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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
Acadian
post Aug 3 2019, 07:47 PM
Post #61


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From: Las Vegas



A nuclear powered Stormcycle emerges from the Gadget Cave – Holy crow feathers, Batman!

You did a wonderful job bringing some science fiction grounded in real stuff to life. It all came across as both fascinating and completely believable. I expect that is a result of some impressive research and, of course, your always impressive writing.

Nice job with Vanessa as well. Not only did the white girl get the Nana endorsement but the woman’s age-related challenges remind us that even though Avery is part of this superhero dynamic duo, his life is also shadowed by the mundane and sometimes heartbreaking challenges and uncertainty of real life as well. Growing old ain’t for sissies.


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Renee
post Aug 4 2019, 12:30 AM
Post #62


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QUOTE
"You put a nuclear reactor in my motorcycle!"


He put a nuclear reactor in her motorcycle? ohmy.gif

QUOTE
"Isn't that dangerous?"


Fission is dangerous, I think. Fusion is supposed to be safer. Still though..... goodness! Avery should be the next Nobel Prize winner! laugh.gif Or whatever prize is given out for scientific stuff. Because my gosh!

Nice touch with grandma there. wink.gif I'm thinking: she'd be too old to know "you should tap that" phrase, but then.... I could technically be a grandmother myself if I'd started way earlier. indifferent.gif

Wow, is that really true about Detroit having poor mass transit?

Lol moment: I love how Avery puts it all together, then he has to be somewhere else. laugh.gif He just created a literal marvel in terms of technology, yet leaves Jan to figure out hot to start it! rollinglaugh.gif "Oh, I think I got an old helmet in the basement. " rollinglaugh.gif laugh.gif

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treydog
post Aug 4 2019, 01:05 AM
Post #63


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QUOTE
"I have some parts here that you'll like."
laugh.gif

Loved all the dialogue- this is the way true friends can tease each other.

QUOTE
He calmly opened up a compartment in one side of the engine, snapped the miniature Death Star inside, and then sealed it all up tight again.


It is only like a miniature Sun- nothing to worry about. You will be sitting on top of it- but... good luck! goodjob.gif

Evian water for cold fusion... sure, why not?

And you always have to just be happy when a mad scientist repeats, “That would be bad.”

And his Nana just had me laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes. And then her dementia caused tears for another reason. And that was some world-class writing too.

QUOTE
Who used manuals anyway?


Of course- instructions are for wimps!

Most excellent again, Sage Rosa.


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The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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Darkness Eternal
post Aug 6 2019, 02:30 AM
Post #64


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Chapter 1 - Stormcrow Rising


What a great way to begin the story! January meditiating was a great way to tell us more about her character, we know she's spiritual in a sense, and very attuned to nature. A confirmation of this was the Introduction to Wicca book.

"The nice, neat suburban teens and adults that occasionally walked past were far from hard core. Nor were even the fuzzy, scruffy ones. They might be killers in Sword Science Online or World of Guncraft, but hardly in the real world."

tongue.gif The Legendary keyboard warriors! This had me chuckling quite a bit!

Jan had quite an audience as she meditated! Seeing the crows gather around her was pretty neat, and definitely shows that there's something special about our heroine.

"For not the first time, she wished for a better tablet, with a larger screen. Or even for an actual laptop. But the Fire 7 was all she could afford. Once it had been on sale for nearly half off that is. As with everything else in her life, she just had to make do with what she could scrounge up."
This stood out to me. I'm assuming Jan is young and living in modest means. I can tell she's adaptable and improvises as she goes along.

I'm already starting to like Avery! Reminds me of a good friend of mine.

"Visit? If one of those birds sat down on my shoulder, I'd be worried. That's like, a bad omen or something."
Indeed, bad omens and uh, bird presents wink.gif

"I know they were bandits," January said, "but raiders sounds better. It's more... menacing. Besides these raiders are cannibals."

"Now we're talkin'!"

"And their leader is the champion of a dark, alien goddess. I even have a name for her already - Manaha. She's based on the Native American Wendigo lore. Somewhere in here I've got to use the word 'tenebrous'.
"

This was a refreshing passage, and did bring me back to your previous works/version on the Magnificent Seven. Ah, Tenebrous. I love using that word, don't you? tongue.gif laugh.gif

Despite being able to influence the weather, she has no control over the outcome. This was a great way to show her abilities, as well as her past history with bullies. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" doesn't really ring true, not entirely, especially not in her case. I think we may see some more of this further along? Perhaps the bullies had an effect on her that influenced who she is now? I'm curious to see where this will go!

Can't wait to see more of Jan/Stormcrow and Avery/Gadget! I'll return to catch up on the rest!

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Aug 6 2019, 02:31 AM


--------------------
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 Aug 10 2019, 04:13 PM
Post #65


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



Acadian: I did a lot of work on developing power sources that would be in use in the Stormcrow-Verse. The first thing I did was I looked at comics and films to see what sort of energy sources they used. I was very disappointed to find that almost none actually come out and say so. For example, we know from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Iron Man has an Arc Reactor that powers his suit. So what is an Arc Reactor? They never say. It is literal vaporware. It is the same everywhere else. No one will actually say "This is what powers our technology".

So I turned to predictions on future science, and almost every source there talks about power sources for entire cities and nations. Things like Geothermal, Wind, Solar, etc... Of course these things are not really going to be a whole lot of use in a vehicle or suit of powered armor. They are either stationary, or require too much size to be of any use. Imagine trying to put a solar farm on the back of a motorcycle. The bike would have to be the size of Delaware.

That left very little to look at. But I did come up with a few things. A handful of games point to Dark Energy as a power source (the Mass Effect games for one). This is kind of vague, since we don't really know what Dark Energy even is. But something exists that seems to be pushing the Universe apart, and we call it Dark Energy, so ok. I decided to just use it vaguely as well. Zero Point energy is another example of a science fiction energy. It might work someday, but would probably take more energy to run that it would yield up. I can wave my hand at that and say meta-inventors can turn that around. Of course matter-antimatter reactions have been around since at least Star Trek. And IRL we can make anti-matter in the lab. So that was instantly in.

I spent a lot of time poring over hydrogen fuel cells. They have the same problem as zero point, in that they are currently very inefficient. But again, I can say a super inventor like Gadget can overcome that to make it very potent. So that went in. It was originally going to be in the Stormcycle in fact. But then I came across ultra-dense deuterium in a fusion reactor. That seemed ideal. So I went with a 'standard' fusion reactor using only normal deuterium for the motorcycle. With Avery thinking about how to implement an ultra-dense version in the future.

I spent a huge amount of time on that.


Renee: Fusion is generally considered more safer than Fission. Of course in fusion you do have plasma that you are working with, and if that stuff got out of the reaction chamber... It is like January said: being splashed by the Sun is bad. OTOH, fusion does not require highly toxic materials like uranium or plutonium to work. Plain old hydrogen or deuterium works fine (Deuterium is not radioactive). Deuterium and Tritium is another common fuel source, and Tritium is radioactive. It is used in glow sights on guns to make them glow. That stuff is simply encased in glass, and supposedly that is all that is required to make you safe from radiation from it. That is bupkus compared to the horrifically toxic waste that comes out of a Fission Reactor. So Fusion is definitely what everyone hopes for. It is vastly cleaner, and can actually be turned off a simple as by throwing a light switch. You cannot do that with Fission either. You can just stick more control rods into the reactor to slow down the reaction.

