Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Enumerating Priorities"

This poem is spillover from the October 18, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "bonding" square in my 8-1-16 card for the Survival Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Enumerating Priorities"

Olivia looked at the old brick building
with apartments above the storefront and
a narrow glass door leading to the stairs.

A big sign above the show window read,
Brooklyn Superhero Supply, and the display
included two costumed mannequins holding up
a viewscreen, flanked by bright posters advertising
sidekick placement services and invisible aircraft.

"This is supposed to be a reward?"
she said, wrinkling her nose.

"I promised you some fun if you waited
for me nicely while I worked on the train, and
you did, so if this doesn't pan out then I'll take you
to HAMshack instead," said Dr. Fleer.

Olivia wasn't keen on having a foster family
instead of her real family, but she had to admit
that Dr. Fleer was way more interesting and
better at keeping her too occupied
to get into much trouble.

"Okay," said Olivia.

"How far did you get with
your math problems?"
Dr. Fleer asked as she
opened the door.

"42% done," said Olivia.
"They're a lot harder than
the ones I'm used to."

"Once we figure out your level,
I can set things so they're challenging
but not overwhelming," Dr. Fleer said.
"Now let's go find some goodies. This is
one of my favorite self-encouragement stops,
and I hope you'll enjoy it just as much."

Inside, the office for customer service
rose above racks and shelves cluttered
with all kinds of unimaginable stuff.
Nearby a sign said, Gear & Manuals.

Several bulletin boards caught Olivia's eye.

One of them held personal ads for things
like an invisible man seeking a stylist
and a radioactive dog needing a home.

"Don't even ask," Dr. Fleer said,
eyeing the picture of the dog.

"I'm more of a cat person," Olivia said.

There were sample stickers of
superhero silhouettes that you could
have customized and printed out
with your own name on them.

"I don't know if I really want to be
a superhera, though. This place
seems kind of pushy," Olivia said.

"It's not all superheroes," Dr. Fleer said,
pointing out a business card for
a one-man demolition service.
"There are blue plates too."

More bulletin boards had
colorful banners that read,
Character Is Our Superpower
and Reading Is My Superpower.

"Is that true?" Olivia asked. "I thought
superpowers were things like Teleportation
and Shapeshifting and Laser Eyes."

"Yes, it's true," said Dr. Fleer. "Just like
ordinary intelligence and Super-Intellect,
people can have virtues as superpowers.
These are actually supernary signs, though.
People can use intense training to learn
how to function on a super level, and
reading is a good way to do that."

"Neat," Olivia said, and then
began exploring the manuals.

Then she drifted over to look at
the shelves full of cans, bottles,
boxes, and other containers.

"Help me look for disposal supplies,"
said Dr. Fleer. "Those are some of
the practical things I need to pick up."

"Okay," said Olivia. Then she spied
an interesting can. "Magnetism?
Does this actually work?"

"In a way," said Dr. Fleer.
"It's a fluid that you can pour
over things to make them
magnetic for a while."

"Look, it's only ten bucks,"
Olivia said. "Can I have some?"

"Sure," said Dr. Fleer. "Don't worry,
my budget is a lot bigger than that."

Olivia looked at her foster mom
loading a basket with bottles of
Maxitack super-glue, which was
ridiculously expensive, and she
realized that this shopping trip
could yield a lot more loot than
it would have with her real mom.

"Thanks," Olivia said, and
put her bottle in the basket.

"Oh, here they are," Dr. Fleer said
as she grabbed a big box of
isolation trash bags.

"Lead-lined paper bags?"
Olivia read, curious.

"Get some of those too,"
said Dr. Fleer. "They're sold
for security, to keep people from
scanning your electronics, but
they were originally designed for
lab safety and that's how I use them."

Olivia tried to pick up the box,
but it didn't budge. "It's heavy!"

"It's lead," said Dr. Fleer. "That box
probably weighs fifty pounds." She
tucked it under her arm. "I'll go put
this on the counter, there's no point
carrying it around while we shop."

