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[DC] Raven Lunacy (OC in Teen Titans)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ace Dreamer, May 15, 2020.

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  1. Diraniola

    Diraniola Not too sore, are you?

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    This should be scrying, unless you are replacing letters to make words seem more magykal.
     
  2. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    According to the sources I checked on, the word can be spelled either way. Someone wanting to be 'magykal', a while ago, is the reason for that? Spelling variation in Old English? I don't know...

    Thanks for the feedback.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  3. Threadmarks: Priest, Spirits and Healing - Episode 38
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 38

    Buddhist temple. In Japan. Injured Robin. On a prayer mat. What could go wrong?

    An ancient-looking place, with a, single, ancient-looking priest. One who'd already made Raven loose her temper. But, apparently knew a lot about demons, and 'spiritual' healing. Which I doubt involved mystic crystals and tarot cards. Though, possibly incense.

    The place seemed... restful, serene. Encouraging of contemplation and meditation. Almost without thinking about it I found myself sitting, on a prayer mat, across from the sitting priest, Robin lying between us. Raven, looking a bit reluctant, also takes a seat.

    My third eye opens, without any effort on my part. My spirit-sight shows me the priest's spirit standing-up, leaving his body behind. I glance over at Raven, and I think her eyes are following his spirit, as well.

    Robin looks... clenched, and his muscles keep tensing, then relaxing. Obviously exhausted, he's trying to resist something. But, nothing strange is visible, either physically or spiritually.

    For a moment my third eye cycles through other modes, but Robin's chi looks OK, there's no obvious magic, except his anti-possession amulet, and while I can see power sources in his utility belt, nothing is obviously active.

    I also catch a glimpse of the priest's chi, it's strong, but nothing like the sort of display that Master Roshi shows.

    The priest, who hasn't bothered to give us a name, spirit-walks around Robin. Looks thoughtful. Reaches down. Pokes him to no reaction. Leans down, whispers in his ear. Nothing. From somewhere, produces a megaphone. Looks at it. Shakes his head. Puts it away. Thinks for a few moments.

    Then, takes a swift step, and kicks Robin in the... fork. Guess the cup I think he wears isn't going to help him against spirit kicks.

    Robin sits-up, abruptly. Clutching himself, his eyes and mouth wide-open. But, he also stays lying on the floor. The priest grabs him, pulls him to his feet, hands him an ice-pack. Leans forward, whispers in his ear.

    And, suddenly Robin's dressed again. I did mention he was naked, didn't I? My mistake.

    Raven is stone-faced. There was not the smallest upwards twitch of the corner of her mouth. There was also not a faint whisper of "I'll have to remember that method". Nothing.

    Robin is making a swift recovery, and little seems greatly injured but his pride. He looks around, looks at Raven and I. The priest also looks at us. Raises one eyebrow. We can take the hint.

    Raven and I, stand-up, out of our bodies.

    ---

    Robin has leaned down, carefully watching all of us, waved his hand through his body, a couple of times. Relaxes a bit. "Just an illusion, then."

    "No..." Raven's not going to let him get away with that. "We're all standing here, in spirit form. Those are our real, physical bodies, sitting there. Or, in your case, lying. Tell me, do you feel any hunger, thirst, physical sensations at all?"

    Robin looks a little uncertain, licks his lips. "This could all be a magical trick?"

    "No." Raven is quite firm. "You collapsed in the Tower. Sugoi carried you here, to Japan. Yes, you've got your passports. This... gentleman here is a spiritual healer. I'm not... skilled in healing the spirit. Your problem almost certainly stems from the recent demon attack. And, your possession."

    Robin's wavering. Raven turns to me, "Could you show us images of what you saw of Robin's possession? You've got a better memory, than me, clearer, anyway. And, my vision of what happened would... show details Robin might be unhappy with."

    ---

    I'd paced out an area, the size of Robin's room. Fixed each location clearly in my mind. Then, taken Raven's word that I'd be able to produce a vision, in this place, so close to the physical.

    All seemed to OK. I suspected the priest was helping, in some way, maybe giving me permission. We watched us appear in Robin's room (I'd shifted the viewpoint, a bit, so I'm also visible), Raven thrust the golden spike though his forehead. Robin definitely winced, when he saw that. Then, when we returned physically, the actual exorcism (I skipped the boring set-up parts).

    "Very traditional", remarked the priest.

    Raven looked at Robin. "Why weren't you wearing your amulet? I know you wear it during the day. Everyone else was wearing their ones."

    And, Robin looks uncomfortable. "I... have trouble sleeping while wearing it. It... itches, irritates me, in a way I can't ignore."

    "Hmm." We look at the priest. "Why haven't you attuned it? Didn't your shamanic mentor teach you how to do that?"

    Robin looks puzzled. "I don't have a 'shamanic mentor'. I've no idea what you mean by 'attune'."

    The priest looks at the other two of us.

    "I think we have a clue."

    ---

    The priest explains shamanism, that some consider it the roots of all other religion. How they deal in spirits, and that spirits can be linked to humans to empower them. That Robin shows signs of so being empowered, in quite a major way. Which, he denies.

    "Where did you get those wings, on your back, then. The ones that look like blue tattoos?"

    I thought I'd seen something on his bare back, before he clothed his spirit...

    Robin looks uncomfortable. "It's... a secret."

    "Did your teacher, your mentor, tattoo you, using a secret ink recipe, which included your blood, in a ceremony, held at sunrise, after you'd fasted for three days, and not slept? Tell you the tattoo would soon disappear, so your secret wouldn't be revealed?"

    Robin looks shocked. "You're reading my mind!"

    Raven sighs. "It's one of the classical shaman initiation rituals. I can show you the books. He doesn't need to read your mind. Though, the invisible ink trick's new to me. Most shaman are very proud of their tattoos."

    Does the priest look a tiny bit smug? "I guessed that bit."

    Raven gives him the evil eye. He ignores it. I suspect there's more to his comment. He continues.

    "You are an untrained shaman. An open gate to the spirit world. Was your teacher trained in shamanic teaching?" He looks at Robin. "You don't know. I think it unlikely. They'd have explained the tradition that they were part of."

    He shakes his head. "You still doubt me." He starts counting on his fingers.

    "Your combat style. Based on quick movement. Avoiding or deflecting force. You wear bright colours, to distract your opponents from your hands. Your mind is quick, your senses sharp, your learning swift. All classic signs of someone empowered by a greater bird spirit. There was... a sacrifice, which led to you following your new path, someone or something very important to you. You made a solemn oath."

    Robin is looking shocked. I got the impression a nearly-invisible bird was whispering (twittering?) in the priest's ear. It seems to be linked to Robin, in some way. The priest continues.

    "A wise man never assumes he's the first to follow a path. Where did the path he walks come from?"

    ---

    Robin will put serious effort into meditation. It's not ideal, but, should help. Raven will weave him a spiritual... not seal, more like shirt. He'll be taught, in his dreams, to use that immaterial garment to cover his spirit. I didn't like the way she looked at me when she said the word 'taught'...

    The priest has done something, a bit like a spiritual skin graft, which should help the problem, for the moment. Has told Robin he should avoid 'skipping sleep'. Ha!

    And, Robin will be having some serious words with his teacher. Whoever he or she is. I'm carefully not thinking about that.

    That'll be fun...




    AN: Buddhism in Japan is an interesting subject, as is their attitude to spirits - humans can trouble spirits, as well as the other way around.

    AN: Thought you might be interested in cups...

    AN: Let's mention (Mysticism Warning) shamanism, again.

    AN: Told you he was one of those priests... Wasn't it fortunate they'd got a Robin to feed to him? :)
     
  4. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Is this a power that Robin masters (in some continuities) after becoming Nightwing? I suppose that boost would help him take Batman’s place as a successor.
     
  5. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    There's been a number of 'cuts' at Batman, and also at Robin as a secondary character, over the years. Batman has been messed-with by a lot of writers since the 1930s when he first appeared, and some have tried to make his skill-set, as starting from a clever potentially athletic boy, but with no super-powers, into someone who's a super-scientist, athletic martial artist and The World's Greatest Detective, make a little more sense.

    Be warned, the following may be considered 'spoilers' for some elements in future episodes.

    There's room in Batman's time-line for a lot of years of training from the original orphaning of Bruce Wayne to the Batman. Unfortunately, Dick Grayson appears to become Robin without a similar massive amount of training. And, you'd have to be very lucky to get a technical genius like Bruce Wayne, who is good in a awful lot of areas, when you adopt an orphaned circus acrobat. Fanatical dedication only gets you so far.

    There's been a number of claims of animal spirits being associated with the Batman and his enemies, by different writers. Probably the most obvious was the late 1980s Batman film and its sequels. Cat Woman seems to get cat powers and personality changes, the Penguin is tied to birds, Joker may have voodoo spirit connections (less sure about that last one). Gotham is often portrayed with occult or mythic elements; Slaughter Swamp is probably the most drastic part.

    The Batman also has a problem with hiding himself from super-senses of various sorts and being protected from magic. Stealth is rather important to him. The most obvious way to do that would be the more esoteric sides of martial arts, and/or, some of the arts of ninja or assassins. However, you have to dig quite deeply into weird martial arts or mystical ninja powers to get much in the way of defences from telepathy or magic. Also, that sort of stuff tends to be carefully guarded from outsiders. Assassins? Likely even worse than ninja masters to learn from. (Yes, I'm familiar with Ra's al Ghul; he's rather a late arrival as a source of Batman skills.)

    So, if Batman wants the protection following the shamanic arts doesn't seem stupid. Then, you need to take a boy and somehow give him a fragment of your skills. The temptation to try and find a way to bypass a decade-plus of hard training...

    Why 'Robin'? Well, you, as Batman, are already using a bat spirit, and you're unsure what would happen if you share that. And, there's many similarities between bats and birds, so a bird spirit makes sense, and hence a bird name.

    As far as I know the idea of Robin being an unknowing shaman is original. I don't think it's appeared in the comics. So, his future, maybe as Nightwing? Who knows?

    Fanfic? There's so much been written I'd be very surprised that the idea hasn't been explored, somewhere. But, if that's the case, I haven't seen it. Have you? If so, please drop me a link. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  6. Threadmarks: ruckin, Blade and Hugs - Episode 39
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 39

    Back at the Tower. From Japan. Fun trip. Pity there was no time for shopping.

    Actually, I would've liked to visit Akihabara, for the electronics, of course. There's rumours that if you went to the right places you could find robots, real ones, for sale. And, of course it's an otaku shrine, and, maybe I should pay a bit more attention to that stuff.

    I guess I could slip back, some night? Thirteen hours time difference would help. I had my Bank of Mammon card, to buy things.

    Before we left, with a... thoughtful Robin, the old priest had (of course!) some final comments.

    "While I'm glad to see your self-control is improving, lady not-goddess, maybe you should check the spiritual health of your student? She seems to have recently acquired a... spiritual affliction, not uncommon among shaman who over-reach themselves. Strange things start happening around them, not exactly bad luck, just strange."

    And he bowed. I could tell from looking at Raven that she wouldn't forget.

    Finally, as we set-up to leave, he whispered to me, "Keep on Truckin". Which, meant nothing to me at the time, but proved as strange as I expected (crumb-y?) when I looked it up later.

    A little embarrassing, Raven attached a strap to my belt, with a handle on the end. Told Robin to hold on to it, not let go. I guess she didn't trust he wouldn't wander-off as we walked the dimensions, seeing as he was conscious, this time.

    On the journey I'd politely requested he help me get in contact with a local university, make sure my medical skills were adequate to be team doctor. And, that he settle his issues with using the med-bay. Seeing as he was a 'captive audience'; though, only on a bit of our path where it's very unlikely we'd be overheard.

