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Poem: "Neither Automatic Nor Inevitable" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Poem: "Neither Automatic Nor Inevitable"
This poem is spillover from the July 21, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from DW user Stardreamer.  It also fills the "healthy touch" square in my 5-20-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest, and the  "nervous breakdown" square in my 11-25-14 card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Danso and Family thread of the series Polychrome Heroics, this time featuring Cassandra and Groundhog.

WARNING: This poem contains intense content that some readers may find disturbing.  Highlight to read more detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers. It contains auxiliary legal processes for handling severe superpower crime, extreme emotional stress, a really scary superhero, public speaking, descriptions of past abuse, crying in public, minor incidental self-injury, removal of a superpower as punishment for super crimes, consensual undressing by someone else, and other challenges. Current environment is supportive.  If these are sensitive topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether you want to read this right now.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  It is on sale, making the rate $.25/line, so $5 will reveal 20 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: kestrels_nest, book_worm5, Anthony & Shirley Barrette

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Neither Automatic Nor Inevitable



Cassandra sprawled on her belly on
Groundhog's couch, lazily kicking her feet
as she browsed a menu of summer classes
available at the local community center
in hopes of patching some gaps.

The clipping of her superpower had
left her so unwell for so long that it
mangled much of her school year.

Now she was trying to sort out
the remains of her education,
but even with plenty of help from
a home teacher, it wasn't easy.

The phone rang. Cassandra could
hear Groundhog answering it, and then
talking with someone in low tones.

Then he walked briskly into the living room.
"Get up," said Groundhog. "This is important."

Cassandra scrambled to her feet,
heart pounding, wondering
what was going on.

"That was SPOON," said Groundhog.
"The sleuths have captured a man whom
they believe is the clipper who injured you.

"Okay," Cassandra said faintly.
She had given them a description,
and she knew they were looking,
but it still came as a jolt to her.
She hadn't let herself believe
they'd actually catch him.

"We are extremely serious about
addressing charges of this nature,
because harming anyone by means
of a superpower is very illegal,"
Groundhog said, holding her gaze.

"What does this mean for me?" she asked.
Her tongue felt smothered in cotton.

"We want you to confirm or deny
his identity," Groundhog said.
"You can decline, because you've
already been hurt enough -- but it
would be very helpful if you agree."

Cassandra lifted her chin. "I'll come,"
she said. "I don't want him to hurt
anyone else the way he hurt me."

"Appreciated," said Groundhog.
Then he reactivated his phone and said,
"We're coming. Bring the supplies."

A teleporter arrived with a peculiar zip-SNAP!
sound effect that reminded Cassandra of
a parachute opening on television.
Tall and sturdy, he wore clothes
printed with a camo pattern, and he
carried a suit bag in one hand.

"Cassandra, this is Ripcord,
one of our high-security teleporters."
said Groundhog, waving at him.
"Ripcord, this is Cassandra,
who's helping us with a case."

"Thank you for your service,"
Ripcord said solemnly.

Cassandra blinked in surprise,
then realized that he meant
her decision to identify the clipper.
"You're welcome," she said, wiping
her hands against her jeans.

"Go change," Groundhog said.
He took the bag from Ripcord
and handed it to Cassandra.
"Don't dawdle trying to look perfect.
Just get dressed, wash your face,
brush your hair, and get out here."

"I don't want to look like a ragbag,"
she protested weakly. "It's disrespectful."

"There are business-formal clothes
in the bag," Groundhog said.
"Beyond that, don't worry about it.
This is going to go fast, because
it's risky to imprison a soup for long,
especially one with a power as
dangerous as clipping is."

Cassandra obeyed, even though
her mouth was dry and her palms wet.
Inside the bag, she found a sleek suit cut
from ivory linen, with a shell-pink blouse.
There were even matching pumps
tucked in the bottom of the bag.

"I'm ready," she announced as she
stepped back into the living room.

"Hang on tight," Ripcord advised as he
wrapped a thick arm around each of them.
"I'm very reliable, but I am not a luxury ride."

