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  1. Fall 2019 Claremont Academy Gay-Straight Alliance First Meeting of the Year The tables were set with neatly baked rainbow cupcakes that Judy felt no more than the slightest temptation to eat, the walls hung with rainbow flag images and pictures from LGBT history, and the Recording Secretary of the Claremont Academy GSA (the only member of the club who hadn't graduated last year) was ready to greet the new arrivals as they headed into the converted classroom. She'd been a little nervous her first meetings as her sister's 'ally', sitting in a room full of people she'd been taught to believe were wrong, but Ashley's refusal to take an active role in the club had forced her to take an active role herself, and within a few months she'd found herself fitting right in. We gotta get some new members this year, she thought with a glance at Ashley, I can't be above secretary, because I'm an ally! With a smile, she flung open the door, gold cross gleaming around her neck, and said, "Howdy, y'all! Welcome to the GSA!"
  2. October 31, 2019 Lantern Hill "This seems awfully high-profile," said Judy uncertainly as she looked out the window of the historic mansion rented out on behalf of the federal government. "Tell me again why we're meeting the space people in the middle of town, on a night when the streets are crowded with people?" Judy had dressed for the occasion so she could 'pass' if spotted. Dressed in denim and a jacket, she looked vaguely like an outlaw with her domino mask, black cowboy hat, and the bandanna she was not leaving tied over her face unless absolutely necessary. "It's the easiest way to do something covert in Freedom City," said Ashley with an easy shrug, looking downright unrecognizable to her Claremont 'friends' in a black jacket and white dress shirt, a look that matched the other agents who were along for the ride today. "That is, do it in plain sight. The average person who spots their ship coming in, if they spot it at all, will think it's a superhero thing, and superheroes are too busy dealing with the usual Halloween magic BS to dwell on a ship they know is friendly. And if anybody does spot the Lor, well, they're just partygoers on their way to a party." As she spoke, she and the rest of Judy's team were heading down the corridor and towards the central atrium of the mansion - the better to be there when their contact arrives. "Ah guess that's why Ah don't do the planning," said Judy philosophically. A part of her rather wished they'd gone on to the haunted house Mia had been talking about, but of course going to an unvetted spookhouse wasn't something she was gonna be able to do in Freedom City - or ever, for that matter. Oh well, she thought, probably nothing scarier there than at the Hell House at the church back in Oklahoma City! She took another look at Ashley, narrowed her eyes, and said, "Agent George, are you wearing makeup?" Ashley smiled thinly, glad Judy was remembering to stick to protocol. "Ms. Cahill," she said with a smile, "I am officially off-duty once our guests are finished with their work and you're on your way back to school, which means there's a Halloween party out there with my name on it." Ashley was, in fact, wearing makeup - a striking red lipstick and a smoky eyeshadow, and she'd even freshly dyed the tips of her hair pink before coming out again. If she slept in on Friday, she could probably stay out as late as she wanted. Or...whatever. "Nice," said Judy, smiling back. She had never really liked Halloween, so she wasn't put out at the idea of missing Claremont's Halloween party - it wasn't like she could eat candy anymore. "Well Ah hope you get yourself a good treat." She distinctly detected a blush on her guardian's cheeks, and smiled even more broadly. Maybe she'll loosen up a little bit if she gets a boyfriend! It must be hard for her to find a date...
  3. Claremont Academy 10:30 am, August 28th, 2019 Weather: Sunny, 77 F, Wind E 15-20 mph The visitor's parking lot was packed. A sea of people bustled amidst vehicles and toward open, shining gates. Belongings, often with grunts of effort, were loaded onto carts. Laughter echoed from caravans trickling through the main entrance and the Quad. Hand-drawn signs pointed the way, each adorned with student messages. In time, the shadows of the twin dormitories provided respite to travelers. Staff and peer counselors dotted the trail, assisting overwhelmed students on their journey. Vice-Principal Dugan was the first new face to arrivals. Her table near the gates kicked off the journey. Mr. Marquez wheeled the circuit and kept visitors on course. Mr Kuzkin and Ms. Harcourt paced about the Kord and Carter dorms, respectively. Their task, to organize the move-in, appeared to have some success. At the very least, weary travelers could partake of cold refreshments and treats outside the main doors. While outside was organized chaos, the dorm halls were like herding cats. A din permeated the air. Dozens of students, parents, and guardians wandered in search of rooms. Boxes and bags transformed the hallways into obstacle courses. The excitement of new memories and old friends contrasted with worried hugs and goodbyes. If nothing else, the dorms were places of beginnings and endings. What are you doing this beautiful day? Moving into the dorm? Helping new students?
  4. October 12, 2019 Earth-B-Vacant-19 As they stepped through the portal into the other dimension, the first thing Daystar noticed was that it was quiet - with only the familiar background hum of her radio bracelets sounding in her ears, and the distant whisper of the radio transmitter in the nearby basecamp. The second thing was how everything looked. A lifetime in Oklahoma, then DC, had not prepared her for the fall splendor of Earth-Vacant-B ("not quite Sanctuary but with a lot more nature!"), a world frequently visited by Claremont students looking for their first taste of extra-dimensional adventure. This was a world where humans had never been evolved, one where whales filled the oceans, animals the vast forests of North America, and birds the skies. Fall here was chillier than back home, she supposed, though it wasn't really an issue for her - she slipped her hands in the pockets of her light windbreaker as she looked up at the vast forest of gold and red. "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this," she quoted under her breath, smiling in awe as she looked all around. For her part, Watchdog wasn't nearly so blown away by all the scenery - maybe because she'd been here ten years ago and had gotten crapped on by a whole lot of birds. "Let's keep moving," she murmured from inside her mask as they headed out into the center of the small encampment, where Mr. Jorgensen was waiting for them. Jorgensen was the school's new biology teacher, a smiling, easy-going guy who students sometimes took too much advantage of. He wore a plaid flannel shirt and jeans to greet the students as they stepped through the gateway, his thick beard adding to the impression of "hipster outdoorsman." "Hello everyone!" he called with a wave. "Keep moving and drop your stuff in the designated areas." This wasn't quite the rugged outdoor life of survival training; Claremont's small basecamp had places for tents, firepits dug, and even a generator and radio transmitter installed by previous generations of students. They'd been careful, though - outside of the small encampment here by the edge of the South River, there was little sign any humans had ever been here. And indeed, hardly any had...
