Like a piece of flotsam tumbling through white water rapids, Sean staggered through the cacophony and chaos of the crowd. Sounds seemed louder, sharper and more resonant, colours so incredibly vibrant and saturated that everything was nearly a blur, anything or anyone pressing against his tight and itching skin made him shudder. Disoriented and feeling so light and weightless, it felt like he was having to learn how to walk all over again, and was only having imperfect success.
Though he was stone cold sober, he was vaguely aware of people looking at him as though he was drunk or high. Having little experience being either, Sean imagined this might be how it might feel, except for throbbing torment. The pain should have been dulled to nothing, shouldn't it?
Somehow, Sean managed to make it outside, the cool air on his cheeks both sharp and soothing, grounding him slightly. He breathed, deep and slow, nausea easing, and rubbed his eyes, though his vision was still blurry. It wasn't as busy as he thought it would be, the press of people distinctly lighter than he had experienced at or near the end of a hockey game.
He figured people hadn't left the fight yet, wanting to hear the decision or see the winner crowned, or whatever. He would have liked to watched Brigit Moran claim her victory, but he just couldn't. He was just wanted to sleep until the permeating pain pulsing through his bones, muscles, and skin went away. He'd would have considered just soaking in a bath, if it didn't feel like it would have been too much effort to run one, and wouldn't have to worry about drowning in it.
Luckily, he was able to flag down a taxi. Some bastard was about to steal his cab, but at Sean's venomous and uncompromising glare, the guy was practically catapulted onto his ass. Sean slumped into the back seat, taking two attempts to tell the driver which hotel he was at. When the taxi dropped him off at the circular drive into front of his hotel, Sean almost wept as he looked up at the edifice towering over him, his bed seeming so far away, too bright lights lighting the exterior wringing tears from his eyes.
He dragged himself into the lobby, feeling heavy now rather that weightless, waving off the offer of help and more fell into the elevator than stepped. Amazingly, he hit the right button for his floor, and more amazingly, got off on the right floor too. It took three tries to get his keycard into the lock but the beep and the light changing from red to green brought a choked gasp of relief from his throat.
Sean wavered forward, instinctively stripping himself free of his clothing, then fell into bed. He never felt himself hit the plush mattress, but just kept on falling and falling... a collage of gorgeous women sweeping passed him and breaking the darkness of his dreams. Brigit Moran, bright auburn hair and blue eyes, powerfully built and beautiful. Grace Williams, slender and elegant and well off with supermodel good looks. Brigit's tall blond promoter. The snarky and teasing red-headed Tara. Even Janet, a younger coworker who had no time for him unless she wanted something. Eva Zelenka, the Stormer Star of Kushiel's Legacy who seemed to know every fantasy in his head even through the monitor. And more
Always self-effacing and unassuming in his life, with only small ambitions, in the somnolent haze before deep sleep, Sean idly wondered what it would take to earn their attention, to earn some of the same attention they received from those around them...
Tara earned that tip. She wouldn't accept any cash for the ticket, so after taking his time with the caramel banana xango and the company of the striking blonde, the redhead ended up with a 100% tip and well wishes that she did well on her exam. Sean enjoyed the rest of the architectural symposium, even if the week seemed to drag itself out.
When it ended and his colleagues packed up and started to head for their flights home, Sean was a little miffed. They weren't precisely friends, but he'd worked many of time for years and they didn't even seen to notice he wasn't going with them, nor that he was going to be on vacation for a month. Not a single 'seeya around'. Oh well, he had a fight to go see.
He'd never gone to a boxing match before, let alone a prize fight - or whatever you called it - so didn't know what to wear. But it was really just a sporting event, so he dressed casually in jeans, runners, a dark green hoodie, and a charcoal polar fleece vest. It was the beginning of March with spring on the horizon, but still cold and damp. He was from Ottawa and was relatively used to that and would have been fine... except for the wind. They didn't get wind like that often back home and channeled between the high rises and skyscrapers of Chicago, it cut like a knife.
While get cleared for entry at the kiosk, he people watched the VIPs making their arrivals and noticed Grace dressed in white drawing attention like a celebrity, just beginning to realize she might be more than just someone who came from money working for a charity. He also began to have doubts about how he was dressed, when he looked again at just how good his tickets were.
When he got to his seat, Sean felt serious underdressed. Okay, it wasn't everyone, but most in the same area seemed to be dressed in expensive suits or little black dresses or had excessive bling to make up the difference. Or both. And he felt invisible, moneyed eyes looking pass or through the common man in their midst. Good thing he didn't care what they thought.