It felt like falling out of an airplane,
and they landed with a distinct bump
that jolted an "Eep!" out of Cassandra
and turned Groundhog faintly green.

Moments after they arrived, Granny Whammy
marched into the room dragging a lanky man
whose nose curved distinctly to the left.

Cassandra couldn't help it; she
started giggling. "Look at his nose!"
she said. "I really got him good."

"You hit him?" Groundhog said.

"I fought them all the way down,
until they knocked me out," she said,
no longer laughing. "I guess he was
afraid to go to a real doctor to get
his face fixed, in case someone
called the police for what he did."

"Is this the man who forcibly removed
your power of Flight, injuring you in
the process?" asked Granny Whammy.

"Yes, that's him," said Cassandra.
She felt queasy now, and her skin
prickled so that she raked her nails
along one wrist trying to make it stop.
"I told him that I didn't want him to, but he
didn't care. He said it wasn't my choice,
that my parents paid him to do it to me."
Her face twisted. "He said that he was
going to drive the Devil out of me."

"And I did!" the man crowed,
shoulder jerking in his captor's grasp.

"You shut your hole, Jabez Christofferson,"
Granny Whammy said with icy menace.
"You remind me of some men I knew
during the war. They liked to think they
were doctors, too, but we sure knew better.
So if you don't quit squirming, I'm going
to shake you like the rat you are, and I
might do it just a little ... too ... hard."

He stopped resisting after that.

Cassandra let Groundhog lead her
down a long hallway. "Where are
we going?" she asked him.

"This is our formal multipurpose room,"
he explained as he opened the tall doors
carved from red oak. "Most of the furnishings
are portable, so we can set it as a courtroom,
a prayer sanctuary, a presentation hall,
a theatre, or whatever else we need."

She concentrated on the room
rather than the case at hand.
The warm golden-brown wood
gleamed under the overhead lights,
and the walls were a rich ivory.

The floorboards were smooth except
for small brass sockets probably meant
to secure posts, seating, or other fixtures.
Currently a handrail divided the room,
so that the front held a judge's bench
and two tables for lawyers and clients,
while the back held long wooden seats.

The room was already filling with soups.
Cassandra had not realized quite how many
people were already concerned with this case.

"Ignore them," Groundhog advised.
"We're sitting up front so you won't have to
look at them anyway." He guided her
into a bench right behind the rail.

Aidan was there, and his friend Piotr,
both of them dressed in dark formal suits.
Piotr looked as rumpled as ever, which
perversely made Cassandra feel better.

"We managed to find a few other victims,
and we've sent couriers to invite them too,"
Aidan told her. "That way everyone will get
a chance to speak against the clipper, but
nobody has to bear the pressure of being
the only witness, so it's all right to tap out."

"I'm representing SPOON's case on behalf
of the soup community and the injured parties.
I'll be as gentle as I can with the victims, and
I've got training in trauma-informed care,"
Piotr said. "Another lawyer will represent
Mr. Christofferson so he gets a fair hearing.
We just need you to be honest and
talk about what happened to you."

"I'll do my best," Cassandra said.
Her fingers drummed on the wooden seat,
until she tucked them under her thigh.

"We want to make sure that the pursuit of justice
doesn't revictimize anyone already hurt by
this situation," Piotr said. "If you need
anything, including a way out, let us know."

"I want him stopped," Cassandra growled.
"No way am I backing out now!"

"Okay," Piotr said, hands patting the air.
"We're just trying to be careful."
He turned to look at Aidan.

"I need to know how much information
you consent for me to share," Aidan said.
"The more, the better, but I won't violate
your privacy. This has to be your choice."

She couldn't help the little shiver that
raced down her spine. It was still hard
for her to let him in, knowing how much
he'd wind up knowing about her, but
Aidan had made huge improvements
in her recovery process already.

"I guess ... tell them whatever you need
in order to stop him from hurting people, but
no more than that," she said, nibbling on her lip.

