Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Six

Chapter Six: Deal with the Devil Ray
     The sun beat down over the Floridian town of Beachrock with a fury it ordinarily reserved for the desert. Though he would never admit it, Luthor was glad to have traded his usual suit and tie for more comfortable, thinner clothes. Still, it was only for a few hours, while he completed his business with Devil Ray.
     Dominic was completing the transfer of Devil Ray’s payment before the latter’s eyes. Luthor had no intention of double-crossing him, but the Ray was not to know that. Even one as far removed from society as him knew of Luthor’s fearsomely duplicitous reputation.
     Resting on the scalding sands, recently unloaded from Devil Ray’s submersible craft, was a large crate, the size of a pickup truck. LexCorp engineers were examining every detail of its contents, and so far it checked out. The Ray had kept up his end of the bargain.
     “Interesting name,” Dominic suddenly blurted, his nerves clearing getting the better of him. He tried avoiding the Ray’s one, red, strip of an eye, but the crimson glow quickly caught his gaze.
     Devil Ray leaned down, inches from Dominic’s face. “I did not choose it.” “T-then what is y-your r-real name?”
     The Ray considered this for a moment. He checked Dominic’s tablet computer, and read that the transfer was complete. He fixed Dominic with his red visor once more. “...David...”
     With that, he strode purposefully towards Luthor himself. “Our trade is complete. If you wish to contact me again, use my established business channel. Nobody is welcome in the Devil’s Deep save the Manta, and next time I will not make an exception for your messenger.”
     “Understood.” Luthor stood his ground. Not a blink or a flinch. After all, the Ray’s only advantage over him was his strength.
     As Devil Ray stomped back to the crate to the back of a LexCorp flatbed truck, Luthor smiled. While the crate’s other contents would no doubt prove of great use to him, it was the K-metal that made this purchase so worthwhile. If Dr. Fine’s research continued to be correct, the K-metal would-
     A sudden creaking, and Devil Ray’s submersible began falling. There must have been a sharp drop off shortly into the water, as in moments it had completely disappeared. Luckily the flatbed was already off the beach, as Luthor was sure that had it not been, it too could have been sent spiralling into the deep.
     Devil Ray’s attention was fixed on the shoreline, where a figure burst out of the water and landed with such force it scattered the sand beneath him, making a small crater. He was dressed in a tunic of orange mail, and wore tight trousers not dissimilar to those of a wetsuit. His expression was severe, and half-covered by strands of long blond hair. In his right hand, he clutched a golden trident.
     “Manta!” he shouted, and swung his trident at Devil Ray, sending him flying back across the beach. He tried to land a blow on the Ray’s head before he could get up, but the Ray was too fast. He got to his feet and drew out a small shaft that was dwarfed in his hand. It grew into a barbed spear.
     Luthor quitely called Dominic back over to him. His chauffeur scrambled to get both of them back into the car, but Luthor had to watch for a moment more.
     “Manta!” the orange-clad warrior - who the media so mockingly dubbed ‘Aquaman’ - bellowed. “Your diabolical trading is at an end! No more will you defile the seas!”
     Devil Ray’s response was unwavering. If he was at all intimidated by Aquaman, he didn’t show it. Luthor was impressed. “I am a humble businessman. If you do not like the treasures I have to sell, be they wrecks or rare marine life, then simply don’t buy them. What authority do you have to stop me?”
     “The authority of the king of Atlantis!”
     And as the beach finally descended into chaos, Luthor dropped into his car and sped away. He could hear the thunderous blows dealt behind him as the car careened away down the path, back onto the coastal highway.
     “Get me to Ivy University.”

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To be continued...

Countdown to Justice continues this Saturday, August 30th!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Five

