(I do feel that I have to say this, because, I love Batman Beyond, itís a great show and though, as Iíve said before, it had so much potential, far too much of which was squandered, and these are, what I think were the top five missteps from Batman Beyond)
Once again, I do have to mention this series for introducing and forcing down all of our throats the Ďrelationshipí between Barbra Gordon and Batman (So, if you didnít like the Killing Joke movie, this is the one that started it), but this is a trope that continued its way into the comics. Thatís right, even after the series was cancelled, they doubled down on this shit. Oh yeah, Batman didnít just get her pregnant and ruin her relationship with Nightwing, but they also managed to ruin Ten, Terryís other major romance, by making her a complete fucking idiot, not that Terry was ever much better butÖugh, this is gonna be a page and a half on its own if I donít stop right now).
Moving on now from something they couldnít stop doing, to something they refused to do, and for the stupidest reason. Throughout the series, Terry had one real companion, one real confidante, Max. Fun fact, they had actually planned an episode where Dana, Terryís on-again off-again girlfriend, finally dumped him for real and the two of them, Terry and Max, wound up getting together. (If you want to know, ask in the comments, but Iím gonna sidestep the reasons for why this makes sense to me and the Batgirl thing doesnít) Now, there ARE reasons why this might not work, but, whatís absolutely Galling to me, is the one that they chose, which goes something like this: ďSheís too much like a guyĒ. (Again, sparing you a rant that would take up most of your day) This is fucking ridiculous for a Thousand reasons.
The Rogueís Gallery
A bit of a minor gripe, but, the villains, the ones specific to this series particularly, were incredibly weak. There are exceptions, Big Time, Willy Watts, Blight, but, even these never felt like they were being used to their fullest. Itís been said before that the best Batman villains are the ones he can see himself in, people he wants to help. While the series does try to show layers to some of its recurring characters, this concept is actually very absent from most of the series and I do think of this as a detriment (To be blunt: Big Time is an irredeemable thug who just happens to be Terryís old friend, I get that we should feel bad for Willy Watts, but heís just a nerd with a god complex, and Blight never did a goddamn thing aside from being a skeevy businessman).
The Old Guard
Putting aside that the series seems to actively hate the original Batman, and itís not that I donít appreciate them going back to the well the few times that they did, but there are a number of old villains who could, and probably would, still be active in the future. Excluding the ones that it would have just been nice to check up on (We never do find out what happened to Catwoman) but there are others who were pretty much immortal (Clayface, Poison Ivy, Klarion). Again, I have to say that I like how they drew from the source material and tried to evolve some of these concepts, but what we really needed wasnít an idea, it was a face to put behind it, a will and an intelligence to push it forward.
The Heir Apparent
I cannot, I do not, and I never will, accept it as cannon that Terry McGuiness is actually Bruce Wayneís son. It makes no sense, and basically turns Terry from a scrappy street urchin who fought tooth and nail to be worthy of the mantle, to another victim of nepotism (the most convoluted form of nepotism ever conceived in fact). It really does hurt my enjoyment of the series by recontextualizing a lot of its events, and I can only speak for myself, but, this is what people mean when they say that a new iteration has Ďruined their childhoodí. By all means, this series did not encompass my entire childhood, but it did take what I thought was inspirational about it and slapped it in the face. I just canít look at it the same way again.
A Week Later
Ichabod sat across from Caroline, his wounds healed fairly well at this point, Medea had even managed to work some magic to fix his internal injuries, but at the moment, the only thing left to show that he had lived through that Hellish night were a few faint scars. Well, that and a sense of purpose that had far too long been absent from his demeanor. They rearranged the room a bit since the incident, pulling a small table and chairs in front of the plush armchair where Ichabod sat now. To his mind, all they were missing to make this a decent, or, at least presentable reception area, was a coffee machine.
“So,” Caroline crossed her legs, leaning into a more comfortable position in the simple lawn chair “I take it you didn’t bring me here to celebrate the redecoration, you look well by the way.”
“Thank you,” Ichabod nodded to her, “But no, what I asked you here for is about the next paycheck we’re to be receiving.”
“The deal was for thirty-percent,” she grumbled in an aggravated monotone, “You have done good work so far, but I am not interested in altering…”
“No, that’s not it,” Ichabod cut her off, “I want you to put some of it aside, a hundred, maybe two, and buy us some leaflets, flyers, business cards, stuff like that.”
