EssJay’s Omake Theatre #2 Part 3

EssJay’s Omake Theatre Presents

SEDUCTION IN PURPLE

Being a Chronicle of Zed the Jumper and her army of Walrus-Men (Probably) – Jump 3: Justice League Dark

Previously: Not Unexpected

“So, Big B, that’s why I’m so awesome,” I finished explaining.

“That makes no sense,” Byakuya Kuchiki, the stiffest man in the Seireitei, said, favoring me with that look that he usually reserved for when I was being a goofball… i.e. most of the time. “You can’t have been born in the 20th century,” he pointed out reasonably. “You were annoying me… I mean… You were making a nuisance of yourself a century before that. And you’re definitely not a human. You’re a Shinigami!” Byakuya looked… well, like he always does. Stoic, uptight, humorless.

“Betcha I can prove it,” I chirped, sticking out my hand.

He looked for a very long moment, brain clearly trying to figure out what my angle was and how it would (inevitably) make him look foolish. We’d been at this a very long time.

Finally, he asked, “How?”

“You have to shake my hand,” I insisted. “That’s what makes the magic work!”

Grudgingly, he took it, his grip large and firm. Nothing happened. I checked my watch, then remembered I didn’t wear one and asked Val, “How much longer?”

“Twenty seven minutes or so… assuming I haven’t lost track over the last eleven decades,” my companion grumbled. He didn’t approve of Byakuya and thought we should be inviting Yachiru or Rukia or one of the other heterosexual female Shinigami. Unfortunately, Yachiru had finally gotten old enough to seduce Kenpachi (Yes, she’s his sword… so what, it’s cute!) and he was learning a whole new realm of swordsmanship and Rukia was with Renji. Plus, Rukia was way too into ice and I’m not that fond of cold for some reason.

It wasn’t like I was having a relationship with Byakuya… sex is… was an uncomfortable subject for me until all my emotional problems went poof when we left Wormiverse behind, but serious relationships and the closeness that came with them still creeped me out. The occasional fling was all I’d had over the last 120 years, and Byakuya would not have been on my list of doable dudes in any case. Man had no sense of humor. Which I guess raises the question of why bring him? That he was brilliant, and clever, and steadfast was part of it… but mostly it was because he really annoyed Val… and that was an excellent reason all on its own! We needed that kind of energy.

As it turned out, it was more like 34 minutes, but Val had been close, so he got a cookie. He glowered at me, then ate the cookie ironically. Byakuya looked around the warehouse into which we’d all been shunted and raised an eyebrow.

“Interesting trick,” was all he said. I mean, he did glower as a comic book fell out of thin air and fluttered onto his head, but he merely allowed it to slide to the floor where it was promptly attacked by several Shiniferrets… I have over two hundred of them… what?! They keep breeding and they don’t die of old age. Everything chewable in the warehouse is securely locked away from them.

Bonus fact: Shiniferrets don’t poop. Sure, they were technically dead, but they were still fuzzy and cute! I have no idea how, exactly, things that aren’t technically alive have babies, but they do! Tiny fuzzy ghost kits! Dawwww.

I rescued the comic book from the ferrets before they could chew it more than a bit and read the cover. “Justice League Dark… #9, July 2012. Huh.” My last comic book was from February 1999… although I had manga from Bleach from past that date… but the last of those were from December of 2011. “Great! I mean, I know the Justice League… and that’s Constantine, Deadman, and Zatanna… but I don’t recognize the other three… unless white stripe guy is Etrigan’s host?” I flipped it open to discover that it was a detailed Jump Tree and not, infact, a comic. Awww…

I read through it… it was only about 16 pages… and hmmmed… “TRAVEL LADY!?” I yelled and she poofed into being behind me, a forcefield causing the cascade of fuzzy bodies to bounce and tumble as they tried to pounce the newcomer… maybe I had too many… naw… That would be impossible.

“Hey, it says here that if I pay four-hundred Choice I can import up to eight of those gits,” I hooked an elbow at where Byakuya and Val were playing Samurai Showdown (I’d bought the video game cabinet in the mortal realm… actually a bunch of them.)

“That’s correct,” the Argent Apparition said.

“But I don’t got eight of them,” I grumbled “I have two! And it cost me two-hundred Choice just to get Byakuya!”

“Yes?” she agreed, arching an eyebrow. “And? Your point is?”

“Paying for friends is weird,” I grumbled, looking down at the floor and scuffing it with my slippers. They were not ferret themed. That would be weird, sticking my feet inside ferrets. Instead, they were rabbit themed, to make it make much more sense when the Shiniferrets attacked them.

She laughed, poking me in the middle of the forehead. “And paying for memories and powers isn’t?”

I paused, looking up at her fingertip and going a little cross-eyed. The ferrets were trying to clamber up my bathrobe. “That’s a good point,” I finally admitted. “Complaint retracted kinda. But I’m curious… can I bank the imports?”

“What do you mean?” she asked, though I was certain she knew exactly what I was asking.

“Well, like… I have that Return thingy,” I pointed to a door marked ‘Returns and Exchanges’ that I hadn’t opened. “If I come back with new friends, can some of them use the remaining six imports?”

She considered, then said, “Sure. But you have to actually come back to use them. No fair just buying them stuff without spending time in the source universe.” That seemed fairish, so I nodded in agreement. “Anything else?” she asked.

“Yeah… Two things. First, do I have to spend a full decade if I use my return?” I’d been wondering about that.

“Technically, no. Each Return Charge is good for ten years, but you can break that up into smaller chunks if you like…” she paused. “But since it takes a considerable amount of power to disconnect and reconnect, you’ll have to agree to spend at least six months in a setting each time we switch the connection… and you can’t revisit a world in the middle of a Jump. Only at the end.” She quirked an eyebrow in a strangely familiar way.

“Does that mean I could spend six months in Bleach and then six months in Worm and then six months in DC-Dark between, say, Jump number nine and Jump ten?” I asked.

“It does, indeed, mean that… at least if you really want to Return to any of those places,” she said with a knowing smirk. “Now, you had a second question?”

I nodded, looking a bit apprehensive. “Okay… this other purchase says I can invite a member of the Justice League Dark to come with us… but I don’t know if any of them are cool or not. Zatanna is lame and Constantine is a dork and Deadman is even more dead than a Hollow… and boring. I dunno who Nightmare Nurse is… but she sounds scary.”

“And?” Silverlady asked, not unkindly.

