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Literature
Appreciation
Appreciation
“Ah, Detective Kovach! What a pleasant surprise to see you here. Usually you just call us. To what do we owe the pleasure of a visit?”
‘Why did she have to answer the door?” Ronald Kovach mentally asked himself as he tilted his head back to keep his gaze fixed on the catlike features of Sapphire Sorceress’ face. It was dangerous to look anywhere else since her costume barely covered what was necessary to to avoid an indecent exposure charge. Right now, though, she wasn’t in costume. Instead, she was wearing a silk kimono-style robe that was far too short for her height and was, oh god...untied. She must have just stepped out of a shower to answer the door as droplets of water sparkled on her exposed coppery-gold skin and his attention was caught by a trickle of water that slithered down her front, between the generous swell of her breasts, down to her taut, muscular belly and then...
oh, God!
Sapphire Sorceress purred a chuckle as Gray C
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Mature content
All Fun and Games pt2 :iconm-masque:m-masque 2 3
Penny and Ruth by m-masque Penny and Ruth :iconm-masque:m-masque 3 2
Mature content
All Fun and Games pt 1 :iconm-masque:m-masque 3 0
Mature content
Ghouls and Dolls. A Starlight Dancer story :iconm-masque:m-masque 3 1
Literature
The Protectors: Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. pt 6
Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. Pt6
The alarm startled Doctor Kalipay awake and nearly scared him out of his bed. Through the fog of sleep, it took him a few seconds to realize this alarm shouldn’t be sounding; not without several others going off first. There should have been half a dozen different warnings and alarms before the lethal radiation exposure klaxon sounded.  By all rights, he’d be as likely to be a part of the radioactive slag as have this particular alarm go off without others happening first.
Thus, instead of immediately getting out of there, he went to his computer terminal to check on the reactor status. And discovered that he’d been locked out. Fingerprint, retinal scan, password, none of them would work. That left only one possibility...
Enemy action!
But who?
He was the only person with access permission that could cut off all of his access, and he certainly hadn’t done it. While it was possible that it was an external attack, the results made i
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Literature
The Protectors: Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. pt 5
Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. pt5
Sapphire Sorceress.
“Is the some rule somewhere that autopsies must be performed after midnight?” Doctor Kim Reynolds asked the otherwise empty room. There was only here and half a dozen morgue lockers and all but one of them was empty. It was two A.M. Being in the middle of fuckall, Nevada was eerie enough during the daytime but it was even worse during the night. Even as deep underground as this facility was, she could swear she could hear the wind and coyotes howling. Maybe she’d look into that relocation offer from Groom Lake; at least she’d work  daylight hours...
She opened the door to the locker containing her subject and pulled out the tray with the body bag on preliminary report stated the arrows that he been shot into the body had been removed but were stored with it in the bag. A bit more of a tug and she transferred the tray onto the gurney and rolled it to the center of the room, underneath the bright lights surgery r
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Starlight Dancer by White0wlsuperheroine by m-masque Starlight Dancer by White0wlsuperheroine :iconm-masque:m-masque 5 1 Starlight Dancer plushie by m-masque Starlight Dancer plushie :iconm-masque:m-masque 0 0 The Stlight Dancer artwork by Hippo2 by m-masque The Stlight Dancer artwork by Hippo2 :iconm-masque:m-masque 2 1
Literature
Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. Pt4
Scrum Bloody M.R.D.R. Pt4
The Adversary
The nightmares were the only time he permitted himself to be afraid. It was the only time he could be. Let the terrors have him when he was helpless to prevent them and unable to awaken to escape them. He could only awaken when his body decided it had enough rest and not a moment sooner, so it was the only time he allowed himself to feel failure.
The nightmares were always the worst when his body and mind regenerated from what would be, for anyone else, irreparable, fatal damage and they would replay all the times he had endured such. So many times as it was nearly beyond his own ability to number them.  He’d been burned and frozen, eaten by acid, melted by radiation, over and over and over again; yet his body always repaired the damage.
Repaired, not healed. Healing came much later once he understood his heritage and realized why he has been subjected to the torments he had endured. His natural ability of shapeshifting, which helped a
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Mature content
The Protectors: Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. pt3 :iconm-masque:m-masque 1 0
Starlight Dancer and her ride by m-masque Starlight Dancer and her ride :iconm-masque:m-masque 4 3
Mature content
The. Protectors: Scream Bloody M.R.D.R pt2 :iconm-masque:m-masque 1 1
Mature content
The Protectors: Scream Bloody M.R.D.R. Pt 1 :iconm-masque:m-masque 2 0
Mature content
The Protectors: Anime-hem part 8 :iconm-masque:m-masque 2 0

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Activity


Appreciation

“Ah, Detective Kovach! What a pleasant surprise to see you here. Usually you just call us. To what do we owe the pleasure of a visit?”

‘Why did she have to answer the door?” Ronald Kovach mentally asked himself as he tilted his head back to keep his gaze fixed on the catlike features of Sapphire Sorceress’ face. It was dangerous to look anywhere else since her costume barely covered what was necessary to to avoid an indecent exposure charge. Right now, though, she wasn’t in costume. Instead, she was wearing a silk kimono-style robe that was far too short for her height and was, oh god...untied. She must have just stepped out of a shower to answer the door as droplets of water sparkled on her exposed coppery-gold skin and his attention was caught by a trickle of water that slithered down her front, between the generous swell of her breasts, down to her taut, muscular belly and then...

oh, God!

Sapphire Sorceress purred a chuckle as Gray City Police Department Detective Ronald Kovach quickly spun to face away from her as he realized the robe wasn’t tied shut. She knew she was just inside the letter of the law for indecent exposure at the best of times and, if she took one more stride forward, he could arrest her since she would then be outside of her home and private residence. She wondered how tightly he’d apply the hand cuffs if he arrested her...

“Detective,” She said, chuckling a bit more at his readily apparent discomfort, he was just so much fun to tease, “I promise, it’s safe to turn around now. I just put my costume on.”

He turned slowly, nervously, then looked at her. “I...I’m not sure that helps, Ma’am.”

Where she had been nearly naked and dripping wet, now she gleamed as if her skin was the metal it resembled that had been polished to a shine. A scattering of sapphires decorated her form, heavily enough to barely hide the parts of her anatomy that needed to be hidden, with larger gems on the back of each hand.

“Not to your tastes, Detective?” She asked, smiling her catlike smile, “I’ve been trying out different styles, see what I like and be effective in the field.”

“Down Sorceress,” Came a voice from down the hallway. Kovach saw, with relief, that it was Gray Ranger. She was wearing her costume of multiple shades of Gray, half mask covering her face from the nose down and hooded cloak shading her eyes. “I’m sorry Sapphire Sorceress was the one to greet you, Detective, Dancer and I were in the training room. I’m afraid that Sapphire is harder to get house broken than my cats are. Please, come in. Would you like some coffee? Dancer’s fixing a fresh pot.”

“Thank you, Ma’am,” Kovach said, following her and tried to ignore Sapphire Sorceress mouthing, “they were screwing...”

Gray Ranger lead theme to a room that looked very much like a kitchen and he saw Starlight Dancer at a counter along one side setting mugs and pots of cream and sugar on a w]tray while a small pot of coffee was brewing and a larger pot of water came to a boil. As it did, she set a small selections of tea bags on the tray then finally added both pots. As usually, even standing relatively still, the star field pattern of her costume and cape made her seem to be in motion; to his eyes, she always seemed to never be still.as she brought the tray to a central table, Kovach’s attention was caught by a raspy hiss and crunching noises. Three masses of reddish fur, each the size of medium-sized dogs, were in a far corner, side by side and munching away at pieces of raw chicken; bones and all. The crunching was sometimes interrupted by one of the forms trying to take a bite of the chicken another had I. It’s mouth and this led to a hiss, a snarl and the offender getting a paw swipe from its intended victim.

“My cats,” Ranger said, smiling at the look he gave her. She died, “Caracals. They’re about 7 months old and not quite full grown yet”

“H-how,” Kovach squeaked, stopped and got his voice under control, “how big will they get?”

“Oh, I think not quite a foot and a half tall and about three and a half feet long. Somewhere between forty and fifty pounds each, probably.”

One of them looked up and turned to face him. It’s face reminded him of pictures he’d seen of cougars but the ears were much larger; black-furred and tipped with tufts of fur that made the, seem nearly twice as long as they really were. There were some black spots above the eyes and lines of black running down from the inner corners of the eyes to the sides of the nose.

“Don’t be afraid, Detective,” He heard Sapphire Sorceress say, “they’re really just big babies.” She smiled at him and her face bore a striking resemblance to the caracals’. He idly wondered if she was somehow related to them.

“Coffee, Detective?” Starlight Dancer asked. If Sapphire Sorceress’ voice was a seductive purr, Dancer’s was a gentle whisper,  seemingly at odds with what he knew of her martial prowess. Of the three of them, Gray Ranger seemed to have the most normal sounding voice though he couldn’t quite place her accent and he suspected she had something that served to alter her voice hidden behind her mask. “Or would you like tea instead?”

“Coffee, please, Miss Dancer,” he answered, indicating cream but no sugar. She served him while the others selected tea bags, filled mugs with hot water and let the bags steep. He kept himself from making a comment about how normal this was,it was as if he regularly had refreshments with superheroes!

“What brings you to visit us, Detective Kovach?” Gray Ranger asked after a minute  or two. “I think this is the first time you or any other of the liaisons we’ve had with the Gray City Police have paid us a courtesy visit.”

“I wanted to come in person to extend an invitation,” He answered. “The City is holding an Appreciation Day in your honor this coming Sunday and we’d like for the three of you to attend. Or however many of you there are. I haven’t seen that fiery woman lately.”

“Sadly, Ifriti is no longer with us,” Dancer said. Oddly, he didn’t note sorrow in her voice and decided to not ask questions that might be embarrassing or painful. “There’s just the three of us right now plus a person who acts as support and provisioner.”

“That person would be welcome, too,” Kovach replied.

“What can you tell us about this Appreciation day?” Gray Ranger asked. “I don’t recall Gray City having anything like this before.”

“We haven’t, Ma’am,” He answered, shaking his head. “A lot of things happen4d in the last couple years. You and Starlight Dancer breaking up a Russian mob takeover attempt, eventually Sapphire Sorceress joined you and, very recently you stopped the attack at the comic convention. One of the people you saved is the daughter of key Alderman; she pushed him to urge recognition. Also, we received a call from our counterparts in Queen City. It seems you were down there not long ago?”

“I was,” Dancer replied with a nod, “I was tying up a loose end with one of our own cases and then ended up aiding White Owl in another matter while I was there.”

“That would explain it, then,” He nodded again. “QCPD’s Chief said he’s gotten a ‘suggestion’ from White Owl to tell us we should hold some official, public, recognition of the three of you and suggested a date. I guess Queen City holds an annual parade on the date.”

