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Found 163 results

  1. Did I never start an OOC for this? Shame, shame! I did promise some actual numbers - so @Gizmo, let's see a Tactics check from you. @Electra, you can take Erin's Notice for Skill Mastery (which may not be high enough), or you can roll it - with the caveat that it's what _all_ the Erins will roll.
  2. July 13, 2018 Midnight Manor Even now, Midnight Manor was one of the safest places in Freedom City. "Sea Devil and Singularity have made contact with Foreshadow. The plan is in motion." Redbird had been more subdued than usual lately - hadn't they all? Even with the evacuations the dead, wounded, and missing in Freedom City were four, maybe five figures; not to mention the heroes, no, the friends they'd lost. "Good." Through his radio link to the Manor, Harrier spoke with the slow, deliberate intonations of a man whose breathing came with difficulty. "Are you prepared?" He'd done his best to help them. They had a map of their destination, a rough sketch of its likely defenses, and more besides - Steve had stayed up all night, multiple nights, dictating to Redbird when Wander and Midnight had been deployed to the action. There was very little else he could do. While the others talked, Mark studied the screens showing the continued carnage of the fight in Freedom City - maybe it was all confined to an isolated few areas this time, maybe this was just touches of Hell on Earth instead of the real thing. He closed his eyes and thought of Nina and Richie, safely away from all this - unless all this spilled out over everything, and took them just like it had taken his friends in the DuTemps Building. When we get back here - I need to fix things.
  3. August 2, 2017 Freedom Medical Center Keeping things low-profile, as was the plan, meant that any image Mark had had of landing on the rooftop were quickly stifled by the reality of the need to look like any typical expectant family and friends arriving at the hospital late at night. Redbird dropped them off at the front doors and they headed inside, where the front desk attendant quickly directed them towards the secure elevator to the maternity ward. On the sixth floor. As the elevator ascended, an ominous rumble came from somewhere in the shaft - but Mark looked up and declared out loud, “No!” And with that, they continued to their destination, where as parents in labor but not particularly active labor, Mark and Nina were immediately handed a large pile of forms. Ready to walk around instead of wait, Nina handed them quickly to Mark. By the time they were about to head for their secure room, two visitors arrived. Iyar al-Iryani was the first of the extra guests to arrive, sweeping Nina up in a careful hug briefly stymied by another contraction. But Nina seemed to appreciate the company, and Iyar took her other hand. “Just think, Nina,” said Iyar with animation on her face. “Someday this day will be a holiday.” “You’re right,” said Nina, smiling at the thought. “This will be a good day - no, a great one.” “Thank you so much for all this,” Iyar said to Trevor and Erin, her accent notably thicker than her friend’s. “You will be remembered on this day.” She knew the Liberty League well enough to know who had planned all this. Exchanging a glance with Erin Trevor suggested, “Best left out of history books, maybe.” Having a commemorative plaque in their honor in some Socotran municipal park might be tough to explain down the line. Something reminiscent of a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth all the same. “Will settle for favourite American uncle.” Erin had stationed herself at the entrance to the elevator lobby, keeping an eye on the stairs and the banks of elevators all at once. She was close enough to hear the conversation, but far enough away from the action for comfort. Part of her job in the grand scheme of things had been screening content to show to Mark to keep him grounded in the reality of normal childbirth, and it had been… educational. Now that she was married and in her twenties, the idea of wanting children wasn’t nearly as foreign to Erin as it would’ve been even five years ago, but the getting of them was still a daunting proposition. “Yeah, aunt and uncle should work just fine.” “Oh, you guys…” Mark was close to tears, maybe because the moment was so emotional, maybe from fatigue, but Nina, still walking around, was articulate enough to say, “Thank you both so much. We owe you our lives, and so does our son, as soon as he makes his way out here…” Things got a little more complicated with the arrival of Martha Lucas, carrying a grandmother’s big bag of goodies over her shoulder and looking a little out of breath. Things weren’t exactly frosty between Mark’s mother and the rest of the Liberty League, but they weren’t quite friendly either - not with the lingering memories of what she’d done to Mark when he’d been in high school just before the barely-prevented end of the multiverse. But Mark had put those memories aside and obviously wanted his friends to do the same - especially today! Luckily they had this small suite of rooms and waiting room to themselves tonight - even in Freedom City, the metahuman wing of the hospital wasn’t so crowded in the dead of night when there wasn’t a major super-battle going on. Hot on Martha’s heels came Dr. Hussein, the