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Found 89 results

  1. February 2012 The team helps some stranded travelers get home. But who?
  2. November 3, 2011 Somewhere in the Wharton State Forest Mark Lucas hated Nazis, which made it all the more awkward to be here in the middle of a growing crowd of them. His long-sleeved "Don't Tread On Me" T-shirt hid his lack of white supremacist tattoos, but his blonde hair cut very short let him look very much like an Aryan poster boy. This was not really reassuring to Mark, but this was the sort of thing you did when you took up the legacy of the greatest Nazi fighters in the world. He tried to remember his conversation with Cannonade that had brought them all there: Greta Ratner, aka the Aryan Angel, or as his UNISON file had described her "Britney Spears meets Eva Braun" was one of the most famous neo-Nazis in the country: there weren't many beautiful blonde eighteen-year-olds willing to shake their booty in the name of racial purity. But Greta had, through her own channels, approached Cannonade (the very face of skinhead superheroes) and asked for help: she was worried that her latest concert was going to be attacked by her many enemies, and that meant she needed a superhero to help. Of course it was a trap. You couldn't trust Nazis, even if they were hot blondes from the Midwest. Which meant instead of just one hero, the Liberty League was out in force! Even if Cannonade would be the only one the Nazis would be able to see in uniform. Hmming, sipping his Coke, Mark walked around the gathering crowd, looking for familiar faces.
  3. November 11, 2011 Erin White's Apartment One of the advantages of being able to jump from continent to continent was that if you wanted to go to your friend's birthday, you could just take advantage of the Armistice Day celebrations that gave most UN employees the day off and walk right over to Freedom City. So it was that when Erin White reached the age of nineteen, her high school friend and ally against the Terminus, Mark Lucas, just headed over to her place around ten AM eastern standard time, a big package under his arm fresh from a nice store in Switzerland. They'd all exchanged addresses before they'd moved out their various ways, so it was no trouble even for the usually scatter-brained Mark to find exactly where his old ally and Liberty League comrade was living these days, for all that he hadn't visited her there. He knocked firmly, whistling a jaunty tune.
  4. November 3, 2011 The Liberty League deals with neo-Nazis.
  5. September 12, 2011 Not long after their meeting in Paris, Edge made his own way to the Chateau Relais, following the plans laid down by Midnight and the more experienced heroes on the team. I guess I can't really call it Young Freedom; that belongs to the Claremont kids and anyway some of them aren't really that young! He'd hidden in plain sight as a UNISON employee on break, renting a car at the Bern airport and chatting volubly with the clerk there about how great it was to be in Switzerland and how much nicer it was than his usual African posting. From there, a car ride up to the mountains had taken him to the Chateau, where the last few weeks before the first real snow of the year had left the roads empty and quiet as he drove up and up towards the Chateau at an impressive 10,000 feet. Once there, he was all the cheerful, loud American tourist, buying a jaunty Tyrolean hat and parading around in it while he butchered German for the amusement of the locals, eating a huge breakfast in the chateau's impressive dining hall adorned with hunting trophies from all over the region. There were quite a few people there already, Japanese businessmen and quiet Swiss and Germans alike, and he let them see him without a trace of apparent artifice. The more of that that was in place, the better; who could be suspicious of that loud tourist in the silly hat? He kept a close eye out for his team, however, knowing that they'd find ways to contact him once they were all in place. Of course, with some of them, they'd be obvious even to him...
  6. North Bay September 22, 2011 While interstellar monsters weren't the specialty of anyone on the Liberty League these days, the new superteam was on high alert as the Gorgon's approach brought a dawning chaos the world. They'd only been back from Switzerland a few days, but those had been busy days for many of them between the Gorgon's coming, Edge's visit home, and of course various changes in Wander's general lifestyle. The wealthiest neighborhoods in town had so far avoided the panic beginning to gnaw at the poorer areas of the city, or at least that panic had been confined to the interiors of beautiful mansions rather than on the wide streets. North Bay, the home neighborhood of Ace Danger and the Midnights, had locally been the scene of one particular set of bizarre local disasters: localized thunderstorms had rocked the area for nearly 48 hours, flooding the streets, blowing tiles off roofs, and worst of all setting several homes ablaze as lightning strikes rocketed down from the sky in the middle of the 'North Bay storms' as the news was calling them. No one had died, yet, but several people had been hospitalized from electrical shock and at least one home, the Munoz manor near the waterfront, had burned to the ground with total loss of property. It couldn't be a coincidence, and so the new team had gathered together beneath Midnight Manor to discuss evidence and options.
  7. September 22, 2011 Wander, Midnight, Edge, Ace Danger, Bombshell, and Cannonade get a visit from that old-time Norse religion.
