Tag: Brandon Mallic

Own Your Choices, Even When You Screw Up

Own Your Choices, Even When You Screw Up

April 2nd, 2024 – Tuesday: 8 AM

Garrick could see why Jake hired Amanda. She was incredibly matter-of-fact about everything she said or did. She had Brandon on speakerphone when she explained what Garrick’s short sighted approach to revealing his identity had caused. Nothing about it was cruel, neither was it complimentary in the slightest. Only Brandon mentioned that he admired him for doing it, however, both of them were perturbed that they weren’t able to be prepared properly.

To avoid his exuberance spilling over to how he would run half of Mallic-Faulkner Technologies. Amanda began an exhaustive PowerPoint presentation to show what his strategy would take and then a number of options she had to optimize the merger of their companies. Out of all the options Garrick finally understood how risky his mass healing goal was. Both Brandon and Amanda breathed a sigh of relief when Garrick said, “Option three. I’m sorry for causing everyone such grief. Thanks for reigning me in. If we are robotic parts specialists then let’s focus on that. Cai had a language module option that should help. He called it a universal translator. I’ve recently had the chance to work on and repair a gel matrix brain module used in the latest A.I. combined CPU/storage solutions. I should probably work on that for our Android, A.I. and T.I. processing power customers. With the research I’ve given to Constance we can likely make a better micro fusion power source. Brandon and Jimmy can figure out how and whom to sell them to.”

Pausing for just a second he continued, “On a personal note, I believe Amanda should be made the C.O.O. (Chief Operational Officer) to help Brandon with the day to day. Let the creative people create and the administrative and organizational people channel those energies to focused growth. I can tell you I’m going to have wild ideas because that is what thrusts science forward. I feel it is what Jake would have wanted. However, with both of your help we can channel that wild, creative, stream into something useful.”

He continued, “Not anticipating being made the Centurions’ replacement. I accept that I may need to relinquish other duties. We’ll tackle that after meetings with Director Balisong. Once I know you will.”

“Thank you,” Amanda said and continued, “I’ll speak with Cai about his language module. I’ve already scheduled a meeting with the people responsible for Centurions security. Those WILL be implemented in your home, Constance and Ameera’s residences as well. The 72nd precinct captain is helping me coordinate additional security with off duty officers at M.F.T.’s Norwood and Drummond locations. Our policies will be updated and budgets adjusted as needed.”

Garrick left knowing he had screwed some things up and he was called on it. Now a lot of people handle that as a personal attack and he even needed to remind himself it was not personal. People should be allowed to confront the sources of there frustration. He was able to remember one of his father’s chief pieces of advice. ‘If you have advisers, then listen when they bring you their concerns.’ What would have been the point of saving Mallic and making sure Amanda and everyone had a place in the shared growth of the company if he didn’t let them do their jobs? Garrick was happy he appeared to learn how to get out of his own way that time. Now he just had to bank that experience and grown upon it.

He stopped at his door to his new office and was surprised his nameplate had changed: Garrick “Gryphon” Faulkner was punched through to show the synth-wood door beneath the diamond stamped sheet-metal plate. He had to chuckle as he opened the door to find Horace and Constance there waiting for him. His face lit up at seeing his friends again. They sat around for about 30 minutes catching up and Horace letting Garrick know he understood why he kept it from him. They both tell Garrick reassuringly not to worry about them now that he’s revealed his identity.

When Horace brought up the game servers for Gizergleam Peaks, Garrick was happy to sign over the whole kit and caboodle. When he explained the company path he had worked out with Amanda he saw the wheels turning over in Horace’s head. Horace said he would be able to afford the costs but was going to run a Kickstarter funding campaign to make it a real company. This would allow him to train his replacement if it succeeded. He worked out a deal with Constance for him to transition out in a year and start a gaming company. Garrick was happy to see his friends grow and watch as everyone began to pursue their dreams. Sure it means they might move out of his immediate social circle but such is the way of things. Besides he can always meet up with them as time allows. He told Horace if it would help his Kickstarter he would be willing to play and raid with the backers of a certain tier. Hopefully he could get some big backers for that.

As everyone left he was happy this just freed up the money he would’ve taken out of his monthly spending cash to cover payments on the aircar to Richard. Now the server payments would transition to that! In many ways it was a win-win for everyone and he saw his day taking a decidedly upswing turn.

A few emails got traded back and forth.



Hey there, now whatever projects you and Amanda work out to do is fine with me. If you make your deadlines I would like to reward you with a new body designed for long term A.I. and Transferred Intelligence use. I believe in fixing ARCHIE I may have figure out a way to allow A.I. and T.I. the ability to dream on a sub-active state level. Remind me to talk about disassociation based hive processing unit or HPU’s. Now that I’ve had the chance to work with the new gel-matrix brains I may have figured out the beginnings of a plan to quietly scour the web and hunt for Thanatos’ ghost. Well, if indeed one actually survived being purged.

On a personal note, I won’t give up looking for your body but I want to be prepared in case it doesn’t work out in the way we hope for.

Since I am not officially back to work at Mallic-Faulkner Technologies from my PTO until the 9th of April we can go over design ideas when I get back in the office. I want to try and give you back as much of a normal life as I can. With my HPU’s I am hoping to give you a few bodies you can be linked to, with inactive ones helping to boost processing power remotely for the active body. Enjoy your day as much as you can, and remembering something Jake said as he fired his portal gun once.





Thanks! Looking into the HPUs would be interesting, but I don’t know if I want to be the guinea pig… So I’d probably be ready to hop into that after a year or two of testing.

I am absolutely all for hunting for Thanatos, and if I can help in any way, I’m there.

WHAT’S THIS ABOUT ARCHIE BEING MESSED UP? I didn’t think I was that out of it, but I don’t remember hearing about this!

And finally, searching for my body is all well and good, but I think that the time window has elapsed. I don’t know if I… if Urien Daniels was killed in the last timeline, or if Mason had a fatal heart attack, all that was said was “your body existed” in passing by Geist. If a cloned body works just as well as a normal body (and I have a few ideas on how you could do it) I’d like to be in a super model’s body. I mean honestly, I like my old body, it’s mine, but being separated from my body has acclimated me to change, though I’d like to have my other 3 senses back.



When we see each other at the photo shoot for Tecate at Noon I can fill you in about ARCHIE. I will also update Beast at the same time because I could be jumping the gun thinking anything survived. It might have been a failsafe attack to it/him (not sure about the identity nomenclature) being destroyed.


Satisfied he could move on, he left his office and headed outside and nodded to the off-duty cop and drove away to try and meet with Director Balisong. He’d talk with Geist and the Tecate contact at the photo shoot. About arranging a meeting between all of the municipal and corporate expectations given no one was truly prepared for this chain of events. The PR boost to Tecate® must be impressive. He made a note to talk with Victor about interviews, knowing he would likely have to give one soon, but largely this would be his job moving forward.

A lot of work ahead but they were now Heroes of Century Station.

Art by: AZ_Artisan
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March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 9:12 AM

Horace walked into Constance’s office after her assistant said she didn’t have anyone meeting with her. He brought her a mug of hot tea and set down a box of those same leaves she had asked about getting. They chatted for a bit, catching up on how each other were doing and recent projects they were working on. When he asked about the merger Constance explained that it was Gary that somehow convinced their rival company to merge with Mallic to create Mallic Faulkner Technologies.

“So, because of this the Hideyoshi account is saved. No one is loosing their jobs. We’re not just expanding to the full building, but gaining a second one altogether? Seems like hero work is really a calling for him. Quite the win,” Horace said with a set of raised eyebrows and a slightly surprised tone.

“I know you two haven’t really spoken since his secret came out. Is everything going to be okay? You both worked so well together, and I know he’s tried to apologize for not telling you sooner.

“Ms. Mallic, Constance, I realize that while not fact, we’re fairly certain he’s the Gryphon of Norwood. I’ve pieced together that when I found out about his having powers he would have still been listed as a Maverick. I have actually forgiven him trying to not make me the accessory of a crime when his hero work put him on the wrong side of the law.”

“Horace, have you told him that? I can absolutely be certain it would make his day. He misses hanging out with you.”

“Constance I am not sure how to approach him now? He’s now running his own division. Brandon and the lawyers were headed over to Faulkner Robotics to finalize the merger. Talk among the Dev’s and QA suggest he is going to help Brandon push the company into its future. I have an angle how to do that but I would like your help.”

Constance looked concerned yet interested in another idea the company might explore since Garrick was now in charge of his own branch, division, “Sure, let me know how we can keep growing and innovating.”

“Gary and I built a virtual worlds together in the Worlds Online system. His most popular server I run as a junior admin. The World is called Ecc’Thallia and governed by Dragon Lords. Perhaps you have heard him say the name Gizergleam?”

Constance nodded smiling at the times he would nerd on how great a job Horace was doing running the server. “Oh yes Horace, he’s geeked out about it plenty when things were slow.”

“Well, it’s a hobby of some Super Hero fan forums to look for the online personas of heroes, maverics, and villains. A number of Worlds Online identities have been scrutinized for possibly being real heroes. Our registered users has now topped 1.26 million and we have an average online ratio of 75,000 to 368,000 in any given hour! This happened Wednesday morning. Horace just looked at Constance for a few seconds before continuing. She appeared interested in where he was going but she gave nothing away. “So, I would like to propose Mallic Robotics buys his server. More importantly buys the second server as well. The other world is a hard science world server set a few decades ahead. It could be called Sci-fi, but what I know is that everything he tried out in Robot Swords franchise he tested on this server. There is even a very regulated A.I. on it called Cynthia Mark II. He said it was based on another A.I. he built for his father ages back.”

Constance nodded as he continued, “First, I want to lightly monetize the games and add more features. Second, I want to safeguard the science environment server because of all the Robot Swords easter eggs just littering the landscape. Third, perhaps we can release a replacement sci-fi world(s) where people fight as robots, or power armor pilots. Lightly monetized to make free play go faster. This one we would also make mobile friendly for a broader audience. We can call it: Gryphon Command.”

Constance considered this new project. More and more it seemed, Mallic kept branching out. How far could they stretch their expertise before they broke? She decided it could stretch this much farther at least, especially with the plans Garrick set in motion and the cushion those plans provided them. “How many Dev’s would you need to start this?” she asked.

“Two devs, two community managers with one focusing on social media, two concept artists, two digital animators. There are some software purchases we’ll need to make the work procedural and save hundreds of thousands in creation. That is all to run the enhancements on Gizergleam. Once we get that in the black then we can interject a small story arc where some future stuff falls from the sky. It will be our way to introduce and beta test the sci-fi world as a special adventure event. If sales go good perhaps 3-6 months we could increase staff enough to make make serious money for Mallic to offset Gary not working here directly anymore.”

Eight people! This would be a risk. But it was something she thought Garrick would agree with, and it would help to patch things up between those two. Then there was also the rub Constance saw, Garrick had played a large part of the success and now she had to make sure to match what he would come up with. Horace had a good and reasonable plan to deal with making a product that could be put to use. All they had to do was get Garrick to sell it.

“Horace, I like the plan and I will talk with Gary next Monday when I know he’ll be at the new office in Drummond. The condition for my help is you be with me when we have this conversation. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” they shook hands as a pending online video game product line took shape. Both talked about making a licensed game of Robot Swords, or whatever Brandon was going to work out in California when he left on April 12th.


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Art either created or photo manipulated by: AZ_Artisan


When Will This Week End?

When Will This Week End?

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 8:52 AM

As far as Gryphon knew everyone in S.A.V.I.O.R. had left off for their various destinations and city patrols. As he went to clean the dishes he used in breakfast. He overheard the Geist and Shorty #5 having a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting about his activities last night. Gryphon knew that he would have to engage him during missions more to help him feel comfortable as providing situational intelligence updates, coordinating the bringing in of police, fire, and E.M.S. Perhaps, even finding a purpose he could get behind.

He checked his phone and it was just turning 8:58 AM. He sent and email to Brandon, Amanda Surges, and Constance Mallic about the hiring of a new developer at the Faulkner Robotics division of Mallic-Faulkner Technologies. He would be specializing in medical applications and language translations/communications. His name is Cai, and he’s a transfered intelligence in a robot body designated by Cai as: Caedechron. He noted that he was a new member of S.A.V.I.O.R. and any necessary paperwork would need to be drawn up. Since Garrick was going to be in briefly on Monday to see about Amanda’s three projects and their humanitarian counterparts. They could meet Cai and he, while on boarding their new developer with the company and a workstation. His starting salary would be $90,000 per year.

After he was an employee and signed the NDA’s he wanted to share with Cai his brainchild for ‘CPU Hive A.I. Networking’ as means to help him adapt to a non-organic body. Hopefully, they could try and figure out a way to see where Mason Douchegutt had stashed the organic dead one. Garrick had decided that preparing for a worse case scenario was prudent.

He also proposed a conditional project for biological cloning and/or synthetic skinned, android, transfered intelligence bodies for people that had been wounded critically and may not survive longer. The elite would pay but this could also allow M.F.T. to help out a percentage of cases for city workers and the underprivileged by economic means. His inspiration was clearly Cai. He was hoping to re-gift him with a synth-skinned body that would allow him to live as close to normal as once did. He ended the email with the quote he mentioned to Amanda as his new corporate email signature: “Our success will be measured not just in control of markets of technology, but equally in what we give back to the communities we reside in.”

He sent a text to Ramona about meeting for lunch in Century Station Memorial Park at 11 AM. He would bring sandwiches, some fruit salad, and soft oatmeal bars. She was welcome to bring the beverages and they could have a conversation that didn’t involve the craziness of last night. He added to bring a sweater because it might be chilly according to the weather report. Garrick made sure to pack an umbrella just to be sure. It did not take long to get an affirmative reply and she’d bring water and tea.

He logged onto the Discord server the Frauen Von Gryphon used and let them know that Ramona may have figured out he was part of S.A.V.I.O.R. Given she was there on the previous night at the Church of Reflections. She was, after all, his way to get most of the team inside without raising suspicion. He explained he was going to have lunch with her to find out if his identity was compromised with her. He also asked everyone their thoughts on him going public as the Gryphon? He asked them to think about it before answering. He closed the app on his phone and then made the call he knew had to be made.

Garrick called Nathaniel and got his voice mail, “Hey buddy this is Garrick, can I stop by the bar tonight and we can talk? If not tonight, maybe Saturday night? No rush, please reach out when you wish, Nate.” Garrick got the reply via text: [Understood.] Well, he’d made contact and at least Nathan knew someone cared. He sent an email to Col. Lightning about taking on Black Phantom if he decided to leave but still wished to do hero work. No sense in him needing to become a Maverick again. He explained the team loosing Jake earlier this very week had hit some harder than others. Also that everybody processes their grief at different times and in different ways.

Irons, so to speak, were in the fire on the issues before him. He checked in with Optimus and emailed Constance that the scripts for checking on the reactor had worked. Another message was sent to Master Nitobe that he was in the middle of a company merger at his day job and moving into a new house. He would like to begin showing up to the morning classes after the 8th of April so he could be focused. Not knowing when he’d be free, Garrick sent Geist an email about meeting with him and next with Richard and Greg about expectations and goals for the team going forward.

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 9:35 AM

Finishing with the food he found a cooler and a plain white table cloth for the long dining table. He chuckled at the small eagle logo of Tecate Beer© on the side and smirked quietly quipping, “Be Bold!” Packing up everything he left knowing morning rush hour would be coming to a close right about now.

“Hey A.R.C.H.I.E., please make sure Cardinal knows where I am in case everything goes south, metaphorically speaking.”

“Sure thing boss, anything else?”

