[Artifice Comics] Anthology 2 #56: Mysteria: More than Another Pretty Face…

utsukushuu.dreamer utsukushuu.dreamer at gmail.com
Tue Jul 29 12:34:31 PDT 2008

>From Artifice Comics - http://www.artificecomics.com


Victoria inhaled a deep breath, which she made a conscious effort to
enjoy.  ‘From Superheroine to Corpse in ninety days,’ that was the
headline that kept crossing her mind as she struggled with her arm to
not go completely numb from blood loss.

Get up…  You stupid… wannabe hero…get the hell up… now!

Victoria’s world did laps around her brain as she struggled to rise to
her feet.  The blood she was salivating from her normally full plush
lips was creating a puddle that leaked onto her crimson stained
manicured fingers.

That’s bright Vic, get up again… so he can keep knocking you down.

Talking to herself may have been a result of the concussion, but right
now it was the only thing keeping her conscious, and there was no
telling how long that luxury was going to last.

She could hear his footsteps as he walked towards her.  His calm
soothing breaths.  She was almost envious.  How could he still be so
calm after such a fight?  Her answer was simple.  She’d been playing
punching bag for the last ten minutes or so.

His warm breath hit her face as he crouched down beside her, the look
in his eyes eerily similar to that of a viper right before it moves in
for its kill.  His clean-cut exterior revealed a twisted, but glowing
smile.  The kind you see from a rapist after he’s found innocent due
to lack of evidence. The kind of look that makes you know this wasn’t
his first time.

Mysteria struggled to shake the cobwebs out of her head.  Before she
could even attempt to develop another plot for round two she needed to
be sure the man she was swinging at was the right target and not just
a double as a result of the head trauma she was desperately trying to
fight off.

The maniacal man stroked her hair.  His hands were dry.  She could
feel him digging his nails into the scalp.  Even that felt like
torture right now.

“You see my lady… This is why you never send a woman to do a man’s
job,” he said to her as he pressed his fingers harder against her
scalp.  Once again, he rose to his feet and pressed one of his limbs
against her head.  Only this time it wasn’t his hand.

Mysteria felt the ridges of his boot against her head.  She felt the
pressure building up from his kneecap, all the way down to his toes.
This was going to hurt.

He whispered to her.  “I’m sure Millennium Man would’ve never let it
come to this… But you, you’re just a-”

She was sure he said something poetic, relevant, and most certainly
sexist but whatever the words were, they were just a dust ball of
sound whirling by as her face had a close personal encounter with the
pavement.  She felt his boot leaving an imprint for a brief moment,
and then it all went black.

Anthology Two Presents…
MYSTERIA: More than Another Pretty Face…
by John LoCasto

- 3 Hours Earlier -

Miss. Victoria Burke sat atop the highest building she could find as
she watched the red and blue flashes of light dart in from every
direction like fish in a tank scurrying towards their so desired
food.  She knew they would be a little late to the scene so she
decided to wait around to make sure the ‘anonymous tip’ left by ‘the
new in town’ superhero Mysteria was received okay.

She watched them file out of the cars two at a time and surround the
three perps who were tied in a perfect bow style knot to the guardrail
at the shoulder of the service road.

Standing high above the Pacific City dinner rush crowd, Victoria
spread her arms and tilted her chin towards the sun.  The adrenaline
was starting to wear off, but it didn’t seem to matter right now.  In
fact, nothing else seemed to matter.  She kept thinking about the
headlines the next day.  How would they word it?  Mysteria defeats
thugs?  Or would it be something a little bit wittier?  One thing was
for certain it was going to read Mysteria, with an A, as in female

Victoria Burke had taken up the mantle of a costumed crusader for
about three months now, and all was going according to plan. The men
had a new skintight fabric wearing beauty to gawk at, and the ladies
had the definition of hope. As Mysteria, Victoria was changing Pacific
City for everyone.

In the three months Victoria had been a hero, and she had done
everything from rescue little old ladies from stray buses, to
arresting a few “artists” on the high way.  Yep, she had been saving
Pacific City for three months, and was already creating quite a stir
amongst the population.  Another hero on par with Millennium Man, and
the clincher, she was a woman.

For the last three months, you’d open a newspaper or turn on a T.V. it
was the mysterious vixen featured.  On any given day, at any given
time you could turn a channel and find some clip of Mysteria saving
the city.

“Got to think bigger,”  she complained to herself as she leapt into a
dark alleyway prepped to change back into the always-fashionable media
darling, Victoria Burke.

It wasn’t that she thought protecting the city wasn’t important, it
was just that she truly believed that she was of the caliber of the
other well-known superhero in Pacific City, and the little jobs
weren’t really doing much to prove that.  She needed her chance to
save the world, or maybe if she really played her cards right, the

Victoria pondered these ideas for a few minutes longer as she slipped
her shirt over her bra, and threw her Mysteria costume in her
overpriced decorative handbag, slipping out of the alleyway hoping to
catch the bus and get back from her lunch break on time for a change.

Of course by the time she arrived at the bus stop she had already
missed both the 2:15 and 2:20 buses, which meant at least 5 minutes
before another came. Victoria glanced into her handbag and sifted
through the typically unorganized mess that made up her accessories.
She fiddled around moving tissues and month old tic-tacs out of the
way.  Finally she pulled out her make up bag, in hopes of fixing as
much of the damage as possible before she got back to work.

After applying a bit of lip liner, and a whole lot of cover up she saw
the headlights sparkling in the distance.  The 2:25 was closing in,
and all she had to do was get on the bus when it got here.