  8. Player Name: Davis Character Name: Edge Secret Identity: Mark Mason Lucas Age: 19 Power Level: 15 (234/250pp) [271] Trade-Offs: None Unspent PP: 16 Progress to Orichalcum: 180/180pp Click here for Edge's old sheet, used before August 21, 2011. Age: 19 Apparent Age: 19 Gender: Male Ethnicity: Caucasian Height: 6’0” Weight: 175 lbs Eyes: Blue Hair: Ash Blond Description: At eighteen years old, Mark Lucas is a charming, muscular young man with a chiseled jawline, ashy blond hair, a good tan, and perfect winning smile. He prefers open-collared, colorful dress shirts and slacks when he’s relaxing but of course wears the famous UNISON blue uniform and beret when he’s on duty as a UNISON agent. When visiting indigenous peoples, he wears their costumes as if he’d been born to them. His costume when in action as Edge is a merger of his UNISON uniform and Young Freedom costume; a white cape, blue and gold body suit, with the UN logo on the chest and goggles on his face. Personality and Motivation: Having been to the edge of the multiverse and back, Mark Lucas can deal with what life throws at him. He’s a sympathetic champion to people in need, a stalwart opponent of evil, a loyal friend, and always reliable in a crisis. He’s come through the fire and come out a sharper, stronger young man: he’s only 18, but he’s ready to meet the challenges of being an adult hero and agent of the United Nations. Backstory: Mark Lucas is heir to many legacies: the Golden Age legacy of Jimmy Lucas and his Genie, the Silver and Bronze Age stories of Rick Lucas, the sidekick and good buddy of the Centurion; and the leader of the Young Freedom team that faced down the Lord of the Terminus and lived to tell the tale. He’s a hero in his own right as well as scion of a proud heroic legacy in the Freedom City universe, though only a select few in Freedom City and Switzerland know that the heroic Edge is the same man as Mark Lucas. He’s survived more than most heroes do in a lifetime at the age of 18, which is probably why he was able to skip college and head straight into grownup work. He still worries about his mom in the wake of his father’s death, but Martha has recovered from her time as companion to the late Rick Lucas and has resumed her career as an artist for Andi Comics in Freedom City. He has his own life to worry about, anyway, and his own problems. These days, the recent Claremont graduate is an agent of UNISON, the United Nations organization charged with using superhuman power for the benefit of all mankind. It’s his dream job, one that lets him get out from under his family legacy while still working for the benefit of everyone in the world. Though Mark signed on to help fight world hunger, the most powerful super-being in the employ of the United Nations doesn’t have the luxury of spending his days just building houses for the poor and needy. UNISON has recognized the tremendous asset they hired on fresh out of high school, and they’re determined to make sure he gets used as he deserves. Again and again, he’s finding himself deployed to exotic areas of the world where the help they need is bad guys defeated rather than the humanitarian work he signed on to do. He’s the perfect UNISON agent, his native superpowers letting him operate freely (if in his disguise as Edge) even in places where UNISON agents aren’t authorized to carry weapons. Having superpowers is a tremendous responsibility, and even graduation and moving out of Freedom isn’t enough to keep him from living up to his duty to the world and to his friends. Luckily, he’s a true hero and able to roll with this as best he can. He works out of Geneva these days, but when Young Freedom calls (or any of his other old friends), he’s always ready and willing to answer even if it means a hop right back into Freedom City. But getting away from his family legacy may be harder than he expects. Some enemies never really go away, and some rivalries aren’t forgotten. Complications: Allies (former Young Freedom members, the Liberty League) Enemy (Nazis, the Terminus) Fire-Forged Friends (Cobalt Templar, Midnight, Sage, Wander) Legacy (The Lucas family, Young Freedom, the Liberty League) Reputation (UNISON agent, former Young Freedom member) Responsibility (Martha Lucas, UNISON agent) Secret (ID) Vice (Lovely Ladies) Abilities: 4+4+4+2+0+14=28 pp STR: 14 (+2) DEX: 14 (+2) CON: 14 (+2) INT: 12 (+1) WIS: 10 (+0) CHA: 24 (+7) Combat: 12 + 12 = 24 pp Initiative +6 Attack +6, +12 w/ Genie Magic Grapple +8, +30 w/ Move Object Defense +15 (+6 Base, +9 Dodge Focus), +3 Flat-Footed Knockback -6 Saves: 6+6+8=20 pp TOU: +15 (+2 Con, +3 Protection, +10 Defensive Roll) FORT: +8 (+2 Con, +6) REF: +8 (+2 Dex, +6) WILL: +8 (+0 Wis, +8) Skills: 80 r=20 pp Bluff 13 (+20) SM Diplomacy 13 (+20) SM Gather Information 13 (+20) SM Knowledge: Civics 4 (+5) Knowledge: History 9 (+10) Knowledge: Pop Culture 9 (+10) Languages 6 (Arabic, English [base], French, German, Grue, Lor, Russian) Medicine 5 (+5) Notice 5 (+5) SM Survival 3 (+3) Feats: 43 pp Attack Specialization (Genie Magic) 3 Beginner’s Luck Benefit (Security Clearance [uNISON]) Connected (UNISON) Defensive Roll 5 Dodge Focus 9 Evasion Fearless Improved Initiative Inspire 5 Interpose Luck 7 Quick Change Skill Mastery (Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Info, Notice) Ultimate Check (Genie Magic power checks) Uncanny Dodge (visual) Well-Informed Powers: 12 + 65 + 2 + 13 