Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Consequential Decisions"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, inspired by discussion with various readers about ongoing repercussions in Easy City events. It fills the "Something Is Destroyed / Demolished" square in my 2-10-15 card for the [community profile] ladiesbingo fest, and the "desperate" square in my 8-31-15 card for the Tones Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the Berettaflies thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem shows the Spectrum in the aftermath of the Berettaflies incident, trying to cope with the fallout and not doing very well with it. Highlight for more specific warnings, some of which are spoilers. There are references to severe on-the-job failures, unhealthy thought patterns, damaged group dynamics, self-doubt, manipulation, scathing criticism, rejection, deceit, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before clicking through.


"Consequential Decisions"


Tanger hated the sitting and waiting
part of being a superhera.

They had done a thorough job of
cracking open the last laboratory,
but Mr. Pernicious and Stylet had
both escaped in the confusion.

She decked the notes from
that mission, checked over
the team's calendar, and
realized that they didn't
have another lined up.

Tanger missed Rayblaze;
with him leading the team,
they'd never had this kind of
downtime, and she had been
able to concentrate on fighting
instead of organization.

Losing him had almost destroyed
the team, but she was determined
to hold them together somehow.

Desperate to find a new mission,
Tanger made the call.

"Easy City SPOON Base,
Dispatcher Levasseur speaking,"
said the mellow voice. "How may I help you?"

"This is Tanger of the Spectrum," she said.
"We're looking for work, if you have any
assignments available. We're happy
to travel, even long distance."

Preferably long distance, at this point,
given how the local temper was heating up.

"There are no assignments available
at this time," the voice said
as it chilled noticeably.

Tanger shivered. "I see,"
she said. "Do you have any idea
when that might change?"

"Not until people stop calling for help
and telling us not to send you,"
said Dispatcher Levasseur.

"That's unexpected," Tanger said.

"After that de'pouille?"
said Dispatcher Levasseur.
"Decisions have consequences,
and you might want to rethink some
of yours. Do the world a favor, call
the police and own up to that."

Then the line abruptly went dead.

Tanger put away her phone,
her hope demolished.

One hand tugged at the opposite sleeve,
trying to make it feel less tight. She
remembered the bright silver of
their old uniforms; somehow
the mourning black never
seemed to fit as well.

"What did they say?" Blastwave asked,
his blue-violet backside showing as
he bent over to get a beer. He
was a free spirit, and liked to go
nude as much as he could.

"They don't have anything for us
at the moment," Tanger said.
"And for God's sake, Blastwave,
put on some pants!"

"Do you think, maybe ..." Limestrike began.
He swallowed hard, then continued,
"... people might be dissatisfied
with the work we've done?"

Acid doubt boiled in Tanger's belly.

"No, it's fine," she said. "We'll just
explore some other avenues next.
Levinbolt, reach out to your people
on the street, and see if anyone
there has a tip for us to follow."

The yellow woman spit her cigarette butt
into the ashtray. "On it," she said.
Bruises from the last fight still
showed orange and brown,
but didn't slow her down.

Tanger stood up too.
Blastwave looked to her
for guidance. Limestrike
just looked lost.

She knew that she needed
to stay in charge and keep them busy,
understood how much weight
rested on her choices.

"Up and at 'em, boys,"
Tanger said briskly as
she clapped her hands.
"Let's do a gear check
so we'll be ready to go
when Levinbolt comes
back with a gig."

Blastwave and Limestrike
jumped to obey her, just as
readily as they used to do
for Rayblaze, but somehow,

that didn't make her feel any better.

* * *

Notes:

Yvette Levasseur -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long straight hair of light brown. She works as a dispatcher at the Easy City SPOON base. Consequently she knows many of the soups who work in the South. A drawback is that her Telempathy has complicated her relationship with other family members because it's hard for her to block them out, and then she picks up stuff that everyone wishes she wouldn't.
Origin: As part of pursuing an Activity Scout badge, Yvette volunteered as a teen counselor on a helpline. One night, a depressed boy called, and after a while announced that he was going to kill himself. Desperate to save him, Yvette imagined reaching out to him through the phone line -- and made contact. Through her telempathy, she managed to keep him alive until emergency workers arrived.
Uniform: On duty, she wears the Easy City SPOON uniform of tan shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in gold on the chest pocket. Off duty, she likes elegant, understated women's fashions. She favors soft neutrals and pastels.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Dispatcher, Good (+2) Equanimity, Good (+2) Executive Function, Good (+2) Soothing Voice, Good (+2) Yard & Garden Games
Poor (-2) Awkward Family Relations
Powers: Good (+2) Telempathy
Motivation: To be a lifeline for people in danger.

* * *

Patience is a virtue and waiting is a skill. Tanger is good at neither.

Taking charge after a popular leader has left can be very difficult. There are tips on how to do it right.

De’pouille -- anything or anyone who is a mess
-- Cajun Slang

Among the many reasons why someone might reject help, it might be a burden or might make things worse. "Helpiness" is wanting to help because it makes you feel good, not because it actually improves anything for the recipient.

Poor performance and misconduct both cause problems in the work environment. Follow the steps for managing problem employees. The challenge for SPOON is that the organization is not a structured employer, but more like a clearinghouse for job references. That limits their options for how to sanction unsatisfactory behavior -- but they can definitely decline to connect screwups with any new gigs.

Bad leaders make trouble in many ways, especially when they mislead people about what's really going on. Tanger is just trying to hold her team together under very difficult circumstances, but her methodology sucks.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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