ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the November 8, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] redsixwing. It also fills the "diversity / homogeneity" square in my 8-1-16 Group Dynamics card. This poem has been sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the Kraken thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Going Steady"


At the core of supervillain subculture,
Kraken has long recognized the value
of an honorable opponent.

Some supervillains just want
to get the goods and get out, but
many of them long for a worthy foe,
someone to push them higher and farther
(lower and deeper) than ever before.

It's intimate, in its own way,
even though they rarely speak
openly about that part, that link
between nemesis and nemesis,
supervillain and superhero.

It's like going steady.

So the officers keep an eye on it
to make sure that nobody gets hurt
more than the reasonable amount
of roughhousing inherent to
this life they have chosen.

They watch Cacophony
with her nemesis Silencio
and his translator Melazo,
because it's especially tricky
when one nemesis can
cancel the other's power.

But Silencio learns how
to dance around Cacophony
and aim her supernatural voice
out of harm's way until she
wears herself out,

and Cacophony learns
Puerto Rican Sign Language
so she can tell Silencio
to go fuck himself in
his native thumb.

The officers watch Vagary
and Calliope, who fell into
their relationship rather than
making a deliberate commitment.

They worry about the verbal abuse
and all the more when it turns physical
but Vagary insists on handling it himself.

And he does.

He talks the balky superhera
into attending couples therapy,
and she shows him around town,
so maybe this won't end with
a call to the healers after all.

It spreads out into the wider community
of supervillains and superheroes, as
so much does, and Kraken keeps watch
from below as they always do.

They know about Dvorak and Qwerty,
always a risk because Dvorak is
so far beyond her nemesis that
they are and always will be
hopelessly mismatched.

Yet even though Dvorak
can run rings around Qwerty,
the superhera never gives up,
always a day late and a dollar short
but so filled determination that
Dvorak can never shake her.

It's not equal, but it is
a balance of sorts.

They know about Warshirt
and Blazing Grass, two sides of
a cultural divide that began with
the European invasion of America
and hasn't healed much since.

It won't do to waste their potential,
though, so Kraken tries to keep them
from killing each other.

The officers know about
Contretemps and Jackie Frost,
a relationship complicated first by
Jackie's husband Fireheart and
then by their daughter Aurora.

Contretemps is a perfect gentleman
where the baby is concerned, and
eventually even the wary parents
begin to relax a little.

They watch Dust Devil and
Protean in Rapid City until
the worsening conditions there
drive out the last two soups in the city.

Kraken knows what it's like.
They've rescued people from there.
If there was a bottom-ten list for cities
as well as countries, then Rapid City
would be on America's B-10 list.

They know about Shoestring and
Kayo bumping around Omaha
and rubbing each other entirely
the wrong way, something that
worries everyone who sees
them, even the police.

Kraken knows about the breakups
as well as the introductions,
some of which get ugly.

Aquariana has more-or-less
abandoned Haboob by moving
to the Republic of the Maldives,
and someone really needs
to go explore that little nation
more thoroughly soon.

The Fennec has taken over,
but Haboob hates her style.

It makes him even crazier.

They know, too, the times when
enemies become friends
or even lovers.

Farce and Damask in
Urbanburg have actually
moved in together, which is
unusual but not unheard of.

Turq and Officer Pink in Bluehill
haven't made it that official, but the boy
spends more and more time sleeping
inside the policeman's gazebo.

Antimatter and Stalwart Stan
in Omaha have gone steady for real,
in romance instead of cape politics now.

It's not always this formal, of course,
but sometimes it is when people need it.

There are those who want
commitment ceremonies for it
and those who don't.

Sometimes they get
downright monogamous
about it, shouting, "Nobody
defeats you but me!"

The nemesis link is a strong one,
for sometimes enemies understand
each other better than family or friends,
the ones who see you at your worst
yet remain a part of your life.

There's a statue in the desert
that speaks silently of this:

two wireframe cages shaped
like human bodies made of rebar,
sitting back to back on the sand,
welded around fiberglass statues of
two toddlers reaching their hands
but just unable to touch.

They are forever together,
forever separate, their shoulders
draped with black and white capes
in silent homage to the politics
which unite and divide

the superpowered community.