Dr. Fleer worked in construction
and engineering. She wasn't
super-strong, but she was still
a lot stronger than Olivia was.

Then her attention snagged on an ad
attached to a nearby shelf which read,
Mer Systems Aquatic Superhero Gear:
Because the Earth Isn't 70% Land.

"Ooo!" said Olivia, and started
rummaging through the boxes.

"Let me see," said Dr. Fleer as
she came back from the counter.
"What's your swimming level?"

"I'm at Level Six," said Olivia. "I
could go a lot faster if the stupid pool
didn't put age limits on everything."

"We'll find you one that doesn't, and
then you can learn at your own speed,
which is crucial for Super-Intellects,"
said Dr. Fleer. "Meanwhile, most of
these are over your head." She pointed
to a little square on the box that showed
the recommended swimming level
for each of the products.

"Aww," said Olivia. "Swimming
is cool. I wanted to soup it up."

"Well, let's look for something that you
can use at your current level," said Dr. Fleer.
"Then we'll look for things that are higher than
that, and if you earn your way up, I'll buy you
more Mer Systems equipment as a prize."

Having to wait for the good stuff was
disappointing, but Olivia looked forward
to taking some more swim classes.

"Some of these have letters instead of
numbers," she said. "What's that mean?"

Dr. Fleer looked at those boxes and said,
"The soft AquaSilk mask is rated BWS for
Basic Water Safety. The medium one is L for
Lifeguard. The semi-rigid style reinforced with
krevel is OWD for Open Water Dive, which is
a SCUBA certification. You could take BWS now.
Junior diving classes start at 10, but you have
to be 11 for the junior lifeguard course."

Her tenth birthday was approaching, but
Olivia realized that most of the equipment was
meant for much more experienced swimmers.
"All the good stuff's too high," she sighed.

"I don't know," said Dr. Fleer. "Do you
like mermaids? Tail fins start at Level 6, and
the levels go up as the fins get bigger and stiffer,
all the way up to full-sleeve zetetic mermaid tails
for adults. I think those look beautiful."

"Yeah, but the girl ones look dumb,"
Olivia said, shaking her head.

"We could probably find plain monofins
somewhere else," Dr. Fleer said.

"What about these?" Olivia said,
holding up a box of webbed gloves.
"They're black like my fins at home --
I mean, back at my parents' house."

"Olivia, it's okay to say home,"
Dr. Fleer said gently. "I'm not trying
to replace your mother, I'm just here
to help you with that big brain now that
you've gotten outside of her range."

"Yeah, I know," said Olivia.

"We can pick up your swim fins
the next time we visit your family, or
your parents can mail them to you,"
said Dr. Fleer. "Oh, good, look at this.
The P inside a hand means that these
are prosthetic grade, not just toys."

"I do like the webs," Olivia said.
"I wonder what size to get?"

The shopkeeper approached.
"Hi, I'm Serra Castel," she said.
"Can I help you with something?"

Olivia repeated her question, and Serra
showed her to the scanning booth which
measured her and then spit out her sizes
for all the companies stocked in the store.

"Child size medium for webbed gloves,"
Serra said cheerfully. "Let me know
if I can help with anything else."

"Thank you, we will," said Dr. Fleer.

Olivia glanced at the areas devoted to
Outfitting and Capery, and the bold sign
advertising the Astounding Cape Tester, but
she hesitated to check out the vivid displays.

"Go on, see if anything appeals,"
Dr. Fleer said with a gentle nudge.

Several racks held capes,
with or without symbols on them,
and t-shirts hung everywhere
in child and adult sizes.

Signs indicated that these were
samples, and customized items
could be made from stock images
or your own personal designs.

"Eee! This one has gears on it!"
Olivia said, grabbing an orange t-shirt
with three red gears on the front.
"Can I get a costume?"

"See what you can put together,"
Dr. Fleer said. "First, think about
what things you want and why.
Second, consider colors -- you
already have two, and more
than three rarely looks good."

"So I can add one more," Olivia said.
"What do you think, pink or yellow?"

