Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "On This Amazing Journey"

This poem came out of the August 7, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] siliconshaman, Willow, and [personal profile] mama_kestrel. It also fills the "modern wilderness" square in my 8-7-18 card for the Fairy Tales Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains bigots and their rude behavior.

"On This Amazing Journey"

Quanisha Brown served in the Army
as an accomplished mechanic until
a land mine cost her all four limbs,
both eyes, and hearing in her left ear.

It would have cost her life as well, but
a punch team delivering someone else
to the mobile hospital intervened. Realizing
that conventional medicine probably couldn't
save her, they handed her off to Kraken.

The supervillains had access to better tech,
and they used it to good advantage.

When she woke up, Quanisha listened with
her one good ear to the list of options,
and decided to become a cyborg.

They gave her four prosthetic limbs,
all with Super-Strength and Toughness,
carefully explaining the limitations of
metal anchored to mortal flesh.

Each one had its own array of
weapons and other interesting gizmos.

They replaced her eyes with cameras
that could see infrared and ultraviolet,
with microscopic and telescopic lenses,
all hooked directly into her brain.

It was like watching television
all the time, but after some practice,
Quanisha decided that she liked it
better than the original after all.

Her new ear came with Super-Hearing
and also the ability to pick up all kinds
of different communication signals.

After growing up in a big family
down in Easy City, sorting out
multiple channels was simple.

She took the cape name Technisha.

It was still hard to cope with everything
that had happened to her, though.

She had lost a lot in life --
her old neighborhood in a storm,
various relatives due to old age,
army buddies in combat.

About half of her own body.

She had PTSD along with
alternating bouts of anxiety
and depression to boot.

That didn't stop her from
becoming a mercenary.

Technisha worked for Kraken
now and then, although she
wouldn't take any contracts
that were really illegal.

She worked for SPOON
sometimes, too, and on
one memorable occasion,
for both at the same time.

There was a big demonstration
in a state park, staged in front of
the picturesque pine forest, with
forks waving protest signs.

Shit. You'd think they hadn't
noticed what happened
over in Rabid City.

So there was Technisha
keeping an eye on all that
just in case it went sideways.

"The fuck they usin' for brains?"
a ranger said in horror.

Technisha scanned
the crowd of protesters
and realized that they
were lighting torches.

In a pine forest.

In summer.

"Looks like nothin'
to me," Technisha said.

"Get on that," the ranger said,
hastily waving her forward.

But it was too late.

Other rangers had already
started yelling at the bigots,
causing them to drop the torches
into a layer of pine needles
thick with years of pitch.

It caught fire at once.

Fortunately Technisha had
a fire extinguisher function in
her left arm, but its supply
was limited in size.

She used it to keep
the flames from cutting off
access to the escape route.

Most of the people did not
hesitate to run for their lives.

A couple were still arguing,
though, so Technisha grabbed
the nearest one and then ran
toward the shrinking gap.

"Put me down, you cripple bitch!"
the man yelled, swatting her back.

Oh, she was tempted to do it.

"Shut up, you dumbass,"
Technisha snapped. "You wanna
burn up in an actual fire, instead
of waitin' to go to Hell?"

He must've looked at
the flames behind them,
now roaring tall as the trees,
because he squeaked "No!"
and stopped squirming.

He was still stunned when
Technisha dumped his ass
at the ranger station for
the cops to deal with and
went to talk to the firefighters.

"I have a built-in extinguisher
if you can recharge it," she said.

"You sure you can handle this?"
a fireman said, raising his eyebrows.
"No offense, but you look like you
been through Hell already."

Technisha shrugged. "I have
four prosthetic limbs and other bits.
This is my life; what shall I do with it?
It's put me on this amazing journey.
I can look back and say I would
never want to change anything."

"In that case, we can sure use you,"
the fireman said. "Here's the nozzle
for recharging small extinguishers.
We only stock a few of those, but
with a fire right in the core facilities,
we need that level of detail."

So Technisha recharged
her fire extinguisher and
grabbed herself a shovel.

"You'll need an axe too,"
someone suggested.

"Got it," Technisha said,
shrugging her right shoulder
to deploy her army axe.

"Well aren't you just
a Swiss Army soup!"
the fireman laughed.

"Nope," Technisha said.
"American Army, retired."

It had been very nice of
the supervillains to fix that
after her rescuers snatched her
out of the mobile hospital.

Then someone showed up
with a map of the park facilities,
already marked to indicate
the most vulnerable areas.

Technisha joined a team
and headed off to protect
the endangered species lab.

It was an amazing journey.

* * *


Technisha (Quanisha Brown) -- She has chocolate skin, black eyes, and long shaggy black hair. She grew up in Easy City and learned to follow many conversations at the same time. An army veteran, Quanisha lost all four limbs, vision, and half of her hearing in combat. These were later replaced with sophisticated prosthetic gear. Traumatic stress has left her with PTSD and alternating bouts of anxiety or depression. However, that hasn't stopped her from becoming an accomplished mercenary.
Origin: Wounded in battle by a land mine, she lost all four limbs, both eyes, and the earing in her left ear. The punch team of Buraq, Rampart, and Patches was in the mobile hospital delivering someone else, and decided to abscond with Quanisha because she was probably too injured for conventional methods to save. So they handed her off to Kraken, who not only saved her life but offered her cybernetic upgrades.
Uniform: Technisha favors military-inspired clothes and values practicality over appearance.
Qualities: Good (+2) Army Veteran, Good (+2) Black History, Good (+2) Gumbo Ya-Ya, Good (+2) Mechanical Intelligence, Good (+2) Mercenary
Poor (-2) Traumatic Stress
Powers: Good (+2) Cyborg
Her limbs have Super-Strength and Toughness in the artificial parts, although Technisha can't do some of the things that most strongwomen can because the rest of her is still flesh. Her eyes have Enhanced Vision including infrared, ultraviolet, microscopic, and telescopic sight. She has Super-Hearing on the left side and can connect with communication channels. Her experience in deciphering many conversations at once from growing up in Easy City gives her the ability to track multiple channels at the same time.
Motivation: To keep going.

Woody Deen -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and ash-brown hair cut short. He is getting pudgy. Woody dislikes blacks, soups, people with disabilities, poor people, and women about equally. But being gay himself, he's okay with that one. It can complicate his relationship with bigoted friends, so he tries to hide it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Construction Worker, Good (+2) Drinking Buddies, Good (+2) Hunter
Poor (-2) Bigot

* * *

I have two prosthetic legs. This is my life; what am I going to do with it? And it's put me on this amazing journey. I can look back and be completely grateful and say I would never want to change anything.
-- Amy Purdy

Land mines cause amputations among their signature injuries. More soldiers now survive extreme injuries, leading to higher rates of amputees, who may have trouble at home.

Cyborgs are people with electronic parts. They exist in our world, and have become common; most simply don't call themselves cyborgs.

Trauma can lead to traumatic stress, including chronic conditions such as PTSD. Know how to help someone with traumatic stress. Here are some techniques for healing PTSD.

Fire ecology is the study of how flames affect natural habitats. Because pine forests in the north and the south have evolved with fire, they are quite prone to spreading it. Parks customarily monitor and announce the current level of fire risk, but that doesn't mean everyone pays attention. As a general rule, unless it is currently raining, don't wave fire around a pine forest. They are extremely flammable.
Tags: activism, cyberfunded creativity, environment, fantasy, fishbowl, nature, poem, poetry, politics, reading, weblit, writing

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