"Understood," Aidan agreed.
"I appreciate you trusting me enough
for that kind of free-rein permission."

"Thanks for coming here,"
she said. "I'm a wreck already."

"If at any time you need my help,
just wave for me," Aidan said.
He demonstrated the summons
with a distinctive gesture, his hands
forming a peak and then gliding past
each other, that could not easily
be mistaken for anything else.
"I'll come take care of you."

"Okay," Cassandra said,
although she really wasn't.
She'd just have to fake it.
Grownups did that.

She tried to sit quietly while
the room filled with rustling soups,
some who looked unremarkable and
others with brightly colored skin or hair.
A few of them barely seemed human.

Then a side door opened.

Everyone came to their feet at once,
without any kind of announcement, and
when Cassandra saw the personage
responsible for that collective motion,
she understood instantly why that was:

so they could flee, if necessary,
although she was not at all certain
that it would do any good to try.

He? she? was sleek and powerful,
face colored in bold angular patterns
of pure white and inky black, dressed in
a robe not unlike what a judge would wear
and gleaming metal cuffs over each ear.

Behind the imposing stranger came
Granny Whammy serving as bailiff,
the clipper held firmly in tow.

"That's the Abrogator," said Groundhog.
"Zie is here today to make sure that Jabez
can't do any damage while he's in custody."

"Good," Cassandra said. "That's good."
She could feel the energy in the room
crawling over her skin, and she dug
her fingernails in a little harder
trying to make it go away.

Then the judge came in, a black man
called Gavel who had Truth Sense.
He settled into his place, and
everyone else sat down.

Keys chattered quietly
as the court clerk Docket
took records on a keyboard,
her brown fingers deft and quick.

The two lawyers took turns laying out
the case against Jabez Christofferson.
The trial turned into a blur of faces
and voices, most of them unfamiliar.

One of the other witnesses was
a little boy who might have been
anywhere between four and six,
and had to be carried to the front.

As Cassandra listened to the reports
of what had happened and how the search
went, her nerves wound themselves so tight
that she wasn't sure which she would
do first, faint or throw up.

When Groundhog touched her arm,
she jerked violently, then said,
"Sorry, I'm jumpy. What?"

"They're asking if you'll speak,"
he said in a gentle tone that
implied it wasn't the first time.

Ripcord came to walk her up
to the front of the room, where
she would, in fact, have to turn
and face the whole room of soups
while speaking. Cassandra shivered.

"Remember, if anything goes wrong,
I can jump you out in an instant,"
Ripcord said to her, his big hand
a reassuring weight on her shoulder.

That safety line helped Cassandra
muster her courage enough
to turn around and start talking,
even though she felt like reality was
coming unglued and everything had
shifted about six feet to the left.

She told the court audience about
her Flight emerging with puberty,
how much she had loved it, and
how badly her parents reacted.

She described the suppression therapy
and how terrible it made her feel.

She explained about all the times
when she tried to escape but the cops
kept returning her like a runaway slave,
back to parents who hated what she was.

Her voice wavered and broke as
Cassandra related the clipping itself,
how much it hurt to have a piece of herself
ripped away, how it kept hurting for months
but nobody would take her to a doctor.

Finally she recounted her desperate trip
to SPOON the moment she turned eighteen,
and how they connected her with people
who could help her begin to heal.

After that, Cassandra was so shaky
that she stumbled trying to stand up.

Ripcord wrapped his broad hand
around her hip and lifted her so that
her toes barely touched the floor, and
all she had to do was make it look like
she was walking back to her own seat.
Then Ripcord settled her tenderly
into place beside Groundhog.

"You did a great job," Groundhog said.
"I'm proud of you, Cassandra."

She crumpled onto his shoulder and cried.
It probably ruined her image of competence
but she couldn't bring herself to care.

It was worse when Aidan got up to add
his perspective of how much damage the clipping
had done to her, what bad shape she was in when
they met, the collateral damage done to him as he
helped her, and all the hard work it had taken
to make even a start on repairs.

Cassandra clung to Groundhog
and just shook, too upset to do more.

