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  1. Player Name: Arichamus Character Name: El Heraldo ("The Herald") Power Level: 10 (159/201PP) Trade-Offs: -2 Defense / +2 Toughness, -1 Attack/ +1 Damage Unspent Power Points: 42 Progress To Platinum Status: 96/120 (Gold Status earned with King of Suits) In Brief: Son of recently-immigrated Puerto Ricans granted powers by the burgeoning national spirit of Puerto Rico, who uses his new-found abilities in defence of those most vulnerable to crime. A student at the Claremont Academy. Alternate Identity: Subito Sondo Identity: Secret Birthplace: Puerto Rico, Adjuntas Municipality, Guayo Barrio Occupation: Student, grocery store worker Affiliations: Claremont Academy, Labor Union (Grocers) Family: Pavor Sondo (Father), Broma Sondo (Mother), Galanta Sondo (Sister), Rodrigo Fuego (Cousin) Description: Age: 17 (July 5th, 1995) Apparent Age: 19 Gender: Male Ethnicity: Latin American Height: 5'6" Weight: 184 lbs. Eyes: Hazel Hair: Dark Brown A stocky fellow, Subito nonetheless manages to look taller than he actually is by the practice of good posture and carriage, which he augments with thick-soled boots and a baseball cap. His hair is thick and curly, and long enough to nearly reach his ears, his eyes are spaced close together and are often shaded out of sight by the cap, and in the midst of strangers they have a narrow, suspicious look, though in the presence of friends they widen and sparkle with enthusiasm. His nose is short and broad, while his mouth is often turned slightly downward to help convey the message given by the eyes. His limbs are short, and he has rather large hands and feet for his age. he frequently wears white t-shirts and blue jeans. In his guise as the gaudy El Heraldo, he wears a brilliantly-colored and heavily-padded jacket. His pants are blue-and-red gold-checkered tights, and his feet are covered with heavy leather boots. A broad cloth bandanna around his head suffices to conceal his identity, with a sky blue feathered hat hat completing the bizarre costume. He carries in this guise a large flagpole, to which is bound the flag of Puerto Rico. Power Descriptions: El Heraldo's powers are signaled by a glow around Subito's body, which takes the rough form of an immense flag made of golden smoke. His powers are an extension of the national spirit he is the host of, which increased his physical power and hearing, as well as the power of flight and a slowly increasing range of powers related to communication. Personality & Motivation: As El Heraldo, Subito acts as he thinks he ought to, doing his best to be just, kind, fair and honest as he knows how. He enjoys the anonymity of the mask, as it lets him be what he likes without repercussion on how he is viewed as Subito. Out of costume, he is loud, impetuous and full of gusto for whatever he does, having been brought up to see silence as suited only for holy or sorrowful occaisions. His morals are fairly straightforward, and he gives litle thought or time to the why of his ethics. He equates thinking with doing, incomprehending how somebody could think up things they might do, and never act on any of them, and has a hard time understanding how one philosophy or belief system being true doesn't negate the others' validity. On the other hand, he is loath to bring issues like that up in conversation, seeing them as interesting challenges to be overcome on one's own, and would never dream of trying to make people more like himself. Powers & Tactics: El Heraldo has limited resources and severe limits to his gifts, meaning he must take great care with whom and how he fights. As a profoundly heated individual, however, he is unlikely to do so, instead dashing into the fray with unmitigated aplomb and vigor, no matter how outmatched he might be, using the power of his standard to evoke hope for victory in any compatriots. Complications: Power Loss: Subito is granted his powers only so long as he uses them for the benefit of others. If he uses them for the sole purpose of bettering himself, they shall be revoked. Responsibility: Family. He feels honor-bound to serve his family's needs above his own. Secret: Identity. While he always has his powers, he knows his family is largely defenseless. Underaged: Subito isn't a legal adult, with