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Found 23 results

  1. Turned Every Witch Way

    The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship! September 29, 2017 Whump. Whump. Whump. Erik Espadas' fists impacted the punching bag suspended from the dojo's ceiling over and over, hard enough to rattle the chain and give him time to switch up his footwork between strikes as the bag swung back toward him. It wasn't rhythmic exactly, as his attacks varied staccato triplets of quick jabs to single heavy swings with the entire weight of his body behind them. Even so their was a somewhat hypnotic quality to the overall pattern, his steady breathing framing the train of percussion while a light sheen of sweats showed on the skin exposed by his light tank top. He'd been at it when Raina had decided to set up in one of the stackable chairs lying against the back wall and he'd kept at it for at least ten straight minutes since, gradually picking up speed and punishing the bag more and more severely. He'd definitely seen her come in but hadn't said anything, expression focused and uncharacteristically severe. While the teenager knew the swordsman wasn't baseline human she was pretty sure he didn't have any measure of super strength and wouldn't be punching the bag clean off of its securely fastened chain. He certainly seemed to be making a go of it nonetheless. Whump. Whump. Whump.
  2. Present Arms

    January 13, 2017 3:45 PM Even in a city that catered to as many esoteric subcultures as Freedom there were only so many places a teenager might go to improve their skills with medieval weaponry. With the faculty of Claremont Academy in something of a restructuring period - and portions of the student body's faith in the combat training there having suffered somewhat - Cathy Clouston had suggested the next best thing to her girlfriend: a privately run dojo in the city's West End that had been introduced to her by her roommate. Said roommate had continued to receiving mentoring of her own there, albeit in the form of classes not openly available to the public at large. There were certain skills painfully absent from a young lady's usual education these days: picking locks while hanging upside down, disarming an attacker while wearing heels, disarming an attacker with a pair of heels...
  3. Interceptors: Echo vs Gecko

    Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship! December 16, 9:07 PM "Alright, we're locked up," Erik Espadas confirmed as he rounded the gap in the wall between the dojo's entryway and the training space. With the blinds drawn over the big front windows and a few more sophisticated measures in place the small group gathered were ready for their planned after-hours class. Unlike usual the mats were littered with piled weights, cardboard boxes and anything else that had been handy and looked like it might make for an inconvenient obstacle. "Remember, we're working on mobility tonight," he reminded the deceptively lanky man and the woman with short black hair in front of him, folding his bare arms across his plain white workout shirt. They could have easily been a pair of the college students who frequented his intermediary self-defence classes. "That means something a little different for you two than the rest of us so I figured it was past time you compared notes." The fencer let a lopsided grin split his businesslike demeanour as he stepped back toward far corner where Talya and Steve were watching. "That said, loser has to mop the footprints off my ceiling." In the apartments up above Ellie Espadas held her breath as she tip-toed out of the nursery, hoping against hope that her newest niece and nephew would stay asleep at least long enough to get back to the kitchen. Either one of them crying inevitably woke the other and even with three pairs of hands helping she wasn't sure how their parents were coping. Making it down the hallway and all the way to the kitchen table the med student silently raised a pair of crossed fingers as she sat down between Min and Mara. "And I thought pulling a double at Trinity took it out of you," she drawled just barely louder than a whisper. "Please tell me there's coffee or tea or something."
  4. Interceptors: Terrance and Emily

    Content Notices: Violence, Birth Scene Location: Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship! Date: July 19, 2016 Talya was very good at suppressing the potential consequences for her actions. Leaping off buildings, after all, was much easier if one didn't think about what missing a handhold might mean. Unfortunately, ignoring the eventual ramifications of the biology of how a baby (or two. Two!) would enter the world did not actually prevent the event. The cramps and back ache had only gotten worse despite her refusal to acknowledge that it might not just be late term pregnancy aches and pains. Although, she'd not admitted (and likely never would), it was fairly clear to those closest to Talya that the ex-spy was at least unsettled by the impending birth. Perhaps even frightened. At the moment, though, she was mostly just holding up the relocation to Sanctuary as if not stepping through the portal might some how prevent the next several hours. "I've changed my mind," Talya announced mulishly, her arms crossed over her chest. "Perhaps I could just be unconscious for the entire thing, after all. They still do that, don't they? If we went to the hospital instead, could they just knock me out?" Unlikely to say the least with her magical ability to shake off most things mundane and Talya's mystical biology did not often play well with other magics. Intellectually, she knew that but at the moment, logic was not high on the spy's list. "I'd bounce right back from a c-section. Probably. Almost certainly."
  5. U-Haul