“Well, I mean…” I hedged, then finally blurted out, “I had tons and tons of points for Bleach so that’s why I bought the chance to recruit someone… but I have nine-hundred fewer points here… and that’s only if I max out the drawbacks and some of them look nasty! What happens if I don’t like any of the members of the Dark Justice League?” I was panting a bit as I ended my verbal outpouring, looking up at her half beseeching, half challenging. And they say I have an attitude problem! I do not! I’m totally good with my attitude! It’s other people who have a problem with it!

She gave me a look that asked, ‘Oh, is that all?’, then explained, “Any unused companion attempt can be refunded and the points redeemed in their original setting.”

Feeling relieved, I grinned, getting back into the enthusiasm of shopping for ludicrous amounts of power. “Oh… coool!” I said, then thought of something. “So… Can I make the picks for my companions? Cause making Byakuya be a Frankenstein’s Monster would be funny!”

“You can…” she said, trying to look stern. “But that’s not a very nice way to treat your friends.”

“Fiiiiiine,” I grumbled. “He’s not really my friend… and he’s going to be boring and pick Magician, I bet.”

“You invited him,” she chided me, shaking her head at my lunacy.

“Only cause Rukia is straight!” I complained.

====LATER====

“I can’t believe you’re a Vampire,” Val sighed, not looking at me.

“Vampires are awesome!” I complained, hanging from the ceiling.

“You just did it for the teeth, didn’t you?” He glared up at me.

“I did not!” I protested. “I did it so I could have a legit reason for gnawing on people!” Of course, the fact that being a Primordial Vampire meant that I needed much less blood (being able to suck the raw magic out of the air… or people who annoyed me) and had pretty much none of the traditional weaknesses of my lesser brethren was also a good reason, but nothing said I had to actually be logical about these things. Plus, it turned out that raw magic was damned tasty!

He facepalmed. “That is not an improvement. And these drawbacks you picked are insane!”

“Are not!” I said, dropping onto his shoulders. “Just highly ill advised!”

“Really?” he said, in his snarkiest tone… which, to be honest, was snarkier than mine was. “You took the one that means people don’t like you, the one that means that the least likable person in DC can summon you to his creeptastic house whenever he wants, the one that makes you massively cranky unless you drink a ton of coffee… those I could see and almost forgive…”

“You don’t have to drink the coffee, you know, you giant weirdo!” I gnawed on his ear, but he ignored that.

“It’s disgusting!” he growled. “It smells horrid and tastes worse!”

“We need to find you a perk that fixes your tastebuds,” I complained. “You and your aversion to coffee, cilantro, onions, and mushrooms!”

“Says the woman who thinks carrots are the work of Satan?” he riposted.

“I don’t like two things,” I pointed out. The only thing we both agreed on was that coconut was kind gross to chew. “You don’t like like fifteen!”

“Whatever… what was I saying?” He’d forgotten again. Even a perfect memory couldn’t keep him on topic sometimes.

“You were bitching about my drawback selection,” I pointed out, then began doodling his forehead with a sharpie.

“Right!” he agreed, then grabbed the pen and lobbed it out of our penthouse apartment and into the night. “But you took the selfish bitch drawback, the you can’t tell a lie drawback, and the one that spells total doom for, like, the entire Universe if you don’t help the JLD stop all the impossible threats they’re supposed to stop!”

“So?” I asked.

“So? You barely leave the couch most days!”

“I’m just resting before the apocalypse,” I pointed out.

He paused, then asked, very quietly. “Zed… what apocalypse?”

Shrugging, I grabbed for the cookies he’d been assiduously keeping away from me. “There’s bound to be one,” I pointed out, pouting as he managed keep the sugary treats out of my grasp once again. “This is DC, after all.”

“Yeah… I read the drawback… the one that says that, ‘if you choose to ignore this warning, all that was, is, and ever could be shall perish…’ and us along with it! Shall Perish, ZED! What are you going to do about that? How, in the name of the Presence was that worth three-hundred Choice!”

“Awww… don’t worry, little buddy,” I said, flipping off his back and landing on the balcony railing. “I have a plan!”

=====MUCH LATER=====

“Zed, why are you throwing garlic at Cain’s severed head?” Byakuya asked. The primordial vampire had broken free of his confinement when Andrew Bennett, hero of the comic series ‘I, Vampire’ and the guy I’d thought might be Etrigan, was killed. Of course, that had probably been a problem back in the original timeline… except that I was here now, and Cain, who was extremely powerful… had the same power set I’d bought here. If I hadn’t spent the last hundred years as a Shinigami blessed with Enhanced Mastery, we might have had a problem.

As it was, I’d ripped the vampire patriarch’s heart out, then waved night night to him as he’d crumpled to the ground. “He looks hungry,” I commented.

“He’s dead,” the former Gotei Captain pointed out.

“Naw… he’s just resting.”

Byakuya growled, tugging the bag of garlic cloves away from me. “I am not going to get into the Parrot Sketch with you!”

“You sound cranky,” I suggested. “Are you pining for the fjords?” I pronounced it with the J very much not silent.

“No! And give the head back to Madame Xanadu so she can keep him from returning!”

I shrugged. “I’m not worried about him returning,” I pointed out.

“No?” he asked, knowing he was going to regret the question. “Why not?”

“Because we have to deal with at least five major story arcs and two cataclysmic crossover events before the editorial staff would dream of bringing a defeated enemy back. Even Batman only has to deal with the Joker two or three times a year and he’s got like… thirty different titles.”

Val walked in then, munching on some dark chocolate and smoking like a chimney, a habit I swear he’d picked up just to annoy me and my heightened sense of smell. “Why is Byakuya banging his head against his sword?”

“The wall’s too weak,” I answered without looking up from where I was painting a model of Solomon Grundy in a Ballerina costume… what, you thought I was using my hands to throw the Garlic? Silly. That’s what Telekinesis is for.

=====MUCH MUCH LATER=====

“GET HER OFF OF MEEEEEEEE,” Spectre howled, running around and flailing wildly as I gnawed on his ankle. He’d turned evil and was trying to trying to destroy the universe. You know, a typical thursday in the DC Universe.

“This is your plan?” Val asked. “You’re going to slaughter anyone who makes you put in any effort, and if you can’t kill them outright, you’re going to chew on them until they get annoyed and go away?”

I burped as Spectre finally fell over, groaning in exhaustion. “Sorry, what did you say?” I asked, “I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my snack screaming.”

