(( Much like Bolty, I know we weren't setting these in Advent, but I thought it would be fun. ))
Before we get started with this month's installment, a quick word from the King:
This month we have a special guest writer for you to enjoy, Loyal Subjects! Widely celebrated film producer and actor, Gavin Jones has graciously agreed to step in to write this month's issue for us. You may be familiar with Gavin's work on many of his own films such as Seeking Amber. Now, relax as Gavin takes us on a ride he likes to call...
Early evening was always an enjoyable time of night, but especially on a Friday. Scores of people flooded the sidewalks, filling the air with the sound of merriment as they enjoyed the end of their working week with their friends and colleagues. They drifted into and out of a variety of bars along Tavern Alley in Advent City's entertainment district. It was a good time of night to be a hero. People were still happy, but hadn't yet drunk enough to start doing stupid things or to fall prey to those doing stupid things. It was time to relax.
High above Tavern Alley, one such hero sat upon a gargoyle that jutted out from a high-rise. His eyes scanned the streets below from time to time, but he wasn't concerned with patrolling right now. Like the crowds below, it was time for him to relax and enjoy the calm before the storm. He sat with his back propped up against the building, his legs resting along the gargoyle's back and his large, bat-like wings extended out fully to either side of his body. In his brown-furred arms rested a Gibson Flying V, being quietly strummed through some chord practice. The soft tones of his strumming joined the sounds of merriment below. The sounds of drinking salaried workers were picked up by his hypersensitive ears, snippets of conversations, glasses clinking, people laughing, pool balls clacking together as darts thunked into the soft dartboards and a Woodrow Wilstoch cover band started the opening riff to The Future is Comin'.
The Freaky Noisebomb paused his practice at the sound of the song and started to play along. He opened his elongated mouth to the clear evening sky and began to amplify the tones of his guitar, bellowing the classic rebel anthem into the night. Some of the people walking along the streets below began to stare up into the sky, looking for the source of the music. He continued to play after the band had finished the song, shifting into another song, one he'd written in high school. If he had nothing else, at least Chad Jefferson still had his music to rely on. The lyrics burned through his mind as he played, reminding him of the Chad he once was, the carefree, invincible youth.
He dramatically increased the volume as he blasted into his guitar solo, overshadowing the band for many of those walking along the street many stories beneath him. He dropped a killer E-major moments before the unmistakable crunch of shattering glass a few blocks away intruded on his quiet night. He stopped mid-solo, eliciting a displeased sound from the crowd below, but he needed all his attention for a moment. There were only a few outcomes from breaking glass. Either someone had already had too much and broken something, a member of the bar staff made a mistake, a bar fight was breaking out or... something else. The next few seconds of sound would tell him what one it was. They would tell him if his relaxing evening was about to become infinitely less relaxing.
He scowled as he heard the crack of gunfire ringing out from roughly the same place as the shattering glass. His evening was about to become infinitely less relaxing. He slung his guitar over his shoulder, adjusting it so that it sat along his spine, resting between his wings as he spread them outward. He dropped forward, falling towards the ground to gain some momentum before spreading his wings again, catching the air and propelling him at speed along Tavern Alley. The sight of an enormous man-shaped bat silhouette caused the crowds who were taking the time to look upward to gasp audibly, but he wasn't interested in winning popularity contests right now. His ears twitched as he tried to hone in on the sporadic bursts of gunfire. He banked left, swinging down an alleyway and catching a gentle updraft, increasing his altitude. His ears continued to twitch more and more before suddenly zeroing in on a target.
A slightly taller building than the others around it was the source of the gunfire. It had clearly been rebuilt after the fire in a far more modern style than the buildings around it, glistening with mirrored windows and chrome. Without an easy way to see in, there was only one way to verify what he'd heard. The Noisebomb raised both furred arms to protect his face and slammed into the window with full force. Shards of glass tinkled to the ground around him as he tumbled head-first into the room, to the startled and surprised looks of cowering people in cocktail dresses and suits.
Chad stood up and took stock of the situation, worried for a moment that he'd crashed the wrong party. It was then that he noted three goons with semi-automatic weapons moving amongst the crouched party guests, brandishing sacks full of diamonds and valuables. Six more stood around the outside of the party, focusing their weapons on any guests that thought they might like to take advantage of the distraction. At the center of the room, what must have once been a spectacular crystal punch bowl now lay shattered on the ground, the red punch staining the carpet under the scattered shards of crystal and fruit. In its place on the table, there stood a tall man with his arms spread wide, wearing a black domino mask and a set of tights that left nothing of his well-muscled form to the imagination. The colours shifted on his tights in a disorienting manner, seeming to have no discernible pattern. His biceps bulged at the fabric as he held his arms outstretched and a smile broke his face.
