StarFall: Silver Arrow #7: Myths and Legends
phantom_belcher at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 25 17:24:00 PDT 2011
A Division of Pullemouttayerhat Productions
A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of StarFall Innovations
#7: Myths and Legends
Cover: Silver Arrow duking it out with quarterstaves with a man
dressed in an outfit of Lincoln green. A panel on the left marked
"Guest-Starring These Legendary Archers!" shows the faces, with
identifiers, of Apollo, Artemis, Robin Hood, and Lu Bu.
Night fell, and the storm clouds that had earlier hung low over the
city released their rain with a lot of lightning and thunder.
White Crane paused, clinging to the windowsill by her fingers.
Silver Arrow had been moved from the emergency room to the intensive
care unit, which basically meant that unless he woke up suddenly there
wouldn't be anyone hovering over him. She peeked in the window, and
slid it open.
'All too easy,' she thought as she stepped into the room. Her hand
went to the butterfly sword hanging from her belt, drawing it.
The door opened. . . .
Ten minutes before:
The nurse looked up from her desk at the Mercy Hospital ICU as the
couple approached. "Can I help you?" she asked warily.
"Yes," the man replied. "We're here to visit our son. We were
told he was brought in a few hours ago. Silver Arrow?"
"Names?" the nurse asked, knowing she'd be dreading the answer.
"Bruce Wayne," Robert Knight replied. He was trying hard not to
smile, but failed so that it seemed like a knowing smirk. He was
dressed in a padded suit with a rubber Batman cowl.
"Selena Kyle Wayne," Maria added, dressed in a skintight black
leather cat suit and cowl with odd white stitching drawn onto them.
The nurse fixed them with an icy cold stare. "Nice outfits. You
reporters are getting creative," she stated. "No visitors."
"We are not reporters!" Maria retorted. "Madre de dios, can't you
tell by looking at what we *do* show of our faces that we're related
"Easy, 'Selena'," Robert said, laying a hand on his wife's
shoulder. He turned to address the nurse. "Maybe it will help if we
gave you some information you can check, but which few people outside
the hospital staff should know?"
She nodded slowly.
"Arrow is nineteen," he began, "blood type AB-negative, with a
small mole on his left arm just inside the elbow, and a recent bruise
on the right side of his abdomen, right under the ribcage, where his
uniform absorbed a gunshot the other week."
"All right," came the hesitant reply half a minute later, as the
nurse laid down her phone, "you can go in. The doctor will be down
shortly to talk with you."
White Crane hesitated, and that moment was all that was necessary.
Robert, seeing the sword in her hand, charged at her. The nurse
screamed. Robert connected, body-checking Crane with his shoulder;
she crashed into the wall beside the open window.
"We'll settle this later," she said coldly, kicking Robert in the
jaw before leaping out the window. She dropped five stories, landed
on a car's hood, setting off the car's alarm, tucked and rolled off it
onto the pavement, and ran.
By the time the doctor and hospital security arrived, White Crane
was long gone.
"What were you thinking?" Maria asked him, eyeing the large bruise
on Robert's chin, kissing him lightly.
"I wasn't," Robert admitted. "A masked woman standing over our son
with a sword, and you expect me to *think*? It's a good thing I used
to play left tackle for varsity back in the day."
"You got lucky," the doctor stated. "Not many people who aren't
supers would have survived an encounter like that. That you got off
with just a bruise..."
"It's the suit," Robert stated softly, almost to himself. "That's
gotta be it. It's the uniform that drives him to do it. Put on a
suit, and suddenly, even without thinking, you're doing the
implausible, if not the impossible."
"Doctor," Maria asked, "can you give us a few minutes alone? I
need to talk with Ro... 'Bruce'. *Alone*." Subconsciously, she flexed
her hands, like a cat readying its claws.
Meanwhile, in the hospital basement, Jeff Hawkin was attempting to
follow up on a lead of his own.
