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  • Witch-Hand

    Mystical Mayhem #16 Anthology story 2 (the cover story is about a man who is transforming into a large dragon, with no way to stop it, Witch-Hand does not yet show up on this cover)

    Firefighters gathered around the office building, having now combusted into a blistering inferno. They got as many out as they could, the fire trucks trying to douse the flames. They did as much as was possible, but people were stuck inside, with no way out.

    Feet ran on steps, up a neighboring building before reaching the top, a young woman with red help, with a cape and mask. A superhero. She leaped in, cane swinging from the fire escape and launching her inside, breaking the glass window. There were still people inside. She looked side to side, listening for the cries of help… it wasn't safe to use the fire escape, on the lower levels the fire became particularly ferocious.

    A smirk appeared on her lips, out went her hand, and a half-dozen metal rings flew out, one end resting on the fire escape, the other on the building next to to it, just close enough to close the gap. Two people, and elderly woman crying for help, and what sounded like a young man. Same direction in any case, she ran forward past the fire, found the old woman.

    She saw the figure in the fire, but in the smoke the old woman couldn't make it who, but she heard her voice… Reminded her of her grandchildren, as she said “I'm here to help, take my hand!” she said as she knelt and offered her hand to her. She did and found herself being carried to the fire exit, she then put her down, feet first before a hand pointed at the magic metal ring bridge, each circle interlocking with the other in such a way as to render it difficult to fall through the gaps, and enough to make the bridge reach. “Don't worry, it'll hold, those’re magic.” the old lady heard the hero say, before turning and seeing the young lass smile back at her, winking with a thumbs up, a picture of confidence.

    She walked along it, slowly, but the ring bridge held despite how it looked. When she turned back, the heroine was long gone, out to save the young man. She came and saw… she’d place his age at just around 19, in a wheelchair, by a window facing another building, and burning wooden beams around him. She came into the room and… this was a pickle, she was confident in her agility, but not while carrying another person, she was strong but the both would be too big to get past that mess of burning death… She'll have to figure it out as she goes. She leaped through, and dived through the mess of burning wood, getting by unscathed, before coming face to face with him. His cries for help had stopped, though he clearly was still scared, just now he thought both of them would die

    She was not so deterred however, peeking her head out, they were on the third floor yes, but the other wall was close, and she saw a street light… “What’s your name?” She asked him. “Ja-Javiar!” he responded, his eyes flickering towards the firey wall she just jumped past. “Javiar, hold on to me, we're gonna head to ground floor!” she said before grabbing him, and with an almost cocky grin, she leaped, came hanging by her side while Javiar held on around her neck, the rest of his weight supported by her hands, with her legs she bounced from side to side, moving to the building, leaping off the walls until she got to the streetlight, then on hand let go, and Javiar thought he would fall.

    He didn't, and instead he found himself looking right at Witch-Hand’s face, seeing her blue eyes staring right back at him, as she held him like a dance partner, her feet on the street light, and the cane on the other side, and as she held the posture, they slowly slid down the pole, gently reaching the ground. Perhaps it was the adrenaline, or that he was a nerdy man who never been held this close by a woman, or simply that she just saved his life, but the slide down took ages, and yet no time at all for him. The paramedics came quickly, and she let him take Javier, but not before he spoke out “Wait! Who are you?” she turned back at him before winking, and telling him “I'm Witch-Hand! Your new superheroine!” she said, before running off.





    Signature and Avatar by NinjaSushi

  • #2
    Interlude
    As Witch-Hand left the crowd, she came back to the side the building, where she helped the old lady. That lady was on the ground, the fire at this point entirely engulfed that side of the building, and she looked up at the fire and the metal ring bridge that got her to safety. She looked back at her hero and said, “Thank you dear. I’m not sure I would have gotten out without you young lassy.” She smiled back at her before throwing her cane high up, right at the bridge, before it broke into metal rings, which she proceeded to grab each and every last one, before storing them back into her cape.

    The old lady simply stared at what just happened. “Wha-... How did…” She looked back and forth at her and where the metal ring bridge she had walked over just was. “The Magic of Witch-Hand!” She called out before running off.

    Signature and Avatar by NinjaSushi

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    • #3
      Witch-Hand Issue 12
      (The cover depicts the Mesmerist’s gloved hands around Witch-Hand, similar to how one puts their hands around a crystal ball. Witch-Hand is depicted in a sea of fog, shielding her eyes from a bright flash off the cover.)

      Note to self Witch-Hand, get a grappling hook. Using the ladders and fire escapes uh, isn’t quite as glamorous. In any case, I’ve begun making a name for myself, people seem mixed seeing me when I arrive, but usually they’re in no position to get mad given they have more important things to worry about. Over time I’ve beaten muggers, saved people from burning buildings, and people are talking about me. About Witch-Hand anyway, some were mixed, some liked her, and a lot were waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess I can’t blame them.

      It was getting to be night, the sun was low and… Well, what do he have here. He stood stop the power line looking at masked goons in ski masks, loading jewels into a van. Not for loong… I jumped down, between the the men with their box of jewels and the van, standing right in front of them. “Stop right there criminals, you’ve come to face to face with…” My shpiel quickly died down when they continued moving past me. “Uuuh…” I stopped one man, who simply kept pushing. I threw him to the floor, and… “...” I looked back at them, moving as if they didn’t even see me. I scoffed at that point, seriously, I put work into presentation, had a pose and everything and they didn’t even notice. I outright punched one and… Wow they weren’t reacting at all, he fell to the ground, got up and kept going, the others just…

      “...You okay?” Eventually the mastermind came out and… I see someone stole my gimmick, I certainly didn’t recognize him at any rate. Little taller than me, he wore purple and green in pinstripes, with a styled thin mustache. “M-mademoiselle, I didn’t expect we’d get company!” He said, before flaring out his cape, and presenting with a scepter. “Now, you’re Witch-Hand, never thought I’d come face to face with the local legend.” He seemed nervous but I had to give him credit, he was keeping up a persona. I got back to my own persona as well, now that I had someone to actually bounce off of. “I see you’ve heard of me, but who are you? An admirer?” I said, before knocking out another one walking towards the door with my cane. “No one in particular… But…” He looked at the three men on the floor. “Dear me, they’re gonna be heavy to carry away….” He looked back at me. And pointed his scepter at me, the end began to glow white, flashed, I put my arms up in front of me as a defense, “Don’t think you-” And I was looking at a wall… I turned around… “...Where’d everyone go?” Even the knocked out thugs were away. I was alone. In the dead of night. Did he… What the hell happened?

      That bugged me throughout the night. Next morning came up, and as I came down the house to eat breakfast. And as I ate I saw at the news about the local jewel store getting burgled, all the jewels gone… Way to ruin a morning. God, my cheeks burned. What the hell happened!? My father saw my expression though “What’s wrong Angelica?” Aww. I never told him about my excursions. “Nothing just… Remembered something embarrassing.” That’s all I needed to say at least, though I could see Angie and… Yeah she probably already guessed that I screwed up yesterday. Just… Gotta deal with that. Tonight I’d do it, after college, wait until night time, go on patrol and catch him. I wasn’t about to let him out of my sight…

      Night came. I was out on the prowl, hunting this time. Just needed to find him, running back and forth on the rooftops, I eventually found it, at a mansion, another fan rolling in. One came out, hacked the gate and they drove in… Well, I wasn’t gonna let this go unimpeded, I ran out there, rooftop to rooftop until I got to the gate and leaped on the van driving in. Banging on the top, they quickly stopped, and the minions filed out. “She's here!” one said. Awww, looks like they were expecting me! I rolled back onto the windshield, my boots hitting the trunk, my arms wide out, flaring my cape out.

      The rest came about to pull me off, and the green and purple striped man got it of the driving wheel even, making a run around us. Not that it'd help him for long, in the time it took him to pick the lock, the men wouldn't be walking anywhere. They came at me,as I backflipped off of it and into one thug’s head, jumping off of him as he fell to the floor, the rest came at me, and they got thrown down, hit in the stomach with my cane, kicked, punched, and in short order they were down for the count. This time I checked them to make sure they were gonna stay down… yeah, most of them were in no position to run. Least if he was gonna get away again, he couldn't take his entourage… He certainly didn't look the type to carry them himself.

      Speaking of him… As I turned, I saw he unlocked the door and was heading at a brisk walk… interesting considering I just beat his goons into the ground. I figure a twig like him would run, especially since I wasn't going to let him do what he wanted this time. I ran inside, sliding on the carpet floor of the mansion, shouting out “Now where do you think you’re going? Show’s not over yet!” I said, one hand going behind me while the cane pointed straight at him. He turned around and chuckled. “How lovely of you to join me! I think we both have appreciation for the mystic arts. Of course, yours is only aesthetic, while mine…” he took a look at his scepter again… “I have a closer relationship with the impossible.” he said, brushing his hair. Was he gonna keep talking like he had real magic? “That's quite the claim to make, but I doubt your magic is so helpful here!” I responded before leaping forward , pulling a playing card out and throwing it right at that scepter of his,it flashed again but I knew that my card would hit first, before the flash could finish, it'd light up then crash to the ground, out of his hands.

      I thought it would at any rate. I was on the ground, my cane in my hand, one end where he was, and no sign of him or the scepter- “I'm a true magician you silly girl!” what in the… “How did…” As I turned to see him on the stairs. How did he get there so quickly? Another flash and he was down the stairs. “I told you, magic. I can teleport where I please and there is naught you can do to stop me…” he said, the smugness on his face, he was suppressing a laugh. “Though if you want to give up this charade, I could use an assistant top carry that statue.” he said looking at the giant stone head encased behind glass. “I'm a solo act buddy, and I'm certainly not going to be an assistant to a nobody who won't introduce himself!” I ran forward, if he was teleporting maybe I could knock him out first… “Goodbye then. But if you want to take me up on my offer, I'll be by the lakeside prison.” he said before another flash and… He was gone. The statue was gone. The men I clobbered were gone…

      I sighed. What the hell was going on here? I looked around… The owners must've been out considering no one came with all the noise... That's strange, the floor… I looked at the carpet floor and it… The statue was dragged through here, it couldn't by anything else with how wide the mark was… But I was here the whole time, how did he drag away a giant statue? What, did he have super speed?

      Another failed night at any rate… And I couldn't figure out why. This is awful… I just called in the burglary in and left. Just what was going on here, ai know it has to do with the scepter but…

      Next morning I was still in a foul mood. But I had to hide it. But I swear… I wasn’t going to be played a third time! After my college wrapped up, I took out my cell phone. Angie was my twin, clone technically, the only one who knew my secret identity. She was the closest thing I had to back up. “Hey Angie!” I spoke into the cell phone. “I uh… need some help.” I explained the last three nights to her, best I could at any rate. She agreed. That night, Angie set herself up at a neighboring tower and just waited most of the night away on her cell phone, a pair of binoculars and a walkie talkie on her. I was looking around, added in a headset, aaand… “There he is, driving that stupid van.” I told her. “I see ya, you should just kick his ass instead of bantering.” She advised me, “Don't worry, I've got enough pent up anger to unleash on him.” I responded. The Van came to a stop upon seeing me, and he got out himself this time, telling the others to stay inside… Cocky isn't he? Well, I wasn't playing around this time, I walked forward as he feigned surprise, and quickly went forward and grabbed him before throwing up onto the ground behind me, I raised my cane to smash him as he yelped in shock and held his scepter. It flashed and… Where was he?
      Wait where was I? I looked around, I was on the other side of the prison and… Alarms. Looking at it… Oh no, a hole was blown straight through the wall… And looking in deep, in went towards the deepest section… Isn't that where they held the few super villains they could catch there… How What happened? “Angie?” I called on the radio. No response. “Angie?” I asked again. Please, don't let it be what i think it is...

      Signature and Avatar by NinjaSushi

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      • #4
        Witch-Hand Issue 13
        (The cover depicts Witch-Hand hanging limply, the Mesmerist controlling her every move like a puppet master.)


        I was getting nervous… “Angie!” no answer again. I started sprinting hard as I could. If I put her in danger, if she gotten thrown off because of… I didn't want to think about it, I just climbed up the side as quickly as I could. I had to know, I clambered up there and looked scanned….

        There was Angie, right where she was when I last saw her. “Angie! What the hell!?” I called it at her. No response. What… I walked over, slowly, like I was talking a tight rope and I hadn't trained a day for this. I grasped her shoulder, turned her around and… It was Angie, not a puppet or scarecrow of her and she seemed fine, but… Her eyes weren't focused on anything and her face was blank. “Angie?” Nothing. No reaction from waving my hand in front of her face. I even almost touched her eye and nothing. No stimulus. I was just trying random things at this point to wake her. Then several failed attempts including pinching her, I snapped my fingers three times beside her ears. The life came back to her eyes and she gasped, jumping back and sputtering “Wh- How did you get…” she trailed off hearing the alarms. I spoke “You were just standing there, lights on but nobody’s home kind of thing.” We stood there a moment. I felt pretty stupid for not figuring it out earlier.

        “Hypnosis…” Angie said. It explained a lot, he walks up to whoever, flash, programmable human, and when they wake up they don't remember a damn thing… God I probably carried that statue out for him! And who knows what I did while under that… resulted in that. I didn't want to think about it. What I did need to do, was stop him before anything else happened. I needed a plan. I’d head home, this time I needed to come up with something. I’d need a way to avoid seeing that thing… I can’t really guess when it’ll go off… Probably best to avoid the possibility entirely… I’ll need a blindfold then… And I’ll have to fight blind.

        This is already off to a great start. Second I needed to check on who escaped from the prison… Harver Cliffbee? Big and stocky looking guy, who apparently was stronger than most, his skin was grey as well, and almost rocky. The were others who escaped, but he was the big one… Okay then. You have to fight a big rock guy… Blind. Okay then… If I’m blind… I’ll need to initiate this somewhere quiet… If I end up fighting in a factory or something I’m almost certainly doomed with the people screaming from a super villain. No, I need to take the fight to them…



        How the hell do I do that?

        ...You know, he’s been awfully smug throughout our encounters… Always sure he’s in control… I can’t remember a single thing from the flashes, but knowing what I know now… I wonder… I just went through my phone at this point, I heard a few things about it, but researching it… Interesting ideas. If this is some form of hyper hypnosis… I could probably meditate, self-hypnosis occurs in a lot of mundane activities… If I could get myself that deep into my head… Maybe I could pluck something out? Hell if I was awake enough to drag that statue for him, my eyes were certainly open.

        I sat down on my bed, closed my eyes… put on some headphones, relax… Focus… Focus… My memories on the past few nights. They’re not lost, I was there for them, and I doubt his control over the mind is so complete.

        Deep breaths…

        I… Think I’m beginning to remember…

        Loading the knocked out persons and placing them into the truck. Placing the jewels right there, then walking right back where I was before he drove away. And I just stood there, frozen in place until I ‘woke up.’ Then again, at the mansion… lots of standing around. The third flash he burst out laughing at me, thinking he was teleporting when I was just staring at nothing, frozen. And then finally he had me crack open the glass window, and drag that statue back to his van, heaving it into there, I saw.. Something. I can’t remember what, I barely even paid attention to it, but it looked like a circuit board… What kind of people keep circuit boards in a stone statue?

