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Electra

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Freedom City Guidebook

Freedom City PBP: A How-To Guide

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  1. "Ugh, I really thought that was going to work for a minute!" Danica abandoned the little-girl-lost persona and began moving her scooter faster. "I actually do think we should go to Riverside," she added. "If we can get to the Master Mage, maybe he can help us figure out what's going on! I know sort of where he lives in this time period, my parents took me to see him a few times when I was little and they were trying to figure out my powers. If we can get close enough, he'll probably notice us first anyway, right? Unless somebody else has a better idea, or a line on the time machine that might be in Freedom City in the eighties?"
  2. "Okay, wait, hey, here..." Raina was not good with crying people, not good at all, but she sensed that this situation would not be improved by shaking Neko and telling her to get hold of herself. Trying to unpack the wartime trauma of somebody who'd lost most of their friends in World War Two also seemed like a losing strategy, or at least one she herself was not equipped for. Instead she dug a packet of kleenex out of her desk drawer and put it in the distraught girl's hand. "Blow your nose and tell me what you saw," she ordered. "You fought Hiroshima Shadow? What happened then?" Over Neko's shoulder she could see Merlin, his attention engaged at last, starting to do some web searches.
  3. "I'm fine," Stesha assured Ashley quietly. "Don't even worry about it. You were right to call, that was a very nasty wound." She smiled a little ruefully. "I'm pretty sure I'm not wearing my own shoes and I completely forgot my hat and mittens, but it's nice to know I can still do a sixty second response when I have to. And Basil may just sleep through the whole thing." She splayed a hand over her chest, which made the small bulge of a baby in a cloth sling a bit more apparent under the coat. "So... what's the story with these guys? I'm getting nonhostile alternate reality but wow, it's a weird one." She chanced another look over at Erik-not-Derrick, but it was just too strange.
  4. Raina tilted her head to one side and watched as her agitated housemate did quick laps around the room. "I'm not going to give you a blank check for believing," she said frankly, "but I've seen a lot of really crazy stuff in the past few years. I believe a lot of stuff that sounds nuts just because it actually happened to me. How about I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on not being crazy and we'll go from there?" It was definitely not impossible that somebody who'd had the life Neko had might be more than a little unbalanced, sure, but a lot of superheroes lived basically their whole lives that way and got by.
  5. "Okay, come on in," Raina replied, after a hasty spell got her translation magic up and running again. Merlin was a bit tart in his estimation of how polite it was to have conversations in a language he couldn't understand, but she pointed out that he was wearing headphones anyway and would only use a translation spell to watch Gintama without the subtitles. He grumbled but subsided when Neko walked in, returning his attention to the game. Raina didn't bother to get up from where she was sitting cross-legged on her bed, but she did dogear her book page and set it aside. "What's up?" Judging by the whole whippy-puff-tail thing Neko currently had going, she suspected this would probably not be a gossip session or fashion advice.
  6. The knock on the door was weird. Raina counted herself as something of an expert on door knocks, at least of the Espadas variety. From a quick knuckle-brush against an open doorframe to a flurry of tiny pounding, each member of the expansive household had their own particular way of announcing themselves when they wanted attention. The firm "Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior" knock was therefore unexpected and frankly, weird. It was even enough to get Merlin to look away from Halo for almost three-quarters of a second before squeaking in outrage as someone tried to capture his flag. Raina stuck a finger in the book of poetry she was reading and rolled to sit up. "Yeah?" she called, not about to grant a threshold invite to a potential stranger.
  7. Fleur hurried over to the fallen hero, ignoring the snow to kneel awkwardly beside Hellion and Persephone. "Don't worry," she promised the distraught AI, even as she began pulling seeds from her pockets, "he'll be good as new in just a minute." She began the familiar motions of creating a healing poultice, only to nearly drop the mess of plants in her hands when the so-familiar black void appeared at the edge of her vision. Rearing back, she stared up at... "You're not Derrick," she realized aloud, narrowing her eyes to get a better look. "You're... I know you." Her mouth dropped open. "Erik? But how?" Tiamat's arrival was enough to drag her attention back to the matter at hand, and in another moment the poultice was finished. Carefully sliding aside ruined fabric to expose Hellion's wound, Fleur applied the mass of plant material and waited until it glowed green and disappeared into the skin before removing her hand. "There we go. Hellion, can you hear me?"
