ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the June 3, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from LJ users Moriwen1 and my_partner_doug. It fills the "betrayal" square in my 5-22-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest, and the "Conflicting Obligations / Oaths" square in my 6-1-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by an anonymous donor. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Turning Leaves"


Antimatter was still angry
with Stalwart Stan for ruining his life,
which meant they weren't hanging out,
which meant he was bored and
looking for things to do.

His hair was a mess,
matted from the black dye
that kept the silver shine contained,
but also because he found it harder
to look at himself in a mirror for some reason.

Antimatter felt betrayed,
even though they had never
exchanged any kind of promises
(because he didn't want to,
because they scared him)
or formalized anything.

So when Shiv showed up,
all lanky frame and floppy blond hair,
with a penchant for making knives
out of anything and everything
or tweaking blades from an enemy's grasp,
Antimatter followed him.

Shiv pinned autumn-red leaves
to the trunks of trees with well-aimed knives
and let Antimatter bum his cigarettes,
laughing when the younger teen coughed.
Shiv also taught Antimatter how to pick pockets,
and shared the loot just as generously.

There were supervillains in Omaha,
if you knew where to look,
and more spread through the suburbs;
with over a million people
in the Greater Omaha area,
the numbers added up.

Antimatter had someone
to hang out with again,
and Shiv was willing
to make introductions.

There was Shithouse, who worked
as a bodyguard and blocker,
big and brick-red and tough.
He was older and quieter
than most of the gangsters, and
didn't let anyone pick on Antimatter.

There was Lieutenant Brown,
who was twenty-one and just old enough
to buy beer and share it around.
Rumor said he could regenerate.

Boss White was the orchestrator
of organized crime in Omaha,
middle-aged (an elder in gang life)
and confident in his control.
He was a barely passable telepath
but could do all sorts of tricks with forcefields,
and everyone listened when he spoke.

They all thought Antimatter's gift was cool.

He played tug-of-war with Shithouse
and beat him, which made the big man laugh,
although Shithouse wouldn't let him claim
the cigarettes he'd won betting with Shiv.

They took him bowling and Antimatter
showed how he could move the ball
with the faintest tap of his fingertip.

Sometimes they brought him on small jobs
where his abilities could be useful, and once
Antimatter stuck a cop's shoes to the sidewalk
so that he couldn't chase after them.

He never showed off his speed-healing,
though, or his ability to thicken air;
those were too close other people's gifts.

One evening Boss White said,
"There's a building going up
next to the Mall. It's in my way."

"That's a nuisance,"
Lieutenant Brown agreed.

They all knew the Mall;
the park was a good place
for selling drugs or picking pockets
if you were a bit discreet about it.

The next time they went there,
it was a clear cool day and
the red leaves were turning brown,
Canadian geese honking and flapping
in all the water features as they
fought over bread crumbs.

Lieutenant Brown flicked his fingers
at the offending structure.

Shiv grinned at Antimatter before
heading off to create a distraction
by hassling the construction workers.

Several other gangsters started
fiddling with materials --
some kind of sabotage,
Antimatter guessed.

He wasn't sure he wanted to get involved.

They were his friends, sort of,
but they hadn't asked him to help
(or offered anything in return for it)
and there was a big difference between
roughing up people who bullied him
and demolishing a whole building.

Antimatter shifted from one foot to the other
as he watched the action unfold.

With a squeal of distressed metal,
part of the building's frame began to collapse,
a cloud of dust billowing from underneath.

The construction workers scurried to shore up
the faltering structure with props and tools.
Shithouse brought out a pair of bolt pistols
and dropped the first two men.

Antimatter expected that
would be the end of it:
ordinary people usually ran
when they saw supervillains in action.

The construction workers seemed
to take it personally that someone
wanted to flatten their building.

Instead of getting out of the way,
they piled onto Shithouse
and pummeled him.

Shiv flung tiny knives at them, then
looked over his shoulder at Antimatter.

Antimatter just stood there,
unable to make up his mind.

