Podcast Appearance

Hey, quick update as I made a recent appearance on a podcast to talk about a few things I enjoy. You guys can listen below, and please leave me some feedback!

The “Talk”.

Hey all. Just a quick peek at something I’ve been working on when I’m not slaving at Home Depot. Please give a read and enjoy when you can.

***
“Now, son,” began Tony Smith, glancing around the room awkwardly.

 

Jameson stared at him for a moment. “Yes—Dad.”

“Jameson—my son—the time has come—” Tony coughed nervously, and looked up at the ceiling, before beginning again. “Jameson—your mother and I have noticed some—changes in your lifestyle.” He bit his lip, and then stared at his feet. “For example—well, like—”

 

“You have friends,” noted Martha Smith bluntly.

 

“—Which is a good thing,” appended Tony hastily. “A very good thing. In some ways. However, the sheer—amount of changes in your lifestyle causes us to wonder if you have had—certain other changes. Now—Jameson—at your age, change is normal. But sometimes—some changes indicate—things.” Toshiro looked his son in the eyes, desperation obvious on his face. “You do get what I mean, don’t you?”

Jameson blinked. “I believe so, and trust me—there’s no need to talk to me about puberty. I’ve experienced its deforming touch.”

Tony stared at his son quietly for a moment, then glanced at his chuckling wife. “This isn’t funny, Martha.”

Martha snorted. “You’re right—it’s actually hilarious.”

Tony’s eyes narrowed. “You know, you’re the one who wanted to have this talk…”

“Yeah, yeah…” said Martha in forced repentance. “I would have been just as happy not to have this talk.”

“I know, I know.”

“In fact, if you’re going to act like this, I’ll just leave, and we won’t have the talk.”

“No, no—I’m cool.”

“So can we get back to it?”

“Go ahead. No one’s stopping you.” The couple suddenly winced at the sound of a rap on the table. They glanced up at their son, who nervously glanced at his hand, which was resting uneasily atop the tabletop.

“Flies,” said Jameson apologetically.

Tony coughed, then looked earnestly at his son. “Now, Jameson—are—have you ever—do you—”

Martha groaned to herself, then turned to Jameson. “Yo, son. Are you downing any reds?”

Jameson blinked. “Say what?”

“Doing any snow? Horse? Weed? Crystal? Bennies? Downers? Acid? Angel Dust? Anything like that at all?”

Jameson’s hand slapped several times against the table. “Boy, lot of pesky insects around, aren’t there?”

Martha frowned. “Not really. Now, answer the question?”

Jameson laughed nervously. “Ahh, yes. The question. The important question.” He coughed. “Could I—get a translation? A version of it that makes sense?”

“Are you doing drugs?” said Martha bluntly.

“No,” answered Jameson with a reassured nod.

“Because if you are, we don’t necessarily look down on that,” she finished.

“What?” said Jameson blankly, his clenched fist nervously slamming into the table.

“I think what your mother’s trying to say is that she and I feel that certain substances declared dangerous by the government have legitimate recreational uses,” explained Tony.

“Damn straight,” agreed Martha. “And as long as you use them responsibly and in moderation, we have nothing against you using those substances,” continued Tony.

“Also, make sure you’re dealing with reputable dealers,” added Martha. “Some of these guys are rip­off artists, and others are just animals.”

Jameson nodded, nervously, rubbing his hand. “It’s—nice to know you’re concerned.” He began to knock on the table again.

Martha pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. “Actually, I’ve got a list of ones you can trust with me…”

Jameson began to inch his chair away. “I’m really not interested.” He smiled broadly. “Thanks for the offer.” He swatted the table. “You sure?” his mother asked. “Because I can assure you these are men and women you can trust. Actually, some might be willing to give you a discount if you mention my name…”

Jameson’s rapping took on a frantic edge. “I’m still going to pass, mom.” “I think we should respect Jameson’s wishes on this one,” said Toshiro quietly.

Martha frowned. “But Tony! You know I don’t want my baby burning out his soul and endangering his health with unsafe, inferior products!”