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 98 pp Enhanced Feats 4 (Ultimate Save 4 [Fortitude, Reflex, Toughness, Will]; Extras: Affects Others, Range 2 [Perception]) [12 pp] Genie Magic Array 30 (60 points, PFs: Alternate Power 3, Indirect 2) [65 pp] BE: Create Object 15 (Extra: Duration [Continuous/Lasting]; PFs: Innate, Precise, Selective, Subtle) {48/60} AP: Move Object 15 (Effective STR 75, Heavy Load: 384 tons; Extras: Damaging, Range [Perception]) {60/60} AP: Teleport 10 (1000 ft/Earth to Moon; Extras: Accurate, Affects Others, Area [burst], Selective) {60/60} AP: Transform 10 (1000 lbs, any inanimate to any inanimate; Extra: Duration [Continuous/Lasting]) {60/60} Immunity 2 (aging, despair effects) [2 pp] Luck Control 4 (cancel GM Fiat, cancel HP expenditure of others, give someone else HP, spend HP for someone else; PF: Subtle) [13 pp] Protection 3 [3 pp] Regeneration 1 (Resurrection 1/week; PFs: Persistent, Regrowth) [3 pp]   ATTACK RANGE SAVE EFFECT Unarmed Touch DC 17 Toughness (Staged) Damage (physical) Create Object Ranged DC 25 Reflex Trapped Move Object Perception Grapple Pinned/Bound (Grappling) Move Object Perception DC 30 Toughness (Staged) Damage (physical) (Crushing Pinned/Bound Subject) Move Object Ranged DC 30 Toughness (Staged) Damage (physical) (Thrown Object) Transform Ranged DC 20 Fortitude TransformedAbilities 28 + Combat 24 + Saves 20 + Skills 20 + Feats 43 + Powers 98 = 234/250 pp
  9. Ashton June 7, 2011 A couple of days after the Claremont kids finally had their graduation, the general word went out in the superheroic community that Richard Milhouse Lucas, the long-time sidekick to the Freedom League back in the 1960s and 1970s, had perished in the line of duty. Rick had been a difficult man for many of his old friends to get along with in the last few years as his bitterness towards the current generation of superheroes grew, but he'd stayed in touch with everyone and always been there when they needed help. He'd regularly played host to various parties and fundraisers for that generation of heroes as they got older, using the celebrity he'd gained from his time with the League and his best-selling series of 'men's super-adventure novels' to help his old friends who'd never gotten a dime from their work stay financially comfortable even in retirement. He'd gone into seclusion some months earlier, and hadn't been seen much sense. Only a select few heroes personally associated with the Freedom League and the upper tier at Claremont knew about Rick's descent into madness after his son's short-lived death; what he'd done to rewrite the world and how he'd nearly abandoned it in disgust before giving his life to keep Omega from attacking it again. All superheroes invited to the service were invited to come in full costume, while in lieu of flowers Rick's testament asked that they donate to his son's alma mater: Claremont Academy. And now that a long life had come to an end, if too early for those who'd loved him, it was a time for the memorial service Rick had requested: a memorial service was all they could have, since his body was now somewhere beneath what had once been another version of Freedom City cast deep into the Zero Zone. At the Lucas house, Mark was studying himself in his bedroom mirror as he adjusted his suit and tie, trying to keep his emotions in check. Downstairs, his mom was entertaining Duncan Summers and his daughter Jasmine, the headmaster and his daughter being the first to show up for the service despite it being some time away. For Mark's part, after some consideration, he'd sent invitations out to all his schoolfriends, even those who he knew had had little use for his father while he was alive. If they didn't show, that was fine: he trusted them enough to know they wouldn't disrupt what the moment was about. It was about family...and when he thought about Young Freedom, he decided with a nod to his reflection, that meant they belonged there too.
  10. Continued from >There Won't Be A Next Time June 1st, 2011. 8:05 AM   Young Freedom missed graduation, but then again, so did everyone else. The ceremony had been postponed the minute the five young heroes had disappeared from view, for all that they'd reappeared only five minutes later on the other side of town with the broken chestplate of Omega's armor and a wild story to tell. There were debriefings to come, no doubt extensive ones that would exhaustively pour over every detail of the fight at the end of reality and all that had come before it: the death of the multiverse, the trip to four worlds, the appearance and disappearance of Rick Lucas, and finally the seeming destruction of the Lord of Entropy himself. But first, Bolt's speedy trip back to Freedom Hall after the reappearance of Travis, Martha, and Erin's cat on the Claremont lawn had meant the League teleporters were already working. By the time the Young Freedom kids had given their hasty explanations to the startled Captain Thunder and headed inside for their debriefing, their missing loved ones, even Quo-Dis who was holding a very familiar orange cat, were waiting for them inside. For their part, Mark and Martha took a look at each other, Mark's look confirming what Martha had already known, and they simply embraced, the moment too sharp, too painful, coming after too much overwhelming emotion even for weeping. "I'm proud of you, Mark," Martha whispered fiercely. "So very proud."
