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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
WellTemperedClavier
post Sep 7 2023, 12:49 AM
Post #881


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I didn't know that about the A Squared (not sure how to do that here), but it's cool to know! And I liked the addition to January's speech. It's not enough to simply clean up the mess; we have to learn how not to make them (or at least make fewer of them).

This does seem like quite a happening fair. Which is great, but does mean more of a problem for our heroes. They have to be pretty careful as to how they operate.

At least it seems they have a lead. I got a kick of Lighthammer's description, but have a hunch that Nadeem did something (or had something done to him) a lot more dramatic than enlisted shenanigans.

Also, nice reference to the mitt. A company I once worked for had a Michigan-based client, and I learned about that from them. Is there anything like that for the Upper Peninsula?
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Renee
post Sep 8 2023, 05:14 PM
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People buying signatures? Good gosh. That's even worse than ppl buying endorsements for their influencer pages!

QUOTE
Jan is not worried about someone getting suspicious about why she knows so much about Barbara Ryan, because she and the others literally investigated her and her entire family in the hunt for the Summoner. Of course she knows these thing


By "she", do you mean Stormcrow? Well sure, SC would know a few things about Barbara, especially since she's collecting signatures. It's just knowing all those more personal details! Sorry, I just get worried. Even though this is a fictional story. tongue.gif


Today is July the 18th. In Maryland we have Artscape, which sounds like the Ann Arbor Art Fair. It's been several years since I've gone, but last time I went Cake played for free! cake.gif Anyway, AAAF sounds just as crowded as Artscape. Crowded...sweaty, I don't understand why they have these fairs in the middle of summer instead of fall, when it's nice & cooler.

Blackhawk is her own hotspot! 📻 Anyway, why are they all here? Seems another baddie's about to make some sort of showing. Dogman, eh? I love how there's all this research surrounding this canine-dude. All these facts about which particular year and where, etc.

What?? He's maybe here, at the fair? Weird!! Spleck, indeed!


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SubRosa
post Sep 9 2023, 05:38 AM
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Acadian: I don't know how you people in other states navigate, without being able to use a part of your body as a map! laugh.gif

Magicians have always been a subset of the super hero genre. With a handful of mages like Doctor Strange, or Doctor Fate, or Black Knight. The Crowverse is only different in that the protagonist is one of these mages, who are otherwise only sparsely represented. Even though January herself and many of the people around her are magicians, most of the other supers are still essentially mutants. People born that way because... who knows. Like Gadget, or Lighthammer, or Blackhawk.

It is time to wrap up the Dogman. The rest of this Book will be all about the hunt for him.


WellTemperedClavier: A squared and the D are some Michiganisms, along with the Soo, Yoopers, Trolls, Ipsi, and the like.

I am walking a fine line with the environmentalism in this story. On one hand I know many supers would want to use their powers to do more than just beat people up. Some of them are in a position to create real, positive change for the planet. But OTOH, I don't want to just handwave away all the world's problems by having just a handful of people solve them with what is essentially a magic wand. Real change does not happen that way. Its only when people act in a collective that real, positive change takes place. So I am trying to use supers as a catalyst for that, but not the be all and end all.

One of the podcasts I listen to is Lions Led By Donkeys. It is a military history show done by a former enlisted man, who is now a historian and sci-fi writer. His show is different from most, in that it is mainly about how stupid war is. By which I mean just how dumb the people who lead armies and nations tend to be. Hence the Donkeys in the title. One of the things that crops up over and over again is that enlisted men have not changed one bit in two thousand years. They were drawing dicks on Hadrian's Wall back then, and they are doing it right now in some base in America.

I think I have seen people stick a finger out horizontally to stand in for the UP. But I am a Troll, and live way down in Metro Detroit. So needing to know actual places in da UP rarely comes up, eh. Chicago is about as close to me as the Mackinac Bridge. I went to Cleveland once, and that was also a shorter drive than to the bridge.

Renee: In one of the recent Philadelphia city council elections a bunch of the candidates never even bothered to get the petition signatures to run, so they never got on the ballot!

That is cool about Artscape. We also have Arts, Beats, and Eats here in Metro-Detroit. It just happened last weekend. These days it is in Ferndale. It used to be in Pontiac, which is when I used to go. I saw the band Live there for free (they were really good too!).

They are all crowded, hot, and sweaty! biggrin.gif I guess that's how people like it. It was in the upper 80s/low 90s and humid when we had it here last weekend.









The Coney Island Entrance

The booths and kitchen area

A better view of the kitchen

The Fastball Special

Lighthammer's Theme - Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck


Book 11.26 - Raven Sisters

With that January's best friend leaped off the rooftop. His armor blossomed with blue light, and a trail of ions spilled out behind him as he soared across the sky. January's wings were out an instant later, and she followed right behind. Along with her came the others, flying and leaping to the crowded street below.

January soared over the white kiosks and the heads of hundreds of people below. Her downward angle translated into greater speed, which at first was ideal. Right up until it was time to stop. Then she had to feather back her wings to slow herself. She pulled a trick out of Lighthammer's bag, and nosed straight up. Gaining altitude bled off her speed at a dramatic rate, and she came to stall. From there she was able to simply drop to the pavement below.

The others flew down alongside her, each in their own way, given how their flight worked. Lighthammer made it all look easy of course. He zoomed in ahead of them all, and swung up right before eating the pavement. He managed to land on his feet, as easily as if he had taken a step out of the shower. Blackhawk just sort of levitated through the sky, as if a giant invisible hand was holding her aloft and moving her about. Gadget was a little wobbly in the air. January could tell he needed more practice. Ôkami was the only one who could not fly. He simply leaped the four stories down to the pavement, and then faded through everything and everyone in his path as he made his way to the Coney Island.

All around the civilians stumbled out of the way, stopped to gape in shock, or pulled out their phones and began to record in amazement. Someone immediately asked January for a selfie. She and the others had to weave around and through them to reach the door. Expect for Ôkami of course. In spite of Lighthammer having arrived there on the sidewalk earliest, the samurai was the first one to actually get into the building. Unlike the rest of them he did not have to go through the front doors. Instead he was able to simply walk through the walls, and people around them.