Iraqi-born physician who was working as Nina’s primary ob-gyn. The hijab-wearing woman was no-nonsense and intimately familiar with all sorts of metahuman health issues, particularly maternal ones - she was exactly the kind of person Mark and Nina had been hoping to find. “All right, it’s time to go to work,” she said briskly. “Mother, let’s get you in your room - Father, we’re going to need you in just a few minutes…” Mark had been sitting his mother down and making sure she had her books and her sketchpad, now with Nina heading off to the delivery room, he found another moment for Erin and Trevor. “Okay, guys - I’ll keep you updated as much as I can. In another couple of hours, you’re going to meet my son!” He hugged Erin, and he hugged Trevor, and seemed to take a moment to gather himself, pushing aside his own nerves and jangling emotions for the support role he was going to play. “I’m gonna be a dad!” And with that, he headed off to join his wife in their hospital room! Nina and Mark had discussed their birth plan with Trevor and Erin ahead of time, just to make sure everyone knew what was what. Nina had intended to use an epidural and take her chances with a possible C-section, but strong painkillers and other sorts of sedatives usually made her powers unstable. That meant a natural birth, albeit one spent mostly in the tub full of warm water that Mark had practiced making until he could practically do it in his sleep. Since this was Nina’s first pregnancy, what that really meant for the people outside the delivery room was a lot of waiting as the hours of the late morning crept by into dawn, punctuated by occasional sounds from inside the room (mostly of Nina’s music, an Eritrean pop star she found soothing) and texted updates from Mark. Hours ticked by - not enough for it to actually be light outside but it was definitely thinking about it out there . Martha Lucas set aside the drawing of Mark and Nina she was working on and immediately dozed off in her chair. Iyar talked with Trevor and Erin about the refugee resettlement service where she volunteered - and then the lights flickered, just slightly, then again. Though they came back on, the effect was unsettling, especially when Erin and Trevor’s communicators both chimed with the fuzzy, static-heavy sound of Redbird’s voice. “<empora> <ncursio> <ospita>. <eav> <nterferenc>.”
  4. January 20, 2017 Port Regal "It's beautiful," said Mark, peering at the image Nina had found. "I love the lacework on the veil - and you've always looked good in white." Perhaps white wasn't the traditional color under the circumstances - but when he'd mentioned that the other day Nina had not been terribly happy with him. "I'll take you over as soon as we're done talking to everyone." Sitting next to his fiancee on their living room couch, he tried to keep his stomach from lurching with excitement as he remembered the purpose of the planned conversation. He'd kept Nina's secret because he loved her, but it had made January one of the hardest months of his life. "It's fine enough," agreed Nina, tabbing over to the page for her personal notebook.. Looking at the dresses had been Mark's idea - having found a satisfactory one, she'd already moved to the next step. "After I wear it, I can donate it to the Women's Center - Malikah's getting married this summer and she can alter it as she sees fit." The dress would do for their civic service in Freedom City in a month. For the wedding to come in Socotra's Great Mosque, when she would be her father's...overthrower, she would need something much more elaborate than this. Mark gave no sign that he followed Nina's thoughts, instead kissing her on the cheek and rising to his feet. "Okay, it's 10:30...I should start the frittata so it'll be ready when they get here." Only an hour and a half left! Mark and Nina lived in a gated seaside development - just the place for two Freedom City residents who had wanted a house and Mark headed into the kitchen. "Everything will be okay," he said aloud, stepping around the bookcase and firing up the oven. "We'll have them over, we'll feed them, we'll tell them we're getting married in February because we're going to have a baby. It'll be a surprise - but everything will be great."
  5. December 2016 Hunter-White Mansion It was snowing outside, thick and heavy, unusually so for this part of New Jersey at this time of year. But that hadn't put Riley off - the wiry teen was working in the garage of the Hunter-White Mansion, putting in the hours for his part-time job here with classic cars. A lot of things had changed in his life and at the school in the last year - but not his job and his relationship with Erin and Trevor Hunter-White. He'd closed the garage door as he worked but left the outside door open, the direction of the wind meaning that only a small amount of snowflakes were actually blowing into the increasingly cold room. He'd turned off the room's heaters as he worked, and even his sensitive hearing could detect nothing other than the wind and the sound of his tools as he carefully tested the troublesome headlights of this 1931 Model A Ford. On and off, on and off, but he couldn't get a steady illumination despite what he knew were perfectly good bulbs. Must be the wiring, he thought as he stepped out over the running board, a fuzzy knitted hat atop his shaved head.
