Androgyne/Going to Bat

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Going to Bat
by Buck "The King" Adelman

To celebrate the Reciprocators' 4th anniversary this past April, Vesveras or whatever his name is now created a unique AE arc presented as Paragon Comics' The Reciprocators Annual #4. The contact for this arc was actually the guest author narrating the adventure, Buck "The King" Adelman, an abominably alliterative homage to Stan Lee at his best/worst. When Ves began The Noisebomb's Farewell Tour, I got his permission to have The King do another spot of guest authoring as the Androgyne looked for some way to aid eir own "close friend and personal hero." The result was gleefully awful and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

[A vain, Vanguard-vindicated villain who follows phenomenal filaments of Fate to bequeath the beauty of eir own bodily barrenness unto the lawless, Ani Hess 'Returns the Favour' as...]

Issue #43 (May 2010)


Featuring: The RETURN of KINGS ARROW!
(by Special Guest Writer: Buck "The King" Adelman!)

Usually the use of eir preternatural powers provided this maverick mutant a fine focus, free from fret or fancy.  Following fate-threads to eir destination, determinedly darting through space and time in search of a date with destiny, asked an astonishing amount of attention and alacrity from none other than Ani Hess, THE AMBIGUOUS ANDROGYNE.  Alas, at the moment, aloft as e arm-over-arm arranges emself across the air above Atlas, eir attention is averted by eir own introspection and intuition, intensely intertwined in irritation at the inexplicable, inexcusably iniquitous incident in which e intended to intervene.

Eir friend and fellow Fist, THE FREAKY NOISEBOMB, had been maligned as the murderer of an endangered eyewitness to COUNCIL capers whom the cunning chiropteran crime-fighter had been commissioned to conduct.*  Now, the Noisebomb appeared to have chosen to shoulder the difficulties of his circumstance as an outlaw on his own, rebuffing any resolution of the redoubtable RECIPROCATORS to aid him in order to avoid endangering their still precarious standing with Paragon City's bureaucrats.


The Androgyne was unswayed by the Noisebomb's insistence on independence; Ani uniquely understood the urge behind such an undertaking, as e had feinted a flagrant fall to flamboyant felony emself, eight months prior while the Reciprocators faced a slew of suspicious statutory setbacks*.  With the Reciprocators' reputation only recently recovered, the Noisebomb would have no doubt his name's new notoriety now reflected negatively upon his teammates.  Since the word went out about the Noisebomb's implication in the innocent informant's death, the Androgyne had been pursuing the truth.

* -- Courtesy of the conniving COUNTESS CREY, as revealed in THE RECIPROCATORS #41!

Knowing the Noisebomb dare not speak for fear of the dire destruction his decibels would produce, Ani could not help but see the circumstances of the slaying as suspect.  According to the media, the lawmen on the scene when the murder occurred went relatively unharmed, despite the allegation that he had pulverized the protected person in front of their eyes.  Ani was after answers, so e intended to initiate some interviews with those who'd been on the scene.  Before e started, however, e wanted VANGUARD verification of where e stood in a situation such as this.  For that, there was only person to talk to: the Herald's own ADVOCATE THOMPSON.

Lt. Hess, as the Androgyne was known to the Vanguard private scanning identification at the DPO in Atlas Park, had called ahead to request a meeting with eir Herald Advocate, the driven former district attorney who represented em and several other former felons who had made the transition to heroing through their work with the Vanguard.  She was waiting for em in the lobby -- unexpectedly clad in sturdy, form-fitting Vanguard armor of her own with an advanced pistol holstered at either hip*-- and as soon as e smiled in greeting and opened eir mouth to speak, she interrupted em: "No."  The Androgyne's mouth closed, then opened, but once again Thompson interrupted before e could form a full phrase.  "I understand he's a team-mate and you want to look out for him, but he's a wanted man.  The Androgyne can not be seen as aiding and abetting a fugitive, whatever the circumstances, barring of course War Zone operations but then you're our responsibility, while this is a city matter."


Though it was exactly the explanation e expected, Ani emoted eir exasperation.  "But--!"


The Androgyne gave her a grim glower.  E hadn't expected encouragement, but e had at least longed for a loophole.  ...and as e reviewed her words in eir head, e realized: e'd found one!  For while the Androgyne's legal standing was even more precarious than that of the Reciprocators as a whole, e had an ace up eir sleeve neither Vanguard nor Paragon City suspected!

