Author Archives: Nathan Boutwell

Ashe Family Tree

 

Blue represents Ashes by birth.
Peach represents women who married into the family.
Yellow represents our three heroines.

William Ashe immigrated from Birmingham, England, to bring his considerable knowledge of steel mill engineering to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Miles, Eugenia, and Albert were born in Birmingham, UK. Leonard and Claiborne were born in Pittsburgh, US.

Yes, Leonard robbed the cradle!

Clifford Ashe was killed at the Battle of the Bulge in World War Two.

Mary Groover died too young of cancer.

After service in the early stages of the Vietnam War, Robert Ashe relocated to Parthenon, where he joined the police force and established the family there.

Catherine Henderson is a full blooded Shawnee, and one of the first American Indian models. Post-transformation Katie looks astonishingly like she did in her early twenties, except for her hair and eye color. All blood Ashes have blue eyes.

Stephen died in the line of duty during a botched bank robbery turned hostage situation.

Barbara Toliver ran off with a gangster, and never contacted her family again. No one knows if she’s even still alive. That is the core of Jessie’s problems.

Katie is named for her father’s parents. Steph is named for her parents. Jessie … her mother was a whackjob. Teal?

Thusla Altman

Thusla Altman. That’s his name now. He has had many in his long life. It’s a play on the name Methuselah and the German word for “old man.” His birth name sounds so odd in the 21st Century. It sounded odd in the Victorian Age. Ah, those were good times. So was the Renaissance.

He is an art professor at Parthenon State University. That’s his occupation now. If he actually wrote out his full resume, the job titles would include pirate, general, explorer, industrialist, mercenary, spy, and king. He was arguably the world’s first superhero, unless one counts Herakles, Samson, and Gilgamesh. Then, he called himself the Shadow. If he had known that name would be used for a popular radio character 100 years later, he would have trademarked it. His exploits inspired the creation of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Another mistake on his part. He should have engaged in shameless self-aggrandizement, but he’s wealthy enough as it is.

Professor Altman once believed humanity would change. Would get better. He was wrong. He sees now that people just don’t want to change. He’s given up on them. People are beneath his notice. Art is the only thing that matters. It’s the only thing that lasts and has any truth or beauty.

Except for one person. She was his prize student. A little sick girl who spent her time painting fantasy scenes and drawing comics. There was something special about her. A drive for something beyond mere avarice. He told her, “You keep following your passion. Passion is the core to art. Don’t let the department beat the passion out of you. If some professor tries, you tell him I said to go to hell.”

He ran into that girl not too long ago. Literally. They collided on the street. Had she ever changed! She recognized him and called him by name. When he asked how they knew each other, she stammered “I saw you on TV.” Except Professor Altman had never been on television.

As the girl walked away, Altman thought, “I’m an artist, young lady. I never forget a pair of eyes. Miss Catherine Ashe. Now, where did you get that new face and body?”

It didn’t take him long to associate Katie Ashe’s new face and body with the new heroine Valkyria. He had painted so many women’s bodies, clothed and unclothed, and so many faces, he saw right through her costume.

“So, you’re another fool who thinks she can change the world,” he said to himself. “You poor, demented little girl. I shall have to keep my eye on you.”

Thusla Altman. Is he friend? Is he foe? Or is he something else?

Thunder

Name: Michael Donner

Code Name: Thunder

Age: 37

Weight: 245

Height: 6’4”

Eyes: Brown

Hair: Brown

Nationality: American

Occupation: Mercenary

Michael Donner was a sergeant in the US Army Rangers. He was a good one, and highly decorated. He did two tours of Iraq, one of Afghanistan, and the rest of his record is highly classified. If Donner had one problem, it was boredom. He lived for the adrenaline rush of danger.

Donner heard of a Super Soldier project that wanted volunteers. It sounded like fun. So, he volunteered. The project failed miserably. No one was malformed, the serum simply didn’t work. Except on one volunteer: Donner. His strength increased five fold. So did his senses. His skin became resistant to bullets and explosives. More than that, his mind exponentially expanded. He became a master field tactician, capable of thinking far ahead of any opponent and making decisions on the fly.

