ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the May 5, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] chordatesrock and LJ user Starcat_jewel. It also fills the "Asked to publically support cause X -- on camera" space on my Superhero Bingo Card. This poem has been sponsored by LJ user Starcat_jewel. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

WARNING: This poem contains some intense topics. The warnings include spoilers; highlight to read. There is peer pressure, quite a lot of foul language, misogyny, misandry, accidental gunshot injury, messy medical details, ideological angst over saving someone who turned out to be a bad guy, poor responses to a supervillain, robbery, justified but rudely phrased browbeating of a minion, and other mayhem. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"A Cultural Control Problem"


"Just go to the show," Primer urged.
"You don't have to buy anything
unless you see something you like."

"I don't like firearms," Fortressa said.
"That makes it statistically unlikely
that I'll find anything at a gun show."

"But what if you need to shoot a gas tank?"
Primer argued, and all right, Fortressa
could imagine situations like that.

"Fine," said Fortressa, "but if this
goes badly, you are in the doghouse."

"I'll take a piece of that action,"
said Primer. "What do I get if you
come home with a cute gun?"

"You can redo the camo on my jeep in
pink temp paint, and I'll drive it that way
until the next rain washes it off," Fortressa said.

"Deal," said Primer, and they shook on it.

The gun show was not Fortressa's idea
of a good time. It was not only full of gun nuts
but also Jesus freaks, men's rights activists, and
every other kind of asshole she could think of.

She was grimly certain that the only reason
nobody had grabbed her ass was because
the battlesuit covered it completely.

Or maybe they just realized that anyone
who tried it would get his arm broken.

"What would you recommend for
women's self-defense?" Fortressa asked
one of the gun dealers, trying to ignore
the boobplate bulletproof vests.

"Try this," he encouraged.

Fortressa picked up the ridiculous pink pistol,
looked at it, shook her head, and then
put it back down again.

"This place has a serious
cultural control problem," she said.

Could they not see how she was dressed?

Inside of half an hour, Fortressa was
overlooked in favor of male buyers,
bingoed on the superhera card,
("Sorry, I'm not a superhera.")
offered four more pastel pistols,
bingoed on the lesbian card,
("Sorry, I'm not a lesbian.")
and pestered to sign a petition
to reinstate paternal rights for rapists.

Not particularly wanting to start a stampede
by assaulting the dickhead with the clipboard,
Fortressa satisfied herself by lighting it
on fire in a garbage can instead.

Grumbling, Fortressa stalked away.
Within her helmet, the heads-up display
scrolled through Hollaback posts that
informed her of better ways she
could be spending her afternoon.

Ah, there was a row of food vendors --
maybe she could at least get lunch
before bailing out of here.

Suddenly a shot rang out.

Fortressa whirled, already in
battle mode, her suit responding
smoothly to the emergency.

The HUD showed her a man
curled up on the floor,
bleeding profusely from
the back of his left thigh.

No active shooters appeared
on the display, however.
Evidently he had shot himself.

Fortressa crouched beside him,
already calling emergency services.

She narrated the victim and his injuries
to the dispatcher, even as she placed
one gauntlet over the pressure point
to shut off the spurting blood and
the other directly over the exit wound.

A hidden nozzle squirted skin glue
into the gaping hole. Fortressa hadn't
been able to source the good stuff yet,
but even the cheap kind would help
slow the scarlet spill that was getting
all over the floor and her suit too.

It was only when the EMTs arrived
to thank her for her quick work
and take charge of the casualty
that the man uncurled enough
so Fortressa could see his face.

Well sonofabitch shit.

Just like that, she had enough
of this place, and headed for the door.

Naturally some jackass with a camera crew
had to wave a microphone at her helmet and
demand, "So, has this unfortunate mishap
eroded your faith in the Second Amendment,
or do you still support the American way?"

"Are you out of your fucking mind?"
Fortressa snapped. "A guy just
shot himself in the crotch, he really
could have died, and you want me
to support that kind of weaponry?
Firearms are erratic and dangerous!
If you're after defense, then do yourself
a favor, and buy a goddamn forcefield."

She shoved him out of the way and stormed off.

He tried to follow her, only to be
interrupted by one of his coworkers.
"Sanford," the camerawoman hissed,
"that's Fortressa. She's not a superhera.
She is a supervillain. Don't piss her off!"

Fortressa made it outside and fired her jets
without even a cursory check for clearance.
If anyone was crowding her now, then
he deserved to get a few blisters.

The flight home was annoying.

When Fortressa tried to stop for fast food,
the teenybopper at the drive-through
screamed and slammed the window.

"Fuck it," the supervillain said,
and robbed a convenience store instead.
By the time she got home, she was
in a spectacularly bad mood.