  5. Shofet

    Late Arrival

    Claremont, Freedom City September 2, 2019 11:00 AM Mia sighed to herself as they ascended the stairs up to her new dorm. Most kids got something like a game console for their birthdays, instead she got the gift of boarding school. Which, in her opinion (which she respected very much), was rather stupid when both parents were still living in the city but somehow both her mom and dad had agreed that it would be “good for her” to live away from home. How, exactly, it would be good for her escaped her at the moment, but she was sure her parents could come up with some post-hoc justification. Her grandfather, Ahmed Mustafic, huffed and puffed behind her, carrying several boxes as he climbed the stairs. He was shorter than average, only standing 5’07”, with black hair and a thick broom like mustache. Considering how much darker he was than her, the only real sign that they were related, in her opinion, was their shared grey eyes. She turned to him, frowning. “You know, babo, you didn’t have to do this. I could have just teleported,” she said. “I have like… a dimensional storage thing, too.” Ahmed waved his free hand. “Nonsense!” he said, the faint traces of a Bosniak accent still clinging on despite decades in the USA. “I wanted to be here for you for your first day, sweetbean. At least to see you off, yes?” Mia sighed, and smiled. “I love you, babo.” “Good!” Ahmed responded. “That’s all I need.” They continued their climb until they made it to the third floor. They passed through the halls until they finally made it to room 302. Mia set down her guitar case and the box she was carrying, and knocked on the door. “Anyone home? I’m… This is the room I was assigned to. I’m here with my granddad, he’s helping me move in.”
  6. angrydurf

    Like a Girl

    Stomping through the airlock Fa'Rua slammed a fist against the close and cycle button and strode purposefully toward the cockpit. Her face was a stormy mask of seething outrage as she made her way through the ship. Jolan looked up from his console questioningly and sighed, "I take it then the interview did not go as planned?" He didn't need a diplomats training to see the truth in his words, nor a twins bond. He'd felt the oncoming storm since she left the colonial scout corps offices of course. So he wasn't surprised at her demeanor and had practiced carefully a response, "Fa'Rua such things always happen for a .." ""Don't you say reason." she coldly cut him off as she slung into the pilot seat, "Buckle up, I'll show them who can't perform under pressure." and slammed the emergency docking release. "I hardly think exiting the base without tower consent is going to improv...." Her brother didn't get a chance to finish before the ship dropped occ eht docking ring and she punched the engines to max quickly overriding the inertial dampeners to press them both into their seats. Over traffic controls complaints she wove effortlessly through the heavy traffic and shot free of the station making for the system rim as the computer started the jump calculations needed. As soon as they broke the heliosphere there was teh lurching twisting sensation of the space fold and they were flung thousands do parsecs to a distant lifeless system, "I don't want to talk about it Jolan." she growled as she stood and stopped toward the rear of hte ship, "I'll be in my bunk start the long distance scans." Flinging herself onto her bunk she glared death at the bulkhead for a long minute before flipping open her com pad and sliding into private mode. She flipped through the recent photos and conversations and let out sigh and thumbed open the chat window again. Hey you. You around. She hadn't bothered to check the terran time before sending the message. Nor did she wait for a response before continuing. What in the void is wrong with men. Why do they expect us to be twice as good as some square jawed jock still trying to figure out how to hold his flight stick to even consider us competent. Temperament under pressure my sweet ass. I'm under more pressure getting up in the morning then these old men have seen on their worst day. Sorry if you're busy I just needed to vent to someone who might get it and not spout platitudes. The messages came in fast and would leave whatever device Ashley had set to receive them buzzing enough to likely draw more than just the owners attention if she wasn't alone.
  7. GM The Painted Desert, Arizona October 3rd, 2019 14:00 PM Survival class, that was what the guest teacher had called it. If you were going to be a hero, then you could end up out in the middle of nowhere, and you needed to know what you could do to survive. The fliers on Blue Squad might have argued that they could just fly away, but the Doctor Alexander Macedon had not accepted any objections, and a day later, Blue Squad had found themselves in the Painted Desert in Arizona. They had all been given proper gear stuffed into heavy backpacks, and now they had been dropped off near the Rainbow Visitor Center by the van that had picked them up at the airport. Doctor Alexander Macedon looked like a man in the early 70'es. His skin was tanned by the sun, and seemed slightly leathery, from years of being out in the harsh sun. His thinning hair were grey, almost bordering on white, as was his scraggy, unkempt beard. He wore a black eyepatch over his left eye, with a pair of horn rimmed glasses over both eyes. A cowboy hat on his head, he wore a beige dress shirt, with the few buttons closests to his neck open, revealing his grey chest hair. He had rolled the sleeves up, with an brown bomber jacket stuffed into his backpack. He wore dark grey fatigue pants and a pair of heavy dark boots. Something about him made him seem even older, and one the way here, he had made it more than clear that he didn't want to do this or have anything to do with a bunch of super powered kids, but he owed someone a favor. Standing by the side of the road in front of the teens, Macedon held up a map, making sure they could all see it. "Listen up, kids. This map is our only clue to where we're goin'. We're gonna be crossing through the Painted Desert here, and we're gonna survive off the rations you've brought and what we can find, but make sure you don't do anything to harm the nature around here. No smashing rocks with any of your fancy gadgets or powers or anything like that. We're gonna go off road, and gonna end up at the Painted Desert Visitor Center, with some stops on the way. It's gonna take a while, so save on those rations." He made a short pause and lowered the map. "Now, who's up first for learning how to read and follow a map? Yer all gonna get yer turn."
  8. Fall 2019 The message came in from an alien on a distant planet in the depths of space - but then most of them did when you were in the Scout Service. Can i ask you something personal?
  9. OOC for this. @Avenger Assembled, @Thunder King, @TheAbsurdist, @secondling
  10. Evening 09/14/2019 Earth Time Inner orbital rings Psi2 Piscium and Claremont Academy Fa'Rua looked down at the scanner bank again them to the ships chronometer with a heavy sigh. Hours yet until she could wake Jolan for his shift. Hours longer before the ships scanner array confirmed this was another lifeless system with minimal resources and no viable colonial options. She thumbed open the Extranet Connection and drifted through the articles about the rebuilding efforts and rising crime on CoVic before closing the browser in disgust at the discourse around the Lor Senate elections. After another long minute of staring at the crawling progress of the scanner she popped the 'nt open again and dove into the more esoteric reaches and eventually a side loop to the terran internet. She smirks nd filled out the form on the lonely hearts site and started scrolling through the entries looking for someone who would be tolerant of a, long distance, relationship at best. She stopped and reread one before nodding to herself, "Well then. That'll fit the bill." She opened hte chat client and fired off a quick message: No judgement but what've you got against Andorians? She hit send then winced as she quickly ran the calculations for earth time in the temporal region noted in the profile. Who knows maybe they too were a night owl.
