Tag: Ramona

They Say Time Heals All Wounds

They Say Time Heals All Wounds

April 10th, 2024 – Wednesday: 6 AM

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

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

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

April 14th, 2024 – Sunday: 11:33 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 16th, 2024 – Tuesday: 6:02 PM

Outside the Giving Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, ask away.”

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

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

“How so?”

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

“You sacrificed your past to save the future?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 18th, 2024 – Thursday

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

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

April 22nd, 2024 – Monday

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

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

May 1st, 2024 – Wednesday

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

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

May 10th, 2024 – Friday, after 10 PM

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

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

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

Art by: AZ_Artisan
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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


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.”


“Accept everything just the way it is.”


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


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


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


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


“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.”


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


“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!”


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


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

Decisions From The Heart

Decisions From The Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little bit later about 12:30 PM:

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

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

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

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

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

Gotta run Kitty Kat, work calls.

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

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

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

So we’re just friends?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Micro Fusion Reactor

A robotic power source that is scalable

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

– Garrick

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

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

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

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

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

💓 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖 💝

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Art by: AZ_Artisan




30th of January, 2024 – Tuesday 9:57pm

Hey there, could you please help me settle a bet?

Garrick looks up and smiles, this was his first time in his heroic form and showing up to the Giving Tree. He was wearing new jeans and a nice button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The apron had Mallic Robotics embroidered on the front, so he didn’t feel bad about not wearing the company shirt. He’d been trying really hard to just act like nothing had changed. No one had really said anything to him other than, “Wow, the gym has done well for you, great job!” Nathaniel had just gone out to bring more of the food to the families and children in the cafeteria. Now, he was looking at one of the workers he’d seen here before. Panicking he did not remember her name his face broke into a hint of worry, “I’m not really into sports, but I’ll try my best.”

Well then since its not about sports you could say I just saved you, but that means you owe me, right?” Her accent and light, mocha tan skin belied her Cuban heritage. Why was she talking to him? What the hell was her name? This felt like a scam he’d seen in prison but he shoved that thought out of his head because he’d seen her here for over a year. Everyone he’d met here personally was incredibly nice to him. He knew why Patsy spoke to him despite being way out of his league. He knew why Katherine tolerated him despite being interested in Nathaniel. Why was was this rather attractive woman talking to him at all?

Hello, earth to …?

“Look, that’s my fault I started taking an art class and you took my breath away the same way when I saw some of Alicia Leal’s paintings.” When her eyebrows raised he realized she was at least familiar with the Cuban artist from the turn of the century. He had been studying her work that day in an overview of artistic styles chapter. Garrick was super pleased he had avoided looking stupid, “So, yes, what was the bet again?”

Two of the other girls and I saw you have a VERY diverse group of friends, but everyone seems to call you something different. What’s your name?

Someone was fucking trolling him, no way an attractive woman walks up out of the blue and asks for his name, “So, which one did you bet on?”

Well, the director said they’ve called you Garrick, but one of my girlfriends who went to the last Mallic Robotics BBQ said Gary because everyone at your company calls you that, my other girlfriend said that the former graduate and your centaur pal call you Griff or Griffon. So I asked the director how they came by Garrick and they said it was on your driver’s license. So I am going with Garrick.

“You win, quite the detective, so you’re attractive and smart care to take pity on your cook and dishwasher with your name?”

Ramona De La Cova

“Garrick Faulkner, Miss De La Cova”

Please, Ramona…
…Wait, Faulkner? As in William Faulkner, the author?” she seemed surprised, and Garrick was mortified she might know Adeline.

“Yes, direct descendant.”

OMG! I have read all of his stuff!” She went on about every title, even his screenplays and soon Garrick relaxed. Finally believing she to was just being friendly like everyone else. He decided to talk to her to get better at dealing with women.

“Oh really,” he looked at her with mocked sarcasm, “well if you’re the kind of person that wants to suck the marrow of life then you should know this work of my great, great, great grandfather…

…So it is: sleep comes not on my eyelids.
Nor in my eyes, with shaken hair and white
Aloof pale hands, and lips and breasts of iron,
So she beholds me.

And yet though sleep comes not to me, there comes
A vision from the full smooth brow of sleep,
The white Aphrodite moving unbounded
By her own hair.

Ramona looked him washings dishes and reciting the poem clearly committed to memory. He wasn’t the only one who could play such a game and Garrick nearly stumbled when a matching voice joined his,

In the purple beaks of the doves that draw her,
Beaks straight without desire, necks bent backward
Toward Lesbos and the flying feet of Loves
Weeping behind her.

She looks not back, she looks not back to where
The nine crowned muses about Apollo
Stand like nine Corinthian columns singing
In clear evening.

She sees not the Lesbians kissing mouth
To mouth across lute strings, drunken with singing,
Nor the white feet of the Oceanides
Shining and unsandalled.

Garrick stopped and turned to face her with each of them looking into each other’s eyes as they finished the final stanza alternating each line,

Before her go cryings and lamentations
Of barren women, a thunder of wings,
While ghosts of outcast Lethean women, lamenting,
Stiffen the twilight.

A good two feet is all that stood between them before the sound and fury of the Giving Tree’s community cut their moment short like the shears of an angry fate.

“You’re good, Ramona, I was required to learn them, but your love for ‘Sapphics’ outshines my burden of lineage,” Garrick smiled continuing with the workload as they conversed until the last of the dishes went into the tray sliding into the commercial dishwasher. Turning to look at her he wondered what she was starring at as he removed his apron and noticing they had been talking for about an hour at 10:52pm, “Goodness, is there something on my face from the dishes?”

Spoken almost to fast as Ramona was jarred out of an apparent reverie, “Hey,doyouwanttogetdinnerandmaybegoseeamovie?”

“Certainly, aside from bumper cars last month with a co-worker, I don’t get out much. I’m a workaholic! I’d love to! Why don’t you get your things and meet me out front. I have to find out why Trip decided to trot all the way down here. We can exchange contact details then.”

Blushing she nodded and walked away Garrick started damage control in his head, ‘It’s not a date. It is a movie, and maybe dinner…

…yeah, its called courting…’

He began walking out front after gathering his things…

‘…How did you get through this conversation…’

‘…simple, assume they were never going to be interested in him…’

He banished his overdriven thought process as he reached everyone to explain a meeting for 6 a.m. the following day. He sent a text to Katherine, but was unsure how to ask her if she had just lied to him. He knew she was not completely honest with him, but she had promised to reveal everything soon. Then she shared a great deal more with the group and lord knew what in meditation with Nathaniel. About that time before his self-deprecation could rev up out of first gear. Ramona walked up and they exchanged business cards. She smiled at him once more, as she left she winked, turning away letting the street lamps be her spotlight till she passed into shadow of the night. Only when Garrick began to put her card away Alex wagged a finger at it and on the back was her personal cell number and a small heart with a smiley face in it.

Alex walks up to Garrick and shakes his empty hand, “Wow! Two at the same time. Wow you really are SUPER!”

Sliding the card in his pocket with an incredulous look on his face, “I don’t know what you’re talking about these are just really nice people.”

Alex winks, “Oh, so that’s the way, huh. I’m going to have to try that.”

Garrick shakes his head and waves good bye to everyone, as he heads for his truck. Before leaving the parking lot he calls Mrs. Falkenberg so she would know about the training. Figuring Trip would find a way to let Richard know he pulled out and headed home. He decided to review the video footage to see if the cameras picked up Miss Amazing at his house when Alex arrived. Everyone was asleep when he got home.


Art by: AZ_Artisan