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> The Stormcrow, A Superhero's Tale
Acadian
post Dec 11 2021, 07:48 PM
Post #501


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Your chosen Two Steps from Hell track is perfect. Of course anything by them is fabulous. goodjob.gif

Whew, finally Blood Raven arrives, only for us to learn the whole thing is a trap made for her. Cray is great as he takes charge as the group’s ‘coach’. Jan’s comment to Hannah was appropriate – the new, young super needs to learn to be a team player in situations like this. Ôkami is the perfect choice to slice and dice those revenants. Jan has her wings full with that oniare – even more so in the creature’s primary element under water. That leave’s Blood Raven to deal with the fire dragon - and now the summoner! Hope the Hammer of Light arrives soon to help out.


Nits:
"And who are you anway{anyway}?"
’It certainly flew through the water like {a?} ray.’


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SubRosa
post Dec 12 2021, 11:28 PM
Post #502


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Just an administrative note. It has never quite sat right with me that Blood Raven's "normal" sword Yggdrasil was a viking sword, and used a lot of heavy viking motifs. One, because that is sort of January's shtick. Two, because I like to lean more into Blood Raven's Irish/Celtic heritage with her. Which is to say that she likes to, since her mother's side of her family is Irish. It was her father's side that is Viking (her father being a Viking after all).

So I decided to go back and rework her every day sword into something new, with a heavy Celtic influence. So no more Yggdrasil. Now her non-Abyssal slaying sword will be Samhain, the raven sword of the Morrigan.

So far it has only appeared twice, in Book 7: Hammer Down. Once when she first shows it off at the post office, and then during the big battle at the end. I have already gone back and edited in the new sword in. Below is its introduction, which is where it gets a lot of ink. In the later battle it was just a matter of changing the sword's name, and few descriptions.


QUOTE

"I do a great many things," Blood Raven intoned. She put out a hand and opened her fingers. January felt magic stir there, folding space and time around her hand. A moment later she held a sword in her hand. It is a leaf-bladed longsword, with a double-edged blade made of black steel, that was cut through with watery, irregular patterns of silver-white.

Ogham Runes were etched down the blade. January could not read the script. But she did not have to. She heard the sword repeat the words across the astral. She could not tell if they were in Gaelic or English. But she understood them as clearly as she saw the raven sword before her.

The raven ravenous
Among corpses of men
Affliction and outcry
And war everlasting


The crossguard under the blade was gleaming black, and carved with the likeness of a pair of raven's wings. In its center was a raven's head seen from top down. That gave it a triangular shape, with beak facing the fuller of the blade and eyes that glowed red. The grip below is wrapped leather the color of dried blood, and the bronze pommel was shaped in form of the tail feathers of a raven, forming a "V" shape that trailed to a point at the end.

January could sense that the enchantments upon the blade would render it unbreakable, and likely able to cut through most any physical obstruction, perhaps many magical ones as well. She could not guess what other surprises it might have in store. But she had no doubt that there was even more to the weapon than met the eye, physical or astral.

Something about it also felt familiar. January saw her hand reach out to it. The sword answered with the croak of a raven. It reached back to her. Not in the physical world of course, but in the astral. It felt, familiar, like it was a part of her, or she was a part of it.

"This is Samhain," Blood Raven declared. "It knows you. I forged this steel using carbon from my own bone. I quenched it in my own blood. That is your bone, and your blood, as that of all my descendants. It has taken a liking to you. If ever you shall require it, the blade will answer your call."




One day I can see January getting a sword of her own. I might decide to go with the name and description of Yggdrasil. I save everything, even the stuff I cut. Though lately I prefer the name Sessrumnir for January's sword, after Freyja's hall in Asgard.


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Acadian
post Dec 13 2021, 12:07 AM
Post #503


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One of the things I love about fan fiction is that the writer routinely shares with you what they're thinking - communicating directly with readers. That affords the luxury and fun of changing things around in progress or even after the fact. Because you can explain why and what you were thinking directly to your readers, it is fun for us as well and easy to understand and support.

I confess I Buffy has evolved significantly over time and, sometimes, even as a direct result of reader comments.

And having fun is what fan fiction is all about! tongue.gif


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Renee
post Dec 16 2021, 02:25 PM
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All right let's see how this resolves. Been busy as all heck, waiting all week just to sit down and read. Whoa. "Is that a dragon?" I don't think so. I notice this story does not use the overly common monsters. It goes for those which are really obscure. I have no idea what an Oniare is for instance. 'Til now. bigsmile.gif

Gadget is Googling, it seems like. Well, Bestiarying. Ha. It's just like when we used to consult our Monster Manuals long ago, just to see what defenses and weaknesses some creature had.

I love that all these beach goers are still scrambling about. This will be their very last Jobbie Nooner, for most of them. I imagine since they are automotive workers they are all tough and whatnot. Well, not today. unsure.gif panic.gif

Whoa, Okami is here. Greased Lightning. wink.gif Oh no, January's in trouble. Underwater. Dammit. I think she'll be okay though. All her friends are. She'll be fine. I hope.

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SubRosa
post Dec 18 2021, 09:20 PM
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Acadian: The Summoner is about to learn that trapping Blood Raven is a far cry from defeating her, even in an ambush created specifically against her. Even outnumbered two to one, well, we shall see...

Equating Cray to a coach is a great metaphor. I am thinking of having the characters start to carry drones around with them specifically to allow him to have a better view of everything that is going on.

As ever thank you for finding those nits.


Renee: One thing I have learned from reading authors like Lovecraft, is that it is really effective to weave pure fiction around pieces of reality. He loves his fictional evil books, like the necronomicon. But when he introduces them, he usually does it alongside a bunch of entirely real ones. He mixes and matches his fictional material with non-fictional things so well that it becomes hard to tell which is which. That lends his made up stuff an air of reality.

So I have been trying to do something similar with my monsters, when I can. For example, I came up with the idea for a lake monster that was similar to a stingray, that could disguise itself as a human from a distance. Then after I had that idea, I went looking for mythological creatures that might fit a similar description. Eventually I came across the Oniare, a horned water lizard monster, so I called it that. I did not have the horns in mind in my original design. So I added them in after that, and looked at various horned lizards and found the persian viper I linked to, and adjusted the monster's appearance to be more like that.

It is the same with the Craquehhe. They were originally just zombies, as I wanted some supernatural creatures with no blood. Then I went looking through folklore and found the Craquehhe. So I used them. Likewise with the Djieien. I turned over a lot of ideas for the first Abyssal that January would meet. Eventually I settled on a giant spider. From there I looked at spiders in mythology, and found the Djieien.

Gadget is absolutely consulting the monster manual. That was exactly the image I was going for.







Blood Raven's fight music

Dominican black friar outfit

Mahd al-Aadiyya


Book 8.18 - Blood Ties

Blood Raven spared only a glance to January and the oniare down on the beach. She knew that her seven times great-granddaughter could face the monster. She had proved that at Ferndale Pride. She fixed her own attention upon the firewing, and more importantly, its master. Such a creature did not spontaneously appear in the middle of a lake. Within a volcano it might, but not here, in a place surrounded by water.

Someone had brought it hither. January's interrogation of Gola had revealed that their nemesis was able to teleport. Most likely he or she had brought it here from its fiery home. Clearly, this was a trap specifically for her. The Summoner must have guessed that she was a vampire, to employ a creature of fire against her. Or perhaps it was simply the fact that such a being possessed no blood, and thusly was immune to her blood-manipulating powers?

Cray noted the same over the communications link she shared with the rest of the team. The team, now that was a strange term. It was a notion she had not entertained since France, 1944. That had ended badly. She could only pray that her current allies fared better than her Resistance friends had then.

Those allies were now assembling upon the beach, even as a horde of revenants rose up from the sands. Just as January must face the Abyssal, the others must face these undead. It was providential that they were present to do so, for otherwise she would have been terribly outnumbered if she had been alone. It would have proved impossible for her to protect civilian lives, and take the fight to the creatures. The cost of even victory would have been horrific.

But were these newfound allies really her team? Nay, they were January's. She was the one who had brought them all together. They fought because she had inspired them to do so by her example. In just a few months, Stormcrow's public displays of compassion and courage had mobilized them to action. Not Blood Raven's silent and sometimes bloody work in the shadows. January was the true hero here.

The firewing interrupted that train of thought, as it regurgitated a sheet of flame down upon her. She raised one hand, and a golden wall of force sprang up between her and the elemental. This warded off the red-orange flames that reached out to snuff her from existence. She offhandedly replied with a bolt of arcane energy, and lanced a hole through one of its fiery wings. Not that such a wound slowed it for a moment. The flames simply grew over the injury, and there was no sign of it ever having existed a moment later.

Her true enemy was somewhere else. Somewhere down on the ground. This creature was but a pawn. She listened to the heartbeats racing below her, and felt the blood rocketing through their veins. One of them was her foe, but which one?