He caught sight of Grace again, more than a quarter of the ring away from him and gave her a surreptitious wave, but he wasn't sure if she noticed. He also couldn't help but notice Brigit's promoter standing in her by her corner, a sexy, fit, well maintained blonde he guessed about his own age, who might be taller than he was with her heels. And he wasn't the only one who noticed her. But he forgot about her and Grace and the others he was sharing the expensive seats with as the fight started, the energy level of the crowd rising and growing both wild and focused. There were those looking for Brigit to get slaughtered by Renee Espa. But just as many... weren't hoping Brigit won, but rather that she just took longer to lose.
Sean hoped Brigit won. He watched the fight avidly, even though he winced every time the pretty redhead suffered a hit, unconsciously climbing to his feet with the rest of the crowd as the seconds ticked away in the third round to end Espa's record. When the round ended, Sean pumped an excited fist in the air with a snarled, victorious, "Yes!"
Heart pumping as he sat back down, his eyes suddenly met those of the Boxing Barbie and their gazes locked despite the distance. His lips curved into a crooked smile when with languorous swiftness, a pain lanced suddenly in his head, like someone was shoving an icepick made of absolute zero into his skull. His smile froze, the pain so intense he felt nauseous, weightless, barely able to tell up from down.
He didn't hear the bell ring for the fourth round, was completely unaware he had stumbled to his feet as the others stood up around him, craning for to see every inch of the fight in the fourth. He barely managed to hold on to the seat in front of him, though whether it was to help him to keep his feet or to stop him from floating away, Sean couldn't say.
Bells were screaming, the crowd was surging, and the pain in Sean's head shifted from an intense spike, to a general throb, as though his bones pulsed with each beat of his heart. The pain wasn't as incapacitating, but just barely. His skin felt tight, and he was being jostled this way and that. He was going to puke, he needed fresh air, needed to get out, but he felt like he was moving through jello and could barely tell left from right, up from down...
"Thanks for the offer, but I'll see what I can find on my own," Sean said politely, tapping his phone sitting on the table. Tara gave him a dubious nod and a crooked grin, then went to get their orders put in.
Other than Floyd Mayweather, and then older boxers like Tyson and Lewis, Ali and Leonard, Sean wasn't particularly informed about boxing, let alone female boxing. Wasn't Mohammad Ali's daughter a boxer and TV host or something? But other than Mayweather making stupid money for some reason, Sean thought the popularity of boxing had been waning as the popularity of MMA waxed. He had disposable income. He hadn't minded spending one to two hundred dollars on a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas years ago, and he couldn't see this event being that much more expensive for a moderately good seat.
Sean and Grace chatted amiably while waiting for their orders to arrive. He'd gone to see Wright's Robie House and Legoland, and meant to go see the Field Museums and Chicago Architecture Center - and likely the Legoland Discovery Center again - once his symposium was over and he was on vacation, when he would have more time to dedicate to them. Grace in kind talked about what it was like working for a charity, which Sean knew nothing about.
In a surprisingly and pleasantly short time, Tara returned with their meals. Conversation put on hold while they started on their food, Sean arched a brow and gave his phone another tap. "You mind if I use my phone for a bit? Just going to check on those tickets."
Grace graciously gave her blessing with a smile and a small wave of her hand, somewhat charmed by the polite request. It wasn't long before, between bites of savory Shepherd's Pie, she saw his eyes widen in disbelief and rising dismay.
He'd been so wrong. He was looking at least double what he was expecting to pay, and that was for nosebleed seats, easy four figures for good seats. He slumped back in the booth, flipping his phone over, as though not being able to see the screen would make the prices go down. He didn't even want to consider what scalpers would be charging outside the arena.
Tara came after a few minutes to check on them, refilling Sean's coke without being asked. He nodded his instinctive thanks as she asked, "Everything good so far? No problems?"
"It's excellent, thanks." It wasn't like how his mom made it, so lacked the comfort of familiarity, but their was no denying how good it was. He gave Tara an awkward grin, rubbing the back of his neck with a hand. "So, uh, about that possible ticket...? Would it be too late and too assholish to ask you about it, now?"
Boy, oh, boy, was he going to leave Tara a large tip.
Sean gave Tara a tight, subdued smile and an apologetic shrug as he mouthed, "Sorry." Out loud, he said, tapping his glass, "Could I get a refill, please?"
Sean had a younger sister, but there had barely been any rivalry or animosity between them, except for a bit when they had been young. Rose was the baby and their parents had relaxed with her, so she got away with a lot more then he ever had at the same age. They loved each of course, but just had different interests and different circles of friends. Other than the rare get together on the holidays, or exchanging pleasantries when asking each other something or a favor in their respective professional capacities, they mostly just stayed out of each other's way.