“Begin Recording: Buddy, we all fuck up at times for a number of different reasons. Watching us should tell you adults don’t always have the answers. Just know this one thing. If you don’t believe in yourself then believe in me – I believe in you to become what you want. Now go get it, and since I have not heard otherwise. Cardinal I would appreciate it if you could watch my six while I’m out. Archie can feed you my location from my comm unit. Gryphon out. End Recording.”

“Message sent just in case he asks you want him to watch from here, correct?”

“Yes please, A.R.C.H.I.E. thanks for your help.”

“Sure thing boss.”

He headed out before those that chose to stay or survived would return to help Beast deal with Dr. Wendell Moore. The person likely responsible for shattering the mind of the Beast whom appears to be strongly related to the Nightbane they met the previous evening. As he got in his truck and headed out. He got a text from the Geist about some of the items he asked about: [Once you get the funds from the new lease agreement I’ll send the routing numbers. The aircar will be parked on top of Jenga Tower on April 5th by noon. Shorty #4 should have a home in roughly 2-3 weeks after that. For now Shorty #5 will continue to live with you. He’s on probation at the moment. If he passes it then I will revisit the adoption. He’ll want to talk to you sometime today about a car you were offering to arrange for him.]

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 11:03 AM

Ramona tried one last time to see if she could catch Garrick lying about an honest, polyamory relationship. When she was on her way making a call through bluetooth, HUD glasses that was paired to her phone. She called Ameera, whom asked, “Are you wearing any red, purple, or blue?”

“Wait, what?”

“Well, my handsome man called and mentioned he was having lunch with you. Did he by chance tell you about our special relationship?”

“Yes, but is he really seeing you and two others?”

“Yes, we all look out for each other and if he has a fault. It’s that he’s a workaholic. I heard there was quite the kerfuffle at your church last night. Are you doing okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine it’s just seeing him rush through a room to save people from gun crossfire. It was almost like he was a superhero.”

“Oh yes, did I mention he saved me and four of my friends from the Nine Lives shooting incident? It’s how we met, and for the record, he is my hero.”

“Wow! I’m almost to the park, but why did you mention the colors I was wearing?”

“Because if your going to try and seduce my man he likes blue with gold accents, purple with silver accents, and dark red. Have fun Ramona!” [CLICK] There was a hint of a giggling laugh as she knew the look on Ramona’s face being left with that information.

Her phone showed her it was 11:03 AM when the got to the park. Going inside the walls she found him sitting and leaning back against a tree reading a book on Haiku, Zen and the Art of reaching Inner Peace. “You know Ameera thinks you’re a workaholic, but here you are. In a park on a sunny morning, reading eastern poetry, and getting ready for a picnic. If you’re not careful a passerby might confuse you for someone relaxing.” She began to laugh and then he looked at her and laughed with her as he stood up.

“Let me set those down for you,” helping Ramona sit while he put the drinks down. As he sits and then makes lunch on durable paper plates. Garrick hands her the sandwich, oatmeal bars with fruit he cut up. “Sadly, the relaxing is an illusion. I am here till noon when I have to get back for a meeting at 12:30.”

“So I guess I’m on the clock then? So, you met Ameera at the Nine Lives club saving her from a shoot out. I can say for certain you don’t need a gunman to try and make this lunch memorable!” Garrick laughed and said he’s just trying to make it to Monday so he can begin moving into the new home. They talked about how weird last night was and Garrick mentioned he hadn’t really slept yet. “You look better rested than I do! Oh can you tell me what gym you go to?”

“Sure, uhh,” Ramona could see she caught him on a topic he was not prepared for. He looked at her, “Phantom Crossfit and Self-Defense. Although I am waiting to find out where he’s going to host classes next because he lost his permit for the current park he’s been using.”

“That’s cool, can you place an order for the same supplements you get so I can grow to way over six feet tall? Oh don’t forget the ones that let you shrink back down when you want.”

“Well, shit.” Ramona actually batted her eyes at him as he asked her, “Did I ever tell you my given middle name?”

A quizzical look came over her smug expression of victory. Garrick reached into his wallet and pulled out his driver’s license, “Please don’t say it out loud. Just read it, pretty please with sugar and honey.”

Name: Garrick Griffon Faulkner

“You used your middle name? Was there a time limit to come up with an identity?” She handed it back noting it still said 5′ 8″ for his height on there with a picture she was far more used to seeing. She was astonished she had not realized it sooner and she began to laugh.

When she made eye contact she finally saw the tiredness in him and she remembered the headline from the paper the day before about Jake Thompson, hero of Century Station. The news story referred to an event on Tuesday night. Corroborating online articles reference two large explosions in the upper atmosphere that match the time frame! Then Wednesday morning mere hours later there was the robot attack. It was said Gryphon saved his team, nearby buildings and civilians by flying a robot up into the before it self destructed! She followed all the Hero Watch Twitter accounts for the sub-districts in case the Gryphon made news.

“Does Ameera and the others know?”

“Yes, she was out with one of the others and they have had the delightful shock of watching me blow up. Ramona, being near me comes with some serious baggage. I just asked them their opinion of going public with my identity. I want you to think about that if you still want to be friends with me.”

He sighed, “I nearly died, in the church we did find a cult. I did get all the easy to identify innocents out. During that night though, I had to fight through the fear of being in that situation again. No one got hurt because of it but now I was elected to lead my team. I missed spending time with Ameera this week, no one gets scheduled time with me next week on account of the move. I am worried about being a bad boyfriend. However, I’ve had no time to deal or process watching a hero die to stop an alien invasion, nearly being blown to bits, and dealing with two other members of my team I had come to depend on leaving. I want to scream but I don’t get that luxury anymore as leader.”

His tone had never risen and he took her hands, “Ramona, that was all within the last seven days. So I guess I am trying to make you aware of what it means to be just friends with me, god forbid the inherent dangers that would come with anything else. All I want is for this week to just end. I love having friends, I love what my life is becoming, but this week officially blows.” Letting go of her hands he goes back to eating thrilled to finally get it off his chest to someone. The relief can be seen on his face as tension eases upon his brow.


Come watch the next game at: HippoTV!
Art either created or photo manipulated by: AZ_Artisan


It Should Have Killed Him

It Should Have Killed Him

March 27th, 2024 – Wednesday: After 3 AM, somewhere above Brisby Flats

Zeau was flying back to S.A.V.I.O.R.’s secret base in the Zericho sub-district. Gryphon had his faculties return after the blast, “Umm, is everyone okay?”

“Yes, had you not performed so well, the death toll would be much higher and several team members would be dead,” Zeau replied very even toned. He continued on, “Look, we need to make sure your brain is saved. I can’t stomach everyone if the collective intellect isn’t going to get much better.” Yep, Zeau seemed to have come through unscathed.

Gryphon felt his phone going crazy and he pulled it out since he didn’t have to worry about flying for himself. He saw the tweet of the explosion and signed in from his account @GryphonKnight and hit like, then retweet with comment: Owww. That hurt, but by the grace of the Shining Legion I’m healing. Apparently this tweet was retweeted by Chimera and saved members of Valkyries and Dynosaurs from facing one of these robots self-destructing. A member of the Iron Brigade was not so lucky and is in the ICU with is power armor completely annihilated! There was TV interviews with Tecate Beer’s spokespeople: Victor Valenzuela and his faithful friend Hank, the mutant horse! Gryphon recognized Hank, and wondered if Victor was the Rubber-Man he saw helping? Then his phone began blowing up as video from someone with the visual perspective of a shop behind him when he grabbed the robot went viral.

“…This is what we signed up for!” then he flies up wrenching the robot along for the ride. From above out of frame you can hear the KABOOM! The glow from the explosion fills the area as all the windows explode and the video ends. In his head, Gryphon suddenly heard Ashmadiel say quietly, with pride, “What you did was very brave Garrick Faulkner.” Internally, he replied, “This is what I promised I would do.” In his mind he could see Ashmadiel nodding with warm approval and admiration.

The video from the shop continues but pictures of all the heroes present begin making the rounds! The Tecate Twosome had their interviews and then began posing for photos as various spots where the battle happened. Occasionally, you could hear MC Hammer playing in the background from somewhere. Soon there was video of portions of the fight, from multiple angles! Many people were talking about how S.A.V.I.O.R. had been the last team to engage but the first to finish off their group of five.

He put his phone away as Zeau tells Cavalry over comm untis that they are coming in the jet entrance since he’s flying. The hidden doors opens and Zeau whisks inside and slows back down. Zeau helped him to the medical bay and handed him a classic gown to put on. When he was done and in the bed he brought him a blanket from a cabinet. A.R.C.H.I.E., the base artificial intelligence, explained he would monitor him and then update people as needed. Gryphon made him promise to wake him up by 8 AM so he could go to work.

After some time resting he awoke to a rain of kisses, opening his eyes to his blue haired beauty, Miss Amazing. “Oh my god your alive! Thank the maker!”

Coughing as Gryphon was still very sore, “Thank Ashmadiel, my guardian angel.” He patted the piece of armor on his right forearm. Katherine noticed he had a few EKG stickers on him that were blinking but nothing was penetrating his skin nor wired to anything else. A.R.C.H.I.E. informed her he has been healing rather actively, and she saw the panel that showed the readout of the sensor stickers. Katherine explained her panic when Geist and she saw the video with Arcadia. The aforementioned Atorian ex-empress was sitting in the community center with a nurse waiting for Katherine to see to her favored concubine. When Gryphon laughed his ribs hurt. The Geist stopped in at this point and remarked how brave Gryphon had acted. Gryphon replied, “Given everything tonight has brought, can you ask the next catastrophe to wait a few days?” The Geist laughed and said he’d see what he could do.

The Geist and Miss Amazing left as Gryphon laid his head back down and shut his eyes. A.R.C.H.I.E. had been making calculations based on data from visual inspection from the cameras. Mentioning that the blast should have killed him, Black Phantom, Covenant, Hank, the mutant Horse-Man and Tecate spokesperson. Then it would have leveled every building nearby killing anyone inside. It took Geist another five solid minutes to convince Miss Amazing to let Gryphon rest and go back with him and Arcadia.

March 27th, 2024 – Wednesday: After 8 AM

Shorty #5 was still at the base and had taken the day off. He was the first person Gryphon saw when he woke up from A.R.C.H.I.E.’s gentle prodding to get up. “Hey buddy, great to see you,” Gryphon said.

“Umm, yeah with Jake gone. I’m going to have to go back to high school. Oh an this suit will need updates and repairs. Please don’t leave me as well,” Shorty #5’s plea made Gryphon sit up.

“Aww, Buddy, I can call the school, I am going to let them know your grandfather died. Take the week off and let the others know. You all need sometime.”

Shorty wondered if Gryphon noticed he’d been lying about going to high school, “We had all been getting home schooled at Jake’s house. #1 still lives with Ethel, but can the other one come back for a bit?”

“Of course he can. I’ll talk to Geist about finding him a home. Then I’ll talk to him about training you if that’s what you still want?”

“Umm, yeah I want that. If Geist wants me to stay with him to train me then the other one can have my room?”

Gryphon nodded, “That’s certainly an option to look into. Great idea buddy!”

Gryphon reminded him to start packing for moving day on the 1st of April to Jenga Tower. Shorty #5 nodded and said he would be ready. Gryphon asked A.R.C.H.I.E. to show Shorty any games with educational undertones needed for hero work. Gryphon got dressed and took his truck to CF Robotics. He walked in the front door and asked for Amanda Surges since today was his first day as CEO.

Gryphon met with Amanda Surges and explained to her what happened with Jake and the new ownership of C.F. Robotics. Explaining that he is working on going public with his identity since he is a member of S.A.V.O.I.R, the group Jake consulted for. That CF Robotics was named for his father. He’s going to change it to just Faulkner Robotics. The company will be merging with Mallic Robotics under the corporation of Mallic-Faulkner Technologies.

Garrick the dreamer began to talk shop (still transformed as the Gryphon’s body), “Want build a laser to shoot an Atorian space cruiser? Do it and let Jim [Reader’s note: Jim is “Starbuck’s Guy”] make that government contract happen. Humanitarian project: figure out security measures for real world and online situations that publicly known Heroes can use to safeguard them and their families. Use the laser to cover the cost of the security developments and we solve Mayor Zardona’s issue with Mavericks coming forward. Use me as the test case.”

Garrick continued, “Want to build a futuristic, robotic A.I. house for the snobs on the Hill? Fine, but figure out a way to make a smaller, affordable, version for low income families that’s modular. Then we can help the disenfranchised of the city become home owners once more.”

“Want to make a rugged combat Android? Fine, just make a medic version and send them to tech heavy towns to help fire, EMS, and police save lives or team members in situations that would kill a human.”

Amanda was initially pretty visually upset when this information was presented to her. She didn’t act out but didn’t really hide it either. Curiously, Gryphon’s usual charm had zero effect on her – if anything, it made things worse. Gryphon noticed all this but continued along, choosing not to address it. In short order she seemed to arrive at some conclusions, muttering things like “Oh, I see,” “It’s like that then,” and “I’ll show them.”

Her attitude flipped after that internal dialogue and she soon appeared very happy to move forward under Garrick/Gryphon’s direction. He asked her to have plans ready for three projects by next Monday. She can pick two humanitarian projects but one of the three had to be the hero security option. Seeing that it was almost 9:40 AM. He mentioned he had to head over to Mallic Robotics to discuss the merger with them. He gave her his card so she could reach him as needed. He left her with what he thought would be a good corporate motto: “Our success will be measured not just in control of markets of technology, but equally in what we give back to the communities we reside in.”

Arriving at 10:10 AM he parked where all the employees parked and came in the front door. Checking his phone, an email had gone out saying Garrick would be out today. He chuckled at the receptionist upon entering and said, “It’d take at least two robots to keep me down.” Dressed in a Mallic polo he kept in his truck for moments like this, tan jeans, black work boots. He headed upstairs to see Brandon and Constance.

To say they were surprised to see him was an understatement. Novia said she hold any calls as Garrick, in his Gryphon transformed body, walked in and gently shut the door. He tried to start with good news, “Hey, I saved the Hideyoshi Motors account! In shitty news from last night Jake Thompson, the Hero of Century Station, died stopping an alien invasion. Once that happened I became the CEO of CF Robotics! As the CEO I would like to propose a merger and create Mallic-Faulkner Technologies! Geez, I thought this would be better received news! You both look either mad or shocked, someone say something you’re both freaking me out. Constance, did you hit your head?”

Constance did have a small bandage on her head. Brandon explained that since Constance and Ameera both live in Xenophan. After Ameera called her regarding Gary’s teammate, they both met up to hit a bar that would be open late because neither of them could sleep. Luckily, their bar was not one of the ones that had been attacked, but as they were leaving the area. They saw saw Gary as Gryphon fly up with the robot and EXPLODE! Constance tried to keep walking when it happened and hit her head on a lamp post and fell down. Ameera called Brandon since Constance drove and has been with them ever since.

“I.. I don’t know what to say, I..” Garrick looked really lost for words as Constance, still saying nothing, came over and hugged him so hard and wouldn’t let go.

“This is why I didn’t want you to date her!”

“Shut it Brandon, he’s alive,” angrily murmured Constance.

“Aside from my anger about that, thank you for your service.” Brandon walked over and hugged them both. Garrick could not believe someone said that to him! He became acutely aware of the fact he may have saved Constance and Ameera’s lives last night unknowingly. Since he was at the center of the blast he really didn’t know how big it was. He shook his head and told them both, “I need you both to let go and let me breath.” As they did a look of concern crossed their faces when he continued, “Garrick in my normal body would have died. In this body of the Gryphon, I barely survived and I can’t change back for another 14 to 16 hours based on how I feel. If I do change back to soon, then all the damage this body can take gets shoved onto my normal body. I would still die right now. In this body I can actively heal just doing nothing, nor do I need rest of any kind. Despite that I still feel very sore in certain parts.”

