The Haitian had swallowed up city block after city block of Chicago's south side, bringing together an organization welded together from a collection of street gangs, pimps and hustlers. No one had brought the south side together like this, not even the Black Disciples back in the day. Now he ruled a territory from Douglas through Englewood all the way out to Ashburn, all over the course of a few ruthless blood soaked months that had more than doubled the annual murder rate.A guy like that got stories told about him. Rumor had it he was some kind of voodoo priest or witch doctor, able to snatch a man's soul from his mouth with a grasp of his hand. Others said he was former Haitian special forces, forced to flee the country after overstepping with a powerful general. Some said he wasn't a man at all but some kind of zombie broke his leash, who glutted an appetite for human flesh on his enemies.With the way my life was going I wasn't going to dismiss any of those tales.All I knew was I had a meeting with the man, and it was long past time we sorted something out.I landed on the hood of LeSean's car. The Haitian's right hand man currently had his right arm in a cast, courtesy of my bad temper. He backed up with his keys but managed a grin. Slick in a silk shirt and red blazer, LeSean was the image of a cashed up gangster, with a gold chain around his neck and a gold stud in his ear. A couple of hard thugging boys, his bodyguards, stepped up, reaching for their guns.I tensed, ready to strike. LeSean stopped them from trying anything dumb with a raised hand."No need for that," he said, "Hotsput here isn't looking for a fight. If he was we'd be coughing up our teeth already."He grinned at me, fixing his collar. No sweat for the last time we'd met, when I'd crushed his arm."How you doing 'Spur?" he said, "Walking righteous?"I was tempted to spit a 'fuck you' in reply, but glared instead. The man was trying to get under my skin.He put a cigarette to his lips, one of his flunkies lit it. It was late afternoon, sun was going down, so when he took a drag the tip burned cherry bright in the growing dark."You promised me a meeting with your boss," I said.He nodded, ashing the end of his cigarette. "Yeah, you want to come in my car or would you prefer to follow?" he gestured to the door of his mercedes.>take the ride>following suits me
Previously on With Great Power Quest: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=With%20Great%20Power%20Quest
>>4997936>following suits me
>>4997936>take the rideHe knows that if he breaks his word it's back to the hard way for him and his gang
>>4997953>>4997982locked insorry for the lack of updates lately
"I'll follow," I said."Rude," he said, "What, you don't want to be seen taking a ride with a gangster like me? But you're so tight with those Stunt Crew players. Yeah, we heared about you crashing with the bikers the night the governor was killed. I try not to take these things personal but..."He did a good job pretending to be upset, but couldn't keep it up, flasing a smile as he slid into his car, a goon stepping into the driver's seat.The mercedes sped away down the street. I leapt after it, shadowing its path while bounding from roof top to roof top.Fire Watch, the new super hero team I'd put together with the other costumed para-folk of the city, had been squeezing the various gangs. I was working the Haitian, but even now Misfit, Grit, and the others were causing trouble for the other big gangs in and around Chicago. Pratfall had busted up an Outfit racket squeezing small businesses for protection. I don't think the made guys were ready for a perky Chinese girl in jester tights to come backflipping through their business, but it had made the six o'clock news.Less light hearted was Grit fighting the Triads. The Triads had been sore about their trafficking ring taking a hit, and had set every Asian street gang after Grit. Word had it he had a six figure bounty on his head. It made for itchy trigger fingers, and they'd almost got him shooting up the Jollibee he liked to frequent. If he'd been a second slower his kid sister would have had her guts blown across the sweet spaghetti. If it hadn't been for Dog Brother coming in clutch out of the blue we'd have been a member down already.It was a reminder this was no game. We could do things no other human being could but we weren't bullet proff and these gangs weren't playing. They were as serious as lung cancer and a lot more nasty. We wore these masks and silly names to make sure our friends and family didn't get a starring role in an online execution video.The Haitian wouldn't blink to have my family killed or worse. I couldn't forget that.We wound our way through the streets, me shadowing the car through the urban density of the near south side out to Kenwood by the coast. Not a place that saw a lot of crime, hell it even had white folks living there. We took a turn up behind a mosque. I landed on the dome, watching the mercedes disappear down a street of old brownstones and houses done up to look like brownstones.Leaping after them, the mercedes had pulled in to the rear carpark of a strip mall, employee entrance. A young black guy came out the back in a dirty apron lugging a couple of trash bags, swinging them over the lip of a dumpster. He wore a hairnet and the smock was greasy. Some kind of fry cook. Seeing LeSean the younger guy nodded, pulled a vape pen from his pocket and went on break.I landed beside LeSean.This didn't look like a den of gangsters."A butcher's?" I said.LeSean shrugged. "Why not? The old man likes to work."He offered me the entrance.
If it was a butcher's, it wasn't only that in the backroom. No sign of business but there was a hefty black guy reading a magazine who most certainly wasn't there to dice up meat. He had funny pug like eyes that he lifted up over the edge of his magazine, the feeling of a gun on his person. If he was surprised to see me it didn't register in those bulging eyes."Keep a clean cut Michael," a voice came through, heavy with a foreign accent, "Don't try to go fast yet, practice a steady hand. You will get fast with time."I turned a corner and had to take a second. Not because of the old man but who the old man was talking to. Stink, my old sparring partner, was working a knife over a piece of goat, slicing off cuts with a face all knotted up in concentration. It wasn't where I thought I'd see him again, deep in the heart of the Haitian's operation. I don't know what it meant, him being there. Whether he was muscle or just working.He wasn't the only one there, the shop was busy with young men working, packaging up parcels of meat to send out all tied up in brown paper and twine.My attention snapped to the old man. He wasn't quite what I'd been expecting either."Boss," LeSean said.The boss, the Haitian, was a skinny man with woolly hair turning to steel with age. He was raw boned, with wide sharp cheeks and long spidery arms. He wore a bowling shirt, he wore chinos.Was I expecting a necklace of skulls or some kind of exotic thing? He untied a greasy apron, pulled on a kangol.He could have been an uncle at a barbeque for all his appearance."Close up," the Haitian said to one of his flunkies, "Remember we have a health inspection on the weekend. Do a good job." He patted the man's cheek before stepping over to LeSean and me. "Backroom," was all he said, and we followed him.He walked stiff, an old man. I could snap him in half without my powers if I wanted to, but he wasn't feeble, and he kept a machete sheathed at his hip.We went into what looked like a delivery room. Clucking chickens sat in cages, and a goat looked up mournful in one of its own."Hotspur, meet my boss," he said.The Haitian looked me up and down. I couldn't get a read on what he was thinking, but I did notice something weird. If he blinked it wasn't often."Boss, this is the Hotspur," LeSean said.The Haitian continued to stare and I started to reassess. Yeah, I could snap him like a twig, but something told me he could get his machete out and in my skull faster than I could blink. Something told me he'd done it plenty of times before, and had a practiced, steady hand."The Hotspur," the Haitian said, "The super hero. You wanted to meet me. Why?">to see who I'm fighting, unravel a little of the mystery>to warn you personally, there's a war going on and I'm going to take you down>no real reason other than curiosity>write-in
writing for a living is a lot of fun, but somehow leaves me with less free time than the shitty job I was doing earlier
>>4998046>to see who I'm fighting, unravel a little of the mysterywanted to meet the man who's uniting the south side, see what you're about
>>4998046>>to see who I'm fighting, unravel a little of the mystery
>>4998076>>4998067locked innot a lot of people around today huh?
>>4998117Didn't know you were back. Kept looking at the last thread.
>>4998117Sorry I'm late!
"Wanted to see who I was fighting, get eyeballs on the man and unravel a little of the mystery," I said."A mystery am I?" the Haitian said, taking a seat on a turned over crate, "Mysterious is you, boy. You break my man's arm, mess up my business, make a big scene for I do not know what good. But you are here, and LeSean say you did a good job messing with those Triads.""The look on Jimmy Fong's face when he got out of booking," LeSean said, amused with himself. The Haitian raised an eye at him, enough to shut LeSean up."I didn't do that for you," I said."Did not say you did," the Haitian said. He sighed. "I come to this country with no English," he said, "No English but a lot of knowledge. I see the neighborhoods, learn them, learn how they fit together or don't. I start the trade you see now, a butcher. My father was a butcher. I settle here. You know much about the south side?""Some," I said."It is not all crime and shootings," he said, "Kenwood, here. Kenwood has been home to great men. Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali. Great men, not good. A president cannot be a good man, he must stand beneath a shower of blood. To be a great athlete, a great boxer also, you cannot be good. To make your trade the hurting of other men, and to be the best at it, the greatest of all time. You cann't be 'good', not by the judgement of other men. But Kenwood is peaceful, Kenwood is good, and home to great men.""And you're a great man?" I said.If my tone was insulting it didn't raise a flicker on his face."There is more to the south side than Englewood and gangsters," he said, "If these gangsters, these wild boys with their automatic shooters and too big pride, if they can be brought into line, set to a purpose, maybe it can be something more still.""How noble," I said, not hiding my disgust. Another gangster with pretensions, acting like he was in it for more than a dollar he could squeeze out of the city's misery."What do you know of Haiti?" he said. I shrugged. "Perhaps you should read a little. Read about Toussaint L'Ouverture, read a little about what it took to free Haiti from the grip of slavers, than what happened to it afterward. The blood that needed to be spilled, the reprisals of the slavers. I am Haitian, this is true, and in Haiti we do not have the luxury of American ideals. Grow up under the rule of Papa Doc and his son Baby, see how your ideals work.""A mystery," he said, "They tell tales about me. Did you know they tell tales about you? They say many things, Hotspur. That you are an alien warrior from the stars, come to conquer us. That you are an escaped mental patient. That you are a government experiment gone haywire. Shall I tell you what I think you are?""Go ahead," I said.
He pointed a boney finger at me. "I think you are a boy," he said, "Given great gifts, but does not know what to do with them other than play hero. Grown up on too much Disney channel, and thinks this is how the world should be. Fierce, tough, but with a boy's thinking, a boy's resolve.""I think you are a boy, no older than seventeen. I think you are a white boy, not from Chicago originially. I think you have a foot in our world and a foot in the other, trying to have both. I think you are living a costumed fantasy to feel strong, to find purpose, to make sense out of a senseless world.""Maybe you are not so much a mystery," he said, "You are like others, you could do great things but are too caught on doing good ones. If you had the resolve you could kill me, kill the other heads of the families, and take the crown for yourself. You could rule Chicago and set the rules everyone else must follow. And they could be good rules, you could bring peace to these streets. If you had the will to do so. The will to do great things, instead of being caught up on the good.""And what about you?" I said, "People talk about you like you're some kind of voodoo priest, but all I see is another crime boss full of justifications."The Haitian nodded. "Oh I am a pret Vodou," he said, "A voodoo priest, this is also true, but what that means is different from what your monster movies think.""Now, are we finished? I have seen you, you have seen me, and I believe we understand each other," he said, clapping his knees. LeSean moved to help the old man stand.>for now, but I'll be coming for you>not yet, here's a last warning (hit the old man)
apparently there's a board's best waifu competition starting over on the qtg
>>4998157>for now, but I'll be coming for youIf you wanted to help your community you'd do something about the sickness overtaking the city. Instead you create more misery for it to feed on while talking about great things. If thinking like that makes you a man I'll stick to my "boys resolve."
>>4998157>not yet, here's a last warning(Hit the goon helping the old manHis thugs are as safe as he is. They can hide if they stay away from him.>>4998159Huh, well that autism shitpit can have their civil war, this place is better.
>>4998163Man we already broke the guys arm last time there no point to more violence right now
>>4998157>>4998165fair, switching to this>>4998162
>>4998159I avoid that thread at all costs honestly. Not as obnoxious as it used to be back in the day but just as pointless.Ayesha is best girl tho
>>4998157>for now, but I'll be coming for you
>>4998157>for now, but I'll be coming for youhitting old men is a step too far
Whew, I just got here, I'm so glad I didn't fully miss live
"For now, but I'll be coming for you," I said, "And if you wanted to help your community you'd do something about the sickness overtaking the city, instead of creating more misery for it to feed on while talking about 'great things'."I went to the loading bay door, looked back at the gangsters."If thinking the way you do makes you a man, I'll stick to my 'boy's resolve'."LeSean smirked but the Haitian stared his unblinking stare. For a moment I believed the stories of him snatching the souls from his victims as they lay dying, but only for a moment. Taking a step, I shot up into the early night sky, a comet bounding across the night and away from the small butcher's shop tucked among the quiet streets of Kenwood.Meeting with ruthless gangsters was easy.What was hard was the next day, on two scores.The first, it was the school field trip to Ixion Labs. I'd busted in and busted out of Ixion leaving a huge mess in the process. Now I was going as Eric, not Hotspur, but there was no promise it would be smooth.The second, it was with Ayesha. Who I was in love with. Who I had barely talked to since telling her I was in love with. Who I had barely talked to since she told me she was in love with me too. But the problem was I also told her I'm in love with Ivy. In love with both of them. And to make it worse, Ivy told her she was in love with both of us. It was a fucked up situation for anyone to be put in, and the days of silence between the three of us since hadn't been easy. Maybe I thought my feelings would settle between one or the other but it never did, if anything it got worse, and my dreams were plagued with thoughts of them.So seeing her now in a pleated tartan skirt and orange sweater-vest, her hair in a neat, natural 'fro around the bright, sweet face that set me all uncomfortable in a good way was almost too much to handle.She was always someone I could talk to. She was always someone it was easy to be around.Until now and my stupid fucking confession.The school trip was being managed by Mr Nfume, the chemistry teacher, and Mr Valchek the biology teacher. A bus had been hired to take the honor students on a behind the scenes trip to the hottest company in scientific development. I was no honor's student but I was somehow able to get a seat on the bus.When Ayesha saw me she braced herself, then tried for a smile before going back to chatting with Blair, one of her science club friends."How did a knuckle dragging jock end up on this trip?" Annie said, pushing past me to get on the bus. Chad smiled an apology as he and Ben followed her on."Eric's got a solid grade average," Chad said, "He's not that far behind us.""You can sit with us if you want," Ben said giving me a thumb's up.
The trio weren't called the nerds because they were smart, there were plenty of smart kids at our school. Mostly it was because they were awkward and in Annie's case actively unpleasant. No one else seemed to have a problem with me being there, most having accepting bright smiles behind their glasses. The fact Annie didn't sit with the other Asian girls, a quiet quintet that sat up the back, said as much.Fact was though other than them and Ayesha I didn't know anyone else.Ayesha took a seat and put up her bag. God she was...she was...In a way it felt good not having to pretend she wasn't so smoking hot she burned me up inside. That I didn't want to split her sweet gentle smile with a kiss and feel those pillow lips against mine. That I didn't want to pull her onto my lap and breathe her in.But it didn't help much either.Ben waved, patting the seat next to him, big smile.>sit with Ayesha>sit with the nerds>sit alone
>>4998234>sit with Ayesha
>>4998234>sit with the nerdsThe trip isn't the time to create drama with Ayesha, plus I want to talk to the nerds more, their misinformation is always hilarious
>>4998234>sit with the nerdsAyesha probably needs a bit more space and time
I hesitated beside the spare seat next to Ayesha. She didn't look up at me but tucked a coil of hair back behind her ear, considering the pleats in her skirt. I swallowed, trying not to be uncomfortable, and went up the back to sit with the nerds."Yo!" Ben said, sliding on a pair of shades, "You ready to see the future? You better wear shades 'cause its gonna be bright!""God," Annie scoffed, rolling her eyes.She and Chad sat behind us, it meant she could reach over and flick Ben's ear."Ixion, I'd like to work for them some day," Chad said."They have a whole department dedicated to crypto," Annie said, "It's pretty cool.""Me, I want to check out their robotics department," Ben said, "I heard they're working on robots that can pass as human. You know what that means?"I put a hand over the scar on my forearm, one of many courtesy of an Ixion drone."Sex bots," Ben said with a firm nod."You're disgusting," Annie said."Yeah, like you wouldn't want to get hammered by some kind of pleasure robot," Ben said, then mimed the act in his chair, "Oh yeah, feel that torque, that next generation engineering all up inside you.""Disgusting!" Annie flicked his ear again, harder, her cheeks all pink under the pimples.They had a much more positive view of the company than I did, but then they didn't know what I did either."Didn't you hear about the human experiments they've been doing?" I said."Alleged experiments," Annie said, "And besides, that's all according to the 'superhero' Hotspur. I don't buy it.""He isn't exactly a neutral source," Chad agreed, "He's kind of a socialist, right? I heard he started a new para-freak gang."Socialist? I don't know if I had any political opinions."Yeah, Fire Watch or something," Ben said, "They're the next step in the invasion, the para-freaks organizing under different militias. Vanguard are targeting the government, Fire Watch the criminals, but its to the same end goal of replacing humans with para-freaks in the local power structures. All a set up for their alien masters to sweep in and take over.""Yeah sure," Annie said, "Because taking over Chicago is the lynch-pin of a plan to conquer the earth. If it was about alien invasion they'd be in Beijing too, but I've never heard of any para-activity in China. Nothing credible at least."Right, it was easy to forget these guys were deep in the anti-para-folk hole. Truth was they weren't the worst about it either. Not like Zeke, who was half-signed up for the kid-friendly version of the Humanity First Militia.
"Did you hear the Face-Stealer struck again over the weekend?" Chad said, "Someone from the mayor's office was found in a dumpster in the Gold Coast sans his frickin' skin.""Face-Stealer?" I said."A para-freak serial killer," Chad said, "He kills people and takes their skin so he can transform into them. That's the rumor anyway. Pretty creepy."Or, alternately, these guys had crossed the cartel and suffered for it. I'd heard of all kinds of things the cartel would do to their victims. Skinning someone alive fit their MO."Dougie Hicks is organizing a special investigation into the Face-Stealer," Ben said."Dougie Hicks couldn't organize a gang bang in a hentai," Annie said.The bus rolled through the city as they gossiped along.To take my mind off things, I joined in a little."Talk has it there's a sasquatch working as a bar tender on the south side," I said with a smile, thinking about Yeti. It struck me as the kind of things the nerds would be into.My instincts for people weren't as good as they were for violence."A big foot? Bullshit," Annie said."Yeah Eric, I know I'm called gullible but if you believe in big foot..." Ben said, embarassed to be sitting next to me."You really shouldn't tease us like that," Chad said, "It isn't cool."I bit my tongue as the bus pulled to a stop in front of the colossal Ixion building overlooking the Chicago River.Last time I'd been here had been in the pitch of night, chasing after Foxtrot after plunging off the side of the building leaving a trail of carnage behind us. Carnage that hadn't made the news, hadn't even made it out of the building.The teachers organized us in pairs."Ayesha, keep an eye on Eric," Mr Nfume said, "Make sure he doesn't break anything.""Yes sir," Ayesha said. I got an eye from the other students like I was some kind of juvenile delinquent. Maybe I kind of was, but they didn't need to know that.Being partnered with Ayesha without being asked...well it wasn't comfortable."Hi," she said, eyes straight ahead as we walked together into the building. Her hand hung close to mine. It would be easy to hold it. Hard too. I kept my face blank."Hi," I said back.We weren't the only school here. The uniforms of private academies stood out in herds of other students milling around the lobby, with the beaming smile of Julia, the receptionist, hovering over them.It really was a gathering of the nerds.Speaking of nerds, the trio attached themselves to us."Zack!" Ben waved at a kid in a private school uniform. Zack flapped his hand back. "I know Zack from temple," Ben explained."When does the tour start?" Annie whined.
A security guard in a dark suit stepped out. Uncle Karl,a bluish stubble covering his tired face. He looked as uncomfortable as I felt.A couple of other peppy young interns appeared out of the elevator, ready to start the tour for Chicago's brightest young minds. All young, all hip, all casually dressed and ready to sell the corporate cool of the company. Half of them had sleeve tatoos and looked dressed for a coffee shop romance more than to lube the gears of an evil fucking business like Ixion.They were all uniformly individuals."Sup guys," one said, an alternative young woman in a beanie said, waltzing over to us, "You guys ready to see the future and decide if you want to add Ixion to your lifestyle plan?" Her tag said 'Denise: They/Them'. I guess they were our tour guide.>follow the guided tour, be a good boy and just get through today>first chance I get I'm splitting off to find more of their secretsback tomorrow
>>4998299>follow the guided tour, be a good boy and just get through todayWe already got the down and dirty when we broke in, let's compare it to the bullshit they sell to the public and see if there's any clues in the difference Also glad to have you back bullpen, I'm happy for your new job
>>4998299>follow the guided tour, be a good boy and just get through today
>>4998299>follow the guided tour, be a good boy and just get through todayI'm sure security's extra tight after our stunt as hotspur
>>4998299>>follow the guided tour, be a good boy and just get through today
>>4998743>>4998568>>4998538>>4998523>>4998307locking that in
The others replied in the noncommittal awkward way of teenagers, the enthusiasm they'd shown on the bus wilting under adult scrutiny. Denise didn't just take us, they roped in Blair and Ronald, both from our biology class."The cool thing about Ixion is we're interested in everything," Denise said, "From agriculture to space exploration to crypto mining. We even have a gaming department. Of course our primary focus is energy, all about getting as far away from fossil fuels as possible."Ayesha put up her hand. "Is it true you're getting ready to announce a new carbon capture plant?" she said.Denise nodded. "That's right, you're really up to date. There's a next generation carbon capture plant we're about to open in Greenland. We're hoping it can mineralise and sequester as much as one hundred thousand tons of co2 a year. All powered off renewables so its a closed loop in the carbon system.""The problem with reforestation is, trees burn," Denise said, "And we don't have the decades to wait for the new forests mature enough to be effective carbon sinks. But that's besides the point and not really my department. I work in the aero-space department. That's right, I'm an engineer working on the next generation of private space craft. You'll meet a lot of people here who don't fit your preconceptions of who can be a scientist. Ixion believes in giving opportunities to the historically marginalized, not just in token positions but in every department and level of the company.""Let's go meet some of those people now, shall we?" Denise said, herding us into the elevator, "Let's start in the Green Room."She hit the down button.The Green Room, it turned out, was the agricultural department. "Vertical farming," Denise said. Whatever that meant the walls wherever we looked were lined with pockets out of which grew green ropey vines that climbed up and down the walls, going on as far as I could see. The air was wet and humid, as if we'd stepped out into the tropics, and I could hear a trickle of water all around us. We passed murky tubs with roots growing in them, tiny fish swirling through the muddy waters.Practically dressed scientist checked measurements, making sure everything was going the way it should."Vertical farming is the crop production of the future," they said, "It takes up less natural space than traditional farming and happens under an artificial environment controllable year round. It is energy intensive, and not ideal for every kind of crop, but that's an engineering problem. Solveable. Pretty neat, right?"They lead us through the columns of growing vegetables, mostly leafy plants like lettuce."And here we have one of those diverse faces I mentioned," Denise said, "Xiang is an intern hired out of the University of Chicago, say hi Xiang."
