Friday, June 19, 2015

FLICKER STREET Treatment # 3 - Arcs

And so continues the back story of FLICKER STREET. Enjoy!
FLICKER STREET Treatment # 3: Arcs

I. Twilight of the Pulps

To constitute an actual seventh member roster of the Silent Seven, as Saturnine and Apparition were in fact one man, Doc Vance and Richter drafted in a young girl (17) named Felicia McGee, who wore a red luminescent form-fitting uniform as Crimson Velvet. Her weapon of choice was a whip, though she also wielded a mean stiletto. She was an amazing fighter, and asked each of the group to train her further as she was eager to learn. They soon found out that she was an escapee from an orphanage where she was sexually abused. Gerhardt Vossius took an immediate interest in her, which did not bode well.

It was around this time that Sidonie Van Kant, the Duellist, was revealed to be the daughter of Isaak Vossius and one Gretel Van Kant – hence an heir to Vossius Metalwerks and half-sister of Andreas Vossius – Gadgeteer V. She bore no blood relation to Gerhardt Vossius, the head of the corporation of his (legal) father. The ailing Isaak grew more and more disenchanted with his “son”'s decadence and squandering of the Vossius fortune. Andreas was the legitimate heir but was immersed in his crimefighting and research as Gadgeteer V.

As the 1930s waned, great fortune (though not financial) came to the Silent Seven. They had managed to break apart Boston Haverty's massive racketeering mob. The man called Anon., was revealed to be none other than Hallmark founder Ananias de Ruyter's son Victor – a chief heir to ORDER Enterprises. Soon, in 1937, new blood infused the team. Sword and Richter both took leave of absences to Europe, but were ably replaced by two new young mystery men on the scene, filling the quota of seven members. Ascendant chairman (once again) Doc Vance welcomed a protege of his, Jakob Stenbrau, a second generation German immigrant who fought crime (and wrote books) under the persona of Anton Gamble. Gamble, like Orlison, was something of a polymath, and penned endless tracts of visionary existentialist thought. And he could hold his own in combat. As could his brother Eryk, the other new member, who operated under the name the Kraken, after his favorite mythological beast. The Kraken wore a special jet pack that could convert to a submersible tank, and he plied the Stasis ray gun, which could paralyze his foes for short bursts. He was also an amazing aficionado of mixed martial arts.

Only the vile Kanabal eluded the group among their local foes. In 1938, Vance was given a proposal by his half-brother Gerhardt. Gerhardt would take a huge risk to the Vossius corporation and fund not only an all-out nationwide manhunt for the cannibal-at-large but also he would fund the ultimate expedition to the Holy Ziggurat. He knew he was disappointing their dying father, and wished to atone. Vance, for all his misgivings, placed his trust in his brother but elicited the one condition Vance knew Gerhardt would place on the arrangement. “Let me be – the silent partner – yours specifically – to the Silent Seven. I have the skills and talents of our father; it is time I turned them to good. I wish to emulate you – to know what it is to be – a hero”.
What would you call yourself?”
You, my brother are superego, the superman – I am id, wild, perfectly able to mete out justice as the Saturnine. I was inspired by Shakespeare – were Will a pulp scribe. Call me – Captain Caliban”.
Brilliant!” replied Vance.

And so the grand adventure of 1939 awaited the Silent Seven as Doc Vance prepared his ultimate excavation of the Piscean ruins at the Libanian Ziggurat. It was to be their last grand adventure as a team, though hardly the most intense drama they were to experience, especially as they knew Kanabal awaited them in Hallmark. But before the career of the Silent Seven draws to a close, first we must pole vault time and space and reveal another chapter in the lives of one of our key players.

II. The Man Who Would Be Kong

As of 1931, The man born Caine Ledge had now learned at least some of his true heritage. The woman he now knew as his grandmother, Shun Ti, guided him through Feng Qi and the secrets of the Tamerlane Overlords. She also explained his genetic heritage. In 1900, Caine Ledge's father Sun-Kao Qua dallied with a Swiss maiden, Ingeborg Olaus, but apparently discarded her when he learned she was pregnant. Shun Ti made it possible for her to get to America, where, on the plane, she met salesman Richard Ledge, who was immediately smitten with her. They were soon wed, and Ingeborg Olaus became known as Inga Ledge. She gave birth to Caine in 1901, but Richard soon proved cold, conservative, repressed yet sexually demanding. As discussed elsewhere, Caine's long journey to his destiny was finally at least partially fulfilled upon meeting his biological father, who impressed him no more than did Richard Ledge, and his grandmother, who he began to hold great reverence for.

