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  1. Summer 2021 When Raina's phone rang, it was from a contact she'd actually picked up from Talya - the one Talya had just dubbed Anna. "Hey! Is this, er, a secure line?" The woman on the other end had a heavy, old-fashioned Jersey accent, the kind that Raina associated with very elderly people or cartoons. "Because I got yer number from Talya, see, and she said you were the right person to help me with a job."
  2. Okay, let's see Computers for Merlin and Disable Device for Raina.
  3. April 2021 Lantern Hill Cemetery Late evening Raina had saved Comrade Frost's number on her phone at Talya's suggestion but that didn't mean she got a lot of calls from him. "Hello!" came the cheerful, oddly-accented voice when she picked up. "Is this fire witch? This is Dimitri Peshkov! Tell me are you free this evening?" Dimitri peered around the side of the crypt as he looked around for the groundskeeper, nodding in satisfaction when he saw the man had gotten off-shift. Things were so much easier now that the graveyard had decided to hire a company rather than actually pay a man to live on-site.
  4. GM A Friday evening in late February, 2021 The Boardwalk, outside the Diamond Clover Casino It had not been a evening for Raina so far. Eddie had seemed like a nice enough guy at first. He had taken her to a magic show at the Boardwalk. The magician wasn't exactly good, but he was trying at least, not helped at all by Eddie's heckling and talking over each and every thing that he did, loudly explaining to Raina how he would have done the trick so much better. No, Eddie had turned out to be quite insufferable, and Raina had left, leaving the Diamond Clover Casino soon after. It had been a good day for Casper. No trouble at all so far, he had been hangng out with Carrie and had taken her to a kids' show at the Boardwalk, and she had absolutely loved it. He could have sworn that Jessie had looked a bit differently at him when she picked up Carrie, too. All in all, a good day, and he had spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out at the Boardwalk, just feeling good about himself for once. Of course, either of those feelings wouldn't last. In the cold clear night, the roar of bikes echoed through the Boardwalk. A biker gang tore through the Boardwalk, all wearing jackets with an a horned skull with burning eyes and a pentragram on the forehead that identified them as "THE DEVIL's ADVOCATES FREEDOM CITY". Few wore helmets or any kind of protection, laughing and shouting as they drove amongst the people that had to leap for their lives to get out of the way. Of the two riders in the lead, one looked almost unnaturally pale, a red bandana tied around his forehead, his rapidly thinning black hair pulled back by it, and the other, with a full light brown beard and long hair, wore a helmet in the style of an Imperial German Pickelhaube officer's helmet.
  5. The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship! "Ha, making me work for it today!" Erik Espadas called across the length of the training mats while he intercepted a pingpong ball-sized fiery projectile a hairsbreadth from his nose with equally fiery rapier. The flame wrapped around his hand in an elaborate guard and the light of the deceptively delicate blade was picked up in the sheen of sweat across his chest. Where his shirt had gone and why he had bothered to wrap a dark blue bandana over his eyes when they both knew he was using his metamagi sixth sense to anticipate the incoming bolts of fire were questions his training partner had learned not to waste energy asking. Instead another flurry of little fireballs forced him to flip backward and contort his wrist to catch before they could hit him or the flame retardant tarp they'd hung up on the wall behind him.
  6. January 2, 2018 On the last day of Raina Sanderson's last day of Christmas vacation at Claremont Academy, she got a text from her monkey. Merlin had been increasingly agitated over the last few days, for reasons that he swore had nothing to do with the monkey-sized Christmas sweater that he'd gotten from the floor Christmas present pool. It couldn't have anything to do with the temperature - Cathy was off on a date, or some sort of mystery, with Phaedra, which had left him master of the room while Raina was outside. The text said FOUND BIG THING. TROUBLE. With only three emojis, all of them from the "Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil" series, this was an unusually restrained message. NEED TO SHOW YOU.
  7. The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship! September 29, 2017 Whump. Whump. Whump. Erik Espadas' fists impacted the punching bag suspended from the dojo's ceiling over and over, hard enough to rattle the chain and give him time to switch up his footwork between strikes as the bag swung back toward him. It wasn't rhythmic exactly, as his attacks varied staccato triplets of quick jabs to single heavy swings with the entire weight of his body behind them. Even so their was a somewhat hypnotic quality to the overall pattern, his steady breathing framing the train of percussion while a light sheen of sweats showed on the skin exposed by his light tank top. He'd been at it when Raina had decided to set up in one of the stackable chairs lying against the back wall and he'd kept at it for at least ten straight minutes since, gradually picking up speed and punishing the bag more and more severely. He'd definitely seen her come in but hadn't said anything, expression focused and uncharacteristically severe. While the teenager knew the swordsman wasn't baseline human she was pretty sure he didn't have any measure of super strength and wouldn't be punching the bag clean off of its securely fastened chain. He certainly seemed to be making a go of it nonetheless. Whump. Whump. Whump.