Tony took a deep breath. “I knew this was going to wind up like this…” “Oh, like your ‘touchy­feely’ approach was getting us anywhere.”

Martha glared at her husband. “We could have been talking for the next seven years the rate you were going.”

Last time…

I’ve been through a lot since I last posted. I found happiness for the first time in a long time, inner peace and all that junk but then…I lost it. Now that it’s gone I’ve found my ultimate muse again and begun to start writing/finishing some stuff I set out to do long ago.

So…just a sneak peek on what I’ve been workin’ to revise and rewrite of late.

***

Carrot found himself staring at Mitsuki. He scowled coldly as she stood silently waiting for him. “You’re a real buzz kill ya know that?” he muttered as he stopped his slow swaying and clenched his fists.

“You are more and more surprising boy,” she commented as she steadied herself after his revelation. “The Spider’s Fang? The style is lost, there is no way that you have discovered such a secret.”

Carrot blinked. “Really?”

“Die!” she snarled as she dashed forward and slashed at him with her blade.

Carrot launched himself into the air and backwards. He flipped and landed on top of the concrete wall that made up the small building behind him. “I just made that up actually.”

“You take me for a fool!?” she snarled as she turned to face him after her missed strike.

“I’ll just take your word for that,” replied Carrot as he felt the familiar tingle of his spider sense and jumped again.  A mass of shuriken landed where he had been before and he flipped onto the gravel lightly off to the Kunoichi’s right side. “Lady, you’re really starting to bug me.”

“I’ll do more than bother you boy,” she spat as she whirled around and sent a wide arc of seven throwing knives. Carrot merely shifted to the side and moved between two of them as they passed him. He flicked his wrist as he did so and the woman gasped as she deflected the small metal spike and wire with the hilt of her blade. “You’ve improved.”

“And you haven’t,” he replied calmly.

“You’re still just a boy, I’ll destroy you yet,” she replied icily as she readied her sword again.

Carrot tensed his body again and waited for the attack. He knew it would be rather stupid to just charge her. “Damn. I don’t have time for this!” He remembered the force of ninja searching the building just behind him. It wouldn’t take more than a few minutes for them to find their way up to where he was.

“You’re should worry more about the immediate danger!” snarled the woman as she jumped at him and slashed with her sword.

Carrot reacted quickly he spun and ducked under the blade as she slashed around wildly after landing in front of him. Finally he spun around behind her and lashed out with his foot.

Mitsuki didn’t react in time and received a blow to her rear for it. She stumbled forward and slowly turned to face him with her blade held defensively towards him. “What are you doing?”

Carrot was still squatting as he had managed to put some distance between them with his attack.

“You’re playing with me?” she said out loud, more to herself than him.

“You think I got some kind of death wish?” he muttered a he stared at her dumbly. Luckily for him, the woman didn’t hear, and his mask disguised the look on his face.

“You will pay dearly for not taking me seriously!” she snarled as she charged him again. This time her blade was in her hilt with her hand resting on it lightly.

“Oh shit!” said Carrot as he jumped almost straight up and performed a back flip over the super fast strike. His hand shot out almost instinctually as he passed over her, driving a line into the ground as he did so. He came down behind her and she was pulled to the ground by the wire. Carrot landed with his hands almost touching the ground and spun around to face her again.

Mitsuki growled angrily as she spun the blade around in her hand and cut the metal wire with surprising ease. She jumped up with the sword thrusting forward. Carrot barely managed to duck out of the way and roll to the side as she hacked down with it after the defensive maneuver. “So fast!” muttered the woman as she stepped back in a defensive position again.

Carrot was staring at her again, trying to find some kind of opening to run away or take her out quickly. Unfortunately, she was quite good at what she did, and none had yet presented itself. “Look, I’m sorry I kept your daughter out so late all those times. Would it make you feel better if I got her back home before ten from now on?”

“You won’t make light of this,” said Mitsuki as she smirked at him. Her sword was once again inside its hilt with her hand ready for the fast draw strike.

“I swear! I never touched her!” said Carrot as he backed away slightly.

