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Pen Pals

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Steamtank
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Pen Pals

The card slid through the reader with a low *shiick* sound. As the light turned green the doctor dropped the card into the waste bin and stepped through the portal. Not a doorway portal, a literal portal. It was a short distance teleporter to what was claimed to be a low security non super white collar jail. That was a facade. Deep in its guts was an experimental rehabilitation facility for criminals with powers.

The doctor waved a hand over his face. A thin veil of mist enshrouded his head and obscured his features. It wouldn't be smart to let powered criminals know his name and face. He had a family after all and had heard horror stories of what happened to prison personnel families that were as the millennials put it "doxed".

The doctor rounded the hallway and entered the common area. Only criminals who had shown self restraint for at least a month were allowed into the commons. Allowing even low level thugs to congregate was dangerous, some of the supers locked up here were mass murderers.

Only two convicts sat in the commons. The doctor frowned under his mist mask. He had hoped for a few more participants. Looking over the two he immediately recognized the prisons longest serving inmate, Melody. She grinned at the doctor then pointed a thumb towards the other inmate and made a yuck face. Melody had been in the prison for three years after a catastrophic series of events had caused her to go insane killing many civilians and hurting several other supers. It was impressive for a teen. Melody was now legally an adult and the state wanted to see if she was capable of being 'turned good'. "Sup Dr. Fishbowl." Melody knew the doctors name but preferred the one she gave him. "It's Doctor Fre Melody, please do behave, this is your last chance. A lot of people do not like that you are in this program."

The other participant was a recent addition. Some plague specialist that may or may not be a real doctor. The plague doc had been rather quiet since his entry into the prison.

Pulling up list of hero volunteers, which was short considering the altruistic nature of supers Dr. Fre picked two off of it.

"Alright Melody, You have been matched up with Black Falcon. It should do you well to maybe talk to a woman near your power level who didn't take your current path. Whenever you finish your introduction letter let the guards know and they will send it."

Dr. Fre turned towards the Plague Doctor. "It would be much easier if you would finally give us your non super name if you plan to remain in this program long. You have been paired up with, heh, Rotten Luck. He is on parole himself so he might have some insight for you. Write about whatever you want, remember we do scan the letters first."

Dr. Fre turned and left the room. He had learned that spending too much time around the criminals usually led to them trying something or other. In his first month two years ago he had almost lost an eye to Melody when she attacked his mist with a spork to "see if it was solid". He was against her being in the program, but for some reason the paperwork had been approved.

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OOC: Once the Convicts post their letters then the heroes will get them and respond
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A bug like super folds its wings back into a cape like appearance and smiles at you. He? She? Its? smile is well, gross. Its voice, you decide male, is actually much nicer. "Doctor Fre says thank you for volunteering and this is your letter you should respond to." After a second the bug man reached into his purple fanny pack and pulled out a small button that resembled a fidget spinner and hands it to you. "Just place your letter under this, press the button, and it will be teleported to your convicts location. It only works once a week, wont teleport anything but paper. Doc says it will take at least five days to scan every letter for encrypted messages, spells, technology... you know, nefarious stuff. Writing more than once a week would cause a backlog anyway." The bugman smiles again, a gross greenish black ooze sliding down the side of his mouth. He wipes it off on the back of his hand and offers to shake yours. Realizing his hand is ooze covered he shrugs apologizes and takes off.

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"With all due respect...

"With all due respect... doctor... the Plague Doctor IS my name...." he responded as soon as Dr. Fre asked for his real name.

The Letter:

To Rotten Luck, If I'm going to be honest with you, I have no idea where I am, in all honesty this whole operation makes no sense to me what so ever. A place for criminals to live? How absurd... who would benefit from this, and a mail system to the outside world? In all honesty this sounds like a trap, but I need information. As far as I know I can only get that from someone outside, and assuming this isn't a trick to gain access to my secret formulas, that someone may be you. You see I've been having memory troubles. I remember pieces of a former life. I don't know if it was mine, I just know I remember it, and this world is so confusing, different and yet familiar to me. Like a world I vaguely remember but wrong in so many places. I need to know how it's like out there. I can pay you handsomely, I remember a stash of currency I used to own. I can give you the coordinates, it isn't stolen, I don't think but it was from before I can remember. A college fund? Doesn't matter now. I just need to know if you can find out where I am.

