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Found 918 results

  1. ic

    The Liberty Dome was situated between Midtown and the Theater District. A large events complex where the city’s major sports teams play. The 80,000-seat stadium also plays host to other sporting events as well as major concerts and shows during the year. It modern and modular and able host something like the high end charity concert (a couple grand for the privilege), as well as have facilities for the after party. It also had a dumb name. Well Amir felt that was the case, it felt so dated, but then he supposed that was better than auctioning off the naming rights every five to ten years. At least the Europeans had that right with their naming conventions for such buildings, sports economics notwithstanding. As per usual he had arrived in high fashion, in his latest acquisition a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante, sky blue with white trim. It cost him quite a bit, and he wondered, precisely, how much was the car for himself or the image he had cultivated carefully. He still liked it, however. What he didn't like was this concert, he was here to support the charity, something... he couldn't remember which one as he did so many. He couldn't get away with spending money on one of these things and then disappearing. He'd eat it in the press, and the rumor mill. It didn't help that Agnus was performing. So... here he was, trying to not interact with Agnus, while doing his best to be personable. Fortunately her hair made her easy to track, and adjust his path and everything accordingly, managing to come across extra 'not entirely present' tonight, while simultaneously wishing he could get three sheets to the wind.
  2. ic

    GM Thursday, April 13th, 2017 The Freedom Ledger Office, Freedom City 2:24 PM It was a slow news day so far. There had been some reports about a corrupt politician going around the entire last week, so the quiet was certainly appreciated by most of the office. Everybody needed some time off occasionally. Still, slow news days meant that generally, the one thing most people did was smalltalk. Smalltalk, or stare at the screen of their respective preferred devices. Something which Dancia Devons now had ample reason to do, as she received a message by an unknown number. Which, in her line of work, usually either meant trolls, death threats, or information. In this case, it was, most likely, the latter. Hey Remember that thing you said back at the Christmas party Have something that might interest you, and could need some help with it Where and when can you meet me Preferably Riverside, but I can adapt -Bonfire
  3. ic

    March 24, 2017. Freedom City. Various places. Mid-Afternoon. Six heroes. Varying ages. Varying skillsets. Varying modus operandi. All of who sudden vanished off the face of the earth. There was no flash of light, no psychedelic tube of travelling. It was simply six people who were one place and then suddenly not. But from their perspective, they had not moved. The world had suddenly become different around them. And yet much the same. What had happened wasn’t hard to figure out. This was not their world. ***************** It had taken Terrifica moments to figure out she wasn’t on her Earth anymore. The lack of tailpipes on the cars was one big clue. Another was the lack of trash on the street. A dozen subtle things that simply were wrong. Fear and curiosity mixed. Her motorcycle was a dimensional wall away, and it was highly unlikely even cash would be of any assistance. So, she was walking. It was indeed The Fens, but..not. The signs of poverty and desperation were…gone. There were people around, of course, but they were moving with a purpose in mind. No loitering on street corners, front stoops, or building lobbies. She fought back anxiety at being stranded. Away from home. From family. First things first. Find a library. Assuming they hadn’t been banned in this dimension, clues would be easy enough to find in one. Newpapers, history books, geography, even encyclopedias could be useful in getting her bearings. ***************** In her chambers, the Empress, her Imperial Majesty, Savior of Humanity & Mother of The Modern World, was kind of annoyed. “So. You’re telling me either the dimensional transporter I designed and built failed to function, or that you are the kind of idiot who can’t read simple information displays.” She waved her hand at an apologetic courtier. “No, don’t strain yourself trying to answer. Like always, I already know what happened. There was a flicker from the Terminus. Slight, but enough to throw off the location calculations. it wasn't unexpected.” She pulled back a sleeve and pressed at the flexible flatscreen on her wrist. “I’ve just uploaded the tracker program. It’s based on a combination of their dimensional and super power energy signatures, which were recorded during transport.” She saved her hand at the courtier, dismissing him. “Go. Find them and bring them to me. Gods know I can’t trust you to explain the problem to them.”
  4. ic

