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[November Vignette] A Day/Night in the Life

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November 2013


Greetings, all and sundry! Your Vignette theme for this month shall be...


A Day/Night in the Life


Most superheroes have a cause. A focus. A reason for getting out of bed at night, putting on strange clothing, and beating up malefactors. But many of our threads tend to focus on the "big, sweeping" stories and not the night-to-night work, the same way your typical episode of Law and Order is less about a random mugging (and that's it) and more about mob ties, hate crimes, and/or strange sexual escapades. But what is it your character does for the cause of justice "between the threads"?


What sort of small international incidents does Edge handle in his work with UNISON?


What sort of street crime does Wail help to clean up?


What sort of affairs of the dead does Nick Cimitiere put to rest? 


What sort of minor extradimensional incidents does Lord Steam take care of?


This is your chance to tell a story about what your hero does on a "quiet" night. What sort of minor issues they deal with in the course of their duties which aren't necessarily salacious enough to draw in other heroes, but which still need to be resolved. After all, a hero's duties start with one injustice, no matter how small.


When/Where: Your choice.


How Long: At least one page length in your word processor of choice. 



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Crimson Tiger Vignette: A Cold November Night

November 5th, 9:00 PM


The night was hers. The sky above was a blue black, and there was white fog when she breathed. Still, her costume was pretty warm, and she was spoiling for a good fight. The sun had just set, it was a Friday evening, and it was a good night for a patrol.

The Tigercycle purred beneath her as she rode beneath the streetlamps.


The Fens, one of the worst parts of town, and a good place to thwart bad people. Beneath the helmet, her eyes darted this way and that, looking for signs of trouble.


Then, she spotted them. Eight, no, nine people, standing in front of a storefront. At first, she thought maybe they were just talking, but then she spotted the store owner stepping out. One of the men grabbed him.


They did not see the Tigercycle as it pulled up to the side of the curb across the street as they grabbed him and pulled him toward a nearby alley. She glanced up at the roof of the building and aimed her grapple gun at it. She swung over the traffic and rushed to the top of the building.


She ran to the side and glanced into the alley. The men were shouting threats. One of them punched the shopkeeper in the face. She knew she had to act quickly. She attached the grapple to the ledge and dropped to the opening of the alley, silent as a stalking tiger. Then, she pounced.


She bolted towards the men as fast as she could, making sure she kept them off balance. She grabbed the first man by the arm and pulled him into an elbow to the face. Then, without letting go she twisted and almost threw him into the man next to him, sending them both sprawling.


One of the men swung something. A pipe? A bat? She didn't care, and she didn't let him use it. She grabbed his arm and popped his shoulder out of socket with a quick, brutal strike and kicked him away from her.

The shop owner got up and scrambled away, seemingly grateful. She hoped he'd call the police. The sooner they showed up to clean up the mess, the better.


One of the men was out, another was nursing a useless arm and growling in pain. That meant seven more. Seven foes to drop. Seven up, seven down.


They moved to circle her, and she let them. They made crude jokes, they taunted, they brandished weapons. She could have dropped them all with brutal efficiency. She saw the openings, the opportunities. She let them pass. She wanted a workout, wanted to at least give them a try.


One came at her from behind. It was obvious, of course they'd try to attack from behind. She turned around lightning quick and slammed her elbow into the attacker's face. He would probably wake up the next morning in custody, wondering how the hero got the drop on him like that.


One of them swung a baseball bat at her head. A solid swing, and if it had hit it would have knocked her silly, and that would have been the end of her. It was even fast, but she was much faster.


She dropped below the swing and slammed her right hand into his midsection. A vicious kidney shot that would leave him aching for days. Then, before he had a chance to even breathe, she delivered a vicious uppercut to his abdomen before dropping him with an elbow to the small of the back.


Two more, a woman and a man, stepped in from the sides. Not a bad move, flank a superior opponent and try for something clever.


The girl lunged with a knife straight at her face. That was the feint. She stepped aside it and then stomped down at the man's foot. He roared in pain. She punched the woman in the jaw and sent her sprawling before whipping around and delivering a painful snap kick to the man's stomach.


The last two turned tail and run, but she wasn't about to let them get away after that. She caught the first one with a lunging punch, but the second one managed to evade her before she hit him.


She drew her chakram from it's pouch and hurled it after the fleeing woman. It caught her in the back and sent her tumbling into a set of trash cans. She dragged the beaten thugs together and cuffed them with zip ties. Then, to ensure they couldn't get away, zip tied them all to each other.


The shopkeeper came around the corner and smiled. His eye had swollen shut, and he had a bag of ice in one hand. Thanks to her, it was his only injury. In the other he held a thermos.


He held it out for her, and she popped it open. It was coffee. Good coffee, too. She smiled and nodded her thanks as she sipped it. Less than fifteen minutes later, the police were there and picked up the criminals. She finished the last of the coffee and handed the thermos back to him.


She decided to evade traffic and fired her grapple gun at the building across the street. She dropped down and settled onto the Tigercycle. The bike purred to life, and she set off into the night to continue her patrol.

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Pitch - A Day in the Life – Rock on Downs


Denzel Downs was an unusual kind of guy to me into heavy metal or rock. Unusual but not unique. He was well educated, with a degree in political science, and was an excellent writer for Rock Report magazine, where Carmen Cantos worked.


He was also a short, handsome, homosexual Afro-American man. He rejected the anti-homosexuality stance of Rap music early on in life, and found more in common with the anger and anarchy of hard rock, where there was certainly prejudice against homosexuality and racism. But, he found, there was, if you looked, a whole lot more of sticking two fingers up at society and saying “Screw you, I’m who I amâ€.


And he kind of liked that, even if certain Aryan brotherhood elements of the Rock Music scene did not. Denzel had become a mini-icon in the rock music and gay scene, for his outspoken but eloquent views, and for his massive defiance towards stereotyping of race, sexuality, and culture.


He was probably Carmen’s best friend at Rock Report magazine. They were the two wild cannons of the organ. It was true that Denzel was the better writer and smarter snappy guy, whilst Carmen got by more on cool, charm, and reputation for wild nights and parties. The pieces they wrote both attracted and outraged the readers. The Editor of course, always dressed the two down, but secretly knew having those two names on the magazine boosted circulation in the small world of rock music. It was fame, of sorts, even if within a small circle.


Tonight they were at the Thumbscrew, a dingy little venue for dingy little bands. It had a bit of a reputation, the Thumbscrew, and it was not named incongruously. Fights were a spice that was expected by its regulars, who tended to be the hard hitting, heavy set anarchist crew. The band in question were called the Black Death. And again, the name was not chosen without its subtleties. The foursome deliberately wove a web of controversy about them, treading a fine line between outrageous punk rock anarchists and a cult of Aryan racism, without defining themselves to open themselves up to direct criticism.


“I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine†said Denzel, defiantly. “Nobody’s going to intimidate me. This is a free country, after all, and I’ve been to the Thumbscrew a good few dozen times beforeâ€.


Carmen shrugged. She admired Denzel’s bravery. “You have a face and a name, Deedee†she answered. Everyone called him Deedee.


“That scares off many, but attracts the glory seekers†she replied. “The Black Death is going to be attracting the real flies tonight. So just watch your back, huh?†she said, knowing her friend well enough to know there was no changing his mind. DD was all about defiance. And he would defy anyone who defied it.


The Thumbscrews, was, as predicted, full of a suspicious crowd, sweaty, full of bear and heavy, hard music. Carmen could even spot a few Gas Chuggers there, a vile biker gang who had waged a war against her fathers own biker gang, the Blacksmokers. The Gas Chuggers had largely come out the worst of it, but that was decades back. They always had a vendetta against Carmen. But tonight was not going to be there night.


The Black Death came on and did a full set. For what its worth, it was a pretty descent performance. Just the right balance. Practiced enough to be coherent, but not polished enough to lose vitality. The lead singer was a muscular, bare chested youth covered into tattoo’s that DD remarked could easily become something of a perverse gay sex symbol, under the adage that his history of vague anti-homosexual sentiment represented a homosexual inclination. Carmen could not disagree. The man was angry, there was no doubt about it.


The pieces were cut with comments that roused the crowd and were deliberately controversial. Again, one couldn’t pin the guy down, but the cheers and occasional discomfort from the drunken and sympathetic crowd left one in no doubt that this was a gathering of people who harboured racist views. Perhaps they only simmered in most cases, but in some cases they seethed.

A great story, Carmen realised, but all that DD and herself would be doing would be getting press coverage for the band. And this band knew what they were doing. Behind all the fist pumping and declarations of anarchy and freedom, this was a slick machine. They had cornered a market – the bubbling racist who felt he was not heard but dared not speak – and spun  it out, without ever crossing the line of the law. The carefully calibrated banter to the crowd, the innuendo, the knowing looks – all designed to whip up a media frenzy.


Hey cynicism rose to parallel with her anger. For all she knew, they would, after a the hype grew, sell out and ditch the white trash that had sprung them to fame. Claim they were misguided, generate some more publicity by redeeming themselves, and ride that media wave.


The more she studied them, the more she grew convinced. This band were playing everybody, and didn’t care who they trampled underfoot. She couldn’t speak to DD over the noise, but she wrote it down on a piece of paper and shoved it his way.


“Playing for Hype?â€


DD looked at her astutely, and nodded. He had reached, independently, the same conclusion.


They both shook their heads, and nodded towards the exit.


Behind them, two large guys, dressed up in leather and studs, with long hair and dangerous tattoos, looked at each other. Tall enough to see over heads, and onto note paper. And fans enough of Black Death to defend the honour of their favourite band.

Especially from a jumped up little black guy who went to college.


