Agents of CHANGE: A Prose Comic

Alright. Here’s the thing. I’ve been wanting to make a comic book for a bit of a while, but I’ve never been able to find an illustrator. I played around with slices of scripts for a while, but scripts just aren’t eminently interesting when they’re not tailored for the needs of someone who is actually going to translate them into a visual medium. Therefore, I’ve decided to write some scenes of this story out in prose and put them up here. If you know anyone who would like to draw a highly unlikely story of steampunk superspies in some vague version of Victorian England that never really could have existed, I would like to know. I might just keep intermittently posting these little script pieces until I find someone. Love and luck.

 

Oh. I just realised that pasting the story into this box messed with the format, but I don't want to worry about that right now. Enjoy.

 

 

                                                                        Agents of CHANGE

 

Overwrought in the sullied finery of deceased queens, a lone form thrusts itself through the midnight air. Leading with a greasy sneer, his bounds between the buildings of New Great Europe’s eponymous capital are unimpeded by his elaborate garb, the improperly mixed adornments of various exotic aristocracies from bygone eras. In the middle of his final jump, fueled only by adrenaline and a small set of enhancing enchantments, he pulls the edge of his frock above his rising knee and further away from the regal dignity of its original design. He slides his free hand down into one newly exposed leather boot to bring out the knife that he stored there in a moment of rare foresight. He hits the ground before he notices its absence.

“Looking for this?” asks a mocking, unwashed voice.

At this, the impractically dressed leaper takes his hand from his boot and brushes a few silvery tips of sable hair from his brow. He turns to face the speaker, one of a pair of thugs that has just landed on the rooftop behind him, and sees his blade in the man’s hand.

“I was. Yeah. How did you know?”

“You threw it at us five minutes ago. Right before you ran away.”

“Oh. Hm. Did you happen to see where I got it?” His hands rise to his head again as he asks the question. They move through his unkempt hair, sifting through soft strands and random tangles.

“You pulled it out of that boot.”

“At least I did one thing right.”

Leaving no opportunity for a response, his hands withdraw from his scalp with a pair of superfluous hairpins that he hastily throws at the men across the roof. Twin chrome needles charge towards their marks before any evasion is possible. One penetrates the eye of its target while the other brings swift death to his companion by the simple virtue of a hole in the throat.

The two thugs lie on the ground as the agent of their defeat, a thug blessed with the demeanour of a lord, staggers toward them with a drunkard’s approximation of grace. He stops at their feet, gazing down at them with ovate amulet eyes of distorted blue.

“Who are you?” asks the agonised man through fearful breaths.

“Chayse God,” the killer answers. “Gentleman Mage.”

 

It is the afternoon when Chayse takes to the streets, but the day is still suffused with a matutine light that forgives the sunken darkness he has cultivated beneath his eyes and the late start that serves to confess this cosmetic misdemeanour. The streets upon which he walks are those of an empire, and the irksome fact that they are also technically the streets of its only city just makes them seem more alive.

In the fractious years before Chayse’s birth, the dominion of Great Europe shattered, and the former hub of an entire civilisation is now merely a cosmopolitan superpower. The returning masses of proud Europeans from the colonies reinforced the city’s population, and the addition of a word, “New”, to Great Europe’s name consolidated its majesty, giving it a regal air to replace the lost power of the crown. An empire’s shadow is a brighter thing than the full light of a common nation, and the citizenry’s size and enduring dignity allowed it to deal fairly well with its state’s shortened reach, proving the annexed appellation to be the only real concession to insecurity.

The inconsistency of the architecture throughout this metropolis is a charming testament to its age, and the only feature that is even slightly pervasive is the virtuosity of its design. Grand white facades are rarely far from modest edifices of old stone, and baroque mouldings casually flaunt their garish appeal across from teal shingles that exist in relative humility. Indeed, the occasional building will even display this incongruity on an individual scale, cheerily exhibiting modern additions on its ancient structure. The development of a reliance on magically assisted construction is not particularly hard to detect for an attentive eye; its influence on the various design ideals of different eras is obvious. The age of uniform aesthetics has passed, however, and the city’s patchwork nature is now explicitly embraced.

Chayse approaches his destination, a particularly audacious building that has weathered more revisions than its neighbours. This is the headquarters of Chayse’s employers, the Cental Hermetics Agency of New Great Europe. It is the schizophrenic embodiment of awkwardly cooperative purposes, precariously maintaining the stark officiousness of a bank as it exudes the seductive perdition of a haunted mansion. It is a debauched hedonist’s answer to the Tower of Babel, continually redesigning itself to emphasise different aspects of its dark, protean splendour. To Chayse, it bears the mien of a mythic hotel, and he gazes up at it with a soft fondness that he has kept throughout his tenure by the virtue of his diligent disregard for punctuality.

In blithe stride across the golden marble floor of the lobby, Chayse is oblivious to the perfunctory greetings of the receptionist, placing his focus solely on the elevator on the room’s far side. As he approaches its polished crimson doors, which stand in defiant contrast against cavernous obsidian walls, he gives silent thanks to whatever gods or assorted apportioners of fate have allowed him to work in an office of such garish design, though any listening deities would perhaps be tired of these prayers by now.

