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The Adventures of "Fish Guy" (Superhero fiction)


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On 9/5/2020 at 4:26 PM, Hermit said:

Then there was Trailblazer. Jaw set, she moved nimbly through the ravine incinerating the dinosaurs, outracing their fastest members, weaving through the ashes, and going on to the next. She the curves and banks with surprising aplomb compared to her practice earlier. There were no missteps, and certainly no stumbles. Whenever she saw a citizen in need, she rushed to them to clear a path, "Hang on, I'll handle them!" 


She was almost a completely different hero there, and for the better. Had she been holding back during training?




Hmmm, someone who tends to overthink herself when she isn't in a situation where she doesn't have the time to second guess?


(yeah, I'm hit or miss, work has hit another exceptionally rough patch)

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The scepter charged up, pointed straight at me. I tried to focus, to make myself move but, to be honest, at the time I couldn't tell the difference between up and down let alone left and right. Then, in a blazing blur, Trailblazer shot past me and tried to grapple the scepter away from Subterranean Rex. Her speed let her get her hands on his wrist before he knew she was there.  The flames spiking from her grip caused him to snarl in pain. 


She almost pulled the disarm off. If she had more hand to hand training, if she hadn't been in something of a panic, I think she would have done it.

But Rex wasn't just a faux dinosaur controlling lunatic, he was able to bench press like an Olympic level weight lifter, and while not nearly up there with myself, it was more than enough to throw the girl to the side.


"That" He said with annoyance, "hurt. You've burned me, so it's only fair I obliterate you.You surface crawling peasant."


Villains tend to suffer from something a lot of folks call 'disproportionate revenge syndrome', two eyes for one eye, your entire family's safety for cutting them in line, that kind of thing. Subterranean Rex was no exception.


I'd come to my senses, and it was my chance to return the favor to Trailblazer for saving my bacon (Even if she had cooked said bacon first) but my reaction time wasn't at its best and even as I threw the punch to take this jerk down, about three things happened at once.


My fist connected with Subterranean Rex's jaw. This was good as I was not holding back much if at all. Rex could take it, and he'd endangered a lot of lives and I was not happy with him. 


The blast from the scepter nailed Trailblazer dead on. This, to my mind, was bad. Like in 'I'm about to lose a trainee to a blast that nearly knocked out Hussar in one shot' bad. 


But immediately, the third thing happened, the beam that had laid the winged tough guy low struck the flaming heroine and instead of killing her, seemed to diffuse and dissipate somewhat, and her flames grew brighter. Oh it still hurt her, she winced and all, but judging by the startled look at her now brighter flames, it surprised her more than it hurt.


"I'm okay!" She assured us, then looked at herself "I'm okay?" 


"He's not!" Hussar slammed down on the groaning villain, taking him into happy nappy time land with a downward punch. Hussar grinned at this, "That's right, Rex. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!"


"Hussar!" Valerosa snapped "The FLYING DINOSAURS!"


Just because the bad guy lost consciousness did not mean his creations running about had suddenly stopped. Pterodactyls were the only dinosaurs the ground crew hadn't taken out and three were left and flying in different directions. Not that the newbies knew this, but they wouldn't exist for long but it would be long enough to endanger innocent people.


"Damn it, Hussar," I snapped "Those were yours!" I made a mental note to get some more hover bikes or a jet pack or something to get more of us airborne soon.


Fortunately, Pogo's leaping powers could get her a lot of altitude, and she was already taking down one of the three remaining even as she called out "EVOLUTION FOR THE WIN!"


"Hey, I just took out the big bad!" Hussar protested.


"I had the guy" I said, "What I didn't have was flight."


"Gratitude problem" he muttered but flew off after the second one, to his credit, he smashed it pretty quickly.


"Uhm, are we extincting these things again?"   Bramble inquired. She had been hard at work getting the last innocents out of the sunken building , out of the pit, and then into their cars or at least safer locations.


"Long story short," I tried to set her mind in ease "They're not real dinosaurs. In 24 hours they break down completely into raw compounds that smells disturbingly like coconut shampoo."

"Peace of cake," Hussar gloated as he started to return.


I tried not to snap again, and merely pointed at the last Pterodactyl which by this point had gotten pretty far away, He needed to hustle to catch it.


Instead, he smugly said, "Watch this," Flew down near a deserted car, and hurled it at the last target!


It was a good throw, he had the distance, and damn if he didn't have the accuracy as the hybrid car tore through the last flying Faux-saur. 


Of course, anyone with sense, could see why he shouldn't have done that even if he was sure he'd hit it. Hussar, not having sense, grinned bigly, and started to pat himself on the back -
even before the car continued on at a slightly altered angle and crashed through the third floor of an office building that had nothing to do with this incident, until, of course, he had involved by sending a fuel efficient vehicle through a wall and large window.


I've been told by some that I can have a temper. Perhaps, but I pride myself on being able to contain it, or at least direct it. That said, had Hussar been within arm's reach of me at that moment, I honestly think I would grabbed two limbs, pulled hard, and made a very profane wish.


"Holy #$#$," Hussar gaped.


"Get your ass there and see if you killed someone!" I snarled at him, "My god, you're the reason the Gene pool needs a life guard!" I was already leaping towards the hovercyle.


Valerosa said "Pogo, watch Rex , Aspirant, Peep his brain see what he was up to."


Aspirant nodded, "Got it." He was pale, but focused. 

Pogo bit her lip, the nodded and moved to the downed villain.


Hussar's face was panicked. My insult didn't even register. In fact, I don't think anything after 'see if you killed someone' had been heard! With a burst of speed, he took wing straight there. 

Trailblazer wasn't far behind, muttering "Oh god oh god oh god."


Bramble was looking dazed at the very notion one of them might have just killed someone "I think I'm going to be sick."


"Later," Valerosa said, "Right now, we clean up our mess and pray that's all it is."


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On 9/12/2020 at 9:00 AM, Tom said:


Hmmm, someone who tends to overthink herself when she isn't in a situation where she doesn't have the time to second guess?


(yeah, I'm hit or miss, work has hit another exceptionally rough patch)



I shouldn't spoil things, but you're so close it's pretty much six on one hand half a dozen on the other

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His name was William Dirkly, and he was shaken. Given a hybrid vehicle just tore through the wall and window, utterly destroying the 'Hang in There' poster. The one with the kitten dangling from the tree? Yeah. I didn't know they still made those. They do.


But they're not car proof.


In the poster's defense, neither was the large window or the wall, nor was William's flattened desk! Thank God, William himself was not flattened, smashed, or filled with sharp chunks of debris. He had turned to make a 'three pointer' into the waste basket nearby when the fuel efficient vehicle shattered through said window, wall and poster and landed on his desk!