The two reporters stumbled out of the Thumbscrew. For all their irritation at the politics and hypocritical huger of Black Death, they both were excited, and they both knew it. The music was hot and heavy, and they both lived for this kind of excitement and raw passion.


“Screw ‘em. Give em two lines of something mediocre, kill em dead. Pass the word around†said Carmen, getting onto her motorcycle.


DD nodded sagely. “They eat publicity. Let them starve to death. Shame though, that lead guy had some real talent†he said with a wink in his eye at Carmen. She knew he was teasing.


“Yeah, in a life, loverboy†she replied, pumping up the ignition. “See you Monday, lets get to work slaying the beast, huh?†she said, with a wave and a turn of wheel, to send her home.


As she drove away, out of the corner of her eye, she saw it.


Despite his size, DD was in good shape and could take care of himself. But he was facing two guys, both a hundred pounds bigger and several inches higher than him. One of them would have a black eye the next morning, and the other would be nursing his nether region with an ice pack from DDs quick and brave retaliation, but after the initial spare of flurried defence, the beating started.


All DD could do was curl up and take it.


“You little punk! You ain’t gonna write up jack about Black Death, black boy. You ain’t gonna be picking up a pencil, or speaking straight, not after we through with you, hear me, boy? Do you hear me? Black Death coming right up!†shouted the larger and more brutal of the two.


“I hear you, boys†came the reply, but not from DD.


Pitch was quite a sight at any time, but even more so at night. A female figure, voluptuous and beautiful of form, alive with thick smoke and wisps of flame that flickered over her body. Her eyes glowed with embers, and her mouth lead down to the rumble of a forge fire in her insides. Her clothing looked seared and scorched, all leathers and studs.


Pitch was not the most famous heroine in Freedom City, not by a long shot. And her appearance often aroused a little suspicion, not least amongst the more “energetic†religious organisations in the city. But she was sure enough famous amongst heavy metal heads. She was practically the patron saint superhero of heavy metal.


Both men stood frozen whilst DD groaned slightly.


“Better run, boys†she said, voice crackling with the sound of melting steel.


The largest and more brutal thug ran, of course. He could do little else. But it was futile. He had barely made four or five steps when a chain of blackened metal swooped around him, wrapping him up and locking him down. Pitch held the end of the chain and hauled him back to her. She grabbed his face with smoking hands and gazed into his eyes.


“Let me tell you something, boy†she snarled. “I’m going to tear down, break, and burn every one of you scum. In my world, you ain’t fit to be wastin’ air†she hissed, the smoke of her mouth wafting up to his mouth and nose, and making him choke slightly.

“But lucky for you, I stay on the right side of the law†she said, as another hand shot out and a line of chain ensnared his friend.

“…usually…†she added, before helping DD up.


“This man got more metal in him than the pair of you combined†she said.


A spike of hideously sharp metal slammed from her hand into the pavement in front of them.


“Although I can change that†she added, before pulling DD back into the Thumbscrew.


She hadn’t meant it, of course. Well, the anger and fury were there. The hatred was there. She wouldn’t shed any tears over those guys. But she did stay on the right side of the law. Usually. She sure wasn’t going to kill them. Frighten the hell out of them, though. Well, they had that coming.


The entrance of Pitch into the Thumbscrew was dramatic, and more so by a bellow of hellfire that lit up the floor in front of her, to get everyone’s attention. A burning patch of fire in the middle of a floor tended to do that.


“Listen up!†Shouted Pitch, her mouth glowing with red fire every word.


“This man just got beaten half to death because of your songs, your words, your fantasy. This is a free country, so you can sing what you want, and say what you want†she started, looking around the silent gig and especially at the gobsmacked four musicians of the Black Death.


“But if your words and your power end up hurting the innocent. Well, I’m not going to like it†she roared, another fiery breath coming from her mouth.


“Now, you have a man in need of hospital, so you!†she snapped, pointing at one of the doorsmen. “Better call an ambulance. And call the police whilst you are at it. The two perps are outside, happily engagedâ€


“And you better all grow up. Because if this happens again, I’ll know where to come knocking. And I don’t knock very nicely†she said, before leaping into the fire and disappearing.


Inwardly, Carmen fumed at the horror of the little tribe at the Thumbscrew. It was the insidious nature of the hatred that got her. It felt like abuse of the freedom of speech. That freedom, it came at a cost - and not the fighting and wars to sustain it - it felt like the cost was having to swallow the bile of that coven in the Thumbscrew.


Yeah, she had made a threat. Maybe an illegal one, if anyone there had the will and the wit to make something of it. Maybe she might have half meant it. But maybe, just maybe, she had made someone who was only simmering stop and think. She didn’t know how much good a few words would do. But then again, a little good was better than no good at all. 

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Glamazon:  Going Bananas
November 9th, 2:15 PM

Danny Cavendish’s week long internship to the Atlantean Embassy was supposed to look good for college applications.  The teacher in charge of the Model UN assured him it would be an experience he would not forget.  He was supposed to make coffee and pick up a few meal orders.  It was supposed to be an easy after school club activity, the Atlanteans weren't known for spending too much time on the surface to begin with.  What was not supposed to happen was Danny being assigned to babysit the royal running around in an armored toga just because he was in her age bracket.  He was especially not supposed to be testing the limits of his motor scooter to try and keep up with the brazen teen as she charged through the West End.  They never warned him of just exactly how dangerous this week would be.

“Let this trouncing be a lesson vile fiend.  Abandon your path of villainy, lest you face the might of the Daughter of the Seas again!† The sound of the Atlantean’s victory speech alerted Danny that she had finished wailing on yet another criminal.  Danny assumed the now bruised man was a purse snatcher. At least judging by the way the elderly woman was beating the crook with her handbag whilst the Glamazon berated him. 

“You know what sounds like fun.  Sitting down and getting something to eat.  Or napping.  Napping sounds great.† Danny barely managed to wheeze out. Try as he might explaining to Thaelia that running into a hail of bullets was not a natural response was nothing short of impossible. If nothing else Danny was not lacking for exercise.
“Worry not we shall find nourishment for our thirst for adventure soon enough!  The local law enforcement have come to inform us of more opportunities for glory.†Thaelia exclaimed while pointing to the beat cop making his way towards the mismatched duo. He could not have been more than a few months out of the academy by the looks of him.

"Excuse me miss Glamazon. I'd hate to be a bother. But three of those gorilla gangbangers are stirring up a ruckus by Old Miss Leary's grocery store again. It would be awfully helpful if you could help out with them again." The natural ease in which he asked for help in dealing with 'gorilla gangbangers' was telling of how much of a tolerance for weirdness the officers of Precinct 13 were expected to have. Supernatural Crimes being their MO after all.

"Then let us be off to protect The venerable Learys!" The statuesque girl hoisted both males under her arms and proceeded to leap into the air. Bouncing from rooftop to rooftop they traversed the distance in little time.  Upon arriving at the scene of the crime Danny couldn't believe that there were three gorrilas dressed in raggedy clothes trashing what appeared to be a fruit stand outside of a mom and pop shop. “Wait, so you're telling me that there’s an actual street gang of monkeys here?†The apes all shot a glance in Danny's direction before screeching wildly and pumping their chests.

"MONKEYS! MONKEYS!" The largest ape roared out clearly upset with the comparison.
“They get offended if you refer to them as monkeys.  The members of Gorilla Warfare are apes Danny. Mystically enhanced through magic they may just very well be more intelligent than you or I.†Thaelia dropped the officer and the gentleman onto the ground freeing her hands so that she may crack her knuckles in anticipation.  "No need to apologize, they are far more enjoyable when angered."
“Do you mean magic magic?  Or is this that thing where you refer to science as magic?â€
“I do not know what that means."  The Large Ape protesting earlier charged straight for Dany, raising it's fist into the air it would attempt to violently hammer them into the youth. Fortunately, Thaelia was quick to react, catching both fists with her hands. Twisting the ape's wrist beyond their natural range of motion the demigoddess jerked her body forward so as to headbutt the ape square in the face. Attempting to back off it would be met with a quick kick square in the chest skidding across the pavement. "Darn dirty apes!  Hehe.  Get it?"
The other two apes reached into their ragged clothes pulling out what appeared to be banana shaped guns.  A volley of yellow bolts of energy would begin firing from their muzzles.  In response the Atlantean braced herself in front of her two male traveling companions, taking the assault head on so that they didn't take a stray shot.  Dropping to one knee the sturdy Glamazon managed to hear Danny's worried high pitched screams in the middle of the scuffle.  "Are you kidding me?!  Banana guns, they're using Banana guns!"
"I know how exhilarating! I much prefer the coconut cannons."  Reaching into one of the nearby fruit carts Thaelia pulled out a coconut and tossed it as hard as she could into one of the armed apes.  Its head shot upwards in response and the coconut managed to ricochet and hit the second ape on the side of its head.  Dashing forward she would stretch out both her arms hitting both apes with congruent haymakers.  Despite their weight their bodies gave a nice acrobatic display as they flipped around in the air thanks to the teen hero's fearsome strength.  Taking a moment to pose in celebration Thaelia was caught unaware as the large ape rose again.
Before it could strike her the ape instead roared out in pain.  Having been shot in the back by both the officer and Danny who found themselves now armed with banana guns thanks to the earlier haymaker.  Hearing the sound of the creature in pain, Thaelia spun around and elbowed it in the face knocking it out immediately.  Flashing a smile to the others the undersea royal gave an immediate thumbs up.  The rookie officer quickly placed some conveniently ape sized handcuffs on their wrists and began to call in assistance to book them.
Making her way back over to the exhausted intern now laying on the ground to catch his breath, Thaelia flashed Danny a warm smile. "Shall we proceed to feed our stomachs now?" The loud sounds of a police siren passing by as a nearby patrol car chased down what appeared to be a literal headless horseman. Her eyes following along all the while.
"Well...I suppose we can stand to stop one more crime before we eat."  They also forgot to mention how much fun it was to fall into her pace.

