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Wharton State Forest, just off Sorrow House Road

Right Now

 

The creature in the clearing lounged in a throne made of bone enjoying there first taste of freedom in centuries. It had expected someone to try and stop its return but was really disappointed by the effort, only a single human female had tried to stop them with her flaming sword. She was now held by some of the skeleton warriors, servants of old returned to carry on there servitude. The glowing green eyes beneath her hood was a nice touch they'd have to determine how she managed such a trick.

 

"Did you expect to be able to beat me all by yourself pitiful human?"

 

"Not exactly." the woman voice had an accent unfamiliar to them "Let me tell you how this all started a..."

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Few Days Ago

Silberman’s Books, West End

 

Blodeuwedd sipped her tea thoughtfully as she considered her options this had been her last source for what she'd been looking for, calling in a favour from an old friend. She knew where the artefact was being held and could have with a little time to plan have recovered it herself. But if the Madoc Manuscript was true then she only had a few days to recover it before the creature returned so she needed to do this as quickly as possible. And to do that she'd need a crew.

 

Picking up her phone she made a few calls and put out a few feelers to see if she could find just the right people for this job.

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It was an interesting message that had been put onto Capeslist. Heists were a rare thing, and they usually were quite hidden even in Capeslist’s fairly open structure. Cass liked the concept of it. Heists usually meant doing actual good things, or if not that, getting close to actual criminals, which made tracking down loose ends easier. Not that there were a lot of criminals on Capeslist.

 

A few messages later and he’d gotten a confirmation and a location. Silbermann’s? He supposed it just further supported that it was an amazing place to meet up and also one of the heroic community’s main hangouts. Not that he hadn’t been aware of either of those two before. And he knew somebody else whose skillset matched what the anonymous poster was looking for. So, one message to “Liam Evan Athansios” later, he’s also notified his original client and good friend of it.

 

Hey, this may be worth checking out fi you’re up for some action, these are always fun.

www.capeslist.com/home/asf78aswr/plain/reply

Let me know if you’re up and I’ll send over the details.

 

So, once the agreed-upon time came, he made his way to Silbermann’s once again. He walked in through the door as Bonfire, which probably told Gretch, Lynn and the others that he was here on business related things (as was the case every once in a while), grabbed his usual order from Gretch and then sat down by the woman he assumed to be the brains behind this all.

 

“Hey, is this spot still available? And are you waiting for somebody?”

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Even though this invitation came from a trusted ally, Tristan still had to think it over for a while.  Not because of the job's clandestine nature--he was becoming pretty comfortable with that--but simply due to the unknowns.  He wasn't sure who he might be working with on this mission, other than Bonfire, and new partners could spell trouble.  With a wry bit of insight, the doctor realized that this was a rather illicit viewpoint to automatically take; perhaps the criminals he hunted down were starting to rub off on him a little.  Once he decided to join the meeting, he then had to figure out the details.  Obviously, he wouldn't attend as himself.  A new face seemed like the clear solution, but on reflection, Tristan thought it a poor choice.  He was still trying to keep his shapeshifting under wraps, even from most other heroes.  He'd been invited as Leviathan, and so--as Bonfire had--he would show up as Leviathan.

 

He had doubts almost immediately.  Strangely enough, this was the first time in his career that the enormous lizard had ever just strolled through Freedom City.  Now, this was Freedom City, and so his presence wasn't entirely shocking to other pedestrians, but Leviathan looked dangerous enough that a lot of people quickly moved to the other side of the street.  A few police hesitantly approached him and inquired vaguely about his day, trying to tell whether or not he planned on causing trouble.  When he didn't start flipping over cars or trying to eat anybody, the West End locals relaxed slightly.  Leviathan got a few questions about himself, mentioned Bonfire's online blog, and even posed for some photos.  This could've turned into a full-blown event if he hadn't had somewhere to be; as it was, by the time he ducked his head and turned sideways to fit through the door of Silberman's, the reptile had a pleasant spring in his step. 

 

Leviathan waved at Bonfire, more to let the staff know he was here to see a friend and not wreck their shop than anything, and then began the delicate process of weaving through the bookshelves without knocking any of them over. 

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This would make it, what, three heists Casey had participated in? The first was for her mentor Terrifica, and had gone reasonably well; the second had been concocted by herself and the young heroine Echo to help the FCPD with a particularly tough case, and had largely been successful as well, other than that insane situation with all the pizzas (never again!). So while it would be wrong to accuse Miracle Girl of feeling cocky as she planned to help her old schoolmate Blodeuwedd, she was feeling rather confident about her fledgling non-criminal criminal career.

 

But that was before Leviathan casually entered the bookstore. 

 

What the heck...?

