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  1. At first glance, the tall man leaning against the exterior of the imposing Freedom League headquarters, looked like he might be smoking far too close to the building's entrance. A closer look, however, would reveal that the ember dancing along his tattooed knuckles wasn't connected to anything at all, and certainly not a cigarette. Bowing to the winter weather, Ray wore his leather jacket over the tank top and BDU's that he worked in. Immortality did not, sadly, provide an immunity to cold and while the spark of light in his hands kept his fingertips warm, he'd have to summon something far larger and far more eye catching to heat anything more than his fingertips. Technically, he was finished offering his 'consultation', although Ray didn't think that he'd provided anything unknown to the magic-users attached to the Freedom League, but Ray was trying to be a bit more environmentally conscious and take advantage of the city's public transportation system. His good intentions, however, were going straight out the window if the damn bus took another ten minutes.
  2. June, 2017 There aren't a lot of things in Sanctuary that look at space. Maybe there should be, after the pirate attack a few years ago, but honestly that was repulsed easily enough that most of the citizens of Sanctuary paid it never-no-mind. They had Fleur de Joie, they had Gabriel, they had Gaian Knight, the giant bees, all their other strange protectors from other dimensions - why worry? And so it was that when the giant silver spaceship descended through the atmosphere on a direct course to Mayberry, close at hand to Fleur de Joie's house, hardly anyone realized it was coming until it had arrived in the upper atmosphere - and the locals weren't immediately inclined to panic. It hovered there visible by binoculars and the sharp naked eye, spinning slowly around its central axis, looking for all the world like a shiny chrome flying saucer from a science fiction movie of the 1950s, even down to extraneous fins placed in each quadrant. From above, with its tall central axis, it might have looked a bit like a compass. When reached by radio, the ship's feminine voice was tinny and old-fashioned too, sounding oddly like it was coming from a vacuum tube radio. "Greetings from the Stellar Ochlocracy! We come bringing gifts to facilitate relations! Where may we land?" The vessel was good-sized, at five hundred feet long, close to the length of a US Navy destroyer.
  3. alderwitch

    Fleur

    From the album: Alders Portrait Project

    Fleur de Joie, Freedom League, 2018
  4. Lilly sat just inside the Administrative Building of the Claremont Academy, anxiety slowly building up as time stretched on with the only distraction being the wi-fi on her phone. The young plant controller had been offered to take part of a mentorship program that the school had been developing for some time. The plan was to pair a student up with another superhero so they could better grasp their powers from someone with more experience. More similar the abilities, the better. It was a coincidence that Freedom City was frequented by Fleur de Joie, a legendary plant controller who had earned a place on the Freedom League and was adored by millions in the country. One could see why Lillian King would be more than a bit nervous. She was not sure if she was suppose to do their first meeting in costume or now. The uncertainty was enough to convince her to stay casual for today. Black jeans, black shirt, leather jacket to keep the cold out and a pair of worn boots just in case she had to do any running. And so, she waited for her arrival.
  5. Content Notices: Violence, Birth Scene Location: Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship! Date: July 19, 2016 Talya was very good at suppressing the potential consequences for her actions. Leaping off buildings, after all, was much easier if one didn't think about what missing a handhold might mean. Unfortunately, ignoring the eventual ramifications of the biology of how a baby (or two. Two!) would enter the world did not actually prevent the event. The cramps and back ache had only gotten worse despite her refusal to acknowledge that it might not just be late term pregnancy aches and pains. Although, she'd not admitted (and likely never would), it was fairly clear to those closest to Talya that the ex-spy was at least unsettled by the impending birth. Perhaps even frightened. At the moment, though, she was mostly just holding up the relocation to Sanctuary as if not stepping through the portal might some how prevent the next several hours. "I've changed my mind," Talya announced mulishly, her arms crossed over her chest. "Perhaps I could just be unconscious for the entire thing, after all. They still do that, don't they? If we went to the hospital instead, could they just knock me out?" Unlikely to say the least with her magical ability to shake off most things mundane and Talya's mystical biology did not often play well with other magics. Intellectually, she knew that but at the moment, logic was not high on the spy's list. "I'd bounce right back from a c-section. Probably. Almost certainly."