  8. Stesha will do skill mastered 25s on Notice and Sense Motive, mainly trying to get the mood of the group and whether they have any bad intentions, but she's also trying to figure out who the heck this obviously-not-Derrick is.
  9. A visit to Sanctuary wasn't necessary, which was probably good given how much Tiamat enjoyed glaring. One of the stately trees on the edge of the property shook off its snowy coating as it yawed forward to open its branches and deposit Fleur de Joie safely on the ground. She was out of costume as she had been since well before starting her maternity leave, bundled instead in a massive puffy blue overcoat that surely didn't belong to her and that looked to be covering at least a couple other layers of winter clothing. Her green hair was mostly covered by the coat's hood, but there were hints of a glittery gold "2022" tiara peeking out from behind a few errant strands. Fleur stepped out of the tree's path and let it return to its full height. From her position, she didn't have a good view of the strangers, but she could see several of her teammates. "Patriot called and said somebody needs healing right away?"
  10. Well... none of this was very great. Danica took in another breath of desert and leaded-fuel scented air, then did her best to stuff down panic before turning to face the police officers. She touched the control of her scooter that put it in its lowest-tech stealth mode as a thin-wheeled unpowered scooter of the sort a kid might ride around. Checking to be sure her physical disguise was in place as well, she put on her most adorable and winsome little-kid manners and rolled up next to Heroditus. "We're lost!" she agreed. "We really need to get to Riverside, but we can't find the right bus stop. We're from out of town and my friend got really scared because it's getting so late." She bit her lip and tried to project only some of the nerves she was feeling. "Can you help us?"
  11. “Yeah,” Stesha agreed with a watery smile, “sometimes almost too good. But you might be right. I just... I don't want to have to deal with it. It's nobody else's business.” She took Miss A's offered hand to sit up and adjusted her voluminous shirt back into place. “Thanks for the exam, I know you're busy.” Miss A nodded almost curtly, but it was discomfort and not dismissive. “Anytime,” she told Stesha. “Take care of yourself and I'll see you in another four weeks.” Leaving the ArcheTech complex was a simple matter of stepping into the nearest hallway, thanks to the bamboo palm standing in the corridor near the elevator. It was looking especially bushy, possibly due to Stesha's proximity for the past hour, and provided an ideal doorway to the safe anonymity of the park outside. As she walked off down the path, Stesha pulled out her phone and dialed by heart. “Hey, yeah, it went really well. You're never gonna guess what I found out...”
  12. “Okay.” Miss Americana accepted that without further question, maybe worried that if she pushed any harder, Stesha would actually cry. It wasn't an ill-founded fear. “That's good to know, that helps. We'll probably want to talk about his powers at some point, if you know them. It might have something to do with why your whole... flower... thing has been so much more intense this time around. But I don't think it's urgent right now. And I meant what I said. You can tell people whatever you want and I'm not going to say anything. God knows we deserve what privacy we can get.” “I just can't cope with the tabloids again,” Stesha admitted, swallowing past the lump in her throat. “It's bad enough with them not knowing anything and just speculating. It's actually kind of funny when they think I did it all by myself. But it would be so much worse than last time... I'd just have to go to Sanctuary and not come back. I don't want to have to do that.” “They won't hear anything from me,” Miss A promised. “And if I see anything coming down the pike, I'll do what I can to quash it. It's going to be all right,” she offered, with an awkwardness that was somehow more comforting because it was more real. “You're alive and the baby's healthy, and everything's going smoothly right now. And even if your teammates found out, I'm pretty sure they'd still have your back. I don't get along with everybody on the League, but they're good people.”