Chapter Five: You’re Not Alone
     “It must be tough,” Clark began, “having had Mars in the first place. I never knew my parents, or Krypton, but you...I’m so sorry, Mr. J’onzz.”
     So polite. “Call me J’onn.”
     Here was a feeling J’onn had not expected to find in Smallville: relief. For the first time since H’ronmeer’s Curse, J’onn did not feel alone. Clark knew what it felt like to be the last of a great race, to have an entire peoples’ legacy on his shoulders.
     Clark had found a similar solace from the Martian. J’onn was not only the last of his race, but had suffered a more terrible loss. What Clark had only dreamt of having, J’onn had had and lost, yet here he was, fighting back. That gave Clark a glimmer of hope, a pure blue light in his soul showing him a tomorrow where he wouldn’t have to be alone.
     “You’re not a hard man to find, Clark.” J’onn smiled. “Take it from a detective, you want to cover your trail more carefully. There’s no telling who else out there might be looking for you.”
     “I dread to think. Even in this last year, I’ve made some enemies.”
     J’onn looked at him quizically. “A man with the strength to move mountains worries about the likes of Morgan Edge, and Glen Glenmorgan?”
     Before Clark could protest, J’onn continued. “I know the game, son. On Mars, I was also a detective, and I made enemies, even my own brother Ma'alefa'ak. I can help you, Clark, if you’ll have me.”
“Why are you so interested in me?”
     “Because the world’s interested. When you fought Zod, when you saved the Earth from his army, the humans were faced with two truths that would change their world forever. The first was that not only is there life in the great void, but that it is significantly more powerful than any human military can defeat. That’s a terrifying thought for anyone, and the whole world now feels that terror. But the second truth, and this is a great comfort to many, is that not all alien life is malicious. You have shown them that there is always hope, and that is why they call you Superman - you’re more than they are, but you’re still a man.”
     At this, Clark was silent. There was no way to respond to something like that. J’onn had such immense confidence in Clark, though they had only met that night.
     “And Clark, you need not do this alone.”
     They walked deeper into Shoulder Gorge in total silence as weight of J’onn’s last comment settled on them both. There were others fighting the good fight all over the world, who could be summoned if the need arose. The two aliens hoped that day would never come, but fate was drawing that day closer and closer. The countdown had already begun.
     “What helped you, growing up with godlike power,” J’onn asked. “What anchored you to humanity?”
     Clark grinned. “Back in high school, I was captain of the football team. It felt so good to be a normal kid, on that field, playing a normal sport, and I was good at it. I cherished those games more than...more than anything.” He stopped for a moment. “How about you, J’onn? What helps you, when you feel a little more alien than usual?”
     He thought about it for a second, and then it came to him. “Chocolate.”

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To be continued...

Stay tuned for the next chapter of Countdown to Justice, on August 27th, where we head to Florida for a meeting with the dreaded Devil Ray! Remember to follow the blog for regular updates.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Four

Chapter Four: Broken Spirits
     “Ask not what LexCorp can do for you, but what you can do for LexCorp, Miss Swann.” I lean across the table and peer behind Patricia Swann’s hard grey eyes. “Your father’s research - I know it exists - is of great interest to me.
     “You came to me looking for a job, hoping for...what? Help, for old times’ sake?” I shake my head. “If you want me to alleviate some of your debts, then you will have to play ball. I need something in return. Every piece of data your father and his colleagues ever collected on the ‘traveller’ would be a good place to start.
     “Think about it, Miss Swann.”
     She slams the door shut behind her. I know I could simply take the data from her, but ordinarily I am a man who possesses everything I could possibly desire. Now, someone else has something I want. I’d like to savour the feeling, and the acquisition of those files will be so much sweeter when Patty Swann’s spirit breaks. Then, if I am right - and I am seldom wrong - I will be one step closer to understanding the red and blue god that now walks among us. Her spirit will break; she has too much to lose if she does not earn my favour.
     Every man (and woman) has a price. Except for me. Lex Luthor.
     As devastating as the damage to Metropolis was, LexCorp has never seen such affluence. I have made it my personal mission to rebuild this great city into a Metropolis of the future. LexCorp tech is being integrated into every new home, shop or office, and the people of Metropolis, of the world, already praise me for it. So many construction contracts; I barely knew where to begin.
     Yet no matter how much of my time and money I pump back into this city, and all the technological gifts I have given that will have long-term benefits, the ‘Man of Steel’ is who these people shower with the most love. And why? He caused almost as much damage as the invaders, and his only real skill, beyond some physiological advances, is that he knows how to throw a punch. He is a toddler, not a saviour, his only instinct to lash out like a wild animal.
     But any wild beast can be tamed.
     The door opens again, too soon to be Miss Swann. It’s Reagan.
     “Sir? Dr. Fine’s coordinates were correct.”
     I lean back in my chair. This news is improving my mood. “And Devil Ray was successful?”
     “Yes sir. The alien wreckage has been recovered. The’s real.”
     And just like that, I have a leash to tame the beast.

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To be continued...