Shiv gave him a look of utter disgust,
his silver eyes as cold and flat as mirrors.
Then he turned away from Antimatter,
shaping more blades from lumber and bricks.

Next came a growl of engines, and
half a dozen motorcycles rolled to a stop.

Bikers were always looking for trouble --
but these seemed to be taking the side
of the construction workers,
brown leather fringe flying as they
laid into the supervillains.

They were holding their own, too,
which implied they had some kind of powers.

Antimatter backed carefully away.

The next thing he knew,
there was Stalwart Stan
piling into the fight and
bouncing his knuckles off the
brick-red armor of Shithouse's skin.

Shithouse pushed him away
and took aim with a bolt pistol.

Antimatter wavered, torn
between conflicting loyalties,
and before he could act,
Stalwart Stan ducked away.

First one and then another
of the ordinary gangsters
fell to Stalwart Stan's
superpowered fists.

Antimatter couldn't bring himself
to betray any of his friends
by siding with one over another.

Most of the ordinary gangsters
had already fallen, and
Shithouse wasn't faring too well
against one biker who seemed
to kick like a horse.

Nobody saw Shiv until he put
a knife into Stalwart Stan's belly.

"No!" Antimatter yelled,
a moment too late.

He flung out a hand to augment
Stalwart Stan's weakened shove,
simultaneously cancelling the friction
underneath Shiv's feet so that
the gangster skidded hard
into a pallet of bricks.

Antimatter didn't care that
Stalwart Stan was nothing to Shiv
but an enemy in the way.
It still felt like treachery.

Shiv didn't get up.

Some of the others were still
going strong, though, so Antimatter
slashed his hands through the air and
made things heavy or slick or strange
to sweep people out of his way.

His hair flared silver,
the dye burned away completely,
he'd used his power so much today.

Panic shortened his breath
as Antimatter dashed through
the thinning fight to Stalwart Stan,
who sat propped against a wall.

Stalwart Stan was hurt, and
Antimatter had no idea what to do.

"Don't touch the knife," said Stalwart Stan.
"Right now it's plugging the hole."

"Okay," Antimatter said,
mouth so dry it hurt to talk.
"I can, I can maybe heal around it."

He tried, he really did,
but he couldn't get the trick of
turning his talent outward for that;
he had only ever healed himself, and
he wasn't at his best under pressure.

"It's not working," he said.

"You told me once that
you could make things cold,"
said Stalwart Stan.

"Yeah, just, change molecular vibration,"
Antimatter said with a nod.

"Do that. It'll slow the bleeding,"
said Stalwart Stan.
"Make it just above freezing
so you don't give me frostbite."

Antimatter spread his fingers
over Stalwart Stan's middle
and very carefully altered
the temperature downward.

He was getting tired, but
he didn't dare quit now.
"What else can I do to help?"

"Take off your shirt for me,"
Stalwart Stan said,
his voice taut with pain.

One step at a time:
Antimatter could do that.

"Now twist it into a rope."

Antimatter hurried to obey,
handing the cloth to Stalwart Stan,
who used it to pack the knife in place.

"I have a first-aid kit in my fanny pack,"
said Stalwart Stan. "Get the tape out."
Antimatter did as he was told.
"Tape the cloth so the knife can't move."

That was harder, because
there was blood seeping out and
Antimatter's hands were shaking
like storm-tossed leaves.

"Hey, it'll be okay,"
said Stalwart Stan.
"Hurts like heck now, but
once I get to a hospital
they can patch me right up."

Antimatter choked on a laugh.
His best friend was injured,
he was fucking useless,
and Stalwart Stan was
trying to cheer him up.

"I thought you were supposed
to be Invulnerable," said Antimatter.

"Some superpowers still get through,"
Stalwart Stan explained to him.
"Take out your phone --"

"Can't, I don't -- it died on me again,"
Antimatter stammered.
His stupid powers sometimes
tended to fry electronics.

"Okay, get mine from my
shirt pocket," said Stalwart Stan.

Antimatter fumbled with the button
until he could reach the phone.
"Who should I call first?
Your parents? The hospital?"

