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GM

 

May 6th, 2019

4:30 PM

SIlberman's Northwest, Emerald City

 

Just another day at Silberman's Northwest! Peace and quiet, with a good number of patrons visiting the store. They were spread pretty evenly around the floors, and all in all. It wasn't a busy day, by any means. Things were rather slow, but there were a constant buzz of talking and questions being asked. Outside the weather was cloudy. Not completely dark, but enough to block out the sun, and according to the weather report, it could begin to rain at any time.

 

A man hurried into the store, carrying a rather large book. It was easily 16 inches tall, and almost as wide. It was thick. Like a phonebook. The cover was old and worn. It had once been black, but it was now greying, and the title all but impossible to make out. The man was bald, with a black, greying goatee. He wore round, thick glasses. You could almost believe he couldn't see through them. His jeans were torn at the knees, his grey sweater had probably seen better days. "Excuse me!" he loudly announced, holding up the book. "Where is the owner! I have a great find to show him! The find of the decade!"

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Justice

 

Robin had been making a point out of visiting Silberman's at least every other week since its opening. After the eventful opening where she had gotten to meet Asad of all people, it had usually been calmer when she had been in now, and she had really grown to like the place. Gretchen, the owner, was pretty awesome, and they had such a huge selection of just about everything. She'd already ended up buying way more than she should, but she still kept coming back.

 

She couldn't resist looking up from the book about the Centurion that she had been looking at when the man ran in. He seemed weird. Proud, sure, but also kinda frantic. Robin could see other people around here looking up at the man's entrance, but she doubted Gretchen would need any help. Still, she should watch.

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For the past six months, Gretchen McDaniels had done no heroic work in EC, as she felt doing so without adequate preparation would be idiotic and put the people she was trying to help at risk. Instead, she'd worked on getting the store established and getting to know both sides of the river. Not to say that she hadn't used her powers at all; telekinesis was just too darn useful not to (discretely) use in retail, and she'd used several of her powers to explore the city and develop an impressive database of its inhabitants, neighborhoods, and criminal and supernatural activity. After six months of groundwork, the brilliant young crimefighter finally felt she could start to make a difference.

 

During that time, she could not ignore the near-constant (by her standards, anyway) presence of Robin Langely in her store; she was certainly cute (sigh!), obsessed with superheroes (borderline annoying) and by her own expert estimation, actually smarter than Gretch (super annoying). But the Freedom City transplant did take some comfort in her superior understanding in some branches of knowledge, and did not begrudge the younger girl's superiority in others. Gretch was far too honest and practical to deny what to her was obvious. To say that the two had become friends would be an overstatement, but not by much; Gretchen found Robin's presence in the store a welcome change from talking to idiotic college students who knew nothing about either music or science.

 

This afternoon found the store's proprietor behind the counter, black plastic framed glasses perched on somewhat avian nose as she peered at the new arrival and his book, her head cocked to one side. "Well, then. You've found her. Let's see what you have." She held out her hands as she activated the Helm's senses; even disguised as her glasses, the artifact could reveal much.

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GM

 

The man appeared dumbfounded for a moment. Moving a hand up, he raised his glasses, which had slid down his nose, to make sure they were properly over his eyes again. "You are the owner?" He paused for a moment. Not exactly what he had been expecting, but then he just placed the heavy book down on the counter in front of Gretchen.

 

"Behold! Original manuscripts, for several of the greatest stories told in the last century!" He looked expectedly at Gretchen, his glasses starting to slip once again. "All used this book to write them down, all passed it on to the next!" He was excited, that much was clear. And as Gretchen looked at the book with the glasses, it was clear that there was something magical about it. 

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Justice

 

There was a lot of commotion going on up near the entrance, with the strange man barging in like that. Robin had moved closer, standing just a bit away now. Gretchen was tough, pretty no-nonsense, and Robin would like to think that they'd become acquitances, if not friends yet, but it still felt weird just leaving her with the strange man and his book all on his own. 

 

Holding a hand up to her mouth, she coughed once and then started browsing a nearby shelf, just to let Gretchen know that she was there.

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Posted (edited)

Kooks. Magic. Why was she in this line of work again? But then a glimpse of Lynn's breathtaking smile flitted through her mind and she remembered. Ah yes. Love.