“That was very nice of her, Detective,” Dancer smiled. “I’m not sure about a parade, though.”

“We can’t hold on on so short a notice period. Instead, for this year, we’re planning on a public gathering at Millennium Park, near the Bean. A stage, podium, a chance for each of you to say a few words if you wish. The Mayor is going to officially recognize you, thank you for all the good you’ve done for this city.” Kovach chuckled, “I hear he’s going to do his best to even smile while he says it.”

Sapphire Sorceress gave a little laugh, “Mayor Rohm eating crow? That’s worth the price of admission right there! Best take a census of your Ravens, Dancer, and make sure none are missing.”

“Hush, Sapphire,” Ranger said. “Gray City has had a long, storied history regarding crime and politicians.”

“We have, yes,” Kovach said. “Reaching a height with the gang activities during Prohibition and up into the times of the first Mayor Daley. His son set to work trying to clean out the corruption in the police when he became mayor and he also set the anti-vigilante law that was in effect when you and Starlight Dancer appeared in the City.”

“She was here first, Detective, a year or so before I got here. I do admit, though, an official lifting of those laws is greatly appreciated. I’m sure it makes the job of liaising with us easier for you and yours, too.”

“Public opinion has been strong for us to get rid of it, Ma’am. Violent crime is down at least fifteen percent since the Protectors have been operating and overall criminal activity down at least five percent.”

“We haven’t been that active,” Dancer said.

“No, but your reputation and unpredictability in where you appear is a terrific deterrent; it makes it easier for us on the whole.” Kovach felt something bump into his leg then rub against it. Absently, he bent down to pet and froze when he realized he had barely reached down. Looking over, he gazed into golden eyes set in a large feline head with oversized, tufted black ears. The caracal gave a hiss, jumped up into his lap and settled itself comfortably there. Kovach was surprised at how heavy the cat was.

“Well, now,” Starlight Dancer said with a note of surprise, “that’s a first! I figured Niobe might, maybe Bastet once she got to know you better, but Ramses? He still barely lets me pet him.” Dancer demonstrated by reaching over to stroke the russet fur on the caracal’s flank. In response, it..Ramses?...gave a loud hiss and swatted at her hand with a paw that had claws extended that she easily avoided. “He’s very picky.”

“Ummmmmm...” Kovach said, sitting very, very still. He had very little desire to disturb Ramses, not after that display. He liked his fingers exactly where they were; attached to his hands. after a couple of minutes, Sapphire Sorceress came to his rescue, easily lifting the cat off his lap and putting it Into hers. She stroked her fingers through its fur and Kovach noted they, all six of them, ended in claws.

“You just have to speak their language, Detective,” She replied and started purring.

“Detective Kovach,” Gray Ranger told him. “Tell your chief and the mayor that we accept their invitation. Just tell us when to show up.”

“Officially, it’s going to run from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon, with the appreciation ceremony taking place at one. Some bands have been scheduled to perform to keep the crowds entertained and food trucks and concessions.”

“Nothing like food to draw a crowd,” Sapphire Sorceress said, petting Ramses. The other two had gathered beside her legs and she’d pet them now and again. “I may need to show up early.”

“You’re all welcome to come when you all want to,” The Detective said. “Just be ready to appear on stage a little before one.”

“We’ll be there, Detective,” Gray Ranger replied. “Thank you.”

****************

The next few days passed normally enough with no major incidents. The Protectors did their normal nightly patrols, often stopping crimes in progress or preventing them from happening at all in some cases. Simply the rumor of one or more of them being in the neighborhood was often enough all that was necessary to keep the potential crime from happening at all or being put off until ‘a better time.’

In the dark and quiet places, the people who might contemplate such crimes spun fantasies of what they’d do if they could get one or more of the heroines in his grasp. These invariably devolved Into lurid tales of humiliation and subjugation with those listening nodding along until one of them would say, “Dude, they’d just turn you into a pincushion, a pretzel...maybe a toad. If you’re really lucky, you might get your dick out before they did it!”  There’d be around of laughter at the person’s expense, and clinking together of beer bottles or maybe liquor glasses and they’d proceed to get royally drunk. And often get rounded up by police on drunk and disorderly charges.

In the offices of City Hall that handled such things, arrangements were made to obtain and lay out barricades to define the space being used in the park, a larger stage for the official proceedings and smaller ones to the sides for bands and other entertainment. Those bands and entertainers were contacted and contracted and a schedule of events finalized. Another office arranged h]for half a dozen food trucks to be parked along the outskirts and a similar number of concession trailers and tents in the park proper. Like all cities, Gray City was rightfully proud of their food scene and the officials in charge wanted to make sure that scene would be well-represented. Besides, if the Protectors being there wasn’t enough to bring out a crowd, then festival atmosphere would. On top of all that, easily a dozen more food trucks sought and obtained permits to operate on streets nearby to the park. All in all, estimates were made for upwards of 40,000 attendees and plans to accommodate nearly twice that many if necessary. The people of Gray City loved to party.

In his office, the Mayor rehearsed the speech one of his writers made for him. He spent time with the writer, tweaking it, and arguing on some points in his typical obstinate style, until he had a piece he felt he could sound both genuine and spontaneous as well as gracious to the vigilantes. “Excuse me, Your Honor,” the writer contradicted, “heroines. They are heroines.” The writer decided that, if the Mayor could pull this one off, he’d ask for a pay raise.

When they weren’t patrolling, the Protectors went about their private lives. While they had other means of supporting their heroic identities and operations, Brightstar Books afforded them a way to pass the downtime. The store kept irregular hours and often only one of them was on hand when it was open to take care of physical customers. Most of their sales took place online. They’d buy used books for resale as well as sell new books, too.

They also practiced what they would say should they be invited to address the crowd.

By Saturday, all the planning had been performed and three sides of the barricades had been set up though with plenty of openings so that they did little to impede foot traffic in the park. That would change early Sunday when the rest would be installed as well as check points to search backpacks and handbags. The heroines could surely handle anything they were up against but there were going to be thousands of civilians present that needed to be kept safe. The concession tents were also set up and, by Saturday evening, most of the food trucks were parked at their assigned positions; early food prep would take place at various commissaries run by the people that had the trucks and the supplies would be brought out before the event.

Articles in the news media and advertisements on television and radio announced the festival during the week and a quiet buzz of anticipation built. Lines were forming to get in almost before the sun rose on Sunday morning and there was some quick scrambling to enlarge the space to accommodate a group much closer to the higher estimated amount. By eight A.M. the people were being let in and the party was beginning.


****************

Yuki Matsura woke very early for a Sunday, before sunrise. She showered, dressed, got a quick breakfast from her dormitory’s cafeteria, walked the handful of blocks over to the Purple Line. She took that south to its end, transferred to the Red Line and rode it south into Downtown Loop. From there, she transferred to the Brown Line and rode it a few stops until she reached the stop closest to Millennium Park and walked a few blocks east to find the line of people waiting to be admitted.  She had not planned on going to the celebration, she had tests on Monday she needed to study for. But she had this odd mental itch that she needed to be there, so she went...

**********

“That looks like a lot more than forty thousand,” Sapphire Sorceress said. They were standing on the rooftop of one of the taller buildings overlooking the park and had an excellent overview of the growing crowd. Police had lookouts on other rooftops around the park but not this one; which was why the Protectors chose it.

“Getting cold feet?” Grey Ranger said, lightly teasing. “You could always wear something a bit more modest; like something that conceals more than five percent of your body?”

“One of us, at least, needs to be visible, Gwyn,” Starlight Dancer said. “Your costume and mine are geared towards concealment, Saamyel’s is geared towards distraction. I can’t blame her for some wariness, though, none of us has faced this kind of exposure before. We’ll be fine.”

“I know.” Gwyn, the Gray Ranger replied, “I’m still trying to figure out why we’re up here. They want us on the stage in twenty minutes.”

“True” Dancer said, “though they neglected to say how they wanted us there. I’m sure they’ll forgive us some flamboyance.”

“And the crowd will eat it up,” Sapphire Sorceress added.

“You two just want to show off.”

“And you don’t?” Dancer asked, grinning. Ranger’s eyes smiled back from under her hood.

“I guess I do at that. Let’s aim for the ground in front of the Cloud Gate.”

“What’s that?” Saamyel asked.

“That’s the official name of the Bean,” Starlight Dancer said, smiling. “Most everyone calls it the Bean for obvious reasons.”

“Ah,” Saamyel nodded and stepped a short ways back from the roof’s ledge. She closed her eyes and concentrated briefly. Her form grew a few feet taller and enormous falcon’s wings covered in shimmering sapphire feathers grew from her back. While she did that, Starlight Dancer pulled at her cape, stretching it longer and wider and the lower corners attached to her costume at the wrists and ankles. Gray Ranger’s cloak was already long and flared but it, too, attached to her costume in the same manner.

“Ready?” Sapphire Sorceress asked. At the other two nodding, she stepped back some more then dashed forward; wings flaring out. At the ledge, she leapt with wings pumping and took to the sky. She lost a few feet of altitude though quickly regained it and then some and she heard a few faint shouts from the crowd that told her at least a few people had spotted her.

‘You haven’t seen anything yet,’ She thought as climbed higher and circled around. Gray Ranger and Starlight Dancer both leapt up and she caught ahold of their wrists as she passed over them and out past the building again.

“We aren’t too heavy for you?” Ranger asked. Sapphire Sorceress shook her head.

“I muscled up some when I grew but I think I could lift both of you even as Penny.”

The noise from below got louder now as more people realized something was about to happen. Saamyel gained more altitude as she flew a few circles around where the crowds gathered below. Judging the wind direction by flags planted on stage, she altered course slightly, decided her angle of approach and dropped her partners.

They both spread their arms out from their sides in an inverted ‘V’ and their capes billowed as they trapped air; somewhere between airfoils and parachutes. This slowed their fall and gave then some control over their direction and the fell/glided downward to a soft standing land about eight feet in front of the Bean. Saamyel soared overhead in lazy circles while her partners landed then lined up, chose her spot, tucked her wings, and dived fast. With barely ten feet between her and the sidewalks, she flared her wings, pulled up and landed gently.

The crowd went wild with cheers and applause.

Someone onstage was serving as a master of ceremonies and was as surprised at the entrance as the audience was. He quickly recovered, however, and announced,”Ladies and gentlemen, The Protectors!”

They took their places on the stage to more applause and shook hands with the Mayor, the chief of the Gray City Police Department, the Sheriff of Gray County, the Director of the State Police as well as the state’s Governor. Just off the stage yet before the crowds was a row of television cameras and reporters, reporters for newspapers and other media; some with photographers and others with cameras of their own, and a veritable forest of microphones and recorders. Behind them, it seemed as though everyone in attendance was taking pictures with smartphones or actual cameras. Even though it was daytime there was a twinkling of camera flashes.  The Protectors were gracious and posed for the cameras. Days later, as pictures were posted online, most of them were of Sapphire Sorceress. There were two reasons for this: first, at six foot six, coppery skin, the physique of a fitness model and a costume that barely concealed any of that made her extremely popular as a subject. Secondly, the costumes Gray Ranger and Starlight Dancer wore were deliberately designed to confound the eye, living or camera, and almost every picture taken of them ended up blurry to one extent or another.