She stared at her hands the whole time
the clipper argued in his own defense,
her fingernails digging bloody crescents
into her pale skin as she listened.

Cassandra stuck it out to the end, though,
grimly determined to see what happened
to the man who had torn apart her life.

"The court finds Jabez Christofferson
guilty on all charges," Gavel announced.
Our community will not tolerate the forcible
and damaging deprivation of superpowers.
Would the Abrogator care to remark?"

"Human progress is neither automatic
nor inevitable," quoted the Abrogator.
"Every step toward the goal of justice
requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle;
the tireless exertions and passionate
concern of dedicated individuals."

"Well said," Gavel agreed, looking right at
Cassandra. "Given the gravity of the offense,
the defendant's sentence shall be the same
power removal he perpetrated upon his victims."
The little wooden hammer banged against its plate.
"The Abrogator may now carry out the sentence."

"What you have proven yourself unworthy
to wield will be entrusted to you no longer,"
the Abrogator said, pressing a hand
over the top of the convict's head.

Jabez shrieked once and then went limp.

A team of medics came to scrape him
onto a stretcher and haul him away.

"Well done," Piotr said, patting Cassandra
on the back. "You and Aidan helped a lot."

She gave a wordless nod in return,
too wrung out to reply aloud.

Cassandra dragged herself to her feet,
eager to escape now that it was over.
She was so intent on the doors that
she didn't notice the crowd abruptly
melting away from her, or why they did.

Only Groundhog's sharp gasp made her turn.

The Abrogator caught her gaze with eerie eyes
that were pure white with solid black centers which
seemed to sink through to the core of her. Then
zie intoned in a slow solemn voice, "What was
done to you was not justice, nor was it just.
Let it be undone, if you will it so."

The black-and-white lips
pressed softly against her forehead,
and Cassandra felt a cold chill race through her.
She could not tell if it had been a superpower,
the hand of God, or plain old terror.

One oddly striped hand clasped
Groundhog's shoulder in passing,
and then the Abrogator slipped away.

"What -- what just happened?"
Cassandra stammered. Her thoughts
struggled to keep up with everything,
and the back of her head ached.

"Don't feel bad," Groundhog said to her,
brushing at his shoulder as if to remove ants.
"The Abrogator scares the shit out of everyone."

"Once, people like that were considered holy,"
said Aidan. "We called them avatars."

"What will happen to -- to the clipper?"
Cassandra asked, staring at the door
through which he had been carried.

"Now that Jabez is safer to handle, he gets
turned over to the civil authorities for charges
like child abuse, assault with a superpower,
and impersonating medical personnel,"
Groundhog said. "We have made
some informal agreements about how
soups deal with superpower issues and
naries deal with everyday violations."

"Thank God," said Cassandra.
Then her knees buckled.

Strong arms scooped her up as
Ripcord said, "Easy, kid, I've got you.
One last jump-and-bump and
you're done for the day."

It felt like the trip shook her apart,
but soon Ripcord lowered her gently
onto the worn, familiar couch.

Cassandra grabbed a pillow and
hugged it against her chest.

Maybe she should have signaled
for help sooner, but it was so new
and she was so overloaded that
it simply hadn't occurred to her.

Another zip-SNAP sound and then
Aidan was crouching over her.
"Let's get you into something
more comfortable," he said.

Cassandra had no energy left
to change clothes or move or think.

Aidan's hands were gentle and practical
as he peeled off the formal suit and helped her
into her pajamas, without ever letting a finger
slip anywhere that made her uncomfortable.

What did it matter, anyway.
He'd already been up to his elbows
in the rubble of her mind.

The minty, musky smell of
blue chamomile registered as
Aidan smoothed it over her wrists.

At once the headache began to fade.

The afghan settled softly over her,
and she could hear low voices
as Aidan and Groundhog
talked about something.

Her fingers twitched, seeking
comfort that wasn't there --

and then it was, Groundhog
sitting down beside the couch
to fold her hand between his own,
the grasp warm and soothing.

