Tag: Gramercy

They Say Time Heals All Wounds

They Say Time Heals All Wounds

April 10th, 2024 – Wednesday: 6 AM

Darting away from Century Plaza about ten minutes before 6AM Garrick could still hear the hum of the city as he flew in black sweats. Trying very hard to shake Ameera’s playfully, pouting, face as he disentangled himself this morning to leave for sword practice. Aircar traffic was low at this time of day so he ducked lower between buildings excited to get back to Master Tyrone Nitobe’s class.

Landing about a minute before class started the students and the teacher looked a bit surprised as to his arrival. He was now very glad about the strict no phone policy of his sensei. While he had made a number of friendly acquaintances in the class he knew most of the guys were getting tired of and use to the ladies trying to flirt with the superhero in the ‘proverbial room’. Having his identity public as Garrick only seem to embolden some of them. Master Nitobe always squashed it if it got out of hand. Today was no exception, however, he let it linger a few extra minutes as personal way of acknowledging his actions in saving everyone. When Garrick explained to the group that he was 30 to 40 feet away from two heroes getting blown apart by a few of the active clones of the Ultramarine everyone paused. Garrick looked at his sensei and said he needed today to help meditate and process those images and that’s why he showed up to class. He wanted something more normal than the last 24 hours.

A number of students whom either had been in or had family that had served in: military, law enforcement, or medical professions. Instantly understood what he had seen and what he needed, they quietly spoke to anyone trying to get close to Garrick. Master Nitobe carefully went through the group lessons and hand picked whom would spar with Garrick that day. At the end of class Garrick was surprised when Master Nitobe called him up and nodded at the class. All of them and his sensei bowed and they thanked him for his service. They could see his stunned expression and class was dismissed. Nothing else was said and Garrick was allowed to leave without anyone trying to accost him.

April 14th, 2024 – Sunday: 11:33 AM

Garrick had just looked at the last issue of the Everyman paper targeting his team

“S” IS NOT FOR SOBER – Targeting the Rubberband Man
“A” IS NOT FOR ALLY – Targeting the Black Phantom
“V” IS NOT FOR VIRTUE – Targeting Hank of all people.
“I” IS NOT FOR INNOCENT – Targeting Caedechron.
“O” IS NOT FOR OBEDIENT – Targeting the Beast and his special consciousness.
“R” IS NOT FOR REPENTANT – Targeting Garrick “The Gryphon” Faulkner

Katherine had been looking at his reaction as he read the paper. The Garrick article contained interviews from some of the other folks who were in prison with Garrick, telling stories about the “infamous” Professor Gack and the deaths he caused. The article included information about his younger days too, described in a way that obviously reflects Adeline’s viewpoint, though from an interview with her husband. He wonders if the man is even capable of remorse, noting that Garrick’s sister has been in an institution for years and he’s never once tried to make contact – for all the good it would do.

Garrick made numerous frantic calls and used A.R.C.H.I.E. to help find out what he feared. The year he was released early was the same year she was institutionalized in Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, in central Georgia. Garrick immediately flew over to try and see her, but he wasn’t allowed to see her because there was a restraining order against him, from the husband. It was filed the day after Garrick revealed his identity as The Gryphon.

That evening Katherine had Janosh set the record straight regarding those portions of the late Dr. Cuthbert Faulkner’s journal. The Monday papers ran stories about a sobbing Gryphon pounding on the door, screaming his sister’s name and “I had no idea. Your letter said you wished I was dead. So I stayed away.” Richard Gray showing up to drive him home and offer to pay for the dented door.

The narrative never belittled the husband or Adeline and their children however the facts regarding Adeline and her torture of Garrick were not sugar coated. Next to that headline was everything Garrick was willing to take to the grave regarding his sister including the letter she wrote. It portrayed Adeline as being a child having a hard time at handling grief that grew into an adult whom came to act on her brother in the manner he enabled to continue. Cuthbert Faulkner was tarnished slightly in the eyes of history for not taking a better role in raising his children.

Social media and everyone had an opinion with Garrick being seen as far more tolerant and compassionate. Katherine asked Janosh to over time make in roads and politely wear the husband down in hopes the brother and sister could both heal. Time will tell how successful that will be.

April 16th, 2024 – Tuesday: 6:02 PM

Outside the Giving Tree

Eliza Gunn was surprised when Garrick “The Gryphon” Faulkner walked up to introduce himself wearing black work boots, press tan pants with cargo pockets, and a black, denim, button down shirt embroidered with the orange and white logo for Mallic-Faulkner Technologies. He wore a rather robust golden bracelet sculpted to look like a gryphon biting its tail. It looked very secure and did not move around his left wrist. She mentioned that she’d expected a different outfit and Garrick shook her hand saying that might be a great opener for the interview and he cocked his head while smiling. Eliza finally understood what Kelly Thompson had been yammering on about.

One of the recent things that had made it onto the superhero forums was pictures of Garrick with four different women: A) A blonde, white woman; B) a blonde, middle-eastern woman with color streaked hair, C) A blue hair white woman which many took to understand as Miss Amazing out of costume, D) A black woman whom was nearly as tall as Gryphon. The term playboy and man-whore had been tossed around depending upon whom was posting and their favor of the Gryphon. Only a few people thought about polyamory as a reason for being seen with the women on a consistent basis.

“Hello Century Station, this is Eliza Gunn, reporting live in the Norwood sub-district. We’re at the charity organization the Gryphon has been a long standing patron of, The Giving Tree. With me,” as the camera shot changes from a close up to a wide angle, “is the S.A.V.I.O.R. team captain, Garrick “The Gryphon” Faulkner, all around renaissance hero.”

“Thank you, Ms. Gunn, but I’m just a man whom works for a robotics company and is a volunteer member of the C.S.P.D.

Flipping over a small pad off camera “As president of the Faulkner Division of Mallic-Faulkner Technologies by day and the Gryphon of Norwood at night how do you find time to even sleep?”

Garrick looked around, “I can think of three people that put you up to asking me that question.” Garrick gave a hearty laugh before continuing, “The fact is one of my powers is not needing to sleep. It’s interesting because when I choose to sleep it’s to enjoy using my dreams as the avenue of processing countless thoughts at the same time. I believe some people call the process active dreaming.”

“You brought up a point I know countless users of the superhero forums want to know. There are a plethora of pictures showcasing you being seen out and about with four different women. I am also curious which one of them, if any, is related to your son, Sherman Faulkner?”

Garrick made a face suggesting he was impressed how quickly and deep she dug in on him, “Okay, can bring you bring up the photos on your phone and I can answer those questions? As to the information regarding my son. None of the women are his mother. Sherman lost his family and chose to stay with me when he had nothing and I stepped up to make sure he had a place to stay. In many ways I feel more like an older brother than a father figure. Sherman to me is family now and I hope that addresses the issue for you.”

