Shout at the Devil…

Shout at the Devil…

Terra had sat in the booth of the bar where Cassie had appeared and made her offer,  for at least another hour, maybe more. The two beers she had essentially conned out of the woman she had already christened as Tina Tiara remained before her untouched and unopened their temperature warming by the second. A single hand remained loosely gripped around the closer of the two bottles despite the fact that drinking its contents had not really occurred to the Terra given her current contemplative state. 

As she sat the jukebox continued to play through the mountain of quarters she had slid into the machine just before Tina’s arrival. On most occasions this would have resulted in a one girl dance party, with an occasional added participant if anyone deemed worthy appeared. Today however Terra sat not dancing and not even drinking, truly Cassie had been the worst thing she had ever experienced. To say Terra resented being made to sit still and consider her future would be a Grand Canyon sized understatement. All she had wanted to do tonight was find a bar, get wasted and make as many bad decisions as she could by last call. 

Instead she sat in a booth that only grew worse in smell as the hour continued to grow later. The eventual odor to be found in your typical dive bar could not be said to be even remotely pleasing, and Terra had normally moved on or become to intoxicated by this point to notice. She knew what she had to do of course, she had to make a call and see what he had to say about the situation. It had been a rather long time since they had last spoke and as had been the usual for years now it had not been a pleasant conversation. Still she knew she had best not let him find out from anyone else…or god forbid from the national news if her heroism made headlines. 

Reaching into her purse that had been placed on the tabletop she slides out a small black flip-phone, flipping it open she begins to reluctantly dial his number. 

After what had seemed an eternity Terra finishes inputting the numbers and for a few minutes more she sits staring at the light blue glow of the keys on her phone, an old school Razor that she had refused to part with. Reluctant or not she knew putting off the call would end badly for someone. Maybe her, but more likely any new friends she had made, It wouldn’t be the first time. Resisting the urge to gulp for dramatic effect Terra hits send and listens as the strange dial tone that happened whenever she called one of his secured numbers began to ring in her ear.

It came as little surprise when no one answered, she had not truly expected him to. Usually when she checked in it went that she called and left a message and he would respond later if at all. Terra had come to prefer this as it allowed her to prepare her responses so as to minimize just how angry he would become with her. She could think of little she hated more then upsetting the man who had been her only real father figure. So as the dial tone stopped and the beep sounded to indicate she could leave her message she began to speak in a slow and hushed tone. 

“I know you said to only call if there was an emergency….but I’d say this qualifies. I don’t know if your working or what but this might be a face to face thing. I’ll let you be the judge Slade.”

A second passed and Terra actually did gulp as she realized she had said his name, secure line or not she had been told never to do that. He’d had said when he told her this that you never knew who might be listening. Still what was done could not be taken back and so she continued on. 

“The girl from the press conference…Wonder something or another..she just approached me. Asked me about joining her cause and playing hero too I guess. I don’t know how she found me! It actually gets worse….”

Pausing there as she consider just how to say the next part, this would be the part he would likely dislike the most. She would have to phrase it the best way possible…

“She said someone else is out there…she didn’t say a name.”

Stopping long enough to finally twist the top off of the beer still in her hand Terra turns it back drinking nearly half of it before stopping. The urge to drink it all in as close to an instant as she could manage only grew as she considered who the mysterious organization might be, but she knew better then to keep The Terminator waiting. 

“Could it be them? The one’s who sent you to…well you know where…”

He had never gone into the details of the job that had brought him to Markovia or exactly why he hadn’t handed Terra over to the people who had sent him, but he had made it clear they could not learn she still lived. If they did it would lead to considerable trouble for them both and he would not allow that. 

“I’m out here alone, and I know I can’t expect you to be here. What I’m saying is I think I need to take the offer from Wonder bra. Maybe I’ll get a mask or something so I’m hiding in plain sight. I think i can get these idiots to protect me…”

Pausing as she considered her words yet again.

