ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, to fill the "superpowers" square in my 6-1-15 card for the Relationship Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by EdorFaus. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Checking Out the Library"


Jacqueline Tremblay waddled into the lobby
of the Toronto Public Library. She was
pregnant enough for her bulging belly to make
walking awkward and regular clothes impossible.

Her husband Atka accompanied her,
his hand warm and strong in hers,
their steps perfectly in synch. "I'm
with you all the way," he assured her.

Jacqueline went to the circulation desk
and said, "We'd like to volunteer for
your Human Book program," she said.
"I can't do my regular job while pregnant,
and I am dying of boredom already."

"I can get you some applications,"
the librarian said with a smile.

"No advertising, strictly soup of the day,"
Jacqueline murmured. She let a trademark
feather of frost embellish the silver bell
that sat on the dark wooden desk.
"My nemesis may have withdrawn from
conflict until after I give birth, but nutjobs
might not mind their manners. Safer if
we just drop in here when we can."

"Yes, of course," the librarian said.
"Just tell me your topics for the index,
along with whatever name you'd like to use.
I'm Evie Auginash, and I'll be happy
to help if you need anything."

"My name is Jacqueline. I'm a figure skater
and a superhera with Ice Powers. I can cover
soup pregnancies now, wow am I learning a lot
about that topic. I also know women's studies
and French-Canadian culture," she said.

"I'm a superhero with Fire Powers and Phasing,
a wilderness guide, and a counselor," said Atka.
"Plus I know Inuit and Anishinaabeg culture."

"Okay then," Evie said. "I'll get you listed.
Meanwhile you can 'shelve' yourselves with
the other Human Books." She led them to
a cozy little nook full of waiting volunteers, which
overlooked a cluster of comfortable green chairs
and narrow brown tables flanked by a bank
of tall glass windows at the corner.

Currently the nook held a mountie,
a model, a former sex worker who now
hosted a Quinn's House for vulnerable youth,
and a Tibetan Buddhist monk in his golden robes.

"Do you really think this will help me feel useful
while I can't do my regular work?" Jacqueline
asked her husband as they sat down.

"Only one way to find out," said Atka.
"If this works, we'll come back. If not,
we'll find something else instead."
Then he struck up a conversation
with the mountie about forest work.

Less than ten minutes later, Evie came over
with an excited blonde in tow. "Noémie here
would like to check you out for women's studies,"
the librarian explained, waving them toward
the cluster of interview tables and chairs.

"So I'm doing this paper on how gender
affects different professions, and I'd love
to hear what it's like for you as a superhera
and as a figure skater," Noémie said as they
took their seats. "Is one harder than the other,
or more sexist? What might have made
your jobs easier when you started?"

It was that last question that really caught
Jacqueline's attention. "Funny thing is, I wish
that I'd known how serious a nemesis relationship
can be," she said. "In a weird way, it's almost like
couples ice skating. You can lift each other up,
tear each other down, circle around, or even
cut someone wide open without meaning to. I got
lucky with Contretemps, but not everyone does ..."

As Jacqueline spelled out her thoughts on
the nature of super rivalries, she finally
stopped worrying about how to keep busy.

* * *

Notes:

Evie Auginash -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. Her heritage includes English, Ojibway, Mississauga, and Irish. She works at the Toronto Public Library, among other things helping to manage the Human Book program where people can 'check out' someone to chat with for up to an hour.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Smart, Good (+2) Helpful, Good (+2) Librarian, Good (+2) Vision
Poor (-2) Coping with Loud Noises

Noémie Hase -- She has pale skin, blue eyes, and long wavy blonde hair. Her heritage includes Dutch, German, and Scottish. Noémie is a college student in Toronto. She hopes that studying gender dynamics will reveal ways to help women build successful careers without sacrificing home life or personal happiness.
Qualities: Good (+2) Asking the Right Questions, Good (+2) Bubbly Personality, Good (+2) Making Friends, Good (+2) Snow Sports, Good (+2) Women's Studies Student
Poor (-2) Staying Quiet

* * *

Most jobs are safe to continue while pregnant, especially with reasonable accommodations. However, some jobs are too dangerous, including cape work of most kinds.