    I'm glad to report we didn't lose him.

    ---

    The team were pleased to greet us. Starfire wanted to know all about where we'd been, but seeing as Raven looked impatient I agreed to tell her, later. We're going to start regular team meditation sessions, after lunch, create a Meditation Room, usable by anyone, any-time, from which entertainment media and food are strictly banned.

    Beast Boy seemed a bit upset about that detail... But, first meditation session, later today. Raven was kind enough to say that once you really got the hang of it, assuming you weren't under extreme pressure, you could get the benefits, anywhere, any-time, without anyone else realising. Even Beast Boy didn't ask any silly questions.

    Starfire, in front of everyone, says she wants to improve her astral projection skills. Because, she didn't do a good enough job at fighting the imps. Cyborg says that he, honestly, didn't notice the imps, and Beast Boy looks like he wants to say something, but doesn't.

    And... It's off to training, with Robin and Master Roshi.

    ---

    Master Roshi looks at Robin. Holds out his hand. Asks Robin to punch it as hard as he can. He does.

    Then, shakes his head, tells Robin to go sleep until he's got a clear head. And, that he'll take this training session. I gulp.

    Robin's obviously reluctant, but agrees. And, I'm left with Master Roshi.

    "You look different. Stronger, more centred. And, you've picked-up your first curse. Excellent!"

    What's this about being cursed? I feel OK!

    He looks at me. "The boots are nice." Honestly, I don't puff-up, a little, with pride.

    "Why don't you show me what they can do?"

    I get to punch him, like Robin did. But, with me, he nods his head. Then kick his hand. He raises one eyebrow. Directs me to start attacking the combat dummies. Then, "Harder!".

    I attack without restraint, and... break a dummy. Wow. I didn't know I could do that.

    Then, I reveal the concealed boot knives. I didn't really want to, but if you can't show your teacher, who can you show? He gives me some hints on quickly drawing them, care and maintenance. I know most of the later, but it's nice to have it reinforced. Then, the knife I keep holstered, rear of my belt.

    I hand it to him, hilt towards him. Initially he doesn't take it, moves around it, inspects it carefully.

    "Not bad. A reasonable fit for you. But, it's not 'your knife'. You might want to think about making one, yourself, using whatever methods you're most happy with. Ceremonies, sleeping with it, you figure something out."

    "Now. I'll teach you the beginnings of the secret techniques. Which are only shared with those that are worthy. This one took me fifty years to learn properly. Watch as I demonstrate..."

    ---

    I lunch with... Terra's not around, so 'Kory'. Tell her of our journey, some of the strange dimensions we passed through, what little I saw of Tokyo. She obviously wants to talk. Something's troubling her.

    "My sister. Blackfire. That's an honour title, like mine, Starfire. We are both princesses, but are both in exile. An agreement to protect our home planet." I nod.

    "My sister had a, rare, childhood illness. Robbed her of the ability to fly, which is shared by all our people. I think it made her bitter. When we were trained, showed we were disciplined, no longer children, we were sent to gain our adult powers. It is something all our nobles do. Send their children, to the Psions, to be 'enhanced'. Yes, they are mad, but it's an old agreement, that they hold to. Almost all survive." She sighs.

    "I think my sister hoped it would give her the ability to fly. But, it didn't. And, she became more bitter. I think she blamed me, as the 'perfect sister'. It was... not good."

    She pauses.

    "While we were healing, Raven looked at Blackfire. She is changed. Raven thinks that she should now be able to fly. But, has lost all the other noble powers. I do not know what to think about this."

    So, I hug her.

    ---

    Talking to Victor. It's not really his area, but he'll loan me all his books on weapon-smithing. I'm going to make my own knife, then, maybe my own sword.

    I show him some of the salvage, that I'd... not made obvious. The sheet, black, metal. 'Bithral', which I think is short for 'black mithral'. And, the dureum film, that strange almost indestructible material that's about twenty-times the density of lead. Ask him about re-making my knife, from bithral.

    He tries to flex a bithral sheet, raises his eyebrow, says that should be interesting.

    So.

    Even more things to do...




    AN: Could be fun to visit Akihabara (Tokyo, Japan), but make sure you don't step on an otaku. :)

    AN: You really should know, Keep on Truckin.

    AN: Mithral, one of the things invented by Tolkien. Other colours of mithral? As well as black I've come across green, but only in things like D&D. Dureum is from Smith's Lensman books.

    AN: Then we get to Weaponsmith...
     
  7. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    In the comics from the 1980s, not sure which issue, Jason Todd once said "I'm Robin, and Robin gives me magic!"
     
  8. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Nice quote! Thanks.

    Reasonably sure that this isn't shamanic magic though... More the sort of 'magic' from the lyrics of 'Fame', where the reference "Remember my name, fame; I'm gonna live forever; I'm gonna learn how to fly, high" doesn't mean actually acquiring the super-powers of longevity and flight. :)

    Of course, in a DC Universe that may not be impossible... A significant reality hack to be powered by being famous, though... Ideally, not something you'd want to rely on. Plummeting can hurt...

    I recall seeing a fan theory that his surname was the German word for 'death', so he was planned to die from the start. Unfortunately. 'Todd' is not the same meaning as 'Tod', which seemed to have escaped them... 'Todd' likely comes from the Old English 'fox'...
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
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  9. Threadmarks: Melee, Manual, Med-bay and Mortal - Episode 40
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 40

    The next few days are a bit strange. There's multiple reports of fighting from the city, the team plus Terra go out, and rather than going with them I volunteer to stay in the Tower, with Cyborg carrying my experimental team radio. The idea is that we test it out, and, if they need me I can be called in.

    As it turns out, they don't. When they get there, to reported scenes of fighting, there's no one. Some blood, which Raven says is non-human, and Beast Boy's nose plus Robin's later tests agree. Signs of energy-weapon use, blackening, a small fire in one case. But, best guess was someone had swiftly but effectively cleaned-up the fight scene.

    Reports suggested men in combat armour fighting things described as 'demons'. So, are our enemies fighting among themselves? Hard to know.

    On the radio front, as I'd expected, lots of 'blind spots', communication black-outs, heavy interference. Without a lot of repeaters I couldn't see any choice except to use something enchanted. A pity, I'd really hoped to avoid that.

    ---

    Sort of a minor detail, but I've taken the time to go over robo-Blackfire's scans. Really interesting. The living bits match the layout of those on my fleshed Geo-bot, except for an interesting node where the effector nerves interface. My psychic sight sees a bright area, there, and, UV exposure of the skin makes it brighter. Hmm.

    There are some interesting differences in the scans of Starfire, not-corpse Blackfire, and robo-Blackfire. The genetics match, as expected, but there's some epigenetic changes in the non-robos. Might this be what the Psion 'enhancement' produces? Nurse seems to agree, but suggests tinkering with that sort of stuff can be... unwise.

    I've achieved my aim, though. Written a manual for robo-Blackfire, stored it in a format that, according to Starfire, many alien races should be able to figure-out. Included a small box of spares, for the things most likely to fail, instructions on the manufacture of all the non-living parts. Some useful self-maintenance tools.

    Funny thing, though. The chips that I described to Victor, that my father had designed, but I've not had any made in this world. Yet. The ones that allow my style of robot to work, indefinitely, without any external computing support. They're there, in robo-Blackfire. But, where did they come from?

    Another minor detail, yes, it's in her manual, but, I wonder if Blackfire will learn to make use of the powerful radios in her head?

    ---

    Now that I'm fitter I've been using my third eye, initially to carefully inspect the med-bay. I'd thought of going out, in my own time, poking around the city, seeing what I could see, but decided to start on a smaller scale. And, I wanted to spend more time with Nurf, when she didn't feel I was forced to be there. Being present if someone was brought-in injured, which fortunately didn't happen, was a pleasant side-effect.

    Mostly things seemed OK, though I made a few changes, beefed-up the emergency drainage pumps, into the sump, in case the place became flooded for some reason. Ran some thorough tests on the air flush-and-replace system. Found and repaired some broken ceramic tiling. Nothing major. The Synthesiser was amazingly useful for doing repair work, for example making whole tiles out of broken fragments.

    Something was niggling at me, though. I'd become quite familiar with Raven's wards, which protected the place. But, there were traces of her magic where I didn't expect it, in the actual medical hub. I think that the temporal acceleration magic had hidden it from me, before, but it felt like time magic, maybe mixed with something else that I didn't immediately recognise.

    I asked Nurf, but she hadn't a clue. Then, with her permission, I took a closer look. Took her physical body along, as a guide, and partly as a test. Dimension walking, into the inside of her medical hub. Very carefully selecting dimensions, so I could see the insides, while not physically interacting with them. Tricky. I backed-off, tried a different route, several times.

    I knew, in general terms, what I expected to find, as the hub was alch-tech. On the surface, everything looked good, when I checked the detail...

    The original design had been for a core of three 'auto doc' units, integrated to work together, supported by five, more restricted, healing systems. And, paired support systems, with some secondary bits to do things like food synthesis.

    However, there was now only one working auto doc, the others had been cannibalised for parts, and two working lesser healers. The support side, that was also barely working. Fortunately, all the power systems looked good, including one that I really didn't understand.

    And, I don't have the skill to safely do repairs.

    "Did you know about this, Nurf?"

    "Of course. I'm a medical technician, I can do basic repairs, swap modules around, but nothing lasts forever. The system works, and I'd hoped some of your salvage could be put to good use."

    "Right. I'll have to do a thorough inventory. Consider what could be broken-down for parts. Pity, I like the Synthesiser, but if bits of it are needed for you..."

    Nurf looks unhappy. "I hope that wont be needed. I could see how cheerful it made you. Can't you get parts elsewhere?"

    "Hmm. I've seen no evidence this sort of technology is known in this world. And, I'm very reluctant to ask Raven for further help, given other choices. There's a feeling of... consequences in doing that. I can think of two other possibilities, though. I'll work on it." I look directly at her, in the strange dimension space we're in.

    "Nurf? Do you feel OK?"

    "I... I'm not in contact with my larger self, am I? I... live in that computing system, there. This is strange." She thinks for a few moments.

    "Does this mean I can leave the med-bay? Wander around the Tower? Visit the outside world?"

    "Yes. I'm pretty sure it does."

    ---

    When we returned to the med-bay, physically, dimensionally, avatar Nurf, on the screen, was obviously worried. Remote Nurf, the metre-tall person who'd gone with me, was also concerned, but, she went and lay in a med-bed. After about ten minutes the avatar said they'd resynchronised. Something she thought they could probably do quicker in future, maybe even learn to do without a med-bed.

    Remote Nurf got up, and, apparently they were firmly linked again. I got the impression they planned to see what distance limits applied.

    I was, again, being niggled with something. I'd been distracted by the repair issues, but on some level I'd also been looking at the magic. Raven's magic. The time and other stuff. It was particularly strong in the single working auto doc.

    The last time I'd felt anything like that was when Raven opened the dimensional gateway. In the wall of her 'training' (personal) room. Took Robin and I off to that strange training place...

    ---

    I'd asked Raven. At our next training meet. In her room. About the strange magic. She seemed... pleased.

    "Good! I'd wondered if you'd spot that. I'm guessing you'd like an explanation?"

    "Please..."

    She thinks for few moments.

    "I searched, for a long time, for something which fitted our needs. Medical systems like that are often tied into the destiny of many beings, so, finding one that was 'free' was difficult. I could only find broken ones." She sighs.

    "So, I looked really carefully at a broken one far isolated from any beings. Lost in 'deep space'. Then, I walked up and down that time-line, searching for... possibilities, it might be best to call them. Very few time-lines are 'pure', there are almost always choices, never taken, which boil-off, dissipate." She floats a goblet over, pours water into it from a jug, drinks. I suspect she uses the pause to ponder, a bit.

