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Worst case scenario: your wife is cheating on you. Superstar has you pulling more and more hours now, has you coming home later and later, too tired to even warm-up the dinners she prepares for you, neatly saran-wrapped in the refrigerator or separated into labeled plastic containers, let alone return the amorous advances between the sheets afterward, the affection she so deserves, and yes, at times, even demands.

You've been married to Vicky for six years and of those, the last five have been bliss, a prolonged honeymoon sustained almost entirely by your wife's perfect diligence. Only now do you face your first real challenge as a married couple. The manilla envelope in your hands, bulging in the middle with a fat square, like bump on a band-aid, reminds you of those old noir movies you used to watch with your brother. Everything about the dingy office you're in, the broken ceiling fan, the missing shingles from the venetian blinds from which slats of dirty sunlight filter through, the noisy desk with its clutter held down by obscene paperweights and most of all the sagging, sweating face of Mord, the PI-on-call for Superstar, seems like something from the movies, a carefully made set. At any moment, the director might say "cut!" and you could wake up from this, as if from a dream.

Mord fishes around in his desk, slamming the jammed drawers with an annoying amount of force. Finally he retrieves a small penknife and offers it to you with a small up and down gesture as if he was threatening to stab you with it. You take it, feeling an intense shame gather in the pit of your stomach.

"Can you just tell me?" you say.

"I think you had just better take a look for yourself, bud," says Mord, laying his hands over his stomach and leaning back on his office chair until it begins to squeak from the strain. "Yeah, I think that'd be for the best."

CONT.
>>
You bring the tip of the knife to the gap in the envelope. Why do they bother sealing these if they're going to be opened later anyway? What kind of design is that? And all at once you discard the knife and begin tearing open the envelope with your bare hands, like a spoiled child on Christmas eve. The photographs, glossy and fresh-cut, with corners sharp enough to draw blood, spill out onto the table and you hastily gather them together into a pile not wishing Mord to see anything that's on them. Of course, having taken the pictures, he's obviously seen everything already. You lift the pile and push in the sides to make them even, tapping them a few times against the table. The pictures are dark, taken at nighttime or inside a low-lit room. A bedroom, you think at first, jumping to the most obvious conclusion but in fact it's an alleyway. Some kind of dive bar then. There's the neon sign in bright blue letters, "Cadaver". Strange name for a dive bar. You flip through the photos one by one, turning them face down in a pile next to you like they were playing cards. A close-up shows Vicky entering the bar, her wavy auburn hair tied up in an uncharacteristic bun, but her cool, liquid-green eyes -- the same color as her nail-polish -- and the thin, freckled nose of which she was mildly embarrassed, unmistakable. On the bottom right of each picture there's a timestamp. This one says 9:14PM, about four hours before you were home that night. Plenty of time. And yet, that very night you remember her reaching for you, slipping her leg in between yours, putting her fingers through the fingers of your hand, summoning the dark and brutal lust which had eventually overcome even your fatigue. That was only two days ago.

CONT.
>>
Another close-up. Someone at the door lets her in. A medium shot of her looking around. Could Mord have been noticed? Your wife was always a sharp girl, very detail oriented. If she hadn't married you she could have had a good life as a business woman, the driven CEO of some tech start-up, or a lawyer in some high-powered firm. Maybe that was it. Maybe you had stifled her potential. She tells you every night that her only dream is to be a mother, coaxes you every night with its implications, but the prospect of fatherhood terrifies you and you have so far repulsed her unwearying efforts with the old saw that you need to save some more money first. Did you do this? Denying her a career, denying her motherhood, denying her purpose and meaning. A long shot of the alleyway. But you had finally started to fold, that was why you took on these new responsibilities, worked these extra hours. There was a spot open in the executive table and you were up for review. It wasn't entirely a lie, the need for more money. You want your child to have the best of everything. Some medium shots with a few people coming out of the bar. She's with them. They file off. A long shot of her in the alley and someone else but... she's wearing different clothes? A close-up. No, it's definitely her. And some other man, handsome, and strangely familiar.

You begin flipping faster through the photos, your heart pounding painfully in your chest, the heat and filth unbearable in this disgusting office. The rest are close-ups of this man and her. They appear to be talking. Just talking. Then at the end, something strange, something impossible. Vicky, your wife of six years, the love of your life (you'd decided that before you walked in here today), somehow changes her face. In one photo she's Vicky, and then in the next, her skin is grey and ashen, her hair is jet black, her lips, a rigor-mortis-blue, her eyes sharper and darker and with a fierceness you've never seen before. You can't look away, you can't believe what you're seeing. But the photos are only a few seconds apart, too quick for foul play, not that Mord would ever dare try something like that, not with all his debts transferred to Superstar's accounts. But how can this be?

You place two photos side-by-side. Vicky. And Redstar. Your wife is Redstar. Your wife is a supervillain.

>[continue]
>write-in
>>
QM NOTE: This is a quest in which you play the husband of a comic book supervillian, updated (I plan) twice daily. The setting is original, though I'll be using pics of comic book characters you may recognize from other media. This is merely a convenience and does not imply any kind of cross-over. This quest is also unique in one respect: it is write-in only. Every vote you'll have a choice between [continue] and write-in. [continue] is a vote for moving the story forward as I (the QM) see fit. Write-ins allow you to not only control the actions of the main character, but (beyond the things I've established in this first post and the posts to come) his personality, motivations, etc. I will try to incorporate as many of the write-ins as possible, assuming they are compatible. Shitpost write-ins (basically things wildly OOC) will be summarily ignored. I've chosen this system to ensure I can continue to write even (as I expect) when there are few voters, and to completely rid myself of the burden of trying to come up with choices every post. If this bothers you, I suggest you find another quest.
>>
>>4913780
Neat idea. I'll play this
>>4913778
>[continue]
This is an actual vote option right?
>>
>>4913778
>write-in

>research redstar
>>
>>4913780
Nevermind, I just took a closer look at what you said.
I'll support this>>4913787
And
>Why was Mord following Vicky to find out in the first place?
>>
>>4913778
>>4913788
>>
>>4913788
I Thought My Wife was Cheating, But Actually She Wants to Rule the World??
>>
>>4913778
Ask him if he was spotted
>>
>>4913832
Also ask him if anyone knows he's here.
>>
>>4913778
>Find out who printed those pictures
>Ask if anyone else knows about this or this job
>Plan to kill Mord and clear any trace of our involvement
Because men needs to protect his family.
>>
>>4913822
I know that animu! I think. Sounds like one.
>>
>>4913868
If we kill him, someone will investigate. That will bring more attention. He works for some super named Superstar.
>>
>>4913788
I'd presume because we hired him, folks?
>>
>>4913901
Yeah seems logical. If we become her henchmen, it'll probably be out of rage from being kept from her due to superstar putting our ass to the grindstone
>>
>>4913778
Ask Mord what does he intend to do with this information.

Let’s be real, he’s probably terrified. He knows he’s become a loose end, but he also knows the wife won’t take death of her husband sitting down regardless of circumstances making prospect of killing us a hazardous one. Yet he seems to have enough integrity to have had actually delivered the evidence to us.
>>
>>4913787
>>4913788
>>4913832
>>4913848
>>4913868
>>4913909
Closed. Update imminent. The quest is certainly getting more traction than I envisioned, but we'll see how long that lasts.
>>
>>4913780
>Shitpost write-ins (basically things wildly OOC) will be summarily ignored.
>to completely rid myself of the burden of trying to come up with choices every post.

Fuck off then, you lazy, high railroading, holier than thou, piece of shit faggot.
>>
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>>4913940
>>
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>>4913973
>>
With as much calm as you can muster, you lay the last photograph facedown on the others, a medium shot of your wife shaking hands with who you now recognize as Communion, the leader of the notorious terrorist group, Antimatter. Again you gather up the photos, drum them even on the desk and then you put them discreetly into your suit’s inner breast pocket. Outwardly, you keep the appearance of calm, even smile a little at Mord, who returns the smile awkwardly. At the same time, you can’t feel your fingers, and it feels as if all blood from your head had been siphoned off to somewhere else, into a gutter or drain.

“You alright bud? You want some water?”

You nod weakly at Mord and he presses a small red button at the base of a little desk-microphone.

“Shelly, a couple of waters in here please?”

“What water?” Returns the scratchy, shrill voice of Mord’s wife, distorted by two packs a day of Virginia Slims and the ambient crackling noise of the crude intercom. “We don’t have any water, Mordy. They cut off our water two weeks ago, you remember?”

“Alright so go to the corner store and pick up a couple of cokes–” Mord looks up at you, checking to make sure this change of drink is acceptable. You nod again, mechanically. “Two cokes and get one of those eclairs–”

“With what money?”

“What you do mean with what money? I slipped you some bills two days ago! The–the twenty and then the fifty two days ago!”

“…I spent it on groceries.”

“You spent seventy dollars on groceries? You got some other secret family I don’t know about Shelly? And you haven’t cooked a meal a day in your whole goddamn life!”

“Don’t yell at me!”

“I’m not yelling!” screams Mord. “I’m not yelling!”

“Mord, it’s alright,” you say.

Mord shakes his head, refusing your refusal. It’s the principle of the thing now, for him, but reminded of your presence, he takes a breath and speaks calmly and evenly. “For Christ’s sake, Shel, we’re dying of thirst over here. Mr. Richard’s getting heatstroke.”

“Alright. Alright.”

“Alright?”

“I said, alright!”

“Alright,” says Mord, releasing the button and settling back to his former pose, hands on stomach. “Two minutes,” he assures you.

CONT.
>>
The silence is unbearable. Mord puts on a face of complete stony impassivity, whether an act or just professional indifference, you don’t know. Mord has been with Superstar, the PR firm that represents about a quarter of the supers in the country, for three years now. You’ve had to deal with him only twice in your time with the company and both times were over the phone and both times over matters as unpleasant as they were critical.

When you had hired him to follow your wife you had made it very clear that this was a side-gig and that under no circumstances could he report this to Superstar. He was all too happy to oblige. A tax-free injection of capital into his “growing business” was too alluring an offer and he promised the utmost discretion. In fact, he had been very good about keeping things on the down low, and had even gone to the trouble of buying you a small prepaid cellphone on which he could call during pre-established hours, usually on your morning drive to work. He, like you, had suspected infidelity and had gone to such precautions precisely on those suspicions. Yet now, with the real, horrible truth laid bare, he seems no less perturbed.

“So it’s a little impolite to ask,” he finally says, “but…”

“What?” you say.

“Well there’s the matter of a certain closing fee–unless you want I keep tailing her.”

“N-no, that won’t be necessary.” You begin rifling through your pockets, suddenly at a loss for where you put the white envelope with the twenty, crisp, one-hundred dollar bills you had withdrawn the night before. You finally find it in the same breast pocket you had put the photos. You place it on the table and Mord simply stares at it, as though he could make it slide toward him with his mind.

“So that just leaves us,” says Mord, not looking up from the money.

“Yes,” you say.

“So what are you gonna do?”

“How do you mean?”

“You gonna tell her?”

“I don’t–”

“Because if you’re gonna tell her, I’d like a little heads-up. I don’t want her coming after me.”

“No, she would never–”

“Oh, that reminds me,” he says, fishing through the pockets of his baggy khakis and finally retrieving a small, black thumbdrive and then sliding it across to you. “Originals. Don’t worry, I didn’t make any copies.”

You quick stuff the thumbdrive into your trouser pocket. It won’t go in in your seated position, so you stand up and then finding that you don’t want to sit back down, begin pacing back and forth.

CONT.
>>
“I know bud,” says Mord. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen this, if you can believe it. My advice? Hit the road and don’t ever look back. Keep your mouth shut. Keep your eyes and ears open.”

“She’s my wife,” you say, through gritted jaw, through clenched fist, through nerves and vessels now coursing only with the thought of her deception. How could she do it? How long has she been doing it? That night that you had heard her coming up the stairs at 4AM in the morning, on her tip-toes, sneaking into the bedroom, into the bathroom, and the quiet rush of tap without the accompanying strip of light beneath the door, hearing her come again, slip off her dress and slip in between the covers and lie very still, and listening to her breathing until she finally drifted off to sleep, you felt a crushing rage then, like being submerged beneath miles and miles of ocean water, and how you had hated her in the morning when she greeted you, as always, like nothing had happened, with a smile and a cup of coffee and idle conversation as she busied herself with breakfast, how much you wanted to hurt her – maybe, I’ll have an affair too, you had thought, and imagining it had disgusted you so much that tears almost came into your eyes. Then denial. Then the rational part of you urging for an irrefutable testimony, no matter how painful, which led ultimately to calling Mordecai Borowski at a gas station phone booth with trembling hands.

The image of the two faces appear before you like the two halves of a playing card. On the top: the face of the woman whom you have loved unreservedly for seven straight years, loved almost from the first word, and who has, in no uncertain terms, reciprocated that love with her whole being–and Redstar on the bottom. Redstar, who just a month ago was on the news for trying to destroy the Scarsberry Bridge, in broad daylight. Twelve people killed. You remember watching the coverage on the huge wall monitor in the office, watching with rapt attention – and disgust – a black and red speck floating hundreds of feet above the suspension bridge, dodging heat beams, blocking fists, and at one point, slamming another super – one of Superstar’s own clients, Bluebolt, into the water below, earning gasps and curses from the other staff and then later, cheers, when she had to retreat once Lord Justice appeared. You remember yourself cursing and cheering with the rest.

CONT.
>>
How long? That’s what you really want to know now. How long has she been living like this? Was it before you had met? Was it after? How long after? After marriage? After you told her how your own parents were killed in the collateral of one of Antimatter’s terrorist attacks? Or maybe it was after you started working for Superstar. Maybe they recruited her then. Maybe they threatened her. There was a perverse, desperate hope in that – how long had Redstar been around? You could check Herobase, the government system that keeps tracks of known heroes and villains. Superstar has high-level access and would let you look back years and even read some of the classified materials the SIA kept on each super – but wouldn’t that be suspicious? All access through the office is logged. And the question brings up the most painful thought of all, that despite her dishonesty, despite her real identity and the terrible, vile things she’s done, you still love her. To see her incarcerated, to her get hurt, was impossible. You’d rather die. And if anyone hurt her, if anyone so much as tried to hurt her, you’d…

You stop pacing and look up at Mord. He’d been counting the money in the envelope, licking his thumb like someone trying to turn the page on a newspaper. He looks up at you, his large, bovine eyes, slowly narrowing, watching the hand you’ve now slipped behind your back.

“I couldn’t find coke,” says Shelly, flinging open the door and walking straight toward the desk, her heels going clickety-clack on the hard tile, “so I got some tea.”

Mord’s gaze lingers on your arm a second before turning to his wife. “What the hell we’re gonna do with tea, Shel? It’s two-hundred degrees out. You trying to kill us?”

“It’s iced tea, dummy,” says Shel, laying the two cans of iced tea on the table and a cream-filled eclair. “Lemon flavored. Your favorite.”

“My favorite is cherry you ditz.”

“It’s lemon!” she insists.

“Where the hell do you get off telling me what my favorite iced tea flavor is? Huh? It’s cherry goddamnit! It’s always been cherry!”

“Don’t yell at me!” says Shelly.

“I’m not yelling!” screams Mord. “Mr. Richard, please,” he says, gesturing to the cans. “While it’s cold, yeah?”

“How do you Mr. Richard?” says Shelly, finally noticing you standing behind her.

You relax just enough to offer her a polite nod. Mord clears his throat loudly.

“What?” says Shelly. “I can’t say hello?”

Mord tightly jabs his finger at the air, the universal gesture for “get out!”. Shelly, sensing the mood, makes herself scarce, leaving the scent of her strong citrusy perfume near the chair in which you again sit down.

CONT.
>>
You snap open the can and take long drink. Mord doesn’t touch his can and instead begins unpeeling the eclair from its plastic wrapper. “Mr. Richard,” he says, “I like my current job. Working for Superstar’s a–well, I won’t say it’s a dream come true, to tell you the truth I’ve always wanted to be an olympic athlete.” He waves his hand, as if dismissing some expressed interest on your part (there wasn’t any). “A story for another time. But what I mean is, Superstar has treated me well, really well. No hounding me for the debts. Steady pay. I’ve got no complaints,” he takes a big bite of the eclair and continues talking, noisily chewing the pastry with his back molars. “What I mean is, I’ve got no reason to disrupt the status quo. I’m a professional, you know that. Superstar knows that. What I mean is, what I really mean is…” He takes another bite of the eclair, spooning up with his finger a line of cream that was dribbling down his chin, into his mouth, and then going silent.

You drain the rest of the iced tea and slam the can down on the armrest of your chair. “What DO you mean, Mord?”

“…Am I gonna have to disappear, Mr. Richard? What, exactly, are you planning to do? And what, exactly, is my part in it? If any?”

“Mord–” you start to answer him, but your cellphone begins to ring. You hold up a finger to Mord, while you check the caller. It’s your wife.

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4914118
>Write-in
Mouth "Wife" to him, hoping he'll duck under his desk or away from any windows, then pick up the phone.
>>
>>4914118
>[continue]
I mean she can't be super terrorist if she is preggers
>>
>>4914118
Both of these are good points>>4914124
>>4914135
If she isn't on her way home, and letting us know, immediately start looking for live news feeds to see if she shows up in them, if she gives a cover story. Don't threaten Mord or his wife, and leave peacefully to get a gun and mask. Then go watch our wife.
>>
>>4914118
>>4914145
Oh and, if getting a gun isn't viable to do right now to go to her crime scene, a taser and a knife.
>>
>>4914118
>Mouth "Wife" to him, hoping he'll duck under his desk or away from any windows, then pick up the phone.
Do this, and motion for a pen & paper too. Write down that you have no idea what you're doing, and definitely don't want anything to happen to him, it'd probably be a good idea if he skipped town for a while.

>>4914145
>>4914147
Would those even be useful? Let's not get weapons yet.
>>
>>4914118
Basically >>4914124

and while it's a bit...manipulative, it IS what she wanted, although now I suspect it's more for villainous progeny than any real desire for a family. So the >>4914135 idea has merit, if only for a short term solution.

>Also backing the 'look for live feeds if she's not on her way home' thing, but not the getting a gun/mask thing.

>>4914156
This too. We're not mad at him, or anything. We're still confused and worried. Maybe a vacation, sure, but he shouldn't have to leave forever.
>>
>>4914156
Just keeping a piece on us will be safer since we now know we're married to a super villain. Plus sneaking to her "Work Zone", would require some precautions.
>Do this, and motion for a pen & paper too. Write down that you have no idea what you're doing, and definitely don't want anything to happen to him, it'd probably be a good idea if he skipped town for a while.
This too.
>>4914169
>and while it's a bit...manipulative, it IS what she wanted, although now I suspect it's more for villainous progeny than any real desire for a family.
Only one way to find out, and if that was the case she could just fuck some villain, or even some random schmuck if all she wanted was kids.
>>
>>4914173
>>4914118
>>
In fact, the reason she might want our kids out of guilt for working with the group that killed his parents.
>>
>>4914118

>Take the call
Hey love...
>>
Personally I'd love to see this work out just to see what the end result would be. I will just lurk in these threads but know this; I'd like to see us reconcile with our wife and come to terms with her double life. Support her on principle of being our spouse and see if any vows have been violated since our marriage.
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>>4913940
You should kill yourself.
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>>4914124
I support this
>>4914196
I want to reconcile with her too, but she's an actual terrorist. Not an 'steal forty cakes and tie a woman to a track' supervillain, she's an 'blow up a bridge' terrorist. Your parents were killed in her attack.

Sure, she may love you, but she's still a shitty person if she's willing to kill other people for her own gains.
>>
Yeah, it's one of those things where it's like...that's kind of a love-killer. IF it were me. Gonna have to do a bit of disassociation though since QM said 'we still love her'. Still going to be rough on how to treat this. Theoretically this should be a very cut and dry split, honestly, but. Theory and reality don't often work.
>>
>>4914312
Eh...to be fair, it's kinda hard to believe that your wife is a terrorist. We don't know about the full story, though, so there's that.

I don't think (we) are going to continue to be in love if Redstar still plans on giving innocent people the IRA treatment. I mean,she's a supervillain - if it was murder, that would be horrible, but believable, and even then some people wouldn't stop.

But super terrorism? It's so big in scale that it doesn't feel true. It's like if you found out your wife comitted genocide. I mean, that sucks and would probably kill love, but at the same time, it'll be a while until you believe it.
>>
>>4914304
Its wasn't confirmed she was the one that killed his parents, just that they were killed in one of that Antimatter's groups terror attacks.
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>>4914332
True, but it WAS confirmed she blew up a bridge and killed people. Just as bad, really.
>>
>>4914334
I mean yeah, but when dating, and as of now, finding out after being married to a supervillain for this long. You need to be a little apathetic to other people you don't know dying.
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>>4914338
She killed people, that's fucked up. You wouldn't marry some proud peace trucker, even if she 'loved you'
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>>4914344
Yeah, but it was collateral killings, not some torture porn shit. And it doesn't change we already married her, my personal preferences aside.
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>>4914348
We married Vicky, not Redstar the Terrorist

Vicky has to choose which identity she values more.
>>
>>4914391
She's in a terrorist group, what can she do to get out?
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>>4914294
Right after you, sempai.
>>
>>4914312
We’ll right now we just have some horribly disturbing facts. I don’t think relationship and attachment of several years can be extinguished at drop of a hat, we’re gonna be spending some time denying or trying to justify what we learned, and she’ll definitely pick up that something is wrong from our call now.

Yeah killing and terror are big deal and definitely grounds for marriage nullification but if we were so in love with her before we’re gonna want to hear her justify herself before we give up on her,
>>
>>4914344
So? She didn't hurt us, just random NPCs we've never met and have no reason to care about in the slightest. I'd feel betrayed if she was involved in the attack that killed our parents but if not then it's completely irrelevant except insomuch as it puts us at risk.
>>
>>4914756
Are you a psychopath in real life?
>>
>>4914756
Sir, that is what we call sociopathy. It is not a good thing. It is not a healthy thing.
>>
>>4914118
>>>4914124 >>4914135 >>4914145 >>4914147 >>4914156 >>4914169 >>4914175 >>4914183
Closed. Update imminent. Enjoying the debate/discussion btw. I will probably mix it in to your character's thoughts/motivations since they are more or less in character
>>
>>4914118
>Talk to her, then ask to have a chat back at home
>>
>>4914527
Boy I slap the shit out you. Don't play with a grown man.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>4915355
That's big talk coming from someone in ass-kicking range.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>4915391
Weakling, get in your seat.
>>
>>4915391
Bruh, yous a faggot cuh. Yous a faggot cuh.
>>
Mord raises his eyebrows and you answer his unaired question with a nod. He glances behind him toward the blinds, ducking in his seat a little, as if expecting, any minute now, the window to be suddenly shattered by a sniper’s bullet.

“Can I take this somewhere?” you ask.

Mord gestures to a door beside the window. It’s a cramped but clean bathroom, with hardly enough room to stand. A brand-new toilet and sink sits in stark contrast to the flaking paint on the walls and cracked tiles on the floor. You put down the toilet cover, wipe it off with a bit of toilet paper, and then sit down, careful not to lean against the tank. The heat in here is even more unbearable than in the office, with no ventilation to clear the air. You consider taking your coat off but there’s hardly enough room to stretch your arms. Taking a deep breath, you swipe upward on the phone and bring it to your ear.

“Are you busy, darling?”

Hearing her voice, hearing her call you ‘darling’ as though nothing had changed, as though she were still Vicky, still the girl with freckles that fretted over recipes she found online – for gourmet burgers or for brownies or for cooking tandoori chicken without the clay oven – watching your expressions as you tasted them, working her bottom lip, watching with the keenness of a scientist observing her mice, and finally bubbling over with relief at seeing the obvious pleasure in your face, still that girl, still your wife, and all you can wonder is not why, or even when, but how? How could she be that girl and Redstar at the same time? The girl who always cries at the end of The Iron Giant and a mass-murderer, all at once?

“Darling? Are you there?”

“Yes. I’m, you know,” you say, clearing your throat. “Hardly working. The usual.”

She giggles, as always, at your stupid joke. Nothing has changed for her. “I called your office a little while ago,” she says, freezing your blood cold.

“Y-you did? When?”

“Just before I left – I’m at the grocer’s right now – it was fifteen, twenty minutes ago? I got that new secretary of yours, Lor-something.”

“Alice,” you correct.

“Wasn’t it Lor-something?”

“You’re thinking of Loretta, from college.” Vicky had never liked Loretta and maintained a suspicion of her trying to “steal you away” all through your tenure as student President (she was VP), despite that a) nothing had ever happened between the two of you and b) Loretta was a lesbian. You’ve always found the innocuous expressions of your wife’s jealousy, like pretending to forget people’s names, or one time, baking cookies for all two-hundred members of the student union and then making sure to hand out all the nut-free ones before she got to Loretta (who was deathly allergic to cashews) so she could gleefully apologize that “oh no! I’m so, so sorry, all of these have nuts!”, such things you found almost endearing. Now, it’s almost irritating.

CONT.
>>
“Oh, yes, I think you’re right. Well, anyway, whats-her-name told me you were busy and that I should call back later.”

You could kiss that girl. She’ll be getting a glowing review this term to the higher ups.

“Yes, very busy.”

“Which is why I called on your cell, darling. I just wanted to know if you still wanted vermicelli tonight, because there’s a sale here on penne but I didn’t want to buy it before asking you because I know how much you hate surprises.”

“Yes,” you say.

“Yes…I should get the penne?”

“Yes, yes, just get whatever you want.”

“…Is something wrong, darling?”

“No. Nothing. Why would anything be wrong?” A pause. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“Are you coming home late tonight?”

So she can go out for another meeting with Antimatter? How long has she been taking advantage of your late nights? “Why?”

“Oh, well, I just wanted to know if I should leave the pasta in the fridge, that’s all. Or,” she adds eagerly, “if you tell me around when you’ll be coming home I can stay up and I’ll cook it then and we can eat together.”

“No,” you say. “Don’t wait up for me.”

“But really it’s no trouble–”

“I said no!” Damn this heat. You can feel your pits soaked entirely through the shirt. You’ll have to call ahead to let Alice know to have a fresh one ready for you in your office. “I don’t know when I’ll be coming home.”