“As fast as you are, you’re still a coward. You look to run from battle. Give up, there is no escape.”

“Sure there is, I just haven’t figured it out yet,” said the boy lamely.

“The costume does suit you though. I can see why my daughter is so interested in you.”

“It’s not what you’d call a healthy interest if you get my meaning,” said Carrot as he felt the tingling forming on his chest.

Mitsuki charged forward and stabbed straight at him. The blade strike was almost too fast to see.

“You’ll not escape me! I finally have you cornered!” snapped Mitsuki as she cut a clean gash into the wall with her sword and sheathed it in a single fluid motion.

“Oooh. That looks like it might have left a mark,” muttered Carrot.

“What?” said the woman as she realized her attack didn’t connect.

Carrot was looking down at her from the roof of the concrete structure again.

“Very well!” she snarled as she jumped up near to where he was. “You’re more skilled than I had thought, but you’re running out of room, and time.”

Carrot nodded slowly. “Yeah, I know it.”

“Ah, a wise ass until the end. Hold still and die!”

“Only if you promise it won’t hurt!” said Carrot as he jumped over the sword strike that she used to punctuate her last statement.

He landed on the ground and blinked at the high pitched screaming that started to sound behind him. “Huh? What the?”

Mitsuki was shaking violently, spit was flying out of her mouth as her hair started to smolder. She had slashed into a large metal box that was labeled ‘High Voltage’. Carrot had been standing directly in front of the decal and she hadn’t seen it.

“Oops,” he said as he watched her fry. Her skin was turning black and smoking badly by this point. The smell was horrible and he backed away slowly as she began to shoot sparks. The screaming had stopped at least, but it wasn’t a very pleasant thing to see either. “Oh shit. Sorry lady.”

Finally she stopped and crumpled down to the ground. Liquid oozed from her body as the skin cracked and flaked away from what was left of her. She was little more than a blackened skeleton with bits of flesh and fried skin.

That was when Carrot realized that he had a major problem. The woman’s death had caused a major problem with the power inside the building. It would no doubt tell the ninja searching for him inside exactly where he was within a few moments. “Crap!”

As if in answer to this, the door below him burst open. Dozens of shinobi rushed onto the rooftop with their weapons drawn. “Son of a bitch.”

Almost as one, they all whirled around to face him. He realized that speaking was probably not a good idea.

“Um, hi guys. Is my costume okay? It’s a little different, but the invitation only said to wear black…”

A huge ninja with hulking shoulders walked calmly out of the door and into the center of the mass of shinobi. Without even turning to face him he spoke. “Kill him.”

“This is really gonna suck,” noted Carrot as they started leaping towards him.

Quick Action Scene

So, it’s raining outside and I stopped to work on a scene before I headed to work. Hope you all enjoy!

*******

Visible anger and contempt played over Akiko’s features.

“What do YOU know about Lord Forsythe?  You are but NOTHING to him!

He–”

A faint sound had cut through the din of the air conditioning and the dull humming of the machines in the room. It sounded like gravel being stepped on, or popping corn.

Or submachinegun fire.

“They’re here,” Akiko said, returning to a state of calm.

Bullet ricochets whined off steel from just outside. Garbled screams and louder weapons fire drowned out every other noise completely.

James rose swiftly from his seat, brow creased. He rushed to the door and yanked it open to see three men in black reloading from the opposite end of the corridor. They spotted James as he dove for the overturned desk.

“Shit, there’s someone else in there,” James heard one curse. “There were only supposed to be three guards–”

Lyle was lying face down on the floor, and blood was staining his shirt.

One of the guards had slumped over the chair, while the other was leaning against the wall, staring lifelessly at the ceiling. A large red smear, stark against the white of the walls, was spread behind his hair. James fought down an urge to gag.

He shoved Lyle’s body aside and found what he was looking for.

“WHO GIVES A FUCK!?” came the roar from another of the men.  “He’s–”

“Hey, shitheads.”

James was standing in full view behind the desk.  His cigarette was lit.

In his hands he held a cocked and ready Ingram Mac-10.

