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Electra

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Freedom City Guidebook

Freedom City PBP: A How-To Guide

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  1. 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?"
  2. “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...”
  3. “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.”
  4. “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.”
  5. “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.”
  6. “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?”
  7. “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.”
  8. “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?”
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. "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!"
  12. "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?"
  13. 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."
  14. 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.
  15. "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.
  16. 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."
  17. Danica's whole face brightened at Neko's admission. "We have _got_ to take you to Hot Topic," she breathed. "They have _so_ many posters and cool lamps and decorations, plus all the raddest clothes, and a big anime section! Not that you have to like anime," she added hastily, "but like, some of it's in Japanese so it might be easier to understand, you know? If we get you stuff that's subtitled, maybe it could even help you practice English? But anyway," she barreled on, "super good place to find fun dorm room stuff. Or we could start at Target, get you some basics, and then get fancy! What do you think, Tori?"
  18. Danica turned on her scooter's light and followed the others into the cave, her wheels humming slightly as they crunched over sand and pebbles. "We can look for water sources deeper in the cave too," she offered. "A lot of desert caves were formed by water originally and might still have some. The Painted Desert is one of the driest places in the whole country, though, so we might not get lucky there," she admitted. "The desert wildlife here gets most of their water from plants and insects, but the ecology is really super-delicate and we don't wanna mess with that. Maybe we could just pretend?" she offered to the teacher. "Or when the storm stops, we can put together a really neato solar still? My dad taught me how to make one from a plastic grocery bag and an empty water bottle!"
  19. Stesha passed Tori an armload of lettuces. "Could you arrange these in that milk crate? I'm going to drop them off at the cafeteria for the salad bar later." She took a handful of seeds from her jacket pocket and sprinkled the tray as she thought. "It's hard to be anybody's symbol," she said after a few moments. "People are going to have a lot of expectations for you, based more on what they think of the symbol than on who you really are. People like my friend Beth, the old Lady Liberty," she added, "she struggled with the same problem. You can't be the soul of a whole country, even if your face is its symbol. Some people are always going to disagree with you or dislike you just for what you represent. That would be the same whatever background you come from." The green shoots in Stesha's tray were already growing quickly, sending little tendrils of vine around her fingers as she played idly with the soil. "Beth didn't talk about it a lot, but I know she chose her battles very carefully when it came to her image. Lady Liberty's voice was a tool she could use to help shape peoples' opinions on important things, but only if she picked the right time and place for it. I think that's why she was very careful, before she retired, to keep her private life separate from her public persona. You can do a lot as a private individual that you maybe can't when you're a symbol." She shook the little vines from her hands, letting them spill over the edge of the tray as they began to form yellow trumpet-shaped blossoms. "I'd love to show you around Sanctuary anytime you wanted," she told Tori, "I just don't want you to be disappointed if you're looking for an, um, ungorked ecosystem. Sanctuary is a salvage project that I started mostly because I was teaching myself how to undo ecological destruction. The whole planet is a wasteland except for the parts that we've reclaimed. I think it's gorgeous, but I'm probably kind of biased about it," she admitted with a laugh. "Do you think the students would eat squash blossoms, or should I let these keep growing?"
  20. Paige fails her reflex save by just a bit, but it's okay because she passes her toughness save.
  21. "It's a tough problem," Stesha agreed, sympathetic and a little rueful. "I think almost everybody like us has to answer that question for themselves, and it's always a little different. Sometimes the answer changes at different times and different circumstances. For me, I try to eat food that's ethically sourced and minimally wasteful, which isn't too hard because I live on a farm-to-table planet where everything is valuable. Humans have a right to take part in the food web, but we have an obligation to do what we can to eliminate suffering and waste. That's the answer I can live with, anyway. You might find a different answer, and it's not weird or difficult to care about it." By now the other lettuces were reaching their full growth, even in the tiny trays that should not have supported them at all. Stesha began harvesting them simply by plucking them from the soil; it was easy because the plants appeared to have almost no root. "As for the other part, has anyone started teaching you mental shielding yet?"
  22. Paige had been at enough super-battles to recognize when one wasn't going well. Their early attacks hadn't seemed to do much more than bother the villain, and the area was still full of vulnerable civilians. Worse, the area was still full of Paige's family, both by blood and by long friendship. She could see the robotic menace turning his attention here and there, selecting a target. "You leave them alone," she hissed, her eyes bleeding to inky blackness as dark smoke ribbons began to drip from her fingers. Dangerous waters here, but she knew what she was doing. Probably. Yards away from the villain, the silent air began stirring, forming itself into a swirl, then a twister, then an unnaturally compressed ball. It shot forward through the air, impacting Talos in the center of the throat, hard enough to knock the enormous robot backwards and ensure it wasn't concentrating on anyone for a moment. "Get back!" Paige called to everyone. "Get at least a block away, we don't know what it's got!"
  23. It only took a moment for Danica to pick up on Neko's discomfort and intuit at least a little of its source. Yeah, that would be awkward, she realized belatedly, and launched into her own story with gusto that would hopefully move the conversation well past anything that could press a sore point. "I'm the earthly avatar of a tortoise god!" she told Tori cheerfully. "My mom officially likes tortoises more than anybody else in the whole world, or she did thirty-five years ago, anyway! So when the turtle god wanted to have an earthly avatar, they sent me to her! She was pregnant for eighteen months, it was a whole entire thing!" She scooped up a forkful of noodles, twirling them slowly as she spoke. "I'm super-duper hard to hurt, and I have a pocket dimension inside my shell that I can use as a spare bedroom, and I can make spirit turtles bite people if I need to. Plus I age really, really slowly. I move pretty slowly too, but that's why Ryder and Eira and their science friends built me my scooter!"
  24. "Um, yes, that's true," Jessie said awkwardly. "You should definitely try not to go to prison, it's not a place most people want to be. Not that we thought that was a possibility anyway," she added, her tone and look suggesting she was trying to remind Aquaria of that more than anybody. "You guys seem like you'll do great at, um, hero work or whatever you decide to do." Even as she was speaking she was trying to keep an eye on the two students, her roommate, the dog and all the robots all at the same time. It was enough to give her a headache. "Anyway, we thought you might like a trip off campus for the afternoon?"
  25. Okay, Paige is just going to straight up try to nail this dude with a telekinetic rock to the center of his semi-metaphorical forehead. (Damage 12 (Entropokinesis/Telekinesis; Extra: Range [Perception]; Flaw: Action [Full]; PFs: Knockback 10 [Total 20], PFs: Precise, Stunning Attack, Subtle) {40/40})
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