Pratfall looked up from her tablet, locked eyes with me and for a split second her eyes widened.But of course this wasn't Pratfall, it was blank faced, inexpressive Xiang. The furthest thing from the bouncy jester I could imagine, wearing a lab coat and everything."Hi Xiang," she replied dryly."Xiang is one of our bright young minds figuring out how to save the world," Denise said, "In fact Ixion recruited her right out of high school.""Ixion provided me with a college scholarship through their 'Bright Minds, Bright Futures' initiative," Xiang said, "They're paying for my education in return for my unpaid labor down here on their farm.""Xiang's a real kidder," Denise said, "Always cracking jokes." Xiang's blank expression remained unmoved."Ixion is looking for people of every kind of background," Denise said, "Me, I'm aro/ace nonbinary. Ixion isn't just looking for us, but looking to celebrate us. Is anyone here part of the queer community too?"Okay that was a hell of a question.But I was surprised when Ayesha hesitantly raised her hand."Righteous," Denise said, "Give me a high five, baby queer."There was nothing in the world Ayesha wanted to do less."Would dating a sasquatch count as being part of the queer community?" Xiang said.What?"What?" Denise said."A sasquatch, a woodland ape," Xiang said, "I've been seeing one in a romantic capacity for a week now."Denise stared at Xiang as if a second head had errupted from her shoulder."You mean a bigfoot?" Denise said, "Xiang, bigfoot isn't real."Bigfoot is a slur, I thought. "Bigfoot is a slur," Xiang said, "And I can assure you, Harry is very real.""Okay kids," Denise said, "Time to move on to the next leg in our tour."When Denise turned away I saw a sly little smile crack Xiang's face."Maybe not queer but definitely on the spectrum," Annie said. Ben snorted."I didn't know you were uh...gay," Chad said to Ayesha."Um, I'm more questioning things right now," Ayesha said, "Queer is a good enough label for that, right?""No, its cool!" Chad said, "Questioning stuff is cool, right? But what was up with the bigfoot stuff? Weird people down here."We got back on the elevator."Why don't we check out something else, who wants to check out our space flight work?"Every hand but mine shot up.We were whisked up, high up, and got out near the top floor. Near the level, if I had to guess, where Foxtrot and I had found their weird experiments."Can anyone tell me what's the biggest hurdle to human manned space flight?" Denise asked."It's dangerous," Chad said."It's energy intensive," Annie said."It's too slow," Ben said.Denise nodded. "All good answers."We walked through an open plan office. A pair of guys manned computers while throwing a bouncy ball back and forth.
"It's impractical," Ayesha said, "There's no reason to send people when we can send robots. A robot has a much higher chance of survival and doesn't have a family waiting back home, and for collecting samples it doesn't require the same level of resources to sustain. It doesn't need food, water, or an artificial earth like environment. We can dump a robot on Mars and not have to worry about bringing it home.""Correct," Denise said, "Robots are too good at the job. There's nothing a human can do on Mars that a robot can't do better. But are we only interested in Mars to look at the dirt?""Hell no!" Ben said."Mars is only the first planet after all," Denise said, "If we can't visit our neighbor, how can we ever visit more distant neighborhoods? Here, look at this."We stopped before a glass case with a model ship in it. It was some kind of science fiction rocket, like out of Star Trek or something."Ixion is working on a ship capable of crossing the divide between Earth and Mars in days rather than months. Thanks to our researchers in the energy department, we may have cracked the code to make it possible.""Nuclear fusion?" Annie asked.Denise grinned."What do you think about that?" Denise asked, "A round trip to Mars might only be a few years away. Do you kids want to be on the first flights? Do you want to be among the first human beings to stand under an alien sky?"My skin prickled as a cold chill swept up my back.There are things in the dark. Things that wouldn't welcome us."What about you?" Denise asked, pointing to me, "You've been really quiet. Interested in being one of the first astro-tourists?">no way in hell>stay quiet>maybe, sure, if its safe
>>4999078>"We got people with super powers, Sharkman eating gangsters, a sasquatch walking around, and who knows what else in the sewers. All after that meteor came down.">"What else is out there that makes that happen, or worse?"
>>4999078>no way in hellwill the pilot also be a smelly hipster
>>4999075Also god damn Xiang is hilarious...she isn't banging the gangster sasquatch right?
>>4999078>no way in hellAlso seconding the is sentiment >>4999082
>>4999128>>4999090>>4999082locking that in
""No way in hell," I said, "We got people with super powers, shark men eating gangsters, a sasquatch walking around and who knows what else in the sewers, all after the meteor came down. Who knows what else is out there that makes this happen, or worse?"I looked at the model spaceship."Space, man, no thank you," I said, "One planet is hard enough to deal with, who the hell knows what's out there."Annie rolled her eyes. "That's the problem with you normies," she said, "You can't see past today. You don't deserve the future if you can't imagine it.""As far as we can tell there's almost nothing out there," Denise said, "Space is big and empty. There's a lot more to be worried about down here than there is out there."Something inside me, the voice in the fire, laughed in the back of my head."Maybe," Ayesha said, watching me carefully."Anyway, do you guys want to meet one of those test pilots?" she said, "Here he is!"A man came out of a backroom, a white guy in a bomber jacket. He had the strong jawed look of a test pilot, dark hair cut in military fashion. But he was hollow eyed around the face, pale, and shorter than I expected from a test pilot. Not exactly a heroic figure."This is Kimble Arkin, one of Ixion's test pilots," she said, "Kimble, you heard about the Bright Mind's tour, right? Where we'll be showing off all our hard work to the kids.""Aw, no," he said, "Well dang Denise, you could give a feller more warning." He had the kind of dry accent of rural Montana, which gave him a touch of a cowboy flair."Well Kimble here is one of Ixion's test pilots, and a front runner for piloting the next generation spaceship. Kimble was a test pilot in the Air Force until we poached him.""Good to meet ya," he said, shaking our hands, "Spaceships? You're spinning them a grand tale there. Mostly I'm testing out the flight capabilities of the exosuits. Tactical Enhancement Armor. We got an order in from the-""Hey now, no need to bore them with all that," Denise said, "That's all under NDA remember?"He frowned, kicking himself. "Yeah, you're right. The spaceships. Yeah, plan is for me to fly Julian's rocketship, but its a mite aways from being space ready. I wouldn't bet any bucks on going for a moonwalk any time soon.""Why did you leave the air force?" Chad asked.Kimble shrugged. "Money, but also the Air Force ain't doing as much what with the uptick in the drone program. Kind of boring sittting around base. Heck, you're looking at the last generation of fighter pilots I reckon. They'll always need boots on the ground, but boots in the sky? Nothing can't be done behind a desk with a remote control.""Not that I'm anti-technology mind," he said, "The folks out in Wyoming are putting together this sophisticated AI they're going to put in the ships to help with...aw but I'm sayin' too much again."
"So we might be running out of fighter pilots," he said, "But in ten years maybe we're going to need all the spaceship pilots we can get our hands on.""You want to be a spaceship pilot?" Ben asked, eyes burning at Ayesha.I didn't miss the reference to 'tactical enhancement armor', or forget the power armor rig Uncle Karl had used to try to shred me to pieces. Always putting forward their best face and hiding their evil.We got back on the elevator, heading down."Here at Ixion we have our own Michelin star restaurant," Denise said, "Serving food grown in our labs. From vertical farming to electricity grown meat, all prepared by some of the best chefs in the world." We got out at the restaurant where a lot of the other students had gathered. Denise dropped us off at a table with our classmates."Did you see their cloning department!" Blair said, flapping her hands at Ayesha, "Holy shit Yesha, its like something out of a Michael Crichton novel! They had these puppies that were all cloned from the same dog. Oh and vat grown organs ready for transplant! It's insane."Ayesha offered a weak smile while scanning the menu.I had to admit, the brisket looked good. But the dollar figure had me put the menu down."Shame they don't have a basketball science department, right?" Annie fired at me, "Maybe you can work here one day as a security guard, or a janitor.""Hell I'd be happy to be a janitor here just to be part of it," Chad said, "This is the future."The tables were buzzing with excitement and it filled my guts with a sense of dread."Oh I'm totally working here when I graduate," Blair said, "What about you, Yesha? Going to come work here with me?"Ayesha thought about it. Then she looked up at me."What would you think?" she said, "About me working here.">I think its a bad idea>What I think doesn't matter>I think it could be, if its what you want
>>4999192>I think it could be, if its what you wantChange from within maybe? Warn her they're up to shady shit though. They're the ones that hired Houndmaster.
>>4999192>I think it could be, if its what you wantPratfall works here and she seems fine, all the sketchy shit is probably kept to high clearance personnel But she should probably just use it as a stepping stone because we're destroying this company soon
>>4999192>I think it could be, if its what you want>Getting rid of the psychos that want to abuse what comes out of here is the real problem
>>4999192>>4999205Add on>Are you really dating the Sasquatch?
>>4999206you're mixing up Ayesha with Xiang/Pratfall
>>4999192I've only seen the rotten parts of this place. You're smart though, you can figure it out yourself if that's what you want
>>4999209I thought we were just talking to Xiang, never mind the Sasquatch thing then.
"It could be good for you," I said, "If it's what you want.""Yeah?" Ayesha said, a little surprised."They're doing pretty amazing things," I said, "But you know what they're showing us probably isn't the full story. A corporation doesn't run on goodwill.""No it doesn't," she said, "There's something a bit creepy about saving the world but with a profit margin attached."Talking about this stuff I guess is easier than talking about other stuff. At least in front of other people."I'd like to help though," she said, "Help try to save the world."Ixion didn't deserve her. Ixion didn't deserve her good heart after they'd set that piece of shit Houndmaster on her. I almost said so when a server came over to take our order. Me, I didn't have the money to get anything, which made it a little awkward when I ordered 'water'."And a burger!" a voice said, fake hand clapping down on my shoulder, "The double electro-burger with a side of fries. Charge it to my account."I looked up behind me at Uncle Karl. The former Marine grinned."Well shoot, I haven't seen you since Thanksgiving," he said, "What's Joe's boy doing on the egghead tour?""Uncle Karl," I said.He looked over the table, dressed in a dark suit and fixing up his tie. "Yeah, you don't fit in with this crew, not a bit, you rough neck little hoosier.""Hey guys this my uh...uncle, kind of," I said. My aunt's brother-in-law, did that make us kin? I guess so."I'm part of the security detail here at Ixion, head of the third response team," he said, "Like my new hand? Latest upgrade. The leg is pretty nifty too."It was a match for the ones I'd seen Houndmaster use."You kids enjoying the tour?" he said."Yeah sure," Blair replied, "There's a lot of neat stuff here.""There's a whole lot more than what you've seen too," he said, "You kids keep up the good grades, maybe one day I'll be calling you 'boss'. See you around, Eric. Tell your old man I said hi."He shuffled on as the drinks arrived.And shortly after they did, the music on the speakers went low and a calm female voice said, "Safety Alert. Everyone please make an orderly evacuation of the building. Safety alert. Everyone please make an orderly evacuation of the building."If we thought it was some kind of joke, the start of a sharp, piercing beep and the return of our tour guides all starting to hustle us toward a safety exit said otherwise.We got up from the table, Denise keeping a firm smile. "This way kids," they said, ushering us into the stream of high school students heading toward one of the emergency exits.Ayesha shot me a look through the crowd as a hefty kid from a private academy broke between us, making way for a train of his classmates to split us up.She reached out a hand and I grabbed it, pulling her to me through the crowd, pulling her close as we went for the exit. Her hand soft in mine, her hip pressed up against me. We made for the exit.>split off, find out what was going on>get out of there
>>4999278>split off, find out what was going on
>>4999278>split off, find out what was going onI'd be cautious about our secret identity but I'm sure the DPA has shared their suspicious with Ixion.
>>4999278>get out of thereUnless we brought our disguise than I'm not willing to risk Eric's safety, Hotspur is one thing, Eric is another Also it's an emergency, they're obviously going to do a headcount and if we're missing than expulsion is the minimum of trouble we'll be in
>>4999293Ixion and dpa are rivals, not friends
>>4999298DPA wants them to be rivals because Ixion pays their bills, or bribes the people who pay their bills, and as a result the DPA is decidedly subservient to them.
>>4999310That makes absolutely no sense man, I get the general idea that companies buy off government and other shit but they aren't subservient to ixion and no interactions between them have suggested anything other than two organizations after the same thing willing to kill for the thing
>>4999278>get out of there
Rolled 2 (1d2)we have a tie1 is split off2 is leave
Eric is bailing
>>4999326They hand over the parahumans they capture to presumably Ixion and they aren't happy about it, but do it anyway. Not direct subservience but it's pretty clear who's on top in that relationship.
>New threadLets Gooooo>Just got here and gotta catch upoof
>>4999339Fucking 4chan didn't update till I clicked back to the thread. Damnit
sorry got a phonecall
got kinda late to vote but it maybe a good Idea we bail, people be on very high alert after we crashed as Hotspur. would really like to hit Pratfall to see if everything is ok, or if she need help.>>4999374nw, glad to see ya back!
I didn't mean to post that.I didn't mean to post that at all.Anyway, the call from my friend wrapped up, took a lot longer than I expected so I'll have to post the update tomorrow
>>4999459Cool. I was going to vote for split off, but that other Anon showed up so it wouldn't change anything. Goodnight.
We stuck close together, hand in hand moving for the exit. A deep rumble came, then the building shook around us. Someone screamed. Then the ground bucked under my feet and I might have lost my balance if it wasn't for Ayesha. We grabbed each other and kept going at a three legged walk.A security guard rushed by, hissing into his er piece "-broke containment."I was curious but had other things on my mind. Ayesha squeezed my hand tight. Denise waved us through the exit, down a stairwell."Never use an elevator in an emergency," they said, taking a head count as we marched past.I checked on Ayesha. her face was tight but she was keeping it together. She checked on me with a glance, flickered a smile through her fear. I squeezed her hand. We hurried down the stairs as fast as we could without running, students ahead of us and closing in behind.The building shook again with a hard jolt. Ayesha caught the handrail and I caught onto her. Fire burned through me, calming my galloping pulse."Is this some 9-11 shit?" Annie hissed, keeping close to Chad."I don't know," Chad replied, clearly freaked out. Ben was sweating bad, chewing at his bottom lip."Come on," I said, leading us down the stairs, "Just one foot in front of the other guys, don't worry about anything else. Think of it like a live shooter drill or something."It worked, or felt like it did. We hurried in a nervous silence, clustered together.It felt forever climbing down, every flight punctuated with another building rocking slam. People screamed down the stairs but it was a scream of fright rather than real terror. There was a difference."Almost there," Ayesha whispered, "Almost there."She hugged my arm. It was a bad time to admit it felt good.A door open at the first floor had Mr Nfume waving kids out. When he saw us he sighed in relief."Come on, this way," he said, "You're the last from our school. We're getting out of here."He gave each of us a quick pat on the head as we passed as if it make sure we were real.We gathered outside the building, between the lobby entrance and the street. Herds of kids from across the city. There was a rumble from within the skyscraper, than it shook, visibly shook, as if it were a toy grabbed by a child and shaken."What could be doing that?" Ayesha asked. A question everyone was asking.Then, high above, there was an explosion. Glass burst out from the windows. Screams rose up, real terror this time, and I grabbed Ayesha as slicing blades of shattered glass rained down around us. I winced as a blade of glass sliced through my jacket and into my back. Around us kids and their teachers ran for cover.I looked up and saw something large, very large, flit across the sky, a dark blot against the sun.Then there was the whine of an engine, and the chunky suit of power armor sped out after it, minigun roaring, hot shells raining down after the glass.
"Is everyone alright?" Mr Nfume asked. The ground glittered with crushed glass. Kids sobbed, some bleeding, but it could have been worse."You okay?" I asked stroking Ayesha's hair out of her face.She nodded, then reached up and swept glass from my shoulder.We were kind of hugging, standing there checking each other, arms around each other."Eric," she said, and for a second I thought...her lips close to mine...I looked back to the building. "We should-"Her fingers turned my chin and her lips closed over mine. Soft warm lips, soft warm lips that slid open for a soft little tongue that caressed over mine. The breath swept out of me and my eyes closed, pulling her close without thinking, a hand pressed to the small of her back as she popped up onto her toes to make the kiss last. When it was done she pressed her forehead to my chest, eyes squeezed shut."Sorry," she said."Nah," I said, struggling to find my voice. Breathing her in, holding her close.But whatever we had to say to each other, whatever was going on in the lingering moment, was cut short by a screaming engine overhead and the great heavy thud as something large and angry crashed into the earth.I pulled her back. Everyone started running, screaming. It was something that must have been human once, but its whole body was swollen like a tumor. It was blind as a mole with a heavy jaw, a lipless mouth opening to let out an unsettling high pitched scream of jagged teeth and a heavy pink tongue. It was a mass of moving muscle in a bad of skin, to a normal human what a bull mastiff was to a chihuhua.The power armor swept around, cannons blazing, spewing high caliber bullets I'd seen reduce a man to a thin mist. Against this? The bullets warped on the muscle bag, flicking off, the monster snarling like they were irritating fliles.Fire flooded through me and I pulled Ayesha into my arms, leaping back before the wild gun fire could rip us apart, tearing up the sidewalk where we'd been instead.Maybe it was time for me to-"Never fear, Pratfall is here!"She bounded out in her jester tights, belled cap ringing.The beast-thing swung around snarling at the perky young gymnast. It screeched at her."I don't know which is more the threat, your muscles or your breath!"It swung a fist the size of my chest and struck her so hard she went flying back into the Ixion building with a yelp.It dug its fingers into the cement slab of the sidewalk, tearing it up to throw at the power armored machine hovering around its head. The pilot veered around, the large cement block crashing into a distant window.Then Pratfall flipped out again."What a wallop!" she said, "But turnabout is fair play!"Her little fist struck the behemoth in the place it should have had a chin. I saw the muscle ripple under the force of the blow, all the kinetic energy absorbed by Pratfall only to be flung back at him. It's skin flapped back until it tore, then it spun around, dazed, taking a step back.
"And two and three," she said, snapping a kick to the same spot, then a sidekick to its chest.It hit the ground and rolled into the street with a heavy groan. It didn't get up."Oh bless me!" she said, panting, leaning over. She didn't look okay. Then she stretched back, stretched forward to touch her toes. "Some light exercise to start the day!"The power armor drifted down, settling to the ground. The chest plate rose with a hiss, showing the pilot Kimble Arkin sitting in the cockpit."Well shoot that was a hell of a test run," he said. He hit a com. "Gigas is contained, I repeat, Gigas is contained."Armed security came storming out of the building."And that's my queue," Pratfall said, "Exit, stage right!"She hopped hopped hopped then turned into a spring the other way, bounding over the head of a security guard with a bright laugh."Time for us to go too," I said.Everyone else was either still running or trying to hide. Me and Ayesha were the only ones standing in the open. I set her down and we started out of there, hand in hand down the street.
We'd kissed for the first time.We followed it up with Ayesha picking a long piece of glass out of my back, my denim jacket now with the ugly blotch of a blood stain down my back. We weren't talking, but we both thrummed with a barely contained energy, a heat. She washed out the cut with disinfectant before covering it up with a medical patch, smoothing it down with her gentle fingers."So," I said, "We haven't really talked since...""We really haven't," she said.I stared at her, sitting up on a bench with my shirt off in a public park."I've been thinking," she said."Yeah?""It hasn't been easy thinking," she said, "It's a lot. You're a lot. Ivy is a lot. You're both so...much." She sighed. "But when I think about it, really think about my life and everything in it, everything I want to do and be...there's only two people always in it."My heart thumped an irregular beat.She sighed and crossed her arms."You guys, the both of you, you're so intense," she said, "You burn so bright, and when you're together I feel...""A moth," she said, "I'm a moth.""A moth?" I said."A moth," she said, "Pulled toward you both. But just a moth, a plain old moth.""There's nothing plain about you," I said."You both burn so bright together and I feel like I'm flittering around the flame," she said, "Because I love you, and I...I love her. I love you both so much but I don't..." She didn't cry but she did hang her head, eyes glazing with tears. She grabbed the back of her neck."I don't know how I could fit," she said, "Or if I even deserve either of you. But both? I don't know how it would work. I don't know how my parents would...I don't know Eric.""I love you both, but I don't know.">I don't know either, but we could find out>you're right, it probably wouldn't work
I'll be back next week, vote stays open until I do
>>5000328>I don't know either, but we could find outNot even a choice.>>5000329Busy week ahead? It was short, but it was fun.
>>5000328>I don't know either, but we could find out
>>5000328>I don't know either, but we could find outStart by telling NO ONE
>>5000418Yet. Telling no one, yet.
>>5000328>I don't know either, but we could find outEric is young, now is the time to explore and make (innocent) mistakes
>>5000328>>I don't know either, but we could find out"You burn just bright enough for me"First part of Eric love life "get"now we have to resolve with Ivy. (I'm the only one that fear if we don't resolve it could get back to us badly? we've being pretty distant since we let him with the others paras and don't know how it would go, also, he does know our secret identity. (we may should stop telling more people about)
>>5000328>I don't know either, but I want to find out
"I don't know either, but we could find out," I said, "You burn bright for me Ayesha, for Ivy too."The look in Ayesha's eyes was the same as mine. The anxiety, the fear, and the excitement too. We were talking about trying something everyone said couldn't work or shouldn't work. Something wrong, not the way things are supposed to run.But it was how I was feeling. It was how she was feeling too. The only person missing was Ivy."All I know right now is I want to kiss you again," she said.I put a hand to her cheek, guiding her lips to mine. Slow, tender, lingering, with a light slip of the tongue, but finishing stronger, deeper, her hands on my scarred up chest. She pulled away with a black girl's blush, and the look set a lightness rising up in me, like I could take flight."I love you Ayesha," I said, "Can I be your boyfriend?"She covered the breaking smile over her face, pressed her forehead against my chest, arms sliding around me to hold me tight."Yeah," she said, "That'd be cool."
"-attack at Ixion's corporate headquarters in Chicago's Near North Side," Priscilla Takanawa said into the camera, "While the attack has caused no known fatalities, many have been reported injured, including children touring the building as part of Ixion's 'Bright Minds, Bright Futures' initiative. As of yet no para-folk group has claimed responsibility for the attack, with a spokesperson for the Vanguard Army denying any responsibility. Questions remain as to the persons responsible for the attack. What we do know is it began inside the building before spilling into the streets, finally stopped by the intervention of the costumed hero known to authorities as 'Pratfall'. What the jester was doing at the Ixion building is as of yet unknown, but there has been a marked uptick in super-vigilante activity since-"We walked by the news crew not giving a shit right now, hand in hand. There was a lot to worry about with everything that had gone done, but for the moment I couldn't bring myself to care. Ayesha's hand was warm in mine, her skin soft, both a match for her smile.The cuts across my back were more than worth it.Mr Nfume herded kids onto the bus. Seeing us his face went from relief to annoyance."Skipping out after a terrorist attack, Jesus Christ boy you're going to give me a stroke," he said. If the school would let him I'm sure he'd have clipped my ear.We sat together on the bus, buzzing. Did anyone guess we were together? Had anyone seen us kiss in the wreckage? I hoped not. We'd decided to keep it secret for now. We still had to talk to Ivy.Luckily the school gave us the rest of the day off.But that's where our luck ended.