    GM April 17th, 2017, Emerald City University Something was swirling in the ether, a sensation that only the attuned could feel. And Kimo was one of those. A message from the Gods. It was a command, of sorts. Perhaps a request. Perhaps a challenge. Perhaps all. Into view swam Professor Gallagher, the elderly short man who always insisted on wearing too heavy clothes in too heavy heat. He was surely due retirement but he ran on hard will. His stick clicked on the floor of the university and then raised, a little unsteady, pointing at Kimo. Professor Gallagher was one of the Professors of ancient american history in the university, with some rather strange ideas he took to professing. He also taught Kimo. He was pointing him out to a woman in her thirties, a professional woman of enigmatic and magnetic look. Long and wild blonde hair fell around darker skin. Maybe she was Colombian, or Bolivian. Glasses gave a intelligent almost serious, and almost sad, look to her. The Gods had directed Kimo to help this woman. A moment later, the two were there. "This is Doctor Sanchez" explained the Professor. "Oncologist. know what that means, don't you?" said the Professor, testing the young man. "She has some notion of a cure for cancer. Mmmm. We should be so lucky. Except some of her ideas also are in keeping with mine. Anyway, she needs someone who knows a bit about history to help her and...." Somehow the will of the Gods had bent his mind to Kino. He didn't quite understand why, pausing, trying to work out the reason he had chosen Kino, but the Gods were strong and subtle. "...well I would be so good as to go on a field trip with her? I'm getting to old. Somewhere down the river, something....ancient, I think" he said, with mind once again foggy from divine interference.
  5. ic

    GM Za'ak orbital station The Lodge The planet of Za'ak was a harsh place. The air borne spores could kill you. The bug swarms could tear you apart. Even the grazing beasts could crush you underfoot. From what the locals of the surrounding systems said, it wasn't that everything was trying to kill you but that compared to everything there? You were just fragile. At least if you were Lor or human. The station above the death world was filled with quite a few of both. The inside of the whole station was made to look like a log cabin. Mounted on the wall were animals and beasts from across Lor space and the Delaztri empire. Some rare, some common, and at least one was unique. Or so the owner liked to claim. The owner of the entire tire station was a very old Grue who was going just by the name of Warden. Which made some sense. The whole point of this station, the Lodge he called it, was to provide access to the most savage hunting grounds in the galaxy. The Warden was apparently above board, but his hiring process might have needed some work. A few of the hunting party guides were wanted in other parts of the galaxy. Mostly small fry. Mostly small Fry, except for one. Wanted Clinton "Carnivore" Cain species: Human crimes: 116 counts of hunting violations, 50 counts of poaching protected creatures, 700 counts of smuggling Reward: 300,000 Lor credits Dead or Alive
  6. ic

    GM Monday, January 30th, 2017 The Boardwalk, South Freedom, Freedom City 11:05 AM Leeroy Street was one of the less nice places in The Boardwalk. It was still nicer than many places further down south, but to people that knew the place, it stood out. Refuse Collectors generally had a pretty good idea of what happened in various places, how businesses were doing, where parties happened, and so on. Sometimes, it was still surprising just what the latest trash could tell about a place. Today, Winter Snow, alias Synth, was once more assigned to the area including this street. At least it never got boring. So, after a while, the truck had arrived at the small street, lined with the less fancy establishments that somehow existed everywhere. A run down bar, an old movie store, and a few others, in similar condition. This was the third week in a row that she’d been assigned to this area after the weekend. Perhaps it was starting to be a routine of some sort? Either way, everything went as usual, until she got to Scrapper’s, a bar of some sorts. They always had a fair bit of trash, and for the last two weeks, something had stood out. The first week, there was a slight hint of blood in the trash’s smell. Nothing too strange, bars had accidents (and fights) too, so she had just noted it down as something that happened occasionally. Last week, the smell also was there, slightly stronger even. But this week? This week was different. It was still there. But it wasn’t a hint. It was more. The smell of blood was, at least to her, noticeable. Something was in these bags.
  7. ic

    Freedom City, New Jersey Thursday, 23 March 2017 Afternoon Arthur Campbell was many things to many different people. He was a world-renowned geologist, a contemporary of Edmund Hillary, one of the last great explorers, a guest lecturer at HIT and FCU, He was a philanthropist and a regular figure in Freedom City's gala scene, always a perfect gentleman and the life of the party. He also had excellent taste as he had requested the help of Samantha Carson when he ran into a sticky problem with some crystals. He was also a figure of interest to the police, given the number of police cars gathered around his North Point mansion and the police tape across the entrance. Samantha Carson was parked on the side of the road, watching the flurry of police activity. She was supposed to be meeting with Arthur in, well, about thirty seconds, but driving through a police cordon would make that much more complicated.
  8. ic

