ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the May 5, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] corvi, [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, and [personal profile] rix_scaedu. It also fills the "Emotional First Aid" square in my 5-2-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest, and the "motion sickness" square in my 11-25-14 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"About the Wind"


When the Analyst first began to suspect
a data cluster concerning bridges and superpowers,
she put together some preliminary ideas. Bridges,
it turned out, had been designed to accommodate
vehicles, wind, water, earthquakes, ice, and
even jumpers ... but not superpowers.

Bridges were magnets for supervillains
who wanted to cut off access to a city,
terrify a lot of people at once, play tag
with their archenemy among the girders,
or just strike an impressive pose on the top.

The Analyst worked up a list of structural
and contextual features to be checked
for conflict appeal and durability. Then she
consulted with a variety of soups who had
abilities that might prove useful in assessing
the relationship of bridges to superpowers.

Oklahoma was one of the worst states
in terms of bridge condition -- after
Pennsylvania, Iowa, and South Dakota --
and had a resident soup with Air Powers.

According to SPOON records, Calliope
was currently in Tulsa, so the Analyst
asked her to check out the local bridges.

Conveniently, Calliope's gift allowed her to do
a lot of different things -- she could float on the air
to survey the bridge while using her Windtalking
to narrate her observations as the Analyst
followed along with her vidscreen.

Calliope hovered near the 21st Street Bridge
over the Arkansas River in Tulsa. "This is
a long, flat bridge," she said. "Not much fun
to fly around, but a speedster could run
straight across it. Of course, this is Oklahoma,
so high winds pose a threat even outside of
tornado season -- I'm having to concentrate just
to stay in one place with the air yanking at me."

Just then, a particularly vicious blast made a car swerve,
and the resulting collision started a chain reaction that
sent a handsome white Lexus crashing through the rails.

Calliope swirled a loop of wind around the car
like a cowgirl throwing a lasso around a rogue steer,
careful not to crush or drop it and the man inside.

Then the driver's side door flopped open.

As the man spilled out, Calliope grabbed him
with another gust of wind, but lost her grip
on the vehicle in the process.

"Fuck! I dropped the car!" she said.

"Forget about the car," said the Analyst as she
called for police and ambulance support.
"Focus on the driver. Get him to safety.
The cops can fish the car out of the river
later if they need it for evidence."

"What do I do now?" Calliope said,
still painfully new to the whole superhera thing.

"Pull the man closer until you can touch him.
Then carry him to the riverbank," said the Analyst,
calling up a checklist for first aid after collisions.
"Check to make sure he can breathe all right
and look for bleeding or broken bones."

The driver wore a nice gray suit and
a panicky expression. "Please don't drop me,"
he chanted. "Please don't drop me."

"I'm not going to drop you," Calliope promised
as she wrapped her arms around him.

As soon as she put him down on the ground,
he fell to his hands and knees, retching miserably.

The Analyst opened a new tab about
first aid for nausea. "Support him
and keep him from choking," she said.
"Remind him that he's safe and stationary."

"We're safe on the riverbank," Calliope said,
holding one arm around his heaving chest
as the man shuddered in her grasp. "Here,
feel the ground underneath us. It's not moving.
Just the fluid inside your ears is still sloshing."

"Any obvious injuries from the accident?"
the Analyst asked.

"I can't find any," Calliope said.
"I think he's just shaken up."

"Carsick," the man gasped.

"Yeah, anybody would be after a ride
like that," said Calliope. "Sometimes
riding the wind makes me sick too."

"Really?" he said.

"Really," she said. "I'm Calliope.
What's your name?"

"Walter," he said, "Robinson,"
trying not to throw up again.

So this was the fellow behind so much
of Tulsa's new business development.
Maybe they could talk him into helping
fund a project to super-proof the bridges.

"If you have any carsick meds in your
first aid kit, keep them to yourself,"
the Analyst murmured to Calliope.
"EMTs are on the way and they will
appreciate a clean field for medication.
What do you have in emergency candy?"

