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Twisted Experience and TCW - View topic - Iron Hand
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 Iron Hand 
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Post Iron Hand
Iron Hand has broken free in the chaos of New Amsterdam's power outages. He was injured during his escape, but, holing up in a safe house, is preparing to return to his followers and start a new revolution!


Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:18 pm
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Linda McMahon
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The assistant placed the tray down on the Mayor's desk and began distributing its contents to the two men. She tried hard not to stare at the one in the smaller chair as she put a cup of coffee in front of him. Almost before it was in the saucer, it rose again, floating across the intervening space and into Dr. Armstrong's waiting hand. The girl yelped involuntarily, snatching her hands away.

"Adam, do you have to do that? Go and do some filing, Marie."

She scampered away as the Mayor gave Armstrong a flat look. Unlike his assistant, he was used to the Doctor's appearance - the cosmic scar that distorted his face, replacing flesh with an image of a parallel universe's fine structure. Galactic superclusters threaded his face in place of wrinkles. Supernovae eruptions replaced birthmarks. He smiled, causing odd ripples in the blackness of space beyond the barrier that separated realties - the barrier that was him.

"So I hear you've been having problems, Lance."

"You might say that. It's a real freakshow down there." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder towards the windows that spanned the entire back wall of his office.

"Black Fury's still out there?"

"As far as I know. Somewhere in Devil's Playground most likely - not a whole lot any of us can do to ferret him out of that rat's maze."

"So many rodent-based metaphors. You have vermin on the mind, Lance." He took another sip of coffee, still watching the Mayor over the rim.

"I thought things would get better when Paragon arrived..."

Armstrong put down his coffee cup, this time using his hands. "I've had dealings with him in the past," he said darkly.

"Then you know what I'm up against."

"The will of Columbia made flesh. What else? The only problem is that he doesn't just embody the good parts, does he?"

"No he doesn't."

"Every silver lining has a cloud." Armstrong folded his hands on his lap. "I could stop him. He's not as powerful as I am."

"I don't want him stopped. I mean...I do...but not like that. The truth is that crime rates have dropped since he arrived. Regular criminals are running scared. He's the ultimate deterrent. But he's stirring up anti-transhuman sentiment, and giving these bigots a voice. And a lot of the bad guys - the real bad guys - have a grudge against him. They're not running scared, because they think they can take him."

"Or die trying."

Boer nodded. "I have the ultimate weapon against crime in my arsenal, but it's also destroying every social reform I've been working on for the last ten years. There are protests - actual protests - outside the police station where they're holding that Mason kid. We haven't had an anti-transhuman demonstration since 2004. I thought we were past that."

"Your situation isn't unique, Lance. It is in the nature of all ultimate weapons to destroy their masters. The atomic bomb helped end World War II in the East, but its creation ushered in a new age and a new kind of warfare. Columbia lived in fear for decades because of its power. You can't unleash that kind of fury without it eventually consuming you. Believe me...I know..." He fell silent.

"There must be a way to have it both ways," Boer mused.

"Maybe there is. There is a man out there who we can both agree is a vile monster, but who Paragon will happily oppose too. Not just because he has to, but on principle. We have to limit the good Captain's targets to those we want - keep him away from the Hell Razors and the Nightfalls and unleash him on the real crooks."

"Who are you talking about?"

* * *

Static.

The screen crackled into life. Interference cleared as the camera was shifted and placed level. The operator stepped back and then into frame, folding his muscular arms across his chest. Behind him, a red, white and black flag bearing the symbol of all that was monstrous and evil in the 20th Century framed his Aryan features.

"People of New Amsterdam, the Iron Hand has returned. I call upon all true patriots - all those who love Columbia - to stand with me as we resist the onslaught of the mongrel races assailing our borders. We live side by side with the Jew, the Slav, the Negro, hemmed in like animals and forced to coexist with them: lesser peoples, suckling from the teat of our great nation, taking food from the mouths of Anglo-Saxons. Embrace your disgust. It is nothing to be ashamed of like your leaders tell you. We have the means to stop them - I appeal to all the Übermensch in New Amsterdam, the men and women who are the product of Third Reich science to join me in my struggle against the usurpers of our race. The men and women the immigrants in power ignorantly call ‘transhumans' must join this new revolution and form what will one day be known as the Fourth Reich at my side. Realise your destiny, my brethren, and reject those who hate you."

He paused in his twisted oratory, then walked back towards the camera and turned it off.

Static.

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Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:36 am
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Post 
"Tonight we are here not only to welcome, but to honor, our guest. Not merely a man, but a hero. Not merely a symbol of Columbia, but a reminder of all that is good and just in the world..."

The lavish downtown ballroom is filled to the walls with the city's elite, each of them in black tie and evening gown, all proud to be part of this welcoming committee for Captain Paragon.

As Mayor Boer finishes his speech, the crowd applauds and cheers, and the guest of honor takes the stand.


* * *


"Yeah, Joe, the little reetridder lives near here. He's gonna be in for a surprise..."

Two overly-muscular thugs stand at the edge of a building, their shaven heads partly obscured by the alleyway's shadows. Through the torn white wife-beater of the taller thug, a tattoo of an iron cross can be seen.

"So all I gotta do is bash his skull and I'm in?"

The taller thug smirks down at the smaller one.

"You got it. End his pathetic life and your new life begins..."


* * *


As the crowd mixes and mingles, Captain Paragon reluctantly shakes hands with various councilmen, businesswomen, and lobbyists. The PR is important but there is crime outside, criminals that need to be dealt with...

"I can't wait to get outta here either."

"Excuse me?"

Paragon, shaken back from his thoughts, stands face-to-face with the universe, also known as Dr. Adam Armstrong.