"Joaquin," he asked one of the hospital's lab techs, "are you sure
you can't find out who the blood on this knife belongs to?"
"Well, I could," Joaquin replied. "The real question is, why do
*you* want to know? This kind of request usually comes from police or
private investigators. Last I checked, you weren't either."
"You ran with the Gatos a few years back, right?"
"I used to," Joaquin admitted, "before La Tigra came into the
picture." He paused. "Wait. Is this Gato business?"
"Not exactly," Jeff replied. "But it does involve someone who has
aided a Gato in the past." That wasn't the entire story, of course,
but it *was* the truth - from a certain point of view. "You do this
for me, and that's one Gato that owes you a favor."
Joaquin sighed, his shoulders slumping. "I'll have the results in
a few hours. How detailed do you want it?"
"Just get me a name."
Hugh relaxed a bit, pondering his next move while sitting on a tree
limb. The Tolkien-esque Wood Elf had been easy, as had Artemis's
wolves, but he wasn't sure he was going to handle the four remaining
hunters - especially as two of them were gods!
A golden arrow shot past him, embedding itself in the tree behind
"First one is a warning," Apollo called to him, appearing on a
branch across a clearing that appeared suddenly. "You studied your
past archers - real, legendary, and mythical - so you know my sister
and I *never* miss our targets."
"He doesn't deserve a warning," Artemis stated, drawing her silver
bow back. She turned her attention to Hugh. "You know what you have
to do to stop us."
"She's right," her brother said. "To defeat us, you need to shoot
to kill. You are not a hero unless you can do that."
Hugh frowned at this. "A true hero saves lives," he told them.
"He doesn't take them unless he has no other choice, and only to save
"Listen to that nonsense," Artemis chuckled. She released her
Hugh reacted with lightning speed, drawing an arrow, nocking it,
and firing it in a split second. His arrow met hers in mid-flight;
this, the two gods seemed to expect, as they smirked as it happened.
What they did not expect was the flash of light that erupted from the
collision, as the impact ignited the magnesium flare on Hugh's arrow's
head. The two gods, not prepared for the flash, threw up their hands
to shield their eyes.
Hugh perused his options as he dropped to the ground. He might
have been able to take them one at a time, but both at once would be
difficult. Then he recalled his myths.
"That just might work..." he muttered to himself.
"I don't understand," Maria told the doctor, as they and Robert sat
in chairs around Silver Arrow's bed. "Our son was voluntarily tested
for powers just a month ago, and came up negative. How was he
affected by Sizzle?" On the table next to the bed, the doctor's pen
rattled uncontrollably, the doctor's hand over it preventing it from
moving too far in any direction.
"Your son never exhibited any overt powers until the Sizzle
inhalation," the doctor replied, "but psionics is still a relatively
new branch of study, and psi-tech is still experimental. My best
guess is that his powers aren't - or *weren't* - strong enough to
"So what he thought was skill...." Robert started to say.
"Was partially psychokinetically enhanced skill."
"So what can we do for him?" Maria asked.
"Well, the Sizzle is flushed from his system now," the doctor
replied. Both Robert and Maria breathed sighs of relief at this.
"But he's still in a coma, and we're not sure why. All I can
recommend is that one or both of you stay with him and talk to him."
"Got it!" Joaquin called out, causing Jeff to start in the chair he
was sitting in.
"Finally!" Jeff stated. "What have we got?"
"Well, I could tell by looking at the cells that the blood was from
a male. The Y-chromosome is a dead giveaway for that," Joaquin
explained. "Turns out, the guy's a convict. DNA matching just came
back from the city police database: Franklin St. Clair." He studied
the computer screen. "Guy's got a bit of a rap sheet, too. Burglary,
assault, second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, rape, incest...
Sheesh, his twin *sister*, no less. Huh. Also 'Acts of Super-
Villainy'. Oh shit, he's got powers."
"Roughly twenty egons of psionic power," Jeff stated. "Goes by the
alias Time-Twister. What's his current status?"
