April 21, 2008

Parthenia Rook, Episode 7: The Gory Candlestick

by Luc Reid

The Bonobo King paced the marble floor of his bedroom in his crimson silk pajamas, unable to sleep again.

His spider monkey lover, Flamenca, stirred in the massive canopy bed. "Come to bed, darling," she said in a sleep-heavy voice. "Whatever it is, you can destroy it in the morning."

"That's exactly it," said the Bonobo King. "I haven't been able to destroy it. It ... her ... Parthenia Rook. I've tried every approach conceivable--an android toddler, zombie photographers, an opposite gender identical twin raised to evil, unbalancing her fruit ... if it weren't for my esophogeal implants, that last miscalcuation would have cost me my life!"

"Let me take your mind off it," said Flamenca, tracing a fold in the gold-embroidered coverlet with one slender toe. "You'll come up with another evil plan tomorrow."

"But if I do, it will come to ruin," said the Bonobo King. "My evil plans are much too fiendishly clever to fail this often. Someone or something is foiling them."

"But no one's smarter than you, darling. And no one could foil your plans unless he were as clever as you are."

The Bonobo King stopped short as an ugly realization came to him. Flamenca must have noticed, for her toe froze in place, and she said in a very careful tone, "What is it?"

"No one is smarter than I am, and only someone as clever as I am could foil my own plans," he said. "Ergo, I am my own nemesis. For some reason I cannot fathom, I am sabotaging my own evil schemes."

Flamenca gasped and the Bonobo King turned and leaped onto the bed, where he crouched over her tiny form. "What?" he said. "What did you think of just then?"

A tear trickled down her furry little cheek, and she shook her head, trembling.

"What is it?" he roared.

"You're ..." she whispered, "You're in love with her, aren't you?"

The Bonobo King screeched with fury and indignation. Snatching a heavy gold candlestick from beside the bed, he struck at Flamenca with it, smashing it down on her fragile body until she was little more than a smear of bloody fur.

Bits of brain stuck to the candlestick, and the Bonobo King threw it aside in disgust as he hopped calmly off the the bed. He resumed his pacing.

"Yes," he said pensively. "You may be right."

September 26, 2007

Parthenia Rook, episode VI: The World's Fair

by Trent Walters

For previous episodes in Parthenia Rook, see the archive.

Parthenia, in her shiny leather pants and pineapple sunglasses for a disguise, scanned the crowds for signs of a barefoot chimpanzee in an Italian suit made out of chitin. The digital displays that flowed down the sides of her sunglasses assured her no zombie photographers slouched in the vicinity.

An anonymous tip had warned that the Bonobo King would "arrive today to rain on the world's parade," and Parthenia believed it. The Bonobo King always emailed his anonymous threats in assonance.

However, there was no hint of clouds in the pale sky above Vörpalsberg. Only the bittersweet scent of coffee wafted up from the four hundred cafes--reminding her of wasted kirchenstreuselkuchen.

Her stomach rumbled at the loss. No, it wasn't her stomach, or else her stomach was making the silverware rattle and the dishes clatter. Earthquake? Probably more like the overgrown earthworms that Dr. Mandril had genetically engineered to attack Manhattan.

That's when Parthenia saw the swift-moving cloud, the tail end of which twinkled like stars on a humid night. Parthenia turned her sunglasses to the dark mass, to allow the pineapples (actually, radar dishes with astounding pick-up) a chance to bounce and receive beams off the disturbance, but Dr. Mandril must have either devised a cloaking device or come up with something more sinister.

A plague of locusts? Not the Bonobo King's style.

A gust of wind jostled the crowd. They looked up. That's when Parthenia felt a lump in her throat. Dr. Mandril had engineered a Zemeros giganticus. A giant butterfly. Gorgeous. Parthenia stood paralyzed with awe.

