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Freedom City

Friday, July 26

5:58 PM


Donahue’s Dockside Bar was not exactly the most glamorous of establishments. The outer walls were coated in flaking black paint, the sign that announced the bar’s name was a harsh neon red, and the windows were tinted in such a way that peering inside was at the very least difficult. On the steel front door was a sign which declared in hastily scrawled letters “closed for a private party”.


 The interior was not much better.The tables were made of old, battered wood, and the chairs had clearly seen better days. The lights were dim, as if to enhance the melancholic mood of anyone who happened to drink there regularly. The only thing really livening things up was a cloth-covered pair of tables, with a bright sign saying “free food - take what you like”. A few pieces sat under cloches, and the smell of hot sauce was strong in the air.


 Serena paced back and forth in front of the bar, rubbing at her temples. She was dressed in her Corona costume, a grey set of tights with black trunks and a leather jacket over top, along with a pair of welding goggles resting on her forehead. She sighed to herself.


 “Do you think anyone’s gonna show up?” she asked.


 Lester Donahue looked up from the glass he was polishing behind the bar. The muscle he had possessed in his teenage years had long ago turned to fat, and now an enormous belly hung in front of him, but he still possessed the orange fur and wet black nose that had come with the transformation that had given him inhuman levels of strength. He frowned at her, his yellow eyes following the superheroine as she moved back and forth.


“It’s still two minutes to six, give’em time,” he said. “Besides, at least some of them are gonna show up for the free food alone, always do.”


 Serena looked over at him. “Well, that’s great but I kinda need superheroes.”


 Lester shrugged. “Superheroes like free food too. I mean, you’re mooching off of me right now,” he said with a slight smirk as he looked back down at his glass.


 Serena huffed. “Not mooching, I will pay you back.”


 Lester waved his hand at her dismissively. “Myaaaah, it’s fine. This is sticking it to Wu, it’s on me since I can’t uh… Well with my back injury and the heart condition…”


 Serena smiled sympathetically at him. “Thanks, Les.”


 Lester shrugged again. “Eh, it’s fine. EY! I think that’s the first person now!” he said, gaze drifting towards the window.

Edited by Shofet
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Facsimile pulled his bike over outside the front of the infamous "donahue's dockside bar" He would've taken a moment to soak up its....ambience but he was barely a minute away from being late so hurriedly he locked his bike with his trusty cruklok, Stowed his helmet and leathers beneath the seat and satisfied that he was somewhat presentable pushed his way through the door.


"I am here to punch for justice!" He announced "and carb load for leg day..." He added as an after thought before noticing the room was devoid of anyone but Corona and the bar keep.


Two people wad still an audience and he was infamously dauntless.


"I brought Kaboola too." He informed them cheerfully as he hefted the 500lbs ball and chain like a volley ball.

Edited by Exaccus
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 Les gestured to Facsimile, looking at Corona. “See? Someone’s here. And he has… a ball he named.” He turned to Facsimile, his tone quizzical and his eyebrow raised. “You named the ball?”


 Corona giggled, and waved. “Hey, big guy, glad you got the invite. You’re the first to arrive, so… Yeah.” She shrugged.


 Lester looked Facsimile over for a moment. “Super-strength, I’m guessing, can’t tell what else you got. But… Food’s over there, we got my famous kamikaze wings over there, as well as fried pickles, the famous beef Donahue Stew, some other stuff I’m forgetting.” He paused. “You want a beer? We have Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Brooklyn Lager, Guinness, Sam Adams… Corona…” At the least one, he gestured over at Serena, who made a mock, silent laugh.


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"It's a construction worker thing...I think, maybe just my yard." He said with a smile and a shrug


"Makes it easier to communicate when a specific tool or vehicle needs attention." He added as he set the ball down lightly near the seat he intended to take before making his way over to corona and whom he assumed to be donahue's. 


"Wouldn't miss this for the world corona, that jerk Wu is going down and I want a piece of him!" He said with gusto, slamming a meaty hand to his pectoral for emphasis.


"Better not drink tonight...don't wanna miss when I swing kaboola." He gestured over his shoulder towards his resting tool.