I arrived to discover this as Hussar and Trailblazer were helping the shaken Mister Dirkly. 


"But you're okay?" Hussar asked yet again, his eyes were wide. The winged strongman looked almost as shaken as William, perhaps even more scared. 

I wasn't sure that got him any points with me.


"Yes yes, I don't think I need to go the hospital. My god, that was close. It was so close," Dirkly said gazing at the damage.

"Yeah," Hussar said, his eyes darting to the damage.


"You should really see a doctor just in case," Trailblazer must have dismissed the excess energy around her. The wreath of flames normally at her edges was snuffed out, and given how she had somehow charged up when Rex had blasted her, I wondered what that said about her growing control.


Of course, her taking that blast and living was another thing we were going to talk about - Later.


"You heard him," Hussar said, sounding a bit strained, "He's fine. He's fine."


The way he said it sounded a bit like a mantra or chant, something to calm himself, to hold onto, to make real if he only repeated it enough times.


"I'll arrange an appointment later," Mister Dirkly said, smiling at Trailblazer, pretty women tend to make any guy, from office workers to construction crews, put on a brave face, "But I do feel fine. Truly." 

Mollified that he was going to get a professional look over, Trailblazer nodded calmly, then turned to see the rest of us coming in and said "oh, hello."


"I just don't understand  what villain threw the car through the wall anyway?" Mister Dirkly said.


And, it got really quiet for a second. I glanced over at Hussar, and said in a cool, controlled tone that I hoped hid my ire at his screw up, "Anything you want to say to Mister Dirkly, Hussar?"


Hussar's wings flared up, then seemed to collapse behind him and then he flushed and lowered his eyes, unable to meet the office worker's gaze, "Well, we.. we were fighting Subterranean Rex, this nut bar with dinosaurs?"


"He launched a car at my building?" Mister Dirkly asked stunned.


"Well, the car wasn't aimed at your building," Hussar's speaking stumbled, the words at risk of falling over themselves.


"Oh my goodness!!" the man said as if in realization, "You dodged it and it hit the building. Of course you did! Look, it's okay. I mean, who wants to be hit by a car? Are YOU okay?"


Hussar looked positively ill for a moment, "I have to go. Pardon me. So glad you're okay. Excuse me." He turned, spread his wings, and took flight.


I could only gape as Hussar flew out the very hole his mistake had created.


I was surprised, then I was angry all over again. That miserable coward! He nearly killed this man, and couldn't even fess up? 

Valerosa saw my jaw set, possibly she heard my teeth grind; regardless, I felt her fingers brush my arm and I got the hint, and forced myself to calm down.


I could have used the comm to tell Hussar to get his winged ass back here right now, but I didn't. I know that's not something that deserves a medal or anything, but at the time I felt like maybe a small medal would not be untoward.


"Mister Dirkly," Valerosa turned to talk to the man, even as she kept her fingers on my arm as if afraid I would vanish too if she didn't, "In truth this was poorly handled by us, in so far as our group's mistakes put you at risk. No doubt the building's owners are going to have words with us, but I have a card with New Samaritans contact information on it for your own personal use. We'll cover your medical if need be, and try to clarify if you have further questions later. We're all very glad you're all right. Right now, well, we have a supervillain we need to make sure goes to jail, and a team meeting," She said it all calmly, and smoothly, but still in a long stream before taking a breath, "is there anything else we can do for you before we go?"


"No, I don't think so," William replied, and smiled taking the card she offered, "Thank you."


"Let's move out," I told the others. I kept my own tone calm.


Which didn't stop Bramble from stage whispering as we started to exit, "Yeah, let's all mosey into the woodshed."


Trailblazer gulped when neither Valerosa or I corrected that statement.


Of course, we didn't head strait back to the base. I made sure the building wasn't going to collapse further. As best as my partial degree and look over could tell, it wasn't. And we rejoined Aspirant and Pogo to see them waving to the authorities who were even now carting  Subterranean Rex to the Tank where he'd be held in whatever area super-powered mad scientists are held in.

Pogo was talking as they waved, which is a little like saying the sun is shining during daylight hours. Aspirant was watching her as if she were the neatest thing since someone tried mixing pop rocks and soda barely getting a word in edgewise, and for that matter, not really trying to.


"... and that's why I say Tom Baker is my favorite doctor. I'm not trying to be a hipster or anything, you know? Folks act like if you go retro you're just showing off but I HAVE seen the entire series and it's so cool to meet a fellow fan and-" Then she looked up to see us, and, likely, the expression on my face, "Hi guys, oh god, did someone die?"


"Depends on how good Hussar's explanation is later," I said dryly, "What did we learn?"


"Oh Aspirant did this mind probe thingee on Rex and he just found out the oh but I should let him tell you," She nudged Aspirant, "This is your time to shine, you crazy diamond," She blushed, "I shouldn't have said that, I really don't get the context of the phrase I think I just saw the term in an internet forum once and I liked it. My mind's a sponge sometimes just sopping up everything and getting it all mixed up."


Aspirant looked tempted to say something to her about her mind, then wiped a smile away as he too saw our expressions and registered my threat to Hussar, "Rex was told the team was unprepared and paid to attack this place."


"Paid?" Valerosa blinked, "Since when does Subterranean Rex do Merc work? He sees himself as a genius destined to rule an underground dinosaur utopia. It's crazy, but it's consistent."

Aspirant continued, "It was another supervillain. One I never heard of. Another mad scientist type I'm guessing, or maybe not so mad, he buttered up Rex pretty well, flattered him. Talked about needing his help and welcoming his rule should he succeed."


"Did you get a name from the memory?" Valerosa asked.


"Yeah," the telepath answered, "Called himself Ophiotaurus. I can't really tell you what he looked like exactly with the gasmask, googles and such obscuring his face. No cape, but he kind of had a lab coat? I mean, it wasn't white.. oh and some weird bullsnake symbol on the lapels?"


"Bullsnake?" I said, perplexed enough to forget the bad mood I was in, "Well, that's got to mean something."


"Search me, but the Taurus part makes me think someone's doing an astrology gig," Valerosa said.


Then Bramble spoke up, "The Ophiotaurus was a part serpent part bull monster from Greek Mythology. Not much on it," She was looking at a smart phone, "But the internet mentions if you could kill it, and burn it, you could use it to kill the gods."


We all looked at her.

Bramble waved the phone about "What? We we don't actually need to KNOW things, we can just look it up."


"One thing we do need to know, or at least remember," Valerosa told her a touch testy, "Is not to wear trackable and hackable gear on our persons, or evidence of our secret identities in case we get knocked out."