“Besides you can’t tell me having an inside line on a something like this wouldn’t be a good thing. If you can get back to me tell me what you want me to do…and be careful out there.”

Flipping the phone closed Terra places it onto the table as she gulps down the rest of the beer in her hand, she then reaches for the second.

“Well that’s that..time I saw about this safe house.”

Popping open the second beer and taking a long swig from it as her eyes remain firmly on the phone on the table before her. She had no expectation of it ringing so soon, but a part of her really hoped it would.

“Let’s hope the fridge isn’t all apple juice and Vitamin Water.”

That said she slides the phone into her purse and exiting the booth makes her way for the door.




Rock, Paper, Sublime

Rachel Goldman (Sublime)

*Metropolis, a few blocks from Union Station*

*It’s a quarter after 10 PM and most of the usual commuters have already gone home to their families- only those burning the midnight oil on a deadline, medical and service industry shift workers, and those who probably should know better are on the streets and not tucked away inside a car or a warm building. During the day, Union Station is not just a transit hub; it’s a landmark of the city, the first real experience of Metropolis that many are met with as they get out of the trains that have brought them in from not just the suburbs, but the rest of the country. But at night? There’s another element that has begun to start marking off its territory.*

*A few poorly-lit streets by the train station isn’t enough to scare me. I might not have been born in the city, but I know enough not to go making eye contact or to acknowledge the occasional, “Hey, miss…can you spare…” whether it’s for money, a joint, or worse. You don’t stop. You just keep walking as if you’ve got headphones on, whether or not you actually do…which, at this time of night, it’s probably better that you don’t, that is, unless you want to lose them, or your phone for that matter.*

*But, that’s it…with my blonde hair, it’s kind of hard to -not- get attention sometimes. There’s all these assumptions, but it’s a fucking hair color… assumptions that I’m sure that the group of three guys who are starting to follow me, are probably making right now. They’ve got hoodies on, so it’s hard to tell exactly how old they are, but they’re probably younger than I am…maybe even teenagers, because teenagers love doing stupid shit. I’ve got a purse, so this might just be your average attempted mugging… or at least they’ll think it is.*

Tara Markov (Terra)

Tara had come to adore Union Station during her short time in the city of tomorrow. It had all the elements she needed to make a killing in her current choice of trade, petty theft. Not the most glamorous of professions but she had been warned more then once through the years to stay off the grid, and she did not want to see her advisor angry. With so many coming and going and most just trying to do so as quickly as possible it was easy enough to bump a shoulder, grab a wallet or a phone and fade away into the crowd.

Tara excelled at this.

Bumping a young waitress who only moments ago had stepped off a train. The poor girl had been frantically texting someone every moment since she had placed on a foot on the platform and barely registered the impact, she paid even less mind as Tara snatched up a wad of cash from the floor that had tumbled from the girls purse.

Shit maybe she should start waiting tables, oh right no grid.

Smiling and apologizing Tara hands her a compact that had also slid out which the girl snatche back in a huff before hurrying off and again texting the entire way.

“If that’s Tinder don’t fuck’em the first time out…”

Smirking wide Tara exits the main station and makes her way to a side street and a safer spot to count her latest haul. Glancing up from her spot she caters sight of Sublime, and then the following trio coming up behind. She tries to convince herself she doesn’t care and goes back to counting.

Rachel Goldman (Sublime)

I’d like to think that I’m the captain of my own destiny, but I’m not. I’ve never been. That hardly makes me a push-over though. Even when I was just a kid I learned that there was no point just in crying over shit. You had to either shut up or do something about it. I was a do-er, not whiner. Even now, I know that I’m tethered to a leash that will keep me from just taking off and heading to climb Mt. Everest or hiking through the Amazon. Big Brother’s watching. So, there’s no point in complaining, because they know everything…and well, it’s not really so bad. It’s not like someone put a gun to my head…well, at least not yet, and even then, that person will have to contend with what I’ve become.*