After the applause and uproar had a chance to die down most of the way, the speeches began. The Mayor and the Governor both praised them for their efforts in preventing crime in Gray City, though the Governor sounded much more sincere; Mayor Rohm had a well-earned reputation for his fiery temper and general irascibility. The Mayor presented them with a citation naming them the official super heroines of Gray City and the various police representatives recognized them as special deputies for the city, county and entire state respectively. The Protectors accepted these accolades graciously and humbly. They knew the gestures were largely symbolic, especially the deputization.they had been cooperating with the Gray City Police almost from the start and built up a solid level of trust with them; they relayed that on to the county and state levels.

Out in the audience, Yuki Matsura wandered restlessly, driven by a nagging hunch. It was half-formed and indistinct; she just knew that if she stood in any particular place, the urge to move elsewhere would grow stronger and stronger until she simply had to move but couldn’t say why. After one time, she glanced about and saw the reason. A man in his early twenties skimmed along clusters of the crowd, sometimes seeming to bump into one of them by accident. Yuki caught him during one such bump with his hand dripping into a woman’s purse and coming out with her pocketbook.

A pickpocket!

The urge  to move hit her again, hard, and she realized why. As she moved into a position to intercept him, she shouted, “Hey! someone’s stole my purse!” That got people looking around and spooked the pickpocket into running and not paying much attention to where he was going.

Yuki was there, facing him diagonally but not looking at him. As he got closer, she stuck his leg out and he tripped, landing in a sprawl, pocketbooks and wallets flying out of jacket pockets and his open backpack.

Police were there before he could scramble back to his feet and escape. Yuki quietly slipped into the crowd, ignored in the commotion.

Up on stage, The Protectors thanked the officials for the honors and accolades. They were offered a chance to address the crowd. Gray Ranger and Sapphire Sorceress both simply said thanks for the honors. Starlight Dancer did so as well, but then added: “I’d like to thank the true heroes of Gray City, the police and firefighters, the emergency medical workers, the doctors and nurses in the hospitals...all the people who, lacking the gifts and abilities my friends and I possess, work tirelessly to keep all in the city safe and healthy. They are the ones who truly deserve your thanks today.”

Her voice was it’s usual soft tone and the person who was monitoring the microphones on stage increased the gain in order that her words could be carried throughout the park.

“Also,” She continued, “the ability to be a hero is within all of you. Great deeds are not needed to be a hero, the small deeds add up into greatness. Volunteer at a local charity, donate to one, simply be kind to a stranger...just imagine the changes that could happen if we all asked ‘please’ one more time a day, or said ‘thank you’ and really mean it. One small act of kindness by each of you can build into so much more than the individual acts. Individually, we can create Hope. Together, we can make that Hope real.”

The crowd grew quiet. They had heard such words before very often, but there was something in how she said them, a sincerity to them, it showed she actively believed what she was saying and not just paying lip service to the ideas to gain the crowd’s favor as a politician or a preacher might. Here and there in the crowd, that belief became mirrored.

Yuki Matsura was one of them that was coming to share that belief. She heard the words as she was making her way out of the park, that nagging urge fulfilled; now she could get back to her studying.  She was vaguely aware of a collective gasp and looked up at one of the video screens; Starlight Dancer was gone and the officials were looking around in confusion.

“I saw what you did, tripping that thief,” Yuki yelped in shock at the voice that surprised her; and at the speaker, it was Starlight Dancer. She chuckled, “you can tell I mean you I harm, can’t you?”

“I...I guess so?” Yuki answered, a bit nervously. “Why...?”

“It’s a part of my own gifts, Dear, being observant. I can watch the flow of people and see it like a stream. I know when something disrupts that flow or changes it. Not a very good explanation, I know. Maybe I should use the words a friend told me once, years ago, ‘always look for the helpers; they’re always there.’”

“Is that what I am?”

Starlight Dancer looked at her, eyes unseen behind the green lenses of her mask, “Hmmm...maybe not quite all the way, yet, but I’d say you’re on your way. You showed great insight in intercepting that thief. Meditate on that gift and nurture it and the good you could do will be incredible.”

She was gone as suddenly as she had appeared and Yuki was alone with her thoughts.

She had a lot to think about, now...
Appreciation
Here’s my contribution to :iconwhite0wlsuperheroine:’s Heroine Appreciation Day for 2018, featuring the debut of a new original character by :iconmasterwayz: she had asked me if I could include Insight in a story. I had an idea for something in the story and Insight made a perfect way to tell it! 

So, thank you, :iconwhite0wlsuperheroine: for the day and thank you. :iconmasterwayz: forthe suggestion!
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All Fun and Games pt 2

Penny thought the show was outstanding though it paled in comparison to Ruth being with her to see it. Their clothing and appearance seemed to be distracting to other theater patrons, though, and she had heard several disapproving comments quiet enough to not be overheard beyond a few seats yet not be impolite in volume. In content, though? Most impolite indeed. Every time Penny heard one, and she heard nearly all of them, she would simply snuggle closer to Ruth and smile a private smile as she heard and indignant ‘huff!’ from the commentator. Ruth, who had to be hearing them as well as she could, seemed to be oblivious to them; until one particular one that had him lean into her and deliver a passionate kiss unbecoming a pair of siblings as their appearance and attire made them seem to be. The slight wink and smile he gave her told him he was in on her joke and shared her opinion that the busybodies should mind their own business.

She had thought, as the show ended, so would the woman’s quiet outrage abate. Luck was against her though as the woman, and the man with her, confronted them, just outside the theater.

“Did you two have fun, dressing up like peacocks, pawing each other and making such a scene? We couldn’t hear the show for your carrying on!” The man was silent but gave both of them an evil glare. They were a handsome couple, early forties and appeared to be athletically built beneath his well-fitting suit. For her part, save for a disapproving frown, she was attractive though she didn’t seem to be quite as well dressed. “I bet you didn’t pay attention one bit to the show.”

Penny started to reply when she felt Ruth’s hand gently placed on her shoulder as he stepped between her and the other couple.

“On the contrary,” Ruth said, smiling and rocking a walking stick with a crystal top cut to resemble a diamond back and forth in his hand. “The actor playing Lafayette stumbled during his solo during “Yorktown” but recovered admirably. After the intermission, the entire ensemble was more on point than beforehand. Furthermore, Penance and I are dressed far too monochromatically to be peacocks.”

“Big words, little...man,” The woman’s date spoke up. His voice was low and carried a note of menace in it’s accented words. “Trying to be some kind of joker?”

“Not at all!” Ruth responded, hands spread wide in supplication and lights from the theater’s marquee flashing off the walking stick’s crystal top. “I’m simply being observant. Perhaps you’ll find some of my other observations enlightening. I see that both of you are married but not to each other; impressions on the ring finger of your left hands show where  rings have been but also indicate they do not match each other’s styles. Ah, I see neither of you informed each other of that little fact or you wouldn’t be so shocked by my observation.

“You, Sir, are the decidedly more affluent of the two of you, your suit is bespoke and most professionally tailored, though not quite the best Savile Row has to offer. You also aren’t from London, I place your accent as being from Manchester though it’s been gentled by a Cambridge education. And you, Madame, have a nice dress as well but it’s off the rack from Norman Marcus; meant to look like a Vera Wang original though of far inferior material. You also moved to Gray City and made it your home after attending one of the several area colleges; deciding you liked this life much more than where you were born in one of the most rural parts of the state.”

Penny watched silently as the woman’s face went pale and the man’s grew red with anger. Ruth wasn’t finished. He spoke calmly but obviously taunting in tone and, all the while, he continued to toy with the walking stick. Back and forth, twisting it this way and that, the lights sparked and flashed off of the facets in a mesmerizing display.

“You are In Gray City for business, Sir, just not a legal business. You met this lovely lady in a bar, got to flirting, and have decided on an affair while you are in town. Were I to make a guess, I would have to suppose smuggling of both weapons and drugs. You have a packet of cocaine with you, it’s in the lady’s purse. Your fingerprints are on it, though. You two enjoyed some of it during intermission, there are traces of the powder on your suit coat and her dress. Thusly Invigorated, she performed fellatio on you in one of the men’s restrooms. There are stains of that, too on the dress. Oh, please, Sir, there is absolutely no need to draw the Glock 26 you have poorly hidden on your right coat pocket. Drawing it forth will likely only make these three lovely folk from the F.B.I. become even more cross than they presently are. I’m certain you don’t want them to be more cross with you than they already are, do you Mr. Merritt?”

As though on cue, two men in dark suits placed hands on the man’s shoulders and a third did the same with the woman. There was no scuffle, just the two of them being led away with a minimum of fuss. It was so effortless that the few people who had been paying attention to the confrontation turned away when it was evident it wasn’t going to come to blows between the man and Ruth. Penny managed to hold back her laughter until they, too, had moved on a distance from the scene.

When she did start laughing, she had to lean against a wall to keep from falling over. Ruth put an arm around her shoulders to help her steady herself until she had time to recover.

“You...” She started, stopped, laughed a bit more, then continued, “You are unbelievable! I’m not going to ask how you knew all that because I’m sure you cheated.” They walked a bit longer and got to a street where nobody was nearby and Penny changed back into her normal self but dressed in tight, black leather instead of her costume. Her eyes gleamed and Ruth felt something heavy enough to make him stumble form around his neck and wrists. Then a chain grew from the newly-made collar that linked the cuffs tightly together before extending to a lopped handle in Saamyel’s hand.

“Now,” She continued purringly, “you’re going to be a good boy and tell me exactly how you did that, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said with bowed head. Not that he could help doing so. The chain was short enough between the collar and cuffs, and the cuffs heavy enough that he only held them up because Saamyel held the other side of the chain and she was now substantially taller than he was.

“First, I did not get the tickets planning on getting him apprehended; just having an enjoyable time with you. I did, as I always do, however, looked through the ‘most wanted’ listings for local, federal and international law enforcement. Leland Merritt was listed by both Interpol and the FBI. He’s wanted by both for illegal transport and trade in drugs and weapons; mainly heroin for guns. There was a picture in the listings but it showed him with a heavy beard and not clean-shaven as we saw him. It was sheer luck he was taking his current mistress to the same showing that we attended and good fortune that she was an insufferable busybody. I saw him after a quick glance at her during one of her comments, I think you can figure out which; by the way, strawberry flavored lip gloss? I confirmed who he was and notified the FBI during intermission. That was what I was doing with my phone during the interval. I also saw a theater attendant standing guard outside a mens’ restroom and politely turning people away from it; they came out a few minutes later. The rest was deduction assisted by misdirection, this lovely walking stick, and subtle use of my Weaving sense.