Val shuddered, then looked at the Presence’s (DC’s version of God Almighty) Enforcer, the Spirit of Vengeance, and groaned. “You drained the Spectre?! Are you mad!”

“Naw… he didn’t taste that bad.”

“That’s not what I meant! How are you not exploding!?”

“Please,” I commented. “I can use the magic I drain to power my own… that includes the magic that makes me tougher.”

“THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS!” my bestest buddy in four Universes bellowed.

“Eh,” I said, shrugging. “What can I say? I cheat.”

======MUCH MUCH MUCH LATER======

“Oh my god!” I squealed, “PRINCESS AMETHYST!”

That worthy blinked at me, “You know who I am?”

“I HAVE ALL YOUR COMICS!” I squealed again, bouncing up and down in a way that totally didn’t befit an ancient primordial vampire. Before she could ask what I was talking about, I yelled “Don’t move! Wait right there. I’ll be right back!” Note to self, Shunpo on slick floors is unadvisable. Still, thanks to my perfect memory I had the comics in moments and was back out before the fight I’d ignored to go all fangirl could get more out of hand.

“Here!” I said, thrusting them at her and then turning to glare at the demons currently harassing the JLD. “KNOCK IT OFF! If you damage my comic books I’ll eat your eyes!”

One of the demons, a tentacled monstrostiy raised a suckered arm and said, “Ummm… I don’t have eyes.” The others shushed it as I glowered at all of them, letting my spiritual pressure surge over the lot of them. The fact that my Zanpakto had already chopped hundreds of their number to sausage probably helped, though to be fair, the fact that, even two years after fighting the Spectre, I was still vibrating with divine energy probably didn’t hurt… well, it was either the Spectre’s magic or the fifteen gallons of coffee I had every week.

The princess looked at the comics, then at the demons, then down at me, then at the comics. I was bouncing with eagernesss. “Are you certain this is the time?” she asked, sounding nervous.

“Oh, sure. I was just humoring them,” I pointed at the demons. “Holding back. I do that all the time. Best way to train.” The demons flinched at that. Sure, they were horrible, but I’d spent a century fighting Hollows and a decade fighting Paras. What others learned in months I learned in hours. A century has a looot of hours.

She shrugged and flipped the first issue open. The demons began to slink back to their home reality and I pretended not to notice. The rest of the JLD looked confused, eventually gravitating over. I glared at Constantine. “If you get anything on my comics I’ll burn down the House of Secrets… or is it Mystery? Whichever one you live in.” He backed off.

Frankenstein (the monster, not the doctor) asked if he could look and I nodded. The Phantom Stranger was wearing gloves, so he was okay too. All of them seemed very interested.

====STILL A BIT LATER======

“I can’t believe you bit my aunt!” Princess Amethyst complained.

“I only bit her a little bit!” I complained back. “Plus, she is evil!”

“Those comics are clearly based on a different version of… what’s that?” She asked, looking at the dagger that had slid out of her aunt’s limp hand.

“That would be the poisoned dagger designed to strip you of your power and transfer it to her,” Byakuya said from behind the curtain. “Can I come out yet?”

“NO!” The princess yelped, clutching her dress to her bare bosom.

====QUITE A BIT LATER=====

“Are you deliberately trying to annoy the Presence?” Constantine asked.

I looked down from where I was busy trying to pry the gates of Heaven off their hinges. “Not really… but if I do, that’s a bonus, right?”

“And people say I’m trouble,” The british git muttered, grinding out a cigarette on St. Peter’s podium.

=====SLIGHTLY LATER====

“Seee! Told you they’d look amazing!” I elbowed Val as I looked up at my new bedroom doors. They towered nearly to the Warehouse’s ceiling and lit the entire place in a soft, otherworldly glow. The gaps had been filled with the layered feathers of angels who’d pissed me off. They really were pretty. The Gates of Hell hadn’t been nearly that nice… I was thinking of tiling the foyer in them… once I found a sledge hammer that could shatter them. Hey, I was leaving in a few hours… I needed souvenirs!

“Zed? Are you coming to bed?” called the Princess from beyond the doors. I grinned at Val.

“Don’t wait up!”

To Be Continued in: Something Something Public School

Justice League Dark Build [1000 Base + 600 UDS + 1000 Drawbacks=2600]

