Category Archives: in-character

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 12

We spoke to Glenn about Razmus’ findings, and the implications of what we’ve learned. We just don’t know enough, and we keep finding ourselves thinking around in circles. Glenn told us about the history between himself and Amalgam — they both became metahumans because of the same nuclear accident — who may be the one behind all this. Or there might be someone above him. That raises the question of whether Glenn was meant to be involved in this, and so on. Circles.

Razmus and I both got our powers from our parents though, and Project Perseus was trying to use both in some way. Furthermore, there are similarities between the cellular breakdown that would theoretically be caused by normal humans using the Mega-Brace and that which we’ve witnessed in the clones of Razmus. It’s not exactly the same, but the general process — where chromosomes are broken down at specific points — is very similar. In the case of the Mega-Brace this is because it’s meant “attach” at a genetic level when activated, and ordinary human DNA can’t withstand the stress that’s being applied at the wrong points. In the case of the clones, it may be a deliberate self-destruct mechanism.

In spite of the excitement the water nymph incident caused, the people here in Aegis seem fairly blase about the matter, and reconstruction began promptly. I also visited the costume shop and got a riding outfit as intended. Thankfully that part went smoothly.

The big news today was that Aphrodite was visiting Aegis. At least in terms of PR, she is far and away America’s biggest superhero. I don’t share Raz’s pathological need to insult her at every turn — a need that in him exceeds any pragmatism — but (apart from Jack) we’re all in agreement that she’s an arrogant bitch and not qualified to call herself a superhero anymore. It was her own arrogance and impulsiveness that cost Avatar her powers and split up the Watchmen (a lesson Razmus needs to remember I think), and the moment there were no cameras around she revealed her true colors, and it wasn’t pretty. That she has fans doesn’t surprise me; it’s the absolute devotion she’s afforded. No one, human or metahuman, can even stomach the idea of her being tarnished in any way, even by a 16-year-old who to all outward appearances should be of no consequence whatsoever. People act like she’s above the law, and by now she probably believes it too. And the control of information about her on the internet and in the media is downright Orwellian. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt — she does at least give the world a positive view of metahumans — but that was a waste. She would be an impossibly powerful foe if it came to that.

Razmus has been a lot more friendly and such (and he even listened to me when I told him not to make pointless trouble by throwing a tomato at Aphrodite), but he still can’t help but find ways to infuriate me. In one of his regular visits to the comics store he picked up a Mega-Rider manga tankoubon — I didn’t know they published them in English — and when I mentioned about the extensive Mega-Rider merchandise (and Ryo’s collection of such) he immediately went conclusion-jumping and assumed that my father (you know, the one that Raz knows nothing about, much less has ever met) was a “sellout.” I’m going to let it slide this time.

I wonder if these dreams are because of the Mega-Brace. I hate feeling helpless. Two more weeks to go, and they’re passing so quickly. I called mom and told her Glenn and I — and three more — were coming. When I asked about my grandfather, she just said, “We’ll talk about that when you get here.” I suppose since she married him she must know something about my father, but it never occurred to me that there’d be something she was keeping from me. She’s always seemed so normal, and I think that’s what dad liked about her.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 11

It’s been a long day. And a long night. After the water nymph incident was finally done with, everyone broke off to do their own thing. I went to look at motorcycles, and learned that I don’t have anywhere near the funds to get something that would actually support my armor. I picked up a book on metahuman genetics to give me something to do in my free time (I need a new hobby), and wound up having dinner with Glenn, Sam, and Jack. Over dinner, Glenn suggested we look into getting some kind of superhero costumes, for anonymity. Considering that Pinnacle and who knows what else are out there, in principle this sounds like a good idea. No tights for me though. I’m thinking a motorcycle riding outfit.

I’d suspected that Raz had slipped off somewhere to indulge his martyr complex, and it turned out he had in fact gone off hitchhiking to the south of Aegis. The guy from the Super-Mentors gave us a lift to go look for him, and we found him on the side of the road. He got his powers back (as I was sure he would, one way or another) and then some, so at least he’s got one less thing to complain about. When he was in the car, Raz handed me something he’d picked up, a folder of experimental data. And the watermark on every page was the twin snakes and sword of the Perseus Project.

