by Stephen Mellor
The 'Directors Cut'
(Note: This story occurs after ĎA Time Of Miraclesí from Crusaders Annual #1)
Well, the police eventually came. It took, like, a couple of days but, well, he wasnít always around and heíd stopped answering his phone when he was at home, what with all that recent... unpleasantness - with that girl, yíknow? I mean, the tabloids, they were being so nasty. His wife was standing beside him, so why couldnít anyone else.
I didnít actually see the body but I heard. It sounded really terrible,
they said his skull had been crushed. CRUSHED! What does it take to do
that? I reckon it must have been one of them super-people. So, what I want
to know is... if itís one of them, why arenít they looking for the murderer.
Whatís the use of having Captain UK and the Miracle Family and all the
rest, if they arenít going to do anything to stop other people who can
do these things. What? Oh, yeah, a gínít, thanks. So, anyway, Iím going
for another job tomorrow. Another personal assistant post in Parliament.
Iíll be working for Sir James. Yíknow Sir James Jaspers? Heís been around
for ages, even before Maggie, but heís always been happy to stay on the
backbenches. Heís got some real ideas about these super-powered people.
He says that theyíre all part of a big conspiracy. Theyíre all in it together
- Miracleman, the Vicious Boys, all of them. He says heís going to do something
about it. He wants to know what they are going to do about the Argies attacking
the Falkland Islands. And tell you what, Iíd like to know as well!
"I call this meeting of the Lawful Union of Britain to order on Tuesday the eighteenth of May, nineteen eighty two. In the chair is myself, MiraclemanÖ"
Mike Moran - Miracleman - sat at the head of the table, short, cropped blond hair and black eyebrows. His skintight blue and red costume, showed a well-muscled body. He had an unconscious air of strength and authority.
"also in attendance are Young MiraclemanÖ"
Dick Dauntlessís costume was basically the same as Mikeís, except in red and gold.
Linda McQuillan, an attractive, brown-haired woman wore a red, white and blue costume, suggestive of the Union Flag.
A barrel-chested, barrel-armed, primitive looking robot, with glowing eyes and a silver ĎAí insignia on his chest. Andy was the first and most successful creation of Professor Anton Simes.
A tall, blond haired man, dressed in a loose, black silk shirt and tight, black trousers. He was leaning back in his chair, booted feet on the table. As Miracleman called his name, he put down his magazine and looked up.
A woman, dressed in midnight blue armour. Her helmet was on the table next to her, revealing her spiky, close-cropped scarlet hair, purple eye-shadow, lipstick and a gold nose ring.
"And The OozeÖ"
A tall, thin, bald, black man wearing a grey T-shirt, scruffy blue jeans and a brown leather jacket.
"Apologies have been sent by The Talon, The Arachnid and Prestidigitator who, I understand, is in an alternate dimension fighting a demonic attack."
"Yes, Dicky, again. Anyway, item number one on the agenda. This spate of murders by an unknown, apparently super-powered person or persons. I assume you have all heard about the latest killing - the M.P. Mark Jameson. The government have asked for our help in catching the killer and I think we should help, if we can."
"Iíd like to know why we have to jump when the government tells us," Captain UK said, "Thatcheríll be demanding we go in to the Falklands next."
"I think we should be," said Tom Rosetta, "itís about time we showed these jumped-up little Hitlers that Britain looks after its own. We need to be careful about losing the rest of the Empire. And do you know something else? Itís you bloody socialists who are letting the foreigners get away with it."
"Look, both of you have very valid points, but, Linda, I really think we should investigate," Miracleman said, "This murder looks as if it was the work of someone Ė or something with some form of enhanced abilities."
"I just donít feel comfortable, doing the governments dirty work for them Ė canít their little pet supers do anything for them?" Linda replied.
"Oh, come on, Linda," Vendetta said, looking up from the piece of power-armour she had taken apart and strewn around her on the table, "Are you seriously expecting those tossers to actually do anything useful. I mean, MI9 are not what you could call the most efficient group of people in the world. Although, how they are meant to work with the money they get from the Government, I donít know. Not only is Joe Crane a total idiot, but as Transformer his abilities really leave a lot to be desired. And heís the best of the team. So, if anything is gonna get done, itís down to us, innit? Bloody government."
