You had to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over the Russian mob. Sullivan decided 4 AM was just early enough. Not that I was complaining, perched on a west side rooftop struggling with a yawn under my mask. It was in the low thirties, the chill wind propbably cut it down lower, and I was using the heat of my power to keep from freezing my balls off. The sun was a way from rising, the distant city heart a forest of dark buildings on the twilight horizon. Not my ideal Friday morning.The Russian mob bank was a run down flat house in the inner west side. As I understood it this was one of the places they gathered up the ash they'd then launder through any number of 'legitamite' businesses. Drug money, illegal bets, scams, blood money flowing in from dozens of sources. A tidy sum for anyone brave or stupid enough to try to knock it over. The Russian mob were nobody to fuck with. In terms of crazy they matched the Mexican cartels pound for pound. If this was the start of some kind of Russian-Mexican war, I felt a little sorry for Sullivan and his biker gang being used as pawns in the opening gambit.I don't think the Russians would care much that he was under duress. They'd cut off his head, same as Baby Girl's and Billy Lonegran's and anyone else involved in the heist, if they caught him.Headlights sliced down the dark road before winking off, the soft buzz of motorbikes. Four bikes, three in white, one in black, they sidled up down the road silent as hunting cats.The house they were hitting had the lights on in the top floor, the dull throb of music beating from the closed windows. A big guy kept watch out the front, breathing mist into the cup of his hands, machine gun swinging from a strap over his shoulder. He hadn't noticed the bikers, still some ways down the road. The black bike stopped, Baby Girl getting off, slinking out into the dark. I lost track of her, an ink blot disappearing into the gloom, her black leathers blending into the night.I watched, waiting. The other bikers did the same, sitting patiently, waiting for the signal.The sound tugged my ear lobe, a soft hiss. I'd have missed it if it wasn't for my keen senses.Baby Girl slid down the side of the flop house, climbing down from the roof with her sword drawn. The guard yawned, looking out on the neighborhood street, oblivious to the death crouching above him. The sword was a scorpion's tail, poised to strike.With a wet crunch it speared the guard through the neck. He coughed blood, trying to turn as he slapped at his gun, fumbling hands failing to grasp it. She whipped the sword out from his neck then around, sending his head tumbling down the stoop, grabbing him by the gun strap before the body could collapse.
The severed head bouncing into the gutter was the signal. The Stunt Crew bikers dismounted, pistols and shotguns drawn. I knew Sullivan from the nickel plated revolver, he lead the way. Baby Girl sheathed her sword, slipping down, taking the AK from the headless Russian as she laid him in a sitting position beside the door.They nodded to each other, Sullivan and Baby Girl. Then Sullivan stepped away from the door.Billy Lonegran came up, a hard kick driving in the door, shotgun lowered, ready to make a mess of whoever was behind it. The blast of the shotgun split open the dark, the flare of the gun lighting up white leather.I watched in grim silence, listening to the burst of gun shots from within. It wasn't my instinct to do nothing when bullets were flying, I had to tell myself no one here was innocent, everyone was a crook with crimes enough to turn a hardened stomach. I told myself that, but I didn't like it, or entirely believe it. Whatever their crimes they were people, with loves and lives and people who cared about them. To kill someone and end everything they were, and everything they could be. Maybe someone better could live with that, pass the judgement on who should live and who should die, but I don't know if I could.But as the glass of the top floor window blew out, I had to remember I was on a mission. I had to get to Navaja, find out who she was, to take down the Midwest Cartel for good.I had to, but it wasn't easy.A Russian ran out into the street, wearing only tight white underwear and a gold chain, panting mist with a gold plated pistol, blood streaking his chest. Someone, Billy Lonegran maybe stepped out with him in his sights. The Russian threw his gun in the gutter, trying to leg it for his life. Billy sized him up cold, a hunter eyeing up a prize buck.>I can't do nothing, stop Billy from killing him>Keep out of it, remember the mission
Previously on With Great Power Quest: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=With%20Great%20Power%20Quest
>>4665324>Keep out of it, remember the missionLast thing we need is a witnessWelcome back Bullpen!
>>4665324>Keep out of it, remember the missionWe're kidding ourselves if we're pretending that we're not complicit in all of the deaths that have already happened. We're working with people who are the same or worse than those that have died already. The sooner we accept that the better.
>>4665324>>Keep out of it, remember the mission
I looked away as the shotgun blew open his chest, the Russian flopping to the ground, twitching out his last on a cold November morning.It was strange how this stuff didn't bother me anymore, not on the physical level at least. I guess you could get used to violence when you saw enough of it, and inflicted enough of it too. Still, I did feel a pang of guilt. I could have done something and chose not too. I had to make it worth it.The bikers came running out, each carrying a duffel bag. They mounted up, tyres screeching as they peeled away. In the distance I heard the high whine of police sirens, too late to do any good.The sun was starting to mount the horizon, twilight giving way to a gray dawn as the bikers raced through the half dead streets toward the west side.I followed at a distance, bounding from roof top to roof top, moving from the run down homes to industrial blocks, warehouses and train yards.I dropped in across the street from a warehouse the Stunt Crew MC pulled up in front of, crouching on the roof of an abandoned cafe, the windows masked with grime, half the letters of the sign missing. The street was empty with abandoned and half abandoned buildings. It had been a long time since anything had been made here.I hunkered down behind a tall red L, hiding myself as best as I could. Sullivan pulled off his helmet, ruffling his peroxide blond hair. Baby Girl did the same, then slid her katana into her belt.Sullivan looked around, searching the horizon. Maybe he was looking for me.Billy pulled out a cigarette, sparked it up, the smoke mingling with the cold mist. The world grew in color as we waited for the dawn, and with it the cartel representatives.They came down slowly in a couple of cars, grinding the street grit under their tyres, taking their time. When they pulled to a stop in front of the bikers, Billy crushed his smoke under his boot heel.Cartel gun-thugs stepped out in silk shirts and dress coats, dressed for a corporate scene even if they tattoos over their faces and necks, a street language boasting of their deeds and allegiances. Out of the first car climbed Carlos, the man with the glasses I'd seen manage the cartels relationship with the Stunt Crew."You have the money?" Carlos asked with his fake friendly smile, eyeing up the duffel bags."We have what we could take," Sullivan replied, "As to the amount I can't say, its hard to keep an accurate count with gunplay going off in my ear."Carlos clapped his hands. "It's the message that's more important," he said, "It will teach Gradov to stay out of our business.""Or maybe it'll have Gradov come for your head, him with all the rest of his Eastern Bloc comrades."Carlos grinned at the suggestion, bright white teeth shining in the cold morning light."Eastern European ties run deep in Chicago," Sullivan said, "Don't think they'll give up ground they've carved for themselves since their grandfolks fled the Soviets."
Carlos' gun-thugs took the bags, passing them one to the other than into the back of a car."You did well today," Carlos said, "Navaja is pleased.""Navaja is absent," Sullivan said, "We were promised an audience, but I don't see more than the same two bit pimp I've been seeing since our acquaintance started."Carlos' smile faded. "Navaja doesn't meet with just anyone," he said, "Not least some wannabe Jesse James outlaw gringo up the wrong side of Dixie.""Well then its good I'm not just anyone," Sullivan said, "But I done a mess of killin' today and its got my blood up. Now you get on the phone to your employer and tell her that with all due respect I'm done being led around by the nose, and would ask her indulgence for an audience.""Or?" Carlos asked."Or we find out how quick your boys are with their iron.""You talk a lot Mr Sullivan, you're a big talker," Carlos replied."I'm done talking," he said, eyes as hard and empty as the barrel of a gun.Whatever Carlos saw in those eyes, it had him break from the glare first, grinning to himself in the unhappy way of someone who knows they're up against their better.A slow clap started, a single pair of hands."Very good," a woman's voice came from behind them, stepping out of the abandoned warehouse, "I do enjoy such bravado."She was shorter than I expected. Younger too, though maybe more 'youthful' was the better word. Girlish even, not at all what I'd imagine a hardened gangster would look like, least of all a woman fearsome enough to rule her own criminal organization. Wide cheeks and a strong chin framed a small, smiling mouth, with large eyes to contrast it. She wore a small black dress with a diamong studded collar. She didn't look like a gangster, she looked like a gangster's mistress, and about as intimidating as one.But Carlos swallowed, backing away.This was Navaja.I took a snap with my phone."You wanted to meet me, Mr Sullivan?" she said. Her accent was Illinois American, "Well here I am."Sullivan looked uncertain. I didn't blame him. Baby Girl drew close to his side."You had us jumping through all kinds of hoops, ma'am," he said."I like to test my partners," she said, "If I'm to go into business with someone, I need to know their quality. You had a reputation, but reputations can be exaggerated.""And where does my reputation stand now?" he asked."Higher," she said, "Enough to satisfy me, for now. Take a message to the Old Man, tell him the debt is cleared and our deal stands. My familia and yours will work together from now on. Your people will run security for what we ship out, and in return they will be richly compensated."
"But before we make too nice, we have one last issue to settle," she said. A long nailed finger pointed to Billy. "This one, he tells an interesting story. Of deals cut with costumed vigilantes hoping to bring me down."Sullivan tensed, Baby Girl's breathing grew heavier. "What have you been saying Billy?" Sullivan asked.Billy had the grace to look ashamed, but then it turned to anger. "You keep talkin' to me like I'm an idiot, Sully," he said, "Well I ain't so stupid as to try to double cross the cartel. They'd have found out anyway.""What have you told the Hotspur, Mr Sullivan?" Navaja asked."Nothing," he said."You're lying," she said, "Anything you've told him will drip back into the DSA's ear. You made a mistake, Sullivan, a bigger one for thinking I wouldn't find out.""By God if you've killed us Billy, you'll be riding to hell right behind me," Sullivan growled through clenched teeth.More men stepped out of the shadows of the warehouse, Cartel men, and they weren't packing pistols."Our deal stands with the Old Man," Navaja says, "However, not with you."My heart beat picked up. Sullivan and Baby Girl were surrounded.>I can't leave them to be murdered, not when it was my fault>I had the photo I needed, anything now was on them
>>4665560>I can't leave them to be murdered, not when it was my fault
>>4665560>I can't leave them to be murdered, not when it was my faultI like them. Plus, they will be useful later
I wasn't going to watch them be gunned down. The Russian mobsters had made their own bed, but Sullivan and baby Girl were in peril because of my actions.I stepped out from behind the capital L, gave a sharp whistle."Yo!" I called, cracking my knuckles, "Nice to meet you Navaja, but I'm going to have to stop you right there."A tick of irritation twitched her cheek.I stretched out my arms as I stoked my inner fire."Shoot that mother fucker!" Carlos snapped, pushing one of his underlings.I grinned, and leaning forward, lunged from the roof.>roll 3 x 1d100 dc 70 +30
Rolled 18 + 30 (1d100 + 30)>>4665692let's fuckin go
Rolled 71 + 30 (1d100 + 30)>>4665692This will end poorly
Rolled 93 + 30 (1d100 + 30)>>4665692
>>4665708nice, clean success
Rolled 91 + 30 (1d100 + 30)>>4665692
Gunfire burst, scouring where I'd stood.I hit the hood of the car hard, crashing down fast and mean a comet, the bonnet crushing inward, smashing apart the engine within. I lunged out, driving my fist into the gun-thug's face, shattering his sun glasses against his face.Sullivan and Baby Girl didn't wait on the opportunity. His gun flashed out of its holster, her sword spring from its scabbard. She slashed as he fired, a deadly duet. A hand flung away clutching the stock of a submachine gun, a ribbon of blood trailing after it.A chorus of gunfire broke out, Cartel thugs pulling Navaja back into the warehouse.I spun from the first goon to the next, dropping under the muzzle of his gun, coming up to crack his chin, sending him to the gutter. I turned to catch the hand of the next, crushing it in my fist, small bones popping leaving something mashed up and useless behind."Best you two get out of here!" I said, hefting up Billy's bike. I threw it over their heads to crash into the cartel enforcers, the bike crumpling with the force of my toss.They didn't need telling twice, and Sullivan leapt up into the saddle of his bike, Baby Girl up behind him.I shouldn't hang around either. I drove my clenched fists down on the hood of the remaining car, busting the engine inside it."You be careful on the street now Billy," I said, backing away, "I don't think Sully's going to forgive this one."Billy's attention was more on his pulverised bike than me, but then Billy was a dim one.Navaja's glare found me from the shadows. Poisonous hate so strong it could have killed me, but I just smiled. I knew her face now, the rest was just a matter of time.I wasn't far behind the outlaw couple as they sped off, Baby Girl firing off shots behind her as they raced for their lives down the west side street.Who knew where they could go for safety? All I knew is they better not stop running.By the time they slowed mid-morning traffic had come to life. They zipped around packed congestion, ignoring the heckles of car drivers as they wove their way around, helmetless and not caring. I shadowed them to a garage where they at last came to a stop.
"Fuck!" Sullivan yelled, kicking over a garbage can. Couldn't say I blamed him. He glared at me when I dropped in, but Baby Girl was more grateful."You came in clutch," she said, "Pulled us out of the fire.""Goddamn it, we're fucked Baby Girl," he said, "And what have we got for it. Did you even find our friends?""I'm working on it," I said, "You know if I wanted to I could have just sat back and watched them smoke you. Then I wouldn't have to look for your friends.""Yeah," he said. Baby Girl's hand to his chest calmed him. "Yeah, I know that. I owe you, Hotspur. We both do. But we're as good as dead now anyway. Navaja, she don't forgive or forget.""You won't have to worry about her once we take her down," I said."You believe that you believe in the goddamn tooth fairy," he replied. He slumped onto his bike, head in his hands."We weren't meant for long lives, my love," Baby Girl said, her fingers through her hair, "We're outlaws."He sighed, closed his eyes, "And outlaws we be."It was touching for a pair of murderous criminals.>they were in a tight jam, maybe I could help them>leave them to figure things out
>>4665748>leave them to figure things out
>>4665748>they were in a tight jam, maybe I could help themWhy save them just to let them die right after?
Where the hell is everybody
>>4665839I'll give it another ten minutes then flip a coin
Rolled 2 (1d2)okay1 you help them out2 you leave them to figure it out
"You want my advice, get out of town and hole up somewhere," I said, "But for now I've got to bounce.""We'll figure something out," Sullivan said, "And I meant it, we owe you for pulling us out of there. Call it a one time favor.""All right," I said, "Try not to end up in any obituaries."It was dumb to think compared to the danger they were in, but I had to go because I had to get to school. It was the last day before Thanksgiving break, and that might only be a week but a week without Kay felt like a life time. And after dodging bullets I felt a throbbing heat for Kay, her touch, her presence. To be a little melodramatic about it, when you live in the shadow of death I guess it made things all that more urgent.By the time I got into school I'd missed first period. I found Kay by her locker, chatting to Ayesha. I barely gave her time to say high before scooping her up by the backside and hauling her into a kiss.Nearly dying and finally snapping a picture of Navaja left me feeling light and reckless, and Kay didn't mind at all as she melted in my arms."Wow, where did that come from?" she said with a blush."Just thinking about you, baby girl," I said."Miller!" the bark of Mr Sack's voice turned my head, "No tongue hockey on school grounds, Miller. Have some decency."I managed not to flip him the bird, but Kay hugged me closer, a hot smile over my shoulder at Mr Sack."He's just jealous because he's almost 40 still a virgin," she purred in my ear."Seriously?" I said.She shrugged, "Maybe." Another rumor, I wondered if she had started it."Not seriously," Ayesha said, trying not to look at the two of us, "Mr Sack has a wife and two kids.""-and I'm telling you man, they live beneath the earth just waiting for the right moment to strike," Hunter said to Rufus as they came walking up."Yeah man, sounds like a cool movie," he said."It's not a movie," Hunter said, "It's from this old book by a guy called Richard Shaver. He knew the truth and tried to tell everyone. There's beings living beneath the earth, alien beings, and the Explosion was their signal to rise up and prepare the earth for invasion. Dougie Hicks talked about it on the last episode of the Mars Expression."Rufus shruged. "I don't know man, sounds like a load of whatever to me," he said, "I'm surprised you're still on that after getting your cast off.""Don't cry to me if you get taken over by a brain worm," Hunter said, "Hell, you won't even be able to cry.""The only brain worms I'm worried about is the ones you got," he said, "Sup Eric, you hearing this caucasian nonsenses? Aliens and what not."A month ago I'd have laughed too, before meeting with Dr Zamani. Maybe there was more to the alien conspiracy theory than I wanted to believe."Hey Ayesha, how you doin'?" Rufus said."Just sending a text to Malcolm," she said, on her phone.
"Her boyfriend," Kay teased. Ayesha cheeks squeezed in a blush. Me, I felt an odd throb of anger. The college boy. I kept my arm around Kay and my attention off Ayesha. She didn't need me acting all protective brother over her, even if the thought of a college guy running with a high school chick creeped me out."Malcolm, he was the old quarterback, right?" Rufus said, "Our team went downhill when he left. Now we got some white guy with a noodle arm. I think we only got two brothers on the team now too. What's up with that?""Ask Mr Sack," I said, "He's the football coach.""Well I've got to cheer them on no matter what," Kay said, patting my arm. She kissed my cheek. "I've got practice, but I'll catch you later?""Yeah, sure will," I said, watching her skip away.We met up with Zeke on the way to Chemistry. "You guys see the news?" he said, "They say the Shark ate a kid.""The Shark, you mean...?""The goddamn para-freak," he said, "Scooped some kid up off a boat, chomped him in half. It was on the news.""Goddamn, someone's got to do something," Rufus said."Semper Fi will sort it out," Zeke said, "She's sworn to bring the creature to justice.""Poor kid," Hunter muttered as we went in.My skin prickled at the news. Not just because it was shocking, but it didn't sound right to me. I didn't know Shark well, but from our brief run in he didn't seem the type to kill someone for no reason, least of all a child. I couldn't help but feel this was some kind of stitch up, and I only wished I'd be in Chicago long enough to sort it out before Dad had us off to Indiana. Unfortunately I just didn't have the time.It was while listening to Mr Nfume drone on I remembered to forward the photo I'd taken of Navaja to Ms Grant. I got back a thumb's up. The ball was in her court for now, I'd have to wait to see what she served up.Tomorrow was the funeral, and it'd be early, after that I'd be heading out of state for a while. I had to consider what to do with my last afternoon in the city.>spend it with Kay, get some time in before I left>give the neighborhood a last patrol, make sure everything is safe before we go>maybe check out Ayesha's boyfriend, I'd promised her dad I'd look out for her
>>4665922>maybe check out Ayesha's boyfriend, I'd promised her dad I'd look out for heralso check in with Ivy, we haven't heard from her in a while
>>4665937SupportFuck, sorry Bullpen. I wanted to vote to help Sully and Baby Girl, but fell asleep. It's late where I am
>>4665961its all good
A lot can happen in a week, love you Kay but this seems urgent.
>maybe check out Ayesha's boyfriend, I'd promised her dad I'd look out for herI meant to fucking post this with the first one, why can’t we edit posts 4chan.
locking that in
I didn't like this Malcolm cat, no two ways about it, and I suspected something fishy. I was not the sort to use words like 'untoward' but it all felt a little untoward, a guy starting college sniffing around a girl who wasn't even sixteen.So I decided I'd keep my promise I'd made with Mr Carver, and keep my eye on things. Snooping, essentially. Maybe not the best use of a superhero's time, but if I couldn't look out for my friends, how could I look out for the city?If I could save her from an invisible pervert and a lunatic with a shotgun, I could save her from a bad boyfriend. Right? It's not weird or boundary stepping over...whatever.After school I made my way over to her house. Not right away, I went home and changed first. I rolled up around sundown, just after five. Start with her, talk things out. I had an open invitation to come over whenever, parental approval. Saving them from the Creep did that.I knocked on her front door, hands in my pockets. Waiting, waiting. I thought about what I'd say, I couldn't be too direct. Maybe I shouldn't have come. I turned to leave when I heard a shuffle inside."Hey, someone get the door?" I heard Ayesha call. Then a stomp, the sound of a latch, and the door swung open. She had a tooth brush in her mouth, wearing a flannel shirt just long enough to be a dress. "Oh hi Eric, what's up?"Oh.I saw Ayesha just about everyday. I was used to her, even if I knew, objectively, she was pretty. Very pretty. And maybe there was something about the light on her cheeks or the way the toothbrush hung from the corner of her mouth, but I missed a breath. I coughed it out."I'm here," I said."You're here," she said with a smile, "To...?""See y...Ivy," I said, "Just wanted to check up on Ivy, you know, the funeral is tomorrow."Probably wouldn't be a great idea to tell her I was here to make sure her boyfriend wasn't a scumbag, which I doubted."Oh cool, yeah, she's just upstairs," she said, "Sorry I'm getting ready for a date with Malcolm. He's taking me to dinner.""Cool," I said, ignoring the weird angry feeling inside me. It'd be cooler with it if she was going to dinner with Rufus or Zeke or something. Someone her own age.I waved hello to Mr Carver before heading upstairs. Mrs Carver was out, apparently.I guess Ivy could help out. She lived here, at least for now, and she'd be in the pocket of Ayesha's life. Plus I trusted her judgement, if she thought I was being paranoid she'd tell me. Music came out from under the door. Bowie I think. I knocked on the door but didn't really stop before heading in."Don't believe in Modern Love," Ivy sang along, twisting to the music, turning around eyes half shut, dancing, her dress half unbuttoned down her chest.For the second time I forgot to breathe.
"Modern Love, walks beside me. Modern Love, walks on by. Modern Love, gets me to the church on time," her eyes opened with a smile for me. Without so much as saying hi she grabbed my hands and pulled me closer."You can dance right?" she said, the saxophone starting from the speaker, "Ayesha says you know how.""I can cha-cha when I need to," I said."So dance with me," she said, pulling my hands to her waist. I'm not a virgin but I blushed. I tried not to squeeze but my grip grew firm. She put her hands behind my neck, head rolling back and forth timed with the sway of her hips, vibing to the music, pulling me in her wake.This wasn't why I was here but I found it hard to stop.The track changed from something less pop and more soulful and slow. China Girl. A kind of song for close dancing, slow dancing."I hear her heart beating loud as thunder," David Bowie sang, "I saw the stars crashing down."We locked eyes, we were a level height. Not like Kay where I stood taller than her. Or the kind of look Kay would give. It wasn't bright or perky or flashing with mischief, but long and smouldering, holding back a flood of emotion that threatened to break free and drown anyone in its path. We were held close together almost nose to nose. She broke away first, leaving me in a confused guilty knot as she turned to lower the volume on her ipod."Sorry," she offered, "Just got caught up helping Ayesha get ready.""Yeah," I said, burning bright pink.Ivy is a friend, and I'm in love with Kay."Didn't think I'd find you dancing though," I said. I hadn't been in Ayesha's room since Halloween. I took a seat by her bookcase nook. "You know, considering.""I can't cry all the time," Ivy said, almost flippantly, "You know my parents are back in town. They want me to come home with them, after the funeral.""Are you going to?""I don't know," she said, buttoning up her dress, "The Carvers have been nice, but I think they're worried I'm a bad influence on Ayesha.""Are you?" I said, "I mean, she's got an older boyfriend all of a sudden."Ivy raised a finger. "Now don't blame that on me, they met at one of Mrs Carver's poetry slams," she said, "Though maybe I did make a slight, casual introduction.""Malcolm, right?" I said, "He was with you guys last year. Is he a good guy or what?""There are worse, but I don't know him all that well," she said, "Why, are you jealous?"I blushed again. "I've got a girlfriend," I said."So did the guy I made out with at Kemal's last party," Ivy replied, "If it makes you feel any better, she likes you too."Excuse me?"She likes Hotspur, not me," I said with an awkward grin, "That's not the same thing.""Sure," Ivy said, "But that's not what I meant."
What did she mean? Did it matter what she meant? I have a girlfriend I'm in love with anyway. Our conversation cut off when Ayesha came back in, sans toothbrush. "Out you get little buddy," Ivy said, "Ayesha's got to get dressed.""If you don't mind," Ayesha said with a smile. I nodded right as the door closed in my face.What did Ivy mean 'likes me'? I stood staring at the wall, ears burning.The door opened. Ayesha stepped out in a tight white dress and a thin black jacket. She smiled."What do you think?" she said with a twirl. I thought it was tight, particularly in the back."Cute," I said. Did I mean her or the dress? Ivy had me all confused."Thanks," Ayesha said with a warm smile, touching up her curls.The last piece on was a gold heart necklace, nestled nice and snug right above her..."Malcolm should be here in about five," she said, checking her phone."Where are you guys off to?" I asked."He's taking me to Everest, its a tres chic restaurant down at the stock exchange," she said, "Very trendy, very expensive."Weird for a college boy to have that kind of cash.A car horn sounded from outside."Oh! That'll be him," to my surprise Ayesha kissed my cheek, "Don't wait up." She winked on her way down.I watched her skip to the door, saw her dad frown from the frunchroom. He didn't like it much either. Then I looked to Ivy."Do you trust this guy?" I said.She ran a finger along her collar bone. "Oh not at all," she said."Do you trust Ayesha?" I added.She thought about that. "Nine times out of ten, yeah," she said.And tonight was the one time out of ten she didn't."Do you want to follow them?" she asked.Should I? This felt like line stepping, but the more I learned about him the less I liked him.>...we probably shouldn't>...let's follow them
I'll be back tomorrow
>>4666029>...let's follow themWe promised. She was there for us, now we will be for her
>...let's follow themYeah this seems pretty Sus, and honestly I’d like to believe she’d do the same for us.
>>4666029>...let's follow them
>>4666029>let's follow them
>>4666029>>...let's follow themthis wont help eric's attitude with girls, but I do think that it's suspicious
>>4666029>>...let's follow them
>>4666029>...let's follow themDoing nothing would just let Ivy work more of her succubus wiles on us
feeling a little off today but I'm working on getting it together
>>4666055>>4666074>>4666135>>4666147>>4666164>>4666638locking those in
I stepped over the line."Let's follow them," I said.Ivy gave me a thoughtful look, then sighed."Well okay," she said, "I guess we're going.""Where are you going?"We just about jumped at the sound of Mr Carver's voice behind us. I turned to see him standing in the doorway of his daughter's room, looking annoyed."We're just..." I started, lies fumbling on my tongue."We're going to follow Ayesha, make sure this guy is on the up and up," Ivy replied. Some times honesty was the best course of action. Mr Carver's face brightened, his bad mood retreating from a wide grin."Great idea," he said, "Let me get my coat, I'll drive you."So our party became three, stalking our friend on her date.
