Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Reflection of Your Energy"

This poem came out of the April 7, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] kiramaru7. It also fills the "headaches / migraines" square in my 11-25-14 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. There are multiple crimes going on, dangerous chemicals, a lab incident, a one-sided firefight, significant injuries, harm to police officers (one human, one canine), epic stupidity on the part of the villain (also injured), messy medical details, traumatic manifestation of superpowers, a medic becoming another casualty, quarantine, and other stress. The heroic people are supportive of each other, and the villain is naturally a pain in everyone's ass. Heavy-duty hurt/comfort, no fatalities. If these are sensitive issues for you, consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"A Reflection of Your Energy"

One of the outbuildings on the lot of a factory
currently for sale began to stink and glow in ways
that prompted several concerned citizens to call the police.

Derreck Refferson and his K-9 partner Blitz were
the closest to the scene and responded to the call.

When they arrived, the filthy windows
flared and flickered with multicolored light,
like heat lightning behind clouds. Even Derreck
could smell the reek of chemicals, and Blitz
pinned his ears back in dismay.

Always remember that the dog is
a reflection of your energy,

Derreck thought as he opened the door.

"Yeah, I smell trouble too," Derreck said.
"Time to go earn our handsome paychecks."
He unfastened Blitz's seatbelt and said, "Voran."

Blitz loped away, giving the grounds
a cursory search before homing in on the lab.
Then he sat down by the door of the outbuilding
to indicate that the only person he detected
was somewhere inside there.

Finding the door secured by a heavy bar with
a simple padlock, Derreck fished out his picks
and silently opened it. Blitz flowed along
the ground like a droplet of golden-brown oil.

Inside the building lay a clutter of lab equipment --
some questionable, some clearly illegal --
attended by a young man in a plastic suit,
his black hair hanging in lank strands.

"Police! Freeze!" Derreck snapped.

The culprit whirled, dark eyes going wide
even as his shaky hands scrabbled at the controls.
A nametag on the chest read Pizzo.

A pipe ruptured, billowing steam that blocked him
from their sight. Shrapnel from the pipe
punctured a row of nearby canisters.

The punctured canisters spurted
gouts of neon goo that acted like Thilly Thread.

Pizzo drew a gun -- indeterminate
in the steam whether it was a firearm,
a bolt pistol, or just a zatzer --
and pointed it at them.

Derreck dropped flat and scrambled for cover
as Blitz lunged forward, nimbly navigating
piles of junk to strike Pizzo, grabbing
the inside of his forearm to drag
the gun out of line.

Puddles and strings of goo made the floor
increasingly hazardous as Derreck
tried to close with the criminal.

Pizzo lifted a knee in attempt to shove
the dog off him, and got another bite
on the thigh for his trouble.

It was getting hard to breathe, and Derreck
wondered if something might have caught fire.

Pizzo had gone limp, ominous red stains
rapidly soaking through his white labsuit.
He made no effort to move away from
the spreading chemicals.

"Aus. Wache," said Derreck, then coughed.
Blitz let go and stood over his captive. "Zei brav."

Crawling on his elbows kept Derreck below
the worst of the steam and fumes, but
made avoiding the ground contamination
even more of a challenge.

Well, he couldn't just leave the idiot to die.

Derreck grabbed the unconscious criminal
by one ankle and began laboriously
dragging him toward the door.

Outside, the clear air made it
a little easier to breathe, but Derreck
felt worse with every passing moment.
His head hurt, his skin burned where
some of the stringy goo clung to it,
and when he tried to stand up
his legs wouldn't hold him.

From the steady stream of whines,
Blitz felt as bad as he did.

Derreck struggled toward the car,
but collapsed halfway there, hoping
they were far enough away in case
the outbuilding exploded.

Instead he used the radio clipped to his suit,
his voice a scratchy wheeze as he said,
"Lab incident. Subject in custody.
Officers down. Ambulance. SPAZMAT."

Derreck abandoned Pizzo and tried to crawl
the few yards to Blitz, but even his stamina
had limits that ran out just feet away.