"Go to sleep," he suggested. "I'll stay
right here if that's what you want."

Cassandra had just enough energy
to curl her fingers around his before
the smooth blue tide swept her away.

* * *

Notes:

Jabez Christofferson -- He has fair skin, murky hazel eyes, and short brown hair starting to show silver threads.  He has a long face with a weak chin.  His nose has been badly broken and healed wrong, with a pronounced curve pushing it toward the left side of his face.  Jabez started out as a preacher, then realized that he could have more impact by traveling around and treating people for signs of demonic possession.  He bills himself as a pastoral counselor.
 In reality, Jabez is a clipper, with the ability to remove people's superpowers.  While he thinks highly of himself and his work, he is a lousy priest and a rotten counselor.  It is not a quick or clean process.  He often does a lot of collateral damage in the clipping process, especially to unwilling victims.  Many of them are unwilling, because he seeks out parents who want him to "fix" their kids (few of whom are actually broken).  He does take willing adult clients too, though; there are plenty of people who just want to make their superpowers go away.
Origin: Jabez believes that his ability comes from God, and that he is not doing anything himself, only allowing the power of the Lord to manifest through him.  Therefore he attributes it to intensive religious study.
Uniform: Sometimes he dresses as a priest in a dark suit with a white shirt, or a black robe with a clerical collar.  Other times he copies the professional look of doctors or counselors, with a tan suit or a sweater and trousers, then a white coat over it.
Qualities: Master (+6) Charisma, Expert (+4) Pastoral Counseling Theory, Expert (+4) Fire & Brimstone Preacher, Good (+2) Finding Soups, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Zealot Contacts
Poor (-2) Overestimates Himself
Powers: Good (+2) Power Removal / Exorcism
Motivation: To purify people of the Devil's influence.

Ripcord (Chad Cordoba) -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and black hair which he shaves off.  He is tall and robust, with a powerful body.  His heritage includes Argentinian, German, and British.  Chad enjoys games that can be played with cards, dice, other portable materials, or improvised on the spot.  He drives the way a fighter pilot flies, fast and rough; and he teleports the same way.
 After completing his tour of duty in the Army, Ripcord went to work for SPOON.  He specializes in teleporting people into and out of combat or other dangerous situations.  He also provides transport for people who may benefit from added security or just having a big badass on their side.  Ripcord is stronger in terms of passenger weight and distance than on finesse.  He is also nearly untraceable in transit.
Origin: During deployment, his parachute failed to open.  Chad teleported, landed safely, and completed the mission anyway.
Uniform: Although no longer in active service, Chad still favors camo fabric and clothes with Army motifs.
Qualities: Master (+6) Grit, Expert (+4) Paratrooper, Expert (+4) Protective, Good (+2) Alertness, Good (+2) Military Family, Good (+2) Portable Games
Poor (-2) Not a Luxury Ride
Powers: Expert (+4) Teleporting
Motivation: "This I defend."