    GM Thursday, April 20th, 2017 2:24 PM Morning, this came in today. Not as in, was sent, but as in “suddenly popped up in my drafted messages”. Is directed towards you too, so check it out: Hello You may remember me, I’m the one that helped you with Solemn’s network. I’ve got some information you and your scaly buddy are almost certainly interested in. New stuff about the guy and some stuff heating up again. The bench, where we first met. Today, 7:24 PM. Both of you. This is not a request. -Ph0enix Thoughts? Sounds pretty damn ominous, but going’s probably safer. All messages by Bonfire, written in quick succession, and received by Leviathan.
  9. ic

    GM Saturday, February 18th, 2017 Backstage, The Schuster Auditorium, Hanover 9:06 PM Today was the night of One Last Shot. As UWL’s traditional February PPV, it was the place where two men walked in, and one walked out. It was where the big storylines of the winter season ended, and the first seeds for Spring and Summer were sown. It was full of brutal matches, and it was full of heated confrontations. And, it soon would be the place of the debut that would influence the upcoming seasons. Backstage, things were rather quiet. The second most important match of the night had just ended, and now most people had gone to grab something from catering. As Glacier, now once more holding UWL’s Freedom Championship, returned to backstage, he immediately went to the group standing next to the technicians. Hedley “The Orangutan” DeShaek. Kwame “Hammer” Harris. Jesse “The Spur” Cassidy. Sharon “Vixen” Nelson. Zayn Lee. Save DeShaek, they all wore matching outfits. The moment they had been training for ever since joining the UWL was only one match away. Soon, they would be ready. He was just going through the program once more, to make sure everything was right. While the three would sneak in with the technicians setting up the final match and hide in the crowd (they had all gotten extra large hoodies), Kwame would stay backstage. And once the main event was over, it was time. He would stand there, make his entrance, and reveal himself, and his group-members, to the world. “Okay, that’s all, we’ve trained this. Now, get ready to go out there with the techies. And, guys, good luck. Let’s have a debut for the history books. “ Glacier had stayed in the background, but now walked up to them, smiling. “Let’s show them what you’re made of.”
  10. ic

    Saturday, February 5th Riverside Savings & Loan, Freedom City It was a sleepy day in Freedom City, the shining face of the Riverside Savings & Loan reflecting the sun off the surface of the river. Officer Morel pulled into the bank parking lot, noting that there wasn't much activity in the bank this Saturday morning. Usually plenty of folks were lined up early in the day to take care of their banking on the weekend. While Morel saw a few cars in the lot -- including a pair of cherry roadsters that looked to be from the 20s or 30s -- he didn't see anyone moving around inside the lobby. That prickled his senses and probably saved his life. The officer turned to reach for his car's radio, saw a glint of metal, and dove behind the engine block. Gunfire roared across the parking lot, rounds glancing off the pavement and exploding against metal. A figure stepped up to the broken bank window and Morel paused the gape at it. The man was dressed in an impeccable pin-stripe suit, wide-brimmed hat, and was balancing an honest-to-God Tommy gun on his hip. What shocked the police officer the most, though, was the face of steel and iron that looked out from under the hat. Another burst of automatic gunfire made Morel hug the ground. "That's right, copper," the metal-faced robber shouted. "Keep yer head down and keep the other flatfoots out of, and no one in here has to get whacked!"
  11. This is a mistake, Tristan Delacroix thought glumly as he waited on the moonlit beach. Tonight he was a slender, middle aged man, tanned to the point of leathery wrinkles. Freedom City wasn't known for its surfing, and furthermore this was the wrong time of year for it anyway, but the disguise still brought him some comfort. Just some guy enjoying the beach, late at night. If only the rest of his plan was as simple. He spent the whole day second-guessing himself. Easy enough to think about inviting an outsider to his new lair--well, no, even that wasn't very easy--but actually following through with the idea brought the risks to the forefront of his mind and pushed all possible rewards to deep, dark corners. Even just Bonfire, whom he trusted fairly well by this point, could cause him terrible harm. Perhaps just inadvertently; trusting the other hero's motives wasn't the same as putting potentially his entire heroic career in Bonfire's smoky hands. The blog deal hasn't backfired yet, he reminded himself. No, no, that's unfair. It's going well. That's probably how Rayzer heard of me, so failing all else, at least Bonfire is effective. That guy was all the way on the West Coast! I could probably go to space and get recognized before long. At any rate, it was too late now. He had already contacted his "publicist" to request a meeting, with vague details, and most dangerous of all, advised Bonfire to bring a camera. Tristan was sure that he could pick and choose what was photographed, but would that be enough? What if he missed something? He imagined a fan intensely studying their computer screen for clues, and finding a loose thread that unraveled the whole tapestry he spent years creating. Never before had his cover story felt so flimsy. Tristan shivered from more than the chilly air, but didn't leave the beach. All he could do was proceed with watchful caution and trust his ally. Time would tell if that was enough.
  12. ic

