The Great Escape Ch6 bit – Blackmail

“Uzume’s Ashikabi is barely listed in MBI files, much less those provided by SHIELD,” Jarvis stated. “All they have is a name: Chiho Hidaka. However, information I have been provided by a reliable source indicates that Miss Hidaka is this young lady.”

A scatter of snapshots, all of a frail girl with light brown hair; in a wheelchair, in a bed, resting sleeping against a tree on what was obviously a hospital lawn.

“Miss Hidaka has a severe and rare illness that confines her to Hiyamakai Hospital in Shinto Teito,” Jarvis stated. “Which is run by-”

Bruce winced. “Higa?”

“Higa Pharmaceuticals,” Jarvis agreed. “A bit of… nonstandard access to the hospital records allowed me to confirm she is listed as a charity case, chronic illness, very likely to be terminal without constant treatment. Paid for by Izumo Higa.”

Who’s making you do this? Tony could hear Kagari’s bewilderment, and fury. “Blackmail.” He bit the word out, trying not to taste it. There ought to be a special hell for people like that. “No wonder they’re running. They’re not safe even if they’re winged. Even after they got those trackers off – if Higa gets his hands on Minato, he can do that to them.”

“Correct,” Jarvis said soberly. “However, I fear the situation is worse than that. A few minutes ago, Minaka sent this message to all the Ashikabi who did not take the chance to remove their trackers.”

“Sorry! Time’s up for the Tesseract event…!”

Tony watched. And blinked. Took a breath, and pushed down the boiling fury for later. “Jarvis? When we get people somewhere safe, find out if there’s any construction companies that’d like some help with large-scale demolition. I think we could all stand to break something.”

32 thoughts on “The Great Escape Ch6 bit – Blackmail

  1. … nonstandard access

    You can say hacking, Jarvis. You are with friends.

    There ought to be a special hell for people like that.

    Agreed.

    if Higa gets his hands on Minato, he can do that to them.

    Yes, he would.

    Heck, he probably wants to. Gaining control over another Ashikabi who has one or two Sekirei is one thing – one with five (six) Sekirei like Minato? Something else entirely and will say something about his threat level to the other Ashikabi. AND Higa is smart enough to understand the stragetic value of having control over Minato and his Sekirei – there are five (six) of them, three (four) of which are SINGLE numbers.

    I think Minato has the most single numbers in his flock.

    Tony watched. And blinked. Took a breath, and pushed down the boiling fury for later.

    Minaka is a bastard.

    In other news, water is wet.

    I think we could all stand to break something.”

    And how. Break it a lot.

    Especially when you want to break someone and said someone is inconveniently out of tearing apart range.

    Maybe, until the glorious day happens, we should get them some dummies or punching bags and tape his picture on them when you don’t have something else to destroy and you really need to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >You can say hacking, Jarvis. You are with friends.>
      Plausible deniability.

      Tony gets enough hot water as it is. Considering that legally Jarvis might not be considered a person in the MCU, knowledge that this sort of ‘nonstandard access’ of confidential information occurred could lead to difficulties for Tony and Stark Industries in general.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “I don’t know everything my pet AI is hacking into, which sometimes includes competition, or all the sources for the information he provides me, which sometimes informs my business decisions.” Yeah, that’s basically Liability City.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. >we should get them some dummies or punching bags and tape his picture on them when you don’t have something else to destroy and you really need to.>

      Maybe Cap can share where he gets his bags from.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d skip the theater and switch it to grimdark writers myself,but YMMV.(Is it asking too much for an upbeat series? I DON’T like puella Magi or Game of Thrones at all.So WHY is everyone copying them?)

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    1. If you want hopeful, uplifting books where the good guys always win, even if it’s bittersweet, try reading the Books of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey. I warn you, they aren’t books for kids. There’s some torture scenes, character deaths, and one of the bad guys is explicitly stated to have a…liking for small girls. But they’re very optimistic and hopeful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A more recent writer (than Lackey) is Rachel Neumeier who dislikes grimdark and acknowledges good and bright. And her urban Were series has a feel I find close to A Net of Dawn’s feel. It goes by Black Dog Mostly writes standalones (which is a recommendation on its own), but has that UF broken masquerade set of 4 (so far), and a trilogy featuring some very interesting griffons and unusual magic.