* * *

Notes:

Cacophony (Rhonda Tittensor) -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes, and long wavy chestnut hair. She came from a conservative religious family but no longer has any contact with them due to childhood mistreatment. As a mercenary, Cacophony does far more than fighting; she also does sabotage, distraction, manipulation, and other supervillain tasks. She is quite popular at supervillain events as an announcer, because she can pitch her voice to be heard without needing to shout.
Origin: Her school was stuffy and conservative, with teachers who rarely called on girls. Her parents expected her to be seen and not heard. When Rhonda was thirteen, the school locked her in an oubliette for making too much noise. And then forgot about her over the weekend. Midmorning Monday, her superpowers manifested. She blasted the oubliette open, pulverized the office and everyone in it, wrecked about a quarter of the school building, and caused numerous other injuries. Dozens of people were left with permanent hearing damage. Devastated by the scene, she ran away.
Months later, Kraken found Rhonda and took her in. When they realized what had triggered her traumatic manifestation, they went back and leveled the rest of the school (while it was empty), broke the arms and legs of the teacher who locked her up, and set family services on her parents. But it took years for her to overcome the experience well enough to build a new life.
Uniform: Kraken uniform of dexflan and capery; the jumpsuit is sensibly designed with sleek fit, plenty of pockets and fasteners for equipment. It provides Expert (+4) Camouflage to a designated user, but if worn by anyone else, turns garish neon colors. The utility belt contains a multitude of small gizmos and other tools.
Qualities: Good (+2) Assertive, Good (+2) Debate, Good (+2) Feminist, Good (+2) Mercenary, Good (+2) Tall
Poor (-2) Keeping Quiet
Powers: Master (+6) Supernatural Voice
Her metapower can be used for Deafening Shout, Fearful Scream, Heartbreaking Song, Hypnotic Speech, Infrasonic Sound, Joyful Noise, Mimicry, Penetrating Voice, Siren Song, Sonic Blast, Soporific Lullaby, Ultrasonic Sound, Ventriloquism, and various other effects.
Limitation: Many of the applications require the listener to be able to hear, so only those with purely physical effects such as Sonic Blast are effective against deaf people. Impaired hearing means the power works at a downshift on that person. Ordinary soundproofing cannot stop her voice, and gizmotronic soundproofing operates at a downshift. Super-gizmotronic soundproofing functions normally and may be resolved by a conflict roll.
Motivation: To be heard.

Silencio (Neron Orabano) -- He has tinted skin, light brown eyes, and black hair with just a little wave. Sometimes his hair flops over his eyes. He has a compact body, with well-defined muscles and an angular face. Neron is Puerto Rican, with ancestry from Portugal and Corsica among others. He is deaf, using Puerto Rican Sign Language to communicate, and also literate in Spanish and English. He has an easy time picking up women and a hard time holding onto them. His work life often interrupts his private life. He grew up Protestant, but is not particularly devout.
Silencio is a superhero who specializes in fighting supervillains with sonic powers or gizmos. He has a supernary sidekick, Melazo, as a translator. They do some consulting for SPOON, but mostly they work through Puerto Rican police as sonic weapons are popular on the island. Silencio can frontload and backload calories. His method of choice is eating avocados the way other people eat apples.
Origin: When he was a boy, his parents enrolled him in an experimental program intended to restore hearing to deaf children. It did nothing for his hearing, but it did give him superpowers. The sonic dampening grew in very quickly, while he was still in testing to determine whether he had gained any hearing, so the effects were very obvious. It took him a lot longer to gain control because he couldn't hear what he was doing. The super-strength came gradually, developing in his early twenties, and proved easier to master because he gets tactile feedback from it.
Uniform: Black dexflan unitard with blue and white trim. He doesn't wear a mask, because he is very well known and respected for his work.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Criminal Psychology, Good (+2) No-Gi Judo, Good (+2) Sailor, Good (+2) Sultry
Poor (-2) Love Life
Powers: Expert (+4) Sonic Damper, Good (+2) Super-Strength

Melazo (Renaldo Neri) -- He has tinted skin, green eyes, and very curly brown hair. He is slender with a long face. He is Puerto Rican, with primarily Spanish and African heritage, and a little Taino. Renaldo likes sex well enough when he can get it, but doesn't miss it when he can't, and doesn't see it as a solid foundation for a relationship. He has a sweet personality, which makes him popular. He especially enjoys connecting with other supernaries.
Melazo works as a translator for Silencio. They live together as housemates and also share superhero work. Melazo is fluent in English, French, Puerto Rican Spanish, American Sign Language, and Puerto Rican Sign Language; he is currently studying Taino. He does a poor job at choosing goals or plans for himself, preferring to attach himself to someone else. For a full-time translator, this is not a problem -- until he gets separated from his partner.
Uniform: Blue dexflan unitard with black and white trim.
Qualities: Master (+6) Translator, Master (+6) Mediator, Expert (+4) Positive Mental Attitude, Expert (+4) Surveillance, Expert (+4) Tough, Good (+2) Follower, Good (+2) Gregarious, Good (+2) Homemaker, Good (+2) Puerto Rican Cuisine, Good (+2) Reggaeton, Good (+2) Supernary Friends
Poor (-2) Self-Direction
Motivation: Communication and connection.