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Rene – Girl with a night fearing.



“Oui Oui, I am coming I am coming!†muttered Rene, getting out of bed, putting on his slippers and gown. And, of course, his beret.


“What is ze time?†he asked, frowning as he put on his spectacles and examined the grandfather clock in his hall.


“Zut alors! Do you know what time it is! It is nearly midday! This is no time to awake an old man!†he grumbled, as he opened the door to his apartment.


It was Mrs. Cartwright, from across the road, and her little girl, Lucy. Rene could not decide which one looked more worried. Despite himself, he felt his festering irritation dissipate.


“Oui, madame, what is it?†he asked, forcing politeness into his voice.


He was no particular fan of Mrs. Cartwright, an officious busybody in his opinion, who took it upon herself to be the community lead, involving herself in every local council and representative group she could find. Her actions were formed of good intentions, but often laced with rather too much energy and enthusiasm. She was, in Rene’s opinion, rather too keen to impose her own morals on others rather than keep them to herself. He suspected her intolerant of anything which wasn’t white, upper-middle class, homosexual, and Christian. Not so intolerant that she would drop her façade of tolerance and liberal values. Oh no, Rene did not doubt for a moment she was smart. Smart enough to keep herself clean, but flare her nostrils and steer the ship in insidious ways.


Still, she was polite enough, took it upon herself to do lots of the local administrative tasks, and whilst he found her unpalatable in terms of her officiousness, she was no disturbance to him. Inwardly, he always berated himself for never telling her his own sexual orientation.


He justified it to himself by saying that he was so old that his love life had ceased to be an object of major gravity to him, and that mentioning it out of context, without justification, would seem wrong. Somehow, it never got brought up. Inwardly, he wondered if he just preferred to stay silent because Mrs. Cartwright would flare her nostrils and speak to him more often, in some way feeling charged to change him.


After two hundred years and more he was pretty comfortable he would not change in that regard, even if was inclined to do so.


Lucy, on the other hand, he had a soft spot for. Eight years old, bright as a button, and clearly inheriting her mother’s brains, without any sign of her dullness of vision. A genuinely inquisitive mind.


“Please do excuse us, Mister D’Sans†she said. Rene could never quite work out how much deliberation was in the mispronounciation of his name. Perhaps that was the aim.


“It’s Lucy. I know you are meant to be some sort of witchdoctor or wizard or something†she said, looking nervous. Clearly all magic was swirling around an unholy alliance with devil as far as Mrs. Cartwright was concerned. The only debate was the distance at which it swirled.


Rene made no secret that he was a “wizardâ€. What he did do was cultivate the image that he was a bumbling fool with only an shadow of any real power. He encouraged all rumours he was just an occult scholar. He had found that pretending to be weak was a better disguise than pretending to be nothing at all.


“The doctor’s cant find anything wrong with her. It’s just, she has been having these terrible nightmares…â€


Rene’s eyebrows flared skyward.


“Come in, come in†he said, swallowing his vague distaste for Mrs Cartwright by blending it with his fondness for Lucy.


“Ah, Nightmares, Nightmares! Tell, me, dear Lucy, what do you dream of?†he said, with a smile, giving her a glass of milk and a cookie from his fridge.


“I..can’t remember. It’s just dark…a face…†she mumbled, looking down.


“I know nobody believes me, but it’s true, it’s true!†she cried. “The man is really there, in the room with me!†she said, wiping her tears and runny nose. “I’m so scared…I don’t ever want to sleep again!†she said, defiantly.


Mrs Cartwright did her best, and it was a good best, to calm down her daughter, holding her. Rene could see she was close to tears herself.


“I..I don’t know what it is, Mister D’Sans…†she mumbled, before mouthing the words.


I saw him


Rene didn’t move a muscle. It was hardly a secret to anyone even vaguely familiar with these things that Freedom City was a nexus for all sorts of supernatural activity. Ghosts, ghouls, demons, and sorcery all seeped and eddied around the streets, above them, and below them. But what piped his interest was the dreams.


Who could really penetrate the mystery of the dreamlands and the strange worlds and dimensions that webbed from that strange place?


If anyone could, it was Rene DeSaens, the dreamer. But, as Socrates said, wisest is he who knows he does not know. The mercurial nature of dreams meant that they could never be fully known, never fully understood, by anyone, or anything. All one could do was swim in its currents.


His own swimming, as artful and powerful as it was, may have caused this? Was this the wake of his wanderings in the dreamlands? Had his strokes caused ripples? Caused something to climb out of that land?


Who would know? Perhaps, perhaps not. Lucy had struck him as a sensitive, intelligent child. One who was a natural dreamer, perhaps even one destined for mystic sensitivities. Rene sighed inwardly.


“Well, Lucy, how about you show me?†he said with a smile, whipping up a paint brush.


He spared the canvas, and he spared the good paint. But the principle was the same. Art was, at the end of the day, art, no matter who from, no matter the complexity or simplicity. It was the projection of the mind’s eye into form.


He didn’t have Crayons, but some charcoal and pencils would do the trick, on some sketch paper. For a moment, Lucy almost had some fun. The act of making the immaterial material was rocky, but therapeutic. Through feared strokes and terrified scrawls, the picture grew into form.


Rene smiled and took the picture from Lucy. “May I keep this, Lucy? I think you will have a much better night’s sleep tonight!†he said, full of encouragement.


Mrs Cartwright gave Rene a look, and mouthed Hocus Pocus to him in questioning manner.


“Oh very well†grumped Rene, making a circling movement over Lucy’s head and saying “Abracadabra! Ala-Shoom!†in a theatrical voice, and giving her a wink which actually brought a smile to Lucy.


Later that Night


Rene was asleep. He snored lightly. His mind was floating and wheeling, spinning into the Dreamlands on ethereal waves. He was light, light, free and flying like a bird, or a zephyr. The ephemeral landscape beneath him changed, with land flowing like water and water creeping like land. He could navigate, to a degree, and wonder at the sights, the impressions, that alternatively assaulted and soothed him.


And there, of course, was the door.


It was no more than a trapdoor, a creaky, rusty, dusty one. Barely worth a second notice in this part of wonderland, sprung and watered by a child’s imagination. But the trapdoor was creaking, and broken, cracked.


And seeping through it was a shadow. A man, but a shadow.


“Mr Cartwright, I presume†said Rene, landing beside him.


As much as he disliked Mrs Cartright, he sympathised. Her ex husband had been a bully. A loud, obnoxious and intimidating man who had frightened both his wife and his child. Rene did not care to imagine how deep that intimidation went, but clearly the impact had formed this shadow, this welt in Lucy’s mind.


The shadow, the archetype of Mr Cartwrights imprinted fear did not answer, merely seethe and hiss.


Rene could not destroy or dispel this shadow. He did not exist here. Even if he did obliterate it, it would only be born anew the next night.


Instead, he leant down to the Trapdoor.


“Hello Lucy! It is Rene! Let’s make sure this door is safe, shall we?â€


The trapdoor was still a broken, bent and rusted trapdoor. But somehow, it felt like the door to a child’s bedroom too.


“Imagine you have a hammer! Imagine you have a nail!†said Rene, in a sing-song voice.


“Rap rap rap!†he sang, knocking on the door.


“It is your door, it is your room. It is your life. These are the nails, this is the hammer! Knock them in!â€


Bang! Bang!


Great Iron nails, bold and shiny, slammed through the trapdoor. As in any dream, the craftsmanship made no sense, but somehow, the door was secure. The door was safe.


“Wave goodbye to the shadow…†said Rene, winking at Mr Cartwright.


“Because even if fear never ends, the fearsome does fade. And every child’s slumber must feel safe…†he whispered. 


Even if it wasn't. 

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Foreshadow II:  Second Chances
November 5th: 9:00 PM

Milo Castellano came to Freedom City twenty odd years ago to live the American dream hoping to provide a better life for his family.  The Italian immigrant served as a factory line worker for Yeo's Automotive for a decade and a half until the company's recent demise.  Try as he might, Milo couldn't find himself steady enough work to replace the job he lost.  His skillset was growing more and more obsolete for the world around him.  A lack of supplemental income did nothing to soothe the ever increasing debt he suffered in turn.  With the threat of losing the home he worked so hard to build for his family Milo began to turn desperate.

In the Fens desperation often left people finding themselves under the wrong people's thumb.  It's how Milo ended up on the freighter this night.  It was a small rig whose cargo was nowhere near important enough to fall under the mob's radar.  However, their clients were willing to pay a pretty penny to have crates of weapons transported to Freedom City which meant the job was at least big enough to matter to someone.  Clearly the odd duck on the crew of six smugglers, Milo was the only one whose career history couldn't be summarized with an arrest record.

Two of the smugglers were armed with semi-automatic shotguns, three with assault rifles, and Milo a semi-automatic pistol.  The cold November air was the only company the smugglers kept as they patrolled their ship.  The poorly stacked crates of weapons often found themselves as a means of cutting off the smuggler’s line of sight from one another.  So when a rifle wielding smuggler heard a low clanking noise from the starboard side, it should have come as no surprise that no one saw him approach the railing of the ship.  No one saw the hand that shot up and reached the muzzle of his firearm arm, jerking it forward to get him off balance before slamming it into the man's face.  And no one definitely saw the fluid motion that allowed a shadowy figure to both scale the ship and incapacitate the now dazed smuggler using a surgical strike to the man's temple.