  6. Tuesday April 26, 2016 3PM Palermo Time - 9AM Freedom City time There's an English-language newscrew in Palermo this afternoon, the BBC crew's report on Italian tourism having been transformed into a worldwide spectacle by means of the Internet. "Some sort of hideous monster moving its way through the city-" A hazy image of a warped parody of a man, some eight or nine feet tall and nearly nude, dressed only in rags and covered in hideous, pustulating boils. "seemingly emerged from the bay and is now making its way through the heart of this beachside community-" It becomes abundantly clear as it, he, passes, that whatever he is is infectious - a wave of that giant fist, and a barricade of the city's Carabinieri, military police posted here for anti-Mafia duty, are on the ground, screaming and writhing as boils erupt from their own flesh. "rampaging through this historic city like nothing we've ever seen before-" He doesn't even bother to knock down the house at the end of the seaside street, instead simply powering through it as he heads into the older, more built-up, more populated parts of this city over half a million. It's abundantly clear that there is no power on Earth - or at least no power in Palermo, that can stop him. "With the current Papal crisis occupying Italy's defenders, we may be alone. This is-" The newscaster screams, his handsome face writhing in agony as the boils erupts from his flesh, and the camerawoman drops her camera and screams as well, catching one last image of the monster leering at them as he passes by. - This is the fourth day of the crisis. By the time the Freedom League arrives in Palermo, everyone knows what they're dealing with. This is Shkhin - this is the Plague of Boils.
  7. Date: April 1, 2016 Location: Hilo, Hawaii It being April 1st, the early reports of 'nightmare creatures disgorged from the seabed' were assumed to be prank calls especially since these particular calls came from a less populous corner. It was only when the wedding party showed up for their sunset pictures that the panic truly started. While most of the white sand remained lovely and pristine, close to the water's edge it began to blacken, smoldering in the heat. At first glance it seemed that an odd fissure had opened up in the beach, disgorging lava from some previously unknown magma tunnel - boiling the water that touched the edges of the disturbance and sending plumes of smoke into the air. It was only when the lava groaned and then rolled over that true hysteria set in. Across the country, the Freedom League's headquarters lit up with alarms and reports of monsters and nightmares and living lava from panicked officials that were not sure exactly what governmental service one called for that sort of thing. Thankfully, there was always the Freedom League standing ready. Of course as the panic was happening in the late evening in Hawaii, the League got the alerts a little before 4AM by Freedom City's clock. A hero's work was never done!
  8. Despite the mound of paperwork waiting for him Ellis left the now empty exam room with a goofy smile drawing confused looks from a passing nurse and any staff who had seen two others enter but not leave the room. Of course he didn't care in the slightest at the moment and while it might make the rounds on the rumor mill it would soon enter the, 'yet another weird Freedom City Story' realm and fade from memory. Even more astounding than the disappearing act however was managing to complete a shift with no effusions marring his clothing. He finished up his shift on time and quickly exchanged his lab coat for a overcoat to ward off the crisp autumnal air. A quick check of his slacks and sweater vest for any stray detritus and he was on his way arriving at the appointed meeting spot a few minutes early and walking past once so as to not appear too eager before returning and waiting once he convinced himself that was absurd and he was a grown man not some smitten teen. He sent another text off to his sister confirming he was indeed meeting a 'colleague' for a 'social engagement' and would be home a bit late as they had discussed earlier. That done he tucked his phone away and tried to look casual, and likely failed to look anything of hte sort, as he awaited Steshas arrival.
  9. Date: September 19, 2015 Taylor hadn't exactly given Elis all that much choice really. Oh, she'd promised that it was a nice, normal meeting with nice, normal people who just happened to have super powers. Other than that it was just a barbecue with friends who happened to be super parents, at least that was what she'd conveyed on the phone. In Taylor's defense, she really did feel that it was important for the relatively new super hero to have something like a support network. She certainly would have appreciated having had more of a network when she'd first started. Also, her definition for 'normal' might have gotten steadily skewed over the years. After all, Stesha was the most normal person that Taylor still knew - she just happened to be a goddess running her own nature planet preserve these days. Taylor's lack of sympathy for any attempts to cry off might have also been in part in her expectation that it took some strong arming to get people to attend parties. Jack certainly wasn't ecstatic about Taylor's 'we're all going as a family to this barbecue on Stesha's planet before dark hits. No, really. It's important to me' explanation for why everyone was being rousted on a Saturday, side dish in tow. With a soft 'pop' of displaced air, Taylor showed up in Ellis' living room. Huang had his after school job to keep him busy and Taylor didn't think that he'd enjoy a barbecue with mostly adults and the under ten crowd in attendance. Jack and JJ had already been dropped off with Jack entrusted with delivering the side dishes of potato salad and a cooler full of steaks for the barbecue. That she showed up inside the house rather than on the porch was in difference to Ellis secret identity but he might not see it that way. Except for the sudden appearance, Taylor looked normal enough - at least she wasn't in costume. With her hair pulled up in a bun and in a light shirt and denim shorts she could have been any fresh-faced college student. Well, except for the fact that she was still translucent.
  10. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Linework for Stesha and Elis' awkward hand holding.