*That said, I’m in Metropolis on business, even if I haven’t gotten all the details yet. I’m not suited up; the only thing ‘iconic’ about me would be my hair tacked up in the Japanese pins just to get it out of the way. I’m in boots, leggings, and a thin, cropped sweater over an open trench. It’s not that cold.*

*The guys are still behind me, their pace getting a little quicker, if anything. There’s someone else, a girl….and it looks like she’s got a handful of money. She’s not going to have it for long if she doesn’t take care. I can handle myself, and if I were more of the boo-hoo woe-is-me type, I’d bemoan that I’d led those toughs behind me to her.*

*It’s just about that time when one of the guys motions to the two others, having spotted Tara. Apparently, they decide that they can get two for the price of one. One’s broken off from the group behind me…*

“Hand it over, sister.” *Says the guy, approaching Tara with a knife drawn.*

*I can hear what the hooded thug has said and I’ll stop, even though he’s addressed her, and not me. I shouldn’t be getting involved.*

“You, too, blondie. Let’s have that purse.” *Shouts one of the ones behind me. There’s probably another knife or two involved, but I haven’t turned around, so who’s to say for sure. But BLONDIE? Really?*

“Fuck off.” *Is all that I’ll say as I’ll turn around. And no, the purse isn’t going anywhere.*

Tara Marko (Terra)

Oh for fucks sake…”

Tara said loudly her frustration timed a little to perfectly to a low rumble beneath the feet of those gathered nearest to her, it had to be the trains. Folding the wad and tucking it inside her leather jackets inner pocket she pushes off the wall she had been leaning against and takes a few slow steps closer to the approaching men.

“How does the City of Tommorrow still have something so old school as muggers?”

Tara asks the group her disdain given no effort at being hidden.

The man in the lead steps closer still bringing his blade up to lift a tuft of Tara’s hair up to his nose which he smells a devilish grin appaearing across his face, apparently he liked the smell of dime store shampoo.

His free hand comes up as if he intended to perhaps grab an entire handful of her bleach blond locks. But just as he steps forward to improve his stance he finds his foot will not move, looking down the concrete itself has moved up and over his foot to hold him firm.

“Care to see how I get my rocks off?”

Now it was Tara’s turn to grin with evil intent.

Rachel Goldman (Sublime)

Reputation, reputation, reputation. Metropolis might be all shine on its exterior, but there’s dirt in the crevices where it’s harder to polish no matter how many spin-doctors are at work on the propaganda machine, and there’s probably a lot more here than in most places…but this doesn’t mean that all the grime has been completely eradicated. The righteous don’t stop to look for it, and if you’re not looking, it’s not ‘there’…but, maybe it is? These three men were certainly real at least. Maybe they’d been given the boot at some nice job a couple of weeks ago or maybe they’re just not-more-than-kids out for some excitement, or maybe they’re henchmen out on their own? It doesn’t matter….well, for now it doesn’t. They’re real, and they’re here, and that ‘reality’ gets all the more real when the distance closes between Tara and her attacker. It’s hellishly creepy.*

*This is the kind of thing that reminds me a little of that nut-job Threshold…except this guy? He’s not Threshold…not by a long-shot. There’s something at work, though, as the ground shifts and it’s taken hold of the guy. That girl, Tara, she’s controlling it somehow. I can’t waste too much time trying to figure out the hows and whys right now, because seeing their comrade immobilized has just egged on the other two.*

*One goes to try to free the guy trapped in the concrete, which is pretty dumb, because if Tara is controlling it, then he’s game for the same treatment.*

*The other comes toward me, and there is a knife involved.* “Stupid bitches…” *He mumbles, ready to try to slash at my face. Yes, go for the face against a pretty girl, dumbass, because you want to give me something to remember you by? Well, you’re not going to be so lucky…*

