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Avenger Assembled

September - October Vignette - Beginnings and Endings

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In honour of the launch of our new city the theme for this vignettes is Beginnings and Endings.

 

Beginnings covers those first of your career, though not you actual origin as that's already covered, the first nights patrol or you first arrest, meeting or a significant ally or joining a particular group. Or maybe the characters personal life, a first date or a first born, engagement or marriages with there significant other. Or maybe they've decided on a clean break and move state, country or even planet (people make new starts in Space as well).

 

New beginnings often start with something else ending however, so you could choose the flip side of any of the above, or something of your own, and show how something comes to an end.

 

And as it would be a massive coincidence that this all happens over the next few months your not limited on when these Beginnings and end happened. If you want to cover the ultimate end of your character we won't hold you to it, after all thats the making or excellent what-if's and imaginary stories...

 

As a reminder, vignettes follow the same general rules as posts in terms of content, player character limits, and so on. You may have only one vignette per player character. Each vignette should be at least one page (~500 words) in length; if posted in your thread counts at the end of the month, it is worth 1pp for the associated character. An especially long vignette, 1000 words or more, may be worth up to 2pp. Multiple players can collaborate on a single vignette - we recommend Google Docs for this, it's very useful - but the vignette should be about one page per participating player. )

 

Please post them here by October 31.

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REBELLION

Just One Voice


---


This was it. The end of the road. Rebellion stared up at the sky. It was raining. He felt cold, but he doubted that had much to do with the rain or the wind. The wound in his side was probably the reason. He slowly turned to look down at the man that had stabbed him, dressed in one of the ridiculous outfits that the Chessmen still wore. Rebellion was surrounded by them, and all it had taken was one lucky shot. Then again, he always knew it was going to end this way. Only a matter of time. His luck had held out this long. For years, he had hounded the secret power that ruled Emerald City, and now, it was the end of the road.


He had been so naïve when he first started out. Knew so little. Took him so long before he even learned what they called themselves. The Chamber had done everything in their power to mask their tracks. Didn't want anyone knowing what they could do. Didn't want anyone to know they were even there. Of course he had to rebel. Of course he had to be the one to stand up to them. The heroes of the city had called him crazy. Emerald City didn't have any local super villains for such a long time, after all. They had only started appearing after a number of heroes, Rebellion himself included, began making their home in the city. How could everything in the city then be controlled by them?


They had called him crazy. Even if he was right, finding enough evidence to wake the sleeping giant that was the city would be impossible, if Rebellion was right about the reach of the Chamber. And they had probably been right, but maybe, just maybe, just one voice would be enough.


Now he stood alone in the rain, facing down an army. A potentially fatal wound in his side. He had plans. He had things to do. He couldn't die just yet. He threws his baton. It smashed the helmet of the first Chessman, ricocheted off it and knocked out the next. As the nearest came running at him, Rebellion turned to face him. His eyes glowed. He let the Terror loose, and everyone in the alley screamed.


He had contained the Terror spirit for years, now. Rebellion still didn't know why it had led him down this path in the first place, but despite sparing him in their first meeting, it had proven to be anything but an ally. They had fought so many times over the years. At first, the Chamber had kept using it as their secret enforcer. Nothing but a rabid dog. Then, as they became aware of Rebellion, they had begun targeting him and his allies. There had been losses. There had been pain. Years ago, Rebellion had finally won a decisive battle. He had taken the Terror spirit into himself, keeping it from possessing anyone else. Until this day. Now, it let loose, even as its power and essence faded. It wouldn't be able to survive long, now that it was no longer within Rebellion. That was fine. It just needed to complete one job.


Every part of his body ached as Rebellion made his way across the Emerald Cities. This was it. He had survived much, but the ordeals of this night would be the end of him. He knew that. The city had changed so much these past many years. MarsTech had grown in power and prominence. The city looked like something out of one of the science fiction movies, from back when Rebellion was still a kid that cared about those things. Surveilance everywhere, for the good of the people. Right. To tighten the iron grip of the Chamber, more likely. At least the city had started to awaken. More and more believed in what he said. But then, he still needed that crucial evidence.


Over the years, he had learned their identities. The Big Brain. The Steel Shogun. The Grandmaster. Koschei the Deathless. Max Mars. Somehow, even after so many years, they were all still there. There had been changes, but none of them had been willing to give up their power, save for the Steel Shogun, who had been succeeded by his daughter. Rebellion couldn't could suppress the smile as he remembered Tomiko from better times. A whirlwind romance, perhaps an act of rebellion against her father, perhaps she saw something in Rebellion that he did not see himself. Of course it couldn't last. 


But, Tomiko had done one last thing for him, on this very night. The final piece to the puzzle. Then she had run. She knew better than to stick around for what was coming. Rebellion wasn't sure just why she had done it, but he had his theories. Nothing he had time to muse on, anyway.