  8. Matt had been waiting for her. He'd been trying ever-so-hard to not look like he'd been waiting for her, and on a normal day he probably could have pulled it off with his well-honed apathy and a set of scout dogs, but there was something under his skin and it was making him somewhat less than subtle. And so he paced, or tapped his foot, or drummed fingers against his knee to some song in his head, all while periodically pulling at a bandage wrapped tightly around his left forearm. He'd tried rolling the sleeves of his black overshirt down to cover it, but they didn't cover quite enough of his wrist and at some point he'd just given up. He'd given up on a lot of things, really. "Raina!" So much for playing it cool, well done. He pulled at the bandage again, unconsciously, pulling back a bit so that she didn't feel like she was getting ambushed outside her last class for the day. "It's...not that big a deal, but I could use a favor. Maybe. I'd definitely owe you one - heck, I'd owe you two, if it goes well."
  9. Winifred lowered the blouse in her left hand and raised the buttoned dress shirt on its hanger with her right, frowning at her own reflection in the full length mirror on the back of her dormitory room's door. "If I'm meeting her at her apartment rather than her office I shouldn't be too stuffy, yes?" she reasoned, raising the blouse again to look at the pair of tops side by side. "But the apartment is still inside the company's building and it's still a business meeting. I can't look childish so erring on the side of professionalism might be wiser." Despite her limited wardrobe she'd already been debating her outfit for a good half an hour before asking for Raina's assistance. She'd been preparing for her meeting with Ms. Albright of AEON for the past week and while it would have been one thing if she were simply delivering scientific findings proposing a line of alchemical cosmetics necessitated a certain level of panache she wasn't confident she could meet. If any of her friends knew how to dress for success it was the self-assured pyromancer.
  10. Gizmo


    Beneath Claremont Academy 8:42 AM July 10, 2017 By design the impervium cell was nearly empty. The front wall was transparent due to a process that Winifred would have usually been much more interested to learn about and the cube was large enough to pace about comfortably but the only furniture was a smooth bench large enough to also serve as a bed, constructed from the same material as the walls. There was a television set outside the transparent wall, featuring rather clever motion controls so as to forego the need of a remote control but the young alchemist didn't want it even for the white noise just then. Instead she sat on the bench beside the pillow she'd brought with her, wearing the oversized flannel shirt she'd adopted as sleepwear. She hugged her legs against her chest and pressed her face into her knees, letting out a long, weary sigh as she continued silently reciting the elements.
  11. GM Claremont Academy, Headmistress's Office Approximately 4:30pm, May 18, 2017 Four students had been called into Headmistress Summer's office, by way of notes handed over quietly early in the day (so as not to raise a fuss about the matter): Riley Smith, Winifred Wei, Matthew Rivera, and Raina Sanderson. Miss Summers sat behind her desk, typing away as the students filed in, a couple of quick clicks closing whatever she'd worked on, before she turned and faced the students. She sat back in her chair, folding her hands in her lap as she calmly regarded each of them for several moments. "To begin, understand that none of you are in trouble. Instead, this is me presenting you all with an opportunity for...let's call it something of a work-study program. I believe that, between your individual skills and your friendships with each other, you are well-suited to this task. I can't make you do this particular assignment, but you all do have hours and credits and the like to finish, so if it's not this particular assignment, it will be another. And unfortunately, I can't guarantee another opportunity that's as..." She paused and thought over her words for a moment, apparently quite conscious of some of the strong personalities in the room. "I can't guarantee you won't end up being forced to complete an assignment while working with one or more fellow students you do not get along well with. And don't think your companion's skills would let you bypass this requirement, Miss Sanderson; I'd know if he tried. Still, I have faith you all will be interested in this particular project."
  12. Gizmo

    Present Arms

    January 13, 2017 3:45 PM Even in a city that catered to as many esoteric subcultures as Freedom there were only so many places a teenager might go to improve their skills with medieval weaponry. With the faculty of Claremont Academy in something of a restructuring period - and portions of the student body's faith in the combat training there having suffered somewhat - Cathy Clouston had suggested the next best thing to her girlfriend: a privately run dojo in the city's West End that had been introduced to her by her roommate. Said roommate had continued to receiving mentoring of her own there, albeit in the form of classes not openly available to the public at large. There were certain skills painfully absent from a young lady's usual education these days: picking locks while hanging upside down, disarming an attacker while wearing heels, disarming an attacker with a pair of heels...
