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Avenger Assembled

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  • Birthday 11/10/1981

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  1. Watchdog/Pulse Claremont Academy The Roads Not Taken "So these are your books, huh?" Judy had dubbed this other Judy Brawny Judy in her head. Of the two versions of herself that had appeared in her room at Claremont, this one was certainly the friendliest - even if she did dress like the man on the paper towel box in the bathroom - complete with jeans and a flannel shirt. Judy did have to admit it looked like a practical outfit, right down to the keys and multitool hanging on that leather belt. Arms crossed over her chest, she looked at the row of books over Judy's shelf. "Did they not let you get any new ones here?" Brawny Judy asked, raising an eyebrow. Her eyebrow was black like Judy's, a sharp contrast to the bright blue, pixie-cut short hair on her head. "Ah like these books," said Judy, annoyance creeping into her voice. She was doing her best to be a good host until this little multiversal anomaly was cleared up but her duplicates weren't making it easy. It was a bit like with her sisters, she reflected; she'd gone from fighting like cats with Jaybee and Jaydee to a happy reunion with them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let there be spaces in your togetherness. Quiet Judy, for her part, was sitting down at the desk and reading one of those books; a history of the Liberty League Judy had bought from Amazon and kept because she liked the stories about the first Lady Liberty. Quiet Judy reminded Judy a little of her grandmother; in a floral-print dress and long sleeves that just...wasn't a very flattering look? But she wasn't going to say that out loud. "Okay," said Brawny Judy apologetically. "These were some of my favorites too," she admitted. "So what's this world really like?" she asked, shooting a glance across the room where three versions of Ashley were giving tactical reports to each other. The Ashleys were having an even worse time of it than the Judys. Judy had expected Watchdog to be unhappy about the version of herself who'd arrived with Quiet Judy, who with her long black hair and brown, flared tracksuit looked a bit like she was from a timeline with sharia law or something? But from the sharp exchange upon their arrival, Watchdog seemed much angrier at the version of her who was pretty clearly dressed like the Raven; a distaste that seemed thoroughly mutual. "Well, Ah mean, it's nice," said Judy, not sure how to answer her counterpart's question. "Daddy's the President, and Ah go to Claremont because of mah problem." She thought she saw Brawny Judy flinch slightly, but pressed on. "Ah have friends here, and a boy Ah sort of like." Two, technically, but I am not getting into that with her. "Ah miss being able to go out by myself, but Ah haven't been able to do that for a long time anyway. What about you?" she asked her counterpart. "What's that you're wearing?" "Oh, this old thing?" Brawny Judy wore no jewelry except a bracelet with an double-bladed ax. She held it up so it shone in the light. "It's called a labrys," She looked at Judy's cross necklace and said, her voice gentle, "If you're worried about it, Ah'm still a Christian. You like a boy, huh? Is he from our class?" She hazarded a guess. "Is it Pan?" "N-no!" Quiet Judy looked up unexpectedly from where she was reading. "They just let you read this?" she asked her counterparts, her eyes wide. "All this stuff about metahumans, like they were the heroes the whole time?" --- They'd listened in on Watchdog's tactical reports about the dimensional incursions, they'd noted how Claremont's faculty and senior students were preventing panic on campus - and so the various Ashleys had nothing to do but shelter in place. "Aren't you ever going to take that thing off?" Watchdog demanded suddenly of the Raven. "We all know what you look like." The truth of the matter was, her third counterpart had unsettled her more than she was willing to admit - not the modesty culture-infused outfit she was wearing, but the tattooed barcode on the back of her neck. "I'll take off my armor and my utility belt when I'm not the only superhero guarding the President's daughter here in the middle of a dimensional incursion," said the Raven peevishly. "Why aren't you in your gear? Whatever happened to Opsec?" "Because it makes me look like some kind of dog-themed biker," said Watchdog, annoyed. "And I'm perfectly capable without it. How'd they rope you into that costume, anyway?" She wasn't going to mention Callie out loud in front of the others - after all, she _did_ have some respect for Opsec. "I took up this mantle after my mentor died saving the world," said the Raven, highly annoyed. "Maybe that didn't happen here, but I can't believe you could just...walk away from all this. And to what end, anyway? You're, what, Jaycee's