“Not exactly standard issue,” he drawled, blowing out a plume of smoke from between his pressed lips. “But it works.”

James’s first volley hit one of the men below the knees, making the man fall screaming to the ground. After a moment’s shock however, the other two quickly brought their weapons to bear and began firing.  Even the fellow on the floor wasn’t completely out of commission– from his place, he tried his best to aim at James and managed to get a few bursts out, forcing James to retreat.

“Fuckers’re pros,” James muttered under his breath, forcing the door closed behind him.  He looked in Akiko’s direction as he changed his weapon’s clip.  “Friends of yours?”

New Snippet

Hey guys, I’m back to writing again. School is out and looks like work may lighten up for a bit so I’ll be able to share a bit more of what’s been going on in my mind.

*************

Whether it the dead of night or the calm of morning, it didn’t matter much to Icy. Morals and scruples became meaningless when you allow yourself to truly attempt and justify their continued use.  In the end, it boiled down to the desire and emotion that one held on to, be it a fleeting moment, or the span of a lifetime.  Those who held on to their morals often operated in the light of the morn, while the opposition dwelled within the refined shadow of evening.

Icy preferred neither and both at once.  She was a creature of time, not recognizing any supreme value in either day or night.

Her time was now.

A deliberate caution hindered somewhat by protesting muscles, Alice “Icy” Rodgers shifted her arm from the warmth of the expansive chest of Jordan Woodson, reaching for the cold grip of her P .38 handgun she’d kept hidden underneath her purse nearby.

“So soon?” a gruff voice queried.

Her face did not betray the surprise she felt, she turned her vision to the jaded, demanding eyes of the Demon.

“You’re supposed to be asleep.”

A light accusation, considering the severity of the situation.

“You should know better than that,” he replied, his tone quite a bit lighter than Icy knew it should be.

“We finally stopped only twenty minutes ago.  It’s going to be sunrise soon.”  In the darkness of Woodson’s bedroom, Alice’s fine-honed vision caught the moonlight confessing the position of her gun, in Jordan’s hand. His grip was light, but she could tell his every sinew was taught, waiting for her movement to be the slightest bit unfavorable to him.

“Looks like the Riot wore you out.  Now you know why I don’t dance.  This was kind of interesting when Nells attempted it on me.”

Icy couldn’t help her smile, then.  The story of the wannabe toppler of Jordan Woodson, Nells was quite the tale among his lieutenants. What wasn’t quite clear was how she was caught.  What was crystal clear was how she had paid for her treachery.

“You’d put me in the same room as her?” Alice asked with indignance.

“You put yourself there, Icy.  I’m just finally lettin’ you see that.”  He stifled a yawn, a movement that flustered Alice, despite herself.  “Why don’t you get some sleep, darlin’?  I’m gonna start breakfast.”

He rose without another word, stopping only to throw on a lavender robe and don some fuzzy slippers.  Alice’s patience broke in those moments of silence.

“What do you mean?” They were quiet words, but well-reinforced with a deadly venom.

“If you have to ask, you’ll never know.  It’s good to see you still have ambition; it means that the guvs didn’t get to you.”

Once his presence was gone, Alice allowed herself to wrap the sleeping bag around her naked body and shiver.  She was very aware that she wasn’t cold, and more aware that Woodson was perhaps the sickest, craftiest man she had ever come across, and attempted to cross.  Questions began spinning in her head about the past, about the day the Demon was taken down, but the most prominent question that played with her psyche like a finely tuned harp was thus:

Why did she love that man so much more, even now?

Wow, it’s been almost a month.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve updated. Pretty crazy, but, between the two 5 week courses I’m taking as well as the amount of time I’ve spent at work lately I haven’t made the time I normally would to release my words here into the blog. For the last several weeks I’ve had a lot on my mind and heart but I honestly really don’t know the best way to convey it. I mean, I normally do a pretty decent job coping or even just getting by after I write for a bit and release some of the negativity that’s built up inside but I just haven’t been able to do that of late.

