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March 2013 Mark sat alone on the beach, his heavy jacket keeping the chill of a Freedom City spring off his body. He was out of costume today, resting after a long morning with his mother. He knew his mother was sick, knew it in that twisting place inside of him that all the good intentions in the world couldn't fix, and it was a bad feeling. His mom had done some bad stuff, but that had been because she had problems, not because she had a problem. Whatever had happened, Martha Lucas was still his mom. And that was good, because she needed a friend. He skipped stones for a while, his mind wandering as he in fact lost track of why he was on the beach at all. The ocean made him think of Nina these days, his girlfriend having gone back to Socotra for Typhoon's birthday celebration. Nina wasn't exactly a conventional girl, either, but she was still his girl. Maybe he needed to do more things for her....
With the heroes and two-thirds of the ship's complement beamed down into the heart of the Curator's central control room, it was just Jill and Vrix-117, and of course Quickstep as well. Vrix wasn't as talkative as Samran or Shepard, and admitted that as she showed Jill how to read the panels that showed everyone's life readings inside the Curator's construct. "Commander's tactical, Shepard's science, but I'm more engineering. I mostly keep the ship running while they're on missions." Vrix had removed her helmet too, revealing bronze skin and hair as red as a lollipop. "I...oh!" she pointed as one of the wall panels lit up to reveal a flash of light from the distant perimeter of the ringworld, a silvery saucer ship flying through the gap. "I don't know that design, but they're not local. Hang on." She tapped a button on the panel in front of her, then shook her head. "Damn. I can't reach the commander, but I got a tachyon squirt out to the fleet. They'll be sending reinforcements. Friends of yours?" she asked, cocking her head Jill's way. Dorothy peered at the screen and said, "Looks just like a flying saucer from the movies!" - The saucer erupted into the Curator's system as it dropped from FTL, spilling a wash of tachyons and neutrinos along with a spray of visible light. They were between the ringworld's star and its structure, and for a moment the sheer size of the magnificent construction, known to be one of the largest structures in the Milky Way, filled the scanners of the ship. Thanks to the Curator's famous paranoia, it had been a long, long time indeed since anyone had ever gotten this close. 'Beneath' them was an ocean big enough to swallow multiple Earths, a storm playing across it that could have covered the entire planet, with distant shores visible even to the naked eye beyond before the ring curved away into invisibility. Trillions of people were down there, living their lives, perhaps never knowing about the Curator. Above them, close to the star, hung a black sphere the size of the Earth's moon, part of the circle of rotating black squares the size of planets themselves that made day and night for the people below. It was the central control unit of the entire structure, the geniuses aboard could tell at a glance. And inside that sphere, somewhere, was Steve. And attached to the side, visible as they got closer and closer, was a white pod the computer recognized as a Lor military vessel.