His ride to the penultimate floor of the tower is a dreamy one, and nothing encroaches on his reverie but the faint mixture of ethereal music and the soft hum of the arcane energies that propel him up towards his destination. He steps out from the lift into the wide, carpeted hallways, proceeding to the far end where the agency’s chief officer dwells.

“Good afternoon, Agent God,” lilts a receptionist’s voice. “Mr Bordello is waiting for you.”
“Thanks,” Chayse replies, sparing a brief nod as he continues towards the officer’s door. “I hope that he hasn’t been waiting long.”

“Then your hopes are as vain as you are.” A tall black chair, oriented towards a window at the end of the spacious office, whirls around to reveal the speaker as Chayse enters.

“Ah! Michael! It’s great to see you,” Chayse exclaims as he takes a seat before his superior’s desk.

“I could almost say the same,” the sturdy, unshaven man on the other side mutters. “Get the door, will you?”

“I’m already sitting.”

“I think that we need to discuss your behaviour on last night’s mission,” Bordello continues, ignoring his guest’s refusal.

“What? I hardly expected you to be troubled by a bit of excessive brutality.”

“It wasn’t the brutality I was referring to,” Bordello says sternly, motioning with a callous hand towards the soiled dress that Chayse still wears.

“Oh. I hardly expected you to be troubled by that either.”

“This was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission! Follow the spies. Get proof of their allegiances. No one told you to kill them!”
“I thought that it was implied.”

“Why would it be implied?”

“Isn’t it always?”

“It . . . It usually is, I suppose. But I can’t see how you intend to remain undetected when you’re dressed in all this business!”

“Undetected? I thought that I was acting more in the capacity of an agent provocateur. Draw them out. Get them to profess their intentions against the state. Sort of thing.”

“And did you do that?”

“Obviously, they’re seeking to destabilise this agency and the great nation it serves. For what other reason would they try to kill me?”

“I’m leaving this discussion for now. We have more pressing matters at hand. One thing, though. Be honest. How long have you been wearing that thing?”

“Since that little palace raid in Moscow.”

“The uprising? That was three weeks ago.”

“Yes.”

“Fantastic.” Michael sighed. “Look. The situation in Teutonia, it’s . . . Well, it’s been in a constant state of deterioration since that jackboot Manich son-of-a-bitched his way into power 30 years ago, but things just got worse.”

“Isn’t that what things do? I thought that we’d given up on Teutonia for the moment. Let things sit for a while. Hasn’t that been the plan?”

“Ordinarily, yes. Top marks for attention, Chayse. But we’ve just received a disturbing bit of information. Or . . . Noticed, more like. Do you recall working with an agent of ours by the name of Fortunado?”

“Of course. He’s an old friend. Fortunado Binks.”

“Actually, I believe he prefers to go by ‘Lamour’ these days.”

“Yes, I suppose he would, wouldn’t he?” quips a new voice at the door. It is a raw, honest voice, and its plebeian undertones belie the subdued sartorial elegance of the diminutive speaker as he closes the office door behind him. As he pulls up a chair by the desk, he glares at Chayse. “A name like ‘Binks’ doesn’t really gel with that darkly romantic image you poncy nobles try ever so hard to cultivate, does it?”

“Ah! Jonathan!” cries Michael in relief. “Thanks for getting the door. What took you so long? I’ve just been . . . Well, I’ve been with Chayse.”

“Sorry, sir. I had a thing.”

“Fair enough. Chayse, I believe you know Jonathan Estmort, our Agent Leroy?”

“We have been acquainted.”

“Sad but true,” sighs Leroy. “Anyway. What’s all this about?”

“I’ve just been briefing Mr God on a new situation Lamour’s gotten himself into. Fortunado took a leave of absence a couple of months back, but he was due to return two weeks ago.

“So? It wouldn’t be the first time that brat’s taken an extended vacation. I’m not seeing the fuss.”

“The fuss is that two weeks is ridiculous even for him!”

“Or me,” murmurs Chayse, raising a hand.

“Or you. Yes, thank you, Chayse. Even that’s not what’s got me worried. His last known location was near Teutonia, and we haven’t heard from the boy in weeks. Needless to say, a bit of foul play’s been suspected.”

“You must be joking,” says Leroy. “You expect us to go on a wild hunt for some dissipated aristocrat? He’s probably just drunk off his ass in the bottom of some hostel somewhere.”

“Naked,” Chayse adds.

“Yes. Drunk and naked. As is his custom. Why are we even wasting breath on this fool?”

“Foolish though he may be, the agency considers Lamour an asset and, if I’ve slept well, I often agree. Given the average Teuton’s reaction to a European nobleman, I rather doubt there’s a hostel in the region that would take him alive, clad or no.”

Pausing for a moment, Michael stands and turns to the window. After a few seconds of thought, he turns back to the seated pair and places his hands firmly on the desk.

“There’s no time for arguing, nor’s there much point. There’s a zeppelin on the roof, and I want you two on it quick-like. Pack your smiles, boys. You’re off for Teutonia.”


Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.