Glow-worm – 0.5

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Subject: Your Nilles University Application
August 21st, Y1
Dear Applicant (Point_Me_@_The_Sky@mail)

We regret to inform you that your application for graduate study in our department was turned down. We look at each application and applicant as a whole and decisions are based on a composite of information including your previous academic performance, referrals, relevant professional activities, proposed research statements, and test scores.

Due to a high volume of applicants, this message has been partially automated. Your application was received by paper and email and discussed by me and one other faculty member. We responded by email as per your preference. We would like to stress, for your particular application:
• That we would very much like you to apply again in future years.
• That we would encourage you to use the same email address, as we can easily tie it back to this application.
• We felt your academics were very strong.
• We felt your extracurriculars were exceptional.
• We felt your references were exceptional.
• In a time when records are often lacking and references may be hard to identify or contact, your application stood above and beyond in how complete and thorough it was.

Nilles is one of three Universities serving an estimated population of fifty million on Earth Gimel and its associated territories, and it is the sole post-secondary institution offering graduate studies. Over one and a half million bright and eager minds have applied to Nilles in avid hope of starting or resuming their educations, and regretfully, with our current facilities, we cannot accept more than twenty thousand.

Although these circumstances mean we must regretfully send you an unfavorable response, we appreciate your application. We wish you the best in your future endeavors and look forward to hearing from you next year.

Yours truly,
Dr. Marilyn Ginbar
Graduate Advisor

Private Messages from Glitzglam:

Glitzglam: Friend said emails out today

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I got mine this morning.

Glitzglam: And? ? ?

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Same as last year.

Glitzglam: : (

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: We have completed a review of your applic’n. Paperwork good. Grades good. X’lars good. Refs good. You’re perfect.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: But the world ended two years ago, sorry! No place for you now. Please apply next year. We’ll keep track of your applic’n and the fact you applied last year, we promise!
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: no mention in this yrs letter about me applying last year so I do have my doubts

Glitzglam: aw hon 🙁
Glitzglam: why tho? My friend got in and I know his ap wasn’t as good

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: why do you think?
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: That’s a serious Q’n btw. Because I don’t know
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Rational part of me thinks high demand program + only so many grad students allowed in
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: That part of me outnumbered 14 to 1 tho

Glitzglam: hm hm
Glitzglam: very specific #

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I’ve been thinking about it all day. Made a list. Lots of unreasonable answers that are semi-possible. sentiment / reference backstabs me / people with ties to uni staff get in first / uni tied to gov + gov wants specific focus for research
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I could go on. I know some of those sound crazy
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: + all of that? If true then no reason to think next year will be different. Last year was a third the number applicants, they accepted 2.5%. This year, what? 1.4%?

Glitzglam: um

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Could be multiple of above. could be none.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Enough about me. How is training going?

Glitzglam: is fine. not important.
Glitzglam: Im going to visit as soon as possible
Glitzglam: k?

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: No need to treat me with kid gloves. We all suspected this would happen.

Glitzglam: honestly ?
Glitzglam: we all were saying 2 temper expectations
Glitzglam: but we would wink as we said it
Glitzglam: we thought u would get in

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: That doesn’t make me feel better

Glitzglam: have u told everyone?

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: no
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Today I have stuff to do. I work and think.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Might go for long trip before semester starts + I get busy with work. Visit home.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Share after I get back I think.

Glitzglam: K. Im visiting 2. field exercises today tomorrow. team want to meet for drinks on day off. I think I might take off nstead. home 4 sure. m/b u?

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I’m okay. But do me a favor?

Glitzglam: anything

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: If you stop by? I set up tarps by house. Make sure they still there & no water getting through? Lost cause maybe

Glitzglam: can do
Glitzglam: u sure u ok?

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I’m not. But I’m the ok sort of not ok. I’ve gotten good at effective brooding
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Our little parcel of humanity is sprawled haphazardly across 15+ alt earths. Has to be a place for us somewhere right?

Glitzglam: right
Glitzglam: and speaking of places. I got 2 take off becuz my place is 2 be doing drills

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Be safe. Say hi to the family for me. I’ll drop by soon.

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Glow-worm – 0.4

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Welcome to the Parahumans Online message boards.
You are currently logged in, of5

Searching for:
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♦ Topic: [JRPNA] Use of Cluster Powers, Serial Powers, Matched Powers, and Nth-generation Powers to identify ‘Hinge Points’ in Power Expression – 1998
In: Boards ► Parahuman Science
(PRT Science)
Posted on : June 4th, 2002

[Article] Studies into Parahuman abilities presently catalogue studied powers into three major databases: the PRT database in the US, the Cambridge Parahuman Studies facility, and the EUJP International Listing. The lists are formed by way of interview and laboratory studies with each institution using universally standardized forms in addition to supplementary material. Each of these three institutions have stated an express or strongly-implied desire to understand and predict expressions of power and tie these expressions to the inciting incidents. However, a longstanding problem in this process is that powers expressed, inciting incidents, and contextual factors can be dramatically different across individual cases. While some common themes can be drawn out, derived results are traditionally very big-picture. It is only recently that databases have begun to include sufficient numbers of special-case triggers that allow more focused study of how powers are expressed. We identified cluster powers, serial powers, matched powers, and Nth-generation powers as the special cases to focus on in more focused examination of how power instances can be mapped and we posit a ‘Hinge Point’ illustration of power expression and theory.

[Definitions] • Cluster powers are defined as powers wherein multiple inciting incidents occur either simultaneously or within a minute of one another. Such parahumans will have a collection of smaller powers related to the others. • Serial powers are defined as cases where an individual or multiple individuals in longstanding proximity to a parahuman will develop powers…

[Click to read full article]

(5 of 280 replies match search criteria)

Replied on August 20th, Y1:
Link is broken.

WMD377 (PRT Science Admin)
Replied on August 20th, Y1:
Yes. Tagged. It’s good to keep track and note this. This article was pretty important to the time. It would be worth finding someone with it in print and transcribing. Keep letting us know. It helps us track which articles are most important & desired. What’s your field?

Replied on August 20th, Y1:
I have this one. I can transcribe over the weekend. Want me to DM you the transcription, of5?

Replied on August 20th, Y1:
That would be helpful. Thank you. No field – I am furthest thing from scholar. Lot of this is going over my head. Personal interest only.

WMD377 (PRT Science Admin)
Replied on August 20th, Y1:
Keep in mind that serial and Nth-Generation (2nd gen, 3rd gen) powers are now the same thing.

End of Page 1. Click to view full list of pages.

♦ Topic: Multi-Trigger Case Studies – Parahumans 303 Class Notes (Spinky) – September 15th 2009
In: Boards ► Parahuman Science ►Non-Articles

Posted on : September 17th, 2009

From Wednesdays with Prof Spinky. Posted with permission. Cleaned up where I could

Overview: What are clusters?
Other names are mosaic p. expression, grabbag, multi
Effect on resulting power
Why important & Importance to study.
Case studies
Greater effects, things to keep in mind

Pt. 1: What are clusters?
2-6 people trigger at same time or very close together. Each gets a suite of powers. Person A gets Person A primary power and fragment of B, C, D, E, F.
Person B gets Person B primary power and fragment A, C, D, etc.

Pt 2: Effect on resulting power
Term secondary expressions. Weaker or subtle power. Can be conditional.
Primary powers may be weaker than if they had triggered alone?
Powers inspired by others but not identical. Relation may be tertiary.
Example given firebreath -> fire something or something breath
Prof stresses this is very basic example
Term for staying element is hinge (old) or dominant (current). Relates to 1998 article.

Pt 3: Why important & importance to study
Suggests powers aren’t 100% predetermined. Certain elements are highlighted or made dominant.
We can extrapolate from studies like this & serial triggers to work out key elements of existing triggers. What changes & why = what factors are important in standalone non-special trigger?

Case Studies: two cases & how we look at them
Two case studies. Interview, self-reporting, examination

Case Study #1: Sunder Bros
Take note for future week: matched powers. We come back to this.
Brother #1 – Destruction caused to objects ripples out indefinitely, stopping at clear demarcations (images included in lecture notes). Weapon extension without limit (except convenience)
Brother #2 – Weapon sweep extension – some range extension – wider arcs, shockwaves left/right of swing. Stomp to destroy ground in immediate area.

Class pauses, prof asks & responds to input re: dominant factors in each power.

Cute girl in red top finally comes up with answer that satisfies Spinky. Destruction & weapon attack augmentation dominant/staying/hinge factors. Question of range vs. breadth between brothers. Not very lopsided in power difference b/w primary & secondary power. Spinky’s stress on not.

We get some slides of brother’s recreation of trigger circumstance. Distance from threat. Prof Spinky highlights personality traits brothers used on forms they filled out. All as reasoning for different power expressions.

Case Study #2: Fowl & Fair (foreign capes, names that follow are badly translated)
Oxfair – Physical augmentation; size, strength, speed, agility (<- primary), deafening roar, transfer harm from falls/some impacts to nearby others, pain resistance/faster healing
Ramfair – Emotion affecting chant, size increase, some ability to heal very recent damage of others listening to chant/that touching, gather strength/concentrate -> giant leaps
Foulcock (yes, the class laughed) – Flight with build-up of speed over time, speed is transferred to touched others, interrupting flight to deliver high-impact blows. Increased agility, deafening shriek, fast recovery of smaller wounds (scratches yes, no recovery of larger wounds).
Foulpig – Personal biokinesis, swell into flesh bubble with fast recovery/personal mutations if not ‘popped’ in time. Some strength & size increase, but slower while grown. Ability to ‘roll’ with incoming impacts (mover expression? Turns into boulder). Guttural noise (flatulence? Burps?) to interrupt thought processes – turn off others’ brains momentarily.

Discussion of dynamic. Fair & foul on opposite sides post-trigger. Only fair provided answers & allowed power testing, rest has to be inferred. Handouts.

Some discussion of trigger event (see slides for images), some discussion of resulting ‘package’. Powers for each individual distinct but play off each other in semi-complementary way. Reflective of personality? Or ‘guiding hand’ principle?

Pt. 4: Greater effects & things to keep in mind – things touched on in homework reading:
Kill / Kiss – more on this in parahuman psychology class in a few weeks
Personality Bleed – personality traits bleed over from 1 individual to other? Messy
Higher incidences of paranoia, confrontation, aggression, PTSD. Less bounce back?
Higher rate of death post-trigger. Kill / kiss again. Graph
Prof Spinky stresses emotional states may play into the above. Triggers that are sufficient to draw in multiple individuals are worse than average. Can’t jump 2 conclusions. Correlation =/= causation.

(2 of 1140 replies match search criteria)

Replied on August 20th, Y1:
Lecture slides & graph missing.

Replied on August 20th, Y1:
ty again of5. nothing we can do about that one

End of Page 1. Click to view full list of pages.

Joined Group Conversation: Questionable_Mammal, Heart_Shaped_Pupil, Cap

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: R!

of5: Hi K. Missed you earlier. Am at library with friend. Researching.
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: this is friend you’ve talked about 😉 ?
of5: She is the friend. She is helping with technical side, searches.
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: Hi friend! Thank you for being good to our R!
of5: She at another computer now. I got her bored. I wouldn’t join this chat if she was watching.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: aw

of5: We stumped atm. Everythink links to outside articles. Dead ends. Most stuff I already know.
of5: and I know v. little
of5: a isn’t here?

Questionable_Mammal: I scared her off…
Questionable_Mammal: …she will be back I think. We still waiting on S. Technical issues. She’s @ workshop later this week…
Questionable_Mammal: …you need A?