January was still trying to reach those glass doors at the corner of the building, when a hand stretched out of the building and took hold of her arm. The next thing she knew, Ôkami pulled her through the wall. In his other hand he held Gadget. Over her shoulder, January saw Lighthammer push his way through the front doors, with Blackhawk in tow.

The interior of the Coney Island was basically a large, square room. The center was filled with wooden booths, and the partitions between each row of them were capped with marble or decorative stone. A glass case filled with cakes and pies sat near the doors, along with a sign that instructed patrons to seat themselves.

The back wall was lined with large windows, with the name of the store frosted upon them. But January could still see the kitchen through it. A wide, open doorway led back to it on the left side of the building. To the right of the kitchen was a short hallway that also led into it. A pair of bathrooms stood across this hall, in the very corner of the building. A large TV hung from the ceiling overhead.

The restaurant was packed. Every booth or small cafe table was taken. More people milled about just inside the door, waiting for an open seat. Like the fair goers outside, they were of all ages, genders, ethnicities, etc... It was a veritable sea of humanity. All of them were packed inside of this building, with what might be a berserk monster.

The smell of broiling hot dogs and seared beef competed with other savory and sweet odors. All wafted into January's nostrils as she tried to make her way to the kitchen. It looked like something was happening back there, but she could not see exactly what. The way there was crammed with too many people, who were now all looking at her and asking questions.

"Fastball." January turned to Ôkami, and the Japanese-American nodded. January took hold of his armored collar with one hand, and the back of his belt with the other. Then she hurtled him through the air toward the back of the restaurant. He faded into a blur as he somersaulted over and through the heads of the diners. A moment later he passed harmlessly through the kitchen window, and disappeared from view.

January leaped up onto that little divider between rows of booths. It was a few inches wide, and had a flat top thanks to that decorative stonework. It reminded her of a balance beam, something she had spent plenty of time upon in her years doing gymnastics. She used it as an avenue to run straight to the rear of the building.

Gadget cursed as he tried to fly up and over the heads of the civilians. But the ceiling was too low, and he clearly decided that he was not up to attempting such a tricky maneuver with so many innocents around to get in the way. So instead he dropped back down to the floor and tried to thread his way through the crowd.

January cleared the booths and hopped lightly down to the floor. She took the open doorway on the left into the kitchen. At the same time two people wearing aprons scurried out. January took a moment to make sure they made it safely, and gently guided them away with her arms. She did not like the looks of fright that etched their faces. But at least they did not seem to be injured.

She finally made her way inside the kitchen a moment later. Stainless steel ovens, sinks, and refrigerators lined the walls, and a long metal grill ran the length of the windows that faced the dining area. Several short kitchen islands bisected the space, filled with plates and utensils. January felt her stomach rumble at the sight of a Reuben sandwich and waffle fries sitting on a plate nearby.

She heard screams, and her heart sank at the reason for their utterance. The Dogman was there in all his glory. Even with his hunched over posture, he easily cleared seven feet in height. His upper body fairly burst with muscles, so much so that it created an almost ridiculous juxtaposition to his extremely skinny waist. As before, he clutched that three-headed flail in one meaty paw. Even as January watched, he swung it at Ôkami, who stood across one of the kitchen islands from him.

The samurai/ninja ducked low, and the sharpened spikes that dotted the thick cylinders of the flail heads whistled through the air overhead. They smashed plates and glasses off the surface of the island, and showered Ôkami with hot dog parts and Fae Cola. He replied by leaping back to his feet before the Dogman could recover from his swing. He used the island as a springboard, and bounded feet-first into the cryptid. But the battering ram attack just bounced off the monster. That forced Ôkami to roll away to avoid the counter swing from that terrible flail.

In the meantime a woman stood in the middle of the kitchen and screamed. She was middle-aged, had tan skin, and her hair was a long, ebony waterfall. She wore a green apron over her other clothes, and her hands were covered by rubber cleaning gloves. She continued to yell, but now began to do so in coherent words.

"No, leave him alone!" she cried. "Stop it!"

January had the sneaking suspicion that she was not exhorting the Dogman to halt, but rather Ôkami.

"That's Sunita Nadeem," Cray's voice was in her ear. "She's the spouse of Bill, and also one of the co-owners of the Coney Island."

January darted forward, and used one hand to spring over the kitchen island that separated her from the clearly distraught woman. January took her gently, but firmly, in her arms. She deliberately placed herself between Sunita and the Dogman. That meant turning her back to the ravening beast. Her shoulder blades itched in anticipation of an oncoming blow. But she did not hesitate to do it. If a hit was coming, she had to take it rather than Sunita. Finally, she inexorably pushed the older woman back toward the doorway.

"Tell him to stop!" she yelled in January's face. "Don't hurt him! He's my husband!"

"Bill Nadeem, he's your husband?" January continued to maneuver Sunita back to the doorway. "That's him, right?"

"That's him, that's my husband," Sunita nodded. "I don't know what happened. He just ran back inside, and he turned into this... this... thing!"

"We are not going to hurt him," January insisted. She glanced back over her shoulder, and saw the Dogman send a terrific overhand blow down at Ôkami. The samurai slipped to the side, and the spiked flail heads sliced clean through one of the kitchen islands. Once more shattered crockery and foodstuffs erupted everywhere.

"I just wish he felt the same way about us," January murmured.

"No kidding," Lighthammer breathed in her ear. "But that's the job."

Cleveland's superhero had just pushed into the kitchen. He stood beside January now, and raised a palm to take careful aim at the Dogman. January instantly reached out to pull his hand down however, nodding to the people that milled about the dining area beyond.

"No shooting," January insisted. The restaurant was still packed to the gills with people. One ricochet or errant shot, and this would turn tragic. "Not in here."

Lighthammer shook his head ruefully, but he lowered his hand. Instead he took up a kick-boxing stance. It was exactly as January had taught him months ago, at the same time he had been teaching her to fly. At the same time he spawned his shields from his forearms. Discs of hard light, they created large ovals around each of his arms to lend him added protection.

