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When We Dead Awaken

09 Mar 2005 19:11 #400 by brantley
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Hmmm -- nothing new from CK or Argonaut or anybody....

Maybe it will help if I promise that the completed round-robin story will have a place at The Bright Empire.

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09 Mar 2005 21:17 #402 by argonaut
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I've been kind of busy lately ... trying to master Fourier series, among other things ... :?

BUT -- with spring break coming up, I do plan to submit my "Chapter II.5" (and maybe make a deposit to the Storybank as well).

Don't bug CK -- he's done his part! It's up to one of the other two hundred and sixty-whatever members to pick up the ball ...

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09 Mar 2005 23:28 #403 by YAGS
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Don't bug CK -- he's done his part! It's up to one of the other two hundred and sixty-whatever members to pick up the ball ...


Don't look at me. Even if I did have ideas for this specific story, I wouldn't have time to work on it. I'm pretty new to fictional writing in general, and I'm already writing 3 other stories at once. At least I've got ideas for what to write with those. So if you want to see me submit my first ubergirl story in time for the SGI Workshop 1.3 deadline, I'll have to stay out of this one, for now.

Maybe in a few months, I'll see how far this story has gotten and try my hand at continuing it, if I can come up with any ideas. Just not right now.

YAGS

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12 Mar 2005 03:49 #410 by ck
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I'm not opposed to doing a direct follow on submission, just my paranoia about railroading the story towards my preferences would understandably increase, and the whole point an interactive story is multiple authors providing multiple viewpoints.

CK

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12 Mar 2005 18:49 #411 by brantley
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Well, if nobody else steps in, I guess you can still be Mr. Choo Choo and write Chapter 4 while Argonaut writes Chapter 2.5.

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13 Mar 2005 20:23 #416 by argonaut
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Submitted for your approval: Chapter II.1 of "When We Dead Awaken."

This chapter takes places hours after Brantley's Chapter II, and weeks or months before CK's Chapter III.

I'm calling it Chapter II.1 in case other contributors would like to fill the gap between Chapters II and III with Chapters II.2, II.3, etc.

It's all talk and no action -- and Caramel Fox is off-stage throughout -- but I hope I've provided some springboards for future contributors.

Without further ado ...


The dark-haired man sat at his desk, sipping cold coffee from a styrofoam cup. Files and dossiers -- all demanding his immediate attention -- were stacked by his left elbow, but for the past fifteen minutes he had been staring at a single sheet of paper positioned neatly in the center of the desktop.

"SUBJECT: Caramel Fox," was written at the top of the sheet.

The rest of the page was blank.

"REAL NAME ... TIMELINE ... PERSONAL HISTORY ... KNOWN ALLIES / GROUP AFFILIATION ... NATURE AND ORIGIN OF POWERS ..." Except for a name whose authenticity he doubted, absolutely nothing was known of the young woman whom he had rescued the previous afternoon. She was tabula rasa -- a blank slate.

He frowned, remembering the fear in her eyes -- constantly darting back and forth, never meeting his own. Instead of feeling relief at her rescue, she appeared to think it was a cruel deception on the part of her tormentors, intended to make the next round of pain and humiliation seem all the more acute. As Janet, the Center's head psychologist, had conducted the trembling young woman out of his office and toward the dormitory wing, the man wondered whether in rescuing Caramel Fox he had merely replaced one kind of torment with another.

That's when he had sent for Arda Gand.

Arda Gand was a third-generation Legionnaire whose forebears included Mon-El and Saturn Girl -- and who had inherited the powers of both. An experienced superheroine and a skilled telepath, she was uniquely qualified to serve as a consultant on the Center's more difficult cases. And the year she had endured in Darkseid's dungeons had given her a very personal interest in the Center's mission.

The man drank the last of the coffee and turned to drop the empty cup in a wastebasket. There was a tap at the door.

"Good morning, Steve."

Arda Gand -- a tall, strikingly attractive blonde wearing an outfit similar to her grandmother's Saturn Girl costume -- stood in the doorway.

"Ah, good morning, Arda." The man rose and extended his hand. "Thank you for coming." He gestured at a chair and they both sat down. "So ... how are things in the thirty-first century?"