The Abrogator -- Zie has black-and-white skin in angular patterns, eyes that are white with a solid black center, and hair that is mostly black but with some white inclusions, slicked into a smooth cap. Zir body is sleek and powerful. Zie is neuter in sex and neutrois in gender. Even governments that do not officially acknowledge such alternatives tend to treat the Abrogator with complete respect.
The Abrogator is secretive and often difficult to reach, but maintains a wide network of contacts throughout superhero and supervillain communities around the world. Zie is one of the few individuals respected -- and usually feared -- by all of them. Zie is not quite human anymore, and thus feels somewhat offset from humanity, which can cause issues.
The Abrogator acts as a disciplinarian for the soup community. Zie is strictly neutral and shows no interest in cape alignment or any other politics. Zie never pursues criminals, selects targets, or sits in judgment. Zie only ensures that soups charged with heinous crimes are held for trial, and then if the sentence is removal of the convict's superpower(s), zie carries out that punishment.
Origin: The Abrogator started out as a police officer, but will not say where. After witnessing a devastating supervillain incident, zie prayed "to whatever Deity of Justice may hear" for a way to stop such things from happening. Zie received a blessing which includes the ability to drain away superpowers from offenders.
Uniform: Predominantly black robes marked with white dots and lines. Over each ear, the Abrogator wears a studded cuff of mysterious silvery metal linked to thick hoops set within the earlobes; these super-gizmos prevent superpowers from working on zir.
Qualities: Master (+6) Neutrality, Expert (+4) Intimidation, Good (+2) Officer of the Law, Good (+2) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Disconnected from Humanity
Powers: Master (+6) Blessed by Justice
The primary application of this metapower is Power Drain. This is distinct from Power Nullification in that it is applied exclusively to a person, not to an area. Depending on how much force the Abrogator exerts, the effects may be partial or complete, temporary or permanent. Power Drain is unpleasant for the target, in proportion to the amount of force used, but the Abrogator does not enjoy it either.
On rare occasions, the Abrogator will make declarations of truth or falsehood, justice or injustice. Zie has never been proven wrong in this regard, and only fools or madmen will argue about it. Everyone is too busy being glad that it almost never happens.
Motivation: "I am the hand of justice when justice fails."

Gavel (Conrad Sorenson) -- He has russet skin, brown eyes, and black hair. His head is completely bald and he has a thin line of beard and mustache. He is tall with a powerful build. Conrad is conservative, and doesn't always deal well with the more liberal or expressive elements of society. He works for SPOON because they need someone to handle cases involving superpowers.
Origin: He began by studying law, and worked his way up from lawyer to judge. He developed the Moral Compass there. One day he got arrested for Driving While Black. The judge in traffic court was racist. His Truth Sense manifested and he started reading aloud all sorts of facts that it revealed to him about the judge, the police, and everyone else in the room. They couldn't cut him loose fast enough.
Uniform: On duty, black judge robe over an ivory button-up shirt. Off duty, usually a conservative business suit, dark over a light shirt. He rarely dresses more casually than a colorful polo shirt with neutral trousers.
Qualities: Master (+6) Judge, Expert (+4) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Trustworthy
Poor (-2) Stuffy
Powers: Master (+6) Truth Sense, Good (+2) Moral Compass
Motivation: To see that justice is done.

* * *

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Summer learning and community education both help patch gaps in knowledge.  Terramagne-America does a much better job than local-America when it comes to teaching life skills.  There are tips on how to choose and evaluate classes.

A home teacher must be provided for children who cannot attend school in the regular location.  In T-America, this includes students with newly emerged superpowers, or in Cassandra's case, that plus the abuse, clipping, and subsequent medical problems which interrupted the education to which she was entitled. Homebound education can make up much of what is missed.

Business formal clothes for women include a suit and professional shoes in neutral colors.  Dressing Cassandra in white and pink carries connotations of innocence, honesty, and youth.

Confronting or prosecuting an abuser can be very hard on survivors.  There are tips for confronting an abuser and coping in courtVictim advocates may also provide support.

Complex moral and ethical issues surround the use of force, continuum of force, and what is considered appropriate force. The prevalence of superpowers and advanced technology have influenced these developments in Terramagne. One result supports a general trend toward preferring de-escalation and minimal force, due to the risk of extreme superpower incidents. Another concerns priorities, in that responsible authorities are expected to consider everyone's safety, not just their own. A third effect extends the expectation of appropriate force beyond civil authorities to superheroes in particular, and other people with superpowers in general.  This circular chart illustrates one perspective of increasing appropriate force as the danger increases. This grid maps areas of excessive force and ineffective force, divided by the target line of appropriate force. Notice that Granny Whammy's presence alone did not suffice to make Jabez behave, nor did a general warning; it took a more serious threat to make him quit mouthing off and further upsetting his victim; hence the escalation of force.