  11. September 2019 Kord Dormitory Fourth Floor Common Room 3 AM Anyone coming along on the fourth floor common room would have found it a quiet place this evening. The fierce Watchdog, guardian and protector of her sister Daystar, was sound asleep in a dark room, her head pillowed on the arm of the couch, while Judy sat on the other side of her feet. The room was dark, the TV and lights off, but Judy could see fine. She didn't like talking about that - about how she could see in the dark almost as easily during the day, about how her eyes glowed with a silvery-white phosphorescent fire when she did so. Normal people didn't do that. What she did like doing was knitting, a hobby she'd taken to with some enthusiasm on these evenings when Ashley was asleep and she was alone. Well, not entirely alone. The world buzzed with radio chatter here, as everywhere, but she'd learned to tune it out - almost. As her needle worked, she sang a soft acapella in the darkness, "Gonna take my horse to the Old Town Road, gonna ride till I can't no more..."
  12. April 2019 Outside the Common Room Leaning against the wall, the corridor mostly empty at this time of day, Watchdog's eyes were firmly hidden behind her sunglasses by the time Monica approached, a few minutes after the 'incident' out in the greenhouse. Normally she'd have let the other girl pass, but she picked up on the indications in Lady Liberty's manner that she actually wanted to talk. "Got a problem, Liberty?" she sneered.
  13. Watchdog/Daystar Power Level: 10/12 (197/197PP) Trade-Offs: +4 DEF/-4TOU, +4 ATK/-4DMG Unspent Power Points: 0 In Brief: Teenage sidekick turned Secret Service Agent pretending to be a teenage vigilante. Alternate Identity: Ashley Tran, Special Agent (United States Secret Service) Identity: Secret? Ish? Depends on who you ask. Birthplace: New Orleans, USA Occupation: Secret Service Agent, Superhero, Bodyguard Affiliations: Her charge, Jaycee Cahill Family: Phillip Tran [father, deceased], Mary Arbour-George [mother, living], William George [stepfather, living] Mary (1994), Cecilia (1997), Agnes (2001) and Phillipa (2003) [sisters, living] Age: 27 (DoB: April 1992) Gender: Female Ethnicity: Eurasian Height: 5'6" Weight: 145 lbs Eyes: Black Hair: Black, dyed pink at the tips Physical Description: Ashley is short and round-faced, with big eyes and a smile that makes it easy for her to pass as sixteen - not that she's doing a lot of smiling these days. She's grown her jet-black hair out for this mission and dyed the tips pink, another way to help herself pass as someone a decade younger than her actual age. She has the muscular build of a born athlete, with the clear physical power many martial artists develop. When not wearing her helmet, she sticks close to "Judy" and doesn't say much except when directly addressed or speaking to her 'sister', keeping most of her face hidden behind dark sunglasses and a near-perpetual scowl. She speaks English with no particular accent, though her French and Vietnamese have Louisiana and American accents, respectively. She usually dresses like a teenage girl trying to look like a punk, or at least push the dress code - leather jackets, dark T-shirts, and denim skirts or pants. In costume as Watchdog, she wears a grey armored outfit with a bright red snarling dog's face over the chest. Over that she wears a black and grey leather jacket with metal studs on the shoulders - and covering her head a modified motorcycle helmet painted the same red as her chest symbol. She wears fingerless black gloves on both hands while in combat. Her jacket comes with a hood that she usually keeps pulled up, the better to strike a more intimidating profile. At her lleft hip is a silvered pistol. Watchdog is, if anything, a sourer presence than Ashley - her helmet-muffled voice sounding tinny and artificial. Character History: Phillip Tran fled what had once been South Vietnam with his parents in the late 1970s, his family traveling through the Phillippines and Guam before their arrival in the mainland United States. They settled in New Orleans, with its heat, its French language, and its Catholic population. (His father had served in the South Vietnamese army and his mother was Hoa, an ethnic Chinese minority disliked by the new regime - they had ample reason to leave the country.) The Trans were determined that their son, only a small boy when they fled the country, would remember the nation of his birth and so taught him language, culture, and customs. When Philip was a young man, he did what his father had and joined the military - at eighteen, he enlisted in the US Army in 1989. Phillip served his adopted homeland well, fighting in Operation Desert Storm before returning to New Orleans East to marry his high school sweetheart Mary Arbour in 1991. They were a mixed couple, but Mary was a good Catholic and fluent in French - the Trans had no complaints. They settled in New Orleans East, where Phillip's military service got him a job with the NOPD, patrolling the neighborhood where he'd grown up. Phillip and Mary became the parents of five girls [(Ashley (1992), Mary (1994), Cecilia (1997), Agnes (2001) and Phillipa (2003)] and did their best to balance both worlds - Ashley grew up hearing English, Vietnamese, and French spoken in the household and in both school and afterschool programs, worshiping at the local Vietnamese Catholic Church, and was honestly very happy. Her father doted on her and passed on his deep love of his adopted homeland, its people, and his chosen career - law enforcement. Ashley loved her father and the neighborhood where she grew up - but unlike her father, she hoped to use service to others as a way up and out. Her way out, influenced by her dad's love for Clint Eastwood movies, was from an early age the United States Secret Service. Protecting the President, the symbol of American freedom, seemed like the coolest job in the world - she read about the long hours and thankless conditions, but she appreciated the need for sacrifice to get what you want. And what she wanted was the Secret Service and the Presidential Protective Detail. It would take years of training and study, especially since fate and genetics had given her a small frame that would make a lifetime of physical activity difficult. But she had the drive and the commitment to make it happen. But life had some curves to throw her way first. Ashley was thirteen when Katrina hit - thirteen when her father died. It was all very sad - a beloved local cop killed by a looter in the frantic days just after the hurricane, four little girls and one very pregnant widow left behind. She didn't believe it - despite what the outside media said, there weren't that many looters around, especially not in their relatively isolated neighborhood, and even those looters wouldn't shoot a police officer in the back for no reason anyone had ever been able to find. It didn't add up. But nobody wanted to hear it - especially not her grieving mother. A few months after her father's death, a month after her baby sister was born, her mother married one of her father's former partners - an Anglo man who was himself eager to get out of the damaged city. They