Good Old Days ...Of Doom
1: The Mystic Mullah of Malice
story takes place after the events of Codename:
Courage #6, but, obviously, before #11.)
his black facemask's extra lower shield, Courage
smiled thinly. Safely hidden from passersby in an
oak tree perch, the anonymous hero tensed, ready
to spring down like a bolt of dark catharsis for
an anguished nation. He had been lucky that young
Tim Turner had grown suspicious of the "couple"
that had moved in to the house down the street.
still that even though Tim's parents had laughed
him off as paranoid, the boy had believed the rumors
at school about CourageNet. To all appearances an
inspirational patriotic website, it had a hidden
section for tipsters to alert the coal-black avenger
to evil stalking the land.
The irony of it appealed to the mysterious tall
warrior. If his enemies could use websites to send
coded messages to each other, he, too, would conduct
his covert business in plain sight - if one knew
where to look.
Within minutes of Tim logging in his concerns, the
man some called Courage (others knew and feared
him as righteous vengeance) had packed the necessary
weaponry and mobilized for the city of Dimmsdale.
Only Samara, his IT manager, knew of this, an unavoidable
consequence of her monitoring CourageNet for him.
But his trust of the pretty Middle Eastern data
genius was unshakeable; had he not rescued her from
crushing oppression at the hands of the murderous
gang known as The Tally Band?
Courage shook his head slightly, not even the slightest
glint of moonlight reflecting from the dark ruby
goggles that made him appear almost otherworldly.
He had no time for this reverie, not if what Tim
suspected was true.
And Courage had no doubt that it was. From Tim's
description, the young couple down the street calling
themselves the "Orffits" could be none other than
the ebony sword of justice's most dangerous living
Tim had asked around the neighborhood. Though many
people had met both Gene Orffit and his wife Janine,
nobody had ever seen them at the same time. The
husband had told Mr. Shankel next door that he and
his wife just had busy and unfortunately opposite
But the plucky all-American kid didn't buy it. Neither
When Samara first read the message, she immediately
agreed with Tim's conclusions, except for the part
about his babysitter, and knew that the man to whom
she owed her life and more importantly her freedom
would also agree.
Gene and Janine Orffit were not an insurance salesman
and a night nurse at all, but a deadly melding of
two terrorist operatives, the result of Haddam Mubein's
twisted experiments in both science and sorcery.
The man had once been a librarian; she had been
a young woman with futile dreams of a career in
medicine. Forced through the crucible of a magical
fire, the once ordinary humans forged a desperate
alliance with an otherworldly spirit just to survive.
What was left of the two remembered little of its
the mystically powerful transgendered being knew
mostly loyalty to the nightmares of the mad genius
that had birthed it. Courage had brought an end
to Mubein's icy grip on the throat of his people
- let's just say that he's not a problem anymore
- but the madman's spawn lived on. Though it had
once had other names, it now called itself Djinn-Djinnie,
a creature that alternated between approximations
of male and female.
And Courage could not allow it to live unmolested
in this quiet town, likely plotting another turn
in its roadmap to destroying freedom.
Courage almost hissed, his steel-corded fingers
flexing inside padded Kevlar gloves. "This ends
tonight. For Tim, and all the other kids just like
him, all across this country, who deserve to grow
up free from terror!"
Down the street, Tim slept, blissfully unaware of
the good work he was partially responsible for.
But then, that was only fitting. Courage had no
idea what Tim actually looked like, either, seeing
him as another uniquely anonymous son of liberty.
In the front room of the otherwise unassuming ranch
style home, something moved. Something that flickered
between masculine and feminine. Courage knew that
when both forms oscillated through this dimensions,
Djinn-Djinnie was summoning its power for something
Launching himself from the tree, the night fist
of America's pride drove like a bullet through the
picture window in the Orffits' living room, glass
shattering like the American Dream would if Djinn-Djinnie
were allowed to live.
With perfect but practiced technique, Courage rolled
back up into a fighting stance. His cold eyes confirmed
the assumption that had caused him to leave the
Bathed in an unholy glow that obscured its momentary
gender, the master and mistress of eldritch energies
pulled its lips back in a terrifying rictus. If
not for Courage's utter calm in the heat of battle,
its two-toned harmonious voice would have sent a
chill down his spine.
It took its time with the word. "How nice of you
to come. It would be appropriate to offer you a
drink of something alcoholic, wouldn't it? Is that
not how you…" It struggled with a sneer for an instant,
then gave way to it. "…Americans …entertain?"
With an arched brow, Djinn-Djinnie let its gaze
wander all over the perfectly fit hero. The entire
time, its hands twitched ominously.
For his part, Courage refused to dignify the encounter
with inane banter. He had a job to do, and though
it wouldn't be pleasant, it would be necessary.
Courage slightly flexed his right arm in order to
activate his stun glove, the sometime harridan of
hatred stepped to its right. With a flourish, it
gestured toward a glowing blob that floated in the
doubt you noticed that I'm having a difficult time
deciding what kind of man I am tonight," it cackled.
don't bother pretending." Even as it spoke, its
features shifted into a softer, more feminine appearance
before snapping back to masculinity. "We both know
you understand the nature of my power. As if it
could do you any good."
The twitching of its hands had grown more frantic,
and Courage noticed that there was a definite rhythm
to it, one that matched the pulsing of the blob.
Somewhat spherical, the manifestation slid along
the spectrum of visible color and, Courage noted
through his special lenses, a few that would not
be visible to the naked human eye.
He knew he could not take down Djinn-Djinnie until
he understood that this conjured anomaly would not
pose a greater threat to the neighborhood. But to
the great patriot's horror (yes, he had to admit
it), the thing had grown visibly larger in less
than a minute.
Unable to contain itself any longer, his foe clapped
its hands in something approximating delight. "Oh,
my darling Courage," it sighed, and thankfully it
had become a woman as it said so, "you long for
a simpler time."
time without fear," Courage spat in a steely baritone.
"A time when decent Americans could sleep at night,
secure that if evil stalked the earth, at least
these shores were safe."
Djinn-Djinnie simpered. "I do believe that's the
most you've ever said to me at one time. Well, my
dear," and here it was in a male form, "your wish
is my command."
With that, both mortal enemies whipped their hands
toward the other. Courage meant to send an arc of
paralyzing electricity, but was just a fraction
of a second too late.
As the magical menace had moved, so went its pulsating
energy creation …toward Courage.
In less than a second, the towering titan of triumph
had been engulfed by every color of the rainbow.
Then it winked out. When it disappeared, so did
Djinn-Djinnie clapped its hands again, then hugged
itself. Its mad spinning between sexes slowed, until
it finally settled on femininity. "Time to go out,"
it said to no one.
Even with his lenses, the sunlight hurt Courage's
eyes. How long had he been unconscious? His chronometer
had malfunctioned, which did not help his overwhelming
Liberty Bells, Commander!" a high-pitched but strong
voice yelled. "What's that?"
The voice had grown closer. Courage tried to scramble
to an upright position, at least, but the spinning
in his head wouldn't let him. Whatever Djinn-Djinnie
had done to him, it was a doozy.
Doozy? Where had that word come from?
More importantly, who was that blue-clad blond boy
bounding toward him, strangely familiar and yet
not. For a second he reminded Courage of the mysterious
blonde woman he had glimpsed when rousting that
terrorist cell in New Jersey…but that was impossible.
TO BE CONTINUED…