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August 1, 2014 

8 AM

 

A million stories in the naked city - and this one begins with lightning. The terrible storm had come up fast, nearly swamping the naval base at the Point and forcing the sailors there to take shelter against what seemed to be a terrible hurricane - but one localized to within a few square miles at the very tip of the peninsula. This was no natural storm - no surprise in Freedom City! A normal part of town might simply have called in the Freedom League, but as usual the military preferred to handle its own problems. As naval personnel and AEGIS agents combed the streets of the small community of base families that lived nearby the facility, the storm raged on overhead - spectacular bolts of lightning harmlessly crackling through the sky that might have been dismissed by the occasionally jaded Freedom City public - but that rang like a bell to those with a particular connection to the storm. Something was wrong in the skies over Freedom - something was very wrong indeed. 

 

 

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The electric-blue Tesla Model S barely slowed as it whirled silently down the Highway 9 off-ramp. Astrid Kierkegaard let go of the brake lever and twisted the steering wheel to straighten the front tires in one fluid motion. She pulled down on the accelerator lever, then quickly pushed it back halfway up when she felt the car jump. Still not used to the acceleration on this thing. The middle-aged man in the backseat wearing the pinstriped business suit was too absorbed in his iPhone to notice the sudden shift.

The palatial mansions of Freedom City's elite families loomed over the county road, occasionally giving way to brief glimpses of the private beaches lining the coast as it looped around the peninsula to the Trainor Airport. Astrid's car crept up past an array of private jets and helicopters before settling in front of a Gulfstream IV. She had passed a dozen just like it, and she wouldn't have been able to tell this one apart from the others if the driver hadn't pointed it out.

As her passenger fumbled through his pocket to retrieve his wallet and counted out bills for her tip, Astrid caught a flash of lightning out of the corner of her eye. She peered out over the Great Bay, squinting at the dark clouds swirling around the Lonely Point naval base. "Thanks," she muttered as the passenger handed her a wad of bills. Astrid turned over her shoulder to face him. "Hey, you're flying south, to Miami, right?" The passenger nodded, still tapping the screen of his phone. "Mmm hm." She wrapped her knuckles against the driver-side window, startling him out of his reverie. Then she rolled down the window and pointed across the bay. "Storm's coming. Looks heavy. Have your pilot fly around it."

"Th-thanks," he offered with a wide-eyed look of worry at the storm. As soon as he got out, Astrid raced back out the way she came. Summer hurricane in New Jersey? Even with global warming, that's no normal storm. She pulled into the paid parking lot and shoved the same pile of cash her passenger had tipped her into the hand of the attendant at the entrance. Then she grabbed her messenger bag, unfolded her wheelchair, and wrestled herself out of the car. She wheeled herself out the gate and behind the first unattended building she could find. Once out of sight, she pulled a bottle of water and a large, ornate drinking horn out of her bag. She poured some water into the horn, then up-ended the horn and took a swig. A bolt of lightning flashed down, and Thrude Thorsdottir of Asgard wiped some stray drops from her chin. The wheelchair was knocked onto its back. The wheels were still spinning as the Daughter of Storms soared away.

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Set had flown all the way to Lonely Point from Lincoln and Ra were his arms tired! While Sekhmet habitually woke with the rising of the sun and insisted her charge do so as well a late night chasing down a curiously intelligent and exasperatingly evasive chimpanzee escaped from STAR Labs had left the warrior goddess exhausted and irritable. Bolstered by the number of retweets his numerous 'monkey business' puns had received online, the less statuesque Heliopolian had been quietly composing a promising series of chimp reaction gifs when the weather outside their east facing window had drawn his attention.