The Army moved him to Black Ops. After three years of doing things no one talks about, he said “The hell with this. If I’m going to assassinate people, I want to get paid!” So, he left the Army and became a mercenary, named Thunder for the English meaning of his last name.

Thunder specializes in protection and neutralization. The greater the danger, the happier he is. And he’s expensive! He won’t budge for under one million dollars per job. He guarantees success, so he’s quite wealthy now. He works alone, and only takes orders directly from the client. All contracts are verbal to avoid a paper trail, and the client knows to pay him.

He does have ethics. He will not kill children for any reason. He only kills women who pose a direct threat to his client. He only kills animals that pose a direct threat to him. He only kills civilians if they get in his way. He does not smoke, won’t gamble, refuses medications including pain killers, permits himself one beer per week, and only has sex with prostitutes. They’re in it for the money like he is.

He also has a terrible weakness. Donner has a conscience. The super soldier project actually expanded it, too. He hates the way people hate each other. More than that, he hates the way the Earth is being destroyed. One day, he wants to wipe out humanity to save the planet. The next, he weeps over people. Some nights, he sits in his bar, drinking one beer, and threatening to become an ecoterrorist, or a Buddhist monk. Then, someone dangles money and excitement in front of his face.

Ricochet

Sherman Jones.
Sports Illustrated called him the most beautiful gymnast who ever lived. Six gold and one silver medals at the Olympics proved their point.
Then, he was sprayed with enriched uranium. Instead of killing Sherman, the radiation mutated his rare second Y chromosome. Now, he has skin and muscles like rubber. If he was beautiful before, he’s perfect now.
Sherman loves his job. Both of them. By day, he’s a mathematics professor at Parthenon State University. He’s the professor the kids all want because he makes it make sense. Just don’t expect Dr. Jones to wear a fedora. By night, he’s Ricochet, Parthenon’s first superhero, and partner to Valkyria, Whysper, and Strykana. Those girls are like family to him. He’s bulletproof. With his knowledge of math, he can set himself up like a human pool trick shot and take down five gangsters with one bounce. Stopping is the problem.

Amanda Darkmoon

Lady Amanda Darkmoon. She is a Wiccan high priestess, and owner of Goddess Gems and Books. She is also the on-call expert on the occult for Parthenon Police Department. Even the Organized Crime Department needs the help of an herbalist from time to time. While Bob Ashe has lab boys who can identify a poison, Amanda can identify the source. “Oleander? It’s only found in two places in the entire county. The Botanical Gardens and Alec Vandiver’s backyard.”

Amanda also serves as Katie’s spiritual mentor. When an agnostic has to acknowledge the existence of a real goddess, who else does she turn to?

Above all, Amanda is Bob’s girlfriend, if one can call a 36 year old woman a “girl.” They have a ten year professional relationship that turned into friendship which turned into romance. Amanda is now an official honorary Ashe Girl. Jessie let it slip that Amanda spends many nights in Bob’s bedroom. The whole family eagerly awaits the day they can drop the word “honorary.” Take a hint, Bob!

The Original

October 25, 2009

Gayle stepped out of the bathroom. “So, what do you think?” she asked. She performed a full circle to let her husband see her Halloween costume in its fullest.

“Is that what you’re wearing to the ball?” Stephen asked, as well as he could considering his mouth hung open.

“Mm hmm. Don’t you like it?”

“Sweetheart, if you wear that, we’re leaving the party early!”

Gayle looked crestfallen. “Why?”

“Because we’re checking into the Acropolis for the rest of the night,” Stephen said. “I always wanted to bang a superheroine.”

“Oh! You naughty boy! Well, bring that big cop body over here and I’ll show you how to take it off me,” Gayle said with a purr in her voice. “You can peel me like a banana.”

“Where are the girls?” Stephen asked, crossing the room to his wife. By the time he reached her, he had completely stripped.

“Watching cartoons.”

“Good. You’re about to get loud.”

“Please, please, please!”

Stephen slipped his arms around his wife and said, “You can leave the mask, gloves, and boots on. That’s damn hot! But the leotard is in the way.”

Gayle licked her lips and slid her hand to his firmness. “Yes, it is!”