    "Is there room for one more in that box?" Gina Espadas asked, wheeling herself backward in a tight arc with one hand and holding up a framed photo with the other. "It's one of the bigger ones." The retired police officer and single mother of two was in fully serious organizational mode partly in deference to the task at hand and partly to sidestep some of the lingering awkwardness that resulted from being left alone with the other woman in the room. Talya Browning - Gina had enough aliases to keep straight these days without worrying about whether that was the correct civilian identity for this apartment or safe house or what have you - was on the nearby couch with the last new open cardboard boxes, rearranging pictures to pack them as efficiently as possible. The renovations of the apartment Talya shared with Gina's son and daughter-in-law were close enough to completion to move most of her personal effects over but unsurprisingly there was some last minute packing left to do while Erik retrieved the borrowed truck. That left the two of them to sort things out between them in more than one sense.
  6. The Taxman Cometh

    Date: 2/18/16 Talya was down in the dojo, neither teaching nor working out. No, today was more of a maintenance day - ensuring that everything was in working order, taking inventory, and all the so-very-dull minutiae that kept the business running. Ostensibly, Talya was down in the dojo to help but the ex-theif was really as much hindrance as she was aid. Boredom was not something the immortal handled well and she was certainly not above trying to distract Erik into more entertaining endeavors. At the moment, though, Talya was vaguely on task as she was double checking to make sure that the rings she'd set into the ceiling months ago were still holding up after the use they'd seen in class. Since there were no classes at the moment, she'd discarded the extra layers that were doing less and less to conceal her pregnancy to scale the rope with a power drill in one hand to tighten the bolts, with the rope caught between her knees. "I shall never complain about teaching classes again," Talya commented, which was most likely entirely false. Oh, she liked teaching but every now and again, everyone had a day where the last thing they wanted to do was crawl out of bed in the morning.
  7. Teenage Superstars [IC]

    Date: January 25, 2016 It wasn't until after winter break that Raina could round up a small cluster of fellow students to come along to extra curricular training. On the bright side, it meant she'd had several weeks of one on one classes to be confident with both the workings of the school and the general format of the training. Always nice to be the expert in the group, after all. With a large enough group, Claremont sent the teenagers to their extra credit activity in one of the few vans for such purposes rather than letting the students make their own way. The unmarked school van pulled up to let the students unload directly in front of a well kept building in the middle of the West End. A sign proclaimed 'The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship!' (Exclamation mark included), and through the front doors was a small lobby and receptionist desk before the dojo itself. As they had forewarning that there was going to be more than just the one student, Talya had come down early to straighten things in the lobby and keep an eye out just in case the school van had trouble finding a good drop off point. Rather than standing behind the desk, the attractive blonde was perched on top of it, seated on the surface as she sorted through papers. Lately, Talya had taken to wearing a loose cut tanktop over her formfitting practice wear and today was no different. As the students disembarked she shifted the paperwork to one side to welcome the knot of teenagers. "Come on in and pick a cubby for your shoes and anything else you want to put away," Talya invited in a clipped, British accent. She flashed Raina a smile as the young woman stepped in, "Hullo, Raina." She added before raising her voice slightly, "Erik, the students are here."
  8. Unpredictable Magic