    © K Keppeler

  11. May 16, 2015 Wharton State Forest Dry weather had turned parts of the big forest into so much kindling - and a lightning storm had turned kindling into a fire. Luckily no humans were hurt, but the ugly patch of burnt woods on either side of the Mullica River stood out like scars on the landscape the next morning, and the rest of the property damage inflicted by the fire was enough to suggest that the park staff needed some help. It was a good place for a visiting plant controller to come and clean up the damage (while leaving enough for the forest to recover from the fire naturally), and for a Claremont student to get her community service credit. "We're glad to have you both here," said Ranger Rick Buchanan as he led Fleur de Joie and Cerulean down the path from the ranger access road to the burn site. "The biggest damage we took was the loss of Tower 4," he went on, pointing to the half-melted steel watchtower had had collapsed into the burnt-over area. "We've been trying to convert the old lookout towers into historic sites for years - but now all we have is Towers 2 and 3 on the far side of the park." He turned and eyed the damage, the ashy area of fallen timbers and molten metal still warm from the recent flames. "Worse, Tower 4 was built almost a hundred years ago, which means they used a lot of heavy metals we'd never let into the park now. If you can't dig them out now, we're in for a long, expensive cleanup."
  12. Gizmo

    Interceptors: Mia

    March 20, 2015 It wasn't that Erik Espadas was expecting trouble, not really, but he subscribed to the idea that it paid to be the one carrying the biggest stick. Or to be friends with the people carrying the biggest sticks, anyway. When they'd worked out the rough schedule for Min's pregnancy nobody had been particularly surprised to find her due date landed on the vernal equinox. After the unexpected 'visit' by his extended family in the House of Swords for the birth of his first daughter, though, a whole different sort of planning had seemed in order this time around, just to be safe. Stesha had offered to host them on Sanctuary, of course, but even with one or two super-powered healers on hand the idea of being in a whole different reality from the closest modern hospital made Erik a little nervous. If he were being completely honest with himself there was also the fact that he wanted his second child to be born in Freedom City's West End just as he had. If was their home and he wasn't about to let anyone chase them out. That said, even if they weren't going to an earth goddess, the earth goddess could still come to them. A good section of the first floor of the Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship (!) was covered in toys where Stesha was keeping watch over Eden and Amaryllis laughing and playing, chatting amiably with Gina. Nearby Mara and Liz were engaged in an animated discussion of tweaks and improvements to the building's security over a folding table covered in computer equipment including a laptop displaying Vince's neon-green suit wearing avatar. They'd sent Chris out to get food mostly because it seemed like the only way to keep him from standing watch on the top of the building in full costume while Steve had insisted on standing guard, gargoyle like, outside of the second floor apartment where Ellie was making her sister-in-law comfortable. Yolanda had taken up a position across from Steve, solemnly following the taciturn bald man's example. It was, all told, a small army of love and support. Not that that stopped Erik himself from pacing back and forth with nervous energy, his gaze jumping back and forth between the stairs, the clock and Eden, hands clasped behind his back.
  13. There was not an OOC for this thread! Now there is.
  14. Electra

    The Grey Areas

    Stesha had a problem. Actually, Stesha had a lot of problems, some of which would work themselves out with time, some of which she would have to entrust to other people, and some of which she would deal with herself. But at the moment she had two problems she didn't know what to do with, and there was really only one solution. She needed a lawyer. It wasn't as though Stesha had never used a lawyer before. She'd gone to one of the League's attorneys just a few months ago to help her with the messy and unpleasant business that was even the simplest and most drama-free of divorces. She'd tried to do it herself, but had needed the help when it turned out that the court had problems figuring out jurisdiction when neither of the involved parties made their primary home on the planet. The briskly efficient League attorney had done some kind of legal wizardry involving domicile and precedent and degrees of contact, and it had all worked out in the end, but she kind of never wanted to see that lawyer again, friendly and professional though he'd been. She needed another lawyer. A little asking around in the hero community netted her a good possibility. Lucy Harker was not exactly an average lawyer, being a superhero on the side, but she had her own office on the West End and was open for business. Stesha hoped that, being a superhero and all, she'd be flexible enough to help deal with her two unusual problems, or at least point her in the right direction. She called and made an appointment for Fleur de Joie, then set herself to gathering documents. Lots of documents.