moved to Lafayette, where her stepfather found a job as a campus police officer for the University of Louisiana - and Ashley made plans to get the hell out of town. When Ashley's powers first appeared on the Fourth of July, 2006, when Lady Liberty's appearance at the Lafayette, LA Fourth of July festivities ended with a certain teenager firing beams of golden light from her eyes and singing the National Anthem (an utterly mortifying experience that she is forever grateful took place just before the widespread adoption of the smartphone), Mary George almost didn't let her daughter go to Claremont even after the League helped keep the news of the "Copycat" out of the national news, and after the arrival of kindly headmaster Duncan Summers - not until it was made clear to her that the school was safe and that her daughter would be protected. When Ashley found out what the school was _really_ for, it wasn't hard for her to figure out what she wanted to do - she wanted to find the man who had killed her father! First came two years of hard training and discipline, learning everything she'd need to learn to be a superhero. What was a social life when there was work to be done? Maybe she studied too hard, and pushed her body to its breaking point - but what else was there to do? She had to find justice, even if no one else wanted to - or could. Ashley George's first time on patrol with the Raven changed her life. It was 2008 and she was sixteen, in her second year at Claremont Academy and honestly not sure if she wanted to be a superhero. She didn't have the flashy powers of many of her classmates, the first Next-Gen students like Bolt or Megastar, she wasn't a particularly outstanding student (though she did work hard, spending hours in the library every night), nor was she particularly happy in Freedom City, so far from her home in New Orleans. But the Raven saw something in Ashley she didn't see in herself - and so it was that 'Copycat' joined the Raven on patrol as an occasional sidekick. People who kept a close eye on Raven around the start of the current decade will remember Copycat in her full-face mask and cat-ears, the black and navy blue costume that she burned years ago. But never mind that. Ashley enjoyed adventuring alongside the famous hero, especially once she gained enough control over her energy-draining abilities to use them in the field - but truthfully she appreciated the private lessons more. She learned the Raven's "style-less" style of goju hand-to-hand fighting, learning how to take down men half again her size in hand-to-hand combat. She learned how to work a room and how to control a crowd with her voice and her eyes, letting darkness, mystery, and the occasional violent beating distract from the fact that she was just a petite girl whose superpowers generally didn't do much to make her bulletproof (except when she was fighting psychopaths who could punch through steel doors!) She learned other things too - Raven was Amerasian too and had also lost a parent to crime. Maybe it was their similarities that had drawn Raven to her - Raven wasn't much for talking. The problem was, after her senior year, Ashley wasn't one for listening - at least, not to Raven. Ashley George's break with superheroing began the spring of 2010; the day she caught the man who, ten years earlier, had murdered her father. On the one hand, it was incredibly satisfying. Raven and Copycat found the killer of her father in the spring of 2010, the culmination of two years of investigative work by the duo (both remotely and on-scene) that finally cracked after a lucky break. He made the mistake of fighting back when Raven crashed through his apartment door and Copycat through his window, and Copycat had the great pleasure of kicking him in the knee until he collapsed, then beating him into unconsciousness with the butt of his own shotgun. Ashley still lets herself go back to that moment when she needs something to get her blood pumping. On the other hand, it wasn't so satisfying at all. Paul Dubois was a drug dealer and a criminal, a man who had turned to marketing zombie powder and Zoom to impressionable young people in Ashley's old neighborhood. He was a bad man and taking him down was a great thing. But he'd turned to crime as a way of paying for his own addiction to zombie powder, a downward spiral that earned him a death sentence in the spring of 2012 when he was convicted of murdering Phillip Tran, an NOPD officer who had come across him cleaning out one of his drug stashes while the storm hit. It was hard to ignore how superhumans had made him worse rather than better, how a man who might have been able to turn his life around had only sunk further into the muck because of the gods and monsters of the world. She and Raven started arguing more after that, arguing about superheroes and supervillains, about how much good the former actually did when they weren't stopping world-ending threats. In the end, it was no one great thing that drove apart hero and sidekick, no great crisis that either of the two born 'fixers' could have solved. When Raven kept Copycat at arms length, endless tests and trials and secret drills only taught Ashley that her mentor valued her costumed identity more than her real self - when Raven kept Copycat close, the hidden reality of the superhero world showed her the underbelly of the gods and heroes - the dimensional vibrations where supers had gone to war with humans rather than protecting them, the criminals turned heroes who laughed at justice for their crimes, the Grue and other monsters hiding among innocent people, the codenames and secret identities and the endless secrets kept from a general public that supposedly couldn't "handle the truth". When Copycat left the Raven's side after graduation, it was not on good terms - and she didn't look back. She had better things to do. When Ashley graduated from Claremont Academy in 2010, she had her diploma and her associate's degree both - having taken advantage of the school's early college program during her time as the "workaholic wallflower." After two more years, she had her bachelor's degree in criminal justice (and a minor in political science) from Our Lady of Holy Cross College. After a lifetime of repression, college had been a breath of fresh air - she'd gotten drunk for the first time and smoked weed while she was at it and had her first real boyfriend - at least until he found out she was serious about not wanting to stay in New Orleans and that she wasn't interested in getting married right now. She had plans. First came three years (2012-2015) as a New Orleans police officer, wearing the star and crescent badge her father had died wearing, defending the New Orleans East neighborhood where she'd grown up. (Beyond her family ties, it's the largest American police force that doesn't ask questions about superpowers or vigilantism when you join - a legacy of the post-Katrina recruitment drives.) Eurasian and female, she was part of a tiny minority on the force - but she'd already been through much worse than anything the boys in blue could throw at her. She enjoyed the work, enjoyed patrolling the streets and keeping