The Peculiar Arrival of Shang-Crease
The Peculiar Arrival of Shang-Crease
By SuperFolder Jar Jar Pleats
Chapter 1: The Journey Ends
This is it. This is the end; the end of the path I started on not so long ago. In reality of course it has actually been quite some time. Almost two years, in fact. But still, it always seems like your time was too short when you finish doing something you truly enjoy.
I stare up from a bed that isn’t really my own at a ceiling that until recently seemed foreign to me. I drag my feet, eyes heavy, towards the bonsai tree in my windowsill, and stare out at the newly awakened streets. Just as normal of a day as any to most. But for me, Oliver Wendell, it is the last I will see of Hong Kong for some time; maybe even forever.
Gosh, I hope not. I love this place too much to stay away that long. Japan has such a lovely history and so many unique characteristics that separate it from anything else. It’s why I chose to do my foreign exchange trip here in the first place. I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture (no, I’m not a weeb, shut up). And now, my time in one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in the world, is over.
I sigh and grab my bag, already packed; I didn’t want to mope around any more than I had to around my temporary adoptive family. Despite a lack of any actual blood relation, one would assume I was just as much their family as their own relatives. If I seemed even the least bit off, they would be able to tell. I put on my best happy face and walk down the stairs.
“Ohayō! <Morning!>” I yell down as I make my way to their kitchen. As always, they’ve already woken up and started the day a good hour before anyone else.
For the most part, the day was no different from normal: happy, cheerful conversation (in rudimentary Japanese, of course; the language is the one aspect I’ve never particularly enjoyed), a playful jab from Haruto, their son and my brother as far as I’m concerned, and a hearty Japanese breakfast. The only, actually major difference is that this would be the last time.
As I begin to get ready to leave, I jump up and run back up to my room. I had almost forgotten it! I rushed to my dresser and opened the top drawer. There, staring up at me, was an origami Shang-Chi, the best martial artist in all of Marvel Comics. Everyone knows that my love for Japan is only bested by my love for Marvel Comics. It only made sense to combine the two through origami. I pick him up and he stares back at me, his determined face giving me the will to walk back down and face my destiny. Whatever was coming next, I would go to it with a brave and happy heart.
When we reach the airport, I hug the three of them, promising to visit or at least call as often as I can. I set my stuff in the compartment above my head, and stare out my window, thinking. I don’t know why I’m writing this, to be honest, as I make the flight home. I need to shake this worried feeling. I know Wheeler won’t be nearly the same as the formal schooling in Hong Kong, but it’s hardly the end of the world.
I stare at Shang-Chi. He’ll probably need to stay at home from here on out as well. Imagine that, I thought to myself. An origami superhero at a high school in New York. Oh, the laughs I’d get for that. The thought makes me chuckle even into the next morning, as the plane begins its landing many hours later.
Chapter 2: A New Journey Begins?
….well, then. That was unexpected.
If you had told me before I’d left that the entirety of Wheeler would be overrun by origami within the past two years, origami based on Marvel Comics no less, I would have laughed you out of my sight. But as I walk up the bus steps, what do I see but a plethora of Marvel origami, as paper is thrown, grabbed, and ripped in every seat. The bus driver wearily told me to find a seat somewhere.
From what I could gather just by watching, it looked like this bus had fallen victim to containing kids from two different schools. What was the other’s name again? Wheeler, I obviously knew, but what was the other called…
“Kirbies!” someone yelled angrily. I wheeled around to see a kid, presumably from Kirby, was gathering up everyone’s pieces of paper and throwing them out of the window as they came to him. He was clearly not in the mood for the paper war raging around him.
I chose to turn back around. If memory served, ‘Kirbies’ gave more than they got in return when it came to the little school feud between them. I was not about to get involved, especially to help the Kirby brat. But at least I knew my concern over keeping Shang-Chi on me was unnecessary.
For a short while, I just sat there quietly. Then, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a kid was peeking over at me from a nearby seat just behind and across the aisle. He nudged his companion, who appeared to be listening to classical music, and began to point at my pocket. His pal and I both looked to my pocket at the same time, where Chi could be seen peeking through. I instinctively covered my pocket, and the two began to murmur to one another.
Maybe my concern was warranted after all. I should be more careful.