Within minutes, sirens announced
the arrival of the ambulance,
and two paramedics jumped out.

A worried black man leaned over him and said,
"Hi Derreck, my name is Wrex and I'll be
taking care of you. My partner Joanne
is over there with your K-9, because she
used to work at her uncle's vet clinic."

"Suspect's bleeding," Derreck said
with feeble twitch of his hand.
"Tried to shoot us. Blitz got'm.
Maybe armed. Definitely dangerous."

"Yeah, we take care of the bad guys too,"
Wrex said as he checked Derreck.

Blitz gave a raspy growl.

Derreck wallowed around until he could see
the problem -- Joanne was almost in reach.
"Blitz. Kamerad," he called, and
the dog stopped protesting.

"Thanks, but now you can help
by lying still," Wrex said, pushing
him gently back onto the ground.
"Could you tell me how you're feeling?"

"Headache. Hard to breathe. Skin burns,"
Derreck said, flopping the arm that had
the most strands of goo tangled along it.
"Whole body hurts."

Gentle hands ruffled his hair.
"What kind of headache?" Wrex asked.
"Did you get hit or fall down?"

"No," Derreck said. "Just feels like ...
skull's full of broken glass."

"Could be the fumes," Wrex said.
"I'll get you some extra oxygen in a minute,
but I think it's urgent to get this glop off
before it does any more damage.
You tell me if you feel like you're not
getting enough air, though."

Derreck felt like he was being eaten alive.
"Off," he said firmly. "Can breathe, just wheezy."

"Good thing I've got plenty of Jelly-Off,"
said Wrex as he sloshed water over Derreck
and then followed that with copious white powder.
The goo shriveled up quickly, and Wrex covered it
with strips of fabric which he then lifted away,
just like peeling pieces of tape.

Derreck hissed as the pain sharpened.

"Looks like you're losing some skin here,"
Wrex said. "That stuff ate through the first layer.
It's not deep though. I can't tell if it's toxic,
but the physical damage isn't too bad.
You might have some scarring, but
probably no impairment."

Derreck gritted his teeth and focused
on breathing. "Thanks," he said.

I can't make any real promises.

"I know," Derreck said. "Take what
good news ... I can get."

Wrex looked at him strangely.
"I didn't say anything."

"No promises. Heard you," Derreck said.
The headache made it hard to think.

I really need a second opinion here.

"How'bout, first opinion," Derreck said.

"Okay," Wrex said slowly, "I'm going to ask you
a nosy question, which you do NOT have to answer,
but it could be really relevant to what's happening.
Do you have any history of overhearing thoughts,
or is that new after this lab incident?"

Please just let the guy be a cricket.
Zetetic accidents can get so ugly

Derreck's heart sank. This was happening.
It was real. "New," he said. "Zetetic?"

"Big blobs of unidentified chemicals,
weird symptoms, it's a possibility,"
Wrex said. "SPAZMAT is on the way,
so we'll let the experts say for sure."

Derreck knew that. It's why he called.
The thought still made him shiver.

"Sorry about the chill, but I really need to get
these clothes off you," Wrex said from where
he was cutting through the tough cloth of
Derreck's pants. "I'll get you into a
clean blanket as soon as I can."

Derreck lost more skin along
his knees and shins where he had
crawled through some puddles while
trying to keep the damn perp out of
the stuff spewing all over the lab.

He wondered if this might cost him
his job. Not everyone tolerated soups.

Wrex went back to the ambulance
for the portable oxygen and something
to wrap Derreck in, both of which
made him a lot more comfortable.

Then something weirdly familiar
brushed against Derreck's mind.

Boss ...

The thought felt warm and furry.

Derreck grabbed for it, but it slipped away,
only to return stronger a moment later.

Boss ... scared ... hurts ... help, boss.

It was not exactly English, or German, but
a ripple of concepts tumbling over each other.

It was Blitz, it had to be.

Derreck tried again to reach out
for his partner, and this time caught hold,
their minds twining together with bits
of shared memory and affection.

Blitz's communication was vivid with scents
and sounds, the visuals dimmer, and Blitz was
as fascinated by Derreck's color vision
as Derreck was by the scentscape.