  6. September 2016 Lincoln Dancia had spent a week away from the office, covering a story about the new generation of West African nuns who were taking over an isolated Franciscan nunnery down on the Maurice River in southwestern New Jersey. it had been a fascinating story and a chance to meet people she might never have met, but the nunnery's remote location had left her isolated from world events. No sooner had she arrived back at the Ledger that she had a stack of urgent messages - including one from a familiar UNISON agent asking her to arrange a meeting with Triakosia at a remote cliffside lookout spot near Lonely Point. "This is an urgent meeting. Please let me know as soon as you've arranged it - and when we can see her there."
  7. December 2015 Voidrunner When the big barracuda-like ship didn't follow them, Aquaria croaked in noisy relief before settling down into her seat. As she did so, she realized just how much her relief was mixed by fear. Despite impossible odds and impossible distances, things had come through for Sea Devil and Singularity, for Aquaria and Jessie. It wouldn't be long now before they were back in the Solar System - a concept she only hazily understood but that she knew meant they were close to Earth, and close to a return to the home she and Jessie had been trying to get back to for weeks. Close to trouble. She was acutely aware, twitching in her seat, of all that had happened - of how her pride had sent them to the stars, of how her anger had gotten that Surfacer killed, and of how all the stars of space had seemed to be against them on their journey. She knew, too, that her life in Freedom City was not her own - she was a symbol of the fear and loathing that Surfacers had for her kind, and a criminal to boot. With all that she'd done, what would happen when she returned? Blackstone again? Perhaps Atlantean custody? Or maybe just exile - a banishment to the waters off Freedom's coast where she was an outcast among all who lived beneath the waves. Turning to her still night-catatonic friend, Aquaria took a long breath and released it as a deep, almost subsonic, bellow. Jessie would be home in the world of her birth, surrounded by her people, away from the world that Aquaria had thrust her into. That was what mattered. Through the blood of sacrifice, I gain power, she thought, closing her big goggle eyes. Through the blood of sacrifice, we are free. Up front, the dinky little Terran comet belt station had just hailed the Voidrunner.
  8. Spring 2016 Greenbank Warehouse District The Gaia's Liberation Front meeting was going well - the activists inside were ready to move to direct action against the corporate oppressors of the planet. All was going well, Pierre thought as he stepped out into the alley to light a cigarette. Just as his match flared to life; a hatchet appeared at his throat. "Hey, jackass," Woodsman whispered in his ear, glad that for once he'd found a criminal shorter and slighter than he was. "You say a word and you're gonna be crapping that match out your ears!" Dammit, Riley thought, embarrassed, why is it so hard when I know people are watching!? "Yeah, you heard me. Now talk. Where'd you put the goddamned dynamite? Or do I have to give you a shave first?"
  9. Early spring was a good season for the rare auto restoration and preservation business, with all the aficianados and diletantes opening their garages and sheds after a long winter's hibernation. Soon there'd be car shows and leisurely Sunday drives in the nice weather, but for now Trevor was up well past his elbows in tune-ups and body work. Even with Riley Smith-Quinn from Claremont helping out, there was more work than could be done during normal working hours. By the time Trevor came in from work on the first Friday in March, Erin was long since home from work, camped out in the living room with half-a-dozen binders spread around her. "Hey," she greeted him with a quick smile. "Grab a shower and get in here, I've ordered Chinese. We gotta get some of these wedding plans knocked out before Alex takes matters into her own hands."
  10. "Okay, so what do you think about this?" Erin rested her back against the front passenger door of the Maserati convertible and studied the binder in her lap. She addressed her question to Trevor's legs, since they were the part sticking out from under the car. "We have the wedding in May, on the grounds here, over by that pond Aquaria's been mucking out. We get a trellis and a little platform built, rent a bunch of chairs, and have a florist do up a whole pile of flowers and cattails and stuff so it looks nice out there. Then we clean out the second floor ballroom, get a serious waxing done on the floor and have the bulbs in the chandeliers replaced, and have a reception in there? Easy, and we don't even have to go anywhere."