So many things going on in the world right now. The government and people in power continue to be corrupt, people remain stuck within the great chasm of life, and I continue to slowly trek forward through life. As another Mother’s day is just around the corner I have to wonder if what I’m feeling right now is sorrow or some sort of self loathing because I’m unable to go leave flowers for her this year. I’m not sure, I just really wish a lot of times that I could progress a bit faster on this whole track to success thing. I work hard. I mean, to the point where I try my best to be the best person I can be at any particular task I can. Like, I take pride in making sure that anyone who buys anything from me when I’m working at the Paint desk knows that I was able to help them. When someone talks to me and starts a conversation I talk to them about anything, from basketball, college football, to the millionth time someone remarks about my diction or how tall I am. Yet, I’m reminded each day that I put forth this effort and have yet to achieve my end goals that I’m just not good enough. I’m not where I want to be in life. I’m not financially stable, I can barely afford to take care of myself, and I feel like all I seem to be is the black sheep of my family. I could go on about the reasons and sacrifices I’ve made for others but, none of that seems to matter when you can barely keep your head out of a financial black hole. The only thing that matters in the end is results regardless of your circumstance.  But even then once I’m actually successful and have “Made” it in life will that be enough? Who knows, maybe these are just the ramblings of someone with too much time to think and reflect.

So, am I content with where I am in life? Far from it. I’m a satisfied with my progress? Not at all. What do I do to combat it?

I work harder. I keep pushing forward and I do everything within my means to pursue any opportunity given to better myself.  No matter how hard it is for me to accept where I am right now in life, I have to remind myself that I won’t always be in this place. I won’t always have to live like this. This solitude, this anger, this darkness, and this negativity will leave me. I just have to keep fighting and find my way…right?

Getting back on topic, to the one or two of you who actually read my material I’ll try to get back to posting more of my work here within the next three weeks. My last day of course work is due May 15th, so after that I should be free to write and get a few more ideas out here in the world. Got a few new story ideas I want to get out so, don’t look for Defending or any of the other staples with my next updates.

Later.

04/13/15 Snippet and Update

Hey all, how’ve you been doing?

Been a while since I checked in so I thought I’d post an update out into the universe and let you all know I’ve been well. Things have slowed down a bit with my writing the past 2 weeks with work picking up due to the spring season. Writing will slow down a bit more these next 5 weeks as i’m taking more classes for this semester of class. In the mean time, if you need something to read that I’m working on or want to support me please drop by here and do the following in some way:

Share a link to the blog, send me art to potentially post and go along with my stories, email me (Majinwiru@gmail.com), comment on my blog posts! Tweet or share the links on facebook!

 

Anything you guys can do to share or create word of mouth is certainly appreciated it. In m y journey as an author I’m trying to maximize my potential and become the best I can be. Part of that journey is not only working my tail off to become an excellent writer but developing support and a community to support that hard work!
In other news, one of my favorite people in the world Sammus has restocked more of her gear! Show some support by going over here

Sammus in her new Red tee

The new Red Sammus Tee

and buying a few things! Enough of my yammering though, here’s the snippet!

 

*********

 

“Hurry it up,” muttered Cross, glancing around at the relatively empty back street the van was creeping down.

“I’m keeping it at precisely the speed limit,” replied Exposition. “Are you asking me to break the law?”

“Yes!” replied Cross. “I have a date!”

“Really?” Exposition stated conversationally. “Who with?”

“Cindy in R&D!” Cross growled. He pointed to the back of the van. “I’d like to get there before that damn thing kills us!”

“Relax,” said Henry calmly. “It’s sitting in a six-inch casing of negatanium. That should mute all such energies to next-to-nothing. Why do you think Akamatsu was able to finish the U-ray without incident?”

Michael considered it more important to ask why Akamatsu Industries Ltd. had immediately had a Buddhist Monk and a Shinto Priest on the premises to exorcise them. Or why they had broken out into a celebration as the van rolled out of sight. “I’d call spontaneous combustion an incident,” he muttered.

“No scientific method at all,” Exposition stated disdainfully. “Would you rather we not build a U-ray?”

“Of course not,” Cross stated uncertainly. “The cause of peace demands it. I know that.”