"Look and see what they have,
first," said Dr. Fleer. "You might
consider gold instead of yellow."

Olivia found a pair of orange shorts,
and Dr. Fleer helpfully directed
her attention to the cans of
dexflan tights from Mt. Fortress.

Olivia chose red tights and
a matching cape of capery.

"Gloves and boots," Olivia said,
looking at the options. "I need
something for my feet, and I'm
always scuffing my hands."

"Gloves make it harder
to type," Dr. Fleer warned.

"No, look, they have fingerless ones,"
Olivia said. "White, brown, black, gold,
red, pink, blue, green, and purple."

She liked the pink dexflan gloves
with the cute bows on the wrists,
but the pink krevel ones looked awful
while the gold krevel ones looked
like real driving gloves.

They had boots in both solid krevel
and dexflan with or without krevel soles,
in acceptable shades of pink and gold.

There were utility belts in all colors
and styles and materials, too, and they
had every imaginable type of mask.

"How about mask glasses?"
asked Dr. Fleer. "Check out
this brand -- they're polarized."

"So it would cut down glare,"
Olivia said. "I like that idea."

The glasses came in gold
but not pink, so that settled
the issue of her third color.

Olivia picked out a utility belt
and boots to go with what
she already had in hand.

"All right, go to the changing room
and try it on," said Dr. Fleer.

"What changing room?" Olivia said,
looking around the cramped shop
for the familiar lady symbol.

"It's right there," Dr. Fleer said,
pushing her toward a door
that said, Telephone.

Olivia tried on her outfit,
and thanks to the scanner,
everything fit on the first try.
She came out to show it off.

"Bravo!" Dr. Fleer applauded.
"Do you want to test it?"

Olivia climbed into the cape tester
and Dr. Fleer turned on the fans,
then twirled a finger to indicate
that Olivia should turn around
and see how the cape would
flow from all directions.

It felt surprisingly comfortable,
it didn't get in her way, and
as long as she was wearing it,
she'd always have a dropcloth.
Ordinary oil wouldn't stain capery.

When she stepped down,
a little boy in a yellow cape
and a red t-shirt with a black car
came up and asked, "If you're
done, can I have a turn?"

"Sure," said Olivia.

She watched him twist and pose
with the cape fluttering around him.

Then he hopped down.
"Hi, I'm Car Kid," he said.
"What's your name?"

"I'm the Numerator," she said,
matching her cape name to his.
"I'm super-smart, what about you?"

"Me too!" Car Kid said, jumping
up and down. "I like to fix cars."

"I used to work on cars, but now
I'm more into trains," said Dr. Fleer.

"Trains are okay," said Car Kid.
"I thought about making a train set,
but I couldn't find good enough parts."

"Check out the Tesla Tots shelf,"
the shopkeeper advised. "They
make Junior Gizmology kits in
several levels of complexity,
so you should be able to find
something that suits your needs."

The ones that included a selection
of gizmotronic materials were pricey,
but the ones that just had a great set
of parts for building gizmos were
a lot more affordable.

Dr. Fleer helped Olivia and
Car Kid pick out some kits.
Then she said, "Let's find
something to take home for
my other kids to enjoy."

"Like what?" Olivia said,
looking around at all of
the superhero stuff.

"How about climbing gear?"
said Dr. Fleer. "We could
buy some lumber and add
a third tower to the playset."

The climbing section held rope
in hanks or spools, cargo nets,
chocks, carabiners, leash snaps,
plain hooks, and grappling hooks
along with all sorts of other stuff.

"We can get a cargo net and
a couple of hanks of rope in
different sizes," Dr. Fleer said
as she picked some up.

"What's rack line?" Olivia said.
"That stuff is way more expensive."

"It's short for arachne," said Dr. Fleer.
"That's a resilient rope for climbing in
risky conditions. It is made from a blend of
gengineered spidersilk and synthetic fibers."

"I guess we don't need it for this project,"
Olivia said. That was disappointing,
because it was beautiful rope.