This week, there will be two chapters of Countdown to Justice! Chapter Five will be released this Saturday, August 23rd, and then the regular schedule will resume next week with Chapter Six being released Wednesday 27th August. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Three

As Countdown to Justice continues, we start to take a look at how others have reacted to the sudden appearance of 'Superman', starting in Gotham City...

Chapter Three: Just a Hypocrite in a Cape
     It’s been a year since the end of the world.
     A spaceship descended on Metropolis. Nearly a million people died. Millions more were injured or lost their homes. The power of the U.S. military barely cracked a dent in the ship’s hull thanks to gravitic technology we can’t understand, no matter how advanced our scientists think they are. Top-secret reports I acquired show that it was alien technology that eventually repelled the invaders; the very craft this ‘Superman’ arrived in was what saved our world, but not all of our people.
     A million people.
     Now we know we’re not alone in the universe. Now we know that our technology and our ‘civilisation’ hasn’t brought us that far at all, and I wonder (not for the first time) if policing the streets of Gotham is the best use of my time.
     Crime-rates are higher than ever, the highest in the country, and yet every night I dress in cape and cowl and chase any one of a dozen theatrical criminals through Gotham’s alleys and backstreets.
     Those reports call him ‘Kal-El’. The media call him Superman. I call him a potential threat. He can lift cars, fly at supersonic speed, and project beams of heat from his eyes. How can we be sure that one day, Kal-El won’t turn on us as his own people did? He executed a member of his own race. That doesn’t bode well for us.
     I’ve given him a year to play saviour, but he’s forgotten the truth about the Battle of Metropolis. A Wayne satellite saw him destroy a multi-storey parking lot. Great responsibility comes with the kind of power he has. People in Gotham have died under my watch, but never on a scale like this.
     A million people, Superman.
     Some might call me a hypocrite or a scare-monger, but if I catch the slighest whiff that Superman is becoming a threat to America, to the Earth, then I will take action. Everyone has a weakness, and I’ll find his.
     The Batman will come for him.

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To be continued...

Follow the blog to be the first to know when a new chapter arrives! We take a break next week, and Chapter Four will be released on August 20th.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Countdown to Justice: Chapter Two

Take a trip to Smallville in the latest chapter of Countdown to Justice.

Chapter Two: Look To The Stars
      The journey to Smallville is not long. Perhaps not a blink of an eye, but with my prodigious speed the journey is over quickly. An abrupt stop brings me to the outermost field of the Kent farm. I can sense him inside, alone. His thoughts are calm, focused through that telescope of his. Focused on the stars.
      I try not to peer too deep into his mind. Though I have no qualms over reading the thoughts and memories of an enemy or a criminal, as I did in my days as a Manhunter on Mars, Clark Kent is a potential ally and deserves more respect. That said, I used my telepathy to track him down, and a few of his foremost thoughts are unavoidable.
      Lois Lane…Daily Planet…Krypton…these things I already knew. Even without telepathy, a brilliant detective would be able to deduce that Clark Kent is Superman. I pray that none but me have.
      There is one thought I did not anticipate…Watchtower. I shut off my mind, but the detective in me wonders what this means. If he wishes for me to know, then he will tell me, but he has piqued my interest. 
      Invisible, I sneak close to the house. Though I cannot be seen, and through my density powers I barely displace the grass beneath my feet, but there is a chance he may still be able to hear me.
      His powers are legendary. Despite the desolation his kind wreaked on Metropolis, the people of Earth revere ‘Superman’ as a god, in a way the police or armed forces can only dream of. He is beyond the human: Ms. Lane’s first article after the Kryptonian invasion called him “the pinnacle of otherwordly power”. They see him not as a man with power, like the Hawk, Bat or Arrow, but as power itself given invulernable, primary-coloured form.
      I am below him now, looking up through the porch, through the floors of the house, at the attic. His eye is fixed on the telescope lens. For a moment, I wonder why a man with telescopic vision would use such an instrument, but I quickly realise that’s not the point. Dr. Erdel once said of me that my humanity is a greater strength than any of my abilities, and I believe that Clark Kent may cherish his humanity even more than I do mine.
      Then he hears me. I don’t know how I gave myself away, but his Kryptonian hearing is keen enough for a hundred humans. He leaps out of the window and lands before me. Though I remain invisible, he knows I am there.
      “Whoever you are, don’t make this any harder on yourself.” His blue eyes turn red and bore deep into mine. I allow him to see me, and he is momentarily taken aback at the sight of a human detective. Then I show him my true, Martian colours.
      “You’re not from Kansas, are you?” he says. His tone is lighter and more relaxed now. He knows I am not a threat.
      “Greetings, Son of El,” I begin. “My name is J’onn J’onzz.”