Kaosong Qua, to use his birth name, studied the co-mingled knowledge of Omega Ceti I and Pisces, which were pooled when Einnhauser and Shun Ti trained together for their mission. Shun Ti's training came easily, and the man who now chose to call himself “Kong” mastered arcane Piscean rites and thaumaturgy and Omegan technology and sciences. The combination of the disciplines of the warring races in the hands of Kong was what set him apart – on a plane with the Exodesians.

But many within the Tamerlane Overlord circle, including even Sun-Kao, resented this exceptional outsider and his access to their most vaunted secrets. Many attempts were made on Kong's life, but he survived; his attackers rarely did. Kong was no longer the easy prey he could have been upon his arduous trek to Feng Qi. The day came, in 1935, when Kong challenged his own duplicitous father – and cut him down savagely. The years of abuse and uncertainty as to who he was and where he belonged exploded. It was decided, against Shun Ti's will by the Overlords that Kong learn the full truth about Ingeborg Olaus. 

Kong learned from brigands in the circle that, though his biological father was now deceased, Sun-Kao's mistress ran his affairs. Unsure what to expect, he was floored when the woman he recalled as “Inga Ledge”, was now confronting him as Ingeborg Olaus, and, alongside her, her young son Coyle, who had taken the name Einnhauser, after his own biological father.

Caine soon learned that his real parents met while in the service of Urias, an Exodesian wielder of magick. Ingeborg told him he was of the house of Tamerlane and could claim that name as well. She told him his destiny as leader of a Pan-Asian group, the Hei Naodai (“Black Skull”). Kong ruminated on this, not admitting that Shun Ti had told him she assembled the fragments of the Naodai herself when she came to China. Ingeborg admitted that the Tamerlane clan had killed Richard, and she offered to supervise Kong's training in the skills of the Tamerlane Overlords – martial arts, alchemy, magicks. She knew that he was already Shun Ti's most outstanding pupil but felt he was not prepared for a meeting with the infamous thaumaturge Urias. Shun Ti ostensibly obliged Ingeborg all of this, though she truly believed Olaus and her son Coyle were power-mad fools far out of their depth. Ingeborg was deluded in that she felt as soon as Urias was back from his world-spanning travels, he would be hers. Rather than endure being wrong, she took her own life while he was gone, leaving Coyle in the care of his father's lover Shun Ti.

In 1937, Kong at last met Urias, who was in dire shape after a recent defeat at the hands of his uncle, Deomond, the most powerful living Exodesian. Urias put Tsun-lun Liao (“The Claimer”) in charge of Kong's training. Kith (Abassi M' Nali Mathabane) became Kong's new spiritual mentor. Kong, now accepted by the Tamerlanes, rallied them, intrigued by Sun-Kao's dream of Pan-Asian unity. Sun-Kao's father had led Hei Naodai (Black Skull Society), which was founded by a Japanese, Norumori, in the late 19th century. This man deliberately chose Chinese characters in naming the society, which rejected Nipponese nationalism. Kith was a co-founder – a black African slave trained by the Tamerlanes and later by samurai in Japan. By 1950, Kith was a formidable mystic, on par with Urias, and he had gleaned the secrets of never aging – which Shun Ti had taught Kong. Kith became known as the "Black Tamerlane". Shun Ti and young Coyle took a break from the building intrigue, though the bi-racial boy Coyle harbored his own dark dreams – dreams only suspected by his brother Kong, who defeated Tsun-Lun in fair non-lethal combat and hence was known as Kong the Claimer.

III. Skull Ascendant

Wartime was Kong's time to forge a master plan. He learned that Urias had, through proxy, many wartime industrial interests in the US, and that “the Machine” was run by the following: two of Urias' mystical disciples (Smith Fabricand and Keegan Avril); two young scientific prodigies: Phileas Caleb and Donal Rykards; Kith himself; and three businessman/ grifter brothers, the Thornes (Artemus, Augustus, and Geoffrey, who had only recently made their way into the inner circle). The three brothers' company was known originally as Brothers-in-Arms, and supplied arms to the chaotic political clime in Libania and its neighboring country Serafina. Kaosong Qua resolved to join, subvert, and control the Thornes' company. Brothers-in-Arms had its hands in many pies, crooked and straight, but Kaosong had many ideas how to improve and boost the company to the top, such as merging the Naodai, the Machine, and the Thornes' South American interests into one massive cartel with the company's new name, SkullCorp as the figurehead. He recruited Capt. Vargas Llosa, a shrewd young captain in the Libanian revolutionary army and close friends with the younger two Thornes, to mobilize FOPA (roughly in English, “Freedom of the People's Army”) as the muscle for black ops.

