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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
Renee
post Nov 3 2019, 04:57 PM
Post #121


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From: Ellicott City, Maryland



Okay, so Jack = Jack Black, pretty much. And Ryo .... he reminds me of someone I knew long ago (was not friends with though). Ryo's got some issues.

QUOTE
She had to try to kill herself for them to believe her.


Merde. sad.gif


Cobo Hall, I know that name from somewhere. Probably Grateful Dead played there. Some of my friends traded Dead tapes (and other bands) back in the '80s / '90s.

Hart Plaza really comes alive at night, goodness. smile.gif Those links to various pictures help me see the place. I like that she's dancing amongst all these people who don't know who she is.

QUOTE
It said a lot about a city when it honored a fist.


LOl.

I am wondering if she can sense and smell whatever it is because of her witch powers. Love the mysterious drama at the end of this one. emot-ninja1.gif

This post has been edited by Renee: Nov 3 2019, 05:09 PM
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SubRosa
post Nov 9 2019, 06:23 PM
Post #122


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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: It is usually called the Electronic Music Festival, or just the Techno Fest. The Knights of Nerddom call it Festival, because, nerds... laugh.gif Detroit is often cited as the birthplace of Techno music. The festival is a big thing here. It draws people in from around the country.

It was nice to show off some of the finer things in my hometown. That is something that does not often happen. So I went into some detail with the descriptions of Hart Plaza and Downtown, rather than just saying "there were lots of tall buildings'. smile.gif

I have been itching to get Blood Raven into the story, especially since I wrote this chapter and chapter 4, which was about a month ago. As I have said before, BR will play a major role in January's life in the future. She is also quite awesome, to a level even I never expected. She is on par with Wonder Woman and Superman.


Renee: Like I said, Ryo is based on someone I knew online. He does have a lot of issues. None of those are random. They are all common traits for someone like him. Can anyone guess what underlies those issues?

Cobo Hall was a major concert venue back in the 70s, until the Palace of Auburn Hills was built and took all the concerts (the Palace was designed for it, the sound is good no matter where you sit). Bob Seger's Live Bullet album was recorded at Cobo. I even saw Kiss there once, long ago.

Hart Plaza is a big part of Detroit life as well. Pretty much every weekend during the summer there is some sort of festival taking place there. The Downtown Hoedown used to always be there (it moved a few years ago), and lots of ethnic festivals. The Jazz Fest is there. I think it would be cool to live in one of the buildings off of Woodward like 150 West Jefferson or the Crowne Plaza Building, and have all that going on across the street.

January is indeed tapping into her magical senses, for the first time, thanks to both the presence of Blood Raven and whatever it is she is hunting. Blood Raven is a magician, as is her nemesis. As is January. There will be a lot more on that in Chapter 4.




Orbital

Daredevil's Sensory Powers

Shoggoth

Xenomorph

You can follow along with January with the Stormcrow Google Map - Start at Cobo Hall and go to the Flying Dutchman

January's Route to the Fire 1 - Cobo Hall Rooftop Parking, looking north

January's Route to the Fire 2 - Fort Washington Plaza

January's Route to the Fire 3 - Theodore Levin Courthouse

January's Route to the Fire 4 - Westin Book Cadillac Hotel

January's Route to the Fire 5 - Book Tower

January's Route to the Fire 6 - Three Stadiums

January's Route to the Fire 7 - Foxtown

January's Route to the Fire 8 - Little Caesar's Arena

January's Route to the Fire 9 - Midtown and the Flying Dutchman at the corner of Peterboro and Cass




Chapter 3.4 - Stormcrow Burning

Twilight turned to full darkness, and Orbital replaced Amelie Lens on the stage. January wanted to get back into the swing of the festival. But no matter how much she tried to let the music wash over her, or lose her body into the dancing, she could not get her mind off Blood Raven. What had that strange feeling been? At first January thought it was the famous vigilante herself who had created that sensation. But Blood Raven had reacted to it as well. Not just reacted, she had been tracking it, hunting it. But what was it?

January knew that she had only begun to discover the depth of her abilities. But she was sure they did not lend themselves toward Daredevilian super senses. She could not track someone by their scent. She could not hear heartbeats, let alone conversations, from miles away. She could not feel electrons by touch. She could not taste the sweat off a person from across the room.

Whatever she had sensed, it was not natural. Not even natural in a metahuman sense. Her mind began to twist down Lovecraftian corridors, and conjure mystic presages of doom. Her imagination painted livid images of shoggoths or xenomorphs ravaging through the city streets.

She clamped down on such wild ravings. It was silly after all. She needed to relax. This was supposed to be a day to celebrate the end of the school term. The last thing she needed was to invent more angst in her life. She had plenty of that waiting at home already.

She remembered the books she had read on Wicca and Witchcraft, especially that first one by Ann Renner. She concentrated on her breathing, and began doing energy exercises to help her unwind. But it was hard. The music hammered into her ears, and pulsed through her bones, so loud that it was a tangible, physical thing. People bumped into her. Their sweat and cheap perfume cloyed at her nostrils. They shouted to one another over the beats. Every time she thought she was finally going to slip into a higher state of consciousness, something would jerk her back to mundane reality.

"Hey, look at that bird!"

The voice was right in her ear, and someone pointed a finger practically into January's nose. She turned to look in either direction. That is when she felt sharp talons dig into her shoulder. A weight settled there, and a deep croaking filled her ear. A moment later she saw the crow that had just landed on her. His black, beady eyes stared into her own, as if he was trying to tell her something.

January tried to control her breathing again, and feel the magical energy that flowed through her. But she just could not get hold of it. There were too many things pulling her in too many directions. The magic slipped through her fingers like water.

The crow, perhaps disgusted at her failure to comprehend its message, took to the air once more. Her eyes followed him west across the black sky, in the same direction as Cobo Center. The same place where they had parked. The same place where her armor was stored in Avery's trunk.

January's feet instantly set into motion. She reached for her phone with one hand, and swiped the screen for Avery. He answered a few moments later, his voice distracted.

"It's a fire," Avery said. "North of here, looks like just past the new hockey arena. The first firetruck is rolling right now."

"I'll get back in touch when I've suited up." January stuffed her phone back in her purse. She reached for her necklace next, and opened the hidden panel behind the raven. One tap on the button inside hid her from electronic eyes. After that she laid on the speed. Where crowds blocked her, she leaped over them, shielding her face with one hand. People pointed up at her, some shouted. But no one would get a picture of her.

January briefly wondered if this fire was connected to whatever Blood Raven had been closing in on. But the older heroine had flown northeast, along the river. The new hockey arena was in an entirely different direction. Besides, it had been over an hour since they had seen Blood Raven. Surely she had sorted out whatever it had been by now. No, this must be something entirely separate. It was not like fires needed supervillains for their creation after all.

She bounded to the roof of Cobo Center. Racing between cars, she found Avery's yellow Geo. A crow sat upon the roof. He gave her a reproachful look, as if he had been waiting hours for her to arrive. It had only been minutes. January knew, because it was the same bird that had landed on her shoulder.

She was in the trunk a moment later. This time when she concentrated on her Fire meditation, nothing distracted her.

Fire give me passion and energy. Transform me in the night sky.

She was in her armor, and her street clothes were tucked away in Avery's trunk. An instant later she followed the crow into the sky.

Be like Air. Be light, and quick, and fly.