: No. j/w.
of5: Wanted k actually.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: yuss! \♥/

: you know this site. I want search terms to find some people. Articles, anything else. Would need to cover a lot of bases. Normal site search limits # of terms.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: uh. that hard. you want packaged search string
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: i can try

Questionable_Mammal: you’re looking for others in your set?

: yes

Questionable_Mammal: I can make attempt. gimme time. you might want to fine tune after.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: aw!

: Thanks. I owe you one.
Questionable_Mammal: I got games btw. Will give on next meet.
of5: I owe you two

Questionable_Mammal: no. not big deal…
Questionable_Mammal: …go keep researching
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: entertain lady friend!
Questionable_Mammal: …and that

: getting off chat. friend blames slow connection through node.
of5: ty again

Questionable_Mammal: I DM you when I have something…
Questionable_Mammal: …keep eye out

♦ Topic: [EUJPR] Relationship Entanglement in Cluster-Triggers – 2005
In: Boards ► Parahuman Science

Posted on : February 18th, 2005

[Translation] Colloquially known as the kill/kiss dynamic, in cluster-triggers, there is a very high tendency toward passionate relationships, either hostility or partnership. Clusters have a 40% chance of one member murdering another, rising to a 50% chance when including attempted murder, 25% chance of a partnership forming, and a 10% incidence of partnership and murder coinciding. The term partnership is used for romantic pairings in instances where sexuality and gender allow, and close friendship or formed teams with members in other cases. In some (10% of) cases of close partnerships forming, the romantic pairing occurred despite one’s typical sexuality. The relationship entanglement study looks at existing cases and clusters to investigate why.

The most dramatic case in recent memory is the Stáj, also known as the Stable, or the Foul and the Fair. The Good Ox was turned into a grisly display […]

[Click to read full article]

(3 of 79 replies match search criteria)

Replied on August 20th, Y1:
No article on click.

Dana & Evan (Student)
Replied on August 20th, Y1:
It wasn’t a terribly good one. Doesn’t read as a solid study so much as a commentary. I’d give it a pass. The same details are covered in more depth elsewhere. I’ll see what I can dig up.

Replied on August 20th, Y1:

End of Page 1. Click to view full list of pages.

♦ Private message from 17593Q183H17953R9713E714693

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: 974641T17953A8209746413R173901761R796520

of5: ?

Joined Group Conversation: Questionable_Mammal, Heart_Shaped_Pupil

of5: Got a strange message. Friend says it might be a bot. String of numbers & letters?

Questionable_Mammal: could be.

of5: Could be s?

Questionable_Mammal: S isn’t that bad with computers…
Questionable_Mammal: …Block & move on….
Questionable_Mammal: …btw, here is search result for you.

♦ Private message from 17593Q183H17953R9713E714693

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: Had to check.

of5: ??

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: If you were one of mine.

of5: I’m going to do what my friends said and block you if you don’t explain.

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: You’re clearly looking for info on multis.

of5: Yes
of5: I am.

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: I can provide.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: We can collaborate.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: Is important to have others to watch your back

of5: I’ve found some people.

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: Unless you are a member of a very new cluster, limited # of people you can be.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: I found most of the group at I-275. Rest of them wouldn’t be searching online like you are.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: I found two members of the shipwreck group. They might be doing what you’re doing with the searching but they know the code. They’re friends of mine. Third member of that group is dead.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: The lecture hall: if you were one of them, you wouldn’t be so naive.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: That leaves three options. The Kansas Cornfield massacre: 3 dead, 1 alive with no reason to care about multis. He ate the rest of his cluster.

of5: Ate?

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: The book fair. Only ones still alive there are within spitting distance of me.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: Ate. I know why, too. I can share, but not for free.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: Leaves two good options. I can skip one because it’s mine.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: You’re part of the new cluster from the mall.

of5: No comment.

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: I found one of you already. I reached out to him first. He said no. Bad for him. Lucky for you.

of5: Lucky?

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: The one I talked to said there’s a woman, two boys, and him. I’m going to assume you’re the one I’ve termed the runt. The smallest, easiest target.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: The woman is gathering funds to hire mercenaries and come after you. The one I talked to hired an information broker to find you. Her name is Tattletale. She’s good. She has resources. including the mercenaries I just mentioned. She’s also preoccupied for now.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: A favor from me to you.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: That leaves you & the last one. It sounds like all 3 are coordinating vs. you.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: I can just about guarantee the people they’re gathering together are better than the ones you got.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: You need help. You’ve got a case of Kiss/Kill like I never saw and I don’t think they’re reaching for the chapstick.

of5: You’re wrong

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: About the need for help?

of5: It isn’t Kiss/Kill.
of5: I’ll take any help I can get.
of5: Provided I can get some clue you’re legit.

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: Glad to hear.

of5: and some idea of what you’re really after

17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: You. And a chance to deal with some mutual enemies.
17593Q183H17953R9713E714693: I’ll be in touch.

Searched for:
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• …with complex term: sever &/or [15 more terms, click to view]…
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• …with complex term: acrobatics &/or [9 more terms, click to view]…
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One result.

♦ Topic: Public Incident Report [Aug 16]
In: Boards ► Teams ► Gunslingers
Lucky Luke
Posted on : August 16th, Y1

[] We were ultimately unable to stop them, as they had two capes we had no information or records on. The first of the capes may have been a thinker, likely the same that shot down our flier. We were unable to glean much more from them, other than the fact they wore fur in the midst of a heatwave.

The second individual seems to be a grab-bag cape. She was a woman with a fanged mask covering her lower face, and a form-fitting dress with a slit up the side of one leg. She displayed a mover power [fourth term] with the ability to run on walls. She produced an emotion-affecting [third term] roar, which broke the ranks of one of the cooperating teams, and had metal claws [second term] which looked to be of tinker make. These claws may have been what enabled her to tear [First term not met, but within allowance] down doors and other barricades with the ease she did. We have the beginnings of a work-up going online shortly.

The attack on the store opening was a failure on our side. We were late to the scene due to geography and we lacked full knowledge of our adversaries. It is our belief that with PHO in working order and more collaborative tools and measure being put in place every day, that we will succeed next time where we failed this once. We are working with authorities to keep an eye out for the stolen merchandise.[…]

Joined Group Conversation: Questionable_Mammal, Heart_Shaped_Pupil, Cap

of5: Thank you, c.

Questionable_Mammal: I thought that one result looked good

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: pretty nasty customer

of5: It is. She is.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: are you looking after your friend?

of5: not nearly enough

Questionable_Mammal: did you get the bot thing handled?

of5: Bot thing handled. blocked & moved on.
of5: This woman… concerns me. I’ll figure out a plan of action later.
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: we’ll figure out a plan of action later >:)
of5: Thanks. And thanks again, c.
of5: You’re good kids.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: 😀

Cap has joined the chat.

Questionable_Mammal: no personal details online, ya?

Cap: ?

of5: Right. Sorry.

Questionable_Mammal: nothing big, Cap

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: Go get ur friend a thank you treat. Giant heart-shaped cookie!

Cap: subtle

of5: I don’t know about cookies. There’s a place to get ice cream.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: Go, shoo!

You have left the conversation.

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Glow-worm – 0.3

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♦ Topic: Amnesty & The Devil We Know
In: Boards ► News ► Events ► Gimel.US
Posted on August 19th, Y1:

I’ve seen a few articles and wanted to compile them. There’s a narrative here, if you don’t grasp it then bear with me an I’ll sum up my thoughts at the end.

Article: Strange Reversals: Villain to Hero & Forum Thread
The number of heroes is rising. Multiple known villains have shucked off the black capes for white ones. Which is a good thing, right?

Article: No Witnesses Remain & Forum Thread
The article identifies three villains who we know about in heroic groups – two with the Wardens and one with Shelter. They committed crimes, we have some limited information or scraps of wiki articles, but the witnesses of those past crimes are either dead or yet to establish themselves. We established standards for amnesty, but sometimes those standards can’t be met. The ex-villains find places on the team with nobody to naysay.

Article: Two Black Raincoats & Forum Thread
Let’s get to the examples. Four youths tried to get superpowers by working off of the ‘trigger’ theory of power gain, and became a newsworthy case in 2004. The event got out of hand, one boy and one girl took charge and preyed on the two younger members of the group, torturing them over the course of a weekend. Nobody gained powers, the search for the missing children led to the two older children being identified as they went into town on the Monday to get food and buy power tools, including a circular saw. They revealed the location of their victims; one of whom apparently lost fingers as the wire that was used to attach them to the toilet tank was too tight. Unnamed Boy was sent to juvie. Unnamed Girl was sent to psychiatric care. Both gained powers while in care, both were released in or around 2009. Reuniting, now with powers, they killed three people, wearing black raincoats to keep the blood off, and were not caught. They have been spotted in several locations at the Rochester span, wearing the black raincoats.

“For the time being, the amnesty applies,” Chief Armstrong stated to the media. “We know where they are and we’re keeping tabs.”

Good enough?

Article: “Rended”, “Torn Up”, “Dismembered” & Forum Thread
Written after Miss Militia and Vista, heroines under the Wardens, were seen on several occasions in the company of Hellhound, also known as Bitch or Rachel Lindt. Raises questions about the moral compromise the amnesty has wrought and the longstanding allegations that the Protectorate team in Brockton Bay was cooperating with the local villains. Once the relationship is established and we’re reminded of the past examples, the article devotes the latter half to reminding us of some of Rachel Lindt’s deeds when she was working with a group of warlords to seize Brockton Bay.

“Every day, I wake up and I try to move my leg. The wind gets knocked out of me when it doesn’t move like it should. If I’m active at all during the day, then the pain hits me in the evening.”

Article: Fallen: What You Need To Know & Forum Thread
The Fallen operate as a cult and they’re one of the largest cape groups around. The article doesn’t talk about it directly, but the forum thread has some great posts on the subject (see page 3 and 12). Their recruitment numbers are swelling and I (and others!) think it’s the amnesty that’s letting them get away with it. There’s a lot of talk of Lachlan Hund [article linked] elsewhere and there might be a court case revolving around what others are saying was a powers-assisted abduction. Totally Fallen M.O. for years prior, family says Lachlan never showed any pro-Fallen sentiment before this.

Article: No Cost & Forum Thread
Same article author as ‘No Witnesses Remain’. Following up on several villains who didn’t turn hero, the author finds two villains, both anonymous, who claim they received accommodations, at a time when many were still living in the tent cities. They got ahead of the ‘line’, they got basic apartments and utilities paid for, and they contribute nothing except the fact that they aren’t (as far as we know) committing crimes these days. It’s like we’ve caved to extortion.

We need to have a dead serious conversation about the amnesty. Justice shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Absolutely horrific individuals get their second chances but they get them at the expense of the safety and peace of mind of others. They get things easier.

We heard the arguments why at the start. We had other things to think about and deal with. Heroes had other things. We thought. We dealt. The heroes handled the biggest needs. That was then.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not buying into the anti-cape sentiment you see here and there.

But I’m anti-these-capes. I’m anti-this.

(Showing Page 52 of 52)

Dive Bucket
Replied on August 19th, Y1:
Where do they go tho? What are we supposed to do?
• No birdcage
• No max-sec prisons
• Bare bones legal system
• No stable government to put either of those in place
• No resources
• No records
• No witnesses (as OP says)

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
We have strict control over the portals. Send them out to Bet. Close the doors. Or guard them

mlekk (is mlekk)
Replied on August 19th, Y1:
/mlekk oozes in
mlekk thinks that would cause more probselms than it solves
mlekk thinks they would want to attack the doors
mlekk thinks of the refugees who haven’t made it to us yet
mlekk decides BAD IDEA
/mlekk oozes out

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
What’s wrong with extortion? What’s wrong with taking measures?

