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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
post Yesterday, 07:26 AM
Post #701

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From: Between The Worlds

Acadian: I picked a battle in a supermarket for exactly the ignobility of it all, especially the fall through the cans of peas. Every action scene in a supermarket has an obligatory crash through a display of some kind of canned goods. That they were peas - perhaps the most downtrodden of all vegetables - just rubs it in even more.

Isaac finally got to play with his mech. When I wrote the chapter introducing him and his unfinished Numidium, this was always on my mind. He was always going to get to this point.

This is going to get much, much bigger. The battle is still only in the very beginning. The real heavy-hitters (aside from Blood Raven and her Natthrafn) have yet to show up, nor the dozens of other heroes and monsters.

As ever, thanks for finding those nits so that I can fix them.

Renee: If you look back a few posts you will see pictures of the entire island, and where it lays within the rest of the landscape of Detroit and Windsor. It is also on the Stormcrow Map of course, as are all the locations in the story.

Isaac is the guy who built all the junk bots, and Archimedes. He is also the one whom January and Blood Raven got the parts they used to create their Abyssal Summoning early warning poppets.

Isaac built the mech for the best reason. Because he can! laugh.gif Literally, who wouldn't. There are literally real people who have done this IRL. Like this guy. He's not the only one either. I think someone else in Japan is building them for sale.

RaderOfTheLostArk: Needless to say, Isaac was scared to death as he was checking, and rechecking, and re-rechecking everything. That was him trying to find anything to do, in order not to think about he was probably going to get himself killed.

I love that ad! I would totally vote for that guy, even knowing nothing else about him. Democracy in action!

I don't know how I forgot about Liberty Prime. Probably because my neighbor and I watched the Transformers movies in order last summer, so Optimus Prime is still in my mind. "Autobots, Roll Out!"

The production values are going to get a lot higher soon. Much bigger players than Isaac and his 50-foot mech are going to appear soon.

There are going to be a lot of POV shifts. This is the crowning point for the last 10 books. Everything leads to this. So I decided to lean into this and make it truly ginormous. I broke it up into about a dozen or so key points, where something major happens, or simply where I can show what is taking place on each front of the battle. So we can see it from every angle. There was no way to adequately show all that from January's POV. So I switch from character to character for each part of the fight. We will getting future chapters from people like Blackhawk, Lighthammer, Silverlight (whom we have yet to meet), and Blood Raven again.

The Sea Lamprey is one of the things I had in mind when I was describing that monster. Those things are just squicky! The other thing was a giant Decepticon in one of the transformers films (I think the second?), that had a similar giant spinning maw of doom, which almost devoured the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

A conjure woman who doubts, is a conjure woman who fails. So Riven is absolute in her certainty.

WellTemperedClavier: Isaac is a cool character to write, especially in a story with all these youngins. He's a regular guy, mech and robots notwithstanding. I wish there were more places I could fit him into events. So I really wanted to make the most of his appearance here, and make sure he is proper awesome.

The Detroit River is really not much to look at. It is a really narrow strait, only about a half mile or so wide in average I think. But it has 3 Great (and one not so Great) Lakes above it draining their water into it. When it gets compressed into that narrow space it picks up speed and force, and creates unpredictable undertows. Because of all that drainage from the lakes, tons of silt are swept down into the river, making the visibility in the water terrible. It is like thick soup. Because of the silt the bottom is not very deep, only about 40 feet or so at the most. But it is a mire of all that mud, and anything that gets dragged into it is not coming out again, at least not without a crane.

I think the Army Corps of Engineers dredges it on the regular to keep the shipping channel open. Even still, the space navigable by freighters is really narrow. A few years back one lost engine power and drifted sideways. It ran aground, and blocked off the entire shipping channel. No big ships could go up or down the river for days. They were all stacked up in Lake St. Clair until they could get the grounded ship free and going again. (I might use this as a story hook. It sounds like something a team of supers might be able to help with).

Once and awhile crazy people try to swim across it. It is not very wide after all. Sometimes they make it. Sometimes they get caught by Border Patrol. And every so often they drown and get sucked into the mud at the bottom. Ironically there is a beach on Belle Isle. It is shielded from the main force of the river flow by a piece of land that juts out from the island to the north. Which might be why it is safe to swim there.

Vortex has more to do in events to come. In fact, she has a big role to play at the very end. That was always my intent from when I created her. I was always looking forward to her moment in this battle. It is why she has the powers that she does.

