Confrontation

She drifted slowly in and out of consciousness, floating in an empty sea. There were times when she hovered just below the surface, hearing voices overhead. She was tired. She could feel her body's weariness. But slowly, she felt it lessen, and strength gradually returning to her. She began to move upwards, towards the bubbles of dim light and tinny sound.

"Dude! She's waking up!"

"Helen! Heeelen!"

"Are you awake? Can you hear us?"

-----

Helen's eyes flickered open.

"What…what happened? Where am I?"

Alicia's face floated above her vision, slightly fuzzy and out of focus.

"You're safe, honey. Back at The Casa."

"Dude! You totally saved our lives and ported us out of Chrone's base – it was so awesome! But…uh… then you kinda collapsed. And, um, you just woke up."

She gingerly sat up, looking round at the room she was in. With a start she realised there was a drip fastened into her arm.

"The medical bay? But…why…how long have I been out for?"

"Just over a week." William was sitting on top of a nearby cabinet. "Are you feeling quite recovered?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Just a little bit…odd. Was I in a coma or something? I mean… a week?"

"We were majorly worried about you." Alicia handed her a thermometer. "Put this in your mouth."

Sighing, Helen did so.

"But," she said, around the thermometer, "I mean, back at the mansion, how did Chrone know we were coming? The email said -"

"We know." William was glaring into the middle distance, "But that message was not sent by Munroe."

"What? …but then… who sent us it?"

"We don't know."

"Can't they trace it or something?"

Zach shook his head.

"Munroe doesn't have the clearance to investigate it. She banned us from investigating it too."

"But we-"

"Thermometer."

Helen handed it back to Alicia.

"But we were almost killed! That makes no sense! Why can't we investigate?"

"The email was sent from a top-security government computer. That means someone in the upper-government is working for Chrone."

Zach rested his chin on his knees morosely.

"Good, you're normal." Alicia rinsed off the thermometer and put it away. Helen leaned back against her pillows, her mind in shock.

"…There's a traitor in the government?"

"Yes." Said William darkly, "It explains why Brind wasn't evacuated. Someone made sure that the orders never went through."

"I… I don't get it…why would?…I'm so confused."

"You should get some rest." Alicia patted her on the back sympathetically. "You need to regain your strength."

"But I want to –" she yawned, "get up."

"Too bad. Go to sleep."

-----

The next time she woke up, Rik was sitting beside her.

"Hey, Hels, How ya doin'?"

"I'm okay." She smiled at him.

"Good. Cause if you weren't I'd hunt down that bozo Chrone and kick his sorry butt all the way to next year."

She giggled.

"I see you're just the same. Everyone else seems mega-stressed."

"Cabin fever."

"Huh?"

"Munroe grounded us. We're not allowed to leave The Casa."

"What?!"

"Heh. Yeah, well, you missed the big fireworks. Just after we got back Munroe and Bird Boy got in a huge fight: yellin' at each other and stuff. I'm tellin' you, it was crazy."

"Over the email?"

"Yeah. Seems the government could easily find out who it was, maybe already have. But are they gonna do anything about it, even tell us who it was? Hell no. 'Course, when Munroe told us that, Bird Boy went spare. I don't think I've ever seen the guy so mad, not even when he was trying to kill me." Rik sighed.

"Of course, Munroe won in the end. Said she couldn't do anything and that was that. Said we weren't allowed to do anything either. That we've just gotta be careful and stay put. I guess she's worried that we'll try to find out who it is if we're allowed outside."

"Someone tried to kill us!"

"Yeah. Well, one thing's for sure, we were right in thinking that Munroe's hiding stuff from us."

She nodded, then gasped as she was overcome by a wave of dizziness.

"Hey, stay with me, Helen."

"I'm okay, Rik." She forced her eyes open again and smiled at him. "Seriously."

"Hmm. Sure. I believe you. So…" he leaned back in the chair, "Well done, by the way. You're the hero of the hour."

She sighed.

"I'm no hero."

"Sure you are. If it wasn't for you, we'd all be gassed."