If they had seen anything, perhaps they would have been able to mount a unified defense. Rather than get picked up one by one. Of course if they had seen that the intruder on their ship was Foreshadow they might have just turned and ran.  An opportunity the costumed acrobat was not affording them. Foreshadow quickly scaled the nearby set of crates putting his agility to good use as he began to traverse the freighter from above.  Catching sight of one of the shotgun wielding smugglers, he positioned himself in such a way so as to drop down and slam his feet against the shotgun.  It figured off two shells into the ground in response, and more importantly the recoil was enough to find the gun positioned perfectly for him to reach up and slam the butt against the smuggler’s nose.

The loud footsteps coming around the corner let the hero know his actions had alerted someone.  The smuggler in question would never get the chance to fully turn the corner, as the shotgun was swung full force into his face.  Any chance he had in getting up and back into the fight was taken away from him the moment a foot came plummeting down.  The shotgun’s original owner’s vision was still blurred from the butt stroke to his nose; luckily Foreshadow was there to ease the pain. Reaching for the back of his shirt Foreshadow would slam him against the nearby crates.  As the man winced forward in pain his jawline would soon be met with the hero’s knee falling on to the ground immediately after.

Knowing full well that the shotgun blast from earlier would attract more attention he sped off to hunt down the other half of the crew.  Veering through the maze of crates it wasn’t long before Foreshadow found himself stalking behind the second smuggler carrying a shotgun.  Sneaking up behind him the blonde hero would send a swift kick towards the man’s left leg, nearly taking him off his feet as he fractured the tibia judging by the loud scream that soon followed.  He followed up with two quick hooks to the smuggler’s kidneys which elicited an equally vocal response.  The smuggler tried to turn around and fire his weapon in Foreshadow’s direction.  If he been a hair quicker the hero might have been left paying the price.  But that never came to be as an uppercut to the jaw put him out of commission first.

Foreshadow quickly ascended to the upper deck making a beeline for where the wheel was.  One of the smugglers was of course stuck as navigator.  That unfortunate soul had nowhere to hide when Foreshadow snuck up from behind and threw a flash bang grenade into the room.  The auditory and visual impairment would not last long as Foreshadow quickly struck him in the side with his stun rod.  The current running through his body was more than enough to rid the smuggler from the fight.


And then there was Milo.  He was the only smuggler left conscious on the vessel. He was the only one to actually catch sight of their intruder as Foreshadow used his stun rod in the previous instance.  And most importantly Milo was the only one to catch him off guard. Right after Foreshadow finished off the last of Milo’s partners, the Italian immigrant managed to apply a sleeper hold from behind.  Which would have gone a long way, had his opponent not been Erick Sloane. Foreshadow quickly sent a series of elbows to his assailant’s rib cage.  The blows forced the hold to loosen enough for Foreshadow to run up the wall and flip over his attacker before kicking Milo against the wall.  Soon the sirens of the coast guard became audible as a few patrol boats began to near.

“Alright, take care now.† Foreshadow’s deep voice bellowed out before the man turned to leave.

Milo practically sprained his neck turning around in shock.  â€œWait what? Aren’t you going to bring me in?!â€

“No need.  When this was called in by a concerned citizen he said there were only five smugglers on board and that he had already taken care of them so it would be safe to board.  Well I must admit you do look awfully concerned. Milo was it?â€

“How do you know my name?â€

“Let’s just say I do my research.  Anyways, I have a long night ahead of me.  This was just one stop on my itinerary.  Take care of yourself; hey you might even win a medal for this bounding heroism.â€

“Please, you don’t understand if they don’t arrest me.â€

“It’ll look like you rolled over on your boys.  Even if you can convince them that it wasn’t you who attacked them, and trust me none of them got a clear look at me you’d be pressed for that, you would still look guilty of talking to the police.  I’m guessing your gun buying friends aren’t the type to take kindly to that.  Wow, rough place to be.â€

“Please. Please.† Milo was practically on his knees at this point. His eyes filled with tears as he desperately clung on to the chance that Foreshadow would get the police to arrest him.

“I suppose I could be amenable to help you out.  If you cooperate that is.  Actually testify against your clients and friends and you have my word they won’t ever touch a hair on your family.  I’ll stop them before they ever get the chance to.  I mean these guys were so sloppy it took an afternoon to figure out the manifest and cargo aboard this vessel, experts they are not.â€

“These kinds of people hold grudges. They're very scary what are you going to do?â€

“With all due respect, I’ll just have to be a tad more frightening.† Foreshadow’s imposing demeanor was enough to really sell home the point the blonde was trying to make.  â€œClock’s ticking now do you agree or not?†Milo simply nodded frantically.  â€œGreat to hear, I’m glad to see you’re exactly the type of guy I thought you were. Hey that sound good to you detective Archer?† Walking into full view of the pair was a well-built mocha skinned brunette woman whose police badge reflected in the moonlight.

“Why yes. That sounds perfect.†Detective Valerie Archer briskly responded.  Not that it mattered as Foreshadow had already vanished from sight leaving the detective alone on the freighter with her new star witness.  Unbeknownst to either of them right at this moment Alaina Zelichonok, best friend and girl Friday to Erick Sloane, was dropping off a generous check to the Castellano estate.  Calling it charitable donation the family’s money problems would soon be a thing of the past.  Second chances didn’t come along often in this world, it would be up to Milo not to squander his.

Edited by HG Morrison
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A night at the Opera. 
Lord Lucien Lockwood, known in the quaint colonial dimension (that had decided in a rather amusing fit of egocentricity to label itself as “Earth Primeâ€) as Lord Steam, took great delight in mixing business with pleasure. 
Although not all business was pleasurable. 
He had taken on his role as official inter-dimensional ambassador to this world partly as it was jolly exciting, and partly to escape a few unpleasant personal shenanigans back home. Out of sight, out of mind, out of trouble, as the government of Earth Victoriana had put it to him. 
He had ample time to indulge his hobbies, of which testing his mind with the torturous super powered crimes of this world, this city, was his favourite. 
But unfortunately, there was a steady stream of formal diplomatic work to do. He could pass a lot of it off to a few pen pushers, but even he had to sign a few forms and smooth the diplomatic creases every now and again. 
Travel between dimensions was by no means easy, but becoming more common. Instead of virtually unknown, it was now merely exceptionally rare. But rare happened, and when rare happened, he had to get involved, at least if it was between his home dimension and this one. 
It would seem that somehow some nefarious rapscallion from London, Earth – Victoriana had sneaked through his own portal, on the run from the police, to find haven in Freedom City. Whilst the rotter had been picked up quickly, such an event caused bristled nerves and a cooling of relationships, as they said in the diplomatic world. The last thing anybody wanted, from any dimension, from any world, was nasty criminals from outside their backyard running to their own one. 
Still, such awkwardness could be mitigated with a bit of wining, dining, and culture. And tonight, he had insisted on meeting the UNISON pen pusher assigned to the case at the Freedom City Opera House. 
 The opera was Wagner, in German. Lucien was fluent in the tongue and always preferred it sung in its original form. If nothing else, it gave him a slight snobbish intellectual sting over his counterpart. 
Edward Smith was his name, as unremarkable as you could choose. He was a tall, thin man of about fifty years of age. There was no point pretending he was a dumb klutz. You didn’t get  to be the head of interdimensional affairs with a lack of talent. His eyes were keen and his skills requisite to the position.
Annoyingly, he also spoke fluent German, and commented on the song in such a tongue. 
Lord Steam sighed. Enough of the sabre thrusts and parries of diplomacy. He poured himself a generous glass of Champagne (as good, he conceded, in this dimension as his home one), and downed it with lazy fluidity, his hand lolling away, the liquid slipping down his throat without censor. 
“Mr Smith, my government does of course give its wholehearted apology for the misappropriation of interdimensional travel devices and the unfortunate escape of the criminal in question. We would like to give our reassurances that security related to such technology is upmost in our mind, and has been tightened and improved†he droned, knowing that both he and Mr. Smith where fully aware of both the absolute necessity of such platitudes and also how totally meaningless such rituals were. 
Mr. Smith paused a carefully judged moment, staring at the Opera without making eye contact. 
“And our agencies would very much like to know the details of where such interdimensional travel came from. It is our right to protect our soil†he said, in carefully neutral tones. The words had inflection, of course, but all passion had been surgically extracted out of his statement. In a sense, he was dancing the dance too.
Of course, there was the rub. Lord Steam had his own personal interdimensional portal, and one that he kept to himself. The little rotter had, by scurrilous means, crept onto his staff over at his home dimension and jumped ship. 
Needless to say, he was pretty furious about the whole incident, and had indeed tightened up the security. He had personally modified the portal with what he believed was an uncrackable code, so that only he could use it. 
“Yes yes†he said, irritated at his vulnerability “One does of course perfectly understand your position. “Unfortunately, I am not privy to all information about every piece of interdimensional travel equipment. My government does not tell me everything, and I am sure you will understand views some information as sufficiently sensitive or valuable that it is not disclosed. As indeed, does yours. I am aware that my government is investigating the matter and takes it seriouslyâ€. 
Parry, counter thrust. 
None of it was lie, of course. His government did keep some things from him, mainly at the bequest of M, the spymaster general whose intellect matched his own and whose loyalty and mystery made him more valuable. And they where conducting an investigation, it was just that M and he had manipulated it to fail. 
“I am sure. I am sure†said Smith, sighing inwardly. 
“Of course the absence of such information and cooperation does strain relationships, and there may be an inclination to review current arrangements, including your own position†he said, keeping the tone threatening without being able to called on it. 
“Why of course, one would expect no less, and I am sure it is to everyones regret that such unavoidable incidences would damage such a cordial relationship†answered Lord Steam, responding in kind whilst lamenting the possible loss of his cushy job and excellent position. 
“Such incidences could arguably be avoided†replied Smith. 
“I shall remember that when one of your lunatics pops over to our dimension†replied Lord Steam, dropping guard with taut reply. “You may wish to consider that this lovely little dimension has a multitude of metahuman individuals with powers that could well allow them to travel across dimensions. As well as several intellectual masterminds who could conceivably construct such equipment totally out of the control of law enforcement agencies. And, I daresay, not only is the potential for such a trip from your home to mine more likely, it is also potentially far more devastating. We have no freedom league†he replied. 
“So, if and when we get the other side of the coin, I shall remember your position that such difficulties are avoidable. And hold you account to them, Sir!â€
There was a long uncomfortable pause, punctuated by the powerful notes and voices of the Opera below them. 
“Arguably avoided†said Smith. “Of course, we would not be in a position to support such arguments in every case†he conceded, giving a tactical retreat. There was no adequate response, as the vulnerability was definitely with Earth Victoriana in this case. Of course, a full concession was unthinkable in the clashing of diplomatic epee, but it was certainly a step back enough to resolve the matter. 
“We continue to be thankful for the magnanimous position of this dimension. And do enjoy the champagne. It compliments the Opera wonderfully†said Lord Steam, curtailing his inner victory. 
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Gabriel - Just Another Day In The Office