The James Scott Memorial Fountain

The James Scott Memorial Fountain is huge

Belle Isle and Downtown Detroit (the main divided highway just left of the Ren Cen is Jefferson Avenue, the main battleground in this episode)

January's Downtown Battleground 01

January's billboard (moved to a new location from RL so it could be featured here)

January's Downtown Battleground 02 - Looking down at the tunnel entrance

January's Downtown Battleground 03 - The Armenian Genocide Memorial (Hart Plaza is across the street behind it)

Book 10.14 - Alliance

"We need people on the bridge," Cray's gruff voice rumbled in January's ear. "The Abyssals are making a push there."

"Is there anywhere they're not making a push?" Lighthammer murmured. The former bomber pilot skimmed in the air over January's head, blasting monsters below with his lasers. Then a tentacle swept up from out of nowhere and wrapped around his waist. It lifted him higher for a moment, then dashed him down to the parking log. Concrete shattered under his armored frame.

January leaped over the heads of a dozen goblins in an attempt to reach him. But another tentacle slammed into her while she was in mid air, and sent her careening backwards. She tumbled head over heels, and only stopped when she hit something hard. Cool water coursed over her back, and she felt stone beneath her.

She looked around, and found herself plastered against the James Scott Memorial Fountain. Near the south-western end of the island, it bordered a huge three-sided pond that sat within the triangular outline of the isle's tip. It was simply gigantic. It was not a single fountain, but rather a vast sea of interconnected basins and water spouts. Made of white stone, the lowest basin spread out over five hundred feet. Within that rose up a wide, two-tiered pedestal. Staring in each of the cardinal directions from this level was the statute of a lion, each spouting water from its mouth. Above that rose up a short, wide tower with a basin of its own, and an even taller spire and bowl rose up from that. From this ultimate height water sprayed over a hundred feet skyward, only to rain back down into the multiple basins below.

January shook her head, and tried to get back to help Lighthammer. But a trio what looked like four-armed trolls were on top of her in no time at all. Samhain gloried in her hand with each limb she hacked away. The raven sword may not have been made for slaying Abyssals in particular - as Blood Raven's other sword Y Ddraig Aur had been - but it certainly stepped up when it was time for creating mayhem.

So too did her wings, which hacked through stony flesh just as easily as they did cinderblocks. Likewise with her fists and feet, which she had long since honed into magical weapons. As Blood Raven had noted before, she had made herself a magical armament since junior high school. She was not really sure that she needed the sword. But it certainly helped.

By the time she had dealt with the Goro impersonators, a new wave of Abyssals was coming in. A glance back to the north showed that Lighthammer had extricated himself with the aid of Gola. Even now the pair winged back and forth across the big parking lot north of the fountain. But it was mostly back. As much as all of them tried to push north, they were fighting against a tidal wave of Abyssal flesh.

Then before her eyes the northern horizon lit up with blue-white fire. Plasma just like that from Gadget's new suit of powered armor streaked across the island there. Everywhere those glowing fingers lanced, Abyssals vaporized. But a glance sideways showed that Gadget stood nearby, fighting a mob of buggane on the ground.

That made her smile. She had been waiting for this for months. She had known that eventually her best friend would be suiting up himself. Now it was finally a reality. He had always been her hero, her rock. He was the one thing in life that she could always count on, no matter what. The rest of the world would finally see that as well.

Lighthammer had been right however. The Abyssals were pushing everywhere, pushing them back. She, Gadget, Lighthammer, Ôkami, and Gola represented nearly the entirely of the Alliance. But they still could not hold them back just here in the south. They tore the monsters to shreds one on one. But they were facing far more than one to one odds. It was more like a hundred to one, or a thousand to one.

Everywhere she looked, the tides of the Abyssals were advancing through sheer weight of numbers. At least that was everywhere but the south-east. The interdimensional monsters did not seem to be too interested in that direction. There was only a thin strip of land between the portal and the river there, and all of it had long since been overrun. But the Abyssals did not appear to be interested in trying to swim the Detroit River to the Canadian shore beyond. They looked to be far more intent upon the nearer American side. That was no surprise. The bridge there was the only way on or off the isle without gills and fins.

Or without wings, January mused as a flock of what looked like two-headed and twin-tailed pterodactyls gouted from the bubbling surface of the portal. If that were not strange enough, they had four wings, like a dragonfly. When one pair of wings rose up, the other swept down, in a constant opposite motion. If she remembered the Bestiary correctly, those were Dídymo Ptérygas, or "Twin Wings" in Greek. She also recalled something about them having penetrating tail stings.

They were followed by a halo of flaming skulls. Yes, there was no other way of describing them. January definitely knew these. They were kanontsistonties, Blood Raven had fought one recently at the Cinco De Mayo parade. That had been before January had joined the team, at the second Abyssal summoning that they knew of. The flaming heads lanced overhead, and headed out over the river. January's eyes followed their course, and saw that it led directly to the heart of Detroit, two miles down the river.

