Kintsugi Plays Fallen Hero: Retribution (50 First Therapy Appointments)

Discussion in 'It's Galley's Turn' started by keltena, Jun 28, 2023.

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  1. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    We could admit to coming from therapy. Decent reason for sharp eyes - thinking of the past, of our troubles he knows of - and if he and Ortega end up gossiping about this, at least the therapy->dog therapy time makes sense
     
    • Agree x 2
  2. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Sometimes the truth is the best alibi.

    > "I just came from a session with the therapist," I admit.

    "I just came from a session with the therapist," you admit.

    "Oh." Chen gives you a long look, and though he hides it well, you can't miss the surprise.

    "Huh. I thought Ortega would have told you already. Maybe she has learned how to keep a secret. Finally." It's a bit unfair, but it's not far from the truth. Ortega always tended to slip up when it came to things she felt would be better if they were out in the open. Better for you. As if she even knew you.

    At least both you and Steel are equally ignorant about each other's personal feelings.

    "I didn't hear anything from Julia. How…is it going?" The question is cautiously worded, unlike his thoughts, which are running a mile a minute, even with your headache. He understands why you called him now, but that understanding raises more questions because why did you call him of all people? Because of Spoon?

    "It's been…rough," you say, looking at the dogs, not him. You don't have more answers than he does. "Not sure if it's helping or not."

    "I know what you mean."

    "You? And here I thought you were the one happy about following regulations and having psychiatric evaluations."

    "Following regulations is one thing, and I understand why it's something we are supposed to go through. We wield a lot of power. We go through horrible things. It's not surprising if they worry about people snapping."

    "But?" There's something there; you can almost put your finger on it.

    "It never really did anything for me." In his distraction, he doesn't seem to notice that Spoon has started to chew on one of his fingers, treating it much like a toy, tugging at it.

    It's his work hands, and they make no apology for their mechanical nature. The blue-black skinweave has exposed joints for easy maintenance, and you suppose they are not wired for pain since he doesn't react. Spoon is tugging hard, and you can see that Chen's left hand is scuffed from many, many battles with teeth.

    "Maybe because you didn't need it?"

    "Hah," he looks down with a grimace. "I get messed up as easily as everyone else."

    "Why didn't therapy work out for you?" you ask after the pause has grown too long. Maybe you're prodding, but since Chen is talking, you might as well take the chance.

    "I'm not good at talking about my feelings." There's a frown on his face, a fleeting one, but it cuts deep lines in his brow. "No. Let's be honest here. I don't like talking about my feelings. Especially not with a stranger."

    "I know what you mean." Poked. Prodded. Analyzed. "Did they put you through that in the army?" Maybe it was more similar to the Farm than you thought.

    "No." The laugh is a surprise. "The army didn't care. Just as long as I was good at what they needed me for."

    "Killing people."

    "Securing objectives." His voice has turned sharp. "Control is what's important. The killing is incidental." There's a pause, he keeps looking at the dogs, but you don't think he sees them.

    The silence settles between you once more, Spoon lying in the shadow near your feet, tongue out, a little beacon of happiness content to share his mood. It's almost enough to dispel your gloom, almost enough to chase away Chen's ghosts as well. Almost but not quite, and you find yourself wondering how much baggage he's carrying around.

    He's never let you see that side before, and you're not sure what that means.

    When did you become friends? Or at least almost friendly?

    Closing your eyes, letting out a long sigh, you try to decide what Steel actually means to you.

     ‣ I need him to stop me. He is the only one that will.
     ‣ He's the dangerous one. I need to stick close.
     ‣ It's nice not having to fight. I like being friends.

    …What is going on here? What's got us choosing, of our own volition, to spend all this time with Steel?

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 67% (+3)
    █████████████▒██████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  3. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    I mean...we did decide during that first fight with Steel ages ago near the start of the thread that we did not want to deal with Steel bc unplanned for and danger, so...maybe option 2?
    I don't think option 1 makes much sense, I can't recall us having ever expressed much of a desire to be stopped
    friendship, idk. shrug emoji
     
    • Agree x 1
  4. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Why else would we hang out with our enemies?