"I suppose youíre right, Jen, but I donít want this to become a regular thing, okay?" Linda said.
"Good God, Super-Socialist has actually listened to reason and democracy!" Tom Rosetta said.
Linda glared at him.
"Michael, Iím afraid there is something that I need to. Please let me know what you want me to do in this investigation."
She stood up from the table and strode out of the room.
Dick Dauntless Ė Young Miracleman Ė stood up and walked around the desk to where Tom Rosetta sat. Rosetta looked up at him.
"What?" Tom exclaimed, "Look, it was a joke. I was joking. God, canít anyone take a joke these days? Why is everyone so grim and gritty?"
Dick glared at him and said, coldly, "What you said was unnecessary and unkind. I suggest that you apologise to Linda the next time you see her and watch your mouth in the future."
"Yes, fine, sure. Of course, I will. I never meant to hurt her feelings. Sorry," Tom said, half-heartedly.
"Right," Miracleman said, "if everyone is quite finished? Good. The government has turned over these papers to us, detailing all the information on the case that they have so far discovered. MI9 have been investigating. The best information that they have managed to get is from Psi-boyís postcognitive abilities, which is, at best, sketchy. According to him, the assailant is non-human, large and very strong."
"Oh great, so who is going to volunteer to question the Jupiter Giant over its whereabouts on the night in question?" Vendetta asked.
"That is enough. Okay, they arenít as powerful or as well funded as we are, but that is no reason to keep on attacking them like this. They have done as well as they can," Miracleman could feel a headache coming on. Why was it always like this when super-heroes got together? Oh well, it could be worse, at least they were talking and not fighting.
"Sorry, MM," Vendetta said, "What are we going to do, then?"
"Tom and I will check through Jamesonís files to see if there is anything
in them that would lead to his murder. Andy and YM, you two have the best
relations with MI9 and the police. I want you to talk to them and see if
there is any information they have that hasnít been passed on top us. Ooze
and Vendetta, if you would check out the word on the street? Iíll tell
Captain UK what I want her to do. Is there any other business? No? Okay,
I declare this meeting closed. Thank you. Letís get to it."
Linda flew above the London streets, fuming. Why did she put up with his constant sniping and sarcasm? One of these days she was really going to let him have it. If it wasnít for Michael and Rick, she would never have joined the L.U.B. But it was their baby and she couldnít let them down, especially after everything they had done for her. And now this! If the L.U.B. was going to start doing things just because the Government asked them to do it, she wasnít going to stand for it. Okay, so maybe she was being a bit over the top. After all, it was a murder, but she just couldnít stop herself reacting so badly when it came to the Tories. And, as for the Falklands War Ė so far, it was just being fought with conventional weaponry, but if so much as one super-hero joined in then it would rapidly escalate until the whole island was decimated. It had happened before Ė just look at Cuba, or rather the smoking pile of rubble that used to be Cuba after Americaís Finest and the Soviet Peopleís Heroes were finished fighting over it.
As she flew, she kept up a sub-conscious survey of the streets below her. Flying over Regents Park she spotted a commotion next to the golden dome of the Mosque. Police cars and ambulances were parked, lights flashing and uniformed people running around. Flying down she landed next to the one person who looked as if she was in control of things. There was an almost overpowering coppery stench in the air. A lot of blood had been spilt very recently. The huge bronze double doors were buckled and dented.
"Sergeant," she said, "anything I can do?"
The sergeant, a short, slightly overweight woman with short-cropped black hair turned, saw Lindaís red, white and blue costume and then looked heavenwards as if to ask God why He had chosen today to pick on her.
"Oh great," she said in a gentle Welsh accent, "as if we havenít got enough trouble with bloody Tory-Boy and the rest of the Super-Secret Service."
"Tory-Boy? WhoísÖ" Linda started to say, but was interrupted by a shout from the Mosque.
"Hey you! Captain UK!" The voice had been trained by the finest public schools in the country. When ever she heard it, Linda felt her hackles rise. She turned to see Transformer standing at the main doors, resplendent in his black pin-stripe suit, pale blue shirt with white collar and cuffs and an Eton tie. His face was pale and he was sweating profusely, staining the white collar of his shirt.