    GM When Tristan Delacroix first disappeared, the initial reaction at the party was simply bewilderment. No one panicked, thanks to the lack of apparent trauma. Even after the young doctor failed to pop up from beneath the outdoor table, his family and coworkers weren't sure what to make of it. But soon Alexander called the police, and then a few of his friends in local government to ensure that law enforcement was properly motivated. AEGIS quickly took an interest too; jurisdictional protocols kept them from claiming the case for themselves without more evidence of superhuman involvement, but they nonetheless dispatched Agent Thornton, who only just closed her last case involving a Delacroix abduction. And Thornton, smart enough to use all the assets at her disposal, put out a broadcast on the International Air Distress frequency for Miracle Girl. That hero's contribution, sadly, came down to looking around the estate and confirming that, yep, the little dude was gone. She didn't find any cackling villains lurking in the bushes, or ultraviolet ransom notes waiting for her eyes only; theories abounded among the regular investigators, but evidence did not. Casey might need some help with this one. * * * Calls were made, the media took note, and by the time that dawn lit Delvin's upper roof--a house so frivolously large that it looked like a posh, poorly-located shopping mall, because no private residence had any business being this big--his stone driveway was full of police cruisers and black SUVs with government plates. News vans lined the nearest public road. Tristan wasn't quite so well-known as the older two brothers, but he'd still draw in viewers, and if he didn't, then reporters could still find something worth their time here. They hovered just beyond the police barricades, hungry but patient. This was Freedom City, and sooner or later, heroes were bound to show up.
  13. Monday, June 13th, 2016 AEGIS Headquarters, City Center, Freedom City 8:21 AM A Monday morning. Nobody likes Monday mornings. Not even the men and women at AEGIS. No matter how much they liked their job, they also liked sleeping, and Monday mornings generally didn’t allow for the latter, even more so when employed by the American Elite Government Intervention Service. Among the many employees currently working, both in the Federal Building, and the actual headquarters below, were Agents Ethan Stone and James Warne, codenames Upgrade and Adept. After a run-in with an upstart hero a month ago, the two of them had been working to get the permission for a formal AEGIS Investigation. Not an easy task by any means. The company was spending a lot of money on their legal team, doing the best to make sure AEGIS would not come after them. Amongst them, Jonah Cullstone. Harvard Law. He had been making sure that any progress was denied, every little vulnerability covered. And not only was there opposition from outside. Many people inside AEGIS also believed that it was best to allow Neutron Industries to continue what they had been doing, they were important to the government. World needs power, and so long as they weren’t doing anything illegal that could be proven, there was no reason to interrupt. Not that that had stopped the two agents. They continued doing whatever they could to gain permission. And they were not alone, a variety of people all across AEGIS gave them their support. When James Warne entered his office that Monday, he was greeted by a familiar face. Vincent Clarkson. Clarkson had been assigned to the last assignment dealing with Bonfire and Neutron Industries, and had helped the agents with their efforts to get permission. His face showed exhaustion, and a smell of coffee accompanied him. In his hand, a file, only a few pages of paper inside. “We’ve got the Go-Ahead.“
  14. ic