We're tough. We'll be okay,
Derreck sent, hoping it was true.

Out loud he said, "Stuff's affecting Blitz too.
I can hear'm inside my head."

"That's a pretty strong metagen,
jumping species like that," Wrex said.
"It may have come on slower for him
because it took longer to soak through
his fur, or maybe he just got less on him."

This shit is fucking scary.

"Scaring us too," Derreck admitted.

"Sorry that it limits what I can do for you,"
Wrex said from where he was wrapping gauze
over Derreck's arm. "Anything I could put
on or in you might react with it, so until
SPAZMAT gets here with some experts
and their traveling lab ..."

"... grin and bear it, huh," said Derreck.

He tried to convey that to Blitz, along with
the assurance that more help was coming and
hopefully they wouldn't be miserable for much longer.

What Blitz picked up, though, was something more.
Human Rex? Funny name, boss!

"Hey, your partner's tail is about
to wag itself right off," Joanne called.

"He thinks your name's funny,"
Derreck told Wrex.

"It is spelled W-R-E-X, but yeah,
I get that a lot," the paramedic said.

Blitz wagged harder, giving the little
yip-snort that served as a canine snicker.

"Yeah yeah, laugh it up, fuzzball," said Wrex.

Derreck struggled to think positive, to stay calm,
so he could support Blitz. It was a little easier
with Wrex and Blitz trading rather awful jokes.

"You think my jokes are awful,
you should hear my father's," said Wrex.

Goosebumps prickled over Derreck's skin.
"Wrex ... I didn't say that out loud."

"You must be projec--oh, my God."
The paramedic's hands were shaking
as he turned them over to show where
the goo had eaten through his gloves.

"Stay calm. SPAZMAT's coming,"
Derreck said. "They'll help." He tried
reaching for the other man's mind
but they jangled against each other,
unfamiliar and clumsy.

Wrex's voice wavered as he updated
both his dispatcher and SPAZMAT
on what had happened.

"Our perp?" Derreck asked.

"Joanne says she doesn't see any
sign of contamination on him, and
she thinks she's clean too," Wrex said,
peeling off the gloves so he could
try to clean up his hands.

"Small mercies," Derreck said.
He'd take what he could get.

SPAZMAT finally arrived along with
a whole string of police cars and
a firetruck to put out the lab which,
yes, had definitely caught fire.

It was reassuring to see the sleek silver suits
with their dymondine helmets, each one
sporting a personnel photo and ID number
prominently on the chest of the suit.

Teams peeled off to secure the lab
and the grounds and the casualties.

Derreck had to call "Kamerad" again
before Blitz would let anyone else near him,
but after that the dog settled.

Someone brought a portable projector,
turning it on to produce a life-sized hologram
of a smiling Asian woman. "Hi, I'm Anh Vaughn
and I'll be your quarantine liaison," she said.
"My teammates are setting up the lab and
the living modules right now. Is there anything
I can do to make your stay more comfortable?"

Oh, right, quarantine.
Zetetic crap not only made people
hazardous to others, sometimes
it knocked out the immune system too.

"The living module comes prestocked with
food, water, and entertainment," Anh continued.
"If you have special needs or requests, just
let me know and I'll get whatever I can for you."

It was hard to think of comforts when
his skin burned and his chest hurt.
"Work ... has a list. Emergency stuff,"
Derreck remembered to say.

"Oh, wonderful," Anh said.
"I'll just bring that up now."
Her fingers tapped away
at a keyboard. "You like
men's adventure movies?
Have I got a treat for you
after you get through
all the decontamination!"

"What is it?" Derreck asked,
intrigued despite the circumstances.

"For now, a surprise," she said, winking at him.
"It will give you something to look forward to."

Several people leaned over Derreck
to lift him onto a stretcher. "Lab's ready
for you now, sir," one of them said. Good luck.

"Thanks," Derreck said.

"Can you stand on your own, or
do you need someone to walk you
through decontamination?" Anh asked.

Derreck hauled himself into the chamber.
"Think I can manage by myself."