"Call 9-1-1," said Stalwart Stan.
"Tell them I'm hurt and
we need an ambulance.
There's a supervillain fight
and we need police too."

Antimatter's fingers
got blood on the screen,
and he had to type three times
before the call went through, but
Stalwart Stan was counting on him
so he couldn't give up.

The lady on the other end of the line
was calm and confident.
That helped a little.

She asked questions, one at a time,
and Antimatter answered them.
Soon the wail of sirens approached.

Something -- or someone --
swept past in a dark blur,
mopping up the last of the fight
in mere moments.

With a whir and a clank,
an armored battlesuit
rounded the corner.

Antimatter flung himself between
the battlesuit and Stalwart Stan.

The suit spread its hands.
"Ease down, kid, it's me -- it's Hefty!"
said a familiar voice.

Never in his life had Antimatter
been so glad to see a policeman.

Antimatter flopped onto the pavement
beside his injured friend,
knees too rubbery to hold him up,
as Hefty knelt down by Stalwart Stan.

Dimly he could hear the two of them
discussing the injury, and then
Hefty gave a shrill whistle
that produced some paramedics.

"Come on, let's give them room to work,"
he said, tugging Antimatter away.

Hefty was even bigger in the battlesuit,
and Antimatter leaned against him
as they walked toward the nearest bench,
or in Antimatter's case, staggered.

"Hey kid, isn't your hair
supposed be glowing, sort of?"
Hefty asked, frowning at him.

Antimatter blinked blearily
and tried to focus on the ends
of his hair trailing over his chest.
"Huh. Guess my pilot light's out."

"That can't be good," Hefty said,
tucking him onto the bench.
"Put your head between your knees."
That helped a little, although
Antimatter still felt fuzzy.

"Katie!" yelled Hefty.
"I need some help over here."

A short woman brought a blanket
which she wrapped around Antimatter.
"Hi there. I'm Katie," she said.
"You look like you're not feeling well.
Would it be okay if I check you out?"

Antimatter couldn't muster the energy to reply,
so he just nodded and leaned against her.
Katie cupped one hand over the back of his neck,
while the other encircled his wrist.
The contact helped ground him a little.

"Power shock," Katie announced.
"It's not serious, but he needs
to go home and lie down soon.
A quiet, familiar place should
help him recharge safely."

"You're a soup?" Antimatter asked.
"Telempath," Katie said.

"My name is Shithouse,
you fuckin' assholes!"
echoed across the street.

Antimatter looked up to see
two officers loading him into a car.
They must have called him 'Brick' again,
because superheroes thought that
his real name was vulgar,
and he hated that.

One of the officers flitted over to join them,
so fast he was barely a blur, and
Antimatter remembered hearing
about Hefty's superhero partner.

"Looks like you're quite the hero,"
Fiddlesticks said to Antimatter.

"You probably saved your friend's life,"
Hefty added with a smile.

The false praise burned like acid.
Antimatter shook his head.
"I am no kind of hero."

"Did you destroy the property?
Hurt someone? Break any other laws?"
Hefty asked him.

Antimatter's gaze flicked to where
a team of paramedics worked
to scrape Shiv off the pavement.

"Hurt anyone who wasn't trying
to harm you or someone else?"
Hefty clarified.

"No," Antimatter whispered.

"He's telling the truth,"
Katie confirmed.

"Then in my book you're a hero,"
Hefty said to Antimatter.
"We'd rather that you youngsters
stayed out of trouble and left
the cleanup to experts like us,
but if you're going to get in it,
at least you fought on the right side."

"I guess," Antimatter said,
but he still didn't feel like it.

He didn't feel much of anything,
even when Katie took him home
and explained to his mother
what had happened and
how to take care of him.

All his mother did was
leave him alone in his room,
but since that was what he wanted
it was all fine.

The next morning,
Lawrence found his hair
back to its radiant self.

He grimaced and reached for the dye,
but he couldn't bear to look at
his reflection in the mirror, and
without that he'd never get it right.

