Friday, December 31, 2010

Cosmics: The Twilight Man

Where to start? Hmm, yes. I think I'll be unconventional and start in the middle of the story.

Twelve years ago I worked as a cop, pounding the beat in downtown Miami before Millenia was built in its place. I've been promoted since - got me a desk job with slightly more pay. There's the same amount of stress as before but now it's from getting all the paper work done on time rather than worrying if you're about to be knifed or shot. I was shot once so I know how stressful that can be - and that's also when my new life started.

It was a chilly New Year's Eve and me and my partner had cornered a couple of small time thieves down an alleyway. It was late and the moon was already high, casting shadows as thick as treacle. One of the thugs, obviously not wanting to spend the night behind bars, got twitchy. He pulled a piece and shot my buddy twice before I'd managed to get a warning out, let alone my gun. Having downed one of us, and with nothing else to lose, the creep then levelled his pistol at me. I managed to do the same to him but I guess I wasn't quite fast enough 'cause he got his shot off first. The bullet ripped into my gut and threw me onto the floor. Seeing me fallen, and not wanting to waste any more time, the thieves sprinted off leaving me to bleed in the alley.

To be honest, I thought I was done for. I was bleeding heavily from the stomach wound and no-one was around to help. The pain was too much for me to even consider moving. I just lay there watching the shadows deepen as my life dripped away into the gutter.

Then I felt something touch me. At first I thought it was a dog or rat or something but the feeling covered my entire body. And the shadows that were just at the corner of my vision a minute before now seemed to be right in front of my eyes. I looked around but all I could see was shadows. Suddenly, I swear those shadows flowed into me. They were incredibly cold and the pain in my gut sharpened in intensity so much that I let out a muffled gasp. But, moments later, the pain started to subside. I looked down at my wound and saw it starting to heal up!

Slowly but surely, feeling came back to my body and I was able to move my arms and legs. What seemed like an hour later I managed to sit up. The wound in my stomach had almost healed to an ugly scar. At that point, I was overcome with emotion and sat there thanking all that was holy - and some not so holy - for saving me from that final journey to see my maker.

Eventually I could stand. I checked on my buddy but it looked like he'd had a quick send off. So I called for help on my radio and stumbled out of the alley, not realising at the time that the passageway was now completely devoid of shadows.

Later I discovered I had... 'unusual' abilities. Or cosmic powers, if that's what ya want to call 'em. Not only did I heal real quick, I seemed to be able to control the night. I could increase the shadows in an area making it incredibly dark around me. Yet I could see through these thick shadows as if it were a clear summer's day. Even more unusual was my ability to enter the shadows and move from one spot to another without passing through the intervening space.

After a month of leave, I was given my desk job. It was supposed to be for my own good, a promotion away from the dangerous streets due to my sterling service. Still, the idea of doing nothing but sitting at a desk bored me. That's when I remembered good ol' Uncle Don. He was the one that got me interested in the police force in the first place.

Y'see, years ago when he 'retired', Uncle Don let his family know that he was the original Twilight Man, a costumed vigilante who had helped fight crime in the '80s. This was whilst I was still a teenager, before I'd even thought of becoming a cop. But Don's belief in using the abilities you had to help others always stuck with me.

So, that's really where this story should start - with Don's time as the original Twilight Man. I say original because, well, I decided to take over the job and carry on the legend. After explaining everything to him and convincing him of my desire to continue fighting crime he agreed to help me.

Anyway, after a few modifications to the suit and its little gadgets, I put on the Twilight Man costume and started patrolling the streets as Millenia's new dark defender. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cosmics: Jack Harper

“Is… is there a doctor in the church?!” a woman cried out, fear and concern pitching her voice to a high screech.

Jack stood up, looking over the head of the man in front of him, and tried to see what was going on. It was his first time in this newly-built church near the heart of the new city. He’d seen it many of times during its construction as he walked past but until today’s Sunday morning service he had never been inside its grand, vaulted interior. Having recently bought a small apartment nearby, this church was his closest place of worship.

The pastor, a friendly, harmless (and, to be honest, slightly boring) man in his early fifties, had been giving his sermon when suddenly he’d stammered and fallen from the pulpit to the cool floor. Now two or three people surrounded the man – with more heading towards them - preventing Jack from seeing what was going on. His eyes rising to the ceiling, Jack grimaced, shrugged and then made his way forward.

“Excuse me. I’m a doctor”, Jack called out, striding forwards. “Let me through please. And give the man a bit of room”.

He looked at the minister who was lying on the floor, clutching his chest and having difficulty breathing. His skin appeared clammy and as grey as the hair at his temples. The man tried to call out something but his feeble words turned to painful wheezing coughs.

“It appears he’s having a heart attack”, Jack stated as he knelt next to the reverend. “Someone call the paramedics”

“Angela’s already gone to the ‘phone” said the high-pitched woman. Her deeply-lined face and grey hair indicated that she was much older than the pastor. However, although obviously worried and distressed, she looked far more alive than the man on the floor at that moment.

“Tell her to tell them it's a suspected myocardial infarction… a heart attack”. Jack paused for a moment and then asked, “Does he have angina?”

“No… no, I don’t think so” the woman said, clasping her small, wrinkled hands together in front of her. Jack nodded and then reminded her to tell the paramedics about the heart attack. He turned back to the man and studied him a little closer.

“Reverend O’Connor? I’m Dr Harper”, he explained in quiet calm tones. “I know this is a stupid thing to say but try and remain calm, okay?”

With a gloved hand, Jack reached out to the side of the pastor’s throat and tried to feel for a pulse. As he did, the man’s watery brown eyes struggled to open and then stared directly into Jack’s piercing blue ones. Their gazes met. As if seeing some great horror, the minister’s eyes opened wide in apparent fear but he could not pull his gaze away. Instead, he started to mutter something under his gasping breath.

“Domine Deus… spero per gratiam tuam remissionem… occulto mihi ex obscurum...”

To Jack, it sounded like an old-fashioned prayer. Being a medical man, he recognised the language as Latin but had no idea of the meaning. Looking away from those open critical eyes, Jack turned to a younger man who was standing nearby.

“Get some aspirin…” he began to say. Suddenly, the old man’s arm shot up and grabbed him around his exposed wrist.

Dread and alarm filled Jack first, flowing up his arm, through his shoulder and into his body. Then came rushing up the crushing pain of the heart attack - a heavy, gripping throb stabbing into his chest and taking his breath away. Darkness began to edge his vision. He clenched his eyes shut, trying to block the life-stealing tightness that began to send out shooting pains to his shoulders and arms.

The pain was intense - though he had suffered much worse before. He hoped that his curse would heal the blockage to his heart before he went and died. Again. But the pain and the panic were making it difficult to focus.

Jack collapsed to the floor, which caused the Reverend O'Connor to break his grip on Jack’s wrist. He lay there, trying to breath, trying not to throw up, and with all his will he tried to push the pain, anguish and fear away.

“My god…” he breathed through clenched teeth, unable to do anything more at that time.

The old woman had now come back and started to shriek when she saw that Jack had also collapsed. Her panic was relieved a little though when she realised that the pastor now looked better and was no longer clutching his chest. Another voice called out, this one male, saying that he thought the doctor was also having a heart-attack. And yet other voices muttered and jabbered in the background.

Jack grunted and struggled to open his eyes. His chest still burned with a torturous ache but it was bearable. Looking across, he saw the old man sit up with a look of wondrous surprise on his face. The woman rushed over to him to check that he was all right whilst a man, probably the one who had spoken earlier, tried to put Jack into the recovery position. His hands clammy with sweat, Jack managed to wave him away. He knew it wouldn’t help. He just needed time to let his cosmic power heal the physical problem, though the mental and emotion trauma would remain for some time.