Somewhere out in this torrential, thunder-torn night, the Androgyne hoped, the Noisebomb would find shelter from the storm.  With eir powers still limited by the lingering limitations left by the interference of the vengeful SEER CARNEGIE*, e could not follow the thread of Fate binding em to the Noisebomb or any of eir other longtime friends.  Still, if e could not find eir framed friend, e could nevertheless seek his foes, though for the time being, e would have to find other threats than transmutation with which to tempt the truth from them.

* -- Scared off by the fearsome PARIAH FLUX in THE RECIPROCATORS #39!

For on this night, crouched on the cornice of a Canyon condominium, Ani Hess had no access to eir radical radioactivity -- e had surrendered the ability when e had donned the distinctly different from eir usual costume e now wore.  After a brief rest in the CITADEL OF DEFIANCE, discussing eir plan with emself, and a chat to clear eir mind with eir closest comrade, RON CLEMENS, AGENT OF M.I.R.A., e had decided to go forward with this plan, despite eir doubts.  Ani Hess was no longer in command of eir actions, though e still perceived eir perceptions as a passenger of sorts.  If the Androgyne could not help the Noisebomb, and he would rebuff all remediation from the Reciprocators, then the Androgyne would prevent either from being implicated by eir attempt to aid: e would step aside and allow the fractured persona of KINGS ARROW to rise to prominence in eir psyche!*

* -- Confused, Loyal Subjects?  Last year's mini-series, HANK STILLER'S KINGS ARROW, explains all!

Clad from head to toe in black, wearing a mask with eyeguards that rose to tall, swooping points, Kings Arrow wore sculpted padding beneath the costume to lend the Androgyne's figure a masculine musculature it normally lacked to further conceal "his" true identity.  Upon his chest was the golden crown that had once been the crest of the crafty KINGSWOMAN, as a credit to whose character Ani originally crafted the costume and concept of Kings Arrow when e needed a new heroic identity to aid the Reciprocators.  In time, Kings Arrow had proved to be too heroic.  The portion of eir personality e had partitioned eir lawful impulses into eventually turned against em, vying for control of the body they shared and trying to derail eir plans for vengeance.  Once the Androgyne's grim scheme was averted and e realized e really relished reform and returned to Reciprocating, Kings Arrow had retreated into the shadows of Ani's mind, ever-present but now more cryptic colleague than combatant, asserting himself only when they encountered Countess Crey out of distrust of Ani's self-control.

Months before, Kings Arrow had ingratiated himself to a high-placed former contact of the Androgyne's, Captain Izzy Sixex of the PPD's Data Crimes Division.  Leveraging a loophole in the "law-tomaton's" logical logarithm, Arrow had earned the erstwhile enforcer's trust despite his unregistered vigilante status.  At the time, Arrow had exploited the loophole to obtain for the Reciprocators footage from police drones of the truck used in the cowardly kidnapping of THE STARTLING STATIC BOLTER by the East Libertalian ambassador.*  This rainy night, he had begun his search by contacting Captain Sixex straight-forwardly, relying on his craftily created confidence with the "Digital Detective" to learn the identities of the police officers who had been assigned to the detail meeting with the Noisebomb and his charge at the safehouse wherein the latter's liquefaction loomed.

* -- The climactic cliff-hanger concluding THE RECIPROCATORS #39!

The first few flatfoots furnished nearly nothing new to Kings Arrow, and he'd begun to worry he would not in fact be able to uncover the machinations muddling the murderer's true identity; then, he had sought answers at the apartment of one Leonard Lieber, a beat cop assigned to the detail at the last minute at his superior Sean Seaborne's specific request.  Drunken and despairing already, having seen the remains of a man killed in a horrifying way and knowing he had played a part, Lieber needed little lubrication or intimidation to admit his awareness that the Noisebomb had been set up to take the fall for Ballard's murder.  Lieber gave up a name: Trevor Tompkins, a policeman popularly perceived as perfidious for a pathetically paltry price.

The Kings Arrow crept along the edge of the roof as a PPD squad car pulled up outside the building he stalked, staring intently at the twin threads which twined down through the air into the front two seats of the vehicle.  The officer in the passenger seat exited, wearing civilian clothing, and rapped a grateful knock across the roof of the Crown Victoria.  Duffel bag in hand and a newspaper over his head to shield him from the pouring rain, Tompkins walked towards his building's entrance, utterly unwitting of the black-clad bearer of bad tidings for bad guys that lurked above!  Kings Arrow stopped beside a weathered art-deco gargoyle that watched over Steel Canyon from the corner of the 22-story building, and folded his fingers firmly about the Fate-thread which connected him to Tompkins.