  11. Continued from >The Earth Died Screaming   Earth-EZO1 was a stark world of grim horror and sere beauty. Redbird's fast flight over the western United States showed them a world of dead cities and empty ruins beneath. Most cities had burned by now in their long untended period; Boise, Denver, St. Louis, and the rest were shells of what they'd once been. Streets were clogged with the rusting shells of cars and debris, and even unburnt buildings had begun to sway and fall. They were, at least, too high up for any lingering smells from beneath, though most of those had faded with the years of quietude. On another day, they might have appreciated the natural beauty beneath: the Misssissippi free of man's pollution, trees growing where cities had once been, a herd of bison stampeding beneath them in Missouri, what distinctly looked like a lion watching them as they skipped through Appalachian peaks in the Carolinas. But there was no time for that now, not with where they were going. Undersea was all quiet darkness as Redbird, with Midnight's skilled hands on her handlebards, took them beneath the waves. The ocean was dead of people; the Atlantean genocide having been one of the first outbreaks of the hero flu, but here too there were fish at play and the sunlight passing through the waves. There was life here, if no human life, and a vast universe beyond them. This world was more than just a tool for saving all reality; Earth-EZO1, for all its horror, was a world worth saving too. As they passed under the water, lit only dimly by the glow of Redbird's lights and the shimmering blue of Corbin's cold fire, Mark looked around at all the faces of his friends, thinking about the people underneath the masks. Erin, Trevor, Corbin, Eve, and their new friend Red Falcon, who with his plasma rifle would be defending Redbird even if they all had to leave it behind. They'd all come so far, over so many years and so much time, and now they were about to face their greatest challenge yet. They were approaching the river now, Edge riding behind Sage in one compartment, Cobalt Templar and Red Falcon on another side, and Midnight grim and determined behind the wheel with Wander behind him. For just a second, Mark closed his eyes and saw his mother's face, then his father's. Goodbye, Mom. Goodbye, Dad. And then they were erupting out of the water and Freedom City was given over to the forces of Hell: grim Terminus towers rising where once the Pyramid Plaza had stood and on the site of where City Hall had been, the downtown of Freedom City transformed into a Terminus hellscape of firepits and belching machinery: and as Redbird roared towards the battered bulk of Freedom Hall, he saw the Omegadrones beneath look up. "Let's do this! For Freedom!"
  12. Continued from >Leaves from the Vine   Earth-Z-Omega-1 Edge froze in shock as the toppling tower came down right where he was! Unable to dodge in time, instead he stood his ground and fired back. "NO!" His eyes glowing black, he fired straight upwards as the reality of this dead world warped around him at his will. He would not die because of a falling building! Mark Lucas would not let this, or anything else, stop his friends in their efforts to save all of existence from the dark machinations of Omega! At his command, the falling debris broke around him like a tide breaking around a rock, the so-small clear zone around him the only island of sanity beneath the avalanche of falling steel, concrete, and glass. A falling brick bounced against his back, knocking him to his knees, but Mark did not fall as the collapsing debris fell around him, his powers warping the very air and very rocks to keep his friends from being buried by the avalanche, even if he wasn't able to save all of them from the damage produced by the collapsing Needle. Before he even focused on the aerial battle, he called out over the echoes of the collapse, "Young Freedom! Sound off!"
  13. Continued from >Familiar Faces   Earth C-Future-2 With just enough warning to grab what they needed, Young Freedom slipped from one world to another in the early morning light of a clear summer's day. Within moments, they found themselves in a new world: this time in suburban Kingston, right under the WELCOME TO KINGSTON sign installed just a few years ago by the City Council. Pulling his costume all the way on, Mark pushed his thoughts about his father out of his head and looked around. It looked like everyone was dressed and in costume, though no one had had much warning about getting their clothes on and ready to go. For a moment, he thought they'd somehow solved everything and gone back to their world: Kingston in 2035 didn't look that different. Sure, the car in the suburban garage they were next to looked electric and had the sleek, efficient lines of something from a science fiction movie or car company special showroom, and sure the billboard down the street was a shimmering spectacle of light. It took him a few moments to take in the black. Black banners were hanging on every house, each with a date emblazoned in silver: 6/21/2034: NEVER FORGET! Turning around, he gasped at the sight of Freedom City; shining towers rose high in a monument to futurity, but every single one was under repair, with the marks of devastation visible even from this distance to his inexpert eyes. What had happened here, and what were they rebuilding from? Before he could react to the grim monument in suburbia and the recovering city before them, suddenly there was a cascade of light in front of them on the green lawn and five superheroes formed up out of what was obviously a very advanced teleporter's beam. In the lead of the largely female group was a >tall brunette in white and blue, a pair of dice on her costume's chest showing snake eyes. Next to her was a >muscular young man in all black, long ribbons extending from the back of his head like a novel kind of cape, a familiar symbol on his chest. Next to him was a young woman >Corbin almost recognized, her face like the young woman he'd met who claimed to be his daughter, but with a costume subtly different, more like Quo-Dis' than anything else and cast in purple from the ring on her finger. In the rear were two older women; >one with green hair and a purple and black outfit, and behind her a gleaming metal battlesuit with waving metallic tentacles like a robotic octopus. The group eyed each other for a moment before the ring-bearing girl said, her serious look suddenly cracking to pain, "You'd...you'd better be who you look like!" "Stand down, Vril Knight," said the dice lady, giving her ally a serious look before looking at the others, shooting a wide-eyed glance at Erin and Mark before mastering her own facial expression. "I'm Lucky Strike. Welcome to 2035, Young Freedom. We've been briefed on why you're here and we've located your target. Please, remember that you're from the past of an alternate world." It sounded like she was talking to her own team as much as Young Freedom. "You can't...you can't change what you see here. This is Midnight, Vril Knight, Amaryllis, and Fusion. We're here to help you get to Freedom Hall safely." "Call me Psilent," replied 'Midnight', his voice raspy and dry, with just the faint hint of a French accent. "While he's here."