Chapter 3: Friends New and Old
I walked into the cafeteria, scanning the collection of heads bobbing around. I was looking for someone in particular, but I wasn’t sure I was going to find them. It had been so long since I had spoken to him last, I was afraid he may have moved away or something. I hadn’t heard from him much since my move. After a moment of scouring the crowds, I decided on a different tactic. I smiled, cupping my hands over my mouth and yelled,
“Garfield!! Lasagna’s ready!!!”
Out of the entire crowd of screaming kids, one stood up straight in legitimate confusion, turning around to see where the voice had come from. His eyes widened with shock and embarrassment as I hugged my long lost friend. “It’s just Gar, and you know it,” he responded. “Only my mother ever calls me Garfield.”
“Whatever you say, Garfy,” I chuckle. He rolls his eyes as we sit down.
“So what’ve you been up to, man?” I say as I lay my backpack down. “Seems like a lot has changed since I left.”
“Oh, you have no idea,” he said. “The war has been escalating quite a bit since you left.”
“War? That’s a little excessive. I’d hardly call paper finger puppets a serious problem. Still, you should’ve seen my bus this morning.”
“Oh yeah, there are certain buses that are forced to carry students from both schools. They’re always at a boiling point,” he said. “Believe me, it’s way bigger than you might realize. And these ‘paper finger puppets’ have been a part of this fight much longer than any of us.”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘us’?”
He laid a solid black puppet of his own on the table in front of me. Besides being all black, it also had small, piercing white eyes and pointy ears. Hold on a minute…
“No, dummy. This is Black Pen-ther,” he said with a grin.
I rolled my eyes. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. You too? I thought you were neutral in all this.”
“Oh, I was for a while. But eventually,” he continued, putting…uh, Pen-ther away, “I couldn’t stand by and watch it go on around me. People needed to stand up and help out where the teachers and faculty can’t. That’s why Clark, Adam and the others formed the OrigAvengers-“
“Oh for God’s sake, Garf-“
“No, listen, I’m serious. There are good and bad people on both sides of this war. The OrigAvengers are made up of some of the best I know. Talent shows, school plays, sports events; they’ve all become ground zero for the next bug rift between Kirby and Wheeler. These guys help stop the situation from getting out of control. Maybe even make it better.”
“I don’t know man, it seems to me like it’s just a bunch of people still trying to be kids.”
Garf smirked. “Well, you’re one to talk,” he said, pointing at my backpack. I wheeled around to see Shang-Chi sticking out of the front pocket. I quickly grabbed him and shoved him in my pocket. “I-I don’t know what you mean,” I said, trying to keep the stammer out of my voice. It wasn’t working.
“I mean,” Gar continued, still with a hint of a smirk on his mug, “you seem to be quite against origami for someone who has one of his own. Who is that, Bruce Lee?”
I sighed. “No, it is not Bruce Lee. It’s Shang-Chi. And I’m not…against origami, per se. I just don’t have any tolerance for this war. Not anymore.”
Immediately afterwards, I began to feel a tingly sensation at the back of my neck, almost like I was being watched. I turned to my right to see a taller boy at the other side of the table peering up at me from the corner of his eye. When he realized I was staring at him in return, he quickly looked away, not saying a word.
If there was one thing that annoyed me more than anything else, it was eavesdroppers. Especially when it came to my own personal information. Stuff like that should not be made public unless I make it public. “Hey, buddy,” I said, tapping the table. No answer. “Hey, Earth to interloper, my eyes are up here buddy.” I lightly kicked his leg to get his attention.
For a brief moment, no one reacted, except for me pulling my leg back to hold my throbbing foot. Wow, that hurt! I thought. What, did I hit the table leg by mistake? However, a silence had fallen over the nearby kids at the table. Gar’s eyes widened, and then he made a chopping motion at his neck. When I responded with a confused expression, he gave up and casually looked away and began whistling a tune. When I had turned back around, the taller boy was sitting bolt upright, eyes wide and getting redder by the second. It seemed it took all of his strength not to stand up and throw me over the table.
Then, he decided he would stand up after all.
Oh, lovely. A fight on my first day back. What’d I do?