        And then the third one… I almost slammed down the cane on him, and the first thing he did once I was frozen was scramble away. He brought me to ride on top of the van as we drove away, towards the other side of the prison. Then get his men ready, he handed me a- I opened my eyes… I… Damn it. He handed me a bomb… Calm down Angelica… You screwed up… You screwed up big time there. I’ll… have to sit through this. Just in case he says something, I can’t tell where he’s gonna be based off a circuit board and some jewels.

        Calm down… Deep breaths… Concentrate… Relax…

        He gave me a...bomb. Multiple bombs. And I ran in, placed one on the wall, and burst through. The police were taken by surprise… I always did move fast when I wanted to, and I ended up bursting through wall after wall, explosion after explosion, focused on nothing. And then broke through to his cell. He didn’t know who I was, he didn’t care, he started running with his techno harness, I”m just thankful the guards were too busy trying to figure out what happened had just happened. I don’t want to think of what he… Or I would’ve done had we run into resistance. I ran ahead, I was only told to broke through the walls.

        ...God, even if I didn’t hurt anyone, my reputation’s ruined and I’ve barely been at this for a month. Stop, think about that later, this now. We broke through in and out, the police were going crazy trying to stop us, most were scrambling trying to realize what just happened. He came up, that harness quickly got plugged into by that tech guy I saw the other day, and I just stood there. The harness fell off and he had slammed his fists together. His voice was as gravely as I thought it’d be, not that I was thinking much of anything at the time. And they talked “I thank ya but… Why?” He said, his voice full of suspicion. “Well… I need help with a job, muscle to keep uh… Naysayers out. Pull this off and you’ll be working for one of the biggest up and comers in the underworld.” He tapped him on the back, “I’ll finish up something here.” He told him as they filed in. Before…

        Oh god. He looked back, and… peaked under my mask. He whispered “What’s your name?”

        Nonono

        “Angelica Childe.” “...It doesn’t mean anything but… I’m Robert Hernandez. My family came from south of the border… And I’d like to thank you. I know you’d smash my head… You almost did.” he said, looking me in the eyes, and… He cupped my face. Was this what he thought was being affectionate? I had to keep going through though. Especially if he decides to just blurt out his plans to me. “But… I’m glad I met you. I heard stories, saw the newspapers, you saved that man… And the first time we came face to face, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A real local legend before me. I was almost certain it wasn’t going to work, like… This stupid thing…” he said. Lifting his scepter. “I work with computer technology and psychology… Who am I kidding, I just work software like the rest of them. We were working on something to pacify rioters, I tested bugs and worked the line and… I couldn’t help but wonder if this was what the rest of my life was going to be… I bought video games and tv and art… Anything to you know, take my mind off of the rat race at work. They company doesn’t even allow union workers. And I landed myself in debt, it was my fault maybe but… Push came to shove and I thought back… That tech we’re working on. People were afraid that it might fry someone’s brain but when I tested it out on some thugs trying to mug me, they fell in line, and they woke up fine… Aside from the injuries you gave them of course.” He seemed to chuckle at his little joke.

        ...This guy really has no one does he. He’s spilling his story to me. Not even me, me while I’m basically not even there. May as well be a mannequin. I’d feel bad bad if he weren’t a super villain breaking other villains out of prison using my body to do it. “I started working on it on my own time. For me. No one else. You get that right?” And… Now I’m realizing how I got so far away from where I was as well. He led me on top of the van, giving me back my mask as it-we drove away. And he kept on talking to me. “And you’ve been there to help me every step of the way.” He said, shifting on the van as it drove us away, then looking as if he realized something, he told me “Where’s your father work?” “Oceania Victorum.” And he made a face. Disappointed… “Tell your father, a week from now, to stay home. Even when you wake, keep this order in mind. Whatever it takes for him to not go to work, a week from now. And as for you… I’ll make this up to you. I think we might be great friends. Jump off, make sure you land safely and wake in ten minutes.” I jumped off, stared at nothing, and then that's where my lost memories ended.

        Oceania Victorum, they're gonna hit Oceania Victorum… Which one though? Think… they’re chiefly into oceanic colonization, but they need computers… I got up from my bed and started rooting around my father’s files, another late night at work for him… Just had to put everything back.. taking a look at the maps… tech firms… and the biggest one… I don't know where they are, but I know where they will be. And this time they didn't have reason to think so… Now… Waiting.

        Signature and Avatar by NinjaSushi

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        • #5
          Witch-Hand Issue 14
          (The cover depicts Angelica Childe standing outside her room as Robert steps inside it, their super hero/villain identities showing up as shadows on the hallway, Angelica in particular looks nervous.)

          It went like that, average life, I dropped my patrols to every other day, being branded a criminal does that… I'm winning back people on the small scale, but most just get confused when I do something nice. Maybe I can convince people that an imposter did it if I'm lucky…

          In any case, half a week passed. I was heading home from college, jogging for no particular reason, when I came to the door. Conversation inside, Angie and mom must've been entertaining guests. I open the door and in is a hispanic computer scientist it looked like. Then I heard the name spoken. “So Robert- Angelica!” my old mother broke her conversation to welcome me, but it took me a while to process that. That… That man actually came to my home!? “Come! Sit down!”

          He didn't seem to have that damned scepter on him at least, but that was a cold comfort. Just… don't Doubt freak out, don't act weird. Don't let him know that you know, he thinks you're ignorant, pretend to be that.

          Angie spoke up, utterly oblivious, in hindsight I was glad I didn't tell her, I barely knew if I was gonna keep it together… “Robert says you saved his life. Back in like, June of two years ago.” she said… June, when I was an only child. Yeah, it was giant rats and I ended up herding a bunch of students into the classrooms, even beat back a few rats. 15 minutes of fame for me. In hindsight, that's probably where I began to get the idea of being a superhero. I don't even remember anyone that clearly. “I was a s-student then, you probably don't remember me, I wasn't very remarkable.” He said, scratching the back of his head. “but I always wanted to repay her, so I saved but a bit each month until I could get enough to help you out.” Act normal. “Uh… Thanks but we don't need anything, I was just-” “I insist, y-you should get rewarded for your heroism.” he interrupted. I tried I really tried to get out of accepting his gifts but… it wasn't like the others had any clue. and everything he said roughly lined up. But I swear, I didn't like the idea of him installing anything, especially when I knew just how fast that scepter put me under… They insisted and I couldn't push back forever without raising warning signs. I got a new television out of it, not that I'd turn. I… I like it in theory, but again, the man installing it… I basically kept a hawk eye on him the whole time. Not even for a moment did I take my eye off him, but I couldn't just stare at him, maybe he'd just assume I'm cautious but I didn't want to take the chance that he thought I might know who he is.

          “So…” Just come up with something “You saved up just to get us tvs and a home control system?” I had my doubts if he was even there, let alone saving it. He almost certainly had stolen it. His answer seemed to be pacing himself. Not that it stopped an occasional stutter… He stuttered a lot just as Robert… “Well, they're n-not the best, top of the line or anything and I usually catch theme on a sale, but yeah, I had to save up for them, I only got the control unit recently. Oh, you probably don't know how this works, let me tell you what this does!” I know what it does, my class has been designing buildings and houses with them in mind, this is one of them even. Still he talked away, internal climate control for each house, lights, door operation, sound, television, robots and holointerfaces if we ever get them (as if), more or less automating most of the house. Mother seemed happy at least, but I couldn't help but wonder if this was going to end badly. He said he wanted to make it up to me but that didn't mean I trusted him not to turn this to his own use.

          Still, despite… Everything either worrying me or annoying me, I had keep a smile. “Oh? Really?” Meaningless words to reassure someone I was in fact listening. An occasional comment on the tech. Most of which managed to sail over his head. Construction engineering has been working with this probably more the actual developers. Just coming out, longer he was talking the less I had to make conversation with the one person I wanted to pummel into the dirt. He looks back, I smile like this is pleasant, he interrupts way too much to talk engineering with, what little was even shared between our fields anyway.

          He eventually finished up on my room and got to work on the others, I noticed he didn't take nearly as much time as on Angie’s or the Master Bedroom… I watched him that whole time. I don’t think he did anything odd… and looking at it in comparison… I couldn't be certain what exactly he had done… Soon as he leaves I need to take it apart, better yet throw it out if I can justify it. He finished up quicker, and said goodbye to everyone. I saw him to the door, not out of politeness so much as again, making sure he didn't do anything I didn't see. If anything strange happened I was confident I'd remember.

          As we left, I again saw him outside standing on the steps down to the side walk. “Thank you for doing all that for us.” I said holding out my hand. Take it and go, please just shake my hand and leave. “I should thank you, you inspired me to live.” He said, I'd be flattered were it anyone else but… That’s how we got here in the first place. And then he pulled me in for a hug. No.
          No no no!

          I pushed back when he did that, hard, pushing him against the railing and probably bruising his back. It was automatic, I was far too much on edge already, and this guy is an absolute creep. The problem was I didn't want to give him reason to think I knew all this… and I just slammed him against the railing. Just get the words out, hope he understands. “Ah! Sorry, you surprised me.” That'll work right? Please don't ask more. “Uh.. Yeah.” Did he realize? I hoped not, he wasn’t happy, I could tell the way he gripped the railing. “I'll be fine, you just need to be more gentle in the future.” and he’s telling me I need to be gentler, who brings a woman they barely know in for a hug like that?! At least he didn’t seem to realize that I knew as he left.

          I need to take a shower. Eugh.

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          • #6
            Witch-Hand Issue 15
            (The issue depicts Witch-Hand in the red blindfold, surrounded by a bunch of men she’s fighting with Harver standing behind it all, dominating the top half of the comic while she and the criminals are on the lower half.)


            Today is the day. I told Angie what I recalled afterwords. She'd need to convince father to stay home… He works here even, a managerial position. Take one of his vacation days. I'm sure father will appreciate spending some time with Angie, they hadn't had too many moments together as Angie and he.

            And hopefully it'll work… just in case I ended up zombified by that flash again and their plans went off without a hitch, or worse… Still, now that I was hunted by the police… It was going to be tough to just stand in the open. That’s fine, I just need to hide well… I need to be able to change quickly and quietly… So I wore my costume under my clothes this time. For once I wanted to surprise him. In my superhero costume, hoping no one looks onto the roof of the tech building.

            There was the van, coming up with.. a another van and a mustang. This was the big one… There's Robert coming out, and… He has a mask, classy looking venetian mask. And there’s the scepter… Now or never. I put the blindfold on… And I heard the flash… Two more. Everyone in the park outside the building was probably frozen, but I did survey the area. I have room to fight where they pulled up. “Now everyone, you can call me the Mesmerist, I need you to simply walk away from here, and wake up in about an-” I landed on the van again. At this rate I was going to leave my foot marks in the roof of this card. He turned around and saw me, I held my hat down, “Now come on Mesmy, no one’s entertained with a one trick magician for long!” I smirked at him, not just as an act, I felt I could finally get the drop. “Really Witch-Hand?” He responded, equally in character, and confident. That’ll make it taste sweeter. Just need to keep in mind where his voice was… Listening to his voice aand “Perhaps you can teach me about variety, when we next rendezvous, but I’m afraid I have business, and you need to leave.” I raised my head. I heard the flash. And jumped down after him, I could hear his gasp once he realized I was blindfolded. All worth it to knock him down and beat that scepter away from his-

            Suddenly I was grabbed by two large hands, throwing me a good distance. It was Harver, ole’ stoney face. The one he broke out. I broke out. It didn’t help much there, as I flew, counting my blessings as I landed on the grass, rolling as I went, quickly I went to stood up, I could hear footsteps following me, running as well, thugs, fine. I swung out my cane, connected with someone, swung another just where I heard the voices, kicking. But for every one guy I got, another three hits found their way towards me. I was just trying to keep moving, don’t get surrounded, and listen for the big guy. Just jump far as I can against the big guy.

            I feel like I was doing well considering I couldn’t see… It was some comfort at least, to go with the constant newly acquired bruises. I could hear them laughing even upon seeing how bad I was without my sight. I grappled with one, grabbing him by the leg and swinging him around me as I heard them surround me. That seemed to make a path, I had to take it anyway, running, and leaping, it was quiet on this side at least and…

            Oh. Suddenly I realize why they left that side, it wasn’t the guy I threw. My body was held by Harver, and this time slammed into the hard sidewalk before flinging me out… Then I hit a tree, head first… Damn it… If this keeps up I’ll be too damaged to stop the self appointed hypnotist from walking right over me, let alone actually stopping their crime. My head was ringing, I had to get distance, force myself up, shamble away from where I think they were. I bumped into… Some guy with a laptop. They reacted so it was probably the tech guy. I swung my cane at him, but it connected with nothing, and as my hearing returned, I could hear the tech guy scrambling to get away from me.

            Damn it… If I didn’t do anything they’d get inside, but I could barely even survive right now blindfolded… God… I brought this blindfold just in case I opened my eyes. I’d just see the red of the cloth and nothing would happen, but at this rate…

            I was rammed by Harver this time, pushed all the way to the wall. Damn, that one hurt.

            Long as I just close my eyes the minute I see his face, maybe I could… Maybe? It was better than nothing.

            I did it. I had to. I shambled back to my feet, shook my head… My hand went to the back of my head, pulled on the cloth I had… And the whole thing came out, the sun came shining into my eyes again and I could see. I never realized how much I loved sight until now. And now, with my eyes I saw… Mesmerist’s eyes.
            FLASH

            I stood perfectly still. Eyes looked straight onto him. He learned, I didn’t react. “That blind fold didn’t help you much did it?” “No.” He stepped closer, leaning to one side. I couldn’t see his face very well from there, as I just stared straight ahead. Vacant. “Really, you should know better by now how this is going to happen… I wonder… Perhaps this is intentional?” He said, “It would explain why you keep coming when you know you’ll lose.” He said, brushing my hair with his free hand. “Ah, perhaps we’ll talk later…” He said, eyes almost sparkling at thought. “For now, I need to hack into this stupid company and steal every last bit of data. I won’t need you for this, so…” He said, bringing the scepter to me. “You go run off away from this, you’re a wanted criminal now, you should really just retire it. But… Perhaps the next time we meet I’ll be able to… Speed up the process. Just groundwork for what comes next…” And he tapped me with the scepter. And then I grabbed it.

            I’ll never forget the look on his face as I ripped it away and slammed it on the hard walkway. “If you’re gonna dress like a magician, here’s the first rule of magic! I good magician never does the same trick twice! Audience gets bored after a while.” I said, I didn’t know how I looked at the time admittedly, probably awful, but damn I felt good about that. “H-h-how did you-!?” He said, stammering, repeating himself “How d-did you!?” “I’m magic, and I bet a better magician than you.” They came at me, not realizing just how badly the tables have turned. I could actually block their punches now, the cane blocking some, I even led a few men into each other as we fought. They surrounded me but all they got was fists flying at everyone but me, I could even leap off others and the trees for my attacks. Before long most of the muscle he brought was on the ground, just outside, down and out, three playing cards as I saw the tech guy open up the door. His head slammed straight into his keyboard and the door closed quickly as it had opened. Not that they were in good use. He Harver even came up, and well. I couldn’t possibly do worse than when I was blindfolded. “Huh, I was thinking you were a pushover after all I heard him build up.” “Oh I’m way more than that.” He wants to play, let’s play. The fight was simple now that I could move, he’s strong, and big, but now I could tell and man does he telegraph his attacks. Quiet but he may as well be a punch out bad guy for how many hits he landed on me. Sliding past each like water, I quickly got inside, and behind him, stabbing my cane into his knees, bringing that into a bat swing right at the back of his head. Before long he was starting to head off, trying to get distance, but he wasn’t getting away that easy, a smoke pellet down, right on his feet and it was easy. Hits from all around as I leaped and ran, punches, cane swings, a kick to the groin, or a cane to the face, before long he was down.