  11. October 2015 Riley sat alone under the tree, methodically field-stripping his crossbow, his physics textbooks tucked away in the thick grass at his feet. So Headmaster Summers, after a serious conversation with him and promises of a serious conversation with his instructors, had set up a meeting with a famous superheroine. He'd heard of Erin White, of course, and the students of Young Freedom who'd helped save the world so many times. He didn't really care about most of them, half of whose names he didn't even know, but Erin White was someone whose name he knew very well. Alone in isolation in the Goodman Building, Riley ran his hands across the words carved into the bathroom wall. My name is Erin. He'd heard plenty about the dimensional refugee, or at least enough to know he wanted to learn more. But she's prolly gonna talk with me about not shooting anyone in the damn head, he decided gruffly. Like I haven't heard enough of that already. No one looked his way as he held his impervium bolthead up to the sunlight - something which didn't surprise him a bit after that damn accidental video had gotten around. Everybody knew the story. Bolt in hand, he judged the bolt by the way it reflected the light, the glow showing how unmarred the surface of the bolt was. Impervium could be a tricky thing, especially when you were working with scraps.
  12. Hunter Manor was quiet that evening, stately as ever in the waning summer light, with the sort of dignity that belied its crimefighting secret identity. The peace was marred momentarily by a rush of black inkblots appearing from nowhere, swirling into a vortex, and then disappearing, leaving behind three people on the front porch. Erin smoothed her hair as the last dots disappeared, finally used to the weird method of transport after all these years. "Come on," she urged the others. "Not likely anybody's going to notice you here, but why take chances?" She opened the front door wide and walked in, automatically checking to make sure all was well. The doors opened onto a handsome foyer, slightly dusty, with the air of a place that was pretty well cared for, but could use a housekeeper once a week. "Hey Trevor, you home?" she called into the house. "Mark and Mike are here, Mike needs a place to hide out!"
  13. July 1, 2015 Project Freedom The sunlight streaming in the window woke Ackwareeaa from dreams of the sea. Opening her eyes, Aquaria smacked her green-white lips for a moment, taking stock of the day - before she realized what day it was. "We are getting out today!" She bounded out of her tub at those words, splashing just a few drops of water on the ground as she excitedly hopped around, legs bent and palms flat against the concrete floor of her room. "Woo-hoo!" She wanted to jump into the bathroom and yell to Jessie, but she couldn't hear her friend moving around and didn't want to scare her. Jessie didn't like to be scared. Leaping up onto the wall, she padded along the walls to her closet, carefully picking her way past her many art therapy pictures still stuck to the walls. Once at her her closet, she began sorting through her very small personal wardrobe for what she was going to wear, leaning into the tiny corner with her long, long arms. She needed to look like a Surfacer if she was going to go out among them - today especially! She settled on what she usually did - a white T-shirt that hung oddly on her triangular torso, Capri pants that fit her legs, and...she looked down at the bottom of the closet, where her enemies were waiting for her. A frown crossed her muzzle as she bent down to pick them up, holding one each between fingers and a thumb. They were long by Surfacer standards and bulgy at the ends; and too dry even when she put in the special moisturizing inserts. Shoes. She didn't really understand why Jessie had dubbed these "clown shoes" - her nose was green and white, not red, and she didn't look anything like those costumed Surfacers, but the name had stuck. "I'll put you things on last," she informed the shoes before returning them to her closet corner. Opening the door to her bathroom, she checked the shared clock in there. "It's only six-thirty! Jessie's probably still sleeping," she fretted, wriggling her tongue back and forth in her mouth against all those Ss. "I will get ready first and surprise her. Okay, Aquaria, time to get ready," she told the Deep One in the mirror, experimentally flexing her throat sacs as she spoke, bulging her neck out as big as a Surfacer's closed fist. "I am a good member of society! I am first! I have a job for the Hunter family in North Bay. I am a groundskeeper! I am going to live in the DuTemps Building in Room 437 with my best friend, Jessie White." She raised two thumbs in front of the mirror, then realized her crest was sticking up! Not wanting to embarrass herself, she reached up to begin patting it down. "<I am calm. I am cool,>" she told the face in the mirror. "<I am...speaking Lemurian.>" With an effort, she forced her mouth back to the odd shape of English. "Bre-ek-ek, coax, coax...bleah. I am somebody people want to live near. I am...awesome!" She picked up a towel and wrapped it around her head. "Ooh, look at me, I'm a Surfacer!" she said in a dry, growly voice that was her best imitation of the Surfacer accent. "I wear clothes and eat plants! I My skin is made of sand, I think I need some lotion, don't you! Hee-hee!" She turned and banged on the door to the other room. "Jessie!" she called. "It's this day!"