all the restrictions that come with that condition. The Who-What Now?: Subito has almost no idea who's who or what's what in the complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel he's gotten himself into. Feel free to blindside him. What are you wearing?!: El Heraldo's garb is..distinctive, to say the least, and it's flashiness is fertile ground for misconceptions, easy recognition by enemies, and being nearly impossible to sneak in. Abilities: 10 + 4 + 10 + 2 + 0 + 8 = 34PP Strength: 30/20 (+10/+5) Dexterity: 14 (+2) Constitution: 20 (+5) Intelligence: 12 (+1) Wisdom: 10 (+0) Charisma: 18 (+4) Combat: 10 + 8 = 18PP Initiative: +2 Attack: +5 Base, +9 Unarmed Grapple: +19/+14, +22 w/Super-STR Defense: +8 (+4 Base, +4 Dodge Focus), +2 Flat-Footed Knockback: -7/-2 Saving Throws: 2 + 3 + 10 = 16PP Toughness: +12 (+5 Con, +1 Protection (Costume), +6 Protection (Dame's Ward); [impervious 10/0]) Fortitude: +9 (+5 Con, +4) Reflex: +5 (+2 Dex, +3) Will: +10 (+0 Wis, +10) Skills: 36R = 9PP Diplomacy 6 (+10, +14 with Attractive) Intimidate 4 (+8) Knowledge (Civics) 2 (+3) Knowledge (Current Events) 4 (+5) Knowledge (Popular Culture) 4 (+5) Knowledge (Tactics) 2 (+3) Languages 2 (English, Latin, Spanish [Native]) Notice 4 (+4) Sense Motive 8 (+8) Feats: 20PP Accurate Attack Attack Specialization (Unarmed) 2 Attractive Dodge Focus 4 Interpose Inspire 4 Leadership Luck 3 Move-by Action Power Attack Quick Change 1 Powers: 2 + 22 + 31 + 4 + 6 = 65PP Comprehend 1 (Languages [understand all spoken]) [2PP] Device 7 (Bandera de la Victoria [banner of Victory]; 35PP Container; Flaws: Easy-To-Lose; Power Feats: Restricted 1 [Magic Users]) [22PP] Array 10(20PP Array; Power Feats: Alternate Power 2)[22PP] Base Power: Emotion Control 10[20PP] AP: Healing 10[20PP] AP: Immovability 10(Extras: Affects Others)[20PP] Feature 1 (Repair Clothes) [1PP] Impervious Toughness 10 [10PP] Protection 1 [1PP] (Costume)] Herald's Charge 6 (32PP Container [Active, Sustained], Drawback: Noticeable [banner of Light]) [31PP] Enhanced Strength 10 (to 30 [+10]) [10PP] Flight 3 (50mph / 500ft per Move Action) [6PP] Protection 6 (Dame's Ward) [6PP] Super-Strength 3 (Effective Str 43; Light Load: 1 1/2 tons; Power Feat: Super-Breath) [7PP] Strike 1(Power Feats: Affects Insubstantial 1, Mighty) [3PP] Immunity 4 (Cold, Drowning, Pressure, Poison) [4PP] Super-Senses 4 (Auditory; Accurate, Counters Concealment, Extended 2 [1,000' Notice Increments]) [6PP] Drawbacks: -2PP Vulnerability (Sonic Powers, Frequency: Common, Intensity: Moderate [x1.5]) [-2PP] DC Block: ATTACK RANGE SAVE EFFECTUnarmed Touch DC 24/20 Toughness (Staged) Damage (Physical)Bandera Perception DC 20 Will Emotion ChangedHealing Touch DC20 Fortitude(Harmless) HealedSuper-Breath Area [Cone] STR/DEX vs Opposed at +9 TripStrike Touch DC26/22 Toughness (Staged) Damage (Physical) Totals: Abilities (34) + Combat (18) + Saving Throws (16) + Skills (9) + Feats (19) + Powers (65) - Drawbacks (2) = 159/201 Power Points
  2. GM January 5th, Saturday, 2013 South America, the gateway to the Lost World Zandar, Jungle Lord of the Lost World, had recently sent word to the Freedom league that he wished for greater understanding between his domain and theirs. He had offered a guided tour for several young people from Earth-Prime through the reaches of his kingdom, something that had led to a scramble among the Claremont Academy student body, all of whom wanted to be the one that got to see the fabled and secret land where prehistoric beasts lived beside humans! At last, Headmaster Summers had selected four teenagers to go. Blodeuwedd, El Heraldo, Myrmidon and Tsunami were to explore the strange Lost World and bring back a written report on what they had learned and discovered about the place and its people. No less than twenty pages were allowed for the final product, as Prof. Skyler had declared with no little smugness. But that seemed far away as the four teen heroes stood on the rocky and wooded plateau far above the jungle that glistened below in the sun, the teleportation quick and precise. All they had to do now was wait for their guide to show up. The South American sun beat down on them with the full weight of summer, and at the edge of sight and hearing all of them could tell animals were creeping just out of sight...