Joaquin scanned the computer screen. "Oh shit. 'Escaped'. You
sure you want to face him?"
"I just needed the name." He paused. "Does that police file give
any of his known safe-houses?"
"Just one. You don't think he'd return there?"
"Probably not, but it's not a bad place to start."
Hugh looked at the golden arrow in his hand. He knew it was risky,
but he'd climbed back up the tree to retrieve it before dropping down
again. Since then, he'd left a bit of a trail, one which Artemis
could follow but hopefully Apollo could not. Now he lay buried in
some underbrush, waiting for her to appear. Slowly, he nocked the
arrow and drew back the bow.
And appear she did. She seemed to glide over the forest floor,
much like the elf did earlier, but he saw her stride leave a bit more
in its wake. He took a moment to run a calculation in his head, aimed
at a tree behind her and to the left, and fired.
The golden arrow flew through the air, bouncing off first one tree
and then a second, and then a third. Finally, it grazed her left arm,
snapping through her bowstring as it did so before embedding itself in
the tree next to her.
"Apollo!" she called out. "Quit trying to keep this mortal to
yourself! Oppose me again, and suffer my wrath!"
"I am *not* opposing you!" he called, arriving a second later.
"*Your* arrow cut my bowstring, brother."
Hugh smiled to himself. The Greek gods were petty and jealous, he
remembered from his Greco-Roman mythology class, quick to turn on each
other over the slightest infraction. Apollo and Artemis, being twins,
had the usual sibling rivalries, only amplified a hundredfold.
In moments, Apollo and Artemis started firing arrows at each
other. Hugh used the distraction to quietly slip away through the
underbrush. 'With any luck,' he thought, 'those two will keep busy.
Now where are the other two?'
Tabitha arrived at the Catwalk and proceeded through the back door
and into the changing room. She was greeted by several other dancers,
all in various states of undress.
"Mrrow!" one of them called out once she took in Tabitha's
changes. "Damn, girl, when you took those two weeks off, I wasn't
expecting *this*! Now we'll *never* get those tips!"
"Oh you!" she replied. "You could go anthro yourself, if you
"After seeing you in the fur, I just might! You'll certainly get
more than your share of private dances tonight. See you on the dance
As the other dancers left the room, Tabitha found herself alone.
Stripping down to her underwear, she examined herself in the mirrors.
'Even with the week of recuperation,' she thought to herself, 'I
still don't feel fully comfortable with the new me.' She thought
about the tail which now swished behind her. 'They said this was fake
fur over a cyber-implant, but it moves and feels so *real*. I can
feel the air moving past it; should a cyber-tail...?'
She looked around, but didn't see anything. 'I must be hearing
things. The doctors said I might hear a higher pitch than before when
they moved my ears.'
>>Gray Tabby, cat dance trance...<<
She closed her eyes, feeling herself relax and once again fall back
into a hypnotic trance,
>>Has he taken the bait?<<
"Yes, Master," she whispered. "He asked me to check it out
>>Good kitty.<< She purred in pleasure; her Master was pleased, so
she was as well. >>Now, my pet, here's what I want you to tell
Tabitha listened as her unseen Master gave her new instructions,
smiling and purring the entire time.
Hugh ran along the forest path. He could hear the hoof beats of
the approaching horseman behind him. He dove into the brush on the
right as a pair of arrows struck right where he'd been a moment ago.
"Come on out, Westerner, and face your death like a man!" Lu Bu
called out, pulling his horse to a halt.
"And why should I?" Hugh felt compelled to call back.
"You are a hero," came the reply, "that much cannot be denied. But
are you a leader?"
"I don't know," Hugh admitted. "Is that why you're here? Why
should I take leadership tips from a man who betrayed his own
commander, not once but twice, and was hanged for it?"
Lu Bu dismounted, pulling his ji from its place beside the saddle.
"I will make you pay for that, honorless Westerner!"
