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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
SubRosa
post Oct 5 2019, 04:27 PM
Post #101


Ancient
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From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: The old man certainly does not seem like an arch nemesis does he? We will learn more about him this episode, and January will unconsciously begin defining her Stormcrow Doctrine.


Renee: January and Lighthammer are not part of an official team or anything. They are just training with each other, each for their own agenda. In fact, LH did try to recruit January for a mission, and she turned him down.

We will see a lot more of the old man this episode, and find out if he is smooth, or just does not give a damn anymore.

I really do not have any plans for using the African Goddess again. But hey, you never know.


treydog: Wow, thank you for that info on Beatrice. When I was writing the chapter I did a search and could not find anything about the building. There are just too many Beatrices in the world. But once I realized it was a food company, then it came right up on Google. I even found an urban explorer's blog post about the building.

I see you caught all the things I had floating in my mind when I was writing. Numidium, Archie and Jughead, etc... laugh.gif


Darkness Eternal: Like I said to Renee, I did not really have any plans on using the African Goddess again after that one scene. But given that she is so popular, who knows?

I am glad the battered but enduring spirit of Detroit is showing through in the story. This city has character, a lot of it not good, but character nonetheless.

Avery has all the cool that January lacks. He is a lot of fun to write. He is that friend you wish you had IRL. But as the scene with his Nana shows, his life is not all that great either.






Faraday Cage

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Roman Pugio




Chapter 2.12 - Stormcrow Recycled

"Are you getting all of this Gadget?" January said under her breath. Her friend had been strangely silent ever since she had entered the lair. Her eyes travelled back to the copper lattice that surrounded the room, and suddenly she understood why.

"Yes, it's a Faraday Cage," the old man crowed. "No signals go in or out, except those I want to."

"That's pretty clever old timer," January said. She kept one eye on the Face-Bot - Archimedes. He floated in the air behind the old man now, still throwing out sparks from his face and the top of his head. The deadly robot looked like nothing so much as a scared puppy now. January was not sure if that should make her feel proud, or ashamed?

"What are you, the Fred Sanford of supervillains?" January looked at the mountain of junk around the old man.

"I am no joke!" The old man exploded. He hurled the wrench he was holding down to the concrete for emphasis. Then he kicked at a pile of junk, and his face screwed up in pain. He reached down to massage his toes, and plopped down on a long bench car seat that was draped with wiring.

That brought a pang of sympathy to January's heart. Even when he tried to make an impassioned declaration, it just turned out to make him look the fool. She could relate.

"Oh who am I kidding," he sighed. "My whole life is nothing but a joke. The wife left me and moved to Connecticut. My kids grew up and they left too, for California. Everyone just can't wait to get as far away from me as possible. Everything I've ever done, all I have ever been, it's all garbage. All I've ever done is take old junk and turn it into new junk."

"For once in my life I just wanted to make something that wasn't junk," he lamented. "Something that people would respect. Something that was real."

"I'm sorry to hear that old timer."

He hardly looked like a master criminal at all. Now that she was up close and personal, he was just a man. Just a frail, old, ordinary man whom life had apparently taken a giant dump all over. January realized that she might be allowing her own past to cloud her judgment. But she could not sense any menace or subterfuge in the old man. He just looked sad and alone, something she could relate with all too well.

January sat down beside him on the long car seat. Maybe she could resolve this without any more punching? She hoped so. Once again, she wished she had invested more experience points in her Speech skill.

"I know what it's like to feel that you are nothing but garbage," she related. All she could do was be honest, and hope for the best. "That your entire life is just a bad joke."

"You don't look like no one to complain, cute little white girl like you." The old man's eyebrows drew together like twin beetles perched above his tired eyes.

"I wish." January reached into one of the pouches on her utility belt and pulled out her Galaxy J1. "I can't even afford a real phone. See this? $50, and that was years ago. My tablet was half that, and I had to wait for it to go on sale. My book reader is freeware. I couldn't even afford to buy the books I have to do reports on. I have to download them from open-source sites."

January turned on her phone and swiped it open. She opened her book reader app, and showed him her copy of Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus.

"Mary Shelley died two hundred years ago, so it's completely legal," January explained.

Now it was time for some real honesty. January pretended she was twelve, and back in the psychiatrist's office.

"Sometimes I feel like she was writing this book about me. She just didn't know it."

"Is that how you feel?" he said softly. "Like Frankenstein?"

"Like his monster." January said. "Frankenstein was the doctor who created him. Everyone mixes that up. But yeah, that's who I relate to. Not the protagonist, but the villain. That's what everyone says I am."

"Are you kidding?" the old man scoffed. "Even in here I've heard of the Stormcrow. You stopped that blood diamond guy. I heard he went up for twenty years. Plus all those other guys he was bribing."

"That's not what I mean." January shook her head. "This armor, it's not the real me. Underneath, I don't know what I am. I just know I wasn't born right. This body of mine, it feels like garbage. Someone else's cast off. It feels like some thief sneaked in one night and stole my real body, and left me this crap instead. It's not who I'm supposed to be. I don't know if I'll ever be the real me."

"Sounds like you got some serious issues missy, for someone so young," the old man said.

"You have no idea old man... A life does not have to be long to be filled with horror and loathing," January mourned. "But look at you. Why are you so down? I can't believe the things you can do with this stuff."

"With this junk!" he slapped a hand down on the car seat, and pile of screws and pipes clattered to the floor. "My whole life has been garbage."