His expression had darkened to match the foreboding clouds gathering on the peninsula; someone was tampering with his domain and in a very dangerous and destructive way. It wasn't something that could be left unanswered. He'd been about to wake Sekhmet when it had struck him that she wasn't a weather goddess. Why wake her from her catnap because of a little storm? It would have been selfish, really. He was sure he could have the whole thing sorted out and be back before his divine parole officer even noticed he was missing. She'd probably thank him when all was said and done! He'd already molded his arms into wings of lustrous crimson feathers, slipped out the window and gotten halfway to Southside by the time he'd finished his rationalizations.

Now that he was closer to the localized hurricane, the godling compressed his lips into a thin line as he regarded its fury. Someone was very likely to be injured or worse if this continued and he doubted its placement directly over a military base was in any way coincidental. "Someone tis a terribly naughty storm caster," he mused aloud, flapping his wings against the turbulent winds to hover in place momentarily, brick red dreadlocks tossing about furiously. "I ought to sue." A flash of azure and amber topped by golden blonde hair caught his flashing grey eyes against the blotted skies. "Ho, now! Aesir...?" With another beat of his wings he took off after the polearm carrying woman.

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A cloud of white mist in the vague shape of a massive eight-legged stallion galloped across the sky over the Great Bay. Thunder growled with every hoofbeat. Atop that stallion rode Thrude, thrusting her arm forward, pointing the way with her weapon, Hridgandr. Tendrils of lightning writhed and leapt between the Nordic runes engraved along its ebony haft. When she reached the unnatural storm raging above the Lonely Point naval base, she pulled back on the horse's mane. It reared up and then collapsed into a funnel cloud beneath her, obscuring her legs from the knees down. She hovered in place, borne aloft by a tiny hurricane, and leveled Hridgandr at the winged boy.

"HALT, Desert-Dweller! Know ye that this world falls once more under the protection of the Aesir! Lay down thy arms, and I swear by the All-Father I will deliver thee unharmed unto the mortal lords of Midgard to face their justice. Or fight on, and I SHALL SMITE THEE WITH THE FULL FURY OF THE THE STORM!"

Edited by ShaenTheBrain

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"Nothing would please me more than to acquiesce to your every request, oh wrathful radiant, however at the moment my arms be wings! Laying them down may have disastrous consequences for my altitude!" Set called to the confrontational blonde, giving her his most charming smile as he dipped slightly in the air to affect a courteous bow. "...twas wordplay, you see! I am considered most amusing. I have scryed thee on the YouTubes, Thrude Thorsdottir and truly the video resolution most low does your beauty and commanding presence no justice! I would hate for what must surely be a legendary friendship to begin on the wrong sandal, aye? Mayhap you might moderate the fury of your storm a tad?" The godling flew a pair of wingbeats closer, doing his best to look non-threatening, though a flicker of irritation at being threatened with one of his own aspects of all things did cross his expression.

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Electricity flared to life from Thrude's eyes as she screamed at the young man over the howling winds. "CEASE thy prattling, sniveling WRETCH! Thy empty words of flattery and jest TRY my patience, and SHAN'T sway me from my DUTY to this realm and its people! Thy quest is FOLLY! Thy slaves THREW OFF their shackles and ROSE UP against their masters AGES ago! It is THEY who now rule this realm in the name of THEIR slave-god, HIS Messengers who now walk the very face of Midgard, while THY empire lies in RUIN and THY gods FADE from memory with every passing winter! By the blood of every einherjar who raises axe and spear in the name of my father's father, I'll NOT stand idly by while thou doth rain FIRE AND BLOOD upon their great works in the vain hope of raising YOURS from the ASHES of antiquity!"

"I know not of thine 'U-Tubes,' nor anything else of thy people's sorcery, Southerner! NOR DO I CARE! I demand only that thou DISMISS thy foul storm, and SURRENDER thineself! HOWEVER thou knowest my name and lineage, thou SURELY knowest that NO MERE MORTAL WIZARD CAN STAND AGAINST THE MIGHT OF A TRUE GOD OF THUNDER!"