    "Then, I interfered with destiny. Took some of those off-shoots, strengthened them, wove them back into the time-line. Ones that kept the medical system working, long after it would have failed. Why didn't I just go in, 'acquire' it, before the first major failure? My... instincts were that was a really bad idea. In magic, sometimes, you need to trust your instincts." And, she nods, firmly.

    "It was a balancing act, I worked-out later, between attracting the wrong sort of attention and getting a working system. Best as I can figure-out, it all took me several months, of my time." She coughs into her fist.

    "You'll recall, that, from watching the pony world, until you first enter a world never-visited before, you can wander, timelessly, up and down it's time-line." She looks at me.

    "Thank you." She waves it off.

    "It was an interesting and educational exercise. And, after all, I wasn't getting any older."

    "On that subject, yes, thank you for explaining, but... Am I getting any older?"

    "No. You're not. Part of the conditions I set in your initial summoning. Though, I'd recommend anchoring that in your meta-psyche. I'll loan you a book."

    "Thank you."




    AN: Bit of a background, back-fill, episode. But, I thought it was fun! :)

    AN: So, it's all in the genes, the DNA? Well... You might want to look at epigenetics...

    AN: I really don't know why I should be referencing Bell's Theorem... (Actually, it's to do with ideas about reality being 'fuzzy'... And, maybe when someone gives you a list of alternatives, try saying 'all of the above'.)
     
  10. Extras: Raven Lunacy, Author Omake 4
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Author Omake 4

    AN: This is an 'Author Omake', this one happens to be 'canon', but shouldn't (greatly) impact the overall story, so you can skip it if you want to. It overlaps Episode 40.

    ---

    We're trapped. There's no prospect of escape. The enemy is implacable. What can we do? Surrender seems to be the only option.

    Kory has decided there'll be a 'girl's night out'.

    This will involve dressing in suitable going-out clothes (Raven, followed by me, have refused 'party' clothes) and seeing the sights of the city. Some eating, some dancing, that sort of thing.

    I get the impression this is both to welcome Terra to the team (apparently we're to call her 'Tara'), and cheer-up Kory after the incident with her sister.

    Kory will be wearing the 'image modulator' that Raven has persuaded her is a 'gift' from her sister. That it's a tiny payment towards what she did hasn't been discussed. At all.

    Raven will be dressed as a 'civilian', use a minor magical talisman to hide her forehead mark, and will be using her improved self-control to keep her skin from going grey.

    She'll be 'Rav' for the evening - 'Rachel' is not a name she chooses to use except for rare need in official paperwork. Privately, she also tells me she dislikes the surname 'Roth', as she thinks it sounds too much like 'Wrath', a reminder of her father.

    Me? I'm sort of along for the ride.

    ---

    That this all involved some shopping to obtain the going-out clothes was a mere detail. Not something Kory had thought of. At all.

    Raven has insisted on sensible shoes, though she doesn't object to them being 'smart'. I quite agree - if I can't wear my boots I still want something I can run in. Terra, sorry, 'Tara' listens to our comments and says anything with significant heels will interfere with good dancing.

    And, no cheating with flight is allowed for the evening. Particularly as her variety is a little... more obvious than ours.

    So, we shop. And, survive that without undue pain.

    ---

    The sight-seeing is fun. The food is good. The dancing... OK, there may have been just a tiny bit of martial arts or Tai Chi moves in my free-form dance style. I avoided any acrobatics, though.

    In a quiet way I think Raven enjoyed herself, as well.

    Tara and Kory bonded. Tara talking of some of the strange places she'd seen around the world, focusing on the food and cultural side, avoiding the violence that we were pretty sure she'd experienced.

    I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

    The 'boys' had apparently been having a gaming night, which they'd forcibly dragged Robin into. Sensible, as he really didn't relax enough. I expect Master Roshi found something to occupy himself, and Kory has loaned Nurf some new books.

    I caught myself thinking about Oracle, at one point. We'd often talked late into the evening, and I was pretty sure she was lonely. Wondered if she'd enjoy a night-out like this.

    But, she was an intensely private person, so, maybe not.

    ---

    Walking back, through a convenient alleyway. Maybe we should've known better? But, it was clean, and nicely decorated with hanging flower-baskets.

    A ghostly figure steps out from a wall. The brick-work pattern clear though his old-fashioned clothes. Maybe... Did he look like a pirate?

    "I hope you ladies dined well, this fine evening. For now, I will dine, on your fear!"

    We look at each other. Raven goes to step forward, but Kory holds out her hand.

    "My evening. I arranged things."

    She steps forwards, miming cracking her knuckles.

    The... ghost pirate doesn't look at all troubled.

    "You cannot harm me! I'm a spirit! But, you, my pretties, I can harm you!"

    Kory half-turns, looks at us. Steps back towards us. Floats into a sitting position in the air.

    The ghost is beginning to look a little... concerned.

    Then, Kory's spirit floats out of her body. It all it's glorious orange-skinned battle array. Draws her sword. Swishes it, experimentally. Grins at the pirate.

    Strides forwards. Through the air.

    ---

    There's a whimpering mass of pirate on the ground. Kory generously only used the flat of her blade. She did fence with him, for a while. But, it was quickly clear who was more skilled.

    Raven's shadow, which has been carefully impersonating a more conventional one, all evening, reaches out a tendril. And, the pirate is gone.

    I am not envious of the way Kory neatly slides back into her body, without losing combat awareness. I'm quite firm on that point. I pay attention to Raven being generous enough to tell us what she's done.

    "Just a temporary binding. I'll see to sending him somewhere more permanent, later. May have to search out his spirit-anchors. Shouldn't take much effort." She half-sighs.

    "Kory? Do you mind? I think I'd like to walk on a beach. In bare feet?"

    So, we do.




    AN: San Francisco has very many entertainment possibilities... But, there is history.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  11. Threadmarks: Shopping, Goblin and Bear - Episode 41
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 41

    Night shopping. In daylight. England. Japan. No planes involved.

    I've been, not quite, abusing my d-walk ability. 'Not quite' because a phone call to the Bank of Mammon arranged me 'unconventional traveller' visas for those two countries. Apparently many countries recognise super-powers mean that conventional borders, of land, water or after air travel aren't... practically feasible. So, the visa system keeps them happy. Particularly as I've a passport for both those countries.

    Time zones explain the business of me shopping in daylight when it's night at the Tower; eight-hours to England, thirteen the other way to Japan. I recall reading about how international phone calls, and before them telegrams, greatly confused many. Then, later, air travel. And, though this world hasn't got it, yet, the Internet.

    I'd considered acquiring a snapshot of the Internet, in a box, via the Bank of Mammon. I doubt it'd be cheap, but, say, a copy taken a moment after midnight, Saturday 1st January 2000CE, from a 'classic' Earth, could be remarkably useful. Not something you show to the locals, though... On balance, seemed best to avoid the risk.

    England, a visit to Foyles bookshop. The central London one. Any English book I wanted would be there, and a lot of others, too. My main aim was to get a full set of 'A' Level science books, including maths, as well as books covering the subjects those built on. A full teach-yourself-German course. And, for a lark, the complete (fictional) works of Isaac Asimov. Why? Because.

    Coming in over London, out of physical phase, but seeing everything clearly. Quite an experience. Third eye open, looking for any signs I'd been spotted. Fascinating flows of chi, across the capital, the 'buzz', but I appeared to have gotten away with it. Robe to neck-scarf, cash machine visit. Ready to shop!

    ---

    Next trip I might try and see the sights. Tower of London, Parliament Square, Nelson's Column. The Science Museum? Maybe visit the Houses of Parliament, if they're open to that. It'd be nice to check what's in the Docklands, where my Dad... No. Let's avoid that. I really don't want to risk meeting a local version of him.

    So. I shop.

    I'd have liked more books, but, I had four full carrier-bags, and more seemed... unwise. Yes, I'd gone a bit overboard. They'd have delivered, for me, but I wasn't having that. I want my books!

    Struggle to a taxi, taxi to Kings Cross train station. Books in left-luggage locker. I'd noticed that transport hubs had more dimensional 'paths', though, you saw a lot more people, not all of them human, on them.

    Focus on looking like someone else, settle on a mix of Master Roshi and the Buddhist priest. A quick glance in a train station mirror and, with my hood up, I don't recognise myself!

    Yes, it does occur to me, make my hands look suitably wrinkled, as well.

    So, back home to the Tower with a single bag of books, return trip and a second bag, then, I thought I'd got a good route, so, two bags on my last run. I must ask Raven how she can just produce things from behind her back... And, how her robe-pockets never bulge...

    ---

    I've still got reasonable energy and time left, so, a brief shelving of books, a refreshment break, and I'm off to Japan. I hurry, which may not've been wise, some of my short-cuts are really not nice places. Raven-supplied robe and the ability to levitate/fly avoids a lot of issues.

    Though, I didn't appreciate the sulphur fumes... Pity I gave Raven her life-support bracelet back.

    A little problem on arrival.

    But, fortunately I spot the goblin who arrives in my wake. He (I'm guessing here) refuses my generous offer to take him back where he came from, and, waves a knife. A few careful blows and he's more cooperative. Then, hands bound behind his back, a gag to handle attempted biting, and we're d-walking again.

    Looking at his chi-flows, and magical aura, I can make a pretty good guess which world I passed through was his home. A step away from there I de-gag him. Much grovelling ensues. Going home is apparently a death sentence, he thought I looked somewhat human, and, he'd heard stories of good eating in the human world.

    Presumably why he learned (poor) Japanese. Eating what, he didn't say.

    We cast about a bit, I find somewhere we agree doesn't look too bad, a sort of dark wood with magical overtones. And, he gets to stay. I hope this wasn't a bad mistake... Then, I realise, I still look elderly, and maybe male. I need to learn to disguise my voice...

    ---

    Akihabara.

    It's as good as the stories. And, yes, there's otaku. I'm back in my normal guise, robe-as-scarf, but... I'm photographed more than once. I'd just been asking where to find old-style robots, when I turned and was snapped several times, by several different people. Young men. I hope that hasn't got any consequences, they did seem so pleased as they hurried off...

    I do buy some books, manga, focusing on robots and martial arts. Not that many. Got some funny looks from the bookseller. I firmly decide that their preconceptions are their problem. Then, finally, after electronics shop browsing, get to the robots.

    ---

    It looks like a junk shop, ancient adverts, mostly for fictional robot shows, window crammed with certainly not-new robots and related electronics. A musty smell, inside, and, just detectable, resin from hot solder, and ozone. Initially no one greets me, so I step in the door, look around. I'm pretty sure I'm being watched. My tech-sight kicks-in, and I can see scanning beams flicking over me, a metal-detector field, and, something more exotic, looks like... A smart-gun targeting system???

    I don't think it likely anything here will injure me, but, that failure might produce a poor response. So, I look for anything interesting. There's a trickle of power in a badly-damaged robot bear, off to one side. I move over, crouch a little, inspect. Looks like a Japanese... version of a Teddy Ruxpin?

    This bear's had a hard time. One good eye, the other is half-missing. Fur that looks like it's been in a fire, all down one side. But, still, somehow I can tell it's cross-eyed. And, he's got a tiny, silver, cross, on a chain. Funny thing, the bear has a faint chi-aura. Maybe a spiritual one? And, it's watching me. I need to know more...

    ---

    The (predictably) ancient shopkeeper isn't much of a surprise, as he shuffles up behind me. I turn, nod politely. Looks me over, in a... calculating way. As if I've passed some sort of test. His eyes look remarkably young.

    "Like him? He watches the shop for me."

