Posts Tagged ‘D’

Deposition – A She-Hulk Story

April 4, 2020

Patsy Walker felt weird being out of costume. She usually did a lot of her work as an investigator for Jennifer Walters (alias She-Hulk) under the guise of Hellcat. That meant that she wore a mask as she crept around and figured out the truth of the matter for Jen’s cases. OF course, she did ask plenty of questions without the mask but she still felt like Hellcat when she was doing that. Patsy Walker was famous for her mother’s dumb soap opera. She felt so disconnected from that life. She also felt pretty disconnected from superhero life. She was happy to do some investigation for her old friend but also loved running the job agency she had founded while Jen was in a coma.

She also felt uncomfortable because of why they were sitting at the oak table so early in the morning. She glanced over at Jen. Jennifer Walters, Esquire was the picture of calm looking serious but with that warm nature that her best friends knew she had. Patsy knew that she was angry. Who wouldn’t be? Unlike her cousin, Jen could control her anger. She would remain professional and she would continue to conduct business in the interest of her client. Patsy was ready to go out and get revenge, maybe enlist somebody like fellow investigator Jessica Jones to help her. Jen would be so disappointed in that, though.

At 10:05, just 5 minutes late, the potential client walked in wearing a scarf over her hair and large sunglasses. As she took those off, Patsy saw how beautiful she was. Of course, Patsy had seen pictures in the paper and news footage but it was different when you saw somebody in person. Her name was Amber Guttierez but the public knew her as Lightblaster. She had been born with the power to generate and control light which she easily used for offensive and defensive capabilities. She had been part of the superhero group known as The Blockbusters, a C-level team that had achieved some notoriety as good crimefighters.

Jen stood up, towering over both Patsy and Amber with her gamma-irradiated condition. Patsy scrambled to her feet and tried to smile brightly. Jen’s smile came off as warmer and welcoming. Amber held out her hand and Jen and Patsy both shook it in turn. Jen gestured to the seat opposite where Patsy and she had been sitting.

“Please, Ms. Guttierez,” Jen said. “have a seat. Can we get you anything? Coffee? Water?”

“No,” Amber said. “I’m fine. You can call me Amber.”

Jen and Patsy sat back down in their seats. “Thank you for coming, Amber,” Jen said. “This means a lot to us.”

“I’m not sure how much I can help,” Amber said. “I just don’t know.” She looked away and down and Patsy could not help but feel for the woman. She knew something but was afraid to talk. If she did not talk, then the case was weaker for it.

“That’s ok,” Jen said. “We’re not about to make you do anything you don’t want to. That’s what we’re trying to stop.”

Amber looked at her helplessly. “I signed a paper,” she said. “My hands are tied.”

“There are ways around that,” Jen said. “We can help protect you. I know, why don’t we tell you what we have so far? That way you can see where you stand and with whom.”

“Ok,” Amber said softly and nodded, a little hesitant.

There was a pause and then Jen nudged Patsy and she blinked. “Oh,” Patsy said. “Right. It’s nice to finally meet you, Amber. My name is Patsy Walker.”

“The Patsy Walker?” Amber asked. “I’ve read all of your comics.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” Patsy said, trying not to show her annoyance. “Nowadays I work as an investigator.”

“And you’d be working on this case?” Amber asked.

“I already have been,” Patsy said. “Yours is not the only story we’ve gotten wind of. I have interviewed many young women with situations similar to yours. I can’t exactly name names but what we are seeing is a pattern of behavior. The superhero (and I use hero with extreme quotes here) known as Hardliner has exhibited a lot of inappropriate behavior. He has been aggressively sexual with over a dozen different superheroines and probably more. He might even have done the same to civilians.”

“I’m not the only one?” Amber asked, tears starting to form in her eyes.

“You’re not alone,” Jen said. “We’re here to tell you that if you choose to move forward with us, then you will have company. He did this to other girls and that will not stand.”

“Are you telling me that he hurt other girls? That maybe if I had done something, he would have stopped?” Amber asked.