“You want to advertize?” Caroline inferred, “For the scrap yard?”
“No, for me,” he leaned forward, “I want to open up a side business.”
“Saving people, hunting things, exorcising and killing demons.”
“And you have experience with these?”
“Aside from last week, yeah, over ten years, it’s not something I was born to, but I am good at it, I mean, aside from the collateral damage.”
“I’ll admit, you made a strong first impression, and not just with Bagoul El-Zewae, but you may find things different on this side of the fence, so to speak, we deal with more ‘wild evils’, ones who strike without warning, and leave nothing but devastation in their wake.”
“My specialty,” Ichabod afforded her a pleasant nod.
“If you’re so confident in your abilities, then why come to me?”
“Because your family is, frankly, terrifying as all Hell.”
“Thank you,” Caroline smiled.
“And also,” he continued on, “You’re connected, people know you and they respect your opinions, if we have your backing, then I won’t have to spend the next three years trying to build and solidify my reputation.”
“Ah, so that is the point,” Caroline nodded, then leaned in to meet his eye level, “Fifty-percent.”
“Come again?” Ichabod looked back at her, stunned.
“You wish to use us as an agency of sorts, to represent and vouch for your character, and, you will likely be charging for your services, then we will charge you an agency fee.”
“Uh, check your numbers again, average agency fee is ten-percent.”
“But,” she leaned closer, “We are not average are we? Forty-percent.”
“Done,” she shook his hand and started walking away, “And save your receipts.”
The door closed and Ichabod allowed himself to lean back in his seat. All but Oriko emerged from the kitchen, who was still watching through the window at Caroline’s retreating back.
“I really don’t like her,” the Gorgon mentioned, Ichabod and the others had spent time fixing her body, smoothing out the cracks in her synthetic flesh, and now, all but for a single scar over her left eye, she was almost better than new.
“I’d say that went better than I’d hoped,” Ichabod responded, “I figured us to settle on thirty-five.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better,” Oriko’s fingers made a clicking sound as she quickly clenched and unclenched them.
“Calm down,” Bianca rolled her eyes, taking one of the chairs across from Ichabod and propping her feet up on the other, “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
Since the incident with Beelzebub, she had taken a liking to and maintained her harpy form. At Ichabod’s, vehement, behest, she also continued to wear clothing, mostly backless dresses, or, like today, halter-tops with panel skirts. However, her main passion seemed to be jewelry of any and all sorts, from plastic bracelets to gold chains, the others had estimated an easy fifteen extra pounds added to her overall weight from the sheer amount of metal and rock she was piling onto herself.
“I mean,” Bianca tapped her foot pensively, loudly clacking a toe ring against the arm of the chair, “Unless you wanna cut her break lines or something.”
“Don’t tempt me,” was Oriko’s dark response.
“Enough,” Medea silenced them, shaking her head, “Honestly, you all act like children.”
“Yeah, sorry Mom,” Bianca snarked.
“Who wants some herbal tea?” Laurie piped up, once again holding Abacus in her arms like some kind of demonic stuffed animal, “I have a batch of Oolong leaves that just came in.”
“I’ll pass,” Ichabod stood up, heading for the exit, “Gotta finish up on the car.”
“Here’s what I don’t get,” Bianca chided him on his way out, “We had two perfectly working and operational cars, and you just abandon them for that deathtrap outside.”
“Well, I kept parts of them, besides, the Gremlin’s got character, I can’t just throw it out.”
“Sure you can,” Bianca shouted as he closed the door behind him, “It’s Easy! I’ll Help!”
The chatter continued in the shack, Laurie still trying to sell the others on her tea, and Oriko muttering something about broken kneecaps, he listened to some of it, but let it become background noise as he reached for the sheet covering the car. It was missing a few parts, he mused, folding the cloth and setting it aside, primarily a hood and roof, but was coming together quite nicely. He had to reinforce the frame and the shocks to support the new engine as well as the thicker chassis which he had been crafting from pure steel. Even with the more powerful motor, Ichabod would be surprised if it could top out at eighty miles per-hour, but the vents and side exhaust he planned to add should help with the performance somewhat. He had toyed with the notion of renaming it, after all, it hardly resembled a ‘Gremlin’ anymore, and, when he was done, it would probably look more like a tank, but decided against it.
Things change after all, there’s no stopping it, only hope that we make it through stronger for the experience.