Detroit has no mass transit. Unless you count buses, and cabs. There is no subway, no elevated. There is a People Mover downtown, but that just goes in a small ring around the city core. They just put in a Q line that runs 3 miles down Woodward (3 whole miles, wow!). The only way to get anywhere, like to work, is with a car. To have a job here, you have to own a car. To afford a car, you need a job. It is a vicious circle.

Avery's Nana might have learned about tapping asses from TV, or friends. It's where I heard about it first! laugh.gif


treydog: The Evian was my way of throwing a lampshade on something as proven false as cold fusion. It was also a way to show that meta-inventors like Gadget are not really scientists. The things they do cannot be replicated by someone else in a different lab, or copied on an assembly line. It is their superpowers that make their inventions work, not the laws of nature. So every one has to be built by them by hand. I will have more on that later this chapter, when January meets another meta inventor.

The Nana part was also wonderful to write. For one it showed us another side to Avery's life. It also showed us that life is not all great. It is something that everyone faces sooner or later. As Acadian said, growing old is not for wimps.

I never read the instructions! At least not until I tried everything I could think of and failed first.


Darkness Eternal: I like to start out in media res, to have some action to immediately grab the reader. I could not find a way to do that well in this story. So I was hoping the crows could do it for me, and create some mysterious implications that would make things interesting.

I deliberately used brand names with January's possessions, so that people could look at them and realize that this stuff is the cheapest of the cheap. Like you said, it is a subtle way of Showing that she is poor, rather than just coming out and blatantly Telling it.

Bird presents! ohmy.gif laugh.gif

I love the word 'tenebrous' It is so dark, brooding, and mysterious. I love those rare occasions when I can put it to use. It's got legs!

I still remember the words and the teasing from high school bullies. But I don't remember the bruises from the few fights. I always found that 'stick and stones' things to be completely backward.






Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

The Theme of Alienation in Frankenstein

Karategi

Yoga Crow Pose

Yoga Scorpion Pose

Sam Bernstein

Fitzgerald High School

Berenstain Bears


Chapter 2.4 - Stormcrow Recycled

Home was empty when she returned. Her parents were still at work, and her brother thankfully in Ann Arbor, as he always was on weekdays. That allowed her to move her Stormcrow armor down from its hiding place under her bed and store it in the fake gas tank bump on the Victory. That still left her the two panniers under the seat for more storage.

She made herself a quick dinner and was off again with her school backpack. Then she headed out to Macomb Community College. She was breathless the entire trip. She had her own car! Well bike, and what a bike! She still could not believe how quiet it was. The engine hum grew a little louder as she accelerated, and the sound of the chain was an aria. But it was nothing compared the earsplitting racket that gasoline-powered motorcycles made. It was mechanical perfection, a crow made wheels.

She had trouble concentrating in class. She could not wait to get back out onto the bike. Besides, the book they were going over was depressing. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus brought on far too many parallels to her own life for comfort.

"I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel." The professor read from the book. He was young, with a thick mane of raven hair swept back from a bespectacled face. Many of the young female students had a habit of waiting to chat him up after class. January could not see why. He reminded her too much of her father, only twenty years younger. "What do you think Mary Shelley meant when she wrote that?"

"Miss Ward," Mr. Easton said after a long silence in which no one volunteered to speak. His voice had a soft, upper-class English lilt to it. "Perhaps you might enlighten us with your thoughts?"

January blinked, and sat up straight. Had she been daydreaming about her motorcycle?

"Well..." she began, feeling the eyes of everyone in the class boring into her. Lighthammer's lasers had felt less threatening. "When she wrote the book, I think she intended the monster to be some sort of spiritual menace, or at least an allegory for the price of hubris. Victor had tried to take God's place as creator of life. In the very least he strove to a greatness beyond that which nature would allow. As a result he was punished by the horror of - and for - his own creation."

"But that is not what I felt when I read the story," January went on, and tried not to squirm. "I didn't relate to Frankenstein, and feel that he was tempting fate, or attempting to replace God. I identified with the creature: hated and feared by everyone in the world simply because I was born, constantly told I was a monster, rejected by my own maker, trapped in a world which I did not make, and could never change."

"I can imagine that anyone who was not born perfect might feel the same," January continued. "Anyone not born the right color, or the right gender, or the right sexual orientation, or the right anything. Anyone who is different, who isn't 'cool' enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough, or even happy enough might feel that way."

The class was utterly silent afterward. January could swear that she could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Then her teacher began to applaud.

"Outstanding Miss Ward," he exclaimed. "I'm tempted to give you an 'A' just for that. As you said, it is not a warning against Man defying God, or even playing God. By all accounts Mary Shelley was a very irreligious person in fact."

"She was nineteen when she began to write this. She was your age. In it she captures the essence of alienation, isolation, and loneliness. Not just in the monster, but also within Victor Frankenstein himself as well. Remember that both of them are cut off from the world around them. Victor willingly isolates himself with his obsessive work. The monster is alienated because of his appearance. Like you said, he isn't pretty enough. Even his own creator rejects him. People scream when they see him. They attack him. He never knows anything but hatred and fear, in spite of his very real need for love and companionship."

"Everyone has felt rejection and isolation at some time in their lives. This is why we still study this book, two centuries later," her professor went on. "It isn't just to bore students who thought it would be a lot cooler after seeing one of the films! This novel strikes deeply into our emotional cores. She was tapping into the feelings of loneliness and alienation that we can all relate to. That is the real monster in the story, and it is something that we all must face sooner or later. It is just as relevant today as it was in the summer of 1816."

January forgot all about her motorcycle. Could she really do this? Could she write stories about characters that people could relate to on an emotional level? If Mary Shelley could write a story about a man stitched together from the parts of corpses, and she could relate to him, could she do the same?

She was still thinking about that on the ride from the college campus to Adin's House of Pain, a.k.a. the Madison Heights Academy of Martial Arts. She got there early, and used the time to change out of her school clothes and into the black karategi she wore for teaching class. Still with plenty of time, she found a relatively quiet spot and went through a yoga routine to loosen up, and clear her mind. Time slipped away, and she lost herself in simply breathing and moving.

"You know this isn't a yoga studio," a male voice eventually floated into her ears from somewhere behind her. January smiled, but did not reply. Instead she moved into a crow pose, placing all of her weight on her arms, while her legs floated in the air behind her. She continued through the pose into a handstand. Still upside down, she turned to face the speaker.

"Now you are just showing off Bear," the man said. "Your class is ready to start in a few minutes."

January turned the handstand into an elbow stand, then craned her legs back over her head into a scorpion. Finally she pulled forward, and rolled onto her feet.

"You aren't going to have your dad Sam sue me, are you Mr. Bernstein?" she laughed.

"I wish I was one of those Bernsteins," he smiled. He stood only a few inches taller than her, with curly black hair what was cut short, a hawkish nose, and olive skin. "I wouldn't be here being shown up by a teenager, that's for sure."

"I would never show you up Adin," January said seriously. "You taught me Krav Maga and Muay Thai. Whatever I do, only makes you look better."

"That's what I keep telling myself," he said. "Go on, your future victims await."