Now, here’s the funny thing. He insisted that the two of us talk about it in private. He’s confiding in and trusting me. And reminding me a lot of Ryo, actually. Anyway, from what Raz told me and what was in the file, it looks like the project has facilities in the U.S., including an abandonded one that’s too close to Aegis to be a coincidence. The files showed chemical, genetic, and radiological experiments–stuff that the project’s stated ethical guidelines expressly forbids–being used on human subjects. The data is incomplete, a sheaf of surviving pages from at least a dozen different lab reports, and the chemicals and processes being used are exceedingly complex, but I’ve started trying to piece it together. More importantly, Raz said that in the facility — which was left wide open — he found another clone, only this one had been left in a tube of some chemical compound, and telepathically begged him for release, for death. He also found out the locations of some of the other clones, most in the Americas, but a couple in Japan. I told him about what they were planning with the Mega-Brace. I keep thinking I left something out.

He told me to call him “Razmus.” I don’t know what that means exactly, but I suspect it’s the beginning of the end of the friction between us.

Does the cellular breakdown that the Mega-Brace would cause to humans have some connection to the way the clones of Raz turn into a dehydrated black goo? I need to go over that data again. Plus Raz brought me some new samples. Having him around really is like having another little brother at times.

I need answers. This whole thing is driving me crazy. And now more than ever I think I’m only going to find those answers by going back to Japan. If I don’t get some kind of answer, some kind of sign, I may just decide to drop the superhero act and try to live some kind of normal life. It’s not too late to apply to Todai again.

I’ve been a different person once before. There was that little space between when my father died and when I started middle school, when I was the klutzy crybaby, and apart from the teachers, the only one in my class who wore glasses. Oneechan (who was actually my best friend Chiaki’s older sister) was the one who helped me grow up a little. She also exposed us to a fair amount of second-hand smoke, but nobody’s perfect. Chiaki, Miho, Karen, Oneechan, and me. I think Chiaki’s family is still in Yokohama.

I had that dream again. I really miss my father.


There’s this and there’s this. The comments add more context to the story, but ultimately make your brain melt. If I ever let myself get caught in stupid flamey arguments about games and thereby wasting time that could be spent creating or enjoying games, someone please slap me. Games are for having fun. Stupid flamey arguments are not fun.

I’m oversimplifying. My workload is wearing on me. Outside of my close friends almost no one reads this stuff anyway.

Or do you?

Oh yeah. I ordered The Mountain Witch (IPR was having a sale, so I finally caved in), and finished reading it the other day. Along with octaNe and the Halo game I need to finish writing, it’s now on the list of games I really want to try out.

Current Mood: Exhausted
Current Music: Pink Floyd – Time

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 10

Today I got to feel useful.

We took a private jet to Aegis, in the middle of the night. I keep mentioning Raz, but no one else feels the need to shove so many things in other people’s faces. He has a way of looking at the world that draws out the flaws in others. So, he accused the metahumans of Aegis of xenophobia. I suppose there’s a kernel of truth somewhere in there, but it’s leaving out so much of the story, seemingly to give him an excuse to look down on an entire city of people he’s never even met. If there’s anyone who should understand the desire to get away from people prejudiced against those who are different, it’s Raz. Instead, accusations, conflating cause and effect.

Aegis is small and flat and new, and populated not only by metahumans, but their families, and an entire secondary population that takes care of much of the day to day matters. Especially for a nonprofit organization, the facilities of the Super-Mentors is impressive. We signed the paperwork that made us a super-team. Officially. Unfortunately, not too long after we had two problems emerge — and at this point I can only assume they’re in some way related. Sam was feeling exceedingly tired, and had to be hospitalized, while Raz… seemed to have lost his powers.

I decided to investigate what I could, comparing the original samples with the black goo and the new samples taken by the medical center. The metahuman element in Raz seemed to have simply vanished, while Sam was… growing a third DNA helix, making him something unique in the world. It’s hard to say what exactly this means, except that it created a new incident. As the process was nearing completion, the water in the medical center started to go crazy. He started creating water nymphs, just like Raz said he did at Sunspot’s house, but this time there were several hundred of them, and they began to combine into two colossal ones.