In a dark and filthy room, one man stood over a teenager who was bound to a chair and sawed into his victim’s skull. His thick, clawed fingers reached under the brim of the incision and pulled the top away to expose the brain, placed the bowel onto a tray next to a set of tools, all of them already stained with blood from his previous works. Behind the pair, Ishmara sat on a soft leather couch, languidly twirling a rusty scalpel between her fingers. She had taken the form of an Italian woman in her mid-forties, and, when she spoke, it was more to the tool in her hand than towards either of the men in the room.
“So there I was,” the demon stated, running her thumb along the edge of the blade until it drew blood, “Out on that field, watching him work, and I already know how I’m going to take him in,” she rubbed her thumb and forefinger together until both were covered in black gore, “I could just knock him out and kill the firebird girl, but, then I realize, I have no idea what to do after I have him.”
“You’re exaggerating,” the man grabbed a corkscrew from the table and used it to drill into the meat of his victim’s mind.
“Well, I know what I wanted to do,” she admitted, licking the blood off of her fingers, “I just don’t know how.”
“Pain, money, sex,” he roughly tore the corkscrew from his victim’s head and reached for a large metal probe, that looked more like a sparkplug, “These are the universal motivators, you taught me that.”
“He wouldn’t take my money, not that I actually have any,” she rubbed the wound on her finger until it finally closed, “And, as for sex, well, he’s living with four women, and I’m pretty certain the Ignalia brat is his side piece so…”
“Pain then?” the man took three large iron spikes and shoved them into his victim’s brain.
“I’ve already tried it,” she admitted sadly, sitting up on the couch and suspending the scalpel between her fingers as she continued to stare at it, “I gave it everything I had, and… and then he killed himself, rather than begging for it to stop, he just made it stop.”
“Are you smiling?”
“I might be…” Ishmara admitted, “This has never happened to me before.”
“Ah yes, the curse of the strong,” the man said sarcastically, taking a trio of strings from a USB cable on his desk and winding them through the probe and spikes, “So very used to barreling through everything that you lose all concept of finesse.”
The scalpel flung itself from Ishmara’s hand, sliding past his exposed side, stabbing into the corner of the desk and then slicing into it, as momentum carried it through the polished wooden surface. The man stopped for a second, glancing back at her with a fearful look.
“Remember who you are talking to Abraham,” she warned him sternly.
“Of course,” he nodded and quickly finished his work with the wires before hurrying behind the desk to boot up his computer, “Um, it occurs to me that, um, have you considered leveraging the family, this group of women, or the sister?”
“Mm-mm,” shaking her head, “The sister’s in the wind, it’ll take time to find her, and, even if I tried, it’d probably just piss him off.”
“Are you saying that the boy has become a threat?” he wondered, then glanced back at the screen and began typing furiously.
“No,” Ishmara scoffed at the idea, “Not yet, not hardly, but his power… we need it.”
“You’re exaggerating again…” the man continued typing, then glanced over at her, pausing, “No, you’re serious, you don’t mean just to collect this boy, you mean to use him,” he chuckled, leaning back in his chair, “That’s why you’re here, you want me to convince him.”
“Well,” she glanced to his current project and shrugged, “This does seem to be your forte.”
With a wide terrifying grin, he pressed a button on his keyboard and caused a massive electrical charge to shoot out from the computer into his victim’s brain. The poor soul tied to the chair, shook and screamed, or, at least he tried, with his severed vocal cords it sounded more like a deep exhale. They watched him for a minute, the smoke rising from his exposed gray matter and the tears running down his face, then, the man raised his hand into the air and snapped his fingers. For a moment, all was dark, but then, like a switch had been flipped, the lights came back on, exposing a spacious, clean and overall comforting office, and the victim looked around, confused.
“[Um, excuse me, Headmaster],” the boy spoke in Italian, his hands no longer bound, nor showing any sign of previous restraint, he grasped his forehead, trying to clear some obvious cobwebs, “[I’m sorry, I seem to have lost my train of thought].”
“[It’s alright Julian],” the man spoke in a softer, more comforting voice, even his appearance had drastically changed, from a gray skinned, emaciated ghoul to a healthy olive tone, by all indication, human, and now dressed in a three piece suit, with his long lustrous hair pulled back into a short rattail, “[I’m here to listen after all].”
