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

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

Tags:
  1. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    I can confirm that in game-mechanic terms, none of these options sets any romance flags. Whether the subtext feels too romantic for Josie is, of course, up to you guys.
     
    • Like x 1
    • Useful x 1
  2. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    We've got one tentative vote for the first option. Any other opinions, or shall we go with that?
     
  3. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    I think 2 veers too directly back into THERAPY talk time, and I'm a little baffled by 3, so I'm also leaning tentatively towards 1. Let's do a check whether Spoon time is welcome, before we invest too much of our spoon recovery into his company
     
    • Agree x 2
  4. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    So, uh… enough about our feelings. How does Chen feel about all this?

    > "Do you like this? Whatever it is that we do? Walk Spoon…"

    "Do you like this? Whatever it is that we do? Walk Spoon…" you drift off because this is dangerous ground.

    "I…do." There's just the slightest little hitch to Chen's response, but he's a hard man to read.

    "Because sometimes it's really hard to figure out what you want. You keep doing things because you're supposed to."

    "Someone has to take responsibility and…"

    "Not again," you interrupt with a groan. "I know that, Chen. I know you are all about duty and responsibility, but as you said, you're not made of steel. Would it hurt that much to be a bit selfish and enjoy yourself for once?"

    "Yes." There's no doubt in his voice, and that makes you angry.

    "What happened? Was it the army that messed you up for good?"

    >

    "It's a long story," he admits with a sigh, but you make no move to interrupt. "I'm the oldest son. I had responsibilities at home. A lot of them." He has settled his face into a familiar stoic look.

    "That doesn't surprise me," you mutter, "you strike me as the oldest child." Not that you would know, but you've watched enough television to know how families work.

    "Starting a family was one of them." This is personal ground; he's not looking at you. But he keeps talking. "There would be girlfriends. Daughters of friends of my mother's usually. Some were nice. Some weren't. But marrying one of them…" The shrug says more than an essay could. "My best friend, on the other hand…we made out, more than once, and then my little sister spotted us, told Mother and…it didn't go well."

    "What did…he say?"

    "Backed off. Didn't want to talk to me anymore. Got a girlfriend. I think he's married now…."

    "And you?"

    "I left."

    "Just left?"

    "I was the oldest son. I had responsibilities." When he says it, it sounds so logical, a chain of events that could not have gone any other way. "I didn't want to live up to what my parents wanted me to be, so I left. Joined the army."

    "Just like that?"

    >

    "I was…," Chen has to think for a moment, "seventeen, I didn't have a job, wasn't going to get a degree without my parents' money. The housing market in New York was even worse back then with all the Heartland refugees…the army was the quickest solution."

    "Quickest solution for what? Getting yourself killed?" You give him a glare because you recognize that line of thinking. You just didn't think you'd see it in him.

    "No. A place to sleep, eat, get money, and eventually an education." A dry chuckle. "The last never happened."

    "So did they ever try to stop you…?"

    "What? My family? No. I give them a call every New Year, but that's it." A soft little sigh. "It's better this way. I can't be what they want me to be."

    "I know what you mean." You give Spoon a pat as he starts to wiggle, energy returning.

    "I had a feeling you might." Chen lets the dog down, looking older as he straightens his back. "Come on, let's finish this walk."

    And maybe that's the thing that helps the most. That once you get to this point, you can just stop talking. Things have changed between you. In the past, any discussion had to be settled, win or loss, no draws.

    When did you get satisfied with a stalemate?

    When did he?

    You shake your head and fall in step next to him, pleased to just share the silence and the walk.


    And with that we'll put a wrap on Chapter 17, and on a long day of dwelling on the past.

    Next time: big plans.
     
    • Like x 2
  5. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    A new day and a new chapter! Enough contemplating our vat-grown navel; we have work to do.

    (Okay, technically the dog-walking scene was also part of chapter18.txt, but I consider that more a suggestion than a rule in this case.)

    > Time Passes, Wounds Heal

    Joes, some weeks later.

    "God, I wish Joe would get better taste in music." Ward shifts, the fake-leather couch creaking, causing Nehal to move as well. Not that she ever sits still for long.

    "Got to agree with you for once." Nehal leans over to grab a handful of peanuts. "There's nothing current on that jukebox. Stuck in the past."

    "When all the best music was made." Pelayo sips his beer. "You just need better taste."