"Fairly quiet -- though of course I can only speak for my own timeline. But I've got to be getting back soon. There are rumors that the Emerald Empress is recruiting a new Fatal Five."

The man nodded. So much for small talk, he thought. "So what can you tell me about our mystery woman?"

"Very little, I'm afraid," Arda Gand replied. "Whoever did the mindwipe was very thorough and covered their tracks very carefully. This girl's mind is a labyrinth of firewalls. I could penetrate them easily enough, but not without doing irreparable damage to her psyche."

The man looked down at the sheet of paper on his desk. A wave of hopelessness threatened to engulf him as he contemplated the blank spaces.

"But I can tell you this much," Arda Gand continued. "Whoever she is, whatever timeline she comes from, she's a dedicated and experienced superheroine. That's so fundamental to her self-concept -- so inextricably woven into her psyche -- that not even these bastards could wipe it from her mind. There's a thought that keeps running like a bass line through all her fear and confusion -- I'm supposed to be helping others ... even though the only 'others' she can remember do nothing but torture and humiliate her."

Arda Gand paused. She knew what had driven the man to make this his life's work -- and it didn't take a telepath to know what he was thinking right now. "You're right," she said gently. "Karen was like that, too."

The man cleared his throat. "So what now?" he asked. "What can we do for her?"

Arda Gand leaned forward and put her hand over his. "I know you want to make things better right away," she said. "But believe me, this won't be a quick fix. She will recover her memories, she will be ready to return to her own timeline -- but she'll have to do it herself, and it will take time. But I promise, it will happen. This girl has tremendous strength of will. The fact that she's managed to hold on to even a shred of her identity during her ordeal is proof of that. Hell, I've met Green Lanterns with less will-power than she's got."

She stood up. "I've got to be getting back to the thirty-first century," she said. "I'll talk with Janet before I go, and I'll be back for a follow-up as soon as I can." She paused. "Actually, I do have one suggestion."

The man looked at her expectantly.

"Find her a mentor," Arda Gand said. "Someone to be her friend, her confidante, her supporter. A supergirl her own age, to help her re-establish her identity as a superheroine. Someone sympathetic yet outgoing, to help her re-connect with the outside world -- when she's ready."

"Something tells me you have someone in mind."

"As a matter of fact," she said, "I do." She picked up a pen and memorandum pad from the desk. She wrote down a name, tore the page from the pad, and placed it face down on the desk.

"One last thing," she said. "Whoever did this to her didn't go to all that trouble just to get away with robbing banks. I sense that her abduction is part of something huge -- and that Caramel Fox will play a crucial role in the ultimate fate of her timeline. Call it my superwoman's intuition."

The man sat, deep in thought, as Arda Gand left his office and the sound of her footsteps faded down the corridor. Finally, he turned over the memorandum page she had left on the desk. The corners of his mouth twitched as he read the name she had written.

"Perfect," he said. "I wonder if she's available?"


OK, who's next?

P.S. The forum has been kind of quiet this weekend. Where is everybody?

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13 Mar 2005 22:01 #417 by brantley
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Well, you have a problem here. In Chapters II (second chapter of my post), her rescuer didn't have a name but sure talked and acted as if he knew who Caramel was and that in fact she came from HIS timelime and had gone missing on a mission.

--BTE

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14 Mar 2005 02:06 #418 by brantley
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P.S.: But you can explain my idea away if you're good enough! Make it a case of mistaken identity, doppelgangers, whatever!

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14 Mar 2005 04:04 #419 by argonaut
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Brantley:

Well, the way I read your opening chapters, Caramel Fox was a superheroine in an alternate timeline (the one she recalls in CK's chapter) who was abducted, mindwiped, and imprisoned in the "misogynistic universe" from which the dark-haired man rescues her.

The man knows that Caramel has been a prisoner in that universe. (My chapter introduces the idea that he has dedicated himself to rescuing superheroines from such places ... and hints at a motivation that some future contributor might want to develop more fully.)

But I don't find anything in your chapters that compels me to infer that the man knows anything about Caramel's background ... much less that she comes from his own timeline.

Well, OK, there was one thing -- the man tells Caramel "You're home now." I admit that I didn't catch the implication of that -- I just took it to mean "You're safe; you're among friends; stay here as long as you wish."