 

As pondered she book, she noted the presence of Robin out of the corner of her eye, which she acknowledged with just the slightedt of nods; she wasn't sure why, but the superhero fan wanted to show she was nearby. Gretch guessed that was nice.

 

The book did have a whiff of magic stank, but Gretchen prided herself on her objectivity; the story he spun was intriguing, but highly unlikely. "That doesn't make sense. How could one book be present in so many places. I cannot see an author holding this massive tome as they pen a story into its pages."

 

She flipped the book open, and began to turn the pages.

Edited by Heritage

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

"And yet, here it is! A book that does not make sense, and yet it exists! The find of the decade! The century, even!" The man was clearly still excited, even as Gretchen started opened the book. 

 

The first page seemed to be an index. Something else that made little sense, if it was a book that had manuscripts written one by one. And the titles were not exactly the greatest stories ever told. Or at least, not ones that were well known. A total of six stories were listed in it.

 

The War to End All Wars.

A Planetary Romance.

Sword of Justice.

Star Cross.

Under A Metal Sky.

The Astonishing World of Miv.

 

The question was, which story would Gretchen turn the pages to?

Edited by RocketLord

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Justice

 

Yeeeah. Gretchen had it covered. She didn't really seem to care that Robin was nearby, but honestly, why should she? Its not like she knew what Robin could do in the first place, even if that man seemed like a weirdo. She really shouldn't worry, right? Just some loon trying to come in with some phony book and try to get an easy payday? Robin smirked a bit at the thought. Yeah, like he was going to get by Gretchen with a play like that. No way that would work out how he hoped. 

 

Still, he seemed really weird, so better to not take any chances, right? She moved somewhat closer, without getting too close. Just browsing, looking around.

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This was so stupid; she should throw this idiot and his stupid book out on his ass. But her time with Lynn had infected her, and unfortunately now she had to give a shit. The book or its owner might present a threat to the peolle of EC, or even the world. A hero had to take risks to present the stupid and innocent.

 

Looking down at the index, all the titles sounded like crap to her, like episode titles from a bad 90s sci-fi show, the kind with terrible CGI and overwrought storylines. So then, which one would Lynn pick? No question, she would need to know about the Astonishing World of Miv. And so, knowing that she would instantly regret it, Gretch turned to the first page of the story.

 

"Balls," she muttered under her breath.

Edited by Heritage

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GM

 

Gretchen was very right. She would regret opening the book to the first page of the Astonishing World of Miv. Under a dramatically stylized title, with a very large M in Miv, the very first line of the book read. "They looked around, finding themselves surrounded by toy houses. They were rather large for toy houses, reaching perhaps to their navels, but none taller than that. In the distance they could see fields of yellow corn, and a silver road that snaked between them. And so, they found themselves far from home, in a world not their own."

 

She had barely finished reading the line before a roar was heard, though it appeared that only Gretchen, Robin and the strange man were aware. Before they could even react, a whirlwind, a storm given form, erupted from the book, pulling them with force greater than they could resist. But a single sound deafened the roar of the tornado as it pulled Gretchen and Robin into the book. The man's manic laughter.

 

And so, Gretchen and Robin found themselves surrounded by toy houses. They were rather large for toy houses, reaching perhaps to their navels, but none taller than that. In the distance they could see fields of yellow corn, and a silver road that snaked between them. And so, they found themselves far from home, in a world not their own. The strange man was nowhere to be seen, but noises and tiny voices around them made it clear that they were not alone.

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Justice

 

It all happened so fast. Robin was moving closer while browsing. The man just rubbed her the wrong way, and she wanted to be ready in case he tried anything. She did her best to appear inconspicuous, just browsing, looking at the books. Then Gretchen opened the book, and the roar and the laughter and the tornado that pulled her in and boom, they were right in the middle of a toy sized city, sitting square on her butt.

 

All she could really think of was to say "What the hell?" They really weren't in Kansas anymore.

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For the longest time, Gretchen merely stood there, staring down at the tiny buildings, arms hanging limply at her sides. Then slowly, she brought her hands up into clenched fists, and began to rise up into the air! And once she was a few feet up into the air, she threw back her head and shouted as loudly as she ever had in her life.

 

"FUUUUUUUUU#########!"

