through his bloodstream. He needed to rest, or he'd be no good for whatever mission Fury was planning for him--

There was another knock at the door. "Hello, sir, I'm Agent Deathbringer. I'm afraid that Doctor Strange and I need you for another sparring session."

"Um, I really think that I need a little R and R, can't you just--"

"Sorry, it's tournament season." He pressed a button, and the two of them were teleported back into the gym. This time, a ten-foot tall green monster pounded away at him for five solid minutes while his teammates picked off its allies. Cap couldn't help but notice that they kept hiding behind him whenever anyone attacked.

He staggered out of the gym, but he didn't even make it back to his bunk before 'Agent Play947325' dragged him back for another 'sparring session', this time with a woman named Storm as his partner. In the brief moments before a crazed telekinetic tried to drop a boulder on him the size of a Buick, he whispered to her, " we ever fight bad guys around here?"

"Sometimes," Storm whispered back. "To keep in practice between sparring sessions."

Thankfully, he didn't remember much after that. He woke up back in his room, his skull ringing and a lump the size of a hen's egg on his forehead. He tried to sit up, but the room swam unpleasantly around him and he sagged back onto his bunk.

There was a knock on the door. "Go away!" he shouted.

The door opened anyway. Cap realized he'd never actually seen any sign of a lock on it. "Hi," the SHIELD agent said. "I'm NickFury232, and we have a sparring session scheduled. Don't worry, Cap, it's just to keep your skills honed."

Cap tried to hit him, but he was too dizzy to do anything but swing wildly. "I understand your feelings, sir," the Agent said as he teleported them back to the gym, "but we need to use the best in these fights. And you are the best."

He wasn't kidding. As the other team teleported into the room, Cap saw that they had another Captain America right at the front. "How...?" he mouthed, almost too confused to speak.

The other him shrugged, his expression resigned. "I'm from fifteen minutes in your future. Agent Dudebr0 here used Doom's time machine to make sure he had me on his side." He sighed. "If it helps any, I remember making it quick."

It didn't.

Twenty-one days later, they finally stopped coming. Cap felt like he'd been through World War II...again. He tried his best to patch up his wounds, though. The new recruit, a man named Cable, was explaining to him that it all started up again in a couple of weeks. Captain America briefly wondered if the living legend of World War II could get away with deserting.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blogging Isn't a Pain in the Neck, But...

I have a pain in the neck that's stopping me from blogging. Posted a couple of things I've already written, but I'm taking a few days off of writing anything new. The discomfort is just nagging enough to wreck my concentration. See you folks next week!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Self-Taught Superheroes, Part Twenty-One

I really thought I was still dreaming when I woke up. Can you blame me? I was disoriented, I was in an unfamiliar place (yes, we took over the building eight months ago, but it's not like I slept there every night--I still have school and family and stuff, and I probably don't sleep in the dorm rooms more than about one night out of every twenty) and I was in the middle of a weird horror-movie dream. And I woke up out of the dream to see my favorite movie star saying, "Are you okay?"

Well, I say "movie star", but even I have to admit that June isn't going to win an Oscar any time soon. Not because she's a bad actress or anything; it's just that movies like 'Night of the Blood Leeches' and 'Deathrain' don't exactly aspire to be the kind lofty art that the Academy looks at. But if they did, there'd totally be a little gold statuette with 'Best Actress - June Munro' written on there. Honestly, I think she deserves it way more than Meryl Streep; anyone can imitate Maggie Thatcher if they just watch enough old news footage, but how many people can convincingly pretend to be hypnotized by a lesbian vampire cult? ('Cult of the Blood Sisters'. It was direct-to-DVD. You might not have heard of it.)

That was what made me so sure I was dreaming. I wasn't just seeing an actress, I was seeing my absolute all-time favorite actress. I had watched entire movies for her thirty-second cameo appearances, and she was in my metaphorical bedroom? No way. No freaking way. I just rolled over and closed my eyes again, because if June Munro was showing up in my weird horror-movie dream then it was probably about to get weirder and more horrory, and I didn't want to deal.

And then she shook me on the shoulder a little, in that way that people do when they're touching a stranger. And then I realized I wasn't dreaming after all.

I flipped over so fast that she probably didn't even realize what was happening, and luckily for me, I also went through my embarrassing celebrity gush phase so fast that she didn't realize that either. "OmigodAAIIIEEEEEyoureJuneMunroIvegoteverysingleoneofyourmoviesonDVDIlovedyousomuchinMegaScorpionvsVampSharkcanIhaveyourautographwhatareyouevendoinghereOMIGODdoyouhavesuperpowersdidyoujointheteamthatissoawesomeItotallycantevenbelieveitEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!"

She gave me a blank look. I think that was probably the best thing I could possibly have hoped for. "Hi," she said. "I'm Skreem Queen. Captain Light told me to come and wake you up?"

I nodded. I had calmed myself, collected myself, gotten over my embarrassing gushing, and was now into the next phase of being awkward around a personal idol, paralyzing shyness. "Um. Hi. I'm Cassie. Hummingbird. That's, know, what I call myself." I could feel my cheeks getting hot, and I knew I was blushing bright yellow. (I still have red blood, even though my skin is green, so when I blush, I blush yellow. Science is fun!) "Um...what did Josh need? Er, Captain Light. What did he need?"

She looked at me with a little furrow in her brow. It was a look that screamed, 'I want to ask if you're okay, but I don't know you well enough.' She shook it off and answered my question. "He said that there was a laboratory of some sort that was reporting a hostage situation. A place called PerfecTech?"

That took my mind off of my awkward celebrity encounter pretty quick. PerfecTech had been on our radar for a few months now, and if they were having problems, it automatically fell into the category of 'not good'. They'd been showing up after our fights, grabbing anything weird-looking that wasn't nailed down and driving off with it. We'd tried stopping them, but they flashed some official-looking paperwork in our faces that said that they had legal authority to 'salvage' anything unusual they found abandoned. There was a lot of jargon on there about 'extraordinary technology of sufficient interest to national security', and some signatures of people that I'd seen on the nightly news. We weren't interested in getting those people on our bad side, so we let PerfecTech go. A couple of us even thought it might be good to have someone securing all that weird alien technology and magic artifacts and stuff, just so that it wouldn't wind up on the black market or something, but most of us wanted to know a whole lot more about who was doing the securing before we relaxed. This looked like a good chance.

Or possibly a very bad one, if there was someone who had already broken in and had access to everything they'd piled up and a whole bunch of hostages with it. Imagining a person armed with all the leftover junk from a half-dozen invasions, a small horde of supervillain rampages, and a smattering of mad scientists was a pretty big wake-up call. "OK," I said, realizing she was waiting for a response. "Give me a minute to splash a little cold water in my face, and I'll meet you down in the hangar."

Life as a superhero never seemed to stop. Still, I did get to meet movie stars.


Monday, September 02, 2013

I May Very Well Have Snapped

I'm going to try doing a thousand words a day on a long-form story, until it's done. Since I don't want this blog to turn into "seven posts a week on one topic and then one or two a week on everything else," I've created a separate blog for it here:

I will try to make it look prettier later. The quick and dirty description, for those of you who won't click on a link without a little enticement, is that it's a novel about zombies...but they're not mindless, they don't hunger for human flesh, and they don't eat brains. That doesn't mean that the dead rising from the grave isn't causing the end of civilization as we know it; it just means that it's happening in ways that Romero fans never imagined.