undercover bodyguard here? You're pretending to be a high school student?" "As a way of making sure she has a normal adolescence!" Ashley shot back, her voice loud enough it was reaching the other side of the room. "I took an oath to protect and I'm doing everything I can to live up to it!" "Shut. Up. Both of you." It was the longest sentence the third Ashley had said yet. --- "S-so, Ah mean, obviously we couldn't tell anyone that Ah had the meta-gene," said Quiet Judy, her voice low and nervous as she spoke to her counterparts. "People would storm the White House if they knew that was in the family. And Daddy's trying so hard to make it better for people, but he already has a lot of enemies because he wasn't one of the New Founders before the attack. So we worked out a trick, where Ah'd come to Freedom City and help take care of the little meta-kids, like Ah was helping the least of these, and Ashley would help me get trained in hiding my powers." "H-how did that even happen, girl?" demanded Brawny Judy. "Where I'm from, everybody loves superheroes; even _here_," she said, gesturing at Judy, "there's a Claremont, and a League, and people are...normal about this. And you said this happened while you were alive - how in God's green Earth did things get so bad, so quickly, where you're from?" "Things have been like this since Ah was a little kid," said Quiet Judy simply, shrugging with a look of fatigue on her face. "Ah was in, oh, kindergarten when it happened. Ah remember school was canceled all that month, and Daddy stayed home from the college, and we had to watch tapes of Davy and Goliath because the TV wasn't working.The metahumans attacked Washington, but they lost, and then a new government came in because most of the old one was dead. After that, a lot of things were different, for metahumans and everybody else." She reached up and tugged at the DNA spiral necklace she wore. "Daddy doesn't like to talk about it much, but Ah think he joined the New Founders once he saw they were the winners." Brawny Judy snorted. "Yeah, that sounds like "Daddy', all right. Greedy bastard." "That doesn't sound like Daddy!" said Judy, scandalized. "He is a good man, with real values. He wouldn't just sign up with a dictatorship because they were winning!" "It's not a dictatorship," said Quiet Judy simply. "America is the freest and the safest country on Earth." And though they didn't share much, the look of horror and recognition that Brawny Judy and Judy shared at this point was practically a mirror image. --- "I never heard who actually did it," said the third Ashley George, relating the story of what had happened to her home timeline and its superheroes with the flat, dry tone of someone relating a failed battle that had happened a long time ago. "The Freedom League blamed it on terrorists, back when there still was a Freedom League, then our new leaders blamed it on metahumans - all I know is that somebody took out DC during the State of the Union, and next thing you knew there was no real government. Idiots put the designated survivor just ten miles from the old Capitol, pfft." She rolled her eyes. "Being a public underage metahuman, I was in administrative detention during the change, so I missed the fight with the Freedom League, and the...purges, and everything else." "They made you a slave," hazarded the Raven. "I can't believe any version of me would go to work for a government that did that to its own people. Those goddamned bastards," she added in a whisper. "Things are better now than they used to be," said the third Ashley with a small shrug. "Cahill was already soft on the 'meta-question' when Jaycee's powers manifested. Luckily his administration thought one meta could control another meta, so they pulled me out of the federal labor pool and assigned me to her. She's actually a good kid." --- "Isn't there any way we can help them?" Brawny Judy demanded of the Raven, suddenly calling across the room. "Send someone through the rifts after them? Maybe the Freedom League?" "It doesn't work that way," said the Raven, sounding heartsick. "From what I've seen, we'd be lucky to find any of these dimensions once we're back on Earth-Prime." "To what end?" demanded the third Ashley. "Are they going to fly to DC, punch Judy's father in the face, and declare that no, Phalanx is the President now? Are they going to hold the people hostage till they pass laws they want? Make their own laws? Superheroes can't fight the whole damn world!" "...the League records," said Watchdog suddenly. "You said they got you because this was after your powers appeared, but before you got to Claremont. Did the new government get ahold of the League records?" "No," said the third Ashley, shaking her head. "Freedom Hall burned when Daedalus did. I don't think AEGIS got their hands on any of it." Watchdog was already at her computer, typing quickly. "Okay, this isn't..." She shook her head, cursing as the PDF came up. "Dammit, this is