  3. GM El Heraldo was flying. That in and of itself wasn't too odd, bur he was flying high enough in the air that all he could see were clouds. A moment later he flew out of the cloud bank, looked down, and realized he was miles above the ground, and moving fast! All he could see below him was a lonely line of highway paralleling a ribbon of coastline. A quick fly-by confirmed that he was heading south -- and in South Carolina! Why in the world would he be flying so high and so fast due south? because because because He had been sitting with Cerys in the common room in the dorms, theoretically studying but in fact cuddling like, well, like a couple of teenagers. The big TV had been on and tuned to CNN, but it wasn't he heard "attack on the Caribbean islands," that he paid it any attention. Frightening images of troops in strange armor marching out of the accompanied running commentary on "a surprise Atlantean invasion of the Caribbean, under the claim of eminent domain." A particularly chilling moment was a native reporter, his face streaked with smoke, huddling in a building and speaking about "the siege of San Juan." Which wad why El Heraldo, the Herald of Victory and defender of Puerto Rico, was heading home.
  4. Liberty Park, Sunset Lake lakeside path, Freedom City, July 4th, Wednesday 11.45 AM "So, seein' as we're pro'lly goin' back to 'Rico on the 21st, this is their last big chance to meet ya!" Subito explained cheerily to Cerys, comfortably walking down the shady yet heated path with an arm around her waist and his hand on her hip. The teen paragon positively glowed with health and excitement, wearing his usual white t-shirt and shorts, both emblazoned with the American and Puerto Rican flags, a baseball cap overtop his curly hair with the same colors completing the patriotic ensemble. Pausing for a moment, he looked fully at her and smiled fondly, kissing her on the cheek "Thanks Blodeu. For sayin' yes, I mean. I was gonna ask you to come over to meet my family, but...well..." he shrugged helplessly and looked away, the memory of the brief but harrowing capture and imprisonment bubbling up. With a jolt he shook off the gloom, grinned at Cerys and resumed their brisk walk. By now the lake was visible through the mouth of the trees, like a rippling field of jewels dotted by rowboats and sailing boats, even a few professional rowers practicing on the dancing water. On the grass a large group of Hispanics was busy setting up a picnic spread. Subito took a breath to shout a greeting, only for one of them, an especially tall and very strongly-built young woman who bore a striking resemblance to Subito, caught sight of the pair leaving the trees and bellowed out happily "HEY THERE, 'BITO! GET OVER HERE AND HELP!" Closing his mouth with a *click*, the young man blushed crimson and muttered "They called me that when I was a kid. A lot. They didn't do it any more until last year, when Serge and Vic came over to visit. Now they do it all the time." He rolled his eyes, then caught hers and the irritation vanished. "We're gonna have a picnic, go to Hero's Knoll, we're gonna see everything! it'll be AWESOME!"