            I sighed “Aww well, not everyone’s got the stamina for an act.” And finally there was the Mesmerist. Just running at this point towards the car. A well aimed playing card flew past him, right at the just ajar door, another well placed one broke the handle off entirely, embedding itself in the key hole. That stopped him, and I heard sirens, perfect end to this…

            Or so I thought… Instead of going after him, everyone had their guns trained me on me. “Witch-Hand! Come quietly, put your hands up, you’re under arrest for breaking and entering in a prison, assault, and starting a prison escape!” ...I was a higher priority now… And before I could so much as tell them about the Mesmerist and what he was doing… Everything, they shouted me down “Don’t try to talk your way out of this, I knew you couldn’t trust a Super from day one!”

            They weren’t gonna listen. And I had to watch as the Mesmerist just drove away in that car, scot free… I couldn’t worry about where he was going though, right now… I had to worry about the guys pointed guns at me. Another smoke pellet came down, and the shots rang out. None of them hit me at least but… Damn it, he got away! I felt, as I escaped into the shadows, quickly climbing up the roof, they saw me and sent others after me… Damn it I’d have to be quick. Shirt and pants, just be quickly, fuss up the hair, put the domino mask away, and… Damn it. I just threw myself back to the floor, scraping my arm against the rough ground. As the police came out, I pointed out in some direction, “She pushed me over, I thought I might fall off the damn building!” I told them. They seemed to buy it at least as they went over to look, and started talking on the com about how “We’ve lost Witch-Hand. She assaulted a civilian in the process.” Maybe that wasn’t the best choice of words to say… But at least I’m not in jail for something I wasn’t even conscious for…

            Robert “Mesmerist” Hernandez was still out there though… But at least the damn guy was out a mind control scepter. I doubt he’d be coming back to the crime world any time… I’ll just have to take what I can get.

            Later, once I headed home, my arm was already healing, on the news I could see the headline, Witch-Hand and Mesmerist fight in front of corporation. Huh, I suppose people remembered his name. It was kind of crappy I was a villain now… And I couldn’t depend on the police, I’d need to move faster than before, usually stayed to say hi to people… Now I’d probably need to go faster, unless I wanted a fight with the police. I unlocked my door and inside I could see my family inside, watching the news. Different channel about some guy claiming to be a cave man or angel or some deal. I just sat onto the couch and sank into it, leaning right on Angie. “Morning Angelica, how are you doing?” I heard my father ask me. “Exhausting…” I responded. Not a lie, I still hurt after that… Just had to get to bed and sleep.

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            • #7
              Witch-Hand issue 16
              (Cover depicts Angie in a lab coat, behind her is a brick wall, while in front of her are a vast assortment of scientific experiments.)


              The college semester was over, and for us that meant that we had work to find. Spending money and such, I didn't mind that honestly, it could help.

              I'm Angie. This is my first attempt at a summer job. A lot of choices to pick from… I’m not sure what Angelicae was going to do, that was just fine with me, I honestly preferred not to know too much about Angelica’s life away from us. I already shared most of my life with her, I didn't feel the need to share even more. Really… It was hard, I’m glad they took me in, my parents, but… It’s not as if it weren’t a big shock.

              My friends were no longer my friends. My parents treated me different from… Me a week, a month ago. When we were in the same social situation with anyone who knew about me, they treated me as… An awkward fact. It was hard not to see the difference in treatment. Honestly it was almost refreshing to hear others mistake me for Angelica. But that wasn’t going to cut it… So I disassociated from… Everything. We slept in the same room for a while, that was out, for a while I slept on the couch, then I took over the guest bedroom. The college was willing to make an exception for me regarding college, but I dropped out of that as well. I got a new wardrobe, I started dying my hair. For a while I even started trying out accents from different places… They one didn’t stick with me, but overall I started to… Needed to reinvent myself. I wasn’t just going to be a clone. I wanted to be so different that no one, not Angelica, not father not mother, anyone would mistake me for her, call Angelica the original, anything like that. Forget that I was even a clone if possible.

              I wanted to sort of… Exist on my own. Different college was a must if I was ever going to do it. Or better yet in this case, not at all. Eventually I settled on an idea… Father worked with Oceania Victorum, he probably had a good idea of any entry level positions. And… I did. “Hey Father” I asked him “for jobs, anything at your company I could learn? Or something connected to it?” I said. He seemed surprised when I first asked, I- Angelica never really asked for anything… Because w-she was out being Witch-hand. Well, if she’s too busy on patrols… I’ll do this. Won’t get to wear my usual denim but I can deal with that. “Sure, but what brought this on?” “Well… I should probably do something with my life, sis has college, I’ll try the real world.”

              A list of jobs, most were low level jobs, and mostly at affiliates, different buildings, the ones at the building he worked at were crossed out, it made sense, could hardly work at the same place as my father. This one start up looked interesting, looks like a recent affiliate… “Eejit co.?”

              A Research assistant/secretary position, it didn’t have much in the way of requirements, it was relatively close, near the docks, and it seemed to deal a lot in perception, psychology, technology, medicine… I could do something here. Was a small position, and pretty far away from where Angelica normally worked… I could do something here.

              I showed up for the interview, my hair was still dyed black, but aside from that I dressed rather differently. I wore a simple professional suit, even snatched a pear of old glasses. Maybe it was a bit needless but it couldn’t hurt to look the part. I showed up and… “Robert?” I said, I didn’t expect to see him here. “A-ah, Angie. What a surprise!” He said. “Please have a seat, you wanted to become a research assistant yes? Why do you think you’re best for the job?” Huh.. He spoke different from before, more confident. “I didn’t know you would be here.” I said, before sitting, “I’m probably the smartest person in the whole lot, and I’ve been studying various fields of biology and medicine for a while. I should be able to help with the medicine, I’m sure any question you give I could answer...” The interview was mostly mundane, but it was still surprising. Something must’ve happened recently that he was stuttering so much less. Something good no doubt. He tested me on my knowledge, I excelled. That turned into a trial, which turned into a job, before long I’d become the newest employee of the Eejit Subsidiary for Oceania Victorium. Attended the training seminar as well, where he asked us to call him Bobby at the end. I had to stifle a laugh at this. Bobby? Really?

              It also meant I was going to the docks a lot more often now… It was a lot different from the rest of the coasts. Where most of it was almost pristine and relatively clean, here, the poverty was a lot easier to see. An economic downturn had left a lot of the places here just gone, other docks came but this remained ‘the docks.’ The docks. I came there six days a week, usually more, and helped Mr. Hernandez with the science. A lot of it was using machinery to help a patient’s mental state. We had no shortage of test subjects, a lot of homeless loitered here, and they were willing to sit in a room and talk about sensations for any amount of money, most ended up better for it anyways.

              It wasn’t just those, but also working with animal pheromones, even investigating psionics. The whole thing there seemed pointless, but Hernandez seemed adamant about checking every fallen rock. “One should never pursue only one path” He'd say. At the least, I always had something to do.

              Eventually, I was sent out, field tests, a small glove meant to access the memories rather directly, they render a subject barely conscious and have them cough up any memories they had. It was meant as an alternative to enhanced interrogation, with a much higher success rate hopefully. People generally need to be awake to resist, this one basically lets you walk down memory lane with them, no pain needed.

              The glove was a bit bulky though, a thick thing with metal on the palm, and have metal rings with glass inside them… I wonder how many might think I'm a super villain if I just walked around with it. Probably a bit better if I just kept that into my pocket until I used it. I've tested in on coworkers already, usually having them regurgitate some memory they had this morning. I learned far too much about people’s morning rituals, but I've also found no side effects on the subjects.

              Now field testing. Criminals won’t be too happy to have someone rummaging around in their memories, so… This needs to be unsuspecting. Another reason I basically do this on my own, Robert’s lately given me a lot more trust and responsibility than most of the scientists. Despite having an assistant’s pay I've probably done more work than anyone else. Anyways, I simply walked around in my street clothes, a coat for the cold (and to hold the glove).

              It was simple, find a guy, usually a beggar, sit by him use the glove, ask him about a memory, anything really, they talk, and I remove the glove. They're often none the wiser, and I hand the some money for their troubles. Eventually though… I came to a different one than usual. Did the same thing I always did with the glove, but I asked him “what happened on Wednesday?” The answer was… “I was sitting here, when some folk came through in armor or something. They headed straight to the warehouse over at the haunted pier. I didn't want nothing to do with it so I headed here and started begging over here.” He said. I took the glove off of him. Armor? Who wears armor?

              Well… I got curious and headed over to the warehouse. The pier was devoid of anyone. Only the waves for company… I got near the warehouse, big one. I could hear work inside… And I think the rattle of guns… It wasn’t quiet or subtle, but no one was around to tell… And if I got caught I was probably on my own.

              Well, I’m pretty hard to kill myself. Is the door going to open… No, alright… It was connected to the ocean, so I edged myself over, on the thin ledge, tabbing hold of the corners and using them to get inside. Looking inside from the out and… A lot of men, moving a lot of materials, with a lot of high caliber guns. Why? Deeper inside, I could see… A few men escorting a giant sloth.

              Those things have been extinct for a long time, why is it here? I didn’t know honestly, but now I had to find out… Yeah, I’m putting the glove on. It works quick enough, I could probably just hold it to someone and stun them. Shuffling in quietly as I could, I took a corner… There was a man there, docker worker with just a hat… I held the glove to him, and quickly asked “Where are the uniforms?” After getting told where, I quickly let him go, he was none the wiser he just got stopped and interrogated. I climbed to the top shelves, figure less people would spot me that way. Moving across, I eventually came across the uniforms, some idiot left their locker open… Well, considering what was going on here, I didn’t much feel bad. Stole it, got inside. Glove was stuck inside a cart.

              And going in further, no one paying attention to me, just a worker, but deeper I headed in… Heard more animal sounds. Machinery. Computers. Stuff like that. Going in deeper… I saw a line of men heading inside, escorted by mean, quickly I showed up behind them. Put inside to clean rooms and… This was not good, looking inside. A mess of torn off fur and blood, I could hear more, analysis roars, occasionally a gunshot. Keep my head down… A few got nervous and scared, ready to bolt until they saw the barrel of a gun pointed straight at them.

              It was quiet throughout most of this, aside from the occasional squawk, squeal, or roar. Some cleaners trying to calm themselves down with chants, prayers, deep breaths, etc. For my part, I kept stealing glances at the guards. They did not look normal, they had armor, just like the man had stated. Looked high tech, powered even… Looked like any one of them could probably overpower me…

              Couldn’t do anything yet, just keep the glove in my pants… I’ll need another approach… Four of them standing over us, can’t exactly just grab one and start asking. One thing was for certain, none of the cleaners had any idea this was happening… Looking at the guns as well, that was quite a large caliber, it was clearly meant for the beasts here, not that it made it any less intimidating for the rest… This wasn’t just some gang, a bit shot was calling the shots here. A dangerous organization with access to advanced technology. Eventually we were finished, being shuffled to room after room, more blood and fur and skin and scales, I pocketed what samples I could when they weren’t looking, figure out what they were at a lab. Eventually we were finished and told to collect our things, and for now I did as so, lagging towards the back again… We went through a hallway… Wait, the ceiling was low here, for the most part, aside from the containment units they just didn’t bother with ceilings.

              I looked closely at this panels and… No this was familiar, this was… I couldn’t be certain but… Was that our tech? There was a nonoperative replica, as a riot control device, if it... I wasn’t going to take a chance, I shut my eyes as hard as I could. FLASH I heard. “You will go to your locker, you will retrieve your belongings, you will forget your day here. Your day here was normal. You will return back here as your work schedule dictates.”

              That is our tech, or something like it. Play along with the rest. Get out of there… I just… Looking out, they seemed to be also requiring those going to show their ID… I’m not getting out that way. I simply changed for now, and put on the glove again… Maybe I can just get out the way I got in. I climbed up again, and traveled among the stacks of boxes… Just go back the way I camem, hopefully they won’t know any better.

              I tripped. Stupid. My foot slid and slammed against the metal, not too hard but it made a sound. And one of the guards casually looked up, I couldn’t scramble away in time. And I swore it felt like an eternity as we both processed what just happened. “INTRUDER!” He said, and I jumped as he shot after me, the shelves were all enough and packed enough that it’d take way too long for him to scale it, but I had to be quick. I turned the corner, another guard, but I was quick enough to get the glove to their face, it worked, and I just threw them to the floor, they’d be pretty confused on how they wound up there so quickly.

              Run. You hear gunshots, you run. Run. I could see the waters out there, they fired on me, one shot grazing my face, lucky me I guess. I continued to run, and there it was, the waves, they were starting to come in stronger, splashing onto the flooring, hopefully that meant they’d come out stronger as well. Just as well.

              Just take a leap, another shot, this time right in the back, and I let out a cry as I fell into it. It hurt to say the least, feeling of blood rushing out… I think they got my heart as well, and I was drifting away, in the waves and consciousness. Just keep awake, start swimming. At the least, they probably thought I was dead. Just swim… Swim. Swim. Eventually I washed up on the coast.

              This… Was a lot more excitement than I’ve had in awhile. I check myself… My wound was beginning to heal and… Damn it, I could almost feel the bullet getting pushed out slowly. I was still leaking blood. For now I just… Lay here. I saw a block of wood, small but large enough and placed on my stomach, I'd need it in a bit. For the most part, healing is just waiting, I don't even need to dig the bullet out, just make sure i didn't bleed on my coat. The bullet was almost out, I reached back behind and pulled it out, leaving it on the side of the beach. Good, now here’s what I brought the wood for. I didn't want to smash down on my teeth if I could help it. And then… Just wait. Keep the screams to a minimum, try not to roll around too much in the sand.

              Oh god there it is, the nerves reconnecting. I tried to stifle my scream of pain, it’s been a while since I’ve taken injury, I wasn’t used to it, even then a bullet wound healing was still hell even then. Now I couldn’t even stop my body from convulsing, my back arching above the sand, by the time it was finished, sand was all over me, and red dotted the line…

              I suppose on my job side, the glove worked. Just… Watch the sun begin to set.I did take one look at my hair… Damn it, I could already see the dye washing off… Hell. I guess I’ll have to tell him like… A wave washed onto me or something. Sure, that’ll work. And the hole in my back.. A ruined jacket? I guess it’ll-

              ...Wait. Why the hell am I thinking about how to explain away all this!?

              Yeah no, that’s stupid. Just tell him what happened, leave out bringing the glove but everything else is perfectly fine. I just walked straight back, I’m not a superhero I don’t need to keep any of this secret. I’ll just tell him.

              I did exactly that, I just walked back to the lab, I dried the glove off first, that’s the only part I wanted to fabricate. Didn’t want to lose my job here or anything… Alright, it’s clean, and I’m… Fine mostly, not dripping at any rate. I simply walked back in, had the door scan my card and walk up to Mr. Robert. He turned around and his eyes for a sec looked like they were about to bulge out his face… Wait did I have something on me? “A-Angelica?” Oh. “Angie.” I said, maybe a bit more ice in my statement than I thought, given how he flinched. “I-I’m sorry. But your uh…” “I took a dip in the ocean. Anyways, I need to talk to you about something. The glove works perfectly, all the subjects did fine, but… One told me something strange, about armored guards moving into a warehouse. I took a look inside, there’s something going on, giant animals, I gathered some samples” I laid them out on the table, “And… Remember the anti-riot flash? They have it, and I think they have ours.” I said, looking him straight in the eyes. “We have to do something about this” I said, as I went to the phone, before he raised his hands and said “W-wait!” He said, “Th-they have a lot of money don’t they? If they have our tech, and a-armor like that… They have the police in their pock-ckets.” I stopped there and… The docks have never exactly been a bastion of law and order, I couldn't deny that. All the destitute people out there.