"Got any soda or juice?"


Whilst he waited for his soft drink he turned to corona.


"So...about white rook." Now seemed as good a time as any to bring her up...before anyone else arrived.


"I haven't done anything yet but I wanted to know if you want me to help ya make some kinda arrangements for her." He began as he rested on the bar.


"I'm in pretty good terms with some folks who might be able to help her work out whatever crap Wu has done to her....but I can understand if not." He sighed as he slipped les $10 with a smile and a "keep em coming."


"It's a predicament but it's really none of my business I understand...I'm not gonna interfere in how you choose to handle it...not gonna say anything about her to whoever else shows up either. " He added with a sip of his soda.


"Just lemme know if you want any help; Now where are these wings?"

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 Serena sighed, casting her eyes off to the side. “Look… I appreciate that, Facs, I really do. But… I’m gonna have to be honest about what’s going on here with anyone who is teaming up. I mean, she called me ‘mom’ last time, which if anyone else heard that, they’d be pretty confused. ‘Sides… If Wu can do it to me, he can definitely do it to other people. Y’know? Should make them prepared for that possibility.”


Lester nodded, then gestured to the cloche on the far end of the table. “Warning, bud, those are some real hot wings. Like real, real hot. 400 000 scovilles.”


Serena blinked. “You made them even hotter?”


“You know it,” Lester said with a grin. “Hey, whaddaya wanna drink, ‘Corona’?”


Serena snorted. “Facs knows my first name. But uh… Gimme a Brooklyn.”


Lester snapped his fingers, and then began preparing a pint. “Dunno if she told you this, but I was Corona’s first boyfriend. We were onna team together.”


Serena rolled her eyes. “Yeah. He was Beastfreak on the Delinquents. He chose that name, by the way. Willingly. No one forced’em.”


“I was 16!” He said, placing the pint on the bartop. “And it was the 90s. Things were different.”


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"They were better!" Richard Cline walked in as if summoned, pulling the sunglasses off his face with a practiced smile on. "Hey there Corona," he said, walking up and briefly embracing the younger woman. "I saw your message, so I thought I'd stop by and see how things went today. Paige sends her greetings but she's in a meeting. Don't worry, she's keeping an eye on things." He tapped the side of his head. "Who's your friend?" 

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Above the bar a cloaked plane flew in circles, Akhona at the helm, she was waiting for John to take off. He pulled the helmet down, waited for it to seal and then asked,"Don't suppose you've figured out a way for me to eat with this thing on, right? I hear that bar has some pretty good food."


Akhona rolled her pretty brown eyes and sighed,"No, John, you don't need to eat in the suit, it has supplies for weeks at a time...."


"Supplies that taste like crap...", grunted the Black Mamba before he leapt out of the back of the plane, golden energy humming from his feet as he seemed to appear in the air and rocketed down to the ground a contrail of golden rings staining the sky for a moment before he hovered to a stop outside the door. He pushed it open with a gold and black gauntlet before walking in, his targeting system labeling people as he walked in and Akhona's programs identified those they could, even if it was just by their superhero tags if nothing else was known.


"Greetings, I am Black Mamba, here to assist as requested."

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Facsimile had taken the impressive number as a challenge and began stuffing his face with wings.


He'd spent the next few minuits wondering if he was crying or his eyes were sweating before he got his mouth under control and wisely switched to the fried pickles and stew.


His attention was drawn to the new comers arriving and wolfing his food down whilst they made their introductions so he could make his own when  the time came.


"Hey Folks!" He said as he wiped his face with one of the napkins he'd grabbed.


"Glad to have you with us!; I'm facsimile by the way, pleased to meet you."

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 Serena’s eyes went wide at the arrival of Richard Cline. She had not been expecting him of all people to show up, but she was more than happy that he had. It was good to have someone as seasoned as him to deal with the problems they were going to be facing. And more than that, someone who had experience with how villains thought. She accepted the embrace gladly.


 “Real glad you’re here, FF,” she said. “And yeah, Facs and I met when I discovered what sort of… prompted this meeting, about a month ago.”