The cause of peace had in fact demanded that SHIELD build some of the most terrifyingly deadly and destructive weapons in the world, thus serving it by reducing the number of pesky living people who could be at times less than peaceable.

Exposition turned down a road. “Hmm,” he muttered. “Road block up ahead…”

Cross started. “In a warehouse district?”

Exposition shrugged. “Accidents happen everywhere.” He slowed the van into a stop, and leaned out the window. A pair of policemen stood there. “Pardon me, gentlemen,” Exposition stated calmly. “May I ask why you’ve set up a road block here?”

“Certainly,” said an apparent policeman. “To stop you SHIELD dogs!” At that moment, a horde of men in green and yellow bodysuits surrounded the van. The two policeman quickly removed their uniforms, revealing similar outfits. “Well, well. It seems our information has panned out beautifully,” said one. “Now, hand over the U-ray so it may used for the glorification of HYDRA!” He raised his fist, an action imitated by his fellows. “Hail HYDRA! If you cut off one head—”

At that moment a large vehicle that looked like a corkscrew on wheels burrowed out of the ground. A group of men and women wearing rather bulky brown environmental suits topped by funnel-shaped helmets emerged. “Halt inferiors!” said one. “The U-ray will be claimed not by SHIELD or HYDRA, but by Advanced Idea Mechanics! Hail, AIM! The future shall be ours through tech—”

“Oh give it a rest, science boy!” muttered a HYDRA member. “Everyone knows you AIM flunkies are useless in a fight.”

Another one snorted. “Right. Just go back to your slide rule, flathead, and leave world-conquering to the professionals.”

“And what will you do, squidman?” asked an AIM member loudly. “Hold some nation hostage? ‘Cause that’s gotten such great results! At least we’ll be able to do something with the U-ray!”

“Hey, don’t knock our methods!” cried the first HYDRA member. “We’ve just been having a run of bad luck…”

“For sixty years? That’s some run!” shouted the AIM member. “Why do you think we left? We got sick of nothing getting done.”

“I thought you left because the giant head told you to,” muttered the second HYDRA member.

“Hey, don’t make fun of MODOK!” cried the AIM member. “He’s not just a giant head! He’s got arms—and legs too!” He stepped forward, looking ready to swing.

Another member grabbed him lightly by the shoulder. “Let it go, Dwight.”

“I’m sorry,” he muttered. “It just really, REALLY annoys me when they make fun of MODOK like that…”

“I know Dwight. I know.”

Dwight appeared to recover his equilibrium. “Anyway, your opinion of our illustrious and not really just a giant head at all leader doesn’t matter! AIM is getting the U-ray!”

“Nuh-uh!” shouted a HYDRA member. “It’s going to HYDRA.”

“Sadly,” said a quiet voice, “you are all wrong.” The HYDRA and AIM agents turned. A group of ninjas emerged from the shadows. “The U-ray has been claimed by the Hand, whose reach is as—”

“Oh, screw you ninja boy,” muttered an AIM agent. “You guys can boast all you want—you’re still packing knives to a gun fight.”

“The way of the warrior is a far greater weapon than your pitiful technology,” said one ninja loftily. “Our skills allow us to—”

A HYDRA agent shot him in the arm. The ninja collapsed in agony. “You were saying?” asked the HYDRA agent.

“Oh—oh God! I’m bleeding! I’m bleeding!” screamed the ninja. “I—I think that one chipped a bone!”

“Face it!” chortled another HYDRA agent. “You guys and the funnelheads are going to get slaughtered.”

“Hey, don’t make fun of our costumes!” cried an AIM agent. “They may be bulky, and they don’t look too flashy, but they double our strength.”

“So,” muttered a Hand ninja, “you can lift two whole pounds now?”

This statement led to more unpleasantness, and so all those present were shouting when the helicopter landed.

“Squabbling, eh?” A man wearing a bisecting suit stepped out, followed by a bunch of lackeys, and a woman clad in flowing robes, and holding a bow. “Typical of rank amateurs.”

