The Silent Veil: Lacryma (IC)

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The Silent Veil: Lacryma (IC)

Postby Antimersia » Sat Apr 27, 2024 5:51 pm

Silent Veil: Lacryma

Washington D.C.
Nov. 11th, 1959

“What’s he doing now?”

“The same thing he always does. Nothing.”

“How can a man do nothing but sit in a cell for a year?”

“It’s not like he has many other options. He’s in a cell ten miles below ground.”

“Could do some push ups.”

“He doesn’t look like he’s done a single push up in his life.”

Both men laugh as they lean back in their chairs. Staring at the fuzzy black and white screens before them. Watching the cell of Carter Knight. Observing and ensuring that he stays exactly where he is meant to. The two men, dressed in army fatigues, continue to talk casually as the man on their screen sits in quiet meditation on the bed of his cell. As one of the doors swing open to the observation room, both men quickly jump up to attention as General Abraham Anders slowly walks in. Each step of his leather boots carrying a weighty thump on the ground. The three stars on his shoulders stand out among his honors. His slicked black hair and cold demeanor is ever present as he holds his men at attention for an extended period. Taking a look at the screen for a moment. Staring at the man who caused so much damage and strife.

“At ease.” Anders says with little emotion. The two men move to stand at ease behind their general. “Hard to believe, isn’t it? That a pissant like him was able to do so much damage? Back in Normandy twigs like him didn’t even make it to shore.” He said, his words full of lies as he never fought in Normandy.

“Yes he is shockingly thin, sir.” One of the men answered.

“That his is.” Anders smiles crookedly. “Well thankfully we won’t have to deal with Silents like him anymore. Ain’t that right gentlemen?”

“Sir, yessir” They reply in unison.

“I look forward to seeing your task force in action, sir.” one of them says boldly.

“You look forward to it?” Anders asks, turning around with a soured expression. “My task force will only see action if threats beyond what the military is naturally capable arise and you are looking forward to that? What are you some sort of psychopath?”

“Sir, no sir.”

“Then explain to me just why in the word you would want to see such horrors. You must not have been to war son. I’ve seen battle. I’ve seen men cut down by German machine guns. That is not something you want to see.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I simply meant to express my belief in your cause and mission, sir.” the soldier answers, fear making his voice crack.

“I’m not sure you understand the mission. The mission, is to prevent more incidents like Chicago, and Carter Knight. Not to rush headlong into battle. This isn’t some Ruth Hawthorne poster. This is war. You’d do best to remember that.”

“Sir, yessir!”

Anders takes one last glance at the screen, seeing that Carter hasn’t moved a muscle since he last looked, before stepping out of the room and heading down the hall. The two solders relax their bodies. The one having been yelled at is shaking slightly from the experience.

“You should probably keep quiet next time.”

“I think I’m gonna keep quiet every time, from now on.”

Meanwhile, General Anders heads down the hall towards the elevator. Taking it up back towards ground level. Stepping out of the elevator to be immediately greeted by a young man with flowing blonde hair, a wide smile, and an eager bounce in his step.

“General Anders! It’s a pleasure to meet you sir!” the young man says, his voice filled with enthusiasm.

“Walters, right?” Anders replies, his voice monotone.

“That’s right sir! Jermaine Walters reporting for duty.” Jermaine replies with a light chuckle. Anders begins to walk down the hall, past Jermaine. Who stumbles a bit when moving to follow the quick walking General.

“You’re one of the civilian recruits, so I’ll excuse it this one time. But in the future when you address me, do so with a salute. You’re a soldier now. So I will not be so kind a second time.”

“Ah okay, my bad. I’ll do my best sir! I’m just happy to help. After what happened in Chicago, I just really wanna-”

“And it would be best if you don’t speak out of turn.” Anders interrupts. “Learn rules like this fast, Walters. Otherwise I’ll have to send you to basic training.”

Jermaine is about to reply but he stifles his words. Just nodding in understanding before following General Anders into a small conference room. The moment they step inside, Jermaine sees three men who have arrived first. Two of them, a shockingly tall and burly black gentlemen and a toned middle eastern man, shoot to their feet and stand at attention. The third leans back in his seat, spinning his mask on his finger like a disc.

“At ease gentlemen.” The two saluting men stand at ease. “You there, Nesbit is it?”

“That’s my last name, yeah.” The sitting man replies. His hair is golden and brushed over neatly. He looks like the type of man you would see in a fashion catalog rather than in the Pentagon. “I go by Trey though.”

“You will go by what I call you. As I was just explaining to your fellow civilian in Walters, you’re a soldier now. And you will act like it. Or else that deal you made to have your mask destroyed will be off the table. Understood?”

“Yes.” Trey replies, vicar in his tone.

“Yes what?”


“Good.” Anders looks over to the burly black gentleman. Looking him up and down with a slightly more appeased expression. “Now here is a soldier. You must be Nicholas Ray.”

“Sir, yes sir!” He says with a loud and booming confidence.

“Now that is what I like to hear. Make sure you whip the two civis into shape for me.”

“Sir, yes sir!”

“And you,” Anders begins, turning to the shorter but broad middle eastern man. “The Moroccan. Asnan Kay-tel is it?”

“Sir, it is pronounced Katel, sir.” He replies, his accent thick but not difficult to understand.

“You’re the one with the bones.” Anders says semi mockingly.

“Sir, yes sir.”

“At least they know how to train soldiers over there in the east. Alright gentlemen take a seat. We have a lot to go over and not a lot of time to get it drilled into your dense heads.”

The men all sit in various spots around the coference table. Anders shuts off the light and rolls an overhead projector into place to display on the wall opposite of the door. He places a clear sheet on the projector and begins to write on it. Writing and drawing as he begins to explain the situation.

“This will be considered your formal briefing. Due to the generally confusing nature of some of this information, you are all permitted to ask questions freely when you have them.” Anders begins. “And I would like to remind you all that you signed an agreement, acknowledging that this information is highly classified and may not be shared to anyone without proper clearance.” Anders pauses for a moment to let that reminder sink in. “As you all should be aware, the incident with Carter Knight in Chicago taught us quite a bit about the nature of these masks and the Silents that possess them. What you do not know, is that the masks all four of you possess are not of this world. They come from a place that Ruth Hawthorne described as ‘beyond the veil’.”

“The hell is the ‘Veil’?” Trey asked excited curiosity.

“We don’t rightly know just yet. Our best guess is that its a barrier. Separates our world and the world the masks come form.” Anders answers.

“And the Herald!” Jermaine adds.

“Glad you read the dossier Walters.” Anders says with a snide tone. “He is correct, the Herald, which reportedly went by the title of Harbinger, came from there as well. We don’t know if this is a species, or something else entirely. All we do know, is that we killed it.”

“Ruth Hawthorne killed it.” Nicholas interjects with pride in his voice.

“Technically it was Blue Bolt.” Jermaine interjects. “Well, both of them as well as Rozalin Harkness and several FBSS... sorry, FBI agents working together. But according to the dossier Blue Bolt stuck the final blow.”

“Only after Ruth kicked his ass hard enough to let Blue Bolt hit him.” Nicholas argued, somewhat defensively.

“I could not give less of a damn who got the kill shot.” Anders says with rage behind his words. “The damned thing is dead. You four have been hand selected by me to be the instruments by which we will kill any more Heralds that show up and cause havoc. Am I understood?”

“Yes sir.” They all say in relative unison.

“Excuse me, sir.” Jermaine raises his hand before asking his question. “I do have a question on the scope of our operations.”

“Ask it Walters.”

“Well the dossier specified containment of threats, and protecting the nation. I’m just wondering if killing them is necessary. Considering how little we truly know of them.”

“They are evil beings from beyond our world. Demons. The only name worth calling them. And the only end they deserve is death.” Asnan replies righteously.

“Well said.” Nicholas adds.

“Your mask comes from the same place. Wouldn’t that make you part demon then?” Jermaine asks incredulously.

“Yes.” Asnan answers.

“Alright before this turns into some theocratic discussion we are getting back to the task at hand. This group will act as first responders to anything that will be deemed a ‘Silent Event.’ Any time a new Herald or particularly strong Silent causes trouble, we will be sent in first. Minimize casualties, maintain order, and eliminate threats. Between operations you will train here at the Pentagon. You will eat, sleep, and shit here. If you leave, it will be on my orders. Understood?”

“Yes sir.” They reply in relative unison.

“Good. Level 7 is where your quarters will be. Head down and get settled. Your rooms have your names painted on. Dismissed.” Anders says as he shuts off the projector and turns the lights back on. Leaving the conference room before anyone else. The second he leaves two men walk in with four small boxes. They place one in front of each of the four men.

“What’s this?” Trey asks with piqued interest.

“Personal identification and badges.” One of the men answer. When opening the box they see three things. A metal badge showing a mask with the seal of the united states on it, made of a shiny silvery metal. The second thing is a laminated identification card with their picture and names on them. The third being a piece of paper with a unique code.

“What is the code for?” Jermaine asks.

“Its to give us elevator access to level seven.” Nicholas replies for them.

“You mean a code to make sure we can’t go anywhere else.” Trey adds snidely.

“We should be honored to be in the building gentlemen.” Jermaine says with a hopeful smile.

“Honor requires more than presence.” Asnan state as he stands and heads out of the room. The other three following not far behind. The group enter the elevator together. Nicholas inputs his code. Hiding his input from everyone else. Once the code is input, the level seven button glows to indicate it is operable. Nicholas presses it and the elevator starts moving instantly. Heading down to the seventh level underground fast enough that everyone in the elevator could feel a moment of near weightlessness. The doors open and lead into a well lit hall with doors along each side. Looking like the hall goes on forever. As they step off the elevator and begin to look at the doors they see what look almost like prison doors. Hard gray steel doors with wire reinforced windows. On the windows are names, looking as though they were spray painted on through a stencil. The first door has Nicholas’ name. Across the hall from it is Jermaine’s. Beside Jermaine is Trey, and across from Trey and next to Nicholas is Asnan. They all enter their respective rooms. Stepping into the place where they will live for the foreseeable future. And stepping into their new lives, and the task force meant to protect humanity from threats from beyond the Veil. Meanwhile, in another city not far from here, another group is beginning to form, for largely the same purpose.

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Khan of Spam
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Sat Apr 27, 2024 6:08 pm

Rozalin - Little Red Radio
November 10th, 1959
Lakeview, North Chicago

A little red radio, now several years old, played through the air of the kitchen. “Mack the Knife” was the song, sung in Bobby Darin’s jaunty voice. The kitchen in which the music played, however, was much bigger than the last kitchen it had seen. The tile was refreshed, and the cabinets were a shiny almond color. The kitchen table was an actual kitchen table, not a little plastic thing crammed into a corner with some chairs. It even had a lavender-colored tablecloth, and matching wooden chairs. They were antiques, but they had been restored and now matched the almond color of the table and the cabinets.

And on that table, the little red radio stood proud and content, the centerpiece of three years’ hard work.

The radio’s owner threw off her heels in the living room, which was big enough now for throwing expensive shoes around the house. They were orchid-colored pumps, and great short heels. Their owner told themselves they would pick them up later. They could at least afford themselves that time.

The TV had several shows about the Wild West, but today was a crime drama. The owner of the TV sighed, taking off their pink coat as they finally got a chance to relax. The blouse and skirt would stay until they felt like wearing pajamas.

The schedule ahead was busy, but they had just enough time to enjoy this evening. A show here in Chicago, then in Atlantic City, and then a show in Greenwich Village. Eyes closed, as the person lying on the couch breathed in the relief of a hard week’s work, and the promise of another hard week’s work.

After all, Rozalin Harkner was sure that she was the hardest-working woman in show business.

She sipped her tea from a pretty ivory-colored mug, one of a set of six she had bought in New York. Her pink coat had also come from New York, and in thirty-six hours she would be wearing it again. That is, unless she decided to leave the house now for groceries. She could afford more groceries now, including more tea. It was a hot black tea, perfect for the kind of rest she wanted.

Markham played in the background as the phone rang, and she answered it with her eyes still closed. “Hello?”

“Roz?” A familiar man’s friendly voice inquired.

Her eyes shot open, and she smiled. “Oh thank God, it’s you. How are you, Anselm?”

“I’m fine! I have work in a bit. Wanted to see if you had gotten home from St. Louis safely.”

“I did, thank you. It was a long train-ride, but at least I was able to read somewhere in the back.” She smirked, as she moved a tangle of her long, black, curly hair off her blouse. “Doing well enough that I can pay for the house note, but also quiet enough that people let me read in the back of the train.”

“Hey, that’s not bad!” Anselm chuckled on the other end. “At least you don’t have to depend on dives anymore.”

Roz paused, and sipped her tea as a melancholy thought entered her mind. “I do miss the dives every now and then, though.”

“Yeah. We miss you too. But hey, you’re successful, we didn’t want you to have to squeeze pennies forever.”