*There are a few ways of handling this. I can change the structure of my body from becoming invisible to a diamond-like hardness, and I can do this with the whole thing, or just individual parts. That’s one way…but that’s going to generate questions, especially when there’s someone else watching…a someone else, that I don’t need to be asking questions, because for all that I know… she might be on the same payroll that I am. So, I’m going to do this the -right- way. Sure it’s not the -flashy- way….but I think it’s going to end up the same way.*

*I’ve had years of martial arts training…this is part of what I was “doing” when other people were whining or dreaming, or just wasting their damned time. I’m faster than this street thug, and the few years that I’ve got on him, that’s nothing. I can snap his neck, but having a body to contend with is just going to create more paperwork. I just need for him to get a message.*

*My arm goes up and I’ll be able to grab onto the thug’s arm, and I’ll break it so fast that he’ll have no idea what’s happened apart from the pain, and the knife falling from his grip because he’s now clutching the broken arm with his good hand. I’ll kick that knife down the street, past where the others could make a play for it.*

“Now get the fuck out of here before either I call the cops or you wind up with a matching set.” *I said to the thug. “And take your friends with you.” *Well, if he -could- do that…*

“You doing ok?” *I’ll then shout out to the other girl.*

Tara Markov (Terra)

Tara very nearly snarls as the remaining thug moves to free the currently immobilized member of their group, her eyes take on an eerie yellow glow as she raises both her hands. It would be so easy to kill them both and even easier to dispose of the bodies into a hole so deep a man in China would be the first to find them.

Tara though chooses a path of lesser evil and pulls one hand back a dislodged chuck of masonry from a nearby wall flying to then around her hand. She The does the same to the second.

Clenching her rapidly crumbling gauntlets she swings and knocks the free thug onto his back, then swings to her other hand into the immobilized mans stomach the makeshift weapons exploding into dust and bits of rock as she does. If Tara was at all concerned about being seen using her abilities she didn’t show it.

“I’m just dandy….”

Turning now to look at Rachel and then down to the still screaming man at her feet. Raising an eyebrow a small portion of what had been her gauntlets attaches to the mans mouth to quiet him.

“Do I need to worry about you too?”

Rachel Goldman (Sublime)

For fuck’s sake…yeah, it just got even more real, and I’m not even on the clock….well, not -yet- officially. So much for spending my first night in town at some trendy lounge with appetizers and a drink or two, because if the three street toughs didn’t turn over that apple cart… at least there’s not been any -major- damage done…well, no body bags needed so far.*

*I don’t even need to get out my phone when the guy with the broken arm decides he’s going to wuss out and leave his buddies because he doesn’t want to deal with Rock-Girl. She could probably make the others living gargoyles or dust in the wind if she so chooses….and that makes her dangerous.*

*On the clock…off the clock… hell, does it even matter? It’s not like I’m going to get paid overtime…and my morale? Well, it’s not the worst, not the best. I do my job when I’m on the clock. Do I go for extra credit? I don’t know… maybe I need to see what’s in it for me? Maybe not.*

“I don’t know…do you?” *I’ll take the smart-ass card right now. I’m not immediately recognizable to most of the general population even when I’m suited up, so I’m not worried that I’m being outed. I mean, hell, I didn’t use my powers, and anyone who has spent enough hours in a gym or dojo or could done what I just did.. Still, I’m not shaking in my boots literally or figuratively. I’m just going to see where this goes.*

Tara Markov (Terra)

It was right about then Tara realized just how stupid this display had been. Three thugs in an alleyway did not warrant the full on earth bender mode. But damned if it hadn’t felt great to cut losose again after so long. Looking down to her dusty fingers she flexes them a few times before looking back to Rachel.

“How about you just forget you saw that and we each hope we never see each other again?”

As she finished the question her fingers tightened into a fist and the feint yellow glow of her eyes brightens for a fraction of a section in an unspoken punctuation to the implied threat.

“I’m not interested in discussing alternative options.”

