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Tiffany Korta

Spider on the Roof [OPEN]

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Downtown Emerald City

 

It wasn't the tallest building in Emerald City, that like his ego was probably Mars's, it was even easily accessible from the ground with a little climbing. But it probably had one of the best views of the city at night a stream of colourful lights down towards the Columbia River. It wasn't obvious how good the view was unless you happened to be someone who spent there time up in the air, so was a secret to many who spent most of there time down on the ground. 


And right now one of those people was enjoying the view.

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Right now Emerald Spider was sat on the edge of the building through her attention was elsewhere rather than the view, today had been a good day.

 

She'd happened to be near a Chinese restaurant when two thugs had tried to rob the place, all in a days works for Emerald Spider. After the police had carted them away the owner had insisted that she accepted a rather large sampling of there wares, much more than a single person could manage. So right now she was enjoying a large box of noodles, good but obviously not as good as Granny makes, later she'd worry about what to do with the rest of the food.

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There was a sound of scrabbling, a whirr of movement, and suddenly a young man in a torn green, black and orange costume was rolling over the edge of the roof and flopping like a sack of potatoes onto the smooth, blessedly solid procrete.

 

Salmon took a few gulps of air before managing a husky "Hey, Spide-E."

 

It had been a whirlwind of a day, and one Paris was still trying to fit into any kind of logic he understood.

 

First had come the invite to Emerald Tower, to meet Max Mars and the "friends" he was bringing in from Tokyo and Singapore, even some from distant Freedom City. All to help make good on his promise from last year's Christmas party. 

 

This isn't right. I'm not some oru who thinks it's all glitz and glamour. I know what it's like to be a corp-hero. I won't...if I go through with this, I won't have my own life back even after I die.

 

"Do I want to run forever?" Though he said it aloud, it was obviously not aimed at Emerald Spider.

 

That was the crux of Mars' argument. Frankly, on Paris it wasn't a hard sell.

 

Rolling into a cross-legged seat next to Spider, Salmon said, without preamble, "I'm going open, Spide-E. A new name, a new identity. I'm going to work for Mars."

 

The rest of the day....actually, now he thought about it, the rest ofthe day was kind of a blur. He'd sort that out later,

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Hakim Naifeh kept tabs on whatever criminal activity was happening around the cities. It was a bit of a strange thing for a programmer to do, but of course, in this case, it was related to his part-time (more so recently due to an increase in workload) job of being a scholar of the magical arts and occasional crimefighter.

 

And for the first time in a while, one of his colleagues from that job popped up in the news. It was nothing major, a small-time heist. But it meant something was going on again. EC didn’t get nearly as much attention as Freedom City, which, all things considered, was probably a good thing. But perhaps it was time to catch up with some of said colleagues.

 

His entrance was the same as usual, an inky black portal appearing and him stepping through. Considering the only people currently at the scene were the two heroes he trusted most, he didn’t go for any theatrics or for keeping up his persona. Instead, he just casually walked over and sat down. Salmon was speaking about something that seemed to be important, and Hakim just managed to catch the last few words.

 

“Hey all. Any big ne- Oh yeah, that’s certainly something.”

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Peri took a few moments to eat some noodles as she processed what Salmon had dropped on her, compared to that revelation a man appearing out of a portal seemed pretty mundane. Apparently, this now was her life.

 

"Help yourself to food, there provided plenty. There are some spare chopsticks and if you really need it a few forks as well. As my Granny always likes to say, eat first problems laters."

 

Still, the problem wouldn't go away and once Peri was happy that everyone had helped themselves she bought thing back to Salmons statement.

 

"Look if that what you want to do I wish you every luck, but I can't help but ask why? After all, we all know what he's really like..."

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"Hey," Lilly felt a gentle hand on her shoulder, looked up and saw one of the ASTRO labs techs looking at her with that oh so telling I-want-something stare. "Mind running a bit of an errand real fast?"

 

She struggled to remember his name for a moment . . "I mean, it doesn't really matter if I mind, since you help pay my tuition, but it's nice of you to ask." Ah! That's right, Alex. Lilly clapped her book shut in her lap and leaned back, a little smile taking some of the edge off her words. "So what's up?"

 

"So, we've been getting some weird exotic particle readings for a while, but it flits around real fast, so we could never find a source. Before it vanishes, you could just go real quick and find—"

 

"Where?"

 

Alex stammered out the address. "S-so if you co—" A blink. Lilly was gone. "...Okay?"