just the stuff they tell Claremont kids, the B-team stuff. But it's not something the US government would know anything about. You," she demanded of the Raven, "Do you have the original League passwords? The stuff that the Raven didn't write?" "Yeah. Yeah, i do." --- Judy wasn't entirely sure what was in the files the Ashleys were talking about; there wasn't really time to explain. But she had the idea that there were Freedom League files; secret bases, weapons, metahumans in the closet, people who might be able to help the other version of herself and Ashley do...something? "But what are you gonna do with this?" she asked her counterpart as she watched the room's printer print out reams of double-sided paper. "You're not gonna try and get rid of Daddy." It wasn't an argument against the idea; just a statement of understanding about her own character even in a universe where things were much worse. "Well why the hell not?" demanded Brawny Judy, turning on her counterparts. "It sounds like her version of "Daddy" is even more of a prick than the usual one! And maybe she was part of the system, but that's just because she doesn't know things can be better!" She pressed the history book into her counterpart's hand. "Take this home and show it to people, tell them the real history! If you're like me, you were raised to buckle the belt of truth around your waist and wear the breastplate of righteousness; and you know your world is built on a lie! Why wouldn't you want to knock it down?" "Because Ah love my daddy!" said Quiet Judy loudly even as the Judy from this dimension fell silent with recognition, recognition of an argument she'd heard inside her own head longer than she could remember, "even if he..." She swallowed. "even if he sent me to Freedom! But...but maybe we can use that stuff Ashley's getting to help people, people who nobody wants to help where we're from. Just because Ah love my daddy doesn't mean Ah have to do everything he says, or be just like him." She shot a look at her counterpart from this dimension. "You understand, don't you?"
  2. Sea Devil considered for a moment, then struck her trident against the ground, its colors flashing quickly up and down the human visual spectrum, and beyond. She spoke in a booming voice that rippled through the water around them in sympathy with the flashing colors on her trident - "Braaah! Braaah!" and what it looked like to the eyes of the squids was: The Surface-Men will take their revenge if you kill them or make them your slaves. Many will suffer. She considered, and made a gesture with her trident that included Asad. Bring us the one like him.
  3. Does Aquaria's Comprehend work here?
  4. Ashley noted Nicole's hasty departure, and figured the reason for it. But what the hell, teenage relationship woes were decidedly not her professional concern. Really none of this was, and now that she and Danica had their tutoring arrangement worked out, she decided she didn't need to say anything for a little while. Though now she didn't have any supper if Danica wasn't going to eat that bar. Dammit. Guess it's MRE after Judy's in bed again. Oh well. Is...is Corinne trying to have her way with me? Did...did I just think have her way with me? She said a few words inside her head that her grandmother had said when the health inspector gave the family restaurant a C. "Yeah?" she asked Corinne, looking at her dead-on. Judy gave Abby a serious look for a moment, but when Danica intervened evidently decided to let the changed subject stay changed. "Ah once took a field trip to an alpaca farm. But that was back before everything got...different," she went on, twisting her fingers in her hair for a moment before adding, "Ah, uh, never met any superheroes before Ah got here," she lied, "that's cool, Danica. Y'all ever wonder what they don't show us?"
  5. "Okay," Aquaria croaked. "I am asking because I met a male. His name is Sgt. Shark and he has a very..." Aquaria fell silent for a while, the hiss and smell of cooking fish, the loud hum of the vent fan, filling the air. "manly way." She had learned those words from a show on the television, and her voice seemed to throb over them. "But he was a human before he became a Shark-man, so I wanted to know how people who live here decide to mate, and if the males give off any special signs."
  6. Aquaria considered Erin's words and croaked, "I understand," which is what she thought she should say when someone said something to her that sounded important. She tented her hands together so that the sticky pads of her fingers touched - it was often how she kept her hands together. She didn't call Trevor a Surface-Man because she knew that was not entirely polite and he was her podmate's sister's regular mate, instead she hissed, "All the...humans I know are unmated or are females who mate with females." Did Erin's eyes go just a little wider? She pressed on. "How do females and males decide they want to mate with each other?"