Eliza’s tech person takes her phone and taps a few things on it then hands it back. The viewers see the pictures as follows:

  • Garrick having dinner Constance.
  • Garrick performing a morning jog with Ameera.
  • Garrick having coffee with Mavis.
  • Garrick hanging out with Katherine doing bummer cars. It’s from last Saturday since she has blue hair.

As he tapped each one in succession, “Girlfriend, Girlfriend, just friends, and Girlfriend that also lives with me.” The viewers saw a blue highlighted frame on their screens as he touched each picture.

“Some of our viewers I’m sure are surprised that you would admit to dating multiple women on air.”

“I don’t know why,” he seemed perplexed as though this might be normal, “There are plenty of single parents that date, and I just happen to be in a polyamorous relationship with three of the four women. All four of them are at least aware of each other and the last two have met in person. Not only have all three of my girlfriends met but they have their own private chat server where they talk all the time. I hide nothing from the three that have graced me with being my friends and partners. You might say my life is one giant exercise in time management, but I am a very happy man.”

“It sounds like you have it all, why are you donating your time here?”

Eliza regretted her wording when she saw his brow furrow, “Ms. Gunn, it is vitally important to remember the people that gave you a hand “up” from earlier situations where you find yourself near bottom. When I was released from Gramercy years ago on parole, I vowed to be better. Were it not for the Giving Tree those first few months I would’ve starved to death. So when I got employed and even later when I got my powers I made sure to give back to the place that helped to keep me alive and whole. I learned to cook in prison and have been getting pretty good at it I might add.”

He motioned for Malik, whom was leading a group of kids with food set up a spread and began serving the T.V. crew, “I taught them how to make chicken marsala because this week’s meal was Italian. Please try some.” Eliza had some on air and you can’t fake the reaction of happy surprise. She took an extra bite before handing it back to Malik and thanking him.

“That was incredible! They could start a cooking program here!”

“Well, if you know any chef’s wanting to help people find careers. Then by all means send them over to talk with the center director.”

“How did everyone here take your revealing your identity?”

“To be fair I sprung that on everyone, while everyone here at the center took it very well. Not everyone in my life was happy to be unprepared at such a revelation. We all worked through it though and I feel have become stronger and closer.”

“Would you mind changing tracks here in light of recent events?”

“No, ask away.”

“The reports, testimonies, and video footage suggest you deliberately set off a nuclear explosion off the coast. Over a hundred clones of the Ultramarine were found alongside Synistry’s near-complete roster, with the Scream Queen currently in Gramercy. I’m sure everyone has seen the footage streamed live regarding the rogue A.I. Thanatos and Synistry. How did you even know you could do it and why?”

Garrick sighed slightly, “I knew it because my father and I had built the facility in secret before we revealed our first “public” prototype of the Bio-Dome the day I gave my T.E.D. Talk about it on YouTube. As the E.P.A. has pointed out the design is similar to the one Iron Mike used in that it left no lasting radiation. I’ve often wondered how Iron Mike got a design that from historical records emulates my father’s design. However, we were not the only people trying to replicate the Daedalus power source. So it may likely never get answered,” Eliza looked shocked expecting she would have to draw some of this out. In seconds a link appears on the screen for people watching with touch displays allowing them to bring up the T.E.D. Talk in another tab or a mini window. “As to the why, it was to save everyone but they had also personally pissed me off.”

“How so?”

“I surprised my father when I single-handedly built my first A.I. using my late mother as the baseline, Cynthia Faulkner. My goal was to be able to talk with a version of her and I wouldn’t be so lonely. I was a teenager when I did this, but I didn’t truly understand how special what I had done would be. When I realized that Thanatos had stolen a part of the code I’d lovingly refer to as the last shred I had of my mother. Followed by Synistry perverting the experiment to provide not just power but sustainable living to the planet in every corner of the globe. I finished writing the code string that would auto-execute their destruction as I cut them off from the outside world.”

“You sacrificed your past to save the future?”

“Yes, I believe in the promise of Century Station,” Garrick nodded and looked sad yet somehow impressive.

“I did some checking and you’ve been to see Caedechron a few times. What are your thoughts regarding your continued support.

“Cai was his name when he was alive, thugs of Urien Daniels were sent to kill him. They succeeded when Urien Daniels tipped them off Cai had learned about their illegal activities. Let me be clear, Cai’s mortal body died and he was effectively murdered. Just before his death he was able to upload his consciousness into a robot he’d been working on. He murdered the responsible person after he’d been physically killed. His quality of existence was irrevocably altered and he sought revenge quietly. I don’t condone murder unless it is in defense of a person or parties unable to defend themselves. However, I feel he had extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into account when the justice department decides his fate. Regardless I will stick by him and help him stand should he fall because I have no interest in being a fair-weather friend. Cavalry knows that, Miss Amazing knows that.”

“Whom were you defending in your words when you murdered Synistry?”

“You, your crew, my teammates, my girlfriends, a woman I saved on a roof top in January. My sister, and all of Century Station. Perhaps even planet Earth if every single clone had been unleashed.”

“Your sister that was reported to be in an institution you’ve never visited until very recently?”

“Yes, however, per her husband’s restraining order I am not allowed to visit and once I knew that had happen to Adeline, I tried. Given the documents that have been made public in the papers its not hard to see how I might have missed reaching out to her. Next question,” his tone impressed moving on or finishing the interview there.

Eliza weighs the risks of poking the bear and decides to move on, “Polls are indicating that Mayor Zardona will win a re-election and that the federal government is inclined to ease impending sanctions. What do you say to that given rumors about the Mayor not being your biggest fan?”

“The Mayor has a rough job and I don’t envy him. That said I want him to win because I believe he’s the right man to help restore law and order to every part of Century Station.

“Thank you to Garrick “The Gryphon” Faulkner for giving us the time to get to know you a little better?”

“Absolutely, make sure to get some more food before you go the kids worked hard to make sure there was enough,” Garrick gestured to the spread on the two tables set up. He turned to the camera to give a farewell smile and wave. The feed went down and Ameera and Ramona were waiting inside with everyone to congratulate him. Even the woman he saved with the mangled leg was there sporting her leg still in a power assisted splint until her ankle completely healed and therapy was over.

April 18th, 2024 – Thursday

‘The Magic of Books’ was Garrick’s destination during his lunch break. It was fun to drive his truck for him because people often looked for him in the sky and not driving around. When he got there the place was locked, empty and a for sale sign was up. It looked like Charlie took Garrick’s advice and got out of town. There was no forwarding address when he poked around online regarding the property.