Many women get bored with pregnancy by the third trimester. While common, this is not something to ignore, as it can erode mental health -- especially for very active women who feel frustrated by the restrictions of pregnancy. There are tips for mothers and other people to avoid boredom.

A human library is where you can check out people like books. Here is a glimpse of one from the Toronto Public Library.

A nemesis can be an arch-enemy or friendly enemy or any number of other things, but in Terramagne it does tend to be a meaningful relationship in one's life. Relationships come in many types, and they require skills to maintain. One of the interesting things about Terramagne cape culture is simply their tendency to acknowledge these as relationships and deal with them accordingly.

What a mind-bender!

Date: 2016-05-23 03:46 am (UTC)
thnidu: A shield-shaped hunk of watermelon rind, with bits carved away to make 2 staring eyes and a mouth. By bensanaz (melonhead)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
OMG. You *didn't* make them up, they really exist!! And you based your shelf off a real one.

Re: What a mind-bender!

Date: 2016-05-23 04:06 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Oh my gosh, I need to go experience this from both ends. I am such an information-and-words junkie, I got nicknames like walking encyclopedia and boggle queen, and derailed presentations on memory and literature, and it would be SO NICE to have people acknowledging that it is actually a GREAT interaction to hear someone talk about the stuff they know and reflect on what they are still learning.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-23 04:27 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
That's just delightful!

Human library. Brilliant. *huh*

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-23 11:57 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Huh.. hadn't really thought about the whole nemesis relationship dynamic as being that formalised.

Hmm... I may just have to do some serious reconsidering on a few things regarding Imago Hive and The Ring Mistress. Because she's going to have a bee in her bonnet regarding them. I wonder if there's a form to fill in to register as a nemesis? [joke!]
Edited Date: 2016-05-23 11:58 am (UTC)

Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-23 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Huh.. hadn't really thought about the whole nemesis relationship dynamic as being that formalised. <<

It's not exactly formal, but it is important. Now over in the Whispering Sands desert, it has a formal mode, but that's different -- encoded into the language and everything. In Terramagne it's more like, hm, common-law marriage. Doing the thing makes you the thing.

Of course, there are ways to add formalities if you want them. Sharing location -- exchanging tracker jewelry -- is a formal act in T-America because location is protected information. So for instance, Fiddlesticks and Hefty have pips that tell each of them where the other is. Somewhere out there, a nemesis pair have probably done that just so they don't spend 2 hours trying to find each other so they can fight. But they're being quiet about it, whoever they are, which means it might be tacky of me to out them unless they get outed by someone else first.

>> Hmm... I may just have to do some serious reconsidering on a few things regarding Imago Hive and The Ring Mistress. Because she's going to have a bee in her bonnet regarding them. <<

It can be either a one-sided or mutual relationship, just like any other. The fact that she considers them her arch-enemies does not mean they have to reciprocate. In fact, if they know she's brain-damaged, most of them probably won't. She might get Ashley to give her the time of day, because Ashley is more aggressive and also used to living with her own brain weasels.

>> I wonder if there's a form to fill in to register as a nemesis? [joke!] <<

Hmm ... check Kraken. They're military-descended, they like paperwork. Police in some areas do keep track of who hates whom, like they do for gangs, primarily to gauge threat levels of call-ins and to avoid putting people together who would fight. If SPOON has similar records, they are probably just in Granny Whammy's private codebook, not a database. It's not like there's anywhere you can go to register, like you can register a soup mentor, as far as I know. But supervillains are discreet about some of their activities, so it's not necessarily in view if it exists. I will keep an eye out.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-23 07:33 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Point.. I'm not sure how the others would view her, she is a credible threat after all... but Ashley would be grudgingly sympathetic. I mean, she'd still punch her in the face given the chance! But she understands what it's like to live with a wonky brain and she has her own demons, after all, they still don't know what's wrong with her mother and it could be inheritable.... so, Ashley might knock her down, and then pin her down so she can get help. Because The Ring Mistress is not capable of making that decision herself, or so Ashley thinks.