  14. Continued from >The End of the Beginning   Earth-M-Lucas-1 Young Freedom left the grim darkness of an Erde morning and found themselves beneath a blue, sunny sky. They were in a clean, well-maintained alley in what was clearly downtown Freedom City: the trashcans all had their lids, none of the windows were broken, and there was no sign of Nazis. Visible to their left was the Pyramid Plaza, the triple towers rising high against the clear morning sky, the American flag flying high overhead. For a moment, anyway, those of them not familiar with other dimensions could think they'd all gone home. That was, at least, until the black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am came roaring down the street opposite, and the first blasting sounds of funky disco came their way from its overpowered speakers. Outside, the streets of Freedom City looked to be pulled from the pages of the 1970s seen through a warped modern lens: men with elaborate mustaches and half-open shirts that showed off their hairy chests walked alongside ladies in brightly-colored wide-hemmed bell-bottoms, over their heads computerized billboards advertising a too-young Farrah Fawcett starring in the latest Michael Bay movie. The streets were certainly more diverse than they'd last seen, with muscular black men with magnificently coiffed hair in the company of ladies with impressive afros: indeed, from the lady speaker on the corner calling for equal rights for all men and women to the hippies playing in the park, it looked as if someone had gone around and collected as many oppressed minority groups as they could and dropped them on the funky streets of Freedom City. Suddenly, a startled exclamation came as a policeman walking by the alley spotted the quintet of dimension-lost heroes. In a hammy Irish stage accent that nonetheless sounded all too real, he exclaimed, "It's...it's...oh mother of Mary, it's Counter Freedom!" He took out his whistle and blew it as hard and loud as he could. "I knew you crazy criminals would be back one day!" he called, whipping out his gigantic belt radio as he backed away from the teens. "You just stay back! The Freedom League will set you whippersnappers right!"
  15. Continued from >Worn-Out Places   The black dots faded, leaving behind them an ominous natural darkness. They were all standing on a cracked concrete floor, the distant sound of rumbling machinery and gunfire echoing in their ears. The air was rank and still with the heat of summer, and the sound of scuttling rats was at least as loud as the noise outside. And inside they were: the room around them seemed to be a damp, ruined basement, with only the broken remnants of stone steps leading up to ground level. As the heroes walked closer to the steps, thin rays of moonlight stabbed through the edges of the ruined ceiling. The bits of rubble shifted and moved under their strides, stirring up full regiments of fleeing rats in their wake. It was Trevor who recognized where they were first, thanks both to his piercing gaze and a sudden, nagging familiarity with the room. They were in the basement of the Rothsteins, the elderly Jewish couple who lived in the same sprawling block of mansions as his grandfather, a convival enough bunch whose main virtue as neighbors was being too busy with their poodle-breeding hobby to worry much about their elderly chemist neighbor and his quiet grandson. Standing in the rubble of their home, looking fresh enough to have been destroyed just a few years ago, it wasn't hard to guess what had happened. For his part, Edge led the way: with a gesture from him there were new stone stairs to climb, and he was up pushing open the door to gaze out at the scene outside. And what a scene it was: three night-black helicopters were whizzing by overhead, making a beeline for the shape of a very familiar house, leading the way behind a half-dozen armored vehicles coming out of a darkened city with a broken skyline lit only by searchlights. The Nazis were out in force tonight, and they were heading straight for the Midnight Manor. The helicopters were going to be in range of the Manor in seconds...
  16. Continued from >Noise of Thunder   Mark felt first a whiteness, pure and all-embracing, then terrible, all-encompassing blackness, as if a quiet non-existence had been replaced with the certain knowledge of absolute destruction. And then he was waking up, his face pressed to an unfamiliar wooden surface that it took him a bizarre second to recognize: he was pressed against not the floor, but the far wall of his mother's art studio, surrounded by the furniture, art supplies, and his mother's scattered colored pencils that had all evidently taken a hard spin to the left at some point when the local gravity had taken a hard turn in the wrong direction. Pulling himself to his feet, he gazed around a room cast sideways and lit with an eerie red glow from outside. He counted off with his eyes: Wander, Midnight, Cobalt Templar, Sage, Trevor's grandfather, even his mother, all of them cast askew by the warped gravity just as the room's contents had been. Ignoring the shuttered window for a moment, not to mention of seeing the whole world swept away into nothingness, Mark focused right on Martha. "Mom? Are you all right? What happened?" He couldn't quite keep the judgement out of his voice; he'd had good reason to be angry with his parents for a long time now! For her part, Martha was dusting herself off. "Oh, Mark..." She embraced him. "I'm so sorry it happened like this, and that I left the way I did...but I saw you'd be all right and I had to spend what time I could with your father. I don't know if you can forgive me...but because we're all here, it was for a good cause." She let out a breath. "Your father is waiting for us in the study. For all of us. He'll explain everything."