"I think it looks great," January admitted. "Sure, people threw this stuff out. But what you've done with it, this is magic. You know that you're a meta, don't you? These things you've done, they're beyond everyday science and engineering. You built what, two new trucks out of scrap. You remote controlled them across town. Or did they drive themselves? You built that flying Archimedes thing. No, you birthed it, because it's alive. It thinks, it feels. He thinks, and feels."

"I think you're great," January said, still being honest. "And I think taking old junk, and turning it into something new again, something useful, that works, is nothing to sneeze at. Not to get preachy and all, but have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It's bigger than Texas now. We - as in we as a people - need to do something about all this garbage we create. You are already there!"

"Shit, I ain't doing nothing," the old man said. "I've seen your type. You're just another naive little idealist. Wait 'till you get a breath of the real world."

January pulled down the sleeve of her armor, and revealed the upraised scars that crossed her wrist. Then she switched hands, and did the same with the other arm.

"This real enough for you," January frowned. "My dad had a Roman dagger. This big, thick beast called pugio. He used to be a reenactor. I did that on my twelfth birthday, because I could not live with the world I was trapped in. Idealism isn't something I suffer from. It's realism. I am trapped by the horror of reality. I see it every day when I look in the mirror."

"What's so bad it made you do that?" the old man stared at the scars.

"Life," January replied. "I see a lot of doctors claim that women who attempt suicide are just crying out for help. I want to smash their teeth in. People attempt suicide because the pain of living has become too much to bear."

"So how did you go from that, to this?" the old man gestured to the cape and cowl that she wore.

"You mean besides all the head doctors?" January said. "I had to do physical therapy afterward, because I had cut some of the tendons in my left wrist. That was the side I started cutting into first, so those were the deepest wounds. I could barely hold the knife after I switched hands, so I didn't cut as deep into my right wrist. But for the left, I spent months learning to move some of my fingers again. It taught me that no matter how painful it was, I could change my life after all. I could face the pain, and the ugliness. That's what I've been doing ever since."

"That's why I think you can do something with this gift you have. You could go into business. You can take this junk and build things. I mean real, working things. Cars, trucks, tractors, you name it. You could sell it. It's meta-tech, so you can't churn it on an assembly line, and no one else can replicate it. You have to do it all by hand, yourself, like an artist. Because you are an artist really. It works because you make it work. But you can do it. You don't need to steal stuff. You can change your life."

"Is this the part where you are trying to convince me to use my powers for good?" the old man sneered.

"Well, yeah. In spite of the obvious age, and gender, and racial differences between us, I thought we were having a moment here," January said. "If that's not enough, look at it this way. If I tracked you here, it is only a matter of time before the police do too. It takes a while, but they do eventually get off their fundamental support structures and do their jobs. You stole a ton of titanium back there. That must cost... I dunno, a lot. That company's insurance is going to be looking for it, which means the police are going to be looking for it. That much money, they will find you. What is your master plan, build a giant mecha and stomp on the cops when they finally do show up?"

"The thought had crossed my mind," the old man crossed his arms.

"Then what?" January said. "I mean, pretend I am not here at all to stop you. What's your endgame? Take on Blood Raven next? The Sentinels? In no world does this turn out a win for Fred Sanford in the end."

"I just want some respect!" he leaped to his feet and paced across the room. "For once in my life, I want to be somebody, even if just for a few minutes."

"Going out in a blaze of glory is not going to earn anyone's respect," January contended. She showed him her scars again. "Learn from my mistakes. A suicide run is not the answer. It is never the answer."

"What you are doing here already, this is the answer," January waved to Archimedes and the man-bots for emphasis. "Not Mechagodzilla, but what you did to create it. You have been so focused on your endgame, that you don't see what it took to get you there. That's the real accomplishment, and that is worthy of anyone's respect."

"I've a got a friend who I know is just dying to meet you. He's got a basement that's not even half, not even a tenth, of what you've got here. Look at this, you've turned junk into awesome. You know what, you give me hope. If you can do this with a few old pipes and wires, maybe I can turn the junk of my life into something good too."

"My name is Isaac," he grumbled.

"Well ok then Isaac," January said. "A different friend of mine tells me that I remind him of a Tarot card: the Five of Cups. It's a picture of a man looking at three knocked over cups. But standing behind him are two more cups, still upright, and filled to the brim. It's someone that can only see the bad things in life, what he has lost. But he does not see the good things, because he's turned his back on them."

"I think you're the same way Isaac," January rose to her feet. She gestured to Archimedes once more, who still bobbed nervously in the air near the old inventor. "I think you have done plenty of good in your life. You have created amazing things. It's time you turned and looked at it all. Not as a means to an end, but as the end itself. You don't need to go on a giant robot rampage to make your mark on the world, or have a life worth living. You've made it already."

"Hmmm," the old man seemed to chew on his lip, like a cow chewing its cud. "Maybe I did."

"Our lives are all subjective," January said. "We see them though a glass that distorts everything, according to our own unconscious hopes and fears and desires and agonies. That's why some people see only the empty cups, and some see the full ones instead."

"We all learn different lessons from the same events," January went on. "Where rehabbing my hand taught me that I could persevere though anything, someone else might just have easily saw that as proof that they could never change anything in life. That they were helpless under the inexorable tide of fate. I was stupid for letting myself wallow in my misery for so long that it took something like that to finally wake me up and get my rear into gear. I should have been taking action and turning my life around a lot sooner. My friend Gadget says that sometimes I can be as stubborn as a Mountain Dwarf."

"Now I'm trying to imagine you with a beard and an axe, like Gimli." Isaac smiled wanly. "What? Don't look at me that way. The Lord of the Rings is the same age I am. I read it when I was little."

January tried to imagine the old man as a child. She suspected that it must have been difficult growing up, with all the dinosaurs roaming the earth in that antediluvian epoch.