  5. Thursday, April 18, 2013 8:50 PM local time (5:50 AM, April 18, 2013 in Freedom City) Somewhere over the South Pacific GM The still night sky over the South Pacific was briefly disrupted by the sleek form of an advanced hypersonic transport as it streaked through the thin air at high altitude. Designed with stealth in mind, the transport was nearly impossible to detect by conventional mean, which allowed it to follow a rather direct route to its destination. Inside the aircraft’s main cabin, three rather unusual teenagers (two male, one female) had been bound to a set of jump seats set up in the middle of the cargo area. Each of the three had their arms bound together behind their backs by primary restraints affixed around their wrists and forearms. Additional restraints, crossing over their chests and arms, held them to their jump seats and helped to keep them upright, as all three were currently unconscious. Additional restraints bound their ankles together. All three of the teens were wearing costumes, which varied from rather subdued to quite colorful (at least in one case). Standing watch over the unconscious superteens were a group of men dressed in black and grey, gi like uniforms made of reinforced Kevlar material. Each wore a black tactical belt around their waists with a sidearm and a number of small pouches attached. All of the men were armed with what appeared to be some form of energy weapon, either immediately in hand, or very close by. All of the men were clearly of some Asian descent, thought to a more knowledgeable observe, it was apparent they hailed from a number of different countries. Six of the men were seated around the three teens, three to either side, their weapons cradled in their hands, ready to use should any of the teens awaken and show any sign of escaping their restraints. Another half dozen were seated towards the front of the aircraft, somewhat more relaxed, but with their weapons within easy reach. One of the men seated closest to the three teens was starting to feel himself wanting to drift to sleep, a feeling he fought, as he tried to focus on the teens, looking for any sign of movement beyond steadying breathing or a slight shift caused by turbulence or the like. But event that was beginning to feel monotonous, when he suddenly realized the three were appearing to stir. The realization brought him fully awake, as he focused on the movements, confirming his eyes had not been playing tricks on him. <"They are starting to wake!"> He stated in slightly accented Mandarin. The other five guards closest to the teens all sat up a bit straighter, many tightening their grips on their weapons as well. Over towards the front of the aircraft, the other six men also became more alert, focusing on the teens once more, a few picking up their weapons. One of the six glanced at a watch on his wrist, then looked back up towards the teens. <"It does not matter, we should be landing very soon.">
  6. Central Puerto Rico, the northern side of El Yunque('the Anvil'), July 25th 2013 Subito had ended up going to Puerto Rico alone with his family. Cerys was busy, Serge doubly so, and the rest had either graduated or were hard at work preparing for it. That had turned out to be a considerable blessing for the muscular teen, as the sudden explosion of familial visits and reunions with laughing cousins was something he felt would have been hurt if he'd dragged someone else along for it. He, Galanta and Rodrigo had finally been allowed a day to wander the island before the celebratory meal, and the trio had quickly taken advantage of it and their maternal grandparent's closeness to the mountain to trek up its slopes. Subito was in his usual white shirt and jean shorts, and had found an excellent seat in a rock shelf partway up the northern face. He looked out at the island from that vantage point, quietly watching the slow sway of the trees stretching to the horizon, the movements of birds, the stealthy creeping of grounded animals and the distant glimmer of the sea. He felt a sudden, powerful connection to everything he sensed, and all the myriad of things built by humanity just out of sight. Here at last he could learn the truth. Steeling himself, he whispered 'Dama, I ask leave to enter your dominion and hear from your mouth what this knight means, and why you refused to explain. I will surpass any obstacles you place before me, and defeat any foe who stands against my quest My permission is granted, Herald. And you shall hear it and understand. Since you have already seen the bridge, the pool and the rest I will only say this: do not retreat. Be strong, I must not guide you once you enter.' Closing his eyes he willed the beating of his heart to a slower, stronger rythm, gradually attuning himself to the island. The books lent to the young paragon by the mages of Parkhurst had been amazingly helpful and complete, describing meditation techniques for mental and spiritual travel that could take you almost anywhere imaginable. Of course, he reflected, cracking an eye open and smiling, the books would have been useless without Mali's help teaching him how to meditate properly. Settling back into stillness and silence, arms laid on his crossed legs and hands turned upwards, he opened the inner eye and walked out of is body for the first time, drawing back an invisible curtain on the universe and passing through to the other side with a rush like being flung backwards by a deluge. Recovering himself, he stood up and looked around. The change was immediate. The world was watercolors now, the rock around him had gone from the uneven brown patterns of unending erosion