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Found 47 results

  1. It was a small list - the friends that Talya still had from her time among the Allies of Freedom was a small list that grew smaller yet every year. Most of them - all of them, really - had public personas just as flashy as Natalya Browning's public facade. They were also well aware that Talya's actual private life was something she had always kept decidedly so, so the understanding that discretion was expected was well understood alongside her invitation to visit the recently renovated apartments above the Espadas' School. Well, to most of them, it was likely well understood. For Ace, she made the effort to include a pointed phone call alongside sending a private town car - lest she get the damn Dangermobile hovering outside a window just because he wanted to tease. It might have been any other cheerful weekend afternoon at the rather noisy home of four very young children. That Talya was tense was only clear to those who knew her very well - and those who could compare her usual level of tidiness to the current downright sparkling level of cleanliness in an apartment with very young children. It was, frankly, unnatural to see the living room looking like something out of a magazine as the blonde Brit frowned before going to rearrange the art fully folded quilt on the couch's arm for the third time.
  2. Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship! December 16, 9:07 PM "Alright, we're locked up," Erik Espadas confirmed as he rounded the gap in the wall between the dojo's entryway and the training space. With the blinds drawn over the big front windows and a few more sophisticated measures in place the small group gathered were ready for their planned after-hours class. Unlike usual the mats were littered with piled weights, cardboard boxes and anything else that had been handy and looked like it might make for an inconvenient obstacle. "Remember, we're working on mobility tonight," he reminded the deceptively lanky man and the woman with short black hair in front of him, folding his bare arms across his plain white workout shirt. They could have easily been a pair of the college students who frequented his intermediary self-defence classes. "That means something a little different for you two than the rest of us so I figured it was past time you compared notes." The fencer let a lopsided grin split his businesslike demeanour as he stepped back toward far corner where Talya and Steve were watching. "That said, loser has to mop the footprints off my ceiling." In the apartments up above Ellie Espadas held her breath as she tip-toed out of the nursery, hoping against hope that her newest niece and nephew would stay asleep at least long enough to get back to the kitchen. Either one of them crying inevitably woke the other and even with three pairs of hands helping she wasn't sure how their parents were coping. Making it down the hallway and all the way to the kitchen table the med student silently raised a pair of crossed fingers as she sat down between Min and Mara. "And I thought pulling a double at Trinity took it out of you," she drawled just barely louder than a whisper. "Please tell me there's coffee or tea or something."
  3. Content Notices: Violence, Birth Scene Location: Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship! Date: July 19, 2016 Talya was very good at suppressing the potential consequences for her actions. Leaping off buildings, after all, was much easier if one didn't think about what missing a handhold might mean. Unfortunately, ignoring the eventual ramifications of the biology of how a baby (or two. Two!) would enter the world did not actually prevent the event. The cramps and back ache had only gotten worse despite her refusal to acknowledge that it might not just be late term pregnancy aches and pains. Although, she'd not admitted (and likely never would), it was fairly clear to those closest to Talya that the ex-spy was at least unsettled by the impending birth. Perhaps even frightened. At the moment, though, she was mostly just holding up the relocation to Sanctuary as if not stepping through the portal might some how prevent the next several hours. "I've changed my mind," Talya announced mulishly, her arms crossed over her chest. "Perhaps I could just be unconscious for the entire thing, after all. They still do that, don't they? If we went to the hospital instead, could they just knock me out?" Unlikely to say the least with her magical ability to shake off most things mundane and Talya's mystical biology did not often play well with other magics. Intellectually, she knew that but at the moment, logic was not high on the spy's list. "I'd bounce right back from a c-section. Probably. Almost certainly."
  4. Alright, let's get some initiative rolls out of the way to start with. Jack of all Blades - Initiative: 1d20+9 28 Hooks -Initiative: 1d20+7 19 Katar - Initiative: 1d20 18 Kopesh - Initiative: 1d20+5 18 Butterfly - Initiative: 1d20+7 25 Shadows - Initiative: 1d20+5 19
  5. Gizmo