As she saw the buses headlights, a few stoplights down a noise from
across the street caught her attention.  It was a loud booming sound
that was followed by a sharp pop.  Her eyes immediately darted to the
jewelry store across the street, which was of course in the midst of
highway robbery. The door that acted as the main entrance for the gold
and silver depot soared off its hinges nearly slamming into an
obviously new, parked car that didn’t even have its own set of license
plates yet.  Victoria looked up and watched three heavily armed men
file out of the smoking passageway they had created.  She could smell
the gunpowder, and see the C4 residue leaking off what was left of the
doorway and the rest of the street.

She looked up at the bus that was closing in, and then back across the
street at the escaping burglars.  It probably said something about her
character, or mental state that the decision only took .7 seconds to

As the men raced into a side alleyway they heard a clutter from up
above.  Mysteria had only been a hero three months, and she was still
working on stealth.

“Shoot Him!”  one of the thugs yelled.

He cocked back his A.K. 47 and fired blindly into the air.  His two
buddies followed suit, unloading enough firepower to stop a small

“Whoever ‘he’ was up there… I’m sure you got ‘him’.”  Mysteria said as
she dropped into action.  “Even you idiots assume it’s always going to
be a man, a big hulking mass of muscle and brawn.  If I thought guys
like you ever thought with the head on your shoulders I swear I’d be

It was impressive work.  In her tirade about gender and the restraints
against women, Victoria managed to quickly disarm the first vandal,
and in a quick couple of kicks, knock the other unconscious.

“So did you boys have a plan coming into this, or was it just ‘let’s
blow a door up and not worry who’s watching’.”

A vicious haymaker followed Mysteria’s sarcasm, slamming directly into
her back.

She had been fighting criminals off for three months, but that was the
first time one actually took a real shot at her.  “You want to play in
a man’s world, you little bitch, no problem,” her assailant said.  He
pulled the mask off revealing his face to her.  In his eyes was a look
of calm rage, waiting to explode.

Victoria was no psychologist but this guy clearly didn’t like women,
probably thanks to an old girlfriend.

She gasped for a precious intake of air as he delivered another shot
to her.  This time it was in the form of a flat footed, full throttle,
soccer kick to the ribs.  She swore she could feel at least two of
them crack.

He swung his leg again, but this time Victoria was able to stop him
with a well-placed kick to one of his knees.

“AHHH,” he yelled in pain as he stumbled back.

Instinctively she hopped up and began to fight back.  A flurry of
kicks and punches to the man’s body began to weaken him.  He was
rattled.  Only a matter of time now before he went…

A loud boom followed the click.  Victoria could feel a warm stinging
feeling pierce through her shoulder.  She quickly fell back to the
ground, her vision blurred from the shock.  Though it was skewed here
was no mistaking the pain she felt.  Nor was there any mistaking the
shiny black metallic object in the man’s hand.

Three months Victoria had been a super hero, and it was just now she
realized she couldn’t stop a bullet.

* * *

- The Present -

The silence Victoria experienced from the momentary blackout slowly
began to be replaced by the sound of the crackling wind.  The horns
and engines followed suit.  By now, her right arm had become totally
numb from the blood loss.  She had wondered when it would kick in.  As
long as there was no permanent damage the loss of feeling would help
the pain, and rest assured there was plenty.

She wanted to clutch her ribs with the other hand, but she knew
better.  Right now, the only advantage she had over the man giving her
the beating of her life was the fact that she was a woman, and in his
enraged vindictive state, he hadn’t stopped to think that maybe she
was playing possum until the right moment had arisen.

“You see, lady, you can be the biggest baddest bitch in the world, but
fact is you’re still not a man.   And that makes you second best!”

Mysteria felt the hot metallic rod from the barrel of his gun press
against her skull.  He pushed down against her tender swollen head and
loaded another round.  Using the strategy of playing dead has taken
Victoria as far as it could, but now it was time to strike back.  It
was either that or end up with a bullet lodged inside her celebrity
styled hair.

Victoria Burke had been a superhero for three months, and now it was
time to decide if she made the right career choice.

Using the arm that still had feeling Mysteria rolled out of the way
causing the man to fire point blank at the ground launching jaded lead
shards back at him, blinding him.

He shrieked in pain as he dropped the gun and scurried to get the
burning feeling out of his eyes.

Victoria took her shots wisely.  Smashing him in the kneecap once
again with a roundhouse kick.  This was enough to bring the man to one
knee.  She followed up with another kick to his left shoulder, which
was immediately followed up by another.  If only on a subconscious
level Mysteria wanted the man to feel the numb feeling she was in her
arm due to her gunshot wound.  As the man grasped for his arm with one
hand, and clutched his sliced eyes with the other Mysteria used the
hand she still had feeling in to crush her fist against his temple.
As she felt at least two of her knuckles crack off his now unconscious
face, she could see him hit the floor.  Clearly down for the
proverbial ten count.

She stopped and fell back to the floor, barely capable of catching her
own breath.

It started to get black again.

Mysteria could hear the applause coming from crowd of bystanders that
had formed during the course of her fight.  They were cheering!

She mustered up every bit of energy she had left.  Depleted, she rose
to her feet.  She saw all the blurry faces looking on amazed by the
blind courage she had shown.

She gave a quick wave and stumbled back through the alleyway making
her way to the closest fire escape.  She knew she was going to need to
take the rest of the afternoon off.  There was a bubble bath with her
name on it.  After all, she needed her rest, since tomorrow she’d have
to do it again…

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