"There will be other times,"
Dr. Fleer assured her.

Then Olivia spotted a man in
a red mask and a red plaid shirt
opening a secret door behind the shelves.

She tugged on Dr. Fleer's sleeve
and pointed, not wanting to yell.

"That's the door to the security room,"
said Dr. Fleer. "It holds the viewscreens
and some of the more sensitive supplies.
Would you like to peek inside? It's okay
if you're with me, and I want to check
the security feeds anyway."

"This is so cool," Olivia said,
following Dr. Fleer inside.

"That's Calidity," Dr. Fleer said,
indicating the man in red. "He's
a volunteer firefighter upstate."
"Calidity, this is my foster daughter,
the Numerator. I'm teaching her
how to make the most of her gifts."

"Another budding gizmologist, eh?"
said Calidity. "Come here and see
the security screens, the setup
here is just fantastic."

He showed them a bank of
screens, each one displaying
a different city or neighborhood,
labeled with a level of concern --
at arms, disorderly, twitchy,
unstable, scared, uneasy,
fallible, all clear, all secure.

Thankfully, their part of Eastbord
was all clear, and so was most of
Onion City, although one spot in
the south end was fallible due to
an anti-soup demonstration.

"Looks good to go," Calidity said.

"So it does," said Dr. Fleer.
"Let's wrap this up." She
led the way to checkout.

"We got a lot of stuff,"
Olivia said as they piled
everything on the counter.

"I always do when I come
here to -- oh, Salted Bravery!"
Dr. Fleer exclaimed, grabbing
a gray can that rattled.

"Is that real?" Olivia asked. "I mean,
can you actually get more brave
by using ... whatever that is?"

Dr. Fleer chuckled. "It's a can
of mixed nuts, healthy ones, with
a zetetic coating that does enhance
bravery," she said. "The effects are
subtle, and you need some bravery of
your own to start with, but I love it. When
I'm cramming for a major exam, then
I buy this stuff in the industrial can."

That one was so big it had a handle like
a paint can and cost over a hundred bucks.

"Wow," Olivia said, watching Dr. Fleer
put the quart-sized can on the counter.

"You can try some and see if you
like them," Dr. Fleer said.

Then Olivia noticed the certificates and
a sign for the Vow of Heroism.
"Pushy," she grumbled.

"Those are optional,"
said Dr. Fleer. "The store
serves more than superheroes,
despite the name out front."

"Yes, we do," the shopkeeper said.

Then the door opened, and
Serra's sweet look turned sour.
"You are late," she said, "again."

Olivia turned to see a handsome man
in a blue shirt, black pants, and a red cape.

"Sorry, superhero stuff," he said.

"I don't want you to be sorry,
Hubbub, I want you to be on time,"
said Serra. "Go upstairs, you can
shower in my apartment, and tell
Hannes that he can come down
to relieve me now you're here."

Hubbub gave an unrepentant wave
and headed toward the back.

"Please excuse the interruption,"
Serra said as she resumed
adding up their purchases.

"No problem," said Dr. Fleer,
"although it looks as if
you may have one."

"I know," Serra said with
a sigh. "He's charming and
smart, he's handsome, he
always puts other people first.
And that's the problem."

"Honey, if he doesn't know how
to balance his cape time and
his personal time, let him go,"
Dr. Fleer advised. "He may be
a hero, but he's not your hero."

Serra totaled their order and
then said, "Thanks. I never
thought of it like that before,
but you may have a point."

"It's all about enumerating priorities,"
Dr. Fleer said. "What you do about this
is up to you, but think about your goals
for a relationship and how those fit
with what you're seeing of his."

They picked up their bags
and headed to the bus stop.

"That sounded like smart advice,"
Olivia said as they sat on the bench.

"Personal experience," said Dr. Fleer.
"Back in college I had a boyfriend like that --
not a superhero, a premed student. He kept
putting the hospital first and our relationship
last, so eventually I moved on. I wanted
a man who'd put me first, and I found one."