    > He's the dangerous one. I need to stick close.

    Chen is the dangerous one. Always was. Too smart, too observant, keeping his thoughts to himself. You need to keep him close; you can't allow him to blindside you.

    And maybe that's a risk, and maybe you'll get hurt, but it will be worth it.

    "What are you smiling about?" For a moment, you see yourself reflected through his eyes, tired, smiling, looking… You blink hard, slamming down your shields like a mall storefront late for closing.

    "I think Spoon wants us to take him for a run," you blurt out, nodding at the restless greyhound who is back on his feet, tail wagging. Distraction. Good.

    "Hah," Chen scoffs, but his focus has shifted to his dog, just like you planned. "I know how that goes."

    "Come on," you get off the bench, giving his shoulder a tap. Solid muscle. Real muscle. It's the other one that's prosthetic. "Don't be lazy."

    "I'm not the lazy one," he complains but dutifully gets up. "Come on then, boy." Spoon barks as the leash and muzzle are put on, and off you go.

    Away from any unfortunate implications.

    > Fifteen Minutes Later

    You and Chen are standing side by side, looking down at a dog slumped lazily in the shadow of a wall. Tongue out, eyes happy, tail thwacking the ground, raising a little cloud of dust.

    "I see," you say, pushing your hands deeper in your pockets. "I was wrong."

    "Not wrong," Chen sighs. "He loves to run, but he's a sprinter."

    "Is he…just going to lie there?" You gently probe Spoon's mind, and he keeps looking up at Steel with the happiest grin. Waiting for something? Oh yes, definitely waiting for something.

    broke: not anthropomorphizing dogs' facial expressions
    woke: anthropomorphizing dogs' facial expressions because you can read their minds

    "You're setting a bad example." Chen gives the dog a stern look. Spoon just wags his tail. "Fine. Be that way."

    "What is he—" You break off as Chen leans down and picks Spoon up, as easily as if the dog weighed nothing. To be fair, the greyhound is mostly legs, but he's still a big dog with an awkward shape that makes himself very comfortable in Chen's arms, resting his chin on the human's shoulder.

    "He's spoiled."

    "You mean you've spoiled him." You can't stop smiling as you fall in next to him, walking back downtown. The smile prompts another glance and the same little burst of happiness from Chen as he looks at you.

    "Maybe." He's holding the dog securely. You get the feeling this isn't the first time he's carried him. "He deserves to be spoiled. Racing isn't…it's not pleasant."

     ‣ Chen looks good when he's happy.
     ‣ I reach out to pet Spoon because I can sympathize.
     ‣ I can't have Chen being weird. Let's get back to normal.

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 67%
    █████████████▒██████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  5. Loq

    Loq rotating like a rotisserie chicknen

    >pet. the. dog.
     
    • Agree x 1
  6. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Spoon gets it. <3

    > I reach out to pet Spoon because I can sympathize.

    You reach out to pet Spoon because you can sympathize.

    Just another tool bred for a purpose, and once that purpose is over, it's time to be discarded. Spoon is lucky that Chen found him, someone who can try to heal the wounds. From the look of things, they are healing just fine, but dogs are more durable than people that way.

    "There's something I don't get," you say softly because you're trying to navigate your way around what you feel. "You never trusted me back when we fought together. You kept giving me reasons, but they all seem so…petty. And you don't strike me as a petty man."

    "Thank you?" A faint frown, and since you don't reply, he sighs and confesses at last. "I saw how you moved. You had training, but you weren't military. That means either private contractors or the intelligence services, and neither boded well for us. At best, a spy. At worst, someone gathering information to discredit us." He gives you a look over Spoon's shoulder. "Or shut us down."

    "But you were the Rangers…." Did he think you were a spy for the government? That's more absurd than you had imagined.

    "And we are the law. Judge and jury. Not even the mayor could touch us if she ever wanted to." You know she has on more than one occasion, and you wonder if Chen knows that. And what he would do if he knew. "Only the president could shut us down."

