10 May 2013

Subject 13 #19 - The Third Degree

[Some adult content.]

Reporters milled around the small auditorium, trying to find the best spot to view the upcoming press conference and to upstage each other.  Camera crews from the three local television stations set up lights.  A woman dressed in a grey skirt suit appeared at the dais.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for your patience and thank you for coming out this afternoon," she said.  "For those of you who are new here, my name is Kathryn McCall, spokesperson for the American Eagle Foundation of Rochester."  She paused while photographers took pictures.  "American Eagle will be out shortly.  We will have transcripts available at the end of the press conference if you want one.  We will also have the official announcement then."

"Miss McCall," one reporter called.  "Can you tell us what Eagle's announcement will be?"

"I am not at liberty to say."

"Is Eagle retiring from being a super-hero?" another reporter asked.

"Again, I am not at liberty to say."  Kathryn glanced off-stage.  "Ladies and gentlemen, American Eagle."

Eagle strode out on stage, his cape billowing him behind him.  Cameras flashed as he shook Kathryn's hand before she stood aside.  Eagle turned to the reporters.  "Thanks for coming out," he said.  "I'm sure you have many questions.  I request that you hold on to them until after I'm finished.  By then, you should have all new questions to ask."  Polite laughter rippled through the throng of reporters.

"Thank you.  As you may know, I have been working by myself since Peregrine retired to pursue his own goals.  Crime, despite the falling rates, still occurs, and I'm finding myself spread thin.  Before you ask, no, I am not retiring.  Far from it.  Instead, allow me to introduce the new Peregrine!"


Nasty adjusted her costume yet again.  Why did I ever agree to this?  Look at this.  Blue with red stripes?  And this mask itches.

Anne stepped up in front of her.  "Ready?"

"Not really, no," Nasty said.  "Does this costume have to be so tight?"

"Having troubles breathing?  I'm sure we got your measurements correct."

"I can breathe.  Everyone can see me breathe.  That's the problem."

"I don't understand."

Nasty covered her breasts with her arms.  "I'm practically naked!"  Several people turned to look at her.  Nasty blushed.  "Damnit," she whispered.

"Don't worry about it, Peregrine," Anne said.  Think of it as another way to hide your identity.  No one is going to be looking at your face."

Nasty scowled.  "Great.  Just what I need, to be some perv's fantasy."

Anne wrapped an arm around Nasty's shoulder.  "You look fine, Peregrine.  Eagle's almost done with his intro.  You better get ready to go out there.  And remember, don't let the reporters draw you into any question that could reveal who you are."

"Trust me, I'll remember."

Kathryn dashed over to the women.  "Peregrine, you're on.  Let's go."  She lead Nasty towards the press conference.  "I hope you don't have stage fright," she whispered.

Nasty eyed Kathryn.  "I don't know.  I've never been on stage before," Nasty said through her clenched jaw.

"Relax.  Eagle will handle everything.  Now go."  Kathryn pushed Nasty on to the stage.

Lights flashed as photographers took pictures Nasty in her new costume.  Nasty blinked, trying to clear the spots from her eyes.

"Peregrine assisted me recently in stopping a robbery, and has kindly consented to help me keep the streets of Rochester safe," Eagle said.  "I am sure that not only will she uphold the name Peregrine, but will be able to enhance the name on her own."  He held his hand out to Nasty.  She walked over to join him, her cheeks starting to redden.  "I'm sure you're all full of questions.  I'll open the floor now."

"Eagle, what are Peregrine's powers?"

"Peregrine's abilities are confidential right now," Eagle said.  "Wouldn't want to give the villains a sneak preview of what's in store for them."

"Peregrine, how do you feel about the history of being Eagle's sidekick?"

Huh?  "It's, um, different, sorta," Nasty stammered.

"It's a little overwhelming, as you can see," Eagle said.  "Peregrine will fit in well with the American Eagle family."

"Peregrine, how long have you been a super-hero?"

"Er, not long," Nasty said.  Get a grip, Natasha!

"Not long?  How long is that?" the reporter persisted.