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"...mortal? MORTAL?!" Seething with indignation, Set decided he was going to need the benefit of emphatic hand gestures for this conversation. Rolling his shoulders shifted his great, feathered wings to his back while his more human arms reappeared in their proper place without missing a wing beat. "Harken to me, oh ignorant bint, SET was God of Storms since before you were naught but a besotted twinkle in your buffoonish father's eye!" the godling shouted, slapping a hand against his bare chest to indicate himself. He flew a pace higher in the air, attempting to compensate for their difference in stature. "Furthermore! While I can appreciate that compliments early in an acquaintance may seem uncomfortable and untoward I will not be called liar merely because you have yet to internalize your own comeliness! And I think we may agree that the Nazi Viking contingent would do well to avoid bringing up basic rights violations of the past!" Raising both arms high in the air to emphasize the point, Set adopted a posture which suggested any brothers present were invited to come toward him. "And tis not MY STORM!"

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Thrude's glare barely wavered from Set, but her shoulders visibly sagged with a low sigh. When she spoke again, it was not in modern English, but in Old Norse, the tongue of her people. "<Thou doth HURL invocations of my infamous father's crimes as though a SPEAR, fellow Storm-Lord, and thy throw strikes TRUE. THY disgrace is not so well known to the people who NOW walk Midgard as that of my father, but it is known to ME, Kinslayer. Thou art he who dwells in the DARKNESS of the desert. Thou art remembered NOT for your STORMS, but for your LIES, your BETRAYALS, and the DISCORD wrought in your name.>"

"<But my father was no monster, merely a FOOL, a PAWN of a mortal whose mastery of the runes...dwarfed his own.>" She raised a fist, clenching it so tightly that it shook. "<My father thought himself BEYOND the reach of any MERE mortal, and MILLIONS of those he had once SWORN to PROTECT instead DROWNED IN BLOOD for his HUBRIS. I SWORE NOT to follow in his ACCURSED footsteps. So if thou shan't judge me by my kin, then I shan't judge thee by the tales of thy past.>" Thrude clutched Hridgandr in both hands and raised it to the sky. "<IF thou ART lying, then KNOW YE that thine ASHES will SCATTER upon the WINDS of the coming winter. BUT if thou doth SWEAR on thy BLOOD and thy HONOR that this ABOMINATION is NOT thy doing, then I will accept thy aid. Lay hands upon my weapon. Let our two streams become a river and drown this dark magic.>"

Edited by ShaenTheBrain

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Set placed a hand behind his head and averted his eyes from Thrude's momentarily, the look of chagrin seeming out of place on his usually self-assured features. Sighing, he spoke in the same tongue as the Aesir, surprisingly without any trace of accent. "<I... would beg your forgiveness, Lady Thrude. Never have I been known for weighing forethought heavier than blurted words but even so I should know too well the burdens of familial ties to use them in such a fashion. I have endeavored to bring no further shame on the Ennead in my current incarnation but I have done so this day.>" The words were even and slow, without the energetic cadence of his initial greeting nor the heated speed of his wounded rebuttal. "<My elder self's crimes upon the mortal realm in fact extended to more recent times than the errors of the Odinson. Perhaps in the redemption of a reputation we have more common ground than suspected.>"

Clearing his throat thickly, the godling managed a small smirk as he switched back to English. "So! I shall swear to you not on blood and honor but on pride and dashing good looks, which I assure you be far more binding in my case." Raising one hand as though giving an oath, Set snapped his fingers and shendyt was immediately replaced with a matching sleeveless jerkin and leggings of dark red dyed leather trimmed in white faux fur and cut in a manner similar to Trude's own apparel apart from her armor. "Consider my restraint regarding all such talk of laying hands and merging streams a token of my good faith, hm? Mayhap later!" Allowing his wings to carry him over to the goddess, he respectfully placed one manicured hand on the shaft of her polearm.