  7. "Yes!" Aquaria bellowed pleasantly. "It is a great fish I killed with my hands. Thank you for your kitchen." She hopped around some more, turning her upper body so she could study Erin. She knew Erin's mate was hereabouts, Trevor being a pleasant enough fellow when the two of them visited various people in the DuTemps Building and on those rare occasions when Jessie had shared a holiday with her not-sister. He was awfully quiet for her tastes, but then she wasn't exactly looking for a mate among Surfacers. Or...was she? She thought of her problem and then croaked, "Erin, I have a question." She had learned people usually liked to be asked. When Erin turned around, Aquaria was looking at her before the stove, goggle-eyed. "It is about your mating."
  8. Dagon one scholar's version of events Stop me if you've heard this one. Once there was a god. He had many names. The Sumerians knew him - Thousands of years later, the Phoenicians knew him as they sailed their ships on the Mediterranean. Their country-fied neighbors the Hebrews (skeptical of the gods of other peoples) called him דָּגוֹן. Transliterated into English, his names sounded like what he's still called all these millennia and horrors later - Dagon. He was a god of many things; grain and fertility, and sometimes the sea when the Phoenicians took his name with them out into deep waters. (It was a pun, you see, his name sounded very much like their word for 'fish'). Dagon liked puns, almost as much as he liked growing fins and swimming in his mother Athirat's ocean. He had a son, Ba'al Hadad, the Lord of Thunder, and a daughter Anat, the virgin goddess of war and strife, and all the gods of the Canaanites bowed together to El and his wife Asherah, the Father and Mother of them all. Their people, the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, did things in their name - they built temples in high places and made sacrifices, they sailed ships to Greece, Sicily, Egypt, and points beyond. With its many gods, with its household spirits, the faith of the Canaanites was shaped by their position between the Egyptian world and the Mesopotamian world. For a time the Canaanites ruled Egypt and Ba'al Hadad and Set wore each other's faces and adopted each other's guises. What could one say, those were different times? Then a new god came. There's still some debate about where - a new faith among the shepherds of the hills? Yet another import from Egypt? Hard to say. What mattered is that this new God and his followers had power, and luck, and bravery; and they won. Oh the name of the Canaanites survived for generations, but the worshipers of the new God thrived while the Canaanites suffered, their power dwindling as their worship faded. When all was said and done, by the time the Romans came, the legacy of the Canaanite gods had been largely forgotten. Then the new God did something else - but that is decidedly a story for another time. The Canaanite gods generally returned to their respective realms, dwelling there amid the shades of their followers, and many are content, at least for now. What had mortals mattered, anyway? But the truth was they had mattered to Dagon; when no fishermen said his name, when no farmers called on him, what was he? It didn't take him long to learn what he was now; a monster! The followers of the one God had told tales of the gods they'd defeated, transforming them into unholy demons, and when a god is a demon in the eyes of mortals, so he becomes one with enough time. And enough anger. In disguise, he wandered the Earth in various guises, before he finally realized he'd neglected half his realm for these ungrateful Surface-Men - and made the decision to go Below. Down below the sea he learned things. From men, from creatures, and other things. He met castaways from lost Lemuria, dreaming of the great day of Jubilee, and they taught him rituals no longer practiced on the Surface. And down Below, amid great sorcery and terrible spells, he made contact with - well, I can't say that name here. Its name is Unspeakable. But he found It, and it told him things, and showed him things - gateways to great and terrible power beyond that of his fellow gods, gateways to power that could be his if he but spoke the Unspeakable name. He hesitated, it's said, knowing the consequences of that Name even for a god - but his followers on the Surface had long since abandoned him, and those Below hungered for his power - just as he too hungered for their worship. So he said that name - and - well, the rules are different for gods. He has a new face now, and new eyes to see, and new limbs to feel - and new power. He has his own realm now, and a bride from the realms of the Olympians, and children. Vast numbers of children, as many as all the fish in all the seas. In this realm, He sleeps, bloated with the power of the Unspeakable Name, and dreams of the day when He will awaken and the world that turned its back on Dagon will learn His name and see the power of His true children. All roads lead to Dagon! He comes! He comes! Ia! Ia! Dagon fhtgan! <text breaks off here>
  9. Lady Horus and Wadjet had a problem, and the problem was the building was catching on fire. "Fly, you fool!" Lady Horus yelled at Wadjet, knowing that her sidekick wouldn't hesitate to save herself but wanted to make sure she wouldn't linger to save her. With Wadjet's retreat towards one of the building's fire stairs, that left Lady Horus to deal with the problem she'd created. Unbidden images of times past came into Anna's mind as she raised her hand, blocking the nigh-infernal heat from the burning ink below as she flew cautiously a few steps closer. Think. Think. Powers of a sun god...geez, where's Sekhmet when I need her. Where's...It suddenly occurred to her that the vampire guy hadn't come upstairs yet and he was still down there in the fire! Well, jeez, Anna Cline didn't leave a man behind to take the heat for her unless he was a jerk, and the Strix guy had been all right. So Lady Horus disappeared through the hole in the floor and dug around for the vampire man. "Ho!" she declared as she grabbed him about the waist and hauled him up. "The Sunhawk has you!"