to a solid mass of light gray stone, the air was abruptly motionless and filled with the smell of perseverance and hardihood, and the forests before him were transformed into an immense tangle of vivid greens and browns that perfectly hid what his senses told him was a riot of barking, shrilling and baying animals. The sky was overcast with golden clouds shaped like mighty birds of prey under a blazing sun. Below him on the green pastures stood two he knew at a glance depsite their filmy appearance: Galanta looked like a statue of steel, resembling an Athena he had seen pictures of; the other was a towering stereotypical Spanish knight in armor that glistened blue, the helmet shaped like a fishes' skull though Subito knew his cousin Rodrigo was inside. The reminder of his strange curse suddenly made the patriotic paragon's visit just a little more eerie, and Subito grappled with a momentary surge of guilt at just letting Claremont's veterans take care of him, and not finding a way to cure him in the months before. Around the ghostly pair ranged hundreds of sheep in armor of their own, grazing on the grass. They looked like if someone had heard that armor was supposed to be practical defensive wear, and decided that they were better than that. Every inch was intricately carved and sculpted in a different way, and the gold and silver used to make the figures gave the herds the impression of a large field covered by wandering metal barrels. Climbing down from his perch, Subito glanced up at the now literal iron anvil crowning the mountain and grinned despite himself. Sauntering northwards through the mysterious herd at the mountain's foot, he nodded politely to the massive ram with blood-dripping horns who seemed to be in charge, surveying the rest from a boulder. <"Don't suppose you can tell me anything"> he said aloud, scratching the sheep behind the ears fondly and starting when the ram butted his hand aside as it answered flatly <"I can. The caretaker of this island excepts you. Follow the path and do not stray"> without a backward glance he jumped down and vanished into the clanging mob. Staring after the animal, Subito turned away with a muttered <"Ooookay then, guess that's all I can expect from these weirdos"> glancing around he caught sight of a small dirt track leading away to the north through the forest. At the mouth of the woods yellow eyes glittered at him. Meeting the stares grimly, placed a hand over his heart and said crisply <"Dama, I ask that you not grant me your power while I am here. You pro'lly weren't gonna anyway, but still. I'll be with ya soon."> With a shake of his curly hair, he set his jaw, squared his shoulders and marched into the gloom, the forest blocking the light almost utterly as he was swallowed up.
  7. Steam Manor, 3rd August 2012 Once the Avian’s had been dropped off on the Canadian mainland the dirigible Cressida made good time back towards Freedom City. Whilst the ship made its way back to it’s “home†the more technically minded of the group quickly found the information they needed On arriving at the manor Lord Steam’s staff, as efficient as ever, had arrange for a light luncheon for them to enjoy whilst they planned there next move.
  8. GM Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:20 PM A thick curtain of cloud hung over Freedom City, concealing the moon behind them. The lack of moonlight made the streets of Southside even darker than normal, a stark contrast to the bright lights of downtown Freedom City across the black waters of the South River. For a group of high school students from nearby Claremont Academy, the moonless night made for a perfect opportunity to get out and patrol for crime. Tonight it was a group of four such students who were flying through the dark skies, or teleporting along the shadowy rooftops, of a rundown neighborhood of Southside near the Boardwalk. Tonight's patrol had been arranged by two of the teenagers, Subito Sondo , also known as El Heraldo, and Katharine (Kat) Shade (Warp). They were accompanied by two of their other classmates, Serge Explinker (Net Fly) and Giang Trang (Tsunami). It had taken Subito and Kat a fair amount of work to convince Giang to agree to join the patrol tonight. Ever since early February, the Asian teen had been extremely reluctant to leave school grounds. The rumors had circulated around the school that she and John Smith (Myrmidon) had been attacked by a Chinese sorcerer and a group of martial artists at the Chinese New Year celebration in Freedom City's Chinatown, though Giang did not discuss much about the incident. But in the end she had relented to their pressure, and was now accompanying Kat, who was teleporting the pair from rooftop to rooftop, following along after Subito and Serge, both of whom were flying. So far, the evening had been relatively uneventful, with the four having only thus far stopped a couple of gang members who had been trying to steal a car.
  9. Raveled


    The rolls for the Nightmare stories. We'll just be keeping everything in here for now.
  10. Ari

    Flying Flag[IC]

    Bayview Mall, October 1st, Monday, Noon. Subito waited outside the mall on one of the wood and concrete benches thoughtfully provided for the ease of pedestrians, awaiting the arrival of his friend Serge. He winced as he remembered the incredibly awkward way he had suggested that they "Y'-you know...um. Go out? Together?" he snarled incoherently and settled further back in the bench, hoping dourly that this wasn't a forecast of things to come. As one of his closest friends in the city, Subito dreaded the possible precedent his discovery about himself set.