    Although Talya's reputation might give the impression that all her New Year's Eves were spent at fabulous parties or madcap adventure, the fact of the matter was she'd had plenty of quiet New Years as well. There were certainly enough years where time's steady march onwards had not been a matter to celebrate. Still, in all of the New Years that she had celebrated, loud or quiet, Talya had certainly never fallen asleep a good half an hour before the overly-hyped television special had even begun it's crescendo. Yet sleeping was just what the blonde was doing, rather uncomfortably in her position as human barrier. Sometime between when Min and Erik had stepped out, the former to bathe Eden and the latter to produce snacks, Talya had curled up on the floor to keep Mia from getting past her and was now serving as an even better handhold for cruising than the couch had provided. How Talya continued to sleep through the chubby - and potentially sticky - baby hands yanking on her side was anyone's best guess. Normally, the ex-thief slept relatively lightly. Today, though, Mia's hand catching in her hair earned only a sleepy snort as Talya shifted, one arm encircling Mia absently.
  9. A Winter's Tale

    Talya had never really thought she'd miss English weather but the unseasonably warm December really had begun to cut into the Christmas mood, in her opinion. Still, that hadn't deterred her from enjoying the season, especially with the Espadas children to shop for. Although, to be fair, it wasn't like the ex-spy needed an excuse to shop but the season was more magical when there were children to spoil and Eden was right at the right age for that. So, it wasn't unusual for Talya to try and coax Min or Erik on a holiday shopping trip once Thanksgiving had passed. Nor was it unusual for Talya to turn up in the dojo when she wasn't scheduled to teach and knew Erik's classes were light, but she wasn't dressed to spar and her expression lacked the coaxing smile that usually accompanied Talya's suggestions to play hooky. Still, things couldn't be all that terrible as she waited for things to finish up before twining her arms around his waist and offering him an affectionate kiss. "And good morning to you, handsome. I don't suppose you have time in your busy schedule for a quick errand?"
  10. Time Out

    Friday, November 13, 2015 Even with Merlin around to help supervise Raina was a little surprised to find herself to be anyone's first choice for a babysitter, short notice or not. Still, Talya had been as difficult to say no to as ever and it wasn't as though the young pyromancer couldn't use the extra income. And so she found herself in the apartments above the Espadas School on a Friday night, armed with a list of contact numbers, money to order a pizza, the knowledge that one of Erik's other students would be downstairs using the training equipment after hours and instructions that, should anything go truly badly she should literally call for 'Vince', whatever that was supposed to accomplish. While little Mia Espadas sat on the carpet in front of Raina concentrating mightily on her efforts to maneuver her own foot into her mouth, her older sister Eden looked up the tall blonde expectantly.
  11. Old Fiends

    Talya's directions had them parking well away from the school. The racy sportscar was more suited towards the life that went with the high end apartment building than her West End activities so she never parked it in the same place and never close to the school. Walking wasn't exceptionally onerous, after all. When she stepped out of her car, she pulled a different jacket over the top of her blouse, modernizing the pencil skirt enough to distance it from the tailored retro style she favored in public appearances. As Talya's quick changes went, it was relatively minor on the spectrum of what Dimitri had seen before as far as Talya's efforts went. There was no wig and only very minor make up and clothing adjustments. He was well aware that there was probably no less than four or five very different disguises in the trunk of her car. She threaded her hand through Dimitri's parka covered arm, her Russian still flawless despite the definitely loose swing of her hips and the roll of her steps. She wasn't sober, but it would take a discerning eye to notice such things. Talya put on a very convincing facade of sobriety, aided by the fact that she could probably still scale the building in her heels and narrow skirt without missing a step. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary as she fished a key out of her pocket to unlock the closed door to the front of the dojo, "We ought stay down here. If the girls are asleep, I don't want to wake them." Talya said as she opened the door and then locked it behind them, "But, I can show you where I'm spending my time, nonetheless. You can tell me what you think of the very minor addition I made."
  12. Hell on High Heels