The Chicago Stock Exchange was down the Loop, just on LaSalle street station. Of course we took a car, which I was glad for with the beginnings of winter settling in on the city, frost slick in the night. Ivy pulled on a lilac purple jacket, wrapped her face in a scarf. Mr Carver pulled his flat cap low. I don't know how either of those things disguised the make and model of Ayesha's family car, or the numberplate. I guess we just had to hope she was too caught up with this Malcolm fella to notice. It was warm in the car but I still felt a faint chill as we weaved through the streets.A Friday night had people out, no matter how cold, lining up to get into nightclubs and restaurants, streets bumper to bumper with traffic.Mr Carver let us out near the stock exchange."I'll text you when I find a park," he said, "Keep me informed on what the little bastard gets up to.""Yes sir," I said. He nodded, confident in my trustworthiness. Boy did I feel like a creep though.Walking down the slick sidewalk toward the stock exchange building, butterflies stirred in my belly."Do you think this is a good idea?" I asked Ivy."Oh no, not at all, but we're here now," she replied with a grin."Do you know anything about this place?" I looked up to the Stock Exchange, a tall brown building with a connecting building to the L station bridging the street."Everest? Dad takes his clients here sometimes," she said, "It's hard to get in without a reservation, and the plates all start about two hundred bucks.""Jesus," I said."A Michelin star lets you charge what you want," she said, "The food is good though, I've been here a couple of times.""Rich girl," I said with a teasing sneer."Ready to see how the other half lives, poverty boy?" she said, offering her arm.I took it, putting my nose in the air like I was the rich snob from an old black and white movie. Never mind the cracks in my shoes. I doubt we'd pass the dress code. Smart casual I was not.Everest it turned out was on the top floor, hence the name. The 40th floor of a 40 floor building, giving it a good look down on the streets of Chicago. I thought it served French food but Ivy insisted it was 'Alsace', whatever the hell an Alsace was. Some part of European that kept switching from one country to another over the years. We entered the stock exchange lobby and it felt like stepping into a palace. Trust the financial elite to make their work place the sort of place a king would feel comfortable in. I was starting to think 200 a plate was small change for whoever worked in a place like this.It made me fidgety, and a little angry. How could a place like this exist within spitting distance of the bombed out wasteland of the south side? With the homeless looking for shelter in gloomy avenues, trying to escape the chill and the predators stalking the night. Opulence and poverty, side by side.But Ivy seemed comfortable in this kind of place, relaxed, even casual.
The question I should be asking was, how do we get into the restaurant? We didn't have a reservation, I didn't have any money, and all it would take was one wrong turn for Ayesha to notice us.Maybe there was a staff entrance. I could sneak in, pretend to be a busboy or something if I could find a uniform. One that fit.Or I could walk through the front door, and trust Ivy knew what she was doing.>trust Ivy to lead the way>try to find a way to sneak in
>>4666977>trust Ivy to lead the wayThis is not our area of expertise
>>4666977>trust IvyIf she has nothing we can try busboy
>>4666977>trust Ivy to lead the way
"Just follow my lead, champ," Ivy said, patting my arm.We stepped into the elevator, doors closing. Even the damn elevator was classy. We stood in silence as it clicked up 40 floors. I didn't know if the feeling in my guts was from the weightless pull of the ascending elevator, the thought of what we were doing, or the grip of Ivy's arm around mine. I don't know what I was thinking, but I tried to think of Kay. Maybe one day I could walk her into a restaurant this nice, and pay for our dinner.The doors slid open and we stepped out to light piano music, the clink of cutlery and soft murmured conversation. Everest was smaller than I expected, square tables set overlooking wall sized windows that looked down on the city below. 'Small' wasn't the right word. 'Exlusive' maybe. There was a small line waiting to be seated, the guy at the front, I guess you'd call him a maitre-d', managing their bookings. He was a neat middle aged Latino man in a black waistcoat with a ready warm smile for the next booking.I was not dressed for the occasion. My denim jacket felt shabby next to the corporate blazers and sports coats of the 'gentlemen' waiting with their ladies. Even my smell was off, everyone was perfumed or cologned, the women floral, the men like wood and alcohol. My hands balled into fists in a protective instinct. I was aware of the scrape of skin missing on my knuckle, the callouses forming over the knuckle bones, the scar on my cheek and the ones hidden under my clothes.I had a collection of battle scars you didn't normally find on a fifteen year old. The men here, fit and trim as they were, were gym fit, built in private for aesthetics and personal pleasure. It made me feel rough, coarse, and unwelcome. Mostly it made me feel awkward. I put my attention on looking for Ayesha. They weren't in line so they must be seated. Not at any of the intimate square tables I could see.I focused so hard on hunting for her I was oblivious to what was around me until a polite cough turned my head."Now that's something," a familiar voice said, "I wouldn't think a place like this would be too interesting to teenagers.""Oh well, you know, why not do something fancy for a change, to be special?" Ivy replied, "There's only so many pizzas a girl can eat."A woman ahead of us had turned with a smile. Madeline Grant wore a tight black dress with a wide golden belt clipped around her waist, a little white purse in her hand. I swallowed. Did she recognize me?
"Well its cute," she said, "but I hope your boy knows how expensive this place can be.""Oh, I'll be paying," Ivy said, "We can't expect a guy to foot every bill, right?"Ms Grant smiled. "Well he's a lucky guy," she said, "If he doesn't mind. You'd be surprised how often men get annoyed when you try to pay for them.""Oh I'm rarely surprised," Ivy said, "You're the lady aren't you? The lawyer who got kidnapped by the mob."Ms Grant's smile slipped. "That's me," she said, "The perils of crime fighting, I'm lucky to be alive.""Well I think you're a real hero," Ivy said, "To go through that then jump straight back in."Ms Grant laughed. "Well, you might but my psychiatrist thinks otherwise. It's nice to meet you though, Miss...?""Ivy," she said, "Ivy Chambers, and this is Eric." She struck me in the ribs with her elbow with a sly wink."Nice to meet you Ms Grant," I mumbled, fiddling with my collar."So you aren't the only one who knows who I am," Ms Grant said to Ivy, "Well I hope you both have a lovely night.""You too," I said. As I said it a scruffy guy in a poorly fitted coat shuffled up, fixing his glasses. He looked as out of place as I did, with a patchy beard as wild as his hair and white like he didn't get a lot of sun."Albert, finally," Ms Grant said. He broke into a smile."Well this ain't a Wrigley Field hot dog stand," he said, then winked at me.They were seated ahead of us, then it was our turn to step forward.The maitres d' was kind enough not to scoff at the sight of me."And you have a reservation?" he offered with a healthy slice of skepticism. Couldn't blame the guy."Oh you know my father has a regular booking, Miguel," she said, "With Chambers and McGregg Finances."He blinked. "Oh forgive me for not recognizing you Miss Ivanna," he said, "You're normally more...""Dressed up?" she said, "Or with my parents?""Again, very sorry," he said, "And your companion?""Oh I picked him up from a rescue shelter. Isn't he just the most adorable thing?" she said. She was enjoying this too much.My smile made him blanche."And we'll charge this visit to your father's account?" he said."Naturely," she replied."Do give my regards to your parents when you see them," he said."Oh you know they adore you Miguel," she said as he let us through.Jesus that was easy. How rich were Ivy's parents that they kept a regular table at a dig like this? A bit more than middle class.
A waiter came to our table to get us seated while I kept an eye out for Ayesha. I caught a glance of a neat afro, a soft giggle that sounded familiar, but we ended up seated by the window, the long drop of the building separated by a plate of clear glass, the twinkling lights of the city beneath us. It could almost be romantic if I wasn't so damn nervous. Also the fact I had a girlfriend. I tried to act casual, which amounted to slouching in the chair."So you got us in, what's the play now?" I asked."Now we order something," she said, picking up the menu, "Then make an excuse to get closer to Ayesha. Without being caught.""Easy said, harder done," I muttered, glancing over my shoulder to where she was seated.She was caught up in conversation with her guy, a light skinned black kid barely over eighteen. Unlike me he was dressed for this kind of place.They were seated beside the bar.Maybe I could slip by and order a drink, listen in. Maybe it was too soon for that. All these moving variables. A busboy at least had an excuse to move around. I felt locked to the table.At least the company was good. Ivy smiled down at the menu, the light catching her hair, lighting it into a golden halo.I turned awkwardly in the seat.>go to the bar to eavesdrop>wait a little, moving too soon could blow the whole game
>>4667142enhance our senses, focus in on their conversation
>>4667148Worth a shot. Let's order first so the waiter doesn't get weirded out by our intense concentration.
>>4667142>try enhancing our sensesBest part is if it makes us hungry we're at a restaurant already
>>4667148>>4667161>>4667163locking in using enhanced senses
inb4 we get sensory overload and freak the fuck out
I had another option. I had my powers. If I focused maybe I could listen in.Before that though, I ordered."It's all in French," I said, scanning the menu."Haute cuisine," Ivy said, "I can order for you if you want.""You speak French?" I said."No, but I've been here enough to know what most of the menu is," she said, flicking back her hair."Sure," I said, handing the menu over to her, "Just nothing too weird.""No escargot to go?" she said, then shook her head, "Sorry, one of Dad's stupid jokes. God I hate it when I say something he'd say."She had a lot of reasons to hate her parents, maybe a few more she hadn't let on.But tonight my focus was Ayesha. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I focused on that internal fire, the one I always imagined resting in my gut. It wasn't a literal fire, I think. I don't know why I imagined it as a fire, or with white, near invisible flames. But I did. I stoked the fire now, focusing on my breathing, my hearing. Trying to...reach out."You okay?" Ivy asked, her voice sounding in the depths of my ear."Quiet," I said, "I'm trying something." If my tone was harsh its only because her voice had been a physical flick on my ear drum, not painful exactly, but distracting."-so we bought the place for half the retail value, boy were they shocked-""-up the rent. Its a good time to invest, the whole near south is being developed. It'll be as nice as Lincoln-""-all over my shoes. Can you believe it? So we had to let her go. I do feel bad though, all the way back to Guetamala-""I hadn't really thought about it," Ayesha's voice, honey in my ears. I focused on it. "I know my parents want me to get into community planning, they're from that generation you know.""I heard the same thing," the warm bassy voice must be Malcolm, "Telling me I could be the next Obama. Didn't really want to know what I wanted to do.""But chemical engineering is so interesting," she said."Thanks, not a lot of people agree," he replied, "I'm hoping to work in renewable energy. It's a growing industry with interesting prospects.""Oh and its important," Ayesha replied, "We need to do everything we can as fast as we can to get emissions down.""Yeah, yeah," he said, "But I don't want to talk about me. Come on, if you could do anything, no limits, what would it be? I don't want to hear what your parents told me you should be doing, tell me those little kid dreams.""Oh well, if we're going pure fantasy I always wanted to be an astronaut," she said, "Um, no that's not 100% true, I wanted to be a space adventurer, Star Fleet command. See the cosmos, discover strange alien creatures, get in just the right level of danger.""That or be a triceratops," she said."Underrated dinosaur," he said.
It was all very nice so far. The jagoff."So maybe I could be a writer," she said, "I'm kind of a daydreamer you know, and I've written a bit of um, fanfiction.""U of C has some great writing programs, your Mom kows some of the African lit professors I think," he said."You think I could get into U of C?" she said."If I can, you can," he said, "Even last year everyone knew you were the smartest girl at school. Not just for your grade too.""Oh please, croissants have less butter than you," she said, "But it is my first choice. Second is probably Harvard.""Boston? That's a big step down from Chicago. I mean amazing university, but the city culture?""You could start a few fights talking like that," she giggled. "So how can you even afford this place? Are your parents rich?""They do okay, but nah, I have a paid internship over with Ixion, you know, the energy company. They take care of me."The blood stopped in my veins, my focus went off. I opened my eyes to see Ivy watching me with concern. I was still sense-sharpened, and her eyes became brilliant blue sapphires drawing me in. I could feel every sharp breath in my chest. I must have had panic on my face, because she put her hand over mine. I'd never felt something so warm and soft. I could feel the pulse of her through the palm of her hand, as if it were melding into mine. The smell of her flooded over my, intoxicating. "Are you okay?" her voice reverberated through my skull, a bell strike.I coughed and pulled my hand away, lurching back in my seat. Wrenched back so much my seat toppled back. I threw my hands out to catch the table, all I managed to do was pull the table cloth down with me as I slammed into the ground cutlery and plates crashing to the ground.It turned a few heads. Ivy flinched, going pink, pulling up the collar of her purple jacket."Hey, everything okay?" Malcolm's voice, the scrape of his chair as he got up to check on us, the other diners content to mutter as the maire d' strode over."We should...we should go," I croaked on my back, senses beginning to dull back to normal.But not before I saw a black inkspot on the night sky, growing larger, moving, hurtling towards us.The window pane exploded in a shower of glass as a figure in black burst through, whipping back his wings, stepping in with silver bright talons hooking the frame for balance."Prepare yourselves, little lambs," he shrieked in a sharp falsetto, "The Black Claw has come!"Oh thank God, I thought as chaos errupted through the restaurant. A super villain.>time to go>time to fight
>>4667296oh no he's cool
>>4667297>>time to fight
>>4667297>get Ivy and Ayesha clear, and also Malcolm I guess. Go back and fight if it seems the Black Claw is going to hurt people, but if it's just a hold up robbery stay gone.
>>4667297>time to goToo much heat stopping another villain in our actual identity
>>4667297>time to goSemper Fi is gonna show up to save the rich people, calling it now
>>4667407>>4667327>>4667313locking that in
actually I ralized I don't have time to write the next update so I'm going to reopen the vote until I'm back tomorrowsorry for the shorter one today
>>4667416Thanks for running!Actually a relief I'm not going to miss anything since I have to sleep now too.
>>4667297>time to go
>>4665921>"It's not a movie," Hunter said, "It's from this old book by a guy called Richard Shaver. He knew the truth and tried to tell everyone. There's beings living beneath the earth, alien beings, and the Explosion was their signal to rise up and prepare the earth for invasion. Dougie Hicks talked about it on the last episode of the Mars Expression."AROOOOOOOGA! HUMMINA HUMMINA HUMMINA BAZOOOOOOOOING!!!!
>>4667653WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!
>>4667297>time to fight
>>4667653>tfw no pointy tits classic scifi gf
>>4667297>"So maybe I could be a writer," she said, "I'm kind of a daydreamer you know, and I've written a bit of um, fanfiction."...time to search for hotspur fanfics. or maybe we're better of not knowing
>get Ivy, Ayesha and any and all civilians clear, and also Malcolm I guess. Go back and fight if it seems the Black Claw is going to hurt people, but if it's just a hold up robbery stay gone.While I understand the thought process of not wanting to fight him I do believe it’s better to get everyone out of harms way, more than one way to be a hero, and is this place really fucking hurting for cash?
leaving wins, with an effort to get ayesha and malcolm out as welllocked in
"Do not attempt to flee your fleecing oh rich little lambs," he crowed, stepping down on the broken glass, cold air rushing in from behind him.I had to give him points for style, he had a hell of a costume. A silver beaked crow mask hid his face, black gloves topped with silver talons, and a cape made of feathers swept behind him, where under the cape was some kind of jetpack The theatrics were spoiled a little when he produced a handgun and a canvas bag.The appearance of a gun cowed the patrons of the restaurant, particularly when he fired a shot toward the door."I insist you keep your seats," he said.I grabbed Ivy's wrist. I looked to her. Shard of glass sparkled in her hair, her eyes wide. 'Let's go,' I urged with a glance. She nodded. We began to crawl from the scene, staying low between the tables."All your riches and your baubles into the bag," he said, advancing on the first table, clicking back the hammer of his gun."Freeze!" a man rose from a nearby table drawing a concealed firearm, a big, moustached guy. The Black Claw paused, then put the canvas bag on the table."Every ring, necklace and dollar bill," he instructed, "While I deal with this interloper."He turned to confront the off-duty cop with a sweep of his cape."Beware before you discharge your pistol, policeman," he said, "For you'll find my powers most paranormal provide impervious protection from its perils!""What?" the cop said, "Fuck you asshole."The gunshot split the air, hitting the Black Claw in the chest. The villain cough, putting a hand over the smoking hole. Then removing it, held the flattened bullet in his palm."As I said," he said, then turned his own gun and shot the cop in the shin. The cop dropped swearing, grabbing his lower leg. "Let that be a lesson to all of you!" he crowed, brandishing the gun in lazy circles.I stopped at the sight of the downed cop, my instincts now to intervene, but Ivy squeezed my hand, turned her head toward the kitchen doors. A back exit.I chewed my bottom lip, flicking a glance to Ayesha's table. Malcolm was still on his feet, putting himself between her and the supervillain. Black Claw was picking his way from table to table, clucking at the guests as they dropped bangles and earrings into the bag. A lack of cash of course, but who carried cash these days?We had to get them out of here too, even if it gave us away. I hissed sharp while the Black Claw was preoccupied, sitting in a crouch behind a chair. A second hiss caught Malcolm's attention. He frowned. I bobbed my head toward the kitchen door. He frowned again so this time I pointed, then pointed at Ayesha behind him, her attention transfixed on the stalking villain weaving his way toward them.He took Ayesha's hands, directing her attention to my hiding place. Whatever Ayesha felt seeing me, I couldn't read it on her expression. Slowly though she slid down from her chair, until she was crouched under the chair.
We began to crawl toward the kitchen on hands and knees, the tables a protective screen, hoping Black Claw didn't see or any other patron raise his attention.Sweat began to crawl down the back of my neck. It wasn't far but it felt forever, and my nerves were tight as I checked to see if Malcolm and Ayesha were following.We were almost there when Malcolm placed his palm on a shard of glass."Ah!"It turned the Black Claws head as Malcolm lifted a bloody hand, brow knitted in pain, blood weeping from the long tooth of glass in the center of his palm."What's that?" he said, beginning toward us.If we ran we could make the kitchen doors, but the others couldn't outrun a bullet.>take a chance, break into a run and hope he wasn't a murderer>distract the Black Claw long enough for the others to flee
>>4668588>distract the Black Claw long enough for the others to fleeMan, I'm just a kid. I don't have shit for you to take. This isn't an ironically stylish denim jacket. Just let me go.
>a crow wants everyone's shiny shitlmaoMaybe if we tell him there's a discarded french fry in the parking lot he'll leave
>>4668588>distract the Black Claw long enough for the others to flee>>4668606my sides, if distracting him goes poorly I'm totally into using this banter as a last ditch effort
>>4668588>distract the Black Claw long enough for the others to fleeFinally our poorness works to our advantage
I got up and ran the other way.A gunshot went off into the roof and I skidded to a stop. It sent the other patrons scurrying under their tables, behind chairs, cowering in terror."What's this?" he said, "Some boy trying to flee? Give up your riches child, you elites have fed enough on the misery of this city.""I don't got money Mr Crow," I said, "But if you're looking for food I saw a french fry in the parking lot.""The Black Claw!" he said, clicking back the hammer of his gun as he stalked toward me, "You'd be careful not to mock me, boy, I am a dangerous man!""Don't you need more than one crow to be a murder?" I said.He didn't like that. The but of his gun whipped around fast. If I'd been trying no way it could have touched me, but the goal was to get Ayesha and Ivy clear. It hit the bridge of my nose with a numbing crunch, cold sweeping through my face. I buckled as blood began to piss out of my nostrils, my eyes squeezed shut on bright silver stars."I didn't want to do that," he said, "Now I'll have you wallet.""Y-yeah," I said, reaching into my jacket pocket. I pulled out my middle finger.Now I think he was going to shoot me, the barrel of his gun dropping between his eyes.Then a dinner plate smashed over the back of his head."Hey loser, over here!" Ivy said, picking up another.Goddamn it Ivy.But as she threw the next like a frisbee I saw Ayesha and Malcolm duck through the kitchen doors.It hit the Black Claw in the face. "Ah, shit," he muttered, theatrical flair forgotten for a second as crockery smashed over his crow mask, "Damn it, its in my eye! Jesus!" He shook his mask.I took the moment to run."No, goddamn kids," the Black Claw said, firing a shot high over my head, "Jesus Christ!" He kept shaking his head, trying to dislodge the ceramic shard caught in his eye. Ivy threw a champagne glass, smashing it on his chest, soaking it with sparkling wine. "Come on, this is a-a fifty dollar shirt!" he whined as the wine soaked into the black fabric.For all his whining it didn't make his gun shots less deadly. I grabbed Ivy by the arm as I sprinted past, pulling her back into the kitchen. I kicked through the swinging doors, she was laughing as she followed me back.Frightened kitchen staff looked up from hiding places. I looked around for Ayesha and Malcolm."This way!" Malcolm called from the back, holding a door open, "Everybody, lets get out of here!"My nose throbbed as I rushed for it, still towing Ivy."That was stupid," I snapped over my shoulder at her.She came up beside me holding my hand, grinning. "Yeah it was," she said.We ran out the service entrance, back to a private elevator. Malcolm was frantically hitting the down button, bleeding hand held to his chest."Hell of a date night, huh?" Ivy said to a confused Ayesha."What are you guys doing here?" Ayesha said as I pushed her through the opening door.
"Saving your ass again," I said, the four of us getting on. But we weren't alone, a group of busboys weren't hanging around any longer than they needed to. Who could blame them? No tip was worth risking a bullet."Did you follow us here?" Ayesha said, voice tight with outrage."Not our biggest problem right now Yesha!" Ivy said as the door closed too slow. I caught a last look of the Black Claw busting out of the kitchen, bird beak mask swivelling left and right before landing on us in the last sliver of the closing door.I couldn't help myself. I waved, grinning as the door clicked shut.It was an awkward forty floors down. Ayesha pulled as far from us as she could, right up next to Malcolm, who put his good arm around her in a protective hug.Ivy pulled out a cigarette. The bus boys turned to look hopeful at the crumpled up packet. Reluctantly she shared them out, and soon us non-smokers were coughing on a thick haze of cigarette smoke."You should quit," I said, sniffing. Every sniff stung, I think my nose was broken. "It'll kill you.""It can get in line," she replied, taking a long drag.I looked over. She still had pebbles of glass in her hair. I reached out and brushed some out, then off from her shoulder. I didn't think about it, I just did it, and the look she gave me made me think I probably shouldn't have. It was a startled, nervous look, that had her looking away. Great, now things were even more awkward."Hey Ivy," Malcolm said.She finished her cigarette, scuffing it off on her jacket. "Yo," she said on the last smoke out of her lips.The door opened on the ground floor."So either you guys are stalking me," Ayesha said, "Or you're cheating on my bestfriend.""You know men and women can be friends, its not always romantic," one of the bus boys offered, "You can go to dinner with a friend.""I'm sorry, who are you?" Ayesha said, her good nature momentarily lost. The bus boy backed away as we got out."So which is it?" Ayesha said, hugging herself as we got out in the ornate Stock Exchange lobby.There were no good options here.> we were on a date (lie)> we were 'stalking' you, I guess (truth)
I've said it before but I need to proof read more before I post.
>>4668696> we were 'stalking' you, I guess (truth)Sorry. Just wanted to make sure Malcolm was a good guy. Seems like he is. Promised your dad I would look out for you.
>>4668696>we were 'stalking' you, I guess (truth)
>>4668696> we were 'stalking' you, I guess (truth)
>>4668741>>4668710>>4668709locking that in
"Now 'stalking' is a strong word," I said as we emptied out into the lobby, "We were just looking out for you.""I can look out for myself," Ayesha said, "I don't need a babysitter, and I don't need a big brother. And I don't need friends who think they know what's best for me." I'd never seen Ayesha so angry before, her teeth clenched in a deep scowl, distrust in her eyes as she looked from me to Ivy."Hey now Yesha, cool down," Malcolm said, "Maybe they stepped over the line, but they had your best interests at heart."It's around then the police turned up, with ambulances with them. One of the busboys went to fill them in on what had gone down, while the rest of us were herded out to make statements and get checked by the paramedics. But we were divided, me and Ivy on one side, Ayesha and Malcolm on the other."Your nose is broken," An Asian paramedic said."Not the first time," I replied, then yelped when he set it. I snorted out a last bit of blood, still a bit dazed."Does it hurt if I do this?" Ivy asked, poking the bridge of my nose. She sat on a gurney, legs swinging under her."Yes," I said, swatting away her finger as she giggled. "Is this really a time to laugh? We ruined Ayesha's night and now she hates us.""Oh you're as melodramatic as the super villain upstairs," she said, "Ayesha will scowl for a while but she'll come around to the right apology. And anyway, it was your idea, not mine.""My idea? You suggested it," I said."Hey, I was just giving you permission to do what you were going to do anyway," she countered.I looked over to Ayesha. She was still glaring at us over her shoulder as Malcolm's hand was bandaged up. More of the patrons were being brought down, rugged up in blankets for the shock. Turned out the Black Claw had split shortly after we did, probably gone to count his baubles in some hidden roost. No doubt the DPA would be on his case soon.But my attention was more on Ayesha and my own sore feelings. I really had done wrong by her. Seeing her so upset, it hurt worse than my nose. It hurt more when she came over, no hint of forgiveness on her face, pulling a blanket provided by the ambulance crew around her shoulders."So," she said, "I've been thinking."We both straightened up."You really crossed a line tonight Eric," she said, "But...this is also the second time you've rescued me from a supervillain.""Hey, hello, I'm here too," Ivy muttered."So we're still friends?" I said.She glared, then drew out her hand from under her blanket, put it on my cheek, feeling around my battered nose. I swallowed. She had soft, gentle fingers.Then she pinched the bridge of my nose. "Fuck!" I howled.
She grinned. "Yep, we're square," she said, backing away. Malcolm came up behind her, putting a protective arm around her shoulder. "So I guess you guys should be introduced. Malcolm, this is Eric, Eric, this is Malcolm.""Hey," he said, putting out his hand, "I think I might owe you one. That was brave what you did back there."I shook his hand, reminding myself he worked for Ixion and couldn't be trusted. "It was stupid," I said, "But in my defence I'm an idiot. Nice to meet you.""I don't remember you from school," he said."I transferred in this year," I said, "I'm originally from Indiana.""Oh yeah, the basketball player right? You getting on with Mr Nfume? He got me into chemistry.""We get on okay," I said.When Ayesha's dad came up the street in a sharp breathed panic, Ivy went off with Ayesha to meet him, leaving us alone.I checked Malcolm again. He was a good looking guy. Former highschool quarterback, smart too if he had a paid internship with a multinational like Ixion. And he'd stepped up for Ayesha inside. Maybe he was a decent guy."So you know, now that we're alone," he said, "You mind if I ask you something?""Go ahead.""Ayesha, she ever have a serious boyfriend before?" he said."Not that I know," I replied."Yeah, its only she turns sixteen in a couple of months and I'm looking forward to it," he said, "You know, fresh. Give her a first time for a long time."My skin prickled cold as he chuckled. "A fine girl like that deserves the best, you know what I'm saying?" he said with a grin, "Don't pretend you haven't checked out her ass. It's a piece of art."The roar of my inner fire dulled the pain in my head, rage tightening my jaw."Yeah, I figured you'd understand, player like you two timing your own girl with fine-ass Ivy. I see the way you two are flirting," he said, "And after sticking our necks out like tonight, we are in, don't you doubt it," he said, smiling up at the top floor of the Stock Exchange. My fist shook in my lap, trying not to nail him in the side of the face. Boy did he have me figured wrong.When Ayesha came back she gave Malcolm a kiss on the cheek, sending him over to talk to her dad."So what do you think?" she said, "I know about the age difference, but he's sweet, a real gentleman.">...he seems cool to me>he's all wrong for you Ayesha
>>4668824I think he's less of a gentleman than you think. Said some less than appropriate shit to me about you just now. But you're right when you say I don't know what's best for you.
