Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Under the Hammer"

This poem came out of the January 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] shiori_makiba. It also fills the "chosen family" square on my 1-4-16 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by LJ user book_worm5. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It has children in danger, threats of human trafficking, and canon-typical violence. Unsurprisingly the villain gets his ass handed to him, and is left unconscious on the ground without immediate attention because the only adult is busy taking care of the kids he just terrorized. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"Under the Hammer"

The four of them walked slowly through
the autumn woods, because Hammerspace
liked to take her foster daughters out hiking
to show them how beautiful Canada could be,
even though her limp made it difficult.

Aziza's powerful strides put her in the lead,
her sister Deka just behind, two dark shadows
slipping through the sunbeams. Shelta was
much younger than the teens, only five,
her fair skin and brown curls a contrast
to their chocolate tones.

Hammerspace followed them, the wind
teasing her short red hair but failing
to cut through her colorful sweater.

As they passed the parking lot beside
a playground tucked into the forest,
a harsh voice said, "That's far enough.
Oh, you'll fetch a lot under the hammer."

Instantly Hammerspace yelled,
"Sardines!" and yanked her children
behind the nearest tree.

"Shh," Aziza said to Shelta.
"Stand still and watch this --
Mommy's going to do a magic trick."

"Come quietly and nobody
has to get hurt!" said their attacker.
A freeze pistol glinted blue in his hand.

Deka said a rude word in Somali.

Looking around for inspiration,
Hammerspace spied a yellow bucket
abandoned beside the sandbox.

Quickly she reached for it through
the there-not-there space that lay
behind and between everything.

Turning the bucket on its side,
she aimed it at the stranger and
then connected it to the ocean
so that cold saltwater began
spraying out like a firehose.

The sudden deluge made the man
shout in dismay and drop his gun.

As the bucket and its waterjet ricocheted
around the woods, Hammerspace
darted from one tree to another.

She always appeared on the far side
from his perspective, which shielded her
from his attacks; even when he recovered
his gun, he could not get a clear shot, and
the children were completely hidden.

When he made the mistake of stepping
between two nearby trees, Hammerspace
slipped behind him, centered herself,
pulled out her giant mallet, and
whacked him over the head.

He collapsed onto the ground,
helpless under the hammer.

Groaning, Hammerspace bent down
to make sure that their attacker
was only unconscious, not dead.

Nobody hurt her chosen family.

Then she flitted back to the secret space
that concealed her children and said,
"You all did a wonderful job of hiding.
Aziza, call the mounties to come
and pick up the bad man."

Shelta was starting to cry, which meant
Hammerspace had more important things
to worry about than an unconscious crook
who was probably into human trafficking.

She picked up her daughter and began to sing.

* * *


Hammerspace (Iona Nolan) -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes, and short auburn hair. Her heritage is Irish-Canadian. Her fighting style is Kobudo, an Okinawan tradition that utilizes multiple weapons most of which derive from ordinary farm implements.
A severe combat injury shattered both legs and left her with a permanent limp. After that, she retired to become a foster mother, first with the two African toddlers whom she had been protecting and then later with others. She specializes in sheltering refugees, including superkids.
Origin: As a tween, she started carrying a purse and realized that it could hold more than it should. Eventually, she didn't need the purse anymore and her capacity became ridiculously large.
Uniform: Street clothes, but with a consistent style. She likes brightly colored sweaters with fun designs, worn over jeans. She knits many of her own, although her skill is only average.
Qualities: Expert (+2) Foster Mom, Good (+2) Fierce, Good (+2) Kobudo, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Tactical Thought
Poor (-2) Walks with a Limp
Powers: Master (+6) Hammerspace (Signature Stunts: Hidden Travel, Partial Transit; Spin-off Stunt: Cluehammer)
She can put objects into superpowered storage and remove them at will, but she can also use hammerspace to hide behind impossibly narrow cover or to produce whatever is needed out of thin air. The size limit goes up to a battleship of 50,000 tons; she is famous for producing one to beat Kraken in a naval fight.
Once hidden behind an object, she can travel through hammerspace to jump out from behind a different object. She can even reach through to pick up things at a distance.
She can also force people to recognize inconvenient truths, but this tends to cause a painful fracture of the victim's reality tunnel.
Motivation: To protect her family.

Aziza Duale -- She has chocolate skin, brown eyes, and long black hair worn in many braids. She is the adopted daughter of Iona Nolan, older natural sister of Deka Duale, and older foster sister of Shelta. Aziza is 17. She emigrated from Somalia to Canada, where she was first fostered and then adopted by Hammerspace. Unlike Deka, Aziza has clear memories of Somalia that still bother her sometimes.
Origin: Her superpower is growing in gradually.
Uniform: Mostly street clothes, but she has a brown jacket and boots of krevel to help reduce the tendency to shred everything.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Loyalty, Good (+2) Fortitude, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Childhood Trauma
Powers: Poor (-2) Super-Strength
She's already stronger than ordinary, but her control isn't there yet and the protective field fluctuates too. So Aziza is very accident-prone for now.
Motivation: To keep her family together.

Deka Duale -- She has chocolate skin, brown eyes, and short nappy brown hair. She is the adopted daughter of Iona Nolan, younger natural sister of Deka Duale, and older foster sister of Shelta. Deka is 15. She emigrated from Somalia to Canada, where she was first fostered and then adopted by Hammerspace. Deka cannot remember Somalia much and has grown up in Canada, but doesn't feel quite at home there due to ethnic differences.
Origin: She was born with her superpower on.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Curious, Good (+2) Social Studies Student, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Somali-Canadian
Powers: Average (0) Empathy
Motivation: To fit the pieces of Somalia and Canada together.

Shelta Kerry -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes, and curly brown hair to her shoulders. She is 5 years old. She is the foster daughter of Iona Nolan, younger foster sister of Aziza and Deka Duale. Her heritage is Pavee, or Irish Traveler. She was separated from her parents when they were arrested and harassed for being homefree. The parents gave false names for everyone: Shelta is a name for their language, Kerry the county they were in at the time. Shelta is having a hard time dealing with the separation from her birth parents.
Origin: Shelta's superpower emerged when she got lost in the woods as a toddler, and the carrying sound brought help.
Uniform: Play clothes, often with sweaters knitted by Iona.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Traveler, Good (+2) Cheerful, Good (+2) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Musical Intelligence
Poor (-2) Parental Separation
Powers: Good (+2) Bardic Voice
Motivation: To reunite with her birth parents.

Cortez Norquay -- He has fair skin, black eyes, and short straight black hair that stands up in a central crest. He is Metis with Spanish and Native Canadian ancestors. Cortez works for human traffickers, finding and capturing desirable livestock. He likes to use bolt pistols.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gunplay, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Tenacious, Good (+2) Tracker
Poor (-2) Hoarse Voice

* * *

"Under the hammer" typically means "for sale" but it can also refer to getting crushed.

Human trafficking is a serious problem in Terramagne, partly because soups are such valuable livestock. If you can get them, which is extremely hazardous to try.

Sardines is a children's game of hiding. Hammerspace uses it as a family codeword to tell the children that she's going to hide them 'between spaces' and they should stay put until she comes back for them.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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