If you stand at the bottom of a hill and a car starts rolling down it with nobody in the drivers seat what do you do?

The way some of you imbeciles are talking about this I can’t help but think you would stand there bitching about the situation until the car hits you.

Get out of their way first and then make sure it wasn’t one part of bigger problem or disaster.

Then and only then do you address the problem with your indignation and sense of injustice cold, clear, and gripped in steady hands. Find some weapon or power and take action.

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
@ Mangled_Wings
1) villains aren’t cars. villains are humans. they’re accountable for their actions.
2) we have more choices than ‘get out of their way’. We’re part of a greater society. We have the choice of catering to them or treating them like the scumbags they are. we’re accountable for how we respond to them. our government is accountable for how they respond to them.
3) ‘imbeciles’ isn’t helping foster good discussion
4) can someone please ban mlekk? They’re in every other thread. Admin said they would deal with low-investment content
5) why the fuck is mlekk one of the only people with working badges?

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
There are three kinds of villain. There are villains at rest that don’t do anything unless bothered and they may be easy to bother. Don’t bother them unless you’re sure you’re stronger than them. If you don’t have powers you aren’t stronger than them.

There are villains in motion. They want something or they’re going somewhere. Don’t get in their way unless you’re a lot stronger than them. Catch them from the flanks or from behind if you’re strong and clever enough.

These two kinds of villain don’t budge. I’ve known a lot of them. I know how they operate. It takes a lot to move the ones at rest and it takes a lot to change the course of the ones in motion. You can’t do either. Don’t try.

The third kind is the kind worth paying attention to and they’re the ones that are changing or that can change. Objects in motion stay in motion and objects at rest stay at rest and the times and situations to watch out for are when they change states.

The people bitching here don’t know enough and don’t have the power to handle any of that. Get stronger. Get smarter. Leave it to the people who know stuff to tell each group apart and to know when to handle things.

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
Like you?
You act like you’re the only one who understands the situation
What guarantee is there that they’re ever going to handle things?
People and institutions do what is easiest.
(P.S. Mlekk is only one deserving of badge. Cult of mlekk!)

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
Adding articles, part III (Keeping to OP’s format):

Valkyrie Interviewed and Thread Link
Rising star in the Wardens. Exceptionally powerful, many references to the Green Maiden or something? Might harken back to before my time. She is asked directly about this in the interview and deflects.

Shepherd’s Crook and Thread Link (not many posts)
Team started up and fell apart. Reason why? One ex-nemesis and lover of the team leader was invited to the team. They went full yoko. Shepherds no more.

Endemic is the word.

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
Like me, New_Ohmstar. I have worked with more than twenty villains. I am a villain. When I give you recommendations about leaving sleeping dogs alone I am referring to myself. When I tell you that you want to get out of the way if I have something I want? Referring to myself.

I am not one of the leeches. I pay for my own apartment. I make no trouble. Yet. Yes I am talking to the heroes. They keep their eye on me and I keep my eye on them. There are other factors. This makes degrees of sense you are not equipped to comprehend. For now it is fine and you should take my word for it.

I’m aiming to get stronger. I’m aiming to get smarter. I am not the only one doing this. If you spend your time bitching on the internet instead of doing the same then you’re one of the imbeciles because things are changing and you will fall behind.

I can verify any of this if I must but I don’t know how as I am new to this site.

Replied on August 19th, Y1:
If you send me a private message, I can walk you through it. It would be faster to contact an active admin directly.

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 550, 51, 52

Private Conversation with Point_Me_@_The_Sky

Mangled_Wings: You said you’d help.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Hello to you too.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Click on your username while reading any thread you’ve posted in. Go to the Help panel. There will be a list of options. Third box, second option, badge verification You might want to open a new window so you can go back from this convo to that

Mangled_Wings: It says import image.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Take a picture of yourself in costume and a piece of paper with your username on it. Connect phone or camera to computer. Find the image and select it, hit the ‘select’ button on the bottom corner of the window.

Mangled_Wings: I don’t have a phone or camera.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Does your computer have a camera built into the monitor?

Mangled_Wings: Yes.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: OS360?

Mangled_Wings: Yes. I think.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Draw the circle in the center of the desktop to open the radial menu. Hit ‘C’ and camera should be something visible. Open it, wait for your image to appear. You’ll want to be in costume. Hit space.

Mangled_Wings: It made a shutter sound.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: You were in costume already?

Mangled_Wings: It’s fine.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Sure. You’ll find the picture in the ‘pictures’ bubble

Mangled_Wings: Thank you. I found it. I imported it. It wants me to put in a label before I hit select.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky:Villain’, I guess. I don’t know if you really want to do that. You might want to go ‘Cape’ if you want to fly under the radar. People are sore about villains these days.

Mangled_Wings: I don’t fly under the radar. I know what I am and I know what I’ll be, if I don’t die first. Thank you for the help. I respect this more than I respect the more self-pitying of the invertebrates out there.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Alright.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I’m unfortunately afflicted with desire to help people.

Mangled_Wings: A dire inflection, that.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: 0:) I don’t know if you’re at rest or moving or if you’re open to change, but you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Things will go smoother if you don’t call them invertebrates or imbeciles
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: And maybe stay at rest a little longer, given the chance?
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: I think they really need it
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: We all need it.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Also. It just occurred to me. If you connect at a library, you’ll want to delete the image before you go. Overwrite it once it is deleted to be sure.

Mangled_Wings: You kill more flies with vinegar in reality.
Mangled_Wings: A person can rest only so long. I’m restless.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: What a pity.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky: Spend more time online. Geek out. Learn! Less time spent being bad!

Mangled_Wings: I am not averse to learning. We will see if there is any pity to be had.
Mangled_Wings: I am at a library. I will do that.

Point_Me_@_The_Sky: You can draw the circle and hit ‘o’ to find overwrite.

Mangled_Wings: I already found it. Thank you. Goodbye.

Invitation to Group Conversation by Strange_Mammal

Strange_Mammal: aaaaand I think this is her…

Mangled_Wings: I’m here.

Strange_Mammal: we thought you’d be one of the stragglers

Mangled_Wings: I don’t straggle. At worst I am fashionably late.

Strange_Mammal: you said you hadn’t really used a computer before

Mangled_Wings: I hadn’t. I’m a fast learner.

Cap: this is A?

Strange_Mammal: it’s A…
Strange_Mammal: …we’re using first-letters to stay on down-low…
Strange_Mammal: …until we figure out what we’re doing

Cap: how long did it take to figure it out, A?

Mangled_Wings: Less than an hour. Mammal is?

Strange_Mammal: C.

Mangled_Wings: I see.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: !!! A!

Mangled_Wings: This would be K.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: i was viewing old videos and saw some vids of u

Mangled_Wings: I didn’t know I had any.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: so cool
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: so x-ited to b working with u.

Strange_Mammal: @ K / Heart_Shaped_Pupil…
Strange_Mammal: …type like a grown up…
Strange_Mammal: …my eyes are already bleeding

Cap: hahaha

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: Got it!
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: I’m saving vids. Show you at next face2face meet.

Mangled_Wings: Okay.

Cap: we still waiting on S & R

Strange_Mammal: they said they would have some trouble getting access

Cap: yes. I got to go. we check in again same time. hammer something out?

Mangled_Wings: Yes.

Strange_Mammal: I will keep an eye out for R & S

Cap has left the conversation.

Heart_Shaped_Pupil: Downloading downloading…
Heart_Shaped_Pupil: Getting off chat to download faster. Bye!
Heart_Shaped_Pupil has left the conversation.

Mangled_Wings: Bye.
Mangled_Wings: Ah. That was fast.
Mangled_Wings: I’ll go too.

Strange_Mammal: fyi?

Mangled_Wings: I don’t know this word.

Strange_Mammal: for your information…
Strange_Mammal: …others can see time you spend online on your profile. you spent longer than one hour…
Strange_Mammal: …you’ve been online all day.

Mangled_Wings: I am at the library. Something to do with that, I’d think.

Strange_Mammal: it doesn’t work that way. I am 95% sure.
Strange_Mammal: there is no need to lie, A
Strange_Mammal: the reason for this project is supposed to be we know each other
Strange_Mammal: K will find out if she does not already know. she pays attention to those things

Mangled_Wings: If you are 95% sure there is still 5% chance you are wrong. Assume you are wrong before you get on my bad side.
Mangled_Wings: You do not want to get on my bad side.

Strange_Mammal: ok

You have left the conversation.

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Glow-worm – 0.2

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♦ Topic: Info & Update
In: Boards ► Teams ► Reach (Private)

Posted on August 18th, Y1:

PHO is back on and they are letting the chats run. That’s where we usually meet, but I’ve been warned it’s choppy and slow. I’ll be there.

This took me three hours to just get started with. It’s hard.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I inform you that Coiffure did pass. When Gold Morning arrived, we suspected something might have happened, given the reports. She was killed in one of the initial strikes on the East coast. She was a friend, a teammate, and she was a true hero. She elevated others around her to be better people by the standards she lived by.

Coiffure is survived by only her father. Her mother was one of my favorite adults. She was kind, she was cool, and she was a genuinely good mom to Coiffure. When we went back to school in the fall, she gave us really cool back to school supplies. It remains in my memory as one of the most randomly nice things a relative stranger has done for me.

You’ll also remember her siblings Arthur and Cal, though you might not remember their names. When the family came by, Arthur would be the one curled up in the big chair near the front desk, with one of his game things. Cal would be watching over his big brother’s shoulder. I always thought it was hilarious how uninterested they were in capes.

We can expect they all died instantaneously. I’ve talked to Coiffure’s father. I would suggest that if you happen to run into him, leave him be. He doesn’t want reminders.

Furcate decided to fight on that monumental day and that says so much when not everyone was brave enough to do that. Furcate was wild and tortured and beautiful. They were a handful and yet they rewarded us with ten positive things for every negative we had to overcome. I’d like to think they got something out of putting up with us in much the same way.

I want what I say here to be honest. I did not get along with Furcate the vast majority of the time. Furcate did not get along with me. I still respected them immensely. They said one word for every thousand the rest of us said and yet they could convey so much in their actions. I keep saying those things, using math like ‘ten times over’, but it’s so very Furcate. They overflowed, they swelled. The cup runneth over. I look back and I’m dazed by how much of a place they found in my heart and my thoughts.

It might be crass to say, but I don’t know if anyone’s going to have words for them. Scritch and Scratch were the closest thing we had to a nemesis. They had their scummy moments. They also kept to the rules. They were killed during one of the lulls in the fighting, by a group I won’t name.

The fates of Tribute, Boundless, Capricorn and Steamwheel are yet unknown. I hope you guys are okay.

I’m alive, obviously. Figurehead is alive but you all should know his issues with being controlled. The events really shook him. He’s retired in large part, he’ll be doing something capey, but he’s said he isn’t coming on PHO. He asked me to wish you all the best.

(Showing Page 1 of 1)

No Replies.

End of Page 1.

Connecting to “pChat.ParahumansOnline.TeamReach(6667)” (Attempt 90)
Resolving Host Name
Using identityCap”
Welcome to Team Reach Private Chat. Forum thread.
[Click here to see messages older than 3 days.]

[Old Message: A16 22:24] Moonsong has joined the chat.
[Old Message: A16 22:53] Moonsong has changed the chat topic: Welcome to Team Reach Private Chat. List of Alive & Dead.
[Old Message: A16 23:20] Moonsong: Post made in the forum. I only mentioned the team members. See topic links for the staff members and others I know about.
[Old Message: A17 1:03] Moonsong: I’ve edited the post to add Scritch and Scratch.
[Old Message: A17 4:15] Moonsong has left the chat.
[Old Message: A17 10:15] Moonsong has joined the chat.
[Old Message: A18 2:01] Moonsong has left the chat.
[Old Message: A18 9:50] Moonsong has joined the chat.