>>4668824>he's all wrong for you Ayesha
>>4668824>...he seems cool to me
>>4668824>...he seems cool to meNot that we really know him that well after one evening
>>4668824>>4668865wait fucksomehow I thought kay's dad showed up at the end but that was malcolmstill he was acting pretty decent before, maybe he was just saying that because he thinks we are that type of person?probably stick with calling him cool for now because he clearly knows how to put on an act, Ayesha wouldn't believe us if we told her about that little bit of speechbut keep watching him
>>4668864>>4668843>>4668865locking in he seem cool but I'll include some of this: >>4668836as a write in
"He seem cool," I said. I didn't want to line step again tonight. But when her warm smile grew I felt I had to say something. "But, you know, maybe he's not the saint you think he is. Is all I'm saying. Maybe you're right though, when you said I don't know what's best for you.""It's true but, it still matters to me what you think," she said, "You're my friend, he's my boyfriend, it matters to me that you guys get along."It tickled something in the back of my head. "Would it matter what Rufus thought, or Zeke?" I said."Um," she said, "Maybe but...Rufus and Zeke didn't save my life." She smiled at me, she smiled for me, and I really got a sense of what Malcolm was thinking. She squeezed my fingers and I really, really didn't like Malcolm on a deep level. I must have been staring though because after a minute she coughed and looked away, fussing with her hair. "Anyway, Dad's going to drive me home. I'll see you tomorrow, at the..."The funeral."Yeah," I said, looking to where Ivy was talking to Mr Carver, puffs of mist passing her lips at every word. She laughed at something, her eyes closed. When she opened them she looked back at me, folded her hair back away from her face with a smile.God what was wrong with me? I was looking at Ayesha, I was looking at Ivy, and I had a girlfriend already, a girl who was great, who I cared about. Ayesha and Ivy didn't like me like that, I didn't like them like that. Maybe it was just hormones. Last year I'd spent half my time in the bathroom dealing with them."You need something for the pain?" the paramedic asked. I'd forgotten he was there.Nothing he could give me could deal with what I was feeling right now. Right now I just wanted to go home, crawl into bed, and pretend I was better than I am. Or the opposite maybe."Hey," Ivy said, coming over, "Thanks for taking me out tonight. This was a lot of fun, it really took my mind off things.""Getting attacked by a supervillain is your idea of fun?" I said."It's yours isn't it?" she said. I couldn't fight her there."Are you nervous," I said, "About tomorrow?""Honestly, I kind of just want to get it over with," she said, "Is that bad?"I shrugged. "It would be weirder if you were looking forward to it," I said."You know Mom called me a sociopath once," she said, "I was impressed, I didn't think she knew what a sociopath was. Then she booked me this psychiatrist when I was ten. Put me on a bunch of prescriptions I can't even pronounce. I don't know if they helped, mostly they just left me staring at the wall."She stepped back like she'd said more than she meant to."Anyway, come on," she said, "Unless you want to walk home."
Mr Carver dropped me off shy of midnight. It had been an awkward car ride home, for me at least. Ivy and Ayesha were already chatting as if nothing had gone down between them. Mr Carver at least seemed as uncomfortable as I was, and we shared a an awkward companionship in the front seat.When I got in, Dad was still up."Ayesha's mother called me, are you okay?" he said, checking the bruise on my face."I'm fine," I said."You sure do have a need to jump in front of danger, don't you," he said."I just need sleep Dad, can we talk in the morning?"He took me by the shoulders, put a kiss on my head. "Sure kid, get some rest," he said, pulling me into a firm hug.When I did get to bed though, all I did was lay in the dark thinking. Going over the night. Everything with the Black Claw seemed almost inconsequential. I kept replaying images of Ivy, then Ayesha, then Ivy and Ayesha. Then Kay crept into my thoughts and I thought about the three of them. I rolled over groaning.All of this with a funeral in the morning. What the hell was wrong with me?-I'll be back tomorrow
I'm tired and not sure if I'll be running tomorrowJust having a bad couple of days
>>4669144Don't worry QM. Rest up and take it easy, we'll be here. Stay safe.
>>4669144Hope you feel better
>>4669144Sorry to hear that man, hope you feel better!
>>4668965I think it'll be good for Eric to get a break from all this stuff in Indiana for a bit. He's been through some shit.
"God, can we just get this over with?"The mourners wore black, gathered under a gray morning sky.November snow stood in humble patches across the grass, fallen in the night and already melting. Evergreen trees stood watch upon the cemetary as we gathered around a small casket.It was a humble service attended by strangers. If Ivy had any friends there other than me and Ayesha I didn't recognize them. They were all adults, come for the grieving couple, work friends and important clients come to pay their respects. The exception was Janice, the nurse, standing alone with tears in her eyes.I didn't know what to expect from Ivy's parents. Her dad looked like Stephen King, large glasses dominating a long horse-like face, shorter than her mom, who stood in a fur coat dabbing pink eyes with a tissue as a bearded priest in black droned on in Slavic from an ornate bible. We didn't stand with them, Ivy kept her distance, a sneer of contempt on her lips."Look at them," she said, "Now they cry. Now they care."Her dad removed his glasses to run the sleeve of his coat over his eyes, leaning on his wife for support as if his legs might give out.Ivy's hand tightened in mine, tightened with anger."You're allowed to cry too Ivy," Ayesha said, holding her other hand."What's there left to cry about?" Ivy said, "There's nothing in the box, its just a body. Grace is gone. This is just a show put on so my parents don't feel guilty."I'd say she was being unfair to her parents, even mean, but I knew where her anger was coming from."It must have been hard flying up from Malibu," she said.The Slavic priest droned on. I watched Mr and Mrs Chambers, joined in misery above the casket. There was something a little staged in it. Mrs Chambers stayed beautiful with her perfect trail of tears down her perfect cheeks, Mr Chambers' face hung in anguish but it never betrayed more than a tremble of his lip. Maybe I was being mean. I hadn't cried at my mom's funeral, I'd stood in cold silence while Dad collapsed at the pulpit, failing to finish the eulogy he'd written, having to sit down and let Uncle Anthony finish it for him, his sister's husband.Now speakers shared their memories of Grace, but the girl they talked about was vague and unknown, their recollections general to the point of generic, the image of a perfect little girl, a living saint too good for this world.When it came time for Mr Chambers to speak, all he said was, "Our baby girl," before walking off."They don't know her," Ivy said, "None of them knew her. She wasn't an angel. She used to throw rocks at cars and steal my things. She once tripped our housekeeper and twisted her ankle. She was sorry for it but she did it. She accidentally fed our dog chicken bones and nearly killed him She used to burp in my ear because I thought it was disgusting. She...she..."Pall bearers began to lower the casket into the ground, sliding it down to a sad song playing on a speaker.
"She's scared of the dark," Ivy said, as the casket was lowered down, as handfuls of earth were thrown down upon the casket, "Don't...don't put her in the ground. She'll be scared."I grabbed her as she started forward, pulled her into a hug. She whimpered against me, holding on."Please Eric, she'll be scared," she croaked.I held her tight as the coffin disappeared under the mounds of earth, a shudder rising from her throat. Ayesha wept silently behind her, a hand on her back. My heart squeezed hard and I closed my eyes, teeth grit in a kind of pain. When the time came our hug broke, Ivy sagging, her breathing growing steady against my chest. Her face was haggard and ugly with red splotches, and I pushed her hair back behind her ears. When I did she held my hands to her face, breathing deep.I swallowed trying to force away the emotion building up inside me as I cupped her tear stained cheeks. But it was the comfort she needed, and I wouldn't deny her that.Then her parents at last approached, dry grass crunching with each step, and the moment passed."Mom, Dad," she said, a hand to my shoulder with me as a shield between them.I was given a glance before their attention turned on their surviving daughter."It's time to come home, Ivanna," her mother said. She spoke with a thick accent, the kind belonging to an 80s Russian villain. "We need to be a family now.""Ivy," her dad said, "We haven't been the best parents lately, but you have to understand this hasn't been easy for us. But we...we want to make that up to you. Please, let us do that for you.""Fuck you," Ivy spat. It was about as clear a statement as could be made.Her mother scoffed while her dad's eyes widened. He checked his glasses. "Now young lady there's no call for a potty mouth," he snapped, then wilted up in himself, "But...I understand, you're upset." Then he looked to me, offering a smile. "Maybe you can talk to her," he said, "Or you." He looked to Ayesha. "You're her friends, you can convince her its for the best. A family should be together at a time like this.""Do you even know their names?" Ivy said. Her dad's eye twitched.>Maybe he's right, Ivy, you should be with family>I have to agree with Ivy, fuck you sir
>>4674412>"Everyone handles grief in their own way, Mr. Chambers. Ivy knows what's best for herself."
>>4674412If you're gonna actually be parents to Ivy then she should be with you now. But if you're just gonna leave her alone again then what's the point
>>4674443>>4674503locking that in
"Everyone handles grief in their own way Mr Chambers, Ivy knows what's best for herself," I said."My daughter is a fifteen year old girl," he said, "She hardly knows what's in her best interests.""I'll be sixteen in February," she said, "And when I am I'm going to get emancipated, then I'll never have to see either of you ever again.""Oh please darling, don't speak such nonsense, you can't survive without your father's money," her mother said.Ivy bristled. "I'm not like you Mom, I don't need a pimp," she said.Mrs Chambers turned pale. Mr Chambers caught her hand before she could slap her daughter. Ivy glared, sticking her chin out, inviting it.A cruel rage took hold of Mrs Chambers."You ungrateful little slut," Mrs Chambers said, "After everything your father has done for you, kept you from being expelled, kept you out of prison, all because you spread your legs for a disgusting little music teacher, you have the gall, the gall.""Easy Olga, easy," Mr Chambers said with an awkward smile. He looked over his shoulder at his daughter. "You're being unfair to your mother, Ivanna, saying such nasty things. Now apologize."I expected rage, I expected fury, I expected Ivy to go on the attack. Instead the sound that came from Ivy, the look on her face, all drained of color and life, was haunted as she stared in horror at her parents."He raped me," her voice was glass breaking."Oh please," her mother sneered, "Spare us this play-acting. You knew what you were doing."Ivy looked to me, to Ayesha, then just looked lost, staggered. It was a miracle she kept her feet.Dark thunder boomed in my mind. They were worse than I'd imagined."You're her mother," Ayesha's looked in horror at Ivy's parents. I stood in quiet rage. "It should have been you," Mrs Chambers said, "Not my little Grace. It should have been you, you venomous, hateful little girl.""Olga, please!" Mr Chambers said, angrily cleaning his glasses, "This is isn't...isn't how I wanted this to go." He looked away with a clenched jaw. "Look, come home if you want, but when you do it better be with an apology. Your mother is grieving, she doesn't need your slander on top of it. She was our daughter for Christ's sake."Ivy didn't have words. I don't think anyone did, not for something like that.
Maybe Mr Chambers felt some shame. At least he couldn't look Ivy in the eye. At least they left without further comment. I watched the vile couple leave, at last able to unclench my fists.When I looked back to Ivy I saw her robbed of all the self-possessed confidence I'd come to know her by. Instead there was a pale, terrified little girl struggling to hold back tears. "I'm sorry," she said. I don't know to who."Please don't say that," Ayesha said, hugging her from behind. Ivy tried to pull away. Ayesha held on. "You don't ever have to be sorry."If there was one thing I knew Ivy hated it was pity, but if there was ever one thing she needed it was comfort. The conflict played out across her face. Shame, guilt, yearning.>pull Ayesha away from Ivy, spare her the pity>help comfort Ivy, she needs it
>>4674594>help comfort Ivy, she needs it
>>4674594>help comfort Ivy, she needs itdang those are bad parentsmaybe we can link them to hotspur and get them killed by Navaja before they cut ivy out of the inheritance.
The fact that Kay was about to talk about how Ivy lost her virginity when it turns out she got raped really isn't okay
>>4674606>>4674620>>4674621>>4674624locking that in
I put my arms around both girls and that was it, it was too much for Ivy. Her struggle gave out, and her tears poured silent and free as she collapsed between us, bringing us down to her knees to hold her on the cold, wet ground. If it drew any attention it was discomfort from the guests and a sympathetic eye from the Orthodox priest, but we didn't pay them any attention.Our focus was on Ivy, offering her silent warmth, holding her between us. Ayesha kissed her tear stained cheek, muttering comforting sounds in her ear, I stroked back her thick blonde hair. Love, how could Ivy have ever known love with parents like that? Was that what the teacher had offered her, to draw her into his bed? Is that what she was looking for in the weekend parties, losing herself in alcohol and the attention of older boys? Is that what she'd tried to get from Kay, but only found a broken friendship?And now she'd lost her little sister, the only true love in her life.My own tears fell in her hair. My dad wasn't always there but I never doubted he loved me. My mom. Losing her had been losing half the love of the world, and why I'd never been able to cry. How could I mourn something where grief seemed too small a word for what was taken? But I could mourn now with someone who knew, knew what it was like to chase distractions to avoid the missing part of myself."I love you Ivy," Ayesha said. Ivy turned from my chest, staring through tears. Her words wouldn't come to her, so instead she found Ayesha's lips, finding it with a kiss, then turning, found my own too. It wasn't romantic or sexual, it wasn't meant like that as her lips closed over mine, my own soft kiss returning. But how could I explain it? It was a love kiss, full of love's grief and comfort.And it disgusted me how much it warmed me, how it drove me to give a second kiss, stronger and more certain, that she was eager to take. Then from me turn to share with Ayesha, a long kiss, a strange bond of love between us.I love her. I couldn't lie to myself now. I loved Kay too. What kind of man am I? I should have been embarrassed or ashamed, but I wasn't.Ivy swallowed back something hard, then rattled out a weak laugh."God I'm pathetic," she said, sounding more like herself, rubbing at her eyes as we gave her more space. Self-concious, uncertain. "I'm sorry, really. About...that.""I'm not," I said, taking her by a hand."I'm not either," Ayesha said, holding the other.A smile dawned on Ivy's drained face."Thank you," she said, "Both of you."
Ayesha smiled, holding her around the shoulder. "Come on," she said, "Let's get you home."We walked her through the cemetary, where the parents, Ayesha's parents and my dad that is, stood talking."So you're going to Indiana," Ivy said, "When will you be back?""Next Sunday," I said, "It's only for Thanksgiving. If you need me...""I know," she said, looking away, brushing back her hair."I'll take care of her," Ayesha said, hugging Ivy, "For both of us.""Please, I'm not some weak little girl," Ivy said, but she didn't push Ayesha away, "I'll be fine. You just try to enjoy yourself, Eric, if that's even possible in Indiana.""I'll try to manage," I said, "Again, if you need me...for anything...""If I need you," Ivy said, "I'm sure you'll come running.""And if I don't, you can break my little finger," I said."If thou wilt not tell me all things true," she replied."But if you do need me, where you go, there shall I go too," I said."That's not the line," she said.I shrugged. "Butchered to fit, but you know I keep my word," I said.Something sparked in Ayesha's eyes. Suspicion, and for a second I felt uncertain. But all Ayesha did was kiss my cheek. "See you when you get home," she said.Home. Chicago really was my home now. When I got into the car, as we started our drive to Indiana, it felt like leaving home.This is where I belonged, I decided. This was where I was from. As we left the cemetary I knew, this was my home.Goodbye, Chicago. I'll be home soon.
taking a break
Well that was unexpected
I'll pick up the quest tomorrow but maybe I could do a QnA in the mean time? If anyone has questions and so long as they aren't spoilers I'd be happy to answer them.
>>4674789How are you Bullpen? Is everything ok on your end?Where did you learn to write so well?Is there a harem ending?Who's your favorite girl (and why is it Ivy? jk)
>>4674798>How are you Bullpen? Is everything ok on your end?Fine I guess. My dog is sick but he's an old boy so its part of having an elderly dog>Where did you learn to write so well?I don't think I do. I get frustrated with my own writing all the time, particularly this quest. I bungled a couple of things, a couple of intros and scenariosthey all read cooler in my head>Is there a harem ending?There are many possible endings, some involving characters who haven't been introduced yet, some with Eric alone. It's all down to what you guys do or don't do.>Who's your favorite girlI don't want to prejudice anyone for or against a character but I do have a personal 'best girl'. I like all my characters though, even the ones who aren't meant to be likeable.
>>4674817Thank you for answering my questions! Some follow-upHow far have you planned out the story? Sequel lined up or moving on to another?
>>4674829>How far have you planned out the story?pretty far, but nothing like a sequel
>>4674817I don't think anything ever lives up to how cool it sounds in your head.What inspired you to run this quest?Why the name Hotspur?What is Shark's favorite movie? Was he always nuts or did that just happen after becoming part shark?
>>4674853>What inspired you to run this quest?It was originally going to be a Spider-Man quest but then I didn't want to deal with Marvel canon or complaining if I changed the canon. It's entirely its own thing. I like superheroes but I don't like how they're done 90% of the time.>Why the name Hotspur?Sounded cool>What is Shark's favorite movie? Was he always nuts or did that just happen after becoming part shark?High and Low or Ikiru. The second question is a spoiler.
>>4674868How different or similar is Eric to the character you had in mind or expected before writing the quest?
>>4674868Thanks for answering, sorry about that one question. Wasn't sure if it was a power thing or just because he in particular had his physical form changed so drastically.What falls within the 10% of the time you like of superheroes, because I'm the same way.
>>4674870I didn't expect you guys to go the sports jock route so he's a much bigger chad than what I originally had in mind.
>>4674875It seems counter-intuitive but I feel too much superhero stuff gets too caught up in the superheroesThey stop having normal friends and a supporting cast and they just end up having superheroes as friends, rivals and lovers. I think that's a bad thing. I like it when the superhero has a relatively 'normal' love interest and friend group. It's why I think super identities are important, not just to protect people, but to keep from turning the superhero into a supercelebrity just hanging out with other supercelebrities. I don't mind some characters having public identities, like Captain America or Iron Man, but Spider-Man and Daredevil should always be anonymous.Daredevil and Spider-Man are easily two of my favorite superheroes by the way, though I do have a real love of classic X-Men, which might be obvious from the para-freak stuff in the quest. When X-Men is good there's nothing better in cape books, but when its bad there's nothing worse.
>>4674893also the reason I love classic X-Men is they still had 'normal' friends like Stevie Hunter, Moira McTaggart, Lee Forrester, Peter Corbeau, a bunch of others. For all it could get weird and cosmic, they had relatively 'normal' connections to draw them back to reality.
>>4674893I agree. Some of the best drama comes from balance and conflict between the cape identity and the normal one. When characters lose that it gets a lot harder to relate to them, and the writing has to be really good to make it possible.Salamander has a public identity. How many friends does she have? Does she still train in martial arts? Is there anyone willing to train with her? Does she ever accidently roast them with her powers in the heat of battle?
>>4674932Salamander grew up in a mob family, her people being mobbed up since the days of Al Capone. She was bounced on the boss' knee as a baby. She always ran with the hoodlum boys when she was a kid, all are either dead now or became made guys. As far back as she could remember she always wanted to be a gangster, now her powers let her do that with less stigma. So everyone she knows is either part of the life or connected to it.She trains MMA, a lot of professional fighters think its exciting to hang out with a genuine super villain.
ok, see you guys tomorrow
Alright I fucking love how you handled the last few updates and I also like that the ending I want isn’t too far out of reach, honestly if possible having the Trinity of Ayesha, Kay and Ivy would be the best outcome for me. Also we should have all three of them sit down and talk things out when we get back cause Ivy seems in a vulnerable place, Ayesha is definitely gonna feel confused and at least a bit guilty, and I think Kay needs to be told the truth about what Ivy’s been going through. I wanna know about the story behind what happened to Ivy and see if Kay actually knows what happened or if there was a story that was spread as a rumor, Ayesha certainly didn’t seem to know about it, and it’d be a good way to get to the bottom of everything. So yeah lots to do.Oh yeah Bullpen how have some of the write ins we’ve been making been as choices, have we been doing well in terms of relationships with our friends?
>>4675051For me having a harem doesn't really line up with the tone of the quest or the setting. This isn't anime. That three way kiss really weirded me out personally. Full disclosure though, I think Ivy is best and only girl for Eric.
>>4675120You’re free to your opinion and it doesn’t have to happen but personally I could see it and if Bullpen allows it then it’s cool, also it wouldn’t really be a harem. It’d be more like a relationship between multiple people which does exist.
It was a four hour drive to Indianapolis, mostly because Dad didn't want to go through Gary. I didn't blame him, but it meant once we left the city limits it became a game of cornfields and cows. So far the cornfields were winning.We were driving down the highway in Mrs Valdez's car. She'd loaned it to Dad for the week. It had been awfully kind of her, and Dad said we'd have to make it up to her somehow."In other news, a para-freak attack has left a police officer critically injured. Calling himself 'the Black Claw' the para-freak-" Dad shut the radio off, leaving us to drive in silence. "Horses," Dad muttered as we passed a paddock."Cows," I said on my side.The country was flat and barren at the start of what was promising to be a cold winter."Hey Dad," I said, an uncomfortable question churning in my gut."Yeah kid?""Do you...is it possible to...like more than one person?""Sure," he said, "I got lots of friends.""No I mean...like-like," I said, wilting at the question, feeling stupid for saying it."It's called bigamy son and it's illegal," he replied, his attention fixed on the road."Nah," I said, "And I don't mean like marriage I mean...I mean here." I touched my chest.Dad frowned at the road. "I guess," he said, "But its not really fair, is it? If you like a girl, or two girls, its not going to be fair to either of them if you have to split your, uh, 'like' between them when they've only got their eyes for you.""I guess," I said.I watched the countryside whip by."Muslim guys keep more than one wife, over in the Middle East anyway," he said, "And the ancient Hebrews could take multiple wives. Then there's the Mormons. So I guess in some cultures its okay.""But not, you know, our culture," he added, "Why, do you 'like' like a couple of girls at school?""Maybe," I muttered.He smiled. "Don't stress yourself kid, it's normal. You're young, and if you're anything like me at your age you're probably ready to explode from hormones running wild. Puberty is a hell of a time."Harder when you have super powers and a secret identity, I thought. But Dad didn't need to know about that.My grandparents didn't live exactly in Indianapolis, but trust anyone outside Indiana knowing where Carmel was. Carmel is a suburb north of Indianapolis, almost but not quite part of the bigger city itself. It was a quiet little city, barely more than a hundred thousand people there. Indianapolis didn't even scrape a million. Before moving to Chicago I'd thought Indianapolis was a big place. Now as we drove through the city heart I saw how small it was next to the concrete expanse of my new hometown."So why didn't you ask Ms Flores to come?" I asked, innocently enough.Dad frowned. "I don't think your grandparents would approve," he said."Because she's younger than you?" I said.
"That too," he replied, "And anyway, we've only just started seeing each other, and she's got her own family thing going on. Her brother is coming down from Canada.""But you want her to be here, don't you," I said.He sighed. "Yeah, a little bit," he said, "You're a perceptive kid, you know that?"Had to keep my eyes open to keep from catching a bullet. But instead of saying that I just smiled."She's been good for you Dad, I approve," I said.He smiled. "Good, really, that's good."We pulled into a driveway with the flag flapping out the front on a flag pole. An SUV had beaten us there, taking up most of the drive.Dad came to a stop behind it."Here we are," he said, rubbing his eyes.The front door banged open and a couple of my cousins came running out. Not to greet us, the little one, Aaron, was running from the oldest boy TJ, laughing as TJ spat after him."Get back here you little turd!" TJ yelled. TJ was seventeen, Aaron was nine. Behind them in the doorway was their sister Esther. She gave us a little wave as we got out. Esther was adopted and the same age as TJ, which is why she was Korean and everyone else wasn't. Uncle Tony and Aunt Liz had three other kids hiding somewhere."Baby brother!" Auntie Liz said coming out from the garage as we climbed out of the car. Aunt Liz was a porky woman in flannel, about as tall as a tree stump. Her husband Tony followed her down the drive. Tony had been in the Marines but that was a long time ago, as the beer gut would tell anyone. But he was still a big man, bigger than Dad, with muscle hidden under the gut."How are you Joe?" Tony said as Dad wrapped his older sister in a hug."Doing fine," he said, "How are you guys?""Oh we're blessed, really blessed," Auntie Liz said, "Didn't you hear? Esther is going for a Juliard scholarship, TJ made captain of the football team, and oh, don't you know but Tony got a promotion at work.""Corner office," Tony said, "Boy I tell you, those fellers at Geico sure take good care of me.""That's great," Dad said, "Congratulations all around.""Hey, bucko," Uncle Tony said, squeezing my cheek, "How'd you get this dirt on your face?" he thumbed my scar, from when Hector had stabbed me in the face.>cut myself shaving>I got stabbed by a junkie
>>4676158>cut myself shaving
just have to handle somethingI'll be back in about an hour
>>4676158>I got stabbed by a junkieThis was before we got powers, right? People know about this one.
>>4676387It was right before the ExplosionI'm almost back, sorry about this just need to wrap something up
>>4676158>>I got stabbed by a junkie
sorry this thing has taken up all my time. I'll be back tomorrowvote stays open until I doI'm really sorry about this
>>4676596No problem OPJust hope it's only tedious and not serious.
>>4676158>cut myself shavingthey don't need to know what kind of neighborhood we live in
>>4676158>cut myself shaving>>4676596Don't worry, take care of yourself.
