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Sep. 30th, 2016

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Telepathy (#52) (Out of sequence)

Four of hearts.

It's an innocuous talent at first, sure. You can reach out to people mind to mind. It's sweet, it's intimate. You practice a little bit. You learn to reach. You don't have to touch them anymore. It saves you yelling across the house. You never lose track of each other at the grocery store. If you push, really push, it can reach miles. A last minute "I love you" on the way to work, or a reminder to grab groceries on the way home.

Ace of clubs.

But the more you push, the more it changes you. It's not just a power. It's... an intuition, a gut feeling. A tug. And then, there they are, their thoughts open to yours. And the further you reach, the more power you invest, the more you notice that their thoughts really DO open up. Equivocations melt away, evasions end, and the truth becomes clearer and clearer.

King of clubs.

The strange thing is, they don't notice. Something about that contact, that unfiltered access, it makes people trust you. Because you're touching them deeper and deeper, but you're always controlling how much they see of you. You can still deceive and manipulate, while they feel a radiant trust.

Eight of clubs.

The military, well, they always say they need a few good men. You'll notice that leaves quite a few more soldiers whose morality is unaccounted for. Because, while the military does need a few good men, it also needs a few men like me. People who can befriend you. People who can understand you. People who can get inside your head.

Nine of clubs.

How did you shuffle this deck? Random.org? Clever. Well, of course I'd know how you picked the cards. You're correct, digging deeper in to someone's mind requires a personal connection. But my friend, I've been talking to you for minutes! You've heard the story of my heroic service in defense of our fair New Zealand. Of course we have a connection.

Come on now, Phil. Focus. Being scared isn't a card. You've got science to do. Focus on the next card. Very good.

Queen of hearts.

Sep. 29th, 2016

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Luminous (#50)

Luminous is not a power I was expecting. When I first got it, I was actually pretty disappointed in it. I mean... I glow. Wheee. I can do all the things that a flashlight does. And it's really easy to notice me when I'm walking down the sidewalk at night. So, the combined powers of a flashlight and a safety vest! Truly remarkable.

But then one night, I'm at a party. The power goes out. Instinct kicks in, and I light up.

It turns out this sort of thing draws a lot of attention. But the attention wasn't the cool bit. The fun part was one guy got curious, and asked if I can do other colors. I hadn't ever really thought about that. It's light, it's for seeing, you want it white, right? Or at least that's the default on the power. But, apparently, I'm not limited to that. Or the visible spectrum. So, add blacklight to my combined powers?

But, still, it's enough to make a few friends, keep a small audience entertained at parties. But the question got me curious just how far I could push things. Can I do two colors at once? Can I do three? Can I make my left arm glow blue, and my right arm glow red? And question after question, the answer kept being the same - it took some practice to get it right, but I most definitely could.

So then I start thinking smaller still. Can I cover myself with a grid of red lines? That one took almost a month. Plaid took the rest of the summer. But that's where things got really fun. Glowing pixel art tattoos. A few years later, I got enough resolution for lineart. I also spent two years getting an art degree. This talent was all I could think about, and I wanted to make the best of it.

Also, it's great for chatting at noisy events. I can use my arm as a little text terminal!
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Stability (#49)

It's luck, of a sorts, but neither good nor ill. My luck is just average. Never an off day, never the stars align, so to speak. Everything is stable, and the expected outcome is, well, more expected than normal? Like, if I get fired, I know it's because I was under-performing. If there's a layoff and I don't make the cut, I know that social gaffe didn't give my boss an unprofessional bias. And if I get a raise, I earned it on merit, not by brown nosing. My life is stable.

When I was a teenager, I loved Babylon 5. There's a quote, about how terrible it would be to know that life is fair, and that everything bad happened for a reason. But, you know, I disagree. There is something deeply satisfying in knowing that it's my actions, not my ethnicity, that define my outcomes. It is wonderful not to have to worry about my sexuality or my gender getting in the way of life. When the dice are biased in your favor, you should embrace chaos. But if the dice are biased against you, better to avoid games of chance.

I would be totally sold on this power if it was just protection from bigotry, bias, and the general unfairness of society.

But Stability is about more than just the absence of unfairness: it's about the absence of variance. If I roll a six sided die, it will be either a 3 or a 4, because that's what's average. Blackjack is one of the fairest forms of gambling, with a house edge of just 1%, so I can expect to lose about 1% of my cash every time I play a hand. You'd think I could have real fun exploiting this, walk out when I'm winning and keep things from balancing out, but the universe has a way about it. The last time I tried that, I lost my wallet. And this power being what it was, it was returned the next day, sans cash. I didn't even bother to cancel my credit cards - I knew it'd show up, and I know the odds on identity fraud.

