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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
Acadian
post Aug 1 2020, 09:24 PM
Post #261


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



A good followup, tying up loose ends. Jan was gracious to offer an alliance with Lt Hunter. . . his loss though. Looks like Chief N-9 will be a valuable ally.

Her aerial departure opens a whole new era to her flying. Her magic is blending with and making her flying much more mystical. I like the approach that Blood Raven taught her that magic seems largely a matter of exerting her will over the laws of nature. It is no wonder that:
’She allowed a genuine smile to cross her features.’
- - So much better than a Teresaesue faint one. wink.gif

No rest for the weary though, as there appears to be more trouble brewing in Motor City.


Nit: 'January imagined there was something for her {to?} learn from that alone.'


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Renee
post Aug 5 2020, 06:39 PM
Post #262


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Ha ha World of Guncraft. laugh.gif I love how you change all these popular names around.

Uh oh. So Wayne Anthony Mills might have something to do with this.

QUOTE
I was in his PC before the cops took it," Gadget said in her ear. "I like this kid already. His name on World of Guncraft is AfroSamurai2004. We'll have to see if he wants to game with us."


Oh my gosh! laugh.gif Buncha nerds!

Yeah, my nephew would teabag downed enemies in Halo and Oblivion back when he was more of a gamer. Yuck.

I like that. She blurts something out loud to Gadget, forgetting that nobody else can hear him.

Awesome, she played Skyrim. And she's going behind the stupid lieutenant's back, and might have a sniper on her side. Yeah, because that's better for her. January is awesome, but she no lone fighter like her great aunt.

Uh oh. Nazis downtown. I'm actually looking forward to January maybe kicking them around. I hope that's okay to say. It's how I feel.

QUOTE
I am sorry you had to deal with that swat team. I bet it made you look at the police in a different light.


Oh it wasn't that bad, and not a SWAT team at all. It was regular police. My room got a little messed up. I was terrified at the time, but it wan't nearly as bad as what the Mills just went through. I was living in a big house with 7 people (2 of them weren't supposed to be living there) and one of them, this lady who'd just moved in literally a month before, actually offered to make coffee for everyone. She calmed everyone down. Maybe if the one guy hadn't fessed to growing things would have gotten worse. sad.gif In fact from what I understand, if he hadn't confessed, ALL of us would have been in trouble. Even though the 'operation' was obviously in his living space.

I was living in Portland Oregon at the time. Maybe if this had happened in Detroit... things might have been much different.

Finally, we are cool with seeing more of Lieutenant Hunter. He's a ass. But if you bring him back, you have the power to bring African Goddess back, right? wink.gif

This post has been edited by Renee: Aug 5 2020, 06:54 PM
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SubRosa
post Aug 8 2020, 06:55 PM
Post #263


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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: Jan did take her own advice, eventually. Even when her dander is up, her character shines through. Chief N-9 will appear in at least one future chapter. He will kick it off in fact, when supervillains make a nuisance of themselves in at the Lakeside Mall, and he calls in Stormcrow for an assist.

January's real wings are indeed a huge evolution in her super abilities. They really open up the world for her to travel and explore. We will even start seeing her beyond Michigan's borders in upcoming episodes.

Thanks for the nit. Proofreading is a value.


Renee: World of Guncraft and Sword Science Online were fun names to invent.

A giant bunch of nerds! Swatting began in nerd culture, so I leaned into that heavily.

When it is no longer ok to punch Nazis, we will be in really big trouble... But it won't be January doing the punching, at least not yet. Someone else is already Downtown.

There will be another African Goddess sighting later this chapter. Maybe in 4 or 5 more episodes.















A pic of Downtown and the River

Renaissance Center Roof

Pic of Jefferson and Griswold

Close up pic of the streets




Motor City Pride is a real event


Nazis really did protest at Motor City Pride


The National Socialist League is based on a real Nazi group


Odal Rune


The SOE



Chapter 5.13 - Crystal Death

Blood Raven gazed down at the rainbow of celebrants that filled Hart Plaza, over 700 feet below. Like the many rainbow flags they waved, they came in every color of the spectrum. They were likewise every age, and every gender. Thanks to January, she had learned that there was more to the latter than the standard two options she had always been taught. Life was a spectrum, rather than a handful of rigid selections, and the throngs below exemplified that fact.

It was at once exhilarating and frightening to a person her age. How the world had changed since her birth. If anyone had told her while she had attended Mrs. Gibson's School for Proper Young Girls that one day there would be bridges over every river on the eastern seaboard, she would have laughed in their face. Now there were not only bridges, but highways, and railroads, and airports - ports for air travel! - everywhere. Once upon a time a squirrel could have traveled from Maine to Florida by hopping from tree to tree, its feet never touching the ground. Now it would use one of the Wright Brother's aeroplanes to get there!

But the changes to the land were nothing compared to those of the people. To think that a white person could marry an African! Or was the term a person of color? She knew it definitely was not a colored person, and absolutely not a Negro, at least not anymore. Oh it was so difficult trying to keep up with the vagaries of modern language! It was even worse than technology.

Or that homosexuality could be so openly acknowledged! What a world. Of course she had read Sappho and giggled with the other girls, when Mrs. Gibson was safely out of earshot of course. But the thought of two women walking hand in hand in public, or kissing one another... Poor Mrs. Gibson would have surely died of apoplexy had such a subject even been broached in her puritanical presence!

Her life as Neo-Pagan writer Branwen Renner had certainly opened her eyes to the Queer community. That was the term January said she preferred. The only thing modern Pagans did not tolerate was intolerance, as oxymoronic as that sounded. But given the fact that at one time Branwen Renner would have been hanged for writing her books, it was a necessary oxymoron. January would have been hanged for merely existing back then.

Sometimes the world changed for the better.

Blood Raven spun on her heel and strode across the roof of the Renaissance Center's highest, central tower. The Ren Cen was not a single building, but rather a complex of seven glass and steel skyscrapers. The cylindrical central tower was the highest, stretching just over seventy floors tall. It was the highest building in the city in fact. This central spire was surrounded by four smaller, diamond-shaped towers. Finally, a pair of even lower structures rose up to one side of the complex.

The peak upon which she stood was crowded with antennas, satellite dishes, and gigantic cables that were clamped down to the rooftop. A small radio mast rose up several dozen feet from the center of the tower, surrounded by low clumps of machinery and venting. Only a technophile like Cray could imagine what all of it was for.

She idly recalled that when the complex had been built, it had been by the Ford Motor Company. Yet now the General Motors logo glowed from the electronic sign attached to the side of the central spire. However, that particular building was in fact a hotel. Only the six other towers were office space housing the administrative headquarters of the automotive giant, along with a prominent health insurance corporation.

She paused at the edge of the roof, and glanced down at the wider ring of another level a story below. This lower roof supported the window washing apparatuses, which appeared like nothing so much as giant tuning forks set into a trackway that ringed the building. Clustered around the center of the structure were even more mechanical devices, conduits, and satellite dishes. What would these people do without their satellites? They probably could not boil water without a computer to instruct them how.

Blood Raven looked beyond the rim of the lower level rooftop. Directly below her ran Jefferson Avenue, which was set back from the Detroit River, and ran parallel to it. Between the boulevard and the water stood the Ren Cen complex, Hart Plaza, and the entrance to the tunnel to Canada, among other sites. Behind the divided street rose the numerous skyscrapers of the Financial District. They were a chaotic mix of styles, from Art Deco artworks, to modern glass and chrome masterpieces. They reminded her of nothing so much as toys casually tossed aside by giants in a playground.

She let her eyes wander away from the Downtown core, and gazed across the flesh of the city that spread out far beyond the towering skyscrapers. Far smaller buildings lumped together in the manner of cells, while streets ran between them like veins and arteries. Only rather than carrying blood, they transported people to and fro. They were the real lifeblood of the city when it came down to it. The narrow belt of the Detroit River bounded the tissue of the city to her right. In every other direction, the metropolis seemed to spread out into a haze of infinity.

Nestled between the banks of the relatively narrow river was the hourglass shape of Belle Isle, connected to the American side by a single bridge. A winding roadway curled back and forth along its uneven coastline. Smaller roads crisscrossed the interior, leading to parks, memorials, an aquarium, sports fields, marinas, and more. A thick clump of woods nearly filled the far end of the island, where the remnants of the old zoo slowly crumbled into dissolution.

Last weekend the isle had been filled with people for the Grand Prix. She had waited there for most of the day. She had suspected that the Conjurer might make another summoning attempt nearby. But she had miscalculated, and instead he had struck at Ferndale Pride.

Now the island was practically deserted. That would give the Conjurer plenty of privacy for the summoning ritual. Yet it was still near enough to Downtown for him to find some measure of cover in the steady flow of people traveling to and from the festival in Hart Plaza.

She turned her gaze north and west from Belle Isle and scanned the tiny rooftops that spread out near the riverbank. Her eyes eventually settled upon one in particular. It was an abandoned warehouse not very far from the Renaissance Center and the Downtown core. The Conjurer had struck there just two weeks earlier, during the Electronic Music Festival. It had been the nearest she had come to apprehending him so far. But by then he had learned the art of anchoring his summonings, so that a simple banishment could not dispel them. She had been obliged to deal with the monster the old-fashioned way. That had given the Conjurer ample time to escape.