"I'll have swing by the parks then, sometime," Sean said. "Not used to such a, er, tall city. From friends and colleagues who've travelled a great deal more than I have, they always said Ottawa is a very green city. I didn't think much of it, until I came here." He didn't think Vegas really counted for a comparison. "Didn't think I'd miss trees, or nature, that much, but..."
Sean shrugged. He had never joined Boy Scouts or gone to Camp during summer breaks, but he had loved camping as a kid with the family, and later, with high school friends. It could be counted more in decades rather than years since he'd last gone, but he still had a fondness for it, even if he would rather rent an RV or a remote cabin these days.
"Maybe I'll see you at the fight, then, Grace," Sean said in sudden impulse as Tara started to turn away to enter their order. "Last time I went to a fighting event, it was way back, when I was a kid and the WWE was still the WWF, if you want to count that. " And they didn't have anyone like the Divas back then, certainly not anyone as cute as Brigit active in the ring. "Or the several hockey games I've been. Leastwise, if there are any tickets left."
"Hmm. You're almost as new to Chicago as I am," Sean observed with a wry grin.
With a forefinger, he pushed up the pair of glasses that had slipped down his nose slightly, then followed Grace's eyes to the frames newspaper clippings. The Boxing Angel was quite cute - he was by no means put off by fit girls - though Grace Moran looked young enough in the articles that he felt a little dirty. She might have still been in high school. A closer look, and he noticed the articles were from seven or eight years ago, and he let out a silent sigh of relief, feeling not quite so decrepit.
He picked up the menu again, considering what to have tonight, while using it as cover to use his phone for a quick google search. When he found out what Gilda's Club was, his mouth twisted with rueful self-mockery. He hadn't really thought Grace worked at what had initially to him sounded like a Gentleman's Club.
The man hadn't exactly been stealthy about his phone and Grace had tensed muscles capable of pulverizing structural steel. But when Sean sat aside his phone on the table and glanced at her over the menu, Grace didn't see any new light of recognition in his grey-blue eyes. On the lock screen of his phone, there was a picture of an adorable golden retriever playing on a grassy knoll, white with frost.
"It's a good menu, been working my way through. Always been meaning to visit Ireland someday." He ran a hand though his short, brown hair, a few sparse flecks of grey at the temple, then gave a low chuckle. "Been meaning to visit many places. Just never seem to get around to it."
Tara sauntered back with their drinks, setting them before them, and tilted her head inquiringly, notepad in hand, though she didn't have a pen visible. "You folks ready to order?"
Sean nodded, handing the red-head the menu. "I am. I'll have the Shepherd's Pie."
Letting Grace have a few moments to look at the Menu, he asked his unexpected but definitely not unwelcome dinner companion, "So, with your days more experience in Chicago, there anything you suggest I go see or do in the City?"
Not wanting Grace to feel pressured, he idly glanced at the articles again, then the crowd, their server, the articles once more, than back to Tara, eyes narrowing in thought as he wondered if he had noted a familiar resemblance. He arched a dark brow at her, then nodded at the articles. "Kin?"
"I'll just have a Pepsi to start, if that's alright?" Sean asked his cute, red-headed waitress, a private wry curve to his mouth. If Tara seemed more interested in who he was sharing the table with, he could hardly blame her.
"Is Coke fine?" Tara replied with practiced habit.
"Yeah, yes, that's fine."
Sean glanced towards the stunning blonde sitting across from him in the semi circular booth, his stormy grey-blue eyes meeting her gaze to flick away, then back, as though he didn't want to be caught staring. He wasn't up on fashion, but her clothes looked expensive, if understated, to him. He felt slightly underdressed in business casual, dark jeans and a pale blue-grey button down shirt with a corporate logo on the left that Grace saw when he took off his sportscoat.
He was surprised she was alone. She didn't seem tall enough to be a supermodel, but maybe she was an actress? A young executive with connections? Trustfund baby?
Sean tilted his head inquiringly, giving Grace a nod.
"You mind if I cover you dinner tonight, for the inconvenience of having to share a table with unexpected company? I'm in Chicago on business, so the Company is covering it."
Gray eyes flicked up from scanning the menu, the faintest hint of amusement in her eyes.
“Long as you don't mind. Angry Orchard, please?”
Waiting the half-heartbeat as the waitress noted their orders, the blonde Stormer shifted back to face her surprise dinner companion, studying him. “Grace Williams. Pleasure to meet you, Mr..?”
Sean chuckled self-deprecatingly as Tara jotted on her notepad and promised to be back in a moment with their drinks. Even at forty, he wasn't all that used to being called mister. His eyes cut covertly away to follow Tara's behind for a brief moment before returning to Grace.
"Sean. Cassidy, but please, call me Sean, unless you insist on Ms. Williams?"