              “...Someone here is selling to them, we just need to find out who.” “I’ll figure that out.” He said, putting a hand on my shoulder, and taking the phone out of my hands. “You need to get home, that couldn’t have b-been pleasant.” I had to sigh. “I just need to do one more thing, then I’ll be out.” I said, I had to study the samples I got… Megatherium… Quetzalcoatlus, Inostrancevia, Postosuchus, Cynognathus, Tetrapodophis… All which have been dead for millennia… Why are they bringing them back? Who’s funding them, why do they have our technology? And who in this company is selling to them…?

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              • #8
                Witch-Hand issue 17
                (The cover portrays Angie wearing black jeans and clothing, sneaking by a guard patrol, in the back we see various prehistoric animals in cages and rooms, being corralled by other guards.)


                Work continued as usual, Robert gave me assignments and I did them, the biggest difference was the atmosphere, most were surprised that I wanted to keep working after ‘almost’ getting shot (I didn't show them my blood soaked shirt, it's just easier to not explain, especially now that I'm more suspicious of them than ever, I also took care to only tell Robert about our tech).

                As I did my work with the “mood lights” as we called them (meant to help calm prisoners, fitting considered we had a large prison riot recently), I also made sure to keep a lost in my head. I'll need to narrow it done from there, but simply who has the physical capacity to sell either the materials in large enough amounts for a memory wipe chamber, or the knowledge to sell the how.
                • Robert Hernandez, my boss. I'm his primary assistant and I think I'd have noticed something if it were him doing it.
                • Me. I obviously didn't do it.
                • Mei Smith, she was in charge of inventory, if she were doing this, I'll be able to figure out soon enough, it's easy to compare price of materials compared to our inventory of materials and completed devices
                • Psychologist Brian McDonnell, he dealt a lot of fields, but he's been invaluable and with us every step of the way on developing the Riot Control Light. He's not directly versed in the specs, but if he could learn and relay it.
                • Computer engineer Heidrich Weber, he works on most of the behind the scenes programs, the RCL only had one program, but he still worked on it.
                • Hardware Engineer Stephenie Davis she developed the latest RCL, materials for the hardware were suggested by her.
                Those were the people who would have access to the whole thing, anyone else just had bits and pieces. Mei was easy to cross off, just check our materials. Nothing seemed off compared to what we purchased. That left our three selling the blueprints to them. Who though? They could have given this anywhere… I can't just take a look at their income, and they've got no reason to keep a record once the transaction goes through.

                … Back to the warehouse then. They might have a log of their dealings with the culprit. If not that, then I'd find where that information would be, the warehouse had no logo on the outside, but perhaps I could find something else, an address on one of the computers. Probably shouldn’t just wear my lab assistant wear, something different. I took darker clothes this time, I wasn’t brightly colored per say, but it didn’t exactly fade in with the shadows. These clothes on the other hand were almost entirely black, black long sleeved shirt, black jeans, and a balaclava.

                Going towards it and… still no one outside, though I could hear them inside. I took a peek out to the side of the ocean… That’s closed… How do I get in then? If I just open a door… I’ll probably be staring at a guard. Better to avoid that them. Get in another way. There are windows, I could climb in if it went for the glass… Climb over the top maybe? I did so, there didn't seem to be any way in from the top either. Where are… There has to be something. Some way in, but as I looked, I found nothing… I felt stupid standing here in a balaclava, and left, taking off the mask later.

                That didn't mean I gave up mind, but if there was a way in it wasn't that, I needed to think, get a new perspective. Away from the haunted pier… I did begin to notice something. A big truck going up, recruiting people, like how I did, go to the destitute people, ask them to do a thing, bring them to the lab, before driving away. The uniform of the driver also seemed familiar… I did walk over to one of the homeless still left. "What’s all that about?” The man looked at me. Old dark skinned man with squinty eyes and a white beard. Covered up for the winter with a bowl near him. “You don’t want nothing of that. The ones that go there don’t come back. No one cares 'bout us on this poor side though. Nothing's done, just... Stay away from those people. You seem healthy, I'm sure you have money, no need to do something stupid. Trust me, I've survived on less." I appreciated what he was saying here, but I had to find out what was going inside. “...Where do they take them?” He gave me a look, he already knew what I was trying to do. “What’s your name?” “Angie.” “Angie, this place ain’t for you, I can see it on your face ‘n clothes. No one comes here for work or bad ****, you don’t look like either.” I sat down near him, leaning against the wall. “They are doing something bad, and I need a way inside, it looks like the best way to sneak inside at any rate.” Then he started staring at me. “You’re going to get yourself killed, and your parents and family and friends won’t know even know what happened.” “I can take care of myself” I responded getting up. Again, I appreciate him caring for a stranger but, I wasn’t exactly defenseless. “What’s your name?” I asked him “Jeffrey.” He said. “See ya around.” I said before walking away.

                He was right about one thing. I didn’t look like a poor person here… Probably needed to do something about it… Something low effort preferably… Saw someone selling white T-shirts. That’ll work, walked over, bought one for a dollar, bought denim shorts for four. Changing clothes a lot lately I couldn’t help but think as I looked at my shirt and jeans just left there. Alright, just boring T-shirt… Fuss up my hair a bit, then press it down… Maybe that’d hide all the dye work I do for it…

                Alright… Now… Just look for a crowd, eventually I found one, just sat down… And waited.

                And waited.

                ...Don’t play with your phone Angie, if they come round the corner and see you, they might be less likely to pick you... Looking at my arms, it was just a T-shirt… Anyone can see I have muscles now. I hope that doesn’t convince them not to… Eventually a truck came, stopping by the road, before having a man come and talk to a group. I got close, and heard the payment. “All you gotta do is hop in the wagon and we’ll take you, good money, two thousand just for the first tial!”

                Wow. That is a lot of money. I walked right up and hopped into the truck. I don’t think anyone clearly saw my face, and I wore a jacket covering my figure before, I’m basically fine. We drove over there, mostly in silence, occasional small talk. Eventually though we reached it. That same warehouse… We got herded inside through the entrance, looking at the guards, careful not to look them in the eye. I said I doubted they’d recognize me but… You take any chance you get to lessen the likelihood of being found out.

                We got herded into various rooms… I recognize these rooms… Oh jeeze… We’re gonna have to fight one of those things aren’t they? They’re making weapons and testing them on us or something sick like that. It’d explain the blood at any rate. Then I heard vents turning on. And… What is that in the room. The guard locked the door. And the gas… I held my breath for this. The others though… What in the… One already collapsed to the floor and was groaning.. Those groans turned more and more hoarse until… They barely seemed human, and scales began to appear on his skin, his body and bones began to shift, as he grew, the clothes ripping off. I saw others taking off their shirts because it felt tight on them, only to reveal it and… Hold your breath. Just… Hold your breath.

                Stay away and hold your breath. One of the guards must’ve noticed though, my eyes were stuck on the horror before me, people being… Mutated into postosuchus before my eyes. The next moment I had hit in the back of the head with what felt like the butt of a rifle, I feel to the ground, and…

                Damn it, he was already leaving and I breathed it in… God… Now I could feel it already. My skin grow itchier, the room smaller and… Something happening to my jaw, my sight seemed to… Morph? I couldn’t describe it, and it was getting harder and harder to stay calm, the lights turning red and… I felt angry.

                Think
                No think
                Think
                Look
                Others.
                They here.
                They close.
                Close enough to bite
                Close enough to be bitten.
                They in territory.
                They too close.
                Must drive off. Must scare off.
                Roar. Claw. Bite. EAT.
                CLAW BITE RIP
                Blue light
                Calm
                Why fighting?
                Lay down
                Sit
                Rest

                Door open
                Follow
                We follow
                Follow in rows
                Am front
                Am following
                Follow.

                cages.
                Sounds.
                No sounds matter.
                Follow.
                Bars around. Small. move-
                No move
                Only rest. Am sleepy.

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                • #9
                  Witch-Hand issue 18
                  (The cover shows Angie within a cage, surrounding by other cages if trapped prehistoric animals.)

                  I woke up. What the hell was that dream… I’m more worried than I thought if I…
                  I look up, I feel cold, and I realize… “What…” A cacophony of sounds, beasts roaring, some trying to break out. That really happened. The people being taken here… Are turned into them. I look across and I see… Depending on the row, they seemed different. Some were animals, others looked more like… A mixture of the two.

                  And this many… What are they trying to some kind of Jurassic Park!? And I looked at my own hands… What happened? I was also turned into them right? Why am I human? Even my hair is back… I know that I turned into one… The time as one was… Unpleasant. And I heard someone coming… No way to hide that something was awry, but… The bares looked just big enough for me to squeeze through. I did so, I didn’t want to be there when the guard came. I just hide behind the other animals, quietly as I can tiptoeing through. I needed to figure out what the hell happened… On multiple levels… At the least, I suppose they’ll be looking for a big lizard. Not me. Just get around, quietly… Quickly… It looked like the guards here were there just in case an animal escaped…

                  Sneak behind, be quick. They’re in powered armor, I’ll need to get the drop on them… And, sneaking around a giant sloth that was very unhappy with their situation… The guard was ignoring it, focusing on mine. “What in the… How did” Before he could call it in however, I just hammered his throat from behind, took off the helmet, and choked him until he stopped moving. Then I dragged him behind the cages.

                  Another change of clothes. This is becoming a habit. In any case, I was in a guard uniform at least. No face, the mask covered that up. Good, maybe I can blend in enough if I just act like I’m where I’m supposed to be. He can stay there in his underwear. I just need to be fast, I don't’ know when he’ll be discovered, but I didn’t want to be around when he was.

                  Just walk around, wave to the guard, carry the big gun. Look for something. A computer, anything. I did eventually find one, going up a few stairs, eventually I saw a few computers, nothing too big, laptops and such. Not great but they probably belonged to the criminal enterprise here, and not individual methods.

                  Look behind me, close the door, and take a look. Password protected… Do I look around for a password… Why would they have that...

                  I just typed in something random, honestly it was a sarcastic joke at myself for briefly thinking it’d work.

                  Username: Admin
                  Password: P@ssword

                  ...I’m in.

                  Okay then.

                  I sat there a moment, not quite sure what to do, before just, going forward. Gloves off, time to read.

                  ...My phone’s somewhere else I just realized. Probably crushed by… Everything. Damn it, I had a lot of stuff in there too… The files here better lead me somewhere…sus

                  Ok, we have manifestos… Many from… Our company. Not someone there. Our company. Is our tech being sold officially? Or whoever is is pretending it is at any rate… I didn’t much like either case, especially since I was still without a name.

                  Maybe I can find something else… Files on the experiments, how long had this been going on… Wow… Months. Bringing various people, giving the drug, turning them into… Those. Then using mood lights to control them, make them follow… Why though? Plans? Going through the files, I really wish I had my phone, could just hook it up… For now, I had just my memory. And I needed to read all this.

                  Maps of the docks, registries of local politicians with payments allocated to them. And a shipping manifest, out to various buildings… Many along the coast, some not too far away from Scarlet street even. Even more by national parks, edges of the city… What were they trying to do? Whatever it was, it looked bad.

                  The door opened, and I quickly stood up, putting the gloves back on, taking the weapon in one hand. An old man walked in, alone. I say old, but he was in remarkably good shape, his skin was pale as snow, but eyes had a piercing quality to them. He looked at me, then the computer. “New here, are you?” Shit. Play along “Got in recently, how’d you know?” Then his face changed, brow furrowing. “We haven’t hired new guards… But you sound familiar.” I started sweating there. What the hell? I sure as heck didn’t recognize him, did Angelica meet him or something? “You must be mistaken.” “Is that so?” He said, peeking at the computer screen again, with the files and such. “If you take off your helmet, I can tell you who has been selling us the materials needed. We have multiple buyers, but there is one in particular I think you’re interested in.”

                  ...What? “Do it.” He continued “Or I may have to have the guards remove it for you. I’m sure the man you stole them from must miss it.” I stood silent. Who the hell is this guy, why is he speaking to me so casually?. He walked over closer, his hands were slow, somewhat shaky. I didn’t stop him. Suspicious as I was, there wasn’t anything he could do to me that I didn’t allow. “You’d know him as Robert Hernandez. He’s been selling certain devices to us. To make the staff forget, and control the animals.” He said, as they pressed against the helmet covering my face. “But enough about him…” I didn’t want to just end it there. Hernandez? Why’d he be selling it? He could make a killing selling it to prisons, why give it to criminals? What proof was there even? But… In just a moment, those questions would be the furthest thing from my mind.

                  “You may be wondering who I am.” He said, beginning to press the seal on it. “I have many names by many people. But you can call me…” He lifted the mask, my hair fell, and I could do naught but stare. “Father.”

                  ...What? “Father?” I asked, in bewilderment more than anything. He nodded. “Yes. You should have a change of clothes, it would hardly do for you to walk with me, looking like a simple guard.”

                  ...What? At that moment a few guards came in, before they could march towards me and start asking questions, he shooed them away… Whoever he was he was clearly in charge. He did finally call to them “Bring this woman some sensible clothing!” before turning back to me. “I'm sorry, but we can't have you looking like a spaceman on our walk.”

                  I just took it at this point. I was found out and for no reason I could fathom, given free reign. But… If he were so convinced he knew me… I walked over, a white shirt with a black hoodie, black sneakers and brown pants. Normal. “What is this? Why? And how do you know it's Hernandez?” I didn't trust him one bit, but any information was helpful. He seemed to like me enough to talk to me normally despite sneaking in here. “He came to us, and has for a while now, it's greatly expedited the process, when we have more control over the subjects. And this I say… Is the future.” He motioned towards it, as we walked. I could see the guards, none doing anything but all of them staring at me. As we walked on a bridge towards his room, I saw one in particular who flinched upon seeing me. “Apologize to him my dear, you did knock him out after all.” ...This whole thing was surreal, I got shot just for being seen, and as a test subject I was turned into a monster and now I'm...Being told to say sorry like this whole thing was a day at school. Nevertheless, I doubt either of us wanted to be here, so I just apologized “I'm sorry I attacked you.” I said to him. An awkward moment followed, the guard simply continued on his way, staying on the far side of the walkway. “Come, I have more to show you.” He said, squeezing my hand like I was a child.

                  “I've kept tabs on you, I could never meet with you in person, too busy on various projects, but I never stopped watching. I'm so sorry what was done to you.” He said, holding my hand, taking me to this room. It was like most ot the others, metallic with little in the way of personalization. I saw the desk he had here, he let go of my hand, motioned me over to a chair. I sat in it, this whole thing… It felt ridiculous, and I hadn't stopped expecting something to fly out and attack me. Out of the desk he pulled a large book out. The book had a lot of irregular pages, some looked incredibly old. He flipped through many of them, old cursive writings.