She reached out in the aether and felt for magical auras. Thanks to centuries of experience, she was able to easily shunt aside everything else. The auras of ordinary humans, plants, and animals simply vanished from her awareness. That left January and her friend Ôkami on the beach battling with the Abyssal and the revenants. The fire elemental was of course a literal bonfire of power above her. But nothing else registered in her awareness.

That was when she noted a man down below. He ran from the trees at the western end of the island, and paused at the fence that warded the surveillance tower. He vanished, then reappeared atop the tall, metal structure. There was a small crow's nest up there, that ringed the electronic devices which sprang from the central spire.

The newcomer wore a black mantle cloak and hood over a white monk's habit, reminding her of a Dominican Black Friar. His face was obscured by a black cloth mask. Rather than a cross, a large brass medallion hung from his neck, emblazoned with an Egyptian scarab beetle. He reached down into his robes, and drew forth what looked like a next generation assault rifle. But rather than a magazine of bullets slotted into place beneath its barrel, Blood Raven noted a large metallic bottle there instead.

She raised a new force field just moments before the newcomer could raise the weapon and loose a river of fire from its barrel. Like with the firewing, the flames simply licked harmlessly upon her magical defense. While the newcomer's aura betrayed not a hint of magical ability, this flame certainly did so. So too, did the weapon. Both were infused with Power. Now that it was out and in use, the enchanted weapon practically trumpeted its name across the aether to her: Flamebringer.

This could only be the Summoner. As she had previously surmised, he was cloaking his aura to appear as a mundane. He had also teleported, just as January had reported. There could be no other.

Blood Raven smiled. She almost bared her fangs, which ached to grow forth and rend the vile creature. So too, did the claws that slept within her fingers. Selene's Curse stirred within her, calling her to rip and tear until the blood jetted in great, hot geysers of crimson glory. Her heart pounded, and her own blood roared with killing fury.

But she did not give in to that wild, homicidal drive that hid within the breast of every vampire. She was not that beast, which ached to slay. It was the same beast that lurked within every ordinary human. However, those gifted by Selene also carried its stain far nearer to the surface of their souls. It was ever there, dreaming to be unleashed.

"I have spied the Summoner!" Blood Raven cried over the comm link. "He is mine."

She reached into one of the pouches of her utility belt and drew forth a grenade. She hurled it down upon the Summoner. He lowered his flamethrower, and clutched at the scarab amulet that hung from his neck. A field of shimmering gold sprang from it and surrounded him. The grenade struck this and exploded in a shower of glittering crimson particles. They shimmered in the air, and rather than fall to the earth, floated around the Summoner. In fact, they floated right through his arcane shield, and clung greedily to his robe and hood.

Blood Raven immediately reached out for his blood. She would end this quickly, by ripping it from his body. She could then solidify it and use it to spear the firewing above. But as with the oniare, her magical efforts found no purchase upon that sweet, sanguine flow. Nor did they upon his life force in general. His amulet's ward ringed his aura, driving away all of her efforts.

That left the direct approach. Blood Raven arrowed through the sky to face him. Her feet struck the metal platform, and she stood directly in front of him. She instantly struck out with Y Ddraig Aur. There was little room to use the longsword in the confined space. So she reversed her grip on the hilt, and swung backhanded to reduce its reach.

The Summoner made a pass with his hands then. The cloak around his aura prevented Blood Raven from sensing the magical forces he had invoked. However, they came to naught, and no new spells issued forth from his being. Instead he was still standing there when her longsword struck home.

Brilliant gold sparks kicked up as the dragon-blade hammered home against his arcane shield. He reeled back and sagged against the steel rails that bordered the small, triangular platform. He cried out in shock, and raised his hands defensively above him.

"Oh, were you hoping to flee? Let me introduce you to the Powder of Mahd al-Aadiyya," Blood Raven smiled at the tiny red motes that floated in the air around them. "It prevents all forms of teleportation. There will be no escape for you this time Summoner."

Blood Raven readied another blow when flame licked down her back. Not even the fireproofing in her black and red armor was able to ward off this assault. The magical flame melted dragon silk and Chobham armor alike. It licked through her frame, and ate away at her flesh.

She arched her body in agony, and could not prevent a groan from escaping her gritted teeth. The Summoner regained his courage at this momentary display of vulnerability, and once more loosed his flamethrower upon her. Again more fire wreathed her with torment.

Blood Raven ducked low and stretched out her legs to get as far down to the steel platform as possible. She conjured up a force field above her now, and allowed it to stretch out in all directions. This blocked the flame from both the Summoner and the firewing flying around the tower.

The elemental came down closer now, and settled its back claws upon the steel railing behind Blood Raven. The metal bar slowly melted and sagged under the combination of the firewing's heat and weight. Its head snaked down, and let loose another torrent of flame. Once again, Blood Raven's shield held it. However the tower did not fare as well. The central peak of its steel superstructure melted away and collapsed entirely, pin-wheeling away down to the dirt and grass below.

Blood Raven rose and unleashed a side kick into the belly of the beast. The elemental's roar was cut short, and the flames sputtered from its mouth. It doubled over, and Blood Raven took advantage of the moment to reverse her grip on Y Ddraig Aur. She grasped the longsword by the rune-etched blade with her left hand, and wielded it in a back-handed blow. One side of the sword's crossbar spiked into the firewing's leg, striking it like a hammer. The elemental bellowed in pain as the morte-strike crushed home, and spewed fire across the top of the tower.

Blood Raven struck again, this time at its other hind leg. Now the creature lost its grip on the railing and toppled from the perch. She heard its wings beat at the air in a mad effort to take control of its fall. But she had no more time for the creature. She returned her sword to a normal grip in her right hand, and spun around to face the Summoner.

She felt the aion of an arcane bolt hurtle through the air as she turned. She was able to dodge aside before the magical attack could burn through her, and the golden energy flashed past her to strike home in the ashy gray body of the elemental behind her. She faced the Summoner, who now raised his flamethrower and took aim from the opposite end of the platform.

Still, it was only a few feet that separated them. She reformed her force field to merely create a shield from her left hand. Leading with this bulwark of golden energy, she rushed forward, and slammed into the Summoner. He was too slow to dodge aside. The energy field crashed against his own defensive ward, and bounded off of it. However, the force of the charge rocked him back against the steel railing, which he momentarily hung upon.

Blood Raven's sword lashed out. Not at the Summoner, but at the two steel pipes that formed the safety railing that ringed the platform. The rune blade sheared through them like paper. They bent out under the Summoner's weight. He flailed for balance, but he lacked the dexterity to regain his feet.

Blood Raven planted a push kick dead into his chest. Again, his wards prevented the strike from causing him harm. But also again, the force of the blow sent him sailing backward. The tortured railing could not save him this time. It snapped off, and he went over with it. His arms and legs pin-wheeled in an almost comical fashion, and a high pitched scream ripped from his throat.

Blood Raven did not hesitate. She leaped after him face-first. She could sense the firewing behind her. It was closing in once more. She felt a wave of heat wash over her, as the platform was engulfed in flames. But she was already gone, falling straight down above the Summoner. She took Y Ddraig Aur in both hands now, one on the grip, the other on the blade. She held it point down, ready to drop directly atop the Summoner as soon as he struck ground, and spear him on the point.

But she did not have the opportunity. The firewing came swooping in. Its jaws clamped down hard upon her torso, and crushed her between them. Flame sprouted from each of those fangs, and incinerated flesh and bone beneath them. A scream tore its way from her throat, but only for a moment. Then she had hold of herself again.

She gritted her teeth, and bit back the agony that erupted through her body. She was a fighter. She would not be laid low by some overgrown lizard stuffed with Lucifer matches. She would overcome.

The elemental's momentum sent them flying across the island. While they soared away from the Summoner, Blood Raven called up her aion. She sent out a tendril of power from each of her hands. These tentacles lassoed about each of the elemental's jaws. Once they had taken firm hold of the beast they pulled apart. The monster fought against them of course. It clamped down even harder. But to no avail. The force of Blood Raven's will was far stronger than the magma of the firewing's body. After a moment the creature's lower jaw was literally ripped from its head. The jawbone flared brightly as it fell, only to wink from existence a moment later, like a flame run out of oxygen.

Blood Raven turned back to search for the Summoner as the firewing flailed in the air behind her. She set her eyes upon the now burned and battered surveillance tower, and roared toward it like one of her great-grandson Jack Parson's rockets. She would find her enemy there, and finish this for once and all.


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Acadian
post Dec 19 2021, 07:54 PM
Post #506


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A wonderful idea to portray this powerful episode from the perspective of Blood Raven.

’She could only pray that her current allies fared better than her Resistance friends had then.’
- - A poignant thought that reminds us of her long history and vast experience.