An invisible mantle of tension relaxed around the blond at his reaction, the faintest hint of a smile forming on her lips. "I'm not quite my mother, not yet. Grace will do. One of the coworkers at my new job recommended here, Sean, mostly as part of an obvious joke. But I could have done worse."
"And what business is the Company? Or will you have to try and kill me for asking?" she continued, in all apparent seriousness.
Sean's dark brows furrowed for a moment. Grace Moran's might have had a bit more of a sportsbar vibe than he had initially thought from the first time he was here, but it wasn't like the pub with overrun with soccer or rugby hooligans. That urged him to suspect she had a pretty high-end job. Sales or finance, maybe.
He blinked at her apparent seriousness about the secrecy of his job, then laughed, open and sincere. Grace got the sense he didn't do so often.
"Oh, my, no. I'm an architectural drafter with Adamson Associates. From Ottawa. Canada? I'm down here for an architectural symposium. You know, since the Storm and all the craziness, there's lots to rebuild all over the place, and new things to take into account..."
Sean trailed off, slightly uncomfortable. Six months, and it still wasn't easy to bring that when designing an office building or a residence, you might have to account for King Kong, an unnatural seismic event, or rain of frogs. And that wasn't even considering Stormers like Genesis, who could completely derail the construction industry by herself.
That said, he'd been enjoying the symposium so far. There'd been some very interesting panels, and he'd certainly gotten some ideas he wanted to work on when he got back home.
He snapped his fingers, his storm coloured eyes grinning. "That reminds me, do you like in a house or apartment?"
Grace arched pale brows in curiosity, wondering if this was a way for the man to score an invitation. "Apartment."
"Now we spoke about business, so I can write dinner off as a business expense." Sean wasn't usually this relaxed around strangers, especially those as attractive as Grace, but since coming on his first business trip, he was making an active effort to go with the flow, rather than just letting it happen, and so far, he was rather enjoying himself. "Do you mind if I ask what it is you do, Grace?"
Sean looked through the window at the sprawl of Chicago as his plane started its descent for O'Hare. It was only his third time on a plane - if you counted going to and back from Las Vegas several years ago - but this time was a marked improvement. He was visiting Chicago to attend an architectural symposium through work, so Adamson Associates had arranged business class seats for him and his colleagues. A nice bonus for his first ever business trip - despite having been at Adamson's for almost twenty years - and he greatly appreciated the luxurious leg room and no screaming kids.
O'Hare was like a city unto itself but thankfully he had several colleagues to follow so he didn't get lost. They collected their luggage, Sean, having the least, helped Janet with hers, the brunette offering him a a brief, negligent smile. Really, they were only in Chicago for a week and Sean thought all his colleagues had packed too much. Hell, after the symposium, he was being forced to take a month off work off to reduced the amount of PTO he had accrued and he hadn't packed anything extra, having not made any particular plans for the vacation yet, but figuring he pick up anything he needed along the way. His carryon and one moderately sized suitcase was enough for him. It wasn't like they were in the middle of nowhere, they were in one of the largest cities in North America.
The Adamson contingent got a shuttle to their hotel, nicer than Sean would have expected, but it seemed when it was on the company's dime, his colleagues took as much advantage as they could. They checked in, Sean ending up on a different floor from the rest of his workmates, then expensed a meal at the hotel restaurant before taking an Uber to the Illinois Institute of Technology, where the symposium was being held.
Janet and Matt - the blond guy who thought *way* too highly of himself, especially considering the stereotype of a Canadian - weren't with them.
Sean leaned his head against the window of the Uber, and watched Chicago go by. The history of Architecture, the theory and design, was tied deeply to Chicago, and Sean hadn't ever been to a city as... vertical as Chicago before, passing through slices of sunlight and shadow as they traveled through steep canyons of steel and concrete. He'd seen photos of course, design plans and schematics, and even worked on several for high-rises and skyscrapers, but it was different seeing them with your own eyes.
It made Sean feel both small and big at the same time. These behemoth structures towered above them, could crush them completely if they failed, yet they had been designed and built by men, by their grit and determination, and without anything like the super powers of the Stormers. While Sean might have been more interested in residential design and trying for a more modern take on Frank Lloyd Wright's Organic Architecture, he couldn't help be impressed with Chicago's dynamic skyline.
He also couldn't help but frown at the amount of what appeared to homeless people on the street, huddled in alleyways or under the elevated rails of The Loop. Ottawa had its own homeless, but far fewer and far more discrete, in the low and sprawling Canadian Capital, not surprising for the center of the Federal Government. Sean had heard that Chicago had been largely spared the destruction of the Storm, much like his own city had been, except for the deepening of the Rideau Canal and the giant serpent that had taken up residence in it and Ottawa had bemusedly accepted as a sort of mascot when effects to remove it had failed.