>>4668965I want to say that this is just puberty kicking in, but maybe it's our power messing with us It hasn't been long since the incident so I doubt any superbabies are on the way but it's possible that this "ability" is capable of being passed on to offspring, and it's also possible that it WANTS to be passed on to offspring.Think about it, this incident might not just be a one time period of history where people with powers exist, but rather the beginning of an Era for the parahuman. I know it's kinda the plot of a cheap hentai but it's atleast supported by the fact that the "ability" seems to have a mind of its own (nat 100) and that it also somewhat shifted our psychological profile around (our unbelievable heroism for a teenage shit)
>>4676158>cut myself shaving Don't want to worry them with Chicago's bullshit Also continuing on with my theory, I am almost convinced that our power is somehow messing with our pheromones or subtly influencing the girls around us to be attracted to us, how else would a previously kissless hugless virgin from a little hicktown suddenly have the three biggest babes of the freshman year all over him? (Freshman because there's definitely senior girls hotter than them since they aren't the talk of the entire school, just their year)
>>4677643I honestly don’t believe Bullpen would shoehorn in a gimmick like that, he said that he wanted to make a quest that has to do with both sides of the coin meaning that there’s gonna be drama from relationships as well. Plus it really helps that Eric is a nice guy who happens to also be helpful and caring of their problems and a basketball star without any real ego or arrogance. Quality girls reply to quality and Eric hits a lot of boxes.
"Cut myself shaving," I said."Shave? Shave what, this little bit of peach fuzz?" he said, rubbing the stray whisker on my cheek. It was weird being treated like a little kid. Even if it wasn't for the every thing else in my life, I'm fifteen not twelve. But I just forced a smile. Uncle Tony didn't mean nothing by it."Now here's a handsome young man!" Auntie Liz said, taking me by the shoulders when her husband was done with me. I was taller than her now, by a fair bit. "Just like your father at your age, I bet you're a lady killer.""Hey, I wasn't a lady killer," Dad said, "I didn't even go with a girl until college.""That's because you were just too stupid to notice the girls throwing themselves at you," she said, "But you know what I say, you got the beauty, I got the brains."Dad blushed."Well if you're lucky you got your Mom's smarts," she said, "Now she was a clever lady. Did she ever finish her PhD?""She was working on it, before she got sick," Dad said."That's a shame. I always thought the two of you worked because you both had your head in the clouds, difference was she understood what she was looking at.""I heard you're a big basketball star, your dad sent me some video clips of you playing," Auntie Liz said, "So what are you going to do, go play for the Bulls? Why not come home, get drafted into the Pacers.""They still let white kids play basketball?" Uncle Tony joked, "And the Bulls are a dying franchise anyway.""Give the boy some air!" an old, cracked voice called from the back of the garage.When I'd been small I'd thought he was a big old grizzly bear, but the years had put more arctic in his hair, his beard snowy white and time had made him smaller as I got taller. His smile was still full of bright false teeth though, and age hadn't taken the devil's wink out of his eye. I hadn't seen him since the funeral."Grandpa!" I couldn't help myself, I ran right into his hug."There's my little bear," he said, "Ah but I can't pick you up anymore, not-so-little bear. What have you been feeding this kid?"I grinned at Grandpa as he pushed me back. "Heard you've been boxing too. I used to box a little in the Navy," he said, "It's a fine sport, character building, but don't think it'll get you anywhere. You keep those brains between your ears, young man.""Coach says boxing's all about not getting hit in the face," I said."Smart coach, better than mine," he said with a chuckle, "Now have you been staying out of trouble?""Yeah," I said.He put on a terrible scowl. "Well that's no good, being young is all about getting into trouble!" he clapped my back, then limped over to Dad, pulled him into a hug. "How are you son?" he said, voice warm with sympathy."Surviving," he managed."We'll talk later, you and me," Grandpa said, "I've got a twelve year old malt to split with you.""Sure Dad," he said, "Is Mom around?"
"In the kitchen, keeping busy," he said, "Now Tony, where are the rest of my grandkids?""They're around," Tony said, looking for his wild brood."You two have so many kids I'd swear you were Mexicans," Grandpa chuckled."We're just blessed is all," Auntie Liz said."Well whistle them up when you can, dinner's just about ready," he said, limping back inside.Uncle Tony went and did what he was told, literally whistling for his kids, calling them out like they were hogs."TJ! Esther! Molly! Jude! Kevin! Aaron!"It brought them out, some from inside, some from around the backyard.They assembled by age. TJ, tall and fit, stood next to Esther, who stood just under his shoulders. Then the twins Molly and Jude, who were my age, with twelve year old Kevin and Aaron the last. They struggled to keep a coherent line. Kevin didn't look up from the book he was reading, one of Grandpa's paperbacks. Aaron stuck his tongue out at TJ, who tried to swat at him over the heads of his siblings but clipped Kevin instead.Like everyone else I'd seen them last at the funeral, but we hadn't been close knit in a while. They were practically strangers now, changed even since I'd last seen them. When I'd been really small I'd seen more of them, but after I'd turned ten or so we'd started to drift apart, meeting up only for things like this, Thanksgiving or Christmas, sometimes Easter.I don't really know why but I'd always had the feeling Mom didn't like Uncle Tony.Looking at them now after and everything I' been through, they really did look like strangers."Say hello to your cousin," Uncle Tony ordered. It was a funny way to make me feel welcome."Hi, city boy," TJ said. Esther waved."Now go wash up for dinner," Uncle Tony snapped. I guess he had to be half a drill sergeant with so many kids."You'll be bunking with Jude and Kevin," Dad said, handing out my bag, "Try to get along with your cousins.""Yes sir," I said, slinging the bag over my shoulder.The three of us were packed into a guest bedroom on the ground floor. By guest bedroom I meant Grandpa's study with a couple of old military bunks unfolded, bags stowed at their feet. Two walls of the room were covered in books, military fiction, fantasy novels, and military history from the Civil War up to WW2. An old computer sat on his desk, dusty and untouched.Kevin lay on his bunk reading.Maybe I should try to connect with my family again. It was Thanksgiving after all.>spend time with my cousins>spend time with the adults>maybe just keep to myself
>>4677947>spend time with my cousins
>spend time with my cousins
>>4677947>spend time with my cousins.brag about our superthot girlfriend who's totally real and not a tall tale
"What are you reading?" I asked Kevin.He looked up from the pages, then looked back down."A book," he said.Sarcastic little asshole. "Yeah, what book?" I said.He tapped the cover as he kept reading. 'Sharpe's Eagle'. Looked Napoleonic. One of Grandpa's collection, he liked those sorts of books."This room stinks of nerd," TJ said, shoving me from behind. I turned around to see him dominating the doorway. "I heard you learned to bounce a ball up and down. Bet it took you weeks to figure out," he said."Yeah? I heard they made you captain of the football team. That's pretty progressive, I didn't know your school had a team for the mentally disabled.""That's funny, it'll be funnier when you have a black eye," he raised his fist expecting me to flinch like I used to, like most people did. Maybe he saw something in the back of my eyes but it had him put the fist down, a mix of awkwardness and confusion written over his face."Leave him alone TJ," Esther said, "Would it kill you to be less of a stereotype?""Says you Miss Clarinet," he said, "'Asian girl plays classical music' isn't exactly breaking new ground.""How have you been Eric?" she said, ignoring her brother.I shrugged. "Fine," I said, "Congrats on the scholarship. Juliard? That's pretty cool.""Well I don't have the scholarship yet," she said, "But working with Mr Lang has really upped my chances."TJ rolled his eyes. "Mr Lang this, Mr Lang that. You'd think he walked on water. Dude, you're the one playing the music. He's just a glorified tutor.""Would you guys shut up, I'm trying to read," Kevin snapped, "I've read the same line three times.""Whatever," TJ said, but we hustled out, giving Kevin his privacy.The living room was a quaint space with throw rungs over the couch and a laz-e-boy half extended with Molly playing her DS in it. Jude was somewhere else, probably still getting cleaned up for dinner. Esther stoked the fireplace to a low crackle, the night darkening outside, the heat of the fire keeping out the chill."Chicago," TJ said, "Big city living, bet it feels like a step down coming back here."I shrugged."Must be good to get out of there though," Esther said, "It's so crazy there! All the gang violence, and now these para-freaks? The world's turning into a fantasy book.""Monsters and goblins," TJ said, "Someone should do something about them. Round them up, lock 'em up. You know, something.""You sound like Mom and Dad," Esther said."Yeah well, there's nothing wrong with defending ourselves," he said, "And we shouldn't wait until they start leaving Chicago. Those things are dangerous."
"Every guy at school is talking about picking up a rifle, getting in a truck and going upstate and 'sort it out'," Esther said, "But y'all are all talk. You won't do anything.""I'm more worried about the rednecks with the rifles," Jude said, coming down the stairs while drying his hands, "There's no para-whatevers down here, but there's plenty of gunned up junkies looking for oxy. Hey Eric, wassup?""Hey Jude." If I was closest to any of my cousins it was Jude, both of us being boys the same age, both of us not quite fitting in with the kind of typical Indiana set."It's interesting times though," Jude said, "No doubt about that. You ever meet a para-freak?""Yeah Eric, you bump into one up there?" TJ asked.>nothing worth mentioning>I've met a couple
>>4678082>I've met a coupleCuz ain't really a threat or anything, telling em a bit about our fucked up life while keeping all the important bits secret shouldn't do any harm
>>4678082>I've met a couplebeat the shit out of an invisible guy once, it's a long story
>>4678082>I've met a couple
Every time I look in the mirror, I thought."I've met a few," I said, "There was this kid at school who could turn invisible. Used it to stalk a friend of mine, Ayesha. But Hotspur got him so, nothing to worry about there.""Hotspur, the superhero?" Jude said, "Oh he is just the finest thing."Something in the way he said it made my head turn, the others did to."I mean he's cool right?" Jude said, wilting."Yeah, he's cool," TJ said, frowning, "Not as cool as Semper Fi though. You ever meet Semper Fi?"I had, but not as 'me'. "Nah," I said."I'd give my left nut to talk to her," Jude said, maybe a little too strongly."I met a kid who could teleport though, he was cool," I said, "Thunderchild. We played against each other.""Didn't he rob a bank?" Esther said, "All these guys end up being criminals. Is that what guys do with a bit of power? Just, whatever they feel like.""Hotspur isn't a criminal," I pointed out. I also wasn't so sure Thunderchild robbed anyone. He didn't seem the type, it could have been a DPA stitch up. I wasn't going to voice that though."Technically he is," Esther said, "At least Semper Fi is deputized by the state.""Hotspur does work with law enforcement though," I said, "Sometimes.""I watched a video of him beating down a bunch of cops just doing their job," TJ said, "World Star you know. You can't trust him, man, Blue Lives Matter too."My jaw clenched as anger flashed up in me. I didn't notice the change but I was standing, starting to square off with TJ. If he was going to talk about shit he'd only half heard..."Let's not get into politics," Jude said, wedging himself between us. "It's pretty cool though," Jude said, "Getting to run around a city with real superheroes.""Sounds more scary than cool," Esther said.I shrugged. "Mostly it's whatever," I said, "You get used to it.""Listen to this fancy cityslicker," TJ teased.Before I could fire back Grandma called "Dinner's ready!" assembling us in the dining room.Grandma was about what you'd want out of a Grandma, with wolly thick hair white as cotton, a wrinkled up face with an easy warm smile. She'd set out a spread, roast beef, mashed potatos, peas and gravy, with a couple of pies waiting for dessert. We took our seats around the table. If this was a foretaste to Thanksgiving dinner, even I might get fat by the time we got back to Chicago.I sat between Esther and Jude. Both were full of questions about the big city as I speared a chunk of beef with my fork.It was Dad however who was getting the real questions. "So I heard you've been seeing somebody," Grandma said, "It's good you aren't closing yourself up in the world, but isn't it a bit soon?"Dad curled his shoulders self-conciously."Where'd you hear that?" he said.
"Oh I ran into Sylvia the other day, says she has you as a friend on Facebook. You remember Sylvia, the mousy girl you went to school with? My she was in love with you. Divorced now. She was asking if you'd be in for Thanksgiving and nentioned seeing you had photos online of a girl. Asked if you'd be bringing her home too.""I barely use the damn facebook," he muttered over his peas, "There's enough gossip in the real world.""I hear you brother," Uncle Tony said, "There's enough bullshit in the fake news as it is.""So what's her name, what does she do?" Grandma asked, sweet as pie.Dad coughed into his fist. "She's a teacher," he said."Oh honey this is like pulling hen's teeth," Grandma said, "We need a bit more than that.""Her name's Carmen," he said, "Carmen Flores.""Oh," Grandma lowered her fork.Molly took out her phone and tapped away. "Is this her?" she said, holding up a facebook search result. There were a few 'Carmen Flores' there."It's not the one with the harelip is it?" Uncle Tony joked, looking to Auntie Liz.Molly pressed on a profile and sure enough, it was a selfie of Ms Flores and Dad, together at the rink side of a hockey game, smiling into the camera.Dad lowered his head."She's a bit...young," Auntie Liz offered with a blank look. Grandpa shovelled food into his mouth, chewing in silence, staring at nothing."She's a bit Mexican, you mean," Uncle Tony joked, elbowing his wife, "But good for you Joe, she's a real babe. I say have your fun where you want. No harm done."Dad looked to me, then sighed. "I was going to ask her to move in," he said, "Next year, if she wanted."Grandma dropped her folk. Everything got a lot more uncomfortable."This is ridiculous," Esther muttered, but like the rest of the kids they kept their eyes down.Now I think I know why Mom had kept some distance from Dad's family."Do you have a problem with it?" Grandpa said, straight at his wife."Oh let's not get into it," she said."No, let's talk about it Nora, do you have a problem with it?"Grandma's hands knotted in her lap. "It's just...we don't share the same culture, you know that. They barely speak English, and their neighborhoods are so dirty, so dangerous.""Look at Indy these days," Uncle Tony said."She teaches Shakespeare," Dad muttered.Grandpa pointed his steak knife at his wife. "Angel Reyes," he said, "Angel Reyes took a bullet on the Mekong Deltameant for me, had his guts blown out all over the top deck. Angel Reyes, Nora. I told you about him. And Charlie Longham, Roberto Estevez, all the rest. I've told you.""Let's not get into this now for Pete's sake," she said.
"I thought you were coming around when we hired Juanita to clean the house," he said, "You both got on friendly like.""With respect Grandpa Miller," Uncle Tony said, "But this isn't about you or your wife, and it doesn't warrant your tone."Grandpa stabbed his knife into his cut of beef, a dark look like I'd never seen on his face. "Don't you tell me how to talk to my wife Captain Stateside," he said."Easy everyone, easy," Auntie Liz said, coming in as peacemaker, "It's not even Thanksgiving yet. Can we save the brawl until after we cook the turkey?"Grandpa settled in his chair, bristling. But slowly he settled, and turned a smile to his daughter. "You're right," he said, "Let's try to respect household traditions."It got a laugh from everyone at least, even a nervous chuckle from Grandma.Grandpa started salting his beef. "You know I never mention this but, I dated a black girl before I met your mother," he said, "Your pop-pop called me a negro lover. Except he didn't say 'negro'.""Ulysses, please!" Grandma said, too shocked to eat. Grandpa caught me looking and winked.It was an uncomfortable dinner and dessert didn't make it much better. All of us kids were happy when it was over and could go our own way.When we turned in for the night I lay in the dark listening to Kevin snoring."Hey Eric," Jude whispered. I turned my head. "Do you think I could come live with you guys one day?" he said, "In Chicago?"I frowned, hearing the nerves in his voice. "Why? What's wrong with Indiana?" I said."Only I hear in Chicago, people are a lot more...tolerant," he said."Eric," he said. I could hear the pulse in his voice, an edge of fear. "I-I'm..."But whatever he was going to say he swallowed up."Goodnight Eric," he said.I could guess what he was going to say. I didn't imagine it would be easy for him to say it."Goodnight Jude," I said.He rolled over and fell asleep. But I was still awake, listening to the creak of the house, and all its occupants snoring.
Dear god these people are literally All the southern stereotypes.
Snow had fallen overnight. Not enough to blanket the whole street but there was enough fresh powder for a snowball fight. The cousins raced out in their pyjamas, flinging smnow back and forth. Whatever 'unpleasantness' from last night was left last night. Old folks just being old, I figured. Esther laughed as white snow burst over her hair, then nailed TJ in the chest.I jumped when little Aaron dumped a fistful down the back of my pants."Jesus," I said, "You really are a little turd."He laughed and ran away, hiding behind grandma's hedges. The only one not joining in was Kevin, who watched from the front porch.Dad came out with a hot cup of coffee, steam rising over a tired face. Auntie Liz came out next, put an arm around his side and her head on his shoulder, the both of them watching us play.I wondered if it had snowed in Chicago. I wondered if Kay and her siblings were doing the same thing we were, chucking loose balls of snow across the street, laughter filling the air. Like there wasn't any evil in the world and everything was going to be okay.Molly stopped in front of me grinning face pale but cheeks red. Then a snowball burst across her head, a look of surprise on her face as she shrieked with laughter.'What spilled out of the back of her head mixed with her long brown curls. She dropped, kicked, twitching on the floor as things inside trickling out, twitching as she tried to get up.'My lungs squeezed, breathing hard. I could smell the cordite in the air, the strong smell of people's innards ventillated. Something must have shown on my face because the game started to slow down."You okay Eric?" Molly asked, snow dripping down her cheek.I tried to say something but could barely get out a nod, my breathing growing rapid and hard."Just...cold..." I managed, staggering to the front deck. Kevin raised a silent eyebrow at me. My teeth were clenched hard, but my breathing was starting to settle.I rubbed my arms.>get it together and rejoin the game>maybe take it easy for a sec
>>4678278>maybe take it easy for a secOh noThe fire cannot last in the cold
>>4678278>maybe take it easy for a secThe last thing we need is to accidentally hurt one of them because of a snowball
I'm tired guys so I'm going to leave this here and get back to it tomorrowvote stays open until I do
>>4678278>maybe take it easy for a sec
>>4678278>maybe take it easy for a secugh, busy every night this weekdamn you real life
>>4678278>maybe take it easy for a secOh no, soon Eric will be hitting the deck on the 4th of July.
>>4678278>maybe take it easy for a sec"Why yes, I do have PTSD. How could you tell?"Poor Jude.
>>4678862Considering it's current year, Jude should be fine as long as he ain't living in the sticks, plenty of tolerant southern folk in the urban areas
>>4678862>>4678827>>4678499>>4678467>>4678416>>4678385locking that inalso Indiana isn't in the south, its part of the midwest
"I think I need to take a knee," I said, walking stiffly over to the porch step.I sat down, squeezing my eyes shut, opening them, trying to steady my breathing. The lull in the game ended and soon everyone was back to flinging snowballs at each other. One hit Kevin in the shoulder, earning Molly his evil eye. But the screaming laughter faded out as I closed my eyes, focusing on the fire inside me.As I did the anxiety slipped away, my nerves steadied, my breathing became regular. Steam rose from my arms, snow melting on my hot skin. I hoped no one noticed.There was a polite cough and I turned my head to see Aaron standing at the rail."Sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to make you sick."I shook my head. "It's cool," I said, "I'm not sick. A bit of snow down my pants isn't going to hurt me."That cheered up the little boy at least, who broke into a grin. I packed a snowball especially hard, handed it to him and pointed out TJ."Hit him in the balls," I suggested, and he sprinted off with a mischievous giggle.By the time the game stopped everyone was wet with melting snow, faces chapped and breath steaming. Grandma called us in for a waffle breakfast. Esther dried out her long black hair, Jude changed into a dry sweater.I got a text from Kay. A blushing smile emoji, and attached was a picture of her in front of an ugly snowman with stick arms and her dad's police hat on its head, her giving a peace sign beside it. God she was cute in the snow, the red in her auburn hair standing out stronger against all the white."Whose she?" Jude asked."My girlfriend," I said."She's cute," Jude said."Let me see," TJ said, trying to grab my phone."Which one's that," Dad said, coming in for breakfast, "The cheerleader or the blonde?"I blushed. "Excuse me?" Auntie Liz said with feigned shock."Oh yeah, the kid's a player," Dad said, "I don't really approve but, what can you do?""Ivy isn't my girlfriend," I said."Which one's Ivy?" Auntie Liz asked."The blonde, I think," Dad said, "There's the black girl too."Auntie Liz gave me an impressed look."Ayesha has a boyfriend," I said. Even if I didn't like him. "Ayesha and Ivy are just my friends. A guy can be friends with a girl, its not always about sex.""Who mentioned sex?" Dad said."Like you'll ever get any, virgin," TJ said, finally getting my phone off me. I nearly snapped at him about not being a virgin but Dad was right there and he didn't know yet. Plus it was just an awkward thing to mention in front of my family. He scrowled through my pictures. "Yeah, yeah she's all right," TJ said, "Not as good as my girl.""You've got another bimbo?" Esther said as she carved into a waffle."Yeah," TJ said, "What can I say, brain dead girls are more fun.""I'm sure watching them shop is a riot," Esther said, popping a chunk of syrup coated waffle into her mouth.
"Better than another dusty old museum," TJ said, "Anyway you're just jealous because you can't get a boyfriend.""Maybe I would if you hadn't put the last one in the hospital," she said."Hey, that wasn't my fault, he stepped in front of my car," TJ said."Right after kissing me? Whatever, get bent," she stabbed her waffle, glowering at it."I did you a favor, he was a loser anyway," TJ muttered."Bicker, bicker, bicker," Auntie Liz said, "I don't know about you, Joe, but I'd rather our kids spent more time focusing on school rather than sneaking out on dates.""I don't know Liz, I think they should enjoy themselves while they can," Dad replied."They can, when they go to a good college," Liz leaned over and pinched Esther's cheek, "Like my little girl heading off to New York City! Oh I'll be worried about you.""Don't know what's so bad about going to Indiana U," TJ muttered."Maybe the fact you'll be there?" Esther said, pushing her mom's pinching fingers away. For a second I saw a look of real hurt cross TJ's face, so quick I wondered if I'd even seen it."Good point, I could use a break from you," TJ said, "I always thought Mom and Dad should have shipped you back to Korea after they finally had a real kid."The slap came quick and knocked the chunk of half chewed waffle out of TJ's mouth. The look on Auntie Liz's face was scary."Apologize to your sister," she said. TJ, even Esther, stared in shock."Sorry," he mumbled, "We were just talkin' trash.""I said to your sister, Thomas-Joshua," she said."Sorry Es," he said, barely looking her in the eye."It's fine," Esther replied, looking more uncomfortable than TJ did. But it put a smile on Auntie Liz's face."Good," she said, settling into her own food, "Very good."Grandma came in with a pitcher of juice. "My what a rambunctious morning," she said, pouring us kids a glass each. "Would you like seconds, Eric?""I've never known him to say 'no'," Dad said behind his coffee.For the rest of the day we mostly did nothing. Jude tried to hook his playstation up to our grandparents tv, but gave up when he couldn't find the right port. "It's like something out of the Flintstones," he muttered at the big box in the corner.That left not a lot to do.The only person who found something to occupy his time was Kevin, nose deep in a book."You know its deer season," Uncle Tony mentioned, "Wouldn't take much to get a permit, we could take the boys out hunting.""When was the last time we went on a hunting trip?" Grandpa asked Dad.Dad shrugged. "Since before Eric was born.""Might be time for another then," he said, "What do you kids think, want to go hunting? Get ourselves a deer?"There were general shrugs. Only TJ and Esther seemed eager."What about you, kid?" Dad asked, "Want to go hunting with your old man?">no thanks, I'm not a fan of hunting>sure, it could be fun
>>4679476>sure it could be fun I don't think Eric is squeamish at this point, plus we have to familiarize ourselves with guns if we're going to keep getting shot by them You can't fight something you don't understand, even batman is super familiar with guns despite absolutely despising them
>>4679476>sure, it could be fun
>>4679523>>4679521>>4679510locked in for hunting
Ah shit wait we're gonna have another PTSD episode aren't we
>>4679554Don't see why, we are regularly getting shot at and are going to be in "hunter" mode. I can get the sudden bout of ptsd since we saw an "innocent" get attacked, but this time we're the one who is attacking.It would feel like some tumblr angst bullshit if we suddenly started getting ptsd every single time something remotely like what happens to us regularly happens
"Could be fun," I said. Hunting was pretty common where I'd grown up, the only reason we'd never done it is because Mom disapproved, and Dad preferred fishing anyway. But I was eager to spend more time with Grandpa."We could drive up to Kingsbury tomorrow morning," Uncle Tony said, "Get the permits and everything sorted tonight.""You bring your rifle up with you?" Grandpa asked. Uncle Tony nodded. "Well okay, sounds like a plan.""You have your own gun, Joe?" Uncle Tony asked.Dad shook his head. "Haven't handled a gun in a while," he said."This will be good," Uncle Tony said, "Just us and the boys.""Oh no," Auntie Liz said, "If you're going hunting you're taking Esther and Molly with you. Last time you went without Molly she spent all weekend crying. And Aaron is no where near old enough to be around you yahoos shooting guns.""He's just a scamp, he'll be fine," Uncle Tony said, but his wife had her way.So it was arranged for us, Me, Jude, Kevin, Molly, TJ and Esther, to head up to Kingsbury preserve for some hunting with Uncle Tony, Dad, and Grandpa. Kevin didn't want to come but his dad didn't give him much choice. For their part Esther and TJ imagined they'd already bagged the King of the Forest."You couldn't take a deer if it was sitting at your feet," Esther said."I can thread a ball half way down a field with three screaming rednecks trying to take me out," TJ replied, "And anyway, last time we went hunting you nearly blew my foot off.""You took off your vest, and the pheasant was right there," she said."I think you wanted to hit me," he said.But before then we had another family dinner, this time with a guest."You'll never imagine who I ran into at the store," Auntie Liz said. Whoever the guy was who stepped in, I didn't recognize him. Some bespeckled weed in a sports coat with a layer of gray stubble on a weak jawline. He smiled around as he came in, hands in his pockets, dark hair combed into a careful carelessness. He could have been any age from 30 to a youthful 45."Mr Lang!" Esther said, perked up, tail wagging. Her music teacher, I didn't see what there was to get excited about."Hey there Peter," Uncle Tony said, shaking his hand, "Funny seeing you up here. Enjoying the school break?""Oh I'm keeping myself busy," he said, "Good evening Esther, you've been keeping up with your homework?""Yes sir," she said with a salute, grinning wide."Good girl," he replied."I thought since its Thanksgiving and all, and he's been so good to our Esther, we could have him over for dinner. That isn't a problem, is it Mom?""Oh the more the better I say," Grandma said as she set the table. Esther jumped to help, setting the places."I'm just happy to be out of the cold," Mr Lang said, smiling around, "And really, students like Esther make my job a lot easier. All I've done is help her do what she already could."