“[Well, it, it was, about the Chess Club],” the victim stated triumphantly, “[Yes, and I know our school’s tendency to prioritize fencing, and it’s not that I don’t understand it, our team is nationally ranked, but, it’s starting to come at the expense of our other extra curriculars, I mean, our club is having a great year, we’ve won our last three competitions and yet we’re still having to hold raffles and fundraisers just to afford the gas money so that we can go to our next meet.]”
“[Julian,]” the man stood from behind his desk and walked over to the boy, “[You’re absolutely right,]” picking up his victim by the shoulders and leading him towards the exit, “[You know I have always felt that the cloying of our culture to athletic achievement has been nothing but a passing fad, and I cannot believe that such an oversight has occurred on my watch.]”
“[I’m no stranger to sarcasm sir.]”
“[Then it may surprise you that I am being serious],” he looked into the boy’s eyes, compassionate and understanding, he even gave a comforting squeeze on the shoulder, “[Let there be no doubt in your mind young man, the future of this institution will not be found on some muddy arena, but rather],” he tapped the boy’s brow, “[In here, I’ll look into the budget and see what I can do.]”
“[Thank you Mr. Coulter.]”
“[It’s ‘Bram’ to my friends, now run along, you’ll be late for fifth period.]” the smile on his face was a wholesome one, the kind that came from a sense of satisfaction when one knows they have done right in the world, but, when the boy had left and the door had closed, it changed into a sneer, a wide grin that had drool pouring from his parted lips, “Have fun on your trip.”
He turned about, pulling out his pocket square to clean his face while Ishmara continued to look on.
“I can tell that you’re busy,” she observed, settling back into the couch, “But, I’d like an answer.”
“Hmm,” he considered it for a moment, seeming to regain some of his composure, “A chance to take a break, travel to the beautiful, desolate, scenic parts of old Mexico, and I get to play with my favorite nephew, heh, sounds like fun.”
And once again, we come to the end of the tale, and, once again, I must express my deepest, humblest and most sincere gratitude to anyone who liked, favorite, or added one of my pictures to their collection. As such, and in recognition, I would like to personally thank:
I cannot stress this enough, that for every comment, or Llama Badge, the two new watchers I’ve gained, I can only give my utmost gratitude, and most sincere apologies if I’ve over looked anybody in the course of my list. My only request would be, if you like what you see here, then spread it around, tell people about it, you can find the stories on wattpad, or on my DeviantArt page, or on mangacreationsociety (a subheading page in DeviantArt) under ‘literature’. Thank you all again, very much, for your attention and appreciation, and, well, like before, I’m going to get started on the next book, and I do hope to see you all here again in two weeks for: The Thorn Tree.
The rest of the Ignalia clan had arrived not too long after Caroline, Ichabod was hardly surprised to see them all loaded for bear when they did. He was a bit shocked, however, at what they were driving, a chrome plated dune buggy with a mounted fifty-caliber turret. Part of him wanted to ask just where this family made all of its money, whatever it was seemed to be a lucrative investment. On the other hand, he found himself confused. Why had Grace been so adamant against asking for help? It was quickly becoming his own personal consensus that, if the world really was going to end, these were the people he wanted by his side.
Despite how hung-over they should have been, none of them seemed upset by the situation, it was all smiles and handshakes, Yolanda even gave him a hug before departing. For all intents and purposes, this just seemed to be another day in life for them, the only reaction Ichabod pulled from the encounter was a sense of relief. Perhaps, he surmised, just because they didn’t have to deal with it personally for once. Nobody asked about the woman, laid out in the back seat and apparently sleeping, but, their eyes drifted to her several times, it was clear that they were curious, yet remained respectful of her privacy right up to their exit.
Alone now, Ichabod walked up to the back seat and knocked on the passenger side window.
“They’re gone,” he told her, and moved away, waiting for the door to open.
“Thanks, for keeping your mouth shut,” Grace said haltingly, while Ichabod merely sighed.
Looking in on the passenger seat, Bianca was still lying there, wrapped in his coat and fast asleep, he leaned against the car and shook his head.
“Okay,” he spoke at last, “Feel free not to answer this, but, are you a hypocrite or something?”
“Kind of,” she nodded, “But this isn’t the same thing.”
“Really? Because I’m pretty certain that you riding my ass about being close to my family and then…”
“Give me your hand.”
“Your hand,” she offered her own, “Give it to me.”
Doing as he was bid, she took hold of him and pressed his fingers against the jugular vein in her neck.