“I saw the ring impressions on them both,” Ruth continued, “I knew Merritt was married but recently separated from his wife. By her accent, I could tell the woman was local to the state, at a guess, I would say she used to cross the Ohio River into Paducah, Kentucky to go shopping or to a movie theater before coming to Gray City for University; the ring on her right hand was a class ring for Loyola University’s Gray City location. Her accent has had time and in-city living to loose some of its rural tones. It was easy enough to see the quality of the garments’ fabric with my Weaving sense and light reflecting of the stick’s crystal helped disguise my use of my ability; that and  how light and bright you remade them. I saw the bits of stain for what they were and noticed the woman clutch her handbag a bit tighter when I mentioned the cocaine, so I assumed she had it; and he gripped her arm a bit harder, so I figure he’d given it to her. I’d informed the FBI to wait outside the theater to apprehend for the safety of the other theater goers. The rest...well, you saw...”

He gave a bit of the sheepish grin and she laughed again, deeper and throated as Saamyel than it was as Penny. “And you’ve done this often enough that I suppose you have some dependable code that you use so the authorities know the information is reliable even if it’s anonymous?”

“Codes, yes, Ma’am.” He said, nodding, respectful. “Which is why we didn’t get taken along with them. He’s going to be in major trouble. She’ll spend a very fearful night in their custody before getting released with a very sincere and stern, ‘don’t do anything like this again!’ since she had no idea who Mr. Merritt was besides rich, handsome and made her  insides melt. If we or others, are lucky, she’ll also learn to be less vocal about how she’ll see other people.’”

Saamyel shook her head, “Unbelievable! What do you use for the code, Sherlock? Mycroft?”

“Irene.”

“Irene?”

Ruth nodded, “For Irene Adler, who confounded Holmes so. Now...dinner?”

“Dinner and some shopping,” Saamyel said as she changed back into Penny. The restraints remained but grew lighter as she lost her superior strength. “I’m having you for dessert, but I need to make sure I have all the proper toppings, first. Now, be a good boy and do try to keep up.”

She started walking again, quickly, tugging hard on the leash, and he followed after. Dinner was a set of huge salads and a fruit plate at an all night restaurant. Then she turned back most of the way into Saamyel, she had the height and physique, but retained a more human dark brown skin tone. “Now, shopping. I know this place up on Broadway...”

They walked a few blocks to reach a station for one of the train lines that ran through, over and under the city. As it was after midnight, train cars weren’t crowded though they did draw stares from the others who were riding. However, they weren’t the only pair dressed unusually for the general population. There was a pair of men who were not quite as tall as Saamyel but seemingly even more solidly muscled that were both dressed in enough black leather combined to maybe fully cover one of them. Both of them were looking at Ruth and Saamyel, he more than she, and whispering comments between themselves he had no difficulty overhearing them. They exited the train at the same station, came up to either side of him and one of them asked, “Excuse me Madame.”

“Yes?” Saamyel responded after turning to face them, “What may I do for the two of you?”

“We couldn’t help notice how pretty your pet is,” The other one replied, “we were wondering if the two you might be available to join us?”

Ruth allowed himself a crimson blush and ducked his head. He could still see Saamyel give a slight shake of her head before she answered, “Not quite yet, I’m afraid. I need to make sure dear Ruth is properly trained first. If you’ll tell me how to get in contact with you, I promise that the two of you can name the venue for his debut and be his first...after me, of course. We can discuss a suitable exchange of favors then.”

When Saamyel confirmed Ruth’s gender to them, he could sense the shift in their stance and attention; they had become even more interested and he let his blush deepen. They gave Saamyel contact emails then asked, “May we compliment him for his beauty and manners, Madame?”

“You may and you have my permission to touch him.”

They did just that, lifting him up, hands stroking over his butt and face, a gently inquisitive squeeze between his legs, deeply probing tongues during kisses. “Listen to your Mistress, Boy. Obey Her and listen to Her instructions. We look forward to having you.”

They turned up a street a block or so before their own destination, waving back at them. Saamyel tugged a bit on the chain and, obediently, Ruth gave a shy wave back.

“Well, now,” Saamyel said after they’d made their own turn, “you just seemed to have fun with them. I suppose I’ll let them have fun with you, too, after a few days.”

“I would hardly be the first time, Mistress,” Ruth answered with just a hint of teasing in the word. “It has been a few years though and never so openly before.”

“Really now? I guess I could just look back into those memories we share to find out just when. But I think I’ll have much more fun making you tell me yourself after I’ve...persuaded you enough to confess your past deeds to me.”

“Shall I treat that as a promise, Mistress?” He asked, a bit more sincerely in saying Mistress, “or a threat?”

“I fully intend on it being both my lovely Ruth.”

They walked on for a bit over a block before Saamyel stopped in front of a store that featured a pair of provocatively dressed mannequins, one male and one female, with the male kneeling obediently before the other. Various sex toys were also on display. Beside the window was a pair doors and, on the other side of them, a smaller window with different pieces of airbrushed artwork and a sign that said “Tattoos and piercings” on prominent display. Over both windows and doors was a sign that read “The Dominion.”

“Yaala?” She asked, using his real name, “you know that I love you, but I also ask that you trust me. I am going to leave you here with Lady Cassandra for a few days. She operates both of these  establishments and will train you, dress and decorate you, then mark you with, my personal sigil.” She took a square of paper and showed him what looked like a complex Celtic Knot but formed out of thorny vines. “Some of what she might do may hurt, some may humiliate, though I promise you she will neither intend nor cause you any lasting harm.”

He looked at the sigil for a few more seconds, studying it before looking up at her. “I hadn’t realized you had continued your association with the Sisterhood of Thorns, Saamyel.


She smiled, shaking her head slightly, “I have, though not as Penance or Saamyel. Madame Lilit’s reputation is well known to the Sisterhood on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean however, her face is not.”

“I see. May I ask why you want me to surrender and submit?”

“There are several,” She answered. “First of all, I would hope that you will enjoy the games and diversions we do. Secondly... Yaala, you most of all but also Gwen and Gael, have given me a new life and opportunity to be a better person and I’ve been doing so the best I can, but there are parts of me that miss some of what I was. This is a chance to keep those and have someone to share it with. Lastly is justice. I’ve heard some whispers that some of the Sisterhood are abusing their power and position and are engaging in trafficking and other illegal activities.”

“I see. And I’m to be the plant and a plaything? I can do that. I’ll gladly call you Mistress. Do you wish for me to remain male or match the name you’ve given me more closely?”

She chuckled and stroked a hand along his cheek and traced the curve of his lips with a finger. “That will be your choice as we pass through the door. I’ll let you have the chance to surprise her. Both are accepted. Only women can advance from serving to becoming a full Sister, though, so let that help you decide. Also, whenever there is something that requires you to be the Adversary, I will never tell you no.”

“Then I’ll remain a male Ruth,” He replied. “There May be some things I might learn as a Sister than I might otherwise, but how long to earn that rank and trust? An obedient boy might overhear things more readily and would, naturally, tell everything he might learn to his Mistress if she asks the correct questions. I’ll be more invisible this way.”

“I hope I’m wrong and this will simply be an enjoyment we can share, Ruth. My lovely, beautiful, obedient Ruth.” She punctuated her words with deep kisses then added, “all I’ve learned indicates that Lady Cassandra is trustworthy, despite the origins of her name. Still, if she does something you object to or feel uneasy about, the safeword is ‘amaranth.’ Use it if you need to.”

Ruth simply nodded, bowed very low then said, “I understand, Mistress. I am ready.”

She led him through the door into the sex shop side of the business.
All Fun and Games pt2
Naughtiness and fun and games.
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Penny and Ruth
A photo I found on a gothic Lolita fashion tumblr that inspired the look of characters in “All Fun And Games.”
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It’s All Fun And Games pt 1

“Yaala?” Gwynwyfar Llwellyn asked, “have you been outside any?”

“I’ve been out often,” He replied, “I’ve been to Myanmar, Africa, South America, out west with the three of you...”

“That isn’t what she meant and you know it,” Saamyel added. When was the last time you did something just for fun and relaxation? And that doesn’t count!”

“I do enjoy it, Saamyel,” He responded, “and you appear to as well. But all right. I really haven’t since I stopped using my Darien identity.i was too busyhelping Gael become accustomed to being Elf and helping her hone her skills. Then setting up her identities, putting out different fires, helping her set up here, training you, Gwynwyfar, training Saamyel...”

“Are you seeing a pattern yet?” Gwyn said.

“You’re telling me to take a day off?”

“Better still, you and Saamyel take a day off. Have some fun. Have dinner somewhere. Go see a show. ‘Hamilton” is in town...”

“If you think I can score tickets for that on this short of a notice...there are some things even my powers and skills can’t do...”

“Penny,” Gwyn said, using the name of Saamyel’s human alter ego, “get him outside. Put a leash on him if you need to.”

In response, Saamyel gave a smile and shifted into her much smaller human form. She stood up from where she was sitting and walked 0ver to where Yaala Kaelish sat. Since he was in his native. Krendarri form, most of his height was in his legs, so Penny had little trouble whispering something into his ear soft enough Gwyn’s elven hearing couldn’t hear it. Yaala’s eye went wide and he offered a soft, “Yes, Mistress,” rose and followed her.

“Not the kind of leash I meant but whatever works. Have fun you two.”

Saamyel led him back to her quarters in the Protectors’ headquarters; their quarters together since shortly before the Protectors had been captured a few weeks prior.

“Get undressed,” She told him once the door was closed.

“Saamyel, if we get to doing that, Gwyn’s going to let her cats loose and we’ll not have any peace.” He undressed as he said it though, chuckling.

“We aren’t doing that, yet,” She answered, repeating “yet. I’m giving you a makeover.”

“Oh, really?” Krendarri facial features were similar enough to human and elven that they shared some of the same expressions and one of Yaala’s eyebrows arched upwards. Before he could speak further, her hands were on him. As always, the touch was electric and his skin tingled at her touch. Then her hands grew warmer as they slid over his body and he couldn’t help starting to purr as she stroked his body. It was a mesmerizing effect and he had no desire or will to resist even when he saw her dark blue eyes start to shine as she used her Weaving ability on him. It felt so good, so natural to let her work her will upon his body and he dreamily watched as she grew taller.

That wasn’t right. She wasn’t right, she wasn’t growing taller, he was getting shorter! And lighter, smaller overall. Being a very experienced shapeshifter, Yaala had superb understanding and awareness of his body and he could feel his anatomy changing from the lean, muscular native Krendarri male to a shorter, more slender human male. He was very used to changing his own form, much less so feeling it being changed and this was the first time he allowed someone to change him. Even when he had briefly become Zareen the Ifriti, he had changed himself; just at Saamyel’s command.