Would he return to the scene of his past crime for another summoning? He had not done so yet. But he also seemed to enjoy crowds, the larger the better. Perhaps it was simply because it was all the easier to lose himself in the sea of faces? Motor City Pride was the largest event taking place over the weekend. If anything would draw him forth, this would be it.

"Something is going on," Cray said over their communications link. His voice was soft, yet gruff. It reminded her of the feeling of wool or fleece on her ears. Not an unpleasant sensation. "I see a crowd of police just off Jefferson, by the Scientology Church."

Blood Raven wheeled about and strode back across the roof to face southwest. She felt her cape spill out into the wind behind her, and whip up high into the air along with the brilliant red strands of her wig. She smelled nothing arcane in the air, not even the simple spells of a neophyte. She closed her eyes and trained her magical senses upon that spot, yet still, there was no feeling of magic actively working to alter reality.

She opened her eyes once more and stared down at the area her technical specialist had indicated: the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Griswold Street. The Church of Scientology did not look like a church at all. It was a small, white office building of the Neo-Classical style. Nestled between the massive skyscrapers of One Woodward and 150 West Jefferson, it was a dwarf among giants. Behind it along Griswold Street stretched out a four story parking structure. Standing in the driveway of the latter was a crowd of people.

She brought up her hands in front of her face, and swiped them to either side. At the same time she called up her aion - what January would call mana - and turned loose the tiniest drop of it. She willed the energy to display the location. A window rimmed with golden energy sprang up in the air before her. The street and parking garage leaped up in tight magnification within, as if she viewed the area through a spyglass.

Now that she had a close up view, she could see that a score of Detroit Police officers were gathered around the entrance to the parking structure. They appeared to be ordinary patrolmen, wearing blue uniforms and black armored vests. They did not sport riot gear, nor carry weapons beyond their sidearms and pepper spray. Some even wore rainbow colored hearts pinned to their uniforms.

"This can't be for a big shot," Cray said. "The festival has VIP parking right next to Hart Plaza. Not that they would have a police escort anyway. Not even the mayor has this many bodyguards."

"Not this mayor," Blood Raven breathed. "Yet the previous one…"

"Well that one is still cooling his heels in prison," Cray replied. "I don't know what this could be, I don't have any-"

Cray's words stopped abruptly when a group of over a dozen men, and a few women, strode out of the parking structure. All were dressed in black, sporting red armbands emblazoned with swastikas. The men's heads were shaved bare, or nearly so, at least those not wearing black, coal scuttle helmets. All bore tattoos. Some were of swastikas and SS runes or skulls. Others were less obvious fascist markers such as solar crosses and the number 1488.

Many carried bright red shields, that curved inward like an old Roman scutum. All of these were decorated with a black, Norse Odal rune in the center. Written in Gothic script across the top of the design were the letters "NSL".

Blood Raven's eyes instantly narrowed in on the pistols openly hanging from the hips of many of the men. Some even carried rifles slung over their shoulders. She absentmindedly noted that none of the female Nazis were armed. She wondered if that meant they were less homicidally inclined than the others. Or if being women, they were not allowed to carry weapons? After all, white supremacists were as poisonous to women as they were to everyone else.

Blood Raven also noted something odd on their shoulders, some sort of rounded electronic devices. One of them carried neither a rifle or shield, but rather a large camera, the kind used by television crews. Several other ordinary cameras were slung from his neck as well.

Shouts in German ripped through the night air, intermingled with high-pitched screams. The acrid stench of gunpowder filled her nose, along with the disturbing aroma of burning human flesh. The latter was a distinctive stench, nauseatingly sweet, metallic, and savory at the same time. The boom of a 75mm cannon rang in her ears, along with the chatter of machine guns. She felt steel rip apart under her claws as she carved open another Panther tank. Then came the mouthwatering ambrosia of fresh blood, and the hot life force that jetted with it.

"Nazis," Cray's voice brought her back to the present. This was Detroit, not France, and it was no longer 1944. Then he explained the mystery of those strange devices on their shoulders. "Those are GoPros that they're wearing. They're recording all of this."

"The only thing Nazis love as much as murder is propaganda," Blood Raven growled. She could not stop herself from baring her teeth. At least she prevented them from transforming. Two and a half centuries had at least taught her to keep her fangs in check. No matter how great her bloodlust rose.

Now it was raging, as it usually did at the sight of a swastika. The beast deep inside of her rose up and howled for blood. Not for sustenance. She had fed well in preparation for this day's possible work. The monster within cried for vengeance. Selene, the Mother of Vampires, had gifted her progeny with many blessings. But the moon goddess had also passed on this curse in their blood, this passion for death, for its own sake. She could already imagine the sound of bones cracking under her hands, and the glorious feeling of blood spraying warm across her skin.

She clamped down hard on her fury. She was not an animal. She was not that monster, which threatened to overwhelm every vampire. That threatened to overwhelm every human. She was better than that, stronger than that, more disciplined than that.

In any case, it was broad daylight, and millions would be watching. This was not the time for killing swathes of fascists. France had taught her that was best done under the cover of darkness...

Blood Raven ended her viewing spell by swiping one hand left across the surface of the magical window. Then she stepped off the roof of the Renaissance Center. Out of reflex she warped reality around her, and reshaped it according to her will. Gravity no longer tugged at her feet. Instead she simply ignored the laws of physics, and moved through space as she desired. In only a matter of moments she arrowed down from her lofty perch to the street below, and held herself suspended above Jefferson Avenue.

She hovered there, and stared down Griswold Street. The Scientology building now rose at her left shoulder, with the parking garage beyond it. The massive tower of One Woodward shot up at her right side. Far in the distance straight ahead she could even see her own lair: the black and gold masterpiece of the Detroit Radiator Building. It loomed over the far end of Griswold like a Gothic sentinel, as she now did herself opposite it.

Walking directly toward her down the sidewalk were the Nazis, with the police officers forming a cordon about them. Pedestrians nearby stopped what they were doing and stared in shock. The Nazis ignored them. Instead they strode down the street as if they owned it. As if they were the masters of the Earth.

They had much to learn...

"Don't kill them!" Cray pleaded. "Not now, not like this."

"The SOE taught me how to deal with these creatures," Blood Raven replied evenly. She heard car horns blaring beneath her, and brakes screeching. She hoped there would be no collisions as drivers stopped their vehicles right in the middle of Jefferson to gawk.

"They want a show, to put on their website," Cray insisted. "They want people to overreact, and do something crazy, like start a fight. The more dramatic it is, the more money they make in donations."

"They seek another Charlottesville," Blood Raven considered. "Not in my city."

She gestured with one hand, and every camera strapped to a Nazi cracked. With another wave of a finger, so did the massive TV camera of the videographer, and all of the smaller cameras that hung from his neck.

She waved her other hand from side to side, and a field of golden force sprang up across Griswold, stretching from building to building on either side of the street. That completely blocked the road off from Jefferson Avenue, and Hart Plaza beyond. They would never reach the festival. Not while she existed.


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Acadian
post Aug 8 2020, 08:46 PM
Post #264


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Very neat for a change to have an episode from Blood Raven’s perspective. You have done such a nice job of showing us who she is that when we had the chance to travel inside her head here, her private thoughts were completely consistent with who you have shown her to be. That said, it was still nice to put more of a fine point on her history, attitudes and struggles she faces controlling the beast within.

Ripping open a German tank with her hands conjured images of Wonder Woman – another superhero I’ve come to enjoy. tongue.gif


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Renee
post Aug 13 2020, 06:22 PM
Post #265


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From: Ellicott City, Maryland



....Mrs. Gibson's School for Proper Young Girls ... indifferent.gif My gosh... that name alone gives me shudders. indifferent.gif

I love the way this chapter starts. Flying 700 feet over Hart Plaza. Phew. That pic of the Renaissance Center buildings helps a lot.

Is Cray more of a mortal? Or is he similar to her? From an entirely different century?

Wow, she wears a wig. I didn't know that. Why does she wear a wig?


QUOTE
"Not this mayor," Blood Raven breathed. "Yet the previous one…"

"Well that one is still cooling his heels in prison," Cray replied.


Sounds like Baltimore's recent mayor. Sentenced recently to 3 years, for a children's book, of all things. Basically, misappropriation of funds, tax evasion, but at the center of it all was the book she wrote. sad.gif

Wow, there are women skinheads? Never heard this before. Hey, at least they don't discriminate females. indifferent.gif


QUOTE
Don't kill them!" Cray pleaded. "Not now, not like this."


I love that line. He knows her well, it seems.

Okay. Edge of our seats time...

This post has been edited by Renee: Aug 14 2020, 12:48 PM
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SubRosa
post Aug 15 2020, 08:29 PM
Post #266


Ancient
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Acadian: This was a scene that could only be written from Blood Raven's pov, so I embraced the opportunity to show the inner workings of her mind, and reveal a few more things about her life, such as her service in France with the SOE, or her youth at Mrs. Gibson's School for Proper Young Girls.

Wonder Woman is a great comparison to Blood Raven. They are comparable in many ways. Did you see the live action movie from a few years ago? That was excellent. Gal Gadot was the perfect WW. I still remember the TV show with Lynda Carter.