  15. The Southern Queen was somewhat ideally situated (near 76th & Wading), or so thought one Maybelle McQueen. Though technically in the North End of Downtown Freedom, it was just as close to Parkside and Lantern Hill. Meaning even people from the West End or Midtown came in sometimes. But, mostly it was the college crowd mixed with the odd person who actually lived in the North End. The people who ate there more than once swore by it. The food wasn’t of any particularly style. In fact, the menu itself was more of a list of suggestions than a hard list. The Head Chef was known to produce virtually any dish on request, provided the Queen (or the customer) had the ingredients on hand. That said, the menu itself was full of generic fare. The kind of thing you could find in almost any home kitchen in America. There wasn’t a drop of fussiness or fancification about it. It was the dinner rush, but Maybelle was prepared. Honestly, the cooking was finished for everyone currently seated. So, she was doing her “pretend to be a waitress†thing. Most of her customers had no idea what the Head Chef looked like, or even what her name was. Not that either thing was a secret, but really, how many people going out to eat really care about that sort of thing? The Queen was the draw, not Maybelle herself, and she liked that just fine. She wandered around the dining room, quietly making sure everyone was currently satisfied with their meals. Like every night, there were some dissatisfied customers. Can’t please everyone, after all. But that was all right. Maybelle smiled and smoothed things over. The staff swooped in. The problem got solved. A normal, everyday night.
  16. SanctuarySanctuary is the colloquial name given to the alternate-Earth dimension Earth-D-Self-7(extinct) where heroine Fleur de Joie keeps her headquarters. A formerly populated Earth, a global climate disaster caused by human mismanagement and war wiped out the population and rendered the surface only marginally inhabitable. Fleur de Joie is currently in the process of rehabilitating the surface, starting with the approximate location of Freedom City and working her way out. Sanctuary can be reached by anyone with the power to travel dimensionally to alternate Earths. Geography of Sanctuary<BR>[http://freedomplaybypost.com/maps/sanctuary/ Map of Sanctuary] <BR><BR> The rehabilitated and reclaimed land of Sanctuary where the majority of action takes place consists of a badge-shaped pentagon about fifty miles across at its widest point, stretching from the outskirts of Philadelphia to Bayville, NJ at the east and west, then Upper Freehold and the southern border of Wharton Forest at the North and South. <BR><BR> The original and most-developed portion of Sanctuary began as a rough circle in the western suburbs of Freedom City and expanded to a rectangular area comprising most of what was Wharton State Forest. This area contains most of Sanctuary's landmarks and the majority of its inhabitants. Fleur's personal home is on the southeastern side of the rectangle, in what used to be the western edge of urban Freedom City. Slightly to the northwest is the holding area she created for refugees from Prime who might be transported over during a crisis. A few miles north of Fleur's home is Beedom City, the massive hive where the giant bees have made their home. The northernmost corner of the rectangle holds the village where the people native to Sanctuary now live under the protection and with the assistance of Fleur and her friends.<BR> <BR> Outside the original boundaries of Sanctuary lie large tracts of purpose-developed land. To the northwest is a large rectangular plot rehabilitated for farmland and food production. The monastery founded by Gabriel is located to the western side of this plot, while the village butts up against the southeastern edge. The agricultural plot is not fully utilized, but is dotted with fields, pastures and orchards that provide food and education for the population. Off to the northeast and north of the original plot are the Bee Meadows, a very large open area given over to meadows and massive, specially created flowers for the giant bees. The bees can often be seen roaming for miles over the meadows as they harvest nectar. The Bee Meadows are also a frequent home of Gaian Knights movable floating castle. <BR><BR> South and East of Freedom City, Sanctuary stops and ruins take over once more. The shoreline and areas near it have proven resistant to rehabilitation due to the heavily polluted ocean, and anything north or east of the heavily-polluted Wading River is still in ruins. The damage, most likely from a large concussive superweapon, that leveled downtown Freedom City also sent part of Bayview into the bay, forming a partial earth dam that both choked and protected the South River. The river still exists, albeit in greatly reduced form, and had proven responsive to Fleur's cleanup efforts. Streams flowing from it provide the water to the bee colony and to Fleur's home base. In a similar way, the damaged ruins of Philadelphia to the northwest have slowed Fleur's efforts to further expand her cleanup work. <BR><BR> Locations in Sanctuary Fleur's HomeFleur de Joie's home base sits in the middle of Midtown, corresponding exactly with the location of Stesha Madison's apartment on Earth Prime. It is a single-story cottage-like dwelling made almost entirely of plants, save for interior features and crystalline windows created for her by Supercape. The cottage sits in the middle of what appears to be a clearing in the middle of old growth forest, though all of it was created by her in the past eighteen months. Other plant buildings, mostly early attempts at the cottage, dot the clearing as well and are used mainly for storage. The buildings are connected by a path of grass, which becomes a path of crushed white gravel edged with seashells as one approaches the neatly-landscaped cottage. Behind the cottage sits a small shed with a tall metal tripod rising above it. The top of the tripod holds a windmill and solar panels, the shed holds the generator that powers Fleur's home and the nearby civilian holding area. Inside, the cottage is cozy and homey, though far from large. The main room is both living room and kitchen, with a kitchenette counter along one wall containing an improvised sink, a microwave, a coffee maker, and a mini-refrigerator. A small kitchen table sits against the adjacent wall, typically