Believe me, I took pains to make my chapter consistent with yours and CK's -- and whatever its faults, I do think I succeeded in that. You may have had somewhat different ideas in mind for your story (as I speculated in my post of February 18), but if they weren't made explicit in your opening chapters, you can hardly fault me for not incorporating them into my follow-up. Isn't that how an interactive story works?

As a wise man once counseled me: "Think about it."

Argonaut

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14 Mar 2005 04:45 #420 by argonaut
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P.S. Regarding the rescuer's name: I'm not sure what your point is. I know he didn't have a name in your chapters; I followed through on that by referring to him as "the man" throughout mine. Arda Gand calls him "Steve" (a name to which I attach no particular significance) because I wanted to establish that the two of them are on a first-name basis. I figure the guy has to get a name eventually, if only to distinguish him from any other male characters he might find himself interacting with.

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14 Mar 2005 12:34 #421 by brantley
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You know, you're RIGHT. I was reading things the way I had them in my MIND, not the way they appeared in PRINT -- which is the only thing set in stone. MEA CULPA, and more power to you. Of course, CK has Caramel trying to remember her previous life based on the sights of New York as if it is supposed to be HER New York. But that doesn't necessarily mean it IS her New York. Anyway, you've added a new dimension to the story, and I should be and am grateful.

By the way, I never had any problem with the name of the guy. You could have called him Joe Smoth for all I care.

And to whoever's next:

WRITE ON!

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14 Mar 2005 12:59 #423 by ck
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The alternate New Amsterdam could just as easily been part of the enforced "superwhore" identity overlaid on her own true one, and this New York is her true New York...

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14 Mar 2005 14:41 #424 by brantley
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Well, I'll let you thrash that out with Argonaut or whoever!

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14 Mar 2005 15:41 #426 by argonaut
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Or we could let the next contributor sort it out ...

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14 Mar 2005 16:20 #428 by brantley
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Yeah, that's part of the fun of a round-robin story -- making the next party really WORK on it.

There was a round-robin mystery story in the 1930's; I think it was called THE FLOATING ADMIRAL. As published, the completed story included notes by each author on how he or she meant the mystery to be resolved -- and even though each new writer had to stick to the "facts" as presented by the others in previous chapters, they nearly all had different culprits in mind. Only the last writer, of course, got it "right!"

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15 Mar 2005 11:55 #432 by brantley
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Just added Argonaut's chapter to my Word file of the story, numbering that III and CK's chapter IV. Can't wait to find out more about the mentor and other details you two have dreamed up. But now it's time for still others to build on your dreams!

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11 Apr 2005 13:53 #802 by brantley
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More than three weeks and I'm still waiting. You guys (and galls) are really keeping me in suspense. It's agonizing!

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18 Jan 2006 16:27 #4180 by brantley
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Hey Argonaut and CK and all, any chance of reviving this one?

Been close to a year now but, unlike Transformatrix 4000, I don't think it went out of control, and with good writing it wouldn't.

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18 Jan 2006 17:32 #4182 by argonaut
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Well, CK and I contributed the last two chapters. It's someone else's turn!

Transformatrix 4000 "out of control"? Arguably -- and since I'm the one who opened it up to multiple ubergirls, I guess I'm largely to blame! But I think a successful interactive story needs a free-wheeling, open-ended quality. I don't like everything that's been added to T4K (e.g. JumperPrime's treatment of the Denise character, angels's introduction of Superman), but that's the nature of an interactive story. Any writer is free to divert the plot in whatever direction he or she prefers, and hope that other contributors will build on it.

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19 May 2006 14:08 #5539 by brantley
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I see a new hand finally revived "Transformatrix." Maybe there's hope for "When We Dead Awaken."

To test the waters, I'm reposting the story thus far as edited by me for continuity. If you reminisce over old posts, you'll see that at first some people didn't think the concept would work, then others MADE it work -- made it work so well that I didn't appreciate their efforts at first, but later came to my senses.

The only constants, as I see them are (1) Caramel Fox as a superheroine freed from one of those "peril" universes and (2) the idea of cross-time travel between parallel worlds -- as in H. Beam Piper and Keith Laumer paratime stories.