Renee: I did some research, and found that schools like Mrs. Gibson's were very common back in the 1700s and 1800s. They were basically finishing schools, teaching girls all the arts a woman needed to know - cooking, sewing, playing musical instruments, and otherwise being pleasant for men to be around.

Cray is entirely mortal. We will meet him in the flesh in the beginning of chapter 6, and learn a bit of his history then.

Blood Raven's wig is inspired by Batwoman's. She wears it as a ruse, so that someone will try to grab her hair, and come away surprised and off-balance for a moment. She defeated Batman once that way. It is also a way to protect her secret identity. As Kate Kane she has short hair. As Batwoman she has long hair. So it's a piece of misdirection there as well. Finally, Blood Raven deliberately uses her presence as a weapon to overawe people. As January noted when they were in the hospital in chapter 3, when Blood Raven turns her gaze your way, it is feels like someone is walking over your grave. A great mane of blood red hair blowing in the wind behind her one component of that image she wants to create.

Wow, using a children's book to basically embezzle money. The lengths grifters will go to! The Detroit mayor in prison is Kwame Kilpatrick, the former hip-hop mayor of the D

There are definitely female white supremacists, be they Nazis, KKK, skin heads, or other varieties of fascists. Though there are a few Greek organizations like the Proud Boys (who also swear a vow to never masturbate, these people are weird). But white supremacy is just as bigoted against women as they are against everyone else. They just need women to prove that they are heterosexual. And just like there is no shortage of Karens just itching to call the police whenever they see a black person, there is no shortage of female white supremacists. Because even as they are discriminated against, they see their opportunity to feel powerful by discriminating against someone else in turn. That is what being a Karen is all about after all.

Cray does know Blood Raven well. He has been her online backup for a long time, just like Avery is January's computer partner.








The 14 Words


White Supremacists within law enforcement



Tulle


Oradour sur Glane


Why Nazis are so afraid of clowns



Chapter 5.14 - Crystal Death

Now a man wearing a black suit and sporting a shaven head and goatee came forward. He appeared to be a lawyer for the Nazis, as he was ranting about their rights, and demanding restitution for their broken cameras. Blood Raven ignored him. Instead she watched the armed men. So far none of them had drawn a handgun or unslung a rifle, yet.

Michigan state law made openly carrying firearms legal. That explained why they had not been arrested on the spot. Perhaps the Nazis hoped to provoke them, or others, with the mere sight of the weapons? That violence was their ultimate goal was a given. Nazis could not exist without it.

The police spread out, moving away from the Nazis. So far they too, had not drawn weapons. The officers made no move to approach her, or even address her. Most were stone-faced. But Blood Raven did note that several fought to conceal sneers or other looks of disgust. For once, these were not directed at her.

Apparently the Detroit Police were not happy with their assignment to protect the Nazis. She imagined the black officers, who made up at least three quarters of the complement, must have been especially displeased. How they could not shoot the Nazis on the spot was beyond her. Then again, she could have incinerated their blood and turned them into walking explosions of super-heated gore in a heartbeat. Yet she had not done so either.

For once, both she and the Detroit Police were not only united, but equally restrained. January would be so pleased at how they had found common ground.

Blood Raven took a moment to glance around, and saw that traffic had now come to a complete halt on both sides of Jefferson Avenue behind her. People had even gotten out of their cars to watch, and were raising their phones to record. Blood Raven fought back a frown. This was why January was always being shown on the internet and television. Everyone had to record every event on their phones, as if it was the only way to validate it had taken place.

She turned back to the Nazis, and saw that traffic had stopped behind them on Griswold as well. Naturally, since she had blocked it off with her force field. But people could have turned off it at the cross street just beyond the parking structure and gone either left or right from there. But again, they preferred to stop and watch. She noted that no cars remained in the street beside the Nazis. They had all backed up to get out of the way.

That was good. If things went badly, there would be no innocents in the middle of things.

Yet she was keenly aware that the Nazis were still getting their publicity, even if not from their own cameras. She could extend her spell to destroy all the phones in the area. But that would do nothing to aid her cause. Of course she could make herself invisible to all the cameras, but there were too many Nazis for her to extend the spell far enough to cloak them all as well. She would have to be content with destroying the white supremacist's own recording devices.

"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children!"

A Nazi with a shaven head and thoroughly ordinary features had a bullhorn out. Since he had no real crowd around him, he had no one to harangue but his own followers. Still, he plunged ahead with a litany of racial, homophobic, religious, and nationalist epithets. It was really quite a feat of hate for a single sentence.

"These guys are the National Socialist League," Cray said in her ear. "According to the Southern Poverty Law Center they are currently the biggest neo-Nazi group in America. If you can keep up with how often they come and go. The guy with the bullhorn is their leader, Mikael Scheuer."

"Too many brave men and women died to give me the chance to fight now," Scheuer droned on. "I will honor their blood and fight for soil."

"Now I see the reason for the Odal rune on their shields," Blood Raven breathed quietly, so that only Cray could hear.

"You mean that thing that looks like an awareness ribbon?" Cray responded.

"Yes," Blood Raven explained. "It represents lineage, especially a noble or exclusive one. It also means inheritance of land or property."

"Blood and soil, at least these guys are consistent," Cray murmured, then his voice changed to become more certain. "Ok, I have some more info. Turns out the police chief knew about their demonstration in advance. That's why the police detail is here. But he didn't pass on the news to the mayor, press, or anyone else."

"He is more clever than I thought," Blood Raven hated to say the words. But they were earned. "It is called 'quarantine'. Solomon Fineberg - an American rabbi - developed it after the War to use against American Nazis. He understood that hate groups need the media to spread their message. Otherwise they wither and die. So instead of engaging with them in debates or even street fights, they do the opposite, and actively work to convince the news not to cover them. The fewer stories, the fewer donations and recruits they receive. Eventually they are strangled by the lack of sensationalism."

"So Chief Creighton kept this a secret, to keep Worldwide Network News from covering it nationwide?" Cray said. "You are right, that is clever."

"I have to say, you are handling this quite well," Cray continued. "Just looking at these… individuals... on the street cameras gets my blood boiling."

"I have years of experience with this particular strain of evil," Blood Raven said. "As I said, I know how to deal with them. Speaking of which, I want full work ups on every one of them. Names, addresses, families, everything."

"I'm running facial recognition right now," Cray said. "I've got three hits so far. They're already in the system. They're law enforcement. I'm also looking back at camera footage of all the cars that went into that lot, and getting their plates as a second line of inquiry."

"Good, I should like to know where to find them when the excitement is over," Blood Raven said.

"And then?"

"Then they shall meet Der Teufel von Bellac," Blood Raven breathed. It had been more than 70 years since she had slaughtered the 2nd SS Panzer division. She had thought she would never need to kill Nazis again. But history had a way of repeating itself.

"Isn't that a little overboard, even for neo-Nazis?" Cray argued. "I mean these people in particular haven't killed anyone, at least not yet."

"They will," Blood Raven contended. "Genocide is their sole reason for existing, they trumpet it openly. The Weimar Republic failed to excise this cancer. It destroyed their country, then the rest of Europe. I shall not allow the same to happen here."

"You know, you've gone five years without killing anyone," Cray continued to dissent. "That's a good streak to keep going."

"All things must end," Blood Raven growled. "These creatures sealed their fates when they came to my city."

"What would your great-granddaughter think of that?"

Blood Raven closed her eyes. She knew what January would think, even though she was one of those specifically targeted for murder by hate groups such as this. But what she did, she did for January, and everyone else like her.

She opened her eyes to see a new development. Now the Nazis had brought out a pair of flags. One was a rainbow flag, a plethora of which flew all about the Pride festival behind her in Hart Plaza. The other was an Israeli flag, with its blue Star of David set against a white background.

A different white supremacist held each flag, while a third pulled out a lighter. At this point the Detroit Police interceded. A black officer with lieutenant's bars on his shoulders said something to the Nazis. The Nazis frowned, and put away the lighter.

"Looks like Detroit's finest advised them of our fire safety regulations," Cray noted dryly.

Instead the Nazi threw down the Israeli flag he was holding. He straddled it, and pretended to urinate on it. In the meantime the other Nazi took the rainbow flag he held and tried to rip it up in his hands. But whoever had made the flag had done their work well, for it resisted his most strident efforts.

That was enough for Blood Raven. She drew forth the tiniest amount of her power, and directed it with a finger. A strand of golden force snaked out from her hand, and flew across the street. It wrapped around the rainbow flag, and yanked it from the Nazi's paws with ease. A second tentacle of force leaped from her other hand, and likewise caught up the Israeli flag. With barely a twitch of her wrists, both emblems were snapped back to her side. She took up one in each hand, and held them both aloft. With only a thought the wind changed at her command, and blew both out behind her in their full glory, along with the crimson streaks of her hair and cape.

That brought a cheer from the people now clustered around her feet. It was no longer just the commuters that were looking on. People were streaming across Jefferson Avenue from the festival in Hart Plaza to join them. Like it or not, this had become a media sensation. The Nazis were going to be on the news. There had been no way to truly prevent that, given the proliferation of smart phones and the internet. Blood Raven knew that at this point the best she could do was to make certain that the Nazis would be viewed as a wretched, feeble lot.