  13. “I don't regret it,” Stesha said, her voice just a little choked. “But otherwise you're pretty close.” She rested a hand on her stomach, ignoring the traces of gel still clinging to the bare skin. “It's complicated, but not really, not when it comes down to it. Like I've said all along, I'm perfectly capable of doing this on my own.” “I don't doubt it,” Miss A assured her, belatedly offering her a damp towel to clean herself off. “You're not only self-sufficient to a fault, QED, but if you had a problem, half the goddamn city would drop everything to make sure it wasn't a problem anymore. But personal problems aren't exactly the sort of thing you can always solve with superpowers. I'm assuming that the father is a meta, just from the strength of what I'm seeing on the readings. Do you think he might, ah, cause problems if he were to find out?” “He knows,” Stesha replied, her voice a little bleak. “He's not a supervillain, if that's what you're thinking. He just... he has his own things going on. He can't... we can't afford to... I don't really want to talk about it.” She pursed her lips hard and blinked at the ceiling, trying to focus on the lights and ignore the painting. “But trust me, I'm not in any danger from that direction.”
  14. “It just seemed easier!” Stesha claimed, trying not to sound defensive. She definitely sounded defensive, even to her own ears. “It's not like I meant to get pregnant, but I want this baby very much and I didn't want to cause a lot of problems on the team. But if you're asking if this baby was conceived the natural way then the answer is yes. Two sets of DNA, just like every baby.” Miss A sighed and studied her for a minute, obviously processing a lot of information all at once. “All right,” she finally said. “Okay. So I'm going to make a couple more assumptions here, but this time I need you to actually tell me if I'm right or wrong.” “Fine.” Stesha looked back up at the ceiling. “You got pregnant right around the time you came back from that attack this spring, I'm assuming that part is accurate based on fetal development and because you wouldn't screw around with that kind of information.” Stesha allowed a tiny nod for that inference, so Miss A went on. “Getting almost killed makes people do impulsive things.” “Actually getting killed,” Stesha corrected curtly. “Coming back notwithstanding.” “Right,” Miss A agreed. “It can make you reevaluate your life, maybe decide to change some things. Maybe do things you normally wouldn't do. I'm going to go out on a limb and say you maybe slept with somebody you regret, and that's how this all started. And if people on your team knew, it could cause trouble.”
  15. “Ah.” Stesha pursed her lips and looked up at the ceiling. Someone had pasted a print of Klimt's Mother and Child up there, presumably to distract from the inevitable stirrup-related procedures involved in obstetric care. “So, a boy then?” “Mazel tov,” Miss A told her, dry humor in her voice. “Look, I understand if you want to keep people out of your personal business. Nobody understands better, I bet. And everything that happens in here with you and me is totally private. I don't even let my employees look at these records, much less other superheroes or members of the public. You can tell people anything you want, but I'm your doctor here, and I need to know what's actually going on so I can care for you and this baby. You're saying this is parthenogenesis, but that seems impossible. Do we need to start looking for answers, or is this an answer you already know?” “Well,” Stesha hedged, “I never actually said parthenogenesis. But people made a lot of assumptions, and I just, ah, let them believe things.” “Are you kidding me?” Miss Americana went on a rapid and deeply expressive face journey, incredulity, anger, exasperation as Stesha practically watched her search her own eidetic memory for every conversation they'd had. It didn't take long, and finally the genius was left massaging the bridge of her perfect nose with three perfect fingers. “Oh my god. Stesha, really?”
  16. “Not wrong, not really,” Miss A hedged. “The baby's totally healthy. Absolutely fine as far as I can tell. Definitely going to be a meta, though it's too early to tell any kind of power set. But you mentioned that there was no father... um, involved in the situation.” Stesha offered a Mona Lisa smile, which so far had served her amazingly well in deflecting questions about her child's parentage. Her own powerset was broad enough and poorly defined enough that it could include all sorts of things, and people tended to think it was rude to ask too many questions. “Sometimes a sister just has to do for herself, right?” she quipped. Miss Americana looked unimpressed by the flippancy. “Sure,” she said, “but human parthenogenesis is a little more complicated than just deciding to be a single parent. And it's still bound by some of the rules of science that we understand. For instance, we know for sure that because there's only one set of DNA involved in the process, parthenogenesis invariably results in a clone of the mother. There might be small genetic differences, but nothing too big. Nothing, for instance, like an entire Y chromosome showing up out of nowhere.”