    "What matters is that it's loud enough that people aren't listening in," you chuckle. Since you're currently Barbara, you don't have the powers to check for it the old-fashioned way. "But keep an eye out anyway."

    "Don't you mean an ear?" Rosie laughs at her own joke, a little too loudly. More than one beer there.

    "I always keep an ear out and an eye or two." ZaZa looks for all the world like he wouldn't notice anything, half-closed eyes and beer in hand. But all of you know better. He's got sharp senses and better instincts.

    "Just don't get too drunk." Pelayo grows a little more serious. "Once we get on people's radar, things will start getting hairy."

    "Yeah, the boss beating up that Blaze asshole certainly guaranteed that." Ward makes a fist, the mechanical arm moving with a soft, grinding sound.

    "You should oil that," Nehal teases.

    "I like the aesthetic," comes the sullen reply.

    "So how long before someone's gonna retaliate for offing Deveraux?" Rosie looks around, but nobody is paying any attention.

    "The mayor?" Nehal looks a little confused. "I mean, we're criminals, think we're already on her shit list."

    "That wasn't who I was talking about." She looks over at you. "You know what I mean, right?"

     ‣ "We can deal with it," I say confidently.
     ‣ "You know the boss," I say with a grimace. "Always spoiling for a fight."
     ‣ "We need to step carefully." I nod in agreement.

    What do you think, Barbie, should we worry about making enemies in high places?

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are bruised fine, 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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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
     
  6. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    I feel like we've been more eager to fight with heroes, and more cautious / deliberate with the criminal side we're looking to conquer. Leaning option 3 - step cautiously until it's time for decisive strikes
     
    • Agree x 1
  7. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Yeah, this isn't the kind of fight you win with a few good punches.

    > "We need to step carefully." I nod in agreement.

    "We need to step carefully," you say, nodding in agreement. "But we knew this day was coming. Can only go so far without anybody pushing back."

    "Let's just hope they won't push us off the edge of a cliff. I don't have fancy armor to save my ass." Ward flexes the artificial arm, not bothering to hide his frown.

    "That's why we're a team. Stop being so glum." Nehal slides over to give Ward a gentle jab in the side.

    "I'm not glum; I'm a realist," comes the expected protest.

    "Sure sounds glum to me," ZaZa agrees with a chuckle.

    "Glum," Rosie nods.

    "I'm not taking sides," Pelayo protests when everybody turns to him.

    "Because you know I'm right, and you don't want to admit that." Ward is smiling now. "Admit I'm a realist."

    "I will do no such thing," Pelayo has to hide his smile behind his beer.

    "Does this mean the boss is getting ready to move against you know what?" Nehal looks half nervous, half excited. She doesn't dare to mention the Boulevard Casino by name. Not here.

    "That's the word," you say. "Wouldn't have told you otherwise, the boss swore us to secrecy, but it's been planned for a while."

    "Didn't want anybody to blab, so keep your mouths shut," Pelayo warns.

    "A hit like that is bound to put a target on us if there isn't one already." Ward frowns. "People just don't piss in Hollow Ground's backyard and expect to walk away."

    "Hollow Ground is a bogeyman for criminals." Nehal teases. "Sure, yeah, there's the crime syndicate, but there's no faceless boss that can ruin the whole city if they get annoyed."

    "Doesn't matter if it's a person or an organization," Pelayo says. "Power is power."

    "Takes more shots to kill an organization," ZaZa points finger guns at Rosie. "If it's a person, I only need one bullet."

     ‣ "We're treating Hollow Ground as real until proven otherwise."
     ‣ "Hollow Ground is a front. It's all about marketing."
     ‣ "What's important is that the casino is real."

    Does Hollow Ground real? (According to Chief Henchwoman Barbie, that is.)

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are fine, 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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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
     
    • Like x 1
  8. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    Hollow Ground, like Chief Henchwoman Barbie, is real until proven otherwise
     
    • Like x 2
    • Agree x 1
  9. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    I like the implication that Hollow Ground is someone's sockpuppet.

    > "We're treating Hollow Ground as real until proven otherwise."

    "We're treating Hollow Ground as real until proven otherwise." You're not sure if you can trust Ortega's judgment, but you feel like you can trust her dedication. There must be something to it.

    "Their cash sure is real," Pelayo says with a grin. "And that's the important bit."

    "Agreed," Nehal laughs.

    "We've been fine so far," ZaZa says with a shrug. "I trust the boss not to steer us wrong."

    "None of us would be here if we did," Pelayo agrees.