"Wife Power!" the crowd beneath her began to chant at the Nazis, along with "White Flowers!" and "Dwight Power!"

Blood Raven could not suppress a smile of vindication. She had no idea who Dwight Power was however. She was tempted to ask Cray to Googol it.

"Dwight Howard is a basketball player," his voice chimed in her ear a moment later, as if summoned by her thoughts.

The mocking of the crowd seemed to take the wind out of the Nazi's sails, what was left of it at least. They stared in disbelief at the crowd that laughed at them from the other side of Blood Raven's force field. Eventually they sullenly filed off the street, and back into the parking structure that they had emerged from.

Blood Raven did not fail to note that it had not been her withering gaze, or even her casual acts of power that had driven them off. No, it had been the people those Nazis had come to taunt and harangue, people who had responded not with violence, but with humor and irony.

Perhaps Cray had a point. Five years without killing was a good streak. It was a long way from Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane.

"Seig Fail! Seig Fail! Seig Fail!" the crowd now chanted.

A twenty year old Impala came out of the parking structure. Blood Raven recognized several of the faces within as belonging to the Nazis. It drove away from her down Griswold, and took the first turn out of sight. Next came a van, then another car.

"I've got them on video," Cray said, "looks like they are headed for the hills."

"Keep watching them," Blood Raven said. "Make sure they don't double back. They might try to ram the crowd."

"Maybe you could do something about that?" he suggested. "There would be a lot less risk if they were off the street and back in Hart Plaza."

"Even my powers of mental manipulation do not extend so far young man," Blood Raven noted. "Unless you are suggesting I throw them?"

"I am suggesting you lead them," Cray said. "Why don't you come down from the heavens and rub shoulders with the Earthlings? Who knows, you might even have fun for once in your life, old lady. January will be so jealous that you are getting all the press."

"She would love this," Blood Raven sighed. January was so good at dealing with civilians, with people, so much better than she was. She still remembered what the young heroine had said to her in the hospital.

"You know if you were a little nicer to people, they might trust you more, and maybe even help you sometime."

Perhaps January had a point. Perhaps her public image would benefit from some positive effort.

Blood Raven pulled on the fabric of space, and descended gently to the street. With a single nod in its direction, her force field across Griswold vanished. She pulled at her energy, and made an effort to draw it in, and suppress the aura of dread that she habitually projected whenever she clad herself in armor. The wind around her died down, allowing the flags she carried, and her cape, to drape freely about her shoulders.

People crowded around her, smiling, cheering, slapping her on the back. She did her best to smile back. She told herself that it was no different from a Neo-Pagan convention. She attended those with regularity in her current alter ego as Branwen Renner. In fact, some of the faces she saw around her may well have been at ConVocation in February.

As Cray had suggested, she led them across Jefferson, and back to Hart Plaza. It was simple. All she had to do was walk that way, and the crowd automatically followed. Soon traffic lurched back into motion once more in the empty street behind her. She paused at the entrance of the festival, and made a point to pay the entrance fee. She handed off both the flags she had rescued from the Nazis, and did her best to act like a normal, happy person, whatever that was.

The Nazis did not return.


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Acadian
post Aug 16 2020, 02:39 PM
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Yes, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman was what I had in mind. Though I do remember the old Lynda Carter TV show, I never paid much attention to it. I agree with you that the more recent movie was fabulous, and Gal Gadot was a truly inspired choice to play Diana. There is ‘look’ she has that includes raising one eyebrow when someone pisses her off right before makes them wish they had never crossed her. I can quite imagine that look on Blood Raven.

Blood Raven handled herself well here and nobody got hurt – unusual for her ‘interventions’. tongue.gif

I was glad to see her take the advice of January and Cray to c’mon down and rub shoulders with folks on the ground.


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Renee
post Aug 17 2020, 04:00 PM
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They were basically finishing schools, teaching girls all the arts a woman needed to know - cooking, sewing, playing musical instruments, and otherwise being pleasant for men to be around.

The final phrase is what gives me shudders. I have no problem learning how to cook better, how to sew, and so on, but I would have failed that final part big time, and hard core! I think a lot of modern women would. Someone should make a videogame about that. I would buy it!

I didn't know Batwoman wears a wig! laugh.gif Maybe I knew this as a kid because I watched the original show. Okay I see the reasoning now. Women robbers often wear wigs as part of their disguises; in fact, they can get away with this in certain parts of our country where wigs are common. I just never thought of a superhero doing so.

Yikes your mayor in Detroit got 28 years! blink.gif Wow, racketeering. Bribery. Yeah, sounds like he was more involved in the criminal life for sure. I think our Catherine Pugh did not intend to be a criminal. She was thinking her book would make a lot of money perhaps (a mayor getting involved in writing a child's book is certainly unique), and then she could turn around and make things right. She never imagined the whole thing would blow up.

QUOTE
But white supremacy is just as bigoted against women as they are against everyone else. They just need women to prove that they are heterosexual.


Sure, I see now. I guess I never really thought about it, but this does make sense.

I like how Raven is puzzled about everyone using their phones. And also holds back incinerating all of them. That would be wicked! Too bad she can't do this. Well, maybe she could do this, then escape back into her tower unharmed. But everyone on the force would know it was her who did this.

I hear Cray's voice as sort of soothing. Sort of like an airline pilot. Doesn't matter if there's a storm or if they're about to arrive to Toledo with no incidents, his voice is always calm and soothing. Unflappable. Maybe I'm wrong. I always try to 'voice' characters as I am reading them speak.

Ha, he's debating with her about killing them, I like that. See, he knows she is in charge. He's merely throwing his opinions at her, as though trying to provide some perspective. But he knows she'll do as she pleases in the end. He is similar to Avery in a way, I think I remember Avery also getting into debates with Jan, trying to provide counter-thoughts. But he's also a heck of a lot more polished, probably due to age. That's my assumption, anyway.

Whoa, she captures their flags. Ha ha! You go!

Seig Fail!

QUOTE
A twenty year old Impala


Oh gosh. laugh.gif You and your beater cars!

Awesome chapter, hon. Or sub-chapter I guess.

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macole
post Aug 17 2020, 11:55 PM
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QUOTE(SubRosa @ Aug 15 2020, 02:29 PM) *
, teaching girls all the arts a woman needed to know - cooking, sewing, playing musical instruments, and otherwise being pleasant for men to be around.

I've heard a few jokes about going to finishing school and learning to say FANTASTIC instead of something else much less flattering.


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SubRosa
post Aug 22 2020, 09:53 PM
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Acadian: Blood Raven is keenly aware of the cameras, and of publicity in general. She may not like any of it, but she does know how to use it. She also learned in France that killing Nazis in broad daylight is not a good idea. It just makes things worse for everyone else when more come and start making reprisals. That sort of thng is best done quietly, with no witnesses.

January is definitely having an affect on Blood Raven, just as the reverse is true.


Renee: Basically the whole purpose of schools for girls in those days was to make them a better marriage prospect.

Kwame was the gangsta mayor. He was a very, very bad dude. A prostitute who allegedly danced on his lap in one of his parties at the governor's mansion conveniently ended up murdered. The state attorney general very publicly put two investigators on the case. Then quietly fired both of them a week later. He covered the entire thing up.

Blood Raven does not like all these phones and cameras everywhere. She remembers life before every step you took was being recorded and scrutinized.

You are imaging Cray exactly as I intended. He is inspired by James Remar's portrayal of Gambi in Black Lightning. Here is a clip (Gambi is the white guy)

Cray knows that a frontal assault against Blood Raven's decision-making will never work. The harder he pushes her, the more stubborn it will make her. So instead he has learned to outflank her, and instead prompt her to look at other ideas, without trying to force it. You are right in that Avery is in the same boat, because January is just as stubborn as Blood Raven. It is in their blood after all.


macole: Oh bless your heart dear. smile.gif









The Oakland Mall sign

The Oakland Mall from the air

John R Road from the air

The lair is somewhere around here

Another view

The Greenwood's house


The Satanic Temple (The guy who wrote this was on Monstertalk recently to talk about the Satanic Temple)




Chapter 5.15 - Crystal Death

"You're sure you don't need any help?" January stared at Blood Raven's face. Her red hair formed a scarlet halo about her features, which lit up Sága's screen on January's inner forearm. "I can be there in a few minutes."

"The Nazis have been dealt with, at least for now," Blood Raven replied. January could see a crowd of people behind the red and black-clad superheroine. It looked like she was not simply watching over the festival at Hart Plaza, but in it. "I shall remain here on my original mission. You should continue with your own investigation."

"Wow, is that Stormcrow?" one of the faces in the crowd behind Blood Raven gaped.

"That is Stormcrow!" another insisted. "Awesome! Are you dating?"

"They can see me?" January said, without even realizing it.

"I am in possession of a holographic display," Blood Raven noted. "Wait, I shall close it down to audio only."

"No, that's ok, let people see me," January insisted. As much as she loved her new wrist-mounted computer, a hologram would be really cool too. She was tempted to start reciting Princess Leia's lines from A New Hope. "Are you actually at the festival?"

"I am," Blood Raven declared. "I am having fun."

"Who are you?" January stifled the urge to laugh out loud, "and what have you done with the real Blood Raven?"