"Don't shoot him!" Sunita cried an instant later.

"We aren't going to do that," Gadget now insisted. He had finally made his way into the kitchen as well. It was growing crowded. January passed Sunita back to him, and the powered armor hero took her out into the dining area.

"You need to move this fight, before he levels the place," Cray said over the comlink.

January noted one of the hacker's drones floating in the air now. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the devices flew via an anti-grav device, and possessed an array of sensors. All of the Allies now had a pair of them attached to their utility belts, ready for Cray to activate and put to use. January glanced down at her waist, and realized that it was a drone from her own suit, for its spot in the side of her belt was now empty.

"Samurai man, if I can distract him, can you fade him through the wall?" Lighthammer asked.

"Hai," Ôkami nodded.

He once again dodged a strike that sliced a trio of furrows down the stainless steel face of a refrigerator. In reply he took the curved blade of his katana in his left hand, and swung it around in a backhand blow. Chujitsu's hexagonal crossguard made contact with the Dogman's cheek a moment later, and snapped the cryptid's head to the side with the morte-strike.

The monster simply turned his head back a moment later, and growled.

"Close your eyes everyone. I'm about to light things up in here!" Lighthammer declared.

"The rest of you, get back out in the street to intercept them," Cray said.

January followed both their instructions. First she moved out of the kitchen and back into the dining area. At the same time she screwed her eyes shut. To make up for her lack of sight, she stretched out her senses into the astral.

The Dogman's presence was a hot flame behind her, coloring the astral realm with bright shades of tremendous magical power. But it was not a clean, wholesome energy. Instead it felt warped, corrupted, like a poison. That toxicity was centered upon the flail he carried. Alsaahiq was its name - as with all magic items, January simply knew this when she sensed it. She had no idea what it meant, other than it sounded Arabic. But it gave her the feeling of crushing or smashing.

She pushed her awareness away from her foe, and instead used her astral radar to pick out the hundreds of people within the Coney Island. Many were now on their feet, and they clogged the route to the door. Many tried to get out, but others from outside tried to get in. Even more simply milled around and stared. It formed a massive traffic jam of people pushing in all directions at the same time. But at least now January knew where each and every one person was.

Once again, she leaped up onto one of the dividers between the rows of booths and danced down its length. Blackhawk hovered up overhead, and with a gesture from one of her hands, Gadget joined her in the air as well. That was one advantage of having a mistress of magnetism on the team. If the Gadget armor ever had a flat tire, she could probably fix it with her mind.

Even with her meat eyes shut and head turned away, the flares of light that blossomed in the kitchen were insanely bright. They painted brilliant afterimages upon the insides of January's eyelids. It was not just a single burst of light, but a whole string of them that went off over and over again. She could hear the people around her react instantly to the blinding flashes with cries of surprise and distress. But at least it could not hurt anyone.


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Renee
post Sep 9 2023, 01:50 PM
Post #884


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I see, so you all have some insane humidity there, too? I wonder where the break is, the break which causes humidity to not be as common. Rocky mountains, I guess. It's why the west coast has such awesomely easier weather.

Uh boy, here come the supers. Look out, Dogman, your day in the sun is done. Hopefully. Yeah that would've been funny if Avery crashed at this point. Seems he's not that bad at flying, not as bad as when he tried to get to Belle Harbor.

"Someone immediately asked January for a selfie...." omg, really? laugh.gif You want to get one now?

Mmm, waffle fries. With powdered sugar, and a side of lemonade. 🍋 Gosh darn looks like WHOA there he is. There's the Dogman. There goes one of the concession stands. Gosh I hope all these complacent summergoers stay out of the way. Whoa, this is crazy. The Dogman is married? Sounds like maybe she don't know her husband so well.

Random thought: I wonder what happens when Bill and Sunita have a fight, and she kicks him out for the night? Now he's in the doghouse, hur hurr.

Yikes, shattered crockery, food flying everywhere! This is awesome! But it seems as though they can't really pwn the doggie, right? 🐶 It'd be really hard for them to outright kill the guy, with his wife standing right there.

Eh, just tryin' to throw the guy a bone. Do what you will to stop this guy, Dream Team. Doesn't sound like "roll over" or "go fetch, boy!" is gonna work.








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Acadian
post Sep 9 2023, 07:48 PM
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The whole crew descends upon the restaurant, and sure enough, Dogman’s doing his thing. A prickly situation to navigate for sure, between the tight quarters, crowd and Dogman’s confused mate. The supers handle it well, so far.

A lot of work for a Reuben sandwich and waffle fries that gets trashed before Jan can even take a bite!

Clever use of the various talents that these heroes each possess, ranging from tossing Okami through all obstacles to more quickly close with his target, to Lighthammer basically disorienting everyone (good and bad) with his strobe show.

We’ve yet to see if Okami is able to maneuver the Dogman out into the street. Then there’s the challenge of trying to restrain him while he’s trying to smash and kill everyone and everything. I’m guessing that somehow separating the Dogman from that evil flail would be a good start.


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SubRosa
post Sep 16 2023, 12:28 PM
Post #886


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Renee: We have the Great Lakes all around us here, so in the summer we get massive humidity, and in the winter we get lake-effect snow. And gray clouds are pretty common year round (we are one of the cloudiest states in the US)

Hah! We only get about 70 days of sunshine a year in Michigan, so all of our days in the sun are done! laugh.gif

I am cracking up over all your dog puns.


Acadian: Like the fight at the Big Tire, the Dogman alone is really no match for the entire team. He's a tank that can take a lot of hits, but he's still just one supervillain. So to make him a credible threat I placed this encounter in the middle of a crowded city. That forces the heroes to spin off half or more of their team to pure crowd control and protecting civilians. That is literally all Gadget and Blackhawk will be doing the entire time.

The Ann Arbor Art Fair was a nice famous annual event for me to put some focus on to give the city some more character. Season One really instilled a joy of using local festivals and events as a backdrop for things in the story. It adds some more flavor to what would otherwise just be ordinary cities and ordinary streets and ordinary people. I have a list of annual events, that I can pick from when the date range is correct.