    A wild guess. "It is good that this shop has a spirit to guard it."

    His eyes widen, then narrow. "You are not what you seem. Good. Neither am I."

    He half-turns, looks at me.

    "Well? Are you coming into the real shop?"




    AN: Yes, Internet-in-a-Box exists. Though, Geo's thinking of something more drastic...

    AN: The place to visit for books: Foyles bookshop. Geo wanted (mostly) 'A' Level books. Also, The Science Museum.

    AN: I wonder why Geo's interested in this author? :)

    AN: Kings Cross; more somewhere you pass through rather than visit...

    AN: Just to repeat this, Akihabara (Tokyo, Japan), and otaku.

    AN: Smart guns are particularly known in cyberpunk...

    AN: Teddy Ruxpin, because you want to know...
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  12. Threadmarks: Bear, Robots and Offer - Episode 42
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 42

    OK. I'm in Tokyo. The robot shop. Stepped-through a bead curtain. And I'm standing, very still.

    Why? Because I can see three smart-guns pointing at me. And, the holes at the end of the barrels look very big.

    Good thing I don't have 'danger sense'. Because, if I did, it'd be screaming very loudly at me.

    ---

    Funny thing, I'm more annoyed than scared.

    Even though my robe is in scarf-mode it should still stop anything less than an anti-tank round. I think. Yes, I'll be knocked around. But, I wont be really hurt. And, from my limited knowledge of guns, those look a lot more like shotguns, maybe with solid slugs, but, still not tank-killers.

    Annoyed. So.

    "I count three guns that I can see, pointed at me. That's rude, not to mention highly illegal in Japan. You really don't want me to prove how much I dislike guns. And, whether I've got sufficient bullet resistance to... explain that to you in person."

    From behind the curtain of light in front of me I hear a gulp.

    "Look. I didn't design this set-up. I inherited it. From a cousin, a distant cousin. Who was probably mad. I'm careful, I don't let civilians in the back. Only the ones the bear likes. Tell you what. I'll change the next step. Make it easier. OK?"

    "I'm listening..."

    "Right. 'What is the bear's name?'."

    Suddenly, I recall my father reading an old science-fiction book. A collection of short stories, I thought. And, laughing. Then, explaining the punch-line to me. Could it be?

    "The bear is called 'Gladly'. Because he's cross-eyed. 'Gladly, my cross-eyed bear'. I noticed he was wearing a crucifix."

    There is the shuffling of paper, "No, no, no, what? That's a stupid answer! No, no. Well." A cleared throat.

    "No one has ever given that answer before, but, it's on the list. And, someone's written 'Ha!' beside it. Did you look through the wall, or something?"

    "No, just a lucky coincidence."

    "Well. Pass." And I hear the sound of a buzzer, as the gun barrels recede into their niches.

    ---

    Robots. All the robots. The biggest is about ten-metres, maybe thirty-feet high, the smallest, could stand on the tip of my finger. Strangely, most of them are humanoid. Or, maybe not.

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    My host explains a lot of them are holograms, in this decent-sized warehouse that the shop backs on to. Someone must be very rich. Potentially, anyway. The price of land in Tokyo is phenomenal. No, if there's some dimensional tinkering going on, it's too subtle for me to spot.

    There's a long workbench. Maybe half-a-dozen robots are more or less disassembled, being maintained, I'm guessing. But, I can see at least a dozen, off to one side, that look to have been worked-on, but, are now dusty, still broken.

    "I think he got them from places, all over the world. Alien invasion, mad science, the lot. Some, he bought from shady characters, who brought them from 'elsewhere'. No questions asked. I think he had the odd robot, damaged, stagger in here. Get repaired by him." He sighs.

    "I'm not a bad engineer, can fix most electronics, mechanical problems, even use a number of his weird tools. But, I really don't have his talents." He waves his arms, a bit helplessly - sometimes I've wondered where I learned that gesture from.

    The phrase, "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!" comes to mind.

    "Let's have a look at what you're working on..."

    ---

    Well. I've learned quite a bit about robots, and started on an assay of what's here. There're definitely five different technological 'styles', maybe more which have only single representatives.

    Reminds me of the way my father analysed different sorts of (sometimes alien) science and engineering... 'Development trees'... Sort of meta-meta analysis... Could you apply that to different sorts of (super) powers, abilities?

    I've helped... 'Max', he tells me to call him, get a couple of robots working, and a third mostly fixed. I'm beginning to cut into time I should be using, back home, for sleeping...

    Apparently, the holograms stand-in for more robots, which are stored somewhere off-site. But, for one reason or another don't 'fit' in the shop. Looking more closely, I think the roof is only about three-metres, ten-feet, so that makes sense.

    No, he hasn't tried to sell me any robots, or robot services. Yet.

    I look at the situation. "I need better tools. And, a decent scanner set-up. You've done a good job here, with limited facilities, but things could be better."

    Max seems to be... Impressed with my skills. I also get the impression he's a lot younger than he was pretending, and doubt he's reached the age of thirty. But, he's probably an adult.

    "There's more tools, in my cousin's old... well, he liked to call it his 'lair'. I'm not prepared to tell you where that is, yet, maybe never. Those are the ones I couldn't figure-out. I might be able to get some of them here, this sort of time next week." He looks up at the clock.

    "Right. Four hours ago. You know what I mean!" He's obviously got a bit emotional. Well, at least he's not an otaku. I think.

    "Just to show my good faith, I'll get a tool I call a 'build cell', a sort of engineering support tool, shipped here. All the extra bits it needs. I'd really appreciate if you keep it as secret as possible. Nothing sinister, there's a number of patent applications in progress."

    He looks interested.

    "It should be here by next week. I'll even train you in how to use it effectively. You should be able to stuff a smaller, man-sized robot, in it, use it to do all the diagnostics, and, once it's programmed right, the repairs." Now, he's smiling.

    "If you could burn a few CDs with copies of the robot software that you're prepared to part with, I'll take it away and study it. Give you a report on my findings."

    He's shaking my hand, hugging me. There's tears in his eyes.

    "After Soni disappeared, with no warning, I got this place in his will. I only get paid if I keep it going. The lawyers are really strict. Do surprise inspections. Use 'secret shoppers'. They only see the front shop, of course." I do wonder why he's not got a robot shop assistant, though, maybe that's the bear.

    He falls to one knee.

    "Will you marry me?"

    I just look at him for a few moments.

    "I'm afraid I have... other commitments. But, thank you for your flattering offer."

    Yes, I swiftly take my leave. With some CDs. But, also yes, I think I'll be back, next week. I'm mad.

    Very, very, mad.




    AN: The Japanese are not gun enthusiasts...

    AN: 'Gladly' is not DC character, but can't really be called 'OC', due to appearing in a number of places, including the science-fiction short-story. 'Max' and 'Soni' are OC.

    AN: Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! :)

    AN: If you're in customer service, I expect you've heard of secret shoppers...

    AN: Yes, I do know what 'Soni' in Japanese translates to. :)
     
  13. Threadmarks: Marriage, Terra and Secrets - Episode 43
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Marriage, Terra and Secrets - Episode 43

    At breakfast. Again. I feel... a bit light-headed. But, basically OK. Because, I cheated.

    After my carefully-paced return from Tokyo, didn't want to bring a goblin home, I'd about 45-minutes to breakfast. So, I visited the med-lab. Explained this was a one-off. But, I needed my night's sleep pretty quickly, so I still got to breakfast on time. And Nurse, slightly reluctant, did the magic.

    Guess we'll see how I survive the day. But, before that, Raven's been looking at me with suspicion.

    "Didn't you sleep properly...", she glances at Terra, "Sugoi?"

    "No?"

    "Is it something I can help with?"

    "I... overdid it, last night. Tried to do too many things. Got a bit... carried away. Actually, someone proposed marriage to me."

    Everyone looks at me.

    "But, I turned them down. I'd only known them for a few hours."

    Cyborg and Beast Boy look at each other, nod. Then, they do a gesture exchange, which I think mean, 'you', 'no, you', 'no you'. Beast Boy wins, or loses, it's hard to tell.

    "I've been proposed to, many times. But, I'm pretty sure it's more of a crush, or, maybe a stalker. You know about stalkers?"

    "Only in theory. I think... they wanted me for my mind."

    "Well, it's like this... Some people don't see you, they see..." And, he launches into a long and hopefully improbable story about ducks, which I fear has too much truth in it.

    ---

    After breakfast, Terra takes me aside for a quick word.

    "How did you get accepted in the team? I know you were the last one who joined before me. Everyone is nice, but, I can tell they're being careful what they say when I'm around."

    I think for a few moments.

    "It's a matter of time. Not just people getting used to you, but finding they can trust you. I didn't have anything like Slade. But, on the other hand, I'm from a different world, no one can check my background, find out who I was before."

    I notice her wince. Maybe that wasn't the wisest thing to say?

    “Could be a bit trite, but, give it time. Beast Boy trusts you, Starfire likes everyone, the others are willing to give you a chance. Just... do your best."

    She nods, and walks off, head hanging.

    ---

    Robin has news for me at our training session. He's arranged for me to meet someone at a university medical school. Which, I guess is good. Problem is, it's this afternoon. Apparently a slot became open. So, I'll have to explain missing my training with Raven. Wonderful.

    I think he's not totally happy with the position he's put me in.

    No Master Roshi; who knows what he's doing? Robin comes to a decision, and we go to the secure meeting room. Intercoms Cyborg, checks and more checks. Robin sweeps for bugs, I look around, all I spot is a voice recorder someone's probably left behind. Robin thanks me, puts it outside.

    He reaches up, touches the side of his face. Sighs. Takes off his mask. He looks the same as the last couple of time's I've seen his bare face.

    "This is a sign of trust. But, it's also practicality. You know what I look like. You're going to be team doctor. If you wanted to I'm pretty sure you could discover my identity. My name is... Dick Grayson."

    Suddenly it clicks for me. The 'veil lifts'. I recall Batman and Robin fiction, from my home world. I don't know who the Batman is, but Robin, 'Dick'. Sounds right.

    But, weren't there more than one Robin? What about 'Burt'? 'Tim'? Something about ducks? I'll worry about that later. Probably Beast Boy's fault.

    I recall that vision, the acrobats, at a circus. Falling. The 'Flying Graysons'. Oh.

    "You're not saying anything?" He doesn't seem, quite, to be offended.

    "A bit of world-traveller shock. And a vision I had a while back. Secret identities seem... I think the logic of them is different here, in this world, than my home one. Probably."

    I slap my hand on the table. That seems to help, a bit. "Right. Practicalities. The medical system best needs a baseline scan of you, in good health. To compare with if you're thought to be injured.” I pause, to let him digest that.

    "Yes, it can work without one, but, baseline then is 'standard' human near-adult male. Slower diagnosis. And, that wont have things like your fingerprints or your retina pattern on record, if you... lose them."

    He boggles, a bit. "You can grow-back lost fingerprints? Lost eyes?"

    "Yes. Anything but lost central nervous system. Even bits of that, if you're prepared for re-training time. It's a good medical system."

    "Wow. I thought you'd need Cadmus to do things like that."

    "There's that name again, but all people will tell me about them is they're 'bad news'." I shrug.

    "The system could, in theory, grow an entire human body, from scratch, given a 'pattern' and the right instructions. But, that'd take months, and it'd be mindless. Or, it can store spare body parts, pre-grown, which avoids having to wait to grow them if you've lost bits. Maybe a bit of retraining time for lost limbs if your scan isn't recent." I pause again.

    "I'm pretty sure it can do more, but, that's locked behind 'command authorisations', I don't want to mess with until I understand it better."