Pushing the door to his hideout open, Rebellion grabbed his side. His lungs were starting to fill with blood now. He had lost so much blood just getting here, but it would be worth it. A final act of rebellion. The proximity alarms around the secret location went crazy. A quick look at the screens that rapidly switched between security cameras showed him why. Mafiya, Chessmen, Yakuza, F.O.E., Elysium graduates, MarsTech battlesuits. They were all coming to play. There was no way he could survive that. Even if he called for help. He placed the key into the slot on the computer. Old technology. Few things but his computer were compatible with it anymore. Made it more secure. He made a quick recording, then activated the program. To be honest, he wasn't sure how exactly it worked. Some kind of WonderTech, courtesy of Justice and the Meta-Naut. He was fine with that. He started the program, reached for his batons and stepped out into the night.


The fear was not enough. Without the boost from the Terror spirit, their mental shields were too strong. The Big Brain knew how to handle Rebellion's terror by now. All he had were his batons, and his fading battle. The broadcast appeared on all screens across the city. He had grown to something of a mythic hero, fighting against the secret rulers of the city, even if few knew it to be true. Now, his final stand. The final punishment. Rebellion fought on. He was not going out alone. Chessmen and pawns fell around him, but it was only a matter of time before he would be overwhelmed. Drowning in a tide of clashing colors, he kept smiling, even as he finally disappeared under the furry of blows of armored men. They wanted his death public. As he had expected. He wouldn't live to see the results. But, as he drew his last breath, Rebellion trusted in hope.


Across the city, the screens switched from the image of Rebellion being beaten to death, to instead showing him sitting before them. He was breathing heavily. There was something wrong with his lungs. His entire body was battered and torn. "You know who I am." The recording began. "I don't remember how long I've fought for you. I've stayed in the shadows, but you still know me. You have all heard the rumors of the secret rulers of the city. I have fought them, and now they're coming for me. I don't expect to survive this. They are bringing everything that they have, because, finally, I have them." He paused and held up a small cube. It projected the images of the aged Max Mars, a young man whose body had been taken over by the Big Brain, the masked visage of Koschei the Deathless, and the machine that was once the Grandmaster. He had left Tomiko out. "These are the Chamber. They've ruled your city for longer than most of you have been alive. They control everything that happens, everything you do. I have uploaded evidence of their crimes stretching back decades. It goes out to all of you. It goes out across the country. Don't let them erase this. Never let them win." He raised a fist to the sky. "Show them a true rebellion."


The transmission cut out, returning to the broadcast. Rebellion's broken and battered body laid on the rooftop. 


Could it ever have ended any other way? But as the roar spread across Emerald City, as men and women took to the streets in pitch black masks, and as the Chamber finally fell at the hands of the rebellion, he proved one thing, at least: Just one voice was enough, to make sleeping giants wake up.

Edited by RocketLord

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Mystik

Enter the Shadow

 

We all want our first times to be special, right? Beautiful, powerful, something that fills us with joy and light. In reality though it is usually an awkward fumbling in the dark, not really knowing what we are doing and praying we get it right. 

 

This is about my first time. 

 

Let me tell you about magic. I ain't talking 'bout pulling a rabbit from no hat or making a card appear. A rabbit in my neighbourhood becomes stew. Even Santa Claus pays protection money and Rudolph keeps the engine running for a quick getaway. 

No I am talking about real magic. The real sort that flows through everything around us, that some lucky lucky bastids have flowing through their veins. They wave their hands and 'hey presto' you are ensorcelled or something. That was who I wanted to be. Not someone who could do magic, but someone who could be magic. I thought if I was magical I could magic my life into something special. With all these people doing things never done before that maybe if I prayed hard enough, and believe me no one prays harder than a good catholic italian boy, I might be magic. 

 

No such luck. 

There are people with perfect pitch, who know a note just by hearing it, who can learn to play an instrument in an hour. I am the other guy. When it comes to magic I am tone-deaf. I am color blind to the wonder of magic.There are Michaelangelo's and the guy with the paint by numbers set. That is me. 

 

Can I do magic? Sure. I can do a bunch of tricks that seem like real magic. What no one knows is the hours of research I have to do each time, or the time it takes to prepare the ritual or how long it takes to actually cast the ritual. Sometimes it will take days depending on what is required. Can I feel magic? That is pretty hard to answer. 

 

I had become a detective in the 5th district of Bedlam. I was still pretty young so I got the cases that no one wanted. This one was a kid who got killed in a hit and run during an armoured car heist. Long story short I worked out who did it but the case got spiked from so high it came back with snow on it.

I had promised the mother of the dead child that I would help bring her killer to justice, instead her evidence got lost and she was fatally shot in a mugging gone wrong apparently. I can talk about it now but at the time I was so angry that this brave woman who had lost everything should lose her life as well. 

