The Paragons: Deus Ex Astra, Book 1, Chapter 7: The Bacchanalia

by CSyphrett and Doc Quantum

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In an English manor house, Mick Fleeter smiled under his blue wig, colorful striped costume, and bright makeup. This job had been so easy that he could hardly believe it. The Madmen were really cleaning up this time, and there was no Blue Beetle in sight to spoil it all. Things couldn’t have been better. Mick was glad he took this job for the Irish Republican Army.

Of course, he wasn’t going to kill the Prince of Wales like the IRA wanted. That just wasn’t his style. He didn’t kill unless he had to.

Not far away, another man who held binoculars to his eyes smiled when he spotted the costumed leader of the Madmen cross in front of the window. He had been right after all.

The man placed his binoculars on the passenger seat of the Land Rover and donned the last two pieces of his own costume. The first was a black metallic mask that completely covered his face and was shaped in the form of a lion’s head. The other was a green army jacket emblazoned with the lion of Scotland in black against a yellow background on one arm and the number 42 on the other. His name also had been sewn in bold letters on the jacket.

He seized the top of the wall and vaulted over it, then slowly walked up to the manor house. It was time for the Black Lion to go to work.


Jock o’ Kent listened intently to the sounds of Great Britain. A ruckus was growing somewhere.

Then the black dog following him around began to bark frantically at him from the bottom of the steps. “You again?” Jock said. “What do you mean Constant can’t hold out for much longer? He just better well do so until I check out that noise I hear.”

The dog moaned slightly in reply.

“This one last thing and I will tend to Constant, and Prince Charlie besides,” Jock promised, with the tip of his toe, he added silently. The dog’s stubby, black tail wagged frantically with happiness. It jumped up in the air, tongue lolling to one side. “I’m glad you’re so estactic,” said the strongman. “Be off with you now.” The black dog vanished into the night.

“Talking dogs,” said Jock as he jogged away from the police station. “What kind of assistant will that imbecile take on next? A parakeet?” He vanished down the street in the opposite direction.

Not long afterward, Jock o’ Kent reached Newport, Wales. A fracas had indeed broken out there, and the wizard hero shook his head slightly when he saw who it was. Two old mythical creatures had decided to use downtown Newport as a romper room. His wizard senses told him they had been created by the same source of magic that had transformed a group of old ladies into Amazon warriors and a lorry driver into a giant. It was time to put a stop to this nonsense.

“Hey, you two,” Jock shouted. “Time to go to gaol.”

“Ha,” said Taurus, the giant bull, in words that would have sounded to anyone else like a bull’s snorting. “Who’s this imbecile?”

“We’re having a private discussion right now,” said the Calydonian Boar in words like a pig’s oinking as he stared hatefully at the wizard hero. “Can you please come back later?”

“Let me tell you about my night,” said the strongman as he strode forward. “I have already had to deal with an Amazon invasion, a demon lord, and a Fomorian giant. I am not in the mood for any more troubles.”

“My heart bleeds,” said Taurus, snorting steam from his snouts, “just like this loser once I’m done with him.”

“We will see who’ll be losing bodily fluid,” said the Calydonian Boar as he slammed the bull through a storefront. In seconds, the two combatants were going at it again.

Jock sighed as he stepped up to the box. These two twits couldn’t be allowed to wreck anything else. Taurus swung his horns at Jock as the hero stepped into reach. The brawny hero let the horns slide harmlessly over his shoulder as he grabbed the Calydonian Boar with one hand by the tusk. The giant boar thrashed wildly to bring the hero down, but Jock blocked him with his massive foot and brought it around in a kick at the bull, who had tried to gore the wizard hero once more with his horns.

The Welshman caught the Calydonian Boar with a neck grip, and the boar struggled fiercely, managing to slice the skin of Jock’s massive arm with a tusk. The strongman then jackhammered the boar in the stomach with a series of short, powerful jabs to bring him down.

At that moment, Taurus charged the hero again, but Jock merely leaped over the bull and delivered a sledgehammer blow to the top of the Calydonian Boar’s head. The boar went out like a light, and the hero let his antagonist fall to the street as he turned to meet his remaining foe.