He waited, uncertain, but, after a few seconds in dawned on him, she didn’t have a pulse. Grace watched the confused look on his face grow and gave him a sad expression in return.
“We’re almost twins,” she said with a rueful smile, “But you’re the one with a heartbeat.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You ever hear of La Muerta?” Grace looked away, “Certain Gods, they can supersede the laws of life and death, if you’re willing to pay the price, what she effectively gave me was a day pass,” she raised her head to glance out at the horizon, the red and the orange spreading across the sky, “Well, technically a night pass, as soon as the sun rises I’ve got to go back and spend the next three hundred years fighting in the damn ‘War Between Worlds’.”
“There’s a war in Purgatory?” Ichabod wondered.
“Eh, where isn’t there a war,” Grace shrugged in return, then looked down at her fingertips before staring pointedly upwards, “It’s already starting.”
A golden light set in from her hands and feet, achingly slowly, crawling over her skin and leaving behind a ghostly visage in its wake.
“So, um…” she nervously stammered, “Did you ever figure out a name for that glove?”
“Working on it.”
“Well don’t keep me in suspense man, what is it?”
“December,” Ichabod walked around the car door and sat next to her on the other side, “It’s from an old song, my mom, she used to be really into country music, said she could feel a ‘rapport’ with it.”
“Yeah?” the glow had reached up to her elbows, and she leaned out of the car to see him better, “No, yeah, I think I’ve heard it before, ‘If we make it through December we’ll be fine’.”
“That’s the one,” Ichabod nodded, “It’s about this family, farming back during settlement days, the harvest wasn’t what they were hoping for, and the kids are sick.”
“I think the kids were dead actually,” Grace interrupted, then flinched, “Sorry, um, so the family is pissed off and miserable.”
“The family survives, they push on, persevere, and, apparently, I’m not allowed to give up anymore, ergo…”
“I get it, good name,” Grace nodded, chewing on her lower lip, “You know I kinda feel like I’m being dipped in cold water here, so can you please keep talking.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Please…talk about, anything… anything else.”
“Sure,” he reached out and found her hand surprisingly solid within his own, “You said you had a little brother?”
“Yes,” her voice was shaking now, but her fingers wrapped around his with a shockingly strong grip, “Uh, Collin Napier, he kept using his last name after we took him in.”
“He was adopted? Must’ve been rough.”
“Worse for him,” she chuckled, “He had to put up with me,” pausing for a moment, Grace clenched her eyes shut, “You know, there’s a lot of things I regret, but, God it took, it just took me so long to get my head on straight, and… and, can I ask you a favor?”
“I guess that depends.”
“It’s not like I’m asking your for kidney or anything just…” the glow had reached through her arms and was now engulfing her torso, “If you’re ever in California, could you look up this city called Tremor, when you go there, take the highway out of town and head east until you see this ‘fort’ on the left hand side of the road, pop your head in and, if you see a pasty-faced little shit with black hair and blue eyes, tell him that it’s not his fault, I died but, it was my choice, and, in the end, I was happy.”
“You need it done today or…”
“Are you serious?”
“Like a heart attack,” he gave her a sincere look.
“That’s cute but… no, if you ever get the chance, but, for right now, it was nice to vent, thanks for listening,” his hand slipped through hers as Grace started to become immaterial, she looked straight ahead as she spoke, “So, how long are you planning on staying in Mexico?”
“No telling,” Ichabod admitted, “Truth is I don’t have anywhere else to go, why do you ask?”
“I get shore leave every ten years or so,” the glow made it to her neck and began consuming her head, “Be nice to have some company.”
“Or, you could spend it with your real family.”
“I don’t want to string them along, or give them hope where there isn’t any, I’m dead,” the glow enveloped her entirely, and she began to fade away, “But that’s not so bad, it’s part of living after all.”
Ichabod watched the last embers of her disappear and then leaned his head back against the car, looking upwards at the sky. Though he didn’t say a prayer, he wished her luck and closed the door before wandering over to the driver’s seat. Kneeling down next to it, he found the wires she had spliced together and jumpstarted the engine.
“You should’ve kissed her,” Bianca muttered blearily.
“Thought you were asleep,” he responded, sliding behind the wheel as the car roared to life and shifting the car into gear.
“I was,” she complained, turning her head to leer at him, “And don’t change the subject, why didn’t you?”
“We did, it was earlier, you weren’t there.”