With a snap of his elbow, Kings Arrow yanked upwards on the thread, ripping Tompkins off the ground below and drawing him through the spaces between the dimensions up to Arrow's own altitude!  Tompkins popped out of thin air as the thread strained for release in Arrow's grasp then shortened in reflection of Tompkins' new position.  The crooked cop dropped, and the back of his jacket snagged on the outstretched wing of the gargoyle.  His duffel and the keycard in his hand were both lost as his hands flailed about in search of purchase when the sensation of falling first hit him, and he let out a strangled, startled shriek as his jacket saved him from joining his dropped belongings.  Arrow gave him no time to come to grips with the situation, standing defiantly at the edge of the cornice with his small gold-lined cape whipping behind him in the strong winds.  He glared at Tompkins with hate and contempt and rasped so deeply it would pain the Androgyne's throat when e returned to primacy, "WHO KILLED BARRETT BALLARD?"

Tompkins recoiled as if struck, his startled scream abating as he stared at the masked man on the ledge and realized his predicament.  After an instant of panicked stammering, he managed to get out, "I didn't see!  I-I didn't know--I swear to God, I--"

Arrow interrupted, infuriated by Tompkins' imitation of ignorance, "SWEAR TO ME!"  With only a twitch of his wrist to the side, he teleported Tompkins a foot further out into space, freeing him of the snag that saved his life, and let him plummet, screaming in horror.  Arrow's fingers splayed as he watched the officer's thread unspool between them, lengthening at the speed of gravity, and waited until the right moment to yank his hand up and throw Tompkins right back to where he had dangled an instant before.

Tompkins kept screaming for a few seconds after he lodged back into place suspended from the gargoyle's wing.  Gasping for breath as he recovered from his seventeen-story plunge, he began immediately to spill his secrets!  "I don't...I don't know!  I never knew, never!  Seaborne, he went to see a guy the day before, who paid him, he paid me--"


"For information!  Locations of protected witnesses usually, just this time the buyer must've had some kind of special request--"


"I never went to the meeting point!  It was in the Hollows, cops only go there when they're in force!"

Kings Arrow leaned forward, threatening to fall from the ledge, but kept his balance as he pushed his face towards Tompkins' to ask him coldly, "DO I LOOK LIKE A COP?"

Without giving the cowardly crooked cop time to respond, Arrow flicked his wrist again to cast him back out into space.  This time as he fell, Arrow held his thread firmly and snapped it to hurl himself along it, overshooting its anchor in Tompkins as he shot across space-time to alight on the sidewalk below in less time than it took to blink.  Keeping his fingers coiled loosely around the slackening thread that now stretched into the sky above him and half-listening to the descending scream, Arrow picked up the duffel Tompkins had dropped from where it had crashed into the sidewalk, slung it over his shoulder and opened it as he walked away.  When Tompkins was two stories from the ground, Kings Arrow's hand snapped once more around the thread tying them together and gave it a quick jerk to the side to pull Tompkins out of his doom plummet and into perfect placement for a safe landing atop the rain-soaked garbage half-filling a dilapidated dumpster.  Arrow pulled a padlock purchased for the purpose from his utility belt and locked the lids down as, inside, Trevor Tompkins wept.

Arrow pulled Tompkins' cell phone out of the duffel bag -- it survived the fall thanks to the gym clothes it was lost among inside -- sent a text message from it to Captain Sixex notifying him of Tompkins' location, then skimmed through its recent calls until he found one attributed to "Slick".  A nickname Lieber had mentioned in referring to Sean Seaborne!  Before dialing, Kings Arrow spent a moment playing with a different device, one he'd carried on his belt, active, for the purposes of the interrogation.  Similar in size and appearance to a touch-screen cell phone, it was a device borrowed from the daring, wired CYBERETTE's Noise Shoppe at the Citadel.  Designed for on-the-go handheld recording, playback, and manipulation, it came with editing software built in.

Kings Arrow was created as an amalgam of some of the heroes the Androgyne held in the highest esteem, and as other heroes grew into their own and Ani developed a greater respect for them, Arrow's pool of influence seemed to have grown.  In this case, he would borrow for his purposes a trait of none other than the freaky Noisebomb himself!  With his recording device programmed, he called Seaborne from Tompkin's cell.  Relying on the pouring rain's pitter-patter against the awning of the storefront he paused under to mask any oddities, as soon as Seaborne answered the phone Arrow pressed play, and let "Tompkins" do the talking.

"Seaborne.  I.  Must.  Request.  Meeting.  In the Hollows.  I. 've had some kind of special. Information!  Some kind of.  Witness.  The day before." Arrow pressed the button to end the call, stroked a hand through the myriad mingling threads he saw for one that pointed south-east, then seized upon it to thread towards Eastgate!

Last Updated: 12/27/2010

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