    I'm not lying... Just not telling all I suspect. I know what my Dad's systems can do, and, I'm pretty sure this is a close relative. Doubt our med-bay can move your mind and spirit between living and robot bodies, though. My Dad had to build kit to do that after his Nazi (demon?) 'accident'.

    Wonder what I'd do if I had to be polite to super-scientist Adolf Hitler? Who’s been experimenting on my best friend? But. Talking to Robin.

    "Honestly, though, I want to read all the manuals, probably twice, ideally have a full set of spare parts lined-up. Work-out what the maintenance schedule should be. It was drifting in Space, for lots of decades, and I want to make sure there's no hidden faults or weaknesses."

    Robin gives a slow nod. Or, I should say, 'Dick'. Though I'd better avoid thinking that name.

    "I can see you've thought this through. I'm sure Cyborg, and... Nurse, will give you as much support as they can. Now." He stands up, puts his mask back on, looks directly at me.

    "You'd better go get some sleep. After informing Raven. You'll want to be fresh for your afternoon appointment."




    AN: You can go look-up details on the love-lives of ducks on your own... Not my problem. Not either my circus nor my monkeys. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  14. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Poor ugly duckling, “blessed” by the Three Fates to grow into a lovely swan.
    Also it is too bad Beast Boy cannot talk while in animal form. Telling that Aesop while transformed into a green duck sounds adorable!
     
  15. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Loads of fables, Aesop tends to get credit/blame for a lot more than they probably wrote...

    I see Beast Boy as having embarked on a long shaggy dog story about marriage proposals, courting and stalking, almost completely based on ducks. Yes, you might have The Ugly Duckling about where a duck isn't a duck, and has an inaccurate self-image. You might have Duck! Rabbit, Duck! about why you can't trust ducks (and, maybe, rabbits). Or Korean views on ducks as a symbol of fidelity.

    Or, you might be unlucky enough to find out more about the courting/mating habits of ducks in the form of the Ruddy Duck...

    You were warned...
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  16. Threadmarks: Weird, Weirder and Education - Episode 44
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 44

    Raven isn't happy. And, I don't blame her. Short-notice changes are annoying.

    But, I do make clear to her that this seems to be chance, and that Robin doesn't look to be trying to annoy her.

    She twitches, a bit, when I say 'chance'. Reveals she'd set things up to try and detect, maybe figure-out a way around, my 'curse'. Seeing as it's probably a spiritual one, rather than the more common magical variety. And, may be the effects of an injury, 'scarring' so to speak, so this isn't easy. But, she thinks it needs to be done.

    Briefly, because she says I need to go sleep, she reveals that her concern is Garfield's also a 'Weirdness Magnet', and, from her studies, having two such on a team can get... rather unfortunate. I do remark that I suspect my father could have also've had this 'talent', and she really winces.

    So, off to bed.

    ---

    I awake a little before lunch. Something is making me... twitchy. I consider my current projects, and, I'm drawn to the one which should unlock my magical potential, that I've been reluctant to finish.

    A square of plywood, about a half-metre, eighteen-inches, on a side, with a complex runic pentacle. I bite my lip, think, then use my ritual knife to prick the base of my thumb, get the drop of blood to complete the ritual.

    Oh. Why did I do that? It was a really stupid thing to do, just before a critical interview. I've heard of the 'idiot ball', I think I just dropped it.

    And, yes, of course, a super-deformed version of Robin pops up through the middle of the pentacle. Stopping with his ankles still in the wood.

    ---

    The masked face looks around, the eyes wide. "Call me 'Larry'" he says, in an absent-minded sort of way.

    Then, he stops. Focuses on me. His eyes go wider. His eyebrows climb off his head. He stares.

    "No. No way. You're not getting me involved in that. I refuse to play. Give my love to the Boy Wonder, Toots. Bye!"

    He sinks back into the board, and, there's no sign he was ever there. At all.

    What. Just. Happened?

    ---

    It takes me about ten minutes, but I pull myself together. I don't think my shock was natural. It was as if something grabbed my reality, gave it a thorough shake. But, on the positive side, I think I've unlocked my magic.

    So. Shower. Dress in my best 'casual smart'. Check I've 'loaded' the appropriate skills, which are in this case as much Medical Science as I can cram into my head, and, what I can remember of my father's 'A' Level sciences. I just hope it'll be enough.

    Then, a light lunch. And, the tricky bit.

    I'd have liked to d-walk to the airport, an easy destination, hire a car, drive to the appointment. But, I've not got enough room in my head for driving skills. Rude word. So, I'm going to d-walk to the university, stay out-of-phase, scout a good place to materialise, appear, and scarf my robe. So many things could go wrong...

    I think I've gotten away with it. Five minutes early. About what I planned. Usual waiting room, better-quality old periodicals, mostly medical. I note the titles. Flip through an interesting-looking one on prostheses.

    Janet Green, a medical administrator. Apparently a 'major donor' requested I get a meeting. But, she's not allowed to say who. Really, she should've been more careful about hiding the 'Wayne Industries' headed letter she was consulting. Pretty sure she's just not very good at being sneaky.

    As we went around, seeing the department, I caught glimpses which let me figure-out part of the text. "Check if squeamish" was one item, another was "Check practical skills". The autopsy lab was a pretty obvious test, as was a half-dissected student 'practice' body.

    I think I did reasonably, commented on my guess as to cause of death. Explained my training was limited, but I'd started from a base as a nurse-practitioner, due to coming from a medical family, after being home-schooled.

    Then, I get introduced to a doctor who's one of the lecturers. An older man, with sharp eyes. He questions me mercilessly.

    I... don't think I do terribly, but, I'd like to've done better. Asks me why I want to be a doctor. I answer something about social duty and wanting to be useful to society. No, he doesn't mutter "Idealistic idiot", but, I think, overall, he approves of me.

    Ms. Green sits to one side, takes notes.

    I do ask what their opinion is of 'super-science' being used in medicine. Ms. Green looks at the doctor. He snorts.

    "Wonderful idea. If it was just reliable. When I was a junior doctor we had a 'device'..." He does the finger quotes. "Doubled people's healing rates. Amazing. Until we were using it on someone who died. And, later turned into a zombie. No deaths, a lot of scared people. And, of course, we had to stop using it."

    He shakes his head.

    "If they can explain the scientific basis of it. Get FDA approval. Allow it to be maintained by someone other than themselves. Then, maybe."

    He coughs.

    "Sorry. A bit of a 'hobby horse' with me."

    Ms. Green smiles in a somewhat pained way.

    "I think that's it, for the day. I hope you enjoyed your visit. Shall I call a taxi, or will you make your own way?"

    We part.

    ---

    Before I leave campus I visit the library. Get referred to an administrator. Pay the fees, including a deposit, to allow non-student access to the library. Though, I don't get borrowing privileges. For that, you need to be staff or a current or (rich) previous student. Meets with my needs.

    And, I visit the university bookshop. Restrain myself. Just get a few, carefully-chosen, medical reference books. Base it on what I saw on the doctor's office shelves.

    I hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship...

    With the university.




    AN: Idiot ball, just in case...

    AN: Super-deformed, also called 'chibi'.

    AN: Prostheses.

    AN: Janet Green is an OC. It's deliberate that the university isn't named.

    AN: FDA.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  17. Threadmarks: Imps, Kinky and Relatives - Episode 45
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 45

    I've survived the university. Got use of their library. Raided their bookshop.

    Why do I feel this sense of impending doom?

    OK, I'm back at the Tower. Catching my breath. New medical books on the shelf. What's that I left over there?

    Ah. The ritual board. All my memories of 'Larry', which I'd managed to suppress, flood back. Yes. There's a good reason to worry.

    So.

    Raven first?

    ---

    Apparently there's beings called '5th dimensional imps'. The basic idea is not to attract their attention. If you do, be polite, try not to lose your temper. They can be helpful, or tricksters. You never know. In general they seem to have limited attention spans.

    But, Raven says the Teen Titans, best as she knows, haven't mixed with one.

    So, we go consult an expert. Beast Boy.

    "Yeah. I know about those. They seem to know about past times that've... changed, so I'm one of the few that recalls them. And, they can see alternate futures. Time travel at will. I wont say the name of the one that bothers Superman, but, Batman had one called 'Bat Mite', dressed-up, badly, like him."

    He stares in the air, looks thoughtful.

    "Even helped him, once or twice. Had a selective visibility trick, so maybe Batman could see, hear, him, but others couldn't. Some thought he was just a delusion." He waves his finger, in a circle, next to his head. Looks at me.

    "So, you've seen one?"

    "Yes... Gave the name 'Larry'. Looked like a squished-down version of Robin. Asked to be reminded to him. Assuming 'Boy Wonder' is him."

    Beast Boy snickers, then looks (half) serious.

    "Ohhh Kay... New one on me. So, you think we're going to see him around? Sounds like he could be fun."

    "I don't think so... Something seemed to scare him, make him change his plans. I think. Maybe one of those possible futures? I don't know."

    "Don't forget to pass the message on to Robin", remarks Beast Boy.

    Raven looks determined. "We're going to do that ritual, this evening. The one we put-off from the afternoon. Get some answers. Then, if you agree, I'll walk in your dreams."

    "Kinky!"

    We both glare at Beast Boy.

    ---

    I've got a lot to do, but, decide to visit the Meditation Room. Kory is there, eyes closed, floating in the air.

    She's pretty deep. I think she recognises me, on some level, decides I'm not a danger.

    I float-up, beside her. Start meditating.

    I really need this.

    ---

    "I've got all the wards set-up." Raven launches straight into things. "If nothing else, you being around has given me a lot of practice."

    Was that... humour? No...

    "I think it only proper that I tell you one reason I was so concerned. Apart from you and Garfield... amplifying each other. And your goblin. And your sudden magic cravings. And 'Larry'." She raises one eyebrow. I can only nod.

    "I was trained by mystic warrior monks. They aimed to prepare me to resist..." She pauses, looks at her wards. Firmly nods her head. "My father. Trigon."

    We both look around. Nothing appears to happen. Good, I guess.

    "I was trained to watch out for changes. In me, in those around me. To be on guard." She stops again, takes a sip from her goblet of water. I take one from mine.

    "My father..." She swallows. "Trigon. As that annoying priest said maybe I should look to my grandfather. The god... Azar."

    What? I start, and look at her. She looks back. I gesture for her to continue.

    "Azar is the god of Azarath. He's not known to physically manifest, though he has a... relationship with the leader of the people who live there, and his power has been passed from generation to generation. That leader is called 'Azar'."

    She looks at me. "Yes, either they're not very imaginative, or, Beast Boy might be right about 'Kinky'." She coughs.

    "A female follower of Azar, not the leader, had some sort of... relationship with him. Birthed Trigon as the result. Azar had originally led the people to Azarath, a place where they cast off the negative parts of themselves. Unfortunately, these accumulated, and the whole somehow merged with the new being so a monster was born. Trigon."

    "That was about a thousand years ago. Trigon has only got more powerful, claims to have existed from 'the beginning of Time'. Supposedly rules more than a million worlds. And, has turned his attention to this Earth, a place at the crossroads of many dimensions, a place from which he could wield incredible power."

    "But, a place that rejects him. Unless, he uses a key. Me."

    We sip our water. Look at each other.

    "You wanted to say something? Earlier? But were polite enough to wait until I finished."

    "Yes..."

    She gestures for me to continue, I take a deep breath.

    "I'm unsure if this is relevant. But, my father. He has an ex-wife, who he rarely speaks of. They still send each other letters, though she works in a distant country. In Persian. I happen to know that her name means 'flame', in Persian.” I pause.

    “Sometimes, when he's feeling poetic, my father's called her my 'spiritual mother', because she was the 'flame that inspired him' to start the medical work, that led to me. Apparently, a Persian name which means 'flame' is Azar..." There is silence.