But the twinkling that trailed the butterfly snapped her out of her reverie. Their plan was for Parthenia, the world-famous lepidotrist, to fall so in love that she wouldn't protect the world from the Bonobo King and his minions. It might have worked if the Bonobo King's zombies, harnessed in anti-grav devices, didn't have to photograph the fair before wrecking ruin. Parthenia Rook tapped her platform heels to jet--Kung Fu fists first--into the butterfly's maw.

July 19, 2007

Parthenia Rook V: In Rio de Janeiro with a Gnome

by Sara Genge

The garden gnome had never envisioned himself parading in Rio de Janeiro dressed only in feathers, a pineapple hat and a thong, but when Parthenia Rook came to him and asked his help to defeat the Bonobo King... well, she was a superheroine in leather pants. Besides, at that stage, nobody had mentioned thongs.

Parthenia's costume was rather more elaborate. Albert thought she must be carrying about a hundred pounds of fruit which, sadly, covered her from head to foot. Her plan was to infiltrate one of the blocos and parade through the city. Bonobo King would not be able to resist their fruity head-ornaments and when he approached them and tried to steal their irresistible mangoes and bananas, Parthenia would knock him out with her patented leather-boot triple kick. It seemed like a fool-proof plan at the time. Alas, as many other fool-proof plans in superhero history, it wasn't.

When they saw the Bonobo King, Parthenia Rook pushed the gnome behind her and faced her archenemy. Albert thought it was very heroic of her and peered out from behind her fruity derriere.

"At last we meet, Bonobo King," she said.

The Bonobo King's eyes darted from bananas to oranges to melons. He seemed frozen with indecision. Finally he knuckled up to Parthenia and reached up for the cherry dangling from her ear. Parthenia jumped forward... and toppled over from the sheer weight of the fruit basket attached to her head.

Albert stared at the Bonobo King over the fallen heroine's body.

"Er... at last we meet..." It didn't sound as portentous as he'd hoped. "Fruit, anyone?"

The Bonobo King put the cherry in his mouth and stared at the garden gnome. His face twisted into a mask of pure evil. Then he started laughing. Albert thought he was never going to stop. He pointed at Albert and jumped up and down, eyes watering and belly rumbling. Mortified, the garden gnome wished Bonobo King would get on with
business and kill him already, but then the ape went blue in the face, started coughing and toppled over.

Parthenia Rook emerged from the mountain of fruit. "Cherry pits plus laughter. Never fails," she said, marching triumphantly over the Bonobo King's body. "Thank you. I couldn't have done this without you, Albert."

Albert trailed behind. "Aren't you gonna, you know, check that he's really dead?"

"No, superheroes never double-check stuff. There is such a thing as style." Albert glanced back doubtfully: he was sure he'd seen that ape twitch.

June 19, 2007

Parthenia Rook, episode IV: In the Hall of the Bonobo King

by Rudi Dornemann


THE BONOBO KING, a chimpanzee in an expensive Italian suit, sans shoes, walks down the hallway, accompanied by two of his associates: DR MANDRILL, a blue-faced, red-nosed monkey in a white lab coat and HENCH, a shaggy gigantopithecus in stained overalls.

BONOBO KING: Brilliant work, Dr. Mandrill. The anti-gravity suit worked exactly as you said it would. Like being lifted up by the hands of angels. Perfect.

MANDRILL: Thank you, my liege. I trust the baby-bot and zombirazzi performed as expected?

BONOBO KING: They seem to have worked splendidly. After all, Hench got in and out of Fort Knox without any interference by the annoying Ms. Rook. Didn't you, Hench?

HENCH: In-got.

MANDRILL: If it pleases your excellency, I have a boon to ask.

BONOBO KING: Ask away.

[They enter A GRAND DINING ROOM furnished in gold-crusted Louis XVI furniture.]

MANDRILL: From now on, I would like to be known as "Zaius."

BONOBO KING [peeling a grape with his toes]: Zaius?

HENCH: Zay-us.