January greeted her first class of the evening, which was entirely of children. Looking out over their fresh, young faces, she was reminded of the first time she met Adin. She had just started tenth grade at Fitzgerald High School.

"Now ladies, I'd like you all to say hello to Mr. Bernstein. He's going to be here for a week teaching our self-defense unit."

"One of the Berenstain Bears?" January murmured as the curly haired man stepped out in front of her gym class, to stand beside the coach.

"Yes I am," he smiled, and looked directly at January. She closed her eyes. She would be hearing that for the rest of the year. As if things were not bad enough.

Worse, he remembered her when it came time for individual practice. With the entire class gathered around, he invited his "Bear" to step up and show how she would attack him. He was wearing pads, so January let him have it. She started with a tapper jab with her left hand, rapping his right glove with a light blow to give him a false sense of security. Then she followed with an uppercut loaded with everything her sixteen-year old body could muster.

She could sense his surprise as her fist drove deeply into the pads across his stomach. He held his fists out front to block another attack from that direction. So she continued with a roundhouse kick to his undefended side, then followed with another jab and a cross at his face. The entire time he steadily fell back. Finally she sent a particularly zesty power punch at his head. He effortlessly slipped to the side, caught her in an arm lock, and had her on the mat before she knew what was happening.

"That was outstanding," Bernstein said as he stepped back and helped her up. "Who taught you karate?"

"My mother," January murmured. She was still wondering which end was up as she clambered back to her feet.

"Remind me to stay on her good side," Bernstein said. "Have her bring you to my dojo after school. You have real talent. We can make you better."

After that, no one in high school looked at her quite the same again.


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Renee
post Aug 10 2019, 05:43 PM
Post #66


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QUOTE
Detroit has no mass transit. Unless you count buses, and cabs


Yes, I was thinking of buses. smile.gif Fusion-powered buses would be even better!

And uh .. yeah, I definitely think she'd be having troubles focusing on school, after all that she's done the past few days and hours! This is really awesome that she goes back to school at all.

It almost seems like January blurts out her own personal views because she's so distracted by all the excitement in her life, she momentarily has her guard down, does that make sense? Like maybe normally, she wouldn't say as much as she said in front of her classmates.

Aw, she's teaching kids. smile.gif What a day she's had today.

This post has been edited by Renee: Aug 10 2019, 05:57 PM
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Acadian
post Aug 10 2019, 07:53 PM
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This episode drew me in immediately and was a joy to read from start to finish.

Despite your amazing sci-tech research, what I get from the Stormcycle is that you stuff in a dilithium crystal and – voila - instant freedom! The exhilaration January feels astride her mount reminds me of when Buffy also plopped down her life savings to buy Superian. And the magical feeling of freedom, speed and power her precious mare provided – and still does. But forgive me for wanderdigressing and just know that January on her Stormcycle makes me grin. Handy too, that her uniform fits in the bike’s magic pouch and she still has saddlebags for even more stuff that a girl’s gotta have.

Miss Ward’s analysis of Frankenstein was indeed applause-worthy. More so since we know how in some ways January can identify with the monster’s lack of acceptance for being created inside a body that does not match the spirit of its owner. Her insight was plenty, but I was further delighted when you parlayed the story and its authoress’ young age into inspiration for January to seriously consider writing herself.

Then off to her martial artistry class. Here was a case where your pictures (crow and scorpion poses) were priceless as they instantly provided crystal clarity.


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Darkness Eternal
post Aug 10 2019, 09:41 PM
Post #68


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Chapter 1.2:

I get what you mean. The crows did it for sure!! There's also the fact that they're among the most intelligent birds out there.

Ah, Confusion reminds me of Comic-Con! Well, I mean aren't all Cons? I had no idea it was real! That's very cool. Seriously, this made lots of sense. What way for a Superhero to blend in? A place where people dress as heroes!

The fighting and flying you showed here was awesome! January has some courage to go headfirst into conflicts, but that's how a hero operates. She took the initiative for sure! And the idea of a person being harmed? That most certainly is her business as she's pointed.

[. . .]In an Indian accent so heavy you could spread curry on it.

This was a great and culturally accurate description of his voice! laugh.gif

Jan's a kickass fighter, too. What an absolute thrill! The flight to the air, along with that armored bastard, was intense. She did her best to try and control her flight, even as they crashed through the building!

And I'm sure that landing was a superhero landing! One only a talented gymnast as January could do!


--------------------
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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treydog
post Aug 10 2019, 10:43 PM
Post #69


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QUOTE
Adin's House of Pain, a.k.a. the Madison Heights Academy of Martial Arts.
blink.gif

Jan is certainly in a position to understand that alienation is the key to reading Frankenstein – sharing, for different, but no less painful reasons, Mary's obvious direct, personal understanding of that feeling....

Jan's being distracted by the fact she has wheels also rang quite true. Although I now rather dread the long commute to work in Gruening, I can still recall when the idea of getting behind the wheel (or handlebars) was magical.

Thank the powers for understanding and outstanding teachers, whatever their discipline, whether it be literature or martial arts.

A fine, thoughtful interval, filled with character-building goodness.


--------------------
The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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SubRosa
post Aug 17 2019, 05:07 PM
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Renee: This chapter is set about a week after the first chapter, so January has had a little time to get adjusted to the idea of being a cape. There is a date at the start of each chapter.

January might not say as much as she did under normal circumstances. But then again, what she said is exactly what I think every English teacher is hoping to hear, a deep and thoughtful analysis of an author's work.


Acadian: Frankenstein (as in Mary Shelley's novel) recently came up in a literary podcast I listen to, so it was very top of mind. I read it about 20 years ago, and loved it. Maybe loved is not the right word. It really touched me deeply, just as it did January. It was just a happy coincidence that Mary Shelley was 19 that Haunted Summer when she first started writing the novel, the same age as January. In some ways it really throws down the gauntlet at January's feet, and dares her to do the same.


Darkness Eternal: Putting the superhero into their costume is one of those evolutionary steps in all super stories. Sometimes it can be hard to make that happen, especially in the more realistic depictions. Cosplay just leaped out at me as a option that never existed back in the day, so it was a great way for me to not only get January into her super suit, but also make the story modern.

Likewise, January's history of being bullied and on the receiving end of bigotry is what gives her the springboard into acting, rather than running and hiding. Her motivations are very personal, and baked into everything she is.

The gymnastics is something I have worked hard on not only incorporating, but keeping important to what she does, in addition to her martial arts. I remember in the old Marvel Superheros rpg that it was simply a skill that gave you a small bonus to your Agility tests. I wanted it to be much more than that. Here it will be a very big part of what she does, and how she succeeds.


treydog: Gaining those wheels is such a big step in everyone's life I think. It is one of the first steps to real independence. Here in Detroit it is even bigger than that. It is a simple necessity for living, as there is no real public transportation. So that was a nice way of emphasizing her growth as a teen into adulthood, completely separate from being a cape.

Jan's English teacher is based on Duncan from the old show VR-5. Adin just sort of took shape because from Krav Maga itself, and from the Bernsteins, who are very prominent lawyers here in Detroit. I enjoyed making a play on their name. I have another teacher coming up next chapter who is straight up my High School English teacher. He was a very influential early mentor for my writing. So I was delighted to find an opportunity to put him into a story, even if just in a tiny role.