  • Monster [Free]: It’s not an insult, it’s simply a description. Magic flows in your blood as well, but not in the same way it does a mortal mage. You’re… not quite human – at least, not any more. You’re likely far beyond human in at least some areas and possessed of some unique abilities. You may not be evil, but there’s a pretty good chance a lot of people won’t exactly be eager to be friends with you. There’s also a good chance for you’ve been walking the earth for centuries.
  • Fluency [100/2500/2600]: Magical spells can be a real tongue twister, you know? Luckily for you, that’s not a problem. Whether it’s speaking in ancient Latin, backwards English, or ţ͢h̛̕e̕ ̴̧͡ ̧ş̢̛́͞ ̧ ̛p ̛e ̴̧͡ è̀͜ c̛͟h̀̀͜ ̶̷̡ ǫ̢̨̧̢̛́͟͞͞ ̨̢̨͟͟͞f ̶̷̡̕ ţ̴͡ h ̶̷̡ǫ̢̨͟͞ ̶̷̡s҉ę̸̧̨̢̨̧̀͢͢͟͞ ̧̀̀͜ ̸̨̢̨̨̧̀͟͢͞o ͢ u ̀̀͜ t̛̕͟s ̨̢̨̕͟͞ ì̀͜ ̴̧͡ d ̀̀͜ ę̢̨͟͞ , you’ll never trip over your words or mispronounce a spell. Rather handy to make sure you never summon a demon when you’re trying to wash the Dishes.
  • Potential [200/2300/2600]: Magic is a force of nature, of creation itself, and it is a vast and wondrous source of power. For as long as life has existed, there has been those who attempt to harness it. You are one of the few who managed to do so. Or, rather, you have the potential for doing so. As of now, you have only a rudimentary ability to manipulate magic and even less knowledge of spells. You’re also not exactly the second coming of Merlin, but you have more talent than the next Joe Blow walking down the street. You will need to find a teacher or other source of knowledge if you wish to advance your skill and ability with the arcane.
  • A Blind Man Walks Into A Bar [200/2100/2600]: You’re a very talkative bastard, aren’t you? You bring it out in others, too. Everyone always lets you stall. They seem all too eager to stop their attack, to put off executing you. Whether to gloat over their victory, threaten you with what they’ll do when they win, or simply banter with you, you don’t buy time – they practically hand it out for free.
  • Supernatural Appearance [100/2000/2600]: Something about your appearance is… off. It may be blatant or subtle, but something about your appearance just isn’t normal. You could be inhumanly tall, timelessly beautiful, or instinctually terrifying. Up to you, really, but whatever it is means you’re sure to be noticed if you decide to go for a stroll through town.
  • The Fog of Ages [100/1900/2600]: One of the things that can make a supernaturally long life hard to bear is the gradual loss of memory. Over time, family, friends, and lovers all fade from the mind. Your happiness and sadness, your highs and lows. All that makes a person who they are slowly slips away. For you, that isn’t a problem. Your memory of events from ten-thousand years ago are as sharp as those from ten minutes ago.
  • No Trap Can Hold Me [400/1700/2600] (CID): Well, not for long in any case. No situation is utterly hopeless for you, no prison inescapable, no magic too binding. Every minute your enemies leave you alive, torturing or gloating, is a gamble, and not one likely to pay off. This doesn’t simply apply to physical prisons: trapped in another dimension or adrift at the end of time, there is always a way out and you will always be capable of finding it. Escape is simply a matter of when, not if.
  • The Curse of Immortality [Free Monster]: Well, a curse from the perspective of some. Your opinion may differ on the subject. Whether due to your nature as something inhuman or the effects of some strange magic upon you, you have been rendered ageless and immune to mortal disease. Your natural lifespan is effectively infinite. If you aren’t killed, you’ll walk to the end of time without a wrinkle in in your skin or a single grey hair upon your head and you’ll never so much as catch a cold for as long and you live.
  • Vampire [200/1500/2600]: Well, well, well. You were turned by a vampire, but the curse interacted strangely with you, mutating and evolving into a different strain. This has given you a number of rare abilities, usually only present in very old and powerful members or your kind. But first, we’ll get the basics out of the way. Being a vampire comes with some fairly standard abilities and weaknesses. You can outrun a car, rip humans to shreds, and heal from practically anything that doesn’t destroy your brain or heart. Of course, you can’t do all these things on an empty stomach, and you’ll need to occasionally feed on blood to survive and remain at full strength. You’re also weakened by sunlight; it doesn’t harm you, but it does render you practically human. Now, on to your unique abilities: First, you have complete control over your thirst for blood. You’ll never lose control and drink blood unless you wish to do so. You have fairly extensive shapeshifting, being capable of assuming classical vampiric forms, from wolves, to bats, to clouds of mists and hybrids between them. You can even create clothes with this ability. You also possess the power of telekinesis, capable of casually lifting several grown men and snapping their necks. This same ability allows you to fly by force of will.
  • Primordial [300/1200/2600]: You’re not some common ghoulie. Something about you is greater than others of your kind, enhancing your abilities beyond those of your kind and granting new ones altogether. But that’s not all; this isn’t simply limited to the monstrous forms gained here. Any alt form you assume will be pushed to the absolute apex of their potential. Vampires’ normal abilities are twice again as powerful and their weaknesses are lessened. You are hardly weakened by sunlight and need a fraction of the amount of blood required before. As well, any vampires you create are no longer mere fledglings, beholden by their hunger, but are instead similar in strength and ability to what is described in the Vampire perk above and can easily be created en masse, allowing you to create large armies of powerful vampires in a short amount of time.. But the true strength gained from this is an entirely new ability. You gain the ability to absorb the ambient magic from around you, sucking it right out of the air – or potentially even pulling it directly from the grasp of others attempting to wield it — to drastically enhance your own abilities and weaken anyone else drawing on it. You are even able to channel this stolen magic into your vampiric to enhance their abilities as well.
  • I Cheat [300/900/2600] (CID): The truth about magic is it’s all a great, big, bloody lie. Really, it’s simply telling a lie so great that the universe itself hands you the effect without the cause. What does it matter which dead language you chant in or where you draw your power from? It doesn’t, because when you get down to it… it’s all the same. Your realization of this has given you the skills required to mix and match different forms of magic. From spells to entire magic systems, you can pick them apart and put them back together in whatever form or fashion you want. That’s not all, either. Your grasp of the way magic works lets you make adjustments to spells on the fly. Changing the size, scope, or to some extent, the actual effects of spells is child’s play for you. And this doesn’t only apply to your spells; you have an innate talent for understanding any spells or enchantments you come across, immediately discerning both their purpose. This innate ability to understand the structure of spells also allows you to find their weak points, and most spells, like diamonds, can be shattered if tapped in just the perfect spot.
  • I Am [300/600/2600]: In your time, you have seen things beyond imagining, stared into the heart of the abyss and watched it blink first. Your willpower is enormous, your mind impregnable, and your sense of self inviolable. Nothing that walks upon this world or any other can truly break your mind or shatter your will. Attempts to possess you simply fail – and often backfire, for the things that attempt it can even be trapped within your own mind.
  • A Good Blade [Free Monster]: A fine sword, forged by a master blacksmith and woven with enchantments, it is preternaturally sharp and durable and will never dull or rust.
  • A Team To Call Your Own [400/200/2600]: You may import up to eight companions who each receive a free background and any freebies associated with it. They each receive twice as much as was collectively spent on them and you can continue to spend more CP on them, though this doesn’t increase how many companions you may import. You can instead choose to have them be new people – or otherwise – that you’ll meet while here.
    • Import: Val & Byakuya.
    • JLD Imports Remaining: 6
  • We’re Friends, Right? [200/0/2600]: Maybe you’ve become bros with Deadman, maybe Nightmare Nurse is the girl of your dreams, or maybe you’re best mates with Constan-…pfft! Sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face. Anyway, this will allow you to bring a member of the team along with you when you leave. That is, assuming you can convince them to leave.
    • Princess Amaya!
  • A Right Bastard [+100/1700]: You, uh, probably don’t have many friends. You’re not exactly easy to get along with, see? Nearly everything that comes out of your mouth is either an insult or some snarky dismissal. You don’t necessarily mean the things you say, but it seems to be the only way you’re able to express anything.
  • Open Invitation [+100/1800]: At some point, you accepted John Constantine’s invitation into the House Of Mystery. Doing so gave him a certain degree of power over you. Now, at any time, he – or whoever currently controls the house, or even the house itself – can forcibly recall you to the House. This doesn’t truly force you to stay, but expect to occasionally be pulled into the house at incredibly inopportune moments, as you are snatched away from whatever you were attempting to do and shoved into some new problem.
  • It Helps [+100/1900]: Maybe you’re haunted literally, maybe you’re haunted figuratively, or maybe it’s just a bad habit. One way or another, you’re addicted to some substance, be it alcohol, heroin, or something as common as cigarettes. It doesn’t matter what and it doesn’t matter why, what matters is that you’ll be completely unable to kick the habit and will go into withdrawal if you don’t get your fix.
    • “Coffee’
  • You Should Thank Me [+200/2100]: You really are a selfish cunt, aren’t you? You’re more than willing to sacrifice others to achieve your goals. Your goals may very well be noble, such as saving the world or the one you love, but in your mind, the ends always justify the means. Collateral damage isn’t in your vocabulary and innocence is irrelevant. Oh, sure, you might feel a twinge of guilt about sacrificing that poor guy to prevent your enemy from getting their hands on that dangerous artifact, but you’ll ultimately manage to justify it to yourself. Your companions, at least, are immune to this.
  • Bit Of A Problem [+200/2300]: On some jaunt through a dimension filled with wild and untamed magic, something inside you was irreparably warped. During your time here, you’ll be perfectly incapable of uttering a single lie, and nothing you can possibly do will manage to remove this effect. You can choose not to reply, of course, but you can never intentionally reply with a falsehood.
  • Dark Responsibilities [+300/2600]: The JLD was born in triumph over impossibilities, in defiance of fated doom. And they spent the rest of their existence continuing to do so as one armageddon after another was defeated. Now, however, they will fail. Inevitably, every time, they will fail and the world – and sometimes so much more – will be lost forever. Unless you help them. If you struggle valiantly alongside the team, the chance to prevail will exist. It will never be a sure thing, but it won’t be the absolute impossibility it would be without you there. If you choose to ignore this, all that was, is, and ever could be shall perish – and you along with it.