"Yeah, but…that was a fluke. The thing is, I've been thinking and…I…I don't know if I'm…well…cut out to be a superhero…"

Rik frowned and placed a hand on her forehead.

"Oh no! You must be still sick! You're delirious!"

She shoved his hand away.

"I'm being serious, Rik."

"So am I. What do you mean "I'm not cut out to be a superhero"? Are you kidding me or something?"

"No! I…I'm no good at it. Sure I can turn invisible and stuff but, well, you said it yourself; I'm no good at using my powers –"

"Helen, I was mad when I said that – I didn't really mean it."

"But it's true! I mean, I can't fight, I can't disable a bomb, I'm not even any good at infiltration. I'm supposed to save other people…but I'm always the one who needs to be saved."

She felt her throat close up, tears beginning to fill the corners of her eyes.

"And…all those people…"

"In Brind?"

"Yeah, but also those soldiers in the helicopter…they died…and I was responsible…" she closed her eyes.

"They were living breathing people, like you and me, and I killed them."

"No Helen. You've got it all wrong. It was their choice to work for Chrone – their choice. We were just trying to save all the innocent people that live here. I know you feel guilty, we all do, in a way. But it would be worse if we hadn't done anything, do you see? It's like…" he thought for a moment. ."It's like, everything in our lives comes down to a choice. Those men chose to help someone who was totally twisted. They chose to help him try and kill hundreds of innocent people. We had a choice too. A choice to hide and let him get away with it, or a choice to stand up and try and stop him. You're right, you're not a hero. None of us are heroes. We're just the people standing up in the crowd and making choices."

She sighed, looking down at the bed.

"In any case, I'm just not good enough. Maybe I should leave."

"No. Look Hels, I – "

There was the sound of someone clearing their throat. They both looked up to see William standing in the doorway.

"Alicia sensed you were awake, Helen, and sent me down with some food. Do you, uh, wish for me to return later?"

"No, William, it's fine."

Rik stood up and began to walk towards the door. He and William paused in front on each other. Eventually William nodded to the other boy in acknowledgement.

"Rik." He said in a neutral voice.

"Bird-boy." Rik replied in the same tone. They looked at each other for another second before stepping aside. Rik halted at the doorway, and turned round.

"I'll be back later, Helen, and then we're gonna talk about this, okay?"

"Okay." She nodded, and he turned and walked away.

William cautiously approached the bed and set a bowl down carefully on the table beside Helen.

"What is it?"

"Beef Pottage."

"Oh…what's pottage?"

He smiled and sat down on the same seat Rik had recently vacated.

"It's generally similar to a stew, though this turned out rather more like a broth. My apologies."

"You made this?" she asked in astonishment, a smile creeping over her face.

"Yes." He looked a little puzzled "Is something amusing?"

"No, no. I guess I just never pictured you as someone who was good in a kitchen…"

"I spent a lot of time there when I was younger."

"Oh."

"My nurse was old friends with the cook. She used to take me down there in the mornings, especially in the winter. It was the warmest place in the whole house."

A little taken aback by this anecdote from her introverted team leader, Helen gulped down a spoonful, then blinked in surprise.

"You know," She said, after swallowing, "That tastes really nice. You should cook more often."

"It is actually Zach's turn to make dinner, but I thought it would be safer for you to have pottage. I would not want your recovery to be set back."

"Is he that bad?"

"Yes. I feel sorry for the others."

"Even Rik?"

He laughed softly and nodded.

"Even Rik."

"Wow. Zach's cooking must be bad. Thanks for sparing me."

"You are most welcome."

He twiddled his fingers nervously in his lap as she swallowed another few spoonfuls, and she watched him out the corner of her eye. His face was slightly more weather-beaten and worn than most males his age, but he didn't have the same intensity as usual, and she suddenly noticed how very young he looked.

"Helen?" he asked.

"Yeah?"

"I, uh, I heard you and Rik talking."

"Oh."

"Is…is that how you honestly feel?"

She put down the spoon and sighed.

"Well…yeah. It's true, isn't it? I'm useless."

"I do not think so."