"I shall have you know that I was considered the very spirit of liveliness and conviviality at Mrs. Gibson's School for Proper Young Girls," Blood Raven insisted. "I have also been reminded that I could be nicer to people."

January felt herself blush. She hoped her mask would hide it. Instead she went on.

"Well, tell everyone that I wish I could be there!" she said perkily. "Maybe next year we can go without the added fuss of 'work'."

"I shall do so," Blood Raven said before signing off.

January turned off the link, and slid shut the armored plate that protected Sága's touchscreen when it was not in use. She lifted her eyes, and gazed about her. She was crouched atop the tall sign for the Oakland Mall, which rose up on the corner of 14 Mile and John R Road. Cars streamed past her on John R, while those waiting at the red light on 14 Mile had rolled down their windows to wave at her.

January took a moment to wave back. Then she leaped into the sky. She thrust her arms out to either side, and willed them to form into wings. With a series of powerful flaps, she rose higher into the sky, and circled around the parking lot of the mall.

The massive conglomeration of buildings and its surrounding parking lots took up nearly a quarter mile of real estate. It was nestled between John R Road to the east, I-75 to the west, and 14 Mile to the south. From above, January could see that the central structure was not a single building, but rather was several buildings all linked together. The Sears, Macy's, and JC Penny sections stood out most plainly from the central area.

Smaller businesses rose from the edges of the parking lot, including a donut shop, various restaurants, and of course a phone store. Even more shops and fast food places rose up across the street from it on the other side of John R. Likewise, a car lot spread out across the other side of 14 Mile, along with still more stores, and even a movie theater.

January imagined that in a thousand years, archaeologists might dig it all up and assume this was a massive temple complex dedicated to worshipping Capitalism. They would not be wrong.

"Did I hear what I thought I did?" Gadget said in her ear. "Is the Blood Raven actually chilling at Motor City Pride? You must be rubbing off on her."

"We're both rubbing off on each other," January frowned. "It must be Freaky Friday. She's kicking it with the Queer community, and I'm antagonizing the cops."

"Not to mention being shot down in flames by the hot sniper," Gadget remarked dryly.

"Yeah well, at least that might still go somewhere," January mused. "I did get her number. Maybe we can work with her at least."

"That's not what the rest of the world thinks," Gadget noted. "It's all over social media already, 'Stormcrow burned so hard by cop!'"

"Well, I guess that's good. At least her boss won't know we have a line of communication, yet." January frowned anyway. She had to admit, even if just to herself, it still did sting to know that people thought she had been rejected in public. She knew that it had just been a sham, and a clever one at that. But no one liked looking like a loser. Even with a cape.

Of course it was nothing compared to steady stream of invective she had been receiving from certain parts of the internet since that gas station attendant had repeated her statement that she was a lesbian. But homophobia was like gravity, or taxes: an inescapable part of ordinary life. She did not mind people knowing she was a lesbian. She had been Out so long in her real life, that it was honestly strange not being so in her cape life. She was getting tired of people constantly asking about it. Maybe Avery did have a point, and she should come right out and say something publically?

"Ok, I've got an address for ThunderRhino666," Gadget said with some satisfaction. "I'm sending it to you now."

"Madison Heights," January ruminated, "must be near the dojo."

She banked to the south, and followed John R Road. More businesses and parking lots slid by under her stomach. She knew that she was in Madison Heights from the moment that she crossed 14 Mile Road, but where?

"Gadget, I was thinking…" she mused out loud.

"Uh oh, this can't be good," he remarked dryly.

She stuck her tongue out at him, then realized that he could not see the act of defiance. Instead she went on as if he had said nothing even slightly burning.

"Maybe in Sága 2.0 you could build in some sort of heads up display, that could put in an overlay of the street names. Maybe you could tie it into Googol Maps or something."

"Yeah, yeah, I think I could do that," Gadget replied seriously. "I could upgrade the lenses that snap over your eyes with the breath mask. That's totally doable."

"Good. But for now you are going to have to guide me in," she said. "Because I can barely tell what street is what from up here."

"Oh snap, the world does look a lot different from up there doesn't it?" Gadget noted. January imagined that he was looking through the video feed from her helmet now. What he had said was an understatement. Signs were impossible to read from hundreds of feet up. Even buildings looked completely different when you were staring down at their roofs. Thankfully this neighborhood was near home, one that she had driven through many times. If it had been on the West Side, she would have been completely lost.

Following Gadget's cues, she continued south for several miles, and in minutes crossed 11 Mile Road. She soared directly over Adin's martial arts dojo. After it came the Madison Heights Fire Department, a building January was able to pick out by its reddish-brown roof. On the other side of the street was Wilkinson Middle School. A large parking lot lay out in front of the school, and the wide expanse of a baseball diamond sprawled out to the south of it.

At Gadget's directions, she banked slightly left over the school and floated down to earth within the grassy expanse of its sports field. A subdivision of pedestrian homes sprawled out directly south of the field. The neighborhood was bordered by a small chain of businesses to the right, which lined John R Road.

The side street that was right in front of January dead-ended at January's feet. She easily hopped over the steel barrier that separated it from the field, and walked into the subdivision. She found the house Gadget had indicated with ease. It was the first one on her right, literally right next to the empty field.

She absentmindedly wondered if they suffered from many broken windows from strong-armed baseball players. She noted a large tree at the back of the house, which would have absorbed most home runs to right field. Then again, she really was not sure just how far a middle-schooler might be able to hit the ball. So maybe they were out of the reach of aspiring Babe Ruths.

With a single leap she landed gently on the roof. She paused to engage the new video camouflage unit that Gadget had built into Sága. Then she scampered across and dropped into the back yard. There was a small, detached garage set back from the house, and little else back there. She did not see any one looking out the windows of the house, so she immediately went to the garage. She found it locked, but Gadget's home-made electric lockpicker settled that. It buzzed as it vibrated the lock's pins open. She was inside in seconds, and shut the door behind her.

Snooping about within the garage yielded little. An aging Oldsmobile took up one side of the small structure. The rest was cluttered with the usual bric-a-brac: a lawnmower, snow-blower, some tools, and the like. Certainly nothing one might use to brew up a deadly meta-creating drug. Years of playing role-playing games taught January to look for secret panels. But either because her stealth skill was too low, or she lacked the bonus elves get to spot secret doors, she found nothing.

"The garage is a bust," she told Gadget. "How are things on your end?"

"I'm in their router," Gadget said. "I didn't even have to hack it. Their Wi-Fi is unencrypted, and it's still set to the default login and password. I can see several mac addresses attached to it. Looks like one's a phone, and three are PCs. One of the PCs is heavily encrypted. I can't get into it. The other computers are wide open, and guess who has a World of Guncraft account on one?"

"ThunderRhino," January said.

"666," Gadget added, "Don't forget that, it's the best part."

"Can you get into their security system?" January asked. She walked to the back door, and waited for Gadget.

"Nada," he replied. "They don't have one, nothing for me to snoop into."

"Ok, I guess we do this old school," January said. She fished out the lockpicker again, but was chagrined to discover that the back door was already unlocked. She crept inside as quietly as she could. Only to be betrayed by a loud squeak of the door hinges, She froze instantly, and listened intently for the sound of approaching footsteps.

She heard nothing but the noise of a television somewhere deeper in the house. After waiting long moments, she shut the door behind her slowly, trying to avoid a repeat of the same noisy hinges. They still squawked, but not as loudly this time. She made a note to herself to start carrying spray grease for things like that in the future.

She found herself on a small landing between the basement and the kitchen. She chose the kitchen first, quickly darting her head around the corner to make sure the coast was clear. It was empty. Taking her time, she slowly stepped through the small space, and its adjoining dining room. Peeking her head around the next corner, she found the living room.

It was dominated by a giant TV set, whose volume was really, really loud. That explained why no one had heard the back door. Ensconced in a soft lounge chair and a long couch were a pair of old white folks: silver hair, glasses, the works. Both stared in rapture at the rerun of NCIS that lit the television screen.

"Looks like this is Wanda and Bruce Greenwood," Gadget said. "Both retired. Bruce is a Vietnam War veteran. Props to the old guy. Wanda was an admin in the public school system. Nothing much else on them."

"Are you sure you got the right house?" January breathed. Given how loud the TV was, she doubted that she could be heard by the owners, especially given their seventy-year old ears. "This hardly looks like a pair of criminal masterminds, let alone someone who would call themselves ThunderRhino."

"666," Gadget reiterated.

"You need to slow your roll on that," January noted as she drifted back through the kitchen to the basement. "I don't think they're Satanists either. Some of the nicest people I know online are from the Satanic Temple."

"It's pretty sad when the Satanists are the ones who believe in benevolence and compassion…" Gadget said. "But I don't think our Rhino is one of those types."

January descended into the basement. She did not turn on the light. Instead she pushed a few buttons on her wrist-mounted computer, and a pair of lenses slid over her eyes. The darkened room immediately leaped into bright reality as the night vision turned on. She poked around, and again looked for secret panels. But as before, there was nothing to discover but ordinary suburban junk.

"Well, I can go back upstairs and try the bedrooms," January said.

