15552/Central park: A Ninja Bear theme

From United Heroes MUSH
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Central park: A Ninja Bear theme
Date of Scene: 02 September 2023
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Synopsis: Supervillain trauma is so yesterday. Fruit pelting, who even does that any more?
Cast of Characters: Spider-Woman (Drew), Askante

Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
It's nearing sunset on what's been a lovely, warm evening in New York. Naturally, it's drawn a lot of crowds of people who are only just beginning to disperse off to evening meals as the warmth bleeds out of the air.

In among the crowds -- more accurately, being /avoided/ by the crowds -- is one Jessica Drew. She's dressed in jeans and what used to be a white t-shirt proclaiming: JUST DON'T, which seems aptly topical, given what is going on with her. She looks like she either fell into a berry bush, had fruit pelted at her, or possibly some combination thereof, her t-shirt, face, and hair stained with a mix of red and blue fruit-ish substances.

All in all, it's not been a great day for Jessica, and the day isn't over, because her appearance isn't the only thing making people give her a wide berth.

It's the pigeons.

Apparently they have decided that whatever Jessica is covered in is the BEST FOOD EVER, and they're flocking down to peck at her, making her wave her arms wildly, which -- in fairness -- only contributes to the sense that that brunette woman is a tad bit unhinged. Even if it weren't for her loud declaration: "No! I am done! That is the last time I am saving the day from the Fruit Man, or Berry Boy, or whatever the heck his name was. G'way!"
Askante has posed:
It is a sight to be seen. Then again, so are the crowds. The creature does tend to enjoy crowd watching, when it's safe to simply exist in the world. It was doing that most of the day, lying on a branch in one of the trees, watching the world go by beneath it. Here, a grandmother with her grandkids, spoiling them rotten. There a businessman enjoying the warmth, his top buttons on his dress shirt undone, for a moment a million miles away from corporate life. There, some college students playing frisbee in the september glow...

And later, the lovers holding hands. The sweet caress of twilight bringing forth the weary, the excited and the transition from day to night people.

It was stirring from its position about then, dropping from branch to lower branch, then forward tumbling to land in a crouch on the grass by the path, when in the descent it spotted the world weary fruit roll-up who seems to have become a magnet for the squab.

Puzzled, it watches a few moments, seeing how everyone is avoiding her and moves to the edge of the path, in her line of stompage. It seems to be rummaging in its pockets now, hunting for something.

THis one? No, not this one. There? Nope. Inside? Fiddle-fiddle... AHA! A rag is pulled out in one hand, looking covered in coaldust and stained in sweat. And from another pocket, an amazingly ordinary water bottle. Looks like it's been refilled a bunch of times though, recycled from a trashbin like as not.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Given the descending darkness, it's a safe bet the pigeons peeling away from Jessica aren't doing so because her frenetic waving is in any way succeeding -- more that they don't tend to fly at night. Several settle into trees nearby, as if hoping to keep an eye on their dinner-slash-walking snack.

Jessica's pausing to glare up at the nearest tree full of watching pigeons. "I see you watching me," she scowls, which has even less effect than the arm-waving. It's as she's looking back down that she notices the figure moving to the edge of the path, and she stops, frowning. It's a bear... but it's not. And it makes her head hurt.

Her eyes narrow. Her hands settle on her hips. "I know you're not /actually/ a bear, you're just masquerading as one, and I'm very disappointed in you." Jessica's Disappointed Face is pretty decent -- she's spent a lot of time being looked at like that by Steve Rogers, so she knows exactly how to pitch it.

"I also totally know you're a Hydra spy, by the way," she adds, super casually. Of course, she doesn't know that at all, but it's a stab in the dark she makes because sometimes just the casual off-guarded accusation really /does/ catch a Hydra spy or two.
Askante has posed:
"I'm a what now? A hydra spy? Why would it need a spy, it's dead. Except for that one bit, which a wizard has now, because they found the rock it was buried under. You should ask Heracles, he knows." Askante replies, tilting its head like a gecko evaluating its periphery vision - there's just too many scales for that to be birdlike. Three of the hands gesture at her, the one with the water bottle still saving for the finger and thumb which are working at unscrewing the top. "That look would work better if you didn't look like you do at the moment." This is noted in a mild, melodious tone, albeit with a soft and voiceless chuckle.

The hand with the rag is brought to bear on the water bottle and is thoroughly dampened. "Here. Clean yourself up. Trust me, this will work wonders."

Cue: Drippy filth rag being extended like it was a spa treatment from heaven. Just, what? Seriously. What?!