“That’s true.” She listened to the song change. “Personality” bounced over the radio now, but her mood did not quite change with the song. Rozalin was indeed more successful than she had ever been, and quite happy, but she had felt something was missing. “I haven’t called Charlotte in a while.”

“You’ve been busy as hell, I’m sure she understands.”

“So have you, but you’ve been able to call her!”

Anselm laughed. “Well Roz I haven’t been touring everywhere, you’re on a train one day and a plane the next!”

“She got on one plane and moved and she can still call you!”

“Well she’s probably busy too,” the bouncer suggested, “you ought to call her while you’ve got the chance.”

Rozalin nodded to herself. “I will. Probably as soon as I hang up with you.”

“Good call. You might be able to catch her.”

“And if I don’t catch her?”

“You might catch Frank, who can catch her a lot more easily now.”

Roz snickered. “That’s true.”

“Yeah. Well lemme go finish making lunch, Evie and I both have work.”

“Alright! I’ll try to call you from New York!”

“I’ll be looking forward to it! Tell Char I said hi!”

“Tell Evie I said hi, too!”

“You need to call HER when you’re in New York, she’s been dying to hear more about it.”

Another chuckle. Roz was glad that among the many things that had changed in the last three years, her laughter with her friends had not disappeared. “Alright, alright, I will! It’ll be my fourth time there, this time in Greenwich.”

“Cool! Let us know when you’re in your hotel room, hopefully we won’t be asleep.”

“Will do! Bye!”

She hung up, and laid her head back down on the pillow. The bouncy music ended, and John Coltrane’s saxophone crooned and rolled over the air. Now, something that matched her heartbeat more. She needed slow, she needed time, she needed to think.

And she definitely needed to call Charlotte.
Last edited by Luminesa on Wed May 08, 2024 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Catholic, pro-life, and proud of it. I prefer my debates on religion, politics, and sports with some coffee and a little Aquinas and G.K. CHESTERTON here and there. :3
Unofficial #1 fan of the Who Dat Nation.
"I'm just a singer of simple songs, I'm not a real political man. I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran. But I know Jesus, and I talk to God, and I remember this from when I was young:
faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us...
and the greatest is love."
-Alan Jackson
Help the Ukrainian people, here's some sources!
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Jesus loves all of His children in Eastern Europe - pray for peace.
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Khan of Spam
Posts: 61334
Founded: Dec 09, 2014
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Sat Apr 27, 2024 6:16 pm

Charlotte - Heads Chicago, Tales Claresholm
November 10th, 1959

The snow crunched on the ground under Charlotte’s boots. These were tougher boots than usual, built much more for enduring rain, wind, and snow. Her more fashionable boots were inside the house, sitting in the closet for now. Out in the morning air once again, she took a deep breath and fixed her gloves and scarf before setting forward from the porch into the nearby woods.

The gloves with which she held the firewood were a gift from her father. Thick, mahogany leather, something more fit for an even harsher north than what Lake Michigan could stir from her depths. The scarf, made from a thick, black wool, had been a gift from Anselm. He had included a note for her to call and say hello. She had called him then, and had called him many times since then to tell him how she was doing. And the coat was from Roz, whom she still needed to call more.

Her hair was under her hat once again, and yet she still somehow managed to get snow on both the brim of her hat and the hair on her shoulders. Her fiery red curls had become looser, less of the tight coils she had worn a couple of years ago. Trying to fix her hair more in the morning took too much time, and she was up much earlier now. Working evenings, and now working mornings, had taken a monstrous toss of her will and energy, but she already was a person of, frankly, monstrous willpower. Not to mention that when she looked in the mirror now, she saw her mother’s own freer, more girlish curls, and she enjoyed the look.

And Edith Bergman would still shake her head at her youngest child’s rash decisions.

The logs were not far away, and neither was the wheelbarrow. With a grunt, she managed to move the firewood into a wheelbarrow, and then went back to find more. In the meantime, she watched the night sky slowly transitioning to morning. She could recognize the slow changes, the deep indigo becoming more of a Prussian Blue, still lit with endless stars. The light from the sun was coming, and she needed to move. Yet she had never quite understood how huge and beautiful a sunrise could be until she had come to Claresholm that first time in 1956. This morning in 1959, it would stretch its long rays into the deep Alberta sky and yawned, brightening the color of everything it saw. Charlotte’s own wild curls might as well have been lit on fire, making a halo fit for a Seraph who had fallen to Earth but who was not sure whether or not she was redeemed or condemned at any given time.

The misty, frigid air did beckon her forward, however, and she answered its call. Soon, everyone would be awake, and if nothing else, she would make sure everyone was warm when they awakened. When she did not have goals put before her, she made them herself. That mentality had helped her at The Raven, and it was helping her now. She always reminded herself that she would have made a great soldier, even as she was shaking the snow out of her curls on the front steps before bringing the firewood.

The house remained dark for the time being, as she started to load the fireplace for the morning. If nothing else, she knew that Miriam’s children would awaken early, and they would need the warmth. Watching them grow reminded her that time was passing, and passing much faster than it had when she was younger. Yet at the same time, she was still young, in the prime of her life, even. And she let her mind think on the direction it had taken, and how she needed to call Rozalin. She had promised that she would call her when the latter had landed back in Chicago. When one of them had started regularly traveling, they had missed each other dearly. Now that both of them had moved, they missed each other more. But they were both living, and that was a mystery they had yet to solve.

For now, the McArthur house in Claresholm would be warm, and the sun would rise over the piney woods yet again. She watched it come up, smiling as she decided she would start the coffee next. Chaim had been worried about the lack of synagogues in rural Canada, but she had assured him that somehow, she would keep her religion. She was sure this was the way she was keeping it, one frosty, sunlit way at a time.
Last edited by Luminesa on Wed May 08, 2024 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Catholic, pro-life, and proud of it. I prefer my debates on religion, politics, and sports with some coffee and a little Aquinas and G.K. CHESTERTON here and there. :3
Unofficial #1 fan of the Who Dat Nation.
"I'm just a singer of simple songs, I'm not a real political man. I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran. But I know Jesus, and I talk to God, and I remember this from when I was young:
faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us...
and the greatest is love."
-Alan Jackson
Help the Ukrainian people, here's some sources!
Help bring home First Nation girls! Now with more ways to help!
Jesus loves all of His children in Eastern Europe - pray for peace.
Pray for Ukraine, Wear Sunflowers In Your Hair

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High Earth
Posts: 341
Founded: Apr 02, 2023
New York Times Democracy

Postby High Earth » Sun Apr 28, 2024 5:18 pm

Threx Takata -Somewhere in Idaho
November 11, 1959

The room this man was inside of was comfortably furnished, if fairly simple. There was a bed, a desk, and a pile of cookware, such as pots and pans in the center of the room, balanced on a scale. Threx had his typewriter out on his desk for this experiment. A gray masquerade-style mask lay next to the machine on the desk. He began to type.

Test 12
Telekinesis Ability
Weight: 22679.6 Grams (50lb)

Threx then turns his icy blue gaze toward the mask laying on his desk. He takes it in his hand and dons the mask, feeling the familier feeling of loss of the ability to speak. He then got up out of his chair, and then turned his masked face toward the mass of iron kitchenware that took up the middle of the room.

He then focused himself, looking toward the pile, he then raised his hand, and focused intensely. The pots and pans began to shake, he stabilized himself, and then the kitchenwares began to float in the air.

After this result was achieved, he set the kitchenware down, and proceeds back to his desk. He resumes typing

Test 12
Telekinesis Ability
Weight: 22679.6 Grams (50lb)
Result: Success, weight was lifted
Last edited by High Earth on Mon Apr 29, 2024 4:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Imagine America, but an asteroid crashed into them in the late 1800s causing the planet to be blanketed in magic.
Combines magic and modern tech into one conservative, hyper-capitalist society.
OOC: I am generally on the right for my political views (I am pro life and proud of it) I am also a Catholic, one time I got into a telegram debate with someone about the existence of God and they gave up after a few exchanges. I see that as a win.

I am a skilled D&D 5E player and character optimizer. I haver made some broken builds in my time.
Generation 0: Copy this into your Sig and add one to the number; social experiment.

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Khan of Spam
Posts: 61334
Founded: Dec 09, 2014
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Wed May 01, 2024 10:47 am

Eternal Summer
November 10th, 1959
Lakeview, Chicago

The phone rang about two hours into Rozalin being home, and she reached for it without much of a thought. She had many more phone calls now. An agent who wanted to book her here, another who wanted to book her elsewhere, sometimes other performers who wanted to talk. She was not sure how many other performers she called friends, not the way she did her old group of friends. Which was all the more reason for her to smile at who had called.


“Is this Rozalin?”

“Is this Charlotte?”


Roz straightened herself on the couch. “Why hello there! I was waiting to hear from you!”

“I forget sometimes I don’t work evenings anymore.”

“Well sometimes I forget if I’m working whole days or just evenings!”

Charlotte snickered. “How was St. Louis? Anselm told me you were exhausted when he called.”

“I was. But not too exhausted to forget that you owe me a phone call.”

“Right, I know.” Charlotte shook her head.

“They’re quite welcoming there, at least on the West End.”

“Good, good. I would hope so.”

“Nothing quite beats home, though.” Roz paused for a moment, looking out the window as she heard the L-train in the distance. “But as long as I stay in the larger cities I’m mostly fine.”

“Ans told me there was an arrest near a place you had performed recently.”

“Oh, yeah. I was in…” Roz’s eyes flicked up as she tried to remember. “Vegas.”

“Ah, well, anyone can get arrested for anything in Vegas.”

“That’s true, and I didn’t look to see what it was. If the rumors are right, it might have been drugs.”

“Lovely.” Charlotte hid some of the worry in her voice, but not all of it. She knew her best friend was traveling more, was taking care of herself more, and was socializing much more than she had when she had been living in Chicago. She had to watch for people with less ideal intentions than herself, and that was a skill she had to learn quickly.

“Anything fun happen over there recently?” Roz inquired, changing the subject. Even hundreds of miles away, she could always tell when her best friend was worried about her safety.

Charlotte’s eyes traveled the room, thinking, and then back to the phone. “Someone got thrown out of Lucky’s not too long ago.” She smirked.

“I’m sure. Not all that different from home, then.”

“Oh it’s definitely different, but Lucky doesn’t take hell from anyone.”

“Kinda like Mr. Rochefort?”

“Definitely. I think they’d make good friends.”

Roz nodded from her end of the phone, and sipped her tea. “Well, what about at the house?”

“Mostly been working. Quite a bit of work to do to keep the farm going.”

Roz looked back to the phone. “And you’re still fine with it?”

“Of course! I’ve worked hard since I was 15.” Charlotte almost sounded offended at the question, but knowing Roz she understood there was no disingenuity in her voice. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Evie said you’d be bored without someone to threaten with your pistol here and there.”

The redheaded woman rolled her eyes. “I don’t have to threaten people to be happy!”

“No, but it definitely assists in your happiness to be able to dominate and tear into criminals, drunkards, and other ne’er do wellers.” When she heard the pause in Charlotte’s voice, Roz got a grin of her own. “Am I right?”

“I do enjoy doing those things, yes, but I don’t need them. Not all the time.”

“But some of the time.”


Roz tried to think over her words, fearing offense. “I’m not saying you made a wrong decision, I think you should go where you’re happy and at peace with yourself. Peace isn’t something either of us have had in a long time.”

“…Claresholm is definitely peaceful. Shockingly so, even.” Charlotte spoke after a couple moments of gazing out the window. The snow was continuing to fall gently, and frost was decorating the windows in a delicate, breakable lace. “And peace is something I need more than power.”

Roz crossed her legs on the couch, and changed the channel. A cooking show was on. “Having power helps with having peace.”

“Now you’re sounding more like me.” The redheaded woman smiled more dotingly. “You’re all grown-up, Roz. Not that you weren’t before, but I’m proud of you. I’m glad I can call you and hear you’ve been to all these places. We used to have the hardest time getting you to go out and socialize.”

“I think I socialize too much these days. And I don’t like a lot of the people I talk to,” Roz admitted.

“That’s understandable. You have to weed out more people, who’s worth your time and who’s not. And that might be three or four people out of the thousands.” She leaned forward and grinned more salaciously. “Any worthwhile men you’ve found?”

Roz plopped her teacup on the coaster in exasperation. “AH! Too many of them!”

“I said worthwhile, honey, not just ‘men’.”

“Hard to tell, honestly. You put a pair of shaved legs in front of them in a pink skirt, and all of a sudden they want to buy you drinks.”

“Because they think the drinks will make them braver, or you more approachable.”

“I don’t want to be more approachable, though. I want them to try harder to know me.”

“That’s my girl!”

Rozalin’s grin bloomed a little more at her friend’s pride. “How’s Frank? I haven’t spoken to him in a while, either.”

“Busy. He doesn’t stop. Little busy bee he is.” The affection in her voice came naturally, even as she knew both of them were tired from a long day.

“How would he feel about you calling him ‘little’?”