“…OK, darling. I’m sorry for calling you at work, I know you must be very busy.”

And still you can feel a pang of guilt, still you can see her purse her lips together like she does when she’s sad or disappointed, and still you want to hold her and comfort her and be comforted by her. “No, it’s alright,” you say. “I’ll talk to you later.”

“OK, darling. I love you.”

“Yes,” you say, and then after a painful, vacillating pause, “I love you, too.”

You don’t stay much longer in Mord’s office. You need some air. You thank him for his services, for the iced tea, and especially for his discretion. “I think it’d be best if you took a vacation for a while. Somewhere remote.”

“What about Superstar? They’ve got me on a job right now, bud, and I’m on whatchamacallit with them, you know like with the lawyers?”

“Retainer.”

“That’s the one.”

“Even lawyers take vacations once in a while, Mord. I’ll take care of Superstar, don’t worry about them.” And then you add, seeing his lingering reservation, “Think of your wife.” And Mord immediately discards all reservation.

“You’ll call me when it’s all over? You won’t hang me out to dry?”

You pat your trouser’s pocket, where the little black pre-paid phone sits next to the thumbdrive. “As soon as I can.”

As you turn to leave, Mord grabs your arm. “And are you gonna be alright, Mr. Richard? She’s–”

“I’ll be fine,” you say, lifting his arm off. “She’s still my wife.”
>>
But when you get into your car, your hands are trembling too much to even put the key in the ignition. You throw them as hard as you can over the dashboard where they strike the windshield and leave a small crack. You feel sick, like you’re going to throw up, but you don’t let yourself. Instead, feeling the solid, L-shaped lump against your back, you lift yourself up on the seat and retrieve the handgun you had bought the same day you hired Mord. A Glock 17. The gunshop owner had said it was the best gun for someone who had never fired a gun before. Perfect for home defense. For incapacitating (that was the word he had used, “incapacitating”) unwanted intruders. There was a short waiting period but he let you test the gun, and a few others, in a range he had set up in the back of the shop. It was easy then, to imagine the black silhouette on the target as her mysterious lover, the unwanted intruder of your marriage. To plug him mercilessly full of holes.

Now the thing looked strange and obscene in your hands, something cursed and nauseating, like a voodoo doll or a shrunken head. You open the glove compartment and hastily toss it in and then wipe your sweaty hand against your trousers. The enormity of it all still feels far away. You’ll have to go to work, at Superstar, knowing that your wife, that Redstar, is despised by everyone there. And then you’ll have to go home and face her, and lie in bed with her, and watch her make breakfast, and wonder, with every word she utters, with every happy gesture, how? And whether she’s lying. And whether it’s all a lie. The ‘darling’ and the ‘I love you’, as much as the others. And the thought of that, as with the thought of her adulterous affair, is still more painful.

But she has killed people. She works for the same people that killed your parents. And she knows that they killed your parents. You were only five when they pulled you out of your kindergarten class, to go to the principle’s office. You remember being scared that you were in trouble for stealing some crayons from the classroom playchest. You remember your older brother sitting outside principle’s office, wearing the dark-blue blazer embroidered with the crest of Branson Prep School, which he was attending on a scholarship (there was no way to afford it otherwise) and which was ten miles from here, holding his head in his hands and weeping. You had never seen him cry before and had rushed to him, letting him squeeze you to his chest, sensing that something had happened that was bigger than a few missing crayons.

CONT.
>>
Your brother never cried again after that. Not even in the funeral, where they buried two empty caskets because the bodies were too mangled to put back together, just blood and viscera. The first night in orphanage, where they sent the two of you against the wishes of your grandparents, who had been deemed too debilitated to take care of you, one with dementia, the other with crippling arthritis, had been quiet and gentle. You asked your brother, sleeping on the top bunk, “When are we going home? When is mommy coming back?” And when your brother answered, savagely, that this was our new home, and that our parent’s weren’t coming back, you had begun to cry. And he had climbed down, crouched by the bed, and slapped you in the face, hard, which was so surprising that you had immediately stopped crying. “You don’t cry here,” he said. “Ever.” Then he slipped under the covers with you and held you and stroked your hair until you fell asleep.

You remember his words again, your brother Philip, now a successful aerospace engineer working for the Pale Blue Dot Company, with three children of his own. You don’t cry here. Ever. And he hadn’t. He had kept up the steady, unyielding facade in the face of unthinkable tragedy. If he could do it…

You reach for the keys again, start the car, and pull away onto the road.

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4915427
Go home, draft a letter to work explaining that you've got a family emergency, and that you're going to need the week off, possibly longer. Don't send it yet. Then write down Mort's number from the prepaid phone on a sticky note, hide the note somewhere in your car, like in your owner's manual, message him that you're going to try talking to her, and that if you don't reply back in the next 48 hours, assume the worst and act accordingly, then remove the SIM card from the phone and ditch the cell in the river.

Then go home, set yourself up for a long wait on the couch with a hard drink and the proof, and wait for Vicky to come home...
>>
Rolled 9 (1d20)

>>4915398
>>4915401
Still stronger than you.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>4915427
>Get whatever work we have left done quickly, or at least the minimum required for today.
>Think about the years of happy marriage and think, when did she first start working for Antimatter.
>What happened to you two on the day Redstar came upon the world? And what led up to it.
>Call out for a day from work tomorrow.
>Call her back an hour before work is done and ask if she wants to have a date tomorrow.
>>4915460
This too.
>>4915464
Pathetic
>>
>>4915468
I hate d20s
>>
>>4915427
Seconding >>4915460 (although I'm worried we'll be too drunk to approach it with any level of tact, I can understand the need to numb some nerves).

Maybe >>4915468
>>
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Rolled 72 (1d100)

>>4915468
>>4915475
LMAO WEAK CUNT
HERE, USE A 1d100 INSTEAD
>>
Rolled 49 (1d100)

>>4915460
Lets not get drunk, or even buzzed, we're a bit wound up right now, and we don't want to say something we'll regret by accident.
>>4915492
Fine bitch, witness my power unleased!
>>
Rolled 34 (1d100)

>>4915494
POWAH
>>
File: 1555534247091.gif (1489 KB, 288x198)
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>>4915494
>>
Rolled 18 (1d100)

>>4915497
P-powah?
>>4915499
DIE
>>
File: Can't stop laughing.jpg (36 KB, 479x345)
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>>4915497
>>4915502
>>
Rolled 72 (1d100)

>>4915502
One more time!
>>
>>4915494
I was figuring we'd have a beer or a finger of whiskey to hold off the shakes, not finish off a forty by ourselves.

Also, can you and this fag >>4915503 here just fuck each other already? I'm bored of all the foreplay, get to the action.
>>
File: lmao.png (200 KB, 366x450)
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>>4915506
ITS JUST A 1 IN 100 CHANCE, BRAH
IT'S NOT EVEN THAT HARD
>>
Rolled 42 (1d100)

>>4915514
FUCK YOU BASEMENT SWELLER, I HAVEN'T DONE MY SACRIFICES YET!
>>4915511
Might give her the wrong impression, and there is no telling we'd be able to hold off at one if we start.
>>
>>4915427
>Write-in
Don't come back home with pictures make deposit either in a bank or post office
>>
File: Fuck you, I'm out.gif (2793 KB, 240x135)
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>>4915516
>>
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Rolled 3 (1d10)

>>4915516
OH NO NO NO NO
HERE YOU GO
EASY PEASY LITTLE BABY
>>
Rolled 9 (1d10)

>>4915524
>>
File: Congratulations.gif (408 KB, 498x366)
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>>4915527
There you go. I knew you could do it, champ.
>>
>>4915464
Shut the fuck up bro. Shut the fuck up bro.
>>
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>>4915602
Fucking parrot. Use proper syntax.
>>
>>4914135
Only a temporary fix. Eventually, she can't get knocked up anymore and maybe if we are really lucky she would have cooled off by then. From the sounds of it, she is a hardcore variety of supervillain and we exist as a likely part of her cover identity. Unsurprisingly it failed in the long run. This means we're in deep shit because her cover is now blown and since we are not in the game we cannot be trusted.

>>4915460
Kind of cheating to be honest since we know OOC that she isn't going to kill us. Mort though is fucked. It won't be hard for her to find out who found proof considering he's magically on vacation. Will likely get dragged into a huge mess though as how can we be trusted without getting dirty too? Can't play straight and dumb anymore.
>>
>>4915613
> Guts pic
> RIP in piece, you overworked mangaka
>>
>>4915460
Seems fine. Just a single drink to savour, don't want to lose our edge.
>>
What's with the retard slapfight
>>
>>4915807
That's if we mess up our talk with her so badly it gets to that point. Or her bosses do it instead.
>>
>>4915613
Faggot bitch. Don't say stupid shit to me again.
>>
>>4915985
The issue is we aren't dirty enough or involved in their game enough to be trusted. We have plot armor but Mort is fucked. All thanks to us belonging to her clean identity and having a connection to their enemy that can be pursued. We got used regardless the question is if the kid gloves will come off or not. Which considering this is a quest its a safe bet their coming off.
>>
>>4916003
True, but if we can prevent them from finding out in the first place, and get our wife out, we can either get a plea deal and ditch the captors, then leave to Guatalara and hide for awhile. Maybe fake our wifes death?
>>
>>4915460 >>4915468 >>4915487 >>4915520
Closed. Update imminent. Didn't expect you guys to play your hand so quickly, but I like it.
>>
>>4916017
This is 4chan. We don't do gentle subtlety here. Largely because we're horrible at it and anything resembling the matter usually results in paranoid shadowruns which usually are incredibly obvious in their attempts at secret-keeping.
>>
>>4916015
That is assuming she wants out which as a quest obviously means it won't happen even if she agrees. She does have poor taste in men for that line of work. You're supposed to date people in a similar line of work to prevent these kinds of fuckups. At least she has classic romantic tastes instead of villainous. The real question is what will happen with her people since she is part of a group and her reason for being a member. She is one hell of a cold hearted bitch for dating someone whose parents your people murdered but that is definitely a classic villain behavior. So OOC props for that IC damn one cold hearted bitch alright also still stupid in love so apparently, the shit tastes in love are mutual.

In my opinion it's more about damage control and desperately trying to not get dragged too deep in the shit. Which I know is hopeless but makes sense in character. At least we get to look forward to feel like what it means to be the damsel in distress in reverse trap form and what it's like to be a true villain's love who they actually care about.

>>4916022
Hey now shadowrun tier paranoia is a classic and autistic for a reason anon.
>>
>>4916017
I'm kind of running off of what anons did in another quest, Fuck Me, My Daughter's a Magical Girl!

Of course, that one ran off of anime logic rather than superhero comics logic, and the cast list got pretty convoluted at the end, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.
>>
>>4916027
>So OOC props for that IC damn one cold hearted bitch alright also still stupid in love so apparently, the shit tastes in love are mutual.
That's still working on the assumption she's working for them willingly, we might have been a hostage the entire time, and didn't even know it, like every bad day we've had was them.
>Which I know is hopeless but makes sense in character. At least we get to look forward to feel like what it means to be the damsel in distress in reverse trap form and what it's like to be a true villain's love who they actually care about.
We survive the coming weeks we start working out like a madman, John Wick style training, and loot guns from criminals. Build up an arsenal. Then we swing in, "kidnap" our wife after she pretends to be knocked out in a battle, and run. Whatever comes after that is up for debate if we survive.
>>4916034
I still have the archive saved. Dealing with all those horny girls was a nightmare.
>>
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>>4915996
>>
>>4916058
You want me to kill you? Dude, you're a fraud and everyone here knows it. Go die before you really shame your father faggot bitch.
>>
Superstar’s main offices are located in one of the biggest structures in the world, the Newborn building, owned by one of Superstar’s biggest clients, Olympus, the third largest superhero development agency in the world. The smooth, pointed obelisk of chrome, steel and exotic supermaterial you’d need another five years of schooling to understand, stands like a defiant finger pointed toward the heavens. Shiny, bubble-shaped elevators speed silently up and down its surface like giant raindrops, providing, if the rider is so inclined, an unobstructed view of the entire city all the way to the western bay on one side, to Scarsberry bridge on the other, currently closed for repair.

Your office is located on the 145th floor. It’s a relatively small room, a side-office, instead of a corner, furnished with a desk, a filing cabinet and a small couch. Your assistant Alice sits right outside your door at a smaller desk, working a phone and a desktop computer. She was a hand-me-down from one of the executives who had left the company, given to you temporarily while company looked for some place to put her. After about a month she had become so indispensable that you eventually convinced the higher-ups to leave her with you and they happily obliged.

“Mr. Gardner,” she says, standing up from her desk and moving to help you with your coat and then following you into your office to rattle off the day’s messages and reminders. “You have a two o’clock with Mr. Crawley and then a five o’clock with Dr. Rosenbaum – which he wanted to reschedule for five-thirty, but I told him no because you also have a meeting with the marketers from Lirito-Fays at six thirty, and you won’t be able to make it in time, that is, assuming the usual rush hour traffic. I’ve laid out the shirt you requested – I wasn’t sure of the extent of the damage, so I took the extra precaution of laying out some accompanying ties as well as a pair of trousers. I’ve just put on a fresh pot of coffee, and should have a cup ready for your momentarily. Is there anything I get for you in the interim?”

Alice waits expectantly with the little spiral pad and the carpenter’s pencil she always carries, like an up-and-coming journalist looking for a fresh scoop. She looks like what you imagine a finely made Italian luxury automobile would like, if it was a woman. Every bit of her, from her sleek, designer suit, to the severe bun atop her head and the tasteful bit of zebra-striped silk around her neck, screams prim and professional. A Ferrari in the flesh. When you were entertaining thoughts of vengeful adultery, she was the first woman that came to mind, not least because there were unsavory rumors still lingering about her and her previous boss. Naturally, your wife hates her.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” she says, tapping her pad with the pencil. “Your wife called earlier. I wasn’t sure what you wanted me to say…” She watches your expression carefully.

CONT.
>>
“You did fine. I spoke to her a while ago.”

“Oh, well, that’s a relief.”

You begin rifling through your desk, looking for the scrap of paper on which you had written down Mord’s private number. You’ll need to call him before you do this; create some kind of failsafe.

“Anything I can help with, Mr. Gardner?” asks Alice, stretching her head to the side to peek.

“What?”

“Are you looking for something?”

“Yes,” you say, continuing your search. “A slip of paper, with a phone number on it.”

“Was there a name on the slip?”

“…Yes, I think so.”

“Mordecai Borowski?”

You stand up too quickly and bang your head against one of the opened desk-drawers, which inspires a litany of curses. Alice rushes to help you up and then tries to run off to get you some ice, but you hold her fast.

“Where’s the slip? You have it? You took it?”

She lifts the shirt on the table. Underneath is the sticky note with Mord’s name and number.

“Are you alright, Mr. Gardner? You don’t seem yourself today.”

“I have to leave early,” you say, carefully testing the integrity of your skull around the wound. No blood. “Family emergency.”

“I hope everything is alright. Has someone been hurt?”

“No,” you assure her. Then you snatch the slip from the desk, your coat from her arm, your bag from the sofa and begin walking back to the elevators as fast as humanly possible without also looking like you’re about lose control of your bladder. Alice follows at your heels.

“Should I cancel all the rest of your meetings for today?”

“Yes.”

“But Mr. Crawley–”

You stop short. Mr. Crawley is one of the head executives of Superstar. The meeting with him today should be about your performance this quarter, something you’ve been looking forward to for the last six months, given all the extra work you’ve been putting in. Bailing on it now means kissing that promotion goodbye. But then you feel the photos in your suit pocket, the thumbdrive and the cellphone in your trouser’s pocket. No, this is more urgent.

“Reschedule it.”

“Reschedule it?” says Alice, as if you’d just asked her to eat live cockroaches.

“Tell him it’s a family emergency.”

“I don’t know if he’ll–”

“Please, Alice, just,” you sag, nearly collapsing from the weight of all that’s happened today, right there in the elevator bank. “Please.”

“A-alright, Mr. Gardner. Of course. I’ll do my best. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, Alice, just go home when you’re done. Thank you.”

CONT.
>>
Back in the car, the first thing you do is call Mord on the black cell. It rings for a painfully long time. “What’s going on bud? Change of plans? Didn’t expect you to call back so soon.”

“No, no change of plans…listen. Mord. If I don’t call you back in 48 hours assume the worst case scenario and take the necessary precautions.”

Mord doesn’t answer at first, instead you hear his wife in the background. “Mordy, where’s my bras? I can’t find any of them. I can’t find a single one of my bras! Where did you put my bras?”

“For christ’s sake Shel, why would I put your bras anywhere? What am I gonna do with your bras?”

“Well, where are they?”

“How the hell should I know? Did you check the hamper?” Silence.

“They were in the hamper,” says Shelly. “Why’d you put them in there?”

“I didn’t put them anywhere! You put them in there!”

“Do we have enough time for a wash, Mordy, you think?”

“No, we don’t have enough time for a wash! We’re running for our lives here, for Christ’s sake!”

“Well, you don’t have to yell at me!”

“Mord!” you say, “Listen to me. 48 hours. You understand?”

“Yeah, yeah. You want I call you?”

“No, I’ll call you. If I don’t…”

“I got that part. Are you sure you wanna do this, Mr. Richard? You might not like what you find. Maybe it’s better to just, I don’t know, forget about it.”

“That’s not possible.”

“Well, if you say so.”

“48 hours, Mord.”

“48 hours. You got it bud. Good luck.”

Next, you hide the slip with Mord’s name and number in the owner’s manual of your car. You then work on the pre-paid cellphone. You take off the back cover, looking for a SIM card, but this model doesn’t seem to have one, so you just take the out the battery and toss both it and the phone into a nearby storm drain. Then you drive home.

You and your wife live in the outskirts of the city, what would be considered the suburbs if not for its proximity to the Oaktown theater district. It’s about a forty-five minute drive from the Newborn building to the small two-story, one-family house, which you currently lease from Vicky’s father, a real estate mogul, and were saving to one day buy outright.

Your wife’s sedan isn’t in the driveway, which means she’s not back yet from her shopping trip. She usually likes to meet with her girlfriends for smoothies on Friday’s. Or, you now realize with horror, that’s a lie and she’s with Antimatter right now.

CONT.
>>
After a quick shower, you try to eat something, but having no appetite, end up pouring yourself two-fingers of a bottle of Jim Beam, with lots of ice. Vicky’s father had presented you the bottle last Thanksgiving. Vicky had put it in your kitchen cupboard, where it had remained, unopened, ever since. It goes down smoothly and leaves a sweet, cedary aftertaste, which you find you don’t entirely dislike. With the ice, it’s not quite enough to settle you down. But you don’t pour yourself another. You need to be completely lucid for what’s coming.

You put the photos on the low glass table in the living room and sit down on the couch. All around the house are pictures of you and your wife, smiling, happy. Pictures of your honeymoon at Niagara Falls, a cliche you had selflessly allowed because of her cloying insistence. Wedding photos. Her in the flowing, white-ribboned wedding dress, her hair done up in a crown, you in your father’s three-piece suit – something of a tradition in your family, your brother had gotten married in it himself – and the two of you looking at each other with a love that bordered on hunger. Your brother had approved of Vicky from the first time you introduced her. You’d only been dating her a month at the time but he had taken you aside to tell you to go out and buy an engagement ring. “This is the one, Dicky,” he had said. “Don’t wait. Life is short.” Of course what he didn’t know is that you already had the ring. You bought it after the third date. You were so in love you could not imagine any other possibility. Guess she had you all fooled.

But did she? Was she Redstar even then? Antimatter had been around since the beginning, since the Lord Justice’s heyday, the Golden Age of supers, so it’s not impossible. But if so, then what about her parents? Do they know? Are they in on it? If not, how could she hide it? From her own parents? And her powers – from what you remember, she’s got the basic package: flight, strength, invulnerability, regeneration – was she born with them? Or was she the result of some development program? Or maybe–

Your phone begins to buzz on the table. You pick it up. It’s from work.

“Hello? Alice?”

“Mr. Gardner, I’m so sorry to call you like this.” She’s whispering for some reason. “Mr. Crawley is in your office, he says he wants to speak with you. It’s urgent.”

“Did you tell him–”

“Yes, I told him you had left for the day because of an emergency but he insisted. I didn’t know what to do.”

“That’s all right, Alice. Put him through.”

CONT.
>>
A pause, then a jovial, and strongly accented voice greets you. “Richard, I just heard about the emergency. Terrible bad timing, my boy, but never mind. I trust all is well? Anything Superstar can do to help?”

“No, sir. It’s just a personal family matter.”

“I see. Well, I suppose you knew what was to be the topic of discussion for our meeting this afternoon?”

“Yes, sir, my quarterly performance.”

“Yes, and you’ll forgive me for saying this, but I really had hoped to do the meeting in person. Wireless communication is in the top ten of the worst evil’s mankind has ever committed in my opinion. Perhaps top five.”

“I’m very sorry, sir.” Just get it over with, you blowhard.

“Well, at any rate, we’ve been monitoring your performance quite closely this last quarter and we are, in brief, quite pleased. Yes, quite pleased indeed. In fact – oh this would have been much better in person, I had a few small surprises planned and everything – well, anyway, we’d like you to handle a new private client we’re taking on named, let me see here, Perihelia, well, that’s a mouthful isn’t it? Perhaps as your first assignment you can come up with a better name, eh?” He laughs.

“I’m–I’m being promoted? I’ll be an executive?”

“Oh, don’t sound so shocked, my boy, it should hardly come as a surprise. And, well, it’s not a real executive position, we won’t be putting your name on the building as it were. Think of it, instead, as a trial run. One with a considerable pay raise and a new office. Do well, and more shall follow. Ever forward, my boy, like Orpheus in the underworld: never look back.”

“When would I start?”

“The girl’s flying over – quite literally, I might add – tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? Well, I guess–”

“Obviously you’ll be taking tomorrow off, of course?”

“What?”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday, my boy. You know what they say about all work and no play. We want no dull workers here at Superstar.”

“Yes, sir.”

“But I haven’t heard your answer yet! I need a verbal confirmation, you know, for the men upstairs.”

It’s then that you hear the keys rattle, and the doorknob begin to turn. You didn’t even the car coming in.

“Darling, are you home?”

"Are you still there, Richard?"

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4916247
>"I'll take the promotion sir, my wife just got home. Have a good evening." But say it quietly.
>"Honey, can you come here real quick, we need to talk."
>Drink some of the melted ice from the glass, and get ready to kiss your wife.
>Start off with the good news.
Welp, this is either going to go well into horribly wrong. Go well then end in tears. Go well and end in tears that also might end up in holding each other sobbing before wild and desperate baby making commences.
>>
I'll be going down to an update/day as they are getting pretty long now (due to all material in the write-ins).
>>
>>4916255
+1
>>
>>4916247

This sounds good. >>4916255

Let’s Go and make this work!
>>
>>4916255
That fits.
>>
>>4916255
+1
>>
>>4916257
Take your time.
>>
>>4916255
This
But maybe not start the baby making until we get this whole "mass murderer" thing sorted out
Kinda kill the boner
>>
>>4916402
Not if it's a fear boner sadly.
>>
>>4916255
This, and also make sure to be an adult. Don't accuse her of anything, don't get angry, don't try to lie (but don't just give away our buddy Mord either), and let her explain her side of the story.
>>
>>4916247
>>4916255

I am with him. Agree to the promotion, make a mental note to check who that new super is if we dont know her already.

Keep taking deep breaths, that releases relaxation hormones and oxygen in the brain means a bigger think. I read that in a book made of paper once. Give the wife a long hug with a squeeze and make a note of how she hugs back. We are visibly shaken, so if its long, hard and loving, then perhaps her marriage to us was not just a ploy, an alibi cover for her criminal activities. Perhaps she is equal parts lover and villain and we got golden opportunities here.

If its short and flimsy tho, we wasted the best years of our life on a hussy, lads.
>>
>>4916255 >>4916284 >>4916541
Closed. Update imminent.
>>
Think admitting that we know is a mistake, for if we are really just a cover there is nothing to stop her from snapping our neck and then call it in as an assasult
>>
>>4917371
If it's just a cover we're dead regardless.
>>
>>4917411
She is not gonna kill us so long as her cover woorks
>>
>>4917426
She'd have no reason to use us as a cover anyways. Unless she was hiding her powers for so long that the first to find out was Antimatter. Even then, she could just live fully as Redstar doing whatever she wanted, or not even that, she wouldn't need to marry us for anything. She could get someone else if she needed cover.
>>
You stumble to your feet. Now that the moment is upon you, you have the powerful urge to run away. You glance at the photos on the table. What if Mord is right? You’ve the got the promotion you always wanted. You can give Vicky the child she’s always wanted. Maybe that would curtail her activities with Antimatter. And then what? Just pretend like everything is fine? That’s it OK to live with a supervillain? To have a child with a mass-murderer? A terrorist? You leave the photos where they are, instead, you snatch the glass and drain the last of the bourbon left in the melted ice.

“Mr. Crawley, of course I accept the offer. And I’m very, very grateful for the opportunity.”

“Splendid! Then I’ll leave the details with your girl, Alice, shall I? I presume you’ll be taking her with you to one-forty-seven?”

The deadbolt on the front door turns and your wife steps into the living room, hugging two large bags of groceries to her chest.

“Yes, sir, that’ll be fine. I’m very sorry, but I have to go now. We’ll talk again soon.” You hang up the phone, toss it on the sofa, and move to help your wife take the groceries to the kitchen. A force of habit which persists even now, even when you know that she can probably juggle concrete trucks with one hand tied behind her back.

She leans in for a kiss and you return it automatically. “What a wonderful surprise!” she says, touching her hands together. She looks the same as always, the same green nailpolish that matches her eyes, the same auburn hair rolling down to her shoulders, the same freckled nose, the same warm and loving eyes. Nothing at all like Redstar. She begins busying herself with putting the groceries away, stopping for a moment to snack on a pickle, apparently stymied by the lid on the jar. She hands it to you to open and you do so without thinking, feeling a rage building inside as you watch her zip around.

“I have some good news,” you say.

