I’m late. Nothing new there. I’m a Uni student, and no matter how little we have to do we still always manage to find the time to not make it in time.
I still feel bad though, because in this case I’m late to a good cause. Moonduster over at Imagine, Create, Write has been running an amazing little competition all month. The full description is here but, basically, she and a load of other talented guys and gals are teaming up to create their own female superheroes in order to raise money for women’s charities. If that sounds awesome to you, you’d be correct, because it is.
The challenge itself is simple – cook up a new kick-butt female hero, and write a flash fiction piece about them. There may be an anthology, in which case the proceeds will go to any one of a range of charities dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of womenfolk the world over.
I stumbled across this great initiative by pure internet-link-following chance a few days ago, which may explain my lateness. I can also claim that, naively, I assumed Ms Moonduster to be American (most of you writerly blog types are, I guess there’s just rather a lot of Americans in the world) and would hence be going by USA time. Turns out she lives just doon south of bonnie Scotland. Oops.
So technically this challenge has closed, as the end date was June 30th and it is now 4 hours into July 1st. Technically this entry shouldn’t be an entry at all. I’m throwing myself up her mercy, gladiator style, and happily removing myself from the prize-winning section. What follows is my hasty, hair-brained attempt at creating a worthy female superhero in a space of a few feverish hours (it is half three in the morning here). Enjoy.
Author Name: Robbie MacNiven
Word Count: 963
Charity: Girls Leadership Institute
Name: Arkangel aka “Ark.”
Name of human alter ego: Angelina Fall.
Powers: When threatened, is protected by flames which only burn those seeking to do her harm. Inspires hope in those around her, and can salve burn wounds. Is constantly guided by a mysterious inner dialogue called the Voice, which seemingly can see into the immediate future and hence gives her excellent reflexes ect.
Appearance: Long and lean, almost willowy, with pale skin, long, raven-black hair tied up into a businesslike ponytail, and piercing blue eyes.
Human alter ego appearance (if she has an alter ego): Same (she’s a “no-cape-or-frills” kinda gal).
Costume: Usually jogging pants and a white tracksuit (she’s into fitness).
Personality: Although her powers include inspiring hope in those around her, Angelina is frequently downbeat, saddened by the cruelty and stupidity she finds in the world and plagued by her own unknown origins. Despite this she seeks to bring happiness and hope to all those around her, using it to battle her personal demons (not to mention the other, real ones).
Brief description of how the superheroine gets her powers: Unknown – Angelina was discovered on the doorstep of her surrogate father, Reverend Sam Small, in a Brooklyn suburb. The quest for her origins, and the identity of the Voice, remain of central importance to her.
Anything else important: Opposed by the flame-scarred, half-demonic supervillain Serberus and his warmongering arms-dealing company, I.M.P.
“It is by suffering that human beings become angels” – Victor Hugo
The first IMP went for his sidearm. Ark sensed rather than saw her protective flame snake out like a whiplash, snagging around the masked brute’s wrist. He gasped, weapon forgotten as his hand went up to his singed forearm.
The other guard was already running. Arkangel launched herself after him. Too often Serberus had evaded her. Too often she’d arrived at the scene of the crimes with his company markings erased and nothing but the cinder-stench remaining.
This time there would be a reckoning.
Serberus’s henchman was fast, but that was exactly why she’d spent more of the past six months in the gym than at home in the apartment. Sensing her closing in, the IMP rounded sharply, boots ringing off the catwalk. Ark saw the flash of steel, and instinctively snatched out.
She found her hand gripping the wrist of her would-be assailant, six inches of razored steel quivering an inch from her right eye.
The man screamed as Ark’s touch burned the flesh of his forearm.
She let go, the knife clattering to the mesh decking of the catwalk.
“Hold still,” she told the whimpering, balaclavaed IMP. “You do me no harm, I’ll do none to you. Here.” She reached out again. The man flinched, but when her second touch didn’t bring the scorching pain of her first, he relaxed. Ark watched his eyes – green and young – widen as her hand soothed where moments before it had burned. The red welts on his arm faded.