    U-Haul

    "Is there room for one more in that box?" Gina Espadas asked, wheeling herself backward in a tight arc with one hand and holding up a framed photo with the other. "It's one of the bigger ones." The retired police officer and single mother of two was in fully serious organizational mode partly in deference to the task at hand and partly to sidestep some of the lingering awkwardness that resulted from being left alone with the other woman in the room. Talya Browning - Gina had enough aliases to keep straight these days without worrying about whether that was the correct civilian identity for this apartment or safe house or what have you - was on the nearby couch with the last new open cardboard boxes, rearranging pictures to pack them as efficiently as possible. The renovations of the apartment Talya shared with Gina's son and daughter-in-law were close enough to completion to move most of her personal effects over but unsurprisingly there was some last minute packing left to do while Erik retrieved the borrowed truck. That left the two of them to sort things out between them in more than one sense.
  6. Although Talya's reputation might give the impression that all her New Year's Eves were spent at fabulous parties or madcap adventure, the fact of the matter was she'd had plenty of quiet New Years as well. There were certainly enough years where time's steady march onwards had not been a matter to celebrate. Still, in all of the New Years that she had celebrated, loud or quiet, Talya had certainly never fallen asleep a good half an hour before the overly-hyped television special had even begun it's crescendo. Yet sleeping was just what the blonde was doing, rather uncomfortably in her position as human barrier. Sometime between when Min and Erik had stepped out, the former to bathe Eden and the latter to produce snacks, Talya had curled up on the floor to keep Mia from getting past her and was now serving as an even better handhold for cruising than the couch had provided. How Talya continued to sleep through the chubby - and potentially sticky - baby hands yanking on her side was anyone's best guess. Normally, the ex-thief slept relatively lightly. Today, though, Mia's hand catching in her hair earned only a sleepy snort as Talya shifted, one arm encircling Mia absently.
  7. alderwitch

    Willow

    From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Finally complete!
  8. alderwitch

