The Defenders is the new title of my Dr. Strange alternate universe tale I’m working on. It was formerly known as Defending, but as I’ve gone through some changes in the writing process I think this fits a bit more. Hope you guys enjoy this excerpt and please leave some feedback below!
Natalie Thomas was, despite her best efforts, not happy.
“Oh, God,” said Yvonne, putting down her bagel. “I am stuffed!” She pushed her plate towards Sarah. “Here Sarah, you finish it.”
Sarah pushed it away. “Oh, I’m also stuffed. Here you try. I don’t know if you’re eating enough these days…”
Natalie sighed. *I am being paid for this,* she reminded herself. Sometimes, she didn’t know whether to regard the sudden crime wave in Tokyo (and Nerima in particular) as a blessing or a curse. It had increased her bodyguard services by 63%, but—well, guarding Sarah and Yvonne meant watching the eternal struggle for dominance between the two—a struggle to claim the position of “Most Desired Girl at Friarwood High”. The position tended to cycle between the two, occasionally falling on some other girl at the school. Natalie found it very tiresome. Sometimes she wished that a more—obviously desirable girl existed to settle the matter. She often thought that if Ashley didn’t have such a grim attitude—and well, hadn’t been a cripple—she’d have claimed the position in a heartbeat. *And the profits I could rake in that way…* Natalie thought cheerfully. She shook her head. She might as well wish that Ashley were the one who had to practice martial arts. Reality wasn’t going to change anytime soon.
“I’m telling you, my appetite was ruined by that monster attack,” stated Yvonne. “Why I’m still recovering from the trauma.”
Sarah snorted. “Come on, Yvonne. You’ve worn that story out.” She smiled. “I don’t think it even happened.”
“It did too!” shouted Yvonne. “And I was saved by a vampire superhero!”
Natalie shut her eyes. If she weren’t hearing this conversation she’d have a hard time believing it was happening. Actually, she was still having a hard time believing that.
But she also had a hard time believing that a man named “Count Nefaria” had tried to use the Tokyo Tower as the transmitter for his Euthanoelectro Ray last week, and that had also apparently happened.
“Oh, like any superhero would bother saving a girl like you…” muttered Sarah.
“What does that mean?” asked Yvonne in offended tones.
“I think we both know what I mean,” said Sarah maliciously.
“Like you can judge!” Yvonne retorted. “I mean, all the boys, hanging around
you all the time, bumping into you, calling your name…”
“Sarah!” came a harsh voice.
“Just like that!” said Yvonne.
“Sarah…” came another voice, a ghastly whisper.
“And that one too!” she noted. She smiled at the stricken Sarah. “Ha! Dumbfounded you, didn’t I? I can tell by that shocked expression on your face…”
Sarah pointed over Yvonne’s shoulder. Yvonne turned around. “Oh. I see.” She gulped.
Standing in the doorway were two hideous, almost broken forms. The first was a black-haired man wearing a golden devil mask, though a close examination suggested the mask was almost fused with his head. His arms were covered in bulging muscle, and ended in golden clawed gloves. While his form seemed merely muscular at first glance, the longer you looked at it the more—unnatural it seemed, all the mass and sinew seeming to ripple unsteadily. But the worst thing was the pentagram on his chest. It was dark black, and it seemed to just absorb and bend all the light that got near it. The longer you looked at it the worse it got.
The second figure was more openly hideous, though he lacked his companion’s subtle horrors. He was an emaciated brown-haired man, who seemed to have been withered and mummified, his skin having the greyish color of a preserved corpse. A pair of mechanical hooks functioned for hands, while an eye patch covered his right eye.
“Sarah!” said the first figure. “I claim you now, I, Master Pandemonium, the most
amazing being in Nerima!”
“Hey,” said the second figure. “I’m the most amazing being in Nerima, so I’m getting Sarah.”
“Are not!” said Master Pandemonium taking a swing at his associate.
“Am too!” said the second figure, turning immaterial and causing Pandemonium’s blow to pass right through him, instead smashing a large hole in the wall.
“Are not!” said Master Pandemonium. “How can you be more amazing than I am? You haven’t even said your name yet.”
“Oh, right. I’m Harry…”
“Your supervillain name, moron!”
Harry slapped his forehead—an act that was painful to watch as the metal hook collided with shriveled flesh. “That’s right.” He spread his arms and laughed sinisterly. “I am the Ghost!”
“That name sucks!” cried Pandemonium.
“Does not!” shouted the Ghost, blasting an ether ray at him.
“Does too!” shouted Pandemonium, as the star in his chest seemingly absorbed
“Oh, like yours is better Dan!”
Natalie blinked, and stepped forward. “Harry…? Dan…?”
The pair shuddered. “Natalie?” squeaked Dan.
“What happened to you two?” she asked, slightly fearful despite her efforts to remain calm.
“Oh, we just sold our souls,” answered Harry cheerfully. “We’re soldiers in the army of Hell now.”
“Shut up!” cried Dan, releasing a blast of hellfire.
Harry turned immaterial again, causing the blast to incinerate the table behind him. “No, you shut up!”
“No, you!” shouted Dan. He pouted. “Why are you trying to take Sarah from me? You know I love her!”
“Hey!” said Harry fiercely. “I should be asking you that!” Harry gestured broadly at the young women. “How about you just take Yvonne instead? She’s pretty close to Sarah…”
“Would you take Yvonne instead?” asked Dan.
“Of course not,” said Harry. “I’m cooler than you, ’cause I’ve got the eye patch.”
Natalie readied herself. From the casual displays of power the pair were showing she doubted she could do much, but she could probably distract them for a moment, and then slip away herself. She glanced at Yvonne and Sarah. “When I say go—go.”
Dan was shaking his fist at Harry. “For the last time, I’m getting Sarah…”
“That’s what you think!” a voice shouted out. A young man in Buddhist robes leaped into the shop. With one dazzling spin of a long cane he yanked Harry to his feet, and then rolled in front of Natalie. “No maiden need fear evil on the watch of—Mark, the Devil-Slayer!” He
turned to Natalie. “Quickly! Escape! I’ll hold them off!”
Natalie glared at him. “How? Thanks to you, they’re pretty focused on us right now and they’re blocking the exit…”
Mark coughed nervously. “Oh. Right.” He blinked. “Well, let’s work something out…”
Suddenly he knocked all three of the young women to the ground. A blast of energy
knocked out the wall behind them. “There. See. An alternate escape route. I told you I’d
take care of things.”
Natalie glared at him as she ran out the hole into the back alley. She’d heard about superheroes, of course, but somehow Mr. Devil-Slayer did not strike her as one of the top members of the business.