    GM "I do mean to apologize, again," Doctor Browning was insisting - for about the fourth time, by Indira's reckoning - as he stood there wringing his hands. "I really simply do not know how the alarm went off like that, much less falsely. It's the budget cuts, you see; we don't really have many maintenance staff left...." The building had certainly seen better days. At some point in the past, the Hanover site had been some manner of large research and development facility, with the footprint of a warehouse and the multi-story brick design of an office building. As recently as a few years ago it might have been a bustling center of the sort of science that came accompanied by mad laughter and lightning bolts, but from what the ghost and the alien had seen on their way up it now housed sheet-covered machines and abandoned labs, the outside keeping up appearances while the inside was slowly claimed by dust and entropy. Not that foreknowledge of the metaphorical rot in a financially collapsing research institute would have kept them out, of course. Kimber Storm and Indira Singh had been in the area on other business, but they weren't likely to ignore a piercing shriek of an alarm, nor an old man rushing down the sidewalk shouting about assailants and his "precious findings". Which, unfortunately, led them to their current predicament. "Problems of the past, surely!" chimed in Doctor Whale, before anyone else could - a recurring problem. He was thinner than his portly companion, and clean-shaven to his partner's mustache, with only slightly more optimistic hand-wringing as he circled their prized possession. Clear on the top floor of the building, they'd found the object of their concern sitting exactly where it had been left yesterday: a curious sphere, pulled apart into two halves, wires and devices trailing out of it and into the monitors and unnameable science paraphernalia. "Why, we'll be back on the map with this, in no time. You'll see. No false alarms will stop us, no sir, no how, and then we can get this place right humming again, with all-new alarms and better security and new labs...." The only person not wringing his hands sighed - a larger, better-dressed businessman with close-shaved hair, briefly referenced to by the others as a 'Mr. Bole'. "Please pardon them," he said in a light accent, offering Ghost Girl and Wraith a sympathetic look at the severe lack of polite disengagement they'd been offered so far. "I don't want to waste any more of your time. They're brilliant, but...excitable. It's the sphere, you see - some military and government groups are starting to offer 'safe' alien or extra-dimensional technology out to some of us for research, if they can't make anything of it, and...well. I guarantee that what happens here will finally pull this company back out of the red, but you don't need to be here for that. If you don't mind, I'll show you out myself, before Doctor Hitch bursts in and completes the trio, and you never esca--" The door to the lab burst open, a severely winded man in a lab coat gasping for air after apparently sprinting his way up the building - a scene the heroines had seen three times, now, in ever-diminishing levels of impressiveness. "I got the - t-the alert!" he shouted, too much volume echoing around too much space. " it okay? Did anyone break in and t-take it?"
  15. ic

    GM Coalition Victory Station The Shift Work Bar, Brickstown March 24, 2017 (Terran Calendar) The Shift Work was hardly the most upstanding establishment. Tucked right in the heart of Brickstown the bar was an easy stop off for the various workers in the manufacturing plants of this part of the station. The patrons were mostly honest working people, looking for a place to rest after a long day's work. Some of course were looking to do a little more, get into fights or get drunk on cheaper and stronger stuff than you could find in plenty of other places in Lor space. People from around the galaxy, people who were in danger of this new menace. The disappearances had been getting worse. More and more people were vanishing or else being found dead. All of them were either drained of blood or they were left flash frozen. Rumors were that some metropolis on Earth, millions of light years away was facing a similar problem. There was an air of unease at the Shift Work. Two patrons had been last seen leaving this bar. In one corner a patron watched the bar, waiting. A Green Xobron, an uncommon sight in this part of the galaxy. His two pairs of arms were folded as he slowly used one of his tails to raise a drink to his lips. Life goes on, no matter how hard someone tries to stop it. Gear thought to himself, it was inspiring. The killings had felt odd, and targeting those who would have little impact on the galaxy, the tell tale mark of a time criminal. He would know. So he waited, and watched, for something that felt off.
  16. ic

    GM March 21st, Tuesday, 2017 Then With a final burst of power Citizen's android housing scattered across the floor. The unimaginable scale of the energy needed to discorporate an Archetech android originally built for super-level combat against space-borne opponents had the air tingling and crackling for a long time. The explosion's titanic BOOM faded, cushioned by the noise-cancelation field, but it rang in the ears of those watching for hours after the fact. The core was a whiff of vapor. Behind the screens someone said "It worked." Someone else began "Now we are all sons of b-" "We talked about this. No." "Sorry." A third "He's just going to come back." The last "And now we know we can beat him. Again and again and again..." Now Citizen woke up in the quiet peace and humming familiarity of Gina Evans' digital sanctum. To a quiet little house and a big happy dog panting lovingly on his shoulder. To the certain knowledge something very wrong had happened. Archetech West wasn't equipped for holding copies of Citizen. Its spare android sets weren't even unsealed. So far as anyone knew, nothing in either Emerald City was actually personally dangerous to what was effectively the most powerful single entity on the Pacific Coast. Apparently that had changed.
  17. ic