  14. Date: Late August, 2015 "Just a minute!" Alex called out from behind her closed bedroom door and where she was eyeing the articles of clothing already discarded across her bed. "Almost ready." Now, she'd never been one to really debate a clothing choice. Alex, after all, embraced her own aesthetic with a whole hearted cheerfulness but apparently the one thing she didn't own was something fit for crime fighting in muted colors. She wasn't sure which of them had brought up the entire idea of getting 'back on the horse' so to speak of super-hero'ing but as it was a chance to spend time together with her best friend and, also, a chance to fly - passing it up had never even crossed Alex's mind. Of course she could wear her old costume. It wasn't like she'd grown much since high school, but Psyche's short skirted ensemble would probably have read very differently on a twenty-something lady. Alex really didn't need to see that appear on a magazine cover. Ever. "Okay, I think I'm ready." She stepped out after pulling the turtleneck on over her head and grabbed a light sweater, giving Erin a hesitant look. "Is this okay?" At least the jeans were dark blue but over that she'd put on a turtleneck that could most charitably be described as 'pumpkin'. The sweater was black, at least, but shot through with a sparkly silver yarn. It would have been perfect for Halloween but since it was August, it was really just Alex. "It's a black sweater!"
  15. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Illustration from the end of this thread. Complete!

    © K Keppeler

  16. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Tweaked the hair to make it more auburn

    © K Keppeler

  17. From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Updated version of the old profile picture I did for Wander / Erin for Young Freedom

    © Alderwitch

  18. Electra

    Midnight Elegy

    Monday, April 13, 2015 10:30 AM Earth It was a Monday morning when Erin made it back to Earth, nearly six full weeks after she'd taken off for her first space adventure since her Curator-enforced vacation. She blasted in out of a clear blue sky, her life-support suit holding in both her oxygen supply and her wildly triumphant shout as she and Redbird made their re-entry at white-hot speeds. As soon as they dropped enough altitude for there to be atmosphere, she pulled off her helmet and drew in a deep lungful of air. "God, it's so good to be home!" she crowed. "Space is nuts. Let's leave it to the aliens for awhile," she suggested to her AI companion as they arced towards the familiar skyline of Freedom City. She was half-tempted to dive off the motorcycle at twenty-thousand feet and splash down in the Great Bay, wash away the grime of a month and a half without a proper water bath. Sonic cleaners did an adequate job of keeping dirt and smell at bay, but she never truly felt clean after using one. That would wait, though. Instead, she steered the motorcycle northward, towards home. "I guess maybe we should've called ahead," she decided. "He'll probably be in school at this hour. But that just means we can surprise him when he gets back." In just a few minutes they were touching down on the smooth paved roundabout in front of Hunter Manor, which was currently picturesque with a full spread of carefully tended flowerbeds and green lawn. Erin took another moment to enjoy solid Earth beneath her feet, then vaulted the front steps to go in the front door. "Hello, I'm home!"
