We're not dead and we're not gone, though Eric's recovery continues so, you know, that. BUT! We've been working diligently behind the scenes and have something to show for it!
Tad Gilstone was riding high. He was a popular comedian, talk show and quiz show host, and television producer whose career was in high gear. Sure, people like his road buddy Sutton Sheldon didn't much like the way he treated his girlfriends, and maybe he was ever so slightly incapable of giving a crap about anyone else, but those are survival techniques in show business. But, when some old garbage got churned back up and some kid hero he once mocked on his show Page View Review got national attention for her villain career... a career that could be traced right back to Gilstone's show, Tad Gilstone knew he needed damage control.
It's the comedy game, after all. Nobody cares, until you get caught punching down. But the questions remain... who's he apologizing to? And for that matter, will Leather take it the right way... or take offense?
Content warning: gaslighting, misogynistic behavior, extreme language, and feces.
“Because you’re not vain?”
“I’m simply not vain about my appearance. I’m still quite possibly the most arrogant human being you’ve ever met.”
“I dunno. I knew Colin Church before he died.”
Evan snorted. “Did you, now?”
“What does that mean?”
“Not much. But I won the only competition we ever had quite handily. He never quite forgave me for that.”
“You. Knew Colin Church.”
“Your father called me the smartest man he’d ever met, earlier today. He sent you to Riverside instead of Middlebury specifically so you could take classes from me. And you’re here now because I asked him to send you. Is it so unreasonable to think I might have met his employer at some point?”
“Our daughter Loredana is a parahuman, Evan. She chose to bluesuit. That’s fine. She gets to do that… for now, anyway. But the things we’re hammering out in those meetings… Evan, it’s not about Justice Wing or super heroes or even what happened in Europe or all the dead people. It’s about terrified prosahumans and what they might do out of fear, and every bit of it is pointed square at Danni. So no, Evan. There is no realistic alternative. I will die ten times in agony before I allow my daughter to spend the rest of her life hiding from her government and neighbors.” She took a slightly ragged breath. “So. Are there any questions, or have I made myself clear?”
“…okay, that’s dark. Dad… are you sure you’ve recovered enough to travel?” “I wasn’t physically injured, Tip.” “Yeah, well, Albescu didn’t take a swing for me for almost six years and didn’t connect when he did but I still have nightmares. You’re the one who told me PTSD was a thing, remember?”
He turned and begin writing on the board. “The Seelie Court, Elphyne, Tír na nóg, Avalon, Mag Mell, Emain Ablach, Álfheimr, Ryūgū-jō – all different names for different realms, each of which having some claim on being the true Fairyland, barring nomenclature or cultural differences… and all realms Sprite has literally visited. They are contradictory realms and yet they coexist.” Evan turned back around. “Reality, it seems, can withstand a few contradictions.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because if you don’t you are not a human being, you’re nothing but a little louse,” Jonathan replied.Astrid Lindgren, The Brothers Lionheart
“Oh my God, Mandy!” came a shout. Topaz. Of course it was Topaz. “Oh my God oh my God Mandy! Are you all right? Who did this to you? I'll tear them into kibble! What do you need? How can I help—”
“Teeny! Shh! Mandy? Mandy this is Hearth.” Dorian sounded… like Dorian. Warm. Caring. Concerned. And laser focused. “I haven’t been able to get over there yet, but I’ve gotten reports on your recovery. I think I can help balance out your residual neurological disruption before your abilities significantly reassert themselves—”
“Eighteen seconds!” That shout was Keira — Jetgirl. “I was eighteen seconds behind Hardesty, and she cheated! I scared the Hell out of those punks, I can tell you! They thought Lynette landed hard? They had no idea!”
“Aunt Mandy? Aunt Mandy?”
Mandy’s throat caught, tears beading unexpectedly in her eyes.
“Public? What possible good would it do me to go public? The public knows you’re scum, but you’re Vice-President anyway. They don't care. So what would I do? Go to the Police? Or the FBI? Or my old friends at the CIA? Why? What could – what would any of them do? No no. I wouldn’t go public.
“Of course I can,” Mandy said, quietly. “If it weren’t an inherent conflict of interest I’d represent them pro bono. I hate them. I hate them, Theriault.” Mandy managed to focus on the woman. “But do I sympathize? Of course I do.”
I just posted an important, if entirely administrative – and honestly, absolutely obvious set of details about my writing here and elsewhere up on the Patreon, free for the reading. I'll embed a PDF here, but if there should be a revision on the Patreon version, the Patreon version is to be considered correct unless… Continue reading Administrative: An important administrative detail that needs to be explicit.
The orange fire formed patterns along the clouds and in the sky — fractals twisting and playing and growing, a sound like a ball bearing rolling down a copper tube echoing in the street. I wondered how many of Holland’s neighbors were looking out their windows at the sound… looking up at the burning mandala of mathematics in the sky, and watching it flare a brighter orange…
With a crack, one corner of the fractal seemed to shatter, opening a hole to grey glowing nothing. A craft the size and shape of a tour bus fell through that hole, frost and ice cracking along its surface as it fell. It was at least a hundred meters up and falling, until six underbody turbofan vanes like the flyer’s snapped out and kicked hard to cushion the landing. Above it, the orange fire faded to nothing, even as the medical float leveled off and twisted down towards the ground.