Garrick pulls his shirt up and they can see the burns that are still healing. Tucking his shirt back in, “I have so many things to work on but if you want to thank me then help me merge CF Robotics, now called Faulkner Robotics with Mallic Robotics under a parent company called Mallic-Faulkner Technologies. Brandon I need you to become CEO and Chairman of the Board for M.F.T. Constance will become President of Mallic Robotics and you can train Pavek the Romainian kid to do sales in your place. I will change my title to President of Faulkner Robotics and then no one at either company is put out of work! What do you say?”

“I’m in, you could have totally screwed us, made us work for you, but you saved everything. Thank you, Garrick, don’t get used to it. Anything else?”

“I’m working out how to go public with my identity to honor Jake and what he did for me, but there are a lot more people involved in that conversation. Both of you among them, however, that can wait till after I move into the new home. I am requesting vacation time, barring emergencies, until after the move from here.”

“Consider it done,” Constance said and added, “I’ll let your old team know they are being absorbed into my team.”

“Thanks, Honey.”

Brandon made a gagging gesture as Constance smiled and everyone laughed.

The Scientist And The Swordsman

The Scientist And The Swordsman

March 24th, 2024 – Sunday

Jake had mentioned needing three days in our world to prep a way to stop the Atorians in the dimension Gryphon called Earth Three. Everyone came home in the first few hours of the 24th of March, 2024. Jake tapped Gryphon on the arm and said he wanted to talk on Monday when his work had a window. Gryphon nodded, saying he’d be available, he bid Granny2Good thank you for the lovely dinner. He then said his goodbye’s to all present, asked Katherine for her hand, transforming back to Garrick. Both of them heading for his truck to proceed home.

Katherine was quiet watching him drive on the way back to their home. He sat in the truck after their arrival and just whispered, “Dad, how would you make this right? I’m stumped!” He never even noticed Katherine go and come back with a mug of coffee that had the Transformer’s Autobot symbol on it. Shorty #5 knew something was up when Katherine asked him to find Garrick’s favorite coffee cup. He got the quick rundown about the other, slightly ahead, dimension that revealed something really screwing with Garrick’s psyche right now.

What had bothered Katherine the most was seeing the Gryphon taken down when he heard Mallic Robotics had gone under. She was worried for him and putting her concern about Patsy still being in this dimension on hold. When he finally laid down to sleep she could sense Ashmadiel whispering soothing things inside his head. The sword kept telling him to rely on his friends for aid and support. That they were partners and that means not letting the other down when things get rough.

When he woke up it was almost noon! He heard Constance say, “Katherine, he’s opening his eyes, let Ameera know she’s getting a new pot ready.” “On it,” Garrick heard Katherine reply.

Realizing he was half dressed, Garrick understood how awkward Patsy must have felt when she found out she’d been saved again. It was only a few seconds and he was FULLY awake! The woman he was worried most about leaned into view, “Honey, I love you, and Katherine gave me the rundown about you both going to another dimension! Tell me about what happened to us there after you eat something.” Garrick sits up to food and tea from Ameera. Katherine and Ameera sit and listen to his recounting of Miss Amazing’s and the Gryphon’s trip! Including the rundown of what 6 months in the future does to Mallic Robotics at news from that Geist of Earth Three. Garrick is careful to use “Hero identities” for Ameera and Constance’s benefit. Constance is troubled by the news regarding Earth Three’s Blake Masters. She kisses Garrick on the cheek as Ameera explains she told the Norwood Knights that today was dealing with personal issues.

Brandon arrived about 30 minutes after Constance calls him. Garrick gives him the thumb drive saying he knows these files are named identically to the naming conventions we use in this dimension. Brandon thanks him and said Constance made him a small script to check the names for matches and then to verify if anything had been copied to an external drive. Brandon thanks him for looking out for the company, him, and his sister. When he thinks everyone is busy he leans in, “Buddy, I don’t know what super powers you have but, Wow! oooOOOWWWWW!”

Constance is small next to her brother and hasn’t yanked his ear in a long time, “Brandon, don’t you have a company to save from corporate espionage thanks to Garrick? Besides the fact that the people with the information were trying to prevent another Alpha Prime moment. They also have a follow up meeting with him on Monday, so he’ll be off that day to make sure he doesn’t miss it. Oh, and brother, dear, you might want to take notes to avoid a third ex-Mrs. Mallic,” Brandon nodded as Constance let go of his ear, “Okay, oww. Well, provided Pavek had no part in this someone else is getting a promotion.” Brandon headed off to his office to run the scripts and verify whom was and was not involved.

Once things settle down Constance takes Ameera home and tells Garrick she’ll see him at 10 PM. Katherine sees him behaving more upbeat and asks him how he’s feeling. “Well, about average, Ashmadiel has been great about about reminding me I’m not alone anymore. All of you have been great about making sure there was a way through the fire I saw my life turning into once again. You were able to brace others for news that would wreck some people. Constance, is the best crisis manager I have ever known. Ameera has this soothing aura around her wherever she goes and I think Ethel and her must know the same stuff about teas. I forgot to thank you this morning for bringing me coffee, and being sweet enough to do so in a Autobot mug.” Katherine made a mental note Shorty #5 got one free pass in the future for something dumb because of his help.

When Garrick asked her what she wanted to do she paused and asked if he wanted to watch the Wonder Woman movie? Then she’d watch Transformers with him, he could even invite Shorty for the Transformer stuff. She watched him perk up and run down stair to tell Shorty #5. She smiles because it was the first night they really hung out like a family. Garrick even showed Shorty #5 how to toss pizza dough, make a mess, and do it two more times till they got it right. At 9:30 PM Garrick watched him go back down stairs with the last two slices and hit the next raid online. She finally understood his obsession with the Optimus Prime voice even if it was still weird. After he left she sent a text to Geist that Gryphon seemed better having rested. She sent another text to Constance he was on his way and just let her know he got there in one piece. She looked up about 20 minutes later to see the confirmation from Constance.

Constance, met him at the door in a long silk robe. She had him change into one and told him tonight they were going to relax and he was going to get rewarded for saving all her hard work from being used against them. Then she grabbed his chin, “So help me if I wake up alone tomorrow…” never finishing the sentence but kissing him.

March 25th, 2024 – Monday

Brandon fires Blake Masters first thing Monday morning after finding evidence that he transferred files from their system to an external device. Blake’s firing is loud and the police are brought in to escort him off the premises. Brandon opts to not press charges though, he creates a little power point presentation about corporate espionage and sends it out to the company. Everyone is required to click the link at the end acknowledging watching it. Constance and Garrick know that he had been planning on doing that until Garrick got back with the bombshell from his meeting with Jake.

When the Scientist and the Swordsman met at lunch time. Jake looked like what Garrick used to on the film sets. However, there was one noted missing aroma, the stench of various alcohols! The smell of coffee came from the flask this when Jake would partake. Jake explain the initials were a deliberate attempt to make Garrick think of his dad. While Jake didn’t know him he did admire how much he pushed science and therefore the collective intelligence of the human race. Garrick had become distracted from that goal by events in his life and he was here to offer him a top position next to Amanda Surges and Starbucks Guy!

He produced a document about excepting the position and Garrick mentioned he had not expected this direction! Jake had one goal, to get Garrick back to working on science and pushing the boundaries once more. Garrick was excited but loyal to the people who gave him his second chance when he needed it most. He hand wrote the addendum on the back of Jake’s copy and his. Jake and he both signed each one, stating Garrick would turn in his two weeks when there was an offer to buyout Mallic on the table. Later, Garrick made sure that part of the video had a copy off line stashed where he kept various other recordings. Jake explained using the Starbucks Guy to make sales they had managed to snag Mallic’s largest account. He was hoping this could be leverage that might make them amenable to the buyout. Garrick mentioned that by absorbing Mallic they could get the already up and running factory which would expand at the start of next month when he moved out. Jake told him when he came on board he could change the name to what he wanted.

  • Amanda would be the VP of Operations
  • Starbucks Guy would become VP of Sales
    • Brandon would work under him as a Director of Sales.
  • Jake mentioned wanting to replace the current H.R. employee because of outbursts. They both laughed but Constance could either work with Garrick or fill that role.
  • Garrick would be Director of Innovation and R&D.
    • In the event of Jake’s passing the title of CEO would pass to Garrick.

Garrick signed both contract copies and that point and so did Jake.

Constance listened to his proposal and watched him get passionate about how this merger could help in the long run, Mallic/Faulkner Robotics. When she brought up Garrick just went from wanting to divorce himself from Mallic to wanting to be a partner. He mentioned he was trying to make sure in the longterm survivability of the company and still help as the hero: Gryphon. Constance watched Garrick get passionate about trying to convince her – did he really not realize how seductive he was being?  She tried to distance herself from that by playfully chiding him about it, asking if now was really the best time for that? She’s deep in thought about what this means for them and how this could work. Mallic is still working to expand into the full building before the move begins on the 1st. She’d have to talk with her brother of course, but this has potential and she can see it working out.

In the afternoon on Monday, Constance finds out that Hideyoshi Motors decided to go with “Mallic’s cheaper competitor. It’s nothing personal.” Manufacturing Hideyoshi’s robotic parts was a large percentage of the manufacturing Mallic performed, and while losing it wouldn’t drive them out of business it would be a loss that is felt. Of course, this comes as no big surprise based on everything Garrick learned recently. Constance notes as she heads off to discuss the proposal with Brandon that they would not loose anything if they went with Garrick’s offer. When she mentioned this conversation might take time. Garrick said he needed to talk with precinct captain in Norwood as Gryphon about his 24-hr crime fighting marathon on the end of the month. They decided to make it up to each other tomorrow with lunch together before heading their separate ways.

Constance’s Day: 17-18th of March, 2024

Constance’s Day: 17-18th of March, 2024

March 17th, 2024 – Sunday 7 PM

Constance did not like feeling nervous and the house cleaning had just left with a big tip. Her Amazon Music playlist had been cycling through Call of the Deep songs. From when Glen Lee Danzeg and later his son Andy Lee took over the band. She had begun mixing in German Folk Metal bands in and classical pieces. Two years back the security had been upgraded by Brandon to record sound. Sam Strom had not realized Constance did not know when she asked him how he knew what ‘Gary’s’ music preferences were. She told Sam she’d never bring it up if he could feed her little tidbits of his music preferences. That was 6 months ago.

Constance found out something very quickly about Garrick and how he listened to music. When he had a task he would pick a song he felt inspired his work and then looped it for hours on end! She was certain this was how he pulled off 16-18 hour days in California. She’d also been making sure to Skype Ameera and Katherine so they heard about this. Katherine thought it was a weird quirk, but Ameera mentioned it was a modernized form of mantra meditation. Garrick likely did not know he’d found a way to meditate while working.

Katherine thanked Constance and Ameera for explaining what she had seen as odd or weird. That however reinforced Ameera’s thought that Garrick relaxes while he does activities. As long as he finds a song to meditate with. Constance instantly understood why he loved Call of the Deep! There were underlying beats that must resonate with him on an unconscious level. When she told Ameera she could kiss her for that insight. Ameera mentioned that they could do way more because they had all agreed to be in a relationship, approval was only required when adding someone new. Katherine nodded and said she surprised Garrick with a wild orgy night after the Papa Zombie take down. Constance had not really considered dating Ameera or Katherine, but thanked them for the clarification. Katherine mentioned she would obviously be welcomed when the next one happened. Currently, though, they were impromptu affairs and not scheduled. Constance made a crack about him not fatiguing anymore, and got a wink from the other two.

It was at this point Constance asked how old Katherine was because her friends for that kind of party were likely barely legal. Kat said, “Yeah, okay there were experiments that gave me powers and made me younger physically. The reality is that I could be all of your mothers. I am not telling you my exact age though, even Garrick doesn’t know. Well, if he does know he’s never brought it up. The single time it got brought up in mix company by someone else he said it was impolite to ask a lady her age.”

“The friends she brought over were all in their 20’s. I should know, I drove the car we all took. Good old Cuthbert Faulkner though – ‘My Dad always said it is impolite to ask a woman’s age’ am I right,” Ameera said. Everyone laughed at the dad reference and her imitation of Garrick’s voice.

All the ladies started to realize Garrick ALMOST NEVER discussed them to each other. The only other thing they all realized is Cuthbert Faulkner was a charmer whom knew what he was doing but Garrick always quoted, “This is how a gentleman should comport themselves. All you’re bringing to my attention is that my parents raised me right.” They all laughed because it was last shred of the Victoria Beach kid they could see in him. Ameera mentioned seeing a girl in the sword class getting smitten at the mere sight of him. Constance then told about them about a smattering of women and men that tried to date Garrick in California before he had super powers. It was that call they had last Friday morning (15th of March) that made her realize how much more about him she knew. She began pouring through old photos of the movie teams to see what he was wearing. Sam kept his word up about feeding her what he listened to and how long at a stretch.

During the company’s inter-departmental meeting on that same Friday. Garrick mentioned he had switched the focus of the A.I. composition from application building blocks to distributive hive mind. Hana Akaikawa’s self-assembling bot project began to soar in applications. One of the members on Constance’s team mentioned finally getting an elbow joint to direct the servo assembly arm holding it to the forearm piece on its own! Some sort of feedback in the connections caused it to fall apart shortly thereafter but it was quite a breakthrough! If it had mini thrusters that could be done in the field for real plug an play! Pedro Escobar and his sensor suite began to make use of miniature Raspberry Pi to perform distributed computing tasks in conjunction with the distributed A.I. H.P.U. (Hive Processing Units). Mia Schmidt asked him openly at the meeting in front of everyone, “Boss, why are doing super hero stuff? What you did here with networking and multi-processing theory is so far beyond what we know and are used to, it would take the industry decades to replicate and understand!”

Constance leaned forward along with many others, “Look, it’s no secret I did some really dumb stuff years ago when Daedalus went belly up. I don’t feel anyone would trust me to re-write the book on how A.I.’s think, or how to leverage CPU’s of differing physical and manufacturing architectures to perform the same way a RAID hard drive setup might function. However, Mia, once you have a firm grasp on Hive A.I. computing revisit your application building blocks as Hive enhancements. You see, everyone, I don’t just plan any of my projects with my goals in mind. I also plan them based on how my father would do it. He always said you can achieve every dream if you help everyone around you achieve their dreams. So I tried to find a way for you to study compositional networking not as blocks but as facets of a hived personality. Then add the applications as personality enhancements. When the baseline personality algorithms are gathered you will even be able to detect software flaws because the algorithms will detect enhancements that make an aberrant personality.”

Stunned along with everyone else, Constance had the epiphany that unless Garrick was following some hidden ‘play book’ he seemed to genuinely feel he didn’t deserve accolades. It wasn’t pity, he appears to have never forgiven himself. The room was silent in shock for several seconds by his explanation. Had he really been helping everyone achieve their goals because he had some kind of master plan that helped him achieve something he wanted? Brandon and Constance shared a look of ‘Yup’ when they realized everything he had agreed to help and work on, regardless of department, had been helping to further his back burning fusion project. All the while he tried to lift his co-workers up so they grew and felt appreciated!

Garrick pointed at Pavek, the young Romanian guy in marketing, “Pavek has caught on to what I am saying because he’s helped Blake with two projects that gave him the practice to skills to complete his own recent ad campaign pitch for Hana’s self-assembling bot. I for one love his teamwork ethic and see both Blake and Pavek as valuable resources for marketing. Bright futures ahead for both of them!” Pavek and Blake looked at each other in shock for different reasons! Pavek had thought Gary didn’t like him, but here he just praised him on multiple levels with examples. Blake had updated his resume this morning and here Gary, whom did superhero work as a ‘effing side job, was mentioning in a company meeting his worth and looking forward to seeing what he’d do next! How would he live up to this sort of pressure? Constance made sure she made eye contact with Blake as though to say without words, ‘Don’t waste the second chance.’