“Oh?” She looks up from her crouched position by the crisper in fridge, in which she was stuffing a bundle of celery. “What is it?”

“I got the promotion.”

“The executive position?”

You nod. She squeals and rushes toward to cover your face with kisses. “I’m so happy for you, darling! You’ve been working so hard and it’s all finally paid off. And-and so…with the extra money…” She looks up at you, making a little circle with her finger on your chest, but her lips already pursed in preparation for disappointment. You gently push her away and move back into the living room. She follows you.

“I’m sorry darling, I shouldn’t have mentioned it just now. We can talk about it later. For now let’s celebrate!”

CONT.
>>
You sink into the couch. Your wife stands at the threshold between the kitchen and the darker living room. She sees the bottle of bourbon, the glass, and then the photographs. You slide the last of the three towards her. She hesitates at first, but then slides the photos to the edge of table, picks them up and begins shuffling through them, her face growing more and more severe, her eyes narrowing and gaining the fierceness of Redstar, with each picture.

“Where did you get these?” she says, with a trembling voice.

“So don’t you deny it, that’s good.”

“Richard. Who gave you these?”

You breathe slowly and deeply. You keep your jaw loose, your hands unfurled, resting them gently on your thighs. An old trick to relax the nerves, perfected from your days in high school as captain of the track team and in college as student president. It works now, as then, to keep you calm and collected. You don’t raise your voice. You don’t fidget. You look at her straight on, without pity, without feeling.

“You’re a supervillain. You’re Redstar.”

“Richard!” she says, slamming the photos down the table, her chest heaving. “Richard, darling–”

“Stop. Please just stop. Please.”

She purses her lips until they turn white, then lets out a long, audible breath. “Have you told anyone?”

“No.”

“No one else knows?”

“Just me. I took these.”

She stares into your eyes, trying to figure out if you’re lying. Or maybe one of her powers is mind-reading. In which case she’ll know in a second about Mord and will probably fly off to go take care of that loose end. But she doesn’t. Her shoulders drop. She’s so relieved that she has to lean back against the wall for a moment, to hold herself up.

“I guess that means I’m your only loose end,” you say.

“That’s not funny.”

“Who’s laughing?”

Silence. Then she steadies herself back on her feet and begins walking toward you. You don’t move a muscle, tracking her unflinchingly with your eyes. She sits down next to you and reaches for your hand but you brush it away. “Why did you do this?” she says, gesturing to the photos. “Spying on me? Explain yourself.”

You scoff. “I think, Lucy, of the two of us, I’m not the one who has some explaining to do.”

Her eyes soften and she reaches for you again but you stand up and move away, toward the kitchen boundary. When you look back, she’s scowling.

“You wouldn’t understand,” she says.

“Try me,” you say, folding your arms, at the same time thinking that she’s probably right.

“I did,” she says, after a long pause.

You unfold your arms. “What?”

“I did try, once. This isn’t the first time you’ve done this, Richard. You were always too smart for your own good. Too tenacious. And then, afterward, too principled.”

You brace the wall for support. “What are you saying? ‘This isn’t the first time’ – what does that mean? What does that mean?”

CONT.
>>
She looks down at the table and says nothing. You go back to the breathing exercises: keep the jaw relaxed, unfurl the hands, a warm day at the beach, you’re on a hammock. It’s a warm day at the beach.

“I don’t understand how this could have happened,” Vicky mutters, looking through the photos again. “I was so careful. And you aren’t supposed to have those kinds of thoughts anymore.”

“What did you do to me? You did something. If you’re going to kill me anyway, I have a right to know. Tell me that much before you do it.”

She looks at you as incredulously as if you’d just admitted you’re secretly Lord Justice. “I can’t kill you,” she whispers.

“Because you’re not allowed?”

“Because I love you.”

“No,” you say, warning her with a finger. “No. Everything. All of this. The last six years. This marriage. This house. It’s all a lie. A sham. You never loved me,” you say. You say it calmly, as if it were simple fact of nature, as if it didn’t even bother you, even though the mere utterance of it breaks your heart. “You never–” She’s on you before you can blink, leaping from the sofa and over the table and across the room in a single bound. She grabs you by the throat and lifts you bodily a foot off the floor, as easily as if you were a hamster. Then she slams you against the wall, choking you.

“How dare you say that to me?” she screams. “How dare you say that? I don’t love you? Do you know what I’ve–” She catches herself, breathing heavily. Her lower lip trembles. “If I didn’t I love you, you’d be dead right now,” she says, in a venomous whisper. “They would have killed you the first time around.” Then she lets you go. You sink to your knees, gasping for breath, blinded by tears of pain, anguish and, secretly, of relief. A few seconds later, your wife's footsteps sound on the staircase going up to your bedroom. You crawl over to the couch, pull yourself up and sit down, holding your head in your hands.

For some reason, all you can think of is your honeymoon, how beautiful your wife looked standing against the railing of the boat, as it passed next to that great rush of water, the tips of her hair wet from the spray, the smell of her nailpolish and her shampoo raising the little hairs on the back of your neck. And the long summer nights, in which you came together again and again, resting briefly to laugh and talk and dream and hold one another.

If she didn’t love you, you’d be dead right now. Do you dare to believe her?

She returns a minute later with a glass of water and a bottle of pills, both of which she places before you on the glass table. Pink little tablets in one those orange prescription bottles. The label on the bottle reads Ambien, 10 milligrams.

“Take two,” she says. “How much did you have to drink?” She weighs the bottle of Booker in her hand. “Two should be fine,” she confirms.

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
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>>4916163
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>>4917460
Ask her how it happend the last time. Ask her what is going to happen afterward and just what her plans are

Try and pretend to take the pills
>>
>>4917460
> How many times has this happened before?
> If this has happened before, logic would say it's going to keep happening. So let's try to deal with this like two mature adults, instead of sweeping it under the rug and making me forget again.
>>
>>4917460
>"Honey? Do you know really want to know why I took these pictures?"
>"It wasn't because I thought you were a supervillain, it's because, and may got strike me down if he sees fit, cheating on me."
>"Coming home so late at night with a smile on your face, me being unwilling for so long to start our family until I was sure I could support us, for the rest of our lives, made me think I was loosing you."
>"So I pray my parents forgive me, because the only reason I haven't turned these photos over to anyone is because I still love you, even in spite of the fact you work for the same people that killed my parents, I was so relieved that you weren't cheating."
>Take one of the pills not breaking eye contact.
>"I didn't know what to expect when I confronted you this afternoon. The fact this happened before, or the fact you know someone messed with my memories.
>Grab her shoulders and make her look us in the eye
>"So tell me, how long has this gone on, how long has it REALLY been, is the happiest years of my life a lie?"
>"Are you going to make me regret spending the rest of our lives together?"
>"I'll let the fact you knew someone messed with my mind slide for now, just answer this question."
this too>>4917485
>>
>>4917485
I say we are better off pretending to be affected by the pills, then train that new superhero we will become repsonsible for to take her down
>>
>>4917460
>...could you shift to your picture for a bit? I want to see you. Really see you for you.
>Vic, why, exactly, are you playing house with me? In general, too, actually?
>You're a super. You literally have super powers. You can have your pick of either side of the morality isle, people who are smarter than me, stronger than me, can shoot fricking laser beams from their eyes, control the cosmos, have doctorates in things that I cannot for the life of me even spell, and a decent number of them have actually come back from being dead. Why are you sticking around with the human equivalent of white toast?
>Your parents. They know?
>Was this... (waves arms around vaguely) part of anything?
>What about the whole child thing?
>>
>>4917485
+1
>>
>>4917495
That is probably the reason why we got mindwiped in the first place, so lets not.
>>
>>4917485
>"Insanity is doing the exact same thing over again and expecting different results. But this isn't really about that, it's about...

>...us. Why...why get involved with this? Why cause so much pain- why...

>...why my parents?"
>>
>>4917460
+1ing>>4917497
>>4917507
these too.
>>
Hopefully these questions can be condensed a bit.
>>
>>4917507
This
If it seems like she's going to mind wipe us or anything then take the pills but leave them in your mouth without swallowing them, tell her that you can't stand to be here, walk outside to the car, and shoot yourself in the thigh with the glock in the glove compartment
This way some people will see/hear this and call the cops/an ambulance. Redstar wouldn't want to reveal herself so she wouldn't come out as a supervillian and we can go to the hospital safely where the super we're going to be in charge of may come in to check on us
If no one comes then we escape the mind wiping and superstar has a *very* interesting thing to cover up/investigate
>>
>>4917531
Reason for not taking the pills is they could be a mind wipe. Ambien isn't pink at 10 mg
>>
>>4917531
seems a bit farfeetched for us to be able to
>>
>>4917539
Worth a try if we genuinely think there's a mind wiping we need to escape
>>
>>4917531
Gonna suggest against that. She mentioned something about

>"They would have killed you the first time around.”

Keyword 'They'.

Meaning that likely she took a deal to mindwipe us in exchange for our continued life. Likely we already found out what she's up to before, tried to either get her out of it and blow the whistle on them or something else, and basically screwed up, so they know we know- or knew.

The major question here now is, was she a supervillain before she met us, or did this only happen afterwards and we discovered foul play? And if she was before, then how bad was she compared to now?

I won't get too in the weeds with my theory, but she's at least reluctant on some level. We need to see what information we can wheedle out of her. I know, again, that 4chan isn't really good with being subtle, but unless we do that (or at least try) we're likely to get stuck between Scylla and Charybdis in regards to people who want to tie up the potentially dangling thread that is us. Gotta be careful to notice context and use some critical thinking skills, people.
>>
>>4917545
Also seems like she did try to recruit us after the first time but we rejected it
>>
>>4917531
>>4917538
>>4917541
What part of, she isn't the one that did the brainwashing did you not get? Making a giant, obvious scene like that would tip off any snitch that is watching our house.
>>
>>4917545
Some people are just way too quick. Like >>4917495

It's stupid. It's very clear that she still loves us, there is literally no other reason she'd go through the length of mindwiping us otherwise. We need to be serious and talk with her the WHY.

Don't jump the gun and go screaming to the heavens about it.
>>
>>4917497
Yeah, just throwing my hat into the ring, don't take the pills. Or at least say you'd perfer the Melatonin ones, in case these aren't actually sleeping pills.
>>
>>4917548
I suggested not taking the pills because i believe them to be the way she mindwipe us
>>
>>4917546
Ah, right the 'too principled' part. Good catch.
>>
>>4917485
Supporting
>>
>>4917547
My objective isn't to get away. It's to not get mind wiped, and if dying means no more mind wipes it may be worth it
Also did you not read how I said that he'll only do what I said if he genuinely believes that he's going to get mind wiped
>>
>>4917550
Yeah, but "and then we'll train the heroes that'll take her down"?
>>
>>4917587
More of a long term idea. And rather than train i meant more like support. Used the wrong word there.
>>
>>4917588
Actually, what about planning a heist on some company whose CEO is a Tony Stark type, making super suits? Our brother Phil works as some sort of aerospace engineer, surely there's some hidden power armor projects he might be working on.

Unless, of course, he's the Iron Man expy... What do we know about that scholarship he got? Could our parent's murder have been in retaliation for him acting as some sort of Boy Wonder to notBatman?!
>>
>>4917538
The ambien being pink was a typo, I didn't realize the 10mg tablets aren't also pink.
>>
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>>4917619
ah
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>>4917607
We are supposed to be an average Joe. I dont think being a superhero ourself would fit with the nature of the quest,
>>
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>>4917460
Not that I'm familiar with the setting, but I doubt that those pills alone are capable of erasing and rewriting a person's memories however they could be something to incapacitate us.
She went upstairs, she could have contacted an associate skilled in telepathy and memory editing.
If that's how this works then they could discover Mord while tinkering with our mind. If they get to Mord then the information he collected won't be passed onto Superstar when we inevitably fail to call him back.
The best way to protect Mord, and by extension ensure Redstar is brought to justice, would be to kill ourselves.
We have a pistol stashed in our car's glovebox. A single shot directly at the cranium would be best, to ensure that no information can be harvested post-mortem.
Richard is an ordinary man, but he can die as a hero.
>>
>>4917682
I'd rather this not be a one shot, y'know.
>>
>>4917682
Good build up but poor execution. If you ended it with "an hero" it would have been a 10/10, but because of this you get a 5/10.
>>
>>4917699
I don't know what hippie dippie schizo shit you're on that makes you think otherwise but 'a hero' is correct
>>
>>4917729
Fucking new fags can't 4chan.
>>
>>4917743
there's no point, anon
>>
>>4917785
Yeah you're right
>>4917729
Sorry man. I forget that most people who are on here aren't old enough to know the old ways
>>
>>4917485
>>4917497
>>4917507
+1
>>4917490
+1, but don't take the pill. Don't try to trick her into thinking you took it, either. Just tell her that you both need to be clearheaded for this.
>>
>>4917490
Also +, sans taking the pill.
>>
>>4917729
An hero is....wait do I have to tell newfags what these means? Lurk moar faggot.
>>
>>4917485
Supporting!
>>
>>4917729
lol pathetic
>>
>>4917485
That seems right.

We are mostly in shock and in anger, so we're going to have to deal with this properly this time
>>
>>4917460
THE DRAMA
>>
damn
now i want "your wife is dark lord" quest
>>
>>4918250
There was one on here where a princess was forced to marry a dark lord. Ended up getting him to chill out, having a demon kid with him, lezzing out with our big tiddy maid friend and our formerly enslaved orc bodyguard, and becoming a dominatrix to the elven queen, her champion, and her bodyguard before OP disappeared into the mists.
>>
>>4917472
You must want to be hurt. Don't say anything else.
>>
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>>4918293
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>>4917729
1urk m0ar, newb
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>>4918297
Go back to RISK, Iceland.
>>
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>>4918293
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>>4918300
Shit. I've been found out.
>>
>>4918300
>>4918301
Ladies, please, you're both pretty.
>>
>>4918289
I seem to recall hearing somewhere that Amex jumped ship to Akun. If that's true, it's not really a surprise.
>>
>>4918289
That quest was garbage though. Completely unreadable unless you are a faggot. This quest has good writing and a compelling story though
>>
>>4913774
like what I'm seeing
>>
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>>4918301
Faggot bitch.
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>>4918694
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>>4918707
Faggot bitch.
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>>4918735
Relax
Have a duck
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>>4918744
You STFU.
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>>4918784
>quack
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>>4918735
>>4918784
>>
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>>4918795
>>4918796
>>
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>>4918854
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>>4918884
>>
>>4918854
>>4918911
>>
>>4918962
faggot
>>
Any ideas when OP will return?
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>>4919076
OP got drugged by his supervillain wife. He doesn't even remember writing this /qst/
>>
>>4919084
Happens to the best of us
>>
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>>4919072
this mans seething
>>
>>4919076
Maybe all the rampant shitposting chased him off.
>>
>>4919076
>>4919084
>>4919091
>>4919114
Apologies guys. Got caught off-guard by work today (trouble with working from home: you can take a 30 minute nap and wake up 3 hours later) and will have to post tomorrow instead. I'll make up for it with a second update tomorrow.
>>
>>4919205
No worries get your sleep questman
>>
>>4919205
Go to bed, wake up ready for tomorrow, and for our write ins.
>>
>>4919205
Godspeed bossman
>>
>>4919557
What he said.
>>
>>4919094
this mans fagging
>>
>>4917477 >>4917485 >>4917490 >>4917497 >>4917517 >>4917682 >>4918246
Closed. Update imminent.
>>
You take the bottle of pills in your hand. They’re prescription. Besides the fact that you can’t get Ambien over the counter, you can see Dr. Rosenbaum’s name on the label. And the bottle is only half-full. How long has your wife been taking these? She’s staring at your throat now and you can still feel the ghost of her touch, the broken vessels throbbing with a distant pain where her slender fingers have bruised your flesh.

“I’m relieved in way,” you say, clenching the pill bottle. “I thought you were cheating on me.”

“That’s stupid,” she says, hotly. Then she hangs her head and comes to kneel in front you, taking your cheeks in her hands, turning your head so that you’ll look at her. “How could you think I would ever do that?”

“You snuck out in the middle of the night and came home like it was business as usual. What was I supposed to think?” You tap one of the photos, the pile of them now scattered all across the table and floor. “It sure as hell wasn’t this.”

“What do you want me say?”

Seeing her eyes shining with tears, the tracks they’ve left on her cheeks, and the visible white strip of teeth as she nervously works her lip, touches you in a place that your rage and hurt cannot reach. And it makes you ashamed and afraid and, yes, even a little happy. Because she does love you. She does.

“Show me your other face,” you say, in a hoarse voice you hardly recognize as your own. “Your true face.”

“But, darling, this is my–” she begins to say, but seeing your eyes, seeing the twist of your mouth, she hangs her head again. Then she lets go of your cheeks, stands up, briefly touches the end of her nose with her knuckle to stifle a sob, but afterward turns her head up, almost proudly, and presses a spot on the side of her neck. The air around her face visibly shimmers for a second, like the quivering air above a hot road, and then your wife is gone and in her place stands a stranger.

“Happy?” she says. Even her voice is different now. It’s a little deeper, more throaty, more self-assured, the voice of a lawyer who’s never lost a case, or a businesswoman who’s just closed the big deal. “Now take the pills so we can get this over with.”

You’ve spent so long studying and loving that other face that, despite the differences, you can’t help but notice the little similarities. The same shape of the nose and cheeks, the hair still wavy, all the old mannerisms – the way she holds her hips with the palms turned up, or the way she carefully pinches away a stray lock of hair from her eyes, or the way she moves her weight from leg to leg in impatience, like a little girl who needs to use the bathroom – those parts that perhaps only you know, are still there. But even so, this version of her is a little easier to hate.

“Tell me about the last time this happened.”

“No,” she says, firmly.

CONT.
>>
“I’ll take the pills, if you’ll answer my questions,” you say. She considers this proposal, wondering at its truth. You’re not sure yourself.

“You said the same thing last time.”

“And did I?”

“No. You hid the pills in your cheek and I was forced to knock you out.”

“All the better. You can make sure this time around.”

She folds her arms, still hesitant.

“What does it matter?” you say. “I won’t remember any of it either way.”

“You said that last time too.”

“And it worked. Because it’s true.”

“I suppose.”

“So when was it?”

“On the day we got married,” she says, pausing a moment to watch your reaction. You’re thinking of wet sand. Little crabs scuttling in from the warm water. “You suspected before well then but you didn’t know for sure and you wanted to clear the air before we… and you sat me down and wanted to ‘put all the cards on the table’ and you were so insistent that I was afraid you might not go through with it, and so… I-I told you.”

“And then you wiped me so we could live happily ever after.”

“No,” she says. “That didn’t happen till after we came back from the honeymoon.”

You put the pill bottle down, gently, on the table, where it lands with a soft clack. “You’re saying I married you even after knowing who – what – you are? I went on a honeymoon after that?”

“Don’t worry,” she says. “It was only a front. You were secretly plotting to ‘rescue’ me from Communion and Antimatter the whole time. It was almost kind of sweet. Although Communion didn’t see that way. For what I asked of him, I was… but it doesn’t matter now.”

“What? What did he do to you? Did he hurt you? How?”

She just smiles sadly at you, which infuriates you all the more. You don’t know at what, at yourself for still feeling this way, or at Communion or Antimatter or whoever-the-hell for daring to lay a finger on your wife.

“They were going to kill you, Richard,” she whispers. “I couldn’t have that.”

“How long has this been going on? Obviously before we got married, but how long before that? Do your parents know? Are they even your real parents?”

“I’ve already said too much.”

“I guess you’ll have to knock me out.”

CONT.
>>
You watch her eyes drop to your throat again and she sighs. “I was nine when they brought me in. Every once in a while Antimatter would hit a human trafficking operation for fresh recruits. This was before Nighthawk got in the scene. The traffickers had already done the hard part of breaking us in, so we made for excellent recruits. I remember, when they put us in those horrible containers, I remember thinking – hoping – that I would just be a servant – I wasn’t the prettiest girl on the boat – but I also wasn’t the ugliest…” She looks into her darkened reflection on the big wall-mounted flatscreen. “Communion picked them out personally. He chose me for the development program. I wasn’t the best in the group – or the brightest – and he knew that and he still chose me. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.”

“Antimatter has a development program?”

“Sure. Why not? Communion invented most of the technology the supercorps use. We just don’t have their facilities.”

“So your parents…”

She shakes her head. “They don’t know. They’re lucky in a way. They’ve forgotten that their daughter died of leukemia thirteen years ago, when she was only twelve years old. They’ll never have to live in that reality because of Communion. And because of me.”

“So you just – you just took over her life? Just like that?”

“Of course not. You make it sound so easy. I had to train for months. Watch old memorytapes. Do you know how hard it is to reconstruct someone from the memories their parents or their best friends had about them? It took me two years before I could get it down pat, the walk, the talk, everything. Two years and I could fool even the dog. But it was bliss. To live in a house. To have parents that loved me. Parents that I also came to love. To go to school. God, I loved school. I loved sitting on the schoolbus and listening to the girls gossip about who kissed who and who wore what to where. It was bliss. And Antimatter didn’t ask for much at the time. Monthly check-ups. Homework. Exercises. I didn’t know why then but Communion seemed to think it was important for us to have a normal life. As normal as possible given the circumstances.”

“There are more like you in Antimatter?”

“Not any more. New recruits are hard to come by now. And it’s gotten harder to maintain cover because of their telepaths. None of them can match Communion, of course, but they can at least detect tampering. And Communion isn’t as… spry as he once was. He gets tired now. He was never a fighter like us.”

CONT.
>>
You sit in silence a while. Your wife looking off into space, reminiscing about her past, while you consider the future. It can’t go on like this. You can’t just let her wipe you again. You can’t let her keep working for Antimatter. And maybe you can’t stay married to her. Just the thought of it rips your heart in two, makes you even consider taking the pills and just letting this go. It’s only a passing thought though. You tried to rescue her before, and they made you forget, but the impulse remains.

“So in college, when we met, you were still in the fringes?”

“No, that was my first real mission.”

“What, me?”

She nods her head. “Well, not you exactly. It’s your brother we wanted.”

“Phil? What did you do? Did you mess with his mind too?”

“Of course not. It’s just surveillance. The original plan was to get with him.”

“He was married then.”

She nods. “You were just supposed to be the ‘in’, but somehow you… the plans had to be changed. Antimatter made me work for it but I’ve never wanted anything or anyone as much, then or since.” She smiles a little and it makes you sick to see that the two faces share the same smile, the same dimples.

“Why? You’re a super. You’re supposed to be with other supers.”

“That law only applies to heroes,” she says, still smiling. “And if you’re asking why you, why then, I don’t know. Maybe because of your sadness, maybe because of the way you hold it in so others won’t see it because you’re afraid of judgement, and your drive, and the way you can’t bear the suffering of others because you also suffer. I remember one time, I came to pick you up after one of your debate team competition things. I was late and in a rush, and in the hallway I see you with this girl. She’s sitting on the floor, crying into her hands and you’re sitting next to her, talking quietly, almost as if to yourself. I didn’t recognize her from the debate team and everyone else had already left. I didn’t know what to do. I was embarrassed for some reason, so I hid. But I couldn’t help picking up what you were saying and I realized that the girl had participated in the debate, but she was on the other team. They had lost and it was because of her and they had all blamed her for it. And you were trying to cheer her up by telling her about all your screwups. And it worked. You got her to laugh and she hugged you and she went away smiling. Maybe it was then. I remember I felt this pit in my stomach, this thing I’d never felt before, a despair, a fear, a different kind of fear, that maybe you might walk off with her and I’d never see you again. I’ve given up trying to figure it out. The human heart is an enigma.”

“They didn’t blame her,” you mumble, looking down at the photo of your wife shaking hands with Communion. “She blamed herself. When other people blame you, you get angry. It’s only when you blame yourself that you cry.”

CONT.
>>
She walks over to your side, grabs one of the couch cushions, pauses, then cautiously touches your arm. “We were never going to hurt your brother. And we aren’t going to either. I won’t let them.”

“Why do you need him? He has nothing to do with supers. He’s a rocket scientist for god’s sake.”

She remains silent.

“… isn’t he?”

“I’ve said enough. Too much. You’ve even got me monologuing.” She reaches for the pill bottle, takes out two pills and drops them into the glass. They stream bubbles as they fall. She pushes the glass toward you.

“What are you going to do after this? Keep killing? Keep destroying? Take over the world?”

“Maybe the world is better off in our control. And yes, there’s always some collateral damage.”

“Like my parents?”

Grim silence.

“I had nothing to do with that mission,” she finally whispers. “If you believe nothing else, believe that.”

“It doesn’t matter. You still work for them. Every time you try to blow up a bridge or kidnap a senator there’s collateral damage. Another little boy loses his mom or dad. A mom and dad loses their little girl. You want to be a mother so much. Why can’t you understand the pain you’re causing?”

She has nothing to say that, but her eyes and jaw are set with determination. There is no remorse in them.

You pick up the glass. “If I do this,” you say. “It’s just going to happen again. Your boss let you off the hook the first time when you decided to marry me, and the second time when you spared my life, and maybe he’ll even look the other way this time. But what happens when – and I say ‘when’, not ‘if’ – this happens again? Supervillains aren’t known for their patience or their mercy. And the next time, you’ll have to explain it to our child.”

Although her face betrays no emotion, she begins fiddling with the couch cushion, poking into its body and unconsciously breaking through its fabric as easily as if it were saran wrap and not layered cotton. But she holds her tongue.

“Fine,” you say, bringing the cup to your lips, gambling the greatest gamble of your life, doing it slowly to give her ample time. And just as your tongue tastes the first drop of water, she seizes your wrist and takes the glass away.

“You really didn’t tell anyone else? No one else knows? You won’t try to do what you did before? Promise me. Promise me. Convince me.”

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4920167
feel like telling her "That is for you to find out" then take the pills. Just a small payback, a small measurement of power in this one sided situation.
>>
>>4920167
>Write-in
Drink the whole glass, say nothing.
The next time we figure this out, we got her where we want
>>
>>4920167
>>Write-in
Yes that other guy.

And here is a list of things I need to do when I wake up. I also want a triple cheeseburger. I haven't eating for hours.