Jock o’ Kent and Taurus came together in the middle of the Newport street, the hero’s gauntleted fists meeting the bull’s horns with mighty blows that shocked the air. But neither opponent landed a blow on each other’s body until Jock finally managed to poke the side of Taurus’ neck, making the bull pull back and to the side. It also left him off balance.

The wizard hero stepped up and kicked the stunned bull in the jewels. Taurus collapsed in pain, while Jock stepped back to get the range right. Then he brought both hands down on the top of the bull’s head, the blow driving his enemy into the ground like a tent peg.

He watched as Taurus and the Calydonian Bull changed back into the couple of drunkards they’d originally been, and he dropped them off with the local constable to sleep it off in the drunk tank.

“That takes care o’ that,” Jock said to himself. “Now to look into this thing with Constant.” He ran out of Newport and headed for Glastonbury.


In England, the Black Lion entered the manor house he had been surveilling through a window and roamed the halls like a shadow come to life. Wherever he went, he searched for the brightly clad Madmen, but strangely enough none of them seemed to be on guard. Judging by the sounds of revelry in the manor’s grand ballroom, everyone was gathered in there.

To be sure, the black-masked man searched the manor. After several minutes of work, the ballroom remained the only room in the whole manor that he had not yet entered. He opened the doorway silently, expecting to spot the Madmen and their leader.

The Black Lion was instead surprised to see a scene of drunken revelry straight out Caligula. The grand ballroom was full of both men and women in various states of undress, all of whom appeared to be Greek or Roman mythological figures come to life. Several were writhing on the ground, bound by ropes, but the rest were dancing crazily. He spotted Prince Charles as the sole normal person in the room, bound unconscious in a corner. Large vats of alcohol were everywhere, and the smell of booze was strong. The people were apparently under the spell of one figure who acted as the ringleader, urging them all on to greater ecstasy and ritual madness. After a few moments of observation, he was able to gather that the ringleader was called Bacchus, after the Roman version of the god Dionysus, and this was some sort of wild Bacchanalia.

The Scottish commando was briefly puzzled by the scene but was convinced that the Madmen were behind this. Closing the door, the Black Lion readied several tear gas grenades he had with him and then reopened the door and threw them in. Smiling under his black lion’s-head mask, which he had equipped with a gas filter, he charged forward silently and killed the lights, then reinforced the door. He knew the windows were already fastened shut.

Few of the wild Greek partygoers saw him until he was directly upon them. Those who spotted him and still tried to fight off the effects of the gas instead disappeared into a tangle of arms and legs. Horrible thumps and the cracks of broken bones sounded as combatants flew across the room. Within moments, the gas had done its work, and the room was still.

The Black Lion turned on the lights, only to find that the scene had changed. Instead of a room full of the mad worshippers of Dionysus, it contained the entire servant staff of the manor house and the brightly clad members of the Madmen. All were unconscious. In the corner where Bacchus had been was now the leader of the Madmen.

Mick Fleeter stirred but was too stunned to crack even one of his typical jokes or crass remarks. The leader of the criminal gang began to back up from the black-masked, green-clad figure of the Black Lion, who approached him in complete silence, ignoring the others, who were mostly still unconscious. The Black Lion clamped his hand around the back of Mick’s neck, and he slammed the blue-haired man into a wall, face first.

“When you are released from prison,” the Black Lion said, his icy voice accompanied by a strong Scottish brogue that sounded like a chainsaw, “go back to America. The next time I see you, I will hurt you, and you will stay hurt.”

Then the lights went out for Mick Fleeter as his head slammed into the wall again.

The Black Lion tied up the rest of the costumed criminals before they awoke. He opened the window to air out the room, then released the stunned Prince of Wales and his maidservants and butlers from the ropes that bound them before exiting through the window. He had no idea what had gone on this night or what kind of spell they had all been under, let alone what connection this could have to something much larger. The most important thing to him was that he had completed his mission. Prince Charles was free, and the Madmen would be tried in court. Hopefully they would also provide enough incriminating evidence to arrest a few high-ranking members of the IRA.

Still, he couldn’t understand what had prompted them to hire those lunatics in the first place. “All style,” he muttered to himself as he crossed the lawn, “and no substance.”

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