The wide, flat parking lot that sprawled across the roof of Cobo Center vanished under January's feet as she leaped into the air. Her cape, now transformed into wings thanks to Gadget's techno-wizardry, caught the wind and lifted her up high.

To her right, the dense cluster of skyscrapers of the Downtown core rose up like cliffs of concrete, steel, and glass. Before her stood their lesser cousins. These buildings were a humble ten to twelve stories tall in most cases. But a few rose to double those heights. Some of them were grand dames of the art deco era. Others were squat brick simpletons from the 70s, and finally a few were black glass slicksters of the modern age.

January landed atop the roof of a dark, almost black-glassed building of moderate height. She triggered off her wings and tucked into a forward roll. She kept her momentum going and sprang into a run. She followed the crow as it winged its way overhead, and raced across the roof as if shot from a cannon. When the edge loomed up before her toes, she leapt skyward with all of the strength in her meta-enhanced legs. She triggered on her wings once more, and again felt them catch the sky.

To her right towered a gargantuan spire of white concrete with tall, narrow windows. If only she could get to the roof of that, she could get incredible air under her wings. But it was too high for even her to leap up to, and gaining altitude with her wings was still a tricky, and often fruitless, business for her.

Still her momentum combined with the leap to push her even higher into the air than before. Once past the tall, white building she banked somewhat around it, following the route of Washington street below. A much lower, square building slid by underneath her. January noted that its center was a hollowed out atrium. It reminded her of those old Roman and Greek buildings that her dad wrote books about.

She sailed past it, then over a lesser structure, and found the grand edifice of the Westin Book Cadillac hotel rising before her in all its stately grandeur. She had read that it had been newly restored and gone back into business, after decades of abandonment. Its tan stone and decorative columns gave it the air of an elder statesman. She followed the crow to the darker tiles of its sloping roof, and gave the lofty building a momentary pat of thanks as she landed there.

While standing on the roof of the hotel, she remembered that her video camo was still on. She reached inside her tunic to shut it off. She did not want to waste the battery after all. Then she sprang up into the air once more, clawing for even higher altitude. The crow cawed loudly in her ears, and darted ahead of her once more.

Thanks to having used the buildings like stepping stones, January realized that she was higher than she had ever been before. Far more so than she ever could get in the old Packard Plant. The wind caressed her face, while the streets crawled along far below. The world seemed wide and open, beckoning for her to come and explore. She loved every moment of it.

The black and gold art deco masterpiece of the Detroit Furnace Building flew past her right shoulder. To her left came the equally magnificent Book Tower, a needle-like spire of an elder age, capped by a great bronze roof turned green with verdigris. The crow flew to the latter, and January followed without thought.

She dropped down atop its great peak of old green bronze, and reveled at the view for just an instant. Then she was back into the sky once more. Now the smaller buildings of Foxtown slid by under her belly - among them the Fox Theater and the Filmore of course. Off to her right she could see down within the great bowl of Comerica Park, the home of the Tigers. Beyond rose the white rectangular roof of Ford Field. The name of the car company - and family - that owned it and the Detroit Lions was emblazoned in blue across its otherwise plain surface.

Straight ahead was I-75, as always a river of twinkling lights as vehicles sped along it in either direction. In a moment she and the crow soared over the highway and then above Little Caesar's Arena. The brand new hockey stadium was faced with red brick, and crowned with a white roof. Painted atop it was the cartoonish Roman mascot of the pizza company. He held a pizza impaled on a stick, and was about to scarf down a slice.

January felt a little deflated as the arena vanished behind her. That was the end of Downtown's grand skyscrapers. Now spread out beneath her were the lesser denizens of Midtown. Far smaller buildings, and nearly all mundane in style and use. She had left the mystic realm of giants, and was once again relegated to the common world of ordinary Earth.

But that common world was lit up. Not just by rivers of streetlights and cars, but by a great orange glow. It would have been warm and comforting if that glow had originated high up in the sky at noon. But this miniature Sun bloomed down at street level, nearly turning the night into day with its ravenous stare.


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Acadian
post Nov 9 2019, 08:34 PM
Post #123


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Great job displaying January’s frustration with the head thumping cacophony of distractions that kept her from reaching that meditative and mysterious place of inner insight she sought.

When in doubt though, ‘Follow that crow!’ works pretty well. tongue.gif

A wonderful air tour of downtown Detroit.

And there she be - Fire. Can’t wait to see what this is all about.

Edit: Cool new pix below!

This post has been edited by Acadian: Nov 10 2019, 03:23 AM


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SubRosa
post Nov 9 2019, 11:16 PM
Post #124


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I updated a few of the pictures of Downtown to add in the names of the buildings, as Google Earth does not do the best job of that.


Hart Plaza (seen from the river looking toward Jefferson Ave and downtown)

January's Route to the Fire 1 - Cobo Hall Rooftop Parking, looking north

January's Route to the Fire 9 - Midtown and the Flying Dutchman at the corner of Peterboro and Cass


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Renee
post Nov 10 2019, 11:05 PM
Post #125


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That's so awesome when she flies. She's still new at it, too. Hope she can summon the power of water, to prepare getting near to that blaze. indifferent.gif

QUOTE
Can anyone guess what underlies those issues?


Hmm. I cannot. I don't know his character well enough yet.

I know what you mean about wondering what it'd be to live like where there's always stuff going on. For me this would be downtown Ellicott City, which is historic as can be seen. If I didn't have a job and was okay with getting interrupted from sleep more often, that is my choice.

Hee, her friends Jack and Ryo must be wondering where she went.

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Darkness Eternal
post Nov 12 2019, 12:28 AM
Post #126


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I had to admit. I have a nice soft spot for Blood-Raven! She's growing on me already. I enjoyed the description of the downtown area. Jefferson Ave and beyond is very impressive and austere in own imposing way.

'January could not look at the central spire without dreaming of leaping off the rooftop. She imagined that from there she could glide all the way across the river to the shores of Canada.'
laugh.gif I'm certain most heroes that can fly have this same feeling when looking up to a tall skyscraper or tower.

'A few daring males flaunted their bare chests, but only it seemed, when there was a six pack of abs to show off.'
This is so accurate and true! In all the parties I've been to, its usually the six-packed dudes that were shirtless. laugh.gif

Jan having those instincts and Blood-Raven soaring through the air to what could be a major conflict was very powerful. She seemed so attuned, and Blood-Raven herself still this mysterious woman. This was great.

3.4.
There was plenty of mystery to be had here. Jan wonders about the depths of her abilities and just how attuned she is, and I wondered this just the same. Her imaginings of grim occurrence seemed to deeply bother her, I'm glad she maintained a positive vibe as she buried these notions in favor of enjoying the party.

You never fail to impress with Jan's flying. Makes me want to be up there, soaring through the night sky. Must truly be liberating.

I'm very curious to see what this fire is about.

Great pictures by the way! ohmy.gif




--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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SubRosa
post Nov 16 2019, 04:30 PM
Post #127


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Acadian: Jan definitely has a long way to go when it comes to mastering her magical nature. At least consciously so. Thankfully there are crows...

Once again I gave a detailed travelogue of Detroit. I hope this helps make the city come alive. I also hope it shows some steady development with her flying ability.


Renee: When I was first conceptualizing January the whole flight aspect was just a side thing. It was a travel power mainly to get her to where the action was. I always pictured her martial arts and physical abilities front and center. But as I write her, I find that flight is where she truly comes alive. So I have decided to put a lot more development into her wings in the future.