Lawrence felt like he'd betrayed himself.

He sighed and gave up,
stuffing his hair under a hat instead.
Outside his bedroom window, the leaves
were turning a similar shade of silver with frost.

Lawrence sat on his bed
and practiced for over an hour,
turning his talent around and around
inside his mind until he figured out
the equations that would turn
the speed-healing outward.

Then Lawrence called around
to find out where Stan was staying.

It was hard to drag himself
up to the hospital room,
but Lawrence did it anyway,
because Stan had done a lot for him
and deserved the courtesy.

As soon as Lawrence rapped on the door,
Stan looked up, plainly surprised to see him.

"Should I be bringing you flowers?"
Lawrence asked, "or is that weird?"

"Lots of people have sent flowers,"
Stan said, waving one hand
at a small garden's worth of greenery.
"It's up to you."

"Oh wait -- I have a better idea."
Antimatter dashed out of the room,
procured several balloons from the gift shop,
and returned to Stan's beside where
he blew them up one at a time.

As Lawrence attached the ribbons,
Stan said, "You know they won't
actually float like that."

"Yes they will," Lawrence said,
touching the balloons with
the tiniest spark of power to alter
the mass of air inside them,
and up they went.

"Yay," Stan said softly, and
the sound of him so diminished
from his usual energy
made Lawrence feel awful.

"I brought something from home
to cheer you up," Lawrence said,
pulling off the hat to free
the silver spill of his hair.

It gave Stan enough strength
to reach up and stroke
the luminous strands.
"Thanks," he said.
"You look great like this."

Lawrence didn't know
how to respond to that,
so he changed the subject.

"I um, practiced with the speed-healing,"
he said. "I could do it for you now.
I think. Probably."

Stan beckoned an invitation,
no more than a curl of his fingertips.

Lawrence put a hand on Stan's chest,
avoiding the thick swath of bandages below.
As soon as he tried to invoke his power,
though, he could sense something off.
He shook his head and let go.

"What's wrong?" Stan asked.

Lawrence sighed.
"Your fetish," he said.
"It's interfering with the energy flow."

"Can you fix that?"
Stan asked.

"After all the times I've messed with it,
I don't want to make you think
I'm doing that again ..." Lawrence said,
hunching into himself.

"Would it help if I just took it off?"
Stan said, watching him.

"Maybe?" Lawrence said.

Without hesitation, Stan removed
the fetish that gave him power
and set it on the end table.

Lawrence reached for him again,
and this time managed to coax
a trickle of energy between them.
It was much harder than healing himself,
and he had to quit after a few minutes.

"Do you feel any better?"
Lawrence asked. "At all?"

"A little less sore," Stan said,
"and I'm hungry for the first time."

"Good, then it's working,"
Lawrence said. "If nothing else,
it should trim a few days
off your recovery time."

"Thanks," Stan said.

"I'm really sorry about yesterday,"
Lawrence said,
unable to meet his gaze.
"It's all my fault."

"You're not the one who
stuck a knife in me,"
Stan pointed out.

"I was hanging out with them,"
Lawrence said.

"Did you start the fight?"
Stan asked.

"Well, no, but I --"

"Then it wasn't your fault,"
Stan said firmly.

Lawrence shifted in his seat,
fingers opening and closing in his lap.
"I don't think ... that I want to be
a supervillain anymore," he whispered,
"not if it gets you wounded."

"It was worth a wound,"
Stan replied.

"Did you -- did you just
quote Sherlock Holmes at me?"
Lawrence said.

"Yeah, you got me into it,"
Stan said with a smile.
"It was worth a wound;
it was worth many wounds ..."
He trailed off, looking at Lawrence.

"... to know the depth of loyalty and love
which lay behind that cold mask,"
Lawrence finished softly, reaching out
to twine their fingers together.

Stan's eyes were bright with hope,
and in those mirrors at least,
Lawrence had no trouble seeing himself.