I didn’t get the chance to find out. Right as he was almost fully standing, a girl sitting across the table noticed and grabbed his hand. He shot her a glare, but she returned it with a compassionate look that slowly began to soften his own. He composed himself, sat back down, and acted like nothing had happened.
I slowly turned back around to face Gar, who had begun watching as well at some point. “Ohhhh-kay,” I said, looking at him. “What was that about?”
“That’s uh, Kev.” He started to whisper. “If you didn’t notice, he has a prosthetic leg. Y’know, the leg you kicked?”
“Yeah, I kinda figured he had a brace or something on. He’s got a bit of a temper on him, doesn’t he?” ‘Kev’ gave me a sideways glance at my remark, but didn’t react. He must have heard me. “And who’s the girl?” I whispered.
“That’s Cassidy. And don’t even think about it. As you can see, she’s taken.” I leaned back; she was talking and holding hands with Kev. “Those two are Vision and the Scarlet Witch.”
“They’re in on this too? Who doesn’t have origami around here? Maybe I can hang out with those guys instead.”
Gar frowned. “You don’t seem to be taking this very seriously, Oscar. I’m telling you, this war is getting worse by the day. It’s really only a matter of time before-“
Before he could jabber on about “The Cause,” or whatever it was he had gotten himself into, a large crowd started gathering at the other end of the cafeteria. Something was going on.
I stood up and attempted to get a good look over the crowd. There was chanting and yelling going around, stuff like “Kirby’s at it again!” or “Now they’ve gone too far!” Over their heads, I could barely make out the source of their anger: harsh remarks against Kirby, the parts I could make out seeming to be a nasty slur or two that I won’t repeat here.
I sat back down, and Gar turned back to face me. “The origami isn’t just a silly gag, Oscar. It means something. In many ways, it’s an extension of us. Kev used to be Artron, quick to anger and his own impulses. But through becoming Vision, and with Cassidy there too, he’s getting better. Your little scuffle is a testament to that. I have Black Panther because I strive to be more like him from the comics: calm, collected, and not quick to anger or judgment. So there’s definitely a hidden reason why you decided to make a puppet of Shang-Chi, Oscar. So why did you? What does Shang-Chi mean to you?”
I paused, not sure how to answer.
Without missing a beat I stood up, waved, and left for class. Saved by the bell, indeed.
Chapter 4: Normal
I left the lunchroom and made my way to my next class, trying to wrap my head around my conversation with Gar. It didn’t make sense. Why was this little spat between the two schools so intense? It never seemed to be this big before I left for Japan. What changed? Was it because of the origami? Why would everyone voluntarily carry around wads of folded paper? Folded into characters from Marvel Comics, no less? It sounds….it just sounds…
I stare down at my right pants pocket, holding Shang-Chi at waist level to keep him hidden. It all sounds so….convenient.
I thrust my hand back into my pocket angrily. Why do I even have this thing? It’s hardly something to be proud of, let alone wave around like a badge of honor. It’s no secret I wasn’t exactly voted Most Popular or Most Likely to Not Be A Dork back in Japan, but I at least tried to act normal.
Normal. What does that even mean anymore? It clearly doesn’t mean the same thing it did a week ago. It’s almost like somewhat reversed the laws of nature; what was once considered strange and dorky is now considered….
I shake my head and continue on to class. No, no, I think to myself. You’re not gonna think about it. To everyone else, you’re just the new kid. Keep it that way. Earn the trust of a few individuals. Make a few friends. You’ll survive this yet. You can put all this behind you…
I take another look at Shang-Chi, the bright red and black marker glistening in the light.
You can be normal.
Chapter 5: The First Incident
Unfortunately, my plan began to crumble the moment I had finished making it.
From the other end of the long hallway, I heard a scuffle start and then the heavy footsteps of someone running towards me. I looked up to see a large guy running straight towards me at a breakneck speed. He was being chased across the hall by one or two other students, who were yelling after him.
Of course, this isn’t the first thing my brain registered. The first thing my brain registered was a massive seven foot guy running towards me at full speed!
In a moment of pure panic, I jumped to the left to keep from dying on school grounds. Something tells me that would have been bad for business. In the process, my knee kicked out from underneath me as he tripped across my legs.
Have you ever seen something gain a lot of speed and then suddenly stop? It doesn’t really stop right away. No, all that momentum takes that object for a bit of a ride before it fully stops. That’s what this guy did. Me accidentally tripping him sent him careening down the hallway like a tumbleweed for about another twelve feet or so. Face first.
