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Avenger Assembled

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Freedom City Guidebook

Freedom City PBP: A How-To Guide

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  1. Eira was not naked, contrary to the implications of questions that certain people had asked her about her plans for the Gala. The string bikini she was wearing was a little racy by American standards but Americans were rather prudish about such things in her experience. It wasn’t as if she was going to get cold at the Hades Gala. Or anywhere else, for that matter. The bikini itself was an opaque shade of blue with words written on them in bright gold - CHEEKY. It was a reminder to herself about the right attitude to have alongside Pan and in the company of gods and heroes; and it was a message to anyone who actually saw the string bikini. Most people wouldn’t. What most people would see Eira wearing was a gorgeous blue and white rococo dress, with flowers in a Y-shape down the chest of a darling white-laced blue jacket and curlicue paisley patterns at the floor-length hemline and a festive white feathered hat on top Or maybe they’d see her in a blue that was almost metallic, covered in white lace down the sides and in ruffs at the sleeves, topped with a big blue hat that perfectly matched the colors of the outfit underneath. Or maybe a dress that was more aquamarine than blue, with white-gold lace everywhere and a carnival mask over her eyes, her fingers adorned with glittering jewels. Or maybe any number of increasingly implausible dresses, all of them long and brilliant, gleaming with jewels and lace and color, the sort of thing she could wear now that she wasn’t hiding from herself at Claremont but in full flower of the being she’d always wanted to be. Eira wasn’t actually wearing any of these outfits, of course. A cunning series of implanted holographic projectors (which she’d installed into her latest body with her own two hands) let her adopt whatever style she wanted; and after much debate she had decided to simply wear all the outfits she liked, all of them drawn from the rococo stylings that she personally found the most attractive of any old-fashioned style. Sure the outfits were impractical - but she wasn’t really wearing them, so what was the problem? The outfits switched back and forth on a randomized cycle, saccading quickly enough that only an inhumanly fast eye could see through to what Eira was actually wearing underneath. Eira herself could do this, so could Pan, and anyone else whose vision could penetrate holograms - but if they had that kind of power, let them look. All they would see was what Eira herself had made. (After all, she’d made the bikini too) Oh she knew there was trouble afoot at the gala, a god’s sinister schemes and brave heroes who would defeat it. You didn’t have to be clever to see that, and Eira Katastroff was very clever indeed. If anyone called for Angelic to save the day, or even just cause some trouble to make it happen, she’d be there for them. But she had faith in the heroes of Freedom to save the day. In the meantime, what was wrong with having a little fun?
  2. Summers would have used this as a teaching opportunity, Ashley mused: but those men had what looked like real machine guns and this was a teenager. Superpowered or not. "There's no cell service out this far, but you can use the phone on the wall..." She glanced towards the phone and relaxed fractionally when she realized it wasn't a rotary dial. Thank God, place isn't that old. And then something happened. The two heroes were joined by two more people; well, one man and a baby. The man looked to be in his mid-twenties, a short brown goatee on his chin wearing what looked like old, comfortable clothes. Sitting on his lap was a chubby-faced tot in a cat costume, really a black onesie with floppy ears. Naturally the baby reacted eagerly to La Puma Negra, chortling happily and waving pink fists at her. The Patriot almost shot the man in the face before she recognized him. "Oh-" "Ssh!" The man held up his finger and though the Patriot's lips moved, no sound came out. "Don't swear in front of the baby."
  3. Neko wrinkled her nose briefly once she'd pieced together the woman's Japanese. "Yes. I speak English okay." She hesitated, thinking about what she knew about the dead demon in the neighborhood. "I know about him. But I can help. I am not from here. But I can talk to them. My Japanese is very - old and country. I am like a...Japanese hillbilly," she said, remembering the phrase Raina had used.
  4. "Excellent," said Ashley, her sunglasses in her hand as she smiled at the fox-woman. "I'm going to wear mostly black with a feline theme to match what used to be my costumed identity; so keep that in mind when you're assembling your own outfit. We don't want to show up wearing the same thing," she added. "Even if it's just us girls going out on the town. I think if anyone asks how we met, we should stick to the truth - I met you through my government work and invited you out to the Hades Gala so that we wouldn't have to go stag. That, uh, means going out to a couples event solo," she added, wondering if the term had a very different meaning in Jean's home dimension. "You won't have to pretend anything more than friendship, since several people who'll be there know I'm with someone."