people safe, but nothing about being back in her old neighborhood changed her mind about her desire to move out of it. Her mother, sisters, and step-brothers were settling in fine in Lafayette; there was nothing for her here but ghosts. The laws dealing with superbeings and federal employment are complex - something Ashley knew even before she filled out her application to join the Secret Service. She had the grades, she had the physical training, and she certainly had the experience. She had to be careful about how she wrote about that last thing (given that Copycat had much more training in criminal justice than Ashley George could ever admit to having) - but her three years at the NOPD, her fluent command of French and Vietnamese, along with glowing recommendation letters from her former supervisor, turned out to be just enough to make the grade. She was young (at 23, just past the minimum age) and not powerfully built - but she had what the federal government was looking for. Of course, she _also_ had the meta-gene. With so many witnesses to her accidentally stealing Lady Liberty's powers as a teenager, and the extensive battery of first physical, then psychological tests she had to undergo once she admitted to having superpowers on a federal employment form, there was no hiding who she was. But she'd thought this through, and she made her case time and time again. Despite her powers she was all-too-human; and those powers could be tremendously useful as a government agent - she could shut down the powers of an attacking metahuman with a touch, and detect the hostile intentions of many different types of beings even before they attacked. Easy to overlook (albeit often mistaken for a teenager thanks to her youth, slight build, and rounded features), she could blend right into a group of agents until she had to go into action. The hard part was avoiding AEGIS. After the mandatory ten week AEGIS training course for metahumans working for the federal government, almost all of them wind up working for AEGIS in some capacity or another - but Ashley wasn't interested. Working with AEGIS would put her too close to the worst parts of the life she left behind, with its codenames and its secrets, and she wanted the best parts instead - the bravery, and the courage, and the principles, to risk your life for another because it was the right thing to do. As the first superhuman agent of the Secret Service, her promotions were fast-tracked - within certain limits. She was in her mid-twenties (and had only been an agent for a year and a half) when she was assigned to the White House, but only to manage the file room in the basement. She liked it there, only called 'upstairs' when the President was meeting with superhumans of some character or another (usually the members of the Dream Team), where she usually stood discreetly off to one side in her sunglasses and dark, conservative clothing, making sure that President Cahill (a man popular with his detail) stayed safe. She wasn't actually part of the Protective Detail - but it was still pretty damn good. Then came D-Day. On March 15, 2018, there was an incident at the White House. The general public is aware that all the radios and other electronic gadgets near the White House went dead, some of them permanently, for a good hour and a half. The Secret Service, Capitol Police, and other law enforcement agencies in Washington went on high alert that afternoon and the whole city went into lockdown for 24 hours. The general public believes that the incident was the result of a terrorist attack by robotic members of the Foundry - an attack foiled by the Secret Service. This is a lie. What really happened was that Jaycee Cahill nearly set the White House on fire. 'Sick in bed' with agonizing migraines, she was the source of the sudden 'radio black hole' that made it appear that every radio and other wireless signal in the White House had gone dead. In the process of being evacuated from the terrorist attack along with her mother and younger sister, it was she who generated an EMP powerful enough to keep Marine One from flying - and then in a sudden burst of microwave energy, emit a pulse powerful enough to nearly kill her family and Secret Service detail as their internal temperatures raised to dangerously high levels. It was Agent Ashley George, running at full speed across the White House lawn even as the grass began to smolder around the frightened teen (who had run, hands to the side of her head, from the landing pad on the South Lawn), who saved the day, grabbing Jaycee by her pressure points and holding her as she drained the energy that powered the teen's radiation. She saved the First Family, she saved her fellow agents, and she probably stopped the irradiation of a significant number of White House staff and tourists. And it was Agent Tran who was on point for the news of what had followed - about Jaycee's powers couldn't be turned off or suppressed, about how she needed to learn how to use them or she would die - and so would a hell of a lot of other people if she stayed in the White House. So what could they do? Could they really tell the world that the President's daughter had power enough, theoretically, to fry an entire city - power that had come from alien DNA that blood tests found in the President and his three daughters? There had to be another way. Ashley's not sure if this was the right way, though. She was desperately improvising when she reached out to Claremont on behalf of the Cahills, desperately improvising when she suggested a plan to both the President and to the former Raven - and it worked. Judy and Ashley Smith are refugees as far as anyone knows, from a world where the heroes failed and the Grue are everywhere, and the former is getting trained to be a hero while the latter watches her back. But how many lies is she going to tell? Have her efforts to save Judy only corrupted her? Has she served the country she loves so much - or has she made it worse? When she looks at herself in the mirror, she doesn't know who she is anymore... Complications: Agent: Ashley is technically a sworn law enforcement officer, but doesn't act as such while wearing her costume except for her duties to protect Jaycee Cahill. This is a complicated situation. Break: Ashley's complicated relationship with the Raven remains both a sore point and a point of pride. Copycat: Ashley isn't hiding her superpowers but she is keeping them to herself; she'll use them as a second resort rather than a first unless she needs to save a life. Duty: Ashley George is responsible for the life and well-being of the First Daughter, Jaycee Cahill. This is her highest priority - whatever she or Jaycee thinks about this. Enemy: Baron Samedi's drug empire indirectly killed Ashley's father. Given the chance, she'll go for him - minus her duty to Jaycee. Forget-Me-Not: Ashley's powers, coupled with her undercover status, make it easy for her own identity to slip away. Lies: Ashley lied about how she'd developed her powers when she joined the Secret Service. Nobody Knows The Troubles I've Seen: Watchdog's personality is of necessity not very nice - she has to play the part of the