Elicott City looks pretty cool.

We will be seeing excuses made for Jan's disappearance this episode.


Darkness Eternal: That Downtown core is the most impressive part of Detroit. Well, except for a few other small spots like the Fisher Building and Wayne State University in Midtown. So I like using it as a setting. It really shows off the grandeur of the city.

We will be seeing a lot more of January's magical instincts later, especially concerning Blood Raven.

The fire in this chapter is based on the Real Life Ghost Ship fire. It is not really connected to what Blood Raven was hunting earlier. That will come up next chapter. But it all does tie together.




Fire Captain

Fire Lieutenant

The Flying Dutchman (RL Ghost Ship Fire)

The Flying Dutchman Interior



Chapter 3.5 - Stormcrow Burning

"Hola Stormcrow, I got away from the others and I'm online." Gadget's voice suddenly blossomed in her ear. "The fire's on Cass, just three blocks north of the new hockey arena."

"I'm coming up on it right now," January breathed into the comm. With one hand, she effortlessly flipped on the video unit, so that Gadget could see everything that she did. "By the way, what are we going to tell the guys?"

"Already covered," Gadget explained. "You got sick, had to hurl. Must have been that falafel you had earlier. I'm driving you home right now."

"Guess I should have had that iguana on a stick like you did," January mused as she drew nearer. "Oh, it looks like the firefighters just got here."

January saw a single firetruck pull up in the street. Figures clad in helmets and heavy coats spilled out of it like armored ants. They immediately set to work rolling out hoses, and connecting them to hydrants.

Before them raged an inferno of elemental horror. January imagined that the building might have once been a warehouse. It was a rectangular structure that rose two stories, whose cinderblock walls were unadorned by windows. However, gangland graffiti competed with elaborate and fantastic artwork scrawled across the edifice. From simple names to rearing dragons and monstrous faces, the outer shell of the otherwise ordinary building had been transformed into a lush jungle of magnificent expression.

That artwork was being devoured by a sheet of brilliant flame that wreathed the front of the building. It seemed less an act of nature, and more like a living, sentient being, all terror and fire. It roiled and leapt, swallowing all it touched, and spread out its monstrous arms for more. January could feel its heat, sucking all the moisture out of the air around her. It also seemed to push the air up from beneath her, giving her more lift. That was the last thing she needed now.

The long side of the building that stretched back from the street was clear of flames for now. She could see that this wall was bordered by a large lot. The first half of the field was empty. But farther back from the street it was packed with a shantytown of campers, makeshift tents, and truly indescribable piles - or perhaps actual structures - of junk.

She saw a pair of firemen standing away from the rest, who were all racing to and fro with their equipment. One pointed at the blaze, and seemed to be giving instructions to the other. January imagined that they must be the people in charge, and dove toward them. The ground rushed up faster and faster, now that she was nose down toward it. She allowed it to rise up until it was practically in her face. Then she flattened out her wings parallel to the earth, and caught the air upon their lower surface with a great crack! At the same time she rolled her body back, putting her feet out first and craning her head skyward. A second later she disengaged the wings, and dropped to the concrete with only a slight flex of her knees to take the impact.

She landed just a few steps away from the two firefighters. Her crow companion winged past them, and vanished into the night. The two men gaped openly. She could see that one was middle-aged, with a great sweep of a now graying mustache. His lined face was bathed in the red-orange glow of the fire, and looked as craggy and weathered as any peak of the Rockies. His partner beside him was much younger, with smooth skin and bright blue eyes that fixed upon January.

"You're her," the younger man blurted out, "the Stormcrow!"

"What can I do to help?" January asking earnestly, looking from one man to the other. She did not want to just go rampaging through there on her own. She knew that if she was going to be successful at this super thing, she was going to have to learn to work with people like this.

"I don't know, what can you do to help?" the older man parroted in a gravelly, somewhat sarcastic tone.

A drop of rain splatted on January's forehead, followed by a second, and a third. She vaguely noted that the sky had gone black, the stars now hidden behind an ebony blanket of cloud.

"Well, I don't know much about putting out fires," January admitted. "But I can go in there and find people, and bring them out."

"Can you really make it rain?" the younger man asked earnestly?

"Not as well as you would like," January shook her head ruefully. As if to contradict her statement, a crack of lighting illuminated the sky in a dazzling burst of light. January felt her heart jump with it. A long peal of thunder rolled out behind it like an afterthought. The rain picked up after that, and began to come down steadily.

The flames seemed to mock the water pouring from the sky however. Undaunted by the storm, they in fact grew visibly stronger, and leaped farther back into the building. January saw people run from a door in the still untouched side of the building. The front was nothing but a solid sheet of fire and ash.

"That fire is spreading too fast to be natural," the older man observed as he watched the flames grow. Then he focused solely upon January. "Okay, go do your hero thing. But watch for accelerants. I'd bet my pension that someone doused that place with gas or kerosene. And remember that fire can travel through the spaces inside the walls, before popping out again. It'll get you where you least expect it."

January nodded, then she was off. A single bound ate up the distance between the curb and the long, side wall of the building that stretched back from the street. She ignored the shantytown farther back in the empty lot. The fire was nowhere near that yet. Instead she plunged directly for the only door in the side of the building.

She almost careened into a pair of people trying to make their way out. She pointed to the street with one hand, and gently shepherded them that way with the other. Once they were safely out in the rain, she strode inside.

She coughed as smoke instantly assailed her lungs and stung at her eyes. The interior was like no warehouse or shop she had ever seen. Instead it was a phantasmagoria of furniture and decorations. There were couches, beds, and dressers. She could see at least a dozen pianos scattered around, along with drum kits and stacks of guitars. Paintings hung from walls and columns, along with tribal masks, and brightly-colored lamps. A wall of speakers rose up to her right, along with crates, desks, dressers, and boxes.

All of it was wood. A wooden floor, from which rose wooden columns, holding up a wood ceiling. The entire space was packed to the gills with wooden musical instruments, and wooden furniture. Then there was the cloth: carpets, beds couches, and chairs. Everything January knew about firefighting came from movies and TV. But she did not need an expert to tell her that the entire place was an inferno waiting to happen.

"I guess this would be a bad time to mention that I haven't finished working on a breathing apparatus for the suit." January could almost hear Gadget nervously rubbing his neck with one hand.

"It'll be fine," January murmured. "I can manage a little smoke."

She found more people stumbling around, and ushered them outside. After returning she worked her way toward the front of the building. It was a maze of twists and turns, most of the interior walls were made of furniture, musical instruments, and paintings. The latter were not printed out pictures, but actual canvas painted with oils and mounted on wooden frames.

"This place is crazy," January coughed, holding one hand over her mouth. A little smoke was starting to seem less manageable after all.

"It's called the Flying Dutchman." Gadget replied over her headset. "It's an art collective: musicians, artists, poets, a whole beat colony."

"Oh snap," she heard him groan with dread. "They were holding a concert tonight. This place is going to be packed. I'm looking around with the street cameras, and there are cars parked all over out here."

January got as close as she could to the front of the building. A wooden stair rose up to her left, curling around in a spiral as it rose to the second floor overhead. For the moment it was still clear. But beyond that rose a nightmare of flame and smoke. It was like the inside of a dragon's belly. She could only vaguely make out walls and even more pianos. She thought she saw a refrigerator somewhere back in the inferno, and perhaps a stove. So she imagined that was the kitchen. If the front door was out there, she could not see it.