    The Espadas School of Swordsmanship and Sword-Fighting (!) was just a little busier than the last time Raina had shown up for her lesson. It was a small knot of largely older ladies filtering out through the door and gossiping as they collected their belongings and gathered up to leave. When she stepped past the still-empty receptionist area, the only instructor visible was Talya as she spoke with one of the older ladies in friendly tones. Unfortunately, the attractive male teacher was no where to be seen. Oddly, as Raina drew closer, the crisp British accent was gone and Talya's half of the conversation was softer voiced, her tone pitched a little higher and the faint traces of a midwestern accent and phrases peppering her speech. She hustled the lady off with a friendly smile before putting up the sign for a private lesson in progress. "Sorry about that. Delightful lady, really, but I made the mistake of mentioning that I know how to knit and now it takes a few minutes to extricate myself from discussions of patterns post class without fail," Talya sounded once more herself, assuming of course that this was the actual natural intonations of the woman in question. Today, she wore black tights that ended at the calf and a leotard over that. "Put your things down in the corner and we'll stretch out just a bit first. The last thing you need to do is cramp a calf. How's your week been?"
  13. Second Chances (Or Third?)

    Between working at the dojo and... other things, Talya was clocking an awful lot of hours at the Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship(!). Today was no different, except that the dojo was currently empty of students - and most other bodies - save for the blonde currently standing in the main work out area with a decent size ring in hand as she examined the ceiling. Talya was almost always in the 'do what you want, beg forgiveness after the fact' mindset so this indecision was new. New and unpleasant! It was a good idea, Talya told herself firmly. One couldn't have students practice hanging upside down and doing things without having something sturdy to hang FROM. If Erik had only been her employer, Talya would already have had this installed in a joist and been ready to smile prettily when asked about the new addition to the workspace. It was even designed to fold up when not in use. It was a good plan. Muttering under herb breath, Talya resolutely turned towards the wall and within a few seconds had scaled the wall to balance with one foot on top of the stand of practice swords and her palm flat against the ceiling as she began running the stud finder over the ceiling. She was going to be perfectly normal, darnit!
  14. It took two passes over the West End for Raina to find the Espadas School for Self-Defense, mainly because the first time around, she'd discounted the building covered in plants without a second thought. Why would a dojo have a rooftop garden? On the second time around, Merlin and the GPS colluded to convince her to at least make a landing and check it out. With a much put-upon sigh, Raina landed and dropped her invisibility as she slung her broom over her shoulder, not willing to admit aloud that Merlin had been correct. The laughter coming from inside her backpack was galling enough. The school looked sort of like a business and sort of like a house, to the point where Raina wasn't sure if it was okay to just go in or not. Better safe than sorry when it came to just barging into somebody's house, she decided, with only a thick hint of bitterness, and knocked loudly on the front door.
  15. Strangers You Know

    The blond slipped in as the most recent class was just starting to wrap up, rather like she'd timed it that way. Talya had paused outside to admire the facade and the rather bold sign choice. Of course, she really hadn't expected anything less. Letting the door shut behind her, she glanced at the front desk before slipping between the students currently filtering out towards the entrance. Crowds were really always the best cover one could ask for and old habits died hard. Although, Talya really wasn't up to any nefarious purpose today. The students didn't spare her a second glance, really, not beyond the occasional appreciative glance an attractive twenty-something blond might usually garner. Perhaps her boots fell a little too softly on the ground as she skirted the training area, working her way around to the professor. "Uh, Mr. Espadas?" She pitched her voice higher, the accent soft and vaguely mid-western. Hesitant, apologetic. "I was wondering if you might have an opening in one of these classes?" The woman asking the question was blond, pretty - certainly, but Talya was well aware that with softer, subtler makeup and her hair pulled back up into a loose ponytail, she presented a very different picture than her normal attire. That, really, was the point. Gone was the tailored 40's clothing in exchange for a soft turtleneck and a pleated skirt and tights that would have looked entirely normal on a woman her apparent age. The only real give away was Talya's laughing blue eyes, which crinkled around the corners as she added, still in the softer American drawl as there were still students about, "Hullo, Erik."
  16. Interceptors: Mia