* * *

Notes:

Shiv (Egon Harrison) -- He has fair skin and silver eyes. His streaky blond hair is straight and silky, worn long on top so that it that flops over his face. His head is a long triangle ending in a narrow chin. He has a lot of small scars from fights, but he heals well, having survived several injuries that could easily have proven fatal. Egon is currently 19 years old.
His superpower is a narrow form of telekinesis. It lets him create knives out of almost any nearby material, or take control of small bladed weapons from anyone else. He can't manage anything larger than a machete, though.
Origin: While in Juvenile Hall, he was stabbed by another inmate. Shortly thereafter, Egon developed his superpower. He believes that there was something on the knife -- or in the material itself -- which caused this to happen.
Uniform: Street clothes, but with several bandoliers of throwing knives.
Qualities: Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Generous, Good (+2) Hoodlum, Good (+2) Recovering from Injuries, Good (+2) Streetwise
Poor (-2) Can't Keep His Mouth Shut
Powers: Good (+2) Knife Control
Note that the knives which Shiv makes or controls are saturated with his superpower, meaning they do damage on a super scale. For instance, they can penetrate abilities such as Super-Armor or Invulnerability and do real damage, although they still won't kill someone with Immortality.
Motivation: Puncture ALL the egos!

Boss White (Dwayne White) -- He has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair. He deals in drugs, gambling, and other organized crime. Despite being a supervillain, he is as mentally fastidious as most other telepaths. While he blithely abuses information gleaned from projected thoughts, he never enters another mind without permission, and he has executed at least one criminal telepath for mindrape.
Origin: While in prison, he was subjected to mad science experiments.
Uniform: On duty as a supervillain, he wears an ivory suit and hat. Off duty, he wears a charcoal gray or black suit and hat.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Gangster, Expert (+4) Tough, Good (+2) Saxophone Player
Poor (-2) Internalized Racism
Powers: Good (+2) Forcefields (Signature Stunts: Invisible Jail, Invisible Staircase, Shield Bash, Trash Compactor), Average (0) Telepathy
Good (+2) Minions: Ebonies & Ivories have 9 named lieutenants, each in charge of his own gang full of common thugs. Lieutenants have Good (+2) Gangster, a Good musical ability, one other Good, and one Average superpower. These include Lieutenant Brown, Faster Blaster (Zachary Johnson), and Popgun (Tyler Davis).
Motivation: To consolidate power.

Lieutenant Brown (Jonathan Brown) -- He has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair. He currently works for Boss White as a lieutenant in the Ebonies & Ivories.
Origin: Caught in a ghetto firefight as a toddler, he survived and developed regenerative powers.
Uniform: On duty as a supervillain: charcoal gray suit with cap. Off duty: brown suit with hat.
Qualities: Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Gangster, Good (+2) Trumpeter
Poor (-2) Criminal Record
Powers: Average (0) Regeneration
Motivation: To get the job done.

Joseph Elkdog -- He is the leader of a mostly Native American motorcycle gang. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Joseph himself belongs to the Blackfeet tribe. He has straight black hair, black eyes, and copper skin.
Origin: The longstanding dispute between tribal and biker cultures over Bear Butte and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally reached an odd crossroads when a young "city Indian" rode his bike up the mountain ... and then safely back down again, bike perfectly intact, in possession of a vision and rather more sense than he went up with. He began studying his Blackfeet heritage and gathering members to form a motorcycle gang.
Uniform: Brown leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Master (+6) Biker, Good (+2) Blackfeet Culture, Good (+2) Humility Good (+2) Mechanic
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Expert (+4) Horse Totem, Average (0) Nature-sense
Good (+2) Motorcycle: Expert (+4) Magical Protection, Good (+2) Elusive, Good (+2) Fast
Average (0) Minions: The Iron Horses have 7 named lieutenants (4 men, 3 women) and dozens of additional members. Lieutenants have qualities of Expert (+4) Biker and another Good; plus powers of a Good (+2) Totem and another Average (0) superpower. Each Iron Horse has an Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Magical protection and two other Good qualities. They all share the same weakness of Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds.
Motivation: Protect Turtle Island and promote unity among her people.