Elsewhere Test Site I Freedom Hall Blue Jay woke up in a ditch, the smell of ashes in her mouth. She was in her costume and fully armed, the quiver at her back weighted with arrows. Raising her head, she found herself surrounded by a vision from Hell: a bombed out Freedom City laden with debris, ashes, and the broken remains of what once might have been bodies. She'd seen the effects of power pikes well enough to recognize their work. And there, screaming down from the sky like the armies of the damned, came the all-too-familiar sight of an Omegadrone troop carrier, big as a small jet liner but covered in the spikes and weapons she knew all too well. It roared overhead, antiproton engines screaming loud enough to nearly deafen her, and headed for what looked like Freedom Hall. Baxter awoke from a dream, and found himself in Hell. Bee-Keeper III felt the vibrations in his suit before he saw the ship come roaring down out of the sky; a monstrous vision of technological hell as it swooped overhead and plowed into a nearby street hard enough to rattle his teeth, careening along a street to plow into a nearby building. He noticed the apocalyptic surroundings next; the ruined Freedom Hall behind him, the smashed windows and fallen bodies of what looked like the aftermath of a grim and terrible battle here at the heart of Freedom City's heroing, and then finally what looked for all the world like a shattered city all around them. Jill O'Cure's eyes snapped open and she found herself in an empty hospital. She could tell that right away; the red, flickering emergency lights exposed a scene of wild chaos, torn and fallen beds and equipment in a mad jumble, but no sign of life, or death, for that matter. She knew this place, the waiting room of the clinic in City Center just down the street from Freedom Hall. She was in costume, not her scrubs, but before she could take further stock of the situation there was the brief scream of mighty engines and then a nearby BOOM, as if a plane had hit the ground just a few blocks away. Bones. Bones bones bones. Wander had seen plenty of those in her life, but the pile she was standing over was impressive. Smashed and broken, they were scattered over the front steps of the City Center Clinic like a child's much-abused toys. She could make out the familiar sight of skulls and other big bones, but these bones hadn't rested easy: something had disturbed the remains, if they'd come here first inside bodies. The ossurary at her feet was new; the burning city all around her wasn't. Suddenly, the familiar sight of an Omegadrone troop carrier roared overhead and disappeared over the nearest high-rise with a BOOM that shook the ground beneath her feet. When Harrier awoke, strapped into the recharging station of a heavy combat Omegadrone, Steve found himself frozen to the spot in the mortal terror of an awakened nightmare. He wasn't conscious of anything about his surroundings, only the sudden, horrible surety that his life was a dream and he was about to be taken away and dissected by the Physician. WAKEUPWAKEUPWAKEUPWAKEUPWAKEUP-the crash interrupted his frenzied mental shouts and tore him loose from the station, sending him bowled end over end against a hard steel wall before he realized the ship had crashed and that he was all alone inside it. Taking a moment to steel himself, and think of Gina, the Omegadrone chose to meet his fate head-on: armored up, he blasted out the nearest hatch and burst forth onto a murdered Freedom City street. It wasn't so strange, really, he'd seen many of those in his time. He distantly saw an armored figure in yellow and black nearby, and moved towards him with pike raised defensively.
September 26, 2011 9 AM The first mission of the new Young Freedom, at least upon their return from their world tour, was to guard Freedom Hall during what just might be the end of the world. Headmaster Summers, and the older students, had reassured the new kids that this was in the finest tradition of Claremont's premiere teen hero team. Sharl had been away for the last couple of days, and so he'd missed all those reassurances about what kinds of threats Young Freedom had faced before. Of course, for those students not used to world-threatening disasters, those words were not reassuring. What had been reassuring, in a martial sort of way, was the stern speech they'd all gotten from Lady Liberty before she and the rest of the Freedom League had departed. "Listen, all of you. I know you're teenagers, and I know you didn't sign up for this." She'd paced back and forth in front of all of them, meeting each gaze, even the ones who looked away. "But the world's in peril right now, and that means it's time for all of us who can help to do our part. The world's going to be saved, I can promise you that, but it's going to take each and every one of you to do that. The Freedom League needs to go into space to help organize our defenses on the Moon against the Gorgon. That means someone needs to watch Freedom Hall and make sure none of the artifacts here fall into the hands of supervillains. The last thing we need is a world where we've beaten the Gorgon but lost our homes to supervillains who've seized control of some of the most powerful items in the world. Are there any questions?" she asked them. "If any of you do want to back out now, now's the time." They'd have an adult chaperone for this one; Mr. Archer having left the gym behind to act as their guardian while they guarded the centerpiece of hero history in Freedom City. Things weren't pleasant outside, not with the demonstrators protesting the League's 'inaction', nor the continuing violence in the streets that Freedom City's adult heroes were doing their best to handle. Hell, there'd been an outright battle near the Claremont campus between the Irregulars and a Claremont graduate who'd gone berserk from the stress! Inside the League's briefing room, though, all was quiet as Lady Liberty's question echoed in the room.