"I like Mr. Fleer," said Olivia. "He doesn't
think that I'm weird or bossy or whatever."

"There is nothing wrong with you,"
Dr. Fleer said firmly. "Why don't you
take out your tablet computer, and
we can noodle around some ideas
for expanding the playset in the yard."

Olivia took out her tablet and
balanced it on her knees. Then she
leaned over and shyly hugged Dr. Fleer.
"You're a good mom," the girl said,
"even if you're not my first mom."

* * *


(Character introduced by Dialecticdreamer.)
The Numerator (Olivia Moore) -- She has toffee skin and black eyes. Her hair is dark brown with golden highlights, a mass of spiral curls that falls to her shoulders. She has a slightly triangular face and a high forehead. She is nine years old and full of mischief.
Olivia's mother is Dr. Melissa Andersen Moore, who teaches graduate-level economics at Northwestern University, a prestigious private college. Melissa is convinced she's better-equipped to understand her daughter's long-term needs than some under-educated worksheet-pusher with a second rate degree and a "teaching credential" barely more useful than a Red Cross babysitting certificate. Olivia's father is Edward “Ned” Moore, a stock analyst putting in long hours at work, then taking the weekends for the trappings of success. His latest attempt at "father-daughter bonding time" was playing golf. (Olivia is currently analyzing which of his set of custom-made clubs is most expensive, and plans to use it as the activating lever in a Rube Goldberg device.)
Her parents have been married fifteen years, and live a 'comfortably wealthy' lifestyle without the flash of wild parties or the self-destructiveness of drug/alcohol problems. They think the best way for their daughter to be a well-adjusted adult is to keep her with her age-mates in a good-quality public school in a suburb of Chicago. (Where she is bored out of her mind.) So far NOTHING has even gotten them to ground her.
Olivia is currently fostered with Dr. Carolina Fleer, who has moved several times for professional reasons and is now in Onion City installing their Fleer train. Olivia needs someone who can keep up with her mentally, provide suitable academic challenges, and help her learn social skills.
Origin: Her mother had an unremarkable pregnancy, ending her six-week maternity leave from teaching at the university with a cheerful wave to the au pair they'd chosen months in advance. Because breast milk is supposed to be superior, she made time between lectures to express and freeze milk for baby Olivia. How was she supposed to know that someone hadn't installed the high-energy particle baffling between the third floor lab ceiling and the barely-used fourth floor staff ladies' room?
Uniform: The Numerator has been working on a child's motorcycle helmet with tinted visor, creating a HUD she plans to use as a computer display, among other things, including housing a sensor array and recording devices so she can review the next “experiment” many, many times. At Brooklyn Superhero Supply Shop, she picked out a new outfit: orange t-shirt with three red gears on the front, orange shorts, red dexflan tights, red capery cape, gold mask glasses with polarized lenses, gold krevel gloves, gold krevel utility belt, and gold dexflan boots with krevel soles. Off duty, Olivia wears typical street clothing of good quality. She does not wear jeans or skirts, always dressy slacks and low-heeled ankle boots. (Which hide her one childish indulgence-- flowered ancle or cuff socks, often worn deliberately mismatched.)
Qualities: Expert (+4) Math, Good (+2) Class Clown, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Maguire Things
Poor (-2) Desperate for Attention
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Gizmology, Average (0) Super-Intellect
(Average Weather-Sense will grow in later.)
Signature Stunts: whatever she builds, there is always some OBVIOUS element which not only proves that she is responsible, but requires destroying one of her parents' possessions to use a component.
Limitation: Her Super-Gizmology exceeds her Super-Intelligence, so the Numerator tends to "overdrive her headlights" and make things that don't work perfectly, or work but she's not sure why.
Motivation: "Mom, I'm bored. Mom? I'm booooooored. Are you listening to me? Okay, fine. I'll go find something to do."

In Terramagne slang, "Maguire things" is their equivalent of "MacGyver things."  Instead of a TV show, they had Maguire, an Irish super-gizmologist known for building things out of scrap because he didn't want to buy them or couldn't easily find what he needed. In essence, it's similar to Jerryrigger's ability to make something out of anything. So "Maguire something" is valid, but so is the generic "jerryrig" or "jury-rig."