Rachel Goldman (Sublime)

At no point do I have one of those “Hello, my name is” stickers… with “Nowhere agent” written underneath it in a sharpie marker stuck anywhere on me. But either it’s like taking to like, because I don’t know -everyone- in the system, and that doesn’t mean that Rock-Girl isn’t part of it, but the way that she’s getting apprehensive leads me to believe that she’s not with us….*

*Part of me feels like there’s a challenge being issued…that Rock Girl thinks that she can intimidate me, or at least get me into some kind of a girl fight. Should I take the bait? It’s probably not a good idea, not because I’m scared… she can’t concrete me if she can’t see me, but it’s a question of motivation, and just -how- motivated I am. Do I do my job and try to beat the shit out of her into submission… or do I let it go? Or take some kind of middle ground. I’m kind of ticked off that I missed out on the promise of some tasty little things wrapped up in lettuce or fried in plum wine sauce….but do I take this out on her when she’s already had shit thrown her way tonight?*

“I don’t know… I’m not so good at forgetting.” *I said with just a shrug.* “I guess I’ll just have to take my chances.”

*So, I’m willing to let this drop…for now. Later, I can see what I can dig up in the Nowhere databases if there -is- one of us with powers like her that fits her description, and if she’s not there…well, maybe it’ll be time for me to have a conversation with the bosses, and see what’ll be offered. Is that bitchy? Maybe…but I’m not above seeing if I can get something for myself out of it on top of the whole making the world a safer place and all, blah, blah, blah.*

*So, I’ll back off slowly, and if Rock-Girl lets me go, then so be it… if not…well, then it’s on.*


Kill Katana Vol. 1

Kill Katana Vol. 1

The trouble with revenge is that is never truly accomplishes anything. It is a dish best served cold and continuously and it is dish that will never satisfy or satiate. The act of seeking it occupies the mind between the drawing of blades and the emotion of it pushes you to slay all who stand before you when on the path. Tatsu Yamashiro had been on this path for longer The she cared to remember. Each footfall past the one that had brought her through the front door of her burning home in the wilds of Alaska and over the rapidly cooling corpse of her husband had been taken in an effort to further her finding his killer. Such as the one she takes now to bring her to the edge of a Gotham rooftop. Looking down she slowly moves her eyes searching for any detail that will ease her assault upon the Yakuza establishment below. The last had been a gambling den posing as a mere laundry mat and it had provided her with no answers. So she had located another target and again the dance would begin and the Soultaker would be fed, already the blade hummed with anticipation or perhaps memory as the voice of Maseo as distinct as the day he still lived pulled her mind back.

Takeo Yamashiro had been her first love and her first husband but he had not been her last love. He had been so confident and handsome then, only his chosen profession gave her slight pause. A lieutenant among the Yakuza the two had met shortly after her father forever changed the direction of her life. Tatsu had only ever wished to compete as a martial artist and to perhaps marry the handsome man who visited her home before every tournament.

His visits had always been cordial, at least until the night before the last when their true nature became clear. Takeo served the Yakuza and had been the man to collect losses or to distribute winnings and Her father had lost, and significantly. When asked just what he had placed such a large wager on he pointed to Tatsu herself. He had been betting on her competitions and had grown to confident in her skills.

She had lost that day and her father had placed all he had and some he didn’t on the outcome. What happened next Tatsu would not be given the opportunity to Reminisce upon this dark and stormy night in Gotham. A feint sound almost indistinguishable from a light breeze caught her ear and she turned bringing her blade up to strike against the swiftly sung blade of a man in garb she did not recognize.

His origin might be vague his intent was not.

“You are not Sword Clan…or Yakuza…”

Her ears heard the sound again as he was not along, others moved to surround her. Katana considered fleeing, Soul Taker would not hear of it. The blade demanded it be given what it required, a worthy soul. The man did not answer her but rather he moved low and brought the blade around to strike her along the neck.

Unfortunately for her opponent Katana was faster and possessed of a mind for swordplay that made her seem psychic to some. Soul Taker caught the sword and knocked it away as her hand thrust forward to send her palm hard into his throat. Staggered undeterred he moved in position again as his friends continued to circle.