In particular, the use of superpowers against someone without them almost always qualifies as excessive force, and the use of any power against someone who has no counter for it often is: because cruelty to a helpless victim is generally immoral.  There is a general expectation that heroes punch up, villains punch down.  So the prevailing opinion is that it was wrong for Jabez to remove Cassandra's superpower when she hadn't done anything wrong and couldn't fight back.  Threatening to use excessive force on a prisoner is iffy at best; actually doing it would be worse.  Would Granny Whammy kill Jabez?  Almost certainly not, when he's not a credible threat at present.  Shake him hard enough to injure?  Probably not ... probably.  He can't fight against her, but he's definitely doing harm to Cassandra.  Whether it would be justified would depend on the severity of injury. Really not a good idea to piss off a veteran, though.  Jostle him good?  Perfectly justifiable in context, given that lesser methods weren't working.

(Warning for gross link.  Because Nazis are always a warning.)
Granny Whammy compares Jabez to the Nazi doctors who were infamous for their heinous e
xperiments.

The Onion City SPOON Base formal multipurpose room looks similar to this.

Trauma-informed care helps make sure that people don't make matters worse for trauma survivors.  Here are some tips for lawyers.

Revictimization in the legal system poses a serious threat to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and some other crimes.  This is not only harmful to the victims, it also discourages people from reporting crimes, thus making everyone's job harder in law enforcement.  Cassandra has every reason to be edgy after all her negative experiences.  Terramagne-America generally does a better job than here, but they still have problems periodically, and super crimes are another touchy area.  Thus an effective justice system must understand and deliver what victims want.  Helpful things include victim compensation and victim-centered justice, some examples of which appear in this poem.

Auxiliary justice systems include all the options outside the conventional legal system.  These offer alternatives to court and incarceration -- especially useful for super crimes, since it is difficult or impossible to keep soups in jail for long. Community and restorative justice are two popular approaches.  In this case, convening a soup court provides most of the advantages of the conventional system while avoiding most of the drawbacks of having naries try to prosecute soups.  It's not official or perfect yet, but it shows how they're working on solutions to current challenges.

Sign language is useful not just for conversation but also as components for a simple code.  Aidan demonstrates the ASL sign for "trouble."

"Fake it 'til you make it" is a psychological strategy for behaving as if you already have the traits you desire. There are tips on how to do it.

Body language can help you tell if someone is nervous.  Cassandra shows a variety of signs such as shivering and fidgeting, which indicate that she's near the limit of what she can cope with. Know the symptoms of anxiety so you can help an anxious friend.

A nervous breakdown is a colloquial term for a variety of psychological collapse events that occur when stressors exceed someone's ability to cope.  It usually comes after a long period of problems has exhausted someone's resources.  Understand how to get over a nervous breakdown and how to help someone through one.

Acute stress reaction is a common response to a sudden, unpleasant event.  There are ways to cope with acute stress and treatment options if it gets serious.  Because ASR appears and then fades quickly, the main goals are to provide comfort and to reduce the chance of it developing into PTSD, so emotional first aid helps.

Tension headaches are characterized by a dull sense of pressure.  Know how to relieve them.

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Comments
book_worm5 From: book_worm5 Date: September 16th, 2015 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Gah. I see Jabez wound up going down the "creep" path rather than "well-meaning and horrified". I've read through some of the poems and comments that introduced Cassandra and the possibilities for who he'd be, but I don't think I'm quite up to date here yet.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 16th, 2015 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> Gah. I see Jabez wound up going down the "creep" path rather than "well-meaning and horrified". <<

Definitely. You can also see parallels between him and the Preacherman. People who think their talents are God-given can be very high-handed in using them. >_<

>> I've read through some of the poems and comments that introduced Cassandra and the possibilities for who he'd be, but I don't think I'm quite up to date here yet. <<

The closest discussion on that topic happened in the fishbowl that inspired this poem:
http://ysabetwordsmith.dreamwidth.org/10310060.html?thread=22633900#cmt22633900

You can find the Cassandra poems in the thread about Danso and Family, just search for her name.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 20th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Definitely a major event

Cassandra muddled through-- but she made it, which is its own kind of victory.