>Swallow pills
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>>4920167

Okay, so here's the problem:

What do we DO? The problem in this situation is that it's kinda lose-lose-lose all the way down when you think about it.

Option 1: We do nothing and retain our memories, then she continues being a mass murderess and terrorist, and considering our defined personality, that kills us inside emotionally, causing us to fall out of love with her. Eventually, that causes us to probably either live in a loveless marriage, or try to run away or divorce her, VERY likely leading to our death.

Option 2: We take the pills and remove our memories. Quest essentially over as the cycle continues barring her having some fucking heavy change of heart, which is unlikely since she's been in this game since childhood.

Option 3: We do not take the pills and secretly rat her out. The bad guys know us and where we live, we get killed, and of course hated by our wife before death, and I find it unlikely that protective services work well enough to stop supervillains 100% of the time.

That's really the big three options, unless I'm missing something incredibly obvious. Really, the problem is that our wife is a legit danger to humanity, life, and free will. What she wants is honestly nothing less than the total subversion of humanity and choice to her organization's ends. It'd be different if she was some silly Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain who basically inflicted property damage and little else, but no, these are serious, life ending threats. There Is No Happy Ending, from what I can see. It's just a matter of how selfish we are, and again, our pre-determined character tells me that we're not that selfish. Kinda selfish, but not enough to not feel immense guilt.

I'm kinda at a loss as to what to do here.
>>
Mord isn't going to stick his neck out. If we don't call him in 48 hours he'll assume we're dead and disappear forever, it's the thing he wanted to do in the first place. That and maybe call the cops on us. Is it possible to convince her that we have set up a series of such hidden traps? Enough that she has to leave us with our memories for at least a couple days? We need more time than anything.
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>>4920185
Oh, and all of that completely forgets about the fact that, should we NOT take the pills and let her continue this, then should the moment come where she is captured or detained and found guilty or killed, then WE ARE COMPLICIT IN AIDING A TERRORIST. We'd get a life sentence AT THE LEAST. At the worst, freed by an insider in her terrorist team, watched EVEN CLOSER, and ultimately in debt to them that way.

No good options, really.
>>
>>4920185
We take the pills and then we continue with our husband and work stuff intill we happen to find the USB stick we got with the information, and this time he doesnt confront her right away ?
>>
>>4920185
>>4920189
Same here and even if we take the mindwiping it's just going to happen again. Due to her shady activities, we will inevitably get suspicious and investigate...again. Assuming she even finds out about Mort in time before he makes the info drop. So we stay married so far the MC isn't someone who will be down for it. From the sounds of it, their evil organization is already in deep shit and is fighting a losing war. The issue is she is some kind of loyalist and doesn't see it that way. Even though she knows things aren't going well. So even if we also become a bad guy which she won't like because that means we 'changed' from the man she initially fell in love with also won't fucking work even when excluding the fact their organization isn't doing so good.

Unironically the only way to win is not to play but we already married her. Our only consolation prize is at least we haven't knocked her up...yet. There is no choice that doesn't end fucking badly. I mean she is only goddamn muscle and a true believer. So potential to reason with her or convince her to adapt/reform her group. So not even that is a goddamn option.

No matter what we choose to do or not to do we are honestly kinda fucked no matter what. There isn't even an option that is 'least bad' or the lesser of two evils.
>>
>>4920188
AND I completely forgot about Mord, who IS a loose end and could ruin literally every option EVEN WORSE if he decides to go to Superstar or public in general.

>>4920192
And then what? This whole conversation happens again. Just at a different time.
>>
>>4920195
We try to figure out a different plan instead of just approaching her, talk with some superheroes, use our new position at our company for tech or connections
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>>4920189
Well, that depends on if their telepaths can get inside her head, and that she doesn't have a contingency for that. If these pills can erase specific memories I wouldn't put it past the organization she works for to have each of their agents get a false tooth or subdermal implant that can erase all sensitive data from their mind if they're caught.
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>>4920192
Already did that the first time and didn't work. She did think it was sweet and adorable but yeah. Trying to rescue her or target her organization is nonviable.

>>4920195
I kinda like Mord since shit is fucked no matter what. Might as well go full nuclear you know? At least we got out like a hero assuming we survive, die, or only get mindwiped.

>>4920198
Heroes can detect mental tampering and with our promotion guess who gets a very close look at from their people to make sure we aren't compromised? We are so fucked.
>>
Starting to wonder if the mindwipes has diminishing returns, like its some knacking thought in the back of our head that we cant quite identify, Could see our thoughts of her having an affair was born from our old knowledge of her supervillainy

>>4920201
It would appear we tried that on our own. Know we got a whole superhero orginazation to our disposale
>>
>>4920201
Shit, that's right. Bring up that the fact that our mind has been tampered with and that we'll probably have to go through screening for that kind of shit! That'll at least leave us with our memory and the ability to act! We can decide of everything else later.
>>
>>4920167

>No, I didn't tell anyone. Who would I tell? Even as I realized what... who you were, I still knew that only you mattered. I... needed to know. Needed to hear you. Your... side.
>I believe you, Vicky... I believe how you feel. I believe what you are saying me. I believe you're being as genuine as... as you can be.
>I thought it's my fault, you know? That maybe it's my neglect of you that drove you to your... suspicious behaviour. Learning that you still care for me even after how we've been barely seeing each other, Day after Day.. it brought me enough joy and relief to almost make up for this... bizarre situation. But it made one thing very clear for me.
>I can't imagine my life Without You.
>No Matter What.

I just love Badfinger.
>>
Just to clarify, because I don't want this t influence your decisions: the pills are just Ambien. While there are mindwipe pills, they tend to work like rophynol, creating a total blank. For what your wife wants she'll need to take you to a telepath. A powerful one.
>>
I don't know about this. I mean, ratting out on Mord is a bad idea, he's definitely not going to rat out on us considering the kind of man he is, but simply taking it would just be kicking the can down the road.

But i feel like you people are overreacting when it comes to saying that if we don't do it, that we'll just fall out of love...seems to me like she's been indoctrinated, yes? We're messing with telepaths here, so, ultimately, 'Redstar' and 'Vicky' are different people. Obviously, ratting out on her is not a good idea, and neither is trying to 'rescue her'

I Think..Our best option might be to play the long game. Their leader is losing. Even if she does not see it that way now, it's obvious that the one thing we value more than the group is us. If anyone has any chance whatsoever of converting her, if not out of her indoctrinated line of thought, to the conclusion that he group is going to lose - then we might just be able to get her to stop.

I understand that this might not seem nice - after all, we're still marrying a terrorist, but butting our head against the wall is going to do nothing but leave us bloody.
>>
>>4920197
Then the bad guys realize 'hey, there's too much heat on Redstar, what's up with that?' first port of call is going to be us if they use their smarts a bit. And as >>4920201 said, we more or less tried that after a fashion.

>>4920198
I'm not even talking about that, I mean like, basic investigation shit. If they're smart they'll be able to puzzle out that Redstar can shapeshift to a limited degree, and it'll be easy to at least narrow down her 'civilian' face. From there it's just a basic grid/background search that leads to our door. Logical ending.

>>4920202
Possible. Sadly irrelevant, and only BAD for us, if true.

>>4920209
Appreciate the clarification, but sadly that doesn't change the core of the problem, nor does it really affect our options- or lack thereof, in a way.

I'm still trying to think, but so far I got nothin' that's anything more than essentially spitting in the wind or a full field Hail Mary.
>>
>>4920209
Ah, so the pills are a non-issue. Well, I still support my most recent proposal >>4920203
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>>4920202
>>4920203
Our mind has already been tampered with by supervillains there isn't a chance in hell the superhero organization will trust us much as we are 'compromised'. They will take our info and might try to 'reverse' the damage. So...yeah it's not gonna end well. Not to mention the fact that our wife is a goddamn supervillain and we managed to get that high up..is a HUGE security break and risk. Our career is turbo fucked even if they give us a medal for being a hero. It's a goddamn consolation prize.

If our mind hasn't been tampered with we might have been able to bullshit it because the heroes will respect our want for privacy in our minds but they would still check for damage/tampering. We cannot hide the tampering that has already been done and won't be able to bullshit it away as a need for privacy.
>>
>>4920216
>>4920213
THe only other alternative is to lay down and die, but that is simply not an option
>>
Taking us to a telepath is a big problem because it means that other people will *know* that we did it again. What are the chances that they just decide 'he's doing it too many times, let's cut the loose end before the house falls on us'

I'm really starting to think our best bet is to not get our mindwiped, promisse we won't act out against her, and then, rather than rat her out, to find a way to play this passively
>>
>>4920221
DOnt think the wife will give us an option on the matter, all i think we can do is that it will happen and we play it from there. We could always just pick the "Continue" option.
>>
>>4920212
We've ALREADY had massive heartache because of the revelations. Our character is clearly not someone who can sleep soundly with this kinda thing hanging over his head. And it's not a matter of just 'oh, she got mindwhammied', it's that she's essentially been raised in this organization since CHILDHOOD. She's not under special coercion, she's just been straight up raised in their system and 100% believes in it. IS there a chance she could be shaken out of it? Sure. Is it likely? Exceedingly not. The stories you hear in the news are news specifically BECAUSE it's so rare. Redstar was probably more Redstar before she was Vicky.

Like I said, if we do nothing, we'll likely fall out of love IN that long game you propose. Will it happen instantly? No. But either 1: we just desensitize ourselves to the atrocities she's done, in which case I'd consider that a loss, and as stated, she'd likely not appreciate the kind of person we'd become, or 2: we become so depressed at her actions we can no longer take it, and we'll resolve it, in whatever way that might be, whether it be ratting her out and accepting eventual death, or just shooting ourselves and being done with the mental torture.

It's not a good look. And yet again, if we keep our memories, we're aiding and abetting a terrorist. If their group gets stopped and they're all brought in, then we're not long for freedom, either- regardless of if she's executed for Crimes Against Humanity or not.
>>
>>4920219
I mean, yes. That's the problem. That IS the only other option. It's all bad options. Many of them long-term leading to potential death.
>>
>>4920228
So we take the pills and gamble we find the option to do something about it the next time then ?
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>>4920219
The issue is we are grasping at straws and all the options are terrible. Considering how the wife is fucking hard mode option for supervillains. Only could be worst if she was the mind rapist in question which is hell mode. on the plus side, we know our mind has been tampered with so when our company does its check up we aren't caught by surprise.

>>4920221
Every option is a big fucking problem. The best idea I got is to play passive and try to convince her to start thinking for herself instead of just being dumb muscle. This has already been proven given her desire for family which ran against the organization but she forced it through anyway. Indicating she holds rather strong maternal instincts and pair bond with us albeit twisted. However that doesn't actually fix her evil nature and grooming from childhood. It just makes it more likely she will wise up about how to be more within her interests and how the organization she is part of isn't doing so good.

Still not a very good pick because it's more trying to guide her evil rather than redeem it over so still a shit option for the MC, but would allow the wife to potentially evolve or experience her own breakthrough. It still wouldn't solve how badly it will bother the MC or many other problems. Only make it more likely that she will reconsider things within her own specific interests which gives us just a bit of breathing room.
>>
We should ask her why she wants to get pregnant. Wouldn't that take her out of the game for 1 to 10 years depending on their 'maternity leave' policy? Which I'm assuming they have, since I doubt our wife is going to risk her baby doing missions while pregnant.
>>
I'm wondering if we could try to get her to reform this supervillain organization from the inside out. What exactly are their goals and motivations? We could try to shift their methods from blowing up subway stations to campaigning for city hall.
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>>4920232
Honestly? At this point, even taking the pills is a bad option leading to death? Why?

Because Mord. If he rats us out, then our wife knows we BSed her, and her organization knows we're too clever by half. She won't be able to protect us anymore, and may not want to (although she might, but still). Point is, our life becomes under sincere and sustained threat. And even then, since we'd forget most of this, we'd just be back to square one AGAIN. It's not a matter of 'oh we remember this and try again' like a rogue-lite. We'd be RPing in the fashion of 'we just woke up and remember none of this'.

And obviously if we come clean and tell her, she puts out a hit on him, he dies, Superstar gets suspect about why their retained PI just died/disappeared and starts sniffing around. Go to Jail/Death, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.

It's a shitshow no matter how we try to dress it up.
>>
>>4920236
Also we should remember that in the QM NOTE it's mentioned that this universe runs on comic book logic, so we might be able to use genre savviness to move things in ways that wouldn't always be rational or expected.
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>>4920167
>"Yes, I told someone. But you won't find them, they already ran."
all these fuckers overthinking this shit
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>>4920225
>IS there a chance she could be shaken out of it? Sure. Is it likely? Exceedingly not.
The question here is not about shaking. More about weak, gradual pull. The way you send a gravitational probe to divert an incoming asteroid.

Obviously the pull can work in both ways. But I'd say this sort of balancing act will be what OP has in mind for this story premise.

There will be arguments, there will be compromising and there will be questionable things done navigating between love and principles. Will we manage a redemption arc eventually, fall to darkness ourselves, or witness or even cause her to die or get imprisoned? Tune in for the next episode...
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>>4920242
I do agree that people are overthinking it and that this quest is running on comic book logic rather than just normal logic.

But i guess we could offer our wife a deal, she let things be and dont mindwipe us and we give her that baby
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>>4920225
>IS there a chance she could be shaken out of it? Sure. Is it likely? Exceedingly not.
Do you have a better plan? Because so far, this is the only 'chance' we have of so much as winning in this situation.
> we'll likely fall out of love IN that long game you propose.
I disagree.

The problem here is that you're rushing ahead. You seem to think that there's only two options, accepting it or being all sad and ratting her out to the heroes or killing ourselves or something.

That's fucking stupid. WE Control ourselves. We don't need to act like fucking children, who don't understand the situation. She was raised in this system - her leader is LITERALLY A FUCKING TELEPATH. To say he's used this on such an power like her is not just a guess, it's an certaintiy. Anyone who knows of this situation should be able to understand that Vicky is not Redstar.

We're supposed to be acting SMART. And the only way to act SMART. Is to convince her that she's fighting a losing battle. Soon enough her leader's going to kick the bucket, and there'll be nothing left but ashes and death. So we convince her that the smart thing to do, is jump out of the train before it derails into the fucking valley of death
> If their group gets stopped and they're all brought in, then we're not long for freedom, either- regardless of if she's executed for Crimes Against Humanity or not.
abloo-bloo bloo, because obviously the only way to do anything other than stand still is to rat her out.

This is the only option that leads to anything other than horrible death. If we accept a mindwipe, who's to say antimatter won't decide we're too high a risk? If we scream against it and kick the ground, we'll ALSO Die.

THINK For a while. You people aren't thinking.
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>>4920237
I'm pretty sure they want to blow up City Hall and remake it in their own image. Again, they want the WORLD, not just a spit of land they don't have absolute dominion over. And yet again, she is DEEP into this. Has been since CHILDHOOD. She believes in them whole-heartedly and accepts and even believes their killing and terrorism as necessary, so I doubt she'd want to reform them. Strongly doubt.

>>4920236
That's presuming she doesn't want to groom her child into a mini terrorist like she was. She trusts them and would likely spin their actions as necessary. I don't think I'd feel comfortable leaving my child with someone who's a deep believer in a terrorist cabal, do you?
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>>4920244
One problem with offering the baby is that we were planning on doing that anyways. We'd have to offer something that she wants but we weren't previously willing to give her.
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>>4920245
I'm absolutely thinking, I just figure you're too optimistic and not wanting to take all the variables into account. Sometimes the likely outlook is just a bad one.
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>>4920238
Which is why we CAN'T GET MINDWIPED.

If we don't get, we can still deal with Mord without killing him.
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>>4920249
We have been holding out on her on having the baby, and we still are, remember when she tried to push the question when she came home and we gave her a none answer. She could have it right now if she wants, unless she will try to force herself on us while we are passed out or mindwiped
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>>4920252
That sounded a lot less aggressive in my head and I probably shouldn't have wrote it. I apologize.
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>>4920252
It's not about being optimistic, it's about TRYING TO NOT GET SCREWED

You keep moaning about how every option is a bad one, but when a good option, though unlikely, comes up, you just say it's 'too unlikely'.

THIS IS the best option. But i guess you'd just rather be overly dramatic, weep about everything and die. Either find a better solution, or take the one where we don't end biting the barrel of a gun.
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>>4920256
If she was willing to do that she would have already done it, and we were waiting until we got the promotion and presumably had the money for a kid. Which we just got. If she mind wipes us, assuming nothing goes wrong we'll probably give her a kid within the year.
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>>4920178
>>4920179
The pills are just meant to incapacitate us, we can infer as much from what Redstar has told us. The actual memory editing will probably be done by Communion, and if he's as good as Redstar claims then he will discover that Mord also knows Redstar's secret when he is sifting through Richard's mind.
If we allow that to happen then we'd give Antimatter an opportunity to plug this information leak before Superstar gets wind of it but more importantly we'd endanger Mord, his wife, and potentially also our wife.
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>>4920257
It doesn't sound aggressive to me, but that's not the point, moaning about how sad it is and about how bad our position is won't stop them

Sometimes, you have to be pragmatic. Sometimes, you have to force yourself to understand that the world, even a comic book one, is NOT a light switch.

There's one option that ends with the possibility of less people dying, and it's the one where we continue to love vicky.
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>>4920255
I mean, yes. I was sorta pointing that out.

>>4920259
It's just I don't think it's the 'best' option, even out of a bad bunch, is where I think we're differing. I think they're all equally bad, and have as much chance of success if we were to try anything, which is to say, exceedingly slim.

So, I guess what I'm saying (and even I admit this sounds weepy and dramatic) is that I'll leave the throwing of the dice to you. I'm a bit too much of a coward to try in a quest like this. Best of luck, and I seriously mean that. You ARE trying something, at least.
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>>4920167
I forgot to add this directly

I'm voting for not taking the pills and convincing vicky that doing it is just going to lead to our doom. The Telepath is most likely going to see that we found out about it again, and then we're going to get murdered for being a loose end.

We promisse to her that, despite still not liking it, we're not going to rat her out. Our ultimate goal is to convince her to get out of this burning train before it arrives on death row junction.
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>>4920237
She thinks of herself as a muscle and not a thinker. Not to mention a true believer. The only in we have is her interest in family and love for us.

>>4920244
We need to get the traces of mind tampering ridden of too anon. Otherwise we are gonna get caught by the heroes when they check us to make sure we aren't compromised.

>>4920249
Overthinking her interests in us. For whatever reason we scratch her itch and get her jollies going. We know she has very strong maternal instincts and have a keen interest in love. So what can we offer to her that we previously weren't able to?

Noticed how touched she was when tried to 'rescue' her before? She doesn't mind if we know only if we care and don't try to ruin her thing. She actually adored our actions due to our love for her but got annoyed by it targeting her organization and evil interests.

See that is a way in. She wants that love and assurance for it. She wants that family and security of it. We know if she has to choose she chooses us over the organization which is why she butted heads with them over us. That is the way in but it means getting ourselves dirty so can we live with that? Can we use her maternal instincts and love against her?
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>>4920188
> Mord isn't going to stick his neck out. If we don't call him in 48 hours he'll assume we're dead and disappear forever
I thought the implication was that if we don't call him back in 48 hours then he would go to Superstar with the information he had collected.
Uprooting his life, severing all contact with his employers and dropping off the map makes no sense.
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>>4920272
We are pretty much her rock. We give her something to cling onto when times are hard and we are her giving her a sense of normalacy that she desperately crave
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>>4920273
Well Mord said he gave us all that he had. Unless he lied to our face and kept a backup of evidence just in case, though I don't think that's likely. He gave impressions of knowing he's out of depth here.
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>>4920272
Don't try to use our 'kid' as a bargaining chip, that's retarded.

We should use our child like an force. She's a believer in the cause, but she's not a zealot - she KNOWS her leader, the lifeblood of the movement, is getting older and older, she LOVES US, she WANTS to have a child

What do we do? We reassure that we, despite not liking it, won't rat out on her. We separate 'vicky' and 'redstar' (because they ARE different people - redstar is an identity created by Communion through a lifetime of brainwashing), we get Vicky pregnant, and we, slowly, but surely, convince her

But here's the thing, trying to play white knight and say "MURDER IS BAD!" wont work for a lifetime of indoctrination. Redstar may be a true believer, but that doesn't mean she's a moron. Convincing her that she's just dooming heself and her child by fighting a fight they have literally no way of winning whatsoever, convincing her that all those deaths ARE NOT Justified, but NOT from an "You're wrong" viewpoint, but from an "You will not win, stop making sacrifices that lead to nothing"
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>>4920261
>>4920185

Once again, I would like to advertise suicide by traumatic brain injury as a potential solution.
It provides the greatest chance that Mord will go undetected for the 48 hour grace period, and by extension that Superstar will receive key information exposing Redstar's identity.
This gives the heroes a chance to capture and imprison Redstar, which would keep her from harming others.
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>>4920273
In this >>4914118 post Mord asks if he needs to disappear, and he's already disappearing for a few days. I'm assuming that if Mord doesn't hear from us he's going to assume that the villains know about him and are coming after him.
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>>4920282
>yeah bro let's get rid of the one thing stopping the indoctrinated super terrorist from going absolutely shit crazy, that can't end wrong in any way possible
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>>4920282
Eh, it's meta, but I don't want the mc to die so that I can keep playing.
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>>4920275
Exactly and the organization knows this which is why they gave in. She is also obsessed over the concept of family and children. Which she is craving endlessly but is holding back because of us. So we do have a way in but it's dirty. Give her that assurance but don't go against her evils and organization...directly, but indirectly through her family. Does she want them involved when she knows things are going badly? Will she choose them or us? Does she want to stay fighting a losing battle when maybe she can do her own thing for her own personal interests and her family?

That is the way to get through to her. Eventually, she will identify more with her family and herself over the organization. As she now has new worries and concerns to think about it. Forcing her to think more for herself and what if we are there to support her through it?

>>4920279
The kid is gonna happen no matter what at this point even if she mindwipes us thanks to the promotion that was the only reason we didn't previously. As for how much we can fix her is debatable given how deep she is. We already know her love of us isn't entirely right but we don't yet know how she views other close persons to her.
>>
If we cant pick a choice i say we let it go with "Continue" and let the wife take the wheel for a bit and see where that leads us, then we take it from there.
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>>4920294
We do need to decide if we tell her about Mord. That's the big decision.
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>>4920278
He doesn't need evidence.
He is an employee of Superstar who knows who Redstar is.
All he need to do is tell them about it, and they can verify the information with their own investigation.

>>4920283
If he knows Antimatter is coming for him anyway to tie up loose ends then there is no reason not to leak the information.
In fact, giving the information to superstar takes pressure off him. Antimatter may still be coming after him, but for revenge instead of for enforcing operation security.
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>>4920295
She'll find out either way if we let her buddies brainwash us again.
The only distinction is whether it would be us telling her or Communion telling her. I will point out that the former option *might* convince her to postpone the brainwashing until she can capture/kill Mord.
She probably doesn't want to look incompetent in front of her associates.
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>>4920292
>As for how much we can fix her is debatable given how deep she is.
See, that's what i'm saying anon. You're not thinking about it in terms of gradient. When i say we can turn her, i don't mean 'fix her from her terorrist mindset'

When i say, 'fix her', i mean 'convince her to stop playing for the losing team'. Trying to bang our head against the wall and say MURDER IS BAD!!! won't work. She has zero regret for what she does because she believes completely and utterly in the cause - she believes that every dead person is 'worth it' if it means achieving her utopia.

So how do you fix her? It's simple, by removing the reason why it'd be worth for. If we can convince her that Antimatter will NEVER Win, we can get her to leave. And if we can get her to leave, Antimatter is going to collapse, and THEN we can deal with breaking her indoctrination.
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>>4920303
I'm figuring we'll get another prompt between now and the brainwashing, so we'll have more opportunities to tell her if we think we need to.
>>
I just caught up fully finally. What we need to do is ask her if she wants out of Antimatter. Not out of the life they've built for her; just out being a terrorist.
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>>4920335
Oh yeah, what IS her goal?

I mean, i still think that we should convince her to leave by ANOTHER manner....that is to say, by convincing her she's just going to end up dying and taking everyone with her for no reason at all because Communion is going to die and then everything's going to fall to the ground.

The Heroes are getting stronger, they have access to telepaths. Communion is getting weaker and weaker. If she can't get her utopia, why not at least get an happy family out of it instead of ending up dead in a ditch for no reason tat all?
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>>4920167
Convince her that its alright. Its the only way we can try to make things different and find a path to a happy life. MC resolves to figure a way to get her out of the supervillain business. Hes having a brainstorm of where to look. Like maybe he can research heroes that have lost their powers and how, if shes not super anymore then maybe she can just quit since she and Communion apparently have a pretty good working relationship. Hes meeting with a super on monday and maybe that hero could have abilities or knowledge useful to us. He could try to research telepathy and how to hold back thoughts if you are ever interrogated, and he could try to find or guess Mord's Research Code so its not on his own record of topics. First he still has to convince her not to have him brainwiped.