The church wasn’t far from Millenia's general hospital and within a few minutes the paramedics had arrived. They checked both Reverend O’Connor and Jack. The minister seemed well but they still wanted to run some ECG tests on him. They advised the same for Jack. Jack was having none of it. By then, the heart attack had passed and, although he felt very weak, he knew he was out of danger.

“Thank you”, Reverend O’Connor said as the paramedics started to lead him out of the church. He then added, “And bless you, Dr Harper”.

There was a knowing look in the pastor’s eyes as he gazed at Jack. Jack simply nodded back and then looked away, feeling somewhat exposed. Distress from the heart attack still troubled his mind and he was finding it difficult to think clearly. However, what he did know was that he could do with a smoke to soothe his nerves.

Instead he accepted the offer of a warm cup of tea from the old woman, who’s name he discovered was Maria. Within half an hour, Jack heart had settled down and he was feeling much better. Using the excuse that he needed a breath of fresh air, he wandered lonely along the aisle and out of the main doors of the church.

Hazy daylight brightened as the sun reached its zenith.

Jack finished the end of his cigarette, dropped the stub and extinguished it with a quick stamp of his shoe. That first time he’d met the good Reverend was over seven years ago and, since then, he’d been back most Sundays to bask in the holy man’s soporific sermons and  lectures about smoking. Jack couldn’t quite figure it out but there was something indubitably likeable about Reverend Daniel O’Connor.

Shrugging, Jack pulled his jacket around him to keep out the cold winter air and headed off towards the front of the city hall. Even from here, he could hear the cheers and excited chatterings of the people gathered this Christmas Eve, waiting for their first official sight of the Cosmic Knights. Shoulders hunched, Jack strode forwards inwardly hoping the ceremony would be over quickly so he could return to the familiar comfort of a large single malt.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cosmics: Feedback

Paul held his steady, outstretched hand less than an inch above the lighter as the flame danced upon his palm. As expected, all he felt was a gentle tickling sensation in his hand and a vague warmness. There was no hint of pain even after he'd left the flame to burn against his skin for several minutes. The same had happened the other three times he'd tried it. Just like in the fire earlier.

"Shit", Paul muttered, shaking his head. What did it all mean?

Around ten minutes before, he'd stuck his fingers into an outlet socket and switched it on. But instead of being thrown across the room, or at least shocked a little bit, all he'd felt was a weird tingling down his spine and a little warmth in his fingers.

Just like that time a week ago. He been a bit drunk and, for a dare, had stuck his fingers into a light fitting - God knows why. His stupid, co-worker Carl had then turned the light switch on but all he'd felt was that tingly-spine feeling. It meant household electricity couldn't harm him either.

"Shit", Paul cursed again, gritting his teeth.

Thinking back, there was that time a month ago when they'd thought he'd broken his ankle trying to goddamn rollerskate. Another of Alison's stupid ideas to do something together. At the hospital they'd tried to x-ray his foot but every time it kept coming back blank like his leg was made of lead or something. And afterwards his foot had somehow felt better. He was probably absorbing the radiation even then.


All those times over the last couple of months when something unusual had happened to him, just like earlier in that tenement fire. There weren't *that* many incidents but it was enough to pull together a correlation. Finally, today's fire had been pretty damned convincing. They all involved energy of some sort and they all involved him feeling no pain but somehow negating the power somehow. So what the hell was he going to do about it?

"Shit, shit"

Paul briefly looked down and his hands and then started searching for a cigarette. So, he thought, he was one of those cosmics, an IT guy with freakish powers like a comic book character or one of those idiots on TV. Which left him just two questions. First, should he tell Alison?

Finally finding a smoke, Paul lit up and took a drag. Exhaling sweet, gray, musky mist in a thin plume, Paul shook his head. No, she'd just think he was making it up or joking or something. Him, a cosmic!? Hell, she'd probably not really listen to him anyway. What was he going to say? "Hi honey, I think I can absorb energy like one of those cosmic guys". Yeah, that sounded rational.

Taking another puff of the cigarette, Paul considered the second question - what was he going to do? What did someone like him do with an ability like his? It's not like he could make money from it or get laid with it (not that he would, because he was married but, well, y'know?). All he could do was absorb or negate stupid energy.

"Hey, Pauly! We're out of milk" his wife, Alison, called from out of the kitchen. Here in the bedroom, Paul could only just hear her.

"Yeah, and...?" Paul shouted back, a little irritated. He almost added "What d'you want me do about it?" but decided that probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.

"Well, it'd be nice if you could just pop out to the store and get some", Alison called back. "And maybe some bread as well?"

"Sure, sure!" Paul replied, but under his breath he added, "It's only, like, fifteen minutes before Cosmic Reality is on. Why the hell can't you do it yourself?"

Still, he took another drag on the cigarette and headed out of the bedroom, grabbing his jacket and wallet on the way. He was going to have to be quick if he wanted to get back in time. Having an argument with his wife wasn't going to help.

'Why the goddamn couldn't I have got superspeed or something?' he cursed inwardly as he rushed out of the door and to the local convenience store.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cosmics: Merry Christmas

One year ago...

"...hordes of cameras flash here outside Millenia city hall as, like a brightly coloured Christmas present, the roster of the newly reformed Cosmic Knights is unwrapped to the public".

"The Professor comes out onto the steps first. She's clothed in a technologically-advanced battlesuit, her gray-blonde hair streaming out behind her. Due to her experience it is speculated that she will be the Cosmic Knights' new leader. She raises her hand in greeting and is met with a roar of approval".

"Close behind, but keeping to the shadows, is the Twilight Man whose features are obscured by his dark gray mask. Little is known about this hero, however he was a member of the last iteration of the Cosmic Knights and is highly regarded by the others".

"Maxwell Merlini, the debonair master of magic, is next. Rumours have it that this is the same Merlini who fought crime in top hat and tails in the 30s and 40s as well as the hero who helped the former Knights in '99. However, this moustached man doesn't look a day over 40. He smiles a broad grin and raises his hat to the cheering public".

"Next is the dynamic defender, Dr Dynamo. There's no sign of the Living Lightning's new young sidekick, Kid Kinetic, who is apparently not an official member of the team. Dr Dynamo literally crackles with energy as he joins his fellow teammates".

"In an effort to cement relations with Europe, France's Jean-Pierre Charmant is the next member to appear and is also the newest cosmic to arrive in Millenia. Transforming into his huge Beast form, he waves as the crowd gasps in wonder. His vast strength and handsome good looks should be a huge boon to the group".

"Elastic Man arrives on the scene next, stretching his body around those already gathered. He raises his hand which expands to enormous dimensions, mimicking the foam hands worn by many outside the city hall here today".

"From the doorway, Unicorn and Blindsight step out hand-in-hand. To the disappointment of many of his female fans, Unicorn secretly wed his beautiful bride Blindsight earlier this year. This hasn't stopped the familiar silver sparkling sight of the athletic teleporter appearing all around Millenia, saving the day time and again".

"Finally, a mystery man shuffles onto the steps, behind all the others. Officially, this is the team's doctor but rumour has it that he also has cosmic abilities. Perhaps more information about this healer will be made public in the coming days?"

"So, gathered together on this chilly, but bright, Floridian winter afternoon, the new Cosmic Knights salute the crowd and usher in a new - and hopefully more fortunate - chapter for this cosmic team. And, to all our viewers watching us today, WPRN would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cosmics: Leaving

One year ago...

"Youa leavin'? Mama mia!" The round, moustached Italian man known as Milo Vignoni held up his large, fat hands in despair. He then turned around and shouted into the back.

"Hey, Moni! You hearin' this? Ricky says he's leavin'", the owner of Milo's diner called out. "Says he's got anuther job".

Rick Roe liked the man known as Milo Vignoni. He was very flamboyant and anything different or unusual was interesting to Rick. And the man was very kind hearted. He'd given Rick a job and provided a roof over his head even though he didn't know him. Still, Rick wasn't going to tell the man everything about his job. Nor that the company he'd be joining was the Cosmic Knights.