"Don't be so humble, she has absolutely flourished with your help," Auntie Liz said, plucking a string from his sleeve.We took our seats, most of the talk split between the hunting trip tomorrow and our guest."So you ever been hunting, Peter?" Uncle Tony asked."Oh me? No, I grew up in the city," he said."That's right, you're from Chicago originally," Auntie Liz said, "Why'd you leave the hustle and bustle of a big city like that behind?""Exactly that reason Liz, the hustle and bustle," he said, "I like the slower pace out here."A music teacher from Chicago. It pricked my nerves and made me think of Ivy and her situation. But I was being paranoid. The odds of my cousin's tutor being the same one who took advantage of Ivy were low. Or high. I could never remember which it was with odds."We recently moved to Chicago," Dad said, "Where did you teach?"Can't be. No way. Then he mention my school by name and my stomach dropped. I stared at the chicken on my plate, a dull roar in my ears. Then I watched him smile across the table at Esther, watched her smile back, shyly, knowingly. The fork twisted in my grip, fire burning in my gut."Something the matter, kid?" Grandpa asked, watching me with concern.>nothing, sorry, just daydreaming>do you know an Ivy Chambers, Mr Lang?
>>4679589>do you know an Ivy Chambers, Mr Lang?Maybe text Ivy to ask if he's the guy
>>4679589>nothing, sorry, just daydreamingWe need confirmation before we kill him and bury the body, CONFIRMATION
>>4679589>do you know an Ivy Chambers, Mr Lang?"She had a lot to say about you! Do you want to tell my family or should I do it?"Thinly veiled enough - leave before I make you
>>4679601Fuck, as much as I want him to have a "hunting accident," I think there will be consequences with our family from it. He isn't worth destroying our family over.
be back in a sec
I slid my phone out into my lap and fired off a text to Ivy.Me - Peter Lang.The dinner continued. Mr Lang said something that made Auntie Liz throw her head back with laughter, a little smile of his own as he sipped a beer. It was about ten minutes before I got a text back.Ivy - Don't do it EricI clicked away.Me - Do what?Ivy - Whatever you think he deserves. Don't.Me - he...It was hard to even think it. 'He raped you'. I couldn't even type it. The fire inside me rose.Me - he's creeping on my cousin.She didn't reply but I knew she'd seen my message. I stared back at Mr Lang, sitting across from Esther. She'd barely looked away from him while they ate, and when he turned to look at her his gaze lingered, lips pursed in a tiny smile. Scum. Sitting there joking with her parents while he...Complete scum. My phone pinged.Ivy - Whatever you do, don't kill him.Ivy - Not for my sake. For yours. Please. Don't. Eric. Don't. Don't break my heart.My heart thumped, the image of her coming to mind. I looked at Mr Lang again, closed my eyes, forced a smile."Passing love notes?" Grandma asked, "We don't allow phones at the dinner table Eric.""Sorry Grandma," I said, slipping it away."I think a weekend course would do Esther a world of good," Mr Lang said, "There's an overnight workshop you can sign her up for if you're interested. It costs money, but I think it's worth it.""Oh anything for our daughter," Aunt Liz said. Mr Lang smiled, bright white teeth chomping on sweet potato.It took all my self control not to lunge across the table."So Mr Lang," I said, "Sir. I have a question.""Go ahead sport," he said, though he barely looked my way."Did you ever teach some called Ivy Chambers?"Now I had his attention, head rising sharp. "The name's familiar," he said, cutting at his chicken, "Oh yeah, that's right. She was a student of mine back in Chicago. Kind of a troublemaker if I recall. Didn't really stand out much though. Why, do you know her?""She's a friend of mine," I said. And she's the only reason I haven't ripped your head off, I thought still smiling."I don't remember you from school," he said."We moved to Chicago this year," Dad said, "You just missed him."I held my smile as best I could, fire burning me up inside. Smile tight and pulled into place."She had a lot to say about you," I said.
"Well, good things only I hope," he said. I could smell his fear. Like cat piss. His fear or his lying or just his evil. It stunk up the place, came off him so thick I don't know how anyone else could stand it. "Though, you know, now that I think about it, she was a little bit obsessed with me. That's right, I remember she wrote me a love letter. Very flattering but sort of embarrassing.""I bet you have your share of schoolgirl crushes Peter," Uncle Tony said, "Why sometimes I worry about our esther the way she goes on.""Oh no, Mr Lang is a gemtleman," Esther said, but with a sideways glance at me, telling me with a look to shut up."It's natural for a girl to have a crush on an older man," Aunt Liz said, "I remember when I was in school...""Eric," Grandpa said, his voice low, "What did your friend Ivy say?" I looked to Grandpa. He had a sober look, locked on mine, with a deadly seriousness in his voice.>...nothing but good things, like Mr Lang said> nothing fit for a dinner table> well he raped her for a start
>>4679802> well he raped her for a startHe shouldn't be anywhere near young girls.
>>4679816SupportGet this guy AWAY from our cousin - lock him up
>>4679802> well he raped her for a startFuck our cousins wants, Fuck proprietary, and Fuck if all of them hate us for this There are things worth burning all the bridges in the world for
>>4679802> well he raped her for a startgotta resist the urge to beat the shit out of him, that'll get us in juvie
"Well he raped her for a start," I said.I didn't give a shit how shocking it was. He didn't deserve innuendos or propriety, and I didn't care if this wasn't 'appropriate' dinner table conversation.The accussation immediately had Auntie Liz and Grandma gasp in shock, Grandma looking like she might faint. No one else took it much better, with Uncle Tony's brow furrowed in confusion. Esther swallowed her tongue while TJ looked ready to get out of his chair and start over the dinner table."Now, now calm down," Mr Lang fumbled for words, "That's a very strong accusation. I uh, I don't think if you knew the context you'd believe her. Ivy was...is a very manipulative girl.""Do you believe her, Eric?" Grandpa asked.I looked to the old man, the wintery polar bear with the dark look on his face."I do," I said."You're a liar," Esther said, looking ready to start crying, "Your friend is a liar. Peter already told me everything. Mom, he already told me about Chicago. She came on to him.""So it's Peter now?" TJ spat, Jude and Kevin having to hold him back from climbing over the table. Mr Lang backed away."Did you sleep with a little girl, Mr Lang?" Grandpa asked him.Mr Lang was sweating. "It...she come on to me, I tried to turn her down but...it was one time...""Are you sleeping with my granddaughter?" he asked bluntly.Mr Lang looked like he wanted to be anywhere else right now."I'm seventeen," Esther said, "It's legal, I looked it up. There's nothing wrong about it and he...I love him. Mom, Dad, please! I love him!"Grandpa just nodded while my aunt and uncle looked lost for words."Back in 'Nam," he said, "We had this gunner on the boat. Good man, for the most part. He watched our backs, we watched his. Funny guy too, could get us all laughing even after a real shit storm. But he had this thing. See in country you take what comfort you can get, we all had a whore or two even if some wouldn't admit it Stateside. But his preference was always younger than the rest. 'Can't get this back home!' he'd say. None of us approved but we turned a blind eye. He was a good gunner and he kept us safe on the river. And when you turn a blind eye once, it gets easier each time."Grandpa kept his focus square on Mr Lang. His gravelly voice drew all our focus on him."But the war ended," he said, "We went home. Some of us did anyway. And after a while, after a couple of reunions, we found out he'd taken a teaching job. At a middle school. Well we could turn a blind eye on the river but not back home. So we organized a hunting trip, just us vets all starting to get fat. We went up the Rocky Mountains, and then we went home. Well some us did anyway. Do you get what I'm saying, Mr Lang?"Mr Lang dabbed sweat from his brow. Grandpa frowned, shook his head."No, if you really did you wouldn't still be sitting there," he said, "Best you start running."Mr Lang rose from his chair. "Esther," he started.
"Don't talk to her," Grandpa said, "Don't even look at her. Just get going before I get unfriendly."Mr Lang marched for the door. Esther sat with tears streaming down her face. When TJ tried to say something to her she just got up and stalked out of the room. Auntie Liz got up and followed her out."Well," Grandma said, "My appetite is ruined."Dad got up, collecting plates, helping wash up. The other kids, Uncle Tony, all sat shell shocked while I glared at Mr Lang's empty chair.Grandpa got up. "Eric, you mind if we have a talk?" he said, "Just you and me."I nodded stiffly.He took me to his study, where our bunks were set up, closed the door so it was just the two of us."You don't hesitate to throw a hand grenade do you?" he said with dark humor."Grandpa?" I said.He took me around the shoulders and sat me down."I heard some stories about what's going on with you up in Chicago," he said, "You were in the hospital pretty badly beaten, and maybe your uncle believed you cut yourself shaving but I know a stab wound when I see one." He pushed up the sleeve of my shirt to show the narrow slice from Baby Girl's sword up my forearm. "This one too. No kind of fifteen year old should have scars like that. I bet if you took your shirt off you'd have more. Am I right?"I shrugged. "Chicago is a rough town," I said."But its the way you looked at him," he said, "The way you talked. Like he was a bug you coulda squashed with one hand. You've stared down some bad men before, haven't you?"I curled my shoulders, breathing hard. He got up and went to his desk, pulled out a bottle of whiskey from a drawer with a couple of glasses."You don't got to admit it," he said, "But you're one of those para-whatevers, aren't you?"He poured me a glass, handed it over. I stared at the amber drink, swirling between my hands."You should be worried about Esther," I muttered."Esther has her parents," he said, sitting back down next to me, taking a sip.>drink in silence, let the old man think whatever he wanted>Grandpa, I'm Hotspur
>>4679975>Grandpa, I'm Hotspur
>>4679975>Grandpa, I'm HotspurAnd I'm not gonna stop.
>>4679975>Grandpa, I'm HotspurBut before we say this, put our phone out of earshot distance and run a super sense scan of our surroundings.
>>4679975>Grandpa, I'm HotspurVoting to just spill it all to him and hope a relative doesn't overhear
>>4680005Probably a good idea.
Before I answered I closed my eyes, expanded my hearing outward.From upstairs I heard Auntie Liz over Esther's sobbing ,"You can talk to my sweetheart, I'm not angry."From the kitchen Uncle Tony and Dad, "I just don't know how it could happen."And from the living room TJ growling, "I'm going to kill that mother fucker."But what I picked up on was the soft breathing behind the door. Aaron, eavesdropping.I signalled to the door with a turn of my head and Frandpa got up, walking over. He whisked the door open and fake growled at the little boy, who went sprinting down the hall. Then he closed the door and locked back. Waiting for my answer.I knocked back the drink, let me senses settle. The alcohol burned down my throat, rougher than I was used to, but I didn't cough. I kept it back. I wanted Grandpa to see me as a man."I'm Hotspur," I said."The crime fighter?" he said, sitting back down next to me, the bunk sagging under his weight. I nodded. "News says he's some kind of nut who likes hurting people for fun. Well I always figured them for a pack of liars.""I'm a para-freak," I said, "You've seen some of what I can do? On the news?" He nodded. "I can do more than just that. Ever since I got these powers I've been using them to...to try to help people.""And stepped into an ugly world by doing so," Grandpa said. Now it was my turn to nod. "I can't imagine some of what you must have seen."That was heavy for a Vietnam veteran to say. I looked up at Grandpa, his brow lowered in a troubled line, his eyes glittering blue, the same color as Dad's, the same as mine."Have you told your father?" he said. I shook my head. "You might want to think about that.""You don't know what he was like, Grandpa, after the funeral," I said, "He was drinking himself to death. Losing Mom, I think he didn't want to keep going. If he found out I was putting my life on the line every night...I don't think he could handle it. And the less people who know the better. There's people out there looking for me, bad people, and they aren't just criminals.""Do you have anyone you can talk to about this stuff?" he said."There's this other vigilante, Misfit," I said, "I talk to her sometimes.""You trust her?""Yeah," I said."How can you be sure?" he said."Because...," I said, "Because we watch each other's back on the river."Grandpa smiled, stroking my back."I'm not going to stop," I said."I wouldn't ask you to," he said, "But...when I went to war I was a volunteer, I enlisted. I thought I was doing the right thing, stepping up to defend freedom. Then I got in country, saw the shit up close. I still believed but...but not as easily. Then I went back three more times. I felt it was owed, going back. To the boys in the ARVN, to the boys still on the river and the ones in the bush we were covering. Maybe I kept going back hoping to get back the piece of me I left behind the first time."
"By the time I was done I was twenty two and felt a hundred years old, and I knew the war was bullshit," he said, "I came back and lost the rest of the decade to drinking and smoking pot. It was your grandmother pulled me out of it. She's got some views don't sit right with me, typical Old Indiana ideas, but what she gave me was more valuable. She gave me back my soul.""What I'm saying is," he said, "The ugliness, it'll take pieces of you. It already has. You got scars kid, ones you can't see, ones you don't know are there.""And I'll help you with them if I can," he said, "But you need to find someone, a person or people, who can help you keep what's left, and maybe put back together what you lose. Do you understand?"I looked over his bookshelf. "I think so," I said.He patted my back again. "You get some sleep," he said, "We're getting up bright and early if we want to get some hunting in.""Okay," I said as he got up, "Grandpa," he stopped at the door, "Thanks."His smile had the devil's glint, "Anytime kid," he said, and stepped out to leave me alone.Alone, with time to think.
I'll be back either next week or sometime on the weekendthanks for playing so far.
>>4680113Thank you for running Bull!
>>4680113Thanks for runningMan I wish I had a cool grampa like that. Not that I don't love my grandparents
>>4680113Thanks OP, this is really the only quest on /qst/ that I'm actually invested in right now. I know you're always beating yourself up about typos or writing mistakes or whatever but you're really writing good shit so far. I appreciate the work you put in. Like I said a long ass time ago, I'll be here playing as long as you're still writing. and I always keep my word
>>4680113Three unconnected thoughts: 1) Thanks for running! This quest is one of my favorites, excellent writing.2) Based Grandpa3) We the players are aware, but is Eric aware that he's experienced psychological effects from the explosion?
>>4680482>We the players are aware, but is Eric aware that he's experienced psychological effects from the explosion?I am fairly sure we don't know this to, all I see until now is some conjecture from anons, that don't make that much sense.
>>4680113Thanks for running! Sorry I missed so much, been busy this week. I'll back other anon on this being the #1 quest for me right now.
I don’t think I’ve cared about a quest so much since Homeless Mutant and I was late as shit to that one, honestly I’m really glad with the votes made we really needed to get that out I think, and thank GOD we made sure no one was listening. As for the teacher I’m grateful for what went down and how it was handled, but if we see him trying some shit again all bets are off honestly, you don’t get a third chance to walk away.
>>4680482>is Eric aware that he's experienced psychological effects from the explosion?We don't know that for sure either.
Rain in the night had left mist in the morning, wet leaves now frost burned from the cold, the grass crunching under our feet.I wore a bright orange coat, we all did. Grandpa wouldn't take any risks, especially with little Kevin along, however unwilling he was. We split into three groups. Uncle Tony took Molly and Jude, I went with Grandpa and Dad, while Esther and TJ babysat Kevin. Esther hadn't talked to anyone all morning to the point we'd assumed she wasn't coming, until she showed up at the car waiting to go.Now we were each in our own little hunting parties. Grandpa said we could take a buck each, I don't know if he meant each hunter or each party, but their antlers had to be grown. He'd taken me through some gun safety before giving me a rifle, and I kept his lessons in mind at every step. Keep the barrel lowered, don't point it at anyone, don't chamber a round until I was ready to shoot.A hunting trip wasn't a place for talking. All I heard was the crunch of our feet on the grass and steady breathing, distant birdsong in the trees. It was grasslands out here until we got closer to the lake, and I could see the other hunting parties as a cluster of orange lumps in the distance. We were a line, moving toward the woods."We might not even see a deer," Grandpa had said before we set out, "But that's hunting. Don't be disappointed."I stepped through a slushy puddle of half melted snow. The forecast was saying we'd get more in the coming week but for today we had clear skues, a cold wind whipping down from Lake Michigan. It chapped my lips and stung my cheeks, but it didn't bother me. I wasn't going to complain if Dad wasn't, and he wouldn't if Grandpa didn't.Mom had hated hunting, though she recognized it was necessary from time to time for pest control. It was trophy and sport hunting she had a problem with. It had made her unpopular in our home town, where most grown adults hunted at least part of the year, and had made things awkward between me and my classmates whenever they'd talk about this or that hunting trip with their dads.Still, it was important to Grandpa we do this. The old man had a level of focus on the task at hand that I tried to emulate, Dad uncharacteristically focused and attentive too. We stalked through the grass in the quiet early day.Grandpa came to a stop and signalled me forward."There," he said, poking to a shape in the grass.I called on my power to sharpen my eyes. Four prongs rose from the grass, a soft, spongy black nose twitched as it chewed up cud. A deer, a buck stag.I raised up my rifle, sliding back the bolt to chamber the first bullet. My mouth was dry and heart thumping. I'd never shot anything before. Never knowingly killed anything either. It ate, unaware of the hunters with it in their sights.I hesitated."It's ok not to shoot," Grandpa said, our faces level, "Killing doesn't make you any more of a man."I swallowed, hands unsteady.>take the shot>don't take the shot
>>4686925>take the shot
>>4686925>Don’t take the shot
>>4686925>don't take the shot
I lowered the gun, breathing out a held breath."It's fine," Grandpa said, "Looking is enough." He clapped my back, rubbed my shoulder.I watched the deer lower its head again, oblivious to how close it had come to dying just seconds ago.A shot cracked the air and my deer sprung away with a terrified bleat, bounding through the grass towards the trees.A cheer went up from Uncle Tony's group."I got one!" Jude called.We made our way toward them through the grass.Jude knelt over a deer, his dad standing over him beaming with pride. Jude set his gun down next to it. The deer shivered, a bloody wound in its neck, hooves kicking."Careful boy," Grandpa said, "Those hooves can tear your throat open."But Jude kept well away, face shining bright as he watched his prey squirm a little more before settling still, its breathing stopped, its chest deflated. Its strange in a way how much it was the same no matter the species, when a body dies violently it has the same rythm, either taking its time or going all at once. There were so many dying folks I'd seen reminded me of Jude's deer.When it was still Jude stroked its neck. It had four long prongs on its antler."I almost had it," Molly said, "Had it in my sights.""Too slow on the trigger," Jude said."Well don't gloat too much kid," Grandpa said, "You killed it, you've got to dress it."Jude went green as Molly's grin widened.No one else had much luck. TJ and Esther stalked in with a foul mood while Kevin looked ready to go home. Uncle Tony carried Jude's kill, the prize of the hunt, over his beefy shoulder and walked it back to the visitor center.They strung it up on a tree, the stag hanging from its head, then Uncle Tony passed Jude his knife."You've seen TJ and Esther do it," Uncle Tony said, "Just take the knife up its belly, lightly. You want to open it, not gut it. Cut the guts and you'll spoil the meat.""Right," Jude said, starting the work under his father's instruction.The rest of us took a seat on a nearby park bench, watching absently while we talked. It was going to take Jude a while.Dad popped open an ice box and handed out drinks. It was a cold day but the sun was still out, so everyone was happy for a can of pop."So I figure when Jude finishes up we can start back to Grandma," Grandpa said, "It's a drive, I want to get on the road while we still have daylight.""But I haven't bagged a deer yet," TJ said, "Can't we hire a cabin or something and head back tomorrow?""This kid sure is quick to spend my money," Grandpa joked to Dad."Let's go home," Kevin said, "Hunting sucks.""You suck," Molly said, "I could stay out here forever.""Come on Grandpa," TJ said, "Just one night."Grandpa frowned. "What about the rest of you?" he said.Esther shrugged, staring out over the frosted grasslands. Still nothing to say to anyone."Eric?" Dad asked, "Do you want to stay out here or go home?">can we go home?>I'd like to stay out here
>>4687019>can we go home?Lang might try something
>>4687019>can we go home?That’s enough PTSD for one day
>>4687019>can we go home?
"Can we go home?" I said.TJ and Molly both got vocally annoyed by that while Kevin sighed with relief."Sorry hunters, but you're out voted," Grandpa said, starting to unload his rifle, "Now put the ammo back in the box, make sure the guns are cleared. We'll clean 'em when we get home. Respect the weapon, kids, respect what it can do."Grandpa collected the bullets before stowing them away, then collected the cleared rifles and put them in the back of his car. He was nothing if not a responsible man."I can't remember the last time I used a gun," Dad said, looking out over the grasslands, the breeze waving through it. The color of the sky was talking snow, still a few hours out."Your mom never liked hunting," Dad said, "Truth is I'm not a great fan of it either. It was always just a way to spend time with Dad. Probably why I never took you, we always had our own things to do. I'd rather go fishing and not catch a thing, just take it easy on a boat on a calm river, and relax. Hunting is too much stress. And I always feel sorry about it."We watched Jude finish up dressing the deer, taking off its skin. However sorry Dad felt Jude took it without a complaint, knife moving efficiently along the carcass. It wasn't a deer anymore, it was venison, and Uncle Tony was promising grilled venison when we got back."You know your problem Joe, is you're too soft hearted," Uncle Tony said, watching with pride as his boy cleaned his knife. "If you aren't tough your boy won't be tough either. Take my boys, heck take my girls for instance. They don't blink over a squirt of blood, they just get on with business."Uncle Tony gave me a look like he thought I was ten years old and didn't know a thing about the world."What did you do in the Marines again, Anthony?" Grandpa said, lumbering over.Uncle Tony blushed. He'd left the Marines a captain without any overseas deployment, stuck in the supply chain. Like a lot of military guys, I figured. I'd read somewhere once that only about ten percent of soldiers ever saw any action. I don't know if it was true."Maybe Eric's tougher than you think," Grandpa said, "And for my part Joe, I think you've raised a hell of a boy."Dad smiled. "All credit goes to his mother, I'm just trying not to screw up the rest," he said, "And believe me, I've screwed up a lot over the years."Jude and Molly started dividing up the carcass, packing it into an ice box. When they were done they walked it over between them, stashing it in the boot of their dad's truck."Okay ramblers, time to ramble," Grandpa said, getting up. Being seventy, he walked slow over to the car, back stiff.We climbed in, me and Molly in the back with Kevin, Dad in the shotgun seat. The rest rode with Uncle Tony.Dad started putting on the GPS but Grandpa slapped his hand away.
"I don't need that junk," he said, "I've been driving these roads fifty years. You're worse than your mother for it."Molly turned to me with a smirk. "Dad said you pussied out," she said, then shot a finger gun at my belly, "I'd have taken the shot.""Whatever," I said, putting my attention out the window.When I said if we could go home, part of me meant Grandma's, but a bigger part meant Chicago. I missed the city, the skyscrapers and the urban sprawl, the sounds of it, the smell. Open country, flat and empty, was some people's idea of paradise but not mine. I wanted street food and street music, bucket boys pounding out a beat outside Wobash station while I got an Italian ice with Ayesha or hit a record store with Ivy. Spitting loogies into the Chicago River with Rufus and Zeke while Ayesha called it disgusting. Shooting hoops with the boys at a half court, talking trash with D-Mark and Smokey while scoring free food off Luis.Mrs Valdez sneaking me some homemade fajitas when Dad forgot to cook.Making time with Kay in my bedroom, the both of us too hot to breath, scared Dad would hear but not so much to stop.I was homesick.Dad flipped through radio stations as Grandpa drove. It crackled "In other news, the para-freak known as 'Misfit' is wanted on suspicion of murder..."I startled forward."Turn that back," I said, grabbing the back of Dad's seat. It took Dad a second to flip back to the news."...where Russian gangster Anatoly Sharapov was found dead. Footage taken from a nearby gas station show the para-freak Misfit fleeing the scene of the crime. The escalation in para-freak attacks follows a string of robberies committed by a villain calling himself the 'Black Claw'. Officials from the DPA have released-""Boring," Molly said, reaching over to flip it to a pop station.My heart was in my mouth as I sat back. Could it be true? I know she walked a rougher side of the law than I did, but murder? Or was this like I suspected with Thunderchild, another DPA stitch up? Whatever it was, it made me long to get back to Chicago to get to the heart of it.But for now I was trapped in a car and a family visit. All I could do was hope Misfit was as good as hiding from the cops as she was from gangsters. Either way I sat in anxiety for the rest of the trip home, waiting for my phone to blow up.I got a text just as sun was setting, right on the front door of my grandparents home. On my other phone.Grant - Did you hear about your friend?I looked around before texting back.Me - Yes.Grant - Frame job?Me - Maybe.Grant - We should meet.Now came another problem. I was out of the city and she didn't know it.Me - Can't. Not in Chicago.It took a moment before the next message came through.Grant - Where? I can come to you.I stared at it, then up at the framed photographs on my grandparents' wall, grandkis smiling down.>tell her it has to wait until I get back>I'm in Indianapolis, meet me tomorrow
>>4687134How much longer are we gonna be in Indiana?
>>4687142almost a whole work week
>>4687134>I'm in Indianapolis, meet me tomorrowFuck it we gotta make it work. Ask to go on a trip to Indy with just grandpa
>>4687134>I'm in Indianapolis, meet me tomorrowIf we're so far out in the boonies that we can't catch a bus somewhere anonymous, our power should let us cover the ground pretty easy. Or maybe we could even bum a ride off based gramps.