“Oh, hell,” muttered a HYDRA agent. “Zodiac…” The other criminals grumbled in agreement. Zodiac was one of the most universally resented gangs in the criminal underworld. On the one hand, they got their hands on more technology, and loot then most other crime syndicates even dreamed of. On the other hand, such things were soon wasted on Byzantine plots that didn’t even make much sense.

“Let’s see—Gemini—and Sagittarius,” noted an AIM member. “Is this the real you—or is a set of robotic duplicates?”

“Maybe yes,” said Gemini, “maybe no.” With that he and Sagittarius chuckled.

“Hand over the U-ray,” said Sagittarius in a dark whisper, “and when the Zodiac rules over all the—”

A large truck pulled in behind them, toppling over the helicopter.

“Son of a—” shouted Gemini, as he backed away.

“Looks like things aren’t going your way…” muttered Dwight the AIM agent.

“And we do have that little—numeric advantage thing,” pointed out a HYDRA agent.

“With our skills, it won’t help you,” stated Sagittarius confidently. “Besides it’s not like you losers could ever unite against us.”

“Don’t bet on it, lady,” muttered the wounded Hand ninja. Everyone present turned to look at the truck.

It was a large truck, with a rather tasteless picture of a beautiful woman cradling a bowling pin. A group of scowling men in purple and green bodysuits with a patch showing a bowling ball striking a pin on their foreheads emerged from it. Finally a man clad in what appeared to be mechanized body armor stepped out. “I am Hardstrike. My men and I make up the ideological organization known as Stick and Balls.”

“Yes,” shouted his men in unison. “That is our name. It is what we are called.”

“We will take the U-ray, and use it to restore bowling to its proper place in the world,” continued Hardstrike.

“Yes,” shouted his men. “That is what we will do. It is the action we will be taking.”

The general response to Stick and Balls arrival was close to the reaction that happens when a man in a clown costume arrives at a formal dress party.

“Stick and Balls,” muttered an AIM member. “Unfortunate name.”

“I know,” said a ninja. “I always thought we had it bad. The ‘Hand’ and all that…”

“So how are you—going to promote bowling…?” asked a HYDRA agent. “With the—U-ray.”

“Easy,” snorted Hardstrike confidently. “First, we will use the U-ray to destroy all opposing sports. Then, we will demand that bowling be made the national sport—of the world!” He raised his arms in triumph. “We will triumph by the strength of our magnificent sticks, and glorious balls!”

Most of the criminals winced at this—master plan.

With one exception.

“An intriguing plot,” said Gemini. “Do you plan to involve robots in it?”

“No,” said Hardstrike. “That would be silly.”

Back at the SHIELD van, Cross was panicking. “Damn it—how did so many get here?”

“There must be a leak,” said Exposition calmly.

“A leak?” cried Michael. “A leak would be one of them knowing about it. This is a freakin’ gouge!” He glanced outside. “Okay, they’re still debating salvage rights. Let’s run for it. We can make it to the rendezvous point, and alert SHIELD security.”

“I think you’re forgetting the first duty of every SHIELD agent,” said Exposition, patriotism dripping from his voice. “To die in the line of duty, so that Nick Fury looks more impressive.”

Cross stared at him, dumbfounded. “You know, Henry, I always knew you were crazy, but I never thought you were insane.” He got out of the van, and started to run. A shot rang out. Michael looked up weakly, to see Exposition holding a smoking pistol. “Y-you betrayed me…” he muttered, startled.

“Actually, by running you betrayed both me and SHIELD, you pinko rat bastard,” corrected Exposition.

This point apparently so mortified Cross, that he died.

Henry turned to the criminals. “Terribly sorry about that. He just wasn’t cut out for this kind of work. Now then, shall we get this over with?” He raised his pistol. “For SHIELD!” With that, Henry Exposition charged forward.

In five seconds, he took sixteen gun shots, five shuriken, and a bowling ball to the head.

“Good shot,” commented a ninja to Hardstrike.

“Thank you,” replied Hardstrike. “I pride myself on my aim. If I cannot perfect my skills, then I am not worthy of my magnificent Stick and Balls.”

 

***

 

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