"We've got airborne heading Downtown," January leaped skyward and gave chase. Her wings snapped out and caught the air.

"I'm with you Crowgirl," Gadget's voice was in her ear. His powered armor was a blue light beside her, and left a glowing trail of ions behind him. January raised her sword hand skyward, and swept it down. The sky tore open at her command, and long chain of lightning ripped down among the Abyssals. Two of the pterodactyls were incinerated in mid air, their bodies fading from existence before they could plummet to the river below.

The Abyssals split apart then, looping around to the left and right, while a third group continued straight ahead. January stayed with those going straight. She had to stop them before they reached land. Gadget peeled away to follow those who went to the left, toward Canada. She knew that the final group would thusly be free to do as they willed. But she suspected that they would simply come around to attack her from behind. It was basic air combat after all. She knew, a literal bomber pilot had taught her.

"Stormcrow, you've got bogeys on your six," Cray's voice warned her a moment later. "Lighthammer, Gola, you two fly high cover around the portal. Slow down any more flyers coming out. If they slip though don't pursue them. Gadget and Stormcrow will pick them up. Ôkami, you head to the bridge. Keep your head low, it looks like our junkyard friend is there and he's putting out a lot of fire."

"Got it," Lighthammer's voice came over the comm. "Its zone defense. Me and the raven lady are linebackers, Gadget and the Crow are the safeties."

January didn't know anything about football, but she got the gist of what Lighthammer was saying nonetheless. Then twin bolts of flame gouted past her, closely followed by another pair, and she had other things to think about. A third set of fiery bolts engulfed her legs. But if she could stand up to the salamander at Montserrat, she could take this. She glanced back a moment to see that it was the flying heads. They were literally shooting fire from their empty eye sockets.

It felt so much like a video game that she had the urge to laugh. But this was deadly serious. She ignored her pursuers, and instead poured on the speed to catch her prey.

She did just that over a white band shell that sat next to a small park that lined the shore. She found Samhain a true blessing here. Punching and kicking were not ideal while airborne. But the leaf-shaped Celtic blade hacked Abyssals asunder just as effectively in the air as it did on the ground. She finished off one there, and followed the pack as they dove into a massive red brick parking structure that rose up nine stories in the sky.

They swooped through one of the many horizontal openings that stretched across each floor of the structure. January had to concentrate to follow. Unless she was perfect, her wings would catch either the top or bottom of the brick wall. She darted between with at least a foot to spare in each direction. One of the pterodactyls was not so deft, and its wings caught the top of the window. It spun in mid air, bounced off the ceiling, and then careened across the concrete floor below. Thankfully it was late at night, so the structure was empty. January caught up with it a moment later, and hacked it in two with Samhain before it could regain its bearings.

Then they were through the other side of the parking structure, and out into the open sky once more. The back of a giant billboard came right up in front of January. It towered as tall at the parking structure, and higher than most of the buildings immediately around it. She banked hard to one side to avoid it. But two of the flying heads crashed into her from behind, and pushed her right into the sign.

The next thing she knew, she crashed through the rear of the billboard. Iron shattered and dimpled out underneath her. Then she and the Abyssals tore right through the sign, and debris rained down into the empty side street at its feet. January twisted in mid air, and off-handedly noted that the billboard was painted in white, blue, and pink, and declared that trans people were sacred. That brought a smile to her face. She lashed out with Samhain, and one of the kanontsistonties evaporated under the Damascus steel of the blade.

But the other Abyssal was still with her as she winged out over Jefferson Avenue. She was at the point where the divided highway turned north to become I-375. But they were going in the opposite direction, parallel to the river off to her left. That sent them directly Downtown. Detroit Mercy Law School rose up on one side of her, and another giant parking structure to the other. Dead ahead was the elevated platform of the People Mover.

She swatted at the flying head, but it dodged underneath her and sprayed her belly with flames. But the heat did not bother her. She rolled up into a ball around it, bringing her wings in close to encase them both. It slammed against her makeshift cocoon, but to no avail. There was nowhere it could go now.

January now began to fall, rather than fly. But her momentum still carried her forward. She spun end over end as she tumbled through the air. Each time she turned, she saw the upraised track of the People Mover loom nearer. Worse, a pair of conjoined train cars was coming down the elevated rail line from Greektown to the north, and looked to run right into her and the Abyssal when it made the turn over Jefferson.

