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  1. Blackstone Prison is what allows the citizens of Freedom City to sleep at night. They know that all of the super villains Freedom City seems to attract are safely locked up inside the formidable walls of Blackstone. That security blanket was shattered as a large scale break out attempt larger than any since the Terminus Invasion began mere moments ago. The Blackguards were fighting valiantly, but it was only a matter of time before they were overrun. Prisoners were already making it to the surface, there only saving grace was that the least powerful of the villains were kept closest to the surface. The longer the prisoners went uncontained, the more likely the guards were to be overrun by Freedom's most wanted.
  2. Erik Espadas tugged uncomfortably at the collar of his dress shirt as his sister helped their mother wheel herself off of the bus and onto the sidewalk. "Is this really necessary?" he grumbled as the trio started off toward St. Stephens. "What, running around in tights makes you too good to go to church with your mother?" Gina Espadas countered from her wheelchair. A dark haired woman in her mid forties, she's made a point of maintaining her athletic build regardless of early retirement. Though her features weren't quite so angular as those of her two children, it was clear where they had inherited their mannerisms. Her son winced. "Jeez, Mamá, trying to keep somebody out of the loop on that, y'know?" The young swordsman was still adjusting to the new situation with his family and secret identity as Jack of all Blades. "Nobody's around to hear," Ellie countered, stifling a yawn and absently smoothing a crease in her black pants. "Everyone else is asleep at this hour." With her hair cut shorter and dyed dark, the resemblance to her mother was considerably more pronounced. "You'll live, dear," Gina opined wryly, easily rolling herself up the church's ramp. "Late nights," Erik stated, holding the broad door open for the ladies. "One more reason to rethink this 'sidekick' thing, hermanita." Ellie responded with a snort as the family entered the building. "That's 'partner', hotshot."
  3. 9:45 pm, March 12, 2010 The pops of pistol fire echoed over police band. "Requesting immediate support on Erin Drive! We are under attack by multiple unknown assailants!" More shots rang out, followed by a high-pitched squeal of pain. "Plants! The damn pl..." The channel went dead. "Rodriguez! Officer down!" Heavy breathing and running footsteps. "Officer down! Need EMS at..." A strange, wet splat echoed in the microphone. Silence. "Units 14 and 15, situation report. Officer Rodriguez, Officer Johns, please respond." All units be advised. Officers down. Shots fired in the vicinity of 315 Erin Drive, Lantern Hill. Units A14 and A15 on scene. Suspected meta-human activity. EMS, Fire and STAR en route. ---- Minutes earlier... A green meteor streaked across the misty skies of Freedom City. Long and needle-like, the falling star cut through the rain and twinkled as it neared the horizon. With a burst of green light, one thin, green line broke into five, showering Wharton Forest and northwestern Freedom City. The winds whipped up in protest. Deep in the heart of Wharton Forest, a small, twisted tree stirred. Leaves sprouted and the trunk bent to look at the sky. Glowing yellow eyes shined from deep within the foliage. A low rumble emanated from the branches themselves. Those of telepathic persuasion felt a dark signal creeping from the forest. My children, the Prophesy is at hand. Bring me the shards of the Green Star. Tonight we shall reclaim the city in the name of the Green!
  4. Earth-Prime The swashbuckling hero known as Jack of all Blades vaulted over the brick outcropping encircling the top of the decrepit building he was sprinting across, his royal blue greatcoat flaring open as he leaped through the gap to the next rooftop. The buildings in this part of town weren't tall enough for him to grapple between, but he found himself relishing the opportunity to return to his neglected parkour skills. Jack was following up on a series of increasingly frequent thefts from electronics stores in the West End and the surrounding city. Vince's digging had turned up a likely suspect, but the recently fired Professor Manning, despite allegations of instability from his previous employers, had an airtight alibi for each crime. A little too airtight, Jack mused as he paused briefly to perch like a gargoyle atop a streetlamp and observe the area. As good as Vince is, a little legwork was definitely the order of the day.
