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First reading from Madame Destiny is a 10-card full reading for Jen:

Madame Destiny arrives at the Stars 'n' Garters Diner in the gusty, rainy weather, hurrying in the door while depositing her golfing-sized rainbow umbrella in the umbrella stand behind the door. She hangs up her practical electric-blue trenchcoat and descends upon her usual table, where you're seated with a cup of hot tea, in a tight-fitting navy blue wool dress that comes just below her knee, a lacy grey cardigan threaded with metallic bronze and gold, and a turban of shimmering cloth that flickers between bronze and blue. The turban is pinned in place by a massive, nearly palm-sized cameo of Athena in her helmet and chiton, holding her shield with Medusa's head on it, and the cameo is ringed in gold filigree. The rest of her jewelry is lower-key, primarily consisting of a gold locket on a heavy gold book chain, adorned with a slender figure of Artemis and a hound in black enamel, and a number of gold rings, both broad-banded and slender, with only a few blue stones — sapphires or paste, you can't tell — among them.

"Well, my dear, I'm so sorry I ran a bit late," Madame says, settling in her accustomed chair. Flo, the waitress with the red beehive hairdo, appears at her side with a cup of tea and a plate with a cheese danish on it. They exchange a smile and a nod, and Madame takes a grateful sip of her tea. "Beastly day out there, isn't it? So glad you could make it." You're not sure from where she produces the deck of Tarot cards, but they appear in her hands and she immediately starts shuffling them. "As you may recall, I do these readings with my Wonder City Wonders deck, so I suppose it's a bit of a history lesson at the same time as your reading! I hope you don't mind."

After shuffling like a Vegas pro, she pauses and looks you in the eye. "I understand you want to know what's next for you. Shall we see what the cards say?"

She lays out a ten-card spread swiftly, and then sets the deck aside while peering over the cards. Then she reaches out and lifts the crossing card up to reveal the center card, which depicts a golden staff, engraved with flame shapes from base to tip and topped with a disc of clear glass that is quartered by lines of bronze. The base ends in a steel point. It floats against a background that is an antique map of the world. The card is reversed. "The Staff of Akribeia is a magical staff that is able to focus the heat of the sun with great precision upon a single small target. That target may be utterly annihilated or just gently warmed, depending on the exact desires of the user. To even begin using it, one must master the extensive magical tome that accompanies it. By legend, only three or four sorcerers have had the patience to read the entire tome and be able to elicit enough fire to light a pipe, much less raining fire down upon a single house in a city, or any of the other things it supposedly can do. Mastery is difficult, and since this card is reversed, I think you are not applying yourself whole-heartedly right now, so it is difficult to master whatever it is you most want. Or perhaps you're not sure what you want, so you don't know what exactly to focus on?" She smiles at you. "It's a challenge many of us face."

She lays the crossing card back down. The card shows a young, slender androgynous figure in dark blue bodysuit and a black bolero jacket. This person is wearing a simple black mask that covers only the top of the face, and is carrying a fighting staff with silver caps on either end. The background is a nighttime rooftop with a crescent moon in the sky and a caped figure in the distance. "This is the bridge you must cross, or are crossing right now, and it reversed as well. Domino was the Midnight Mask's sidekick. Two of them didn't survive the war, and the third Domino joined after the war and eventually took the mantle of Midnight Mask himself. The Mask was quite bitter about losing his young men, but what can you expect in wartime anyway? He always chose the bright young things, so enthusiastic and acrobatic and full of energy and risk-taking behaviors. It took him a while to find just the right young man, the one that didn't go charging off without his permission into unknown dangers. Since this is reversed, I think you may be finding yourself distracted by different causes or work, or even simply shiny things. This is probably linked to your inability to focus or find a goal you want to strive for. Your energy is scattered, not directed."

She picks up the card at the top of the reading, studies it for a moment, then sets it back down. The card shows a group of five men swinging fuming quarterstaffs at each other in some sort of wild melee. All the men are wearing Army uniforms of the common British Tommy of World War II, only colored forest green and modified to be tighter-fitting about the legs and less confining around the arms. Their helmets are close-fitting, with red feathers painted along the sides. "These are the Merry Men," Madame says, "a para group created by the British Army as a sort of counterpoint to the German Army's Walküren. The only problem was that the men weren't really so merry -- they started out not knowing each other, and soon found out that some of them were convicted criminals. The conflicts grew and multiplied, and their commander was unable to cope with them or actually command them. But it wasn't until one of them was killed and several were wounded in a skirmish that the top brass were willing to disband the troop as a failed experiment." She purses her lips, and adds, "As the theme of your reading, I think that you're experiencing a lot of conflict, whether internally or externally or both, and that's what's leading you to be so scattered."

Madame taps the card at the bottom of the reading. "This is the root of the reading." The card, which is reversed, depicts a woman dressed as a pirate: black tricorn, eyepatch, blue frock coat, and trousers. She is clearly enormous, standing with each foot on a ship, and she's got five U-boats gathered in her arms, dripping water and a few sailors. "That's Grace O'Massive, Scourge of the Seven Seas," Madame says. "She had her own pirate ship that looked like a tall ship, but was actually under engine power; had her own pirate band, some of whom were mad scientists who developed new technology for her ships; and she spent her time looting cargo ships and occasional passenger vessels. She was known for her strict sense of honor -- no civilians were to be hurt, and ships would always be left with enough supplies and fuel to get to shore. Once the war started, she was outraged by the behavior of the German U-boats, and she targeted German fleet. Reversed, this card is about self-sabotage, I think. Stealing from yourself. Let's move on and see what else the reading has to say about this."