She didn't reply, and he continued awkwardly.

"The…reason I am asking is because…well…if you wished it…I could…train you…in combat. One on one."

"Really?"

"Yes. It would be difficult, and probably quite painful and exhausting, but if you wish to learn how to fight…"

"I do."

"If I agreed to train you, would you stay?"

She bit her lip thoughtfully, then nodded.

"Yeah, I would."

"Cool." He paused for a moment. "Was that used in the correct context?"

"Yes, well done." She smiled.

"I am glad. I find it difficult to use your colloquial language."

"You're doing fine."

"Thank you. Now eat; you must build up your strength. Your training starts as soon as you are fully recovered."

-----

Zach squinted into the computer monitor, his fingers a blur above the keyboard. He looked up briefly as the door opened.

"Hey William. Pull up a chair."

"Hello Zach."

"How was training?"

William stretched, his wing tips extending up to brush the ceiling of the small, dark corner of the basement.

"It was fine. Helen has greatly improved over the past several days."

"Cool."

Zach continued to type, his fingers unhindered by the enormous gloves he was wearing.

"So, um, what are you doing?" William asked curiously, looking at the mass of circuitry and cables growing out of the half-open computer case.

"I'm just fine tuning her. I've upgraded lots of the components with better ones I got out of government research departments."

"Are you sure you're allowed to do that?"

"Why not? We work for them, don't we?"

"I suppose so."

There was a small silence.

"So," Zach said eventually, "How long until Helen's a kung-fu expert?"

William smiled slightly.

"She is doing well, considering how weak she has been. Her training has been set-back somewhat due to that. It has taken her a while to fully regain her strength after her…experience."

"Yeah." Said Zach glumly.

"Any new messages from Munroe?"

"Nup, we're still grounded."

William sighed. This was useless. Munroe would never be permitted to uncover who it was. Or perhaps she already had, and just wasn't telling them for her own reasons.

After all, how hard could it be to…

He paused as an idea came to him.

"…Zach?" he asked slowly.

"…Yes?" the other boy's voice was cautious.

"Is that new computer good?"

"Are you kidding?! She rocks, dude! She is totally awesome!"

"Could you use it – I mean, uh, her – to hack into somewhere?"

"Of course, dude!"

"And trace things?"

"Faster than you can say Mad Ninja Skills!"

"Even…emails?"

Zach stopped typing suddenly and froze, his fingers hovering above the keys.

"Dude, we're not allowed to investigate it, remember?"

"We're not investigating it! You are simply…" he paused for moment "…teaching me valuable life skills so I can be easily integrated into your society as a healthy functioning individual."

"Oh." Zach grinned, cracking his knuckles, "When you put it like that, how can I not?"

"Precisely. So, can you track, say, the last email that was sent to us from a government computer?"

"No problem. Now let's see…" the keyboard clicked rapidly and William watched with mild interest.

"Aha! Got the user's ID number. Now if I hack into the government system and type in this number, we should find out who they are and – " Zach blinked in consternation.

"Wait a minute. This can't be right…"

"What? Who is it?"

Zach wordlessly pushed his chair away from the desk, and William squinted at the computer screen.

"…him?! He works for Chrone?! He betrayed us?!"

William stood up, his fists balled at his sides and his jaw clenched. Zach jumped to his feet, lowering his hands in a calming fashion.

"Okay, dude, we need to stay cool and in control here. Let's – let's not get carried away. Take deep breaths! Count to ten!"

"That treacherous swine! I will cut out his lying tongue and put it in a jar!"

"Let's not do anything rash now, dude!"

The other boy snarled and slammed his fist down onto the desk.

"Print off his address." He said, his voice tight with rage, "We're going to pay Eros Crowe a visit!"

-----

"Here's our stop." Alicia stood up and pressed the Open Doors button as the monorail drew to a halt. The team walked out the station and onto Spurriston road, the main street which ran the whole way along the east side of the city.

"Where is his residence located?" asked William, swallowing and looking around. There were a fair number of expensive cars parked beside the detached houses, and trees were planted every so often, taking away the hard, unnatural edge which was prevalent in much of the inner-city.