"You know, I have nothing to do with how -you- see me. That's all you. You might want to ask your brain why it thinks I'm a bear that talks and fights. It might have some 'splainin' to do, Lucy."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Jessica looks confused. More so than usual. It's not the kind of reaction she normally gets to that accusation. Then again, it's fair to say she normally doesn't go around accusing form-changing? shape-changing? illusionist? creatures regularly, either.

"I've had a really bad day, ninja bear," she sighs. "Can we just pretend like you're still the bear?" it's a request, because she doesn't yet know what she sees is in the eye of the beholder. "I promise I won't even ask you to dance or anything. Even though that would cheer me up like, a lot."

The water bottle is eyed without alarm, but it's the greasy, definitely dirty looking rag that's getting the most side-eye from Jess. "I don't think that's going to help." She looks at the offering like he's offering her a live snake or something.


Jess doesn't even pretend to reach for it out of politeness' sake. She does frown when Askante explains what's going on with its appearance. Sort, of anyway. "Oh." A beat, as she considers. "I can ask my therapist about that, but I imagine childhood trauma, displacement, etcetera. I really like the English accent. It reminds me of my parents. And there was this advertisement that... the bear was cool, okay?"
Askante has posed:
"Really?" Askante looks at the rag, lifting it up and looking it over like IT sees nothing wrong. "It always works though. It belonged to Charming Pete, a Miner 49er who was quite a ladies man. He bequeathed this to me when he died, kind of as a thank you, I suppose. I saved his life and the life of his gang, back in eighteen forty nine. He was lucky too, struck enough gold in californian hills to move to San Francisco. Married. Had a load of fat little kids who had a few of their own... sadly, his house isn't there any more, after the quakes."

Askante shrugs, gestures with it again. "You sure? Yu ought to try it. You might be surprised. On your hands at least." Small steps.

Askante, it might be noted, isn't like anyone else. "By the by, I actually do have a name, we never did get to introduce that. You were very... insistant on your vision at the time. My name is Askante." It bows in a flourish. Well most of it does. Not the arm that was extended, it manages to sort of roll around that, as it drips on the pathway. "Would you like a Hope feather? She's shedding. That might make you cheer up a bit."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"Some old miner gave that to you as a present for saving his life?" Jessica looks entirely dubious as Askante recounts the history of what, at least to her eyes, is a very dirty rag even she would have trouble justifying touching. "I would tell you to go back and ask for a new present, but I guess he's super-dead. If Tony ever invents time travel though I'll let you know."

Despite assurances, Jessica remains unconvinced. "I have a hot bath and hopefully emergency toasties waiting at home. I will pass on your dirty miner rag... but thank you."

Can't hurt to be polite, just in case.

"Askante?" Jessica echoes it. "Huh. Not really a bear name, I guess. I'm Jess." She looks momentarily nonplussed by the bow, being that it's exceptionally formal, and her lame wiggle of fingers kind of feels inadequate compared to it. She's quickly distracted from that by the follow up. "Hope feather? Like... literal hope? I mean... that sounds, well, my therapist is always saying I need more help. I mean, hope." Could've been a Freudian slip, might not have been.
Askante has posed:
Askante shrugs, wrings the rag and uses it on the sleeves of its duster and on the leather it can reach. Though that coat is old and probably looks strange on the bear she thinks it is, the leather actually polishes up looking like it's had a coat of polish and spit, so to speak. The rag of course, looks dirtier, but all the dirt is in the rag. Not on the coat. It slips that back into one of the inside pockets, grins at her and flourishes after a dramatically soft "drumroll please..." -- "Tadaa!" it looks like a very slender white kiwi feather, all floof and no lift. It's held out, whispy and delicate as it is. And it's white as snow, yet somehow seems to have a little ray of sunshine trapped in it. It's a very mild effect, but holding it? One does actually feel a little more hopeful for a better future, even if that's you know... a very imminent thing.

It relinquishes the little gift. "I shouldn't call her Hope any more, she wants to go by Esperanza. I think that's just semantics, but I'm not going to argue with her." It steps back afterwards, tucking its hands into its pockets. All of them.

"A pleasure it is, to meet you properly Jess. I am very curious why you're covered in fruit juice though."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
One might think Jessica, having been an Avenger for years, would be used to weird shit. And she is, sort of. But most of it she only somewhat remembers, and she's only human -- things still surprise her. Her mouth actually opens a little, baffled and bemused by the state of his coat and the extra dirtiness of the rag. Still, she doesn't look like she wants to touch the thing still.

