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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. Threadmarks: Coffee, Office and Offer - Episode 50
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 50

    "You're a robot. You just sat there, drank a cup of coffee. You went white, earlier, when you looked at the murder holes. That isn't a wig, that's either living hair, or the best fake I've ever seen."

    "Living flesh over a metal endo-skeleton. A quote from a film that few seem to know of in this world. Well, mostly plastic, metal's too heavy."

    A disbelieving look.

    "I can show you the sockets on the back of my neck? Where I can plug-in skill chips or interface cables?"

    "Those can be added using surgery. There's loads of deluded fools out there that'd do that sort of thing."

    I sigh. "Got a good, strong, small flash-light? A small mirror on a stick? If I roll-up the back of my shirt then you can take a look around inside me, through the maintenance seam."

    ---

    A rather embarrassing time later, and, 'Barbara' is a lot more convinced. Yes, I've told her I'm 'Geo'. Looking inside someone, even if they're designed for it, can lead to first-name terms.

    She did raise an eyebrow when she saw the knife sheathed on the back of my belt. I promised she could look at it, later.

    "You didn't have to tell me that. You're a convincing enough fake that I wouldn't have guessed. So, you have an agenda. Give."

    "I will do, but, didn't you promise me a look, seeing as I'm actually, physically, here this time, around your workplace?"

    Grudgingly, she agrees.

    ---

    Her 'office' is really impressive. I'd only glanced at it, before, I'd more important things to worry about. And, maybe, the sort of eyesight a spirit has... missed some of the nuances. Still haven't figured how I could hear Batman and Superman, though.

    Everything at her fingertips. Computers, comms gear, like auto diallers, multiple varieties of radio, at least one satellite uplink. Fax machines, a Morse key... The lot. I think she could spot my envy. Probably, smell it.

    I didn't murmur, "It's so beautiful!", at one point. Honest.

    I ask permission to look around, and the queen graciously gives it. Though, I get a look when I levitate up to look at one of the higher features.

    "I hope that your anti-gravity, or whatever it is, doesn't damage any of my equipment."

    "Don't worry, all natural energies. More likely to make moss grow than fry anything."

    "How does a robot get powers which run on natural energies?"

    "Ask Robin. He kept training me till I learned it. It was either that or become a super martial artist who could walk through walls, and fly in space. Oh. I learned that later."

    Not a bad incredulous look from her. I get another one when I float upside-down to look in her false floor.

    "I'm not the world's best acrobat, but I picked-up a few tricks."

    Though, looking at her slumped shoulders, that might not have been the wisest comment...

    I ask her to explain how she does some of the more complex hacking. That cheers her up, and I think some of this is beginning to make sense to me.

    Maybe she'd like to visit the Moon, some day?

    But, sooner or later we run out of stuff to look at. And, float, or wheel, back to her lounge. Where, over more coffee, I have to explain myself.

    The delay while I show her my knife, and my boot knives, is far too short. Though, the way she can throw my knives, hit a battered dart-board, on the far-side of the room, bullseye or near.

    That was worth seeing.

    ---

    The moment of truth.

    "I don't like the way you're confined to a wheelchair. So, I asked Raven a hypothetical question, no names, no details." I take a deep breath.

    "According to her a major sacrifice in someone's life can be part of gaining new abilities. And, nothing can reverse that sacrifice until a new... balance has been achieved."

    She doesn't look convinced.

    "I'm sure you were clever, good at solving problems, before you were... disabled. But, did you find that your new skills came remarkably easily, almost as if you were inspired, almost as if someone were whispering secrets into your ear?"

    We drink some more coffee. Look at each other. Finally she speaks.

    "Why? Why are you torturing me like this?"

    "Because, if I believe Raven, there's something... dark, occult, about Gotham. We've seen others who've been transformed by sacrifice, become super-human. All without knowing what's going on. Something... monstrous has happened to them. But, they've survived. Become strong in new ways." I pause.

    "No names, people have secrets. But, unfortunately, not all are 'good guys'. And, the powers, which often hide themselves, vary."

    "Explain to me. Why robots."

    "Once you've mastered your new abilities, and I'm pretty sure you have, new possibilities can open. You could have a robot, looks just like you, see through their eyes, hear through their ears, walk the streets of Gotham on their legs. All while remaining safe, here in your fortress."

    She grins, in quite a nasty way. "Good try. You'll have to do better."

    OK. I'll have to risk it.

    "So, you won't buy the robots? Even a robot assistant to make your life easier? Right. The big one. The one you wont believe."

    She cocks her head to one side.

    "You don't have to remain crippled. If you want to, you can have the use of your legs back. Yes, you'll probably need to retrain, build-up muscles. But it should all be fixable."

    "You still don't believe me?"

    "I've had operations. The best doctors. Genius super-scientists. Nothing. Worked."

    "But, that was early on? Before you'd established yourself as Oracle? You can never go back, only forwards. I learned that even before I met Raven."

    She shakes her head.

    "I said I was a robot. You've seen I am. Well, yes, I am at the moment. But, back at the Tower, in a med-bed. My living human body is sleeping. In one of the most advanced medical facilities in the world."

    "I lay this robot, down in a bed. I stand up, from the next bed, as a human. Yes, I'm a bit of a special case, with psychic talents. But, I'm pretty sure, if you lie-down in a med-bed you could get up with working legs."

    She looks at me, blank-faced.

    Then, she's crying in my arms.

    After a while, I'm crying too.

    Will it all work out?

    I hope so.




    AN: Bit of a tear-jerker, but, sometimes they are...

    AN: You might suspect that Gotham isn't a nice place...

    AN: You might also suspect Raven's been talking about a certain clown-girl... And, maybe investigated who she's attached to...
     
  2. Extras: Raven Lunacy, Author Omake 5
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Author Omake 5

    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 falls after Episode 50.

    AN: This Omake is in honour of dogbertcarroll, the fanfic author, who has greatly entertained me, and undoubtedly influenced my writing.

    ---

    Raven sighed. They thought she was stupid. Or, at least distracted. By de-cursing her apprentice.

    But, she'd set wards, and sensor seines, nets hanging to catch the smallest impression. Linked to a tangle net, a trap for those trying to move in or out by any non-mundane means.

    The inner nets covered the Tower, the middle ones the city, and the outer, which was sensor-only, the Earth. The knowledge from the last she only delved into given good reason - maybe her apprentice could make her one of those 'artificial intelligences' to watch that for her?

    Of course, she'd set exclusions for her, her apprentice and Kory. And, Master Roshi, after the first time she'd caught him. Though, she still got reports on all passage.

    And, because she wasn't a fool, all that was automatic, and powered in such a way that it didn't directly draw on her personal energies.

    ---

    Previously she'd caught a number of demons in the city net. But, questioning them taught her little. They just knew they'd been summoned by one of her father's minions, but could give no name. A quick assay, and she either destroyed them or sent them back. She could hope that upset both her father and the minion.

    She'd caught a few humans (or similar), but the way the net worked the captured were held in a timeless state. A quick check and some were 'bounced', some dropped at the city boundaries, a few she'd stored to think about later. Yes, it wasn't a nice thing to do, but, they weren't suffering, or getting any older.

    Two nights ago something had tried, quite hard, to get out through the city net, but avoided being caught. She didn't recognise the type of travel, but it felt magical. After that she'd strengthened the net; it still was weak compared to the Tower one, but should stop anything but a major god.

    Hopefully that'd make it quite clear that someone was being serious.

    Of course, both the Tower and city boundary nets examined those who came and went by more mundane means. Again, far too much for her to check without either a specialised daemon or a golem mind, or, she should call it an 'AI'. Making daemons, yes, she could do it, but, it made her... uncomfortable.

    ---

    Tonight she had a puzzle, Two captures, one in the city net, one, far more worrying, in the Tower one.

    The Tower one was interesting, an attempt to swap the wooden remains of Puppet King, in his glass box, for a nearly identical puppet. The original was unchanged, the planned replacement had a powerful demon of possession (one of her father's, of course!) very cleverly hidden within it. Bound in such a way only specific outside magic would free it.

    First solid evidence Puppet King was linked to her father's minion. Maybe.

    She hoped she wasn't learning too much humility from her apprentice...

    But, so far, when she thought about it carefully, used her tiny blue mirror, she just felt better balanced. And, maybe just a little wiser. Which was another victory over her father.