"I know that look. Even your mask can't hide it."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Dr. Armstrong. I'm here tonight to honor the great people of New Am--"

"Yeah, that's exactly why I come to these things too! Look, if you decide to make yourself useful, I'm sure you can find me. Right now, I'm going to get a stiff drink. Nice seeing you again, Cap."

With that, Armstrong heads to the bar, leaving Paragon with his adoring fans, feeding off his virtue as if they were just as righteous simply by appearing alongside him.


* * *


"Hey, nicht!"

The thug's fist connects to the slight man's face, sending his glasses and brown hair backward, nearly knocking the man off his feet. The second punch does the trick.

Boots to the stomach, boots to the face, out comes a chain, crashing against the ribs.

"Fuck yeah! Get 'im, Joe!"

As blood pools onto the pavement, staining the man's suit and the thug's boots, the sound of thunder echoes throughout the sky.

Joe goes down first, skidding into the alley, coming to a stop when his head connects with the dumpster.

The larger skinhead is next, a blast of energy slamming his huge body into the side of the building.

A powerful, swirling mass of star systems reaches down, helping the small man to his feet. Looking him over, The Universal directs the man down the street to a cafe where he can call for help.

Visible energy pools at his feet, rising Armstrong up into the cool night air as he blasts out of sight of the recovering thugs. As he plants himself on a rooftop overhead, the pools of energy fade.

"I thought you usually stuck to the shadows, Armstrong."

The Universal pivots, the nebula above his eye lighting up as he faces Captain Paragon.

"Sometimes you gotta step outta the darkness, Cap. That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about..."

Paragon stares down at the shorter Armstrong.

"If you have information concerning criminal activity, I suggest you inform me quickly, lest you be held accountable for obstructing justice."

Near Armstrong's left shoulder, a colourful explosion gives birth to a star.

"Relax, big blue. I know little more than you do. Besides, we both know that my big bad blow-up machines keep me off the shitlist."

"An error in judgement that I am not pleased with."

"At least you can still admit the government makes errors... Maybe there's hope for you yet!"

"To the point, Armstrong."

"Yeah, yeah. You know Iron Hand is out... And I'm sure you can figure out that those funboys down there belong to him as well."

A planet of sentient proto-reptilians is torn apart as their sun begins its transformation into a red giant.

"I suppose they do as well, then."

Armstrong follows Paragon's gaze, spinning back around. A group of skinheads is

"Looks like the cavalry's arrived... Too bad it's not ours."

"Careful, Armstrong. Unlike the two you took down, these are all transhumans."

Energy begins to swell around Armstrong's boots as he nods towards the skinheads.

"Then it looks like we're gonna take down some transhuman ass tonight, Cap!"

_________________
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I have no money, I am a failure, my leaders have led me to ruin, and I welcome the absolving embrace of death.


Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:24 am
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Linda McMahon
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Post 
His name was Rob Mitchell. Same old story: working class kid, dad worked in an auto-parts factory, packing sparkplugs for eight hours a day. Mom looked after the kids, since there were a few of them. Grew up in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania. He was just another disenfranchised Gen-Xer, no skills to speak of, no real pride or sense of community. Hated his town, hated his school, got out of there the first chance he got. No packing sparkplugs for little Robbie. Came to the big city looking for a better life, but found it just as hard as back home, only now it wasn't guys behind desks saying, "Hey, you're Joe Mitchell's kid, arentcha?" and saying they were looking for someone a little less... white trash... (to paraphrase). No, it was some old Jew saying, "Hey, you're from out of town, aren't you? Sorry, we're looking for someone a little more... community orientated..."

Rob had been disenfranchised as a kid, bearing the brunt of his father's reputation for being a pair of arms and not much else, but now he was experiencing the crushing reality of the modern world. They didn't want white, working class guys. They wanted college kids, and if they were forced to go blue collar, they wanted blacks and Jews, or they'd hire immigrants who worked for less and didn't complain. He was the victim, he reasoned, of positive discrimination - if it was the choice between him and Isaiah Goldstein, or Leroy Washington, or Glenda Richards, he knew he'd never be in the running.

Didn't these retards know that white men built Columbia? There wouldn't even be any Jews left if white men didn't haul their asses out of dodge in the 1940s. There certainly wouldn't be any blacks in Columbia if white men didn't bring them across the ocean all those years ago, to be part of the world's greatest democracy. And women? Well that was a no-brainer. Homemaking had been good enough for his mom, hadn't it? All these uppity broads made him sick to his stomach near enough.

The world was against Rob Mitchell, and that was the truth. It pissed him off that he couldn't get work because of the colour of his skin and the fact that he had a dick, and that it wasn't circumcised. It wasn't supposed to be this way - not for white men, anyway.

Then he'd discovered he could make the earth shake with his mind.

Time to get even, world.

"This mob will disperse and you will all return to your homes."

Captain Paragon stepped out of the shadows. For now, Armstrong hung back, watching and waiting.

Rob curled his lip. "I ain't takin' orders from a ni..."

"I really wouldn't say that if I were you," Paragon said with a raised hand. "Go home now, and this will be the end of it. I have the power to arrest all of you."

The men laughed, exchanging nudges to the ribs. There were more of them and, what's more, they were more than capable of handling a guy in a cape. Rob stepped forward, speaking for the group.

"You need to go home, not us. We rule the streets. This is an uprising."

"It's not an uprising if you're already the dominant social class," Armstrong said from the shadows.

Rob grinned. "Shows how much you know about the world. Why are you hangin' ‘round with this bozo anyway?" He jerked a thumb at Paragon.

"Mainly for the fireworks."

"Oh? Well it should be a good show tonight. You can bank on that."

"I've no doubt."

He spun around, pivoting on the ball of his foot and threw a punch straight at Captain Paragon. He caught Rob's fist easily and applied only the tiniest fraction of his strength. His knees buckled and sinews bunched in his neck as he tried to stop himself crying out.