Hugh stepped out from the brush, his bow at the ready. "Do we
really have to fight like this?" he asked.
Lu Bu lunged fiercely, his halberd slicing through Hugh's bow. "It
is far too late for me to accept your surrender!"
"It wasn't," Hugh remarked. Reaching back in his quiver, he drew a
quarterstaff from it. In seconds, he had blocked Lu Bu's second blow.
Hugh didn't answer, but kept the staff at the ready, spinning it
slowly as he prepared for the next assault.
It's not exactly an unknown quantity, but polearms such as the
halberd - including the crescent-bladed Chinese ji - are top-heavy
weapons. The spike on the top lets it act as a spear, but Lu Bu
seemed to ignore this in favor of the blade. A quarterstaff, on the
other hand, is a straight pole, often capped with leather or metal on
the ends to prevent splintering. Because of its length, a
quarterstaff gives more room to parry oncoming blows.
So it was that when Lu Bu swung the ji, Hugh always managed to
parry it with the staff, often catching the blow under the ji's blade.
After the fourth such parry, Hugh slid his staff slightly along the
ji's own pole, knocking Lu Bu solidly in the temple. The blow,
however, did not faze the warlord in the slightest.
After a second's respite, Lu Bu continued his attacks in earnest.
Hugh, however slowly gave ground, slowly but constantly retreating.
Twice more did he manage to land a blow on his opponent, but never
with enough force to turn the tide. At best, the fight was a
stalemate; at worst, it would have ended with Hugh's death. At least,
that was how it looked.
Hugh, however, had a plan. He wasn't retreating without reason;
before Lu Bu's attack, he had quickly scouted the area. So, with each
step back, he was actually drawing closer to his goal.
Suddenly, as Lu Bu, now mad with rage at not being able to touch
his foe, swung his ji wildly at Hugh, Hugh fell onto his back, put his
feet up, caught Lu Bu in the chest, rolled, and kicked with both
legs. Lu Bu flew through the air across a wide gulf, before coming to
rest on a shelf of rock twenty feet below.
Hugh departed quickly as Lu Bu shouted a curse at him.
Jeff and a handful of others, all wearing jackets with an emblem on
the back of a panther's face, stood outside a run-down store-front in
the slums of Los Angeles. All of them carried typical gang weapons -
baseball bats, lengths of chain, crowbars, etc. Only one had a gun
visible; Jeff was sure there were many more concealed under their
"You guys don't have to help with this," he told them. "We may be
up against someone with powers."
"You said this guy is holding a friend of yours," one of the Gatos
stated. "Powers or no, he'll learn you don't mess with Los Gatos."
Opening the door, they filed inside ... and immediately felt as if
time was dragging.
'He knew we were coming,' Jeff thought.
Hugh came to narrow wooden bridge a wide stream running through the
mist-enshrouded woods. On the other side, a man who looked a lot like
Errol Flynn and dressed in an outfit of Lincoln green pulled back his
"Ye hast led my companions on a merry chase, villain*," Robin Hood
called across the stream. "But thy flight endeth here."
"And you protest like a coward!" Hugh called back, "for you stand
there with a great bow of yew aimed at my heart, and all I have is
this plain staff." 'That, I think,' he thought to himself, 'was
roughly what Little John said to him. Let's see if he reacts
Indeed, Robin seemed perplexed at this, then called back, "Only
once in mine own life have I been named a coward, and that was by good
Little John! If ye wilst wait, I shall cut a stout cudgel like thine
own, and see if ye can match him in skill."
With Hugh's silent acceptance nod, Robin disappeared into the
woods. Hugh, in the meantime, rested on his staff. By the unspoken
rules these five had chased him with, none of the others could
interfere, so he was safe from any lingering resentment from the twin
Half an hour later, or so it seemed, Robin appeared from the woods
with a six foot quarterstaff in his hand. "First one in the water
loses," Hugh stated.