Katie Clairmont -- She has hazel eyes and pinkish-fair skin. Usually she wears her straight brown hair pulled back in a bun at the nape of her neck. Her body is short and sturdy.
Katie takes a particular interest in damage control, not just at the scene of an emergency, but also in terms of fixing social problems while they are still small. She has a soft spot for troubled youth. Currently she works in Omaha emergency services, providing emotional or superpower first aid in crisis situations, especially those involving soups. She is a "blue plate special," using her superpower in an ordinary job, without a secret identity.
Origin: She has a younger brother with a mental handicap. She grew up helping him, and that inspired her to choose a caregiving profession. Katie's telempathic ability developed as a result of pushing herself to understand her brother's needs, because he can't communicate easily.
Uniform: Short-sleeved shirt and pants of taupe fabric, with patches indicating her affiliation with Omaha emergency services.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Emotional First Aid, Expert (+4) Metaphysical First Aid, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) First Responder Friends, Good (+2) Mysteries Fan, Good (+2) Patience
Powers: Good (+2) Telempath
Motivation: Damage control.

* * *

Anger naturally comes up when friends disagree. Learn from it and then move on.

Boredom happens when people have nothing to do or feel disengaged. Know how to cope with boredom.

Difficulty looking at yourself in the mirror may stem from low self-esteem, poor body image, and/or shame. Lawrence has issues from abuse and bullying, feels self-conscious about his shiny hair, and is making some serious mistakes; no wonder he can't meet his own gaze. There are steps for overcoming mirror trouble.

Betrayal is a type of relational transgression which violates expectations. This action undermines trust and impairs relationships. A challenge is that people often form expectations without discussing those or exchanging any overt promises, which can lead to tangles like what happened in this poem. It's important to understand how we betray ourselves, to apologize for betraying someone's trust, and to deal with betrayal from another person.

Falling in with the wrong crowd often happens with children or teenagers when their social needs are not met at home.  They crave acceptance.  They may join gangs for recognition, protection, or company. Imprisoning young troublemakers actively makes matters worse, because in groups they reinforce each other's bad behavior. Lawrence starts tagging along with miscreants due to a shitty home life and a falling out with his one admirable friend. Know the signs that your teen is in the wrong crowd and how to discourage that. Also know the signs that you're hanging with the wrong crowd, how to identify bad friends, and how to stay out of trouble. Understand how to help a friend in trouble.

The city of Omaha proper has a population of 420,000. Including suburbs, it has about 900,000 spanning eight counties. About 1.3 million people live within 50 miles of the city's center, forming the Greater Omaha Area. Crime includes gangs, but the overall crime rate is dropping and the city is pretty safe now.

Gangs attract many young people, but they seriously reduce life expectancy. There are several types of gangs, to which Terramagne adds supervillains and their minions. Such minions may come in combat or noncombat flavors; often the named lieutenants are supervillains with weaker powers than whatever their boss has. Most supervillain gangs have a theme, reflected in the name and sometimes the talents of their members. Like cults, they tend to recruit the vulnerable, which is how they can manufacture loyalty from comparatively poor stock.

Leaders and followers have different traits and skills. Lawrence is a follower -- not a great one yet, but he has a lot of potential. He takes direction well, but dithers if left to himself.

Hesitation and confusion have many causes, but most are rooted in fear. Learn how to stop hesitating. The two main reasons why Lawrence hesitates are that he's not naturally self-directed and he doesn't know what to do. The first is fixable with a good leader, the second with appropriate training and experience.

Decision-making is a complex skill, and many people have difficulty with it. Crisis management requires a slightly different process for making faster decisions. Understand how to make methodical decisions and quick decisions. Stan is good in a crisis because of his studies in the Activity Scouts and subsequent practice. He's good enough to manage other people who are freaking out, a valuable skill for heroes.



Conflicting loyalties occur both in everyday life and in entertainment. Ask questions and know how to resolve conflicts of loyalty.

