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  1. Edge In Brief: All-powerful reality warper trying to keep the world together Alternate Identity: Mark Mason Lucas Identity: Public Birthplace: Freedom City Occupation: Humanitarian worker, superhero Affiliations: Liberty League, Nina al-Darsah, Lucas family legacy Family: Rick Lucas [father, dead], Martha Lucas [mother], Nina al-Darsah [fiancee] Age: 24 Gender: Male Ethnicity: White Height: 6'0" Weight: 165 lbs Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond Description: Tall, blond, and impeccably groomed without having to work at it, Mark Lucas looks like he just stepped out of Central Casting for a superhero - or maybe a future President. When he's working, he wears a black suit with blue dress shirt and gold tie that never seems to get dirty. When he's not working, he dresses down, preferring merchandise branded with Freedom City sports teams. He's a big Heroes fan - who isn't? History: A scion of a long line of superheroes dating back to the Golden Age of Freedom City, Mark Lucas's firm belief in the world of superheroes and their innate goodness would be annoying if he wasn't so nice. Luckily for him, those beliefs are mostly true in the sunny, optimistic World of Freedom. Having graduated high school, earned his college diploma by taking online classes, and incidentally saved the entire multiverse before he finished that first thing, these days Edge is one of the most powerful people on the planet - he spends most of his time traveling the world for his job with the United Nations, helping the poor and needy. He's recently abandoned the costume he's worn since high school for a more 'plainclothes' looking outfit, as part of the life changes that had come with his engagement to Nina al-Darsah. He has also recently gone public with his super-identity. He's still a loyal member of the Liberty League, though, with a deep respect for the legacy of Freedom City's superheroes. Personality and Motivation: Mark Lucas is sunny and amiable, determined to make everything better. Luckily he has the power to do just that - and the personality to talk people into just about anything. He's a trusting soul, though hard to lie to, and tends to assume the best from everybody. Even bad guys love their mamas and want a better world, they just don't know how to get there without some help. He very rarely gets angry - only when people he cares about are very sorely threatened. He loves his fiancee very much - and does plan to join her in Socotra when she becomes queen. Mark's biggest weakness is that deep down he does resent how the Freedom League treated his father's legacy in the wake of the events of House of L and Graduation Day (see the Guidebook for more information). Powers and Tactics: Mark would be the most frightening man in the world if he wasn't so amiable. As it is, in an actual fight he usually tries to talk down the person he's fighting with, boosting his teammates at the same time just by being around them. If forced to actually do battle himself, he'll generally turn opponents' weapons into something harmless, pin them down with debris or the results of other accidents, or simply strike them with a raw torrent of magical energy that takes the form of what looks like some natural phenomenon gone wild. The latter he only uses when sorely pressed - he genuinely wants to avoid a fight with all but the most terrible enemies. His powers tend to be showy and ostentatious, never subtle, and he'll usually throw up various created objects in the middle of the field as a way of distracting an opponent. Most of his professional life, he spends making and distributing things for poor people around the world. He is the most powerful superhuman in the employ of the United Nations - and definitely the most famous. -- Complications: Agent. Mark's duties as an agent of UNISON are generally mundane - he's usually posted to the poorest countries of the world to provide emergency aid and transportation to the people who need it most. But being a UNISON field agent, even one who is technically low-level support personnel, isn't the same thing as being a superhero - and one day they just might come into conflict. "But just in case... tell me the whole thing again, I wasn't listening." He really wasn't. Feel free to hand Mark, or his teammates, an HP if he missed some pertinent piece of information. Dethroner. When he was younger, Mark Lucas helped dethrone Omega, the Knight of Entropy and Lord of the Terminus. Cosmic beings, particularly those associated with the Terminus, will recognize this and act accordingly - whether to commend him, or target him. Mark knows deep down in his soul that the Terminus will come for him again; just as he knows equally well that the heroes will win that time too. Extremely loud and incredibly close. Mark's powers ARE NOT SUBTLE! Not only are they bright, noisy, and eye-catching to mundane spectators, they burn like a damn flashbang to magical senses. They can sense him coming a mile away - and they probably will not like it! Father. From sidekick, to ally, to support personnel, to adventurer, to cosmic world-warping threat, the career of Rick Lucas has defined Mark's life from before he was born. Rick is gone now, having given his life to save all of existence, but from a Freedom League that doesn't really trust the heir to the man that betrayed the world to villains who bitterly remember the wacky teenager's quips who so constantly humiliated them, his legacy lives on. God. Mark really is much more powerful than he should be by any reasonable understanding of magic. Djinn grandparents usually mean a lucky childhood or minor fire control abilities, not walking magical juggernauts capable of going toe-to-toe with the most powerful beings in Earth-Prime. Mark is vaguely aware of this, but willing to live with it - he's not one to brag unless he's super-stressed out. But that much power has a way of attracting attention... I am not a genie. Mark usually denies any relation to genies - but he actually is. Jimmy Lucas. World War II veteran, genie master, heart and soul (though not the brains, hahaha) of the first Liberty League, Jimmy Lucas was Mark Lucas's grandfather. Or so he'll tell you. Liberty League. The first Liberty League fought the Third Reich, the Empire of Japan, and then the Grue - the world-conquering threats that were the worst thing anyone had ever faced in the 1940s. The new League, and the members who fought against first Omega, then many more foes, may not get the glory they deserve - but at the end of the day, like as not they're the ones going to be there when the time travelers, or the entropic overlords, or world-eating cosmic threats show up. It's just in the job description. Mom. Martha Lucas is on her meds, back at work making Andi comics, and recently helped talk her publisher out of publishing a line of Freedom Zombie comics. Things are good. Nina. It started with Mark's desire to get to know the pretty princess with the strong personality, then it blossomed into something more. Mark and Nina have been cohabitating for about the past year now, taking advantage of her isolation from home to have the kind of relationship between equals she'd likely have been denied back in Socotra. But now that she's stepped away from her father, and that endgame they both knew was coming has gone away - things are changing between them. All that talk about morality and how a hero is supposed to act isn't just idle talk around the breakfast table anymore. Shenanigans. The GM should feel free to hand Edge an HP when the character is dared to do something or otherwise given an opportunity to do something unwise with the words "You're up for this." Upstairs. Mark doesn't have a lot going on up there. He's super-pretty, though! Women. Mark really does love his girlfriend, but he likes ladies of some kind too. Abilities: 2 + 4 + 14 + 10 + 2 + 14 = 36PP STR 12 (+1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 24 (+7) INT 10 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 24 (+7) Combat: 8 + 10 = 18PP Init: +2 ATK: +4 (+10 w/Move Object) DEF: +10 (+5 Dodge, +5 Base, +2 flat-footed) Grapple: +4/+24 w/Move Object Knockback: -10/-3 Saves: 1 + 6 + 7 = 14PP TOU: +20/+7 (+13 Force Field, +7 Con) FORT +8 (+7 Con, +1) REF +8 (+2 Dex, +6) WILL +8 (+1 Wis, +7) Skills: 72r=18PP Bluff 8 (+15) Concentration 7 (+8) Craft (Artistic) 10 (+10) Diplomacy 20 (+27) Knowledge (Popular Culture) 10 (+10) Knowledge (History) 10 (+10) Languages 3 (English [Base], Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish) Medicine 4 (+5) Feats: 59PP Beginner's Luck Benefit 1 (Status [Hey, It's Edge!]) Connected Distract (Diplomacy) Dodge Focus 5 Eidetic Memory Inspire 5 Jack of all Trades Luck 7 Sidekick 36 Powers: 5+ 16 + 3 + 14 + 2 + 12 + 54 = 105PP Device 1 (Archtech-brand smartphone, 5PP, Features 5 [Camera, Cellphone, Computer, GPS, Flashlight] Flaw: Easy to Lose, PF: Restricted [password]) [4PP] Enhanced Feats 4 (Ultimate Save 4 [Fortitude, Reflex, Toughness, Will]; Extras: Affects Others, Range 2 [Perception]) [16PP] Enhanced Feats 2 (Quick Change 2, Extra: Affects Others, Flaw: Action [Move], PF: Precise) [3PP] Force Field 13 (reality bending, PF: Subtle [magic senses]) [14PP] Immunity 2 (aging, despair effects) [2PP] Luck Control 4 (cancel GM Fiat, cancel HP expenditure of others, give someone else HP, spend HP for someone else) [12PP] Mark is Magic 25 (50PP, PFs: Alternate Powers 4) [54PP] BE: Damage 15 (Extras: Area [General, Burst], Selective, PFs: Indirect 3, Variable Descriptor 2 [any accident]) [50/50] AP: Create Object 15 (Extras: Duration [Continuous], PFs: Innate, Precise, Selective) [48/50] AP: Move Object 20 (Effective STR 100, Heavy Load: 12.5ktons, Extra: Damaging, Flaw: Duration [Concentration], PFs: Accurate 3, Affects Insubstantial 2, Indirect 3, Precise) [49/50] AP: Teleport 10 (1000 ft/Earth to Moon, Extras: Accurate [+1], Area [General, Burst], Selective, Flaw: Long Range Only, PFs: Progression 10 [100k lbs]) [50/50] AP: Transform 10 (inanimate to inanimate, 1000 lbs, Extras: Duration [Continuous], Flaw: Action [Full]) [50/50] DC Block ATTACK RANGE SAVE EFFECT Unarmed Touch DC 16 Tou Bruised/Injured Damage Touch DC 30 Tou Bruised/Injured Create Object Ranged DC 25 Reflex Caught Move Object Ranged DC 30 Tou Bruised/Injured Abilities (36) + Combat (18) + Saving Throws (14) + Skills (18) + Feats (59) + Powers (105) - Drawbacks (0) = 250/250 Power Points
  2. March 2018 UC-San Diego The UC-San Diego campus wasn't quite dead during spring break. They had far too many residential students, and students who lived on-campus, for that. But as Mark Lucas sat on the soft green grass of the Warren Mall, he mostly had the place to himself, minus a picnicking couple down the way and a guy doing his best to study despite the occasional gust of wind kicking up the pages of his textbook. He wasn't really paying attention, though. "I've been keeping an eye out and so have our friends, but so far there's been no sign of any assassins. I think maybe this was another empty threat. Listen, I promise I'll Skype you once we get there - yes, my phone has service in Dakana. I'm just waiting for my friend so I can give her a ride. Love you too, babe, and give the baby a kiss for me." Feeling sentimental, Mark hung up the phone and checked the West Coast time - did he had time to pop back over and see his wife and son before playing taxi for Tsunami? Probably not. With a sigh, he slipped his phone in his pocket and waited for his rendezvous.
  3. August 2, 2017 Freedom Medical Center Keeping things low-profile, as was the plan, meant that any image Mark had had of landing on the rooftop were quickly stifled by the reality of the need to look like any typical expectant family and friends arriving at the hospital late at night. Redbird dropped them off at the front doors and they headed inside, where the front desk attendant quickly directed them towards the secure elevator to the maternity ward. On the sixth floor. As the elevator ascended, an ominous rumble came from somewhere in the shaft - but Mark looked up and declared out loud, “No!” And with that, they continued to their destination, where as parents in labor but not particularly active labor, Mark and Nina were immediately handed a large pile of forms. Ready to walk around instead of wait, Nina handed them quickly to Mark. By the time they were about to head for their secure room, two visitors arrived. Iyar al-Iryani was the first of the extra guests to arrive, sweeping Nina up in a careful hug briefly stymied by another contraction. But Nina seemed to appreciate the company, and Iyar took her other hand. “Just think, Nina,” said Iyar with animation on her face. “Someday this day will be a holiday.” “You’re right,” said Nina, smiling at the thought. “This will be a good day - no, a great one.” “Thank you so much for all this,” Iyar said to Trevor and Erin, her accent notably thicker than her friend’s. “You will be remembered on this day.” She knew the Liberty League well enough to know who had planned all this. Exchanging a glance with Erin Trevor suggested, “Best left out of history books, maybe.” Having a commemorative plaque in their honor in some Socotran municipal park might be tough to explain down the line. Something reminiscent of a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth all the same. “Will settle for favourite American uncle.” Erin had stationed herself at the entrance to the elevator lobby, keeping an eye on the stairs and the banks of elevators all at once. She was close enough to hear the conversation, but far enough away from the action for comfort. Part of her job in the grand scheme of things had been screening content to show to Mark to keep him grounded in the reality of normal childbirth, and it had been… educational. Now that she was married and in her twenties, the idea of wanting children wasn’t nearly as foreign to Erin as it would’ve been even five years ago, but the getting of them was still a daunting proposition. “Yeah, aunt and uncle should work just fine.” “Oh, you guys…” Mark was close to tears, maybe because the moment was so emotional, maybe from fatigue, but Nina, still walking around, was articulate enough to say, “Thank you both so much. We owe you our lives, and so does our son, as soon as he makes his way out here…” Things got a little more complicated with the arrival of Martha Lucas, carrying a grandmother’s big bag of goodies over her shoulder and looking a little out of breath. Things weren’t exactly frosty between Mark’s mother and the rest of the Liberty League, but they weren’t quite friendly either - not with the lingering memories of what she’d done to Mark when he’d been in high school just before the barely-prevented end of the multiverse. But Mark had put those memories aside and obviously wanted his friends to do the same - especially today! Luckily they had this small suite of rooms and waiting room to themselves tonight - even in Freedom City, the metahuman wing of the hospital wasn’t so crowded in the dead of night when there wasn’t a major super-battle going on. Hot on Martha’s heels came Dr. Hussein, the Iraqi-born physician who was working as Nina’s primary ob-gyn. The hijab-wearing woman was no-nonsense and intimately familiar with all sorts of metahuman health issues, particularly maternal ones - she was exactly the kind of person Mark and Nina had been hoping to find. “All right, it’s time to go to work,” she said briskly. “Mother, let’s get you in your room - Father, we’re going to need you in just a few minutes…” Mark had been sitting his mother down and making sure she had her books and her sketchpad, now with Nina heading off to the delivery room, he found another moment for Erin and Trevor. “Okay, guys - I’ll keep you updated as much as I can. In another couple of hours, you’re going to meet my son!” He hugged Erin, and he hugged Trevor, and seemed to take a moment to gather himself, pushing aside his own nerves and jangling emotions for the support role he was going to play. “I’m gonna be a dad!” And with that, he headed off to join his wife in their hospital room! Nina and Mark had discussed their birth plan with Trevor and Erin ahead of time, just to make sure everyone knew what was what. Nina had intended to use an epidural and take her chances with a possible C-section, but strong painkillers and other sorts of sedatives usually made her powers unstable. That meant a natural birth, albeit one spent mostly in the tub full of warm water that Mark had practiced making until he could practically do it in his sleep. Since this was Nina’s first pregnancy, what that really meant for the people outside the delivery room was a lot of waiting as the hours of the late morning crept by into dawn, punctuated by occasional sounds from inside the room (mostly of Nina’s music, an Eritrean pop star she found soothing) and texted updates from Mark. Hours ticked by - not enough for it to actually be light outside but it was definitely thinking about it out there . Martha Lucas set aside the drawing of Mark and Nina she was working on and immediately dozed off in her chair. Iyar talked with Trevor and Erin about the refugee resettlement service where she volunteered - and then the lights flickered, just slightly, then again. Though they came back on, the effect was unsettling, especially when Erin and Trevor’s communicators both chimed with the fuzzy, static-heavy sound of Redbird’s voice. “<empora> <ncursio> <ospita>. <eav> <nterferenc>.”
  4. GM Disclaimer: this thread will have politically incorrect white 'nationalist' villains that get punched in the face. No one writing here agrees with the very few things these idiots will be spouting. DJ Eclectic's concert was in need of a venue and Moira loved the idea of live music. Especially when it helped the local talent out! So posters were plastered all over the city. Every pole had at least one. Friday, June 16th. 9PM. Morley's pub. West End. Free admission." Below that was in a smaller font was the address. Blow that in the same sized font was Two Drink Minimum. White Knight II (Aidan Miller) looked at the poster with a sigh, letting out some curse word when he saw the poster with DJ Eclectic's face on it. "Like why do they even let people like her even work here?" His bodyguard, Big Girl (Mary Forth), and his yes man, Southern Charm (George Kent), nodded in agreement. "I don't know about you two," Aidan said scratching his chin, "but maybe we should make an appearance." George beamed, "like our constituents did with the park play. We could reach a lot of people." Mary grinned and nodded silently. "So, all for one and one for all then," Aidan checked his watch, "we have about four hours. Let's go plan out speech." Later That Evening, 15 minutes before the show DJ Eclectic's crew was setting up the equipment, and there was quite a crowd coming to see her! Moira was tending bar. DJ Eclectic was tending to set up, rehearsing while doing a sound check. Spitfire was conversing with folks in the crowd, being part of the crowd himself.
  5. January 20, 2017 Port Regal "It's beautiful," said Mark, peering at the image Nina had found. "I love the lacework on the veil - and you've always looked good in white." Perhaps white wasn't the traditional color under the circumstances - but when he'd mentioned that the other day Nina had not been terribly happy with him. "I'll take you over as soon as we're done talking to everyone." Sitting next to his fiancee on their living room couch, he tried to keep his stomach from lurching with excitement as he remembered the purpose of the planned conversation. He'd kept Nina's secret because he loved her, but it had made January one of the hardest months of his life. "It's fine enough," agreed Nina, tabbing over to the page for her personal notebook.. Looking at the dresses had been Mark's idea - having found a satisfactory one, she'd already moved to the next step. "After I wear it, I can donate it to the Women's Center - Malikah's getting married this summer and she can alter it as she sees fit." The dress would do for their civic service in Freedom City in a month. For the wedding to come in Socotra's Great Mosque, when she would be her father's...overthrower, she would need something much more elaborate than this. Mark gave no sign that he followed Nina's thoughts, instead kissing her on the cheek and rising to his feet. "Okay, it's 10:30...I should start the frittata so it'll be ready when they get here." Only an hour and a half left! Mark and Nina lived in a gated seaside development - just the place for two Freedom City residents who had wanted a house and Mark headed into the kitchen. "Everything will be okay," he said aloud, stepping around the bookcase and firing up the oven. "We'll have them over, we'll feed them, we'll tell them we're getting married in February because we're going to have a baby. It'll be a surprise - but everything will be great."
  6. January 2017 FLSCH Library "Okay, everybody, that looks great!" The two hour lesson was almost over, and now Mark Lucas was moving from person to person in the small group of students, checking out how well they'd matched his painting. The famous hero, looking like a model in his dark suit and gold tie, had painted a scene of the Freedom City skyline and invited his small group of students to either try and emulate him or "paint whatever's inside you!" Somehow he hadn't gotten so much as a smudge of paint on him, even his artist's smock was nearly immaculate, as he studied everyone else's work. Some of the students had emulated his painting (with varying degrees of success), others had painted cities more familiar to their homeworld or dimension, and one really had gone her own way with an image of starry nights being overrun by "Hah-hah, well, that's pretty frank," he said cheerfully. "Probably don't want to let the kids see that one." When the lesson time was over, he said "Okay, we have to give the chapel back to Karen soon, but I'll be here to answer any questions you have about your work. Nice job, everyone," he complimented as his students started packing up their work. "Next time, I think Gabriel is coming in for singing lessons. It should be fun!"
  7. August 1, 2016 It was Puppet Day - and things were a mess. Despite the public service announcement by Johnny Rocket and Dr. Metropolis (the latter six inches tall and made of hovering brown and green felt) that the Freedom League was on the case, the mass transformation of close to a third of Freedom City's population (especially its superhumans) was causing chaos all over the city. There was plenty for heroes to do, large and small. - The Dakanan Consulate For all their substantial superpowers, Edge and Monsoon had been pressed into service for the moment as child-minders - an assembly of children between the ages of one and six, the dozen or so children having drawn an unlucky straw and had two parents turn into puppets. Though neither Mark or Nina had much experience with childcare, they had quickly moved into action. Mark kept bags of snacks and bottles of milk and juice full, while Nina's stories kept older children occupied. Those that weren't playing iPads, anyway. Freedom City kids were resilient. "And then, all the world was transformed into a strange medieval society! I myself became a marid, daughter of the king of the seas, wedded to a handsome prince from the jinn kingdoms! Only our friends-" "Are you and Mr. Mark married in real life?" asked one small girl with a head full of blonde curls and a curious expression on her face. "Ah, no, but-" "But he said you two live in the same house!" asked one little boy of about the same age. "Are you two brother and sister?" "No! But we will be married soon! Now, children, back to the tale..."
  8. September 2016 Lincoln Dancia had spent a week away from the office, covering a story about the new generation of West African nuns who were taking over an isolated Franciscan nunnery down on the Maurice River in southwestern New Jersey. it had been a fascinating story and a chance to meet people she might never have met, but the nunnery's remote location had left her isolated from world events. No sooner had she arrived back at the Ledger that she had a stack of urgent messages - including one from a familiar UNISON agent asking her to arrange a meeting with Triakosia at a remote cliffside lookout spot near Lonely Point. "This is an urgent meeting. Please let me know as soon as you've arranged it - and when we can see her there."
  9. Janurary 3, 2016. Freedom City. Southside. In front of the Main Terminal of Jordan International Airport. 10:00 AM. Francisca Rivera was nervous. She wasn’t late. That she knew. Therefore, the person she was here for was. She was UN Security, it was her first time in charge, and she was assigned to a high value target. UN diplomat Kenzie Zhang was one of the most accomplished negotiators in the world. Her work (and that of her subordinates) had kept Indonesia from tearing itself apart a few years ago. Not to mention her continuing work keeping North Korea from doing anything…drastic. She was the go to person when violence threatened Southeast and East Asia. Rivera was a little star struck, but she was a professional. That was not why she was nervous. Due to budget cuts, the UN hadn’t given her a full security team. This was not why she was nervous, either. She’d made do with worse. It was the replacement for her unsupplied agents. His name was Edge, and he was an American superhero who also worked for the UN. His presence by itself didn’t make her nervous. It was what it meant. The higher ups didn’t deploy supers lightly, especially since there weren’t many working for the UN. Something was going to happen, and it was going to be bad for her and her team. She’d expressed this to Edge, but he seemed rather unconcerned. She sighed. No help for it. Her team, limited as it was, had secured the area as best they could. Edge had brought a partner, and she had lent on a hand on that front. There was nothing left to do but wait for Ms. Zhang to come out. Her current security team was even more shorthanded than Rivera’s, and had been on the clock almost 24/7 for the past three days. Rivera just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Her name was Brigitte. Today she had curly blonde hair (a wig) and blue eyes (contacts). She’d been training for this ever since she could remember. She was the fifth graduate of Project Stardust, and justifiably proud of graduating earlier than the other four. This was her first assignment. The director was right. People looked at her differently. They didn’t see her as a threat. Nobody looked at her twice as she was scouting for a good spot to take the shot. But she’d found a good spot, and squeezed into it. The cameras didn’t see her approach. Her escape route was clear. The only thing left was to wait for her target, line up the scope as she’d been trained, and pull the trigger. But her target was late. It made Brigitte uneasy. Maybe something was wrong. Had one or both of the other two been captured? Should she run? Was it already too late to run? She looked around through her scope. No, everything was fine. Her target was just delayed. That happened to planes sometimes. She munched a few small cookies and waited.
  10. This is the OOC. Feel free to ask me quite literally anything about the thread, especially if it doesn't make sense. I've likely missed something. As for the airport...it's the airport. Nothing special there. If you want to name Rivera's team members, you go for it. She has five, when normally she'd have a bit more than that. She's PL6, and her team is PL5. Brigitte's Stealth check with Skill Mastery means both Mark and Nina would have to roll 20s to spot her, if either knew she was there to begin with. The plan is, as discussed in chat, for Nina to intervene at the last second and prevent the assassination. My second post will have Ms. Zhang's arrival and Brigitte pulling the trigger. And then things'll get rolling properly.
  11. London, England Thursday April 28, 2016 1:42 PM local time The Ministry of Powers Foreshadow and Ms. Britannia sat in the conference room with Dame Pennington, the current head of the Ministry and one of her analysts. A hologram of Synapse filled one of the conference room chairs, as Synapse was teleconferencing in from the Haven, where she had been in the middle of some projects with VERA. A large screen on one wall of the conference room showed video images from six different incidents over the previous six days, mostly from different parts of the world. "As you can see, there have been multiple incidents in the past six days, all related to the biblical plagues that God is supposed to have visited on Egypt when Moses was freeing the Israelites. Twice in Freedom City, one in Rhodes Island, Washington DC, northern Mexico, and Palermo, Sicily." Dame Pennington stated as the security camera or news footage showed the scenes of the various plagues and the assorted superheroes that appeared to deal with them. "While each of the attacks are clearly connected given their themes, no one has yet been able to determine how the particular locations were chosen as targets. If whomever is behind this continues to follow the theme set out in Exodus, then there could be four more plagues to come. The only question is where they will strike." Department for International Development, 22 Whitehall London Prince Tau Abioye-Imari made his way out of one of the large conferences rooms in the Department for International Development in downtown London, chatting with ministers from Kenya and Tanzania. The meeting had been to discuss some of the DfiD's current projects in some of the poorer countries along the African Horn, projects that involved support by several of the more stable nations in the region. "Will you be returning home to Bangallan soon Prince Tau?" Asked the Kenyan minister as the three made their way down the hallway toward the elevators. Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel, Westminster A butler led Mark Lucas through the lavish entryway of the Cinema Suite of the expensive London hotel. Inspired by the era of the 40's and 50's, the suite was a blend of elements inspired by both Hollywood and Indian cinema. Just off the entry was a large study, filled with priceless antique furniture and other collectibles. Seated on one of the sofas, was Thane al-Darsah, one of Nina's exiled older brothers. Trafalgar Square Jennifer Owens emerged from the Charing Cross Underground Station right to the edge of Trafalgar Square. The young woman had spent the morning at a business meeting at 30 St. Mary Axe or the Gherkin, in the City of London. With that done, she had the afternoon to spend some time taking in some of the city's many sights.
  12. PL: 12 (180) Abilities: 8 + 8 + 8 + 4 + 6 + 4 = 38PP STR 22/18 (+6/+4) DEX 18 (+4) CON 18 (+4) INT 14 (+2) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 14 (+2) Combat: 12 + 12 = 24PP Init: +4 ATK: +6 (+10 Melee/+14 Noahic) [+8 (+12 Melee/+16 Noahic in suit)] DEF: +12 (+6 Dodge Focus, +6 Base, +3 Flat-Footed) Grapple: +14/+12 w/Noahic [+16/+18/+14 w/Noahic in suit]) Knockback: -12/-6/-4 Saves: 3 + 3 + 4 = 10PP TOU +12/+8 (+4 Con, +4 Protection, +4 Protection [Suit]) FORT +12/+7 (+4 Con, +3, +5 Suit) REF +12/+7 (+4 Con, +3, +5 Suit) WILL +12/+7 (+3 Wis, +4, +5 Suit) Skills: 68 r = 17PP Acrobatics 6 (+10, SM) Bluff 15 (+17, SM) Diplomacy 6 (+8) Intimidate 6 (+8) Languages 3 (Arabic, English, Farsi, [Base] Soqotri) Knowledge (History) 4 (+6) Notice 12 (+15, SM) Sense Motive 12 (+15, SM) Stealth 2 (+6) Feats: 23PP Acrobatic Bluff Attack Focus: Melee 4 Challenge 2 (Fast Feint, Fast Taunt) Dodge Focus 6 Environmental Adaptation (Underwater) Evasion Fearless Quick Draw Second Chance (Will Saves vs. Mind Control) Skill Mastery (Acrobatics, Bluff, Notice, Sense Motive) Startle Takedown Attack Taunt Uncanny Dodge (auditory) Powers: 7 + 30 + 3 + 5 + 17 + 4 + 2 = 68PP Device 2 (Farida's Scimitar, Flaw: Easy to Lose, PF: Indestructible) [7PP] Damage 6 (PFs: Affects Insubstantial 2, Improved Crit, Mighty) [10DP] Device 7 (35PP, Monsoon's Armor, Flaw: Hard to Lose, PFs: Restricted 2 [Monsoon]) [30PP] Enhanced ATK 2 (to ATK +8) [4DP] Enhanced Noahic Array 0 (PF: Alternate Power 1) [1PP] BE: Impervious Toughess 12 (hydrokinetic stiffening) {12/12} Enhanced Saves 15 (Fortitude 5, Reflex 5, Will 5) [15DP] Enhanced Strength 4 (to STR 22/+6) [4DP] Immunity 6 (cold, disease, heat, radiation, poison, suffocation [Buys Off Flaw]) [6DP] Protection 4 [4DP] Super-Senses 1 (Danger Sense [radio]) [1DP] 4 + 1 + 15 + 4 + 6 + 4 + 1 = 35/35 Immunity 3 (cold, drowning, high pressure) [3PP] Movement Array 2 (4PP, PF: Alternate Power 1) [5PP] Flight 2 (25 MPH/250FPM) [4PP] BE: Swimming 4 (25MPH/250FPM) {4/4} Noahic Array 6 (12PP, PFs: Accurate 4, Alternate Powers 1) [17PP] BE: Move Object 6 (Effective STR 30, Heavy Load 1200 lbs, Extra: Damaging, Flaw: Duration [Concentration]) [12/12] AP: Move Object 6 (Effective STR 30, Heavy Load 1200 lbs, Extra: Area [Burst], Flaw: Range [Touch]) [12/12] Protection 4 [4PP] Super-Senses 2 (Darkvision) [2PP] costs abilities 38 + combat 32 + saves 10 + skills 17/68 + feats 17 + powers 68 = 180 The sword! This impressive blade once belonged to Nina's older brother Farida before she won it from him in fair combat. Made of meteoric iron found in the Arabian Peninsula, he had its edge lined with nigh-monotatomic computronium in the wake of the Incursion. A small sample of water preserved in the hilt means Nina can manipulate it with her hydrokinetic abilities. The armor! This blue and white armor, accessorized with gold cape and cowl, bears a striking but not complete resemblance to the body armor typically worn by Typhoon. A watery gel inside the armored shell provides a cushion against impact - and something for Nina to manipulate inside the armor. It has a fairly limited internal 'environment', being a product of the Socotran exile community rather than more advanced super-science, but it does give Nina a self-contained internal environment. PL: 15 (250) Abilities: 2 + 4 + 14 + 10 + 2 + 14 = 36PP STR 12 (+1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 24 (+7) INT 10 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 24 (+7) Combat: 8 + 10 = 18PP Init: +2 ATK: +4 (+10 w/Move Object) DEF: +10 (+5 Dodge, +5 Base, +2 flat-footed) Grapple: +4/+24 w/Move Object Knockback: -10/-3 Saves: 1 + 6 + 7 = 14PP TOU: +20/+7 (+13 Protection, +7 Con) FORT +8 (+7 Con, +1) REF +8 (+2 Dex, +6) WILL +8 (+1 Wis, +7) Skills: 72r=18PP Bluff 8 (+15) Concentration 7 (+8) Craft (Artistic) 10 (+10) Diplomacy 20 (+27) Knowledge (Popular Culture) 10 (+10) Knowledge (History) 10 (+10) Languages 3 (English [Base], Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish) Medicine 4 (+5) Feats: 60PP Beginner's Luck Benefit 1 (Status [Hey, It's Edge!]) Connected Distract (Diplomacy) Dodge Focus 5 Eidetic Memory Inspire 5 Jack of all Trades Luck 7 Sidekick 36 Powers: 16 + 3 + 14 + 2 + 12 + 54 = 105PP Enhanced Feats 4 (Ultimate Save 4 [Fortitude, Reflex, Toughness, Will]; Extras: Affects Others, Range 2 [Perception]) [16PP] Enhanced Feats 2 (Quick Change 2, Extra: Affects Others, Flaw: Action [Move], PF: Precise) [3PP] Protection 13 (PF: Selective) [14PP] Immunity 2 (aging, despair effects) [2PP] Luck Control 4 (cancel GM Fiat, cancel HP expenditure of others, give someone else HP, spend HP for someone else) [12PP] Mark is Magic 25 (50PP, PFs: Alternate Powers 4) [54PP] BE: Damage 15 (Extras: Area [General, Burst], Selective, PFs: Indirect 3, Variable Descriptor 2 [any accident]) [50/50] AP: Create Object 15 (Extras: Duration [Continous], PFs: Innate, Precise, Selective) [48/50] AP: Move Object 20 (Effective STR 100, Heavy Load: 12.5ktons, Extra: Damaging, Flaw: Duration [Concentration], PFs: Accurate 3, Affects Insubstantial 2, Indirect 3, Precise) [49/50] AP: Teleport 10 (1000 ft/Earth to Moon, Extras: Accurate [+1], Area [General, Burst], Selective, Flaw: Long Range Only, PFs: Progression 10 [100k lbs]) [50/50] AP: Transform 10 (inanimate to inanimate, 1000 lbs, Extras: Duration [Continous], Flaw: Action [Full]) [50/50] costs abilities 36 + combat 18 + saves 14 + skills 18/72 + feats 60 + powers 105 = 250 pts
  13. April 2016 Mark and Nina's house Near Freedom City Mark caught the look on Nina's face and closed the box - and suddenly realized he'd always associate the smell of tsebhi and taita with this moment. "Or, hm, I can just put this somewhere-" He was pulling the velvet box off the table, ready to put it into his pocket and banish it to some far-off place, when Nina put her hand on his, meeting his gaze imploringly. "What would our lives be like if I was your wife?" She asked him, with the air of a woman who knew the answer to the question before she asked it, but Mark was too honest to tell her anything other than what he'd been thinking. "We'd live in the house - keep the apartment in Geneva. We'd go on working for the UN, and keep trying to make things better for Socotra. Maybe in a few years we'd have kids, when we're both ready-" He fell silent again, the intense look on Nina's face taking his words. "Mark, listen to me." Nina squeezed his hand with both of hers, then reached up and stroked his face. "I love you. And I want to be with you. You don't realize the kind of man you are. But I don't want to spend the rest of my life living in this place." Mark looked around the kitchen and said, a little hesitantly, "Well, babe, I can probably make more gold and get us a bigger place if you want-" "It's not that." Nina chewed her lip in a way that Mark always thought was very pretty but that now wasn't the time to dwell on it, "Mark, I miss Socotra. I miss being able to talk to people without having to translate every word in my head before I say it. I miss the food, and the art, the music, the sky that's always so blue-" Mark interrupted her, his heart pounding in his chest, visions of a future he didn't like at all flashing before him. "What about Iyar and the other people you and Trevor rescued? That's half the people you grew up with right there!" "That's not the same thing, Mark!" Nina fired back at him, the water sloshing in their glasses as she struck her hand against the table. "Mark, you have spent your life being tall, and blond, and looking like someone put your name next to American in the dictionary. You can tell me inshallah on the telephone without being stared at by ignorant peasants. You can fly on airplanes and dress however you want without worrying that some fat American tourist is going to tell a hideous old German flight attendant that you 'look suspicious' and find yourself having to call your boyfriend so you can cross an international border!" The incident, as they called it, hadn't gotten any better even over a year later. And why would it, really? The intervention of the most powerful superhuman in Europe had gotten an apology from Lufthansa - and only made Nina angrier at her place in the world. Mark stared at her, his face going hot for a moment. "Babe, if you want us to move out of Freedom City, we can do that. I speak like four languages, and I can just pop in here for Liberty League stuff and emergencies. Hell, my mom is more than ready to move now that she's retired. But where do you want us to go?" Nina took a breath - and after years of thinking, and months of planning, spoke. "Mark...I want to marry you. I want you to be my husband. In the name of God, I even want to have children with you - can you imagine what they'll be like?" She smiled, quickly, a habit she'd picked up from him. "But I want to marry you in the Grand Mosque of Socotra - as its Queen." She reached across the table, past the supper Mark had made for her, and took his hands again. "You know that my father's rule has to end. And that the people of Socotra need a leader." "I do," said Mark, his voice tight. "But why does it have to be you? You were the one who told me what a monster your father was for pitting you and your siblings against each other! Treating your lives like a game!" "Because it is my duty to rule. I spent my life at the top of a very small pyramid. living off the work, the toil, the blood, of other people. They deserve something more than me running away to America to be a superhero. They deserve someone who can lead them out of the darkness. And I don't think I can do that without you, Mark. And that's not because of what you do with your power - it's because of what you _don't_ do with your power. I need you to be my partner on this - so I can be your partner in the other things." "...all right. All right." Mark rose to his feet and walked away, standing and looking out the sliding glass window of the living room, out at the wine-dark sea. Nina came up behind him, putting her hand on the small of his back. Mark thought of himself, a good half-foot-taller than most of the Socotrans he'd met, and almost a whole foot taller than Nina. "Okay. But I'm not giving up my job. Either of them," he turned and looked down at her. "And I'm not going to lie to an imam, so you need to figure out what to tell them about why I'm getting married in a mosque." "It'll be all right," Nina assured him, rising up on her tiptoes to kiss his mouth. "After all - they'll work for me." They kissed again - long and deep, and didn't talk about politics for a while. The next morning, Nina put on the ring.
  14. Late April 2016 "May today be the beginning of a long and wonderful life together - and may they be as happy together as we are happy for them, now and forever." Mark thought for a moment, then sighed, setting his pencil and paper down on the beach beside him. The beach was virtually empty right now thanks to a freak cold snap and the early hour - perfect for a little quiet time. As much fun as Trevor's bachelor party had been, it had reminded him that he needed to make sure he had a good wedding toast in mind before the party rather than after it. I don't want to just wing it for Erin and Trevor's big day - but it's so hard to think of what to say instead of just making it up as I go along! He was starting to think the best thing to do would be to sketch out his ideas then just make up the words to go with them once he was up there in front of everybody. And then the sea opened up. Well, not really - but suddenly the shallow surf in front of him rose up in a tower shaped roughly like a man's body, then the water fell away and a figure strode out, smiling at Mark as she walked out onto the sand to join him. He was pretty sure this was a she, anyway, from the shape of the body underneath what looked like an impeccably tailored tuxedo - but the man's outfit and very short black hair were a clue in the other direction. Shaking his head and deciding that gender was maybe not the thing to worry about now, Mark gave a friendly wave. "Hello! I don't think we've met! Do you want to sit down?" "Certainly," said the figure, sitting down and folding athletic, well-toned legs underneath a trimly fit body, evidently heedless of what the sand might do to those impeccably tailored slacks. The water had done no damage to the outfit, though, with nary a trace of moisture on those clothes. the new arrival looked him over, a faint smile on what really was a very pretty face. "You're looking well, Father." Mark actually dropped his pencil at those words, before reaching down and scooping it up again off his lap as he continued the conversation. "I...Clara?" He inquired, giving this person a fixed stare. This didn't look anything like the extra-dimensional daughter he'd had with Erin in a very different life - short, with dark hair and tan skin, this person looked more like the hypothetical kid he might have with..."Nina," he murmured out loud. His future child laughed. "No, I'm-well, I'd better not tell you! I learned from Troy about the problem with letting your parents know your name before you're born. My friends call me Gale. This is April 2016, isn't it? Just before Aunt Erin and Uncle Trevor's wedding?" As they talked, Gale ran a gloved hand through the beach and looked down at the sand that adhered to the white fabric with fascination. "And this must be the beach by the old house." Gale nodded up the bluff, where Mark and Nina's house (for now) rested along with the other cottages in their little seaside development. "Yes..." Mark cocked his head. "Are you here for the wedding? I can probably get you a good seat, and-oh man, wait till I tell everyone you're here! Everyone's going to be so excited to know about the future!" He was ready to bound to his feet, run into the house to where Nina was sleeping off her hangover after the bachelorette party, and tell her that their child was there on the bbeach. "No, no!" said Gale, shaking that gloved hand urgently. "No one can know I was here. You never told anyone, you never even told _me_, until it was time for me to come back here. Sit down, Father, sit down." Reluctantly, Mark did so, his curiosity still writ large on his face, and Gale spoke. "I'm here to tell you that the next few weeks will be...difficult ones. The world will survive it, as it always has, but there will be a...crisis, for a time. And no, I can't tell you what it will be," Gale went on, that musical voice ringing sharp, "because that would create a new timeline - and spoil the purpose for why I came back." "Which was?" As he spoke, Mark's pencil was moving over his notebook - already sketching the outlines of his child's face, body, and costume on the spring morning beach. "You must make sure that Uncle Trevor and Aunt Erin have no interruptions on their honeymoon. They must go to Australia and have a perfectly lovely time there - and you must make sure their time is lovely. That does not mean you should visit them, either," Gale added, pointing a finger at him. "You must make sure that no one interferes with their destiny. I have a - personal stake in the matter." "...all right," said Mark, thinking about Gale's words, and how he could put them into action. "I'll make sure nothing ruins their honeymoon - even if there are problems in the world. Are you sure you can't tell me?" he asked, an unaccustomed note of sharpness in his voice. "Are people going to die, and you know about it?" "Yes," said Gale, giving him a level look. "And there will be others in the future that will so die. You and Mother taught me something about destiny. About how one must shape one's own fate, even if all the world stands against you. The world and its history stand against me here. I cannot change the world without undoing the one I came to protect - but I can protect that one." Mark thought suddenly of the pocket universe on his office desk in Geneva - of the world frozen in a strange imitation of the late 1970s - and of how that world was made. "I understand. Even with all our power, we can't change everything because it doesn't suit us - but if we're lucky, we can change the things that really matter to us." To his surprise, Gale stared at him as if stricken, and suddenly looked away, pulling a handkerchief from the left breast pocket and dabbing at those big dark eyes. "Oh, geez! Are you okay, I'm sorry, I just thought of that." Gale reached down and touched him for the first time, squeezing his hand with strong fingers through those white cloth gloves. "No. No, Father, it's all right. I'm sorry." When Gale looked back, the tears were gone - as if they'd never been on that high-cheekboned face. Gale smiled and stood up, the sand from the beach falling away freely from those still-immaculate clothes. "I need to be going back. The machine couldn't open a doorway to here forever - and they'll be expecting me on the other end. I have some explaining to do, I think." Mark, on his feet, watched as Gale headed for the water again - with a gesture, another shining column of foam rose up in welcome at the immaculate traveler's approach. "Who'll be expecting you? Is it the time police? Because I bet I can take them if they're going to cause you trouble-" "Not the time police!" said Gale, turning, arm half-in and half-out of the standing water. Evidently his offspring couldn't resist one last hint, because he caught a smile on Gale's face as his scion stepped all the way into the welcoming water. "Typhoon!" And with that, the water collapsed - and Mark Lucas was alone on the beach.
  15. Saturday, September 26th, 2015 5:49 PM Joe stood across the street, looking at the restaurant, wondering if he was even doing this right. It wasn't like he hadn't been on dates. He'd had a few - more than a few - relationships. It was just that things were... busy, for the most part. And he tended to throw himself into his work. And his hobbies. Especially his hobbies. Said hobbies including going out at night and dealing with assholes. This was not the kind of thing that contributed to long-lasting, solid relationships. Erin had been the first to suggest looking for someone within the community. That had been a good idea, but it wasn't like they made Tinder for capes (or if they did, it wasn't like he trusted having such a thing on his phone). But, through some dark magic, Mark had managed to set up a blind date between him and another superhero. Being Mark, the details had either been thin or somewhat exaggerated, but he was still willing to give it a go. There'd been the long debate about what to wear - be authentic, be classy, be "normal," whatever. In the end, he'd settled for going a bit more mod - a two-tone jacket and trousers over a long-sleeve Ben Sherman button-up. He still had the braces and boots, though. There were some things a man had to do. Taking a deep breath, he crossed the street for the restaurant, hoping he wasn't going to screw this one up.
  16. July 15, 2015 The Caribbean SS Mictlan The Captain's Table Day Two of the cruise was formal night, which meant the Captain's Table and a chance to get to know the other superheroes either volunteering or working as security for the Mictlan's maiden voyage. Edge and Monsoon had spent the first day of the cruise mingling, Mark and Nina doing their best to put aside Freedom City and Socotra and enjoy a rare vacation. Having gotten to know his girl pretty well over the years, Mark had been worried that Nina would resent being thrust into the role of "girlfriend of the famous UN hero" - but as it happened Nina hadn't spent much time worrying about that at all. "So you see, Captain Festus," the water controller was just saying, pausing as she cut open her rare steak, the glittering yellow at the head of her costume a warm color in the light of the crowded dinner deck, "Socotran refugees will be among the most motivated people your line can hire. They'll work hard, be comfortable even with low pay, and the older ones will know how to fight if there's trouble." "Well, I don't really know anything about that," said Festus with a cheerful chuckle as he dabbed at the steak sauce dotting the edges of his regulation graying beard. "And you know, normally we don't need quite this much security on a cruise ship! But the line wants to make sure the new engines are protected - they were made from experimental technology the US government developed back in the 40s, you know, and you never know what some super-hooligan will try to steal! Hoh-hoh-hoh!" Having been busy with an autograph, Edge turned back to the captain and the other guests around the table. The dining area was indeed crowded; it looked like almost everybody who could had gotten on their best clothes for an old-fashioned cruise ship dinner. It reminded Mark of pictures he'd seen from his parents' honeymoon, and his father's world travels. "People from Socotra get profiled a lot," he said quietly, "but you won't find better people." He reached under the table and squeezed Nina's hand. Eating in costume in a formal setting might have been strange for some people, but this was the kind of thing Mark had quite literally grown up doing. As for Nina, he thought she could look regal sitting in the dirt, much less in costume. "Ah, there's the rest of our guests now!" Festus waved cheerfully as another group of costumed individuals arrived - after all, who could turn down a place at the Captain's Table? No one - not if they were being paid to appear in public in costume as part of their time on the all-expenses-paid, six-decked luxury cruise liner as it steamed from Miami to Venezuela and back again over the space of two gorgeous sun-kissed weeks.
  17. September 5, 2015 9PM (local time) (3PM Freedom City time) Dahab, Egypt Nina floated in the dark waters of the Red Sea, only her bare shoulders visible beneath the surface, as she looked up at Mark. Her voice was dark, too, and liquid like the sea that was her home, and the waves churned and thrashed around her with unnatural energies. "I will pull you down beneath the waves, Mark Lucas, and keep you prisoner in the depths of the sea to use for my own wicked ends. Come to me, and know my true power." Mark looked down over the side of their rented skiff and was in love. "That is really, really, hot, babe," he told her with sincere pleasure. Lying on his stomach, he reached down and took Nina's hand. In the darkness of the late night, he didn't worry about his admittedly hilariously fair skin burning - not that he'd have worried that much anyway. "But what if I break loose from your watery chains and subdue you, my tempestuous princess? What are you going to do if I-" The beeping of his alarm interrupted their conversation; and right when they were about to get to the part where they didn't talk, anyway. Muttering a curse, Mark rolled over and found his UNISON communicator underneath the black polo and slacks he'd been wearing as a Sinai Force civilian observer just a few hours earlier. He held up the text communicator, read the short message, and cursed with enough force that Nina slid right out of the water and onto the small boat with him. Mark looked over at her, the faint green glow from the comm casting strange shadows on his bare, sculpted chest. "Horus is attacking Egypt," he said, horror and disbelief mixed in equal measure in his tone. "What!?" Nina exclaimed in reply. - With the ongoing situation in Washington, Egypt barely merited a mention on the late-night news. "And in breaking news, superheroes working for the United Nations are today engaged in a battle with someone who claims to be the reincarnation of Horus, the Egyptian solar deity who served as a member of the Freedom League in the 1960s and 1970s." A grainy cellphone-shot video, with the tag "St. Catherine's, Egypt," depicted a conflict that pitted a woman in blue and white and a man in gold and blue against...against what certainly looked like the Avenger reborn, a darkened town illuminated by the glowing ankh in his left hand before a brilliant glare blinded the phone's camera. "Sources say Horus appears to be directing his rage towards St. Catherine's Monastery, the oldest religious organization in the nation. Both Egyptian and Israeli metahumans have taken up defensive positions outside the peninsula, with their respective governments promising to allow the United Nations to resolve this situation."
  18. Hunter Manor was quiet that evening, stately as ever in the waning summer light, with the sort of dignity that belied its crimefighting secret identity. The peace was marred momentarily by a rush of black inkblots appearing from nowhere, swirling into a vortex, and then disappearing, leaving behind three people on the front porch. Erin smoothed her hair as the last dots disappeared, finally used to the weird method of transport after all these years. "Come on," she urged the others. "Not likely anybody's going to notice you here, but why take chances?" She opened the front door wide and walked in, automatically checking to make sure all was well. The doors opened onto a handsome foyer, slightly dusty, with the air of a place that was pretty well cared for, but could use a housekeeper once a week. "Hey Trevor, you home?" she called into the house. "Mark and Mike are here, Mike needs a place to hide out!"
  19. Feel free to make whatever Well-Informed checks you want to know things about other heroes! Not to mention Medicine for first aid with the Captain.
  20. December 25, 2014 Freedom City Midnight Manor Late in the evening on Christmas Day, a Deep One sang an eerie song in the Midnight Manor, her body silhouetted by the darkness outside. "BUT I GET UP AGAIN! YOU'RE NEVER GONNA KEEP ME DOWN! WOO!" As her song finished and the strains of Tubthumping vanished into the quiet of what was sometimes one of many front parlors in the Hunter mansion, Aquaria leaped in the air and cheered, her smooth, wet skin glistening from the exertion of the vigorous karoake number. "I am awesome!" For their part, Mark and Nina both cheered and applauded - Mark hadn't been at all sure bringing the machine along was the right idea, but luckily Jessie's amphibian friend had practically snatched the karaoke machine up with her tongue and practically begged to go first. (Jessie had, blushingly, commented that Aquaria used to do this a lot before disappearing herself) Aquaria first approached Mark and Nina, since they had been the latest to the party - only arriving after Martha Lucas had turned in early and left her son and his girlfriend free for Christmas. "You guys want a turn? C'mon, don't be chicken!" Between Nina's competitive streak and Mark's natural showmanship, it wasn't long before the couple was standing in front of the computerized board, picking out their song - 500 Miles seeming to be an early favorite. Aquaria bounded over to join Erin and Trevor to watch the show, declaring, "Surface music is great, you can yell so loud when you're singing! And nobody complains!"
  21. June 5, 2014 Namibia   The private hunting reserve had been hidden carefully by the Crime League - or rather, by Orion, the League's huntsman. For a substantial cash infusion, or a 'favor to be named later', League members, supervillains, criminals, or simply the unscrupulous rich (which often fell into the earlier categories, depending on how you felt about it) could come to southwest Africa and hunt creatures as they saw fit. This could mean endangered animals like gorillas and elephants, exotic alien animals taken from far-away planets by the Crime League's stellar allies, or even extinct animals reconstructed in laboratories like the dodo or the Tasmanian Tiger. But a foolhardy guest had actually gone so far as to post pictures to the Deep Web, pictures which wound up falling into the hands of science heroes who had first tracked its location, then alerted the Freedom League, who had closed in with all the force they could muster. Orion had been defeated by Bowman in a daring bow-against-rifle duel, Blackstar had been beaten by Captain Thunder, and the day was saved...   But what to do with all the animals? The League was on the case, but the story had gone beyond the League. It had become an international story in the last few days, one that had attracted significant media attention. UNISON had sent a team whose members included one of UNISON's most famous employees; Edge, the American superhero-turned-humanitarian, while the Discovery Channel (taking advantage of their connections with the League) had sent a documenary crew including Paige Cline, part of a dynamic duo of super-hosts that was unfortunately seperated today by something as mundane as a parent-teacher conference and the need to chaperone a field trip to Cleveland.   The compound, located in the high desert, was built like an old-style English manor house (albeit with all the latest amenities) - the animals were in emergency housing in the shade thrown together by the League and especially by the UNISON team (thanks to Mark Lucas' special abilities), and an unusually pensive Edge was still there as the others went about their work. Mark had never really had pets growing up, and even though he knew this menagerie was made up of wild animals (some of whom would probably need to be put down), he was trying to fight the urge to take them all home with him. Instead he contended himself with volunteering, and so was currently in a rocking chair, nursing a baby wild boar that had mostly fallen asleep with its little mouth around the bottle.
  22. August 1, 2014 Midnight Manor 5 AM   The ball of water smashed into the grounds of Midnight Manor like a tidal wave, water erupting outward and down as the artificial sphere produced by a hasty mass teleport collapsed under its own weight in a mini-tsunami. The water smashed across the lawn and flooded the flower beds, smashed against the first floor windows on the north side (which were luckily closed) and flooded the pool.    In the center of the vast wet spot on the completely drenched lawn, a bedragged Mark Lucas and Nina al-Darsah were crouched protectively over an unconscious, bloody woman in a torn blue and white outfit like something from a Victorian's painting of a Middle Eastern harem. She looked bad, like someone who'd been grabbed in a giant's fist, and was covered in blood.   "<-STEN TO ME!>" Nina was in the middle of screaming; the only water still standing the head-height inch-thick wall she was holding up between them and an invisible assailant. Her formal Socotran dress was ruined, even royal-made waterproof blue and white cloth torn to ribbons and hanging bedraggedly off her body, as if she'd been tossed into a waterfall and come out the other side.    Mark wasn't panicking, really; he'd been in crises far worse than this, but as his soaking wet suit and tie erupted into his costume in a flash of light he was certainly far more focused than he usually was. "He's far away, and we have to get her to a hospital right now." He looked up, bloodstains on his hands from where it pooled on Fatima al-Darsah's skin like juice from a squeezed grape. "This is bad; I don't...I don't know how to fix this!" he said, a moment before he yelled "T-Midnight! Wander!"   Pacing around the scene, her eyes still out for danger that was thousands of miles away, the princess of Socotra kept moving. "It doesn't make any sense," said Nina desperately, pulling her hair loose so the black strands poured down, soaking wet, past her shoulders. "Why would he do this, why would he just..."   "Nina, please, I need you to help me with this!" Mark snapped. "I can't do this alone!" Torn out of her fugue by her boyfriend's urgency, not to  mention the crisis of the moment, the princess went to help tend the bleeding woman who twenty minutes earlier had called her Daughter...
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