Val’s Build

  • Guide {Free}: Millennia ago, you were cursed with the gift of eternal life. This could have happened in any number of ways: maybe you happened upon a magical artifact of some kind, maybe you pissed off an ancient god, or perhaps this was a result of your own spell. Regardless, you have spent the time since then helping and guiding untold amounts of people, generation after generation. If this was due to some facet of your curse or simply some inherent altruism, you no longer remember. In your long years, you have honed both your power and your knowledge. And even someone with little talent for magic could acquire respectable skill and power in such large amounts of time.
  • Stranger {Free Guide}: Some strange magic enshrouds your form. If you so wish it, your features shall become… distorted. Nothing truly changes, but onlookers will only be able to recall you as an extremely generic version of your race or species. They would be able to recognize you on sight, but attempting to describe you to someone else would only result in their frustration.
  • Untouched By Time {Free Guide}: Given enough time, all injuries you experience will heal perfectly, refusing to leave behind scars. This doesn’t give you any ability to heal anything you couldn’t before, it just makes sure any healed injuries do not mar your appearance. This also means that — if you age — you’ll damn well age gracefully.
  • Potential {Free for Guide}: Magic is a force of nature, of creation itself, and it is a vast and wondrous source of power. For as long as life has existed, there has been those who attempt to harness it. You are one of the few who managed to do so. Or, rather, you have the potential for doing so. As of now, you have only a rudimentary ability to manipulate magic and even less knowledge of spells. You’re also not exactly the second coming of Merlin, but you have more talent than the next Joe Blow walking down the street. You will need to find a teacher or other source of knowledge if you wish to advance your skill and ability with the arcane.
  • Pandora’s Box {300/800/1100}: The real Pandora’s Box was long believed to be a chest which held within it all the evils of the world and was opened by the eponymous Pandora — because goddammit, you don’t just give someone a box and expect them to not be curious, right? In reality, the box was a portal to an alternate universe, where everything was twisted and villains ruled the earth. In any case, this is not that box. It’s not a box at all, point of fact. This is simply a replica of the real thing, which takes the shape of a human skull – with the addition of a third eye socket in the center of the forehead and the fact that the top of the skull is removable. Instead of leading to an alternate earth, this particular skull simply acts as a doorway to a dimension of endless pure magic. Any attempts at travelling through to this dimension will inevitable fail, but when opened, the magic will flow unceasingly from the skull – at least until it’s closed again. You can use this magical energy for whatever, from powering artifacts or rituals to simply recharging or amplifying your own power. Just so you realize, just because the amount of magic in the other dimension is infinite, the amount that can flow through at once is very much not so. After all, just because you hook a fire hydrant to the ocean doesn’t mean you can instantly flood a city, does it?
  • The Fog of Ages {100/700/1100}: One of the things that can make a supernaturally long life hard to bear is the gradual loss of memory. Over time, family, friends, and lovers all fade from the mind. Your happiness and sadness, your highs and lows. All that makes a person who they are slowly slips away. For you, that isn’t a problem. Your memory of events from ten-thousand years ago are as sharp as those from ten minutes ago.
  • Rod of Asclepius {150/550/1100}: An ancient and potent artifact. This golden rod is imbued with incredibly powerful restorative magic. By simply channeling magic through it, even a novice magician would be able to heal nearly any physical or spiritual malady short of death. It is also bound to you, meaning it can be summoned with a thought.
  • Twin Pistols {Free Guide}: A bit unorthodox, perhaps, but undeniably effective. These m1911s are copies of the pistols wielded by Pandora. Made by Wayne Industries with shock buffers and new polymers to allow reduced recoil and impressive accuracy, these are very well made weapons. But that’s not all, because they’re also enchanted to allow you to channel your magic through them for increased effectiveness.
  • Magical Blood {300/250/1100}: You’re no two-bit magician plying parlor tricks and making pacts with bottom-feeding spirits. In your veins flow the blood of old – the blood that flowed in Atlantis before it sank beneath the waves. Drawing magic is as easy for you as drawing breath, casting spells is no harder than flexing your hand. Not only is your talent impressive, but you also have advanced training in some type of magic. There are any number of magical disciplines and traditions you could have been trained under, from backwards magic, to traditional eastern magic, to some hodgepodge style all your own. Whatever the case, you start off comparable to Zatanna in strength and skill, and have roughly the same potential she has. Given effort and training, you will grow to be one of the most powerful mortal mages alive. Or… you could take shortcuts, make deals and pacts. Take on the boons of outside forces to enhance your innate power. Though this, as I’m sure you can ascertain, would be costly and fraught with great risks. But remember, your power may be grand, but that means the cost of your power is, too, all the more grand.
  • Arcane Expertise {200/50/1100}: You’re very knowledgeable all sorts of things on the spooky side. Off the top of your, you can name two dozen types of spirits, rattle off twice a dozen regional tales of folklore, and identify the minute differences in two magical circle traps that could mean the difference in escaping them and ending up with your soul strewn in the aether. In fact, you’re on of the world’s foremost experts on the arcane. Any number of people or organizations would be willing to pay handsomely to have you on payroll. And that’s not all. This also means it is much easier for you to learn more information of a similar vein, whether in this world or any other, and any intuitive leaps made while studying magic or the like tends to be far more accurate than it otherwise would be.
  • The Curse of Immortality {Free Guide}: Well, a curse from the perspective of some. Your opinion may differ on the subject. Whether due to your nature as something inhuman or the effects of some strange magic upon you, you have been rendered ageless and immune to mortal disease. Your natural lifespan is effectively infinite. If you aren’t killed, you’ll walk to the end of time without a wrinkle in in your skin or a single grey hair upon your head and you’ll never so much as catch a cold for as long and you live.
  • Infinite Cigarettes {50/0/1100}: Well, if you’re going for the “occult detective” look, these will help sell it. Plus, lung cancer probably isn’t a huge worry for you, huh?

