Celestia and Jill try to decide who to recruit for the two remaining slots on the team. They look through a list of candidates that Mick had prepared.
Ceilidh was one of the first people they looked at because she has the highest popularity rating of anyone on the list, but her world is marked as extremely dangerous with a danger level of 9003, whatever that means. They see a fuzzy picture of a giant lobster. Alex says it's just a big bug, but Tia is more cautious. If the people who are powerful enough to cross dimensions consider a world to be dangerous, then it probably is.
They also initially pass over Natasha because she has a low popularity rating and her profile describes her as rebellious and uncontrollable.
One of the early candidates is Silvia, a silver-colored superheroine with very high stats, flying brick powers, the ability to adjust her stats in battle, and a very good psychological profile. They are surprised that no one has recruited her already.
They jump in and land. The locals are used to interdimensional intrusions and have a routine procedure for handling their arrival. A few people from the tournament have attempted to recruit Silvia before. She is a colonel in the Canadian army and refuses to join due to her duty to her country.
Jill asks if she can appeal to sympathy. Silvia says you can try but don't expect it to work. Jill tries it and it doesn't work.
As an officer herself, Tia understands duty and accepts her failure.
The Classy Restaurant
The scene is an elegant high class restaurant. Tia and Jill, both dressed well for the location, watch silently from one of the tables. There are caped superheroes at some tables. Renée, a redhead woman wearing tactical gear, is at a table with a handsome gentleman. She is cleaning her guns at the table.
Renée: "I am going to hunt down that shadow sniper who has been killing supervillains. Only I get to do that!"
At another table a waiter presents the bill to the Petty Criminal, the villain who commits misdemeanors and who wears a wig and Mad Hatter outfit to resemble how Tom Petty appeared in the video Don't Come Around Here No More. The Petty Criminal gets out his credit card to pay the bill and suddenly freezes. He sees that the waiter has his back turned and no one else is looking in his direction. Quirky music starts playing as he puts the credit card back in his pocket and starts slowly walking toward the door, miming running.
Renée leaps to her feet and raises one of her guns. "Villain!" *blam* "That was a warning shot!" *blam* "That was another warning shot!"
The Petty Criminal runs out the door with Renée chasing him. The handsome gentleman who was her date merges into his own shadow on the wall and slides away.
Tia turns away and sips on her wine, having determined not to be a part of this.
Outside, the Petty Criminal runs down the sidewalk. At a market stand offering small candies with the sign "free take one", he reaches in with both hands and takes two. The mildly annoyed vendor says "Hey." The Petty Criminal runs to the end of the sidewalk and hesitates as the crosswalk counts down 2, 1 seconds remaining.
Renée, chasing him down, fires pistols at him.
As the crosswalk light switches to a red "Do Not Cross", the Petty Criminal runs across the crosswalk. Cross traffic drives in behind him, cutting off Renée from the chase.
Back inside the restaurant, Jill suggests hiring someone else. There seem to be plenty of superpowered people in this world, several in the room right now. They could grab two of them. How about those two over there?
Celestia pulls out a transparent datapad to see if they are in the database. Jill touches the pad and the faces of many superheroes rapidly start appearing on it as she searches the database for this planet. One of the heroes comes up and Jill immediately gives a disappointed "oh" as she reads the information directly from the computer before Celestia can read it from the screen.
Celestia: "Ice Man is old and out of shape, and Wasp Man's only power is flight. Neither of them has a significant fan base. Mick had said it was good to look for candidates who have a strong popularity rating."
Jill: "And there are people who like Renée?"
Jill: "Well, I wouldn't trust everything the computer says. I mean, it gives her a higher mental stability rating than me."
Anna: "Yeah, that's nuts."
A startled Jill doubletakes. The chair beside her is empty.
Tia: "Are you all right?"
Jill: "Yes. Yes, I'm fine." Jill tips back her wine glass and chugs.
A dejected Renée walks back into the restaurant and back to her table, notices her date is missing, and slouches in the chair angrily.
Jill: "Will you be talking to her?"
Jill: "Do you want me to--"
Celestia shakes her head.
Rocky the Raccoon is digging a hole across the street from a building.
Rocky: "I might join you if you two will help me rob that bank."
The building is a food bank.
Jill: "Where I'm from, a food bank is to help poor people."
Rocky: "Yeah, but think about all the food they must have!"
Tia: "We will consider your offer and get back to you if we need you."
Rocky: "Thanks! I look forward to hearing back from you!" He goes back to digging his tunnel. "Whew! This work is really tiring."
Lance the Conqueror
Lance: "Hey, you girls are cute! Can I see you naked?"
Back at the base Jill says if they get really desperate to hire someone, they could go along with his request. Tia says it will not be his last request and his attitude will be disruptive to the unit.
Safari the AssassinHer profile says she has a tendency to kill recruiters on sight. Her photograph is of her murdering the cameraman. They do not even try to talk to her, and go on to the next profile.
Finally they loop around the list back to Ceilidh. Celestia drums her fingers on the table as she thinks about the retrieval mission.
Tia: "Do you think we can take it?"
Alex: "I've taken down bigger bugs than that."
Jill: "I don't know. I don't know what that number means."
Tia takes them on a few preliminary missions to get a sense of what these danger ratings mean and to judge their ability to fight as a group.
The story is starting to come together.
13248 Dec 23 14:04 ep-0104-recruitment.txt 2042 Dec 23 14:34 ep-0106-lastminuteprep.txt 7034 Dec 21 13:32 ep-0108-princesses.txt 2867 Dec 21 18:25 ep-0109-onstrike.txt 33642 Dec 23 13:23 ep-0110-fallout.txt 12050 Dec 23 08:36 ep-0201-season2.txt 18804 Dec 20 20:40 ep-conrad.txt 5661 Dec 20 20:39 ep-doom.txt 40137 Dec 17 17:03 ep-haunted.txt 19577 Dec 20 20:44 ep-solaria.txt
All of the little ideas that I brainstormed as sideplots for this story are starting to fit together. One idea leads to another that leads to another. The ordering makes sense. The downside: I haven't been writing the fights or the core plotline. It worries me that I have written the most on the ideas that I had thought were least fleshed out. That haunted house episode that I brainstormed the other day is the longest episode so far.
Another downside is that the number of side stories is outpacing the schedule. I was going to put Mick's return two weeks before the end of the season. That would make the haunted house episode number 11. Solaria's story is supposed to come before that, but there is no more room. I might have to extend the length of the season. I could also fix this by placing sufficiently long side stories between tournament weeks without any fights taking place during the episode. There might be an Episode 10-A and an Episode 10-B.
On second thought... Solaria's story includes a team owners' party that is supposed to be early in the season. Episode 7 was supposed to be full of fights and aftermath and training and planning, but I could stick Solaria's story at the end of the episode. Or I could make it episode 7-B. I did not want to rush into the sidestories this soon after the beginning of the tournament, though.
Also, Solaria's story introduces a minor character who I did not want to introduce until after Strawberry discusses him in week 2 (episode 8). The discussion beforehand was supposed to make his appearance more exciting. If he appears first and is discussed later, he's a known quantity and that's not as much fun. I could also tack it onto episode 8 which is short on material. This might work because both stories share an element that is harmless in one story and a serious threat in another. On third thought, they share several elements that would complement each other. Putting it in episode 8 might work out well.
[Edit Dec 24]
Hail Satan, I have a full schedule of 6 games planned out for the 3 main characters and some ideas of what will happen during their fights. The other fighters don't need this much detail.