"Ginger chews," said Calliope.

"Jackpot!" said the Analyst. "He can
have those as soon as he stops heaving."

Fortunately that didn't take long,
and Calliope handed over the candy.

"Bless you, darling," said Walter.
"I'm afraid mine went down
with my glove compartment.
Oh God, my new car ..."

"That's an awful thing to happen,"
Calliope agreed as she helped him
settle into a more comfortable position.
"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Need to call my insurance agent,"
said Walter. He groped at his pockets
but came up empty. "Phone's gone too."

"Do you remember the number, Walter?
Your agent's name, or even the company?"
Calliope said as she patted his shoulder.

Walter gave her a name, and she
relayed that to the Analyst, who
called the insurance company
and reported the accident.

Having covered the physical aspects,
the Analyst switched to emotional first aid,
reading tips to the novice superhera.

"How do you feel?" Calliope asked her charge.

"Like a leaf on the wind, blown off course
and out of control, with no way to recover,"
Walter said. He shivered under her touch.

"That's the thing about the wind," said Calliope.
"You can complain about it, or wish for it to change,
and that won't accomplish anything. All you can
really do is adjust your sails." She huffed a laugh.
"It sure blew me off course, too, when
my powers first manifested."

"Think I'm grateful for them now, though,"
Walter said, patting her hand.

"It's all part of my job," said Calliope.
"I'm still ... trying to get the hang of it."

"Thank you," said Walter. His hands shook
as he fumbled a business card out of his suitcoat.
"If you ever need business financing, look me up."

"Yay," the Analyst said softly.

Sirens dopplered to a halt beside them,
one police car and an ambulance
pulling up on the riverbank while others
continued over the bridge to the pileup.

Walter insisted on wobbling over
to the ambulance on his own two feet,
where the EMTs took charge of him.

Calliope gave her report to the policemen,
trying to hold her focus and not get
lost in the swirl of disturbed air
or her increasingly woozy body.

"You did a good job here today,"
the senior officer said. "Probably
you saved that man's life, so thanks."

"Welcome," Calliope managed.

"You should get yourself some water
and whatever flight food you have,"
the Analyst said. "Adrenaline crash
will bring you right down on your nose
if you don't take care of yourself."

"I'm out," Calliope said, fingering
the empty pocket where she had
kept her Honey Crumbs.

"Ask if the nice officers have
any trail food," said the Analyst.

Someone did, and the extra fuel
helped Calliope settle her body
after the exertion of the rescue.

The police stayed with her and chatted
until the accident scene was all cleaned up
and Calliope could head back to her room.

The Analyst logged all the reports from the event,
including a note to keep an eye on later additions
from the Tulsa emergency services.

She started a new file on superhero interventions
into ordinary events that happened on bridges.

Then she tidied up and went home for the day.

* * *

Notes:

Calliope (Calvin Sanna) -- Calliope comes from Oklahoma; the father's family is Greek-American, while the mother's family is American. Calliope has light olive skin with gray eyes and short hair in shades of lighter and darker blond. Cal is demiromantic demisexual.
Origin: Sucked into a tornado.
Uniform: Feminine-styled costume of dexflan and capery in dusty shades of pink, blue, lavender, and cream.
Qualities: Good (+2) Consideration, Good (+2) Flexible, Good (+2) Handiwork, Good (+2) Listener, Good (+2) Word Puzzles
Poor (-2) Distractible
Powers: Expert (+4) Air Powers (meta-power including Flight, Phasing, Sonic Blast, Tornado Straws, Whirlwind, Windtalking), Average (0) Empathy, Average (0) Shapeshifting
Vulnerability: Air Powers are opposed by Earth Powers. Some Air abilities do not work on an Earth-powered opponent, and vice versa, typically those meant to affect a person directly. Others gain an upshift on damage, typically attacks.
Limitation: So far the Shapeshifting only works to switch between Calvin and Calliope. As the power improves, additional shapes may be gained.
Motivation: Self-discovery.