“I don’t mean it literally!” As Roz exploded with laughter on the other end, Charlotte held her blush a little and grinned. Her smile then became calmer. “He likes the quiet, the routine, the certainty of the day. But…I worry about him.”

“What’re you worried about?”

Charlotte’s voice got softer, as she did not want him to possibly hear her worrying over him. “He seems like he still carries all of his weight. From Chicago. I don’t know how much…but I know he blames himself for a lot. Or feels he didn’t do enough.”

“It doesn’t help when we continually got screwed by the government in the process,” Roz agreed, “there was a lot that wasn’t done in the scheme of…all that.”

Her friend nodded. “He doesn’t like to talk about it a lot, but you know more than me about that.”

“Imagine you claiming not to know something!” Roz teased.

“Oh goodness, Roz, you know there’s plenty I don’t know. There’s plenty that I can’t say I can do well. And I wish I could really know more.”

“Well I’m sure your phones are tapped, if they weren’t before you went to Claresholm,” the other woman suggested, “so I don’t think we could just…talk about all of it. Not like this. Maybe in person.”


“Which means you and Frank need to come see me in concert one of these days!”

Charlotte’s smile returned. If there was one thing Roz was good at, it was helping to keep her spirits up at moments when she had not been sure of herself. She was sure, she had never been a risk-averse person. But then her rational mind would pester her, would poke her, would irritate her until she had to stop thinking and go do some work. “I’ll have to run it by him, we’d need to find some time off. The thing is, time ‘off’ is a lot more…complicated now than it was three years ago.”

“I know, I know, but it would help to have you in the crowd,” her friend urged. “Every now and then, you have to stop working so you can look at what you’ve grown, right?”

Charlotte nodded. “That’s very true. I’ll suggest it when he’s up for talking about it.”

“Good! It’ll be something to help him feel better about his routine, too. Come home refreshed and happy from a night in Atlantic City!”

“You need to do more shows in Canada.”

“When I can get an agent who will book me up there!” Roz laughed.

Charlotte smirked, and then looked out in the hallway. The family would be looking for her, or at least Frank would be. “Alright, sweetie, I’m going to miss dinner if I don’t head over now. I’ll talk to you when you’ve landed again.”

“Good! I’ll have to tell you about the service over here.”

“My dad’s been to Atlantic City quite a few times, he’ll be glad to hear about it too.”

“Well tell Mr. Schultz I said hi too!”

“I will. Love you, dear.”

“Love you too! See you later.”

They both hung up, in slightly different moods. Rozalin considered going to take a bubble bath, one she had not taken in some time. In reality, the talk of three years ago had brought to mind some things she had wanted to consider for a long time, and she thought a bubble bath and some wine was the safest place for doing that.

Meanwhile, Charlotte stood from the side room, and she turned and looked at the shadows down the hallway. The mix of a cozy home-life and an unexplained melancholy. Frank’s shadow was always in the mix, a joy in her life and a calm to her wild heart even from a short distance. But the side of her that was almost mystical wondered what laid in his soul that kept him from being here. Two years of growing a life with him here in Claresholm, and he still was not willing entirely to pause and to discuss it. Maybe one day, he would. Something in her bones told her it would be soon.

With that hunch in mind, she started out of the room to go meet with everyone else.
Last edited by Luminesa on Wed May 08, 2024 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Segmentia » Tue May 07, 2024 1:39 pm

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November, 1959

Ruth was really starting to wonder what she had done to make God, or fate, or whatever it was, steer her life in such a way that she was seemingly stranded in the north during the cold months. First Chicago, then DC for most of the past three years, and now Philadelphia. Still, it wasn't as bad as Korea had been at times.

The crisp November morning air bit at her face, making her pull her coat tighter around her body and bringing some tears to her eyes as she walked from her suite of rooms at the Ben Franklin Hotel to the Franklin Institute a few blocks away. She was grateful that they had allowed her to set up her little operation there, but there were times she really didn't even know what she was doing.

The Silent Task Force was as shady as a government organization could get, of that she had no doubt, but a part of her just told her to go home and not bother with what happened. How many times had she gone to bat for people out of moral obligation, only for it to lead to a more convoluted situation? ‘Just go home and let the task force fail, they'll call you up when they realize they messed up.’ She had told herself more than once. But that would entail, what, hundreds if not thousands of innocent people dead?

She shook her head as she reached the door that led to her little ‘command center' within the Franklin Institute. She unlocked the door and entered into the blissfully heated hallway. She hung up her coat and headed to her office, flicking on the light as she walked to her desk. If there was one thing that had really been driven home to her as her time as head of the BFLE was that organization was key. Not that there was much to organize at the moment.

Her eyes flicked to the letter from now Director Higgs of the BFLE, offering to step down so that she could resume the leadership of the organization. She had been tempted for a few days after the shock of the Silent Task Force formation, but Higgs was a good man and she wasn't about to take his job away because of typical political maneuvering. She had already stepped over him, and everyone else in the old FBSS when she became the director at all. Over the short few years she had been the director she had come to know Higgs as a man with integrity, who took his job seriously. There had been a degree of personal loyalty there, as a fellow veteran and a strong working bond, but she hadn't wanted a sycophant taking over, if she had she would have recommended Special Agent Fant.

Part of her almost wished she had, now that her personal responsibilities might she her clash with the Silent Task Force, and thus the Federal Government. It had the potential to be a very big headache, even if Eisenhower and MacArthur were supporting her out of view, mostly Eisenhowers doing though. MacArthur was far too trusting if the task force and the shady way things had gone during its official come up through Congress, but Eisenhower had found it odd. He was far more keyed into the politics sides of things than MacArthur, likely from his time and experience as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces and all the politics that had involved. Now she was in a political and legal minefield.

Sighing, Ruth pulled out a stack of dossier folders. Her own little team was just her and Smith for now, and even then she wasn't sure she could count on the so called ‘Shadow man’ on sticking around. He was dedicated, no doubt, but he was weary, and wasn't sure how much of this he could trust. A potentially shady government task force, the extra-dimensional Veil, even with the evidence they had it seemed like a cheesy dime novel plot, in his words.

She didn't exactly disagree, but she had been there to fight the Herald, the first of them anyway, and she didn't much like the idea of more of them. She looked at the painfully thin folder of solid information they had on the Veil and frowned.

Regardless of the Intel they had, she would need a proper team, and she had a few people in mind. She didn't need to, but she flipped open the dossier folder on the top of the pile. She needed no introduction to the man known as Blue Bolt, after all.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Oblivion2 » Tue May 07, 2024 8:07 pm

Reap what you Sow
Clairesholm, Alberta, Canada
November 12th 1959
Frank McArthur (retired)

It was early morning on that southern Alberta prairie and just because the calendar still said it was fall, that didn't mean the snow wasn't settling on her vast, fertile fields. His boots crunched against the fresh snow as he made for the barn, chores didn't stop for snow either, or freezing temperatures. It was still a balmy -8 degrees Celsius, but Frank dressed warm enough: tall, insulated boots, a warm winter coat, long johns under his clothing, and work gloves long since broken in by hours of sweat and labour.

Frank McArthur had stopped being the Blue Bolt the same time he'd retreated from the fallout of the Chicago affair. Or rather, had been asked rather politely to leave the United States and stay out of it for a very, very long time. He hasn't exactly been the strawman for how things had gone, but he'd come close to being it. Many of the more radical ideas on how to get the job done had been his, and no one could really dress down Ruth Hawthorne. Few men could even look the most powerful woman in all the world in the eye, let alone give her shit for something. Last he had heard, she had been chasing down Carter Knight, the slippery little shit.

"Good luck to her." He said to no one in particular. God, maybe. The dark haired Canadian opened the door to the barn and slipped inside, closing it shut against the cold as quickly as possible. He was soon assaulted with honest scents; horse and dairy cow, hay and manure. Despite himself, he smiled. "How are we today?" He asked the assembled animals. He got the usual scattered chorus of sounds; the work horses and milk cows hardly talked to him in particular, they almost seemed to consider Frank to be part of the scenery.

He took his time mucking out the stalls, moving one animal to a free berth to clean out their stall and repeating the process over and over again. He stopped only to pat at his jacket for a pack of cigarettes that wasn't there. Chiding himself momentarily, he got back to work. He'd quit smoking too, shortly after coming back to Canada. This wasn't for anyone but his now longtime girlfriend, Charlotte Schultz. It had started out as a whirlwind affair during his time in Chicago, and when he'd left he'd expected she would have moved on and forgotten all about him. She hadn't. Instead, she'd gotten on a train and come north. For visits at first, but eventually she'd come to stay. For the life of him, Frank couldn't comprehend why she'd dropped her very comfortable life to move out here and play girlfriend to some no account Rancher- and yet it hadn't stopped her anyway.

Mostly she stayed in Calgary, the next closest city about two hours North. But they visited one another with regularity, usually she coming to him and spending time with Frank's sister, brother-in-law, and their ever growing brood of children. Between Meredith and Charlotte, Frank had been convinced to give up smoking for good, and to generally take care of himself despite the dark moods that he found himself in every so often. He'd hoped his time in Chicago might make them better, but they hadn't. If anything Frank was filled with more existential dread than ever before.

These were the thoughts that filled his mind as he absently milked one of the cows- a brown spotted sweetheart everyone on the farm called Agnes. In the 40's, Frank had been one of the few soldiers to find out the truth- Masks were living things and that they existed in some sort of symbiotic relationship with their Silent wearers. That thought plagued him for the next near decade, until the Chicago incident revealed a startling malevolent intelligence behind the Masks. They came from a place called the Veil and things on the other side of it, wanted this planet for their own. So, yeah... It was a pretty straightforward decision, taking the Mask off and never being the Blue Bolt ever again. Never mind all the damage he'd caused in Italy, France, and Japan as part of his service with the First Special Service Force.

But of course... The power of a god was a hard thing to just quit. Frank could still almost taste the electricity, the roar of amperage running through his veins.

You need only take it, Fraaaaanciiiiis.

And then there was him. Frank always felt it was a him rather than an it. What he could never figure out was whether or not the voice was truly the blue-black Oni Mask that granted him his powers, or some buried psychosis that occasionally reared its ugly head.

"Go away." Frank told him. "I'm busy."

You neeeeeed me, Franciiiiis. it hissed at him.

"Can't say that I do." The former Forceman replied dryly, ignoring the slowly elevating rate of his heartbeat.

YOU NEED MY GIFTS!! It thundered at him suddenly, and he could swear he felt a short wave of concussive force come from the hayloft of the barn where he'd stashed the Mask this year.

"Keep it together, old man." He told himself, having grown closer to forty than thirty in the intervening years. He spent the rest of his morning quietly milking the cows, pointedly ignoring the other voice. He couldn't help but feel a little guilty then and there; Charlotte could never understand all of this. He'd maybe never be able to tell her the real reasons he wasn't rushing into marrying her and starting a family together. How could a man as damaged as he be a good father, let alone a good husband?

He looked up to the ceiling and asked God for an answer, for wisdom, for anything. As usual, God was silent. As usual, his Mask or his mind mocked him.

There is no God, Franciiiiis. There is only... Us.
Last edited by Oblivion2 on Tue May 07, 2024 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Wed May 08, 2024 1:08 pm

Rozalin - Leaving on a Jet Plane
November 11th, 1959, 6:00 AM
Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Flying first class every now and then was a great boost to Rozalin’s confidence.

That she could afford flying now, instead of taking a cab or even driving herself places, was a victory in itself. Then she had enough to afford these tickets every now and then, and she could have a comfortable seat to herself. While she was not a worldwide star, she definitely was recognizable, and she preferred for flights to be quiet. As she had gained more income, she had witnessed that space really was a privilege for the wealthy.

But she was fine with this reality. She had enough of living in a crammed space and sitting in crammed spaces. She had long legs, and she could stretch them out. She could wear the bright-pink blouse she had bought in New York, and nobody could say it looked peculiar. She could lie back, and her long, wavy hair could curl and fall over the back. But most of all, she could relax before another packed day.

A stewardess came with a drink, a martini, and put it on the armrest next to her. “Miss Harkner?”

Rozalin sat upright and smiled. She enjoyed the polite accent and the affirmation that came with it. She took the drink and sipped it. “Thank you.”

“And would you like anything to eat on this flight?”

“Eggs, sunny-side up, steak, and coffee, please.”

“No alcohol?” The stewardess almost was shocked.

Rozalin smiled up at her. “That’ll probably be for after the performance tonight, not now.”

“Very well. I’ll be right back in a jiffy, ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

The stewardess hurried away, and Roz gave a long, relaxed sigh. This would be her last gasp of silence that she would be able to enjoy until maybe 2 AM the next morning. She planned to eat well, and to enjoy herself.

She couldn’t tell whether her mother would be jealous or happy.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Mon May 13, 2024 3:16 pm

Charlotte - Shadows of an Old World
November 11th, 1959, Morning
McArthur Residence, Claresholm

Poppies did not grow in either Claresholm or Chicago.