It had been one of those days.

Carson hadn't gotten as much sleep as he’d wanted; there had been another negotiation the League had put him on standby to intervene in if necessary. Not that they’d actually needed it. Which meant he’d sat in an isolated room watching the monitor feed with one eye and grading papers with the other. At least he’d finished the grading.

Then he had a hankering for some Chinese, but it was a Friday and that meant that every place worth spending money at had at least thirty minutes of wait. Which was fine, except apparently there was still crime going on in Southside. Who knew! And so he couldn't very well place an order and say “I may not be at the door because I’ll be out hero-ingâ€. Kind of goes against said identity being secret and all. Or secret-ish, anyways; the circle who knew wasn't big, but it was non-zero.

Not that he minded fighting crime. It was, after all, why he was in America and not back in Ireland. But on a Friday when your brain felt like mush and your body only barely better and you’d already put in a full day at the office with mouthy college students, the last thing most people felt like doing was dealing with mouthy criminals who also tried to shoot, shiv, shank, or otherwise harm your person. At the moment Carson was included in the “most people†group. Even flying was somehow more annoying than exhilarating. The cup of tea had helped, but not much.

Three muggings and one assault later, he was going on something like 40 minutes with no crime beyond jaywalking (and he wasn't that bored yet), and Gabriel was ready to turn in early for an “emergencies only†night of relaxation. His grading was done and he had a pot of tea and a collection of old Irish poetry waiting.

Which was why that was the exact moment someone bounced a medium-caliber bullet right off his chest. His armor meant he only felt it as a tap, rather than getting a nice bruise for someone to shake their head at later, but it was still not really something he expected. The sound controller stopped in midair with a blink, casting his gaze about even as he shifted his hearing into “overdriveâ€. It didn't take long to find the culprits; it was a gang of younger people. Some were perhaps a couple years his junior. Some looked barely old enough to drive. They were armed with everything from lead pipes to butterfly knives to, in the case of the three hoodlums who looked to be in charge, a set of brand-new assault rifles. Obviously the source of the shot.

Gabriel’s eyes narrowed, even as he almost-unconsciously summoned his shining spear into his hands. In the blink of an eye he was hovering right over the edge of the rooftop the gang was gathered on (some old warehouse at the edge of Southside). Suddenly their confidence was caution. Especially since his shiny breastplate wasn't even marred by the bullet hit. The entire group took a couple of steps back, giving Gabriel room to land on the roof. The glare he gave them was like the worst he gave an unruly class, and then some.

“Most days I’d give you boys and girls a speech about how you can make something better of your lives, I believe in your potential, etc. Today, I’m kind of in a bad mood. So, special offer. Put any weapons down, leave, don’t make any more trouble, and we’re good. No cops. No notes. No speeches. Leave peacefully and stop making trouble, and that’s that.â€

Most of the youngest, and all of the girls who had been present, left. A few of the older kids did, too. Gabriel’s glare ensured that those that didn't leave left the ones who did alone. Finally, there were perhaps 10 gang members left on the rooftop. Now, Gabriel just smirked.

“Stubborn and stupid. Good to know.â€

In the space of a few moments, things got hectic. In rapid succession, the three gun-toting gang members found themselves locked in place, as if turned into statues. They could breathe, and they could blink and move their eyes, but that was about it. Two more were left trying to not empty their stomachs out. The rest were quickly slammed with a barrage of sonic blasts, until the only conscious people were the paralyzed ones. Who had to just watch as Gabriel calmly and carefully took their weapons out of their hands, and broke two over his knee (with some help from his sonic powers), while the third was just slung over his shoulder.

“Bad day, huh?â€

They managed to gulp in fear.

It had taken less than 5 minutes to get a full story on where they’d gotten the guns, which were fairly high-quality, and not of American make (according to them; Carson could identify weapons in general, but branding and off-brands eluded him for the most part). Which meant someone was gun-running. Into Southside.

This would not stand.

And so he’d left all the stubborn gang members unconscious on the roof with a tip to the police on their whereabouts, while he’d flown just a few blocks away to find said gun selling location.

For some reason, no one was in the warehouse. Well, no, they were all, each and every one, taking a smoke break. All half-dozen of them. No skin off Gabriel’s nose, though. Left him more time to turn all but one crate of guns into useless wrecks; that one crate would be fantastic evidence. There were some 50 crates, though….

He squinted hard as he concentrated, pointing both hands at the stack of crates (after gently dragging one out of the way). After over a minute of concentration, the crates actually visibly sagged. With a smile, Gabriel ceased the sonic assault and wandered toward the front door. It was quickly thrown open with just a hint of drama to it.

“Hey boys! Sorry to say, your business license is hereby revoked!â€

And so it was that Carson finally got to sit down with a cup of tea and a book, hours later than he’d hoped.

The bad guys were in custody, the guns were either junk or evidence, and would never hit the streets, and hopefully at least a few kids would rethink the whole “street gang†idea now.

All in all, a fairly normal day in the life of a hero.

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Cobalt Templar - Who Needs Normal Anyways?

It’s funny the things you treat as normal, mundane, unimpressive, or otherwise part of everyday life.

In many parts of the world, things like “personal computers†or “owning a car†are unattainable luxuries. Other people consider this food or that normal when still others would scoff at it, or even gag at the very idea. Some people think it’s normal to sing in the shower, while others go by practically on automatic.

Some people reserve “wearing armor†for things like “historical reenactment†or “something those actor guys do in moviesâ€. For Corbin Hughes, it was something he did most every day.

Admittedly, said armor wasn't normal metal, but instead a solid construct of blue energy, shaped by his imagination and sheer willpower into a form to provide protection for his body, enough to withstand most any normal modern weapon. All because of a centuries-old ring on one hand; protection, and so much more, all from a simple piece of jewelry.

Which is good, because right now he’s got 8 guys who could probably bench-press a small car with at least a bit of effort wanting to punch his face in.

‘One of these days I’m going to meet the mad scientists who keep coming up with these DNAscent treatments and I am going to give them such a thrashing.’

He dodged 5 punches, but took the last blow on the right cheek. It didn't even split a lip, despite the punch having sufficient force to put a large dent in a car door, but he was still annoyed. It was the principle of the thing, really. In this case, the principle in question was that Cobalt Templar should not be having any trouble from a group of puffed-up punks on camo pants and tank tops calling themselves some name he’d already forgotten.

“Seriously guys, have you not heard of me at all? I know I’m not on the Freedom League roster or anything, but it’s not like I’m hard to miss on camera. Plus, what’s with the tank tops?â€

He ducked another punch and delivered one of his own, sheathed in blue flames, to the underarm of the attacker. The man grunted in pain and stumbled back, clutching his side.

“I mean, I get that you’re jacked up on new superpowers and you probably don’t feel the cold like normal people do. I get the temptation. But have at least a little class! Or, if you’re going for tacky, go all the way; wear some beach shorts and an open Hawaiin shirt! It’s got some flair, you know? This just makes you look like punks. And I don’t mean the subculture!â€

He clapped the ears of the man he’d just hit, completely no-selling the rain of punches to his back. The already-struck man staggered in place, until Cobalt Templar delivered an uppercut that probably fractured his jaw, and definitely put him down for the count. He then turned around and caught the punches of two more guys. Their eyes widened, right before he spun in place a few times, tossed them into the air, then sped up above where they reached the apex of the throw, grabbed them by the throat, and slammed full-speed into the ground. They went out like Corbin’s dad on a Sunday afternoon.

He rose back into the air then, contemplating the remaining 5 thugs for a few moments, before nodding. Suddenly, two ridiculous-looking contraptions that might generously be called “automatic crossbows†appeared in his hands, and he sprayed down a rain of bolts that had improbably miniature boxing gloves on them. All but one of the thugs dropped to the ground, unconscious, within 30 seconds.

That last thug was starting to shake in fear as Cobalt Templar landed in front of him, a somewhat savage grin on his face as his body was suddenly wreathed in blue flames that quickly obscured everything, until suddenly there was a giant standing in front of the thug. Said giant seemed to be imitating the Balrog from the Lord of the Rings movies, albeit minus the wings or weapons, and colored entirely blue with some deep right highlight flames. It bent down and looked the man in the eye with a grin that was all teeth.