"Well, um,"

"Peregrine's experience as a hero is not going to be an issue," Eagle said.

Say something, Natasha!  "Well, it depends on, um, how you look at it," Nasty said.  "Even when I wasn't wearing this costume, I was helping people when needed.  You don't need a costume to be a hero."  Where the fuck did that come from?

"Did you use your powers out of costume?" the same reporter asked.

"Don't need powers to be a hero either.  I was in the right place at the right time."

"So, you can see the future?" a different report asked.

Yes, I see a reporter getting his head punched in.  "No.  I've helped where I can, when I've seen someone needing help.  Nothing special about that."

"Peregrine," the first reporter said, "have you killed anyone?"

"No," Nasty said.  Not yet.  Want to be first?

"How does it feel to be the first woman to be Peregrine?" a fourth reporter asked.

The hell?  How the hell should I know?  "I'm sure it's an honour."

"Do you see becoming the first woman as Peregrine as a step forward or backward for women as superheroes?"

Huh?  "I don't under stand the question."

"As a woman, do you feel that becoming a sidekick is demeaning?" the same reporter said.

What is her problem?  "I really have no idea."

"Do you think that you're being used as a sex symbol in that costume?"

"A what?"  What is her basic problem?  Nasty felt herself blush.  She stopped herself from covering herself with her arms.  Hold it together, Giuliano.

"Peregrine's costume is based on the original costume worn by my first partner, with the obvious alterations to take into account Peregrine's gender," Eagle said.  "Turning Peregrine into a sex object was the last thing on everyone's mind.  The costume was designed to protect Peregrine while still giving her a wide range of movement.  A lot of work went into designing and making the costume, and calling Peregrine a 'sex object' ignores her abilities and potential."

What he said.  Sheesh.  Nasty couldn't help but blush.  She clenched her fist, trying to hide it behind her back.

"Eagle, what prompted you to find a new Peregrine?" the second reporter asked.

"As I said earlier, crime rates are falling," Eagle said.  "However, as excellent as our fine police department is, they are not equipped to handle threats from metahuman criminals.  Even yesterday, when I first met Peregrine, the criminal had assistants.  Without help, at least one, maybe all, would have gotten away.  One man cannot do everything, and I know Peregrine will be able to help me."

"Peregrine, how do you feel about that?"

Nasty shrugged.  "I hope that I can live up to Eagle's expectations," she said.

"Unfortunately, Peregrine and I must return to the Foundation," Eagle said.  "Ms McCall can answer any other questions you may have.  Thank you for coming out."  He ushered Nasty off-stage as photographers took more photos of the duo.  Once in the wings of the auditorium, Eagle stopped.  "Well done, Peregrine," he said.

Nasty shuddered.  "That wasn't painless," she said.

"You did well.  We should leave, before the reporters figure out where we've gone.  Besides, I have one more thing to show you."

"Can I take off this costume first?"

"This is something that Peregrine needs to be there for."

Great.  I'm going to get a split personality after this.  How am I going to remember what to answer to?  "Can't wait."

Eagle led Nasty through the halls to a private elevator, where Anne held the door open.  "Press conference go well?"

"Peregrine was splendid," Eagle said, "even when one of them tried to score a point off her."

Nasty entered the elevator.  "I kinda agree with the point she was making, though.  The costume shows off my, uh, my, um, shows off my, um, --"

"Figure?" Anne supplied.  Nasty couldn't see which floor she pressed.  The elevator started moving.

"Yeah."  Nasty sighed.  "I'm used to wearing something a lot less revealing."

"There's very little skin showing," Eagle said.

"But it shows off everything."  Nasty crossed her arms over her chest.  "I'm not even this, uh, this, uh, well, like this naturally."

"Like what?"

"I think Peregrine is saying that her costume has a little extra padding," Anne said.

"She does?" Eagle said.

"Trust me, Eagle, there's extra padding."

Nasty blushed.  Great.  Just great.  My chest is out there for everyone to see and now you're telling me it's mostly padding?

"The padding is there to protect you, Peregrine.  The material is lighter but is more resistant to damage," Eagle explained.

