8FOLD: Daylighters # 1, "Pursued By A Bear"

Drew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Mon May 27 20:40:52 PDT 2019

Hokay, time to read Daylighters! I'm only six months late on this one, whee! X3

On 11/4/2018 12:09 AM, Tom Russell wrote:
> Traditional superhero teams can't deal with the number and scope of
> threats to life on the planet Earth. In their place has risen THE
> DAYLIGHTERS, a loose and decentralized social network of costumed
> adventurers and specialists.

This is an _excellent_ summation. Like I said with Mancers, I really need to do 
more of these.

> Bethany Clayton, KNOCKOUT MOUSE, age 31.
> Controls the density of her right hand. Geneticist.
> Kate Morgan, SHIMMER, age 29.
> Phases through solid matter. Concert pianist.
> Kelly Chen, FEATHERWEIGHT, age 28.
> Makes objects weightless with a touch. Professor of quantum linguistics.
> Jonah Jacobs, KLUTZ, age 25.
> Catastrophic probability manipulation (bad luck). Sporadically employed.


> MEDUSA, age four months.

That is the best way to put it

> Ghedi Dirie, ZIP, age 15.
> Long-range teleporter and travel blogger.


> The last day of twenty-fourteen unfolds much like the three-hundred
> and sixty-four that preceded it, at least as far as Jonah Jacobs is
> concerned. His alarm clock doesn't go off (a certain short and furry
> someone chewed through the wire). He has a back-up alarm on his cell
> phone, only the battery is dead (despite having a full charge last
> night). He is already two hours late for his shift when he stumbles
> out of bed, and by the time he jogs into Antwerp, his boss is all too
> happy to relieve him of his employment.

Ah, I see what "catastrophic probability manipulation" means. X3

> By the
> time he gets to the front of the line, the espresso machine falls
> apart - literally just falls off the table, separated into its
> component parts

oh my god

> He
> finds an isolated table in the corner, and plugs his phone charger
> into the wall socket. There are sparks, and then everything goes
> black. This provokes the other patrons to leave the establishment,
> which is probably for the better, because just as he finishes his
> coffee, a car bursts through the window, sending glass and bricks
> everywhere.

OH MY GOD. XD This is like a Charlie Chaplin routine

>     "But it is your fault," says the barista. "You're the supervillain
> with the bad luck powers."
>     "Superhero," he says, wincing again.
>     "Our machine is broken, our power is out, and there is a car
> through the front of the building." Splert! "And a bird just pooped on
> my head.


> If you were really some kind of hero, you wouldn't do this.
> You would sit in your fortress or your underground lair, away from
> people."
>     But he doesn't have a fortress or an underground lair. He has a
> crummy apartment and is chronically behind on his rent.

Because our society says that humans have to be Productive:tm: to live

> It would be a lot quicker if he took the bus, but he
> stopped using all forms of public transportation long ago. There's
> just too much that could go wrong, too many people that could be hurt.
> Sure, wherever he goes, disaster follows, but he actually does take
> steps to minimize the pain that his very existence inflicts on others.


> At worst, most Belgians regard him as a menace, and at best,
> they're embarrassed by their country's only superhero.

Huh, you'd think there'd be more.

>     "Klutz?" she says, extending an effervescent hand. With a little
> effort, it becomes solid enough for him to shake it.

I'm really enjoying the "powers involved in casual interactions" thing

>     "Oh, I don't have a costume anymore," says Jonah. "Every time it
> gets torn to shreds and I end up naked. Happens half the time with my
> normal clothes, too.

That's kinky

>     "Well, let's see how this one goes before we talk about next time,"
> says Jonah. "Speaking of which, what's the deal this time?"
>     "Hotspur has resurfaced," says Shimmer.
>     "The Shakespeare robot?"
>     "The Shakespeare robot," she confirms.

I love the Shakespeare robot

>     "Knockout Mouse," says Jonah. "Everyone knows who you are."
>     She doesn't seem entirely pleased about that.