Yet in early November, they were ubiquitous specks of bright-red, on the lapels of people all around the Commonwealth and the United States. When the harvest period was drawing to a close, and the sunset started to set much earlier in the day, the time of remembrance came and floated around the heads of the people who understood its significance. A pause in the day-to-day, knowing the world out of which they had drawn themselves almost fifteen years ago, and the world toward which they continued to hurtle.

Sometime while she had been further in town, maybe a year ago, Charlotte had bought a poppy pin for herself. She was not necessarily new to the significance, and many in Chicago had worn them as well.

The ways she and Frank chose to connect to this world and to any other were always the ones that they chose.

Charlotte’s friends had been shocked, initially, at her desire to go to Claresholm. They had known she had wanted to at least visit, and she had looked wilted when she was asked about whether or not she was planning to go. It was Mr. Rochefort who had finally brought the question to her, when the rumors had gotten around and he wanted to know for certain.

“You’ve been keeping your cards close to your chest for the last year or so,” he had asked, one night after closing.

“Did Anselm tell you?”

“I don’t need to be told, Charlotte, I can smell it in the air. I can see it in your face.”

“So I’m not keeping my cards close to my chest, if you can see right through me.”

“No, that’s the problem. I don’t know if I’m right or if maybe I just should have spoken to you about whatever it was weeks ago.”

“Well…you are right.”

The sweeping, the cleaning, and the closing had continued around them, but she still sipped the mule in her hand and kept her eyes away.

“I don’t like when you don’t make eye contact. Tells me something is wrong.”

She turned her head back to him, and in that moment the words had finally come from her throat.

“I’m going to Canada.”

Mr. Rochefort immediately knew the reason, and he looked around the bar at the rest of the workers. He then had slowly drawn his head back toward her.

“So that’s what you’ve been hiding.”

“It is. I’d…like to have your grace, though, before I make it final.”

“Your grace?” He scoffed. “Charlotte, you’re 33 years old. I’m simply glad you told me before making the decision. But I cannot control your life, if that is what you truly feel like doing. If it is bothering you that much.” He had taken a puff of his cigar. “You’re not often bothered by much, after all.”

She had nodded, and had sipped her drink again. “Whether or not he’s happy with my decision, I don’t think I’ll be able to live with myself if I let the window of opportunity slide by. It’ll close, and then what?”

“Not everyone we fall in love with stays in our lives. I’m sure you know that. It’s the nature of the matter, it’s a difficult thing.”

“Well I’ve never shied from difficult things, and I won’t do that now.”

The fire came back in her voice, and her boss grinned. “That’s more of the you I know.”

He had continued to smoke, and he had also stared out at Anselm. He had looked over with a smile, waiting for the moment at the end of the night when she would come over to explain what had been said.

“You really think fate would draw you away from your friends like that, though?”

“I don’t know, honestly.” Charlotte had shrugged. “Roz went on the road, she’s found her calling. Anselm has Evie. And I just feel…like it’s less fate, and more luck. Every day is a different roll, and a time to see if I land in black or red. But some things are bigger than a day, or a week, or a month. They define the rest of our lives.”

“And you’re willing to put all of that on a roll of the dice?”

She had smirked, and had pounded back her drink. When she had put it back on the counter, she had nodded to him. “I’ve done worse.”

All of the first times played in her head when she started today’s chores. Her first playground fight, when she broke that boy’s nose and got sent home. Her first time working in a factory, when she had pulled her hair into a ponytail and had gotten her gloves dirty putting together firearms. Her first car, which she had crashed outside of an ex’s house. Her first friends outside of school, the two who were now connected less in person and more by telephone and letter. And then her first real kiss, which seemed much blurrier now.

But her first goodbye had been Anselm. She had walked right up and hugged him, and he had figured that something big was coming.

“You’re going to Claresholm?”

She had nodded, and he had hugged her in return.

“Hey, maybe you can drag Frank over to say hello every once in a while.”

“I doubt it.”

“Well, either way, maybe we’ll get a letter out of him.”

“Only if you plan on marrying Evie.”

He had given her a stunned blush, and she had returned it with the impish grin of a satisfied little sister. He had not had words, and instead had stammered something under his breath about a ring.

“Huh? What’s that?”

“Nothing! Not important right now. What’s important is that we make sure you’re properly packed and ready to go live in the Great Snowy North. You’re planning to tell your dad too, huh?”

“This morning. Once I get home.”

That was how both of them had known that this decision had been a complete one. A closed one. She would not have told her dad if it was not a choice she was actively about to make. To pick up the life she had since she was 16, all to roll the dice once more.

“I bet he’ll be looking forward to grandkids.”

She had smacked his shoulder, and he had given a laugh so loud that everyone in the bar had turned to look.

And then, of course, the goodbye at the train.

Anselm had helped to carry everything, as had her father and some of her fellow co-workers.

“Have you informed the McArthur household that you’re bringing the horses, the rider, and the entire pumpkin carriage?” Evie had questioned from behind a suitcase and her lover’s arm. She had a twinkle in her eye, as she always did.

Charlotte had chuckled. “I’ll be meeting with someone at the station. It’ll be fine.”

“Don’t knock Frank over before you actually get to Claresholm,” Anselm had reminded her.

“No promises.”

Chaim, who had now said goodbye to all of his children as they had moved around the country, was doing rather well with the change. He was all smiles, watching the train and smoking a cigar as he enjoyed the cool October morning. Then he had turned his head, just to see someone hurrying headlong into the area. Tall, lanky, and dressed in a sparkling-blue dress under an overcoat, he could only give an encouraging nod and make way for the hurtling figure.


Rozalin had run into Charlotte without much warning, embracing her tightly as soon as she had reached her. Sure, some people had turned to see what the scene had been, but neither of them had cared. As soon as the redheaded woman had known who had put her arms around her, she had hugged her in return.

“Hi, Roz!”

“I hope you didn’t think you’d be able to leave without telling me goodbye, did you?”

“No, I would never. I was hoping you’d be here.”

“I just made it, I’m so sorry. My flight was late.”

“Shhhhhhh.” Charlotte had rocked her, consoling her anxiety. “None of that matters now. It’s all fine.”

The first real friend that Rozalin had ever loved in her adult life, the first person to give her a chance at success, and the first person who waited for her at any opportunity. She was able to succeed now because someone had not counted her out, and that someone had become the somebody’s who had all made their little friendly group. A group, they hoped, would last the space of time and tremendous distance.

“I’m going to miss you so much.”

“I’ll call you, Rosie. And I’m gonna come to your concert. I promise. One of these days, I will.”

The last person to embrace her, of course, was her father. One forgot that even into his late seventies, aging gracefully had kept him a strong, barrel-chested old man, even if he was not the stunning man of his youth. But even as he had handled the idea of his daughter spreading her wings even further quite well, the reality had never settled so hard for Charlotte as when she realized that for the first time, she would also been more than an hour away from her father.

She had squeezed her eyes shut and had buried her face in his chest. She hated to cry in front of others, and she could feel that crying coming.

“You’re allowed to cry, sweetheart. It’s all part of leaving the nest.” He had squeezed her as soon as he had felt the tears falling behind her long curls. He plucked them away from her face, shielding her from the view of others with his broad shoulders.

“I love you, Dad.”

“I love you too, Charlotte. And wherever you land, land proud and high on your perch so all of us can see you.”

She had nodded at his odd, sage wisdom, and then had peeled herself away as the conductor had called her aboard. One more long, heavy, and hopeful roll of the dice, and she would be in Claresholm. Hopefully awaiting someone whom would be a part of the rest of her life, or however long luck determined he would be.

So today she wore the poppy, pinned against her scarf as she worked throughout the day. In the rhythm of the days that came ahead, she grew more certain of her choice. While it was not always an easy one, she was growing into it more and more with the passing days.

And remembrance was what one made it.
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and the greatest is love."
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Oblivion2 » Thu May 16, 2024 4:07 pm

Frank and Charlotte - A Quiet Thunder - a collab between Luminesa and Oblivion2
November 12th, 1959, Early Morning
McArthur Farm, Claresholm

Charlotte had learned quickly that away from Chicago, away from the constant need to tackle chaos, quiet was Frank’s way of communicating.

He had always preferred a routine, and she had learned how to follow it, when she was on the farm and not working in Calgary. Doing so had been the hardest part of adjusting to her new life. Not to mention she was worried about how Frank’s sister and brother-in-law would approve of her presence, when she did appear. She was not a traditional presence, for sure. But if she was good at anything, it was learning on the fly.

Yet she was determined more and more, with the passing of days, to try and solve the puzzle of what was on her lover’s mind. He was not entirely a puzzle, and he had confided many things to her in the past. But as she had appeared in the barn, she knew that other matters had bubbled to the surface as of late.

The smells of a farm were both very unfamiliar and also not. But the scents of Chicago had been far more industrial, when they had reared their ugly heads-there had been no room for cows and chickens to roam and to make themselves at home. She had to get used to the smells, but she was willing to at least try. If nothing else, the cows were too bug-eyed and sweet for her to stay discomforted for long.

But most of all, she had decided to keep her eyes on Frank. She could tell when his mood had darkened, when he was trying to keep those thoughts at bay. Those were the moments when she wanted to be near him the most, to gently tug him from his brooding. “Good morning, sweetie,” she chirped from near the front of the barn.

Frank was still milking the cows as Charlotte made her appearance; her voice pulled him from his dark reverie and brought him back to the here and now. The present was much better than the past, as a rule.

“Good morning to yourself.” He says, gently working Mabel’s udders. Wouldn't be long now before she was done and he could turn his attention to the horses, they would need brushing. “You're not usually out here so early,” the former soldier remarked to his flame-haired lover, “Special occasion? Bad news?” He paused thoughtfully and the only noise was the wicker of the grey-coated mare in the stall to his left. “No, you're worrying about me, aren't you?”

“Old habits die hard, dear.” She walked toward him, watching him finish with the cow from a couple of feet away. “You’ve had a shadow looming over you in the last couple of days. I’m usually rather good at guessing, but I’m not sure what it is.”

“Just… echos of the past.” He says as he finishes up with Mabel. He moves the buckets and the stool aside and pats her on the side. “You did great, old miss. Same time tomorrow.” The cow grunted and moved to her trough to have herself some of the oats Frank had scattered in there to appease her for after her milking.

He picks up the gathered buckets and moves them to the front of the barn before finding the horse brush. “My dreams have been… dark, lately.” He finally says to Charlotte as he begins brushing his sister’s horse down.

“What of?” She knew that his Mask was somewhere, he always had it with him. Even now that he was not using it and fighting, she knew that the gloom around him had to be connected to that strange artifact. There was nothing else to cause him such pain in a place both as alive and as peaceful as his farm.

“Everything, Char.” He says, using her nickname as he pats the Mare’s side, trying to keep his voice level and soothing. More than most animals, horses seemed more sensitive to the moods of the humans around them. Getting agitated around one was a good way to get a hoof to the head.

“Italy, France, Japan…” A significant pause, “Chicago. It comes and goes in phases. It's harder not to remember in the winter- less to do, you know?”

She nodded and kept quiet while he took care of the horse. The mare had a soft, doting, old-world stare, gazing into both nothing and everything at once. The pretty creature could not possibly know what the people near her were discussing, but Charlotte was glad that animals could not understand. They needed their peace.

And Frank needed his.

“Less to do, more of an urge to curl under a blanket and to doze away.” Of course, she knew that was not the life he led. Dozing was a luxury, nowadays. But as she watched his eyes still lost in gloom, she wondered if maybe he needed that luxury every once in a while. “You simply looked as though something had come to haunt you more recently.” She only spoke again once he had made some progress taking care of the horse, not wanting to upset him too much.

“Ask what you mean to ask, Charlotte.” Frank says with a flicker of irritation. They'd been together long enough that he knew when she was trying to lead up to something that she thought would hurt him.

“I had to guess it had something to do either with your Mask or with the government.” Charlotte put her hands on her hips, getting to the business of the matter. Frank was not going to be soft or pleasant during these moods, she had learned that now from being with him for three years. Sometimes, she had to remind herself to be her normal tough self when that happened. It was toughness, not sweet nothings, that he respected when the matter had to do with his emotions. “Those are the only two things I know that can cause you to become so glum. I worry about what has happened with those things, when you draw into yourself like this.”

“Government's left me alone the last two and a half years.” He says with a huff, “And thank Christ for that. Long gone are the days of Frank McArthur the golden boy. I think they're happier with me keeping my head in the sand out here, I know I am.”

He shakes his head, going silent as he runs his fingers through the horse's coal black mane. Eventually he speaks. “It's restless.”

He did not have to say what was restless. She knew. “You’ve managed to bury it for as long as you have. That has probably frustrated it.” She did not know what exactly it might have said to Frank, but she felt her guess was accurate enough. After all, what would a restless being say to being unable to unleash itself after months of sudden activity in 1956? “But you deserve this peace, regardless of whatever it has said.”