    "Do you think that's important?"

    We just sit, and look at each other.




    AN: This is not a cliff-hanger. Honest. :)

    AN: And Geo will not say, "Raven! I Am Your Aunt!". :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  18. Extras: No Omake; Try Virtual Gaming?
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    No Omake; Try Virtual Gaming?

    Sorry, too busy this Friday+weekend to write an Omake, but, I've currently got a buffer of nine episodes, so, that's good?


    Apparently it's possible to create and run a virtual gaming convention, which you can attend, for free, and use free online tools to play games at. You can even virtually play many board-games. All without leaving the (hopeful) comfort of your own home. Who knew? :)

    Of course, maybe you are ambitious, want to do gaming in a free-to-use online virtual world (VR or VW), such as Second Life (SL)? Free-to-download online VW browser, both from the SL site and from third-parties.

    Or, you are really ambitious, and want to host your own virtual world using home computing or Cloud resources? Then, use that as a platform within which you implement your own games, or even have avatars of AIs and/or chatbots running around?

    Maybe even accessed via a VR headset?

    All do-able stuff, but, please be warned some find such systems psychologically addictive... And, some find they dream of VWs, or have flash-backs during day-to-day life...

    But, who am I to interfere with you exploring how cyberpunk you can make modern life? :)




    You might say, all that sounds expensive, what does it mean to me?

    Well, some claim there's been repeated 'waves' over the last forty-years to remove power from individuals, and centralise it. This isn't 'political', except in the broadest sense, it's about persuading people to use more centralised computing facilities, and not learn about computing/information technology, to use at home or in their workplace.

    The latest bit is to persuade people that 'The Cloud' is how you should be doing anything except directly personal computing. That your direct personal computing needs can best be provided by a smart-phone in your pocket. Finally, that you don't need any more in the way of internet connection than your smart-phone; no need for home broadband.

    This is not to say that these don't work, it's more to say that they involve risks, both of things like single-point-of-failure, and loss of personal control, over the data (and meta-data) which's become a critical part of almost everyone's lives. One approach is the 'encrypt everything' viewpoint, another is shared collaborative (computer) networks, so you don't depend on people like Google or Amazon, a third is ensuring you maintain personal control over your data (and meta-data).

    Something else to watch out for is 'free' computing services (including e-mail addresses), like Facebook or Google; these all use resources, so it's smart to ask, how are these paid for? You can buy your own domain name pretty cheap, if you pay for, say, ten-years in advance, and then use that for all your e-mail needs. For a business not having your own domain name, and using that for e-mail and a website, is often considered a sign of being unprofessional. Web space is also pretty cheap, and there's free tools to help you build and maintain websites.

    However, a 'hybrid' approach can have advantages over a 'pure' one.

    Nothing wrong with The Cloud, as long as you don't depend on it for business or personal survival, and you're happy with 'exposing' your business or personal data that way. So, have computing storage which is under your personal, physical, control, but back your data up (including your smart-phone) using strong encryption to The Cloud.

    Use a smart-phone, but also have something like a Raspberry Pi system at work or home, providing your business or home computer data storage.

    And, a smart-phone (or even a smart-watch) can be very useful, but ensure you also have business or home broadband, and a full-sized keyboard plus pointer device, maybe attached to a Raspberry Pi, for non-trivial interaction. Some will say a tablet computer is good for everything a smart-phone wont do, but, those are really data-consumption devices, not general-purpose computers. (I'd also recommend having a wired phone, that's powered by your phone-line, somewhere, ready to plug-in, in emergencies.)

    Some have even found that a home laser printer is financially wise.

    Finally, people may have tried to sell you a 'smart-home', via the internet-of-things. But, you may note that Microsoft, Amazon, Google or whoever intrude into your home in a massive and intimate way (see news reports). Everything they provide can be done using bits under your control (like a few Raspberry Pis). Most of us don't want Orwell's Big Brother of 1984 happening in our own homes...

    ...

    Sorry, this bit has gone rather over-board! :)

    Further, I wish to make it clear I have no connection to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020 at 11:50 AM
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  19. Threadmarks: Cursed, Home Dreams and Big Dog - Episode 46
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 46

    Raven ran her tests. Some of which made no sense to me. Didn't obviously involve magic. Asked me to astral project. Poked my body, (spiritually) poked my spirit.

    She's pretty sure. I'm 'cursed'.

    And, the (annoying) priest got it right, it is a curse of the spirit, which messes with probability. Makes me a 'Weirdness Magnet'. Almost certainly due to injury when fighting my attempted possessor, which didn't (spiritually) heal right.

    Apparently, it's not that uncommon, in certain circles. Shaman on a spirit quest have a rough time. End up with this 'talent'. Can make them outcasts, can make them 'special people', to be valued; depends on their culture.

    Raven's found literature, some try and induce this effect, and, there's related effects. Like scaring-off animals while hunting, being 'lucky', which is a lot more positive, and, only noted in more modern times, jinxing machinery, particularly electronics.

    But, in a super-hero setting, something you can really do without. Raven thinks we may be able to use something like the healing methods that we used on her spirit to help me. Maybe I'll even end-up 'lucky'? Who knows?

    Further investigations to be done in my dreams.

    ---

    I've gotten better a going to sleep while anxious, only takes me about five minutes. Though, half-waking dreams, where the doctor at the university is replaced by my father, wearing a false beard. Who wants to know if I've practical experience of repairing plush toys.

    Strange.

    Raven rouses my spirit, but instead of astral projection we're going inwards. Into the depths of my mind. To start with, we're doing a scout around, try and determine my spiritual boundaries. Which, is fun, as spirits are more than three-dimensional.

    Seeing as I started as an AI my spirit is apparently an unusual shape. This is possibly useful, as that in turn influences my mind, may give me protection both against those who can 'handle' human minds, and those who influence the 'minds' of (advanced) machines. So, I straddle two worlds.

    Of course, unless I train, someone who can effect both will just walk-in. More things to learn...

    More interesting is following my creative dimension. Apparently, in this group of worlds, that leads to The Dreaming, which is the well-spring of creativity in all local reality. Going there is... strange. We just touch the boundaries, and, a man with stars for eyes, that I last saw in my Roshi-induced vision, nods to me.

    I'm not sure I like that sort of attention... Raven agrees with me.

    We then go and overlook my past time-line; best to avoid looking at possible futures. I'm a pink worm, that stretches into the past, does a strange jink, and before that is a latex-covered worm, further back a collection of metal boxes.

    I stop looking beyond that. It's quite enough. I might be unlucky enough to see a previous incarnation. Knowledge of such can apparently completely bleep-up your current one. Unless, maybe, you're a Buddhist.

    Back to more normal territory.

    ---

    Raven seems to think my mind is strangely ordered. Seems to make sense to me, but, I guess I'd think that. A metal-and-silicon foundation, with power and signals flowing through grids of wires, flickering patterns, carefully concealed logic. The 'guts' of my AI and robot self.

    Then, above, a more organic look, curves of bright windows, though there's no outside to see through them. Elegant rooms, with seating, for human forms. Even a few potted plants. There're mirrors on some walls, which don't show normal reflections. A few book-shelves, a photo album.

    And, something that looks a bit like a gym, with a neat floor grid, a table and chair, a bicycle. I used to hate that bicycle... So many falls...

    Another stairway, and I'm happier. Still sparse but more obviously occupied. A lounge with carpet, tv, wall-pictures. The pictures swiftly blank before we get to look at them - I think I did that in time.

    There's things like a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. The odd magazine, book, left on a table. And, crammed book-shelves. Lots of them.

    Down a short corridor, we come to an immense library. Before it are rows of index files, their cabinets coded in many different colours. All right. I do have a pretty ordered mind.

    Another immense hall, off to one side, full of tools and machinery. A magical workshop in a third hall, a complex gym in a fourth. Then, an almost empty fifth hall, with a few weird science gadgets.

    Wandering through the place are robots that look remarkably like me.

    Raven stops. Raises an eyebrow. "Yes, I can see you... love to know things. And, how to do... stuff"

    ---

    We follow a hidden corridor, to a secret library, books with unmarked spines. Back-track. Open a secret door in an otherwise blank wall. Climb a narrow stairway.

    Now, we're on a balcony, over an immense room. Flows of mostly pale-blue light run around. An overview of my mind. And, if you look from just the right angle, below it my spirit.

    There's a twisted area, with a bend around a blackened part. I'm guessing my spiritual injury. "Looks pretty classic", remarks Raven. I'm far from sure she's seeing the same scene as me. She moves us along the balcony, we find a narrow stair, fortunately with a rail, which leads down to my spirit level.

    "We're pretty deep here", comments Raven, "But, this is more ordered than any spirit I've ever looked at. Except for that root, which looks pretty organic."

    I look where she's pointing, and, yes I can see a sort-of nearly invisible twisted root. But, what grows from it quickly becomes more ordered. The seed of my spirit was from a living being? Who, I wonder?

    Carefully, we start to climb. Stepping on the stronger parts. Sometimes I feel a twinge, as one or other of us finds a foot-hold. I can tell this could all go horribly wrong...

    We're at the twisted bit. Raven kneels, carefully runs her fingers along it. Watches how I shiver. Sits back on her heels. Inspects the area. "Robin?", she says in a low voice, and traces, pointing with a finger, the way something that I can't, quite, see flows. "What have you done?"

    Looks at me. "I think I can see something that should work. Robin... appears to have done something unwise, that could damage your social connections. But, if we replace the twisted part with that dammed flow, over there..." She indicates an orange knot. "It looks as though things should balance. Eventually."

    Tilts her head to one side, obviously thinks. "Could you do some math for me? I think it might help." And, she hands me a long scroll, which morphs into a PDA as I take it.

    Math is done. I hand her what in her hands becomes a scroll. There's a blur of movement, and it's as if she has a dozen arms and hands, shifting, mostly very delicately, connections.

    Then she stops, takes a firm grip on the twisted part of the network. "I'd say 'brace yourself, but, relaxing would be better." She waits until I do.

    My world turns back-to-front, inside-out, and is then sucked-up through a plug-hole to fill a basin. Oh. Then, then, it gets really weird.

    ---

    We're back in my lounge, in the 'human' area of my mind. Raven has made tea in my kitchen, and has just poured me a cup. I add milk to taste. Perfect. Then I pour some for her. Slowly, the world stops feeling fragile.

    "Both your pupils are the same size again, now. I'm pretty sure that's a good sign." She pulls back from looking in my eyes.

    "There was a lot more energy let loose than I expected. I had to fly to get out of there, carrying an unconscious you. But, we got back, OK. My only problem was the room with the elephant-sized dog..."

    Somehow I recall that. Raven growled back at the dog, and he backed down...

    "How do you feel?"

    I consider this, carefully. "A bit shaken, but, I think I'll be OK." I look around.

    On a table, turned so we can both see it, clearly, is a graphic novel. It's marked "Detective Comics, Volume 1, 1939", and seems to have Batman, and some gunmen, on the cover.

    Raven and I look at each other. Raven breaks first. "I think you'd better put that away, somewhere very, very, safe."

    "Yes. I will."




    AN: Incarnation is an interesting term...

    AN: You may not believe it, but some use 'bleep' as an actual swear word. Maybe they've seen too much tv? Think it's funny? I met someone who used 'shuggles'; they said they learnt it from a minor character in 2000AD's Nemesis the Warlock...

    AN: The tech, it changes, but PDA. If you're curious, this is Geo's PDA.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020 at 1:24 AM
  20. Threadmarks: Puzzle, Fall and Relief - Episode 47
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy - Episode 47

    Before we leave. My home-from-home. The lounge in my dreaming mind. I've a question, actually a puzzle, for Raven.