 

Gretchen slowly floated back down to the ground, shaking her head. "Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition, I went crazy a long time ago." She turned around to face Robin, a very weary expression on her face. "How are you? Are you okay?"

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Justice

 

Wait, wait, wait. This was all weird and everything, but was Robin seeing things right here? Was Gretchen actually flying? And cursing. Oh yes, she was cursing very loudly. And saying that she went crazy. Won-der-ful. If that was the case, Robin had gone crazy too, because she was seeing all the toy sized houses around them, too. Silver road, yellow corn. What was this place? How had they even gotten here? Did that book suck them in?

 

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm good, but what is this place?" Robin's mind was racing. It looked like they were in some kind of Wizard of Oz knockoff, and that book had sucked them in, and Gretchen had been flying, but she couldn't really recognize her as any heroes she knew or knew about and wait, could Robin even access the AnneX from here to get her gear, and no way she could do it without showing Gretchen anyway, or... She was starting to look a bit panicked. Too much information at once, too much to process. Deep breath, calm down. "Sorry, sorry. Just give me a sec. This is too weird." Right, she had technically been to another world plenty of times, what with the AnneX and everything, but that was different. She was in control there. Deep breath. Calm down. Get up and stand up. "Right. All better now. You alright?"

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GM

 

While Gretchen and Robin were talking, cursing and freaking out a little bit, curious small eyes had been watching from the homes and houses that was spread out around them. Small eyes, tiny at the size of dolls, but noticeable as figures and shadows behind the windows. While Robin was standing up, murmurs and whispers had begun to rise from the houses, loud enough to easily be noticeable by the pair of newcomers. 

 

The murmurs kept rising, until finally reaching a crescendo and stopping, when one small door opened in the house closest to Gretchen and Robin. It was a rather fancy house. A stately manor. At human size it would probably be the kind of place where you could get lost in all the rooms. And the small man that came out was clad to match, in a bright blue tuxedo, complete with top hat and a cane in his hand. He was tiny, completely in scale with the houses. Maybe 6 inches tall without the hat (which added another 2 to his height), with a neat grey beard and a small monocle. He held the cane out towards Gretchen and Robin as he approached, some fear evident with each step. "Pl-please don't hurt us, giant women!"

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Gretchen stood with her hands on her hips, looking deeply annoyed but not at all freaked out."I'm fine. Just mad that I fell for this kind of crap again. Magic is so f###ing obvious in retrospect." Finally noticing the tiny people, and their tiny mayor (most likely), the bookseller sighed. "Let me talk to this guy. Then we can see about getting back home."

 

She was about to crouch down, but then worried about crushing one of the little people, so she opted to do something creative. Taking a deep breath, Gretch sank into the ground like it was water, like it was air, until her chin was just above the ground. It looked like she'd been decapitated, but her head was still alive.

 

"How's that? I'm not going to eat you. I had a big lunch, and I don't want your cane stuck in my teeth."

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Justice

 

"Again?" This gave Robin a bit of hope, at least, even if Gretchen didn't really make it come across that way. She'd done this kind of thing before? Then she'd probably know what to do, at least. Good. That was great. Robin was all about finding out solutions, but she really wasn't that big on magic. "You've tried this before?" She trailed off a bit, falling silent, looking around while Gretchen went to talk to the little man with the way too tall hat. He fit in perfectly with everything else. Toy sized houses, toy sized man. Looked like a little doll. It was weird. She'd seen some magic before. She was wearing a magic necklace, for crying out loud, but this was just so very different.

 

And then Gretchen sank into the ground like it was water, and that was just so weird. It was just like the ground wasn't there for her. Alright. Gretchen had powers, no question there. Robin was leaning towards her being more on the heroic side, at least. She might be a bit sour and grouchy at times, but she was ultimately a good person, right? And didn't seem to care much about showing Robin what she could do. She'd have to ask about that when she got the chance.

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GM

 

The small man with the large hat, the mayor as Gretchen had thought of him, looked up at Gretchen with wide eyes as she sunk into the ground before him, until only her head remained. "I-I... appreciate that. Thank you." He slowly lowered his cane, but still held it in his hand. He did not seem to trust Gretchen completely, and even with her head down at his height, he stopped a foot or two away from her, keeping his distance. He cleared his throat, straightened his clothes and looked at Gretchen. "Welcome to the Town of Liliput. I am Mayor Smalls. What brings you to our fair town? We are not quite used to giant women falling from the sky."