 

 

She wasn't a speedster by any means, but when getting dressed and moving to where you wanted was the matter of thought, she was still pretty quick.

 

There was a red light and a flash of cold. When both faded, standing a little away from the trio was Warp. Her eyes swept over the scene and her whole body jolted a little when she found somebody—somebodies—right there. He reyebrows rose slightly as she took them in. While Warp didn't really know them, she did know OF them. She was comparatively new to the city Emerald City's hero scene—though the city took pains to avoid calling them what they were—wasn't exactly big. Warp took quick note of them—the labs would have better luck figuring out which of them were giving off 'exotic particles'.

 

 Warp put a hand on her hip. "I feel like I'm interrupting something."

Edited by Curious Key

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“Hey all. Any big ne- Oh yeah, that’s certainly something.”

 

Salmon hurtled to his feet at Sha'ir's sudden appearance, but flopped back to the roof with a groan.

 

"Oh, hey there, Spells. Please stop giving me heart attacks. Yeah, I've been thinking about this ever since the hospital, back last year when Fastcat showed up." The Emerald Cities' first home-grown supervillain's bizarre name had quickly shortened in the passage of time. Mostly from lobbying by the retro freaks who had thoroughly colonized the comment sections of any periodical that dared raise its head on either side of the Columbia. That and, even though nobody had seen her since her mysterious escape from police custody en-route to the city jail, it was kind of a mouthful to tell people you were being attacked and/or robbed by a speedster with such a long name. The really out-there theorists were claiming the government had given her that name for just such a reason. Waving aside that long-cold case, Salmon grabbed the box of noodles and upended around half of the steaming mess into his mouth. It was several seconds of noisy, slurpy chewing before he spoke again.

 

"Please give my compliments to the chef, Spide-E, and tell them I am at their service for all time." he said around a mouthful of grain and spices, rolling onto his back to stare up at the sky "And I know what Max is like. We've all seen his other face. He just wants supers on his side to protect him and his business. But...that's not wrong. There's a bunch of supers over on the East Coast who have other supers as security and lab assistants and stuff, if the Ghost's not talking cuss. And-"

 

Quote

There was a red light and a flash of cold. When both faded, standing a little away from the trio was Warp. Her eyes swept over the scene and her whole body jolted a little when she found somebody—somebodies—right there. He reyebrows rose slightly as she took them in. While Warp didn't really know them, she did know OF them. She was comparatively new to the city Emerald City's hero scene—though the city took pains to avoid calling them what they were—wasn't exactly big. Warp took quick note of them—the labs would have better luck figuring out which of them were giving off 'exotic particles'.

 

 Warp put a hand on her hip. "I feel like I'm interrupting something."

 

Salmon found himself staring up at what wasn't a familiar face, but the cause for a very familiar phenomenon.

 

The Outsider. Dragoneye had detected a new power in the Emeralds, one who could walk through the void as easily as walking through a doorway, who brought the chill of endings and the red darkness of a butcher's cleaver with every step. Inside, Salmon thanked his lucky stars that he was lying down and(mostly) wearing a mask. It made concealing the waves of raw terror a lot easier.

Careful. Tip-toe. You'll get used to this in no time.

 

----------

 

"Evening, stranger!" a lanky kid in a weird, Coast Salish art-derived costume waved from what was presently the floor. "I was just telling these fine people that I've decided to sign up with Mr. Mars. Always wanted to find out what's up at the top of that tower of his," another hand, one holding a very-much-depleted box of noodles, waved at the distant gleaming shard of emerald glass that was the Emerald Tower of Emerald City, Oregon. 

 

"Name's Salmon, but call me Ishmael. The fine shou in the high-tech suit is Emerald Spider, our city's loveliest and first heroine. The glowy-eyed shon in the robes is my main man Sha'ir the Spellsmith. What d'you call yourself?"

 

 

 

Edited by Ari

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Warp's eyebrows rose as she stared for a moment at the kid laying on the roof. "Well, Ishmael, let me know when good old captain Mars starts sending you after a white whale, so I can stay far away."

 

The boy had been real spooked the moment he'd spotted her, but considering it was hard to blame him for it; she wasn't exactly easy on the eyes. "Yeah, I figured, Emerald doesn't exactly have a lot of capes." The fact that she'd thought their names were Flounder, Shane the Shellsmith and Emerald Arthropod prooobably wouldn't have been appreciated, so she kept that quiet. She pointed a thumb at herself. "I'm Warp, and I'm new in town. A bunch of people on a roof seemed a little weird. Thought I'd take a closer look.