"Milo. I am sorry", Rick apologised, smiling. "Only I think this new job will take up a lot of my time". He actually didn't know how much time he'd have to spend working as a Knight but Rick guessed that the job did not keep normal hours.

Milo turned to face Rick.

"What was this new job again, Ricky?" the Italian man asked, his left eye narrowing causing his bushy black eyebrow to almost touch his extravagant moustache.

Rick paused for only a moment and then answered. "It is in... security, Milo", he answered. "The money is good and they are providing temporary accommodation...". Milo's brow furrowed at this so Rick added, "...a place to stay. But I would still like to stay in the apartment you have rented me. I will continue to pay, I assure you".

Milo slapped his forehead and turned around shouting into the back again.

"Moni, now he say he's got anuther place to stay. But he wantsa keep our room!"

There was a muttered reply from the back, but Rick couldn't quite make out the response.

"Milo, if I can help out here, I will", Rick tried to explain. "And if you really need me, I can help. I am very grateful to you for helping me out when I arrived here in Millenia. For everything that you did".

He stressed the 'everything'. As well as providing a job and a room, Milo had also put him in contact with someone who apparently knew somebody else who provided "official" identification papers. The ones Rick had procured when he'd first arrived were somewhat suspect whereas this new identity as Richard Roe, plus the accompanying documentation, was much more secure. Almost legitimate, apparently.

Milo looked at Rick for a while, his pudgey hands twirling his moustache in thought. Then the big man smiled and clapped Rick on the shoulder.

"Ah, thatsa okay, my friend!" he exclaimed. "Your goin' inta security, eh? You always were a strong, tough one. I hope its not the wrong sort of security, eh? Not part of the Family". Milo winked at Rick.

Rick didn't know what the man meant but was sure that the Knights were not the "wrong sort". Rick convinced the chef and businessman that his job was a good one and he would be helping a lot of people.

"Thatsa good", smiled Milo. "And if you're still staying in the apartment, we'll still see you around, yes?"

"Yes, Milo", agreed Rick. He'd decided that he's freedom might be somewhat compromised if he always lived at the Cosmic Knights Complex. Having to undergo security scans and dodge the reporters camped outside would only make things difficult. It was better to leave things open. Just in case.

It wasn't as if Rick had a great need for two places to live. In his current apartment all he had was a bed, a few books (reading for pleasure was something new to Rick), a TV (Rick liked to watch anything and everything), and a radio (music was something the Qysians had neglected to discover). He had travelled light and still continued that practice.

"I hope to still see you sometimes", added Rick, returning the clap on the shoulder.

"Good, good", beamed Milo, gesturing into the back. "Nowa, come and taste this canneloni I'm making. Itsa squisito!"

"Maybe later, Milo", Rick replied, although he was sure the pasta and meat dish was delicious. "I have to get ready..."

"You have a date? Some girl we know? Hey, Moni..." Milo began shouting into the back again.

"No, No. Nothing like that. I have to get ready for the job", explained Rick. In fact, he wanted to get a good look at the Complex before the official ceremony tomorrow and see what was going on there. But he wanted to do it incognito, as it were.

"Aah, I bet you do", beamed Milo. "Still I don't know why a handsome guy like you hasn't got himself a wife yet. Someone like my Monica, eh?"

Rick looked confused. "I am not interested in your Monica, Milo", he replied. "She is your spouse".

"No, no", Milo said, shaking his head. "I don't actually mean my Moni, just someone like her, si? Aah, Ricky. Sometimes I wonder about you. Now go on and get ready".

Milo waved Rick Roe away whilst Rick wondered what that last part of the discussion was all about. He shrugged and headed out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cosmics: Biff! Wham! Pow!


Kid Kinetic's supersonic punch hit the thin, long-nosed clown in the stomach, doubling up the costumed thug. The second clown, this one with bulging muscles and a long plank of sturdy wood, stepped up and swung his weapon. But Kid Kinetic was a blur and had already moved. The wooden plank hit the first clown to the ground, his large feet and nose sticking up into the air.


A third, white-faced clown aimed an eerily-coloured custard pie at Kid Kinetic. Laughing wildly, the clown let the pie fly.

"You shouldn't play with your food, bozo", called out Kid Kinetic.

The blurred outline of Kid Kinetic simply sidestepped out of the way of the pie. The custard pie hit the second clown who, despite his size and strength, immediately slumped to the floor snoring. The pie must've been filled with some sort of sleeping custard, thought Kid Kinetic as he approached the third clown.


"The name's Bonzo, kid", replied the third clown, picking up another catnap custard pie from a nearby table.

However, the clown never had a chance to throw his second slumber pie. Kid Kinetic had run up to the clown and clapped his hands together next to the clown's head. The spectacular speed of the clap caused a mini-sonic boom, which knocked the clown off his feet and onto the ground.


A moment later the custard pie dropped from the air and onto the clown's head. The clown, already seeing stars from the sonic-boom clap, fell into a deep, dreamy sleep.

"Night, night sleepy head", chuckled Kid Kinetic. He smiled, looked around and ran to the door of the warehouse.

A moment earlier the Clown King had left by this door leaving Kid Kinetic to tackle the remains of his Clown Gang. It had taken Kid Kinetic a few days to track down the Prince of Pranks and his crazy gang. He'd searched around much of Millenia, speeding down the streets and around buildings, looking in every nook and cranny much quicker than the local police could. Although he hadn't had much time to search as he would have liked - his school work had kept him busy. Still, it was amazing what Kid Kinetic could do in very little time.

It had been at school that Marty MacNeil, the secret identity of Kid Kinetic, got his lead. He'd overheard some other kids talking about the circus coming to town. Apparently, they'd seen some clowns in a multicoloured car near the outskirts just the day before and hence jumped to their conclusion. Marty knew better.

That evening, Marty donned his red and white uniform and went clown searching as the teen speedster Kid Kinetic. He quickly found the area the other boys had seen the clowns and, within minutes, found a newly renovated warehouse. Sneaking inside, he'd discovered the lair of Clown King and his gang, dressed to look like a circus ring. However, before he could stop the Clown King, his henchmen had rushed him allowing their master to escape through the warehouse's backdoor.

Having defeated most of the Clown King's thugs, Kid Kinetic ran to the door and opened it. Luckily, Kid Kinetic was moving so fast that the blue bucket balanced over the door missed him and emptied it's liquid contents onto the floor. The ground sizzled but Kid Kinetic did not stop to investigate further. He sprinted after the Clown King.

The King of Clowns, still many yards away from his clown car, could hear Kid Kinetic rushing up behind him. He turned around, laughing and giggling, whilst pulling what looked like a rubber chicken from out of his large, multicoloured coat.

"Ha ha!", laughed the Clown King. "Well if it isn't... tee hee... Doctor Dynamo's... ho ho... speeding sidekick. Fancy meeting you here. Ha ha ha. Will you be the Auguste to my... tee hee... White Face?".

Kid Kinetic slid to a halt and watched the Clown King.

"Give it up, Clown of Crime", Kid Kinetic shouted. "There's nowhere to hide. I've called the cops and they'll be here any minute. Plus, you're all out of bumbling buffoons".

The Clown King chuckled and almost fell over his big, long feet. Recovering, he pretended to wipe his eyes with a frilly hankerchief, whilst holding up the rubber chicken in his other hand.

"Ha ha! You do amuse me, Kid Coconut. Still, I know something you don't. Nyah, nyah!", he sang whilst hopping from one foot to the next. "You see... tee hee... I still have a gag or two up my sleeve. And you shall not escape the horror that is the... chicken of doom!".

The Clown King threw the rubber chicken at Kid Kinetic, who prompty dodged the pathetic poultry. However, as the chicken hit the ground there was a loud explosion and a dark purple noxious gas filled the air.