We got back to Ayesha's to find Mrs Carver standing in the driveway, glaring hate at a man in a suit behind Mr Carver's protective arm. They weren't alone too, there were a couple of cops with him.It took me a second to recognize Ivy's dad. It was then I noticed her sitting in the back of his porsche, hollow eyed, her stuff piled up on the seat next to her."What's going on?" Ayesha rushed up to her parents, "Mom, Dad?"Mrs Carver shot us a look that said 'shut up and stay out of this'."She's my daughter Eddie, I have a right," Mr Chambers said."You gave up any kind of rights when you ran off to Malibu," Mr Carver said, barely keeping the civility in his voice, "What you put your daughter through-""That isn't how the courts see it," Mr Chambers said, "Her little effort at emancipation didn't play, now I'm asserting my rights as her legal guardian. Ivanna is coming home to be with her family. Her real family.""You motherfucker," Mrs Carver snapped."Christ Eddie, can you blame me?" Mr Chambers snapped back, "She's practically a drop out. She's gone from a B+ to a failing grade in every class. Who knows what the hell she's been up to? I saw the video of her 'performance', strutting around like a stripper half naked on stage. She needs someone to take responsibility for her before she falls off the deep end entirely. She needs her father.""Yeah, problem is all she's got is you," Mr Carver took his shot and it hit, Mr Chambers visibly flinching."Fact is her time with you is over," Mr Chambers said, biting off each word, "She's coming home."Ayesha ran for the porsche. I was a step behind her. She knocked on the window, trying to get Ivy's attention. But Ivy stared straight ahead, staring at nothing. Dead in the eyes. Ayesha started to choke, tears wetting her cheeks.Mr Chambers walked back over, taking out his keys. We pulled back from the car, Ayrsha stepping back against me, staring with a hot tear-stained hate at Ivy's dad.He looked at us, and shame turned into disgust."With respect to both of you, ttay away from my daughter," he said, more to me than to Ayesha, "If we see either of you skulking around our neighborhood, we will call the police.">respectfully, fuck you and fuck the police>take it in silence, it didn't change anything
>>5003511>respectfully, fuck you and fuck the policeSHIT
>>5003511>respectfully, fuck you and fuck the policeIt's a wonder he even knows about her grades
>>5003511>respectfully, fuck you and fuck the police
>>5003511>respectfully Write in "You are a failure as a father and as a human being, you already abandoned one daughter and she died without even seeing you for years, now you're taking the other one from the people who actually care about her, go fuck yourself"No reason to cover up our disgust for this...creatures.
>>5003513>>5003529>>5003561>>5003563>>5003572locked insorry, had a call
"Respectfully sir, fuck you and fuck the police," I said. The rotten no good piece of shit.Mr Chamber's eyes widened behind his glasses. I ignored him, pressing a palm to the glass, staring in at Ivy. She glanced up at me from the corner of her eyes, up at Ayesha."We're here, Ivy," Ayesha said, "We're going to be here, both of us. For you. With you." Ayesha looked ready to burst into tears. Ivy looked to hollowed out to cry."Ivy," I said, thinking I could push my hand through the glass to grab her, to pull her out.Ivy's gaze dropped down to her lap.The car started and pulled away from the curb, Mr Chambers for the moment not caring if he ran over our feet."Ivy!"A sharp u-turn and they were speeding up the street.Mr and Mrs Carver came over to join us on the sidewalk, the both of them resting a nurturing hand on their daughter. Me, I could taste acid in my throat. The fire inside me burned. If I'd wanted I could have run the car down and ripped Mr Chambers out of it with one hand.But what good would that do? He was protected by the law. He was her dad. Shit was messy, and not something I could punch my way through.But the worst thing was?"It's her birthday tomorrow," Ayesha said.I stared after the car. Happy birthday.I'll be back in a couple of days
>>5003696DangThey couldn't have waited 2 more days?
Soooo, we all crashing her house and taking her back, yeah?
>>5004189Nooooo???We can't just kidnap her, we could dig up some dirt on the asshole, expose him to free ivy, but the only real thing we can do is be there for her
>>5004189>police get called>Carver family gets in trouble>we get treated as kidnappersdon't think you thought this through bro
>>5004261I absolutely (did not) did.
So there was a question, and it went like this."What are we going to do about it?"Ayesha asked the question with an earnest little ferocity, sitting in her parents' frunchroom, hugging a pillow in a tight squeeze.It was worse than we'd thought once we got the whole story from her parents. Mr Chambers hadn't just taken Ivy back home, he'd taken her out of our school to. She'd be going to one of those private Catholic ones from now one, with nuns. Not even in Chicago proper but up in Lake Forest.I didn't even know her parents were Catholic."What can we do?" I said.Ayesha's parents had withdrawn to the kitchen for their conversation, discussing options. It hadn't seemed like there were many of them."We can't do nothing," Ayesha said, "We love her."That was true, if nothing else was. We loved her."It's funny, I spent so long trying to figure out if I loved her or if I was in love with her, now I really know," Ayesha said, sinking her chin into her pillow.Another problem I couldn't punch away. My least favorite kind of problem.>its her birthday tomorrow, maybe we can crash her birthday party at least>for now we need to give her space, figure out the smart play
>>5005837>its her birthday tomorrow, maybe we can crash her birthday party at least>"But I want to know, why pull this stunt now?">"What's the background on this school she is being sent too?"This is fishy as fuck, it feels like the old bastard is being told to do this.
>>5005837>its her birthday tomorrow, maybe we can crash her birthday party at least
"Maybe we can't do much, but we sure as hell can crash her birthday party," I said.Why all this now though? Something didn't feel right. Maybe I was being paranoid but it seemed fishy, her parents swooping in like this."If its her parents throwing it I know exactly where it is," Ayesha said, "Whenever they have big celebrations they always have them at this bougie country club up in River Forest. Her dad is a financial broker to a bunch of important people, it impresses his clients that he's even a member.""Country clubs are still a thing?" I said.She nodded with a scornful little smirk.I got a text on my phone. My other phone.Grant - We need to meet. Our 'friend' in the DPA has questions. Tonight.Tonight? Had to be about what went down at Ixion. Our 'DPA friend' was probably Penderose. I guess this was a more polite way of getting to me instead of pulling me out of school.Me - What time/whenGrant - 10 pm. Water Tower."I've got something I need to do tonight," I said, slipping the phone away.Ayesha nodded. "Be careful," she said, then switched her hug on the pillow for one on me, leaning up to kiss my cheek. I hugged her back, kissed her cheek back, found the strength somehow to keep my ,ips from sliding over hers because I knew if I did the kiss wouldn't stop any time soon. Holding her though, it eased some of the anger boiling inside me, being held by her. The idea she thought she wasn't good enough for me or Ivy was the craziest thing I'd ever heard. I squeezed her tighter, holding her close."I'll see you tomorrow," I said."You better," she said, her face pressed into my neck.When I let her go I saw Mr Carver watching from the side entrance, a troubled frown on his face. Whatever he wanted to say he didn't, but I had a feeling we'd be having a conversation soon enough.I made my goodbyes, heading on home.Spring was starting its slow crawl into Chicago's streets but it was still plenty cold. I took the bus home.There was still plenty of time between now and my meeting with Ms Grant, and I had plenty of worried texts from Dad I needed to answer.I climbed the stairs, voices fluting down."-nice place you got here, Joe," a man's voice, muffled by the door."No need to lie to me Karl," Dad replied.
Wasn't Ivy going to get Emancipated at 16 (Her birthday) anyways? we may just show her that were here for her until them, and help her up to get it done. then, she doesn't have to answer to her parents at all. (also, just got here)
I came in to the apartment to see Dad and Uncle Karl sitting together at the kitchen table, Miss Flores off to one side. She watched Uncle Karl like she didn't know what to make of what she was seeing, lips pursed in concern. Miss Flores hadn't passed Karl's notice, and his eyes strayed over to her, or more literally her legs, while talking to Dad."Hey there kid," Dad said as I came in, "Look who finally came around to say hello.""Uncle Karl," I said."Pretty crazy what happened today, right?" Uncle Karl said, "Heard you caught a piece of shrapnel in the excitement. Thought I'd come over and see if you're okay."I shrugged. "Nothing to talk about," I said, dropping my bag on the couch. "We bumped into each other on the tour," Uncle Karl said."Pretty wild," Dad said, "We got notified by the school right as we saw the headlines.""Awful," Miss Flores said, "You're sure you're all right Eric?"I nodded. "Where'd you get to after?" Dad asked."Ayesha's," I said, "Thought I should get her home safe.""The girl you were kissin'?" Uncle Karl said, "Yeah, caught it on the security feed. Real teenage sweetheart stuff. Gave me a toothache."I paused at the fridge as Dad's eyebrows shot up. Miss Flores hid a sparkling grin behind her coffee cup."I thought you said she wasn't your girlfriend," Dad said, "Something change?""Don't tease the boy," Miss Flores said.I drank from a bottle of orange juice, gulping it down to hide my burning cheeks."What about the other one, the blonde," Dad said."Ivy," Miss Flores supplied."Yeah, her," he said, "Karl, you've got to understand my son's life is a damn Archie comic. I swear he goes between girls more often than I shave.""So long as he's being a gentleman about it," Miss Flores said, not entirely approving."Kid's just flexing out a bit," Uncle Karl said, "Word to the wise kid, do it when you're young. Once you hit thirty its all down hill.""Do 'it'?" Dad said, "I don't know if I want to know what 'it' is supposed to mean. But you are okay, right?" Dad asked, turning in his chair to frown at me."Yeah," I said as Mangy came up to rub against my calf, her tail curling around it. I reached down to scritch her forehead.>ask Uncle Karl for his story about what happened>don't ask, no need to make him suspicious
>>5005959>ask Uncle Karl for his story about what happened
>>5005958Yeah, it was going to be tomorrow too, but her dad must have pulled strings to prevent that. For what reason we don't know yet.>>5005959Fuck is Uncle Karl doing here?>ask Uncle Karl for his story about what happenedThey might have suspicions on who we are, but lets see if Mr. Security Chief slips on some info.
>>5005959>don't ask, no need to make him suspiciouswe can ask pratfall later, him seeing us in the security camara gets me kinda weird. (we can also ask Dad after Karl left if he mentioned anything.
>>5005959>ask Uncle Karl for his story about what happenedThis giant mutant burst out of the building, it would be more suspicious not to ask wtf happened.
>>5005974We did walk into him in the middle of the tour, but the fact his superiors had the potential eyes on us is worrying. Thankfully we didn't get involved in the fight.
"What happened anyway?" I asked, "It was pretty confusing. We evacuated the building then that giant 'thing' burst through the glass. The news said it was some kind of supervillain attack."Uncle Karl looked around before taking out his phone. He turned it off then handed it to me."Put it in the freezer," he said. I did what he asked, not quite sure what he was getting at. He looked at his robotic hand. "I want to start by saying Ixion has been good to me," he said, "They've done right by me where the VA's failed. I've got a good salary and a good job but if I'm being honest...the place is creepy. They got all kinds of weird shit going on in there, shit I don't even know how to describe. I don't know much and I don't want to say much, they had us all sign crazy NDAs when we signed up, but all I am saying is don't think what you heard on TV is the truth.""We saw that weird flying mech thing," I said."Tactical Enhancement Armor," Uncle Karl said, "Clunky name but wait until they send it to marketing, they'll think up something snappy. Hell, seems like the place is run by the marketing division sometimes. We sold a warehouse of the flightless version to the Chicago PD last week. Part of a 'security enhancement' deal we cut with the city."Well that was worth knowing."We get break ins all the time," he said, "Sometimes its just activists protesting whatever hippy shit they got up their ass, but other times...like I said, the place is weird. They got the PR guy spinning bullshit to the hot Japanese lady from the news while us humps are packing up the prototype and..."He stopped, knowing he'd said too much."Anyway, I only came by to make sure the kid was okay," he said, getting up, "Don't want your grandpa pulling my arm off for letting his favorite grandson get hurt. Can I get my phone back?"I went into the freezer and passed it over. "I've got to be careful what I say, they're always listening," he said before switching it back on, "You want to go catch a drink sometime Joe? I can introduce you to some of the guys.""Sometime, maybe," Dad said."Anyway, nice to meet you Carmen, good to see the kid is in one piece, but I best be making tracks."We waved goodbye as Uncle Karl slouched out the door, looking more troubled than relieved. Maybe he had come by to make sure I was okay, maybe there'd been something else to it, but either way his visit left an anxious knot in my belly."What do you think?" Dad asked. Miss Flores shrugged, starting on the dishes.Mangy stared at the closed door. The cat wasn't all she seemed, I knew that. What was going on with the cat though, I couldn't guess."I'm going out tonight with some friends," I said, "I'll be out late.""Try to get home before midnight," Dad said, knowing it was unlikely."You still have homework," Miss Flores said."On a Friday night?" Dad countered, "It'll be fine."
I didn't hang around the house too long before bailing. If nothing else I could hit the street a little. The Council of Crime was meeting soon, and we were all making a point of hitting them as hard as we could before it convened.After switching into my costume I took off into the night, making trouble for the south side bangers trying to creep their way into the west side. Not every criminal was a 'criminal'. I knew a couple of the tamer corner boys who could get mad fierce but weren't about killing for no reason. Same with the girls walking the street tricking, the ones who couldn't take their trade to somewhere safer. The sort needed protecting from bad johns as well as their pimps. More than a few weren't quite of age, more than a couple were strung out on something, and a couple were caught in the danger zone of the trans thing and were most likely to end up with a cut throat or beaten half to death and left dumped in an alleyway. With the weather warming up it meant the trades were starting to get back into full swing again.Dollars for dope, dope for a blowjob, all kinds of stuff. Things I couldn't avoid seeing if I was going to do more than rescue cats from a tree.It was ugly out here, the other face of Chicago outside the Loop and the North Side. A two faced kind of city, beautiful one day and a horrorshow the next. The best skyline in the world hiding some of the most poverty strangled hoods you could imagine. No other city like it.I did what I could, and its not like the dangers stopped on the wealth line. A frat house could be as dangerous as an Englewood corner for the wrong kind of person.I stopped a car jacking on the verge of getting violent, thumping the guy down before a terrified woman clutching the steering wheel."You good?" I asked. She shook but nodded. For her sake I left the jacker on a rooftop. He could figure out how to get down.Coming around ten I headed into the heart of the city, making for the Water Tower up on Michigan Avenue. Chicago by night was all tall dark buildings webbed with golden streets, streams of light marking pathways through the dark.It was a conspicious place to meet, a landmark like that, but I landed in the shadoiws of the tower itself, looking for Ms Grant and our 'friend'. Too late for the tourist crowd and with the art gallery inside closed up, it was good enough for what we were doing.They sat on opposite benches. Ms Grant in a large dark coat strapped shut, Penderose sitting with his head bobbed forward in that vulture like way. A fountain bubbled between them.
"What's good?" I said, springing down from the roof of the Water Tower.Ms Grant turned her chin but didn't smile. She had a cool look hiding a lot of anger. Agent Penderose smiled. A smiling Penderose was never a good thing."Hotspur," he said, "Perhaps you saw the news about Ixion?""Maybe," I said."One of your compatriots got caught up in the action, the clown, what was her name? Pratfall?" he said, "I was wondering if you had any information on what transpired.""A para...folk attack, of unknown origin," he said, "The DPA is interested, and not entirely believing Ixion's public explanation."Like they weren't in each other's pockets."You provided some information to the Chicago Tribune about Ixion's alleged experiments," he said, "The DPA would like to know the...veracity of such stories.""We aren't friends," Pednderose said, "But we don't need to be enemies either. Help me figure out what Ixion is up to, Hotspur, for the good of both of us.">Tell him nothing, he could go spit>Tell him a little at least>Offer a trade for the information (trade what exactly?)
>>5006104>Offer a trade for the information (trade what exactly?)Info on the head of Ixion maybe?
>>5006104>Offer a trade for the information (trade what exactly?)>"What's the PDA planning with all the Power Armor Ixion is handing over to you? If you want a bonus, maybe give me some info on where the Para Blacksite was moved." >Tell him a little at least>"Far as I know the thing busting out was some science experiment. They got some cloning thing going on, bet you 5 bucks the next big bad is going to crawl out like Frankenstein's monster.">>5006106We don't really need that, talking to him is enough to know he's a fuck.
I'll be back tomorrow, vote stays open until I'm back
Do you guys think he have some information about the rock? or its origins? the DPA did study about it before it, would that be a good info to have on it? (Although I don't know if the DPA know that Ixion have it on them (Althought could be good have em fight or plot on axion))>>5006130thanks for running!
>>5006159He might know the rock, but not exactly what it is, if he isn't Houndmaster, or they got it in some deeper level he doesn't have access too. Like the freakshow that got out recently.
>>5006104>>Offer a trade for the information (trade what exactly?)>>5006109Supporting this, I have more or less a want the DPA and Axion to fight for the rock so it could get us a breakthrough to get the rock for ourself in the future (how, I don't know is a plan on progress, but the more the big baddies fight with themselves/are more in each others toes, the better) We could let on with "Axion have some plans out of this world alright" and if the info he's give us is good we could let on a little more.>"you may want to protect the city from "Freaks" like us, but whatever door Axion is on, could trouble us all, Penderose."
>>5006719>>5006109>>5006106locked innot a lot of people around lately.
>>5006890It's cuz the quest is so sporadic, I keep a tab open for it on my phone and check it once a day, but anyone on PC or something probably doesn't do that, the key to a large number of people is consistency or some way to let them know that you're live, like a throwaway Twitter account or something
>>5006890Shit man sorry I've been busy as fuck this week. And even short breaks tend to drop participation a bit
>>5006896a twitter could be good, supporting.
"Okay, information for information," I said, "What's the DPA planning with all the power armor they've bought off Ixion?"Penderose nodded. "Fair question, but it has a simple answer. It's all about escalation. Since the governor was assassinated the DPA's budget has seen a marked increase. Our good director figured it was time to give our operations more teeth, and Ixion is looking to field test its equipment. Taken as is our non-powered agents can't go toe-to-toe with paranormal criminals, but in power armor? It evens things out. No more being outgunned by a teenager with dynamite sweat for instance.""If you want more specifics, the Armored Division is being organized with the Chicago PD SWAT. It will be the first response arm of the DPA once its fully activated.""And when does it go from paranormal enforcement to criminal enforcement?" Ms Grant asked, "When do we see those suits stomping through New City gunning down corner boys?"Penderose shrugged. "I neither know nor care about such things, my tasks are limited to containing the threat of the paranormally afflicted. It's a medical crisis, you understand. Who knows what kind of person could be given such immense power, or what such powers will do to the mind of an ordinary man? Criminals are of no concern unless or until they display paranormal affliction.""Now was that worth a nugget of information in return?" he said with his greasy smile.I clenched my jaw. It wasn't a hot scoop but it confirmed a few suspicions anyway and gave me a heads up on what to expect next time I tangled with the feds."Whatever broke out of the Ixion labs broke out of it, not in," I said, "They have some kind of cloning project. Good money says the giant you saw Pratfall knock out is connected to it. I know they called it a 'prototype'. Gigas, I think."Penderose dipped his chin down in thought."And is there anything else?" he asked."Not for free," I said, "Do you know where the black site has been moved to? Tell me that and I'll tell you more."A pained look crossed his face. "My clearance doesn't go that high," he said, "Be aware we're separate departments. I've been digging into those people myself, I hate a mystery. As far as I can tell they're an off the books operations under the purview of the Joint Chiefs, possibly not even them.""Under the president?" I said.
Penderose smiled. "Please, the president only knows what he needs to know," he said, "Government agencies, task forces, what have you, they have a way of becoming authorities under themselves. This one is old, much older than you might think considering the incident which created para-folk. I believe its an outgrowth of Project Blue Book, amalgamated with other, similar task forces.""Project Blue Book, the UFO thing?" Ms Grant said."Among other things," he said, "UFOs were only one of the phenomena they were charged with investigating, at least from the information released to the public. Truth is despite their mandate Project Blue Book was used as a cover for funneling money to various projects and investigations entirely unconnected to the mission brief, until it was disbanded in the late 60s, at least publically. It's not surprising, its quite common even in the most minor of governmental departments. It's quietly grown over the years, a shadow agency of sorts. Many weren't aware they existed, even at the highest levels they weren't aware. I had personal suspicions, fund alotments with no clear purpose in this budget or another, but nothing provable.""That's what I know about our friends and their experiments," he said, "Is that worth something?">tell him a little more about Ixion's projects>not good enough, he needs to do better
>>5006926>tell him a little more about Ixion's projects
>>5006926>tell him a little more about Ixion's projectsMaybe I'm stupid but arming a weasel like Penderose against our enemies doesn't really seem like a bad thing
>>5006896>>5006920Twitter is fucking cancer and only attracts the wrong crowd.>>5006925But consistency is important. Putting a date to check back in, and actually being there, would go a long way of keeping people around. Saying, you'll be gone for a few days means nobody is going to look till the end of the week, which is what that normally implies. If you can't, then do the common sense thing most QMs forget, and just say you'll be busy and something came up, or your stating late after preparing materials or dinner or something.. Even interacting with the thread at all when you don't have a run will drive up interest because it means you pay attention. Just never, EVER, get a Discord or Twitter. It always turns into a self indulgent shitpit, and Twitter funnels trash into it. Use the thread consistently, and make it look like people are actually here, and the problem fixes itself. Another big thing I've only seen one other QM do that I don't think you will do is, make entirely new threads every time you run. That screams low attention span, and lack of content retention.
>>5006926Actually....I think Penderose is the exact sort of person we should reveal magic bullshit too. Think about it, we tell him some semi related stuff about the Meteor and what groups are interested. Let him know that there is likely a good few of them with Para Abilities to read minds, if he doesn't believe the truth about magic. Bam, we got a paranoid nut with an ego the size of his waifus anus, setting up lures to get info on the Evil Wizard Cult.
>>5006956He'll get himself killed, we don't like penderose at all but he's the weasel we know, anyone they send to replace him is probably going to be worse to deal with than him, not personally because penderose is fucking awful to be around, but in this "business" arrangement we have he's serviceable
>>5006965He's already investigating, who's to say he won't get compromised by a demon in his skin suit.
>>5006942>>5006932>>5006943>>5006956locking that in
"What do you know about the artefact I stole from the government?" I asked."A little, not much," he confessed, "I know it was a rock or some kind of extraterrestrial mineral, a remnant from the Explosion. Our friends are desperate to get their hands on it again.""It's a little more than that," I said, "It's the source of our powers. Para-folk I mean. Ixion got their hands on it, and Julian Dodd thinks he can use it to make and sell super powers to the rich and famous."Penderose hissed, eyes wide in rage."You gave it to them?" he said.I shook my head. "They hired a mercenary, a real psycho called Houndmaster and outfitted him with some next generation toys. He caught me in a trap and took it. Almost took my head along with it.""Small graces," Penderose said with bitter sarcasm. "Well I think we can both agree neither of us want Ixion controlling the stone.""You might not think much of me, Hotspur, or my methods, but in many ways we are aligned," he said, getting up from the park bench, "In my own way I'm trying to protect this city and this country. I am a patriot.""A flag pin on your lapel doesn't make you a patriot," I said. For whatever patriotism was worth."I can tell you this much more," he said, "Consider it a friendly warning. An election is looming to replace the murdered governor. The DPA has recieved assurances of further increases to our powers, less oversight, not more, no matter who wins. Democrat or Republican, anti para-freak platforms might not be playing well in Chicago but are doing wonderful numbers in Illinois as a whole. It doesn't matter who wins, things are going to get worse for your community.""Not if I can help it," Ms Grant said."And how is that going?" Penderose asked with his oily smile, "With all those clever injunctions."She was left with no answer but a seething glare."Humans, we're herd animals," he said, "When we're threatened, when we're scared, we group together for protection. We look for strength and certainty to guide us out of danger. But only with those we recognize as herd. Your people, the para-freaks? They're both the threat the people are scared of and not recognized as 'herd'.""Such valiant efforts you're wasting on people who will never accept you," he said, "But maybe one day they will love you, but only after they've made a martyr of you. Have a goodnight Hotspur, Ms Grant."
With that he left, information exchanged. Maybe it would lead to something, maybe it would lead to nothing, but if there was one thing I trusted about Penderose it was his hate, and I saw true hatred when we talked about Ixion. I'd learned a little, if nothing else. It certainly made me feel like a small part of a bigger game. Every hand turned against each other, no one trusting anyone else."Was that worth doing?" I asked Ms Grant, feeling very fifteen.She shrugged. "Who can say?" she said, "Penderose is a worm, but he's a predictable worm. We work with who we can, not who we like.""I just wish there were more people we could actually trust, people who are willing to do the right thing because its the right thing," I said."It's hard out here," she said, "This city's broken a lot of good people and rewarded a lot of bad ones. We do what we can."And I can do more than most. It was a reminder of Fire Watch's upcoming raid on the Council of Crime.>fill Grant in on the plan, busting heads wasn't enough this needed to end in arrests>leave her out of it, this wasn't political. It was about Fire Watch taking a stand against the gangs
>>5007051>fill Grant in on the plan, busting heads wasn't enough this needed to end in arrestsLet's not be selfish here, it's not about fire watch. It's about the city.