Garrick pulled out a tablet and proceeded to run down a short list of people who had been with the company since its earliest days. Then he turned it around and looked at Brandon, “However, if you had not seen something in each of these people and given them the chance to change and become part of something bigger none of us would be here.” Garrick’s name was on that list. He silently put it away and the meeting ended. After the meeting he asked Constance if she’d reach out to Horace and let him know he was sorry still, he’d stopped responding to his emails and nothing had come through saying he’d left the company.

Back in house she snapped out of her memories and saw the time was 8:05PM and he had said he could be early at 9PM today. Constance had gone shopping during the week after getting ingredients for dinner he’d asked her to get. She had new lingerie in his favorite shade of dark blue and gold lace. With a bonus set of dark purple with silver and black lace. She told him to dress casual as he might around his house because she’d not planned on dressing up tonight. She had wanted to see what he called comfortable. She’d found a black shirt with a silver fire stenciled design around the bottom with ripped, faded black jeans. She had a lot of questions she needed answered tonight for her own edification if she was going to see this going somewhere. When he texted her about how casual this night was to be she sent him a pic of her from the waist up, though only showing half of her.

She smiled at his reply, “OMG! My fingers are on fire from how hot you made my phone! But, where did you find a shirt with similar flame patterns as Optimus Prime’s paint job? Just wow! #NerdGoalsAchieved” Going through those old pictures was worth every minute she spent on them. It was the one thing she had on both Katherine and Ameera. Time. She was the one person that could prove Gryphon was as noble as he appeared because of Garrick and how he lived his life now. She spent the next 10 minutes debating the color of lipstick before laughing that Garrick would’ve commented about her working to hard at relaxing. She decided no makeup and sat and waited for the clock to tick down.

The last three times she had him over he went to work the following day each time as expected. She decided to fix that this time and had him listed as Paid Time Off. She also left word for her secretary to reschedule the two phone calls if Brandon couldn’t fit them in his day. When she had responded to her last email it was 8:45 PM. She checked herself over at least two more times to make sure the dark blue undergarments were hidden just enough to tease when she’d stretch. 8:53 PM her door bell rang and she felt her heart skip a beat!

She looked at the security monitor and wondered how he’d gotten more cut physically? He had a new messenger bag designed for maybe two 17″ screen laptops given its thick, metal plated nature. It was clearly custom made to remind someone that Optimus Prime might transform into a messenger bag. His sleeveless, racing, tank top had the words “Sleeves Are Bullshit” printed across the chest. He was holding a small wooden box though with Wax seals stamped on decorative red ribbons adorning it. That was curious and out of place. When she opened the door his jaw dropped and he almost looked like someone with nerve damage in his hands as they shook slightly holding the box. She could see some Japanese Kanji characters (先 居酒屋) on it but this was not a language she spoke or read without an app on her phone translating pictures of text via Google Translate. “Garrick are you okay? Dear why are you shaking?”

“Umm, I’ve never seen you dressed like that before, umm you look, wow! You’re hot! I almost dropped this and I was trying to catch it without crushing it.”

She motioned for him to come in and asked what was in the box? His reply made her jaw drop! Because it was 4 weeks or roughly a month he wanted to celebrate their month anniversary. It was also March and he reminded her they’d passed the ‘Ides of March’ which was the day they met for the first time in 2020. So he had called the Saki Bar where they shared their first dance together. The bottle of saki in the box was the last bottle of the private reserve Brandon had paid for from that night. He had them pack it in a special material and ship it here.

None of them, not a single boyfriend she ever had was this thoughtful with such a gift! She took the box out of his hands and set it on the counter only to turn back and kiss him and they embraced for some time. When she let go there were a few small tears. Garrick apologized he made her cry and she playfully smacked his chest calling him a big dummy. When she open the lid she saw the special packing material was a multi-colored assortment of Chrysanthemum petals! Her favorite flower! Then it clicked why he had her get the ingredients! He was about to recreate the dinner they had at the Saki Bar!

It took him a bit of time to get that done but by the time he was done it was roughly the same number of hours before they began dancing! Everything had been done to try and honor and remember their first dance! His phone began to play the same music that played that night over her bluetooth speakers. She would never let go of Garrick before, but now she almost didn’t care about the answers to her questions. Till the end of time she would be his no matter how that had to happen! As much as anyone could claim another person’s heart.

“Garrick, I think I love you and in the morning I will have to ask you some questions about us.”

Garrick nodded back, “Constance, now that I understand it better, I’ve only ever felt being “in love” or “heavy infatuation” for three people in my whole life. You would be the first chronologically of those three.”

“The other two aren’t hard to guess.”

Garrick tilted his head, “Until your statement I only had confirmation of one of them loving me back, the other one left and asked me not to pry. So I haven’t. I send a text once each holiday but never any replies. It is what it is.”

When they were alone he almost never uses another lady’s name. Constance was indeed surprised that Ameera didn’t appear on that list because she seemed very happy with Garrick. Sam mentioned an Arabic girl awhile back and has not brought her up again. Perhaps this is the mystery woman? She decided to focus on something else he said, “So you’re either “in love” or “heavily infatuated” with me but you can only legally marry one of us. Which one is it?”

“The one willing to sign the prenuptial agreement allowing both parties to pursue extra marital relationships as long as they are discussed and agreed upon by all involved parties. However, while I have my hopes, I am keeping an open mind and will wait at least until March of 2025 before entertaining any offers of marriage.”

“So no matter what you’ve no plans to cast any of us away should you find a partner for legal status?”

“Correct, my love for each of you is different but special to me, and I will forgo marriage to anyone if it jeopardizes any of you still with me at that time.”

“Garrick, I love you, my questions are actually answered.”

“I love you to Constance, thank you for accepting me as I am.”

The night ended in the perfect blend of metal, rock n’ roll, and love. Nerds basking in the soft red LED lights she’d programmed to come on with a remote to help set the mood that night. Call of the Deep playing in the background covering the sounds of bliss as the rest of the night fades to black.

March 18th, 2024 – Monday 6:30 AM

“Sweetheart, am I going to have to get you a leash? Just once I’d like to wake up with you.”

“Sorry,” Garrick replied in the middle of handstand pushups. There were two broken exercise bands next to his Optimus Prime messenger bag. He went back to counting repetitions, Constance grabbed his phone noticing it was unlocked at the moment. He looked up when the music stopped and Constance hit her remote starting the playlist she’d been working on.


“Nope, you finish your workout before you get your phone back. By the way I had you listed as a vacation day at work. You can thank me later, for the paid time off. You still have nine and a half weeks banked up after today!”

She bounded out of the room as Garrick went down the checklist of bodyweight exercises in cardio and isometric conditioning. It was 7:55 AM as Constance came back and set his phone down. With a sense of complete accomplishment she mentioned, “I have just completed my one month anniversary gift to you. Feel free to look at it when you have time, I also made sure it was uploaded to one of your secure storage locations.” She crawled up over the couch side to him in the purple lingerie with black and silver lace. “How do you feel about your vacation day? What do you want to do?” She sat in his lap and caress the side of his face.

It was 10:10 AM when the Garrick finish his second “cardio endurance” routine with Constance. “So, you wanna workout some more? ::cough:: Whew, that was fun,” she asked panting and giggling.

“If you want a trophy you’re the only woman that consistently out thinks me and I did not realize how much of a turn on that is for me. However, if I have the day off. I would hazard you took the day off as well?”

“I have, you ARE planning something in there, I’m excited.”

“Well, its been nearly 20 years for me but I’d love to see Disney World again. Their Animal Kingdom theme park in Kissimmee is only 130-140 miles away, so either a 2 hour car trip or 30 minutes on the Gryphon Express!”

“I LOVE IT! But car, definitely! I might want souvenirs that would get wrecked at over 150 mph and me trying to hold on to them. Let’s shower and go!”

March 18th, 2024 – Monday 8:30 PM

Garrick marveled at how wonderful the day had been with Constance. It was the only time she let him take selfie pictures with her. She surprised him when they got there with a multi-park VIP tour! He thought she was checking things or work on her phone, but she had been chatting with their sales team and paid for them to see the Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Blizzard Beach, and the Animal Kingdom. He chuckled to himself that he never made it to the Animal Kingdom once again. Garrick had a small victory at Blizzard Beach when he was able to get them bathing suits before it had hit Constance that they would need them. They were Micky and Minnie faces embroidered on them and they were both yellow, but hey totally worth it. Constance was so warm and affectionate as the day wore on and he stunned her twice that day.

First, when they made it to EPCOT and park worlds of tomorrow he was able to communicate with EVERYONE in their native language! He took so many pictures for families. Even their tour guide was astounded with him commenting to Constance more than once how incredible his language skills were. Second, was the reason they never made it to the Animal Kingdom. Garrick had actually noticed two security personnel speaking with a Puerto Rican family outside the water park. Constance and the tour guide noticed he had stopped and was listening. When he began to walk over he started speaking in Spanish with the correct accent and subtle dialect changes to almost appear native.

Garrick in Spanish: “I’m sorry to hear about someone stealing your purse I am sure security will catch him.”

Crying mother: “My kids and I lost our tickets and we were headed to the Animal Kingdom. Their parking was full and the attendant said EPCOT had parking. So I thought we could take a shuttle back then this happened. All of my stuff, phone, wallet, its all gone!”

Garrick in Spanish: “I can help if you’d like?”

Crying mother: “How? Are you some kind of superhero? You going to fly and catch the guy?”

Constance, whom knows Spanish like her brother, looked worried he may reveal his hero identity at this point and their guide had walked over to speak with the security.

Garrick in Spanish: “Well, you don’t have to be super powered to be kind.” Walking over taking off his lanyard with the gold access pass badge on it. He kissed Constance and removed hers and said, “this is why you love me.” Going back over he got the two security and his tour guide’s attention.

Garrick in English: “We still have up to 90 minutes on our tour correct?”

Tour Guide: “Yes. Indeed you do.”

Garrick in English: “If I give these passes to those two kids, do you think the park would be willing to let their mom come along for the ride and they can have the last leg of our tour as VIPs?”

Tour Guide: “One sec.,” he taps an earbud in his ear and then waits about 15 seconds, “Yes, absolutely, we would love to see the magic of your generosity and I’ve been granted extra permission to be their guide for the remainder of the day. The park would like to offer you…”

Garrick in English: “No, whatever you’re going to offer to me just give to them.” He gestures to the family, “My girlfriend and I did it to be nice to folks in need, not for a reward. If someone can just take us to our truck? We can leave knowing how magical Mickey’s Kingdom really is.”

The tour guide and security were taken back as he knelt down and put the gold badged lanyards around the kids necks. Constance walked up to Garrick and was blindsided by a huge hug from their mother thanking them both. The kids began jumping up and down thanking Garrick. The tour guide had them group together and took a picture of everyone with all the phones provided. He got them to sign releases for it to go up on the a community article for Disney World’s public relations page. One of the security got them to their truck and as they were getting he stopped them to say they caught the purse snatcher. Garrick smiled and told him good job to everyone involved. Everyone waved as he drove off and Constance got to be a part of the making someone’s day special she’d never met before and likely would never meet again.

As they were driving back she hit the dash button to lower the center console making the front seats into a bench seat. She laid down and put her head on his leg and stroked his knee. Her bag of souvenirs resting on the passenger floor. ‘Oh,’ she thought enjoying this blissful car ride. When they got back it would be about 9:40 PM. Knowing the day was almost over was the worst feeling! All of the girls had talked about how they felt knowing their time with him had finite endings. At least she knew she’d see Garrick in passing and during lunch at work tomorrow. Brandon had asked her to try and keep their romance on the down low.

“Well,” she said said softly, “you were right about why I love you, honey. Check your phone out before you leave and let me know if my gift works for you?”

“Sure thing Constance, umm, is honey okay to use for you as well?”

“Sure, why not, honey can be our word. Oh when you have about three seconds to spare look down,” she’d moved to be completely on her back so she was looking up at his chin.

When Garrick finally looked all around on road he said he was going to look down. What he heard made him blush as heavily as when he realized the gift of her recreated Playboy shoot on his phone. That barely started to fade when he met Miss Amazing for patrol. Laying in her bed, Constance, would not forget the starstruck look in his eyes when she told him, “I’d sign the pre-nup right now.”

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Art by: AZ_Artisan


Project Cuthbert Fusion

Project Cuthbert Fusion

February 26th, 2024 – Monday 7:11 AM

Constance rolled over and peeled an eye open and stretched out an arm to stroke “his” chest again. Her hand landed on a piece of paper and something hard. Now awake, she sat up naked in the bed silhouetted by the light coming in from her pulled back vertical blinds. “I didn’t get enough sleep but, wait oh, god bless that idiot but has “she” not taught him about morning sex?” She looked down on a piece of paper next to a tray with a Cuban style-latte, fruit cut and cubed with toothpicks, follow by a plate of pressed bread. The bread smelled of her almond butter from Whole Foods.

Last night was eye opening. I can only apologize I wasn’t in a good place to have the courage to accept your affections sooner. I still can’t believe you kissed every single scar, made he tell how they happened so you could kiss away the pain. You were so tender and just beyond this feeble attempt to convey my affections with words. Your arms felt like a sanctuary from the world. The curve from the neck to your shoulder is a respite for my head.

Now, enjoy this Cuban styled breakfast in bed. I’ll be making you lunch from stuff in your fridge. I’m doing my hour workout downstairs to not wake you. If you’re not up when I am done then I’ll use your downstairs bathroom as well. I bought my own towel so your nice ones are safe, hehe!

Oh, it should be illegal to look as hot as you do with a brain twice as fascinating!


Constance ate the food, thinking, ‘What sort of man writes notes anymore?’ Quietly she continued to ponder his great constitution but was one of his powers immunity to fatigue? The latte was very well done, and his food was really good! She thought it must be all the practice he gets making food for the Giving Tree. She got up and showered hearing some kind of music playing downstairs. Black slacks and suit jacket, dark orange shirt, and polished shoes that could also handle the warehouse floor.

It did not take her long to realize Andy Lee Danzeg’s voice. Call of the Deep was Garrick’s favorite band after all. Then she smiled and checked her favorite place to get show tickets in town. A few clicks later and she had two “Backstage Access” badges and tickets for their concert in October. When the offer for the meet and greet with the band was presented at checkout she added it to the cart. She thought to herself that his birthday would just be given early this year! Making a note to text the “Ladies of the Gryphon” group chat the October concert dates, and request an exception because it would not fall on her or anyone’s special day.

She found Garrick packing her lunch containers she used everyday. His phone was hooked up to her TV and she realized he was streaming his own music over her connected sound system. He was wearing a long sleeve dark, navy blue, denim, button down shirt with very dark orange jeans and his same Doc Marten work boots she’s seen on him for years. She knew when he transformed he looked like a male runway model, but there’s a feral quality about him normally she could not shake. He “looked” rested for having perhaps, with him you never knew, a few hours of sleep. When they made eye contact she smiled, “You know I woke up naked and was really looking forward to being late for work.” She winked at the end.

“I will note that for next Monday morning,” he replied blushing. Constance loved seeing him rattled by blushing, and her heart raced hearing ‘next Monday’ even more. On the surface she kept her cool. “Small question, do you have some info on using the RS4 in making better drones?”

Her brow furrowed, “If you’re working…”

“Down Cheetara, I’m thinking about how to make mechanical ghosts that actually fly. It’s a surprise project for a friend.”

She tried to keep a stern face. However, he just joked with her the way he did only when Brandon and he got drunk at the after parties. Maybe he was relaxed after all? “Does Optimus Prime wanna have a crossover event with this Thundercat?” She even made a faux clawing motion in the air. The look of surprise Garrick had being matched in his nerdness was worth everything to Constance. Garrick walked over and picked her up, spun around and pressed her against the wall! Leaning in, “We get off work at 5 PM, I have sword practice for an hour which can be done here on your roof. At 6 PM to 9:45 PM you can have me, until then you have to wait.” He licked her ear, then kissed his way down her neck before setting her down.