Halloween 2009

Stephen and Gayle Ashe at the Policeman’s Halloween Ball, 2009.

Katie distinctly remembers that her mother dressed as a sexy witch when they left that night. Apparently, Gayle switched into an even sexier outfit. Now, Katie knows why her parents didn’t come home until noon the next day.

Stephen was killed two weeks later.

Gayle never had the heart to look at the costume again. She also didn’t have the heart to throw it away. We all know what she ended up doing with it. Katie has long since retired most of the costume for a more durable version, although she keeps the original mask. It helps her feel close to her parents when she’s on patrol, especially her late father. Although, she can’t decide knowing that costume caused her parents to get jiggy is darn cute or totally gross!

Granma and Gramps

Rounding out the Ashe Family with a Christmas portrait of Cathy Henderson Ashe and Robert Ashe, Sr. Granma and Gramps. The founders of the Ashe family in Parthenon. This is the lovely couple for whom Katie is named (Catherine Roberta).

Cathy is a full Shawnee. Her grand-niece is Stacy Henderson, the Haint. She was one of the first American Indian models. Thoroughly at home in nature and with her body, she often posed nude. She eschewed the hippies of her generation as “paleface copy cats who forgot the meaning of soap.” When her sons Steve and Bob were old enough, she went to work as an elementary school music teacher. She considers her greatest accomplishment to be getting fourth grade boys to sing “I Am Woman.” She is still a free spirit and is famous in the neighborhood for her Halloween costumes and displays.

Robert was born and raised in Pittsburgh. After two years in the Vietnam War as a Marine, he moved to Parthenon, where “every tree doesn’t have an Ashe up it.” He fell in love with Cathy at first sight, and somehow convinced the wildcat model to marry him. For a few years, he drove a furniture delivery truck, but it grew boring. So, Robert joined the Parthenon police force, and became a street beat cop. He held that position for forty years, refusing to be moved to the desk three times. His retirement party was gigantic, with over 350 people showing up to pay their respects to the peace officer who knew every street vendor, shoeshine man, and waitress in the downtown area.

Robert and Cathy have the marriage everyone wants. As they get older, they get cuter and more mischievous. Right now, they’re turning the backyard into a giant model railroad, just because they can. It hasn’t always been smooth. At first, Robert’s father Franklin opposed the marriage. Then, he met Cathy and decided he was just an old bigot who needed to change his ways. His uncle Newton refused to speak to him for five years for “marrying outside his own kind.” But Newt finally succumbed to Cathy’s charm, and a stern lecture from big brother Franklin. Cathy wanted more children, but after two miscarriages following Bob’s birth, Robert convinced her to call it quits.

Of course, the blackest day in their lives was when their son Stephen was killed. Robert didn’t cry at the funeral. Cops and former Marines don’t cry. In public. At home, it was different. That was the only time Cathy ever saw her husband get drunk.

Gramps and Granma know about the changes in Katie and Steph, and about their “night jobs” with Jessie. Robert isn’t quite sure what to do with his granddaughters, but he’s darn proud of them. He’s especially proud of Katie, the first Ashe to graduate from college. As for Cathy, she likes seeing herself in her granddaughter’s faces, even if they have to wear those horrible masks. At least they show cleavage and leg. She sure did at their age.

The Other Ashe Family

Bob thought his two children were adults. Right now, he isn’t convinced.

Parthenon police lieutenant Robert Groover Ashe, Jr. To Katie and Stephanie, he’s Uncle Bob. To Jessica and Bobby (Robert III), he’s Dad.

When Bob graduated from Parthenon High School, he followed his big brother, father, and grandfather and joined the US Marines. Upon finishing his service, he continued to follow the Ashe tradition and joined the Parthenon Police Department.

2009 was a horrible year for him. First, his big brother Stephen was killed in the line of duty. But Stephen died a hero cop, saving the lives of fourteen hostages and two thieves in a bank robbery gone bad. Bob could live with that. He couldn’t live with his wife running off with another man, and a gangster at that. Worse, Barbara never looked back, never contacting Jessie or Bobby again. Finally, that was the year Zachariah Kane rose to power as Parthenon’s boss of bosses, transforming the city from the cultural capital of the Mid-Atlantic into a cesspool of organized crime.