gritty, unlikable vigilante as a way of making sure no one pays too much attention to her. Patriot: Ashley George loves the United States of America and all it stands for. Secret: Ashley George is a 27 year old Secret Service agent, not a teenager from an alternate universe! Split Personality: Ashley's powers occasionally result in her copying certain mental traits of those whose powers she steals - this annoyance is one of the reasons she doesn't do it very often. We Get The Job Done: Ashley is the biracial daughter of a first-generation immigrant. Who's That Girl: Ashley is losing track of who she is. Abilities: 4 + 12 + 4 + 4 + 6 + 6 = 36PP STR: 14 (+2) DEX: 22 (+6) CON: 14 (+2) INT: 14 (+2) WIS: 16 (+3) CHA: 16 (+3) Combat: 16 + 10 = 26PP Attack +8 (+14 Melee, +15 Tonfa) Defense +12 (+7 Dodge Focus, +5 Base, +3 Flat-Footed) Init +10 Grapple +20 Knockback -3/-1 Saves: 6 + 2 + 5 = 13PP Tou: +8/+6/+2 (+2 Con, +4 Defensive Roll, +2 Leather Jacket) Fort: +8 (+2 Con, +6) Ref: +8 (+6 Dex, +2) Will: +8 (+3 Wis, +5) Skills: 96R=24PP Acrobatics 9 (+15, SM) Bluff 12 (+15, SM) Climb 3 (+5) Concentration 4 (+7) Craft (Mechanical) 3 (+5) Diplomacy 1 (+4) Disable Device 3 (+5) Drive 4 (+10) Escape Artist 4 (+10) Gather Information 7 (+10) Intimidate 7 (+10) Investigate 3 (+5) Knowledge [Civics] 3 (+5) Knowledge [Streetwise] 3 (+5) Languages 3 (Chinese [Mandarin], French, Vietnamese, base: English) Medicine 2 (+5) Notice 8 (+11, SM) Search 3 (+5) Sleight of Hand 2 (+8) Sense Motive 8 (+11, SM) Stealth 4 (+10) Feats: 59PP Acrobatic Bluff Attack Focus 6 (Melee) Challenge (Fast Acrobatic Bluff) Defensive Roll 2 Dodge Focus 7 Equipment 1 (Tonfa [Damage 3, PF: Masterwork, Mighty]) Equipment 15 [from Veteran reward] Evasion 2 Grappling Finesse Improved Initiative Inspire 3 Interpose Luck Power Attack Quick Draw Sidekick 27 (Daystar) Skill Mastery (Acrobatics, Bluff, Notice, Sense Motive) Takedown Attack Well-Informed Powers: 4 + 1 + 32 + 2 = 39PP Device 1 (Leather Jacket, 5PP, Flaw: Hard to Lose) [4PP] (technological) Enhanced Feats 2 (Second Chance 2 [vs. piercing and ballistic]) [2DP] Feature 1 (Cellphone) [1DP] Protection 2 [2DP] Immunity 1 (Daystar's Powers) [1PP] (mutation) Power Thief Container 6 (30PP Container, PFs: Precise, Subtle 1 [psionic senses]) [32PP] (mutation) Fatigue 6 (Extra: Linked [Mimic, +0]) {12} + Mimic 6 (All Powers, 30PP; Extra: Linked [Fatigue, +0], Flaw: Tainted) {18} + = [12+18=30/30PP] Super-Senses 2 (Danger Sense [Mental], Uncanny Dodge [Mental]) (mutation) [2PP] DC Table Unarmed DC 17 Tou Tonfa DC 18 Tou Fatigue: DC 16 Fort Abilities 36 + Skills 24 + Feats 59 + Powers 39 + Combat 26 + Saves 13= 197/197
  14. April 20th, 10.25AM, 2019 The paths around Lake Mackenzie The sun streamed down through the trees, its light glinted across the silver-blue surface of the lake. The air was fragrant with flowers, the rich scent of warm earth, and the far-off food carts. Birds sang in the trees, boats plying the lake roared or burbled or splashed, depending how they were being pushed, and the park was thick with barking dogs, yelling children and dancing cherry blossoms. On the far side of the lake and muffled by ancient trees, a fairground had sprung up like a pale echo of Port Regal's Ocean Heights Amusement Park. "Amazing," Leroy stared wide-eyed from his and Judy's vantage point up the hill, hugging her a little closer as he looked down at the scene, "playing on the surface like this...nobody without a dragon would risk it back home." He smiled at Judy "You are a brave people, Dee!" For the hike Leroy had worn the plainest clothes he had, a short olive-green tunic with black piping and the minutest little golden embroidered foxgloves at the neck, and short grey trousers with generous pockets. The thicker sandals laced up his calves looked like they had never once been used. For Pulse the air tingled with the shuddering waves of electromagnetic energy. Phones, satellite dishes, radio antennae, a raging sea of information and raw power blistered the air. ------------------------------------------------------------------- They had started the hike an hour or two ago, Leroy largely drawn by a performance his father's high-school orchestra was putting on that afternoon. "He will be absent and his pupils are magnificent," he had explained gleefully, reading from the pamphlet in the mail, "and walking to the lake would be lovely this time of year." He had turned over the pamphlet, regarding the elegant signature on the back. "Lavernius never sends me these. I wonder why he did this time. In any case, why not make a day of it? A little change of pace for us devoted scholars of heroism." -------------------------------------------------------------------- Leroy scanned the lake as they went further down. "Boats, the park, I believe that is a Carnivalé...so much to do! Where first?"
  15. April 2019 Common Room "Ah can't believe you did that!" Judy was steaming mad, heat coming off her in waves, as she jammed her hands down at her sides and yelled at her sister. "Ah can't believe you just stuck your nose into mah private life like that!" "...maybe I shouldn't have," admitted an unhappy-looking Ashley, who'd forsaken her sunglasses and looked sick to her stomach. "But I saw what he was doing to you, and I knew I had to say something." Maybe she hadn't had to say something, actually, but dammit she'd seen too many people push Judy around in the last year without anybody saying a word in her defense. Well why don't you say that out loud, a voice suggested, so you can get the hell out of this assignment and maybe this town forever! "Let's talk about this in our room," she suggested, a conversation changer that usually worked. "Oh, Ah think I know what you're going to say in there," said a red-faced Judy. "But it's not...it's not your place to tell me how to live mah life, anymore than it's my place to tell you how to live yours." She jabbed a finger at her sister and suddenly her voice broke. "And...and Ah want to be crying right now, Ashley, because Ah am so mad, but Ah can't even do that! Ah don't get to do anything Ah want!" Under normal circumstances, Ashley supposed she'd probably be at a pretty high risk of being fired right now, but haha, normal circumstances had been shot in the head and buried on the South Lawn for the last year and they weren't getting resurrected anytime soon. "I'm sorry," she apologized, hands in front of her and considerably softer than her usual tones. "But you know this isn't the place to talk about this." she added in a firm whisper. "Ah want you to go away," said Judy, raising her head and looking Ashley in the eye. "Ah want you to go outside this room, so Ah don't have to see you for a while. You told me Ah'd have as much privacy as you could give me, right? You are gonna keep your word to me, right?" "All right, Judy," said Ashley quietly. "I'll be out in the hall." Because she knew what was about to happen, she didn't tense when she heard Judy's shriek of alarm from inside the common room, just as she was stepping out the door. - Her face bright red, Judy looked down at the sole other occupant of the common room. "Omigod Danica! You were here the whole time! Ah'm so sorry!"