Byakuya’s Build

  • Magician {Free}: A real, honest-to-gods wizard. Born with magic in your blood, your power manifested at a young age. From that point on, you were inevitably drawn into the world of magic and quickly found your powers growing. Whether you found a teacher or simply taught yourself, your abilities are potent and will only continue to grow as time passes.
  • Fluency {Free Magician}: Magical spells can be a real tongue twister, you know? Luckily for you, that’s not a problem. Whether it’s speaking in ancient Latin, backwards English, or ţ͢h̛̕e̕ ̴̧͡ ̧ş̢̛́͞ ̧ p ̛e ̴̧͡ è̀͜ c̛͟h̀̀͜ ̶̷̡ ǫ̢̨̧̢̛́͟͞͞ ̨̢̨͟͟͞f ̶̷̡̕ ţ̴͡ h ̶̷̡ǫ̢̨͟͞ ̶̷̡s҉ę̸̧̨̢̨̧̀͢͢͟͞ ̧̀̀͜ ̸̨̢̨̨̧̀͟͢͞o ͢ u ̀̀͜ t̛̕͟s ̨̢̨̕͟͞ ì̀͜ ̴̧͡ d ̀̀͜ ę̢̨͟͞ , you’ll never trip over your words or mispronounce a spell. Rather handy to make sure you never summon a demon when you’re trying to wash the dishes.
  • Meditation {Free Magician}: You know three dozen different ways to meditate, focus, or otherwise quiet the mind. Useful not only for magic, but for long-term mental health. Good to occasionally take time and decompress, y’know?
  • Potential {Free Magician}: Magic is a force of nature, of creation itself, and it is a vast and wondrous source of power. For as long as life has existed, there has been those who attempt to harness it. You are one of the few who managed to do so. Or, rather, you have the potential for doing so. As of now, you have only a rudimentary ability to manipulate magic and even less knowledge of spells. You’re also not exactly the second coming of Merlin, but you have more talent than the next Joe Blow walking down the street. You will need to find a teacher or other source of knowledge if you wish to advance your skill and ability with the arcane.
  • Circles and Symbols {100/1000/1100}: Rather simply, this is knowledge of how to construct various magical symbols. Runes, circles, glyphs, you have an expansive knowledge of them, their uses, and how to modify them. On their own, they don’t have a ton of use besides warding away certain beings, but they are often important parts of other rituals or enchantments.
  • Prodigal Sorcerer {200/800/1100}: Learning spells has never been difficult for you. With nothing more than bare-bones instructions, you can easily piece together what you need to cast a difficult spell. Hell, even just seeing a spell once would be enough for you to recreate it, or come pretty damn close. But your talent extends farther than just learning old spells. You have a natural ability to create new pieces of magic of surprising complexity and potency – the types of rituals spells you’d expect to find in ancient tomes and millennia-old scrolls. There’s a very good chance you could go down in magical history as a genius of the Art.
  • Arcane Expertise {200/600/1100}: You’re very knowledgeable in all sorts of things on the spooky side. Off the top of your, you can name two dozen types of spirits, rattle off twice a dozen regional tales of folklore, and identify the minute differences in two magical circle traps that could mean the difference in escaping them and ending up with your soul strewn in the aether. In fact, you’re on of the world’s foremost experts on the arcane. Any number of people or organizations would be willing to pay handsomely to have you on pay roll. And that’s not all. This also means it is much easier for you to learn more information of a similar vein, whether in this world or any other, and any intuitive leaps made while studying magic or the like tends to be far more accurate than it otherwise would be.
  • The Path of Magic {300/300/1100}: The choice to walk the road of magic is not one to be made lightly. It is fraught with danger and terrible costs… but it is also one of magic and wonder. May just be worth it, yeah? If you wish, you may initiate someone into the world of the arcane. Doing so will awaken their potential to wield magic. How you accomplish this is largely up to you – it could be anything from formally accepting them as your student to a ritualistic sharing of blood. Most people won’t have more than average mystical potential and will require lots of time and effort to see noticeable gains in ability. But given time and proper training, they could still be able to accomplish a great deal. Even a little magic, applied correctly, is a powerful and dangerous thing.
  • Magical Blood {300/0/1100}: You’re no two-bit magician plying parlor tricks and making pacts with bottom-feeding spirits. In your veins flow the blood of old – the blood that flowed in Atlantis before it sank beneath the waves. Drawing magic is as easy for you as drawing breath, casting spells is no harder than flexing your hand. Not only is your talent impressive, but you also have advanced training in some type of magic. There are any number of magical disciplines and traditions you could have been trained under, from backwards magic, to traditional eastern magic, to some hodgepodge style all your own. Whatever the case, you start off comparable to Zatanna in strength and skill, and have roughly the same potential she has. Given effort and training, you will grow to be one of the most powerful mortal mages alive. Or… you could take shortcuts, make deals and pacts. Take on the boons of outside forces to enhance your innate power. Though this, as I’m sure you can ascertain, would be costly and fraught with great risks. But remember, your power may be grand, but that means the cost of your power is, too, all the more grand.
  • Fancy Clothes {Free Magician}: You have an entire wardrobe of impractically flashy or revealing clothes. From extremely tight dresses to over-the-top stage magician uniforms, they’re sure to catch people’s’ eyes. They’re also enchanted to be self-cleaning and self-repairing, of course.