’But were these newfound allies really her team? Nay, they were January's. She was the one who had brought them all together. They fought because she had inspired them to do so by her example. In just a few months, Stormcrow's public displays of compassion and courage had mobilized them to action. Not Blood Raven's silent and sometimes bloody work in the shadows. January was the true hero here.’
- - A remarkable observation from Blood Raven that surprised me – initially. But, in another sense, this is no surprise at all. So she thinks of these superallies coming together as January’s handiwork. I have no doubt that January would disagree and sees Blood Raven as the glue that holds this group together. This magnificently displays the similarities, differences and unique synergy between the two women.

The Summoner arrives. And the ability to mask his aura explains much.

’So too, did the claws that slept within her fingers.’
- - Some masterfully evocative word crafting here. Wow.

We’ve not really seen Blood Raven need to use the full range of her awesome abilities - until now. And by Kynareth’s wings, awesome is the right word! Unfortunately, the firefoe at her back and the shielded summoner to her front are a formidable duo.

Biting my nails until the next episode.


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Renee
post Dec 20 2021, 07:35 PM
Post #507


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Yes, Raven is part of a team, this is true. Thing is, I suspect that after living for centuries, maybe she thinks she's possibly done it all in regards to battle and combat situations. And maybe I am wrong, but it seems like the true answer is she's not seen & done it all. This situation, with her many times great granddaughter AND her friends is something new. Probably more of a frantic experience, because she's not in control quite as much.

QUOTE
But were these newfound allies really her team? Nay, they were January's. She was the one who had brought them all together.


Spiritually, they are hers. The way Intel (IBM?) and Hewlett-Packard spiritually are the grand-computing companies which spawned all the others. tongue.gif Yeah, Jan brought some of her friends into it, but who is actually mentoring? Who will they all look up to? Who is the grand-master at the table with way more XP than anyone else? tongue.gif

Well, yeah, okay. The story hasn't gotten quite that far yet. Not once so far have they all gathered together, and Raven says "I call the room to ORDER!" But you know what I mean? When Jan and Hannah were playing around in the Tardis room, it was Raven who was in charge. Who gave them breaks, even.

/Reneegettingtoodeep tongue.gif

QUOTE
"I have spied the Summoner!" Blood Raven cried over the comm link. "He is mine."


That's Raven's one-liner! Similar to "I'll be back!"

Uh oh, Branwen's in trouble. So January's underwater / in trouble, and now Raven's getting burned / in trouble. I notice you're going from hero to hero. First Jan, now Branwen. Will next week be Okami? Or Lighthammer? Guess we'll find out.

QUOTE
Renee: One thing I have learned from reading authors like Lovecraft,....


Interesting, I did not know you construct these monsters like so. But wasn't Gola (the Native American creature with Jan's cheap cell phone) based on real-life legends?

Lovecraft rules. It's a shame he died in poverty (Close enough, anyway), and too young in my opinion. Had no idea of all the fiction / games / movies / writers he'd inspire. sad.gif

This post has been edited by Renee: Dec 20 2021, 07:37 PM
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SubRosa
post Dec 25 2021, 06:46 PM
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Acadian: The last time Blood Raven was part of a team, the rest were all killed by Nazis. I never really thought about it until now, but that might be one reason she has spent her super career generally working alone, or only in temporary team-ups on specific cases.

When I wrote that observation by Blood Raven that this was January's team it was because they are all there for January, not for Blood Raven. Lighthammer is there because January took the time to develop a relationship with him. Hannah originally came to Michigan not looking for Blood Raven to teach her, but for Stormcrow. Okami is there because he is January's friend, and he trusts her. Isaac helped by supplying junk to make their poppets because of January. He also helped work on Okami's new hoverbike and car due to her. So it is Jan who is bringing them all together.

On the other hand, Blood Raven is definitely the general in command. As you said, she has more XP than all the others put together. She is the one driving the investigation against the Summoner, going back to before January even became Stormcrow. So she is clearly the impetus behind the team's current driving goal. But she is not the reason they exist in the first place.

We still have not seen Blood Raven go all out. Partly because these baddies are specifically chosen because her blood powers won't work on them. Partly because she has just not had time to do all she is capable of yet. She will have another episode from her POV in a bit that will show that. Then later in Book 10, I expect we will see everything.



Renee: One thing Blood Raven is always saying to January is that the world is wider, and stranger, than anyone ever imagines. She includes herself in that as well. She has seen and done an awful lot. But she knows that there are still some things even beyond her.

You are right in your guess that we will be jumping between characters each episode. This fight is so big, that I wanted to show all of it. The only way to really do that was do give everyone involved their own scene or two. Today's episode will be from Hannah's POV. Then we will get one from Lighthammer and Okami's. Then we will be going back to January, and Blood Raven, and to a new person. The entire team has yet to assemble! They just don't know it yet.

Come to think of it, Blood Raven does not have a signature catch-phrase or battle cry. Like January has "Valhalla Awaits", or the Thing has "It's Clobberin' Time!". I should sit down and workshop something.

Gola is also based on a RL creature from Cherokee folklore: the Raven Mocker. With her I wanted a ghost that could create illusions, and fed off life force. So I worked backward from there and found the Raven Mocker, which is a similar being. Though they don't have the illusion powers. I decided to give Gola that.








The USCGC Bristol Bay

The USCGC Bristol Bay Close Up



Book 8.19 - Blood Ties

Vortex dropped off Blood Raven back in the gazebo in the park. She remembered it well. It was the place where she had ended that frantic chase between her, January, and her father. It was also the place where she had first kissed January. That alone was enough to make it unforgettable.

But she was not that girl who was on the run and looking for help anymore. She was in a suit now. It was the backup Stormcrow suit, but a suit nonetheless. She was a super now, just like Stormcrow and Blood Raven.

She wrapped spacetime close about her, like a warm blanket on a cold winter's night. She loosed it a moment later, and found herself standing in the back yard of the Witch House. She had one more person to pick up. Someone named Ôkami. January had mentioned him once before.

It was an odd name. It sounded Japanese. Vortex did not like what that might portend.

She waited in the yard and fidgeted. Trees rose up on all sides, save for the three stories of the Witch House. Thankfully there was no one to see her standing there in January's back up super suit. She just had to wait. Wait for this other person to show up. Wait while the real fight was going on. Wait while January could be in trouble. Wait while she might (hopefully) be already saving the day. Wait while January might need her. Wait while-.

A mechanical hum filled her ears. She turned to see a black, white, and gray hoverbike come sailing over the driveway, and halt in mid air just a few inches above the grass in the yard. Straddling it was a man clad in samurai armor. She recognized the base layer of the suit as dragon silk, the same woven armor that Blood Raven wore. Strips of metal painted black and white wrapped around his chest, shoulders, forearms, and shins. A Japanese style helmet sat atop his head, with a wolf crest that rose above his forehead, and mask that covered his nose and mouth.

A katana hung from his hip. Its hexagonal crossguard was made of dark bronze, and was carved with images of wolves. The long grip was wrapped in a crisscrossing pattern of black and white cloth, and another wolf's head was displayed upon the tip of the pommel. The blade of the sword was hidden within a black, lacquered scabbard, which was decorated with bone fittings.

Vortex stared at the samurai's eyes. They looked cold and dead, lifeless, like those of a shark. They were the only part of his features that she could see. She felt her heart race, and her palms sweat. A chill ran up her spine. She had to fight to breathe, and the world began to swim around her.

"You tell him to get here now," the hitman's voice rang out in Hannah's ears. It was rough and guttural, the English heavily accented with Japanese. She could see tattoos climbing his bared arms. Then he clapped his pistol across her mother's face. A geyser of blood from her nose sprayed across the floor, and splashed hot against Hannah's skin. "Get on the damned phone and call him. Or he's going to need to find a new daughter..."

"You must be Vortex. I am Ôkami."

Hannah nearly jumped out of her skin when the science fiction samurai spoke. Still, at least his voice pulled her out of that memory, one she wished she could forget.

He sat there on his wheel-less motorcycle, hovering in the air. He made no motion to get off. He just stared at her. As if he expected her to do something.

"Right," Vortex forced her mouth to work. "January sent me for you. We have to go."

"No real names," the samurai said sharply. "Maintain operational security whenever we are in the armor."

Operational security, Vortex was sick to death of hearing that phrase already. She gritted her teeth to prevent herself from making a snarky reply. Instead she forced herself forward, and stepped up to the man and his hoverbike.

She had teleported with another person before, many times in fact. But she had never done it with both a person and something as large as the floating bike. She had no idea if she could do it. Or what might happen if she failed. Well, if something went wrong, this was the person for it to fail with. The world would not be missing one more of his ilk.

She laid one hand on the hoverbike. She stared at her other hand, then at Ôkami. She did not want to touch him. She willed her hand to reach out. But it did not want to move. She did not want to move.