  16. OOC for this thread. A bright new day marred by an old shadow. @Avenger Assembled
  17. December 20 2018 Claremont Academy It was December 20 and Watchdog was distracted. Ashley was thinking of the game schedule for the coming week and which ones she'd be able to check out from her favorite DC bars, and of seeing her mom and her actual sisters again (not that she didn't care for her charge, poor kid, but she wasn't actually her sister) - and also the common room was overrun with preteens with superpowers. It was the sort of situation to put any bodyguard on edge. It didn't help that Judy turned out to be great with little kids, having admitted privately to her sister that she'd always wished that she'd had more younger siblings. The youngest group of Nicholson students, a half-dozen or so kindergarten age kids, had been following her around all day, in the company of their teacher, a thick-glassed and big-haired young woman named Jessie Lupine who practically smelled of granola. Ms. Lupine had been content to let Judy stay close to her charges, though she was patiently watching as Judy led the kids in another round of Itsy-Bitsy-Spider. All around the common room, Nicholson kids were hanging out with Claremont students, the oldest of the latter on the anxious edge of teen, the youngest rambunctious gradeschool kids running around and giggling with the energy of small children when it was late at night. There were adults here too, Nicholson teachers watching their students, Claremont teachers watching both, but for the most part it was "Christmas Big Sibling Camp!" all the way. She caught sight of the Blue Team; a girl in a Disney dress chatting with Pan, a boy with electricity sparking in his eyes sitting next to Adam on the couch, a scaly child of indeterminate gender in Leroy's company, and a girl in forest brown discoursing with Arctos in Russian by the sleeping bags. That was the other great thing about tonight - the last night before Watchdog and Pulse went off for "special training". It was a sleepover. So freaking great.
  18. Early Spring 2019 Claremont Cafeteria A few weeks after the incident where the duplicates of superheroes showed up at Freedom City, Veronica was just starting lunch when she was interrupted by Judy Smith. Judy and her sister generally gave the Dangers a wide berth, but today Judy looked burdened with purpose and Ashley looked vaguely mortified through the usual air of disdain she tried to project. "Veronica? Can Ah talk to you for a minute?" asked Judy, who of course had no food. Judy usually didn't come into the cafeteria either, come to think of it.
  19. February 2019 Freedom City All your lies exposed - two worlds in collision! Deceiver - what will you do then? The best I can! Inside Copycat's faux-porcelain mask, Ashley George opened her eyes to where she crouched alone on the roof of one of Freedom City's more anonymous skyscrapers - a Brutalist tower that had survived the 1970s, two Terminus invasions, and various other crises with no more than now-repaired cosmetic damage. The flat rooftop (minus the usual equipment one found on the roof of tall buildings) was the sort no one would look too closely at in a city full of weird gargoyles, public art, and superheroes. It was actually the perfect place for a quiet conversation, especially if you were dressed like - well, dressed in a costume that had seemed appropriate when she was sixteen, an unholy merger of the Raven's cape and cowl and the white mask of someone cosplaying as a Chesire cat. She hadn't dressed as Copycat in more than a decade. But then this wasn't exactly a meeting Watchdog could attend; nor could Secret Service Agent Ashley George. She sat - and waited for Geckoman and the third Raven. She'd called, telling them there was a problem with her mission - but would they answer?
  20. Okay, @RocketLord, Pan is good with little kids and their thoughts - give me rolls of skills you think are relevant here before Ashley does something she'll get detention for.
  21. @Ecalsneerg @KnightDisciple Let's see die rolls!
  22. October 2018 Outside Claremont Academy Her long dark hair safely tucked away beneath a Freedom City Heroes hoodie, her face hidden by a dark pair of aviator sunglasses, Judy Smith waited by her sister's side for the arrival of their friends. "This is gonna be so fun," she told Ashley with a smile. "Ah can't believe we're gonna go shopping in a mall! It's gonna be the best day ever!" It had been a long, long time since she'd been able to go shopping by herself - and this didn't remotely count as by herself, but it was still a lot closer than she'd have been able to come under normal circumstances. Ah'm gonna find some jewelry for the dance, and maybe get a present for Leroy while I'm there - it's gonna be great! Secure in leather jacket and jeans, eyes hidden by her own dark glasses, Ashley thought about the vetting that the Secret Service had done before selecting the Patriot Shopping Center as the best 'mall' choice for Judy and her friends from Claremont to visit, the quiet checking she'd done herself into Danica and Micah's backgrounds, the advance scouting her team had done of the site, the advance driving she'd done to plot out the drive to Lantern Hill, the hope and the prayer that Lantern Jack wouldn't show up - and Watchdog grunted. "Hrm." It was going to be an interesting day, at any rate. Now where were Danica and Micah, the two friends Judy had invited along for a "crazy, secret trip to the mall!"
  23. Christmas 2018 "Ah'm so glad you're home." Rachel Cahill had had to look up to her eldest two daughters for the last few years now, one of the many challenges that the Lord sent her way in these trying times. She and Judith Claudia were sitting on Judith's bed, the one she'd given up after the Incident, and for a little while anyway it was like there weren't any Secret Service agents just outside their door and they weren't in the middle of the White House. "Ah missed you so much." She hugged Judith, and Judith hugged her back. She heard her own voice in her daughters' as she spoke; the pure West Virginia accents of the couple that had adopted and raised her after the violence of her childhood had taken her parents from her ringing clear as a bell. "Ah'm glad to be home, Mama," said Judy, tears in her eyes. "Ah was...Ah was worried Ah was gonna have to stay in that place, and not see everyone for Christmas!" There were other worries too, unspoken, worries about the power that had nearly taken her mother and her youngest sister from her, and worries about how the friends she'd made at Claremont would understand the life she lived here. "Now you know Ah would never let my baby girl go, and neither would your daddy." She smiled, then decided to address the elephant in the room.. "Ah know Ah told you this before, Judith Claudia, but Ah don't blame you for what happened." She squeezed her daughter tight. "You know that God tests us. He put that...that thing inside you," she missed Judy's hard swallow, "as a way of testing you, and me, and your daddy. And if we all work together, all doing our part to make His plan happen, that thing inside you is just going to be...something that's part of you, like the way your sister cuts her hair." She looked levelly at Judy, who felt her spine stiffen just a little. "What matters is that we stay strong, all of us. You've been staying strong at Claremont, haven't you?" - "Breakin' rocks in the hot sun I fought the law and the law won I fought the law and the law won I needed money 'cause I had none I fought the law and the law won I fought the law and the law won" It was Ashley's favorite kind of bar - the beer was cold, the music was loud, and most of her fellow patrons were involved in various sorts of law enforcement. She had her stupid pink-tipped hair tucked away under a US Government ballcap and her equipment belt on, and she'd had just