The Madison Heights Academy of Martial Arts (Adin's dojo) and Source One Metals are both on the Stormcrow Google Map


Gary Clark Jr. - If Trouble Was Money


Aerial View of Source One Metals (it is the big white building at the very bottom center)

Source One Metals (from the turnaround in Mound Road)

Source One Metals (from the parking lot)

Source One Metals (from the back)


The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman





Chapter 2.5 - Stormcrow Recycled

After her final class of the evening, January went to Adin's office to change. She could not fail to note the similarities to high school, where she had to change in the coach's office for gym class. Only these days she was the coach, or at least the assistant coach, and there were not nearly as many mean girls making snide remarks about her gender or giving her dirty looks.

Her phone blared to life with the soulful guitar riff from Gary Clark Jr's "If Trouble Was Money." She almost jumped out of the cargo pants she was halfway into. She fought to pull them up around her waist, and dove for the cheap Samsung before it could go to voicemail.

"Hola! The bike is great Avery! It runs like a dream," she gushed. Then her voice took on a more somber tone. "How is your grandma?"

"Oh she's fine," he said. "She's been watching reruns of Jag and NCIS for the last few hours. I think she slept through the last one. But we did some crosswords earlier, and she played Luminosity for a while too."

"So you didn't crash the bike?"

"Of course not!" January exclaimed as she pulled on her top. Almost hitting his car a second after she started it up did not count after all. "I am a great driver, erm, rider, or biker, whatever. The shifting seemed kind of funny though."

"Yeah, I didn't have time to tell you that," Avery said. "I took the transmission out along with the old engine. There's really no need for one with an electric. It's a direct drive now. Zero does it with their bikes, I don't know why Victory bothered with a six speed in the first place. So the clutch and gear shift don't do anything."

"Great! I was kind of afraid I might have broke them," January murmured.

"So how fast is it?" Avery asked.

"I don't know," January replied honestly. "All the other cars kept getting in my way! I did get it up to about a ninety at one point. Then that bus came along..."

"I'm afraid to ask!" Avery laughed.

"I missed it!" January smiled, "even if I had to split lanes for a bit."

"You know that's dangerous right?"

"Yes mommy," January sighed, "and I won't talk to strangers, or drink the water, or have unprotected sex."

"Your mother told you that?" January could just imagine his eyes goggling as he spoke.

"No," January replied. "It's not like she would ever need to."

"Well, speaking of protection, I was wondering if you still had that cosplay outfit?"

"Yes, yes I do." January was instantly alert. Super-stuff was something they couldn't talk about on a regular phone. You never knew who might be listening. But her armor had its own scrambled earpiece. "Well, I gotta get out of here before Adin locks up. I'll call you back later."

She got her shoes on and was out the door as fast as she could make her goodbyes. She rode to a spot free of onlookers and cameras, and concentrated upon the element of Fire. A moment later she was clad from head to toe in her Stormcrow armor.

"You there Gadget?" she asked over her earpiece. Should she call it that? Should she call it the communicator? That made it sound like Star Trek. Why did so much of this tacticool jargon seem so pretentious?

"Got you Stormcrow," he replied. January started at the name. She had heard it said aloud plenty of times since she "came out" at the convention. But never spoken directly to her. It felt strange, but good. She really was that person people were talking about.

"I've been seeing a pattern of rare metal thefts lately." January wondered why Avery sounded like Charlie, from Charlie's Angels? "First it was zirconium, then iridium. I don't think it's random. I think someone is building something, and I think I know what might be next."

"What?"

"Titanium," Avery explained. "Iridium is highly resistant to corrosion and heat. It's used for the containment of plutonium in spacecraft, among other things. But it's brittle in its pure form. So guess what it's usually alloyed with?"

"Zirconium and titanium," Stormcrow murmured. "So what's our next move, stake out the local titanium shop?"

"You are catching on to this detective thing fast. I guess hanging with that state cop rubbed off on you. Trouble is there's a whole bunch of metal places that sell it. I've got drones or camera feeds out to watch them. But one looks likely, given that the other two were nearby."

"Which one?"

"Source One Metals," he said, "on Nineteen Mile and Mound. Stake it out tonight, and we might get lucky. I'll be watching the other ones."

"Got it," January replied. Her first stakeout! This was what being a real super was all about.

"Oh, I forgot the license plate switcher." Gadget said. "Come by tomorrow and I'll put it on. Until then keep off the bike while you're suited up. We don't want anyone putting two and two together."

"Of course not." January looked around for cameras once more. "I'm not stupid you know."

"You're on the bike right now, in the armor aren't you." Avery sighed.

"Umm, not anymore," January said honestly. She was so thankful for that fast changing ability. She did not need a super power to see the facepalm Avery was undoubtedly making.

January took John R up to Nineteen Mile, then made a right and took it across to Mound Road. The latter was a divided highway, so she had to first go south and then through a turnaround to get on the northbound side. She found the metal shop just before the gas station at the corner of Nineteen Mile.

It was in a small industrial subdivision off of Mound. Really it was just two plain cinderblock buildings with a big parking lot between them. Each building went back from the road for hundreds of feet, and had been partitioned up into numerous individual businesses. The first one in the northern building was Source One Metals, according to the blue signs in the front windows.

Given the dark lights and lack of cars in the lot, all of the businesses were evidently closed. That made her stakeout easier. Still, she had to decide where to set up. Obviously she could not just sit in the lot on her motorcycle.

There were a few trees on the lawn between the road and the parking lot. But they looked rather sparse. There was an actual section of woods across Mound that looked promising. But she would like to be closer. Thinking of closer, she looked up and smiled. Yes, that would do nicely.

She rode off and found a dark spot without cameras to remove her license plate and change into her armor. Then she returned and drove into the lot. She took a driveway around to the alley behind the building with the metal shop. The entire building was lined with big metal rollup doors back there, along with some dumpsters and a bunch of empty parking spots.

Shutting off the bike, she cradled it in both arms. Then she leapt. She landed easily on the roof, which was surprisingly bare of equipment. She found what looked like an air vent in the corner by the back doors, and set her bike down behind it. Sitting down herself, she waited.

January learned very quickly that stakeouts were incredibly boring. She stared at the line of light industrial buildings to the north. Then at the gas station beside them on the corner of Mound and Nineteen Mile road, and the sandwich shop across Nineteen Mile from it. She stared at the 7-11 on the opposite corner across Mound, along with a veterinarian and a martial arts studio. She wondered what styles the latter taught. She stared at the woods directly across Mound from her. Then her eyes continued their counter-clockwise circuit to the doctor's office south of that, with its high, slanting roof. Mostly she just stared, and waited, and stared, and waited some more.

It did not take long for her to pull out her tablet and start on her schoolwork. The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was their next assignment. She started reading, and created a text file to write down some of her basic impressions as she went. Time dragged by, and she found herself licking her dry lips.

The lights of the gas station at the intersection called out to her. There was no point sitting here thirsty after all. She tucked the tablet away into the panniers of her motorcycle and leapt down to the pavement below. She walked across the back lot of one of the industrial shops to the north, and the small patch of grass beyond to the gas station at the intersection.