"Remember that time in college..." Something that will bring the mood to a happier time, maybe bring up Alice to get her amusingly jealous. Then work on the baby making if he can? Baby means months and years of her not being a supervillain potentially.
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>>4920342
Moving our pieces is foolish before we find out what her side of the board looks like. I support this, but only after asking her if she wants out in the first place. What is her end goal? Does she agree with Antimatter's end goal? Does she agree with Antimatter's methods? Does she have a built-in out?
>>
We also need to, at some point, make it clear that in spite of everything, we still love her and want all the best for her, and that we really don't want to accept that Antimatter is the best thing she can have. Example: what if someone you love, like a theoretical husband perhaps, wasn't supposed found out something that he wasn't supposed to? Does she deserve to live in fear that a loved one might wind up with a stretched neck over the company she keeps?
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>>4920370
Yeah exactly. Plus I dont get these dudes talking about letting ourselves get wiped and also probably mindread.
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>>4920385
I am wholeheartedly against this. Tomorrow is a worthless purchase if the price is your memories of yesterday.
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>>4920385
Don't forget that doing so also means we will get caught by surprise when the heroes check our minds for tampering to make sure we haven't been compromised thanks to our ranking in the company. Not to mention we will just get suspicious and investigate...again. Just like the previous times apparently.
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>>4920385
I'm also strongly opposed to Richard being subjected to further memory tampering.
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>>4920261
Thats why we tell her the leak so she can deal with it herself.
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>>4920400
I dont think we wanna kill Mord and his wife, or atleast be partly responsible. Though I guess I do kinda recall us bringing a gun and at one point reaching for it when we were in his office.
>>
The only people she cares about are herself, us, and her parents. She's okay sacrificing hundreds of strangers to further Antimatter's goals; if she finds out about Mort, she'll nuke him to keep herself safe, and three dozen others to make it look like an accident.
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>>4920411
And still make it back home in time for dinner
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>>4920411
So then we don’t tell her about Mort. Besides, you guys are forgetting something really important about him…

He knows other clients. Ones with superpowered wives and husbands. Possibly on both sides of the moral divide. Finding people in the same situation as we are is a good reason to keep him around for now.
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>>4920442
You are forgetting that they're going to have a telepath mess around with our memories.
There's a non-insignificant chance that they discover Mort's involvement through those memories.
If her associates discover this before Redstar that failure reflects badly on her, potentially endangering her, Mort, and potentially even us.
If we don't tell Redstar and then she finds out we lied to her from whoever is performing the memory-wipe she may lose her trust.
If her associates discover that we are willing to deceive and manipulate Redstar, that revelation coupled with our tendency to spontaneously rediscover Redstar's alias may convince them that keeping Richard around is more trouble than it is worth and kill us.
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>>4920460
We might as well go with finding out the clients names if Mort's gonna die eventually anyway and our memories are gonna get fucked with. Any advantage in this fight to free our wife from Antimatter is worth trying.
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>>4920482
This is why i think we should *not* erase our mind. We'll just be kicking the can down the road.
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>>4920482
Yeah, except that we really don't have the option of doing that right now.
Our wife isn't just going to let us walk and set about spinning schemes now that we've stupidly admitted we know her secret identity without any counter-measures in place.
Additionally, since our memories are going to be editted to omit knowledge of our wife's double-life we won't be able to properly act against Antimatter without either Metagaming or trudging through this whole rigamarole of intrigue and discovery again.

>>4920484
What this guy said.
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How i see it, the only way we avoid getting mindwiped is if we manages to cut a deal with the wife, if that fails or we dont we will get mindwiped, and when that happens we must just take it from there and see where it leads us
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>>4920484
>>4920489
>>4920500
You're forgetting that said telepath is an older gentleman who manages a massive international terror cell. He can't do everything all the time. And we do have somethings on our side, an older brother that apparently has some connection to supers, who owes us do to not telling us why our parents really died, and an upcoming high powered position where we can dedicate some resources to We got to take some chances here, or we might as well just go through the motions until we put the Glock we bought to our temple.
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>>4920510
resources to* gather more blackmail material and actual, willing help.
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>>4920510
Feel like all this "if" "could" and "Maybes" are just going in circles, i am pretty sure no matter what happens OP wont just throw a "Game Over" at us from the onset, you can argue in circles as much as you want. Our actions will have consquences no matter what we do, so we may as well do it and see what the next update contains and take it from there.

Best option was to never tell her we knew.
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>>4920517
>Best option was to never tell her we knew.
True, but quests with slice of life situations always bring out a few romantics wanting to live happily with a predesignated waifu.

I include myself in that category
>>
Just finished reading through all these posts. I'd appreciate it if you guys could link to the update post on your write-ins, it helps me quickly separate decision from deliberation.

Now, unless I'm tallying things wrong, it seems the general sentiment is leaning toward the following:
1. Don't take the sleeping pills/consent to a mindwipe
2. Don't rat on your wife (for now)
3. Try to negotiate some kind of deal with the wife (compromise is at the root of every good marriage after all) to buy time and minimize collateral damage
4. Do something about the mind tampering so you don't get in trouble at work and likewise so your wife doesn't reveal what you know about her to Antimatter
5. Start gathering/tapping resources, researching and brainstorming ways to get out of this
6. Have hot, sticky, baby-making sex (at some point)

Feel free to add anything that's missing or elaborate finer points. In either case, I'll begin writing the update at the top of the hour (so I can finish before bedtime).

Loving all the discussion btw. The madness only just begun.
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>>4920533
I'd like to add in some things:

>Research ways to defeat mind tampering, either technologically or with some sort of super serum.
>Get the truth about our parents deaths from our brother, wife, and anyone else we can convince/extort/blackmail.
>Look into finding Redstar's true parents, and hope to god their influence might be able to sway her.
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>>4920533
>>4920546
One more, before I forget:

>Near or at endgame, fight side by side with wife during climatic battle, then make out on top of the rubble.
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>>4920533

>>4920353
I agree with this. In addition to the stuff that other people said, I think we should directly ask her about her views on Antimatter, superheroes, the world in general, and her goals.
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>>4920533
These seem right, and supporting these: >>4920546
>>4920560
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>>4920560
Actually, I might have two additional questions:

>"Did you mention to them that you were considering having a child with me?"
>"What's the general policy on Antimatter employees having kids when under their employ?"

We might have to worry about our kid being inducted as a minion or supervillain, which might not be what Vicky would want for them...
>>
Closed. Update imminent.
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>>4920533
plus all of these aside from the sex bit we want to be able to cut and run if this appears to be unsustainable, a kid in this situation, a probably powered kid susceptible to subversion, is a complication we don't need.

+++figure out to hide something from the mindwipe/dodge that in some way, hide a USB stick/QR code to a private web server with all of our notes and plans on it so far.

my preference is to cut and run, either to the authorities or going underground. it seems our wife is a bit of a fanatic, and again, all this has happened before. There's no reason to believe any of our un-brainwashing attempts would work at all. I agree with what another anon said about making it appear that bossman is failing, which would make her beliefs fall through.

we also should go invite brother out to a private meal/other get together when we have a bit to discuss what the fuck just happened
>>
Another option could be potentially to try to remove part of our memories ourselves, by shooting the short term memory part of the brain. This would make sure that Communion doesn't know about Mort, and since we have the USB drive, we can regain that information.

You might think this wouldn't work because it's extremely unrealistic, but we live in a world of comic book logic, so it's more likely to work than in real life.
>>
You rip away her hand. “Turn back,” you say, your voice level. “Show me my wife.”

“O-OK,” she turns her head away this time when the transformation or hologram or whatever it is comes back on. There she is. You reach for her face. She’s eager for your touch and holds your hand to her cheek. There’s nothing about her flesh to indicate its deception. Her cheek is cool, soft. Her lips the same wet, pillowy softness under your thumb. The same lightness, her hair. But as long you can remember the other face, this one will never again have the same charm as it once did. Not less, necessarily, but never the same.

“I promise,” you say. “But now you have to convince me.”

She gives a tiny, incredulous shake of her head. “Just tell me what you want me to do. I’ll do anything.”

“Quit Antimatter.”

“I can’t do that. N-No, darling, you don’t understand,” she says, grabbing your hand. “It’s not as simple as turning in a resignation letter. Antimatter won’t allow any loose ends. Not now when they’re so close. Communion won’t. He’s always favored me over the others – I don’t know why but I think if anyone else had asked to marry their mark, he would’ve killed them on the spot. But he won’t ever allow me to just leave. No. Impossible.”

“But if there was a way out…”

“But there isn’t.”

“But if there was?”

She shakes her head. “Communion is a great man, darling,” she says softly.

“I guess in your line of work greatness is measured by kill count.”

“Antimatter stands for something greater than what it has sacrificed,” she says, and, noticing that the tumbler still has some chips of ice left in it, she plucks one up and begins to suck on it.

“And what’s that? Democracy and free speech?”

“Peace and security,” she says, but it carries the vague uncertainty of something rehearsed, something learned by rote.

“You’re doing a bang up job so far.”

“I can’t explain it as well as Communion can,” she protests. “If you could just talk to him–”

“Yes, I’m sure he’s very convincing.”

“Whatever you’re implying: it isn’t true. He has always used his powers responsibly, and taught us to do the same. He would never use them on us – only as a last resort, only if there was no other way.”

She’s been with him so long that he’s Stockholmed her into fanaticism. She’s like a poor, mangy dog whose last owner would keep it chained outside to a railing, starve it and beat it but then the owner dies and the dog goes on to a new owner with a big yard, and the best kibble, and all the while it’s being trained to bite off people’s testicles on command, but what does it care as long as it feels loved? Or if not loved, wanted. Who would not feel gratitude then? There must be a part of her love for you that is like that too. And maybe the feeling is mutual.

CONT.
>>
“Fine. Let’s not talk about him. Let’s talk about what we’re going to do now. I want to make a deal, a compromise – isn’t that what marriage is all about? From now you do everything in your power to minimize the collateral damage caused by Antimatter. You save every person you can. Even one less casualty is a family you haven’t destroyed.” She opens her mouth to speak. You hold up your finger. “I’m not finished. You won’t tell anyone at Antimatter about me, about what I know. You say Communion won’t read your mind, fine, but know that the moment he – or any other telepath – looks inside your skull, we’re both dead.”

“He’s trained us to be resistant to telepaths. I’m pretty talented at it, actually. Even Communion can’t read me without straining himself to the utmost. But, Richard, darling, what you’re asking with respect to the missions will be very difficult. I’ll have to do it all in secret. The moment they find out, or worse, if it interferes with the outcome, they’ll suspect me.”

“It’s just about the mission to you! Don’t you care about the people you hurt?”

“I don’t know them, darling. And people die for arbitrary reasons all the time. Tell me what meaning Vicky, the real Vicky, the one who died in a hospital bed while they pumped her little body full of poison and radiation, what meaning did her death have? Yes, people are hurt in our mission. Some of them die. Some of them as young as Vicky. But unlike her death, theirs are for a greater cause, even if they do not know it. And I already know what you’re going say – and I say yes, yes! Even your parents.”

You take a deep breath; unfurl your hands. “So you won’t do it?”

“No.”

“Then you leave me no choice. I’ll play the only card I have left.”

She smiles, like you were a toddler that had said something cute. “And what’s that?”

“I have a gun in the glove compartment of my car. A Glock 17. Fully loaded. Nine millimeter hollow points. The day I find out that you let someone die that you could have saved. The day I find out that you killed someone for your ‘greater good’ that didn’t need to die. I’ll put that barrel in my own mouth–”

“No!” she says, covering your mouth with both her hands. Twice in one day you’ve made your wife cry. “No, no, no,” she says, resting her head against her your chest, sobbing.

You pull her hand off your mouth. “Look at me. Look into my eyes and know that I mean every word.”

“No,” she moans, covering your eyes now too.

“And don’t even think about touching the gun, I’ll just find some other way. A tall building. Or maybe I’ll just take off my shoes and walk into the bay.”

“Why are you saying these things?” she cries.

“Because I’m not a super like you. And because I love you. And because I’m counting on your love for me.”
>>
You hold her for a few minutes. This is the best you can do for now. It won’t change how she feels about Antimatter or their mission, not yet anyway, and later, when she’s calmed down a little, she’ll consider the possibility of your bluffing, but she can never be sure – even you’re not sure if you’re really bluffing – and so, she’ll never take that risk. The moment she stops loving you, the moment she weighs Antimatter in one hand, and you on the other hand and you come up short, you’ll have to pull that trigger. You find that you’re OK with that.

“I promise I won’t tell anyone who and what you really are.” After a while, when the worst of it is over, you kiss her hair a few times and slip out of her embrace and get up from the couch. You take your phone and your keys.

“Where are you going?”

“Out for a drive. I need to clear my head.”

“W-What do you want for dinner? We have the penne… or we have some leftovers from last night. I’ll cook the penne.”

“The leftovers are fine.”

“No.” She sniffs, wiping her nose. “I’ll cook the penne. We should celebrate your promotion.”

“Alright.”

“I love you,” she says, cautiously, as you touch the knob on the front door.

“I love you, too,” you say, without turning, but also without hesitation.

A few hours later you’re walking along the boardwalk near the Scarsberry bridge. A few joggers in high-cut shorts and tanktops swish by you on either side. Your destination is a payphone a few paces ahead.

“Hello? Mord?”

“Yeah, who’s asking?”

“It’s me. Richard?”

“Mordy, why are we stopping?” says a yawning, scratchy voice in the background. There is also the sound of cars whooshing by at great speed.

“Go back to sleep,” says Mord. “What’s the news Mr. Richard? You tell her? How’d it go?”

Having thought about exactly what you’re going to say on the drive here and what to omit, you give Mord a succinct summary of all the salient details.

“Mary mother of Christ, you actually said you’ll put the barrel in your own mouth? And she bought it? Can I just ask, and not to be vulgar or anything, but what do your balls weigh? No, seriously. Cause they must be made of brass.”

“The point is, Mord, your little vacation might have been premature. Right now we need to keep things as normal as possible, so I think it’d be best if you returned.”

“Shelly’s gonna throw a fit, Mr. Richard. We spent all day packing. She was looking forward to seeing her parents. Seeing Idaho of all places. What do they have in Idaho? Only two things come from Idaho, Mr. Richard, cheap potatoes, and cheaper women. I have quite enough of both, thank you.”

“You better not be bad mouthing Idaho again,” says Shelly.

“Go back to sleep you ditz.”

“One last thing. You’re absolutely sure that no one saw you that night, at the alleyway?”

“Sure as sure, Mr. Richard.”

CONT.
>>
“Because Communion, the man my wife was with, is a telepath. Did you know that?”

“… I do now. But it doesn’t matter. I always keep a dampener on me, just in case. Plus I had the radio on static the whole time.”

“Dampener?”

“Brainwave dampener. FBI uses it all the time when working with telepath supers. And the wardens in those supervillain prisons. You know, Gitmo, Alcatraz, Rikers. They make them real small now, flat disc about yea big, size of a half-dollar. I keep one in my shoe at all times. Makes it a little hard to run, but I won’t be winning any marathons either way.”

“Interesting. How does it work?”

“No idea. I think it’s based on the guys that are naturally resistant to telepaths. You know like the Kroger twins? Or just twins in general? Basically makes you indistinguishable from one of those guys. Telepaths can’t pick you up. It’s like you’re muted or something. I hear you can do the same thing with enough training but who has the time?”

“Could it stop someone from picking up previous tampering?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“How would you get one?”

“It’s not easy. They’re government issued. I got mine through a fed buddy of mine. Owed me a favor. They’re technically illegal to possess as a civilian though, so please don’t tell anybody.”

The phone your pocket starts to vibrate.

“No, I won’t. Thanks. I’ll talk to you again soon.”

“You got it, Mr. Richard. And be careful, yeah? Look both ways and everything.”

You slam the phone down on the silver tab and pull out your cell. It’s Phil, your brother.

“Dicky! Just heard about the promotion; congrats little brother.”

“Who told you?”

“Yeah, hello to you too dickwad. Vicky called me. She seemed a little down about it though. Wouldn’t say why. Please don’t tell me you’re still not on board with the baby thing. You’ve kept the poor girl waiting long enough. Is it a low count or something? Did you go to Dr. Rosenbaum like I told you?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“Virile as a bull.”

“So get baking brother. Neither of you are getting any younger. I’d like to have some nephews for my kids to bully before they start learning human weaknesses like compassion and mercy from their mom.”

You begin walking back to your car. You parked it by the memorial, a glass obelisk that lists the names of the twelve people killed in the Scarsberry attack. “How is Bunny anyway?’

“Good. She got a cold from the baby so now I’m home babysitting them both. I bought her this little brass bell, you know, as a joke. Huge mistake. Pretty sure she’s just faking at this point. Anyway, the real reason I’m calling: three letters, three syllables, my place, this weekend. Bee. Bee. Cue. And before you even think of answering in the negative, know that I’ve already asked Vicky and that she said yes.”

“Yeah, alright.”

CONT.
>>
“’Yeah, alright’? What’s with you? No witty repartee? No making me beg? Cough twice if you’re being held at gunpoint.”

“I just have a lot on my mind right now, sorry.”

A brief pause. “You alright Richard? Anything you wanna talk about? Is something going on with you and Vicky?”

“No,” you say, a little too quickly. Your brother obviously picks up on it, but tactful as ever, decides not to press the issue. The barbecue is a good idea. A chance to unwind, give you some space. You wonder how much of this you should discuss with your brother, if any. The fact that he’s being surveilled. Or why he’s being surveilled in the first place. The truth is, you have no idea what he really does for a living, besides that it has something to do with ‘exotic matter propulsion systems’.

You keep driving around town and don’t get home till late. Vicky is sleeping on the couch hugging a half-eaten tub of ice cream. She’s a stress eater. You remember in college, during finals week she would go through a twenty-pack box of toblerones every other day. You had to practically move in with her for a few days and cook all her meals so she didn’t go into a diabetic coma.

She set up the cutlery and plates in the dining room, even a few candles which have burned down to the nub. You head for the fridge, take out the neatly packaged penne and meatballs and eat mechanically, without even heating it up. Once you’re done, you put away the plates, cutlery, the melted candles, the plastic containers. You take out the garbage, clean up the kitchen and finally go to take your wife in your arms and carry her up to bed.

Her body feels light and frail against yours, although she can stop a tank shell with her bare hands. Midway up the stairs she wakes up and sleepily watches your face and leans up to kiss it, leaving the stickiness of the ice cream against your cheek. You lay her down on the bed, clean her face with a wet towel and after brushing your teeth, slip into the covers beside her. You can’t sleep. It feels like you might never go to sleep again. After a half-hour of counting sheep, breathing exercises, and free association, you head down-stairs to your garage. You take out your old rowing machine, a long, horizontal contraption of steel and wire that looks like a cross between an upside down bicycle with one wheel and those old arcade racing games that have pedals for your feet.
>>
You put it on the lowest resistance and pull away, just aiming to exhaust yourself as much possible, stopping to catch your breath every twenty minutes. If you tell the authorities, Superstar, any of the supers, they’ll come after your wife. Not Redstar. Vicky. You can see them coming with those shock collars, each burst of electricity with enough voltage to stun an African bull elephant. Lord Justice himself would have to come, his cape fluttering behind him, floating as he always does a foot off the ground. He’d hold her down while they put the collar on her. He’d have no qualms about breaking her arms or legs, and face no legal ramifications, not after they passed the justified brutality clause two years ago. They’ll take her to Alcatraz, it’s closest. You’ll have to go on a boat to get there. But she’s too high-level. No conjugal visits. Just touching hands with six-inches of reinforced glass between them.

Or you convince her to turn. She sabotages Antimatter from the inside and they catch on. They come after you. You go into hiding. Ask help from SIA. Use your connections with Superstar. Live in some podunk town doing menial work you hate for the rest of your life. Or fight back. Redstar joins the supers. She teams up with Lord Justice and Nighthawk and Titania and Bluebolt. She knows everything about Antimatter. They do precision strikes on all their hideouts. Lord Justice flying into a cave system in the Catskills, flying back with his enemies and stacking them into a pile, like he was building a pyre to burn them all. Nighthawk detonating synchronized charges in a warehouse in Oaktown to smoke them out. Bluebolt using his tazer-lazer to knock them all out. A few of them soil themselves from the shock. Titania and Redstar go for Communion himself. His whole operation has been dismantled. He’s not a fighter. He turns himself in. But they can’t get them all. Some of their supers will escape. Communion is smart, he’ll have compartmentalized intelligence. How much does your wife really know? There are others like her, extraordinary villains with ordinary covers. Maybe one day you’ll wake up, years later, and your kid is gone. Your wife is dead. Or you’re dead. Courtesy of Antimatter.

Or you do nothing and Communion takes over, however he manages it, the world is united under Communion. The peace will come only after a lot of blood is shed. The supers will fight to the bitter end. And you find it hard to imagine anything that could beat Lord Justice. An endless guerrilla war, with the sides changed, and the stakes higher. Communion must see this would be the outcome, yet he persists. Which means he sees something else. Or maybe he doesn’t care. As long as the world kneels to him, what’s a little war? Yet, he promises peace and security. He sees something else that you can’t see.

And so it goes. At some point your wife walks in, half panicked. “I didn’t feel you in bed. I-I thought you’d…”
>>
By then you’re slicked all over with sweat, breathing hard, all your muscles burning. Your shirt lies discarded on the floor. Your wife looks at you still shyly, as though the two of you were strangers, yet also looks with barely restrained greed. You pounce on her, picking her up a second time, over your shoulder like a caveman, and carry her back up to bed.

There’s a strange, animal satisfaction in knowing how much stronger she is than you, knowing that she could snap you in half at any moment as easily as one of her toblerones, but that she gives herself up to you completely, utterly, anyway. At the end she whispers in your ear, over and over, “Fill me up, darling, fill me up.” And it’s the deeper, throatier voice of Redstar that you hear, which invigorates you all the more.

You fall down together on the mussed sheets, drifting in and out of sleep, not knowing where one body begins and the other ends. “If it’s a boy,” she whispers, “We’ll name him Oren. And if it’s a girl, Soraya.”

“Those are the worst names I’ve ever heard. Oren? What is he, a bird? And Soraya sounds like a contagious disease.”

“Alright, darling, let’s hear yours then.”

“Keep it simple. Tim. And Alice.”

“Absolutely not.”

“What’s wrong with Tim?” you say, innocently.

“Nothing.”

“You don’t like Alice? It’s a nice name.”

“It’s an ugly name for ugly people. Besides I think it’ll be a boy. Yes, a little baby boy.”

You can’t help but laugh. But it’s like laughing after major surgery, there’s a sharp pain that comes afterward. “What are you going to do when you’re pregnant? When the baby is born?” you say. “Is it going to be born like you?”

You can feel her nod on your chest. “He’ll be even better,” she says. “Because it’ll be inside him from the start.”

“What are they going to do? Will they take him away?”

“Take him away? Take my baby away? Just let them try. Let them try. I’ll grind their bones into powder – but no, they wouldn’t do that. Communion would never do that. He wants people who chose to be there. He doesn’t force any of us.”

“But if you leave, he guts you. Free will at its best.”
>>
“That’s different. Once you’ve joined, you can’t leave. He makes that clear from the beginning. But the choice to join, that’s free. When he rescued us from the traffickers, all the girls were given a choice. We were all free to go. They even gave us some money. But he told us if we stayed we could change the world. That he needed us. He needed me. He needed the little nine-year old Natasha, whose own parents sold her into slavery.” Her voice breaks, just a little, and then more and more as she goes on, her breathing becoming more and more ragged. “How could they do that Richard? Why didn’t they love me? What did I do wrong? I tried my best with everything. I really tried. I cooked and I cleaned. I collected plastic bottles and old radios and barbed wire and sold them to the man with the gold teeth and gave them all the money. Even the coins I sometimes found on the street, the clean shiny ones, the silver five kopiyok and the golden twenty-five kopiyok – only it wasn’t gold, it was… I don’t remember. It was too light to be gold. I gave them everything. And still they beat me. But that I could take. I used to look down at the Dnipro for hours, but I always told myself, ‘Natasha, they need you, they’ll starve without you, they beat you but so what? All the parents beat their kids. Look at Nina, look at Olena. And maybe sometimes you are bad and deserve it. You don’t have it so bad. No, they surely love you’ and I would go back to them and cook and clean and try my hardest and still they took me to the man with the gold teeth and they left me there. Why didn’t they love me, Richard? What did I do wrong?”

“Nothing, baby, nothing.” You stroke her hair, hugging her closer to you. She’s not crying, but there are tears in your eyes which you secretly wipe away.

“Well it won’t be like that with my son. I’ll never let anyone take him away. Never. Never.”

The night passes into morning. Sleep comes inevitably. When you awake you find yourself alone in bed and the smell of toast and eggs and coffee drifting up the stairs. After a quick shower you head down for breakfast. The tub of ice cream from yesterday (which you had put in the freezer) you find in the garbage, still half-full. You decide not to ask.

“Is that what you’re wearing to the barbecue, darling?” asks your wife, gesturing to your sweatshirt.

“No, I was gonna wear my speedos.”

“Very funny. I already laid out your clothes for you in the closet.”

“What’s wrong with this?”

“We’re not going to one of your sports matches darling. This is a social event.”

“You know Philip’s gonna be in wife-beaters and cargo shorts right?”

“All the more reason. He can learn from your example.”

You laugh. “He’ll get a kick out of that one.”
>>
As predicted, your brother greets you at the door of his mansion-esque three story house in a tank-top and a pair of what appear to be swim trunks. He takes one look at your tucked shirt and slacks and bursts out laughing. Then he begins calling you “business-casual” for the rest of the day. ‘BC’ for short.

You see your eldest nephew, currently home for summer break from Caltech, where he just finished his first year, lying on the couch clacking away on his laptop. “Hey, Uncle Rick. Congrats on the promotion. Now that you’re a big-shot executive you think you can introduce me to Titania?”

“What for like a school project or something?”

“Well her paper on TDT applied to time-traveling AI was pretty wild, but nah, I just think she’s super cute.”

“Pretty sure that’s illegal, Sammy-boy. Get some superpowers first and then we’ll talk. Also, FYI, she’s more than twice your age.”

Meanwhile your wife has already made a single-minded beeline for the baby, Malcolm, whom she has scooped out from his little flying saucer-like walker and is now showering with kisses. The middle child, the quiet Fae, wearing glasses that make her look like an owl – that don’t have any lenses – is reading a book outside on the patio.

“The Myth of Perseus and Other Tales,” you read aloud.

“Hi, Uncle Richard.”

You bend down to receive her kiss. And then another one from Bunny, Phil’s wife. Fully recovered from her cold it seems.

The family gathers around in the patio while Phil and yourself begin serving up hamburgers and hot dogs. The conversation inevitably turns to your promotion and you have to explain that you’re not an executive just yet, you’re just handling a single private client.

“You checked her out yet?” your brother asks.

“No, I’ll be meeting her on Monday.”

“On Herobase, I mean.”

“Didn’t get a chance.”

“You want to?”

“What?”

“Yeah PBD’s been doing some government contracts for a while now, satellite stuff mostly. All us seniors have some pretty high access levels into most of their databases. Can’t access beyond level green from a remote terminal, but that’s probably enough to get info on – what’d you say her name was?”
“Perihelia. Wait, so you have access to Herobase here? In your house?”