Just then a snake of snarling electricity leaped along the wall beside her. Flame erupted behind it, and engulfed her in red and yellow heat. She threw up one arm in front of her face out of reflex. She felt herself picked up and thrown back by a pressure wave. Her head hit something hard. It cracked. January was not sure if that was her skull, or whatever she had struck.

"Steady on girl," Gadget's voice was cool and collected in her ear. "That hagfish armor is made for fire. Nothing will burn it short of the Sun."

She fought her way to her feet. Her lungs were burning, and her eyes stung as if they were swimming in bee venom. She was afraid that if she tried to reply she would start coughing and never stop. Instead January silently staggered back. There was no one this far forward, not who was still alive at least. The building ahead was now a solid wall of flame, including the stairs leading up to the top floor.


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Acadian
post Nov 16 2019, 08:31 PM
Post #128


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’The ground rushed up faster and faster, now that she was nose down toward it. She allowed it to rise up until it was practically in her face. Then she flattened out her wings parallel to the earth, and caught the air upon their lower surface with a great crack! At the same time she rolled her body back, putting her feet out first and craning her head skyward. A second later she disengaged the wings, and dropped to the concrete with only a slight flex of her knees to take the impact.’
- - Stormcrow is really getting good at this as she continues to gradually improve at this flying stuff.

While ‘Let there be rain’ is not quite in her spell book, it is clear the Stormcrow wields influence in high, cloudy places. Nice display of her burgeoning abilities and how she does not fully understand them. Yet.

Yep, pretty dangerous inside - and most comforting, I’m sure, to have Gadget’s soothing and supportive voice in her ear. You do indeed make the fire seem to have a menacing life of its own.

Oh snap is right, a passel of music enthusiasts are still inside this towering inferno! The stakes just shot up. I hope her selfless nature does not overrule our young superheroine's sense of self-preservation. . . or at least she does not ignore Gadget if/when he points it out to her. ohmy.gif


Nit? "You got sick, had hurl.”
Not necessarily a nit since it is dialogue. I simply ask if Gadget meant to say 'had to hurl' instead of 'had hurl'?


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Renee
post Nov 17 2019, 03:33 PM
Post #129


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QUOTE(Acadian @ Nov 16 2019, 02:31 PM) *

Nit? "You got sick, had hurl.”
Not necessarily a nit since it is dialogue.


Yah, that's what I was thinking. Sometimes people say stuff wrongly.

QUOTE
But as I write her, I find that flight is where she truly comes alive.


Oh, and we're glad you're including these flight chapters. They are fun to read.

That's awesome when the two firemen are surprised The Stormcrow shows up. It's like, she's now an unofficial part of city services, yet she doesn't have to abide by the same rules. See, but I wonder if she's now getting herself into trouble because of this. indifferent.gif

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SubRosa
post Nov 23 2019, 04:28 PM
Post #130


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Acadian: She is getting quite good at the flying thing. In Chapter 5 we will see a major evolution of her flight.

Likewise, I can see her doing a lot more with elemental forces in the future. But that is a long way off.

Of course January's selfless nature is going to overrule her sense of self-preservation!

That was indeed supposed to be "had to hurl". I am glad you caught that.


Renee: I am glad the flying is coming across. Now I am trying to find more ways I can use her wings and flight, beyond just getting from here to there.

January won't be having any issues working with the fire department. Their goals match after all: saving lives. And there is a long history of volunteer firefighters, who still exist in many places in the US. It is with the police that January will have the most trouble with, because their goals definitely do not always match. The police want to arrest people like Isaac and put them in prison. January wants to help people, which sometimes means letting a supervillain go because she believes they are not really a danger to anyone. That is part of Jan's slowly coalescing Stormcrow Doctrine. BTW. an interesting factiod I came across recently was that the modern US puts more people in prison per capita than both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia did.






Surtr

Dr Dre

Til Valhall Battlecry



Chapter 3.6 - Stormcrow Burning

She made her way back the way she had come from, pausing to search behind the piles of junk. She was rewarded by discovering tiny nooks and niches where people had carved out private little bedrooms within the sea of furnishings, camouflaged by the raucous jungle of decorations.

These were empty however, which January was grateful for. She hoped she was not passing an unconscious person, perhaps laid out behind a couch or under a bed, without her ever seeing them. It would take hours to properly search the building. She clearly did not have that much time. Not given how thick these rooms farther back were choked with smoke and fumes.

"Two more fire engines just pulled up," Gadget reported. "But this thing is wicked. It's spreading faster and faster. I don't know if they can stop it."

January staggered back, past the open side doorway. She pushed farther into the back of the Flying Dutchman now. She blinked hard at the sight of two campers set up in the deluge of accoutrements. She was not seeing things, they really had a pair of recreational vehicles parked back there. She raced to the first and pulled the door open. Dashing through it, she found it empty. She ran out and into the second camper. There she found a dog hidden under a bed.

"Come here boy, everything is fine," January said in as soothing a voice as she could muster, given the smoke. The shepherd growled at her. Clearly he was no fan of crows. January did not have time to play nice. She lunged forward and pulled the big dog up into her arms. He turned his head and bit down hard on her forearm. Her armor held, and January simply ignored it. She raced out of the camper, and was at the doorway with a single leap.

Once out in the rain she released the dog. As if by mutual agreement, he whimpered and let go of her with his jaws. He scampered across the empty lot and toward the flashing lights of the fire engines in the street. January saw the older, mustached fireman still out there, directing the new trucks into action.

January turned back into the building. A glance to her right showed that the flames were closer than before. They would be up to the side door in minutes. She did not have much time.

She pushed back deeper into the building, beyond the RVs. It was even more of a twisting and turning maze back here however. It would have been hard enough keeping her directions on a normal night. But with the smoke clouding the air, it was nearly impossible.

January mentally recited her elemental mantra, to help keep her head on straight.

Earth give me strength, keep me grounded, protect me from harm.

Air give me quickness in body and wit. Let the weights of the world fall from me.

Water make me flexible in thought and form. Let me flow, let me crash.

Fire give me passion and energy. Transform me in the night sky.

Spirit weave all together in balance. Bring me peace.


As if summoned by magic, she found a trio of either artists or concert-goers. It was too hard to make out details in the murk. She waved them to her, and guided them out of the maze to the side door. The fire was so much closer now, nearly at the exit. She was running out of time…

She saw two paramedics out in the lot. They grabbed up the three escapees and took them to the street. Coming past them was a crew of firefighters with a hose. They came right up to the doorway, and January backed inside to let them through. They nodded to her, and immediately began spraying down the ceiling of the room she was in.

January left them, and sped her way back into the depths of the building. She was faster this time, having made the trip through the winding passages once already. She found half a dozen more people coming her way this time, coughing and nearly retching from the fumes. She led them back to the firefighters.

They were losing the battle with the flames. Even given the water they were now dousing the interior with, the fire was gaining ground, and fast. It devoured everything it came across, transforming it all into heat and smoke. It was as if Surtr and his fire giants walked the Earth, annihilating everything before them in a Ragnarokian frenzy.

"Hurry up Crow, you still have the entire second floor." Gadget's voice was not reassuring. "From the pics I am seeing online, it looks like that is where the concert floor is. Most people are probably going to be up there."

"Do you have anything current?" January coughed into her headset.