“He would not have stopped, Amber,” Jen said. “Guys like that do not stop until they are stopped.”

“How can I do that?” Amber asked.

“How can *we* do that?” Jen said, correcting her gently. “We do it by standing together. We do it by adding your story to all of the other stories we have.” She held out a box of tissues.

“Alright,” Amber said, dabbing the tears away. “I’ll tell my story.”

Patsy reached out and turned on her recorder and gave Jen a nod. “Whenever you’re ready, Amber,” Jen said.

(Marvel Comics was suggested by my friend Liz on Twitter)

The Dragonsong

April 4, 2019

Akhona paced in the hall, the marble echoing under each of his steps, the claws of his feet clicking against the stone. He was nervous, far more nervous than he had been since he could remember. In fact, he did not really ever remember being nervous. He was part of the third generation which meant that he had never known any other world than this one. He liked his life, it was fairly peaceful. He was in training to be a knight like his uncle, a great warrior who protected the peace. He worried that that peace was now in danger. Which is why he was pacing. Finally, the door opened and his uncle, Mpendulo, stepped out into the hall looking very perturbed.  Akhona paused for a moment but he could not hold in his excitement.

“Uncle,” Akhona said. “What is going on? The palace is abuzz with rumors.  Please tell me.” He perhaps got too close to his uncle and had to be pushed back to give some personal space.

“Walk with me, nephew,” Mpendulo said and gestured for Akhona to follow before he started walking. Akhona hurried to keep up. “I apologize for having to exclude you from the meeting, you are not yet allowed to sit in the room during such conferences.”

“I know, uncle,” Akhona said. “I am still in training.” He lowered his eyes to the floor. He knew his place even if he longed for more responsibility, more acknowledgment. He was caught between respect and excitement.

“Yes, my young squire,” his uncle said. “And yet, I am not forbidden to fill you in on what I know.” Akhona looked up with a slow smile and met Mpendulo’s smiling eyes.

“Is that so?” Akhona asked, easily keeping pace with his uncle. The question was tentative as his uncle did sometimes test Akhona by dangling a learning opportunity in front of him.

“It is up to a knight’s discretion to pass on information that might help in their mission,” Mpendulo said. “As my squire, I need you to know what I know in order to keep the peace. If you live in ignorance, you are of no use to me.”

“As you say, uncle,” Akhona said. “My eyes are your eyes, my claws are your claws. My mind is receptive to your teaching.”

“Thank you,” Mpendulo said. “It relieves me some to hear you say so. As golden dragons, we are often given the hardest tasks but there is nobody I trust more than family.” The two of them stepped out onto one of the palace’s balconies. With the additional space, the two of them changed shape from two-legged beings to their full dragon forms. Mpendulo paused and looked out over the beautiful land of Dragonia. It was a rich yet varied land due to the many energies of its denizens. Swamps, mountains, plains, forests, and more had been gifted to their kind to live in.

“Please tell me everything, uncle,” Akhona said. “The anticipation is killing me.”

Mpendulo laughed at that, savoring knowing and holding the power in the situation for a moment. “There is a rumor,” Mpendulo said. “It is a very believable rumor. A strong rumor that a faction is preparing the Dragonsong.”

“The Dragonsong!?” Akhona asked. “That is forbidden! So this faction wants to open the gate wide? They want to return to the land of elves?”

“Yes,” Mpendulo said. “At least, that is the easy assumption. As you know, many of our kind are content with living in this new land. However, others desire to return to our ancestral lands for conquest. Some have managed to slip back there on their own but such travelers are few and far between. With the Dragonsong, they could march on a world that is no longer ours.”

“But those who want to go are undesirables,” Akhona said. “Would it not be better to see them go?”

“We made an ancient promise,” Mpendulo said. “We must make sure they also keep that promise in order to make sure the elves and other races stay safe. It’s their world now. The elves, the humans, the gnomes, and so on.”

“I suppose you’re right, uncle,” Akhona said, backpedaling from his statement and puffing out his chest. “It is our duty and we must do it. We should do it. So how are they meant to do it? What is our first step?”