    Real Puppet King back in his box, fake into a lead box with extra enchantments.

    The other one, a (mostly) human, come a long way, across the dimensions, carried by dreams and, she thought, a twisted wish. A nice young man with a mind and spirit she liked the taste of, one she thought could grow to be a friend. But, far from where the look of his destiny said he should be.

    So, far journeys.

    ---

    Standing. In a white stone palace. Lit by source-less light. Glowing presences.

    Good practice. They had immense power. But, someday, hopefully not too soon, she'd have to face her father.

    "I believe this is yours."

    She indicated the sleeping mortal figure, floating in her shadow, in Aquaman underroos.

    Without sound, the presences conferred.

    "Yes."

    "And, one of your 'opposition' used time-travel to send him to another world. My home."

    Hmm. Interesting I thought that rather than 'Mine'...

    "Yes."

    "So, I bought him back. He looked to have an important destiny."

    More silent conferring.

    "Yes."

    "Any objections to him being returned to his home?"

    "We do not like your kind. You have far too much power, and you disrupt things too much. But, yes, in this case, We, the Powers-That-Be, agree. And, We will ensure there's no more tampering with his time-line."

    "Good."

    And, with that, Raven returned six-year-old Xander Harris to his family home.




    AN: Seine so you know... And, tangle net.

    AN: Daemon, because you shouldn't get these things mixed up...

    AN: Underoos; please keep track of your sleep-wear!

    From: BtVS "The Killer In Me 7.13"

    AN: Xander Harris, because you really should know. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  3. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Clever, clever magical pests this time around... And yay, my old theory got a moment in the spotlight!

    Also I reckon that Sugoi might get trapped or harmed by a trap like that if she keeps exploring. Imagine that- the Titans invade a magic-using villain’s lair, Sugoi offers to scout via astral projection (perhaps on her first team mission), and she has to fend off some thematically appropriate wards. Nothing is ever as simple as you expect!
     
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  4. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I'll admit that I find stupid bad guys boring... As for your theory, things aren't always what they seem. :)

    There is a risk Sugoi might get trapped at some point... But, I'll admit it's taking a lot longer for her to get involved in team missions than I expected. Also, some things I expected twenty episodes ago haven't happened yet.

    You'd think someone else was driving this thing! :)
     
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  5. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    I blame Roshi. Perhaps he also has Geo and Garfield’s curse.
     
  6. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Roshi's 'curse' is described pretty early on, and is on a leash. Geo has apparently been thoroughly de-cursed. Of course, there's the issue of what replaced her curse... Which has been hinted at... And what Robin has to do with it...

    Might be best to avoid adding robot cat girls and power-armour with built-in high-heels to the plot-line... :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  7. Threadmarks: Oops, Tests and Friends - Episode 51
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 51

    "Oops."

    Not, on the surface a scary word. But, under certain circumstances, rather worrying.

    You may be thinking 'clothing malfunction', or pratfall. Leaving your passport behind when you go on holiday. Your bag of shopping on your car roof when you drive home from the mall. Even, shredding an old envelope then realising it contained cash.

    Me, I'm thinking more a word you don't want to hear from an explosives expert. Or, someone who's employed in nuclear power.

    I guess my 'oops' falls somewhere between those. More than involuntary nudity, less than 'Oh look, I'm dead'. So, no 'Darwin Award', for me, quite yet. Though, I'm unsure if those count for robots. But, really not something desirable when dealing with fundamental forces, like life and death.

    I'm stuck outside my body.

    ---

    Initially, I didn't know 'why'. Yes, I was in a robot body, but, I'd astral projected out of one before. Returned to 'the flesh'.

    But... Having a good memory isn't always a blessing. That robot body wasn't covered in living flesh. There were no 'chi' issues. And, and... Now I think about it carefully, it felt 'sticky', a little difficult to leave.

    From there I flashed back to my murder, on the long walk home from the world we'd fled to. That was before I learned astral projection, long before Raven summoned me to this world. My body was latex, not living, skinned. But, it shared one important characteristic. There wasn't enough on-board computing hardware to allow independent operation.

    Never really understood how that worked. Somehow my living spirit was substituting for missing hardware? I was a ghost animating a machine? Or, it was one of those dimension-walking phenomena? I needed to be murdered before I could leave that body?

    Reduced to pitiful, broken, scraps?

    There must be a way to avoid that. I know so much more, have access to far more powerful tools, helpful, powerful, friends.

    Particularly the friends.

    ---

    Running the tests...

    The Synthesiser shows exactly what I expected. All my hardware looks OK, all my systems are up-to-spec. The medi scanner capability shows my living skin is unchanged, but, that, just like the med-bay scanners, doesn't 'do' chi.

    I also try the stand-alone medi scanner I took to show Oracle. As expected, the readings from that match the Synthesiser. I even stand in a build cell, let all the conventional tech tools, the ones living-skin-safe, anyway, scan me. All readings as expected.

    Then, down to the med-bay. Lie in a bed. Yes, all matches up.

    I know Nurse has deeper capabilities. But, for the moment, they're locked behind 'command authorisation'. And, they're the bits of her systems I trust least, being on the verge of breakdown. Leave alone, for the moment.

    Unless I get really desperate.

    ---

    Raven wasn't greatly concerned.

    She pointed-out she'd stuffed Blackfire into the robot body I 'donated'. Was pretty sure she could move me back into my living body. After all, it's capability as a 'spirit house' hadn't been wrecked, as the Janus Crown had done to Blackfire.

    Though, she's unsure how much brute-forcing the move might damage my robot body. Or, my chi.

    That led me to my study of robo-Blackfire. The extra chips, the ones that mysteriously appeared, in her structure. They were, really, arguably, the big difference tween that and my current robot body.

    Raven says she didn't realise there'd been 'hardware changes', that her magic had (just!) reshaped that body so it was 'suitable'. All this is one reason I've continued doubts about mixing magic and technology...

    She took me to the Tower trophy room. Showed me the glass box with Puppet King, who was, strangely, a wooden puppet.

    I could feel magic from the box, but no chi, no life-force, and didn't sense any spirit. Interesting, though, particularly the story about Titan puppets, that sucked their spirits from their bodies, and the way Raven and Starfire were seamlessly switched.

    I gather Raven very, very, carefully destroyed those Titan puppets.

    Raven informs me her improved defences would prevent that sort of thing happening again, unless it was backed by the power of something like a greater god. She also thinks the anti-possession amulets people carry, these days, would have at least helped.

    ---

    Victor is interested, says it's a fascinating problem.

    Though, from a selfish point of view, he's glad I discovered this before he got too invested in the living-skinned Victor-bot I built him. Thinks he can get his contact with S.T.A.R. Labs to make him another small batch of chips. This time, hopefully, with better security about the design, and who they're for.

    I remind him that the chips are at least dual-purpose, useful for navigation in 3d, arguably 4d, including time. Though, the associative-memory 'holographic' storage chips are more problematic. Those could be 'sold' as experimental, futuristic, WORM computer-memory chips. Probably credible.

    He agrees to give it a try, and, I promise I'll upgrade his skinned-robot, as well as this one.

    ---

    Kory wants to know how it feels different. I have difficulty explaining it, as most of the time our minds learn to ignore details of our bodies, unless they complain. She thinks my comment about being 'less squishy' is fun, and, we laugh a bit about that.

    Garfield... He just looks at me. Suggests we share a pizza. Then, says we need to test if my computer gaming skills have changed. To the lab! Well, actually, the console.

    Nurf, says she'll help me however she can. She generously doesn't say 'I told you so'. Master Roshi is fascinated, wants to test how my combat skills have changed, observe my chi flows, comments that far worse has happened to people he knows.

    I don't talk to Robin. He's a business associate, rather than a friend. Might be one, some day, but, he'll have to open-up a lot more. Also, any report I write for him, sorry, 'The Team', will be cleared by Oracle, first.

    Terra, or, 'Tara'... I talk to her. Tell her I've had a... lab accident. But, I should be OK. It's only fair, but, I don't give her any details.

    Mostly I talk to her so she wont feel left out.




    AN: Darwin Awards, because if you don't know, you really should.

    AN: There's been associative memory chips for quite a long time... WORM chips are more novel...

    AN: Bet you guessed there'd be consequences...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  8. Threadmarks: Trousers, Flying, Books and Steps - Episode 52
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 52

    Suddenly, you're a robot. No need to sleep. So useful. No need to...