“I know.” He says sharply, raising a wicker from the mare. Frank sighed and stepped out of the stall, “I know.” More gently this time. “Doesn't change matters though. I put the damn thing on in Chicago, woke it back up and gave it what it wanted for awhile.” He didn't say that it was also what he wanted. The raw power his mask gave him was an intoxicating prospect at times.

She walked over to him as she saw him leave the stall, and she put a hand on his shoulder. “And that was then. Now, you’re here. I know it doesn’t make everything better or make it all go away. I simply hate to see it take so much from you, three years later.”

“That's part of being a soldier, Char.” He says, setting a hand on her own, squeezing gently. “It never leaves you. Not for a second. Some days are just… better than others.” He shakes his head, like one of the work horses shaking flies on a hot summer day.

“Help me bring the milk inside?”

Seeing him finally respond, she reveled in the small victory and kissed him lightly. “Certainly. And I can help with brushing the other horses as well.”

She walked with him to get the buckets, carefully lifting one to assist. She waited for him, keeping her smile as they prepared to move back out into the cold, out of the warm and comforting barn.

Frank opened the barn doors for Charlotte before gathering the remaining buckets. Seemingly oblivious to the cold wind, he cracked a soft smile. “Beautiful day out.”

She could handle the shivering and the chill as long, as she recalled the magic she felt the first time she was here. It was not difficult, even on a windy day like this. The sky was bright, now gleaming with the colors of a finishing sunrise, and just barely showing some stringy cirrus clouds. The sort of weather that pointed to a snowy day, a windy day, or just a pleasantly icy one. It was a perfect place to release all of one’s fears, at least for a little while. But a little while could be enough, as Charlotte spotted the quiet smile on her lover’s face.

“It honestly is, isn’t it?”
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Segmentia » Sun May 19, 2024 5:42 pm

The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November, 1959

The loud smack of paper on wood jolted Ruth out of her reading, the veteran instinctively standing up and reaching for her mask as she did so. She stopped herself from putting it on, glaring slightly at the shadowy figure standing in the doorway to her office. The man was average height, his build covered by the greatcoat he wore, and the shadows that seemed to cling to him even without his mask on. Ruth sighed and set her mask down, cursing herself for having gotten so used to having a secretary that she hadn’t really been surprised like this for awhile. She had used to grimace when she realized just how absorbed into paperwork she could get, something she had never thought she would allow herself to do, not after all the things she had said about and to the pencil pushing supply officers back in the Army.

“Files for the Silent Task Force.” Lloyd smith said, his voice gravelly, as he pulled out a cigarette and struck a match. “Not much on them other than Anders.”

“And what did you manage to dig up on the general? I heard he was in Korea and the War, but not much else.” Ruth asked as she spread out the stack of folders.

“Not much to mention. No medals, no commendations, limited combat experience. Typical career officer who knew whose ass to kiss and how to sell himself, rear echelon material at best, if I had had any say in it.” Lloyd said, exhaling a cloud of smoke. Ruth frowned at that, opening the folder to the front page.

“So an office politics officer. Not very promising for the leader of a task force like this, to say the least.” She mused, then frowned. “Why exclude me, though? That doesn’t make any sense. Afraid I’ll show him up or something?”

“Because you have a spine and strong morals.” Lloyd interjected into her thoughts, and she looked up at him with a frown and raised eyebrow. Lloyd shrugged. “He’s shady.”

“You think everyone in the government is shady.” Ruth said.

“As if you can blame me.” Lloyd shot back, and Ruth had to agree. He had popped onto her radar as head of the BFLE due to his killings of high ranking Nazi personnel who had been brought over to the US thanks to Operation Paperclip, and they hadn’t even had a suspect until he had paid her a personal visit one night. He hadn’t told her a lot, but enough to sympathize with him. The brutality of the western front, especially in Germany, had been something she and most of the Silents she knew, hadn’t experienced thanks to most of them being sent to the Pacific. She couldn’t imagine the carnage German Silents had wrought upon the Allied forces, without their own real answers to them, but they had still managed to keep pushing on. Statistics were hard to properly visualize.

“No, I suppose I can’t. Anyway, if we’re going to prepare for these Heralds and also keep an eye on the Silent Task Force, we’re going to need a team.” She said, sliding the folders into a desk drawer.

“You will, yes.” Lloyd replied with a nod. Ruth looked at him again and was about to say something when he held up a hand. “I’m just here to help, Ruth. I’m not really a team player, and sure as hell not a leader. This was always going to be your show.”

Ruth frowned again, but it was hard to argue. She was surprisingly blind sometimes to just how large of a shadow she cast, metaphorically, as well as tending to overshadow everyone around her. She just nodded. “Fair enough.”

“I take it you’re going to go see McArthur? Your friend, that is.” Lloyd asked, and Ruth nodded.

“No one else I’d rather have to watch my back. I’ve got a flight up to Canada then driving out to the sticks where he lives. I owe him that much, not a phone call.” Ruth said, sitting down.

“And if he doesn’t want to come back as the majestic Blue Bolt?” Lloyd asked, and Ruth could hear the sarcastic scorn in his voice. It wasn’t that he had any particular scorn for Frank, or even herself really, but Lloyd was a bitter man wrapped in survivors guilt and shell shock, and again she couldn’t blame him.

“Then regular old Frank will do.” Ruth said without hesitation.

“And the Kraut will come with him?”

Ruth took a breath to calm the swift sense of anger at Lloyds tone. “Charlotte, yes. She was a big help in Chicago, and last I heard she had followed Frank into that frozen hellhole he calls home.” She said, giving him a look. The man just shrugged with indifference.

The room was silent for a few moments, the only sound being the ceiling fan, before Ruth stood up, looking at her watch. “I do have a plane to catch though. And you’re off to New York?” She asked, grabbing her coat.

Lloyd reached into his great coat and pulled out the letter Ruth had written. “I’ve got the letter right here, and it’ll be in Rozalin Harkners’ hands before you get back. Hell, from everything you’ve told me about her she’ll probably be setting up shop in Philly before you get back. Enjoy the flight.” He said, turned, and walked away, seemingly vanishing down the corridor. He hadn’t used his silent ability, Ruth knew, the bastard was just sneaky like that when he needed to be.

A few hours later and dressed up, Ruth was trying to catch some sleep aboard a plane as it flew to Calgary airport, where she would then rent a car, but she made a note to at least call Frank before she just showed up at his door.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Mon May 20, 2024 7:48 pm

Rozalin - New York, New York
November 11th, 1959, 7:45 PM
The Village Vanguard, Greenwich Village, NYC

A handful of shows were set for New York over the next couple of days, but Greenwich Village was the place where Roz felt most like she could perform as herself. It was large enough, and famous enough-or notorious enough-to be a well-known area for artists and musicians. She could pass through the streets and see all sorts of colorful characters, not too unlike some parts of Chicago, but here was a place where all of the oddballs and misfits were welcome, and even encouraged. Being a misfit of a rather inconspicuous fashion, Rozalin fit right in.

She had arrived in her blue dress suit and had marched through LaGuardia Airport. Tall, confident, and swift as she moved away from luggage claim and through the swathes of people, she did not care what people said about her as she passed them.

She hauled herself into a cab around 12:45 PM, and allowed herself a quick sigh of relief. Once more, before entering the breach.

“Where to?” The cab driver curled his head around and raised a brow, looking her up and down as he waited for an answer.

She gave the name of her hotel.

He gave her another look up and down, and he frowned. “Hum. The Village? Alright.”

Luckily he said nothing more and gave her the space she wanted. Her and her luggage, and the set she needed to perform tonight.

She hopped out of the cab about forty minutes later, and then took her luggage up into the hotel.

The room was no longer a small, shabby motel room that she would rent for stays on the road. Now she could afford a soft, cushy bed, plenty of space, and the luxury of being near and around stars of more or less stardom. But then, another reason to keep to herself, at least when she could.

She washed her face and changed her clothes, preparing a pile of outfits for her costume changes during her set. She had a slim black dress and matching gloves, almost Audrey-Hepburn-like with the pretty pearls she had brought with them. She had a fur jacket as well, something to protect her against the cold. As she gathered herself, she could hear drunk laughter down the hall. Just past two in the afternoon, and someone was already wasted. She shook her head, and reminded herself to call Charlotte before she headed to her rehearsal.

Roz was much more confident in rehearsals now. She communicated what she wanted to hear, and she walked among the musicians and listened as they played through their parts. Her heels clicked as she kept time, as she practiced her smile and her act for the audience. Then again, it was less of an act now, as this crowd did not see her as much as a curiosity as they saw her as one of them. She was classy and confusing to the common man, she was thoughtful and proud of herself.

And she was no longer performing with her Mask.

She still brought it places, only because she could feel it “complain” when she did not. She did also like the look of it, the glow that it emanated when she looked into the box and saw the Prussian Blue roses along the eyes. But she would not hide behind it to try and craft her artistry. When she sang in practice now, she sang louder and clearer. When she swayed or motioned with the music, it was all her. When she teased or spoke to the audience, they just saw her. And they loved her for it. After all, tonight was a packed crowd.

“You ready?” The saxophonist poked his head in her stage room and raised his brows.

After applying the last of her makeup, Rozalin turned and looked at him. He gave an encouraging nod, and she bobbed her head in return. “Yessir.” She spoke with much more elegance, moved much more ladylike in her slow movements to her feet, and sauntered to the door. Her black dress made her move like ink, and her diamond earrings and pearl necklace glittered and clinked against her midnight hair. She was a dark lady, a soothsayer, a fantasy.

And she moved onto the stage, and gave a broad, glittering smile to her audience. She heard the clapping, the cheers, and the whistles, and she knew that her look was half of the battle won.

“Good evening. I hope all of you are glad and willing to be here this evening. I know I am,” she started, before giving a motion to her band, “but don’t get too comfortable. There’ll be some changes made tonight.”

Teasing her audience, she paused and grinned, before she started into the classic by the same name, one performed by her idol just a year ago. Billie Holiday had left the world in July of this year, and as Rozalin started into the low, earnest, and almost flirtatious song, she understood that time was indeed passing. Healing, even. The world had one less beautiful star, but she would do her best to capture the warmth she had left behind, as well as to capture the words she herself sang now. There would be some changes made indeed.
Last edited by Luminesa on Fri May 24, 2024 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Antimersia » Tue May 21, 2024 1:25 pm

General Abraham Anders
Roosevelt Island
Nov. 15th 1959, midday

General Anders twists the ring on the middle finger of his right hand, using his right thumb. Fidgeting with it as he watches the members of his task force train together. The ring is gold, bearing a square and compass in the shape of a diamond, with the letter ‘G’ in the center. He spins this ring almost absent-mindedly. Something of a nervous tick.

Targets fly through the sky. Clay pigeons set up for target practice as the members of the Task Force hone their skills and abilities. Most importantly, using them in conjunction to maximize their utility. Jermaine’s arm become water. Flowing like a tentacle shaped river. He reaches out and grabs the pigeon in the air, freezing the water of his arm and holding the pigeon in place so Trey is able to shoot it. Having a non offensive power, Trey opts to train with his FN 1910 pistol. Beside this pair, Asnan and Nicholas train as well. Asnan forms an exoskeleton over his hands, launching strikes at Nicholas’ back. His body absorbs the impacts, flowing the kinetic energy into his hands as he launches small piece of scrap metal. The eject from his hands at speeds comparable to bullets. Shattering the clay pigeons just as easily as Trey’s pistol.

It’s clear that their training is going well. Even with a lack of meaningful communication or camaraderie being developed, it is clear that the men know how to use their abilities well. And can use them together with lethal effectiveness. Which is all that Anders truly cares about. The General turns to a young man standing to his right. The man is dressed in black slacks with a white collared shirt and thin black tie. He has small round frame glasses that have a minor crack in the left eye.

“What do you think Mr. Dannenberg?” Anders asked with a hint of pride in his voice. “It’s still early of course, but they are coming along nicely.”

“Still early indeed.” The man replied. “How much research have you done on Mr. Nesbit?”

General Anders’ face contorts with confusion.

“Personally? None at all. But I’ve read his file extensively. Surely you don’t think he’s a Spy, do you Konrad?

“You may address me as Mr. Dannenberg.” Konrad replies with no emotion in his tone. Anders sneers at that. Annoyed that even at his rank a simple engineer could make demands of him. “And anything is possible. I’m told he chose service over prison.”

“Yes that is what his file said. It’s why I didn’t question it. A soviet spy wouldn’t be so careless as to get arrested for possession of narcotics.”

“It is short sighted of you to assume a spy must be Soviet in origin, General.”

“I wouldn’t think the blonde white man would be working with the Chinese.”

“You wear that ring yet fail to see the snow over your skis.” Konrad remarks, gesturing to the ring Anders was fidgetting with earlier.

“I’m not sure what you’re implying.”