  17. June 1, 2011 8 AM Mark stood in his dorm room, peering out the window at the junior students working to set up the stage, folding seats, banners, and other paraphernalia of a Claremont graduation. Mike had already moved his stuff out, leaving a hollow space on one side of the room. The Class of 2011 was just a couple of hours from graduation; he was just about to finish high school. He didn't feel quite as triumphant as he'd once thought he would. Maybe it was because he was alone; he'd have a few cousins in the crowd, but neither Rick nor Martha Lucas had made any sign of coming to their son's graduation. They'd made no sign at all of where they'd gone, just a month earlier, and made no sign of coming back. His parents were gone. And worse, it looked like he'd be going too: he was happy about the thought of working with UNISON, and loved the idea of going to Africa to work for people who needed the kind of help most superheroes couldn't give them. But it still meant going away from the city that had been his home his whole life, from the friends and extended family he'd known for so long. He checked his watch, then gathered up his bundle of graduation stuff (just so he wouldn't lose it), and decided to head upstairs to where at least one friend would probably be. He figured this was one night she probably hadn't spent at Trevor's. Amid the hustle and bustle of his fellow students getting ready for graduation, Mark knocked on Erin's door. How many more times am I going to do this?, he asked himself. Not many. No one I know will be living here soon! That thought was soothing enough to relax him, at least for the moment. He wasn't really good at dwelling on things for long, not even on a big day like this. They were all moving on, after all, and surely the always-prepared Erin had more in mind for the future than he did.
  18. February 1, 2011 Earth-Prime This is exactly where Young Freedom belongs. It's been raining for days now, what was once drizzles transforming into thick, heavy drops that come as part of a torrential downpour, turning what should have been a lovely flowering of spring into a cold, sopping wet bog. Exposed grass is wet and the earth beneath it muddy, and the city's levees have been shored up along the Wading River. All that wouldn't be so bad, except that's not just happening here. What was a joke for meteorologists last week has become all too serious today: it's raining everywhere. All through New Jersey, all through New York; across the East Coast and across America. The entire continental United States is under the biggest storm system anyone's ever seen, maybe ever heard of, and the rain is getting worse. The natural assumption, of course, is that culprit is the villainous Dr. Stratos, the wicked weather manipulator. The League is off dealing with that, leaving the city in the hands of its teen heroes. Edge stood by the levee, watching with worry as the river level slowly rose. He was doing all he could to keep the water level down, standing on the dam and draining away the water as it came in, a thousand improbable accidents sending the water cascading downriver and into the Atlantic, but he wasn't powerful enough to stop a storm this big: maybe no one was. Trusting that the rest of Young Freedom was busy, either helping with the sandbags or assisting the engineers reinforcing the seawall in other ways, Mark looked up to see the familiar shape of the Pegasus spaceplane dipping low through the storm, heading for nearby Freedom Hall. _Thank goodness!_ Edge thought. _The League is here!_ That was when a tremendous lightning bolt came ripping out of the storm, heralding a massive tornado that came roaring down after it, and before Edge could do anything, bolt and tornado both struck the plane, shattering it to a thousand pieces in a jagged-edged explosion that tore open a violent hole in the sky. As the engineers and volunteers around him started to panic, Edge threw up barriers in the sky, falling debris vanishing in circles of mist as the Pegasus came tumbling down, shouting to his teammates for help... --- February 1, 2011 Earth-No Designation (aka, 'Earth-Paragons') "Oh my freaking God!" As the League's plane broke into pieces and vanished, leaving behind a shimmering purple void that had to be provenance of paragon powers, Edge shouted in surprise as pieces of the falling plane began tumbling to earth all around him: he pushed his powers to the utmost to deflect them, sending showers of debris falling away from him, away from the hard-working engineers and volunteers below. It had been an awful few days as unprecedented weather disasters swept the nation, as rumors of terrible paragon powers unleashed began to terrify a frightened populace; he'd seen reports of lynchings in Texas and Arkansas, and televangelists speaking grimly of the End Times. It wasn't the end for Mark, but despite his best efforts, people around him were dying, even as the scream of the waterspout in the river filled his ears. It was all over in a few terrible seconds, and though he'd saved many people, he was surrounded by disaster! Whipping out his cellphone to call up the linked phones of his teammates, Mark yelled, "Listen, you guys! I need help in City Center right now!" Claremont's young paragons had been divided up through the city to help deal with the rising water, the better to promote their individual Q-ratings while each of them combatted the threatening disaster that was so baffling to both the Freedom League and the Vanguard alike, indeed, to all the scientists and supers working for the government. "The Pegasus just blew up!"
  19. November 2010 It was early November when all the members of Young Freedom, well, all the ones on campus regularly, were summoned to the headmaster's office. Though some arrived fearlessly and others with trepediation, all of them were met with Duncan Summers and a man who was a familiar face for all of them but especially familiar to those who had helped save his life. King M'Balla, the White Lion, had recovered entirely from his trip to the Lost World, and looked a charismatic, chiseled figure in a neatly-pressed suit. His voice was low and dignified as he greeted all the teens by name, his handshake firm without being bone-crushing. He had a very faint accent, but his English was otherwise perfect. "It is a pleasure to see all of you again, and some of you for the first time." He smiled, nodding to Midnight among others. "I am an old hand with super-teams. I know how quickly you come and go. I have come to America for two reasons. One to thank you again for coming to my defense earlier, and the second to invite you to Dakana as my guests." "Mmm." Summers folded his hands, looking up at the students as they found their seats. "The White Lion and I have arranged for the members of Young Freedom to spend the week before Thanksgiving in Dakana as guests of the King. This will be a working vacation," he added with a firm look at everyone, "one in which I will expect all of you to return with a report on your observations of the kingdom, but...it will be a vacation nonetheless, as you will be excused from all but ongoing assignments for that week. Are there any questions?" Mark raised his hand and M'Balla's eyebrows furrowed briefly before he said, "Yes, Mr. Lucas?" "Are we going to see Lion, the great and powerful spirit of the people, who empowers the line of kings as his champion? Or travel to Ayesha the Immortal's realm and battle the great enemy of the Lion clan, the immortal Egyptian princess who ever seeks a worthy man as match for her great and deathless realm as co-ruler?" "....no," said the king gently, wincing ever so slightly. "I prefer to fight my own battles, rather than send the sons of my old friends and their friends to fight my enemies for me. We will climb the slopes of Kilimanjaro, dig for daka crystals with our own hands, and see the world outside of Freedom for a little while. I can promise you all adventure, but danger will, inshallah, pass us all by this time."