"Oh," Bramble said, her wooden mask shifting and her tone denoting chagrin, "I kind of forgot." And she turned it off and slid it back into her waist band beneath the bark.


"Mabel did make everything easier," I said, then looked at Valerosa, "Someone is naming himself after a way to kill gods? "


"Maybe he's really big into Nietzsche?" Aspirant asked "I don't know. I was only reading Rex's thoughts, and that guy is gong show level crazy. I mean, digging through that mess was confusing and that was just specific tidbits. I didn't dare try to go into his origin story, because whatever drove him nuts might mess with me too and I don't trust my skill level on that. I'm not a psychologist after all."

"Not to be rude, but if someone drew us out, and we're superheroes, and he's named himself after a god killer, does that mean he thinks we're gods, or thinks we think we're gods?" Pogo said, "Not that I am. I'm pretty sure gods don't have to show up for a wedding every time some cousin you barely know decides to get married and get asked how her grades are and are you going pre-med or pre-law? My point is," she continued to ramble, "Seems like a pretty big coincidence otherwise, like a drive a truck through it big."


"Let's not talk about vehicles going through things right now," I grumbled, "But yes, it's something to consider."


"So back to base?" Trailblazer asked, "I mean, we caught the bad guy who was there, saved a lot of people, so everything went well. Uhm except the car through the window thing."

"And," Valerosa added, "That you set Eel on fire."


"Oh yeah, that," Trailblazer flushed.


"And, that phones can be tracked," Valerosa continued.


Bramble winced, "Got it. Got it."


"But other than that, and the car through the wall, just fine," Valerosa said, "Just wait till we watch the news. They'll love this." She said love in that way that made it clear that she meant the opposite.

"Ugh," Pogo made a sour face, "Channel three."


"What's wrong with Channel Three?" Bramble asked, perhaps glad to get off the phone bit.


"They're lying liars what lie," Ariana said imitating her only slightly older uncle.


I had to smile at that despite everything else, and piped up in my best Pinprick, "You tell them, Captain Thesaurus."


"What are they doing?" Aspirant said as we shifted our voices and smiled.


"Maybe they're possessed?" Trailblazer responded in a voice soft but not so soft we couldn't hear it.


"Maybe they'e snapped, this job is high stress level, I hear," Bramble observed.


And they all looked at Pogo, "I'll tell you what they're not doing, rookies,  they're not currently giving you all what for the mistakes made are they? I would let it ride," she advised in uncharacteristically direct fashion.


All three rookies with us seemed to let that sink in, and they shut up for the rest of the trip back to the base.

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Oh, this is good, Hermit.  This is all good!  I started with your original postings, back at the beginning of this thread (understandably intrigued by the eye-catching title), and just kept reading.  I've just now concluded with this most recent update, and I felt the need to tell you how thoroughly I enjoyed the tale.


I thoroughly enjoyed the tale 😉


It's a charming and refreshing story, in that it plays all the superhero tropes straight, but gives most of the characters (supers and otherwise) at least a little awareness of how large absurdity looms in their lives... and makes it clear that they accept that as the way life is.  The jokes are funny, the characters sound like real people... albeit gamer-type people, but it's not overwhelmingly obvious; if I didn't know this was a tale written by a gamer, I don't know that I'd have noticed it.  So refreshing to avoid yet another desperately "clever" deconstruction of the superhero genre, aimed at displaying its many aesthetic and moral failings; this is just a good story about a good man who happens to have powers, and works out how best to use them for the common good... and all in a most entertaining fashion.


I've read Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.  I own both, so I know what an effective metafictional story looks like.  I also know writers can deconstruct a genre without drowning their readers in the bottomless contempt with which they regard said genre -- but most don't; no, they're far too "woke" for that.  So thank-you, Hermit, for playing it straight; thanks for eschewing the empty sophistication and darkness of Rust Age comics, and giving us a superhero story about an actual hero.  I'm also a classic "Legion of Super-heroes" fan, and you can't play it much straighter than that!  I have to admit, though, my characters have always been more Common, Strong Code vs Killing types than the clearly Common, Total characters of the FishGuyverse -- but that probably makes mine ultimately less complex, and less sophisticated, as anything less than a Common, Total is a bit of a cheat for player conveniance.


Well done and many thanks; this story got me through a couple of very bad days.  I do hope there'll be more.



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13 minutes ago, Haven Walkur said:

Oh, this is good, Hermit.  This is all good!  I started with your original postings, back at the beginning of this thread (understandably intrigued by the eye-catching title), and just kept reading.  I've just now concluded with this most recent update, and I felt the need to tell you how thoroughly I enjoyed the tale.


I thoroughly enjoyed the tale 😉


It's a charming and refreshing story, in that it plays all the superhero tropes straight, but gives most of the characters (supers and otherwise) at least a little awareness of how large absurdity looms in their lives... and makes it clear that they accept that as the way life is.  The jokes are funny, the characters sound like real people... albeit gamer-type people, but it's not overwhelmingly obvious; if I didn't know this was a tale written by a gamer, I don't know that I'd have noticed it.  So refreshing to avoid yet another desperately "clever" deconstruction of the superhero genre, aimed at displaying its many aesthetic and moral failings; this is just a good story about a good man who happens to have powers, and works out how best to use them for the common good... and all in a most entertaining fashion.


I've read Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.  I own both, so I know what an effective metafictional story looks like.  I also know writers can deconstruct a genre without drowning their readers in the bottomless contempt with which they regard said genre -- but most don't; no, they're far too "woke" for that.  So thank-you, Hermit, for playing it straight; thanks for eschewing the empty sophistication and darkness of Rust Age comics, and giving us a superhero story about an actual hero.  I'm also a classic "Legion of Super-heroes" fan, and you can't play it much straighter than that!  I have to admit, though, my characters have always been more Common, Strong Code vs Killing types than the clearly Common, Total characters of the FishGuyverse -- but that probably makes mine ultimately less complex, and less sophisticated, as anything less than a Common, Total is a bit of a cheat for player conveniance.


Well done and many thanks; this story got me through a couple of very bad days.  I do hope there'll be more.





Okay, this is incredibly flattering AND helpful. Sometimes I'm not always sure what i'm doing right, and it's good to know what folks are liking. Thank you! I have to confess, while I have read some good deconstruction, I share you dislike of a lot of attempts. I prefer light hearted as a rule but hope I'm getting some good pathos in now and then. There are some down times here and there for the heroes, but over all I prefer not to want to feel like I need a strong drink after I read a comic book or game a champions campaign so guilty as charged and happily so. :)



8 hours ago, pinecone said:

Very nicely done.