  19. Lor Timemark 1329.8 - March 1, 2015 Garron-9, Garron System Trooper Ekna Veiu sat strapped into the back of the transport ship between a Lor mentat clone with a lantern jaw and a member of a scale covered species he couldn't name and tried to steady his breathing. He'd never planned to be a soldier but then the Communion had ripped through the Khanate, leaving the precious few survivors to flee or be turned into monsters. The Lor loved to talk about never forgetting Lor-Van but they hadn't been the only people to lose a homeworld and they weren't the only ones who'd wanted to fight back. Ekna was seventeen stellar cycles old; that had seemed like so long sitting around on his family farm waiting for his life to start, old enough to enlist with the Coalition forces, certainly. As the ship shook from atmospheric turbulence and he clenched his grey-green hands all he think about was whether or not he'd see his eighteenth cycle celebration. There weren't any enemy ships in the skies above Garron-9, at least. There didn't need to be. What had once been a densely populated border world with almost a billion inhabitants was now a solid sphere of computronium, a planet-sized server to add to the Communion's processing power. A billion people converted into raw materials and 'antibodies', the mindless, shrieking foot soldiers of the enemy. This was only Ekna's second deployment but he'd already gotten to see those up close and personal. They'd lost that moon but he'd acquitted himself well, getting his wounded sergeant to safety. They'd given him a commendation for that. They didn't mention the rest of his squad when they shook his hand. He didn't mention the night terrors he'd had ever since. That was how he'd ended up as part of one of four squads deploying to Garron-9 with a simple mission: fight their way through and take down a communication relay, in theory briefly blinding the Communion in the adjacent sector long enough for something apparently above his pay grade. Troopers didn't need to know the big picture, he guessed. He looked up from his knees and immediately regretted it as he saw the Grue strapped in across from him scowling right at him. At least Ekna thought the Grue was scowling. It was hard to tell with no mouth. He immediately looked back down regardless. Most of the other troopers were more experienced soldiers and most of them had experience fighting against those who were suddenly their allies. Tensions were always high but the calm before the storm was always the worst. Then again, at least he knew what a Grue was. Each squad had been assigned a commander for the mission, though Ekna got the impression the rank wasn't exactly official. One of them was a stern Lor officer with no patience for excuses; he'd met a lot of those in the past months. The Zultasian told a lot of jokes and laughed loudly, all swagger and confidence. Ekna had never seen anything like the grey skinned woman with the cybernetic tail, though, and even though the forth commander didn't look all that much older than him he'd heard some of the other soldiers say she wasn't really Lor but Terran and everybody had a friend of a friend with a horror story about a Terran. Ekna risked glancing up again to the back of the transport where all four of them were standing, holding onto handing straps and conversing.
  20. Go ahead and describe how your character got to this point and what they think about the others!
  21. April 24, 2015  Lantern Hill  The McCay Bridge, one of the oldest in Freedom City and the furthest upriver, got little use by the second decade of the 21st century. The traffic that the 19th century builder had hoped to capture had gone south to Freedom City proper in the years before Lantern Hill and Freedom merged together - and even Route 6 which runs through this part of town and over the Wading had gained a real bridge back in the 1940s during its initial construction. In need of repair, the McCay had long since been closed to truck traffic and was primarily used by commuters going back and forth between Hanover and Lantern Hill.  On the night of the 24th of April, Monsoon sat on one of the brick towers of the McCay and looked out at the water below, feeling the distant pressure of its movements. She'd grown up on an island filled with water and so Freedom City's amount of rivers had been pleasantly familiar - albeit sometimes unpleasantly cold. She could stand the bottom of the sea as befit a daughter of Typhoon, but the waters around Freedom City were cool this time of year! In summer-time, when the sun's rays warmed even the bottom of the river, then things were comfortable. She checked her smartwatch, wondering if her partner for the evening was going to arrive on time or not. She'd only met Travis Hunter a few times but had respected the drive that had remained in the old man - and respected him more when she'd seen the grief his death had brought Mark. Maybe she'd never had a grandfather, but she knew the obligations that came with family - and the grief that came when it was taken away. Not for the first time that evening, she thought of Socotra. 
  22. December 25, 2014 Freedom City Midnight Manor Late in the evening on Christmas Day, a Deep One sang an eerie song in the Midnight Manor, her body silhouetted by the darkness outside. "BUT I GET UP AGAIN! YOU'RE NEVER GONNA KEEP ME DOWN! WOO!" As her song finished and the strains of Tubthumping vanished into the quiet of what was sometimes one of many front parlors in the Hunter mansion, Aquaria leaped in the air and cheered, her smooth, wet skin glistening from the exertion of the vigorous karoake number. "I am awesome!" For their part, Mark and Nina both cheered and applauded - Mark hadn't been at all sure bringing the machine along was the right idea, but luckily Jessie's amphibian friend had practically snatched the karaoke machine up with her tongue and practically begged to go first. (Jessie had, blushingly, commented that Aquaria used to do this a lot before disappearing herself) Aquaria first approached Mark and Nina, since they had been the latest to the party - only arriving after Martha Lucas had turned in early and left her son and his girlfriend free for Christmas. "You guys want a turn? C'mon, don't be chicken!" Between Nina's competitive streak and Mark's natural showmanship, it wasn't long before the couple was standing in front of the computerized board, picking out their song - 500 Miles seeming to be an early favorite. Aquaria bounded over to join Erin and Trevor to watch the show, declaring, "Surface music is great, you can yell so loud when you're singing! And nobody complains!"
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