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Avenger Assembled

With Black Curtains (IC, open)

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"To somewhere warm, with any luck." Leroy nodded to Judy, still smiling but looking faintly confused "Oh, certainly Dee! I love puzzles! Shame to solve them, really. Be right with you!"

 

"And thank you, Nicole, for your kind words. To be Barista to your Joyellen is an honour." the towering boy sketched a smooth bow to the runesmith in the chair "Dio scorched the beans with dragonfire and I crushed them with my own hands for the straining. Delicate work, but the prize,"  smiled so broadly his eyes were nearly lost from sight,  "well, you have tasted it! Now I know the base is solid I can experiment." Leroy suddenly frowned, tapping his chin with one finger as his eyes roamed the ceiling. "I wonder. If you ever have the time, Nicole, we should see if enchantment survives replication. Someday, perhaps, there can be a Grail in every hand."

 

"And if you would like to join us for something much more relaxing, please, be welcome." Clapping Nicole warmly on the shoulder, Leroy went to join Judy, Ashley and Micah. Dropping elegantly onto his knees next to Judy, Leroy smiled fondly at his squadmate as he found and gently squeezed her hand. "Hey," he murmured low so it only reached her(and Ashley), golden eyes sweeping the table as he carefully selected a central piece, searching casually for its mates "what is the matter? Did I do something?"

 

"Ah, a pity to lock you together, my brilliant friends." He sighed dramatically, the wood clking beneath his darting fingers as he wove the center of the picture together. "I am afraid I must decline your kind and generous offer, Ms. Corinne. My mother told me not to eat any 'fake' food while I was here, and until I know what exactly she meant I must keep on the safe side." Looking up at Astrid's arrival Leroy eagerly waved her over with the hand not holding Judy's "Ooh! Battlemaid! Come and see, it is a splendid bit of art!" 

 

"We should visit the cathedral sometime, speaking of art. I saw it last week on a flight with Dio. Such a lovely rustic thing. Haunted too, I hear, by some implacable undead!"

Edited by Ari

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Corinne kept the smile on her face, it even showed a little in her eyes, if there was something denting her mood, it just didn't show.  She leaned forward to work on the puzzle, and not look at other people.  One hand lifted to rake fingers through her blonde hair, as she was finding the pieces and fitting them together piecemeal and in clusters.  What with Judy being distracted by boys.

"Well, they're Liege Waffles, though I let the dough sit overnight.  But if you want blue berries on them, go ahead."  She shrugged a bit as she responded, having no impetus to really push back against the negatives, or non-responses.  Not that she was holding anything against Abby.  She glanced at Reina, "Hullo, name's Corinne, senior."  And she thrust a hand out to her, and flashed a brilliant million watt smile, "Orange Squad, though I prefer us being Gold."  She laughed softly, as she felt daggers thrown at her, so her eyes made contact with Nicole's for a moment, and her expression didn't change in the slightest.

Though it flagged in the moment her attention moved through empty space, only to pop right back up to Ashley, and against the cannier 'older girl' stuff showed.  She pivoted quickly, "Abby!  C'mon!  I got some veggie tempura too if you wanna snack!"

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"Everything's fine," lied Judy, because everyone was there and watching them. She slid her puzzle piece into place and realized that, between one thing and another, her friends were almost done with the whole enterprise. Still it was nice to have Leroy there, paying attention where it should be paid. Her voice serious, she went on, "You know, before Ah came here, Ah thought things like ghosts and demons were, um, just stuff people made up to scare people." She said it like confessing a sin, blushing slightly even behind her tan cheeks. "But they're really real, even right here in Freedom City." 

 

"Lot of crap goes down in Freedom," agreed Ashley, shooting Corinne a quizzical look. "Lotta better places to live. And you know, you hear things about creatures and stuff like that, but a lot of those things aren't real. You can't actually get demons from a roleplaying game, right?" 

 

"Ashley, nobody believes that anymore," said Judy cheerfully. "But Ah mean, there _are_ haunted places, right? And evil ones? With spirits of eternal darkness and everything? That just..." She fiddled briefly with the gold cross around her neck. "Anyway, where do y'all think we'll go for the trip? Ah heard it might be to Freedom Hall." 

 

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Aurora

 

Oh no...She'd been rude... Reina stared into her lap, trying to hide the mortified look on her face. The moment she'd seen the look on Nicole's face she knew she'd misstepped. She couldn't interpret that look as anything but disapproving, and it made her want to run out of the room. But then the hand was pulled back and she was looking away and it was too late, too late. She was sure that there were words to say that would make things better and smooth things over but her mind was racing too fast and she couldn't pick anything sensible out of the rush. She tried to take deep breaths to settle her heart. Fighting was scary, but talking was scarier...