5 hours ago, BoloOfEarth said:

Agreed.  (Though I'm surprised Hussar didn't cart the car out when he left - did they just leave it in Mr. Dirkly's office?)


I wonder what Aspirant would experience if he mind-probed Pogo.  I'll bet his head would be spinning.


Mmm a very good point. I may go back and edit signs of car REMOVAL. As that might seem a pretty important bit :) In my head Hussar had sort of thrown it out of the build, but I never actually wrote that.


As for Aspirant, well, let's just say he's attracted to more than Pogo's body 


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54 minutes ago, Lawnmower Boy said:

I repeat, more loudly, and without any intention of inflicting punishment (err. . . ) that you're on fire, Hermit. This one is really starting to recapture the magic of the first installments. 


You're saying my later installments sucked! *RAGE QUIT*




Glad you like the direction of this one! Hope it stays that way. No promises.   To be honest, a lot of credit probably goes to you guys for your support and input. I would just drive myself nuts trying to be all things to all people, but almost everyone humoring this endeavor has been cool about just seeing where I am/was going while still mentioning what they do like, which is just what I need. 


I have been very curious on how the 'new guys' are being received. Judging by the guesses going on about backgrounds and the like,  I think they've at least got folks curious.


Still no promises on the the Pogo saves the world Novella

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(This is a short bit but I figured better a little and keep it somewhat going than lose all steam- no pun intended)


Ariana and I had found a bit of escape in in jokes and nostalgia, but it was an escape that couldn't last. Still, it bought us both time to distance ourselves from residual anger over the screw ups and failings. 


"Shower?" I asked her "and talk?"


She looked at me, "Sadly, just shower and talk."


"Yeah," I didn't hide the disappointment in my tone. Soapy fun time would have to wait. We had too much to discuss.  She took lead, and we went to her room on the base. I closed the door and locked it behind us, and admired as she began to strip her costume off section by section. Even the best high tech fibers in the world don't stop you from sweating after a fight, and she sighed with a bit of relief as she began to get some air on the skin.


"Help me with the harness?" She asked, indicating the device laced around her torso that took her from partial to powerhouse. She could get it off herself, of course but it took a bit longer than the old belt. That was a good thing, because the belt was a bit too easy for enemies to remove as well or at least damage. The harness had redundancies-if one line got damaged another did double work, albeit on a faster energy drain.


"Gladly," I clicked one part in the back while she got the front, and she made another sound of release as she was free.


"That thing is worse than an unruly bra some days," She observed.


"I'll take your word for the judgment of the comparison," I smirked.


"Men are such jerks," she observed but smiled herself, and entered into the bathroom of her living quarters, leaving a trail of the rest of the costume. Hot water was soon jetting, and a glass door to the shower mixing with the rising steam to create a display all the more intriguing for the mystery of it.


"Sure you don't need help with all those hard to reach places?" I entreated. 


A soft chuckle, "As nice as that would be, we need to talk about the" she paused, looking for the kindest word, "-performance against Rex."

Well, that certainly killed any flirtation, but she was right. 


I took a breath "I kind of want to beat the leaving crap out of Hussar. He could have killed anyone in the car. Fortunately no one was in it. He could have killed Mister Dirkly. That's the opposite of what we're supposed to do."


"I've read the instruction manual," She replied in pretty dry tone for someone in a shower, "And I agree, Hussar is our main problem child. I'm hoping the near miss, or in this case near hit, has scared the stupid out of him."


"Well, it sure didn't scare the decency into him. He had a chance to go square with Mister Dirkly, and he chickened out," My own tone was one of disgust. 


"Yes, thank you for not yelling at him then and there," she observed behind the glass, "I think we've hit some of that baggage we were warned about. Still, haven't you ever reacted badly when your pride was on the line, or when you felt ashamed?"


I thought of how I had bristled at the Fish Guy nickname, how I'd blown up at Pinprick years ago, how I'd let it goad me more than once. How I'd defended an empty post office building and been informed I needed to prioritize. I remembered how I had let personal vendettas nearly get another hero killed. I recalled the many times I thought I got this, spurned help, only to wake up in a healing tank in the med-bay.


"Nothing comes to mind," I lied.


The shower door opened a crack, large enough for a showerhead to be aimed at me and spritz me in the face.


I dripped there for a second, then said "You disagree?"


"We've both done things for pride's sake. The throwing the car recklessly? THAT we can't have. The bout of shame and misleading that man? That's a lesser failing, and one we've all come close to in our own way," She motioned  "Get in the shower, I don't like those burns. Speaking of which, what about our OTHER problem child?"


"Trailblazer?" I said, and began to strip as well. Sadly, I could tell she wasn't asking me to join her so much as take my turn in the shower, "Yes, that was boneheaded, but nothing I couldn't survive." I said that, but winced as some burns did not take my costume coming off too quickly kindly, "I mean, we've all had a situation where we've caught friendly fire."


"That was literal fire," She points out, "And it was like lobbing a grenade into a wrestling ring just because someone else grabbed a chair. You weren't in danger until she decided to napalm you."


"It wasn't really like napalm, it didn't stick.... and I kind of want to see that wrestling match now," I confessed and I found myself shoved into the shower area even as she slid past me in a fashion that really made me want to hook her in after all. Alas, before you could say PG-13 rating, the steam was no longer covering her form but a towel was. It wasn't a large towel, but then she was a short woman.


"You know damn well what I mean, when it's on the line, she chokes," Valerosa says.


"Not at first," I said as I let the water run over me, my burn marks reducing as my quick healing kicked into overdrive, "When we first caught sight of her, she was acing it like a pro," I reminded her, "Going full tilt with no missteps, flames clearing a path. She was on her game. It was like a completely different hero from when she was being tested."


"Well, it sure as hell went to hell fast," She snorted, "So it's clearly not just the training room that's her problem. I wish I knew what WAS her problem. One minute she's on her own, kicking ass-"

I finished for her, "Then we're watching her tripping all over herself," I closed my eyes to let the water pound me in the face a bit, then I opened them again, "Wait.. hold on."

"Then we're WATCHING her trip all over herself," Ariana blurted, her mind racing to the same destination my own had.


I opened the shower door and said "Performance anxiety?"


"Stage fright?" She countered just as unsure, but both of us could see it.


"It's possible," We said at the same time, then broke out into grins.


I turned off the water, she tossed me a spare towel and we began to talk excitedly as I wrapped it around my waist, "That could be it."


"Too soon to be sure, but it's definitely a lead worth pursuing," Ariana said. "What about Hussar?"