    March 20, 2015 It wasn't that Erik Espadas was expecting trouble, not really, but he subscribed to the idea that it paid to be the one carrying the biggest stick. Or to be friends with the people carrying the biggest sticks, anyway. When they'd worked out the rough schedule for Min's pregnancy nobody had been particularly surprised to find her due date landed on the vernal equinox. After the unexpected 'visit' by his extended family in the House of Swords for the birth of his first daughter, though, a whole different sort of planning had seemed in order this time around, just to be safe. Stesha had offered to host them on Sanctuary, of course, but even with one or two super-powered healers on hand the idea of being in a whole different reality from the closest modern hospital made Erik a little nervous. If he were being completely honest with himself there was also the fact that he wanted his second child to be born in Freedom City's West End just as he had. If was their home and he wasn't about to let anyone chase them out. That said, even if they weren't going to an earth goddess, the earth goddess could still come to them. A good section of the first floor of the Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship (!) was covered in toys where Stesha was keeping watch over Eden and Amaryllis laughing and playing, chatting amiably with Gina. Nearby Mara and Liz were engaged in an animated discussion of tweaks and improvements to the building's security over a folding table covered in computer equipment including a laptop displaying Vince's neon-green suit wearing avatar. They'd sent Chris out to get food mostly because it seemed like the only way to keep him from standing watch on the top of the building in full costume while Steve had insisted on standing guard, gargoyle like, outside of the second floor apartment where Ellie was making her sister-in-law comfortable. Yolanda had taken up a position across from Steve, solemnly following the taciturn bald man's example. It was, all told, a small army of love and support. Not that that stopped Erik himself from pacing back and forth with nervous energy, his gaze jumping back and forth between the stairs, the clock and Eden, hands clasped behind his back.
  17. "Stories?" Eden Espadas inquired with a hopeful inflection as she ducked her head under her aunt's elbow and pulled herself up onto Ellie's lap to get a better look at the medical text open on the table in front of them. With a small laugh, Ellie shifted the toddler about into a safer position. "Not exactly, Edie. Y'know how tu papa teaches people here? This is how I learn how to be a doctor." She'd set herself up at a deck on the dojo's first floor partly so that she could take advantage of the light coming in through the large front windows and partly so she could keep an eye on her niece as she played on the pads covering most of the floor. Chris had also mentioned something about coming by to work on the security systems in the headquarters hidden in the converted bomb shelter under their feet and with her brother and sister-in-law out celebrating their anniversary she wanted to watch the door in the meantime. Eden looked equally skeptical at the idea of a book that wasn't for stories as she did about her aunt being a doctor. She liked Ellie, after all, and she knew she didn't enjoy visiting the doctor much at all. She could only assume it was another case of an adult trying to be funny. They did that a lot.
  18. Growth Rings

    The morning sunlight streaming through the window of the modest apartment above the Espadas School School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship took on pale renditions of the vividly hued flowers growing across the window sill and up the sides of its frame. The plants were flourishing despite the lingering chill of early spring and the curtains were open to allow the cascade of light to gradually work its way across the floor, over rumpled bedsheets and finally across the eyelids of the slumbering couple. Ever the light sleeper, the leisurely way Erik Espadas opened his eyes belied the quickness with which he was alert, consciously choosing to luxuriate in the softness of the bed and the warm tangle of copper toned arms and legs wrapped around his own. Minerva's flowing white mane was practically a second blanket all on its own but with her lithe form pressed close against him Erik never would have noticed a draft anyway. He opened one eye wide enough to watch the familiar metronome twitch of her delicately pointed ear, in sync with the heartbeat in his chest and finally risked shifting from his immensely comfortable position to kiss the tip of the ear. Settling back down he rolled slightly to pull his wife further on top of his bare chest, lined and dimpled with faint scars, and murmured with feigned concern, "You know, Mrs. Espadas, I'm beginning to suspect this isn't a one night stand at all."
  19. Paying It Forward