The Analyst (Josephine Turner) -- She is average height and full-figured. She keeps her blonde hair cut short for convenience. Her father is a policeman; her mother is a librarian. Her childhood role model was Velma from Scooby-Doo, who also could not see without her glasses but did not let that stop her from solving mysteries. Now she works for SPOON out of the Westbord base, specializing in the analysis of incidents involving superpowers. She uses her skills as much for pleasure as business, enjoying such things as brainteasers and puzzles.
Origin: Her powers grew in slowly over time.
Uniform: She dresses in a version of the Westbord SPOON uniform: a brown shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in gold on the chest pocket. Hers has lots of pockets in her pants and vest, plus a toolbelt.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Deduction, Expert (+4) Know-It-All, Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Friends on the Force
Poor (-2) Runner
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Gizmology, Expert (+4) Super-Intellect
Expert (+4) Spic-n-Spanner: a portable super-gizmo with a vast array of scanning and analytical equipment.
Good (+2) Utility Belt: a compact way to carry many ordinary tools and small super-gizmos, thus ensuring she usually has the right tool for the job. Any job.
Vulnerability: Her eyesight is so bad that she is legally blind without her glasses. Her combat glasses have an elastic strap, and her everyday glasses have a jeweled chain, to reduce the chance of losing them.
Motivation: To find out what happened.

Walter Robinson -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair going gray. He has a kind face with ears that stick out, and he looks like someone's goofy uncle. He is married with four sons. He has one brother and two sisters, with a total of three nieces and nephews so far. He is a banker who specializes in financing new businesses in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Qualities: Master (+6) Banker, Expert (+4) Economics, Expert (+4) Family Man, Good (+2) Building Community, Good (+2) Fit for His Age, Good (+2) Goofy Charm, Good (+2) Model Railroad Fan
Poor (-2) Motion Sickness

* * *

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
-- William Arthur Ward

Bridges can be dangerous due to wind, water, and other reasons. In local-America, 18% of Oklahoma's bridges are structurally deficient, compared to 10% nationally. In Terramagne, the numbers are less than half that, and typically the deficient ones are either under repair or closed until they can be repaired. Multihazard bridge design accounts for many factors, but superpowers are a new hazard which postdates the construction of most bridges. People are just starting to pay serious attention to the effects of superpowers on civil engineering.

Entertainment tropes include Dropped a Bridge on Him and Broken Bridge, so you can see the point about them being a trouble magnet, even though "fighting on a bridge" doesn't have a page of its own.

Oklahoma has some of the windiest cities in the country, and is an ideal state for wind power. This is less convenient if you are windriding.

See the 21st Street Bridge over Arkansas River in Tulsa.

The Lexus Executive Car appears in various models across mid-size and full-size luxury cars.

It helps when superheras know, or can reach someone who knows, first aid for accidents, motion sickness, and other issues. Ginger is a good nausea remedy that has little or no interaction with anything else, unlike pharmaceutical treatments for motion sickness.

Acute stress reaction often happens after a traumatic event. With appropriate emotional and psychological first aid, it typically fades after a few days or weeks. Know how to take care of yourself if you experience this.

Adrenaline rush is a natural response to danger, and something you can learn to control, but it takes practice. It's hard to find good instructions for handling the post-danger adrenaline crash, but this bit of BDSM aftercare for tops is helpful.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-21 07:33 pm (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
Yay! It is great to see the Analyst in action.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-08-21 07:58 pm (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
Yes, that's great!

Sometime soon I want to prompt for a poem involving the Analyst and even less action, like solving a mystery without leaving her office. :)

STILL love this!

Date: 2015-08-21 10:09 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Coming back to the story is like visiting with old friends. It's wonderful, cleanly organized and emotionally it's irresistible. I just sigh and get caught up in a conflict where no one is the bad guy, no one dies... and yet the danger is solid and real and well-matched to the hera.