  13. Claremont Academy Dormitories April 15, 2017 Winifred still wasn't used to the literal weight taken off of her shoulders be her recent haircut but after putting it off for so long there was a certain visceral satisfaction in having had the nearly waist length hair cut back to a tidy pixie cut with razor sharp lines that kept it off of her ears and neck. It had already proven to be more practical in the lab and if she were to allow herself a moment of vanity the displaced Victorian might have gone so far as to say that it combined with the collar of her slate grey dress shirt to make her neck and jawline look fantastic. A scientist had to acknowledge empirical fact after all. Shifting the strap of the bag slung over her shoulder, she strode down the dormitory hallway with her shoulders squared and her chin tilted slightly upward. It had taken almost half a year of trials and tweaking but the grin threatening to break through her composure came from the feeling of a craftsperson preparing to showcase their efforts. She counted slowly backward from one hundred as she rounded the corner; she wasn't in a position to let excitement or nerves get the better of her. Reaching the door to the room shared by Clouston and Sanderson she gave it a distinctive trio of sharp raps.
  14. It wasn't entirely uncommon for Raina's training sessions to be unconventional, really. After all, Talya had made her practice running in heels and picking locks. The immortal spy's idea of well rounded skills was, to say the least, unconventional. Still, there was something out of the ordinary for even her training sessions when she arrived to the dojo and was hustled in quickly by a robed Talya. "Excellent, you're here. Just enough time to get changed," she told Raina, shooing her towards the restroom and a gown hanging on the back of a stall and a pair of shoes. "High end society - old money." Talya volunteered with a nod towards the cosmetics before vanishing towards the door to get ready herself although it wouldn't take her long at all. She was well used to the art of the quick change. "And we've just under an hour to be gone before Erik gets back for his evening lessons to make our escape. Never ask permission for what you can apologize for in the morning... Honestly, that's terrible relationship advice. I'm rather lucky that they're quite so indulgent. I'll wait outside the door."
  15. April 2017 Claremont Growing up in what he now knew to be a small, closed community made it difficult for Riley to talk to strangers - and he tended to solve difficult problems by careful consideration. So it was that he'd earned a reputation for hanging around the quad staring at people and places before approaching them, which in all honesty hadn't done much to make him any friends outside of the small circle that centered around the people who'd fought Mr. Archer, exposed a cybernetic infiltration of Claremont, and kicked the ass of some of the top students of the school. They didn't have a name for themselves. Everyone already knew who they were. Considering his options carefully from the tree branch that he'd taken his lunch on, Riley finally decided to bite the bullet. Jumping down from his perch, he executed a neat little roll before walking up to the young woman just finishing her lunch outside, chattering little monkey in tow. "Hey, Sanderson!" He pitched his voice loud, so she knew he was coming. Even when he didn't mean to be, he was quiet - and Raina didn't like being snuck up on. He could appreciate that. "Gotta thing. You gotta minute?" He looked presentable enough, with nothing deadlier than a hatchet on his jean-clad hip, and a tablet from several years ago in his hand.
  16. Gizmo


    Winifred was still relatively new to being a friend, having been something of a consummate loner growing up in her native time period but she liked to think that she managed to be a reasonably good one, uncontrolled bouts of mass destruction aside. Certainly she still managed to be better socialized than the majority of her circle of peers, enough so that she'd been quick to scoop up her bag and borrowed music player and make her excuses when her roommate's boyfriend had knocked on their door. She'd almost let curiosity get the better of her once and asked Robin how exactly that worked before deciding that neither upsetting her friend or sitting through a detailed explanation were outcomes she particularly wanted. The Victorian was much happier to simply give the couple their privacy. That did leave her somewhat at loose ends, however. Normally she would have put in some time in the chemistry lab but the most interesting equipment there was in the process of being repaired or replaced and as those weren't entirely unrelated facts she had been strongly encouraged to find other ways to spend her time until further notice. The weather had turned brisk enough to discourage a trip outdoors without a destination in mind and the common room wasn't an appealing option, not at a time of day where she knew it would be crowded; the altercation with Madison and her squad hadn't done Winifred's reputation around campus any great favours. The miniature in-ear speakers Matthew had lent her made avoiding conversation while traversing the halls considerably easier but she'd found they did distressingly little to discourage interruption while sitting in one place. Sighing quietly to herself she placed them in her ears and gingerly pressed the triangular button on the player. Perhaps Raina and Cathy would allow her to hole up in a corner of their room for a while. It wouldn't be much warmer than the quad but the Scot was always eager enough to lend a wool jumper to any visitors.
  17. Content note: transphobia, profanity June 2016 11PM The Doom Room In the Doom Room, Riley was on edge. The training room itself was empty, its holographic displays silent while he waited for the rest of the team. He had taken the opportunity to polish and clean his bow, its gears half-disassembled on the plastic floor, and was crouching there as he worked. He was going in without a plan. He hated going in without a plan. Late night training, no notice about the scenario (which was pretty common, especially in the last few months) and no notice about who he'd train with (which was pretty common too), described by Mr. Archer as "the final event for the year." Not one to complain about his education, especially about combat training, Riley silently went about his work, his ears open to his surroundings even as his eyes focused on the work before him. It wasn't the first time he'd had to refurbish his bow without being able to watch his back.