    Eve exhaled slowly, shoring up her resolve and willing the butterflies to leave her alone, at least for a few moments and risked a glance at the mirror. Outwardly she appeared calm and collected, but the young woman knew what to look for, and saw the faint mark of nervousness on her features. But worry was reasonable, even expected, as she was about to put into motion something she spent a long time planning. Brushing a hand through her snow white hair--longer than it had been in years, resting between her shoulder blades--Eve stepped from her car. She stood outside the Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship, though today she wasn't here for training; her jacket, blouse and knee-length skirt made for poor sword-fighting apparel. The worst that he can say is no, Eve thought to herself as she gathered her courage and entered.
  20. A warm summer breeze blew through the West End street of small businesses and restaurants weathering the times with varying degrees of success. The light wind stirred the gorgeous flowering plants hanging from the second storey windows of one such building, trailing leaves and vines brushing against the top of a bold gold-on-black sign that proclaimed the street-level floor to be home to "The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship!". The dojo had been open for a little over a month at that point, attendance gradually picking up as fliers throughout the city and good word-of-mouth did their job. The proprietor was a well like native of the neighbourhood if unknown in the city at large and while the more introductory self defense courses were all well and good it was the more specific sword fighting classes which were purportedly worth the trip. Erik Espadas himself was locked in particularly grueling battle with the second hand computer on the reception desk, attempting to bring up the spreadsheet with the list of new students signed up for that week's class. "No, that's the budget," he grumbled under his breath, the annoyed expression on his lightly stubbled face visible from the other side of the large windows that looked out onto the street. "Depressing but not helpful right now. C'mon..." The attendee would be showing up shortly; if he could get this sorted out he was going to have to track down a pad of paper and a pen to take attendance.
  21. The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship [20EP] Size: Small (128') [0EP] Toughness: +15 [2EP] Features: [18EP] Upstairs Apartments [3EP] Infirmary 2 [Masterwork] Living Space Street-Level Dojo [9EP] Cover Facility Defense System [Nauseate 13 (faux gas leak)] Fire Prevention System Gym Parade Grounds Power System Security System 3 [DC 30] Basement Headquarters [6EP] Communications Computer Defense System 2 [snare 13 (gel cannons), Stun 13 (electrified panels)] Personnel [V.I.N.C.E.] Think-Tank [V.I.N.C.E] Notes: Masterwork facilities provide a +2 uncapped circumstance bonus to the relevant skill checks just like Masterwork equipment. Parade Grounds (Agents of Freedom) gives everyone who defends the HQ a free rank of Teamwork. Think-Tank (Agents of Freedom) gives +2 to a Gather Info, Investigate, or Knowledge check after a day of pondering a given problem.
  22. The bombastic sign above the otherwise nondescript storefront proclaimed the institution to be "The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship!" in bold gold lettering on a black backround complete with exclamation mark. Large glass windows revealed a currently unattended front desk and a diving wall that separated the training space from the street entrance. The second floor of the brick building looked to be given over to modest apartments, though it was worth noting that the window boxes hanging from them were host to some truly gorgeous flowering plants, fully in bloom in the August heat. Their leaves brushed against the top of the sign invitingly. The school had been up and running for about a month by then, advertising through posters and word of mouth not to mention a surprisingly well designed and maintained website. It was in one of the nicer parts of the West End fortunately enough; those inclined to research such things might have noted that it had become a noticeably nicer area since the proprietors of the dojo had moved in. Thing has been a little slow to start off with but a new wave of self-defense classes were starting that day and a good number of new members had signed up. Erik Espadas, the titular owner and head instructor busied himself unhooking a punching bag from the ceiling and moving it to one side of the larger section of the building, clearing off space in preparation. In a sleeveless white shirt and and comfortable sweat pants, the athletic, dusty haired young man certainly looked capable enough, built of lean muscle and angular good looks. The real question was just what this new batch of trainees would bring him.
  23. The building wasn't much to look at, if one was being brutally honest. Like a lot of structures in the West End, it was two storeys tall, designed to be a place for business on the ground level with small living apartments on the second floor. The space for a sign was empty and evidently had been for a while if the weathering was any indication, not to mention the birds' nest tucked in between the top of the large placard and the window sill above it. The large windows were filthy enough to make them nearly opaque and the hinges on the door were probably going to need to be replaced altogether. Despite all that, the young, dusty brown haired man in the wool-lined coat standing on the sidewalk in front of it, keys spinning around his finger jauntily, grinned broadly enough to show pearly teeth as he regarded the building. "Perfect."
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