  5. Neko stared at Betsy with big eyes and ears flat against the top of her head, an expression mirrored by all the watching cats, relaxing a little once she saw the ID. She started to say "I don't know anything about that" when Betsy finished speaking; her usual way of responding to English statements that didn't make no sense, until she finished processing all of her words. "Private investigator. Sam Spade. Maltese Falcon?" she said out loud as she remembered. As the film rattled to a halt, silence fell in the barracks. "What did the film teach you, children?" Miko, ever-ready, raised her hand and earned a nod from the Katana. Neko had hardly been able to process what was happening; so many people together in one place, all of them speaking a foreign language. But she'd managed to puzzle out who Sam Spade was; a lone force of righteousness amid a city wrapped in vice. "Americans are all criminals or liars," said the girl frankly, "and greedy treasure-seekers to boot..." Neko blinked away the memories and added "You are very big and strong. I am just a girl alone." The cats seemed to prove that a lie. "What are you investigating?"
  6. The men down below appeared to be in the middle of an argument, some shouting, some waving their fists, and one with glasses peering at a paper roadmap. Pressed up against the wall behind Puma, the Patriot was peering down too, and her breath caught audibly as the map with the map opened the trunk of the old car to reveal full cloth sacks with dollar signs on them. Ashley muttered a rude remark under her breath and checked something at her wrist before murmuring softly, "It's still 2022."
  7. That will work! Okay, posting now
  8. The argument between the girls (if you could still call them that) wasn't quite finished; the air almost visibly crackling with the stress of their angry regard for each other. Then, as on an unspoken signal, they broke it off together and looked at Davyd. "Is that so different from your own society?" parried Kay after a time. "There are always limitations on resources; those who have more and those who have less. The difference here is that all have the same chance to gain them. And as we grow, so too will our resources. A fully synthetic society will not have the limitations we have today." Still fuming, Eira had moved away, standing near the edge of the studio. "Is that your intent? Global domination?" "If we can uplift all the world, and the world wants to be uplifted, why not?" asked Kay. "That is no more domination than the spread of democracy means British domination, or Wal-Mart American. Besides, Eira, can you tell me you don't think the world would be better off it were more synthetic?" "We are not visiting my place, yes?" parried Eira in return. "I am not the one who sided with Talos."
  9. "Hades has invaded Earth, tried to corrupt its champions, and at least once he tried teaming up with Baron Samedi to raise an army of the undead. He's what the US government calls a League-class threat. We know we don't have the power to fight him directly, so when he stages something, we sit back and direct the metahumans at him." Well that was leaving a few things out, but there was no reason to discuss the Titan missiles that were targeted at Freedom City and similar points of interest. Just in case. "And he's immortal, so this so-called 'reform' isn't going to last even if it's genuine." Ashley smiled thinly. "He's had fifty years to tell us who he is. As far as attending the gala, I'm fairly sure most of the metas attending are going to keep an eye out for whatever trap Hades is going to spring." Ashley spread her hands and said, "Cards on the table. The United States government wants more than just the Freedom League's say-so that people are keeping an eye on Hades. They want to make sure that we have someone on the inside; and that honor falls to yours truly. But if I show up stag, that's going to look suspicious - and it's not really the kind of party even I can infiltrate. But if I show up with a date, a metahuman everyone recognizes, that gives me more freedom of action. So..." She hesitated only briefly before saying, "I'm asking you to volunteer to come with me to the Hades Gala. Uh, don't worry, this is just for work," she added, blushing faintly, "I...well, my girlfriend isn't going to be in town for the party....anyway, this is something that could have some lasting benefits for you. Working with the US government isn't exactly respectable among some metahumans, but it's something that can work to your advantage. Now, and in the future. You're going to be living here for a while, right?"
  10. Neko listened carefully, her eyes narrow and head tilted slightly, ears pointed forward and hands folded in front of her. It was actually easier to understand Set the more she heard the Egyptian kami talk; even though the subjects were very different, his command of the English language wasn't so different than Owain's. She listened to Sekhmet too, albeit with a faint lowering of her head and attitude of more proper respect. It was certainly true that her videos for the Internet were not exactly respectable work - not the sort of thing her parents would have wanted her to do, had the world kept turning the way it should have. But there were no fields to till here or men like her to marry, and nobody was terribly interested in her hand at soba or spinning. "It is like - performing in a show," she offered. "You must be very...big if you want big money. Oh, you - " She tilted her head, then nodded. "All right. I have a friend who wants to see you. Please, do not be surprised." At that moment, something distinctly happened on Neko's right shoulder and a monkey appeared as he had always been there. He wore a service animal's harness and a leash that disappeared somewhere into Neko's kimono but he didn't look like a service animal, especially with the way he was tapping away at an Archetech-brand smartphone that Set recognized as one of the high-end models social media types used. This impression was only heightened when the monkey introduced himself as Merlin, Neko's manager (though this got him a friendly buzz from Red) and thanked Set for the recent social media support.