The thug up and fainted, falling to the ground even as CT reverted to his normal only-almost-giant form, a grin on his face and a chuckle in his throat.

“Looks like I kept the property damage down this time. I’m sure the cops will approve.â€

He fell into a thoughtful look. Over a minute of waiting for the cops to arrive passed in silence, before he snapped his fingers with a grin, as if remembering something important.

“I suddenly desire pancakes.â€

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Life on Mars


Well, it was as good a planet as any.


Cold, desolate, and most importantly, devoid of life. 


Well, nearly devoid of life. 


Professor Quentin Quill was a genius by most people’s standards. An expert on quantum physics and publisher of many papers, some dry, some exciting. By day he was a lecturer and researcher at Freedom City Univeristy, and his expertise, intelligence, enthusiasm and skill would have been enough, on their own, to give him a place in the history books of science.


But he had certain other advantages.


Professor Quentin Quill was also a telekinetic.


Simultaneously the weakest and most powerful telekinetic in the world. He was the superhero, Supercape!


The amount of mass he could move was virtually nothing. Individual atoms, or molecules. Maybe several at a time if he really pushed himself. He could not more levitate a dime than the man on the street.


What made him extraordinary, however, was he was the most precise telekinetic the world had known.


He could nudge atoms and sub atomic particles in and out of existence, setting up chain reactions.


In essence, he was a living nuclear bomb. Able to control all forms of radiation, able to open up wormholes in time and space, loosen and manipulate the very bonds of atoms themselves.


For a nuclear physicist, this ability was an ace in the hole. Or, to put it another way, being a nuclear physicist was exceptionally handy for someone with this ability. The two went hand in glove.


It also meant he was able to observe and create very unique experiments. And increasingly he found himself absorbed not in the flying around the world (or the universe) but in the fascination of his exotic experiments and research. Sometimes, he would spend days on a stretch at the Particle accelerator in the Lab, the headquarters of the worlds finest super-science superheroes.


But sometimes, he would conduct experiments he felt were too dangerous for the Lab. Nuclear reactions were, after all, dangerous things.


For those, he had found a nice little spot on Mars.


He could not stay on Mars forever, of course. But his costume, made of unstable molecules attuned to his psionic powers functioned as a space suit of sorts, and he could erect a quantum lattice force field around him to shield him from the barren radiation and recycle oxygen for a while. But he did not need forever.


The site of him on the lonely landscape, with a few pieces of equipment, a flask full of tea, and a deckchair, encased in a shimmering force field, was quite a dramatic one.


This was a day in the life of Supercape, aka Quentin Quill.


He peered into his equipment, mentally stabilising the element under observation, normally so volatile and radioactive it would have decayed in picoseconds. And one which could potentially cause devastation. If anyone actually ever worked out how to hold it in a stable form, it would be a weapon of mass destruction the likes of which the world had never seen. For this reason, Professor Quill was determined to find out a way to destabilise it.


The more he found out about the esoteric forces of the universe, the more it filled him with wonder and fear.


A fear not unfounded. He had travelled to many worlds, many universes, the scope of which was beyond the imagining of men or gods. And many had bleak destruction through them. Many were filled with hope and wonder. Despite the infinite size and possibilities of the multiverse, he never felt small.


He wondered why that was.


Perhaps because the wonder of the whole was the wonder of the parts?


He gazed up to the stars he could see in the Martian sky, and the stars and galaxies unseen behind them. All were within his reach. If he lived a million years he could not visit the tiniest fraction of them.


He knew he came here not just for science, but to behold the wonder of the universe, away from the world. He wondered just how healthy it was. It was beginning to feel like a drug, an infinite realm he could lose himself on, become disconnected, dissociated, and oblivious in.


Which is why he needed to focus. The world was important damn it, not the stars and the infinite spaces and energies. In the face of infinity, you could go mad.


He pressed his gloved hands to his temples and pressed. Hard.


Focus. Star gazing is for dreamers. You have a job to do.


And slowly the universe turned, and night fell on mars. And despite his protestations, the only life on Mars watched the sun sink and the stars shine on the dead world. 

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King of Suits: They all need help.

The scene of the drama is one of the Fens' myriad of snaking alleys, testament to the slip-shod planning and building of Freedom City's most ill-fated district. One may well ponder the reasons Dr. Metropolis must surely have for leaving such a miserable place largely untouched, when it would scarcely be without his power's bounds to amend or at least adjust the architecture, perhaps even ensuring the city's infrastructure saw to its needs more thoroughly or else improving the lot of those unfortunate or determined enough to live there. Given that the city is Dr. Metropolis and Dr. Metropolis is the city in a real and definite manner, the strange being may be more human than he appears. The time is 4.07 AM on the ninth day of November, a chill Saturday morning with hours before dawn. Marceau Suvou, as you will observe, is in his disguise as the King of Suits and has just finished disarming a desperate, wild-eyed young man of his broad-bladed knife(generic, cheaply-made and likely forged by someone solely out to make money out of others' aggression, no artistry there) and compelled the youth against the alley wall with his free arm. The intended victim has already made good his escape, that lumpy figure there at the end of the alley. The necessary platitudes follow.  

"My friend, I don't want to hurt you. But I will make sure you don't try to hurt anyone else, alright?" Marceau's eyes bored into the would-be mugger's, his blue almost otherworldly against their brown. The younger man had at least a head and twenty pounds of muscle over the King of Suits, but the strength and inexorable steel he felt nailing him against the wall had crystallized the message of the last five seconds, when the stranger had stepped out of the shadows and struck him so blindingly quick and solidly he hadn't a chance to prepare before he felt the gloved fingers seize his wrist and spin the knife into the gloom.

"Y-yeah! Okay, sure, j-j-just lemme go! I won't try this again I promise!" he babbled, squeezing his eyes shut as if that would make the vigilante go away. Marceau watched him intently, letting a few more seconds trickle by before nodding and stepping back, releasing the teenager who collapsed in a grateful huddle on the ground. Crouching next to him, the King of Suits said calmly and kindly "Where do you live?" realizing that was a little out of left-field he added with a smile "I'm the King of Suits, what's your name?"

Looking up the amateur robber's dark face was the picture of confusion "Uh...m'name's Jace, Jace Hill. I d-don't got a home. Left last month, I couldn't take it anymore, man! Livin' there was like hell, you seein' this place, man? Right here?" Jace demanded, getting warily to his feet and pointing at the evidence before the vigilante "This place hasn't been repaired since my granddad's day, everything's falling apart, the windows are smashed, the electricity don't work none unless you count startin' fires as workin', the plumbing's bad on good days, and that graffiti there, with the swastikas? The Brotherhood don't spray that stuff around by mistake, okay King of Fruit? But it beats home. There was...there was nothin' there worth staying for. Everyone there just wants to fight, take it out on each other 'cause they can't do nothin' to fix the world they're stuck in. Dad'll just beat me, and Mom'll give me worse. They'll bring it up and bring it up over and over again how I left and couldn't take it in the big bad city. They'll just think 'm a joke, a failure, helpless like them. Might as well fight with people I don't know 'stead of my own blood..." He glared at the ground and kicked it bitterly, his voice sinking into gloom as his tirade went on.

Marceau had been silent all the while, arms folded and thinking. The Brotherhood did claim this part of the city, it was true(and the King of Suits was willing to bet the varying ethnicities were part of the appeal; always someone new to beat on), and he knew from personal experience just how bad life could get in the middle of urban decay. He'd heard this story before too. In fact some of the sentences, the phrasing, was so familiar he wondered for an unworthy moment if Jason and the rest were just grabbing convenient bits from others' lives.

Chasing that away with a shake of his head he said aloud "If that is so, why not find help?"

The incredulous expression on the younger man's face made him go on "You cannot change this on your own, correct? Otherwise you would have done so though it took years of drudgery. If so, why not find help? You have friends? Comrades you can rely on?"

Jace shook his head very slowly, eyes narrowed and lips set. After a moment where neither said a word he broke in haltingly "This ain't somethin' that'll change after a few bucks, mister. It's gone on for years."

"Then allow me." The King of Suits smiled, offering his hand "I am not without resources, and I know the city like few do, even those who have lived here all their lives. I can find you job opportunities so many would miss, beat back the gangsters polluting your neigbourhood. I can give you the help you need, Jason. Running away won't solve anything. Oh at first it will seem so, but the problems that will replace the ones you had..." he faltered, eyes dimming. Jason was watching him warily, tensed and ready to bolt, the words were fumbling off his tongue. It all seemed so hopeless all over again. He knew how this would end. Jason would refuse, laugh at him, run off into the night, ten weeks later he would either be dead, doing worse than mugging, or working for one of the gangs that ran like a virus through the city's veins.

But there was always hope. It never had to end like that.

"Yeah, what?"
"Take me to your family. I cannot give you better lives, but I can give you a chance for something better."

The young man stared, his dark skin and hair making the whites oif his eyes stand out in the cold silver light of the Moon. "Seriously? This ain't fightin' crooks, man. Not punchin' those dudes who show up on TV. Some of my folks are...they're ******* scary, man."

Marceau smiled glumly "Then we had best start now."

"...****, fine. They'll run you off pretty fast anyway. This way. Down to Kendall. Um, King...I'm sorry for tryin' to ste-" "Do not apologize unless you are sorry, my friend. Though we will need to talk to the police, I'm afraid. Lucky I was there, and this was your first try! Nobody bothers with armed robbery in the Fens for a reason..."

They passed quickly out of sight and hearing.
Thank you for your attention.


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The Spirit of Diplomacy


November 16, 2013


As fingers of lightning danced down from the hands of glowing imps perched on power lines, aimed towards rat-headed women carrying broken bottle knives, Temperance shook her head as she realized this was going to be one of those nights.