>>5007051>fill Grant in on the plan, busting heads wasn't enough this needed to end in arrests>"But let us be the ones to do the break up, if nothing else catching the leaders of criminal organizations that the powers that be ignore or enable would be good."
>>5007051>fill Grant in on the plan, busting heads wasn't enough this needed to end in arrestsAlso either her or CHUCK THE FIRECHAD should run for mayor, we really need someone there that isn't a total prick
>>5007051>>fill Grant in on the plan, busting heads wasn't enough this needed to end in arrests>>5007052supportingGrant is our connection to the legal side of the city and she's being good to us. keep your enemies close and your friends even closer (?)
"You should know something," I said, "There's a big meeting going down between the heads of Chicago's crime families. We're planning to bust it up.""Is this that 'Council of Crime' I've been hearing about?" she asked. I nodded. She snickered. "Hell of a name.""It would be a good idea if you were ready to pounce with some trusted law enforcement guys after it happens," I said, "Maybe even someone from the media.""I'll be selective, tell the wrong cop and all we'll be doing is tipping the gangsters off," she said, "But if you want the boys in blue closing in, you'll need proof of criminal conspiracy. It isn't a crime for private citizens to congregate, even if they're known shitbirds. Get them on a wire saying something incriminating, anything, then we move in.""Yeah, I get it," I said, "Also, you know this governor thing. The mayor's dropping out to run for it, right?""Yeah," she said."So there'll be a mayoral election too," I said, "Maybe I know a guy could be a good candidate, if he had the right support. A friend of ours in the mayor's office could go a long way.""Who's this?" she asked."Chuck Hayward, decorated fire fighter, family man, a good dude," I said, "He helped me take down the Ooze.""And evacuated the hotel when the Vanguard Army attacked," she said, "He could work, if he was interested.""Another thing," I said, "When we do take down the Council, it has to be Fire Watch doing the heavy lifting. What Penderose said pissed me off, but he isn't wrong. We need to prove to everyone we're here to protect the people, all of the people, and we're no one to be feared. We need this, Ms Grant, so innocent kids won't get harassed anymore and guys will think twice before calling up the CCV hotlines.""Fair," she said, "We'll wait on your signal. When does it go down?""Next week," I said, "Out in Campton Hills. They have a lodge where they'll be meeting.""And your source on this is reliable?" she asked. I nodded, not wanting to tell her it was the same man who had kidnapped her and handed her over to the Outfit. I don't think she'd take that well. "I'll get organized, get everything ready," she said, "In the mean time, what are you going to do?""In the mean time?" I said, "I have a birthday party to crash."
It occured to me yesterday that Agent Penderose is pretty much Crispin Glover
>>5007112....I can't unsee it, if his face was pointier, I could see him liking hentai, good taste aside. He looks like a pedo jew.
>>5007112I picture some weird amalgam of him, the fed from iron giant, and the mind hunter guy
>>5007112it check outs ngl, Although I've always thought of Crocker from fairly oddparents (yes, my knowledge of actors is as big as a peanut).
Lake Forest Country Club. Where the rich go to relax. Where corporate types entertain clients with a round of golf. Where even the busboys and wait staff were the children of the local middle class. You couldn't really call Lake Forest Chicago, with its wide green spaces and million dollar homes sequestered from each other by long drives and forested acres. It's not a place you could catch an uber and a taxi? Forget about it. If you didn't do your own driving you had the money to be driven. This is the place where if you saw a black guy there was a 90% chance he'd played for either the Bulls or the Bears.People don't have homes here, they have estates.And currently there was some big deal going on at the country club.Ayesha drove. I always thought of Ayesha as kind of rich, at least comfortably middle class. Her parents worked but they didn't 'work'. Now we were pulling up on real money and she seemed as out of place as I did. We both dressed as nice as we could without being stupid about it. I'd put on a collared shirt with a tie even, a splash of cologne.We were going to rescue our girl, at least in spirit.We hadn't talked much on the drive up, too nervous. Now I was feeling kind of revolted.Already I was seeing the guests. None of them could be called Ivy's friends. Rich parents ushering in spoiled brat kids, clients of her dad's no doubt. Valets greeted them with smiles, ushering them inside before parking their cars. It was a fortune in cars, from the latest European imports to the latest thing off the production mill at Tesla. Car jackers were wasting their time stealing the second hand shitboxes rolling around the city. They needed to pool some bus fare, get themselves out here where the pickings were richer.Shit I'd help them even.We drew up slow. A valet, some Asian kid barely older than we were, stepped forward clearing his throat."Are you here for the Chambers' party?" he said, "If not I'm afraid the club has been booked out.""Yeah, we are," Ayesha said."All right, leave your car with me and head on up to the front door," he said, "Show your invitation to the manager and they'll let you right in."Invitation? Shit.But we were here and weren't backing down. Ayesha handed over the keys and we got out. She squirmed all nervous. I held her hand, gave it a squeeze. She flashed me a smile.The front door loomed up the drive, smiling attendants greeting smiling guests."Well," Ayesha said, "How do we do this?">we bluff our way in, see how it works>maybe we should try sneaking in>push our way in, God help anyone trying to stop me
>>5007140>we bluff our way in, see how it works>push our way in, God help anyone trying to stop meDiplomacy, or "Diplomacy", we get in.
>>5007140>>maybe we should try sneaking inWe may not have high Charisma stats but we do have ..... jumping really high, and a buttload of training sneaking in bad guys places. after that we can blend in with the other and get to ivy
I don't have time tonight for another update so I'll be back next week instead. vote staying open until I dothanks for playing
>>5007112I've always imagined him looking like pic related
>>5007176See you then, same time as today?
>>5007140>maybe we should try sneaking inStealth is not optional for this mission
>>5007980>>5007420>>5007249>>5007159>>5007152locked intime to sneak
"Not by walking through the front door," I said, grabbing Ayesha. I pulled her behind a hedge. Ayesha might not be used to sneaking around but I was gettingpretty good at it.We skirted around through an artful stand of trees, a screen of foliage blocking out the other car park. This one was filled with working class cars, some in pretty bad need of a check up. A couple of guys hung by a service entrance smoking. Down from them was a chain link fence with the green leaves of a hedge pushing through it. Behind that hedge would be the expansive golf course the club's warehouse boasted about.I lead Ayesha by hand. One of the guys wore a grease stained apron and a hairnet, the other the red vest of a valet but unbuttoned, his shirt untucked. They both looked about done with the bullshit of their jobs, dragging on loose cigarettes that weren't 100% tobacco, sharing an exhausted silence.When we crossed the gravely car park they didn't call out or nothing, but when we got close the valet looked me up and down."You're dressed wrong," he said, puffing on his smoke."How do you mean?" I asked.He waved his smoke at me. "Denim jeans, man, denim jacket. Club doesn't let in guests wearing denim. You're going to need to change.""What about the staff?" I asked."Even the staff, man, even the freakin' landscapers," he said."What if I'm not a guest?" I said.The off-the-clock valet grinned, catching my meaning. "Then good luck homie," he said, offering me the filter end of the smoke, "Want a drag?""I'm good," I said, palm out in a polite 'no'.They didn't stop us going in. I held Ayesha's hand tight.A clamor came from the kitchen, a chef bellowing in his best Gordon Ramsey impersonation at the rest of the staff, harried looking wait staff bursting out with platters of food. There was a hook lined with jackets. I slipped mine off and slung it on, taking down one of the red vests and buttoning it up.I handed another to Ayesha. It wouldn't fool anyone for long, but maybe long enough."You've done this before?" Ayesha asked, buttoning her vest up.I shrugged, throwing a dish cloth over my shoulder to add to the illusion.We snuck into the kitchen and the chaos inside. The chef brandished a cleaver, shouting at a girl sliding dishes onto a tray, the girl flinching as he barked in her ear. The clatter of dishes was constant with the gush of a powerful house scouring anything clean that was passed to the dish hand, handing them on to a dish hand to dry off, who added them back to the stack to go down to the line chefs to use, a constant clamoring culinary production line. Swearing was frequent, insults flew, and when ever the chef told someone what to do it was met with a loud 'yes chef!' and they did it.It was so busy no one noticed as we moved into it.
"Remember, if anyone asks you to recommend a drink to accompany their meal, its white wine with white meat, red wine with red meat, and whisky goes with anything," an older valet told their junior, "If they decide they want to play with you by being wine snobs and ask for specifics they know you don't know, grin and bear it. There's nothing you can do about an asshole being an asshole, but when you complain about them you do it behind closed doors. Trust me, we all know who the worst ones are.""Thanks," the junior said."No one expects you to be perfect on your first day," he continued, "Take it easy, listen. One thing you should do though is if you're going to ask a question make it interesting. Don't ask about the weather. We can all see its a nice day outside. Interesting questions leave an impression and lead to generous tips.""Thanks," the junior said again."But not morbid questions," he said, "Our goal is to make the guests feel welcome and included, as if they've come home. We don't want them thinking about the stresses of real life.""Thanks, I understand," the junior said with a nod."Here's your first one up, take this to the main hall," the senior said, passing the junior a tray, "We're hosting some kind of sweet sixteen thing for a member's kid. Maybe congratulate her or something. Be careful about the mom though, she's one of the known assholes I talked about.""Will do!" the junior shot their senior a little salute, slipping out with the tray in one hand."Good luck!" he called. Then he noticed us. "More new people? Christ and you're wearing the wrong pants. If Hollenmeyer sees...ah fuck it, we're short staffed as it is."He pulled me over. "Take this tray to table sixteen," he said, "Don't mind Mr Beauridge, just talk to Mrs Beauridge. Mrs Beauridge, not the nurse, got that?""Yes sir," I said, balancing the tray of soups. I'd figure out what he meant later."And you," he said to Ayesha, "Take this ice bucket over to table eleven. They've decided to start the party early with some sparkling wine. Sparkling wine, remember, they're the exact kind of assholes to be pedantic about what is or isn't real champagne."We went out together, down a service corridor and out into a dining room. The floor, the cieling, the beams, were all polished wood. And it was polished to gleam, with tall windows looking out on the rolling green golf courses with thickets of trees to add the hint of what had once been a dense green forest. A doe trotted across the golf course, moving from one stand of trees to the other looking for food.
The dining hall was full without being crammed, thick with conversation. Blue and silver streamers hung from the beams and a banner unfurled across the entrance read 'Happy 16th Ivanna!'Most of the diners had a median age of about forty-five. Some of them had kids with them though. There wasn't a hint of denim among them, most either dressed for the luxury of a day of golf with the exact kind of douchebag energy I thought only existed in 80s movies. Everyone had perfect hair and perfect teeth. It was unsettling.I looked for any table Ivy might be at but caught no sight of her."Table sixteen, remember?" Ayesha said, prodding me in the back.>forget table sixteen, I'm looking for Ivy>table sixteen, right, no need to break cover
>>5009843>table sixteen, right, no need to break coverkeep on sneakin, figure out where she's at then make a plan with Ayesha
>>5009843>table sixteen, right, no need to break coverWe just got here, might as well start searching on the way to table 16seems like a miserable party for a 16 year old tho
>>5009843>table sixteen, right, no need to break coverScope out the place
>>5009843>table sixteen, right, no need to break coverMaybe keep and ear out to hear anything about ivy, and break away when we have the change and use our super sense to hear anything about Ivy better (Although Idk if eric get disoriented when is used with a lot of people around)
"Table sixteen, right," I said. No need to break cover yet.I found table sixteen and when I did kind of wished I hadn't. There was a man I could only call the living dead strapped into a wheel chair festoned with all kinds of pumps to keep him alive. He was old and waxy, with only wisps of silver hair left on a liver spotted head. His eyes were glazed and milky, he probably couldn't see.But the most disturbing part was the 'work' done to his face. An effort at a face lift, what looked like a chin implant. Efforts to hide the age that just made him look even worse.And he breathed with a loud rhythm accompanied by the hiss and groan of the pumps plugged into him.Mr Beauridge. The woman next to him must be his wife. She was younger than he was but then again so was Chicago. Maybe she'd been a trophy wife in the 70s or something. She paid little attention to her husband, eyeing up the crowd. Eyeing up me in an unsettling way as she smiled, her face stiff with the plastic shine of one too many cosmetic surgeries.The other woman had to be the nurse. She was Korean, probably Dad's age. Dressed nice but no where near as nice as everyone else and kept a satchel of medical tools close."Your soups ma'am," I said, remembering to address Mrs Beauridge and no one else."Well thank you very much," she said, leaning forward a little to flash a bit of cleavage, "You must be new, I haven't seen you around before, and we're regulars. I know all the bus boys.""First day," I mumbled. I grabbed the pepper mill from the table. "Cracked pepper?" I said, looking for Ivy over her head. Ivy or Ayesha, or anyone.Ayesha was a few tables down, struggling to uncork the champagne bottle for the men waiting, men unhappy about the wait."Please, crack away," Mrs Beauridge said, stirring her soup."And the others," I looked to her husband and the nurse."Oh don't mind them, darling," Mrs Beauridge said, "Why don't you go fetch a bottle of wine. Bring a glass for yourself if you like."I swallowed and she giggled. "I'm teasing! Flustering the bus boys is one of the few delights left to me. But please, bring back a good bottle of red, and quickly now! Mommy's getting thirsty."Oh lord.A loud pop had my back up. Not a gun shot but close enough, my heart starting to pound. Down at the other table, Ayesha panicked as sparkling wine gushed out of the bottle, splashing on the floor. She poured as quick as she could into a glass and nearly spilled it all over the table. It amused half the table and annoyed the other half, but both sides were smug. She poured out what had survived into the glasses then dumped the bottle back into the ice bucket, heading back painfully aware of the attention she'd attracted.
I skirted over as we made our way back to the kitchen."You're doing fine," I said, my hand on the small of her back. She visibly relaxed.We went to the back and the senior valet was waiting."Bottle of red for the Beauridge's," I said."Careful now," he said, "When the cougar gets some wine in her she gets flirty.""She's already flirty enough for me," I muttered, "What's the big thing anyway, some kind of birthday party?""Yeah, some rich stockbroker's decided to show off for his daughter. Heard he's put down about a cool million on this party.""Probably more showing off for his clients though, right?" Ayesha said, "I don't think any girl's idea of fun party is hanging out with a bunch of old people at a country club.""You're probably right," he said while checking the wine rack, "But hey, its all good for us. The crowd out there'll be giving juicy tips all day, and heck Simon thought he saw Scottie Pippin at one table. Not a bad day to be working.""What about the birthday girl, where's she at?" I asked as he slid out a bottle.The valet shrugged, handing me a bottle of red for the Beauridge table."We've got a lot to do today so don't slack off," he said, pushing me back through the service door with a couple of wine glasses in hand.I took my time getting back to the fleshy cougar and her machine-bound husband, weaving through the tables keeping an eye out for Ivy.I turned and almost ran right into one of the last people I wanted to see.Mrs Chambers wore a tight, flattering dress and a fake smile that for a second narrowed at the sight of me. She'd only met me the once though, and ducking my head hoped she didn't recognize me at all."You," she said though, clicking fingers in front of my face, "You're out of uniform."The thing about Ivy was, in some ways she was her mother's daughter, and Mrs Chamber was as dazzling as she was. Possibly more so. But there was something else about Mrs Chambers, and maybe it was just because I knew a thing or two about her, but there was no warmth in her sculpted cheeks or the depths of her eyes. It was all mercenary calculations, weighing, measuring, dismissing."Standards are slipping," she said, and I figured she'd make a complaint to someone about it, but for now dismissed me as nothing but another hired hand.Good. I guess.I moved around another table. Mr Chambers laughed a forced kind of laugh as he preened for the attention of a tall man I also recognized. Director Miscampbell of the DPA, the Old Hollywood looking head of the para-folk gestapo. He had a red haired woman around his own age on his arm, a wife I guess. I wondered if she knew the good director was screwing Semper Fi. Wondering what he was doing here, I could only guess he was a client of Mr Chamber's firm. Director Miscampbell didn't know me from mud but Mr Chambers would. I kept my head down, moving behind the Stephen King looking jagoff.
I could only weave around so long before being forced back to the Beauridge table. I set down the bottle of wine, Mrs Beauridge batting her eyes at me, Mr Beauridge continuing to stare into nothing, the nurse staring down at her lap.It was all kinds of unpleasant."Care for a sniff?" Mrs Beauridge said, swirling the wine in her glass."We're real busy ma'am," I said."Please, call me Jessica," she said."We're real busy, Jessica," I said.She grinned. "Maybe on your break then," she said.I backed away, keeping my smile but wanting to run, backed right up into another waiter. The tray slipped out of their hands and crashed into the ground, splattering some kind of creamy chicken and mushroom across the floor along with a glass of coke that shattered into small glass shards."Shit!" the waiter said, face clenched as if they might burst into tears.It got attention, and I was at the center of it, dozens of tables all distracted by the spectacle. The senior valet came out smiling, grabbed their junior and me, towing us back to the kitchen."Well you're both fired!" he said with an angry kind of lightness."Come on Nick, I need this job," the junior said, and they really were starting to cry.Me, I didn't even work here."You're going to have to go," Nick, the senior valet, said, "I'll try to save your jobs but with this crowd there's no way to know. Mean time get your stuff and get out."The junior nodded when we were in the back area. Me, I glanced back through the open door to see a wide eyed Ayesha staring back."Are you listening?" Nick said, getting my attention, "Take off the vest and skidaddle, shift's over. I'll text you if you get another one. Don't hold your breath though.">may as well do what he said and not cause more of a scene, trust Ayesha could find her>you know what, I don't even work here. Take off the vest then head right back out
>>5009949How about making a bigger Scene, and slip up to go looking for ivy while everyone is busy in the mess?(Yes, I am highly retarded with loss all win all plans)
>>5009964>>5009949if we dont get enough vote, you can change this to>you know what, I don't even work here. Take off the vest then head right back out
>>5009949I thought you said you were going to be back next week?
>>5009980I found a window to run in
>>5009949You need to stick to your schedule dude, unless people catch the post numbers going up, browsing through the catalogue, I wouldn't know you were running. When you say you'll run next week, run next week.>>5009982Or bare minimum, call it BEFORE the same damn day you run. This is why you don't have people voting. You don't at bare minimum leave a post ahead of time.>>5009949>you know what, I don't even work here. Take off the vest then head right back out
>>5009985my schedule has become a lot more slippery than it used to be, I don't have the luxuries I used to have. I didn't know I'd have today free until today. I'm sorry if you feel like you're missing out but the fact is I'm playing by ear when looking for time to post.But just as a word? Berating me makes me less interested in finding the time. I'm not a computer, I'm a human being giving up hours of free time for what's meant to be mutual enjoyment. Talking to me like that makes me feel like I'm wasting it.
>>5009949>may as well do what he said and not cause more of a scene, trust Ayesha could find her>>5009985Calm down amigo, just sort by last reply or bump order. If you miss updates that's on you. He's not your own personal writing slave.
>>5009989>last reply or bumplast reply instead of bump order*
>>5009988And being told to wait a whole week then finding you were posting not even two days later feels like your trying to cull peoples interest in voting except for a chosen few. If you feel that being told do the bare minimum is berating, then fine.
>>5009988And people are fine with you having a life, but going woe is me is disingenuous when people were fine with waiting a whole week.
>>5009992>If you feel that being told do the bare minimum is beratingthere's a difference between saying 'hey I'd like more of a head's up next time' and what you said.>>5009995if you think what I said is 'woe is me' and you're doubling down on being rude I'd really prefer not having you as a playerI haven't tried to 'cull people's interest in voting except for a chosen few' or whatever you're thinking, but if this is how you're going to talk to me I'd rather not run at all.you chose to be an asshole today and I'm trying really hard not to be an asshole back because that never ends well, but I'm not going to be talked to like that and pretend I'm okay with it.
>>5010007Whatever. What I said wasn't even close to proper berating, but you keep wondering where players go when you run. I'd rather end this argument with you being this oversensitive with this, consistency and keeping your word is more important than spontaneity. And continue on with the thread.
>>5010010Go fuck yourself you entitled fag
>>5010010You are the most entitled player I've seen in a while anon, you gotta chill
>>5010012>>5010014Shut up and vote already.
locking in >you know what, I don't even work here. Take off the vest then head right back out
See y'all next week then.
>>5009949>may as well do what he said and not cause more of a scene, trust Ayesha could find herWe can try sneaking in again? round 2?>>5010010bro real life comes firstsometimes I vote late or can't vote at all because work surprise needs me for 14 hours that dayshit happens
I unbuttoned the vest and handed it over."Where are you going?" the senior valet said as I walked back into the dining hall. I pushed through the swing door before he could catch me, and I guess he didn't have the balls to chase after me or he'd cause even more of a scene.Ayesha walked by and frowned, carrying a plate of lobster. I shrugged.If anyone was going to kick me out, they'd have to make it more literal. I wasn't here to be pushed around by a bunch of snooty assholes, I was here to find Ivy and I wasn't going until I'd seen her."Waiter!" Mrs Beauridge called as I stalked by, raising her glass of wine. Her husband groaned into the tube in his mouth. I kept moving.The next room had more tables, along with one covered in wrapped presents. I don't know if they thought Ivy was sixteen or twelve. Maybe to some of them a kid was a kid and they couldn't tell the difference.Now I was seeing more faces I recognized. One, an older black man, talked the ear off Director Miscampbell. The mayor, who was currently taking a run at the vacated governor's office. And with both of them was another man in a discreet dark suit. Crusader, para-agent of the DPA, running protection for either the director or the mayor himself. One blast of his super-sonic powers could smash every piece of glass in this building. Not the sort of faces I'd expected to see today.Ivy's dad was moving with some real power players."Excuse me little man," one of the great basketball players of all time said, stepping around me in the doorway.I didn't stare long at the legend, but I did stare. Once he'd stepped on by I ducked my head and kept moving, looking for Ivy.Up the back. There she was.Standing with her back to the wall and looking unhappy, coralled by a bunch of guys in a corner. The sons of those same power players her dad was courting, trying to win her attention.She wore a short blue dress, arms folded with an icy blue stare for the older boys crowding around her. She wore her hair straightened and tied back, a single blonde lock slicing down the side of her face. My heart thumped as a hot electricity sparked through me.Whatever jokes they were trying didn't put a dent in her ice mask, whatever flattery or flirting didn't make her blink.My knuckles clenched.Her mom emerged out of a side door, hawkish glare masked by a fake smile as she swooped around for signs of trouble."It's not about competing directly with China," her dad said behind me, "No one can 'compete' with China, but its about investing in other emerging markets. Getting ahead of the trends. Latin America, that's the place to cut a deal. Their mineral assets and who controls them will determine the next twenty years of industry.""That's why we pay you the big bucks, Richard," his client said, "Always looking to the future." They chuckled.I was caught between her dad and her mom.>move in on Ivy, make a scene>back off, let her find you
>>5010048>move in on Ivy, make a scene
>>5010048>move in on Ivy, make a scenescrew these people
>>5010048>move in on Ivy, make a sceneaight, we going full in.(was that... Kobe???)