"Okay. We'll cycle through several different
cleaning agents," Anh said. "They'll sting
where you're already missing skin, but
if anything hurts like it's getting worse,
you tell me and we'll shut it right off.
If anything helps a lot, say that too."

The chemical rinsing was unpleasant,
but honestly no worse than pouring
alcohol over fresh scrapes.

There were two different colors of fog,
a warm white one that did absolutely
nothing for him, and a cool blue one that
abruptly stopped the burning in his lungs.

"That last fog really helped," Derreck said.
"I can take a deep breath without coughing
or wheezing. Just my throat's a little sore still."

"Want me to run that one again?" Anh asked.

"Yes, please," he said, and they did,
after which even his throat felt better.

"Thank you for telling us. We'll make sure
to double up that one for everyone else,"
Anh said. "You're all clean now. Go on into
the lab, and our medics will take care of you."

The inner door cycled, and Derreck managed
to wobble into the lab to be caught by the medics,
their concern folding around him like a blanket.

They were gentle and thorough about
taking all the samples they needed
to find out what the glop might have
done to him and whether it would conflict
with any of the medications he needed
for the lost skin and the raging headache.

They told him everything they were doing,
and why, even though he couldn't understand
more than a third of it. They didn't mind
that he asked about his partner every five
or ten minutes, because it was hard to track
and sometimes Blitz's worry flared over the link.

"We'll make sure to keep you close together,"
Anh assured Derreck. "It's standard procedure
for telepathic incidents because sometimes
a connection forms with a distance limit
that can hurt people if they're separated."

That helped. It gave him something to cling to.

There was also the matter of the movie,
which he hadn't forgotten, and still
tweaked at his curiosity.

Finally the preliminary results came back
and told the medics what would be safe
to slather over the raw patches, something
thick with aloe gel and lanolin and enough
topical anesthetic to make Derreck sigh in relief.

They also gave him blue chamomile
for the headache, warning that it would
probably make him drowsy.

"Bonus," Derreck said. It tasted like paint.

One of the medics walked him to the living module,
although happily his muscle control was coming back.

It had two pairs of bunk beds, a shower, a toilet,
a complete kitchenette, a table and chairs, a couch,
and a surprisingly sophisticated entertainment center.
Several viewscreens emulated windows, currently blank.

It was, frankly, nicer than Derreck's first apartment
which had been barely larger and less furnished.

Anh was waiting for him on the largest viewscreen,
her blue scrubs cheerful against a white background.
"Welcome home," she said. "Where would you
like to set the view for the windows?"

"I've always wanted to visit Tahiti," he joked.

The viewscreen on the end wall flickered
to show a swath of sugar-white beach
with several palm trees leaning over
water so clear it was almost invisible.

"That's one of our top ten requests,"
Anh said. "If you want to change it,
just touch any of the viewscreens,
and a menu will come up."

"Wow," Derreck said.

"Update from the lab," Anh said.
"So far it looks like Joanne
has escaped exposure."

"Thank God," Derreck said.

"You promised me a movie,"
Derreck wheedled.

"So I did," Anh said. "Surprise."

Her image shifted from the main screen
to the end wall, regrettably replacing Tahiti.
Then the title came up, and Derreck
forgot all about the palm trees and Anh
and his zetetic nightmare of a day.

The Brass Lads VII:
Adventure of the Blue Dubloon

"But that doesn't open until next month!"
Derreck said, sitting up straight.

"When the movie studios start sending out
their review copies, sometimes we get
compassionate releases," Anh explained.
"Just don't blab the plot, all right? That
makes it harder to get more movies."

"I wouldn't -- wait, who would I even
be able to tell?" Derreck said.

"You're in quarantine, not solitary confinement,"
Anh said. "I can contact anyone for you, and
there's a net connection. We recommend that
you rest first before any detailed conversations,
but we've already passed along word to your
emergency contacts listed at the department."

Derreck dragged his attention away from
the opening credits to say, "For how long?
Blitz is a German shepherd. He needs
a lot of exercise, and if he's cooped up
then he gets kind of ... destructive."

