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Avenger Assembled

(IC) Diluvian

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August 2018 

 

The invasion was over - and Freedom City was rebuilding. With her husband occupied with the rebuilding process, Nina al-Darsah Lucas was taking a rare opportunity to get out of the house with her son and walk the streets of Freedom City. Close to a year old now, Amir Richard Lucas was dressed in a striped blue and white onesie that matched his mother's headscarf - which he seemed to recognize from his eagerness to rid her of that garment.

 

"Amir!" she taunted him in playful Arabic as they walked fearlessly along the short pleasure boat dock extending out into the river. They were close by the Pramas Bridge, but for the moment Nina's eyes were all on her baby. "That is Mother's! Do not take from your mother!" She caught the baby's hand and he laughed, and she laughed too. He'd risen early that morning, but so had she, heading out together through the city with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the money in her pocket. "Come on, it's swimming time," she told him as she picked her big boy up in her arms and stepped off the dock; the two of them falling together into the river and not coming up. 

 

From his position on the pedestrian pathway on the bridge, Tempest had seen the mother and baby fall into the water without a sound - but it didn't look like anyone else had. This early in the morning, with most of Freedom's heroes and first responders still doing cleanup, if he didn't take action, no one else would.

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Zack grimaced, glancing down at his civilian garb. He'd been out on a walk when he witnessed them go overboard, for lack of a better term, and now he needed to save them... ideally without causing too much of a fuss. No time for that now, he thought, and flung out his mind as best he could, fishing for them desperately with his telekinetic senses. If he found them, he would grasp them as gently as possible and pull them from the water. Otherwise, he glanced briefly around to ensure no one was looking at him, and slipped down off of the bridge, flying low and close to the water as he grabbed his bandanna-mask to obscure his features.

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Nina was briefly confused when she felt the tug pulling her out of the water - then her body tensed as she understood what must be happening. Assassins! Rather than resist a pull that was greater than her own ability to combat it, she used her own kinetic powers to enhance Tempest's pull, leaping out of the water with Amir as if the two of them had been shot from a cannon. Landing on a nearby dock, she took a moment to size up the situation - a man she didn't recognize, not in superheroic garb, with strange powers; she took the opportunity to snap open her sword with a flourish, the long, curved scimitar shimmering slightly in the early morning light. "Who sent you!" she demanded of the man flying over the river, her English accented with the Received Pronunciation she'd learned from her tutors. Neither mother nor baby seemed terribly traumatized by their dip in the river, even though Tempest had distinctly seen them go under for a good thirty seconds. Even the baby didn't look bothered; instead burbling like an angry kettle as he tried to get his mother's attention.

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"Sent me?" Tempest frowned behind his mask. "Whoa now." He floated a bit further from the dock on which they had landed. Clearly this city is insane. I've heard of villains and stuff, but waving a sword at one's savior seems a little bit crazy. He eyed her sword, wondering if she could even hurt him with that blade. It was possible, he decided, and kept carefully out of her sword's reach - by more than a few yards. "Is this a traditional Freedom City thank you, or something? 'cause I would be willing to swear that I just helped you, madam. So why don't we hold off with the swording of people and things and take a few minutes to talk?"

 

Even as he asked, though, he focused his mind, preparing to gently take the child from her if she seemed even more unstable than she already was acting. It would not do to let her harm a child, even if the child was hers.

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"...oh," said Nina after a moment's pause, giving the good Samaritan one more once-over before putting her sword down - albeit not a way. Diplomatic measures were the way to go, especially now that so many new people were coming to Freedom City to aid in its reconstruction. She was soaking wet but not dripping; on closer inspection, most of what she was wearing (down to her headscarf) seemed to be made of the same stuff as bathing suits and superhero costumes. Her son seemed in an equal state, covered in water but drier than he should have been. "Your pardon," she said. "My son and I have many enemies; I had reason to be suspicious." She studied the man and added, "I don't know you - but in Freedom City I am Nina al-Darsah, Monsoon." As Tempest watched, the water on the baby's carrier began to flow outwards and upwards, as if the water had become quicksilver. "This is my son, Amir Richard.