"Nada," she could imagine him shaking his head at the other end of the comm. "This is all old stuff they posted on social media. There's no camera's inside."

January made her way to the back wall this time, without finding anyone. She was about to turn back, when she discovered a small stairway clinging to the far wall, tucked away behind a row of speakers. She leaped to the top with a single bound, and found herself in a narrow hallway on the second floor.

A pair of small bathrooms hung off the corridor, each nothing more than a cubicle with a toilet and sink. Both were empty. Beyond she found what looked like a mixing room, with a long table filled with levels and gauges, and all that Dr. Dre electronic goodness. She could not tell what even a tenth of it was for, aside from producing music of course.

This room too, was empty. Whoever had been within must have gone down the back stairs. She had probably met them and guided them out already. She took a deep breath. At least the air in here was not too badly inundated. Yet her lungs still blazed in protest, and she had to fight to keep from coughing.

"I'm upstairs," she gasped into her headset. "Clear so far."

A door in the far end of the mixing room led her out onto a stage. Really it was just a platform raised up about a foot above the rest of the floor. A scaffolding held up some lights and speakers above and beside it. The floor beyond was mostly open space, mostly. But even here there were tables and chairs. It was a woodworker's dream come true. It was also a fire's dream come true. Even now January could see those flames licking up at the far end of the building, that faced the street.

There was a crowd of people milling about here in the clouds of smoke. Most were hunched down toward the floor, trying to find breathable air. As before, January could make out few details in the smoke, other than that most were probably her age, or not much older. Other than that one face tended to blend into the next in the soot-filled air.

January glanced back, and thought of the route she would have to lead them through. Into the mixing room, down the back stairway, and then through the maze on the ground floor to reach the only exit. Would she be able to get them all out that way, without any becoming lost in the tangled warren of makeshift corridors on the ground floor? Would they get there before the flames overtook the side door?

No, they would never make it.

"Gadget, can you get on the firefighter's radio for me?" She took her bearings, and deduced that the wall to her right was the one facing the empty lot. "Tell them to clear their people out from the south wall. The one next to the lot."

"Copy that Stormcrow," Gadget's voice came cool and calm. "What are you planning?"

"I'm going to make an emergency exit."

Air give me quickness in body and wit. Fill my lungs with life.

"People!" January called upon the crowd at the top of her lungs. Somehow she did not cough, or falter. It was as if her lungs had briefly forgotten the smoke and ash that threatened to smother them. "People! Everyone gather around. Bring everyone you see here. I'm going to make a way out."

She eyed the wall. It looked to be cinderblocks, reinforced with steel, and paneled over with wood on the inside. She breathed deeply in and out, and felt the world's magic moving through her, just like her Wiccan exercises told her it would. She focused her thoughts on the wall, and visualized it shattering.

"Til Valhall!" she cried with all the force she could muster. She rocketed forward, and crashed into the wall like a slug fired from a railgun. The barrier exploded around her in a shower of concrete and steel. She felt rain on her face, and fresh air in her lungs. The world spun under her. She tucked into the roll, and out of habit stuck the landing as her feet hit the dirt of the lot.

She looked back to see a great hole now gaping in the side of the building, billowing smoke into the black sky above. She had been right. The firefighters had withdrawn from the side door. They had lost it to the insatiable flames. The entire ground floor was wreathed in fire now.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw firemen and paramedics running toward her. But there was no time. Without a second thought, she leapt back up to the gap she had created, and stepped back inside.

"Come on, I'll take everyone out one at a time!" She waved the people over.

One man tried to push his way through the crowd, and knocked two people to their knees.

"Me first!" he demanded.

"Man up and grow a pair," January heard herself snarl. She reached out to the people he had shoved down and helped them to their feet, then led them back to the opening. Not wasting any more time, she wrapped her arms around one and leapt out into the rain. Her knees took the shock of impact with only a tiny bend, and she handed the man to the awaiting firemen.

Then she was back up into the building, leaping over the rising flames to get inside. Next was the other person who had been knocked down. January noted that she was a rotund woman, with a shock of brilliant orange and purple hair. January put her arms around the colorful woman, and was more than mildly surprised when her charge leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.

"For luck," the other woman said.

Feeling more than a little like Luke Skywalker, January leaped to the ground outside, and released her into the care of the emergency crews. Then she was back into the thick of it.

She continued ferrying people out of the building. The smoke thickened, and became great billowing clouds that obscured more than half the room. People were choking, and holding hoodies, shirts, and torn cloth over their faces to try to filter out the soot. They endured. They had to.

Finally January reached the last one in sight, the man who had bowled over the others in his eagerness to escape. He looked sheepish, clearly regretting his panic. January did not say a word. She did not blame him for being afraid. If she had not been, the sky outside would have been clear and shining with stars. But she did blame him for allowing his fear to rule him. Freyja and her valkyrjur would not carry his soul into the afterlife.

But that would not be today. She took him in her arms, and jumped to the ground with him. In spite of her earlier success with breathing, the smoke was once more assaulting her lungs. Now every breath was an agony of fire, a paroxysm of coughing. But she continued on. Endurance was part of the Viking Code after all. Never give up, no matter what.

With that in mind, she leapt back skyward. The entire outer shell of the Flying Dutchman was a sheet of flame now. It was as if the structure had transformed into a giant fire elemental, conjured forth by some truly astounding wizard. January felt as if she was venturing into the belly of the beast as she pushed into the smoke, looking for anyone left behind.

She made the mistake of breathing too deeply, and doubled over in a fit of coughing. It felt like she was going to spit her liver out. Her insides burned. Her eyes hurt, and ran with tears. She tried to wipe them away, and see through the haze of smoke and moisture. The world tilted. All around her fire hissed, and snapped, and groaned, like a living thing slavering for her life.

January pushed on, moving toward the worst of it. She found someone there, hunched down over the floor. As she came near, January realized that it was a woman dragging an unconscious man across the floor. The woman slipped and fell, and slammed her head down hard on the wooden boards underfoot. January saw blood splattering her forehead when she lifted her head, only to collapse once more.

January was there a second later. She realized that she could no longer do this one at a time. It had to be both at once. She lifted the bleeding woman and tucked her under one arm. She was reaching down from the man with her free hand when the floor vanished in a geyser of flame.

There was no time to think. January's free hand snapped out and grabbed hold of a water pipe that climbed the wall. The floor evaporated beneath her feet. Time dragged by on painfully slow feet. Moment by moment, she saw the unconscious man fall into the sea of fire below. She saw him vanish into the inferno.

She did the only thing she could. She threw the woman she still had hold of up out of the fiery pit and over onto the still solid floorboards farther back in the Dutchman. Then she turned back to the gaping maw of fire, and leapt within.

"Jan!" she barely heard Gadget's voice in her ear. He was saying something, but she ignored it. She could not split her attention, not for an instant. The heat scorched through her lungs, as if someone had thrust a red-hot poker down her throat. The world dissolved into bright red and orange flame, and thick black smoke. She burned. Burned like the heart of the Sun. She thought she heard screaming. She was not sure if it was her own voice, or someone else's.

But Vikings did not quit. They endured. She would too. She was stone. She was the mountain. She was adamant.

Her questing hands found something hard, metal. She saw it was the handle of a gasoline can. It was not one of the little containers one might use to buy gas for the lawnmower. No, this was one of the big jerry cans like she saw strapped to trucks and tanks in pictures from World War II. The kind that held a zillion gallons of fuel. She crawled across another, and another, and shoved them out of her way.