I stopped Raz from going in there. He wants me to trust my instincts and make snap decisions, and that’s what he got. He said something odd; he asked how I would feel if someone took the Mega-Brace. I made some lame comment about how “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” but once again he doesn’t understand how I think. I’m not proud of it, but if my conscience would let me be rid of it, I would. If the Mega-Brace hadn’t entered into my life, I could be attending Tokyo University right now, and instead I’m lying to my family, risking my life, and wearing my father’s mask, all for ideals I haven’t really been able to fulfill yet. The only life I can definitely say I saved was that of Swan after all. He said something about how his powers are how he knows who he is. Is this a teenager thing? I know who I am, even if I’m not always happy with it, and the Mega-Brace is at best a symbol, not the article itself.

Glenn and Jack rescued the comatose Sam from the medical center, and I used the Mega-Beam for the first time to help defeat the giant water nymphs. It was quite a sight to see more than 50 metahumans working as one, and an amazing feeling to be a part of something so big. The first one we literally evaporated, and the second one Glenn put oxygen tanks into, and I detonated. I wound up using it four times, and it took a lot out of me.

When the dust settled, the medical center was all but demolished, Raz still had no powers, and Sam was feeling exceptionally healthy. Maybe “Stormcrows” would be a better name for our group. When disaster doesn’t come to us, we bring it ourselves, one way or another.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 9

I’m still off-balance. My life has never changed so much; it was always a succession of grades and schools, the differences more and more meaningless. In our morning training session, Raz had me dance. That I went along with it is a testament to how determined I am to make this superhero thing happen. I remember dancing with Keisuke, the night before he went off to study in England, and I remember not crying and wondering why.

Today was about Raz, mostly. We were investigating a series of seemingly random beatings, by someone who from the surveillance footage might or might not have been the spitting image of him. There were some kind of telepathic messages involved — “Suffer” — from someone who must not understand the nature of the human condition. I think I need to get a better grasp of Raz’s philosophy of spontanaity in case he decides to try to be a martyr again. Superheroes are supposed to help people, and that includes other superheroes. We caught up with him at the airport, where he was fighting what looked like some kind of clone or duplicate of himself, and some sort of force field kept us from getting involved. When he beheaded his other self, the body dissolved into black goo. I still need to do an analysis, not that we have the facilities to do the in-depth study I’d like to do. He actually handled it fine himself this time, but there’s no telling how many others there are out there.

This wouldn’t be so frustrating, except I transformed in public. People were running for their lives, and somehow they found time to point a damn television camera, so “Mega-Rider II” is all over the news. I never really thought about what it would be like to be famous, but seeing myself on the news makes my skin crawl. I need to become a different person, a better person, but I can’t change fast enough.

Things are moving even faster now. We’re probably going to be flying out to Colorado, to Aegis, a town supposedly populated by metahumans, tomorrow. I don’t think of myself as a metahuman, but then I don’t think I ever quite figured out what a human is in the first place. Life requires certain assumptions of you, including the assumption that those around you have the same kinds of thoughts, feelings, and rights. That people think otherwise is why we need superheroes, I suppose. Still, I wonder. The population of metahumans has been steadily rising through the 20th century and into the present. It’s still a small fraction of the world population, but for how long?

The tenth anniversary of my father’s death is looming nearer every day. I’ve never known the world to care much for round numbers — January 1, 2000 was by all accounts a dull and ordinary day — but I can’t shake the feeling that this will be an exception, if only because someone wishes to make it so.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 8

I think I’m just going to have to get used to not being able to get a firm footing in things. Invisible waves pressing down from the sky, a motorcycle the other me can’t ride, and dreams that are memories of alien delusions. The life of a superhero is punctuated equilibrium, swathes of boredom and sudden electric shocks of adrenaline and death. Survival of the maddest.