  17. “Everything looks good on the ultrasound,” Miss A reported, startling Stesha from the light reverie she'd fallen into while watching the fascinatingly alien creature moving and grimacing on the screen. This new one didn't appreciate the poking and prodding, responding with enthusiastic pokes of their own to every movement of the probe. “Normal development, and you're still on schedule for your original due date. Good movement, good heartbeat, and you're gaining an appropriate amount of weight and, um, girth for this stage of pregnancy. I know you didn't want to know the gender...” she began, trailing off. “I figured I'd let it be a surprise,” Stesha told her easily, trying to not remember last time when Derrick had been with her and had written his excitement and glee on the surface of the moon. “Yeah, and normally that'd be totally cool,” Miss A replied, shifting on her stool in a way that was a little less polished heroine and a little more like the real woman who rarely let herself peek out from the robot shell. “But in this case I think it's relevant.” “What do you mean?” Stesha asked, her attention sharpening. “Is something wrong?”
  18. One thing Stesha had learned about herself during both of her pregnancies was that the further along she got, the more she craved soft surfaces and cozy places. Nesting instinct was a real thing, and she'd gotten a bad case of it with Ammy that wasn't showing any signs of easing up with this new one. Her bedroom on Sanctuary was dangerously close to achieving pillow fort status after a number of impulsive online bedding orders. Amaryllis, at least, was delighted by the development, but combined with the continued spontaneous plant growth, it was getting sort of hard to navigate in there. It was definitely comfy, though. The high tech labs at ArcheTech couldn't be much further from that natural coziness if they'd tried. Miss Americana had obviously gone to some effort to soften the technofuturistic aesthetic of the lab she'd parked Stesha in, rolling in some baffle walls with soothing art prints of mothers and babies to conceal hulking pieces of equipment and dimming the lights from surgical brilliance to something easier on the eyes and nerves. It still reminded Stesha of getting a doctor's checkup from Dr. Frankenstein, a comparison she couldn't dismiss no matter how often she told herself it was unkind. Miss A wasn't really a mad scientist, and she'd done a fine job during Stesha's first delivery (which had apparently been Miss A's first as well, something Stesha was just as glad she hadn't known at the time.) Superhuman intellect and study skills made up for a lot, and she'd gotten more practice in the intervening decade.
  19. Danica had stopped her scooter when the rest of the group had slowed, keeping her hands locked on the handlebars as she craned her neck around to take in the whole scene. Her body was slow but her brain did all right, and it was going as fast as it possibly could at the moment. She took a couple of deep breaths, trying to keep it from tripping over itself. "Okay," she said aloud to herself, then louder to the group, "Okay. We obviously just went through some kind of portal. Time portal or dimension portal, hard to say. These cars look like cars from when I was little, so that would be the eighties, maybe? First thing to know is if we can get back." She carefully spun her scooter around, the modifications Eira and Ryder had put on making the turn radius very small, and trundled back the way they'd just come. It didn't look like anything portal-like was there, but sometimes portals could be invisible.
  20. "Yay, makeover montage!" Danica cheered. The tight aisles of the store made moving challenging, so Danica parked by the front entrance and began making her very slow way around the store on foot. She made up for her lack of speed by pointing Neko in the direction of various items, posters that way, novelty shirts this way, stay out of this aisle because it's embarrassing grown-up stuff, jewelry up by the counter. She got distracted several times by new novelty items on the shelves, but did her best to pay attention to the focus of their shopping. "There's a dressing room in the back, try some stuff on!"