"Anyway," she said. "What I am trying to say is that we control our own emotions. They come from us. No one can make us happy or sad, or angry or afraid. We conjure these things up in ourselves."

"Try reading any comments section on the internet," Isaac breathed. "That'll make you angry and sad real quick."

"Only if you let it," January contended. "There will always be trolls. We don't have to fall to their level. Remember Frankenstein. Well, the creature. See, now I'm doing it too. He started out pure, compassionate, loving. But he allowed the evils of the world to bring him down to their level. By the end of the book, he really was the monster people treated him as. He even says to Victor: 'I ought to be thy Adam, I am rather the fallen angel'. Don't let that happen to you. Rise above everyone else."

"Besides, the best revenge is living well," January added with a smile. "If you want to get back at your ex, go out and bang someone who is hotter, and put it all over social media."

"Ha!" Isaac chuckled. It was a real, honest sound that rose up from deep in the belly, and shook loose from his throat like a cat leaping free of the hapless owner who tried to pick it up. "My banging days are long over missy."

"You never know until you try," January said. "If nothing else, you can whip up some self-driving cars, or start a robot lawn-care service, or sell some of those video jammers. My friend Gadget can point you in the right direction. There's a whole community of people online who build meta-tech and sell it. I bet in a year or two's time, you'll be living in a palace. Snap out some pics of you sitting on your golden toilet and see who's jealous then."

"Golden toilet?" Isaac rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "You might be on to something girlie. Tell me about this friend of yours."

"Open up your Faraday firewall and you can talk to him yourself." January nodded to the garbage truck. "But first how about we take that titanium - and the other metals - back before the cops get off their doughnut break?"


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Acadian
post Oct 5 2019, 08:17 PM
Post #102


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’…she wished she had invested more experience points in her Speech skill.’
- - Based on Janurary’s performance in talking Fred Sanford of Supervillains – I mean Isaac – down from his garbotech-fueled plans of mayhem, I’d say her speechcraft is just fine! All without a single additional punch. tongue.gif

Nice job of bringing out the fears, feelings and concerns of both Isaac and January here.

I can certainly imagine some long conversations between Isaac and Gadget. Holy recycled tin can, Batman Stormcrow!

Oh, and I am only, with this episode, cluing in on the significance of the chapter's title.


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Renee
post Oct 7 2019, 07:06 PM
Post #103


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Oh, I don't want to influence your story, hon. African Goddess has her own life.

smile.gif Hey, Jan's Galaxy 11 blows away my Nokia flip-phone. laugh.gif I won't give it up though. 8 years old, damn thing still works.

Jan explaining how she feels to Fred Sanford brought a tear to my eye, for real. Because if people just sat down and talked more often... you know?

I wonder if he's related to Avery at all?

Yes, Five of Cups. Been awhile since I've read cards, but I know that one well. The typical version, at least. Somebody who's given up, basically, and doesn't want to continue because of disappointment, even if there could be good things still to seek.


This post has been edited by Renee: Oct 7 2019, 09:22 PM
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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 8 2019, 12:06 AM
Post #104


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Chapter 2.4:Honestly if I had a super-silent Gadget-modified bike, I'd be stoked to get out of class just to ride it, too. And probably get pop-quizzed by the teacher along the way like Jan was. And boy, she delivers. I'd give her an A++ just for that. Shelley's work was enough to give us an understanding of both monster and creator, with Jan relating more to Frakenstein's creation. In a nasty world where people are judged by their many differences, Jan fits among among those disliked and otherwise judged by society. I was glad she shared this with her class.

I LOVE flashbacks. Jan's memories were of her martial arts class were great. This was one of my favorite chapters so far! goodjob.gif

Chapter 2.5: I got a kick out of Jan trying to get her phone while changing. laugh.gif

"So you didn't crash the bike?"
Ha, the way he assumed she somehow wrecked it tongue.gif

The exchange between Avery/Gadget and Jan/Stormcrow is superb, as always. Ah, some detective work. Missing rare metals are always a cause for concern, and it looks like titanium might be next on that list.

Stakeouts aren't as fun as the movies make it seem. I'm sure there's time skips all the time, heh, otherwise we'd be bored out of our minds like Jan.

"That is a really cool costume," the clerk said as he rang her up. "That's Stormcrow right, the new hero? You make that yourself?"
This part had me laughing. I totally thought about Spiderman 2 when Peter/Spidey is in the elevator, and tells the man next to him that it rides up on the crotch a little bit laugh.gif laugh.gif


2.6: Ah, so after a lengthy wait we finally see who's behind this mess: some new mechanical menace? These robo-minions do not play, do they? They made it plainly obvious they're the baddies here.

"Well hello there."
Ewan McGregor would approve!

A tense fight between Jan and the Robandits. By their fighting style alone, Jan was able to discern what caste these guys were. No doubt Face-Bot was the prize.

He's a capable and dangerous fighter, and his laser beams can do some damage. Her gymnastics and of course Lighthammer's instructions served her well here as she took to flight in hot pursuit.

While he may have made a run for it, she still saved the day and foiled the robbery. Jan's kicking some real ass lately cool.gif

This was intense!

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Oct 8 2019, 12:06 AM


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And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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SubRosa
post Oct 12 2019, 05:03 PM
Post #105


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Acadian: I really liked that last episode for a lot of reasons. As you pointed out, it was an opportunity to get deep into what drives both Fred Sanford Isaac and January, in a way that is showing, not telling.

Isaac and Gadget will be collaborating in the very near future. I also see Isaac and Archie turning up in true garbotech style when January faces down the Big Bad in the overall story arc I have envisioned. Along with other supers whom January co-opts to her cause. She is not just talking down villains. She is making valuable allies.