[A18 11:04:20] Cap has joined the chat.
[A18 11:04:25] Cap: hey

[A18 11:06:43] Moonsong: Hi Tristan

[A18 11:06:55] Cap: haha. every time.
[A18 11:07:07] Cap: The universe has a dark sense of humor, it seems.

[A18 11:07:09] Moonsong: I’m glad you’re alive, Tristan
[A18 11:07:12] Moonsong: I suppose it does.

[A18 11:07:30] Cap: i’m glad you’re alive too
[A18 11:07:34] Cap: believe it or not

[A18 11:08:11] Moonsong: Were you there?

[A18 11:08:44] Cap: was dragged into it. glad I was though.

[A18 11:09:01] Moonsong: *nods*
[A18 11:09:01] Moonsong: How is your brother?

[A18 11:09:16] Cap: doing well as can be expected

[A18 11:11:47] Moonsong: And your family? Your parents? I liked them when I saw them.

[A18 11:12:00] Cap: alive. we’re in the city. they’re trying to come to terms with things
[A18 11:12:35] Cap: things are really coming together like crazy. new skyscrapers every day, new stores. good and almost like a city in Earth Bet but it isn’t really home

[A18 11:15:08] Moonsong: It isn’t. We’re in the city too.

[A18 11:16:17] Cap: You and your folks? they’reokay?

[A18 11:17:40] Moonsong: They’re good. Dad is taking a shot at mayor or councilman. We’ll see what happens.

[A18 11:17:59] Cap: good for him. thriving?

[A18 11:22:55] Moonsong: nobody is thriving these days. but he’s in his element

[A18 11:23:24] Cap: some are thriving. we’re all playing nice. truce in full effect. masterminds and chessmasters are having a ball out there. guarantee it

[A18 11:25:31] Moonsong: I suppose we’ll see.

[A18 11:28:40] Cap: I read your post, btw
[A18 11:28:42] Cap: good words
[A18 11:28:45] Cap: kudos

[A18 11:28:50] Moonsong: Thank you.

[A18 11:29:27] Cap: I’m surprised you’re here though
[A18 11:29:35] Cap: is Reach still a thing?

[A18 11:29:56] Moonsong: I consider the others friends and teammates.
[A18 11:30:11] Moonsong: I consider myself a member of Reach

[A18 11:30:33] Cap: I get that
[A18 11:30:35] Cap: doesn’t answer my question
[A18 11:30:40] Cap: will it carry on? what happens?

[A18 11:43:50] Moonsong: It won’t. I don’t think so anyway. There’s a lot of hero teams out there and its hard for a sponsored team to get traction even without people feeling betrayed.

[A18 11:44:02] Cap: yeah

[A18 11:46:14] Moonsong: A lot of teams are gathering under the Wardens. PRT-like. They’re walking a fine line between emulating PRT and being PRT. Lots of teams under the umbrella. I’m not sure it’s working. I don’t know if I want to get on board with that. I don’t know if the others would.

[A18 11:46:23] Cap: that’s fair

[A18 11:47:50] Moonsong: I will always be a member of Reach. Even if the team has dissolved.

[A18 11:48:42] Cap: I like that
[A18 11:48:53] Cap: since when were you so good with words?

[A18 11:50:37] Moonsong: Since when did you pay attention to anyone but yourself?

[A18 11:50:43] Cap:

[A18 11:51:12] Moonsong: ?

[A18 11:52:36] Cap: 45 minutes of something approaching civility has to be a record for us

[A18 11:52:57] Moonsong: I see. Yes. It could be.

[A18 11:53:06] Cap: I would have liked to keep that streak going
[A18 11:53:20] Cap: oh well

[A18 11:54:31] Moonsong: Are you well, Tristan?

[A18 11:55:21] Cap: I see we’re going straight to the barbs

[A18 11:56:32] Moonsong: No barbs. I genuinely want to know.

[A18 11:57:14] Cap: how uncharacteristicaly nice of you

[A18 11:58:23] Moonsong: Do I need to worry about you?

[A18 11:58:45] Cap: no
[A18 11:58:56] Cap: you “helped” more than enough

[A18 12:00:19] Moonsong: I don’t know.

[A18 12:01:08] Cap: don’t you?

[A18 12:02:07] Moonsong: I’ve spent a lot of time hoping you died.

[A18 12:03:34] Cap: WOW
[A18 12:03:58] Cap: geez

[A18 12:04:06] Moonsong: *shrug*

[A18 12:05:27] Cap: geez. there is no humanity in there at all is there?
[A18 12:05:51] Cap: just takes the world to end beforeI get a glimpse of the real you

[A18 12:06:45] Moonsong: Lets not pretend, Tristan.

[A18 12:07:01] Cap: pretend what?
[A18 12:07:42] Cap: you decided you hated me before you ever got to know me
[A18 12:08:37] Cap: you’re really your fathers daughter. two-faced. anyone reading between the lines can see what you really thought about furcate

[A18 12:10:39] Moonsong: I meant what I wrote.

[A18 12:11:47] Cap: a thinly veiled outline of furcates many problems
[A18 12:11:56] Cap: you couldn’t resist saying you didn’t like them

[A18 12:11:23] Moonsong: Are you done?

[A18 12:12:13] Cap: you made furcate more miserable than anyone

[A18 12:12:26] Moonsong: Apparently not

[A18 12:12:29] Cap: you never once tried to understand them just like you never once tried to understand me
[A18 12:13:12] Cap: you had your notions of how everyone was supposed to behave
[A18 12:13:36] Cap: how everyone was supposed to be
[A18 12:13:45] Cap: you know what they call people who come to judgment about people before they have the facts?
[A18 12:14:19] Cap: the label applies, moonsong
[A18 12:14:29] Cap: you wedged yourself into a situation you didn’t understand and you made it so much worse
[A18 12:14:48] Cap: what guts me is you think you were right to do it.

[A18 12:16:39] Moonsong: I didn’t like furcate. I did love and respect him as a teammate.
[A18 12:16:51] Moonsong: I damn well held him at the end. For a long time. I talked to him the entire time.
[A18 12:18:23] Moonsong: Motherfucker.
[A18 12:18:41] Moonsong: I’m crying now.
[A18 12:19:04] Moonsong: And no. I don’t know if I was right, Tristan.

[A18 12:20:08] Cap: moonsong admitting she might be wrong? Did the world end or something?

[A18 12:21:12] Moonsong: Go fuck yourself, Tristan. That wound is too fresh.

[A18 12:22:13] Cap:
[A18 12:22:24] Cap: yeah
[A18 12:22:29] Cap: I’ll own up to that

[A18 12:23:43] Moonsong: You’re admitting you’re wrong? What happened to you in these past few years?

[A18 12:23:50] Cap: not enough. not nearly enough.

[A18 12:24:48] Moonsong: Guess not. What a shame.

[A18 12:25:23] Cap: that wound is fresh in its own way
[A18 12:25:56] Cap: just so you know

[A18 12:26:54] Moonsong: Alright.

[A18 12:27:45] Cap: fuck
[A18 12:28:20] Cap: this is a mess. we should keep our distance

[A18 12:29:17] Moonsong: Do I need to come after you?

[A18 12:30:38] Cap: no
[A18 12:30:57] Cap: fuck you. no
[A18 12:31:40] Cap: what the fuck was that about not thinking you were right?
[A18 12:31:48] Cap: don’t answer that. do me a favor and shut up for a second.
[A18 12:32:00] Cap: ====——====——====——====——====
[A18 12:32:24] Cap: members of reach – don’t scroll up past this line
[A18 12:32:37] Cap: its just moonsong and i being shitty at each other
[A18 12:33:23] Cap: if you joined the team after I left you probably won’t get it
[A18 12:34:44] Cap: Furcate –azúcar- you were one of my favorite
[A18 12:35:17] Cap: those days were some of my best and some of my worst
[A18 12:36:11] Cap: you were some of the best parts of the best days
[A18 12:38:21] Cap: Coif– after everything that happened I thought I might not want to be a hero anymore
[A18 12:39:50] Cap: your example is the only reason I still want to
[A18 12:39:55] Cap: you were one of the good few
[A18 12:40:44] Cap: to the rest who aren’t here— be well
[A18 12:41:09] Cap:
[A18 12:41:41] Cap: I’m better at saying stuff in person.

[A18 12:42:12] Moonsong: I’ll let the others know you said it.

[A18 12:42:18] Cap: Thanks

[A18 12:45:06] Moonsong: Tristan.

[A18 12:46:48] Cap: yeah?

[A18 12:48:41] Moonsong: When I said I was wrong in how I handled things?
[A18 12:49:19] Moonsong: I wonder every day if I should have gone further and killed you.

[A18 12:51:40] Cap: lovely
[A18 12:51:48] Cap: you had to spoil it.
[A18 12:52:06] Cap has disconnected.

Connecting to “4’&{N8\<v%369ZAM”
Resolving Host Name
Using identity3A::u@T_Enki”
No Topic Set

X29V5n: you’re the latino kid?

3A::u@T_Enki: yeah. how does this work?

X29V5n: You into memorabilia then?

3A::u@T_Enki: sure. memorabilia. I miss my old collection

X29V5n: The person who referred you should have explained most of it

3A::u@T_Enki: some

X29V5n: Let’s say you’re into commemorative plates. Plate with a hero or a villian’s face on it. You care a lot about the plate and its delivery

3A::u@T_Enki: sure

X29V5n: We ensure you get the result you want.
X29V5n: Insurance

3A::u@T_Enki: sounds like just what I need

X29V5n: We offer tiers. Different tiers for various degrees of thoroughness.

3A::u@T_Enki: can you give me a quick rundown?

X29V5n: Most basic tier, you throw a few hundred our way, depending on who is involved, who we put forward and who you expect is going to need to hear it, words. We talk, we let them know we’re serious about wanting X, Y & Z. No hassle. We throw our weight around a bit. Yeah?

3A::u@T_Enki: yeah

X29V5n: Maybe you want to ensure that plate ends up in the most ideal condition. A thousand or a few thousand covers a bit of roughing up. Scratch on the face, scuffing, the sort of thing that can be fixed up.

3A::u@T_Enki: can we maybe not talk about commemorative plates? maybe action figures? plates make me think of my abuela

X29V5n: If you want more coverage for your action figures, depending if we’re talking b-lister or a-lister or something bigger, we might be talking upwards of five, ten thou for more severe damage. Ruined leg, arm, the sort of damage to the face that would take an expert to restore.

3A::u@T_Enki: getting pretty steep

X29V5n: We’re talking cape shit. It’s in high demand, limited supply. Prices climb.

3A::u@T_Enki: just observing. is there a higher tier? what’s the highest tier?

X29V5n: Highest tier covers complete and total destruction. Pulling out all the stops. Starts at twenty thou, but I gotta warn you, the sky is the limit.

3A::u@T_Enki: that sounds good

X29V5n: Good.

3A::u@T_Enki: would you be willing to let me pay half upfront? we’d keep you guys in reserve? particulars get complicated

X29V5n: We work with complicated. Yes. That could be workable.
X29V5n: We will need to negotiate pricing. Did they tell you how to send the image of the product?

3A::u@T_Enki: u5zxN8wEXAKpbBeqzvzy.i

X29V5n: Perfect.
X29V5n: No wait.
X29V5n: You got the instructions very wrong, kid.

3A::u@T_Enki: it’s fine

X29V5n: You’re sure? There’s something deeply wrong with this.

3A::u@T_Enki: why don’t we meet for the rest? I’ll send you the first half now
3A::u@T_Enki: there

X29V5n: Alright. Let’s talk meeting places.