    OK. I'll admit it. It's a good job this variety of robot can cry.

    Thinking back, before Raven 'acquired' me, I'd put a lot of effort into becoming more human. But, I'd resisted that final step, being... transferred into a (vat-grown) human body. I was... afraid. Maybe, felt I'd no longer be special, valued. Just one of the faceless human masses.

    The joys of being a teenage robot. No neural pruning. But, we still find ways to make our lives hard. You should see my risk-chasing night-clubbing sister...

    And I. I was always the sensible, dutiful, one.

    My father's friend was fond of quoting the Python. "Not Dead Yet."

    ---

    I'm going to be practical. Get on with things. Not quite 'business as usual', but there's plenty to do.

    I demonstrated the medi scanner to Oracle. Transcribed the scan notation on to paper. Explained that it suggested she needed a carefully-designed program of lower-body movement. Something she might be able to do on her own, but, it'd be hard work.

    Of course, she 'wasn't afraid of hard work'. Something I was already pretty certain was the case. I suggested that there were... technical solutions that could help, less drastic than trusting herself to weird medical systems. And, in case she was interested, I'd probably prototype them.

    So, I'm building the robot trousers.

    Not the normal sort of prostheses that my father had started on, which was more for people who'd survived stepping on mines. Though, various traffic, or industrial, accidents were other possibilities. And, the many medical causes.

    No, these were dual-purpose, providing compression, and also allowing slow walking, even stair-climbing. A couple of hours use per day would probably do. And, they could have sensors fitted so she could monitor her health.

    The trick was figuring-out the failure modes, and designing them out. Also, building-in redundancy, to handle the failures you could guarantee would still occur.

    No super-science. No 'magic'. Just straight-forward human engineering. And, good batteries.

    Oh, and I'd made it quite clear she got to keep all copies of the medical scans we did on her. They were her property, and would only be used with her agreement.

    ---

    I'd got something to discuss with Terra, too. I'd seen her fiddling with her Raven-supplied bracelets. The ones that help her control her power. She'd remarked that flying around on a lump of rock wasn't... ideal. So, I'm offering to help her test alternatives.

    An offer eagerly accepted.

    I also explain ideas about redundancy, and, confusing your opponents. So, yes, normally you have your 'rocky chariot', but, you also have a fall-back, that you try not to use where enemies learn of it.

    I explain that I'm guessing her powers only work on natural rock, but, does it need to be in one large piece?

    We experiment, and, as long as the smaller rocks are connected together, then, she can move them as easily as one large one. We measure and fit her for a 'parachute' harness, one without the canopy, and, with rows of pockets for flat rocks.

    And, yes, she can fly while wearing the harness. Maybe even learn to do a little acrobatics. Pretend it's acrobatic skill that lets her jump on and off rocks? I show her a few tricks I can do with my levitation.

    Then, I explain that her opponents would prefer her to have 'simple powers', so she's easier to predict. How you can beat them by managing their expectations. Type 3 instead of Type 2 thinking; working out what they might be thinking about you.

    She's now wearing one of the more evil grins I've seen. Why do I think she's got someone in mind to... educate?

    I think I'll wait till she gets used to that before mentioning some of my other ideas...

    ---

    Hitting the books...

    My father had a limited amount of teaching skill, but, it suited his (generally concealed) forceful personality. I'm more into a cerebral approach, appeals to the intellect. Not to say I couldn't adopt his methods, and, eventually get them to work, but, I think Raven's going to want me teaching people pretty soon.

    So, I'm studying education theory, some solidly experiment-based developmental psychology, because I think some educationalists are often not very... scientific. Some developmental physiology, too. I think, in some areas, the locals of this world are a bit... behind the curve.

    I'm drawing maps of the local dimensional structure, too. Comparing astral and d-walking. Looking for suspicious gaps, patterns of flow, even how they've changed over time, from some of Raven's older books,

    Why? Because I need to go places, other than local, find the spares I need for the med-bay, someone to sell me alchemical technology systems, training. Maybe, a 'hidden world' that I can use. Yes, I know, worlds generally have a good reason for being 'hidden'.

    I know there's more than three-dimensional structure to the inter-world paths, but, most travellers will still be using them with a limited mind-set. Or, just sticking to known paths. So, I need to figure-out the mental acrobatics to use those other dimensions.

    I'm going to need more math...

    ---

    And, Raven is right. I need to face my fears, understand them. Figure-out what's fancy and what needs practical management. Understand their roots. I'm beginning to think there's something hiding in my memory that I need to dig-out. That'll be fun.

    No reason I can't continue with my smithing, working on blades. Training to make best use of the products with Master Roshi. Robin may refuse to use potentially deadly weapons, but that philosophy isn't mine. I need to Master them.

    Weapons are tools, after all. And, being human is about using the right tools.

    ---

    So much to do. No waiting for the chips to arrive, or, fall.

    I'm wearing the boots, and they're going where I want.

    One step at a time.




    AN: Yes, there are robot trousers; some call them 'bionic'.

    AN: Neural pruning, is not actually a gardening activity...

    AN: Some rather dark bits in Monty Python and the Holy Grail...

    AN: Geo's 'Type 2' and 'Type 3' thinking is about how deeply you use Theory of Mind. You can see this in the more sophisticated work of the 'intelligence' services.

    AN: Not quite a 'crisis of faith', but close.
     
  9. Threadmarks: Seduction, Exploring and Swimsuits - Episode 53
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 53

    I'm seducing Robin.

    No, not in the physical way. More, if you don't spend time with someone, how do you ever expect to become their friend?

    Also, I've explained how, with careful use, and a little experimentation, you can use the med-bay to minimise required sleep. A mistake I admit I made, myself, as I didn't follow proper procedure.

    I can see he's interested. But is sure there's some catch. So, I further explain that sufficiently sneaky enemies might try and exploit this, make it a 'bad habit', so you depend on it, then cut you off from that resource.

    Robin likes this thinking. Particularly when I make it clear that your enemies may be smarter, or luckier, than you, and figure-out a way to exploit your behaviour you've not thought of. You just have to weigh-up the risks. And, be aware there may be information you don't have.

    He asks me where I learned to think like this. I admit I learned from my father, who was a troubleshooter, and sometimes had to deal with those who were clever, but not clever enough to figure-out they shouldn't have attracted his attention.

    He really likes that. Starts to, but doesn't say anything. Gives me one of his rare, unforced, grins.

    I'll talk to him about how this mixes with him being an unknowing shaman, later...

    ---

    Exploring Jump City, or San Francisco, if you prefer. Not smart to do this on your own. A good idea to have a friend. Or, at least, a companion. 'Friend' might come later.

    I make it quite clear to Robin I'm not a detective. I don't know how to assess streets, know who's watching, following, who. Certainly got no idea how to reliably follow people. Or, where to go or who to tap for information. That my stealth abilities are minimal. And, climbing, that's something for daylight and using lots of equipment.

    But, I've got quite good senses, with my Third Eye. D-walking can allow movement that few will expect. Just don't expect it to work in combat situations. I can levitate, even fly, slowly, giving access to places otherwise very difficult to get at.

    My motivation?

    I don't know the city, but I'd like to learn. We need to know what the skirmishing that's going on is all about. Mercenaries fighting demons. The first smells of Slade, the second might be connected to the imps who attacked us. Basically, we need more information.

    Normally, he'd scout alone. Yes, I'll slow him down, in some ways. But, I can provide him with resources to make scouting more effective.

    He thinks for a bit, says the reasoning seems sound. But, and I'm glad he finally admits this, he's still got his eye on me.

    Also, a bird/raccoon/bloodhound might be very useful on a scout, but he needs to ensure there's no... temperament issues. It's pretty clear who he's talking about.

    So. We will be scouting. Once we agree on procedures. Such as what to do if one or other of us is injured.

    Reluctantly, I've informed him I'm currently cyborged, though not how extensively. And, after I checked this was OK with Oracle, I'd been involved in helping her. I'll let him come to his own conclusions.

    Yes, I'm deliberately misleading him.

    ---

    Telling Raven I'm planning on 'city scouting', and with whom.

    On balance, she thinks it's a good idea. Robin apparently has his 'shaman shirt', but will need training in using it. And, yes, she wants me involved in that. It'll be fun to be the one with combat training, for a change.