                  He looked my in the eyes, with the white iris that almost seemed the same as has his scalera. I had a better look at him too with the lights on, his hair was an ashen black, as were his lips, his skin had a great deal of natural makeup but I could make out a tinge of yellow beneath, what little I could see of his chest was almost yellow, and I swore I could see something underneath. Everything about his body fit perfectly, though I could not help but feel something was ever so slightly off. It made me uncomfortable that I could not place it.

                  I must've been staring for a while, because he spoke up “dear.” My eyes refocused into his eyes. “You seem concerned.” … What do I say now? “I…” This was where the fight begins isn't it? “My countenance is horrific, isn't it?” he chuckled. “No! Not at all just… Different.” I told him. “I want you to read this. Much as you can, especially the end.” He said. “I have work to attend to, when I am back, I'll give you what you want.”

                  He left again… I wasn’t going to read the whole thing here, I just flipped through it, scanning for anything particularly important. Then I went around the desk and started looking around for what he didn’t want me to-



                  I was going to. Then I saw a post-it note, alongside an old looking page. It read

                  If you read nothing else, this is important. This will explain everything.

                  I took a look, a brief scan, needed since there was just… So much.

                  Built out of spare parts and left by a scientist named Victor, he was alone in the world. He did know why he existed. Only that he had no place and his father had abandoned him. Everyone hated him for his freakish looks, translucent skin and unnatural eyes. They hunted him. Hurt him. He grew to hate humanity for what they had done to him. For how they rejected him. He asked Victor to create a companion for him, and in spite he destroyed it just before it’s completion… And in a fit of rage he had killed Victor’s wife. Seeing what he had done, he fled, departed for the arctic, and realizing just how terrible he was, especially upon seeing Victor chase him all the way out here… He threw himself into the sea. He lived, washed up in a snow land (probably Canada), and headed out west. Away from civilization. There he had met the Beothuk, the last of their people. And they had welcomed him, seeing through his exterior when the Europeans could not. That didn’t last, and the Canadians came in, and the people rebelled. They lost, he survived, and he left. He’d lived a hard life to say the least. Then I saw a letter from… My dad?


                  Dear Mr. Adam.
                  Thank you for taking my request. My wife and I had been trying desperately to have a child with no success. And you helped greatly here, we can’t repay you enough for what you have done. My wife has given birth to a beautiful baby girl, and we couldn’t be happier. Whatever flavor you want, you may ask me. I can only hope that you able to help more infertile couples with having children.
                  Ever in your debt,
                  Harold Childe


                  That… Was the letter. It was undeniable looking at it. I honestly had trouble believing it… He… I couldn’t get this out of my head. I kept on reading. Other letters, informing him about Angelica’s walking. Our… Her words, her development. Her life. Then eventually coming to the clone… To me.

                  I had to read this. I needed to read this. More than anything else in my life. My eyes stayed stuck as I read the first letter. Obviously bewilderment. Worry. Even anger and an accusation that he did this on purpose. Later letters were more understanding, apologizing for this, asking who could have done this and why they would clone their child, and when this would end and things return to normal…

                  Yeah, I always thought that was an underlying thought. It still hurt seeing it confirmed.An imposter. How long did they keep this impression of me? I… Didn’t want to think too much about it. Just turn the page. Notes, they started pretty elementary, labeling the body parts, the functions, the makeup of DNA. It quickly went from there, detailing the samples of Harold and Miriam Childe. Their DNA. Taking bits and pieces, combining them… I kept turning pages, looking at all I could, eventually though, it gave way, instead taking a bunch of various clips of the ecological damage humanity does. No more about her. Or me.

                  The door opened, and I’m taken back to reality. Damn it… I got too stuck on this. I’ve basically learned nothing about the backyard. Got swept up in… Personal things. I quickly stood up looking at him. “I see you’ve been reading what I left for you, my daughter.” He said, looking me straight in the eyes.

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                  • #10
                    Witch-Hand issue 19
                    (It shows a mirror, on the left side is Angie, and on the right side is Angelica, or perhaps Angie if she took off her dye. They look confused, with the left hand stretching out at the mirror.)


                    Looking back and forth… Reading this, hearing it stated… That Angelica was born from this man’s science? Why? And as for me… Reading it, as I read further about the birth I’d have hoped that perhaps I’d gain some insight into me, but it seems like I came out of the blue to my family as well, even in letters, never told. He laid a hand on my shoulder. “It’s clear you were called towards your origin. You read that I take it, it’s a collection of all my writings. All my recollections, philosophy, research. News that I felt was relevant. Take it with you when you leave.” He motioned me over. I walked over… And in the distance I heard them again.

                    The cries of the Postosuchus. Other beasts over there. “...” words caught in my throat. “Father.” I said. It was strange to say something like that. “Yes?” “You said you’d give me what I want.” “Yes, the truth.” He said, “I’m sure you noticed that neither of us knew who you were. The truth is… I do not know how you came to be, but I do know where you came from.” What? He…

                    Again, in the distance I could hear the cries of the animals, the monsters. The humans turned into them. “No, before that. When you said what i wanted. Was that anything?” “...More or less, but is that not what you want? Is that not what you wonder about? What you fear? You fear simply being a clone. A copy.” I couldn’t say anything. “Surely you want that more than any simple deed. Because you are special.”

                    I couldn’t just put this off. “Those creatures. You had them mutated.” I said. His brow furrowed at that, and his white eyes looked at me more critically. “Those people don’t deserve that. They need to be turned back.” “...Mutated from people?” “The empty cage. That was me, I went in as a test subject, I got turned into one of those, I experienced it, I ended up in the cave, I slept and woke up back like this. I don’t know what happened or why, but surely with this we can turn them back.” I said, before emotionally saying to him, pleading “Please! They’re humans, they deserve human rights!”

                    I knew where this was going. “...I see.” He had a heavy sigh. “I saw the page you were at. Tell me.” He walked over to the book, holding it open. “Humanity has been on this planet for millenia. What have they accomplished? Humanity oppressed the weaker humans, they’ve feared those different from them, they’ve spread throughout the globe. You know it as well as I, the world is on a course towards global annihilation. and proven itself a parasite upon our Earth. The superiors create resentment in the outcasts and the outcasts soon learn to hate as well, and when they take over they prove as bad, just as wretched. How can you say that these people deserve to be more than animals, simply because they are human? Humanity is wretched, turning them to beasts is a mercy. No, humanity must change.” Stepping closer, standing straighter, I began to notice just how tall he was, staring down at me. I felt small. “I’ve been working with cloning, human biology, to create the new-human. A new humanity which will move beyond the mistakes of the old. Left as the singular species on the Earth, they will be able to learn from humanity’s records, but learn from their mistakes, and my wisdom. Now… My daughter, you call yourself Angie, but you have a different name. I made two embryos. The first became who you know as Angelica. The second… Is you. Eve. The first of new humanity. Unfortunately you were given memories not your own, shoved into a peg hole, a copy, but you are so much more and can become so much greater.” He took a step forward, I took one back. “You are the genesis for the new human, compare yourself to your colleagues, do you truly believe yourself equal to them? Do you truly see yourself as a copy? You are not- she is a copy of you. A pale imitation of you.”

                    Eve. My name isn't a placeholder. It's Eve. I sank to the floor. Eve, filled with memories not her own, sent there. I don't know why that was done to me, but I know I'm not an accident. A copy. I'm Eve. Tears well up in my eye, as I looked at him a smile breaking through despite myself. I wasn’t a copy. I was better, more important.

                    Because I was going to replace humanity. A self-destructive humanity, but still humanity. A people including my parents who took me in, Jeffery, who tried to keep me away from danger despite not knowing me. My sister even welcomed me in eventually, even before she knew which of us was real.

                    I had to look down, the tears kept falling. “Come Eve. A new world awaits us.” I had to calm down. “I can't let you do that.” I said, standing up. I wiped the tears out of my eyes. “Eve, do not rebel. The world must be remade.” “Not like this. You're just going to repeat the same failings.” Something about the way he narrowed his eyes when I said that. The look in them. “I know their failings better than any human on the planet. They must all be wiped away, and recast. If you cannot help, then stay out of my way, all of humanity must die.” “Even the innocent? Even the children?” “Nits make lice.”

                    I stood there, stunned. He had been so kind in his book and treatment of me. And here I am looking at him. “...How much of that book was even true, you're no savior. You’re a monster.” that got under his skin. The way he looked at me, I'm surprised I wasn't obliterated with a laser. “You're too attached to think clearly.” He simply responded. An impasse. The air was tense, he blocked the doorway. “Let me through.” I demanded. He didn't budge “You’re planning to stand against me.” He responded. Fine, then I'll force my way through.

                    “Hiy-” I called it, planning for a simple punch to the jaw, before I found myself flying towards the wall inside, hitting it with a large bang. A groan escaped my lips. What kind of strength and speed was that? I stumbled up to my feet, I didn't have time to lay there in pain. I needed to get out. He came closer, intent on beating me until I lost consciousness.

                    We’ll see about that… I looked around, my eyes darting about the room, something to use… His desk, a bookcase… maybe I could accomplish something like that. I couldn't afford to attack though, I didn't even see his punch the first time. I tried to keep my distance, back up, go forward, back up against the desk, jump up on it. Then I quickly jump back, I grab the bookcase with one hand while my foot kicks back hard on a few books, forcing it forward. I just as quickly let go once it's falling on him, one hand goes to grab the book case, he catches it rather easily, but I'm able to jump past his arm, the one holding the bookcase while his other attempts to grab my leg. I was quick and fast though, he only grabbed my shoe, and I managed to slip my foot out before he could pull me back.

                    I land and quickly run off, nevermind the shoe, it'll be hard enough just living. I looked back at him and saw the entire bookcase flying in my direction. I couldn't get out of the way quickly enough, it hit my spine. I screamed “GAAAAAAAGH” as I felt it crash onto my back. I felt something break, and fell to the bridge, my legs weren’t responding to me. The book case was stuck in the doorway, not for long though, and the guards were coming. I had to crawl with my two arms, no time for pain.

                    I dragged myself to the edge… I managed to come back from becoming a lizard, I can come back from this. I threw myself over, hard as I could, with no abandon for my body now. Just don’t hit my head, and keep one of my arms. I hit the floor, one shoulder shattering, no use for stifling pain now, “AAAH!” I cried out, looking at the guard, he was leading another batch of subjects, with that calming blue light. I remember it pretty well. Seeing a rock by me, I threw it, quick as I could. I still had one good arm thankfully, and it hit his wrist and sent the light clattering to the floor, shattering. The saber toothed tigers weren't happy. Snarling and growling they get aggressive, attacking the guard, he was safe in his suit, long as he managed to make sure they didn't get his neck, but the noise and his screams would bring others with a blue light. I dragged myself with my one good arm under one of the various shelves. Just keep moving. Keep moving.

                    Oh god… My spine. I could feel them reconnecting. That meant my nerves were reconnecting as well, god that hurt. I couldn't stop myself this time i put my arm against my mouth, and screamed into it. Trying to muffle the sound. Thankfully there was enough shouting and yelling that my muffled scream didn't sound out of place. And at the end I had my legs back. Still a broken arm. Keep moving. From my view down here it seemed most guards were back where the tigers were, their feet anyway. I crawled out from under and started running, holding my useless arm with my other one.

                    The doorway to the ocean was still blocked, fine, I’ll need to break out a door then. Turn the corner, I could hear Father bellowing to catch the woman. Running quickly as I could, no regarding for stopping, I slammed straight into the guard. I came in so fast he didn’t have time to even point his weapon at me, and instead he hit the wall, his gun flying away. I kicked open the door, and just ran.

                    Run.
                    Run.
                    Run.
                    Run.

                    Keep on running.

                    Do not stop running. Even if your lungs feel like they’re about to burst.

                    Turn, keep running.

                    Eventually my lungs did burst (they felt like they did), and I was about to collapse. My breathing was hoarse, I didn’t even know where I was.

                    My chest burned. Just… Oh god, now it felt like my throat was going to collapse in on itself. I felt like I was going to collapse. Looking at my feet, just trying to catch my breath at first, I had an idea. Loosen those laces. Run a bit and kick them a bit. It’ll look like I was running in that direction and my shoe simply came undone. Hell I probably would have done that. Then… Oh god this is hitting my throat, I feel like I can’t breath despite taking in as much as I can. It feels like suffocation even as I feel the air come into my lungs. I just go… By the Garbage truck… And… Crawl underneath…

                    It’s night time. I feel tired…. God… Everyone’s going to be worried sick…

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                    • #11
                      Witch-Hand issue 20
                      (The cover portrays Witch-Hand, hanging off the side of a building, taking a selfie, through the camera lens of her phone.)

                      I sat there writing my final college paper, nothing extreme, just a reflection on one’s self. Where I’ve come from, where I want to go. Just in my room, I glanced at the tv, I couldn't find anything off with the new tech he installed on our house, including a hologram table.

                      ...I might've played around with it once I was sure that was all inside it. Though now it mostly took up space next to my bed. Unused as instead I just stare at this paper. Humanities, just write something about yourself as the last one. A class introduction. I'd love to have written about being Witch-Hand, just amaze everyone with tales of my bravery. But… Then perhaps not. I didn't need more knowing where I lived and slept who would really like my head on a pike. This was better ultimately. Far better. Ah screw it. I can figure out whatever dullness to put on there later. For now… I should do something.

                      Since I've been picking up steam as a hero, I've decided to start a Chirp, PicLife, and MyBook account, with a unique email of course. This was pretty time sensitive, you never know when someone going to steal your name when you become famous. Thankfully, no one has. Witch-Hand account is up.

                      That's finished and done with… Well, maybe I could do something else. It’d be a shame just to leave this blank. Alright, a patrol then. Go around. Do good, help people. Beat up bad guys. A lot of it has been taking pictures, selfies go on Twitter (took one hanging off the side of a building, even tossed the phone up just to make sure everyone could see that it was me actually hanging off the side. It uh… Didn’t begin well on the media side though.

                      Kill yourself @Jeff_Buzlow
                      Go back to the kitchen @classical_liberal_4523
                      I hope you get brained while taking your stupid selfies @The_Ultimate_Athlete


                      Most of these were easy to ignore. These people wouldn’t matter for long, though… One message at me did hit a bit harder.

                      Because of you good men and women lost their lives trying to bring in criminals. Isn’t the world dark enough? You should be ashamed of your actions.@Harline_Jones

                      ...Right. That. It didn’t help that I did sort of do that. Under mind control but… Still. Hells bells, fine, I’ll respond.

                      @Harline_Jones I can understand what you mean. But lately I’ve tangled with an opponent called the Mesmerist. He was the ringleader of that and the attack on the jail. I’ve not had the opportunity to give my side of the story to the police unfortunately, put simply, I was mind controlled by him into doing so. I’ve figured out ways to counter it (if you can’t see, he can’t use his scepter on you) though, so this shouldn’t happen again

                      And sent. Hopefully they’ll understand. Put the message out there. Maybe people will understand. Probably not, but my message is out there at any rate. Besides, with this I can much better show of that I uh… Don’t explode prison walls.