"Valhalla awaits you níðingr!" January's voice rang out over the com link. That snapped Vortex out of her paralysis. She clapped down her hand hard upon the samurai's armor-plated shoulder. Before she could be overcome with revulsion, she pulled in spacetime, and rode the warps she folded into its surface.

Then they were back in the gazebo once more. The wedding party ringed the structure. Thankfully they had moved out of it, for Ôkami and his hoverbike barely fit within the cramped space. Instead the people all clustered around the sidewalk that ringed the gazebo instead. Many had phones out to record their arrival, and the professional photographer was of course snapping pictures with the rest of them. Now Vortex understood how January found herself on the internet so often. Everyone had a camera these days.

Vortex let go of the samurai as soon as she could. He goosed the throttle, and drove the floating motorcycle right through the benches that circled the interior of the gazebo. He did not knock them down, or destroy them. He simply slid through them like a ghost, leaving them unchanged in his wake.

It was just like how her father could move through things when he lowered his density enough to become intangible.

"Come, I will take us to the island." The samurai turned back, and reached out one hand for her. Hannah felt a shiver run through her body when those lifeless eyes locked on her.

"Get on the damned phone and call him. Or he's going to need to find a new daughter..."

Vortex did not touch him. Instead she teleported straight ahead, as far as her eyes could see. She rematerialized alone over open water, and felt her stomach drop as she plummeted toward the waves below. She picked a spot directly ahead and teleported once more. Again, she reappeared over the water. This time she plunged into the blue-green waves before she could grab hold of spacetime and bend it to her will a third time.

The waves closed over her head as she sank down. But she knew how to swim. She was born and raised in California after all. Even if it was not as warm year-round as LA was, San Francisco still had its beaches. She was no stranger to the ocean. If Lake St. Clair thought it was something, she would introduce it to the riptides of Ocean Beach.

She kicked her way to the surface with ease, and filled her lungs with air. She took a few moments to turn this way and that. Then she saw a cluster of boats in one direction. That had to be the place. She focused on one of the watercraft, and pulled spacetime from it to her.

She was standing on the deck of a forty foot cabin cruiser a moment later. Women in skimpy bathing suits and men in boat shorts all leaped up in surprise as she took shape in their midst. One dropped a cup of beer all over her. She held back her outrage, and in fact did her best to ignore them all. Instead she focused on getting to where the action was.

What followed was a quick series of short jumps, as she hopped from one boat to the next. She only paused a moment to wash away the spilled beer with a liberal dousing of water from a borrowed bottle. Each time she made her way farther into the ring of vessels that surrounded the island. She could see what looked like a dragon made of fire and magma flying overhead, doing battle with Blood Raven. The heroine was very distinctive in her red and black armor, and flew through the air around a steel tower in the center of the island.

She was about to teleport beside the heroine, when a strange man's voice rumbled in her ear.

"Right," the deep voice said. "The oniare is headed for the water, cut him off if you please Stormcrow. Ôkami, deal with the craquehhe on the beach. Vortex, your job is crowd control. Get people out of danger. Drop them on that Coast Guard cutter, or over to one of the riverbanks."

"I can fight!" Hannah cried out in reply. "And who are you anyway?"

"He's the eyes and ears we lack," January's voice sounded in her ear. "Do what he says. Saving lives is the most important thing here. It always is. Start by getting people off this beach."

Hannah fumed. She knew she could fight. Hadn't she sent both January and her father flying, not once, but twice? She didn't have to be babied. She knew what she was doing!

Still, January was the voice of experience. She definitely knew what she was doing. She could in the very least listen to her, for now.

The rings of boats, and individual watercraft between them, blocked most of her view. That forced her to waste more time hopping from boat to boat. She was tempted to teleport herself high up into the air. She could get a good view from above. But the trouble with that was the falling part that happened afterward. Her most recent dip into Lake St. Clair dissuaded her from tying that again.

Then she spied the Coast Guard cutter that the deep-voiced man had mentioned. Its black hull sat low in the water, so low that it looked like it might sink at any moment. But its white superstructure rose up several stories above the main deck. It was so high that she wondered how it did not tip over. That would give her a perfect view.

The next moment she was standing atop a mast that rose from the bridge of the ship. There was a small crow's nest there, surrounded by electronics and the blades of a radar array that circled overhead. Hannah took a moment to grab hold of the main mast, and steadied herself as the ship rocked beneath her. She saw sailors down there, scurrying about the deck. Thankfully they had not noticed her yet.

She lifted her gaze across the sea of boats, to the shores of Gull Island. She saw January battling there with that thing they called an oniare. It looked like something from a nightmare: half shadow monster, half sea beast. Over a dozen other monsters roamed the beach. They looked like zombies, and apparently were, from what she heard over the communications link.

Now she knew what to do. She saw one of these undead creatures reach out for a woman in a pink bikini. The next moment Hannah was standing between them. She pulled on the fabric of the universe, and a force field sprang up before the zombie. After all the practicing with Blood Raven, it was child's play to create. She barely even had to concentrate to make it happen.

The monster flailed against the energy field, and it shuddered under the force of the blows. Hannah stared back in shock. That was not supposed to happen! Blood Raven and January had never hit her force fields with such power. Either they had been holding back, or these creatures were insanely strong.

She turned to the bikini-clad woman. She was blond, slender, and quite nice to look at, all things considered. Hannah took hold of her arm, and the two of them vanished. They reappeared on the deck of the Coast Guard cutter. The sailors around them looked up in surprise. Hannah tried to think of what Stormcrow would do, and gave them a little wave.

"Hi, I'm Vortex," she said. "I'm here to help. I'll be bringing people over here where it's safe."

With that she was gone, and back on the beach. Once again, one of the zombies immediately rushed at her. Once more a force field held it off. She grabbed two revelers, and disappeared with them both. They all reappeared back on the deck of the Coast Guard ship.

She was getting good at this.

Before going back for the next batch, she pulled out her phone, now made "operationally secure" by January's computer nerd friend. She tapped the screen a few times, and waited for the call to go through. While she did, she teleported back to the beach, and grabbed hold of a random person. A moment later she was back on the Coast Guard cutter, and a male voice came over the line.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Daddy? I need your help," Hannah said.


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Renee
post Dec 26 2021, 02:20 PM
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Yes, Raven needs a signature one-liner. wink.gif But what she said in the last episode will do for a one-time one-liner.

I like how it's now focusing on Hannah's thoughts. That's intense. I wonder what it'll be like to peer within Okami, with all his neuroses and social conditions.

QUOTE
Wait for this other person to show up. Wait while the real fight was going on. Wait while January could be in trouble. Wait while she might (hopefully) be already saving the day. Wait while January might need her. Wait while-.


Love that part. It builds until Okami's silly transportation shows. Whoa. She's having a flashback, Hannah/Vortex is. sad.gif Man, what a douche. That's her father, right?

Oh my gosh. Okami's all business. Wow, Jobbie Nooner folks are still on the beach? What's wrong with them? Don't they know what's going on? Heh, maybe they are that drunk. wacko.gif

Cool. NICE! You go, Vortex. She's even getting upset a bit when she feels she's being pampered by the others. Which is natural, I'd think.

QUOTE
Before going back for the next batch, she pulled out her phone, now made "operationally secure" by January's computer nerd friend.


rollinglaugh.gif rollinglaugh.gif rollinglaugh.gif Spew!

Wait, she calls her dad? Well hey, at least we know he'll be able to knock some craquehhe around.
`

This post has been edited by Renee: Dec 26 2021, 02:31 PM
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Acadian
post Dec 28 2021, 07:37 PM
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Neat to see things from Hannah’s perspective. Also somehow reassuring to see that how Jan sees her is reinforced in this episode.

Some wonderful funny moments here as her rebellious streak shines.

And we learn that she carries some mysterious baggage that does not help her and Okami start off well. And the socially awkward ninja doesn’t really help the situation. Hopefully, they will warm to each other with time.

I liked how Vortex teleportleapfrogged to the action.

Hopefully, she’ll quickly realize how critical her role is and that she is far and away the most capable one for the task.

Calling on Daddy? That was unexpected and I look forward to learning what she has in mind.


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SubRosa
post Jan 1 2022, 06:31 PM
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Renee: I have a workshopped some Raven Speech. But I am by no means finished. So far the best candidate I have is: "The ravens come for you."

That wasn't her father in the flashback. That was the Japanese hitman who came to kill her father, and found Hannah and her mother instead. She referenced it before, when January, Hannah, and her dad finally all talked it out in the gazebo (which I think was about 3 months ago IRL time).

The people on the beach are that drunk. They are also panicking, and not acting rationally because of that. Some people do some pretty stupid things when faced with danger.

Hungry Ghost will definitely be able to knock some zombies around, and other things...


Acadian: Like January, Hannah is 19. So she is filled with both the certainty and the exuberance of youth.