  20. October 31st (Sunday) The Way It's Supposed To Be Think think think think. An explosion erupted from Edge's feet as the gas main underneath the street burst, waves of fire and flame bursting forth and incinerating the zombies around the Claremont trio in smoke and ash. Can't keep breaking the street forever, Mark thought a little desperately. I guess I can crush them one at a time if necessary. They'd teleported into the Fens, right in front of a heavily barricaded high school full of civilian refugees. Or even better, the bus! Flashes of black light came from Mark's hands, reaching out and grabbing the school bus, dropping it into the middle of the crowd of zombies and bouncing it back and forth like a bus. As the undead hordes growled and regrouped, a thought came to Mark. This isn't right. Wander was a wrecking machine with her blade, dispatching zombies almost faster than Mark could see, and just at the edge of his vision Midnight was doing something he couldn't quite follow with razor-edged bombs that tore through zombies like lightning strikes. The world shouldn't be like this. It was not a helpful thought under the circumstances, but as another zombie dragon (and where on Earth were THEY coming from?) swept in from above, it came to Mark again. Look at this! There are zombies everywhere, Wander is doing her scary killing machine thing, Midnight is...well, he's on edge about something besides the zombies, anyway! The light pole overhead came tumbling down on the front line of the horde, most of them exploding on contact with the power of electricity. (Mark hadn't done well in shop class.) My friends are upset, there's a flesh-eating horde on the loose...my dad is gone, my mom is upset all the time...the world isn't supposed to be like this! Unbidden, Mark thought about that false reflection of Freedom City his father had made. He reached back and hurled Erin at the zombie dragon overhead, the teen warrior appearing in a flash of black bubbles as she severed the great beast's head with a single swing of the blade he'd made for her. I bet this never happened there. I mean, people were really HAPPY! Was it so wrong if freedom was curtailed a little? There was a crash from beneath his feet, and the teen heroes gathered together again even as something began punching through the streets. Oh wow, an old-time subway car...full of zombie hobos. Aw, man! I'm almost sure this didn't happen there. Why should people have to trade THIS for getting freedom?As zombies exploded and split and squealed, Mark realized the mistake he'd been making. The same mistake Dad made too. You can't build a better world by turning back the clock to a time that's gone, even if you do think it was better. If you want to build a better world, you've got to go out and make it yourself. One step at a time. He blasted a wall of zombies, and they all had a moment's pause as silence fell and they realized this neighborhood was cleared out. The world shouldn't be like this. Monsters shouldn't be trying to scare and hurt people, thought Mark with a little nod. But you don't stop the bad guys by taking freedom away from everyone else. You stop the bad guys by...stopping the bad guys. You build a better world yourself, not by taking away the world people already have. And how do you do that? He looked at Erin, covered in zombie guts, and Trevor, catching his breath. You do it with your friends at your side, fighting for what's right. They'd had some differences between each other lately, but that was all forgotten in the heat of the moment. And we'll stop this, repair the city and help all the hurt people, fix things with my mom, and everything will be great! He realized Erin and Trevor were staring at him expectantly. "Oh, right. Yeah, we've still got twelve other neighborhoods to hit. Sorry, forgot. We're going now!" And in a flash of black, they were on the move again, and back into the fray. Maybe this world wasn't so bad after all.