As far as S.A.V.I.O.R. was going today had one other item of note. A psychiatric doctor named Johanna Fullard was hired to be the team’s psychic psychiatrist. This woman is the hero who was once known as Joan of Arc – one of the founding members of the Centurions. In a statement at the small press conference where the Mayor welcomed her on board the team once again. She says her “hero” days are behind her, as she’s decided she can be more helpful in this role than she ever was as an active Centurion.

April 22nd, 2024 – Monday

HyperiaA few days after discovering Charlie closed his store and moved out of town, Patsy shows up to join what’s left of S.A.V.I.O.R. She transforms into Hyperia and stays transformed, never turning back. She devotes herself full-time into being a hero and lets the work fully consume her. She maintains a good relationship with the rest of the team, but she never talks about anything personal. Whenever Garrick is accidentally charming or seductive around her she suddenly finds an excuse to leave and go on patrol or do research or be anywhere but there. She deliberately avoids doing anything that might make it seem like she’s vying for Garrick’s affections or interfering with any of Garrick’s relationships.

Dr. Fullard is concerned about Hyperia/Patsy, and they have sessions often, but nothing seems to change. When Garrick was asked by Dr. Fullard about Hyperia/Patsy he said she reminds him of how he felt a few years after getting out of prison. “Everything is very raw, and she talked about feeling unworthy of her power, that the gifts were like an intoxicating drug. Right now I suspect she’s feeling as though she has to prove she can beat the power and do good before she can forgive herself. It’s going to be a long road. In my opinion she still has some survivor’s guilt from the alternate dimension she hails from. We may all be broken in some ways but its how we deal with it that is what defines us. Time will tell how she handles it but I’ll always be there to help.” Dr. Fullard nodded silently while making notes.

May 1st, 2024 – Wednesday

Garrick was informed that the widow Imelda Zarovsky passed away that morning. Janosh informs him she left her estate and wealth to Garrick. It is noted in the autopsy that she had an odd physical abnormality – her teeth were sharper and more pointed than a normal human’s, but otherwise she seemed to have died of old age. No foul play is suspected. In dealing with her estate and personal effects Garrick discovers that she destroyed much of her personal history, though enough of it was left behind to suggest her and her late husband Emil weren’t human, but were instead aliens known as Erishik Dopplegangers who were trying to hide on Earth and live peaceful lives, defying all preconceived notions of their race. This evidence is inconclusive, and raises more questions than it answers, but that’s where that story seems to end.

Garrick makes this the house where he comes to think and wants to be alone. Over time it becomes equipped with robotic assistants he designs with A.R.C.H.I.E.’s manufacturing capabilities. The S.A.V.I.O.R. A.I. begins calling him “The Idea Man” for a nickname. Time will tell how such a friendship will affect the world.

May 10th, 2024 – Friday, after 10 PM

Public opinion of S.A.V.I.O.R. had been on a serious upswing. The “take no survivor” methods of S.A.V.I.O.R. seemed to really resonate with many folks. The Everyman was STILL experiencing a media backlash from the general public. Crime was starting to curtail given S.A.V.I.O.R.’s confirmed win and destruction of Synistry. Scream Queen being the only surviving member and stuck in Gramercy Island for the foreseeable future. Papa Zombie had eluded capture and was at large but keeping a low profile for the time being.

Garrick and Katherine had just left Constance’s place in Xenophan. Both Ameera and her had moved back to their homes last week since the security measures were finished that Amanda had ordered. All of them had a family dinner while Shorty #5, Sherman Faulkner, was off on a Worlds Online – Gizergleam Peaks raid with Horace. Before his departure that night Constance reminded him that his new Gel-Matrix brain had worked in the robot A.I. they had been testing on with flying colors. Should things go well production use could start as soon as Spring of 2025. When she asked him about the project name he smiled and told her he’d picked up on the word Nexus from all the talks of magic and ley lines. He liked the confluence of ideas it had suggested to him when he thought about it. Ashmadiel made a great project name because no one would guess it or the true friend and partner it obfuscated. He mentioned to Constance about talking with Amanda regarding making a miniature version for human subjects, especially those using cybernetics. Amanda thought it had merit and would run focus groups to check on market viability. Constance mentioned she’d help in any way she could.

Gryphon and Miss Amazing had just arrived in the air above Norwood and tapped their comm units. Gryphon informed A.R.C.H.I.E. & S.T.E.V.E. that they were on shift and would start working the southern half of Brisby that night, barring any emergency calls. Their optimistic replies made Gryphon chuckle, as he thanked them and began his patrol with Miss Amazing. Calling into each precinct as the A.I.s informed them when they crossed jurisdictional boundaries. A group of sirens could be heard in the distance alongside the crack of gunfire. “Duty Calls! Onward!” rang out Ashmadiel’s voice his head as he grinned at his partner and flew off!

Art by: AZ_Artisan
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Heldamm! Is That Patsy?

Heldamm! Is That Patsy?

March 28th, 2024 – Thursday Night

The new guy, Rubberband Man, had proven he was great at infiltration, perhaps equally as good as Black Phantom. He got inside and had remained hidden with no reports of anyone dying to achieve his objective. “A plus” as far as the Gryphon was concerned. There was a brief moment as he entangled the “First Reflector” or Pope of the Reflectionist movement. That one or two of the team were worried they may have had the wrong person! The media nightmare for S.A.V.I.O.R. would be nigh catastrophic! Once his monstrous face was revealed and Covenant recognized him Gryphon felt far more sure of their plan.

Hopefully, there was incriminating evidence that could be presented or they were going to get raked over in the media from that Reflectionist Reporter on WCTV! Finding that information would be the only ‘religious experience’ Gryphon had been planning on having tonight. He had used his contact from the Giving Tree, Ramona, to front the reason for his being at the gathering this Thursday. Where the Church would welcome newcomers each week. So, when things started to get ‘active’ he had to remind himself to stay within normal parameters. He made use though of his supernatural, celestial-bestowed strength to grab innocent people trying to protect their religious leader and carry them to the door.

He was super thrilled Miss Amazing was not there that night. It was before the group had moved into action when he saw Carl talking to “her”. Patsy’s hair was much shorter and a different shade of brown with some small streaks of blond highlights. In the distance most people would miss such a small detail. Not Gryphon, he has drawn her over 37 times in class, even when the model was different he’d put her face on the drawing. He’d done it digital, charcoal, chalk, pencils, Copic colored markers, watercolor, acrylic and oils, etc.