"He rankles me," I admitted, "And I'm not entirely sure why, besides him being full of himself one minute then losing his backbone the next ,and nearly killing an innocent man."

"That last one is a wee bit hard to get around," Ariana said slipping into the harness and her spare costume, "Do we talk to him before or after the news?"


"After," I said, "I want to know what kind of damage control is in play from Channel 3."


She nodded, kissed me and handed me the spare costume of my own that I kept in her closet, "Besides, they need to meet the crazy monster that is , for good or ill, the Fourth Estate."

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"... before you could say PG-13 rating ..."  (chuckle)


I like these "behind the scenes" moments.  In my mind, they really flesh out the characters, make them more three-dimensional, and generally make them more likable and relatable as well.


I hope we'll get to actually 'see' the newbies seeing the news (at least some snippets if not a full scene of it) and not just character interaction immediately afterward. It could be interesting to see their reactions (all, not just Hussar's) to different bits and sources, including what Eel and Valerosa say and think.  Wonder how Eel will feel seeing things from the other side of the experience.  Or how Valerosa will act during it.  Eel's intro to Costa Sagarado's Fourth Estate was cathartic - will they let the same happen to the newbies, or will one or both get hard-nosed?  I hope it's the former.

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  • 3 weeks later...

(Hope this works for you, Bolo ;) (and others))


"Everyone, sit down, grab some popcorn," I told them.  It was not a request and they gave me the cautious side eye as I and Ariana handed out the popcorn bags and small bowls out. 


Hussar especially looked guarded, like he was ready for that punch I wanted to give him earlier, or maybe the chewing out he deserved. I suppose, on some level, they're not too far apart. I read somewhere that we are often wired to take corrections as an attack, something to do with instinctive concerns with our place in a tribal hierarchy. 


"Relax," I told them, trying to set them more at ease,"No one gets thrown off the Island tonight."


"What Island?" Bramble inquired.


"We have an Island?" Pogo said clueless as well, "Have you been holding out on us, Eel?"


"Not what I meant," I said "It's a reference to a TV Show ? Come on, you guys know the one-" I started to explain.


"Was this Show in colour?" Aspirant asked as if trying to narrow it down. 


"Of course it was in color!" I started to protest then realized that perhaps Aspirant was pulling my leg for his own amusement. 

I looked over at the love of my life, "I'm still young," I needed her to confirm it.


"It's okay," her eyes danced "I like older men."


"Reruns, have none of you ever heard of -"I caught myself "- sit down, share the popcorn, the news is about to start," I declared.

Viewpoint came in there, "Hasn't even started and we're already cranky?"


"Not us, just Eel," Trailblazer said helpfully.


There was, at that moment, nothing, absolutely nothing I couldn't have said that would not have been used against me in a jury by my social peers. So I kept my yap shut.

Fortunately, the show was about to start.


"Brandy Searlie with Costa Sagrado's own Super 3 news watch!" Brandy Searlie had taken to wearing glasses over her large blue eyes over the years. I suspected she didn't need them at all but wanted to appear more intellectual. Which is fine, there are stereotypes against blondes even today I suppose.


What wasn't fine was the fact she was a hack, an anti superhero hack posing as honest journalism.


"Boo!" Ariana threw a single popcorn at the screen. Her action causing the newbies to gape at her in confusion. The rest of us? We smiled.  Honestly, you could tell she and Valentino were related.


"What's worse than a superhero team that has grown arrogant, old, and complacent?" The newswoman asked the teleprompter I knew was just a bit off camera, "A group of untrained, rash and reckless rookies with the power to level the city they SAY they're protecting."


"Pardon me?" Aspirant's mouth was covered by his mask but I could tell he was slack jawed in surprise and offense. Being Canadian, it was polite surprise and offense, but still.

"Oh she did not!" Bramble didn't hide the outrage and while she was in her civilian clothes I noticed a fern in the corner writhe as if wind were blowing through it.


"We tried our best," Trailblazer protested to the screen as if the anchorwoman could hear her, or would care if she did.


Hussar stopped munching popcorn, and was looking at his feet. His wings , which  I expected to flare in defensive body language, had gone slack even droopy.


The reporter continued, "We have footage that is so full of follies and foibles, it would be amusing, if lives weren't being endangered by these clearly unprepared and ill-trained novices!"

And footage began to play with Searlie's spiteful visage now regulated to a corner box, while images of a car being thrown into glass. Then yours truly getting flambe-ed by Trailblazer, which surprised me, I didn't think they got a camera that close in. 


Trailblazer winced "I will never live that down."


"Wait a minute," Bramble , for one was not bowing down "This is out of order, and some stuff, like that bit with me running away while a camera gets attacked and someone saying 'oh my god'..there was no camera man there."


I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised it was Viewpoint, who spent time as both a celebrity and a spokesperson, who explained to us all, "Channel 3's got drones, and remote cameras,  that's why you didn't stop that dinosaur, it wasn't with a person, that voice was added on after. They need a better sound editor if they're going to pull that."


"She's a lying sack of-" Aspirant had joined in the anger, and not so polite this time.


"NOW, you got it," I said, "Insult away, throw popcorn. It'll make you feel better," I chucked one at the screen as her face became full size again, "And it's obvious she's a fraud, those glasses? Now there's a failed attempt at artificial intelligence."


I got a few laughs, which not only feed my ego, but seemed to draw them into the spirit of things.


"The fact that our city, is no longer important enough for the real heroes to look out for-" Brandy was saying.


Pogo interrupted whatever else she was going to say, "I don't think she gets to talk about what's real given I'm sure her nose still has stitch work from the plastic surgery."


Bramble smirked, then gave another look over "Wouldn't be surprised if a few more things got tweaked.. you know, for ratings."

"Ladies, ladies, this sort of woman trashing woman talk is counter productive to progress," Valerosa declared, "Unless it's her. She started it, trash her all you like."


More cheers, more jeers, more popcorn.


Hussar smiled at one or two lines, but each smile faded fast. And he really didn't join in.


Something in me I thought was busted, my give a dam, kicked in and I said to him, "If it helps, Channel 3 would take footage of a superhero saving a busload of nuns and try to twist it into some sort of religious bias or come on."

Hussar looked at me, "I screwed up. Twice. And-"


Then the TV volume seemed to go up, "-Nearly killing one Mr. William Dirkly."


"Wait, you're saying that nice young winged man is the one who threw the car at the building was in?" An image of Mr. Dirkly with a microphone in his face.


"How do you feel about nearly being killed by a so called superhero?" the interviewer they had switched to was a thin man I didn't recognize, but he said the word feel with all the drama of a shrink on a bad soap opera while making sure to really stress 'killed' too.


Hussar went pale as he watched.