>>4687152Carmel is right outside Indy, so its not a big effort to get there
>>4687159awesomenow to ask her to not be followed
>>4687178I think that goes without saying, she knows what she's doing
>>4687134>I'm in Indianapolis, meet me tomorrow
Me - I'm in Indianpolis. Meet me tomorrow on Monument Circle, in front of the Soldiers and Sailors MonumentGrant - Indy? Ok. See you early, 7 AM.Then after a few seconds.Grant - Hoosier ;)I rolled my eyes and stashed my phone. I'd need a disguise, but the old scarf and hoodie trick would have to do. Getting there would be easy enough, heck I could walk it if I really wanted to, but there was a bus service that looped Carmel into Indy which would do the trick. Or I could ask Grandpa to drive me in.Either way for now there was a venison dinner cooking, the click of cutlery as table places were being set, some light music going. I washed up, rinsing off my face. Homesickness would have to wait, though it wasn't helped when I started getting messages from Kay, with a few selfies to go with it, some of them cute, some of them cute and pouty, all of them telling me I was missed. I sent a picture back, telling her about the same.When I came down it was to the table ready. I took a place between Dad and Kevin. Aaron was about to start flicking peas with his spoon before Auntie Liz took the spoon off him. He'd been bored alone all day with nothing but grown ups for company, and was pretty much vibrating in his chair with excitement, gabbing away about whatever to whoever would give him attention."Meant to get cold tomorrow," Grandpa said, "Pond might freeze over.""Good for some backyard hockey?" Dad asked."Might be," Grandpa said. Dad nodded."Been a while since you strapped on some skates," Dad said to me."You used to play hockey, didn't you Es?" Dad said, trying to draw her out of her shell."Goalie," she replied, "Back in middle school.""Smallest goalie in the league," TJ said."Now don't you go teasing her about it TJ," Aunt Liz said, "She did her best.""It's fine Mom," Esther said, "I can handle TJ.""Why'd you give it up?" Dad asked.She shrugged. "Music was more interesting, and...""The chant," TJ's knuckles tightened, voice dark."Chant?" Dad asked, but everyone else looked uncomfortable."Chinese goalie can't see shit, open your eyes before you get hit," Esther replied off-hand."The ref didn't call out the other team?" Dad said, a look of disgust on his face."It wasn't the other team," TJ muttered."Remember TJ, hitting girls is never okay," Uncle Tony remarked as he cut into his veal steak."It was wrong," Aunt Liz said, "But maybe if you'd made a better effort to be their friend they would have stopped." Esther wilted. "You've always come off a little unfriendly you know.""Broke Emma Morelli's nose," TJ muttered around a chunk of meat, "Wish I'd broke her jaw.""TJ!" Auntie Liz said, but Esther smiled and TJ smiled when he saw it."I was going to go into Indy tomorrow," I said, mostly to grandpa."You need bus money, or looking to catch a lift?" the old man said.>I could use a ride>I can get myself in
>>4687234>I can get myself inIf we can go alone then that's probably better
>>4687234>I could use a rideI'm worried someone else will want to tag along if we try to go by ourselves. Plus grandpa is cool.
>>4687234>I can get myself in
"I can get myself in," I said."Bus fair it is," Grandpa said, pulling out a couple of tens, "And maybe a bit more for fun." He gave me a wink."Oh cool, I was going into the city too," Jude said, "I'll tag along.""Yeah but I'm heading in pretty early," I said."Take your cousin, Eric," Dad said. Jude smiled but I wasn't feeling it. I wasn't going in for fun, I was going in to meet my contact in the justice system. But I couldn't tell Dad or Jude that. So I just unhappily ate some peas while Jude daydreamed about our adventure tomorrow.Normally I could sneak out but since I was bunking with both Jude and Kevin it wasn't an option. And being used to sleeping in my own room, alone, their snoring made it hard to get to sleep. Still I got up early, before anyone else in the house, and chartered my course with Google maps. I stashed a hoodie and scarf in my backpack. I'd make some excuse to separate from Jude long enough to go meet Ms Grant, then meet up with him again later.Yeah, sounded simple.Snow had fallen last night and the day temp kept it from melting, with more snow promised tomorrow. The pond hadn't entirely frozen over but give it a day or two of this cold and we'd get the backyard hockey Dad was looking forward to. It meant rugging up before heading out, and wanting to stay under the blankets for as long as possible.Stoking my fire though kept the chill away, to the point it could as easily have been t-shirt weather.Breakfast could wait if I wanted to meet up with Ms Grant. I hoped she hadn't run into trouble driving in this weather. Jude woke up slow and was slow to follow me out, rubbing his eyes and yawning. I'd learned to operate on less sleep than most people, but maybe my powers helped."We'll get some Burger King or something in the city," I said when he went to get some breakfast."Sheesh, you're keen," he said, "Did your girl drive down to meet you or something?"I didn't answer, not even when we marched through the snow covered street to the bus stop. Folks were up early shovelling their drives. It wasn't a lot of snow but it was enough to be annoying. Jude rubbed his hands together, teeth chattering. Despite the cold a pair of early morning joggers trotted by, one of those fitness couples, their body heat and exhertion keeping them warm. I snuck a glance at the woman, then caught Jude staring red faced at the guy. He looked away quick."You know if you need to tell me something," I said while we waited for the bus, "Whatever it is you were trying to tell me the other night."
"About what?" Jude said with a nervous laugh, "Oh yeah. Moving to Chicago. I wasn't really thinking about me you know, I was thinking about Esther. It's hard for her. You know she's the only Asian girl at our school? Well, I think there was one other but she graduated out. It's rough you know, our town makes Indy look like...I dunno, Paris or something. And Mom and Dad don't really know how to deal with it, her being...different. Sometimes I mean, sometimes they don't even treat her like she's their kid.""Yeah?" that wasn't the vibe I was getting from them."Like the teacher? I knew there was something off about him right away. They just didn't want to know. And the going to Juilliard thing, I think they want her to go to New York just to...go away. So they don't have to explain her as much or something. You know, I heard some kids at school say they thought she was a transfer student we were fostering, you know. She stands out around town.""That sucks," I said. I'd had no idea there was anything going on, but I could also tell Jude was deflecting about his own situation."Anyway, bus is here," he said.We got on.The bus pulled through various neat little suburbs before pulling into down town Indianapolis. Maybe once upon a time I'd have called it packed, but compared to Chicago on any given day the crowds seemed thin and spread out. I wasn't fighting anyone for the sidewalk or forced to walk faster. It was a place you could amble, so we ambled on down to Monument Circle, where the Soldiers and Sailors monument rose up from behind a long reflecting pool, topped with a lady holding a torch and a sword. It was a pretty sight no doubt, problem was it was the only sight to see in the city.Ms Grant stood in front of the monument, looking tired over a cup of coffee, the wind brushing stray dark hair into her naturally dark face.I couldn't just walk right up and say 'hi', and I had to ditch Jude too.There was a hotdog stand not too far, just getting started for the day."Hey Jude, get a couple of dogs, I need to take a piss," I said, handing him one of the tens I got off Grandpa. "Be right back."I hustled for a hiding place, and had to hope I wouldn't get caught.>roll 3 x 1d100 dc 50
Rolled 13 (1d100)>>4687358Let's ask him on our way back discreet lime - "Jude, are you gay?"
Rolled 54 (1d100)>>4687358oh god I thought we'd ditch jude way earlier than this
>>4687386here's hoping there's no critfail
>>4687358Here's to imminent failure
Rolled 79 (1d100)How do I roll again?
I found a spot behind a dumpster and bound my face with a scarf, pulled on the hoodie in my bag and pulled up the hood. Shoving my hands in my pockets, I walked slowly back out, taking my time to get to Ms Grant. She was looking for me, checking the sky, expecting me to drop in from the heavens.I'd considered it, but I didn't want any photosnaps of Hotspur in Indiana making its way online. There were enough dots already connecting me to Hotspur, I didn't need to draw a bullseye around it.So she didn't notice me come up."Yo," I said.She turned, spilling her coffee over her wrist. It was cool enough by then she was more annoyed than hurt, and it was Starbucks trash anyway."Well this is the last place I expected to meet you," she said."It's only Indiana," I said, "You make it sound like Dubai.""Exactly, nothing interesting happens in Indiana," she said. I wasn't going to argue that. She pulled a file out from her coat, handing it over. "The police report on your friend. Homicide they're saying. After reading it, I believe it even less.""This guy they say she clipped," I said, "Russian mob?"Grant nodded. Misfit had been going hard on the Russian mob lately."Question is, who stitched her up?" Grant said, "The Russians, or someone else? All I know is the DPA has 'asked' Semper Fi to keep an eye out for her, same as they have her shark hunting."Shark, that was another one didn't sit right with me."Have you gotten taller?" Ms Grant asked."Excuse me?" I said as she measured my height with her hand. Ms Grant in heels was still taller than me but not as much. I was getting taller, but I didn't like the way she said it. Our deal was to know as little about me as possible. If she was trying to figure out who I am..."I'll get Merriweather to make some adjustments to your suit," she said."Right," I said, relieved."The DPA is moving harder on para-folks," she said, "If this is a frame job, don't be surprised if they do the same to you. Penderose has been sniffing around my office, questioning my connection to you.""Has he?" I said, flipping through the file. The photo of the dead Russian was a headless corpse, seemingly blown up leaving a terrible splatter behind. "If the DPA is killing people and framing vigilantes for it," I said, "Who is doing the killing?"
"Penderose is former FBI," she said, "They've done their share of assassinations in the past, usually using the police as button men. Fred Hampton, the Native activists at Wounded Knee, who knows how many more. I'm sure he could figure out something, find someone to do his dirty work."I nodded. At least as Penderose was concerned I put nothing past him. He was a savvier operator than I'd originally given him credit, and more ruthless too."It's funny, Ms Grant, how you work for a government you seem to despise," I said.She shrugged. "Dad says I'm an idiot," she said, "He thinks its impossible to change the system from the inside. My mom thinks its impossible to change the system at all. But I have to try. We can't keep living like this, eating each other.""It's not a Democrat or Republican thing," she said, "It's an American thing.""Do what we can, where we can," I said, "And if you could help Misfit out...she doesn't have a lot of allies. Maybe you could find her a safe house to lie low.""And while she's doing that, what will you do?" Ms Grant asked, "It's turning into open season on paranormals up in Chitown."I looked up to the monument, the lady on top half disappearing into the sunlight. If the DPA wanted to go to war with para-freaks as a whole..."Me," I said, fire burning inside me, "Me, I'm going to figure out a way to hit back."-see you guys tomorrow
>>4687413See ya, thanks for running.
I feel like Grant is willfully ignoring the fact that Hotspur is a teen in order to keep working with us
>>4687413Thanks for running!Do we bring the suit in? Do we get a whole new second suit?
having a hard time getting started todayso I'll get to you guys tomorrow
>>4688187No worries boss, take your timeYou're spoiling us with multiple updates a day you know. I'd rather get less updates and make sure you're ok to run and finish the quest, but that's me personally
>>4688206Takes me back to the days when multiple update sessions were the norm. Bullpen is one of the few that prove that it can still be done instead of the shitty one update a day norm on /qst/
>>4688212Yeah I miss those days too. But people get busy, and they're doing this because they want to. If they burn out and don't want to write anymore, then we all suffer for it. Better to keep the quality and consistancy of single posts imo
I'll run tomorrow, sorry for being a flake
>>4691019No worries man, you're running more consistently than most QMs
>>4691019No problem. People would rather you run less often but keep at it than burn yourself out.
>>4691019Hey OP if you've got writer's block I know QMs in the past have just done a quick interlude instead of a session. No pressure either way though, I'll wait as long as you need
The pond had frozen over living a smooth flat surface which shined in the mid-morning light. It was a patch of water shared by the neighborhood, taking up a chunk of land behind everyone's houses. It was somewhere to picnic, to read a book, and now it was a battleground for the Miller clan.It had been a couple of days since I'd met with Ms Grant in Indy, a couple of awkward days adjusting to everything going on, but now the water had frozen firm enough for Grandpa to walk one side to the other without any worry, it had built a frenzy among my cousins to hit the ice for a 'friendly' game of hockey.Which meant ice skates and equipment dug out of the garage, enough to fit everyone out.Everyone except Aaron, who had to sit out"All right, three a side," Uncle Tony said, "Esther and TJ are team captains. Take your pick."It was me, Molly, Jude and Kevin.TJ picked Jude right away. Jude whisked over to his older brother, stick in hand."I'll take...Molly," Esther said. I don't think Esther had forgiven me for revealing her affair with her teacher. I didn't regret it. Kevin stood unhappily next to me, not wanting to be here but forced to by his overbearing dad."Girls against boys huh?" TJ said, "Well then I'll take Kevin."Asshole, I thought, skating over to join Esther and Molly. Esther wasn't happy to have me on her team, but she'd live.A couple of emptied out trash cans made the goals at either side of the pond. Uncle Tony was acting as ref while the other adults sat under the shade, enjoying their morning coffee."I want a clean game," Uncle Tony said, "Remember, you're family.""I'm going to break your leg off," Esther growled at TJ."Try it China Doll," he growled back.Some curious faces appeared in the trees to watch our skirmish.Uncle Tony threw down the puck and stepped away, a sharp blast of his whistle starting the game. Esther and TJ were at each other's throats jousting for the puck before he'd cleared the ice.>use some power to get the edge>keep it friendly, keep it normal
>>4692542>keep it friendly, keep it normalWe're pretty good at sports naturally, plus it's just a friendly game..fuck TJ though
>>4692542>keep it friendly, keep it normal
Are there any old friends we should try to meet up with while we're in Indiana?
>>4692571no one Eric is particularly close to
and now I'm told I have to be somewhere so next update will drop tomorrowI'm not switching to a 1 post a day format, things are just inconvenient right now
>>4692542>use some power to get the edgewhat are superpowers for if not dunking on family
>>4692596Do what you gotta do amigo, I'm just glad you're writing this quest at all
I feel like shit but I'm going to try to get a few posts out
>>4693946Sounds good man
Esther and TJ fought over the puck until it broke free out from under their scuffling. Jude and Molly Lunged for it as one, their sticks clacking against each other. I slid in to hook it out, gliding toward the trash can goal.Little Kevin made an unenthusiastic goalie."Come on Kevin, at least try," his dad called from the sidelines."Come on Kevin!" Aunt Liz called, clapping.It didn't stir him to action, and I shot the puck into the goal, gliding around to face the quarelling siblings."That's one for the girls, asshole," I said, giving TJ the finger as I slid past. TJ grinned.The game was on.>roll 3 x 1d100 dc 70
Rolled 42 (1d100)>>4693984
Rolled 34 (1d100)>>4693984
Rolled 48 (1d100)>>4693984rollin again
that's a fail
Rolled 15 (1d100)>>4693984Did I miss the roll?
>>4694028Whelp doesn't matter anyway
TJ was a football player, quarterback and everything, but the first game he'd played had been on the ice, and he put on a show now. Of course Esther had played hockey all her life too, but a goalie had a different set of skills to a forward, and Esther hadn't played competitively for a couple of years. Uncle Tony had both Jude and Molly play too but they were smaller than TJ, who knew how to throw his weight around.Me, I'm a basketball guy. Completely different sport.I moved to check TJ on his way into our defensive area, but a shoulder bump and a nimble step had him around me with me spinning out behind him. Esther slipped her stick between his legs to try and foul him up but he parried her stick away.That left Molly, who drew back at her older brother's opressive size barreling down on her.The puck hit the back of the garbage can with a dull thock.I wanted to say I'd stop him the next time, but the next time went about the same. When I finally felt I had TJ's measure, moving with Esther to flank him, he passed off to Jude, who took a shot for the narrow opening, getting it in."Great shot, Jude," his dad said, Jude beaming with pride.TJ got him around the shoulder, laughing in his ear."Damn it," Esther said, bringing us together. We had one last play. The sun creeping toward lunch, Grandpa bringing out his grill to fry up some venison steaks. "Okay Eric, I need you to get in Jude's face, keep him busy. I'll take TJ. Molly, when the time comes we'll get the puck to you and you take the shot. Kevin won't even try to stop you.""Okay," Molly said with a nod."Ready?" she said. We clacked the sticks together before breaking apart.I followed the play close, sticking on Jude, blocking him off from TJ. Jude was better on the ice but I was being stubborn about it. Esther and TJ fought for the puck, jousting back and forth, coming shoulder to shoulder. Finally Esther drove her forehead into TJ's and it drew him back a little dazed, dazed enough for her to pass the puck out to Molly, who had a shot at the garbage can, little Kevin in front of it.Molly slapped the puck hard with a grunt of effort. It came off the ice. I saw what was happening before it did and winced, right as the pyuck smashed into Kevin's nose.Kevin dropped, clutching a bloody streaming running down from his cupped fingers to dribble on the ice."Oh shit!" Molly said, stunned. TJ and Esther were right on their brother, trying to pull his hands away from his nose, while behind them Jude packed a snowball."I said I didn't want to play!" Kevin cried through bloody teeth and tears.Jude whisked over. "Here," he said, packing the snow against Kevin's bloody nose."That's broken all right," I said, thumbing my nose. I'd broken my own a couple of times by now, but unlike me I don't think Kevin had the power to heal it up.Uncle Tony came over to break it up.
"Sorry Kevin," Molly said."Don't be a pussy," Uncle Tony said, getting his son to his feet, giving the nose a quick check."He's hurt," TJ snapped at his dad."He's fine, he's just soft," Uncle Tony said, "Maybe spending more time playing outside and less time with your nose in a book would toughen you up."Kevin was too hurt and upset to do more than nod, shame now mixing in with his pain."Oh my baby," Auntie Liz said, coming over once we had Kevin off the ice. She brushed back his hair, checking his face. Kevin had gone really pale."Don't suffocate him Liz," Tony said, "God damn, fuss to much over him he might start talking with a lisp."What was that supposed to mean? I say a flinch cross Jude's face."How could you let this happen?" Auntie Liz shot at Esther, holding her son close."Me?" Esther said."Hey Molly was the one-" TJ started."Stay out of it TJ," their mom said, "You, Esther, you're supposed to look out for the little ones. You're responsible for-"A strangled noise came out of Esther. "I'm their sister, not their babysitter," she snapped."With all the trouble you've caused this family," Auntie Liz said, "I don't know if I'd even call you that."The color went out of Esther's cheeks, and TJ stepped between them. "Mom..." he started."Go to your room, Esther," Auntie Liz said, "You're grounded until we can figure out what to do with you.""Yeah, well go to hell!" Esther said, then ran for it across the snow.TJ looked ready to chase after her but his dad stopped him. "Girl's got to learn her lesson," he said, "We've been far too soft on her." Jude scoffed, but it didn't get any attention.>go check on Esther>stay out of the family drama
>>4694053>go check on EstherWe might be a bad choice for this since we're the reason she's upset, but TJ has been stopped and anyone that isn't us is probably going to also be stopped.
>>4694053>go check on Esther
>>4694053>go check on Estherthis family is fucked
Someone should check on Esther. I wasn't her favorite cousin right now, but I guess it had to be me.I stalked down the snow toward the house. She'd left the backdoor open, tracked melting snow through to the stairs. The girls were being roomed upstairs. I found her in the guest bedroom across from the bathroom, stuffing clothes in a backpack.I knocked, then waited."What?" she said, not looking up."Your dad's an asshole," I offered.Esther looked up from the bag, a shirt in her tight fist."Yeah, you're kind of an asshole too," she said.I shrugged. "Yeah, probably."She was quiet as she stuffed clothes into her bag, then said, "And he's not my dad, not really." I frowned at that. She went into the front pocket of her bag and pulled out a print out. "Bae Bong-Cha," she said, holding it up, "That's what I was called at the orphanage. My birth parents...that's what they called me. 'Perfect Girl'. I thought they got rid of me, they didn't want me, but that's what they named me."She sat down on the bed, crumpling up the paper. "I used to wonder about them, when I was angry with...with Mom and Dad. They used to say they rescued me, I should be grateful. That my birth parents threw me away. But they didn't. I found them, found out what happened. It was a car crash. They didn't abandon me.""Evil," I muttered, "Saying stuff like that." Fire flared inside me, my arms tensing. I wondered about something else, "Have they ever...hurt you?"Esther looked up at me in surprise. "No," she said, "Not...physically at least. I...when I was twelve I wanted to learn Korean and they got so angry, or Dad got angry while Mom got upset. They said I didn't want to be part of 'their' family. Dad said if I didn't want to be part of the family they didn't have to feed me, not until I apologized."She uncrumpled the paper as best she could. "TJ snuck me food," she said, "Dad gave him the belt for it, but it didn't stop him. It's why I apologized, so Dad would stop whoopin' him."She looked up at me, pale. "You think he's a jerk, and he is, but he isn't too. When he's a jerk its just Dad talking through him, or Mom. Or the dumb stuff he picked up at school. Underneath it all he's..."She shoved her face into the paper, strangling back a scream."Your family's kind of fucked up," I said."They make me feel so small sometimes," she said.I could see how Mr Lang had got his hooks in her. The same way he'd got his hooks into Ivy."I just want to go to New York," she said, "A big city I can get lost in, where no one knows me. So I don't have to be the little Asian girl anymore, so I don't have to have a family. I hate them.""Really?" I said."No," she replied, "I just wish I hated them."
I'd told Mom I hated her once. It was the dumbest shit. I don't even remember what it had been about. I'd been a little snot and I thought Dad would belt the crap out of me after I said it. But what had scared me was the hurt in Mom's eyes after I'd yelled in her face. I hadn't meant it of course, I was just being a stupid little kid. What was there to say but say I was sorry?But Esther had nothing to apologize for. Mom really had been a good judge of character, she'd never liked Uncle Tony or Auntie Liz.There was a knock on the door. Grandma was there with a couple of burgers."I thought you kids might like some food, if it's all right," she said. Esther nodded. She handed her a burger, then ran a hand down esther's hair. "Your parents are a silly pair," she said. Esther took a big bite out of her burger, enough to make it impossible to talk. "They really don't see what a bright young woman they've raised.""When I was your age," she said, "I was absolutely in love with the local librarian. Eugene Sherman. He was a grown man with a wife and children, but if he'd whistled for me I would have dropped everything. I was awfully silly about him, and awfully lucky he was a good man.""Whatever your parents say, it isn't your fault," Grandma said, "Men like that Lang fellow make a game off clever lonely girls, and its men like your father who let them get away with it."Esther wiped away a tear. Grandma looked to me leaning on the wall, my burger half eaten."Why don't you come help me with the washing up?" Grandma suggested, petting my arm. It was a gentle order to give Esther some space. I followed Grandma down to the kitchen. It was easy to think of Grandma as a silly old woman with old fashioned views, but right then I forgave her a little, and saw the woman who had pulled Grandpa out of the nightmare of Vietnam. I helped her with the dishes as the sun set early outside. It was a while before everyone else trudged in for dinner.It was while getting ready for bed when Jude came up to me again. He looked sick, like he might vomit."Can I tell you?" he said, while we were alone in Grandpa's study, "Can I tell you and you won't hate me or think I'm some kind of..."He took a deep, scared breath.>you can tell me whatever, Jude>what, that you're gay?
>>4694273>you can tell me whatever, Judeit's a sensitive subject, let him say it himself
>>4694273>you can tell me whatever, Jude
inb4 he's actually a para too
"You can tell me whatever Jude," I said, "It's cool.""I..." he started, "It's stupid right? Being nervous about saying it, but I'm...different, you know. I like, you know how you like girls? Well, I..."I waited patiently for him to find his words and the courage to say them."Yeah," he said, "Yeah I'm...I think I might be gay." He flinched, he looked sick.I shrugged. "I can dig it," I said, "It's not like you're the only gay person I know. Hell we got a couple trans-kids at school. It's no biggie.""But that's Chicago," he said, "Not Podunk Indiana."I shrugged. "Yeah, maybe," I said, "I guess its still a bit behind the times back there.""A bit," Jude said, "There's this guy at school, Tyler. We...I kind of think we might both be...but he says 'fag' a lot and whenever we're around other guys he acts like we never..."I didn't need the explicit details, and maybe he saw my discomfort so he skipped over them."He said it was just a goof and we laughed about it, or I pretended to," he said, sitting on his bunk, "I just wish I could tell someone.""Can't you talk to Molly?" I said.He smiled bitterly. "And have her start calling me her little sister? Nah. I tried telling Esther once but she was busy falling for her skeezebag music teacher.""Well you've told me and I'm cool with it," I said, "Maybe your sibs will surprise you. I might be living in Chicago now but I'm as much a hoosier as any of you guys. It isn't the 50s anymore.""In some places," Jude said. Hearing Grandma go on about Mexicans probably hadn't boosted his confidence. "Just...don't tell any-" There was a knock on the door and Auntie Liz stuck her head in. Jude shut up quick, blushing."Have either of you seen Esther?" she said, "She isn't in her room."A spike of concern went up my back. Last I'd seen her she'd been packing a bag like she'd planned to run away. Maybe she had gone."Not since the game," Jude said, "Why?"Auntie Liz chewed the inside of her mouth. "Nothing, maybe it's nothing," she said, "She might've just stepped out for air." She drew out of the doorway leaving me and Jude alone again."Should we look for her?" Jude said, twinning his fingers in his lap.>can't hurt>she'll be fine
"Can't hurt," I said.We stepped out. Jude was a little withdrawn for having shared his secret with me, maybe looking for his sister could take his mind off it. We checked upstairs but found nothing, though I saw her bag was still on her bed. She wasn't out the front, so we crunched through the dark snow around to the back.A neighborhood dog barked in the distance. It was only when I saw the snowflakes starting to speckle and melt on my arm that I realized it was snowing at all. Not enough to send anyone racing in doors. Still the little light out came from the surrounding homes, warm yellow light washing out into the darkness of an early winter. If it was snowing here I could imagine the bruising cold up north. Right now I was fine in a t-shirt and my denim jacket.We heard the soft sound of voices coming up from near the pond, then the slice of skates on ice. We slowed down.Esther circled the frozen pond, blades whisking under her, wrapped in a scarf with a home knit beanie. Exhertion sent mist puffing from her lips. She wasn't the one talking.TJ stood on the ice watching."-jerks, but they do care about you. I know its hard to tell, like when Dad-""Do you care about me?" Esther asked, attention kept on her pond sized circuit, circling her brother."You know I do," he said, "Or I thought you did, with that creep, you could have-""What, told you?" she said, "So you'd go beat him up? Or maybe kill him? Then I guess I could visit you in jail. Maybe come visit you on death row.""I don't know why you were even messing around with that guy," TJ growled."He makes me feel...made me feel...needed," she said, "Wanted. Special.""Shit, I could tell you you're special," TJ said, "Anyone could tell you're special.""Special in the head?" Esther said, scratching to a stop. She flicked out her dark hair, face half-seen in the dark. They hadn't noticed us."Special," TJ said, stepping closer to her, "Like the music you play or...""Or?" she said, looking her brother over. She turned away, starting to skate again. "Do you think I'm pretty?""What kind of question..." he said."Mr Lang made me feel pretty," she said, skating faster, racing."Of course I think you're pretty," TJ said, "Everyone knows you're pretty, you know you're pretty. Let's go inside, its getting cold.""So say it," Esther said, she stopped but her momentum had her slide on toward her brother. "If you think I am, say it."She slowed to a full stop in front of him. TJ looked down on her."You're pretty," he said."Prettier than your girlfriend?" she said."Prettier than any girl I've met," he said, taking her hands, pulling her closer, "And you're my sister and I love you.""Like a sister?" she asked up at him."Yes," he said, "No, shit, I don't know. You get me all screwed up Es. You've always screwed me up.""Remember when you realized I was adopted?" she said, "You promised you'd marry me.""Hell I was six," he said."I didn't forget," she said.
I looked to Jude and thought 'you aren't the most fucked up one in your family'. He was stuck staring at his brother and sister, all the color drained out of him."You scare the shit out of me, Esther," TJ said. And his hands went from her hands to her waist in a non-brotherly way."I didn't know I was scary," she said, resting her hands on his chest, not at all sisterly."You're terrifying," he said.They leaned close together in the dark.> cough - loudly>better not to interupt whatever this is
>>4694473oooh shit don't know whether or not to intervene here.