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Working together, the gods made flesh pushed back against the unnatural storm that had beset Lonely Point. And together their combined godly power, by sheer force of holy will, was able to drive the storm from the sky and end the torrential rains that had strangely wracked the peninsula and the small community of civilians there. The sun was in the sky, the birds were singing as righteousness stood supreme. And Set's hand was right on Thrude's mighty hammer! Just as a thought curled in his ever-febrile mind, suddenly a blinding flash of light erupted from what looked like a nearby warehouse - an impossibly blue and white bolt of pure electricity that hurled itself at the Heavens as if mortals had risen in revenge against Thor, Set, and all the other gods of storm and rain! The gigantic bolt made a tremendous crack in the air and made their hair briefly stand on end, leaving behind afterimages that had to be blinked away as they took in the now-deroofed warehouse that had been the source of the awesome electrical fury! 

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"YARRR! I thank thee for thy aid, Comrade!  And no doubt tha-" *CRACK*

 

Thrude's triumphant smile hardened into a predatory grin as she turned and squinted at the ruined warehouse.  She shifted her grip on Hridgandr.  The horse of fog coalesced once more beneath her, with fist-sized balls of lightning where its eyes should be.  "AT LAST, our foes reveal themselves!  Come!  They have sent us an invitation to battle!  It would be RUDE not to attend!"  Shockwaves rippled out from the sonic boom exploding beneath her, followed by a series of rapid thunderclaps echoing across the sky, as Thrude's steed charged with reckless abandon toward the smoldering hole in the roof.

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"Ra forefend me from rudeness!" Set agreed, allowing his wings to melt away along with his affected Asgardian apparel as he nimbly swung unto the back of the ephemeral steed, riding side saddle to accommodate his returned shendyt and keeping one hand on Hridgandr. "May I also complement you on your weapon's long, firm shaft!" he shouted over the din of thunderous hoofbeats and booming shockwave, cupping his free hand to his mouth. The shock had left his thick, brick red dreadlocks more frizzled than usual but he was otherwise none the worse for wear and as interested in the source of the blast as Thrude. "On a lesser god I might suspect compensation but in truth I am only further intrigued, oh sultry strongwoman!" Having gotten past the initial bout of pointed words and angry accusations, his usual manner was quickly returning.

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Being gods of stout heart, the heroes flew through the hole blasted open in the roof of the warehouse and found themselves in the middle of a strange scene. A scrawny man with a bedraggled goatee wearing a stained labcoat was locked inside a heavy-barred iron cage, pounding futilely at the bars as a woman with sharply-pointed face mask with black cape and blue costume taunted him. "You see, Stratos, your machine was nothing before the awesome power of my Weather Wand!" The massive instrument she held, a huge blue and white staff long as a shepard's crook, did indeed crackle with ionization that seemed to match the smell rising from the broken, wrecked machine behind them - whatever secrets the machine had held were now so much wrack and ruin. "Admit I'm the best! Admit it!" 

 

"Oh yeah? Well you're just a crazy-hey, it's superheroes!" The man in the cage, evidently Sebastian Stratos, waved frantically as Thrude and Set touched down. "You guys gotta get me out of here, this lady is crazy! Here I was just building a machine for perfectly legitimate, law-abiding uses," he went on, ticking off points on his finger, "and minding my own business, when she blasts in the door and says she has a score to settle with me! And she blew it up! Just imagine if anybody had been in here!" he went on, full of wide-eyed outrage to the heroes.

 

"They're not heroes!" said Weather Mistress with a scornful sneer as she turned to face down Thrude and Set, her cape crackling with electricity behind her. "Look, that one is obviously Donar from one of the gender-reversed parallels, and that's Set over there! I bet no one's ever kicked HIM off the Crime League, _loser_," she added with a sneer, rapping her staff against Stratos' knuckles. 