set with two chairs, though a brand-new high chair already sits in the corner awaiting use. Much of the room is taken up by a comfortable sitting area in the center of the room, a comfortable sofa flanked by two recliners, all gathered around a coffee table. In the winter, a space heater sits on the fourth side of the table, where a fireplace would be in a different cottage. The composition of the house is very apparent, with natural grass floors and walls that change color with the season. At the back of the main room, a hallway leads into the rest of the home. A small bathroom contains fixtures designed for low-impact wilderness living, while opposite that is the master bedroom, a very simple affair with a queen-size bed,a dresser, a television with DVD player (that only plays DVDs, of course), and a bedside table with lamp. A simple wooden cradle beside the bed is the most recent addition to the room. The newest room in the house, freshly grown-in next to the bathroom, is the furnished nursery at the back of the house. The entire house is the size of a medium-sized apartment. Civilian Holding AreaThe Civilian Holding Area is designed to facilitate Fleur de Joie's ability to remove civilians from dangerous situations on Prime without having to bring them to her home or leave them wandering unescorted on Sanctuary. Roughly the size of a football field and bounded on all sides by twelve-foot-high plant matter walls, the most striking feature of the holding area is its faceted clear crystalline roof. Designed and created by Supercape, the roof shines like a jewel and allows sun into the holding area while keeping off the rain. Inside the holding area, Fleur has placed signs welcoming displaced civilians and instructing them to wait to be returned to Prime. She's also stocked emergency food and medical supplies, in case the rescued civilians are injured or need to spend more than a few hours in holding. The holding area sits approximately a half mile from Fleur's home, in what would be the Theatre District on Prime. Beedom City DesignationThe official designation for Sanctuary is Earth D-Self-7(extinct). The designation, which uses Freedom League Standard Notation, indicates the planet's status: 'Earth:' This planet is a parallel Earth, and English is or was a dominant language. 'D:' This planet's environment is unpleasant and unhealthy, but capable of supporting life. 'Self:' This planet is a victim of self-inflicted disaster, not natural disaster or attack '7:' This universe is the seventh the League has explored with similar features 'Extinct:' This parallel Earth once harbored a Primelike population, but the entire population has since been wiped out.
  17. Fleur de JoieFleur de Joie, civilian identity Stesha Madison (formerly Lumins), is a plant-controlling heroine based out of Freedom City. She has been actively doing hero work since 2009 and is well-known in the city. She is very recognizable due to her thigh-length bright green hair, which she usually keeps braided in loops and coils close to her head and wreathed with live flowers. While Fleur de Joie maintains a residence in Freedom City, her home is actually on the alternate-Earth called Sanctuary, which she maintains with her powers as a haven for refugees and giant bees. While Fleur's powers make her an effective combatant in a fight situation, her talents are far more suited to disaster relief and humanitarian aid. She is powerful enough to literally make deserts bloom, given enough time and effort, and has consulted with UNISON on a number of occasions to help alleviate famine conditions and bolster new farming projects. Much of her energy is currently focused on expanding Sanctuary, which exploded from a small settlement to the size of a small town in 2014, almost all of whom were Terminus refugees with no resources. Luckily, one of Fleur's non-powered assets is her vast network of friends and associates, whom she has been able to tap for assistance in getting the money and manpower necessary to make Sanctuary more self-sufficient. In her personal life Stesha is more discreet, though that's come partially as a result of experience. Her marriage in 2010 to the superhero Dark Star (Derrick Lumins) was big news in the hero-following world, as was the birth of their daughter Amaryllis in 2011. Dark Star contributed to this by his enthusiastic new-father reaction of writing “It's A Girl” across the surface of the moon, where it remained for nearly a month. Her distinctive appearance makes it difficult for Stesha to keep a truly secret identity, but her local popularity and charm have persuaded most of her neighbors to accept the polite fiction that they do not know who she is, allowing her to live her life. That fiction began to dissolve in 2015, when she ended her marriage to Dark Star and the tabloid press began to become interested in her life once more, leading her to move to a more secure living space in the privately held DuTemps Building. Expanded History'Expanded History' <BR> From the time she was a little girl, Stesha Madison loved plants. At a very early age, she put away her tea set and equipped her dolls and bears with little rakes and shovels so they could help her in the garden. It helped that she grew up in a family that was very big on gardening. Dad taught botany at the university, and Mom was a complementary medicine practitioner and midwife who grew most of her own remedies. Mom always that they met on the opposite sides of a campus protest in the sixties. It was true that they argued a lot, but in the way of people who liked to argue. Stesha's older brothers and sisters liked to argue as well, and so did she, up to a point. But mostly she liked to garden. There was always something that needed to be done, and every day brought new growth and new beauty to look at. <BR><BR> It was hardly a surprise, then, that Stesha followed her dad into the university, majoring in botany. She did well, devouring all the information that was presented to her, but it wasn't her cup of tea. Studying flowers and plants too hard took the magic out of it. Once you'd dissected a rose, it wasn't beautiful anymore, it was just broken and sad, no matter how much you learned. She was more interested in the joy that flowers could give. Her parents were very proud when she graduated with honors, even if her father was a little disappointed that, instead of joining her in the lab, she decided to go to work at a