"Nice try, King of Nothing", replied Kid Kinetic, instantly moving to get away from the cloud. "But your gurgling gas cloud isn't going to stop me. All I have to do is whiz my arms around so fast that I create a funneling whirlwind to blow the mist away".

And Kid Kinetic did just that, rotating his arms at the shoulder to form a tornado to blow the miasma back at the Clown King.

"Curses!", yelled the clown, backing away as his laughter began to die away. "Still, ha! I shall escape to plan a gag for another day".

"Oh no you don't!", replied Kid Kinetic and he rushed up to the Clown King. The Clown King laughed half-heartedly and squirted a stream of green liquid from the fake flower in his lapel. Having seen this trick before, Kid Kinetic dodged the acidic spray. Then, grabbing a nearby length of steel cable, Kid Kinetic ran around and around the Clown King, wrapping the wire round and round the rotund clown. A moment later, the clown was held fast, entangled in the wire.

Moving away, Kid Kinetic watched as the purple cloud drifted over the struggling form of the Clown King. The villain coughed a couple of times and then fell to the ground knocked out.

Admiring his handiwork, Kid Kinetic beamed. "Well, that wraps things up", he chuckled happily.

Hearing the wail of police sirens, Kid Kinetic looked up from the sleeping clown and smiled. The police would be here shortly to ensure the Clown Gang was put behind bars. But Kid Kinetic couldn't wait. He had to get back home. His mom would be wondering where he was and he had homework to do.

And after that, he still had to search for the missing Dr Dynamo!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cosmics: Entropy

David Rogers' life had never amounted to much. Although bright, he'd not done well at school and since then had jumped from job to job. He'd worked as a cleaner, as a stacker in a store, as a waiter in a rundown restaurant, in telephone sales, and finally as an input clerk for a company dealing in statistical data.

Although better than his previous jobs, the work was monotonous. The numbers he entered seemed random, almost like he was involved in some time-wasting joke. Like his life, the numbers were chaotic without any excitement, disordered whilst also mundane and boring.

Things changed though during the destruction of Miami in 1999. What David thought was chaotic was nothing compared to the powers he could suddenly emit. Blasts of spatial distortions would fly from his body. Time could be flexed and broken down. Mechanical objects fell apart at his touch. He tried to control this power but was never fully successful. The chaotic cosmic energy that powered him didn't allow it and ruined his chance at keeping a normal job.

So, for a while, David tried being a hero. However, this did not prove to be a successful career choice. Not only were his powers too unpredictable, the work didn't come with a steady income. Inevitably, David - now calling himself Entropy - resorted to villainy to help provide money and food for himself.

Small time thievery, such as robbing stores and breaking into banks, seemed to work best for him. Most of the time he only faced normal security guards or, on occasions, the police. He could handle those. He managed to make quite a bit of money but, sadly, that increased his infamy. Which meant he attracted the attention of local cosmic heroes - such as Dr Dynamo.

In the latest conflict with the dynamic doctor, Entropy had managed to hold the Living Lightning to a stalemate. The electrical hero's attacks would somehow miss or hit something else. But then, at the exact moment that Entropy was about to release a wave of his reality altering power, Dr Dynamo's electrically powered punch hit him. The entropy blast warped and something strange happened.

Dr Dynamo disappeared.

And then so did Entropy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cosmics: Kid Kinetic

 (story from the Millenia Herald, 17th December, 2010)
Kid Crimefighter Clocks Clown King

Yesterday, at approximately 8pm, Millenia's speeding hero Kid Kinetic, sidekick of the respected crimefighter Dr Dynamo, stopped a raid at the downtown Bank Of America. The raid was conducted by the Clown King, a gadget wielding villian well known to the local authorities, and four other unknown associates dressed in clown outfits. Kid Kinetic, one of the city's newest costumed cosmics, arrived whilst the Clown King held up the bank.

Ms Beth Monroe, 31, one of the assistant banker tellers at the scene was somewhat shaken by the attack. "The Clown King and his men had burst in just as we were closing for the day. One of the bank's guards approached the gang and told them to stop. But the Clown King just laughed and threw what looked like a shiny Christmas bauble at the guard. The bauble exploded, knocking the guard out and showered the place with paper streamers. The other clowns then rounded everyone up, brandishing large candy canes as clubs. The Clown King just kept on laughing the whole time. It was terrible".

The arrival of Kid Kinetic was also something of a shock to many in the bank. Bill Williams, 40, a customer at the bank and one of those held hostage, was the first to see him. "There was a sudden breeze in the room and then that Kinetic kid appeared out of nowhere. He was this blurred blue and red figure. He told the Clown creep to stop. When one of the other clowns pointed his piece at him there was a sudden flurry of activity and next thing you know, the clowns' weapons were in a pile at the kid's feet. The kid was smiling the whole time".

Apparently, so witnesses describe, Kid Kinetic subdued three of the Clown King's associates before the ringleader himself confronted him. Details at that point are a little vague but Mr Williams had this to say. "The kid had punched the Clown King a couple of times. At least, I think he did - he was moving so fast it was difficult to see. Anyway, the kid told the clown to give up and come peacefully but the guy just laughed. He then pointed one of those joke plastic flower squirters at the kid and a stream of sizzling liquid hit him in the face. The kid dropped to the floor holding his face. I think the liquid might've been acid or something".

Police officials state that the Clown King and one of his associates left the bank soon after the attack and that both the police and Kid Kinetic were unable to stop him. Due to the cosmic hero's timely intervention, three of the Clown King's thugs have been taken into custody.

Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez of Millenia's Police Department stated "Thankfully Kid Kinetic was in the area and managed to stop the Clown King's gang before anyone was seriously hurt or any money was taken". The police are still searching for the whereabout of the so-called Prince of Pranks.

This is the second bank robbery that Kid Kinetic has prevented in the last month. Again, during yesterday's struggle, there was no sign of the cosmic sidekick's mentor and member of the Cosmic Knights, Dr Dynamo. It has now been nearly two months since the dynamic defender was last seen fighting the notorious Entropy. Unfortunately, Kid Kinetic was unavailable to comment on yesterday's attempted bank robbery and Dr Dynamo's absence.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cosmics: Elastic Man

Pretty much everyone missed the small shooting star that zipped across Florida's night sky on 5th November 2003. No one knew that this was the start of an alien invasion from the distant planet of Qys.

Qysian scout ships were sent to each of the major continents of Earth to assess the technology levels and abilities of the dominant species. Ryyk was in one of those ships. This was his first scouting mission and, due to a slight navigational error, the small ship crash-landed just outside the city of Millenia. Thankfully, its arrival was kept hidden by the ship's stealth facilities. Disentangling himself from the wreckage of the ship, Ryyk made his way into the city and took on a human form. He then began his job to personally study the people of Earth.

He was supposed to salvage communication equipment from his ship and report back his findings. He was supposed to investigate the continent's defences and determine the best method of attack. He was also supposed to get biological, psychological and social information on the people inhabiting the continent and discover any natural weaknesses. He was supposed to help prepare the way for the invasion.

Ryyk did none of these things.

From orbit, he had been studying the creatures known as humans for almost 8 years. Now living amongst them, it confirmed what he'd discovered from the electronic communications he'd intercepted. His people had no right to invade and destroy these intelligent, proud, noble and fascinating creatures. He was young for a member of the Qys and easily swayed by the various human entertainments. It had taken a little time but now he rejected his home world’s barbaric lifestyle and decided not to report back to his superiors.

So he decided to call himself Richard Roe and become one of them.

His fascination with humans grew and grew. So did his interest in cosmics, the select few who appeared to be more than human. Compared to regular humans, Ryyk had 'powers' like these cosmic humans. And those with powers tended to use them either for evil, robbing stores and destroying property, or good, protecting others who did not have powers. Ryyk decided to become one of the good guys.