    "That's a technicality," you groan, "you work with the city. You've always done that."

    "Have we? Hood pushed hard against certain…interests when he was marshal. Look where he ended up. Ortega was…," a grimace as he kisses Spoon's head, too distracted to care how he comes across, "…more discreet."

    "Not a word I thought you'd use about her." Discreet was never Ortega's call sign.

    "She is more clever than she comes across." A small mental wince, as if he's regretting letting you know that. "Not that she shows it. That's why they made her marshal."

    chen, kicking himself for leaking such private details about our best friend as "she's not stupid"

    "Someone heroic. Someone intent on saving people and fighting bad guys." It makes too much sense.

    "The right bad guys."

    "Fuck." Everything adds up. "And you thought I was sent to keep an eye on you."

    "A telepath on the run? With special-ops moves? Sticking that close to the marshal?" Chen gives you a long, dry look.

     ‣ "To be fair, she was doing her best to seduce me."
     ‣ "She was the one that was sticking close to me!"
     ‣ "That's fair. I can see how that would look suspicious."

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 68% (+1)
    █████████████▒██████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  7. KarrinBlue

    KarrinBlue Magical Girl Intern

    this is HER fault, we didn't come here to make friends!
     
    • Agree x 1
  8. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    I was about to say, telepath, just because someone else seemed to be instigating it doesn't mean it wasn't our fault -

    And then I remembered, Ortega's immune to us and Chen surely knew it. So yeah. Fair points to most of this, but Ortega wasn't our fault! Our old friend is the cause of many things actually!!
     
  9. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Hang on, we had no say in that friendship! Stop victim blaming!

    > "She was the one that was sticking close to me!"

    "She was sticking that close to me!" You try to defend yourself because seeing his point would be counterproductive. You can't go back, so what's the use of digging this hole for yourself?

    "I didn't want her to get hurt. I know how these things usually end." Chen's smile is hard and brittle, and you catch something hovering behind it. Slipping out. The tiniest crack in his stony surface. You wouldn't have caught it if you weren't desperate to change the subject.

    Not Ortega. You. Something about you. The way you insinuated yourself. Too clever. Too charming. Too…charming? What? Shared experiences?

    "Fuck." You don't continue; you just stare at Chen because did you read him right? Did he think Ortega had a crush on you back then? Really? Ortega?

    "What?" The confused look is real.

    "I didn't know you were that much against relationships," you say, determined to dig yourself a deeper hole.

    "Technically, I'm not. They just tend to complicate things. Especially in the workplace." The sigh is one of familiarity; you can feel Chen's mind go prickly with memories.

    "So who was it then?" You have a hard time imagining Chen in love. You've never even seen him date.

    "Who, what?"

    "Someone must have messed you up pretty bad in the past if you're still hung up about it."

    "He didn't…. mess me up." There's a hitch in his voice you weren't expecting. Wounds hidden in the past. Hidden but never truly healed.

     ‣ I don't know how to feel about this.
     ‣ He…why did that hurt?
     ‣ I try my best to look professional. This is too personal.

    This conversation has certainly gone places.

    (If it's not clear, the second option is specifically reacting to the "he" part.)

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 68%
    █████████████▒██████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  10. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    1 seems accurate. We escaped therapy to seek dog time, and somehow we ended up leading a talk about past and circumstances instead???

    ... Did this happen as a "now I am the therapist" thing of asking questions of Chen the way Josie feared the therapist would ask them....?
     
    • Agree x 2
  11. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    and so the cycle of abuse therapy continues........
     
    • Like x 2
    • Winner x 1
  12. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    "No! I must escape my interrogators" they shouted
    The thread said "No, Josie. You are the interrogators."
    And then Josie was a therapist.

    > I don't know how to feel about this.

    You have no idea how to feel about the fact that Chen has a past boyfriend, let alone a sex life. You've never seen him together with anyone. Ortega kept setting him up with girls back when you ran with the Rangers. Girls. Chen never said a word about it, which makes sense for the stubborn, private idiot.

    Private…and yet he has chosen to share this with you.

    It must mean something.

