Our first panel shows a woman in her late twenties from the waist up, dressed in exercise attire, jogging down the Bow River Pathway on a sunny (and not particularly smokey) August afternoon. She checks her fitness wristband, and steps up the pace. As she passes people they turn to look, with thought bubbles saying “Is that …?”

The next panel shows her full length, and it is apparent that her legs have been amputated below the knee, and she is using running blades. A narrative block at the bottom of the panel explains to our gentle readers that this is Valentina Asimovna, and provides some deep background in the form of a flashback montage.

She is the only child of Russian refugees, who came to Canada after the fall of communism in 1988 with their infant daughter. In the late 2000’s she was a promising young track and field star, and expected to dominate women’s sprint events at the London Olympics in 2012. In spring 2010, however, returning from a track meet she was involved in a traffic collision and lost both her legs. She persevered through rehab and managed to make the 2012 Paralympic team, winning Gold in London.

Over the next few years she dominated in paralympic events. She lobbied the IOC to be allowed to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics as a full Olympian, not just at the Paralympics. In late August, 2015 the IOC ruled that she would be allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics. Then, just days later, the Labour Day attacks unleashed the Mutation Virus. She caught it, and gained super-speed powers. The IOC ruled that no super-powered individuals would be allowed to compete in the Olympics, and her Olympic Dream was crushed forever. She then fell into a pit of despair and depression, and a series of spectacularly bad life-choices leading her to a life of petty crime. She has only recently been discharged from the court-imposed monitoring requirements.

She continues jogging down the Bow River Pathway. Her eyes widen slightly when she sees an “Out of Service — Wet Paint” notice on a bench beside the path. She kicks up her speed from Olympic to Super-powered, and returns to her home. A short while later she re-emerges, showered and in street clothes. She makes her way to a cafe, and slides into a booth where a young man is sitting. “What do you want?” she asks him.

“It is good to see you too,” he responds, with a Russian accent. “Your parents are well, I trust?”

She snorts. “I have to trust YOU on THAT!”

“Your account has been funded for some additional work” he says. “The last job was not as spectacular as we had been expecting. We’ve increased the funding lewel. You should have no problems arranging what we want”.

“And just what, exactly, is that?” she asks.

He leans closer, and lowers his voice. “A riot. Something like the Wancouwer Stanley Cup riot would be perfect.” His accent mangles his enunciation of “Vancouver”. He drops a $20 on the table by his dirty dishes, gets up and leaves.

A waitress comes over. “Can I get you something?” she asks.

“No, I was just leaving” Valentina responds. Then she, too, gets up and leaves.

We are playing next on Friday, October 12. Same bat time, same bat channel.

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