Leaving her against the wall even more aroused he spins and he comes back to her he sets Constance’s lunch in her hands, and walks out her front door with his quipping, “See you at work!”

She went back upstairs because there was no way he was going to get away with leaving her that worked up and just walk out the door. Two could play the arousal and wait game, she was a master. As of this moment the game was definitely afoot!

11:01 AM

The weekly inter-department meeting had gone well, except for the moment everyone laughed briefly at Gary. At the beginning Constance handed out folders to everyone for her RS4 talk and projected integration avenues. When Gary opened his folder he shrieked – like a girl – and shut his folder apologizing for a hiccup!

Two can play this game mister.
Now you have to wonder if I am wearing any?



In the folder was a pair of her lace panties and the note. Garrick then realized Constance was wearing a tight knee length skirt and not the slacks she had on earlier. She won, it was so hard to focus on the meeting and not think about whether or not she was wearing any. Garrick had hoped to surprise her with a document brief he had put together but completely forgot it when it came time to discuss his department.

Mia Schmidt, patted him on the back and went on with their department’s presentation. The thumbs she got from Garrick made her smile, especially after his surprise that morning. He had brought Mia an un-modified copy of one of Optimus’ A.I. backups. He had repaired one of the non-functioning servers and installed it. He gave it back to her as a three year old A.I. that had his personal data scrubbed and that of the hero team. He informed this A.I. going forward it was to be a part of Mallic Robotics. Then he shared how he wanted to help Mia’s project along.

Mia went on to explained the focus change from hard assembly of an A.I. based on the components and instead working on a distributed A.I. hive mind. They showed off the build improvements using Hana’s robotic orbs. Using the hive mind they had the 24 orbs on the meeting table come together and start creating shapes at her command. The more of them which came together, the quicker they responded as the A.I. hive mind increased in its power. Mia wrapped up Garrick’s presentation by asking who could they leverage as clients if they could create robotic assistant for the infirm (the orbs configured to resemble a wheelchair), and defend our soldiers on the front lines (the orbs configured into a dome)?

While everyone was clapping Constance noted that Garrick had removed “something” from his folder and put it in his pocket. Everyone clapped and the meeting wrapped up. As people were leaving Garrick asked Brandon and Constance to stay. He set a worn, leather bound, three ring binder with brass corner clips on its front and back panels on the table. The folder was three inches thick and alongside it he put a huge box of 100 hard drives inside enclosures. Embossed in the front leather covered panel was: Project Cuthbert Fusion.

Garrick explains the whole story about why two were built but only one was ever revealed to the world. His father’s philosophy of budget for two but only show off one. When the shit hits the fan you have a backup plan. He plays the #tedTALK once again and then walks both of them through the login process and creates User accounts on there. He explains that the A.I. is named Cynthia after his mother, while she’s never spoken they could try talking to her once in awhile because that was key in getting his second A.I. Optimus to function better. The decade worth of data is located on one hundred 10 TB drives! A whole petabyte of data regarding the workings of a fusion reactor designed by his father, with concepts of Daedalus. The Cuthbert design is different because they were trying to avoid copyright infringement. The structural test was now 71% complete with no signs it wouldn’t complete with success.

Constance watch him move through the material and notes as though he was reciting poetry. He was passionate about this and making sure Brandon and her understood the pros and cons that came with carrying on his father’s work. Brandon tried to get him to continue it, but Garrick summoned his sword and transformed. He set the sword on the table, “I have accepted that Garrick Griffon Faulkner cannot get this done being a former felon. As Gryphon I can begin hunting the problems in the city to cut them out. I have been empowered by Ashmadiel of the Shining Legion to go forth and hunt the darkness plaguing this world. I can only wear so many hats and the two of you mean the world to me and I trust you more than family. Please see this through for the world, for your company’s growth and future, for me, your friend.” He transformed back and tapped his wrist down upon the blade causing it to burst into golden mercury and solidify as one of the bracelets people have seen him wear countless times.

Garrick left them both there with that bombshell. Reviewing everything he helped them with they realized all of the projects he’s worked on for the last three years would now be useful in carrying out this idea. Brandon chuckled and told her as long as he didn’t have to call him Garrick he was in.

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Art by: AZ_Artisan


Dammit Gary!

Dammit Gary!

Ramona got a call that Friday morning and Garrick mentioned he was working on some real estate ventures. In order to help pay for those ventures he had taken on some consulting work. He was looking at branching out his portfolio so he could be prepared when it came time to raise a family. This was causing him to work some crazy hours and he could not explain anything further because of NDA’s regarding his work projects for both entities that were sharing him as a resource. While he couldn’t promise when he would make Thursday, he would try and be there next Tuesday. He did confirm that he had met the Gryphon which made him think it was indeed a man. However, he’d promised to not reveal his identity. Ramona said “I saw ‘him’ this past Tuesday, too. I’m not convinced.” She then said she’d see him next Tuesday and they hung up.

February 23rd, 2024 – Friday 11:45 AM

Garrick and Brandon Mallic had been sitting Garrick’s office at the oval table with floor plans laid out between them. Today they were going to go over Garrick’s time table for moving out and relinquishing the last third of the building to Brandon and Mallic Robotics. Neither of them had said anything yet because of the opening sentence that came out of Garrick’s mouth.

“Brandon, I am now dating Constance.”

Garrick had played out all the scenarios in his head involving him being physical harmed, fired, or even killed. Silence wasn’t one of them. Brandon looked like someone had shot him and he took a chair at the table and sat down. He finally began to speak, “I thought Constance was just putting on an act to frighten Blake. She pulled Blake into meeting in her office and I have only heard Constance yell like that at me only a few times. It was that raised voice with a monotone level the entire time. The tone that tells you “I fucked up” and then listening and doing what your told are survival notes. She made him watch video of the board meeting where you recommended him for the job. She pointed out that every time one of his team dropped the ball since 2023 you stepped in and fixed it on your personal time. Dammit Gary, why didn’t you tell me? How many people have you been covering for?”

Brandon’s eyes were wide like he had seen a ghost as he continued not waiting for an answer, “As a director in the company you could recommend firing him or his team, each and every time – sixteen times – you opt’ed for coaching and training! Apparently, she spoke with Sam Strom whom had been collecting all the surveillance inside the building. She has his harassment of you documented and archived, if he ever breathes the wrong way in your direction ever again not only will she pursue his dismissal, but she could verify two civil identity protection superhero laws for public heroes he’d be violating. When he asked she verified that your identity was known to her and she had the paperwork to prove you were legal in court. She hit the speaker button on her phone for an open line and asked if he wanted to explain his harassment of a public hero to the C.S.P.D.?”

It was the first time they made eye contact, “Dammit Gary, she told him if he didn’t shape up – as she hung up the speaker phone – that she would make sure Mallic Robotics would cooperate completely with the law in pursuing the penalty of the felony charges he would be facing. When he came out of the meeting he looked pale! Then she came towards my office! She paused and spoke with Novia about making sure she got free upgrades to her leg as she needed them. The change in her demeanor from iron queen to sweet sister was quick and vicious! When she came into my office she laid out before me every good deed she could dig up on you. She had stuff from Sam so I knew she had your superhero identity. She made it clear you were going to keep working here. Then she asked if I knew you were contemplating leaving to protect everyone?”

Brandon was beginning to sweat, “I told her I didn’t know that and I stupidly told her I had just asked you to pick her or hero work. She made me watch all of the video of you and Miss Amazing saving the families from the apartment building seizure. The Silver City Sentinel has a bunch, and then she asked me if I knew about you then. When I mentioned bandaging your wounds that morning she said Sam had filled her in on your missing friend as well…
…You were thinking of leaving to protect all of us?”

“Yes, you said I had to choose and I thought she’d never want me if I mentioned I was in a polyamorous style relationship. I also promised I would not make a move until I had my stuff figured out and A LOT has been figured out in the last week.”

“Dammit Gary, I never wanted to loose you! The three of us have made this business what it is! Look, you know I just want Constance to be protected. But now she’s read up on S.A.V.I.O.R., Papa Zombie, and new news clips showing you next to Jake Thompson LLC. Effectively, the whole damn company knows you moonlight as a publicly licensed super hero. As far as I know only Sam, Constance, and myself know your actual identity. We’ll all keep your secret.”

“Thank you, Brandon, that means a lot.”

“Dammit Gary, I, I…
…she said the two of you were dating and she knew about your other girlfriends. She made it clear it was her choice and you tried to phrase it to make her feel uninterested in you.”

“That’s true but she clearly had other plans.”

“She said if she’d been allowed to pursue back in 2020 you’d both be married by now. Rather than crying about that or blaming the past she wanted you enough to deal with the hand fate presented you to her in. I won’t stop you but if you break her heart I will find a way to break you, got that Garrick!” Brandon looked serious and his finger, anger, and fear were all pointing at Garrick.

“I would have it no other way, thank you Brandon.”

Art by: AZ_Artisan
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Trembling Hearts

Trembling Hearts

Sunday – 11th of February, 2024

Nicholas, wait a second,”

Professor Nicholas turns back to the blue haired woman approaching him in Everette College sweats to hide her outfit underneath, “Yes, Katherine?” He’d just taken off his long coat and put it in his trunk and was buttoning his blazer over the vest he wore as Zeau.

“Please don’t hold it against Garrick. He was with Jake, and we both know he’s crazy enough to steal a starfighter.”

“Well, there’s two positives I can deduce from this. A) You should be happy to know that when he thought “you” might be in danger he came for you, just done smarter. B) We can both take solace that he referred to “us” when he mentioned Jake and Granny2Good. Therefore he likely came with the rest of the team, and learned from running off on his own, he can be taught.”

They both chuckle at the last part and mention they’ll catch up again soon enough. Katherine heads to her Smart Fortwo car while Nicholas heads back to the get some work before heading home. He came for me!” She kept saying all the way back to home. She realized as she was pulling into the fenced yard that she just called Garrick’s place home! It had only been two days but it had felt like an eternity since she left him on Friday.

Swiping her badge, the familiar click of the unlocked door, and she pulls the door open to head inside. Her eyes adjust quickly as she bounds across the ground floor avoiding the numerous workout machines surrounding the training mat. There he is, her boyfrien…
…why is that half-dressed bitch kissing her man? They make eye contact and her anger is mounting visibly on her face. “Garrick, thanks it was a wonderful time…,” the half dressed woman walks away seemingly unconcerned about her potential nudity! Katherine’s eyes dart back and forth between Garrick and the slut whom is about to die.

Pointing at the woman walking away Garrick exclaims, “That’s a man!”

Black Phantom in the process of taking off some of his gear begins to laugh, “Yeah, that’s so much better!”

Just then the woman in the torn clothing is nearing the bathroom as her hair changes color, she bulks up to 6′ 7″ and grows and extra set of arms! A second or two later Katherine is staring at the Beast. Her angry expression melts away to confusion as Garrick points again, “See! I told you its a dude!” Black Phantom smirks as he heads over to Jake and they talk about some of the items picked off the deceased. Garrick can’t stop starring at Katherine’s new blue hair. In his mind he is wondering how hair color makes her look even more amazing.

Garrick remembers the usb stick and he inserts it into the table and grabs one of the tablets plus four of the eight monitors on the data pole at the table’s center. Aside from the documents dictating a disturbingly clear plan to mind control students through these psychology experiments. Katherine hugs Garrick when she sees that! Covenant and he explain the cops have all of it because these the are copies of the laptop files Garrick made from his house. What they found next was shared with everyone! It would appear there’s a figure of apparently unknown repute to our heroes. This individual is selling powers to people that can pay his price! Apparently, Dr. Crosby acquired his power of mind control from the individual only known as “The Dealer” to their clients. Katherine then leaned over his shoulder to read along as her blue ponytail fell down into his peripheral view. Everyone got the hint when the next sentence Garrick blurted out was…

“…I REALLY like blue!”

Garrick’s face turned eight shades of crimson, a fact Katherine did not miss and she whispered, “Boy, you sure are hot mister G.” Ad-libbing a line from a cartoon character she had seen once, many years ago. Bounding off upstairs leaving an even redder face Garrick to awkwardly bid everyone a wonderful day but he had some “research” to work on. The Shorties had already disappeared into the basement and the online world of Gizergleam and Worlds Online. After Garrick saw the last guest off he walked into exercise mat and floated up towards the second floor catwalk balcony. He found Katherine sitting on his bed and he asked if she was okay?

“I’m sorry I worried you, your thoughts though weren’t hard to read. I was worried my actions brought me back to the attention of the organization I’ve been on the run from, so I left to find out what happened to me and make sure nothing bad happened to my Garr-Bear.” Katherine shakes her head for a second, looking into Garrick’s mind she’s caught off guard by some of his more lewd thoughts as to why he thinks he likes the blue hair so much. She waits for a few seconds he apologizes being distracted by the fact somehow she got even prettier!

Katherine told him she got Zeau involved because as a teacher he’d be able to help her on campus. “Garr-Bear, please don’t be jealous though! There’s no room in my life for another man, so please don’t think that I would be cheating on you!”

Katherine saw the amorous look drain off his face and one of concern replaced it. When he called her ‘Baby’ though, there was a quiet confidence he’d not displayed before. “Look, you’re my first girlfriend at 27 years of age. However, as a scientist, I tried to study any relationship I could identify in hopes of making me a better husband one day.”

When Garrick said ‘husband’ looking her in the eye she saw a silhouette of her in a gown in his mind. His face grew older in her perception of its features. The vision of her was gone replaced by what she could only describe as a modern scene of Sodom from the bible! Naked men surrounding Garrick and taunting him from the shadows with gestures ranging from wholesome to extremely lewd. He continued, “All my previous experience in relationships comes from watching inmates in relationships. I don’t feel the being gay is a factor actually. I saw monogamous couples, harem styles (though slavery might be a better term), poly pairings (3-way groups or “V’s”, quads or four people), straight up internal prison prostitution. What I took away from that was sex was not just for love.”

Katherine saw that act as the highest form of love between a couple. She felt so sad understanding how shattered Garrick’s heart must have become from his every loss he’s suffered. Maybe he’s forgotten how to love so he’s grabbed a bit from wherever he could find a morsel.

“It could be just a stress reliever for a bad day, it could be a commodity, and it could be done between friends and never lead to anything else.”

Couples used it to deepen their own commitment to each other, and he thought of it as a handshake option!? Only pimps and whores used it as currency! Oh my did she have her work cut out for her! Then there was the erotically charged poetry and harlequin romance novels he read in prison. Oh dear god what did he consider a “hall pass” to be? Katherine had envisioned him getting drunk for certain and sleeping in, but she was starting to see how different his frame of reference was.

He continued, “The simple trick was being completely honest about each of your expectations and checking in with your respective partner or partners to make sure everyone’s needs were being met.”

Did he just reduce an intimate relationship down to a therapy session with result updates? The concepts he’s proposing are good but can be applied to any relationship. He’s obviously never had a caring monogamous relationship since she was his first. If he’s an honest scientist then time with her should make him reassess his views! A plan began to form in her mind.

Onward he went with shocking revelation after the next, “Hypothetically, if you had wanted to have sex with Nick / Zeau I would have a few requirements:

  1. We all meet and know each other a bit better.
  2. Make sure he’s okay with the fact I would not be involved due to my hang-ups.
  3. You’d let me know when you’re going and coming home, especially if it was overnight.
  4. We spend some time afterwards just so we make sure our feelings as a couple don’t suffer and don’t get brushed under a rug.
  5. That we both would study and work on “ethical non-monogamy” to make sure honesty, trust, compassion, and love are the cornerstones of our relationship. Which I feel is good advice for any type of couple or pairing.
  6. If you chose to pursue that I would likely find another person in my spare time for a friends with benefits relationship, because no one could replace the feelings I have for you or ever take your place in my heart. You can bank on that.