Then her fingers touched something soft, malleable, and thrashing around wildly. That was him! She leapt upon the fallen man, and snapped loose the cape from around her shoulders. She threw it around the man, who was clearly no longer unconscious. He flailed and spasmed, but was no match for her strength.

She wrapped him like a mummy in the fireproof material of the cape. Not wasting a moment, she pulled him in close to her chest. Then she leapt forward with all of her might. She was vaguely aware of striking a wall. It could not withstand the force of her charge. Nothing could slow her. Nothing could stop her. The wall disintegrated in a shower of cinderblock and steel.

Then she was out in the open. Cool water showered down upon her, and sweet air teased her nostrils. She rolled off the injured man, who still screamed and thrashed under her. The world spun for a moment, and she felt strong hands holding her up, pulling her aside. Her eyes were on her charge however, and she saw a firefighter and a paramedic gently open the cape to reveal his body within.

He was a blackened and twisted mess. His hair was gone. His clothing was melted into his flesh, what little there was of it. His eyes were grey-white milky soup. He continued to thrash, and there was still screaming in her ears. She saw the paramedic pull out a hypodermic, and jab him with the needle. Then something blocked her view.

January squirmed. It felt like people were jumping on top of her, smothering her, covering her in darkness. A voice was shouting in her ear, and after a moment she realized it was Avery's.

"Jan stop, you're on fire!" his voice was hard as steel. "Stop, they are trying to put you out!"

January stopped struggling, and realized that the choking, smothering feeling was blankets, wrapping every inch of her body. She let the firemen clustered around her pat her out, and finally pull her to her feet. Now she realized that she was in the street in front of the Flying Dutchman. She had gone through the worst of the inferno, and punched a hole clear through the front wall of the building.

She tried to breathe deeply. To pull up the magic from the heart of the Earth, and wash its healing wave through her body. But her lungs betrayed her. Her entire body convulsed and rocked uncontrollably. The next thing she knew, she was doubled over and throwing up onto the sidewalk. Luckily she had not eaten since late afternoon, so it was only dry heaves. But it still wracked her frame.

She was stiff and sore, and bone-tired. Even though she could feel the rain pelting her face, her skin felt dry, dry and hot. She leaned her head back, to let the clean water wash down across her face, and carry away the tears and grime that she imagined must have smeared her features. At least what little of them that was not obscured by her cowl.

Even with her eyes closed, the image of the burned man still filled her mind.

She looked down at herself for the first time. Her armor was blackened and covered in ash, dust, and bits of charred wood. But it was still there, still solid. A pile of the soot ringed the ground around her, the remnants of the burning detritus that the firefighters had brushed off of her.

"That was the bravest thing I have ever seen." She heard one of the firemen breathe in her ear. She realized it was the older man with the mustache, the captain, or whatever they called the head firefighter. Then someone pushed an oxygen mask in her face, and she greedily drank in the crystal pure air.


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Acadian
post Nov 23 2019, 10:13 PM
Post #131


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From: Las Vegas



Wow!

What a powerfully epic episode.

If there was any doubt that within the breast of this young woman beats the heart of a superhero, that doubt is tenfold dispelled. This episode really displayed that, when it comes to the perilous, dirty, terrifying business of being a superhero, Stormcrow is the gritty real deal.

I loved how she made her own fire exit for that crowd by calling upon the power of her mind, body and spirit to act as one and propel her through that reinforced wall.

It was clear that she grimly made the conscious choice to save everyone she could – or perish in the attempt. Bravest thing that fireman ever saw? I believe him.


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Renee
post Nov 25 2019, 02:25 PM
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Yikes, she's making an emergency exit. ohmy.gif

"Til Valhall!" ... I can just see her saying this in a comic book with a jagged bubble around her words.

QUOTE
It is with the police that January will have the most trouble with,


... or some kind of bent lawyers, trying to get money any way they can.

I think I know what's coming in the next chapter. wink.gif Hee, how clever, Miss Rosa.

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Renee
post Nov 25 2019, 05:12 PM
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QUOTE
Renee: Like I said, Ryo is based on someone I knew online. He does have a lot of issues. None of those are random. They are all common traits for someone like him. Can anyone guess what underlies those issues?


Did we ever get an answer to this? I still don't know what issues Ryo could have.

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SubRosa
post Nov 30 2019, 04:55 PM
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Acadian: I enjoyed writing the fire a great deal, because January's heart really shines through in it. It is very much the January Doctrine put into action, even though she has yet to put words to such a thing.

When I was doing my initial high level plotting, I was looking at various ways I could gradually ease her into conflicts and steadily raise the stakes each time. You see that a lot with not only super hero fiction, but all sorts of action stories and video games. The protagonist starts with the mooks, works their way up to bosses, and ends with the big bad. So for the early stuff I went with things like the diamond smuggler and his bodyguards, the misguided inventor Isaac, and now a massive fire. So far no real, honest-to-goodness supervillains. That comes next chapter. Of the first 3 chapters, I enjoy this one the most, because the stakes are now so much higher. Also because there is not a single supervillain in this chapter. It is all ordinary, everyday danger and villainy. In many ways, January is graduating from Superhero Bootcamp this chapter, and becoming a real-deal hero.



Renee: The real fire this event was based on killed 36 people, because they were trapped inside the burning building. I put Stormcrow in there so she could make an exit the real people never had, and get everyone out. It is a great example of the good that supers could do if they were real. More of that this episode.

I dug around to find an example of a viking battlecry. The Til Valhall was pretty much all I could find, aside from people shouting "Odin!" or "Thor!", which did not feel right for January. She's not really that big into either of them.

I have not dished about Ryo yet. Sadly, he will not appear again for several chapters. So we won't be getting to the bottom of his issues any time soon. I can PM you if you like.







Music to listen to while you read - Blood Raven's Theme

Blood Raven


Chapter 3.7 - Stormcrow Burning

Then January waved off the mask. She was not finished. She looked back to the blazing monster that rose up in front of her. There was still that one last woman inside, the one she had thrown clear of the disintegrating floor. She had to go back. She could not allow the fiery beast to claim another victim.

"There are still people inside." January wheezed. "I have to go back."

"You can't go back in there," someone said. She pushed them aside as gently as she could. She needed to get a clear leap, focus her energy, to break through the wall of the upper floor.

"Stormcrow, take one of their masks," Gadget said clearly in her ear.

January blinked. He was right. He was always right. One of the firefighters quickly pulled off his mask and oxygen tank, and with the help of his comrades, strapped it around her frame. January steeled herself, and looked down for her cape. It was still laid out underneath the horribly burned man. She was not going to make them move him to get it back. She would just have to do without.

She focused. She thought of the elements. She was air, she was earth, she was water, she was spirit, and yes, she was fire too.

She was a comet blazing through the sky. She smashed through the concrete wall and landed on her feet on the second floor. She felt it buckle and rock beneath her, and feared that it too, would collapse. She prayed to Freyja to give her more time. Just a little more. To find whoever was left.

The smoke assaulted her once more. But this time, with the mask and oxygen, it did not burn down deep inside her. Instead it was merely a thick soup that she had to stagger though. It felt almost as if she was a deep sea diver, plodding through the benthic depths. She found the woman she had thrown, sprawled out motionless on the dance floor. January gathered her up in her arms as gently as she could. Then she made her way to the back of the building, to where she had broken open an escape hole earlier.