Maybe even less than before.

"...fresh out of drums," Jessica's saying, but Askante is continuing anyway, and she peers at the feather. It looks just like a feather. She looks even more dubious, but she's less loathe to take it, at least. Once she clasps it, there's a subtle, but noticeable change in her appearance. More like less of a default gloom that seems to linger around her. "Huh," she says, as she processes.

She feels... something. Of course there's a level of skepticism, but since it's a lot less gross than a dirty rag, she just kind of tucks the feather behind her ear. "Thanks," Jessica says, actually smiling at the bear as it puts all of its sets of hands into its pockets.

...yeah, not a bear anymore. There's just a little frown of disappointment, gone almost immediately.

"...would you believe it if I said there was an evil supervillain who likes to express his displeasure with throwing fruit?" she's hopeful Askante will buy very unlikely and dubious story. Thanks, hopeful feather!
Askante has posed:
"I would believe it, but I would be quite surprised. Most throw things rather more diabolical than fruit, that seems rather more like a stockade punishment. Still, if I've learned anything, it's that it takes all sorts to make the world turn." And because it seems to have realized that it's looming, it hunkers down onto its haunches, bringing it down to a far less beanpole height of about four foot, tail spread on the grass behind it, like a balance strut.

There is a sigh though. "You seem rather disappointed in something when you look at me. That makes me a little sad, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised -- I never usually know what it is people see, but you, it seems, find comfort in what you saw. Or at least entertainment. I suspect when you finally let yourself see me, you might be facing a different conundrum."

It pauses. "You're a special person. I saw how you coped with things that should not have been normalized... Are you a demigoddess?" it asks this with a genuine tone.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"Yeah, well, Fruit-Face was being a Ding-Head and was just trying to distract me while he got away." Which, judging by the faint sigh, actually worked. In fairness, Jessica is somewhat readily distracted. Being pelted by fruit sure would do it. "Anyway, I'll take fruit over bombs. That's what landed me in the pond last time," she jerks a thumb towards the water, "I very much do not recommend that. Zero-out-of-ten experience."

Here Jessica is, wallowing in the disappointment of not-a-real-bear, when Askante has to go and ruin it all with real talk. Her mouth opens and closes again, and then she squints. "That's... you know, unsettlingly profound. Do you have a side job as a therapist? If not, you should consider it. You sound like mine. Just need to practice the finger-steepling and you'll be perfect."

Her brows go upwards when Askante talks of her being special. She tenses, braces herself. Here we go, the true motive-

-Jessica blinks, then cough-laughs at the question. "Oh, man. No. I wish! I was blasted with the DNA of a deadly spider of Wundergore when I was still in my mother's stomach. So half-spider, I guess? And a blend of who-knows-what-else, because apparently my father liked to tinker and was never happy enough." She squints, visibly curiously, at Askante. "And you?"
Askante has posed:
"Earth-bound spirit -- I'm one of the Incarnates. The greeks called us Daemon. The christians stole that word and made it bad. I am the Daemon of Fear. There's... not many of us left." Askante replies, with a blink of nictating membranes. "You certainly seem like a demigoddess... that story has all the makings of it." It does the headtilt thing again, with a soft rustle of its spines. "Europa and Zeus--" it pauses a moment "--Maui. The curse of the brolga giving Crow's daughter the power to sing any song and speak nothing..." it presses its lips together. "Maybe not being a demigod is better, you get to have cheese and get covered in fruit?" it pauses again.

"Actually, is that what they call it, when people talk and you help them feel better? A therapist? I suppose I am then. People talk to me when they cannot see me and it seems to help. I have a slot on a radio show."

Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Most of those terms don't mean anything to Jessica, judging by her blank expression. Demon of Fear -- that part she hears pretty clearly, though. "I... that's what you did to make the lizard freak out?" A beat. "Have you ever done that to me?" Weird, that she has to ask. Like she thinks she might not remember.

Jessica squints a little at the concept that her history has the makings of a greater story. "No, just turns out my father cared more about science than his daughter. He didn't actually care that I could shoot electricity or whatever, just that he was able to make me do it." It's such a fine distinction that few would understand, and yet it seems important for Jess to voice it.