“My business here is not with you…leave me in peace or leave in them.”

No sooner had the words left her gritted teeth then the sky flashed with a dramatically timed lighting strike in the distance. With its light came revelation and a small prayer for salvation as the truth had been laid bare. Katana had believed herself to face three opponents, in truth their number could best be described as legion.

it occurred to her now that perhaps she had only detected them because they had wished it to be so. She had been effectively surrounded and had only sensed it at the last second.

it mattered little to katana how many gathered, she had a path and none would push her from it. So she would plant her feet and grip her blade and she would become the goddess of the sword incarnate if she must…she would not be moved.

But just as the fight was set to begin an explosion rocked a building not far from Katana. Whatever had happened the event shook the rooftop she stood on and loosened the brick her foot rested on at the edge of the roof.

Breaking her stance the ninja she had staggered quickly brought up his leg to collide his foot with her chin. Off her feet and desperately trying not to fall to the street below he managed to connect and cause just that.

Katana fell back and into the open air toward the alley below, her path now only seemed destined to involve pavement and a chalk outline.

Despite this she spares a glance back to the gathering army, they were fleeing. The man who had faced her seemed to be the leader and he gathered his men and hey fled. Toward the explosion.

Should she survive this she would have to discern why.



Enter Katana!

Enter Katana!

Tatsu sat her legs crossed before her and her sword known as the Soultaker laying upon her knees, it’s weight held steady by her right hand on the handle as her left moved a bright red cloth along the flat of the blade. With a slow and determined motion she polished the blade and considered what would come next. Since arriving in Gotham she had not so much as drawn her sword until this very moment but she had not remained Idle.

“I will see you avenged my husband…”

Sliding the cloth back again Tatsu looked into the now gleaming metal and smiled as a spirit moved in and out of view again within the blade itself, a green glow rising then fading from within Soul Taker as the wraith came and then went again. Lifting the blade and then it’s scabbard Tatsu slide it into its sheath and then placed the sword on her hip.

With the sword in place her hands lifted a silver mask with a rising sun emblem at its center from the floor at her side. Moving the mask into place upon her face Tatsu stands and turns to look at herself in the cracked and grim encrusted mirror on the wall of the room she had rented in the Barrows neighborhood of Gotham.

With the mask in place her and the blade cleaned her preparations were done. The armor she wore in addition she had received during her time as a student of Sword master Tadashe of the Sword Clan a man now counted among her enemies. But it would not be the Sword clan she sought out this night. No first she would seek the Yakuza and perhaps she might find the man she sought among them. If nothing else she would feed the sword and perhaps quiet it’s every growing voices.

Turning and taking a single step or at least it felt as such given the rooms claustrophobic dimensions, Tatsu found herself at her room’s window and then out into the night. The Yakuza in Gotham like those anywhere else made their profits from gambling, and various extortion rackets and given her observations since her arrival of those very sort of establishments she knew just where to start.

Leaping from the window to land with perfect balance on the railing along the top of the fire escape outside her window Tatsu scans the street below. She then makes her way to the ground bounding down the rickety metal of the fire escape scaling down until reaching the ground and touching the street with barely a sound.

Her destination was not far, soon she would know if her efforts would bare fruit this night.


Staying low Tatsu surges forward and into the adjacent alleyway gaining speed with each step she moves carefully so as not to disturb so much as a single thing along her path. She would not see her vengeance thwarted by a discarded bottle or a stray animal of any sort so she would move like lightning and step like a shadow. No one would see here before she allowed them to, at least none among the Yakuza. Making a foe of Tatsu Yamashiro would prove a great part of their coming undoing.

Carefully maintaining her silent and unseen approach to her destination Tatsu soon finds herself outside what to most would appear to be but an ordinary dry cleaners. Crouching low she looks up to the blue neon sign sitting over the door that read in occasionally flashing letters Blue Leaves Dry Cleaners. Few knew what this location actually made its money from and much to their coming chagrin a deadly being named Tatsu was among those few.