>>5010048>back off, let her find youSurely they can't occupy her forever
You know what.Fuck it.They were crowding my girl."So if you want tickets to see J Cole, I can get us backstage," one of them said, swirling his drink like it'd impress her, "My uncle was a oroducer on his last album."I moved over, cutting around a table. No point sneaking around now. Her mom saw me before Ivy did, but at that point it didn't matter. Ivy's cold eyes lit up at the sight of me, and I don't know if it was a gasp or she was about to talk, but I shouldered past one of her would-be suitors and took her cheek in my palm, pulling her in close, closing my lips over hers, and pulling a kiss out of the little part in her lips, closing the gap with a slip of my tongue.An electric heat took over me as I slid my hand down her hip, cupped her behind the ear. She didn't pull away, but as the soft kiss lingered she pulled herself in closer, the kiss going from a romantic surprise to something deeper, needier, inappropriate. And I didn't care, I just enjoyed the way she sucked on my tongue as the kiss finally broke, her pulling on my shirt like she might pull it off, squeezing her hip through her dress.It did the trick of getting the boys to back off in shock, staring dumb founded at us both. They weren't the only ones."Happy birthday," I puffed, now finding the sense to be embarassed but not enough to pull away."Yeah?" she said with a sardonic eyebrow, running her fingers down to my belt, stopping before the hard clench beneath it."Seriously Ivy," I said, "Ayesha's here too. I told you we'd come.""Both of you...together?" she said, and I recognized the anxious look in her eyes."Yeah, together," I said, "For you, if you want to...if its what you want to do."She didn't say anything but nodded, turned her face away. I turned it back. She didn't need to hide anything from me, from us. Not tears."She'll tell you, but we feel the same way," I said, her eyes growing with hope, "We-"My ear twisted in a sharp pinching grip and I let out a yelp of pain as I was pulled away from Ivy."Mama!" Ivy cried as I was hauled back by the ear."Little pest," the Russian woman hissed, fingers digging in hard, "What are you doing with my daughter?""What's going on here?" Mr Chambers said, breaking from his clients, "What on earth?""Mama, let him go! I love him!" Ivy said, grabbing her mother's arm, trying to pull her off but only pulling on my ear more. I thought it was going to tear right off."You aren't going to ruin this," Mrs Chambers said."I told you to stay away from my daughter!" Mr Chambers said, barely relevant to the tug of war going on between his wife and daughter. Right now I was trying.Everyone else, the guests, the staff, were confused. A lot of questions were flying. Some, like Mrs Beauridge, were more entertained than alarmed. Ayesha circled around, trying to get through to us.
"We're trying to save our little girl," Mrs Chambers said, "We won't let you ruin our hard work. We won't let you drag her back into the gutter."A valet came over to help remove me, pulling me back by the shirt collar. Then one of the mayor's bodyguards pitched in too, until I was dragged back. If I'd wanted to I could have shook them off with little effort, but I let them drag me back."Ivy, you don't have to stay here," I said as we were pulled apart. She reached out for me."Stay right there Ivanna!" Mr Chambers snapped, his face turning purple with rage."Yeah," Ayesha said, sliding up behind her, "Stay right here."Now it was Ayesha's turn. She scooped up Ivy, turning her around. The look on Ivy's face, the surprise, the second wave of heat, turned into another long, drawn out kiss as Ayesha slipped her lips over hers. And just like ours it dragged out longer than might be appropriate for a teen movie, their tongues fluttering against each other, eyes closed and hands digging into each other.It was a sight to see."I love you Ivy Chambers," Ayesha said, her brow pressed to Ivy's, their eyes wide and locked together."Ayesha," Ivy said, face scrunching up, fighting back the tears.If Mrs Chambers was mad before she was lit up with a frenzy now."You...you...you fucking dyke!" she screeched, and threw a glass at Ayesha's head. It shattered on the wall, Ayesha flinching back.If we wanted to make a scene, we'd made one now."We can get out of here," Ayesha said, but looked doubtful. A suit wrapped an arm around my neck, trying to put me to sleep. They might be quick to lay hands on me but they didn't know what to do about Ayesha. Unfortunately, Crusader was making up his mind to get involved."Leave this to me Mr Director," he said, raising his hands."Wait-" Director Miscampbell started, but it was too late. A piercing wave of sound launched from his hands, cutting into mine and everyone else's ears. The glass in the window behind me blew out, Crusader smiled on as if he were doing the right thing, laying his dub-step on thick. Me and the guys holding onto me were bowled over by the burst of sound. The others collapsed but I rolled onto a three-point landing, trained instincts taking over.People around me were on their knees clutching their heads, including Mr Chambers."Goddamn it Crusader!" Director Miscampbell spat over the high whine in my ears.Ayesha grabbed my shoulder, pulling me up."Let's get out of here!" she yelled, towing Ivy in her other hand.I shook the whine out of my ears, pulled myself up after her.The three of us stumbled for the door."Hold it!" Crusader called, raising his hands up on us, not noticing his boss waving for him to stop.>stay back and hold off Crusader, but them time>take a chance with the girls and run
>>5010099>take a chance with the girls and runI'd rather not draw attention to our fighting skills in front of these people
>>5010099>take a chance with the girls and runAlright, fuck it, if he does catch up to us I say we punch him with a bit of power but no drawn out fight that risks our identity
>>5010099>take a chance with the girls and run
>>5010099>take a chance with the girls and runWe going full stupid, lest gooo(If we going to use our power just use it to numb pain/restored stamina. Last post if the night, good stuff as always QM)
I grabbed Ayesha's hand.The three of us ran together for the door, shouts loud behind us, a manic run down the yellow brick road. I was laughing and so were they. Why wouldn't we laugh? God, I felt like I could fly.It lasted until Crusader flung another solid brick of sound after us. I knew enough to duck but it broke the frame of the door, ripping it into long splinters that hailed down on the unfortunate valet outside.We pelted past him out into the bright day."Keys," Ayesha said, "Car!"The car had been parked for us. I ran up on the valet."Keys," I said, shaking the guy."Wh-which, which car?" he asked.Crusader stepped out lobbing another crashing burst of sound. I dragged the valet out of its path. It hit a parked car, crumpling the door and setting of its alarm in a high pitched whine. He readied for a second shot, getting a bead on me as his boss screamed at him to stop, but I knew the instinct flaring in his eyes. He thought he had a job to do."Any car!" I said.He handed me a set. I hit the unlock button, not caring whose it was. Lights flashed up and we ran for it.Crusader sent a blast of noise smashing through the car window I ducked behind as I hunted after the girls, scrambling through the car park."Keys!" Ayesha said crouched next to the door. I threw them to her and she snapped them out of the air. Opening the back door, I pushed Ivy in before climbing in after, thrown on top of her when Ayesha pulled into a sudden sharp reverse.This wasn't Ayesha's car. It was some kind of expensive, muscular thing with a purring engine. a midlife crisis on wheels. It turned with a spin of Ayesha's hands on the wheel, and she gunned it for the gated entrance. A beat of sound blew out the back window, showering me with square cut pebbles of glass. I pressed down over Ivy, not wanting to make a juicy target of my head. She grabbed me by the chest, breathing hard and staring."Hey," I said."Hey," she said.It was hard not to grin with all the adrenaline pumping through me. Then she took my chin and our mouths met, her tongue sliding over mine as I pressed her down into the leather seats, wind rushing in behind us through the broken window as Ayesha raced down the road.It was every kiss I'd dreamed of giving her, and it didn't stay on her lips but slid down her chin and over her neck, my hand sliding up her side learning its shape as a pressing need took over me and a fire rose up inside.But it wouldn't be right to take it too far, not there, not with Ayesha driving.Wild. It was as if we'd all gone wild and it was hard to rein it in. I panted above Ivy, trying to keep control as she did the same underneath me. God I felt drunk or high or with the wild battle rush of being knee deep in a fight."Where too?" Ayesha asked, biting her lip, nervous in the front seat.Ivy stared up at me, starting to smile.>go home, back to mine>head back to Ayesha's>same where safe, to my hideout>take Ivy back to her parent's house
I'll be back with the next update either tomorrow or the day after
>>5010189On one hand, the hideout would be okay, but not comfortable enough. Plus this car might be Dubsteps boss, and there is a tracker.>Call Misfit or Grit if they know anywhere quiet and secluded to lay low for awhile.Unless dad is out of the house>go home, back to mine
>>5010189>>go home, back to mineDad'll be cool and there's NO WAY her mum or dad remember our name
>>5010189Call the police, tell them a para is attacking a crowded country club and we escaped in the first car we could find
>>5010189Alright, this is all nice and dandy. But we need to get our head level down amd ask ourselves, whats next? We gotta ask Ivy exactly what happened with they're parents taking her. Because Im counting in her emancipation.(gotta get up to speed)>go home, back to mine (ask Ivy what happened while getting there)(Dad is gonna freaking loss it)
>>5010357Support Fucking Madlad
>>5010357This plus ditching the car and hiding
>>5010189this too>>5010357Initiate Operation: PR Disaster.
>>5010357Support, fuck the DPA with this as much as we can.
>>5010357yeah, go home and do this
>>5010357support but call from a payphone, the homephone might get tracked
"Home," I said, "My place."As we drove on the excitement started to melt out of me, replaced by a dull ache and a building sense of doom.Oh God what the hell did we just do?Kidnapping. That's how Ivy's parents could spin it. Trespassing. Grand theft auto.Whose car was this?Shit. I had to think of something."Can I borrow your phone?" I asked Ivy."My phone?" it took her a second to catch on when she slid it out. I dialled 911.I got through to an operator."Yeah there's been some kind of uh para-freak attack at the Lake Forest Country Club," I said, "It's crazy, the guy started blasting sound waves into a birthday party or something. We took off in the first car we could find but uh, I think its still going on."I hung up before she could get my name or ask too many questions.The fun thing about going back to my place is its a whole hour drive there. An hour without much talking but once we'd settled in sharing a nervous silence. None of us had thought this through or sorted it out. The whole thing had been powered by hormones first, emotions second, rational decision making a distant and trailing third, struggling to keep up after being lapped multiple times.Ayesha rescued us from silence by switching on the radio.'Ever fallen in love with someone, ever fallen in love? In love with someone you shouldn't've fallen in love wi-'She switched the station over to some old school funk, an instrumental guitar piece with psychadelic strains. Better than being reminded of something I'd rather not think about.Ivy sat quiet next to me, our legs pressed together, not looking each other in the eye. Her cheeks were red and so were mine, and it was a painful reminder whatever else we were we were still teenagers who didn't know what we were doing and had no idea what was going to happen next."Wild," Ivy said, turning her attention to the world zipping on by."Yeah," I said.Then she snorted, pressed her forehead to the window and started laughing. It didn't take long for the infection to spread before we joined in, the three of us shaking with laughter in the stolen car as we joined the flow of Saturday traffic back into Chicago proper.By the time we got back to the west side I don't want to say I was feeling good about things but I was feeling a whole lot better and a little less scared. Ayesha ditched the car at Humboldt Park, we walked the rest of the way to mine.Kicking the door open I wondered if Dad was home but there was no sign of him or Miss Flores. Good I guess, we could use the privacy.Not for, uh, not for sex reasons or whatever. Just to talk."So here we are," Ivy said, "Casa de Eric." She was not impressed.
Mangy came out with a chirp, ran her face against Ivy's leg. Ivy scrunched her fingers in the cat's long white fur."Yep, here we are," Ayesha said, then gave a hard swallow.I took a seat, and waited for someone to talk. Waited a while."We should make some rules," Ivy said, "The first rule is we aren't a 'throuple', because 'throuple' is a stupid fucking word.""I can live with never hearing that word again," Ayesha agreed."The second rule is...its about the three of us right?" she said, "Just because its not...traditional, doesn't mean its an open kind of thing. Relationship, whatever." She hugged herself, self-concious all of a sudden.I nodded. It made sense, and I didn't have too much of an interest in anyone else. Or at least, wasn't in love with anyone else."And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work," Ivy said, "But at least we tried. At least we were honest, right. I love you both. I'm in-love with both of you. Why can't it just be about that? We love each other, it should be simple."I reached out for her shoulder, to squeeze away some of her fear, and some of my own too."But um, the other thing," Ivy said, "That's going to be interesting to figure out.""Other thing?" Ayesha asked, then her eyes lit up and her face collapsed in a blush, "The other thing, right, yeah.""You've done the other thing, right?" Ivy asked us both with a teasing smile."Not together," I said, covering my nervous smile, face growing hot."Never, at all," Ayesha said, "Malcolm and I...we did some stuff but never uh...not that. Not yet." Then she squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head. "Is this really how we're going to talk about it?""We don't have to talk," Ivy said, "If you don't want to."But her eyes were suggesting something else instead of talking.>maybe we should take this to the...the bedroom>better not to complicate things with that just yet
>>5012510>Grab Ivy's hand>Do you want to break off with Malcolm first?>Maybe we should take this to the...the bedroom
>>5012510>better not to complicate things with that just yetWe just got together, we should talk things out and go on a few dates before we...seal the deal Also we have literally a ton of shit we have to think about before any of that, like what to do about ivy's horrible fucking parents
>>5012510>better not to complicate things with that just yetWe are NOT having sex right now, it will definitely not let a good impression on dad if we get find out the first night, and, we really do be needing clearing out what to do next, Ivy being a fugitive and all that.
>>5012510>maybe we should take this to the...the bedroomAyy sorry I'm late
Rolled 1 (1d2)>>5012562>>5012513or not. forgot to refresh.calling this a tie, settling with a roll of a d21 is go to the bedroom2 is stay and talk
>>5012576>maybe we should take this to the bedroomwins
>>5012578Holyfck, this is going to get bumpy, and horny
>>5012576What, no, his vote was too late.
>>5012614Sorry anon... we are now a horny teenager....
Confused apartments residents wondering if there’s an earthquake going on, becuz the building is shaking.
"Maybe we should uh, take this to the...the bedroom," I said, face burning bright and running hot all over.The little breath Ayesha made was clamped off with a bite of her bottom lip."Um, you know, if you...and Malcom, if things are still on there..." I fumbled like I'd never talked to Ayesha before. How is it this made the easiest person to talk to suddenly the hardest.Ayesha gave a fluttering, scared little smile. "Malcolm and I...we aren't a thing anymore," she said, and put her hand over mine.Okay. Okay cool.Ivy took my other hand, and without speaking lead us both toward my bedroom door.To say my room wasn't made for something like this is an understatement. It was covered in dirty old clothes and empty, crumpled up take out bags. My bed was a mess, bedsheets half off the matress. A narrow single bed pressed up against the wall, a computer desk wedged in beside it filling up most of the room.I stood, both frozen and burning, staring and unsure about what to do.Ivy stood by the foot of the bed. She turned to look back at both of us. With big blue eyes trying to hide her nervousness, trying to play it cool and failing as she slid down the loops of her sky blue dress, then slid the rest down to join the mess of clothes carpeting the floor. Standing only in her underwear, covering her belly in a surprise fit of insecurity.I swallowed. Were we really doing this?Behind me I heard the ruffle of fabric. I turned back as Ayesha pulled off her modest sweater, up and over her head, shaking herself free, then unzipping her pleated tartan skirt, letting it drop. She let out a long, nervous breath. I stared.My sparring partner, my best friend, standing there in just her underwear waiting nervously for something to happen. Standing there...I looked over her knowing it was okay now to look. Over the body she worked hard to keep tight. Over the lean, tight belly and the scoops of her breasts above it and down between her dark legs.I stared for too long, to the point I forgot I was expected to undress too.My shirt came off, then I fumbled with my belt. When I kicked my way out of my jeans, down to a pair of tight undershorts. There was no hiding how I was filling them out today. Not how we were, between the girls I loved."I don't know if underwear is enough though," Ivy teased, reaching back for the clasp of her bra.
It pinched off between her fingers. I swallowed, so did Ayesha, as it slid off Ivy and she smiled at us, drawing us over with her smile. We all moved closer toward the bed. To the side of it. Sitting on it. Together. Helping each other out of the last little pieces of decency, the heat growing with every slight touch, each slight touch growing into an excited fumbmling, the excited fumbling finding a place, a reaction, as we talked to each other with our lips and our mouths and our hot gasping breath without a word. They touched my scars, they kisssed them, and for the first time I wasn't ashamed of the warped and twisted damage done to my body as I thrummed with building fire between them.But when Ayesha hesitated, when there was real fear in her eyes, Ivy calmed it with a kiss, then I swallowed the rest with my own, and the fire within me roared to a new height as together we lay Ayesha down on my dirty single bed. Ivy stroked her face as I lay above her, and Ayesha looked up to me, to us both, but now with the good kind of fear and I felt my own fear mount as I moved between her thighs and inside, and the gasp and wince on her face didn't last long as we were swept up in something greater and I breathed heat as the fire inside me burned and Ivy kissed my gasping mouth as I moved inside the girl we loved and I thought the world would fall away when-"We're home!" Dad called from the kitchen.FUCKIt was a bucket of ice water. A cold plunge into Lake Michigan.The heat was sucked out of the room.Ivy scrambled for my still open bedroom door, pulling on anything as she tripped over my goddamn basketball shoes, and I drew back bright red as Ayesha stared up with her cheeks puffed out looking mortified."You here kid?" Dad said."Rico?" Miss Flores said coming to the half-open door, "Knock knock knock?"The door swung open with Miss Flores and Dad standing there, each with a bag of groceries, staring inward with growing realization with me throbbing naked on the bed, Ayesha half covered by a blanket and Ivy, hopping on one foot and struggling into an old shirt, arrived a second too late to slam the door shut.OhGodNoIt was an agonizing moment before anyone talked."Hi Mr Miller," Ivy tried."Eric," Dad said with the slow tone of someone picking their words carefully, "We need to talk."
hopefully that doesn't count as porntaking a small break
>>5012636Not even close, and only snitches care.
>>5012633I fucking knew it!Goddamn do it horny anon, you came in at the last second and managed to mess everything up!
>>5012633https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIoILN_KrhUI didn't want to be horny I swear.
; )(not complaining tho)
We sat at the table and couldn't look anyone in the eye.Dad stared into the distance. Ayesha stared into her lap. Ivy inspected the cieling. Me, I sat in a puddle of shame.Miss Flores unpacked the groceries.When Dad spoke it sent my chin cringing into my neck."Tell me you were wearing a condom," he said.Ayesha could have melted off her chair and into the floor."It...slipped my mind," I said.Dad looked up, hesitating on this question. "Are either of you girls on birth control?" he said.Ayesha looked ready to combust. Ivy, hesitantly, raised a hand.Dad didn't look relieved exactly."This is, well, I expected better out of you Eric," he said."The condom?" I said."The girls," he said, frowning, "I thought we talked about this.""Now hold on, we aren't invisible," Ivy started."Maybe we can talk in private," Miss Flores said, ushering the girls out, "Let them talk man to man while we talk, uh, woman to woman."They didn't like it but they went, leaving me with Dad in the kitchen. He touched his coffee, then let it go, like he couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to take a sip or not."Walking in on my son with a girl is bad enough," he said, "But two?""What's wrong about it?" I muttered."What's wrong about..." he sat forward, "Jesus, Eric. You're fifteen, you can't be going around like Hugh Hefner jumping into bed with any pretty girl. That's some wild Las Vegas nonsense and I thought you were better than that.""It's not like that," I said, "I'm in love with them. They're in love with me. We're in love with each other and we want to be together.""That sounds like some millenial horse shit," he said, "Love doesn't work like that, you can't carve it up like that and you're GODDAMN FIFTEEN. You can't even be in love!"I'd never felt closer, through all his drinking and all his bullshit, to hitting my Dad than right then and there. The rage that took hold of me had a cold, frozen grip."This is all hormones talking," he said, "A couple of pretty girls looking for a fun time isn't love.""You don't know what the fuck you're talking about," I said, thumping the table, "Or what, you're only supposed to love one person? What, don't you love Mom anymore now that Miss Flores is around?"Now I saw my own frozen rage directed right back at me. I thought Dad might even hit me, and through my rage came a belt of fear I'd gone too far. But I wouldn't back down. not on this."Of everything I do, this is what you have a problem with?" I hissed through a stuck jaw."This isn't about that," he said, "This is about what's decent. And you throwing your mother at me..." He own jaw clenched, his fist tightening on the table. "Would what she think, Eric? Do you think she'd approve? God, she'd love you for who you are, if you were gay or straight or whatever letter of the alphabet. But this, this kind of running around?">maybe he's more right than wrong...>what a load of bull shit!
>>5012687>what a load of bull shit!you've got no fuckin clue what our relationship is about, what we've been through together. so how about instead of us both losing our shit and fighting let me explain it to you.
>>5012687>maybe he's more right than wrong...>But that is something we've already talked about and considered.
>>5012687>>5012693Most definitely supporting this, don't wanna be disrespectful with dad, but it is strange what we are doing and most people (if not everyone) will give a weird eye to this (also, he just caught uf having sex with the girls, cant really say is a good impression)after whatever we say, lets just add>I know I ask you a lot of you, but let me just try to pull this off, we worked a lot just decide to be together.
>>5012725>>5012721>>5012693locking it in
"What a load of bullshit," I snapped, "You've got no fucking clue what our relationship is about or what we've been through together, so how's about instead of us both losing our shit you let me explain!"Dad was a quiet for a second, then growled, "Go ahead and explain."I slumped in the chair, squeezed my eyes shut on a building headache."Everything that I've been through, everything that's going on, it leaves me like I'm going to spiral apart," I said, "And they're the ones, both of them, who pull me back together. Who give me something to hold on to. Ivy and Ayesha, and I love them both. My whole life feels like a fight unless I'm with them. A fight I feel like I'm losing until I...until I see them smile or they hold my hand. You say I'm only fifteen, but I'm not, Dad. Not really, not how you were fifteen. Not like other people are. You know that."I was getting tears in my eyes and a crack in my voice. I fought them back. I didn't want them right now. Not right now when I was trying to tell Dad I'm a man."What I've seen, what I've done," I said, "What I've been through. With them.""Between all the death and gunfire, can't I find a space for love?"It was teenage melodrama even to my own ears and I stuffed my face in my hands, trying to keep the boiling emotions from boiling over."There's so much of it out there, Dad!" I wept, "So much death, so much that's rotten and-and-and evil and wrong. There's so much more of it than there is this." I pointed at my chest, the fire inside me always flickering. "There's so much of it and I can't handle it, not alone. I can't be alone with it Dad. When its just me and it I don't even know if I'm me any more. When I'm out there alone...I feel like its taking over me. The fire. And sometimes I don't know if I'm just this...this burning fire pretending to be real, pretending to be Eric, or not. But they make me real. They keep me Eric. Do you understand? Can you?"Please, I thought. Please understand. I wish I'd stop crying. Fuck, stop crying goddamn it.And Dad stared at me like I was some kind of alien wearing his son's face. Wearing his clothes, his memories. For a second not recognizing me or knowing me at all."We never talk about it, Dad," I said, "About where I go and what I do. About what I am. I'm not...not human anymore Dad, not anymore.""That's what scares me," Dad muttered, "That's why you need to...you should be normal, as much as you can be.""But I'm not," I said, "I'm not. I don't know what I am. A super hero, something else. I have these memories of another person inside me, I can hear him sometimes and I don't know if he's me or I'm him or if we're both just voices in the fire. No amount of pretending will make it go away.""You never told me," Dad said."You never wanted to know," I said, "But Ivy? Ayesha? They aren't scared. For me maybe, but not..." I looked up at Dad, not wanting to say it.