Needless to say I wasn’t about to stick around and witness his reaction to whoever had sabotaged his great escape. Instead, I got up and attempted to continue on my way to my next class. The crowd that had gathered had other plans, though. They all began to swarm me, shrieks and hollers abound.
“You got him!”
“Did you see what he did?”
“…something out of a kung fu movie!”
It seemed like the more I tried to weave my way through the crowd, the more trapped I became. For a brief moment, panic set in. I can’t be caught up in all this. Not again. But it became more and more obvious that it was far too late to try and slink away. I slowly turned back around to face the boy.
He was smaller than he had seemed a moment ago. Shorter than me, even. Not by a lot, but it was apparent. What had made me so scared not a moment ago? For the life of me I couldn’t recall. He began to compose himself, wiping his face and staring up at the crowd, his brief confusion turning quickly to anger.
“Your self-entitlement has gone too far!” he snarled. “Be sure of this: when the dust clears from this conflict, Kirby will be the school remaining! Kirby will win the war!” No sooner had he finished his sentence, he bolted up and out the front door of the school, presumably back to Kirby.
Finally, I thought I had the opportunity to leave and be done with this. But before I turned, the familiar glint of marker and Sharpie flickered in the corner of my eye. Others must have noticed it too, because a few were pointing and staring. I bent down to pick up the strange piece.
It was origami, that much was for certain. But it had a craftsmanship to it that was unlike the other puppets I had seen thus far. This was handmade, done with care. The level of detail in the folding alone, not to mention the artistry, was reminiscent of cranes, frogs, and other complex origami that is token with Japanese creations. This piece…a lot of time was spent on this. I flipped it over onto the back. Besides being just as detailed and colored as the front, there was a square of Velcro attached to it. I hadn’t seen it on the bully’s finger earlier, though. He must have had it attached to his shirt with this.
Someone glanced over my shoulder. “Who is it this time?”
Another kid glanced over. “I’ve read a lot of Marvel comics before,” he sighed. “But I’ve never seen anything like this guy before.”
“That’s because he’s barely even a character,” I blurted out, frowning. “He’s barely mentioned, or ever even talked about. This is Ghost-Maker. A classic Bronze Age villain of…”
I paused, confused.
“Of what?” the two boys asked.
“Of who, actually. Grigori Sovchenko; the Ghost-Maker. He’s a classic villain from…from Shang-Chi comics.”
I stood up and began to force my way through the crowd. I don’t know what is going on, but I do know one thing. I turn around to see a younger girl eyeing me suspiciously, before smiling and walking away.
Someone is after me.
Chapter 6: Questioning the Suspect
By Seyla Solstice
I’ve got him. I’m sure of it. There’s no way I’m in the wrong here, not after what I just saw. I think it’s a safe bet to expect a full confession within the hour. Obviously I can’t keep him here for an hour, I’m sure he has just as much of a life as I do. Still, if I’m being perfectly honest I don’t expect it to take that long. I have a way of getting what I want out of people when I set out to do so.
I sit patiently at a larger teacher’s desk in a spare office by the faculty lounge. Sometimes the Board uses this room for impromptu meetings that have been called on short notice, but this particular instance will be a bit different. Across from me sits a lone plastic chair, like one would find in an elementary school classroom. Perfect; it’s important to firmly establish who is in charge of this situation. There is work to be done.
The door opens and a boy is forced through the doorway. He stumbles and almost falls, quickly standing back up as if his attacker were about to strike a blow. Alas, all he gets in return is the office door slammed in his face. He turns to face me, his eyes still glimmering with anger. To my surprise however, once he saw me he paused a moment, composed himself and showed off a bright smile. Perhaps he would be more cooperative than I had thought.
“Well hellooo, there,” he said, swiping his hair back. “Name’s Oscar. And who might you be?”
Or not. I rolled my eyes, determined to ensure this conversation was professional. “Good afternoon, Oscar. Would you please sit down?”
His smile irremovable, he turned to sit down. He paused a moment, noticing his sudden shift in height. Undeterred, he turned the chair backwards and propped his arms up, head in his hands. This is gonna be worse than I had imagined. But that was okay. Just keep him on the ropes. Use your words to your advantage. Talk him into a corner, and eventually he’ll admit without even realizing what he’s done.