"Wait, you're a radio show therapist? Wait, nooo." Jessica holds up a fruit-splattered hand. "Doctor Chillax? Mental Magician? Cognitive Wizard?" She might just know a few. "Or the one that just... yells a lot, what's his name?" She puffs out a breath. "This is doing my head in. How do I explain to my therapist my ninja bear friend is really a demon of fear who is also a radio therapist? He's totally not going to buy that."
Askante has posed:
"Erm. None of those mentioned? I get introduced as Ask Aske -- the nice people at the radio station thought it was catchy?" Askante replies, taking two hands out of its pockets with a length of string in one hand. It starts up cat's cradle, which it could totally cheat with, as it has the extra hands, but it doesn't. It does it with just the one pair. The others remain buried.

"I might suggest then, that a therapist does not need to know everything that belongs to you. Only that which you need to share. Such things can be drawn from a person, but the only way it will come is by your own volition..." it smiles at that. "If you wish your not-bear friend that has a radio show to just be your secret, keep that secret. Some give us comfort, remember."

It thinks though, as evident by the stillness that takes the rest of it, gazing at her steady, only blinking in fluttery bursts. "But yes. I did not realize at the time, that the idea was to sooth the monster, not drive it away. I have not given your fears a form, no. I don't do it when there is no reason --" it hesitates "--do you want to talk about it? You sound a lot like you have felt the mind-killer before."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"Yeah, I hate radio announcers, too." Which is totally not what Askante said, but what Jessica inferred of such a lame 'catch phrase'. She rattles out a sigh. "Apparently the only way I can make progress is not to withhold. Look, I really didn't think the fact that I was breaking a rib like ever other week was relevant. That's a physical thing, not a psychological thing, but apparently it's a sign of a deeper issue... you know, death-wish, lack of care, all that good stuff. Anyway, I already told him I met a friend who came and ate cheese toasties with me. He was very happy I made a friend."

A beat. "His words, not mine. I mean, we could be, I don't want to judge and-slash-or assume."

"Yeah, the lizard is... I guess a friend of Spider-Man? Only he's gone rogue, and whatnot. So he wants to capture, not harm him. So if you see him, just try and contain him, I guess?" She does look relieved by the fact that he hasn't fear-bombed her. "Probably for the best. I honestly don't know whether it would be father's experiments or terrorist training camp, and it's not really a thing I need to know about myself." She tugs a hand through her hair, grimacing as some of the strands are clearly stuck together with fruit mess. "Oh, like everyone's messed around in my head before. I really highly do not recommend it. Wanda's still trying to untangle like two years worth of memories. If she weren't as stubborn and determined a witch as I've ever seen, I'd just tell her to forget it. I like that she tries though. Apparently someone created some traps though, so it makes it tricky." She's pretty casual about all this. Just another day.

Much like days when she ends up covered in pond-gunk, or feathers, or in this case, fruit-splatter.
Askante has posed:
Askante listens carefully to all that. "How many times have you died so far?" it asks.

Yes, that's a really bloody strange thing to ask. But it does continue.

"If the answer is less than a thousand, you don't have a thing on me. Sometimes pain is how you know you're still alive. And being able to crack that rib, is how you know you have a purpose, other than the one that was -made- for you. I think your therapist is trying to help, but you tell him a truth and he isn't seeing further than his teachings." It shakes its head. "Sorry. I dislike when those that cannot do, challenge those that can... as if doing what matters is somehow wrong. Such a philosophy negates my entire purpose in creation." It shrugs both shoulders up.

"Duly noted on the lizard creature. Do you not make friends easily then?"
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Jessica opens her mouth to respond, but then Askante continues. "...yeah, you got me beat."

She's listening. It's hard to tell how much she takes in. "I don't know. I struggle with this hero thing. Somedays I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out for it. I feel good about it today though." Despite the fruit-setback, but that probably has a lot, well, everything, to do with that feather tucked behind her ear right now. "I wouldn't want to negate your existence, but I will say he mostly helps?"

Hopeful, that's the watchword.

"Uh, no." A snort from Jessica. "I'm sarcastic and bitter and suffering from PTSD which makes trust very difficult, and add to that the occasional slip with pheromones and that just makes things /super/ awkward and often difficult to get past." A beat. "So, yeah. Not so much. It's not /all/ bad though. I live rent-free in a billionare's mansion and I get emergency toasties." Upside!
Askante has posed:
"Ohhh. Now you have me beat. I live in a nest of boxes and blankets and salvaged furniture in a burned out church over the hellmouth. But I can buy whole hotdogs now and take friends to have meals in restaurants sometimes. And I'm going to get a proper safe for my trinkets and baubles." It grins at that. "Well, you're not a demi-goddess, so you must be young. Everything can be quite complicated for a long while when you're young. From what I have seen, sometimes people never work it all out. With age come grey hairs. Wisdom is optional.... so you do you. You seem pretty good at doing you, whatever you are, on any given day."

