Back At The Spring

December 20, 2015:

It's been a while since Zee and Pepper visited the Spring …. but they do today, with Partisan


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Everything changes, but some things take more time than others. The little mountain cabin in question, well it's much the same as it ever was. The Trees have cast aside their leaves to wait for spring, the cicadas have all gone silent and well the Birds have long since flown south. Yet here they come, this merry little troupe. Walking calmly through the chill breeze and the still night air, towards that inviting little cabin in the woods. Still shrouded by a mass of moss and ivy, hidden beneath the skeletal canopy same as always. "Here we go, that took a little longer than expected I guess.
Part pauses to ash her cigarette and look over her shoulder. Ak held comfortably just foreward of the mag well, in the same way everyone carries AKs really. That distinctive Tiger stripe M-65 jacket, ballcap pulled low over her brow and a beat up and patch covered rucksack slung over her shoulders. "It really has been too long, we should do this like once a month or something. It wouldn't be such a big deal to just drive here if we were going to be checking in on the place, keep some food so you girls wouldn't have to eat my campfire cooking."Which has been much talked about, but well this is the Partisan. She can fucking cook, amirite?

Zee's dressed as she usually is and is following alongside Pepper, any skin that is shown reveals bruises and scratches and a fading black eye that looks about a week old. Over her shoulder, she carries a messenger bag - and any who's seen it lately, will know that it hold far more than it ever really should.

As they near the cabin, the raven haired mage, looks between Pepper and Part "It's been such a busy year, I'm not sure that once a month would be achievable…." there's a pause "But I am looking forward to kicking back tonight."

Pepper Potts has actually enjoyed hiking toward the cabin alongside Partisan, even if she looks WAAAY underprepared in comparison. Winter coat, good winter hiking boots, a small backpack to carry the random items she wanted to bring along like her tablet and phone and tea and favorite teapot, stuff like that. She knew not to worry about foodstuffs, because Partisan. Seriously. Since they started the 'cook for each other once per month' thing, Pepper has had to SERIOUSLY up her exercise regime, and even with that she's found more and more of her garments needing to be loosened a bit. Which, yikes.

"I am so looking forward to this as well."

"So Zee, you wanna tell me who gave you the shiner before I spend the whole evening trying not to stare and inventing elaborate revenge fantasies?"Part pauses near the barn for a moment, before easing her way inside. It's just as it was left, the same sprawling bubbling hot spring half burried in the cave wall. Part has spraypainted the windows black since last time, but well beyond that? All the same, hurray! She spends a moment bringing a few lanterns to life before finally barring the door behind the trio, and setting her AK down not -too- far from reach. "How does peppermint tea sound, it'll take a moment for me to get the cheesecake up and rolling either way."
The Spring is, well bubbling and steaming and every bit as hot and inviting as you could ever hope for. Especially after a long slog in the cold, and well doesn't the cabin have a great stone fireplace and a porkbelly stove anyway? Shit's pretty cash yo, you can't front on that. The digs as always are heaven sent, divinely crafted for the only super power nobody knows they want. Super chilling.

Without really thinking, Zee raises her hand to the fading shiner and offers Part a sheepish look. Pepper already knows part of this story and was quite gracious in not pressing too hard.

"Unless you're going to take revenge on me, there's no real planning needed. I was practicing with a sash whip that was given to me by a mutual acquaintance and I …. ummmm … missed my timing." Is Zee actually blushing? "Fortunately, the weighted metal ends had been changed out for gummy candies." So … yes. Zee has a shiner for hitting herself in the face with … gummy candies.

"Peppermint tea sounds wonderful." Zee murmurs eyeing that spring … she might have been fantasising about it, just a little.

Pepper Potts can't help it, she has to look somewhere other than at Zee when Partisan asks about the black eye. Clearly, she knows what happened, but isn't going to spare the younger woman by explaining for her. It's the gummy candies part that usually makes her start snickering. She manages not to this time. "Peppermint tea sounds perfect, thank you." As soon as the door is closed, she steps over to the nearest surface and puts her backpack down and starts shedding her winter coat. SHe's here to relax, and the coat isn't exactly super relaxing to wear. It's heavy. And a little tigher at the waist than it was last year.