The signs had been there for nights before, but only if you took the care to look for them – and lately, she’d been somewhat occupied with tests, which meant she didn’t really get to the backlog of flagged articles until tonight. First had come the story of a new effort to expand the underground components of Freedom’s power grid. Then the power outages. Then the discoveries of fried rat corpses, and the opening story of the evening news about massive amounts of rats fleeing the subway tunnels and storming the McDuffie Street Station. It had been a slow news night, but something like that did leave a mark. It was yet another of the small spiritual turf wars that sometimes took place backstage, and it was starting to spill out into the physical world.


Normally, this would be just one of those minor affairs that would either burn itself out or result in a clear victor. But… Temperance wasn’t entirely happy with the whole mess. Her dad had come home at night, talking about some of the more landlocked water spirits were talking about the rat spirits moving through their pipes. There were reports of power surges and planned outages on the radio. There was the chance that this might turn from a minor diplomatic incident into full-on war.


It had taken close to a day to track down the two sides – her mother did a very good job of keeping mice and rats out of the house, and the electricity spirits had some sort of old beef with her dad that kept them from coming too close. She’d gone to the generator down the street to try and talk to whoever was there, but it had been barren – the spirits were keeping close to one another. So, she had to talk to the street sign spirits, who pointed her to the gas spirits, who pointed her to the pigeon spirits, who told her where the rat spirits had been holing up. So, if she couldn’t get to one party, maybe she could get to the other first.


Mind you, she’d gotten there a bit too late. As she got close to the back alley, the sound of high-pitched chittering filled her ears, soon joined by the smell of burning ozone. It appeared that negotiations had just broken down, and she was about to throw herself into the fray. Conflict that took place backstage would normally stay backstage, but if it got passionate, it could have repercussions in the physical world. Generators would blow, power lines might tumble, or rat herds might go swarming out of the sewers and find shelter anywhere – and there were a lot of homeless shelters and hospitals nearby, the kind of places that didn’t need swarms of tiny terrified rodents who could chew through concrete is sufficiently frightened. She rushed into the fray, icy daggers dancing to her fingertips just in case.


She stepped to the side, just missing a bolt of lightning that took out a giant rat standing on its high legs. The smell of burning fur filled her nostrils, and she realized, once again, she’d rather be anywhere but here. Normally, she would just throw out a wave of water and hope that knocked everyone down long enough to collect their wits – but normally, half of the people she targeted weren’t made of lightning. Water would be a problem. But fortunately, she’d paid attention in science class.


She brought the water out of her Camelback, working it in her hands, and pushed it out. The second it left her hands, it turned into a thin, yet incredibly strong, barrier of ice that kept expanding until it formed a circle in what had originally been a crowded room. The ice pushed back the rat spirits and through the electricity spirits – thank Ms. Grabowski for elaborating on the less-than-conductive tendencies of ice. With that done, she turned to the crowd.


“Now,†she asked, “does anyone wish to discuss terms like civilized ephemera?â€




After that, it was a matter of discussion, with occasional violence. Apparently the push by the city’s engineers had brought opportunistic electricity spirits into the depths, putting the rat spirits on edge. When a rat clutch had killed itself by gnawing on a power cable, it was taken as a sign of a shooting war by the rats, and the incident spun out from there. While it was mostly misunderstanding, there was still the problem of the new tunnels. In time, however, Temperance was able to get the two to agree on territories and controlling interests in various parts of the tunnels. Which was impressive, as she still wasn’t entirely sure of the layout down there.


As the two groups filtered off into the night, she shook her head. Diplomacy wasn’t exactly her big thing, and this had been for something fairly minor. But… taking care of it meant it didn’t risk erupting into something major. Sometimes it was good to put out fires before the first spark could hit. Though God help her if she started getting a reputation as a mediator. 

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November 17th, 2100

Vector sighed, standing in the rain at King’s Cross, two policemen (okay, one policeman and one policewoman) standing next to her.  While the rain rolled off her skin, costume and hair instead of getting herself soaked thanks to her powers, it was still a fairly miserable night… which didn’t stop the drunks.  

Way too many of them had been on the streets, lately, and after one too many supervillains had taken to messing with the beer (seriously, what was going on with that?) several members of the superhero community in Sydney had got together and worked out a schedule for helping the police keep an eye on things for a week or two.  And it was Vector’s turn tonight.  

Tonight, when it was pouring with rain.  Well, at least there wasn’t much chance of violence tonight-

Just then, the sounds of a scuffle broke out, two men starting to push each other in the street, not noticing (or caring) about the wind or the rain.  Vector sighed, already cursing at herself mentally for thinking that. 

The policeman standing undercover sighed.  â€œYou’d think they’d stay home on a night like this… well, let’s break the fight up.† The two police started walking towards the fight, opening an umbrella, with Vector walking just behind them.  She wouldn’t actively get involved if everything went to plan, just… be there as a reminder.  

Of course, it couldn’t be that easy, as the pair of drunks started glaring at the police.  Vector started getting nervous at that, but didn’t interfere yet…


Something that changed the instant the knife came out.  Vector moved forwards, her foot tapping against the pavement and skidding her past the two police, as the knife wielded by one of the drunks- a tall man in a leather coat- deflected off her costume, her powers almost unconsciously bleeding off the force of the blow.  She glared at him.  â€œI am not in the mood for this tonight, you can’t hurt me… if you drop the knife now I’m sure the nice policemen won’t charge you with anything too serious.â€

And of course he didn’t listen.  â€œShut up you little- OW!† The incoming swear word turning into a yell of shock more than pain as Vector’s palm casually slapped against his wrist, the built-up forced not hard enough to break anything, but enough to force him to drop the knife.  As the police pulled him down to the ground, Vector turned and glared at the second man, her fist slamming into her palm and creating a mini-shockwave, disrupting the rain.  â€œEasy way or hard way?â€

“...easy.† The second man, shorter but more heavily-built than the first, gulped slightly as Vector’s glare turned into a smile.  â€œGood man.â€


Neither man resisted much as they were loaded into the paddy-wagon and driven off to the police station.  A lot of the fight seemed to have gone out of them… and the beer of the pub they had come out of was going off for analysis, just in case this was another beer-meddling supervillain.  

Seriously, didn't they have better things to do with their time?

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The Best Beat in the Universe


November 24th, 2013, 9:00 AM EST


Kyle sat in the Sea of Tranquility, trying to catch his breath. He’d long since gotten used to long range distances in space, but breaking orbit still took a little bit out of him. It helped to find a nearby body to touch down on while getting used to the pressures of breaking gravity – he’d stopped by the ISS a few times, but they didn’t exactly take kindly to freeloaders. So for now, he sat on the moon, about a klick downwind from the Lunar Lander, taking account for the rest of the day.


Once a week, most Star Knights were expected to pull a casual patrol on their local sector. Maria had been taking the duty most of the time, but she had a family day planned for today, so Kyle had volunteered to pick up her duty. After feeling like he’d gotten comfortably adjusted to the void around him, he stood up, leaving his print in the lunar dust.


“Do we have any planned traffic for today, Mentor?†he asked.


“There is a Lor tourist vessel on an excursion to Eris, and… well. That appears to be it.â€


“Huh. Quiet day. When should they be in?â€


“Around seven of your hours.â€


“Yes, like they’re my hours. So, end of shift. Oh, well. Let’s see what I can do in the meantime…â€


11:00 AM EST


Kyle dangled over the Great Red Spot, taking in the weather.


This was his favorite bit of storm watching, anywhere in the universe. The massive turmoil of red below tore through the gaseous atmosphere of Jupiter, and would likely continue to do so after he was nothing more than dust. For most, that would have instilled a shrinking sense of one’s role of the universe, but for Kyle, it was a nice reassurance of the constancy of some things.


Mind you, while it was meditative to look at, it wasn’t exactly something you wanted to get close to. Extremely high pressures, extremely high speeds… one day, he might dive in for the sheer experience, but only after making very, very sure his environmental shields would hold. So, after studying the storm some more, he decided he could stand to do some exploring…


1:00 PM EST


Huh. There was a monolith of Ganymede.


It wasn’t black, clearly carved, humming, or anything like that, but it was clearly there, and had been for some time. This wasn’t unexpected, given all the other things one could expect to find in the local system. It wasn’t pinging any of his weirdness senses – it could have been anything from a memorial to an art installation to some species’ equivalent of planting a flag. He could touch it, but he wasn’t sure how fragile it was – and if it did turn out to have some weirdness, he didn’t want to fill out the paperwork for transcending to the next phase of existence.


Besides. It was enough to admire the craftsmanship.


4:00 PM


This one was a bit of a hike, but it would put him somewhere around Eris by the time of the expedition. Besides, it was always good to check on things like this.


A small craft passed on, untrammeled, somewhere on the outskirts of the system. It had crossed the boundaries of the system over a month ago, but it was still moving. Kyle grinned. He’d made contact with cultures beyond most of this system’s interstellar capabilities. He’d seen proof of more species than he could reliably catalogue without some sort of extensive database. But someone else had the same goal once upon a time, someone without his means or… well, “luck†was the wrong word, given what had put him in the Cloud in the first place, so he would go with “circumstances†for now.


Keen that things were continuing onward, Kyle kicked off back towards the system, and away from the course of Voyager 1.


6:45 PM


Somebody had to step on the thin patch, didn’t they.


The Lor expedition had come prepared – environmental suits, climbing gear, even spare rebreathers with vacuum protection for the occasional suit breach. The suits were regulated for the kind of atmosphere you’d imagine on a planet made of methane ice, which meant they were nice and toasty. Kyle was feeling some sort of chill, though; it was probably the psychosomatic effects on being surrounded by cliffs and valleys of ice. It wasn’t like they made these things for flaws.