    Lukēkā gā'um̐, Tibet Perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking a breathtaking series of mountains that didn’t quite seemed liked it did flying into the village seemed as classically tibetan as you could get. It seemed almost timeless as if it came fully formed from another century. The locals seemed to be unconcerned with the sudden arrival of stranger as if they see similar things or stranger, than them. It was easy to spot who they were here to see if you knew what to look for her features were the same as Merge, though a more natural beauty. And a lot more conservatively dressed in suitable gear for the cold temperatures of the village, sat at a sturdy wooden table a steaming mug of what smelled like coffee in front of her. Spotting the heroes she gave a smile a stood up to greet them both. “Hi there I’m Nicki. Please take a seat I’m sure you’ve got some questions to ask.”
  18. ic

    GM Early evening Saturday Night, Bedlam City, April the 8th. Fat Joe was rotund as ever. He was a tall man, bald, always wearing sunglasses in the worst of weather, with a smile that nearly split his face and wobbled his jowls. He knew plenty of people in Bedlam, and got on with most of them. He sported a missing front tooth from the one time his friendly demeanour just got some crook up the wrong way. But, as he said, he was damned if he was ever gonna stop smiling. Fat Joe sold hot dogs on the street. They weren't particularly good, but they weren't bad either. More onions that meat, usually. He just liked selling them, and people like buying them. He liked telling jokes, and demanded his customers tell him good ones. If it was a good one, they got extra mustard and two sausages in the bread. He didn't make a whole lot of money, but he didn't starve either. Clearly, he didn't starve. He was 25 stone, easy. "Say, Smith, what's brown and sticky?" he asked the Tattered Man, giving him his toothy smile. "And how about I give you extra onions if you help me out?"
  19. GM April 22, 2017 12:00 am Toys. There was always something fun about finding new toys. He remembered flipping through catalogs as a small child, trying to find the right thing to ask for. Enough money could buy almost any toy. But of course some toys were priceless. Sometimes people would share these toys. But he'd learned it was always easier to take and not ask. Who cared really? If they really wanted to keep the toys they would have taken better care of them. They wouldn't leave them lying around. He activated the process of "ordering" his new toys. There was a flash of blue light. That was the last thing each of the heroes had seen. That flash had dulled to a city street. A street that could have been any street in Freedom. Kind of. Dozens of cars were on the street unmoving. The towers looked right, but there was no one around. No one save the other heroes in a similar state of recovering from a stupor.
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    March 2017 Wading Way The Blanchard Center (Freedom's Fourth Best Conference Venue!) 6PM Down below on the conference room floor, the tech representatives, executives, and families were circulating, spending the last couple of hours on the conference floor before supper started at 6:30. Through their ranks, a predator stalked - though you wouldn't have known it to look at him. His suit and tie didn't fit exactly right - he needed specially cut suits to accommodate his binder anyway, and his arms were considerably bulkier than his counterpart's in this dimension, but plenty of teenage guys didn't quite fit into the suits designed for an adult's frame anyway. He'd left most of his gear on the rooftop across the street, the same place he'd used as a base to spy on this place (by means of binoculars by night), so here he just looked like any other smart teenager with an eye for miniaturized portable computers. Just the sort of thing he could use to make a really awesome bolt.... One eye closed, he sighted down the length of one particular chip, getting a strange look from the man behind the table. "Just looking," he commented, setting the chip back down. "What kind of heat tolerance do you have here?" The crowd of strangers moving from table to table behind him was hardly on his mind at all - well, relatively speaking, anyway.
  21. April 1, 2017 It wasn't that Winifred Wei wasn't allowed into the city by herself, per se, rather everyone involved agreed that given her condition it would have been monumentally unwise. Still, prudence had never ranked high among her gifts and the restriction chafed. Browsing the breathtaking wealth of information available via the Academy's computer lab kept her reasonably occupied but while picking through the bibliography of references on a poorly maintained page the displaced Victorian was surprised to come across the title of a long out-of-print book written by one Heinrich Schreiber. What Winifred knew which the site's amateur scholar could not have was the Schreiber was the pen name of one Nika Azadeh Sharifi, one of London's famous 'rogue scientists' - famous, at least, in her own day. Old Madar Nika had been wizened by the time Winifred had met her, only half coherent, though that had still placed her among the more reliable in that community of peers. She'd never heard of the older woman having had any of her work published in earnest, only the occasional pamphlet but as she began researching in earnest she learned that 'Properties of Humours and Tinctures Thereof' had