Dr. Carolina Fleer -- She has fair skin, gray eyes, and long slightly wavy brown hair. She is tall and strong, with a rectangular face. She is married with a daughter (13) and a son (11). She is also fostering Olivia Moore, the Numerator. Carolina collects antique models of trains, airplanes, and other machines. She also enjoys spending time with other women in STEMZ fields.
Unlike most Super-Gizmologists, she wants people to replicate her work, but they just don't understand how. Her main project at present is production of Fleer trains, which are gravitoelectromagnetic trains with a top speed around 600 mph. The GEM engine is what distinguishes this super-gizmo from ordinary maglev trains, making them faster and more stable. The first Fleer was the High Line connecting the five boroughs of New York, and later extended to nearby parts of Eastbord. Another line runs in Westbord. The third is currently under construction in Onion City. The bottleneck is that Carolina has to build every engine herself, and repair them if they break. She is offering a six-month paid internship to any qualified Super-Gizmologist or Super-Intellect who thinks they can figure out how to replicate her work, making Fleer Industries a magnet for recent graduates.
Origin: Her powers grew in gradually, and she showed an interest in STEMZ from a young age. Her mother (a mathematician) and her father (an architect) both supported her interests.
Uniform: Blue-collar work clothes on the street, lab clothes in the lab. Often she wears men's clothes because of how well they fit her tall, straight frame; but when people get snotty about her gender, sometimes she wears a shirt with a pink collar just to rub their noses in the fact that she is smart, female, and builds shit that nobody else can understand.
Qualities: Master (+6) Engineer, Good (+2) Antique Model Collector, Good (+2) Hot Pepper Breeder, Good (+2) Networking with STEMZ Women
Poor (-2) Tolerating Sexism
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Gizmology, Expert (+4) Super-Intelligence
Motivation: SOMEBODY is damn well going to learn how to do this.

Serra Castell -- She has tawny-fair skin, brown eyes, and very dark straight brown hair cut short. Her heritage includes Italian, Portuguese, and Catalan. She works at the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Shop in the New York suburb of Eastbord, where she meets superheroes (and a few supervillains) from all over. Regrettably one of those is her boyfriend, who has the common superhero problem of a lousy love life because he keeps dashing away to do super things instead of nourishing his relationship. Serra lives in the second-floor apartment above the store, which she shares with other employees, a married couple and a single man. The manager has the third-floor apartment with his family.
Origin: She gained Super-Immunity from the Aegis vaccine base. She is actually one of the people who got her superpowers at the shop, which offers a dozen or so Aegis vaccines so people can try their luck, and after her manifestation they offered her a job there.
Uniform: Street clothes, often with a whimsical mood.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Alertness, Good (+2) Believing in People, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Shopkeeper
Poor (-2) Bad Boyfriend
Powers: Average (0) Super-Immunity
Motivation: To supply the superhero community with the tools to do their job right.

Hubbub (Remington Rolfe) -- He has pale skin, brown eyes, and short black hair. He is originally from Richmond, Virginia but currently lives in New York. Hubbub makes the classic superhero mistake of shortchanging his relationships to run off and do super things, so his personal life sucks. Disaster response includes such skills as crowd control, first aid, water rescue, and storm cleanup. He also does a lot of crimefighting, but his skill there is only average and he focuses on stopping crimes in progress rather than solving them after the fact or hunting down supervillains to prevent future crimes.
Origin: Remington started working as a lifeguard at 16. A few years later, he got caught in a major boating accident while trying to rescue a drunken captain. Remington was surprisingly unscathed, and discovered to have superpowers.
Uniform: On duty, Hubbub wears a blue dexflan shirt, red capery cape, and black capery pants tucked into black krevel boots. Off duty, he wears nice men's clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Altruist, Good (+2) Charming, Good (+2) Disaster Response, Good (+2) Quick Thinker, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Relationships
Powers: Good (+2) Sonic Powers, Good (+2) Tough
Motivation: To save the day.