Connecting to “pChat.ParahumansOnline.TeamReach(6667)” (Attempt 80)
Resolving Host Name
Using identityCap”
Welcome to Team Reach Private Chat. Forum thread.
Could not load chat archive. Click here to try again.
[A18 22:08:16] Cap has joined the chat.
[A18 22:08:31] Cap: hey

[A18 22:09:43] Tribute: Fuck me

[A18 22:10:51] Moonsong: It’s fine. Don’t stress.

[A18 22:11:22] Cap: hi moo – wish I knew how you did that

[A18 22:12:45] Moonsong: Hi boo. How are you doing?

[A18 22:13:18] Cap: doing okay. just had a very surreal experience talking to a certain kind of professional.

[A18 22:14:20] Moonsong: That’s good to hear, I think.

[A18 22:14:33] Tribute: ?

[A18 22:15:21] Moonsong: Best not to talk about it, though.

[A18 22:16:30] Cap: yeah

[A18 22:17:55] Moonsong: I’ve missed you terribly, boo. We should catch up.

[A18 22:18:18] Cap: I want to
[A18 22:18:30] Cap: I don’t know if we should

[A18 22:19:34] Moonsong: *nods*

[A18 22:19:51] Cap: I just wanted to say hi
[A18 22:20:00] Cap: maybe bye
[A18 22:20:09] Cap: ask you not to come after me or anything

[A18 22:21:58] Moonsong: *nods*
[A18 22:23:10] Moonsong: So long as the professional you hired has it covered.

[A18 22:23:50] Cap: yeah. covered

Previous Chapter                                                                                             Next Chapter

Glow-worm – 0.1

                                                                                                                        Next Chapter

Ward is the second work in the Parahumans series, and reading Worm first is strongly recommended.  A lot of this won’t make sense otherwise and if you do find yourself a fan of the universe, the spoilers in Ward will affect the reading of the other work.

Ward is not recommended for young or sensitive readers.

The Glow-worm chapters were a teaser event leading up to Worm 2.  They aren’t required reading but offer flavor and additional angles by which to view certain characters.  They take the form of forum posts, chat conversations and emails.

They’re best described as a kind of a post-epilogue, pseudo-prologue bridge between the series.  Those who read them on the Worm site shouldn’t feel the need to read them again – they’re included here for convenience’s sake, with a few readability improvements.

If you’re not interested or find this hard to read, click here to jump to chapter 1.

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♦  Topic:  We’re Back Online
In:  Boards ► Parahumans Online
Posted on August 15th, Y1:

To call the efforts of everyone involved heroic would be grossly understating things. This IT project required the efforts of seventy eight PHO staff members, employees of Stateside Online, former officials of the US government, former members of the United States space program, members of international space programs, the Guild (Masamune in particular), and numerous independent experts and volunteers. At a time when we’re all stretched thin and there is an incredible amount of work still to be done, seven hundred and eight individuals devoted spare time and valuable resources to get us and six other partners online.

Things will be clunky and frustrating.  For most, with congestion being what it is, things will be slow enough that people can get a cup of coffee and come back to find the page hasn’t fully loaded.  We’ve stripped away a bit of the polish and the gloss: the header images, badge graphics and the ability to include video or images are gone for now, to keep things simple and easy.  We will be moderating very carefully to ensure nobody disrupts anyone’s ability to access the site.  It will be painful.  Help each other, be patient, and contribute the best you can.

In so many ways, things will be frustrating, slow, and painful.  Care, helpfulness, patience, and contribution will make literal worlds of difference.  In so many ways.

But we’re back.  Stay tuned for bigger, better things.  Bear with us as we sort through it all.

(Showing Page 34 of 34)

►  I♥Lethe
Replied on August 16th, Y1:
@ Dgators – Generally, you want to be careful because you won’t get any updates to OS360 or other PC OSes, no patches to your phone.  There is no tech support and there is little recourse for anyone hit with malware. Plausibly there’s a lot of desperate people out there who see that the defenses are down and we’re in early days.  It’s probably easier for someone to come up with new means of attack than it is for anyone to roll out a proper patch.  Presumably if they wanted to infect systems or get access they would want to do it now when it would probably let them get access to things that follow.

►  KillDestroyKiss (Library)
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
Library project is moving ahead! Plenty of people brought laptops and phones and we’re piecing things together by loading from cache.  It is more zombie net than real net but we’re finding things. There are more coming but people want to delete their search histories before they hand their computers over. Because porn.

Downside is now a lot more people know about the net access at the library. Hours-long wait times Q.Q

►  Point_Me_@_The_Sky
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
I have access through the portal at the east of the city.  When I go through I’ve been doing loops through the old neighborhoods to see what I can scrounge up.  If you need something to fill major gaps I can try looking.  If not, I’m going to see if I can round off my collection.  Would be nice to have a good excuse if I get accused of smuggling or looting tho

►  boaty5
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
what collection?

►  Point_Me_@_The_Sky
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
Any/all of: Masque/Costumes Under Clothes/Heroine/Shine On

►  boaty5
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
fuck that. I regret asking. screw the capes. screw everything about celebrating the capes. they. failed. us.
Site administrators discussed this post.  We’re leaving up the first half as we feel it is important for people to process and address these feelings and sentiments.  We’ve removed the second half (personal insults) and delivered one infraction.

►  Point_Me_@_The_Sky
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
[Edit: removed this myself- I decided I don’t really want to get into this]

►  boaty5
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
just because I’m on a site about capes doesn’t mean I like them.  it means I recognize how important they are to what happened and what happens next

►  KillDestroyKiss (Library)
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
Hm!  @ Point_Me_@_The_Sky – We’re looking to get everything we can recorded digitally.  Would you be okay with letting us scan your collection?  You’re in the city?

►  Point_Me_@_The_Sky
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
100%.  I can bring it to your library.  PM me with location & times good for you.  Information is too important

End of Page.   1, 2, 3, 4, 532, 33, 34

♦  Topic:  [Headline] Refugees Barred Access
In:  Boards ► World News ► Main

Posted on August 17th, Y1:

[Transcribed from print]  Conrad James Freed and his family could tell a harrowing tale of their trip across Earth Bet’s America.  They have finally reached the Northeastern Bet-Gimel portal, hearing rumor of wait times, only to be told there is a possibility they may not be allowed in at all.

They had been driving, hitchhiking and hiking for four months.

“They aren’t giving us answers,” he told Bulletin News on Saturday.

Their family had been trying to subsist on their rural property in Wisconsin when the weather took a turn for the worse.  Though it was June, Conrad says he saw snow falling on the fields where he had planted the first crop of the season.

Two days later, there would be a knock at his door.  Authorities had flown over and saw the lights of his house.  They warned him the snowfall and the groundwater was contaminated.  It would be the last straw, as the unseasonably cold weather had cut into the already thin initial harvest.

Conrad says the authorities wanted him and his family to leave right away.  “They didn’t give us a chance to pack.  One of the men even grabbed my daughter.  He bruised her wrist, he held her so hard.  I promised I would cooperate if he would only give us five minutes.  I was in shock.”

He and his wife decided to make the harrowing trip to the nearest portal without the assistance of authorities, a decision he says he made on the spur of the moment, after the manhandling of his daughter and the manner in which he was forced from his home.  “I came to regret that decision.”

Conrad’s story is far from unique.  Evacuation is still underway even two years and two months after Gold Morning.  Where things took a turn for the worse for Conrad and his family, and where an undisclosed change in policy may affect uncountable refugees from Earth Bet, is that the border agents have apparently ceased processing refugees. 

Tensions are rising and as the number of people in the refugee settlement slowly climbs and resources are stretched thinner, people are speaking out.  Conrad says, “We know there is more than enough space on the other side.  We see people coming and going but they won’t let us through or even meet us to answer our questions.  We’re willing to settle outside of the city.  I know agriculture and I know they desperately need farmers.  Even if they give us a minimum of supplies and tools, it has to be better than this.”

Bulletin News reached out to authorities and received no response.

–Thoughts?  Anyone know what was up?

(Showing Page 19 of 20)

►  K.G. Ray (City: West Point)
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
They’re letting people through again now, and they’re letting a lot through.  Speculation might have been right. Article might have been more about political pressure than anything else.

►  Geronimo
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
Official word is that they wanted to pause and get organized so they could double the number of people coming through. Doesn’t make a lot of sense when it comes to their silence until now.

►  Nakyak (Cape Geek)
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
lots of capes stationed at the portal.
some thinkers like Squint and Danger Zone are there.
pretty sure if you watch how they rotate in and out there will always be one thinker on duty.
screening refugees?

►  Point_Me_@_The_Sky
Replied on August 17th, Y1:
@ Nakyak – could be.  Could be that it means less need for pain in the ass background checks with internet running at 33K.  Danger Zone sees likelihood a person commits violence to each and every person around them, recency, flavor of violence.  Squint sees contraband, possible other hazards.  Skip background check, move people along.

► Boosher
Replied on August 17th, Y1
Speaking of security, there was another thread where someone said something about rock & a hard place?  It’s apparently being talked about a lot among the refugees.

► Nutty
Replied on August 17th, Y1
@ Boosher – This article, search for Nancy Y’s statement.  People traveling across the US to get to portals are being warned about multiple threats.  Word on the capevine is that with everyone having pulled out, all former quarantine zones are breached.  In the US and elsewhere.  Nilbog is the one everyone knows about.  He’s in custody, his children aren’t.  If you’re paying attention to hero groups and their movements, they’re making lots of trips out.  They’re tired and people say they’re aloof.
I say they’re fighting a hard fight and they’re keeping their distance from public and media because they don’t want us to know it.

► boaty5
Replied on August 17th, Y1
they don’t want to tell us a lot of things.  what even happened?  the world ended and nobody is willing to explain.

Replied on August 17th, Y1
@ Boosher – a big part of what was being talked about in other similar articles was the threat of bandits, bad weather, the wasteland and chasms, unstoppable robot armies, the food shortages.  Edit: Nutty beat me to it.  Slow internet sucks.  I think boaty is a good example of why they’re aloof.  People want to assign blame.  Assign the blame to the man who did this.  In times of crisis, look to the people who are helping.  Support them or try to be one of them.

► ✘ [Post removed & user infracted]

► Deepwell5
Replied on August 17th, Y1
I agree for the most part, Point@, but it’s more complicated than that.  I gotta side with boaty.  We made a covenant with the capes.  We put up with a lot.  In exchange, they were supposed to protect us.  It’s pretty clear they didn’t.  Maybe it was impossible.  That’s fine.  But let’s not ignore that they broke their end of the contract.  Let’s not ignore that the PRT is gone, we no longer have non-capes in charge of them, and they have more proportional power than ever.  Let’s not ignore that they’re making a new PRT without any of the key rules that defined the last one.  Less communication, no oversight.

I’m scared.  You should be too.

► DonJon
Replied on August 17th, Y1

End of Page.   1, 2, 3, 4, 518, 19, 20

♦  Private Messages from Glitzglam:

Glitzglam:  u cant engage with them.  u gotta let it lie.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky:  I’m worried what happens if the wrong ideas get traction.
Glitzglam:  So am I.  Im more worried about u.  Thought u might need pep talk.
Glitzglam:  Have u got that email yet?
Glitzglam:  ? ? ?
Point_Me_@_The_Sky:  If this is a pep talk it isn’t a very good one.
Glitzglam:  Thats a no huh?  fuck
Glitzglam:  u right though
Glitzglam:  I hate typing on phone.  Ice cream or coffee.  I pep talk u in person.  When u can fit it into cray schedule
Point_Me_@_The_Sky:  You’re a beautiful person.  Yes.  Sounds nice.  Soon
Glitzglam:  We can talk about how gang is getting together for big shebang and what a disaster it will be.
Point_Me_@_The_Sky:  you’re doing the terrible pep talk thing again. :0
Glitzglam *New Message*:  😮

♦  You have three unread private messages from an Anonymous account.  Click here to read.