But for once gravity was on her side. Thanks to her steady fall, she was too low to hit the track now, or the cars. She abruptly let go of the flaming skull, and snapped out her wings to slow her descent. That was like putting on the brakes, and she nearly stopped in mid-air. The skull continued forward however, still spinning end over end. An instant later it slammed into the concrete support pillar of the elevated railway.

The impact did not harm the creature. January knew from the Bestiary that only magic could do that. But it did bounce straight back at her. She lanced out with Samhain and met it point-first. The monster shattered into a haze of dust. A moment later even that was gone, as its remains winked from existence. January was thankful to see that the People Mover structure itself was merely scratched by the impact.

She beat her wings furiously to gain momentum once more, and found herself landing atop the roof of one of the train cars as it made the turn to come into the Renaissance Center station. She used it as a springboard, and leaped skyward. That sent her rocketing up the face of one of the Ren Cen's side towers.

One of the Dídymo Ptérygas sideswiped her, and the two of them went pitching off to the side. They slammed against the glass tube of an external elevator shaft, and slid along its surface. January noted an elevator coming down just as they scraped past, and gave a little wave to the security guard inside.

Then she had air beneath her wings again, and found herself chasing the same Abyssal through the Renaissance Center complex. The compound's heart consisted of five glass towers that rose up high into the Detroit skyline. Of these a single round tower in the center rose up over seventy stories into the air. This was surrounded by four smaller, octagonal skyscrapers at the cardinal points. Finally a pair of even lower towers rose up like an afterthought, back the way January had come from alongside Jefferson Avenue.

They darted around the first corner tower that January and the pterodactyl had slid off of, and banked inward toward the central spire. The Abyssal turned straight up along the skyscraper's side, and January raced it to the top. Then it dodged to one side in an effort to lose her. But January was able to react quick enough to head it off, and slammed into it.

They tumbled between another two of the corner towers, and fell toward the entrance to the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. It had an irregular shaped administrative building, with a single low tower that rose up from a wide base that was just a few stories tall. The road to the tunnel itself snaked around behind it and passed through a wide row of toll booths. Then the road curved around and down out of sight beneath Jefferson Avenue, and vanished into the earth below.

The border crossing was open 24 hours. But it was late, so there was only a single car pulled up at a booth. January and the Abyssal crashed to earth beside the car, and dug up a long trench in the concrete. Its twin tails snapped at her, and she noted that each ended with a barbed tip. She brought up both of her wings to push them aside, and lunged in close. Samhain led the way, and skewered the beast.

Its body fell to the broken driveway below and vanished a moment later. January flashed a smile at the car, and the customs agents beyond. Then she leaped into the air once more. A pack of the flying heads came in after her, and she led them to Hart Plaza, which was right next door. Thankfully that was completely deserted at this time of night.

She came down with her feet atop the twisted pylon that rose up from the plaza's north-eastern corner. Over a hundred feet in the air, that left plenty of space between her and the cars on Jefferson Avenue below. She noted that some of those began to stop, as people got out to not only stare at her, but also at the brilliant lights that bathed Belle Isle, miles upriver.

She twisted and twirled as the kanontsistonties swirled around her. Once again, her wings became weapons when the monsters came too near, and she sliced several in two that way. Finally she leaped straight up to skewer one that had made the mistake of flying directly over her head. The last one turned to flee, but she caught up to it down in the narrow strip of land between the two divided roadways of Jefferson Avenue.

That put her at the Armenian Genocide Memorial. A dark bronze statue of a slender man with a balding head rose up on a granite pedestal. His name - "Gomidas" - was spelled out below in gold letters. Underneath was a plaque explaining that the monument was dedicated to the million and a half Armenians who had been murdered by the Turks in 1915.

It was here that she finished the last of the flying heads with a roundhouse kick. She took a moment to regard the statue of the long dead martyr.

"Rest in peace..." she breathed somberly.

That was when she was blindsided by a final Abyssal. It was one of the Twin Wings. Even as one of its heads clamped down on her throat, the other snapped at her face. Its body pressed against her torso, and its momentum sent them both tumbling into the street. January felt the dual spikes of its tail slice through the armor on her shins. But the titanium of her new armor was just for show. The otherworldly stingers just skittered off her flesh underneath, which was far stronger than any earthly metal could hope to be.

Thanks to years of gymnastics, she easily rolled back to her feet. With her left hand she reached up over her shoulder and clawed at the long, sinuous frame of the Abyssal. Her fingers found purchase around the base of its leading wing, and she whipped her arm forward. The creature came with it, and she smacked its back down upon the concrete of the street below.