Of course I knew where the orders had come from, even if I couldn't prove it. I raged until the rage burnt away leaving nothing but a cold desire for vengeance. I could shoot the guy but then I would be in jail or worse. 

 

Even back then I had already been obsessed with the supernatural and the occult. I had spent considerable parts of my wages on books that most people thought were mumbo jumbo or should be burnt. 

 

My hands seemed to intuitively know which book to open, which dark ritual to prepare. If my family could see me now they would drag me off for an excorcism. 

After days of preparation, of making sure each rune was perfect. I finally cast my first ritual of summoning, fuelled by the spirit of vengeance within me. I got to feel magic for the first time.

It was not what I expected... 

 

Imagine your entire body and spirit are filled with ice and darkness. 

Imagine all that you feel of love and joy and empathy snuffed out until all that is left is a creature of vengeance, filled with rage colder than space. You are trapped inside it and although you are horrified the terrible purity is beautiful in it's own way as you are freed from doubt and the weakness of kinder emotions. 

 

We/I knew where our target was. We/I travelled through the shadows that are our/my home to the place he lived. He was in bed asleep. Our/my purpose was clear, to make him pay for what he had done. We/I placed our hand upon his soul and let him feel our dread touch. His eyes snapped open and he looked up at us/me. The sweet essence of his fear filled the room. Another touch and I let him feel the last moments of his victims lives and the cold dark eternity that lay beyond. We/I leaned close and whispered 'we will return until you have atoned for your crimes' . We/I left as we had arrived, fading back into the shadows as he babbled incoherently in terror. 

 

That was the first time I really felt magic, even though it was as cold and merciless as a razor's kiss. They say that when you stare into the abyss sometimes it stares into you.

 

Since that time I have felt the need for vengeance grow stronger in me. I also have a strange affinity for the shadows. I have also seen what may lie beyond this life and have no wish to send someone there. 

 

I hope with all my heart that your first time is different to my own. 

Edited by Poodle

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Sea Devil 

Broken Circle 

The 22nd Century 

 

They buried Jessie by the water, just as she'd asked for in her will. There was plenty of water these days and her husband and children and grandchildren had come, a whole brood to watch the tree being planted on the soft, crumbling earth of the hill. It was a special tree, a new sort of tree, one that would use the body planted beneath it to grow tall and strong, and pump oxygen back into the ravaged atmosphere. After two lifetimes as a hero, Singularity was giving back to her adopted homeworld one last time. There had been a battle in this marsh once, long ago, but now this was a place of peace. 

 

The Sea Devil had come, as she'd been expected to do, and Aquaria had done everything Jessie would have wanted. She didn't scream in disgust at the thought of Jessie's body rotting beneath the dead earth, she didn't grab her friend's spawn or mate by the face and demand to know why they hadn't tried a little harder to save their matriarch's life. So many worse humans had lived, were living, would go on living, and Jessie was dead - instead she crouched alone amid the mourners, looming over them like the symbol of the past she was, singing the songs that she should, and mourning as a human would have. 

 

A century old, she was great, with limbs like the trunks of a tree, and eyes vast enough that she could look down and see there was no soul in the flesh beneath those roots. A century had not made Jessie great. It had made her small, too small to contain what she was, and now that was no longer here. Aquaria was still there when the funeral was over. when all the mourners had gone, and when she thought she was alone she opened her mouth and sang, a bellowing echo of grief that shook land and sky around her. But she wasn't quite alone. 

 

"Grieve not, Great-Great-Aunt Aquaria," sang a voice behind her. She turned and spared a smile (oh how it must have looked!) for the human who had surprised her as she so often did. Of all of Jessie's brood, it was Deborah who had listened to Aquaria's teachings the most closely. "For all will be well - when the stars are right." She didn't sound like she quite believed it, there in the green and grey jumpsuits that were the fashions of the time a century after Aquaria had first hauled herself out of the sea near Freedom City. 

 

"You know the song well, child." Not as much as Aquaria's own brood, left behind in the castle today in honor of their matriarch's mourning, but still quite fine. "But I have waited so long - and now it is finished." She cast her gaze up overhead and said, "The land will be as the sea, and the sea will be as the land - and the sea will give up its dead. The time has come. I will make them move.

 

"The others will try and stop you," said Deborah, without fear at her great-aunt's words. "Here, and there." She gestured to the stars overhead, and the vessels that moved in the sky that were not stars but glittered like them all the same. 

 

Aquaria considered that, and rested her trident against the ground. "Well. They can certainly try.

 

"What would Greatgran do?"

 

And with those words, she left the matriarch of the Deep Ones alone among the stars while the risen sea washed against the beach at Monmouth, while the red, ruddy glare of the Moon shone down upon them all. Aquaria was comforted by the memory that in strange aeons, even death would die... 