Moving her eyes along the roof she saw no sentries nor a single camera, but this had little to do with whether either were in place. Of course it mattered little if they saw her coming Tatsu thought to herself as she slowly slid the Soultaker free from its sheath it’s low green aura permeating the space she occupied in the alleyway.

Forewarned or flat footed they would all die, or they would carry on the tale of their comrades deaths spreading her legend to every corner the Yakuza claimed as theirs.

Holding the freed blade to her face Tatsu closes her eyes and says a small prayer to the souls within asking for strength and guidance, and then she begins walking forward toward  the house of blue leaves.

Within and beneath through a hidden door an illegal gambling den resided and from one side to the next Yakuza of every sort sat, some playing some facilitating the games. As darkness fell with the disabling of the power,  Tatsu Yamashiro entered sword drawn…













I hate Anne Hathaway.

The thought came like a pebble bouncing down an embankment along the side of a highway. A small and unnoticed thing changing little and offering no challenge to anyone or anything. But then other thoughts come and join the first to descend down the slope followed by another and then another until a wave of destruction sweeps forth threatening all in its path with complete and utter devastation. Fortunately for the world at large the only thing threatened by this landslide was Tara’s good mood.

The real kick in the ass was that the day had been going well and Tara had a strange sense of accomplishment after a successful run through one of the cities trendier districts. With her pockets mostly full she had begun asking around for a spot to unload her “acquisitions” and everyone had directed her to Gideon’s Pawn.

So with one eye to her backside in case anyone had an ambush in mind she had ridden her good mood all the way across town and had expected to see it carry her right through the front door. Then all of a sudden there she was Anne fucking Hathaway right in front of her. Not the actual actress mind you but a scene from one of her films specifically the Princess Diaries. Someone inside the shop had set the movie to play on a massive flat screen you could see from the street. Tara had a deep well of loathing for the films and had fixated her hate on their lead actress and there she was right in front of her, sort of.

Tara was a princess herself, or so her mother had told her each and every day. Her first memory in the lab was of her mother’s wide smile greeting her in the morning as she explained the days coming experiments. Tara hated the poking and the prodding but she also loved her mother and could always be brave for her except for the last day. The last day began with sirens and fire and screams, a man had come and he had come for the only people she had ever known. Her family.

Reaching inside her leather jackets coat pocket and fumbling past the assorted rings and borrowed phones Tara pulled out a single battle worn cigarette. It was likely the last one she had on her. Another expedition into her coat produced a lighter with which she lit the cigarette that shortly found its way to her lips.

Taking a long and slow drag she stepped inside the shop a sing song alarm sounded as the door swung closed behind her. A moment passed before a ratty and stained curtain that might have once been red or maybe green parted and a fat hot mess of a man emerged. He glanced to Tara and then to her cigarette a finger taps a No Smoking sign on the counter.

“It’s my last…damn it…fine.”

Stamping out the cigarette on the counter she leaves it laying and instead riches back into her jacket. Fishing out a handful of items she lays them next to the still smoking cigarette and looks to Gideon.

“So can we talk business or what?”

A squinted eye remained on the cigarette for a moment before the man shrugs and slides one of the offered rings across the counter for closer inspection lifting one and rubbing at it with his finger he holds the stained digit to Tara.

”That blood? Gideon’s Pawn is a respected establishment here in Metropolis. Wait…

Grimacing as he licks the finger that isn’t blood but for all he knows could be he again shrugs and smiles.

”Ketchup. What else you got here hmmmm?”

The next twenty minutes were torture as he picked through her haul piece by piece trying to take a penny off for every little thing. Finally he finished and slid a far to thin amount of cash across the counter to her. In no mood to argue or continue to listen to Anne Hathaway she picks up her extinguised cigarette and relights it as she exits.

”I’m a princess….damn it.”