“Yep. Sammy! Show your uncle the rig in my room. Connect him to Herobase. Go on, BC, I’ll catch up with you after I’m done with these.”

Sammy takes you to your brother’s home office which has enough monitors and hardware to put him on a watchlist. He quickly logs in, types in some commands on a black screen, enters some more login information from a sticky-note on one of the monitors – one among dozens – and finally opens up Herobase. Then he gets up and leaves the room.

“Just holler if you need me, Uncle Rick.”

“Will do, Sammy-boy.”

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4920882
>continue
>>
>>4920882
>look up Perihelia, as suggested, maybe look up her immediate connections as well.
>do not, under any circumstances, look up anything related to the wife or her organisation, unless information on Peri would come up with something that stands out enough to justify further look

although we should probably get busy figuring out what they have for with our bro...
>>
>>4920900
This.
>>
>>4920882
Let's start figuring out if our brother was a superkid. Look at the list of super teens that were active around the time he was apparently in that "Scholarship Program", and make a note of the names for later. Then switch over to currently active super teens and preteens and see if Sam and Fae might be in the same situation. When that's done, clear the search history.

>>4920900
Also this.
>>
you know our brother is a suped up villain
>>
>>4920970
More like a Anti-Hero i think or retired superhero
>>
Anyone else feel like Richard will be a bit more distant to the wife after all of this ?

Like he will still do all he used to do as a husband but be in general a bit more out there
>>
>>4920970
I rather think he's going to become a problem later on once he discovers our wife's identity, if he didn't already. He'll be much more pissed at her over our parents, and without the love we have to temper the seethe. He should be kept in the dark at very least until we've already achieved some landmark victories in breaking her away from the maniacs.

>>4920989
The shock certainly pushed the couple away but if Richard goes through with spending more time with Vicky to erode her conditioning I expect they'll actually grow closer, even if it might be turbulent occasionally as their ideals grate at each other.
>>
>>4920989
I don't know, she's clearly had a fucked up past and he seems to understand she got stockholmed by communion.
>>
>>4920193
>>4920185
We need to come to terms with ourselves and accept a few truths.

She won't be getting out of this, she's likely in it till the end.

We hold risky information if we retain our memories and get promoted, we are likely to run into telepaths that might even work in HR at our job.

We don't want to leave her or live without her, and going public or letting information get loose will destroy both of us in more ways than one. Might even set future policies in her organization that spouse or families members that find out are to be killed.

We need to decide within the next day before Mort does something that might make things worse.

What do we do about children if they find out or they become in danger.
>>
>>4920987
>>4920994
>i think he was part of their deaths
>>
>>4921076
....... Aaannnd I failed to see the updates before posting.
>>
>>4921078
I mean, yeah, probably. And if that's what happened, we're gonna have to use all that guilt he's built up not telling us the truth for twenty years to our advantage.
>>
>>4920970
Maybe villain that married a hero? Or, maybe he is a secret hero that married a civilian in secret like we did. But you know. On purpose.
>>
Maybe our parents were killed by antimatter to get at our brother. Hell maybe that's how they recruit, kill the parents and make the kids miserable so they join.
>>
>>4920880
>You can feel her nod on your chest. “He’ll be even better,” she says. “Because it’ll be inside him from the start.”
Does that mean the only reason she wants a baby is because he'll be a super
>>
>>4921468
Nah, its because it will be ours, if it was just having a super baby she could get anyone.
>>
>>4921332
An interesting idea.
Not applicable to Vicky/Natasha though, unless Antimatter somehow forced her parents to sell her off.
Alternatively, Antimatter did kill them and our wife's memories of being abused by her parents are artificial.
>>
>>4921076
If we’re committed to staying with our wife - I don’t know how we let Mort live desu.

It’s inevitable that the info he knows will come out…

Unless our wife can use the same mind-erasing pills on him
>>
>>4921610
Because we are a regular Joe and not a schemer or cold blooded killer
>>
>>4921610
We let Mort live because we're playing to the MC's character as a guy who doesn't want anyone to die. Also the pills were apparently just sleeping pills, mind erasure is a telepath thing, and we'd have to take him to one in order for that to happen.
>>
>>4921610
We don't need to kill him. He's a professional, otherwise he wouldn't have his job. We have his originals as well, so all that's left is his word, which is unnecessary because he has no reason too. Seeing as we didn't die, and our wife doesn't know Mort.
>>
>>4921610
I'd advocate for mind wiping him. Just to be on the safe side...
>>
>>4921694
...how so?
>>
>>4921766
How so what?
>>
>>4921816
How. Would. We. Mind. Wipe. Mort? We. Can't. Do. That.
>>
>>4921610
Also it wasn't pills that did the mindwiping, they had a psychic do it.
>>
>>4921854
I think the implication is that we would convince our wife to use her connections to get it done, once we've gained her trust.
>>
>>4921862
Why risk sending him to the terrorist group who kills people who know too much? Just ask Mortadella if he wants to get his memory wiped just in case, and if he says does (which is extremely unlikely, regarding the distinct possibly of putting all his super clients at risk of being blackmailed), he'll probably get it done with someone he trusts explicitly.
>>
>>4921882
Even then it's a horrible idea.
He's the only guy who'd be able to tell us about redstar/vicky/natasha if we do get mind wiped again.
>>
>>4921886
That reminds me, we should totally set up a deadman switch message that'll be sent to us in case we do get mind wiped. A whole, "If you are reading this, you've been mind wiped. Here's the current situation." Keep it up to date so that if anyone gets to us we can inform ourselves of what's going on.
>>
>>4921887
Sounds like a good start on the path to getting our hands on a Dampener and training our mind to resist tampering (gotta do both because we should have multiple backups). Who knows, might lead us on the path to either becoming some sort of anti-psycher cyborg or discovering our own psychic potential.
>>
QM here. I won't be posting anything today or tomorrow (i.e the weekend) because of a trip. We will resume on Monday. Hope you're all enjoying the quest so far.
>>
>>4921957
Kinda weird that there are alot of QMs going on trips this weekend.
>>
>>4921960
Aliens apparently.
>>
>>4921989
QM's are aliens? I knew it!
>>
>>4921960
We got a heatwave here in the UK and parts of Europe. Everyone and their mother are going out on trips
>>
The office chair is state-of-the-art, something your brother must have “borrowed” from work – or possibly invented himself. It looks like a cross between a bean-bag and a dentist’s chair and is made of a black, jello-like material. When you sit down, it reacts almost like a living thing, reshaping itself to your height and posture. It glides on the floor as though it were floating an inch above it, but only you press down hard on the armrests. Otherwise it is as immovable as if it had been glued to the wood.

When you were in the orphanage your brother would always give you his cup of chocolate pudding at dinner, always made sure you had the good blanket, wore his ratty tennies straight through high school and the first three years of college so he could keep up with your growing feet. When you won the State Indoor Track and Field Championship in your sophomore year, you used the first-place prize, a three hundred dollar gift certificate for JC Penney, to finally buy him new pair of dress shoes for his college graduation. He was furious. He wanted you to pawn the certificate for cash and use those funds to try for the nationals. Of course, the only reason you were doing track in the first place is because you wanted that certificate, because you didn’t want your brother going up on that stage and giving his valedictorian speech in tennies held together with duct tape and superglue. You never told him that but you think he knew. He still has those shoes. He wore them to your wedding.

You’re glad he can finally enjoy the comforts he so readily denied himself when he was young. Sometimes you think his austerity has left an indelible mark. Other than these gadgets and toys, the humming tower of circuitry, the compound eye made of monitors on his desk, and all the other tools necessary for his trade, Phil spends almost nothing on himself. You don’t think it’s ever been out of a lack of desire so much as a kind of guilt. Money spent on himself is something he’s taken away from his children, his wife or his brother. Gift shopping for him is a nightmare. He’ll set a strict upper limit of thirty dollars and complain when a gift goes even a few dollars over budget, but then cheat and buy something ten or a hundred times that much for the other person. It’s been the subject of heated arguments more than once. It’s a pathology, really.

CONT.
>>
You rest your wrists on the pad of the ergonomic keyboard. Herobase was designed by BluCorp (of which PBD is a subsidiary) and has kept their signature minimalist style. The initial screen is a white search bar on a sky-blue background, with the word “Herobase” in large font. Typing in “Peri” autocompletes to Perihelion with an additional drop-down showing Perihelia, Peridot, and Perimurder. You select Perihelia with the mouse and her profile page loads instantly. There’s a name, a picture and some basic biographical details. Your current access level, represented as a small, solid green bar, is displayed on the top right. It’s a different authorization system than the one for civilians, which goes from one to ten. Green seems to be about the same as what Superstar has, level seven or eight, and there are three more colors above that.

The rest of the information is separated into a number of tabs, like file tabs in a filing cabinet. There’s one for origins, known powers, fieldwork, and honors. Each of these has links to pages in other profiles. Admittedly it’s not much. The girl turns twenty in just a few weeks. She isn’t even old enough to drink yet. Nevertheless, the fieldwork tab does have a few notable listings, mostly joint work as part of a junior superteam. She’s moved around a lot too. She started with The Superbulous when she was only 14, worked with them for a year, then three years with the all-female Pretty Perfect (until she eventually became their leader), but then she went on sabbatical for a year – officially for “personal development”, but there’s some classified documents here which you can’t open with your authorization level.

Otherwise, straight A’s in school. Third in her class at a fairly well-known girl’s prep-school. Her parents are supers. Her father is Perihelion and her mother, the renowned Firefly, a former member of the Supremum, founded and still led by Lord Justice. She was eventually replaced by Titania, around the time that her daughter was born. Clearly the apple has not fallen far from the tree. Her powers are light-based, an elemental type – very easy to market – short-range teleportation, phasing, invisibility, simple illusions, regeneration, telephatic immunity, enhanced sight, enhanced reflexes, light manipulation – the only thing she doesn’t have are the super-strength and basic invulnerability common to most supers – including her parents.

Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped her from racking up a few honors. Superteen of the Year. Miss Superior three years in a row. She must have won the judges over with her curly blonde hair – massed like boles of golden cotton on her head – and the confident, beatific smile of the forever photogenic. A face good enough to sell breakfast cereal and toothpaste with. Sponsors will pay a pretty penny for that smile and if she’s half as good on camera as she is in this photo, you’ll be executive before years end.

CONT.
>>
You begin clicking around on some of the links on her fieldwork page, looking at the other supers she’s worked with. A few are clients of your main competitor, Glam’r’us, one, named Honorguard, is a client of Superstar, albeit in one of the lower tiers. They worked together while she was in Superbulous. It might be a good idea to have him there for the first meeting, a familiar face to smooth the transition. This one-year hiatus bothers you a little, but you suspect it might have been a government development program. You’ll know the damage when you meet face-to-face on Monday.

You close the program and are about to shutdown the computer when a folder on the desktop catches your eye, entitled “am_research”. Of course, that could be anything. Aerospace Machines. Automatic Motors. Antelope Meat. Or, yes, Antimatter. Behind you the door is slightly ajar and through the crack you can see your nephew, sitting on the couch with his laptop, headphones over ears, oblivious to the world.

You double-click on the file. A pop-up comes up prompting you for a password and your fingers hover over the keys, defeated. Then you start scanning the sticky-notes on the monitors. Nothing. You close the prompt and are about to get up from the chair when you notice a sticky-note stuck to the underside of the keyboard. You peel it off. “am_research: 71m07hy942dn32”.

It works. Inside the folder are more folders: “ops”, “vils”, “phil”. You click on the one with your brother’s name, suddenly afraid of what you might find, but it’s just a few text documents with cryptic names: “m_state”, “futr_telep”, “mkt_man”, “shll_corps”, etc. The biggest of these is also the only one whose title is even remotely comprehensible: “medusa”. It appears to be some kind of scientific paper, lots of mathematical equations, snippets of computer code, jargon, mysterious diagrams and citations. Most of it goes over your head, but one word you instantly recognize. A quick search-and-find reveals that it is the third of twenty-six instances found in the document. The word is “Communion.

You quickly switch to the other folders. “Ops” has dozens more folders in it labeled by dates that go back more than twenty years. Each one contains images and more documents. Photos of destroyed buildings. Newspaper articles. Blogposts written by or about victims of a particular terrorist attack. Headshots of the victims. Footage of the attacks, most of it from the news, some of it not. One pdf file in each folder contains detailed notes about the attack, floor-plans, the villains involved, the supers sent to stop them, the damage done. Pie-charts, bar graphs showing distribution of the ages of the victims, and for some reason financial candlestick charts with ticker symbols. GLD. XOP. SPY. DJIA.

CONT.
>>
You go back and scroll down to the bottom, to the latest folder. It’s dated about a month ago. Inside are pictures of Scarsberry bridge before and after the attack. Faces of the victims. The pdf contains a satellite image of the bridge with detailed annotations overlayed on top, circles and x’s with arrows coming out of them, like a play in football or basketball. You search for “Redstar”. Matched 1 of 6. There’s a video of the attack, clips stitched together from the news helicopter and live overhead imagery that could have only come from a government satellite or surveillance drone. There’s Redstar tackling Blueblot into the water. And here’s Lord Justice coming in to save the day, chasing off Redstar and then moving to rescue the people that have fallen into the bay, some of them locked into their cars, others floating ominously face-down on the water.

With trembling fingers you type in “Vicky”, and then “Victoria”. No results. You go back and open the folder with the oldest date. Thirteen thumbnails. The sight of two in particular forces a lump in your throat, even though the memory of them is hazy. You were so young when they passed but the image of the two of them in that blown-up wedding photo at the funeral, with that old-timey yellow-orange filter, has been burned into your mind. Timothy and Alice Gardner. And this pdf is by far the most detailed, over a hundred pages long with many diagrams, schematics for the explosives that had been used, blueprints of the mall where your parents had gone shopping for your brother’s 14th birthday party. Cowboy themed, a last bit of childishness before the coming of manhood. When you get to the autopsy reports, you close it. You close the whole thing.

You sit in silence for a while, trying to understand what this is. Then you have a thought. You open up a terminal, navigate to the folder and, trying to remember what you learned in your “Intro to Computer Science” class in college, attempt to do a search on all the documents for “Natasha”. There are a few hits, all of them from the same directory: “vils/redstar/origin”.

“Richard?” says a voice from the door. A soft knock follows it and a footfall sounds in the room. The door is shut. You quickly exit out of the terminal and press down on the power button on the machine, your heart beating in your throat. “Sorry, am I bothering you?” says the voice.

CONT.
>>
It’s Bunny, your brother’s wife. She’s clasping her hands, bracing them against her chest, as though stabbing herself with a dagger. Bunny is smaller and more petite than your wife, only a hand or two taller than her daughter, Fae, and dwarfed by her husband and her eldest son. Her small button-nose earned her the epithet ‘Bunny’ (from Bethany) courtesy of your brother, a courtesy for which she at first wanted to throttle him. She has a habit of scrunching up that nose when she’s upset and wiggling it when she’s happy. Listening to your brother you’d think he married her just for how adorable he found that little quirk.

“I could come back later,” she says. “Sam said you were in here…”

“No,” you say. “Why don’t we go back outside?”

She throws out her hand. “N-no,” she says. “Please, I wanted to talk to you in private for a minute. Is that OK?”

“What’s this about?”

She scrunches her nose, clasping her hands again to her chest. “It’s Phil,” she says, in a low voice.

“Yes?”

“I think he’s… I think he’s… on me.”

“What?”

She looks up at you, her eyes filled with tears.

“No,” you say.

She nods. She speaks in a wet whisper, occasionally wiping her eyes with the blade of a finger before again clasping her hands together on her chest. “For a while now he’s been, I don’t know, distracted. He stays out later and later. And when he is home, he coops himself up in here, all night sometimes, and, I hear voices, he’s talking on the telephone and I don’t know. The last few days he’s been really good, staying home and taking care of the baby and everything. And me. But he’s gotten really distant.”

“When did this start?”

“A few months ago? I don’t know. Sometime in the beginning of spring, when he started this satellite project. There’s this woman on the team, very pretty, I looked her up. Her name is Rita Towers–”

You stand up and grab her shoulders. “No,” you say. “That’s just impossible. Phil’s crazy about you. He’d sooner chew glass. He’s probably just busy at work, that’s all. It’s a new project and everything.”

She shakes her head. The bangs from her short bob-cut swish in front of her eyes. “I called them. They said that he’s actually behind on his projects. Not enough to get worried about but, I don’t know, if it was work why would he be behind? It’s not work. It’s not work.”

“Have you tried talking to him about this?”

She says nothing.

“Alright, we’ll get to the bottom of this right now.”

CONT.
>>
“No!” She grabs your arm. You look at her, bewildered. “I’m afraid, Richard. What if he really… what if…” The bangs swish again. “I’m afraid to.”

“I’m sure it’s not what you think.” In fact, you know it’s not. More than anything else, Phil would be devastated by such an accusation. He loves “his little bunny” at least as much you love Vicky. You're sure that folder has something to do with all this.

“What if it is? Maybe… maybe it’s better I don’t know. Rita Towers, you know, she’s very pretty. I saw her picture on their website. Very young, probably really smart. I don’t know, she has such good skin, and I’m getting wrinkles now.” She touches her eyes. “I gave him three children,” she says, her voice all but breaking. “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Talk to him. If he is… but don’t tell me. Whatever you do, don’t tell me. But if he is… make him stop? But don’t let him know it was me that sent you, because then he’ll say something to me and I won’t believe him. I’ll want to, with all my heart, but I won’t be able to. And I don’t want that. You understand?”

“Yes,” you say. “But Beth, I really don’t think he would do that.”

“What else could it be?” She holds her up clasped hands to you, as if offering them in exchange for an answer, any answer. When you are silent, she takes them back. “I’m jealous of you and Vicky,” she says. “I shouldn’t be but I am. The two of you are so perfect together, so happy. You keep no secrets from each other.”

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4924737
just do a deep sigh and say that we can do what we can
>>
>>4924737
>Smile sadly for a moment. If only she knew...
>"I'll see what I can do. Just, well, don't assume the worst just yet, alright?"
>Consider hiring Mord again for a job tailing our brother, but asking him to give us the true info and doctoring up some fakes for Bunny, in case it's Super related. If everyone else thinks its too soon for Mord to peek out again, look into using Superstar's other PI options, but remember to keep him informed when we can do so safely, in case the other guy gets a new pair of cement shoes.
>>
Also, OP, you might want to post that you're back in the QTG, in case people are waiting for you in there.

And maybe start using a name, because I think people are assuming it isn't you, based on your new ID.
>>
>>4924745
>>4924754
Supporting
>>
>>4924745
>>4924754
support
>>
>>4924745
this, but before we do anything else go back to the computer and delete any shell/image viewer/etc. logs.
assuming it runs on this universe's equivalent of a unixlike, we should know how to do this from the compsci class.
>>
>>4924733
Reeee leaving an electronic trail on brothers computer was exactly what we should have avoided. Ah well, guess the curiosity got the better of us.

>>4924737
>I’ll do what I can…
>but… Beth, maybe it’s just me being under impression from the drama and intrigue I just read in Herobase about, but it is possible to keep secrets with good intentions, so perhaps find some comfort in that? I honestly can’t imagine him hurting you the way you fear.
>>
>>4924737
Might also be a good idea to hit the gym. How long have Richard been enjoying the wife's cooking ?
>>
>>4924924
If we can do that, would it be possible to copy the villain files onto that thumb drive Mord gave us and delete the fact we made a copy? We need that villain info, particularly our wife’s origin story.
>>
>>4924924
>>4924944
I didn't mention it, but you can safely assume that Richard took the necessary precautions before viewing the documents and images so as not to leave a trail. So you don't need to worry about that coming up in the future.

>>4925235
This, however, definitely would leave a trail.
>>
>>4925235
We're just gonna burn the pages into our head.
>>
>>4924727
inb4 personal development was 16 (17) and pregnant
>>
>>4924737
"Maybe hes secretly a super ha ha."

So it looks like our brother got access to a satellite that has been recording images, perhaps focused on supers/villains, for some years. Hes using that access to research Antimatter and our parents death. Then he goes out looking for leads, to the detriment of his current family.

Take her clasped hands and say we'll take care of it.

Have a quick chat with nephew just so we can say something like 'your dad been busy a lot?' so we can say thats how this line of questioning came up

Go find our brother at the grill and have a talk.

1 "I hear from the boy you've been busy a lot. Don't get too carried away with work, I know how focused you can get on those things. For a while I've had mom and dad on my mind a lot. I think that was part of the reason I wasn't ready to have children. 'What if it happened to me and my children?'. Left alone. Only the all consuming questions of 'who' and 'why' and all the other 'W's. It kept me from the family I have, that I could have with Vicky. Now I think I am ready to let the dead rest, and focus on the living." Or something like that but with better buildup, which touches on the brother's likely stronger obsession with the parents he knew a bit more about then the mc. Then see if that pulls him away his research project without exposing the Bethany's request by reminding him whats important?

OR 2. We straight up tell him we saw his snooping file, and we want a piece of that juicy info action. Its our right, they were our parents too. Share the load. Its too much for one man, and you can't let it distract you from your family and everything you've worked so hard for. So if we both work on it then neither is sacrificing too much.
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>>4925357
>Richard made sure to put on incognito mode
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>>4925357
>This, however, definitely would leave a trail.
Welp, glad I asked this as a question, rather than a suggestion.
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Slightly off topic, but I just noticed something about the brothers names...

Are they supposed to be references to fictional detectives, or to the author Philip K. Dick, or is this one big coincidence and the names were just pulled out of a hat, and I'm completely overthinking things?
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>>4925783
Much as I'd like to say it was a 200IQ reference to Philip K. Dick (and actually, now that I think about it, it would fit with some of the themes I want to explore -- paranoia, false realities etc.) but the names were picked out of a hat until I found one that "felt right".
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>>4925807
I originally thought that it was a reference to fictional detectives (Philip Marlowe, Rick Deckard, Dick Gumshoe), what with Mord and the whole suspected affair start to the quest. Funnily enough, I was listening to this when I had the realization...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYV3LHMqQXU
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you alright qm?
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>>4927661
Yep, still here. Just having difficulty putting together some uninterrupted time to write an update.
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>>4927661
Redstar is currently holding him hostage to make sure she looks good in this quest.
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I just thought of something to ask Victoria in the car later...

"So, there was more than one time I found out about your career, right..."

"Did I ever accidentally press your neck button during an intimate moment?"
>>
In the living room, your wife sits cradling Malcolm, feeding it baby formula from a nursing bottle. Bunny will come out of the bathroom in a little bit, once she’s freshened up, and take the baby from her – not without some protest, but with your wife eventually giving in after you gently pinch the spot between her shoulder-blades. Then, watching the baby settle comfortably in his mother’s arms, she will petulantly ask to go home, as though expecting baby-making to commence the moment you step through the front door. She won’t get her way, but for now she is pleased as peach and when she turns her eyes up to smile at you, she does not notice your worry and fear, which you also had to hide from Bunny when you promised you’d talk to Phil.

You gather some information on that front first, speaking to Sam and then Fae about their father’s recent behavior. Sam has only been back a few weeks and doesn’t know anything about it. Fae, always the more sensitive of the two, has noticed her father is shorter of temper lately, darker around the eye, both of which she chalks up to tiredness. She cites the book she’s reading. When she had asked for it after seeing her father reading it, he’d snapped at her. The next day the book was found sitting neatly on her bed. The Myth of Perseus and Other Tales.

It’s not until after lunch that you get a private moment with Phil. He takes you upstairs to the gameroom for a game of billiards. The room looks unused. A thin coating of dust covers the glass displays which show a museum like history of Sammy’s childhood obsessions: mint condition baseball cards in thick plastic covers, starter caps and baseballs signed by members of their respective team, little model airplanes suspended from thin nylon, rows of model cars, various sports and academic trophies. But the room is dominated by the foosball and ice hockey and billiards tables, none of which has seen use in years. Sammy has outgrown them, and judging by your earlier conversation with him, has outgrown his father a little as well.

“Got a little favor to ask you BC,” says Phil.

“’Get me a drink of water’ favor or ‘Help me move’ favor?”

He looks up from the cue to give you a flat look. “I need you to get me in touch with Lord Justice. You’re a big shot executive now, you can get me in right?”

“First of all, again, I’m not an executive yet. They made it very clear it’s a trial period. And second, even if I was, Justice isn’t even with Superstar. As far as I know, he’s not with any firm. He’s like Jesus Christ, he doesn’t need help with PR.”

“Yeah, but he goes to their social functions doesn’t he? To keep up appearances?”

“Why don’t you just go through BluCorp? Bluebolt knows him personally, I’m sure he could set up a meeting.”

CONT.
>>
Phil attempts to jump a ball but ends up hitting with too much force and the cue ball and another ball go off the table and land with a muffled thunk on the carpeted floor.

“Foul,” you say.

He glares at you, then goes to retrieve his ball. “It’s not something I want to do through official channels. Besides, Bluebolt isn’t a real person. He’s a robot created, maintained and remotely controlled by a team of specialists. Asking twelve people for a favor is a lot harder than asking one, especially when the one is your brother.”

There’s a company anniversary coming up, not Superstar’s but Olympus, the superhero development company. It’s the big five-oh. Usually they have black-tie galas for such events and a 50-year anniversary is significant enough to attract the more popular celebrities and supers. Lord Justice won’t miss it. “I can’t promise anything…”

“Good enough for me.”

“Didn’t know you were a fan, though,” you say. “You used to rail on me all the time for reading those Lord Justice comic books. It turns out all this time you were the real fanboy.”

“I’m not a fanboy,” he says. “Call your shot already.”

“Six-ball in this corner,” you say, tapping the hole nearest to you. You strike, the ball bounces off the opposite cushion and deposits beautifully in your called pocket. You sink a few more before fouling and surrendering the turn to your brother. “So it’s for work then?”

“If it was for work I’d go through BluCorp.”

“Are we gonna play twenty questions or are you going to tell me?”

“Eleven-ball in side-pocket,” he says. He lines up the shot and sinks it, then a few more until the score is even again.

“You’re not planning on becoming a hero yourself are you?”