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Melody writes-

Melody writes-

Dear F**kface,

I was only given your operator handle and told you are a lady. I'm glad that muh gender is the reason we were matched up. We can unite under girl power. So hows your day been? I smeared a booger on the back of a pillow belonging to some creep inmate that goes by plague doctor. I don't think he noticed. He seems like he got a hero fist to the brain before coming here. This is my first letter to someone living in nearly two years. So whats popular in the music scene right now? Whose in charge out there? Why am I allowed to write to people?

Hell for all I know I am just writing to Dr. Fre and this is some sort of sick revenge for me trying to scoop his eye awhile back. So if this is you Fre, go f**k a goat.

We arn't allowed any real news or current tv shows. We are shown old Nick at Night reruns on a VHS that has no feed to the outside world. I swear if they play 'I love Lucy' tonight im going to flying knee the tv. Not sure about this whole can't be violent thing if I want to stay in the program.

So whats the deal with me getting out of here if I pass a psych eval and complete this program? That can't be right. I mean im not super excited about what I did, but im not exactly sorry either. Guess thats rehabilitated eh?

Hope you die,

Hugs n Kisses
Melody

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Dear Plague Doctor.

Dear Plague Doctor.

Well, I'm not sure what I can really tell you. I haven't a clue where you are except in one of the Ultramax holding locations in Titan City. Which location, where are any of them is I haven't a clue. As for benefits, well when people are in charge don't believe in death sentence those who are a danger to others have to be put somewhere. In time a criminal might change sides and aid the masses. It has happened before.

Technically I'm a reformed criminal myself. Nothing major or threating enough to end up where you are. I was just a normal guy in an illegal fight club till the organizers wanted me to throw a fight. Won instead, just happened to kill the kid that fought against me. Got into worst trouble after that but it's a long story.

There no need for me to take your money. The City pays well to those who help clean up toxic or radioactive locations. Even among the Superhero types, not many can really stand biohazards. Some of these supervillains mess with some deadly shit I tell you. Then again you might know a thing or two about such biological hazards yourself given you go by the name Plague Doctor. I also collect bounty taking down superpowered goons. As well as some business involving the supernatural. The School job doesn't pay enough to cover most of the bills, teachers get shafted worst than anyone.

Look if you really struggling with memory issues ask to speak to a lawyer. It is done in an isolated room with a close circlet monitor or at least I'd bet my left arm it would be. Memory issues could be a sign someone tampered with your brain. A mind reader, or chemical control, heck even magic could result in someone's mind being scrambled. You might have to submit to a brain scan to see if indeed the area of your brain for memories are not fully working order. I kind of figure you wouldn't accept a telepathic scan.

Truth is I haven't heard of you but if you are in a Ultramax either you done something life threating, or were found to have something that outlawed and possed a threat great enough to be considered a weapon of mass destruction. I do some searching on the internet to see if something comes up. Cape Chasers sometimes have stuff even the feds don't. Heck, I might still have some street cred and see if the criminal side of law and order know a thing or two.

Signed Ron "Rotten Luck" Bolton.

--------------------------

Rotten finishes the letter and sends it off. "Hmm wonder if I can trace it with a touch of Hel magic..." He shakes his head and headed to the computer room. As he passes a chamber he tries to ignore the fact Misty was dancing and flashing her thong undergarments to anyone that looked in.

"Computer do a full Internet scan for any record of a Plague Doctor. Include Cape Chasers and access the computer at hideout 13 passwords 'Hel Loves Pretty Pink Pony Princess' use that with encryption code 42. Access Hotwire's CrimeNet for Plague Doctor as well." He was glad he still had that Hideout and even paid Hotwire for the CcrimeNet account. That reminds him he needs to have his last winnings transferred to another bank.