"Typical stay is two weeks, and it rarely
lasts more than a month. You're on
full hazard pay until cleared," Anh said.
"Don't worry about Blitz; we have a standard
gym module, and blanks we can use to make
whatever else we need, like a dog park."

"Yeah, we have treadmills at home for
when the weather sucks," Derreck said.

"I'll get right on it," Anh promised.
"If you want anything else, just call --
I'll be here whenever you need me,
although the bunks have curtains for
privacy. For now, enjoy your movie."

Derreck couldn't agree more. He just
wanted to lose himself in wild antics
and truly cutting-edge explosions.

It was really a great movie, and
the sapphire coin was gorgeous.
He'd have to review it on YAWP
after the official release.

Halfway through the movie,
Blitz came in, his toenails clicking
against the floor tiles. A patch of
white gauze covered the missing fur.

Boom window, boss? Blitz said.

Derreck laughed at that description of television.
"Yeah, with a new movie and everything."

It felt so good to have his partner back,
so right, as Blitz bumped gently under
Derreck's hand. His tail wagged and
his thoughts thumped in the same rhythm.

Maybe this telepathy wasn't going
to be a career-wrecking disaster after all.

Derreck poured himself a glass of water
and added a drop of blue chamomile,
because the medics had suggested
that he try one drop at a time to see
how much it took to ease the headache.

The stuff still tasted like paint to him,
but the headache had gone from
broken glass to packing peanuts.
No wonder soups swore by the stuff.

Then Blitz climbed onto the cushions beside him,
carefully laying his head on Derreck's thigh.
Something shifted unexpectedly under them,
and Derreck grabbed the arm for support.

Oh. The couch had a recliner.

Derreck was still smiling when he fell asleep in it.

* * *


Derreck Refferson -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair. He works for the Plymouth Township police department in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania which is a suburb of Eastbord. He enjoys running obstacle courses and other team endurance sports with his K9 partner, other coworkers, or anyone else available. His success owes more to mental determination and physical stamina than to raw strength, although he is fit enough to do his job well.
Origin: Assigned to investigate what turned out to be a supervillain's lab, chemical exposure there left Derreck with superpowers.
Uniform: Plymouth police uniform, black short-sleeved shirt and trousers.
Qualities: Master (+6) Loyalty, Expert (+4) Leader, Expert (+4) Policeman, Good (+2) Easy Listening Music, Good (+2) Iron Will, Good (+2) Men's Adventure Fan, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Team Endurance Sports, Good (+2) Tolerant, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Worries About What People Think
Powers: Good (+2) Telempath
Motivation: To make the world a safer place.

Blitz -- He is a German shepherd with a golden-brown coat and a dark mask over his face. He works with his human partner Derreck Refferson.
Origin: Assigned to investigate what turned out to be a supervillain's lab, chemical exposure there left Blitz with superpowers.
Uniform: Plymouth police collar with tags and badge.
Qualities: Master (+6) Loyalty, Expert (+4) Police Dog, Good (+2) Adaptability, Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Reading People
Poor (-2) Destructive When Bored
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Intelligence, Good (+2) Telempath
Motivation: To please his partner Derreck.

The models for Derreck and Blitz were Officer Brad Fox and his K-9 partner Officer Nick.  Special thanks to [personal profile] librarygeek for that link.

Pizzo (Monte Reckerman) -- He has pale skin, dark brown eyes, and lank black hair to his shoulders. A single piercing in the center of his lower lip holds a captive-bead ring. Pizzo's super-gizmology runs to the chemical side of things. Regrettably he hasn't got the common sense to run a safe lab, so there have been accidents, and his materials tend to have unpleasant side effects. Despite the hazardous qualities of the stuff he mixes up, Pizzo has a large number of friends who hang out hoping that he will provide them with drugs or even super-gizmotronic substances. That makes it easy for him to trade for whatever he needs. He likes cats, and often puts out food scraps for the strays. He dislikes dogs, and big dogs frighten him.
Origin: He wanted superpowers, so he brewed up some weird shit. But even after it worked, he wasn't satisfied, and kept wanting more.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cat Lover, Good (+2) Chemist, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Innovative, Good (+2) Stoner Friends
Poor (-2) Common Sense
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Gizmology, Average (0) Super-Intelligence
Vulnerabilities: Going from gizmology to super-gizmology left him with allergies to a bunch of chemicals, mostly artificial fragrances. Going from ordinary to super intelligence left him with photosensitivity, and he starts to get a sunburn after about five minutes in direct sunlight.
Motivation: To gain more superpowers.