"And that's why it's this tight?" Nasty asked.

"Loose clothes can be caught during a fight, whether on a snag or by an opponent.  This way, it's harder to hold you."

"I see."  The elevator came to a smooth halt.  Nasty subdued panic rising in her.  What the hell was that about?  She followed Eagle and Anne out of the elevator and down a long hall.  Nasty fought to control her breathing.  Control yourself, Giuliano.  It's just a fucking hallway.  What is with you?

At the end of the hallway, Eagle held the door open for the women.  Nasty blinked in the darkness.  "Peregrine, since your powers don't let you fly, I had the Foundation work on a way to get you around town quickly."  Eagle flipped a switch, turning on a spotlight lighting an object covered by a tarp and spinning on a large turntable.  "Go ahead."

Warily, Nasty approached the turntable.  She grabbed a loose end that came within her reach.  The tarp slipped off one end of the object, revealing a shiny metallic bar.  Curious, Nasty yanked the tarp off completely.  "Eagle, this . . . this . . . "

"Of course, you'll have to demonstrate you can ride."

Nasty smiled.  "Trust me, I can ride.  I've just haven't seen anything like this."

"It's based on the Harley-Davidson frame, but the engine has been rebuilt from scratch, and the suspension's been beefed up to handle much more abuse.  The windscreen and front panels are bulletproof, to give you some protection from the front."

"So don't run away."  Nasty ran her hand along the red and blue paint at the front, then over the leather seat.  "Really nice."

"It'll need a mechanic," Anne said.  "We need to find someone who is familiar with motorcycles that can be trusted."

Oh, now there's an opening, Nasty thought.  She must've noticed me looking over those bikes at the mall.  Okay, play along for now.  "I can think of someone.  That new girl I saw the other day.  She might know something about motorcycles."

"You mean Jessica?" Eagle asked.

I think I see why Eagle is the way he is.  I'm going to go crazy if I have to refer to myself in the third person much longer.  "Yeah, her.  I'm sure she'll say yes.  What else does she have to do right now?"

[End Issue 19]

Next Issue:  Peregrine's first day on the job.


  1. Lots of things here, both good and bad! So I'm going to jump right in.
    First, the Consortium is better managed than the Eagle's group. They wanted to have a clear idea of Nasty's abilities before doing anything. They looked into her background. They filled in details for their agents as the situation changed. Eagle's group? This girl seems to have a power, so whatever it is, great. Jessica didn't exist a week ago, but that's fine. She's never done public speaking before? Huh, maybe we should suggest that she... NAH, it's cool. This must be the EASIEST GROUP to infiltrate! Up to this point, I can chalk it up to Eagle himself - he's gung ho, or he has a 'feeling' or whatnot - but is there no one even thinking about doing a psychological test before slapping a costume on her?! It COULD be happening behind the scenes, except a lot of this episode shoots that theory down.

    -Good start. Interesting the idea of retiring. Laughed at the part about 'new questions', so that was well played.
    -Nasty's acting like that's the first time in the costume. Really? Actually, she's acting like it's the first time she's SEEN the costume. Really?? Never looked at pictures of the previous guys? Did she have NO input into how it would appear, given she knows her powers better than the seamstress??
    -"Eagle will handle everything"; have they not even considered some basic questions she might be asked? No "remember what we talked about"?
    -"Peregrine's abilities are confidential"... because I don't think HE'S even sure of their scope!! That said, question was fielded very well.
    -"...how do you feel about the history..." SHE doesn't even know.
    -The costume and powers stuff, this was really good. It goes back to what you were saying elsewhere, about not needing powers in order to do the right thing. The follow-up bit about telling the future was funny too. It also shows that Nasty can come through under pressure.

    Apparently comments have a 4,096 character limit, so I'll continue underneath.