Edited by Curious Key

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Hakim had just grabbed some food of his own. Eating while keeping his hood up wasn’t easy, and while he trusted the other two heroes, he didn’t trust them enough to reveal just who exactly he was. He sat down on the ground and began to slowly shovel it into his mouth, as his senses picked up something, and barely a moment later, the stranger stood before them.

 

Hakim hadn’t expected it and wasn’t sure how to react, just assuming his general Sha’ir position of “don’t move, look like a construct”. He kept it up for just a second, before breaking character again. “Ah, screw it. No need to keep up this act. “ He held his box upwards and lowered his head ever so slightly to greet Warp, before continuing to eat.

 

“Nice to meet you, having more people around’s always good. “ Then, he turned towards Salmon (Ishmael, apparently?), speaking in a slightly teasing tone. “You know, if you just wanted to see what’s up there you could’ve just told me. One snap and we’re there”

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Whilst her eyes were still covered Peri had uncovered her lips, it was a losing battle to try and eat noodles under a face mask. This helped right now as she gave Warp and friendly smile, and looking a little embarrassed she knew she was technically the first modern hero in Emerald City but she definitely didn't feel like a role model.

 

"Please take a seat and help yourself to food, I'm sure the restaurant thought I was feeding a Spider family. And we're all equals here so don't be afraid to speak your mind."

 

She briefly pauses, for a quick mouthful of noodles, before addressing Salmon again.


"Look I understand if you need the money but why work for him if you know he's not on the level? Why not work over there?" she gestured to the parts of Emerald on the other side of the river "I know Citizen, well as well as you can with him really, maybe we could swing you a job with Archetech?"

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The trio seemed pretty welcoming, and Warp was hardly about to turn down a chance to get paid to eat, so she hopped a little closer, took a seat crosslegged, on the rooftop and snagged some noodles within arm's reach. While everyone else seemed to be having some difficulties with their masks, Warp had been spared the trouble. I guess that was the way it was when your 'normal' was your mask.

 

When Spider had finished giving the Carp her take, Warp was still slurping down a large portion of noodles. This whole thing felt off-kilter, but Warp wasn't really sure what to make of it. "I don't really know Mars," she shrugged. "And I don't really know Emerald. But something about old men pulling strings up in high towers sort of rubs me the wrong way." She leaned to the side and pointed a thumb toward the actual highest building in the city.

 

She was barely okay with the idea of having to wield her own powers. The sort of  things that other people could do . . . If she hadn't been backed into a corner, she wouldn't have accepted ASTRO's offer. Maybe it was hypocritical of her to say so? In a way, Warp's actual involvement with ASTRO wasn't official, or even public. But they knew that they'd bought Warp's presence in their labs with Lilly's internship, as much as it hurt to admit. It could be that Mars was no less shady than ASTRO, in the end . . . So Warp shrugged. "I don't know about Archtech...Do you remember the whole Archeville scare?

 

"...Maybe not, though. That was mostly in Freedom." Warp sighed, curled her toes. She hadn't been involved, but the fallout had taken its toll on the city for years. "Don't get me wrong, they've done pretty good since then, and as far as I know Citizen is on the level." They'd gone to the same superhero prep school, and though Kat had never been acquainted with him there, it bought Citizen a lot of credit her book. "...But it kind of sounds like the decision's already been made.

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Well, Ishmael, let me know when good old captain Mars starts sending you after a white whale, so I can stay far away."

"Sure! I've got good harki for when things are about to go wrong, no worry." Paris couldn't guess what the white whale was talking about, but the context made the meaning hard to miss. He glanced out to sea. Abe would know what she was talking about, though he did have his phone...

 

No, not worth it. People think I'm an expert on Dragon's Daughter and I only know it from the memes.That can wait.

 

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"I'm Warp, and I'm new in town. A bunch of people on a roof seemed a little weird. Thought I'd take a closer look.

"Glad to have you! Yeah, this kind of meetup isn't too usual, but Joy's is a little outta our price range." A slight pause "Not that I'd go there, I have a guy. A friend, I mean, we're not..."

It was a relief when Sha'ir offered a lifeline

 

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“You know, if you just wanted to see what’s up there you could’ve just told me. One snap and we’re there”

"Well...jiggo, let's do it! Snap on, my good Shai-man" Salmon jumped to his feet and clapped his gloved hands together, rubbing them with a smile slightly hampered by the gaping fish face on either side of his own "Yeah, why not? What's the worst that could happen? I only saw it for a couple minutes and there's gotta be stuff there I'll never see when I'm working."