--Brantley Thompson Elkins

When We Dead Awaken

I (Brantley)

If she’d been in her right mind, she’d have realized the fundamental absurdity of her situation. But Caramel Fox wasn’t in her right mind. She didn’t even know what being in her right mind meant; she could remember no other existence.
Had she really been eaten alive by the Slime Monster just yesterday? Or torn to shreds by the Black Devil? Then what was she doing here now, still intact? She knew that she had been violated; she was still sore down there. It must have been the Black Devil, then; since the Slime Monster didn’t even have a….
At that very thought, the soreness faded. She sensed it was a bad omen, a warning that her respite would be brief. A new assault was surely coming, although she could see no sign of it. She looked around her: all seemed normal. She was in her bedroom; the bed on which she lay was in its proper place. The night table, the dresser, the lamps, the mirror and the other furnishings were likewise in their proper places.
She saw that she was wearing her costume, a skimpy caramel-colored affair. Her breasts nearly overflowed the top, and the bottom barely covered her nether parts. She must have slept in it, she supposed, after whatever had happened to her before. Had she been out on a mission before the Black Devil….?
She suddenly realized she couldn’t remember ever having been on a mission, although it was her duty to…. Wasn’t that what superheroines did: use their super powers to…. What were her powers? She couldn’t remember. Strangely, she couldn’t even remember wondering about such things before. How could this be?
While she was trying to focus her mind on that, a man stepped through her mirror.
They usually came through the door. They were usually monsters.
"We’ve got the webcam on a loop," the man said. "You’d better come now."
"But?"
She wasn’t objecting; she was just confused.
"You’ll be back before they know it. But the next time they see you, it won’t be you. Not the you they know."
He held out his hand. Because she was used to obedience, she took it.

II (Brantley)

She’d expected to find herself in a dungeon, or some mad doctor’s laboratory, or even aboard an alien spaceship. That was how it always was.
Instead, she seemed to be in some sort of private office.
The room was large and spacious, one wall lined with flat screen monitors. Some showed what appeared to be news or educational programs, others tables and graphs with equations of some sort running across the bottom.
In the center of the room was what looked like a cross between a desk and a circular table, with a personal computer on a dolly at the center. Instead of chairs, there was a ring of seats attached to the central axis. There were storage slots between the seats.
One of the other walls was apparently a picture window of polarized glass; she could see the sun against it without discomfort. Yet another was devoted to displays of objets d’art in no form or style she recognized. She looked behind her, at the fourth wall. There was no sign of the mirror, only a shimmering in the air that quickly faded. Against the wall, a sofa.
"You’re home now," the man told her. "You’ll be able to return to that other world if you wish. But only when you’re ready to face them."
He was tall, about her own height, six feet or so. Dark hair, chiseled features, well toned body, but not overmuscular. He looked the big screen secret agent type. But where had she ever seen the big screen secret agent type?
"Return? Where am I now? Where is this?"
"New York. Earth W27. One of the better timelines, as the one where you were stranded is one of the worst."
"Stranded?"
"You really don’t remember, do you? Damn them! If it were up to me, we’d go in there with heavy weapons and clean out the whole lot. But it isn’t up to me. Even though we can get them now for trafficking in stolen technology."
"Stolen?"
"The mind control stuff they used on you. They could never have thought up anything like that themselves."
He must have seen the confusion on her face.
"I’m sorry," he said. "You can’t believe how sorry I am. We should have found you long before this. But it’s going to be all right. I swear it."
He took her in his arms, tried to comfort her, but she began to tremble uncontrollably. So he released her.
"They really got to you, didn’t they? That bad."
There were actually tears in his eyes.
"Well, they’ll pay. And you’ll make them pay. I know you can’t believe that now, but it’s true."