 She didn’t have much time to keep going, given that Black Mamba entered next. She sized the man up, taking in his appearance. “Oh, wow,” she said. “You look spooky.” She broke off from Richard, grabbing the beer that had been poured for her from the bar and moving over to greet the newcomer.


 “Well, good to have you, Black Mamba. I’m Corona,” she said. “…You’re the first person here I don’t actually know.”


 Meanwhile, Lester was simply staring at Fast-Forward. "...She knows Richard Cline," he said, disbelieving. "Of course she does. Because nothing makes any sense." He sighed, pulled out a bottle of Jim Beam, and poured himself a shot. It was gone in the next second or two. 

Edited by Shofet
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Archer II


Connor had been watching Donahue's for a while now, watching from an alley at the opposite side of the street. The old man had brought him the ad from the Daily Herald. A good opportunity to meet some other heroes, see how they did things, and something about feeling guilty about not even caring about Corona's old team back when they were around. Yeah, the old man had given up back then, had lost the fight. Maybe he could've helped the Delinquents, maybe he couldn't, but that was his guilt, not Connor's. Still, it was an opportunity that Connor wasn't about to pass up. He'd been working on his own in Southside so far. Not really a household name or anything yet. So, his first team up.


The young man with the ball and chain. Some kind of blur that he could barely follow. Someone in armor. A varied crew. Fine, he could work with that.


About time to enter, anyway. Clad in his full red and white costume, with enough hints to the original Archer's in the design, while still being his own thing, with a quiver and bow on his back, Connor made his way across the street and pushed the door open, stepping inside, and yep. The guy about his own age. Someone in armor, and was that Richard Cline? And a animal man of some kind? And the last one? That had to be Corona. "Evening." He made his way towards the woman, ignoring the others for now, and extending his hand towards her. "Guessing you're Corona? I'm the Archer. Just tell me where to aim."

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Suddenly one of the battered chairs began to twitch of its own accord, and then it abruptly morphed into the shape of a pretty young woman in a black and midnight blue leather costume! She was short and lithe, with spikey auburn hair and pointed ears, and a domino mask that matched her costume hid part of her features. She stretched and yawned dramatically, then idly scratched her side.


"Sorry, must have dozed off! Hi everyone! Grimalkin, Mistress of Mystery, at your service!"


She turned to Lester and grinned.


'You, sir, have a very comfy bar! Can I have a Sam Adams? I swear I'm old enough. Look, Corona can vouch for me!"


The changeling, who looked all of eighteen, eagerly waved at the woman who'd called them all together, which made her look even younger


"Hi Corona, my adult friend!"

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Facsimile snorted in amusement at this latest development.


"I was about to say this was beginning to feel like the start of a Tabletop campaign and then the wizard and archer turned up." He guffawed at how beautifully absurd the whole affair was.


"Looks like ye hath gathered a host of heroes lady corona!" He teased as he raised his drink to the new comers and munched on a fried pickle.


"I wonder what class I am then." He half joked and half seriously considered.

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Richard pressed the flesh, moving through and shaking hands or slapping backs as necessary, acting a bit like somebody's uncle at the party. He was brought up short by the arrival of the second Archer, though, and found himself locking eyes with the younger man. The first Archer had told his predecessor something about the Clines, Richard and Paige, and how they'd fought FORCE OPS back in the days when the city had been overrun with monsters - how Fast-Forward and Hologram had seemed like relics of a more innocent age, but turned out to be signs of a future to come. Richard knew that there was another Archer coming, but not much beyond that. "That's a proud name you have there, son." I'm not gonna cry. he told himself as he shook Archer's hand. "Nice to finally meet you." 

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Merge Trois

Merge wasn’t sure if this was a good idea, normally she wouldn’t have bothered but her boss had shown her the advert and it had been obvious that she was going to get involved somehow. Normally she let someone make their own mistakes, but she liked her boss and wanted to make sure she’d have someone she could trust as backup. And besides, it seemed like there was some good they’d could genuinely do here.


“Before you tell us your Forlorn hope, I need a strong drink and you better make it a double!”