She pulled him close and hugged him realizing that her anger was really placed on those that had violated him. It was becoming clear to her that since the torture and rape was in regards to his sword. He may not even know to be on the run from the people in Black Phantom’s vision regarding the Wayfarer. Garrick had said many times to her that he was broken and why would anyone want him. She can tell what he is thinking and therefore should be able to mend him better than anyone else. Certainly better than Patsy, the horrible-house maid, Palmer. She envisioned him as a Kintsukuroi project that had just begun!

They lay down just slept, wrapped up in each other.

9:00 PM

They woke up about 90 minutes prior and began to get dinner together and trying to talk about non-superhero related things. Garrick has one of the eight or so white boards (a couple were transparent) normally in the basement up in the kitchen and would jot down notes about a micro reactor while he was cooking up food for them both. She felt things were starting to get back to normal, so she felt if she read his mind while asking him a question she’d see his thought process at work as he answered. She expressed the hope that Garrick’s hall pass the other night to have a fun night out with the group without her went better than her night did.

Garrick was honest about about how much he had fallen for her even farther than before. That she trusted him with no restrictions for an evening and then come back to her! Katherine now understood what he considered a “hall pass” for certain. When he talked about getting drugged she was watching most of his thoughts were on a man named Thad, but when he added the parts about the group telling him their experiences her thoughts went to the bar staff. It was the only common factor in all the drinks.

Then she learned about his conversation with Stefania as she watched and he charmed her even though he mentioned he had a girlfriend! Apparently when Garrick mentioned he had not had the exclusivity of their relationship stated she pressed on getting to know him. This girl reminded Katherine of a younger, hotter version of Patsy! Then she hears the gunshots as Garrick remembers it. She sees Garrick launch into armored Gryphon and begins saving Stefania and her friends. She can see everything skewed and knows he is in fact high based on the memory images that come as he goes through each detail he is straining to get right.

Then she finds herself trying to not show the body movements as Garrick describes the feeling of being touched. As Katherine sees the colors and trembling reminders in his mind he’s got to be a hero and not screw anyone! He didn’t want to violate his prior promise of insulting Katherine regardless of the “hall pass” gift. Oh my god! He considers the hall pass and ability to fornicate outside the relationship an item that can be a gift? She had never intended for him to get a coupon to a whorehouse! Once at Stefania’s house she gets the full run down as Garrick struggles to remember the details. However, to Katherine it was like reliving a nightmare because it was becoming painfully clear he did not associate sex with love in the slightest! He wasn’t even jealous of Zeau because she could still pick up thoughts he never felt he was good enough for anyone! That’s why he just assumed anyone interested in him would always seek a second partner or more to become satisfied!

What did she have to do to show him he was enough for her? After dinner she said she needed to sleep and she went into the other room on the second floor and shut the door. She just didn’t know how to tell him how painful everything he had said was. Katherine was worried because she couldn’t sense or see any falsehood about what he discussed. His tact though and his delivery was almost to factual. She was worried he might hold back in the future if he knew how hurt she was. That her efforts to please him physically were not associated with how she loved him.

Love. It was the first time she had really said it regarding him. Did those college girls think it was fun to take advantage of him? Did they even think of it as consent or not consent? Given his time in prison did Garrick think this was the way it worked or did he even feel taken advantage of? His father was gone most of the time and if he didn’t follow Cuthbert around by founding Dalus Dome. He’d have to endure countless attempts by his sister, Adeline, trying to kill him. Reading his mind he had tried to set boundaries to make sure he didn’t do anything wrong, however, his boundary was the moment something went inside another person regardless of location. Anything else up to that point was considered fair game! She began to loop her thoughts in a raging cyclone, crying and eventually just screaming until hoarse. It was midnight when she fell asleep.

Monday – 12th of February, 2024


Morning, she open her door and walked into a streamer of 3M clear tape. Thinking about which Shorty was about to die! She untangle herself and walked into a folding chair and square matching table. There was a number of plates with covers on them and a folded card. Hand written on the card was: 8:53 AM – Eat or refrigerate by 12 AM. Your Boyfriend <3. She saw that everything was food she told him she like during breakfast. She saw the bedazzled cased Pearphone X she’d given Jake to fix was on the table! Looking back at the tape a folded paper was on its end with a double sided note.

“Kitty Kat,

It’s hard for me not to be self deprecating if I feel I screwed up. I cook, however, the burrito place says hi and that’s where the flan came from. They told me you get it on your cheat day. I went out on patrol last night. I also wanted some time to think, and I feel I owe you an apology.

At first I thought the “hall pass” was your faith in me to do whatever and then come home to you! I was elated beyond words! It is the reason I let things go as far with the girls because not long after being there. My sword had purged me of the drug in my system. I (this was my mistake) assumed you read my mind all the time because of your ex-husband. I’ve been wondering for some time how heroes that lie about their identity maintain a relationship? Maybe being polyamorous was a path to making that work.

Full disclosure, I often don’t think I’m enough to make such an amazing woman happy. After all if you take the sword away I’m just a nerd. My father and Jake are the real geniuses. As my sister would say I’m just a poser. A perfect example of this was not having any clue you were in to me. I was fine just being friends with you. You were as amazing to me as you are beautiful so I was not surprised when I screwed up sharing to much. Not including Patsy my only social experience after prison was work. The two owners of Mallic are brother and sister, with the Sister seemingly interested in me. I have not gone after that for three reasons A) we work together B) my superhero side job has made her brother ask me to pick her or it C) the most recent reason is I have strong feelings for you.

Before my mistakes that landed me in prison I designed and built structures to end homelessness and work on other worlds! Now I suffer from impostor syndrome. I push myself at work and hero stuff because I feel like a fake. I’m no knight, there’s no damsel to save that won’t see me as a broken failure in the light of dawn. Look, you scare me because without your instruction I wouldn’t really understand “practical knowledge reference” for how to please any woman. Watching porn is like reading books, it only goes so far. Every day I am waiting for the other shoe to fall. You’ll read my mind see something about me so broken fixing it would be a waste of your time and you’ll move on. Three times now I have been trying to work up the courage to say something to you and failed. Failed myself and failed the affections you’ve placed on me.

When I saw the black outfit, I thought you had given me the “hall pass” to distract me, for a second time. The first time you lied to me when you and Patsy had your confrontation. I was mad at being lied to for what I thought, at the time, was the second instance. Ethel pulled me out of my prison defense thought process. She made me think, why was being lied to hurtful? If Jake’s bomb, big enough to be larger than WINSLOW, and Ethel nearly setting it off because she had forgotten patience and innocent lives matter more than ours. I would’ve found a dark corner and probably given Adeline what she’s been wanting since my mother died.

I still don’t understand why you like me but Ethel’s lesson has got me trying out the real side of my appearance more. I fear that trying to make use of the “Hall Pass” was what I feared, a test. I should have never gone that night but again my social cues are so fucked I let you down.

I know I don’t deserve forgiveness, but for what little it’s worth I am truly sorry if I hurt you in any way.

…sorry I was dreaming again.

With a heavy, trembling heart, apologies,


Her first class wasn’t until noon today as a senior in high school. She ate the amazing meal and noticed a text appear on her phone. Apparently, Garrick had to work late on a special project his boss was flying out to California for. There were a bunch of pre-made meals he always did for the Shorties and now her in the refrigerator. Between that and his Tuesday visit to the Giving Tree, Garrick didn’t think he was going to see her much until Wednesday morning.

When she went into Garrick’s bedroom to take a shower half of Garrick’s stuff was placed or folded neatly on his bed. A note on the empty side read: Making room for the most important woman in my life. -Garr Bear. Katherine was still out on how she felt so she got ready and headed off for her classes. She stopped at the burrito shop and picked up a Horchata rice drink. While she was in there she saw an incredibly handsome man sitting there talking with another person and both were wearing Mallic Robotics embroidered polos.

Sam, I know you must have seen that fucking fraud in his superhero outfit.”

Blake, you may not like Gary but language, please,” gestures at Katherine, “I have daughters myself, please.”

“I’m sorry, Sam, but come on you’ve had to seen what Maverick he is, tell me and a single call to the cops and he is gone! No way he’s a legal hero.”

“Blake, is that why you took me to lunch?”

“Look he’s ugly and to smart for his own good, he’s an ex-felon! Once a felon always a felon.”

“Blake you could say once a butt, always a butt,” Katherine giggled at Sam’s rebuttal.

“Ha ha, so really whom is he?”

“Blake are you daft? Gary is the reason I have my job and your director says he fought for you in the lead marketing job. You hated him then and he put his ego aside knowing your talents at your job were better than Pavek the Romanian kid.”

“Sam, I’m just looking out for the company! I saw the interview his sister gave replay on YouTube..”

“..Blake, it was ten years ago and his father died, he was not the only one to loose everything when Daedalus went offline! His project could have replaced it one day!”

Katherine was not fond of Blake at this point.

“Sam, have you seen him in his stolen hero gear or not?”

“Only what you have seen, Blake.”

“No way, I can’t prove it but I don’t believe you, Sam!”

“Blake what the heck is the bug up your butt about Gary? He’d give you the shirt off his back! I’ve known him for two years and no one works harder, cares more, or gives more of himself than Gary.”

Novia, dumped me the day he showed up at work all changed!”

“Blake, Novia, told me she caught you banging a stripper!”

“Who cares, I’m hot and it was just a stripper!” Katherine just got up to grab her drink when she heard Blake expound that. “Sam, you can only love a troll like Gary the way you love a smart puppy.”

“First, that stripper was someone’s daughter. Second, you’re pissed because Novia, whom couldn’t walk without help. Had been given that ability because the ‘troll’ whom has a bigger heart than Shrek, built her a new leg she has proof of you complimenting on style and beauty. That was done by Gary, so yes she is inclined to have fond caring for him, she dumped you for cheating. Third, Gary’s into some other girl not Novia.” Blake looks perplexed and Katherine begins to take her time picking out a straw and a napkin. “I’ve seen the Arabic girl move out and a blond girl, a hot blond girl I might add, move in. There’s no reason to hate him. You’re being ridiculous because you won’t accept Novia left you for being a butt!”

“You’re drinking the Gary Kool-Aid, Sam, wake up he’s a fraud.”

“You’re an idiot Blake, he gives charity once a week! He works harder than everyone at that office.”

“Charitable people are to stupid to make the world work for them. Nobody cares about their neighbor anymore, they care about how to make themselves better off than everyone else around them. It’s how humans judge their self worth – oh my life doesn’t suck as bad as that guy!”

Sam looks at his phone, “ahh crap, that’s Constance, Brandon gave Gary another monster assignment he’s trying to get done in a day!”

“Aww, who cares how wrecked that mule gets! I’m the one that makes that hack look good. Marketing is everything, spin is king! Coders are a dime a dozen.”

Sam shook his head and walked out Katherine followed behind him among other patrons leaving. He makes a call as he gets out to his car, and Katherine starts to head out but maintains line of sight. A few seconds later she skims his thoughts to find out the call is to Brandon about the lunch meeting with Blake. The large project is actually just getting his week assignments in early so he can take Valentines Day off. Brandon just made it seem like he needs everything by close of business on Tuesday for a trip to California. Brandon hopes Constance finding out he’s in a real relationship will make her stop fawning over him. Sam mentions the hate and Blake being dumped by Novia. Brandon sees it as simple jealousy but the legal concerns of employing a super and having that super retaliate against a normal person is a legal nightmare. Sam asked how can Gary put up with it and is told Gary said it really wasn’t anything new for him. If they let Blake go it will have to be completely devoid of any connection to Gary. The call ends and Sam gets in his car and heads back. Blake walks out and Katherine snaps a photo of him and leaves.

Garrick has never told her what he goes through at work, and she realizes he’s never talked about his job at all. He is trying to plan something for Valentines Day and not lie to her, hmmm. She made it to school when she realized how much about his day he never shared with anyone! Her anger was starting to ease up because he appeared to be trying to get his life situated around her and not other women now. School went as most days do, Shorty nodded at her in the hallway, she’d flip him off but wink, and then she’d avoid everyone as much as possible. When she got home all of her laundry was ironed, folded, and put away in the various spots of his room he had made space for. There was a new Optimus Prime figurine in the bathroom holding her tooth brush on the sink. Notes were taped to the fridge about food for Shorties and food for Kat. She broke down and sent him a text asking if he needed anything because it looked like a late night for him. His reply made he choke back some tears.

Nope. Well, if you can some how teleport in here so the door access can’t tell, then become invisible so the cameras don’t see you, and snuggle the crap out of me while code compiles. Well, now my heart feels warm so thanks for being so quick! #Kissyface.

Tuesday – 13th of February, 2024: 4:30 AM

Garrick’s room was dark broken only by the neon blue glow of various electronic buttons. A preprogrammed text has left a message on Garrick’s phone that it was sent and delivered at 12:02 AM. Kat didn’t know why she woke up, but her eyes had adjusted well to the very dim conditions. When she tried to move her head something was snagging her hair prohibiting her. Turning to find out what, she realized Garrick had taken a handful of her hair and pulled it to his nose, then fell asleep. Nothing of the rest of him was close enough to touch her. Slowly freeing her hair she sat up and looked at him. He was in boxer briefs and his normal form. Now when she saw the scars on his back she knew exactly how they got there. On his back was the disfigured skin from the glowing hot threaded rod drug across his back. There wasn’t an arm or leg free from scars and when she touched one there was a flash of mental images of her grabbing Garrick and pulling him out of a nightmare on to a beach for dinner!

She could see his chest heaving as he rolled on his back and his arms went to his sides fingers pressing in so hard in clenched fists they were white and noticeable in the dark room. She reached out and read his thoughts and got and image of a shadowy ten year old girl speaking to a handcuff Garrick:

Don’t wake Katherine, you already hurt her.
Don’t wake Katherine, you don’t deserve her.
Don’t wake Katherine, you don’t deserve anyone.
Don’t wake Katherine, no one loves you.
Failure, Murderer, Fraud, Brother.

She snapped out of his mind as he sat up lightning quick cold sweat bleeding out of him. She found cover behind the bed canopy supports against the wall. He touched where she had been laying, “Oh thank god that was part of the dream. She must be in her room, it was so vivid though. I could smell her.” He sighed and walked over to his large table tapping the screen and letting it log him with a face scan, “I have not dreamed of Adeline in a long time, I am scared of her finding out about me but I know becoming sponsored is the right thing to do.” He stripped naked and walked to the shower turning it on and getting in. “How do you ask her if she wants to be exclusive and not sound dumb? It is bad enough you got the “Hall Pass” test wrong. Your boss knows your in a relationship and he knows whom to slip that to in hopes that anyone at work will cool their jets. Tonight, let Ramona know that he can be friends but that’s it. Already let the only fans I have from the bar know it’s exclusive. Now I just need to hear her say it to confirm my adjusted hypothesis is correct.”

Katherine left the room and got dressed in yoga pants and a shirt. As the automated coffee finished, so did the shower. Garrick came out dress in tan slacks and one of his company polos, “Good morning, your up early and a wonderful sight. Oh I can wait if you haven’t had coffee yet?” Katherine realized at that moment how often he put on a happy face for everyone. She left a stern face on but smiled briefly trying to not act like she had gained a bunch of insight into him, “To be fair, I did not completely communicate what I thought a “Hall Pass” should be.” She holds up her hand as she pours him a cup of coffee, “I need to make sure I am clearer with you, we promised each other that. Don’t answer yet, take 24 hours as I hear you tell people on occasion. If you want to be with me I want you exclusively to myself. I’m not interested in other guys or girls, and I don’t want you having dates and wild nights with other women. Okay I’ve said my piece.”