"I thought the villain had done that," Mr. Dirkly said in a stunned tone.


"Some might say a villain did," The reporter got his jab in on Hussar, "But what do you say? A few feet more and you would have been dead."


Mr. Dirkly paled himself, then flushed and looked angry, very angry.


Hussar looked like he wanted to bolt again, but this time he stood to take it, whatever it would be.


That's when Wiliam Dirkly, mild mannered city dweller let loose a long breath, and crossed himself.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, a lot more Catholics are in this city than anywhere back home in North Carolina. Frankly, I still prefer the simpler protestant takes, but Ariana finds comfort in the extra ritual so we take turns. But whether one cares about that sort of thing or not, I think the J-Man would have been proud of William Dirkly and what he said next.


"I say, thank the lord no one was hurt, and I hope that Hussar is all right. I spoke to him, briefly. He made sure I was okay and was very concerned. While I misunderstood something, clearly, I see now why he must feel terrible. And I hope he realizes when I said I was all right. I meant it. Thank you, New Samaritans"


If Dirkly, pardon me, MISTER Dirkly, had grown a new head right out of his neck right then and there, the reporter would not have looked as surprised. He sputtered for a moment, then said "But you nearly died by a thrown car because of him. We have it on tape."


"Well, apparently I, and many other people could have died thanks to flesh eating dinosaur things  if NOT for him and his friends. I'm sure you have that on tape too. I'm not sure how that would be an improvement. Please excuse me, I'm going to be late for dinner," ANd with that he headed off camera.


The reporter, now in center shot again, tried to pass this off, "Clearly Mr. Dirkly is still rather dazed and shaken by his harrowing ordeal. Back to you, Brandy."

Brandy looked like she'd bitten into a chocolate chip cookie only to find out it was raisins. 


"Ha ha!" Trailblazer pointed and laughed at the TV.


"Good man," Bramble agreed, speaking of Mister Dirkly.

"I agree," Aspirant said, trying to imitate Worf from Star Trek "Such politeness in the face of fire, he must have CANADIAN Blood."


Pogo broke out laughing, which made him smile like he'd just whistled the sun out behind a cloud.


I turned to Hussar, "Sometimes, I'm really proud of the people in my adopted city and... Hussar?" 


Hussar was already down the hall and leaving anyway.


"What happened?" Valerosa inquired.


"I don't know, I thought he'd be happy. You let the others see the other channels.. I'm going after him," I said. 

She nodded, clearly impressed I was ready to support the guy.


In truth? While that was a part of it, another reason I was going was in case he flew off to kick a reporter in the ass or something.

I didn't yell at him to wait up, rather I broke into to a run. Because if he flew off now, no way would I catch him.


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Worked great for me.  :) 


Nicely done, Hermit.  (Though I'm surprised Channel 3 would have even aired the latter half of Mr. Dirkly's interview.  Maybe it was shown live and not subject to editing.)  You don't need to show all three news programs to cover well what you wanted to show, and I look forward to the upcoming chat between Eel and Hussar.


And I loved the "Canadian blood" line.   (And the justaposition with the mention of Worf.  Has me thinking of a Canadian Worf.  "Pardon me, if you don't mind I'm going to rip your head off now.  Thank you for your understanding.")

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

(At this rate, I'll finish in 2030 *facepalm*)


"You're packing?" I gathered from the large suitcase he was shoving things into. Frankly, I didn't remember that suitcase when he got here, I'd found Hussar in his room, and I have to confess, I was surprised. I kind of imagined him as going to the training area and beating things up when he got frustrated. Then again, maybe I was projecting there. 

Many was the time that I had either hit the combat simulators when I had a good mad on and no place to direct it. If I set it on easy I got my mad out, if I set it on difficult, my anger usually got me reckless and getting on my ass reminded me if I didn't take the driver's seat for my anger, my anger would take it on me.

"Wow, man, with your deductive powers it's amazing folks equate us strong types for musclebound morons," Hussar snorted and continued to pack. Obviously a lot of his clothes took his wings into account. 


Now sarcasm was a language I spoke,  and I chose to play it straight, "Tornado taught me a little about being a hard boiled detective type, though I never did get the hang of interrogating leggy blondes with Scandinavian surnames."


That was such a non-sequitur it threw him off for a moment and he paused in his packing to look at me trying to parse, no doubt, a lot of things. Was I such an idiot I didn't get he had insulted me? Was Tornado really a detective? And where might said leggy blondes be found so the younger generation could have a crack at them?


The answers were, in order, Nope, Yes, and forget it.


Instead, I used the break to ask a question of my own, "Why are you running?"

I had my theories, my guesswork, but it occurred to me that a lot of my biggest problems came from me assuming things too quickly. What was obvious to me, wasn't always the way. Mostly, I was trying to think 'What would Lady Obsidian do?'. I couldn't be Lady Obsidian, sex and age differences aside; she was a genius where as I was merely bright. But it was a good template to start with.


"Are you an idiot?" Hussar demanded. 

I was pretty sure he wouldn't say THAT to Lady Obsidian.

He elaborated, "I nearly killed the nicest guy in town, who appears to be running for some sort of sainthood. I'm here for less than a week and I'm already a disaster. I'm getting my ass handed to me in training, I lob a car through a building nearly kill that guy, and at least one of my instructors" he gave me a look, "hates my guts."


"I do not hate your guts," I told him though I worried the second or two I took to evaluate that internally showed.

"Right" He snorted with derision.

"I do sometimes want to slap you around a little," I confessed.

He bristled, and I mean that literally, his wings fluffing out as if to make his already impressive frame larger.


"BUT," I held up my hand before this could get profoundly stupid, "I don't hate you. You made a mistake, but nobody died, and the bad guy was foiled. People lived, that's the important thing. The man was right, if we hadn't been there, mistakes or not, those fake dinos would have torn through the town and killed a lot of people."


"That's the team motto around here?" He snorted again, "No one got eaten?"


"It's in the running," I said only half joking, "We've got like a half dozen we've tried. Pinprick's suggestion got shot down for profanity, Tornado's request for 'It's Samaritan time' complete with power poses was nixed by everyone, and I'll confess my own suggestion of "Do Good Great" did not last long."


"Do Good Great?" He looked at me like I was one of those guys shoving hard at a door clearly labeled 'Pull to Open'.


"Did not last long," I repeated a bit ruffled myself, "What, you think we should use Angel Man's old battle cry?"


"Screw Angel Man!" Hussar snapped with such heat I actually found myself backing up in surprise.


"Are you worried you won't live up to his legacy or something?" I was surprised but had to ask. I mean, you see it in fiction a lot, some clone discovers he's not the real so and so, feels like an imposter, and has to deal with it. Maybe this was Hussar's problem.