Really, it's a great power. I just have one complaint, just the one, with this power. It turns out that while looking up average life expectancy tables IS really motivating, it's also rather disconcerting. I'm going to have a perfectly average life for the next twelve thousand, eighty-one days. And a half. And not a single one of those will be an off day, nor will the stars align to bless me. Just... average days. Twelve thousand of them.

Sep. 28th, 2016

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Invulnerability (#48)

No, but seriously, the coolest part of invulnerability is food. Like, I can eat radium and arsenic. They're not delicious, but I can. There's no such thing as expired food in my world. And you know what, some stuff tastes delicious. No, I'm not going to tell you which poisons taste best! But trust me, some of them are delicious.

Yeah, not dying is really neat, but really, how often have you died? Er. I mean, you know what I mean, right? It's not a common risk. The average age is, what, 60? 70? As a species, we have gotten remarkably good at not dying. I'm not in a gang, I am absolutely terrible at puzzles, and the last time I helped with a house fire I was very politely asked to never do it again. I mean, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to drag an unconscious human! They're heavy!

There's a few new experiences, sure. Go walking on the bottom of the ocean. Visit the inside of a volcano. And after that, what? Skydiving? It's really not that interesting hitting the ground - might as well use the chute and save some property damage. You're certainly not going to go leaping off of buildings unless you're a millionaire. Like I said, humans are heavy. Falling humans do all sorts of damage to cars and pavement.

Body hair, no one ever talks to you about body hair. It takes a few days of growth before you get something that the power doesn't consider to be "part of you", which means I perpetually have three days of stubble, if I bother to shave at all. I mean, nothing against body hair. Trust me, I'm rapidly becoming a fan. But society has expectations, and it's nice to at least have the option to meet them?

On the other hand, you never get sick. You don't have to worry about injuries when doing stupid stuff on ladders and roofs. You can take all sorts of little risks to get things done a bit faster. When you never have to take a sick day, most employers are willing to overlook a bit of facial hair. People realize you're reliable, dependable. No matter what misfortune befalls you, you probably won't be more than a few minutes late.

And you can never die. Never. You're a constant, while the rest of the species flickers by. Maybe give me another decade or two before I know how I feel about that one?

Sep. 24th, 2016

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Inquisitomancer (#47)

So, for the longest time, I just thought of myself as the weird girl, you know? No one seemed to exactly mind having me around. I'd still get invited to parties. But I wasn't, y'know, no one seemed to pay any particular attention to me? Maybe someone would hear me out of one ear, and that'd tilt the conversation a bit, but no one would notice it was me that said it.

And, okay, well, fair cop. That's actually pretty right on. But because no one ever really paid attention to me, I didn't realize what I was doing. It's a subtle sort of power, and the metamancers had just said divination. But when I ask questions, people don't respond quite the way they do when other people ask.

Like I said, they don't respond to me directly. I go unnoticed. But somehow, when I ask questions, the answers I need have a way of finding their way to people's tongues. Usually it's pretty related - the conversation will steer in a direction that explains things to me. Sometimes it's a little weird - I ask where the bathroom is, and find out that they're actually kinda attracted to me but were too scared to ask. So, I don't always get answers to the questions I ask, but I do get the answers I need.

Sidenote: You can learn some really interesting things about yourself with a power like this. When a question goes unanswered, you know it wasn't an answer you needed. When you get a different answer than expected, that teaches you something too. You pay attention, and suddenly you've got a much clearer picture of yourself. It's like something out of CSI: Zoom, Enhance, Unblur, Debias. Aha! There's the perp!

Given the name, of course, people get confused. It's not the power of Inquisition. I can get answers, but I can't force anyone in particular to give them. It has to fit the natural flow of things; it has to be something they're willing to say. But it's also not a mantic art - it's a divinatory one.

So, yeah, what I'm saying is... my power is Divination By Asking Questions...
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Divine Inspiration (#46)

Muses, don't get me started on muses. They claim to channel Divine Inspiration, but they're really just Inspiramancers - they can create inspiration, shift it around, twist it, but it's hardly divine. And plenty of people would call it schizophrenic to say that the gods really DO talk to me. Or possibly narcissism. But you can consult the metamancers if you want: I'm the real deal.

The gods talk to me, filling me with grand inspirations. I wrote my first Greek Tragedy at the ripe age of 10. My mom was very, very upset with me. Me and my dad had a VERY long talk about monogamy. By the age of 13 I had been banned twice from 4chan and my budding career as a cartoonist was at an end.