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Forever Boy

First Day of Freedom

 

---

 

Swirling colors. Purple, white, black and blue, intermixing, whirling before his eyes. Everything a blur. What was happening? Where was he? Falling, falling ever on, down, down, down he went. Couldn't stop. Couldn't control it, at all. Just continuing on and on. It was weird. It was wrong. He wasn't used to falling. He wasn't used to falling. He was used to... what was it now? Yes, not falling... FLYING! He was not meant to fall, he was meant to fly! He was not meant to end, he was meant to begin! He was Pan, the Forever Boy! And perhaps, this would be his greatest adventure yet?

 

Then, darkness. Then, light. He slowly opens his eyes. The fall almost forgotten, he slowly sits up. He is somewhere else, somewhere new. No longer in the grip of the Hooked Man, no longer standing before the beast that is the Crocodile, he finds himself in an alley in a strange city. The sky was dark, and yet, there was so much light. So many lights, glowing over the streets. So many buildings, standing tall, almost glowing with light within and without. So, so different from what he was used to. So much glass. Entire sides of buildings covered in nothing but glass. And so much noise. It was everywhere, it seemed. Honking noises. People talking, shouting. Music, from everywhere. Even at the busiest time of day in the markets of New Avalon and Tham were nothing like this noise, was nothing like this place. It was almost too much.

 

And entirely unlike anything the Forever Boy had seen before!

 

Presented with a world like this, he should probably be scared, but the Forever Boy knew not what fear was, after all. So he followed his instincts, and he flew up, high up, above the sounds and noise, above the buildings that towered as high as the highest castles of New Avalon, stretching into the sky. He was a figure of green on dthe dark night sky, outside the light, unseen, unheard. He had to get his bearings, had to find out where he was. His first thoughts had been in some unknown locale of Neverworld. Some place that his journeys had yet to take him, and yet, as he looked upon the sea of light of the city far below, he discarded that idea. This was not Neverworld. This could not be Neverworld. It was too different. Too strange. Too alien.

 

The massive buildings of glass and lights caught his eyes again. He saw words bent in neon, massive plates with rapidly shifting images below. Pictures of flying men and women, clad in colorful clothes, not entirely unlike his own. That was new. As far as he knew, he was the only non-Pixie to fly without any Skyships on Neverworld, but from what he could see, they seemed plentiful in this world. He flew down, closer to the plate that showed the moving images, trailing golden dust behind him. Few looked up to notice him, but either he didn't care, or he didn't notice them in turn. In the middle of the lights of the city, he stopped in front of the giant plate with the moving images, just a few feet away.

 

He had never seen anything like it before. Nothing on Neverworld could do this, as far as he was aware. Then, he heard shouts from below. People speaking an unfamiliar language, pointing to him and shouting. Some waved, and with a smile, the Forever Boy waved back, before flying off. No, this was not Neverworld. The people below seemed to have no idea who he was, and that plate... He looked over his shoulder again, the images had shifted once more, showing a cart moving across a road of its own power. Not entirely unlike the vehicles he could see moving slowly through the streets of the city below. He stopped a bit to watch them, listening to the honking sounds, listening to their words. He was starting to understand the snippets of the strange language that he heard. A gift from the Pixies, the gift of understanding. He could heard some cursing at others, as he flew across two of the vehicles that had collided. The two people looked like they were about to fight. They were yelling something about whose fault it was. Not that different from back home, at least.

 

He flew on. Across the city. More lights, more people. Their clothing were so different. He heard many languages, all unknown to him. No, it could not be Neverworld. It made no sense that it was Neverworld. It had to be somewhere else. He had no idea where, but no, it was not Neverworld. It had to be another world. But how... had the Crocodile sent him here, somehow? It was the last thing he remembered, seeing it before him, then the swirling fall, then waking up in that alley. So, so strange.

 

Hovering above it all, he felt a rumble in his stomach. He couldn't remember when he had something to eat. Could he even eat the food in this strange world? The people seemed a lot like him, so perhaps? He would at least have to take the gamble... but the question was, where could he even find food? Creating an image of nothing around him, a favorite trick of his that still worked in this world, Pan flew into the city. He followed people. He learned where they went, how they entered and exited the buildings with these strange doors that opened on their own. Well, some of them, at least. It was a marvel, to say the least. A door that opened on its own! Some places, he saw them leaving with things that resembled food. There was a cart in the street that he watched. The man gave out buns, with grilled or cooked light brown things that smelled delicious. They had things placed on them, different colors of fluids, red and yellow. Some had small green circles. Some had small brown or white things sprinkled on top. When one of the buns, with everything ready, was placed in a paper on a small tray, while the man asking for it looked for his payment, Pan took his chance. A wind kicked up as he flew past, grabbing the brown thing he guessed was meat in a bun, as he flew up and away.