“Bull-Shit!” Bianca laughed at him.
“Yeah, and let me guess, you’ve got a girlfriend who’s Totally in her twenties, and she’s hot, and cooks you dinner, and you have sex all the time, we’ve just never met her because she lives in Florida.”
“Well, now that you mention it,” Ichabod closed the driver’s side door and pulled away, heading back towards the weather station.
“You seem… I don’t know, a little lighter,” she yawned, settling back down into the folds of his coat, “Does this mean you’re done with the whole ‘Martyr Complex’?”
“That’s not really how I’d categorize it, but…”
“Yeah, blah, blah,” was her sleepy reply, “You’re forgetting I was in your head a few minutes ago.”
“That you’ve got some twisted up ideas about us, because, we can leave any time we want, we just…” she yawned again, “We’ve made our decisions, they’re here because they love you and I’m here because I can tolerate you, sort of, which, trust me, is still pretty rare, but, saying that it’s all your fault or that it’s all on you devalues that choice,” she closed her eyes and snuggled in for another nap, “I guess I can’t stop you from feeling guilty, but, just know, whatever happens next, that…that’s on us, not you.”
“Thanks,” Ichabod nodded, glancing at her sideways, “You’ve got a good heart Bianca.”
“Go to Hell…” she murmured in response before falling asleep.
Once at the weather station, his first task was to collect Abacus who was still shaking under his hiding spot. The minute he spotted Ichabod, the little bug came running out, clamping onto his leg and burying its face, almost like it was crying.
“It’s okay buddy,” Ichabod told him in a soothing voice, and, with difficulty, managed to pull him free, only for the beetle to latch onto his chest, “It’s alright,” he repeated,” holding Abacus as he went back to the car.
Ichabod tried to put him into the back seat, but Abacus was having none of it, crawling over his arms and eventually into the crook of Ichabod’s neck where he stayed, still shaking.
“They get over it eventually,” Medea mentioned as she walked up behind them, “That clinging stage, one day you’ll be rolling your eyes in frustration, wondering why they can’t just leave you alone, then the next, you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without it.”
“You did it, didn’t you,” he turned around to face her.
“Well…” the chanter waited, matching the hard stare that was overtaking his eyes, “I was a mother, once upon a time.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I would assume, that you’re actually indicating how I HELPED Bianca.”
“You taught her a new trick, and in exchange, you made her take a deal,” he shook his head, “Don’t even try to deny it.”
“Fine then,” Medea sighed, “I’ve had this argument more times than I can count with your father alone, so, why don’t I just run over the bullet points for you, and we can move on already,” she made a show of clearing her throat and circling around him and ticking the statements off on her fingers, “’How dare you treat me like a child’, ‘I don’t appreciate being manipulated’, ‘it’s time you learned who the master is’, did I miss anything?”
“Yes, actually,” Ichabod stepped away from her, “All of it.”
“Really? Oh, so you’re going for the ‘I’m not angry I’m just disappointed’ approach, rather bold, but I won’t knock off points for trying.”
“Medea,” he shook his head, “I’m ready to listen.”
“Are you going to try to psycho analyze me now?”
“Could you please…” Ichabod gave an aggravated grunt, “Just help me, I told you, I want to understand…”
“You…” she laughed in his face, “You can’t understand, not really.”
“Ishmara possessed my mother, killed me and ate my little sister, I know why you hate her.”
“You only see hate like a matchstick flickering in the void,” she scoffed, “But my anger is the void itself, cold, all-encompassing, and endless.”
“Oh for Christ Sake, I GET IT!” Ichabod shouted, “She hurt you and now you’re pissed, you’ve been pissed for years, I know what that’s like.”
“Did you know that I was poisoning my father?” Medea demanded, drawing a look of shock and confusion as Ichabod took a step away, “Oh, it was just saltpeter at first, you know, as the king’s eldest daughter, I was only trying to secure my legacy, but then I figured, why the Hell not, and added a little arsenic to his evening wine.”
“Why are you…”
“You’ve done your research, right?” she bore down on him with a fury, “You know all about me, all the legends, the myths, the horrible deeds of Medea of Crete, and I did them all, all but one, and so much worse besides.”
