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Anne Leonard Books had been a fixture in Emerald City's trendy University Hill district since the late Sixties, but earlier in 2018 the elderly proprietor announced her plans to retire and sell the store, as none of her grown children had any interest in something as archaic as running a used bookstore. For several months, it looked as though she'd have to sell to some developer, who would either want to turn the painted lady into an Airbnb, or worse, just tear it down to put up ugly condos.


Luckily for Anne, a pair of young out-of-town investors contacted her in August, expressing interest in buying the store outright, including all current stock. They both flew in all the way from Freedom City to begin negotiations, and the retiring bookseller couldn't be more delighted with the young women; true, there was some unspoken tension between the two of them (Anne suspected some sort of romantic entanglements), but they couldn't be more professional or courteous in the business dealings. She felt a small twinge when they stated they would change the name to reflect the connection with the parent store back East, but it was hardly surprising; only her own children wouldn't have made such a change


Apparently the younger of the two named Gretchen would actually be operating the store, and she asked a lot of very educated questions about the neighborhood, the store's clientele and what sort of books sold best as well as the most requested items they didn't stock. When all was said and done, Anne felt very good about the sale, and even considered stopping in from time to time to see how young Gretchen McDaniels would fare

Edited by Heritage
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Silberman's Northwest. University Hill, Emerald City, Oregon. Monday, November 12th, 2018. 12:10 pm.


As first days went, it was going pretty good so far; true, Gretchen McDaniels wasn't always the friendliest proprietor, but what she lacked in social graces, she more than made up for in terms of her breadth of knowledge and professionalism. The store was well laid out, open on the extended ground floor while becoming both more snug and more mysterious the deeper you ventured into it. Despite her best efforts, a few lattes did sneak their way upstairs, but the mess was minimal. In place of Lynn's penchant for old posters for old magic acts, Gretchen favored nautical knickknacks and works by local artists on the walls, as well as a few vintage posters advertising the wonders of Emerald City. Finally the odd Oz-themed bit of bric-a-brac made the occasional appearance as well.


As for the shopkeeper herself, Gretchen worked the floor as best she could, envying her lover's easy rapport with strangers; she wore a brown Silberman's apron over an open red flannel shirt, Dead Kennedys T-shirt, black jeans and her favorite pair of Doc Martins.

Edited by Heritage
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Why was Mona in a bookstore in Emerald City? Because, as often happened to the blisteringly fast brained, she was incredibly bored. What was she doing there? Reading the books. At hyper speed. While eating ice cream at normal speed. So it was “approach bookshelf with ice cream, blur of movement, stroll to next bookshelf while putting plastic spoon back in mouth”. Mona wasn’t exactly what anyone would call a normal person. And as no one knew her in Emerald, she didn’t even feel the need to pretend. So she was dressed about as carelessly as humanly possible. Shirt? Sleeveless and oversized. Pants? Who could tell with such a big shirt? Shoes? Top tier running shoes. The best of the best, clearly expensive. Because running was about the only thing Mona took seriously. That, and being a superhero.

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Oh this was absolutely great! Ever since her mom had first brought her along when she five, Robin had always loved Anne Leonard Books. She had spent hours just looking at all the books, annoying Lucas Jr. to no end when he had just wanted to get out of there and look at something else. Robin had been worried when she heard Mrs. Leonard was going to sell it. So she had headed to the big opening, dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans, and her favorite red sneakers, rather worn from a good amount of use. She'd put a black hoodie on, unzipped to reveal a blue shirt with a big lightning bolt logo on the front, clearly modelled after Captain Thunder's. And of course her glasses. Needed those. Now that she stood inside Silberman's Northwest, it really didn't seem like Robin had anything to worry about. The entire thing was still amazing. And she really liked the new additions. Alright, granted, she was maybe kinda in the intended target audience.


So, Robin found herself browsing. She really liked the new area with books on science. Many more than there'd ever been before. And the movie and comics sections! It was great! She just kind of moved back and forth between whatever caught her fancy, as she explored the new setup, before finally deciding to approach who she guessed to be the owner. "Hi, are you the new owner? I love what you've done with the place! Anne never had a science section that big before!"