 

"I guess maybe that could be Lady Thor," continued Stratos, seemingly oblivious to the heroes standing right there, "but no, that's got to be the Set from the Internet, the superhero one. Hey, Set!" he said with a wave. "I love your tumblr! I agree, it is a shame when the world doesn't understand you! And when crazy people try and keep you down!" He added with a glare at Weather Mistress. 

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Thrude floated down toward the cage and banged Hridgandr against the bars.  "SILENCE, WORM!  Thy countenance is known even to me, for thy vile deeds are BEYOND COUNTING!"

 

She turned to Weather Mistress and laid her fist against her own chest in salute.  "Hail and well met, Sorcerer!  I thank thee for thy aid in apprehending this MISCREANT.  I am THRUDE, Daughter of Storms, Chooser of The Slain, Princess of Asgard, and sworn protector of this world and its peoples.  I will deliver Stratos unto the mortal authorities so that he may face JUSTICE.  Thou art, of course, free to accompany me, if thou art willing.  I shall tell tales of your VALOR in this matter regardless!"

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Set bounded off of walls and equipment on his way down to the floor, acrobatically making his entrance alongside Thrude's more stately arrival. "Aha, tis always excellent to meet a fan!" he told Stratos with a broad grin as he rose from his three point landing and casually looked about the room. "My next project be a megacut compilation of lightning strike video I expect you shall quite appreciate!" Apparently the rumours that the villain had become somewhat more gregarious if more obviously unhinged since his run-in with the cosmic threat of the Curator had some substance to them. The godling felt an odd twinge at seeing a once proud man brought low in such a fashion but consoled himself in the knowledge that Stratos' taste in web-based entertainment had remained impeccably intact.

"I do indeed be Set, Scion of the Sirocco, Sower of Chaos, Chooser of Amusing Feline Pictorals. Whereas you are Weather Mistress, aye?" he continued, turning to the woman outside of the cage. "Correct though you may be about my elder self's respected position in that august if misguided body, your imprisoned peer has the right of my current disposition! She be as villainous a knave as the indisposed Doctor ever was, Lady Thrude. No honor among et cetera, et cetera." The godling cleared his throat significantly and gave the Aesir a sidelong look, lowering his voice to ask, "Reading intent be not one of your... stronger skills, mayhaps? Fortunately you have a practiced deceiver to regard your esteemed backside!"

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"There, you see? Even Kid Set says I'm as good as you ever were!" Weather Mistress rapped Stratos on the knuckles again, prompting an "Ow!" from the mad inventor before she turned to face the heroes. "Listen, I don't know what Set-speare in the Park here-" 

 

"Hey, that one was pretty good!" interjected Stratos. 

 

"-has been telling you, Thrude, but I'm just a poor girl from Kansas looking to help out my husband Adam," she said, her voice warming to the story. "The police here didn't like Adam standing up for his nation or trying to turn a poor family rich! Is that fair, I ask you?" She spread her arms. "Listen, I've had some troubles, but I've turned over a new leaf and I'm just here to help out the man I love. Can't you help me with that?" 

 

"Oh c'mon!" declared Stratos. "Her husband's a crazy Canucklehead! The man once told me that he would only join the Crime League if we agreed to be bilingual! Hell, I speak five languages and Medea speaks fifty-five, two of which will melt your ears right off your head if you hear her curse in them. Which she does, by the way, all the time, crazy Greek broad..." 

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"VERMIN! I told thee to BE SILENT!"  Thrude reached down with her off-hand, slid her fingers underneath the corner of the cage, and lifted the cage up into the air, angled toward her so that Sebastian's face would fall against the bars to meet hers.  She leaned in.  "ONE more word out of that RANCID OPEN SORE you call 'a MOUTH,' and I may deliver thee unto the authorities WITHOUT a TONGUE.  I DEFY thee to find another soul in ALL THE NINE WORLDS who wouldst not consider it an IMPROVEMENT."  She dropped the cage back down onto the floor.  The *CLANGGG* echoed across the warehouse.