Ottawa hadn't seen the explosion of refugees Chicago had seen, and with underdeveloped suburbs, had been able to handle them with barely a ripple.
One of the main themes of the symposium was addressing the advent of the Stormers and how structural design had and would adapt to the fantastic and destructive things they could do. From modular designs that could be more quickly and efficiently rebuilt in the case of catastrophe, to different or new materials, or the argument between cheap and easy to replace/rebuild to expensive and more robust, it was a wide ranging affair, and only one of the purposes of the symposium.
Sean was interested of course, but really, he looked at it as a paid vacation. He'd been in an aimless rut, for years, working his 9-5, not bothering working overtime, rarely taking time off, and when he did, never going anywhere. He'd rather stay home, play some video games, and once or twice a week, get together with his few friends and play board games or roleplaying games. When he was offered a spot to attend the symposium - and then not so subtly told to use several weeks of PTO after it - he decided to go for a change, even if he'd miss one or more of his usual weekly gaming sessions.
It was a bit nerve wracking at first. He'd taken few trips outside of Ottawa, but never alone. Yes, he was with several people from work, and while he was friendly with them, he didn't consider them friends, never saw them outside of work save by accident. But once he'd landed and checked in to his hotel, the anxiety was easing, and excitement was starting to rise, even if didn't show through his natural reserved expression.
They made it to Illinois Tech, got their passes and signed up for the various panels and discussions they were interested in or the Company required them to attend. The first day of the symposium was light on technical classes and panels and was mostly for networking and after hour events, to help with recovering from travel. Not Sean's cup of tea - not that he drank tea, or coffee for that matter.
Instead, he made sure he was signed up for all the panels and discussions he wanted for the week, especially those with limited capacity, then wondered around campus for a while, wanting to make sure he knew where all the rooms were and how to get to them. He didn't want to be running around like a headless chicken with no clue where he was meant to be if he had limited time between panels or food breaks.
As he strolled through campus with eye to where he was and an eye on his phone, looking at what there was to do and see in Chicago, he couldn't help but notice the students. Most of them were half his age or a little more, their whole lives still ahead of them, attending a school far more prestigious in his field then the one he had attended. He'd been working at the same company for almost as long as they had been alive, yet hadn't gotten much beyond the position he had started in.
He told himself he didn't envy them, that he didn't regret the choices he had made. And he didn't. But a small part of him couldn't help but wonder what he was missing out on. He moved through the students with barely a ripple, the students, and faculty, barely seeming to notice him.
He attended one panel that discussed Wright's influence on the field of Architecture and how his Usonian designs might be updated with current and forward looking techniques, then he called it a day, looking for a place to eat before heading back to his hotel. Sean found a pub, Grace Moran's, that actually seemed authentic, or as authentic as anything this side of the Atlantic rather than a chain, and quite enjoyed his meal, making a note to come back.
Then he went back to his hotel, watching an episode of Kushiel's Legacy while occasionally peeling his eyes off the intoxicating Eva Zelenka to skim around on the internet, so he could do it all over again the next day.
Real Name: Sean Fionn Cassidy
Concept: Aimless Man Looking For A New Direction
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Jack Cassidy (Father), Marie Cassidy (Mother), Rose Cassidy (Younger Sister)
Date of Birth: February 7th, 1980
Date of Eruption:
First Public Appearance:
Home Region: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Junior Architectural Drafter
Allegiance(s): Family, Friends
Gender: Female (formerly Male)
Ethnic Background: Caucasian (French-Canadian, Irish, Danish)
Apparent Age: Late Teens
Weight: 133 lbs (formerly 211 lbs)
Eyes: Lavender (formerly Grey-Blue)
Hair: Metallic Rose-Gold, Hip-length (formerly Brown, Very Short)
Once, Sean was a middle-aged man of unassuming attractiveness, just shy of six feet tall, somewhat broad of shoulder, brown hair cut pragmatically short, white peppering the dark hair of several days growth of beard, almost always dressed plainly and casually.
Now, Sean is a woman who looks half her age of staggering, impossible beauty, fey poise, and forthright and unconscious sex appeal. Has the figure of an idealized instagram model with slightly exaggerated features; long shapely legs that belong on a woman at least half a foot taller, a waist most women would need a corset of match if they even can, breasts almost too large for one of her slender back, yet ineffable in form and heedless of gravity, flawless, sun-kissed skin that... a Renaissance Master could go on and on for weeks and never finish. Her large, exotic lavender eyes and lengthy rose-gold hair with its glossy sheen draw every eye.
New to her incredible looks, Sean is still figuring out how to dress and deal with them, but takes an unabashed and slightly teasing delight in it, finding her switch of gender a fair trade for superpowers.