    Old Fiends

    Talya's directions had them parking well away from the school. The racy sportscar was more suited towards the life that went with the high end apartment building than her West End activities so she never parked it in the same place and never close to the school. Walking wasn't exceptionally onerous, after all. When she stepped out of her car, she pulled a different jacket over the top of her blouse, modernizing the pencil skirt enough to distance it from the tailored retro style she favored in public appearances. As Talya's quick changes went, it was relatively minor on the spectrum of what Dimitri had seen before as far as Talya's efforts went. There was no wig and only very minor make up and clothing adjustments. He was well aware that there was probably no less than four or five very different disguises in the trunk of her car. She threaded her hand through Dimitri's parka covered arm, her Russian still flawless despite the definitely loose swing of her hips and the roll of her steps. She wasn't sober, but it would take a discerning eye to notice such things. Talya put on a very convincing facade of sobriety, aided by the fact that she could probably still scale the building in her heels and narrow skirt without missing a step. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary as she fished a key out of her pocket to unlock the closed door to the front of the dojo, "We ought stay down here. If the girls are asleep, I don't want to wake them." Talya said as she opened the door and then locked it behind them, "But, I can show you where I'm spending my time, nonetheless. You can tell me what you think of the very minor addition I made."
  9. Date: September 19, 2015 Taylor hadn't exactly given Elis all that much choice really. Oh, she'd promised that it was a nice, normal meeting with nice, normal people who just happened to have super powers. Other than that it was just a barbecue with friends who happened to be super parents, at least that was what she'd conveyed on the phone. In Taylor's defense, she really did feel that it was important for the relatively new super hero to have something like a support network. She certainly would have appreciated having had more of a network when she'd first started. Also, her definition for 'normal' might have gotten steadily skewed over the years. After all, Stesha was the most normal person that Taylor still knew - she just happened to be a goddess running her own nature planet preserve these days. Taylor's lack of sympathy for any attempts to cry off might have also been in part in her expectation that it took some strong arming to get people to attend parties. Jack certainly wasn't ecstatic about Taylor's 'we're all going as a family to this barbecue on Stesha's planet before dark hits. No, really. It's important to me' explanation for why everyone was being rousted on a Saturday, side dish in tow. With a soft 'pop' of displaced air, Taylor showed up in Ellis' living room. Huang had his after school job to keep him busy and Taylor didn't think that he'd enjoy a barbecue with mostly adults and the under ten crowd in attendance. Jack and JJ had already been dropped off with Jack entrusted with delivering the side dishes of potato salad and a cooler full of steaks for the barbecue. That she showed up inside the house rather than on the porch was in difference to Ellis secret identity but he might not see it that way. Except for the sudden appearance, Taylor looked normal enough - at least she wasn't in costume. With her hair pulled up in a bun and in a light shirt and denim shorts she could have been any fresh-faced college student. Well, except for the fact that she was still translucent.
  10. Between working at the dojo and... other things, Talya was clocking an awful lot of hours at the Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship(!). Today was no different, except that the dojo was currently empty of students - and most other bodies - save for the blonde currently standing in the main work out area with a decent size ring in hand as she examined the ceiling. Talya was almost always in the 'do what you want, beg forgiveness after the fact' mindset so this indecision was new. New and unpleasant! It was a good idea, Talya told herself firmly. One couldn't have students practice hanging upside down and doing things without having something sturdy to hang FROM. If Erik had only been her employer, Talya would already have had this installed in a joist and been ready to smile prettily when asked about the new addition to the workspace. It was even designed to fold up when not in use. It was a good plan. Muttering under herb breath, Talya resolutely turned towards the wall and within a few seconds had scaled the wall to balance with one foot on top of the stand of practice swords and her palm flat against the ceiling as she began running the stud finder over the ceiling. She was going to be perfectly normal, darnit!
  11. The blond slipped in as the most recent class was just starting to wrap up, rather like she'd timed it that way. Talya had paused outside to admire the facade and the rather bold sign choice. Of course, she really hadn't expected anything less. Letting the door shut behind her, she glanced at the front desk before slipping between the students currently filtering out towards the entrance. Crowds were really always the best cover one could ask for and old habits died hard. Although, Talya really wasn't up to any nefarious purpose today. The students didn't spare her a second glance, really, not beyond the occasional appreciative glance an attractive twenty-something blond might usually garner. Perhaps her boots fell a little too softly on the ground as she skirted the training area, working her way around to the professor. "Uh, Mr. Espadas?" She pitched her voice higher, the accent soft and vaguely mid-western. Hesitant, apologetic. "I was wondering if you might have an opening in one of these classes?" The woman asking the question was blond, pretty - certainly, but Talya was well aware that with softer, subtler makeup and her hair pulled back up into a loose ponytail, she presented a very different picture than her normal attire. That, really, was the point. Gone was the tailored 40's clothing in exchange for a soft turtleneck and a pleated skirt and tights that would have looked entirely normal on a woman her apparent age. The only real give away was Talya's laughing blue eyes, which crinkled around the corners as she added, still in the softer American drawl as there were still students about, "Hullo, Erik."
  12. Gizmo

