#PitchSlam – Suit Up!

H.E.L.M. communications established. Transmitting across all four platforms. Signal holding strong.

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The time has come, when–through hard work and determination–Recruits become full-fledged heroes. With the aid of several H.E.L.M. Operatives, the squad captains have made their decisions on who will join their teams and Suit Up for the final round, where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will review their entries for requests. Through basic training and combat drills, every Recruit who participated showed courage and fortitude required of all heroes, and is to be commended.

Central Command thanks you for answering the call. A feat such as this would have been impossible without your commitment to your work and the craft. Over the past week, the barracks were filled to the brim with Recruits who had–and still have–everything it takes to be great. Know that if your entry did not find a place on any of the squads, that in no way indicates your story has no place in the world. There were more capable writers and incredible stories than there were positions. Do not let these results dampen the drive and spirit that makes all of you Heroes.

A reminder to any wishing to bid the new squad additions well wishes: please do not comment on any of the posts unless you are an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. or any other bureaus. All compliments and accolades are to be given on the #PitchSlam twitter feed. The Agents will have from now until 3:oo pm Eastern on October 14th, to make requests for the new heroes to join them in field duty using the following format:

Lone Hero – Query and first 10 pages
Dynamic Duo – Query and first 25 pages
The Trio – Query and first 50 pages
Team Takedown – Query and first 100 pages
ASSEMBLE – Query and full

When the request window closes, the Superhero Showdowns begin. Requests will not be revealed until the after the Showdowns are complete.

If more than one Agent makes the same request on a single entry, those agents go head-to-head in hero trivia. Each Agent in the showdown will be tagged in a #SuperheroShowdown tweet. The Agent who answers correctly first keeps their request as is. Their opponent can then choose to have their request demoted one level or wait 24 hours to receive their initial request. OR the Agent can call in for backup.

Agent Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D. is standing by to lend assistance when needed. If contacted, he can come in and negate a loss, ending the showdown in a draw. If absolutely necessary, commander Nick Fury can issue a Showdown Override, upgrading an Agent’s request to the next level if applicable, giving them victory. Agents can call on Coulson three times and Fury twice.

Presenting, the heroes of the H.E.L.M. Initiative.

The Ultimates — See below

We Are Groot

Mutant Charm

The Tricksters

**Battling Hydra’s Crimson Ink

Again, to all who….

ERROR

Signal disruption detected. Security protocols engaged.

ERROR

Signal dis–

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All those receiving this transmission, know that your heroes cannot save you. S.H.I.E.L.D. is defenseless against our tactics. The H.E.L.M. Initiative is doomed. Though you have bolstered your ranks with the entries below, and across the four squad hubs, know that your efforts are futile. We rise, ready to face your warriors with our own. Come. FACE US, if you dare.

Cut off one head, and two more take its place.

Hail Hydra.

S.H.I.E.L.D._x_HYDRA

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Transmission terminated.

static

The Ultimates – The Forever Killings

Name: J. Elliott Grey

Genre: New Adult Sci-Fi Thriller

Word Count: 82,000

Hero: In past emails we determined that Deter is most like Argus Filch. He’s a guy everyone expected to be amazing because of his birth, but then turned out not to be. Then for his whole, disappointing life he is surrounded by truly amazing people. Deter is not happy about this comparison. He says that a.) Filch is not a hero, b.) Filch is balding, and though 90% of Deter’s world is bald, Deter has a beautiful head of hair that is always styled perfectly, and c.) I tweeted that Deter’s superpower was bedding anyone, something Filch simply could not do.

Pitch: There’s a serial killer targeting the once-thought-immortals who rule Earth’s last city. Deter’s tasked with ending the violence, but in his way are giants, telepaths, and a clone who can bend time. Deter’s superpower? Handsomeness.

First 250:
The tunnel’s air was stale, damp, and held hints of the decaying body the cavern it emptied in to contained. This is not my job, Deter thought. His clothing and shoes were custom tailored for the purpose of acquiring admirers, not traversing the mossy rocks of scantly lit caves. This is not my fucking job.

Deter hopped, skipped, and jumped with little resistance from the fine linen of his three piece suit. Click click. Hardened, leather soles and wooden heels found the perfect purchase on the perfect stone. “This is bullshit.”

“What was that, sir?” one of the clones that followed thought it necessary to speak. The fact that Deter’s mother forced him to be in the field was bad enough, but sending clones along was an unforgivable betrayal. They were amusing though. Whereas Deter steadied his feet despite the moss, hopped at every crevice, and ducked whenever the ceiling lowered, the clones slipped, tripped, and cracked their heads. Repeatedly.