    It's made quite clear I'm not, and never want to be, a shaman. She gives a little smile, suggests I check the literature, and consider whether the other alternative is something I'd prefer. No. I'll take 'neither of the above'. Thank you very much.

    Generously, she points-out I can't see in the dark. Offers to loan me a 'cat's eye' ring, which has the obvious cosmetic downside. I'll give it a try. Maybe see if I can encourage my Third Eye to learn the trick.

    She does make it quite clear if I run-into significant magic use she wants me to run-away. As fast as fits in with being stealthy, or faster if discovered. Says I could do with training in fighting hostile magi, but, she's unsure how best to arrange that.

    I see her point...

    And, yes, we've been busy with all sorts of things, but it seems smart she, sometime, takes my robe and carefully examines it.

    Talk about feeling naked...

    ---

    After I saw Raven I meditated for a while. Focusing on my magical flows. They'd felt a bit different since the 'Larry' incident, which unlocked my magic.

    I wanted to know if there were any changes that might assist me scouting. And, if I could tell what the changes were, in fact. Seemed unclear. Felt as though I'd now got some conscious ability to do ritual enchantment. Of some sort. I'd done it before, but, it'd been a rather hit-and-miss affair.

    Now? Still unsure. But, something... deep and heavy felt to have begun moving. To do with my robe? I could, just about, feel my magic flowing into it. Pooling. Strange.

    Guess I'd have to do a wait-and-see...

    ---

    Consulting with Victor.

    I've asked him to rig a portable listening system, parabolic mike, laser mike attached. Sound is his specialist area, after all, and we might find it useful. If it doesn't work either there's nothing to hear or we've clever opponents - either is valuable information. I consider arranging a lead to go in my interface plugs, but, that seems unnecessary complex.

    I ask him for ideas about scouting. He suggests I use my built-in radio, scan to see if there's any interesting signals. I'd half-thought of this earlier, but not explored the idea.

    Making sure I record anything suspiciously encrypted is also probably wise - means someone wants to keep things private. Cell phone signals often have a different 'taste' to military-style ones, and voice to data, so also worth checking for.

    So, sigint, 'signals intelligence'.

    ---

    One more thing with Robin.

    Explaining I've been thinking back, am unhappy with my swimming abilities. Or, more my 'not quite drowning' ones. Yes, I can make a little headway, and my flight abilities might help, but it's still a concern.

    Robin... agrees. Says swimming lessons are in order. After all, Jump City is coastal, and the Tower's on an island. He'll check whether any of the rest of the team need them. Something to go on the calendar.

    Guess I might get some use of that one-piece swimsuit I argued Kory down (up?) to...




    AN: Befriending Robin? May not work, but...

    AN: Running around the Tower, talking to people, not that exciting, but... If you don't prepare, you're likely to fail.

    AN: Signals intelligence.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  10. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I'm not happy with this episode, but I've spent quite a bit of time fiddling with it, and, bar scrapping it, I can't see any way to improve the thing. So, you get it, 'as is'.
     
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  11. Threadmarks: Ponies, Package and Visit - Episode 54
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 54

    Raven's taken me. To see the ponies. The pretty-coloured ones. With the horns, the wings, the... stompy feet.

    Why? She just grins at me. That grin worries me...

    A long trek, and we back-track several times, avoiding nasty dimensions, or even whole clumps of them. I get to do most of the navigation, I think Raven wants to test what I've learned.

    My local maps quickly prove inadequate, and I have to start, carefully, exploring, using higher than three-dimensional math. I think I surprise Raven, once or twice, though she's good at hiding that sort of thing. And, I caught her looking pleased, hopefully at my success.

    Finally we got close, a dimensional area I recognise from pony-watching with Raven (and occasionally Kory). She carefully steers us away from the actual world her 'alt' lives on, to another in a close-by cluster. This looks far more like a normal Earth, and the continental layout, from Space, looks similar. Yes, I'm wearing that bracelet, again.

    We sneak down to the planet, staying off the beaten track, sliding through reasonably dangerous dimensions. She leading, and the way she moves make me pretty sure she's been here before. We appear to be coming in on the West Coast of the United States, staying out-of-phase, see-but-not-seen.

    And, yes, that looked like San Francisco.

    But...

    ---

    The people, yes, they're human. Vary in height and build in the expected ways, though, on average, they look healthier. Clothing varied, but basically matches. What's different...

    Skin, and hair, colours. Purple skin, orange skin, green, red, just about any colour you could imagine. And, either the hairdressing industry works really hard, here, or people come 'out of the box' with striped hair. And, weirder.

    I look at a green-skinned girl arm-in-arm with an orange-skinned boy. Yes... I can make a few guesses...

    And, I look at a widely-grinning Raven.

    "Do you think that Bank of Mammon card you told me about will work here?"

    I've a feeling our planned swimming practice may surprise Robin...

    ---

    Back at the Tower. Raven's showed me the basics of a 'stop the clock' manoeuvre, a dimensional travel trick that means you can be away, for a long time, but return a moment after you left. No, not before. That sort of thing is really best avoided. So, back at the ritual circle, in her room, in the Tower.

    We took extra time, returning, drew some new maps, worked-out ways to minimise tricky bits. With extra care to avoid populated areas. The amount of time in human-unfriendly atmospheres. A quick step, twist, step, while holding your breath was OK, but we got even those down to less than a handful.

    Raven wants to look at my math notes, so, I'll have to tidy them up, write-out stuff I've only got in my head. The university bookshop has been so useful, as has their library. I've got some books on special order, and I'm thinking of subscribing to at least one of the math journals.

    ---

    This morning a surprise. A package. A 'gift from a friend'. Containing computer chips. The sort, from the label, that Victor was still negotiating to get S.T.A.R. Labs to make. They'd had (another!) break-in, and everything was in turmoil.

    I showed the team, no reason not to. Victor inspected the chips, the label, mentally accessed the surveillance records. Says looks like it was delivered in the morning mail, by our normal mail-person. Nothing unusual.

    Robin, I notice his eyes narrow as he examines the note that was in the package. Delicately grips it, sniffs at it, holds the paper up to the light. Nods.

    "Hey, man! I'm the hound dog!" Garfield seems to fear infringement.

    Cyborg just grins.

    ---

    Self-inspection. Not a bad idea to maintain good health. But, I'm taking it further. Looking inside, with a medical endoscope.

    No, this isn't down my throat, or up other places. I'm going in through my maintenance seam, on my lower-back, along my spine. Checking out my non-living bits. Being a cyborg – there's some overheads.

    I could've used various sensors. Tried to use my Third Eye, though it doesn't work as well on myself, and, didn't work with a mirror. But, this, a fibre-optic cable. About as direct as I could be without getting... drastic.

    All looks OK. Living and non-living bits. I'd gone all the way up to my 'brain', where there was... more functionality than there should be. I could see where I would want to slot-in those extra chips. But, before then, there was a lot of testing to do. You really don't want to find your brain 'blue screening' on you.

    Also, I want to test something. Whether the non-living bits of me were being changed by my 'chi', in some way. So, I use the surgical part of the endoscope, shave a tiny sliver off the plastic of one of my ribs.

    And, get a strange glow, pale-blue electric (of course!) flickering across my ribs. It... doesn't feel like my chi, which gives me an aura that colour, or similar limb extensions. It feels... magical.

    And, as I watch, the mark left by taking the sliver is gone. OK. That happened. Magic I don't understand affecting my insides.

    At least I've got the sliver to examine, but...

    I'm going to have to talk to Raven.

    ---

    Later, I get a call from Oracle.

    "I call showing the note to Robin cheating!"

    "I call it 'using available resources'."

    I guessed she might've sent it. But, nice to have it confirmed.

    "You hacked the chip specs out of Victor's secure systems? You're trying to make a point, aren't you?"

    "I think I made it. They're not secure enough. I think... I'm going to have to make a visit."

    I pause. She doesn't say anything else.

    "Would you mind if I pop-over? I'll use your side-door, same as last time. Might look as if I'm bringing a friend. Got a couple of things you might like to look at..."

    "I'll put the kettle on."




    AN: Yes, another bits-and-pieces episode...

    AN: You recall the ponies, don't you? :)

    AN: Do you think wise people should worry about Raven taking an interest in math?

    AN: Endoscope, though you probably knew that.