    Interceptors: Mia

    March 20, 2015 It wasn't that Erik Espadas was expecting trouble, not really, but he subscribed to the idea that it paid to be the one carrying the biggest stick. Or to be friends with the people carrying the biggest sticks, anyway. When they'd worked out the rough schedule for Min's pregnancy nobody had been particularly surprised to find her due date landed on the vernal equinox. After the unexpected 'visit' by his extended family in the House of Swords for the birth of his first daughter, though, a whole different sort of planning had seemed in order this time around, just to be safe. Stesha had offered to host them on Sanctuary, of course, but even with one or two super-powered healers on hand the idea of being in a whole different reality from the closest modern hospital made Erik a little nervous. If he were being completely honest with himself there was also the fact that he wanted his second child to be born in Freedom City's West End just as he had. If was their home and he wasn't about to let anyone chase them out. That said, even if they weren't going to an earth goddess, the earth goddess could still come to them. A good section of the first floor of the Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship (!) was covered in toys where Stesha was keeping watch over Eden and Amaryllis laughing and playing, chatting amiably with Gina. Nearby Mara and Liz were engaged in an animated discussion of tweaks and improvements to the building's security over a folding table covered in computer equipment including a laptop displaying Vince's neon-green suit wearing avatar. They'd sent Chris out to get food mostly because it seemed like the only way to keep him from standing watch on the top of the building in full costume while Steve had insisted on standing guard, gargoyle like, outside of the second floor apartment where Ellie was making her sister-in-law comfortable. Yolanda had taken up a position across from Steve, solemnly following the taciturn bald man's example. It was, all told, a small army of love and support. Not that that stopped Erik himself from pacing back and forth with nervous energy, his gaze jumping back and forth between the stairs, the clock and Eden, hands clasped behind his back.
  13. December 25, 2014 South Pole Basin  Lunar Farside    It is not true that Farsiders never leave their city, merely that such events are rare and usually for a purpose. The construction of the South Pole station by Farsiders had been one such purposeful occasion, one launched over a Terran century ago by a Farsider monarch concerned about a recent Terran visit to the Moon. (Some Terran visitors to Farside City have pointed out that the Apollo missions took place over six decades later, but the Farsiders have the records of earlier 'interlopers' to show skeptical visitors of today.) With its neutrino detectors and concealed telescopes, the South Pole station is well-placed to directly monitor doings on Earth. Or for that matter, as Lady Lunar proved in the early 1980s, to strike at it.    A collection of intellects vast and furious on Earth had realized the station's potential not long after the Communion crisis began - concealed as the station was, it was the perfect place to strike at an enemy in Earth orbit by surprise. What had been a location for observation could become a location for misdirection; a notion that appealed to the ruling government of Farside City, which liked the idea of saving the world they orbit without their true role ever being known. (Farsiders do love their secrets!)   And so, for much of the last two months, the greatest minds of Earth have come to its only natural satellite with a singular purpose. To build a machine to protect the planet from the Communion! Steve Murdock had offered what advice he could during its construction, but his experience with dimensional technology was all practical. It had come down to Dragonfly's specific genius and Miss Americana's vast storehouse of general knowledge to put the great work into practice. Caradoc, and the other non-scientists in the party of heroes guarding the weapon (as Steve was not allowed to call it around his employer) had rapidly found another role in the small lunar colony.    Lunar soil ashy beneath his feet, Caradoc raised his gleaming blade to the sky, the shining tip above the heads even of the tallest Farsiders in their environmental suits. A new group of Farsider militiamen had been deployed that week - and their usual trainers were busy with an Earth-Prime holiday, an important one, but one that he could miss while Gina Evans was safely ensconced in the tiny pre-fab quarters that she had occupied for the last month. There would be time enough for celebration when the work was done.    He spoke over the radio.    "Your enemy will target your environmental suits first! They are not pirates, or conquerors, or enslavers. Your dead flesh will feed their ever-growing armies." He lowered his blade as the group shifted uneasily, and for a moment there was dead silence on the lunar plain besides the domed Farsider military base even on the radio frequencies they used to speak with each other outside the dome.   
  14. December 5, 2014 2:00 pm Village of Mayberry, Sanctuary There was a light dusting of snow on the ground of Sanctuary as the visitors popped out of the hickory tree-shaped dimensional portal their host had conjured up for them, but the weather this afternoon was clear and cold. The place where they'd arrived looked like the edge of a large garden, with rows of berry bushes still fruiting nearby, and nut trees clearly ready for harvest all around them. Stesha was waiting for them as they stepped out, her cheeks pink despite the puffy brown fleece jacket with matching knit hat and mittens she was wearing. It looked a little like a cold weather version of her costume, if one squinted just right. "Hi guys!" she greeted them cheerfully. "It's so good to see you, feels like it's been forever! Ammy, come say hello!" There was a rustling behind a nearby tree, whose branches parted to allow Amaryllis to come rushing through them without so much as slowing down. She was bundled up like her mother, except all in pinks and purples, and her hat was askew on her green curls. "Hi!" she chirped, finally slowing down just before she plowed into Erik. "Merry Christmas!"
  15. Gizmo