There was only one car at the pumps, and its driver stared at her with amazement as he filled his tank. She gave him a polite smile, and went inside. The store was empty except for her and the clerk. He was a pudgy, bearded man just a few years older than she was. He looked at her with amusement as she stalked across the aisles of snacks to the back of the shop, where the refrigerated case was. She found a bottle of Pepsi Ultimate, and brought it up to the counter.

"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?"

"No," January said as she fished her wallet out of her utility belt and paid him. "A friend of mine did it for me."

"It's a really good job," the clerk said. "It looks just like the real thing. Say, I'm off at midnight if you want to..."

"Sorry, not into guys," January smiled. She could be dense. But even she could tell that he was trying to pick her up! It must have been the armor. It did outline her body in an agreeable way.

"Damn, hot lesbian cosplay..." she heard him murmur as she walked out.


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Acadian
post Aug 17 2019, 09:03 PM
Post #71


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The beginning of another Crowventure assigned to her by Charlie Gadget.

"It's used for the containment of plutonium in spacecraft, among other things." - - Yikes! Sounds serious. ohmy.gif

“You're on the bike right now, in the armor aren't you." Avery sighed.
"Umm, not anymore," January said honestly.
- - embarrased.gif tongue.gif

Hmm, I’d imagine that superbike is pretty unique – even unmistakable. I hope Gadget’s license plate switcher is able to more fully transform Jan’s wheels into the Stormcycle than just a simple license plate changeroo. Hmm, if only her magicks could craft a ‘summon Stormcycle’ spell. . . .

Heh, I have visions of every time she self-distracts (reading, getting a soda, etc) she’s gonna miss the action! You do a great job, however, of capturing how boring I’d imagine a stakeout is while emphasizing that Stormcrow is a newbie at stakeouts. smile.gif


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Renee
post Aug 18 2019, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE
"I've been seeing a pattern of rare metal thefts lately." January wondered why Avery sounded like Charlie, from Charlie's Angels?


Yeah, totally. He's like that voice over the intercom at this moment.

Awesome. She's going to do a stakeout! ph34r.gif

Oops, yeah, I have heard they are mostly boring. 10 hours of boredom, 10 minutes of excitement, according to all the crime shows I've watched.

Hee hee she's doing schoolwork! WHOA she just walks into the convenience store in her gear. Lol what a dense cashier. laugh.gif Then again, I guess the way she moseys in is very nonchalant. Everyone expects a superhero to be doing superhero stuff. Nobody expects them to be buying a soda. So she flies under the radar just for that moment.

This post has been edited by Renee: Aug 18 2019, 03:40 PM
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treydog
post Aug 18 2019, 03:47 PM
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QUOTE
"You know that's dangerous right?"

"Yes mommy," January sighed, "and I won't talk to strangers, or drink the water, or have unprotected sex."

"Your mother told you that?" January could just imagine his eyes goggling as he spoke.



"
QUOTE
Oh, I forgot the license plate switcher." Gadget said. "Come by tomorrow and I'll put it on. Until then keep off the bike while you're suited up. We don't want anyone putting two and two together."

"Of course not." January looked around for cameras once more. "I'm not stupid you know."

"You're on the bike right now, in the armor aren't you." Avery sighed.

"Umm, not anymore," January said honestly. She was so thankful for that fast changing ability. She did not need a super power to see the facepalm Avery was undoubtedly making.


The interactions between Gadget and Crow-Jan are brilliant as always. And for me- this humor (and reflection of true friendship) is what makes for great writing instead of "good" writing.

As always, loved the mundane as mingled with the meta. (Contented sigh).



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Darkness Eternal
post Aug 19 2019, 02:17 AM
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Chapter 1.3:

I like how you mentioned how deep-rooted her passion is for justice, and having been a victim herself, she understands the importance of helping others. This indeed is what being a hero is about.

That hagfish-slime covered armor did the trick in preserving our brave heroine. It was fun to see the real metas mentioned, who I'm sure will be shown later on.

"Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend."
Wow! This had me cheering! Jan did good to take inspiration from one of the greatest Martial Artist in history.

'Some fled entirely, but most remained to watch, albeit from a distance. Many produced phones and began recording them. A few even had old-fashioned camcorders.'

The battle continued amidst the Con members! And this was so spot-on that if something like this were to happen in today's society, plenty would stay behind.

Lighthammer was a tough one but Jan kicked his rear pretty good. I have to say the battle here was a great read, and I felt thrilled just reading it. His lasers were no match for her fistfuls of justice and kicks! I'm sure we'll see more of him; his little ceiling trick won't happen again. Hopefully.

I love that super exit! cool.gif



--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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SubRosa
post Aug 24 2019, 04:32 PM
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Acadian: I had not really thought of doing more beyond a license plate changer for January's motorcycle. I think because I am looking ahead at things you cannot see yet. Her motorcycle will not fit into the Crow life in a meaningful way. It will be part of her Jan life. She will be working on a travel power for getting around.

That is one of the side effects of having played some superhero RPGs. You start to lump powers into categories based on their purpose. Heroes often have a travel power, who purpose is to get them to where the story is taking place. Flight, teleportation, a quinjet, a skycycle, web-slinging, a Batwing, and so forth. The transporters in Star Trek is another example. I am sure it was originally thought up simply to move the characters to where the story is. The same with the Enterprise itself as well.

January is quickly realizing that even being just a city level hero means that she needs a way to get around town quickly and reliably. She has had a taste of that with her gliding, but it is not enough for long distances. But she has something to work on there.



Renee: I enjoyed writing January's boredom on the stakeout, and her quickness to jump at finding anything to do. I would never be able to do a stakeout. I get bored too quickly, and have too many options to find a way to take up my time, like reading books on my phone.


treydog: Its even more fun writing Jan and Avery than Aela and Loria. With J&A I can draw upon real world culture to make it all feel so much more accessible to the reader.


Darkness Eternal: Eventually we will be meeting some of those superheros who have been name dropped. Blood Raven will play a major role in future events, and January's life.

I have always loved that Bruce Lee quote about water. As odd as it sounds, I found it to be the key to understanding how to use horse archers in the Total War games. You cannot use them like other units, who either want to rush into melee, or always keep away from it. Horse Archers want to get close, but not too close. When the enemy retreats, they advance. When the enemy advances, they retreat. They flow, and they crash, just like water.

Social media is filled with all sorts of fights and disasters on film. Because pics or it didn't happen after all. I am not the only one to note that whoever that is recording it on their phone is also just standing there not doing anything to help. Which is pretty parasitic really. These days everyone is so obsessed with getting their 15 minutes of internet fame, they don't think about the danger other people are in, or themselves.





Aerial View of Source One Metals (it is the big white building at the very bottom center)

Source One Metals (from the turnaround in Mound Road)

Source One Metals (from the parking lot)

Source One Metals (from the back)


The Face Bot

The Face Bot again

The Face Bot rear view



Chapter 2.6 - Stormcrow Recycled

She returned to her stakeout post and went back to her English assignment. Only now she had a cool drink to wet her dry throat. She did not know how much time passed while she waited. She had become engrossed in the story of isolation and creeping madness when the sound of an engine below pulled her back to reality.

She put down her pop and tucked the tablet away into her motorcycle's panniers. Then she looked over the edge of the roof, and saw a garbage truck pulling into the front lot. The cab was green and yellow, and seemed proportionally larger than the trailer section of the vehicle. It was not a normal green and yellow paint scheme either. Rather it seemed that part of a green cab and part of a yellow cab were simply thrown together. The rest of the truck was the same. January even noticed thick weld marks running down one side of the rear bay, as if the pieces of two vehicles had been melded together into one.