“Alright,” Ichabod spoke slowly, glaring back at her, “Fine, you made some mistakes, did some bad things…”
“So much worse than bad,” Medea chortled madly, “And they weren’t mistakes, they were choices, and dear,” she reached out to stroke his cheek, her hand eventually resting on his shoulder, “sweet little Ichabod, I am not telling you that you could never know my pain, I am saying that you have been in my shoes and you chose the higher path, to my father, who was diligent and kind, I gave death, but, when your father, the disgusting, bloated, oaf, was strangling you, still you showed mercy, your family was ruined before your very eyes, yet, not once do you think of revenge, instead, you spend half of your lifespan trying to rescue an innocent, you look into the abyss and you could walk away at any time but instead you guard the door.”
“I am…” and all the rage and fury had left Medea’s voice, there were tears welling up in her eyes now, not of sorrow, but, almost joyful, “I am so very proud of you for that, but, it is for that very reason, that you can never know Me, to understand, it would break you…”
“It would be easier to lie,” Ichabod told her, and saw confusion enter her expression, “You could tell me, at any time, a thousand fables, and I would believe them all, have your mission done already, but you don’t, even now, you’re honest, Medea,” and he reached out, touching her arm and gently pushing it away, “You’re not as evil as you think you are, you just, you don’t know what good looks like anymore, but, I’m here, and so are the others, we can help you, if you let us.”
Medea reached up, pulling down the brim of her hood to help hide the tears running down her cheeks.
“You’re a fool,” she whispered.
“Of course I am,” Ichabod tossed a small metal object to her as he stepped away, “But I’m not an idiot.”
“Would stop throwing things at me…” she grumbled in exasperation, and caught the spinning metal cylinder as it sailed towards her, holding it suspended in mid-air while looking it over, it became obvious rather quickly what it was, aside from the skull face carved in where the hollow point should be, “A bullet?”
“Yes,” Ichabod told her, still slowly backing away, “I didn’t like your plan, so I decided to change it, what you’re holding in your hand, is all the rampant energy that Beelzebub put into his most recent avatar all locked away into one handy little projectile.”
“Fascinating but…” Medea shook her head, “I have my doubts that he could defeat her even at full strength.”
“Shockingly, I did consider that, that’s why I call it a Centurion Round, it’s not finished yet,” Ichabod smiled, and finally turned away, “We can sweat the details later, right now I need to burn this place?”
“Well, sixty-percent removing a potential asset that our enemies might use against us, uh, forty-percent, it’s kind of a force of habit at this point.”
She watched him leave and smiled herself, twirling the bullet around in front of her, already she could feel the power welling inside of it. As it was, the round would kill almost any living creature, and likely wound even strong paranormals, imagining it as intended was something almost awe inspiring. In theory, that is, assuming he could make enough of them, they could even destroy Ishmara, or, they could fail, and he might think of another plan, but when the time came, it wouldn’t change anything. Still it brought a sad pang to her heart, itself an organ she had thought dead for quite some time.
“My clever little boy,” Medea spoke tearfully, and, for a moment, she almost considered leaving, if only to spare him the pain of what was to come.
Off in the distance another car approached, a Cadillac driven by two men, one obese, the other thin as a rail. Georgie and Chibbs exited the car in unison, each one reaching for a weapon, but it was Chibbs alone who spoke.
“We know he’s here lady,” came the drawl of the massive Texan over the hiss of his hydraulic leg braces, “Tell us where, and there won’t be no trouble.”
Two pebbles rose up from dirt, each one matching the eye-line of their man and then shooting through their heads with enough force to blow out the back of their skulls, leaving the pair in slumped piles. Still, Medea spared them no words, so very lost in her own thoughts, she hardly even registered their presence.
In her mind, she held an image of a little baby, cooing and laughing as she pushed his mobile, and a young man, quietly reading in a field while his sister chased a rabbit, but, the more she lingered, the more the memories began to change. The smiling infant became her own sons, the young man a stark reminder of the future they had been robbed. Despite herself, the final picture she settled on was the same as always, her boys, her sons, their throats ripped open and blood dripping down, soaking her hands. The last thing Medea sees before she leaps from the window is the grinning face of Ishmara, and her bloodcurdling scream: ‘Murder, Murder, the Queen has just killed the princes’.
Closing her hand around the bullet, truthfully, there was a part of her that prayed it would work, but she had done too much, seen too much, for hope to enter into her equation. Ichabod had been right about one thing, she hadn’t lied to him, Medea had never felt emotion before that day when Jason of Corinth came to Crete, not joy or rage or sorrow, only emptiness, that had been replaced with love. To know that it was only a trick of the Gods did not diminish the sensation, nor what bloomed from it, growing inside of her, a piece of her body and her heart that had been so cruelly ripped from her grasp. No, the boy could never understand, how it had torn away what little soul she possessed, that she had become no less than the demon she now hated so passionately.