 

Thrude then turned to Set.  "It appears thou doth only know this sorcerer by her reputation.  I need not remind you so soon how undeserv-ed 'twoud be if others were to judge thee, or myself, by such things.  Her only deeds to which we have borne witness have been valiant ones.  A great evil is contained once more.  All will fly free from this place, save the WRETCHED DUNGPILE already stinking up that cage."

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"Tis simply 'Set'," the godling corrected absently while Thrude demonstrated her tremendous strength to great affect. The blonde warrior had evidently managed to retain a goodly portion of her divine might on the mortal plane but all the talk of open sores killed at least some of the allure.

While he'd benefited from her generally trusting nature only minutes before, it had quickly become a potentially catastrophic inconvenience. Racking him mind, he hit upon a plan that was very likely excellent based on how much he hated it. "Very well, oh princess of power, a suggestion! Take all three of us into your custody and remand us to the Freedom League, allowing them to sort us out!" Holding his wrists together before him as though cuffed together, he gave Thrude as grave a look as he could muster. "Surely such would convey my certainty?"

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"Agh!" Stratos recoiled in terror, his head bouncing off the roof of his cage. He pointed a frightened finger at Thrude. "You ARE Lady Donar, aren't you? You're some, some kind of crazy Nazi, aren't you! You know what? I have had just about enough of this. I was willing to let you have your little victory and go rescue your crazy Canadian husband, Weather Mistress," he turned to Set and said conversationally, "shouldn't she be Weather Wife, or Weather Madam, or Weather Queen now? I don't know, maybe I'm old fashioned..." 

 

He shook his head and snapped back into his rant. "Anyway, this is my laboratory, that was my dea...er, PEACE ray" he added with a gesture towards the smoking husk of his machine, "and most of all, this is MY TRAP!" He put his hands together and said out loud, "Dos vadanya!" At his words, the cage quite literally fell apart at the seams; the joiners collapsing everywhere, and Stratos rose up into the air, lightning crackling around his fingers. "I'm gonna knock your socks off! With multiple bolts of lightning!" 

 

"Oh it's on now!" yelled Weather Mistress, taking to the air to match him. 

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Thrude's ice-blue eyes bulged so wide it appeared they would pop out of her skull at any moment. "FILTH!" she screamed up at Stratos. "Thou DARES to threaten ME with the power of the storm?!" Lightning crackled down the length of Hridgandr and wrapped around Thrude's entire body. The fog surrounding her legs whipped up into a tornado. The head of her weapon re-molded itself into a massive double-headed warhammer, gleaming with frost. "Thou didst merely ADOPT the storm! I was BORN in the wind and rain! FORGED by the lightning!" The entire warehouse shook as thunder exploded underneath her and the raging cyclone launched her up toward Stratos. "The storm BETRAYS thee, MORTAL! For it belongs to ME!!!"

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"Agh!" Thrude felt the strike connect, but something was wrong; the lightning and frost of her hammer seemed to flatten out against Stratos like a wooden sword blunting itself against a god. Adopted the storm he might have, but it was clear his power was formidable - but a moment later her strike followed through and she felt magic steel strike against mortal flesh. "Sonofa-!" Stratos' words were cut off as he went sailing out through the hole in the roof and out of sight, arcing somewhere towards the bay if Thrude was any judge. One enemy was gone - but another was still there. 

 

"Hey! He's MINE!" Weather Mistress raised her staff and fired a blast of searing cold energy at Thrude, as if someone had torn open a gateway to the icy cold of Jotunheim and hurled her directly into the maw of a hungry frost giant. Ice and cold erupted across her armored body and around her limbs, and in an instant she'd fallen completely out of the air, encased in a sphere of ice that glittered like the heart of a gigantic snowflake. She landed on the ground next to Set, her head pointed where she could see the Weather Mistress flying into the sky after Stratos. "I'm not done with you yet, Sebastian!" she was roaring. 