                      In the meantime though… Do the patrol. Eventually though it was for once quiet. So, waiting, ended up laying in the corner scrolling through. I did decide eventually to call Angie. Nothing. She doing something right now? I guess she's working. Alright… Who else? If nothing’s happening up here… Maybe I can call one of our friends and hit up a movie. Make a call and… “Jen, you busy tonight?” we chose a movie and went. Jennifer was nice, when Angie was found to be the clone, she helped her with hair dye and ended up kick starting her obsession with the stuff. Don't think I've seen them apart since. Right now she had a pink hair look, fitting given this one took place in space. We did have a talk after the movie. “So, Angi-” She stopped, starting over. It was still a bit odd to think the nickname didn't belong to me anymore. “Angelica, what’s been going on since I last saw ya?” “Uh…” I've become a superhero in my part time and beat up bad guys. “College, been trying out some freelance work, nothing sticks and it all sucks. What about you?” “I think I've figured out my career actually, do you remember that itube channel?” “The makeup vlog thing?” “Yeah, a big shot shouted out to me, and I think I might my spend time on that. I already basically spend half my time giving hopeless gals like you! May as well make a career out of it, maybe I’ll upload spanish, <It’s a good reason to keep up on it.>” She said. “Heh, that’s pretty amazing, I’m pretty sure I was supposed to figure out my career a long time ago.” “Don’t worry about it.” She said, pushing my a bit. “We all take time to figure things out. Some more than others, don’t worry, you’ll learn.” “Yeah, I guess we do.” If only it didn’t feel so vague to me.

                      That was that, the night ended. We went our separate ways after. Passing by a local fried chicken place me and Angie really liked, I put on my phone and decided to call her again, she had to be off of work now, or at least nothing so pressing she had to shutdown her cellphone.

                      Ring. Ring. Ring. Nothing.

                      Again. Ring. Ring. Ring.

                      Ring. Ring. Ring.

                      Did… I do something to tick her off? I couldn’t remember. Why’s she not picking up?


                      Ring. Ring. Ring.

                      Still nothing.

                      I called my parents. “Hey, you’ve seen Angie lately? I can’t get a hold of her” “Not since she left this morning for work.” “Oh, thank you. I guess she must be doing something at work then. Sorry to bother ya.” Hang up. Call her work. If she left her phone at home or dropped it somewhere… If she were here… “Hello?” A lady picked up the phone. “Hi. I’ve been trying to get into contact with Angie Childe, could you put her on for me? I’m her sister.” “Uh, sure.” A few minutes of waiting.

                      “I’m sorry. She took a leave for the day. She isn’t here. We can pass a message on if she gets here.” Parents don’t know. I can’t call her. She hasn’t been at work. “N-no, that’s fine, I’m sure I’ll see her.” I hung up without waiting for an answer and sat down.

                      Angie… Where are you?


                      I tried the usual routes she was, somewhere she might choose to spend time… But without her phone?

                      Why? Where?

                      ...It probably wasn’t her choice, whatever was happening. I needed to find someone, the people walking here were probably useless. I asked the shop owners, people lugging around carts. A girl, looked like me, dyed her hair black. Showed pictures of her. Nothing. I had to keep searching.

                      Street by street. Just asking as many as I could. Eventually I did find someone, after what felt like hours They saw her running through 89th. Running? From what? I started sprinting. What the hell could have happened that she was running… I’d change to Witch-Hand but at this point I was worried that every moment I wasted would be a moment I could lose her.

                      I just ran… Almost tripping over a sneaker. I looked around and… Is… That a body under the garbage truck?

                      I ran over calling “Hello?”. No response, I got closer, and turned my phone screen towards the person underneath. It was… “Angie!?” Mys sister was laying under the garbage truck, her dye is entirely gone, she’s wearing a hoodie, looks and smells like a mess. I pulled her out as she groaned, she must’ve been asleep. “Angie?” I simply asked. “Angie…” She slurred out. “Angelica” she corrected herself, a bit more aware. “We’re heading home.” I looked at her again, she wasn't even wearing shoes. “I'll get a cab.” I can ask what the hell happened later. I just held my hand out, a cab stopped, told him “8794 Scarlet street.” I told him as I hauled her inside.

                      The way back was mostly silent. Angie fell asleep pretty quickly after, she must’ve been pretty exhausted, and honestly I didn’t want to wake her. Who the hell did this, looking at her as well, I could see a hole in the back of her sweater. Looking at this… What the hell made her so scared? She hadn’t been a superhero in a while, but she was no coward… Seeing her like this made me want to strangle whoever did this...

                      Once we arrived at the house, I just unlocked the door, and carried Angie on my shoulders to the couch. It’ll probably stink in the morning but I couldn’t really care at the moment. And then… I just sat there, waiting. She was awake, but hadn’t said anything. A cough. My parents turned on the lights, and came down, father just took a double take at the smell “What is that ste-” He saw us. My worry, her tiredness. They quickly came down to sit on the couch with her. “Angie, what happened?”

                      Weird thing I noticed, she seemed to tense up when they came to the couch. She mumbled something I couldn’t quite hear before speaking up. “I looked into a warehouse, there’s a mad scientist turning people into creatures. Give me a phone. I need to tell the police.”

                      They did so, quickly. She informed them. The warehouse, the location, and the man behind it. I listened intently to that last one. Who did this. She hung up. And laid back in the couch.

                      I had to make the one who did this pay.

                      Once we were ready, we took her up to her room. She just about stopped us from following her into the restroom. Me… I had to get ready for something else. Cape, mask, suit, equipment. I was going to make him pay. Locked the door to get ready. I leaped out the window, landing on the pavement below.

                      I started to run, climbing to the roofs and just heading straight at the address. I was going to make him pay.

                      I was almost halfway there when my phone rang. I stopped and picked up on it? “Hello?” “Angelica, I know what you’re doing. Don’t.” “I had to.” “And I’m telling you not to, all you’ll accomplish is getting yourself hurt, I’ve seen him, you won’t win..” “But Angie-” “Just don’t.” “And what? Let the police handle him!?” “You’re just doing this because you’re angry!” “So what if I am!? And what if he starts coming after us too!?” I began to run again. Hell if I was going to let her stop us. “Let the police do their job, for once don’t make this about you!”

                      Hell with that. I just hung up. He hurt her, and I’m going to hurt him back.

                      I arrived at the warehouse, the police were going to enter soon. No point in subtly doing it. I jumped in through the window. There’s going to be hell to pay.
                      Last edited by Tinny; 23-12-2018, 01:54 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Witch-Hand issue # 21
                        (Witch-Hand Is on the floor, with a black eye. ‘Father’ is standing over her, with his pasty skin, white eyes, long hair, no attempt to hide his inhumanity.)


                        The alarms rang out almost as soon as I landed, I wasn’t being very subtle admittedly, leaping through threw window. I didn't care either, guards came, it meant more for me to take down. Two ran, holding up their weapons, both sides of me. I threw my playing cards at them, both hitting the weapon out of their hands. Quickly I fell upon the one to my right, leaping out into his shoulders, and jumping off them, using more playing cards and throwing them. They flew true and Hit the poor guard I just used as a springboard, knocking him down to the floor.

                        I then landed on the wall, before jumping off that, using the shelves and the wall to keep myself in the air. A mass of guards got together to shoot at me, I threw a smoke pellet at their feet and let myself fall, just stopping myself from slamming on the ground full force by hanging on the shelves, courtesy of my cane. Quickly closing in they didn't have much of a chance, not knowing where I was a few stumbled out of the smoke, met with my cane slamming into their helmets. Inside they fared no better. “Hey! Come on! I heard you were tough guys! Where’s the Boss!?” I said. My anger began to creep into my statement towards the end.

                        He was the whole reason I was here. In the distance I could hear police sirens. They were coming, I wanted the Boss though, they can have these guards. I jumped up using the walls and shelves straight to the walkway. Scanning quickly, I saw him, large, black hair, unusually white eyes. Looked like a zombie Ms. America. “There you are!” I pointed it my hand at him. “You know you made quite a mess.” I said, smirking. A really fake smirk that barely hid my anger, but one nonetheless. “Witch-Hand I take it.” He said, balling one hand into a fist. “The one and o-AAAH!” he closed the distance across the walkway so much more quickly than I had assumed. Took me dropping everything and jumping off the railing, swinging with my cane to the bottom to avoid getting a fist through me. The stomp that shook the entire walkway was not much more fun either as I fell down. Ok, ok then, control your fall.

                        Fall, feet, then roll, it's not comfortable but it diverts the energy from just slamming into you. Like parkour, keep the head to the left, use the shoulder. Don't break your neck or spine. Looking up- oh crap. I leaped forward as he crashed own on the floor, just as is, looking straight at me. “So, what’s with the mad scientist act?” I said, trying to get him to talk. “Creating a more worthy world.” He simply said, before rushing at me, raising his left hand, I got ready to dodge it, unlike my sister, I had get us- and I was kicked in the face. Hard too, I could even feel my jaw crack, and I went flying, hitting a beam holding up the walkway. I could hear a bunch of animals as my back slammed into it, barely. I think my spine snapped too, I couldn't feel anything below my legs. I tried to force myself up, using the cane to climb higher but…. He was on me already, stomping on my leg, I couldn't feel a damn thing but just hearing the sound it made had me wincing. He picked me up by my neck, held me up. I could only starr daggers into him, as he barely regarded me as important enough to spend time on, now that he shattered my leg and broke my spine. He just looked at me, and began to squeeze.

                        At first it just hurt. I tried to struggle, attack his face or something. He didn't budge, and I steadily got worse, I couldn't breath. I could feel sweat begin to build, my vision began to tunnel on his face. Impassive, black lips and I swore he had translucent skin up close. My thoughts began to scatter. Not enough air.

                        I was panicking.

                        I'm going to die.

                        I'm going to die.

                        I'm going to die.

                        Just desperate struggle to get away. Words faded into noise. All I could see was his expression, quizzically staring at me.

                        Not enough air. I'm going to die.

                        Kick, scrape, I think I lost my cane at some point. All I could think was

                        Not enough air.

                        I'm going to die.

                        Not enough air.

                        I'm going to die.

                        ……………………………………………………….

                        Damn it Angelica. You didn’t listen, of course you wouldn’t... The broken window couldn't be anyone else, as the news reporter elaborated on the situation. I had headphones on to keep it quiet, in my bed. Honestly I wanted to sleep, so did my parents, but I needed to see what happens.

                        I didn’t see Witch-Hand anywhere. The police surrounded the warehouse, the entire place was painted red and blue with the lights of the vehicles.

                        They were warning him to stand down, and for the men involved here to slowly step out of the warehouse, in an orderly fashion, and come out in front to face arrest. There were a lot of policemen here as well, even considering the large size of the warehouse. Some as far back as the streets, with the reporter in particular standing near one of the sniper positions.

                        I couldn’t help but notice how quick and forceful the response was, considering how…

                        Of course. Robert Hernandez was selling to him… Father was telling the truth. I looked still, this much police, they may have had power armor, but it wasn’t going to make them invincible against guns. For the best at any rate…

                        Then the broadcast took a turn for the worse… In the streets, I’d assume the sewers a gas poured out of them and… Oh no I recognize that gas. The entire grounding area around the warehouse was quickly covered in gas, coming out of the streets, turning the men and women down there into beasts of various kinds. The entire thing fell into chaos quickly after, animals attacking each other, complete and total chaos, and Coloborhynchus attacking the snipers. Alone they weren’t absolutely dangerous, in such numbers they were overwhelming them. The news feed cut out after that… A big part of the police force… Was just turned into animals… And Witch-Hand was nowhere to be seen…
                        Last edited by Tinny; 23-12-2018, 02:00 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Witch-Hand Issue#22
                          (The cover is all white, and on opposite ends of the cover, small and far away, are Angie, now eve, and Angelica looking across at each other.)

                          I awoke slowly, my head was pounding. The warehouse I had just fought in looked empty… In a hurry too. Stuff knocked over, but I looked behind me… All the animals caged up were gone. What in the… I looked outside and… This looked like a mess. Police cars overturned, windows broken a few dead prehistoric animals. God… I really did get my ass kicked. Wasn’t even a contest really. He’s fast and strong and knew how to use both, nothing like ole’ stoney face.

                          I just walked out, looking at everything… Damn it… He really wasn’t playing around. And I just got played as a punk… I suppose it wasn’t as bad as Mesmerist for me but… Looking at all this. He was way deadlier than Mesmerist ever was. All the villains I’ve faced up to now have just been looking to steal, this one… Yeah, he was planning something big… And the city was stuck in the middle. No pressure Witch-Hand. No pressure. Just…

                          Goddamn it I’m stupid.

                          I needed to go on a few more patrols to clear my head… It probably wasn’t a great idea to turn patrols into her form of stress relief, but for now it works.

                          I got home later, it was close to midnight. That was fine, I had no classes tomorrow, I have time to spend most of the morning in bed.

                          The next day came. And the news was still reporting on it… People were going to get worried about this. I couldn’t focus on that though. It was early for that… 9 AM. Either way I was hungry. I headed down, make myself a sandwich or something. My hair was messy, and I was in my jammies. Just gotta come down and eat. See the day. Or go back to bed.

                          Seems like everyone ate before me, given the dishes, alright, that and then a shower. Washing the dishes is easy enough. Time consuming but easy, something I could just accomplish easily enough. Once I was out of the shower, I saw Angie looking at me, no hair dye today, and I made “I’m gonna walk to try to figure out where the Boss would be. Wanna come?” I was going with the suit underneath my clothes, but hell, less time spent changing and more time ending this. Angie simply nodded. We walked for a while, the warehouse was now a crime scene, so that was off limits… Walking by the ocean though it hit me. “Angie, I just realized, what about your job? Don’t you work saturdays?” “I turned in my resignation a while ago. Just… Boss did a few things I didn’t appreciate.” “Oh.” We continued walking down, lunch time came, and I headed towards the silver Trout.

                          Something different happened today, usually when we went out together, I didn’t ask her, after all, we were clones, we had the same tastes already. Order the same things. Eat them the same way. She grabbed my hand instead, and I looked back at her. “Angie?” “I wanted to talk about that. I’d rather we do this outside.” I tilted my head at that. I didn’t mind waiting, but… What was this about? “What’re you talking about Angi-” “That. The name. I’m not using that name anymore.” “...You’re getting a name change?” This was really odd. “Later, yeah.” “...What’’ll be the new name?” “Eve.” I snorted a bit at that. That name was so damn pretentious! “Like from the bible.” She nodded. “...Why? Angie’s worked fine until now.” “It’s…” she paused, like she wasn't certain. “Fath-” She stopped again. Dad? “The Boss…” ...What. “He showed me a lot of things. Circumstances of who I was originally. Before uh…” Ending up on my doorstep thinking you were me. “Our parents are infertile, one or the other.” “..What?” “That’s when Father created us. Two, you were to be their child, and I… Was going to be one of his. He named me Eve.”

                          I… What? I couldn’t understand her. That… That monster named her and now she wants the name? And talking about him like he’s her long lost dad… We’re practically the same person! We had most of the same memories! “That’s ridiculous… Why would you even believe him or want his name!?” I said, the whole thing sounded like nonsense, just… Why? I continued telling her “The man’s a mutant mad scientist! Why are you even taking a name like that!?”

                          “Because for once in my life I’m not a copy of you!” She said, yelling at me.

                          I… Didn’t know what to say to that. I was at a loss for words. We just stood there. I… I never even realized that went through her head. She just took the name I thought. Dyed the hair. That was that. I… Never even thought she was carrying anything like that. Honestly she seemed to have a better idea what to do than me most of the time.

                          It made a lot more sense why she wanted the new name now. I always just assumed it worked for her. Now I’m learning it didn’t… And…

                          There was nothing to say, we just stared at each other…

                          ……

                          ……

                          I heard my stomach growl.