“Well, the first thing we know is that the song can only be sung from the throat of a small one,” Mpendulo said. “A halfling.”

“I’ve seen those things in books,” Akhona said with a shrug. “I cannot imagine how they would convince a halfling to open the gate.”

“Indeed. The rumor is that the black dragons are abducting halflings to study,” Mpendulo said. “They are taking them by force. Once they have figured out the halflings, I suppose they would find one among them who could change their form to suit their needs.”

“The ability to use our shape change ability to that level is rare, no?” Akhona asked.

“Yes,” Mpendulo said. “Incredibly rare. I’m almost more nervous that the black dragons have somebody with that much ability. I suppose anything is possible in this brave new world but that is for the scholars to figure out. Your sister perhaps.”

“Where do we start?” Akhona asked, both nervous and excited at the same time. He was still a young dragon, merely a hundred years old.

“We find isolated black dragons and we start trying to get information out of them,” Mpendulo said. “We work our way up the chain and we find whoever is doing this.”

Akhona cracked his knuckles and flexed his claws. “So we do this by force?” There was very real excitement in his eyes.

Mpendulo chuckled. “If we have to,” he said. “As always, if we can use or words instead, we will. We cannot be quick to strike when we can persuade or intimidate.”

Akhona took a deep, centering breath and tried not to be disappointed. “You are right as always, uncle,” he said.

Mpendulo actually fully laughed this time. “Not always, nephew,” he said.

(Written 3/26/19)

Died On a Saturday

April 4, 2018

(Edit 5/11/18: Yesterday, a man was hit by a light rail train during my morning commute.  I use those trains almost every day and that is where this story came from.  It is morbid and I kind of regret it now knowing that it can easily happen in real life.  I will not be removing it but I did not intend any offense to loved ones of those who have been hit by these trains.)

I remember the bus. No wait, it was a train. A train is way more impressive anyway. The local Light Rail train’s lights were flashing and the horn was blaring and the driver’s eyes were wide. They were really wide. As wide as I have ever seen eyes. I suppose I may have changed his life. I remember all of that. I do not remember the impact although I imagine there must have been one. Perhaps several impacts followed by a prolonged dragging. It is hard to tell, the report is kind of redacted on the specifics. I am not sure if that is for liability purposes or to spare me some kind of emotional or mental trauma. Either way, it is both a relief and an annoyance.

Let me take it back a little if I can engage in a little bit of a Hollywood cliche. I was heading to the Charles Theater in Station North. They were showing The Sting and Oh, Brother Where Art Thou? both of which I had already seen several times over. I kind of decided informally a while ago that I was not going to rewatch things since there is too much on my plate to watch but this was too good to pass up. I had never seen The Sting on the big screen and it is one of my favorite movies. Anyway, I plugged my headphones into my phone and walked to wait for the train.

The train took forever to come but soon I was hopping aboard and I even quickly found a seat which often doesn’t happen on workdays. As heavy metal songs gave way to musicals, I rolled my way through two stops, finally hopping out right near the Lyric, the sight of my college internship. To think, I outlasted an institution like Baltimore Opera Company. I shook my head and started to cross the tracks, thinking the train would have to stop for traffic like it does when I get off at Lexington. I was wrong. A horn, a flashing light, a scarred driver and then darkness. Pure darkness. Painless darkness.

But not forever. The darkness I woke up to was a different sort. There was still an absence of light but not an absence of consciousness. There was also the presence of a crick in my neck and a throbbing in my temples. I reached out blindly and felt what I imagined was steel. I traced my hands along the metal, and when I found that I was in a box, I started banging on it wildly. Eventually, somebody in blue scrubs opened the drawer I was in and I climbed out, nearly knocking the man over. He started screaming and it was probably not because I was naked. I felt a little dizzy so I sat down and held my head in my hands as the screaming continued.