  5. Date: June 2010 Deep under the streets of Freedom City's West End, the swashbuckling hero known as Jack of all Blades finished stretching in the Underground's training room and began bouncing lightly up and down on the balls of his feet, eager to get his first lesson started. Rather than his traditional greatcoat and bandanna mask, the tanned young man wore loose-fitting workout clothes: black shorts and a white tank top that revealed layer of lithe muscle marred by the occasional faint scar. He'd told the rest of the team to show up similarly attired, but hadn't revealed anything else about his lesson plan. Looking up, the fencer nodded to Colt where the cowboy sat in the room's control center, visible through a large translucent panel in the far wall, then turned to look at a digital readout of the time as he wrapped his hands with a roll of tape.
  6. It was a solemn affair that was filling up Freedom Hall today, filled with the sort of mixed crowd that only a Freedom City gathering would engender. And this gathering was unusual even for Freedom City. There were a few Golden Agers left but those that were able to, were in attendance. Ace Danger, the newly redeemed Bombshell among others. Then there were also the heroes whose legacies stretched back to the era of the war who were here with relatives or on the behalf of relatives. Today, they celebrated the life time achievement on one of the Golden Age heroes on his hundredth birthday, the charming Spaniard El Fuego also known as Don Leon Montoya de Castille. Now, long since retired and with great grand children. Still the super-science that gave him his amazing abilities had helped preserve his body so he looked a remarkably fit seventy or so. Bombshell, aka Natalya Browning, like many of the veterans was in her dress uniform rather than black tie or costume. She wore the navy blues under a silver sash that stretched from her right shoulder down to her left hip, with several medals adorning the breast of the uniform. It wasn't about showing off. Actually, for the few who were able to read the blonde's body language under her careful facade, she was slightly uncomfortable in the outfit at this point in her life. However, showing up in anything less would have been disrespectful to a man she'd fought alongside so many years ago. The ceremony wasn't overly long and was much more informal than the appearance would suggest, with the old guard that remained going up to volunteer anecdotes and stories. In short order, the speeches were wrapped up and there was simply mingling and some dancing. The music, of course, was to the taste of the guest of honor, as after all - it was the celebration of his life.
  7. Several of Freedom City's heroic types received a large invitation slid under their door around the middle of June; the cards appeared to be handmade either by someone in their late teens or perhaps merely addicted to clip art, glitter and caffeinated soft drinks. Some people did not get hard copies at all, due to Lynn's unfamiliarity with their current living arrangements, but she still made sure the word got around.
  8. Natalya Browning, better known as the incomparable Bombshell, was still wondering how her erstwhile lover managed to talk her into things as she swung out across the city to the late-night meeting. She was still bemused by being on the side of the angels again as the Scarab put it, let alone going and talking to some newer heroes about 'mutual problems'. However, she'd agreed and so, here she was, swinging through the West End and looking for some address. It wasn't, of course, the actual head quarters, just a neutral meeting ground spot. Fortunately, she had a rather large amount of practice for finding buildings while no where near the street, so after a short search, Bombshell released the swing-line to flip through the air and perch on the edge of the roof. She stood up out of her crouch and stretched, stepping down onto the roof top proper.
  9. Mark Lucas was a lucky young man and well used to winning assorted contests but this was quite the prize, A day with Ace Danger. He arrived right on time traffic being surprisingly light, as he stepped from the cab a gorgeous blond called out, "Hold the cab." as she emerged from the main entry of One Pyramid Plaza, and hurried down the steps to slide gracefully into the back seat, "Thanks tiger." She said and blew the lucky young man a kiss. *** Upstairs Ace didn't know where it had all gone wrong. Well to be honest he knew it had gone wrong the instant he had invited Talya up for a nightcap, he really only had himself to blame for his current predicament. She had come to him though, and with information on a job she had turned down, hope springs eternal he supposed but she was unlikely to ever fully reform. The bonds were of course quite well tied, she was a professional after all. Not the best conditions under which to meet the scion of house Lucas but the boy was undoubtedly on his way. 'Well,' Thought Ace 'there could certainly be worse winners of that damnable Day with Ace Danger contest, given the circumstances.'
  10. The Liberty Dome was packed full of 80,000 hooting, hollering hockey fans, all eager to see the Freedom City Blades take on the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The shivering cold required of the frozen-over floor did nothing to dampen the spirits; there was too much at stake. Like most match-ups between teams representing the same geographical area, this David-vs-Goliath promised to be a grudge match of epic proportions. The Blades were an up-and-coming team of scrappy underdogs who'd managed to claw their way to the top in their first year as part of the NHL, and now they were butting heads against the veterans from their own backyard. Elena Guerrero had reserved a private luxury box, and now she sat inside with her old (older than anyone realized) friend, Rhodes Foundation C.E.O. Sofia Cruz, her husband Bob, and their three children, Alejandro, Emilia, and Esteban. Elena lounged in her seat, almost making it look like a monarch's throne, sipping her lattè and smiling as the children munched on their caramel corn and cheered the Blades on. "What do we say to Aunt Lena for getting us these great seats, mijos?" Bob admonished the kids. They turned to Elena and replied in a chorus "THAAANK YOU," then turned once more to the action down below. Sofia punched Elena playfully on the shoulder, "thinking out loud." So, tell me about this new ladyfriend of yours! Elena cleared her throat nervously. She's...more of an old friend, actually. We've sort of picked up where we left off. It's complicated. Sofia raised an eyebrow. That kind of "complicated?" Elena nodded, a stern look in her eyes. Sofia shook her head and sighed. Well, I hope you know what you're doing. And she must be a special lady if Elena Guerrero was willing to step down off the soapbox and drop $4,000 on a designer outfit just to impress her. Elena and Sofia both laughed. Bob glanced at them quizzically. "You two having another one of your 'telepathic conversations' over there?" Elena and Sofia turned to each other. If he only knew...
  11. (a week before the birth of Jack's son) West End was a good neighborhood, usually, but it had its dark spots. The shadow of the old waste recycling plant, closed a few years ago for urban renewal purposes, had left a block of empty warehouses along Miller Avenue. From the outside, the battered old brick industrial warhorse at 4686 looked just like plenty of the run-down former industrial warehouses in the area: windows covered or boarded up, brick and concrete walls covered with daring gang tags and the vandalism of neighborhood hoodlums. It was dark outside, and it was raining, the lightning overhead reflecting off the spattering drops in flash after flash of light. The rain was an obstacle, but the darkness of the night (and the broken streetlights) was nothing to Avenger's eyes. He had experience with people hiding secret facilities, after all. A faint light leaked out around the window coverings and fresh marks showed the doors had been opened recently. He'd learned from a contact in Freedom's medical business that 'they' were making max here, and in gigantic quantities. Jack hated the stuff. He hated the memories of the rush of addiction, he hated the feeling of false bravado, and he hated the memory of being a weak, helpless addict. He was going to break these people in two.
  12. The Brownstone. Saturday, April 10th 1:15pm Lynn paced back in forth in the living room, gnawing on a thumbnail. She really hoped her teammate wouldn't think ill of her for doing this, but you never knew with Jack's sometimes; the man was driven and extremely protective of his family, but she sincerely felt his sister 'Jill' might help her in dealing with her brother's many moods. Vince, bless his electronic heart, agreed to contact Jill through whatever mysterious channels he had to arrange for this meeting, and now that is was actually going to happen, the tiny shapeshifter was starting to regret it. "It'll be fine; if he asks, just tell him the truth, and he'll totally get it...right?" The faeling was barefoot in pair of navy blue sweats and a Fraggle Rock t-shirt, and had put on a fresh pot of coffee on in anticipation of the teenager's arrival.
  13. It took some doing, but if there was a student unaware of the end of the year party at the new AEON building, it wasn't for lack of trying. Now, while some students had... concerns over Alex being the entire decorating committee, when they arrived at the large ballroom near the top of the luxury building, those doubters were pleasantly surprised. The entire room was decked out in creams and dark blues, gold serving as the accent. It was both a nod to the school colors and an elegant color scheme for the high quality linens. There was a dance floor, of course, and a dj set up in the corner along with a small stage. In another corner, a photographer was set up to do professional photos. It was staffed with AEON personnell who had been gently coached to look the other way at any sudden displays of power. Alex had been over seeing the set up for much of the day, but she did vanish to her office to change and reappear shortly before the doors were scheduled to open. As tasteful as the ballroom was, it was no surprise that Alex was a bright spot of color in a dress that started in a butter yellow color at the neckline and slowly deepened to a deep red at the fluttering hem around her ankles. She was standing in the center of the dancefloor, looking up at the net of balloons attached to the vaulted ceiling, making certain that it wouldn't drop away early.
  14. Date: June 2010 The monthly Interceptors meeting had gone well enough, for all that no one on the team cared overmuch about the business side of things. What really mattered was that their financing was going well, their publicity was at an all-time high, and in the wake of the Grue invasion, things were going very well indeed for the defenders of West Freedom. Avenger had been bored through most of it, though he'd missed a couple of minutes to slip away and take calls from Phantom from that other dimension. Getting her and Jack Jr. out of the house but for their daily visits had been the right safety precaution after Dracula's attack, but it had given him free time: perhaps too much free time. You know what they say about idle hands... When he'd approached Dr. Archeville about testing the brownstone's security for him, he'd originally only planned to stay a couple of hours, but truthfully the sheer excitement of the moment had kept him around longer than he'd intended. It beat looking at a barely-used nursery. Wonder if that means he'll pay me more...or _less_? Truthfully, maybe lurking around the Casa del Interceptor for a whole day and a night had been a little unethical. For Avenger, at least, it was really hard to sort out what was and what wasn't the right thing to do when it came to matters of privacy and watching people at night while they slept. He decided to split the difference and just let them know. Don't need to tell them who I'm working for, I guess. Appearing in one of the empty seats at the table just as the meeting was wrapping up, Avenger waved. "Evening. Just popped in to let you know you need to fix your security systems. I'd recommend something that can monitor air movements."
  15. After the near disastrous encounter with Darkstar and Stesha Jack moved through the void for a short time to figure out where to look next. First thing he had to find out was exactly when it was. Luckily he had a good disguise that few to none would question shaking down informants for the 'word on the street'. Thus he stepped out of the void on the roof of a small apartment complex on the Westside of freedom looking for a likely target. His earlier encounter and relative inexperience with field work left him not putting his all into hiding but he cut an imposing figure where he lurked on the roof.
  16. Stepping smoothly out of the Pitchoo and onto the Claremont campus, Trevor was struck both by the genius of the airship's design and the absurdity of its aesthetics. At some point he was going to have to get Chris to introduce him to the craft's engineer, but for the time being, the brightly clad teenager seemed to be in a singular hurry, taking off again as soon as his passengers had disembarked. As the speck of green disappeared into the distance, Trevor regarded Eve out of the corner of his eye. --I believe we had a deal,-- he mentally sent to the telepath, the texture of his thoughts mild but steady.
  17. Once upon a time, before the end of the world, Erin White had been a much girlier girl. She'd had fun at sleepovers with her friends, giving and receiving makeovers and talking about boys. If everything hadn't gone careening off the rails, she would've gotten professional instructions from the Avon rep that Kathy's mom had booked for her birthday party, but even so, Erin could put on makeup without looking like a fool. But that had been in another lifetime, and she just didn't anymore. For a long time, there was absolutely no point in it, between one thing and another, and then, when she'd been released from quarantine and gotten used to being around girls who cared about their appearances, she had no money for that kind of thing. It was easier to pretend not to care and just make sure to keep her skin clean and avoid zits. Now, though, she had a job, sort of, and a scarily amazing dress, and she was going to a fancier party than anything she'd ever been invited to before. If there was ever a time, it was now. She wished Alex was around to help, but at the same time, doing it on her own protected her ego when she scoured clearance racks and tested what sort of products worked on super-resilient skin and hair. The curling iron and hair doo-dads she could borrow, at least. With Oliver watching encouragingly from the counter, she co-opted one of the girls' bathrooms on the day of the dance and spent literally most of the afternoon getting ready. Training and homework be damned, just this once. Maybe she had no chance of fitting in, but she wanted to at least look the part. All in all, she thought she did a fairly good job. After experimenting and deciding that she couldn't put her super-straight hair up in any sort of complicated arrangement by herself, she let it go and just curled the tendrils near her face, holding the rest back with a couple of sparkly rhinestone combs. The makeup was understated, it had to be with her pale skin, but it set off her lips and made her eyes look bigger and darker. She'd borrowed the shoes, too, strappy red heels that added inches to her height and a sway to her walk that she'd had to practice with a little. The dress, however, was doing most of the heavy lifting in the ensemble. Despite her concerns, Frank had done an amazing job on it, creating a calf-length showpiece in deep red charmeuse that clung as much as her costume did but somehow made her look a whole lot more feminine. He'd gone with a little more cleavage than she'd hoped, but not as much as she'd feared, so she figured they could call it even, since he'd also included the matching shorts and slit the skirt enough to let her work if she had to. Frank obviously knew his customers. The earrings and the necklace she'd found were rhinestones too, and people would probably notice at a shindig like this, but there was no help for that. They looked pretty. Oliver purred his approval as she looked at herself in front of the mirror one more time, getting up and stretching after his long stint playing moral support. "Wish me luck," she told him with a crooked smile. "I think I might be better off going into a war zone than doing this. But it'll be an adventure." Tucking her bat and her wallet into the little matching evening bag, she headed out to the common room to wait for Trevor.
  18. There was a little bit of a ruckus going on in a small corner of the West End. AEON, the company that Alex had founded, made a living off of buying failing companies and turning them back around. When you looked at the big picture, it kept the economy in the city and re-infused small business with the sudden influx of cash they needed to stay afloat. Sometimes, however, people took exception to the idea of a big cooperation buying out the 'little guy'. They were even less predisposed to like it when the whispers of 'freak Terminus baby' started up. Alex had gone out to take a look at one of the small business that the company was considering making an offering for. A few angry words and suddenly Alex found herself surrounded with the start of a small mob. It would have been child's play for her to take over their thoughts and direct them safely elsewhere but it wouldn't have done a great deal to convince them that she wasn't a threat once they realized they'd been emotionally manipulated. So instead she was sitting patiently inside the slightly sparkly construct of a force bubble, watching it be pelted with produce. Calling for help was out of the question as her friends would just be angry. Alex wasn't angry. Just sad as she watched a head of lettuce spatter harmlessly against the outside of the force bubble and wondered how long it would take for them to wind down.
  19. Date: June 2010 A few days before Avenger returned to the Interceptors' brownstone, the telephone rang at the Espadas apartment during one of those times Erik was there. Ellie picked it up and after a short, "Yes, he's here. May I say who's calling please?" exchange, handed the phone to her brother with an eyeroll. "For you." The voice on the other end was warm, friendly, and very familiar. "Hey, Erik. It's Jack. Taylor and I wanted to meet with you and make sure we had the ground rules in place for the game over the weekend. Are you busy now, or should we get together another time?"
  20. January 13th, 2010 8:03 pm (Continued from Interceptors: Liquid Therapy) Morena Colby was banging around her small kitchen, chopping up veggies and mixing up a batch of her famous spinich dip; away from work, she was barely recognizable in baggy cargo pants and a faded Phish tour shirt, her shoulder-length hair in a simple blue headband. She finished the dip, took a swig from her Corona, then yelled back over her shoulder into living room, where a TV blasted loudly. "Ma, I'm gonna have some people coming over, so I'm gonna be downstairs! I set the TiVo up to record Top Model!" There was no response, so she headed down into the basement, carrying the tray of snacks downstairs with her beer clutched in her free fingers. Her father had alwasy wanted to finish the basement, but he was killed before he ever had the chance. There was a full bar and half the walls were panelled, but then the panelling just stopped. It made her a little sad whenever she came down here, but it also reminded her of how important her work was for the force. Colby set the tray on the bar, hopped up on a stool and nursed her beer, waiting for her guests to arrive... Still wearing her civvy clothes, Lynn gave the house a quick once-over from across the street in the shadows: decent-sized, maybe a three-flat, on a quiet street in a working class neighborhood. "Okay, there is is; she said to head to the back door and ring the bell." She turned expectantly to her fellow teammates.
  21. The skies above Freedom roiled with dark grey clouds, distant thunder rumbling ominously. As the city's residents listened below, the booming grew louder and more distinct, and flashes of light appeared just above the stormy curtain. Suddenly, a sleek form burst through the clouds, the roar of engines and the ozone smell of heavy laser fire filtering down to the city streets. Long and narrow, with broad fins jutting from the rear at ninety degree angles, the gleaming vessel was soon joined by a second craft, made of darker materials and bristling with weapons. The pursuing spaceship fired, white-blue light arcing out from multiple points to strike the smaller ship. It shuddered, electricity surging across its surface, then began to plummet with dangerous speed. The ground shook as it crash landed just outside of Parkside, near Lantern Hill. It’s attack followed, hovering above its victim.
  22. Date: 10 May 2010 Eve stared out the darkly tinted windows at the main entrance to Claremont Academy, lost in thought, stomach knotted with emotion [Anxiety/Curiosity]. A week ago she was still home in Orléans, France packing for her transatlantic flight. Less than a week ago her brother Nicholas introduced her to a man named Duncan Summers. And now she was here. “Eve?†Eve frowned a moment, the sound of her name jarring her thoughts back to the present. “Eve?†She turned away from the window and glanced at the man sitting across from her. Blond hair, green eyes and an easy smile, Nicholas Martel was the brother she barely knew and yet she could see faint hint of concern etched on his face. --Yes Nick?— “You’re worrying again. Just relax, everything will be fine. Besides, Faith is here so you shouldn’t have any problems meeting people.†Nicholas’s words had the effect he was looking for as he felt the anxiety fade from Eve until only the sense of curiosity remained, which soon vanished as well as she brought her emotion under control. Nick smiled, and tapped a knuckle against the window glass, “Off you go, then. I’ll send someone by later with the rest of your clothing.†Eve sighed and stepped out of the car as her door was opened by the driver. Turning back to glance at her brother, she smiled. --Thank you for coming, Nick.— “Of course. Oh, tell Faith that dinner Sunday will be at my place, will you?†Eve nodded at Nicholas while accepting her bag that the driver retrieved from the trunk of the car. She smiled at the driver and inclined her head before settling the bag over her shoulder and striding off toward the Academy. She didn’t look back.
  23. ********** FIGHT 5 ********** It was time for the lightning round to commence. The up and coming speedster was set to take on his idol, who had actually been covertly keeping tabs on. Maybe Dynamo would join the Interceptors one day. But for now, Jack of All Blades and Dynamo would meet in the ring, a complete clash of characters was about to take place. Both liked to chew the scenery, but have vastly different methodologies. It was likely to be an intense fight.
  24. Chris had gone to the fledgling HQ he and Liz were constructing, just to make sure she was OK. But now it was evening, there were things he wanted to find out. Landing the Pitchoo in the Claremont grounds, he wandered out in his jeans and a t-shirt emblazoned with the Raven logo. He headed towards Duncan Summers' office, hoping that he was in. This is... going to be an odd conversation. But I need to get some questions answered, or I'll be kicking myself. Cautiously, he rapped on the door with his knuckles. "Sir, are you in there?"
  25. And then the kids were elsewhere. They were gone from the false reflection of Freedom Hall, standing instead on the lawn of the Lucas family house, standing among the rubble of the battlefield that had killed Mark just a few hours earlier. Except he was alive, standing there amid the group of teens, and Rick and a shell-shocked looking Martha were standing there just a few yards away. "Dad!" Mark broke from the crowd and ran to his father, just as Martha called her husband's name and ran to him. But even as they did so, the teens saw the black, inky shapes beginning to break away from Rick, flaring up into invisibility like rising soap bubbles as they left his body to flare upwards and vanish in the sky. "I'm sorry, I can't stay," he was apologizing over his family's pleas, arms around Mark and Martha both as he slowly, inexorably vanished elsewhere, some place beyond even James's dimensional vision. "The universe can't survive two reality warpers, not and let humanity keep its freedoms." He hugged Martha. "I'll see you again soon. I promise. I love you so much, heart of my heart..." He hugged Mark, his body now so thin as to be translucent. "I love you, Mark." He pulled back, on the edge of vanishing. "You've always been my hero, Mark! Always!" And with that, with a single, devastated cry from Mark's mother as she collapsed into her son's arms, Rick Lucas was gone.
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