Enough poetry. I spent a week with very little to do besides replay the incident with Swan in my mind and worry about the future. I went to the training room by myself a few times, but the weight of everything on my mind left me sprawled on my bed more often than not. There were days like that in high school sometimes, but high school was only rarely life and death. I know why I’m doing this hero thing–my conscience won’t let me not do it–but the motivations of the others are alien to me. Glenn did it for years, and I wonder if even he knows why he does it anymore. Sam is just opaque to me, and Jack isn’t entirely right in the head. Raz is a lot of things, including a screwed-up teenager whose standard delusions of immortality are validated by real super powers. And I think he’s running from something.

I finally talked to Raz though. I’ve been avoiding it, dreading it. Now that it’s over I’m not sure whether I was more concerned about what I would say or what he would say. He’s just so damn sure of himself, so sure that just because things went horribly wrong doesn’t mean he didn’t do the right thing. Being a hero is already treading on thin ice in so many ways, power and responsibility. Of course, he’s just like me in that he has a hard time seeing the world through different eyes. He talks about trusting instincts and following your heart, as though it’s something you can just pick up. He talks a lot, actually. There are some things you can’t learn by trying to learn them.

I don’t know how I got this way, though losing my father to a kaijuu when I was eight probably had something to do with it. High school taught me that emotions are a double-edged sword, and that drama is a cave where what you find is what you take in with you. I really wonder if the people in this new life would even recognize me if they saw me in high school. Everything seemed so pointless back then, but I played some of the games anyway as a way to alleviate the boredom. So now I’m a cynic who’s tired of relationships and sex, and deeply addicted to nicotine. I have that same floating sensation, only the current is stronger.

Japan shouldn’t feel so far away, in time as well as space. But my life now is so far removed from my high school life. When I go back there — less than two months now — it won’t be the same anyway. But knowing my mom, she’s going to make sure I wind up seeing all of my high school “friends.” Suzuka, Takeshi, Eri, and the others. Takeshi and Suzuka are the only ones I ever told about my father’s secret identity (and that had more to do with Ryo having such a big mouth). I’m trying to imagine introducing them to my new superhero teammates, and any way I look at it the picture includes Suzuka being all over Raz. She always liked the younger pretty boys. As long as they understand that I have no interest in him in that way. And bringing Sam and Jack to Japan would be… an experience.

I’m going to have to tell mom the truth about what I’ve been doing. If there’s anyone who ought to know the truth. I don’t know that she’ll be happy about it, but better me than Ryo. He’s been eyeing the Mega-Brace since he was nine, and he managed to break his leg once without getting into a super-battle (he was playing soccer; I had to go pick him up from school).

Anyway, with Raz I think things are as patched up as they’re going to get. He demonstrated why I don’t have the same trust in snap decisions: the moment a conversation becomes heated, people say stupid things they don’t mean. The best I could come up with under his barrage of self-righteous words was “I don’t hate you.” That much is true. He infuriates me sometimes, and it would be at best stretching the truth to say that I like him, but there is something there. I can work with him. Next time it’s him and Jack who need to do some kind of bonding. Raz gets so skeeved out around Jack I can’t help but laugh. To me Jack is mostly just a quiet guy who keeps to himself and occasionally blurts out tasteless jokes.

I think all five of us have a past that’s going to haunt us, and it looks like I’m up next. But I’m betting everyone will get their turn.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 7

Everything is moving so fast, the moment I think I know what to do the situation has already changed. I spend hours seething about Raz, and when we went to visit him in the hospital I wound up not saying any of the things I went over in my head an hundred times. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When the police chief came to visit us after the incident, it turned out he had something for me. The Japanese embassy had sent me a new passport and a renewed 2-year student visa. Which means that (1) someone with the ability to pull strings in both the Japanese and American governments knows what I’m doing, and (2) for the moment they like it.

I finally called home and talked to mom… and everything was fine. I avoided saying too much — lying by omission — but I did tell her that I’d met one of dad’s old friends. She’s met Glenn, and asked me to tell him about how the 10th anniversary memorial for dad would be in 2 months. I forgot to tell him, because the next time I got to speak to him, he got me thinking about plenty of other things. Glenn had no inkling whatsoever that dad was an alien, and really, I only “know” that because he told me when I was about six years old. He pointed to one of the stars in the sky, and said, “I came from there, because this planet needs heroes.” He also said he once met my grandfather — on my father’s side. I need to ask mom about that. He also asked whether I’d tried taking my helmet off while transformed. It hadn’t occurred to me to try, and now that the notion is in my head, I’m scared.