And that more or less brings me to now. The above statement is everything that I can remember happening. Well, a whole crowd of doctors and security flooded the room after that. After they realized that I was not a zombie (at least not in the traditional sense, the security guys backed off and let the doctors go to work. They examined me top to bottom and I got a plate full of cafeteria food after I put on some clothes. There were all sorts of apologies but I figured that I was alive and in good health. No harm, no foul. Still, they wanted me for observation and doctors started to interview me.

Finally, I decided to question one of them. “Why are you asking me all of these questions?” I asked. “You guys messed up. You made a mistake. You thought I was dead and you were wrong.”

The young man was a medical student and he seemed astonished by my question. “You mean, nobody’s told you?”

“Told me what?” I asked. “They keep asking questions. They don’t actually tell me things.”

“You definitely died,” he said. “Look at this.” He handed me a packet of papers and I started to look through it. As I did, my stomach started to do somersaults and I was at risk for throwing up some more of that cafeteria food. The first thing in the packet was my death certificate. I shrugged that first blow off as a mistake. Then I got to the actual technical mumbo jumbo. It was a lot harder to shrug off. “Look at the time they signed of on your death. Last Saturday at 1 PM.”

“Died on a Saturday,” I half-mumbled. “Good thing I wasn’t buried the next day.”

“What?” He asked, a funny look on his face.

“Oh, just a poem that I remembered,” I said. “Google Solomon Grundy.”

“Died on a Saturday. Reborn on a Wednesday?” He asked.

“I guess that’s how my poem goes,” I conceded. “But I still argue that I could have been in a coma that whole time.

“Look at the last page,” He said. “When they brought you in you were in two pieces. You look fine to me.”

I could feel the blood drain from my face. “I’m feeling less fine all the time.”

The student looked at me kindly. “Just relax. You’re back in one piece. You’re walking and talking. You’ve got clothes on again. All the tests came back with healthy results.”

“No wonder you all are studying me before I can go,” I said. “Well, study on then. I want to know the answer.”

* * *

“So that’s the story,” I said. “My death and resurrection.”

The investigator from the MTA was completely shaken on the other side of the table. She had been jotting down notes at first but at some point in the story, she had just stopped. “So, what does it all mean?”

“Well,” I said. “I guess it means the Maryland Transit Administration is definitely not liable for running me over. I’ve studied enough to realize there are no real damages to sue for.”

“No, I mean, well, yes thank you,” she said. “I mean what does it mean in general? Why did you come back like you did?”

“I have no idea,” I said with a shrug. I leaned back in my chair.

Dungeons and Dragons and More

April 5, 2017


My friends and my enemies.

Dungeons and Dragons is something that I ran in parallel to for a long time before recently getting to play it for real. I listened to podcasts and read the literature. I played a forum version of it which is just not the same thing. Dungeon and Dragons is not a whole lot different from most tabletop roleplaying games. It is a system of collaborative storytelling where you and friends are playing both with and against a friend calling themselves the dungeon master (or game master). Tabletop roleplaying puts you into the shoes of your character and you must control them as you act and react in an imaginary world. Personally, it has helped me come out of my shell a little more.


Like most young kids in the nineties, I wanted to be a vampire at one point or another.

I was a shy kid. I talked to my friends but I did not take a whole lot of chances when it came to social skills. As a hopeless introvert, becoming somebody else was my fantasy. I wanted to be somebody interesting. I played a lot of video games but when I grew up, games were played by yourself or with one friend. A woman I had a crush on in theater told me that she and her friends played a game called Vampire: The Dark Ages. I was enraptured by her stories. I really wanted to play too but I was kind of underage at the time so that invitation never came. I created characters on my own but I never got up the courage to ask my friends to play. Some of them probably would have done it but I will never know now.


And yes, you can work through some issues with roleplaying.

Now that I am running with a group, I wonder how I was ever not doing this. Also, I realize how helpful it is. It forces me to make decisions about what I want to do and what I must do during pretty dire straits. However, those dire straits are imaginary so there is a very low risk. Dungeons and Dragons is really good with this. The game can turn brutal in an instant and what was looked easy has now brought you to death’s door. Will you go down the left or right path? Will you attack the ogre or his wizard pal? In this safe space, you get to act as something more than yourself. The fantasy is an outlet for seeing different parts of yourself. Most of my characters spring from something I wish I was or I hope I am not.