I look forward to seeing how this affects her healing with Aidan, and whether she's going to allow any contact with her parents; they'll see the arrest for Jabez, and certainly his official trial.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Definitely a major event

>> Cassandra muddled through-- but she made it, which is its own kind of victory. <<

Sooth. This is a turning point for her. There are still some challenges ahead, most notably recovering from the sheer stress of the trial, but Cassandra has the beginnings of a good support network. Things should get better.

>> I look forward to seeing how this affects her healing with Aidan, <<

It may have ups and downs, because it clears away a lot of stress, but Cassandra has been touchy about intimacy and trust issues even before having all this stuff dragged out in public.

>> and whether she's going to allow any contact with her parents; <<

Probably not soon, if ever. Cassandra isn't the kind of person who wants to go back to her abusers. She may be conflicted about her feelings for them, but she's pretty damn clear on wanting to get the hell away from them. I'm not sure if her parents would still be trying to hunt her down, or if they've written her off by now.

>> they'll see the arrest for Jabez, and certainly his official trial. <<

I hope they worry themselves into fucking ulcers wondering if they're going to get hauled in for how they mistreated her.
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janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: September 20th, 2015 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did I read that correctly, that the Abrogator granted Cassandra the opportunity to regain Flight?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2015 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

:D Clever you.

It's a nudge in that direction, at least. While the Abrogator doesn't have Power Healing per se -- everything works through the Justice leverage -- zie has a lot of leeway in terms of shifting probabilities to correct imbalances of justice. So that will definitely help improve the outcome, as long as Cassandra keeps working to recover what she lost. It should also speed up the process of healing, which has been a bumpy ride.
helgatwb From: helgatwb Date: September 20th, 2015 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

The way I read it was that, since her losing her power was unjust, zie tipped the scales in favor of her regaining it. Like, not gave it back to her, but made it easier for her to do so, so long as she works for it, and wants it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2015 09:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Exactly. Zie can't change things that are in balance, but where there is injustice, can correct that. It doesn't always take the same route. In this case, since Cassandra is already working with people to heal the damage, it will take the path of least resistance through there. What the Abrogator really did was give her a choice.
cflute From: cflute Date: October 17th, 2016 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)

having a choice

>> What the Abrogator really did was give her a choice. <<

Thank you for explaining this! I got the sense that zie did Something Significant, but couldn't figure out just what. It's too bad that zie couldn't give her back what was taken from her, though. Is that something Alicia could help with? I know she has certain healing powers; would they be effective here?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 17th, 2016 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: having a choice

>> Thank you for explaining this! I got the sense that zie did Something Significant, but couldn't figure out just what.<<

Glad I could help.

>> It's too bad that zie couldn't give her back what was taken from her, though. <<

Well, yes and no. The Abrogator isn't a healer of superpowers per se, but a restorer of justice. There's enough power manipulation there to create an opportunity for recovery, if that distinction makes sense.

>> Is that something Alicia could help with? I know she has certain healing powers; would they be effective here? <<

Possibly? I'm not sure about that.

Keep reading, though, and you'll see hints of how Cassandra's power is starting to revive.
siege From: siege Date: September 20th, 2015 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
It looks like the Abrogator gave her *some* kind of power back, but it's not clear what.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2015 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

It's Flight, based on what she had before.
helgatwb From: helgatwb Date: September 20th, 2015 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Abrogator is scary.

I like this.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2015 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> The Abrogator is scary. <<

Most people feel that way. Zie is very honorable though.

>> I like this. <<

Yay!
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: September 21st, 2015 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! So glad to see this plot event!

--Rogan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2015 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It's a very important moment in Cassandra's plot arc. It also matters to the larger question of clipping in Terramagne-America. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 25th, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Oh! Great to finally read this part of the story (yes, I'm slow and I like saving them until they're complete). <<

It's okay. A couple of the open epics recently finished, so hunt around for the other.

>>Also, have I said before how much I adore Groundhog? Because, yeah... <3! <<

Yay! :D He is a sweetie. There will be more about him and Cassandra as subsequent poems get sponsored.
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