Fortressa stalked into the garage
and pointed one armored finger at Primer.
"You are in the doghouse, bitch!" she said.
"I have blood all the fuck over my hardware,
and it is your fault. Socket, get this rig off me.
The rest of you, set up the cleaning station.
Primer is going to detail the battlesuit."

"Busted," Actuator sang softly.

"What happened?" Socket asked
as she started extracting Fortressa
from the filthy battlesuit.

"The gun show was stupid. It was
full of assholes and shitty equipment,"
Fortressa complained. "I swear, I'm sticking
with zap guns like a sensible person!"

"I'm listening," Socket said.

"Then I heard gunfire, turned around, and
saw that some idiot had just shot himself
in the crotch," said Fortressa. "So I used
the suit's first aid kit to stop the bleeding."

"Okay, and that bothers you because..."
Socket said, lifting away the chestplate.

"Remember that fork who ambushed
Cold Cash a while back?" Fortressa said.

"Officer R. Andrew Tanner, Jr.,"
Socket said. She picked up a wrench.
"What does he have to do with this?"

"It was him," Fortressa said. "I just
saved an absolute sexist pig."

"So he's still alive?" Joint said,
tugging at her Meat Mechanic t-shirt.
"That's kind of an accomplishment."

"If you believe in saving everyone,
even the douchenozzles," Fortressa grumbled.
"I am really not cut out to be a superhera."

"No wonder you're so smoked
at Primer," said Socket.
"Step out now."

"I feel like I need several baths."

"Sure, we can do that," Socket said.
"Since I'm not on cleaning duty,
let's go on upstairs and make
a ridiculous amount of bubble bath.
I'll scrub your back for you."

Fortressa thought longingly of her
Deep Sleep Comforting Milk Bath Float
with its serene blend of chamomile and coconut.

"I feel better already," she said.

* * *

Notes:

Primer (Rae Lyn Robertson) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy brown hair to her shoulders. She often gets into trouble by overlooking danger signs. Her superpower allows her to stick things together or peel them apart.
Origin: Her father worked in a car factory using the paint sprayers. An accident with the new "washless" paint left him with dermal scars and DNA damage -- the latter of which he didn't realize until his daughter was born with superpowers.
Uniform: Street clothes. She likes bold color combinations such as black and blue.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gunplay, Good (+2) Painter, Good (+2) Persuasive, Good (+2) Sassy
Poor (-2) Risk Assessment
Powers: Average (0) Adhesion
Motivation: To color outside the lines.

Sanford Ackerstein -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and brown hair. He is short and a little pudgy, with a round face. Sanford is always chasing after one news story or another, and he works across a variety of media. He does not know when to stop or let go of anything.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Journalist, Good (+2) Network of Tipsters, Good (+2) Persistent, Good (+2) Right-Wing Friends
Poor (-2) No Brakes

Actuator (Bree Miller) -- She has fair skin with extensive freckles, sherry-brown eyes, and straight auburn hair to her shoulders. She loves playing pranks and teasing people about things that go wrong. She is bisexual and has a lot of wild flings, but little interest in long-term relationships. Fortressa has to keep repeating, "Don't bring your one-night-stands back to a secret lair so you can bang them over the battlesuit."
Origin: She learned about engines from her grandfather and grew up working on cars with him. As a tween, an accident with a car battery activated her superpowers.
Uniform: Street clothes. She likes neutral colors.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Mischief, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Working with Engines
Poor (-2) Tempestuous Love Affairs
Powers: Average (0) Electrical Control
Motivation: To make the sparks fly.

Joint (Joan Summerlin) -- She has fair skin, green eyes, and short brown hair often covered with a bandana. Her parents sent her to college in a premed program, but she always had more interest in mechanical hobbies. T-American colleges often offer premed majors and minors that can be customized to suit many different careers such as paramedic, nurse, or veterinarian; although the minors and 2-year programs are more aimed at basic jobs, while the majors and 4-year programs are intended for more advanced professions. Joint didn't stay in college long enough to decide more than "I fucking hate this" and dropped out when Fortressa offered her a job as a mechanic. Since Joint is the only person in the Pit Group with real medical training, however, she still gets stuck as the meat mechanic too.
Origin: Her power grew in slowly during her late teens.
Uniform: Street clothes. She favors earth tones.
Qualities: Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) First Aid, Good (+2) Household Skills, Good (+2) Mechanic
Poor (-2) Disappointment to Her Family
Powers: Average (0) Healing
Motivation: To do as much mechanical work as possible, and as little medical work as possible.