"It does scare me," Dad admitted, "You're right. It scares the shit out of me. You scare me, sometimes. But this isn't that.""It's all that, Dad," I said, "It's who I am. You need to understand that. Please."He sighed, slumped over with a terrible weight."We can have a rule at least," he said, rubbing his chin, "If you have to, if you're going to, please wear a condom."My eyebrows rose up. Is that it?"And you have to tell Ayesha's parents," he said, "I doubt they'll take it better than I am.""You've always done your own goddamn thing, Eric. There's no amount of me spitting and shouting that'll stop it. You'll do your own goddamn thing, you always have," he said, "In that way you're exactly like your mother.""And another rule," he said, "You be a gentleman with them. Don't play stupid games. I don't like it, I sure as hell don't understand it, but if you're going to be in this...thing, you be the best version of you in it.""Sure," I said, "Cause I was planning on being an asshole about it."He gave me a look saying now wasn't the time to be a smart mouth.They came out a little later, the girls. My girls. With Miss Flores. They were embarassed, who the hell wouldn't be? Miss Flores looked as uncomfortable as Dad did."Let's give them a moment to talk," she said, guiding Dad to their bedroom.We were back where we'd started, the three of us, sitting around the kitchen table. None of us wanted to talk first."Hell of a way to lose your cherry, huh?" Ivy said to Ayesha."Oh gross," Ayesha cringed. But we couldn't help but laugh."I wish we'd had a chance to...you know..." I said, "Go all the way, you know, all of us.""We'll find the time," Ayesha said. Any guy would grin."I've got something to tell you guys though," Ivy said, "I've decided to move back in with my parents.""What?" we said it at the same time, me and Ayesha, only she hopped out of her chair."I can't get emancipated, Dad's used his connections to make sure of it," Ivy said, "But he doesn't get a say once I turn eighteen and...and honestly they aren't wrong about everything. I have been kind of a mess. And they might be bad people, but maybe they deserve a second chance too. Not because I want to, but because Grace would want me to, you know?""If I think about it, it must have been hard for them watching her go through that," she said, "If I really think about it. I don't think I can forgive them, but I can understand them. Hey! Don't look at me like that Eric, you're the reason I'm thinking this way! Both of you! Your do-gooder bullshit's rubbed off on me. So I'm going to give my parents a second chance."
"So you're not going to be..." Ayesha said, not wanting to finish the sentence.Ivy grinned and rubbed her shoulder."I'm absolutely still in this, with both of you," she said, "But it means I won't be going to school with you guys anymore. So I better get more of you both when school's out. It's the three of us, the three of us against the world."She made a triangle with both hands and grinned through the hole."I love you Eric," she said, "I love you Ayesha! Shit, I don't get sick of saying it! I love you!"She kissed her, then she kissed me."I was this close before you found me," she said, her forehead pressed to mine, "This close to falling off the world. And now, now I'm finally home. I love you Eric."Her kiss was soft and slow, when it broke her happy tears ran around her smile."I love you too," I said.She got up, fixing the hem of her dress."Well," she said, "We're going to figure out a next time, but until next time, don't hold back. I love you both, and you love me, and we love each other. That's all it has to be.""That's all it has to be," Ayesha said as Ivy walked to the door.That's all it had to be.For now.
I'll either be back tomorrow or some time next week
>>5012768Nice Good job bullpen, appreciate it even though you're busy
>>5012768Thanks for running!
>>5012766Oh god the carvers are gonna kill us
I'll be running tomorrow
let's get this show started
'You need to tell Ayesha's parents.'Yeah I did, but I had something a lot more dangerous to do first. The Council of Crime were meeting tonight. A meeting of butchers to carve up Chicago as if it were some fattened calf.Hog butcher. Tool maker. Words from the poem Julian Dodd had qouted played in my head.I waited for a pick up outside Luis' shop, my stomach stuffed with lukewarm microwaved burritos. Smokey and D-Mark weren't there and Luis had closed up his shop for the afternoon. My backpack was weighted with my costume.We'd change there I figured, no point giving them a head's up we were on our way.The bike came down the road with a throaty rumble, Misfit out of costume on the back. She pulled up beside me, snapped up the visor of her helmet, eyes crinkling in a grin."Hola, bitch," she said, passing me a helmet.Pulling it on I popped up into the seat behind her. There was a time I was awkward about grabbing her waist but those days were long gone. I grabbed on as she zipped forward.The others would meet us there, finding their own way. Pratfall had hired out a cabin for us to work out of, far enough away from the lodge the Council had booked so as not to ping on their radar, but close enough the others could swing in if something went wrong.For their meeting they'd picked a place well away from Chicago proper, out west into the wild woods of Illinois, past Aurora. Last I'd heard Dane was hiding out in Aurora. It was an unwelcome thought, thinking of him. I don't know if he and Ivy ever formally broke up. Guilt clutched my guts, a hot mix with the shitty dollar burritos. I tried to put my mind on other things, like the job tonight and not getting my head blown off.Me and Misfit didn't talk much. We drove into the sunset to the rumble of her custom rigged motorbike, Sunday traffic sparse the further we got out from the city, the greenery getting denser from small parks to thickets of trees to finally real forest. It was hours on the bike. We stopped off at a gas station to refuel as night came crawling in, the stars a remarkable display this far out from the light pollution of the big city. I chugged a coke, scarfed down another burrito. They were selling sushi in there but even my stomach wasn't game for gas station sushi.There was a rule Mom told me about seafood: The further from the ocean you were the less you should trust, and I couldn't imagine many places further from the ocean than mid-state Illinois.Misfit stretched her legs and her back before hopping back on.It was easy to forget why we were out here with the open road ahead and behind, getting darker all the while.
Easy to think this was just a road trip with a friend. I pulled out my phone, checking the place we were supposed to meet. I tapped Misfit's shoulder and we turned off the highway up into a side road that lead up into the trees. A winding path, forested on either side. Kind of place a deer could spring from at any moment. Instead there was a rabbit, bursting across the road in a reckless bound, almost got itself squashed under Misfit's front wheel. She kept steady tyhough, headlight flicking on as we prowled through the woods.A log cabin hired through Airbnb. A couple of cars were parked out the front, Grit's beat up old lincoln next to a sensible stationwagon.Bags were left by the front door. So was a dog, standing guard. The one eyed litte silver terrier, Layla, wagging her tail, black button nose sniffing the air.Misfit reached down and gave her a pat. The dog gave a little bowing stretch then a sharp yip.The window opened. Dog Brother stuck his head out."Y-y-you're here," he said."You sure its safe to leave a little thing like this outside?" Misfit said, picking up the little silky, "There could be coyotes around."He nodded. "D-don't worry about coyotes," he said, "I t-t-talked to them already. Th-they're cool." He gave a thumb's up.Layla licked Misfit's chin as she scratched behind the dog's ear.A dog is a good sign, I thought, the sign of a righteous home.Weird thought. Probably not one of mine."Everyone here?" I asked as we went in.Sure enough Xiang was sitting on a couch, feet up flipping through tv stations. Grit was frying something on the stove top, an open beer can by his elbow.The inside was rustic, a twelve pronged stag head mounted on the wall. But for all it was a literal log cabin it still had wi-fi and indoor plumbing.I sat my bag down, took a seat on the kitchen table. The boom outside announced Thunderchild, who swaggered in pulling off his durag."Yo," he said, "Sorry I'm late. Having a warrant out on me makes it hard getting around."All of Fire Watch in one place, without our wizard friend. Ready for our first real mission as a team.After we'd got settled, with Grit serving up dinner, we sat at the kitchen table with a print out map of the area lain out. Xiang circled the hotel in red. It was like a larger version of what we were in, done up for a woodsey appearance, two stories with a meeting room we figured made sense for the Council to use. It was booked out under an alias. From what Xiang knew they'd turned out all the staff for the week too. It was a gangster hotel operated by and for gangsters until the meeting was done. Great, at least that meant we didn't need to worry about innocent bystanders."Anyone sneak a peek yet?" I asked.
Xiang nodded. "They aren't playing games," she said, "Fortified for trouble, but not obvious. You drive by you might not notice but take a close look and you'll spot the hardened killers packing. And its everyone there. Triads, Russians, Mafia. A gangster convention," she corrected her glasses, "I wonder if they'll be signing headshots?""It'll make it easier to put them away," I said, "I've got some law enforcement friends ready to move in on a signal and scoop them up. But we need to catch them talking about criminal conspiracy stuff first. Even gangsters are allowed to go on vacation.""All this sneakin' around, I just want to bust a head," Grit said. He was still sore after the Triads had taken a run at him in broad daylight. Couldn't blame him, I'd want payback too."But the plan hasn't changed?" Xiang said, "You and I go in while the others wait as back up.">the plan hasn't changed, let's stick to it>maybe I should go in alone>write-in
>>5019117>the plan hasn't changed, let's stick to itTeamwork makes the dream work, if things go wrong we'll need help
>>5019117>the plan hasn't changed, let's stick to itWe're the only sneaky one's, can't exactly count on thunderchild or Grit for stealth, and Misfit is a literal bull in a Chinashop at her most graceful
"Plan hasn't changed," I said, "We go in, record what we need, then give the signal to start busting heads while the cops get ready to move in and make arrests.""You sure we can trust the cops on this?" Thunderchild asked."Ms Grant put together the task force, hand-picked," I said, "She's no jackboot and not on anyone's payroll. We can trust her.""If this goes wrong it could get messy," Xiang said."Good, I like messy," Grit said, "When are you guys going?"Xiang checked her phone. "We can go now," she said.I nodded, time to get changed.We retreated to separate rooms. I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror, working to control my breathing. If things go wrong 'mess' was an understatement. If I got my head blown off it wasn't only Dad who'd be crying at my funeral now. I put a finger to my forehead, imagining the bullet wound, the splatter on the wall behind me. Imagining myself twitching on the ground, fingers curling up with a last kick as death took me away into oblivion. I imagined myself dead in a dozen different ways.Then I pulled up my mask and pulled on my googles, stepped out. Being ready to fight meant being ready to die. It put me in a quiet mood.For her part though, Pratfall burst from the bedroom."Never fear, Pratfall's here!" she said, swinging an arm wide as if she might burst into song, grinning ear to ear beneath her face paint. The monotone scientist had become the extravagant clown once more. "Let's rustle up some bandidos, amigo," she said, shadow boxing her way toward me.The others had changed too, their fits more flattering, more stream lined than they'd been when we'd first met. Courtesy of Merriweather. The exception was Dog Brother, who still wore the same dirty street clothes he always wore. He stuck his pup Layla into his inner coat pocket, petting her wet black nose with the tip of his finger.I bumped knuckles with Thunderchild and clasped wrists with Misfit, gave Grit a tough nod. Pratfall pulled us all into a big group hug, not letting any of us go."Tonight we strike, a thrust to the heart of perfidious villainy!" she said.We were Fire Watch, and we were ready to fight.-Thunderchild got us close as he could without giving the game away. From there we stalked down a wooded hill toward the rustic hotel. It was dark out, the kind of dark you only got in the country, and it made the light of the hotel a bonfire in the darkness. Color robbed, Pratfall became a black silhouette slipping over a fallen tree toward the hotel.It was a family friendly looking place. If I had to imagine a clandestine meeting of the crime families, I imagined a smokey backroom at some pounding night club or the degredated remnant of a long abandoned warehouse. I didn't imagine a sign advertizing the waffle breakfast special or the big plastic pretezel hanging over the front door.The car park was full. I recognized the bikes right away. Only one gang rode uniform white bikes.Everyone was here.
Outt the front a couple of goons in suits smoked. Funny how they wore uniforms without wearing uniforms. The Outfit gun thug was in a crinkled Italian suit, pinching a hand rolled cigarette. The cartel guy had an open silk shirt with a floral design and gold chain. They both wore shoulder harnesses. And there were more eyes above them, keeping watch from the windows.I looked to Pratfall who shrugged.From here it wouldn't be hard getting up onto the roof. Going through a bedroom window, they couldn't have people everywhere.I motioned for her to jump on my back. She popped up onto my shoulders, hooking her legs under my armpits, arms spread out for balance, bending forward to show her grin and jester's hat, upside down, before straightening up. She wasn't heavy and her legs were strong. Carrying her was no problem.Drawing on my fire I eyeballed the distance to the hotel roof, then with a single bound whipped across the distance and landed on it with a soft thud. Pratfall tumbled from my shoulders over my head, flipping from her hands to her feet then cutting a gymnast's bow. I put a finger to my lips, crouching low. She dropped to a crouch with an exagerrated frown, nodding back.I rolled my eyes. Let's just find a way in.We crept along the ledge, looking for a room with the light off or empty, my hearing boosted to catch every whispered word and indrawn breath, none louder than the breathing of the jester behind me, her heart beat a soft drum beat."-what it used to be in the Capone days," a voice from under our feet, "We could spend our money, make a real living doing this shit, live like kings. Then the fucking FBI came along, ruined it for everyone. I tell ya things aren't what they were.""I hear enough of that shit from the old folks back home," a heavy Russian voice, "Always better in the old days. When the Iron Curtain fell, you could sell tanks by the dozen and no one would know. So my father tells me."We crept on.>roll 3 x 1d100+20 dc 75
Rolled 77 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5019180Fingers fuckin crossedHere's our chance to finally make a difference for Chicago
Rolled 28 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5019180I hope this works
Rolled 59 (1d100)>>5019180Damn, I missed some live
I put my hand up. Beneath our feet. Silence. I motioned for Pratfall. She shimmied to the gutter, swung down. I looked over to see her plastered against the window, spidering silent fingers along the frame. She slipped them through a crack, and with unnatural strength, pulled the window open. Gripping to the wall, free hanging, she dipped her head to the open window. I swung down and past her, landing inside on a soft carpet floor.She rolled in after me, half-closing the window.The lights were off. There was a made up bed and a tv on the wall, a bar fridge humming, and a door to the bathroom still open. The door outside was shut.The carpet cushioned our steps. I went and placed an ear to the door, listening.Garbled Spanish, Chinese, muted Russian, and English peppered with swear words came from all around and down below. Gangsters weren't by nature a quiet lot. I heard the rip of a beer can and the sound of a swallowing throat. The rip on a cigarette as someone took a drag. The pop of a packet of chips being opened followed by a chewing crunch. The muffled footsteps on the carpet. My senses boosted up I heard everything in snatches, but I smelled it to.The smell of laundry, the smell of grease, the bitter smell of chordite. The smell of Pratfall's face paint and her tights, and the smell of her sweat underneath it. The smell of beer and frying susages, cheap whisky and good wine.I opened the door, stepping out into bright light. The carpet was a dull red, the walls timber logs. Local art hung on the walls in dull frames. I stepped carefully up, Pratfall a shadow behind me, looking for an empty room.We slid into one as heavy steps thumped up the staircase, door closed gently behind us.I sent a text to Misfit.Me - Inside. Snooping.I muted my phone so the ping didn't sing out when she texted back a smiling emoji,Pratfall put her phone to record, I did the same.Pratfall stuck her tongue out, eyes bright with excitement as we waited for the gangsters outside to move on.What we needed to do was find where the big names were having a sit down.Pratfall pulled up a map of the hotel, pointed to a spacious room at the far end, then tapped where she thought we were. Not too far.We listened. The coast was clear. Together we crept along the halls, listening out for trouble."So how does the crown feel, Dixie?"I knew LeSean's voice."Heavy," Sullivan replied."Wasn't too long ago you was just another hired gun going buck wild, but look at you now.""Speak for yourself Mr Suit and Tie," Sullivan replied, "Come a long way from the frightened corner boy locked up in Stateville. Does the Haitian pick your clothes for you, or your mama?""Ouch," he said, "But you're right, we've both come a long way. No more slinging dimebags or muscling. I'm middle management now. Suits me being off the street, let some young uns worry about that. But you? A Kentucky shit-kicker? You aren't made for sitting in an office."
"No sir I'm not," he said, "But we play with the hand we're dealt.""Oh please Sully, we know you've never played with the cards you're dealt. You've got an ace squirelled away somewhere.""I don't know what you're talking about," Sullivan replied."Of course not, so there's no need to give me a head's up when it gets drawn, right?" LeSean laughed."You think something's going to go down tonight?" Sullivan said."I'm not saying nothing. Anyway, thanks for the drink pal. I'll see you at the sit down."I ducked behind the ice machine as the door opened, LeSean stepping out checking his tie."What happened to your arm anyway?" Sullivan asked, stepping out behind him in a white leather jacket and bolo tie."Courtesy of your friend, Hotspur," LeSean said, waving the cast arm, "You know I got the impression he doesn't like me?""Couldn't think why," Sullivan replied. LeSean laughed as he walked away. "Asshole," Sullivan muttered. He closed the door behind him, locked it up. Swept fingers through his hair, let out a breath. Then adjusted his jacket and went on.We did too, once the coast was clear. Pratfall slapped my arm, pointing to a security camera at the end of the hall. She grabbed my sleeve and pulled me into an empty room. She pointed to the window, cracking it open.I nodded. It wouldn't be easy, but it was better than being caught on tape. We stepped out into the night. Good thing about log walls is it gave us nice hand holds for crawling around it, and right now the gangster security team were keeping their attention out, and not doing a good job looking up.We made it past where the camera was, rolling back inside. Thinking about it now though, we didn't have to. What kind of idiot would keep records of a criminal conspiracy? One of those ways nerves could have you acting first, thinking second.The meeting room though, that's what mattered.A couple of gun thugs with shotguns manned the door. One a black guy the other white, both from different gangs. The spirit of cooperation was alive tonight. What a great sign of racial harmony.Pratfall pointed to a window again. May as well, the front door was no good. We scaled back up to the roof, creeping along.Had the meeting started? Pratfall swung over the edge to get a glimpse of inside. She popped up, shook her head.I sucked on sweat beneath my mask. It was cool out but I was sweating.>go in, find a place to record, but have Pratfall wait out here>go in and find a place to record, both of you
>>5019225>go in, find a place to record, but have Pratfall wait out here
>>5019225>go in, find a place to record, but have Pratfall wait out hereHope we can do some good for this city
All right, this update is going to drop tomorrow. Thanks for playing tonight
'Wait here,' I saidwith a raised hand, swinging over the ledge.The conference room had a large window which took up a lot of the north facing wall, arched with multiple panes. Fancy. I angled my way in through the tilted open top pane, careful not to break any thing.The good thing about the conference room was the rafters, structural beams keeping the roof up also providing me space to skulk and hide. I set my phone down to record in the middle of the beam while retreating to a dark corner, squatting in the shadows hoping no one looked up.Waiting a good half hour as the gangsters of Chicago began to assemble.First to arrive were a couple of Russians I didn't recognize, a heavy set man with a short gray beard and a pair of his flunkies. The flunkies wore kango caps and leather jackets, jeweled rings and gold chains. The typical way a gangster would flaunt their money. The noss though wore a slate gray suit, a red tie for a pop of color, but nothing else. The wealth was in the Italian leather shoes and the bespoke suit, subtler than gold chains but loud and clear to anyone who knew where to look.They took a seat at the round table, followed in soon after by the Triad representatives. More guys I didn't know, but a similar story of a boss in a suit followed by tattooed thugs. There was a clear line between who called the shots and who did the shooting. There was a big man with them, a white man in blue jeans and suspenders who looked a better fit for the Aryan Nation than a Chinese crime syndicate. Grit had warned me about him - Haymaker. Next in was Sullivan, with Baby Girl behind him. He wore his biker leathers and so did she. Him in white, her in black, not pretending to be anything other than what they were. She wore her katana at her side, and stood behind his chair when he sat.The Haitian arrived before the Cartel and this time I stared closer. The old man who came in, wearing a beaded necklace over his suit with feathers and bones twinned into them, wasn't the same man I'd met at the butcher's. He had ritual scars etched into his cheeks, and as LeSean drew back the chair for him he adjusted those beads across his chest. He was old to the point of ancient compared to the straight backed elder I'd met.Was this the real Haitian or an imposter? The look he had was more flamboyantly costumed, more what Hollywood would call a voodoo witch doctor.The Cartel arrived and I was surprised to see it was the real Navaja. Maybe with her face now known there was less utility in hiding it. She could have been any middle aged business woman. She had her usual hireling, Sundowner, standing behind her chair with his little bug eyed smile.That was another thing Hollywood got wrong about half the time. How mundane these people could be.Last to arrive and hosts of this summit were the Outfit, the old Italian mafia.
Rooster Mangeilo entered with Salamander behind him. The old mafioso smiled before taking a seat at their round table. And so they were assembled, the heads of the worst of Chicago's criminal element this side of the law.No one talked right away except among themselves, usually not in English. Navaja muttered something to Sundowner, who laughed and shook his head. Salamander snapped her suspenders, keeping a sharp eye on the room for trouble, but her boss seemed at ease.The only one who looked really nervous was Sullivan, and I couldn't blame him. He had an idea about what was going to happen."So we all know why we're here," Mangiello said."The New Year's Day War," Navaja said, "And those wretched 'super heroes'.""Comic book bullshit," the Russian gangster said, "We have this Misfit, girl on motorcycle, ruining our business. How are we meant to make a profit with her blowing up our labs and putting my men in the hospital? She might not kill them, but the medical bills alone, ack!""Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch," the Triad said, "It's the same story everywhere, Goran. We have this little pinoy asshole , Grit, thinks he's a big hero, and now we have the other one, the grasshopper Hotspur, getting in our way. We stayed out of your little war, we do not need this.""Where are the cops in this?" Goran, the Russian, said, "We pay these bribes and for what? We are bleeding money in every direction. Something needs to be done.""Something needs to be done," Mangiello said, "This is true. But what you're missing is the opportunity here. We have a common enemy, one outside the law. We have an opportunity to come together in common cause, and be stronger than we were. Divide the terrirory and set new rules to the game under a treaty. This 'Council of Crime' could be the next step, a new Commission.""We didn't agree on that name," Navaja said, "What idiot called us that? I would have his tongue.""It doesn't matter what its called," Mangeillo said, "What matters is the structure. No more shooting it out over territory, no more bombs under car seats, no more being played off against each other. If there's a beef, we settle things here. If there's a problem, we deal with it together. As Lucky Luciano formed the five families to rule New York, we can do the same here. Chicago won't have a boss, but a council of bosses. And together we have the strength to deal with any outsider. If it's these super-freaks or someone else, some new gang trying to muscle in, they'll have to contend with all of us.""Dividing the territory, what's that mean?" Goran said, "We give up trades? You have your numbers game, we have ours. You all have your brothels, we have ours.""It means what we have we keep," Mangeillo said, "And everyone gets a cut.""A cut of our trade?" Navaja said, "We all know the Outfit is losing its prestige. This is sounding like a desperate grab to remain relevant."
Salamander looked ready to stamp the Outfit's relevance on Navaja's face, but Rooster held her back with a raised finger."It's true we aren't what we was," he said, "It's been a long time since Al Capone. But we still control the cops and the aldermen, we still hold the political machine. You want building permits, you need us. You want the cops looking the other way, you need us. You could try to build such a thing yourself, but why mess with a good thing and risk getting caught? We might lack the muscle we had when Chicago was less...let's say 'cosmopolitan', but we still have power that matters. More than a few boys slinging dope on the side of the road."The 'Haitian' muttered something. LeSean nodded."What did the old man say?" the Triad asked.LeSean grinned. "He said 'Only a fool measures his penis when there is a woman already in his bed'." The Russian gangster boomed with laughter, clutching his belly.Sullivan slapped his hand on the table."While we're arguing and jokin'," he said, "Those goddamn super heroes are organizing. Fire Watch, they call themselves. Lead by that fucking asshole Hotspur. I came here thinkin' you had a plan, Rooster, I came here to do somethin', not to hear a bunch of old folks bicker.""Says the man who set us up," Navaja said, "We know you're friendly with the Hotspur, you helped him orchestrate his little ambush.""Like I had much choice," he said, "Ask our friend in the cast how things go with Hotspur when you don't help him." LeSean raised his cast covered arm with a grin. "Fact is no one went to jail over it, and we all lost people. Fact is none of us have had any luck taking the little punk down alone. Now we can talk about territory and treaties and dividing up our spoils, but let's be honest about why we're all really here.""We're here to kill the Hotspur."Then Sullivan stood, and looked right up to the rafters I was lurking on."Isn't that right?" he said, "Why don't you come on out of hiding and say 'hello'."Oh shit.It set a stir among the assembled gangsters."What does he mean?" The Russian said."He means Hotspur is here, listening!" Navaja said, thrusting up from her chair. Sundowner began to blur, dividing in two behind her chair.Ah fuck.But before I could do anything but blink, Salamander pointed right to where I was hiding."There!" she said, and fire started to circle her wrists.Well there goes my cover.>roll 3 x 1d100+10 dc 80
Rolled 23 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5020186Ah shit
Rolled 6 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5020186Lets go
Rolled 95 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5020186
>>5020199>>5020195fuck you dice
Why did Sullivan snitch, he has to know they will think he planned us showing up.