BONOBO KING [through mouthful of pomegranate]: That's ridiculous. Your name is Oscar. [Spits seeds.] It's a perfectly nice name.

HENCH: Oss-car.

MANDRILL: But Zaius just sounds so much more...

[The Bobobo King gnaws on a pineapple.]

MANDRILL: ...scientific.

BONOBO KING: Pfaugh! We've talked about this before. How those Planet of the Apes movies systematically misrepresent the glories of the coming pan-simian age...

MANDRILL: Isn't it funny how "pan-simian" starts with the name of your genus.

[The Bonobo King freezes, his teeth just sinking into a kumquat, and stares coldly at his chief scientist.]

BONOBO KING: Exactly what part of "king" is it that you don't understand, Oscar?

[Dr. Mandrill manages to return the stare for a few seconds before faltering and looking away.]

MANDRILL [quaveringly]: My apologies. I forgot myself.

BONOBO KING: Take that tone with me again, and I'll ask that Gibbon sisters make sure that everyone else forgets you as well.

[Dr. Mandrill falls groveling at the king's feet.]

HENCH: Pan-sim. I...

[His expression suggests he's forgotten what he's going to say next.]

BONOBO KING: Come on-- [Burps.] Haven't you got some new and even more nefarious devices to demonstrate? I believe you mentioned something about a giant robot that transforms into a robot giant?

MANDRILL: Oh, yes. I've worked up a few things I think you'll enjoy quite a bit. And Parthenia Rook won't enjoy at all. Heh. Heh-heh.


MANDRILL [maniacally]: Eee-hee, eee-hee, hee-hee-heeeeee!

HENCH [uncertainly]: HEH.


June 1, 2007

Parthenia Rook, Episode 3: Fallen Lepidopterists

by Luc Reid

The android toddler, Parthenia Rook reflected, had in the end been more dangerous than the zombie photographers. But far more dangerous than either was the kirchenstreuselkuchen at the Café Gefahrlichefrau in Vörpalsberg, where Parthenia was seated in a small, private room with a piece of the cake in front of her. If she didn't restrain herself, she could eat enough kirchenstreuselkuchen to burst an anaconda wide open. She knew this from experience.

"Excuse me, Fraulein Doktorin, but aren't you Parthenia Rook?"

Parthenia looked up to see a handsome young man of about her age at the door holding a copy of The Journal of Theoretical Lepidoptery.

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Dr. Rook, but I've read your monograph on Zemeros dinonoctis and I'm afraid I'm a hopeless fan. It was the most fascinating work I've ever read on any butterfly whatsoever."

"Please sit down," said Parthenia guardedly. "Don't I know you from somewhere?" She took a small vial she kept for special occasions out of her pocket and tapped a few aromatic drops of its contents over her kirchenstreuselkuchen.

"Oh, I don't think so," said the young man.

"Lepidoptery symposium?" she said. The young man shook his head.

"Martial arts fight-to-the-death benefit performance?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Family event?"

The young man smiled slowly. It was not a nice smile. "Closer."

Parthenia lurched up from her chair, but the young man appeared to be at least as fast as she was and shot her in the chest with a burst of some electrical weapon. She collapsed to the floor, quivering.

"It's a new type," he said cheerfully. "That shot should keep you paralyzed, though fully conscious, for oh ... call it twenty minutes," he said. "More than enough time, actually, to eat your kirchenstreuselkuchen for you. I can't resist these, I don't mind telling you. But you should know that. You see," he said, sitting and forking up a huge bite of the cake, "I'm your identical twin brother."

Parthenia said nothing, but the young man raised his eyebrows. "You don't believe me? Despite father's remarkable skill with genetics? But it's true, dear sister."

He continued to eat the kirchenstreuselkuchen, making little humming noises of pleasure. "Of course," he mumbled through a mouthful, "I was raised by the Bonobo King."

Then his eyes glazed over, and he collapsed on top of Parthenia. He should be out for at least 30 minutes, Parthenia calculated, if he'd ingested enough of the knockout drops she had put on the cake.