"Yes!" Gadget exulted in her ear. "Backup is here!"

January did not know what that meant. More fire trucks? As if that mattered now. They would never stop the fire, and it would be suicide for a mundane firefighter to try to enter this inferno.

A nightmare snarled and roared from above. January looked up, and saw that the entire ceiling was a sheet of flame. She saw the support beams high overhead buckle, snap, and give way. Out of reflex she hunched over the woman she was carrying, and threw her back and arms across her to shield her from as much of the deluge that was coming.

But it never came. After a few moments January dared to look back up again. Her mouth gaped at what she saw.

A glowing barrier of golden light stretched across the ceiling, from one end of the building to the other. The ruined ceiling burned above it, held away impotently by the barrier of force. January could see waves and eddies of light flowing through the force field, like currents in a river, or blood within a body. These currents all flowed downward, and met at the form of a woman.

She floated above the floor, arms stretched out high over her head, as if beseeching the gods for aid. She was dressed from head to toe in black armor. Most of it was something similar to January's, in that it was flexible and made of woven material. Other sections - such as along her forearms and shoulders - were hardened plates. A blood red raven was emblazoned across her chest. Likewise, her cape, utility belt, boots, and gauntlets were the same crimson shade. The bone white skin of her lower face was left bare by her mask, and her hair and lips were brilliant scarlet.

She was a like a bloody gash, cut into the air where she floated. January smelled it - blood - coppery and thick, and tasted it in her throat.

Blood Raven.

Now January noted that the heroine's armor was sliced open in several places. Not in single cuts, but in groups of three, as if she had been clawed by some sort of animal. There was no sign of blood in or around the wounds however. There was not even any sign of scars. Just pristine skin, white as bone china.

"It gives me great delight to make your acquaintance Stormcrow," the newcomer said in archaic formality. "Yet I strongly urge alacrity of motion, for but little time remains for this domicile."

January nodded. What did you say when you met your idol, and they gave you such a gentle suggestion? She had no idea. But she knew what she had to do, and she did it. January hoisted the unconscious woman in her arms and raced for the opening she had previously battered through the wall. She cleared it in a moment, and landed in the field outside, now churned into a quagmire of mud by rain and pounding feet. Once she deposited the woman into the arms of a paramedic, she leaped skyward again, and alighted within the burning building.

"Turn your gaze in that direction if you please," Blood Raven pointed to the back of the building, toward the stage and mixing room. "I smell the blood of mortals within."

That is when January realized that the other hero was not wearing a breath mask, or any sort of rebreather at all. In fact, she was not breathing at all! Her eyes glowed with blood-red light, two smaller fires amidst the inferno. In that moment, nothing about her seemed human.

There was no time to wonder. January pushed her feet forward, one in front of the other, and scampered across the stage. She darted into the mixing room, and sure enough, she found two more people within, coughing and throwing up all over the sound board.

Without a word she took them both under her arms, and lifted them from the ground. They felt light as a feather. She sped back out across the stage, and leaped through the gaping hole in the wall. She splashed down hard in the mud outside, almost toppling over. But she made sure that she took all of the force of the landing with her feet and knees. Her charge's toes never touched the ground until she handed them over to the firemen outside.

January turned back to the inferno. It seemed like she had been doing this forever. She called up the strength in her legs for another leap. But the makeshift entryway was blocked by the red and black form of Blood Raven. The superheroine floated through the egress, and finally drew her hands down. With that the golden force field holding up the roof vanished. The fiery wreckage immediately collapsed in upon itself, and January was sure that she felt the ground shake as an eruption of smoke and ash shot skyward from the ruin.

Blood Raven was blotted from sight by the cloud of smoke and dust. A few moments later the red glow of her eyes burned from the roiling darkness. Then rest of her frame slowly emerged from the smoke. With a coolness that January wished she possessed, the other heroine descended gently to the earth, cape draped about her shoulders.


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Acadian
post Nov 30 2019, 07:31 PM
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Stormcrow pairs well with the music of Two Steps from Hell. goodjob.gif

I noted to myself at the end of the last episode that the woman Stormcrow had tossed to safety before diving down into the inferno was unaccounted for. I confess I suspected an oversight on your part and toyed even with PM’ing you to mention it. Forgive my doubts, as this episode quickly clarified ‘twas no oversight at all.

"Stormcrow, take one of their masks," Gadget said clearly in her ear.
January blinked. He was right. He was always right.’

- - Buffy can attest that having a voice in your ear can be incredibly helpful – especially one who is always right. wink.gif

’She focused. She thought of the elements. She was air, she was earth, she was water, she was spirit, and yes, she was fire too.
She was a comet blazing through the sky. She smashed through the concrete wall and landed on her feet on the second floor.’

- - Wow, that is a serious superhero trick!

By Julianos’ little tea pot but if Blood Raven’s entrance didn’t top even Stormcrow’s feat! Stormcrow is impressive but clearly not in Blood Raven's league - yet. Somehow though, I suspect that Blood Raven has a few centuries of experience on young Stormcrow.


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Renee
post Dec 2 2019, 10:48 PM
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My gosh, sorry to hear folks died in there, in real-life. sad.gif I can just imagine the fire must have spread so fast.

Yes, you can PM me about Ryo, I am too curious now.

Ah-ha, so that's what the coppery smell was at the concert. I did turn on Blood Raven's music just as she showed up, what an enigma this one is! viking.gif

And again, one of my favorite things about The Stormcrow is the fact that she lives amongst a large population of people who have no idea who she really is. I keep wanting to make guesses about who might suspect her true identity and so on, but then I don't want to influence this work-in-progress, right? smile.gif

As you write this, how many chapters "ahead" are you? Just curious. With Goblin Lady, most of those tales were written whatever week they were posted, which is why I think I began getting stressed-out. Sometimes I'd get lucky though, and I'd write too much for one week. Then I could let the extra text get posted for the next week.

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SubRosa
post Today, 05:20 PM
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Acadian: I was recently thinking the same about the Stormcrow fic and Two Steps From Hell. I keep trying to look for other sources for music just for the sake of diversity. But I always seem to come back to Two Steps. I think they are the official soundtrack for the series. Although the Big Bad's theme music will still be Gustav Holst's Mars.

January would never forget someone. That is the downside to writing this all out first, and then breaking up into forum-sized pieces for posting. The last few weeks, and the weeks following this, are all meant to be read as one big scene.

I really like Jan having that invisible partner to offer insight and advice. This way she does not have to think of everything, like so many solo characters like Batman or Superman do. She does not have to be perfect.

I really liked putting that not so subtle nod that January's powers ultimately derive from focusing on the elements into her leap back into the warehouse.

Blood Raven is a lot of fun to write. Difficult, but fun. She really is January's litmus test for what a hero must be, but also a warning of what she does not want to become. Sort of like Luke in the cave on Dagobah.


Renee: That smell of blood is January magically sensing Blood Raven's presence. It is not something other people feel. Even January does not know how to interpret it, yet. But she is learning.

Well so far only Gadget knows that January is Stormcrow. But keep watching...

I did not start posting until I had the entire first chapter completed. I was working on Chapter 2 while I posted that. By the time I started posting that, I was already writing Chapters 3 and 4. Now I am starting on Chapter 5.

By chapter, I do not meant a single post here. I mean a full chapter, most of which are 20k words and change. Chapter 3 (the current one) should take us into January. I imagine Chapter 4 will go from then to March or April. Then Chapter 5, which I am starting now, will start getting posted. So I am about 5 months ahead now.