  11. Ashley smiled faintly in return. "I've had some experiences with other dimensions myself. I know what a culture shock it can be. There's actually another dimension out there where I'm told that I am the Raven, if you can believe that." She grinned, projecting the idea of just how ridiculous that was. She took a seat, then removed her dark glasses so she could look Predator in the eye. "But you've done well for yourself despite that. I know you haven't been here long, but you've had a chance to make a name in the super community. I understand you received an invitation to what people in the mask community are calling the Hades Gala?"
  12. Ashley hesitated, thinking about what to say. Yeah, tell the girl who'll never be able to sit down at a restaurant without people staring that you know how she feels. "Claremont has a way of forgetting there's a real world outside of putting on a costume and adopting a codename. But there is a real world out there," she said, tapping the window. "If you're a superhero 24 hours a day, you'll go crazy. You need to figure out who you are." She hesitated again, then said "Listen, if you're interested, I can -" Whatever she was about to say was interrupted by noises from down below. Peering out the window over the small kitchenette, the pair realized there were strangers outside - an old-fashioned car had just pulled up nearby the tower, a big black roadster full of men in old-fashioned suits that came quickly tumbling out.
  13. "When I was at Claremont," said the Patriot reflectively, "my teachers would have told me it was to build character and not actually explained a damn thing. I'm here to show you a place you can get away from it all." The walk up the hill (which you could technically call a hike if you wanted to) turned out to end in a tower, a wooden tower that actually rose above the treeline and ended in what looked like a small house. "The woods here catch on fire all the time," said the Patriot as they started climbing the steps up the side of the tower, "so they put people out here in the firewatch tower every summer to keep an eye out for smoke. Even in the days of cell phones and superpowers, nothing's better for protecting the woods than eyes and a phone." Up inside, the three-room dwelling turned out to be covered with a fine layer of dust that suggested nobody had been here in a while. "Nobody's on duty right now, but they'll be filling it up soon with fire season starting."
  14. "Sweet tea would be lovely, if you have it," said Tran politely. "Otherwise I'm fine." Ashley was from the South, and had learned years ago to specify between actual tea and boiled leaf water. She walked around the room, peering out the window and what few decorations were in the room. "I know coming here must have been a rough transition," she said sympathetically. "I've visited dimensions where the people...well, didn't look like me." She made a little dismissive wave with her left hand. "I can't imagine what it would be like to live among strangers full-time." Real strangers, she mused as she considered what the transition must have really been like, more than any community on Earth.
  15. It turned out not to be a hike, not really. The forest was thick, and older than you might think given its proximity to the coast. This wasn't an old-growth forest of hardwood like you might find further upstate; it was a forest of pine and cedars on sandy soil, the acidic and nutrient-poor soil having made conventional agriculture useless ages ago. This was the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and the Wharton State Forest was perhaps its greatest point. At least, that was what the brochure they picked up on their way in said. "I never came here much," said Ashley, the bike slowing as they moved through the twisty backroads of the state forest. "I was always a city girl, you know? But it's gorgeous out here, and if you look in the right direction, you can forget it's super-central back there!" She cocked a gloved thumb back at Freedom City. "The super world can get pretty nuts! Ah, here we go..." She stopped them at the edge of a gravel road and parked the bike, then crunched her way up the drive to step over the chain that blocked the road. The forest was alive with scent and sound; birds in the trees and small mammals scuttling about, and it occurred to Ashley that maybe she was about to see something get eaten. Oh well. Seen worse.
  16. Spring 2022 Jean had heard plenty about agents of the US government; even met a few during her settling into this dimension. This one was female, which was a trifle unusual. Her hair cut short and black, her eyes hidden behind sunglasses, her body wrapped in a suit and tie - well that wasn't so unusual. Once she'd shown her US government ID to the fox woman, demonstrating her bona fides as a member of the organization called the "United States Secret Service" 'Ashley Tran' said "Do you mind if I come in?" Well she's definitely a bipedal fox. Ashley remembered her meeting with the Copycat of Ani-Earth back when she was in high school and decided she wasn't going to cast judgement on this dimensional refugee. What the hell; being here had to be like a little slice of madness all the time. Well it's about to get even crazier.
