Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book 5, 47: Peter Out

I'm not a huge fan of the Colleen Wing character in the comics, and it's not just all the crappy things they've done with her, or the katana worship. Is it too early to be on Team Misty?

I have, however, somewhat revised my opinion. Jessica Henwick is great, but, no offense to everyone else involved, I think the reason that she killed it in Iron Fist is that she's the only one with an arc that made sense. It's easier to sell the character when you don't have to constantly stop and ask, "Why am I doing this?" Finn Jones, on the other hand, needs that on a t-shirt.
The jacket, which I like better than the sukajan everyone is talking about, is by Sanctuary.

Book 5, 47: Peter Out 

A moment, another moment in the cold air. Too many moments, Charlotte thought. Well, maybe folks were busy. Maybe they’d lost interest. It happened. Probably not with Kilbern the Skyfather, though. He’d had seventy thousand years to find a hobby or a different job, so you had to figure he was a bit obsessed.

At last, the Fourth Sword sighed, in that exaggerated way that teachers sometimes sigh because no-one in the class was picking up on an obvious point, and also because they were dumb old grownups. “Are none of you surprised by that?”

“Oh no,” Dora said. “The mysterious Special Agent guy we’d never met before has suddenly disappeared. I sure hope he isn’t the Big Bad in disguise, and hasn’t doubled back to steal Auralia when we weren’t looking, because who could have seen that coming?”

“What my girl is trying to say,” Twelve continued, “Is that we are not surprised. Maybe the horse is surprised, because horses have smaller brain/body ratios than your average monkey, which is intelligent enough to see through this ‘Peter Ayre’ b.s., but Telus is a smart horse, so I’d be surprised.”

Charlotte tried not to take any more attention from the high and mostly barren mountain plain than she could as she replied. “You know what having your foot ‘accidentally’ stepped on by a horse is like, right, Twelve?” 

“I know who’s going to have to get his own Pep bars if he tries that.”

“You feed my horse chocolate bars?”

“It’s probably the peppermint that he likes, Char Char,” Rose said. “He’s gone after my Tic-Tacs a time or two.”

Charlotte shook her head. “Just when you think you know a dimension-travelling, spirit horse, he throws you a curve. Like, I mean, not literally throwing, because he doesn’t have hands, which is good for him, because then he’d have no excuse not to brush himself, but figuratively.”

“Aren’t you playing favourites with your pets?” Brian asked. “I mean, you don’t mind when Ginger mooches for fries.”

“That’s different,” Charlotte said. “She’s a crow. They’re garbage cans. Horses get colic and die if they even see non-organic, GMO hay.”

Which was the cue for a gigantic blue guy in old-timey plate armour to show up, standing in the middle of the air right in front of the busted temple door. “WHERE IS IT?”

“No reason to shout,” Dora answered. “We hid it. I mean, we might be kids, but we’ve watched enough bad TV to see this coming.”

“Psst,” Rose pretend-whispered. “Ask him if likes sand!”

“Oh, give him a break,” Bruce said back, speaking for the first time since the fight, and giving Charlotte’s heart a little lift she didn’t really understand. “He hasn’t broken out the old ‘NO’ on us, yet.”


“Okay,” Charlotte said. “First, no reason to shout just because we saw through your lame disguise and took reasonable precautions. Second, if you’re so tough, why are we still talking?”

In answer, a lightning bolt shot from Kilbern the Skyfather’s hand, only with so much stagework in advance that she didn’t even have to focus her qi to evade.

Bruce stretched out his foot to scuff the patch of pasture where the lightning bolt landed. “Hunh. So, third level spell, with, what, 5d6 damage, tops. So you cast as a fifth level wizard? Are you sure you’re even a demi-god?”


“I hate to repeat myself,” Charlotte said, “But it’s the fact that you haven’t done anything perilous yet that’s, like you said, blinding us.”

“Besides,” Bruce said, “Maybe the rules are silly, but you try getting a gaming group to play one of the good systems? And, in another sense, having rules that people like and relate to is no sillier than calling yourself ‘Peter Ayre’ and expecting people not to notice wordplay.”