  18. Initiative time. http://orokos.com/roll/423896 = Woodsman has 27
  19. Sunday April 24, 2016 Nuevo Laredo, Mexico There have been some interesting reports from Freedom City for the last few days - but honestly the news from Freedom City is usually full of something interesting or another. Nuevo Laredo was a dangerous city - its status as the busiest inland port in Mexico made it a hotbed of cartel activity, crime and violence such serious problems that even families separated by the border only met on the American side to avoid the risk of street violence. And yet even so, the people that lived there lived better than any prole in the Terminus - better than those people could have dreamed. In the trainyards, as the local security monitored the loading of Dragonfly's new electronic decompilers into the cars of the Southern Pacific, Steve Murdock brooded on these thoughts, and more besides, his dark mood a strange contrast to the "Pixar-blue" sky overhead complete with perfect white puffy clouds dotted here and there. "Thank you for coming, Echo," he said in a moment when his speedy teammate joined him on top of the train where he crouched, watching the work. Of all the Interceptors, Echo was the one with the simplest passport card - no wonder, for a woman who could cross borders when it suited her fancy. "The men appreciate seeing an American superhero - and I appreciate a comrade here. I apologize I am not a better companion." And with that, as he had been doing so often since they arrived, he fell silent. - Getting assigned as a superhero 'ridealong' to the famous Asad had proven to be a real coup for Sparkler and El Huracan - the wealthy playboy had had no real superbattles to fight during a week when business had taken him down to south Texas to supervise the acquisition of Multimedios Radio, one of the largest Norteño stations in the region, a gateway towards making a real financial push into the relatively untapped media market that was northern Mexico. Now he'd crossed the border to actually sign the papers that would make this territory part of his business empire, bringing with him his business staff and the two teenage heroes who hadn't had very much to do this week. The Crowne Plaza Hotel might not have been very big at 12 stories high - but it was the largest building in Nuevo Laredo. From the penthouse suite that Asad's party had rented for the occasion, the group could see out over the struggling city. From this high up, and behind glass, it was impossible to see the city's troubles, or hear them; just to see a nice, sunny day and a thriving commercial metropolis below them. The streets all around here were crowded with semitrucks, thicker than any the teens had seen even back in major cities in the States, making things far easier for those who could fly.
  20. Talya was really at her limit of clever ways to disguise a pregnancy and while she could probably call in a favor for an image inducer, or get extraordinarily creative, she wasn't about to go through that effort for the classes she taught. For most classes, it simply meant that she stopped with concealing wardrobe and suffered through the well meaning well wishes of the students that she worked with. There was one student, however, that warranted a little more effort than that. It had been a few weeks since Raina's last session at the studio between school and apocalypses, and that sort of thing. It was only now that Claremont had gotten back into the swing of extracurriculars. The Espadas school was familiar and it wasn't unusual for the desk to be unmanned, especially if the teachers were setting up or tearing down for classes in the dojo proper. What was unusual was a small note on the counter attached to a very small Tiffany's box sitting on the countertop. In Talya's elegant handwriting, it said simply "Keep your shoes on today." Inside the box was a sterling silver keyring, empty but for an elegant pendant in the shape of a stylized lock on one side.
  21. Early February 2016 The weekend came and went - and Riley and Robin weren't back on campus from their weekend furlough. After classes on Monday, the RAs, with serious faces, assured Woodsman and Nighthawk's friends that the school knew where they were. On Tuesday, Headmaster Summers made a general announcement that Robin Chevalier had been seriously injured in the field and was currently recovering at McNider Hospital. These things didn't happen that often at Claremont; but there were procedures in place for counseling, for making cards, for hospital visits - it was something the staff all had in hand. There was no need to cut school, not when visiting hours would still be open in the evening. Of course, all that assumed you wanted to listen to staff in the first place. - Robin hadn't wanted to go to the hospital - hadn't wanted to go at all. But the personal intervention of Headmaster Summers, who had met the pair of them at the Goodman Building clinic on Sunday night, had changed her mind; largely with the reassurances that a false name would get her in the system without any risk of the system finding her again. McNider was the oldest hospital in Freedom City. They'd been discreetly taking care of superheroes for decades now. Riley'd gone to the hospital too, mostly to make sure he hadn't irradiated himself when he'd grappled Tesla Atom at the moment she'd been bisected by the forces between dimensions. He wound up calling from Robin's room, though, carefully punching out digits on the hospital phone. It was Tuesday mid-morning, right? It had been easy enough to lose track the last day, when all he'd been thinking about was the burned, bleeding woman on the bed, the one he'd have given his heart for. Luckily she was asleep - for now.
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