She ascended the stairs and did just that. Rather than trying to sneak through the living room, she went back into the yard behind the house, and found a convenient window. Thankfully it was summer, so all of them were open. It was child's play to pop out the screen and hop through. Once again however, the rest of the house yielded no evidence of evil-doing. The most interesting find was a Compaq computer that looked older than she was, alongside a much newer wireless router. Just to be sure she started up the PC and looked through the hard drive. But there seemed to be little more than a bunch of recipes and pictures of grandkids on it.

"This is a bust," January said. "These people are no more Death Dealers than the last ones in Sterling Heights."


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Acadian
post Aug 23 2020, 01:17 AM
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"I shall have you know that I was considered the very spirit of liveliness and conviviality at Mrs. Gibson's School for Proper Young Girls," Blood Raven insisted. "I have also been reminded that I could be nicer to people."
- - Blood Raven is developing – or more likely, now displaying – a delightfully witty and tongue in cheek sense of humor. As wonderful as that above passage is, the one below is just as clever:
"We're both rubbing off on each other," January frowned. "It must be Freaky Friday. She's kicking it with the Queer community, and I'm antagonizing the cops."

Looking straight down is something a superhero can do in flight. I used to have to roll inverted to do that. Seriously though, it helps to keep your vision out and down instead of mostly down – much easier to navigate and recognized landmarks. I do feel for Gadget though as there is not only the altitude but movement of Stromcrow’s head as she looks around.

‘Years of playing role-playing games taught January to look for secret panels. But either because her stealth skill was too low, or she lacked the bonus elves get to spot secret doors, she found nothing.‘
- -Haha! She certainly came through with her night eye spell though. wink.gif

I think it would be a hoot if Gadget used his technomancy to change ThunderRhino666's callsign to something like RainbowThumperBunnyOne. tongue.gif

Wow, a second strike. Hopefully the next place they look will yield some answers.


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Renee
post Aug 24 2020, 06:46 PM
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Yes, I was thinking of Princess Leia reciting her message from R2D2 (I think) as soon as that holograph was mentioned.

QUOTE
"I shall have you know that I was considered the very spirit of liveliness and conviviality at Mrs. Gibson's School for Proper Young Girls,"


I agree with Acadian, this line is priceless. smile.gif

Wow, Jan is really soaking in the limelight this time. I thought this Oakland Mall sign was 50 feet in the air or something. But she's right above traffic.

Aw, she's upset about the social media stuff. About getting turned town by that sniper cop. Even though that's not what actually happened. Still feel bad for her, anyway.

QUOTE
Good. But for now you are going to have to guide me in," she said. "Because I can barely tell what street is what from up here."

"Oh snap, the world does look a lot different from up there doesn't it?" Gadget noted


laugh.gif Poor Gadget. laugh.gif His work is never done.

Un oh. Breaking 'n' entering... this is intense.
...and the back door is unlocked. Is this a trap?

Hmm.


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SubRosa
post Aug 29 2020, 09:56 AM
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Acadian: Blood Raven is so firmly ensconced in my mind that her line about conviviality at Mrs. Gibson's school is one that just jumped off my keyboard. The same with January's Freaky Friday comment.

I have never understood how you people can land airplanes when you cannot see the ground you are landing on! I remember trying one of those WW2 flight sims a few years ago, and tried flying a Japanese Val attacking Pearl Harbor. It was insanely difficult, since the cockpit obscured everything beneath me. Like you said, I had to roll or at least bank to see what was beneath me. I literally could not even hit an anchored battleship.

I did not want the Death Dealer to be easy to find. Hence the red herrings. But real criminals are not masterminds, as much as the media loves to pretend they are to create drama and get ratings. Eventually the Death Dealer's fate will be sealed by the unreliability of his lackeys.


Renee: Jan is becoming more and more comfortable with being around people while she is caping. Next chapter will have several major evolutions in that. It is not accidental. She has a real motive to it, as will be explained near the end of this chapter.

It always hurts to be burned. Even when it was fake.

No, no trap, so you can tell Admiral Ackbar to go away.













Some repeat pics:
The lair is somewhere around here

Another view

The Greenwood's house

Plus some new ones:

Real Meth Lab 01

Real Meth Lab 02



Chapter 5.16 - Crystal Death

"You have to be close," Gadget insisted. "That is definitely our guy's computer connected to the Wi-Fi. He must be stealing it from someplace close. The range is only a few hundred feet at best. Probably a lot less, since it must be going through walls."

January went back out the window and into the yard once more. She hopped up on the roof of the garage and took another look around. A line of houses stretched away to the south down either side of the suburban street. To the east were still more side streets and homes, while the empty baseball field lay to the north.

She turned around and looked west. There she saw the back of a strip mall that faced John R Road. A little wall blocked off the line of small businesses from the Greenwood's backyard. Straight ahead was what looked like an empty building. At least there were no signs up around it. But there was a black SUV parked in the very back corner of the lot.

There was nothing but the empty field of the middle school to the right of the building. To the left of it was a print shop with a single car parked behind it. Farther on there was a plumbing company with a dozen vans parked in its expansive lot, and beyond that a small used car lot.

"Maybe one of these…" January mused. She took a good look at the license plates of the cars in the back lot, so Gadget would have them on video. Then a single leap took her across the lot and onto the roof of the print shop. Her nose was immediately assaulted by a sharp odor, and she involuntarily made a face. It did not smell like hot ink on paper. Instead, it smelled more like urine, and things even less-savory.

"There's a smell here," January said. She stalked around the roof, trying to get a better sense of exactly where the odor emanated from. If only she had White Fell with her. Rumor had it that the werewolf from the Sentinels in Chicago had a sense of smell so heightened that she could track individual people from miles away. She could sniff out the source in no time at all.

But even though January was no lycanthrope, she gradually realized that the odor grew stronger the more she moved toward the empty baseball field. She stepped from the roof of the print shop to the empty building next door. There was no alley between them. They were literally so close together that there was barely an inch of space betwixt the two. She was looking at the field when Gadget asked her to stop, and look back.

She turned her gaze back to where it had been a moment before, at a patch of burned grass near the driveway that led behind the shops.

"Someone's been dumping chemicals," Gadget noted, "and that smell, those are classic signs of a drug lab."

She found an air vent leading down into the abandoned building and took a whiff. She immediately regretted it. The fumes spiked into her lungs like tiny icicles, and turned her stomach. She coughed as she turned away, and gasped for fresher air.

"This has got to be it," she wheezed.

She hopped down, and found that the windows in the back of the building were all covered over with blinds. There was a single pedestrian door, which she tried gently, and found locked. She held off using the pick on it. She was not sure if she really wanted to go in just yet. Instead she laid her ear to the door. She definitely heard something from within. Loud noises, like from a television show, or a video game.

"I think the Rhino is home," January said. "I'm not sure if I should go in there or not. If they are the bad guys, I'd rather go in with the cops. So there's no loopholes a defense attorney can use to get them off. But I don't want to bust in on more innocent people if I am wrong."

"Come back to the cave," Gadget said. "I've got some toys that can help us get the skinny on these mugs."

"Have you been watching those old Edward G Robinson movies again?"

"I plead the Fifth your honor," Gadget laughed.

Her flight back to the Gadget Cave took just a few minutes, given how close the Death Dealer's lair was. Sneaking into the back of the house was a little trickier. She made sure that her video camouflage was still on, just in case someone had a porch camera nearby. January had to dodge his mother as she went in the back door, and leap down the stairs and roll to one side to avoid being seen. She could have done her quick change and just walked in. But she had nothing to change into. She had left her street clothes behind at the Witch House.

She made another note to herself, to leave some clothes stashed in Gadget's backyard, or on the roof.

Once safely in the cave, Gadget gave her a handful of tools, which she secreted into her utility belt. He also had some more information for her, from his investigation of the plates of the cars in the lot, but nothing conclusive. He just had a list of names and home addresses. So far none had a criminal record that he could find.

January tried to sneak back upstairs and out the back door. But now his mother was firmly ensconced in the kitchen. She just had to pick this one day to actually be home. That obliged January to go back down the stairs, and sneak out of the little basement windows set down against the outside curb. She thanked her girlish figure for the ability to squeeze through.

Back in the sky once more, she prompted Sága to tune into Worldwide Network News to pass the time it would take for her to fly back to the suspected drug lab. Her ears were immediately assailed by Gilda Gadfly's fulsome voice.

"You saw it here first people," the reporter declared bombastically, "everyone's favorite maybe lesbian, maybe bi, superhero Stormcrow was totally shut down by a member of the Michigan State Police. Ouch! Do you feel the burn? The Crowgirl is going to need a fire engine to put out those flames!"

January shook her head. Only she could be rejected on national TV and radio, without even trying to hook up in the first place!

She turned it off and flew the rest of the way in silence. Once she had returned, she dropped down on top of the roof of the suspected super drug lair. She pulled out Gadget's new tools: a drill, a glasscutter with attached suction cup, and a fiber optic endoscope. She picked up the drill and considered the roof. Going through the ceiling was bound to make noise. But given the Rhino's gaming habit, would anyone hear it?

"You know, I'm not really made for this man-stuff," she mused. "Next you'll be wanting me to put up drywall, or retile your bathroom floor."

"Only if I want crowtiles," Gadget said.

January put down the drill, and instead thought about the glass cutter. A minute later she had tied her rappelling line around her waist, and anchored the other end to the roof via Gadget's handy molecular adhesion wave. She had not used the line since her first night as a cape, back at the hotel in Southfield. At least this way Gadget was getting his money's worth from it.