I think that is something I first learned playing the game Soul Caliber on the Dreamcast. It was a 2d side-scrolling fighting game, like Mortal Kombat. But each arena had a different background of some exotic location. Like an Ancient Greek temple on a mountain top, or the lava-filled depths of an active volcano. It had absolutely no bearing at all on the fights. It was literally just a static background. But it lent a feeling of coolness (for lack of a better word) to the entire thing.

At least with writing, I can also go a step beyond Soul Caliber and put those fascinating backgrounds to use, and make them part of the story. So they can influence how characters behave.

Good call on the flail. Put a pin in that, we will be circling around to it in the future, a lot. But first Ôkami has his parts to play, and Lighthammer has more tricks to pull from his bag. So too January.








The battleground

A Double Double

January's Fight Music


Book 11.27 - Raven Sisters

One moment she felt Ôkami in the astral, back in the kitchen. Then he just vanished, as if he had turned invisible in the higher realm. At the same moment the Dogman nearly faded away from her awareness as well. What she could sense of him went quickly through the wall of the kitchen and the hallway that flanked it. Next it went through one of those corner bathrooms, and finally he ended up into the street outside.

The Dogman snapped back into sharp focus now that he was in the road. So too did Ôkami, who now stood right beside the cryptid. The samurai/ninja was just suddenly there in her awareness once more. It was as if he had momentarily popped out of existence for a moment, then popped right back in.

January did not sense any others in the immediate vicinity, say within ten feet or so of the pair. So even as she tried to make her way to the door, she entreated the clouds overhead, and they answered with low rumbles of stirring power.

"Ôkami stay clear of the Dogman," January said. "Blackhawk, can you channel my lightning, so it doesn't hit anyone but him?"

"Does a bear sip a double double in the woods?" the Canadian heroine replied coolly.

"Come back in for me bro." Lighthammer added over the comm. "I'm headed for the bathroom."

January felt the samurai move away from the Dogman, and fade back through the wall at the rear of the restaurant. She turned away from the front door. The way to it was jammed solid with people. The fight would be long over before she ever got out that way. Instead she turned back to head in Ôkami's direction. Blackhawk had evidently come to the same conclusion, for she turned in the air with Gadget in tow, and also headed to where Ôkami had reentered the building.

January sensed the Dogman pursue Ôkami toward the building. He raised his flail to smash down the wall between him and his prey. With that she turned her head up to the ceiling, and entreated the sky that she knew lay above. It answered with a deafening blast of thunder, and a brilliant crack of lightning.

The spike of power lanced down into a field of electromagnetic energy that sprang up around and above the Dogman. January could feel it surround the bolt of lightning that she brought down. It caught up her electricity like liquid pouring down a funnel. Sparks glittered in the air around the edges of the barrier, creating a brilliant show of light. Yet none of that energy escaped the magnetic bottle to the street beyond.

Thusly contained, the bolt of lightning lanced into the Dogman an instant later. It was surprisingly quiet. Usually a lightning bolt striking the ground nearby was deafening, as well as blinding. But it barely made a sound through Blackhawk's electromagnetic barrier. As far as the shockwave went, there was nothing at all. Clearly the First Nations heroine knew her stuff.

But while the lightning strike was muted outside the barrier, it was clearly not so within it. The blast of power sent the Dogman reeling away, back into the street. January could swear she saw tendrils of smoke rising from his singed fur. He shook his head and staggered, apparently dazed by the blast.

Ôkami had already ferried Lighthammer through the wall by the time January reached it. Her turn came a moment later. His armored glove reached through the wall, and plucked her out of the physical world long enough to pull her through the barrier. She rematerialized back in the street outside, and opened her eyes once more.

The side of Hill Auditorium lay directly across the street from them. The tents of the art fair packed University Avenue to their right. To their left the street was blessedly open. But onlookers still crowded the sidewalks nonetheless. Most crouched or hid behind cars parked on the side of the road, or a line of trees that ran down one sidewalk. But a few people of course, stood right out and held their phones up to record.

The Dogman loomed in the center of the street now, still clutching that terrible flail in one fist. He blinked his eyes hard, either from Lighthammer's strobes, or the lightning, or Ôkami's previous blows. Or perhaps it was due to all three? Yet he showed no sign of letting up. His teeth bared into a snarl that sent drool dripping to the pavement below. His knuckles fairly popped as he gripped his weapon even tighter.

"Sessrúmnir waits for us all," January murmured.

"Sessy-who?" Lighthammer wondered.

"It's Freyja's hall in Asgard," January explained. "She's the goddess of love, magic, and death."

"Sounds like a few of my ex-girlfriends," Cleveland's superhero laughed.

The impromptu conversation was cut short when the bright flash of a smartphone's camera caught the Dogman's eye. It came from the milling crowd within the fair along University Avenue, just twenty or thirty feet away. While silent, the brilliant flash of lightning had still gotten people's attention. Now so too did the superheroes and the cryptid in the street. More and more people turned away from the displays of the art fair, and crowded to the north to see what was happening outside the Coney Island.

The Dogman leaped for the throng, and brandished his flail high in the air. Blackhawk threw up her arms, and a shield of translucent energy sprang up between the cryptid and the fairgoers. The Dogman crashed into it a moment later, and brilliant streams of color sprang up within the force field. They flowed like an aurora beneath the spot of the barrier that he had bounced off of. Then the colors slowly faded away, even as the Dogman fell back to the pavement and regained his feet.

The cryptid tried to race down the street to the west, back toward the Coney Island. But Gadget got there first. The powered armor hero created a blue-lit plasma window in the monster's path. Like Blackhawk's force field, this energy screen also held back the monster. Behind both energy fields, the fairgoers alternately screamed and fled, or stopped and stared in a mixture of what must have been mute horror and amazement.

Lighthammer took to the sky to get above the Dogman, while January and Ôkami moved in on foot to try to trap him against the two force fields. But the Dogman was too quick. He leaped away in the only open direction, to the east. In a moment he was racing across the red and white steps of Hill Auditorium.