enough beer that she was feeling ready for anything. "Okay, fine, here I go!" She threw her dart and it hit not in the bullseye but pretty damn close to it, enough that the section of the bar that was mostly Treasury Department people whooped and the section that was mostly Capitol Police booed. The champion of the latter, a slender guy with a swimmer's build named Craig, was decent enough to nod before he stepped up to throw his own dart - dammit! This time the Capitol Police guys cheered, and Ashley said something that wasn't very ladylike, but who the hell cared? - "...Ah already know the boy's name," said Rachel, hands on her hips as she studied her daughter, having risen to her feet to address her directly. "Your bodyguard works for me and your daddy, remember?" Judy blinked at her mother's words, and suddenly realized that wasn't true. Rachel Cahill might have been reading her Secret Service files because she was her mother but Ashley worked for the US government, not for the First Lady and her husband. "Ah just want to know what you think you were doing." "Letting myself be courted by a sweet boy," said Judy firmly, "he's the one that asked me out, not the other way around! He's sweet, he's kind, he's - a Christian!" This too was a lie, even if she was reasonably sure Leroy would get there one of these days. "One date and a few dances does not mean Ah want to marry him!" "Why would you let yourself be courted by someone you didn't want to marry?" demanded Rachel. "Ah'm not some prude, honey, Ah don't object to you having friends who are boys, but why would you go out with someone you don't think you want to be with?" - Craig and Ashley had lost the attention of most of the bar when the game had come back on, so they'd retreated to the pool table for some private competition. "I've been on assignment most of the year," admitted Ashley, which was all she was going to say in a bar to some guy she'd just met, even if he did have nice eyes and good hands. He'd won their dart game fair and square, even if he wasn't doing quite as well at pool. "and I'm only back in DC till the day after Christmas." After that she was going to deadhead a flight out to New Orleans, but really that wasn't Craig's business either. "And you?" "DC all the way," said Craig with a grin. "Thinking about switching over to DC PD next year, though. I get a little tired of watching the backs of fatcats and calling it policework." He took his shot and watched with satisfaction as he made the nine ball, then stepped back to let Ashley take her shot. "You have no idea," said Ashley drily. She considered Craig a moment, then without any preamble took off her jacket and set it on the chair near the pool table. The next time she took her shot, she leaned over the table to do it. She didn't mind throwing Craig off his game - in fact, to her delight, she did. - Alone in her room, Judy closed her eyes and tried to shut down the din of radio and television that permeated the White House. She could hear her mother telling her father that Judith wasn't going to stay strong at Claremont if they weren't careful, she could hear her sister writing in her diary that she hoped Jaycee wouldn't vaporize them this year, she could hear everything, on and on, through the vast house. Some people were judging her, some people were afraid of her, some people were worried about her, but most people weren't talking about her at all. Rising to her feet. she walked out into the center of her bedroom, body stiff with repressed emotion from her mother's talk about how it was her duty to keep herself pure, to keep herself strong, as a Cahill girl, as a Comanche, as a Christian. As if one date and a few kisses meant she was in danger of falling. As if her mother hadn't lied to her face to get her to tell the truth. "Ah am strong," she murmured to herself. "Ah am." She spread her hands wide and listened to other things besides the radio - the hum of power in the building's walls, the electricity that permeated the old structure, and suddenly opened her eyes to see something beautiful. A bright, arcing column of light had come from the power outlets in front of her and enveloped her hands like warm cotton, dueling rivers of light that made her room glow with an impossible blue-white beauty. "Ah'm fine!" she called out loud even as one of Ashley's backup agents hammered on her door to ask about the sparking light and noise from inside her room. "Ah'm - strong!" - Craig made breakfast the next morning - the thoughtful end to what had been all in all an evening full of thoughtful gestures. If he was a little disappointed when Ashley reminded him that she was going to be on assignment and not in a position to call him after the holidays, well, that was just life in DC. Feeling quite pleased with herself, Ashley packed quickly for her flight to New Orleans and didn't so much as look backwards at the city below when the plane took off. For a little while, anyway - she was on vacation! When Judy called her the next day, she answered it anyway. That was part of the job.
  24. October 2018 Claremont Academy Library Down in the third floor basement stacks, Judy Smith shone her flashlight around. "Wow, they really do have a lot of issues of American Heritage here," she said, not sounding terribly enthused upon finding row after row of the old magazines on their metal shelves. "But Ah guess Ah found the December 1957 issue, so that's one more!" She looked to her team and checked off another on their list of 'Scavenger Hunt in the Lights-Out Library!' "At least turning off the lights made it interesting," she commented to her team. "Oh yeah it's real interesting," hissed Ashley Smith, who seemed far less enthusiastic than her sister about the whole thing. She had on her gear for the night-time op; head obscured and voice partially muffled by her Watchdog helmet, her guns concealed beneath her leather jacket and body armor. "Night time in an empty building, where anything could be lurking behind anything!" She was only half in-character here. She'd spent a lot of hours in the Claremont library and had learned that it was full of all sorts of awful stuff. At least they probably weren't going to see that damned ghost this time. "What's next?" Judy asked the others.
  25. October 2018 It had all gone wrong during chili night at the cafeteria. Ashley had warned Jaycee not to try anything, but walking past the doors, memories of home had drawn the girl in. And despite Ashley's best efforts, she wasn't actually the boss of Jaycee Cahill. So the girl had eaten, bites of chili verde, chili con carne, Cincinnati chili (even if the latter had made Judy make a disgusted face) and a few more bites of things Ashley hadn't immediately recognized. Judy had had a good time socializing with her friends, even if she'd rolled her eyes a bit at the cliched country-western music playing on the cafeteria sound system, and so maybe that was worth what had happened when her body had started digesting the food - and belatedly remembered that it was powered by radio waves, not by carbohydrates. They were in the first floor hall bathroom - they hadn't quite made it all the way upstairs - and Ashley was standing outside the stall when she heard Jaycee say, a little weakly, "Ashley, Ah'm...ah'm gonna be here a little while. Can you go back to the library and get mah book? Ah think I left it in the study room..." Normally Ashley didn't go fetch things for Judy - but after the vomiting, and the crying, she wanted to do something to put a little smile on the girl's face. "Be right back. Stay in the bathroom, and hit the button if you need me. Five minutes." She laid her hand against the cool metal of the stall door, then turned and headed quickly outside. Of course, the one problem with public bathrooms was that they didn't have locks on the outside...
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