Hannah does have a lot of baggage, thanks to her father being a supervillain. Also simply due to her Chinese heritage, which for many comes with a lot of animosity for Japan. The Japanese did not make a lot of friends in and before WWII.

Hungry Ghost will definitely play an important role in the battle to come. As will another hero we have yet to meet.





Ryo/ Ôkami (RL Alex Mallari jr)

Samurai Armor

Chujitsu inspiration

General inspiration for Lighthammer (except most of his head is covered by a helmet)

A-10 Thunderbolt/Warthog


One of the Allies' Theme songs



Book 8.20 - Blood Ties

Ôkami waded through the monsters on the beach, faithful blade in hand. But there were too many revenants, and too many civilians. He could not fight the first and keep the latter safe at the same time. That made his course clear. Save as many innocents as he could.

So after decapitating that first monster that had been attempted to drag Stormcrow down, he spent most of his time taking celebrants and fading with them. That allowed him to protect them from the revenant's attacks, as the monsters could not reach them while they were faded from reality. It also allowed him to run them off the beach, to the relative safety of either the water or the grasslands farther down the shore.

Thankfully the zombies remained on the beach, at least so far. Perhaps they had been given orders to stay there? Or they just had no will or desire to leave? Or perhaps their attention was simply taken up by those who had yet to flee the sands? Ôkami could not tell.

He saw a craquehhe come up behind a reveler, and raced forward. He grabbed hold of the young man before the creature's hands could smash through his skull. They faded, and the revenant's bony fingers passed through them both harmlessly. Then Ôkami pushed himself. He and his charge remained out of phase with the physical world, but he allowed his sword to return to normal space.

Chujitsu lanced out, and speared the craquehhe in the face. With a flick of his wrist, the blackened steel of the blade sliced clean through the monster's skull, and out the side of its head. Still keeping the rest of his body out of phase, Ôkami pushed the celebrant down to give him more room. With a single back-handed sweep, he took what remained of the craquehhe's head clean off its shoulders. Chujitsu howled with delight, like a wolf calling to its mates under a moonlit sky.

He pulled the young celebrant along with him down the beach, both of them still faded. Then once they were clear of the monsters, he let the man go. He knew that he was moving too slowly. There were too many people, and too many zombies. He needed to change his tactics.

"Ôkami, this isn't working," Gadget echoed his thoughts over the communications links. "Instead of getting people away from the zombies, why not try attracting them to you instead?"

"Act as bait?" Ôkami replied. "How do I do that?"

"I dunno, advertise free brains?" Gadget murmured. "What do zombies like?"

"The Bestiary says they seek living prey, and will greedily devour any human parts, and will not stop until their stomachs are full." Cray now joined the conversation.

"I have an idea." Ôkami replied. He pulled off one of his gauntlets, and laid Chujitsu against his bared flesh. His eyes moved from the blackened steel at the back of the sword, to the characteristic wavy lines of the pattern-welded steel along its cutting edge. He knew what he had to do. He just did not like it. He gritted his teeth, and did the deed.

With a single slash, he tore open the flesh of his palm. Blood rained across his hand, and down to the brown sand below.

The body is not a prison of flesh. It was nothing but a tool that he wore to perform the work of living. That tool labored in the hand of his spirit. The spirit did not feel pain. Neither did a tool. Therefore pain did not exist.

All was emptiness, the flashing sword, and the arms that wielded it. Even the thought of emptiness must no longer be there. From this absolute emptiness came the most wondrous unfoldment of doing.


Ôkami acted with no further thought. He leapt in front of the nearest of the craquehhe, and snapped his hand in front of its face. His blood splattered across its features. The creature instantly took its eyes from the civilians it had been advancing upon, and turned to face him instead.

But Ôkami was already bounding away, to find the next zombie, and the next. With each one he used his own blood as a lure. They took this bait eagerly, ignoring everything else in return for the promise of hot, fresh blood. Soon the craquehhe were pressing in on him from all sides. He would have been quickly overwhelmed by the mob and crushed beneath their weight. But he simply faded, and slipped through them to open space beyond. In this manner he led them on a merry chase, away from the celebrants who were finally making themselves scarce from the beach.

* * *

Lighthammer burned through the air like a missile. His onboard computer told him that he had long-since passed Mach 2. His old Warthog could have never even come close to this speed. It could not even make Mach 1. Now he knew how those old F4 drivers at the VA hospital felt when they talked about hitting the afterburners and sitting on top of a rocket.

He cut across Windsor and lower Ontario in less than a minute. Then he was out over Lake St. Clair. Ever since he had met Stormcrow, he sure was spending a lot of time here up north. He was going to have to get used to life beyond Lake Erie. For now though, he followed the pin that Gadget had dropped in his computer's map, and was now displayed upon his helmet's heads up display.

It led him straight to Gull Island. It was easy enough to find. It was the one with a fleet of boats around it. It was also the one with the giant flaming lizard flying overhead. That was something else that had changed since he had met Stormcrow. Life sure had gotten a lot weirder!

"Lighthammer, see if you can lend Ôkami a hand on the beach," the mellow tones of Cray filled his ears. "Use your new heat lasers, not the hard light."

"Roger that, I am rolling in." Lighthammer cut back on his speed drastically as he approached the island. By the time he passed over the first of the ships he had dropped down to subsonic speeds. He was still moving at a good clip when he came up on the beach however, as fast as the old days when he did this in his A-10.

This was a lot more dicey however. Back in those days, he did not have to worry about friendlies being in the line of fire. There were danger close missions to be sure, but nothing where he was literally firing into a crowd that included people on his own side.

"Keep your head down Ôkami," Lighthammer said. "I'm about to light things up."

"Do not concern yourself on my account," the other man said in very precise language. "You will not strike me."

Lighthammer hoped he knew what he was talking about, because it was time to cut loose. He raised his palms and opened up with his new and improved lasers. This was his first time using them outside of practice with Stormcrow. Thanks to her, he had learned more about using his powers than he ever had in the months before he had met her. She pushed him, like no one else ever had. He had to admit, she was a good influence.

The high intensity beams of light that shone from his palms lanced out, and fried all they came into contact with below. Zombies were sliced in two, three, and even four parts, depending on where the rays of searing light cut through them. Sand fused into glass. Numerous bodies collapsed to the ground, Lighthammer nodded in satisfaction when he confirmed that none of them were the good guys.

He pulled to the left to avoid a steel tower in the middle of the island. Blood Raven stood atop a platform at its peak, and appeared to be fighting with a man in black and white monk's robes. The great flaming lizard winged around her, and spewed gouts of fire her way. She warded these off with those golden force shields that she made. But it was clearly not a fair fight.

"You must be more precise," Ôkami's words burst his balloon. "They are not dead. Only total body destruction - or that of the head - will finish them."

"Everybody's a critic," Lighthammer murmured. He came to a halt on the western side of the island. The trees on that side of the isle blocked off the beach from his sight. But he had a great view of the firewing. So when he kicked back up the speed, he made sure to send it a care package of hard light, courtesy of the Air Force.

"Hooaah!" he exclaimed with gusto. He was back down on the beach seconds later. This time instead of another strafing run, he came to a halt in the air right above the center of the area. This gave him a fantastic view, and allowed him to pick and choose his targets with care. One after another, zombie heads evaporated under his lasers.

Soon they clambered after him. But thankfully he was able to fly above the reach of their arms. He finally got a good look at his counterpart on the ground as well. He looked like some kind of samurai warrior, katana and all. He also noted that the man had a way of walking straight through people, like a ghost. But his sword was quite solid every time it hacked off a head.

"Lighthammer, watch the fringes," Cray's voice came over the comm. "Make sure they stay on the beach."

"I hear you coach," he murmured. He saw what the hacker was referring to. Several of the zombies were climbing up onto a speedboat that had been pulled up onto the edge of the beach. He could see people hiding inside, trying to stay low. But apparently not low enough, for the monsters were now working their way up the side of the vessel.

Lighthammer did not move in their direction. That would have brought the pack at his feet with him, and only made matters worse. So instead he took his time, and picked off the zombies one by one. The final one had scaled up the side of the boat and stood over the edge of its hull. That silhouetted him perfectly against the horizon. It was easier than ever to take his head clean off.


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Acadian
post Jan 1 2022, 07:47 PM
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Wow, very clever of Ôkami (with some help from Gadget and Cray) to bait the zombies, then fade when in danger of being overwhelmed. Lead them on a merry bloody chase indeed!


The Hammer’s here!

’Now he knew how those old F4 drivers at the VA hospital felt when they talked about hitting the afterburners and sitting on top of a rocket.’
- - By Kynareth’s wings, she was fast! wink.gif

And we see the influence that Stormcrow has had on Lighthammer, with his reference to her help with magic. That goes right along with Blood Raven’s previous observation that it really is Stormcrow who draws these other allies to her.