"It's down this way. I know this part of town pretty well. My dad lives near here."

"Your parents split up?" asked Helen.

Rik nodded.

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay. We're well shot of him. He's a jerk."

Ah, it's hereditary, thought William dryly.

The path they took led them down through some side-streets, and the areas they passed through swiftly deteriorated from middle class homes into a mixture of overgrown, abandoned lots, burnt out telephone boxes and welfare housing. They stopped in front of a set of grey flats which were covered in graffiti.

"Here we are."

"What number is he?" asked Alicia. Zach shrugged.

"It didn't say."

"Can I help you?" an older woman was walking up to the door carrying a shopping bag.

"Um. Yes, ma'am. We're looking for Eros Crowe, and we have reason to believe he resides here…?" William surreptitiously edged around to try and hide his wings.

"Oh, Mr Crowe. Yes, I know him. He lives in the flat above mine – number thirteen."

"Ironic…" muttered Helen. Oanna nodded. The woman peered at them over her glasses and smiled.

"Is he having a costume party?"

The team exchanged looks.

"Um. Yes." Said Alicia eventually.

"That's nice. What are you kids meant to be?"

"We are seeking revenge upon an evil traitor." Said Oanna coldly.

The woman laughed.

"Oh, I'm too old to get these pop culture references. My grandchildren could probably recognise you; they seem to spend all their time watching TV. Well, you kids enjoy yourselves."

She unlocked the door.

"Second floor, on the left."

"My thanks unto thee, ma'am. May your descendants be both numerous and honourable." William half-bowed to her before following the others up the stairs.

"Why, thank you, dear. Tell Eros Mrs Millston was asking after him!"

-----

Alicia knocked three times on the door. It was wooden, and painted black. There was a small letterbox mid-way up.

"Hello? Crowe?"

No answer.

"Well, I guess no-one's home. Maybe we should head back and –" Helen jumped, turning invisible, as Rik punched a large hole in the door. He stuck his arm in and unlocked it. It swung open to reveal a dingy hallway with a threadbare carpet.

They strode into the flat, looking around for any possible traps. It was empty. Stark walls devoid of pictures lurked above stained carpets and dusty furniture.

"Looks like someone hasn't been spring-cleaning." Commented Rik.

"Does he own anything?" asked Alicia.

"Look." Oanna was across the hall, in a small room. There was an open window overlooking the street, but piles and piles of paper littered the floor.

"What is all this?" Helen, still invisible, nudged one with her boot, sending pages scattering across the carpet.

"This is a newspaper clipping about that huge storm four months ago." Said Alicia, examining a scrap of yellowed paper.

William took it off of her and read it, his forehead wrinkling.

"That was when I came here."

"And look, these are weather charts of the past few months, and some more newspaper clippings. Hey, what's this? It feels really old, like parchment or something. It's covered in doodles."

"Those are runes." Said William, squinting at them.

"Can you read them?"

"No."

"That's helpful." Muttered Rik.

"Shh. I hear something." Oanna had the side of her head pressed against a door, her eyes half shut in concentration.

"What is it?" whispered Zach.

"It sounds like…chanting."

William walked up to the door and put his hand over the handle. He glanced back at the rest of the team, who all nodded.

In one swift motion he turned the handle and flung the door open. The room had no windows, and the lights were all turned off. Candles were arranged in a circle, and the smell of burning incense filled the air.

Crowe was standing just outside the circle with his back to the team. He was wearing some kind of dark hooded robe and had a thick, worn, leatherbound book open in one hand. Slowly he turned round and regarded them with a glassy, calculating stare.

"Ah. So you finally decided to disobey your orders. You're too late, regardless."

"Why are you working for Chrone?!" demanded William.

"My dear children, you must be even more dense than I thought you were. I'm certainly not working for Chrone."

"Yes you are!" blurted out Helen, "You betrayed us! We almost died!"

He chuckled. It was a thin, unnatural sound.

"Let me be more specific, as you seem unable to work it out on your own. I'm not working for Chrone. I am Chrone."