    Growth Rings

    The morning sunlight streaming through the window of the modest apartment above the Espadas School School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship took on pale renditions of the vividly hued flowers growing across the window sill and up the sides of its frame. The plants were flourishing despite the lingering chill of early spring and the curtains were open to allow the cascade of light to gradually work its way across the floor, over rumpled bedsheets and finally across the eyelids of the slumbering couple. Ever the light sleeper, the leisurely way Erik Espadas opened his eyes belied the quickness with which he was alert, consciously choosing to luxuriate in the softness of the bed and the warm tangle of copper toned arms and legs wrapped around his own. Minerva's flowing white mane was practically a second blanket all on its own but with her lithe form pressed close against him Erik never would have noticed a draft anyway. He opened one eye wide enough to watch the familiar metronome twitch of her delicately pointed ear, in sync with the heartbeat in his chest and finally risked shifting from his immensely comfortable position to kiss the tip of the ear. Settling back down he rolled slightly to pull his wife further on top of his bare chest, lined and dimpled with faint scars, and murmured with feigned concern, "You know, Mrs. Espadas, I'm beginning to suspect this isn't a one night stand at all."
  16. Initiative time! Jack of all Blades Initiative.: 1d20+9 11 Jean Pique Initiative.: 1d20+9 14 Katanarchists Initiative.: 1d20+5 23
  17. Lynn's apartment over Silberman's Books. August 3rd, 2014. 7:54pm A letter had arrived at the Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship from Lynn Epstein, with a familiar West End address. Inside, was a handwritten note; the penmanship was graceful, almost archaic, but the writer's voice was unmistakable. The changeling was pacing again; it was humanly impossible to prepare for an evening like this, but Lynn had given it the good old never-finished-college try. The furniture was warm, earthy and inviting, she'd been scooting back and forth between the shop and her kitchen all day working on dinner, and she'd cycled through looks for a good half hour finding just the right balance of relaxed and respectable: a nice understated green summer dress, open-toed wedges and small pearl stud earrings (her current thing). As always, the lanyard with its ring was around her neck, and she fidgeted with it more than usual. Her curly shoulder length hair was gathered up, showing off her graceful neck and the points of her ears. Lynn's eyes flicked over to the clock on the mantelpiece, where it dully ticked down the minutes. Soon. Very soon.
  18. Thursday, November 28th "How's the oven looking, Vince, dear?" Gina Espadas called as she pushed her wheel chair into the front room of her family's home, lap piled with brown and orange seasonal decorations which she began placing about the shelves and cabinets. In the adjoining kitchen one of the most advanced human-designed artificial intelligences on the planet native to that era interpreted data from a webcam jury-rigged to a computer monitor yellowing slightly with age to gauge the temperature inside the closed oven opposite it with precision worthy of laboratory testing. To an outside observer, however, an enthusiastic man wearing a cameo pattern apron over a bright green suit appeared on the monitor, raised a comically long telescope to his eye and snapped a salute as he shouted back, "Operation Bird is the Word proceeding full steam ahead, General Ma'am sir!" "Sure, you she trusts with the turkey," Erik Espadas sighed with exaggerated ire as he methodically worked his knife up and down on the cutting board, rapidly turned fresh vegetables into piles of thin slices. Sweet and hot peppers alike joined a bowl of other ingredients as the chef briefly looked over his shoulder to grin at the monitor. "To be fair, Jack-O," Vince countered, pulling a firefighter's helmet and an extinguisher out of virtual space, "you've set a lot more things on fire than I have." "Don't set things on fire, please," came an earnest requests for waist height as the precocious Yolanda set out plates and cutlery at the table with deliberate precision. The stout eight year old scampered back to the counter to retrieve another stack of dishware, moving with the care of someone entrusted with a precious cargo indeed. "Careful, Yoyo, don't carry too many at once," Ellie cautioned as she returned from retrieving the last of the folding chairs from the attic, one tucked under each arm. Pulling them open, she set them down in front of the place settings before inhaling through her nose. "Mm. Alright, that does smell pretty fantastic." Her mother finished arranging a trio of small gourds on the end table next to the couch in the front room and rolled over to the window to peer outside. "Well it had better! Everyone should be arriving soon."
  19. August 15, 2013 The messages arrived in different ways for different heroes - Cannonade and Wander had theirs delivered to one of the anonymous tip drop boxes the Liberty League used to collect correspondance, Wail had his delivered by standard mail to Keith LaMarr's home address, while Willow's came via a scanned copy emailed directly to Vince. They were instantly recognizable as odd - the envelopes weren't paper but vellum, some sort of processed animal skin, and the stamps affixed to them were wildly overpaid, as if someone had bought a chunk of postage and slapped it on an envelope without knowing how the value of postage actually worked. Inside the envelopes lay a simple message written in thick, heavy block printing - again on vellum, albeit by something that looked more like a pencil. HELLO YOU ARE INVITED TO THE ADULTED HOOD CELEBRATION OF RUNS-WITH-FANGS-BARED. PLEASE COME TO BATSTO VISITOR CENTER AT SUNSET TOMORROW IF YOU WANT TO COME. WITNESS MIGHTS OF WITH-FANGS-BARED CLAN AND RAPTOR EMPIRE. A quick trip to Google found the Batsto Vistor Center easily enough; a historic "living history" village deep in the heart of the Wharton State Forest. Heroes who remember the encounter with emissaries of the Raptor Empire will recall Runs-With-Fangs-Bared, the teenage daughter of the raptor commander who learned a lesson about not calling humans apes all the time.
  20. Gizmo