> It's pitch dark now. At least this time Jonah has a landmark: he can
> see the Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon, glowing warmly. Knockout
> Mouse introduces Jonah to Featherweight. Featherweight wears a costume
> that looks very much like a tuxedo, but with a splendid cape and top
> hat. He's very slender, more an acrobat than a brawler.


>     Shimmer continues. "When he teamed up with the Gorgon, he became a
> much bigger threat, because the Gorgon could plan. So what we've been
> afraid of is that now that the Gorgon's dead, Hotspur will seek out a
> new partner, someone who knows how to use an exponentially-growing
> army of robots."

Ooooo, excellent thought.

>     "Wish I could get you all closer," says Zip, "but this is the
> closest I've been to Vegas. I was a kid when it got destroyed.

Oh no I'm old, I wrote that story, sort of. Oh no this story takes place in 
2014, I'm even older ;-;

>     "Vegas, huh?" says Jonah. "They were rebuilding it, right?" [2]
>     "Until some kaiju hit it last month," says Featherweight.

:D :D :D

 >.> <.<


>     "So," says Jonah, "Hotspur has a partner?"
>     "Yep," says Shimmer. "One of my old baddies. Fortuna."

Oh nice.

>     "From the name, I'm assuming good luck powers, and you need my bad
> luck powers to balance them out?"
>     "Something like that," says Shimmer. "Disappointed?"
>     "Nope," says Jonah. "I was wondering why you folks wanted me along,
> and now I have an answer.


> We even know what they're up to; they're trying to bring
> back the Gorgon."
>     "Is that even possible?" says Jonah.
>     "It shouldn't be," says Shimmer. "Odds are ten thousand to one
> against it. But. Those are Fortuna's kind of odds."

Oh damn. How would that even work? I guess we'll find out...

>     A white van pulls up and comes to a stop. The door slides open of
> its own accord. A soft but mechanical voice calls from the empty
> driver's seat. "Come on, everyone," says Medusa. "Hop in!"
>     Jonah grits his teeth. "I don't know if this is a great idea."
> "Is everyone alright?" says Medusa after the crash.

oh my god XD XD XD

>     "We can hoof it," says Knockout Mouse. She turns on a flashlight to
> point the way forward. "Featherweight, can you carry the car?"
>     "That depends. Do I get to throw it at some robots?"
>     "I'd be terribly disappointed in you if you don't."

Heeheehee :3

>     "So what's your story?" says Shimmer to Jonah. "Boxer's file said
> something about a Catastrophic Probability Matrix?"
>     "Good ol' CPM," says Jonah. "So about two years ago I was in
> Copenhagen, on vacation. CPM is in this lab and I happen to be
> sight-seeing a block away. There's complicated science stuff I don't
> understand, but the short version is that the CPM goes screwy and
> destroys itself, and in the process, I become an organic version of
> the CPM. Just my luck."

I love this trope so much, even though it makes so little sense.

> Came out of that - how long ago,
> Mouse?"
>     "Week ago?" says Knockout Mouse.
>     "A week ago," says Shimmer. "No belt, still have the powers. Go fig."

NICE. I expected this to be a dramatic onscreen reveal, but it works really well 
as this casual drop. (...and if it's a dramatic onscreen reveal in something 
else, maybe I've forgotten X3)

>     "I still think you shouldn't be on a mission again so soon," says
> Knockout Mouse.
>     "And let you punch all the robots? Nah."
>     "I like punching robots," says Knockout Mouse. "It's the closest
> thing I have to a hobby."
>     Jonah listens in silence while Shimmer and Knockout Mouse reminisce
> about all the robots they've punched.

Heeheehee cute

>     It highlights for him how isolated he is. Even though he's part of
> this "team", of this mission, of the greater community of costumed
> adventurers, he's not. Unless there's a lot of luck-based threats in
> the future, it's not like he's going to team up with them again.
> Certainly he's not going to see them socially; who wants to hang out
> with a literal jinx?