Vagary (Abelardo Bennett) -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and dark hair with a short beard and moustache. His very mixed heritage includes Jewish, Spanish, German, and Italian. He enjoys taking tours at museums, art galleries, caves, parks, monuments, anywhere he can be part of a group without people expecting him to be charming. He also loves strategy games, with a particular taste for area-control ones.
Vagary currently works for the supervillain organization Kraken. He is a competent spy, adept at both planting and stealing small items as well as eavesdropping. He specializes in fishing for information by hanging around places of power in semi-public or taking tours, and skimming for valuable thoughts. Kraken has considered him for officer training, held back primarily by his shyness and poor social skills; so far he has only taken the lead in a few small teams.
Origin: Abelardo was kicked out of his rather conservative home for "sexual confusion." A Kraken officer recruited him by providing acceptance of whatever he turned out to be. Abelardo never has really nailed down his sexual orientation or identity, but unlike his family, Kraken doesn't care. The organization offered him the gamble of taking a potent metagen; he accepted, and developed superpowers.
Uniform: Kraken uniform of dexflan and capery; the jumpsuits is sensibly designed with sleek fit, plenty of pockets and fasteners for equipment. It provides Expert (+4) Camouflage to a designated user, but if worn by anyone else, turns garish neon colors. The utility belt contains a multitude of small gizmos and other tools, along with a holster for the Confusticator zap gun which causes disorientation and short-term memory loss. Off-duty, Abelardo favors business casual, most often trousers and a polo shirt.
Qualities: Good (+2) Flexible, Good (+2) Gamer, Good (+2) Patience, Good (+2) Spy, Good (+2) Touring
Poor (-2) Social Skills
Powers: Average (0) Phase, Average (0) Telepathy
Limitation: His Telepathy is usually restricted to skimming strong signals from the ambient pitch pool, rather than reading another person directly. If he phases through someone, it functions at Good level and he can read them directly, but he feels very uncomfortable doing that.
Motivation: To explore while unobserved.

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. She speaks English, Greek, and Esperanto.
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.

Dvorak (Imogen Kron) -- She has fair skin, dark blue eyes, and short wild white hair like milkweed fluff. Her hair used to be a slighter darker platinum blonde, a little thicker and more manageable. When she developed superpowers, it moulted over the course of a few weeks and came in much finer, a pure silver-white. Imogen has a heart-shaped face and a tall slender body, but generous cleavage for her size. She is an only child.
Imogen lives in Rain City. She has a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in nanotechnology from North Seattle College. For a foreign language, she took Esperanto. She loves movies, especially science fiction ones, and collects movie posters. One of her favorites is The Little Ninja. Dvorak wants to be rich and powerful. Also she just kind of loves playing with people. Beautiful and sexy, she doesn't hesitate to use seduction to get what she wants. However, she can just as well take it by subterfuge or force. Her nemesis is Qwerty, and Dvorak usually runs rings around her.
Origin: Her powers developed after using a metagenic vaccine base called Aegis. It causes about 1 in 100,000 people to develop Super-Immunity, and about 1 in 1,000,000 to develop additional superpowers.
Uniform: On-duty she wears a hip-length cape of white capery, a utility belt, and a catsuit of platinum dexflan with a round boob window. A glowing blue ring around the rim of the boob window makes the "Power" symbol: Her white boots have heels high enough to look sexy, but low enough to run and fight in effectively. Off-duty she enjoys wearing fashionable clothes, and her favorite pair of earrings resemble paperclips. However, she dresses for locale, so often that means business chic. In the workshop she changes to a slim jumpsuit with many pockets and a tool belt.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Computer Wizard, Expert (+4) Corporate Espionage, Expert (+4) Sexy, Good (+2) City Girl, Good (+2) Concentration, Good (+2) Geek, Good (+2) Logical, Good (+2) Movie Fan, Good (+2) Ninjutsu
Poor (-2) Dealing with Nature
Powers: Average (0) Super-Gizmology, Average (0) Super-Immunity, Average (0) Super-Intellect
Motivation: Money and power.