"Yes, you, come here, woman. And you as well, Sergeant, er, what ever your name is."
Linda and the sergeant looked at each other and walked across to him.
"Itís Sergeant Thomas," said the sergeant, "Diane Thomas."
"What can we do for you, Joe?" asked Linda.
"Look, Iíve told you before, when weíre in public refer to me as Transformer. And, as Iíve also told you a million times, itís Joseph."
"Sorry, Joe," Linda said.
He glared at her.
"Anyway, what are you doing here? You arenít needed, we have everything under control and you can just go away. And as for you, Sergeant Thompson, I donít want you telling her anything. Got that?"
He turned around and went back in to the building.
The two women looked at each other again.
"God, somethingís managed to get right up his backside, hasnít it?"
Sergeant Thomas said, "So, do you want to get a cup of coffee and Iíll
tell you what you want to know."
"So, whatís happened? Why is Transformer so excited?" Linda asked.
"The Mosque. They were worshipping at the time. Christ, itís horrendous. And just when half our people are working on this mess with Jameson and the other murders."
"I want to see," Linda said, "Show me."
Linda stood in the entrance and just stared.
What was she seeing? She couldnít work it out. What was that? Oh. How many? How could Joe just stand there in the midst of it all? Isnít he affected by it? He must have been, Linda had never seen him looking so ill. She was finding a new respect for his ability to handle this. In all her time doing this Super-hero thing, she still couldnít get used to seeing death on such a large scale.
Linda saw a large hole knocked through the wall on the far side of the room and, not wanting to touch the ground of the defiled Mosque, floated across to it.
Looking out, she saw more police officers, searching the area and photographing everything they could. One man was examining a bloody mark on the ground. She flew across to him and alighted next to him. He glanced around and jerked in surprise when he saw her.
"Sorry," Linda said, "I didnít mean to startle you."
"Itís okay, I mean, I suppose I should have been expecting you or Miracleman or someone like that. This is the sort of mess that people like you like, isnít it?"
"I wouldnít say I particularly liked it. But, if you mean that we want to investigate this sort of thing, then youíre right," she said, carefully, "What is this, anyway?"
"I think itís a footprint," he said, "but itís unlike any print that Iíve come across before. Itís huge, fifteen inches long and the distance of it moves in one step suggests itís over seven feet tall. The depth that itís sunk into the grass suggests an enormous weight even for itís height. I donít know what to make of it. Iím just totally lost. Have you come across anything that fits the description?"
"I have never come across anything that would do this. I mean, there are people that are capable of it, but none of them would even consider killing that many people," Linda told him, "Most of them are just in it for money or power and theyíre in prison anyway and there havenít been any breakouts from Hawksmere recently."
She turned and, not wanting to pass through the interior again, flew over the roof of the Mosque to land next to Sergeant Thomas who was examining the buckled doors.
"What do you make of this?" she asked Linda, pointing to something that was stuck in one of the dents on the door.
Linda pulled off one of her gloves and gently picked at it with a fingernail. It was brown, and crumbly.
"Dry soil, of some sort?"
"Thatís what I thought," Sergeant Thomas replied and then called across a forensics officer.
"What do you make of that, Barney?" she asked the officer, a middle-aged man with greying, receding hair.
"Hmmm, interesting," Barney said, "it looks like clay. But there isnít any on the surface around here."
"Itís clay, then? Not just a piece of soil?" Linda asked.
"It makes a difference? Clay. Soil. Itís all just dirt," Sergeant Thomas said.
"Of course it makes a difference," Barney snapped, "if we can find out what sort of clay it is it could help us track down where our killer came from."
He pulled a plastic bag from his pocket and a scalpel and carefully scraped off a piece of clay from the door.
"Youíll keep me informed, wonít you?" Linda asked.
Sergeant Thomas grunted an affirmative and Linda took to the air.
Miracleman stood at the head of the table.