"His legacy? Man you have no clue do you?" Hussar had stopped stuffing clothes into his suitcase, in fact I think he'd forgotten what he was doing, he jerked a thumb at himself "I don't care if that #$## is three times the Super I am, I'm ten times the person he is."


It might have sounded like a boast except for that admission of Angel Man being a better super, and I noticed something; Hussar  called Angel Man a super. He did not call him a hero.


"Are we talking about the same Angel Man? A bit square, too silver age,  but kind of lovable and definitely saved a city three or four times? Showed up at Christmas Parades?" I inquired.


"No clue," he repeated with disdain, "Here, fine.. see for yourself," and he tossed me something, and I caught it smoothly even before realizing it was a Flash Drive of some sort, "You don't have to believe it. You want the original footage? Good luck. I don't know where they hid that. As far as the world is concerned this?" He pointed at the object in my hand, "Is probably altered footage, a deepfake or something." 


Then he lifted a brow, "Do I look computer savvy enough to pull that sort of stunt?"


This was going a bit fast for me, "Hold up," I told him, "You've got some sort of dirt on a superhero?"


"Just look. I didn't have to dirty anything up," he snorted, but was calmer now, calmer, but committed. 


Whatever was going on, it pulled Hussar out of his plans to leave town, so I wasn't about to argue, "Fine, watch it with me."


"I've seen it," He made a face, "Probably too often."


"One more time," I told him, "Because it sounds like I may owe you apology for any comparison."


I actually had no idea what it sounded like, but it seemed to pacify him, "Fine."


And I looked for something to play it.

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4 hours ago, Hermit said:

(At this rate, I'll finish in 2030 *facepalm*)


We're finishing up the Year from Hell, and you're down on yourself for not writing more?  You've had crap to deal with.  Cut yourself some slack, buddy. 


As to the content, I like, and am looking forward to the next installment.  Really curious what's on that drive, and how it came into his possession.

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  • 3 months later...
On 3/23/2021 at 10:52 AM, Hermit said:

You know how folks are always telling people they should have multiple back ups? 


Yeah they're right.



If you’ve been emailing pieces for proofreading, you may be able to reconstruct from your sent and deleted files.

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  • 3 months later...

(Arise, dead thread)

The flash drive was easy enough to install, it was a matter of what did I want to play it on? I'm a simple man in some ways, there was a screen in Hussar's own room and since we were here, I set it up. I thought about making a joke about getting the popcorn, but Hussar's focus on the screen made me realize that my humor would not be considered fitting or appropriate.


Not that I'm normally knocking my team mates dead in the aisles with my pithy banter. I can hold my own, but that's self defense in the world of super-teams. Some superhero groups are rumored to have borderline hazing like some Frat stereotype. If that's the case, I don't even want to think of the supervillain teams. Now come corporate owned and government teams have to abide by some very strict rules of behavior regarding interaction; rumors there indicate it can get tight and uncomfortable.  The New Samaritans? I'd like to think we're in a healthy center ground.


But even here, I had to find my niche in the group, and get with the program, make friends where I could, without losing my individuality while doing it. In the first month or so I felt like I put my foot in my mouth so often I had athlete's tongue. After awhile, they felt out my boundaries, I theirs and the rest, as they say is history. 

Being Co-Captain had hurled me back a bit. It wasn't just new people, it was a new position with folks I did not know. And Hussar and I were not getting along. I won't lie, a part of me had been tempted to tell him have a nice life, inform Lady Obsidian he just wasn't a team player, and let it go. But I don't like failing. I know, no one does, but pride, that selfish barbed sin that grooves into you and somehow you treasure it anyway, was telling me that I could do better than just waving goodbye to any rookie who annoyed me. It reflected on me, and how Lady Obsidian would look on me. Like I said, selfish pride.


The more noble reason, and just behind it, was that the world needed superheroes. It needed people with power to try to  do the right thing and make a positive difference. If Hussar could shape up, and (literally) fly right, he could help save lives not just in the case of supervillain attack but natural disasters, rescue of those lost on hiking trails, and a dozen other ways that I knew. So, pride be damned, I owed it to the hero he could be to get to know the man, jerk or not, that he was.


I'd been handed something that definitely registered with him. So, I quelled the humor and tried to turn on the attention and maybe even rev up the old empathy a bit. I was a rookie too, once-

A nobler, more earnest and dare I say? more lovable rookie, but that's neither here nor there.


"You got this set up yet or not? It's a flash drive, not rocket science," Hussar groused.


Okay, definitely more lovable. Then again, the only reason he was hanging around instead of leaving was that I had pushed for him to watch this one more time so I guess impatience is forgivable.


"Starting it up," I said giving it a dramatic pause "now."


The footage that unfolded was not smooth and continuous, it was three scenes back to back but quality and style varied.


I watched as a group of four black men in costumes gathered about a table. Their costumes, varied, but had two things in common, The outfits leaned towards the period, a bit more fringe for some, bold colors; less super fabric back then. Each had a stylized word, not large, on their shoulder costume, be it as a belt buckle, shoulder patch, the name Luke was on it, and a date or something? Given the grain and angle of the footage I was lucky to get that.


Hussar piped up "Notice that none of them have a full face mask? Heck some of them bared their arms. They wanted folks to notice they were black or was the term African American then? I don't know."


I had indeed noticed that and didn't mention that the guy with the rather bold afro over his mask was also a clue. Then they began talking.


"So we just hover around city hall?" One with a sunburst symbol on his chest asked, "Surely more than that's needed?"


"And we get ready to protect the protesters. No attacking the cops, but if they break out the hose, we bust the hose. If they send out the dogs again, we incapacitate the dogs..." A taller man started to elaborate, his costume's chest had a symbol that looked like a black shield design.


"And when the cops start beating on little girls and old women? " The third, no chest logo on his dark costume but bronze zig zag patterns on its upper arms and legs,  bristled with ire, "Brothers you know we're all good Christians here, but I have a problem with this."

"Then we take the hits" The fourth man in a purple cape says "We don't give the hits. Much as they deserve it. You all know damn well as soon as one super involves himself, blame, we're labeled villains. And it's not us who pays the price for that"


"I hear you," the  third man answered with a sour look, "See you at the march"


I knew these guys, or more accurately I knew of them. Super history was a hobby of mine long before I went in a college and that tip of your tongue feeling where you're sure you should have the answers you're searching for was jangling in my brain pan like you wouldn't believe.  Fortunately, I didn't need to come up with it myself as the scene flicked to its second part.