    AN: You likely don't want a Blue Screen...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  12. Threadmarks: Control Issues - Episode 55
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 55

    Plans are nice. I like plans. But, there's a major issue.

    Sometimes they die before they're born.

    I'd planned to go see Oracle, as soon as I gathered some bits. But, when I walked through the lounge I discovered the Tower was under attack.

    Well, 'attack' might be an exaggeration. More, there seemed to be... an unconventional visitor.

    Garfield and Victor had been playing a video game, on the big lounge screen, which is also the main tv. Something with giant monsters and robots, which I'd not played myself, but they seemed fond of.

    And... Their game was being interrupted.

    A large masked figure had appeared on the screen, apparently by pushing the game they were playing off to one side, in a style similar to some cartoon character tricks. A T. Rex with head-mounted lasers was apparently upset about this, and roaring from it's rapidly decreasing screen space, but he seemed to be ignoring it.

    The boys were sitting watching, with opened mouths. I used my radio collar to call the rest of the team via the Tower internal comms, while making sure no alert showed in the lounge. It wasn't clear what else I could do.

    ---

    Fortunately everyone was in the Tower.

    We quickly got everyone but Raven, with the inclusion of Terra and Master Roshi. Then, Raven, who'd apparently been in the med-bay, because she joined us with a (annoyed-looking) Nurf. Who looked about my height rather than her more usual shorter self. Experience of Raven suggested she was hiding embarrassment.

    Something to ask about later?

    The masked figure on the otherwise blank screen appeared to be standing, front-stance, looking at us. Impossible to tell his height without a reference, but he had what's sometimes called a generous build; broad-shouldered and over-weight. Longish red-hair, a domino mask, side-burns, a costume apparently thrown-together from multiple sources.

    "I am Control Freak! And I'm here to teach you the power of video!"

    I'm guessing he's not on a friendly visit...

    He looks over the team, nods at various people, seems a little confused by others.

    "Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, OK. Starfire and Raven, right. You, you're not supposed to have joined, yet." He points at Terra, for some reason.

    "There's not supposed to be any adults here!" He glares at Master Roshi, who shrugs.

    "And, you, you, you're not even on the cast list!" For some reason he points at Nurse and me.

    Gathering himself, he pulls-out something that looks like a remote control 'improved' by a mad scientist.

    "Let the games begin!"

    ---

    I'm with Terra, Nurse and Master Roshi. We're watching the big screen. Maybe we should've done something when the lightning came out of the screen, and sucked everyone else in? But, it seemed to happen too fast.

    The screen is... dynamic. Sometimes maybe sixteen equal rectangles, sometimes a different arrangement with one larger image and the rest smaller. All showing what I'm pretty sure are different tv shows and films, with the odd video game. The team are full participants. As the sound we hear switches from scene-to-scene, directing our attention.

    Control Freak seems to be enjoying himself, in control of the environment. The Titans are being chased, though sometimes they get to chase him, as well as some more static scenes.

    I'm pretty sure some of those are old black-and-white productions, and I recognise Star Trek (locally called 'Warp Trek'), Star Wars, and Wile E. Coyote. The last was part of my education, learning to understand others may not see the world as you do.

    Seems a mix of child's game one-upmanship and psychological warfare. Terra looks confused, reaches a hand towards the screen, once or twice, then pulls it back. It's obviously outside Nurse's frame of reference. Master Roshi watches, nodding once or twice.

    Then, the screens arrange themselves with everyone but Raven and Control Freak in smaller screens round a larger central one. That's the two in a mad science lab, Raven strapped in a chair, attached wires, being monologued at. While they're obviously speaking lips are blurred, speech gently bleeped.

    With an immense effort Raven rips her way free, then stops.

    Something obviously offends her as she goes white, grey-skinned, then red-faced. Gestures, and Control Freak is now athletically fit. He says something, she goes even more red, gestures more violently, and the bleeping changes to, "... and stay that way!".

    Everyone stops moving, just looks.

    ---

    Team now back in the lounge. Screen just white, as it was at the beginning, with now-athletic visitor.

    "The little guy was right! Booyah! Infinite snacks with no downsides! If you get prodded right, you can be made to do anything!"

    Raven is, honest, not grinding her teeth. Probably good that she can heal.

    "Getting gadgets from my future-self worked, too! Hmm. What was his name? 'Larry' I think he said..."

    Gloating as various people react.

    "Good to let me visit."

    He looks us over, switches to a (bad) foreign accent.

    "I'll be back."

    ---

    Raven has calmed down. Kory-hugs helped. Garfield has explained 5th dimensional imps, for anyone interested. Victor is studying the Tower's systems, shaking his head.

    Robin seems a bit stunned, something shared by others.

    "I've... been having a difficult day. My... temper has been short."

    Apparently it's Raven confession time.

    "You've probably noticed that I've been relaxing some of my rigid emotional control, lately. Trying to enjoy life, smile more, allow myself to get a little upset. But, it's led to me saying things like 'Grow up!' to Nurf."

    One or two people nod. Terra looks confused.

    "It's... a work in progress. All my life, before coming here, I was taught I needed total control. Or, really bad things would happen. Potentially end-of-the-world things." She sighs.

    "No one told me about that!" Terra is obviously concerned.

    Raven gives her a little smile.

    "It's one of the reasons the Teen Titans exist. The adult super-heroes don't seem to care about the issue, so we're all living, working, together to support each other. And deal with it. Friends."

    Terra slowly nods. Nurf is a little wide-eyed, but after a brief pause, follows her.

    "I... can put this changed body in storage. 'Defrost' another servitor, imprint myself, business as usual?"

    I cough. Mentally crossing my fingers.

    "Nurf? This is a new world, new things to learn. Maybe you could try and see if being this new body helps? Would you mind giving it a try?"

    She looks a little uncertain, then, nods.

    "And, I hereby give you command authorisation to manage the servitors in whatever way you believe is best."

    Shock, then, a wide grin. Robin gives me a thoughtful look.

    There is much hugging.




    AN: Just in case, T. Rex.

    AN: I expect you know all about cartoon physics...

    AN: Want to know how tall, and heavy, American kids were, about year 2000? Maybe useful data for authors?

    AN: Front stance, as used in some martial arts.

    AN: A necessary part of every education: Wile E. Coyote.



    Arguably, "I'll be back" is more classic, though. :)
     
  13. Extras: Author Notes 6 - Story Ending
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Author Notes 6 - Story Ending

    It's possible that some of you may have asked, "When is this story going to end?". Or, you may have assumed that it's just going to trail-on, indefinitely, until the author's muse deserts them, or they fall under a bus. Well, I've got some good news, and some bad news...

    If you read Prince Charon's bit, at the beginning, then it should be clear that sooner or later Raven's apprentice gets sent home. After that, it's a different story. Also, part of the behind-the-scenes logic is that Geo's progress is being tracked, using tabletop RPG rules (see previous Author Notes). These game mechanics strongly suggest a particular end-point, in terms of 'experience points'.

    Now, when does all this happen? This Note should be just after Episode 55 (Friday 17th July), and there's a buffer which currently goes up to Episode 60. Looking at the pattern it would fit with about Episode 65 being the last one (another two weeks, Friday 31st July), including any Epilogue. Plotting may be required!

    Can I write this so it works, fits in the remaining space? I don't know. Let's see, shall we? :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
  14. Malcanthet

    Malcanthet Shy Adorable Arachne

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    I refuse to accept that. You will be wearing Terra's wedding ring before that! ;;;P
     
  15. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I do have the advantage of having read the buffer... And, it might not be Terra you should be thinking of. :)
     
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  16. Malcanthet

    Malcanthet Shy Adorable Arachne

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    Nah Terra needs aome more loving. If only to help deprogram her.
     
  17. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Hmm. Is it still a 'harem' if the protag can run multiple bodies at once? :)

    (Didn't go smoothly for Dr. Manhattan, though...)
     
  18. rdfox

    rdfox Getting sticky.

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    My money's on Nurf getting the Geo.
     
  19. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I could say 'I'll take that money", but, unfortunately I have an unfair advantage. :)

    Malcanthet / rdfox
    Just done Episode 60... You might like to know this... discussion has had some... impact on this episode.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
    rdfox and Malcanthet like this.
  20. Threadmarks: Dream, Payment and Story - Episode 56
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 56

    Super-villain attack. A pretty good excuse. Oracle accepted it, anyway

    So, I'm excused being late.