Ryyk has now been living amongst the humans - as Rick Roe - for some time. As a scout for the Qys, his training prepared him to blend in with the populace and become a human. So he easily fits in. He's even managed to get a good job helping out at a local diner. And, during his time off, he uses his shapeshifting powers and his military training to fight crime as Millenia's brightly coloured hero, Elastic Man.

But each day, he looks up in the sky, hoping that his lack of reports will put off his people from invading. In his heart he expects that, any day now, one of his fellow Qysians from the other continents will investigate his disappearance. Or, worse yet, a fleet of Qysian warships will appear in the sky above this shining city.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cosmics: Oak

Sam Baker had always had an affinity with plants. As a child, it was almost like he was able to picture what the trees, flowers and grasses were feeling. And the town of Sevenoaks, a little suburb outside of London where he lived, was full of trees and plants. They made him feel safe and welcome.

That's why when he reached 18 and headed off to university, he decided to study Botany and Applied Biology at Oxford. Sam was an intelligent lad and, with his keen interest in plants, passed his degree with flying colours. Interested in working to further the affairs of cosmics, Sam travelled to the US and applied for a postgraduate course at the University of Miami.

As part of his research work into using plants to help cure cosmic aberrations, he developed a plant-based serum to hopefully reduce the unfortunate side-effects of cosmic radiation. Needing a willing subject to try out his serum, but finding none, Sam decided to inject himself. Expecting no side-effects, Sam found instead that the serum activated the cosmic ray mutated twist in his DNA. His body suddenly grew and hardened and the flesh about his bones expanded, turning him into a huge powerful creature made of flexible, durable wood. After an agonizing hour, Sam eventually managed to concentrate sufficiently to turn back into human form.

Since then, Sam has found that he can actually communicate with plants and, to a limited extent, control their actions. He is also able to transform into his hardwood form whenever he wants - and unfortunately, during times of stress, when he doesn't. He has decided to responsibly use his great powers and, donning a green oakleaf emblazoned costume, fight crime as the hero known as Oak.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cosmics: Cosmonaut

Unassuming but handsome Viktor Voronoy defected to America at the end of 1991 during the breakdown of the former Soviet Union. A highly trained military aircraft pilot, he soon joined the ranks of the US Air Force. One day, when instructed to investigate a strange UFO hovering high above the American South East, Viktor found that his fighter plane was rendered immobile and then bombarded with cosmic rays. Thought lost, Viktor miraculously reappeared on the edge of the Everglades seemingly unharmed. But something inside him had changed. Now power pulsed within his veins and he soon discovered that he had strange abilities beyond those of normal men. With this cosmic power, Viktor became the Cosmonaut - America's champion of justice!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merlin: The Coming of Arthur (Parts 1 and 2)

So ends season 3 of Merlin (well, it actually ended a week and a half ago!). And, I have to say, this season has been an improvement. I remember getting the first half of the first season on DVD as a Christmas present a couple of years ago but, as I had no intention of rewatching it, sold the collection on Ebay. I'm still not sure whether I'd want the DVD of this show but it is certainly better than those early days - especially this strangely-titled finale.

There's a splash of circular storytelling going on here as the final two-parter mirrors the two-part episode that kicked off this season. In both, Cenred's men - aided by Morgause - lay siege to Camelot but whereas they failed at the beginning of the season, here they succeed using the "cup of life" (aka the holy Grail) to create an army of immortals. Both two-parters were also the best bits of the whole season (a pity much of the middle bit was just above average).

It's funny how the Grail just happened to turn up, in the hands of some druids and that, whilst Uther wanted it for it's healing properties, Morgause wants it for other magical mischief. Handy that. It would've been nice if there had been some foreshadowing in previous episode. Perhaps reports through the season that the druids were using the cup to heal people or something.

Other things that didn't quite sit right was how, in part 1, Arthur and Merlin easily managed to sneek back into Camelot. There were no guards nor army stationed around the castle just after Morgana had taken control. What happened to them? Also, in part 2, Arthur and his knights-to-be just happened to find an old abandoned castle, that no-one had thought to claim, and in said castle was the round table. And why wasn't Merlin made a knight? Arthur made Elyan, a mere commoner, a knight.

Still, I nit-pick. Overall these were a great couple of episodes that packed a lot in. We got the Grail which is now left on the floor in Camelot (I wonder how it becomes lost so that the knights have to quest for it?), the fall and re-taking of Camelot, the return of Excalibur (and Freya) which later becomes the sword in the stone, the beginning of the knights of the Round Table (why was Percival added so quickly and without any real introduction?), and the fall of Morgause and Morgana.

The status quo has now been changed - Uther is a broken man, Arthur and Gwen's relationship is out in the open, Morgana has been shown to be a traitor, etc - and hopefully this will be reflected in the next season. It would be good to see longer storylines, season arcs, more action and adventure and less burp 'n' fart jokes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cosmics: Monstro's Rampage

"Hi. This is Lena Lewis of WSVN news reporting live on the outskirts of Miami. Reports are coming in regarding the apparent wholesale destruction of downtown Miami by what some are calling Monstro - a giant humanoid cosmic-powered monster taller than any skyscraper here in southern Florida. Authorities say this Monstro started its attack earlier this morning, around 11am EST, and has continued to rampage through the city since then. Nothing seems..."

(A large explosion in the near distance causes the camera to shudder)

"...Woah! That... that was close... Anyway, yes, nothing seems to be able to stop it. Cosmic heroes in the region have raced to Miami to try and protect the city and drive back the monster, but their efforts appear to be in vain. We've reports of hundreds of deaths, including America's own champion of justice, the Cosmonaut, and a handful of other heroes".

"We did manage to get a few words from the Professor earlier after she had assisted the authorities in the city's evacuation..."

(Scene cuts to a grainy image of the Professor on her hover platform constructing some sort of large, high-tech device. Tears are streaming down her face)

"It... it killed him. He... he was the most powerful of us all but somehow it contorted the space-time matrix, warping the interstitial space within his molecular construction. And it froze Rocket Man. Froze him solid! Whilst Oak spontaneously combusted and Captain Miraculous transformed into a young boy. The chaos energy the creature is emitting is too great for even me to measure and it keeps shifting, changing. I... I don't know what it is. Merlini called it Monstro - some sea monster from a movie - and I guess the name is as good as any for this... murderer.

Now please, keep back. I need to build a chaotic conversion matrix, though whether Dr Dynamo can produce enough electrical energy to power it in order to contain this Monstro, I don't know. It's just so... powerful. And... and Viktor's dead. I... Please stay BACK!!"

(The image breaks up and returns back to Lena Lewis, looking worried, as more explosions echo nearby)

"This is one of America's greatest disasters since the dawn of the Cosmic Age back in the sixties. Most of this southern city has been destroyed and no one knows whether the cosmics can stop the creature from causing further damage. Radio signals cannot be transmitted out and reporters are not being allowed inside the city limits. Even the air space has been closed after a jet plane was apparently transformed into snow".

"So, in the meantime, our prayers go out to those still trapped in the city whilst we cross our fingers and hope that our cosmic heroes prevail against this Monstro".

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cosmics: Destruction...

~ 7:00am, Tuesday 20th July 1999 ~

Jack Harper woke and turned off the alarm. A new day had dawned in Miami. Jack sighed wearily. For the past few years he had always looked forward to sleep. It was a welcome release from the pressures of the day. A pity, then, that sleep seemed to last but a moment. It felt like only a couple of minutes ago that he'd put his head down on the pillow at the end of the first day of a working week.

And now it was Tuesday morning.

Megan, his wife, stirred as Jack got up and made his way to the bathroom. He always got to use the bathroom first due to the fact that Megan left the house later than he did. She'd given up her job as a nurse a couple of years ago and now worked in the local store part time. She'd said working in the hospital had reminded her of the past and Jack had agreed that she should change jobs. Eighteen months later he'd done the same thing.