been complied well after its author had passed away, complied from recovered notebooks as an oddity more than serious research. She had known, of course, that in the century and a half she'd spent transmuted into a statue anyone she had ever known had surely passed away but it was still a sobering thought. Further digging and several phone calls later the young alchemist had learned that against all odds a shop in Freedom City's West End had a copy of the book on its shelves. The sensible thing to do would have been to explain the situation to one of her friends and plan a day out; the book was unlikely to disappear within the week, after all. Instead she called upon skills learned from watching the cagier of her circle to slip away in the early hours of the weekend, intent on holding Madar Nika's work in her own hands without delay.
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    Claremont Academy Dormitories April 15, 2017 Winifred still wasn't used to the literal weight taken off of her shoulders be her recent haircut but after putting it off for so long there was a certain visceral satisfaction in having had the early waist length hair cut back to a tidy pixie cut with razor sharp lines that kept it off of her ears and neck. It had already proven to be more practical in the lab and if she were to allow herself a moment of vanity the displaced Victorian might have gone so far as to say that it combined with the collar of her slate grey dress shirt to make her neck and jawline look fantastic. A scientist had to acknowledge empirical fact after all. Shifting the strap of the bag slung over her shoulder, she strode down the dormitory hallway with her shoulders squared and her chin tilted slightly upward. It had taken almost half a year of trials and tweaking but the grin threatening to break through her composure came from the feeling of a craftsperson preparing to showcase their efforts. She counted slowly backward from one hundred as she rounded the corner; she wasn't in a position to let excitement or nerves get the better of her. Reaching the door to the room shared by Clouston and Sanderson she gave it a distinctive trio of sharp raps.
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    GM Thursday, April 13th, 2017 Claremont Academy, Bayview, Freedom City 12:31 PM Some of Claremont’s students fit in better than others. There were some who almost entirely disappeared, who didn’t get much attention from anybody beyond their direct circle. There were some that were (in)famous around the entire school grounds. And there were some who, simply through their appearance, stood out. Jann Fa-Re was one of the latter. And even if he hadn’t sported feathers for hair, and huge wings on his back, there’d be a fair share of school-wide attention on him. Rumours, gossip, stuff only said behind his back. He was out on the grass training at almost any time, during all kinds of weather (some rumours about him doing it a 4 AM during a snow storm had been spreading around the school earlier this year). Added onto that the fact he had scars all across his body (and added more seemingly by the week), and his general friend circle, and most people didn’t quite know what to think of him. And more rumours started brewing, when during the lunch period, he approached another one of the teens known all around the campus. Riley Smith. “Hey. Heard you are the most skilled hunter here, correct?”
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    From an early age, Jaden Maxwell had showed a love for cooking and baking, and was surprisingly talented at it too. Even before entering high school, he was able to confidently fry simple meals like eggs and bacon, or even put together mouth-watering chocolate chip muffins for a bake sale. Needless to say, he was very much within his element when making tasty delicacies. The sight and smell of freshly-baked bread and rolls alone was enough to remind him of the good times he had growing up...and that he still had a lot to live for. Wanting to give something back to the locals, he had opened up a small bakery on Riverside. A humble and modest shop that was set up like a square and painted with warm colors such as white and soft browns. Tables and chairs were set up outside and surrounded by rows of bushes with blooming flowers and roses to give off a pleasant, inviting atmosphere. A large billboard was above the oak door displaying a large tree that had a variety of sandwiches and pastries growing on its branches. Plastered on it were the words: "Homegrown Breads. Have A Slice Of Quality." "Thank you, come again!!" Jaden called out to his latest customers as they left the store carrying their orders. He sighed and nodded to himself with a smile before turning back to fill out another order. Even though the bakery was just getting off its feet, it had already attracted a nice amount of business which likely had to do with the delicious food that came in considerable portions yet at very generous prices too. The young man took a moment to himself to look up at a portrait of a younger version of himself sitting with his Aunt and Uncle under the Christmas tree. Warm smiles everywhere. Hopefully, one day they'd be able to be together again...but for now, there were orders to be fulfilled.