"STAND. DOWN." Paragon thundered.

"Argh!" Rob let out a yell, but then he clenched his free hand and tensed every muscle in his body. The ground began to rumble. His friends stepped back as a tremor coursed through the alley, with Paragon at its epicentre. He wobbled, losing his balance, and was forced to release Rob's hand.

"Stand down? How can you tell someone to do that, when you can't even stand up."

Still in the shadows, Armstrong rolled his eyes, highlighted by a nebula blossoming into life as stars were born in its cloudy depths.

Rob held his arms apart and threw his head back. The earthquake intensified, knocking Captain Paragon over onto his back. Immediately, half a dozen of his fellows dashed forward. One's eyes were glowing as energy played around his fists. Another skimmed the ground, floating forward with a dull humming noise. A third had skin studded with short spikes. Myriad powers, all gained from myriad sources, now intent on one mission - the destruction of the symbol of Columbia, who happened to be a black man.

"Okay, I think that's enough." Adam Armstrong stepped forward. He lifted his hands and produced a glowing ball of plasma. "Anyone touches him, and it's a face full of stardust, alright?"

The guy with the spikes gaped at Armstrong. "The Universal!" he gasped.

"Yes. That's me. Well, not really. Honestly I prefer ‘Adam', but it's not like you and I are ever going to be friends, is it?"

Spikes leapt into a charge and with a sigh, Armstrong let the ball of plasma dissipate. "Called my bluff. Good thing I have all the cards anyway." He lifted his hand and the ground in front of him began to warp, stretching upwards like viscous fluid, forming a rounded cuboid shape between Armstrong and his attacker, but never losing its physical form - it's colour, its texture, the pieces of trash attached to it. Spikes ran right into the new wall and fell back on his ass.

Paragon stared at the weird construction now blocking the alley.

"I didn't reshape the matter - just the space it was in," Armstrong explained as a pulsar vibrated against the surface of his cheek. "It's actually ridiculously complex - you don't want to know the equations that went into working out how to do this - you see, I'm altering four-dimensional space to create a three-dimensional shape. It's like deforming a sphere to make one radial slice have a bump in its edge. The actual deformation is much bigger than this wall, but you can't perceive it because it's four-dimensional."

"I see..."

"And relax." Armstrong dropped his hand and the wall collapsed, once again becoming alley floor. The white-supremacist transhumans were staring aghast at Armstrong. "Want to see some other tricks? I can turn you all inside out if I want. It won't kill you, but it'll make eating very problematic. It would be an amazingly slow, grotesque death. Or I could imprison you all in a bubble of concrete and you could decide which of you gets eaten by the others first - or you would, if there was enough air in there."

"Fancy tricks."

Armstrong and Paragon, who had now clambered back to his feet, turned and looked up. Standing on the edge of the three-storey building overlooking the alley was a familiar figure. Shaved blonde hair, a white t-shirt and bright blue eyes. He grinned, showing perfect teeth. Say what you want, the kid had good genes.

"Iron Hand," Paragon said, rising into the air, "you are under arrest for..."

Iron Hand threw out a fist and the air between himself and the hero compressed, forming an iron-hard cylinder. Paragon was sent spinning backwards by the impact, crashing into the opposite wall. Armstrong shook his head, then levitated himself, letting his hands become wreathed in purple flame. "I gotta do everything myself, don't I?"

"Adam Armstrong," Iron Hand greeted him.

"Can I help you?"

"Yes, you can actually."

Armstrong cocked an eyebrow as two galaxies collided in an apocalyptic dance on his brow. "Huh?"

Iron Hand grinned wolfishly. "Join me."

_________________
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- it's a space opera novel I wrote.

I have some shit on Kindle too: ,


Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:54 am
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Post Re: Iron Hand
"Join you?"

Armstrong's eyebrow raised even higher.

"Yes! Join me, Armstrong! Your fellow supermen look up to you as the greatest example of what we, as a..."

"Join you?? Are you fucking high?"

"... and would be unstoppable! To bring about the greatest society, to create a utopia here on..."

Both 'men' continue gesturing wildly, each ignoring the other. At the nape of Armstrong's neck, protein folding is taking place that will give humans a natural resistance to Parkinson's disease... should they ever successfully colonize in globular star cluster M4.

"Besides, shouldn't this speech be prefaced by some paternal revelation? Adam, I am your father and all that crap?"

"... finally bring an end to those who have oppressed us, beaten us down..."

"Although, if I recall correctly, the government used some of my machines to create you back in the day, so I guess, technically, I could be your father!"

"... to rise up and -- Are you even listening to me?"

"But hey, isn't your dad some washed-up old -- AH!"

Although an entire universe worth of information, knowledge and power resides within the body of Adam Armstrong, that body is still very much human, as is the mind contained within it alongside our sister universe. Despite all the power he has access to, Armstrong is still subject to the limitations of his own humanity, making him very much susceptible to the element of surprise, such as, say, an incredibly powerful transhuman leaping through the air, fist-first towards Armstrong's face.

"Shit!"

As Armstrong and Iron Hand tumble toward the ground, Paragon continues cleaning up the rest of the mess, rounding up a large heap of thugs to be transported for processing and arrest.

Paragon gently rises in the air, avoiding the mess made by Armstrong and Iron Hand's bodies crashing into the pavement.

Iron Hand rises to his feet, leaving Armstrong lying beneath him. The skinhead leader looks around quickly, spying his defeated allies.

"Iron Hand, this ends --"

"Not tonight, Paragon! I ain't stupid!"

A handful of successive blasts rocket past Paragon, forcing him to leap and duck to avoid another knock-down. Iron Hand takes advantage of his distracting, launching himself into the air, rocketing past the building from which he previously fell.

"What a dick!"