florist. <BR><BR> It wasn't just any florist shop, mind you. Chicago had some very exclusive floral boutiques, and with the contacts both her parents had, she got a job in one of the best. Soon she was doing society weddings, making bouttonires that cost more than her entire prom dress had, and putting together elaborate birthday and anniversary bouquets that would gladden the heart of anyone who saw them. It was a great life, despite the occasional Bridezilla, and she loved it. She'd have been happy to go on that way indefinitely, if everything hadn't changed in a most unexpected way. <BR><BR> It all started with a very unusual piece of window dressing. Even with her degree in botany, Stesha had never heard of the Fleur de Joie blossom until the day her boss brought it into the shop. A very rare, extremely exotic bloom, it flowered only once every hundred years, and this one was set to go soon. “I had to call in a hundred favors,” Amy, her boss, enthused, “but this sort of opportunity comes once in a lifetime. Front row seats to history!” That was why Stesha liked Amy, they shared the same enthusiasm for plants. The Fleur de Joie was placed in the front window and monitored like an expectant mother. As its pistils swelled with the coming bloom, Amy began stationing employees to watch it at night, just to make sure they took plenty of pictures and didn't miss a thing. No one knew for sure if it was a day or evening bloomer, and they weren't about to miss out. <BR> <BR> After a few days and nights of anxious watching, Stesha's turn came up in the rotation. She staked herself out just a few feet from the plant to make sure she would catch so much as a twitch, then started reading a catalog. A sudden motion caught her attention, and she saw a leaf begin to curl back. Eagerly, she called Amy and told her something was happening, then got ready with the digital camera. As the petals began to uncurl themselves, revealing a beautiful mother-of-pearl color the likes of which Stesha had never seen, she leaned in with the camera and began to take pictures. Suddenly, when her nose was bare inches from the flower, it released a large puff of pollen into the air, right into her face, right into her open mouth. “Yie!” she yelled, reeling backwards in surprise, trying to wipe her face. The whole room seemed to take a long, lazy twirl, and then she passed out. <BR> <BR> She woke a few minutes later, sputtering at the glass of water Amy had upended over her head. The flower was still there, huge and immensely beautiful, and Stesha was still covered with pollen. “What happened?” Amy demanded. “Are you all right? Did you see it open?” <BR> <BR> “Yeah,” Stesha replied, dragging a sleeve across her wet, powdery face. “It was beautiful! And I think I'm allergic,” she added wryly. They took hundreds more photos from every angle, and so did the newspaper, and the local news channel. It was a cute local interest story that brought publicity to the shop, just as intended. After a few days, it closed again, and Amy returned it to its owner, and things seemed to settle into their normal routine. <BR> <BR> Only it wasn't exactly normal. Stesha started noticing that things were getting a little strange around her. Plants seemed to… respond to her in a way they hadn't before. Her African violets grew to twice their normal size in a week, and the rest of her houseplants quickly followed suit. After that, it was the potted plants in the shop. Soon, rosebuds were blooming at her touch. Something very strange had happened to her, and it all had something to do with that plant. She was afraid at first, but that passed quickly. All of her powers seemed good, seemed helpful, and they let her do what she loved better than she ever had before. She started small, learning to control the growth of plants around her, making sick ones healthier, growing seedlings into mature plants with a thought. It was cool. <BR> <BR> As Stesha's control grew, so did her boldness in experimenting. She began to try more things, more heroic things, and found she could do a lot more than she'd thought. When she concentrated hard enough, she could sort of become one with the plants, seeing through their flowers and leaves, even traveling along their vines and coming out somewhere entirely different. (The first time she did that, she nearly wet her pants, but the fear soon passed.) She could even make first dirt, then ceramic pots full of dirt, in which to place her plants. One memorable day, she even managed to snake out a vine and trip a purse-snatcher in Grant Park, sending him flying and letting the victim reclaim her belongings. She was like a superhero! She found that she needed to eat and sleep less, and that just laying in the sun made her feel totally refreshed in ways it never had before. <BR> <BR> It wasn't entirely without its drawbacks. One morning after an especially exciting evening of practice, Stesha woke up to find her hair had gone entirely green. Since that wasn't something she could hide, she decided to flaunt it, curling it up in a bun and sticking a wreath of flowers on it. Amy was a little skeptical, but the customers thought it was adorable, so she didn't give her any trouble. Stesha hadn't figured out a way to tell Amy about any of this. It just seemed so unbelievable. As she mastered her powers, though, the florist business began to seem very small. She still loved it, but she felt like she could do more. She wasn't up to the standards of, say, the Freedom League, but she could be a small superhero, she was certain. <BR> <BR> Moving out of Chicago was a real leap of faith. Amy was sorry to lose her, but she gave her a great recommendation that landed her a job in downtown Freedom City at another exclusive boutique shop. Stesha took some time to settle in and get the hang of her job and her neighborhood before she tried anything else. After a few months, though, she knew she was ready. Stesha thought about donning a domino mask, but in a city full of costumes, it seemed like it might be asking for trouble. She came up with a name for herself, Fleur de Joie, after the plant that had made her and the idea she had in mind, and set out to make the world a more beautiful place. <BR> Timeline 2009A Starlit Date: Moira sets Stesha up with a friend, Derrick Lumins (Dark Star), sure that they will get along fabulously. It turns out she's right, and the two enjoy dinner, dancing, and some very unpracticed flirting.