Aw. ;.;

>     "You okay, Mouse?" says Featherweight. "You look shook."
>     "Bad memories," says Knockout Mouse. "I wasn't here the first time.
> Me and Met, uh, me and Shimmer, we were in Jolt City, doing our part
> to repair the fabric of space-time. If I had figured it out a little
> sooner, done more, maybe Vegas could have been saved."


>     "Hey," says Shimmer. "We're not the ones that put space-time in
> danger. FEVER did. If you want to blame someone for this, you blame
> them. Bad people do bad things. Sometimes we stop them, sometimes we
> don't. That's the job. But you can't hold yourself responsible for
> what they did."

YEAH!! <3

>     There's a rumbling, scraping sound. Vaguely human shapes shine in
> the darkness that stretches out before them. Three pairs of yellow
> dots gleam, growing closer, larger, and brighter.
>     "O for a muse of fire," comes three herky-jerky, emotionless voices.

Ohhhhh, that's such a good visual moment

>     "Car!" cries Featherweight enthusiastically as he gently lobs the
> white van at them. It crashes with a satisfying crunch.

OMG and that's such a good response

>     Before Jonah can heave a sigh of relief, the van starts to shift
> and break apart. He would describe it as being like melting, only
> there's nothing even vaguely liquid about it. Pieces of metal and
> upholstery rip themselves apart, forming bodies with gleaming eyes.
> Jonah counts eight of them.

DAMN. That's so cool.

>     A larger one grabs hold of a smaller one, and speaks. "Indeed my
> invention comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize; it plucks
> out brains and all." The smaller robot is launched through the air.

Frizeball special

>     Featherweight has already grabbed Shimmer by the ankle, lifting her
> up effortlessly, aiming her, and throwing her like a javelin.

Even better fastball special!!

> Shimmer
> goes incorporeal and passes through the robot, vibrating, pulling his
> molecules apart until only scrap remains.


>     Knockout Mouse punches a hole into a robotic belly. Once inside his
> metal midriff, she squeezes her fist, increasing its mass
> exponentially, creating an irresistible gravitation pull that
> collapses the eight foot robot in on itself. It forms a small ball the
> size of a gumdrop.
>     It's impossibly heavy, and she lets go of it immediately.
> Featherweight scoops it up before it touches the ground and, with a
> show-off pirouette, he flicks it high in the air.
>     Shimmer grabs each of her comrades by one hand, and the three
> become like ghosts. They don't budge an inch when the ball touches the
> earth. The street immediately gives way, collapsing into a cone-shaped
> hole that swallows up the robots.

THAT'S SO AMAZING! What a good combo!

>     "Hell is empty," echoes a voice from below. "And all the devils are here!"
>     From the hole springs forth one Hotspur, then another, and another.
> Maybe there's twenty, maybe there's thirty; Jonah loses count almost
> immediately. The four humans step back.


>     Well, three of them do; Jonah slips, because of course he does,
> pitching head-first into the chasm. Into the robots.
>     He braces himself for impact, and for death.
>     But it's nothing so melodramatic. Because instead of crashing into
> the robots, he's crashing through them, moving through them. Shimmer.

Hmmmm. Thoughts on bad luck that maybe the story will bring up so I'll hold 'em 
for now~

>     They barrel through concrete (tastes like dirt) and steel (tastes
> like blood)


>     "I know, I know," says Jonah. "But this mission would be going a
> whole lot smoother without me gumming everything up."
>     "Without you, the mission wouldn't go at all," says Shimmer.
> "They've got their hands full with Hotspur, but Fortuna is the real
> threat. And, hey, I've been doing this superhero thing since I was a
> teenager. Bad luck comes with the territory. Honestly, I'm much more
> comfortable with your bad luck than I am with Fortuna's good luck.

Good moment!! <3

> Bethany and Featherweight have ducked behind a pile of rubble when
> they get Medusa's update about Kate. "Great," says Bethany. "Because I
> really wanted this to be harder."