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Renee
post Jan 2 2022, 06:24 PM
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That's good to see what Okami looks like. Definitely the guy I'd want sitting next to me on the bus (protection, nobody's gonna mess with him very often). But there's also a look in that guy's face which says he's not some gangbanger who's gonna steal our purse or try to commit some other egregious act. I'm not kidding. When I used to live in bigger cities, sometimes I would purposely sit next to a guy like that, if I were riding a bus in rougher parts of town.

Damn, he cut hisself! ... Therefore pain does not exist??? blink.gif Lord have mercy, Okami's hardcore. That's right, craquehheads, it's dinner time!


QUOTE
away from the celebrants who were finally making themselves scarce from the beach.


Um. Yeah, that's a good idea. I don't care how much Milwaukee's Best is flowing, or how tough some of these guys think they are. Get... Off... That ... Beach!

Good job at distinguishing all these different personalities, by the way. It's now Lighthammer's turn and his immediate thoughts back to his military days are something which only fit with the hammer. But it's also the feel of his thoughts that is different. I dunno. Having a hard time saying what I mean. Hannah comes across as creative in her approach, but also a little ditzy when it's just her & Jan. Okami's not so good with social situations, but here in action, he's really focused. Lighthammer is just confidence, which has been bred from being a soldier.

Yeah that's right. Blow those crackhead zombies to smithereens! Hooah! laugh.gif

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SubRosa
post Jan 8 2022, 06:38 PM
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Acadian: Okami does not have force fields or similar powers that might wall of the zombies. So I was a little stumped at what he might do to try to contain the horde. That is when I got the idea of using their own thirst for blood against them, along with his own ability to go out of phase and be immune to their attacks.

I knew you would appreciate the F4 reference! Given that the Hammer flew A-10s, he has probably never gone that fast before.

Lighthammer's observations on how meeting January has expanded his horizons, and made the world a lot weirder, were fun to write.


Renee: Okami/Ryo would be a good person to sit by on the bus. Anyone who F's with his is going to find out. As you noted, he is hardcore. Those references to things like pain not existing and emptiness are quotes from Zen masters. He is very much a samurai warrior, with that razor sharp focus of will.

Lighthammer is definitely pure confidence. He is an air force pilot after all! He has swagger to spare. Well, at least he did back when he still had both of his legs. But he still swaggers with the best of them. Hooah!






The USCGC Bristol Bay

The USCGC Bristol Bay Close Up


Book 8.21 - Blood Ties

January grappled with the oniare in the water. It was like trying to wrestle a snake that had wings, because in fact, that was what she was doing. She knew some basic Greco-Roman wrestling moves. But arm and leg holds were spectacularly unhelpful when fighting an opponent who possessed neither appendages. Likewise throws of were little use underwater. Instead she relied upon muay thai, as she usually did when a fight became very close. She planted an elbow here, and a knee there, and struggled against the creature.

But the water hindered her movements. Even without it, when her blows landed the Abyssal seemed to take little notice of them. It seemed to be built of rawhide. Its flesh gave - then sprang back - under every blow. So too did its aura. For thanks to Blood Raven's observations, January now knew that her attacks were inherently magical in nature. They struck in astral space, just as they did in the physical world. That was why she was able to harm creatures such as the djieien, which were immune to ordinary weaponry. Yet this creature shrugged off the magical components of her assaults just as easily as it did the physical. It was clearly a tank, in both the mundane and astral realms.

In the very least the monster was having the same difficulties against her. It tried to bite, and head butt, and slash at her with its wings. But all of these were for naught against her hagfish suit and cubic boron nitride armor plates. It was more successful with the spike on its tail. This drove through even the nanotwinned metal of her chest plate. But it too was turned helplessly aside by January's adamantine flesh.

So they twisted and turned through the water. Sometimes the struggle briefly took them to the surface. But most of the affair was below the blue-green waves. January was thankful for the self contained air supply that Gadget had built into her helmet. But at the same time, she knew that she should be using magic to breathe the water instead. After all, there was no reason not to.

Well, except that whole drowning thing of course.

She was pushing herself enough by learning to use her wings to fly underwater. She did not want to split away too much of her focus at the moment. Perhaps later in the evening she might experiment with breathing water in the bathtub. With someone present who was trained in CPR.

Finally the oniare broke free and raced off through the waves. January could not see far under the water, as their fight had churned it up into a dense murk of floating particles. She imagined that being in the place where the river emptied into the lake might have something to do with the lack of clarity as well.

January pushed herself up, and sprang up above the turbid water. Her wings beat hard against the air, and it took her a moment to reorient herself from flying underwater to doing so in the air. But she had her bearings soon enough, and pushed herself skyward to get a better view of her surroundings.

She spotted the dark form of the oniare in moments. It passed under a row of boats tied side by side. Then it was into deeper water, farther from the island. At least that meant fewer boaters and people on inflatables. However the deeper water also meant that this was where that Coast Guard cutter waited.

January idly noted that the icebreaker was named the Bristol Bay as she shot down to try to intercept the monster. She could not help but compare the Abyssal to a torpedo as it charged directly at the ship. January pulled her wings in and held her arms down against her body. Her speed increased as she changed from flying down to literally falling at a steep angle. But she was still too late.

The oniare hit the side of the ship and punched through its hull as if it was made of balsa wood. Black-painted steel simply caved in under the monster, and the entire ship rocked violently from the force of the impact. January saw people cling to the rails and walls of the superstructure, at least those not thrown from their feet altogether. Many were uniformed Coast Guard members. But others were clearly ordinary people. January imagined they might be civilians Vortex had rescued from the beach. Talk about going from the frying pan to the fire!

January hit the water a moment later, and knifed through the waves directly behind the Abyssal. The next thing she knew, she was inside the ship with the monster. Water gushed in after her, and shoved her deeper into the vessel with titanic force. She planted her feet on the steel deck and became Earth. Just like that she was immovable. She was the mountain. She was adamant.

She was in a room that stank of grease and diesel. There was steel everywhere. Steel floor, steel walls, steel ceiling, steel pipes, steel machinery, steel levers and knobs. It was clearly some kind of engineering space. January noted water tight hatches at either end of the large compartment. It was toward these exits that the handful of crew members within the space fought to reach. But the oncoming water had ideas of its own.

"I need help inside the coast guard ship," January said over the comm link. "Vortex, bring Ôkami. He can get these people out of here quicker than I can."

The oniare loomed up above one of these people, a man who had slipped and fallen on the water-logged deck. January saw the creature's tail rise, showing off its long, pointed stinger. She transformed from Earth to Water. She flowed across the chamber, and was there before the Abyssal could strike home.

It hit January hard in the chest, and pierced her armor like it was paper. She reeled under the force of the blow, but she did not falter. She was Earth again. She was the mountain, she was adamant. She could take every blow the world gave her.

She followed up with a push kick that sent the monster sailing across the room. She leaped after it. The machinery crowded in too near to either side for her to deploy her wings. So she did it the old-fashioned way, with leg-power alone. She was back upon the creature in seconds, and unleashed a power punch at its head. It slipped to the side, and January's fist dimpled the steel bulkhead behind the monster.

"I'll keep it busy!" January yelled in the general direction of the crew members behind her. "Get out of here and seal the doors behind you."

"But you'll be trapped," one of the crew shouted back. January noted that she was a woman in her mid-thirties, with short blonde hair.

"I know!" January slipped a stab from the creature's tail, and replied with a jab at its eyeless face. The Abyssal's head rocked back, but otherwise it showed no signs of appreciable injury. Nothing she did seemed to harm it. She wished for the opportunity to strike it with lightning. Gadget had said it only feared the thunder god after all. But a lake was a bad place for electricity, and a steel boat an even worse one.

A dark shape dropped through the ceiling. It took January a moment to realize it was not Ôkami. Instead it was a man in black tactical gear, face covered by balaclava. He held a metallic staff in one hand, which appeared to have some sort of electronics built into the central grip.

"Hungry Ghost?" January's said in surprise. That surprise was all that the Abyssal needed to drive home a head butt, which sent her careening back through the room. She crashed into a massive pipe, which bent torturously under her, then cracked in two. A great vent of steam came up in a geyser, bathing her in heat and even more moisture.

"I heard you could use a hand." The Chinese man stepped up with his staff in one hand, extended to full length. He whipped it around in a backhand blow, and its ends passed harmlessly through the machinery to either side. But when it struck home in the side of the Abyssal's head, it was quite solid. The creature had been charging January, but this blow drove it back. That gave her the time to get back on her feet amidst the rushing water.

"Feldercarb!" January swore. "I asked for Ôkami because his sword might be able to kill this thing."

She allowed her voice to soften, and laid a friendly hand upon the man's shoulder. "But I'm glad you're here anyway. Get these people out and seal up the doors behind you."