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"If tis any consolation, milady," Set addressed the jagged block of ice with the Aesir center, "I likely wouldn't have truly submitted to Freedom League custody either. Now, I cannot bear to have you giving me the cold shoulder!" Making a slow, swooping gesture that took one arm behind his back, the godling stirred the power of a very different sort of storm. From every crack and crevice in the wall behind him sand began to pour forth like a tide, bleached pristine by the sun of some far away place. Wind followed inexplicably, along with the blistering heat of the Sahara, the air inside the warehouse swirling and shimmering.

Abruptly shoving his palm forward, he sent a howling, spiraling pillar of sand battering into the ice, the gritty particulates shredding the crystalline prison layer by layer while the scorching incandescence turned it to dribbling rivulets of water. When the furious blasting reached Thrude, however, it was no more than a warm, gentle breeze that delicately caressed her cheek, dried her hair and did away with the waterlogged stains in her attire. As the last of the ice vanished, Set snapped his fingers and the torrent stopped dead, leaving the warehouse floor looking like a beach.

Grinning, he offered the warrior goddess his hand and tipped his chin toward the hole in the roof. "I believe we had a point to make about to whom the storm tis birthright?"

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There was a thunderous BOOM from above, and suddenly Weather Mistress came hurtling back towards from where she'd come at tremendous speed - only a lucky caroming off the walls of the shattered warehouse keeping her from doing any further damage as she hit the ground. A smoking char over her chest showed where a tremendous lightning bolt had swatted her from the sky. From above, Dr. Stratos reappeared over the opening in the roof of the warehouse, looking pleased as punch with his accomplishments.

 

"There! Now, you see!" he said beaming. "I am Dr. Sebastian Stratos, criminal genius and lord and master of the weather, just as I've been telling everyone all this time." He spread his arms. "Hey, you guys aren't so bad after all, even if you do hit pretty hard, Viking Lady. Do you need me to come down to the station, sign some kind of form, so you can lock that crazy lady up? And maybe give that Wand of hers, she stole that technology from me years ago!" 

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Thrude clasped Set's hand and lifted herself to her feet, nearly pulling him to the ground in the process. "DEEDS speak louder than WORDS, Comrade." She brushed a few stray shards of ice from the folds of her tunic. "And thy glorious deeds shall NOT be FORGOTTEN! Thou hast made a friend of Thrude this day." She turned her head up toward the sky. "The local shire-riff shall have TWO new prisoners this night, thou PUTRID mound of RAT DUNG!" She thrust her maul into the air, and the swirling mist appeared at her feet once more, obscuring her legs up to the knees. Borne aloft by divine wind, she rocketed up to Stratos in the blink of an eye. She gripped Hridgandr's ebony haft with both hands and brough it crashing down on him with all her godly might. "Thou art but a BOIL oozing PUS onto the face of Midgard...and I SHALL SMITE THEE!"

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"Oof, haha, you gladden my heart, oh princess of projection!" Set laughed as he regained his footing and gave Thrude a brief bow from the waist. "Pray tell what would be required, though, to upgrade to a comrade with benefits...?" The discussion was cut off by Stratos' return, the rambling mad doctor surprisingly the godling with his ability to shrug off Thrude's mighty blows with only mild pause. Lightning, he suspected, would be even less effective against a man well known for his many battles with Captain Thunder, leaving Set to cast about for another medium close at hand.

Or rather foot, as he considered the blanket of sand crunching under his feet. "Apologies, Stratos, but your brain be clearly madder than a sackful of scorpions. Mayhap a padded room and copious tapioca pudding would be of benefit." Snapping his fingers again, Set sent a trio of twisting pillars of particulates surging upward from the floor, the sand twining together as it crashed into Stratos, holding him in place. For a moment it looked as if he was going to free himself before the bonds could solidify but another snap from the godling had a subtler effect, throwing his flying target off balance just long enough for the animated dune to ensnare the villain's limbs.

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