>>4694473>better not to interupt whatever this isNew title unlocked: Keeper of Secrets
>>4694473>>better not to interupt whatever this iswhy not, its not like the babies they'll make would be inbred anyways.
>>4694473>better not to interupt whatever this is
>>4694473>better not to interupt whatever this isWhat are you doing, step-bro?
>>4694473>better not to interupt whatever this isOur family is fucked up, but if they do end up going to New York together then they should take Jude with em Also, I really want to deck our uncle's stupid face
>>4694473>"YOOOO LMAO WHEN'D WE MOVE TO ALABAMA"
>>4694862It's>NBRso it's all okay
Whatever was going on here was none of my business.I grabbed Jude by the shoulder."We should go," I said. Jude nodded, shook up. And he thought coming out was the worst thing he'd have to do today. At least we knew where Esther was, and hadn't run out to meet up with her music teacher.We slipped back inside quiet as we could be. Their parents were still looking for Esther, Auntie Liz chewing her nails, eyeing the front door as if she had a mind to call the police. When Esther came in the back door, shaking snow out of her coat with laced up skates in hand, Auntie Liz sighed with relief."You silly girl, we were worried about you," she said."Nothing to worry about Mom, I was just out the back," Esther said, then kissed her mom on the cheek before heading up to her room."Hold on young lady, we need to talk," Uncle Tony started toward her.But then TJ ambled in, put himself between his dad and the staircase. "Back off," he said. They eyed each other, measuring each other up. Uncle Tony had to see TJ was bigger than him now, maybe stronger than him too. Uncle Tony had got fat after leaving the Marines while TJ was iron fit from weekday football drills and time in the gym. If things got physical it wouldn't be one sided.But it didn't get physical, Uncle Tony backed down. Maybe he saw his son was more a man than he had realized. Either way, TJ stalked up the stairs following his sister. Both Jude and I looked at each other uncomfortably.Strains of 'Sweet Home Alabama' played in my head. They weren't blood related but whatever they had going on was still weird.It was at breakfast the next morning where things were more uncomfortable, for me at least. Grandma had made a big waffle breakfast, lots of eggs and fried bacon to go with it, all glazed with Canadian maple syrup. Should have been a treat, but I couldn't help but notice the looks TJ and Esther kept trading over the breakfast table. Jude looked just as uncomfortable while everyone else kept going about their business like nothing was going on.But it was Thanksgiving morning, so everyone was preoccupied."-pick up my brother from the airport," Uncle Tony said."We're happy to have him over," Grandma said, filling up Uncle Tony's coffee cup."If I have to eat one of your dry-ass biscuits," Dad grumbled to Auntie Liz."I have a new recipe," she said, "And don't judge Mr Can't-Cook."The table conversation burbled on as if TJ and Esther weren't playing footsie under the table.I got a ping on my phone, looked down to a text from Kay.Kay - Happy Turkey Day. Miss you.With a picture of her and Ayesha with a crude half-melted snowman in the Whitman drive.Then another text, with a picture. It was Kemal, scowling at a bacon muffin sandwich, half a bite taken out of it.Kemal - Happy Haram day infidel! Allahu Ackbar!I smiled and slipped the phone away.
The radio played a different story from this happy scene."Another para-freak attack in Chicago's downtown last night has left three dead and dozens injured. Spokespeople for the Department of Paranormal Affairs have promised a swift and uncomprimising response.""We are calling on all right thinking citizens to help us root out the paranormally afflicted within the community," Agent Penderose voice came over the speaker, "Until the threat can be contained we will only see further escalation, injury, and death."My blood ran cold. My conversation with Ms Grant ran through my head. I needed to be ready for trouble when I got home."Oh you really shouldn't head back to Chicago," Grandma said, switching it off, "Bad enough with the gangs, but now this?"Grandpa caught my eye over the table."It's not as bad as they make it sound," Dad said."All I know is we need to be ready for when those para-freaks show their faces down here," Uncle Tony said, "Dougie Hicks is organizing a rally for Christmas Day.""Dougie Hicks is a lunatic," Auntie Liz said."Politics, religion, maybe we should add the paranormal to the banned list, hey Eric?" Grandpa said with a chuckle. I smiled.It did make me miss Chicago though, the good and the bad. My heart throbbed for home.>maybe call a friend (who?)>just shake the feeling off, enjoy the day
>>4695332>maybe call a friend (who?)Kay
>>4695332>just shake the feeling off, enjoy the day
>>4695332>maybe call a friend (who?)backing kaysee what's up back home with semper fi and other paras
>>4695332>maybe call a friend (who?)Our secretly a para friend (forgot his name) we need to check up on him and he's the most likely to know what's actually going on since this directly involves him and he's definitely paying attention to all things para
>>4695377Changing to this
>>4695377Yeah this might be better actually
>>4695386>>4695377>>4695396locking that in
With everything going on in Chicago my first instinct was to call Kay, just to hear her voice.But there were other people I was worried about too. I went to the study to make a call, ignoring Kevin on his bunk reading."Hey pal, what's up?" Dane said when he finally picked up the phone."Just checking to see how you're handling the crazy," I said, "I'm down in Indiana but I'm hearing the news.""Man things are wild up here," he said, "Some kid got his head beat out in Aurora 'cause he played guitar too good. Folks just thought he was a para-freak. Turned out he'd just been taking lessons and levelled up. The CCV has everyone paranoid.""The CCV?" I said."Committee for Community Vigilance," he explained. I'd seen a couple of their flyers around. "They're a bunch of churchfolk causing a ruckus.""What about you," I said, "Keeping safe?""I'm okay, having trouble sleeping though."I smiled at the joke."Happy Thanksgiving by the way," he said, "You having fun? My family's putting on a big show this year, probably to drown out the bad news. My grandparents think its the end times, maybe it is.""I'm doing okay," I said, "Just chilling with my cousins.""Hey I was wondering, you know Ivy?" he said, "I was going to ask her to the Winter Ball coming up after the break. You think maybe you could ask her for me? You two are tight."I knew Dane had a thing for Ivy, but I had no idea what the 'Winter Ball' was. Some kind of school dance.>sure I can ask>maybe ask her yourself>I don't think asking her out is a good idea
>>4695417>maybe ask her yourself"She won't respect you if you have someone else ask for you, and she definitely won't say yes."
>>4695417>maybe ask her yourselfjust remembered the romantic clusterfuck waiting for us at home...
"Maybe you should ask her yourself," I said, "She won't respect you if you have someone else ask for you, and she definitely won't say yes.""Yeah, you're right," Dane said, sounding deflated, "She's just kind of scary, you know? All the other girls at school are just girls, but she's like, a woman, you know what I mean?"Maybe I would have if I didn't know Ivy better, there was a time I thought the same way. Her confidence could be intimidating."Just talk to her like a person and you should be fine," I said."Yeah, yeah, like a person," he said. I could feel him nodding. I don't know if they were a good fit, but I guess they could both use the distraction."Let's all go get some 'za when you get back," Dane said, "I feel like the gang hasn't had a proper hang out in a while. Shit I only see Zeke in Apex these days, him being down in Arthur and all.""Sounds good," I said, "Catch you later."Kevin looked up from his book. "Are you done?" he asked as I slipped my phone away."Sorry your majesty," I said, stepping out of the study.It was getting close to the big meal time when the last guest arrived. Grandma had spent the day preparing food with Auntie Liz and her granddaughters to help. Aaron made mischief darting in and out of the kitchen while the rest of us found other things to do.I'd never met Uncle Tony's brother Karl. All I knew was he'd followed his brother into the Marine Corp, but where Uncle Tony was an officer, Karl had been enlisted. He arrived from the airport in a nice dress shirt and pants, and when he took off his coat one of his arms was a prosthetic. One of his legs too, courtesy of an IED. Karl was a pale man going fat around the gut, but not big and beefy like his brother. He looked like he wasn't handling his sleep well, with bruised pits under his eyes and long, limp hair."Uncle Karl!" Aaron raced to hug him. The others shuffled forward more casually."Thank you for your service," Dad said, shaking his prosthetic hand."Hey Joe, none of that please," he said."No way," Uncle Tony said, "You took a step forward when the rest of the country took a step back. You're owed thanks at least.""Heh, I just want my VA bills paid," Karl said, "Look at these kids, getting bigger. Shit, is that little Tommy-Josh? Might start calling you Redwood, big as you've got. And heck, Esther, you're pretty as a picture. Lucky you don't look like these sourpusses." He thumbed at his brother and Auntie Liz."Hey Uncle Karl, bring me something cool?" Molly asked."Cool? I don't know, but I made this junk," he pulled out a necklace with a grenade pin attached, "Figured a screwed up little tomboy like you would dig it.""Fuck yeah," Molly said, taking it."Language!" Aunt Liz said."Shit yeah," Molly said, putting on the necklace.
"You still planning on going into the Marines?" Karl asked Molly. Molly nodded. He waved his prosthetic hand in her face. "Well you didn't get the brains, but you sure got the balls. Do the smart thing though and become a bitch-ass officer like your daddy. Stay behind a desk.""Hell no, I ain't no bitch-ass," Molly said."There's a girl," he said, ruffling her hair with his fake hand."Good to have you, Karl," Grandpa said, shaking his hand."Sir," Karl said with deep respect. Then he noticed me. "Who does this one belong to?" he asked."Joe's boy," Grandpa said, clapping my shoulder, "Eric.""Hi," I said.There was something in his eyes seemed the same as me, I don't know if he saw it, but he drew away uncomfortable."Yeah, nice to meet you," he said, stumping his leg over to the kitchen. Prosthetics had gotten good enough his limp was barely noticeable, but it was there in his gait. It reminded me of Houndmaster, the foul mouthed mercenary who'd tried to kill me on the Sears Tower. I hoped we'd get along better."So what have you been doing with yourself since the discharge?" Uncle Tony asked."Oh, things," Karl replied, loosening his tie, "Some friends have a job offer up in Chicago, so I'll check that out.""What a coincidence, Joe lives up in Chicago these days, maybe he can set you up," Uncle Tony offered Dad's help awfully quick."No problem," Dad said.It prickled a nerve though, former military getting work in Chicago.>ask Uncle Karl about the job>let it slide
>>4695529>ask Uncle Karl about the jobJust pretend we're making small talk"Which part of Chicago is it? I'll have to swing by so I know how to give you a full tour"
>>4695529>ask Uncle Karl about the job
>>4695529>ask Uncle Karl about the jobIs it with the DPA by any chance?
>>4695554>>4695537>>4695533sorry got distracted, locked in
"Oh yeah, which part of Chicago is it in?" I asked, "Maybe I can swing by and give you a tour."Uncle Karl shrugged. "Far as I know its in the down town area. You know Ixion? I got a pal there on the security team and they don't mind a cripple. They get some kind of tax credit for hiring veterans and the disabled, so I'm a twofer."Ixion. The prickle in my nerves turned to an electric jolt. They were bad news no matter what, and I'd hate to think I'd have to bust open my cousins' uncle's head sometime in the near future."You're working construction, aren't you Joe?" Auntie Liz said, "Getting a bit old for that line of work aren't you.""There's older guys in the work crew," Dad said, a little self-concious."Maybe Karl can get you work, I'm sure a big company like Ixion needs a janitor or two," Uncle Tony said.Dad didn't say anything as we got called in for the start of Thanksgiving dinner.A fat, juicy turkey made a centerpiece for the table, with dishes arrayed out from it. Potato salad, greens, biscuits and gravy, cranberries, with pumpkin pie waiting for dessert. It was a feast looked like too much for the family about to set into it. It had me think as Uncle Tony sliced off a chunk of turkey, how the guys at the gym would be spending Thanksgiving, stuck in halfway homes or foster care. Guys like Stink and Kobi who had no family to feast with, no thanks to give but another hard done year with another hard year to come. Misfit on the run, hiding out in some abandoned part of Chicago keeping an eye out for the cops, too desperate to do more than be glad she wasn't behind bars, her Thanksgiving meal a scavenged can of beans.Or even the junky Hector living rough, out in the cold searching for a fix, while worse criminals like Rooster or Navaja were living in the luxury of organized crime.How was Luis doing? Had he closed up shop early, given D-Mark the day off? Was D-Mark back with his girl or kicking it with Smokey some place? Or were they grinding out every hour they could for a little bit more cash.Was Ivy alone today or with Ayesha's people? Was she missing the piece of her buried with Grace or finding it filled just today in the warm company of the Carvers?It was hard out there.But I was here."So Juilliard, pretty fancy," Uncle Karl said, passing Esther the plate of biscuits, "New York City can be pretty wild though, you sure you'll be okay?""I'll manage," she said."And what about you TJ," he said, "Heard you're a football superstar now, looking to get drafted, maybe play for the Bears?"TJ shrugged, swirling his peas."TJ is going to Indiana U," Auntie Liz said."Maybe," TJ said."College isn't a maybe thing," Uncle Tony said, "You get yourself a degree. Can't get a good job without a degree.""Look at your Uncle Joe, he dropped out," Auntie Liz said, "You tell him Joe. Tell him what he's got waiting without a degree."
Dad glared at his dinner plate. A bitter taste filled my mouth, listening to them casually dunk on my dad."I'm not exactly a brain," TJ said."You don't need brains to get into college," Auntie Liz said."I think TJ can do what he wants," Esther said over a glass of cola, "And he's not stupid. You aren't stupid.""Did I say he was stupid?" Auntie Liz said, offended."Oh lord," Jude groaned down at his lap."Don't you start grumbling," his dad said, "I haven't heard anything out of you about the future. When are you going to get a part time job? Maybe with a job you'll finally get a girlfriend."Jude's cheeks flushed pink."My baby is just a late bloomer is all," Auntie Liz said, reaching over to pinch his cheeks."Don't coddle the boy, Elizabeth," Uncle Tony said, "You want him going sissy?""Problematic much?" Molly laughed, playing with the grenade pin on her new necklace."Too late for that," Kevin muttered through a yawn."Excuse me?" Auntie Liz hissed."Nothing," Kevin said with a lazy smile, "I mean it's not like its the weirdest thing going on.""You got a girlfriend TJ?" Uncle Karl said, "Guy like you I bet you got a couple.""Not anymore," TJ said, "We broke up.""With Tiffany?" Uncle Karl said, looking annoyed, "Well that's too bad, she was a nice girl.""She was a bimbo," Esther muttered."Well don't let it get you down," Tony said, "Plenty fish in the sea. You'll bounce back.""I broke up with her," TJ said."What, why?" his dad said, "If you think you could do better than 'that', son, maybe you don't have brains."Esther's fist slammed down on the table. "Stop. Calling. Him. Stupid." The look she had for her dad was full of so much fury it had him flinch."You do 'not' talk to your father that way," Auntie Liz started."I'll talk however I GODDAMN want!" Esther was up out of her chair, red in her cheeks, "I'm done being your-your-your little doll, your little rescue.""You don't talk like that while you're living under our roof," Uncle Tony started, "You ungrateful...god, if you had any gratitude you'd...you don't know how good you have it.""Shut up Dad," now it was TJ's turn to get up from his chair, "Shut up. Don't talk to her like that, don't ever talk to her like that.""Or what, big man?" Uncle Tony got up out of his chair, "You want to prove you're a man, step outside."I exchanged a look with Dad, then Grandpa. There was a distinct look of 'what the hell is going on' between them. Auntie Liz for her part looked ready to cry."Come on Dad," TJ said, "Whoop on me some more. I ain't a kid no more, I won't just take the belt.""Oh I'll give you a full adult asskicking boy," Uncle Tony snapped."I'm gay," Jude said."Come on, I'm ready for you," TJ said, starting to circle the table. Esther grabbed him before he could get far, pulled herself in front of him, toward him. Pulled herself too close, too intimate."Don't," she said as TJ snarled above her head.
"What's this about?" their dad snarled, "I don't like this...this...what is this?"TJ put an arm around her, staring wide eyes at his dad."I made out with Tyler Chapman down by the river!" Jude shouted.Now that was an annoucement. I pushed my dinner plate away as everyone turned their attention on Jude."We weren't just hanging out, we were fooling around and we...we went nearly all the way," Jude said, standing up, staring at nothing while red all over. "And I liked it, it was fun, and I hope I get to do it again."Everyone else stared at him in stone faced silence. Except Dad, who shrugged. "Good for you kid," he said with a toast of his glass."Are you sure?" Auntie Liz said."No shit you're gay," Molly said, "But Tyler? That's some bad taste.""Finally," TJ said, "Shit I knew you were gay since you was twelve and got way too into She-Ra. What took you so long?"But Jude was only looking at his dad now, waiting for a response. Uncle Tony didn't know how to react.>Happy Thanksgiving everyone>since we're doing confessions, I'm a para-freak
>>4695679>Happy Thanksgiving everyone
>>4695679>Happy Thanksgiving everyoneThis is some damn good turkey.
>>4695679>Happy Thanksgiving everyoneHahaha oh manBullpen you can really write
>>4695679>since we're doing confessions, I'm a paraNo freak dammitThat's discriminatory language that perpetuates a bias against our kind.
>>4695679>>Happy Thanksgiving everyone>>since we're doing confessions, I'm a para
"Happy Thanksgiving everyone," I said.Their eyes all turned to meAnd then Kevin started laughing.-see you guys tomorrow for Hotspur's return to Chicago
I hope you guys have enjoyed this little vacation.
>>4695739Yeah it was nice, I missed being a superhero and the characters from Chicago though
>>4695739Absolutelywhat a family we have
We took the Gary route home, on account of the weather. Dad kept the windows up and the doors locked. If the South Side of Chicago was bad, Gary was the South Side of the South Side, like a little chunk of Detroit had snapped off and floated down Lake Michigan. Thanksgiving had overall been an awkward, semi-hostile day, so overall an average Thanksgiving, but it was while driving through the rundown streets of Gary Dad turned to me in the car and said."You know, we could be doing a lot worse."Say that for the breakdown in his sister's family, Auntie Liz had been holding her nose over Dad the whole trip but by the time we left she'd lost whatever ground she'd had as the illusion of a happy family came tumbling down. I wished my cousins all the best but I was relieved to get out of there. I'll take Salamander kicking me repeatedly in the head over more of their drama.Coming into Chicago we hit a traffic gridlock, other folks coming home from their holidays piling into the city. We slowed to a crawl, then to a stop, and getting home took until sunset.Mrs Valdez came out to welcome us home, and collect the keys to the car she'd loaned us."Welcome back," she said, "Did you enjoy your trip?""More or less," I said. Mostly I was looking forward to having my own space again.The mangy cat that hung outside my window came stalking along to rub itself against my leg as Dad unpacked the bags. Mrs Valdez and her daughter helped us hike the bags inside and up the stairs, where Dad shoved the door open and flung the bags down inside."Oh, you have a letter," Mrs Valdez said, handing it over to me. There was only one letter I was expecting, and the return address said 'Stateville Correctional Center'. I stuffed it away for now.I stretched out my back, happy to be home but happier to be out of the car. Our humble apartment was dead cold, the heat left off while we were gone. Dad fumbled with the thermostat as I went in and aired out my room. A stack of homework sat on my desk. Oddly enough I was looking forward to going back to school.But for now I opened the letter from the prison. The letter was short, the writing clipped and formal.'Dear Nephew,I've added you and your Uncle Luis to my visitor's list. It is an awfully short list.Your Uncle Andrew.'I folded the letter up and slipped it into my desk.I breathed in the musty smell of my room.I was home.And now that I was home, Hotspur was home too, and from the infrequent news reports it looked like I had a lot of work to catch up on.>pick a primary and secondary focus>catch up with Kay and my friends>get back to crime fighting and beat down some crooks>keep up the investigation into the Chicago Explosion>come back from break ready for school, study hard>train, train, train
>>4696499>get back to crime fighting and beat down some crooks>keep up the investigation into the Chicago Explosion
>>4696499>keep up the investigation into the Chicago Explosion>train, train, trainShits getting real soon, we need to get to the bottom of this while people think Hotspur is still gone and be ready for war
>>4696499>get back to crime fighting and beat down some crooks>come back from break ready for school, study hard
>>4696591>>4696539>>4696539>>4696504we'll call crime fighting the primary focus and investigating the chicago explosion as the secondary onelocked in
I'd been gone a week, but a week was enough. Dad went to bed early, tired from the drive, and I ducked out the fire escape, making my way to my hideout. It had been a week without using my powers, so I was eager to cut loose. The chill had me pumping fire just to keep warm though, as I jogged down the darkening streets. Sun set early this time of year, and with the polar vortex being all wacky like it was the temperature could drop and drop quick. I was hoping the colder it would get the less crime would be going on.So far it wasn't that cold yet.In my hideout I found my suit hung up with a note attached.'Some adjustments made - Grant'I pulled it on, appreciating the snug fit. I was starting to show ankle over the last month but now it was back to being tailored neat, better for my thickening upper body too. My arms and chest were getting bigger from all the boxing training, though I wasn't any kind of bodybuilder.With my mask pulled up and goggles set, I figured it was time.I went out into the winter burned field, took a short run, then leapt.Cold air rushed down my lungs as I exploded up into the night. Sharp and cutting, it took my powers to dull it out. But the whip of the wind as I punched through gravity was as joyful as ever. My whoop ripped out behind me as I sailed down the night, landing hard on a roof top in a crouch.I had missed this. Fire pumping through me, covering a city block in a single bound, free from the clutch of gravity and unbound by the rules of nature. I had a mission but for now I just took joy in the act of moving, happy to be home among the rooftops of Chicago.I didn't have to go far though before I remembered where I was and what I was about.Bursts from a distance could have been firecrackers, but I knew better. Hot flashes from the muzzles as gunfire burst from one street corner to another, hoods battling it out and an intersection, music blaring from a speaker knocked over in the rush for cover. Black and brown faces spied each other out from behind cars and around corners, guns hefted up to fire wild lest they risk their own neck.So far I didn't see any casualties, a good time to intervene.I landed on a car between the warring street boys."Sup," I said, the gunplay stopping in a drift of smoke."Oh shit, its Hotspur," one of them said. I smiled behind my mask."Yo, the Cartel is paying top dollar for his scalp.""Smoke that motherfucker!"My smile dropped. For a split second I'd ended their feud without throwing a punch, mostly because their guns turned on me.I leapt free of the car roof as gunfire burst around me, dodging bullets as I flung myself up to catch a street light, swinging myself around to land among the right side bangers. No one was stupid enough to fire a shot off when I was weaving around their friends, dropping one after another with a jab then a hook. When they went down they didn't get up.
None of them were much older than me, and when they saw their bullets miss and my fist close in, shock was replaced with a kind of regret as I hammered them down.I still had the other side to deal with though, and they weren't shy about gunplay.I leapt up and overhead, glad none of them was any good at leading a target. They put up as much a fight as their rivals, but they all went down. Except the last one, who through down his gun and took a seat on a stoop, looking beaten."Shit, you think a few broken jaws is going to stop the Haitian?" he said, "Those motherfuckers'll be back tomorrow. Niggas like him don't give up."I'd heard that name before, from another banger not long ago."Whose the Haitian?" I said.The gangster spat at the name. "A buckwild nigga out of the South Side, runs the Voodoo Kings, or did. Now he's building something bigger. He been snatching up all kinds of territory lately, rolling with heavy artillery. Surprised you ain't heard of him.""I've been out of town," I said.The gangster stuck out his chin. "Well then go ahead, knock me out. I don't want to be the only nigga here got to explain why he don't got a black eye."I felt kind of bad about it, so I pulled the blow when I put him down. He slumped back on the stoop.Another player in the game, I thought, and one putting out bodies. Just what I needed.If that was the only thing on my mind it might be okay, but I had a mystery to solve too. I made a note to reach out to Dr Zamani as soon as possible.I bounded down the west side, appreciating the new street art gone up since I'd been gone.One caught my eye, had a kind of religious thing to it all sharp and jagged among the usual scrawls. 'Lie in the Truth - World Without End.'It was under it I found a shivering homeless guy trying to make himself small as he was crowded around by a trio of white guys, all with bats in hand."Keep coming back here," one said, the light and sound of a bar behind him, "Stinking up the place. Smell like piss.""Smells like shit to me," another said, "Shit on my shoe."He drove a kick into the bum's ribs.The bum coughed. "Please, come on," he said, trying not to retch, "I was just stopping for a minute.""Minute too long, bum," another kick, then the bat was raised. The homeless guy flinched.I landed behind them."Yo," I said. They checked over their shoulder, too late to do anything about it.When they were down I peeled off one of their jackets, a nice fleece lined jacket, and handed it to the bum."Bunch of jagoffs," I said."Th-thanks," the homeless guy said, pulling the jacket around his shoulders.I could understand a criminal, trying to make paper, I didn't get this kind of meanness. Beating up on the helpless and the desperate.
"You got a shelter you can get to?" I said. Homeless dude shook his head. Somethings I couldn't do anything about. "Well keep your head and take care.""Thanks Hotspur," he said, as I launched out into the night again.When I swung back for home I'd done a little bit of good, broken up fights, pulled a guy off a woman in an alley, stuff like that. Cutting short the little evils giving people a chance to get home safe. It filled up my nights and left me yawning by sunrise.But there were bigger crooks to catch. The Outfit, the Cartel, and now this Haitian. And then there were the goons I couldn't touch. People like Agent Penderose and the DPA. I had my allies but it always felt like too few.Then there was school, life, everything going with it.I rolled up the first day back to class tired from busting heads.Say one thing, there was the reward of a pretty girl hooking my arm and kissing my cheek. Kay grinned up at me as I went warm all over and my powers had nothing to do with it."Welcome home buster," she said, "Missed you.""Missed you too," I said, then kissed her on the lips.She pulled away. "Before we get too lovey-dovey," she said, "I heard a rumor. It's probably bullshit, but I do need to know. Someone told me you kissed Ivy before going away. Is that true?"My spine froze. It was true, but I could tell from Kay's smile she didn't believe it. And if I told her, could I convince her it hadn't been romantic? It was a difficult thing to explain, I had trouble understanding it myself and I'd done it.>It's true, but not what you think>They're spinning bullshit, it didn't happen
>>4696714>It's true, but not what you think
>>4696714>It's true, but not what you thinkIt was during her sister's funeral in the height of emotion, and she kissed us, and she kissed Ayesha too so I think that was just how she deals with grief and I'm sorry.