People in his path shrieked and fled. Lighthammer was quick enough to zoom past the Dogman. He scooped up a woman twice his size wearing a sundress and a big floppy hat, and soared away just seconds before the cryptid could steamroll through her.

Ôkami called for another fastball, and in an instant January hurled him through the sky with all the strength that she could muster. He raced through the air like a missile. As Lighthammer had, he was able to snatch up another pair of onlookers before the Dogman could pulverize them with his flail. In his case they faded with him. Then the samurai took them straight through the Dogman and a nearby tree, and finally through the walls of the auditorium nearby.

Blackhawk followed close behind. She continued to extend her force field as she went. She kept it between the Dogman and the mass of festival-goers on the road to the south of the auditorium. Gadget too, came flying in, but like January he was playing catch up. It was not until the Dogman passed the steps and reached the grass and trees at the edge of Ingalls Mall that they were able to head the monster off.

The tents of the art fair turned north here, to travel along the pavement that ran through the center of the large, rectangular plaza. That put it directly in the Dogman's path. Blackhawk turned her force field around this corner and sent it north, once more blocking him off from the civilians. Now Gadget was close enough to erect one of his own plasma windows behind the Dogman. It was in the same spot Blackhawk's force field had been a moment before. So it continued to shield the people on the avenue to the south. The two barriers met an angle, so that together they formed a 'V' shape, with the Dogman at the point.

Ôkami was back now, and he joined January. The two of them rushed into the open end of that 'V' to cut off the Dogman's only route of escape. In the meantime Lighthammer flew in over the Dogman's head. The light-based hero threw out his hands and dipped into his bag of tricks. Rather than emitting his signature hard light, or a standard burning laser, he sent forth a wave of heat. It created a ripple effect within the air beneath him, like the heat-haze on a highway.

This debilitating heat fell directly upon the Dogman. Any of the energy that spilled away was turned back by the twin force fields behind the cryptid, protecting the civilians from the searing temperature. January had read that this active denial system was actually something the military was working on for crowd control. It was not lethal - supposedly - but she had read that it was really, really painful.

The Dogman leaped skyward to swat at his airborne oppressor. That left the cryptid open for a counter. For once he was off the ground, he could not dodge aside. January sprang up to meet him, and slammed into him before he could reach Lighthammer. The two went soaring to one side, and careened off Gadget's plasma window. Blue light flashed underneath the pair as they bounded across the energy screen for a moment. Then they finally dropped back to the earth below.

January did get a taste of that active denial ray of Lighthammer's just then, before he was able to shut it down. It was hot, really hot, the kind of heat that got under your skin and made it feel like you were burning from the inside out. But as it turned out, it was not nearly as bad as a face full of lava. She would know after all.

Ôkami moved in on one side, and Lighthammer came down to the ground on the other. The latter called out for the others to shut their eyes, and January did so just in time for another series of brilliant strobes to go off in front of her and the Dogman. Again - even with her eyes closed - bright afterimages sprouted against her eyelids.

She turned her awareness back to the astral. It was just in time for her to be aware of Ôkami using the distraction to move in to batter at the Dogman. He once more took his katana by the blade with his left hand, and released his hold of the grip with his right. He then swung it backhanded in a single-handed murder stroke, as one would in Western longswording. The sword's octagonal crossguard cracked home with one of its points, and the Dogman bellowed with rage. He literally flailed blindly at the samurai in return, swinging that deadly flail out in a wide arc.

Ôkami was forced to head January's way to avoid those whistling spiked heads. She spread her wings out wide, and an instant later she felt Ôkami's boots step across them. He turned perpendicular to the ground, and now ran from one of her wingtips to the other. She became Earth, and planted herself to the spot. She was just in time, as an instant later those spiked flail heads came crashing across her feathers, in pursuit of the ninja. But she was adamant now. Nothing could harm her. The flail merely kicked up sparks of angry energy as its heads skittered impotently across her body.

Lighthammer stood on the other side of January. He pulled both his forearms up in front of his chest, and extended his personal force shields from each. They combined to create a shell of solid light in front of him, covering him from head to toe. Ôkami - still running horizontally - leaped against this shield and used it as a springboard. He shot directly back at the Dogman, and crashed into the monster's chest with a lowered shoulder.

The Dogman had now completely turned his back upon January. So while the cryptid wavered under Ôkami's human battering ram attack, January sprang into action herself. She pulled her wings in and folded them up on her back. At the same time she leaped forward and up. She laid her left hand on one of the Dogman's shoulders, and used it as a springboard to propel herself higher still, over his head. A second later she came down with her opposite elbow, and crushed it into the back of his skull.

It was the now famous Stormcrow Elbow Drop - which January had yet to invent a snazzier name for. With or without extra lightning, it had felled foes great and small. The Michigan Dogman was no different. He was driven to his knees by the titanic force of the knockout blow. He wavered there for long moments. Finally he loosened his grip on his flail, and it fell to the grass below.

"What, what happened?" a distinctly human voice issued from his throat. "Where am I?"

"Bill?" January eyed him cautiously, even as she backed to a safe distance. Her eyes moved from him to that flail. She was keenly aware that he could snatch it back up at any moment, and slash at her with those wickedly spiked heads. "Bill Nadeem? Is that you in there?"

"Yeah, I'm Bill," the Dogman gasped. His body seemed to convulse, as if in the grip of pain. One of his hands clutched at his stomach. January noted that it was a hand - an entirely human hand - not a massive canine paw. He doubled over. As she looked on in horror, the long hairs that bristled from his frame shrank, and retracted into his flesh. He jerked and spasmed, and his face collapsed in on itself. The long, dog-like muzzle packed with fangs vanished, and was replaced with an ordinary human visage.

"He's turning back."

January felt like Captain Obvious for saying it. But it was true. She spread her wings out around the man, and covered him from view as best she could. His face did not need to go out all over the internet. If her hunch was correct, in the end he was a victim here too, the same as the people he had nearly killed in his alter-ego as the Dogman.