Sitting in a mini crater, rubbing his head, Armstrong looks toward Captain Paragon. He quickly stands, putting a hand on Paragon's shoulder.

"Easy, big blue! He's long gone by now."

Paragon's head turns quickly toward Armstrong.

"Then we follow him! He must be apprehended!"

Armstrong sighs, and a small planet buried beneath his heel is caught in its sun's gravitational pull.

"Look, we're not going to find one guy in the middle of the city this late at night, no matter how big a jerkoff he is."

Glaring at Armstrong, Paragon's face warms a tad.

"You could, though, if you wanted to. Isn't that right? It would be nothing for you to suddenly know exactly where he is. It'd be nothing for you to stop him in his tracks right now, or to transport him to prison! If you can, yet refuse to do so, you may be considered to be aiding and abetting a wanted criminal!"

Another sigh, and the planet slowly begins its centuries-long descent into the heart of its sun.

"Drop the rhetoric, Cap. Yeah, I could do that, that and more. But as you've just witnessed, I'm not exactly perfect... Maybe I make a little mistake, maybe I slip-up and instead of digging into Iron Tool's head, I dig into yours, find out something you don't want found out..."

The tension fills the air harder even than Iron Hand's telekinetic punches, both heroes staring into each others eyes, standing their ground.

Armstrong smirks, and a comet crashes into the planet, knocking it into a new orbit around its sun, forever changing its fate.

"'Sides, that's not how the game's played..."

Armstrong turns, Paragon following his lead, both now facing the group of thugs across the street.

"... It'll be much more fun getting the info from these guys."

_________________
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I have no money, I am a failure, my leaders have led me to ruin, and I welcome the absolving embrace of death.


Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:00 am
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Post Re: Iron Hand
The other transhuman thugs that had borne the brunt of Paragon's wrath were now lying strewn across the alley like the trash they were. Armstrong walked towards the nearest one and looked down at him.

"Robert Mitchell," the good Captain said as he took up position next to Armstrong. "Originally from Dover, Pennsylvania."

"Dover? The place with the intelligent design controversy? What a delicious irony to find one of its natives following a man who espouses the principles of eugenics..."

Paragon grunted noncommittally and reached down to grab a handful of Mitchell's hair. He roughly hauled the man to his feet.

"Get off me, you big blue freak!"

"Moved to New Amsterdam looking for work but his lack of experience and respect for social norms kept him out of all but the dirtiest jobs."

Armstrong lifted his overactive eyebrow, sending a cloudy nebula into an erratic tailspin. "Lack of respect for social norms?"

"He insulted the first man who rejected him for employment – an elderly restaurant owner of Jewish extraction – and quickly gained a reputation in the borough as an anti-Semite. No one else would employ him."

"Fuckin' Jews!" Mitchell spat. He started to clench his fist.

"Ah, now, none of that..." Armstrong reached out and grabbed his hand, forcefully opening his fist so he was unable to use his powers.

Paragon grabbed Mitchell's jaw with his free hand and looked into the young man's eyes. "Tell me what you know about Iron Hand, Robert."

"I don't know nothin'!"

"When you use a double negative, you make The Universal cry, Rob," Armstrong said, "and when The Universal cries, he gets mad. And when he gets mad, he starts breaking fingers..." He took Mitchell's pinky in a pincer grip between his thumb and forefinger and waggled it back and forth suggestively.

"No time for threats, Doctor." Casually, Paragon backhanded Mitchell across the face, sending him flying into the wall.

Armstrong turned slowly on the spot, fixing Paragon with an interested stare. Momentarily, the shifting starscape on his face settled into nothing more than Brownian motion. "I'm hardly one to harp on about Geneva Conventions and what have you, but don't you represent the Columbian government?"

"Check your Constitutional amendments, Armstrong. Transhumans aren't recognised by the government."

"No, they're not recognised as transhumans. They're still citizens..."

"No court in the land is going to defend slime like this." He advanced on Mitchell.

"Hey, wait...your whole schtick is defending the letter of the law but not its spirit, and now you're going to torture this creep for information? Time out, Cap'."

"Where's Iron Hand?!" Paragon dragged Mitchell up to his feet again.

"There are better ways to persuade people to give you information, Paragon! I can threaten them with worse than you could ever do with your fists!"

"But they know you won't do it."

Armstrong faltered. He frowned, a vast galactic superstructure folding on his brow.

"This is just like the Cold War, Doctor. A looming threat of reprisal, but it would never have worked if either side didn't think the other had the balls to press the button."

"But it didn't work! The Soviet Union collapsed and the war ended without a shot being fired. Extreme deterrents don't work – we've seen it time and time again, in every possible field. Nuclear war, the death penalty, you name it."

"Exactly. Deterrents don't work. Sometimes you have to be willing to put your money where your mouth is."

"Ah, Jesus." Armstrong rubbed a finger against his temple, causing a galaxy to go into a manic spiral that split it into a dozen separate globular clusters. "You give me a damn headache, you know that? You can justify anything with your rhetoric. You put that kid in jail, for God's sake."

"That's right." Paragon pushed Mitchell up against the wall and moved his face closer so that only the renegade transhuman could hear him. "I'm the sleeping giant. I'm the will of Columbia made flesh. How does a superpower enact its policy? By making sure no one can ever trust it. You never quite know if Columbia is going to change its mind and decide that its well-being depends on the annihilation of your country. And you've seen it happen before...invasions without UN approval, toppling democratic regimes to save corporations. If a country will set the world aflame to save one Columbian life, what will a mere man who embodies everything that country stands for do to get what he wants?"

Mitchell stared at him for a long moment and then hocked a glob of phlegm right into his face.