Garrick nods, “For the next 24 hrs I am asking that you not read my mind so I can plan a surprise for you. I don’t want to lie about it, even for a surprise. I’m just asking that Tuesday night you also sleep in your room. I should be home by 11:30 PM from the Giving Tree and I will begin then. Thanks for the cup I have to go in now, large project.” Katherine walked over and tenderly brushed her fingers on his cheek before she walked away with her cup. Anything longer and she’d have lost the composure she was trying to put forth. She waited for him to head downstairs before coming out once more.

He stopped in the basement and found one Shorty getting ready to login to Gizergleam, Worlds Online. He made sure to get the other two up and told them he had a surprise tomorrow for Katherine. Good or bad on the outcome he needed some privacy. He gave each Shorty $25 to cover whatever they needed but they couldn’t go upstairs. Not until after 12 Noon Wednesday from 11 PM Tuesday night. They all agreed and one of them got ready for school.

11:30 PM

Garrick came home after the Giving Tree and letting Ramona know they were just friends. After this week he’d work on going to visit this church and likely bring Kat along. What he didn’t mention was that he wanted to be certain it wasn’t a cult after the psychology department fiasco. When he checked on the Shorties they have soda, water, and three pizzas with two ice chests! He nodded his approval at their prep and got thumbs up and they’re busy! Smiling he went up to the second floor he could hear music coming from the second bedroom. He set up his easel and the board and got his water color paints out to try and make a picture with her blue hair.

He used the card he made her as a guide and repainted her portrait. This time it had her changed hair color to blue. Now he had to replicate it by the morning, so he got to work. Optimus would warn him if she tried to open the door so he could cover the gift. The trick he ran into was waiting in drying from adjacent sections and moving on to others. He combined heavier white ink to get soft colors but thicker paint when needed on the face. Soon he was in a simple t-shirt that it, his hands, and his arms were covered in paint from using his fingers to force semi-dry paint to behave how he wanted it to work.

He listened to German Folk Metal from “Call Of The Deep” (his favorite band) all night on a Pearpod-Mini he kept for just this purpose. He’d found three tracks that when played on loop he could work for hours making art. His bluetooth, bone-induction headphones wrapped around his head but kept his ears free in case someone needed to talk with him. With sounds traveling through his bones and every shade of blue he owned his brush continued to glide across the taped down, heavy, watercolor paper. Soon the a sea of azure became the backdrop to his first attempt at speed painting!

He had recorded his efforts and mentioned on the video this was the last time he’d be painting this model. He mentioned to his teacher he had found two other students willing to be his models for further work. He was unsure of whether they could be compensated with credits toward electives if he chose to pay them for their time. He covered everything that he thought might give away something about him or Katherine in drop cloths. He uploaded all his work on the watercolor and heavy ink mix medium to the class online folders assigned to him. He replied that he would be happy to make a public showing once he had a few more pieces of his new models.

Wednesday – 14th of February, 2024: 5:46 AM

Katherine wakes and checks her phone and there’s a text from Garrick only an hour ago: “I’m done, hope you like it – G.” She gets dressed in workout clothing because Nathaniel should be there at 6 AM and may already be there downstairs. When she opens the door of the second bedroom she sees the huge blue painting taped to the very dense plastic slab. A clipped note talks about how hot she looks (which he did not believe could be more amazing) with blue hair even if its just a blue streak. As she looked down at the bottom left corner there was a folded red card with wax paper to drape over it. She realized it was to prevent the card from being damaged while the larger picture dried.

She picked it up and removed the wax paper and read it.

The door to his/their room is open and Garrick is passed out in his normal form and dried paint stains cover his hands and arms. She can see he stayed up all night to get the painting right. He’s still wearing pants and shoes and his legs are draped off the bed as though he had intended to untie them. Shutting their door behind her she crawls on the bed and tries to wake him. When he finally opens his eyes he smiles, “I’m sorry ma’am but I’m in a relationship now and my love has made it clear sharing is not permitted you’ll have to leave.”

Kat arches an eyebrow, “Is that so? Well I don’t see her around it could be our little secret!”

“Nope, I love her and this was her request of me if I wanted to be with her,” he yawned and Kat realized he may not be fully awake.

“What’s her name then?”

“Katherine Davis and if god let’s me win the lottery then one day several years from now it’ll be Katherine Faulkner. Shhh don’t tell her that dream I have yet. She hates it when I over share,” he giggled slightly as he finished his statement and his eyes rolled back in his head.

Lightly patting him on his cheek she asked, “Did you have a request of her to be with you?”

Yawning again, “No, she’s still terrified I might leave her for some pretty girl. I’m not sure she has realized how amazing she is. Besides I still don’t think I am worthy of her trust yet so I would ask nothing.”

“What would your request have been if you had one?”

“I love painting the human body and painting it in various locations. Just let me paint and I promise never to share anymore paintings of her so the bad people don’t find her.”

“How many have you shared?”

“Four, three head shots and one of her falling off a building as a perspective piece. She sent me a photo, it was so hot!”

“Where did you share it?”

“School, art class with only my teacher. I want her safe so I found other models that I can afford. My teacher thinks I am getting good enough for a showing. If I’m over sharing I am sorry.”

Katherine looked at his work and had to agree he was indeed getting good, “So you’d be painting nudes then?”

“Only with a clear demarcation line between the male or female model and I. Then an assistant that would be the one to help the model or get stuff for me as well. This way I can assure her of no contact! Otherwise the models would be dressed because head shots don’t require nudity. Sometimes I’m smart unless Jake is around then I’m just the less dumb kid in the room.”

“I’ll think about it but your plan is good.”

Garrick falls asleep and Katherine can read his thoughts realzing he had been speaking in a form of waking dream. She kisses him strong and hard, within a few seconds he wraps his arms around her, “Good morning Kitty Kat I have been waiting on this for days, I love you!”

“I love you too.”

“There’s a lovely beach front Italian restaurant in Garden Valley I’d love to take you to. Now don’t worry I have reservations, its called “Giardino dei Sogni” or Dream Garden. We have a table on the beach because I wanted our first official date to be special.”

Whatever she felt about the conversation with his sub-conscious or waking dream state. Everything he was saying now was music to her ears. Her trembling heart eased a bit as she kissed him over and over again.

Art by: AZ_Artisan
Come watch the next game for our super friends on HippoTV!


Decisions From The Heart

Decisions From The Heart

February 6th, 2024 – Tuesday: 11:15 AM

Garrick’s body is having various shooting pains as nerves and muscle tissue repairs itself. Brandon left him stunned by his revelation of being a natural charmer. He had just been studying how his father interacted with everyone. Southern charm and hospitality was big in his family. He then remembered what Katherine had said to him just hours ago, “How many women did you plan on dating?”

He sent off an encrypted email to the Geist first at about 11:02 AM:

He followed that up with a bunch of texts to Katherine as he thought about their trip home from the Wax Museum.

How quick can you get to your house and back? (1/3)
I can make it there and back in about 12 minutes. Faster if necessary.

He had thanked the Wayfarer many times before he left them taking Aaziakel the Doombringer with him. He was just unable to hide the limp, the bleeding hand that had ripped the sword away from the surprised angelic-looking form Patsy had taken on. Miss Amazing could see it and she also knew how wrecked his body looked underneath his clothing. After everyone was gone and they were about to leave the roof they were on she rested a hand on his as it gripped Patsy’s unconscious form, “You’re still hurt Gryphon.”

“I will keep the speed down to match whatever leaping speed you set.”

Miss Amazing couldn’t tell if it was the pain he was finally beginning to feel or he was still angry, but onward she went. It was 8:54 AM when they landed on his rooftop portion of the building. He carried Patsy inside and laid Patsy in his bed. She promised to watch over Patsy, but she couldn’t convince Garrick to call off today. He began to change clothes and get in the shower, and she finally saw or paid more attention to the extent of the injuries he sustained fighting the gang bangers last night. She thought she had seen bad before but he should have been in a hospital! From his pectoral muscles and shoulder blades down to his knees was a varying shade of yellow, green, purple, and black! Over 35 wounds in the process of becoming scabs roughly the size of bullet holes were dotting him like chickenpox. As well as over 12 scars given by blades or sharp objects at various stages of healing!

Having removed her mask Katherine acknowledged her ability to take a hit from multiple attackers may not have survived what he did. She asked what outfit he wanted to wear, he grimaced out a reply and apology for his tone. She was surprised he was using manners at all and got his clothes ready. They talked as he was getting ready as fast as he could, wincing with every movement. They talked about January 30th and Katherine admitted they started out being a bit rude to each other. She came clean about hearing a voice during their chat and now realizing Patsy may have been under Aaziakel’s control longer than anyone thought! She felt bad and didn’t realize what it was until it was to late.

Just after finishing tying his shoes he took her hands in his, “Hey, I would not have realized it. I was worried I was smothering her, I thought I had to let her pursue her own agenda as an adult. I had to let you two come to terms with each other as adults. Sometimes adults fight, but then make up. It would be hypocritical of me to butt my nose into your relationship with each other.” Katherine was nodding as he went on, “I am infatuated with her but fear a relationship wouldn’t work because at some point she will go home. While I promised to come and help defeat Murder Master I know I would return home to here. Look I have to get going but Wednesday morning we all need to have a long chat about how we feel about each other. After the Giving Tree tonight I will be wiped out!” He gives Katherine a very warm and genuine hug as though he wasn’t hurting at all.

When he got downstairs he grabbed some extra medical stuff and he finally allows his poker face to show much pain he is in. He walked through his office door at 9:34 AM.

At 11:12 AM he continued with two more texts:

I’m sorry for being a terrible partner. But while you’ll obviously ‘ace’ your way through school. You still need to turn in homework. I’m worried I have been absorbing to much of your time. I just want to be respectful of it.(2/3)
Just like with making sure Patsy can make it home (i.e. I’ve not really finished saving her yet). I owe you the same courtesy of making sure that I am a partner that recognizes you have a life outside of me. I know I suck at this but I’m trying to figure out how to be better at honoring all aspects of you.(3/3)

His first meeting at 11:20 AM was with his team so he could review their long-term projects on hardware code interfacing for the parts to integrate with other systems in a form of plug and play robot building. Hana Akaikawa had been calling it adult, ass-kicking Legos! Pedro Escobar was still working an updated sensor suite for appendages and sensor drones. Mia Schmidt had built off of Gary’s old notes to explore the creation of amalgam artificial intelligence. Because code for each piece was the soul of the component she felt it could be possible to compile an A.I. from the amalgam of each assembled component creating the whole of the A.I. core neural network! Because of the variety of Hana’s plug and play features, alongside Pedro’s sensor suite upgrades, she spent much of her time trying pull it all together and smooth out all the “rough edges” in the core personality!

As they came in Garrick is sitting at the table they use for meetings, he’s already got three chairs pulled out for them. He rises to greet them and Hana tells him to sit down, he’s moving like she did after a car accident. Pedro and Mia look at each other and then to their boss as he complies and chuckles, “Umm, it felt like a rocket launcher hit me. However, y’all didn’t come up from the basement lab for a play by play. Sit and let’s get this meeting started.” Garrick mentioned every scheduled patch is done. Firmware has been tested and in place, so every computer, and machine in the basement shop and server farm is finally running the latest upgrades. He has pitched a follow up movie deal to Brandon whom is going to call his contacts in Mission City about its viability but he’s excited.

Mia, showed off her her current prototype algorithm on a test server of building and A.I. from sample programs installed on a virtual server! The results dramatically varied based on which programs were installed. The more options which were introduced expanded the functionality but still increased the instability exponentially. In her preliminary experiments three test servers overheated and destroyed themselves! Brandon finally sprung for an upgraded machine sufficient for the second layer to house the new virtual server they were using. It was sufficient for now partly because it was seriously limited in how many additional programs it was exposed to. However the project showed serious merit that it even worked! It still needed a lot more testing and understanding before it could amount to anything safely practical, and destroying their new machine was a costly failure she had been warned to avoid.

Hana, shows off the first prototype of the Mallic Modular Robot. She lays out 14 black chrome spheres with orange and silver lines and circles so they are touching each other. Spherical, exposed, contact circuitry! When she type some commands on her tablet they clumsily reconfigured themselves into a primitive stick figure robot! Hana mentions using orbs were the easiest and quickest way to produce a prototype. With more testing existing robotics designs could someday be retrofitted or designed to take advantage of this technology. She envisions that eventually robotic parts with thrusters and flight suite to begin putting themselves together on site!

Pedro, managed to take a pin point radiation emitter used back in 2018 to make radiation therapy for cancer easier on patients. He then used that to design what he intended to eventually be a two-finger and thumb hand that could x-ray scan, carbon date, contact material register from up to three inches away 300 materials types, and analyze 30 different medical conditions with an exposed blood sample. All of those by themselves would be good but exist in varying devices on the market which Pedro had with him. He had them all tied to a computer running an experimental cross referencing algorithm that he believed allows him to build a chemical makeup and behavior profile. Garrick was impressed the most at the cross referencing and put his hand out. “Go ahead, Pedro, use me as a test case.” Surprised and excited Pedro does arrange the scanners around Garrick’s hand and started the scan. After he ran the scan they waited about two minutes and then Pedro, Mia, and Hana slowly looked up at their boss a little freaked out. Pedro asks, “Were you aware there are minor traces of the same explosive chemical found in some older model RPG’s!”

Garrick sighed and put his head in his hand for a second before answering, “The fact that it picked it up impresses the hell out of me, Pedro. Everyone keep working on your projects and let Constance know about your progress so her team can push them to practical testing applications. Mia here are a few notes I jotted down that might categorize the builds using the psych profiles like ENFJ and such. It should also help when using Pedro’s work to smooth out attitude fluctuations. Hana, your brilliant and work with Brandon and Constance to take the modular robot to the next phase using her socket system. If that works I am very excited to see it go to production testing.

Pedro piped up, “Was the rocket launcher joke, not a joke?”

Garrick folds his hands having worked his way through tough moments in prison before, “Okay, all I am going to say about the matter is their were some innocent people being threatened with death from a gang. I intervened and got shot by an RPG. All of you will just have to be satisfied with that answer. You have your assignments now get to them.”

As Garrick moved around the office: getting coffee, papers from the printer, and seeing if Horace wanted to go half on lunch. Everyone except Sam in security and Brandon kept a 3 foot distance away from him and neither Horace or Constance were in their offices. This distance had been going on for some time now. About as long as he had started coming to work transformed.

A little bit later about 12:30 PM:

The three of us need to have a long, honest, blunt chat when she wakes up.Thinking about what you said and maybe I can charm people, idk? But I do know I have no intention of leaving you. As long as you want me.

Yeah we all need to talk. Your roommate needs to hear that we’re dating. She refused to believe me when I told her. Don’t worry about my school stuff. I’m not one of your dopey kids. You’re doing fine. Relax. Focus on work. I got this. Just be honest with your roommate and with me and it’ll all be fine. 😉

She really needs to learn how to clean better. This place is filthy. 😀

Thank you so much for saying we’re dating. I told my boss wasn’t dating anyone. He said get that straight before anything else happens. Hence the chat tomorrow. I will have a lot of questions tomorrow about what you consider a good boyfriend.So none of that between us was pity?

I’ve a lot of questions tomorrow for both of you. One more thought train though:
I’m the one programming the Roombas.
She is not my maid.
She’s a refugee from another dimension.
I consider you both my friends.
I’ll get a list from you tomorrow about what you consider clean. Because the person you’re complaining about cleaning is me.

Gotta run Kitty Kat, work calls.

P.S.: wait is dating boyfriend and girlfriend stuff? Tell me after work and have an Amazing day.

Why would u say were not dating? What is this between us then?No it was not pity sex. Was it anything 2 u though?