"I call this meeting of the Lawful Union of Britain to order on Saturday the twenty-ninth of May, nineteen eighty two. I, Miracleman, am in the chair. Also in attendance are Young Miracleman, Captain UK, Tom Rosetta, Vendetta, The Ooze, Prestidigitator and The Arachnid . Apologies have been sent by Android Andy and The Talon who are investigating a bank robbery conducted by General Satan. Well, weíve been investigating these murders for almost two weeks now and we still donít have anything further to add."
"Yeah, if we donít do something soon, MI9 will be talking about us," Ooze said, with a laugh.
Suddenly, a siren started to scream. Chairs were thrown back as the heroes leapt to their feet.
"What the hellÖ?" Tom Rosetta shouted.
"Itís the emergency signal," Linda replied as she ran over to the computer.
Looking at the monitor, as the information scrolled up the screen, her face drained of colour.
"Oxford Street. Oh, God. Itís Oxford Street," she whispered.
"Prez, teleport yourself there and let us know whatís happening. Young,
Cap Ė fly with me now, everyone else follow as quickly as you can," Miracleman
took charge in his usual calm manner.
Oxford Circus was a mess. Cars and buses were overturned. Fire was spreading through the buildings and threatening to spread along the entire street. Hundreds of people lay in the street, some moaning, others silent. A few people were hiding behind the twisted metal wrecks of the cars, too afraid to move.
Linda, Mike and Dick stood on the roof of one of the buildings, surveying the scene. Their brightly coloured costumes stood out against the grey, threatening sky, the white of Lindaís costume and the gold of Dickís almost shining. Mike was talking into his wrist-communicator.
"What can you see, Prez?" he asked.
Prestidigitatorís curt tones came from the communicator.
"Not a lot, MM. Bodies, burning cars and rubble. I canít see what did it."
"Okay, keep a watch down there, weíll look from up here."
"Wait, thereís something coming up from the tube station. Itís huge, itís covered in blood. It looks like itís got some sort of tattoo on itís forehead. What has it done down there?"
"Itís at the tube station. Letís go," Mike said.
The three heroes leapt into the sky and streaked down the street towards
Prestidigitator ran out into the middle of the street. His black, silken cloak billowed out behind him and his top hat fell from his head as he ran.
The creature was enormous. It was vaguely humanoid in shape - it had two arms, two legs and a head, but other than that there was nothing that could be called human about it. The skin didnít look like flesh Ė where it could be seen clearly under the wash of blood, it looked to be dull brown with a network of hair-thin cracks across it. Its face was featureless except for eyes that glowed a sickly green and a lipless slash in place of a mouth.
Prestidigitator confronted the behemoth and lifted a hand towards it. He chanted a spell in a tone that was too low to hear.
A coruscating light leapt from his outstretched arm towards the blood-drenched creature. The light hit it, illuminating itís emotionless features before disappearing.
"What? Whatís happened?" he whispered in surprise and anger.
Whilst Prestidigitator stood rooted to the spot in shock, the creature crossed the space between them. It grasped his head in one hand and lifted him off the ground. It took hold of his body and then twisted. There was a creak, a muffled cry and then a gentle snap.
Linda flew swiftly down the street ahead of the two Miraclemen. Seeing the creature drop the Prestidigitator, her face hardened and she surged forwards. The explosion of noise as she shattered the sound barrier knocked both men into the walls.
A crystalline waterfall of glass was still falling to the ground as Linda hit the creature in the chest. Its body exploded, head flying upwards and legs falling to the ground.
By the time she slowed down enough to turn and get back, Mike and Dick had both landed.
Dick gently picked up Prestidigitatorís body whilst Mike examined the head of the creature.
Linda and Dick looked at each other. Neither one could find any words to say. Mike walked across to them, holding the creatures head in one hand.
"What was it, some sort of android?" Linda asked, glad of the chance to turn away from Prestidigitatorís twisted corpse.
"Not really," Michael replied, "do you see these symbols on its forehead? Itís Hebrew. It says ĎEmethí. It means truth. This thing is a golem."
TO BE CONTINUED
E-mail your comments, thoughts and constructive feedback to Stephen Mellor
Thanks to Jean Rogers for valuable editorial advice and criticism. Visit her web-page ĎThe Shadow Galleryí at http://homepages.enterprise.net/jeanandroger/comics/. Itís great.