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Acadian
post Sep 16 2023, 08:41 PM
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Your pre-episode comments were both helpful and insightful. The challenge during this fight was indeed to try and neutralize Dogman while preventing him from rampaging into the everpresent crowds. That challenge was perfect to help mute the combined power of Stormcrow’s mighty crew.

Ôkami’s ferry service! Shadow ninja really came in handy here moving folks around. So did the shields from Blackhawk and Gadget. As did Sparklehammer’s less than lethal tricks. All setting things up so Stormcrow could do a smackdown with her famous elbow of doom.

I suspected once Dogman dropped that flail, he might revert into Bill. Hmm, gonna have to somehow dispose of that flail. Knowing more about its curse might help them.


Nit? ’Usually a lightning striking the ground nearby was deafening, as well as blinding.’
My guess here is that you probably had a couple edits that ultimately went a bit arwy. Perhaps, ‘a lightning strike hitting the ground’ or ‘a lightning bolt striking the ground’ or just ‘lightning striking the ground’ without the ‘a’?

Edit: Oh, I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed the banter among the heroes as Blackhawk talks about what bears drink in the woods and Lighthammer laments his girlfriends. tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Acadian: Sep 16 2023, 08:47 PM


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Renee
post Sep 17 2023, 07:03 PM
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So it looks like the dog days of summer are coming, but not for this dog. 🐕‍🦺

Lake effect snow. PLEASE weather gods, PLEASE send all of Michigan's snow our way. mad.gif I'm still pissed off about global humidity messing up our snowfall during the last 3 years. I'll take ALL your snow. Anyway, when I lived in Oregon (about half-hour from Pseron Wyrd, though I had no idea back in those days) we had a lot of cloudy weather, as well. I can remember not seeing the sun for an entire month, this being in the late '90s.

Yikes, they actually are trying to get rid of Dogman. Jan just asked Blackhawk to channel her lightning bolt. ⚡ So Blackhawk essentially becomes sort of a capacitor in this situation.

But what about Sunnita? huh.gif Guess she's gonna have to find a new dude.

Isn't it true we never really know all things about the people we love, though? Sigh.

Uh oh, Dogman gets struck by lightning. He's really pissed now, I bet. Easy, boy. Heel!

He's going for the crowd? BAD DOG. Seriously, that's weird. Why not try to attack the supers? See, I wonder if Dogman is sort of like a werewolf, then, like he can't control his actions 100%.

And really, it's odd that there still IS a crowd, know what I mean? It it was me, I'd be sooooo out of there. Not even messing with the camera/phone. I'd just be off in a building somewhere, door locked. But maybe the Michiganers are used to this sort of thing. They've become so accustomed to some sort of grand battle between the forces of good and mal-intent during one of their outdoor events. They even look forward to such moments.

Really love how the focus keeps shifting back and forth between physical and astral planes. Your special effects team's got a pretty decent paycheck to make all this happen.

Holy [censored], he's morphed back to being a human?!! ... So did Bill Nadeem even know he was also Dogman? Will he be able to continue life just as a pure human, or is he just dead now? If he's a human & still able to live, does this mean he'll have legal charges against all the murders he's committed? ... Or will he be treated like an animal: either killed, or caged and returned to wilderness where he came from. Well, I assume he was never in wilderness...

Well as the saying goes, let dying dogs rest.

This post has been edited by Renee: Sep 17 2023, 07:05 PM


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Renee
post Sep 18 2023, 11:18 AM
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This debilitating heat fell directly upon the Dogman.

Man, I totally missed this one! laugh.gif I mean, the joke is so obvious!

Maybe the keyboard player can say it!


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WellTemperedClavier
post Sep 20 2023, 12:28 AM
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Love the description of Gadget launching into action!

This many civilians is scary. Fights between supers and monsters almost can't avoid some collateral damage, so I suspect the team's going to have to do a lot of crowd control here. That sort of thing is scarier to me than most monsters (getting pulverized is one thing, dealing with a dozen lawsuits quite another--maybe the team should set up an LLC).

The dogman has an interesting physique. Sounds like they'd be pretty top-heavy, which maybe January can use to her advantage.

Oh, this is interesting. Does Sunita have some connection to this?

Yup, she does. And things have gotten more complicated.

Probably a good call on January's part to not have any shooting. Way too easy for that to go wrong here.

Very impressive use of powers here. They coordinated to avoid collateral damage and get the job done. It's like watching a well-executed raid in an MMO. And it does seem like the Dogman's another victim here, so the next step is to help him out. Once they can get him under some level of control, at least.
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SubRosa
post Sep 23 2023, 03:27 PM
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Acadian: Last week's battle was a nice opportunity to showcase the various abilities of the team, and how all of the working together brings them success.

The flail is going to be next up on the To Do list for the heroes. But it is not going to go so easily into that good night.

I had fun writing that banter, like Blackhawk's Canadian double-double, and January trying out a new catch phrase, that is a little too obscure for others to understand.


Renee: I used to think that the Dog Days of Summer just meant when it was really hot. But it turns out it is when the star Sirius is in the sky. Which just happens to usually be in August, when it is also really hot.

We don't get a lot of snow anymore in Michigan. Certainly not compared to when I was a children in the 70s. It is not even like when I was a courier in the early 2000s. Back then during winter we would reliably get two good snowfalls every week, about 2-3 inches every time. I had to drive in it, so I was very conscious of the weather. Now we are lucky to get that much in a single month.

Whoa, Jan and company are not going to kill the Dogman. That's not their style at all.

I have noticed that in the internet age there seem to be three kinds of people when disasters happen. There are the people who run away. The people who stand and gawk in shock. And the people who pull out their phones and start live-streaming. That is how we get to see all these videos of disasters on YouTube. I suppose there is a fourth type, those who step in and actually try to help. But those are the rarest.

The legal fallout of being the Dogman will be addressed at the very end of this book. So it will take a while to circle around to. But there is long-standing legal precedent for this sort of thing in the Crow-verse.