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Gretchen smiled her little half smile, nodded and adjusted her glasses. "Thank you. I'm glad you like it. Science and technology often seemed underserved at used bookstores, something I specifically wanted to avoid, especially in this city. I'm considering offering lectures on current issues in science down in the cafe. Maybe once a week." Her tone was fairly flat with a strong New England accent. After a few moments, she remembered Robin's question. "Gretchen McDaniels." Gretch really didn't do handshakes if she could help it, but she did offer a business card, which did indeed identify her as the owner.


Before she could continue the conversation, however, she noticed a young woman in a T-shirt eating ice cream while she...did something near the books. The bookseller's eyes narrowed as she stepped away from Robin, not bothering to excuse herself as she approached Mona, arms crossed in displeasure. "There are no outside food items allowed in the store. If you wish to continue shopping, you'll need to finish your ice cream elsewhere." There wasn't much hostility in her voice, more annoyance that she had to explain something so obvious.

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Alas, Mona’s mind was a million miles away. Metaphorically speaking, of course.She might as well have been deaf, for all Gretchen’s words affected her. For a few long seconds Mona didn’t react at all. With her build and her hair in sloppy pigtails, she seemed closer to 10 years old rather than 18. Then she noticed someone was there. And they had spoken. With words, even. She blinked rapidly, eyelids blurring ever so slightly. “Uh.” Her hand fed her more ice cream, as if it had a mind of its own. “Mmm.” Her eyes focused on Gretchen after a small eternity in her own mind and significantly less outside of it. “Oh. Okay.” She suddenly didn’t have the ice cream anymore, having thrown it out at hyper speed. After finishing it off, of course. Naturally, there were consequences for finishing off even a small quantity of ice cream that quickly. “Gah. Brain freeze.” The rules complied with so she wouldn’t be bothered by people, Mona perused the shelves in search of another book to hyper speed read. As soon as her brain thawed out.

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"I'm Robin Langley, nice to meet you!" Robin answered. She offered her hand to shake, but after fumbling with it for a moment, she accepted the business card again. Alright then, not a hand shaker. It was all good. The weekly lecture sounded interesting, and she made a mental note to try attending. She was just about to offer to host a few lectures when Gretchen ran off to deal with another customer. One that was eating ice cream. Robin kind of wanted to lecture the teen about the damage ice cream could do to some of the older books here, but she didn't want to step out of line. It was Gretchen's store, after all. 


Still, she slowly followed behind, catching the tail end of the conversation. And then the teen suddenly didn't have the ice cream anymore and yelled about brain freeze. Interesting. Super powers, maybe? "So, have all your new customers been like her?" she asked Gretchen, motioning towards Mona.

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Amir was grey, on grey, on grey.  A slate suit, fitted of course, with a lighter vest, a slightly more blue shirt, and a navy with grey diamond patterned tie, complete faux-horn rimmed sunglasses that lacked a bottom rim of the frame.  He was on point, but then that could always be said about Mr. al-Misri, he was a snappy dresser.

He did not throw the door open, instead just stepping inside as a normal customer might be expected to do.  He didn't drive a fancy hyper-car here, in fairness the parking sucked, and it was easier to hire a car, so he had done that.  Still he wasn't being ostentatious, well not to the ludicrous extremes he could do.  

He hadn't made it to Silberman's back in FC, because it really wasn't his sort of place, but here was a little different, less having to contend with his Imam hearing about it.  He didn't need to stress the poor man out anymore. 


Amir stopped, and frowned, as he looked at the markers for the sections.  There was a pause, and he rolled his eyes, as he took off his sunglasses and slipped them into his breast pocket.

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To say ones appearance was important would be to make an understatement in the realm of Oz, Colours, Clothes and even stylings all carried myriad contextual meanings amongst the denizens of Oswald's home plane and whilst it was no longer quite so important in this new world he had made his home in he still kept to those traditions fastidiously, thanks to some of the younger and more "hip" members of the wood clan he'd interacted with he'd gathered enough of an understanding of this worlds cultural and social norms to avoid making himself look like a dressed up donkey, something for which he was eternally grateful.


Walking into silberman's in a smart black suit with an emerald green tie, adorned with a pin of his own making, a talisman of the modrossus that he hoped would announce his nature to those in the know and practise of the craft but otherwise compliment the green with its silver metal, he had opted to forgo his usual glasses in favour of a pair of simple black framed reading glasses, walking into another practisioner's home and prying into their secrets was just rude.


Hopefully Astra wouldn't get into too much trouble whilst he was here.