 

- - -

 

As was usually the case when she got involved in one of these schemes, the blonde heroine put a lot of effort into hiding her identity, but this one featured an extra challenge: the initial meet was in a public place, so she had to take a few extra steps. Like she'd done before, Casey bought all her clothes the day before at one of the many outlet malls in Delaware, paying in cash; she wore black biker boots, pre-distressed jeans, driving gloves, a navy blue warm-up jacket and a pair of wraparound sunglasses. She also sported a bobbed black wig, dark brown contacts and burgundy lipstick and nail polish; of course, no one could see the color of her nail polish under her gloves, but she knew it was there, and that's what really mattered.

 

Satisfied that her look gave her at least some anonymity, Casey had arrived early to scope out the place, scrutinizing Silberman's Books with all her advanced senses. She'd heard of the store before, seen ads for it in various places (apparently current FCU students saved 15% if they presented a valid school ID), but somehow never made it in before, and now thst she had, she regretted not having done so sooner. She loved to read, and the store had a funky bohemian vibe that appealed to her-

 

Whoa; there is some seriously advanced security for a store this size. And is that a secret, lead-lined back room...?

 

No, Casey thought to herself, shaking her head; today was not about investigating some weird West End bookstore. If the place was good enough for Cerys, she had to assume the place was legit; besides, in a city like Freedom, you shouldn't assume anything. There could be lots of good reasons to have a room like that; maybe the pretty owner was super-paranoid, and installed a panic room in her office? She'd seen stranger things.

 

Finally the time for the meeting was approaching, so the mysterious young woman went up to the bar to order some coffee. A brown haired girl with glasses and tons of ear piercings stood behind it, looking bored, though she stood up bit straighter as Casey approached.

 

"Wha, what can I get you?" 'Hardcase' had eight inches on her and over thirty pounds, much of it muscle; she didn't have to do much to radiate intimidation, though the barista (one 'Gretchen') did her best to stand her ground.

 

"French press, Ethiopian. For here." As before, she'd modified her voice as part of her persona, pitching it lower and somewhere in the realm of Scarlett Johanssen to make her sound a bit older and more dangerous. 'Hardcase' just stood there, hands in her jacket pockets, waiting on her drink.

 

After grinding the beans, putting them in the French press and adding hot water, Gretchen handed her the press and an empty mug; she was doing her best to avoid eye contact. "When the, uh, timer on the side beeps, that's four minutes. Then you...press down on the thing, and pour."

 

Casey pulled her hands out of her pockets and put a twenty on the counter, then took the press and mug and walked away. "Keep it," she said without looking back.

 

- - -

 

It took some effort not to gape at the reptilian hero when he made his entrance, but somehow Casey managed to keep her poker face. Then she got up from her table with her mug and strode over join Blud and Bonfire, praying to God Leviathan didn't recognize her.

 

"May I join you?"

Edited by Heritage

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Casey got her wish; Leviathan hadn't managed to recognize her in the past just with a change of hairstyles and her civilian glasses, so this latest disguise threw off his eyes very well.  That was not to say he didn't notice her, presumably like everybody else in the store. 

 

Pretty, in a rockstar kind of way, he thought, and sniffed the air to get an impression of not only the building and its inhabitants, but also monitor the street outside for any surprises.  The last time he met another hero in a coffee shop, it didn't quite go as expected.  His new olfactory range still took some getting used to; he had to really stretch his brain to pay attention to so much at once. 

 

She smells healthy, too.  Although not as much as Bonfire's new friend over there; she's downright Amazonian.  The reptile's new nose combined with old expertise to give him full appreciation of Blodeuwedd's incredible physical condition.  Leviathan couldn't recall much about this hero, much less the dangerous-looking "Hardcase," but he was ready to fix that. 

 

Unfortunately, he was a giant lizard barely able to stand up straight without catching his head on the ceiling, so approaching all casual and coy like the others just felt silly.  He walked over to the trio, rested one arm on the top of a nearby bookshelf, and tilted his chin toward Bonfire.  "I'm with him," he said bluntly. 

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Blodeuwedd

Blodeuwedd sat and watched with some interest as the various people filed in to answer her call to arms, taking interest in how they acted and what their body language told her about them. She waited for them to settle down before starting to explain the problem at hand.

 

"In case you don't know I'm called Blodeuwedd and I need your help." she paused before adding "There is an artefact that is needed to see off a potential apocalyptic situation. Unfortunately, the artefact is in private hand and needs to be recovered in a very small timescale. So I need your help to recover it in... less than legal means."

 

She gave them a moment to commit or otherwise to the theft, it was important that it was a choice given.

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Casey methodically went through the steps of preparing her French press as she listened to Blod describe the basics of the situation; it sounded like a simple smash-and-grab, but she assumed there was much more to it than that. It was strange thinking of this 'job' from two angles at the same time, both as Miracle Girl the crimefighter and Hardcase the criminal; each wanted more information, but for entirely different reasons.

 

"Define 'apocalyptic," she finally asked as she slowly stired some raw sugar into her black coffee. "And 'private hands'."

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