 

Across the city, he studied the thing. The sign had said hot dogs. Did people on this world eat dogs? He hoped it was just a name, but, he was so hungry. With some hesitation, he took a bite, as he looked up at the sign that he had stopped in front of, while he chewed the delicious food in his hand. Welcome to Freedom City, it said.

 

Perhaps coming here was a gift for the Crocodile? A whole new world of freedom?

Edited by RocketLord

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CHEVAL

I am Iron

 

---

 

"I am iron! I am covered with iron!"

 

As the Crossroads faded before Marcus' eyes and the Mayombe ritual appeared, he heard his voice shouting the words, as his hand, raised to the skin, became like iron before his very eyes!

 

The sensation was unlike anything Marcus had ever felt before. His entire body felt warm, not cold like he would have imagined. He could feel cloth tearing as he grew, his already muscular physique and size growing even greater. The chains that bound him, once something that had seemed so strong, felt like string in his hands, and with a loud yell of triumph, he flexed his iron arms, and the chains were broken.

 

Rolling off the makeshift sacrifical alter, he stood tall, taller than ever before. A man of iron, a god of iron. His skin was not just covered in the living iron of Ogoun, he had become iron itself! He could feel it, in the back of his head. A presence, almost but not quite a voice. Fury, passion, justice, compassion! He was no longer just Marcus Dumont. No longer an iron horse. He was Ogoun's cheval, and he had never before, not in street fights, not in the ring, had he ever felt so alive!

 

"Lady Mamba!" There was a slightly metallic ring to his voice, almost like an echo. He kind of liked it. "The loa have answered your bargain! I am their response!"

 

Before giving them a chance to react, Marcus swung his hand towards the other table, grabbing on to the ropes that had been used to bind John. It took a pull, and they were broken. "I'll clear a path. Get out of here while I do that." Then, he moved. It felt like nothing ever before. Marcus felt like greazed lightning. He was a train, thundering towards his target. Pulling back his arm, he reacted by pure instinct. He knew what he could now. He knew that there was more to this than just pure strength. And as he threw the post, a wave of flames rolled off his fist, bursting forth and raining through the crowds. The god of iron and fire, indeed! The Mayombe scattered before him, either on fire or trying to get away from the fire.

 

"Now! Go!"

 

He moved again, turning to deliver a blow that sent the nearest cultist flying into his fellows, knocking them all over. One of them came up from behind him, stabbing a knife at Marcus' ribs. It broke, the man looking up at Marcus with a scared expression. Marcus could only smile, before delivering an uppercut that sent the man flying.

 

Lady Mamba screeched something that Marcus couldn't quite make out. Judging from the way the cultists swarmed towards him, the meaning was clear, anyway. He moved back, swinging a backhand to take out the nearest cultist. It was like someone was taking control, helping him, pushing him in the right direction. It wasn't just his body, his mind and reflexes were raising, blocking blows that he would once just have taken, counter attacking and sending the cultists flying.

 

Even then, they had the numbers, and apparently, the lack of self-preservation. They just threw themselves over him, weighing him down with their combined mass. They tried beating on him, but as far Marcus could feel? Well, it probably hurt them more than him. With all the might he could muster, he slammed his hands into the ground, the shockwave sending everyone off him, then stood up tall. Raising his hand, he pointed at Lady Mamba, his metallic teeth shining in the light of his smile.

 

"The loa have spoken, Lady Mamba! Face your judgement!"

 

Something large came from the left, something he'd completely forgotten in the rush. The Mayombe weren't just Lady Mamba and the cultists. They had snake-man hybrids, and no less than three of them.

 

Marcus barely had time to react before all three crashed into him. He could barely hear Lady Mamba's fading laughter as they crashed into the streets, a man of iron pushed under the weight of three over-sized snakemen. He could feel their claws digging into his iron, scratching through his skin. The rush was dying out. He didn't even know he could be hurt like this, but the three beasts, larger than him. Snaketails wrapping around him, crushing him. Claws and fangs biting into his skin.

 

Screams cut through his pain and confusion. When had the third snake-man left? It was hissing and rushing towards the people in the street. Of course they hadn't been alone on the street. He couldn't be that lucky. They had crashed through a wall on the opposite side that he had entered, and of course, it was a busy street. He couldn't be that lucky.

 

While people fled in terror, the third snake-man towered above a man that held his child close, doing his best to protect it. He stood no chance. Of course he stood no chance.

 

"NO!" The snake-man was interrupted as another snake-man collided with it, courtesy of Marcus. "Run! I will stop them!"

 

His hand around the throat of the only snake-man still wrapped around him, he squeezed, causing it to gasp and struggle to free itself. Then it saw only stars, as Marcus' punch sent it flying through the wall of the building.

 

Standing tall, he approached the last two snake-men, as they tried to get free from one another. His hands made a loud metallic sound as he cracked his knuckles. "You will not lay a finger on them, beasts. Not while I am here."