"What?" gasped Oanna.

"No way." Rik snorted, "Chrone hires soldiers, and helicopters, and freaky minions like you. He must be loaded. If you're him, why are you living in this dump?"

"I wouldn't expect a blind clod like you to understand. However, I suppose it could not hurt to enlighten you…

The land this block of flats is built on was once a site of great power. A temple was built here, a repository for an energy source you cannot possibly comprehend. The power source is gone, taken away millennia ago, but the ripples of its passing remain." He rolled his head back and half shut his eyes, "I can feel them, faint but lingering upon this wretched heap of brick and plaster."

"Okay, it's official." Rik threw his hands up in the air, "There's someone even more screwy than Bird Boy."

"Shut up!" snapped William.

"You shut up!"

"Both of you shut up!" Alicia hissed, "Now is not the time!"

"On the contrary, my dear children. Now is the time. The time where all my careful planning will come to fruition. And, unfortunately for you, the point at which your time runs out."

Seeing red, William went to leap forward at Crowe, but the man thrust out a hand and suddenly William froze in mid-air. He struggled, but couldn't even twitch a muscle. The rest of the team were similarly held immobile behind him.

"Oh, please. Did you really expect that you'd be able to burst in and arrest me?" Crowe laughed, his eyes glowing in amusement.

"I am not some petty criminal you can defeat with your weakling powers, you pathetic throw-backs."

"What are you talking about?!" snarled Rik.

"You wouldn't understand. Your minds are far too simple."

"Who are you calling simple?!" Zach sounded indignant.

Crowe shook his head, still smiling.

"You have no idea how frustrated I've been. I once controlled the very fabric of time and space, but I was so weak when I escaped to this vulgar city, it took all my remaining powers just to shape an identity and occupation for myself. I learned how easy it was to twist and manipulate the minds of others, even without my former powers. I believe you've met Mirror?"

He smirked, but then his expression turned sour.

"Even so, it was humiliating. Me. A mortal!" he spat in disgust.

"And then I discovered you!"

He set the book down, and began to pace back and forth in front of the team, as if tracing a pattern he had walked many times before.

"I arranged to be made the partner of the idiot Munroe, so that I would be privy to what went on in your little team. It made me sick, knowing that even repulsive mongrels such as yourselves had greater power than I. It's a shame my little trap didn't exterminate you, but at least it taught me not to underestimate my enemies…"

He turned and glared at Helen, who cowered before his disturbing stare.

"No matter how weak they appear!"

"So what are you gonna do now?!" growled Rik, "We know who you are! You're over, you're gonna spend the rest of your life in jail!"

Crowe threw back his head and laughed loudly. It was a raspy, grating sound.

"Ah, Richard, so very confident and so very amusing."

"Hey! Don't call me that! My name's not Richard! It's Rik! Without a C!" declared Rik, his eyes flashing defiantly.

Crowe smirked.

"Very well, Rik without a C. It doesn't matter what you know! I'm leaving this pathetic world. If I return, it will only be to finish what I started two and a half millennia ago!"

"What are you talking about?" exclaimed Zach, "Even if other worlds exist, you can't just jump between them!"

Oh contraire, foolish boy! I can do whatever I wish now have this…"

He slowly took his hand out his pocket. He was holding a familiar looking shard of crystal.

"No! The power crystal! But…It was buried beneath the warehouse!" protested Oanna.

Crowe smiled.

"So you thought. Once that useless Convosa proved that this was indeed part of the original crystal, I retrieved it from the wreck of the warehouse. And now that I have it within my possession, and stand upon such a powerful ancient site, I can bypass the unfortunate problem of the lack of energy in this world. Power is once more within my grasp."

"What?" asked Alicia in confusion.

"Oh, but before I leave, there's something I'd like you -" he pointed at William, "to know!"

He walked towards William until they were centimetres apart, and the boy could feel Crowe's hot, raspy breath on his face.