"Fuck you. What does a black know about patriotism? I'm a true patriot...Iron Hand is a true patriot. You're just an attack dog, sent out by your masters to do their bidding. Jews control Columbia, and the blacks are their willing slaves. You think your people are free? We're all slaves now, Paragon, slaves to the Zionist Dream..."

With a roar, Paragon propelled himself towards Mitchell, his fist raised, but he crashed into an invisible wall and bounced back onto the ground. Armstrong dropped his hand, letting the magnetic field he had used to stop the Captain melt away. He looked at Mitchell. "Tell me: can I do anything to convince you to give up the whereabouts of Iron Hand's hideout?"

"No chance, freak."

"I thought not. See, Paragon? Torture doesn't work." He looked down at his sometime ally who moaned softly on the floor. The magnetic field was impenetrable – tougher than the hardest adamantium – and Paragon was going at a fair clip when he hit it.

"The cops are on their way," Armstrong told Mitchell, "you probably don't know how since neither of us made a call or anything, but such are the advantages of having infinite power. They're going to arrest you and you're going to go to jail for a long time."

"You think I'm scared of jail?"

"Probably not. The prisons are packed with white-supremacist filth like you, after all. You'll be quite at home. Nonetheless, it's where you're going. I find your fanatical loyalty to Iron Hand interesting though. What purpose is served by you risking your life and your freedom for him?"

Mitchell lifted his jaw. "He's our leader."

"And that is explanation enough? Very well."

Sirens blared in the mouth of the alley. A large van – a transhuman containment unit – pulled up, blocking the exit with its bulk.

"I think your ride's here, Rob."

* * *

Later, when Captain Paragon had recovered, the two men stood high on the rooftops overlooking New Amsterdam. Armstrong idly played with energy matrices between his hands, creating elaborate electromagnetic patterns. "You know, these plasma configurations could power this city for five centuries. I could revolutionise energy production in this country. Unfortunately, pressure from corporate groups is holding back the science – did you know I developed a completely clean and cost-effective alternative to petroleum, but the President wouldn't let me tell anyone because introducing it would completely warp the world's economy and require the entirety of Columbia's infrastructure to be ripped up and replaced? True story."

Paragon was not paying attention. "Why would Iron Hand's henchmen be that loyal? I've fought him before, and he never had the leadership qualities to command that kind of obedience."

"Well, maybe you should look back in history. Do you know how Hitler came to power?"

"The capitulation of Europe," Paragon answered automatically.

"Oh my, you're just a walking propaganda machine, aren't you? No, I'm talking about the social and economic factors in 1930s Germany. He presented himself as a solution to his country's problems."

"That's what Iron Hand has always done."

"Right. All white-supremacists and right-wing survivalists do the same thing – they create a rhetorical paradigm whereby Columbia is on the verge of collapse because of Jews or Blacks or Hispanics or whatever. It can be anything. Then they set themselves up as the solution to the problem they've invented."

"So what's different now?"

"If every crackpot who made up a problem could rise to power, we'd be awash with Fuehrers. No, a solution only works if it's convincing. Most white-supremacist groups can't find a foothold in polite society because they only offer anger and violence as a way out of Columbia's perceived ills. If Iron Hand is becoming successful, he must have something more concrete."

Paragon looked over his shoulder at Armstrong. The Doctor was still playing with his energy patterns. "Concrete?"

"Uh huh. Something real. An actual plan, instead of just angry rebellion."

"What possible plan could Iron Hand have?"

"I don't know – but I'm betting it's something big."

* * *

New Amsterdam is the greatest city in the world. It contains buildings of global importance: facilities, laboratories and offices that contain things that could alter the course of world events.

Things. Things and people.

Across town, deep underground, hidden beneath the UN's headquarters is the most well-guarded bunker on Earth. There are fifteen separate gates and checkpoints between its innermost chamber and the outside world. It is guarded by a separate and totally secret division of the UN's peacekeeping force – and, despite their grim faces and brutal training, peacekeeping really is what these guys are all about.

For, in the centre of this hidden complex is the most terrible weapon that has ever existed. It is a weapon that extended World War Two by four years and very nearly handed Hitler the world. It is a weapon that was overcome only by the combined efforts of the very first masked heroes. Lady Britannia herself almost died stopping it.

'It' is not really the right word, for this weapon is a man. And so much more than a man.

Staring out of his cryogenic chamber with a face frozen into a rictus of hate is the embodiment of the Third Reich.

His name is Iron Cross, and the world once trembled at the very mention of his name.

His name is Iron Cross and very soon...he's coming home...


Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:06 am
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Post Re: Iron Hand
"So you just let him get away?"

Armstrong hovers around, rotating himself on the unlit balcony. Facing him from just outside the doorway, a mug of tea in her hand, is Janet Goodman, formerly known as Columbian Woman.

"Well what would you have done? His telekinesis is more powerful than yours; he can essentially fly. He might not be his father, but he's no slouch either."

A gust of wind blows past the balcony. With her free hand, Janet draws her housecoat closer around her neck.

"Here, let me take care of that for you."

The wind changes direction, avoiding the balcony.

"Thanks. Body doesn't keep the heat so well in its old age, you know... Well, I guess you don't. Anyway, I don't know what I would've done, Adam. But we both know that you could've done something about it."

Adam hovers back around, facing the balcony's edge. An age of philosophical enlightenment begins on a planet half the size of Earth.

"Besides, you're starting to sound like Paragon. You'd better be careful!"

Behind him, Janet smiles. Armstrong smiles back.

"I'll tell you the same thing I told him: That's not how the game is played. There are certain rules we all have to follow, myself included."

Taking a sip of tea, Janet steps forward onto the balcony.

"I know, Adam, but... Things now aren't like they used to be. Sure, we had Iron Cross to deal with, but other than that, it was all pretty tame. Now we have rapists and murderers coming in every day, and so many of them are transhumans. The police are upping the ante and so are the criminals. Something has to change. You're the one who can do anything..."