Floating in the air above was a large drone of some kind. It reminded her of an eyebot from the Fallout games. It had a smooth front end, that almost looked like a face, especially given the two large glowing circles that looked like eyes mounted within it. The bottom was separated from the rest of the face in what looked like a mouth. What seemed almost like a cap or visor of metal was attached over the top, further adding to the human look it bore.

Its body stretched out behind it, and angled up from the bottom, to give it a triangular shape, with the point trailing away behind it. What almost appeared to be two stubby arms or legs also stretched out directly behind it from two round shoulder sockets. Or maybe they were exhaust pipes, or rocket nozzles? The upper side of the body was a relatively smooth combination of plates scalloped over top of one another. But the bottom - the hypotenuse of the triangular frame - was all spiky knobs, antenna, and protruding cylinders.

January could not see how it flew. There were no rotors like a mundane drone required. Nor were there any obvious metatech options like jets. It just floated through the air like a jellyfish in water.

January was struck by the incongruity of the two machines. The truck was a Frankensteinish collection of old vehicles welded together into a single whole. But otherwise it still looked like an ordinary garbage truck. The drone was a Rembrandt of mechanical artistry, though obviously constructed from diverse parts as well.

That is when she noticed that no one was driving the garbage truck. The cab was entirely empty.

"I think our friend has arrived," January said into her suit's comm system. "Or at least his robo-minions have." Well that was it, she was officially calling it the comm now. She guessed that made her Captain Pretentious Tacticool.

She turned on the video system built into her cowl so Gadget could get a better look. She heard him whistle a moment later.

"That flying drone is a real work of art," his disembodied voice floated in her ears. "I can see its kitbashed, like most of my own stuff, but someone put a lot of TLC into that. The truck, less so. It looks like someone just took spare parts from four or five junks and made one good truck out them. There's no style to it at all. Maybe it was just a rush job."

"So how do we know they're really the bad guys, and not just some mecha-hipsters out for a drive late one Tuesday night?"

The garbage truck rolled around to the back of the building. It turned and backed up to the rollup doors. Then its whole tail end garbage smashing assembly swung up, revealing the empty box of the truck's body behind it. Well, it was almost empty. A trio of metal men leaped out. January could see they were made from car axles, leaf springs, shock absorbers, shopping carts, office chairs, plumbing, and a multitude of other junk parts.

One of these anthropomorphic robots pointed a hand toward the building. A cherry red laser sprang out from its wrist, and sliced through one of the rollup doors like it was warm butter. It took only a moment for a huge piece of the door to be sliced out, and clang loudly as it crashed to the cement.

"They're bad guys," Gadget said dryly.

January sized up the ground bots and prepared to leap down upon them. That is when she realized that the Face-Bot was missing. She heard a slight hum in the air behind her, and wheeled around to see it staring at her from just a few feet away. Now that she was closer to it, she noted an odd distortion in the air beneath it. It reminded her of a heat haze on a road, or how water warped light.

"Well hello there." January did not really know what to say. She practiced things like flying, gymnastics, and fighting. But she never had looked into raising her Speech skill. Just what did you say to a supervillain when you first met?

The Face-Bot took over the burden of conversation. Its eyes filled with an ominous blue glow. An instant later a bolt of lightning exploded out of each. The twin arcs of electricity slammed into January like a truck. Her eyes danced with bright spots, and she was vaguely aware of tumbling through the air.

She tried to right herself, but really had no idea how to orient herself. All she could do was pull her arms and legs in and hope for the best. She hit something hard a moment later. She shook her head in an effort to clear the lights that danced before her eyes, and realized that she was on the ground now, in the alley behind the metal shop. She sat on the blacktop, with her back against one of the dumpsters. No, not simply against it, but into it. For her body had dimpled a Stormcrow-shaped silhouette into the steel.

Thunder rolled overhead, and the stars vanished behind a sheet of gray cloud.

"Yow." January shook her head. It took a few moments for the world to stop spinning. Then she peeled herself out of the depression her body had bent into the dumpster. The harsh smell of ozone stung her nose. When she turned her head, she noticed tiny wisps of smoke curling up from her helmet. She glanced down at herself, but did not see anything on fire. She reached back to grab her hair with one hand, and it seemed fine too.

"Looks like I got a little cooked, but I'm okay," she said into her comm. "Gadget, did you see that?"

There was nothing but silence in reply.

"Gadget, Gadget, you there?" She tapped at the earpiece in her helmet. But there was nothing from the comm. January imagined that either being launched into the dumpster had broken it, or the twin lightning bolts had shorted it out.

The Face-Bot loomed over the edge of the roof and looked down at January. In the meantime, the three humanoid robots on the ground had clanked into the building, and were just now emerging with sheets and bars of silvery metal. January had never seen titanium before. At least not that she was aware of. But it did not take a genius to figure out what that pilfered metal was.

She leapt at the nearest man-bot, covering the thirty or so feet between them in a single bound. At the same time the eyes of the Face-Bot glowed blue once more. Twin bolts of electricity sprang from them. They lanced through the spot where January had been standing an instant before, and blasted a short trench through the asphalt underfoot.

But by now January was upon the ground-bots. They were clearly not living people, not even ones in armor. So she saw no need to hold back.

She gave the first a power-punch. Standing at an oblique angle to the robot, she started with her left hand forward and her right back at her chest. She brought her right fist forward with blinding speed. She used her body as a fulcrum by twisting her hips and shoulders, putting all of her mass behind the blow.

Her fingers sank into steel flesh. The face exploded under her fist, and the rest of the head snapped clean off the body. It went sailing into the depths of the metal shop. The robot's headless body continued on however. That obliged January to follow up with a side kick to its midsection, folding it over in two as its metallic spine cracked in half. With that it finally collapsed to the cement in a resounding clatter.

The Face-Bot circled around, and took another shot at January. This time its eyes glowed crimson, and bright fingers of laser light stabbed out for her. She ducked, and the ruby red energy sliced effortlessly through the second ground-bot. That cut it neatly in half. The legs still walked toward the garbage truck. But the torso fell to the pavement, spilling stolen titanium from its arms onto the concrete.

The metal men did not seem to be very impressive at fighting. In fact, January noted that they had not tried to dodge once. Their only show of offensive inclination had been to burn down the shop's door. That led January to conclude that they were basically just worker bees, while the Face-Bot was the warrior. Normally she would have simply ignored the workers. But this was a robbery, and they were clearly the means for said robbing. Unless the Face-Bot had some sort hidden arms or force fields that could lift the titanium and load it onto the garbage truck.

So she sprang at the final man-bot, and did something she knew that she never should. She executed a flying kick. Sure, it looked great in the movies. But in reality your opponent could see it coming from a mile away, and only had to step aside to avoid it. Worse, once you were in the air you were committed. There was nothing you could do until you landed, leaving you wide open to a devastating counter.

But she gambled that the ground-bots were not savvy enough to either dodge or counter-attack. She was right. She crashed foot-first into the final robot. Steel exploded beneath her, and the entire torso of the mechanical man disintegrated as she flew through it. She landed inside the metal shop, tucked into a roll, and bounced back to her feet.