“What I wouldn’t give for a Forever’s sight,” it spoke again then stumbled into the ditch Deter just avoided. With the sloshing sound of a clone’s leg in slough, Deter’s cheeks began to rise slightly.

“What about their hearing?” the other asked in a voice that was drenched in disapproval. “Anyways, he’s not a Forever. He’s a Natural… he’s the Natural.”

“Watch your heads.” Deter’s warning arrived half a second too late to save them from further pain. The crashing thump echoed through the tunnel, past Deter, and into the cavern. Deter’s grin widened.

The Ultimates – Firedrake

Name: J.B. Rockwell

Genre: YA Fantasy

Word Count: 95,000

Hero: Boadicea.  Because she kicks ass, isn’t afraid to take charge and she’s not the type to wait around for some big, strong man to save her.

Pitch: Kidnapped, abused, marched through the desert, 16-year-old Akhtimet escapes and swears revenge. She has the Firedrake’s claws and flames, and her own fury, and she’ll use all three to free her Sisters. Or die trying.

First 250:
The rain poured down, pounding on the roof above Akhtimet’s head, filling the nighttime stillness with thunderous noise.  The mists and monsoons of summer brought life to the desert, but the rain, this rain brought nothing but devastation.  This was the Draka-Ushut—the Dragon Rain—a deluge of ash and stone and volcanic glass coughed up by the quaking mountain to the east.  And once it started, it would go on and on for hours.

Akhtimet lay awake in her darkened bedroom, staring into the shadows, listening to the rattle and thump as the Dragon Rain fell.  But a softer sound intruded—an insistent tapping at her bedroom window—and when she looked she saw a tall, slim shadow limned in moonlight, staring at her through the glass.

“Usaan,” she whispered, scurrying from her bed, pushing the panes wide.

The Dragon Rain was in full swing now, pelting the buildings, the streets, everything in sight.  Pelting Usaan who should know better than to be out on a night like this.  Akhtimet grabbed his arm and helped him inside, pushing the window closed behind him.

“What are you doing?  If Father catches us—”

“Shh.” Usaan laid a finger across his lips, glancing meaningfully at her bedroom door.  He dusted his palms across his clothes and hair and then took her by the hand, padding silently across the floor, settling beside her on the bed.  “Wanted to make sure you were alright.”

“Liar.  You came to steal kisses.”

“Well, maybe,” he smiled, brushing his lips across her cheek.

The Ultimates – Independent Operative

Name: Kate Sheeran Swed

Genre: Adult Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 85,000

Hero: If they existed in the same universe, Mary’d be trading tips with Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a the Black Widow. Tony Stark should know as well as anyone how adeptly Natasha slips into various personae—also one of Mary’s specialties. But aside from a talent for undercover ops and delivering thorough beat downs, Natasha’s the only female Avenger. While Mary does have other women on her team, she still knows what it’s like to be different, as she’s the only one of them without powers.

Pitch: Raised by superheroes, Mary must prevent a fiery villain from obliterating their powers and attacking the population–until the not-so-heroic truth about her adopted family’s connection to her murdered parents threatens to shatter her loyalties.

First 250:
No one had tried to kill Mary in over a month, and she was starting to resent it.

Of all the sweaty prosthetic noses and tight sunglasses she’d worn during this punishment of a stakeout, nothing came close to matching the itchy horror of tonight’s black wig. Secured to her head beneath a baseball cap, the ponytail rasped at her neck as if it stood for her whole mission: boring, uncomfortable, and definitely not the right fit. She wanted to rip it off and throw it across the bar. Along with the rest of this damn assignment.

But the only way to prove herself and get back to the good missions was to kick this one’s ass, so she focused on keeping a line of sight on her mark.

“You need backup out there?” Her sort-of boss’s voice buzzed out of her left earring, a hidden com link of Mary’s design. Rhinestones were less conspicuous than earpieces.

“I can handle babysitting,” she muttered, hiding her response behind a fake sip of beer. If she needed help, she’d ask for it. She might not have enhanced abilities like everyone else, but that didn’t mean she screwed up every mission.

Just the last one, and it hadn’t even been that bad.

The bar was crowded tonight, with jersey-clad men packed so close they barely had room to punch each other’s shoulders when one of the tiny baseball players on the TV screens made a hit.

The Ultimates – Talk to Me

Name: Lora Douglas

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Word Count: 100,500.