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(Faxes copy to Dr Fre)

(Faxes copy to Dr Fre)
Melody,
Well, this is an interesting start.
To your last point, No, that is not rehabilitation. You have a long way to go.
re: television and news. Better privileges come with better behavior. You've been there a number of years, you should know this.

Change comes not with powers, but with attitude. You can make the changes you want. Rehabilitation and eventual freedom comes with treating others with respect - even if they never notice it. This is letter writing thing an opportunity, take advantage of it.

As to the outside world, it goes on being wonderful. Music is just as great as you remember it.Titan city had an international food festival and I loved it. People in charge come and go. There are more heroes than ever in the city.

A free life is a wonderful incentive. Reach for it, Melody.

Black Falcon.
(enclosed is a page with a quote)

ATTITUDE

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.

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Melody read the letter twice.

Melody read the letter twice. She was not very good at things like codes or encryption. It seemed like every other super powered person she had met was some sort of techno-phile. Her ability to operate tech was limited to selfies and basic emails. She gave up trying to read anything deeper in the letter and tossed it on her pillow. Even if a code was hidden in it she wasn't as smart as whoever it was assigned to read the letter before she got it.

Well at least it wasn't from Dr. Fre. His writing style was much different. She snorted thinking about Fre putting feelings before facts. This goody gum-drop hero Melody had been told to write to clearly had no idea what life was like on the inside, or why most who went in came out worse.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My dearest Abigail,

All is well on the front. We have pushed the union lines back to the foothills of West Virginia. How I miss the smell of your sweet peach cobbler and long to see the farm again.
Just kidding, hope you get your face punched in trying to stop a robbery.

One year of solitary confinement. Three Hundred Sixty Five days with no sound of a human voice. Have you ever tried to not talk for an entire day? Have you ever been put in a room where no action you do causes noise? I think you need to understand my ability to understand why that was my home for an entire year.

I control the four primary elements. The problem is I can't control my power without music. Listening is best, creating will make due. You know the myths of rain dancers? Not really a myth. My family line had a mutation generations ago. Not everyone inherits it, but my dad did. He came to Titan City because he figured he could help people. Met a girl, she had powers, and nine months later we got me, a vastly superior powered rain dancer. Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.

Guess what they do with supers who break the rules but can do things on the level I can? They put you in a small room devoid of whatever it is you need to function on the meta level. I didn't even have my first psych eval until six months in. I remember that door opening. I could feel sound come back into the room. I almost escaped. They were not prepared for me to be less than either docile or a raving lunatic. TCP isn't as clean as they want everyone to think. I know they pulled some strings to keep me in that room longer than normal.

Did you know these detention centers employ some of the most interesting powered people and things around? My blocks lead guard isn't very strong on a super level. He does have one of those annoying suppression powers though that blocks biological based abilities. Calls himself Captain Deadstop or some crap-tastic name. His name sucks, but he was brave and all that crap. If he hadn't gotten within five feet of me I would have blown a hole out of this place and been gone. I can;t figure how to get to him though because they pair him with a time warped robot or some shit whose unaffected by biological ability stoppage. I don't pretend to be "science".

I'll give you something to ponder yourself since you don't seem to think I am rehabilitated, TCP doesn't think I am rehabilitated, Dr. Fre doesn't think i'm rehabilitated, and I am not pretending to be rehabilitated. Why are they telling me completing this program will get me out? You all have a lot of future problems on your hands if someone like me is being fast tracked for release.

Hugs n Kisses,
Melody.

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Dear Mister Bolton,

Dear Mister Bolton,

I don't know what game you are playing sir, but it's clear to me that you're lying. I have offered you coin, cheap and easy money in exchange for a small favour for me. There is no reasonable explanation to me, that seems more real than you simply being an illusion for someone else's benefit. A hired actor being paid more than I can offer for one simple purpose. Whoever has hired you wants the fruits of my genius to bend to his personal will. I will find out where I am on my own then, and when I escape, these streets will glow green with toxin.

Signed, The Plague Doctor

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Dear Doctor.

Dear Doctor.

Well, that right there is why you are locked up. I looked into your arrest and you were releasing toxins in a homeless shelter. That is so wrong on so many levels. I remember that location I helped clean up your mess.