Qwerty (Nora Hale) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long straight brown hair perpetually escaping attempts to contain it. She wears glasses with heavy lenses and thick rims to correct her terrible vision. She has three older brothers. Growing up in rural territory near the Hoh Rainforest has given her an understanding of nature, but she finds cities overwhelming and confusing. One of her favorite movies is The Aikido Kid. Nora has a two-year Associate of Science in Engineering degree from North Seattle University. For a foreign language she took Spanish. She sings filk songs and plays 12-string guitar. Her nemesis is Dvorak, and Qwerty has a hard time trying to keep up with her.
Origin: Her powers developed after using a metagenic vaccine base called Aegis. It causes about 1 in 100,000 people to develop Super-Immunity, and about 1 in 1,000,000 to develop additional superpowers.
Uniform: On-duty, Qwerty wears hyperlight trail shoes, a utility belt, and an ankle-length cape of gray capery that's big enough to roof a lean-to in an emergency. (She knows it is. She's done that, more than once.) A jumpsuit of navy blue dexflan hugs her body, the knees and elbows thickened with leathery armor. It's not pretty, but it's practical. Off-duty she favors denim and flannel and other practical wear, although she can dress up if she has to. She loves hats, though, and enjoys collecting ones to suit different occasions.
Qualities: Master (+6) Determination, Master (+6) Smart, Expert (+4) Gizmology, Good (+2) Aikido, Good (+2) Country Girl, Good (+2) Geek, Good (+2) Filker
Poor (-2) Awkward
Powers: Average (0) Super-Immunity
Motivation: "Always practice, even when I fail."

Warshirt (Will Big Head) -- He has light copper skin, brown eyes, and slightly wavy dark brown hair to his waist. He is tall and muscular with broad shoulders. His heritage includes Lakota, Blackfeet, and Kiowa. He speaks English and a little Plains Indian Sign. He prefers crafts with traditional techniques and all-natural materials such as leather and porcupine quills. He gets the beadwork from female relatives and sews it in place himself; in return, he helps them with heavier work like carving. He joined the Army straight out of high school and never went to college. He is fixated on the glorious past of his people, and not very good at adapting to modern life. He also leans toward problem drinking.
Shirt Man is a traditional term for a warrior so adept that he went into battle protected only by his shirt, not a shield or any other armor. It works for offensive and defensive tactics. Counting Coup allows him to drain Qualities or Powers when striking an opponent instead of causing physical injury. The advantage over simply damaging his opponent to take them out of the fight is that Warshirt can use that energy to restore lost levels of his own abilities.
Since returning home from the war, he can't seem to stay out of trouble, and keeps picking fights with other tribal soups. His nemesis is Blazing Grass. But he once propositioned She Walks in Mist while drunk, and she smacked him, so now all the Iron Horses dislike him.
Origin: While on tour in Afghanistan, his commanding officer got seriously ventilated in a firefight. Warshirt gave up his own protective gear to shield the casualty, then charged the nest of insurgents wearing nothing but his fatigues and killed all twelve of them. He returned without a scratch on him.
Uniform: On duty, he wears traditional buckskin regalia consisting of a fringed warshirt with horsehair tassels and loom-beaded strips with a diamond pattern, over fringed pants with shell buttons and fringed moccasins that come just above the ankles. He carries a war lance with a bone point and beaded shaft for counting coup. Off duty, he tends toward scruffy hand-me-down clothes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Courage, Expert (+4) Veteran, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Traditional Crafts
Poor (-2) Stuck in the Past
Powers: Good (+2) Counting Coup, Good (+2) Shirt Man
Limitation: Counting Coup only works when the enemy is not injured. Shirt Man only works in combat, and does not protect against everyday hazards.
Motivation: To maintain traditions.