  21. In our world, when his son and his friends rejected the Utopia he'd built, a grief-stricken Rick Lucas recognized the error of his ways and fled into the multiverse in shame. But in a world perilously close to this one, when his son and his allies attempted to overthrow the worldwide dictatorship he'd constructed in order to put the Lucas family in command of the world, a bitter, vengeful Rick Lucas fled into the multiverse to plot revenge on his wastrel son and his callow gang of hooligans at the Syndicate Academy Two Weeks After the Events of 'A Trip Between Two Worlds' Duncan Summers listened as a rather battered Psyche told her story, the young telepath recovering far better than most students would have after the experience she'd had. Erin's sudden nighttime assault had nearly killed the sleeping Alex, only Psyche's incredible mental speed letting her reach into Erin's mind and shut down her attacker. It had only taken him a few minutes of evaluation to confirm what Nurse Joy and Ms. Harcourt had already told him: this Erin White, with the blood under her fingernails and haggard face, even in psychically-induced sleep maintained by the best psychics at the school, was not the Erin White of their world. And that particular disease seemed to be catching. Luckily, the school was prepared for that. Though dopplegangers of Kid Cthulu, Rift, Midnight II, and Edge had all appeared in bursts of magical energy around campus, the new inter-universal security system that Mrs. Harcourt had installed in previous weeks had worked like a charm. Though the dopplegangers had unfortunately escaped from campus, he was completely confident that Young Freedom, the Alterni-Teens, and the Next-Gen would track down the warped, morally inverted doubles of his students. It's a good thing we're prepared for incursions, thought Summers, bending down to pet the unhappy cat curling his orange tail around the headmaster's cane. If we were oriented towards offense rather than defense, who knows how long they could have kept up the imposture? -- Mark Lucas rarely had particularly elaborate dreams. Indeed, usually he didn't remember anything about them. Tonight, though, his REM visions were exceptionally unsettling. He was confronted by a vision of his father: not the father he knew, but a grim, furious version of Rick Lucas with a goatee and eyepatch, wearing a black and red leather uniform as he confronted his son. His 'father' informed him that he and his friends were being tested, tested to see if good really was better than evil, if courage was a stronger talent than cleverness. He wasn't alone, he realized: Erin, Trevor, Blake, and Warren were all there too, each as paralyzed and mute as he was in the dreamscape! Before he could respond, he was suddenly plummeting into a deep black void... -- Mark woke up in bed, starting awake with a cry, and then nearly fell out of bed entirely when he realized he wasn't alone in his room. Or his bed. "Dreaming about that witch again?" asked Daisy Gibbons. The beautiful blonde prom queen yawned and stretched, giving Mark a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "Don't worry, Pathos and Assault aren't going to harsh your buzz today, not unless those Loonies get their heads handed to them ahead of schedule. Are you getting up?" "Uh...yes?" Mark looked around wildly, staying in control of himself by sheer force of will. Don't panic. Figure out what's going on. Daisy wasn't actually naked, thank God, but she was in a skimpy harem-girl outfit that didn't look like comfortable pajamas. She had scars on her body that looked new, some on her stomach and some on her back, where a large S-brand was clearly visible. A more thoughtful man might have panicked, but Mark was all about rolling with what was going on. "All right," allowed Daisy, her bare shoulders relaxing as she slid out of the king-sized bed and headed for the kitchen. When the hell did I get a kitchenette!?! thought Mark as Daisy went in, the door she opened showing that Mark and Mike's dorm room had been transformed into a suite as big as a luxury hotel's. "Bacon and eggs as usual, and..." She stuck her head back in the room and gave Mark a stare. "When did you shave off your beard?" she asked him. "I'm trying something new," Mark improvised as he sat up, trying to figure out where his pants were. Surely all this black leather couldn't be his. "Do you like it?" he asked her, giving her a half-smile. "I like anything you do," Daisy told him without hesitation, something behind her eyes closing off as she stuck her head back in the kitchen. Something in her eyes even got through to Mark, and he felt a little sick. Oh God, did I actually go to Hell this time? C'mon, none of it was illegal and everyone had fun! When Daisy was gone, Mark started looking for his clothes in a hurry, and his commlink to go with it. Last time he'd gone to Hell, his friends had come to rescue him. If that dream had been a reality...well, he owed them all his life already.
  22. As the sun began creeping over the horizon, Trevor Hunter was balanced on the gymnastic equipment on the Claremont campus, one booted foot perched on a balance beam while the other hovered in the air. His shirt hung nearby on a sawhorse next to an empty mug and his fedora as he remained perfectly still for a long moment before abruptly swinging down so that he was hanging upside down on by the same foot, hands shooting forward to grasp the next bean and vault him into an aerial somersault. Inwardly, he kept his mind studiously blank, concentrating solely on the exercise, the sheer physicality helping him achieve a crystalline clarity.
  23. It was the early morning hours at the hospital when Mark decided to give Erin on a call, sure on a whim that his friend would be awake and with time on her hands even this early in the semester. His mom had gone home, and he was the last family of his grandma's still over there. He couldn't just leave till he was sure she was okay, but he didn't want to be alone either. "Hey, Erin. It's me, Mark," he said unnecessarily. "Are you doing anything?"
  24. Earth-XX September 3, 2010 Trailing her usual aura of good feelings and cheerful optimism, Marcie Lucas walked through the halls of Clairemont Academy with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. For once she wasn't in uniform, either her Edge costume or the blue and gold of Clairemont's cheerleading squad; rather in a pink sweater and blue jeans that wouldn't have looked out of place on a girl her age back in the 1950s. Maybe her mother's disappearance a few months earlier had changed her life for the worse, but she wasn't going to let that get her down! Books under her arms, she headed into the nearly-empty science building. "Hey, Aaron!" she said with a cheerful wave as she caught sight of the hunky loner Aaron White, walking into the same corridor of the science wing that she was. Aaron wasn't exactly her type: she preferred guys like that hunky Zach Harris, even if he was a little too angry for her tastes, but she could see why so many of her friends secretly had the hots for the dimension-hopping powerhouse. He certainly filled out his uniform well! She ran after him, her Sketchers squeaking slightly on the tiled floor. "Are you taking the expanded physics class too? Isn't it cool that-" - Earth-Prime September 3, 2010 "...we can get out of the whole first semester of senior physics just by being here for a few experiments! I guess it's more important for us to learn about super-science than boring stuff like physics." Mark grinned at Erin as they headed inside. "Looks like we're here first." Ms. Harcourt was there to greet them both, nodding a polite hello. "Mr. Lucas, Ms. White! Nice to see both of you." She smiled. "I always appreciate volunteer assistants. I'll be especially glad to have someone here who's as resistant to trans-dimensional radiation as you are, Erin. Why don't the two of you get started setting up the equipment," she said, pointing to the large Y-frame set against one wall, "and I'll get the others going when they arrive."
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