 

On 12/11/2017 at 1:41 PM, Tiffany Korta said:

"Look I understand if you need the money but why work for him if you know he's not on the level? Why not work over there?" she gestured to the parts of Emerald on the other side of the river "I know Citizen, well as well as you can with him really, maybe we could swing you a job with Archetech?"

 

The smile faded. "Spide-E, I love you, but you're not thinking about this right. Americana already has somebody more powerful than the Centurion in Lower Emerald. She's got mutants and aliens and all those bintas to choose from. Mars will take what he can get. If I try and press a deal with Americana, you think she won't just throw me out? Mars needs somebody who can smile and say some lines and is cool with mudslides and forest fires. I'd put up with more than that to get the suit he's promised."

 

On 12/12/2017 at 6:40 PM, Curious Key said:

"I don't really know Mars...But it kind of sounds like the decision's already been made.

Paris had followed Warp's finger and stayed dead silent, staring at Emerald Tower. It was hard to keep every instinct he'd ever learned from his aunt Ellen from screaming over what Mars and Lan had told him just hours ago...

 "Me, Spide-E and Shai have seen a different face of Mars than anyone else, Warp. I don't know him well but I know what he wants. He wants metas on his side, he wants someone who doesn't mind advertising for one of the best tech companies on Earth and he wants an Emerald City kid in one of his suits." He pulled the mask back over his face.

 

"But wouldn't hurt to check the place out, huh?"

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Emerald Spider gave a little sigh, saving people was easily sometimes the dealing with people was hard. But there were her friends, old and new, and she had to try her best to help them out.

 

"Mars just wants a symbol to parade about and show that he as a pet meta, I could be wrong but he's going to limit what you can and can't do as a hero." she paused and hoped that she wasn't making any sort of false promises "And despite a few mistakes that happened back in the day Archetech seems to be on the level, and we can always talk it out with Citizen, I'm sure he can pledge you case to the boss straight away."

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Warp was face deep in some noodles while Tuna and Spider let their thoughts be known. She couldn't share Trout's enthusiasm. "It definitely could hurt to check out." Warp said when she was finished, when she had space for a breath. "Maybe the stuff you'll find will help. Maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe it'll be worth it. But it could hurt, a lot." It could hurt him. And perhaps, depending on exactly what Mars' deal was, it could hurt other people too. "You gotta be real careful, Flounder."

 

It was either very brave or very foolish, what Guppy was doing. Maybe if she was more aware of what all Mars was, she'd be on Spider's side. She kinda was anyway.

 

After all, Spider had a point as far as Archtech was concerned. Warp gave her a nod. "Citizen seems like good people, far as I can tell, so they've definitely got that going for them. My only thought is, when it comes to attaching yourself to something big like that, there's always the chance it turns sour. I've been downplaying it a little bit, but his kind of thing, if it goes bad..." She cringed and breathed through her teeth. "It'll be huge. And there might not be anything you can do about it."

Edited by Curious Key

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Hakim, for the most part, just listened. He agreed with both sides, and just that already placed him in an uncomfortable situation. He could understand Salmon’s opinion. It was a way to get some attention, and probably some nice corporate benefits. And it would place him right up there at the head of EC.

 

 

But at the same time, Hakim still didn’t trust Mars all that much. Not just because of his job, even if that played into it. There was something that just suggested that more was going on, that Mars had some sort of ulterior motive. And of course, at that point all Salmon would be was living PR, which the other two seemed to understand quite well.

 

 

“They’ve got a point. I don’t know much about Archetech, or if they're any better, but being wary of Mars isn’t wrong. Still, your choice. “

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Ishmael shook his head "Like I told you before, Archetech won't want a koiboi like me. They'd love to have someone like you, Spide-E, but I'm just some guy who can run fast, not even as fast as most speedsters out East. Besides, they already have that Centurion-lite guy, I'd be painfully redundant no matter what they did with me. There's plenty for me to do around here that isn't just showing up at photo-ops or endorsements. The Fangs, for instance," Ishamel gestured broadly to the west, out to where the Columbia Bar lurked. resistant to over a century of work trying to pare down one of the deadliest shoals on the American Pacific coast. Without a broadening delta to soften and slow the river debris buildup, especially from upriver construction projects like the dozens of dams along the watershed, not to mention shipwrecks adding their bones, shipping had to tread lightly. There had been a shipwreck in December, a member of of the city's fishing fleet lost with all hands during the night. 