  18. November 1, 2014  Sanctuary    It was midnight and the bees were SCREAMING.    Comrade Frost, as awake as ever, was sitting outside in a small clearing, looking up at the so-bright stars overhead and thinking of the past. It had been a strange week, particularly since it had begun with Fleur de Joie approaching him and asking for help. Thousands of domestic animals had been brought to her adopted homeworld by the recent refugees from Entropy; thousands of unvaccinated animals in primitive conditions without access to 21st century medicine. There were veterenarians in Freedom City, it was true, but none with his experience, none with his training, and none with the willingness to drop everything to travel to another world to conduct perhaps the fastest rinderpest vaccination campaign in history.   In the last few days, he'd been calling on the skills of Dimitri Peshkov far more than Comrade Frost, among these people who had no idea there had ever been a Russia. So he sat beneath the half-Moon and sipped a hot drink, and thought about the past. When he turned around and saw the earth-walled barn behind him and heard the snoring of the cattle, when he looked further to see the ramshackle dwellings in which the farmers hereabouts lived, it was like he'd stepped back in time. To another place, another life.    Then the bees started screaming. Frost jumped to his feet, his drink set aside, and watched for a moment in shock as gigantic cries erupted through the half-grown forest - and a moment later the sound of fiery eruptions and the glow of red and orange stood out on the smoky clouds that dotted the sky above. "Pizdets!" he swore as a gigantic insect body, lit from the fires below, swooped up again and then straight down as if dive-bombing something. Without hesitating, he left aside the past and erupted forward into the forest, a cloud of icy mist racing towards the apian creatures and their distress. 
  19. Stesha's House, Sanctuary December 26, 2014 12:30pm Local Time Between the late hour of the Communion's attack on the Lighthouse, the time the fight had taken, the cleanup, the debriefings, and a quick power nap, it was well into the day after Christmas before Gabriel had a chance to head to his second home. He'd debated coming immediately after the debrief, but he needed a shower, and when he got to his apartment he ended up sleeping for a fair bit of time. The up side was that not only did he come out of it more rested...Stesha would hopefully have had time to calm down. He'd missed all the "drama"; he'd been in the medbay getting patched up and looked over for his collection of minor wounds. There had been a metahuman healer present, so he shouldn't get any scars. From this fight, anyways. No way to ditch the other scars at this point, not without actual surgery, and he didn't care enough about that. But as soon as he'd walked into the debriefing and seen Dark Star in his energy form, a complete absence of Fleur de Joie, and the incredibly awkward atmosphere in the room as the meeting started, the young Irish man knew something bad had gone down. It turns out, no one else knew many details, either. So that is how he found himself, dressed in civilian garb, with a thermos in one hand and a bottle of Bailey's in the other, knocking on Stesha's front door and deciding if it would be blasphemy to curse being the most gifted diplomat on the planet when your ability had been granted by an Archangel. Even if it would be it was starting to look mighty tempting.