Despite her modest position as a junior Architectural Technologist, Sean is a very adept architect and artist.
Sean used to be introverted and reserved, only opening up to her tight circle of friends with a dry wit. She went with the flow, only doing the minimum to get by. It wasn't that she was a slacker, she worked hard and long, just didn't have the ambition to seek more, when she had enough to get by. Never had a long term relationship and only a few short, intimate ones, the effort not worth the potential loss and pain to her.
Now, with her drastic transformation in gender and looks, Sean finds herself far more extroverted and social, and far more wanting, in almost every sense of the word. Where before she had been aimless, now every direction seems available to her and she wants to try them all in this new life she finds herself in. Absolutely loves her powers and uses them almost instinctively.
Sean was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to a pair of Federal employees in comfortable, if not luxurious middle class, living in only two places, and then a third with he finally moved out at 30.
He was a fine, if unenthusiastic, student in high school, scoring good grades with minimal effort. In university, his grades turned mediocre, but were still good enough to graduate, if without distinction. Still, due to co-op placements, he got a job with Adamson Associates as a junior Architectural Technologist right out of university.
While he might have dreamed about designing his own gorgeous residential or civic structures to rival Frank Lloyd Wright, Sean was content with working 9-5, working hard, but not working overtime, and otherwise, playing video games and hanging out with his tight circle of friends.
But as his friends continued with their lives, adding spouses, then children, get togethers for roleplaying and boardgames started becoming more infrequent or had to accommodate for their living situation and Sean started to feel left behind. He didn't fault his friends of course, but there was a mild sort of regret.
Sean trudged through his thirties, killing time without seeming to get any further. But several months after his 40th birthday and the advent of the Stormers, his life has been completely reset.
After attending an architectural symposium in Chicago - one of the highlights a panel on how Stormer powers could and have changed the field - Sean had a month off work, being forced to use a chunk of his accrued off.
He attended a boxing match, when he felt a sudden and near blinding headache, the cute red-headed woman boxer almost seeming to glow to his pained sight. Somehow, he managed make it back to his hotel before he passed out.
And when Sean woke up, she found her life had completely changed, had practically reset. And it was up to her how she wanted to play it out this time.
Topics I Participated In
From - The Dauntless Recollections, vol I
Chicago is my city, my home.
My family have been a part of this city since the end of the American civil war. I was born here, both times, raised here. Went to school here, attended Church here, my first love was here, and my first heartbreak. Chicago is my city, my home, now our home.
I have watched the crime and violence grow. Witnessed the death and sorrow from gang violence, drugs. I grew up watching it, at first, then living it as it spread from community to community like a disease. Watched as politicians lied and got rich, while the working men and women suffered and grew poorer. Watched as jobs fled and good people like my own father were laid off. Watched as mortgages went unpaid and homes were foreclosed, families forced out into the street. Watched as hope drained away.
All I could do was watch.
Then the Storm happened. Now I watch new politicians doing the same as the old. I see crime soaring to new heights. Gangs holding open warfare in the streets causing chaos and destruction, refugees from elsewhere coming here because we did not have any monsters. But we do it is just that our monsters that were always here, back then they were human, now some of them aren't.
All I could do then was watch.
Now I can do more.
The Storm had spared Chicago, for the most part at least. Aside from a tremendous lightning storm which caused massive electrical failures across the metropolis and the cold winds off Lake Michigan which carried snow and ice across the empty streets, no monsters rose up to wreak havoc, death, or destruction as had occurred across the states and the world.
Chicago stood tall, but still the effects had been felt economically and mentally with what had been happening across the globe. The city untouched by the storms strange transformations became a place of refuge for many fleeing the death and destruction. A haven for those who had nothing left. A place where normal was still, at least on the surface, normal.
The population increase had stretched the cities resources. Unemployment, always a problem sored as refugees crowded in seeking jobs, Crime rates rose, poverty rates rose, a bleakness settled over the region. But still people needed distraction needed entertainment and one of those distractions was sports and one thing Chicago had always had in abundance and had embraced was the fighting ring.
Six Months After the Storm
The girl on the cushioned exam table wearing boxing shorts and a sports top was solidly built if a bit on the small side for a boxer. Normally she was very pretty some would say even beautiful. She had bright blue eyes and her reddish-brown hair was long and straight, but tonight was worn up in a coiled braid. She held her finely muscled arms up and out as the old man wrapped her ribs. She grunted in pain as the trainer, Manny, pulled the wraps tight. Brigit Moran glared at her trainer, she could barely see him with one eye swollen almost shut, she also had a bad cut on her left cheek and a split lip, both of which were also swollen.