Granted, I'm not sure anyone else would agree with Ashley, but we already know some of her views are non-typical.

So, if allowing The Ring Mistress to believe she's their arch-nemesis, or Ashley's at least, means she keeps coming back, giving Ashley the chance to kick her legs out from under her and drag her back into hospital... she might well go along with it. Ashley might be a nihilist, and aggressively abrasive at times... but she does care. She fights her depression every day, and doesn't believe in letting it win, [although she picks her battles] and she won't let anyone else's brain weasels eat them up from the inside out until there's nothing of them left in their skull.

Also, there's a Russian saying... live long enough and eventually your enemies are as familiar as your friends. [to paraphrase.] I'm sure there's a hero/villain couple out there who've been going at each other long enough that if one of them got sick or seriously hurt the other would help out.
Edited Date: 2016-05-23 07:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-25 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Point.. I'm not sure how the others would view her, she is a credible threat after all... but Ashley would be grudgingly sympathetic. I mean, she'd still punch her in the face given the chance!<<

One can be sympathetic without approving, condoning, or permitting hostile action.

>> But she understands what it's like to live with a wonky brain and she has her own demons, after all, they still don't know what's wrong with her mother and it could be inheritable.... so, Ashley might knock her down, and then pin her down so she can get help. Because The Ring Mistress is not capable of making that decision herself, or so Ashley thinks. <<

That makes sense. Given the amount of brain damage -- not to mention criminal activity -- the Ring Mistress probably meets T-America's standards for involuntary commitment.

>>Granted, I'm not sure anyone else would agree with Ashley, but we already know some of her views are non-typical. <<

Also true.

>> So, if allowing The Ring Mistress to believe she's their arch-nemesis, or Ashley's at least, means she keeps coming back, giving Ashley the chance to kick her legs out from under her and drag her back into hospital... she might well go along with it. <<

LOL kind of like Batman and the Arkham Asylum. Only more constructive.

>>Ashley might be a nihilist, and aggressively abrasive at times... but she does care. She fights her depression every day, and doesn't believe in letting it win, [although she picks her battles] and she won't let anyone else's brain weasels eat them up from the inside out until there's nothing of them left in their skull.<<

Aww.

>> Also, there's a Russian saying... live long enough and eventually your enemies are as familiar as your friends. [to paraphrase.] <<

That's true. There are plenty of frenemies out there.

>> I'm sure there's a hero/villain couple out there who've been going at each other long enough that if one of them got sick or seriously hurt the other would help out. <<

Stalwart Stan/Antimatter is the best example of that, which is how they eventually figured out they were falling in love. Jackie Frost once skated into the side of a truck and Contretemps called his healer for her. Green Man and Backdraft are actually both supervillains, just fraught with unresolved sexual tension and other disputes. But Backdraft routinely covers for Green Man having bad brain days.

In general, the cape community in Terramagne is like a big, fractious family. They might argue over politics a lot, and get into some awful fights, but for the most part they don't want to lose anyone. Most of the disputes are dominance fights about controlling territory or resources, not about trying to cripple or kill people.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-25 11:04 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
They might argue over politics a lot, and get into some awful fights, but for the most part they don't want to lose anyone. Most of the disputes are dominance fights about controlling territory or resources, not about trying to cripple or kill people.

Which is why the actually, totally bug-nuts ones get a Go Home Charle... and possibly why Ilyana is isolated, she doesn't do dominance fights, she just dominates... and the one time she got into a fight with a super-villain [who admittedly was bug nuts] she punched his face through the back of his head and into the wall behind him. [which was justified at the time.]