Jack joined his wife for breakfast after showering. It was a simple and quiet affair. They said little to each other beyond enquiring as to whether each other had slept okay and what the day's weather would be. Eventually, after getting himself ready for work, Jack picked up his briefcase, kissed his wife goodbye and drove away in his reliable Honda.

It appeared to be a normal, ordinary day in the life of Jack Harper, ex-ER doctor and one of the many current employees of GenTech Industries.

~ 8:55am, Tuesday 20th July 1999 ~

Entering the small Miami office of GenTech, Jack flashed his badge at the security guard and smiled at the receptionist. The receptionist, Clare something, smiled back and said hello. Although he was a doctor and a scientist, Jack didn't look like your typical science-geek type. He was tall, broad, plainly handsome and built like a linebacker. People tended to notice him, women especially. Jack tended to ignore them back.

Entering the elevator, Jack made his way to the labs, via his shared office. He'd been employed as a research assistant at GenTech for only six months now, primarily working for the Department of Advanced Neo-Genetic Experimental Research. As Jack entered the "DANGER" lab, as some amusingly called it, a voice shouted out a greeting.

"Hey, Smilin' Jack. How're things?" called a small, grey-haired man dressed in a bright white lab coat.

It was Bob Morgan. Doctor Bob as people called him and the man who had christened the department the "DANGER" lab. He was also Jack's boss.

"Not bad, Bob. How about you?" answered Jack, without the glimmer of a smile on his face.

"Ready for another stimulating day in the Danger lab!" Bob replied, a broad grin on his face.

Jack nodded, grunted and put on his somewhat more drab lab coat over his sports shirt and trousers. The lab coat was a little small for his frame but Jack felt reassuringly comfortable in it. Indeed, thought Jack, it was another day in the lab. However, it was far from as stimulating as his days in the hospital's emergency room. And for that, Jack was grateful.

~ 11:20am, Tuesday 20th July 1999 ~

Jack's current work was in the area of Engineered Negligible Senescence and (ultimately) involved trying to replicate the regenerative properties of certain amphibians in humans. A number of years ago, research had indicated that some mice had this ability and Jack now had the task of tying down what that process was and what genes were responsible for this capacity. He had it down to six specific genes and now had to see if these could be stimulated in the human genome to enhance the innate regenerative ability of people.

Jack was busy studying the possible use of hepatocyte nuclei when, suddenly, the fire alarm went off. He hadn't heard that a drill was scheduled which meant the alarm was probably genuine - albeit due to a minor fire in one of the other labs, no doubt. A second later, a young research assistant rushed into the lab.

"Hey, have you lot heard? They're getting everyone to evacuate the city", gasped the co-worker, a little out of breath.

"What?" said Doctor Bob incredulously. "Who're 'they'?".

Jack looked from his boss to the other man, a deep frown on his face. He hastily continued to put away his work. The research assistant shrugged and began to turn around, heading back the way he had come.

"Not sure", answered the man over his shoulder. He then added, "Someone said the FBI and Homeland Security had announced it. The military are getting involved. Everyone's heading out". He retreated out of the door and off to tell others his news.

One of his fellow workers had been tapping away on a terminal and he pointed to the screen.

"He's right", he exclaimed in excitement. "The internet's full of the news. The national guard has been deployed to get Miami clear. There's some sort of huge monster heading this way. Cosmonaut and the Professor are heading out to meet it".

Jack grumbled, the low, deep noise rumbling from well inside his broad chest. All he wanted, he thought, was a quiet life. Was that so difficult? What on earth was going on out there? Would the cosmics stop this creature? He had to get to Megan and make sure she was safe.

All of a sudden, the building shook, causing a few bottles to crash to the floor. His fellow researchers were already heading to the door, whilst Jack tried to clear away the dangerous biochemicals.

"C'mon Jack", Bob called from the doorway.

"Just a second!", Jack replied, although by then Bob had already rushed out of the room and was now half way down the corridor. Deciding to leave everything as it was, Jack took a stumbling step towards the open doorway.

It was then that the second, much larger quake hit the building...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cosmics: Unicorn and Blindsight

Samantha - Sam to all who knew her - stepped into the room that was to be her workplace for the foreseeable future and slowly turned her head from side to side. She couldn't see anything because she'd been blind since birth but her enhanced cosmic senses more than compensated.

She could hear the deep throb of the air-conditioning fans, the higher-pitched whine of the computer fans and the whir of the hard discs in the server. She could smell the chemical cleaner used to mop the floor, the traces of aftershave of the workers who had set up the equipment and the fresh leather of a new reclining chair. She could also feel the vibrations of people moving nearby and the slight draught from the air-con.

She was blind but her other heightened senses gave her clues and hints which she could use to build a reasonable picture of her surroundings. However, these were secondary compared with her cosmic ability to 'sense' mass.

Every object with a mass had its own gravitational pull and Sam was somehow able sense this. The Professor once said she could detect "distortions in the gravitational space-time matrix" or something like that. Actually, she had probably described it in a much more lengthy and convoluted manner but what it came down to was that she could "see" the general shapes of objects. She couldn't see their colour nor their texture and the shape and size was not exact but it was enough for her to know where things were.

She moved into the room, gently tapping her slim staff in front of her. Of course, she didn't really need the staff anymore. She'd acquired it when the special glasses the Professor had built for her had begun to fail. The loss of her electronic sight had left her blind again but that had the surprising side effect of allowing her enhanced senses to emerge. Now, she could almost see like normal, at least normal for her. She could navigate without the staff but she kept it, if only to use it to protect herself. Just like the Twilight Man had taught her.

The Twilight Man had taught her many things as well as how to fight with the staff. She'd been good with computers even before she'd met him but he'd enhanced her skills significantly as well as adding to her detection and deduction abilities. She had learned a lot since joining the Cosmic Knights. So, she hoped, had Mark.

Putting down her staff, Sam sat in the comfortable leather chair at the computer desk. Unusually there were no screens in the room - she had no need of them. Instead, above the keyboard there was a Braille reader that would show her what she typed. Also there were some speakers and specialised software that would read out what would've appeared on the screen. A microphone allowed her to input voice commands.

However she didn't need most of this. An interesting by-product of the bio-electronic interface to the Professor's special glasses was the ability to connect to nearby computers over a Wi-Fi connection. Her wireless neuro-connector only allowed her to read information from enabled computers but this meant she could 'see' the information that would've appeared on a screen.

Leaning down, Sam switched on the PC terminal. In this small room she had her own server and the PC in front of her was connected to this. The server in turn was connected to the Knight's mainframe and to a huge database of information and utilities. This in turn was connected to the various local authority facilities and, of course, to the worldwide Internet.

Once the machine had booted, Sam 'connected' to the terminal and decided to do a little web surfing. She wanted to get herself familiar with the local network and then perhaps have a look at what new cosmic related news there was on the 'net. But she knew she couldn't spend too long surfing - she had a dinner date to get ready for.


The muggers in the parking lot didn't know what hit them.

They'd been accosting a young woman who had just opened the door of her car when a flash of twinkling lights appeared next to them. The lights said, "Boo!" and then punched one of them, knocking him to the ground.

Reacting quickly, the other dark-clothed attacker pointed his gun at the shining man, who just said, "Didn't your parents ever tell you it's rude to point" and promptly disappeared.

Before the man could turn, his feet were knocked out from underneath him. He fell to the ground and his gun dropped from his hands. A swift punch from the glittering man made sure the mugger stayed down.

Her rescuer looked at the two fallen men and tsked. "Only one wisecrack", he muttered before turning towards the woman. He gave her a warm smile and said,

"Hi. I hope you're okay? Yeah? Well, could you please call the police because I have to go. Dinner date, y'know. Thanks!"