Lowering himself to the floor, Adam turns around, again facing her.

"I'm not a god, Janet..."

They both pause for a moment, taking in the darkened city skyline. Reaching inside the door, Janet pulls out a file folder. Adam opens it, shuffling through the pages.

"Then maybe you can use the help of someone who is."



* * *



"You got a visitor, Mandrake. Get ready for transport!"

As alarms blast throughout the prison, the guards prepare to move Jonah Todtrachen, also known as the villainous Professor Mandrake, NAPD's most recent big get.

Moving down the prison halls, Mandrake is locked from head to toe in the most high-tech shackles ever to come out of Armstrong Universal, Inc. The guards shove Mandrake into his seat opposite a thick layer of glass. On the other side, a young man whose only defining feature is his shaved head.

Hitting the large button with the metal surrounding his hands, Mandrake speaks into the mic.

"Can I help you, young man?"

The skinhead smirks.

"Yeah, prof, you sure can. I'm here on behalf of, well..."

Gesturing, the skinhead nods his head toward a corner-mounted TV screen. The noon news reports on last night's alley brawl.

"Ah, I see. And what might our esteemed colleague need from me?"

Glancing towards his lap, the skinhead pulls out a small slip of paper.

"Something about a... really big tank?"

Mandrake rolls his eyes.

"The Goliath Smasher? Oh, I can only imagine... Continue."

"Uh, and there is the matter of a favour owed to my boss by Mr. Winters, which means, for you --"

"I get it. Tell our friend that he will receive the gift and I trust he will respond in kind. Good day."

"Alright, prepare for return transfer, boys!"



* * *


"... And you want me to go to a bar with you."

Atop the looming tower that houses Armstrong International, Inc. in the heart of New Amsterdam City, Captain Paragon and The Universal meet up for the second time in as many nights.

"Don't miss the point, Cap'n. Somewhere down there knows where Fisty is at, so that's where we need to be."

The pair of transhumans begin to descend down the outer edge of the tower.

"Very well, Armstrong. How do you propose we go about finding this information? These thugs are resistant to even the strongest of interrogation methods."

They continue their descent, the ground below Armstrong lighting up.

"I have a name. We just need to go undercover. So you're going to have to lose the mask..."

Four feet gently tap the pavement.

"I believe what you are referring to is my face, and as such, it shall not be removed."

Armstrong sighs, again. An invertebrate takes its first steps on land.

"Fine. I'll just make everyone think you look different. I have to do it for myself anyway."

As both heroes step out into the street, Paragon catches a glimpse of himself in a dark shop window.

"You made me white?!"

Armstrong cracks his neck. Nothing of note occurs.

"We're going to a skinhead bar, Cap!"


* * *


Behold, the mighty halls of the ale house! Angelic music fills the air, the nectar of the gods flows freely! The halls are filled this night, as the citizens celebrate.

Though these are not his usual companions, the father of Asgard, the mighty and courageous Tyr toasts with them tonight. His voice echoes throughout the great hall.

"Another round! And after that, one more!"

_________________
May the angels weep piss for your heathen souls.

I have no money, I am a failure, my leaders have led me to ruin, and I welcome the absolving embrace of death.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:42 am
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Linda McMahon
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Post Re: Iron Hand
Captain Paragon looked around the bar, his eyes narrowing with suspicion.

"Can you at least try to be cool?" Armstrong hissed at him through his skinhead mask.

"Why? I thought our appearances were hidden?"

"They are, but you still have facial expressions – fifty percent of going undercover is body language, right? C'mon, I know you did some black ops training."

"I'm not at liberty to discuss that."

"Of course not. Let's get a drink."

The two men, disguised by Armstrong's reality warping powers, made their way to the bar and ordered two beers. The bar was a dingy back street affair, packed with disgruntled looking white men. There was a general air of unrest, as if something was building.

"So," Paragon said as he looked around the bar, trying to pick up any clues, "if you can alter your appearance at will, why not present a less...disturbing...aspect?"

"You think this is easy, maintaining this illusion? I'm not making us look different – I'm altering the perceptions of everyone nearby to conform to certain expectations. You know, none of the people in this room see you and I in exactly the same way."

"Won't that present problems?"

"Unlikely. You'd be surprised how much of reality is relative and based on mere consensus."

"So how do you explain my reflection?"

"Ah, well, that was a slightly different trick. Does it really matter that much?"

"I just like to know how safe I am, that's all."

"Safe enough. That is, as safe as anyone in a place like this. Anyway, shut up, I'm trying to listen in on as many conversations as I can."

Armstrong titled his head and Paragon turned away, coming face to face with a hulking skinhead in a white shirt. He had a Nazi cross tattooed on the side of his head.

"How's it going...buddy...?"

The man loomed over him. His eyes flashed and there was a distinct smell of ozone in the air.

"You're a transhuman."

"The word we use around here is Übermensch..."

"I...yes, of course..."

He felt an insistent tugging at his arm and turned around. "We should get out of here," Armstrong said.

"I couldn't agree more." They pushed back through the crowd, attracting attention as they left. "I think we should perhaps be a bit more discreet about this."

"No time."

"What?"

"No time."

They burst out into the street and Armstrong tugged Paragon around the corner into an alley. "What's the problem?"

"I figured out what they're planning."

"And?"

"Sabotage. Terrorism. Anarchy."

"You may want to be more specific..."

"I heard them talking about cells and locations and activities. I pieced it together from just a few snippets. See, it took me a while to work out how all the areas they were talking about were connected..."

Paragon held his hands up. "All right, I'm impressed, I'm impressed. So what's the connection?"

"They're all places that were hit by the power outages during the breakouts. That is, weak links in the grid. They're going to take out all of New Amsterdam's power."

