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Literature / Bystander

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Lucretia wearing the outfit she picked for her first meeting with her parole officer.

"I'm just a bystander."

Empaths. Superstrength. Kung Fu Masters.

There is a word for people like that. A pre-packed fluffy-feeling word the government’s spin doctors had come up with.


Lucretia had her own words for her peer group: freaks of nature, science projects, and fanatics. They were all the people that had been born, transformed or self-willed into something that should have been bizarre, but was becoming less so.

All she wanted to do was live an unnoticed life in her brownstone, working at the library and chasing down idiot cops who took her books on stakeouts.

Of course, there are problems with that, such as the fact that she's considered an interesting research specimen by some of the more amoral companies. Her tendency to stick her nose in where it probably shouldn't be. A love-hate relationship with various alcoholic beverages.


Oh yes, and the fact that she's still on parole.

Bystander is a self-published novel written by Luke "Thrythlind" Green and set in 2035 Seattle detailing the plight of superpowered parolee Lucretia, starting with her interfering with a bank robbery and blowing outward from there.

Free chapters are available here.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Attention Whore: Inverted. Lucretia feels that acting like this is the best way to get people not to pay attention.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • When first seen wearing at least part of her assigned armor, Robles complains that she wonders what the designers were thinking to give a highly distinctive and unique sort of armor to an undercover operative.
    • The 2011 Tourney had been a revolutionary design when it had come out, making use of new discoveries to add a recycling feature to the basic hydrogen cell design, converting some of the water byproduct back into hydrogen to refill the cell. Unfortunately, the technologies involved, mostly in composites and alloys, were far too expensive for mass production. Few could afford what was meant to be a vehicle for the general population, and by the time the revolutionary design could be supported economically, technologies had moved past it, and there was no reason to go back to it. In addition as production stopped on it, the cost of maintenance started to go up sharply, which meant that it tended to require a lot of expense. The amount of paper it consumed in receipts and bills, in combination with the considerably sized round bump between the seats and the trunk as well as the six-wheeled frame gave the vehicle a unique nickname. Termite
  • Badass Normal:
    • Robles demonstrates quite thoroughly for Lucretia that she doesn't worry about Lucretia's powers.
    • Kali gives an even firmer demonstration with less regard for Lucretia's health.
  • Becoming the Mask: Karen Jasthi identifies more with her codename Kali
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Lucretia, despite wanting the world to more or less ignore her existence, will always find someway to talk herself into getting involved in emergency situations that appear in front of her. However, she'll do it in a way to keep her involvement unnoticed.
  • Cool Car: Robles' termite straddles this and The Alleged Car given that it's a 24 year old obsolete model that apparently costs her an arm and a leg to keep operational.
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl: Lucretia's favorite dresses reference various traditional guises and roles including: a kimono, a Victorian dress, a poodle skirt, a sexy secretary look, a faux prisoner outfit, a Native American themed dress and mention of an Arabic themed dress and a Chinese dress.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Lucretia has remarkable awareness of what is going on around her making trying to follow her directly too dangerous. Unfortunately she doesn’t seem to notice when someone around her is being watched. This is what let Isaiah find her so quickly
  • Friend to All Children: Lucretia drops some or all of her Jerkass attitude when faced with children.
  • Functional Alcoholic: Lucretia. She only drinks when she's partying. She just happens to drink a very, very large amount. And then burn her clothes.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: North American Military Alliance (NAMA)
    • The Goddesses - women trained to build and run mercenary organizations to do missions for NAMA with deniability.
  • Gun Fu: Robles and Kali. Goddess fighting is a cross between Aikido, knife fighting from The Hunted (Tommy Lee Jones) and normal pistol skills.
    • It has also been described as "give Legolas a hand gun"
  • Mundane Utility: It is mentioned a few times that most peaks have everyday jobs like waiter or construction worker.
    • Lucretia is one of the few whose current chosen profession is more difficult because of her powers. Since she has to claim dyslexia to explain reading issues and use a braille translating attachment device to read the computer screens.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: One use of the phrase "super villain" and no "meta" or "metahuman". Instead superhumans are called "peaks."
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Lucretia.
    Detective Assaf: Nothing in what the peak had done was an accident. From her entrance to her exit, she’d calculated each step to produce the desired result. She’d given the impression that she was flighty and incautious. The lawyer was supposed to know she was hiding something, but then she started acting in a manner disproportionate to the magnitude of what she was hiding. She’d let him dig her into a corner and gave her big reveal, which provoked the thug into action with the suddenness of her proclamation. All while making her look like an air-headed ex-con with a selfish streak.
  • Omni Glot: Lucretia speaks English, Japanese and French relatively natively but also demonstrates competence in Thai, Arabic and Latin. When asked how many languages she knows, she responds that she wasn't sure and just seems to pick them up.
    • Played with in that Lucretia speaks most of languages with understandable but poor grammar.
  • Only One Name: Lucretia
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Just because Perks started to appear didn't mean the world became subseptible to comic-book clichés like everybody feared. For example, while crimes by Peaks did happened, most police stations have at least one cell that is heavily reinforced and more secure to deal with the possibility of them.
  • Refusal of the Call: Lucretia refuses to get actively involved in life, preferring to exist mostly unnoticed and insignificant.
  • Regular Caller: Despite being ignorant of the larger call, Lucretia tends not to let trouble pass by without her doing something about it. Preferably in a way that makes her look like a jerk and grants someone else the credit for the save...or, even better, without people realizing she was involved at all.
  • Required Secondary Powers: According to Lucretia Super Strength is the only way a woman could maintain the Most Common Super Power without reality biting.
    Robles: How do you lug those things around without getting a back-ache?
    Lucretia: Because I could lift this car if I had to. Makes my little bit of extra-baggage up front about as heavy as crap in comparison.
  • Shock and Awe: The bad guys try to contain Lucretia this way
  • Skewed Priorities: After realizing that the bank she was in was about to be robbed, Lucretia made sure to deal with it so that she could get her check deposited.
  • Superpower Lottery: Lucretia by virtue of being the world's main character. Balanced by her total lack of fighting skill.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The racist garbage men who felt it was a good idea to attack Lucretia after she had just offhandedly flung one of them across the ally
  • Tsundere: Lucretia is normally an easy-going charge, aside from her tendency to lose her watchers at times, but there are times the girl could simply be a headache.
  • The Unmasqued World: "Peaks" were revealed to exist in the world some time before the story begins.
  • Useless Superpowers: Lucretia doesn't have much skill in using some of her powers and doesn't even know how some of them work.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Lucretia is fast and strong, but she can’t fight worth anything.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: A couple of different examples.
    • The Goddess avatars are personally made firearms with either hidden or attachable blades and reinforced for melee use.
      • Robles' avatar is designed to receive a large number of attachments to alter its use.
      • Kali's avatar has a poison reserve.
    • Sightseer is noted as a sniper.
    • Isaiah uses attack drones and gizmos.