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Merge Trois

It should work but even though their link had been strengthening it still didn’t reach right across the country. But somehow they link between Nicki and Merge still functioned, something about the link between the shops or some other mumbo jumbo that Merge didn’t really understand or care much about. All that mattered was that they were linked and could feel each other presence.


Being early days she was on her best behaviour so between stocking the shelves she was also greeting the new customers she met, just one of her out front and other her in the back doing behind the scenes work.


“Hello, sir and welcome to... Oh!”


Much too late she realised just who she was talking to, Asad and her had a... complicated history.

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Drew to a stop, his jaw muscles clenching and unclenching as he stared at the woman before him. His desire to haul off and slug her because she was trouble.  Pure, unfiltered trouble.  


Amir's jaw clenched and unclenched as he looked at her, "Yes. Me.  Pardon, I need to check my wallet."  And he made a show of reaching down to check his front pocket as he made eye contact with the former thief.  "Though I suppose this tells me everything I need to know about this place, and it's owner, hm?  What, are you all Robin Hood here?  Raiding the scary Emerald City business and redistributing their wealth to the downtrodden, or, more likely, your Swiss account?"

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As she moved about the store, Gretchen became aware that Robin was following her, even though the terse store owner assumed their conversation was over. Four years ago, she would've dismissed her with a cutting remark, but sadly her time with Lynn had softened her edge; now she'd come to realize that sometimes you had to be polite, or even nice.


"Not very many," she offered with only minor irritation as she scanned the store like a bird of prey. "Most seem content to wander the store and see what we have to offer. Many patronized the old store, and are looking for excuses to write nasty Yelp reviews to somehow 'avenge' the previous owner. Ridiculous. Sales will be good, but not amazing. We have to hope for positive word-of-mouth."


Her head cocked to one side as she noticed an odd fellow wearing what she at first took to be the symbol of the Deathly Hallows (curse Lynn and her love of literary trash!) before she recognized its true significance. As much as the logical engineer in her loathed magic, she could not deny its power and the influence it had on her life. It was bad form not to be polite and civil to practioners in a new city, so she once again started to walk away ftom Robin, although this time she offered her a departing nod and a hint of a smile, which didn't lock her out of future conversation.


And then she saw Asad; she'd never dealt with the brilliant billionaire engineer directly, though she'd seen him at the occasional 'superhero' event. Though she would hardly call Merge a friend (gah!), she was...more than a casual acquaintance and certainly an employee. Sensing a bit of tension between the two, she actually decided to head on over to defuse the situation; Lynn would be so proud! As she made her over to the pair, she took the opportunity in improvise a greeting for the man with the emerald pin: she placed her hands on opposite shoulders the way an incredibly lame ex of hers used to show her (LARPers!), bowed her head and offered a cryptic phrase, half sincere and half in jest.


"Blessed be."


Finally she joined Merge and Asad, standing just to the right of her frequently annoying employee. "Can I help you with any purchases today, sir?"

Edited by Heritage
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Oswald had spent most of his time at the store browsing the various sections with a mild interest in titles that were to him, cryptic until the store owner found a moment to approach.


"Blessed be." He responded in kind with his own slight bow of the head.


 "I've just blown in from...well far away and thought it would be prudent and polite to introduce myself to members of the "community" if you will." He explained as he idly thumbed his tiepin and gave the shop a brief look around.


"I have heard that silberman's is a good place to begin." He added as he offered his hand to the young lady.


"Im Oswald, Oswald Zappelius. Please call me Os." Smiling pleasently all the while.


"That said a friend of mine has recomended i look into the works of Frank L. Baum do you have any of their works in-stock and suggestions for where to begin?"

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Robin agreed that Gretchen would have her work cut out for her. The old shop had a lot of patrons, after all, her included. Not that she felt the need to point that out to the new store owner. No need for the tension, and Gretchen seemed like she was plenty busy already. "I'll do my part on the word-of-mouth!" she called out, making a quick wave after Gretchen as she moved out into the store, towards the commotion up front. Alright, she was the store owner, of course she was busy. 


Whatever commotion was happening up front, Gretchen could deal with it. Robin's interest had been piqued by the kid. The way the ice cream just disappeared, and the way she moved, she had to have super powers of some kind, right? And Robin really wanted to find out just what. So, she stayed behind, turning to the kid instead. Well, not really kid. She was older than that, wasn't she? "Sooo... You got super speed of some kind?" she asked, a hopeful tone in her question. The fangirl in her wanted to find out if the kid was some famous hero. Maybe related to Velocity. The scientist and hero wanted to find out how the girl's super speed worked, if that was what she had, so she could maybe find a way to work it into her suit.