    "Speaking of that," Nehal turns to you with a frown. "You okay, Barbara? Boss has been running you ragged lately."

    "That's why I don't want to be second-in-command," Rosie says with a laugh. "Too much paperwork."

    "Or maybe you're just worn out by your mystery girlfriend. I know you've kept busy." Nehal hides a giggle behind her hands.

    "About that…" Pelayo meets your gaze because he knows exactly who Nehal is talking about and doesn't like it one bit.

    "It's fine," you say, rather sharply. "I know what I'm doing."

    "Who are you talking about?" Nehal looks like she's about to explode from curiosity.

    "None of your business judging from that look." ZaZa points at you. "Go get some drinks before you end up in trouble."

    "Sorry." Nehal slips to her feet. "I was just curious."

    "It's fine," you wave her toward the bar, sinking back in your seat.

    To call this complicated is an understatement. It was easier when it was just you, but now there's a crew of people who might have opinions on you flirting with the former marshal. Pelayo already does.

    You have your reasons, and you keep listing them to yourself whenever you doubt.

    Whenever you want to see Ortega again. Not as yourself, but as Barbara. Just the two of you, without the weight of the past crushing you both.

    Should you give her a call once you're done here?

     ‣ Yes, it's easier like this. More like it used to be.
     ‣ Yes, I can't keep doing this, but I don't know how to stop.
     ‣ Yes, always good to check in for new information.
     ‣ No, I need to be careful. Keep my distance.

    Is it about time Barbie caught up with Ortega—whether to keep apprised of our nemesis's movements or just to enjoy our old friend's company free of baggage? Or is it time we reined this back a little?

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are fine, 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: 59% (+4)
    ███████████▒████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 38% / Anonymity: 62% (+4)
    ███████▒████████████
    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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    I vote "always good to check in for new information"
     
  11. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Gotta keep an eye on this one, or who knows what wrong establishments she'll start going to? The diner and dojo were bad enough.

    > Yes, always good to check in for new information.

    Barbara sees things that you don't, which is one reason why you're sticking close to Ortega.

    A safe haven for spying, with no risk of emotional compromise.

    Just the way you like it.

    > An Hour Or So Later

    Your own body is still safely tucked away in bed; you've got a bit more time to distract yourself. Maybe the headache you were nursing when you slipped into Barbara will be gone when you wake up.

    Reaching for your phone, you thumb in Ortega's number. It's a number you don't like to admit you know by heart, but you do. Not that you need to, she's in your contact list under Julia. Somehow that's a little bit less dangerous. More personal. In character for Barbara.

    One signal. Two. Enough time for you to wonder if she will pick up. She's been busy lately, has been blowing off a few workouts as well. Maybe Barbara doesn't have the same allure anymore, or maybe there is something else going on. Anathema has been keeping the Rangers busy, though it's yet to come to open blows. All in good time.

    "Barbara? Been a while." Ortega's voice sounds happy, but it's hard to judge over the phone.

    "I've been busy," you say, which isn't technically untrue. "There's a big project I'm working on, and I can't afford for anything to go wrong." You've told her that you are a project manager, which is also technically true. "But I really need a break, and I wondered if you had time for a coffee? If it's not too short notice for you?"

    "I just got off work myself, so that sounds like a great idea. Where can I pick you up?"

    "I'll meet you down at the Plaza?" You've had coffee there with Ortega before. It's pleasant and private enough not to stress you out once the lunch-hour crowds are gone.

    "I'm really not dressed for that place," she admits with a laugh. "How about we meet at the gates to the Memorial Park and have a walk and see if we find anything that strikes our fancy?"

    "You're not dressed for the occasion?" you ask, a little mystified, but coffee is coffee. It doesn't matter where. "But sure, I'll meet you there."

    You hang up the phone, once more trying to dissect your feelings.

    Where are you going with this?

     ‣ I wish I knew.
     ‣ To hell, probably. But I can't stop.
     ‣ The feelings are real, dare I act on them?
     ‣ This is a means to an end. Nothing more.

    We did just say "no risk of emotional compromise", right? Which means no risk that we're feeling guilty about this, or accidentally doing an almost-friendship again (let alone an almost-some-other-kind-of-ship) as Barbie, right? Just unsentimental business?