Kong told Urias he wanted in, but in a quiet fashion. Urias hasn't the stomach for business anyway and steps back, remaining on the board. Based on his proposals, Kaosong Qua is voted head of the company. For a time, it seems as though there may indeed be honour among thieves, but in the years that follow, the worm will turn. One skill Liao the Claimer helped Qua master was a mastery of disguise, for which Kong had some predisposition due to his grandmother's genetic structure. For the board vote and onward, in the company, Kong will be known as Bromley Chamberlain except to the board, who knows him as “Mr. Drang”. Few on the board, Urias and Kith particularly, know Kong's true nature.

Skull's board coalesced in 1951, when Kong's brother Coyle joined as an intern. Also that year, there was a paradigm shift regarding the Omegans. Kong realized that Urias' driving force with the Machine was the plundering of Omegan, Piscean, and Exodesian knowledge in order to subjugate the earth.

IV. Omega Rising

But in 1951, a crucial event transpired. Urias learned that a spacecraft was being pulled interdimensionally to Earth – to Mt. Mosaic. This ship was known only as the Pod, a small ship captained by Ursulin, young son of Shun Ti and Friedrich Einnhauser, from the world Omega Ceti I .The pilot, nicknamed “Captain Omega”, is disingenuously greeted by Urias and Bromley Chamberlain. The good-natured, almost naïve, Ursulin, was there to share his technology and Urias engaged him with trips to Exodesia and to the Black Skull Society (formerly Tamerlane) stronghold (which Tsun-Lun Liao, as per their honorable battle, ran for Kong). Was this to be the latest wrinkle in the tentative treaties between races?

Rykards and Caleb immediately begin synthesizing the Omegan tech that they have newfound access to. The inner circle wondered why the Omegans had chosen now to unlock for a chosen few the secrets men have spent millenia trying to divine from Mt. Mosaic? Did it have something to do with Shun Ti/ Ish? Was it a trap of sorts? Nonetheless, the man known as Kong/ Bromley Chamberlain/ Mr. Drang saw an oportunity and seized it – a seemingly innocuous shift in the Machine. He officially decided to change the name and look of the company to the public. He called the company “SkullCorp” and designed for Skull a distinctive, albeit exotic, symbol/ logo. He folded the Omegan characters for “chaos” and “song” into a stylized skull designed in Exodesia. The result was the SkullCorp logo. Thus, in 1951, SkullCorp proper was unveiled to the world, which, alas, was never to be remotely the same.

Three years on (1954), Kong controlled a small but expanding business/ criminal empire; was a master of martial arts and of mystic arts; was an unparalleled master of disguise; and had the intelligence to absorb even more knowledge at a staggering rate, making his knowledge of science – Omegan, Piscean, and Exodesian alike – unparallelled. He decided the Black Skull Society – some of whom were his cousins – would be his personal fighting force, once he took care of Liao, who he'd wearied of. And he had an army in South America, training towards their inscrutable “revolution”, under Vargas Llosa, agent and friend of the the business geniuses the Thornes. His blueprint for world domination was seemingly unopposed. But only seemingly.

Unfortunately, the once-naive Ursulin learned he'd been used, and learned to what extent. He vowed to bring down SkullCorp, even though he had no allies on his native world or on his currently adopted one. So he soared away, alone and afraid back into a dimensional rift such as the one he emerged from (called a “rabbit hole” by Phileas Caleb, who had an immense crush on the captain). This was in 1954. Urias had had enough of Kong, and sought to take the company by proxy. Kong confronted him in an all-out battle for supremacy. The student outstripped the teacher, however. Licking his considerable wounds, Urias, a proud priest of the Exodesian clan the Obscuros for three centuries, boiled with rage but accepted Kong's offer to remain with SkullCorp, but only if he could do his work back in Exodesia. Magnanimously, Kong's accepted his offer as his only other plans for Urias were slow torture and death. Kong also slew Tsun-lun the former Claimer in short order, leaving his wife a widow and four sons bereft of a father. Kong was to destroy many families in his life.

Kong then let the Thornes handle most of the business; Phileas Caleb and Donal Rykards the science; Fabricand and Avril the occult studies, and Kith lead the Hei Naodai. Urias was to keep his people in check, and was liaison to Exodesia. Kong was unchallenged, though the remnants of the Silent Seven, after the debacle at the Ziggurat, swore the Exodesians and their allies would fall. It would take a stranger to Hallmark to put into motion a true fight for the fate of Earth – a man called Cary Bradcroft, who came to live in Hallmark in 1956 and was also known – as the Shadow Baron.

Welcome to Flicker Street!

Henry Covert

June 19, 2015

Flicker Street, all images, characters, and story elements are Copyright 2015 George Henry Smathers Jr.

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