I'd imagine that's made quite a few people rather leery of her. [those that don't know her, which is most.] If you didn;t have all the information, it would rather look like she's the white cape version of say Haboob or Mandible. No restraints on what she'd do.

You know.. once I've finished Fire on the mountain, I'm going to write a bit from The Ring Mistress's perspective... because she's the one person we haven't heard from so far in that thread.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-26 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Which is why the actually, totally bug-nuts ones get a Go Home Charle... <<

Yes, exactly. There are things the soup community simply won't tolerate. I'm also seeing a slow but promising trend of clusters within the community as a whole, where people with the same or related abilities are developing their own code of honor and cultural expectations particular to that gift. Like how teleporters typically consider it an abuse of their ability to maroon someone in a deadly environment, but they are also sensitive to crimes against teleportation itself -- doing things that make other people distrust it as a means of transit or distrust teleporters in general.

>> and possibly why Ilyana is isolated, she doesn't do dominance fights, she just dominates... <<

That makes sense.

>> and the one time she got into a fight with a super-villain [who admittedly was bug nuts] she punched his face through the back of his head and into the wall behind him. [which was justified at the time.] <<

I love that idea.

>> I'd imagine that's made quite a few people rather leery of her. [those that don't know her, which is most.] <<

This is possible. It's probably more about the level of power and the paucity of connections, though -- Illyana obviously isn't a whackjob because she isn't uncontrolled. She's pretty reserved and doesn't get involved much. So all of her actions are very targeted.

>> If you didn;t have all the information, it would rather look like she's the white cape version of say Haboob or Mandible. No restraints on what she'd do. <<

I doubt that people take it that far, precisely because they have other examples for comparison. Jack Union does whatever his orders say, and he doesn't hesitate to hit people who can't hit back. He's a soldier; that's his job. He's good at it. But most of his brakes are under Her Majesty's dainty foot, not his own.

>> You know.. once I've finished Fire on the mountain, I'm going to write a bit from The Ring Mistress's perspective... because she's the one person we haven't heard from so far in that thread. <<

I like that idea. When I'm writing about people with mental disabilities, I like to get their perspective rather than just talking over them.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-27 01:59 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Thinking about the Ring Mistress, one of the most likely consequences I can think of, of her brush with Ashley, is likely to be seizures. She has brain lesions...it would be a surprise if her neural wiring didn't occasionally freak the f**k out...

That, I can write about. I'm a recovered epileptic. The world suddenly going sideways as your consciousness dissolves like a sugar cube in hot water. That's something I know all too well. I know how even the possibility of it happening affects you constantly.

and I'm very glad it stopped. [my brain blew a fuse or something, but it hasn't happened in nearly thirty years, I'm hoping that means it's permanent.]

The rest of her problems, I can probably extrapolate from experiance.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-27 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Thinking about the Ring Mistress, one of the most likely consequences I can think of, of her brush with Ashley, is likely to be seizures. She has brain lesions...it would be a surprise if her neural wiring didn't occasionally freak the f**k out... <<

I agree, that is a likely result. It has been noted as a rare effect of insect bites/stings. With berettafly venom, "rare" reactions happen a lot more often.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8844507
http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/stinging-insect-allergy

>> That, I can write about. I'm a recovered epileptic. The world suddenly going sideways as your consciousness dissolves like a sugar cube in hot water. That's something I know all too well. I know how even the possibility of it happening affects you constantly. <<

Wow. Please do write about that! I do my best to represent a diverse range of characters and traits, but nothing beats personal experience. If you're comfortable footnoting that connection, I think it's worthwhile to let readers know your source. I use some of my body's quirks to inspire character traits, too.

>> and I'm very glad it stopped. [my brain blew a fuse or something, but it hasn't happened in nearly thirty years, I'm hoping that means it's permanent.] <<

I am glad too! If it's been dormant this long, it is unlikely to recur unless something else jostles it loose again.

>> The rest of her problems, I can probably extrapolate from experiance. <<

That sounds reasonable.

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