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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."



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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!!!

This post has been edited by Renee: Oct 12 2019, 10:33 PM
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