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!
Only then I discover this cur has telepathically leached off my pain and aesthetic might in an effort of purest chicanery!
The first full length, history-spanning (all four eras!) Justice Wing novel is here!
"My point is… every day I was confused, or scared, or didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt ungrateful. So blessed with so much, and I couldn’t just live the life people expected from me. And then… then I started reading about you. Not just the pioneering aviator, or aeronautical engineer… but a woman who kept her own name after marriage. A woman who lived her life and when it was public may have been coy but she was also unashamed. I wanted that, so badly. I just wanted to be… me. And be happy. You helped me believe that was possible. And then… the Pentad made it real.” She took a deep breath. “And I believe you’re really the ghost of Amelia Earhart. I don’t know why, but I do. And it feels like this is my big chance say all this to you, and to thank you – for everything, as well as for the advice you’re giving me now.” She paused. “Even when that advice is full of crap.”
“Are you nuts!?” Orville shouted. “Are you seriously about to call down an orbital strike on yourself!?”
“Please,” Jetgirl muttered, kicking into full burn. “Sky-eye’s at ten thousand feet at the most. It’s hardly Low Earth Orbit. This is just a garden variety energy-weapon airstrike.”
Landing in his full grey tunic and uniform with the pink v-overlay, pink mask on his face, the man landed with arms spread wide. “I dare, Kitsune!” He moved into a fluid spelldance, protective fields spreading out to protect the civilians – he’d quietly warded them before, so Jetgirl knew these new ‘wards’ were just theatrics. “Last of my Order from a World that never was! Red Point of the Pentad of Guardians! Founding Excelsior and exemplar of life! I am the Heart and the Healing! I! Am! Hearth!”
“…oh God don’t do the catchphrase,” Jet muttered. “There are people here.”
“Because….” I looked off, down the street. “Because we live with you. Your kind. The heroes and the villains. We live with you and we thrill with you and sometimes we’re entertained by you and sometimes we’re terrified by you, but we don’t understand you. Not always.” I put my hands in my pockets. “Barbara Babcock’s a better reporter than I’ll ever be, but that’s just it. She reports on what Paragon and the rest of you do. Not on who you are. This… this is a chance to write about who you are.” I shrugged. “That’s too important to blow on a puff piece drooling over Leather in a PVC leotard.”
So, Leather’s just wrong?”
“Mm.” He leaned back. “She’s wrong headed. In a number of ways, really, but I’m thinking of a specific kind of thing, here. We don’t need villains to be heroes… but some villains like her? They need us to need them.”
“It’s how she sleeps at night. She wants to steal anything she likes without any consequences for it. She wants a certain standard of living. She wants to make the evening news. And she wants someone else to pay for it. But… she pretends to have a conscience. Not to you or me, mind. She’s deceiving herself. She knows that she should feel guilty unless she can find some justification. And what better justification than literally making heroes possible? If she decides she’s enabling heros to be heroic, then she can satisfy that fake conscience. Heroes inspire people and save lives but only so long as villains like her make heroes possible in the first place. Having settled that, she can go out and steal anything she wants and still sleep like a baby.” He shook his head. “That 'help?' I do not need, did not ask for, and vehemently oppose. Is that unambiguous enough for your purposes, Mister Chapman?”
"...whoever she was, she wasn’t a Steve. She clearly wasn’t a Steve. So you didn’t lie to me. I get that.” She took a breath. “Was it a good offer?”
“Amazing offer. You couldn’t match it.”
“Yeah, well. How screwed are you, now?”
He laughed, slightly. “Pretty screwed.”
“Hey spiky!” Leather shouted, tearing the box open and aside and lifting the Mountbatten Urn where it could be clearly seen. “Is this what you’re looking for? Huh?”
Darkhood skidded to a stop. “Leather! Put that down – gently! We can talk about this!”
“Yeah, about that? So not my style!” She giggled. “Think fast!”
I stared, my hands working my camera almost mechanically, as Leather did a forward in-air roll and flung the priceless urn out and away from herself, far over Darkhood’s head.
Part of being a norm hero — prosahuman! they heard Cozy Wight correct in the back of her head — meant constant physical training to keep up with the parahumans she dealt with on both sides of the aisle. DETAILS called it ‘discipline’ based super powers, which always made Crosspointe imagine a bunch of super-Dommes. And, admittedly, Crosspointe never missed with a whip.
But then, Crosspointe never missed. It was kind of their thing.
“You change your circumstances, so you change your role. You wear a different face.” The Steve took a deep breath. “I do it all the time. Every time I head into the field, I’m somebody else.”
“I can’t imagine that,” the blond said. “Just… flipping like that.”
“Sure you can,” the Steve said. “When you call your grandmother, your whole attitude changes — you even get more of a southern accent.”
“Well… sure… but—“
“We all do it. Everyone does. I just… do it more completely. And every Cowl or Cape and every Crook who keeps a secret identity does it every day. The masks are external. The change is internal.”