"So let's stop them!"

"Too late – things are already in motion, and I think they have people on the inside. Even if we got the cops there, it wouldn't do any good."

"So what, we just leave them to it?"

Armstrong's face – filtered through his skinhead disguise – grew grim and determined. "No, we come up with a better plan: remember those energy lattices I was showing you?"

"Vaguely..."

"Well, I can use them to power the city. It's going to take me a while to configure everything so it will work properly, but I estimate the blackout won't last more than a couple of hours in this scenario."

"And I can keep the streets clean for that long."

"I'm counting on it. Okay, I'm going to head to the central substation and get to work as soon as possible."

Paragon nodded. "I'll keep watch on things in the city."

"Great." Armstrong started to levitate.

"Uh...Doctor?"

"What?"

"Think you could turn me back into me before you go?"

"Oh...right...sorry."

* * *

New Amsterdam slept – at least, as much as it ever did – as hundreds of men, all white, all with shaved heads, went to work. Power lines came down, vital substations were attacked and overrun and everywhere paid-off security guards looked the other way as things went haywire. Paragon watched from above as blocks winked off one by one.

"And now the fun starts..."

* * *

At the central substation in the heart of New Amsterdam, Armstrong looked at the vast and complex schematic showing the whole city and its power grid. He too saw each block go dark.

"And now the fun starts..." he lifted a finger on each hand and began threading together lines of pure energy, but then something on the glowing screen caught his attention. "Hey, what's that?"

The technician with him in the dark room sidled over. "What?"

"There's one building that still has power. Look, there."

"Oh, that's the UN building. They have their own generator."

"I see. Interesting."

* * *

In the streets, Paragon cleaned up the trash. With a roar, he drove his fist into a skinhead transhuman's gut, sending him flying backwards into a parked car. The man, whose powers made his body unusually strong and dense, crashed right through the vehicle, reducing it to a wreck almost instantly. Paragon strode past, his boots crunching on broken glass. Another skinhead – this one just a normal man – aimed a pistol at him and foolishly decided to pull the trigger. Paragon lifted a hand to deflect the bullet without breaking his stride.

"Where's Iron Hand?!" he bellowed.

The man just gaped at him, the hand with the gun shaking uncontrollably. With a sigh, Paragon yanked it out of his hand and crunched it into a ball.

"Don't want to talk?"

The man fled with a yelp and Paragon thought about chasing him but decided against it. All over the city, the skinheads were rioting, smashing up property and spreading chaos. The police were out in force, trying to keep the population calm and ensuring them that the power would be on soon. Paragon was relatively relaxed, knowing that Armstrong's plan would end the blackout soon. All he had to do was keep the carnage in check in the meantime.

He scowled, looking around for more skinheads. The intersection seemed to have been pacified though and he slowly rose into the air. So far, he'd beaten up dozens – transhumans and otherwise – but hadn't come across Iron Hand, even though he seemed to be at the epicentre of the rioting. He played with his earpiece, trying to pick up any information, but it was all garbled noise. Police radio signals were almost impossible to separate, such was the volume of traffic. One thing did stand out though...

"We need back up! Back up! There's some kind of...of...tank...on 42nd Street!"

Paragon frowned. He increased speed as he rose and then levelled off once he'd cleared the height of the buildings, making a beeline for Tortoise Bay to investigate the disturbance.

* * *

Gunfire pelted harmlessly off the hull of the Goliath Smasher as it rumbled slowly towards the UN Headquarters on 42nd Street. Its massive caterpillar tracks churned up the asphalt and shook chunks of concrete from nearby buildings. In the cockpit, Iron Hand laughed maniacally.

"Oh this was a good plan...this was a very good plan!"

Over his shoulder, one of his skinhead henchmen looked at the screen which stood in place of a windshield. "Even if we get in, Hand..."

"We will get in, Raid – with the city in anarchy and Paragon and The Universal distracted, there's nothing to stop us."

"Right, but even then, how are we going to get through all the gates to the bunker?"

"Simple: the Goliath Smasher is not just a really big tank. You heard the rumours about Mandrake's machine that could vaporise metal, yes?"

"Yeah..."

"Well it's mounted on the nose of this vehicle."

"Oh. Problem solved then."

"Problem solved," Iron Hand agreed with a sick grin.

* * *

He arrived too late. Dead security guards and cops lay strewn across the road, many of their corpses crushed into pulp. Scored into the road and leading up to an enormous hole in the side of the UN Headquarters building were massive tank tracks. With a growl, Paragon took to the air again, flying through the hole and following the trail of carnage inside. He passed by horrific devastation: dead bodies, collapsed walls. Finally, he saw where the Goliath Smasher had dived, like a gofer burrowing into the earth, and carved a tunnel underground. Again, he followed the trail into a subterranean corridor. Periodically, he came across more crushed corpses, each group gathered around patches of metallic residue. Leaving his questions behind him, Paragon pressed on, picking up speed as he followed the corridor into a central chamber.

"Ah, so nice of you to join us." Iron Hand turned around from the console at which he was standing. "Isn't that what they usually say?"

Paragon drew up, landing next to the huge shape of the Goliath Smasher. "Iron Hand. What is this?"

"Oh, just the usual master plan. You know how it is. You ought to – you foiled everyone else's."

"I'm going to foil yours too."

"I don't think so. Raid: kill him." He turned back to his console.

Paragon turned around as a huge figure advanced on him. He recognised him from the bar as the man who had been so insistent about transhuman terminology.

"Stand back, criminal. I don't want to have to hurt you."

"That's a shame – 'cause I want to hurt you."

Paragon lifted off, heading towards Raid with his fist raised. The huge skinhead lifted his hands and Paragon started to slow down, feeling an intense buzzing running through his whole body. He grit his teeth, but the vibration turned to pain and, with a roar, he flew backwards.