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are fine, 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: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 38% / Anonymity: 62%
    ███████▒████████████
    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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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
     
  12. blue

    blue hightown funk you up

    1! While it seems more in-character for Josie to be telling themselves 4, I think it's more complicated :3
     
    • Agree x 1
  13. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    Fascinated by the notion that Josie has many "I'm not a real person" things, but also simultaneously believes they have a human enough soul that some variant of a hell could be in the books. Human enough for the bad stuff only, huh?

    Agreed on 1
     
    • Agree x 2
    • Like x 1
  14. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    :mystery:

    Josie-typical suicidal ideation

    > I wish I knew.

    Where are you going with this? Getting close to Ortega? Hanging out? Using her?

    You wish you knew.

    It's part wish fulfillment, letting your hair down, laughing without masks. Being able to ignore the truth. Ignore the lies. Live in the moment.

    Working out is dangerous. Old reflexes coming back, this body ever closer to what it used to be. Not as well trained, but getting there. Does she notice? Sometimes you wonder if she does, but how could she know? She's probably seeing ghosts, same as you. Wondering why everything feels so familiar.

    Walking is marginally less dangerous, but it leaves more room for conversation, which is…a different choice, less sweat, less physical contact but more smiles. You never smiled this much in your real body. That should be the best camouflage.

    The muscles of this face are soft, the smiles habitual. Whoever inhabited this skull before you must have wielded them easily. Recklessly.

    Can you blame this body? Who cares? You're doing it anyway.

    > Time To Get Going

    Later, at the Memorial Park.

    It's ironic, you think, not for the first time. Los Diablos changed its name to shed its past, and yet it's filled with memories. The Memorial Park. The Memorial Hospital. The people here are trying to wipe away the past with one hand and enshrine it with the other.

    You understand. You're caught in that wasteland yourself, trying to move on, but the past keeps clinging to your feet.

    Or maybe you seek it out willingly. Why else would you be here with Ortega? A new body, the same ghosts that haunt it. At least she has the decency to look as conflicted as you feel, an air of distraction to her that would be insulting if it weren't handy.

    Letting you watch her without being noticed.

    "You look distracted," you say, too curious to keep quiet. Something's worrying her, and you want to know what, so you borrow Barbara's face for a smile that is an echo of what yours could have been if the world had been fair. It is not.

    If it was, you wouldn't be walking next to the former marshal of Los Diablos with a spring in your step looking for a good place to have a coffee. You would be dead.

    "Job thoughts," she admits, the sunshine mercilessly revealing the crow's-feet around her eyes. Just a hint, but normally taken care of by the stylists. Looks like she escaped them for the day, she's dressed down, boring even. Worn jeans and a nondescript hoodie, clothes for not being noticed.

    She looks like you.

     ‣ "You work too much," I say.
     ‣ "You still look good," I tease. "Even disheveled."
     ‣ "Don't worry," I smile. "I'll cheer you up."

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are fine, 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: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 38% / Anonymity: 62%
    ███████▒████████████
    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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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
     
  15. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    I'm leaning "You work too much," we haven't been as eagerly aiming for a my old friend speech lately, and we have had thoughts of how it'd be convenient if she retired and we didn't have odd glimmers of guilt to deal with
     
    • Agree x 2
  16. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    C'mon, Julia, surely the bad guys can manage for one day without you?

    > "You work too much," I say.

    "You work too much," you say, with a sympathetic pat on her shoulder. "What is it that's that important?" This is why you cultivate this relationship.

    "Hopefully nothing," Ortega says with a grimace that tells you it's not. "But if I'm right, Los Diablos might be in for trouble."

    "Anything I should worry about?" You've perfected your worried innocence by now. "A new villain?"

    "No, worse. Gang war. You probably don't remember how bad that can get. Last time was ten, fifteen years ago. " A look at you and a bitter laugh. "Oh boy, now I feel old."

    "You said it, not me. And what do you mean gang war? Like street gangs?" You pretend ignorance. Is she talking about you?

    "No, we've had a stable status quo here in Los Diablos, like it or not." From the grimace, it's the latter for her. "I think someone's out to disturb it. Pitting factions against each other. And then there's San Francisco…"

    "San Francisco?" you echo, curiosity piqued.

    "But, that is nothing you need to worry about." She leans in to kiss your cheek before continuing. "I'm probably making too much of it. That's what everybody else says."

    Interesting. Making too much of what? You can feel the tension hidden under the carefree smile, but it would be out of character for Barbara to dig. Not yet. You have to wait for the right moment if you want to catch her off guard. Be patient.