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Tempest tilted his head at this. Monsoon, huh... He didn't recognize the name, but that was unsurprising - he'd not spent much time studying heroes in his life. Well, he might've known it, but he wasn't remembering it. Regardless, he relaxed slightly as she put her sword down, releasing his mental tension for the moment. "No worries. I guess these things happen..." Though that was entirely new to him. "I'm called Tempest. Well, I would be called Tempest, if anyone knew of me, and if I were in my full costume, but... Tempest will do for now." He shrugged, floating slightly closer.

 

A hydrokinetic, then. He realized as she removed some of the moisture from her son's carrier with more precision than he would likely be able to. "I take it you were not actually in danger, then. My apologies for interrupting your... bath? Outing?"

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"Oh, I'm sure we looked very alarming," said Monsoon with a smile. She unbuckled her son from his front harness and held him in her arms, turning him around so Tempest could see big blue eyes and a frizzy one-year-old's black hair. Amir gave him a very small child's deep stare and smile. "Amir and I both have aquatic abilities, and I enjoy testing him with them - especially now," she added with a reflective look at the river that had only recently been cleared from the post-invasion wreckage. "Tempest, hmm - are you new to Freedom City?" she inquired. His lack of costume certainly suggested that, but commenting on a stranger's wardrobe when they might make a powerful friend was an indelicate idea. 

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"You could say that..." Tempest said wryly, recalling his own alarm at their fall. He bowed his head gravely at the child, a smile crinkling the edges of his eyes. "Well, at least no one was harmed in this case. Other than my heart." He paused, eyeing her more closely. He'd spent the last month helping to clear out the wreckage from various places, though he hadn't fought to protect anyone, and it was still difficult to read people of Freedom, for whom it was a home. "I am new, more or less. I've been working on some things..." He shook his head, clearing the thoughts. "But now I'm here, and active. I don't know many people of our sort here, so I'm... just doing what I can, when I can." The fact that that never seemed like it was quite enough gave an edge to the words he hadn't intended.

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"Oh, well, we can't have that," said Monsoon in a voice like warm steel. "Come along with me and I'll get you settled in." She fearlessly walked up to Tempest and looked him over, mother and baby now completely dry. "And don't think it's charity that I'm giving you out of the goodness of my heart," she told him with a smile. "Looking out for each other is part of the job." That was a sentence she'd picked up from her husband, but there was no reason to dwell on that. She fished her keyfob out of her pants pocket and tapped it, making the lights flash on a nearby Mercedes E-class station wagon. With that pronouncement made, she went to work strapping Amir into the big infant seat in the back of the high-end wagon, Amir cheerfully burbling and waving his arms. "I'm part of a team called the Liberty League, named for the first American super organization. I'll take you somewhere where you can meet people.

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Tempest frowned, tilting his head. Can't have what? Me doing my best? He wondered wryly, floating towards her as she approached. "Charity or no, I appreciate your help." He paused, frowning slightly behind his mask. "Um, should I change into my full... eh, call it an outfit? A uniform? Whatever." He hadn't had time earlier, thinking there was a danger, but now that he was being presented to a... Liberty League, he wondered whether he should be more formal.

 

Settling onto the ground, he followed Monsoon by foot, reminding himself that walking was important in keeping himself from deteriorating entirely. "The Liberty League, though... I feel like I should know more about them than I do. Or at least... remember things." His voice dropped glumly, and he shook his head slightly. No kidding. But that's life, at least. He pushed the thoughts away, smiling faintly. 

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"I think we can go without our formal wear today," she said politely. She put Tempest in the front passenger seat of the station wagon, a saleswoman's smile on her face once they were inside the vehicle proper. "Siri, play Etab!" That got a burble of delight from the baby in the backseat, even as Nina affectionately rolled her eyes. "Pardon my son's taste in music, but he only likes the oldies." As the car moved, she looked at Tempest and said, "The Liberty League was founded during World War II to fight the forces of fascism. Midnight and Jimmy Lucas were some of its early members." She wondered about amnesia, but was comfortable enough in her own space to trust this stranger.  "Do you have a name besides Tempest?" she asked. 

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How relaxed is she about this? I guess that's the amazing thing about people whose identities are public. Tempest mused as he clambered into the car. "I, ah, don't mind at all. Music is something that I used to enjoy very much. I'm not as musical these days, but I still can appreciate the beauty of others' music." That was the truth. Ever since his... escape, he supposed, he'd had trouble playing the music that he'd once been able to easily do. 