He kept his distance from the expedition. He wasn’t there to be their babysitter – they’d done excursions like this plenty of times, according to Mentor’s intel. He did his own little tourist expedition, taking in the freezing geysers of the planet.


But somewhere, somehow, the ice was thinner, and led to a gigantic cavern with more methane than a barn full of flatulent cows. His comms picked up three tourists, dangling over the lip by their hands after their safety cords failed. He zoomed off as fast as he could, making some alterations to his weapons system in flight. He dived into the cavern, trying to compensate for the obscuring effects of rapidly sublimating methane ice.


“Okay, folks!†he yelled. â€œYou may feel a slight clinching sensation. That just means it’s working.† He fired his gun at the first tourist. Normally, there was an energy field that could wrap around a target and subdue them, using a Von Neumann protocol to maintain its integrity. But, with a few protocol rewrites, it could form a high-tensile cable that would allow the target to be reeled in – and a few extra cables, for large crowds. And, with more modifications, it would go from a suppression system to a safety harness. And hey – he was nothing if not a good shot. A few seconds later, they were all back on solid ground.


The rest of the trip was less eventful. But at least the Lor got some stories out of it.


7:00 PM


This was somewhat more familiar. Well, he’d done this enough times he could view several parts of the local system as “familiar.†But this was more intimate.


He was out of the armor, and back in street clothes. He was sitting on a bench in Riverside, right outside the Black Petal, enjoying a vanilla latte and a panini. The Cloud had many ways of wiring a person’s body for stimulation, with only 70% of them being lethal for human consumption and the other 20% being somewhat illegal. Coffee just didn’t exist out there. It was a vice he’d been quick to reacquire.


Kyle enjoyed his dinner and took in the crowds, ducking in and out of shops, galleries, and nightclubs. He’d been back on Earth for about eight months now, and while he’d gotten his footing, he still didn’t feel like he’d fully readjusted to everything. There was still this sense of… nostalgia, longing, that came with everyday actions.


He wasn’t sure he’d be entirely used to this for some time. And he was perfectly fine with that. 

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Tyrone Mendoza was a busy man. Every morning, promptly at six, he would wake up, grab a cup of coffee from his coffee maker, and head out. Generally he would be at the school by eight, barring traffic. Of course, sometimes he would simply put the suit on and jump and run to the school, dodging traffic altogether.


Today, however, that seemed not to be the case. He was out the door and about two miles away from home when he heard an awful crashing noise. He zipped around the corner and spotted three cars in a vicious looking wreck.

He ran towards them and glanced around. One car slammed into the side of another, which sent both cars careening into the rear-end of the third. The third car looked to simply be dented, and the passenger was already out of their car and sitting on the side of the road.


The first car, the one that started the mess, had it's front end caved in and it's passengers were also out of the car. Both of them looked shaken, and one had a small laceration on her forehead, but otherwise fine.


The other car, however, had it's entire driver's side door caved in. He looked into the car with his infrared vision and spotted that the sole passenger was indeed alive. He approached the car and glanced in.


She screamed. It was a loud, ear-piercing, terrified scream. He sighed. This was going to be bothersome. He let the suit slide from his right hand to reveal that yes, in fact, he was human. That seemed to help her a bit.


“Are you hurt?†He asked in Graft's deep baritone. He always thought that amusing, that the suit simply disguised his voice. Between the foot of height, hundred pounds of bulk and voice change, no one he knew could hope to recognize him.


She shook her head. “Yeah. I think my leg is broke.†She said, closing her eyes in agony.


“Are you trapped?†He asked. She nodded nervously. He glanced around. “Has anyone called for paramedics?†he asked. One person nodded and held their phone up. “How long ago?â€


“Like, three minutes? Four?†She said.


He nodded. “Alright, Ma'am, paramedics are on their way.â€


“I'm afraid. Please don't leave. You're a superhero right?â€


He nodded. “Yes, I am. If you want me to stay with you, I will.â€


She smiled a weak smile and laid back slightly. Soon, the paramedics were there, but it was evident that they couldn't get the door open.


“It's broke in.†One of them said. “Are you as strong as you look?†He said, looking up at Graft, who merely nodded. “Think you can get that door off gently?â€


“What about the fire department?â€


“I don't know, man.†The paramedic said. “If her leg is bad, we might not want to wait.â€


Graft thought of all the ways a broken leg could turn bad and simply nodded. “I may not look like it, but I'm a doctor.†he said, stepping towards the car door.


“I'm sure there's a good story to how you got to look like that.†The paramedic said.

Graft, with all the gentle care he could put into breaking a car door, tore enough of the door off to get the woman out. She was right. Her leg was bad.


“Alright.†One of the paramedics said as they put her on the stretcher. “We're out. Thanks for the help!†he said with a wave.

Graft nodded and turned to a nearby building. He leaped into the air with one big push and extended one of the tentacles to grab onto the wall to help pull him all the way up. From there, he leaped, building to building, across town to the school.

There was an alleyway that nobody ever visited, about three buildings away from his office. He landed on the roof, dropped into the alleyway, and instructed the suit to remove itself.


It pulled away from his legs first, creating a disorienting sensation of losing a foot in height. Then it pulled from the rest of him, disengaging from his nervous system. At first, that was an odd, unsettling feeling, but he'd gotten used to it. It crawled into his backpack and compressed into it's compact, portable form. He slung the backpack around his shoulder and stepped out of the alleyway.


“Mendoza!†One of the researchers said. “You were almost late. What happened?â€


“Oh, a problem with traffic.â€

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Nick Cimitiere


Five Stages


November 27th, 2013


Another late night. Another round of patrol. Another group of souls to aid.




“I want you to get out of my house.â€


The man stood in the middle of the living room, arms crossed, glaring at Nick Cimitiere with a look that made him feel like catching fire. The fact that the man was semi-translucent and floating two feet off the ground was just another one of those things.


“See, Greg, there’s a problem there. This isn’t your house anymore.â€


“Like hell it’s not. I bought it with my money –“


“Yes, you did. Ten years ago. And five years ago, you lost control of your car on a rainy night and… well, you don’t remember that part, but let’s just say it had an impact.â€


“You’re lying to me. I’ve lived here with my family –“


“Greg, I talked to Samantha. She moved out with Joey after the accident. Too many memories in the house. That’s why Mrs. Wilson called me here to talk to you. You never noticed Samantha’s white and she’s… well, not?â€


“I want you out of here now, and –“


“Greg. Look down. You’re floating two feet off the ground.â€


Greg did indeed looked down, and it appeared that he was realizing something for the first time in a long time.






Glass rained down all around Nick, and he realized this one was going to be far from easy.


The factory had been closed a long time ago, as a result of the death that had happened even longer ago. A worker had gotten caught in the machinery, and was intent on taking it out on the rest of the building. The man’s ghost, reduced mostly to rage by the trauma of his death, had been keen to lay dormant since the factory’s closure. But not some enterprising businessmen were attempting to turn it into modern lofts, and they weren’t taking “no†for an answer. So, he had to head it off at the pass before more workers got hurt.


The ghost came swinging at him; while it had some sort of physical presence, it was less the residual form of a human and more a swirling storm of ectoplasm. The ghost contracted, sending out a blast of force that knocked him off his feet and sent him skidding across the concrete floor. The jacket had absorbed most of the blast, but his jeans were still somewhat torn up. The ghost moved to strike again –


-- and found itself struggling against solid bonds. This place was soaking with ectoplasm from the ghost’s old furies, and Nick had managed to work that into grasping hands that could wrestle it to the ground. Fury versus fury, and while the ghost’s may have been more raw, his was more refined.


“So,†he said, “you feel like actually talking now?â€




“What the hell do you want?!?â€


The enforcer hung from a lamppost, eyes turned towards the ground. Nick was standing right below him, eyes locked. The ectoplasmic hands kept him supported, as long as Nick cared to maintain the effort. And he cared to maintain it for some time.


“See,†he said, “it’s not what I want. It’s what the people I talked to want.â€


“Who --â€


“Sally Monroe. Jake Levant. Marcus Williams. But I don’t think you ever really got their names, did you? Not before you put one in the back of their heads.â€


Nick turned away from his quarry to look down the block. The enforcer followed his gaze to see a strange fog rolling in – one Nick recognized as ectoplasm materializing and coalescing.


“But hey. I bet you’re a lot better with faces. And I’m sure they remember you…â€




She stood up at the top of the hill, looking out on the city lights below. She sighed, and that sigh could break anyone’s heart.


“They put my great-granddaughter in the ground yesterday.†She didn’t look a day over 25, though her clothes spoke of a time long, long ago. “She was 72. She had a long, great life. After the ceremony, I went… everywhere. The house. The hospital. The graveyard. Nowhere. She’s passed on.â€


She wiped away the ghost of tears. “I’ve seen… 23, now… of my blood pass. None of them have stayed on. They’ve all passed on to what comes next. And here I am, still stuck on this earth. And I can’t rightly say why.â€


Nick took her hand and looked her in the eyes.


“Why don’t we find out together?â€




The teenager stood at the top of the hill. In some ways, he looked a hell of a lot like Nick, only without the makeup. Nick tried to capture the spirit of the Fifties rebel; he was the spirit of the Fifties rebel. They shared a few phantom cigarettes and watched the cars drive by below. Had for a few months now.


“You ever get tired of hanging around like this?†he asked.


The kid shook his head. “Wanna see what comes next,†he said. “When I get tired, I’ll let you know.â€


Nick was willing to take that for an answer. 

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