In his head he was repeating February 7th, 6pm over and over. Verbally what Ramona and another member of the church had heard was, “Ha burb, uh, fe, burb, sveaaaa, burb…” When he overcame his complete surprise, he passed it off successfully as dehydration and they got some water. Gryphon was so off his rocker he made a self-degrading excuse that he had to check on a work thing as he sent Patsy a text.

[“You look great with short hair!”]

He had the presence of mind to not do anything more overt when he had also noticed a mage from Antarctica. Perhaps they were working together? He still had the wand, which was sitting in his glove box of his truck this very moment. His heart soared that she was alive and when he looked up to see if she saw the text he had lost visual on her in the crowd and Carl was beginning to change while Alex ducked under the table he was at to change into the Covenant.

Later, during the commotion to grab the “First Reflector” he saw her just standing there stunned by something he couldn’t pinpoint. Yelling out, seemingly randomly to everyone, but her, “HELDAMM!” Then without missing a beat to everyone else, “Please everyone that person has a gun.” She made eye contact with him, and in that moment Gryphon felt everything fade away to black with just a light on her and him. In this moment of shadow and two lights she held his gaze and then turned and she walked away. Blinking out of that moment back to the real world from his head she had turned and was walking out with a large group, ushering them to safety! The dimensional prison was over she should of had her powers back!?!? Where was Hyperia? Where was Heldamm’s Harbinger of Justice?

A piece of his heart broke in that moment. Oathbound. Promises were everything to Gryphon now. He’d learned it was a form of currency in prison. Patsy asked and he promised to respect her privacy and new life until she was ready to meet up with him once again. Never had he hated the last seven weeks more than this moment he had to let her walk out of his life once again. What’s worse is in the middle of everything “Carl” says he’s going away with someone that has answers about him. HE SPOKE TO HER! His departure was broadcast over comm units so no one on the team actually saw him leave.


Even as dysfunctional as their relationships seemed at times. Aside from Constance, Brandon, and Janosh, these people were all he had to call actual friends and they were dropping like flies!

Like a mantra he repeated internally, “Stay on the mission!”

As a rare graduate of the Gramercy Penitentiary School of Emotion Control, Gryphon, got back to the job at hand while he felt the lights in his world begin shutting off. Dimmer, Darker, until only blackness was there to greet him.

A fiery ball of light blazed suddenly in front of him. “You think so little of the rest of them? Of me?” The voice of his sword, Ashmadiel, spoke to him from within the blazing fire. “You are surrounded by more lights than you realize, Garrick Faulkner.” One by one fiery images blazed around him – Constance, Brandon, Janosh, Ameera, Katherine, Shorty, Nicholas, Richard, Alex, Calvin, Ramona, and the form of Ashmadiel herself, golden and resplendent.

“You are surrounded by lights, and you encounter more almost every day. But the most important light… is you.” She pointed at him and a glow emanated from him, banishing the darkness away from all around him. “Shine, Garrick Faulkner. Shine.” The vision ended, and Garrick was back where he started, in the Church of Reflections with the rest of S.A.V.I.O.R..

And after that beautiful vision, he’s greeted with a vision of Cai’s ugly mug screaming at him, “WHO THE @#!^ING @#($ &@#!BALLS ARE JOHN AND SHERYL? STERYL? STELLA? WHOEVER?

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Art by: AZ_Artisan

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!


Remembering Gramercy, the Devil’s Rock

Remembering Gramercy, the Devil’s Rock

“Hey Gary, got a minute?”

2:45pm – January 10th, 2024 – Garrick looked up from his data-table, a smaller version of the one he had upstairs in his room. He was watching some code perform its functions in the test’s QA environment. While he couldn’t make any changes this was suppose to be a replica of Mallic Robotics’ production environment. So far all the changes he was intending to update on the micro laser etcher for micro circuitry was going smoothly. He had copied QA when he sent out an update that barring an unexpected error the patch should be ready to go for the next for the flexible joint hip socket for the [REDACTED] project that wanted to make their [REDACTED] unit available for pilots.

“Yeah Horace, you still good for the raid on Gizergleam Peaks Friday? Trip already replied and it won’t be the same without you.”

“Oh, yeah, totally down with crushing the frozen tyranny of GlacialMaw the Frost Wyrm! No, I had an issue with my son this morning and needed to speak with you about it.”

“Sure man, come in, what the heck could be wrong with Heydar though? That kid is the most well behaved child I have ever met.”

“Seeing you makes my heart happy and sad because Heydar was working at the Giving Tree last night…”

‘Shit,’ thought Garrick as he failed to remember Heydar had been donating time for school credits in the community service portion of the baccalaureate program of the high-school he goes to.

“…he said a new kid, Malik, had shown up and started something but you stopped it and then let him ‘hit’ you to work out his anger? I told him to stop telling stories but he swore on the Koran he wasn’t lying. One look at you and I know the truth now.”

“Horace, Heydar, is not lying and let me explain last night.”

Both men talk for about 15 minutes as Garrick brings Horace up to speed on what happen and when he left. Then he lied and told him when he got back home he slept in his shower in an ice bath, muscle relaxers, and just under a deadly amount of pain-killers. Garrick hated being decent at lying but it has saved his life more times than he could count on fingers and toes. Ashmadiel started to whisper in his head and he ‘thought’ back, “Save it for after work, not now.”

“Gary, you look perfectly fine, I would not have driven myself home in that bloody state! You trying for some kind of humanitarian medal? What the hell?”

Garrick sighs, “No, this was a horribly effective trick I learned in Gramercy. Warden Harker, had somehow figured out how to make a human look presentable for wellness checks if he got just 24 hours notice, ” this part about the trick was not a lie, “from his contacts in Mayor Zardona’s office.”

“Bullshit Gary.”

“Why Horace? Is it bullshit because you find it uncomfortable to think these situations happen,” Garrick stands and lifts his shirt to show some of the old stab wounds, “Do you think these are just party decorations?”

Watching Garrick tuck his shirt back in, “There’s the Century Station Prison Authority’s oversight committee, they would have put a stop to this.”

“Horace I could shit in my hand right now and those daisies wouldn’t even have gotten to the grievance I filed in my first year. Come on man, I was thrilled to find out about the ‘pretty dog show’ trick. Imagine how many ‘Waingroh Sunsets’ the inmates suffered until he figured out the little trick? Was it foolproof, HELL NO! The better in health you were in though the better it would work on you.”

“You think that kid, Malik, right? Was he worth it?”

“I would do the same for Heydar if you had died.”

Horace looked at Garrick and realized he would probably even adopt him if no one else in the Sharma household would, “Thank you Gary.”

“No problem buddy, and it looks like the QA tests are done and I am good to go. When you get back to your office just give the all clear, okay?”

“Sure thing.”