        I have issues with Lackey, and also think her writing and continuity went seriously downhill about the time she got involved with her husband. Certainly the Valdemar books with his illustrations are worse. I’d say read the first two published trilogies and stop.

        I can also recommend Alma Boykin’s Alexi tales, shorts or novellas of Russian fairy tale creatures in modern Colorado. The first one I couldn’t resist the title: When Chicken Feet Cross the Highway. And went on with the rest as they came out, now available in an omnibus. Some are better than others, but I enjoy them all. Alexi is very aware of the rules of fairy tales which is how he survives Baby Yago. His kids didn’t necessarily listen when it was their turn, though.

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      2. Lackey’s also done some straight fantasy, in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series, which I think might suit your needs better; they’re deconstruction/reconstructions of fairy tales, and well done too. (I still read the Valdemar series, but I do think she’s suffering from more than a bit of series fatigue).

        And it may date back to the ’80’s, but what about the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce? The book-sets are Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, and Provost’s Dog (although that’s a prequel). SotL was really groundbreaking stuff at the time for female heroes (or ‘Sheroes’, as the old website was called). Some of the really early stuff suffers from Values dissonance a little bit (because of 1980’s writing conventions), but frankly, I still don’t think it’s that bad. IE in Lioness book 2, one of the heroine’s love interests steals a kiss from her while her hands are full, which tends to get people up in arms nowadays. They all seem to miss the point that her legs are free, she’s well balanced and trained in unarmed combat, so if she minded all that much, she could quite easily perform a Groin Attack, and both characters know this, even if it’s not spelled out in the text. Pierce also got a lot of heat for having a 14-year age difference in the main couple in a sequel series, but it’s very clear there’s no sexual grooming, and as Pierce points out, the heroine is at the era-typical marriage age when they become a couple. The people objecting also seem to miss the point that at this stage, the heroine has been living as a self-supporting adult for several years, including being an adoptive mother to a special needs child (a baby dragon).

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  3. Well, while it’s not a series, there’s always The Goblin Emperor, which has some dark spots, but ends the book with a tempered hope and light that puts me (and other people) in a good mood for days. There’s a reason it was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula. Ignore the description, which makes it sound grimdark.

    More seriously, we’re just coming off a period of deconstruction in both fantasy and horror, with a fairly shattered market, and Game of Thrones got a boost from the tv show even when people didn’t read the books(Which are actually fairly old, and in the middle of the 90s period of deconstruction). I think a lot of the issue is, it’s hard to do an upbeat series as a long fantasy series that is what they want to put on the shelf(Unless your name was Terry Pratchett), and too many people confusing dark for realistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the highest selling series on Earth right now is The Kurtherian Gambit, Michael Anderle’s ridiculous but fun series of unabashedly Mary Sue, wish fulfillment, techie playtoy books about good guy space vampires and their heavily armed friends. It’s so big that his friends’ authorized fanfic books are Amazon bestsellers too. He’s up to something like Book 19.

    So yes, there are upbeat series out there. And they are making ridiculously good money.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Another good author who writes on the brighter side would be Brandon Sanderson. His stories are usually very hopeful. His worldbuilding is amazing. He’s incredibly funny (a magic talking sword meant to slay evil… except what does a sword know about evil? “Psst, boss, I think that old lady is evil lets get her- cue owner’s facepalm). And his stories tend to end happily, with the worst being earn your happy ending most of the time.

      Oh and he’s a master of Chekov’s Anything.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I meant in terms of series that start out light and somewhat fluffy with a darker undertone. Then go straight to Warhammer instead of Dungeons & Dragons. Example: RWBY.Went from Final Fantasyish to Dark Souls in 1 season.