And with a *pop* he was gone leaving behind a swirl of twinkling stars.

The woman blinked. It was all over in a matter of seconds. One moment two men were pointing guns at her and the next they were on the floor unconscious. What had happened? Was her shining knight that Unicorn guy, the new recruit to the Cosmic Knights? Where had he gone?

Cosmics! She shook her head in disbelief. Reaching a quivering hand into her purse, she pulled out her cell phone and dialled 911, whilst the tantalisingly brief vision of her ruggedly handsome rescuer in his skin-tight costume played upon her mind.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cosmics: Beauty and the Beast

The Beast by Jeff Hebert
In a small apartment on the outskirts of Paris, Jean-Pierre Charmant pushed down on the suitcase but it did not close.

"What 'ave you put in zis bag, ma belle?" he huffed whilst desperately trying to keep the case closed. The deep blue suitcase was so full of the latest French fashions that there appeared to be no hope of it ever closing.

"It is just ze things I need for our 'oliday, mon petit Bete", Michelle answered innocently, her voice rich and alluring like velvet. Michelle Mignonne - Belle in Paris' version of La Belle et le Bete - had known Jean-Pierre for many months now and was wise to his moods. She simply smiled at her large, handsome partner and added, "Any way, most of ze clothes in zere are yours. And ze hairspray would take up a whole suitcase itself. Stop fussing".

"Fussing? I do not fuss, belle", said Jean-Pierre choosing to ignore the comment about the hairspray. "And zis is not some vacation, as ze Americans say". He pronounced the work vacation in a typically French way whilst rolling his eyes when he mentioned Americans.

"Zis is my work - our work", he added, with a little pride. "We will perform our show to many more whilst I protect ze people and fight evil. Zat Professor, she 'as asked for me to help protect some Mousketeers during ze fortieth anniversary celebrations over ze Pond. I will be mixing with ze rich and famous".

"And", added Michelle, selecting even more clothes to put into another suitcase, "we will meet zis Doctor Dynamo and zat monsieur Twilight. And ze Unicorn...". Her head tilted to one side as she dreamily thought about the handsome, athletic hero.

Finally frustrated with the full-to-the-brim suitcase, Jean-Pierre tensed and initiated his cosmic change. He began to grow, his already large frame increasing in size. Dark brown hair sprouted from his body and covered the huge muscles that now bulged on his arms, legs and chest. Within seconds, the handsome man was replaced by the huge Beast of legend; although his intimidating look was ruined somewhat with having to duck his head to fit in the room.

The Beast growled.

"Zat Unicorn is just an uncultured boy. He lacks sophistication. And zat costume he wears...!". The Beast muttered his annoyance as he sat down on the suitcase, closing it suddenly with a bang that threatened to break the hinges.

Michelle looked at him in mock surprise and then smiled.

"You are just jealous", she said and stepped over to the hairy creature and began to run her hands through his fur.

The Beast purred but added, "Careful of my fur. I 'ave only just washed it".

Michelle pouted, wrinkling her cute nose, but said nothing.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. A somewhat timid voice from outside called.

"Monsieur Charmant. The taxi to the airport is here!"

"Mon Dieu! Already?" exclaimed Beast, quickly locking the suitcase that he sat on. Michelle moved back to the other case and closed that one as well. She called out a reply to man behind the door.

"Thank you. Tell ze driver to wait a few minutes, oui?"

Michelle leant over as the Beast was picking up his case and gave the large, hairy man a kiss on cheek. Beast smiled and returned the kiss with greater passion on Michelle's rose-red lips.

"I think", said Michelle once she had removed herself from the Beast's embrace, "zat it is time for you to change back. Zere are no villains 'ere to defeat".

"No", agreed the Beast, grinning, "I 'ave already been conquered by a beautiful maiden". He bowed gracefully and began to shrink. Within moments, the well-groomed handsome man had returned. He picked up both cases and headed for the door.

"Let us go and meet these Americans and ze legends of Millenia City".

Michelle laughed and opened the door to the corridor, and their new life, beyond…

(apologies for the appalling French accents)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cometh the Cosmics

"Dynamic Defender - An Interview with Dr Dynamo
by Janice Jones
(excerpt from the September 2010 edition of Cosmic Magazine)

The brightly lit lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel here in downtown Millenia was surprising quiet when I agreed to meet the subject of our interview. Outside, a typical Floridian thunderstorm deposited gallons of swampy rainwater into the streets and gutters, painting the outside world a dark gray. As I sat waiting for my hero to arrive, pools of the rainwater ran off my coat and collected at my feet. Not a good start.

Thankfully, I didn't have to sit in my self-made puddles long. As if generated by the thunderstorm itself, a streak of lightning suddenly erupted from the front doors of the hotel. A moment later, there in front of me was Dr Dynamo, protector of Florida's supercity and member of the newly reformed Cosmic Knights.

Unlike the gray day outside, the man who stood in front of me shone with, dare I say, inner light. I can quite definitely say that I was in awe of the glowing figure in front of me. He's easily six foot tall, with a strong, square jaw and a Roman nose. The mask of his golden costume covers his hair and eyes, but one can imagine short, dark hair and blue eyes sparkling with energy beneath the strange fabric. The skin-tight costume also shows off his muscled, athletic build to swooning effect.

He's not at all what you'd expect from a typical doctor of science.

Dr Dynamo, known by some as the Living Lightning, greeted me warmly, if a little apprehensively, before we made our way over towards the bar. The hotel had been made aware of the interview and so had cleared the area to ensure no one else, other than the barman, was around to distract us. We sat and I ordered a soda whilst the golden god in front of me ordered, perhaps surprisingly, a cool beer. Once my heart had sufficiently settled, I began my questions.

Cosmic Magazine: First, may I ask, are you any relation to the original Dr Dynamo, active in the 60s?

Dr Dynamo: (looks somewhat shocked) There was an original Dr Dynamo?! No, I didn't know I was the second with that name and I've never met the man or heard anything about him, I'm afraid. I just chose the name because it indicated my scientific background and because dynamos generate electricity, like myself.

It's not like I've trademarked the name nor am I considering releasing a range of action figures, like some cosmics. So I hope he doesn't mind, if he reads this.

Still, it's good to know that the Dr Dynamo name has been around since the advent of cosmic beings.

CM: So you've not been around since 1961? How long have you been Millenia's protector?

DD: Well, now...(thinks for a moment) Probably since the end of 2001. I gained cosmic powers in '95 but didn't actually start in the hero business until the spring of '97, after the Cosmic Powers Registration Act had been dropped. That was up in South Carolina. I was young then and made a lot of mistakes. It wasn't until I moved here to the newly built Millenia that I finally found my feet, as it were.

CM: So you've been a hero for 13 years now? That's quite some time. It doesn't seem that long.

DD: (laughs) No, it doesn't. Thirteen years, eh? To be honest, the first few years were quite low key and, thankfully, no one remembers the stuff I was doing back then. But still, yeah. Long time.

CM: And, may I say, you don't look a day over 21. So has it all been good? Do you enjoy your life as a superhero?

DD: Enjoy being a superhero? Well, it has its moments. But I'm not in it for the enjoyment. I do it because I can. Because I have these cosmic abilities and, rather than abuse them, I've decided to use them to help others and protect those that need protecting. Those rewards are more than ample, Miss Jones. Anyway, I do have another life to enjoy.

CM: Yes, you're one of the few cosmics who keeps his identity secret. So what about those other enjoyments? What hobbies and interests do you have when you're not being a hero?