“Hug Heydar for me and let him know I’ll see him next week.”

Horace smiled and nodded with a wave as he walked out of his office and a few minutes later Brandon Mallic was standing in his doorway, “So, I hear you look amazing for a bloody punching bag, Rick.”

“Good day to you as well Mr. Mallic. Does Horace get paid extra for talking about every juicy bit of gossip? Sheesh.”

“Well, I care that you don’t get hurt in ‘our’ charitable contributions nor have a location in which anyone else might be hurt from the company. Oh thanks for getting the repair guy out to the bathrooms today.”

“No worries, boss, given the d-bags I’ve dealt with you’re Aces.”

“Good, set the automation and take tomorrow off. You’ve three people that work under you capable of the update for the micro laser.”

“Yeah but I’m, fin…”

“Gary, Rick, Garrick don’t make me use your full name it makes me think of some online Fantasy RPG the kiddies watch on Twitch.”

“…yes dad.”

“Wanker! You did not just call me… in 30 minutes I will be back down here and you best be resting somewhere other than here with ice and that Arabic looking girl security says is staying with you.”

“I can explain..”

“Gary, for the love of god I don’t give two shits as long as she is not a prostitute, and you don’t fuck her on office time,” Brandon emphasized each point by shaking his bionic index finger at him.

“Sure, no worries.”

“For the record, I heard about the ‘pretty dog show’ trick. They used it in the military in extreme cases for wounded soldiers, so I hope that helps you feel some closure. Look, just take care of yourself, be safe and when raises come around in March I think its time you finally take one. Save it sport,” as Garrick tried to interject, “You’ve been a fantastic landlord, two million a year in rent for 48,300 square feet is a godsend and you’ve only been taking $1.4 million, sending $400,000 a year back to the people that bought it for you, WHEN YOU ARE NOT LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO DO SO. Saving the rest for expenses and any repairs we need. We need you whole buddy, so as a friend take a day and heal. If you want to make me feel better take two, please.”

“I guess I’ll see you next week then?”

“Just keep the work phone handy if they have questions, 30 minutes then OUT.

Garrick nodded as he watched Brandon Mallic leave his office. In 29 minutes he had finished two other assignments and handed out marching orders to his team. Then a knock came from the door that connected to the ground level of his part of the building he lived in. There stood Patsy Palmer, holding the transparent smartphone Garrick had acquired for her with a timer showing he had less than a minute to go. “Dad’s going to be mad,” she said barely containing her laughter.

Garrick rolled his eyes and hit an app on a matching transparent phone and his office went into locked-mode with a timer on the screen to shut all doors. He came through the door and shut it behind him. Patsy noticed all the robotic vehicle statues on one of his desks before it shut, “So those were the ‘Transformers’ right?” Garrick nodded and asked how the research was going she told him his shouting at Horace distracted her. She told him she’d thought he needed help and then may have stayed leaning against the door longer than was necessary when she remembered she couldn’t change into Hyperia anymore.

“Gramercy must be as bad as, Castigation Penitentiary, in my world,” stated trying to appear sympathetic when she decided to poke the bear, “Do you want to talk about it, Gary?”

“Ugh, no one likes my name so it got shortened two ways by the front and back depending who liked Gary or Rick more. At the time finding a way to get a good, no great job after supermax hell that Gramercy was I told them call me anything except late for dinner. So this is the worst my day ever gets really.”

Noting to herself how his face changed she decided not to poke the bear that’s been nice, “Why do you go out and play hero, Garrick? You’ve made a cool four million come this March and will have paid the family that bought this for you 1.6 million!”

“Simple,” they head upstairs, “its part of the deal for the home. I have to not mix publicly with anything to do with their family and they made sure I would be taken care of. I have a lawyer I use to pass messages for me, discreetly.”

He left a door open as he popped into his room to change into sweat pants and shirt with a D20 that had vampire fangs and a stylized “8” for angry eyes. He told Patsy that he didn’t want to depress himself so he was going to get on the elliptical machine while he told her about his time in Gramercy. Downstairs on one side of the training area he got on one machine and Patsy the other.

“Ugh, okay where to begin. I’m sure you can understand there’s what the public sees and then there’s reality,” and Patsy nodded, “so the ‘pretty dog show’ parade was only for visitors. You did not get on a surprise trip to Gramercy Island. EVER! Even the Century Station Prison Authority’s oversight committee couldn’t get past Warden Harker.”

“Optimus, can you bring up my mugshot on Patsy’s elliptical? Patsy, please hold your thumb on the handle so Optimus can distinguish you and I.”

“Yes Garrick, here it is.”

“Not many make it out Gramercy other than a ‘Waingroh Sunset’ and for some people its the way they want it,” Garrick’s brow lowers, “Patsy, we’re going to bring up things about me that are not my shining moments. Some of them may cause you to think less of me, for that I am sorry but if you want me to continue I will tell you.”

“Yes I do want to know, but would you rather sit you’re pushing a little hard on the hand grips.”

Blushing he relaxes, “Sorry ’bout that ma’am, alright I have be moving so I can keep my anxiety in check when I talk about this. Therapist was right that I need to be active to help quell it. I know you’ve read up some on me and I admired you were thorough enough to check external and internal files for veracity.”

Garrick gulps,”Okay, I’m stalling, not many people ever make it out of the ‘Devil’s Rock’. Otherwise known as the United States Gramercy Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in the District of Century Station — and colloquially known as “Gramercy Island” — the GDX is the highest-security federal prison in the country, located in right here in Century Station. It houses some of the more notorious inmates in recent American history, from Victory City Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnov to September 11 conspirator Zakariel Moussaol to Gulf Coast City bomber Larry Nichols to Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent who became a Soviet spy. Inmates at the GDX are held in solitary confinement for 16 to 23 hours a day, and because of their crimes, many are never released.

However, I survived Gramercy, I sleep so little honestly not because I’m trying to do things that makes me likable, however, it’s a factor. I hate the dreams and I am trying to find a new family. I am the “Fallen Faulkner” as three different editorials and one broadcaster mentioned in the nightly news interviewing my sister, Adeline. At that point it didn’t even matter that I had committed a highway 53-foot truck jacking on Route 273 as it crested into Diego Verde. It didn’t matter I had built a safety bubble skin tag I stabbingly adhered to the drivers chest just before I yanked him from the truck. The force bubble allowed him to get knocked off the highway and roll down the hill before it gave out. That is the only reason they didn’t shove me in B-Block. While the court papers say everything is accounted for we know that isn’t true.”

Pasty watched him shake a wrist wearing a steel bracelet, obviously, Ashmadiel in disguise.

“I was arrested in latter half of 2015 on August 29th. It was an evening operation and at the time I was 18, my dreams had been stolen by the ‘Thug’, I had buried my father in a plot in ‘The Hill’, and my family had disowned me. Being blamed for your father’s death is a rough thing when you loved your father and saw him as your hero. The only reason I don’t plot her / its murder is my father would not have condoned such poor behavior. All of this,” as he waves an arm around, “is my attempt to follow my father and rebuild my life. To find a new dream and as the ‘Famous Faulkner’ has said:

I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.
Between grief and nothing I will take grief.

Let’s just say 18 and grief don’t end well. While I was waiting arraignment a guard tried to get ‘too friendly’ with me and then beat me within an inch of my life saying I reached for his gun upon rejection. Behavior risks to gen pop criminals and guards in other facilities get you a one way ticket to Gramercy. Here’s the take away from all of that prelude, none of it matters. Why I ended up in the Devil’s Rock stopped being important the second I arrived via hover truck. When you’re inside, all that matters is surviving. That’s an inside thing.”

From the neck down he was a whirl of motion, and sweat. His face and head were calm and his eyes were closed as he was talking as though he might be ashamed of what would be spoken next.

“I could see the sky from a small window in the CSPD lock up. After awhile even that can get to you, in fact it is the reasons I have not tried to get any windows in here. I know how to survive in a world made of concrete and vile darkness. Would you believe that ‘midnight working’ as a Maverick is actually a form of therapy for me to re-integrate into society? I mean how fucked up am I that dealing with bad guys feels more normal than trying to figure out dating?

Since I was new I had the first night jitters, especially when urine got tossed on me from a 3rd story cell when I was marched into “Alphaville” or A-Block. In the blocks, once inside the same reinforced style concrete walls like ours – but much thicker.
At the GDX, you can’t see nothing, not a highway out in the distance, not the sky. You know the minute you get there you won’t see any of that, not for years and years. You’re just shut off from the world. You feel it. It sinks in, that dread feeling. It’s just the harshest place you’ve ever seen. Nothing living, not so much as a blade of grass anywhere. My cell was all concrete. Every single thing, made out of concrete. The walls, floor, the desk, the sink, even the two tier bunk bed — slabs of concrete. The normal day for my first year consisted of work, which quickly changed when I started fixing machines and while I got better jobs moving to a unit that helped maintenance. Every one of the guards and senior inmates in my wing hated or like because someone else they hated or liked got shown up or reprimanded from my desire to fix things. There were nightly beatings and I earned a rep through blood that I could take a beating when all I ever said was that I must have fallen down to anyone from the medical staff. I NEVER SNITCHED!

Four or five months in my first year something about my case was interesting to someone outside as cops, feds, even a private eye that I got a horrible headache around. All of them would try to visit me about it and I knew if they could find nothing new then I could not be tried twice so I told them nothing! It was duing this time I fell to the lowest point of my life. One of the guards had plans for dealing with getting a final reprimand about the work conditions in his area. I had a pillowcase pulled over my head, I cuffed and ankle chained, then I was raped, repeatedly, in so many ways and I was begging for them to kill me!”

Patsy listened in horror as he described this being done to him for six months, every week three times each week. I was given so many drugs for the pain, all of it really became a waking nightmare and it makes physical intimacy an amazing hurdle for me. Patting you on the should, Patsy, was a big hurdle for me and so if your waiting for the other shoe to drop, there it is. My instinct to save someone overwrote my fear of intimacy and because I saved you, something made contact with you okay. So when I said on the roof I was not good with girls because I lost my virginity in prison.”

Along the sweat Patsy could make out the tears on his face, “I was on track to follow my father in dual doctorates: Robotics, and Bio-Dome Engineering. Do you know how much time that left for playing around, NONE! If it wasn’t for the Prince of Century Station helping me get over being pain pill addicted in drug rehabilitation I think I would’ve died. I told him enough about what happened and soon the rape stopped and new guards from SBCW were moved down to A-Block to retrain personal. The Prince helped me find something to focus on when times got rough for me. Rather than falling into the pit of my soul, was learn to cook and when the guards were back in A-Block on my eleventh month. I poisoned the chemical makeup of each of my attackers food. I killed six guards and eight inmates in one sitting and when asked how they died. I told a guard that maybe their food raped them since you are what you eat.”

Garrick was pushing the machine again and was nearly at 8 mph consistently, “Over the next year I survived nine attempts to kill me with shivs and 4 months in the hole. All because I wouldn’t talk about the hijacking for fear of having my sentence increased. Soon I was called Professor-G, Professor Gack because they said if you fuck with me somewhere, somehow you’re already dead. I had given up thinking I would ever be released when Warden Harker one day summoned me. He dropped the review board paperwork saying just that I had friends outside. Then a guard gave me some glad rags and I was let loose after my third year on August 4, 2019. I was met outside and drove to this building where my truck was also inside and waiting for me.”

Then he just stopped and as he got off he fell down, Patsy ran over hearing him whisper he’s not really a man. She gathered him up and decided if he was strong enough to survive this Gramercy and still try and do good then that was what was important. She brought him out of the loop when she whispered in his ear, “You’re still the hero that saved a woman he did not have to. I’m also the second one so being a hero is a choice you’ve made. You had a bad day.” She kissed his forehead, “let’s get you to sleep and know that to me you are my hero. I have faith you will be brave and kiss a woman with tenderness and love.”

“I admit to wanting to kiss you, but felt doing so while you’re dependent on me seemed predatory and therefore unacceptable. You are, however, smart, intelligent, and beautiful. You’re right I need sleep and thanks for not mocking me. You can see why I didn’t mock you.”

Patsy smiled, “Thank you now,” she walked him to his door, “Get inside and sleep and I’ll order some food from the middle-eastern food from a place on that frig list for you to try.”

She watched the door shut with the glowing, blue halo of light emanating from around it. She thought long and hard about the criminals she had put away as Hyperia, “Heldamm if you can hear me I will work with a rehab center for felons just give me another chance if this is some kind of test?” Touching his door she turned and went back to the research. Research, that suggests the world was once full of magic and now, somehow, everything magic in it appears to be made to disappear. It sounded like a conspiracy to her and there was more to look up, but first food.



Art by: AZ_Artisan


9th of January, 2024

9th of January, 2024


A couple days ago you told me about the winter holidays from your world not being called Christmas or New Year’s day, but kind of a joint version of them called Winter’s Crest. Seeing that you’re kind of a night owl unless you have somewhere to be the next day I made an extra trip to the Giving Tree today as they were getting rid of some Christmas decorations. I got a broken Christmas tree and took some time fixing it while some code was compiling on a scheduled update. I gave it a red star mentioned in the Winter’s Crest fable you told me about. It’s on the same table where I left the clothes last week. I know it’s not much but I wanted to give you something, even belated, to lift your spirits this holiday season. Oh, since you mentioned your Dad was 1/2-American and 1/2-Turkish and your mother was Lebanese, I made some Dolmas and Tabbouleh dishes and left them in the fridge.

Merry or Happy Winter’s Crest,


8:45pm; “Garrick?” Patsy called out holding the note taped to her door as she walk over to the balcony ledge looking down on to the training area. He wasn’t there and as she looked up she could see the plastic tree with lights plugged into an extension cord running to the wall. It was blinking and the red star was the brightest light upon it. Just like the ancient tale of the star that scientists determined was a comet that passed her Earth granting strange powers to some of the world’s first powered super beings. Then it hit her that it was Tuesday, he was at the Giving Tree shelter serving dinner and helping out.

‘He nailed the dolmas,’ she thought to herself as she ate them from a small dish she had put some in. ‘Good grief he actually listened,’ she continued to think as she read the letter again eating the food. Unlike a great deal of men he also seemed completely at ease with giving her the space she needed, and he hasn’t tried to hit on her even once. He obviously cared about her well-being to have gone through the effort to try and create something from a world he had never been to. Laughing to herself she thought, ‘Maybe he’s gay.’

She sat down at the work are on the first floor with the data pole mounted in the center with the eight touchscreen monitors on swivel arms. She hit the app options to turn her tablet into a fullscreen digital keyboard, “Optimus?”

Greetings Patsy Palmer, how may I be of service?

“Are their any files on DalusNET I do not have access to?”

Yes, since you are not an administrator on DalusNET many configuration files will not appear in browsing the server file storage. How may I help your search tonight?

“Is Garrick’s records regarding his arrest, detention, and parole located either on the network or available via the Internet?”


“Is it the network, the Internet or both?”


“Is any information contained on the network pertaining the events in question that is not on the Internet?”


“Pull up everything available on Garrick Faulkner either on the Network, the CityNET, or the Internet. Collate the finding into screen blocks: 1 & 2 for DalusNET, 3 & 4 for CityNET, and 5 & 6 for the Internet. On 7 & 8 can you find and play the metal band Call of the Deep, I am curious about Garrick’s music choices. Oh, and connect my tablet to act as a keyboard for the monitors in question treating each group as a separate workspace.”

Yes, compiling, yes, compiling, yes, compiling, connection established.

“Please, let me know of any duplicate documents and show them to me first so I can decide which ones I can eliminate from the displayed results, thank you.”

Task complete, here you go Patsy Palmer.

Patsy began to study the prodigal scientist that use to be Garrick Faulkner, his father Cuthbert, his sister Adeline. He lost his mother when he was 8 and the father continued to raise both children. Cuthbert was considered by many to be an analytical genius with a Doctorate in Medicine, a Masters in Robotics and Cybernetic Technology, and a second doctorate in Nuclear Engineering.

Garrick really did design a bio dome engineered to be modular, house 10 people at a time, combine with other domes for larger domiciles, and provide redundant systems to prevent single point of failures before repairs could be implemented. Apparently, his father Cuthbert contacted a personal friend and they created Dalus Dome Incorporated to protect Garrick’s vision of nearly free housing that had one amazing feature. They could be installed ANYWHERE! Cuthbert designed a mini fusion reactor to power each dome for 50 years before cores required replacement. Garrick managed to come up with a way to process the surrounding environment so the Bio-Dome would begin to convert its structure to blend into the environment as much as it could without degrading the quality of life for the human occupants inside!

Garrick had been interviewed by Time Magazine once and he gave a Ted talk which was still on YouTube. His dream and vision for the company was twofold and simple: 1) Create housing for everyone to live anywhere! 2) Help mankind move to the Moon, Mars, and beyond the solar system. He had postulated the notion of quality of life for the human race would improve if people didn’t fight over resources. Then she found the video of him arguing for the removal of Alpha Prime. In his words, “because enforcing laws upon a people that did not vote or choose to agree to abide by them is the same reason America fought the Revolutionary War!”

When Alpha Prime returned and began to dismantle the Daedalus Project’s infrastructure with her fellow galaxy cops. Garrick had already had to bury his father. His sister had also sent him a letter telling him that “he” got their father killed. She never wanted to see him again and any further contact will only be accepted from his lawyer to hers. This news actually broke Garrick according to psychological evaluations and he snapped joining a fringe anti-alien group in an attempt to steal some of the tech back. There were more psychologist notes that while the group wanted the tech to attack the aliens Garrick just wanted to continue his work.

Then from 2016 to 2019 Garrick spent 3 years on Gramercy Island in “A” Block for the hijacking a semi-truck with a group of thugs consisting of color punks and members of the anti-alien group. CSPD was on them to quickly and the official report says everything was recovered according to the victim, and this was interesting, the victim name is redacted! Warden Harker’s review reports look like copies of each other with dates and minor details changed. Notes in the margins by Garrick indicating these are fake, citing multiple stab wounds, beatings, and one stint in solitary in an attempt to get him to snitch on his cohorts. Garrick never broke and was released after only three years from a review board that never actually saw Garrick. 3 years of probation and he was free and clear.

The a scanned copy of the deed to the building naming Garrick as the sole owner. The title and registration to the custom Chinese import truck converted to run on mineral water! On the DalusNET network Garrick had a few notes detailing saving a woman from a car jacking last year in late January of 2023. Everything about his story was checking out based on what she could find and nothing ever appeared restricted. Hmm, time for the ultimate test she thought as she looked at the time on the screen and it said 10:30pm, “Optimus?”

Greetings Patsy Palmer, how may I be of service?

“If I wanted to go in Garrick’s bedroom and go through all his crap would you grant me access?”

Patsy Palmer, aside from the administration files and folders hidden to protect me as the network care taker you have complete access to the house: second, ground, and basement floors.

Heading upstairs she finds the doors open and she noticed his room could be a home for most families, and a larger version of hers. While she didn’t go through anything she did open and close a number of them seeing clothes and collection of a robots built from a red and blue semi truck. It reminded her of the GoBots from her world. The big change was the industrial grade 3D printer he had in a portion of his room. Then she bumped into his 10ft. by 15ft. table that lit up and she realized the transparent surface was in fact a touchscreen tablet. On the screen was notes about scanning her to try and see if radiation she gave off (like all living things do) might be the angle to finding the frequency her dimension vibrated at. Then if that experiment worked could a “tuning fork” be made creating an antenna allowing her access to her powers once more? ‘Wait,’ she thought to herself. He was actively sketching out designs, working over metallurgist reports about radioactive exposure trying to find a material that could work as a dimensional tuning fork!

When she touched the screen to slide the digital-papers out of the way she found recipes for food from the Middle East. He had a checklist of dishes to try until he got a list of ones she liked. Still other notes revealed his attention to details was astounding, there was a paper titled ‘How to make Patsy feel at home until Operation: Go Home and Stop Murder Master is ready.’ One of the items mentioned was to not date and bring them home as it may make her feel uncomfortable. ‘Huh, maybe he is not actually trying anything, he could still be gay,’ she thought and laughed again. Then she found a paystub among the digital papers and saw that he was paying everything fine, however, he had adjusted his savings to accommodate $800 off of each check so she could have enough money to hide and research whatever she needed.

There was a digital stack of papers about how to make those without powers feel like heroes. They talked about honoring police, fire department, EMT’s, and all the civic jobs no one cares about. How to make sure your meetings with others nurture relationships and grow self-worth in others. How to find self-worth in your personal life, and a paper about imagining a world without heroes. There were pictures of Garrick dressed up as Santa Claus that Patsy called Father Winter from the Giving Tree. Finally, there were notes about the injector syringes and the name “Fat Lucca” everywhere with question marks. It was apparent Garrick was trying very hard to balance his mundane and super hero duties so everyone was taken care of.

The sound of machinery begins in the background.

She sprinted out of his room telling Optimus to put everything back as Garrick left it when she heard the garage door open up. The master bedroom doors closed behind her and she further asked Optimus to shut down her research profile on Garrick immediately, but crank the music up. As Garrick pulled in to the garage the Call of the Deep band was blaring out the speakers downstairs. She ran into her room and hopped into the shower knowing he must have known how open he had left his info and access. She was a little worried about how he might react if he saw all the work she had dug up going into verifying his story. However, when he got out of the truck he did not get on the PA system and went straight for the stairs in a rather deliberate fashion.

As he appeared on the second floor he was not wearing a shirt, rather carrying it along with a towel. Both his face and all of his garments where covered in blood! Garrick walked over to the washer and dryer and flung everything in. However, there were some blood smears on the front of the machine from him leaning against it. “Optimus, please start the wash cycle that removes blood stains the best, please.”

Yes Garrick, commencing now.” The washer started to fill with water as he was standing in his blue-gray boxer-briefs. Then Garrick heard Patsy from behind him, “Oh My Heldamm! What happened to you?”

“Shit, I was hoping you were in the downstairs bathroom given the way the music is playing,” replied Garrick adjust his jaw, “that poor kid can really pack a punch!”

“Wait is that ‘your’ blood?”

“Yes, but I’ll clean the washer off in a minute,” Garrick said and Patsy noticed the scars and old faded skin noting stab wounds and remembering the notes on the files from Gramercy Prison. She looked worried and he held up a finger as he touched one the the steel rings he wore, and spoke.

“Grant unto me the might of the Gryphon.”

A swirl a golden colored mercury ran over him like an animated wave of water. When it covered him completely it burst into mist and he was standing in boxer-briefs just a smidgen tighter on him than he wanted. He had an angelic beauty about his form at that time. He outstretched his arms not unlike Jesus on the cross, “Please heal me, Ashmadiel, my guardian angel.” He began to glow bright yellow and steam rose off him for a scant few seconds. Then he lowered his arms and said, “Take from me the might of the Gryphon.” Once more the golden mercury washed over him and he shrunk back down to 5 foot 8 inches from the 6 foot 6 inches he was a few seconds ago. His looks while the same were plainer, mortal, and healed!

Garrick looked at Patsy, “Walk with me please so I can get some pants on and I’ll explain how this is a tragic day.” They headed over to his room and he called for the doors to open. Going past his digital table which lit up as he got close he tapped a toe into the base of his bed and just like the one in Patsy’s room a drawer popped open and he grabbed a pair of pants and put them on and his tank top that says ‘Sleeves Are Bullshit’ on it. He smiled at Patsy, “Those shorts look good on you, I need a beer, TO THE KITCHEN!

“I thought we were talking about the tragic day and the blood on the washer?”

Striding past her with a blatant wink and thumbs up, “Yes, well one of the kids at the Giving Tree had just came in when he was dropped off by cops at dinner service. His dad, and sole provider, was shot by a robber looking for a quick score at the bar he works at.”

Sitting down at the kitchen bar with Garrick joining her, beverages in hand, “That’s horrible! Is he the one that did that to you?”

“Yes, but he was sitting at the table I was serving and another kid teased him about being a fuck up because of how he arrived. Well, the ball of nerves in him snapped he went to punch the kid, who may have had it coming but the ‘blue boy scout’ was still there and reaching for his tazer pistol. I was quick enough to snatch his arm away and I get to use my enhanced strength in either form. I whipped him around to face me as he was yelling his father had died to the teasing kid. Well, Malik, I found out his name later, tried to tell me to fuck off and I told him my father had been taken from me by an uncaring thug as well. He swung at me and without superhuman strength I would be out cold or knocked back. I waved my hand to the officer and made eye contact to tell him I had this under control. The people at the Giving Tree got the other kids away in case my confidence got the better of me. I told Malik tonight was the last night he got to swing that fist in anger at anyone in this building, so he may as well work it out on me. Otherwise, the cop will take him to juvenile detention. He started swinging and I stood there and took it.”


“I think I only took about 10 punches between all the sobbing and we talked about our fathers, and I even explained I served time for acting out badly in Gramercy. Let me tell you Gramercy scares kids and adults alike. He looked at me and I told him to not make my mistakes and put that fist away unless he’s defending some child here. He finally started to wind down and everyone looked relieved, but no more than my jaw did!

“I bet, you could have let the cop handle it.”

“I was not going to loose him to an overworked system that can barely deal with crooked superheroes, and straight up supervillains! I am going to get this phrase tattooed on me at this rate. I know it’s someone else that said this quote on your world but on mine Edmund Burke coined, ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ The teasing kid even came to apologize to both of us and I think he and Malik will be good friends now. That brings me to Abraham Lincoln, ‘Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?’ I don’t know if that works for every encounter but if its an option we should try it more often.”

“You are a better hero than you know.”

“Thanks, well that beer and sleep should do the trick,” as he pat her on the shoulder then started to walk past her, “I’ll clean that blood on the washer when I wake up If you need anything else from my room while I am asleep just knock.”

“Wait, how?”

“Patsy my doors are electronic, when I am not home and they open I get text alerts from Optimus. What I like is that you didn’t deny it. Have a good night Patsy, hope the research goes well. Yes, your butt looks good in the shorts, I blame the beer.”

‘Well,’ she thought to herself, ‘maybe he’s not gay.’