He found that he was enjoying the sensation. Granted, she was being gentle, loving even, making sure to touch and stroke, exciting him even as she remade him in the image she was creating. A wave of ecstasy rushed through him and he realized his eyes had closed when he heard Saamyel chuckle.

“Hmmm...that was unexpected,” And he felt himself blushing as he realized he had ejaculated into her hand and onto the floor. “Naughty boy! Clean up after yourself.”

The hand had moved and pressed against his lips so he obediently licked. It was salty and her skin was warm and sweet and he probably licked for longer than he had needed to clean the mess he’d made.then he knelt down and repeated the licking to lean the spots that had hit the floor. Her hand slid over his butt cheeks and spanked him playfully. The claws that tipped her six-fingered hand dragged teasingly before the hand slid between his legs and toyed with the parts that had just led to his present posture. She squeezed and he squirmed, feeling himself grow more aroused. She played for several moments and he felt he might climax again then he felt another pressure that was squeezing and confining him uncomfortably.

“I guess I’ll have to leave that on until you learn to obey and control yourself better, Ruth.”

She stood fully upright and guided up up with a hand to either shoulder, turning him to face a tall mirror. He spent more time admiring her now much taller form, easily a foot and a half taller tan he was now, solidly muscled yet curved and buxom in a manner no full Krendarri could be. Her dark, coppery-gold skin was a sharp contrast to his now porcelain pale complexion. Where she was tall and sleekly muscular, he was now short and slender with just enough muscle tone that he could see a hint of a six-pack at the abdomen if he sucked it in. His eyes, usually a very light blue were now a silvery, icy blue and round pupils like human eyes had. His hair was still white and fine, but shorter now and styled into spiky bangs that hung almost to his eyes and just covered his neck. He was completely smooth and naked except for a clear, hard plastic chastity cage that captured his penis.

He glanced up at Saamyel who smiled down at him. “It was either that or make you a girl, Ruth. Maybe I will later, but I intend to enjoy you like this for a while.”

“Is this how it felt when Gael and Gwynwyfar were shaping you into Penance?”

“Maybe,” She admitted. “Probably. I did want you to enjoy it.”

He smiled up at her, “I did. I do.”  Then he laughed, “All the way to you making me clean up after myself and then you locking me into the cage.”

Saamyel chuckled purringly then her own form changed. Now, she was an inch or two shorter than he was, just as pale in complexion and fine white hair just a bit longer and curlier than his now was, but very dark blue eyes compared to his extremely pale ones. She stood up on her tiptoes and kissed him deeply. “And, now, Penny has an older brother to call her own, too!”

“Why do I have a sneaking suspicion your intentions towards me aren’t entirely sisterly?” Yaala, now Ruth, asked with a chuckle of his own. She kissed him again, fingers dancing down where the chastity cage was becoming uncomfortably tight again.

“Silly Ruth,” She said after another kiss, “of course they aren’t. Not that I’ve heard you complain any so far. You can always say no if you want me to stop. You can say no, can’t you?”

“To you? Since you Named me, I’m not entirely certain i could.”

“I promise that you’ll be able to do what you need to, when you need to. But you don’t need to be alone. Now, let’s see about dressing you. As much fun as taking you out on the town dressed like you are sounds like fun, others might not like it.”

Penny stepped away, leaving Ruth standing in front of the mirror. She went over to a closet, retrieved a lot of white fabric and started wrapping it around him. It was silk and felt wonderful against his skin.

“I’ve been practicing my Weaving,” Penny said, “No silkworms were harmed in making this.” Her eyes began to shine and Ruth felt the fabric constricting around him tighter and tighter; tight enough he couldn’t even wriggle his fingers against his thighs where they were pinned. Then it got even tighter, flowing between his limbs and torso, flowing and sliding like liquid. She was caressing him with liquid silk and he felt himself surrendering to the pleasurable sensations. Ruth fell to the fell to the floor and only the tightness of the material prevented him from squirming. She kept it up for several long minutes and the flowing grew even more intimate; embracing, caressing, teasing and he was soon panting and begging her for release.

Penny kept it up for almost another five minutes, letting him get truly lost in ecstasy before she relented. The pressure lessened then fell away almost completely as silken shroud gave way to a suit of immaculate white. Ruth lay on the ground, spent, and she let him relax for a minute or two before helping him stand before a three-way mirror.

Ruth didn’t recognize himself and not just for the newness of the form Penny had given him. Now he was dressed in white slacks that fit perfectly and flared slightly into cuffs decorated with brass buttons. A frilly white shirt was topped with a lace collar, a heavier lacy ribbon tied into a bow and frills dangling down from it. It was covered by a waistcoat that accentuated his slender figure; a row of brass buttons kept it closed. Over that was a coat of asymmetrical cut that dropped below his knees behind him but barely down to his hips in front. White pearl cuff.inks, two on each side, held stiffened, exaggerated cuffs closed at his wrists. Shoes of white leather adorned his feet, thick two inch heels gave him just a bit more height. He could feel tight stockings on his calves and garters just below his knees to help hold them up. Beneath the trousers he could feel snuggly fitting underwear of lacy silk that fit maybe a bit too enticingly well. His skin was bare below the shirt so he could savor the silky smoothness  of the fabric against it. Lastly, a top hat, several sizes too small, balanced lopsidedly on his head. It, too, was adorned with a silk ribbon bow and lace. As he turned this way and that to admire the cut and fit of the suit, Penny stepped nearer. She was now dressed in a white dress layered with layers of lacy frills, a bonnet on her head and holding a closed lace parasol like it was a walking stick.

“Do you like, Ruth?” Penny asked though, from his smile, she already knew her answer. “I thought you’d enjoy Elegant Aristocrat fashion.

“Penny,” he said after a few more glances at the pair of them in a mirror, “you could   have dressed me in shackles and chains after that and I would have felt a king.”’And he was Fairest of all the angels in Heaven,” She replied, wrapping his arm with hers and holding him close to her. As Penny, she was just an inch or two shorter than he was. “‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the gardening God; every precious stone was your covering: the Sardis, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.’”

Ruth chuckled, “Quoting Ezekiel is hardly becoming, Penny. Besides, you named me Ruth and not Lucifer.”

“Should I rethink that?”

He laughed in response, shaking his head, “No. Ruth is just fine. The myths do enough to maintain the reputation. I’m hard-pressed to live up to it now.”

“You’re still wicked as far as I’m concerned. Wickedly handsome.” She kissed him again, lingering for a while and he let her. That kiss led to several more, deeper and more passionate. Neither of them were inclined to stop then, finally, Ruth chuckled.

“If we don’t get out of here, Gwynwyfar’s likely going to toss us out. Besides, it will take about an hour to get to the theater.”

Penny raised an eyebrow this time. “Theater?” Ruth just smiled, extended a hand and moved it through a flourish. Suddenly, a pair of tickets were held between thumb and forefinger.

“Hamilton?” Penny gaped, “for tonight? But you told Gwyn...”

“I know what I told her,” Ruth said, chuckling, “and I wouldn’t have been able to get them today, months after it has sold out for the entire run. But buying them on the day they went on sale last year? A piece of cake.”

She looked between his face and the tickets several times then just shook her head. “Never lie, but never tell the whole truth.”

“The first Law for any magician my enchanting Sapphire Sorceress. Shall we?”
All Fun and Games pt 1
This originally started as an attempt to participate in 018’s NaNoWriMo burnrhw words didn’t want to come out earlier in the month; so i’m way behind quota to get 50,000 words by month’s end. Still, writing will continue.

this is a largely light-hearted piece ocusing on antics of some supporting characters. A little fun, a little sexy, a little naughty...

i hooe you enjoy.
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Ghouls and Dolls


The night sky was overcast with low, heavy clouds blocking the moon and starlight and reflected glare of sodium lamps along the streets and in the container lot she was flying towards kept the few people out and about at this hour from looking skyward. That suited White Owl just fine. Having fans wave and call out her name when she was patrolling was fine, even enjoyable. Just not when she was following up a tip from the police about suspicious activity along the docks. Owls hunt best in silence...

When she heard the soft yet distinctive “Rrrrrrrppppppp!” of an assault weapon on full automatic, she instinctively turned and gained more altitude. No point being an easy target even if it was nearly impossible to hit something with a weapon firing like that. The “Pop!pop! pop!” of a semiautomatic pistol was a bit more of a problem. So she climbed higher still and looped out over the river before diving downward and coming into the area the gunfire was low and fast.

There were a few more bursts of gunfire and she could catch sight of some of the muzzle flashes. They weren’t firing in her direction and the lack of return fire meant that there weren’t any police involved. And she hadn’t called for help, so who were they shooting at?

She got an answer an instant later as a figure slammed back-first, and upside down, against the side of a container and a blur caught it before it could hit the ground head first. The blur was hardly as gentle with the assault rifle as it seemed to fly into pieces; some not intended to be individual pieces. In the brief silence that followed, the blur seemed to resolve into a figure.

A spattering of stars as well as a band of stars like the edge of the Milky Way covered some of the figure and a cape that fluttered in the low breeze and what looked like a feminine figure in deepest midnight blue that blended into the background and shadows. The figure turned and White Owl got a brief glimpse of a pale-skinned face and bright green flashes where the eyes should be. It was gone in an instant as more gunfire erupted; which was silenced in a matter of seconds.

White Owl gained some altitude to get a better look at the situation. A dozen men were  sprawled about and the concrete dock area was littered with the remains of shattered weapons. She tried to find whatever was wearing the costume and felt something bump into her belly. She looked down just as she felt another bump and made out a shadowy form...

Waving a chemlight?

White Owl flew down towards the light who, in turn, tackled her to the ground mere instants before more gunfire ripped past.

“What are...” White Owl started to ask and found her mouth covered by a hand. A pale, angular face wearing a mask with green lenses looked down at her and spoke softly yet loud enough to be heard over the spanging of bullets off of the containers around them.

“Are you bulletproof?”

“What?”

“Are you bullet proof? There’s at least twelve more out there and you go flying around wearing ‘just shoot me’ white? Please stay down!”

She wanted to protest but there was a break in the gunfire and the other figure was gone...

And back as gunfire erupted again though with less intensity. The face was smiling down at her, “Six more down, eight to go. You really want to help? Not yet, wait for the shooting to stop; they’ll need to reload in 3..2...1...follow me and take the right!”

She was gone again. White Owl hurried to her feet just in time to see a galactic swirl cut left between stacks of containers. So, she followed and took the opening to the right; finding four men in all black, balaclavas and face masks swapping out magazines in their guns. Four punches later, they were all sprawled on the ground, unconscious.

“Not bad!” She jumped at the voice, turning to face where it came from behind her and finding nothing there. Then there was a tap on her left shoulder and she turned again, a bit more slowly. The figure was stooped down, wrapping gunmen’s wrists behind their backs with heavy zip ties. Another second or two and the guns were all shattered and scattered.

“Thanks for the help,” The strange girl said, smiling. “I really thought you’d be just a touch shorter, White Owl. That cosplayer I met a bit ago got your costume about spot on, though.”