“I’m going to get straight to the point,” I said, looking down at my description of the events from earlier this morning. “Were you involved in a confrontation with a Kirby vandalizer just after lunch today?” That certainly took the look off his face, but it was suddenly replaced with a burning anger. A rage I hadn’t seen in any of these other so-called heroes.
He stood up, heading for the door. “I don’t know what this is about, but I am not about to have this pinned on me!” He opened the door, only to have it slammed back in his face hard enough to hit him in the nose. He fell backwards, but jumped back on his feet within a moment. He was surprisingly persistent, and he had the attitude to back it up. But that could just as easily be a front. It would certainly not be the weirdest thing to happen between the two schools these past few years.
“So answer me honestly,” I said, folding my arms across the desk. “Are you really from Kirby? Are you some kind of mole? Is the Japan thing true, or is that just some kind of front?”
He stood there, anger dulling into confusion. “What?”
“Here’s what I see,” I said, frustrated. “I see an act of vandalism committed against Wheeler within. An act perpetrated in the name of Kirby, an act committed by someone with an obscure Silver Age origami villain. The fact anyone today even remembers who this guy is is baffling in and of itself. But what got me was that he was thwarted by a kid with a Shang-Chi puppet, and on his first day back from studying abroad, no less. Bit of a massive coincidence, wouldn’t you say?”
He found himself sitting down. “How…how did you-”
“How did I know? Wasn’t very difficult, actually,” I opened a drawer, holding up his puppet for the boy to see. “You should really keep a better hold on this thing.” His eyes widened as he jumped up and made a grab for it. I smiled a bit; it always felt nice to make the culprit squirm. I had won.
We both held fast to either end of it until I relented hold of it. He was caught red-handed. “You should be more careful, you might lose it.”
He sat back down again, rubbing his forehead. After a pause, he finally spoke. “Look,” he said, bringing his head up to look at me. It was then that I realized he had peculiarly green eyes. They were an uncanny kind of green, almost like a deep jade. It was oddly fascinating.
“I do not know who is doing this,” he continued on. “All I know is am being framed for something I am not doing. Maybe it’s because I’m new and nobody knows me and can really give me a sound alibi, I’m not sure. But I promise you,” he said, looking down at his hands. “I am not behind this. As you said, I just returned, and my integrity, my trust is on the line here,” He looked back up at me. “And I can promise you, I mean every word I say.”
I stared back at him for a moment, puzzled. For someone who was so quick to anger, here he was uncharacteristically calm. Why was he so calm if he was guilty? That’s not how this works. The only way you can so easily stay calm in a situation like this is if you have nothing to hide. But he is clearly hiding something.
I was lost in thought. Could he really have nothing to hide? I was so certain this was him not a few minutes ago. C’mon, Seyla. When was the last time someone you had spoken to wasn’t trying to hide something? When was the last time you spoke to one of these so-called ‘heroes’ that didn’t have some other goal?
When was the last time I had spoken to someone without some other goal?
I leaned back in the office chair, lost in thought. As oddly out of character as it was for me, I found myself believing him, despite the evidence. It made no sense logically, and yet I could not shake the feeling he was telling me the truth.
“Let’s say I believed you,” I said. “You have to admit the evidence is stacked against you in this case. You really have no idea who could be trying to frame you?” I asked. I quickly added, “If that were the case.” He shook his head.
“In that case,” I said, now sensing an opportunity, “perhaps you can help me to find the perpetrator, whoever he or she may be.”
He frowned. “And why exactly would I help you? You basically just accused me of school treason so I could look like a hero.”
I nodded. “I thought not. You don’t strike me as one who’s particularly invested in all of this origami business anyway. Which honestly makes you carrying around one all the more suspicious, but I’m willing to drop it. In the meantime, consider this instead. I suspected you almost immediately. I wonder how long it will take for other people to suspect that you’re the one behind this? Besides, something tells me if this happens again, chances are you’ll just happen to be there.”
He paused. He knew I was right, whether he liked it or not. “Fine,” he reluctantly said. “Like it or not, this will benefit the both of us, I imagine. What do you need me to do?”