“Of course you don’t. But that is why I am here, is it not? Good luck with your training. I will be in touch.” Konrad extends his hand, grabbing Anders’ for an odd handshake where his fingers spread so that two fingers wrap around each side of Anders’ wrist.

“Safe travels Mr. Danneberg.” Anders says with begrudging pleasantness.

“Thank you General. Safe training. These Silents are not easily replaced should one get damaged.” Konrad replies, speaking of the task force as if they were objects rather than human beings. He yells out one final time as he gets rather far away, “I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you.” He yells cryptically as he walks away and out of view. Anders smile politely, not sure if Konrad is being honest. But knowing that a good word from him can go a long way.

“What was that about, sir?” Jermaine asks inquisitively, his mask off as he moves away from the others.

“It does not concern you Walters.” Anders say back with volume and authority.

“With all due respect sir, I overheard you well enough to know you were discussing us. So I believe it specifically does concern me and my fellow Task Force members.” Jermaine replies with timid rigor.

“Are you talking back to a superior officer?” Anders yells. “You are still new so perhaps you don’t quite understand how the military works. I am your commanding officer. When I say something, you are to treat my words like gospel. Maybe you outta learn just what that means. From now on you will write down everything I tell you and put it into your Bible. Your Bible will be checked every evening before lights out. And if there is even a single word missing from what I said that day, you will be out of this Task Force faster than you can beg for forgiveness. Do you understand me?”

“Sir, yessir.” Jermiane replies quietly.

“Good! Now get back to your training before I have you run laps.”

Jermaine runs back to the line, puts his mask back on, and continues to train. Taking turns destroying clay pigeons with Trey. Anders continues to watch. Crossing his arms for a moment. He darts his eyes around. Not really able to focus on what’s happening in front of him. Before long his uncrosses his arm and brings his hands together in front of his chest. Once again, turning his ring.
Last edited by Antimersia on Tue May 21, 2024 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Oblivion2 » Thu May 23, 2024 3:50 pm

Frank McArthur & Ruth Hawthorne
‘Storm Clouds Gather’ - A collab between Oblivion2 and Segmentia
November 13th, 1959, Afternoon
Rick’s Saloon, Claresholm, Alberta, Canada

Claresholm, like many other rural settlements in North America, felt almost like a town out of time. Every building in the small farming town had the old time timber and brick feel to it. All of the residences seemed fairly spread out too, with spacious yards or even acres to keep animals on. All save for the aptly named mainstreet and the two or three streets surrounding which seemed to house ninety percent of the businesses in the little prairie town. The second you got off one of those streets, the gaps became pretty apparent, and the flat land allowed one to see all the way to the neighbouring farmsteads.

It was a little early for drinking, but Rick’s Saloon was the only bar in town, to get any other sort of action you either had to have your own still or a car and some gasoline to head up to the next town or even to Calgary, the big city. It wouldn't have been terribly large to Ruth’s eyes, and the highway she would have had to take south from the Calgary Airport was hardly worth the designation. In many places it seemed little more than a single lane road, occasionally made busy by road crews doing their best to keep the early snows from growing to be too much of a nuisance.

Rick's Saloon itself? It felt like a saloon alright, the only difference was ample heat and electricity, radio and a single television, and a thick door to keep the cold out. Seeing a stranger, a man with thinning grey hair waved from behind the bar, ushering Ruth closer. “Well, good afternoon little lady.” He said in an amiable tone, so common with people from the American Midwest and the Canadian prairies. “Don't think I've seen you around before, I'd sure remember. What can old Rick pour for you?”

Ruth smiled as old Rick spoke, both out of amusement at being called ‘little lady’ and out of general politeness. “Just a coke, please, sir.” She answered in her sweet southern draw, looking around the building. It reminded her of plenty of other places she had been, especially some bbq joints back home and she couldn’t help but smile. She decided to not bring up the fact that she had been around here before, back when she had come to speak to Frank last time, though that had been a drive up from the south and then back down across the border again.

Her eyes settled on the menu that Rick had displayed and she frowned at the memory of the meager inflight meal that the airline had offered. “I’m waiting for a friend, so I ought to order some food I suppose.” She mused, drumming her fingers on the counter. After a moment of looking, she listed off what she would like, with old Rick looking happier with every item she mentioned. She found herself a seat at a corner table and waited, musing over just how the hell she was going to ask Frank to get caught up in yet more BS. She sighed as she sipped at her coke, frowning as she remembered the simpler times when what most people wanted from her was some advertising.

As Ruth was waiting, she'd get the feeling that a few of the Salomon's patrons were watching her. A few threw her the curious glances she'd occasionally get- she was a distinctive woman after all, how could she not attract curiosity? One seemed to be thinking hard about where he's seen her before. Two men, however, radiated the sort of loathing that Ruth only knew too well.

The kind of thing that said, your sort aren't welcome here. Judging by how hard those stares were, it was all too obvious what your sort meant.

It came to a head as her food, a literal platter of food was being delivered. One of the two men intercepted the woman carrying it, an older lady who didn't seem to have the sort of strength to bull past this man while carrying all that food. His friend stood in front of Ruth's table, barely managing to look down at her despite her seated position. “You might wanna think about eatin’ somewheres else, miss.” He put emphasis on the last word, it was clear he meant another word entirely.

Internally Ruth groaned, but externally she just kept on smiling. She had found that doing so tended to piss these types off more than usual. She looked from the man addressing her to the man physically blocking the way of the older woman, then back to the man trying to stand over her. She took another sip of her coke, set down the glass, and then stood up. Ruth knew how big she was, how intimidating her sheer physical presence could be, and as she stood up she towered over both men, and she saw their eyes get a bit wide.

“I don’t know about y’all, but where I’m from we’re taught to treat older ladies with the utmost respect, and I don’t think you fellas are treating that woman very well at all. Now I know this is your town and I’m just a guest, but that offends me mightily.” She said, looking down at the man, eyes narrowing slightly.

“Jacob Buckley.” Old Rick’s voice called out from the bar, “You leave the little lady alone. Like she said, she's a guest here, and I gotta live with your ignorant ass.”

“Shut it Rick.” The man in front of Ruth snarled before turning back to her. “Lookit,” he said with a scoff, pushing past the moment of physical intimidation, “If I says you eat somewhere else, you find somewhere else to eat, Yank. Clairesholm ain't for you and your kind.”

Ruth just kept smiling. “You know, I knew a fair amount of you Canadian boys a little while back. Some of them were just like you, but I humbled them pretty quick.” She said, her smile dropping and her voice losing her friendly southern draw as it became colder. “Now, I’m going to eat here, and if you and your friend have a problem with that, well, I don’t have a problem with humbling you as well.” She said, an almost predatory smile forming on her lips.

Jacob made a move as if to grab her or hit her but came up short as the door opened and a gust of cold wind blew through the saloon. “Sorry Rick.” Came the familiar voice of Frank McArthur, shutting the door behind him. He was clad in farmers wear, blue jeans, boots, flannel jacket and a dark brown cowboy hat. He was taking his jacket off at the door when he saw the scene in front of him.

“Oh, Francis!” Old Rick said, gesturing. “He, she, they-”

Frank waved that aside. “Jacob Buckley, put your hands down before you get yourself hurt.” He sounded exasperated.

“Only one about to get themselves hurt is this N-” the man was cut off by Frank.

“You know Jake, I'm pretty sure you're addled. If you finished that sentence, that lovely mountain of woman there would have fed you your teeth.” He paused for a moment before gesturing, “That's Ruth fuckin’-Hawthorne. Also known as the Titaness, jewel of the allied war effort, sinker of the Yamato, and my personal friend.”

Jacob’s face went pale and he started to stammer something to Ruth before Frank once again cut him off. “Now, like I said, Ruth here would feed you your teeth, and she'd do it with a smile too. Only thing that made her happier than killin’ fascists was beating racists to a pulp. Now that's her being polite. Southern hospitality and all that.”

The Canadian stepped closer, getting between the two now. “Me? I wouldn't stop there. I'd break every bone in your damn hands, so bad you wouldn't be able to use the things like you did- any cold winter's chill that sets into those bones and brings the ache would remind you of me and the thrashing I gave you. Then, I'd burn that pretty little house of yours to the ground and watch you wail in the ashes. Now apologize to the lady.”

“S-sorry, m-ma’am.” He said shakily, not sure whether to be scared more of Ruth and her reputation, or Frank with his pale blue killer’s eyes.

“You’d best apologize to Rick and this poor woman, and then you’d best leave, and I’d better not see you again. Ever. I’ll be in town for two weeks.” Ruth said, smiling sweetly, and waiting for Jacob and his friend to do so and to haul themselves out. Once they were gone, Ruth would look at Frank with an amused grin.

“You look ridiculous in that hat.” She said, sitting down and gesturing for Frank to do the same. “Small town feud?” She asked as he would sit, not unfamiliar with them. There had been plenty of them when she was growing up, and a lot of them had ended badly.

Ruth smiled at the older woman as she set down the food, waiting for her to leave before she picked up a chicken wing and devoured it, closing her eyes in delight.

“Ach…” Frank grunted, taking his hat off and setting it at the end of the table, having himself a seat across from his friend. “Jake Buckley always had more money than sense. His old man was a good enough fellow- he paid for my father’s funeral. I liked him. His brother inherited the family farm, and Jake? Well he's just been throwing his money around like he's big man on campus. Has been since we were in school. He didn't take kindly to my getting the attention he thought was owed him for being born rich. You know the type.”

He scoffed and gestured the woman who had served Ruth her food over with a hand, “A beer for me, if you'd kindly, miss Lucille.” He handed her a few bills and smiled softly. “For my friend’s lunch too.”

“Why thank you, Francis dear.” She said with maternal warmth before heading off to bring Frank a brown bottle of beer with the head of a stag upon it, proudly proclaiming Alexander Keith’s. “You're clearly not in town for the local charm.” Frank said dryly after having a sip. “So, what is it? Heavy lies the crown upon a lonely head? Surprised your mother hasn't moved up to make sure you're eating and keeping your head in straight.”

Ruth scoffed and rolled her eyes. “You’d have better chances of removing a tick that’s been feeding on a deer for ten years than getting my mom to move.” She said, grinning. Her mother had come to visit, of course, but she had her dinner to run and all.

“Besides, I don’t have a crown any more, thank you very much.” She said, giving him a look. She was a bit surprised that he didn’t seem to know, even if he was up here away from the busy life. Ruth knew that Roz talked to Charlotte, and she supposed she had figured it may have been mentioned. There was her ego, rising its head.

“It’s…messy.” She said with a shrug, before eating another wing, gesturing to Frank to help himself.

Frank took out a napkin and laid it out on his right before taking a pair of wings. He ate silently, the wheels already turning in his head. Once one wing was cleanly demolished he set the bones down on the napkin and grabbed another for his fingers. “So what? Advice then? If it's romance or the government, you know I'm mostly useless. I hardly know what language Charlotte is speaking half the time and Ottawa and Washington both would rather forget I existed so…” he gestured to her, “Lay it out for me.”

“Okay, short and sweet. D.C. was setting up a silent task force to investigate and prepare for more Veil and Herald bullshit. I was told I was the natural choice to take on the leadership, so I resigned from the BFLE so that I could be confirmed for the task force by the senate. That…didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen, I wasn’t invited to the task force, and my requests to join were ignored.” Ruth said, laying it out nice and simple.

“Okay, so that's politics.” Frank said with a frustrated grunt. “And what exactly do you think I can do about that? Department of defense is doing what they do best and preparing for the next war, and the Senate is doing what they do best by appointing the person most likely to kiss their asses rather than appointing the best person for the job. So what? That's how things work over there.”

Ruth crossed her arms over her chest. “It’s shady, and not in the usual way. The man in charge of the task force, he was a no-named ass kisser during the war, nothing notable about him. Abraham Anders. I don’t like it.” She shook her head. “So, I’m starting up my own little task force.” She said, wondering how he’d react to that, and the unasked question.

Frank was about to reach for his second chicken wing when the implication drew him short. He dragged that same hand down his face and sighed, “Ruth, I'm retired. Exceedingly retired. Even if I wasn't, what you're asking me to do is to go back to America, a country that kicked me out when I was authorized to do everything I did… and what, potentially engage in vigilantism because you don't like some of the shady shit your government is doing?”

He huffed, shaking his head and then downing about half of the bottle of dark beer. “Look. We've been through the wringer together, more times than I can count. But are you sure this is the play you wanna be making? It's not like anyone is running around and putting people in camps or engaging in Russian style pogroms. Can you really afford to be accused of being the next Carter Knight?” He held up a hand to forestall her, “and no, I know you're nothing like that slimeball. But if you make a move, you know that's the direction the government will take it. They'll smear and slander you to death, anything to delegitimize you. After all you've done for black folk and for Silents, is that really something you wanna risk just because you think the government’s shit stinks? News flash; every government stinks, because people are capable of terrible things. But our governments tend to do the awful things to the other guy, to keep those things from happening to us.”