 

The fight that followed was short. The beasts struggled, but ultimately, the power of Ogoun were too much for them to handle. And as Marcus delivered the final blow, the final beast falling, he felt something, and he knew what it was.

 

The time was up. He had saved John. He had protected the people. He had done as asked. The iron skin faded as he watched, his fingers being the final part to change.

 

And as the crowd cheered, and he heard them calling his name, he knew one thing, at least. Power or no power, Marcus Dumont would never be the same.

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Horrorshow -- “Cast In A New Role”

2019 May 11th, Saturday

The Riverside Apartment of the Palahniuks

 

Davyd lay on his bed, watching makeup tutorial videos on his laptop.  He’d started with overt horror makeup how-tos -- zombies, werewolves, gill-men -- and slowly shifted his face and hands to match the progress shown.  But some hiccup in the algorithms sent him to subtle beauty makeup tutorials. At first he just clicked through, tried to find more monsters, but then it occurred to him that they could be useful in practicing how to mimic people. 

 

“Davyd!,” his father’s voice rang sweetly down the halls, “lunch!”

 

He jumped a bit, quickly closed his browser’s tabs & cleared his search history -- wouldn’t want the parents getting any ideas -- then shook himself back to his Davyd appearance.  I’ve got to tell them.  I should tell them.  It’s been almost a month since the accident, and I’ve been at Claremont for three weeks now.  They’ve got to have questions about that.

 

Davyd exited his bedroom, went down the hall, and through the living room to get to the dining area.  His mother Kateryna and babusya Oksana were already seated at the old round table, questioning the quality of the meal they were about to receive.  Beyond that was the kitchen (where his father Vyacheslav was helping unload the meals his brother, Uncle Sasha, had just brought in from a nearby deli) and the sun room (which had been converted into babusya’s room).

 

“I wish they wouldn’t make such a fuss,” his mother murmured, “especially since Mother’s Day isn’t until tomorrow!”  She’d always been uncomfortable with celebrations that focused on her -- didn’t even like to have much done on her birthday -- not when there were so many other things to focus on.

 

“I know, kitka, I know” her mother nodded, “but if our boys want to do something nice for us, why not let them?  Especially if it means we don’t have to do the dishes! You’ll be helping with that,” she turned to face her grandson, “right, Davyd?”

 

“Anything for you, babusya,” he gave her a quick hug, she kissed his cheek.  “And you, too, mama,” he hugged his mother.

 

“Hey, now,” his father chided as he carried in three plates of food, “what have I told you about getting too friendly with our two most beautiful customers?  I run an upright establishment here!”

 

“Yeah, only the boss is allowed the shtu-,” Uncle Sasha had appeared with two more plates of food, but his comment was quickly silenced by A Look from both his sister-in-law and mother-in-law.  “Uh, that is, only the boss can sht… can shtay… uh...”

 

“That’s enough, Aleksandr,” babusya murmured.  He stopped -- when your mother-in-law uses your full name, you listen and obey.

 

“Well this all certainly looks great!,” Vyacheslav announced with a sharp clap,” and there’s plenty more in the kitchen!  Which means plenty to put up and clean up,” he nodded towards Davyd. “You’ll be there to lend a hand, won’t you?”

 

Well, never waste a good opening.

 

“Sure, papa,” Davyd nodded in return.  “In fact, I can give you more than a hand…”  Two extra arms sprouted from his back, and wiggled their fingers.

 

His mother was nonplussed, having seen her son pull off many bizarre appearances.  The others were all startled, and too shocked to say anything at first. Uncle Sasha was the first to break their silence, with a cheer.  “Whoa! That’s great, Dayv! I didn’t know you were working on prosthetics!”

 

He already knows, because I’d called him on the night of the accident.  And now he’s trying to cover for me. But it’s time for that to end.

 

“I’m… they’re not prosthetics,” he began, and this did cause his mother to pause.  Then the extra arms shifted into red tentacles, before retracting back into him. Now everyone was staring at him.  “So, that new school I was transferred to so suddenly, it’s for… people with powers. And I-”

 

His parents leaned in, as did Uncle Sasha.  Oksana gasped and turned away.

 

“... I… I was in an accident a few weeks ago.  At that movie marathon at FSU. I-”

 

“Oh!,” his mother cried out, “I knew no good would come of those!”

 

“Mama, please, it wasn’t- there was an attack on the school, some supervillain-”

 

Oksana let out a muffled cry.  His father slumped back in his chair, while his mother leaned in closer.  Sasha’s eyes darted about the room.

 

“I’m okay, though, really,” Davyd pleaded.  “And the school, the Claremont Academy, they’re helping me to figure this out.  I’ve already made a few friends there, and I’ve got two special mentors, Grimalkin and Miss Grue!”

 

His father and uncle both let out impressed whistles.  His mother’s fury abated somewhat: both were known superheroes, and Grimalkin was especially known to help the less well-off.  Oksana had even turned back to face the family, and she looked at him with a mix of love and sadness, a sadness born of fear.