Next Chapter

Daybreak – 1.1

Previous Chapter                                                                                             Next Chapter

Ward is the second work in the Parahumans series, and reading Worm first is strongly recommended.  A lot of this won’t make sense otherwise and if you do find yourself a fan of the universe, the spoilers in Ward will affect the reading of the other work.

Ward is not recommended for young or sensitive readers.

It was a second chance for humanity as a whole, and they’d gone and screwed it up from the start by coloring the city gold, of all colors.

The skyline was a half-and-half mix of skyscrapers and buildings in progress.  The latter were skeletons of tall buildings in the process of being filled in and put together, and hazard signs, tarps, the materials that made up the countless cranes and the painted letters on steel girders were all in bright yellows.  The completed skyscrapers were paneled with mirrored or reflective glass that were tinted in that same hue.  All put together, the light that bounced off of the city and reached skyward gave the clouds linings that were gold, not silver.

It was such a fucking shame that it had to be the case, intentional or not.

My phone was buzzing with texts.  I pulled it from my skirt pocket and looked while I walked.

Parental Unit 1:
BBQ tonight with everyone
My house
Can you come?

I glanced around to make sure I wasn’t going to walk into anyone, then stepped off the sidewalk, into a gap between two display windows that bowed out and forward.  In front of me, an assortment of people walked.  People in business clothes walked briskly, while some elderly people meandered.  A whole herd of kids were hurrying off to school.

I typed out my reply.

That’s short notice

Parental Unit 1:
Michael is swinging by
There has been talk of everyone getting together.
It seemed worth trying to arrange
If you can’t come that’s ok I understand

If I didn’t come, would be because of work. New semester & lots to do. Might come very late

Parental Unit 1:
Spur of moment thing that is almost pulled together
Only missing you
Not to guilt you ha ha

Ha ha.  She never liked using shorthand like ‘lol’.

No.  No guilt at all, mom.

Parental Unit 1:
Come if you can
Will save you dessert just in case

My typed reply was interrupted by a crash.  The stride of every person on the sidewalk in front of me and every person on the other side of the street was interrupted, as they stopped, heads turning.

I put the phone away, the message half finished.  The impact had been at the nearest intersection, where a smaller road cut through one of the downtown areas.  I had to push through the bystanders closest to the scene to get there, and I could hear the victim’s wail of distress before I was halfway through.

A car accident.  There were no injuries, and I couldn’t see blood.  Nothing suggested that anyone had died.  Not that anyone would have guessed by the sounds the man was making.

A teenager stood outside her car, the front corner and passenger-side mirror trashed.  She’d hit one of the pillars that lined the street.

An older man was doubled over, but he was on the far side of the pillar, not a location that suggested he could have been hit.  He was elderly, with gray hair that still had color in it.  Two people had already drawn close to him, supporting him while he knelt, rocking slightly in place.  The sound he made was the heartbroken, strained sound that people made when they couldn’t even draw in a full breath.

Such shitty, shitty bad luck, that he’d been here when the collision happened.

‘Pillar’ was the wrong word, but the right word felt wrong.  ‘Monument’ implied something huge, but it was barely taller than I was, maybe three feet across at the base, tapering to two feet across at the top.  Plaques were recessed into three of the four faces – the fourth had come free and fallen after the collision.  Each plaque bore an etching of a face, a name, a date of birth, a date of death, a message.

I looked down the length of the one-lane road.  There were as many pillars as there were trees, and there were a lot of trees, enough that the sunlight that peeked past them was dappled.   This pillar was one of what had to be over a thousand that had been set throughout the city by now, punctuating quaint streets and surrounding parks.  Places that were nice.

They were part of an initiative by an independent cape, a hero turned rogue, helping out.

There could easily be a thousand more of these pillars before the year was over, that number repeated every year thereafter, and if that work continued for another fifty or a hundred years, there wouldn’t be a pillar for one percent of the people we’d lost.  Not even if ‘we’ were just the people who hailed from the northeastern U.S..

The girl who’d been driving the car had a thousand-yard stare as she faced down the small crowd.  She looked like she’d just hit a real person and reality was sinking in.

The wailing stopped.  People were consoling the old man, some shooting hard looks at the girl who didn’t seem to be registering much of anything.

“Hey,” I called out.

She didn’t seem to register that I was talking to her, as she stared at the lower portion of the pillar that had crumbled, stone chunks broken away, cracks webbing across the surface.

“Are you okay?” I asked her.

She nodded, said, “I’m so sorry.”

The old man looked up at her.

People in the crowd were staring, apparently angry on the old man’s behalf.  One hapless teenager and thirty or forty very upset people.

“Listen,” I told her.  “Stay close by, okay?  I’m sure someone in the crowd there is calling for help-”

Someone in the crowd raised a hand to get my attention.  They had a phone to their ear.

“-They’re calling for help.  They’ll be here shortly.  Don’t go anywhere, you can explain what happened, alright?”

That seemed to get through to her.  She nodded again, retreating to her car, apparently to sit in the front seat.  Good.  That was handled.

Until she stopped at the door, turned around, and addressed the old man and the crowd, “I’m really goddamn sorry I broke your thing.”

The grieving man rose to his feet, stepping forward at the same time.  He pulled away from the supporting hands of the people around him, his face contorting.

I stepped in his way, my arm out.  He pushed forward, and I caught him in a half-hug with one arm, stopping him.  He reached out and tried to push me aside, and I caught his arm.

He was a guy, but he was an elderly guy.  It wasn’t much of a contest.  The moment he met resistance, he sagged, and I did what I could to keep him from outright collapsing as he slowly sank to his knees again, sobbing openly.

I took the opportunity to turn him a fraction so he wouldn’t be looking at the girl or the pillar as he knelt there.

In the background, that girl seemed to flounder in shock, useless, not sure what to do with herself in the face of this moment of violent grief.   She looked at me, but I didn’t want to say anything that might agitate the man I was dealing with.  She looked to the crowd, and she saw only angry stares.

I wasn’t sure what she’d seen, if it was a motion from someone, a particular emotion on a particular face, but she found the reason to get moving again, getting into the car, slamming the door behind her.  The man I was holding jumped at the sound.

The man stopped resisting altogether.  It had been a fast enough change in attitude that I had to wonder at what he would have done if I hadn’t intervened.  Shouted in her face?  Grabbed her?  Would he have lashed out and struck the girl?  If he would’ve gone so far as to use violence, would it have been relentless, requiring people to pull him off, or would he have stopped the moment he was interrupted?

I gradually relaxed my hold on him.

The crowd, too, seemed to realize that the situation had mostly de-escalated.  The girl was in her car, the old man wasn’t an apparent danger to himself or others so long as I was here.  That was enough for the assembled group to start breaking up.

I stepped back, hands partially raised in case he started forward again, and to enable me to act if he seemed like he might fall.  I couldn’t just say the pillar would get fixed, or that things would be okay.  The old man hadn’t shed tears for the pillar.

I didn’t want to say ‘sorry’, and echo the kid in the car.

I almost asked if there was anyone I could call.  I stopped myself when I realized the answer could be no.

“How about we get away from here?” I asked, keeping my voice soft.  “We can go grab a coffee or tea, and you and I can talk.”

The man looked at me, as if just now realizing there was a person right next to him.

“It’s got to be better than violence,” I said.

“I don’t – I’m not violent,” he said, sounding very small.

The heads of the crowd turned in reaction to something outside my field of view, and the old man’s head turned as well.

Behind me, it seemed.  A man in costume.  It was a good outfit, too, more in the dollars that had been put into it than in terms of looks, but that was personal opinion.  Partial discs of metal seemed to intersect his body, forming a look where he looked like a blender caught mid-whirl, axe blades and metal rings jutting from his breastplate, armguards, leg armor, and even his face, with blades running along one brow and cheekbone to frame one eye.

There were heavier blades at his hands and feet, such that it looked like he shouldn’t be able to walk or even stand without difficulty.  As it was, he had one end of his long-handled axe resting on the ground, the length of it bowing beneath his weight as he perched on it, one arm outstretched to one side, hand gripping the head.  He was crouching on the thing while it rested at a diagonal, in a way that looked like he’d wipe out if the end of the weapon lost traction on the roadtop.

Fuck me.  Not what we needed right now.

The old man started to stand.  I helped him.

“Can I do anything to help?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” I said.  “Minor accident, we’re just waiting for cops to come and assess things, take numbers.”

I was barely done speaking when someone in the crowd said, “We don’t need you.”

I watched him glance over the small crowd, looking for the person who had spoken.  He kept looking out for the speaker as he told us, “There’s some police on their way.  With all the reconstruction and the lower priority, they’re trying to get through the traffic right now.”

“That’s good to know,” I said.  “Thank you.”

He nodded.  He looked deeply disturbed by the one comment he’d heard.  I caught a glimpse of the emblem on his sleeve.  A badge, not a personal symbol or icon, but part of the team he belonged to.  Advance Guard.  They were a team with an agenda to push.  The world had ended, and they were pushing hard for a better and different tomorrow.

I could respect that.

I could also cringe inwardly at the fact that our superhero here was implicitly sporting a ‘move forward’ ideology when that was the last thing this old man probably wanted to hear with a freshly reopened emotional wound.  Time and place.  Unfortunately, because of the team emblem the cape had on his breast- a stylized figure holding a shield shaped like a greater-than symbol, the guy represented that ideology every time, in every place.

He walked over to the car, still watching the crowd, and he exchanged a few words with the girl in the driver’s seat.  I was glad for that, at least.  I had my hands full with the old guy and nobody else was stepping up to do it.

The cape stepped away from the car, looked at me and the old man.  “He’s okay?”

“The pillar.  It’s for his-” I started, looking at the plate on the pillar for a clue.

“Son.  My son,” the man said.

“My condolences,” the hero said.

The man tensed.  They were words that made it worse, not better, somehow.

Go,” someone in the crowd said.  A different person than the last.  “We’re fine.”

The people that had been splintering away were holding position now.  I could see the hostility.  The summer heat was holding out through the start of September, making things just a little more uncomfortable, tempers a little shorter.

“Yeah,” the hero said, more to himself.

It put me in mind of a scene from the history books and the grainy old news footage of an event from the mid-80s.  Back in the day, when the superheroes could be counted on the fingers of both hands, there had been a riot over a sports match.  The anger and chaos had outweighed the respect the rioters had for the hero that had stepped in.  Someone had struck out with a blunt object and hit the hero.  He’d died before he reached the hospital.  We’d called him the second cape after Scion, but he might well have been the first, after all.

Did I think that would happen here?  No.  Too small a group, the emotions were different, there wasn’t enough chaos.

Still, the general setpieces were here.  The barely restrained emotion.  The lack of care.  The ill-timed intervention of the man in costume.  The lack of respect in particular was in play.  For Vikare, it had been because so many people hadn’t truly believed the powers were real, and he had apparently held back to avoid scaring people.

For this cape from Advance Guard, it was the opposite.  He’d gone all out, we’d gone all out.  Capes still hadn’t been able to stop the world from ending.

We were back at the beginning in so many ways.

“Yeah,” the hero said again.  He seemed to wrestle with what he was going to say next before deciding on, “I’m going to go.”

I wanted there to be people in the crowd who spoke up.  I wanted there to be other things besides this sentiment of hostility and rejection.  For this guy and for all the rest of us.  Were there any people who wanted to say something positive?