Partisan splits her bag open and begins setting out the contents with military precision, everything has it's place. "You wanged yourself in the face with a -sash whip- made of candy."Part doesn't turn to look, no she's busy setting up her little field stove and tea kettle. Those brows lift, and theres a little shake of her head but she has a job here. "I won't ask about the candy, but a Sash whip really? Precisely what is wrong with brass knucks, or a good strong cudgel? I mean, C'mon Zee. If you asked, I could make something for you yaknow. Not as if I'm running low on tasers these days, or maybe mix up a 37mm grenade filled with glitter or soft rubber foam?"With a click, the little stove lights and on goes that adorable little field tea kettle. "It's not as if I don't owe you my life Zee, all you need to ever do is just ask. Not as if Pepper would say no either, and then you wouldn't be using sash whips."Part half turns to offer Pepper a ziplock bag of, oh no. Oh no oh no, these are Partisan's mythical cookies. The so called "Diet Destroyers", ambrosia in cookie format. THeres like, a pound and a half of them in there!

"Nothing, Part." Zee answers in earnest. "I've been learning to use all sorts of things, since my powers were taken away." Part and Pepper might not be aware of that little tidbit. "Hand to hand, swords, knives … anything really. Our acquaintance gave me the sash whip some time ago, and I can fit the end with iron alloy. With what I fight, conventional weapons don't usually make the grade and … " she sighs "I've had to learn to adapt."

Whatever is happening in Zee's life, that she's lost her natural power is clear but rather than sulk in a corner, she's taken a different approach to let her keep doing what she does. Is she bitter about it? No one … has asked really.

Putting her messenger bag down, the young mage looks over to Pepper with an apologetic look. She hadn't told her of her latest …. challenge and feels a bit for that.

Pepper Potts sees the bag of cookies and gets a slightly pained expression. But then, Zee saves the day by openly admitting she's lost her magical powers. "Wait, what? That's why you're training with weapons?" She does take the bag of cookies, but doesn't open it right away, looking at Zee like she might possibly understand how the young woman feels having something suddenly taken away like that. "Okay. I'm putting you on the list for the next set of body armor pieces. Speaking of, how have your armor pieces been working out, Partisan?"

Look at those things, each cookie weighs a ton. Its got like some pretzel sticks and chocolate and is that puffed rice in the sweet chewy dough? You could put one of those things in a tube sock and beat a man to death with it, how many sticks of butter died for each one of those things? Part anywho, gets to cooking. "It's human nature, it's a natural and healthy reaction to such a thing. Before you want to tell anyone, you need to verify for yourself how bad the damage is. Right, Zee?"Chancing a glance up, as Part finally rises to get out've those clothes and into that hot water. Look at that, totally different ink yet again. Theres a huge ace of clubs across her back, and serpents and tiger skulls and well theres plenty going on.
"Zee, honey. You saved my life, and your fingerprints are now and will forever be left on my immortal soul. This place is rough and tumble, and I forgive you for having to hear from Jerry. Just know that powers or not, I think you're great. Just please remember, between me and Pepper there is nothing in this world we wouldn't do for you."Sinking into the water before, well part being Part she gets a cigarette lit. The tea will need a little longer it seems. "You're my favorite hero in the city, and not because you've got magic. You'd do better with a more theatrical weapon anyway, plays to your strengths. Misdirection, that kind of thing."

"It's temporary…" Zee murmurs, quickly changing into her swimming costume and following Part into the water "… I hope. I'm being tested, they want to see my 'strength'" Whoever they are, although Pepper may recall a discussion in Neverwhere some time ago where Zee mentioned the mantle the Sorcerer Supreme.