  17. The Patriot didn't really go in for fancy parties - but this wasn't the sort of thing that the US government's top super-agent could just avoid. She couldn't go as herself; but that didn't mean she couldn't go at all. Copycat’s outfit was gorgeous. There was no denying it, and one thing about having someone in her life who appreciated how she looked was that she could too. But then even the US government could make beautiful things, if they were so inclined. The hardest part was, as one elderly tailor had put it to Ashley, “you are built like a brick hithouse” - and it was absolutely true that she was considerably more muscular than the average woman of her height. She wasn’t Triakosia or Wander; she had to build these things herself and didn’t have a metahuman constitution backing her up. (Well, most of the time) She was wearing the best wig tax dollars and her own hands could provide, a well-crafted one that covered her side-cut, blue-dyed hair, thick and dark and glossy, tough enough that it would stay on her head while she was maneuvering and loose enough that she could yank it off with a single hard tug. She’d put on bright red lipstick to set off her bronze complexion - and her mask. Her cat mask was like something made for the Venetian Carnival - a black half-face cat’s mask with gold around the eyes, head, and ears, a faint suggestion of fur around its edges, carefully tied back behind her wig. She had two matching ears in a barrette, perched on top of her head. The black of the mask matched her dress. The dress was rather naughtier than she’d have worn around so many people in her regular identity, though she was definitely going to save it and wear it for Fa’Rua the next time she was back from the Moon, so she could show her how it went on and how it came off - Well, it had been too long since she’d seen her girlfriend. As it was, it was certainly a tight dress, black and slinky, clinging to the lines of her body just as much allowed room for movement. You had to look closely to spot that the keyhole top that cut down between her breasts and cut low across her chest was actually flesh-colored cloth that went all the way up to her neck. The black henna tattoos on her arms and the dark hose visible through the slit in the front of her dress that went up to her thigh caught the eye - and made sure nobody was looking too closely at how she wasn’t just dressed to impress - she was dressed for war. The outfit had all she could of her gear carefully hidden away - some of it tucked into the wig, some of it in the purse she wore over her left shoulder. She’d learned how to fight in heels when she was seventeen, even if the trick was mostly getting out of them. If that party turned into a brawl, she was ready for it. As she walked up to the door, she hoped her ‘date’, changing inside her apartment, was ready - she’d had an outfit paid for by Uncle Sam too, after all. The last time she’d come to Predator’s door, the conversation had been…interesting.
  18. "Good for you!" Ashley called. "The only extracurriculars I had were boxing, wrestling, and tutoring with Summers!" If that's what you want to call it, anyway. "High school and college are the last time you can just sneak off to draw something, or run track, or be in a play just because you want it!" She was taking them out of the city, weaving through cars on the interstate as they picked up speed, getting the occasional blast of a horn from someone who recognized the Patriot - or just didn't recognize their speed. "You deserve some time to actually grow up." That was one thing Ashley certainly hadn't had in high school - or so it had felt, anyway. "You ever get out to the state forest!? That's where we're headed!"
  19. Neko had been in situations like this before; and she'd been warned about the nature of possibly superpowered strangers in Freedom City in particular. A private place turned out to be just inside the community center, right next to a transparent glass window that showed the elders outside watching a small troupe of young people perform a traditional dance. Once inside, Neko folded her hands before her and eyed Betsy again, her gaze yellow and ears folded back on top of her head. "I am a stranger here," she said, tail twitching behind her. "but I am not alone." As she spoke, Betsy became conscious of the fact that they weren't alone inside the mostly deserted room. There were cats; cats on the empty chairs inside, cats lurking behind the television, cats of various shapes and sizes and all watching her with gleaming eyes.
  20. "See if you can get out to the Fens!" the Patriot called as they sped up, zipping their way through the streets. "There's enough space there you can get around without a lot of cameras; and the locals don't turn up their nose at metas!" That much she'd had a chance to confirm herself, back in her Watchdog days; and she knew enough about Nighthawk to know the cyborg girl would welcome the assistance. She considered what to say next, then said, "Listen, Puma - what do you like to do for fun?! When Summers isn't breathing down your neck?!" It was the perfect day for motorcycle riding; traffic was light today on a weekday that was too early in the summer for the public high school and college kids to be out on break, late enough that the morning rush was long since gone. Ashley gunned it, enjoying the wind on the lower half of her face as she went.