The girl before her was an inch or two taller than she was and slim almost to the point of nearly seeming anorexic, though still nicely curved. Her costume went from her neck to her fingers and toes; deep, midnight blue with that eye bending star pattern on it. It fit as though it was painted on. The cape fell just past her knees and a long ponytail of braided black hair actually touched the ground behind her. The mask she wore covered her nose and around the eyes and green lenses covered her eyes themselves. She wore red lipstick but it was the pointed tips of her ears that caught White Owl’s attention.

“And you’re a bit far from Gray City, Starlight Dancer,” She replied. “The picture on your  hero.net entry makes your ears look pointier.”

“Heh,” Starlight Dancer chuckled, nodding, “I wasn’t going to pose for a picture and if you tell an artist ‘elf’ they want to draw us with pointed radar dishes for ears.”

“Oh, for the record?” White Owl added, “my costume is bulletproof.”

“Ah... okay then; I’ll just catch the bullets heading for the parts of you that aren’t dressed.” Starlight Dancer wandered off before White Owl could decide if the remark was snide or serious. She came back dragging an unconscious gunman and dumped him in the clearing where they were standing.

“Mind lending me a hand? Some of these guys are a bit heavy.”

She was off again and soon dragging another one back and White Owl went off to start bringing back the four she’d bagged and then the last four Dancer had claimed. Soon enough, there was a pile of gunmen, twenty-six in all, and Dancer started producing more zip ties, from where, White Owl wasn’t sure, and started randomly tying legs and arms together to end up with a pretzel-like mound of bodies.


That should keep them until the police come to pick them up....oh, good! One’s waking up.”

Dancer bent down and drew a pistol from a holster on one of the men and gave the one who was stirring a gentle tap on the cheek with her hand, “Wakey, wakey! Hi there, Mind telling me which one of these lovely steel boxes is holding the stash you were here to collect?”

“Go to Hell, bitch!” The man even spat at her.

“My, such language,” She looked back to White Owl. “Is all the lowlife in Queen City like this? His manners are horrible.”

Turning back to the man, Dancer gave a shake of her head, “I’m afraid that won’t be happening; I know the landlord there.” She held up the pistol, “See this? It’s the only gun any of you have left that I haven’t destroyed. Watch carefully...”

She had his attention, maybe because the gun was aimed at him. She had White Owl’s attention too, for the same reason, so she had an excellent view. One moment the gun was intact, the next it was in dozens of pieces; most of them not pieces the manufacturer meant to be pieces. The man’s eyes went wide as Dancer made a little ‘oh, well’ gesture with her hands.

“Oh, dear, I’m all out of guns,” Her voice was soft, musically pleasant,
“I guess that means I’ll have to start breaking gunmen next...”

“O-over there! Over there! Two rows down that aisle, bottom container! It’s got a little green X on the lock!”

“Are you absolutely sure? I’d be really...disappointed if I find out you’re wrong. Or lying to me...”

“No! No! That’s the one!” He looked at White Owl with eyes wide with terror, pleading, “Please! you’ve got to believe me! Keep her away from me!”

From the sudden rank odor, she didn’t want to be near him, either.

“Good boy,” Another gentle pat on the cheek. “You coming?” The last was aimed to White Owl who, bemused, followed her; down to the indicated container, little green X painted on the lock. A set of lock picks appeared in Starlight Dancer’s hand. About thirty seconds later, she had the lock open.

“I need to practice that more. Want to find another container and swap this lock with that one?”

A strange request, White Owl thought, but at least one that made sense in a twisted fashion. She took the picks and the lock, walked amongst the stacks of containers and finally selected one painted the same color, picked the lock and swapped the X-marked one in its place. She came back with the other lock to find Dancer had it opened and it was holding boxes of...

“Stuffed toys?”

“It’s the stuffing they want, White Owl,” she ripped the head off, exposing the fiber stuffing, and a small, clear vial filled with a liquid. “Good! He wasn’t lying. Definitely what I came looking for.”

“I’m guessing drugs?”

“Not just any, a synthesized drug that gave my friends and I some bother a few months ago. It’s called Stiff. Swallow some, inhale some, get some on your skin, and you’re paralyzed and can’t move; for hours at least. We shut down production in Gray City, but I’ve been trying to track down some shipments. This should be the last. I don’t want somebody figuring out how to make it...or worse.”

She tossed the stuffed toy back into the container then two cylinders that had suddenly appeared in her hands quickly followed. She slammed the door closed and locked it. Ten second later, there was was a muffled ‘fwump’ and a stream of smoke slipped out.

“And that should be that,” She said.

“Weren’t you after the drugs? Why destroy them?”

“I don’t want the drugs,” Dancer replied, a serious expression on her face that belied her previous light-hearted attitude. “I want them gone. We know enough about Stiff and how it was made that more samples won’t gain us anything. There was way too much there for me to take back with me. Focused incendiaries means all they’ll find, if and when they figure out our deception, means all they get is ash and bits of melted glass and no usable samples to try to recreate it.”

White Owl saw it otherwise. “You just destroyed the evidence the police would need to lock these thugs away for years!”

“They can do that with the scraps of their weapons, Owl,” Dancer countered. “Fully automatic weapons are illegal and there are remains of twenty-six of then scattered about. And I’d be surprised if the five pistols mixed in with that trash were legally purchased, either. If they haven’t been filed off, I didn’t break them where serial numbers could be found. They’ve lost the drugs and they’re out fifty thousand or so dollars’ worth of weaponry. I count that as victory.”

“Hurting them in the wallet?” Starlight Dancer chuckled at White Owl’s question.

“When they aren’t thinking with something else, it’s the biggest motivation. Put people like this in jail? They have, or can easily get, lawyers who’d get them out nearly as fast. Besides, they can always hire more gunmen and buy more guns; if they have the money. Cut the money off and you cut the head from the neck.They’re out the money paid for the weapons and manpower, out even more for the lost Stiff, that has to have at least dented the cash flow.”

White Owl looked at her. Even now, this close to her, details of her body were difficult to make out for the patterning of her costume, “Has anyone told you that you’re strange?”

“All the time!” Starlight Dancer laughed. “I’m an elf! I’m going to be strange to humans, super- or otherwise. Bye!”

“Wait!” White Owl called out but Starlight Dancer was already gone. She had been looking right at her...and still didn’t see her go; one moment there, the next moment not. Not even a burst of smoke.  There were so many questions and no answers likely now. Shaking her head, White Owl took a cell phone from one of her belt’s pouches and called for the police then waited for them to arrive.

The wait wasn’t too long, maybe twenty minutes, then about an hour longer as the first cops called for backup to be able to haul so many people off to jail. “Thanks for your help, White Owl,” was both grateful and rote by now and she gave a brief shake of her head.

“I didn’t have that much to do with it,” She admitted, “We had a visitor from Gray City. calls herself Starlight Dancer. Before you ask, no, I never met her before this and no, I know very little about her. Try calling the Gray City Police. They might know more.”

She told what little she did know about the gunmen and the now destroyed guns and drugs. The Criminal Investigation Unit swept for bits of weapons, sometimes literally, with brooms, and collected the ashes and remains from the container; White Owl didn’t tell them about swapping the padlocks so at least that much of Dancer’s plan remained intact.

So many question...

***********

His shift was finally over, Thank God! Last call had been 2:30 but it had been closer to three before the last customers stumbled out into the street and sometime closer to five A.M. by the time the place was straightened up, cleaned up and ready to go when the bar reopened the next morning about 9 A.M.  At least he wouldn’t be back on shift until 4P.M. The hours could be long and the pay not all that great, though the tips could be nice since he was always a bit generous in measurements when he made cocktails.

It was the fringe benefits that really made the job worth it.

Tonight’s fringe benefit said her name was Cara and he could hardly look away from her. She was definitely hot but it was her eyes! He could hardly look away from her eyes. They had flirted and he was maybe a bit more generous pouring shots for her than was his usual, and she’d promised he’d wait for him to finish work.

As promised, she waited under a streetlamp at the corner of the block. She greeted him warmly, kissed him, and led him away.

Her eyes would be the last thing Henri Dubresky ever saw...

***************

Morning always came too early, Athena Nikos grumbled. At least it was the weekend so, unless the museum called her for some reason, she wouldn’t need to go into work. Once she got coffee brewing, she took a quick shower then dressed casually. A mug of coffee, a chocolate chip muffin, thank goodness for a superhuman physique, she scanned news headlines on her computer while having her breakfast. A blinking icon in the corner of the screen made her scowl. Taking up her cell phone and dialed a private number.

“Thank you for calling in so quickly, White Owl,” The detective that answered said. “I’m Detective Moretto and we’ve got a...situation we’d like your help on.”

“Does this have to do with last night?”

He was quiet for a few moments before answering, “Yes...” And then quickly adding, “Not at the Dockyards, though. We found a body earlier this morning. I...I think we’ve got some crazy person on the loose.”

So much for a quiet morning. “Where do you need me, Detective?” He told her an intersection in the Rhineland neighborhood of Queen City.

“We haven’t moved the body yet, White Owl,” He added.

“I’m on my way...”

It was easy enough to find the intersection even if she hadn’t known where it was. Half a dozen police cars with flashing lights shutting off the flow of traffic and a white Criminal Investigation van at the scene is rather tell-tale.

“What do you have, Detective?” She asked the man who came up to greet her.

“Worse than anything I’ve ever seen, White Owl,” He responded, looking visibly ill. “I’ll warn you, it’s gruesome.”

He led her into the alleyway behind some buildings where figures in while coveralls, masks, bonnets and latex gloves were moving slowly and carefully. One was taking pictures while others were going over odds and ends on the street and another was hip deep in a dumpster bin. In the center of the activity, something small was covered by a white sheet. The CI team greeted her then one of them removed the sheet.

White Owl fought the urge to retch. There were the remains of a body, she guessed male, but only from the waist up. The arms were also gone, as was the chest and several of the internal organs. The top of the skull was also missing, along with the brain. The parts of the body that were left were covered in bite and claw-marks.

“Good Lord!” She said softly, looking away. “What could do this to a person?”

“Nothing entirely human, White Owl,” one of the men in the CI coveralls said. “No evidence of a saw or other tools used, so the body was...ripped...apart. Or eaten, given the bite marks on what remains. Measurements of the bites looks like it would be a human but the claws definitely aren’t. The biggest question is where is all the blood?”

White Owl hadn’t noticed at first, the scene was grossly enough as it was. It took another look for her to realize the man was right. The human body holds the better part of nine pints of blood, yet there were only a few small splotches around the corpse and oozing from the remains itself. There should have been blood everywhere from the looks of things.

“He was killed somewhere else?” She asked.

“Nowhere relatively close,” The Detective said. The CI nodded.