 

At her explanation of the Liberty League's origins, Tempest's eyes tightened slightly. "Lucas? Is there any relation?" Even though inherited suffering was a distant thing to him now, he still felt the twinge of anger and grief of his people being obliterated. He thought for a few moments. "Was it decommissioned after the war ended? The League, I mean. So this would be the second Liberty League?"

 

Her question gave him pause. "I have such a name, yes... but I generally don't hand it out to strangers. I'm a little concerned that some old... foes of mine might come hunting for those who are associated with my other name."

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Nina told Tempest the story of the Liberty League with some pride - founded during World War II and abandoned in the early 1950s, it had been revived in the new century by her husband and his friends, the former being the grandson of Jimmy Lucas. "I joined myself some time later," she said with pride, "to help bring liberty to my people in Socotra." She shot a look at Tempest to see if he recognized the name of the Middle Eastern monarchy, then added, "But we'll discuss that later. Siri, call Mark Lucas." She spoke to the man on the other end of the line in Arabic for a few moments, giving Tempest a chance to see they were driving down recently-cleared streets towards a house by the edge of the Atlantic before she hung up. "I understand being afraid of assassins," she commented as they parked in the house's driveway. "Who wants you dead?

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"I see..." Tempest nodded, unsure whether to be impressed or amused. "That's some devotion to the cause, definitely. To resurrect something so long gone. Well, maybe not so long, compared to some." He mused, rubbing his chin through his mask absently. Man they live in a nice part of town. Benefits of being a public superhero, I guess? He rolled his shoulders as he slipped out of the car. "You're from Socotra, then? A fascinating place, to be true, but... I fear I know little of what goes on there in an immediate way." He paused, before chuckling dryly. "I guess you are used to assassins, huh. I don't think that they want me dead. They want me alive, which is worse. I won't go back to being an experiment... but I don't know who wanted the experiments done, so I can't really say who's coming after me yet."

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Monsoon listened to Tempest's history as she unfastened her son from the backseat, nodding at all the right moments - well he certainly sounded like a powerful and even useful ally, assuming she could keep befriending him. "When was the last time you ate something?" she asked politely as they walked inside her house, an older house with a strange assortment of interior decorations - to Tempest's eye, it looked as though someone had gone wandering the world to find dark hardwood tables from Latin America, Chinese art on the walls, and books on the shelves with a wide variety of subjects. There was an artist's eye behind the chaos, though, turning the inside of the house into a collage rather than a cacophony. 

 

Dropping Amir in a playpen near the dining room, Nina headed for the kitchen. "And while I am at it, do you have a change of clothes?

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"Ate? Oh, just... probably a few hours ago?" In all honesty, he wasn't sure when he'd last eaten, though he wasn't feeling especially hungry now, which meant it had probably been recently. He was reasonably sure. 

 

The chaotic yet harmonious decor didn't even raise an eyebrow from Tempest, who chuckled softly. She reminds me of my aunts. Scary thing is, I don't think I'm much younger than they were, or she is. He glanced in the direction of Amir's playpen, measuring his age against how old Zack would have been at the time. Yeah, she's probably about the age my aunts were when I was little. Strange, I thought that it was so old at the time, but now... nope. "A change of clothes? Um, I have my full costume, but nothing else, no. ... Why do you ask?" He was reasonably sure that he wasn't wearing anything that had gotten wet... and she'd have been able to remove the wetness even if he had fallen in the river.

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"Because a superhero should have clothes. If you check the hall closet," she commented, "you can find one of the outfits my husband made - they should just about fit you," she said, giving Tempest a critical look over. "Go ahead and take one." The clothes in the hall closet, close enough that he was still in Nina's view as he went, turned out to be mostly outdoors clothes - jackets and hats from Freedom City's universities and sports teams for both men and women, but there were several complete outfits in sealed plastic bags. These were clearly not of the generic make of other clothes in the closet; instead they were generally sports shirts and slacks of various shades of gold, blue, and white. If Nina thought it was strange to have that in the hallway, she made no comment, instead calling "If you're not hungry, at least take some food for the road! Yes, pretty boy!" 

 

"Aaaah!" called her son cheerfully. 

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