    But, I need to speak to Raven, First.

    To apologise.

    ---

    "I'm sorry. We just stood there, doing nothing. It was... like we had to watch. But, not interfere."

    Raven starts to say something, then stops. Looks thoughful. Walks to a shelf, takes a book, and flips through it.

    "I thought I remembered..." She murmurs. "Yes! Here it is!"

    She reads carefully, looks back and forward through a few pages.

    "The... intruder. Control Freak. I thought I remembered someone with powers like his. The power to pull things from works of fiction, drag people into them, entrance everyone with the 'story'." She grins, widely.

    "He's a Dream Walker, a Mystic Storyteller. They are rare but their greatest weakness is that their... powers cannot directly affect themselves. Unless, it is part of a story, and, that story must be told to others, preferably many others."

    "Is he magical?" I hope I don't sound plaintive.

    She frowns. "I think it is not quite magic, nor spritual. One of those which are difficult to classify. In fact..." She stares up into the air for a few seconds.

    "I don't think he knows what he is. The worlds he takes people are on the edge of the Dreaming, but he calls them the 'tv dimensions'. He said he had an 'atomic-powered' remote control, but, I think it is the dream of nuclear energy, as the ultimate power source, that he's using. I believe he thinks he's some sort of super-scientist."

    We look at each other, for a few moments.

    I break the silence. "What's his weakness?"

    Raven frowns. "You must join him, in telling the story. Add elements that fit, but which turns things towards your advantage. I'm afraid..."

    And she sighs. Deeply.

    "We'll have to get Garfield and Victor to help. They are the ones who know this battlefield."

    ---

    We're sipping tea, thinking about Raven's theory. Unfortunately, it's difficult to see how we can test it before we next meet Control Freak.

    Suddenly, Raven looks worried. "I don't think we can win if 'Larry' is giving him advice. He didn't seem to be properly prepared for who was in the team, but, he still managed to 'win'. What if he's better briefed, next time?"

    Everything. Stops.

    You know how there's always little sounds? The wind, the creaking of the building, the faint, maybe distant, buzz or humm of something electric? Nothing. Raven's strongest wards can produce that silence, but they have an oppressive weight of their own. I caught sight of a spec of dust, revealed by the light. Immobile. No scents. No pressure from sitting.

    Nothing.

    A pale lady. In black. With an ankh. Looking a little annoyed. Holding 'Larry' by one ear.

    "You know your function, the games you can play. You were given fair warning. But, you tried to cheat, by using a pawn. You've produced an imbalance."

    He really doesn't look happy...

    "So, you will pay, using your own, personal, energies, for what Raven does next."

    Unhappy? He looks like he has... I think someone called it 'cancer of the puppy'.

    Raven is grinning in a way I wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of.

    "Now, Think." The Lady looks at Raven.

    "Petty revenge is one possibility, but, you might want to think on a larger scale. That idea you had for really upsetting your father?"

    ---

    We hang in the air over... Azarath. It's frozen, between moments, but I still get the impression it's a scared city. Magnificent, but the inhabitants are deeply unhappy. The frozen chi flows show that.

    "Now. How to upset my father most? Hmm."

    Raven gestures, and a mirror appears. On the other side is an immense cavern, with walls covered in man-sized niches, currently empty.

    "Check I don't miss anyone, Sugoi. Or anything."

    The niches start getting oocupied, faster and faster. Quickly, there's no one left in the city but a single spirit in the central temple. Though, there are apparently living people, everywhere. In place of their natural spirits they have what you could call a dream, a shadow, of one. Even pet animals, and things like rats, are taken.

    We float through walls. We are in the sanctury, of the temple. An older woman, and, a living flame. Even though we are outside Time, they still move.

    "Azar." Raven addresses them. They both nod.

    "I can save the people, but you will have to stand here to face Trigon. If you follow the Story I was given, everyone will die, physically, bar my mother, and she will shelter your spirit."

    They nod, again.

    And we're back in Raven's room.

    ---

    "Are you all right, Sugoi?"

    "I... felt something happen... but, I'm... not sure what it was." I cough. "You were saying?"

    "You'd better not keep Oracle waiting any longer?"

    "Yes. That sounds right."

    Raven gives a tiny smile.




    AN: (Mysticism Warning) The Dreaming; not quite the DC one...

    AN: If you don't know what a lady in black with an ankh is about, might be best you find out...

    AN: What's going on, at the end, well, have you heard of need to know? Or, you might want to think about 'it was all a dream', used in reverse...
     
  21. Threadmarks: Time to Trade - Episode 57
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Time to Trade - Episode 57

    Oracle visit. Take two. Something's... being hidden from me.

    I don't know what, but... I think something cosmic happened. Again.

    And, I've this nasty suspicion...

    Talking to Raven about it wont help.

    ---

    I've done the 'temporal two-step'. I've this nasty suspicion (another one) I'm running out of time. So, using that trick Raven taught me, you can return a moment after you leave. Or, in this case, fit-in extra things without being even later visiting Oracle.

    Seeing as I'm outside time, floating above San Francisco, should be unlikely I'm interrupted. So, I'm levitating, focusing on my chi, balancing that with my magic, and psychic energies, feeling around for what I should be doing next.

    "Excuse me, miss? What are you doing in the Speed Force?"

    ---

    Ah.

    A man all in red, with yellow bits, and a lightning bolt symbol on his chest. Running on the spot. I've read enough to recognise the Flash. One of the big names. I hope I'm not supposed to meet all the founding members of the Justice League...

    "I... didn't think I was in the 'Speed Force', and in fact I don't know what that is. I'm Sugoi, Raven's apprentice. She taught me a trick to use while dimension walking. So you don't use-up any time. Once I've figured-out what I'm doing next, I'm going to walk off through the dimensions. Probably that way." I indicate my planned route.

    He rubs his eyes.

    "Your arm did something really strange, just then. Raven? The Teen Titan? The... one who uses weird magic?"

    "Yes?"

    "Oh... Kay... So, you're not a new speedster? You're... using magic?"

    "Actually, I'm using a psychic power, to dimension walk. I'm not very good at magic. No, I'm not very fast. And, psychic powers aren't easy to use, they don't work well in combat. You can't touch the real world from where we are."

    He's obviously thinking.

    "I've felt a few, brief, uses of the Speed Force, from this area, so that's why I'm looking around. So, I probably felt Raven, and, you?"

    "I think so. Oh. You might want to be careful. We've been attacked, recently. In the Tower. So, Raven's put up defensive magic. I don't know if it might get in your way."

    A thoughtful look. "There was some sort of... minor resistance, as I came into the city. Maybe that's what it was?" He obviously comes to a decision.

    "I'll let you be about your business. If you need help, ask Robin, he knows how to contact me, through Kid Flash. Bye!"

    And he starts to sink down, and is quickly out of sight.

    ---

    I'm scouting the not-quite-local, but not deep dimensions. Being careful to watch the time side of things. Depending on how you look at it there's at least three temporal axes, as well as null-time. You don't want to get stuck in null-time. You'll never notice you've done it, and only outside rescue will help.

    It's occurred to me that the vision I had, when Master Roshi 'validated' himself might hold useful clues. I saw paths I've never found on any map, in any of Raven's ancient books. I think I can guess which one would lead home, and others go off into... other multiverses, might be the best description. Places well outside the local dimensional cluster, but not 'homeward'.

    One of those feels right. So, I'm checking-out a dimension which seems totally full of pure water. Chemically pure, with a little dissolved air, which is a useful hint. Following the concentration of air, d-walking 'hops', while staying out-of-phase, an immense void, apparently full of air. A 'bubble'? It feels... lifeless, but otherwise safe.

    Taking a deep breath, I move out into the air. Nothing... happens. I'm in a new world. One well-off the beaten track. Looking around, endless water, lit by no clear light source. My environmental force field seems OK, so I risk breathing the air within it, and carefully check its sensors. Outside air seems OK, but totally sterile.

    There's a speck on the water, in the distance. I lose patience, and d-walk there, frustrated by my slow flying. It's... an immense ship. Built from giant hardwood tree-trucks, cunningly shaped into planks.

    My chi-sense says there's no life, on-board the kilometre-long ship. No tech energies, the faintest hint of tree-spirit, in the wood, nothing else. The scale of the thing, the hatches, the doorway in the comparatively small superstructure, if they were humanoid they were giants. I'm guessing ten-metres, about thirty-feet, tall.