"And you?" the Ghost asked.

"I don't know, I'm making this up as I go," January answered honestly.

The water was waist high by now, and more kept coming in every second. The ship was going to sink if they did not at least close off the room. But the Abyssal made escape - much less securing the water-tight doors - difficult. January made keeping it away from the crew her mission. Every time it made a move upon one of them, she put herself in its path. It hit hard. But she could take a hit.

In the meanwhile Hungry Ghost took the crew members one and two at a time, and walked through the walls with them. It was very easy to tell once he turned them intangible, for suddenly they were able to move through the water without impediment. They simply ran as one normally would on land.

Finally the hatches were sealed, and January was trapped inside with both the beast and the rising water. That was when the scream of tortured steel came to her ears. She turned to look, and saw that the gigantic hole that had been torn into the Abyssal's torpedo strike was now sealing itself closed. In front of her eyes the strips of metal that had been bent inward like the petals of a flower, now flowed back into the hull. One jagged ribbon of steel at a time, it all moved back and fused together into a single, solid mass, with no sign of cracks between the formerly splintered pieces. Just like that the hole was gone, and the hull seemingly pristine once more. The water stopped coming in, though the chamber was still filled chest-high at that point.

January had no idea what had caused that. None of their small team could manipulate metal that way. But she was not about to look a gift super in the mouth. Whatever had done that, it was clearly a good thing.

The Abyssal was less pleased. It looked up at the ceiling above and gathered itself. January moved forward to strike. But the water and cramped space slowed her down. She became Water herself, and flowed through the deluge. But the oniare was still faster.

It shot upward, straight into the ceiling. Just as with the hull earlier, the Abyssal burst through the steel as if it was paper, and disappeared from view overhead. January pursued without hesitation, and leaped through the gaping hole after it.

She found herself under the open sky once more. The hole was in the deck on one side of the ship, in the narrow walkway between the white superstructure and the black gunwale of the cutter. People crowded to either side. But all were staring up. January followed their gaze, and saw the oniare rise up over the top of the superstructure, and disappear from view.

Her wings snapped out, and she clawed for altitude. In just a moment she had risen two stories up the structure. That put her on the roof of the superstructure, which doubled as an elevated deck and was bordered on three sides by metal safety rails. To its fore rose a short and narrow third level that was lined with windows, and appeared to be the bridge of the vessel. Behind the elevated deck a single wide smokestack thrust itself skyward.

January could see members of the crew within the bridge look back in horror. Worse, there were half a dozen civilians out in the open on the deck. Clad in bathing suits, shorts, and tees, they were clearly refugees from the island. They were trapped between the monster and the bridge, which had no door entering directly onto the deck right behind it. The only escape was a pair of ladders on either side of the deck that led down to the next deck below, as well as a third ladder that rose up the radar mast above the bridge. The two side ladders were blocked by the Abyssal, and the final option soon became clogged with civilians trying to climb from danger.

But January got there first. As with the crew, she used her body as a shield, and took the blow meant to decapitate a reveler. A push kick sent the monster reeling against the railing at the back of the deck. That allowed January to advance, and get some room to maneuver.

It came back at her with a stab from that spiked tail. January ducked underneath it by doing the splits. Both of her legs splayed out horizontally to either side. That dropped her down to the deck below, while the monster's stinger whiffed air harmlessly overhead. She instantly struck out with both fists, connecting solidly into the creature's nether regions. Well, if it had such things.

The oniare reared back, and January could see its neck convulse, as if it was preparing to throw up or spit. It was not looking at January however. Its gaze was focused upon the people behind her. She somersaulted back in their direction and came up on her feet. She lifted her wings up in a wide shield, just moments before the monster could emit a spray of green liquid from its mouth.

The emerald goop that shot forth was caught by the indigo down of January's wings. It hissed angrily at the touch of her body, and burned like lava. With a snap of her wings, January swept most of it down to the deck between her and monster. She was careful to keep it away from the refugees however. Thunder rolled above them, and rain began to pelt down from above.

Now January knew what she needed to do. She leaped high up into the air, above the tops of the bridge and mast alike. The sky ripped apart at her command, and a great bolt of lightning tore loose. It did not lance down to spear the Abyssal on the deck below her however. No, it hammered directly into her instead. It bathed her in electricity, and filled her to the brim with it. It was like being hit by a freight train made of light and fire. But it did not hurt. It simply sent her hurtling back down, directly into the oniare.

January unleashed the most spectacular downward jumping elbow in all of her time practicing muay thai. Her elbow slammed into the top of the monster's head. All of that electricity gushed out, directly into the Abyssal's skull. Its head literally exploded in a great burst of light and sound, and its decapitated body fell to the deck, shoulders aflame.

January dropped to the deck a moment later. The lightning which she had trapped in her body had been spent in that one blow. She was glad to see that the electricity had not spread beyond the monster to anyone else on the ship. They were all safe and sound, and wet. For the rain now washed her from above like a cleansing shower, and drummed on the deck underfoot.

As January watched, the Abyssal's remains faded away. In the end all that was left were a few scorched bones, as if from a corpse, a human corpse.

She remembered the man from Ferndale. He had been used as a sacrifice to anchor the djieien there. Clearly, the Summoner had been up to his old tricks once more.


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Acadian
post Jan 8 2022, 09:33 PM
Post #515


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From: Las Vegas



Let me say that I do enjoy your predictable posting schedule. I look forward to sitting down with my lunch and another episode of the Stormcrow each Saturday. happy.gif


’But arm and leg holds were spectacularly unhelpful when fighting an opponent who possessed neither appendages.’ - - tongue.gif

Even during this desperate oniare battle, Jan sets a future goal of expanding her magicks to include water breathing.

As soon as the Bristol Bay got hit by that oniare-torpedo, I was thinking, ‘Oh noes, that’s where Vortex has been hauling partiers to safety!’ Jan quickly confirms this.

Close quarters battle in a tight, bad place for lightning. Urg. Unexpected help arrives! Not unexpected though is Jan’s focus on protecting the ship and those aboard with little self-regard. Looks like it’ll be up to her team to save the Stormcrow perhaps.

Wow, who was that who sealed up the ship?

Finally. The oniare makes a big mistake in going vertical and moving from his element up into January’s. Open sky at last! And it doesn’t take long for her to unleash a devastatingly precise and lethal lightning attack. And this was just a Summoner minion! Wonder how Blood Raven’s doing with the real deal?


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Renee
post Jan 11 2022, 02:25 PM
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Oh gosh, she's fighting underwater. So she can 'fly' underwater like a manta ray. Neat. Maybe she can try hitting that monster with a lightning bolt. Electricity travels through water, I think.

Hungry Ghost? Hannah's dad, right?

Jeezus Jan's getting beat up left and right in this episode. Poor thing. I like the part when she says she's making it up as she goes along.

Ah-ha, so this was all the Summoner's doing, eh. What a crazy episode.

This post has been edited by Renee: Jan 11 2022, 02:26 PM
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SubRosa
post Jan 15 2022, 06:17 AM
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Acadian: I do prefer having a "standard" posting schedule. I go for Saturday's because that is a day most folks have off work, and so (hopefully) have time to put aside to read.

Among other things, this is definitely a progression fantasy. January is always improving and expanding her repertoire of abilities in response to events. Like her wings. I do forsee an undersea adventure in the future where that water breathing will come in handy.

Talk about going from the frying pan to the fire, those people rescued from the beach found themselves right in the middle of it once more with the onaire.

We are going to meet that unseen ally who sealed up the ship in today's episode. Next week we will check back in with Blood Raven, to see how she is faring against the Summoner and the firewing.

The oniare left the interior of the ship because it ran out of easy targets. So it went up on deck to get at the civilians. It did not count upon January having a few things in common with the thunder god Hinon...


Renee: Electricity does conduct like wild underwater. But that would also electrocute all the innocent people in the area. So January has to be really careful when throwing around lightning bolts.

Hungry Ghost is indeed Hannah's dad, whom she called on the phone at the end of her episode.

Jan does take a beating. But she is like a Timex. She can take a licking and keep on ticking. When I make her in RPGs she is a tank, with Endurance being her top stat.

This entire battle is the Summoner's doing. It started with the summoning of that oniare.



Anishinabek Nation

Sheshegwaning First Nation

Blackhawk's Route South To Gull Island

Banded Armor example

Medicine Wheel

Blackhawk is Shannon Blackbird, a descendant of RL Andrew Jackson Blackbird



Book 8.22 - Blood Ties

Blackhawk pulled on the Earth's magnetic field, and reshaped it to her will. She rode it across the sky, and ate up miles in mere heartbeats. The familiar weight of her blue and green Armex Steel banded armor was a comfort, so too was the warm feeling of the planet's natural energies humming and flowing around her. The first would stop bullets and worse. The second was the ocean within which she swam.