  11. GM 2013, February 28th, Wednesday, 12.05 PM Freedom City, Bayview, Claremont Academy, Mathias Cooke Wing, Room 206B The place was Freedom City. The year was 1965, and the dim room had just gone through one of the harrowing stories of the human race on the brink. Some of the impact was lost on the more apathetic, dead or alien students, but everyone at least kind of looked interested. Dr. Amelia Valero clicked to the last slide, showing a faded 1960s picture of the bulky and purple Soarazon fleet roaring back into the sky, the Freedom League watching them go. The distinguished-looking woman paced forward, declaring placidly "That single stroke by Galatea and Sea-King was enough. The warlike Soarazons had never encountered mercy or forgiveness before from other races during an attack since the High Wars, and so they left Earth at once in the company of Star Knight to surrender themselves to the Lor fleet, vowing never to return." She smiled dourly "This vow has been broken at least twice before, each time on the anniversary of the attack, although each time the blockade fleet informs us that they stopped the invaders far from our system's borders. Something to think about when you go to Astronomy" she added with a faint grin. Looking over the lines of seated students her cool brown eyes flicked up to the clock at the back of the room(catching a few furtive backwards glances with a silent rebuke) the Supers History teacher sighed almost imperceptibly for those without super-hearing and began to put back together her notes and the class textbook. "I'm afraid time's up for today, class. Tomorrow we'll start in on the latter 1960s. All Tectonic, all the time!" the answering groan from the students got a real laugh from the sturdy Latin woman "Alright, settle down, I'm joking. He was a very crucial figure though. and his exploits fighting the Vibrator are difficult to believe. Dismissed!" In an instant the classroom burst into motion, the lights came back on and the dozens of students surged back out into the halls, most of them chatting happily to each other in small knots of friendship, handing in late papers with suitably apologetic looks to the briskly polite professor, or charging off alone to something they were already ten minutes late for, legs pumping furiously. Six students however were called back in. "Ah, Mr. Silvestri! Sondo! Stelzer! Griffith, Andrews, Solarin!" the last three were directed at a tall and refined-looking African boy, a stocky and grumpy British girl with dark red hair, and a muscular, excited American boy with bright blue eyes and black hair. She raised an eyebrow as she scanned over a small sheet on her desk "Lot of 'S' names in my classes for some reason. Anyway, since you did so well on the last test(and I must admit, in your case I'm astounded, Mr. Stelzer) I want you all to band together and do a mini-project on alien invasions of the 1960s. It has to be at least twenty pages if written, ten minutes if a recording of some kind, otherwise you're free to do as you like! Any questions?" She asked with a warm smile.
  12. Tuesday, February 19, 2013 Claremont Academy Evening Evening. The end of another long day at Claremont Academy, surely the oddest school in the world. For Tona Baudin, the day had been full of learning, and exercise, and honing her mind and body into a singular, powerful machine. Many of the students had unusual powers of one kind or another and they focused on using them instead of their own physical talents, but all Tona had were her body and her skills. She kept herself in top form, because there was no other way for her to compete with her fellow students, and Tona was far too competitive to be anything but the best. And this day had been another success, one well earned and fought for, and Tona was ready to go to bed. She had showered and taken care of other matters in the floor's communal bathroom, and now she was standing outside the door to her dorm room. Hesitating. Inside was her roommate, Cerys Pefr, one od the few girls in the school who could understand just how hard Tona worked, and why. One of the few who Tona considered a friend -- except for that day almost a month ago, when a Curator drone masquerading as Tona had tried to kill Cerys, and a lot of other people. Now the air between them was tense, strained, and Tona had no idea had to fix things. But she couldn't stand outside the door for much longer without an RA coming over and asking questions and making things a thousand times more embarrassing. So Tona opened the door and stepped through. She kept her eyes firmly fixed on her bed and grunted a greeting to Cerys.
  13. 5th December, 2012 Roberta Isley Garden The small Zen garden in the midst of the larger greenery was a favored relaxation spot, even in the middle of December. The snowy day hadn't put a damper on the number of students who seriously wanted a place to find tranquility within. New to the small square of rocks, Chinese-style lanterns and the small burbling fountain was the stocky form of Subito Sondo, who wandered into the almost perfectly quiet garden, a light green and blue flannel shirt his only concession to the cold he didn't have to worry about, taking off his hat with a nervous glance around at the concentrated or placid faces dotting the place. Nervously taking a seat on a relatively clear space, he crossed his legs under himself, took a quiet breath, closed his eyes and began to meditate... ...then his eyes snapped open as he muttered, just a little too loudly. "Wait. I don't know how to meditate. Crap."