But a week before each post I still go back and go over it. Usually one time a day for four or five days. Mostly I am just looking for typos and making minor tweaks. Stuff that I missed in my original drafts. But lately I have been doing some major retooling in several of the posts, today's included. The healing in today's was completely redone, as I did not like the kind of power it was giving to Blood Raven. I wanted something more limited. In the past I did a lot of rework on the festival posts, to add more detail about Downtown Detroit. Hopefully I won't be doing so much rework very often. I would prefer to be working more ahead.







Anglo-Saxon Kennings



Chapter 3.8 - Stormcrow Burning

"I hope there was no one else in there." The fire captain groaned.

"None whose hearts still beat," Blood Raven fixed him with her shining crimson eyes. "But there are those still counted among the living yet desirous of aid, are there not?"

"There-" January tried to speak, but her lungs betrayed her again. She found herself doubled over, as her chest was wracked with violent convulsions. Blood and spittle sprayed the interior of the firefighter's oxygen mask that she wore. She peeled it off and let it dangle loosely, until the coughing fit passed.

"It seems relief is required by one much nearer." Blood Raven's voice floated from above her head. January straightened up, and took a moment to just revel in the feeling of the cool rain that splashed her face. Then she shook her head, and tried to point to the terribly burned man she had pulled from the flames.

"I sense that his life shall not flee just yet." Blood Raven turned her gaze to follow the motion, then looked back to January. "However, it appears that your lungs are not as resilient as the rest of your armament. Clearly, attention is required."

A warm, red light filled the air around them, and she heard Blood Raven speaking in an odd language. Perhaps it was Gaelic? It sounded ancient, primal, and wild. It was the kind of thing that she imagined might have been shouted on Beltane or Samhain from stone circles that crowned shadowed hills.

It might have been the words that awakened something within her. Or maybe it was the intent beneath the words. In any case January felt power there: a deep, all-pervasive energy that sprang from the vigilante just as plainly as the rain that fell from the thunderclouds overhead.

Brilliant symbols sprang into crimson life at their feet, adding even more illumination to the scene. January recognized them as Celtic: triquetras, triskelions, awen, Brighid's crosses, and elaborate knotwork. They formed a circle around them. A magic circle - January quickly realized - which spun and slowly rose up into the air as Blood Raven chanted, as if summoned by her will.

She took January's wrist in one hand, and pulled back the sleeve of her armor. That bared the old suicide scars that crisscrossed her wrist to all. Blood Raven stared at that for a moment, as people always did. One of her fingers transformed into a long claw, which effortlessly slashed a deep runnel through January's arm. January felt her flesh tear under the other woman's talon. It reminded her of the feeling of cloth ripping apart. She gasped in spite of herself, and watched her blood run down her bared arm.

Blood Raven gazed at the wound, as if mesmerized by the red flow. She sniffed at it, drinking in the scent, as if she were interrogating the very blood streaming from January's arm.

Blood Raven used the still-human fingers of her hand to pull back a panel set into the palm of her gauntlet. Bone white flesh was exposed underneath. She curled her fingers inward, and that single razor claw pierced her flesh as easily as if it was butter. A torrent of wound-dew issued forth, filling January's nose with the coppery scent of blood.

Wound-dew? Since when did she think in Anglo-Saxon kennings? Something about all of this… this blood and magic, conjured up such ancient and primal thoughts within her. Race memories? If one gave stock in that. Or perhaps it was just too much reading history and heroic fiction.

Moving quickly, Blood Raven clasped her injured palm to January's slashed forearm. The young superheroine abstractly noted that all of the blood that had flowed from their wounds now rose back up to them. It literally levitated through the air, crawled up their arms, and sank back into their flesh.

"Crom!" she heard Gadget breathe in her earpiece. "That's cool!"

January had to agree. But she also found herself hoping that Blood Raven did not have HIV, or HPV, or any of a host of other blood-borne diseases.

January felt something being pulled from inside her, as if drawn out with her blood. Even with her writer's imagination, she could not put words to the feeling. It was as if some dark spirit was being exorcised from her being. Some malignity being cut away from her body. Whatever it was, she felt it being siphoned away by a strange form of energy. By that power she had earlier felt beneath Blood Raven's chant. That energy seemed to drag the darkness from her, out through the wound in her arm, and draw it up into Blood Raven.

Now she did gasp for breath. Her lungs worked again! She took in a deep gulp of air. She did not cough, or gag, again. The fire that had scorched deep within her chest was gone. Instead she breathed deeply, and everything felt normal once more. Just as it had before she had entered the burning building. She stared down at her arm, and saw no sign of blood on her skin. The cut that Blood Raven had made was no longer there. Not even a scar was left behind. There was no trace of it ever having existed.

Blood Raven had gone silent. January now realized that she had abandoned her chant for some time. Ever since she had felt that darkness being drawn out. The red light was gone too, and the glowing magic circle with it.

But now the scarlet-haired woman coughed. It was a deep, hacking convulsion, that doubled her over, and nearly drove her to her knees. Phlegm, soot, and even a little blood sprayed the mud beneath them.

Out of reflex January reached out a hand to steady the other woman. She felt her shudder beneath her fingers, as one paroxysm after another of coughing gripped her. Finally she went still, and straightened her back once more. She wiped her mouth and chin with the back of her hand. January wondered how she managed to do that without smudging her lipstick. Maybe that was a superpower? If so, she would love to possess it.

January stood there in the rain, and realized that the vigilante had just healed her with magic. No, not healed her. Blood Raven had taken her injuries into herself. Absorbed them through her blood. She had endured the seared lungs in January's place, and somehow regenerated the wound herself.

"Jesus!" one firefighter murmured.

"Sweet Mother of God!" gasped another.

"They deserve no praise for this act, save perhaps in inspiration," Blood Raven insisted. "There is great power in sacrifice. In those here and now who suffer the wounds for others."

Blood Raven looked around to all of them, and briefly locked her eyes with every single person in turn, as if to underscore her point.

"All of you possess this power," she said. "You wield it every day, no less than I."

January noted that the firefighters all looked at Blood Raven with awe. But not with joy, or admiration. She was like a goddess who walked among mortals. Powerful, stunning, dangerous, inexplicable, and ever remote. She did not live in the same world they did, and made no attempt to hide that fact. Even at her most beneficent, like now, she still remained isolated, apart from the rest of the world.

January's heart fell. She had been an outsider all of her life. It did not make her feel any better to see another who was even more cut off from humanity than she was. Even if Blood Raven's isolation was self-imposed. She was reminded of how her Literature professor had so aptly pointed out that not only was Frankenstein's monster alienated, but so too was Victor himself.

But this was hardly the time for literary introspection. She had to focus on the here and now, as Blood Raven herself had just remarked upon.

"Thank you," January breathed. She breathed easy in fact, now that her lungs were healthy and normal again. "Thank you so much."

"It was my distinct pleasure." Blood Raven inclined her head slightly. "It delights me greatly to finally make the acquaintance of Detroit's newest champion." As people sometimes did, she pronounced "Detroit" in the old French manner, so that it sounded like "Day-Twa."

January could not restrain a blush. She was thankful for her helmet, which must have hidden most of it from view. She had no idea what to say in return. In the end all she could manage was a strangled, embarrassing grunt and a hurried nod.


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- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 7th December 2019 - 11:08 PM