Joanne O'Nell -- She has fair skin, green eyes, and long wavy brown hair. She loves animals, and as a teen she worked at her uncle's veterinary clinic to earn money for college. Later she went into emergency medicine for humans.
Qualities: Master (+6) Teamwork, Expert (+4) Paramedic, Expert (+4) Strength, Good (+2) Industrious, Good (+2) Japanese Pop Music Fan, Good (+2) Partners with Wrex Abanathy, Good (+2) Positive Self-Talk, Good (+2) Veterinary Assistant
Poor (-2) Tolerating Mess

Wrex Abanathy -- He has milk chocolate skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair buzzed almost down to the skin. He grew up an only child of a single mother, which made it difficult for him to form close ties with other people. Wrex is good at connecting with patients, but in trying to make friends he has to rely far more on the other person's skill than his own. It makes him very fond of his partner Joanne, who excels at teamwork and friendship alike. Wrex enjoys games with a strong visual component, such as spotting or matching games.
Origin: Sent to assist casualties at what turned out to be a supervillain's lab, chemical exposure there left Wrex with superpowers.
Uniform: Plymouth ambulance uniform of blue trousers and long-sleeved shirt with a reflective orange vest.
Qualities: Master (+6) Alert, Expert (+4) Paramedic, Expert (+4) Tough, Good (+2) Drive, Good (+2) Partners with Joanne O'Nell, Good (+2) Self-Starter, Good (+2) Visual Games
Poor (-2) Developing Close Relationships
Powers: Average (0) Telempath
Motivation: To take good care of people during the worst times.

Anh Vaughn -- She has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes set level in a heart-shaped face, and long straight black hair. Her heritage is primarily mixed Asian, including Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, plus a Welsh grandfather. She has a huge, mostly happy family but some members were trapped in North Korea and she's sensitive about that. Confucianism emphasizes good behavior, education, and respect for hierarchy -- all things she admires. Anh enjoys carving blocks to make art prints, a traditional Vietnamese hobby, and makes a lot of cards which she donates to gift shops at hospitals and other places. She also makes fermented foods such as kimchi, do chua, and tofu. Anh works for the Eastbord SPAZMAT department, and she has kept in touch with many former clients.
Qualities: Master (+6) Compassion, Master (+6) Smart, Expert (+4) Family Ties, Expert (+4) Qigong, Expert (+4) SPAZMAT, Good (+2) Block Printer, Good (+2) Confucianism, Good (+2) Fermented Foods, Good (+2) First Responder, Good (+2) Limber, Good (+2) Zetetics
Poor (-2) Touchy About North Korea

* * *

"The dog is a reflection of your energy, of your behavior. You have to ask, 'What am I doing?' That's the right question to ask."
-- Cesar Millan

Blitz is a police dog trained in a variety of law enforcement skills. In T-America, a police animal is considered a police officer, with their own personnel file attached to the handler's file, and a badge with its own number typically worn on a collar or harness. Some departments issue a tailored uniform similar to those worn by some guide dogs or therapy horses. Some crimes are specified as relating to "police officers" and cover all species of police staff, while others are particular to species. In at least one case, a species-specific law (relating to the use of heat pheromones on a police dog) was successfully argued to apply to different species (sex pollen on a human man) on the grounds that it would have been species-generic if anyone had thought that type of assault could be equally effective on a human.

Blitz is making this face at the stench of the lab.

A good seatbelt for dogs has a harness that snaps to the vehicle's safety equipment.