    "I can't believe I'm saying this…," you reach over to pet Spoon's head, where it's resting on Chen's shoulder. "Do you want to talk about it?" You expect a no, but he surprises you once more.

    "Soo…his name was Soo Park." Chen's mouth twitches faintly at the name.

    "Tell me about him." You keep the words soft enough to barely be heard.

    "Why would you want to know?" A suspicious glance, too familiar.

    "Because I've come to realize I don't know you at all." You don't look at Chen. Just at Spoon.

    "He was…funny, I suppose. Made me laugh." He starts walking again.

    "That sounds out of character."

    "Contrary to the name, I'm not actually made of steel." There should have been a laugh at the end of that sentence, but there wasn't.

    "Why him?"

    "I don't know. Why do any of these things happen? We met in the army. He was a pilot like me. Korean-American… A friend introduced us. I think she thought I was lonely…." He breaks off for a moment, stifling an awkward laugh. "She wasn't wrong, I suppose." His face goes quiet again. "We were…good together."

    "So what happened?"

    "Killed in action." A neutral statement. It happened. It happened to a lot of people. You can feel that in the way the words are delivered.

    "Is that when you got injured?" You sneak a look at his hands.

    "No. That came later." One hand scratching Spoon's neck, the motion slightly uneven, joints catching. Worn, like his heart. "His chopper got shot down. He just didn't come back one day. I wanted to go looking, but it was behind enemy lines, and I had a job to do."

     ‣ "I'm sorry," I say, looking away.
     ‣ "Does Ortega know?"
     ‣ "You sound…tired."

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 68%
    █████████████▒██████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  13. Loq

    Loq rotating like a rotisserie chicknen

    >sorry I asked. too much emotion, this is not why we came to spoon, abort.
     
    • Agree x 2
  14. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

     
    • Like x 3
  15. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    we are so very sorry to have unearthed all these human feelings while drilling for dog feelings

    > "I'm sorry," I say, looking away.

    "I'm sorry," you say, looking away to give Chen some privacy. "My condolences."

    "Thank you." The words are tired, quiet, and you look back. He doesn't look at you.

    "I didn't mean to bring up something painful." Not this time; this wasn't meant to be a blow that hurt.

    "It was a long time ago. After a while, you come to realize that it doesn't matter how you feel." Now he looks up. Finally. His face looks softer than you're used to. Soft but tired. "War is bigger than everyone, you die, or you live. It's just the luck of the draw."

    "Do you miss him?" That's what you're supposed to ask, right?

    "I suppose so. I think I miss the person I was back then more."

    "When someone could make you laugh."

    "That's a good way to put it."

    "What makes you think that person's gone?" You can't stop your teasing smile. "You're lugging around a lazy noodle dog. I bet he even has pajamas."

    "He gets cold," Chen looks embarrassed and defensive, but the pained wrinkle between his eyebrows is gone. "He has short fur and no fat. I need to keep him warm."

    "It's Los Diablos," you gesture at the sun. The sun refuses to cooperate; it's still overcast.

    "Says the person with the layers."

    "I have my reasons."

    "So does Spoon." But there's a smile on his lips. A small one. Aimed at you.

     ‣ I smile back, feeling truly happy.
     ‣ I smile back with flushed cheeks.
     ‣ I look away, a little embarrassed.

    Current happiness and/or embarrassment levels?

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 69% (+1) (nice)
    █████████████▒██████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  16. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    (nice)

    Happy that we guessed pajamas correctly, embarrassed that Feelings keep popping up today.... I'm torn.
     
  17. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Anyone else have opinions on happy vs. embarrassed, or shall I split the difference and go with "both"?
     
  18. Loq

    Loq rotating like a rotisserie chicknen

    happy. dog is good.
     
  19. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    tfw dog <3

    > I smile back, feeling truly happy.

    You smile back, feeling truly happy. There's an ease to your heart that you haven't felt in a while, and the shadows that haunted you earlier in the day have faded.

    You feel like a fool. So it takes a grumpy man with a goofy dog to make you realize that smiling can heal wounds. Sometimes.