  10. Aquaria made a small noise, reminding herself that as holy as these creatures looked, they were hardly the blessed beings they appeared. Still, she knew she had to take the lead, if only so the great male at her side kept her from doing anything rash. As the squid-things approached, she slammed the butt end of her trident into the ground, sending vibrations through the rock. "Brek-ek-ek, coax, coax!" she croaked, or at least that's what it sounded like to anyone who spoke no Lemurian. She repeated, in English, "Hold! We come to parley!" Her trident was still glowing now, red and green that cast a brilliant light against the opalescence of her armor. Squid. Colors and lights, as you speak. If they were truly at home in the sea, she should at least be able to understand them. "Who is your chief?"
  11. "Actually," said Anna with pride, "I ain't never done anything untoward with the helmet on." Esperanza made a face that was silent but eloquent, and Anna said firmly "Not like that, anyway." Besides, if Nicci's gonna be screwing around with me, she's gonna be screwing around with me, not with how I looked when I was twenty-seven years old. They got down to eating, Esperanza taking the opportunity to fill in Chromium on what he'd missed in the books on Egyptian mythology that Anna had left lying around for her two teen heroes. "You like superheroes so much," she said skeptically, "you should know this one," she said, making a little gesture Set's way. "You should know this one, man. This is Set the Destroyer, the real deal from back in the day, when the old lady used to try and take over the world." "Yeah, well, we all paid our dues since then," said Anna. She shot Nicci a look, wondering what was going on in her girlfriend's head. Was it weird for her being here with a version of her lover's lover who looked like a sweet young thing? Because it was weird for Anna! Not unpleasant, though.
  12. February 2019 Midnight Manor Loyal worker though she was, February was not exactly Aquaria's season for outdoor work. She could stand very cold water, but air was different and it was nearly freezing out there! So instead she was working in one of the Manor's big kitchens today, cleaning the hard-to-reach areas up on top of the cabinets, and cooking up steaks as she went. The fine fat fish she'd caught earlier that year was more than half her height and thick, and had been soaking for a whole day in big pots full of delicious-smelling things. Now things were cooking on the stove, and soon there'd be enough fish for herself, Jessie, and perhaps Trevor and Erin as well! They had been content to let her salt the fish and store it in their home for a while, her apartment with Jessie lacking the kind of space one needed to store significant quantities of really good fish. She had other reasons for wanting to talk to them too, especially when Jessie wasn't around. She sang to herself as she worked, hopping from foot to foot, and opened the front of her suit to smell the good things sizzling on the stove. She was in her suit for a variety of reasons, comfort when she went outside, and also so she didn't make too much of a mess in a place where Surfacers made their food. She knew what they sometimes thought of that, even though Jessie was typically too kind to say anything. They could be so fastidious!
  13. Comrade FrostHong Kong GoHarrier Be Complete One Day Lady Horus Gal Pals Ink Sea Devil Defenders of the Deep Vignette: Smoke on the Water Watchdog/Pulse Black Curtains The Night PeopleThe Raven Commission Put all Ref/rollover points etc. towards Watchdog.
  14. "Oh, have we met?" inquired Frost sociably. "Your pardon, sir, I meet many people in my line of work." He waved to the Hornet, looking over his men with an interested eye. "I am actually here on matter of important business." He walked over to the containers, the temperature in the room dropping as he went, and placed his hand on one of the Arabic-labeled crates. As he did so, a thin patina of ice began to spread over its surface. "What is it English poet said? 'Mankind should have been my business'? Very well then. What do you do here?"
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