    "So, what are you in the mood for?" You look around at the small cafés that line the park, wondering how to proceed. It's always dangerous to predict where a discussion with Ortega will go. Just because it's easier in this body doesn't mean it's safe.

    "Something informal," she says with a shrug. "Some place where we can talk."

    "We're talking now." You're having a hard time reading her mood. Maybe because you have a hard time figuring your own out. It used to be easier, didn't it? Playing along.

     ‣ Am I being too wary when fishing for information?
     ‣ Is this a waste of time?
     ‣ I want to kiss her. It's distracting.

    I mean, a brewing gang war would certainly be worth knowing about, but "nothing you need to worry about" isn't much to go on…

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are fine, 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: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 38% / Anonymity: 62%
    ███████▒████████████
    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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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
     
  17. Loq

    Loq rotating like a rotisserie chicknen

    >waste of time
     
  18. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    > Is this a waste of time?

    Is this a waste of time?

    You've done this since your accidental meeting, and what have you actually found out? Not much. Building trust is one thing, but what if Ortega won't leak information as easily as you had hoped? You always figured she'd be quick to say the wrong thing.

    Turns out she can be surprisingly secretive.

    Maybe you need to push harder.

    "You feel like dinner?" she asks, interrupting your musings.

    "Not really—" you start, interrupted by her phone.

    "Sorry." She pulls it out, chunky in her hand. "I need to take this."

    "Sure," you say, stepping away, not to give her privacy, but to make it easier to listen in. Reading lips and expressions.

    Mumbled words. The frown is deepening. A glance at you, and you dutifully step farther away. Hard to guess what it is about. Ortega is listening more than speaking, mostly grunts and nods and fishing for more information.

    It feels juicy though. Not just routine.

    She takes a moment to stare at the phone once she has hung up. Then at you. It takes a second before the smile comes back.

    "Work?" you ask, making sure to sound not annoyed.

    "Unfortunately," she admits. "I got a tip."

    "An attack?" You let your eyes go wide.

    "No, no, nothing like that. Just a tip that someone who I have been keeping my eye on is going to have dinner with another very interesting someone."

    "That's a lot of someones," you joke, picking up on the tension in her body. Like a hound before the hunt. This might be good. "So you're gonna go have a look?"

    "I will. I can't afford to let this slip through my fingers."

    "Want company?" You put the words out lightly, not to make her suspicious. "You mentioned dinner, and if you're gonna spy, it helps to be a couple and not a suspicious lone stalker."

    "It might get dangerous…."

    "You said it was just a meeting," you protest. "If something happens, I can take care of myself."

    "It is just a meeting," she is talking herself into it. You can see it. "But you need to keep your voice down and follow my lead."

    "It will be fun," you say, smile widening. "I'm good at acting."

    > Famous Last Words

    One cab ride later.

    This is not a part of the city you frequent. Whoever tipped off Ortega knew how to bait her.

    This is dangerous ground.

    Hollow Ground.

    It's hard not to make that pun as you walk up to the diner that is your target, but Barbara wouldn't know. You do.

    You have, in fact, a picture of this particular diner on your board for one specific reason: it's one of the places where Hollow Ground's men hang out. It is on your list of known assets, but you don't think it's directly owned by the organization. From what you've gathered, this place is used as neutral ground, a place where people can meet that is still technically legit. A safe space for exchanging packages and information between the formal and informal parts of the Los Diablos hierarchy. And Ortega has brought you here.

    Does she know how dangerous this could be? Or did her informant neglect to tell her?

    You glance over at her as you approach, but you can't exactly ask. You can, however, chuckle at the glasses she pulls out of her pocket, putting them on.

     ‣ "Don't tell me that's a disguise?" I tease.
     ‣ "Charming place," I say cynically.
     ‣ "I feel overdressed," I say, looking around.

    insert "you came to the wrong diner, motherfucker" memes here

    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 tired.
    Injuries: You are fine, 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: 59%
    ███████████▒████████

    Psychological Profile
    Arrogance: 38% / Anonymity: 62%
    ███████▒████████████
    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%
    ██████████████▒█████

    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
     
  19. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    inb4 we run into one of our crew in here and have to deal with multiple sides of informants and double agents nonsense

    I'm leaning towards 1 or 3 - wanting a disguise of our own while commenting on the look of the place, to hopefully get Ortega on board w/ better disguises
     
    • Agree x 1
  20. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    We have two votes for "1 or 3"—anyone have a preference?
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice