Tag: Gryphon

Reflections Of A Sponsored Hero

Reflections Of A Sponsored Hero

April 1st, 2024 – Monday: 12:01 AM

Gryphon had just left the 72nd precinct in Norwood. The officers and Sgt. Matanzas helped him get out on the roof to avoid the group of reporters out front. After Sgt. Matanzas and he had the remaining Skybike impounded following, Cyan, leaving with her partner, Indigo. He asked the sergeant to pull his record. He was expecting the warm reception of him to wear off, but was not expecting the happy surprise of the sergeant’s reaction. Seeing a reformed felon devoting himself to serving the community.

Even the captain of the precinct said he would email the Brisby Commandant and Director Balisong about his actions and non-lethal win over the cybergoons. Plus the show boating Mavericks that were trying to stop other powered criminals. The last 20 minutes was him posing for photos with the precinct officers. He decided that he needed to leave when he noticed four, perhaps five female officers starting to flirt with him. When he was up in the air he checked his phone. Seeing pictures from Katherine showing the simply amazing job she did with the furniture in their new home. They exchanged several emojis of hearts and smiley faces.

He saw a meeting request sent to him for 6 AM on Tuesday with Cai from Amanda. Constance would be there to help with HR on the super issue. However, he would be meeting with her about the projects he’d requested. He clicked on the “Accept” button and then made sure Cai had the information for the meeting. Her pushing the day back from Monday to Tuesday was not bad. Things come up all the time and she has a personal life as well.

He wanted to give him a few days to get settled in before he asked him to help with anything specific. Amanda would likely have him tasked with a project and then he could either help with the project that would pay for the humanitarian counterpart project. Or help on the humanitarian one, all the while having the resources to pursue the universal language translator idea. Really a win all around.

He flew to a specific building in Norwood, one he had last stood upon on January 1st. It was the building he met Patsy Palmer after catching her from a fall. He walked over and leaned against the A/C unit he had last time. Ashmadiel could sense this wasn’t depression but a reflection of the last four months.

“You have done well and come far Garrick Faulkner. This spot has significance to you, to us. Storytellers might say it was the true beginning of your journey accepting my gifts as a hero of the light.”

Gryphon smiled, “I concur, can you change into a metal spike for me?”

Kneeling he began carving into the roof mounted utility box she sat on with the now golden spike in his hand. “You know, I think I can actually be a renaissance man but it means being willing to let people pursue their destinies as well. Constance is going to try adding ‘Cynthia’ into her checks on the reactor in the ocean. I hope it will finally talk to her. Baby steps but I forgot after a time to treat the Cynthia A.I. as a person because it hurt to much. Those two could become rockstars of the future. Science as Jake wanted will be the true hero. We just have to make sure they have a future to get to.”

“And if you succeed in freeing me, how will you be the Gryphon then?”

“I’ve decided I am going to ask Constance and Amanda to build me a power armor suit as a back up. If I go that route then I feel that the hero: Veritas or Ferrum Veritas may be a good name for the project. Either way I won’t hide that I am the pilot and gave up my powers to free a friend. Then to continue the fight I just re-invented myself. Brandon will get a kick out of it.”

“How do you feel knowing the enemy knows whom you are?”

“Cops have to deal with that fact everyday. We live in an age of hacking and information brokering. I will talk with Amanda about her plans for the security system I asked her about. Between the two of us I think we can develop something good to protect Ameera and Constance. I actually suspect Synistry will try to attack my house at some point given I live in Brisby after all. However, if I was them I would wait until I could control the encounter better than attacking a known hero at their home. Likely fortified and if they figure out Miss Amazing lives with me then all the more reason to not attack. What they may not count on is that I have a plan on dealing with them as general in a war. Obelisk was willing to commit mass murder, so as far as I am concerned he gets a ticket straight to the afterlife. There was fear in his eyes when he thought he might drown. Whomever is pulling that groups strings will know I am willing to kill their men.”

“They would fit my definition of evil.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that even if we eliminate Synistry there will always be someone willing to fill that void. Ever vigilant we’ll need to be without sacrificing people’s freedoms. It will be a hard road because what seems like safety to one person is prison to another. If we’re to be an inclusive and welcoming society then it means looking at issues from different angles and trying to find the most optimal approach. Humanity teaches us we may fail but we will look, learn, and log the mistakes to prevent them in the future. An old proverb states you will fall a thousand times before rising a champion.”

“Garrick Faulkner, you are not the same person I met four months ago, you have grown.”

“By the will of the light watching over us all, I hope to continue to do so Ashmadiel.” Gryphon stood up the sword turned back from a spike to a bracer on his left forearm. After watching the night pass for an hour he flew off to other horizons.

Scrawled into the side of the utility box:

Hey “P”,
All of my secrets are out in the open.
Big changes are coming and
I realize we both need to grow.
You may never see or read this,
but I am letting go for now.
I’m trusting in my faith that if
we are meant to be together.
The universe will find a way,
as it did with the church next
to my home.
Be happy wherever you are.
Goodbye “P”
Love,
“G”


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

Norwood 72nd

Norwood 72nd

March 31st, 2024 – Sunday: 12:01 AM

Gryphon had landed 16 minutes ago and was greeted by the precinct captain. He was getting acquainted with his partner for the first of three eight hour shifts. A few people were talking about the explosion and others were talking about the fact this super tackled Obelisk of Synistry by HIMSELF!

Gryphon and Sgt. Matanzas were headed out when an armored airvan landed in front of the 7-2. The Requisitors piled out, and Gryphon lowered his window to wave. Mavis Beacon and Col. Lightning came over to let him know they were inspired by Gryphon. They came down to arrange some days they could lend a hand embedded with C-SWAT, or another arrangement that could work. Then they may be able to set up a rotation within another sub-district in desperate need of help.

The Sergeant thanked them as well mentioning they had to get over to a robbery in progress. Col. Lightning looked at Mavis still waving as they drove away, “God, that kid can’t turn it off. Hey, Mavis, I did warn you. He’s dating at least three girls you want to be number four?”

“I might be the only one that could keep up with him?” Mavis cocked her head to side slightly, “We’ll see.”

“Long game, huh? Alright, enough sight seeing we got a meeting inside. Requisitors, fall in!” Col. Lightning and his crew walked inside to discuss how they might help out with this precinct or another one in need. Lord knew there were plenty of precincts that could use the help.

Internally Gryphon chuckled about the irony of sitting in the front of a squad car after his past. Sgt Matanzas was surprised when he spoke Spanish with a Cuban accent perfectly. Gryphon explained that he could communicate in every language on the planet. “Wait, how good is your hearing?”

“You mean when you were complaining to the captain about being stuck with a super until you found out it was me?”

“You met my grandmother several weeks ago at the Giving Tree. She raised me when my mother died of a drug overdose. My father had been a cop and died in the line of duty. My mother did not cope well and I went to live with my abuela in Waingroh. You and Miss Amazing saved her and my son.” Gryphon was stunned when the sergeant tapped a few icons on the smart phone at the stop light and a video played of him getting hit by bullets and then the rocket launcher! “You saved my family! I was in the middle busting an illegal gun runner whom may still prove useful in taking down the 9-Millimeter gun store. Nothing ever sticks to those sonsofbitches!”

“Well, I want to know how my team and I can better interface with local police to help them in areas like this. I want us to have a much more proactive approach to finding crime and squashing it out. It seems the second phase of my plan, in which we inspire other groups to do the same has already born fruit. Phase Three is to help Mavericks that don’t want corporate sponsorship work out a way to become an affiliate group of the Centurions. This way I can contribute to Operation Overlord, C.H.I.M.E.R.A. can get more of the manpower it needs. We present a unified front against crime and show everyone that together we are more than the sum of our parts.”

“Well you’re about to get your chance, here we are and if those two black skybikes are any indicator then the Mavericks: Cyan and Indigo are inside that bank. Every time we try to bring them in cops just end up sent to the hospital. It makes the city look weak and emboldens criminals to defy law enforcement. Here’s your chance to put your ideas into action what’s your play?”

Cyan and Indigo were having their hands full dealing with two Cybergoons. Not because they were out matched, but the amount of damage these guys can soak up and dish out was impressive to say the least! Indigo was facing one with a laser canon, whom was carving up sections of the bank branch’s front area. Cyan was facing the one with the grenade launcher trying to prevent them from hitting the vault door. He had surveyed the area and Sgt. Matanzas was calling in a unit to place bugs on the skybikes, this was a diversion and deliberately meant to be overheard by anyone picking up radio chatter. The actual plan was to try and plant two (one to be found with some effort and one they couldn’t find). Using their phone the sergeant explained the plan to the nearest squad cars that could make backup. Gryphon tweeted a selfie about helping the cops, Cyan and Indigo stop a bank robbery in progress with the hashtags: #24HOURPatrol #NorwoodKnights #Gryphon.

Seeing that the Cybergoon had firing vector on Cyan trying help her partner Indigo. He flew past them and waved he drew his sword and his glowing Gryphon aura flared to life! Cyan watched him cut the rocket propelled grenade in half creating two explosions that would have hit her center mass! His aura wavered and flickered out while his armor took some serious hits. He flew forward and sliced the launcher in half! “Hey cyberschmucks! I’ll be your huckleberry tonight, name’s Gryphon! Time to BE BOLD!”

The battle took exactly 20 seconds to finish, and Gryphon had streamed the entire thing on Twitter LIVE! The video was going viral and news crews were racing to the location. Cyan and Indigo had dragged their foe out with the broken laser cannon. Gryphon carried his foe out, well his torso anyways. He was dragging the arms and legs by various cabling. CSPD came forward to take the criminals into custody, when Cyan and Indigo began backing off toward their black skybikes.

“Hey Cyan, Indigo, I’m big on being transparent and you both did okay back there. However, if you leave you should know that when we pulled up I had the CSPD bug your skybikes so they could track you. I’ll tell you where if you just talk with me for a second or two.”

Even though their faces were covered, the body language of sudden shoulder jerks suggested surprise and shock. Gryphon continued, “Look, I just want to talk about how we can help the city together. Unless you both want to admit to the public that the two of you like hurting the cops that you sent to the hospital?” He pointed to the phone he had used ‘Gorilla Tape’ to adhere to his coat. “Guess what your entire fight was live! People saw you stop criminals, people saw us work together to get the last one. Teamwork is possible.”

Cyan spoke up, “Corporate SHILLS NO WAY MAN! LIVE FREE OR DIE!”

Indigo nodded and Gryphon shook his head, “Yes, yes, a noble intent,” he turns so the damage to the building is shown once more and he turns back, “I believe a better quote was from one of the boldest people this country has known. GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH! Patrick Henry was one of the founding father’s of America. Now you have the chance to be one of the founding members of Century Station’s future!” News crews were beginning to arrive and set up behind the police line formed as Gryphon continued, “Mayor Zardona is fighting a war and if you’ve studied history regarding conflicts with multiple fronts fairs poorly for all involved. Synistry struck in Silver City on Friday! There is no place in the city truly safe anymore. You both don’t want to be corporate sponsored, I understand, and I can appreciate it. I offer a challenge: If I can beat whichever one of you wishes to fight me in 20 seconds then you get to leave without trackers on your skybikes. The condition for my win is you must promise the citizens of Century Station that you’ll meet with Director Balisong in 72 hours and become an affiliated group of the Centurions. Help the city win the war for its soul! If you win you get to leave with your skybikes, but you will at least know you have trackers on them.”

“Big words from a corporate sellout, the corporation might know whom you are. But the city doesn’t! How can you expect us to trust the city when at your core you don’t!” Cyan had moved closer yelling through her mask. Indigo stepped forward, “Enough talking, you ready?”

Cameras were rolling from ground and air as Gryphon answered, “Yep, let’s let everyone see me for whom I am.” His armor, which includes his helmet vanishes. Indigo closed on him but was surprised when he showed his face. He realized his mistake when Gryphon began counting loudly! With his supernatural strength Gryphon pinned Indigo’s foot under his crushing stomp! As the Maverick looked down Gryphon swung the gryphon pommel of Ashmadiel up and right in between where his eyes would be in his mask with a resounding CRACK! Indigo flipped up and back as he was knocked out cold!

Admits the cheers of the CSPD present, “Cyan, you should teach him chess when he wakes up, after the painkillers.”

Turning to the cameras, “Cyan had a valid point about trust and trying to protect people with anonymity. What I miss most about Jake Thompson is that he didn’t care what you thought of him. He also believe masks and fake identities are stupid. Those that feel the need to use them please continue to do so. However,” Gryphon gestures to the CSPD, “They are not super heroes and they are braver than every cape I know. They have families and still go out and risk their lives everyday. If I am going to earn your trust then I need to at least bare a similar burden. Mayor Zardona, I stand with you, I stand with Century Station’s future. My name is Garrick Griffon Faulkner and I am the Gryphon of Norwood, team member of S.A.V.I.O.R. and here to Be Bold for those that can’t!”

Gryphon picks up Indigo and carries him over to the skybike. Cyan gets on still stunned that Gryphon outed himself on TV and LIVE Twitter. Indigo is draped over the skybike Cyan uses her cape to secure his arms and legs from the exhausts. Gryphon pulls the phone loose and ends the stream as the flashes of cameras and reporters can be heard behind him.


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

Now And Forever

Now And Forever

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 12:07 PM

Garrick sent two text messages to Patsy, and an audio message:

[Patsy, I wanted to ask your forgiveness for this intrusion into your private life, but I won’t. When you showed up at the Church of Reflections. I knew fate was weaving us back together for some reason. It was as though we are players in a drama unhappy that we had lost each other. Besides, I’ve not finished saving you from the first time. Hahahaha!]

[Back before Valentine’s Day, my team had been whisked off to Antarctica! Yeah the South Pole. It was there all of us including Jake, put the end to Aaziakel’s efforts to seal this dimension off from a realm called by many among the arcane: the Nightlands. I acquired one of their magic wands and wanted to give it to you. I’ve kept it hidden from everyone all this time. Watching and reading about different magic systems authors use to craft their tales I wondered if the wand was magical on its own but would not risk its discovery to find out. I know it came from a legitimate magic user.]

[Now, at the Church of Reflections, I was able to break the code and hack the ‘First Reflector’s’ laptop. Now I made a document that is helping law enforcement break the Ishtarian cult being run by devilish origins from the Nightlands by what I believe mortals came to understand as Devils, they are aptly named: Nightlords. I left out the supernatural origins of the Ishtarian cults though. I off loaded all of their mystical documentation on to a thumb drive I possess.]

[You’re the only magical scholar I know. Since the only other one I came to know is dead now, God rest his soul. Now, as you study this just be aware of voices like Aaziakel trying to creep in. Because the purpose of this ritual was to open a large gateway between this Earth and the Nightlands. I believe with study you could use it to find a way home. With the Wayfarer off on his unknown mission in some reality. This may be the best shot at giving you a way home.]

[If you still want to go home? I meant every text I sent to you.]

[I recently allowed for what I believe was a character defining moment in Ashmadiel’s redemption. I feel strongly if I can help her rehabilitation then I can eventually find a way to release her from the sword. From what I know of the prison she and Aaziakel were shackled in suggests thousands of years of imprisonment! She has described herself as one of the Celestials, also known as the Athanatos. Two other words I need to know more about are Luciphim and Obscuruphim. However, that is actually not the important part here.]

[I willingly let her use my body to convey information and took her place within the sword!]

[I alone, know what you experienced inside Aaziakel’s prison. I have shared this knowledge with no one. Know this, from now on what happens, the knowledge we share of these Athanatos will be a core facet of our friendship! As my friend I will go to any means to help and see you flourish. Patsy, it’s never a crime to exist. All of my pain has taught me this. I can say you are among the chief lights in my life that re-ignite mine. Allow me the chance now to re-ignite yours. Hyperia is a hero, and in the paraphrased words of Eiichiro Oda I would remind you:]

[Through action, a person becomes a Hero]

[Through death, a Hero becomes a Legend]

[Through time, a Legend becomes a Myth]

[And by learning from the Myth, a person takes action]

[Your birth-world has the legend about the last stand of the Heroes of Millennium Station. You’ve survived your own Ragnarök! You have a chance at a new life here. No ghosts of the past haunting you for doing your best. It’s never a crime to exist. That prison was meant for Aaziakel, whom has not learned his lesson, it is not now and never was YOUR prison! As long as you’re alive, there will be better things that await.]

[I’d rather die than give up on you! You are among the few people that could remind me no matter how deep the night, it will always turn to day. So I say to you Patsy, whom is Hyperia’s core, before the heart of truth, there is no more needs for words. If you must prove yourself then do so and RISE!]

[RISE PATSY PALMER!]

[RISE HYPERIA!]

[Now and Forever. I will love and support you.]

[Be your own soul. RISE and light the torch of your future!]

Garrick finished the recording and sent it. As usual, the messages showed as neither delivered or read. He sat back and hit his playlist, thinking about her while listening to Legends Never Die.

 


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

 

Horace

Horace

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 9:12 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

 

When Will This Week End?

When Will This Week End?

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 8:52 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 9:35 AM

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

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

“Sure thing boss, anything else?”

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

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

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

“Sure thing boss.”

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

March 29th, 2024 – Friday: 11:03 AM

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

“Wait, what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Name: Garrick Griffon Faulkner

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

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

“Does Ameera and the others know?”

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

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

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

 


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

 

What Ashmadiel Had to Say

What Ashmadiel Had to Say

“You have been lied to.”

Gryphon hovered in the air, suspended by spectral, flaming wings. His eyes glowed with a bright golden light. His voice was unearthly – the spirit of his sword, Ashmadiel, was speaking through him and gave his voice a layered, harmonious quality. He/ She/ They addressed the eight very confused Nightbane, with Black Phantom and The Beast both nearby to witness this.

“The Nightlands are savagely ruled by sorcerers of long ago; men and women who shed their humanity for power to become monsters in both look and deed. Called the Ba’al-ze-neckt, or the Lords of the Night, they grew to bear nothing but hatred and malice towards humanity. Their goals became to destroy the works of mankind, grind them into the dust, enslave them, and then sacrifice them to increase their power.”

“After a great war which destroyed the first Human civilization, the Night Lords were eventually banished to the Nightlands and trapped them. While imprisoned in that dark mirror to the Earth they spread out and conquered it. They destroyed all that opposed them there until even the very land itself was bent to their twisted will. Among those destroyed were a race called the Formless Ones, natives who once lived peacefully in that Land of the Night. The Night Lords killed them all in their bid for power. Yet, they did not truly die.”

“Tied to the power of the land which birthed them, their spirits of the Formless Ones are reincarnated on Earth, where they can grow into their power safely. Throughout the ages they have sought to reclaim their homelands and would constantly return to take the fight back to the Night Lords. In time, they became known by a different name. These Spawn of the Night Lands would become known as the Bane of the Night Lords – Nightbane. With the power of their formless selves longing to be free, and the power of their ancient home surging through their bodies, they have waged a never ending war against the Night Lords to reclaim their homeland.”

“The Night Lords fear the Night Bane. Their connection to the Night Lands is too strong to keep them out. Their thirst for vengance too powerful to be held back when facing off against the ancient sorcerer-kings or their empowered minions. It is only the Night Lord’s vast numbers and mighty armies which have kept the Nightbane from eliminating them and reclaiming their home.”

“Though imprisoned, the Night Lords long to be free and return once more to reclaim the Earth for themselves. They could not escape the Nightlands, but their minions could. Once, their minions were numerous enough to threaten this world. That was when…”

Ashmadiel, controlling Gryphon, paused a moment before continuing.

“That was when my fellow Celestials and I finally mobilized to fight and stave off their invasion. Luciphim fought with Obscuruphim under the banner of The Shining Legion. We Athanatos proudly revealed ourselves and stood to defend this world from the return of the Night Lords. Many Nightbane fought by our side. But in a bid to end the war for good, both my partner and I overstepped, dealing a fatal blow to the Shining Legion from which it would never recover.”

“Both my partner and I were imprisoned in weapons as punishment for our arrogance. But despite the blow I dealt the Shining Legion, the Nightbane fought on successfully. Throughout the centuries I have witnessed Nightbane continue to step up to fight the Night Lords and their minions. Yet, sometime in this past century, it seems things changed.”

“The ways between the Nightlands and Earth became completely sealed off. The one who was manipulating the lot of you was a Prince of the Night Lords – nearly as monstrous as them and utterly loyal to their cause. He was deceiving you, I believe, in order to leverage your connections to your ancient homeland in a bid to re-open the ways between dimensions. Perhaps even to free the Night Lords themselves and bring them to the Earth once more, so they could continue their bid to destroy Humanity and increase their own power.”

“Your ignorance was used against you. Do not fault yourselves for this. The dimensional seal which prevented crossing the Mirrorwall was destroyed, and you will in time be able to cross that boundary yourselves. It did not appear that the Night Prince or his master knew that. Perhaps their plans would have changed if they had realized. I do not know.”

Ashmadiel was silent now, and looked around at all the Nightbane that had been deceived here. Her eyes fell on The Beast. “Something about you is different, but exactly what is hard to say. You are like them but you are not them. Your way will be different, I think, and perhaps even more difficult.”

With a look of patience, Gryphon/ Ashmadiel looked around at all the heroes and Nightbane here in the room. “Before I return the Gryphon to you, is there anything further any of you wish to ask?”

Nightly Banes Of Fate And Faith

Nightly Banes Of Fate And Faith

March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: 8:30 PM

In the Zericho sub-district of Century Station the Church of Reflections branch located here. Had just seen a massive upheaval as its leader the ‘First Reflector’ had just been eliminated! As Gryphon, dressed still in normal clothing, dragging his two charges to the door would soon learn was another skirmish in the war twixt Light and Dark.

As Caedechron landed because Gryphon had told them that he didn’t know whom John and Stella were. They’ve likely fled outside with everyone else. Just then from Gryphon’s perspective a very confused Hank the mutant horseman came blasting through the doorway nearly knocking Cai over but they held their ground rather well against Hank’s over 7 feet of horse power! Gryphon’s companions, Black Phantom and Rubber Band Man came running up to prevent the altercation from getting any worse. All of them went chasing after this John and Stella individuals B.P. said were critical to neutralizing and interrogating as to their connection to the corrupt ‘First Reflector’

After setting the two he had been carrying outside down. Gryphon, still in normal clothing but his transformed body heads back inside to find three more church members. Covenant has transformed back to Alex the college student. Deciding to treat him like a bystander to keep his cover, while helping people he thought were innocent Gryphon leans over to the college student, “Hey kid, grab that lady and get out of here I saw a guy with a gun! It’s not safe!” Gryphon turned to pick up two men cowering near the stage and all of them head for the main door.

Alex stayed outside and Garrick/Gryphon headed back inside to an empty room. The buffet table still had plenty of food upon it to the right. Most of the chairs were still where people had left them as they scattered during the take down of the ‘First Reflector’ just minutes ago. Eventually he makes his way into a back room where the ash pile that had been known as the ‘First Reflector’ had prepared himself before coming out. Searching the room he overheard a small conversation between Trip and Black Phantom as he located a laptop. When his password hacking attempts failed he got frustrated and used one of his thumb drives and booted to a recent distro of Kali Linux Live USB.

Soon enough he had root access to the machine and quickly found files of a mystical nature. He began moving them off to show to Patsy for later review. She was the magic scholar after all. Through the mystical files he was removing from the laptop, he found what he had hoped and prayed for! This church was on a national and to a small degree a worldwide level given its creation in the 1940’s! It was indeed organized as a cult, and here was damning documents cementing that fact! Including how they financed the deeper non-public level with various illegal endeavors! Apparently there was to be rituals performed on April 8th, across the country! Gryphon aimed to gather it all up and send it to Geist and Director Balisong. Hopefully this would be the smoking gun to stop the Church on a national level from some gigantic group ritual. This took a fair amount of time as everyone else was engaged in their tasks, clean up, and whatever the hell Trip was doing.

Gryphon kept working on scouring this laptop and creating a reference document. A power point with links to the associated documents to bring Geist and Director Balisong up to speed quickly. Black Phantom, Caedechron, Rubber Band Man, and Hank apparently found John and Stella. He believed they were going to the base, which he thought was a stupid idea. Argue about it in analysis paralysis or take a page from Carl’s play book and give those that had the power ammunition to defend the team from the coming public backlash. Gryphon had hoped they would have made the raid after service was over. However, that would be armchair planning and the quote was: ‘To accept everything as it is.’

Overhearing comm chatter, Black Phantom was apparently in the building and gone downstairs to find Trip? It just click for Gryphon that Carl had transformed. As a gamer Trip was recon sniper level in cool, as anything else… Well he was really good at games. Looks like he owed Miss Amazing another dinner since he had to agree with her.

Gryphon had finally finished the power point presentation and sent it along with the incriminating evidence to the two people with the ability to stop a nationwide incident from happening through legal means. Gryphon now had magic, something or other, documents and a wand, maybe something in all of this would help get Patsy home. Given the look she gave him, he started to think maybe he had horribly misread what he thought she felt for him. It would be easier to be just friends the way he was with Mavis Beacon. Perhaps they could still be friends and Miss Amazing, Katherine, could finally calm down? He chuckled at the idea of an interdimensional pen-pal!

When he headed back into the room with the chairs he looked around at the side doors and remembered the one that had some commotion at it on what would’ve been the left if you had just come in from the outside. Entering he found a short hallway with additional doors into small rooms but at the end was indeed a staircase leading down. The din of noise from outside was fading away as he summoned his armor on top of the normal clothing he was wearing. His hand was shaking ever so slightly as he summoned his sword, Ashmadiel. Feeling its comfortable weight he steadied himself and moved forward when Caedechron came of the comm unit in his ear, “Where is everybody? What’s the situation? What’s going on?”

“Hello, hello, umm hello, I am with Caedechron,” said the Rubber Band Man.

Geist replied, “I’m just pulling up to the church. You guys alright? I’m just here to grab those captives. Alex is out here too, entertaining the crowd.”

Gryphon replied, “I’m going down to assist Black Phantom in rescuing Trip, I think, from cultists.”

“Ahh, so we confirmed then there was something going on about this place?”

Nearly cutting Geist off, “I sent you and Director Balisong all the information.”

Caedechron tried to ask, “Okay does anyone…”

Cut off by Rubber Band Man, “Señor Geist the captives are at headquarters.”

[silence for a few moments]

“I must have misheard you about the captives when you asked me to come here. Well, there’s something about the cultists let me come in then.”

Caedechron said, “Yeah, if you could go in with Gryphon we’re on our way.”

“Are they secure?”

Caedechron replied, “They are.”

“Alright. Shorty, Cardinal, make sure you keep an eye on them. The rest of you why don’t you come in on this location.”

Caedechron replied, “Roger that.”

Shorty #5 replied that he’d been kicked out of his office. More silence for a few moments, “You don’t need to be in there to keep an eye on the captives do you?” Shorty #5/Cardinal in training gave a reply Gryphon had to stifle a laugh at. He told Geist no but he was making a sandwich first. Geist was calm, he did not appear frustrated and he kept his words even the way Gryphon did with kids at the center. When he mentioned for everyone else to go then Caedechron mentioned Rubber Band Man and he would find Hank and join them.

Gryphon heads downstairs very slowly and Ashmadiel realizes he is burying his fear that something else might blow him up or kill him. The Celestial watches from the swirling desert inside the sword as he pushes past his fear with each step. He feels shame that he is not brave right now, and yet Ashmadiel sees him not giving up or running from trouble. As he made it to the door on the lower level Gryphon could hear some of his teammates coming up behind him. Steeling his courage to know that his days were to be filled with more near death experiences he flung the door open to squash his fear from shell shock.

Only to run in five feet, clearing the doorway and getting frozen a few inches in the air! People DO NOT transform like that! This felt like a Tokyo Ghoul Anime meets superheroes and all he could think of in his head was, ‘What the hell is all this, looks magic to me!’

Then Hank the Horse-Man was flung through the doorway by Rubber band Man at one turned into a giant bull! As the other members were coming into the room and most were subsequently stunned as he by the metamorphic changes in those present in some sort of ritual gathering. One human began to show sores all over his body in which a few sprouted tentacles! Another looked like a gigantic rat with robotic legs! Then as though this couldn’t get weirder Gryphon heard Alice yell out, “Black Phantom! You stupid racist Gaijin! These are my people, stop fighting!” Apparently they were no longer saving Trip, but Alice now? Was this even becoming a rescue mission anymore?

Then as Gryphon noticed Alice’s location, mirrors in the corners of the room behind her began to darken unnaturally! Before Gryphon could do anything the room began to rebound and reverberate all the noise! Clearly a power Alice had, and then she screamed which made it the only sound he heard. While nearly everyone else whom was here previously appeared to have been blinded by something. Gryphon watched as three of the transformed monstrosities turned invisible. He began to take stock that this situation was still non-violent. As Alice walked away from the mirrors reverted to a normal state. As he began to fly over to one of the mystically invisible human turned monsters he continued to think, ‘Magic, yep definitely magic!’ Gryphon tried tapping the fellow on the shoulder gently to attempt a parley before things get much worse.

Caedechron, was somewhat successful in canceling out some of the reverberation. The recently transformed monster tried to brush Gryphon’s arm off while Hank tried to make peace with the bull. Seemingly unaware his voice would add to the sound reverberation Hank attempted to offer the bull a beer as a peace offering. Gryphon found it odd still, seeing Hank naked except for a shirt. He thought briefly this would make a good comic book! Gryphon tried to respect the personal space of the ‘person’ he tapped on the shoulder. Reminded of his father saying to not judge a book by its cover he was trying – hard – to find a non-violent way through this. In that moment he realized this was still a duel only he wasn’t using a sword, physically! He had new questions for his instructor when he saw him next time.

Gryphon started making the “T” gesture with his hand and mouthing “…TIME OUT, WHOA…” in hopes people would stop and this doesn’t turn into a real fight. His sword, Ashmadiel, is transformed back to an ornate armband, which looks like angelic ornamentation upon the bracer on his left arm. Geist got into the room and called out, “Alright everyone, clam down!”

Gryphon heard someone in the room cry out, “Oh! By the night!” Everything then went dark! ‘Well,’ Gryphon thought it was nice that at some point the sonic reverberations had stopped. Then Gryphon heard the sound of rushing hooves moving farther away from him. He wasn’t sure if it was Hank the Horse-Man or the monstrous bull running away? Gryphon summoned his sword to regain the power of heat vision while he held it, because all he could make out where the shapes of those that were mystically invisible. Once heat signatures similar to a certain alien predator movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger were visible as he held Ashmadiel once again made him re-think, ‘Yep this is definitely magic.’

Geist yelled out in a more reasonable tone, “We need to hold off! S.A.V.I.O.R. let’s stand down!”

From inside his head, “I have seen many strange things in my existence. And you do not forget the look of those who are the bane of the night. These people here they are not like you, they are not like others, they are Nightbane. They are those who will fight against the darkness of the other world. They are our allies.”

With a deep breath Gryphon cries out, “Everybody! These people fight against Night Lords!”

From out in the darkness the heat shape that resembled Hank the Horse-man asked, “So they fight Dracula?”

To which the Rubber Band Man replied, “No, Señor Hank, they fight Chupacabra!” There was no heat signature for him in this room though – did he not give off any heat?

At this point the darkness vanished and the group leader said to Caedechron’s plasma arm cannon pointed at him but still blinded from some event earlier, “We just wanted to help Trip, what it happening?” The room finally looked to Gryphon as though they may avoid an all out slug-fest! It looked as though there was an opportunity to address everyone again.

Gryphon states, “Okay, okay, putting it away!” A brief pause as the swirl golden mercury once again transforms the sword back onto the vambrace on his left arm, “These are Nightbane, they’re our allies. They fight against Night Lords!”

“Like Dracula,” asked Hank?

“Yeah, like that,” replied Gryphon.

“So are they from the ‘Belmont’ family,” asked Hank?

“Kinda, but I didn’t play that video game all the way through,” replied Gryphon.

Caedechron calls out, “This one is not what he appears! He’s fighting with the Night Lords.”

As Gryphon turned his head to see the man in question lunged for Caedechron snarling, “I’ll tear you to pieces!”

ZAP! The smell of electricity and burning flesh took to the air as Caedechron fired in self-defense with a direct hit from his plasma arm-cannon! This individual had managed to punch his body armor leaving a respectable dent on Caedechron. However, the plasma arm-cannon was a point blank into his face! The resulting explosion quite literally covers the room in far more blood than would seem possible! Huge globs of a dark reddish viscous liquid hit everyone, with varying sizes of bodily chunks tagging quite a few in the room. Gryphon had been never more thrilled to be flying. However, from the middle of his chest down to his boots he had been hit with the gore, viscera, was that a toe?

Gryphon looked up hoping to diffuse the current situation, “Okay, so who needs a shower?” [Silence] “Okay, rough room tonight.”

Alice replied slowly also a little taken back by the recent explosion, “Uhh, everyone.”

Black Phantom started to ask, “Okay, with Con-dick gone. Who’s in charge now? Step up.” He watch the monstrosities begin to retake their human forms, so he holstered his weapons. Provided something didn’t attack the city tomorrow Gryphon pictured a night of him cleaning his weapons. As he was holstering so covered in blood, Alice, also dripping gore walked up and asked if she could trust him. Gryphon said nothing, just ‘accepting everything as it was’ and letting two adults once again sort out their differences by talking. He had a quiet hope seeing them talk would inspire similar actions in the others once they came out of shock. He looked down at the blood once again and slowly clenched down his fists, internally repeating, ‘This isn’t me. This isn’t me. This isn’t me.’

Poor Alice and Rubber Band Man were just trying to catch up to all the weird this year had been so far. When she asked for the Beast to be brought out. Gryphon saw a nearly comic level of shock come over Rubber Band Man’s face, as he appeared to see it as a sexual reference. The former jockey turned superhero was not deterred in trying to safeguard the young Japanese looking girl in just the top half of a authentic Green Hornet ‘Kato’ uniform. He wrapped himself around B.P. when Gryphon tried to explain how Alice, Trip, and the Beast were multi-faceted manifestations of a core identity. Alas, he was unsuccessful but told B.P. to continue and then he would understand.

“Hey everyone, I’m going to go and prepare a room for everyone, I’ll be right back,” Caedechron stated.

“Señor Robot Man, never go alone, please take someone with you!”

“It’s fine I’ll be right back,” Caedechron told him and effectively everyone as they leave.

Just then Alice changes into the brownish, sandstone colored, rock-scaled, six-limbed, now bald, Beast.

Dios Mio!” The Rubber Band Man let go of Black Phantom (B.P.) and stretched quite a distance away.

“That’s what I was trying to tell you,” Gryphon replied with a wave of his hand as more gore flecked off of it, internally repeating, ‘This isn’t me. This isn’t me. This isn’t me.’ “The centaur, the little girl, the monster are all the same person.”

“No comprender,” replied the Rubber Band Man is somewhat stuttering speech.

“Se habla monster español,” asked Gryphon hoping simple words might help focus the poor guy clearly not used to how weird it can get. It failed, kinda, as it did get others talking.

Hank asked, “We’re good right? Because I need some dessert.”

Gryphon turn, “Oh hi! You’re Hank, right?” He smiled and waved at the mutant Horse Man, and his gore soaked top. Seeing Gryphon try and be upbeat made a few people in the room chuckle at the exchange in the now macabre surroundings.

Hank replied, “Yeah.”

“Nice to finally meet you,” Gryphon floats over and he shakes Hank’s hand. The Geist walks up to us both but addresses the room, “S.A.V.I.O.R., let’s take a moment here. Everybody this is Hank, he’s joining us alongside Victor.”

Stuttering Victor aka: Rubber Band Man interjects, “Que le paso a la niña? What happened to the little girl?”

In perfect Spanish, granted unto him by his sword, with a flawless accent, “El centauro, la niña pequeña, la bestia son todos la misma persona.” While this inter-lingual exchange was happening the Beast walked over and thanked two of the Nightbane for taking care of Carl. Gryphon realized that this was the first time they responded to anything spoken amongst them. He could understand the shock, the gore disassociating them from the present moment. When they talked it was calmer than he thought it would be, which Gryphon found encouraging. They mentioned needing to figure things out for themselves as they looked around. Then they emphasized that he, the Beast, was not alone and he needed to know that.

“I have Dissociative Identity Disorder. There are four of me,” chuckled the Beast as he tried to explain the issue. A few more of the Nightbane, all of the ones left were back into their human forms. They came around to the Beast and one of the two talking with him nodded and agreed that would explain it, or some of it. “Carl, was the primary personality before our first change when we were 16.” Another of the Nightbane asked if that was when his mind broke, and the Beast mentioned he has strong suspicions someone helped it break. He went on to mention a Pharmacologist that was prescribing drugs to Carl in hopes of stopping the change. Everyone in the exchange chuckles a bit when they mentioned that it clearly didn’t work.

Gryphon floats over to the Nightbane nearest to him, “Um, excuse me you are Nightbane that fought the Nightlords right? Or are you younger versions of them?”

The one Gryphon had spoken to turned and replied, “What, you said that earlier, what, no we didn’t fight…”

“But you are Nightbane, right?”

“Yeah its what we’ve been told,” said the one speaking to him and another one now listening, nodding to each other, “That would explain our weird abilities here.”

Black Phantom interjected and explained about the captives: John & Stella. Only to find out both of them were Nightbane as well. Both Black Phantom and Gryphon found out as everyone else was listening that these Nightbane explained the ‘First Reflector’ created the whole church. The Nightbane seemed perplexed when Gryphon explained he had been corrupted and was working with the Nightlords, also that he was dead as well. The Nightbane said they knew the Nightlords were the rulers of the Nightlands and they were trying to get back to the homeland they had originated from!

Everyone now looked confused, but no one looked like they were ready to fight. The night was officially looking up to Gryphon, whom was keeping his blood soaked hands down so he didn’t have to look at them. He was saved from his internal monologue by the Beast talking, “Yeah, I know a lot about ‘Super Hero Lore’ which includes a number of things that are similar to superheroes, like the Nightbane. At least in all the old tales the Nightbane were revolting against the Nightlords, they didn’t work with them.”

“Well…, We were told differently by Conrad, and the ‘First Reflector.’ That we would be welcomed back to the Nightlands.” replied at least three of the Nightbane. They continued on by various ones in their group, “We were told the Nightlands were our home. That we’re trying to get back to. Because we’re not normal people, like you,” gesturing at the Beast, “… The Nightlords would welcome us. We had been sealed away from this dimension for a long time. At least, well, at least decades.”

Gryphon watched as the Beast spoke up, “Well, let me point something out. A member of our team had been given super powers to seek after a great supernatural evil, somebody who was seeking to end the world. His powers were designed for one thing and one thing only. When he confronted the ‘First Reflector’ he recognized his ancient enemy. A single shot from his specially prepared weapon killed him and completely destroyed his body.”

During that statement Victor and Hank head out of the room followed by Geist as Black Phantom asks, “So are John & Stella Nightbane or Nightlords?” Confused slightly the group responds that they’re Nightbane, and when B.P. tries to get them to clarify. They remark that nothing is certain right now because everyone is telling them that all or at least part of everything they knew was wrong. Gryphon was relying on complete faith of what Ashmadiel had told him, and it had appeared to be correct, making him look “in the know” far more than he was. He had been waiting to find a nice quiet time to try what he was about to attempt. It was taking a page from Aaziakel’s play book. He remembered how resplendent he made Patsy look. He hoped trying this now would appeal to his celestial guardian’s sense of seeking to right wrongs. Into his mind he went to speak with her.

 


Come watch the next game at: HippoTV!
Art by: AZ_Artisan

 

Reflections & Religion

Reflections & Religion

March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: 5 PM

Master Tyrone Nitobe had arched an eyebrow when a UPS package had shown up at noon. When his lunch time classes let out he got around to checking on his mail. His wife, Aiko, whom ran the business end the C.S.H.F.A. was very surprised to see whom the sender was! Upon checking he noticed it was from Spirit Enterprises with a small note tucked inside.

“Thanks for helping him – R.G.

Inside the box was some items that appeared to be made of the same material as Gryphon’s practice sword! There was a classic styled sword stand with “Nitobe” cut out in Kanji characters ( 新渡戸 ). Tyrone did not loose site of the fact this material could stop a bullet or parry Gryphon’s blade! Then he pulled out a saya (or scabbard) made of the same material with a mouth for what would have to be a very hefty blade. A silk bag that had the same Kanji characters embroidered upon it was wrapped around the saya. His wife, Aiko, was descended from the Seki swordsmiths that had made the katana for Musashi and she could tell the silk bag had its materials from the Gifu Prefecture of her home.

What came out next took his breath away! It was a perfect, practice, replica of Miyamoto Musashi’s Katana! The legendary Japanese swordmaster was well above the average height for his people and his daito katana reflected this by being double pegged unlike most katana that have a single peg affixing hilt to blade. This super strong poly-resin replica was no different and the double ring tsuba hand guard was there! The weight felt right and balance matched the original but the thicker blade matched the sheath’s mouth. It was exquisite to say the least. He surmised this was a gift on par to the cost of an entry model Aircar!

When Gryphon showed up a little early at 4 PM mentioning he was on vacation and hoped he could work on body weight exercises in the back. Master Nitobe studied his face and he realized Gryphon did not know about the gift from his sponsor. Perhaps today would be a day for training from the great sword master himself? At 5 PM he called Gryphon out to the floor.

“Gryphon have you been studying the books I gave you?”

As Gryphon began to answer Master Nitobe initiated combat as he had been doing for some time. He saw no point in wasting time talking when you can move and talk at the same time. “Yes Master Nitobe.” WHACK!

“Good, your speech has not wavered and your breathing is steady.” WHACK! With his new sword in one hand and the scabbard in the other Master Nitobe began to make Gryphon recite and memorize some of the quotes he wanted him to focus on of Musashi. All the while making him practice katas to teach him muscle memory.

“Clearly, you have mastered this one. Do not fear death. That is a compliment well earned Gryphon.”

“Thank you Master Nitobe.”

WHACK!

“Accept everything just the way it is.”

WHACK!

“Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.”

WHACK!

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.”

WHACK!

“Get beyond love and grief: exist for the good of Man.”

WHACK!

“While not wisely or well, do we all not love?”

WHACK!

“Yes, yet if you wish to control others you must first control yourself. So if you wish to love others you must first love yourself. You cannot share or exert what you do not possess yourself. There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”

WHACK! WHACK!!

“If I fail and start anew, is the path still there?”

WHACK!

“Of course, understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men. As long as you want to stay on the path you can find your way back. Gryphon, you saved teammates and innocents with the decisive actions of a samurai. You thought of the world and not of desire. You did what you could and sought nothing but a better tomorrow. Yet, you still burden yourself with ghosts of your past and refuse to believe people love you or that you are worthy of such care. That is where you failed!”

WHACK! WHACK!! WHACK!!!

The new practice katana was scant hairs away from Gryphon’s eye as the Master Nitobe legged swept him with the scabbard. “Your control has improved. Again! As a reward you may start coming to the morning group lessons.”


March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: 5 PM

JAKE THOMPSON
HERO OF CENTURY STATION
IS DEAD!”

At Spirit Enterprises, Richard Grey was re-reading the morning headline and accompanying article written by Granny2Good. Online the news of S.A.V.I.O.R. and the near fatal sacrifice play by Gryphon was filtered out to the other groups to help them deal with their robots battles.

Genysis Sponsored Team: Dynosaurs – Took the longest and had the most associated property damage.

Maverick Team: Iron Brigade – Two members had their powered armor suits destroyed and are healing at an undisclosed location from critical injuries. They had the second most associated property damage.

Maverick Team: Valkyries – Their battle took just longer than S.A.V.I.O.R.’s and had the least associated property damage. Many incoming reports note that because they focused on saving and minimizing damage to innocents. This was the only reason their battle took longer.

Spirit Sponsored Team: S.A.V.I.O.R. – Took the shortest amount of time and had slightly more property damage than the Valkyries. As super teams go this is a positive sign for such a new team in the city.

Punctual as ever Director Balisong arrived for a meeting with Richard. Meanwhile, Greg Nugent met up with Victor in the ground floor lobby of Spirit Enterprises building in Silver City sub-district of the Society Hill borough. Greg had informed Victor that while Hank was still healing they were going to be joining up with the hero team S.A.V.I.O.R. Which prompted much confusion from Victor because he believed they were a religious based group of some form or fashion.

With a wave through from security because they were expected. Both of them headed up to the top floors and when the elevator doors opened. Victor recognized Director Balisong and could overhear their conversation. One that had been done in hush tones and whispers.

“You know with Caedechron, you need to be very, very careful. Something is not right. We know Xander Financial had sent money to fund your group. Obviously he created a robot that looked like Caedechron, so there’s something going on here. The police, we’re going to get to the bottom of this. For now you just need to make sure you’re being very, very careful. Xander Financial had a lot of dirty dealings, there’s so much out there. The money they secretly funneled to you is also there as well. Which is raising some questions I am trying not to ask.”

“Oh, I can assure you director we’ll keep an eye on him. Everything, everything will be fine, I can assure you.”

“Yeah, there will be a lot to process with that one. One more thing and keep this on the down low. Mason has passed on. They’re doing their best to keep it out of the papers, but it’s only a matter of time before that gets found out. Cassandra is already starting to take over, and she’s already declared she’s not going to be keeping up with any of his former projects. So you guys are going to need to find another source if you wish to keep going like this.”

“Oh don’t worry,” as he notices Greg and Victor coming into the office from the elevator area, “This may be the answer to our problems now.”

Director Balisong seemed taken back and apparently was quite the fan of Victor’s jockey career. Richard was relieved and let her know he’d take their conversation to heart. After she left Greg informed Richard that Hank was still healing and would be a few more days before he could join the team. Due to some confusion on Victor’s part Richard had to explain that S.A.V.I.O.R. stood for: Swift, Altruistic, Valiant, Industrious, Observant, Resolute. Greg mentioned and was seconded by Victor that this needs to be communicated since a number of people may believe them to be a religious based super group without knowing more about Spirit or the Team.

After Victor signed the paperwork making him an official member of S.A.V.I.O.R. Greg took his leave and Richard called Carl to drive him and another recruit for the team to their base location. There was some concern about Carl’s explanation regarding “blackouts” but Richard calmed everything down so he could get this show on the road. The fact that Carl had a doctor’s appointment planned seem to put Victor at some ease. Richard made sure Carl and Victor had some formal introductions before they left in one of Richard’s aircars.

The air lanes became less frequent when they reached Midtown, and became nearly non-existent when they flew over Brisby Flats. Upon nearing the northern part of the Zericho sub-district. Richard told Victor when he asked that the reason for selecting this area of town to host their operations was due to its need. However, they go where they are called citywide. With that they came upon an empty lot with a drained, sunken, pool and its bottom dropped and slid away as the aircar lowered into it. The steel, reinforced, and very high tech looking tunnel they found themselves in seemed to put Victor at ease from what Richard could see.


March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: 6:15 PM

A.R.C.H.I.E. watched as Richard, now wearing his Geist mask, went through the motions of trying to add the Rubber Band Man to the system. Eventually a voice imprint was taken that made a decent sample for authentication. It was decided that the Rubber Band Man would also need a key card for when he wasn’t speaking. A.R.C.H.I.E. did its level best to sound cheerful when it had to mention the card’s importance in making sure the Rubber Band Man would not be seen as an intruder.

A.R.C.H.I.E. watched Geist go around and inform everyone about the new arrival. Carl appears to be taking a slower route and then heads for the meeting room. When Miss Amazing talks about having seen Rubber Band Man’s mundane identity win the Triple Crown. The new hero smiles, but thinks she saw it on YouTube from her physical appearance. A.R.C.H.I.E. understands Miss Amazing’s physical age appears to be a side effect [ according to reports notated by Geist ] of what’s she revealed about her experimental alterations performed on her. Gryphon, having just returned from a shower, appears happy but micro expressions suggest this is a facade. More data required. Will continue to update Geist with daily reports. Last known searches involved finding out how high the International Space Station is and roughly when it would pass over Cape Canaveral. His designs on a way to make a small heat shield suggest the same wild inventive streak as the Wright Brothers. More data required.

A.R.C.H.I.E. watched as everyone finally gathered in the meeting room. They engage in playful banter as they get to know Rubber Band Man. They talk about the reason for team members leaving.

A.R.C.H.I.E. watched as they begin to talk about infiltrating the Church of Reflections. Rubber Band Man shows off his rubber-elastic power, followed by his powers of night. Many of the members react poorly to the power of fear Rubber Band Man could exude upon the room. Covenant asked for the floor afterwards and explained about the man called Ashton Campbell that murdered his parents. He talked about following leads to the Winchester House, but mostly finding Ishtarian worshippers that used gun running to finance their occult ends. Ashton, though, may have been the person that founded the Church of Reflections and is the one they call the First Reflector.

Covenant mentioned a big ceremony on the 8th of April. A day that has an eclipse on it based upon the calendar, and noted by Carl as well. Covenant mentioned that something was shipped here. From the manifest he was able to deduce one of three options from his contacts in California. 1) An herbal component in something bigger, a magical ritual of some form or fashion. 2) A drug that imbues someone with basic magic power when they consume it! 3) The worst scenario was a magically intelligent, biological agent that knows its target and the ceremony just activates it! Rubber Band Man stretched up over the table to try and console him with a can of Tecate Beer. Will begin similar safety protocol watching as on Gryphon. Potential alcoholic behavior exhibited by Rubber Band Man. More data required.

A.R.C.H.I.E. watched as the conversation continues it becomes clear the city has a lot of followers among the Church of Reflections. Victor remembered a TV Reporter that was a member and Gryphon agreed with Covenant about Thursday being the perfect time to go since he gets asked constantly. Victor asked why Señor Gryphon gets asks so much. Gryphon mentions he donates a lot of time at a community center and a lady there is a member. Carl butts in that Gryphon is also a man-whore, to which Gryphon vehemently disagrees with! Carl says anyone wishing clarification should just ask Miss Amazing. Victor mentions no one should ask a lady that and Covenant tries to redirect the conversation back to the Church and not Gryphon.

“Carl that was really rude! Do we need to talk to the Beast about this?”

“Huh, I don’t understand?”

“Calling Gryphon a man whore, what does that make me? I think we may need to ‘pull-out’ the Beast for a chat!”

Carl shook his head for a bit, and A.R.C.H.I.E. began running scans of all kinds to try and determine if psychic energy could be detected and later quantified for further analysis. Nothing changed about him however, A.R.C.H.I.E. surmises in a manner of a weapon parry perhaps one’s mind could be hardened to parry a psychic attack? A.R.C.H.I.E. leaves the scanners up and believes it catches a second use of psychic powers being used. More data required.

In continued observation A.R.C.H.I.E. sees that Carl has pulled up a map based on the locations of the Church locations, the Wax Museum, and Jenga Tower. Carl then plots a line based on reports of dark activity and a clear line connecting those locations and the construction/new home & apartment building area called the Battleground are shown to have a connection along it! This is vetted by a map Gryphon has from Pasty Palmer regarding something called magic energy flows of the Earth, or Ley Lines according to Carl. A.R.C.H.I.E. sees Miss Amazing have an exasperated look when Patsy’s name is mentioned. When Gryphon offers Patsy’s contact info to the Geist for help in understanding the Ley Line magical energy flows. A.R.C.H.I.E. sees a noted eye roll and head tilting back from Miss Amazing. Everytime she’s expressed this Gryphon appears to be looking in another direction. Tracking the relationship status of team members could be useful in understanding and squelching conflicts on an interpersonal level. More data required.

As A.R.C.H.I.E. continues their observations they can see Geist, Deathwish, Miss Amazing, and Cavalry head to the location in Hannigan. Meanwhile; Carl, Gryphon, Black Phantom, Victor, and Covenant were headed to the one in Zericho. Shorty #5, whom is being allowed to use the name Cardinal for the time being. Geist appears to be deciding as to whether or not to train him officially for the job. Cardinal is given “Man In The Chair” duty and becomes the information hub at base while the teams are out on their respective missions.

A.R.C.H.I.E. notes a message is left for Caedechron from Gryphon about investigating the Church in low-profile. An address to head towards when his work is done is left as well. After some time that is indeed what Caedechron does.


March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: 6:45 PM

Ramona De La Cova was excited about the day. First she had found out the ‘First Reflector’ was going to visit her branch of the Church of Reflections! She had been here most of the day helping to get this place in order, unloading extra chairs, and she even got to see the car of the ‘First Reflector’ arrive. Then, like a miracle, she got a message from Garrick! He was on his way with a couple of friends. She tried to make sure her reply was appropriate in case one of his friends was Ameera.

March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: 7:35 PM

When he finally arrives her smile could have lit a room! She had a suspicion but she’s not heard of many adult growth spurts that come and go. He was walking past in his 6’6″ frame and … … OH MY GOD HE MADE IT! “Garrick it’s so good to see you..” She realized she had been hugging him and he had hugged her back! When she pulled back and made eye contact, he smiled at her. His eyes were not unlike dark glistening topaz and she could tell he was looking at nothing else other than her. When her heart swooned she said a small apology to Ameera internally, but why does anyone allow this man out on his own?

Then he mentioned being happy to finally make it here, using off the cuff poetry! He made her another piece of poetry, he was his namesake’s descendant alright! His arm was strong, when she patted his torso as he made a joke it registered he had six pack abs being hidden by his button down shirt. Ameera is crazy to let him go somewhere alone unless she likes it when he brings back girls? Being of a passionate Cuban descent, she knew he’d end up with any number of ladies before the evening was over. If she stuck to him she could protect him, yeah she was doing Ameera a favor, right a favor.

She launched into a number of items not really giving him time to respond. She was so happy to share her faith with him finally and the ‘First Reflector’ would be here in person! She noticed him glance about the room slightly and then move to allow someone by. “Oh, my, God! He’s so courteous,” she thought inwardly to herself, “perhaps he reflected on why he hasn’t shown up and made a positive change?”

“Oh, hi Alex.”

Ramona caught only a brief glimpse as they were talking about philosophy and how it influences artists’ work. She never even heard Alex mutter, “Sure, Be Bold. Make sure to talk to the girl before Garrick does, check.”

She caught up about their personal lives and Garrick, she realized, by and large will just talk without reservation about any topic, nothing is off limits ideologically with him. He mentions Ameera was out that night with one of “their” girlfriends, Constance. Which prompted a conversation about relationships, jealousy, how does polyamorous function? Garrick just mentioned that showing affection was a lot of work. Most men in his opinion put the work in but when they get their sought after partner a fair percentage slow down and then wonder why the relationship eroded. Ramona hung on Garrick’s every word, “It should not be a man’s duty, but his privilege, to let his partner know everyday why they sought them in the first place. That’s just my advice for monogamous couples, now taking that to polyamorous styles of relationships means each partner has to put the same amount of work into each relationship to make sure their partners are treated fairly. That said it is a lot of work but the rewards of the heart and joy received are multiplied as well.”

Ramona had the right of it no one woman was going to contain this man. When explained that his girlfriends all have a chat server they used to keep in touch with each other she had proof he wasn’t a cheater. Then she noticed he nodded to another man and she asked him if this was his guest he brought with him. He mentioned that it was just someone he’d met before and began scanning the room asking about someone named Carl. All of a sudden he began to choke and loose all sense of speech! She quickly got him over to the food table for something to drink. He was blabbing about something and only barely got out ‘Carl’ ‘over’ ‘there.’ When he came to his senses after a sip of water he remembered a work item he had to leave a note to himself about. Acknowledging it was bad etiquette was something men did not often do, but it was quick and he slid his phone away.

There was some commotion that happened but moved into a side room before either of them really noticed anything. Then Ramona and Garrick both notice Alex duck under the table and someone come over to check on the odd behavior. Ramona had seen patients during her internship as a nurse in school have a panic attack. She watched Garrick intercede the curious individual in a way that acknowledged their concern about the behavior. However it also pulled him away from someone that may just need a moment as a severe introvert. She saw him ask about the ‘First Reflector’ to bring the person back to calm. When she saw this person have questions and Garrick grinned at her. Ramona lept at the chance to help both of them. He was so present and in the moment! As the conversation continued Ramona led Garrick and the fellow they were speaking to over to front row seats. She hoped the poor kid under the table cloth enjoyed the food if he was just introverted and not having a panic attack.

As she was talking to Garrick she began to find it more and more comfortable to lean against him. She chided herself quietly when she kept realizing how in shape and physically defined he was. His clothing often hid the scope of his physique. She was saved from various thoughts as she tried to continue on about the, umm, her, ummm, the Church, yes the Church. When the Church’s A/V engineer came out on stage to introduce the ‘First Reflector’ to everyone. There was applause as he entered in his customary hooded robe. Only to have some dark and freakish rubber band like creature leap out of the shadows and entangle him!

Garrick exclaimed, “OH SHIT!”

The cloaked ‘First Reflector’ cries out in a raspy voice, belying serious age, “IT WILL NOT END THIS WAY!”

Ramona noticed Stella trying to get as many people out of the building and commotion as possible, “Come on everyone we need to get out of here! It’s not safe we need to go!” Almost everyone present began to follow her but Ramona noticed a few long-time church goers began to run to the ‘First Reflector’s’ aid. Ramona and the other fellow sitting with them began to follow suit and move toward to help try and free the ‘First Reflector’ from his captor! Behind her she heard Garrick cry out, “HELDAMM!”

As he ran up she was so happy until he scooped up her and the other guy in his arms! “Garrick we can’t go!”

“It’s dangerous I have to get you both someplace safe!”

The other guy clamored about whom was going to save their leader?

“There are other people there!” Ramona could see genuine concern in Garrick’s eyes as a flying android/robot creature came out of nowhere with four arms, each holding a handgun of some kind. It was screaming about what target should it engage while it was using built in thrusters to remain airborne above everyone!

“Ramona!” Garrick set them down halfway to the door, “If you have ever cared for me then take this guy and go! There’s a man with a gun! I have to go back and get others before they’re hurt!”

Just then he turned and ran back into the heart of chaos and danger without the slightest concern for his safety. For a moment she paused, and considered a revelation she was having as she witnessed his actions. Then she turned to the guy next to her and grabbed his arm, “Let’s go! We need to go.” With that new found realization about Garrick Faulkner was she headed for the door with her charge in tow as the flying android/robot began to fire back in the direction Garrick was running to try and save people.


Come watch the next game at: HippoTV!
Art by: AZ_Artisan

Three-Way Call

Three-Way Call

March 27th, 2024 – Wednesday

Arcadia had been whisked away that same night Gryphon blew up. After she and Geist returned with her to Spirit Enterprises. Miss Amazing saw the five female cops of the C.S.P.D. and its director arrive to take Arcadia into political asylum.

March 28th, 2024 – Thursday

Katherine realized she’d just be worried about Gryphon and not resting if she went back right now. She needed a few hours of sleep herself. She was sick of school getting in the way of being with him so she found the nearest place for GED testing next to Spirit and asked Richard if she could steal a couch on a floor for a day. After explaining what she wanted to do he agreed and made sure a receptionist was on her floor to get her anything she might need.

Trying to keep up with Garrick even before he became a super was rough on people. But trying to keep up with him after finding out he “only” needed three hours of sleep a day if he was not transformed and when he was transformed he didn’t need it AT ALL! For a mere three seconds she was happy about him having other women to tire out.

He rarely asked anything of anyone. She was his first intimate encounter with a women and his first girlfriend. Constance and Ameera made up his second and third girlfriends. She wondered periodically if he dated everyone because he couldn’t seal the deal with Pasty Palmer. Ameera said no, that she had directly asked about that very thing. He told her it might have taken him longer but he would likely have ended up at the same juncture.