 

She was thinking of retreating from the puzzle entirely and slipping away before she could embarrass herself further when her ears tickled at the mention of a 'trip.' "...Haven't heard of a trip, did I miss something... important?" A note of panic managed to crawl into her voice. Reina didn't want to be out of touch, what if it was something important? What if she'd missed more things? The teachers would be so disappointed...

 

It took a moment before she realized that someone was talking to her. Her eyes swung toward Corrine. Oh god, if she waited she'd make an ass out of herself again! Reina reached out a faltering hand and gave Corrine an uncertain handshake, never quite meeting the other girls' eyes. "...Reina...Sophomore..."

Edited by Curious Key

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Abigail glanced up from the puzzle and over at Judy.

 

"One of my sisters is a ghost," she said in a very matter-of-fact tone.  "The other is possessed by a spirit of avarice, but she's got that under control."  The corners of Abigail's mouth turned up into a faint smile as she thought about Kimber and Becky, two people (along with her adoptive father) who have made the young mage's life on Prime livable.

 

"You know that large skyscraper downtown, with the castle on top?" she asked.  The Dutemps building was a bit of an oddity, even by Freedom City standards, but some of the kids at Claremont haven't really had much opportunity to go into the city.  "They live there.  Well, Kimber does.  For a certain flexibility with the word live."

 

She sighed, made a slight gesture with one of her hands and the rest of the puzzle pieces moved and snapped themselves into place on their own.  Then she spun and turned back to Corinne.  "Ah, good.  I could use a snack."

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"Well, if you insist, Leroy," Astrid answered playfully. If one wanted to get the demigoddess interested in something, calling her a Battlemaid was a good way of doing it. Flattery was the opium of warriors after all.

 

Taking a seat beside Leroy, Astrid took a look at the splendid art the gravity manipulator was taking about. Even though music was more her thing than art Astrid still recognized the piece as one of Caravaggio's famous oil paintings. "I guess having a Baroque era art puzzle is one way for Summers to remind us that we have a history exam soon. I wonder if that counts as low-key psychological torture?" She asked Leroy sarcastically, though, if she was being honest, she wouldn't put it past Claremont's headmistress to do such a thing.

 

Astrid started to put a couple of the last reminding pieces to their rightful place. While she did, she idly listened to the conversations and music around her, relaxing into the positive atmosphere. It was nice, and exactly the thing she needed right now.

 

She spoke up again when she heard Ashley, Abagail and Reina's conversation about the strange sites in Freedom. Astrid was still a stranger to the city, and although she had taken time to explore and visit some of the city's main attractions and sites, she still felt as if she didn't quite know it yet. "A skyscraper with a castle on top? Fancy. Any other weird or spooky locales in this city I should know about?"

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She offered up the carton of veggie tempura, and the dipping sauce, before she picked up her smoothie and took a sip of the heavenly nectar that was avocado smoothie.  After the slurp, she peeled off her leather jacket, and tossed it on the back of the chair she was at.  She adjusted the straps over her shoulders of her tops, including a battered AC/DC tank.  "It's from a new vegan cart that parks like, 4 blocks away in that parking lot?"  She flashed an easy smile to her squadmate, and she fidgeted.  Corinne was actually fairly touchy feelie, but she didn't like intruding into people barriers.

Not me! Came the intrusive bubbling.

So she looked back to Ash, the urge to mess with her strong, but she gave a pointed sweep of her bright blues (stunning some might say they were) toward Judy, Micah, and Leroy.  Not that she disliked any of them, but she didn't have enough time in the day to really play at that.   Maybe if I made time that might work... No. No.  

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Salvo

 

"That'll be an interesting exercise," Nicole replied to Leroy. "Even if that's been a long old goal of any artificer worth her salt. I mean, imagine instead of one enchanted object painstakingly handmade in the span of weeks you could have an assembly line of the things. The idea began around the time of Europe's industrialization and the Rendower Club, composed occultists and capitalists, created some interesting theories and practices that characterized that early period and influenced succeeding generations that well..." She stopped herself from turning this into an impromptu lesson, instead  inhaling deeply before she gave Leroy a beam of a smile.

 

"I'd love to."

 

Her eyes followed him as he walked over to the group of students to beside Judy where he sat and cupped her hand in his. She could see the fondness when he looked at Judy, the way he would lean over to whisper soothing words into her ear.