  14. Saturday, March 4th, 2012 4:02 PM Waterfront warehouse district, Freedom City Todd Hayden wove his cherry-red Mustang through the traffic of Freedom City was practiced ease, slipping from lane to lane and passing slower cars with barely a glance in his mirrors. As he drove he spoke, his words for the benefit of the three young heroes from Claremont academy that occupied the rest of the car. "My ancestors were pirates," he said. "Freebooters, privateers, sea dogs -- they sailed the oceans and looted and plundered to their hearts content. That's because for years they were also cultists of the Snake People. "We came to the New World with the first wave of English immigrants. Settled up in Boston, among the coves and natural harbors. Eventually the family's wealth was tied up in investments on land, not the sea, and I guess they didn't feel the need to worship the old gods anymore -- or maybe Elijah Prophet got the last of the Dagon-worshippers and the rest of the family didn't want to burn, I don't know." Hayden downshifted and pulled off the freeway, heading steadily towards the docks and piers. "I guess we just couldn't stay away from the water and easy money, though. In the thirties my family was involved with fascist groups in the States. Lots of people were -- I have a photograph of my great-granddad with Henry Ford. But when the war started we threw out lot behind the Nazis, tried to use our money and influence for them. We were almost found out by the first Raven and Lady Liberty, but somehow we just barely managed to keep out of jail. "The family named was ruined, though. My grandfather and father were both gamblers and drunks. I inherited a pile of debts and a legacy scholarship to Georgetown. I just wanted to dig around in the dirt for my whole life, but once I graduated... I was going to spend my entire life working at business or end up bankrupt and living in a shoebox, working at a museum somewhere." The car was crawling through access roads now, the sea close enough to smell. "When the Serpent People approached me, I... I knew it was a deal with the devil, but I thought I had the upper hand! They told me where I could find some old sunken treasure in Chesapeake Bay. I paid off my family's debts with that and started looking to dig abroad. They told me where I could find old Atlantean ruins, outposts from their war thousands of years ago. A whole chapter of history no one knew anything about! It was absurdly easy to make my name, and then I could pick and choose where I worked. "That's when Ernest showed up, and the Serpent People started leaning on me harder and harder. They wanted to know about navy movements, they had me drop sonar buoys and magical trip mines at dig sites. In the Middle East, I handed off money to some man whose name I never got. A week later, an archeological dig in Yemen was dynamited! I thought I should turn myself in, go to the Freedom League, whatever, but Ernest -- or at least one of them -- was always there." Hayden stopped the car and nodded at a row of warehouses. "The one on the very end, that's where the shark skeleton was delivered to. I... I don't know if I can help you any more than this."
  15. Saturday, March 4th, 2012 2:42 PM Freedom Aquarium The parking lot of the Freedom Aquarium was rather crowded for so early in the year, but the blue and chrome bus with FCTA printed on the side pulled up to the curb in front of the main entrance, and two dozen young men and women of every description piled out. Moving among them, keeping order, where two older gentlemen. Leeroy Hawke was taller than most of the other people on the bus, and dressed in slacks and a turtleneck he still had an air of quiet power around him. He seemed to have an eye everywhere, reaching out to stop a bully from flicking spitballs at an underclassman one moment and the next, catching a young woman as she was knocked off her feet by the press. "Watch yourself, Kirsten," he said to the girl as he set her back on her feet. "Everyone, just take it slow! We'll have time to see all the exhibits, I promise." Jesse Perry was almost the exact opposite of his coworker. Short, with a paunch, and wearing a tweed-with-leather-patches outfit straight out of Ben Stein's closet, he has been seated near the back of the bus with Leeroy but was somehow out of the bus and on the sidewalk before anyone else. He kept both eyes on the students as they filed out of the bus, making sure no one wandered too far off. "Everyone, just keep together. We need to make sure everyone gets off the bus, first." He spotted a junior in a pea coat and jeans. "Morgan Crowe! Make sure the underclassmen don't wander off!"
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