She followed with Samhain, and brought the longsword down in a great, overhand blow. The Twin Wing rolled aside however, and the Damascus steel of the Celtic sword vainly hacked a long gash through the cement below. The monster replied with another stab from its twin tails. January saw it coming and slipped to one side. She responded with a thrust from Samhain, aimed at skewering the Abyssal.

The Dídymo Ptérygas bounded out of the way however. But it had not been paying attention to the cars and trucks that it shared the road with. A car that had stopped just up Jefferson suddenly squealed its tires in fury, and barreled back in reverse. It was just in time for its wide bumper to crash directly into the two headed monster.

The Abyssal was flung back and down by the force of the blow. But the car did not stop. It kept right on going, and ran straight over the pterodactyl-like creature. First its rear tires - then its front tires - crunched over the beast. But when the car finally came to a halt, the monster still rose up in the wash of its headlights.

The doors flung open and young men spilled forth. They wore an assortment of hoodies, baseball hats, and black knit caps. One sported a Pistons shirt, another was decked out in Adidas gear, and more wore simple tees. Tattoos, shining chains, and glittering rings girded their bodies. Out came pistols, a sawed off shotgun, and even an AK-47. The gang leveled their weapons on the Abyssal, and opened fire.

It rose into the hail of gunfire. Then it staggered, and fell back to the pavement. The monster jerked and spasmed with each bullet that slammed home into its hide, and there were a lot of them. The gang members continued to fire until their guns ran out, except for the man with the AK. He had a much larger magazine than the others. January was obliged to step up and lay one hand on the assault rifle to get him to finally let up.

The Abyssal was literally shredded into paste. Then as with all the others, it faded away into nothingness right before everyone's eyes. All that remained in its wake were flattened bullets and spent shell casings.

"Thanks guys," January said quite honestly to the young men. "If you want keep helping, head to the Belle Isle bridge. Just be careful who you are shooting at, my friends are out there."

January did not stick around. There was no time. She launched herself skyward and headed back toward the embattled island.

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post Yesterday, 05:00 PM
Post #702

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Joined: 19-March 13
From: Ellicott City, Maryland

WOW look at that giant robot! 🤖 I wonder what the laws are for that sort of thing. Like, are those giants considered to be vehicles? Can they even move? *watches video* Yup, sure can. What would happen if one of those walked out into a street, and then accidentally crushed somebody's car somehow, I wonder. How would the insurance work? It's not like a car hitting a truck. Would it even be possible to walk that monster into a street where traffic (light traffic, of course) runs? This is one of those things which will happen eventually.

Funny thing is, that bot in the video is sort of what I was picturing as Isaac moves it around. Except I'm imagining Isaac's bot isn't as colorful. It's more industrial-looking, more old-school Detroit.

There are going to be a lot of POV shifts. This is the crowning point for the last 10 books. Everything leads to this

Sweet. You've been working on this since 2019 too, maybe even 2018 or 17.

Question: Would any of this huge battle been happening if the Hierophant hadn't tried to summon? Was the Hierophant somehow influenced by Natthrafn from beyond the grave? Well, that's two questions.

Yeesh, tentacles. What the heck could this be? Methinks the heroes are losing this battle, hate to say. sad.gif

Aw, it's a trans billboard! That's gotta be a sign (har har). A sign that things will turn around for the better.

Sounds like aren't any people on the People Mover. Phew. I like how even at this chaotic moment, she's able to consult the Bestiary in her mind about whatever malice she's attacking.

Here's a pic of the People Mover. Got curious what it looks like, I was picturing one of those giant people-moving walkways we see in airports. I like how the art on the side of that trolley looks like well-done graffiti.

These flying head thingies sound awful. Seems also like Jan has been pushed away from the main battling area, right?

NIIIIIICCEE!!!!!!! Wow, so some gangbangas just showed up! Word, yo! laugh.gif This is awesome. Finally, these guys are making a difference in our world for the better, instead of merely doing drive-bys at rival gangs! Peace!

This post has been edited by Renee: Yesterday, 05:33 PM
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post Yesterday, 09:30 PM
Post #703

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From: Las Vegas

Your warnings about the growing scale of this battle were not overstated! Superheroes or not, they face what seems an endless tidal wave of magic beasties apparently intent on eating Detroit.

"Maverick Stormcrow, you've got bogeys on your six,"
- - I can imagine you grinning as you wrote this. wink.gif

’… the billboard was painted in white, blue, and pink, and declared that trans people were sacred.’
- - As are we all. You, me, Boo. . . hamsters and rangers everywhere! tongue.gif

More help is definitely in order. Bless that gang with poor ammo discipline’s heart but I’m thinking we need more supers.

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