“What blood we’ve found indicates it happened right here. The blood spatters are static, no indications of the body being carried or dragged. Falling blood will leac]very a little splash, the pattern pointing the direction a body’s being carried. Or there’d be a trail of droplets at the very least. Close as we can tell, the body was killed and dismembered right here; or moved no more than a couple feet at best, and that from being jerked about while it was ripped apart.”

“That’s why we called you, White Owl,” The Detective said. “This...this thing has super powers at the least, we’ll need your help to find me stop it.”

“I’ll do everything I can, Detective; you know that.”

He gave a bit of a nod and a small smile, “I know. Thank you. Now for the really bad part. Facing the press.”

Out beyond the ring of police cars and a cordon of uniformed officers, two dozen or more people were clustered together along with video equipment, still cameras, recording devices, microphones...even a couple with just pens and note pads. White Owl did not envy the detective having to make a statement to them. He’d do his best to not say everything that had been found, and what hadn’t been, all in an effort to try and keep panic from spreading. But the truth was simple enough, White Owl knew, something monstrous was roaming Queen City.

Something she needed to find and stop.


**************

The press was called that for a different reason, though this group was pressed up against the cordon, most of them shouting questions in order to be heard over the other shouted questions; holding out microphones and recorders to get whatever might be said in response to either their own questions or someone else’s. They were focused on the detective and the crime scene they couldn’t get any closer to, and paid no attention to a tall, slender woman dressed in a plaid skirt and baggy sweater who wasn’t asking questions. When she saw a figure dressed in white shoot skyward, she quietly slipped out of the crowd with practiced ease. She had a knack for passing unnoticed when she wished to.

What she wanted to do but couldn’t with the police and investigators there was get a better, longer look at the scene. While she could pass unnoticed virtually at will, she was not invisible and someone would notice her poking about.

So, she’d wait for later, after a fashion. She walked down a block and between a pair of buildings then climbed a fire escape up to the roof of one of them. A few sprints and leaps across intervening alleys had her on a rooftop that overlooked the crime scene. The people below were too engrossed to bother looking up to notice her though she decided to not take the chance. She took a small digital camera from her purse. It was high resolution and had excellent zoom and pan capabilities, and it was mounted on a mechanism that would let her move the viewpoint around. A long cable connected it to a display tablet. She mounted it on the edge of the roof, pointed down at the grisly scene below, then sat down on the roof. Slim fingers dancing across the display controlled the motions and focus of the camera and she satisfied herself for now by quite literally looking over the investigators’ shoulders.

By late afternoon, they appeared to have finished up, loaded up the remains and left. By nightfall, even the last police who were keeping folk out of the alley withdrew as well. That suited her just fine. While hardly bored, her skills were much better suited to action than the tedium of surveillance.  When it as full dark, she stood up, removed her skirt, sweater and shoes and touched the spot on her abdomen where a belly button would have been if she was human and savored the liquid feeling of her costume flowing over her body. Clothing and equipment was miniaturized to the size of a BB and placed on their spots on the costume’s surface and she e pander her mask and put it on. Nimble fingers quickly braided her hair into its usual ponytail.

Ready for the night, Starlight Dancer dropped lightly to the empty alley below.

**************

The events of the night before were on Athena’s mind most of the day. The fight at the dockyards was odd mainly from the number of people involved. Drug deals usually didn’t have that many people in one place even with a face to face exchange of drugs and money. Though, if the people involved knew Starlight Dancer was hunting them, Athena could understand why they’d be in greater numbers than normal; the woman was a phenomenal fighter based on what she’d witnessed.

Then there was the murder. Brutal and grisly, Why was the body so mutilated and where were the missing parts? And the blood? Outwardly, Athena couldn’t see how these two events were or could be related yet she couldn’t shake the nagging suspicion that they were.

Experience had taught her to trust those instincts.

When night fell, Athena Nikos donned the garb and guise of White Owl and hunted once more.

While it wasn’t a straight line from where she was to the two crime scenes, it wasn’t that big of a detour to reach the place where the body was found before heading on the the dockyards. Glancing down as she passed above, she saw Starlight Dancer down below.

Of course she’d be involved in this somehow... White Owl decided it was time for some answers.

She dived, intending to come from behind the other girl, grab her and lift her up into the air. Having done some research earlier, nothing of the little bit of information she’d found indicated that Dancer could fly. She’d get her answers at altitude. White Owl’s dive was bringing her in from directly behind.

Dancer simply spun to the right, out of Owl’s grasp a split instant before the grab. Something thumped her on the back and she hit the pavement and skidded to a stop just before hitting the wall.

“I know I haven’t read the Superheroine Rulebook, is there something written in there that you can’t just say ‘hello?’”

That was just too much! White Owl leapt to her feet, fist flying.

Starlight Dancer wasn’t there; spinning away once again. More punches and kicks were avoided with similar ease. All of which just increased Owl’s frustration.

“Hold still, dammit!”

Naturally, Dancer did no such thing.

“Dammit! Would you just stand still?”

“Maybe if you said ‘please?’” Came the reply.

“Please,” White Owl growled. Then threw another punch.
Which hit Starlight Dancer square in the left cheek hard enough to send her tumbling sideways. She dropped to the ground then stood right back up, working her lower jaw a bit.

“Nice right cross,” She said. “Feel better now?”

“No,” White Owl admitted, suddenly feeling foolish. “You dodged everything else, why not that?”

“You said please. It would hardly be sporting of me if I didn’t honor that, would it?”

“What?”

“Besides, that’s something else in the Rules? ‘The heroes must fight each other over some trivial matter before they team up?’  We fought, I lost. So, let’s team up now.”

That had White Owl breaking out in laughter. “You’re a nut job!”

A tilt of the head and the corner of the mask tipped upward with a quirked eyebrow, Starlight Dancer asked, “That’s a yes, then?”

White Owl gave a nod and a slight smile, “That’s a yes. Now, why are you here?”

“After out bit of fun last night, I decided to go listen to a band playing in a nearby bar; they specialize in folk music from Eastern Europe. Anyhow, one of the bartenders there was good looking. Not really my type, but fun to flirt with. Only his attention ended up being spent on another female there; long green dress, gold hair, amber eyes. She...didn’t smell right. She left just after last call and he met her outside the bar.”

“Is that jealousy I hear? Not used to being upstaged?”

Dancer chuckled and shook her head, “Sorry, but I can’t really do jealousy any longer since I’ve become Elf. To my nose, she had a similar odor to Stiff. Plus a lot of pheromones. I didn’t see her try to slip anything into anyone’s drink, so I figured she was just looking for a night of fun and found a partner.”

She paused briefly and White Owl had a sudden realization. “The body, that was the bartender.”

Dancer gave a solemn nod, “His name was Henri Dubresky. She killed him here. Drank his blood, ripped him apart and ate what she felt were the choicest bits then took the rest to her lair. We need to find her and stop her before she kills again.”

“You describe it like you saw it happened.”

“If I’d seen it, it wouldn’t have happened, White Owl. His death happened because I didn’t pay attention to my instincts last night.”

“How do you know it was her, then?”

Starlight Dancer gave a slight shake of her head, “To be completely honest, I don’t. All I have to go on is a scent and scant evidence. I admit, I’m hardly a detective, my friends are all better at that skill than I am. If she’s not the killer, I’ll give her my most sincere apologies after we stop whoever it is. In the mean time, though, she’s all I have to go on.”

White Owl thought about it a moment then nodded, “Fair enough I suppose. How do you propose finding her or whoever?”

“You did hear me say I’m not a detective, didn’t you? The band is playing the same bar tonight. I figure I’d start there then try other bars in the area..”

“Dressed like that?”

She shook her head, “Hardly. Hold these for me, please?” From seemingly nowhere, Starlight Dancer produced a plaid skirt, a bulky pullover sweater and some low-heeled shoes. Then her costume...melted...

“Whoa! Whoa...wait!” White Owl looked away at the suddenly naked figure and felt hands plucking away the clothes she’d just been holding. When white Owl looked again, Dancer was dressed in the clothes, had exchanged her mask for some large-framed glasses with green eyes showing from behind the lenses and was dragging her fingers through her hair to undo the braid it had been in and wrap it into a loose bun on her head which completely hid the pointed tips of her ears. She also seemed just a bit shorter now and realized she was doing something with her posture; a bit of a slouch, head turned downward. Little touches that added up to great effect.

“That...that’s...certainly different,” White Owl finally said, chuckling. “Are you old enough to even get into the bar?”

A large purse appeared from somewhere and Dancer fished around in it and pulled out a driver’s license. “I do have a fake ID. Nobody’s going to believe I’m in my fifties. I use the date I became Elf as a birthday, so my stated age is legally able to drink.

“Never mind the age thing...wait...fifties? No, I’m not touching that one...how do you keep doing that?”

“What?”

“That thing. Making clothes appear, that hand bag, the zip-ties from last night...that!”

“Oh...that...” Dancer replied, chuckling. “Do you want the easy or the hard answer?”

“Easy, please.”

“Okay. I keep all of it miniaturized and stored on my costume. At least that’s what I say to keep my head from hurting trying to figure it out myself.”

“In other words, you don’t know?” White Owl’s eyes were wide.

“A very good friend of mine provided our uniforms and much of our equipment and modified the stuff I provided on my own. He’s tried to explain it to me, but I get lost about two words past ‘quantum manipulation’ and just say shrunk instead.”

“‘Errrr...”

“Exactly. It’s a lot easier to say. Oh, here. Use this.” She handed White Owl a small earpiece and a small clear bandage. “It’s a communicator. Paired to the ones my friends and I Use, put  the one thing in your ear and stick the other on you jaw bone just under that.”

“That looks pretty small. What kind of range does it have?”
“On it’s own, only about a mile or so. But it piggybacks on cellular signals, so just about nationwide, I guess. Definitely anywhere in the city.”

White Owl looked at the items once more, “your friend make these, too?”

“Yep. He’s a real wizard at this kind of thing. And others.”

That got a chuckle in response, “I don’t suppose his name is Gandalf, is it?”

Starlight Dancer blinked, “What?”

“You said he’s a wizard. You’re an elf, so I just figured...”

“Now who’s being a nut? Of course he isn’t Gandalf. Gandalf’s a fictional character.” Dancer was silent for a moment or two before adding, “But he was Merlin once upon a time.”

“And you all live in a hollow tree and bake cookies...”

“Of course not! We’ve got a two story building that houses a book shop, an apartment and an underground passage that leads to our headquarters four blocks away. And I like muffins better than cookies. Are you ready?”

White Owl nodded, “I guess. What do you want me to do?”

“It’s your city, you know it better than I do. How about flying a patrol and call if you spot anything. I’m going to start at the bar from yesterday then try some of the others if I don’t get lucky there; I’ll call if I see anything.”

White Owl thought for a few moments then shrugged, “We only have one victim so far and what you said you saw; it’s as good a plan as any. Gold hair and amber eyes?”

“And a green dress,” Dancer added. “Though I suppose she could change clothes easily enough. Yes, it’s not much to go on, but if there’s even the slightest chance of preventing another killing, it’s worth the effort, isn’t it?”