 

"There's fires, traffic accidents, mudslides, avalanches, shootings...those last not as much here as in Lower Emerald, but they happen. If I have to wear logos and say focus-tested lines, I don't care so long as I can help."

 

"Besides, if I should be so wary around Mars, don't you think it'd be a good idea to go take a look beforehand? I can't get into the upper levels of Emerald Tower on my own and by the time they let me in we might lose out on some evidence that Mars is some secret supervillain trying to infect us all with mind-control nanites." He folded his arms, the mask's eyebrow raising critically as he looked at Warp "Just saying, if you really suspect him that much..."

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He just wanted to do good. And it'd work, no matter how he was dressed. But when he'd stopped, Warp wondered...Would he notice? "I guess we'll see."

 

"Hey," Warp raised her hands. "Just said, I don't know the guy. Just saying, people who build a big tower so they can look down on everyone and get together a bunch of super thugs, tend not to be great people. Although . . ." She paused, her expression sliding into a soft smirk.. "I've never met a place I couldn't get in."

Edited by Curious Key

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Peri paused mid noodle as it finally twigged what the others were suggesting, through quickly continued eating as she considered her options. She didn't like the man at all, but she wasn't sure she was ready to break into his office, however, maybe there was another choice...

 

"I have a friend who can get you into the building quite legitimately, then you can go poking around to your heart's content."

 

They had the job to service the building and paranoid as he was there were multiple areas inside the building that needed almost constant maintenance, they visiting wouldn't even raise notice. She'd just need to call in a few favours to swap around who visited what.

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“Yeah, I’m with Spider on this one. Not that we couldn’t get in, and not that I don’t want to, but … yeah, breaking and entering isn’t quite my thing, I think. Doesn’t really fit who we’re trying to be. And if you-slash-we just happen to get in and take a few looks around …”

 

“Ah, who am I kidding, it’s not much better. But let’s see what Mars’ got to offer, I guess. Could be worth it. And between me and Warp, we should be able to get out if it goes south. “

 

It was a great opportunity. Getting a chance to see parts of Mars’ tower that weren’t the meeting rooms for pitches and the likes, which Hakim had seen on a handful of occasions before. Perhaps there was something there. Perhaps there was nothing. And even if he could already feel his conscience say that this was a terrible idea, part of him was too curious to pass it up.

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Warp's conscience, on the other hand, had absolutely no such compunctions. "I mean, either way we're not really going somewhere we're supposed to, are we?" Warp gave an easy little shrug. "But hey, if it makes you feel better..." It would take a bit of work, but Kat had done some work with her own makeup back when she was trying theater in Freedom, before everything fell to pieces. She couldn't probably use some makeup to cover up the nasty stuff her mutations had done to her body. "And . . . Yeah, if anything goes wrong we'd be good to get out of there just like that." She snapped her fingers, flashing black sparks.

 

"More noodles, please?"

Edited by Curious Key

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Peri knew the building well, she'd designed the maintenance for the air conditioning there.

 

"I know someone who does maintenance on the building, it's amazing who you meet on rooftops sometimes."

 

She passed Warp some of the noodles as she spoke

 

"Please dig in this will only go cold otherwise. Anyway she can get you passes to get into the building, then you can go poking around. And if things go wrong I can be there quicker than you expect." she didn't like lying like this but it was difficult to trust after what she'd been through.

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"Passes would be good," Ishmael said brightly "just don't get any from the guys around Wild Sheep Ave, they don't have anything that would get you into even the worst bars downtown. I know, I've tried."

 

Folding his arms, Ishmael surveyed the Emerald Tower. Like all the big corp headquarters, it blithely ignored the ordinance against buildings above a set number of floors. Originally, the ruling had been to make it easier to resist damage in the event of a cataclysmic earthquake, but by now it had mostly become about maintaining the elegantly-equal skyline of Emerald City, the precisely-leveled tiers of white, black, greys and the rainbows in between a nice stylistic touch. In postcards that made the breaches even more dramatic and exciting. People who actually lived in Emerald City and had to see it all the time just saw a pointless bit of posturing by the super-rich that put everyone around them at risk.

 

Things had lasted this long solely because of how much money went back into the cities themselves. There were the usual whispers, but for some reason what didn't work anywhere else was working in both Upper and Lower Emerald. One renowned local economist had driven himself into an early grave trying to figure that out. His family had been devastated, and the fact his life's work kept him a reliable punchline years later hadn't improved their feelings. 

 

Salmon had to smile. It was a comfort, to be reminded what was possible in The Facet City. "Folks," he raised a water bottle over his head "I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship." 

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