Calidity (Finbar O'Boyle) -- He has fair hair and blue eyes. His auburn hair is buzzed short and receding from the edges of his forehead. He lives in Eastbord. After getting his superpowers, Finbar tried to become a firefighter, but the scars limit his motion, and his superpowers make some people uncomfortable. So he became a volunteer firefighter instead, working for rural communities in upstate New York that would otherwise be underserved. He has worked in the counties of St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, and Oneida. Currently he's serving in Hamilton. Calidity often shops at the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Shop.
Origin: A batch of sunscreen with zetetic contaminants left many people with skin damage, and a few with superpowers. Finbar got the superpowers, but he also has pretty bad scars over much of his back which limit his flexibility. As a redhead, his favorite superpower is that he doesn't sunburn anymore!
Uniform: Calidity wears a red domino mask, a red plaid shirt, khaki pants, and red boots.
Qualities: Good (+2) Beach Cook, Good (+2) Volunteer Firefighter
Poor (-2) Flexibility
Powers: Good (+2) Heat Powers, Average (0) Radiation Resistance
Motivation: To put out the fires.

Car Kid (Ferris Fitzpatrick)
-- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short messy hair of light brown. He wears glasses. He is currently six years old. His family lives in Eastbord in the suburb of Trenton, New Jersey; his father is a mechanic and his mother is a physicist. Ferris takes after both of them. He loves cars and is already a surprisingly good mechanic. As with many gifted students, however, his development is erratic. His body isn't growing up any faster, so the immature dexterity frustrates him. His social skills aren't developing nearly as fast as his mental ones, but many people expect him to be good at everything just because he's a genius.
Origin: He was born with his superpowers, as two very smart parents with latent potential combined to make a super-smart kid.
Uniform: Red shirt with a black car on the front, brown pants, and a yellow cape.
Qualities: Good (+2) Car Fan, Good (+2) Gizmology, Good (+2) Playful
Poor (-2) Erratic Development
Powers: Average (0) Super-Intellect
Motivation: To learn more about how things work.

* * *

The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Shop appears in local-America as a hobby shop and tutoring center. In Terramagne-America it's a more robust storefront of materials useful in cape work.

This is the second floor apartment above the store. Serra lives here with other employees. The married couple have the master suite, Serra has Bedroom #3, and the single man has Bedroom #2. The office is auxiliary business space for the store, because the downstairs office focuses on customer service. The central staircase goes down to the store.

This is the third floor apartment above the store. The manager shares Bedroom 1 with his wife, and their son has Bedroom 2.

The office
faces into the store.

A bulletin board holds flyers for sidekick placement services, the invisible man, the radioactive dog, and One Man Demolition. Superhero stickers can be printed with any name on them. Supernaries have bulletin boards for Character Is Our Superpower and Reading Is My Superpower.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply stocks a wide variety of unusual materials. Some are low-level zetetics or things that have subsequently been mass-produced. Others are more advanced and expensive. You can find things such as magnetism in a can, isolation trash bags, and lead-lined paper bags.

Mer Systems is a company that makes all kinds of aquatic equipment. AquaSilk is a material spun by genetically engineered spiders which pulls air out of water. It is used in soft wraparound face masks, medium-weight hoods, and also as filters for semirigid face masks in diving gear. There are monofins for children and adults. Here are some instructions for swimming with a monofin. Full-sleeve mermaid tails are both functional and beautiful. Webbed gloves also assist in swimming. P-hand, with the letter P inside an outline of a hand, marks products as prosthetic grade. This distinguishes them from similar items meant as toys or costume props.

The Astounding Cape Tester includes a bank of fans in the Outfitting & Capery area. Capes come in many sizes and styles, for adults and children, vrip band or drawstring closure, lined or unlined, plain or with symbols, etc. A clever feature of Brooklyn Superhero Supply is their mix-and-match approach to costume design which offers many colors, material, and symbols that combine well into distinctive outfits. (Fashion sense not included.) See Car Kid testing a cape.