January heard the air brakes of the garbage truck hiss, and its engine rumble to life. She reacted without thought, and leaped after it. A single jump put her on the tail section, which was still raised up over the back of the truck. She grabbed hold of its edge, and effortlessly swung herself back up and over, so that she was standing on her hands above the truck.

For a moment she was back in gym class, and doing what she loved best, flying through the uneven bars. January could not help but show off, and performed a back flip through the air. She landed with both feet on the roof of the truck's body, and raced to the cab.

The Face-Bot swung around after her however. January saw it out of the corner of her eye. It glowed red with energy in preparation for another shot. She knew that she would not be able to reach the cab without taking a hit. So instead she leapt up and out of the way. Brilliant twin lances of crimson flashed through the air behind her. They sliced through the cab of the garbage truck, turning half of it into slag.

January performed a back flip with a twist in mid-air, and came down on the pavement facing the Face-Bot. She even stuck the landing. It was just like being back in gym class. Except for the lasers of course.

January wished for some way to strike back. She really needed some kind of ranged weapon. Now she wished she had taken one at character creation. She would have to talk to Avery about making some kind of crowarangs, or maybe just buy a few baseballs. As it was the drone could shoot at her all night, and all she could do was shake a fist at it.

She saw the eyes on the Face-Bot light up red again, and knew another laser attack was coming. The twin red beams reached out for her, but she was ready, and easily slipped to one side. The lasers gouged up a line of turf in the small field between the industrial subdivision and the gas station.

With that the Face-Bot spun about and whizzed out of sight around the corner of the building. January leaped up after it. She caught sight of it when she was on the high arc of her leap. But she could do nothing until she came down upon the rooftop. Once she landed, she sped after the robot along the edge of the roof. She quickly ran out of real estate, and leaped out once more when the roof ended. Her fingers stretched out for the drone, but it jinked to one side, and she could not correct her flight to follow it.

Thinking of flight gave her another idea. She flung out her arms to either side, and straightened out her torso and legs, as if she were performing a Maltese Cross on the rings. She pushed both buttons in her gauntlets, and her cape instantly cracked out into a pair of wings. Thankfully they had not been shorted out with her comms.

She remembered Lighthammer's instructions about gravity, lift, drag, thrust, negative pressure, and so on. She also remembered her Elemental Mantra.

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

She felt the wind lifting her wings, and soared through the night sky. Cars sped by underneath her as she winged out over Mound road. Given the blaring horns, they must have seen her. But January was more interested in the Face-Bot. She banked, and circled back to where she had last seen it. Something moved in the trees below, between the parking lot and the road. She went into a dive, and her eyes searched the darkened foliage.

The Face-Bot darted from the trees, headed away from January. It spun around, all the while continuing its forward motion. January saw those large eyes turn red, and knew what was coming. She hit the triggers for her wings, and instantly dropped like a rock. Twin lasers lit up the sky above her, but clawed ineffectually at the clouds overhead.

She tucked into a forward roll in mid-air, so that she could come down feet-first. She barely even flexed her knees on the landing, in spite of the twenty foot drop. She must be getting better at this super business. But she was still not good enough. For she could do nothing but watch the Face-Bot vanish into the darkness.


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Acadian
post Aug 24 2019, 06:44 PM
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Thanks for your peek/insight into the future of the JanBike - that makes sense.


Stormcrow’s boring stakeout turns into a robo-robbery with more than enough excitement! I loved your concepts and descriptions of the motley robo-crew.

Once that face-bot picked up on having an unwanted observer, Stormcrow was on the defensive as she painfully learned the little fellow’s impressive offensive capabilities. By the time she took out the three metalmen (cleverly using the face-bot to help), she had turned the tables somewhat and put the deadly little face-bot on the defensive. As Stormcrow shifted from prey to predator, the little thing still managed do elude her. Nevertheless, she did stop the robbery and acquitted herself as the superheroine she has become.

’January wished for some way to strike back. She really needed some kind of ranged weapon. Now she wished she had taken one at character creation. She would have to talk to Avery about making some kind of crowarangs, or maybe just buy a few baseballs. As it was the drone could shoot at her all night, and all she could do was shake a fist at it.’
- - Love this whole paragraph! tongue.gif I’ve also no doubt that Gadget is up to the challenge.


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treydog
post Aug 25 2019, 10:11 PM
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More excellent Crow-Girl action! The fight was believable and showed the limitations of her (current) abilities AND her experience. But the only way to get experience is to... go through things.

QUOTE
So she sprang at the final man-bot, and did something she knew that she never should. She executed a flying kick. Sure, it looked great in the movies. But in reality your opponent could see it coming from a mile away, and only had to step aside to avoid it. Worse, once you were in the air you were committed. There was nothing you could do until you landed, leaving you wide open to a devastating counter.


Reminds me of a friend who was taking a self-defense class and tried a snap-kick on the instructor. Unfortunately, it was not "snappy" enough and he caught her foot and led her, hopping, around the mat, explaining why a kick that fails to land is a really BAD idea.


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Renee
post Aug 27 2019, 08:16 PM
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Nice. She plays Fallout (or at least knows of this game). smile.gif

Oh crap. It is flying, that face bot thingie is flying. [censored]. She's been hit. Good thing her suit probably protects her.

Okay, Face Bot is gone. So now I wonder if that face bot can has cameras in it, and somebody watching her.

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SubRosa
post Aug 31 2019, 04:23 PM
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Acadian: I enjoyed writing the fight between January and the Robo-Villains. It shows how much she has grown as a super, and how far she still has to go. It was a great sophomore effort.

Gadget is up for the challenge. January's lack of a ranged component, and what she might do to fix that deficit, is something I have spent hours turning over in my head. Guns are right out. They are just not in Jan's character. I thought about various thrown weapons, like shuriken. But I keep shooting them all down. A piercing weapon is not like her. I guess she is just a blunt instrument... I thought about bean bag rounds from shotgun, only used as a thrown weapon. But even those are sometimes fatal, and she can throw hard enough to put one through someone's chest. Baseballs have the same problem. A boomerang (or Crowarang) is too exotic. When is she going to have time to learn how to use that effectively?

You will see my solutions in Chapter 4, which I am in the middle of writing right now. Both Gadget and January step up. One with gizmos, and one with magic.


treydog: January is definitely earned some experience points in that fight, and in the aftermath we will see today.

I recall Dee Foxy's Of Blades, Assassins (and something else?) thread on the old Beth forums. One of the things he pointed out is that kicks are always a gamble, because they make your foundation unstable. The higher the kick, the greater the danger is to your balance, and the more vulnerable you are to a counter. The safest ones are down low, at the other person's ankles or knees.

That is always on my mind when I am writing kicking in my fiction. Back in Seven Reimagined Perspehone faced an opponent who tried a front kick at her face, and she broke his leg. January is an expert in Karate (among other things), so kicks are part of her arsenal. She usually goes for the high ones only as part of a combination, where she tries to distract the opponent with punch to one part of the body, then follows with a kick somewhere else.


Renee: Jan has definitely been exposed to Fallout. Though it is probably Avery who was always playing it. He is the computer nerd after all... wink.gif We will see him playing one of the Portal games in Chapter 3 in fact.