We are finally really seeing the Recycling are we not? Though Jan's Crowbike is another example of the theme of turning junk into awesome as well.


Renee: A flip phone! ohmy.gif Now you having me thinking of those Nokia phones that Mulder and Scully use in the X-Files. But I think those were before flip-phones even existed.

I liked this chapter because it ends with January solving the problem of a supervillain on the loose without a big fight. Instead she talks him down and helps him see that he has things to live for, rather than going on a suicidal mecha rampage. We don't see enough of that in any form of fiction.

Isaac is no relation to Avery. I have not gotten into Avery's father yet. But I eventually will when I find the right place for it. But then again, I suppose Isaac is old enough to be his grandfather. But I don't think so on that score either.


Darkness Eternal: I wish I had a Gadget-infused superbike! The silence is actually a RL effect of an electric engine. I watched some vids of electric bikes like the Victory and was blown away at how quiet they are. The only sound is that of the chain turning and the road under the tires. Much nicer than the gasoline versions!

I watched all the Toby McGuire Spider movies recently, so I remember that elevator scene. It is always funny when a writer takes a superhero out of their natural element (punching things), and puts them in ordinary life. I was just reading a Batgirl yesterday where she had to take the Subway, and while she was sitting there waiting for the train people thought she was homeless and gave her money.

I am glad someone caught the Star Wars reference! I seeded a few easter eggs like that in the story.

I liked writing that fist battle between the Crow and the Face-Bot. I live a mile away from the metal shop and gas station it takes place at. I pass it all the time coming and going to work.






Plus ça change


Chapter 2.13 - Stormcrow Recycled


"This is Trooper Mercado."

"Um, hi trooper," January found herself fumbling for words. She had rehearsed this call in her head for nearly an hour. So naturally her mind went completely blank as soon as she heard the Puerto Rican woman's voice on the phone. "Um, Mercado, Emilia. It's Stormcrow."

"I guess that explains why my caller ID is suddenly not working," the State Trooper said. January could not tell if her voice sounded amused, or angry, or just resigned. "If you're asking me out, I'm afraid I'm a little old for you."

"Oh no, I wouldn't do that!" January exclaimed. A thirty year old? Yeeech! That would be like dating a mummy! Then she realized what she had said. "I mean, because it would be very unprofessional, and I am a very professional person."

"Yes, a very professional lesbian superhero." Now the other woman's voice did sound amused. "I read it all over Twitt and Instantgram. Did you really tell that gas station attendant you were gay?"

"Well it might have slipped out," January closed her eyes. Why was her sexual orientation bigger news than Middle Eastern countries at war? Reddot had practically melted over it. "He was hitting on me, and it got him to leave me alone. Never mind the fact that it's true."

"Well, a lot of people admire you for that," the state trooper said.

"And a lot of people hate me for that too," January replied. "Plus ça change…"

"…The more they stay the same," Emilia finished the saying, "don't I know it. So if you are not calling me for a hook-up, and not for PR advice..."

"Oh, I have a present for you," January said. "Well, not exactly a present. I recovered some stolen goods that I thought an officer of the law might be interested in taking charge of."

"Stolen goods?"

"Oh, some iridium, some zirconium, and about a ton of titanium," January said. "It's in an abandoned lot by the Packard Plant. Bring a truck."

* * *

January knocked twice on Avery's back door, then opened it and let herself in. His mother was gone, as usual. That left only him and his grandmother at home. Still, January was surprised to find her in the kitchen drinking a strawberry Ensure and doing a crossword puzzle. Usually she was in the living room watching TV, or sleeping in her bedroom.

"Nana Green!" she cried, "it's good to see you." January held her motorcycle helmet in one hand, and smoothed her hair down with the other.

"Gatsby's neighbor," the old woman's voice creaked out, "eight letters."

"Carraway," January answered easily, "Nick Carraway, he's the point of view character in the book."

The old woman harumphed, and wrote that down in her puzzle. January smiled, and made her way down the basement stairs. She found Avery rising from his computer palace. The taller black man grinned as she approached, and gave her an actual high-five in celebration.

"You did good today Jan," he breathed, "real good. I think you saved Isaac's life. And who knows how many other people's, if he had really gone through with his rampage plan."

"So is everything taken care of?" January allowed herself a moment to smile. Then her brain was all cape again. "The cops won't be a problem?"

"It seems what little evidence they had gathered vanished from their network," Avery crowed. "Looks like corrupted data from a few bad disk sectors, terrible shame. But that happens."

"They just don't make hard drives like they used to." January made a show of shaking her head. "Tell me we are doing the right thing, covering for Isaac? This won't come back to bite us in the future?"

"Well, no one can see the future," Avery shrugged. "Well, except Tick Tock. But even he can only see a few seconds ahead. But after talking to Isaac, I believe him. I don't think he was ever a bad guy. I think he was just in a bad patch, and there was no one there to help him when he needed it."

January looked down at the scars that crisscrossed her wrists. She knew all about bad patches, and bad decisions. She looked back up, to the practically angelic face of Avery. Thank Freyja he had been there when she needed it.

"But just in case, I did set up a couple of drones to keep an eye on his place," Avery said. "I have some bots set up to scan for tech robberies committed by robots as well. I'm not Stupid Good after all."

"Hopefully we won't need either," January said.

"Hopefully," Avery said. "In the meantime I'm going over there tomorrow. Isaac had an idea about building some cars, and I'm going to show him how I did that cold fusion reactor for the Geo."