“Of course not. You know the law. I would have to divorce Bunny, get a restraining order on my own kids.”

“I was kidding. What’s with you? You alright?”

“I’m fine. What about you? You patched things up with Vicky? That’s good. How soon can I expect my nephew?”

“We’re not rabbits. These things take time. And don’t change the subject. Fae was telling me how you’re a little snippy these days. Distracted.”

“Distracted. She said distracted?”

“She said tired. I said distracted.”

“Well, I’m neither. I’m just busy.”

“With what?”

He stares at you a long time, not speaking.

“Phil,” you say, “it’s me, your little brother. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

He starts chalking his cue. “Just a little side-project, that’s all.”

“What about?”

“Look can you just leave it alone?”

You raise your hands in mock surrender. Your brother sighs and rubs the back of his head. “It’s about mom and dad – look, you can’t tell anyone about this, alright? No one.”

“How far have you gotten?”

“Far enough to get six-to-ten years in a federal penitentiary for unsanctioned vigilantism.”

“And what have you found out?”

CONT.
>>
“First, Antimatter planned the attack which killed mom and dad.”

“I could have told you that.”

“And second,” he says. “I think I know what they’re planning. Long term.”

Later, on the car ride home, your wife goes on and on about the cuteness of babies, the curl of hair on Malcolm’s head, the smell of talcum powder and baby oil, the fatness of little baby legs, the way Malcom burbles and sings, and bits of advice she got from Bunny making and rearing children. It’s a one-sided conversation for the most part.

“Tell me again what Communion wants,” you say, interrupting something about holding her legs to her chest to ‘improve the odds’.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” she says.

“Peace and security, right? By conquering the world.” Phil’s findings didn’t contradict any of that, technically.

“Let’s stop by the gelato place before we go home, darling. I want to get a pint of pistachio.”

“How is he planning to do that exactly? Conquer the world? How is bombing shopping malls and destroying bridges forwarding that particular goal?”

She’s silent. Either she doesn’t want to say, or, more likely, she doesn’t know. According to your brother, however, it’s all very simple. They need money. The easiest way to make money is to place some bets on Wall Street and rig the game so you never lose. Every time there’s a major terrorist attack the price of gold goes up. Every time they blow up a commercial building or kidnap the CEO of a major oil conglomerate, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanks. They make more money buying a few thousand call options on a precious metals hedge fund then they would in a half-dozen bank robberies. Your brother had been quite excited, even impressed, by the whole thing. He spoke quickly, eagerly, as though he’d been waiting for an opportunity to reveal his findings.

“They have all these shell companies that lead to nowhere, right? They’re meticulous about paying taxes, and they definitely have somebody on the inside because so far they haven’t been caught. Partly that’s because most of them are offshore, in the usual places – you know, Switzerland, Caymans – but also in Singapore and Taiwan and Japan. Tech capitals of the world – outside of the US, anyway – keeping the money there gives him ready access to what he really wants: computing power.”

The rest was too technical. The gist of it is that Communion is building some kind of super-intelligence. A machine that has the capacity to improve itself, growing smarter, more powerful, with each bit of hardware, each bit of computing power it acquires. At some point it will become powerful enough to break into any secure system anywhere in the world. “He’s creating a god,” your brother had said. “An invisible intelligence that knows all, sees all, that can bring down planes from the sky, and launch the world’s nuclear arsenal at a whim.”
>>
Such technology shouldn’t exist for another fifty years, yet Communion seems to have built (or acquired) the main algorithm already. “What I don’t understand is why it’s named ‘Medusa’. My gut tells me it’s the key to understanding all this, and I’ve pored over every myth and story that mentions her, but no dice. I just can’t see the connection between an AI and a monster with snakes for hair. Or how Communion plans to control this thing once he’s built it.”

The last thing your brother had said, before he got angry at you for suggesting that he drop this project, was that he needed Communion’s own notes on the subject. If only he could get his hands on those notes. Or the source code for the AI, that would be even better. That’s why he wants to speak with Lord Justice, to warn him of the impending threat and to work with him on obtaining that information.

“I owe it to mom and dad,” he had said. “You wouldn’t understand, you were just a little kid then. The connection isn’t the same. You don’t feel it the way that I feel it, have felt it, for the last fifteen years. And you know what? I’m grateful for that. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

You swallowed your indignation and tried to talk him out of it but he wouldn’t hear anything about how long ago it was or how he has own family now, which he’s jeopardizing in the pursuit of this. What if Antimatter got wind of it? What if they targeted him? Or Bunny? Or his children? He only scoffed. How could they possibly get to him? They probably didn’t even know he existed. The only point of contact he had with Antimatter was the death of his parents. You wouldn’t understand. It’s the principle of the thing. It comes back around to the same saw: you didn’t love them as much as he did.

When you came downstairs afterward, you exchanged secret glances with Bunny in which you tried to express reassurance that it wasn’t what she feared. And when you had hugged her goodbye and she whispered in your ear if she could call you later, you hadn’t said anything. You still don’t know what you’re going to tell her. Phil swore you to secrecy, but maybe a shock like seeing his wife and children leave him, fearing for their own safety, would compel him to abandon his dangerous quest.

You pass by the gelato shop – closed now – and your wife looks sullenly out the window, not saying anything, only leaning her temple against the glass so that you can see her face in the reflection. You have another reason, of course. What if he figures out your wife’s identity? He’s already found about her previous life, as Natasha. It’s only a matter of time before he figures out the rest.

>[continue]
>Write-in
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>>4928460
Just go home and get a good long rest and try to figure things out the morning after. See whatever files of the new superhero we are mentoring and what equipment from our job we have avaliable
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>>4928460
...unfortunately, I don't really have any ideas today that'll help with solving conspiracies or learning how to stop a terror cell from creating a totalitarian dictatorship, just some small things to maybe possibly sway our wife to trust us more then a telepathic madman.
>Try to ignore Vicky's pleading look for ice cream. Fail badly and get some for her.
>When we get home, ask her if she'd be willing to turn off her stealth field when she's in the house, or at least when she's ready for bed while she's in our bedroom. If she wonders why, say it's so we can get used to it, and so she'll be more comfortable with us knowing this part of her.
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>>4928648
>ask her if she'd be willing to turn off her stealth field when she's in the house, or at least when she's ready for bed while she's in our bedroom. If she wonders why, say it's so we can get used to it, and so she'll be more comfortable with us knowing this part of her.

Lets not do that, i dont think Richard is ever gonna be comfotable with that.
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>>4928676
Personally, I think that if Richard never gets over it a bit, it'll end up being more of a wedge issue down the line. Especially if her gray skintone is what she normally looks like.
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I'm kinda new here not sure if this is something that qst does, but my thoughts as to why a Super AI project would be called "Medusa" are as follows;
1: Like how if you gaze upon Medusa she will turn you to stone. If anyone finds out about the AI, they will be killed by Communion, or the AI it's self.
2: In most depictions Medusa was a former lover of Poseidon, who was punished with the snake hair form when they were caught having sex in a temple of Athena, possibly referencing the AI's creation? Maybe with Phil and Richard's Father involved?
3: Lastly Medusa is slain by Perseus, son of Poseidon. If the previous point is true then it's clearly a parallel to Phil trying to take down Communion, weather he succeeds is up to the qm

I am not expecting any kind of response from the qm, especially if anything I typed is accurate, but I wanted to put my thoughts out there and see where it leads.
also preemptively saying I hope I did spoilers correctly
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>>4928834
Good points.
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>>4928834
speculah and/or shadowrunning is definitely a /qst/ thing, and QMs often respond if the answer isn't story-critical
addressing your points:
you're mixing types of theory here. 1 is something that in-story characters might do, while 3 and possibly 2 are stylistic choices for the story from an external influence (the writer).
1 and 3 are decent ideas, but 2 is terribly unlikely in-story, and a bit obvious if it's a hint by the QM.

stick around -- decent writing is far too uncommon, but when it's there it's definitely worth it.
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So a telepath wants to use an AI to conquer the world? What a novel idea. He must be very confident in his ability to control it. I wonder if we could befriend it once it’s active?

But that’s neither here nor there now.

>grasp vickys hand for a brief while (we’re still driving after all)
>I’m sorry that bringing this up is uncomfortable to you, love. I’m not enjoying it either. But if we pretend it’s not happening we’re doing our future family a disservice.

How is she going to hide from her boss we’re aware again? Maybe we should be convincing her we’re on board with her so she can lie convincingly.
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>>4928834
To add on to what others have already said, I definitely encourage speculation as it helps me figure out your current expectations (so I can subvert or play with them to make a better quest) and gives me an idea of which direction players want the quest to go. Regarding your points, I'll only say that the first is the warmest. The second is also warm. More than that I can't say without also giving up the game.
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>>4928834
>If anyone finds out about the AI, they will be killed by Communion, or the AI it's self.
So Communion gets a psychic notification whenever somebody thinks about Medusa, or thinking about Medusa puts one of Communion's browser cookies in your brain (aka a Communion wafer), or Medusa's source code is a cognitohazard that makes you go insane if you understand it, or Communion intends to make a Roko's basilisk, or maybe I'm overthinking it and Communion just wants to keep this project secure by killing anybody with loose lips (and if you or your bro start telling people about it, the top suspect is Redstar).
>>
Maybe he is just into Greek Myths
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Dues ex machina. It won't end well
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>>4928460
Here goes OP I think I got it though

I think the key idea is how our Greek hero Perseus was able to defeat Medusa. The only way to defeat Medusa was to use her own reflection. So the only way to defeat an omnipotent supercomputer AI would be to create one yourself and have them duke it out.

Communion himself came up with this name because thats how he sees it playing out. Then the world has to deal with the implications of someone or some nation having control over an omnipotent supercomputer AI. Or one that has achieved independence. Resulting in them having world control of information? Infrastructure? etc. One side would end up with that complete control, and wouldnt be able to put it down incase someone else created another Medusa.

So good or evil, the world is pushed into that world he envisions atleast in part.

A minor idea was her snakehair, where every strand of hair was its own snake. So the main head could be connected to a bunch of little computer 'heads'. Then its pretty much trying to infect and gain control over as many other computers as possible to achieve the processing power it needs.
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>>4928460
Break in. Gotta fit into the wife's real occupation right?
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>>4929495
>Break in.
Where? Our brother's house, or that dive Redstar goes to, the Cadaver?

Also, is anyone getting a bad feeling that Communion's plan might involve our future kid somehow, and that he planned way ahead on us having a baby?
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Can someone summarize the actual votes? All this meta gaming is annoying.
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>>4929544
>comm. isn't powerful enough to control redstar outright, implants a make baby suggestion
>baby is just as physically strong as redstar, and mentally weak enough to be controlled
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>>4929565
Was thinking more, "Uses baby as stopgap measure to create an AI", but yeah, that could be one of his numerous baby related plans.
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>>4929550
Right now it's leaning toward the [continue] option as there's not much in the way of planning or action other than minor gestures toward your wife. I should have mentioned this in the beginning as well: the more leeway you give me, the more the quest will, in the spirit of comic books, tend toward the dramatic (and possibly tragic).
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>>4929633
Can you use a name?

>>4928460
Thanks and continue
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Just had a thought...

We know there's psychics, supersoldier serums, and classic flying brick supers. What other abilities and skills can help someone get a job as a superhero? Do you have to directly use powers to be considered a super, or can you go the Iron Man tech suit route, the Dr. Strange learned magic route, or even the Batman normal man, extraordinary amount of training/autism route to become one?
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>>4930247
we know there are super laws, so batman-style vigilantism probably isn't tolerated. clarketech is probably fine though as long as you act as a public cape.
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>>4930247
Oh, yeah, almost forgot the Mister Fantastic/Doctor Doom genius inventor route. It's possible Phil could be a low level version of this, or a classic one who's trying to go under the radar so he doesn't lose his wife and kids.

>>4930264
I'm more wondering if there's any non-powered ones who fill out a sort of supers diversity quota.
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Closed. Update Imminent.

>>4930269
>supers diversity quota
this made me lol. would make for a fun quest/story desu, parody the sjw agendas in large firms and academia. i can imagine it as a series of interviews with members of a super-team or an office-esque mockumentary following their day-to-day in the homebase.
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>>4929633
Wait, does this mean we're basically going to be constantly playing some kind of narrative tug-of-war with you if we don't want it to end in tears?
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>>4930288
>would make for a fun quest/story desu
I was actually coming at it from a dramatic angle, especially if we go the route of having Vicky defect and go hero. It could be one of the very few options open to us being allowed to stay married to her and being able to see our child with our own eyes, rather than only through a TV screen.
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>>4930299
Not exactly. It will be somewhere in the middle and your actions/write-ins will pull it in either direction (it already has to an extent)
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>>4930329
So long we dont make a deal with the devil in order to save the life of our aging aunt
>>
Your wife’s hand rests on the center console between the two seats. You snake your fingers through hers.

“Supermarket should still be open,” you say.

She shakes her head.

“I know,” you say, “it’s unpleasant, but we can’t just ignore it.”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it.” At the same time, she doesn’t take away her hand.

“When is your next meeting with them?”

“Are you going to spy on me again? I already promised you I’d do my best to–”

“I have a right know when my wife is going to be in danger.”

“I keep telling you that Communion isn’t like that.”

“He wants to conquer the world.” You turn to look at her. “You can’t see him for what he is because–”

“And I keep telling you that Communion would never use his powers on me, on any of us. I keep telling you but you won’t believe me.”

“That’s not what I was going to say.”

“This is just like before.” She squeezes your hand, forgetting, for a moment, her strength, causing you to snatch your hand away and cry out in pain. “I’m so sorry, darling. Are you alright? Did I hurt you?”

You flex the fingers a few times on the steering wheel. Nothing broken. “You’re blinded by gratitude,” you say. “He saved your life and now you think you have to repay him by doing whatever he asks.”

“We’re fighting for a good cause.”

“I’ve yet to hear what's so good about it.”

“If I told you, you’d just do the same thing you did before. I can’t let that happen. Yes, darling, you’re right. Yes, I feel grateful to him, but I also feel grateful to you – no, that’s not right – I feel grateful for you, that I met you and that we’re husband and wife. But you frighten me, darling.” Her eyes drop toward the glove compartment where you stashed the gun. “Sometimes I don’t understand you. I admire your resolve, I think I know its source, and I understand your grief, but sometimes,” she says, “sometimes it is too much.”

CONT.
>>
Later, in bed, you stare up at the ceiling, listening to the sheets rustle as your wife attempts to hug her knees to her chest.

“I’m only thinking of our child,” you say.

“And I’m not?”

“No,” you say. You turn toward her and kiss her shoulder. “That’s not what I meant. But if he’s going to be like you, how are we going to keep this a secret? And I’ll tell you something right now, Vicky, he’s not going to have anything to do with Antimatter.”

“Of course not.”

“Really? So how’s that going to work? He becomes a hero. His mother is a supervillain. His father an accomplice.”

“You give yourself too much credit darling, you’re a henchman at best,” she says. “Teasing.”

“It’s a serious question.”

“By then it won’t matter.”

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing, I shouldn’t have said anything. Let’s just go to sleep, darling.” She yawns. “It’s late.”

“He’s close now, isn’t he?”

“I’m sleeping, darling.”

“What if he’s wrong about this? Have you considered that? What if what he’s building is something beyond his control?”

Your wife stirs. “I never said we were building anything.”

“A new world of peace and security?”

“No, that’s not what you–” She sits up. “Darling, what were you and Phil talking about in the gameroom today?”

“Nothing. We were playing pool.”

She places her hand on your chest. “I may not be able to read minds like Communion but I can at least tell when my husband is lying to me. Well?”

“Bunny thinks he’s cheating on him.”

“She does? But he’s not.”

“How do you know?”

“I just meant,” she says, “that Phil’s adores Beth. He would never do that to her.”

“You know the lying thing goes both ways.”

“What did he tell you?”

“You’re right, it’s late.” You turn and sweep the covers over your shoulder.

“Darling,” she says, “it’s important for me to know if he’s going to try anything.”

“Will you tell me why Antimatter has him on surveillance?”

She hesitates.

“I will say that however you’re doing it, you guys are good. He doesn’t suspect a thing.”

Your wife grabs your shoulder. “You didn’t tell him, darling?”

You turn and face her. “And risk having to tell him about you? ‘Yeah you’re being surveilled by the people that killed our parents. Oh and by the way, my wife works for them. She’s a supervillain.’ Yeah, I’m sure that conversation would have played out nicely.”

CONT.
>>
She slumps back on the bed. The glow of a streetlight falls on her stomach, turning her nightgown transparent and showing the notch of belly-button beneath. One day soon that belly will swell with your child. A child gifted with powers you could only dream about in the orphanage, when you hunkered down in the bottom bunk with a flashlight, reading about Lord Justice, imagining the possibilities of flight and super-strength. It’s every ordinary father’s dream to birth a hero, the more so because it’s forbidden. You slip your hand beneath the gown and your wife shivers from the icy touch of your wedding band against her bare skin.

“I didn’t tell him anything,” you say. “I couldn’t risk exposing you.”

After a moment, she says, “I don’t know all the details. Communion likes to keep everything compartmentalized, even to his captains. I do know it’s something to do with his work.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I don’t understand it either.”

“But space exploration? What does that have to do with anything?”

“I don’t know. We’ve increased the surveillance in recent months. Something about satellites. Ghost is on that team, she’d know.”

You’ve heard of Ghost. She was a member of Supremum for a while, one of the youngest in their history. She even had a fling with Nighthawk before they found out she was working for the villains.

“You know her?”

“She’s one of the old recruits. Came through the traffickers like me. She was there when I joined. She was the one that helped me when I was trying to become Vicky.”

You lie in silence together. Finally your wife says, “I’ll ask her.”

“No,” you say.

“Ghost is different. She doesn’t care. She’ll tell me if I ask her, even though she’s not supposed to.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Ever since her cover was blown with Supremum, she’s become different. She was always a little gloomy, but now,” your wife says, “now she sometimes gets into arguments with Communion and the other captains. It almost came to blows one time and I had to step in. I think she misses her time on the outside. She never talks about Supremum or Nighthawk and the others say that she got too attached, that she fell in love or that he cheated on her or that she cheated on him and that’s why she broke her cover. It might have even been the same as us. Maybe he figured it out.”

“Except she couldn’t brainwash her way out of it,” you mutter.

“I think it was really her pride. She was supposed to turn Nighthawk and when everything fell apart and he didn’t come with her – she sees the surveillance detail as a kind of punishment, like Communion doesn’t trust her with the important things – which isn’t true at all. He just doesn’t want her to get hurt.”

“Are you sure about asking her?”

“She won’t say no.”

“That’s what I’m worried about.”

CONT.
>>
You return to work on Monday refreshed but not altogether reassured. When you arrive at your office at 6:45, an hour before you usually come in, you expect to find the place deserted. The overhead fluorescent panels are indeed off – except for the one below your office. Alice had the same idea and came in even earlier. She’s organized your things into a number of cardboard baskets. Despite the early hour she looks as impeccable as ever, only a single stray hair falling from her taut bun over her face, like the shadow of a balloon string. Her designer heels lie discarded next to the sofa. She’s been working in her stockings.

“Mr. Gardner,” she says, “I didn’t expect you so early.” She runs for her shoes and starts jamming them on. “If you give me a moment, I’ll fetch your morning latte.”

You hold up the coffee cup in your hand.

“Oh,” she says. “Then I suppose you’ll want to head upstairs. I’ve already moved the bulk of your files there – paper and electronic. I didn’t know if you wanted the potted plants, since they have already some there and they’re quite nice.”

“I think I’ll survive.” You pick up one of the heavier looking baskets, batting off Alice’s outstretched arms and protests until she resignedly follows you to the elevators. “You brought all your stuff up?”

She’s dazed for a second, like you had just addressed her in Japanese. “I-I didn’t know,” she says. “You’re taking me with you?”

“You mean Crawley didn’t tell you?”

“No, he just said you’d been promoted and to help you move things to one-forty-seven.”

“He probably just assumed you knew.”

“So… you are taking me with you?”

The elevator doors open. “No,” you say, “you’re fired.” You step inside, swipe your card and press floor 147. Alice stands outside the elevator looking like she just donated a large quantity of blood. You have to throw out your arm to keep the doors from closing on her.

“Get in here will you?” The doors close behind her a moment later. “You really thought I would leave you behind? O ye of little faith. Here," you say, "have a sip.” You put the coffee cup in her hands. She drinks greedily, leaving behind a little milk mustache which you decide not to breathe a word to her about. “This promotion is as much mine as it is yours, I could hardly could have done it without you.”

“Thank you, sir,” she says. “That makes me very happy.” She wipes her eyes with her wrist, getting a bit of the mustache with it.

CONT.
>>
Your office on 147 is almost twice as big as your previous one. There’s a private bathroom, a separate reception room for Alice and your own wall-monitor. The view is incredible. The walls, floor and ceiling have the same camera hook-up as the elevators so you can project different views of the outside onto the walls. It also allows you project holograms inside the room itself. A feature Alice takes no small pleasure in showing off. “Actually you have a teleconference today with the new client.”

“I thought she was coming in person?”

“She is,” says Alice. “Her parents will be joining the call.”

“Her parents? What, Perihelion and Firefly?”

“Lane and Sachiko Holdaway.” She reads off from her little spiral pad.

“She requested this?”

She tilts her head slightly. “Mr. Gardner.”

“Right, what am I saying.”

“Technically, she’s still a minor, so the parents are allowed to be there. Even if it is a bit–”

“Overbearing?”

“Indulgent.”

“What about representation?”

She flips a page. “She did have some a year ago. With Olympus, actually. They didn’t terminate her contract either, she did. The details are on your desk.” She points to a file with some print-outs. The pages are neatly stapled with the important bits already highlighted. You leaf through them.

“Anything in here about her mysterious hiatus?”

“You know about that? No, all I could find were some tabloid articles about a drunk driving incident. She was one of the passengers. It’s on page 3.”

You read out loud, “Isadora Holdaway, also known as superhero Perihelia, was among the passengers. She saved the lives of Jeaneatta and Charlie Strong and Armand Catanzaro, who was driving the three friends to a lakehouse in Cocklin Park for the weekend.” Your eyes scan down the page. “Did you read this? It says they found drugs in all their systems – except Isadora, that’s convenient. Cocaine, ecstasy, I can’t even pronounce this one. This is all you could find? This should have been a major news story.”

“I checked all the major news outlets for that week. Nothing. I tried to get in touch with the families of the other passengers,” she says, “but they weren’t available for comment.”

“How bad was it?”

“The Catanzaros were polite enough. The Strong family not so much. It’s understandable. Jeanetta Strong needed major surgery and Charlie Strong still needs braces to walk.”

“Parent’s must have buried it. Or Olympus.” You toss the file back down on the desk. “They don’t ever make it easy for us do they?”

“After that she was in her grandparents in Japan for a few months.”

“So it’ll be me and her, in person, and her parents in,” (you gesture to the sofas) “spirit?”

“Unless you wanted me to make some other arrangements?”

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4930554
Tell her it will be fine, then ask her to bring all files we have of Antimatter and other villain groups she can, We might be able to find something in there that could help us

Also looking up on any Advanced Computer Companies and Advanced AI development and see what we can find there.

Read through the files of our new hero. Have a look through our office, maybe check and see where they have us bugged.

Then probably get another coffe. Did i miss anything ?
>>
>>4930554
Let's not make strange requests right off of the bat unless we have a justification for them. And we may need to prepare some bullshit about our family emergency that got us skip the review meeting - they can look up we were with Mord, right? Maybe we can simply say we had a misunderstanding with our wife but all's cleared up now.

We wanted to talk to Honorguard or what was his name, no? Or have him present. I suppose there's no time for that now?

In any case we should make good first impression on the girl. She could be a valuable friend and ally, especially if she's immune to mind meddling. Though building a rapport will probably not be trivial.
>>
>>4930598
Getting info on Anitmatter the #1 terror group in the world when we are about to mentor a new superhero is not that strange
>>
>>4930621
It's still strange to single them out before something more personally related to the girl, and is extra suspicious to be asking for in conjunction with AI development day after having visited our brother.

It's good that we have some idea what to look for, but making active queries without a justification may also trip some alarms.
>>
>>4930624
Then we just add some extra files of the other secondary orginzations to hide it
>>
>>4930598
We can have honor guard be a hologram.
>>
>>4930564
Maybe bring up the files on the other two Holdaways, see what their previous run-ins with Antimatter were like, get an idea how much animosity towards them they could have instilled in Isadora. Might give us a clue how she'll react when we eventually spill the beans about Vicky's career to her.

After that, we should start forming a plot to (eventually) steal Paul's computer, in case he starts to figure out who our wife really is. Perhaps a burglary? Maybe Mord might be able to put us in touch with someone...

For now, though, test out the Hologram system by giving Honorguard a call. Maybe he'd be willing to give us more details about his previous experiences working with Perihelia, or perhaps to have him over for the meeting like we planned when we were first researching her.
>>
>>4930686
>>4930682

it might also be worthwhile looking into what relation Honorguard has with Peri's parents so we don't accidentally make things worse
>>
>>4930693
Okay, but I'm pretty sure Honorguard's closer to Perihelia's age then her parents.
>>
>>4930554
>Write-in
>See if you can get her grandparents on the phone. Just for the extra confusion
>>
I feel like we're going to cheat on our wife. We keep talking about our secretary and in this update we gave her an indirect kiss.
>>
>>4930719
...why?

Do research on Ojiisan and Obaasan, though, and see if any of the family has a connection to any Japanese tech companies. If one of the shell companies our brother has on his list is a place where Peri's relatives works or owns stock in, we might have an opening to disrupt Communion's AI plans, or at least get a possible source for information regarding AI creation.

>>4930729
Get that sort of thinking outta here, anon. We're a married man whose entire goal is to save his loving wife and future child from a terrorist cult.

Although, I am wondering now how Alice was treated by her former boss, especially by how she reacted to our joke...
>>
>>4930747
I don't want us too but I feel it will come up. Alice seems into us.
>>
>>4930747
Power move
>>
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>>4930729
>I feel like we're going to cheat on our wife.