“At first, no, I was just going to put everything behind me and go home.” Ruth said with a shrug. “But then people started visiting me at random. Eisenhower, a few other old war time friends, and other…parties. They shared the same concerns I did, and worked to nudge me onto the path. But there was one guy in particular, who I’ve been working with since…” Ruth looked around, and the leaned in to speak in a lower tone.

“He’s shown me some convincing evidence that there are some…paperclips involved.” She said, hoping that Frank would have heard of Operation Paperclip and that he would understand the reference. It was all still very classified, and normally she wouldn’t be saying anything like this at all, but well, desperate times and all.

“Oh fuck me…” Frank swore low and angrily under his breath. He knew about Paperclip in its broad strokes, and what he knew about it he didn't like much. Still… he understood the need to use your enemy’s tools at times. Perhaps more than most.

“Ruth…” Frank whispered softly, leaning towards the woman. “If you really want out, this is the time to take that out. You get involved with something like that… government ain't too likely to let it go. We used to be the big secret, remember? What they did to that reporter who nearly broke the story before the unit was deployed? It'd be worse than that, I reckon.”

“That reporter could rip apart tanks with his bare hands either, but I understand what you mean.” Ruth said. “Look, I know its not your country, but I’m not going to let my country, or any country for that matter, rest its defense against the veil shit on anything involving god damn nazis. Hell for I know they could be working towards speeding things up.” Ruth sighed, then sat back.

“I get you’re retired, and probably don’t want to wear the mask again, I really do. But this is something I’m going to do, and I’d feel a lot better if you had my back. Either as regular Frank or the fantastic Blue Bolt.” She said and smiled a little, but then frowned. “Because I’m scared I might start losing control.” She said, tapping her hip where Frank knew she had her mask secured.

That made Frank frown deeply, “What do you mean, losing control?”

“My mask, it’s gotten stronger over the last few years, ever since the Herald fight. But the issues are worse. Getting angrier quicker when it’s on, my telepathy has reduced.” She shrugged. “I’m sure you know the feeling.”

Frank’s brows furrowed tightly, his pale eyes going far away. “You know I do.” Ruth was one of the only people he'd ever confided in about the voice he heard. Whether it was the real voice of his mask or just the cries of his own damaged psyche reaching out for the thing that made him feel powerful, he'd likely never know.

“You're set on this then?” He finally asked, holding her gaze in his own, searching for the answers in her soul. “I can't talk you out of it? No world in which I can appeal to my very closest friend to finally put down her rifle and rest?”

Ruth shrugged. “There probably is, honestly. I’m just as tired of all this as you are, if not more so. But I can’t shake the feeling that it’s going to be bad, and if I sit on my ass it's going to be a lot worse. Besides, as much as I want to go home and let others figure it out, well, the Titaness can’t.” She said with a frown.

“If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine Frank. I know you don’t want to put on the mask again, and I know the US government ran roughshod over you twice, so I’m not going to twist your arm. But it does come with a paycheck.” She said, flashing him one of her signature bright smiles.

“Well good.” He grunts softly, “Because that was going to be one of my conditions if I come with you. I don't want to have to pay for a damn thing, couldn't on a farmer's budget anyway.” He pointed a finger in her direction, “The other one, is a bit more serious. I get veto. If I don't like the way you're going, if I think you're going too far? I can pull the plug. I don't want to live in a world where I have to force you to back down, but I'm prepared to. Just like I'm prepared to jump back into that snake pit you call a country.”

Ruth thought it over for a short moment, but nodded. “Lloyd’s going to love that.” She said sarcastically, but reached her hand across the table. “But he’ll get over it.” She smiled as they shook hands.

“You made me who I am, Ruth.” He tells her as he clasps her much larger hand, never grimacing at her strength. “The day you threw me into the ditch, you made me a better person. Let's see if I can return the favour somehow, eh?”
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Fri May 24, 2024 7:24 am

Frank McArthur & Charlotte Schultz
‘A Fools Errand’ - A collab between Oblivion2 and Luminesa
November 13th, 1959, Afternoon
The McArthur Farm, Claresholm, Alberta, Canada

The rest of Frank's visit with Ruth had been short. His friend had been busy putting away her lunch with gusto and she could tell that Frank’s mind was elsewhere, so she'd let him off the hook with a smile, telling him she'd be staying at the Wild Rose Inn, just across the street. Frank bid her farewell and drove home, his mind turbulent with thoughts.

Ruth’s gut was usually right on for these sort of things. Unlike him, she was just the right sort of paranoid, where he often had to temper what he thought the worst would be, she was often right on the money. Something was afoot.

Yeeeeessssss…. his mask hissed in his mind. Soon, it comes. Soon you find yourself at war… and when you find yourself at war, you shall always find your way to meeeeee…

“Shut up.” Frank breathed out, putting his sister’s car in park in front of the farmhouse. He sat in the seat for a long few moments, staring at the ancestral home of the McArthurs. Six generations it had been in the family, built for a much larger brood. Even with himself and Charlotte in the house, they still didn't fill all of the bedrooms. It was quiet, drafty, and antiquated. But it was home, and he was about to leave it again for America and her ungrateful embrace. He'd told Charlotte exactly why he was headed out when he'd gotten the call. When she saw his face, she'd know almost exactly what Ruth had asked him to do.

They fought occasionally, as almost all couples did. Frank’s anger was usually a quiet, smoldering thing, while Charlotte's was volcanic. He expected this particular fool’s errand would likely see both tempers raised. He got from the car with a sigh and walked towards the house. He opened and shut the door with the alacrity of a man used to keeping the cold from his home before hanging up his hat and jacket, “Char?” He called out for his girlfriend, suspecting she was still in the house. His niece gurgled happily from her mother and father’s room upstairs, while he knew his nephew was out on an excursion with his father. Not the perfect time for a fight to break out, but it could be worse.

Charlotte walked over from the kitchen, holding a cup of coffee for herself and one for Frank. She knew that he would need to be in from the cold quickly, and this was a part of their little routine. But as he had guessed, when she saw his face, she already knew. She exhaled slowly, and nodded. “Alright. So. Let’s put this on the table.” She put the coffee on the table in the living room, and remained standing as she looked at her lover. Her expression wavered between knowing and glum, her hazel eyes focused on reading between the lines. “So. Miss Hawthorne asked you to go back to the States?”

“Yeah.” Frank said softly as he sat down on the couch. He lifted up the mug and sipped softly. “A personal favour, really. Not for the government, but for her. I told her I would. She's going to do something foolish if I let her go through with this on her own.”

A moment of long silence before he says softly. “I need you to stay behind. Be it here or with your father… I can't do what I need to do if I'm worrying about you too.”

Charlotte sipped her coffee as she listened, and she frowned again as she put it on the table. “What sort of personal favor is it? Or…are you not allowed to say?” She knew how that sort of deal was, not being allowed to speak such secrets. She would unpack the second part of his statement after she understood the first.

“She's worried she might cross a line. Thinks I can keep her in check, or stop her if it came to it.” He admits. “Thinks the government is up to something and none of its good. What I've heard makes me agree, so hopefully I'm just along to keep her walking the straight and narrow. When a friend… a soldier asks you for something like that, it's hard to say no.”

Charlotte did not like the sound of the ordeal already. She liked Ruth, she was a hero. She was also a good friend of Frank’s, and always had been one. But government corruption had separated Frank from Charlotte once, and that was a torturous experience. She was sure that her lover did his best to not think about it, but she could never forget how the FBSS had both put Frank in prison and had handcuffed her best friend to the bed, all for reasons they had trumped out of seeming thin air. “And how long are you going to be over there helping her?”

“As long as it takes. But I have veto. I can pull the plug at any point.” He states firmly.

“As long as it takes…” She repeated, and she kept quiet as she thought about his words. She had to sit down, the weight was too much otherwise. An undetermined amount of time away from her. Again.

“And you’re still worried about me being in the way?”

She almost wanted to tease. Something, anything to take away from the bleakness of what was facing her. She wondered sometimes if he knew how much it had taken for her to rush over to Canada to be with him. Now, he was just going away again. This time, even further from his home. The teasing tone did not fall from her lips, and instead she remained melancholy, trying to determine what her heart wanted her to do. To accept, or to fight.

“Charlotte…” he says with an angry sigh, not at her but at himself. “You're not a soldier. You're brave, loyal, but you're reckless, suicidally so at times. I'm going back to America without official sanction and if things get bad, they could try putting me up for treason or some such nonsense. You tell me, and tell me truly, could you manage to do everything that needed to be done with a clear mind if our situations were reversed and I came with you and you were the soldier?”

“That is what I am worried about.” Charlotte spoke up, not angry at him but at the people he might be meeting. The people who were not Ruth. “The last time you were in the States, you did everything right and they found some way to deport you. And then…what about us?” She had to be at least a little selfish. She thought her efforts had warranted it a little. “If you go and do what you’re supposed to do for the good of the United States, and you come back to me, and all of this is happily ever after, then fantastic. I would wait as long as I needed to. But that is such a distance, for a majority of people who I presume won’t treat you the way you should be treated. And if you are imprisoned, or something happens to you and Ruth, God forbid, then what am I to do over here?”

She walked over to his side of the couch, and she sat next to him. Her eyes were earnest, neither fighting nor accepting, but almost pleading. “I would follow you to the ends of the earth to keep you safe, you know that. I’m sure you don’t need me to do that, but I would. But I’m also worried about…you. What if they ask you to use your Mask?” She kept her voice lower now, so as to not frighten his sister upstairs.

“No one is going to ask me to do anything I don't want to do.” He said, keeping his voice calm for Charlotte. “This is Ruth. She knows, okay? She said so long as I came, either as just Frank or Blue Bolt, she'd know she could walk the straight and narrow.”

He reached over and grabbed her hands, squeezing softly. “This is what being with a soldier is like, Char. Sometimes we leave for a long time. Sometimes we don't come back. I just know that if I needed help, Ruth would come for me. I can't not do this for her. And if you can't wait for me here? Go back to Chicago, be with your dad awhile. He’ll keep you busy.”

“I’m sure he would keep me busy, but I’ve got a new job here, and I’ve got a new place in Calgary that I’m paying for. And after almost three years here, I finally feel like I know what I’m doing.” Charlotte was not often someone to admit that she had struggled with anything, but she had definitely fought to make sure both of them were comfortable and happy. “I love it here. I understand it here now. And I love you. And I would like to, at some point, talk about the future. But we can’t do that if you’re in DC, or wherever you’ve been called to now.”

She stared at his determined face. Her mind wanted her to scream, to shout, to slap sense into him. But she knew that expression. Those calm, determined, knowing, bolt-blue eyes. She knew she was not going to change his mind. But she could always put the topic of “the future” on his mind.

“We would obviously have to wait. ‘How long’ is the question that worries me.”

Frank knew what she meant about talking about their future. Marriage. Children. Maybe a place of their own. Things that Frank felt were beyond his grasp, broken and damaged as he was. He didn't answer her, he didn't know how long he'd have to make her wait. He didn't know if he could promise he'd be back. All he knew was a friend needed him, and that he needed to go.

She knew he did not have the answers now, and a lump formed in her throat. She knew they would not have the answers now, and possibly not for a time if he went to the States. She almost felt too selfish for putting such questions on him, but they were real ones. And eventually, they would have an answer. Certainly not today.

She leaned over to kiss his cheek, keeping a strong face. “If it’s what you have to do, then I’m here,” she whispered, allowing the hammer to drop against her heart. Nothing in the world was going to keep Frank from his duty as a friend, as a soldier, and she could only stand by his side. “And I’ll do my best for you.”

“I'm sorry.” He said softly, at least a little ashamed that this had even happened at all. It was something he'd known could happen, that he'd said could happen to her. Now here it was, staring the both of them down.

“I'll be leaving in a few days.” He said after another long pause. “Long enough to tie up some loose ends around the farm. You'll have all that time to scold me, if you want.”

This time, Charlotte leaned in for a deeper kiss. As reality slowly fell over her like a tidal wave, she knew that she needed to accept whatever time she did have left with him. It could be a month, five months, a year, or God knows how long until she would have him again. “I’ll help wherever you need me,” she whispered, holding his cheeks in her hands as she pulled slightly away. Frank would never admit to needing consolation, or encouragement. She knew that very well by now. But she knew when he needed it.

“I'm going to try and make this as short a trip as I can.” That was as close as she was going to get to a promise from him, and as his head spun from her kiss he couldn't help but smile, even just a little. “I was expecting this to be a screaming match.” He admits to her. “What happens now?”

“I know I can be a bit of a loose cannon, honey, but I’m not that much of a terror. Not all the time, anyway.” She had to laugh, and a tear fell down her cheek. She quickly wiped it, but kept smiling. She was glad that at least he had given her something to lean upon. “What happens now is I help you pack and we see where you need to go. That’s all we can do, I suspect.” She turned her sweet, sad smile into more of a grin. “And then later, I’ll remind you why you need to make sure to come home as soon as possible.”