    A real puzzle. A wooden jigsaw puzzle, in fact.

    It represents my inability to learn an early-acquired talent of my father's. Speed Reading. I can use various systems to get images into my mind, my memory, even OCR them into text. But, to process this, into knowledge, into something I can actually use, I need to read it, not much faster than real-time.

    She looks at the puzzle. Moves some of the pieces around. Studies the image of the completed picture on the outside of the box. Thinks for a few moments.

    Then, reaches into the box, extracts two pieces. Looking at them, they're not quite right. Empties the rest of the pieces onto the table. Puts a few of them together. Takes the empty box, lifts out a false bottom, reveals two missing pieces.

    "I think it best you do the rest yourself. Otherwise, its a grafted-on skill, not something properly 'yours'."

    "OK."

    ---

    We're standing outside my body. Raven has a small, green, goblinoid, creature by one ear. She appears to be having to work hard to maintain her grip. The... gremlin? That feels right, is not a happy being.

    "I think that's enough for tonight. You get some solid sleep. I'm unsure if this is 'real', but I'm going to deal with it as if it is."

    I bow. "Yes, teacher."

    ---

    Waking in the early morning, after a solid four-hours sleep. That's more than I normally need, and a few attempts to doze convinces me I'm done for the night.

    Shower, dress. Think for a few moments. Wonder if Oracle is still awake. Visit and secure the conference room. Yes, she is.

    As we've done a number of times previously, we chat, she points me to a new hacker site she's stumbled on. I store the phone number for future reference. We have a good time, and it relaxes me a bit. The vivid dream Raven shared begins to slide into the background.

    Then, she gasps. There's a groan, and I hear a thud, something her filters would normally hide from me.

    I'm elsewhere. This is a firm reminder that I'm not in full control of my dimension walking, or, in this case, astral projection. And, I may never be. Psychic powers are tricky like that.

    There's a complex room, stuffed with computers and communications equipment. In the centre, a brilliantly red-headed woman, in a wheelchair, collapsed forward, over a keyboard, her glasses knocked to one side.

    I'm here as a spirit, an uninvited one at that. Though, I'm pretty sure, a friend. There's no robots, manipulator limbs, around, so I can't see what to do. I think I may have to be a lot ruder...

    Nothing I've done before, but I try and possess just her right arm. A hard struggle, but it works. Push her back into the chair, into a better position. Tap at her keyboard.

    On the screen, strange, I can see my body slumped in my chair, back at the Tower. Though, my posture isn't too bad, and my body doesn't seem to be at risk.

    Her system... It's thoroughly customised, not at all easy to use. Lots of things I'm pretty sure are driven by keyboard short-cuts. I stop, think for a few moments.

    There's a bright red key, top-left corner, of the keyboard. Labelled 'HELP!'. Someone has modified the keyboard so it's an actual key. I press it.

    A gruff voice. "What's the problem, Oracle?"

    I look at the screen. There's a chat text window open. I type into there. "Oracle has collapsed, seems unconscious. I can't seem to revive her."

    A pause. "Who is this?" Spoken, not typed. "What did you do to her?"

    "I was chatting, from the Tower, and she gasped, groaned, and I heard a thud. Then I found myself here. And, I'm using her arm and hand to type."

    "Sugoi? One of your spirit things?"

    "Yes."

    A muttered voice. "Robin needs to improve his reports." I'm pretty sure I was supposed to hear that... How? One of those psychic things, I guess.

    "I don't know what to do. I don't think I should come here, physically, without permission. Can you give me permission?"

    Another pause. "No. I can't. I'll get a... friend to come. Wait."

    About thirty seconds, and a roof-hatch opens. A figure... No, it can't be. Oh, I'm in real trouble. Skin-tight blue with a cape. Him.

    I type on the keyboard.

    "Hi, Superman."

    ---

    Oracle gets whisked to hospital, wheelchair and all. I'm dragged along, apparently still stuck in her arm. He was quite polite, thanked me, but said seconds could be critical.

    I don't know what city we fly over, but we're now in a small but seriously high-tech hospital. I'm sure some of the stuff is super-science, bits look like salvaged alien tech.

    Oracle is placed on a high-tech bed, fully dressed, and a... force drives me out of her body. I float alongside the bed. Feeling a bit helpless.

    There's a small robot off to one side, the attachments look as though it does cleaning. Maybe?

    No real mind, but, the faintest hint of a spirit. It feels... fulfilled. With its permission I float into the body, activate a long-disused speaker system, microphone, look through the eye.

    A nurse and doctor seem to have come into the room. Superman appears to have just finished briefing them. I can't see Oracle, on the bed, the robot's viewpoint is too low.

    "Will she be all right?"

    The nurse flinches, the doctor and Superman don't seem surprised. The doctor, without looking over, speaks.

    "Looks like you alerted us in time. Initial readings suggest a blood clot detached, blocked critical blood flow. We're handling the problem. Probably an issue building for some time. Could've happened any time. Good someone was... with her."

    Superman coughs.

    "Might be best if you go home now. You did the right thing. I expect Oracle will contact you, later."

    So, I go.




    AN: In case these are unfamiliar, jigsaw puzzle. I understand some these days are made by laser cutting...

    AN: Yeah, OCR.

    AN: Gremlins go back quite a way... Of course, there are so many sorts of gremlin, but this one might give you some idea about what Geo's seeing.

    AN: Thrombosis, when your repair systems cause you problems...
     
  21. Threadmarks: Hammer, Metal and Delivery - Episode 48
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 48

    I. Am. Not. Happy.

    I. Have. Been. Stupid.

    I... wish I could hit my problems with a hammer. Like I'm currently hitting bits of metal with a hammer. On an anvil. Using a forge. Traditional style. Sort of.

    I'm in my alchemical tech workshop, because there's more spare room there. Also, it doesn't share a wall with Victor's workshop. I know the sound insulation is good, but, there's limits.

    I trucked the Synthesiser up from the med-bay. And its support kit. It'd really been there, too long. The rest of the salvage, too. Apologies to Nurf for not doing it earlier. And, am thanked for the company.

    Not much company, but the skinned robots, mine and Victor's, are still there. Properly dressed. In med-beds. Nurf's keeping their living bits fed, watered and healthy.

    At breakfast the Team talked. Assuming she wants to, and can, we're going to make it quite clear to Nurf she's invited to wander the Tower, outside private areas, as she likes. Share meals with us.

    Terra, who's told us all to call her 'Tara', seems happy. Says it means she'll no longer be the newest member of the Team.

    There was some banter about who was the oldest, and the youngest, members of the team. Including Master Roshi, he is declared oldest, followed by Nurf. Though, associates, as they're not teens.

    Raven and Robin agree we wont discuss who is youngest.

    And, both ignore Garfield sticking his tongue out.

    ---

    My arm kept working, hammer to metal, while I was thinking. I've got a good rhythm going.

    Part of this is about ritual, as Master Roshi said. Yes, most of the tools, and the forge and anvil were made by the Synthesiser, but, that's not important.

    I'm not stupid enough to want to feel uncomfortable, so I'm wearing my robe. And, the forge is gas-heated, not coal, coke or charcoal. There's a pyrometer watching the temperature.

    The Synthesiser could work mithral, or 'bithral' which is what I'm planning to use, directly. Could make me a perfectly workable knife. But, it would be... character-less. Without... style. Not a crafted thing.

    I'm working a range of metals, and I have my science data book, and engineering manuals, memorised. Also, all the appropriate metallurgical texts. New and old works. on smithing. The making of weapons. I want to know what working bithral feels like, how it changes under the hammer, the colour, the ring, the... taste.

    I'm also allowing my magical flows to mix with the various metals, then, drawing them out again. Similarly, flows of chi. Neither feels... quite right. There are many sorts of other energies I could use, but, again, they don't feel right.

    I stop. Take a break. A cup of imported English tea, some nice fresh 'cookies' from the auto chef. At least my temper seems better.

    I feel a thread of my spirit, reach out, touch the bithral I was hammering. It feels... right. Looks like I'll need those books on blood magic. If I want to get my spirit to become part of the metal...

    I'm pretty sure this is going to hurt...

    ---

    I need a break so I scout a route to d-walk, to Tokyo, Japan, the docks. I'm beginning to think I did something stupid on my England visit. Asimov doesn't seem to be an author known in this world, or, at least, known widely. So, that was not the London, England, of this world that I shopped in. Best to be careful with showing anyone my books.

    The Tokyo robot shop, yes, that does seem to exist in this world. I have a phone number, I left a message on an answer-phone. Now, to keep my promise, I need to get a build cell, there. So, I need a route along which I can push or drag a small trolley.

    Without being burnt as a witch.

    According to the Bank of Mammon my visas will cover the UK and Japan of a number of worlds. They are just that good. Also, if I pay a fee, any of my accounts will be marked with the world where the money was drawn. So, I'll be able to tell which London I visited. A worthwhile investment, I think.

    The route looks good. I'll only need a brief bit of flying, where I'll need to carry the trolley. Something to do this evening. I've checked where I need to appear at the docks, get my items into the local delivery system, with all proper customs paperwork done, and fees paid. From 'Geo' to 'Max'.

    ---

    A phone call from Oracle. With her usual voice changes. Guarded conversation, apologies on my part, but, thanks from her. We'll talk further, when she feels better. The medical treatment she's under is apparently good for expelling foreign influences, and fixing certain problems, but, doesn't provide instant healing. I get the impression there's other issues, but she isn't at liberty to discuss these.

    We'll talk further. I feel a lot better after that promise.

    ---

    Raven cancels our afternoon session. Says she thinks I need more time to 'settle'. Funny thing. Robin cancelled the morning training. Said something similar. Also, I guess he'd heard about Oracle. Roshi just grinned at me, gestured me out the door.

    So. I've gone into the city. After 'loading up' my driving skills. Taken a driving lesson. Seeing as they drive on the other side of the road, and I know the UK (and Japanese) road signs, it seemed wise. Bought some maps of the city. 'Real' ones and tourist. Oh, and I paid the (expensive) fee for an immediate driving test. I passed. Quite reasonably, as 'driving' (and using maps) is now a permanent part of my mind.

    Next time, I'll be ready.

    ---

    Japan trip OK. Goods delivered. No unexpected goblins. So, a success.

    One of the customs men was particularly attentive. I'd gone, as myself, 'Sugoi', that is. And, once the business was done, he'd asked me for a particular favour.

    A photograph. Which was not posed, and, I think, taken in SF Japantown, after the fight with the shadows. He wanted it signed 'for his daughter', but, I've a strong suspicion it was really for him. So. I guess. I'm getting known in Japan?

    I sign it. In Japanese.

    Fame?

    ---

    Back at the Tower. Relaxing. Not a bad day, I guess.

    Then, another phone call from Oracle. We move it to the secured area. She's signed herself out of hospital, would like to see me. Tonight. If I can figure-out how to find her.

    I guess it's some sort of test?

    So, I'm going to make it more interesting. Show her just what I can do. D-walk there, in my robot body. A good field-test. Carrying a medi scanner.

    What could go wrong?




    AN: You knew what a pyrometer was, didn't you?

    AN: How will Geo handle fame? I guess we'll see. :)

    AN: Tempting Murphy (some would say 'fate'). Well, Geo has to learn, sometime...
     
  22. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    I’m going to pretend that Sugoi is making waves in Japan because that Buddhist priest has a TV show. So his camera crew was present; Robin was blurred to protect his identity and Raven had some sort of privacy spell running already, so Sugoi caught the proverb-loving audience’s attention.

    Also is Sugoi still bald?
     
  23. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    You may choose to believe this...

    But, as a future episode will show, the problem's a lot worse than that... She may have otaku...