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  6. Hopefully it will regain some of its former attitude. RWBY went from one of my most anticipated anime to meh, another angstfest in 1 volume.

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    1. To each their own. I have found the more recent volumes to be quite enjoyable. They had villains that were competent and heroes/main characters that actually acted like real people in response to horrific events and extreme stress.

      Often in shounen manga and similar settings you might have a couple of scenes of the hero angsting from something bad and then the next moment he’s all “Rar! Rar!” back in the fight just in time to help the secondary characters who are getting their tails kicked without him. And that event that made him sad never comes up again.

      That’s not how trauma works. It takes time, support and encouragement for somebody to deal with such things. I mean after the six to eight month time-skip it was deliberately shown that one main character still had shakes and flashbacks in regards to what happened to her. Heck even after she ‘recovered’ it’s evident that she still has issues.

      And by competent villains I don’t mean like Aizen-style (everything you have done has been expected/planned for) BS. Yes some of the plan in volume 3 required the expected actions of a hero but only the broad strokes. Also hen they found information that could make the plan better they acted on it.

      Heck the Big Bad is even highly pragmatic and savvy without falling into the massive pits of ego that so often dominant adversarial characters in fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry about that. RWBY was a breath of fresh air when dealing with an A*****e management & various other stresses. Hopefully I’ll like Seasons 4&5.

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      2. Ah, you’ve only seen volumes one through three. Sorry about the spoilers then.

        After this Saturday you’ll be able to marathon all of four and five since the episodes will all be up for free.

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    2. Have you seen No Game No Life? It’s an upbeat series about two gamer NEETs who get transported to a fantasy world where god has forbidden fighting of any kind and all conflict is resolved through games. It’s more than a little cheesy and definitely earns its ecchi tag (one of the main characters, an eleven year old girl, ends up wearing another girl’s panties on her head for part of an episode; excusing it with the, obviously false, claim that she is too young to know any better), but the art style is both different and beautiful and the parts where it decides to be serious for a short minute are pretty heartwarming.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. okay, this kinda bugs me. but he isn’t using blackmail, he is using extortion.

    Blackmail is making demands from someone in return for not revealing compromising information.

    Extortion is making demands from someone by force or threats.

    considering that the A$$hole is threatening Uzume’s Ashikabi to make his demands, i’m pretty sure it is Extortion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But part of it is blackmail. He’s also promising not to reveal where Chiho is. There is a lot of nasty things that could happen if he revealed Chiho’s location to certain nasty elements of society. And by keeping Chiho in the hospital, it not only keeps her alive for medical reasons, it hides her.

      If he weren’t using that as a lever to force Uzume to work for him, it would almost be noble.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Mmmm… no, still not blackmail. Blackmail, by definition, (unless I’ve missed an update to the dictionary) is threatening to reveal the victim’s *guilt* of some crime, or something that would make them unpopular. Pulling a protection racket on Chiho’s location (“Cute Ashikabi you have there, be a shame if… somehow… Dangerous People found out where, and how vulnerable, she is….”) still falls on the extortion side of the dividing line.

    I keep waiting for Tony to say “Pepper… CALL MY LAWYERS.” Because (part of) this is a job for Tony Stark, not Iron Man. Sadly, Stark probably can’t grind MBI into the dirt, b/c Minaka can probably afford just as many lawyers. But with (most of?) the Sekirei out of Japan, Tony can probably match Minaka lawyer-for-lawyer and keep things stalemated.
    The killsats, now? That’s a job for Iron Man. And if Tony isn’t already planning on a space-capable, killsat-killing armor upgrade, I’ll eat this keyboard.
    As for the D-Squad? “They’re not breakable. So go have fun, Big Green.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aaaannnd now I have the image of Tony and Pepper (over)acting out a scene, like some kind of inside joke between them:

      Pepper: *mock-gasps* Tony, no!
      Tony: *incredibly cheesy laughter* Tony, yes!

      Liked by 2 people

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