                          “....Do you want something to eat… Eve?” The name felt wrong on my tongue. Especially knowing about it’s source. But… I didn’t want to fight over this. Not anymore now.

                          Lunch was awkward and quiet. We went our separate ways after that. I went back to looking blind. I’m not sure what An- What Eve did. Eve. Wonder what Eve’s doing while I search… Damn it… I’m getting stressed again… Maybe another patrol later...

                          [cut to Eve]

                          I stood at another crossroads, going to the docks. After the argument, I’m not surprised she wanted time away from me… Lunch was just silent. Neither of us really wanting to look each other in the eye. Sigh. I need to do something, I told her I already did it, really I just stayed home… No, I need to quit. I’m not going with him, especially if he was selling this tech to Father.

                          I knocked on the door, walked straight to the head office. Hernandez was there, looking through some papers. I simply put my ID card on his desk. He looked up at me. “What’s this about?” “You sold the tech to him.” Silence again, as he stared at me, his eyes widening. “I-I don’t know what-” “I’m quitting. Bye.” And I turned and walked out. Oh his room. Of the building. Of my work.

                          God… Nothing feels stable right now. And then there’s Father.... If he gets what he wants… I’m sure the police are searching for him…

                          Then I have to think about the city we’re in. Super villains are a way of life. A great number of them, and the police already can barely keep up with them… They are always scrambling, always on the defense… Father’s cunning, he’s smart, and ultimately he’s not the only issue they’re dealing with.

                          I need to do something, help them find him at least. If he’s planning to turn the entire city into animals… He’ll need one hell of a propagation system. Maybe pump it through the sewers? They did start with that. You’d need a lot of gas though, way beyond what the warehouse could contain if you’re talking the entire city. It wasn’t well built for that at the best of times, and even then it can’t get the people further on the outskirts, those on the towers are out as well… Alright, other choices then…

                          I couldn’t think of anything in specific, many of which involved luck… I’m lacking expertise on most of this… Look up a few things… What could disperse something far enough to cover the city? Nothing in our city was being built for anything like that, not publically… Searching didn't help. Not news, not documents, nothing. I couldn’t put him knowing something I didn’t out of the way, but I had no real way to deal with that from here… Something… If it weren’t the sewer systems weren’t it, and none of the companies seemed to be dealing with it… Eventually on the imageboard I was asking (they didn’t help at all), I saw an add for the temple “try out the ancient technology!” I clicked on it, after this I was going to quit looking.

                          And among the ancient technologies… The manipulation of it’s structure, yeah, I think I remember a story about that a few years back. I-Angelica had seen on the news something about the tower rising. Other marvels that seemed impossible by modern standards, including apparent aquariums, and… Vents of unknown use… I couldn’t be certain… But maybe this was how he was planning? They seemed to be hiring tour guides as well...

                          ...It was a major step down admittedly, from research assistant to tour guide. But to be honest, I think I wanted to take a break from using science, given… Yeah. I didn’t want to think about it too much. Just take the job.

                          Most of the tourism here was ultimately centered around the sunken temple. Lots of other things, the sealife here was very vibrant, occasionally dangerous, but far more colorful and interesting than most lakes were. The marine Iguanas here were also a rarity, only other marine iguanas period being on the Galapagos Islands. Scuba diving of course, exploration, and then we got the temple. The very tip peeking above the surface of the water, enough that we could set up merchandise stands around it. Similar to mayan build, but geographically utterly separated, and from what we can tell, not built for being underwater. It was a strange mystery, given the lake had been filled for a very long time. No one knew what it was for, but the top of it was available for tourism. Lower floors were left for exploration, in the meantime, we used simply the first few floors to entertain anyone visiting from out of state.

                          That’s where I spent most of my duties, orientation of being told the various places, I managed to get stationed at the temple itself, the only restrooms there were a bunch of porta potties by the beginning, and crowds were generally kept (relatively) small. I had plenty of time to tell people about the temple, memorizing the layout of this place. Even the control room. Eventually I was given permission even to look over the various photos and plans. I’d have preferred to be inside directly, but this was good enough… The various controls, and this valve-esque control, when slightly adjusted it sent the top high into the air. Wonder what the rest does… That solved how at least. I eventually sent another call in, telling them to step up the defense. It’ll have to do. I can’t talk him down. Witch-Hand can’t beat him down. Like or not, I’d need to rely on the police…

                          I just hoped they could stop him. I know we can't.

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                          • #14
                            Witch-Hand Issue 23
                            (The cover depicts Witch-Hand and Centaur fighting, Witch-Hand leaping out to swing her cane at Centaur while she has her spear pointed at the girl.)

                            Damn it Eve! I couldn’t believe she had been taken in by that creep. And I couldn’t believe how easily I had lost to him. It felt good to beat on criminals, usually, the worst I got was Mesmerist, and he was ultimately as weak as anyone else. Gah, I needed to calm down, maybe beat the hell out of a criminal or mugger or something. Just running over rooftop after rooftop as it rained. I wasn’t worried, I was too good at this to slip. But that was just fine. I could still see, the moon was still out.

                            It was then I heard loud hoofs, crashing against the pavement, quick too. Perfect. I was looking for a punching back, and from the look of it, with a woman running away, this was as good an opportunity as any! The running woman vaulted over a dumpster, which the Centaur looking person ran past aside. Time to make my entrance, I leaped out, my cane catching empty clotheslines, softening my descent just enough for my to land in between them. And I stared down my foe. It looked like some experiment from the Boss’s warehouse, but not exactly. Most of them looked like animals, this one here looked like a centaur. From myth almost. She was enormous, and unlike the experiments, she had armor and weapons, old ones it looked like, from Japan. Like a Samurai…

                            I smirked all the same, I was going to enjoy this one. And looking at her…

                            Well. I won’t say it’s my finest moment as an orator.

                            “Cud you stop scaring the poor lady? She’s friesian stiff!” I turned back to her. “You’re safe now, hoof it out of here, I’ll keep her busy.” Then I turned back to my foe… Taller than me and Eve standing on each other. “Now…” I said, trying to catch her attention, and maybe piss her off… “What animal were you mutated from? Not a pony that’s for sure.” I said, even slightly tapping my hat with my cane. Looking at her… She seemed important to the Boss. If I could take her down, maybe I’d find his new base right then and there!

                            “Whatever” I said, not waiting for an answer “giddy-up out of here if you don’t want a beating!” I said. I was so full of insincere confidence. I just needed to take down another brute, and I knew the size difference meant most brutes would choose to fight. I never really offered it if I thought they’d run away. Takes the fun away if they just leave.

                            The Centaur I was fighting on the other hand seemed… Utterly confused by me. Don’t tell me they were trying to run… Oh wait, steam was shooting out. Looked like I pissed her off! Excellent! She stomped onto the car, and took her spear from her back, pointing it down at me, then booming in a hoarse voice, quaking with fury and whinnying to match “You have no idea what part of destiny you just altered. Your puny little eyes can’t even comprehend what I see!” Destiny? What? Did the Boss fill her head with religious nonsense or something? Out of period, out of place, and out of her mind, a fine trio here. Then again, another guy was calling himself an angel or Nephilim, maybe it was a the new craze sweeping the city. “Now, out of my way” She grunted, before swinging the blunt end at me, trying to get my out of the way and grab the woman she was after.

                            “Destiny? What’s thi-” I stopped my statement, moving back as she swung her spear. I ended up back flipping, the spear passing above me, I pulled out a magic ring for the woman, and ordered her to “Grab it!” She did exactly so, and before Centaur could capture her, I pulled her out of reach. And then returned to mocking her. “What’s this ‘bout destiny? Quit foaling around here! No god’s asking you to attack random people!” I said, before producing a full hand of playing cards, one more look at the woman behind me, I gestured her to leave. She immediately spoke how “It’s about justice!” And well… I couldn’t really care what her reasons were at the time. Then I began my assault, playing card after playing card. I threw them with style as well, flourishing movements, a flip here and there, lots of spinning, and just as well, these cards were harder hitting than even aces had any right to be. They pelted against her, some hitting her armor directly, others going for the small gaps in between it.

                            Her fists had balled, and in what was a very small step for her, but a large distance, pretty quickly closed the gasp. She struck out with her huge hands, trying to snatch my arms telling me to stop over and over, “Enough! Just stop! Stop!” Snarling all the while. She grabbed my arms, holding me up, spat out “Or I will put this through your heart at the very least!” and stabbed her spear at me, just barely missing, in what I assumed was her fury.

                            She wasn’t going to scare me off that easily though, clumsy like Stoney Face, she’d fall all the same. “Please, we take a Chicago Overcoat and then throw ourselves underwater for fun!” I let a small pellet fall down, meeting onto my knee, and exploding into smoke. I put all my strength into pulling apart my hands, and she lost her grip. While her front legs kicked at nothing but smoke, I was getting ready for my next move. I dove I jumped onto a wall, and back into the smoke, right on her back, and where I remembered her head was, started swinging with my cane. Met out punishment while making sure that my words stuck with her like the ringing of her helmet “You don’t get it do ya!? The danger, the excitement…” And one big swing “That’s why I’m here! You’re just making it more fun!” I swung down hard as I could, “If I wanted life to be boring and stable, I’d work a stable!”

                            ...Ok that last one was bad. But I was having fun beating down on a big foe. Down and down and… As it turns out, I was overconfident. She had turned around quickly More than I expected, and My cane was grabbed, and snapped outright, gripped with intense pressure. The splinters flew everywhere, some on my face. I was kind of surprised by this which resulted in the spear hitting me.

                            Hard. My head was ringing, but past it I could hear, in a truly booming voice “OFF!” The world was spinning, my head was throbbing, I landed face first into the gravel. Goddamn it… “Damn…” I couldn’t really hide my pain. “Were you crossbred with a horse or a mule?” Honest question at this point with how thoroughly she bucked me off. And now I’m here, no cane at this point… And no real plan.

                            I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to lose again. She was panting inside the metal mask. I had a chance, she was getting weary… Just not as much as me. She looked exhausted, if I could muster my strength, I can still win this. I didn’t want to lose again. Not again. She stomped over. I quickly got up, and was ready to attack. Getting behind her.

                            In hindsight. This was the dumbest thing I did that day.

                            I was… An idiot.

                            Before I could react, her hoof had slammed into my chest, breaking my breastbone. The air left my lungs, and i was back on the ground. Really it felt like the entire world was rushing out to hit me from behind, as I hit the head. A loud snap came out. I would’ve yelled in pain as well, but the air left my lungs… And instead something seemed to be filling it. I spat out something and… It was metallic. It was iron. I couldn’t hear much at this point.

                            God… What the hell am I doing out here. Beaten within an inch of my life twice liek this. God… It was getting painful to stay awake… Stupid girl…

                            I lost consciousness at this point. I don’t really know what happened next. I didn’t really ask Centaur was happened next afterwords. Or Leslie as I’d get to know her.

                            I didn’t dream exactly, least it didn’t feel like the ones I usually have. Just more like, thoughts coming through. Memories. Scenarios. Reflection. Just… My accomplishments. I established social presence in media. Yay. I broke a lot of public property. Goddamn it, I created a super villain even, if Robert had managed to just get those jewels without me, we wouldn’t have the Mesmerist.

                            I did this to have fun. Something to do. Retire when I got older-bored really. And now just how much have I screwed up. Now I’m I don’t know where and… And…

                            Was that Strawberry? I opened my eyes. The person I had been fighting the whole time here, who I had insulted, who I had assumed was a bad guy and tried to beat down… Was telling me “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. I’m a bad hero.”

                            I finally opened my eyes. Looking around, I saw her vaguely horse like face, the eyes and nose were noticeably different, but she looked… Sad. Wait a tic. It’s cold. I’m in some clothing I don’t recognize, a gown it looks like. I didn’t put thi… Where the- Where am I?

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                            • #15
                              Witch-Hand issue 24
                              (The cover shoes a teacup, and beside it is Witch-Hand’s mask, crumpled and forgotten)

                              Was that Strawberry? I opened my eyes. The person I had been fighting the whole time here, who I had insulted, who I had assumed was a bad guy and tried to beat down… Was telling me “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. I’m a bad hero.”

                              I finally opened my eyes. Looking around, I saw her vaguely horse like face, the eyes and nose were noticeably different, but she looked… Sad. Wait a tic. It’s cold. I’m in some clothing I don’t recognize, a gown it looks like. I didn’t put thi… Where the-

                              “AAH!”I scrambled out of her arms and fell into the hole, and looked around again. And… It began to hit.

                              Oh god.

                              Oh god.

                              I’m an idiot oh god. I wanted to beat up something, anything so much… God what would’ve happened if it were anyone else. Maybe they leave me there or maybe they stack cinder blocks on me and leave me at the bottom of a river. Maybe they bury me alive… Or in a block of cement while it forms around me.... Dear god I’m an idiot.

                              She instead was here and… Everything here, her apologizing, it felt like her voice was going to break. She wouldn’t have done all this if she were a thug or minion. No… I… I... I saw her galloping away, presumably in shock from a dead woman waking up.

                              “I… Got in your way.”I admitted. Goddamnit. A criminal wouldn’t have done this for me. Not after me assaulting and insulting them. My hand had sneaked up to my mask… After this episode… I… I had to have a long think about what I wanted. I ruined more and more.

                              She came around to me after that. Even talking to me “I am very sorry for the trouble I have caused you, the inconvenience I have brought.” No… That was my fault. “Iam… I am ashamed.” As am I. So am I. She pulled me out of the grave.

                              She was demure, quiet even, bowing her head… Had I not recognized her as the Centaur I fought, I’d have thought her a maid. She demeanor was such… Utterly removed from anything I recognized from her in her samurai get up. She wasn’t even maintaining eye contact with her. She pointed back to her house, a mansion now that I was looking at it. Large, a bit intimidating in the size almost, unlike the Centaur here.

                              God… I was pitiful. I picked a fight. I got beaten down. She feels bad for beating so badly…. Something I might’ve deserved. In hindsight, I never even tried to figure out what was going on. I just wanted to beat her down. Is that a hero? And yet she called herself the failure here. I…

                              I’m awful.

                              She was still nervous as well… But just… The difference. This girl lived in the middle of nowhere. No claims to fame. Just her duty. I was futzing around with Chirp accounts, interviews. I… I was stupid.

                              What was I even doing here. I was here because she was kind. Kinder than I deserved. I was even getting stuck in my own head. Just thinking. What if she fought the Boss instead of me. She’s probably have won instead of getting choked here. It took me a few moments to realize she was asking me a question about it. “This way?” She said, patient for me. A few what must’ve been long seconds for her, I finally said yes. My bravado and oration was just.. Gone at this point.

                              I didn’t have much to say after all this. What with how I acted before. Antagonizing chatterbox. I should listen instead. I looked around at the property. Looked Japanese, traditional, large hedges, but the strangest bit was probably how large and clearly expensive it was. It was expensive, but it looked like it was for sale, the personality scrubbed out.

                              I continued to fiddle with my mask. Just… She even left it on here. Protecting my secret identity as if I was some superhero. I wasn’t. I was just an idiot posing for the camera. But with the silence here.. As she opened the door, modified for her height. It was awkward here. I asked a question, anything that came to mind. “Where are we? And… How long was I out?”