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Renee
post Oct 12 2019, 09:51 PM
Post #106


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Yes, People look at me funny sometimes irl. I'm not into smartphones. All I need are talk & text. I can actually type messages to people without looking at the keys!

QUOTE
I liked this chapter because it ends with January solving the problem of a supervillain on the loose without a big fight.


She used her Speechcraft skill. wink.gif It also helped that Isaac told his FaceBot to stand down too.

Nice. I hope Stormcrow can pull this off without (1) getting Isaac in trouble, and (2) keeping herself out of trouble. Because I assume, well.... I assume Isaac won't be around pretty soon, nor will all his bots? Guess we'll find out, next week, on The Stormcrow!!!

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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 15 2019, 01:19 AM
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2.7: Great episode!

Oh, wow. I had no idea about the bottle bills. Interesting.

Jan discomfort continues as she struggled to get into contact with Gadget. I liked her thoughts and concerns about law enforcement showing up. Typically they turn a blind eye to Supers beating up the baddies, but as far as property and, well, homicide, that's a no-no. Makes sense why the officer was a bit on edge talking to her.

Nit:
"hard way of standing that always made her think of the Army(.)
There's a period missing in this part smile.gif

"And I sold her a Pepsi..." the clerk added.

Heh. No doubt she was exhausted after repeating herself a million times to those officers.

January wondered if the reinforcements made him feel safer around her, or if he just finally trusted her.
I LOVED this small detail here. Great observation by her.

One asked if she was single. The clerk told the questioner that she was a lesbian. Obviously they did not know she was trans.
laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif

This was a great and fun chapter as she and the cops and fire-fighters clean up the mess from the battle.


2.8: There's plenty to be said about this chapter, from Avery being glad Jan is alright, to her good sneak skills. But the family issues here hit home. We discover her father's terrible secret and way of making such an income. I truly felt sorry for Jan as she had to hear her father's toxic words about her, and blatant favoritism toward her brother. Using her former name must set her over the edge. I would be livid in her shoes.

That last part of the argument was so terrible.

I'm happy Avery was there for her, and I sympathize in her desire to move out of her house. The atmosphere being so uncomfortable that she was willing to set back her plans for her surgery.

2.9:
I'd be getting the names confused too. They're eerily similar. Far easier to remember Willy Wonka, too.

I'm eager to meet BloodRaven. Can't wait to officially see her. Here stands the test of every student hero that goes beyond pen and paper: fighting off crime, or staying in class? Jan aced this one pretty quick.

Broadsword and Danny Boy! These new call-signs are great, just as seeing her fly with the crows.

The assault on Global Titanium was action-packed. Looks like the Robo-Robbers have went through some updates. Unsurprisingly. At least this time when Avery was jammed, his communication was still okay. That's essential. We wouldn't want Jan to be uncomfortable.

Glad those folks she saved were okay. Once again, she proves to be the hero everyone needs!

Great work! cool.gif smile.gif



--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Oct 17 2019, 08:23 PM
Post #108


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From: Las Vegas



What a hoot of a phone call! You pretty much had me laughing from beginning to end here. Of course Gadget would have bypassed any caller id ability for her. Dating a thirty year old?!? Yeeech! rollinglaugh.gif Twitt, Intantgram and Reddot indeed!

At any rate, looks like Stormcrow talked Isaac into divesting his stolen metals.

Edit: Thanks for the additional goodness you added!

This post has been edited by Acadian: Oct 17 2019, 11:46 PM


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SubRosa
post Oct 17 2019, 11:11 PM
Post #109


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From: Between The Worlds



All: I can see that my original chapter ending left too much up in the air about Isaac. So I went back and added a little addendum to the previous episode. That should make it more clear where things stand with him and Archie. So on Saturday we can start a new chapter without any nagging uncertainties.


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Renee
post Oct 18 2019, 03:54 PM
Post #110


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Sometimes when I was younger I could be Chaotic Stupid at times. indifferent.gif

That'll be fun for the guys, talking shop over nuclear-powered econoboxes. smile.gif Sadly, I feel they'll never earn that Nobel prize.

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treydog
post Oct 18 2019, 07:00 PM
Post #111


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From: The Smoky Mountains



QUOTE
“What are you, the Fred Sanford of supervillains?"


That provoked a snortle.

QUOTE
Once again, she wished she had invested more experience points in her Speech skill.


And that one was a more rueful laugh, as it is a thought I have had more than twice.

If I tried to quote the “good parts” of Jan's conversation with Isaac, I would just copy and paste the whole thing. Wow.

And yeah- I held onto my LG Wine flip phone until earlier this year. The battery finally stopped holding a charge... And now I have a J3 with which I am trying to reach an amicable truce. sad.gif

Had to love her sudden nervousness when talking to Emilia.

More excellent story-telling and character-creation here. Just wonderful.


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SubRosa
post Oct 19 2019, 05:03 PM
Post #112


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Renee: I am glad for your comment, because it showed me that I left too many loose ends with my original ending. I remember writing it, and feeling that it ended on a high point, and that anything else I wrote would just drag it out and lose that feeling. But now I can see that it also conveys some feelings of uncertainties, which I don't want. So I was able to go back and fill things out to put those things to bed. We will have some mentions of Isaac and Archie in future chapters, including his new car company, but they won't appear proper for some time.

I originally used Lawful Stupid. But that seems to usually be used for people who ignore the good in favor of the law part of the title. So they kill starving people who steal bread. I needed something opposite, so I went with Stupid Good, which apparently is a thing too, just not used as often (sadly it is often regular slang for something that is really good, like a stupid good burger).