It grins. It's probably a good job she can't see the multiple rows of teeth. Yet. "And I shall say that I like you. So, you did make a friend."

It considers something said though. "Is there a word of description that helps define people that are not demi-goddesses, but were put on a journey before they were born and shaped by Pygmalion's cold hand? I am sure that there should be. I've been devouring books, now that I have deciphered how the language has changed over the years, but well, there's a lot of vocabulary to cover."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Well, yes. Jess sure does have him beat in terms of living situations, and she looks unsettled. "Do you need a place to stay? I have a place in Greenwich I don't really use because, you know, I'm larping on Tony's dime right now. It has a working shower and everything. You'll have to clean the hair out of the drain though."

It kind of feels weird for her to be called young, even though it's true. Still, she throws up her hands. "Oh, no. I'm actually /terrible/ at doing me. Like, have you seen me?" Jessica looks down at herself, covered in splotches of color. "Like, it's just a positive thing I even got out of bed this morning. It was an edge case for a long while there, I admit. The promise of omelette's tipped it over the like, thank you JARVIS."

A normal person would be unsettled by that smile. Even in bear-form it's kind of unsettling. But Jessica seems to take it for how it's intended, now what it looks like, even if it does make her a shade uneasy. "Well, good then. Friends don't fear-scare friends, right? Just making sure."

"Uh... yeah. Well, they call us metahuman. Super imaginative, but it does the job. No idea who Pygmalion is, but I'm pretty sure most of the time it's just pure greed or ambition, with high doses of narcissism that drive much of how and why we metahumans exist." That hope feather's struggling, for sure.
Askante has posed:
"Pygmalion was a sculptor that abhorred what he considered the depravity of the world around him, who shunned everything but his own creation and fell in love with the -creation- of a statue, but not a real being of flesh and blood, only the concept of his perfection and the power he had. The moral in that story is lost to many, as in the retelling, the goddess of love brought life to the lifeless and made flesh automaton. Complexity is lost." It apologizes, wrinkling its nose, then sighs. "Metahuman seems apt, if strange. Higher concept of humanity? Hrm." Pause.

"Seems like maybe... by your description... Pygmalion is apt." It looks up at her, then sort of around her midriff, then down at the cat's cradle in its grasp. The thread weaves, in and out, in different shapes, almost unceasing. Like a mnemonic device.

"I am fine. I do not have any need of an apartment. I never know when I will have to move to a different place, a different world sometimes, to do what I have to do. So I nest. It saves on real estate."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"Huh. Yeah. That sounds pretty apt. Pygmalion," Jessica repeats, like she's trying to remember. Chances are good she'll forget by the time she leaves the park, though. She's only a little weirded out by the way the ninja-bear is looking not-quite at her, or not at her face, anyway. Then again, she can't really be one to judge, given her own idiosyncrasies.

Jessica doesn't seem bothered by Askante's refusal of a place to stay. She's turned down better offers before. Even the mansion, years ago. Not so much now, admittedly. "Different worlds?" A beat. "You know what, put a pin in that thought. My head is itching and I hope it's from tomato juice and not like... lice or something. But I really need a bath."

Without a word, she turns and starts to walk down the path. She gets several steps before she seems to realize she should say something. Yeah, not so good at that being-a-friend-thing. "Um. I'll see you around, I guess?" A beat. "Well, you know where I live, anyway?" She doesn't offer a phone number. Not because she doesn't have one; she just doesn't think to do so. With a half wave, she heads on down the path, not, thankfully, stalked by pigeons this time.
Askante has posed:
Askante straightens as she turns to go. And the irony is, the lack of a number doesn't mean a thing to the daemon. It's lived since people huddled around fires in cave mouths, modern technology is still a work in progress. It might get the hang of a telegram, before it gets a handle of a cellphone. "I do."

And there will be a thing that should totally happen when there's a Tony Stark in situ, of a being that should not be capable of getting through and past all the security measures, walking straight in without a key, a passcard, or anything. Because that wouldn't in any way be hysterical and horrendous at the same time.

Imagining the conversation that occurs afterwards is alone, its own reward. But the editor should stop talking to the fourth wall!

"Be well, Spider-woman." The voice follows, but it is not loud. It doesn't have to be, does it? And if she turns, the creature is already gone. No bamff, no glittering lights. In the growing dark, all it needed to do was fold itself into shadow.