German dog commands came from SearchK9, KraftwerkK9, and Vonfalconer. Working dogs may be trained to obey only one person, or only designated people. It is easier if the language is something other than the local vernacular, and that also helps avoid mistaking ordinary speech for commands.
Voran = search, scout (a free-range command)
Such = search, track (a directed command)

Dog alerts may be silent or audible; Blitz knows both.

Police may use tactical lockpicking and specialized entry techniques. This does less damage and allows quiet entrance.

Chemical hazards pose a serious threat in local-Earth and in Terramagne zetetic substances are even worse. Know how to prevent and cope with lab accidents.

Thilly Thread is a T-American material made from corn, which forms a plasticky string as it sprays from a can. It washes off with water and biodegrades fast. It is similar to L-American Silly String, although the local version is harder to clean up.

Police dogs are trained to attack, variously to hold someone or to damage vital points. Having identified the perp as a credible threat, Blitz goes for a combination of hold and damage. Notice that the circulatory system has more blood vessels on the inside surfaces of arms and legs than the outer surfaces. To survive a dog attack, try to block with a forearm or knee and protect vulnerable areas. Pizzo has enough arterial punctures to be bleeding rather briskly.

Aus = Let Go
Wache = Guard
-- Vonfalconer

Zei Brav = Good Boy
-- Vonfalconer

Being a hero means saving even the bad guys. T-American police are obligated to stop combat as soon as the opponent stops resisting. Police are responsible for the safety and care of their captives. So once Pizzo goes down, Derreck is required to get him out of the building which is on fire and full of dangerous chemicals, even though Pizzo is an ass and an idiot.

T-American SPAZMAT is the equivalent of L-American HAZMAT, equipped for dealing with superpowered issues. It stands for Super-Powered Assessment, Zetetics, Management, And Transport. They are equipped for medical intervention, because zetetic materials can do nasty things to people. The protective suits have very clear identification, for responsibility, ease of recognition, and reassurance of victims. I found this article about portraits on ebola suits after I'd written the poem. By making the quarantine as bearable as possible, the staff reduce psychological harm and the chance of people trying to fight their way out, thus making it safer for everyone. You really don't want to stress anyone who's just sprouted a new superpower, or might do so.

Wrex's comment refers to T-American medics practicing medical neutrality in terms of helping even supervillains.

Kamerad = workmate, friend
-- German
A police dog is often trained to refuse commands and contact from unauthorized people. Some version of "Friend" is a common authorization command.

Triage and emergency care require prioritizing injuries. In this case the challenge is between two highly important things: oxygenation vs. care of chemical burns that are getting worse and might be toxic as well as caustic. Since Wrex is breathing, with minor impairment, getting the chemicals off him is more important -- unless his breathing goes downhill.

Emotional First Aid assists people in coping with traumatic stress, thus reducing the risk of PTSD. A patient who dies of PTSD a few months later is just as dead as one who bleeds to death under your hands. Since it's necessary to monitor state of consciousness anyhow, you might as well do that with conversation that also serves the purpose of soothing your patient, keeping him calm enough to not punch your lights out, and gathering usable information for further care. Notice that when Wrex recognizes his own exposure and start to wobble over that, Derreck manages to scrape up enough focus to apply a little EFA in return.

Chemical burns vary in severity much like thermal burns. Jelly-Off is a T-American first aid supply used for removing a wide range of harmful substances, somewhat inspired by the zinc acetate stuff used for jellyfish stings in L-America.

Superhero origin often entails traumatic manifestation due to such things as a lab accident. In this case the result is Telempathy.

In Terramagne, a metagen is anything that changes the ordinary to the super. Most often this applies to mysterious chemicals, and that's what people usually mean by the term. However, radiation is also a metagen in Terramagne, as are some other forces and materials. The effects may be positive or negative, sometimes even both.

One serious problem is that the results are erratic, sometimes hard to replicate, sometimes impossible. Take an Average (0) Metagen, and douse a hundred people with it. One of them will turn into a soup. Ten or so will drop dead. Most of the rest will just get sick, and recover. Some metagens have worse effects; for instance, the ones Judd had in the wagon killed everything they touched except for him. Nasty stuff. Metagens intended for human use -- makeup, tattoo ink, etc. -- are less likely to kill, so you'll see a pattern where most people have unpleasant reactions and one or a few will gain superpowers. Most metagens work by activating someone's latent potential.