Darkness Eternal: It shocks me that all states do not have bottle refunds. It is just so ingrained in Michigan life. It is like divided roads and the Big Tire on I-94

Thanks for catching my Army period. I go over these episodes more than a dozen times before I post them. But I still manage to miss things here and there.

The whole bag of snakes with January's father (and brother) was not something I originally intended. I decided to go that way because I wanted there to be more conflict in her life outside of being a superhero. Also because it is Truth In Television, making it something that some readers will be able to personally identify with.

We are starting Chapter 3 today, and Blood Raven will feature highly in its second half. I am guessing she will start showing up in December's posts. After that, she will be a very regular character. Once I started writing her, she actually turned out a lot more awesome than originally intended.

Broadsword and Danny Boy are not really official call signs. They have their super names after all. That is what happens when the writer reads a Cthulhu Mythos story that is loosely based upon Where Eagles Dare, then watches the movie afterward. laugh.gif


Acadian: That phone call was meant to be a hoot! January may be a big, tough, superhero, but she is still as socially awkward as any teenager. The 30 year old bit was something that just screamed out at me about how youngins think. If you are 20, a 30 year old is ancient. If you are 30 the goal posts move, and now a 50 year old is ancient, and so on. I am glad I can still remember that, given my own antediluvian age.


treydog: I loved me some Sanford and Son with I was a little 'un. Isaac was actually inspired by a villain from the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel comics. He/it had a lair in a junkyard and was building killer robots off the spare parts. I went a much different way with Isaac's motivations and plans however.

I had to go back and rewrite some large parts of the Jan/Isaac conversation, as the original version just was not powerful enough. The parts about the tarot card were all later additions, and how Isaac had already made his mark in pursuit of his goal, and the repeated Frankenstein reference, all came in afterward when I realized the original just did not carry enough weight.

In the end I really loved it, because it really is a moment where January defines who and what she is. It is kind of the start of her formulating her own January Doctrine.






Macomb Community College classroom quad, library, and parking

Instagram Influencer

January's new Sedici Strada Carino helmet

January's Fight Two Steps From Hell song

2004 Mazda MX 5



Chapter 3.1 - Stormcrow Burning

May 25th - May 26th, 2019

January placed her final exam on her instructor's desk. A substantial pile had already accumulated there. But she did not feel bad for taking her time, and being one of the last students to finish. Creative Writing had been her favorite class of the semester. She wanted to end it on a high note. So she had put as much time and imagination as she could muster into the story for her Final Exam. It had been about the school itself gaining self-awareness, and the trials and tribulations it encountered while trying to live in a human world.

Her teacher smiled and gave her a nod as she walked past. Mr. Wirth had been one of her favorite instructors as well. A man as kindly as he was corpulent, he had a tendency to drone on about the old days, when there had been a sharp division between farm kids and city kids going to the local schools. Other students obviously found it boring, given how their eyes rolled once he got going. January supposed it was not nearly as interesting as what dress or lipstick the latest trendy Instantgram influencer was wearing. Instead she looked at it as a view through a time machine, a rare glimpse of a lost world, seen through his eyes when he was a child. She had no doubt that he would make his way into one of her stories someday.

A cluster of people waited just outside the door. January could not miss the stares and the curled lips. A few months ago someone had figured out that she was trans. The gossip had spread like lies during election season, as gossip was wont to do. She had noticed the very clear shift in behavior. The stares, first of bug-eyed astonishment, that soon turned to flinty contempt. The hushed conversations that turned dead silent whenever she came near. The muffled laughter when she walked away.

Some things, it seemed, would never change.

January stared back at them with even greater intensity. Her mind raced with all the possible moves and counters she might use against them in hand to hand. What she would do if one produced a gun. The full-faced motorcycle helmet the she carried loosely in one hand gave her even more options on that front, both in terms of attack and defense. It was not just childish fantasies. She was really plotting tactics in her head. It was something she had learned from Krav Maga. To always be aware of her surroundings, and be ready for danger.

The threat turned out to be non-existent, as it usually was in broad daylight and surrounded by other people. But she never knew when that might change. Especially these days, since she had become Stormcrow. More than ever before in her life, she had to be ready, for anything.

Still, she allowed herself to relax after moving through the pack. In a moment she was out of the building and in the cloister outside. It was tucked away within the quadrangle that formed the core of the college's classrooms. She lost herself in the stream of other students and teachers that flowed back and forth through the area. She made her way out of the quad and came out into the open. The library rose up ahead of her, with the parking lot down the slight hill beyond. In no time at all she walked down to a long line of motorcycles in the center of the lot. Hers was easy to find. It was the one with a crow sitting on the handlebars.

"And Gadget calls it a Stormcycle," January smiled. "I always knew it was the Crowbike."

January straddled the Victory Empulse. When it did not lean to the side to take her weight she remembered that it was still bonded to the asphalt below. Taking hold of the fob that dangled from the key, she clicked the button in it once. That disengaged the molecular adhesion emitter that Gadget had installed in the motorcycle. Now the bike leaned sideways as she toed up the kickstand and balanced it beneath her. January slid the key into the ignition and turned it on with a click. The crow on the bars looked back and cawed loudly at her. But he did not leave his perch.

January spared a glance up to the bright blue sky above. Sadly, there was no opportunity for flying now. Not with so many people around. Still, her armor was snugly tucked away under the fake gas tank bump. Just in case…

She took a few moments to tie her long, blonde hair into a simple braid. Then she pulled her Sedici Strada Carino helmet down over her head, and snugged up the chin strap. Its soft pink and black floral paint was scratched from hard use. The owner had insisted it had not been in a crash. But it certainly looked like it had scraped some pavement. That had worked in January's favor on Ebuy, as it had scared other bidders away and kept the price down. She of course could care less if it fell to pieces if she crashed. If it came down to a contest between her skull and concrete, the concrete would lose.