I have a feeling we’re going to wind up going to the memorial. I could use some answers, but I don’t want to drag the others into my problems. Only, that’s the way things work, and I’m sure they’ll wind up pulling me into theirs too.

Sam asked us to come to another of his wrestling shows. Ryo would’ve loved it, and I’m glad he’s in Japan. Apparently it was some kind of big finish, one final match against the Mad Butcher, before he retired from wrestling. I’ll spare the details because, really, I can’t make heads or tails of them anyway. Jack got involved in it, and it was definitely memorable. Wrestling isn’t my thing, but Sam loves it enough to do it in spite of the crappy pay and constant physical abuse, and he had to give it up because he’s a metahuman. How far will this go?

Anyway, Glenn insisted we all go to the hospital to see Raz. Not surprisingly, he was already conscious and feeling well enough to make snide remarks. Raz’ actions the other day had already started to have repercussions — the press was having a field day, and a metahuman punching a 50-year-old woman in the throat is apparently much more interesting than the appearance of five new metahumans in the city — and Glenn’s only solution was for us to become an official super-group. When all is said and done, we all agreed to do it. Right now, none of us have anywhere else to go. Eventually we settled on a name: The Gatekeepers.

It’s scary and exciting and I may have made a huge mistake, but that’s the way it goes. Glenn is like a father figure to me — he knew that part of my father far better than I did — Raz is the obnoxious middle-child younger brother I never wanted… and Sam and Jack are just too weird to fit into familial archetypes. When we dealt with Pinnacle we saw how effective we could be when we all worked together, and the confrontation with Swan and Elephant Man gave us a taste of how badly things could go if we didn’t.

I really need to explain a few things to Raz. I’m just not good at this, but I don’t want to see him drag us all down. He’s smarter than that, when he wants to be. I know I’m stressing over this too much, because I got through two and a half cigarettes in the hospital before I realized what I was doing. And everyone else is defintiely stressing too much because none of them seemed to even notice.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 6

I take back every good thing I’ve ever said about Raz. Right now he’s in the hospital, in a full-body cast, and I never imagined I’d have to avoid visiting someone in the hospital just because I’m too angry at them.

Today started with what has become a regular training session, except that halfway through he asked me to transform and go all-out. Now I think he was testing himself. It’s like he just can’t let go of the exceedingly simple notion that there could be someone better than him.

Anyway, I went downtown to run some errands — paying the rent and closing out my old apartment, and dropping off a letter for Sam — and that turned out to be the start of this bizarre day. Behind me at the bank was a massive man with an elephant head. No, I’m not joking. It turns out he was the metahuman known as the Elephant Man, there to rob the bank. At Glenn’s advice I tried to delay him, but there was only so much I could do. The thing about the Elephant Man (or “E,” as Glenn calls him) is that he’s incredibly stupid, and basically good-natured. The problem is he’s incredibly sensitive about his looks and extremely destructive when he gets angry. It turned out he was robbing the bank because a “poor lady” had asked him to, so she could “feed her kids.”

Glenn talked him into taking us to see this lady, and she turned out to be Swan. Apparently she was an opera diva whose voice-based metahuman powers ended her career. From there she turned to a life of crime, even using her voice powers to mind-control superheroes — including Dynamo — rob banks and such. And it was Mega-Rider, who was immune to her mind control, who saved the day. She’s now middle-aged and even more bitter.

We confronted her in her penthouse. She was not happy to see Glenn, and the feeling was definitely mutual. Things were going about as well as they could have, and then Raz got involved. At first his plan wasn’t too bad; he pretended to be Swan’s “son” and tried to provoke the Elephant Man (he even picked up a jar of peanuts somewhere).