    I'd be interested in knowing which bit of the story led you to think Sugoi is bald.
    (I've made a wild guess that it's Geo inspecting herself in the mirror, Episode 5, and added the word 'longer' to the text.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020 at 12:43 AM
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  24. Threadmarks: Robot, Search and Secrets - Episode 49
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 49

    OK. Logistics. Visiting Oracle.

    I'm going to leave my flesh body in a med-bed. Take my robe and Third Eye focus, because I don't have duplicates of those. I'll take the translator, and a standard anti-possession amulet, just-in-case. That and a medi scanner, with fully-charged, and backup, 'batteries', should cover most things.

    A smooth move from flesh to flesh-covered robotics. I was pretty sure that would work. But, I feel a little weak, and clumsy. Climb out of the med-bed.

    Loot the body! (Dad's friend taught me that.)

    Ow. Static? "Nurse? What was that?"

    Nurf looks over, from where she's sitting, reading a novel. Avatar Nurf speaks.

    "Life energies fluctuated, then stabilised. No obvious health issues. One of your 'chi' things?"

    Actually... I feel better. Back to full strength, and, my reflexes seem improved. A little Tai Chi. All seems good. Hmm.

    Yes, I can levitate. Pale-blue aura, chi-reach out, pick-up a medi scanner. Funny, I've not tried to use chi in a robot body before. I'd expect some issues...

    "Are you sure my human body is OK?"

    "All readings nominal. Same readings as when you last pulled a body jump. Don't ask me about chi, you know that's not something I understand. However, I'd suggest you be cautious."

    Let's be thorough.

    Meditate. Open my Third Eye. That... feels a little strange. My flesh body looks OK, no spirit, obviously, but the anti-possession amulet looks its normal sneaky self. Chi looks a bit low, but, is slowly climbing back up. Tech, nothing unusual. I can see the flows Nurse is using to monitor currently not-me. Magic... Obviously, no robe. Flows look good.

    Wait a minute... I look closer. My protective chi-coat, just below my skin. It's gone. What?

    Then, I look down, at my robot arm. The chi-coat is there, but, maybe, a little brighter than usual. Tied to my robe, and... yes, there're delicate spirit flows to the amulet on my human body. Interesting.

    Certainly worth investigating.

    But, later.

    ---

    D-walking is OK, but I've already done that with a 'naked' robot, so hardly surprising. Finding Oracle...

    My astral form was suddenly there, no navigation, no feeling of movement. Recalling Raven, people can be 'locations', if you've a strong enough connection to them. I'm a close enough friend of Oracle? Didn't realise.

    I fumble around, but, no 'instant jump'. Maybe I can get a direction, if I get a bit deeper into the dimensions? Worth a try.

    Try a number of routes, but they don't 'feel' right. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I just don't know the USA well enough.

    I've learned there's a dimensional layer which seems to handle Earth orbit with no need to breathe. Not too difficult to reach. From there, I can tell Oracle is in the US. East Coast.

    Have I got any clues? I've not heard Oracle speak without scrambling, so nothing there. Superman, I think he's based in Metropolis, but, he doesn't have a clear accent. The doctor... I can hope he was a local. I think he had a New York accent.

    There's a graunching feeling in my head, and, I realise that was a Gotham City accent. Batman is supposed to be based there, and I know both he and Robin are connected to Oracle.

    I peer down at the East Coast, and I've got a feeling where Gotham City is. Let's try closer...

    OK, I'm over Gotham, though still out-of-phase. I can see, but few should be able to spot me. That tower feels right. Scout around a bit. The front door looks sealed, and, I'm guessing, armoured. There's a side door, inconspicuous, with a ramp, probably good for a wheelchair. A doorbell.

    Guess I'd better try...

    ---

    Ring the bell. A delay. A distorted woman's voice from a concealed intercom. "What? It's pretty late. I didn't order anything."

    "I'm sorry I don't know whom I'm addressing, but I got a phone call. Asked me to come over. I think I've got the right place."

    There's a pause.

    "Wait. I'll come down."

    I'm pretty sure there're several weapons pointed at me. Both outside the door, and once I step inside. Look like 'murder holes', above.

    Nice. Really welcoming.

    A screen lights-up. "Who are you?"

    "I think I'm a friend. Pressed a red button marked 'Help'. Someone in blue arranged a hospital visit. OK?"

    There's a buzz, and a door opens. Yes, it's seriously armoured.

    "Come in."

    ---

    We're in a rather untidy but comfortable room. Drinking coffee. Oracle is the red-headed woman I saw previously. And, she's still in a wheelchair. Even through the protection of the robe I can tell she's got a strong grip, as she shakes my hand.

    "So. You're a friend of Robin. Did he help you find my hide-away?"

    "No... Finding here... I've some problem-solving skills, but I'm nothing like a detective. I didn't even know the right city. But, I used what clues I could think of, Gotham seemed likely, and once I got here I followed my nose."

    "On a good day I can tell where... friends are. Seems to be part of my psychic powers."

    She sips her coffee, watches me for a while.

    "Do you know Gotham well?"

    "No, I'm afraid not. This is my first visit. It... doesn't look like somewhere that encourages tourism."

    A brief laugh. "You got that right. I'm not a great believer in psychic powers, but there's some strange talents among the super-powered. You always came across as a technical type, though. On the other hand, you did say you were Raven's apprentice, so I guess weird powers make sense."

    "What do you think about robotics?"

    "Bit of a strange question. Your reputation is pretty good on the subject, I know."

    "I've got a reputation?"

    "Didn't I tell you? No, I was going to tell you a bit later, then I... collapsed." She swallows.

    "I'm training to be the team doctor. I've got access to various weird science medical gadgets. I brought one here, tonight. You can look at it, if you like?"

    Carefully, slowly, I open the bag. Extract, hold-up, the medi scanner. She nods. I slowly hand it to her. She turns it over, inspects it.

    "Looks hand-made. I can see tool-marks. A hatch. Battery compartment?"

    "Yes. It's a medical scanner. Lets someone with the right skills diagnose problems. Even allows a detailed scan, good enough to grow a copy of a body. Accurate finger-prints, retina patterns, scars, tattoos, the lot. No nasty traps, self-destructing clones, reliable."

    She raises her eyebrows. "There's people who'd kill to get something like that."

    "Like I said, useless without the right training. And, far as I know, no one on this world can do that training."

    "But, you've got it?"

    "Yes."

    "Who knows about this?"

    "Raven, Cyborg, Nurse, though she's a special case, Robin, Batman I guess. They know the details. Starfire and Beast Boy know some of it. And, now, you."

    "What about you? Don't you count?"

    I grin. "Ah, but I'm a robot."




    AN: Murder holes, just what you need in your hallway. :)

    AN: Just how deep is Geo getting herself? I guess we'll see...
     
  25. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    The whole time, I guess.
    I got the impression that Geo's body was freshly made when Raven summoned her: no hair, no scratches or skin anomalies. Vat grown without the conceits of how television usually shows clones. Logically her recent robot bodies did not have hair when they were fleshless.
    And I thought it was implied that Sugoi received less attention in Jump City when she wore her cloak's hood up or when she wore a hat.

    I might've gotten a bit of a partial mixup with Life Ore Death's Jinx (young justice fanfic on SV) since she was originally grey-skinned and bald, eventually growing short pink fuzzy hair. Obviously their ethnicities would be really different though.
     
  26. Malcanthet

    Malcanthet Shy Adorable Arachne

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    That would technically depend on the spells Raven used, how much 'power' she pumped through them. How long of hair Geo's mental model had, how much hair Geo actually had. Whether or not Raven let some of her Demonic essence out as she was casting the spells, what kind of magic circle she was using, what she used to write the magic circle. Did she leak some of her Demonic essence out as she was inscribing the circle, what phase the moon was in while incribing the circle, what phase the moon was in when she started the ritual. What phase the moon was in when she finished the ritual ... Ect, ect.
     
  27. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    Every version of Superman I've seen -- which is by no means all of them -- speaks with a Lower Midwest accent.

    You might not notice, since that's the standard accent for American television and movies. It's like BBC English that way -- every character that doesn't have an accent as a prominent character trait defaults to Lower Midwest for ease of production.

    Lower Midwest is the accent used in much of the central US, and is the correct accent for Superman's small-town Kansas background.

    Geo can be forgiven for not knowing (or noticing) that detail, though.
     
  28. rdfox

    rdfox Getting sticky.

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    More like BBC Received Pronunciation than you might think, BTW--American newscasters who have aspirations of going beyond their local home market tend to cultivate a Lower Midwest accent to facilitate it; ones who reach the national news networks tend to have pretty much adopted it completely, perhaps with a faint tinge of their original accent (like how Peter Jennings retained a touch of his native Canadian accent) for color. Even those who want to stay in their original home market area tend to somewhat cultivate it to moderate their native accent, simply because, much like Received Pronunciation, it's an accent that is very clear and easy to understand for anyone, regardless of what they may have grown up listening to. (Ask someone with a thick Maine accent and someone with a thick Texas drawl to communicate, and they'll have nearly as much trouble as if they spoke different languages; "thin" the accents out with a practiced Lower Midwest accent, though, and it'll greatly simplify matters.)

    Honestly, the biggest difference from Received Pronunciation is that Lower Midwest is not an invented accent created specifically for broadcasters, but a regional accent that proved to be very neutral and understandable and was thus adopted by the media...
     
  29. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Re-reading things, there isn't an actual description of Geo. But, I strongly suspect, Garfield would've asked why she was bald.

    Yes, the body has no obvious flaws, but the robot body Geo was in before summoning also lacked such. The living body was patterned after the robot body, which you might suspect from the story had a latex skin. And, the robot body did have head-hair, in a short bob-cut, for easy maintenance, if you're curious. I may link a picture to give some ideas, at some point.

    Raven doesn't do 'clones', she 'does' living bodies, correct in all details, and ready to run. With extra effort she also does clothes. And, she can create minds, with some self-will and skills, out of whole cloth. That's where her 'demons' come from... (Though, they might be made of ectoplasm, not living flesh.)

    I don't recall Geo wearing a hat in the story... There's a magical detail about her robe being good to make disguises, which I think became clear on her London shopping trip. But, making a good disguise depends on the skill of the user.

    Jinx may appear in the story at some point...

    Raven was very, very, careful with her Apprentice Summoning spell. Had firm control of practically everything, except who'd turn-up.

    The spell produced someone in ideal health, in their (late) teens, and used as a template the body they were in before being summoned as a base pattern. Being bald is not normally part of 'ideal health' or someone's mental image of such. So...

    Of course, there's the question of what sort of body Geo was in at the point of being summoned. Actually, it was her 'best body', one with robot innards and a living skin (with hair). Yes, she'd got other, latex-skinned, bodies around. And, no, she hadn't got the hardware in the living-skinned body to make it stand-alone without the bits of her mind in external servers. So, Raven's spell copied the living skin, and rearranged its living organs, as well as replacing all of her non-living innards with living bits. Then, shoved her into this, new, body.

    Tricky to be in 'ideal health' if your insides are non-living...
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020 at 5:17 PM
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  30. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Geo is not a linguistics expert, though in her box-of-skills is a Linguistic Analysis set which she's not used.

    She's also not spent a lot of time in the US, or known many Americans, as her sole visit was to the West Coast, Los Angelos area. She does know what an East Coast accent, specifically New England, is like, though, and some general ideas about other places like New York.

    Interesting!

    RP is not a purely invented accent, though, as it's supposed to be based on the 15thC East Midlands of England one. Worth noting, though, is that going 30 miles, in any direction, in England got you to people with a different accent (or, the sea, about 100mls is supposed to be the maximum distance to the nearest salt water anywhere in England).
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020 at 5:59 PM
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