“I’m sorry,” the chanter whispered, clasping her hands and bowing her head, praying that he would forever maintain that ignorance, “But I can’t let you go, not yet.”
(Citing my own personal monetary issues, Iím going back to the well on this one and reviewing a series of CGI internet videos which encompass the Prime Wars Trilogy [them being Combiner Wars, Titans Return, and Power of the Primes], I hope you enjoy)
(Combiner Wars) After the end of the Millennia long war for Cybertron, Optimus Prime and Megatron both have found themselves in exile, while the now leaderless Autobots and Decepticons try to find a way to make their newfound peace last. However, when the Combiners rage out of control, itís up to Windblade, a former Ďcity speakerí, to forge an alliance between old enemies and fight one final decisive battle for the fate of all Transformers.
(Titans Return) Following the events of the Combiner Wars, what remains of the new Cybertronian Council attempts to recover from the battle, but, once again, their safety is short lived. Trypticon, the slumbering Titan awakens and makes his way to Metroplex City, destroying everything in his way, but all is not as it seems.
(Power of the Primes) It took everything they had to defeat Trypticon, lost Titans, and ancient relics, yet, even then, victory was stolen from their grasp. Megatronus, the Fallen Prime, took it all and made them a promise, that soon he would use this power to kill them. Now, their only hope is a ragtag group of Autobots, lead by none other than Megatron, to find the last relic and, somehow, someway, protect it from the greatest enemy any of them has ever faced.
The Good: No Humans, and yes, I know Iíve gone on record before about how the kids in Transformers series arenít always that bad, but this series is all bot on bot action and, honestly, thatís a beautiful thing. I also like the story strung through this whole saga (though, it is kind of annoying that they just drop you down dead in the middle of everything, itís not that hard to pick up, and, if you can accept it, as is, for what it is, itís fairly enjoyable). I also have to mention the voice cast, besides just that they managed to wrangle some of the original talent from the series, thereís also some guys in here that I consider to be true heavy weights, (Mark Hamil, Ron Perlman, Michael Dorn) itís just a great cast.
The Bad: Please, donít get me wrong when I say this, because most of this series really did manage to have some decent fights (Maybe not quite the early RWBY level, but pretty good), however, the battles do kind of fall apart in the Titans Return series. That mostly goes to having Trypticon and Metroplex spam the same damn moves over and over, it does get a little dull. They also have an issue with power scaling their villains, Overlord and Rodimus Cron particularly. Megatronus makes sense because that guyís literally supposed to be a God, but neither of these two jokers hardly even flinch when theyíre being attacked. They get showered with laser blasts, punched/kicked dozens of times, power right through and still savage their enemies. Itís not that I donít understand what the writers were doing here, but, it doesnít make the villains look strong, it just makes the heroes look weak.
Final Thoughts: Frankly, thereís a few other things I can complain about (the dialogue can be a little stilted in places, the worlds they inhabit feel remarkably empty, and Grimlock did jack shit all that was important to the story), but that just doesnít bother me. Well, let me restate that; it does nettle at me a little that I didnít get everything that I wanted, however, I can appreciate this series for what it is, it did its own thing and I respect that. Again, I do like the story, and, in terms of quality, itís a bit like a Made for TV movie, not exactly great, but not horrible either, not by a damn sight. In the end, itís fun, itís got the retro character designs (which a lot of fans love), and itís free. Seriously, you can watch this whole thing on YouTube right now, itís maybe four hours all together and, just my opinion, itís definitely worth your time.
|I am currently writing a book series called 'Reapr-Born' and most of my art is based off of that, mostly character sketches and comic book cover style layouts, I would like to appologize if some of the contrast or consistancy is not up to the general standard, I rarely get around to inking or coloring the pictures so sometimes the image can get lost in the canvas, but it' there, you'll just have to zoom in a little, for the record I own the copywrite to both the images and the story itself, so look, admire, hate I don't care, but just remember it belongs to me, if you wish to learn more about the characters and the world they inhabit I would suggest you buy my first book which is availible for purchase at Lulu.com, I expect to have the second volume out some time next year|