Challenge level AAA+

> If I had his powers, you know what I'd do with them?"
>     Featherweight shakes his head.
>     "Nothing," says Bethany. "I wouldn't put myself in situations where
> I'm going to risk hurting people. I wouldn't be around other people at
> all."

Oh, sweetie. You should probably have some therapy. Like... people don't need to 
be useful to be worthy of living, and that includes you.

> "How's your head now?" whispers Jonah.
>     "A little better," says Shimmer. "Hang on, Medusa's saying
> something. Medusa, sweetie, you're breaking up a lot. Could you say
> that again? Ah, okay. Great."

CUTE interaction.

>     "Canned food," she says.
>     "Some of them are open," says Jonah, pointing to a pile. "A lot of
> them are open. How long has Fortuna been living here?"
>     "A day or two," says Shimmer. "This place was empty when we
> stumbled across it a month ago."


>     They don't ask questions. Shimmer hugs the darkness in one corner
> of the room. Jonah's about to do the same in an opposite corner when
> the woman snaps her fingers. "Not there," she says. "Last time you
> knocked over the shelf."
>     (Last time?)

oooooooh. :D Groundhog Day'ing it!

>     "I'm fine," says Shimmer. "What's going on? Who are you?"
>     "Call me Loop," she says. "Short-range backwards-only time travel."


>     "Like I said, short-range time travel," says Loop. "You didn't go
> through the wall the last time and it got the both of you killed, so I
> jumped back thirty seconds. Before I did, you told me to say those
> names so that you'd trust me."
>     "How many times have you gone through this?" says Shimmer.
>     "Fifteen," says Loop. She points at Jonah. "This guy has a knack."

Nice <3 <3 <3

>     "I don't know who Medusa is, but I'm good at hiding," says Loop.

I would question this, but she *has* been literally living under a rock.

>     "I survived what happened six years ago. Maybe I'm the only one
> that did, out of, I don't know how many people. Hundreds of thousands?
> A million or more? That's hard to deal with, especially when you don't
> have a shrink handy, so it was pretty easy for me to crawl deep into
> this hole and never come out of it. Like I said, personal and
> depressing, and I don't want to get into it.

Ah, I see, it's because I must ENTER THE SCREEN AND HUG HER

>     "Three minutes is pretty much my upper limit," says Loop. "But the
> more repeats I do, the shorter each one becomes."
>     "That was my question," says Jonah.
>     "I know," says Loop, rolling her eyes. "I literally jumped back in
> time. Try to keep up, buddy."


> Medusa's not getting through at all anymore, but Kate's not as worried
> now that they're making their way through the complex with a guide
> from the future. More than once, Loop directs them to briefly detour
> into this hallway or that one, this doorway or that, effortlessly
> avoiding each patrol. Kate could get used to this. Certainly without
> that stress, her headache is starting to dissipate, giving her more
> control over her phasing.

Very good. :>

>     While they're waiting for two of the Hotspurs to pass ("I think the
> boy hath grace in him, he blushes" says one; "I warrant you my Lord,
> more grace than boy" says the other)

They're flirting!

> Kate looks down at the floor,
> and at Jonah's shoes.
>     When the danger has passed: "Your shoes are untied."
>     "But I haven't tripped," says Jonah, stooping down to remedy the
> situation. "We must be close to Fortuna; she must be cancelling out my
> powers."
>     "Hopefully that means you're cancelling out hers."

Ooooooh, very smart.

>     Loop stops, then turns around. "Fortuna and three Hotspurs are on
> the other side of this door. The first time I shot her in the face and
> you got upset for some reason and made me take it back."
>     "Yeah, that sounds like me," says Kate.


>     "Loop?"
>     "I'm running on fumes," says Loop. "I can't jump back more than a
> few seconds."

This is an extraordinarily good weakness.