III. (Argonaut)

The dark-haired man sat at his desk, sipping cold coffee from a styrofoam cup. Files and dossiers -- all demanding his immediate attention -- were stacked by his left elbow, but for the past fifteen minutes he had been staring at a single sheet of paper positioned neatly in the center of the desktop.
"SUBJECT: Caramel Fox," was written at the top of the sheet.
The rest of the page was blank.
"REAL NAME ... TIMELINE ... PERSONAL HISTORY ... KNOWN ALLIES / GROUP AFFILIATION ... NATURE AND ORIGIN OF POWERS ..." Except for a name whose authenticity he doubted, absolutely nothing was known of the young woman whom he had rescued the previous afternoon. She was tabula rasa -- a blank slate.
He frowned, remembering the fear in her eyes -- constantly darting back and forth, never meeting his own. Instead of feeling relief at her rescue, she appeared to think it was a cruel deception on the part of her tormentors, intended to make the next round of pain and humiliation seem all the more acute. As Janet, the Center's head psychologist, had conducted the trembling young woman out of his office and toward the dormitory wing, the man wondered whether in rescuing Caramel Fox he had merely replaced one kind of torment with another.
That's when he had sent for Arda Gand.
Arda Gand was a third-generation Legionnaire whose forebears included Mon-El and Saturn Girl -- and who had inherited the powers of both. An experienced superheroine and a skilled telepath, she was uniquely qualified to serve as a consultant on the Center's more difficult cases. And the year she had endured in Darkseid's dungeons had given her a very personal interest in the Center's mission.
The man drank the last of the coffee and turned to drop the empty cup in a wastebasket. There was a tap at the door.
"Good morning, Steve."
Arda Gand -- a tall, strikingly attractive blonde wearing an outfit similar to her grandmother's Saturn Girl costume -- stood in the doorway.
"Ah, good morning, Arda." The man rose and extended his hand. "Thank you for coming." He gestured at a chair and they both sat down. "So ... how are things in the thirty-first century?"
"Fairly quiet -- though of course I can only speak for my own timeline. But I've got to be getting back soon. There are rumors that the Emerald Empress is recruiting a new Fatal Five."
The man nodded. So much for small talk, he thought. "So what can you tell me about our mystery woman?"
"Very little, I'm afraid," Arda Gand replied. "Whoever did the mindwipe was very thorough and covered their tracks very carefully. This girl's mind is a labyrinth of firewalls. I could penetrate them easily enough, but not without doing irreparable damage to her psyche."
The man looked down at the sheet of paper on his desk. A wave of hopelessness threatened to engulf him as he contemplated the blank spaces.
"But I can tell you this much," Arda Gand continued. "Whoever she is, whatever timeline she comes from, she's a dedicated and experienced superheroine. That's so fundamental to her self-concept -- so inextricably woven into her psyche -- that not even these bastards could wipe it from her mind. There's a thought that keeps running like a bass line through all her fear and confusion -- I'm supposed to be helping others ... even though the only 'others' she can remember do nothing but torture and humiliate her."
Arda Gand paused. She knew what had driven the man to make this his life's work -- and it didn't take a telepath to know what he was thinking right now. "You're right," she said gently. "Karen was like that, too."
The man cleared his throat. "So what now?" he asked. "What can we do for her?"
Arda Gand leaned forward and put her hand over his. "I know you want to make things better right away," she said. "But believe me, this won't be a quick fix. She will recover her memories, she will be ready to return to her own timeline -- but she'll have to do it herself, and it will take time. But I promise, it will happen. This girl has tremendous strength of will. The fact that she's managed to hold on to even a shred of her identity during her ordeal is proof of that. Hell, I've met Green Lanterns with less will-power than she's got."
She stood up. "I've got to be getting back to the thirty-first century," she said. "I'll talk with Janet before I go, and I'll be back for a follow-up as soon as I can." She paused. "Actually, I do have one suggestion."
The man looked at her expectantly.
"Find her a mentor," Arda Gand said. "Someone to be her friend, her confidante, her supporter. A supergirl her own age, to help her re-establish her identity as a superheroine. Someone sympathetic yet outgoing, to help her re-connect with the outside world -- when she's ready."
"Something tells me you have someone in mind."
"As a matter of fact," she said, "I do." She picked up a pen and memorandum pad from the desk. She wrote down a name, tore the page from the pad, and placed it face down on the desk.
"One last thing," she said. "Whoever did this to her didn't go to all that trouble just to get away with robbing banks. I sense that her abduction is part of something huge -- and that Caramel Fox will play a crucial role in the ultimate fate of her timeline. Call it my superwoman's intuition."
The man sat, deep in thought, as Arda Gand left his office and the sound of her footsteps faded down the corridor. Finally, he turned over the memorandum page she had left on the desk. The corners of his mouth twitched as he read the name she had written.
"Perfect," he said. "I wonder if she's available?"