With a satisfied 'aaaaahhhh' as the warm water swirls around her body, the Mistress of Magic smiles to Pepper "Even if I get magic back, which I should" she adds the last bit hurriedly "The armour would be welcome. I've been using SHIELD body armour and it's most effective." Perhaps, with Peppers assistance, Zee can enchant it … interesting thought that.

Looking to Pepper, Zee offers a smal smile "That's why I'm training in combat. It's had an interesting effect really … I can still do magic, anyone can … but it's ritual based and exceedingly cumbersome." Blowing out a deep breath, the raven tressed woman looks between the two "Favourite hero?" the blush is there again. "I … just do what I can."

Pepper Potts takes the chance to set that evil evil bag of evil cookies down and also sheds her jeans and shirt and all so she step into the hot water. And hopefully Partisan won't notice that her shirt is obscuring the bag of cookies from view. She does offer Zee a smile at Partisan's declaration. "And that is what heroes do."

"And yes Pepper, it's working quite well. I'm finally under a hundred fifty pounds worth of gear, about sixty five when I'm stripped down to ammo, guns, grenades and so fourth. Back during the invasion of Manhattan I was slogging around in about two hundred ten pounds of gear, plus another fifty pounds for that riot shield. I think I counted like sixty or seventy penetrations, dug about fourty rounds out of me when it was over. Thusfar, armor is proving infinitely more protective. I am keeping a little journal of changes I'd like to see, but we'll wait until I actually start hacking up bits of lung before I can figure out what it's limit is."Partisan, ever the subtle. Right?
Theres a pause as she slips out of the water for a moment to pour the tea, and distribute it around. "Zee I'm a big fan. Not just because you saved my life, I've always found you impressive and inspiring. "Come on by sometime Zee, I'll see what I can do for you. A good old fashioned stun glove would likely do you wonders, especially when combined with a nice conductive pipe or something. Most of the guys I fought with in the OCA back in the day, when they left the CIA because it went stupid and soft? They all went to the DIA, and those guys can source the non-lethal shit no problem. Just, in the mean time do me a favor and keep a distance from this M-town stuff for the time being alright? A guy I used to know is in the fight now, and he's on the wrong side."

"Thank you, Part." Zee says quietly listening to the conversation about armour. "I'm not going anywhere near M-Town. I've different issues to deal with." isn't that the truth?

With a glance to Pepper, Zee frowns a little "Tell me about this armour you're developing. It sounds awesome and I … might have others who may be interested. Magic users in the field are kind of squishy."

Pepper Potts smiles amusedly at the mention of magic users being squishy, knowing that she herself would be considered squishy in a combat situation. "Well, after Partisan said she wanted proper body armor that didn't weigh as much as a small bus, I put it to SI's R&D folks. They'd been tossing the idea about but as there had been more of a push for retail products lately, I'd let it slide. Not anymore. The first pieces that could be considered Beta test were completed about a week ago, or so, and since I'd had the manufacture team build the first few sets in Partisan's and Jericho's and Mr. Gleason's sizes…" Her smile goes from amused to downright impish. "And really, they're the best possible field test group I cold ever possibly hope to find."

Partisan nods softly "Ever tried wearing like, proper body armor Zee? Imagine a thirty pound vest thats trying to shove your breasts into your lungs with a stiff ceramic plate, and that ain't the half of it. It's always too wide in the shoulders, so the whole thing slides back and the collar grinds into your throat. If it does fit your shoulders it's too tight to clear your hips, so you end up just tossing half the armor and stitching it together with parachute cord just so you can breathe. You get shot, and it'll just kick splinters off the inside of your ribs into your lungs because it doesn't fit correctly. Nevermind like, if you fall into a river or someshit. You ain't getting that shit off, your ass is going to drown trying to get out of that sixty pound lead weight."Part casually nods towards Pepper with a smile, before sipping after her tea. "It fits, like actually fits. I could go back to wearing a chest rig and a combat skirt if I wanted to, feels like some kinky latex stuff but I wouldn't know anything about any of that."Que the glance away and the sipping of tea.