>     As she moves under the platform, she feels strange and prickly and
> nauseous. (Yep, big weird science-fiction-y machine.)

That's such a good detail

>     When she becomes solid again, she's surprised to find that she's
> not exhausted at all. Quite the opposite, actually; she feels
> invigorated.

Oh boy this Means Something

>     "I don't know why it isn't working!" Fortuna is saying.
>     "O base Gongarian wight!" screams one of the Hotspurs. "Wilt thou
> the spigot wield?"
>     "Don't take that tone with me," warns Fortuna. She heads down the
> stairs, then tumbles, screaming.
>     "Falling there to find his fellow forth," says one of the Hotspurs,
> helping her up.
>     "My heel broke," says Fortuna in disbelief.
>     "The pleasing punishment that women bear," offers the Hotspur.
>     "Watch it, buddy," says Fortuna.

This is AMAZING banter

>     Kate looks at Jonah. "Your powers aren't cancelling each other
> out," she whispers. "They're reversed!"
>     Jonah's perpetually irritated hang-dog expression disappears almost
> immediately. His eyes go wide and bright, and he smiles, no, he grins,
> big and open-mouthed and full of teeth and joy, a rictus,
> uncontrollable, almost manic smile.

oh my goodness Jonah. X3 <3

>     The exploded Hotspur's arm flies off in the explosion, and its hand
> embeds itself into the third Hotspur's chest. It stares at it, gaping,
> then murmurs: "If one good deed in all my life I did, I do repent it
> from my very soul."
>     It extends its own arm out in a grand, sweeping gesture, then
> freezes. The lights in its eyes go out, and then it falls backwards
> like a stone.

That's so perfect.

>     Fortuna makes a run for it, but one of the Hotspurs is leaking oil.
> One pratfall later, she's horizontal and unconscious.

Amazing. X3

>     "Wasn't it?" says Jonah, surveying this grand, wonderful disaster
> with supreme satisfaction.


>     "Uh, guys?" says Loop. "What about the scary malfunctioning machine thing?"
>     Jonah raps on it twice with his knuckles and, improbably, it turns
> itself off.

<3 <3 <3

> His luck is depressingly back to normal by the time they bring Fortuna
> to the surface.

He's a Good Boy.

>     "Is Featherweight okay?" says Jonah.
>     "Yeah," says Bethany. "He and Medusa are uploading textual analysis
> of Shakespeare's collaborative works to one of the Hotspurs to see if
> the resultant existential crisis will make the program sane."
>     Kate hears Medusa's voice in her ear. "Didn't work."
>     "Ah well," says Bethany.

XD <3

>     "How about it, Jonah?" says Kate. "Coming with us?"
>     "You, you want me to come with you guys?" he says.
>     "I mean, yes," says Kate. "You were part of this whole thing. We're
> celebrating. Why wouldn't we want you along?"
>     "Not used to being invited, I guess," says Jonah. "And there's a
> pretty good chance the restaurant will catch on fire."
>     "He has a point," says Bethany.
>     "We'll bring an extinguisher," says Kate. "I insist."
>     "Well, alright," says Jonah.

Super cute. :> <3 <3 <3

>     "It has been six years since I ate something that didn't come in a
> can," says Loop. "So, yes. I am enthusiastically in support of getting
> breakfast."
>     Kate helps her up.
>     "Man, I've missed the sun," says Loop.


>     "Knockout Mouse?" says Loop. "I remember you. I mean, we never met.
> But I had a friend who was sweet on you."
>     "Oh," says Bethany.
>     "Not like a stalker or anything," says Loop. "You teamed up with
> him, went on adventures. Blue Boxer. Please tell me he's still
> around."
>     "Yeah," says Bethany. "Yeah, he is."
>     "Oh, that's a relief. Between you and me, the squirt was about as
> clumsy as this one." She points at Jonah with her thumb, then extends
> her other hand to shake Bethany's. "My name is Pam Bierce." [4]





Drew ":D :D :D" Perron

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