WellTemperedClavier: I am not sure about how to handle supers and lawsuits. In most super fiction it is just completely ignored, especially in the Marvel movies. People just destroy cars and trucks and buildings without a second thought. In the first Incredibles movie they did touch on it. The federal government paid for all the damages that supers caused. Until Mr. Incredible finally went too far and they stopped the funding all together, ending superheroes at the same time. I really don't know what route I want to take it. In the very least it is just taken for granted that super damage is covered in things like homeowners insurance, or auto insurance, etc...

The Dogman's physique is based on RL hyenas, just taken to an extreme. And of course a picture I found of Yeenoghu, the Demon lord of Gnolls. I mostly went with the 3rd Edition version of him as my inspiration for the Dogman's appearance.

That is how the Dogman started out. I was looking to round out the posse of magical monsters that the Hierophant had gathered to face Nátthrafn after summoning the Dark Lord. So I cracked open my Monster Manual and Fiend Folio and made a list of creatures that might work. Gnolls were one. From there I found Yeeoghu, and I got the idea for the general look, and the flail. Then I continued to work on it, and decided to go a were-creature route, with the flail being a curse causing the transformations. The cherry on top was the Michigan Dogman, a 'real' cryptid here in Michigan with a canine appearance.

How the team treats the Dogman is a very revealing thing, it will show a lot of their personalities and goals as supers. I often read in writer's forums that a battle in fantasy writing should reveal something about the participant's personalities. In this case, I was able to pull that off.








My inspiration for Bill Nadeem is Jay Ali

The Children's Hospital Green Roof


Book 11.28 - Raven Sisters

"Get away from him!" A woman's scream brought January's head around. Racing up to them from the Coney Island was Sunita. She still wore her work apron, over a pair of mom jeans and a green top. But she had discarded her rubber kitchen gloves. She only skidded to a halt when Lighthammer stepped into her path and held his arms out to bar her passage.

"Hold up there," he insisted. "It's not safe."

"Safe?" she scoffed in a low voice. "He's my husband, now let me through."

She ducked under Lighthammer's arms, and darted the rest of the way forward. She got there just in time to see her spouse complete his transformation back to human form. His eyes rolled over in the back of his head, and he fell back down toward the earth. Gadget was there to catch him however, and gently lowered his head to the grass.

"How is he?" January worried. They did not want to kill him after all, certainly not in front of his spouse. But it was hard to gauge how hard to hit someone who could wreck semi-trucks and destroy landmarks.

"He's out, but I think he's ok," Gadget nodded after examining his eyes and checking his pulse. "I think he is just wiped from transforming back."

January looked around for the flail. They had to get that thing under wraps as soon as possible. Perhaps simply removing it from Mr. Nadeem's presence might break the curse. But even as she cast her eyes this way and that, there was no sign of it.

"Umm, where's that cursed magic weapon?" Blackhawk wondered as well. She moved up with the rest of them. The First Nations heroine now reformed her force field into a bubble that surrounded them all. Its normally translucent surface now brightened with color, and transformed into a brilliant green aurora that completely shielded them from view.

January turned around herself, and looked this way and that. There was no sign of the flail. She was still sensing in the astral. It should have been a bright beacon of power, impossible to miss. But somehow she could not find it. It had been right there a moment before! But now it seemed to have vanished into thin air.

"I think it's like that thing Blood Raven does with her swords," Gadget mused. "How she can just summon them to her, and then make them vanish when she no longer needs them. I always wondered how she did that. Does she store them in a dimensional pocket? Or does she just teleport them to her from some normal place, like you do with your armor when you suit up?"

"This will make things harder," Ôkami said. "I sense that flail is at the heart of this. I can only feel a bare residue of magic around him now. But when the flail was out, he and it were both alive with power in the astral."

"So it does go dormant, like we thought," Cray said over the comlink. "Well the good thing is that means he's not a threat right now."

"Not until he wolfs out again," Blackhawk noted.

"What are you people talking about?" Sunita knelt down to cradle her husband's head in her lap. "My husband is a good man. He's even in the National Guard! He's not a monster."

"Lady, in case you haven't been keeping up on current events, your husband just tried to rip half the Art Fair apart, including your Coney Island." Lighthammer noted.

"You're Sunita right, Sunita Nadeem?" January remembered her manners. "I'm Stormcrow, that is Lighthammer, Ôkami, Gadget, and Blackhawk."

"We all know who you are," the dark-haired woman nodded. "Yes I'm Sunita Nadeem. And whatever is going on, my husband Bill is not responsible. He's a good father. He's not a... supervillain."

The sound of sirens came to January's ears. That reminded her that while they were speaking, the world was indeed going on around them.

"We need to clear this guy out of here while we figure this out," Gadget said. "Can we take him to the Raven's Nest?"

"There's a better place, the bunker underneath." Cray said over the comlink. "Blood Raven kept it for just this sort of thing. It's a hardened facility, good for keeping dangerous prisoners, or training dangerous metas. It's in the waypoint network, that would be the best way to get there."

"Ok, there's another node north-east of here, on the roof of the children's hospital," January declared, "I can get us to the bunker from there."

January leaned down, and gently lifted Bill in her arms. He was just an ordinary man now. With wavy black hair, a strong jaw, and a prominent nose, she imagined that he was quite handsome. She would have to ask Avery about that later. He would know. In any case, the difference between him now and that half-human, half-canine form was just astounding. It was no surprise that he was able to vanish so easily after the attack on the Big Tire. If she had not seen it herself, she would never have imagined that he was the Dogman.

"Wait, where are you taking him?" Sunita cried. "You can't take my husband. This is kidnapping!"

"We can leave him here for the cops if you like," Lighthammer declared. "I'm sure that will work out really well for you."

"Listen, Sunita, we are trying to help him," Gadget explained. "Whatever is doing this to him, we are going to find a way to stop it, and fix him. But we can't do that here in the street."

"Not without me you're not!" Sunita insisted. "Where he goes, I go."

January looked to the others. They just shrugged back at her. "Okay then, you're coming with us too. Do you need to sort anything out with your family before you go?'

"Crap!" she swore, and fumbled for her phone. "Let me text the kids."

"I'll take that for a moment," Gadget snatched the phone from her hands, and connected a cable to its USB port. A holographic keyboard sprang up in mid air in front of the powered armor hero, and his fingers flew across the keys. The screen on the smartphone lit up for a moment, and then Gadget handed it back to Sunita.

"There, I've disabled the GPS, and locked out your social media apps from spying on you."

"When this is all over, remind me to tell your husband that he doesn't deserve you," Blackhawk said wryly. Several of the metal plates of her armor snapped out in mid air, and transformed into flat discs. She lowered them to the ground, so that the normally ground-bound members of the group could step onto them. Then they all rose up into the sky.

January led the way to the hospital. She knew it. She and Blood Raven had used the waypoint there before. It was part of the complex of hospitals that clustered in the north-eastern corner of Ann Arbor. The Huron River made a wide loop to the north of them, and a park took up the space between the arms of the river. The hospitals themselves stretched across the base of the loop, skirting the very edge of the urban area.

The children's hospital itself was the tallest of the buildings, at some twelve stories high. Its walls were made of blue glass, alternating with cladding of varying soft earth tones. It had an irregular shape, sort of like a rectangle. But one of the long faces had several curved, triangular sections that jutted from it. They sort of reminded January of fangs jutting from a dog's mouth.

January led them to the roof. It was remarkable, because it was covered in grass and other plants! It was a literal green roof, and the normal rooftop appliances and utilities rose up from the little meadow on raised platforms. Among them were elevated metal walkways that ran across the space, connecting one section to another.

January avoided the helipad that rose up in one corner. Instead she took them to the top of a small structure on the opposite side of the building. It was the roof of a glassed in stairwell that ran the height of the building. January set down upon its white concrete roof, and waited for the others to land as well. Then she stretched out with her magic. The pentacle hidden within the cement below glowed to brilliant life in answer, it smelled her blood, and unfolded space under her magical touch.

As she had numerous times now, she flipped through the rolodex of the waypoints Blood Raven had inscribed into the teleportation network. Then she had the rune she was looking for. January had never been there before, but she could clearly sense that its location was directly beneath the penthouse of the Raven's Nest. She imagined that it must be hundreds of feet below the earth, given the great vertical distance between the two.

She focused her will upon that site, and brought it to the fore of the index. The magic inscribed within the rune connected it to the waypoint that she currently stood upon. For an instant both existed in the same place and time as one another. Then she allowed the magic to subside, and looked around at her new surroundings.


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Acadian
post Yesterday, 12:18 AM
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You were right. Getting rid of that pesky flail is going to a challenge. Gotta locate it first.

Taking Bill to a safe room at the nest is a great idea from Cray. Not surprisingly, Sunita objects. Lighthammer’s response was brilliant and readily gained her acquiescence. . . though I knew she’d insist on coming along. Good call on Gadget’s part to render her phone ‘safe for hanging with supers’.

Once again, you show us how neat Blood Raven’s wayshrine network is. I love that it’s attuned to her blood – and therefore Stormcrow’s as well.

I hope they don’t have to beat the crap out of subdue the Dogman too many more times before they can sort out how to deal with that mysterious flail.


Nit: "How she can just summon them to her, and then make then [them] vanish when she no longer needs them. …’


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Renee
post Yesterday, 03:50 PM
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Correct, the dog star, Sirius.

Ah, so that's a bit more snow we got in Maryland back in those days, not piles of snow like we've heard. So it's sort of like the giant catfish the size of cars, living in the Great Lakes; another myth busted. Still, y'all get more than we do. I'll take it! (though plenty of Marylanders disagree...)

I am definitely the first camp; That's me, running away! panic.gif In the Bethesda forums whenever a thread came up saying "What would u do if u were in cryodil?" my answer was always "I'd go hide in whatever city is nearest, and never leave!" My characters are the ones who've got all the bravery.

QUOTE
The legal fallout of being the Dogman will be addressed at the very end of this book


I bet it will. See, because there currently wouldn't be much on the books: clear ways to prosecute him, that is. How do you prosecute a monster who's based within a human? If he were simply a monster at all times, that's easy. But he's also a person. And on the defense side, I guess his lawyer(s) could go for an Insanity defense, that comes closest, but it goes further than that, because it's not that he's not in his right mind when he becomes the dog, he's not even IN his mind at the time. 🐕‍🦺 Only if it's proven that he's willfully causing himself to change into Dogman. Doesn't sound like he knows what's happening, though.

Assuming all of that get ironed out, the guy gets charged, how would sentencing work? Think about that for a moment. Let's say it's proven he knows he's changing into Dogman. Does this mean he changes over with the intent of murdering someone specific (First Degree)? Or is this more of a random thing (second or third degree)? Etc. etc.

Pretty sure there have been cases which used multiple personalities as a defense successfully. Hmm. Hopefully they won't have to face prosecution which takes a more dogmatic approach. tongue.gif Alright, enough.

The CIA would want a piece of Dogman, along with a bunch of other agencies like DoD. They want to discreetly lock the guy up perhaps, so they can study ways to enhance our military.

.... looks like Clavier's also looking at things through the legal lens. cool.gif Hey, it's fun mental exercising to speculate.

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Uh oh, here comes Sunita. Ah, okay, so the flail he was toting might've been the cause of all this. Wouldn't that be something? -- Dang. Sunita really doesn't know. blink.gif She's totally in the dark about her man. I bet if she really thought about it though, there'd be all sorts of questions in her mind. Times he disappeared which never got explained, and so on.

QUOTE
she imagined that he was quite handsome. She would have to ask Avery about that later. He would know.


So true! laugh.gif It's hard sometimes to predict sometimes whether someone's regarded as hot or handsome or whatever, if we're the opposite sex.

That's awesome. Gadget disables the phone's GPS like the rest of us would prepare a cup of coffee, like he's done it a zillion times.

The hospital's green roof sounds neat. Unexpected. Like Central Park in the middle of NYC.

Off they go to Raven's Nest. I bet Sunita's head is spinning.

This post has been edited by Renee: Yesterday, 03:58 PM


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