“Which was super-lame,” Rose adde, “And I say that as someone who can sympathise. You know, sometimes brains just doesn’t correlate with having a verbal turn. There’s no shame in it. Well, there’s shame in it if you are a once-supreme god reduced to stealing candy from children, but we can’t help you with that.”

The blue god, or demi-god looked honestly taken aback at that. Slowly he settled until his sandled feet were on the ground. He took his helmet off, tucking it under his arm. “Perhaps we should talk,” he said, and Charlotte could almost hear the ALL CAPS switch off in his voice. 

It did not help a bit that without the helmet, a hotness, about which the myths did not lie, was obvious. Down, girl, she thought to herself, sternly. If the enemy offered negotiations on the battlefield, it was because he was waiting on something –probably reinforcements. 

Problem was, so were they. Well, nothing for it. “There’s not really much to discuss. We need the sword that put the King of Ivory down, seventy thousand years ago, so that we can put the wrinkle-hided old monster down again.”

“He’ll be back, you know,” Kilbern said. “Until either his purpose is fulfilled, or the ages of the world are spent.”

Charlotte shrugged. “You can only fight the evils of your time.”

“Not necessarily,” Kilbern said. “I put much of my power into that sword so that Venghest could use it to save the world from Takofanes.”

--A name, Charlotte was surprised to discover, even Kilbern could not say without making the ground seem to wriggle under her feet with disgusted, disgusting delight. 

Seemingly oblivious, Kilbern continued. “And look what happened. The oracles said that we would save the world; but instead we destroyed it. You can trace the deaths of the end of the Turakian Age in the human genome itself.”

Again the world wriggled underneath her feet. “Can’t you feel it?’ Charlotte asked, irritated. “Sure the Old Red Aeon ended. We were lucky. Lucky as a species, lucky as a planet.”

“And more,” Dora whispered.

“What? Felt what?” Kilbern seemed confused.

“You all felt it, right?” Charlotte asked.

“Yes,” Bruce said.

“Of course,” Dora said. Everyone felt it. The word has a weird reaction to that name."

“There must be some kind of rational explanation,” Rose said.

“Give me time and I’m sure I’ll come up with a class-based analysis,” Twelve answered, reluctantly.

“I feel nothing –Nothing, nothing except some childish illusion! I need that power! Do you know what the last seventy thousand years were like for me? I was dead for most of it! A bunch of Olympian poseurs seized me, wrung what was left of my power out of it to keep Atlantis above the waves. A Skyfather, reduced to a cheap pier until the wharf above rotted away from accumulated human stupidity!”

He paused. Spittle was flying out of his face, wetting his beard with glistening specks that pretty much did for the dad-bro thing he had going on. Just as well, because her own reaction to it was creeping Charlotte the heck out.

“All that power, and you just want to hand it over to some reincarnation of that bitch, Venghest!”

“Just FYI,” Dora answered, “Maybe don’t drop the b-word when you’re trying to make your case.”

At that, the mountain air began to . . . sparkle. Oh, great, Charlotte thought. We’re really going to do this fight with the forces of good thing.

“I’m not trying to win an argument,” Kilbern said, triumphantly. “I was delaying until the forces I summoned could arrived.”

It would have given Charlotte a great deal of satisfaction to let rip with a good, old-fashioned, “Duh” at that moment. Problem was, she was too busy not getting skewered by the rainbow-coloured horn attached to a sparkly blue unicorn.

Instead she yelled, “Seriously?” As she dodged around the blow, jumped onto the charging horse-like thing’s back, and poised for the killing thrust, only to realise that she couldn’t deliver it. Not to a sparkly unicorn of the forces of good, she couldn’t.

Instead, she had to settle for a kick to the head, which, even with the Eight Spirit Fist behind it, wasn’t likely to do much except make her feel good. The head is the hardest part on any pony’s body.