                              IDIOT! I wanted to face palm at that. How was this supposed to help? The first was about her secret identity. Even if she was a centaur, she respected mine, I should’ve done the same. And the latter just came back round to this…

                              All the same she answered. It was more than I deserved really, telling me “My home. Mother’s home.” She had a mother? I had thought her some experiment the whole time… Boss’s experiment no less. She quickly corrected herself, adding “Or it was, not to mislead you or give you the wrong idea or anything like that…” She then answered the other question, while taking off all that armor, laying it in its place. Unfastening cords, the works. “You were out for, uh, well… I suppose…. Hours. Less than a day though.” She said, her body shivering, and looking at her here. The idea of a servant only became more pronounced with the relatively simple dark blue robe over her human half. She shot me a glance before averting eye contact. I must be a bother honestly, first as a failure, now an unexpected guess… Not easy to turn away in the middle of nowhere, not when you brought what should have been a corpse to be buried honorably while respecting their profession.

                              “How are you doing?” “Huh?” I wasn’t prepared for the question “Sorry, that question is annoying…” She said, quickly turning to a mumble. God I felt like a drag on her. “uh no, I mean uh… I'm fine.” It was smalltalk, “The gown is nice,” I continued. This was better than silence. Worse than everything else. She kept mumbling, and I didn't really want to interrupt, so I just observed her. Looking at her walk, I noticed she wasn't stepping on bare floor, most of the floor wasn't in fact. It was covered in straw, like a stable. Made sense for a girl like her. And looking at her like this, the fury, the danger, the strength she read then seemed so far away, as she reached up to some cabinets to prepare tea for her. How off her first impression had been, especially given she was so nervous, that the entire tea set was continually shaking like it were an earthquake. How the tea didn't fall out, was a mystery for the sages.

                              She placed the tray there, though how with how much she was breathing, one would think she ran a marathon. I was exhausting her, making her nervous, making her serve tea… I should be in a hole, buried. “I am so sorry, I must…. I-... I just give me a moment please, excuse me.” She said, in a rushed fashion. “Help yourself to the tea if you want but…” Looking at the countertop. Made for her it was taller than I was, I’d probably have to climb to get up there…

                              Was this how toddlers felt looking at the furniture around the house? She ended up pushing a table meant to be sat at while sitting on the floor to the counter, to serve as a step stool for me. “You can just, you know, um…” It was hard not to feel like we both couldn’t really speak. I couldn’t say much, and she had to stop in the middle of every sentence. “Use this to climb up.” She nodded, gave me a smile and quickly ran out of the living room, somewhere else.... It was then I heard the shower turn on, freshening up so she got out of the dress wasn’t it. I went up to the countertop, using the table so my head was above it, and poured a small cup out for me. It would’ve been rude not to I think.

                              While she was probably reflecting in the shower, I ended up staring at the teacup at myself. I didn’t look much better, she got the dirt out of my face, another thing I should thank her for given everything. And I couldn’t help but think back to us meeting. I beat her down, using Witch-Hand as an excuse to leg the brute in me out. The more I stared at my face, with that mask the more I couldn’t stand to look. My hand went to my face, and grabbed the domino mask off my face, balling into a fist and slamming it into the countertop. What the hell was I even thinking with this. I wasn’t a hero, sure I saved a few people… But I did that to have fun. I didn’t do it for the right reason… And that’s how I got crushed there, I might’ve made a target of us now even if he guessed Eve told Witch-Hand. And just comparing myself to Centaur, even with everything I saw of her here… I couldn’t help but feel like a worse hero in every way. It’s because I’m not.

                              I shouldn’t act like one either. The mask stayed off.

                              I began to sip my tea when I heard the door slam, more sprinting from Centaur… What was going on over there? I was going to ask if I should help, but she came out again with a green outfit, arms held in front of her, she seemed a bit more relaxed. That was good. “Is the tea good? Eh heh, apologies about that run… I’m not used to visitors.” SHe said, steadily saying her words, the tempo was different from before… It felt… Rehearsed perhaps? I was about to respond to her, and was thinking she looked far nicer than before, before her features twisted in realization. She put her hands over he eyes, in a dramatic fashion she reared back, bouncing on her hooves. And that’s when I realized what was wrong, as she said “Your mask, you don’t have it!”

                              I responded quickly, just “Oh nono! It’s fine!” My hands were out as well, like I was trying to stop a car or telling someone to wait, “It’s fine. I took it off.” I looked back at it, crumpled near the cup. “I didn’t want it on. It felt a bit…” Shameful “Silly.” It didn’t quite finish that but regardless added a bit more, help make her feel better maybe. “Besides, I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with this…” I said. “This month’s been a bit of a wake up call.” I didn’t want to continue past that. Just… Maybe if she asks, but I’d rather not come out and say it like this. I then remembered the tea and hastily added “It’s good by the way.”

                              She bucked for a bit though, eventually stopping, shaking her head and pinning her ears like a horse. “Yes, silly, of course!” it hurt to hear her laugh there, like glass that at any moment could shatter as she slowly stepped forward, turning to me. I chuckled along, just to help with this being less painful. She nodded slowly and linked her hands, giving a “Thank you…”

                              She felt off kilter here as well, not certain what exactly to do… Neither of us dis really, I don’t think any of us expected to be a guest/housing one. She had a few false starts introducing herself as well, “My name is, my name is… My name is Leslie Saito.” that's a beautiful name, better than mine at least. She bowed her head, “Whatever trouble you've had this month, you can call on the Saito name to help you with it.” She bowed again, deeper this time, her eyes avoiding mine as she enumerated the ways she could help. “Money, food, a place to stay…” I suppose I must've seemed pathetic to her. And I imagine she felt indebted to me for… What she did to me.

                              “... Your clothes?” Ah! “My clothes! Right!” the costume I was in, what had happened to it? With all this I hadn’t had time to think on it. “I’m fine on most of those… But you’re right, I don’t know where my costume is… And a change of regular clothes might be nice.” I said, scratching the back of my head… It’s… This was nice but I rarely wore gowns like this, it showed off my arms which had quite a bit of muscle on them… I didn’t exactly look like a normal lady… “N-not that the dress isn’t nice!” I quickly exclaimed, it was, it just didn’t fit on me… And even if it did, “Just… I probably shouldn’t be walking the streets in a white gown like this… Like some girl out of a fairy tale.” I chuckled a bit, even if I couldn’t say I was being too funny.

                              Her own lips quirked, in a small smile, as she murmured to me “You probably know about that.” I wonder what brought that smile to her, but she continued before going off and getting my clothes “I will go and get your clothes.” She bowed deeply, then walked away, and soon enough came back, with my superhero outfit, the Witch-Hand costume. It was rather neat, folded and all such, though the hoof mark was still on it. Handing it to me, she told me “Please, keep the gown too. If you like it anyway.” She wrung her hands for a second. Her eyes flicking towards mask, back to me and the mask. Did she want to ask me something? She said, quiet as a mouse, I almost had to strain my ears to hear her. “I don’t deserve such trust from you, sorceress.” What? “I failed my duty,” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as she continued “and it was luck, not skill that you survive” I picked a fight and almost got myself killed. And yet she’s talking like she… She… “So, I’ll just well, you know, sit and just, sort of, stay out of the way.” A loud thump, and I was speechless to hear this. “Still… I thank you for trusting me. I swear, I will not betray it, on my family name and o-o-on my honor.”

                              Unworthy of my trust? It’s the other way around! I wanted to beat someone into the ground and… I got beaten into it. And she is…

                              She is...

                              Every action she’s taken ever since I woken has proven to me further and further that she is a real hero and I a fraud, even the self-depreciation. And I had to tell her, I couldn’t watch her talk about herself like that. A almost blurted it out the minute I recovered my voice, “It’s not you that failed your duty! I’m the one who couldn’t live up to it, I wanted to fight something… I picked a fight with you, and I got what I deserved. I got in the way because… Because…. I was angry. I wanted to hurt something.” I couldn’t keep looking at her. I looked down at the outfit she handed me, with that hoof mark. I think she looked away too. It was probably more worthy of wearing after this. I deserved every bit of pain there, and I said as such “I deserve to get hurt back… I attacked you. I didn’t even wait to see, I didn’t even try to think about what was happening. You defend yourself and I attacked.”

                              She didn’t respond. I… I don’t know why but I feel like she wasn’t convinced despite what I said. Still, I continued, “I think I needed to meet you honestly.” I stared at the hoofmark. “If anything… I’m the one who needs to earn your trust.” A pause. I didn’t know what to continue with. “I am deeply honored by your compliments.” Leslie said, breaking the silence, I saw her bow from the top of my eye, drawing my eyes back up at the centaur. “A thousand thank yous, and… Oh thank you again.” She said, thank yous I didn’t really deserve, but I couldn’t really keep going at this point. She returned to her full height again, towering over me, at this point I was thinking… She was much better than me. Maybe I could ask her… Instead of me ineffective, maybe she could take him down much better than I ever could ever try. “Actually, if I want to contact you… Do you have a number?”

                              “Number?” She said, puzzled at first before her eyes lit up with understanding. “Oh, yes, a number!” trotting away, and coming back with an large, ancient phone fitted for someone of her stature. “Is that enough for your magic?” What? What magic? I didn’t even know what I was looking at first, before realizing that yeah, it’s one of those old flip phones. Probably the same as any other. She spoke again “I wish I could get a new one sometimes,” She said, and I had to agree with that sentiment, this thing was practically a fossil. “Not that I’m ungrateful for all that I have! It’d just be nice. Like the commercials.” Yeah, a smart phone like mine. “So many features. And… So little.” She said… Right, a smart phone would probably be too small, it’d have to be something custom made for her large hands. In the meantime, I went through it, I could probably find it, go to settings… There’s the number, and I just put that number in my mind. I could jot it down later. “Hey… I suppose you could give me a ride out of here?” Now that we were trading numbers, I noticed the clock. I’ve been here… Quite a time.

                              “Of course!” She said, smacking her head, “You probably have somewhere to go back to. Forgive me for forgetting.” I had forgotten too you silly goose. I’t should still be dark enough to go out without my armor on” She rose up to her full height, and grabbing my hand, I was reminded at the disparity of size. The size disparity, I was to her like a small child at the mall would be to me. She took me to the wall with the armor, tying it together one piece at a time. “It’s been a while since anyone’s ridden on my back.There’s no saddle. I am very sorry about that, I’ll go and get one immediately after this… But this… Maybe…” She was thinking on something… The way she looked at some cords on them. She pulled together those long cords, looping them around her girth, and doing a little skip to get them under her front legs. “Yes, maybe this should work…” Trying them around herself, and holding them up with her hands “There! You can tie yourself to my back with these…. If that’s okay with you.” She still seemed worried about being a terrible host… I really didn’t deserve all this consideration, she continued “It probably will hold you in place, probably.” Though… With how unsure she was, I was beginning to wonder how safe this was. “I think.” This wasn’t comforting. “I hope. Hold onto my mane too, just in case…” At this point she was tapping her chin, and pacing around, looking for something, or perhaps double checking to make sure she didn’t forget anything. And as her eyes drifted across the armory, tools for a centaur like Leslie. And then her eyes focused on a collection of oils and such, presumably for her armor, and she grabbed a bit of petroleum jelly and… Was handing it to me. I… “This is for, uh, the bumpiness. You know, it’s like… rubbing for your hands super fast, so uh…” I was staring at the jelly. And barely listening as she told me to put on a lot to deal with the friction and…

                              I couldn’t help but stare at the Jelly and…

                              No.

                              No no no no no.

                              I couldn’t do that, that petroleum jelly was all disgusting and gross and “AaaaAaa!” I said, involuntarily, “that’s fine!” I didn’t need to ride on horseback. I looked quickly for any reason not to do this. Can’t be a choosing beggar here ‘It’s weird riding another person anyway….” I said.

                              Leslie laughed shyly, and agreed. Her eyes didn’t meet mine either. She pawed at the ground with her hooves, embarrassed as well, now that this madness. She spoke “I just… Forgot.” A small pause. She stood there a while.
                              “I could-” I began to attempt at finding an explanation, an alternative way… Maybe… “You could carry me… You’re strong enough.” I looked away, not in shame this time, just sheer embarrassing, I could feel the heat in my cheeks, but it was still better than slathering on that jelly onto my legs.

                              Just don’t let Eve see me. I’d never live it down. Hell, what the hell would I tell my parents? Anyone really. It was dark at least, no one could see me at least. God… She certainly responded better at least, saying “Yes, carrying you, I can do that!” She whipped around, and reached out her arms, grabbing my with one arm under my legs, and the other holding up my back. Kind of like a bridal carry, and holding my close to her chest. She handled me like… Well like I had the cumulative weight of a feather. Looking up at her, I had to admit this felt almost comforting, despite the… Well how Eve would never let me forget if she ever saw me. She told me that “I will start running now. Quickly. So now’s the time to, uh, hold on.”

                              Remember that feeling of this being almost comforting? Like being in a warm bath. Then a blizzard whipped through as she actually started running. Dear lord she was fast, but not smooth like the horses in movies and such, bouncing up and down, I almost felt like I was gonna fly off with every gallop. I quickly grabbed her, holding her tightly as I could, just hoping not to fall down. All the while I heard her repeatedly saying “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!” Finally a huge leap up, going up by quite a distance, I couldn’t tell but the constant crushing of rock or asphalt no longer abounded in my ears, I was guessing she was leaping over a large river or a building. Probably the latter, I don’t recall any rivers so large in this area. Finally an admission. I felt like an idiot realizing that she “I-... I don’t know where your house is.” She said after half a minute. I never even told her. God I’m stupid.

                              “...Right. I should’ve said that.” Idiotic Childe. “I uh… Where’s the lake…” I said, scanning for it… Ok it’s there, coast is this side, and quickly scanning the other landmarks… “I live over there,” I motioned towards my home “Scarlet Street. It’s a block down that one restaurant with the statue of a big red oni holding up a taiyaki. Scarlet street, 8794.” I said. Even if she didn’t know the last part, least she knew to look for the large oni. “The oni, yes. I remember it well. I was scared of it as a filly.” I looked up at her, as she blushed a scarlet, almost squirming a bit. I couldn’t believe her ever being scared of it honestly. Not physically anyway, social interactions seemed to play upon all of her insecurities. “I mean… He was never the nicest mascot.” I had to admit, I did giggle after that, just imagining her being scared of that stupid statue. It was a really stupid statue honestly. One more leap onto the ground, and I simply looked at her, as she carried my through it, thought it seemed she hit upon something, and held my up by the armpits… Did I stink for her to hold me like this? I was a bit embarrassed. I had taken a beaten and landed in garbage, then almost get buried… Wait.. She’d surely have reacted before that at some point, my head began to turn, but I stopped, just looking at the houses, and… Was she trying to make our frontward silhouette more human? Maybe… Though I couldn’t quite get the idea of her just trying to get my stench away from her out of my head. She was probably right.

                              She gazed at the house, and I never noticed at the time… In hindsight, I think she wanted to bring herself inside the house. “If ever I can help you, please tell me.” She turned away, swishing her tail. Her voice was… It was like the persona she put on as Centaur. Leslie gave me a few final words. “I have a wish… That I could hav been more…” She turned around, and bowed her head to me one last time. “More helpful to you.” She wanted to say something else. Or rather she didn’t at the last moment. I wasn’t going to pry. I felt terrible enough being such a trouble on her. “You’ve helped me a lot.” I simply said. And I watched her trot away. She really was amazing… She needed to think better of herself. And I needed more humility. I looked at my costume, I took my keys, and opened the door, went to my room, stuffed my costume into my closet, never to be picked up again.

                              This was the end of Witch-Hand.

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