"This card is your immediate past," she says, touching the left-most card. Two young people stand under a chuppah, holding hands and gazing into each others eyes while a crowd of soldiers and costumed paras cheer behind them. The man looks half-starved, his hair cropped very short, and he is wearing fatigues that hang on him unflatteringly. The woman is wearing an armored Soviet soldier's combat uniform with lightning bolts down the sleeves and trouser legs, and her hair is cut in a short 40s bob. "This is the wedding of Heat Lightning to her beau Abram Berkowicz. She had been part of the Allied para offensives since nearly the beginning of the war, and at some point, had lost touch with her family and Abram. They had been taken away to concentration camps, and she spent her free time searching for them. The story goes that not long after liberation of the camps, she managed to track Abram down, and the two of them insisted on being married immediately. They were married for 56 years before Abram passed away." Madame studied the card. "You had something recently that was exciting, maybe a new start of something? But now you have to cross your scatteredness and impulsiveness to get to your near future card, here on the right."

She gestures toward that card, which shows a man in tight-fitting green clothing, standing with drawn bow on a dark rooftop. "This is the original Green Hood," she says. "He was a non-para vigilante who happened to be a good shot with a bow and arrows. He was also a millionaire, and was able to hire a mad scientist to make gimmicks for his arrows that would actually work. While he said he was the protector of the downtrodden, et cetera et cetera, he actually limited his activities to the wealthiest parts of Wonder City, where he defended rich people's homes from thieves, often wounding the would-be thieves badly in the process. Here, though, I think it means status quo. These are tied together, this excitement and the settling for status quo — the first is the four of wands, and this is the four of pentacles. The numbers tie them together. Perhaps this is a cycle for you?"

"Your representative card is here," Madame says, pointing to the card on the lower right. This card depicts a small group of sepia-toned children of various ages, their hair cut short, their clothing shapeless and outsized. The landscape behind them is blasted and twisted and smoking, and there are signs of a building foundation and scattered pieces of the building lying about. The card is upright to you. "These were some of the para orphans the Allies found in hiding after the Liberation of Paris. Not all of the children in this group were para, you understand, but many of them were, and were able to use their powers to keep the group safe and fed, after a fashion. Still, most of them were sick and undernourished, some injured." She glances back over the rest of the spread. "You're feeling starved and thin, and you're keeping yourself afloat, but you need something more. You're surviving, but not thriving. Again, there's a connection in the cards -- this is the five of pentacles, so clearly connected to the near future card."

"Your emotions are represented by the Ace of Swords reversed," she notes. A magnificent white skyscraper, shaped by the geometric lines of Art Deco styling, stretches into a cloudless azure firmament on this card. "That is the Excalibur Building, and as you might guess it was designed by the same architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building. It was one of Wonder City's prime attractions before Count Tomorrow rescued the Trylon and Perisphere from being scrapped and moved them here." She smiles. "Upright, this card represents decisions and clarity. Reversed, well, I'm guessing that, given the rest of this spread, you can guess what it means. No decisions, or bad decisions, or not-very-decisive decisions."

"Your hopes and fears show that hopes are dominating, at least," Madame says, indicating the second card from the top of the line on the right. It depicts a pale man with sleek black hair, a moustache, a billowing royal-blue cloak, and a black suit. Around his neck is a great jeweled golden necklace on a heavy chain, and he is posed with one hand upright and one held low, purple eldritch energies crackling from each. "The Magician in this deck is represented by Professor Fortune, until lately Earth's leading wizard. He has a long history among paras, and has mostly been on the side of the angels. Here, he simply represents power and good fortune and some of the best hopes for your outcome."

"Which is here," Madame says, touching the last card. The image is of a middle-aged white man, balding and pudgy, peering out of the opened head of a giant robot over a vista of green hills and valleys. The robot is white, though it bears scars, dents, and burns from combat, and has a large red cross in the center of its chest. "This is Dr. Defense, an English mad scientist who built -- and led -- a whole division of giant robots in order to better protect medical installations and hospitals, and to make sure that medical supplies got through to them. He and his division travelled all over the world and worked in both the European and Pacific theaters, even taking humanitarian supplies behind enemy lines. He paid for the materials and many of the supplies on his own -- he was a millionaire who had inherited much of his money, then made more himself -- and he was a medical doctor as well as an engineer." She smiles fondly. "As the King of Pentacles, he represents someone who is a master of their craft — which could be material, financial, or paranormal. This is a very positive outcome of course."

Madame Destiny gestures over the entire spread. "In sum, I'm reading that currently, you're spinning your wheels — you can't decide what exactly you want and you are distracted by many interests and many shiny things. You have the energy, you have the wherewithal, you can certainly do whatever you choose to do… but you have to choose it. Currently, you're hungry for… something. You're not nourishing yourself enough. But you can, you absolutely can, you just need to move forward instead of letting yourself be wrapped up in your conflicts." She smiles and leans foward to pat your hand. "I hope that helps, dear. Just remember that you really *can* do *anything*."


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