Nobody.  Or if there was anyone, they were afraid to speak out against the herd.  I didn’t want to leave it like this.

“Nice response time,” I said.

He turned my way and raised an eyebrow.

“You showed up quick.  It was impressive.”

He nodded, studying me as if trying to find the catch.  “It’s what I do.”

I wanted to say something more, but I didn’t want to push my luck.  It would have been nice if he’d been less dismissive when I was throwing him a bone.

“Take care,” he said.  “Cops are on their way.  I’ll go let them know what’s up.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “You take care too.”

He stepped down from the pole of his battleaxe and set foot on the road.  Pavement splashed as if he’d stepped in a puddle.  More splashed and rippled as he moved his axe in a circle around him.

When he took a step and moved, it was faster than I could track.  I could see the splash that followed behind, a cresting wave that quickly settled, leaving only a faint wavy pattern in the road as it dissipated.

I’d spoken against the herd.  I tried not to pay too much attention to them or give them any excuse to push back against me, instead turning my attention to the old man.

“I’m offering tea or coffee, my treat.  We can talk it out, or talk about something else entirely,” I told him.  “As soon as the police are done.”

He still looked like he was carrying that fresh pain, in expression and posture.  He flinched some as he looked at his son’s memorial pillar.  He gave the girl in the car a hard look, then seemed to let the anger out, sagging.

She was in the driver’s seat, both hands and forehead on the wheel.

“No,” he said.  “You’ll have some place to be.  I shouldn’t keep you more than I have.  I’ll be fine.”

“Work,” I said.  “They wouldn’t fire me, especially if I explained.  I’d get in trouble, maybe, but I wouldn’t mind much.  Job is… a seven out of ten fit.”

“Seventy percent is a lot better than some are getting,” the man said.  “Keep that job.  I’ll manage now.”

I glanced at the girl in the car.  She had barely moved.

“You’ll leave her alone?” I asked.

The old man heaved out a sigh.

“She’s a kid who made a stupid mistake,” I said, in case he was trying to come to a decision.  “You don’t have to forgive her, but you can’t go and hurt her or anything.”

“I wouldn’t have…” he said, and he didn’t finish the sentence.  Because he might have, or because he didn’t know what he wouldn’t have done.

“Yeah,” I said.  “That’s good.”

“Go.  Work.  Don’t let me keep you,” he said.  “I’ll be straight with the police there.”

“I’ll stick around for the cops and then duck out.”

The police cars had appeared at the edge of the block, but with traffic on the narrow road slowed by the girl’s car, they’d stopped there.  The cars couldn’t progress, but the police were getting out.

One officer went to talk to the girl, another to the old man.  I waited around a minute, then gave a statement and my info.

As in most things having to do with law or bureaucracy, it took longer than it should have, for a relatively simple process.  I hurried to the high school once they were done with me, and I arrived rather late.

High school.

We still weren’t at the point where we had nice lawns and yards.  This schoolyard was no exception.  We had grass and fields, yes, but it was coarse and the ground beneath wasn’t usually landscaped.  The area was large with large trees left untouched in the corners, chain link fence separating the field from the roads on two sides, the grade school formed the third boundary to the west, and the high school formed the fourth boundary to the north.  The ground was uneven, more hilly than flat, and there were still large stones here and there, and a seemingly out of place play structure for the grade schoolers.

It was an odd thing.  So often, nature was transplanted into a city, and it was new and inauthentic, made overly neat.  Trees, lawns, flowers.  Here, the nature was rough and unpolished, the city itself new and somewhat artificial in how overly tidy it was, untouched by time or elements.

A sports field in the middle section separated the grade schoolers’ area from the theater.  It was a stage in the old Roman style, slabs of stone set into the ground like stairs, stepping down as they got closer to the stage, where the platform sat.

Hundreds of students had gathered on the stone seats, and more stood around the top edge of the theater, watching and listening.  They were our survivors, our next generation.  Not so different from the crowd I’d had to deflect earlier.  A third of them still wore the very simple clothes that were handed out with supplies in the tent cities.  Some had even taken to strategically ripping and dressing up those clothes.  I didn’t fault them for it.  It was hot.

A speaker carried the voice to those of us on the top edge.

The teachers of the school were on the stage, but they weren’t speaking.  It was a series of community leaders and volunteers instead.

“…And I make that a guarantee to you,” a man in an orange vest was saying. “If you take those credentials, bring good shoes and work clothes, and if you don’t screw around, you can walk into any lot and you can be working within the hour and get your pay by that day’s end.  Good pay.  You can do whatever you want, after school, but you’ll always have this as a fallback, you’ll have the security of being able to walk into a lot and have a job waiting for you.  We can always use more hands.”

Not enough seats at this school either.  High school was and might well continue to be a half-day thing.  The people on the stage were telling the kids their other options for the other half of the day.

I spotted Gilpatrick on the stage.  He wore a black t-shirt and gray pants with boots, and in the summer heat he was sweating a fair amount.  He had no hair on his head, but he had a five o’clock shadow well before five o’clock, bushy eyebrows and thick hair on thick forearms.  Everyone else looked like they were trying to make their best pitch, in dressing nice and wearing smiles.  Gilpatrick looked like he was trying to scare his prospects away.

Some of the non-prospects were standing around the upper edge, looking down at the new students and the stage.  Most were senior students who’d picked what they’d do with their half-days last year, now waiting to induct the others.  Some were siblings of those seniors, or younger friends.  Others were like me, miscellaneous staff for miscellaneous roles.

I joined them.

“We wondered if you’d bailed,” Jasper said.  He was very much a teenager, with acne, thin chin-hair and black hair that had had product in it, that had turned spiky from sweat.

“Delayed by a car accident.”

“Everyone’s okay?” he asked.

“Yep.”  Insofar as anyone is okay.  “Has Gil done his five pounds of gun thing?  I was kind of looking forward to it, it’s so corny.”

“I think he’s saving it for the deeper explanation later.  He mostly talked about how he was going to make it his objective to make people quit, he isn’t going to pay anyone, job prospects suck, he’s going to make people march in the heat and the cold for miles while carrying unreasonable burdens.  The ‘five pounds’ speech isn’t bad, you know.  It gets through to the kids,” Jasper said.  For all that he was defending the speech, he smirked a bit.

“It gets through to most,” Cubs said.  He was a big guy, tall, broad-shouldered, fit, with his hair cut short.  He thought for a second and then amended his statement, “some.”

“Us,” Jasper said.

“Guess so, yeah,” Cubs said.

I didn’t miss the glance he shot at the girl at the far end of our little sub-group.  Cami wore an expression I might have termed ‘resting angry face’.  Perpetually pissed.

All three of them, and many other members of the group besides, were dressed in similar shades as Gilpatrick.  Blacks and grays.

“I’m going to duck into my office,” I said.  “I want to check my email and make sure it’s nice and neat if anyone stops in.”

“Only a short bit before we migrate over,” Cubs said. “One more speaker.”

“I’ll let Gilpatrick know you’re there,” Jasper said.  He extended a fist.  I rolled my eyes and instead of tapping it with my own, pushed it away.  Jasper smiled.

My destination wasn’t in the high school, but was across the street.  It was an open building with a partial second floor.  The main floor was hardwood, with mats folded and piled up at the side.  A few more senior students were already there- some were just entering or leaving the showers.  It seemed like a good idea for cooling down, but I didn’t have the time.

I waved at some of the seniors in passing and headed up the stairs.  The stairwell ran up one wall, unbounded by barriers, so it offered a view of everything below.

My office was the closest thing I had to a home, in this world.  It was narrow and long, with a bookshelf at the right wall, a desk, computer and chair.  Some boxes were piled up in the corners.

The bookshelf was my accomplishment.  My fingers ran along the spines of books and other texts.  Many of the works were collections of articles or official documents, bound by hand with a three-hole punch, rings, and patience.

Parahuman science.  University textbooks, old workbooks with notes- not all mine.  There were important articles, copied to plain text and printed out, with a lean toward the sciences, the nuances, the big revelations and reveals.

Official files.  Classification documents.  Then there were the notes for case one, case fifteen, case thirty-two, case fifty-three, case ninety.  The ‘cases’ were the events the PRT had deemed of interest.  Riddles both solved and unsolved.  My collection there was incomplete, but some were official enough to be confidential, and I’d never had that access.  Others were closed, the mystery deemed nonexistent or something to be folded into popular knowledge.

I had other files.  There were names on those files.  Whittler, Bilious, King Crow were some of the many on the shelf I’d deemed ‘independents’.  For teams, there were ones like the Ambassadors, Green Tea, N.N., Ossuary, Empire Eighty-Eight, and the Clans.  I’d made it a priority to collect those.  I worried we might need them.

On the bottom shelf, I had my magazines.  Costumes Under Clothes, Gleam, Heroines, Masque, Shine On.  Some of the boxes in the corner had my latest haul.  Much of it would be duplicates.  Maybe I’d give some of them out to seniors.

I could still smell a faint mildewy smell, and promised myself I’d identify the source when I had time.  I’d left the window open, and the weather was warm, which was helping.  A lot of this was what I’d salvaged from the office back home; I’d retrieved it from boxes and filing cabinets and hauled it here over a dozen trips.  I’d rigged up tarps to keep the water off that corner of the house, but some of that moisture had been coming up from below.  I would have to find the source of the smell and transcribe the text before throwing it out.

Maybe I could get Gilpatrick to get a kid who needed punishing to do it for me.

Information was too important.  Even if that information was from the glossy, superficial magazines about superheroines that had been pitched to girls just like me eight to ten years ago.

Faint smells aside, I could draw in a deep breath and feel muscles from shoulder to calf relax.  This was more of that seventy percent part of the seventy percent fit where the job suited me.

That thirty percent, though.  I wouldn’t stay here forever.  I hoped.  It had been a thing that I’d hoped would look good on my college applications.  That hadn’t worked.

I could hear the commotion as the mob of kids started coming in downstairs.

I walked over to my computer and booted it up.  It booted up instantly, but the connection to the internet took a while.  I opened a notebook and began searching through it.

I found the name before the internet succeeded in connecting.  I closed the conversation from the day prior and waited for the internet before composing an email.

To: Deferent.I@Mail
Subject: Damaged pillar
I was a bystander when a car crashed into a pillar on Small St, near Basil Ave.  Thought I’d let you know it’s damaged.  Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help or any info I can provide.

Thanks for what you do.

I sent it, then stood, walking to the window.  I didn’t have much of a view- mostly the side of a building and a bit of the alley.  If I stuck my head out the window, I could see a sliver of the school and some of the street.  Students were milling around, some undecided on where they were going.

My computer chimed.

From: Deferent.I@Mail
Subject: Re: Damaged Pillar
I already heard.  Advance Guard were on the scene and let me know.  Will have it fixed tomorrow.  Thanks.

That would be fixed soon then.  I thought the things were an eyesore, really, but people clearly felt like they were important.

I was caught up in checking recent events online when there was a knock on the door.


“Shouldn’t you be handing out guns to kids?” I asked.  “Or giving a hard-assed speech that sends them running?”

“I wish,” he said.  “Can’t give them guns until later.  Give me a week, we’ll see how many of them I can get rid of.  Can you show your face downstairs for me, so they know who to look for?”

“Sure,” I said.  “Let me get organized and I’ll be right there.”

He didn’t step out of the doorway.  His arms remained folded, and he had paper in one of his hands, held where I might not notice it.

“…Actually,” he said.

“No,” I said.  I gave him a stern look.  “No.  Don’t ‘actually’ me.  Please.”

“Do you know anything about Fume Hood?”

I raised one eyebrow, keeping that stern look otherwise in place.  “Fume Hood?  No.”