Parthenia spent the remaining seventeen minutes gazing wistfully at a crumb of kirchenstreuselkuchen that had fallen only three inches from her face.

May 18, 2007

Parthenia Rook, Episode 2: The Shoe in the Brain

by Luc Reid

Parthenia Rook stumbled out of the smoking wreckage of the downed Zeppelin Regret, bruised and bloody and cross-eyed with exhaustion from her fight with the android toddler, whose limbs lay scattered across the cobblestones of the town square. Above the spires and 400-year-old cafes of Vörpalsberg, the former passengers of the Zeppelin drifted through the sky under their improvised bedsheet parachutes like dandelion fluff.

Parthenia was exhausted. The Bonobo King could send a three-year-old with a kitchen knife to kill her at this point, and she'd be too tired to resist. Come to think of it, that was more or less what he'd just done. It had almost worked.

She slumped down on a chair outside one of the cafes and waited for a waiter, which was ironic. She was not pleased when the square, which she began to realize was strangely quiet, began to fill from all directions with zombie photographers who lurched toward her, clicking death cameras that flung out bolts of electricity.

Without pausing to think, Parthenia leapt up to grab the awning above her and flung herself into the air, performing a full backflip over the nearest zombie to land with one foot planted on the back of its head. The zombie crumpled under her, its head bursting on the cobblestones like a ripe grapefruit. Parthenia stepped away, leaving her shoe lodged in the former zombie's former brains. She really should not have worn heels.

As the zombie photographers closed in around her, Parthenia kicked off her other shoe and looked around for a weapon. It was interesting: she really wasn't as tired as she'd thought.

May 11, 2007

Parthenia Rook, Episode 1: The Third Oldest Trick

by Luc Reid

Parthenia Rook was an accomplished pilot, an expert with clockwork, a certified public accountant, a master of more than 870 convincing disguises, a sharpshooter, a xenobiologist, a famous stamp collector, and a world champion at reverse checkers. Yet none of her skills could help her as the power-crazed Bonobo King dangled an unconscious three-year old over edge of the gasbag of the massive dirigible Regret and instructed Parthenia to jump, or he would drop the child.

She had no doubt he meant what he said. Yet if Parthenia jumped, who would save the passengers of the Regret from being crashed into the middle of the World's Fair and Exposition? Parthenia hesitated. The Bonobo King cackled and let the toddler slip another inch. If only his exoskeletal armor didn't give him such incredible strength!

"The primary difference between humans and bonobos, as I see it," said the Bonobo King putting one hand behind his back, "is that when nature decided to branch into our superior race and your naked and confused one, it left only us with the ability to act decisively."

"If you drop that girl, there won't be anything to stop me from killing you," said Parthenia.

"It's not a girl," said the Bonobo King.

What? Parthenia gaped at the child. She was wearing a little pink dress. She had tumbly blonde hair. How--

Thwack. The paralysis dart slapped meatily into Parthenia's thigh. She had fallen for the third oldest trick in the book. In seconds, she would lose consciousness and fall. She had only one chance.

"Hey!" Parthenia cried out, pointing into the distance. "What's that?"

The Bonobo King looked. Parthenia leapt, her brain swirling as the paralysis dart began to take effect. The Bonobo King had barely begun to realize his mistake when Parthenia crashed into him, grabbing the falling child and entangling them both in the ropes that crisscrossed the Regret's gasbag. The Bonobo King was less fortunate: the force of Parthenia's tackle sent him sprawling, then tumbling over the edge and down into the clouds. Parthenia could hear his maniacal laughter as he fell, and a part of her feared that she might have somehow just played right into his hands. Or paws. Whatever.

"Don't worry, little girl," Parthenia mumbled as the paralysis overtook her. "I'll wake up in just a few minutes and get you to safety."

"I'm not a girl," said the child, and laughed like the Bonobo King.