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"We came here by accident," the 'giant woman' admitted. "We're a long way from home, and not sure how to get back there." Gretch normally would have left it there, but the tiny Lynn in her head nudged her forward, so she rolled her eyes and continued. "We would appreciate any help you could provide, Mr. Mayor."

 

Craning her neck to look back towards Robin, the shopkeeper called out. "Hey...brown-haired girl! If you have any secret knowledge or abilities, now's the time to spill. We need all the help we can get to find our way back home. Otherwise we stay here forever, and your parents sue the store."

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Justice

 

This was weird. Like, really weird. Just seeing Gretchen's head stuck in the ground like that, talking to the very small mayor and then turning around and... shouting that if she had any secret abilities that could help them, now was the time. Right. Gretchen was right. She had already shown that she could do whatever she was doing, now it was Robin's time, right? She'd wanted to find other super people, and Gretchen was a good guy, right? So, maybe it would be fine to show her? 

 

Still, she hesitated. She had put on the suit in public many times, but usually while wearing her mask, and not when anyone was ready to watch her, so it felt kind of weird. Maybe... maybe she should just tell Gretchen instead? But then, there were all the little people. How would they react? And Gretchen was cool, but who knew were the little people would do or what all this was... Some place secluded, maybe? Yeah, yeah. The AnneX would do.

 

"Umm... yeah. I got... something. But I really don't want to show it off in front of all these..." She gestured with her hands out over the small houses. "People. Secret ID, all that." Great. Great. Just a great first impression as a super hero. 

 

With a sigh, she reached up the round purple-pink stone she wore as an amulet in her necklace and touched it softly. It had felt weird the first time she discovered this, but now she was getting more used to it. A moment of focus, and the a purple-pink portal, same color as the amulet, opened up besides her. It was big enough to fit a person through, more too. In less than a second the purple-pink color gave away, showing instead the insides of what appeared to be a rather sparsely decorated room. "Umm. Yeah. Sorry, but this is not gonna get us out of here. Its just a one way back and forth. Open portal between, uh, my headquarters, I guess, and where I was before." All kinds of other neat tricks, of course, but not here. Not in the middle of where everyone was. 

 

Stepping towards the portal, Robin took a deep breath, before taking a step inside and turning to Gretchen. "You coming?" Alright! Nailed that part at least!

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GM

 

Before Robin spoke, Mayor Smalls seemed to gain some courage from Gretchen's request for help. He almost seemed to visible grown half an inch, maybe even a full inch. "Yes, yes! Help! Of course you will need help! Now look, over there! Just follow the Silver Road, all the way to Ruby Castle! The Grand Sorcerer leaves there, you know! He will be able to help you! Surely, he will!" He seemed almost excited, now. Like this was the best thing to have happened. "Make sure to tell him that you came through Lilliput! Then he will surely help you!" He had taken to leaning back and forth on his toes and heels, which came to a complete stop as Robin spoke and opened the portal.

 

It was as if all color drained from his face. It seemed he could deal with Gretchen flowing into the ground, but not with the other one creating a literal hole in the very air. "Err... Yes. Good luck." Then he turned, hurrying inside the house and closed the door. Only to quickly open it and peek outside to tell them, once more: "Remember! Tell the Grand Sorcerer that Lilliput sent you!" Then he closed the door again.

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"Absolutely" Gretchen rose up smoothly out of the ground and then floated over towards the portal, arms crossed over her chest. She seemed to be appraising Robin's handiwork likena connoisseur, unfazed but appreciative. "Well, then. Nice portal. I've got one, too, but it's a little different. More like a storage locker. Kind of small. Please tell me you have changing rooms in here. I have armor, but it takes a little time to put on."

 

She shrugged.

 

"If you don't, its fine. I'm not bashful."

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Justice

 

"Err, yeah, I guess I kind of use it for storage, too. Anyway, there should be plenty of room! Got some bedrooms, a lab and a workshop, so pick wherever!" Also a growing library, which was so far mainly stocked with books from Silberman's, but that would probably be a little weird to mention, right?