    Mercury Racing

    "Okay, I'm a, hoo, big enough man to admit that, huff, we may need a new plan," Jack of all Blades panted out with some difficulty, disengaging his grappling line and coming to a stop on a rooftop in the West End. Supporting one hand atop his knee, he wiped sweat from the gab between his royal blue bandanna mask and the edge of his black wig. "Take five, team," he told the rest of the Interceptors as he straightened and considered their options. Over the past couple of weeks there had been increasing chatter on the street about a new supplier for some variation of the drug commonly know as 'zoom', a potent concoction that overclocked the user's entire body, providing effective superspeed for as long as the high lasted but coming with the heavy risk of everything from heart attacks to paralysis. At first the Interceptors had had little trouble quashing the new variant, with Vince directing them to the most likely spots for drug deals in the neighbourhood before they could even happen. Unfortunately they'd had little success tracking down the actual supplier and in the past days the new zoom had flooded the West End, leading to a rash of superspeed B&Es and other crimes. This time they'd gotten enough warning to make it to the scene while a corner convenience store was being burgled but the thieves, still in the throes of the drug, had rapidly eluded the team as they sped off. Jack knew it was only a matter of time before they started running across the burnt out bodies of stupid kids who's luck had run out, assuming one of their petty robberies didn't go horribly wrong before that. It was time to call in the cavalry. "Hey, long time. It's your favourite swashbuckling pretty boy," he greeted into his phone once he had his breath back. "You got your sneakers handy? 'Cause I need a favour."
  21. Tuesday, February 26th 4:18 PM The observation deck at the top of Pyramid Plaza was empty, save for one woman. No one else wanted to be in there right now, except for the people who were paid to be there. Around twenty minutes ago, the young woman had entered the observation deck. There wasn't much odd about here - sweatshirts, jeans, sneakers, short and somewhat untamed hair. She stood before the windows of the deck for about five minutes, not moving. And then she'd started pressing her hands against the glass, and slowly, it had begun to crack. The visitors began to move back when they saw what was happening, while the guards quickly moved forward. They didn't get within ten feet of the girl - she looked at them, and within seconds, they were asleep, passed out on the ground. In two minutes, she was the only person left at the top of the Pyramid. In five, the glass on all sides had cracked, with nothing but air surrounding the frame of the peak. For ten minutes, she stood up there, looking out over the city. Looking out... and waiting. STAR personnel were sweeping over the scene, keeping their rifles trained on the pyramid in case anything happened. The heroes would be arriving soon enough; if nothing went haywire until they arrived, maybe this could end peacefully.
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