Because, see, everyone thinks of God as some modern concept - the great JHVH, the OnE True God. Or, hey, maybe your part of the world gets Allah or Buddha. But oh no, there's quite a few gods. They don't have much power. They're bored, feeble beings who mostly kvetch about how times used to be better, the worship flowing like wine, and the wine also flowing a lot better than it does now.

I would pay very, very good money to have one of those gods inspiring me. Hell, give me the Old Testament Christian god. Call on me to smite the unbelievers, and to slay anyone who wears mixed fibers.

Just, for the love of all that is sweet and decent - and you will notice I did not say holy - please, please make Zeus stop talking to me.

NO! I am NOT going to discuss how many zoos I have been banned from.
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Veximancy (#45)

Heh, this power is rad. I know, "rad"'s not cool these days. Or whatever has replaced cool. It's probably one of those emoji, isn't it? Where was I? Oh, right. Veximancy. This power is rad!

Like, imagine all the little problems in your life. Traffic makes you a few minutes late to work. Spilling coffee on your favorite shirt. That one dude who just never cleans up after his dog. Seriously dude, what is your problem? Uh. All those little problems. Or, as we call them, vexations.

Well, just for starters, as a veximancer? You never have to deal with those things. Traffic is always smooth, the line at the store isn't too long, and you never have to worry about being sloppy or clumsy. It has it's limits - you'll get a mild Black Friday experience, but you'll still need to pack some extra patience on that day. But by and large, all of life's trivial inconveniences are washed away.

If you're of a ... less gallant demeanor, you also have all the petty revenge you desire. Those who cross you will find traffic thickens and clots around them, they always hit the store when there's only one overworked cashier, and they will come to loathe and fear any saucy food.

But what's really fun is combining the two together. Reflecting vexation back at it's source. Don't clean up after your dog? You'll be having a fun time when you go to bed tonight. Decide to hold up the line berating a cashier? Have fun being 10 minutes late to work tomorrow because an angry cop feels the need to vent his frustrations on you. Karma is a bitch, and so am I.

Sep. 23rd, 2016

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Super Strength (#44)

I really didn't think I'd like this power nearly as much as I do, but being super strong is actually kinda awesome. I mean, I'm not completely feeble - I like to go on walks, I can move furniture around. But carrying a couch when I move in is probably the most exhausting thing I'd done in my life. I was more about the world of the mind - getting lost in books, watching the plot of a favorite movie unfold, the character development in the latest season of my cartoons. Oh, man, Diana and Frederick last week-- er, right. Super Strength.

I mean, first off, I can carry basically anything I want with me? Like, if you've ever tried to lug a computer and monitor to a LAN party, it's not an easy task. Me, everything is portable. Don't need a laptop, I've got my desktop in my bag.

You're super popular any time someone needs to move, too. And it's like, zero effort. I've carried a couch in each arm, and just walked a couple miles to the new place, no sweat.

And endurance! When everything is effortless, you pretty much never get tired. I can sprint for an hour and not get winded. I don't even bother with a bike, these days. Too much hassle, not enough gain.

Okay, and the secret perk? No one expects the scrawny geek to fight back. Wandering around campus after hours, trying to get mugged. Yeah, it's risky. I'm not invulnerable. But I can swing a tree. Trees are remarkably effective in a knife fight.

Well if he has a gun I give him my wallet. Geez. Being strong doesn't make you stupid! That's an awful stereotype.
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Erovoyant (#43)

I mean, no, of course I can't make her attracted to you. People who practice the forbidden arts don't go around advertising in the classifieds! What I can do is tell you whether she's actually attracted to you. Y'know, in the old fashioned, respects-her-consent kind of way?

Yeah, I thought you were a good kid. Sorry to be short with you, but you wouldn't believe how often I have to explain things to the police. Nah, I don't need to see her. It's a sorta... well, clairvoyance lets you see things elsewhere? Erovoyance is the ability to sense love elsewhere.

No, no, I don't need her physical location. I mean, how do you even know that? No, nevermind. I don't want to know. But I'm going to call you out on being kinda creepy, man. Love isn't about the physical paths, it's about the emotional and social connections. Talk to me about how you know her, when you saw her last, whether she even knows you exist. No no, it's fine if she doesn't. It's all just part of locating her.

Uh huh. Uh huuuuh. Yeah. Uhm.

Tell you what, you and her aren't going to work out. No no, it's, uh... it's not her. She's... ahem. It's not about her. Now, you and the barista at that coffee shop where you see her.

Yes, I am aware that he's male.

Yes, I am aware that you're male.

Yeeeees. That's the idea. Glad to be of service :)

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