"Static electricity, Captain Peabrain," Raid laughed, "even you aren't immune to that!"

"Static? That's your power?" Paragon balled his fist and then drove it into the ground, sending out ripples of distorted earth. Raid lost his balance and fell over onto his back. Paragon leapt up into the air and then came down, aiming a kick at the skinhead's face which shattered his jaw and caved in his nose.

"Ouch...anyone ever tell you that you lack a soft touch, Paragon?"

He turned around to where Iron Hand stood at the console with his arms folded.

"Was this guy supposed to stop me?"

"No, he was supposed to distract you."

"Why?"

"So I could enter the command codes to engage the un-freezing sequence."

"The what?" Paragon looked around and saw what was in the centre of the chamber for the first time. In a tall cylinder lit by blue light stood a muscular figure. He was wearing grey trousers and a form-fitting black sleeveless shirt, but his most striking feature was his face: it was covered with a grotesque metallic skull mask. The figure was motionless, clearly frozen in place.

"Captain Paragon...meet Dad."

"You're insane – Iron Cross is one of the most dangerous criminals in history!"

"But apparently not dangerous enough to rule out cloning a superhero from his genes. I guess that one came and bit you in the ass, didn't it?"

Paragon shook his head. "I can't let you do this?"

"Let me? It's done, Paragon. The un-freezing sequence has been activated – it's only a matter of time until Daddy wakes up."

"This isn't the movies. You and I both know there's an abort button on that console."

"So what? You're not gonna get to it."

"We'll see." Paragon jumped into the air and barrelled towards Iron Hand, but the renegade transhuman tensed himself and absorbed the impact of the Columbian hero. He swung him around and threw him into the ground, buckling the metal gantry around the console.

"You've gotten better since the last time we fought," Paragon grunted.

"You'd be surprised how many opportunities you have to refine your powers in prison."

"I guess you have a lot of time on your hands in solitary." He lifted his leg, planting it against Iron Hand's stomach and then flipping him over onto his back. He tumbled down the steps, landing next to the unconscious form of his henchman. Paragon stood up and headed after him, taking to the air, but now Iron Hand was on his feet too. He held out a hand and propelled a blast of compressed air at Paragon, sending him sprawling back against the stairs.

"You're not Black Fury, Cap' – unstoppable forces don't grow on trees. He's a nice guy, by the way."

Paragon shook the muzz out of his head. "I beat you before and I can do it again."

"I don't think so." Iron Hand lifted his hands out again and Paragon flinched as he was pummelled by telekinetic blows. The skinhead grinned as he increased the frequency and strength of his attacks, pinning Paragon against the steps. He grimaced against the force of the assault, feeling pain despite his superhuman constitution. His Kevlar suit was starting to fray.

"See? You're not so tough. I had a long time to think while I was in jail, and I realised that the only limit to my powers was my imagination. If there's one thing that grows in jail, it's your imagination, Paragon."

He tried to stand up, but he couldn't move. With a laugh, Iron Hand jerked his head forward, sending a spike of air at Paragon's head. It drove itself into his forehead, jarring him back against the metal steps and making everything blurry.

"A few more of those should end this, I think..."

"Nej, men en av de här kommer att göra slut på det här!"

Iron Hand was sent sprawling to one side as the flat of a massive axe smashed into the side of his head. Captain Paragon tried to clear his head, but his vision was bleary. To him, it appeared as if a gigantic, bearded man had appeared from nowhere.

"Ow, what the hell?!" Iron Hand rounded on his new enemy.

"Men, stå still så jag kan träffa dig!"

Iron Hand gaped at the giant towering over him as Paragon tried to pull himself up and make sense of what was happening.

"Wh…what's going on…?" Iron Hand said, looking wildly from Paragon to the newcomer and back again.

"Såna som du får mig att skämmas över att vara från norden." The axe smashed into Iron Hand's midsection and was then brought upwards, slamming into his jaw with enough force to lift him off his feet. He flew up in a wide arc and then crashed against the side of the Goliath Smasher, slumping down to the ground, unconscious.

Paragon rose to his feet shakily and blinked, trying to clear the spots from his vision. The man who had dispatched his foe turned to him, grinning through a thick red beard. He still couldn't focus on him properly.

"Trevligt att träffas, Kapten Paragon," the stranger said.

"Uh…"

And then he was gone, disappearing in a swirl of a brown cloak. Paragon blinked and shook his head. He looked over at Iron Hand and saw that he had been dispatched. He crossed over to him and looked down at his broken form. He was badly bruised by the hammer.

"Iron Hand: you're under arrest."

* * *

"There. Got it." Armstrong did whatever he was doing and, abruptly, all the lights in the room came on again. Every block in the city also lit up on the schematic at the same moment. "Now I just gotta persuade Lance to leave my energy matrices in place and we can really do some good."

He turned around and grinned at the technician. The man was looking at a digital clock on the wall. "You reset the clocks," he observed.

"Yeah, everything's gone back to default. You're going to have reset all your security systems again. That'll go for the whole city."

"Doctor, can you hear me?"

Armstrong frowned. "Yeah I can, Cap'. How come I can hear you?"

"I have an electronic earpiece that can send and receive radio signals. I figured you'd be able to pick it up."

"Heh…I always thought super-senses was one of your powers."

"Just propaganda, Doctor."

"Figures. Okay, so what's up?"

"I tracked down Iron Hand. He was trying to un-freeze Iron Cross."

"Jesus! Did you stop him?"

"He was stopped. I have a problem – Iron Hand started the un-freezing procedure, but I don't know how to abort it."

Armstrong smiled and glanced at the digital clock. "I wouldn't worry about it, Cap'."

_________________
- lots and lots of short fiction, written by me, regularly updated.

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Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:48 pm
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