There was no way to not be uncomfortable, standing in the cold outside the school as the other stdents piled in to escape the chill.And the fact I hesitated had Kay frown, eyes glittering with suspicion above the freckles on her cheeks."I...yeah, I did," I said. The sharp breath was like she'd seen a snake, her face washed of color. "But it's not," I said, "Not like what you might think. We kissed, but she kissed Ayesha too. It was at the funeral and she was really emotional and it was just...it was comfort. It was a comfort thing.""Comfort, what the fuck does comfort mean?" she said, "I don't stick my tongue down a boy's throat everytime I feel sad.""It wasn't like that. It was grief," I said, "It was a grief kiss. Kay. It's just what she needed.""I know what that slut needs," Kay fumed. When I tried to touch her she pushed me back. "Don't, Eric, don't try anything. Don't make excuses for her, and don't act like there was nothing else going on."My heart drummed against my chest, panicking like I was watching something fall apart. I tried to grab her arm but she pulled it away."Look, talk to Ayesha," I said, "She was there. Ivy kissed her too. She can explain better than me.""So was this before or after you took her to a restaurant? I heard about that too, from Ayesha. She said you were both following her, it was innocent, but...but then you kiss the next day?""There's a reason," I fumbled, but the fury on Kay's face went cold, a stillness more threatening than any kind of explosion of rage."There's always a reason," she said. I thought she was going to slap me, but she didn't. Maybe that was worse. She glared at the grass, mouth puckered to spit.>I'm sorry, I'll make it up to you>You're being unreasonable
>>4696832>I'm sorry, I'll make it up to you
>>4696832>You're being unreasonable
>>4696832>I'm sorry, I'll make it up to youThere wasn't even tongue!right?
"I'm sorry, I'll make it up to you," this time I grabbed her arm, pulling her closer, "Believe me, Kay, it didn't mean anything."Her fury gave way to hesitation. "All right," she said, "I'll give you a chance, but don't mess with me Eric. You won't get a second one.""I know," I said. The last thing I wanted was to lose her.But I wish I could say she was the most important thing on my mind. Unfortunately there were other things going on in the city, Hotspur things.For one my friend Misfit was still on the run, hiding out from both the law and the various crime families she'd tussled with. Word was she had a bounty on her head same as me, courtesy of the Russians. I'd asked Ms Grant to help her out, but I needed to run that down, check it out. The other thing was Navaja. I had her face but not her name, and getting into her corporate brothel in Sears Tower would be impossible as things stood. I needed to find another way to close the noose around her neck.And lastly there was Dr Zamani and his investigation into the mysterious stone, the one both Ixion and the shadowy government organization stalking Chicago were after.If I could split myself into three I'd handle all of them at once, unfortunately I'm just one para with a good right hook.>track down Misfit and help her out>keep working the Navaja case>arrange to meet up with Dr Zamani
>>4696916>track down Misfit and help her outWe owe her
>>4696916>track down Misfit and help her out
I'm having some internet problems, I'll be back tomorrow
>>4696916>track down and help Misfit
>>4696916>track down Misfit and help her outWe don't have very many friends
God I hate Kay. Literally incapable of listening. Fucking drama queen.
>>4697126Amen brother, why anons have such shit taste I'll never know, that was literally the perfect time to just get rid of her and her bullshit while staying true to our character of a stupid teen boy!
>>4696916>track down Misfit and help her outHotspur here to save the day
>>4697273I'm kinda worried she's petty enough to snitch if the relationship ends on bad terms.
>>4697501She'll 100% will, the anons thinking with their dick were completely fucking retarded. We've gotten dozens of redflags so far, she's your sterortypical manipulative roasite upped to a extremeShe doesn't trust us, she's constantly paranoid, she takes issue with other female friendships, she uses emotional leverage to try to make us feel bad, she's quick to assume the worst scenario that we're balls deep within another woman. It's just not a healthy relationshipHer behaviour with Ivy just in general says it all really.
>>4697501Yeah i can see she snitching, if things end up bad between them.
locking in 'track down Misfit'
I made a promise to take Kay out on a date. Waveland Bowl again. Maybe going to the place we'd first got together would calm her down.But as concerned about her asw I was, I was more concerned about Misfit. The police wanted to lock her up, but the Russians wanted her dead. They'd put a bounty of half a million on her head, big numbers getting anyone's attention. It almost felt like the cops and the Russians were working together to flush her out.Misfit mostly worked in the South West, and there were plenty of patrol cars out down that way, driving slow and checking every rundown flophouse and empty storefront. I'd heard even Semper Fi was keeping an eye out for her, promising the mayor to 'bring the villain to justice'.If I had bad PR sometimes Misfit had no PR, and everyone bought into the idea she was some 'para-freak killer'. That's the line the newspapers were running with. No one read the papers anymore but they still saw the headlines, and it was enough to set a narrative.The only person I knew had her interests at heart were Ms Grant, but when I called her I got bad news."I can't risk looking for her," Ms Grant said, "It's hard enough giving the DPA goons the slip, I'd do more harm than good if one follows me to where she's hiding."A fair point."But I can give you something for her that might help."Ms Grant left an envelope for me with a busker outside Wrigley Field. I knew it was her from the handwriting on the envelope and the way the busker smiled when he called her 'pretty'.Inside was the shape of a key, some kind of safe house, an address maybe. Good enough for me.Making some excuse to Dad about meeting friends down the Loop, I spent my afternoons searching a few of the haunts I knew were hers.Broken glass crunched under my boot as I stalked through the grit-strewn backyard of an abandoned repair shop, the windows boarded up, the walls marked with crude graffiti. 'FYRE FYRE' was scrawled in large red letters. I ran a finger along one of the boards, peering into the gloom inside. Crumpled up takeout bags lay strewn across the floor.It was cold out. I expected it'd be cold out until March at least, the only question was how cold. A bad time to be on the run."Misfit," I called to the cold air, "Yo Misfit."I turned with a sigh. Another false lead. But then I stopped at the sound of an engine slowing to a rumbling stop, a headlight cutting across the backyard.She kicked out the stand of her bike, a bright white orb growing in the cup of her hand."You want trouble motherf-" she trailed off, letting the glowing ball wink out of existence."Hotspur?" Misfit said, getting down from her bike. "Shit homie you're a sight to see."She strode over and grabbed me in a hug, laughing as she swung me off my feet."Fuck," she said, "Good to see a friendly face!"
She dropped me then pulled up her grinning skull mask to bare her chin. A bandage covered her left cheek, and her smile was tired. Her bike leathers were patched with different strips of leather, giving it a motlled hide."Where you been?" she said."Out of town," I said, "Saw some family for Thanksgiving.""That's good!" she said, "Good to have family. Good to take care of yourself.""I heard the news," I said, "Came to find you first thing.""You're a pal," she said, scratching a scab on her neck.I handed over Grant's envelope. "I also got you something."She tore open the enevelope. It's like I thought, an address and a key."Some place out in...Evanston? Classy," she said, "This some kind of safehouse?""I'm hoping so," I said.She put the key in her jacket pocket."Coming in clutch, thanks," she said, "I'm not breaking but they're running me down hard, no joke. It started getting me to wonder how much longer I could hold out.""Helps to have friends," I said."Yep," she said, "Speaking of friends, you doing okay? You got a look like something's on your mind. Girl trouble?""How can you tell?" I said."The look on your face," she said."I'm wearing a mask," I said. Misfit flashed a grin. I sighed. "Yeah, me and my girl had a fight. We're good though. I think""Bitches can be like that," Misfit said with sage understanding, "You want a drink or something? I got an icebox inside."Before I could say yes the hard crunch of gravel cut me off. We turned to the back entrance.A long, lean body swung under a break in the fence, hands hanging in her pockets, whistling. Salamander straightened up. I heard the click of car doors outside. Salamander looked around the yard like she didn't see us, cocking her head this way then that, whistling. It might have been cold out but you wouldn't know it from how Salamander dressed, in smart trousers and suspenders over a silk dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to her elbows, wing tipped shoes. Dark eyes brightened with good humor when she turned her attention on us."I came looking for one and I find myself two," she said, "My lucky day.""Whose this bitch?" Misfit said, drawing the wrench from her side."Hotspur hasn't told you about me?" Salamander seemed genuinely hurt, "And I popped your cherry too." She took her hands from her pockets and snapped them forward, then brushed them back through her hair. "The name's Salamander, pleasure to meet you. I'm here for the half mil on your head, but I'm also here for a good time. If Hotspur is here, it'll be a great time! Just let me know when you're ready."My ears prickled. There must have been four or five guys waiting outside, waiting on their boss. Salamander grinned, slouching as she waited for us.
"She's crazy," Misfit said."And dangerous," I said. Last time I'd fought Salamander one on one she'd put me in the hospital. But I'd been a whole lot greener then than I am now."Leave her to me," Misfit said, starting forward."Wait," I said, grabbing Misfit's jacket sleeve.>I'll fight Salamander>We'll fight Salamander together>Wish Misfit good luck
>>4697788>We'll fight Salamander together
>>4697788>I'll fight Salamander
sorry for the late start
I think this time around we need to use different tactics. She has better training in fighting but our speed and mobility has her beat. We need to rely more on that than straight up boxing her.
>>4697788>We'll fight Salamander togetherLet's turn up the temp
>>4697856>>4697799>>4697793locking it in
Misfit looked back, pulling down her mask."Salamander's no joke," I said, "We'll fight her together."A smile lit Misfit's eyes. "Okay, let's fuck her up."We bumped fists stepping forward, Salamander looming before us.Salamander's smile grew into a wild grin."Oh boy!" she said, "Oh boy now this'll be fun!"She dropped into a fighting stance, front knee raised and hands open in front of her.Last time we'd fought I'd had a week's worth of boxing lessons and barely a month out as a superhero. I was more honed now, and I wasn't alone, but we still had to be careful. Salamander knew her business.I went one way, Misfit the other, her cherry red wrench in hand. Salamander's attention flicked between us, her grin fixed."All right," Salamander said, "Let's dance!">roll 3 x 1d100+15 dc 80
Rolled 37 + 15 (1d100 + 15)>>4697894Oh god even with help she's dc 80
Rolled 75 + 15 (1d100 + 15)>>4697894Let's fuck her up like we did Houndmaster
>>4697910barring a critfail, that's a pass
Rolled 53 + 15 (1d100 + 15)>>4697894Aw shit here we go again
Rolled 8 + 15 (1d100 + 15)>>4697894
>>4697910Let's fucking gooooo
Power fuelled me. Rematch, and time to settle a score. I went high, Misfit went low.Salamander split the difference. She leapt and her kick caught me in the chest, a burst of flame washing over me as it drove the wind up out of my throat. But a flash from Misfit's palm dazzled Salamander. She stepped back, eyes clutched shut. I slapped the flames away from my chest, a dark scorch mark on the fabric. But if I thought a light blinding would slow Salamander down I was mistaken.She punched forward, a stream of fire bursting from her fist, clearing us back."You ever watch Avatar?" Salamander asked, eyes half opening."What, the cartoon with the lesbian?" I said. confused for a second."Nah, not the Korra horseshit, AVATAR! Aang, Zuko, Azula," she said, "Avatar, the Last Airbender!"I don't know what the fuck she was going on about."I don't watch cartoons, puta," Misfit said."Well I'm the goddamn Fire Lord!" Salamander clapped her hands together and a ring of fire burst from around her. I ducked under as the fire swept over Misfit's leathers. The next thing I knew she drove her knee into Misfit's chin, driving in under the cover of the flames. "Goddamn Sagat Tiger King, motherfucker!"Misfit's head whipped back. Jesus.I lunged for them, driving a hook under Salamander's ribs. It made her spit with pain, turn away from Misfit. She tried to dunk a hook right onto my head. I spun out, fire whisking down past me. I put a kick of my own, a toe to her shin. I haven't trained those styles much, but a boot driven with my own fire did its job. She drew her knee back, caught between us, looking one way then the other.Misfit came forward with her wrench, swinging for Salamander's head. But back alley brawling wasn't a match for skills forged in the octagon. She bobbed her head back, snapped a punch to counter. Misfit swore, a stain spreading under her nose, darkening the grin of her skull. But while she was doing that I was coming in. Salamander turned in time to catch my uppercut up under her ribs, a white knuckle glow left under her breast.She kicked me in the chest to clear me off, wheezing."Goddamn," she said, panting, "Goddamn Hotspur, that's good shit!"She ran at me, rising into a flying knee, fire driving her hurtling forward, laughing wild.I side-lunged out of the way. She was quick, so was I. She was strong, so was I. She had an edge on training, but with Misfit setting off light bomb bursts around her, the edge was dulled. Salamander shook her head, blinking out the spots.Misfit roared as she charged in to tackle the gangster. A mistake, Salamander caught her around the shoulders, starting driving her knees up into Misfit's belly. But it was the opening I needed. I came hurtling in, a heavy right to the side of Salamander's head. It was her turn to whip her head back, but when she did she hauled Misfit around, threw her into me. We slammed into each other hard.
We went down rolling together across the gravel-strewn yard. When we stopped I pushed up off Misfit's chest, getting up on unsteady feet, panting. Misfit groaned at my feet.Salamander panted, leaning on the chain link fence, blood trickling from a cut above her eye."Jesus, you two got some fight in ya," she said, grinning through a smear of blood.I helped Misfit up, helped get her feet under her."She ain't no two bit hood," Misfit said."Yeah," I said, "But we got her.""Come on," Salamander said, spreading her arms wide, "Don't leave a girl waiting!"Misfit snorted blood back up her nostrils. I had a bloody taste in my mouth. Misfit rolled her thumb and forefinger together, a ball of light growing in her palm."I throw, you go," she said.I nodded."Come on!" Salamander said, her grin turning feral, starting forward.Misfit lobbed her light grenade. I shielded my eyes as it burst on Salamander, a wash of light and heat, burning bright. I was running through the white bloom, power pumped through me, running fast, fists ready. Salamander was a dark figure in the white, staggering blind.I drove a fist in her stomach and she gasped, then I whipped a hook around her head as she buckled, drove a right, then opened up. The blinded woman tried to dance away but I was on her, terrier mean, working her, each hit a hammer blow, the two of us dancing in the white, jerking this way and that as a righteous fire drove me forward.When the bloom faded we stood again in the autoshop's backyard. Salamander spat a bloody tooth, feet slipping, her face all bruised up. She grinned, flashing bloody teeth with a dark gap. She raised up her hands, raised up a knee."Jesus," Misfit spat. I bunched my fists, breathing hard as I took up a boxer's stance.Then Salamander's hands lowered, her legs giving out. She dropped to her knees, groaning down at her chest.I lowered my fists, gasping with relief.Then I remembered those guys outside."Boss!" a guy came climbing under the fence, gun in hand. Some tracksuit wearing Outfit jagoff. He saw me and raised up his gun. There were others behind him."No," Salamander croaked on her knees. She was still smiling through the bruises, "No Vin, they got this one.""But boss," he started, "Half a mil-""I said no," Salamander started getting up. Vin caught her before she could fall. She looked back at me, a wild fire in her eyes. "That's one-for-one Hotspur," she said, "Let's have a tie-break soon. And when we do, let's burn down the whole fucking city!""Crazy bitch," Misfit said. I had to agree as Salamander's goons carried her out."We can't stay here," I said."No shit," Misfit pulled up her mask, spat out a glob of blood.>take Misfit back to my hideout for now>escort Misfit to Grant's safehouse>Misfit can take care of herself
>>4698009>escort Misfit to Grant's safehouseSee if her place is nicer than ours
>>4698009>escort Misfit to Grant's safehouseWe gotta get our combat stat up
>>4698009>escort Misfit to Grant's safehouse
Misfit was woozy on her feet. When she stepped toward her motorcycle, I caught her under the arms before she could fall."You might have a concussion," I said."Damn," she said, "And I didn't have that many brain cells to start with."I snorted with laughter as I helped her stand."I'll get you to the safehouse," I said, slinging her hands around my neck, "Just hang on tight.""Wait, why?" she startedm but before I gave any answer she swore and tightened her grip around my neck as I rocketed up into the sky. With power blazing hiking her was no big deal, but the shrill scream in my ear kind of sucked. After our first landing on a distant roof though it settled into sharp panting, shaking. "Rollercoaster without the carriage," she gasped, before I took a running lunge back into the sky again.She cursed out until I'd taken her up a couple more times, then settled into a quiet nervousness. On a rooftop on the northside I punched in the address into Google, Misfit sitting her ass down as far from the ledge as possible. Okay, not too far. Nice."Wait, wait, wait," she said, holding up a hand and shivering before I picked her up again. "Christ," she said, "Give a girl a second to breathe." She steadied herself."Are you scared of heights?" I said, smiling under my mask."Fuck you," she replied, getting up. But she stayed far from the edge of the building."Come on, we're almost there."She grabbed me tight by the shoulders and I grabbed her under the thighs, piggybacking her up the rest of the way. She was quiet this time, her eyes squeezed shut.I landed in the backyard of the given address, a dog barking in the distance, skidding to a stop under a tall evergreen tree. I dumped Misfit onto the grass. I was starting to feel it too, power exhaustion and the injuries from the fight. Crossing all of Chicago in an hour would do that. Technically we weren't even in Chicago no more, out between Skokie and the Lake.Misfit took out the keys from her jacket, stumbled up to the backdoor.It was a two floor residential, a suburban kind of home reminded me a little of my grandparent's place. I don't know how Ms Grant had set it up. Fussing with the lock Misfit got it open, kicking passed the screen door, tracking slush covered boots over a fine wood floor. I trailed her in, wondering if we'd been followed.The inside matched the outside. A white couch that looked like it stained easy sat in front of a flatscreen. The blinds were shut, and should probably stay shut. With any luck no one had seen our orbital arrival, but we couldn't be too careful. There were stairs leading up and a flight leading down. Pictures of a smiling couple sat on the table, an Asian man and a blonde woman.She was vaguely familiar. It took me a second but yeah, she'd come to meet Grant after I'd rescued her from the Outfit.Where ever she was the place was empty.Misfit slumped on the couch, kicking off her boots, flexing her toes.
"They got anything in the fridge?" she asked. I was feeling a bite in my stomach too.The fridge and the pantry were stocked with long life stuff. Cans of beans, processed junk could survive a nuclear winter. Bunkerdown preserves. Ms Grant had been prepared. I cracked a can of pop, threw another to Misfit. She pulled off her skull mask, nose a puffy bruise with dried blood crusted over her top lip. An artful bruise was swelling her left eye. Despite it she smiled, pressing the cold can to her brow. Me I slurped down the drink then went back for a second.There were two numbers written on the fridge. One belonged to Ms Grant, another to someone called Julie Adams. Emergencies only. I guessed Adams was the blonde in the picture.After a moment taking it easy on the couch, Misfit slung up to her feet, zipping off her jacket, down to a sweaty gym top. She threw the jacket over a laz-e-boy and went into the kitchen."I'll fry us up somethin'," she said, "Least I could do."She grabbed some bell peppers out of the crisper, a couple cans of beans and an onion, starting chopping them up while a pan heated on the stove. She whisked it all in, then went hunting for spices. Whatever she added it involved a lot of paprika."Something my abuela used to make," she said, "Bean mix, nice and hot. If there were habaneros I'd add some real fire.""No tortijas but maybe toast will do," she said, popping a couple of slices in the toaster.I watched her cook while nursing a throbbing head. It seemed weird but I didn't take her for the cooking type. Despite her bruises she was smiling, a warm glow in her cheeks. Maybe it was the after-rush of battle or being somewhere warm, but she looked more relaxed than I'd seen her before."Thanks man," she said, stirring the mix on the stove, "I was running out of corners to hide in.""No problem," I said as she served out portions of steaming beans over buttered toast. My belly groaned.It was weird being in someone else's home without them around, particularly in my costume, but Misfit made herself comfortable right away. I guess being half a vagrant you picked up a skill for getting comfortable in strange environments. She set us a place at the dinner table.She tore off a strip of toast to scoop the beans up with, ignoring her spoon.I looked down at the bean mix, my mask still on. I hadn't shown Misfit my face yet, but the beans smelled good.>take off my mask and eat at the table>take the meal to the other room to eat
>>4698185>take off my mask and eat at the tableIn for a pennyRemind her that our identity is technically a secret
>>4698185>tortijasI swear I was certain it was spelled this way until right this second and I googled ittortillaa word I see all the time
okay that's enough complaining about spelling mistakes from me
>>4698185>take off my mask and eat at the tableWE WILL REVEAL OUR SECRET IDENTITYcue lex luthor "and I have no idea who this is"
>>4698185>take off my mask and eat at the table
I pulled down my hood, pulled off my googles, then pulled down my mask. Then I took up my spoon and ate, shovelling the bean mix down.If we were on this river together, we should trust each other.The food was good, just the easy side of spicy and hot. I'd finished my plate and the toast with it while Misfit was still half way through hers."So that's what you look like," she said. I looked up from my plate to see her smiling. "I'm disappointed man, I didn't think you'd be a pretty boy. Younger'en I expected too."I got up to get more beans and Misfit sputtered. "Nah, sorry, I was just teasin'," she said, "Me being weird again."I smiled, getting more food and coming back. "It's cool, its just weird being called a pretty boy is all," I said, starting into my second serving, "I don't think of myself as good looking. Maybe if I get my nose broken enough it'll go away.""Nah," she said, "You get anymore roughed up, put a couple years on you and you'll start looking straight up hot.""Thanks for sexualizing me, Misfit," I said."Anytime," she said over a can of pop. She didn't ask my name, though I knew hers, but she seemed happy to know my face."So what went down?" I said, "News said you killed some Russian gangster.""Anatoly Sharapov, a big player in the Russian mob, but that wasn't me," she said, "I was there though, found the body like I was supposed to, head blown open in his office. Not like a gunshot, more like blown up. Like a hand grenade had been stuffed in his mouth or something. Police put it on me I figure 'cause they're lazy and want my scalp. God knows I've had my share of scraps with the cops.""Maybe the DPA are stitching you up," I said, "They've been cracking down on paras.""Could be them, could be the people we took the stone from," she said."Assuming those are different people," I said. She nodded. "I got a friend working to clear your name, Madeline Grant.""Shit, I wouldn't say no if she swung by," Misfit said, "She as pretty up close?"I shrugged. She was a beautiful woman, but I'd stopped thinking of her that way. Misfit whistled."I'm going to try to clear your name too," I said, "And maybe all the others they've framed. No way is Thunderchild a bankrobber or Shark a child killer. Doesn't track.""They caught Thunderchild," Misfit said, "Semper Fi snatched him in Pullman. First time I ever heard of her being on the South Side. They got him locked up some place, some 'detention facility' for paranormals." She bristled. Couldn't blame a Latina for being suspicious of the term 'detention facility'.Damn."You get any action on the stone?" she asked."Some," I said, filling her in on what Dr Zamani told me. "He's got some eggheads out at a lab looking at it.""Space magic, huh," she said, "Riding cosmic waves."
It may as well be for all I understood the science. "We'll figure it out," I said, "Other than that there's just been a bunch of rumors and conspiracy theories. The most popular one is we're a vanguard invasion preparing to seize the earth from mankind."Misfit snorted. Some vanguard we made, hiding out in a house eating fried beans."We have come for your women," Misfit said in a high pitched voice, "Take us to your leader.""What about you, what about normal stuff?" she said, finishing her plate.I sighed. "Just some bullshit with my girlfriend, nothing interesting," I said, "It'd bore you.""I could use some boring right now, 'Spur," she said.I laughed, filled her in on that too.She whistled when I was done. "Well Archie, looks like you've got to pick between Betty and Veronica," she said, "I mean your girl ain't wrong. You can spin it how you want, but kissing another girl is a pretty hard pill to swallow.""It was a funeral, emotions were high," I said."But you love her, right?""Who?" I said, a little scared by the question."Exactly," Misfit said with a knowing grin, "Sounds like this other girl, the pretty black one, might be hiding a thing for you too.""Ayesha? No way," I said, "We're just pals, and she's got a boyfriend.""Maybe," Misfit shrugged."Anyway, we should be focusing on business," I said, "I'll be meeting with Dr Zamani sometime for an update, until then what are you going to do?""Run a bath and try to relax," she said, "Guess I'll leave Chicago in your hands until I get the cops off my back. Be careful about being stitched up yourself.""I will," I said. "If you need anything, you've got my number."I had a lot on my plate, but knowing Misfit was stashed somewhere safe made the rest seem more manageable. I had the Navaja case, I had to run down the DPA on the frame job, and I had the mysteries of the stone to unlock. All while busting gangbangers on the block while trying to keep my A- average.Nothing to it.I said goodnight to Misfit as she started running her longed for bath, taking off from the backyard. It was a quiet neighborhood, the last place anyone would look for a hardcase like her. Here's hoping she kept her head down.I had a couple of things to take up my time.>work Misfit's case, figure out who is framing her>focus on the Navaja business>dig into Dr Zamani and his findings on the stone>take it easy, fighting Salamander had been no picnic
>>4698319>work Misfit's case, figure out who is framing herVery likely the same source as Shark and ThunderchildWonder if we can get deputized like Semper Fi.
>>4698319>work Misfit's case, figure out who is framing her
I have to go, and unfortunately can't run tomorrow, but I'll be back the day after.vote stays open until I do.
>>4698319>>work Misfit's case, figure out who is framing her
>>4698319>work Misfit's case, figure out who is framing herI've got a feeling Misfit's case m i g h t be related or connected to whoever wants the stone
>>4698319>dig into Dr Zamani and his findings on the stoneOnly a matter of time before someone figures out he has the stone, Misfits situation is mostly stabilized now
>>4698319>focus on the Navaja businessDespite everything navaja is still a normie and therefore something we can take care of quicker The other objectives are all long term goals, but navaja is for RIGHT NOW Also we have got to get a goddamn Twitter account or something, we can't just let our name be stained by those shit heads in the media
>>4698553I feel like any social media account would get traced back to Eric immediately
>>4698553>>4698577People brainstormed about social media in a previous thread. Basically, we'd have to get a burner phone that we only use for social media and that we never take into our neighborhood. Or tweet from an internet cafe.
>>4698577>>4698577probably. in that case put the phone near or right on top of some criminal's, cough navaja cough, hideout or business
>>4698477>>4698473>>4698453>>4698347>>4698329locked inI can't run the way I thought I could today but I'm going to do a wrap up post then archive the thread and start a new one on the weekend.
Misfit might be in a safehouse for now, but she needed a long term solution. I needed to know who was framing her and the other paranormals of Chicago. I had some suspects, but nothing definitive.Someone was stoking anti-para sentiment in the city. It was down to me to find out who it was, and bring them to justice.A woman screamed out as her purse was snatched, the robber sprinting down the street. I drove after him, spurred by a flare of power.Until then, I had a city to protect.
>>4700672Sounds good OP, thanks for the thread!
new thread: >>4706757