"I may not have had the powers to control your mind, but I could still hear all your thoughts, you scrawny little runt! And so I take great pleasure in telling you this: You know that storm? The one that swirled you up like a piece of litter and dropped you in this dead-end dimension? The one that that stole you away from your mummy and daddy and left you all alone and scared?! The one that still gives you nightmares so that you wake up screaming and covered in a cold sweat?! …It was me!"

He bared his teeth in a manic grin, eyeball to eyeball with William, who could feel his heart pumping so loud in his ears that he wanted to scream.

No. That cannot be. No. No!

"Yes! It was I! It was my passage through time and space that caused the storm! You were sucked up into the backlash of my powers like a leaf being blown from a tree! It's because of me that you're here!"

He snickered, the stench of his fetid breath making William want to gag.

"I merely thought you should know that…" he whispered softly into the boy's ear, "So you know who to thank for your new home…"

William gritted his teeth, feeling a wave of such hate and fury wash over his mind that all his rational thoughts were swept away.

"I will kill you!" he snarled, straining against Crowe's hold, "I swear! No matter what it takes! I will hunt you down and tear you apart!"

Crowe laughed, taking a few steps backwards.

"Been there, done that. Like I said, manipulating people is so easy. Perhaps if Munroe hadn't had you beneath her thumb I would have recruited you as one of my followers. But that doesn't matter – I'll take much more pleasure out of killing you."

William, he could feel Alicia brushing against his mind, trying to soothe his rage and frustration, Calm down. It's okay. Just calm down. You're playing right into his hands. He wants you to feel like this. Don't give in.

"Now, if you don't mind, I've wasted enough time already. I need to finish the ritual."

Crowe turned round again, and, sweeping up the open book again, raised his arms up into the air. He began to chant, reading an incantation from the book in his hand, but his voice sounded warped and deep, like it was spilling forth from somewhere else. William struggled desperately to move, but was still being held immobile. With each syllable Crowe's voice grew stronger and louder, and William felt a pain begin to develop in his head, like a huge pressure building up inside his skull. He shut his eyes and gritted his teeth. The words sounded hideous and unnatural, like parasites crawling beneath his skin. He threw his head from side to side, trying to block out the noise.

The chanting rose to a crescendo then abruptly Crowe fell silent. Gasping for breath, William watched in horror as Crowe put down the book, raised the crystal shard high and then began to cut into his arm with it.

"With this blood, I bind thee." He intoned, "And bend thee to mine will."

He held out his lacerated arm, letting the blood drip thickly onto the carpet. He kissed the bloodied shard, then with a violent stabbing motion thrust it into the air in front of him. It stuck in place, a light beginning to emanate from within. The light was red, the same deep colour as the fresh blood staining the gem. It warped and grew, forming a glowing portal and painting the room a sickly crimson.

"Yes! Oh yes!" Crowe roared gleefully. "It worked!"

"No!" screamed Oanna, shutting her eyes and straining against Chrone's grip. Pain rippled through her body, but she resisted long enough to fire a blast out from her fingertips. It impacted with the crystal, shattering it into a thousand pieces.

The portal immediately began to waver, its light flickering.

Chrone turned to them, his teeth bared in rage, flecks of blood splattered across his face.

"What have you done?! There was only one shard! Only one!"

"It was your fault I was captured! You hired Convosa! It was all because of you!" she screamed back at him, her eyes burning with fury.

"I swear by my own soul" Crowe grated out, his face twisted beyond human recognition, "By my own blood and by my own breath; I will return and I will slaughter each and every one of you filthy mongrels! I will obliterate anyone who dares oppose me! So swear I by the power of the Spring!"

Fumbling down towards the book with his free hand, he turned and reached out towards the portal with his bloodied arm, crooning under his breath in the same repulsive language he had used before. It flickered, tendrils of light snaking out to brush his fingertips. Then, a huge wave of red light exploded towards him, engulfing his body in its thick glow. Abruptly it was sucked back into the dying portal, which began to shrink and shrivel up. Crowe had disappeared.

Movement suddenly flooded back into William's limbs, and he lurched forward.

"Don't let him escape!" he yelled hoarsely, as he stumbled forward towards the gateway. It flared up as he approached, as if it could sense him, and he was swallowed by another burst of light.