How about No.
>>
Yes we're probably going to tap that secretary
>>
>>4930748
Then when it comes up, we're just going to have to tell her we love Vicky too much to hurt her like that. Plus, if Alice did succeed in seducing us, she's eventually going to wonder if we'd do the same to her when another, younger woman comes into our life. And down that road lies heartbreak all over again. Better for her to find someone else in Superstar, or possibly out of the company.

That's even assuming our wife won't get absolutely shitfaced when she finds out and go on a drunken rampage that'll likely kill people. That path ends in a lead injection to our brain.
>>
>>4930554
"Some files on a few active villain groups; M.A.L., Imperial, Antimatter, The Hench Union, whoever was most active recently or Peri has fought before. Maybe some young and angsty villains. This is still a trial run for us Alice, and I want to see if I can knock this out of the park somehow. Maybe try and get her on alert for activity from one of them and get a rivalry. People eat up rivals. Hard to say whose a good fit for her without more info though."
>>
>>4930747
she is spying on us, i shit you not. she was terrified that we fire her, and failing her mission.
>>
>>4930815
That would make her a lot less dangerous to us.
At this point, we're used to dealing with people with hidden agendas, but if Alice isn't connected to this whole mess then she's just creating more tension between us and Vicky.
Plus, if things go tits up it's very likely that she's going to die.
>>
>>4930729
>We keep talking about our secretary and in this update we gave her an indirect kiss.
I mean, she's our secretary dude. also we're not japanese so the indirect kiss thing doesn't work here
>>
>>4931091
Worked for me in HS
>>
>>4931141
Are you sure you’re not living in an anime?
>>
>>4931369
Guess things were different in 2004
>>
No post on the weekend again guys, sorry. Next post will be Monday.
>>
We need to become pic related. On both sides.
>>
>>4932291
Name ?
>>
>>4932780
its called empowered, lad
>>
Closed. Update imminent.
>>
>>4933611
Can't wait. This is my favorite quest!
>>
A few hours later, both you and Alice have settled into your new offices. It’s quiet in here, just sound of the central air and the clack-clack of your fingers on the keyboard – another perk of 147: soundproofed walls. You almost miss the hypnotic ambience of ringing telephones and muted voices downstairs, the wheels on Alice’s chair squeaking as she rolled around. It made you feel like you were part of something, a cell in a vital organ. The perfect, odorless, temperature-controlled silence of the upper floors feels sterile and suffocating in comparison. The low atmosphere of the mountain peak.

You glance at your phone for what must be the tenth time in so many hours. Your wife is supposed to text you after her meeting with Ghost. As a rule she hates texting. She can’t stand the grammar-less short-hand of it and writes out her messages like they were letters from the 19th century, but you made it clear that you’re not taking any calls today. You want to give your first client your undivided attention. Make a good first impression.

Perihelia’s superhero lineage runs deeper than you first thought. Alice mentioned she was staying her with grandparents for a while, so you looked them up on Herobase. They’re supers too. Retired, of course, and local to their native homeland of Japan, and not on the same caliber as their daughter and son-in-law, or even, you expect, their granddaughter, but a part of the legendary Golden Age nonetheless, one of the first supers. Back before there were supervillains. Back when the most a criminal could aspire to was a drug trafficking operation or smuggling in imported cars. They’re just regular people now. Grandpa works for a Japanese tech company, Shimuratech, that deals in brain-machine interfaces. They’re the ones that invented the brainwave dampeners Mord was talking about. Grandma does charity work. Mostly environmental stuff. Save the whales. Stop the deforestation. Clean up the radioactive waste. That sort of thing.

With two generations of heroes in her blood, Perihelia can’t be anything but a natural. This might just be the easiest first client that anybody’s ever gotten at Superstar – helicopter parents notwithstanding.

You finger the red intercom button on your desk. “Alice, how are we doing with the Honorguard thing?”

“I’ve just gotten a response from him. He’s in town. He’ll be here in about twenty minutes.”

“And Peri?”

“She’s already here. Currently in the theater,” she says, “I think.”

“Not those awful orientation videos? With the animated penguins?”

“I liked the penguins.”

“Philistine. Alright, I’m going down there now. Text me when Honorguard gets here and have him wait in my office.” Alice doesn’t respond. “What?”

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to meet with her without her parents present?”

“She’s a big girl,” you say. “As long as she doesn’t tell on me, I think we’ll be fine.”

CONT.
>>
Perihelia looks nothing at all like her photos. She’s wearing her hair long and straight now, tied up in a pony-tail. And it’s jet-black, not blonde. And she’s got a bit of a tan. You’ve made her smile a grand total of two times so far, both of them pity-grins. She has that “my-parents-are-dead” gaze the new kids in the orphanage would get after the first couple of months, when the initial shock of loss had subsided and the reality of never waking up to the smell of fresh pancakes or watching the ballgame with your dad ever again, had finally settled in.

When your phone blips with Alice’s text: HG in office. (followed by a penguin emoji), you’re almost relieved. Honorguard is sitting on the couch in your office, sipping fragrant tea from a thermos he brought with him. He’s in full regalia. Shiny black bodysuit. Shiny black boots. His helmet lies on the cushion next to him. He would probably would have come in with his sword and gun if they didn’t trip the metal detectors. At least there’s no blood him.

He gets up and does a Japanese-style bow when Perihelia enters, hands at his sides, head down. He’s half-japanese too, if you remember right. Perihelia barely acknowledges him. You’re not even sure she remembers him.

“This is Honorguard,” you say, “I think the two of you worked together a couple years back?”

“Why is he here?” asks Perihelia.

The question catches you off-guard and the silence draws on a little longer than comfortable. There was no mention of any animosity between them on Herobase.

“I requested it,” says Honorguard. Bless him, he’s true to his name. “I heard you had joined Superstar and I thought you might wish to see a familiar face your very first time here.”

“I don’t remember you,” says Perihelia.

Honorguard looks like he just accidentally tossed his toothpaste cap into the toilet. “Superbulous,” he mumbles, “Two-thousand fifteen. March and April. We partnered a few times. The mission was to capture low level dealers targeting high-school students on the west coast.”

“Oh,” says Perihelia. “OK.” She sits down across from him on the sofa.

You clap your hands. “Who wants coffee? Peri? H.G?” He sips his tea. “Oh, right.” You buzz Alice to bring in some coffee and pastries. She was already preparing the tray.

Perihelia nibbles on a croissant. Honorguard keeps glancing up at her and looking down at his cup. The only way this could be worse is if Alice just came in and kicked you in the groin.

“You look,” says Honorguard, “different.”

“I used to dye my hair,” says Perihelia, showing some mercy, “because I didn’t want it to change color whenever I transform.” She demonstrates. The lights in the room dim slightly as her hair begins to fuse together into an ethereal golden blob. “I don’t care about that anymore, though,” she says, letting it return to its natural black.

CONT.
>>
“I used to read your blog, Perithoughts-dot-super.”

“Oh gosh.” She touches her cheeks with both hands. She’s smiling a little. Not the toothy perfection from her profile page but more real than anything you’ve seen so far. “Really?”

“Yes.”

“God, I’m so sorry. It was so cringe, right?”

“I didn’t think so,” says Honorguard.

“Really?”

“Yes. You wrote well and I thought you captured the experience of being a superteen better than anyone else I had read. I especially appreciated your honesty regarding some of the negatives of the lifestyle, the alienation and fear that we must sometimes deal with. And the shame.” Honorguard keeps his eyes fixed squarely on his cup as he talks. He doesn’t see the way Peri is looking at him now. “I was very sad when you discontinued the blog and I’m not sure I wasn’t the only one. It was a refreshing change of pace from the narrative of invincibility and celebrity that pervaded the sphere. And still does, to an extent. For example, Brutaliate’s blog. Or Sang-froid’s videos. ”

“Ugh. Sang-froid.” Perihelion takes a bigger bite of the croissant. “Don’t even get me started on her. I was her side-kick for a while in Pretty Perfect. Total bitch.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah. No one was allowed to use her changing room. If you even looked at her funny, she made you apologize in front of everybody. Like, she wouldn’t say anything, but then the next day she’d casually bring it up in front of everybody and if you didn’t apologize, your butt was cut. Definitely in the top ten list of people you’d want to see get coffee thrown in their face.”

“I had no idea. I confess, I had something of a crush on her.”

She scoffs. “You should aim a little higher.”

“Yes,” he says. “I guess so.”

“What about you? You blog?”

“No,” he says, “I paint a little. That’s about it.”

“What?” She laughs. “I can’t imagine that. Like Bob Ross landscapes? Happy little trees?”

“Watercolors. Landscapes, yes, and a few portraits.”

“From life?”

“From memory.”

Alice buzzes you again. The parents are waiting to connect to the room. Honorguard gets up, bows to Perihelia, puts on his helmet and shuffles off, looking defeated. Peri’s gaze lingers on the door long after it closes.

“Alice,” you say. “Is Peri’s contact info listed on our client directory yet? You know, the directory where all of our client’s have their contacts listed?”

“Um. Yes?” says Alice. Peri is watching you closely.

“And that’s the directory with all of our client contacts, which anyone in the company, including our clients can access?”

“Are you feeling alright Mr. Gardner? You already asked me this exact question an hour–”

“That’ll be all, Alice,” you say. “Patch the parents through, please.”

CONT.
>>
The lights dim, the walls turn opaque, laser-beams shoot out from emitters on affixed to each wall. They meet at a single point then become diffuse creating a wireframe grid which quickly morphs into the 3D contour of two disembodied heads hovering above the couch cushions. The torsos follow and then the legs. One of the laserbeams begins to jump around on the face, etching out the finer details.

Soon you can make out a middle aged asian woman and a man wearing thick-rimmed glasses. Their mouths are moving but there’s no sound.

“–you hear us? They can’t hear us, Lane, are you sure you set it up right?”

“I’m pretty sure,” says Lane. “Let me check the box again.”

“Daddy, it’s OK. We can hear you.”

“Dora, my baby,” says the mother. “Are you doing OK?”

“Yes, mom, I walked in here all by myself.”

“Dora, don’t be flippant with your mother,” says Lane. The mother presses down on Lane’s wrist. Lane takes off his glasses and begins wiping them with the hem of his shirt.

“Mr. and Mrs. Holdaway,” you say, “I’m so glad you could make it.”

“Who are you?” says Lane. “Where’s Crawley?”

“My name is Richard, sir, I’m an agent of the firm. I’ll be personally managing your daughter’s PR needs.”

“Where’s Crawley?” says Lane. “I’ve never heard of you.”

“Daddy!”

“Lane!”

“Mr. Crawley is not available right now. I’m sure we can set up a meeting with him later, if necessary, but I should reiterate that your daughter is my client, not his.”

“I’m very sorry, Richard,” says the mother. “Yes, Mr. Crawley did mention you.”

“Don’t apologize, Sachiko,” says Lane. “Crawley said he was an executive. You’re not an executive. Are you?”

“Not yet, sir.”

“And how many supers have you worked with? How many clients?”

“Perihelia would be my first.”

“You see?” says Lane to his wife. “I knew we should have gone with Glamrus.”

“Daddy, please, you’re embarrassing me,” mutters Peri.

“I’m embarrassing you?” says Lane. “That’s rich.”

“Lane!” says Sachiko. “Please, get me a glass of water. Please, I’m very thirsty and I need a glass of water. Please, with ice.”

Lane puts his glasses back on, stands up, and blinks out of existence.

“I’m so sorry about my husband. He was against the idea of hiring a PR firm from the start, he thinks it’s beneath him somehow. I hope you can forgive his petulance.”

“Not at all. He’s worried about the well-being of his daughter, as would any father.”

Peri snorts. She reaches for her coffee cup.

CONT.
>>
“I can assure you,” you say, “your daughter is in good hands here.”

“I’m sure that’s true.”

Lane is back, shimmering into tenuous solidity as he sits down and hands a glass of ice water to his wife.

“Let’s talk about goals,” you say, addressing Perihelia. “What do you want to get out of Superstar? What does the next year or next three years look like? What’s your ideal outcome?”

Lane answers for her. “We want her to get into Supremum. We want her back on track.”

“Is that right, Peri?” you ask.

She nods into her coffee cup, not looking at anyone.

“Look, we all know she has the chops,” says Lane, “all we need from you is some face time with the cameras. Interviews, talk shows, red carpet events. And sponsorships. Good ones. She’s not like the others, the mutants. She’s beautiful. She could easily be the new face of Pepsi or Coke or Dior. Can you make that happen? Because if you can’t, we’ll go to someone who can.”

Your phone blips several times. It must be the text from your wife.

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4933984
Damn. HG is quite a bro.

Hmm... let's see... how about something like this?

>Mr. Holdaway, we are professionals. We don't do empty promises. We provide our clients with every tool, service and opportunity to realize their potential. I'm not going to promise you an arbitrary achievement that might even prove to be a disservice to your daughter's image in long run - I'm going to work on building her presence that will allow her to be the one who selects her contracts.

although I'm kinda bullshitting here because I'm not sure what we can actually bring to bear.
>>
>>4933984
HG is a fucking bro holy shit.

>Mr. Holdaway, we are professionals. We don't do empty promises. We provide our clients with every tool, service and opportunity to realize their potential. I'm not going to promise you an arbitrary achievement that might even prove to be a disservice to your daughter's image in long run - I'm going to work on building her presence that will allow her to be the one who selects her contracts.

glad you're still updating this qm, didn't think /qst/ made any new quality stories these days
>>
>>4933984
What a bad case of helicopter parents. Great call on meeting her earlier with Honourguard, such a bro.

So the current plan in my opinion:
1. Involve Peri in the conversation, somehow. Ask if there are any causes she is particularly passionate about, she must have been getting that tan somewhere. Plus, these parents are enough to give anyone a case of depression.
2. Throw the parents a bone. Allot of bones. All the bones, and make them disappear. I like this quite allot >>4934002


IF we want anything to be successeful, we need Peri involved.

Whatever we do, do not answer the phone immediately. It can wait 5 minutes.
>>
>>4933984
Continue, have you written other quests?
>>
>>4934002
>>4934016
Going with these. Maybe mention that we'll be trying to work with Isadora on what brands and companies she'd prefer to work with, seeing as she's closer to the pulse of what's currently popular in the youth market.

Also, try to get Isa into the conversation a bit. Lane's taking up most of the airtime, see if we can get him to start listening to her, or if he's going to just keep going.

Also, thank god for Honorbro. Gotta thank him properly when we can.
>>
>>4933984
>>4934033
Oh, yeah, forgot to link these together...
>>
>>4934002
This is good, also ask Peri if she wants to continue her blog

Every time I read Supremum I think supermum, an all super mother team
>>
>>4934016
>>4934002
HG sound like a real chill dude
also supporing
>>
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Forgot to post the pics related. Here's Honorguard.
>>
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...And Perihelia
>>
>>4934466
>>4934469
Got one of Redstar in Vicky mode?
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>>4934469
Nice public mound
>>
>>4934466
>>4934469

Honest and emotionally open Slade?
Emo starfire?

What kinda shit is goin on at this place.
>>
>>4934002
>supporting
>>
>>4934002
>>4933984

Supporting. We are also PR bullshitting is our job
>>
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>>4930729
No
Even if you are enough of a complete and utter scumbag to do that are you really wanting to get viciously killed by your angry superhuman wife who is more than willing to kill dozens of people at a time?
>>
>>4935173
Yeah
>>
>>4935189
Then this is as good a time as a y to bail on the qst
>>
>>4935199
K
>>
No update today I'm afraid. I'll try to work on it a little today and maybe post tomorrow. Either way I'll keep you guys posted.
>>
>>4935581
Well, crap... Thanks for the update, though, QM. Guess we'll just post theories about the plot and whatnot.

I'm betting before he died, Dad worked for/with Communion on super soldier serums, then injected Phil and us with it when he realized what Communion's plan was. Because of how Dad developed it, the serum stays dormant in our systems for most of our lives, with a minor improvement in either intelligence or physical health, but it only fully expresses itself through any offspring we or Phil might have. Thus, while Phil might be a damn fine inventor/aeronautical engineer, his kids might end up creating a reliable teleport system or actual flying cars. Thus, a reason for Phil to be surveilled, and for Redstar to be assigned us as her cover: Both of us are to be used as baby factories for Communion's inevitable supersoldier army when they take over.
>>
Hug your wife and tell her you love her
>>
Its inevitable. We are going to bang our secretary.. actually im ok with that
>>
>>4936320
of course you are, coomer.

>>4935620
I ... really don't want that to happen. It reduces the value of our relationship with our wife, if it was an organisational prerogative.
>>
Closed. Update imminent.
>>
Can’t let yourself be distracted. You press the power button on your phone without taking it out, putting it on silent.

“Mr. Holdaway,” you say, “Superstar doesn’t do empty promises. We’re not selling used cars or diet pills here. We’re professionals. I'm not going to promise you an arbitrary achievement that might, in long run, prove to be a disservice to your daughter's image and I’m certainly not going to force her in directions she’s not comfortable with. I am going to work with her to build a presence that no one will be able to ignore. I am going to help her become the version of herself she knows she can be. And we don’t want Supremum to choose her, Mr. Holdaway.”

“Oh no?” says Lane.

“No, sir,” you say, “We want her to choose Supremum. Isn’t that why she quit Olympus and became a private agent? Isn’t that why you came to us? It isn’t enough that Coke or Dior or even Supremum ask her for her hand in holy sponsorship – they should be on their knees when they do it.”

Lane is silent. Mrs. Holdaway is choking on ice water. Isadora’s mouth is hanging slightly open. She looks like a goldfish.

You deliver the finishing blow.

“Now, if you still feel unsure, or if you feel in any way unsatisfied with what I’ve said here, then by all means shop around. I encourage it. Go talk to Glamrus, go talk to Waterbury, ask them if they’re willing to put one of their executives or even one of their lower-tier managers on a single, brand-new, untested, underage client. See if you don’t get laughed out of the building. But that’s precisely the reason why they’re number #2 and we’re not. Do you want your daughter to be number #2 Mr. Holdaway? In anything?”

Lane shakes his head.

“Neither do I. We’re not after money here, Mr. Holdaway. We’re not after popularity. Those are second-rate goals for second-rate players and your daughter is a first-rate player. This is Superstar. Glory alone interests us. That’s why we represent three of the six core members of Supremum. That’s why we’re number one.”

CONT.
>>
After the meeting, Perihelia is all praise. “I’ve never seen anyone talk to him like that,” she says. “Did you see his face?” She imitates her father’s fiddling with his glasses. “’Um, yes, that sounds acceptable.’” She laughs. “That was awesome.”

“I think you should start up your blog again,” you say.

“What?”

“I think you should–”

“No, I know what you said. Why?”

“Well, either that or some other kind of writing. Like memoirs. Or even fiction, if you’re up for that.”

She crosses her arms.

“It’s an easy way to build some initial publicity. I’ve read bits of your blog myself and H.G was right,” you say, “you’re a good writer.”

“I won’t do it.”

“Alright.”

“Alright. Really?”

“We’ll think of something else.” You reach for a donut and pretend to think.

“I won’t be censored. If I can’t be honest–”

“The last thing we want is for you to lie. In print, that’s called libel.”

Perihelia puts her hands together and leans forward. She looks like a prizefighter in a locker-room, all taped up, waiting to be announced. “I’ll write a novel. Everybody writes memoirs now, it’s cliche, and you can tell the truth in a novel. You can tell the truth better with a lie.” She thinks for a minute. “I’ve never written a novel before.”

“We can help with that.”

“It’ll take a while. I have some ideas but nothing on paper.”

“You have till the end of the year.”

“That’s what? Five months? That’s not enough time.”

“Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath in five months.”

She gives you a look.

“Try your best. We just need a first draft, to show the publishers you’re serious.”

She nods slowly. “You really meant all that stuff you said? Glory? They should be on their knees?”

“I played it up a little for your father, but yes. You have great potential, Peri, it’d be a shame for it to go to waste.”

She scoffs. “Yeah, haven’t heard that one before.”

“What do you want? We haven’t talked about that yet.”

“What do you mean? You heard the old man, get into Supremum, become the face of designer handbags and soda-pop. Every girl’s childhood dream.”

You get up and sit down beside her. You don’t say anything, you just wait.

“What?” she says. “Look, I get it alright, you’re just trying to do your job. It’s too late for that anyway. I’m two generations of superhero deep. It’s like those families where all the boys become ministers or something. Or you know, royalty. You can’t just leave it all behind and become, like, a normal girl, you know, fall in love, get married, have a couple of kids and die – you have a responsibility, a purpose.”

“Your parents got married and had kids.”

“See, I knew you wouldn’t get it.”

CONT.
>>
“I get it more than you know,” you say, thinking of Vicky. “But the point is, that’s not all you want. Some part of you does want that other life. Don’t tell me you didn’t get goosebumps when I said Supremum would kneel for you. And don’t think for a second that I was kidding around.”

She lays her hands flat on her thighs, moving them back and forth like a polygraph needle. “You married Mr. G?”

You raise the back of your hand, showing off the wedding band. “Six years.”

“Kids?”

“We’re trying.”

“Happy marriage huh? I can see why you work so hard.”

You don’t answer.

“What if, in the end, I decide I don’t want any of this? What if I want to quit?”

“Hopefully,” you say, “I’ll have been promoted by then. But in either case I’ll be there to help you with the transition, every step of the way. You won’t quit though.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, you’ll find some way to make it work. Part of you loves all this too much to quit.”

Once she’s gone, you have Alice hold all your calls for half-an-hour so you can get in a quick lunch and read the messages your wife sent you. It’s almost entirely bad news.

It turns out that the satellites your brother is working on are part of a new military information network, a kind of ARPANET 2.0, except on a global scale. Your wife still doesn’t understand why Antimatter would be interested in such a project, but you do. If the super-AI that Communion is building ever got control of this network, that would be the end of democracy. Antimatter isn’t trying to hinder your brother’s work, they’re trying to ensure it goes on without a hitch. That’s the good news. Phil’s project leader so, for the moment, he’s untouchable.

The bad news is that the CEO of BluCorp, Scott Crane, wants to restructure the company. In response to Tilton’s recent success with personal consumer electronics, BluCorp wants to switch from government contracts to innovating in the private sphere. He’s planning to spinoff the Pale Blue Dot Company as part of a larger, ‘leaner-meaner’ clean-up. This would slow progress on the Infonet to a crawl and Antimatter can’t have that. They’re planning to take Scott Crane out of the picture before years end. Vicky – Redstar – has been assigned command over the mission.

CONT.
>>
All of this is written in a code you and your wife came up with last night. To any outside it just looks like a wife complaining about the checkout line at the grocery. You can’t resist looking up Scott Crane on your computer. He’s married. A father of three. Donates generously to St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital. Has the largest collection of wargame miniatures in the world. Several videos of him painting them with specialized tools and painstaking care. A human being in all respects. Not malicious, just driven. And your wife is going to kill him.

There’s another message. This one from an unknown sender. You almost dismiss it as spam at first, out of habit, then you catch sight of the word Vicky in the text. It’s short and to the point. A phone number and the words, “I know about Vicky. Call me.” below it.

>[continue]
>Write-in
>>
>>4936574
Get some files on Perihelia parents and family, lets see just what kind of legacy we are dealing with, we might also get some ideas from it

If we are to call that number, we dont do it in the office and we dont do it from that phone. Also see what we can do about that BluCorp situation
>>
>>4936574
Fuck. Or as Is the saying, the devil always shits on the biggest pile.

Is it brother related or Mord related, or an entirely separate channel? Either case we’re going to have to call and feign ignorance (yes, I know she’s eating junk food even if it’s bad for her cholesterol…)
>>
>>4936574
Continue. Great write up.
>>
>>4936574
also love what you made of that speech.
feel doubly motivated to deliver for the gothfire now desu
>>
>>4936574
Welp.

Take some money out of our bank account, enough to purchase one or two prepaid cell phones. Call up the number on one of those cells when we're at that park we were at when we last called Mord. Make sure you have some way to write down what this guy wants. Then after that, at home, ask Vicky a bit more about Ghost/research Ghost, to get a better picture of her and to see if there might be a way to subvert her somehow. Finally, see about setting up a date night for Friday night with Vicky, something to distract her from our efforts at undermining Communion.

Oh, and buy some more ammo and magazines for the Glock, a collapsible baton, and pepper spray, maybe get some range practice in, in case of an attempted kidnapping or blackmail attempt.
>>
>>4936609
Oh, almost forgot. Might as well take a page out of what we told Isadora to do and start a journal about what we've learned, in case we get mind-wiped again and someone needs us to get back up to speed.
>>
>>4936616
You sure it is a good idea to leave that kind of written evidence laying around ?
>>
>>4936632
It's more risky if we do it on a computer, could get hacked unless we keep it off the internet. Maybe we could put the files we make into a flashdrive, carry it around with us? Makes sense to have an exec carry around a flashdrive to keep sensitive company info on, rather then just storing it full time on a computer.

Just gotta keep it on a lanyard around our neck at all times, and stay out of any Medieval themed restaurants while we're at it.
>>
>>4936664
I think it's too hazardous to do at all. We need to run into specific circumstances to get mindprobed and mindwiped but all it takes is a bit of bad luck and/or pretty much any mundane thug encounter for a whole lot of forbidden knowledge falling into hands that spell disaster for us and our wife.

For now I'm interested what relation Peri has with her grandparents, maybe they could hook us with some anti-mind-meddle tech?

And maybe we could look into possibilities how to avoid necessity of removing Crane from the picture without dying. Ideally in such a way where waifu could abort the hit without falling into suspicion she's getting squeamish. Like if he suffered a faked accident, or got removed from his position by the board... maybe even better, somehow create such a situation where Crane's disappearance or change of mind would not just slow the project down but scrap it entirely, that would get Communion to call the hit off entirely.


also the mysterious messager might not actually be aware of our wife's identity, they may be knowing about something else. Or they may turn out to be an ally. Though that is a flimsy hope to hold on to.
>>
>>4936574
>Write-in
Debate about tell our wife or not, use our resources to check out and track that phone number if we can, and if we tell our wife, we ask her to look into it if we can.
>>
>>4936710
>For now I'm interested what relation Peri has with her grandparents
I'd imagine they're somewhat close, seeing as she we