The crow remained ensconced upon her handlebars when she pulled away from the curb. The bike was nearly silent. Only a slight hum of power rose from its engine, while its slowly moving drive chain murmured a soft, metallic hymn. Other students stared as she drifted by them on the corvid-guided bike. It was not until she reached the street and really opened up the bike's fusion-powered engine that her crow friend finally took to the skies. He warbled a throaty goodbye, and January waved as the black bird departed.

The bike felt like an impatient beast between her legs, slavering for the opportunity to chew up the blacktop. She had to admit, she could not wait to turn it loose. She never would have guessed that she would become a lead foot. But one day on the back of the Victory had awakened a love of wind and speed within her. One only matched by the glory of flying.

She darted down Twelve Mile road, and had to restrain herself from weaving through the afternoon traffic. She had only just started driving, well riding anyway. The last thing she needed was a speeding ticket. She could only imagine what her insurance would look like then. As if being a nineteen year old was not bad enough on that account…

Still, traffic moved pretty well on Twelve Mile, as it usually did on a Saturday. It did not even slow down as she passed the General Motors Technical Center. Usually that place was like Gadget's adhesive emitter. Everything ground to a snail's pace around it. But it was the weekend, so GM's engineers had the day off, and the roads were open.

By the time January turned left onto Dequindre she was smiling, and humming along to a Two Steps From Hell song. She was going to have to figure out how to listen to music while riding. Maybe she could use wireless earbuds and her phone? Given how quickly its battery died, that might not work so well however.

In no time at all she had turned onto her road, and slowed to make her way down the residential street. She frowned as she pulled up into the driveway of her house. She used to look forward to going home. But that was before she heard what her father really thought of her. She noted that his Equinox was parked in the driveway, as was her mother's Mini Cooper. Worse of all was the fifteen-year-old Mazda MX-5 parked out front, red as the blood of a fresh victim. That meant her brother was home from U of M. Wonderful.

The sky had darkened from soft blue to slate gray by the time she threaded her bike through the cars and rolled up to the back patio. They didn't have a garage, and with only the front half of the driveway paved with concrete, the patio was the only place she could glue down her bike to something solid. She shut off the Victory and locked it down there with Gadget's adhesive wave emitter.

Hefting her school backpack over her shoulder, she walked in the back door. She found her mother in the kitchen. A pot of water was simmering on the stove, and a box of spaghetti stood on the counter beside it, along with mushrooms, hamburger, and a can of sauce. January did not have to be a detective to guess what was for dinner.

"Honey, I'm glad your back," her mother said in the sad, resigned voice that had become her normal for this past week. "We need to talk."

January fought down the frown that wanted to drag down the corners of her mouth. She followed her mother's gesture and sat down beside her at the kitchen table.

"There's no easy way to put this," she began. "I filed for a divorce from your father. I am going to be moving back in with your grandma Sarah in Livonia. It's just temporary, until I find a house or apartment in Warren. I have to live here for my job at the library. I'd like you to come with me."

"I'm looking for a place of my own right now." January's stomach flopped like a dying fish trapped on shore. She did not know why it affected her so. She had certainly seen it coming ever since she had overheard the argument. She had even been planning to move out since then, and had looked at some apartments already.

But this was final. It felt like the stone lid of a sarcophagus grinding shut over her past life. What would her future be? Who would be in it?

"If I don't find something by the time you move, I'll go with you," January continued. She could not stay in this house anymore. Here, it felt like she was sealed away in that sarcophagus already.

"Good," her mother smiled weakly, and laid a warm hand over one of January's.

"I hope you understand that I did not want any of this. To be honest, I don't think your father did either." A sour look crossed the red-haired woman's features at the mention of him. Then it cleared as she continued. "But this cannot go on. This environment is toxic, to all of us, and there is no fixing it. And I realize I am as much at fault as anyone else."

"I think we all need a fresh start," the older woman went on. "All of us. You need to think about your future. I know this only makes things more difficult. But I promise you, I will do everything I can for you. For school, and for surgery. But I also need to think about myself, what I am doing with my life, and where I should go next. I've lost sight of that over the years. I need to get it back."

January gaped, again, feeling like a fish flopping around on dry land, just inches away from water, and safety. She rose and put her arms around her mother, and held her tight.

"I love you mom," she finally croaked. "I always will."

"So are you staying for dinner?" her mother asked after finally pulling away.

"No, we're going to eat at Hart Plaza," January shook her head. "Everyone is probably waiting for me. I just need to put my books away and change before I head back out again."

"Oh, how was your last day of the semester?" her mother asked. "Did your Finals go well?"

"I hope so," January crossed her fingers. "I'm not sure about my Psych class, but I know Creative Writing and English were a snap."

"One day I'll be putting your books up on the stacks," her mother smiled, and turned back to the spaghetti in the making.

January smiled back at that. She certainly hoped so.

She rounded through the empty living room, and noticed that the door to her father's office was shut, but light gleamed through from underneath the threshold. She frowned, and continued on to the stairs up to the second floor. She took them two at time. There was no time to waste.

Once above, she spared only a glance down the hall toward her brother's open door, across the upper floor from her own. She saw his back, hunched over his desk, one hand cupped against the side of his head. Then she turned away. He was the last person she wanted to deal with today. Well, the second to last.

Bustling through her room, she nudged the door shut with her toe. She tossed her school backpack into one corner. Then she quickly pulled off her school clothes and threw them on the bed.