Is it about Patsy? You won’t say we’re dating or that ur my boyfriend bc of her?

So we’re just friends?


Ur a grown man. Don’t patronize me about bf gf stuff. This isnt gradeschool.

Ill call you if theres a problem here. Have your fun tonight.

Garrick smacks his head into his hand, the voice to text didn’t catch every word and what was suppose to be heart warming makes it seem like he might be trying to break up with her. While he wanted to text her back he was afraid about making it worse.

A little bit later about 1:30 PM he gets two texts from Ramona:

I am as a young girl,
Trembling in the throws of ecstatic modesty
I can’t wait to see you tonight. I hope we can fit in some time together. I look forward to meeting your cousin too!

Shorty #2 had expressed some excitement about getting to go out and meet some other kids. He thought to himself maybe he could find a way to let her down easy with poetry in return? It was worth a shot to type it out as voice to text already had him in hot water with Katherine. After taking a bit to compose something on his lunch. he wrote:

As the days have waxed the flower inflamed in the summer heat.
Time reaped each petal in a countdown of its anticipated demise.
Only to see new its ashes reconstituted by Gaea.
The mother of all life gives birth to new beginnings.
I realize it’s rough, but that is my prose. I have to check to make sure my cousin does his homework before we leave. Otherwise he will be at home with a rather harsh tutor. Tonight I am bringing Brazilian BBQ. Along with some excess beef and pork to help with lunches for the kids.

Rereading his text he only felt mildly confident. If he was lucky she would get that the death of the flower was any relationship that might be between them. The rebirth was to be a nice friendship. Yeah, he saw it and he warned her it was original poetry. He even left Shorty an out in case he didn’t want to come along. The boys had raved about the BBQ all week so he felt very confident there. If only his dad were here to help him navigate women better. How could ‘she’ even think their nights together had not meant the world to him? Now she was telling him to go have fun? Had she broken up with him already? To be fair he had never expected it to go as far as it did. Maybe she would start pursuing, hmm… she said something about secrets? I’d wonder what that was about but best to leave psychic, hornet nests alone for your mind is crunchy and goes good with bacon.

OMG! You wrote me an original poem!See you soon! 😉

Garrick sighs. “Welp, I screwed that up, maybe. At 27, I am about to utter words no well adjusted male will ever say again. I just have to not accidentally charm or seduce anyone tonight.” He went back into his house on the first floor and got a few items out from the climate controlled storage. He returned to his office after a few minutes and leaned them against the wall on the floor. He scheduled a print job for the photo quality printer and made sure he was there to pick it up. One was a partial database table layout and the other item was the real reason he was there. He felt bad surprising the guy from marketing and he left quickly as he realized Garrick was waiting for something from the printer. Garrick sighed when he heard him whisper not quiet enough, “Damn freak forgot how to leave home at home.”

He sighed and realized if that was the worse someone thought of him, screw them he could live with that. Besides he was entitled to what he felt and it wasn’t like gang rape in prison so none of the dissenting opinions really meant anything to him anyway. He smirked and his outlook on the day got so much brighter. When he got back in his office he pulled out his own drawing tablet so he could work off of his private network. He set out an outline:

Micro Fusion Reactor

A robotic power source that is scalable

Thesis: To design a power supply that should last for 50 years in a robot before degradation. Also using the robot hands and arms as a means of offense/defense with energy blasters. These weapon systems would also double as a physical network/power circuit link to share the power load and thus create grids for a municipality that is scalable and defensible in a world with powered threats.


  • Design a reactor core using a different concept than the Daedalus Project.
    • Find out what the guidelines are for this. Talk to Jake if possible.
    • Ask Jake if he would mind helping grade my work to make sure I stay in the correct parameters so I can tell the Alien to piss off, nicely.
  • Figure out how to mircosize it to at basketball at least and softball at most.
    • Make sure it has a “clean” blast vector not unlike what happened with Iron Mike.
      • If possible design an inert encompassing state to nullify the material and prevent detonation all together?
  • If I can’t make the domes to take humanity to the stars then perhaps I can help create the robots that carry them there. If this works revisit the dome concept.

It had seemed like such a simple idea but tomorrow he would begin figuring out how to begin each step. Especially if he was indeed single having been in, what he thought was, the shortest relationship on record. He knew he would need something to occupy his mind. Continuing his father’s work to help his company branch out more seemed a good use of time.

Sitting in his office on the last hour of the day everyone would be gone at 4:30 PM and because he was late he knew he was working on certain code issues for user needs while trying to carefully craft an apology and explanation. He included four pictures he had done of Katherine from memory each time. She’d never known he’d made any of her and Garrick was only sharing them because he was desperate to fix a voice to text omission of words. The first picture was watercolor of her in the shower with him. He clipped his assignment review to it. She would know that he was relying on his experiences with her to get through art class. The second (going clockwise) was a reverse gradient white in black digital sketch he had printed on photo quality paper and then after everyone left he 3-D printed a simple frame for it. The third picture was a perspective in color pencil and oil pastels of the picture she sent him of her diving off a building. The last one was oil and acrylic of them sleeping together.

On the last picture his teacher was talking about putting enough work together to perform a showing at the University. On the third picture the personal note next the letter “A” was this person must be very special to you. On his second picture his teacher mentioned she enjoyed watching Garrick stream his approach to sketching and answering questions from his classmates and others viewing it on Twitch. Garrick left them stacked together with wax paper separating each one. He left a hand written note attached to the ribbon he tied them all up with.

If you are feeling that you mean nothing to me then answer me this dilemma and I’ll leave you be. But if you can’t tell me then maybe my feelings in each of these pictures can reach past your fear of being abandoned. Its quest to find your heart and care for it can be called a success?

My dilemma is why can I not get you out of my head?
My first peaceful night since prison belongs to you.
If you’re nothing to me then did I fall for a dream?
Your touch brought me back from the brink of rage.
How does “Do I mean nothing to you” do that?
– Garrick

Sandwiched between the last two pictures was another, longer letter:


If you really don’t want me anymore I will respect your wishes and keep my distance. I guess I am a bad text sender, I didn’t check to make sure voice to text sent everything exactly the way I wanted it to come across. I had been nothing but excited and to scared to ask if we were a couple, dating, friends with benefits, monogamous, open, polyamorous, or something else. I had not wanted to say dating to my boss on the chance I was misrepresenting your intention to me. The coward in me also didn’t want to get my hopes up in case I was wrong. I NEVER thought in the remainder of my life that anyone would want me. Your heart was broken when he just left you. Until you though, I had never known a kind touch other that my mother, Cynthia, or my father, Cuthbert.

So when you said we were dating I finally allowed myself to think maybe this “thing” between us wasn’t the pretty lady taking pity on the broken man. Before you the only person that came close to understanding that in me was Patsy. However, rationally if I help her get home and stop Murder Master she would ultimately stay in her world and I would return to mine. Even if the feelings were genuine and mutual, their is no basis for a long term relationship there.

On an ethical note the other reason I never acted my feelings was a logic lesson I learned from my father about old fairy tales that exploited the women in them. He hated when the protagonist would rescue a damsel and giver her succor (a home and food). Then over a period of time the “demented” author thought was socially acceptable (again this is never acceptable), the Protagonist would fall in love. How is the damsel suppose to act or react? How could it ever be real? If she refuted the protagonist’s advances would she loose her succor? Would she be tossed to the wayside? It’s tantamount to crappy social veneer to disguise it for what it is, a rape story. I refuse to be this person since I have been the victim of this. As long as Patsy would live under my roof and in my care NOTHING could ever happen, even if short term. I hope this allays your fears about her as competition. I have explained this to her as well, because open communication and honest discourse is the path to long term happiness.

They say an expert is someone whom has made every mistake in a very narrow field. I am not an expert when it comes to love. I am an expert in interpersonal communication when you might get stabbed, raped, strangled, beaten, isolated, or killed. Being very honest, and adhering to anything you say like a promise is how you survive among sharks and other killers.

So here is my declaration to you in writing that can be shared with whom you will. As long as you want me as your partner in dating I believe this grants me the status of boyfriend and conversely bestows upon you the status of girlfriend to each other. I am new to this and do not presume to assume this makes us exclusive as the definition states on monogamy, or if we are still looking at sharing a partner together/separate/etc., as describe in ethical non-monogamy. I also accept that until these details are ironed out between us I will try to do nothing to upset you or discredit you in any fashion. I will try to learn what a boyfriend’s responsibilities are to their chosen partner or partners (again I am not going to assume I know your preferred relationship style).

You have my apologies that I needed a formal style letter to convey a romantic intent.

– Garrick

Garrick nodded when he had reread it for the thirtieth time. It was 5:40 PM as he carried the package back into his house. He went downstairs to check on his three remaining Shorties. They exclaimed they would have the homework done tonight. Garrick said they had till 11 PM or their Internet access would shut off. They verbally acknowledge and go back to their raid. Garrick went upstairs and saw a sign on his door in Katherine’s hand writing “STAY OUT!” He realized that it was mostly aimed at the Shorties but also likely meant for him as well now. He set the package on the kitchen island and left one of his business cards folded into a tent. He wrote Kat’s name on it and gathered up everything for the Giving Tree and left.

When he got there early he put his Mallic Robotics apron on. He felt that he got a text message but decided to read it later because he didn’t believe it was anything other than how he had screwed up again. He waves to a few people he knows and begins to get dinner going. While the food is beginning to cook Ramona comes into the kitchen and she is beaming with glee! She comes over and he takes her hand and dips his forehead to touch it. Classic southern gentleman greeting it may have been in these days it was archaic and almost forgotten. Garrick was hoping because he did not kiss her hand she’d get the we’re friends hint. However, even when he cleaned his hands again and switched gloves she was still acting smitten. He tried to ask about the last evening and she described the prior night visit of the two Mavericks: the Gryphon and Miss Amazing. Apparently, the Gryphon had told poor Juliana that he would be here tonight to check on her. However, she was still at Koan Memorial Hospital, along with about half of the refugees from the night before. Smoke inhalation being the most common reason, and Juliana’s leg being the most severe.

It was just after 7:30 PM when Brandon Mallic arrived and he excused himself to talk with his boss. Ramona left them both, and he explained about Juliana. He gives him a promising report about his teams projects. Then he asks about two days off to work on designing a micro fusion reactor. Brandon puts his arm and hand on Garrick gently, “Let me see if I got this, you want to take time off work to work? Yes take two days off, but for the love of everything holy do not do that. Whatever you got cooking in your head can wait till you come back. Besides that lady back there looks as though she needs more of your time.” Brandon moves away to leave and talks to the Director and a few other people before saying his goodbyes.

Ramona starts talking about a book she is reading and a church she has been attending, the Church of the Reflectionist. It sounded like a cult to Garrick the more he heard or a pyramid scam of some kind. He was very respectful when she showed him her triangle above a dashed line and an inverted triangle below pendant. He made plans to be willing to attend a gathering in two Thursdays when new members were encouraged to go through orientation. He tries to turn the conversation back to the Mavericks that were here the previous night. When Ramona feels convinced that the man Garrick was just talking to may be the Gryphon, who she thought was supposed to show up tonight, Garrick mentions that armor like the Gryphon wears could easily disguise sex and appearance. Ramona nods and begins to wonder if the person in the armor was a woman instead of a man. Off she went to see if she can find the Gryphon in disguise among those present.

As Garrick left that night he sent a text and encrypted email to the Geist about this new church/cult. When he pulled into his house he finally check the unread text message from Katherine:

💓 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖 💝

“Well, it appears she likes the pictures,” he thought to himself. When he headed in he found out the Shorty squad had not finished their homework. So he told Optimus to shut it off till they had it done and he scanned and checked it for accuracy. While decrying this loss of game privileges he saw them awkwardly work together to get it done. His father had always said everyone’s carrot is different but motivating nonetheless. He text Katherine he was home and heading upstairs. He saw the sign on his door was gone and he sat at the kitchen island. She apologized for not understanding how new he is to this and overreacting. He said while he was sad he felt bad she had to revisit all the hormonal changes of a late teenager. They promised each other to be better at communicating, and then she dropped the bombshell.

Earlier that day while Garrick was brainstorming his reactor project Patsy almost woke up but Katherine realized it was a bad dream. She went in to her mind to look and see if it was serious, it shocked her to see Patsy fighting Jake in her world! Gryphon had been informed about Jake being from a different dimension, and he had talked with Patsy enough to know that there were many differences between her world and theirs, some subtle some not subtle. Perhaps, in her world the Jake of Millennium Station got rid of problems he didn’t want to deal with and he sealed the dimension Garrick came from! That version of Jake had become the super villain, Murder Master! He knew what he was going to be doing in the morning with this info. He asked Katherine if she would mind staying the night as he was going to sleep on the floor. She was excited and then let down when she heard the sleeping arrangement. When she told him not to worry because Shorty and her both went to Waingroh High School and even he was doing well. When he found out she lived in the Dreadzone he mentioned for the second time she could have the room on the first floor if she’d rather live here. In Garrick’s mind anything was a step up to that hellhole!

Kathrine was so excited and made plans to move in the next day since Garrick was staying home! Wait… Second time? Then she realized Optimus had mentioned that room had been assigned to her before, had she missed the first time Garrick had invited her to move in? She saw him looking around the very industrial home that had no windows to speak of. He started nodding and realized Katherine had not really moved anything but had done a deep cleaning of the second floor. She told him his roombas sucked at her version of clean and he was forced by empirical evidence to agree. Kat ran down stairs to check out “her room” on the first floor. Her badge caused the door to unlock at two feet from touching it! She went inside and saw that it was 25ft. by 25ft. in size! This could easily have been 4 and maybe 5 different bedrooms anywhere else in Brisby Flats! Four of her could sleep in the bed, and the second bed had been converted into a 5′ deep by 10′ wide and 8′ tall storage unit. With the extra mattress rolled up in plastic wrap and stored above it. There was a post it note taped to multi-tiered 10′ wide by 3′ deep desk.

“I look forward to being partners in crime”stopping” with you. :-)”

There was dust on the desk and note, suggesting it was likely a week old. When she touched it the 27 inch wide transparent display with holo-projected keyboard went dim as the top tier of the desk expanded up and a TV with speakers was now visible with game controllers and a remote. She turn to thank Garrick and realized Garrick had slipped away. She found him in a corner of his room curled up on the floor, asleep. He had managed to take off his apron and rolled it into an almost non-existent pillow. Two spare bed sheets were rolled up and laid out like a do not cross line. There was a note in his handwriting taped above him:

Kat, Patsy,
Please let me wake up on my own, I have strong mental associations to sleeping on concrete. However, I can’t stay awake any longer I need sleep.
– Garri..

Then pen trails off without even finishing his name. Katherine sees him twitch and punch the wall. She concentrates and just scans the surface thoughts. After 60 seconds she breaks the connection. A dark room and a prison guard with seven prisoners. They are beating and doing despicable things to Garrick! The guard walks over and cups Garrick’s chin while he is suspended spread eagle. When the guard asks about the boxes from the truck and he refuses to talk. The guard nods and glowing red hot thread rod is dragged across his back while he is violated by another inmate. The only verbal thoughts she got was “this is how I loose my virginity?” She was shaking and wanted to snap that guard in half, fold him like a pretzel, and use his compressed body to beat the other prisoners until they stopped moving. For a ‘moment’ she didn’t dislike Patsy at all for giving him any comfort. Then a smile took over his face and he seemed at peace. With great trepidation she peaked in on his thoughts once more and it was an image of them and Katherine in the image had just fallen asleep on his chest. Now the thoughts read, “With enough of these I will destroy the bad ones!”

Katherine knew what she meant to him. And now she had a good idea how she could finally show him how much she cared for him. She removed her hands from the table, not noticing that her angry grip had left an indent in the metal.


Art by: AZ_Artisan