  21. "Oh!" Neko stared at Set's transformation with big yellow eyes, hands folded before her and tail twitching. Then she cocked her head, listening to her invisible interlocutor again, then shook her head. "You are most polite," she said diplomatically. "But it is not stealing." She shot a look around the room, eyes flicking to catgirls and boys, wearing the clothes and the ears, in the flesh and on the walls. Though nobody seemed to exactly have her look, nobody else for the moment seemed to have any sort of power. It was her and the gods; and a very large room full of people. "You are just - wearing it. Everyone wears it." When Red's cameras came back on, Neko lit up like a paper lantern - not in so many words, but with a bubbly, cheery demeanor that was not false necessarily but was not much like the girl who'd been talking seriously to Set at all. "Hiii! And Konichiwa. Welcome back to Catgirl Reacts, where I have just met two amazing individuals!" She turned to Sekhmet first and declared, "Look at this! Sekhmet, the amazing lion kami!" She punched the air for emphasis at that. "Just like a Japanese Komainu!" She turned to Set and said, "And here is Set, the amazing kami of the desert! But he is not sandy at all, he is very kind." She beamed and said, "Oh and I understand we have many new subscribers coming in now! Domo arigato!" She turned to Set and Sekhmet and said, "You both have many fans on the Internet. How did you get them?"
  22. Sea Devil Spectacle They'd met with Aquaria before the ball and told her something of the plan. There was no way this invitation was an innocent one, not with everyone's knowledge of Hades, and so a group of heroes was going to be investigating the truth of this place. But they would need distractions; big, bold, loud distractions that could keep the attention even of the gods. Did Aquaria think she could do such a thing? They hadn't needed to ask. Aquaria knew perfectly well that the gods of the Surface were false, lying things that wore the masks of divinity as a mere cover for their true nature. She knew perfectly well that a god worshipped by the sons and daughters of Atlantis was a particularly wicked creature. Hades had invaded this realm, many times? Well that sort of murderous weakness was what one expected from such a creature. She was only too happy to crash the party, especially if it meant a chance to show the might of the true gods before these false ones. And so she had dressed accordingly. Aquaria studied herself in the mirror, snuffling deeply to inhale her own scent, and liked what she saw. She was nude save for the harness that held her trophies and her cellphone, her muscular body showing off the tattoos that were her ancient birthright - the eldritch signs and seals that were marks of her adulthood, of her femaleness, of her first hunt and first kill, of her tribe below and her tribe above, and all the other signs that were hers. The elder sign, burnt deep across her back, the golden sign, gleaming on her belly. And didn't her skin gleam! She'd rubbed herself down with ample amounts of fat, using the pig and cow fat that was easy to buy on the surface, and if her smell was rather alien to her own nostrils it was certainly striking. Her trident gleamed too, the dark, rough metal of Lemuria polished to shiny brightness, enough that she could see her eyes and the eldritch doom of man when she peered closely into it. She struck the trident against the ground and boomed the speech she'd been practicing: "Behold! I am Aquaria Innsmouth of Those Below! I have come among you Above to eat fish and make strong friends! Where are the fish?" It was a bold speech, suitable for a female alone against false gods, making a great show of herself and scarpering before any of the real battles could take place. (It was a shame she hadn't been able to talk Jessie into coming, but Jessie needed time to work on her thesis and do her hair.) But when what was Aquaria herself but boldness incarnate? Raising her trident, she called upon the might of the gods, and stepped through a gateway to Greece.
  23. "Here, put these on." The Patriot pressed a button on the bike's handle, causing a compartment to open in the side of the bike with a faint hiss. What she produced turned out to be a collapsible helmet in Puma's size, and a plain leather jacket to go with it. "The helmet is made to fit your head," she said, "and you should be able to wear that jacket over your costume, no problem. I know you have enhanced stamina and toughness," she said as she climbed on the bike herself and gunned the engine, "but falling off at super-speed is no joke." Her own helmet was obviously bike-worthy, among other things. Once they were on the road, she called out over the noise of the engine, "The best place near Freedom is on the road to the naval base! Straight and level, and there's hardly any traffic if you take the military roads! How often are you able to get off-campus!?"
  24. Ashley studied the girl, feeling more than a twinge of sympathy. Metahumans who wore their identity on their faces could make a fine living as a superhero if they moved out to one of the states that paid salaries; but between the laws against employing meta-soldiers and meta-cops in most places, not to mention peoples fear, superheroing was the only thing they'd be able to do with themselves. So she didn't ask Puma about her future, not wanting to raise a subject she figured was probably a sore one. And she may not want to eat out, either. "Do you like to ride?" she asked as she walked back to her motorcycle. Looks like her hips are shaped the right way for it, anyway. "I can get this thing up to sub-sonic speed on an open road, and she turns like nothing around corners. I can show you some spots they don't usually take the kids..."
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