A medicine wheel of white, yellow, red, and black wedges emblazoned the bands of steel across her chest. A black and white thunderbird was superimposed over its center, and three white feathers with black tips hung from the wheel's braided rim. It was her own creation, a mixture of her ancestral people the Sheshegwaning's own symbol, combined with that of the Anishinabek Nation union which they were a part of. It reminded her of who she was, where she had come from, and where she was headed.


She raced over the waves of the St. Clair River. Harsens Island passed by on her right, its shoreline dotted with cottages and boat docks. To her left stretched out Walpole Island, with its farms and forests. She crossed over the American side of the river, and cut across the wetlands and farms deeper within Harsens Island. Once clear of the coastline, the countryside turned much wilder. As with the other islands here in the St. Clair Flats, the ground was wet and marshy, home to more birds, fish, and other wildlife than humans.

Soon the St. Clair River curled in west to meet her once more. She followed it down the southernmost tip of Harsens Island, to where it emptied into Lake St. Clair. Here at the end of the wide river delta sat Gull Island. On most days it would be unremarkable. It was a tiny spot of land just beyond the mouth of the river. There were no homes here, no farms, no docks, just wetlands and a single, steel tower that rose up into the sky like a lonely sentinel among the frogs and herons.

But this was not most days. This was the last Friday of June. That meant Jobbie Nooner. Nearly a hundred thousand people, or perhaps more, were crowded around the tiny island in a fleet of boats both large and small. It was the most epically nautical party in the Great Lakes - if not anywhere else - fueled by alcohol, pharmacology, and nature's desires.

She wondered where they all went to the bathroom, and resolved to stay out of the water if she could avoid it.

The sounds of music and jubilant celebration were drowned out by screams and roars however. Over the island flew a giant lizard with a body of magma and wings of living fire. It seemed to be intent upon burning a smaller figure to a cinder. Blackhawk immediately recognized the black and red armor that figure wore, along with their mane of crimson hair. That was Blood Raven. She was not surprised that someone would want to kill her...

But that was not all there was. There was some sort of fighting on the beach, between what appeared to be a mob and a samurai. Oh, and that blue, white, and gray armored man she saw zipping around could only be Lighthammer, the infamous vigilante turned white hat from Cleveland.

Yet in spite of all this, the thing that drew her attention first was the American Coast Guard icebreaker near the shore. It sat low in the water, too low, and was visibly dropping farther and farther down into the lake every second.

She had no idea what was going on here. The reports that had flashed by on the news while she had been in Sarnia merely reported a super battle underway between the Blackbirds of Detroit and an unknown number of assailants. As always she still laughed inwardly at that name for the pairing of Blood Raven and this new person Stormcrow. After all, it was her own last name. Not that anyone knew it.

She might not know who was fighting who here, or why, but she did know that ships sinking were bad, given the whole drowning issue. It was also a task she could easily set herself upon, given that the vessel was made of steel. With that in mind she pulled herself along the planet's magnetic field, over to the spot where the cutter settled into the waves.

She felt down through the electro-magnetic fields, and found the ferrous material of the ship's hull. She searched along the steel with her magnetic senses, and quickly discovered where the metal had been torn inward in a great breach. It did not feel like the damage from an explosion. It was too localized, and there had been no scorching or melting due to heat. Rather it was like a battering ram had punched a hole into the side of the ship, and caved in a rough circle several feet in diameter.

This was easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. Reshaping steel was what she did before breakfast. She took the metal in her metaphorical hands, and bent it back outward. At first she took each petal of broken steel one at a time. But once she had them all pushed back into the correct general shape, she applied her will upon the entirety of the mass. She caused the metal to flow together into a solid sheet, and then harden into an inviolable barrier. When she was finished it was no different from any other part of the hull.

With that done, Blackhawk turned her attention to the island. That giant flaming lizard was still circling there and attacking Blood Raven. The scarlet-maned heroine had relocated to the ground however, and seemed to have her hands full with what looked like a man in a Christian monk's robes down there.

She flew over in that direction, and in the process hovered over the beach. Now she could see that Lighthammer and the samurai were fighting what looked like real-life zombies down there, or real-unlife zombies, as the case apparently was. They were clearly dead, with glowing red eyes, bone white skin, and maggots crawling through their hair.

The heroes were not holding back either. Most all of their sword or energy bolts were aimed at the head, and the monsters dropped like sacks of wet potatoes after those hits. While other blows that merely dismembered did not even slow the creatures. She also noted that even with these grievous injuries, there was no blood. Not a single drop shed on the beach from the mangled creatures. They seemed to be desiccated, like mummies, rather than zombies. So apparently they were sacks of dry potatoes.

Now that was interesting. Whatever those things were, they were not alive. Whether they were the actual undead or simply puppets to some meta-human power, she did not know. But it was clear that she ought to lend a hand. With just a thought, strips of the Armex Steel went flying from the armor that plated her legs. They whipped down, and lashed around the bodies of two of the creatures, and pinned their arms to their torsos. That made them easy prey for the heroes fighting them.

Her phone rang. Of all the times for such a thing... She ignored it. This was hardly the moment to hear about how she could save on her car insurance. But it refused to stop, even after it reached, and surpassed, the maximum amount of rings before it was set to go to voice mail.

She snapped her steel bands from the zombies as soon as the other heroes divested them of their heads, and sent them out to catch two more of the monsters. While they did, she dug down into her belt, and pulled out her phone. She laughed when she saw the name associated with the number.

"Stormcrow? Really?" Blackhawk answered. "How did you get my number?"

"Cray gave it to me," a decidedly male voice replied. "Hi, I'm Gadget. I work with Stormcrow. We noticed you stopped by for the fun. Thanks for the help with the Coast Guard cutter by the way. I've been asked to direct your attention to the firewing. I'm told you have some snazzy magnetic force fields that work great against energy."

"Alright, no more beach blanket bingo then." She looked down at the next pair of zombies her steel plates had snagged. Rather than wait for the heroes on the beach to finish them off, she pinched them shut. That literally sliced the creatures in two. However, after the pieces fell to the beach they immediately began crawling and jerking about. So apparently you really did need to shoot them in the head.

She gave the strips of metal a snap to shake off the dust from the creature's bodies. Then they flew back up and clapped back into place around her legs once more.

She left the beach behind her and moved inland. The metal tower that had stood in the center of the island was gone. Now it lay scattered in pieces on the ground. Those shards were clearly misshapen. If she were to put them back together as they were, they would create something other than a tower. Now that was odd.

The firewing - which she had to admit was a very apt name for the creature - was busy trying to set the island ablaze. Well, not on her watch. She reached out to the planet's magnetic field, and pulled upon its many glowing threads. She bent them to her will, and a brought up a wide dome of energy that covered the center of the island. The peak hummed just above her head, while below her Blood Raven appeared to be battling with another creature of fire.

Well, Blood Raven would just have to deal with that herself. For she felt a tremendous gout of heat and flame wash across her force field. It was powerful, tremendously so. She had never felt anything so intense in all the fires she had fought. Not even napalm was this hot. It was as if it was the purest distillation of elemental power.

Her field buckled under the onslaught. Blackhawk raised both her arms skyward, and focused more of her energy into maintaining her energy screen. So far everything had been just play. But this, this was a real challenge. Whatever this firewing was, it was nothing to take for granted.

* * *


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Acadian
post Jan 15 2022, 09:29 PM
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Welcome to Blackhawk! A very well-done introduction as you ‘show’ us who she is via her thoughts and actions. She does indeed have some interesting abilities. I also like her dry and fun sense of humor – just one example of many quoted below:
’She wondered where they all went to the bathroom, and resolved to stay out of the water if she could avoid it.’

And the answer to our mysterious ship repair that occurred in the previous episode.

This is getting to be quite the cast! Are we up to a Magnificent Seven yet? wink.gif


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Renee
post Jan 18 2022, 02:43 PM
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Okay, good, so HG is Hannah's father. +1 for me & my mid-life drain-bamaged memory skills.

Blackhawk seems to be a new character, eh? And there's some history. She knows who the Blood Raven is. Again the story focuses on Blackhawk's thoughts. She seems merely observant, and experienced. Like she's seen stuff like this happen before.

Have you ever been to Jobbie Nooner, Rosa? Maybe forced to go as a child or something? Just curious.

Blackhawk's phone rings. Okay, so she's tied in with modern devices. Not some mythical, ancient being as I was sort of picturing. She also uses semi-modern phrases like "beach blanket bingo", which is from the '60s, I think. cool.gif Honestly it seems like the others need her help. Even with all their combined skills, the other heroes are struggling. panic.gif panic.gif

Stormcrow needs to become a screenplay. I can see it on the CW, right next to Supergirl. hehe.gif

This post has been edited by Renee: Jan 18 2022, 02:44 PM
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