    "You didn't have a dog back when I was still active, did you? I think I would have noticed." You force your words to be neutral, like the subject. You both like dogs. That's a good thing, right?

    "No. You remember that I told you I got one assigned back when I was in rehab for my hands?"

    You nod, watching his hands move.

    "How I told you I had to give it back after I was declared healthy?"

    "Seemed cruel."

    "Broke my heart," he admits. There's a moment of hesitation before he continues. "I didn't want to go through that again, and work kept me busy. Felt like it never was the right time. I didn't get one of my own until after…" He breaks off, but you both know that particular silence. Heartbreak.

    "Oh." You're not sure what to say, even less how to deal with that information.

    "It was suggested to me," he admits, uncharacteristically. "Psychiatric evaluation during the rehab afterward. It didn't help much…," a shrug. "But that stuck. I adopted one when I was able to handle myself somewhat."

    You don't ask for details. You don't even ask why he thought it would help. You can feel it. It is easier to get up in the morning if it's for someone else.

    Duty only gets you so far.

    You rub your forehead, looking down at Spoon to camouflage your distress. For some reason, you never thought about how Heartbreak must have affected him. Ortega had mentioned that the dampeners had started to fritz, overload…

    "Are you okay?" Chen gives you a look over Spoon's shoulder, and you rub your face.

    "Like I said. Weird day. Getting close to subjects I don't really want to talk about."

    "What do you want to talk about then?" he offers, uncharacteristically generous. "Ask me something…just don't make it another item on my list." The last is offered as a joke, or as close as he ever gets to one.

     ‣ "Do you like this? Whatever it is that we do? Walk Spoon…"
     ‣ "What did you see during Heartbreak? To make you want to…"
     ‣ "So, were there ever any girlfriends?"

    Three very non-loaded subjects.

    CLASSIFIED

    Subject: Anathema


    Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs
    Gender: Non-binary.
    Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair.

    Their sense of style is androgynous, secondhand streetwear, with many piercings in their ears, nose, and tongue. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache.

    Standard of Living: Josie is well-off.
    Josie is living in a comfortable apartment.

    Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician.

    Physical Status
    Stamina: You are rested.
    Willpower: You feel calm.
    Injuries: You are bruised, with no significant wounds.

    Telepathy
    Strength of Mind: 50%
    ████████████████████
    Subtle Manipulations: 74%
    ██████████████▒█████

    Anathema
    Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. They are a known killer.
    Infamy: 51% / Obscurity: 49%
    ██████████▒█████████

    Armored Suit
    Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath.
    In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets.

    Armor Status
    Need Repair: 15% / Fine: 85%
    ████████████████████

    Leadership: 55%
    ████████████████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 42% / Anonymity: 58%
    ████████▒███████████
    Ruthlessness: 40% / Empathy: 60%
    ████████████████████
    Daring: 59% / Caution: 41%
    ███████████▒████████

    Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers.

    Main Puppet
    Name: Barbara
    Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds.
    Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair.

    Allies and Enemies

    Charge
    Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally.
    Ortega's Connection with Josie: 76%
    ███████████████▒████

    Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points.

    Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Eternally flirting. Josie is using Barbara as a spy.
    Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Dr. Mortum
    Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend.
    Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 66%
    █████████████▒██████

    Lady Argent
    Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant.
    Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1%
    ███████████████████

    Lady Argent respects Anathema's abilities.
    Lady Argent's Interest in Anathema: 43%
    ████████▒███████████

    Marshal Steel
    Josie's Relationship with Steel: Friendly.
    Steel's Connection with Josie: 72% (+3)
    ██████████████▒█████

    Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in.

    Herald
    Josie's Relationship with Herald: He seems nice.
    Herald's Connection with Josie: 64%
    ████████████▒███████

    Herald thinks Anathema is a villain.

    Other Characters
     
  20. Loq

    Loq rotating like a rotisserie chicknen

    I'm inclined to 1 but it also feels lile it's hedging a little close to romance territory? absolutely NOT heartbreak, as curious as I am I don't think Josie wants to think about it right now either.
     
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