Manny finished and began unwrapping her hands. “Dammit Brigit, you took a helluva beating tonight hun, you have got to keep those hands up and keep your face protected.”
She winched as he started on her right hand jarring the shoulder she had fallen on in the ring.
“I can’t just defend all the time Manny, I have to punch, it’s the only way I can get points...”
She stopped as the door opened and a tall well-built woman in her late thirties, blond, very attractive, came through a scowl on her face having herd the end of Brigit's statement. “Honey you aren't going to be winning with points from your punches, you hit like a goddamned girl and it isn't cutting it.” Karen Gayle, one of the most prominent female promoters in the Chicago area leaned up against the wall and lit a cigarette, as the trainer and the boxer glared at her.
Seeing the look they were giving her, Karen blew the smoke out through tight lips and said, “Oh, come on Brigit, we have been over this, this isn't the amateurs anymore, this is the pros, you don't score by just touching them, your hits have to mean something. That girl tonight Leda Sanchez, you have her by what 20 lbs. and she still kicked your ass. Dammit, look in the fucking mirror.”
Manny turns back to Brigit and starts treating her bruised face carefully washing the cut on her cheek.
“For Christ's sake Ms. Gayle, ain’t no call for that, Brigit is a goddamned good fighter what she lacks in upper body strength, she more than makes up in speed, stamina, and skill, and she's damned tough, one of the toughest I have ever trained guy or girl.”
Ms. Gayle snorts a laugh, “Oh Manny,” she shakes her head, “Jesus this is her 6th loss in a row, that is not a good start to a career.”
“Hey!” Brigit pushes Manny back and slides off the exam table, a flare of anger in her bright blue eyes.
“Quit talking about me like I'm not even in the fucking room. Look Karen, I'll take a few weeks off and do some crash strength training, I've been letting it slide a little, what with everything, but I can build my upper-body up and get my punches ...what?"
She sees both her manager and her trainer exchange looks. Manny speaks first.
“Honey, Ms. Gayle has a point, your punches..., your just not built for upper body Strength projection...”
“What the hell do you mean I'm not built for it,” Brigit interrupts, “what the fuck is wrong with my body? Fuck!” The young woman was starting to have a hard time controlling her anger.
“Brigit, Manny is right, to get your strength up to where you need to be you’re going to have to put on fifteen, twenty pounds and that puts you in the next weight class and right back where you are now.” The older woman was trying to calm her client down.
“Brigit, honey, you’re as strong as you need to be its your shoulders and the way your built up top. You just don’t have the build to project the strength you have in a punch, it’s not anything we can correct Bri. Your biggest points Hun are your legs they are strong and fast, Straight-up boxing just does not utilize your strengths well Bri.”
Brigit caught the turn of phrase Manny used ‘straight-up boxing' and saw where this was going. She just stared at her trainer until Karen spoke. “Brigit, you’re wasting your money paying me, and I'm losing money promoting these fights. I cannot promote you if you cannot win and you cannot win in the pro boxing ring." Karen drops her cigarette butt and mashes it out with her shoe.
"I like you Brigit. You are talented and you have the spirit, your just in the wrong ring, I can get you in the cage Ill even spring for training. Sixth months with Jenifer Marks, and we can get you in some low tier MMA bouts and you will shoot up the ranks like lightning. We both,” she indicates Manny, “think this is the way for you to go.”
Manny starts to speak but Brigit cuts him off. “I'm a boxer Karen, I don’t want to be a damn MMA fighter, I want to be a Boxer.”
“No, Brigit, your father wants you to be a boxer.” Karen said in a soft voice.
Sean David Moran was a fifth generation Irish American, born and raised in Chicago, Sean had always wanted to be a boxer, like his father and his father’s father all the way back to Ireland before the civil war. Boxing was in the Moran family’s blood. When Sean turned 18, he enlisted in the Navy, he had already been boxing in youth clubs and he figured he could box in the navy as well as learn a trade skill.
He did well in both until the middle of his second year of his enlistment when a shipboard accident left him with a shattered knee, steel pins in his hip, and a medical discharge ending both his navy and boxing careers before they had ever really begun.
Sean returned home to Chicago where he got a job with the union, met a girl, a local schoolteacher from a good Irish family whom he married, and six months later had their first child.
Brigit Fianna Moran the oldest of four daughters was born August 12th, 1995. By the time she was six and her three sisters had come along it was apparent to her father that there was not going to be any boys in this branch of the Moran family. Sean had wanted a boy. Badly someone he could teach how to box a son who could carry on the tradition that he had failed to carry. But he loved his four daughters dearly and never regretted having them not once.