Hero: Batman – Bruce Wayne – He has no superpowers, just a regular guy, willing to sacrifice everything to accomplish his mission.

Pitch: Hollywood heartthrob, Aiden James, discovers his girlfriend is under Witness Protection. When tabloids expose their secret relationship, Aiden must protect her from the ex-husband who wants her dead or risk her disappearing forever.

First 250:
One, two, three — three production assistants, two stage managers, three stunt coordinators. Jesus, why? No stunt in this scene needed coordinating.

Dodging a gaffer as he rearranged the lights, I made my way through the chaos toward Reed. He balanced a script on his forearm; his fingers curled over the thick collection of papers.

“I dunno,” Reed mumbled, his eyes on the script. “It’s just…”

“Not working,” I snapped. “It doesn’t feel right.”

His highlighter made a dull thump, thump, thump as he drummed it against the page.

“There should be another line here.” Thump. “Or here.” Thump. “But I dunno what.”

My hands flew into the air. “We’ve done thirty takes already. I don’t know what else you want.”

“It’s not you, Aiden,” Reed said, narrowing his eyes. “You nailed every take. All eight of them.”

“We’ve been stuck on this scene all week.”

Reed went back to his script. “That’s because princess pucker-up wanted so many damn rehearsals,” he mumbled.

The thought of her mouth on mine made my skin crawl. Don’t get me wrong. She was definitely easy on the eyes. That’s why she was the “it girl” of the moment.

Reed smirked. “You should thank me for getting this scene out of the way.”

“Yeah, thanks,” I grumbled.

“I’m gonna run this by the writers.” Reed shut his script and glanced at his watch. “You’ve been on your feet for almost five hours. Take a break. Grab some lunch. I’m gonna set up for the POV shot.”

The Ultimates – True Luck

Name: Connie MacElroy

Genre: YA/Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 61,000

Hero: Since Leo Fitz is clever, but socially awkward, Steve takes him as what to do and what NOT to do. He also believes Leo would be a perfect partner for him because, with just a touch of luck, Leo would be unstoppable.

Pitch: STEVE’s a charm whose touch brings luck. Sought by gamblers who want to exploit his power, he recruits the smartest girl in school to help lift the curse so he can live a normal life.

First 250:
I’ve been down this street a hundred times, and never. I can predict each turn, but everything is off. Store windows have been revamped. The people are all strangers.

No question–Stanton is Hometown, so Chance should be somewhere nearby.

A thrill runs through me, propelling me around strolling pedestrians. If I find him, I can get off the streets. I can live a normal life.

I decide to head for Hometown’s park, where we used to meet. I break into a run, anxious to see if he’s there.

But my legs, longer after a summer of growth, betray me. My toe catches the curb, and I go sprawling. Gravel tears into my hands. People rush to help me up. I roll, squirming out of reach. One touch will drain me of luck and attract the men who enslaved me.

“Come on, kid.” A middle-aged man crouches and offers his hand.

“No.” I want to take it, but I can’t.

He reaches closer, fingers inches away. I shrink back and scramble to my feet. My knee aches, and the heels of my hands are scraped. Do-gooders converge on me.

I dart through an opening in the crowd and sprint off.

No one follows, but I jog another block before stopping to look myself over. The cuts on my stinging hands are shallow. One leg of my jeans is ripped out.

Tomorrow, I’ll need to wear different clothes to school. Guidance counselors and other meddlers notice kids with torn clothes and bloody hands.

The Ultimates – Horizon Alpha: Saurians of Eden

Name:  Wendy Vogel

Genre:  MG Sci-Fi

Word Count:  47,000

Pitch: When the human colony New Eden runs out of power, 13YO Caleb must return a missing reactor core on foot through a dinosaur-infested jungle before the electric fences fail and his family is lunch.

First 250:
Sweat beaded on my forehead and trickled down the back of my neck as I lined up with the rest of my unit.  A giant bloodsucker buzzed past my ear and settled on my upper lip.  I snorted, trying to blow it away with quick puffs of breath, not daring to break formation to swat it.  The youngest member of Eden’s pathetic army, I stood rigid under the blazing sun.

“Count off,” General Carthage ordered.

Down the row we called out our names.

“Caleb Wilde, ready!” I barked when it was my turn.

Behind me, the shuttle’s door gaped open and heat poured off the grungy metal wings.

A distant roar echoed down the valley and every head jerked toward the sound.  Across the river, a gargling shriek cut off mid-squeal.