"Wait!" Zach ran after William, and in an instant was also gone.

Wordlessly, Oanna and Alicia both stepped into the gateway, vanishing swiftly and abruptly into the fading pool of light. Helen looked over at Rik, panic written across her face, and he sighed.

"I can't believe I'm doing this. Come on!"

With a last brief flare of light which consumed them both, the portal shrank down until it was the size of a fingerprint, then faded.

The room fell eerily silent, tiny slivers of crystal glinting in the wavering candle-light. A small breeze blew through from an open window in the room next door, and extinguished each of the candles one by one. Down below Mrs Millston began to unpack her shopping, and spoke soothingly to her cat. The poor thing was terrified, huddled under the table and refusing to come out. She shivered suddenly, a wave of coldness brushing against her. It passed just as swiftly as it had come, and she shook her head, smiling slightly. She needed to get the heating seen to.


Continued in Issue Three: Tazlandor (Currently in progress). Nothing like a cliff-hanger ending, eh?

Okie dokies, as much as I hate long author's notes I'm going to stick this one in here. First off, I hope you liked the chapter, and I want thank everyone who's reviewed The Tempest Team so far. Seriously, you all rock – your feedback makes my day.

One particular thing I'm curious about is the attitude of the general public (You guys) towards William. Personally, he's my favourite character, but my friend Red Phoenix (You may or may not have read his story on here, The Triune) doesn't share my view. I'm just curious as to what you think: is William totally cool and is Red Phoenix merely jealous of my character's good looks, charm and kick-butt skills? Or is he an "arrogant drip with no personality" that only a mother/authoress could love? I would love to hear your feedback, just out of curiosity.

As an incentive to tell me all about this topical subject, I am offering a free gift to all who participate in this query. Leave your email address (Or sign in so I can access it through your account) in your review, and I shall attempt to send you all a coloured picture of William himself hand-drawn by yours truly.

Um. That's mainly all I want to say, apart from thanks again for reading this and I hope to be uploading the third issue really soon. No, wait, I know what I was going to do!

I love superheroes, and during my surfing I have discovered several other superhero stories which I think are absolutely fantastic. You can find all of them in my favourites list, but if you're looking for a bit of super-hero goodness to keep you busy while I'm working on Issue 3, then check these out.

"A World Of Titans" by dreamsofnever – this story is actually immense. The style is flowing and captivating, the characters realistic, and the interaction between them completely sublime. The only thing I can't believe is that I seem to be the only one reviewing it regularly, and it really deserves so much more attention than it's currently getting. It's definitely in the running for "best story I've ever read on fictionpress", So check it out!

"The Elements: Hours Of Darkness" by Anters is a tale of nine young high-powered teens who defend the city of Towerin. Anters is an awesome reviewer, and his writing is equally fantastic. I'll admit that I think Cedric, Crush and Allen all totally rock – well my favourite characters! …Why do I always like the boys? It must be because I was blessed with two brothers and no neighbours to play with when I was younger…Anyway! His story rocks! Check it out!

"Phantom Militia" by Malthusian this story is currently only two chapters long – but I think it has a lot of promise and the writing style is very sophisticated. Definitely worth a look.

Hikari5 has several superhero short stories. I'll admit I haven't had a chance to read them all, but those that I have read have been punchy, witty and original.

Uh, yeah. There are a lot of other excellent stories out there which I haven't mentioned, merely because these few are the ones that stick in my head most when I think of the word "superhero", but I would heartily recommend all the stories in my favourite stories list and all the authors in my author's list – they all rock very much, and the authors do indeed have mad ninja writing skills! I shall now stop talking, before this author's note becomes longer than the actual story. Hope to be uploading Issue Three soon for your reading pleasure!

(PS: I didn't ask any of the authors I mentioned about recommending their stories, so don't think I was advertising on request or anything of that sort. I am hoping they shall not mind and won't come after me with a meat masher, because then I won't be able to upload Issue Three…which I should really go and work on right now…so, uh, farewell for now…)