But when it came to Brigit well, she was daddy's little girl, as she grew up she hung on every word, sat with her daddy as he watched the boxing matches and listen to all the family stories about boxing. It was in her blood and She was a tomboy through and through so she became the surrogate son her daddy never had and when she was ten he started teaching her how to box, at twelve she stated taking boxing lessons at a local gym and at 16 began boxing as an youth amateur. After she graduated High school Sean convinced His old Trainer James “Manny” Fitzpatrick a Retired Golden Gloves Champion to train her for the pros. In 2015 she went pro She won her first two matches against other first time pros before being taken on by Manager and Promoter Karen Gayle.
Gayle, one of the most Successful Promoters of female fighters on the east coast had risen to fame with the first Wave of Female MMA Fighters in the late nineties and early oughts. She saw the potential for a first-class fighter in Brigit even though she herself didn’t much care for Straight Boxing she figured she would take a chance and promote Brigit.
But Pro Fighting isn't like the amateurs and when Brigit found herself matched against experienced boxers, she found herself unable to clinch a win. She could stand toe to toe round for round, but she couldn't deliver the hits needed to score a win on points.
“So, Karen,” Brigit took a deep breath the anger turning inward and becoming resignation, “are you cutting me loose?”
“No, Brigit, I'm not, I want you to think about the MMA offer, in the meantime I can get you one more match, I think we can make some money off of. I'll set it up”
“What do you mean make money off of? I’m not throwing a fight.” Shoots Brigit back, glancing at Manny who is looking at Gayle obvious questions on his face.
Gayle laughs “There has to be an expectation of you winning for throwing the fight to have any value, and I'm kind of offended you would think I'd ever ask that of you. I'm putting you in the ring with Renee Espa.”
“What?” Manny shouts drawing both woman's attention to him. “Espa's a fucking machine she hits like a goddamn freight train! She has eight wins all knock outs within three rounds.”
“Exactly, Manny, and that plays to our strength. You said it yourself, Brigit is though, one of the toughest fighters I have ever seen especially in her weight class. It’s an eight-round exhibition fight a preview for her big championship fight next month, no one is going to be betting on who's going to win. The bets are going to be on how fast Espa knocks Brigit out.” Gayle explains as she lights another cigarette. “If you go all eight rounds, we can make some serious money, and more importantly it puts you on the map as the fighter that Renee Espa couldn't knock out. And that is a rep that could be gold we could stand could make a lot of money promoting that especially if she gets a knockout in the championship bout.”
Brigit doesn’t hesitate only looks at her trainer and her manger and says, “I'll do it.”
Brigit left Manny and Karen arguing about the Exhibition and caught the city bus home. It was late almost midnight and while her friends were probably expecting her at the pub, she just didn’t feel like it, not tonight. She looked out as the bus drove down what a year before would have been deserted streets and empty lots, now they passed tent cities full of men ,women and children, all displaced by The Storm, huddled around metal drums containing fires for warmth, These were now the homes for the homeless. She felt a despair she hadn’t felt in, well, in a while.
She let herself into the dark house where four generations of the Moran Family had lived. In the living room she found her sister, Keira a sophomore at the University of Chicago asleep on the couch, books scattered on the floor the light from table lamp and the silent tv throwing shadows across her face. Brigit shut off the lamp but left the tv on, then covered her sister with a throw blanket instead of waking her, she didn't feel like talking about her latest defeat.
She went into the kitchen looked in the fridge but didn’t get anything the thought of eating made her stomach flip. She checked the kitchen door to make sure it was locked. They lived in a good neighborhood but where you could leave your doors unlocked before now, thanks to the Storm, that was not a good idea. Brigit made her way upstairs, stopping to look in on the twins, Kathrine and Kelly, seven-teen and seniors in high school. Both were sound asleep.
Last she made a quick peek in on her parents’ room. She found her father asleep in the chair by her mother’s medical bed. He was out cold, and from the bottle and glass on the nightstand it was obvious he had drunk himself to sleep. She entered the room for a closer look at her mother.
Margret Moran, originally Travers, had been a beautiful voluptuous woman with striking red hair and piercing green eyes, all three of Brigit's sisters took after their mother while she had inherited her father’s darker reddish-brown hair and blue eyes. Now her mother was thin and pale a shadow of who she once was, the cancer eating away at her. Brigit checked the monitors and made sure everything was working and that her mom at least looked comfortable. It didn't strike her as odd her checking in on her family she had always felt protective of her sisters and with dad laid off and mom sick she just naturally fell into that care giver roll and no one else questioned it. Maybe that's why I took the fight, she thought to herself as she made her way to her room forgoing the shower she really needed, we need the money more now than ever.
Brigit fell into bed and drifted off to sleep dreaming of money and fighting and of her being strong enough to beat all her opponents, of being good enough to do anything of being the best in the world...
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