Then, when Swan tried to use her voice powers on us, everything went all to hell. Raz use his full strength to punch her in the throat so hard she went through and out the window. On the 18th story. So, apparently in Raz’s demented little world bad people need to just die, and he thinks he knows how to always tell who the “bad” people are and will never make a mistake and kill someone innocent. I didn’t get to spend much time with my father, but I do remember him telling me that vengeance isn’t justice, and killing isn’t heroic. I saved that woman’s life, and I saved Raz from becoming a killer. Assuming he isn’t already. Is he just too stupid to understand that knocking her out or even just covering her mouth would’ve been enough? She has a dangerous power (or maybe I should say “had,” since he may have crushed her larynx), but physically she’s just a middle-aged woman.

The Elephant Man was mad at him too. I didn’t get to see what happened, but the two of them came flying out of the window, and E managed to land a second blow on Raz on the way down. Jack and Glenn managed to keep him from being crushed under the Elephant Man, which might’ve finished him off, but he was still exceedingly injured, like he’d been hit with not one but two freight trains. The last I saw of him, he was being carried off in an ambulance, and it looked like half the bones in his body were broken.

I want to say something like “serves him right,” but I can’t help but think that once he heals up — which he’ll no doubt do with infuriating speed — he’ll still be certain that he was in the right. It’s like what he really wants, as part of some deep instinct, is to just hurt people, and he convinces himself that since he’s doing it to “bad” people he must be doing good. Hurting the bad guy only matters insofar as it protects the innocent — and I’m sure his definition of “innocent” gets conveniently narrow at times too.

From what I know of Raz’s physiology he’ll be in the hospital for at least another week or two. A normal human would’ve been dead if they’d suffered the kind of trauma he did, and someone exceptional enough to have survived would need at least six weeks to recover enough to leave the hospital, and even then they’d probably find themselves taking painkillers for the rest of their life. After the way this past week has gone, I definitely need some time away from him.

I still need to call home. I keep thinking too hard about how to keep it from being traced back to me and running around in circles. I need to know what’s going on with my mother, and ultimately, I’m going to have to face up to what I’ve done. Every time I go out in public as Mega-Rider, more people see me, and more questions are going to be asked. Come to think of it, I’d better see if the press is saying anything about me.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 5

Today we won. It doesn’t feel like it, but we won. I would gain nothing from killing Pinnacle, but knowing that he somehow escaped is gnawing at me.

It was a strange day, with a lot of waiting. Apparently Raz does comprehend the idea that swimming is best learned by starting in the shallow end of the pool rather than the depths of the ocean, because when I went to the training room he actually explained things. Which means yesterday he must’ve been testing me. For what I can’t say. His heart is (mostly) in the right place, but he’s infuriating sometimes.

Going shopping before a super battle is a surreal experience. Sam went to a toy store for a massive squirt gun, while Jack wanted to go to a hardware store. Raz managed to get himself kicked out, and apparently decided to “punish” the store manager for not wanting to sell a chainsaw to an unstable-looking 16-year-old by stealing his wallet. Irony abounds, and I was too amused to get angry. Dynamo stayed as far away from the superhero aisle in the toy store as he could without letting it be obvious.

We lured Pinnacle out to a car lot near where he’d wanted us to come. His skill was… unreal. I just couldn’t touch him, and Raz didn’t fare any better. (Raz seems to have a hard time with the idea that someone in the world could be more skilled than him). Dynamo managed to score a good hit, but still not enough to really faze Pinnacle. It was a combined effort–Jack teleported Pinnacle into a half-crushed car, and Raz and I combined our efforts to stomp on it from above–that brought the confrontation (I hesitate to call it a “battle”) to an abrupt end. Still, there was absolutely no sign of Pinnacle, and no reason to believe he isn’t still alive. His cloned soldiers vanished in front of our eyes, and the only thing left in the warehouse was a laptop whose contents were sealed away with military-grade encryption. He knows us a little too well–he might even have surveillance capability matching or exceeding our access to street and satellite cameras–and he’s still at large. The only good thing here is that for the moment he’s more interested in us than he is in hurting innocents, but then he knows that’s something he can leverage against us.