Last year people had been wearing bikinis and daisy dukes at the festival. She was not going to be left out looking frumpy in cargo pants and a tee again. She changed into a white tank top with spaghetti straps, and a peach mini skirt. She passed over her shoes with heels, and settled on a pair of strappy flats. She was going to be on her feet all night after all. Looking good did not mean forgoing comfort.

She was about to turn back around when she remembered that it sometimes got cold by the river. So she went back to her closet and fished out a long-sleeved top and tied the arms around her waist. One of the perks to being a girl was that one could always rely upon a knight in shining armor to lend you his jacket. But she didn't want to be that girl, who was always dependent upon someone else.

She glanced over at the bangles and bracelets stacked up on her dresser. She usually wore long sleeves. But the tank top would leave her arms bare. She glanced down at her wrists, and the raised white scars that marred each. She turned her back on the bracelets and other cheap jewelry. She was tired of camouflaging her past mistakes. Let everyone see her for who she really was, scars and all.

She slung her purse over one shoulder and headed back out, only to find her brother waiting for her in the hall. He towered over her, standing over six feet, blond hair a golden wreath around his head.

"Are you happy?" Julian sneered. His voice dripped with poison. It reminded January of the serpent hovering over Loki's bound form during his punishment by the gods. "Mom and dad are getting divorced because of you."

"No, they're getting divorced because your father is a liar who would rather hide behind transphobia than take responsibility for his own life." January seethed in reply. "In your case, it's obvious that the road apple didn't fall far from the horse's ass."

"Ad hominem attacks," her brother scoffed. "It shows you lost the argument at the very start."

"Stating the facts is not a personal attack," January insisted. "It's just acknowledging reality. Something creatures like you are too afraid to ever do. You hide behind your bigotries like a security blanket. Anything to keep from manning up and taking ownership of your lives."

"Me? I haven't done anything." Julian snickered.

"This is all about you, and your vanity," January contended. "Everything has to always be all about you, doesn't it? But you got sloppy. You left those checks for your tuition and books out for me to see on purpose, didn't you? You just couldn't resist rubbing my face in it, could you? To show how you were daddy's favorite? How you were so special? How you were so worthy of all that money, and I wasn't?"

"Our parents are getting divorced because my mother finally found out what frakwits you and your father really are."

"My father has morals is all," Julian sneered. "Something a perverted sissy like you would never understand. You're just as bad as that fairy friend of yours, the porch mon-"

The moment the invective turned to Avery, something inside January snapped. Julian must have seen it in her eyes, because he immediately backed away. No, he fled. He slammed his bedroom door in her face just before her fist could take his head off. She heard the lock clack shut, and turned her gaze down to look at it. Taking the door knob in one hand, she twisted it, and pushed it in. She heard metal grind, as the pins and cylinders of the locking mechanism inside the knob twisted, deformed, and crushed into and through one another.

January smiled in spite of herself. If he wanted to hide in his room, he could stay there forever. That handle would never open again. He would have to take the door off the hinges, a feat January doubted he possessed the mechanical skill to accomplish. Or he would have to climb out the window and go out on the roof. She smiled even more broadly, and locked the window in the hall. Then she went back into her own room and immediately locked the window there as well. He would not be getting back inside either way.


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Renee
post Oct 20 2019, 02:51 AM
Post #113


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From: Ellicott City, Maryland



Nice, she's back in school! smile.gif I love that despite everything she's doing, she's also staying in school.

Yes I agree. I'd want to hear the teacher's tales about the way things were, too.

Oh crap. Dang, I knew this was coming eventually, that they'd have a problem with who she is. Let me come back to this story later. I just couldn't resist a peek, for now.

QUOTE
Her mind raced with all the possible moves and counters she might use against them in hand to hand.


Sucks that she has to think this way. I get it though. A lot of ppl have issues with sexual identity, yet when someone actually goes ahead and does something about their own body, all the sudden these people look to him or her and start to judge. Like it's any of their business. mad.gif Hopefully in the future there won't be all these judgements & worries. I feel like if Jan lived down near where I do, she wouldn't be getting judged by general society. Overall.

I mean, for instance, among my daughter's school for instance, I feel like a lot of students (all her friends definitely) will grow up with more open-minds than my generation did. Sure, there'll be that group of jocks or whatever who will deride that lone trans person who'll be in their college or whatever, but it'll get to the point that they won't be able to make these derisive comments openly, anymore. Things are changing. Maybe not fast enough for January's everyday life, but they are changing overall.

QUOTE
That disengaged the molecular adhesion emitter that Gadget had installed in the motorcycle.


laugh.gif

Oh good, her mom is divorcing. I mean, that's not really "good", it's sad. But it's necessary.

This post has been edited by Renee: Yesterday, 06:06 PM
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Acadian
post Oct 20 2019, 06:22 PM
Post #114


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Some epic music to begin this new and third chapter. Hard to beat Two Steps from Hell.

Nice to see Jan actively pursuing her writing still.

Bless Gadget for his neat security addition to the Crowcycle.

Jan’s feeling of freedom and longing for speed that the motorcycle provides appeals to me and my flying days, as well as my elf with the fast mare. smile.gif

’The sky had darkened from soft blue to slate gray by the time she threaded her bike through the cars and rolled up to the back patio.‘
- - I’m getting much more sensitized to the fact that this is a direct result of January’s mood. And we soon learn how appropriate the somber sky is. The divorce is a shame but, as January knows, not unexpected. . . and probably a wise choice by her mother.

The confrontation with Julian was exactly what January did not need at this point. What a self-absorbed fetcher! At least there was the satisfaction that big brother only barely escaped getting his butt kicked by one pissed off superhero. Sissy indeed!


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