"Oh come on Sully, I thought we were friends!" I called back.But what I said was drowned out by the burst of fire driving Salamander up to the rafters, a growing mad grin on her face. I pumped up my own fire right in time to catch the knee aimed square at my face. It kept my nose from being pulverized but still smashed me back off the beam, a moment of free fall before landing in the center of their morbid gathering.The table bounced under me as I cracked down on top of it.Guns sprung from holsters, a blade flicked open in Navaja's hand.But none of that worried me as much as the woman leaping down after me in a fiery whirlwind."Hell yes, I was starting to get bored!" Salamander crowd.I rolled out just in time, and she plunged through the round table, splintering it down the middle. I rolled to my feet, then ducked the swipe of her leg trying to take my head off, a flick kick following it up. I bobbed out of the way, fists up, then felt a hard crunch in the back of my head and staggered into her knee, driven hard into my gut.I spiralled out. The big Aryan looking guy, Haymaker, had his sleeves rolled up and his fists high. We'd never danced before but he was a granite wall, no jokes or smiles from him. Hit like his name suggested though, and I shook the spots out of my eyes. He gave a snort and closed in, a classic style of boxing would have done nicely at the Olympics.But not the kind taught at Prize Fight Gym.I ducked around his jab, trying to put him between me and Salamander, get them tangled up.But he wasn't the only asshole around. I spun to see the butt of Sundowner's pistol swing for my head and flinched back. The illusion disappeared before my eyes, but it put me in line for a kidney shot from Salamander, the toe of her shoe driving into my side.I spat up something in my mask, hot spit. I stumbled toward Haymaker's waiting fists but found my feet. The twitch in his shoulder was enough forewarning. I weaved around his right cross, out of the way of his upper cut, then slammed a jab of my own into his chin. Shit, it was like punching cement.So it hurt, but it hurt him too. I could bust through a brick wall, it just hurt doing it. He went back, staggered."Sure could use some GODDAMN HELP!" I yelled, dropping under the flash of a blade, Baby Girl trying to take my head off.I should have expected I was being set up. No honor in thieves and all that. But honestly? I was kind of hurt. Maybe I imagined the apology in Baby Girl's eyes."Kill him already!" Navaja spat.But no one wanted to take a shot or risk getting hit themselves.The glass window shattered inward, sucking in the cold night air as the clown in the tight leotard flipped through with the jingle of her belled hat.
"Bad guys beware!" Pratfall declared, landing in a gymnast pose, "Tonight we strike in the name of val-ah!" She over balanced and tipped forward, smashing her face into the edge of the table. "Ow, ow, ow!" she said, rubbing the spot with a hiss."Who the hell is this clown?" the Triad said."Pratfall," Rooster Mangeillo said with such deep hate it took me by surprise."Well howdy Rooster, nice to see ya!" Pratfall said, popping up on one hand, "Sorry I can't chat right now, you know how it is. Super goons to fight and all!""Ah!" Pratfall went flying against a hard punch to her gut from Haymaker, bouncing off the far wall. "Geez Louise!" she said, getting up and rubbing her back, "Why's it always me gets clobbered?" Haymasker ran up, dunking a fist down on her head. This time though her grin went sly as she slipped around it, and drove a kung fu style punch square in his chest. This time he buckled over, spitting up. She flipped back onto her hands and shot a double kick right into his chin.He went airborn, landing hard on his back.She bowed over him, grinning bloody teeth. "Concussive absorption and redirection," she said, "Ya can dish it out but ya can't take it, can ya big guy?"When he tried to get up she kicked the side of his head then stamped her foot down on his nose, smushing it up like she was crushing a bug. Then she blew a raspberry and back flipped away.A shotgun boomed and took out a chunk of a support beam. I spun to see the Triad racking the shotgun back and dropped. The blast tore open a Russian gun thug behind me, splattering the nice rustic log cabin wall."Stay outta this!" Salamander said, kicking a wave of fire at the Triad gun thug before pivoting around to kick the next one at me. I ducked and the arc of fire hit Pratfall in the chest, knocking her on her ass. She slapped at her body as smoke started to rise, shouting 'stop, drop, roll!'.I raised my fists. The door burst open and more gun thugs were coming through as the bosses were ushered out, Baby Girl shadowing Sullivan.A dog howled in the distance."Oh boy, here they come!" Pratfall cried as a loud boom flooded the room, and materializing before us out of thin air was Fire Watch all in costume, Grit, Thunderchild, Misfit and Dog Brother. A pair of coyotes snarled at Dog Brother's side. A stone hammer swung in Grit's fist."Okay amigos, let's rock'n'roll!" Misfit said, a flash bang building in the palm of her hand."Take them down!" I called.And together we charged the assembled gangster horde of Chicago.> roll 3 x 1d100+30 dc 80
Rolled 32 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5020251One more time
>>5020256Wait, I messed up the bonus.>>5020251Do I roll again?
>>5020259nah its fine I can do basic math
>>5020260I was hoping for a better roll, but I guess we might get another clutch...I hope.
Rolled 16 + 30 (1d100 + 30)>>5020251
Rolled 96 + 30 (1d100 + 30)>>5020251step aside fellas I got this
>>5020275brb buying lotto tickets
Rolled 84 (1d100)test
>>5020283.....fuck you dice
Misfit's flash bang burst. The gangsters had no time to shield their eyes, staggered by the flare as a pair of snapping, growling coyotes leapt in among them. Grit swung his hammer and an arm went crooked, a knee cap popped to an unnatural angle, and gangsters went down crying. Misfit clicked her fingers, her balls of light bursting with an explosive pop, smouldering clothes and knocking the gangsters around.Any one of us, if we wanted to, could have killed a whole lot of people without much effort. It was lucky for them we held back, even if they didn't feel so lucky falling with a shattered shin."Stay still you little punk," Salamander hissed as Thunderchild boomed around her, keeping her turning long enough for Pratfall to run up and drop a flying kick into her chest. Salamander stumbled back. Thunderchild grabbed her, disappeared in a boom and reappeared overhead, throwing the fiery gangster to the ground where she bounced hard off the floor, and before she could get up caught Thunderchild's boots stomping on her face.It put her out of business, but it wasn't the end of it, and she wasn't the point. I crashed through the gangsters, hunting for the bosses.There was Goran, the Russian, snarling on a jammed shotgun."Let me help you with that," I said, snatching it out his hands and snapping it in two. The big Russian didn't know what to do, so I clobbered him to the ground. "Don't worry, the cops will be here soon."Then I tore down the hall. I leapt high and came down hard on a Chinese gangster, pounced forward into the next, slamming him into the wall, but I was after their boss. Rapid fire burst through a door, missing me but cutting down a Chinese goon. I picked the dying man up, hauled him over my shoulder and threw him through the door, charging after as gunfire spat death around me.He was trying for a second story window, his gun thug giving him cover. I came in low and dropped the gun thug with a right, grabbed the Triad boss by the scruff and ripped him back from the window frame. A hail of fists around his head put him down. I wasn't in an easy going mood."They're making a break for the cars," Thunderchild said. He didn't wait. He grabbed me as we both went for the window and with a thunderous boom ended up in the hotel car park, gangsters spilling out of the doors and running for their cars. Smoke was rising from the second floor, someone had started a fire. Navaja's men, lead by Sundowner, went for a car but Thunderchild beat them to it. Landing on the roof he sucked in a deep breath, then him and car both disappeared.I rushed in swerving around the glint of a knife, slamming knuckles into soft places. I swung a fist and cut through an illusion. Not Navaja at all but a copy, Sundowner grinning where it had stood.Motherfucker.
He drew twin revolvers, bright silver both, and opened up with both barrels. Someone slower would have been shy a head, but the bullets grazed the top of my hood as I ducked. The third shot though went right into my chest, harder than any punch, knocking the wind clear out of me as the fourth ripped out over my shoulder. I slapped at the hole where the bullet had flattened on my chest, saved by my spider-weave bullet proof vest, wheezing. The barrel turned up for my unprotected head, right for my eye."Time to bag a super her-oh!"The car crunched down on top of him hood first, a last gasp of surprise. I stared at the crumpled pillar of motor vehicle, Sundowner's hand reaching out from under it.Shit, was he dead?"Oh fuck!" Thunderchild appeared hunched on top of the crumpled up car, "Did I...? Ah shit, I didn't mean to hit the nigga."Saved my life though. And It was my time to return the favor when I pulled him down out of reach of a buck shot blast.Navaja walked out with shotgun in hand, drool running from the corner of her mouth, eyes wide as she hissed Spanish curses, pumping the gun and firing off blasts, putting fist sized dents in the car behind us as we ducked for cover."You fucking parasite!" Navaja screamed, "You bug! I am blessed by Santa Muerte, I am her champion! You won't! Get! In! Our! Way!""Loco," Thunderchild said as we ducked behind an SUV.She stopped to reload. Now was our shot. I lunged up and slid over the hood as Thunderchild disappeared in a boom. I flung myself toward the crazed gangster. She took a step back, bringing up her shotgun. A step right back into Thunderchild's grip. They disappeared together, the gun shot ringing out far over head. They came back in a burst and Thunderchild slammed her down on the hood of the same SUV we'd hid behind. She tried for her knife, trying to cut him. He popped her in the head with an wakward punch, knocking her out cold.Another boss in the bag.But there were still three left. The Haitian, Rooster Mangeillo, and Sullivan.Sullivan and Baby Girl had made it to their bikes, while the 'Haitian' was being helped into a car. Mangeillo, in his nice suit now rumpled up from the action, fumbled with the car door.>go after Sullivan and Baby Girl>go after the fake Haitian>go after Rooster Mangeillo
>>5020316>go after Rooster MangeilloClean out the state goons, make it easy to take out the rest.
>>5020316>go after Sullivan and Baby Girl
>>5020316>go after Rooster Mangeillo
As much as I wanted to take down Sullivan for the double cross, at the end of the day he was a small fish. Kicking out his bike stand and revving up his engine, he and Baby Girl peeled out of there while I crossed the car park in a single leap, landing on the roof of Rooster's car. My chest ached from the bullet still compacted against my chest, breathing wasn't fun, but it didn't slow me down.One of his bodyguards tried for his gun but caught the toe of my boot, the other turned, running for the woods and abandoning his boss. Smart goon. Up until the Haitian's van slammed into him as they sped up the drive."Rooster, what was it they said about you?" I said, "You've got to get up pretty early to catch him."He backed up, expression blank."Hotspur," he said, "You're eager for that early grave. You're going to get put down sooner rather than later.""Maybe, but not by you."His hand flashed for his inside coat pocket but I was faster. My fist cracked against his jaw, dropping him to the gravel. He coughed, half a tooth falling out.He looked around. The fight spilled out of the hotel, smoke starting to stream out from the windows. Fire Watch was living up to its name. Misfit smashed her cherry red wrench across a mafioso's jaw, skull face grinning over splashes of blood. Grit caught a couple of fleeing goons in a stony grip. The coyotes howled as they chased more into the woods."Bunch of fuckin' kids," Rooster said, disbelief in his voice."Yo Misfit, give the signal!" I said.Misfit nodded. Head down she thrust her fist up in the air with a click, striking a pose. A white flare shot up from her hand to explode across the night sky.Calling in the cops, and the press.We hauled the bosses together all in a row, like they were fish we'd caught on a good trip out. They glared up, a surly group as the cops and a few handpicked members of the media descended, all lead by one Ms Grant.She arrived with a county sherriff, dressed in a ball cap and bomber jacket, totting warrants and a pleased grin."Good work Hotspur," she said, shaking my hand.A photographer for the Tribune took snaps of the lined up gangsters, cuffed and on their knees. Medics waited to check them, a couple of ambulances already porting the worst hurt of the gangsters, while a fire truck fought the blaze growing in the hotel."We've got them on recordings plotting my murder and other criminal conspiracy stuff," I said, handing over my phone, "Pratfall has backups."Whatever I was feeling about the PR the others were a little more wary."Can I get a group photo?" the photographer asked, raising his camera.I looked to the others and shrugged. We huddled up."And what are you guys called anyway?" the photographer asked, "The New Kids on the Block?""Fire Watch," I said as the camera flashed.
He wanted more than that, each of us as individuals. Pratfall struck a pose with a knee raised and a smile. Dog Brother looked awkwardly at his feet. Grit created a rock stool to sit on, hunching forward, finding a pose that showed off his built arms. Misfit leaned back against her motorbike trying to act too cool for it all.When it came time for Thunderchild though, things got awkward."That one's a criminal fugitive!" one of the cops said, starting toward him."Easy, Rawlings," Ms Grant said, getting in his way, "Now isn't the time for that.""Fuck it isn't, Grant. Running cover for wanted terrorists? He belongs in the can!""That wanted terrorist just helped bring in the heads of the largest crime families in the city," she fired back, "Look the other way tonight. You'll get another shot, don't worry."The cops didn't like it but they backed down."You kids did good tonight," Ms Grant told us, "When this breaks in the press everyone will know you're bonafide heroes. The DPA might try to twist the narrative but we know better and can get ahead of them. Official, legal arrests help.""Convictions would help better. You just make sure those charges stick," Grit said, "I don't want to see these punks struttin' out of prison cause you didn't dot the i's on the warrants.""If any of you are interested in appearing on Tough Talk with Priscilla Takanawa, that could help," she said, "Give your side of what happened here to a live, prime time audience."No one was leaping to put their hand up for that.>I'll do it, someone has to>Let someone else volunteer
>>5020400>I'll do it, someone has to>If its a setup, I will go through the ceiling.
>>5020399>Up until the Haitian's van slammed into him as they sped up the drive.lmao>>5020400>I'll do it, someone has toNot like we haven't embarrassed ourselves on TV before.
>>5020400>I'll do it, someone has to
>>5020405>>5020415>>5020417locked inbut the update will drop next week
>>5020457Sounds good, thanks for running. Seeing Fire Watch in action has been really cool
"I guess I'll do it," I said, "It won't be the first time I've made an ass out of myself on live tv.""Bite the bullet," Misfit said, "It could be fun, you never know.""Oh I know," I said."Either way, you'll be giving an interview next week," Ms Grant said, "I'll be there with you, so don't worry, you'll do fine.""Thanks Mom," I replied with dry sarcasm.We watched the last of the gangsters get hauled off. This was a catch for sure, but I couldn't help but feel a stab of irritation. Sullivan had got away after double crossing me. I don't know why he did it, maybe a crook was just a crook at the end of the day no matter what you'd been through together. But worse than that was the Haitian. He'd never even showed, sending a fake in his place. Overly cautious maybe, or maybe he'd smelled a set up. I didn't even get the saisfaction of seeing them drag LeSean away in cuffs. Something to look forward to I guess.At the very least we'd finally netted Navaja, and with Rooster Mangeillo to go with her it was a big win. Add representatives of the Russian and Chinese mob it was hard to call it a bad night, even if breathing kind of hurt. Sundowner's bullet felt as if it had cracked a rib. For injury I wasn't the only one nursing something. Everyone had a bruise or a break, luckily nothing more serious than that.We'd taken a big swing and hit a home run."You know we still got that cabin until tomorrow," Grit said, "I got beers back there. We should celebrate with a party.""Shit I'm down," Misfit said."I could use a drink," Thunderchild said.Dog-Brother smiled at his feet. "O-okay," he said."Fight hard, play hard," Pratfall added."What about you Hotspur?" Grit said, "Victory party?"The pain in my chest throbbed, but I was still thrumming with adrenaline, the post-fight come down singing in my blood.We'd been through a lot.>sounds like a good idea>sorry guys, I need to get home
sorry it took so long to get back to this, busy week
>>5027323>sorry guys, I need to get home
>>5027323>sounds like a good idea
I'll need to switch to single post updates for a while again. Work has shifted into a pretty intense period.
>>5027323>sounds like a good ideaJust send dad a text if he's worried or something, a bullet wound that didn't even penetrate is the least of our injuries
>>5027323>sounds like a good ideaUnless there's something pressing, that is, though I can't quite remember anything of the sort.BTW, we never did go to check out the Holmes hotel, did we?
>>5027323>sounds like a good idea>Just let me give my family a call.
"Hell yeah, I could use a post-game drink," I said, fist bumping Grit, "Just let me make a call first, I need to check in with my family.""Is it past your bedtime?" Grit said, "Can't be up late without your Mom's permission?"I waved off the good natured ribbing, stepping away from the bustle pulling out my 'normal' phone. I sent off a text to Dad.Me - Finished with that thing but now some friends want to hang out. I'll be home tomorrow?I didn't get an answer right away but I didn't expect to. I slid the phone back away and rejoined the rest of Fire Watch, my friends."You want to come have some drinks with us Ms Grant?" Grit was saying, "The place has a hot tub."She gave the young super hero an amused frown."No, I think I'm all right, besides I have a lot of work to do," she said, "Don't have too wild a one.""Well gather up kids," Thunderchild said, ushering us close, "The Thunderchild Express is ready to depart." We grabbed on and boomed out of there, leaving a gang of bewildered cops and their prisoners behind. It was a series of booming jumps that took us back to the cabin, when we were at the ront door Thunderchild bent over exhausted."Beer is in the ice box," Grit said."Me I need a shower," Pratfall said slinking in, "I'm all sweaty.""Yo is there a hot tub?" Misfit said."Out the back," Grit said, cracking open a pabst as Misfit ducked back to check it out."You got any Malort?" Thunderchild asked."You drink that shit?" Grit said, foam frothing down the side of his beer can."I got a taste, what can I say," he replied, getting a beer can for himself than throwing one to me. "Yo Dog Brother, you drink?""N-not really," the guy said, staring around in his bug-eyed way."Get ourselves a couple of honies up here," Grit said, "This could be a sweet.""Don't you have a girl?" I said, "With a baby on the way." I slipped down my face mask to drink, the cold beer sliding down nice. My body went right into relaxation mode, I dumped down into an old laz-e-boy, kicking off my boots."Yeah but it ain't like we're exclusive or nothing, I didn't marry her," he said, kicking back on the couch under the mounted stag head. "You got a girl?""Eric gets mad pussy," Misfit said, coming back around slipping off her jacket. I snorted on the beer, froth errupting from my nostrils. "The things Kaylee can do with her mouth, you teach her that thing with her tongue?" Misfit fluttered her tongue at me with a grin.The blush burned worse than the pain in my chest. Misfit pulled out a joint, sparked it in the palm of her hand, hiding a grin knowing how uncomfortable I was."What about you Child, how's Aether?" I said, turning the conversation around.Child sat on the ice box popping open a bag of pork rinds."Things are...they aren't great," he said, "She isn't down with the Vanguard stuff, you know. And with all of Queen Rat's people scattered staying in contact with her...it's been rough is what. But we're still together, I think."
"You know I ain't down with the Vanguard shit either," Misfit said, "Y'all making things worse for our people, not better. Now they're snatching up every para-folk without needing an excuse.""They were planning to do that anyway," Thunderchild said, "Nemesis says-""Cool it with the politics," Pratfall said, walking back out showered down. Well, out of costume was she really Pratfall? Xiang wore a black bikini, drying out her hair with a towel. Her costume was pretty tight to begin with, but now I could see how fit she really was. It was no accident of her powers that let her flip around the way she did. She must have been a gymnast or an acrobat or something before she got her powers. "You mentioned a hot tub?"Grit stared a little too long for it to be from his second beer. He wasn't the only one, Misfit was staring too."Out the back," he said."Glad I brought the swim suit," she said."A hot tub and my girlfriend is on the other side of town," Misfit sighed, "That'd be a way to party right? We just took down the heads of the biggest gangs in the city. Grit's right, we should get some honies up in here.""Nah, I'm glad its just us," Thunderchild said, "We don't have to put on a front or whatever. Can really kick back."Grit got out a portable speaker, flicked through his phone before finding some music. But on some thumping club mix."Fire Watch baby!" he said, knocking back his beer before getting another. He whipped away the crumpled up can. "None of us can legally drink, but fuck it, let's get turnt!""Ey!" Thunderchild toasted that, and I raised up my own beer can. We were an hour out from nearly being shredded by gunfire, if anyone had earned the right to cut loose it was us."So am I getting into the hot tub alone or what?" Xiang said, "Don't tell me you all forgot to pack swim suits."I had and so had everyone else except Grit. "Nothing wrong with underwear though, right?" Thunderchild said, kicking off his jeans."Guess not," Misfit said, pulling up her compression top down to a sports bra.Thunderchild hopped out his jeans down to a pair of boxer briefs."You getting in or what?" Misfit asked me.I hesitated, but if everyone else was? I slid out of my jacket and costume, down to boys trunks briefs."Oh shit, we're wearing the same outfit," Misfit teased, snapping the band of her own briefs.Half-drunk or high we went to the back porch of the log cabin where an open air hot tub was warming up. Grit padded out in a bright red speedo, a couple of beers swinging from his hand.It was weird in a good way, not being half-naked with Fire Watch, I was used to hitting the showers with the basketball team. It was the scars.
I wasn't standing out for the twisted up knots of scar tissue covering my body. Misfit had cuts and burns peppered across her body and Grit was no different. Thunderchild had the kind of surgical incisions left over from his time spent captive in the black site. Even Pratfall had a few scars. My body felt no different from theirs. It was normal. For the first time in a long time I felt normal.Relaxing as I slid into the water, bumping hips with Pratfall and knowing it didn't mean anything, Grit passed me another beer.The only one who didn't join in was Dog Brother. He sat on the porch staring out into the night, not talking. Fact was it might have been a good thing. He was unwashed and would have dirtied the water. It was good to have him there though."So you're like, a lesbian right?" Grit asked Misfit."I do like the pussy yeah," she replied, "Why?""You ever been tempted to go with a dude?" he asked."Have you?" she asked. Grit blanched as Misfit grinned. "Nah, I'm all about girls," she said, "But if I ever did get bi-curious I got a couple of guys on my list.""Yeah?" Grit said."You're not one of them though," she replied, splashing water at him. He joined in on the laughter.Sitting in my underwear, hot water soaking through with a cold beer in my hand, friends all around. It's not a place I ever imagined myself but it felt good. The only thing that was missing was Ayesha and Ivy. Together, the three of us, in a hot tub, in underwear or less. I grinned as I sucked down the beer, glad no one here could read my thoughts."So what's our next target?" Thunderchild asked, "We hot the gangsters and got most of them, but the job isn't done. I say we go after those Humanity First guys next. They've been going wild on the para-folk community, and the cops aren't doing shit about it.""Maybe we should be worried about Ixion," Xiang said, "They're planning something, I know it. Something big.""The gangsters might have taken a hit, but they ain't done," Grit said, "The Haitian is still out there.""Yo can't we just relax for a second?" Misfit said, "Let's enjoy the win, maybe train a bit more before we go after our next target.""What do you think Spur?" Thunderchild asked.They all turned to look at me."Why's it my call?" I said."Well, you're the leader," Misfit said, "That's why."I was about to protest that and say I'd never agreed to leading anything, but it didn't feel like the right move. They waited, expecting an answer.>Misfit has a good point, let's enjoy the win, and focus on training before anything else>Grit's right, let's go after the Haitian. I don't want to give them a break.>I'm with Thunderchild, the Humanity First Militia needs a black eye>Ixion is planning something and we need to know what>the real threat isn't criminals or corporations, we need to deal with this magic problem
next update is tomorrow
>>5028219>the real threat isn't criminals or corporations, we need to deal with this magic problemhopefully they don't embarrass us in front of our wizard
>>5028219>the real threat isn't criminals or corporations, we need to deal with this magic problemI personally want to just kick the militias ass but, if every other normie human starts killing each other because some Mesopotamian demons are calling them gay then we've failed ass heroes I do agree that an exposee and an asswhoop on the militia is necessary though Goddamn communist propagate is what it is
>>5028219>the real threat isn't criminals or corporations, we need to deal with this magic problemThis is true but I'm not sure we can do much in the physical world and there's only one wizard>Ixion is planning something and we need to know whatThis is the next biggest threat and we must start working on it as soon as possible.