 

Stepping out of the portal, they found themselves in a room surrounded by a dark red and silver motorcycle, three stands with different armors and a stand with a somewhat oversized gun. The closest armor was dark red, with silver armor plating, a pink visor, a red scarf and dark purple armor around the arms and legs. The armor that Robin had been using as Justice for a while now. Not the original one, but the upgrade, but still, she had used it long enough that it might be recognized. The other two were new. Similar to the first in design, but with different attachments and colors. The first was less armored, and much duller in colors. Different shades of grey and black. The second was blue instead of red, and a darker metallic than the silver. The pinks were still there, though. Its boots were much heavier, and it seemed to have a power line or something like that sticking out from its back, connecting to the handle of a gun, though without any real gun parts. The room didn't have much decoration or contents aside from that, but there was a door leading into the next room, which seemed to have a couch and bed, a table and a fridge visible from the door.

 

Robin threw her hands out and gave an awkward "Ta-daa!", before quickly lowering them again. "This is the AnneX. I kinda stumbled on the place, and been working on getting it set up. I'm not quite done yet, but I'm happy with what I got so far." She kind of wondered if Gretchen would recognize the Justice armor, she wasn't that well known yet, after all. "There's more rooms back there, you can go change wherever you want." She pointed to the living room, which would have doors leading to the workshop, library and laboratory. 

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Gretchen nodded as she took it all in. "Nice work, Justice." Yep, she recognized her. "Did you design everything yourself, or are you adapting preexisting technology?" Gretchen stepped into the living room, calling out over her shoulder as she opened her portal. "Most of my gear is off the rack. Except the magic stuff. That stuff...was a gift." 

 

There was a quiet for a few minutes as the barista armored up, though she offered the occasional grunt in response to Robin. When she finally returned, she seemed a few inches taller, probably due to her thick-soled boots. Her armored jumpsuit was mostly black, but with a few silver accents. She also wore a long, hooded cloak, and a silver bird-like mask over the upper half of her face. A sort of tactical harness supported a wide variety of pouches, and what looked like several grenades. There was a silver ring with a red ruby on the left index finger of her gloved hand, and another ruby centered in the forehead of the mask. Robin may have recognized the Shrike as the former partner of Grimalkin back in Freedom, or perhaps she didn't.

 

Looking down at herself, Shrike sighed. "I am way too 90s."

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Justice

 

Wait, Gretchen actually recognized her armor? Robin couldn't suppress the huge grin from her lips. Someone was actually recognizing her! Turning around, not wanting to peek or anything, Robin took the time to reply while Gretchen was getting changed. She... didn't really need to do that herself, but she put on her red domino mask first. Just felt right to have that on. "Pretty much, yeah. I mean, I found this place here, but I made the armors and tools myself." She waited a moment for Gretchen to be changed, before she turned back around, her eyes growing wide.

 

"Wait! You're the Shrike, right?" Being obsessed with super heroes turned out to pay off, at least every once in a while. "You're Grimalkin's partner! I thought you were based in Freedom!" She was almost starting to bounce around, but no, she really shouldn't. She should try and remain professional. Taking a deep breath, Robin shook her head. "I think you look great, honest!"

 

So... she should probably suit up too, right? "Hey, watch this!" Now she was bouncing, hurrying back into the room with the armors and the bike, and stepping out in front of the red armor. This was great! She actually got to show off her suit to another hero! Her belt was on, the Justice Driver was active. "Henshin!" The voice activated tool coming to life, the black undersuit quickly expanded from her belt, coming up to cover her to her neck, then, at almost the same time, the Justice Armor moved from the stand, bits and pieces of it coming around and attaching to the under suit, the helmet being the last part, before the pink powerlines and eye plates lit up, with the red scarf briefly shooting out from her body, before falling down over her shoulder. "What do you think?" 

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"I think I miss my Cloak of Mystery," Shrike said with a smirk. "I could do quick change tricks that saved a buttload of time. And looked pretty hot." However addressing the subject of Grimalkin, she drew a long sigh; that hint of cheeky fun evaporated. "Yes. We were partners. In more ways than one." She looked up at Justice, a twinkle of moisture in her eyes, and shrugged. "I needed more space."

 

Then she stiffened up a bit and motioned towards the door. "Let's get back out there, and deal with this annoying s###."

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