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    When it came to walking through an empty park during night fall, the majority of people's opinions fell into one of two categories: The first category said they loved it for how romantic and tranquil it could be, giving certain people a chance to express how they truly felt without fear of being embarrassed in some way. The other category is that it was basically the equivalent of a death trap as there could be any number of seedy, unruly scumbags lying in wait to pounce on unsuspecting victims, beat them to a pulp, and rob them of all their valuables....and believe it or not, that was only if you were lucky. Tonight was a fine example of both categories playing out. A romantic couple whom we will call Shane and Julia had just been enjoying a peaceful night out, going about their business...when a group of hoodlums had approached them, demanding money if they wanted to live. The two had beaten a hasty retreat and managed to lose them within the woods...unfortunately, by the time they had done so, they had ended up well off the beaten trail and in the middle of nowhere. The two had wandered for some time to get back to the trail but to no avail. As time went on, Shane got more and more fed up with their current situation, "Julia, please tell me you got some reception already! I feel like we been wandering for hours and my feet are killing me!" "Oh quit your bellyaching, Shane," Julia rolled her eyes as she checked her phone and cursed to herself, "Darn it! Still nothing! At this rate, we're gonna be stuck out here all night!" "All night?! Please tell me you're joking..." Shane groaned like a kid whom had just had their favorite toy confiscated, "You do realize this is all your fault, right?!" "Excuse me?!" Julia whirled on her boyfriend, eyes blazing with the red fires of fury and indignation, "Oh no, you don't get to blame this all on me, mister! You're the one who thought it was a brilliant idea to go walking through the park in the middle of the night!" "Whoa, whoa, easy there, Julia!" Shane put up his hands, feeling he had said the wrong thing, "We're both just...tired, ok? How about we sit down for five minutes and then we-" Suddenly, the rustling of bushes could be heard around them, "What the..." From them emerged half a dozen men dressed from head to toe in attire that made them blend into the dark scenery so well they were like shadows. "Ah geez...they found us!" "No duh! What was your first clue, Sherlock?!" She and her lover stood back to back as the hoodlums approached, "Shane, I just want you to know before we die...I was the one who ate the last slice of pizza in the fridge the other night." "That's alright, Julia.." Suddenly, it sunk in what she had said, "Wait, you what?!!" However, before the hoodlums could get any closer, that's when IT happened. The plants around them, and even the tree branches, suddenly came to life, lashing out at them, grabbing and hauling them down to the dirt, causing each of the hoodlums to scream and cry out in shock and horror as they hacked away at their attackers with knives and shot them up with guns. However, for everyone they killed, two more took its place. One thug found himself yanked off his feet by a tree branch and slammed against another of his friends before both found themselves being squeezed together in a bundle of roots and stems. Another whipped out his gun and started shooting at a rapidly approaching pile of moss and vines, but his shots did little to deter the creature from its path as it launched itself through the air, grabbed him and dragged him off into the woods as he screamed bloody murder. The fourth and fifth went after their buddy only to have the ground explode open as a set of giant roots erupted from within to grab and restrain them. The last hoodlum, deciding that any pay to be made wasn't worth losing his life over, turned tail and ran off into the darkness...only for a loud scream to echo through the woods a few seconds later. The incredible thing though is that through this whole nightmarish scene...the pair of lovers were completely unharmed. In fact, it was as if the sentient plants were actively avoiding or even protecting them from their attackers. Despite this, fear still gripped their hearts as they backed away together, until they found their backs against...something. They hesitantly turned their heads and looked up...only to get the shock of their lives. The figure stood silhouetted in darkness and seemed to be wearing some sort of flowing coat over its lean, muscular frame. Its ruby red eyes staring right through them. "P-Please don't hurt us, mister...please, please..." They begged the creature before them. It said nothing...only raised a hand to point behind them, like it were giving a silent signal. The two looked ahead...and saw a new trail that had not been there before. When they looked back...the figure was already gone. Deciding not to stick around, they followed the new trail and before long, were back in the safety of civilization... _________________________________________________ Needless to say, it wasn't long before the pair's story spread like wildfire, and only helped to fuel the growing mystery that had cropped up almost overnight. Videos, pictures, and so on all helped to only create more questions. Who was the mysterious figure hiding out in local parks and in forests all around Freedom City? Where did they come from? What did they want? Just what was the truth behind the shocking behavior of the local wildlife? There was no doubting that quite a few people were kept on edge....It hadn't killed anyone, sure...but was this entity a force for good, truly? Only time would tell...