 

Her smile faltered, shoulders up like a nervous excited puppy, instead falling and crunching inwards in moments.

 

Of course, who was she kidding? She must look so stupid and so shallow to do as she had, to believe in something else for just that short moment.

 

Leroy and Judy were a couple, forged all the way back to the Fall Dance and before even that. She shivered as she remembered what she saw, all the details playing out in her mind in an instant.

 

When she thought no one was looking, she set Leroy's thermos on an empty table. She left the common room, fingers rubbing hard against her temples.

 

Damn it. She had a headache and her mind was a mess of memories playing out of control. Yet she couldn't help but think of the assembly line theories and their merits and weaknesses, links and processes flowing into more things she should experiment on, more variables to keep track of. It was a useless exercise, and yet...

 

Valentine's was in two weeks. Maybe she could have a working theory before that.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Micah stopped playing as conversation picked up and he had to concentrate more on following everything going on. He replied to Danica's question about his abilities first.

 

"I mean, yeah, sure. Not all day long, but for a little bit. I'd say I can do stuff that size without a lot of worry, and stuff at about the campus's size without a major issue, if it's subtle. Making the whole campus warm might jack with local weather, though. A tunnel is small enough the patterns will just kind of...move around it.I just don't want to do something that, like, makes a super-storm in Africa or something."

 

He scrunched his face up in confusion at Corinne's description.

 

"I've never heard of 'Liege Waffles', is that a special brand or something?"

 

He heard the chatter about a trip. Thinking on it for a moment, he offered up his own thoughts.

 

"I mean, if it's a surprise trip that doesn't need extra paperwork from our families, my guess is that it's someplace safe and 'mild'. Freedom Hall, City Hall, something like that."

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"We went to Freedom Hall in eighth grade," Danica commented, rolling fully up to a sitting position again. "If you're on the Nicholson field trip, they show you things that the public doesn't get to see, like the communication tower and the locker rooms. And then somebody from the Aux team tells you that if you work hard in school and learn to manage your powers responsibly, you could be on the League too someday. I got to do the field trip twice," she added, sounding pleased, "because I was in eighth grade twice. We had Fleur de Joie one year and Gabriel the next. It was before they got bumped to main team." 

 

She looked over at Abigail, her eyes going a little wide. "You live in the castle on the skyscraper? I see that all the time, but I didn't know anybody actually lived there. I thought it was, like, a museum or something? Is it really castley inside, or do you have wifi and Nintendo and hot water and stuff?" 

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Ashley noted Nicole's hasty departure, and figured the reason for it. But what the hell, teenage relationship woes were decidedly not her professional concern. Really none of this was, and now that she and Danica had their tutoring arrangement worked out, she decided she didn't need to say anything for a little while. Though now she didn't have any supper if Danica wasn't going to eat that bar. Dammit. Guess it's MRE after Judy's in bed again. Oh well. Is...is Corinne trying to have her way with me? Did...did I just think have her way with me? She said a few words inside her head that her grandmother had said when the health inspector gave the family restaurant a C. "Yeah?" she asked Corinne, looking at her dead-on. 

 

Judy gave Abby a serious look for a moment, but when Danica intervened evidently decided to let the changed subject stay changed. "Ah once took a field trip to an alpaca farm. But that was back before everything got...different," she went on, twisting her fingers in her hair for a moment before adding, "Ah, uh, never met any superheroes before Ah got here," she lied, "that's cool, Danica. Y'all ever wonder what they don't show us?" 

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"No idea where to, honestly. Or if there even is such a thing. I just overheard Jenny and her clique talking about some school trip by the lockers earlier. She doesn't necessarily strike me as somebody who'd make that up out of nowhere."  

 

Freedom Hall, huh? Monica had spent quite a bit of time there, she was even willing to wager that she'd spent more time there than the rest of the room combined. Beth had arranged for her to stay there when she'd needed to disappear for a bit after getting her powers. On her other visits to FC, Monica had usually stayed in a hotel (including during the Invasion, a memory she still preferred to ignore as good as possible), but she'd still been in the Hall occasionally.

 

Monica got up from the couch, stretching a bit before walking towards Reina. Monica had not seen her before, and it was good to get introductions out of the way quickly. She sat down by her and the others, although her interest in the puzzle was limited. She still had her textbook on her, after all. She nodded to Reina as she sat down, then turned to address the entire room again.

 

"I mean, if you're interested in a tour of Freedom Hall, including the parts you wouldn't  usually see, let me know. I'm sure I can get us in. "

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