 

They talked through the night, about what had happened, and what he planned to do.  Davyd made a point not to mention how his uncle had been involved in the post-accident events, as that would just open up more arguments.  The most heated parts of the discussion centered around what he would do with his new abilities. Oksana wanted him to hide them, and live a quiet and unassuming life, like so many other powered people in Eastern Europe -- the “Sleepers” -- had done, and Kateryna agreed.  Sasha and Vyacheslav were all for him using and exploring his abilities, his father encouraging self-expression and self-discovery, while his uncle argued more practical angles. Sasha’s practicality arguments, and Davyd’s talk of reports showing that the Sleepers faced numerous problems stemming from not using their abilities, won Kateryna over, but Oksana was slower to come around.

 

“It’s okay, babusya, this isn’t the Old Country.  No one from the Government is going to come in the night and take me.  This is a good thing, really,” he approached her and held her hands in his, “that start of a new life for me.  Just like how coming to America was the start of a new life for you,” he turned to face his parents, “and for them.”

 

Edited by Dr Archeville

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Vox

 

“Homesick”

 

Claremont Academy

October 2019

 

 

“You okay, Nicky?”

 

Nick looked up at the laptop. The face of a white-haired man looked back at him. The man’s face furrowed in concern. Nick’s eyes flicked up to the small camera before looking down again.

 

Covering the keyboard sat a neatly bound folder. The title read, “Power Points: Nicholas Brown, 10-7-2019”. Nick opened the folder and thumbed through the pages. Conclusions headed the final entry.

 

“Nicky?”

 

The petite teen slumped onto his elbows and reread the page. The man on the screen fell silent. Nearby a clock ticked out the interval. Just as the man took a breath, Nick looked up and sighed without a sound. His eyes were limned with red.

 

Moving the folder aside, Nick typed a passage in the chat window and hit enter. The man, the spitting image of Nick in 50 years, slowly read out the message.

 

“Unfortunately, the probability of Mr. Brown regaining a semblance of typical human vocal patterns is very low. His powers appear to have perman… permanently remodeled, and continue to remodel, multiple regions of his brain. Please see Page 17. Additionally, our current projections suggest his (hard-won) control over his vocal abilities will likely be surpassed by his baseline power within 10-12 months. Among the ramifications, Mr. Brown should anticipate less precision based on volume modulation and a gradual loss of his physiological disruption (“Resonance”) capacity. See Page 23.”

 

The two men, one senior and one adolescent, leaned back in their chairs simultaneously. Both looked up in thought, their faces neutral. Nick followed the outlines of the study room’s tin ceilings. His mind, always awash in thoughts, wondered if they were original. The other man, however, had other thoughts.

 

“I know this has been difficult, Nick,” Still looking at the ceiling, Nick noted the change in address. “Still is. I’m so proud at how well you’ve adapted. You’ve worked hard and asked for help. That’s maturity right there. I’m glad you’re still visiting with Dr. Marquez. I know you don’t want medicine. Please think about it. It could help.”

 

Nick’s eyes narrowed at the last sentence and he looked at the screen. The man looked back placidly. “This meant a lot to you didn’t it? Being able to talk again?”

 

Nick nodded.

 

He picked up the folder and continued reading.

 

Non-neuroplastic changes are more difficult to quantify. Mr. Brown’s abilities are no doubt Psionic, but the possible Cosmic component has proven an elusive influence. Ongoing monitoring is recommended to rapidly discern detrimental anatomic and physiological alterations.

 

The man leaned forward on his elbows. “This isn’t like you, Nick. As bad as it’s been, I never got a sense of self pity.” A unvoiced question passed between them.

 

Nick slowly typed a response and hit enter. Reading the message, the man choked up and looked away. The two sat in silence as the clock ticked away.

 

“Don’t come back,” the man whispered. He couldn’t look into the camera. “There’s nothing here for you, Nick. They don’t want you back. And before you ask, no. Everyone knows you here. You’d be all alone. You know how long memories are. Claremont is the best shot you have at a better life.”

 

“Please don’t come back.”

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Gnomon - "Ever Forward"

 

Morgan House Workshop, Freedom City

August 2nd, 2019

 

Claude glowered at the locked door and then back to the note clenched in his hands.

 

Spoiler

 

Claude,

 

Typically, every Guardian makes their own temporal method of traversal. Each one is different as the Guardian who creates it, since they additionally function as a badge of office to verify your identity when working in an official capacity. However, even though you managed to kludge a working device together with pilfered parts and bailing wire, the Keepers would prefer something that doesn't flood the area with chroniton radiation every time you use it. Craft a new one and you'll be able to leave the workshop. Until then, you're under house arrest.

 

- Tomas.

 

P.S. Yes, that means you can't bribe your way out of this.