* * *

"It's not a gun control problem; it's a cultural control problem."
-- Bob Barr

Primer
A small metal cup that contains a tiny explosive charge that is sensitive to impact. A primer is placed in the base of a shell casing to ignite the powder of the completed cartridge. It is detonated by the striking of a firing pin in the firearm.
-- Gun Dictionary
http://www.boomershoot.org/general/gundict.htm
The first coat of paint applied to a substrate, designed to provide adhesion and corrosion resistance.
-- Automotive Paint Dictionary

Shoot the Fuel Tank is an action/adventure trope.

Tempera paint is used for temporary decoration of vehicles. You can buy it in liquid or powder form.

Gun shows often have problems, such as someone shooting himself. Terramagne-America has fewer of these than local-America does, but they still happen.

"Jesus freak" is a rude term for ostentatious Christians.

Men's Rights Activists belong to the men's rights movement. They can be pretty obnoxious, especially to women. Some men dislike them too.

Boobplate is a bad idea. It most often appears in plate mail, but also sometimes in modern armor. For comparison, here is a woman in sensible armor.

Pink guns typify the hyperfeminization of products that don't really need to be gendered.
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/10-ridiculous-genderized-products

"Getting bingoed" refers to the repetition of common and annoying remarks, common in childfree and homosexual contexts.

In L-America, rapists often have paternal rights over children resulting from rape they have committed. In T-America, two legal principles preclude paternal rights for rapists:
1) Criminals are not allowed to benefit from their crimes, as applies similarly here.
2) When two people's rights conflict, the one at greater risk and/or the one who has been harmed takes precedence over someone with lesser risk and/or the offender.
MRA nuts often speak out in favor of rape.

Hollaback is a social network aimed at quashing street harassment.

Don't stick your gun down your pants, because you might shoot yourself. Sticking a gun down the front of the pants often results in an entry wound (usually smaller) on the inner thigh with an exit wound (usually larger) on the back of the thigh. Gunshot wounds can do a lot of damage. The human leg contains major blood vessels, important nerves, and large muscles vital for walking. First aid typically requires action to stop heavy bleeding.

Gun control is a contentious debate with arguments pro and con on both sides. Terramagne has gizmotronic and super-gizmotronic weapons in addition to conventional firearms. This makes a majority of people against guns in general, although some folks reject firearms but consider zap guns okay. I myself favor the Second Amendment, but I'm disgusted by the widespread ignorance of gun safety rules.

Detailing means a very deep cleaning.

Actuator
* One that activates, especially a device responsible for actuating a mechanical device, such as one connected to a computer by a sensor link.
* a servomechanism that supplies and transmits a measured amount of energy for the operation of another mechanism or system.
-- The Free Dictionary

Bubble bath can refer to a foamy soap, or a bath taken with lots of suds, usually meant for relaxation. Fortressa is mostly a tomboy, but bubble bath ranks among her girlie indulgences. Check out the Deep Sleep Comforting Milk Bath Float. You can also make your own.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 04:45 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Owww, poor Fortressa! I'm almost sorry that my prompt put her thru that. Here's to a nice hot soaking bath with soothing music, and some comfort food afterwards.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 04:47 am (UTC)
thnidu: Double spiral, spinning out from the empty space at a common center (heyiya-if)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Again, I like the decent behavior of many of your supervillains: Somebody's hurt - give first aid! (Though I'm definitely not crazy about her robbing a convenience store... Although I can understand her frustration.)

• The gun show was not Fortress's idea of a good time.
-> Fortressa's

• "Jesus freak" is a rude term for ostentatious Christians.
> I'm not disagreeing with you, but I associate the term with a subset of those, who aggressively evangelize passersby. Those, I feel, have earned rudeness.
Edited Date: 2015-05-08 04:52 am (UTC)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-05-08 10:17 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
>> Look at the earlier parts of the poem and you can see how she burned through spoons at a rapid rate, resisting the temptation to hit ... basically everyone she talked to.

Yah, I saw that; .•. "I can understand her frustration".

>> This is why more and more people are realizing that treating supervillains with respect when they are not breaking the law that instant produces a lower total damage quotient than picking extra fights -- especially over survival needs like food or a place to sleep.
>>

Would that... Well, T-people, as well as T-societies, are somewhat "better", overall, than L-ditto.

>> That is certainly one type. Another is ... remember the Pharisees? People who make a huge big deal out of their religiousity, instead of praying in private like they were told to do.

2B sure. But I "remember" the Pharisees only indirectly, from learning, while I *remember* the proselytizers from Berkeley and Greenwich Village and Times Square and the Button* and...