“Good point,” White Owl admitted. “I’ll patrol unless I get called for something else.”

“I understand. It’s your city to protect. If you need help, call me. I have GPS on my motorcycle.” Before White Owl could ask, Starlight Dancer stooped down and a sleek green street bike appeared then disappeared just as quickly.

“That’s one way to avoid parking fees and fines I guess,” Was White Owl’s chuckling reply. “With a trick like that, why don’t you call yourself Harpo?”

“Because Starlight Dancer is a rough translation of my name, Shaandra Gael.”

“And it really does suit the way you can move.”

“We better get going. If we don’t find anything, or something else interrupts us, I’ll treat you to breakfast wherever you like.”

“And if we do find something?”

“Lunch or dinner?”

“Alright then. I’ll meet you back here around dawn.”

“Unless we meet somewhere else, that works for me. Good hunting.”

White Owl watched Dancer walk back towards the end of the alleyway before taking to the air herself.

**************

The bar had a decent crowd but was hardly the mass of people there would have been had there been a big time star or a hip nightclub; maybe a few more than usual for a Saturday night because of the band. Mostly middle-aged, a few younger and a handful of older, nostalgic for their birth lands or wanting a taste of the culture they never knew. Shaandra Gael could sympathize, being born Romany but never exposed to the culture since she had been raised in Canada as a Canadian, she had little connection to that or any other culture of her birth region and she appreciated the passions displayed in the music.

She could overhear the bartenders talking and, by the lack of concern in their voices, assumed that the late Henri Dubresky had not been expected to be on duty tonight and that news of his demise had not yet been reported. That would change soon enough and she grieved for them in advance. But she kept her senses alert.

The band took a break and that’s when he found her target. The gold hair and the amber eyes fairly shimmered in a darkened corner of the room.

“White Owl, this is Gael, do you hear me?”

“I hear you just fine...Gael? Not Shaandra?”

“Later for that. She’s here. Same dress and everything. And...oh dear...this could be a problem. She’s flirting with the Cimbolom player.”

“Why is that a problem and what’s a cimbolom?”

“Do you know what a hammered dulcimer is? Kind of like that but more resonant. It’s a problem because he’s big. She’s either really hungry or she’s hoping to stock up for the winter.”

“How do you want to play this?”

“Stay nearby. I don’t think she’ll try anything before closing and I want to be certain she’s what we’re looking for. I’ll call back once I know more.”

“Roger.”

“No, I’m Gael.”

“You’re impossible is what you are!” But she caught a bit of a chuckle from over the comm.

Gael continued to watch. The woman remained at her table when the band began playing again. She went to the bar just long enough to order and pay for a drink then went back to her place. When the band broke again, she continued flirting g with the cimbolom player; it looked like he was going to be her prey tonight. Gael figured she’d have at least some superhuman strength given the man’s size. Eventually, last call came, the band ended their last set and packed things away. The gold-haired woman gave her target a kiss and slipped out of the front with other customers. Gael followed.

“She’s moving, it’s definitely the cimbolom player. I’m heading out now.”

“I’ll be there in a moment,” White Owl replied, “taking down a mugger with bad judgement in location.”

“Copy that. See you when you get here.”

“Wait for backup if you can. I won’t be long.”

“I’m guessing she’s stronger than me, but I doubt she’s the kind to say ‘please.’”

That got another chuckle, “Copy that.”

Gael waited a few minutes more before editing with another group of people and looked down the street in both directions and spotted the green dress most of a block away. Instead of heading directly there, she ducked into an alley, quickly and quietly ran up a fire escape to the rooftop, dashed across roofs and leapt between buildings before dropping back to street level a block beyond her target. She changed into her costume but kept the street clothes over it, trusting the bit that showed would be mistaken for stockings or tights and a pair of gloves. She left the mask off.

Then she moved towards her target at a normal walk. The woman was under a street;amp, looking back towards the bar and looking that way, Gael saw the cimbolom player exiting; his bulk was unmistakable. She was now barely five feet away from the golden haired girl.

The kick that shattered her pelvic bone caught her entirely by surprise; she didn’t see it until she had been struck. A kick in the ribs stilled her writhing then the woman was on top of her. The smile she gave grew ever more wide until it was literally splitting her face from ear to ear and her tongue was sliding over sharp fangs.

“My, my,” The voice was raspy and cruelly taunting, “we usually have to work much for our meals.” She leaned closer as though to kiss her and, instead, exhaled hard into Gael’s mouth. Gael tried to resist but the breath was forced into her lungs. As her body froze up, she realized the Adair had been laced with Stiff! She tried to speak and only managed “tra-“ before she was completely paralyzed.

“And what lovely little bird have you caught, my beautiful Carathis?” It was the cimbolom player!

“That mousy girl who’d been watching us all night, Vathek my love. Though it turns out she’s no mouse.” Fingers pulled at Gael’s hair and revealed one of her pointed ears.

“Oh! This is a treat!” Varthek said gleefully. “Truly a feast my love!”

*************

A mugger was hardly a threat to her, gun or no, just time she didn’t want to spend with a petty nuisance right now. She was cuffing his unconscious hands around a light post when the muffled “tra-“ sounded in the earpiece Starlight Dancer had given her. Leaping into the air, she quickly flew the few blocks and spotted gold hair and green dress as part of a cluster of people; one of them look to be as big around as he was tall. He looked up, lips stained red, and dropped a third figure that fell limply to the sidewalk.

Shaandra Gael in her street clothes! The side of her neck was red to match the man’s lips.

She dove, rushing at the man and planning on using her speed and strength to hit him hard. He was suddenly a blur and moved out of her way then grabbed her ankle as she flew past! He moved like Gael did! He spun and flung her at a wall. She caught herself just before hitting and rushed back towards him, kicking. He dodged again and landed a punch on her cheek. He was strong, maybe as strong as White Owl herself, and very fast. The blow was startling but did little damage.

They traded blows and she came to realize he relied on his speed and strength but he didn’t really have any fighting skills; after a few punches she was able to predict his moves and counter the advantage his speed gave him. Now to figure out how to hurt him!

Carathis watched her lover and White Owl fighting for a moment then turned her attention back to the elf lying dead at her feet. Her love had fed well, the ripped throat did not ooze blood. Now it was her turn to feed. But where to start? She looked so delicious. Finally, she decided and lifted up one of the elf’s slender arms. Opening her mouth wide, she placed the arm between rows of sharp fangs and bit down hard.

The screams stopped Varthek in the midst of a punch. “Carathis?” She was looking at him, face contorted in agony, with most of her fangs broken completely away and the few remaining cracked badly.

“My teef! My beautiful teef!” She cried. Varthek moved towards her, his own fight forgotten until White Owl’s boot nearly tore his head off in a spinning high kick.

“Varfef!” Carathis called out as she saw him go down. A gleaming flash of a sword separated her head from her neck.

Gael and her confounding tricks! The sword dropped from her left hand and made a tossing gesture. White Owl grabbed the short staff, more a baton, really, that had appeared midway towards her.

“Teak,” Gael gasped then gestured towards the big man who was s rambling back to his feet. “Vampire...”

White Owl understood, blessed Athena, she understood. Using the stick, she renewed her attack, the length and hardness of the stick adding extra force to the blows. He was soon down again.

“Vampire...” Gael said again, pointing at him. “Not...alive...”

White Owl nodded. The man was still down, flat on his back. She put the end of the stick over his chest where the heart would be and pushed down hard. Even without it being sharpened to a point, her strength was sufficient to make it pierce his heart.

He wasn’t going to get back up.

“Gael!” She was at the elf’s side in an instant, “you’re not dead!”

“Hurts too much to be dead,” Her voice was getting a bit stronger though it still wasn’t much over a whisper in volume. “Hips broken. Right arm, too where she tried to bite me.”

“What did you do to her?” White Owl asked, looking at Gael’s arm. The fabric of the sweater was ripped to shreds, with the remains of several broken fangs stuck in the wool. Beneath that, she could see Starlight Dancer’s costume, intact.

“Mine’s bulletproof, too,” Gael said, managing a weak smile. “Toothproof, too...”

“Goof! Do you always come armed for vampires”

“Never met one before. But a teak escrima stick makes a good stake doesn’t it? Need more, though.” She pointed to the sword lying nearby. Then four stubby, cylindrical objects appeared by her hand.

“Thermite incendiaries. Two for each of them...”

“One for the head, one for the body,” White Owl said, nodding. She took up the sword and went back to the staked vampire. It wasn’t the neat stroke that Gael had managed, but she did get the head cut from the body. She carried both heads a short distance away; one thermite grenade for each body and each head soon had all of the burning into ash.

“That should do,” Gael said, sounding better still. “Ow...first time I’be encountered anyone as fast as me but a lot stronger. Didn’t expect there to be two, either. Should’ve.”

“Don’t kick yourself over it,” At the laugh, While Owl realized what she said. “Never mind. We can never anticipate everything. The Devil is in the Details...what did I say that’s so funny this time?”

“A friend of mine, made my gear, is very...detail-oriented...”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but why aren’t you dead?”

“I’m Elf. Elves don’t kill easily or stay dead for long.” She paused a moment, wincing at a sudden pain. “Fang girl breathed Stiff into me after kicking me. Then the big guy drank my blood. I regenerate and blood gets replaced pretty fast; the fresh blood cleaned the Stiff from my system faster and I’ve been exposed a few times already. Helps build up some resistance.

‘“I should have learned to expect answers that don’t make much sense from you,” White Owl groused. “Let’s get you some attention.”

“Please, no hospitals. Do...do you have a hot tub, or big bathtub?”




*************

It had been a very busy few days but, at last, the day had been saved. Now, he could go back home and spend time with his wife. Captain Valiant flew to the building that housed their apartment, landed on the roof, and changed into civilian clothes out of sight then slipped through the skylight that illuminated their bathroom.

“‘Thena, honey?” He called out after a moment, “Why is there a naked girl floating in our bathtub?”
Ghouls and Dolls. A Starlight Dancer story
Just in time for Halloween. Guest starring :iconwhite0wlsuperheroine:  who might be regretting suggesting this team-up a little bit ago...
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:iconabashful1:
abashful1 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2018
Thanks for watching :rose:
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hippo2 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2018
Thank you for the watch and the faves.
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ShadowhawkOne Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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laughingvulcan Featured By Owner May 9, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fave! :)

Be well.
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Ningyou-Macher Featured By Owner May 1, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the watch!
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FDComics Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for watching :)
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Doozer73 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2018
Thank you for the Watch!
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Kheops2000 Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2018
Thank you so much for your support to :iconcuria-dd: by faving

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CirQ-of-Ittus Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2017
Lovely stuff on your page. I'm not sure there's many that appreciate something like

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Weird Mermaid TF 2 by theotherodd
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m-masque Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2017
My tastes are manifold.🙂
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