 

 

Claude warily eyeballed the calico cat who was lazing in front of the door out of the workshop before crumpling up the paper and chucking into a waste bin across the room.

 

“It's never 'Good Job, Claude' or 'Wow, you made a time machine while stranded in the fourteen hundreds while being hunted by anarchist hippies!'. I did it before the Daedalus movie was even technically made! I get no respect!” The Bostonian groused, with the feline company looking utterly apathetic to his ranting.

 

Still, he didn't want to be stuck here who knows how long. Especially since time was currently suspended while inside the workshop due to the fact the clock on the wall was unmoving. Least I won't get hungry or thirsty, Claude thought as he sighed and began mentally accessing the repository.

 

Lessee...temporal mechanics, check. Electrical engineering, check. Horology, check. Blueprint drafting, check. Claude moved over to the table and began plotting out what he would need.

 

 

“Okay, I think it's ready to charge.” Claude said to his furry company as he regarded the fruits of his labor: an ornate looking pocketwatch, face blank and nonfunctional.

 

Carefully he flipped it over, giving him access to the internals. A Daka Crystal the size of his thumb sat inside a glass reservoir. He needed to fill it with Quintessence, and he only had enough left over from salvaging his previous work to do this once. Once done, the isochronon would be continually powered, replenishing the Quintessence by siphoning and filtering the ambient temporal background that was omnipresent as long as the time stream existed.

 

And if it didn't ever exist, well, I'm more than likely completely screwed as well. The morose thought passed through Claudes' mind as he reached for the small container of what looked like a liquid mirror. Careful not to jar the contents too much, he swirled it a few times before breaking the seal on the top.

 

“Well, here goes' nothin'.” He began pouring the Quintessence into the isochonon, the fluid inside flowing out oddly but still obeying the law of gravity. Sweat beaded on the Bostonians' forehead as he held his hand steady, having to wait until the ichor of time itself decided to finish leaving the bottle. Eventually it made it's way to where Claude had intended it to go and he slumped in relief after capping off the reservoir.

 

Suddenly, his lap was full of cat, rubbing into his chest. “Okay, okay. Sorry I haven't been payin' attention to ya Dala.” Petting said cat with his offhand, he closed up the back of his watch and set it face up on the table. Only things he had left to do was to attenuate the isochronon to his temporal signature and then do the initial winding. But that was for later, since he had now had business with the attention starved feline.

 

“Well girl, you didn't stop me so far so I'm hopin' that that's a good sign. Could be worse though. Coulda been stuck in here with Mobius.” Claude got a bit hand for that.

 

Ow! Hey! Watch the fingers!” Claude hissed in pain as Dala jumped off his lap and went zooming away deeper into the workshop.

 

“Great, Now I'm bleedin' everywhere.” Claude scowled as the bite dipped some blood on the table and began looking for a rag or something to staunch it before pausing. Wait a minute, he thought before holding his wounded digits over the watch and began dribbling blood on it. Soon, the purplish-gray sheen of the psitanium casing started taking on a more copper colored hue until the isochronon looked to be cast from burnished bronze.

 

The smug sounding meow coming from the top of a nearby shelf caused Claude to chuckle as he moved over to where the first aid kit was. “Yeah, yeah. Thanks, ya little jerk.” He drawled while cleaning up the bites and covering them with band-aids. Taking some alcohol swabs back over to the work table he began cleaning the blood splatter off his isochronon and the table.

 

It took a bit, but he was now ready to do the initial winding. Taking the device, he grabbed the screwdriver he was going to use as the winding key and inserted it into the winding arbor. Turning the key also caused a steadily increasing pitch to emit from the device, which plateaued and died off as he felt the ratchet lock into place. Claude released a breath he hadn't known he was holding as he finished up the isochronon. Opening the face, he used the crown to select the date and coordinates he wanted to jump to in order to test the device. Claude changed his clothes to something more era appropriate and grabbed his flat cap off the hanger he left it sitting on. “Well, no time like the present,” he muttered before activating the watch and disappearing from the workshop.

 

 

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

December 17, 1903

 

“I see congratulations are in order.” Came a voice from behind him. Claude looked over his shoulder at his mentor and smiled. “Heya boss man. Got about a couple of minutes before the magic happens if you want to grab a seat.” Claude indicated the gathering of people down below with a nod in their direction.

 

“Certainly.” The older man said and sat down next to Claude in the oddly named Kill Devil Hills waiting for history to unfold in front of them. “Interesting venue.” The veteran time traveler noted to his student, who was watching the scene below intently.

 

“The way I figure it, everythin' starts with first steps. Doesn't matter how unsteady or unsure they are. These twelve seconds of small steps here paved the way for mankind to reach the stars with one giant leap.” Claude held out his isochronon for the Doctor to inspect. “This is one of those first steps. Let's see how far it can take me.”

Edited by Semi-Autogyro

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