  21. "Great!" With a wave of her arm, Stesha gestured to a vine trellis growing nearby. Leaves rustled and shifted, thickening into a solid doorway that suddenly shimmered with green light. Stesha offered a hand in case Tori needed the reassurance, then led the way into the portal. There was a moment of dislocation, a flash of brilliant green light and the smell of crackling autumn leaves, and then suddenly they were... elsewhere. Very elsewhere, if Tori's senses could be believed. To the eyes, Stesha had brought her to a beautiful deciduous forest in autumn, right at the height of leaf-peeping season. The trees were a riot of colors and the ground crackled under them with crispy dried leaves. A clearing behind them revealed a tidy two-story home that would've looked like a normal house if it didn't appear to be made almost entirely of living plants. An expansive child-size wooden tree fort system ran through several of the nearby trees, complete with swings and a long plastic slide that was the most obviously artificial thing in the whole place. In front of them, a broad flat path led off into the woods. "Welcome to Sanctuary," Stesha told her, sounding proud. "Are you okay? Everything settling right, powerswise?"
  22. Danica considered that for a second. "Okay, first off," she began, "your friend is British, right? So we better clear up the whole pants question. I've gotten in weird trouble with that one before," she added cheerfully. "When you say pants, do you mean like pants-pants?" she demonstrated by tugging on the fabric of her trousers, "or the underpants that go beneath, like panties? Because I guess the answer is sort of the same," she barreled on, "since you should probably always be wearing underpants and wearing pants-pants is pretty much fine in every situation, but it's still an important thing to know what you're talking about! In Britain they call pants-pants trousers and underpants pants, and that was SO confusing the first time I met a student from there." She punched the button that opened the automatic doors to the mall. "We can't take too long if we want to be in before curfew, but we can find some fun stuff. Tori probably knows what's popular better than I do, honestly."
  23. Jessie had been to the Super Museum several times, both as a tourist and to help clean up as a community service after various calamities, so she wasn't exactly riveted to the tour. "This one time," she told Ryder, "a whole bunch of my dimensional doubles started showing up here on Prime because an evil version of me was trying to kill us all off. I don't think we got an exact count but there were like thirty of us, maybe more? One of them kept committing crimes so I ended up going back to jail for awhile before things got straightened out. But even though we were all the same person genetically and most of us had pretty similar backgrounds up to a point, we were all different. Even small things that change in your life can make you a really different person. The copy of me who is native to this universe and Wander and I were all literally the same person before our timelines split when we were thirteen, and we all ended up totally different. Nobody else has everything that makes you you, I guess I'm saying." She shut her mouth, as though a little embarrassed to have said so much at once.
  24. "Yeah, absolutely," Stesha agreed with a laugh. "'Powers don't solve everything' is one of the first and hardest lessons, I think. The only worse one is "even if your powers could maybe fix something, you yourself are only human." She straightened from the tray and put her hands to the small of her back, grimacing as her center of balance shifted drastically and popped a couple vertebrae. "We can only do so much." She turned to Tori, letting the squash vines slide over and around one another like a nest of snakes, blossoms banging against one another. "Would you like to come to Sanctuary now?" she asked. "I'm pretty sure it's allowed, so long as you have your blanket permission forms filled out and such. There's not a lot of excitement going on today, but we're sowing some cover crops and doing a ton of canning, and you can meet the dairy cows and our horses and dogs, if you like." After running a quick mental inventory, Stesha was pretty sure there wouldn't be any meat harvesting happening that could upset the young heroine. Tori seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, but some aspects of working farms would probably not be great for her.
  25. Jessie stayed quiet through most of the trip, concentrating on driving the unremarkable sedan she'd borrowed to avoid having to bounce Baxter and the students all over town. Before she let him out of the car, she fit Baxter's service vest around his chest and clipped his harness into place. Baxter did not have a uniform, uniforms could make pets into targets, and that would be very bad. Jessie wasn't entirely sure what she would do if someone tried to hurt her dog, and she didn't want to find out. Fortunately, the trip into the museum was made without incident, and she could relax a little bit with no one else around. While Gary was messing with his own tablet to queue up some tour material, Jessie made her way over to Ryder. "You shouldn't worry too much about what people from the future say," she advised him quietly. "It happens a lot, and usually they aren't right. There are a lot of possible futures and they change all the time. My... um, you know Wander? She's gotten future visitors probably a dozen times and so far none of them have been proven right and some are definitely wrong. So, um, try not to let it bother you."
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