She suspended herself upside down from the roof, and hung in front of one of the small windows in the back wall. Using the cutter, she gingerly sliced a round hole through the pane of glass, and popped it out with the attached suction cup. She poked the fiber optic endoscope through the opening a moment later, and nudged the camera in the tip past the blinds. Its other end was already attached to Sága on January's wrist.

She brought up the video, and whistled softly at what she saw revealed before her. The large, cement-floored room within was dominated by numerous tables loaded with a plethora of bottles, flasks, jars, kegs, and jugs. But it was not the classic mad scientist lab from a horror movie. That would have been too neat and organized. This was a haphazard mess. There were pop bottles filled with mysterious fluids, cans and jugs of industrial cleaners, coffee makers, pvc tubes trailing into buckets, even a propane tank. It was a nightmare of chemical engineering.

"That sure looks like a meth lab to me," Gadget murmured.

Set to one side of the truly insane science mess was a plain desk with a computer that held three monitors. Sitting in front of it was a balding man with pasty skin and wearing glasses. The only hairs he possessed squatted upon his upper lip like a frightened caterpillar. He squinted at the screens, and cautiously clicked here and there. January could not see all of his monitors, but those that were visible were filled with graphs and tree-like chains of linked chemical symbols. Papers scattered both the desk and the floor all around him, and a printer loomed on a stand nearby.

To the other side of the room was a second desk. This one had a single PC and monitor. Sitting in front of it was another middle-aged man. This one sported a ponytail, and wore his glasses pushed up on his forehead. His skin was bronzed, as if from many hours in the sun. What looked like a two-day old stubble dirtied his chin, and gaudy gold jewelry graced his fingers and neck. She could not see his screen, but from the way he violently jerked his head and body this way and that, he was clearly getting much too involved in whatever he was doing.

"That has to be ThunderRhino," January noted, "666 and all."

"Ah, Ha!" Gadget crowed. "I've got a name for the bald guy. That's Joshua Bleaker, he owns the Lincoln Navigator in the lot. My guess is that he's the brains of the operation. Rhino must be his Igor."

January pulled her fiber optic camera out of the window, and climbed back up on to the roof. She put away her toys, and called up the sniper from the Emergency Response Team.

"Yeah, it's Nyah," the other woman answered.

"Hi Nyah," January reflexively said in her perky phone voice. She winced inwardly. She was supposed to be working on sounding more professional when she was in cape-mode. Clearly, she needed more work. "This is Stormcrow. How would you like to arrest the Death Dealer?"

"You should really be talking to my lieutenant instead of me," the sniper responded.

"Ok, I can just call the Madison Heights police instead," January said. "Maybe they won't mind making the arrest with me."

"Okay, okay, I'm on the way," Nyah relented. "Just slide me the deets, and I'll be there."

January texted her the address of the old folks house behind the drug lab. Given that the Death Dealer and his Rhino accomplice were stealing their Wi-Fi, it was only fair to coordinate their demise from the same place. Before she hung up, she also asked to have her boss start the work on a warrant.


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Acadian
post Aug 29 2020, 08:03 PM
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Forgive me for not knowing or recalling but may I assume the Sentinel is another cape who has a werewolf named White Fell?

A utility belt to secret new and hopefully enchanted gizmos into! Sounds almost as handy as having a mage pouch at one’s waist. wink.gif

’She thanked her girlish figure for the ability to squeeze through.’
Being small is often a disadvantage but does sometimes have its perks. . . .

Gilda Gadfly – grrrr!

Some excellent, even Mission Impossible quality work there as Stormcrow and Gadget locate the smelly lair of the Death Dealer.

Oh this will be interesting to see how the take down goes!


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Renee
post Aug 30 2020, 04:01 PM
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QUOTE
It always hurts to be burned. Even when it was fake.

No, no trap, so you can tell Admiral Ackbar to go away


Absolutely it hurts to be burned.

Who is Admiral Ackbar? I just google'd and that name is from Star Wars? Last SW movie I watched was Empire Strikes Back, and that was in the '80s. Maybe Ackbar was in this movie, but if so, I don't remember. I know what you're saying, though. No trap.

By the way, I get sort of worked up (excited) as I read these stories, and my comments can be over-the-top sometimes. It's like I'm watching some show or movie, and even my daughter tells me "Shut up!" sometimes. So I'll try to tone it down.

Bleagh. She smells cat urine. That's some old-school biker meth! I have heard modern meth (Walter White / Breaking Bad stuff) does not smell like this any more. Has something to do with the chemicals they use to distill the drug, or purify it, or whatever.

Man, these crystal death folks aren't being too discreet, are they? indifferent.gif Yes, I agree with not going in there by herself. Heck, they could have cameras. Maybe they already know she's out there. Then again, they don't seem to be that smart, if they're literally just dumping chemicals in their back yard. Sounds like a fly-by-night operation, and they're just in it for the quick cash.

She's using her perky phone voice again!

Looks like crystal death might soon die a quick death in Michigan. Is meth a big thing in MI? It is not in Maryland, at least I never hear bout it. Very popular on the west coast, though.

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SubRosa
post Sep 5 2020, 08:25 PM
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Acadian: The Sentinels are a superhero team based in Chicago. White Fell is one of their members. I went back and reworded that passage so it was less confusing.

January would love a purse of holding! She could keep her armor in it all the time. But she has other ways of getting what she needs.

While Gilda has been generally positive in her reporting, there is no way that a gossip columnist like her would miss out on covering so public of a failed romantic liaison.

The take down will take a few episodes, but it will not be the end of our story.



Renee: Admiral Ackbar was introduced in Return of the Jedi. He is famous in Star Wars fandom for a certain line of his in the movie, concerning traps.

Feel free to get worked up! I think that is great. It is like when I am watching a Horror movie and I yell at the TV because they are doing something stupid, like going in the basement, or splitting up, or leaving the gun on the windowsill.

The cat pee smell is from ammonia, which as far as I know is still an integral component to making meth.

It is definitely a fly by night operation. It is what happens when you don't have a company or wealthy investors backing you. But it is not for the quick cash. They are only releasing small amounts at a time, so they can observe the effects. They are making metahumans. If they succeed, it would be world-changing.

January just cannot escape her perky phone voice. It is part of her nature.

Heroin seems to be the #1 illegal drug in Michigan. I guess the classics never do go out of style. Meth comes in second, and it seems to mainly in the rural areas, especially Up North. So far as I know, it is not in the inner city at all, or only just barely.






William Duquesne (RL Bill Duke)


Chapter 5.17 - Crystal Death

A red Buick Lacrosse came down the suburban street a half hour later. It rolled slowly along, paused at the end of the road, then turned and came to a full stop in front of the old people's house. January watched it the entire time from the branches of a tree high overhead. Once she was sure that it was the sniper driving the car, she dropped down to the ground and walked over.

She wanted to say something incredibly clever and witty when she stepped up to the car. Instead she could only blurt out a simple "Hi," when the woman opened the side door and motioned her to get inside. Now that she was not in her body armor and helmet, Nyah was not hard to look at. Not hard at all.

Her straightened hair was combed over to one side, with a line of thin braids crossing the other side of her head. Her face was heart shaped, her eyes soft amber, and her lips as inviting as rose petals. She wore a fitted top and skinny jeans that left little to the imagination, and right at that moment, January found that she could imagine quite a bit.

Another goddess, January mused as she tried to act professional. How many could there be!

She tried not to stare, and instead plunged into the full story of how she and Gadget had tracked down the Death Dealer to the lair behind the Greenwood's house. She even twisted her arm around and brought up Sága, to show her the video she had recorded of the chemical lab.

"You know, I want to help you," the sniper explained. "But I take the shots, I don't call them. Lieutenant Hunter is the one you really need to talk to."

"I tried that," January frowned, "and all I got were homophobic slurs for my trouble."

"Look, we aren't all like that," Nyah insisted. "Some of us, well, we appreciate a cape out there who is willing to talk to us, at least some times."

"I'm sorry about how things happened back at Mills house." January resisted biting her lip at the admission. "I let your boss get under my skin. I should be better than that. Goddess knows I should be used to it by now. I'm trying to play nice. The less I deal with him, the less likely I am to punch him in the face."

"So it's true then, you're a lesbian?" Nyah asked. Then she held up a hand. "You know what, that is no one's business. I did not say that."

"I am," January said anyway "and I'm transgendered too,"

The sniper's eyes goggled at the last. She made no pretense about staring down at January's crotch, then up to her chest, and finally set her gaze back to her eyes.

"Damn," she swore quietly as she glanced back down again, "what do you, like crank that thing back? I mean that outfit shows everything you got, and I mean everything. I never would have guessed you've got that!"

"I wear a gaff." January tried not to blush, and was glad for the mask that covered her features. When it was clear that the other woman did not know what that was, she went on. "It's a kind of underwear. It helps with tucking up."

"That sounds…. uncomfortable," Nyah said, "don't that hurt?"

January glanced down at the other woman's shoes, which were firmly ensconced atop five inch heels. "I could ask the same about those."

"Touché," Nyah laughed. "No one ever said being a girl was for the faint of heart."