Far less common are metagens with a higher rate of manifestation. These may work by creating a power where no latent potential existed, although some of them also bring latents into manifestation. It creates a different shape of transformational footprint in the population exposed. Three manifestations out of three exposures, all the same talent, puts the metagen of this poem squarely in this category.

A cricket is a person with superpowers who rarely if ever uses them, instead preferring to live a commonplace life. They are almost always "in the fuse box" or hiding their power from most or all people. The term comes from "you can hear the crickets chirping," a reference to safe and usual situations, or to a group of people who don't speak up.

Zetetic refers to gizmology and super-gizmology. As an adjective, it means "proceeding by inquiry and investigation." As a noun, zetetist means "inquirer" and zetetics means "an inquiry" or the field itself. In Terramagne, this is the field of study which analyzes (or attempts to analyze) gizmos and super-gizmos. It is distinct from gizmology and super-gizmology in that it does not aim to create new devices, but rather to understand and perhaps duplicate existing ones. Zetetic consultants are essential for police, who sometimes gather evidence from labs active in gizmology or super-gizmology.

Blitz has gone from a heroic dog to an intellectual animal.

"Laugh it up, fuzzball!" is a classic Han Solo line. Enjoy the original.

Dymondine is a synthetic carbon crystal, with a maximum hardness around 12 compared to the 10 of natural diamond, although much of it is only 11 or so. This is retro-engineered tech. Dymondine is a rare median between ordinary material and super-gizmos, in that it can be produced by ordinary people but then function on a super scale. It makes terrific armor visors, windows, and many other things. Dymondine can be grown in a lab with variable appearance: clear, frosted, tinted, or opaque. Carbon is cheap, and the catalytic equipment costs about typical for high-quality lab gear. The main limitation is similar to that of 3D printers: it's more expensive and difficult to make large panes than small ones. As with glass near its beginning, most pieces of dymondine are therefore small and assembled into desired configuration with seams; large ones are rare. However, the price is coming down.

Toxic chemicals can impair the immune system, temporarily or permanently. That's half the reason why it's standard practice to quarantine people exposed to zetetic materials, the other being being so they don't contaminate other people. The timeframe is shorter if it turns out that someone does not have immune problems and isn't hazardous to others.

Men's Adventure is a popular genre of literature and film.

In Terramagne, a corporation called Vigilance makes shelters similar to these by Terra Vivos. T-American SPAZMAT teams use them for quarantine chambers because the modular construction makes them easy to transport and connect. Each pod is typically put into a trailer or train car and the empty space filled with insulating foam or concrete for protection. Doors at either end connect to other pods or hubs. Customarily the outside entrance is an airlock leading to a decontamination chamber, and from the other side to a small airlock hub connecting the pods. The small hub has six apertures for connecting pods or tunnels. A typical sleeping/living pod contains two pair of bunk beds to sleep up to four people. A lab pod is often added for analytical work or medical support. Pods can be customized for other purposes as needed, such as a gym or garden. For large-scale quarantine, there is a huge dome hub which can be used to connect many pods, and contains extra facilities with upper and lower levels.

SPAZMAT recognizes that quarantine can be traumatic, so a liaison is attached to each small group of people to ensure their mental health and safety by providing human interaction, counseling, and whatever creature comforts they request that will reasonably fit. Ideally private accommodations are offered, but sometimes people can't be separated or a mass-casualty incident causes crowding, hence the multiple bunks.

Tahiti is a popular tourist destination, and a relaxing place to pretend you're in quarantine. Enjoy a beach view.

Solitary confinement quickly damages people. T-America uses technology to provide as much contact as possible when ordinary contact is unfeasible. So then it's just inconvenient and unpleasant, not life-wrecking.

German shepherds are popular as police dogs., but they often turn destructive when bored.

YAWP is a review-anything service similar to Yelp!
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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