Cigarette smoke rose in spirals around a different table, better light with folders spread on out it. The images were clearer. Men in ill fitting suits, many of them with guns under jackets, the whole thing screamed government agents circa old school, "Footage of this meeting gives us nothing on the Widow's Sons. How are we going to keep these super-@##$ off the street?"


The word the guy was used wasn't the worst racial slur you could use, but he said it so casually, with such practiced ease, that yes, it caught me off guard. I suppose it shouldn't have, given the time period. 
"Their presence is going to embolden the non powered activists," Said another, and I realized that every guy around this table was of the Caucasian persuasion, "So yeah, we kind of need to."

"We could escalate, provoke a violent reaction?" Another said after putting his coffee down, "We saw on the footage, at least one of them might not be hard to press."


"Too big a risk, sure we could spin it as a peaceful protest being total bull and this proves it, but a violent protest if the ones without powers join leads to it's own complications in the short term," a cigarette was snuffed, I wondered if it was meant to be symbolic as the guy stated at the same time, "We need to bust them first, and make sure they're caught dead to rights."


There was an emphasis on the word evidence that I did not like. In fact I didn't like any of these guys. I'm not a detective like Tornado, but I could read between the lines well enough. They were talking set up.


"Please, like anyone is going to believe that it wasn't planted?" said the scrawniest man of the bunch confirmed my suspicions, "or whatever?"


"Relax," The guy who was taking lead dog position said, "We got an angel in our corner."


And I groaned "Oh sweet mother of mercy you've got to be kidding me. That son of a -"


"Oh wait, wait, you'll miss the star of our show, the gallant Angelman himself," Hussar said cutting me off, and it was wise that he did because the final section played.


This was the blurriest of all, staticky at points, images of a street scene, a winged figure who could be no other but Angel Man, beseeching and imploring someone "A hostage situation with..."

The sound was lost for a moment as the same four black supers from before came out, some more reluctantly than others and followed him. Once they were gone, a group of non descript men moved with uniform precision, slipping into the building they had left.  For just one moment, I saw the satchel one was carrying open up. Within it, a brief glimpse of something I thought I recognized, mostly from old war and espionage movies.

"They set them up," The history coming back to me now, "This is how the Widow's Sons ended up charged with a plot to blow up a police station, Angelman worked with those agents to plant the evidence."

"That's not all he did, but you won't find it on this tape," Hussar snorted but still, he looked impressed, "You actually researched this?"

"It was mentioned in Lady Obsidian's memoirs as a major influence on her life," And it was sinking in, hard, on why Hussar was of interest to her when others in the group were Partials now getting their boost "In the investigation, one superhero came forth claiming he had heard the Sons plotting it. The superhero was never identified, because he never had to bear witness. The trial was one of those guilty until proven innocent farces, but most of the country didn't realize that until years later. Years where four innocent men rotted in jail."

I didn't mention that I also knew how that protest the Widow's Sons were going to attend went down without superheroes. With their heroes accused, the protesters found the sympathy they might have gotten great reduced. Some backed out, the diehard went out. Water hoses, dogs, and night clubs used heavily, two people died; had the Widow's Sons been there? The Sons would have been a living barrier to all that. Two lives saved.

"But he would have," Hussar cursed and snapped, anger in very brief burst of body language, "That hypocritical ass would have put his hand on a bible, sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and then repeated the lies they wanted him to say. Angelman was a racist, and not even an honest one. So you see why I won't be taking that name, it's not because it's a cheesy ass name, which it is. It's because I hate the guy, and clone or not, I don't want to be anything like him."

Hussar looked like he wanted to drop kick the screen we had just watched through the wall. Then again, I thought as I looked down at my own hands which had tightened to fists, he wasn't the only that had angered. This so much wasn't about me, it was about four superheroes betrayed and wrongfully imprisoned for years. It was about a clone being told to be a hero like his genetic donor, but who knew the evil that donor had done. It was about a young black girl, a genius, who I suspect was related to one of those four innocent men, stepping up to take on a mantle of justice in an unjust moment in history. 

It was in no way about me.

So how come I felt utterly betrayed? Cheesy as he was, I had thought Angel Man was a good man. He and I claimed the same faith, and while I suspected superheroes would always have our  share of folks turning to a religion for clarity and spiritual assurance, he was one who was open about it. Heck, the guy was a role model for the longest time to many of the most devout heroes. And it turned out he didn't just have feet of clay, he had deliberately chosen evil while lecturing others on virtue.

I took a breath, and shoved that selfish child like anger away and remembered, The Widow's Sons also had faith. After all, they had taken their name from the Parable of the Unjust Judge and the Widow. 
I looked over at Hussar, "You were right."
His head turned, "About?"
"You're ten times the person Angel Man was," I told Hussar, "But that's a much lower bar than I thought it was. Stick around, work with us, we'll work with you."

Hussar was in a grown body, and despite assurances that he was mentally mature as well, it didn't change the fact he had a monkey on his back, a winged monkey at that, in the form of resentment  that he had been cast in the image of a fallen angel.

"Why?" Hussar's eyes look at my face as if he were trying to get some clue into my thoughts from my expression, which I hoped was one of sincere confidence.

"So the world will know you're not just the better person, but the better superhero," I smiled a bit, "Wouldn't you like to overshadow Angel Man so much folks go.. 'Angel Man who?'" I held out my hand.

His anger slipped as a smile escaped onto his lips at that, "Okay, that's …. petty, I'm tempted mind you, but it's petty. Got a non petty reason? And don't tell me you believe in me, we both know you've still got doubts."

Ouch. He was right, here I was with my hand out when I still wasn't sure. I looked down at my still outstretched hand, then looked Hussar straight in the eye, "Do it for the other guy. Do it for Mister Dirkly, you heard him on the TV: HE believes in you. He knows how you screwed up, and he still believes. I think that is worth a try. People like him putting their trust in people like us."
Hussar broke eye contact with me, a mix of emotions I didn't need to be an empath to guess at. Shame, introspection, rallying, and then finally resolve, "Fine, for Mister Dirkly."
And Hussar took my hand, we shook.

Then, of course, he had to ruin the moment "I still don't like you." 

"That's okay," I told him, just as prone to excessive honesty in times like these, "I still think you're a jackass, but now I know more of your reasons."  The hand clasp broke and I patted him on the back to motion him to return to the group.

"Yeah?" He said as we walked down the hall, "What's YOUR Excuse?"

"You've heard of luck? You're pushing it" I told him, but I smiled a bit to ease up the warning rather than answer something like 'a teaching job', "Come on," I told him, "The others are worried about you- believe it or not."

He snorted but more tension drained out of him as we made our way back to the others.

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