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To be continued... 

Follow the blog to be updated when a new chapter arrives! Chapter Three lands next week, on August 6th.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Green (BRAWL 2014 entry)

After a week of work, it's done!

And, as with many of my recent animations, here is some added canon I whipped up. Note that this is meant to enhance the film, but you don't need to read this to understand it, nor does it serve as an explanation of my somewhat shaky plot.

The Crystal Conspiracy: When the Torang Prime mine was first opened, fifty years ago, a few green crystals were found in a volcanic area on the planet’s surface. Tests revealed that a green crystal would produce cleaner, longer-lasting energy than the same amount in orange crystals, and so the company director Sorven Crick (direct descendent Hareton Crick, then president of Octan and nicknamed ‘President Business’) organised a cover-up. The green crystals were hidden, all data pertaining to them was destroyed, and scans of the upper layers of the planet were done to ensure that the robot miners were only 13% or less likely to find them. This was intended to keep consumers buying more of the orange crystals, rather than buying the more efficient green in smaller quantities. 

Following Sorven Crick’s death twenty years ago, all knowledge of the cover-up and the purpose for the specified ‘mining zones’ passed out of memory, and so the company began digging across previously-unexplored parts of the planet. By this time, the upper layers of the surface in which the robots had been mining had been mostly eroded away, and so the rediscovery of the green crystals was inevitable.

Torang Prime: Far out in the Dark Reaches, Torang Prime is the largest planet in a vast system, orbiting a grey sun. As such, there is no organic life on Torang Prime or any other planets in the Torangi system, save for the mining operation that has come to this world. It is similar to what scientist descibe as a ‘canonball world’, where intense pressure has crushed the planet’s surface into diamonds (only on Torang Prime, much of the world’s surface has been crushed into orange crystals instead).

So as not to damage the structural integrity of Torang Prime (as a rival corporation did on the planet Xamathamax, which exploded just minutes before the miners reached the planet’s core), the company planned a hundred year tenure on the planet, which would ensure that the planet would not be damaged or stripped totally bare. Even with the discovery of the green crystals, and increased production in previously unexplored ‘zones’, the company is predicted to fall short of their Maximum Mining Gain by 30%, a prediction which won current company director Orvin Klank the Miner’s Guild Environmental Award. This tenure ends in thirty years.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Countdown to Justice begins!

After putting it on hold for a couple of months while I tried to get the last couple of minifigures I needed, here is chapter one of my ongoing DC LEGO Universe project, Countdown to Justice!

Chapter One: The Martian
The snow is beating heavily at the window of my office. Outside, the city of Metropolis is unnaturally tranquil and blanketed in white. I never grow tired of the snow, for it is a phenomenon I never would have had the pleasure of experiencing on Mars.
My name is J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, and I am the last of my kind. I came to Earth through a crack in space and time. Your scientists say my home planet cannot sustain life. They are half-correct, for though Mars is now a barren wasteland of iron-laced stone, it was once home to the greatest race in the Sol system. The Curse of H’ronmeer changed all of that.
Now I live among you, using my unique abilities to disguise myself as a human. On Mars I was a Manhunter, an officer of the law, and so here on Earth I have chosen to be a detective. I continue to do my best to help protect the lives of those who cannot protect themselves.
But your world is rapidly becoming a very different place. A more dangerous place.
Last summer, men from the world of Krypton brought the full power of gravity itself to bear in the middle of Metropolis, killing thousands and doing untold damage to the city. Though a human champion, the man Luthor is funding Metropolis’ reconstruction, life on Earth will never be the same again.
  Yet he is not the only champion fighting for you. One of the Kryptonians, who had lived here in peace for thirty-three years, repelled the invaders and aids in the great rebuilding. The people call him Superman.
  Faster than a speeding bullet. Stronger than a steaming locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
It is to this Man of Steel that I now go. He has fought to keep his identity a secret, and understandebly so, but he does not see what I see. He does not yet realise that the continued existence of us all lies in unity, and he must look beyond Metropolis. Beyond America.
For now, he will look to Mars.

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To be continued... 

Follow the blog to be updated when a new chapter arrives! Chapter Two is out now!