Or maybe not, as the sparkly blue pony fell to its front knees. Charlotte somersaulted free, taking in the fight. Telus wasn’t quite in his jam, since his opponents had horns on their heads and were mostly mares, but he knew what he was doing. Twelve was good at punching things; Dora could make with the flying and shooting, Rose was dodging at superspeed, while Bruce was going at the ponies with entangling cables, the way a good tactician would. 

That left the boss, who’d evidently found a reinforcement for his spell selection, too, as he’d finally found Auralia, floating in its protective bubble just behind and above Dora. 

Kilbern gestured. Three ponies triangulated Dora. As it turned out that they could fly, too, Dora did the only thing she could do, which was throw up a thick, golden bubble, and, presumably brace for impact behind it.

Charlotte raced towards her friend, praying that she would not have to explore her healing powers today, and that she would find enough in herself to cure a horn-skewering if she did. Ahead of her, a last minute dodge meant that only one of the ponies impacted.

It was enough. The bubble dissipated, and Dora fell to the ground, unmoving.

“Dora!” Twelve roared, as he blazed in from another quadrant, scattering ponies like really, really weird faceless mooks. 

Charlotte scanned her friend. No blood, and she’d managed to land flat on her back. Probably winded, hopefully no spinal damage. It wouldn’t be right to say that she could keep, but Auralia had fallen, stripped of spell defence, beside her, and Kilbern was there, reaching down to pick it up, as Charlotte arrived. 

This time, she did not hold back, going straight into a killing thrust. He claimed to be a god, he started it. This was one of those, “It’s your fault for standing where I was shooting” situations, she figured. 

Instead, he turned, changed into a guard stance, and parried, all in one fluid motion.

Well, fluid and a bit jerky, too. Charlotte parried, and parried again, as, out of the side of her eye, Twelve went down under a pile of ponies.

Thrust, parry. Pretty conventional work, because she couldn’t move off Auralia, or a pony would grab it. Across the lichen-meadow, Telus was cornered by five rainbow-coloured ponies, their sharp, sharp horns fencing him in. 

It served the big old sexist right, Charlotte thought, that he couldn’t bear to connect on mares with his mighty hooves.

Kilbern worked in an overhand so strong she could barely deflect it. His armour, it turned out, was also strong enough to deflect the Pearl Harmony Sword. “Magic,” Charlotte whispered. “You’re cheating.”

“You have a magic sword, girl,” Kilbern whispered.

“First, I earned it. Second, I’m fighting a retired god. You’re fighting a teenager. What’s your excuse?” 

“Because I can.” And, behind Charlotte, Rose ran full tilt into a sparkly shield and collapsed to the ground.

A familiar rear end thrust itself against hers, and Charlotte couldn’t resist saying what she thought: “Sexy.”

For just a second, the butt stiffened, then relaxed. “Just so you know, there’s a bunch of ponies trying to skewer you from behind,” Bruce said. “The Fourth Sword and I will hold them off. You keep Kilbern off the sword until—“

Two shadows passed over the meadow.

“—Now,” Bruce shouted.

Two familiar, blue-skinned women in chain mail bikinis dropped onto the nearest ponies. The Second Sword dropped a silvery bridle over the head of the pony. The animal nickered, sadly, and fell. It took the Sixth Sword a moment longer, but then her device was in place, and a second multi-coloured, sparkly unicorn fell. But it took her longer because she was throwing things to Bruce and the Fourth Sword.

Behind Charlotte, the comforting presence of Bruce’s backside stopped pressing into Charlotte’s, as he, and the Fourth Sword, moved to grab the thrown bridles. Across the meadow, watching with intelligent eyes, Telus seemed to take in the action and reared, lunging, to edge his contrarian harem towards the centre of the fight and the merciful bridles.

Their plan was working, Charlotte thought, at the very moment that Kilbern screamed with anger and launched himself at her.

Charlotte guarded, deflected, and moved into the best dodge she knew.

--One that gave up six feet.

Kiilbern stopped his motion, stretched down, picked up Auralia, and disappeared into the shimmer of a dimensional gate.

“That didn’t go so well,” The Fourth Sword said, breathless and strangled.

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