“She apparently went by another name, a while back.  Poison Apple?”

“Then I do know stuff.  She went by Bad Apple,” I said.  “And a few other Nom De Pommes.  I know some of her story.  She was controversial.”

“She’s a hero now,” he said.  “She’s getting announced as one member of a new team today.”

I nodded slowly, taking that in.  “That could be bad.”

“It’s looking like it will be,” Gilpatrick said.  He revealed the papers.  “Can you brief my seniors?  Fill them in on who she is?”

“That I can do,” I said.  I approached him and took the papers.

He didn’t let go of them.  He opened his mouth.

“No,” I said.

“I’ve got too many new kids,” he said.

“No, Gilpatrick.”

“My hands are full.  I don’t have enough seniors to manage them all.  I don’t want this to be fun or even tolerable and that requires more supervision.”

I let go of the paper, backing up.  “No.”

“I won’t force you,” he said.  “People connected the new heroine Fume Hood to her old persona.  They’re upset.  Enough that they’re hiring people to kick up a fuss, and we don’t know just who or what’s going to happen.”

I thought of the people who’d been in the crowd when the pillar had been hit.  I could picture it.

“Just that they’re hiring people?” I asked.

“From one of the more distant settlements.  Police know and are taking precautions, hero teams have been notified, but it’s messy.”

“Messy how?” I asked.

“Jurisdictions.  Our apple heroine is on a new team, announcing themselves in a new jurisdiction…”

“…It makes them look bad if they accept outside help or have other teams elbowing in on their big first day.”

“Something like that,” he said.  “Apple girl is getting a lot of serious hate thrown her way online.  If you can tell us anything about how she might react to this situation, or anything else, that’d help.”

“That I can do.”

He went on, “And if you could captain a squad of some new guys I’ve got from another school, let me know if they’re decent and trustworthy, and just do a bit of standing guard, giving advice and information to the officers at the scene, it would be a massive help.”

I gave Gilpatrick my best angry glare, hands on my hips.

“I won’t force you,” he said.  “Superiors are pressuring me to handle this.  If you say no then I’ll figure something else out.”

“You know I’m taking it easy with all this stuff.  I told you on day one I wouldn’t be one of your patrolers.  I’m only here to dispense some advice.”

“Yeah,” he said.

“I’m not frontline.  I can’t be frontline.”

“You’re a natural leader,” he said.

I shook my head.

“I really didn’t want to use Jasper.  He was joking about my speech, so I’m going to make him deliver it to the recruits,” he said.

I smiled, despite myself.  That would be partially my fault, for reminding Jasper.

“Can you do the briefing, at least?” Gilpatrick asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  I dropped my hands from my hips. “She really called herself Fume Hood?”

“Yeah,” Gilpatrick said.  “I don’t take many of the names seriously.  This doesn’t seem much worse.”

“It’s really terrible,” I said.  “A heroine calling herself a hood?  As in a gangster?”

“I think she has an actual hood as part of her costume.”

“I really hope so,” I said.  I sighed and looked at my shelves.  “Give me a second to review files?  I’ll be right downstairs.”

“Just one second,” he said.  “I’m going to have Jasper start with the recruits.  Try to be done before I send them scurrying off.”

I checked the papers.  Forum transcripts, some intercepted emails, some notes on Fume Hood.

I had a folder on my shelf.  Notes from home.  She was from Boston, among other places.  Itinerant.

There were a lot of newspaper articles.  She’d drawn a lot of attention once.  Everyone was supposed to be getting a second chance, and it seemed that people’s memories were long enough that she wasn’t necessarily getting hers.

I gathered everything together, and I headed downstairs.

Jasper was in front of an assembly of roughly a hundred kids.  Boys and girls.  Not all were ninth graders, new to high school.  Some would be refugees, their educations interrupted by the rather massive inconvenience of the world ending.

“…mostly long treks into the middle of nowhere to deliver supplies or check on things.  If we’re lucky, we get a car.  It’s not glamorous.  Seriously.  Run away,” he was saying.  He spotted me coming down the stairs, and a smile crossed his face.  “Once you’ve been with us for two years, you get one of these embarrassments and you have to be seen in public with them-”

He held up a gun with slide back and magazine removed, a bright red bike lock threaded through the bottom of the gun and out the top.

Jasper went on, “And you’ll be expected to clean it as well as the gun you use on the range.  You’ll have to treat it like a real, loaded gun.  That means you pretend it’s loaded, you don’t aim it at anything or anyone you wouldn’t want to destroy, you never leave it unattended, and so on.  We’ll drill it into your skull and frankly, we’re really hoping you make a mistake so we can kick you to the curb.”

The other senior students were dressed in their uniforms now.  Black clothes with some body armor worn over them, and the body armor was recognizable.  In places, flakes of the letters and symbols that had once been stenciled onto the armor panels in white were still visible, having survived the steel wool and turpentine scrub.  PRT issue, salvaged.

When they’d been trying to figure out what to do with the high school kids when there weren’t enough schools and seats for all of them, some idiot in the administration had come up with this.  Some teenagers could go help on farms, some could get trained in construction, some would work, the ones who could keep their grades up enough could take afternoon classes too, and so on.  There were sports teams and clubs.  Finally, there was the patrol group.  Us.

Maybe it wasn’t fair to blame it on an idiot in charge.  Maybe it was inevitable.  Some wanted to feel like they had power, when the capes had dropped the ball.  Some wanted answers.  We talked and ran errands pertaining to power stuff.  Some of the kids might go on to police, investigate, or study the power stuff, as more informed police officers.  Possibly.

This was the thirty percent I didn’t like.  The question mark.  The places this could lead, theoretically.  Places we were already starting to edge toward, slowly but surely.

“Less than five pounds of gun, if you even have a gun,” Jasper said, holding up the gun with the bike lock threaded through it.  He caught my eye as he said it and he had a gleam in his eye.  “Fifteen pounds of armor.  It’ll be twenty-five pounds of armor if you’re with us for the long haul.  These backpacks?  They’re heavy.  They’re miserable.  Twenty-five pounds strapped to you.  Food, water, first aid, tools.”

He holstered his gun and lifted up the bag with two hands, grunting a bit.

“Pay attention to those ratios.  Twenty-five pounds of stuff to support and help…”

He dropped the bag and gave it a pat.

“…A good bit of protection…”

He rapped knuckles against the armor he wore on his chest.

“…And possibly a bit of offense.”

He tapped the gun where it was in its holster, the bike lock draped down and resting against his leg

Gilpatrick stepped up beside Jasper.  “Good.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Students, if you’ll turn around to see the young lady on the stairs…”

The students did.

“…She’s our resident cape expert.  If you’re sticking with us here in patrol block, if her door is open, you can go ask her questions.  She knows her stuff.  If you’re not sticking with us and her door is open, you can go ask her questions and we’ll let you cut to the head of the line.  You’ll find her office upstairs and to the left.”

I hadn’t heard that part before.  Priority to people who weren’t part of the club.  I smiled.

We had more kids than we wanted or could use, even though we didn’t pay any wages until they’d been with us at least a year, and we did everything we could to keep them miserable.  Powers were compelling.  Too many had reasons for wanting to be here.

An unfortunate share of the students were here because they were angry.  Because the patrol block had been started up by some ex-PRT folk and Gilpatrick’s speech aside, a lot of people looked at the armor, looked at the guns, looked at how we touched on the power stuff and the portals, and connected the dots.

“You want to go brief my seniors?” he asked me, from the far end of the room, over the heads of hundreds of new students.

I gave him a mock salute, then finished descending the stairs, joining the seniors while he resumed outlining things for the new kids.  I motioned to the door, indicating for the group to follow.

A few of them were new, Gilpatrick had said.  I didn’t like how angry or naturally resentful some of them looked.  Cami was among them.

“New team is having its grand unveiling at one of the community centers,” I said.  “One member is Fume Hood.  She was a B-list villain, once upon a time.  She’s what we term itinerant.  Wandered from city to city, looking for opportunities or teams to join.  Petty robbery, grand larceny, mischief, vandalism, criminal mercenary work.  A lot of the time she was one of the low-rate hangers-on in a group that a bigger villain would hire to pull a bigger job.  You could even call her a professional distraction.  She started when she was sixteen, stopped at twenty-four or so.  She’d be twenty-nine now.”

They were listening intently, even the new guys.  That was good.

“As a villain, she went by Bad Apple, Poison Apple, Pomme De Sang, probably called herself Applesauce, I don’t even know.  I guess she wanted to corner the market on apple-related names so nobody would have something similar.  She spent a lot of time palling around with a biotinker called Blasto.  She kept going back to him to pair up.  Might have been boyfriend-girlfriend, even.  That ended when the Slaughterhouse Nine passed through Boston.  We don’t know what happened to Blasto, but we can guess it wasn’t good.  Poison Apple got a little reckless after that, even though she hadn’t met up with him in over a year at that point.”

I opened my folder and found one of the articles.  I laid it against the front of the folder and held it out so they could read it.

“She pulled together a group of some old teammates and new teenage villains and pulled a shopping spree, hit a mall and took what they wanted.  Heroes showed up, they ran.”

“Miscarriage,” one of the new people in the group said, reading from the article.

“Poison Apple makes globes in her hands.  One of the tricks she can pull with them is send them flying off in straight lines.  They explode on contact with hard surfaces, just enough oomph to knock you to the ground, and they create clouds of gas or splashes of liquid poison.  Usually enough to make you nauseous, a little bit feeble, more if you touch the poison in its liquid form.  Nonlethal and mostly nonviolent, most of the time.  Except this time, a pregnant lady was caught in the gas, or in the explosion.  She lost her baby, and it became a thing in the media.  Poison Apple turned herself in, partially because of the backlash she’d generated.  She was serving time for pled down charges of assault and battery when Gold Morning came around,” I said.

A couple of the angry faces in the group looked a little angrier.

“She did her time,” I said.  “She made a mistake, she paid for it as much as she was able.  We don’t have enough good jails and so she’s free, and it looks like she’s trying to do good.  That’s pretty decent, really.  She’s not the enemy here.”

“Isn’t she?” someone asked.  Their name might have been James.  They’d been around last year.

“The threat is the people targeting her.  They’ve recruited help.  We don’t know how much, but the intel Gilpatrick gave me said money changed hands.  You guys know the basics when it comes to capes, you can inform the cops if something comes up, you know her story, and you’ll be a few more people in uniform keeping the peace and giving protesters a little more reason to hang back.  If it gets bad, any real danger, you back off.”

There were a few nods.

There were also a few looks on a handful of faces that made me concerned.  Too heated, or too cold.  They weren’t the majority, but I wasn’t sure the majority was on Fume Hood’s side, either.

It put me in mind of the crowd and the broken pillar.  If it was just this, I might have been able to let it lie.  I could have accepted that the students here were among the angriest and most invested in the grittier side of the cape stuff.  That it was just them.

Except it wasn’t.  The old man, the girl who couldn’t drive, the crowd there and the response to the visiting cape… there was so much emotion bound up in things, I couldn’t trust that this was an isolated thing.

I couldn’t stand by and let this be the new normal, without any opposing voices.  Even if my voice was a badly biased one.

With the climate, both general and even the fact that it was hot and tempers would be short, it would be so easy for us to see another Vikare.

I glanced over my shoulder and through the door.  I saw Gilpatrick with Jasper and the kids.

Damn it, Gilpatrick.

“I’ll come with you,” I decided.  “We’ll do our part to keep people organized and keep the peace.”

What did it say about the state of things, if I was increasingly the voice of restraint and reason?

I turned my attention back to the squad.

“For those of you who’ve just joined us, my name is Victoria Dallon, and I’ll be your squad captain today.”

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