Blazing Grass (Meyer Ayze) -- He has fair skin that tans copper, brown eyes, and short wavy black hair with a short beard and mustache. He wears glasses. His heritage includes Omaha, Ponca, Navajo, British, and French. He speaks English, Omaha-Ponca, and Navajo. As a hobby, he describes pop culture events and artifacts in a heritage language, which has made him a popular guest speaker at language nests around Turtle Island. He enjoys arts and crafts with super-saturated colors and contemporary materials such as fluorescent dyes, synthetic fibers, polymer clay, and acrylic paint. He can achieve mystical effects with those synthetic materials similar to a technomage with electronics or a shaman with natural materials. He is very much a modern Indian, and his regalia reflects that. He actually does a great job of blending past and present influences, but he still gets a lot of flak from people who think he's "not Indian enough." His nemesis is Warshirt, who prefers a much more traditional approach.
Origin: When he was a teenager, his little sister got sick, slowly wasting away. One night he dreamed of a mighty prairie fire. He spent the next several weeks making vivid regalia and learning the ceremonial moves. After he performed the Grass Dance for his sister, she got well. When he graduated from high school, his relatives pooled funds and sent him to college for medical training, after which he returned to work at the tribal clinic.
Uniform: On duty at the clinic, a white lab coat over light blue button-up shirt and navy pants. For ceremonies, modern Grass Dance regalia made primarily from satiny fabric with acrylic yarn in neon shades of green, yellow, and orange. The headdress consists of a roach with antenna plumes, a headband using three compact discs for the front and side medallions with the center holes covered by more beadwork, and bead loops along the cheeks. Off duty, he wears outdoorsy men's fashions, often designer jeans with a polo or button-up shirt.
Qualities: Master (+6) Community Values, Expert (+4) Medic, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Fastidious, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Contemporary Crafts
Poor (-2) Not Indian Enough
Powers: Good (+2) Healing, Average (0) Luck Blessing, Average (0) Technoshaman
Motivation: To take care of his tribe.

Contretemps (Samael Calaman) -- He has fair skin, deep blue eyes, and wavy black hair. His heritage includes French, Swiss, and Scottish. Contretemps is a magnificent bastard, and a longstanding nemesis of Jackie Frost. He calls her "Jacks," which annoys the crap out of her. Also he rarely monologues to superheroes because that would give away his plans; instead, he serenades them with a Borman violin. He uses the same technique to court minions.
Homosexual by preference, Samael enjoys a series of boytoys and has no trouble picking up a date (or a victim to manipulate). However, most people don't know this, because he's enough of charmer to have as much luck with women as he wants, and he often uses that to manipulate people. Jackie Frost does know, but usually doesn't mention it.
Contretemps has made himself a great many enemies by insisting on practicalities before pleasures. He constantly manipulates the Canadian government and business sectors with that in mind. He has no objection to people amusing themselves, just feels they should do so with their own pocket money and not public funds. So Contretemps keeps dragging budgets toward investment and infrastructure; away from the arts, many social services, and military expenditures that are more fun than necessary. Then he spends his private money on luxuries anyhow, which just drives people up a wall; one of his favorite lairs is a lovely two-storey dome with a grand piano in the music room. But he's never missed a bill because he blew the money on something frivolous; he is honorable in his own way.
Origin: His superpowers developed as a result of pushing himself to do more and better, using some rather extreme training techniques.
Uniform: Most of the time Samael wears expensive tailored suits. His combat suit is midnight blue dexflan accented with black and white chevrons at the cuffs, toughened with leathery pads of krevel at the chest, elbows, and knees. He doesn't wear it often because he's more of a mastermind than a frontline fighter.
Qualities: Master (+6) Magnificent Bastard, Expert (+4) Violin Player, Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Entrepreneur, Good (+2) Wealth, Good (+2) Worthy Opponent
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Intellect, Average (0) Luck, Average (0) Minions
The Ensemble have 7 named lieutenants and many faceless followers. Each lieutenant has an Average (0) superpower; one of them is a healer.
Motivation: Practicalities first, then pleasure.

Jackie Frost -- Jacqueline Tremblay is a tiny superhera from Canada with ice powers. She began as a figure skater and had a near-death experience on the ice. Now she can create ice anywhere and she fights with her skate blades. She has a slim, straight body with flat hip-to-waist ratio. She stands 5'1" and weighs 95 lbs. She fell in love with Fireheart, and they have a daughter on the way, Aurora, who is already showing superpowers.
Origin: While practicing on a frozen lake, Jacqueline tangled with another skater; she cut herself on the blades and nearly bled to death. The cold of the ice kept her from dying. After healing, Jacqueline discovered that she could produce and control ice.
Uniform: Figure skating dress in white and light blue with a snowflake pattern, and white ice skates. The dress is made of dexflan to cope with her powers.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Figure Skater, Good (+2) French-Canadian Culture, Good (+2) Skate Fighting, Good (+2) Women's Studies
Poor (-2) Little Bit of a Thing
Powers: Expert (+4) Ice Powers, Good (+2) Speed
Ice Powers is a meta-power that includes Create Ice (Signature Stunts: Frost Mirror, Frost Screen, Ice Path, Ice Shackles, Ice Slick), Control Ice, and Ice Body (Spin-Off Stunts: Ice Gauntlets, Skates of Ice). She is currently trying to spin off Ice Missiles from Create Ice, but her aim isn't good enough to hit anything yet.
Vulnerability: Always sensitive to heat, Jacqueline now has very little tolerance for anything much above room temperature. She feels tired and queasy in warm temperatures. At 80ºF she takes a downshift to her superpowers, and another downshift for every 10ºF above that. Her Qualities start downshifting at 90ºF.
Motivation: Protect and pursue the Arts.
Model: Tara Lipinski, figure skating, 5'1" 95 lbs.