Now I thought I made it clear I am well funded. At this point, a bulk of cash for any reason would be useless. If I need funds I just ask the Goddess who enchanted me for the location of the nearest sunken treasure ship and I go swimming. I doubt you have more than a Spanish treasure ship.

I am unkillable, I am immortal in a sense. I still be walking the planet when the U.S. Dollar is worthless. Being enchanted by a Goddess I have to follow her rules, and I'm fairly sure I would suffer in many ways if I do something she thinks is dishonorable. Taking your cash is one of thing I think she would consider a negative.

Beyond that I said I don't have an idea what location you are in or where any of the Ultramax cells are located. So taking your money without a clue of finding the information would be wrongful to you as well.

Perhaps that is why I was assigned to you I can't be bribed, or threatened with harm.

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Melody.

Melody.
You said, "Why are they telling me completing this program will get me out?"
It may be that they see more potential in you than you are aware of yourself. Interaction and respect shown for others is a key to change. Uncontrolled powers are more a curse than a blessing.

What would you do if you had full control your powers? Would you make it rain in a drought stricken land? Would you pull people from a burning building? It is easy to say what people want to hear...but what would you do with freedom? and isn't freedom an incentive to change?

As to release, I am in as much in the dark as you are. I am not in the program. But I know being able to interact with people on a normal level is a foundation you can build a life upon.

That "they" are even dangling freedom in front of you is a ray of hope. Hold on to that. This is not a time for defensive pride.
Falcon

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Dear Mister Bolton,

Dear Mister Bolton,

I only wanted one, I only needed one. I wasn't trying to poison him either and he would have been so much more if that witch hadn't stood in my way. Now that I think of it however, I should be dead by now, and yet I'm not. She attacked me, if it was a matter of self defense she would have just ran and left me with my prize, but no, she attacked me, and if it was because she wanted me dead then I would be dead. I'm not. It's all so clear to me now. I know where I am. That witch dragged me here!! She kidnapped me because she wants what I know!! She wants my power, my designs!! I'm right aren't I?

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Dear Mrs. Short and to the

Dear Mrs. Short and to the point,

WTF lady? I get to communicate with one person and you are the dullard they pair me with. Holy dear baby jesus in a shitty diaper. Your letter is the only new thing I get to read for a whole week. I hope you wrote me a damn book and they redacted it or something. Arn't you supposed to be a hero? Save me obi-wan.

You must not have read up on my file or anything. Way to half ass this assignment. I have control of my power. What would I do if I got out. I would burn every Aether Pirate from their stupid blimps. The sky would rain corpses as justice would finally be served to them. You and your lot let them get away with crime and they have no long term consequences.

I still haven't figured out why we are paired up. You sound so generic "atta boy" in your letters. Is your super power being a lead brick? What do you even do? We don't get many new inmates, the stupid witch doctor or whatever he is in this program is some schemer or something. He couldn't escape out of a wet paper bag. Im so bored.

Entertain me,
Melody.

Supporting how I can, Starting up a DA group for art, stories, and concepts to be collected
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Ron read the latest letter

Ron read the latest letter from the Plague Doctor. "Crap they got me writing to one of these whacko types? Not a normal crook but a pure loon." He set the paper down and rubbed his temple.

That when he felt the mummified cat Cleo rub against his leg. He reached down and petted her. "It's alright your highness just a letter from a crazy man. Nothing ah haven't handled before. At least this one behind bars."

He then started his reply.

Dear Doctor.

Alright, Doc if that what you believe then you might not want to write about it. You are in that place because you broke the law. If she had killed you she would have broken the law and would be in that place instead. No matter what you think of the laws it's what's on the books.

Now, how about something relaxing. Latest news is some guys with robots did a protest march that turned into one heck of a fight. They even got that old hero D-Day to show up. Wished I could have seen the action from the start. I had to make a run for supplies before I joined in the brawl.

Ron Bolton.

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Black Falcons forwards a copy

Black Falcons forwards a copy of the last letter to The Doctor.
She then sends a three year old copy of People Magazine to Melody. Writes on the cover, "Entertained?"