“Why wait?” He asked, catching up on her train of thought. “We can take your car right now if you wanted, find some place quiet…”

“That’s the spirit!” Charlotte grinned even wider, pulling him up off the couch in a moment. She was quite strong when she needed to be. “Wherever you would like, sweetie.” There would be time for crying later. She was bundled enough, and he needed her now. DC, the government, and even Titaness could wait just a little longer.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Mon Jun 03, 2024 8:53 pm

Rozalin - Her Own Act
November 13th, 1959, Night
Pisces, Greenwich Village, NYC

The first time Rozalin had seen drag queens performing in bars had been the first time she had stumbled upon Pisces, a bar right in the center of Christopher Street. Her performance here tonight was not the first time she had been in the bar. She had come here two years prior to look for inspiration, and she had sat near the back, watching other people. She was once again aware of how sheltered she was.

Pisces had a mix of kitsch and glam. The lamps that hung from the ceiling were a soft blue, giving the club the sensation of being underwater. The tables were black granite, round, and spread around just enough to allow for dancing. But Roz had sat in a dark-blue booth, watching as the shadows moved back and forth through the room, trailing along the massive mural of Aphrodite rising from a cloud of seafoam.

Something about the place had reminded Rozalin of home. Maybe it was the fact that the management seemed to be low-key suspicious. Maybe it was the bartender who gave her a wink when she poured Rozalin her Old Fashioned. Maybe the patrons, who seemed to be anywhere between regular straight couples dressed for the evening to hipsters, men in drag, and large groups of girls just having drinks, reminded her of the crowd of The Raven. She had just sighed and had sat by herself.

But seeing the drag performers walking around had been an eye-opening experience. Even with the room’s light dyed blue and purple, she could see their hand-sewn dresses. Their makeup. One of them had a huge wig that was reminiscent of Rita Hayworth in a pinup. One of them looked like Marlene Dietrich. She was almost not sure what to do with the information. Compare and contrast their styles with hers, or just observe and learn from them.

“Did you sew that?” The one dressed as Rita Hayworth seemed to find her and sat right in front of her.

She had just blinked, not expecting a conversation. The Roz from two years ago had looked down at her outfit, which was nowhere nearly as glamorous. Her favorite plaid coat, a black blouse underneath, and jeans. “…My coat?”

“Yeah your coat!”


“Awwww it’s almost kinda cute! It reminds me of a map.” The performer had grinned.

“A map?”

“Yeah, it points from here to there.”

“From here to the trash?” The Marlene performer had leaned her head in, her eyes leery.

“Oh stop!” The Rita performer slapped her arm. “She’s new, she doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“Ow!” The Marlene performer had rubbed her arm. “Geez, you don’t need to hit so hard.”

“Um…I bought this in Chicago.” Roz had been so confused she had barely registered the insult.

“I LOVE Chicago!” The Rita performer had glowed and sipped her margarita. “It’s so much fun. Hannah and I love to go walk along the lake there in the summertime.”

Hannah had just rolled her eyes. “You like to spend all my money in Chicago.”

The other girl had ignored her partner’s comment. “What’s your name, honey?”

“Rozalin. Rozalin Harkner.” Roz smiled at her.

“Oh my gosh, how cute! Is that your stage name?”

“Oh no, my stage name is-”

“Lilac.” Hannah had filled in. “We saw her in Chicago once.”

“Did we?”

“Did you?” Roz had looked stunned.

“Yeah. We stopped in some little place called The Raven. You did pretty good.”

“Thank you.” Roz had blushed and smiled.

Hannah’s expression did not become friendlier. “Why don’t you try to sew your own stuff?”

“…I uh, I don’t always have the time. And I’m not very good at sewing,” the raven-haired woman had explained.

“You can learn! It’s fun once you get the hang of it.” The more chipper performer grinned at her again. “Hannah is just fussy about it because she sewed her entire suit, and my dress. She’s been sewing since she was ten.”

“Seven,” Hannah corrected. “If you never make your own image, you’ll always be imitating other people.”

“…Aren’t you both imitating famous celebrities?” Rozalin asked innocently.

“Sure, because people like to see it. We don’t do that all the time. Do you?”

Rozalin had never asked herself that question before. She had stared down at her clothes, at her store-bought blouse and jeans. At her favorite coat. “I try not to…”

“Well if you ever want to perform here, Rozalin, you’ve gotta have your own act. Otherwise people will just say, ‘Oh she only has one thing she can do,’ or, ‘Oh she’s boring.’ It happens, better for you to learn sooner than later.”

Roz had taken that advice to heart, teaching herself to sew as soon as she had gotten home. With some practice, she had learned how to make shirts and simple dresses in the first year. Her mother had known how to sew, but she had never quite taught her child to do so. Roz had only known how to tie a tie, how to tie a tourniquet, and how to layer her clothing for the brutal Chicago weather. By the next year, however, she was sewing things like her Audrey Hepburn cocktail dress, the blue suit-dress hanging in her dressing room, and the long, glittering, violet gown she was wearing tonight.

Tonight, when she had returned to the Pisces, the crowd had been largely the same sorts, just with different faces. She had scanned the room, hoping to find something, anything that looked familiar.

“Yoohoo! Rozalin!”

Roz had whirled around just in time, catching a skinny young man in a dress-shirt and tie who had run to hug her. She had recognized the voice, even without seeing the person.


“Yes! But you can call me Henry right now, I’m not working right now.” Roz had recognized their voice as the performer who had greeted her as Rita Hayworth. Henry, or Carol, grinned up at her once again, looking over her outfit. “Oh my gosh, look how pretty you look!”

“Thank you. I sewed this.” She had remembered their first conversation, and now as she wore a blue tweed jacket and skirt, it was her turn to grin.

“How cute! Lemme feel it.” Henry had taken a hand to feel the fabric, and nodded their approval. “Very soft, the buttons and seams are even, well-done.”

“Is Hannah here?”

“No, she’s working. But I’m here! Are you performing?”

“I am. I wanted to let her know that I have my own act.”

Henry had nodded knowingly. “Lemme tell you something, Hannah’s only kinda harsh because she’s seen a lot of people fall off. And you looked like you needed a good…tilt.”


“A push. In the right direction.”

“My best friend Charlotte tries to do that all the time.”

“Well I think she succeeded, you’re here again, and this time you’re the star!”

“Thank you.” Roz grinned and nodded. “Hope you enjoy the show.”

“I think I will! I hope you enjoy yourself.”

“Oh,” Roz answered with a puff in her chest, “I think I will.”

Roz was never sure which crowds would accept or deny her, which crowds would say she was enough and which would love her. Occasionally, she wondered if Hannah was right. If she really had her own act, or if she was just another performer. But when she pushed aside the red curtains of Pisces’s stage this evening, she got plenty of claps, cheers, and whistles. Any sort of anxiety drowned in the crowd, and she waved and smiled to everyone as another night of performing was set to begin. Henry clapped for her, along with the many other nameless faces in the crowd.

Her only wish was that Charlotte could see her up here, happy and performing in new places once again.
Last edited by Luminesa on Sat Jun 08, 2024 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us...
and the greatest is love."
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Luminesa » Wed Jun 12, 2024 2:10 pm

Co-Write By Segmentia and Lumi

When Duty Calls Again
November 13th, 1959, 11:30 PM
Pisces, Greenwich Village, New York City

Lloyd exhaled, cigarette smoke mixing with the puff of breath in the mostly still, cold night air. New York City, like most cities, never truly slept, and he felt more at home at night than he did during the day. It lined up with his work better for the most part, and his Masks' abilities.

As usual, he was standing in shadows, only the light glow of his cigarette giving any real indication he was there unless someone was paying very close attention. He took another drag and then brought up his other hand, checking his watch with the soft glow. Should be any minute now.

He dropped the cigarette and snuffed it out under his shoe. Up came the silken scarf around his neck, the midnight black fabric quickly moving on its own and hugging itself to his face, giving him a quick jolt of the sensation of claustrophobia and suffocation before he took a steadying breath. Now he was totally invisible in the shadow, seemingly becoming one with it.

Right on time he heard the click of shoes on the sidewalk, looking to the source of the noise. It only took him a moment to confirm that this was who he was here for. He waited for her to pass before 'speaking', but not revealing himself.

'Rozalin Harkner.' His rough voice in a tone that wasn't a question.

Roz had been in her dressing room, getting out of her costume and back into her civilian clothing. She was going to wear her normal pink suit, but one of the club’s staff members found her just as she was finishing wiping her face.

“Miss Harkner?”

“Yessir?” She was a little peeved that he had interrupted her in the process of decompressing from such a busy performance, but she put a smile and a nod on her face.

“Someone’s looking for you outside. Says it’s important.”

Something in Roz’s chest had dropped. A sort of sixth sense awakened in her, taking her away from the bustle and fun of Pisces. She had stared at him, and then at her tote bag. Her Mask, buried at the bottom of the bag, was almost speaking to her.

“Miss Harkner?”

A pause and a deep breath of confidence. She could only guess what was coming. “Alright.” She threw off her pink jacket, and searched for a different coat. “Give me a minute to change.”

Ten minutes later, she was not out the front door. Instead, she had found her way out the back door. Dressed fully in black, including a black, silk scarf wrapped around her hair, she whirled her head around looking for the figure who had asked for her. But then a voice spoke to her, breaking the confusion, and she turned her heel in the man’s direction. “…Yessir?” She was polite, but firm, in the face of potential danger.

"Don't reach for your mask, I'm not above hitting women." The voice cautioned. Although the voice seemed to come from in front of her, a white envelope seemed to materialize out of the darkness to her left, shocking close, a black gloved hand holding it out from the shadow.

"I've been instructed to tell you to read this." Lloyd said, his tone leaving no room for debate, stern, but not threatening.

The voice that seemed to now jump around the open air startled Rozalin a little, but she kept her eyes on the man in front of her. She knew that if he knew she had a Mask, he most likely had one.

What startled her a little more was the hand that appeared at her left. She pulled away from it, and then carefully peeled the letter from the hand. She gazed down at it, and her eyes widened at the name. “Ruth Hawthorne?…She must want me for some business.”

Lloyd chuckled slightly. "More so you've been...recalled to service, if you accept. The details are in the letter. And yes, I have to make sure you read the entire thing."

The letter itself was in type, though Roz would see various sections crossed out and additions in Ruth's own handwritting. Although it didn't go into too much detail, for secrecy sake Ruth had noted, it was enough to inform Roz of what was being asked of her, though it stressed that she could decline, as Ruth had no authority to force or coerce her.

She took the time to read the letter, but only after she had checked her surroundings. She wanted to make sure that nobody else was looking over her shoulder. When she examined the letter, her brows rose even higher at the details. “Philadelphia?!”

Her life had become complacent with relative normalcy, and Rozalin immediately understood what this meant. If she accepted this task, her current life would fall away from her, and she was about to find herself living once again as a Silent. But Ruth was the person who had asked for her.

With a sigh, she lifted her eyes and looked at the shadowy figure before her. “Has she called anyone else?”

Ruth may have vouched for the person in front of him, but Lloyd didn't know them so he didn't trust him, and with the seeming importance of this endeavor...

"I'm not at liberty to say." He said simply. "Hawthorne can fill you in when, and if, you decide to show up."

Rozalin did not like that answer. She knew who else Ruth might call, and she knew that this man in front of her had to know if he was coming along. But if he was unwilling to speak, with an official letter from Ruth Hawthorne in their midst, either Roz would be going alone or the matter was truly that serious.

She frowned harder, but no amount of frowning could erase the feeling of being called, not suggested, to Philadelphia. “What time am I expected to be there?” she simply asked, her voice marked with resignation and determination.

"End of the month. Ms. Hawthorne knows you're a busy...woman." There was a click of a lighter, an exhale, and the smell of cigarette smoke suddenly in the air, yet Roz would see no light.

"Oh, and make sure you burn that letter. Tonight." The click of shoes on pavement, and just like that the ominous patch of darkness lightened. Halfway down the block, illuminated in the weak streetlamp light, a silhouetted figure walked, the blow of a cigarette in one hand.

By the end of the month. Rozalin had time, but not much. She still had concert dates expected of her, but those would all be moved indefinitely. She sighed. All of this had to be put aside for now. All of it for the mission.

Roz murmured, as she smelled the smoke and knew that she would have to deal with this character again soon. She did not like the way he said “woman”, and suspected him for other reasons anyway. But the truth was in front of her, and it did not care about the messenger.

“Fine. I’ll be in Philadelphia by the end of the week. Even better.”

As she gave her answer, she saw that he was already leaving. A shadow that blended perfectly into the streets, he seemed to just move down the road without a care as to Rozalin’s real answer. Yet the only person who really needed her answer was Ruth, and she would get it.

“End of the week. Well…isn’t this going to be fun.”
Catholic, pro-life, and proud of it. I prefer my debates on religion, politics, and sports with some coffee and a little Aquinas and G.K. CHESTERTON here and there. :3
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