“Don’t follow me,” she said. It was clear from the look in his eyes that he had no intention of.
Ark raced on, feet hammering along the catwalk and down two sets of rungs. The hanger doors were just ahead, yawning. Lights burned within, their electric hum setting her teeth on edge.
They’re waiting for you, said the Voice.
Ark slowed, chest heaving, her senses coiled and tense. She could smell oiled barrels and sawdust, sweat and, clogging in the back of her throat, cinders.
He was here.
“Don’t be shy, Angelica,” Serberus’s metallic voice rasped, echoing from the rafters. “Step inside.”
The warehouse’s innards had been arrayed like a stage, lamps and fat bundles of snaking black cables set up around a raised platform of crates. The white-heat of their orbs picked out the two men waiting for Arkangel. One of them was the hateful, hunched form of Seberus, his black trenchcoat and leering, spiked iron mask giving him the appearance of a gaunt bat with its wings furled.
The other man Ark also recognised.
“Senator Crosby,” she said, convinced the lights were playing tricks on her. But no, Crosby it was, fat and sweating in his pinstripe. He didn’t answer Ark, just glared.
“The good senator’s funding has been invaluable,” Serberus said, seeing Ark’s dismay. “But of course, he expects only the very best in return. And we give him the best we have to offer!”
On cue, someone tripped the overhead lights. They banged on, and abruptly the rear of the stage, hidden in deep shadow, was illuminated. As was the furnace-engine waiting for her.
Ten feet tall and three times as broad as even the fat bulk of Senator Crosby, Serberus’s death machine had been yearning to be let off the leash. And with the snap of his fingers, the half-demonic patron of the IMP Arms Company did just that. The metallic chasse and the dense nest of cogs and chugging pistons that made up the main body of the ox-like construct grated and squealed.
“Weapons such as these will revolutionise warfare,” Serberus was saying to Crosby. “Your money has purchased the best IMP can supply.”
“You’re in with the wrong people, senator,” Angelina said, beginning to back away from the shuddering furnace-engine. “Serberus and his cronies won’t stop until they’ve torn open the gates of hell themselves.”
Crosby said nothing, just stared jowls-a-quivering at the furnace-engine. Serberus’s monotone machine-grate of a laugh was drowned out by the thunder of the engine’s charge.
It came straight for Ark. It was trying to gore her. The wicked fire-blackened spike atop its armour-plated skull was longer than her outstretched arm. As it careened towards her, splintering a section of the stage and sending the hapless Crosby staggering out of the way, Ark tensed. She’d fought these things before. She knew how to beat them.
Didn’t mean it was going to be easy.
Now said the Voice.
She jumped, reaching for the rafters, the furnace-engine’s tusk slicing just beneath her. Carried by its monstrous momentum, the metal beast stampeded on beneath her, twisting its ponderous bulk even as she sailed up and onto its back.
Flame jetted from the twin nozzles mounted beneath its head, engulfing the nearest stack of crates as the machine tried to fight her off. She was well outside its front arc now though. Sliding nimbly across its scarred metallic spine, she found a handhold on the sealed jet nozzle of one of the fuel canisters supplying its hellish flamethrowers.
Serberus’s love of fire was as much a hindrance as a help. As she tore the jet free her own pure flames ignited the fuel within. The backflash was instantaneous. The furnace-engine was engulfed in white flame, and a heat blast blew half of the warehouse away, furious, shimmering intensity threatening to singe the bones from anyone exposed to it. Ark let the wave ride over her, feeling the Voice protecting her. A bubble of unassailable purity, the flames died around her, leaving her to step from the warehouse unharmed.
Over one shoulder was slung Crosby, unconcious but alive, protected by Ark’s hope.
Of Serberus there was no sign.
He would be back. And she would be waiting.
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