"No kidding," January mused. "I never would have figured out the whole makeup thing without MeTube videos. I remember when I tried to dye my hair. Ugh."

"What happened, chemical burns on your scalp?" Nyah looked at the long blond ponytail that fell from the back of January's cowl. "Hair relaxer can be like napalm sometimes."

"No," January said. She had never even considered what using relaxer would do to African hair, aside from making it straight of course. Maybe being a goddess was not as easy as it looked. "It came out bright fuchsia! It did not help my popularity in high school…"

The other woman was still laughing when the rest of her team pulled up in their giant armored vehicle. They both got out of the car, and after the SWAT troopers filed out, Nyah went inside the armored monstrosity to change into her body armor. January made an effort to be nice as the rest of the troops milled around outside. She did not say a word to Lieutenant Hunter, and he returned the favor by doing no more than glare in her direction.

A Tesla pulled up a few minutes later. A tired-looking man in a blue suit got out. His head was shaved completely bare, and he wore a pair of large round glasses. His skin was a deep shade of umber, and January imagined he might be anywhere from 60 to 60,000 years old from the lines that creased his face and hands. His only forms of adornment were a class ring on one finger, and a US flag pin attached to his lapel. January noted that the state troopers all stood straighter the moment he arrived, and made an effort to look busy, even though there was nothing for them to do yet.

"This looks like some sort of boss man," Gadget voice rang out in her ear. "I'll bet bitcoin to bananas he's a lawyer."

"Good evening Ms. Stormcrow," the new arrival said as he stretched out a hand to January. She took it, and discovered that he had a handshake that was a lot firmer than his somewhat slack-looking frame would have suggested. She wondered if he might have been an athlete when he was younger.

"My name is William Duquesne," he said. "I am one of the deputies of the state attorney general. Perhaps we could speak in private?"

Gadget whistled in her ear. January fought the urge to tense up. This could either be very good, or very bad. There was only one way to find out.

She followed him back to his car, and once again sat in a passenger's seat. Nyah's Lacrosse had been nice. She was surprised to find that the Tesla was much less grand inside. The interior was spacious, but had a very minimalist approach to everything. It was sleek, simple, and unobtrusive, except for the massive display screen in the center of the dashboard. That was practically a television set.

"I am hoping we can get off to a better start than I did with your lieutenant in Sterling Heights," January started. Once again, she repeated the apology she had made to Nyah. "I am sorry that things went badly there. I lost my temper. That shouldn't have happened. I should be better than that. It is not how I want my relationship with the police, or the state government, to be."

"First we too, would like to apologize for any comments Lieutenant Hunter may have made that might have been insensitive." The smooth tone that Duquesne used suggested that he had made such apologies before. Or at least that he was so professional a speaker that he could say anything and make it seem calm and sincere. January briefly wanted to hear him recite the lyrics to a K-Pop song… "Likewise, that is not a reflection of the values of the State of Michigan, nor our police force. I have spoken with the Lieutenant. It will not happen again."

"Ok, now that we've both established that we're really nice people, what can I do for you counselor?" January said plainly.

"Well that is the question," he replied. "The attorney general, and the governor, have been keenly interested in you ever since the encounter you had with Lighthammer in Southfield, and then with the diamond smuggler in Flint the next day. Estimates say you saved the lives of fifty people at the Flying Dutchman fire, and perhaps many more from that… giant spider… last week in Ferndale. Most impressive."

January could not help but to smile, and sit up a little straighter at the praise. She was not used to hearing that from an authority figure.

"But when they see you cavorting about the skies above the Packard Plant with Lighthammer, well that makes my superiors wonder. Your very close relationship with Blood Raven does not reassure them either."

January was not smiling any more. She chose her words carefully when she responded. Once again, she fell back to what she had learned about expressing herself in the years of therapy that had followed her attempted suicide.

"Lighthammer is not my enemy," January began. "That is not saying that he is my friend, or my partner. But the fact is we do have a relationship, one that benefits us both. He can help me, and I am willing to accept that help because I think in the long run, it is beneficial to everyone."

"I know you people don't like Blood Raven very much," January went on. "I know you have your reasons, and I am not saying they are all invalid. She likewise has her reasons for how she feels too. But the fact is, I have a lot to learn from her, and she is my friend, and that will never change."

"If that makes it impossible for you to work with me, then I accept that," January declared. "But I hope not. All of us picking sides and remaining entrenched in adversarial positions is not going to help anyone. I think that reaching out to people will. We need to forge alliances, and all work together, even with people we might not personally like. Because it isn't about making an arrest, or being first, or taking the credit. It is about helping people, about saving lives, and preventing tragedies. That is all I care about. That is my mission statement."

"This whole mess with Crystal Death never should have went this far," January insisted. "If you and Blood Raven had been working together, he would have been stopped weeks ago."

"Just how is it that you learned of this case," Duquesne probed. "There has been little about it in the news."

"Superpowers remember," January tapped a finger to her temple. "It isn't all about punching people, or shooting lightning bolts."

"So it doesn't have anything to do with Trooper Emilia Mercado?" he questioned. "She's not the one who tipped you off about this?"

January's heart almost stopped at the mention of Emilia's name. If Duquesne knew the truth, Emilia could go to prison. She could not let that happen.

"I wish she had," January said. She called upon Earth, to not only figuratively, but literally, set her face in stone. She was not going to give away any tells that she was obfuscating the truth. "This would have been over a lot sooner. We could have saved people's lives from this drug. This is what I mean, about reaching out. If I had someone like you, or like Mercado, that I could stay in close contact with, we could stop these threats before they spin out of control."

"But you and Mercado are friends?" Duquesne pressed.

"Ever since Flint, I found that we work well together," January said with complete honesty. "We have the same goals. We want to do what is right, and protect people. That's why I reached out to her for help on the Flying Dutchman case. I trust her, a whole lot more than I do Lieutenant Hunter over there. Like I said, if she and I had been working on this case together, it would have been over with a long time ago."

"That may well be so," Duquesne admitted. "The attorney general has begun to feel that way. So do I. I believe you could be a great help to our state. You have been already."

"So does that mean you are offering me full legal empowerment?" January practically held her breath waiting for his response. It was everything that she had hoped for since she had first put on her cape.

"No," Duquesne said, "not yet at least. That can only come from the AG, and she will not do it without the governor's support. For now, we would like to keep our relationship… unofficial."

"So you aren't going to give me a badge," January said, "but you are willing to let me go through that door first, and be the first one to get shot."

"That sums it up," the old man smiled.

"How can a girl say no to that?"


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Acadian
post Sep 6 2020, 05:07 PM
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Learning how to put make up on watching MeTube videos! wink.gif

So what’d you and Nyah talk about? Oh, you know, the usual girl things. . . hair, shoes. . . crotches. laugh.gif

Duquesne is interesting. I like how you put some time into developing him. He comes across as smooth, experienced and with a welcome sense of dry humor. Whether he plays a bigger role in the story is not so important but he was fun to read in this scene.

I had to laugh at January's answer to Duquesne’s question about how she knew about the Crystal Death situation. ‘Superpowers, remember.’ The answer in another time/place would be ‘Magicka, silly.’ tongue.gif

It looks like Jan’s efforts to reach out to the police are paying off. She’s getting a small collection of folks she can deal with now and is building some mutual trust.


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SubRosa
post Sep 7 2020, 04:37 AM
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Forgot to put up a pic of William Duquesne (Bill Duke from his role in Black Lightning)


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Acadian
post Sep 7 2020, 11:57 AM
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QUOTE(SubRosa @ Sep 6 2020, 08:37 PM) *
Forgot to put up a pic of William Duquesne (Bill Duke from his role in Black Lightning)

To the better that way I figure. I read the story and formed my own impression based only upon Jan's description. Very neat to see that the pic looks just like I imagined him!


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Renee
post Sep 8 2020, 03:29 PM
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Phew, that's a relief. Sometimes I worry about being annoying, or something.

QUOTE
But it is not for the quick cash. They are only releasing small amounts at a time, so they can observe the effects. They are making metahumans. If they succeed, it would be world-changing.


Ah, I see. Interesting.

Yes, heroin is also popular in Baltimore, and its surrounding counties. Yuck. I have a couple acquaintances who struggle with smack. Cocaine and crack are probably #2. I am not including pot of course, that's halfway to being legal. I think the virus stuff has slowed the legal process down, there. Otherwise, marijuana would be easily #1.


I like that... she wants to say something witty or outstanding, but can only manage "Hi." smile.gif

Whoa, the sniper's in skinny jeans. *gulp* I hear her voice as Midwest accent. Not Moira Brown-ish, but maybe halfway there, and not as piercing as Moira's. I'm kinda hoping Jan will get hot under the collar at some point.

Off-topic here, but yesterday Linda Hand met a woman in Camp McCarran who is clearly lesbian. She said something about she 'wants to get in her pants' or something. Her name is ... damn. Can't remember. The moment surprised me (in a good way). No wonder people sometimes say New Vegas has some more complex undercurrents than FO3, these undercurrents aren't just with quests and consequences!

QUOTE
January briefly wanted to hear him recite the lyrics to a K-Pop song…


laugh.gif

I like Jan's 'mission statement' that is very well thought and worded.

Hmm. Duquesne is making me suspicious.



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