And another thing: I need a new motorcycle. It hadn’t occurred to me that the Mega-Rider armor weighing over 500 pounds means my bike can’t possibly support it. If I was operating out of Tokyo I might be able to lay my hands on dad’s old Fenrir II, but for the moment I’m out of luck. The armor’s weight has been reduced with its recently modified form, but not nearly enough to ride an ordinary dirt bike. And besides, especially for superheroing, that kind of horsepower could actually come in handy. And don’t get me started about the new Fenrir VIII.

I’m not sure if I should, but I want to call home, to see if mom is okay. There could be some kind of trap set for me already, but what choice do I have, really? Maybe there’s a way to use the resources at our HQ to make a call untraceable…

[OOC: I can’t help but be reminded of the closing number from Once More, With Feeling: “The battle’s done and we kind of won / So we sound our victory cheer. / Where do we go from here?”]

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 4

[More of Hikaru’s in-character observations. The player of Raz has decided to so something similar.]

This morning Raz surprised me by acting somewhat civil and even saving me the trouble of asking him to show me how to fight. Through blind luck I managed to get one over on him and he just lost it and came after me full force, shapeshifting, super-strength, and all. I’m trying to figure out how to explain to him that different people learn differently. I need to be able to take a thing apart and understand what it’s made of, while he seems to prefer to throw someone into the water and hope they figure out how to swim. Combat has an emotional dimension, to be sure, but it can also be understood through “numbers.” The body has various strengths and weaknesses, points of attack and defense, limitations of perception, and so forth. An opponent is likewise a mixture of positives and negatives. Victory is a matter of taking away strengths and/or exploiting weaknesses. Thinking about it that way I can wrap my head around it, but when a rampaging visual rock lunatic is charching towards me I can’t.

Maybe that has something to do with why I decided to accompany him on “patrol,” which is his word for going to a bad part of town and getting into an unproductive brawl. Yes, crime is bad, drugs are bad, etc., but there has to be a better way of improving things. Moreover, we underestimated Pinnacle. We were in an alleyway and while Raz was busy ploughing through a gang of 15 or so, Pinnacle somehow managed to abduct me before any of us even knew what was happening. It was only through careful analysis of the surveillance footage after the fact that Glenn figured out that Pinnacle had used some kind of optical camouflage to sneak in and chloroform me and slip away. I had been expecting a cold-blooded killer and a skilled soldier, but it hadn’t occurred to me that a man who could afford cloned soldiers and powered armor could also get his hands on an optical camouflage cloak. I was very, very lucky that for the moment Pinnacle only wanted to use me to deliver a message. He wants us to turn ourselves over by 6 p.m. tomorrow, or he’ll let his soldiers loose in the middle of San Francisco. He’s playing on our desire to protect the innocent, something he obviously lacks.

We went over the powers available to our group members. Dynamo’s kinetic energy enhancement, Jack’s shadow power, Raz’s shapeshifting and super-strength, Sam’s hydrokinesis, and finally my rider powers. When I demonstrated the transformation an odd thing happened though: the armor was different. It was smaller and, frankly, more feminine. It looks like it’s adapting to my physiology much faster than I had dared to hope. (I should think about what to call myself when it stabilizes.) Supergroups have always had a diversity of powers, but I feel like we’re blatantly mismatched. The Watchmen were varied, but we seem to all come from completely different worlds. I am very much a Japanese transforming hero, Dynamo is a rank-and-file American superhero, Raz seems to be part demon, Jack comes off as a homeless guy with weird powers, and Sam… is a pro-wrestler.

I had a dream last night, and when I woke up at 5 in the morning I couldn’t get back to sleep. (Not that I’ve been sleeping well the past few days anyway). In the dream I was a little girl with magical powers, and I was fighting alongside my father. I can’t remember any more. I don’t dream often, and I don’t often remember the details, but the remaining fragments of this dream are still right behind my eyes. I didn’t even see him that much, but I miss my father. I miss the way he would make us feel like everything would be all right.

That’s right. The Japanese government is looking for me. And mom isn’t well. The Mega-Brace has to figure into the situation somehow, but… Can I risk calling home? Mom and Ryo should be alright financially with dad’s pension, but what if the need me? Maybe it was dumb of me to come to America, but I can’t even think about going back until we deal with Pinnacle. Maybe circumstances will force the issue again and I won’t have to choose.