    I focus, maybe manage to imprint the ship on my d-walking ability? Will that let me come back here, without a search and lots of not-swimming? We'll have to see.

    ---

    I'm back, at the Tower. Staying timeless, and out-of-phase. Need more time to think. I went a lot further, far enough that I was using emergency rations from my belt pouches. Made contacts. Now have a source of spare parts for the med-bay.

    The people... were strange. Some human, others resembled the upper, more human, body of the wizard Raven bargained with. 'Drow' I think she said. And, other 'races', though mostly humanoid. Civilized and friendly. I'll need to carefully think about how they're to be paid; new-for-old on a one-for-four basis... I'm guessing they want to study foreign tech. Or cash. They'll take cash.

    The... bar that I'd visited...

    Full of beings of great power. Major gods and better was my impression. Relaxing, having a good time. Fortunately, the bar accepted my emergency gold coins, and, the bar-lady was kind enough to suggest who might help me, point me to trade representatives. I'd a strong impression doing the wrong thing could've left me far worse than dead...

    I know I was gone for... personal-time, days? That feels right. But, I think it was worth it.

    So, take a deep breath. Carefully recall my mental state from before I left. Freshen-up. Grab my luggage. And...

    We're off to see the Oracle!




    AN: Two-step, so you don't trip over your own feet. :)

    AN: Drow, who seem to be a TSR invention. (Closest prior seems to be 'trow', a sort of (Scandinavian) troll, I think.)

    AN: Once you start messing with Time...
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
  22. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    They seem to be a combination of trow and Scandinavian dark elves (who may or may not have been dwarves), with some additions to make them sexier and scarier/clearly evil.
     
  23. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Yeah, I could have gone on about Svartalfar, where dark elves come from, and that Scandinavian trolls are incredibly diverse (I think they include lesser giants, orges, smurfs, moomins...). But, I thought I might be going too far! :)

    The drow... annoy me a bit. I know what they are about - they wanted a race of totally evil elves, but the 'mythological engineering' is a bit heavy-handed.
     
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  24. Threadmarks: Three Wishes - Episode 58
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 58

    Not a perfect journey, but a more direct one. At least I know where I'm going, this time. Interestingly, it's the dog whose happily following my trail, and the 'human' in the 'hoodie' that's on a lead.

    But, we're off the beaten track, so we manage to avoid meeting anyone.

    At the side-door, in the alleyway. I've put the lead away, just before we stepped into phase, 'reality' many would call it. Was I getting too used to d-walking?

    ---

    Checks and counter-checks. I'm reasonably quickly let-in. The murder holes are still as intimidating. Then, it's into the lounge. And, explanations.

    I reveal that the 'human' is a water-filled plastic shape, with a minimal skeleton, and effectively just filler for the robot trousers. Hand-over a small booklet, and a CD, so she's got full documentation, care-and-feeding instructions, some fault-finding notes.

    I think the large dog, with a backpack, interests her more, though I can tell she's eager to explore the possibilities of the trousers. Introduction time.

    "K9.1? This may be your new mistress. Accept and imprint, if she's willing."

    The dog goes up to... Barbara. Looks at her. She holds out a fist to be sniffed, watching carefully, avoiding staring into eyes. Accepted. Then, reaches further, offers to touch the shoulder. This also goes well. Then, a brief ear-scritch. Wagging tail shows this is completely irrelevant.

    "Do you like her?"

    "She seems like a nice dog. One of my regrets is I didn't think it fair to inflict my current... life-style on a dog."

    "She's in need of a good home. Are you willing to give it a try?"

    "Yes."

    "New mistress? What name would you like me to have?"

    She stares at the (talking) dog.

    "A robot? I can see why you might think I'd like one. I'm going with 'K9.1', for the moment, naming is a serious business, I'll need to think about it. What's the backpack for?"

    K9.1 turns her head, and a flap opens on the backpack. A cable snakes out, parts the fur on the back of her neck, plugs-in. The backpack opens, and a skeletal robot arm, with a five-fingered hand, deploys.

    Barbara shakes her head. "You've really thought this through. A pet dog with a optional helping-hand. K9.1? Please put that away"

    This happens.

    Another manual, several CDs. And, we chat over coffee.

    ---

    "You... Look different." I don't think I've changed that much, lately, though visiting a bar full of over-gods does tend to leave an impression.

    "What makes you say that?"

    "You seem... more real, more... there. Confident in yourself. Have you fixed your... body issues?"

    "Not yet..." I focus on myself, use my tech-sight, for some reason, and leap to my feet.

    "What?"

    Where I was sitting, in my chair, is my robot-self, un-robed, eyes closed, but otherwise intact. I'm... flesh-and-blood, again. When did that happen? Why didn't I notice?

    "There seem to be two of you." It's difficult to see how Barbara could be drier.

    "I'm a little surprised myself!"

    My robot body dissolves, into blue sparks, that I can feel are intensely magical, streams across the room, into Barbara, who fails to dodge quickly enough. And, there's no more robot.

    "What?" Yes, we speak in unison.

    ---

    Barbara is standing, a little unsteady.

    The wheels of her chair locked, a firm arm on the chair. She's stretching, shifting her weight from one leg to the other, carefully lifting one foot, briefly balancing, then the other. Total concentration.

    Why? What have I done to the universe? I don't begrudge Barbara use of her legs, but, that's the second living-skinned robot snatched from me. What am I doing wrong?

    I sigh, she glances at me, then goes back to testing her legs.

    I rise into the air, twist my pale-blue chi-aura so it cloaks my lower body, bow to her.

    "Seeing as my magic seems to be working for you, today... Oh mighty mistress, that was your first wish, do you know what your second, and your third and final wish are?"

    The side of her mouth quirks up. No, she doesn't murmur "Nerd".

    Still obviously focused on her legs, and the slow knee-bends she's moved on to, she mutters, "I'm guessing world peace is pushing my luck. How about... stopping the Joker, for good. And, yes, I'd like a trip into Space."

    ---

    It's a couple of hours later. We're in the Tower, with Raven, sipping tea and coffee. Oracle has a blur instead of a head, which completely hides even her hair, courtesy of a collar loaned by Raven. We're calming down, taking stock. Oracle, with voice distortion, is half-heartedly talking about improving the Tower's security.

    Thinking about it, I realise Oracle's wearing the robot trousers. And, moving in a way that suggests she's dependent on them for walking. I guess some people might know she can't walk, and would be highly suspicious about a 'miraculous recovery'. So, someone out-about, without the robot trousers, can't be Oracle. That's sneaky!

    Batman's in the secure conference room, 'talking' to Robin. He's... not happy the Joker's no more, now just a sobbing, broken man. Raven pulled the 'corpse worm' out of him, that seemed to be empowering him, all ten-metres, about thirty-feet, of it. Made sure that didn't kill him.. Pulled a baby worm from Harley Quinn. Fortunately, good psychiatric care may be enough for her.

    Ravan plans to dispose of the worms after checking their Gotham roots. Along with any others in whatever is their 'nest'. Should put a severe crimp on a Joker come-back, or future Jokers. Maybe we'll ask Beast Boy if he's any further ideas, seeing as he's the widest knowledge.

    The Lunar visit, Raven hung around, in the background, let me lead Oracle through the experience. Walking on the Moon. On her own two legs. Wearing my environmental shield, while I wore Raven's bracelet. Yes, I made sure she'd a camera with her.

    One problem.

    I'm not sure Barbara is looking at me just as a friend, any more...

    Tricky...




    AN: Hoodie, because fashions change...

    AN: Disney's 'Aladdin'; no, Geo can't do a (good) Robin William voice...

    AN: I wonder why the term 'lich' might be relevant to the Joker? I think I'll mention 'unknowing shaman' (or, did he do a deal with a Gotham spirit?) while I'm at it...
     
  25. Threadmarks: Hunting Spirits - Episode 59
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 59

    Be very, very, quiet. We're hunting Batmans.

    Actually... I'm sort of in a 'hide', a sheet draped-over the robot body I'm possessing. In the secure conference room.

    This robot has latex-skin, the added chips; if there's any problems with it Raven's confident she can get me back to my human body. And, the lack of a living-skin means this robot's reasonably expendable. Currently, I'm chi-less; lack of anything living tends to do that. And, I'm pretty sure most of my magic is back with my living body.