>>5028219>the real threat isn't criminals or corporations, we need to deal with this magic problemIt's kinda something we've ignored, plus, The Red Wizard is supposed to be involved and be a key member. It'd be wrong not help him with his side of supernatural trainwrecks.
>>5028219>the real threat isn't criminals or corporations, we need to deal with this magic problem>Ixion is planning something and we need to know what
"The real threat isn't criminals or corporations," I said, "It's something else, something supernatural. We've got a magic problem in Chicago and its only getting worse."The collective groan that rose from the rest of the hot tub was annoying but expected."Magic," Xiang said, rolling her eyes.The only one who wasn't skeptical was Misfit. "If Spur says its a problem, its a problem," she said, "and I've seen enough wild shit already I'm not going to say anything's impossible.""Implausable, at least," Xiang said, "Many of our powers come with a scientific basis, even if the mechanism allowing them is unknown. Magic is inherently irrational, unknowable. If magic is real it calls into question the fundamentals of a rational universe and the scientific method.""Maybe magic is just like, really advanced science though or something," Thunderchild said."No," Xiang said, "Boo that. No one likes that. It's either science or magic, not magic-science.""All right, sheesh!" Thunderchild said."It could be both though," Grit said, "Maybe our universe is irrational, under the surface.""I'm sorry who else here is a scientist?" Xiang said, "And who here has even finished high school?""Man, you playing that card?" Grit said, "So what if half of us have dropped out."More than half I'd say. Misfit wasn't in school, I doubt Dog Brother was either, and if Thunderchild was getting an education it wasn't in a classroom. I knew Grit had bailed on school to work in construction, supporting his kid sister and his ancient grand parents.Maybe Xiang realized she was being a prick."We'll look into this magic stuff," she said with a sigh."It doesn't mean we won't be dealing with anything else," I said, "This just takes priority. The Red Wizard needs our help. He's trying to contain this problem by himself, I'm worried its more than he can handle.""We're in it with you, chief," Misfit said.Chief? I raised an eyebrow at her."Anyway, we all kicked some ass tonight," Thunderchild said, "Watching you deck that goon Haymaker was sweet, Pratfall. And Grit, you really saved my ass with your powers. Brick walls out of no where sure come in handy.""Droppin' that car on Sundowner was a nice piece of work," Misfit said, toasting Thunderchild, "You was booming every which way tonight, keeping up just about had my head spin off.""It sure was a trip having those coyotes around," Grit said, looping Dog Brother into the conversation. Dog Brother watched the night from outside the tub, his little silver dog licking his fingers."We did some good," I said, "And we did it well.""It sure is good having someone watching my back out there," Grit said."I can drink to that," Thunderchild said, raising his beer can. We gave a small cheer before chugging down.The rest of the night advanced in an increasing blurr as alcohol took its toll.
It was needed, cutting loose. After something like that where our lives were on the line, we needed to grab on to something to pull ourselves back together, and who was better than each other? Not just alcohol, I had a vague memory of puffing on a joint offered by Misfit, passed around at some random hour of the night, but by the time I woke up my memory was hazy.I woke up in the middle of the floor with a soft bundle I thought was Mangy curled up on my chest. It wasn't, it was Dog Brother's little silver terrier, Laila. She blinked little black button eyes than licked my chin. I slid her off my chest, getting up to a thumping in my skull. I'm glad it wasn't a school day. I wobbled, a woozy feeling running through me.The smell of cooking meat was both appetizing and revolting.Misfit stood in the kitchenette wearing a loose white shirt and not much else, frying up bacon and eggs, slowly growing a large stack on a platter."Ere he is," she said, "You want some juice or whatever?" She slid a plate over to me, got some pulp juice from the fridge and set it down next to it.I attacked the bacon and eggs, the grease slithering down my throat to drop into the empty acidic chamber of my stomache."Crazy night last night," she said.Pratfall stumbled sleepily out of a bedroom, her hair a black haystack around her shoulders, puffy eyed and frowning."Morning," she said, then stopped and held her belly. The 'gurk' from her throat was the only warning she had to sprint for the toilet.The others rolled up to eat. The only one without a hangover was Misfit, thanks to the fact alcohol had all the effect of gatorade on her. Turns out Grit hadn't known that, and she'd tricked him into a drinking contest."Malort is worse than being shot," he declared, and having had some last night I could only agree."Hater," Thunderchild muttered. He'd also tried to go Misfit drink for drink. She whistled as she served them both a fried breakfast.I checked my phone and found I'd sent about two dozen messages, split between Ivy and Ayesha than to both of them together. More than a few had been pictures of me with my shirt off, and they weren't selfies. I buried my head in my hands with a groan that had nothing to do with a hang over.Then I looked again. There was a reply from Dad.Dad - Hi Eric, this is Carmen. Your dad went out and forgot his phone. Do you know where he might have gone? He went with your Uncle Karl.My blood went cold at that. I don't know why but I didn't like it.Dad - Hi Eric, Carmen again. Sorry about the last message, don't want you to worry. He came home and is in bed. Stay safe?The last message had coming at around 3:45 AM.Had Dad been out drinking?
"Put a squeeze on the Triads," Grit finished saying. Thunderchild nodded, spearing a crispy piece of bacon as Pratfall stumbled out of the toilet looking green around the neck."You okay Spur?" Misfit said, noting something on my face."I'm cool," I said, slipping my phone away. I didn't want to worry anyone with the soap opera details of my life.Now it was a matter of figuring out what to do with the rest of my day.>go home and see what was going on with Dad>head over to Ayesha's for some private time>call Jimmy and meet up with the Red Wizard>(write in)
for reference the last vote was for what Fire Watch as a group will focus on. Eric can still pick individual targets and goals for himself
>>5029152>call Jimmy and meet up with the Red WizardWe did just emphasize this and dad has the florinator
>>5029152>go home and see what was going on with Dadwe're our dad's drinking trigger, shit
>>5029152>>call Jimmy and meet up with the Red WizardMagic bullshit is more important
>>5029152>go home and see what was going on with dad
>>5029152>go home and see what was going on with Dad
>>5029152>go home and see what was going on with DadFamily is important and we haven't been paying much attention to it lately
Something was going on with Dad and I wanted to know what."Well if you'll excuse me I'll be returning to the court of our splendiferous queen," Pratfall said, stretching out her arms overhead, "It would be best to deliver a first hand account of our exploits to the leader of our currently diasporic community.""I've got to get home," I said."Get dressed an' I'll give you a ride," Misfit said, hoping down from her stool to do the same.We cleaned up the cabin best we could before heading out, each of us splitting our own way. Dog Brother got in Grit's car with his little friend, while Pratfall in full costume, a duffle bag hitched over her shoulder, disappeared in a boom with Thunderchild. I climbed up behind Misfit, and together we whisked off out of there.Heading down the highway Misfit shouted back through the wind."So geez Hotspur, why does your mom let you have two girlfriends?"I buckled on the backseat, Misfit laughing."You mentioned it last night while showing off photos," she said, "You got really hammered, buddy. But they cute, no doubt they cute.""Did you take those pictures of me?" I asked, the shirtless snaps that had been sent to both Ivy and Ayesha. Misfit laughed again, speeding up for an answer.She dropped me off at the front of Luis' shop. I stumbled the rest of the way home, worried what I might find, hang over thumping in my skull.Mrs Valdez smiled hello as I climbed the stairs.Inside I found them both, Miss Flores and Dad, seated at the kitchen table. Dad looked terrible. Miss Flores looked unhappy. Dad hadn't shaved, he looked ten years older with the pits under his eyes corpse-like. He was drinking his coffee black. Watching from beside the sink, Mangy swished her fluffy white tail."Everything okay?" I asked, setting down my bag.Miss Flores crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at Dad. Dad flicked his gaze down at the steaming cup of coffee."I got a little drunk last night," Dad mumbled. It was harder to judge him for it since I'd been out drinking too. "Your Uncle Karl...""Bastard," Miss Flores said. Dad looked up at her. "Not you," she said."He wanted to blow off some steam, and he didn't want to go drinking with his work friends so he called me up. I took him down to Finnegan's, introduced him to the boys on my work crew. You know, the union guys. It was okay but they uh...they got me drinking."He looked up at me, looked like he'd run over my dog."I'm really...real sorry kid. I know I promised no more of that stuff. I'm trying but...some nights are easier than others."Yeah, like the nights your son wasn't going out fighting dangerous criminals and who knew what else. A small touch of guilt roiled in my guts.>it's okay Dad, you made a mistake>it's more my fault than yours Dad>you should be sorry, but you'll do better next time>(write-in)
>>5031275>Dad I know it's not easy and I probably should make you worry less but you gotta keep yourself away from booze. You've now got a lot of people who like you as you are, not as a pile of drunken meat.I'm also worried whether dad is just as talkative while drunk as Eric seems to be.
>>5031275I'll second this>>5031303Its real dangerous when we don't know who's listening to him after Uncle Karl visited.
>>5031275Apologize that we haven't been here for him
"I'm sorry I haven't really been there for you," I said.Dad looked up at me with a sad grin."Kid, that's my job," he said, "You're the one who needs looking after. What with you trying to carry the whole world on your back."He took a long sip of his hot coffee. Miss Flores' hand found the back of his neck, gave it a gentle squeeze."You've got to stay away from the booze, Dad," I said, "I know it's not easy and I probably should make you worry less, but you've got to keep off it. You've got a lot of people now who like you for who you are, not as a drunk.""Yeah," he said with the resignation of someone who has been here before, "Maybe I need to get my hump back to those AA meetings.""Maybe," Miss Flores said like it was a good idea.I'm glad he had her, even if sometimes I still wished he hadn't moved on from Mom. It was one of those selfish ugly thoughts that reared their head now and then, but today it kept its head down. The relief on his face when he rested his head against her belly, when she stroked his hair, I would never want to take that away from him. Everybody needs somebody, wasn't that how the song goes?I helped out by doing the dishes, cleaning the house up some while Dad nursed his hangover on the couch. Truth was I had a hangover of my own, but call it youth or something, it didn't wreck me the way it did him.Dad put on the news while nursing a second cup of coffee."-with a daring late night raid on what's being called a Mafia convention," Priscilla Takanawa said as images of the smoking hotel played across the screen, cutting to an image of the heads of Chicago's underworld on their knees and handcuffed in a line, "It was the work of a new superhero team, called 'Fire Watch', working in cooperation with Deputy State's Attorney Madeline Grant and the Illinois State Police. DSA Grant is expected to lead the prosecution against the underworld figures, including against those suspected for involvement in her kidnapping last year. However some are concerned that the use of extra-legal methods, specifically the involvement of vigilantes, may harm her case.""It's a dangerous step, giving legitimacy to what are essentially costumed thugs," a representative of the Police Union scowled into the camera, "Law enforcement should be left in the hands of peace officers authoritized by the government. If Hotspur or whoever his name is wants to arrest crooks he should sign up with the police, and Ms Grant encouraging this sort of vigilantism is irresponsible."
The screen cut back to Priscilla Takanawa, who kept a grave look. "Even with opinions divided on the methods, the arrests are considered a big win for the community with politicians on both sides of the aisle reaching out to congratulate Fire Watch and Ms Grant for their work.""This is the kind of action we need to see from our citizens," a white man in a red tie said, "Direct action and personal responsibility.""We can only say, more, more, more," a black man in a blue tie said, "This is what Chicago needs, less talk and more walk."I cringed as our group photo played over the tv, Misfit throwing up a W while Dog Brother stared at his feet, me looking uncomfortable in front of the camera."Fire Watch is made up of members of Chicago's own para-folk community, many of them already recognizable to viewers for their individual crime fighting activity," Priscilla Takanawa said, "None more so than their leader, Hotspur, who will be joining me in the studio Friday night for an exclusive interview. Back to you Gregg.""Exciting stuff," the male news anchor said, "Looking forward to meeting a real life super hero Kimberly?" he asked his co-anchor.The peppy blonde shared his grin. "Excited to get an autograph for my kids, all they talk about is Hotspur, Hotspur, Hotspur."Dad switched off the tv, raised his eyebrows at me like I should be explaining a couple of things. Then he closed his eyes, sighed, and said, "You're a good kid, Eric."I smiled.It would be nice if that was all I had to worry about.>pick a primary, secondary and minor action>hit the streets and bust some heads, keep the victory rolling>call up the Red Wizard and work on magic problems>focus on life and school, spend time with Ayesha and Ivy>hit out against the DPA and their backers>keep working on the Ixion case>keep up my training, stay sharp>(write-in)
this is for what Eric as an individual will be dealing withsorry for being so absent, I've been having a rough time irl. getting better, though we'll be sticking with the one update a day until I say otherwise.
>>5032831primary>>call up the Red Wizard and work on magic problemssecondary>focus on life and school, spend time with Ayesha and Ivy (we've just started and we're already neglecting them, the early days are important)minor>keep up my training, stay sharp
>>5032831>hit the streets and bust some heads, keep the victory rollinga power vacuum like this leads to violence>focus on life and school, spend time with Ayesha and Ivy>keep up my training, stay sharpthe reason we needed firewatch is because we couldn't do everything at once. if they're doing magic stuff we should cover other things
>>5032831in order from primary to minor>call up the Red Wizard and work on magic problemsgotta treat the cause instead of the symptoms>focus on life and school, spend time with Ayesha and Ivyour mom is letting us have 2 gfs>keep working on the Ixion caseI feel like the experience we get is training in of itself, better even
>>5032831>>5032879support>>5032839As always, thanks for Running QM, hope things get better.>>5033039I know what you mean with using expirience as the training itself but it have show the out abilities grow exponential with normal training. Really wish we could squish some self learning about our power again to get know the full extend of them, like visiting the old church of fire again (if they let us pass of course)Also, after dealing with Magic stuff we really need to crack up onto the axion stuff
I had a lot of things to handle. I had to keep up my training, I had to keep up with my girlfriends, and I had to keep up on the dozens of problems riddling Chicago that the police were either unable or unwilling to deal with.The first and most important was whatever was going on with magic. I needed to talk to Jimmy one-on-one, figure out what was going on, and get the rest of Fire Watch involved in solving the problem.The Dweller in the Threshold he'd called it, something waiting out there on the other side, something with ill intent. I didn't have the language to describe it. I wondered if Jimmy did either. I'd only flirted a little with the forces of magic and I'd come through it disturbed and wrong footed. These weren't things I could drive my fist through.So we had to meet, but for now, I need to rest.-School went by in a blur of classes. Most of it I spent with the corner of my eye on Ayesha. We hadn't told anyone yet about us, or about us and Ivy. Frankly I didn't even know how to tell people, most people hadn't taken it great. It wasn't right. The only person I knew who was cool with it had been Misfit."Grab what love you can and hold on, man, life's too fuckin' short," she'd said.Good advice.Still, it made school awkward, sitting next to her at lunch while the others talked. She'd hook her calf around mine under the table, sliding her foot up the back of my leg while while innocently munching on a kale salad while pretending to listen to whatever Zeke was going on about. I don't think she'd told her parents, I hadn't yet.Whatever else though we were missing Ivy at our table. With Dane gone too, and Daphne...it wasn't the same, as much as we tried."So your boyfriend was in the news again," Zeke said, "Did you guys hear about the mafia raid?"Ayesha paused mid-chew, stumbling over how accidentally accurate Zeke was."Hotspur took down the head honchos of the crime families with his new super-gang," Hunter said, "Man, I don't know if I like it. It seems like a good thing but I heard he's planning on taking over. Part of the para-freak social control movement, taking over all the powerful instiutions. Government, religion, crime, even the postal service.""You're paranoid," Rufus said."It's what I heard!" Hunter said, "Even the guy running for governor, Eldridge? Even he's said something about it. We have to keep an eye out you know. We've got those Vanguard guys killing politicians and now we've got the Hotspur gang taking down crooks. Its all a little suspicious.""They're called Fire Watch," Ayesha said, "And they're heroes, not a gang.""Sure it starts that way, but what next?" Hunter continued."Next you'll say something fucking stupid, like you always do," Kaylee said with more than a little nastiness in her voice.It took everyone by surprise.Kaylee wore a leather jacket, one of Misfit's jackets, and she hugged it tightly around herself.
"You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, you never do, so just shut the fuck up for once in your life," she said."Harsh," Rufus said. Hunter got up quiet with his lunch tray, shot Kaylee an angry, wounded look, and stalked over to the table where the nerds were sitting. He set his tray next to Ben's and slid onto the bench, head down. The nerds were surprised but didn't turn him away."Great," Zeke said, "Really great Kaylee, do you want us all to stop being friends?""Maybe, if it means we stop sitting around pretending everything is normal," she said, "As if the world didn't completely change six months ago. As if Dane isn't gone, or Daphne hadn't..." She squeezed her eyes shut, shook her head. "Who fucking cares," she said, "It doesn't matter." She picked up her own tray, stalking over to sit with the theater kids.No one was happy through the rest of lunch, least of all Ayesha. I could see what she wanted to do, find a way to bring everyone back together, heal the hurt, make everyone friends again. It's how she was, always trying to help people, trying to do good. But I think right now she was as likely to make things worse as she was to make things better. More than a little of it was my fault."So I heard you and Malcolm broke up," Zeke said, hopeful, "You uh, you okay?"Ayesha nodded. "Yeah, I'll be fine. Malcolm was a nice guy but...he wasn't really for me," she said."Huh," Rufus said, "Only the way he tells it, he broke up with you.""Excuse me?" Ayesha said, eyebrow raised."Yeah, you know him and my older brother are tight and I heard them talking," Rufus said, "He said when he broke up with you, you begged him not to go. Said a lot of stuff.""Really?" the furrow in Ayesha's brow was a warning of bad things to come for Malcolm."Yeah, I didn't really believe what I heard. Didn't sound like you," he said, "But you know, you never know, right?""What else did he say?" Ayesha asked. Rufus sucked in his bottom lip. "Go ahead Roof, I won't be angry with you.""Only uh...that you were a fun uh...pump and dump but not 'wife' material." Rufus winced as he said it.The plastic fork in my hand splintered. I was surprised how still I was despite the fiery rage sending a hot unthinking rush through the back of my head. I'm no killer, but Malcolm was damn lucky he wasn't anywhere I could get my hands on him.Ayesha, on the other hand, laughed. "What a loser," she snorted. Rufus and Zeke grinned, Zeke nodding."What kind of college ass brother goes after high school girls?" Rufus said."We never even had sex," Ayesha said, "And I definitely wasn't in love with him.""Oh for real?" Zeke said, a little hopeful.Ayesha grinned, nodding. "No, how could I be when I'm in love with Eric?"Bomb dropped. I spluttered on my can of pop.
She put her head on my shoulder with a grin, looking up at me with those beautiful large eyes of hers, the curls of her fro brushing against my cheek. God, the rage in me died on the warm flutter it sent through me.Rufus and Zeke both looked at me like they'd had their guts scooped out, like they couldn't believe what they'd just heard. Me, I considered the tray of half-eaten lunch in front of me."So you two are..." Zeke said, not wanting to finish the sentence, looking kind of sick. I knew Zeke had a thing for Ayesha. A thing he'd been carrying for a long time.That's how it went though. Someone had to lose.>yeah, we are>she's just playing around>not just me, Ivy too
>>5033833>yeah, we areDon't need to air out our relationship to everyone, that's a private thing between us, not something to flaunt
>>5033833>yeah, we are>>5033863Pretty much.(We really need to close things out with Dane and Kaylee, mostly closure. Not like it helps that we are going out with two of her best friends now, literally. Yikes)
>>5033831Supporting >>5033863>>5033896Well, it's not like she isn't dating one of Eric's best buds
>>5033921A fair trade
>>5033833>yeah, we areThe two gfs flex so tempting
>>5033833>yeah, we arePoor Zeke living in a NTR doujin
>>5033833>yeah, we are
sorry for the silence, I've been dealing with a rough time here. will try to get some stuff up this week.
>>5037361Hope you're good man, take your time
>>5037361Hope it gets better man
I looked down at Ayesha, her chin resting on my shoulder, her little grin and warm, heart shaped face framed by her dark coils.Something in me missed its beat."Yeah we are," I said. Together, in love, and not just us but they didn't need to know about that."Damn, and I always thought you and Ivy..." Rufus muttered.The thing they didn't need to know about yet.Ayesha's fingers laced through mine, clasping hands. Her warm little hand. I massaged the back of her hand with my thumb, getting more than I thought I could out of the small touch."Since when?" Zeke demanded, looking more than a little pissed off."Since none of your business," Ayesha said, a little annoyed herself."Cool down, man," Rufus said."Whatever," he replied, shooting me a jealous look. Then getting up he stormed out.Ayesha had less charity for him than I expected."Sorry about him," Rufus said, "Zeke always figured the reason you and him never, you know, went anywhere was a race thing."Ayesha raised a cool eyebrow. "What like its still the 60s? Well maybe him thinking like that is a good reason why I wasn't interested," she said, "And you know, I'm not here to help anyone get over their bull crap. He can work on himself a little instead of just wanting things.""It's cool, it was just something he mentioned once," Rufus said, still a little defensive for his friend.Like I said, someone had to lose and it sucked, but that's how it goes. Zeke wasn't a bad guy, and if he was really our friend he'd come around."He'll get over it," Ayesha said. But I could tell she was a lot more hurt than she was letting on. Hurt her friend had reacted that way, hurt that our group had splintered again. She squeezed my hand a little harder. I squeezed back."This is why friends shouldn't date," Rufus said, as if he hadn't been hung up on Ayesha too before landing with Shonique. "But I'm happy for you!" he spluttered, realizing what he said, "It's cool, I'm cool with it.""Thanks, we were waiting on your permission," she said with a dryness that made me grin. Then she put her head on my shoulder again. I breathed in the smell of her hair, her lotion, and the smell that was hers alone, squeezing her warm little hand harder. Then she looked up at me and said, "They will come around, right?"I shrugged. "Yeah probably," I said. I hoped so. This little pocket of normal life, school and my friends, it meant a lot to me. It's not something I wanted to lose. I wanted to be Eric Miller as much as I was Hotspur, and to lose this was to lose that. "Hey I've got to see someone after school, but I'll be over to yours right after. Did you uh...have you told your parents?"
I knew she hadn't when she bit her bottom lip. "Not yet," she said, "But will it be a problem? Mom and Dad love you, you're almost like a son to them.""That makes this a little 'Sweet Home Alabama' though," I said."Gah, you know what I mean!" she said, "Come over though, come for dinner. We'll tell them then."If it was just me and Ayesha maybe I could see them being cool with it, but me, Ayesha and Ivy wrapped up in a weird three-way relationship? They'd have to be the coolest parents in the world to be one hundred on that set up."Okay, dinner," I said. I darted a quick kiss on her cheek as I got up.But before dinner, I had a date with a wizard.
next thread is going to be a POV switch for the spooky seasonHope to see you there for Rites of the Red Wizard Quest
>>5038260aw yeahalloween special
>>5043602nice nice nice