  20. The battle was finally over, even if the damage would take weeks or months to clean up. Stesha didn't know if some parts of the Lighthouse were even repairable, but at the moment she couldn't bring herself to give a damn. She'd heard that the outer system fighting was over as well, and the skirmishes on Earth were just mop-up operations at this point, but it was all rumors until she met up with the rest of the extended League for debriefing. Her mind was numb right now, concentrated on the mundane chore of dissolving the large tangles of vines and roots that marked her battles along the corridors of the space station. As she approached one of the less-mangled docking bays, she heard voices, friendly human voices. "And then I swooped in from behind and drilled their nacelles with a laser beam!" Max Atom enthused, sketching his story in three dimensions with his hands as he entered the corridor. Behind him Johnny Rocket and Captain Thunder listened with patient amusement, occasionally chipping in details. There were a half-dozen heroes spilling into the corridor, a good chunk of the contingent who'd fought the outer-system battle, heading for the command deck where there'd be food, showers, and the League meeting. "And then one of those antibody ships started to buzz me," Max continued, "but Dark Star was right there and just pancaked it, like it was made of paper!" Stesha froze at the sound of the name, seconds before the man himself came into view around the corner from the bay. He looked exactly as she remembered of course, a velvet-black hole in the world, edged with just a faint trace of white light in the shape of a man and two glowing-white eyes set in the featureless face. "Derrick," she murmured.
  21. December 5, 2014 2:00 pm Village of Mayberry, Sanctuary There was a light dusting of snow on the ground of Sanctuary as the visitors popped out of the hickory tree-shaped dimensional portal their host had conjured up for them, but the weather this afternoon was clear and cold. The place where they'd arrived looked like the edge of a large garden, with rows of berry bushes still fruiting nearby, and nut trees clearly ready for harvest all around them. Stesha was waiting for them as they stepped out, her cheeks pink despite the puffy brown fleece jacket with matching knit hat and mittens she was wearing. It looked a little like a cold weather version of her costume, if one squinted just right. "Hi guys!" she greeted them cheerfully. "It's so good to see you, feels like it's been forever! Ammy, come say hello!" There was a rustling behind a nearby tree, whose branches parted to allow Amaryllis to come rushing through them without so much as slowing down. She was bundled up like her mother, except all in pinks and purples, and her hat was askew on her green curls. "Hi!" she chirped, finally slowing down just before she plowed into Erik. "Merry Christmas!"
  22. The Lighthouse November 10, 2014 The transportation platform of the Lighthouse flashed, as an incoming transport arrived from Earth. Velocity materialized on the platform, fully dressed in her costume, although she was still feeling the lingering effects of sleep. The alert that had come over her League communicator had awoken her well before her alarm was set for. But she had wasted little time in getting up and responding, getting over to Freedom Hall and then beaming up to the Lighthouse. Standing near the pad, awaiting her arrival was the cloaked form of Dr. Metropolis. "Good morning Velocity." The enigmatic figure stated in his deep, rumbling voice. "The others have already started to gather in the main meeting room." "Morning, Doctor." Velocity stated with a small smile. "Thanks. I'll get right over there, but first will want to make a small stop for some coffee." The speedster was then off in a blur of yellow, heading towards the space station's galley. A few moments later, she had coffee mug filed with the hot liquid and then made her way to the main meeting room. As Dr. Metropolis had indicated, there were already some League members gathered. Captain Thunder was there, looking a bit tired and worn and seated at the center seat of the large table that was at the center of the meeting room. Johnny Rocket was also sitting along one side of the table, doing his best to patiently wait for everyone to arrive. Standing off to one side were Daedalus and Star Knight talking. Maria had her helmet off at the moment, and looked rather upset. "Good morning Velocity." Captain Thunder said in greeting. "Please have a seat, hopefully the others will not be too long."
  23. Thevshi

    Firestorm

    GM Freedom Hall, City Center Freedom City, New Jersey Wednesday August 6, 2014; 5: 35 PM The late afternoon was a rather typical weekday in Freedom City, although the rush hour traffic was a touch lighter than normal, as vacations had helped cut back on the numbers of office workers starting their way home after a long day. The heat of the day was passed, but the air was still heavy with the humidity so common at this time of the summer. In the heart of the City Center, just a few blocks west of Centennial Circle, traffic made its way slowly past the slightly pyramid shaped form of Freedom Hall. Set off from the sidewalk and behind a seven foot walls, the headquarters of the Freedom League was a familiar sight to those that lived and worked in this part of the city, to the point that most hardly noted it as they made their way past. Today found the interior of Freedom Hall more deserted than typical. Of course, "Cynthia," the League's robotic receptionist, was present in the lobby, as was always the case. The only other two occupants were in very different parts of the building. Comrade Frost was up on the rooftop landing pad of the building, lying back in a deck chair with a sun tanning reflector, enjoying the last bit of sunshine before the sun passed too far to the west. Gabriel was in the Hall's monitor room, keeping an eye on the mostly quiet communications while he worked on the lesson plan for the class he would be teaching in the fall. However, his concentration was interrupted as a voice came over the AEGIS/US Government frequency. "This is Major Ellis, United States Army, with a priority alert. We are in need of the League's assistance, please respond."
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