IV (CK)

She’d tried to come up with a better phrase, she thought long and hard, but nothing else came to mind, at least that could displace this.
How can this be real?
Only weeks before she’d been walking down the same streets of New Amsterdam, now she was told this was New York and every fourth building was different. Neighborhoods which she knew were crime ridden places to avoid were amazingly clean. The World Trade center was gone, but the Statue of Liberty was intact.
She looked like a tourist, her head moving around like a nodding dog’s, her eyes wide and mouth open in reaction to the latest revelation. Her rescuers had judged her ready to leave their protection, at least for a day so she could walk around and perhaps get her bearings or trigger a memory. It’s been a couple of weeks since she’d been brought here, and they admitted it might take awhile for her memories to return, but Caramel didn’t feel that she’d ever remember being the Her they claimed she actually was... were... is...
She clutched her head and groaned. Things weren’t getting easy, but she’d always joking refered to thinking with her fists and had a hard time with thinking things our. Now though she didn’t know if the mind control had made her this way, or that she was always like this. The second guessing was driving her batty.
She spent most of the remainder of the day in the City Library, in an effort to learn more about "home", even if dread settled in her heart. Like the city itself, large portions of history were as she expected, but just as things seemed sane she’d hit upon something that jarred her senses like a tooth ache. She couldn’t get her mind around the fact that here that instead of America desperately bombing Germany to stop nuclear powered V2’s, here America used a nuclear bomb against the Japanese.
The finally straw that caused her to look no further was when she learned that on 20th of July 1969 that Alexei Leonov of the Soviet Union didn’t land on the Moon, that the Americans beat them, she ran.
When she stopped she discovered she was in Central Park, seemingly her Central Park. Like everything else in this New ‘York’ there were a few differences, statues dedicated to different people, but enough was the same, clinched when she saw the hot dog vender outside Central Park Zoo in the same place he always was, who didn’t recognize her but was still able to tell by looking at her prefered fare.
So she sat at a bench overlooking the water, slowly eating and reflecting that something so simple as a Coke and Hot-Dog with the lot minus onions made her feel more at home than anything to date. Despite the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land, there was much to like here. This might not feel like ‘home’, even if it was meant to be, but it was certainly better than where she was before and for the moment that was enough.
As the sun began to set, Caramel made her way back, almost walking straight past two thugs threatening a young college student. Acting entirely on instinct, she almost tore open the sweater she was wearing until she remembered the only thing under there was a rather plain if overstrained sports bra.
A little voice at the back of her mind said she couldn’t engage in superheroics if she wasn’t wearing her costume, but the screaming of the girl...
"Get away from her"
Everybody stopped dead. Caramel blinked as she realize she’d actually said that, three pairs of eyes turning towards her. The two animals stood and released the young woman they were molesting and let out wolf-whistles at the sight of her, but that was nothing new given-
"Jeez! Look it the size that whore’s boobs! Get ‘em out baby, I want to suckle!"
It ran like script, as always. Criminals appeared to be a breast obessed lot, and she knew what was next to come, they’d grope them and it’d all be over. Yet what else could she do?
Once again she blinked as she realized she snatched his hand out of mid-air before it could come into contact with her chest, beginning to crush it in her grip. As her would be attacker screamed she snapped her arm back and released, sending him across the alley to a hard landing against a brownstone wall.
She spun on her heel as her right leg snapped out and caught the other thug in the chest, sending him skidding down the pavement and out of alley. Back in the other place her powers had seemed to be spotty at best, fading at the worse possible times, but here she had no trouble in dispatching them with ease. Thus she waited, waited for what normally occured, only to have the victim hug her and give her an endless stream of thank you.
Once again Caramel Fox began to shake as she was confronted with things which didn’t make sense. The two thugs hadn’t turned into sex crazed demons, alien seeking to probe her, tentacle beasts or anything. Nothing attacked her from behind. Hell, even the woman she saved hadn’t insisted on giving her a "special" thank-you. As the police arrived and the woman received proper attention she wavered unsteady on her feet as she tried to take it all in. She turned and soared into the sky, tears streaming down her face as that same phrase rebounding in her head
How can this be real?

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