The best Zee has tried is SHIELD body armour and May had a set delivered to her. Being taller and potentially more … svelte for lack of a better word, her discomfit and the potential for casualty was much less. Yet she had taken time to make minor adjustments to fit her better …

At the mention of two her friends, Zee smiles to Pepper. "Perfect test cases, really. And they'll be able to give /real/ feedback."

Partisans comments elicit a blush … and Zee starts sipping her tea. "I've SHIELD body armour, Part. It works incredibly well but I know what you mean about fit … and weight" she responds, leaving the discussion about Latex . "Pepper, can I help you at all?"

Pepper Potts hms? at Zee, having been caught in the middle of taking a sip of tea. "Mm. Sorry. Help with what? I mean, I can always use another competent PA, but I'm guessing that that's not what you're asking." She sets her cup carefully on the edge of the pool and moves to lean there. "Do you want me to see if I can have a set of armor built for you to beta test? That should be easy enough, I know the female specific pieces were a serious bone of contention with the R&D people."

Partisan nods sagely "Just remember Zee, it's very light in comparison to the alternatives but it's still heavy. You'll need to train, and at the very least take a dunk test to make sure you can either swim loaded with gear or ditch it in a hurry. Armor is great, but it also causes a lot of injuries. Shifts in body weight can fuck up your balance, serious wounds sustained can be much more difficult to immediately detect and treat. Drowning is always a big deal, and then you need to be very aware of what ballistic armor does and does not protect you from. Concussion waves from a big explosion for instance, will still kill you dead. You can still absolutely be beaten to death, or fried or frozen and so fourth."Pausing to sip after her tea, before getting another cigarette lit. "It's a very easy mistake to have an inflated sense of protection, same as most capes never wear gas masks. It's all part of a system, which is in and of itself a subsystem of a larger whole which allows you to fight and survive."

Zee smiles at Pepper. The thought of her being a PA… is just amusing. "With testing the armour. Maybe I can work out some way to imbue it with magical protection." She's not sure and it shows but the theory is sound. If Fitz can create the portal buster, why not this?

"I sort of understand, Part." Zee responds to the freedom fighter "It's why I'm doing so much practice. Things are very different now."

Clearly, though, now is the time to relax and kickback, as Zee rests her head on the edge of the pool, tea mug help so it 'floats' on the water in front of her. "Tell me about your trip, Part."

"A mother isn't supposed to have a favorite, but they were all war orphans and I wasn't technically their mother so sue me. He was one of my Kaibilles, Adelmo Cobar. He grew up to be a very good man, and he was an exceptional soldier. Anyway my boys spent a long time as Partisans, a bunch of them have got strange fucked up cancers. Adelmo picked up brain cancer, they gave him nine months. He traveled up here to M-town to have a shot at a combat death for a good cause, but well the cancer was aggressive. So he decided the next best thing was to die whilst fighting cancer, we heard about this hospital in China who wanted to try. I think we all knew it was a one way trip, but of course I went with him."Part sighs, flicking her cigarette aside before sliding that mug aside. "They jumped us at the airport, shot us to ribbons. We got into a firefight, Adelmo couldn't speak very well by then and he was bleeding to death but he told me to make a run for it."And a pause as she chains up another smoke with a frown. "He fought like a fucking lion, they'll make a graveyard for the work he did that day. He died a brave and noble death, one any man should be proud of. I ended up getting run over by an armored assault van, pinned beneath and capture. Spent some time undergoing, lets call it exploratory surgery without anesthesia. I made them regret it, I made them regret all of it. I think I killed about six hundred, maybe more maybe less. Made the run to Russia on foot, nearly froze to death, almost starved to death, almost drowned, fought a bear, got shot."

Part sighs, puffing after her cigarette. "Once this shit is done over here, I'm going to go back to China. I have a debt I need to collect, and I'm going to make them into a little pet project of mine. I'm going to squeeze that country until they have nothing left to bleed. There are limits, even for me. Promising a doctor, and then gunning somone down? Too far."

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