    1. Evil is always more organized than good - it's how they get the early edge in a battle. ;) It also helps that the Consortium has a corporate structure, which lends itself to being well organized. The Eagle Foundation is a non-profit, founded by a small number of people, and expanded as needed without really having a blueprint. It's the difference between a city like Edmonton, AB, and a city like London, UK. The former was designed, the latter just grew. There's also some maneuvering in the background; it'll come out around issue 40-50 that the Foundation is aware of the Consortium and has an agent inside.

      I've seen many press conferences - hard not to in Ottawa - and some questions are just bizarre.

      Nasty got measured, but the Foundation didn't want the tailor to see the recipient of the costume. And, since the Foundation is in Rochester, not New York City, it's probably outside Nasty's periphery.

      Eagle was meant to do most of the answering of questions, to cover Nasty's lack of experience. Nasty sort of jumped into things.

      Would you want tell everyone what all your powers are at a news conference and then see all the villains prepared for what you can do? :)

      The history question was meant more to give the setting a bit more depth, the idea that supers have existed long before Nasty became one.

      I didn't mean to have that theme, but it keeps returning. I may have to play with the idea a bit.

  2. -"How does it feel to be the first woman" ... That's interesting, not what I pictured, and a nice way to fit in that information here. That said, SURELY this is a question Eagle's group should have anticipated off screen. Why does it seem to blindside her?
    -"A lot of work went into designing and making the costume"... apparently without any input from Nasty herself? Aside from her measurements? Also, this means that a reasonable about of time has passed; what's Nasty been doing with herself? Obviously not research. Or had the "lot of work" been done previously, so they just had to adjust for her body type?
    -By the way, that line of questioning did seem to be handled well, but I'm a guy, so what do I know.
    -The wrapup seemed to go well too. Though they immediately go to an elevator... the auditorium is in the Eagle's building then? This is the first indication of such.
    -"Loose clothes can be caught..." So can capes like the one Eagle wears, right? Also, is her costume tighter than the Eagle's or something, or has she just not considered that angle? The "padding" conversation, while reasonable, also seems like something that should have happened BEFORE in the story.
    -Interesting bit with the elevator; she doesn't really remember all the details of when she was under then. Or that's what I assume, at least.
    -"noticed me looking over those bikes in the mall"... they sell bikes in the mall? Though I like this, it's the first indication that someone HAS been paying attention, and that there was passage of time. Also maybe someone has been asking questions or doing research. EXCEPT it brings up the question of why they were doing it behind her back, since again, this seems to come out of nowhere. Are they keeping her at arms length because they don't trust her yet? If so, why are they giving her such a senior position?? I don't know. Maybe it's me.

    Finally, just wondering, why is he the AMERICAN Eagle, if he's based out of one small city? Seems a curious name choice.

    1. Eagle's team hadn't considered the question. They just didn't think having a girl-Peregrine was that big a deal. The board, which includes Anne and Kathryn, were hoping for air time on the news.

      Nasty's been catching up on her missing month, getting used to the idea of being on her own, working out her emotions on running away. I probably need an Issue 18.5 or an Annual or even a side story just to show Nasty's adjustments to her new reality. The costume started from a basic pattern, adjusted for Nasty's measurements. Alas, I don't sew, just admire cosplay, so I have no idea what's involved in doing that. However, I pictured the costume to be a more conservative version of Mockingbird's (http://marvel.com/universe/Mockingbird), showing no skin and having a cowl to cover Nasty's face; nothing like Power Girl's (http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Power_Girl) at all.

      I'm a guy, too, but Eagle's response felt right.

      I really should have worked out the interior of the Foundation's HQ. It'd help get details right.

      Eagle is an odd hero; him getting his cape caught won't end in disaster. If I wrote his series, his secrets could be revealed. The padding discussion should have, but it'd have to be shoehorned between issues at this point.

      She doesn't remember everything, and the elevator was when she was placed back under the mind control.

      The Blues Brothers had a car dealership in a mall, is all I can say in my defense. I've also seen, locally, displays of cars, boats, and motorcycles (at different times) in a mall.

      As for the background work the board did, it's a limitation of where I placed the POV. They did some work, enough to figure out what they can trust Nasty with.

      He got the name first, mostly. And Rochester has a higher crime rate than New York City.