DD: Well, as people may have guessed from my name, I'm a scientist. I'm interested in new scientific advances and technologies. Stuff like cosmology and research into the bursts of exotic cosmic rays. I'm also interested in the New World project on Mars and all the exciting advances in space exploration. During any downtime, I'm a big fan of science fiction and love to read whenever I can. Or watch old sci-fi shows like, you know, reruns of Star Trek. God, that sounds a little geeky, doesn't it? (smiles)

CM: Only a little, maybe. Being a hero is somewhat surprising for a scientist and the living conduit of lightning. Why aren't you helping to power Millenia or something similar?

DD: (lightning briefly flashes from his raised hand) That's a good point. I'm afraid my lightning powers don't lend themselves to continuous operation. They work best in short bursts. I can fly lightning quick but only for a short length of time. I can fire bolts of lightning, but these last only a second. If I sent a blast of electrical power into the power grid, it would probably fry the transformers and blow fuses.

Still, I have used my powers to provide electrical energy a few times, but usually only when it's really needed. Such as just after the Monstro disaster that destroyed Miami and also to cover during the occasional blackout in this city. However, since the recent advent of fusion reactors I'm glad to say my talents as an energy provider are rarely needed.

CM: Your other talents, by which I mean stopping villains, are still required though.

DD: Yes. It seems there are more and more villainous cosmics created every day. Sadly, my work countering them will probably continue for some time.

CM: You said earlier that you liked to watch TV. Have you ever seen the show Cosmic Reality? Would you be interested in being a part of something like that? Perhaps increasing your fame?

DD: Cosmic Reality?! God, no. Yes, I watched some of the first season of that rubbish, but really, I'm surprised it does so well. It's just so boring watching these sell-outs sitting around all day arguing. They should be using their gifts to help people not to be famous and make money.

No, I'm not interested in fame. Although, of course, what I do comes with a certain amount of publicity. You can't help but attract attention when you're fighting people like that Red Baron and his Red Brigade.

CM: You've now started mentoring another young hero known as Kid Kinetic. How is that going?

DD: (winces and pinches bridge of his nose) Oh, Kid Kinetic. Well, yes, erm, things are going slowly, which considering the speed of the kid is kind of surprising. He just won't stand still for more than a second. Always running off without listening to plans or tactics. Still, I think he's improving. And his heart's in the right place, if you know what I mean. Eventually, he'll make a good hero. I'm sure he will.

At this point in the interview, I was about to ask another question when Dr Dynamo held up his hand whilst tilting his head as if listening to an inbuilt radio. A moment later, the golden man stood, apologizing. The Masters of Mayhem were attacking the Cube, Millenia's cosmic prison, for the second time that month.

With a wave, Dr Dynamo transformed into the familiar bolt of human-shaped lightning and zapped off into the gray downpour outside. I didn't even get the chance to say thank you (or to ask the golden hero for his phone number). Instead I'm left in the hotel bar with the remains of my glass of soda and the smell of ozone in the air, hoping that Millenia's most energetic hero can save the day once again.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Blood Rites (by Jim Butcher)

Although this is the first of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden novels I've reviewed on here, it is actually the 6th in the series. This will therefore be a general overview of the series rather than concentrate on this particular book. Anything written here applies equally to all the rest.

Like Mike Carey's Felix Castor books, the Harry Dresden books are an urban fantasy detective thriller series of novels with plenty of pulpy action. And like the Felix Castor books they are awesome. However, whereas Mike Carey's books limit themselves to undead phenomena - ghosts, zombies, werewolves, demons - all of which are linked to the spirits of deceased people, the Harry Dresden books include all things mythical, magical and supernatural.

For instance, in Blood Rites Harry is employed by an adult film director to protect the women of his cast from an entropy curse (thankfully, the book does not stoop to describing the inner workings, as it were, of adult movie production in fine and pornographic detail. Or any detail really). In the meantime, Thomas Raith - a White Court vampire - crops up and reveals a connection with Harry that significantly changes the wizard-for-hire's view of his life. Pretty much anything fantastical can crop up in these books - magical curses, werewolf packs, mischievous fairies, evil elven courts, three types of vampire, a mysterious guild of sorcerers, and so on. He also has an interesting take on vampires, introducing 3 different types - White, Red and Black - with increasing 'monstrous-ness' instead of just the usual single type.

As well as interesting twists on the usual magical menagerie, these books are full of action. Even during the quiet, character-building scenes you're not far away from the next clash against sorcerous shenanigans. This usually culminates in a battle of wits against the big boss villain near the end of the book. In this case, Harry goes up against Lord Raith, who is immune to magic and also once 'knew' Harry's mother.

The Dresden Files series of books are one of my all-time favourites and this is no exception. Sure, the books are about as subtle as a brick and are hardly going to win prizes for high art but they are a heck of a lot of fun. If you're a fan of modern day fantasy or of supernatural fantastical thrillers or just pulp detective stories with a twist, then I recommend you go out and get the first book, Storm Front.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Merlin: The Sorceror's Shadow

A tough ruler is faced with the task of ensuring that an evil, corrupting influence is vanquished from his peaceful land. That's sort of one of the messages broadcast in this episode of Merlin, a couple of weeks ago (sorry I'm somewhat behind in my reviews). But more on that later...

This episode features yet another tournament in Camelot - they must have one every month. Mind you, with no TV or radio I guess they have to have something to entertain them. Unlike the other knightly tournaments, this one has no rules and anyone can enter - including Uther himself. Why he's desperate to take part in this one (especially considering how apparently deadly it is) but was happy to just sit on the sidelines for the others, I don't know. Perhaps it has something to do with him winning the last five contests.

Wait, the last five contests? And the tournaments happen only once every 10 years? If Uther won his first at 18 years old, that would make him 58 when he won the last tournament and 68 now. Anthony Head doesn't look that old! I'd also be very concerned if a 60-something year old was able to defeat every other fighter - including any soldiers or knights that entered the competition - in Camelot. The only rational explanation is that, like Arthur in this episode, everyone is letting Uther win. Perhaps they're worried that Uther will accuse them of using magic to win and have them burnt at the stake?

Talking of magic, this episode also features Gilli, a young man who his using magic channeled through a ring to help him in the tournament. Can't say I thought much of the actor who played Gilli. He seemed a little wooden. Anyway, after killing a bully, the power goes to his head and he winds up fighting Uther in the final.

Now, I got the impression that Gilli wasn't using the magic ring all the time during his fights. Which means he must be a reasonably good swordsman without magical assistance. So, not only is he quite good at fighting, he also knows a bit of magic. I'm not sure what he was moaning about.

Anyway, in order to rein in the lad, Merlin confesses to him that he also has magical powers and tries to get Gilli to leave the tournament. There then followed a little emotional scene with both of them in tears. I'm not quite sure why - it seemed a little over-dramatic. It's here where it's inferred that magic is a corrupting influence on people. Considering what it's done to Morgana, Morgause and Mordred (never give you child a name beginning with "Mor" in Camelot - they're fated to become evil) and almost to Gilli, then it seems that Uther is right in trying to suppress magic. He may have used a somewhat heavy hand, but the idea was probably right.

Merlin seeks out some advice from that big ol' Dragon, who tells him that if Uther is killed by a sorceror it might harden Arthur's heart against magic. Which is something neither the Dragon nor Merlin want. And so Merlin risks himself (and, again, uses magic right out in the open) to stop Gilli. So let's hope Uther isn't killed by some other sorceror then - like Morgause or Morgana. Magic-users in Camelot will be stuffed under Arthur's reign if that happens!

In the end, Gilli managed to get to the final and, due to Merlin's intervention, came second only to the king (who, remember, has "won" five times in a row already). You'd think the Captain of the guards, the king's army and any bands of mercenaries would be eager for this young man to join up with them. With a little more training he'd be one of the best warriors in Camelot. But no, Gilli just sulks off at the end of the episode.

This was an okay episode - not bad but not wonderful. At least there was no farting! There were some good fight scenes - especially the little nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it didn't really progress the main plot and the acting was only okay.

Of course, after this is the two-part end of season finale. That should be good!