Dust Devil (Tomi Grummons) -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and long brown hair with a little wave. He has a sweet, sad singing voice and a good memory. His heritage includes Lakota, Dakota, German, and Irish. As a young boy, he was taken from his family under dubious circumstances and placed in foster care, but never adopted. Being raised primarily by white people has made it difficult for him to reconnect with his past and his people, although he has tried.
Dust Devil is a supervillain who lived in Rapid City until it became intolerable. Unsiiciyapi is the virtue of humility; he doesn't get above himself. He enjoys making beaded bracelets and chokers, but his skill is no better than average. He is particularly vulnerable to alcohol, and gets even moodier when drunk. Dust Devil is the nemesis of Protean.
Origin: As a tween, he was playing in a trench at a construction zone where he'd been told not to be. Part of it collasped on him, and he nearly smothered. His superpowers manifested, allowing him to blow away the dirt and escape.
Uniform: On duty, he wears a brown krevel suit with fringe, and matching krevel boots. Off duty, he wears grungy blue-collar men's clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Flexible, Good (+2) Listener, Good (+2) Singer, Good (+2) Thief, Good (+2) Unsiiciyapi / Humility
Poor (-2) Moody
Powers: Good (+2) Dust Devil Powers (Signature Stunts: Blinding Cloud, Thieving Wind)
He can control both the wind and small particulate matter. His use of Dust Form is still only at Poor level.
Motivation: Survival.

Protean (Wallace Fedderson) -- He has fair skin, blue eyes, and short curly blond hair. He is nearsighted and wears glasses. He is a people pleaser, which is sometimes an asset and other times a liability. He hates being alone or cut off from supportive people. Wallace grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota and really loves the place. But it has gotten so bigoted and soup-hostile that he finally gave up and moved away.
Protean is the nemesis of Dust Devil, and has also tangled with Midnight Blitz. Because his superpower is primarily defensive, he relies a lot on his utility belt for offense, and stocks it with many useful gizmos.
Origin: As a child, he had some sensory issues and fussy behavior. Therapy intended to help him tolerate things triggered his Adaptation powers.
Uniform: White dexflan and krevel suit with black trim and a matching mask; plus a black utility belt that follows the V-line of the black trim at the hips, white gloves, and white boots. Off duty, he likes comfortable clothes, usually in dark colors.
Qualities: Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Geek Friends, Good (+2) Gizmologist, Good (+2) Honorable, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box
Poor (-2) Being Isolated
Powers: Good (+2) Adaptation
Motivation: To be liked.

Kayo (Buster Ullerich) -- He has fair skin, light brown eyes, and dark curly hair buzzed short except for a slightly longer mohawk strip. He has a triangular face with a wide forehead and pointy chin. His upper body is broad and strong. He enjoys boxing, wrestling, and other rough sports. He is studying to become a coach. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
As an athlete, he's popular at school, and never has trouble getting a date. Buster is heterosexual and not interested in long-term relationships, but well known for giving a girl a good time and he's not stingy either. He's actually a great date if what you want is a lobster salad and a highly experienced tongue job. (He knows how to find a clitoris and a G-spot.) Word gets around.
Kayo is aggressive, with a rough temper. He likes to think of himself as a superhero, but he's so heavy-handed that he is a vigilante at best and a supervillain at worst. He keeps an eye on his school but also patrols the streets of Omaha looking for petty crimes to bust up. Kayo is moralistic and focused on making people follow the rules, but he doesn't always follow them as well as he thinks he does. His nemesis is Shoestring.
Origin: A coach encouraged Buster to use a new brand of fortified protein powder that was supposed to improve muscle growth and strength. It sort of worked, but the superpowers would disqualify him from sports if anyone found out. So he is very much in the fuse box.
Uniform: On duty, Kayo wears a white dexflan jumpsuit under a red-and-white krevel letterman jacket. His mask is white dexflan reinforced with red krevel around the eyes, nose, and mouth. This is a decoy: his actual school colors are green and gold, which he often wears off-duty.
Qualities: Good (+2) Athlete, Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Knowledge of Female Anatomy, Good (+2) Popular, Good (+2) Teaching About Sports
Poor (-2) Dark Secret: Superpowers
Powers: Poor (-2) Super-Strength
Limitation: He has not yet developed much force or control with his superpower. Sometimes he hits harder than he means to, or breaks things just by handling them. Other times he can't quite manage the amount of oomph typical of strongmen. He can lift a heavy person, but he can't even lift a motorcycle, let alone a car. However, he does have the protective field that distinguishes Super-Strength from ordinary strength.
Motivation: To make people behave.