Panic is an overload of fear that impairs effective response in a crisis. In a public emergency, a range of behavior including both violent and altruistic actions may occur. Good civic management includes proactive crowd direction. Terramagne-America has a higher percentage of citizen responders like Stan who know how to handle an individual or public crisis. You don't need superpowers for this, just skills and willingness. Understand how to distinguish the merely urgent from a real emergency, keep yourself calm, help a panicky person calm down, and handle an emergency.

Stab wounds require careful treatment in first aid. I wanted to show the right things to do, because in mainstream entertainment, the first thing everybody does is pull out the impaling instrument, which is the WRONG thing to do (unless it's causing extra damage because it is vibrating or venomous). I've never seen this kind of injury handled correctly on film, and almost never in print.

Adrenaline works like a roller coaster; it takes you quickly up and then down.

Emotional first aid helps people cope with psychological injuries which may arouse atavistic responses. There are simple and elaborate guidelines for psychological first aid. One advantage that Terramagne has is a greater tendency to teach emotional alongside physical first aid. That lowers the rate of people who sustain serious mental injuries for lack of proper treatment.

Emotional or psychological trauma can cause an acute stress reaction. There are resources for dealing with emotional shock and recovering from disasters.

There are tips for visiting an injured friend. Due to a lack of decent parenting, Lawrence only knows this is something you're supposed to do; he doesn't know much about how.



Trust develops based on a variety of criteria, and it's complicated. Some people have trust issues, like Lawrence, who has been hurt a lot in the past; others like Stan may trust too much, because he wants to think the best of people. Lawrence is shocked by Stan's easy acceptance of goodwill, but as far as Stan's concerned, once somebody isn't hostile then he's okay with them. The Ninth Step is one famous exercise for trust repair. There are ways to develop self-trust, rebuild broken trust, regain trust in someone after they've hurt you, and generally build trust in a relationship.

The attribution of blame relies on multiple factors. Some beliefs about blame are wrong. Effective accountability requires that authority and responsibility be evenly matched. Think carefully about who is at fault when things go wrong. Learn problem-solving skills and stop blaming yourself.

Sherlock Holmes is a famous literary detective, and the quote I referenced also appears in that article. Stan isn't the reader that Lawrence is, but they're starting to rub off on each other despite the interpersonal tensions.

Just the thing

Date: 2014-07-19 02:48 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
to make me smile first thing in the morning.

Yes, the events are awful, extremely traumatic for Lawrence, dangerous and somewhat traumatic for Lawrence... but it's the moment of "I'm NOT like this," that makes it all worthwhile.

They could both use a hug.

(As always, thanks for posting this one, too.)

Re: Just the thing

Date: 2014-07-22 07:50 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: Little bear holding a heart with the text "Sending love to you" (sending love and hugs)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
They could use ALL THE HUGS. <3 (Especially Lawrence.)

But I hear you on this making you smile. It makes me smile too because of that moment.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-25 06:10 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Aw. poor Antimatter. But I think this was the kick in the pants that he needed to clarify his own thinking, so I'm sort of glad it happened and sorry for him at the same time. What the SU folks call an "Emotionally Complex Response". :-)

This bit jumped out at me:
They must have called him 'Brick' again,
because superheroes thought that
his real name was vulgar,
and he hated that.


Sounds like somebody needs to give the good guys a lesson in "people deserve to be called what they want to be called".

I enjoy the Damask stories, but this sub-thread is really calling to me hard for some reason. Maybe I've been reading too much slash fanfic!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-19 04:56 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Good one! Lawrence does a face turn, and for all the right reasons... and Sherlock! :) You know how I like it when Sherlock shows up, even just quoted...

Dunno how much you've studied about bikes or gangs... but you didn't blow any details that I could tell. There is a spot on cruiser bikes (Harleys and their Japanese counterparts, the latter shown here (http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h44/trudy_w/Jeff_Storage/m109_handlebarbag_zps1943e703.jpg), where a bag is easily mounted; it doesn't exist so much on standards and dual-sports, and sportbikes, with their clip-on bars, don't have it at all (one uses a tank bag for that)... but, yeah, when you mentioned the medicine bag on the bars, I immediately thought of that spot, which is perfect for something you'd want to grab immediately on dismount... like, if you're being a shaman-EMT...