Thanks.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-21 11:18 pm (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a slightly faded picture of a three-legged torbie kitty cat with a lot of rust coloring in her fur (supermodel kitty)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Ooh, I like this! The 'ask the nice officers if they have any trail food' line made me giggle, and you know, Walter ping'd my somebody-decent meter almost from the start. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-31 04:02 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I'll bet the Analyst also has better-than-average awareness of hearing, touch, and smell, and possibly heightened situational awareness as well; many people with impaired vision do, even if they're not legally blind.* It would be interesting to see her in a "Wait Until Dark" situation (perhaps a power outage), where she and the threat character are both in pitch darkness but she knows where things are.

I was afraid Walter was going to be what my partner and I call a Moneyed Person (a well-to-do jerk with a bad case of Entitlement Syndrome), and was greatly relieved when he turned out to be a decent person instead.


* Why yes, I am speaking from personal experience, why do you ask? :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-21 11:39 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Considering two of my stories feature three separate conflicts on bridges, and a couple of non-conflict incidents, yeah...

Bridges are liminal spaces, and humans for whatever reason, are drawn to them. Some of us more so than others, but then we evolved partly on seashores and beaches.

Yes...

Date: 2015-08-22 07:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>Considering two of my stories feature three separate conflicts on bridges, and a couple of non-conflict incidents, yeah...<<

Exactly.

>>Bridges are liminal spaces, and humans for whatever reason, are drawn to them. Some of us more so than others, but then we evolved partly on seashores and beaches.<<

Liminal environments are richer in diversity, therefore have more resources and more hazards. That is naturally attractive. No wonder it draws supervillains -- and, conversely, why superheroes will pose on boundary markers like bridges or high points like skyscrapers. They're doing the same thing that alpha wolves or lions do: surveying their territory for possible threats.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-21 07:19 pm (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
(Not a complaint) I didn't realize that the Analyst was a soup, and I wondered why you weren't using her name. The capital letter should have clued me in.

I like her; I like Calliope; I like Robinson. It's nice to have a story with no villainy and no serious injury or loss. Robinson will have to replace the Lexus, but he can afford it.

Calvin / Calliope. Zie is feminine as a soup, but male without the shapeshift? I notice that you use no pronouns for Calvin.

• Oklahoma was one of the five worst states
in terms of bridge condition -- after
Pennsylvania, Iowa, and South Dakota
> That's four.
Edited Date: 2015-08-21 07:22 pm (UTC)

Thoughts

Date: 2015-08-21 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> (Not a complaint) I didn't realize that the Analyst was a soup, and I wondered why you weren't using her name. The capital letter should have clued me in. <<

I'm glad you figured it out eventually.

>>I like her; I like Calliope; I like Robinson.<<

Yay!

>> It's nice to have a story with no villainy and no serious injury or loss. <<

This is actually the most common type of superhero action in Terramagne, rescue work of varying flavors. The cape fights may get more attention, but they're less common.

>>Robinson will have to replace the Lexus, but he can afford it.<<

Happily, it is insured.

>> Calvin / Calliope. Zie is feminine as a soup, but male without the shapeshift? I notice that you use no pronouns for Calvin. <<

Calvin still presents as male and uses masculine pronouns. It's useful to have that option. But Cal prefers being female and has done a lot of work developing Calliope as a fluent presentation.

>> • Oklahoma was one of the five worst states
in terms of bridge condition -- after
Pennsylvania, Iowa, and South Dakota
> That's four. <<

There was another state after Oklahoma. I just took out the "five" because it's too confusing.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-26 03:10 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Really enjoyed this one. For some reason, Calliope seems to be particularly good at non-combat superhera-ing, and I really enjoy reading her in that role.
Edited (added detail) Date: 2017-03-26 03:11 am (UTC)

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