Shoestring (Raiden Dreyfuss) -- He has fair skin and dark blue eyes. His hair is straight and shaggy, cut so that the fringe falls over his eyes, and streaked in shades of lighter and darker golden blond. It bleaches lighter in the sun. He has a heart-shaped face with bright red lips. Raiden is a homeless teen struggling to eke out an existence in Omaha, Nebraska. He is a juvenile delinquent involved in such things as petty theft and squatting, but not actually all that good at it. On the bright side, his dexterity is good and he can use both hands with equal skill. His nemesis is Kayo.
Origin: Raiden never really fit in, and his increasing misbehavior as a teen led to his parents trying to break his will with increasingly harsh punishments. His power grew in slowly as he learned to stretch in order to reach such things as food or keys. Eventually he got good enough that he slide an arm under a locked door to open it from the outside. He escaped, ran away, and has been living on the street ever since.
Uniform: Street clothes. Raiden wears whatever he can find, steal, or scrounge money to buy from a thrift store. This often leaves him wearing clothes that don't match. He has a tendency to wear shoes tied with string instead of regular laces, and to use twine or rope instead of a belt.
Qualities: Good (+2) Ambidexterity, Good (+2) Concentration, Good (+2) Reading Body Language, Good (+2) Tolerance
Poor (-2) Homeless Teen
Powers: Average (0) Stretchy
Limitation: He has to concentrate in order to use his superpower. So far it has not activated automatically to save him from injury. He is best at stretching his arms, hands, and fingers which is what he uses the most; stretching other body parts functions at Poor (-2) level.
Motivation: "Just tryin' to get by."

* * *

Rivals often subscribe to the trope Only I Get to Defeat You.

The Terramagne version of this statue has the taller figure in a white cape, the shorter in black, and the title is "Nemesis."

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-14 04:47 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
<3

This was a good poem for me to read. The statue image is very powerful. I loved the 'native thumb' line. I enjoyed the survey aspect, although it might not be as accessible to people who haven't read as much of your other work. This seemed relevant to current events on a sort of meta level, but also timeless. More personally, I really appreciate the acknowledgement that interacting with someone consistently is a relationship even if it's adversarial, and that relationship can be shaped and bent in various ways.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-11-14 06:06 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Heh. I love Stan and Lawrence.

Buuuuut ... I have a quite irrational (because my rational mind thinks they are unhealthy) liking for somewhat more negative 'best enemy' relationships as well. Dunno what it is about shipteasing and vitriol that's so compelling to watch, except I think it is perverse in the literal sense - a push-pull of desire and dislike. For some reason, even though the 'tsundere' trope of a sexy character who combines overt dislike and barely-hidden romantic feelings for another character would seem to be made of this, I don't like it in the slightest - possibly because it reminds me of hypocritical social strategies of the sort attributed, sometimes rightly, to adolescent girls. But I can enjoy a good eternal rivalry whether or not there is a component of sexual/romantic attraction - what matters for me is that the adversaries grudgingly admire one another's mind, plans, or grit, are drawn together on that level while opposing one another's aims. I also like the 'friends across the battlefield' trope, which is related to this one and also at least distantly akin to the ethical mercenary.

I'd like to see more of Qwerty and Dvorak. Their relationship has the compelling connection between opponents, the deep underpinnings of conflict at the level of ethics and personal philosophy as well as personality type, AND a lighthearted quirky quality that is difficult (but for you, possible) to blend with that type of conflict. Also, it's unbalanced in power terms but not necessarily in effectiveness-as-a-person terms, which is more interesting to me than a stalemate.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-14 05:39 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
[personal profile] alatefeline speaks for me, too. A nice survey of many soups, but with some noticeable vacuum in their descriptions because we don't see them in action.

"Confusticator zap gun" — love that! Ah, 't comes back: "Confusticate and bebother these dwarves. Why don't they lend a hand?" ("An Unexpected Party")

Evidently Silencio's superpower is creating silence, but you don't describe it or make it explicit.

So Qwerty's only superpower is super-immunity?
• but so filled ^ determination that
^ with

"The Aikido Kid" would be the T-analog to "The Karate Kid". I can't associate "The Little Ninja" with any localverse movie, but did you know there is just such a movie in the works?