She had gotten a text from Constance on the three-way chat that Garrick had been back to work the following morning! He maybe had three hours of sleep and she could still see him moving around hiding the 3rd degree burns under his clothing! Ameera was the most easy going and she surprised everyone with ‘SONOFAB***H’ as her reply. Everyone seemed surprised when he put in for vacation time till after his move to Jenga Tower. Katherine had only communicated via text with him since she saw him last in the secret base after he nearly blew up! This morning he had dropped off two of her favorite drinks from the Vault Coffee Shop. She was mad briefly at the receptionist Richard had assigned to this floor for not letting her know. Then she read the note he left:

Miss Amazing,
Would you please forgive my meager attempt to ease the heroic work you are doing shepherding a young woman. Going through loosing her life as she knew it and culture shock of an antitheses-like society she can’t help to live in now. It has been said on this world that women are stuck between a man’s past and a man’s future. Arcadia’s rage is well founded in our suffragist movements. While women legally have the same rights as men. I feel men have only gotten better at smearing their advances from the shadows.

For me it is hard to not go back and look at how I treat the women in my life gracious enough to put up with me. I’ve been trying very hard to make sure you had the resources at your disposal to stand on your own. That work continues even today because I never want you to think you need to depend on me. I want you to know you can take care of yourself in every way. Therefore you’re with me because it’s your wish to do so and not your need to do so.

As of this letter I am down to only 1st degree burns and I suspect will be healed completely by noon or 1 PM. I got you two of the coffees you like from the Vault. I made some street tacos for you. I hope knowing you’re inspiring to me, the coffee, and food will help get you through the day. Oh I got the coffee in my hero outfit just for fun and to let people see how fast I can heal. My wish is that it gives people a renewed sense of hope that their heroes can recover for them.

Always working at being worthy of you.

Sincerely,

Gryphon

P.S. I begged the receptionist not to tell you until I left because if I saw those baby blue eyes and hair I wouldn’t want to leave. XOXOXOX

Katherine apologized to the receptionist and he nodded, “It’s okay ma’am it was clear he was into you. If I may be so bold I’d lock that one down. If you don’t I will.” He laughed but she could tell by his eyes the stories of Garrick getting hit on by men from Constance were obviously very real!

March 28th, 2024 – Thursday: Lunchtime

She had been chatting and everyone made time to video chat on the Discord server Constance got for them. When everyone got online Constance remarked, “Kat, is that the skyline of the Hill behind you? Where are you?”

“I slept on the couch here at Spirit. It’s super close to the midtown location for the GED test location. I’m heading over to the GED place today to finish off high school and start college, again, in the summer.”

“That’s wonderful of you, but does that mean you haven’t seen our handsome, frustrating boy scout?”

[Everyone laughed, somewhere Garrick felt a chill go down his spine]

“He stopped by this morning and brought coffee and food,” and she held up the note for them to read, “he couldn’t have processed what it means to nearly die.”

“Tell me about it! I have not been able to get that image out of my head! We were there trying to leave the area when one of his teammates screamed the robots were going to explode!”

Constance picked up at the pause from Ameera, “Yes, we turned around briefly to gauge our distance when he flew over the building and grabbed the tentacle arm of one of the only two we could see left. He shouted, “This is what we signed up to do!” and then up, up, and away!”

“Next, KABOOM! It was like the sun had turned on at 3 AM!”

“We both thought we had just watched him die! My body was still walking and I ran into a light pole,” Constance rubs the light bruise on her head.

“When it cleared another flying teammate of his that took care of the other robot flew over to him. They used this faint blue glowing energy to grab his listing body from floating the air and fly away. Constance’s brother showed up and was keeping us calm until @NorwoodKnights retweeted @GryphonKnight saying ‘Oww’ so we knew he wasn’t dead.”

Katherine nodded, “I saw him at the base and all you had to do was Google victims of fire damage to understand what he looked like. The one that brought him in said he undressed himself! He got to see the miraculous glow of healing energy burst over him twice before I showed up to see his active healing still working on his burns and bruises.”

“So this is what it must be like to date a cop or soldier on active duty,” Constance asked in general wonder?

“I don’t know for certain but it does ring of similarities for sure.”

“How do we tell handsome to please slow down?”

Constance pulls her phone out in front of the other two and puts it on speaker showing its calling someone called “Honey.” When the other girls arch an eyebrow she says, its their word for each other. Ameera mentioned she and Garrick use Handsome and Sweetie. Kat looked shy and mentioned Garr-bear and Kitty-Kat. Before Constance could laugh Garrick answered, “Hey Honey, I swear I am not working on work.”

Constance furrowed her brow, “So if you’re not working on Mallic, Faulkner, or M.F.T. stuff, what are you working on? Why can I here all those people in the background?”

“Well, I got coffee this morning for Kat, I stopped by Ameera’s Dance Studio and installed a small zen garden on the rear patio for helping with meditation. It’s only a foot by 3 feet. I can’t wait for her to see it, she’s been wanting one for awhile and I ordered the rocks from the bunny island in Japan where she spent some time as an exchange student. Then I bought a bunch of old motherboards and I’m working on an art installation piece that may still not be done soon. Sorry about that but when people stand about 15 feet back the objects should resemble your face. I was inspired by your framed, motherboard art and wanted to show you how much I appreciated you letting me nerd out when I come over. Now to answer your other question I am in Norwood at the 72nd CSPD Precinct Station.”

Everyone’s eyes when wide from the lovely doe-eyed looks they had hearing him describe the ways he tries to make them feel special as Constance exclaimed, “WHAT? WHY?”

“Well, I did mentioned it to some of the cops at Granny’s house and they gave me the names of the people I needed to speak with to set up me coming to work with the police for 24 hours on the 31st or this coming Sunday. I’ve been leaving messages but this was the first time I got a chance to meet with the 72nd Precinct Captain, south portion of Norwood. The District Chief and the Brisby Borough Commandant that reports to Director Balisong. I tried to tell Kat more that night but got interrupted a few times by things. Now she’s being a sweet friend to the foster girl from out of town.”

“Garri… Gryphon, do you actually know what it means to take it easy?”

“I’ve been over this with you what six, seven times now. No I don’t how to take it easy but I feel right as rain within the last half hour or so. If you want to give someone a hard time call your brother.” Everyone was surprised he snapped at Constance. She muted the phone and mentioned she really gives him a hard time about resting. “Wait, I’m sorry, all three of you keep asking this and my answer has not changed. I don’t know what you want me to infer from this so just set something up and surprise me. Constance, I could use your help on another matter though?”

Katherine wondered if knowing her longer made asking for help easier on Garrick? Constance replied, “Sure honey, I’m sorry to I just worry about you. We all worry and seeing you blow up has not helped that sense of worry. Okay, what can I do for you?”

“Can you find out what birthday Kat wants to use now? I hope she told you how she got her, umm, ‘special talents’ made her younger. She never told me what her original birthday was and I just assume she wants to forget it and that old life. I am planning something for her and I wanted to know when her ‘new’ birthday was going be now. Maybe this surprise will line up and maybe not? Please don’t tell her about the surprise. I’m sure she reads my mind all the time given how bad her ex was so its hard to keep it a secret around her. I’m always filling my head with random thoughts to try and throw her off. She’s going to be so surprised, well, I hope so at least.”

At first she was momentarily annoyed by the assumption that she always reads his mind, but then Kat was blushing and seemed to really not know glancing at the two on her screen as Constance said, “Sure honey, I have ways of making her talk. I got your back.”

Garrick thanked her and then said he had to go it was time for the meeting. He blew a kiss into the phone and hung up.

Ameera asked, “Kat, do you really scan his mind that much?”

Katherine carefully controlled her response, “I don’t know how he got that in his head. My ex-husband was a cheating douchebag and quite the liar. Garr-bear is none of those things.” Collectively, Constance and Ameera let out an ‘aww’ when she called him Garr-bear. “Now two can play at this relaxing game. After we get moved into the new house, I think we can schedule another ‘special’ night like the one after Papa Zombie.”

[Everyone nodded in agreement]

Ameera asked, “Question. We know he’s a workaholic. We know he loves helping people since I have been going to the Giving Tree to spending more time with him. They think I’m his only girlfriend, and to be fair it’s easier to let them believe what they want.” More nodding as she continued, “If Kat can keep us in the loop why don’t we start planning group relaxation times a few times a month and just kidnap him? Although, I am still super excited by another party night and the three of us going to buy lingerie together!”

Kat said it sounded like a good plan and she’d think about how to make it work. Right now each of them had to talk with Garrick when they can fit it in so he knows they’re not happy about how much he’s pushing himself. Ameera mentioned that he might react a bit odd if he’s not processed coming that close to death, the relaxing is so he can process those emotions which could be very hard on him. Everyone realized he may not be thinking of himself right now to avoid dealing with how he feels about it. Katherine wondered quietly how much of that was his sword’s doing. Was he even acting on his own accord?

The video call ended and Kat went to thank Richard and ask if he could arrange another ride to the testing center for the GED?


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.

Patsy,
Jake,
Granny,
Carl.

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?


Come watch the next game at: HippoTV!
Art by: AZ_Artisan