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It was like a switch being flipped to a different position, his demeanor changed like that.  Then came the high wattage al-Misri Smile™, as he switches his expression from somewhere between incensed contempt and anger to the sort of mild pleasantness one was expected to use.

"As-Salaam-Alaikum," he responded to Gretchen, "I hadn't anything specific in mind, just window shopping.  I suppose, though, I do need a new copy of Freakonomics.  Perhaps Confessions of an Economic Hitman."  That smile was easy, and he knew when to let it slide away, like now, as he leaned in to whisper somewhat theatrically secretively to her.


"I apologize, unfortunately she and I have a history.  Rather than divulge it further and risk being crass, you should ask her about.  You'd find it enlightening, perhaps even entertaining."  He leaned back, a hand rising up to smooth at his tie, out of habit.

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Merge Trois

Her natural instinct would be to make a witty retort and turn on her heel, and damn the circumstances, but she was still trying to grow as a person. She wasn’t perfect but she was getting better.


Ms. McDaniels has been informed of my previous behavior and me being here is to just to earn an honest wage. I’m not here to try and embezzle or con anything from anyone.” she sounded genuine in her intent


“And I’m sorry if you feel that anything I’ve done was to you detriment, at the time I genuinely try to help.

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And the girl had just zipped away again, leaving Robin standing. Probably didn't even hear her. Well, alright. Completely fine. She would just keep browsing, then, buuuut... that commotion near the front was starting to sound pret-ty interesting. Robin's curiosity got the better of her, and she went closer, seeing one of the employees talking to a man in a really nice suit. She couldn't quite make out what they were saying from her position a bit away, but the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife.


And then she recognized the man. She at least managed to hold back the squee that built, instead of just going with the incredibly dignified "Omigod you're Asad!" A real, life super hero, right here! This was awesome!

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Unfortunately, Mona had been doing that not paying attention thing she did away from home. The very same thing that caused to respond to Gretchen most oddly. So yes, she had zipped away again to a different shelf. Only there, she paused. A heartbeat later (as she realized someone had once again spoken to her) she kind of just appeared facing Robin. She had acquired a lollypop from somewhere. Grape flavored, apparently. “Yep, I’m fast.” She knew who Asad was, of course. The man was incredibly famous. She just didn’t have any use for him at the moment, thus his existence was ignored. She worked on her candy some more. “Did you want something, or…?”

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She was good at getting under his skin, of course she had only manage to start on the wrong foot, and kept leading with it ever since.  He couldn't go back to the Bahamas because of her!  Well, he could, but he didn't want to, which was more the point.

"I am sure she has," he sniffed, in a dismissive tone, not looking at Merge, because he was frankly done, and he hoped that the albatross she was didn't mean something horrible was going to happen.  Then came Robin, and the rush of her enthusiasm, and it nudged him back on his heels, and he looked at her, his smile ramping up to the full al-Misri wattage.  "Hello, I am at a small loss, here, but you can call me Amir, if it's easier, and you are?"

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A speedster and Asad on the same day, this was awesome! And now both were talking to Robin at the same time? 


She had never even met other heroes before, and here was Asad! And Robin didn't even have her costume on. Should she tell them? No, probably not. Secret identity, right? It wasn't a thing about super heroes telling others their secret identities at their first meeting, right? She really hoped it wasn't.


"I'm Robin! Robin Lynne Langley! I'm a huge fan!" She was keeping herself from bouncing, but she was cluthing her hands in front of her chest, a huge grin plastered on her face.


Robin realized that the speedster kid had answered her, too. No need to be rude. "Oh, sorry! I'm just really interested in super powers! There's not a lot of super heroes around Emerald City."

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  • 2 weeks later...


Merge Trois

With the attention on others Merge took the opportunity to slip away, actually, she just dismissed that version of her what with another version of her still working out the back. Back home in Freedom City Nicki gave a sigh after the whole event thing were just as fraught as they’d always been. She’d like to make peace with Asad, he’d help her brother out after all, but this was something that would take time even if it ever did happen.


Still Merge was a creature of the moment and she was already focused on her job, the problems of Asad already a fleeing memory.

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