World 77: Honor Harrington – Part 3.04b

CROWN OF STARS, Solace of Manticore Book 2

Part 4: Basilisk on Station, Chapter 2

Previously: Basilisk on Station, Chapter 1

Timestamp: April 2, 1905 PD

“Hey there, stranger,” Solace said as she approached the Manticoran Embassy in Maytag, capital of the Republic of Erewhon. She was addressing the young man standing guard in full Manti Marine Kit. It was a credit to his training that his only reaction was a widening of the eyes and a firming of the set of his jaw. Or at least that was his only external reaction. To an empath, his shock at seeing her, and shock at how she looked, even so many months after her accident, was as easy to read as if he’d been holding up a sign.

“Ma’am,” he said, snapping to attention as she approached the heavy plasteel gates. “I was unaware you were…” He trailed off, then cleared his throat. “Welcome to Manticore House, Captain Smythe. Is the Ambassador expecting you?”

Solace grinned, draping her arm over the younger Marine’s shoulder and Naomi flowed down that arm and onto the Gryphon-born, stealing his hat and chittering playfully. “Duty, Duty, Duty… of course he’s not expecting me. Why… my duty station is twenty-something light-years away. I’m being terribly naughty,” she teased.

Her younger brother glowered at her and ahemed, “May I please have my cap back, Captain?”

“You’ll have to take that up with Naomi,” she said airly, uncertain if Duty had been informed of her mission or not. She knew the Ambassador knew it, since she would be rather publicly stepping on his toes, but that was the nature of international politics.

Erewhon was a strange place, a star nation started by four criminal families as a haven for money laundering, it had evolved into one of the most honorbound cultures in the human sphere, a place where one’s word was her bond… or else. It was a place of rampant intrigue and very few lawyers, a place where rules were mere suggestions, but traditions were more iron-clad than laws. To this day, the Fuentes, Hall, Havlicek, and Imbesi families owned 54% of the Erewhonese economy either directly or through family alliances, and the four families were the de facto government of the nation, with its President being little more than a figurehead who didn’t even get a say in who the members of the cabinet were. It was as pure an oligarchy as existed in known space.

“Why are you here, Sandy,” he asked, sounding aggrieved and radiating genuine curiosity. Ah… so he didn’t know.

“I decided my people could use a little shore leave after all that hard work getting Bessy in fighting trim, and I wanted to do a little horse-trading,” she shrugged. Knowing that there were directional mikes trained on every exposed surface of Manticore House every second of every day, she leaned in and whispered into his ear, “Erewhon gets most of its ships through backroom deals with Technodyne of Yildun. Minerva wants a piece of that pie… or, you know… all of it.”

He pushed her away, aghast. “You can’t be serious! Th… that’s… oh… hmm… This expansion is backed by the Temple?” he asked, catching on. They’d both been trained in operation security from childhood by the same parents and he knew very well that they were being spied on. If she was saying it where it could be heard, it was just a cover story.

She grinned and slapped his back. “Yes, brother mine, you’ll get your share… or rather, your dividends. Now call Ambassador Carson and tell him I stopped by with a pouch from Admiral Brubaker.”

“You brought an SD on a courier run?”

“Hey, what good is outranking a Courier Captain if you can’t bend a few rules?”

======

“And then I said,” Solace explained, gesturing with her champaign flute, “What good is outranking a Courier Captain if you can’t bend a few rules?”

Jack Fuentes, heir apparent to the Fuentes family, laughed and shook his head. “You Manties have a reputation for being so serious… what makes you so different, Captain?”

“Wealth?” she asked-and-answered, then shrugged. “No. Probably not. I’m a realist, Mr. Fuentes. War might be good business in the short run, but in the long run, business is good business. Trade makes or breaks peace.”

“Then why don’t you trade with Haven?” Walter Imbesi, head of the Imbesi family, the only one of the four families that wasn’t part of the ruling triumvirate, asked.

“Oh. We do. Manticore trades with everyone… but the People’s Republic doesn’t produce enough to trade back. Too much of their money goes into keeping too many of their people unproductive. Negative balance of trade.” She shrugged, mentally cursing the lingering stiffness of injury. “If they’d just spend less on their fleet and more on public works? Maybe things would be different.”

“People are lazy,” Admiral McAvoy said. “They won’t work if they can get money for nothing.”

Solace considered, then shook her head. “Maybe some are… but not most. The dole isn’t really the problem. Jewel has a minimum basic income… but its pegged to their poverty index and barely enough to keep yourself out of it.”

“Jewel also requires concerted effort to stay on the MBI,” Walter asked.

Solace nodded, “It does, Mr. Imbesi. That was my point. The dole isn’t really the problem… it’s how it’s handled that the problem.” She took a drink, realized her glass was empty, then snagged the one being held out by Jack Fuentes. “In Jewel, you have to be willing to help out, to either volunteer or demonstrate that you’re too busy or too ill to earn your income. Young parents, home makers, the elderly… it helps them, and those who really can’t work, and it’s not like all that money doesn’t go back into the economy pretty quickly anyway.”

She took another drink, then smiled wanly. “I know Haven. Believe me. I know the crushing poverty. Many of them world love to work… but there aren’t the jobs. THere isn’t the community support. There’s no planning at any level of government to get people to do more than the bare minimum… and then the people are repeatedly pushed down whenever they try to organize.”

“What?” Imbesi asked. “Why?”

“Because the Harris Government sees any dolist action as potential terrorism. And as a result, that’s all he gets. They think that raising the dole instead of working to get people off the dole is a better way to spend money, and since their tax structure is a mess?” She shrugged. “But you good people know all this.” She smiled at the avuncular Imbesi. “I think you’re just trying to get me drunk so you can get the best possible deal out of me.”

“We haven’t even agreed to allowing your wife to build her new factories,” Alessandra Havlicek, the senior member of the triarchy and matriarch of her clan, said, frowning.

“Oh. We’re not married… Just partners,” Solace explained, laughing at her own wordplay. “But you will. The deal is too good.”

“This deal of yours will mean commiting Erewhon to war with Haven,” Imbesi snapped. “There is no reason for us to get involved in your war. Little chance for profit and much chance for disaster. A quarter million new jobs is small recompense for facing outright invasion!”