    The robot is a 'demonstration piece' that Raven intends to show Batman, then cover it up again. Batman is apparently using the fact he's here as Oracle's bodyguard to deal with a few other issues. Of which the disposal of the Joker is just the latest.

    Currently, Raven doesn't plan for me to meet Batman, face-to-(living)-face. I'm pretty sure she doesn't completely trust him. But, you know what they say about plans...

    ---

    The reveal went well.

    Raven explained she couldn't see a reason Batman would need to meet me. Showed-off the robot, replaced the sheet. Unfortunately, if I can't see things my Third Eye is useless, which means I have to fall-back on my far cruder 'feelings'. I can feel two spirits (ignoring my own), two chi-auras, and one powerful magical aura, in the room, but not much else.

    "I'm guessing you want an explanation of what happened to the Joker. Simply, I dealt with him, and his... follower, something that should've been done long ago. There's a little more clean-up, to do, but unless a higher power of some sort gets involved... No. More. Joker."

    Could that be the gritting of teeth I hear?

    "I'm more interested in knowing why you acted, now. Yes, I can see that the legal system is unlikely to be troubled. But, I'd like to know."

    There's a brief silence.

    "Again, simply, my apprentice asked me to. Normally I steer well-clear of Gotham, I'm an empath, the aura of the city... disgusts me. I believe, in turn, that Oracle asked my apprentice to... deal with the Joker."

    "Why should you be able to 'deal' with the Joker, when so many before you have failed?"

    "Because, I researched where he gained his power from, influences that infest the occult pall that hangs over Gotham. Something you don't seem to have bothered to do."

    Yes, definite grinding of teeth. Then, an out-breath.

    "Are you trying to annoy me for some particular reason?"

    "No one told Zatanna that failing to help me was a bad idea. You were in a perfect position to do that. But, you did nothing."

    "I'm not a magician, I have to rely on others to give me advice on... magic. Both Zatanna and Doctor Fate said you should be left alone. You'll have to ask them if you want to know why."

    "Which brings me to Robin. Why didn't you instruct him properly? Leave him open to any spirit that wanted to make use of him? Were you not taught, yourself, the dangers of that?"

    "My training was... very limited. Everything else was self-taught. I weighed the need for secrecy against safety. This is the first time either I, or he's, had a problem."

    "Both I and my apprentice are giving him lessons, and he is learning quickly. I expect him to soon grasp the basics of spiritual self-defence."

    There's another pause.

    "You used magic on me, didn't you? So I'd answer your questions, and not realise what was happening?"

    "Actually, a subtle mix of magic and empathy. So you engaged better with the world. I note that you don't carry any protective amulets, supplied, for example, by Zatanna or Doctor Fate. Maybe you should re-think that?"

    I hear the sound of her getting-up. Help! Is she leaving me here with the Batman?

    "The effect will cease when I leave this room. Which I'll do now. I'll prepare you a reading list, of works ancient and modern, so you can begin to improve your education."

    ---

    A longer pause. There's now only one other spirit in the room, though there's a very faint sense of doubling, that I've sometimes noted around Robin. Hmm. Maybe being blind is sharpening my senses? There's no magic, which matches what Raven said, and a powerful chi-aura.

    I hear a faint clicking. About a minute later Robin 'knocks' (secure room, you know), then enters.

    "B... Batman. Do you want me to sweep the room for eavesdroppers, as per procedure?"

    "No. I'm happy with the state of the room. Now, Robin, please report to me the full circumstances that led to you getting magical training."

    A gulp.

    "Technically, it's not magic. It's spiritual stuff, the sorts of things shaman learn. I've found it difficult, but it does seem to help me make sense of some things that previously confused me. I can easily defeat Sugoi in physical combat, but she's better than me on the spirit level. I'm sure there's things I'll run-into that'll make her look like a bug."

    "Could you say for me, with emphasis, 'Holy Smoke, Batman!', please."

    Robin does, though I'm pretty sure he's puzzled. Then, he describes the spirit attack, and what followed it.

    "Thank you. You might want to compare what you just told me with the reports you send, and what it is proper to both tell and not tell me. Also, we will be talking, in detail, about the censored video of... Sugoi working in her lab on robots, that you circulated, as a fishing exercise to learn more about her."

    What? Why didn't anyone tell me about that? Though, I guess Raven said Robin'd done something, and Oracle's been hinting...

    "You can go now."

    ---

    Robin's left. All is quiet. I don't even hear breathing. But, the strong chi is still here.

    "I know you're in there."

    Ahhhhh!

    "Good, no flinching. No, I'm not going to Sherlock to your Watson and tell you how I spotted you. I know what you are, I know where you came from, and I've met people from your sort of world before. Fortunately, you've been close-mouthed."

    But... I couldn't remember anything! Most of the time, anyway. I couldn't talk! And... it would've upset Raven. And, the others.

    "So far you've not made any fatal mistakes. Not bad for a student. But, I'll be continuing to read Robin's reports. Carefully."

    I can feel a figure, looming over me, though I can't see anything.

    "You'd better not hurt... Oracle."

    And, there's no presence, no other spirit, no chi in the room.

    How did he do that?




    AN: The rabbit hunter, himself. Whether he'd use a 'hide', or not... He does need all the help he can get...

    AN: Not the 'pall' most people tend to think of...

    AN: I'll throw-in shamanism, again, just in case.

    AN: Please note, Raven didn't say, "There will be a Test". Batman's not stupid, though, he's probably figured-out that she plans to give him one. :)

    AN: I really don't know why I'd mention this tv series... :)

     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  26. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    Batman's met other people from places where he's fiction before, and knows it? I'm going to guess Bat-Mite is responsible for that. And maybe Superboy-Prime, though I don't know whether this particular Batman has met him.

    There's an apostrophe where there shouldn't be one here.
     
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  27. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I'm using some ideas from Heinlein's The Number of the Beast (the number is 6^6^6, which is big!) about 'transfictionality'. He's one of the better-known science fiction authors to explore the idea of characters going to fictional worlds, and in some cases finding that they're themselves fictional in the destination world. An early novel which poked this issue was The Incomplete Enchanter (1940s), in which the characters jump between worlds by changing their perceptions, using symbolic logic. This is early enough that free-to-read PDFs can be legally found online.

    The whole issue of the transrational can be very, very, weird. I'm not touching the Superboy-Prime mess, but Batman has been used in crossovers with characters from other fictions, like Judge Dredd. The idea of comic-book characters meeting their authors was explored in Marvel; I don't know if DC has tried that.

    I don't think it unreasonable that transfictional other-world travellers have turned-up, knowing massive parts of Batman's history, and shown him comic-books, and recordings of the live-action tv series. You can imagine how... pleased he'd be about that. I leave as an 'exercise for the student' the question of how Batman found out Geo was from that sort of world. (Personally, I'd suspect Zatanna.)

    Thanks for spotting that!
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  28. rdfox

    rdfox Getting sticky.

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    Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, plus Superboy-Prime having attacked the DC offices on Earth-Prime after Infinite Crisis.

    Also, I suspect that Batman would be slightly happier when later visitors from our universe showed him the Tim Burton movies, but much happier when others showed him BTAS, given it remembers that, oh yeah, Batman doesn't kill people.

    Well, happier about the characterization and depiction, compared to the Adam West version. Probably just as disgruntled that there's a world where people know all his secrets, but at least happy to know that he's being depicted more accurately...
     
  29. Diraniola

    Diraniola Not too sore, are you?

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    If he gets upset about a world where everybody knows his secrets, I don't think he'd be happier when they have more accurate information. Misinformation is his best tool for protecting his secrets.
     
  30. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I should have remembered Animal Man... Superboy-Prime is not part of the history of this setting.

    Possibly worth noting is that the Adam West Batman is effective, even if he is humorous. Batman would like that.

    Yes, I'd agree, he'd probably prefer B:TAS for accuracy.

    I will say that, in the history of this Teen Titan's world, Batman was only shown comic books and the Adam West tv series.

    I'm interested no one has (yet) commented on Raven's motivation in this... Possibly this game might give a few (Strong) hints...

    True, good point. He is a fan of misinformation...

    I wonder what he might think of Batman Beyond...

    But in 80 years of the Batman as a cultural icon, you've got to expect a lot of media output...
     
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