* a local campus landmark

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 05:12 am (UTC)
curiosity: The sky turning yellow and orange and sunlight spilling over the ocean as the sun rises. (Picto: Ocean Sunrise)
From: [personal profile] curiosity
It's nice to see Officer Tanner is continuing his winning streak. Why isn't he in jail for the shit he pulled on Cold Cash? Or at least the resulting trashed mall? Fortressa needs a flammen-werfer.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-05-08 06:36 am (UTC)
curiosity: A string of multi-colored holiday lights strung with origami butterflies of different colors. (Picto: Lights and Butterflies)
From: [personal profile] curiosity
Ah, well. What sort of community service could Officer Tanner do that he wouldn't screw up somehow? And would he lose his badge while doing it? Hmmm.

Hmmmmm. . .. . maybe a flammen-werfer that shoots flaming metal balls? Break bones and leave burns? Heh. I can see how breaking bones might be more effective.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-05-14 06:05 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
She doesn't aim to kill. She just wants to beat the shit out of men who abuse women, make them powerless and terrified, sometimes impair their ability to repeat the performance. It's terrorism, really. But then when men rape women to make them afraid to go outdoors or take a job, that's terrorism too. Sauce for the gander.

I'd describe it as a more-physical form of what I call "mirroring", where you do the same obnoxious thing to someone else that they're doing to you, and then when they have a fit they may be more ready to hear you say no. Like the way I broke my mother of going thru my checkbook (when I was in college) by going thru hers.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 09:41 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
One of the things I've noticed about your villains is that they seem to be rather like people I'd like, right up until they enact their plans... and, often their plans are things I half-wish could happen in real life.

Poor Fortressa!

Date: 2015-05-08 01:35 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
She rendered first aid, gets accosted by the /press/, gets refused service at a fast food joint...all after completely running out of cope.

I am a terrible, horrible human being, I think... I've STILL got more sympathy for her than for Tanner; he MADE his own problem, again! Improper handling of firearms is STUPIDITY in action. (And I created the little idjit, so that should REALLY tell you how little I think of his 'survival skills' in any environment.

On the topic of his employment, the PD he used to work for is incredibly, indelibly glad they fired him immediately-- people have been coming out of the woodwork to say things like, "He was not quite rude enough to be /actionably/ bigoted, but I really wished we /could/ have said something officially!" More than abrasive, but not using key words where someone with any power COULD report him.

There ARE plenty of instances of him using the "I'm on duty, may I finish this transaction quickly?" BS to jump lines, which has the department there considering ways to attack that particular behavior which won't penalize the whole police force.

Interestingly, he has probably violated the terms of his particular conditional release before the trial is set. Not because he was out of his home city, but because he has just unlawfully discharged a firearm, with complications due to the number of people in the area, the fact that it's a pistol rather than an energy weapon, et cetera.

When he gets out of the hospital, he IS likely to face extremely stiff consequences because he's already got such heavy charges (especially endangering the public, again!) waiting for him, and it may be decided that it's SAFER for others to make him spend time in jail before the first trial!

Re: Poor Fortressa!

Date: 2015-05-08 05:19 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I can see him /in/ prison, waiting for his trial, and there are constant, niggling little problems if he's anywhere NEAR the rest of the population.

Not because he's a cop, and cop-in-jail-equals-target, but because /he/ keeps provoking verbal arguments.

ACTUAL villains, or henchmen of responsible super-villains, would not only avoid him, they'd counsel anyone THEY think is a worthwhile recruit to NOT engage with him, since it affects THEIR prison record and chances of parole.

Which would, without sticking him in solitary, make him very effectively a pariah within the prison community.

Re: Poor Fortressa!

Date: 2015-05-09 02:53 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
The thing is, he's always BEEN this way. He's just getting progressively LESS concerned about /hiding/ what he considers 'impatience' and others would view as borderline psychosis.

Getting him in jail may be the best chance HE has for turning his life around. But like a lot of horses...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 10:48 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Picture shows a red-winged angel staring at a distant blue star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Poor Fortressa.

Poor everyone in the blast radius, literal and figurative. (Having your convenience store held up with a battlesuit? A real good reason to look for a new job.)

I am probably an awful person, but I cackled aloud when she dropped RAT's name.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 12:27 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
.. oy vey... Primer thought it would be a good idea for her to go to a gun show?! Even I know the damn things are lousy with testosterone poisoning cases. M.R.A's and ammo-sexuals seem to go hand in hand.

As an aside, I figure that gun licences should be treated like driving licences. You have to pass a class in it first, and the licence can be revoked for too many infractions. I also support legally enshrined gun safety laws.

Ok, that doesn't stop people being stupid, look at the number of car accidents, but at least you can prosecute the screw-ups. Banning guns outright doesn't work either. It eliminates the accidental discharges, but doesn't stop criminals getting hold of guns.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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