Of course the bot is flying! biggrin.gif In many was the Face-Bot is the antithesis of January. It has no arms, and so cannot fight in melee at all. It flies effortlessly, which January still struggles with. Finally it is all about ranged combat, which Jan is completely lacking in. He is an opponent who forces Jan out of her comfort zone, and forces her to adapt.




Michigan has a 10 cent bottle return law


Chapter 2.7 - Stormcrow Recycled


"Gadget, can you hear me yet?"

He still did not reply. She did not like that. It was not the broken equipment that bothered her. It was not hearing his voice in her ear. She had only been in real action three times now, not counting the recon at the hotel. He had only been there to talk to her once. But it had given her so much more confidence, knowing he was out there watching, thinking, turning things over in his head. She had not been alone, like she was now.

A small fire was burning in the garbage truck now, adding a flickering orange glow to the pale white fluorescents hanging over the street and parking lot. Several cars had pulled over, and people had run out of the gas station on the corner of Nineteen and Mound to watch. January knew the police would be coming soon. She debated whether to leave, or stick around to explain.

She did not have legal empowerment. Not like the Sentinels in Chicago did. That meant that technically she was a vigilante. But everyone knew that the reality of super beings had long since taught the law to play things fast and loose where metas were concerned. White Hats were generally given a lot of leeway by the police. So long as they did not kill people, or destroy too much property. Like Emilia Mercado at the airport the week before, most of them knew who their friends were. Or they at least knew when not to poke the wrong bear. But still, you never knew who you were going to meet.

The orange-red light grew brighter, as the paint on the garbage truck's body caught flame. January bit her lip. If the wind picked up, the fire from the truck would spread. That could set the nearby building on fire. She could not allow that.

The cab was now blazing merrily. January wondered where the gas tank was. If it was even gas that powered the truck, and not something more exotic. Then again, it was probably diesel. What had Avery said about diesel vs. gasoline? Gas explodes, diesel burns? No, that was gasoline burns, fumes explode. But she did recall something about diesel being less likely to explode than gas. If only she could reach him on the comm…

She looked around for something to put it out. Her eyes lit on the gaping maw cut into the rollup door. She dashed inside the metal shop. Her hands went to turn on the night vision in her helmet. But nothing happened. Apparently that had been knocked out too, along with her comms.

She squinted in the dark until she found a light switch and flipped it on. Racks and bins lined the walls, and were stacked row after row deeper into the building. They were filled with metals in many shapes: sheets, ingots, big pellets, rods, and so forth. Some shone with lustrous silver, like the titanium that littered the ground. Some were burnished bright reddish-orange, and others were dark, almost black.

But metal was not what she was interested in. The fire extinguisher hanging from one wall was. She leaped over to it and lifted it from its cradle. It was light as a feather in her hands. She jumped out through the doorway, and back into the alley. She fumbled with the handle of the extinguisher while she puzzled over how it worked. She had it sorted out after a few moments, and began spraying the burning truck with foam.

This would be a great time for some rain, she mused. But the slate gray sky had not a single drop of water to shed. January guessed she was just not sad enough for it to rain, or stressed enough, or whatever it was that made her affect the elements.

She had just finished putting the fire out when the bright red and blue lights of a police car illuminated the alley. January looked up in time to see a patrolman step out of the car, one hand on the pistol at his hip. Now she noted that at least half a dozen onlookers were clustered around the edge of the alley as well, watching and recording with their phones.

"Holy shit!" a familiar voice exclaimed. "It's the real Stormcrow. I sold Stormcrow a pop!"

January recognized the clerk from the nearby gas station, looking positively ecstatic. She started to wave at him, but stopped when she noticed the policeman draw his gun and point it at her. That made her realize that the motion of her hand might have been misconstrued. In a world where some people could shoot bolts of energy from their fingers, a simple wave could be a lethal attack after all.

She stopped, and gave her full attention to the cop. The bright red and blue lights flashing from atop his car made it hard for her to see him clearly. She imagined that was the idea behind them. He looked young. But who was she kidding? He was still older than she was. He had that square set to his face, and that tight, hard way of standing that always made her think of the Army

"It's ok officer," she said. "I'm Stormcrow. I was just putting out the fire."

"Did you do this?" he asked. He did lower his gun to a forty five degree angle. But he did not put it away either.

"I busted the robots," January nodded to the wreckage of the three ground bots. "But not the truck. The last robot did that before it got away."

"Where's the driver?" the cop stepped nearer, looking from her to the burned out cab of the garbage truck.

"There wasn't one," January shook her head. "It's fully robotic. They were all robots. They were trying to steal titanium. I think it's related to two other thefts of rare metals."

"She stopped them!" one of the onlookers shouted. "It was awesome! I've got the end on video!"

"Yeah, Stormcrow kicked ass!" another person cried.

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

More police cars rolled up, along with a fire truck. January found herself explaining what had happened again, and again. The original cop holstered his gun. January wondered if the reinforcements made him feel safer around her, or if he just finally trusted her. In any case, the police gave her a cool reception, but they were not hostile either. She imagined that they did not know what to do with her, just as she did not know what to do with them.

On the other hand, the firefighters barely gave her a second glance. Instead they immediately started going over the truck. They made sure the fire was truly out, and spent a few moments searching the surrounding area for any injured people. One of the firemen pointed out the dumpster, and wondered what had caused the deep, Stormcrow-shaped impression within its steel frame.

"That dent is me," January admitted sheepishly. "Their warrior-bot sort of got the drop on me. It packs a real punch."

Now the bystanders began to crowd closer. Some were asking for selfies with 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. Given the experience she had in avoiding bulges in the wrong places, that was no surprise however.

The police moved to block them, which January imagined was probably the prudent thing to do. She must still be a big unknown to most people. For all they knew she might snap at any moment and start punching people. Not to mention it was still a crime scene after all.

One of the cops gave her an imploring look. "You had better fly Stormcrow," he said. "Things are all under control here."

He did not say "they might not stay that way if you stick around," but January could imagine the words easily enough. She had never thought that fame, whatever tiny amount of it she now possessed, could make things more difficult for her as a superhero. She had just hoped that it might make people more willing to cooperate with her. But it seemed the whole super world was more complicated than she had thought.

"Stormcrow likes Pepsi," she heard the clerk declare to someone else in the crowd. "Come back for more!" he cried to her.

January shook her head. That did remind her of the pop. She must have dropped it when the fight had started. She leaped back onto the roof, and found it rolling along, now empty of its contents. She picked it up and put it away in the panniers of her motorcycle, beside her license plate. There was no sense leaving any DNA evidence laying around. She was not going to end up like Hailstorm…

Besides, there was a ten cent deposit on that bottle.


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Renee
post Aug 31 2019, 07:01 PM
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Yes there is some reason why our armed forces often uses diesel in the field. I read that in a Jack Reacher book a couple years ago. Can't remember what that reason is now! Oh well.

Michigan is still ten cents? There was a Seinfeld episode which featured Michigan I think, because their bottle law pays more.

Hopefully that warehouse won't catch fire, her bike is still on its roof!

I like how she keeps getting recorded by onlookers with their phones. It makes her more accountable when she explains to the cop what just happened.

Neat, so she's worried about her DNA possibly because then people might try to figure out who she is. Not that she's in the system now, but some day she could be.

That clerk is all proud. He sold her a Pepsi Ultimate!

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