Pilot Bronson ignited the thrusters, drowning out the General’s next words.  The vibration  rumbled across our small electrified haven within the towering jungle.  The General waved us toward the shuttle’s rusty hatch and we trooped forward.  I flicked the engorged bloodsucker off my lip with a wet snap.

Hasta la vista, baby.

I stumbled as a small pair of arms wrapped around my legs from behind.

“Malia, come here this instant!”  Mom’s voice carried over the whine of the thrusters.

I crouched low and my little sister threw herself around my neck. Her tears mingled with the sweat on my cheek. I picked her up, hugging her tight.

“It’s OK, Mali.  I’ll be home in time for dinner,” I said.

The Ultimates – The Book of Adam

Name: Ashley Hearn

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 90,000

Hero: Wolverine. Because he’s a fanged, immortal, mutant freak who goes to Hell too.

Pitch: Adam, a witch-doctor’s son, must find his mama’s missing Philosopher’s Stone to save his soul, but his quest through the Georgia marshes leads him to a family secret that may have already damned him.

250:
A man stood in the crossroads.

His skin glowed with a quicksilver sheen despite the moonless night. His eyes flared red in our headlights and his white hair twisted on a breeze that didn’t rustle the Spanish moss. Through the salt marsh’s rotten-egg stench, I caught a faint whiff of baked sewage, the smell that accompanied all creatures past their expiration date.

So I plowed him over.

A resounding thud! kicked up under the truck.

“Jesus, Adam.” My younger brother, Nathan, thunked against the front panel. “That thing was real!”

I choked back a hunk of panic clogging my throat and slammed the rusty breaks. My chin nailed the steering wheel.

All the spooks and specters Nana dispatched were real. But they weren’t corporeal. I braced myself to find a mangled carcass strewn across the road.

There was no body. Only a humid mist suspended over the red dirt.

“What in the Sam Hill?” I sucked my bloody lip, but even the hint of my girlfriend’s fruity lip gloss couldn’t calm the adrenaline pulsing in time with my rising terror.

Belle Island’s sulfurous air, pine hammocks, and mobile homes made this strip of land the ideal hiding spot for any moron—alive or dead—who appreciated having seven miles of water separating them from paved roads, convenience stores, and Big Macs. I wasn’t a murderer, but I was in deep shit.

“Dude.” Nate tapped his pocket. “Do you have your mojo-bag?”

I fished around my shorts. There was nothing but lint.

The Ultimates – Seeps the Darkness

Name: Neicole M. Crepeau

Genre: Adult Supernatural Thriller

Word Count: 80,000

Heroine:  Claire from the short-lived TV series Heroes, because Jamie’s an ordinary girl forced into a gruesome, nightmarish situation that challenges her to stay strong and figure out the right moral path.

Pitch: Enslaved, Jamie works as Madame of an escort service and helps her demonic, reptilian master torture and murder clients. She’s desperate to escape before her soul’s devoured and she comes to actually enjoy her role.

250:
Standing at the back door to the Castalia Men’s Club, Jamie said a silent prayer to the God she no longer believed in. Please let selling sex be my only crime tonight. She tensed and eased the door open to a fog of voices and the clink of glasses. Stepping through, she rested a hand on the cool leather of the bar and scanned the room.

No sign of him.

With a sigh of relief, Jamie straightened herself and her business skirt and pulled on her manager’s face. She strode across the floor taking stock of her staff as they prepared for the evening’s clientele. The bartender pulled down glasses, expensive crystal sending hard shards of light across the bar’s gleaming wood surface. A group of her girls headed back to change, their young faces glowing, ample curves straining against their street clothes.

Jamie crossed her arms over her own inadequate bosom as they passed, nodding hello. She walked to the table they had vacated. The New York Times lay folded on it, the headline blaring “Brandon Rander Under Investigation for Bribery.” Below it, a picture splashed the familiar face and balding head of one of the club’s frequent clients. Brandon had one hand up in a vain attempt to hold the photographer at bay.

Jamie hugged herself tighter. It’s started.

Behind her, the elevator bell dinged. She turned and the doors opened to reveal Sinder, his blond hair looking greasier than usual.  Seeing her, he advanced. Her stomach squirmed, hope for a normal night fading with his every step.

#PitchSlam Anarchy! Day Thr–…Four?

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H.E.L.M. Communications intercepted. Signal strength holding. It is, indeed, day four, Sir. || No kidding? How did I lose track of an entire day? An hour or two, maybe. I lose track of appointments now and again, but this is… … Continue reading