The Numerator's new outfit includes an orange t-shirt with red gears, orange shorts, red tights from Mt. Fortress, gold fingerless gloves, a gold utility belt, and gold mask glasses with polarized lenses.

The telephone booth and changing room are the same place.

The store sells ropes, grappling hooks, and other climbing gear. Arachne, also called "rack line," is a resilient rope that distributes force along its length during a fall while minimizing the elongation. It's made from a combination of gengineered spidersilk and synthetic fibers. A typical 3/8" safety line can take a falling weight up to about 500 pounds without breaking or causing severe injury, while remaining lighter and stronger than the 7/16" minimum that our world hasn't quite reached yet but set as a foreseeable minimum standard.

Calidity enters the security room
and reads the monitors. Here's another view of the monitors.

Salted Bravery is one of the store's many enhancement products. They're the superhero equivalent of the performance snacks so popular with athletes. This one consists of healthy nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia nuts) with sea salt and a zetetic enhancer.

See the Vow of Heroism and the Certificate of Superheroism.

Foster care takes over when parents can't or won't care for their own children. I couldn't find any references for no-fault care in local-America (e.g. good parents who don't have the skills to care for a special needs child, or when a single parent gets sick) but it's more common in Terramagne-America, especially for superkids. Locally, outcomes of foster care are consistently terrible, especially compared to children remaining at home even in lousy families. The only thing L-American foster care routinely outperforms is death. There are ways to improve this, and those match how T-American foster care works, in terms of providing much better family support. Here is a guide to surviving foster care for children.

HAMshack is a Terramagne-American version of the old amateur electronics stores such as Radio Shack. It does not sell finished products, only components and kits for amateur radio and other electronics. It is very popular; most towns have at least one. The selection varies widely based on local needs and interests. Some have fairly simple materials, while others range up into gizmotronic gear.

Self-discipline includes life skills such as motivation, encouragement, and reward. Modeling good behavior helps children learn it, and intrinsic motivations work much better than extrinsic ones. In this case "be patient and then we'll do something fun" is extrinsic, but the type of reward -- visiting a gizmo store -- is well matched to Olivia's intrinsic interests even though it takes her a few minutes to realize that.

Level 6 is typical of children ages 9-11, and reflects basic front and back swimming with several different strokes up to 25 yards, along with some other skills. Level 7 adds some new maneuvers and extends the length. While many pools allow children to advance at the rate of their learning potential, it's not rare to have minimum ages, which is a problem for gifted children or natural athletes.

Basic Water Safety covers prevention, recognition, and response for common aquatic emergencies. The junior lifeguard course is aimed at ages 11-14 who want to work in water safety and it includes leadership, teamwork, advanced swimming skills, and an introduction to first responder water rescue. Intro to Scuba is for ages 10+ in a heated pool, learning to use borrowed scuba gear. Open Water Dive is the serious scuba diving class, available 10+ in both pool and open water conditions. Mer Systems rates their gear based on its complexity and intended use, from novice to expert swimmers.

The climbing frame in Carolina Fleer's yard has been expanding from one to two and now three towers. It has a suspension bridge, monkey bars, cargo net, rope bridge, climbing rope, climbing wall, swing, and fireman's pole. It's inspired by this structure.

Tesla Tots is a branch of the Tesla car company which makes a variety ordinary toys and models relating to (mostly electric) cars. They also have a series of Junior Gizmology kits in several levels of complexity which are customarily released only to Tesla customers, museum gift shops, science supply houses, and SPOON-related stores.

Attachment is the basis of human relationships, which results from the bonding process. Attachment and bonding are crucial parts of child development. These connections can have healthy or unhealthy patterns. People from healthy families have an easier time forming new relationships. This is especially important in making foster care a success, so foster parents need to understand how to bond with a foster child. T-America particularly views no-fault fostering as an expansion, rather than a replacement, of the birth family.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, science, weblit, writing
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