“Don’t be such a reactionary, Walter,” Thomas Hall, the youngest of the triumvirate, said. “Let the woman speak.”

“No no,” Solace said, waving the hand that wasn’t holding the glass in dismissal. “Walter is right… or would be, if you could count on Haven respecting your neutrality. How certain of that are you?”

“They’ve respected Jewelian neutrality.” Walter pointed out.

“So far,” Solace agreed. “So far. But the alliance isn’t asking you to commit forces. Merely allow us basing rights. Just in case the Havenites decide that Erewhon should join all the other independants they’ve swallowed up over the last century.”

Thomas frowned, then asked. “Just basing rights? And exchange we get, what?”

“Oh no…” Solace frowned, looking a little tipsy. “This isn’t some quid pro-quo. The Ambassador would have to negotiate the terms of the basing rights. I’m just trying to do a little… what do you call it?”

“Side business,” Alessandra said, voice gruff with age and cynicism.

Solace smiled, pointing a finger gun at the matriarch. “That’s it. Side business. Having a Manticoran base in Erewhon would make New Temple sooo much more sanguine about the security of any Andros-Brandyne factories and employees in the Erewhon system.”

“And they’d be willing to help us bolster our own security?” Fuentes asked.

“That would be a little harder. Most of our military technology is reserved for full Alliance members… but we could provide you with battle cruisers just like those being provided by Khan Industries to Frontier Fleet… but with 72% of the crew requirements and current generation Andermani armor. Those could be coming off our mobile yards in as little as six months… and within eighteen months we could be bringing you your first home built DNs or even SDs.”

“For how much?”

Solace grinned. When the mark asked that question, the deal was all but done.

======

“Thank you for having me aboard your ship, Captain,” the Erwhonian spy said, taking in the bridge. Oksana Strigoi was, officially, a Commander in the ESN, the Erewhonian System Navy. Unofficially, she was a spy for the government.

“Of course, Commander. It’s my pleasure to do this little wargame with your fleet,” Solace said, knowing that the Commander was as aware that Solace knew who and what she was as she was aware that the Commander was aware. “Your Dreadnaughts are one of the three reasons my government is so keen to bring you in on our side.” It was a lie, but a political one.

Erewhon had eight elderly Nationalist class Solarian built DNs and two of the newer (but still fairly antiquated) Progress class SDs. Granted, that was much more than any of the other space navies between the Phoenix Cluster and Manticore… hell, Grayson currently had effectively no space navy at all after the disaster of the First Battle of Yeltsin, and most of the other members of the Alliance had only cruisers… but then, they didn’t have nearly as much to defend as Erewhon did.

In addition to the system, the Erewhon Navy also protected its Junction, a four terminus complex tied for third in most termini of any junction known. The Terra Haute Terminus connected to Phoenix, which linked to Manticore via the Hennessy terminus of the Manticore Junction. The Joshua and Sasebo Termini connected to various parts of the Solarian League. Between Joshua, Sasebo, and Beowulf, the Manticore and Erewhon Junctions covered and connected most of the Solarian League, meaning that if Manticore was a prize, then Erewhon was too.

“You’re too kind, Captain,” the Commander said, looking out at the four ships of Commodore Chapman’s Terminus Defense Force. The Commodore was young, but experienced, and had been handpicked by the Erewhonian CNO, McAvoy, to command the OpForce. His command was three Dreadnoughts and an SD as his command ship, all against HMS Basilisk. “Do you really think you can handle this? Perhaps it’s a bit unfair?”

Solace grinned and patted the woman’s shoulder. “Yeah… but it would be insulting to crush all ten of your ships with just one of mine.”

Commander Strigoi blinked, then laughed, deciding that Solace was joking. Eight hours later, she wasn’t laughing. “How…”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“That was… that was FTL, wasn’t it.”

Solace, who’d been instructed on what technology she could and could not demonstrate to their potential allies, grinned. “Maybe our sensors are just very very good.”

Strigoi frowned. “And the speed? How can an SD accelerate this fast?”

“We had some help,” Solace said with another shrug. “The details are available, of course… but only to members of-”

The spy nodded. “Of the Alliance. Yes. I understand. I’ll relay this to my superiors.”

Solace nodded back and was about to respond when her comms officer announced. “Captain, incoming flash relay from Manticore House.” She frowned… there hadn’t been any traffic into the system for Manticore today. Why would the Ambassador send her an FTL communication in an unsecured system.

“I’ll take it in my office… Commander, if you’ll excuse me? Mr. Chatterjee will see you to your pinace.” She stepped off her bridge and, pressing a button on her desk, said “Go ahead comms.”

The message turned out to be one from Solange McQuarry. It had taken two solid months to get to her, and burned at least three links making certain that the message wasn’t intercepted. Translated, it was a report of two high level Havenite military functions called ‘Operation Perseus’ and ‘Operation Guillotine’. Neither report was complete, but the outlines were bad enough. The first, Perseus’ was a series of provocations against the Alliance, with five different variations designed to either weaken Manticore and its partners or push them into declaring war first. The analysis said that Harris had not, at the time of sending, signed off on any, but that it was most likely he’d go for the least risky plan, and use Perseus as a distraction for the real prize.

That prize was, of course, Guillotine, the sudden, unprovoked, and overwhelming movement in force of elements of the People’s Navy against the Kingdom of Jewel. That had already been signed off on… the estimated go date was in just eight days.

Solace cursed, running through the math in her mind. Erewhon to Terra Haute, real space to Hennessey, Hennessey to Manticore, Manticore to Gregor B, real space to Weissen, Weissen to Jewel. Or she could send a courier from Erewhon to Atropos. Six of one, half a dozen of the either. If they cut every safety margin and made every transition perfectly, it the advanced warning would come at most twenty hours ahead of the fleet…

Next: Crown of Stars – Part 4, Chapter 3

If you like what I do, please consider supporting me on Patreon. I’d especially like to thank Deltoren, Parzival, and bearblue, but all of you who read my work and comment are wonderful. Really.

I also have an original Novel (it’s space opera) on hiatus here. Please check it out. Let me know if I should create a Blog for it too. I also have begun a series of smaller jump-threads called EssJay’s Omake Theatre. The first, Big Box Isekai is about a Warehouse Store that’s reborn in another world. The second, Zed & The Walrus-Men, is a more lighthearted look at what might have been if I’d been made a jumper at age sixteen.