I resisted making this next bit political.

There is also the axis of alignment. That is an incredibly important concept that arose in roleplaying games and Dungeons and Dragons in particular. It actually teaches a bit about the real world. On the far left of the axis is chaotic and the far right is lawful. In between is a spectrum between lawlessness and lawfulness. On the bottom of the axis is evil and on the top is good. In between is the spectrum of kindness and spite. In the exact center is neutralness. I have thought recently about who I am. I know that when I was younger I was lawful good but as you saw in an earlier story, I wanted to be seen as chaotic good. Now, I think I am somewhere in between. I am neutral good. I want to work towards the good of all people but I understand that some laws are good and some laws are bad and you cannot just obey the law blindly.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

April 5, 2016

When I was sitting down to plan all of my entries for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I tried to think about what happened last year that worked. Last year, I reviewed a movie named City Under Siege for the third day of the challenge and he letter C. I picked the title at random because it was available on Netflix and fit a letter that I had no other plans for. I went into the movie blind and ended up loving it and highly recommending it. I scrolled through my Netflix list and tried to think of movies that would be fun to review this month. I never want my blog to be a chore and I never want to post anything that was not genuine. I ended up picking today’s movie because I was intrigued by the title and, like City Under Siege, it is an Asian film. I am always looking to expand my horizons so how about we see how that worked out?

I usually go for dubbed versions of these movies if I can help it but this was not an option this time. I am totally alright with that though because I have watched a lot of subtitled movies in various languages as well. This is Chinese which has rules that automatically make it a short of musical language with a particular staccato rhythm. I like it, I just do not speak it. It is sort of a period piece which I am not as experienced in beside movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It looks like we’re looking at maybe the early 1800’s but I really don’t know Chinese history very well. Add on to that the fact that this is a stylized movie much in the way of the Sherlock Holmes movies or the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Time period means less than the general look of the movie.

The movie stars Andy Lau who you may know from movies I still want to see like House of Flying Daggers and Infernal Affairs and an upcoming Matt Damon movie. He plays a disgraced dissident who must solve why important people are suddenly spontaneously combusting. He has a comic but serious air to him that is pretty charismatic. I am surprised that he has not been scooped up by Hollywood before recent events. His Co-star is Bingbing Li who actually has been in some minor Hollywood films. She plays the Empress’ right-hand woman, Jing’er, who is responsible for Detective Dee and also the Empress’ safety. Her face and voice depict even more than her lines do and she’s a great match for Lau. They are joined by a lot of good side characters like the Empress, Donglai, Wang and many more.

As expected, there’s a lot of martial arts in the movie. It is a Hong Kong film so it is not surprising that there is brilliant fight scenes with weapons, wire stunts and a lot of choreographed chaos. My favorite thing about Hong Kong movies is the fluidity of motion and the elaborate movements that people use sometimes to accomplish simple tasks. It makes every moment seem important. I also expected there to be mystery elements in the movie since the word is in the title and the main character is a detective. I did not expect the mystery to be so intricate and well written. It reminds me of Sherlock Holmes, Poirot or other similar logic-based mystery stories. There is even rudimentary forensics without getting too outlandish. What I was not prepared for was the politics. There are some interesting political motivations going on that underly everything. Some of them even have parallels to early 2016 US politics but it’s all really well done.

The movie is silly in places and some things do not make sense but I chalk that up to cultural differences. There are probably references that I am not catching which is fine. I really liked this movie quite a bit. There were a lot of surprises that I just cannot get into here for fear of spoiling the movie. The movie also had a lot of interesting innovations for old devices that I really enjoyed a lot. The characters were complicated and difficult to predict. I really, really liked that. This movie has been on Netflix for forever so I hope it’s there when you go looking for it.


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