«Shirt Man is a traditional term for a warrior so adept that he went into battle protected only by his shirt, not a shield or any other armor. It works for offensive and defensive tactics.»
That's confusing, because the superpower is only given further down, and I saw no indication that this referred to a superpower till I hit the second sentence. I'm still not sure what the power consists of — invulnerability? — or how offensive vs. defensive even could make a difference in a power like that. If you can't be wounded in combat, then that's that.

"She Walks in Mist"? "Iron Horses"?

«The Ensemble have 7 named lieutenants and many faceless followers.» Contretemps' organization?

• Part of it collasped on him
→ collapsed

I looked up "Unsiiciyapi" to find that it's Lakota. (http://kalloch.org/lakota__four_values.htm, http://thesingingstone.com/tag/unsiiciyapi/)

So what are Protean's powers. Shapeshifting?

Kayo: Good (+2) Knowledge of Female Anatomy
That's a hoot!

• he slide an arm under a locked door
→ slid

That statue... so sad!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-14 04:13 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Have you read In Conquest Born by C.S. Friedman? There's a concept in it called k'airth v'sa (literal translation: "mate of the private war") which resonates here -- the opponent who matches you and pushes you to strip away and discard anything that might become a weakness in battle. I wrote a song about it:

K'AIRTH-V'SA
(Mate of the Private War)

Before my very birth, I was an object of suspicion –
I didn't look the way they said I should.
And all my life I've had to claw for everything I've needed
To battle you the way I knew I could.
And someday, my enemy, I'll kill you,
I'll be the one to end the ancient war.
The thought of killing you is all I dream of;
It's the only thing my life's worth living for.

I never had a brother or a sister or a friend;
I stood alone and watched my parents die.
And I've never had a lover, though I'm not afraid of men –
But something in me kills them when I try.
And someday, my enemy, I'll kill you;
My entire life is pointed toward that goal,
And perhaps I'll find relief when I kill you
From the heavy load of hate upon my soul.

I've taken out your agents on a dozen different worlds,
I've blown your finest fighters out of space;
And when you sued for peace I knew that now I had the chance
To finally exterminate your race.
And someday, my enemy, I'll kill you;
There's nothing that can ever hold me back.
Even though it comes to honor versus treason,
I'll find a way to reach you and attack.

But now the need to pairbond has betrayed me, and my body burns
With hunger for you and you alone,
So I've given you the power to consolidate your rule –
At a cost none of your kind has ever known.
And someday, my love, I will kill you;
What a pleasure it will be to watch you die.
But until that day, I'll leave you here to suffer;
Now you know the same loneliness as I.

Yes, the love of you will haunt me till you die.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-14 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] daisiesrockalot
Your link for the headband for Blazing Grass and for Protean and Shoestring have the %20https isssue.

I love Cacophony learning sign just to tell Silencio to fuck himself. Actually, for me that really shows how close that relationship is, you don't put that much time and effort into something unless you care in some way.

This just reminded me that I'd like to hear more about Vagary and Calliope :)

It's really cool to look at all these different relationships and see how they work (or don't). That also makes me think; did Contretemps know Jackie before or after Fireheart? If it was before, that could have been interesting when they had to 'renegotiate' whatever relationship they had to make it work for everyone.

Contretemps vs Jackie Frost

Date: 2016-11-14 07:21 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
Oh, Contretemps. Messing with a wedding day? BAD FORM. Ought to find a way to send a really good, traditional for the anniversary, anniversary gift or vacation. :-D (Hear quotes from Hook yelling bad form in my head.)

I think messing with a pregnant person got him probably punished enough. I have NO fond memories of how screwed up hormonally I was at the time, but my husband just practiced yes dear and ran out and got me the ingredients for the only new weird craving I had. New Kosher Cuisine, by Jeffrey Nathan, had a PBS show and I wanted the smoked whitefish and avocado wrap BADLY. NOW. And before that, I couldn't stand avocados or guacamole, now it's at least a weekly ingredient. :-D (RAOTFL)

Re: Contretemps vs Jackie Frost

Date: 2016-11-14 08:12 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
Avocados: green, mushy, weird texture. Now, I adore the velvety texture. I was seriously missing the RIGHT fats for me.

Not soapy taste for avocados, but I agree with Bruce about black walnuts. Picked them up as test, with common walnuts too, and my husband wants the black walnuts with Natasha, I have serious gag soap issue. Blech! Common walnuts for my charoset, thanks.

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