"Aye," Robin said, laughing. "Once I landed in the flood and
floated down with atide; I shall not do so again."
And so the two fought. On went, for hours it seemed, each one
landing blow after blow on the other. Sometimes Hugh or Robin would
parry the blow, but most of the time the blows landed solidly about
the other man's body. Both Hugh and Robin were bruised. As they
fought, the other four - Artemis, Apollo, Lu Bu, and the unnamed elf -
gathered on both sides of the stream to watch.
Robin landed a solid blow on Hugh's chest. Hugh stepped backwards,
almost falling off the narrow bridge himself, then regained his
footing. Spinning his staff, Hugh landed three blows on his opponent.
The first slammed into Robin's stomach, causing him to falter. The
second cracked him across the temple. The third and surest blow
struck the knees, causing Robin Hood, that most famed outlaw, to fall
into the stream. The elf, standing on the shore nearest Hugh,
couldn't help but laugh at the sight.
"And where are you now?" Hugh called down the his waterlogged
opponent. The mood seemed lighter now, as if, by besting the prince
of woodland thieves, the contest was over.
"Aye, I be in the flood and drifting with atide again!" Robin
called back, also laughing. "Thou art an equal with the staff to
Little John, though thou art not as tall nor as broad as he."
Hugh reached his hand down to aid Robin Hood out of the water, but
once their arms clasped, Robin pulled with all his might. Hugh landed
in the stream with a loud splash.
"Now thou art wet as well!"
Minutes later, Hugh stood on the shore, surrounded by his hunters.
"Thou have shown thyself to be a fine man," Robin Hood proclaimed.
"Truly, thou hast bested the five of us through guile and skill. And
so, we give thee these gifts before thou wakest up from thy sleep."
With that, each of the five produced an arrow, handing it to Hugh.
"This arrow," Apollo stated, handing him a golden arrow, "will
never miss its target, and will shine with the light of the sun. Use
"My arrow," Artemis said, producing a silver one, "has the power of
the moon behind it. Only use it at greatest need."
"This arrow," said Robin, producing a second golden arrow, "was the
prize of the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in his archery contest. When
the free are at risk, it will not fail."
The elf laughed cheerily, handing him a black arrow. "This arrow
was forged by my friend, the only dwarf to travel to the Undying
Lands. You shall know what it does in time."
Lu Bu was the last, still scowling as he handed Hugh an arrow with
peacock feathers. "This arrow," he said sullenly, "I curse. Should
you use it in anger, it will smite you down."
"Go, hero," Artemis said, giving Hugh a small kiss on the cheek.
"It is time to wake up."
Slowly, Silver Arrow opened his eyes. There, sitting beside him,
were... Batman and Catwoman?
"Am I still dreaming?" he moaned.
"No, son," Robert said, smiling. "Your mom and I just had to dress
up to see you."
"What is that?" Maria asked, pointing to Hugh's right hand. He
lifted it up; there stood five arrows: two golden, one silver, one
black, and one peacock-feathered.
"It's a long story, Mom," he said with a sigh. "How long have I
NEXT: Hugh is out of the dreamland and awake, with the gifts of the
mythic archers with him. But Jeff and Los Gatos are in deep with
their encounter with Time-Twister. Plus, the Sentinel visits Los
* Here Robin Hood is using the medieval use of the term, rather than
the modern, which means a free man not beholden to any lord. That
many turned to banditry to survive - indeed, a vassal of a knight or
baron could depend on his or her lord for aid in rough times, while a
free man could not - may have led to the term gaining its modern
Author's Notes: This story only really started to take shape during
HCC23: Mythrepresentation, despite being started way back in ... May?
April? but that damned Writer's Block Beast set in (I'd say "damn you,
Jaelle", but she hasn't been seen in a while, it looks like).
Fortunately, it's now done!
Maybe, if I work at record speed, I can get #8 done in time for Jeff's
story to qualify for HCC24. ... NAAAH!
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