Bob threw himself into work in the Organized Crime Bureau, becoming a workaholic, and an alcoholic. Jessica felt abandoned by both parents, and turned to self-destruction. Bobby chose a healthier outlet for his pain; school. He became a star wide receiver for the Gifford Pinchot High football team, and graduated with a 3.98 GPA. He was the first of two successive Ashes to be class valedictorian (Stephanie followed him the next year). Upon graduation, Bobby joined the Marines. It’s an Ashe family tradition. Distant from his father and sister, his relationship with them is more formal. Bob and Jessie are proud of him, though. It looks like Bobby is going career.

Fortunately, Bob sobered up (literally) when Jessie was a senior. He patched up his relationship with her, and now Jessie is the Daddy’s Girl she always wanted to be. Bob taught her jiu jitsu, helping her earn a black belt. He also taught her marksmanship and all the police skills she wanted to learn. As a result, Jessie is the best shot and best detective of the Ashe Girls.

Bob is a straight-arrow cop and a hero cop. Kane labeled him “untouchable” and not just because he can’t be bribed. He’s so good at what he does that Kane would just as soon not attract his attention. Even so, Bob started drinking again and was ready to quit the force in frustration. He could gather bulletproof evidence and build an ironclad case for the DA, only to watch the suspect walk on a “technicality.” The revolving door justice system, the result of lucrative mob money, almost broke him.

Then, this purple clad blonde miracle appeared. Somehow, Valkyria got ahold of a list of corrupt judges and sent it to the newspaper. Things turned around. His cases stick and mobsters go to prison. His life is so good now that he started dating. Finally. His love interest is Lady Amanda Darkmoon, Wiccan high priestess, consultant to PPD on all things occult, and Katie’s spiritual mentor. The rest of the family is overjoyed that Bob finally put Barbara in the past, where she belongs.

Bob is aware that his nieces are Valkyria and Whysper, and that his daughter is Strykana. He would love to tell Jessie to hang up the leotard and not put herself in any danger. But she’s good at her job. Besides, he has never seen her this happy.

Now, if she will just stop tickling her kid brother, they can have lunch.

Just Keep Walking

“Just keep walking,” Stephanie said as she began her second lap around the neighborhood, dragging her cousin next to her.

Jessica groaned and snapped, “I’m fine, dammit!”

“You’re feeling better. Your language is getting worse,” Steph said, snickering.

“Let me sit down!”

“No!”

“I’m going to kill you, Twerp!”

Steph sighed. She knew something was wrong when she saw Jessie limping home after a night busting up a car theft ring. Not just limping, but walking bow-legged. Worried about her cousin, Steph drove over to Uncle Bob’s house. She found Jessie lying on the couch, naked, with a bag of frozen peas between her thighs. If the mechanic didn’t feel like rebuilding an engine, and had called in sick, then she was definitely injured. The youngest Ashe knew the signs, having done the same thing in eighth grade. “I didn’t tell you to try one of my air splits last night, Jessie.”

Jessie growled, “If you can do it, I can do it.”

“Aren’t we a little old for cousin rivalries?” Steph asked, vainly trying to control the urge to giggle. “You sprained your groin muscle and a stomach muscle. Look, Jessie. You’re in top physical shape, but I’m trained as a cheerleader. I placed first in state in the air split last year. It’s my signature move. Now, keep walking. It’s the best thing to do.”

“Fuck!” Jessie snarled.

“You won’t be doing that.”

“Shit!”

“That won’t be comfortable, either.”

The Cook and the Cheerleader

Katie and Stephanie see something around the corner they don’t like. Another ten feet, and those beasts will see inside the nightclub. Then, those girls will be a smorgasbord. It’s time for the cook and the cheerleader to become Valkyria and Whysper. It’s an easy change for Steph. All she has to do is turn off the hologram projecting her old appearance onto her new body. Katie has a problem. Lives are more important than her modesty, and there isn’t an available restroom nearby to change in. So, once again, she’s going to shred her clothes and fight naked.