If you wanna do more bike stories, I'd be glad to alpha- or beta-read for you... :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-26 07:25 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
In general, you don't remove the power marks from an awakened object. This would include medicine bags; if the motorcycle's spirit has awakened, the bag belongs to it, not to you.

But if the bag is a marker that says "this is my bike", then sure, grab what you need when you need it.

Yes...

Date: 2014-07-26 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I actually based this on stuff that people are doing here. Serious bikers, the ones who go to Sturgis, sometimes have a connection with a shaman who will make a medicine bag for them. That thing makes the difference between whether you can ride your bike up and down Bear Butte, or ride it up and walk it down. Place is notorious for breakdowns, because people go up there and do things that don't belong on holy ground, which pisses off the spirits and makes them break things. Or occasionally people. Or hail over half-a-dozen counties, we've been around when that happened a time or two.

Customarily that type of medicine bag stays on the bike, as a permanent addition. Some of the bikers have their own separate bags too. It's like spiritual ID.

Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-26 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Good one! Lawrence does a face turn, and for all the right reasons... <<

Sooth. Took him a while to work up to it, but he's pointed in the right direction now.

>> and Sherlock! :) You know how I like it when Sherlock shows up, even just quoted... <<

Hee! They're rubbing off on each other, the boys are.

>> Dunno how much you've studied about bikes or gangs... but you didn't blow any details that I could tell. <<

So far, a little bit, when I was designing the Iron Horses. They were actually among the first soups whom I statted up.

>> There is a spot on cruiser bikes (Harleys and their Japanese counterparts, the latter shown here, where a bag is easily mounted; it doesn't exist so much on standards and dual-sports, and sportbikes, with their clip-on bars, don't have it at all (one uses a tank bag for that)... but, yeah, when you mentioned the medicine bag on the bars, I immediately thought of that spot, which is perfect for something you'd want to grab immediately on dismount... like, if you're being a shaman-EMT... <<

Fascinating.

>> If you wanna do more bike stories, I'd be glad to alpha- or beta-read for you... :) <<

I'll try to keep that in mind. I'm open to prompts on this topic, or feedback whenever I'm posting stuff about it.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-19 08:40 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Love it! With extra Sherlock -- delightful.

The link about visiting a sick or injured friend is excellent. Stuff a lot of people don't know (and I mostly learned from doing it all too much).

Yay!

Date: 2014-07-26 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Love it! With extra Sherlock -- delightful. <<

I'm glad you liked this.

>> The link about visiting a sick or injured friend is excellent. Stuff a lot of people don't know (and I mostly learned from doing it all too much). <<

Yeah, it used to be ubiquitous knowledge but isn't nearly as much so now.

Belated thought...

Date: 2014-08-03 09:40 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Antimatter's gaze flicked to where
a team of paramedics worked
to scrape Shiv off the pavement.


It's been worrying at me for a day or two. Is Shiv dead? It's obvious that he went down pretty hard and didn't get up again, but that could have just been a hard knock on the head.

The thing is, I don't see any way for that situation not to turn out horrible. If Shiv isn't dead, he's got one helluva grudge now, both for what he's going to have perceived as a betrayal (when Antimatter wouldn't mix in and help) and for having been put out of action and possibly seriously injured. As soon as he has a chance, he's going to come looking for revenge; Lawrence may have just acquired a super-powered stalker, and he's a dead-easy target for someone like Shiv.

If Shiv is dead... well, it avoids the above scenario, but could end up just as bad for Lawrence if he finds out about it. How would he react to blood-guilt? Even if it was in defense of his friend, that's going to be incredibly traumatic. Killing someone unintentionally is often worse from an emotional standpoint than killing with intent, in a violent situation. And I didn't see anything there to indicate intent of more than "Get him the fuck away from my friend!"

And now that I've thought about it, this is probably going to nag at me until I know how it comes out.

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