"Welllllll gentlemen. It looks like we have a party crasher. Other than ourselves that is! Go ahead sir, introduce yourself." he held his hand out to the Noisebomb, inviting him to speak.
"ME? I'M THE NOISEBOMB" he responded, standing proudly as he looked over the assembled hoodlums, trying to come up with a plan in his head.
"Theeee Noisebomb? Well, it looks like The Noisebomb needs to find his inside voice. Gentlemen? What do we do with intruders?"
The Noisebomb's hearing caught the sound of nine weapons being cocked and readied to fire. He sprung away from the shattered window, hiding expertly behind a stone statue as bullets thunked down into it, sending chips of marble spraying across the room. Over the constant chipping of stone and explosions of gunpowder, Chad was just able to hear the man's voice ring out again.
"How careless of me, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Post-Production, at your service."
Thoughts ran through the Noisebomb's head as he considered his options. He let out a quick hypersonic screech, just enough to distract people and popped his furred face around the side of the statue. Everyone in the middle of the room was shaking their head, the gunmen, the hostages and Post-Production. The gunmen circling the crowd, however were completely unaffected by the sonic assault and continued to fire. Chad noticed just in time to take cover behind the statue again as bits of plaster started bursting out from the wall behind him. It was then that he noticed the first anomaly. The sounds of gunfire weren't actually coming from the barrels of the guns, but a few inches below that. It took a moment for him to figure out why, but the pieces fell into place as he noticed that the gunmen on the outside of the circle only seemed to be able to hit the wall.
"... THEY'RE NOT REAL." the Noisebomb attempted to whisper.
Realising he'd blown any surprise that he'd managed to earn, he jumped into action, shoving the statue away from him and allowing it to topple forward onto the ground. He spread his wings and jumped onto the fallen statue, retrieving the Flying V from his back as he did so.
"HEY BOYS. YOU DIDN'T LET ME FINISH MY SOLO."
With that, he blasted out the last few notes of his chord progression, using his voice to amplify the sound and directing it at each of the gunmen in turn. The three in the middle were sent soaring through the air, their sacks of stolen goods flying, showering gold and jewels onto the hostages. One by one the men hit the wall with a solid kludd and slumped into unconsciousness. He slammed his hand across the strings one last time to strum out a final chord, using his voice to spread it across the room in a wide burst. Everyone in the room staggered back a step except the six gunmen standing on the outside of the group. They opened fire on him, but Chad, confident in his new knowledge ignored them, focusing on Post-Production himself.
"I KNOW YOUR LITTLE TRICK, BRO."
Post-Production glared back with a sneer, hopping from the table with a short, jaunty step. The gunmen surrounding the room began to disappear slowly, leaving only the hostages, three unconscious henchmen and Post-Production himself.
"Verrrrry clever Mr. Noisebomb. But if you think that's my only trick, you're very much mistaken."
The muscular villain snapped his fingers and the lights in the room went out instantly, only to very quickly be replaced with a series of flashing lights in a range of colours. When the lights came back on, The Noisebomb was completely surrounded by Post-Production. Seventeen copies of the grinning man stood around him, all looking completely identical and all staring at him menacingly, with nothing but blackness beyond the ring of copies.
"It's verrrrry simple, you see. You desperately flail for your life, then one of us chokes the life out of you. No more hero, I get my diamonds, everyone's happy."
The Noisebomb's ears perked up at the sound, trying to pinpoint the speaker, but to no avail. The noise seemed to come from all directions at once. Whoever this Post-Production guy was, he was good. But the Noisebomb wasn't out of tricks yet. He let out a scream that bounced around the area. Post-Production chuckled at him.
"Isssss that all you have, Mr. Noisebomb? What can you trust when you can't trust your own eyes?"
The Noisebomb swung his Flying V like a true axe, bringing it crashing into the side of the true Post-Production's head. The illusions dropped as the muscular villain coughed up a mouthful of blood and fell to the ground in agony. The Noisebomb inspected the damage to the guitar as the room returned to normal around him. He leaned forward and offered Post-Production a toothy grin.