She slid on a bar-stool looking more like she was going for a night on the tiles than a superhero mission.

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Serena nodded over to Lynn, rolling her eyes slightly. “Yeah, she's old enough, even if she is a huge brat,” she said with a smirk. Lester complied, and began to pour Lynn a pint, clapping it on the bartop when he was done.

Serena found herself distracted, however, when even more people entered in. Serena was stunned to see so many heroes had showed up to help her. She had convinced herself that most of the superheroic community would be content to simply let her rot. After all, hadn’t she fought them? But no. Her friends had come, and she remembered how good it was to have friends, and even complete strangers had come. She was, genuinely, touched.


She inhaled sharply through her nose, and moved to the centre of the room, clapping her hands together.


“Uh, hi, everyone. Some of you already know me, but for those who don’t, I'm Corona,” she said, looking over all the heroes. “Back when I was a teenager, there was a man named Dr. Will Wu, and he gave me and some other people,” she nodded over in Lester's direction. “Superpowers. He made us pay him back by committing crimes for him as the Delinquents. He messed with our heads, tortured some of us… And now he’s back.”


She straightened up. “About a month ago, me and Facs over there found he had been doing something in our old HQ. We learned some important things – the first is that he had been using another of my old team-mates, Heather Romano, to make me want to come investigate. If Facs hadn’t been there, I probably would have been brainwashed into serving him again. Heather’s a very powerful psychic who can make you do things you would normally find awful, but you somehow think they’re your own idea. Now, that’s already bad, but Wu has done something else. When Facs pulled my bacon outta the fire, Wu sent a teenage girl with my and Heather’s DNA to try and capture us, and she had paragon powers. Which means he’s forming a new set of Delinquents.”


She took a long pull from her beer. “Whatever Wu plans with them, it can’t be good. He's a bog-standard narcissist with an IQ somewhere up in space and he's real mean, and with Heather and a bunch of superkids on his side, he can do a lot of damage.” She frowned. “Last time, he mostly used us to steal stuff to get money or equipment for his experiments. I can’t explain it, but I feel like it is different this time. I get the feeling he is gonna hurt people. He's gotta be hurting those kids. Definitely hurting Heather.”

She looked down in her beer. “I think he's gonna come after me again, too. We were always property to him…”


She looked back up to the crowd. “Look. This is probably gonna get hairy, and I definitely can’t do it alone. That’s why I'm trying to form this… team. I don’t have a name for it. I can’t pay any of you. You'd just be helping a lady who mad a lot of mistakes and now has to face up with them and maybe making sure people on the sidelines don't get hurt. I understand if that's not enough. But I would really appreciate all the help I can get. Those of you who don’t want any part of this, you can leave now and I'll just be happy you showed up to hear me out.”


She paused, waiting to see if anyone left.

Edited by Shofet
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Black Mamba had felt more and more uncomfortable as the people appeared in all shapes, sizes and powers but his comfort was put aside at Corona's story, before he could even reply Akhona radioed across their closed connection, clearly eavesdropping++Sounds a lot like your story....except she didn't have a choice to be that way.++


Mamba pulled a face, glad that no one could see it under his helmet but he spoke slowly and determinedly,"We've all made mistakes, young one, and yours sound like they were 'assisted' by a villain. Not all of us have clean ledgers, some of us owe a lot and helping you would help us clear some of what we owe off." Shrugging, an impressive feat in a battle suit and a testament to Akhona's building abilities,"I'll fight with you against this Wu."

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Fast-Forward, Cline, he actually came forward, and was happy to see a new Archer? Well, that was not what he had expected. He didn't know if the other heroes would even care, but at least it seemed like Cline did. He looked at Cline's hand for a moment, before accepting it. Cline was an ex-villain, like Corona here, but he'd made good. Connor could respect that, at least. "Likewise. The old man has told me a lot about you." Well, something, at least. Mostly fights and using Cline as examples of what to do when facing a speedster. 


Connor suddenly felt very aware that he was probably the one here with the least experience, at least in the field. Sure, he'd been training for years before the old man was willing to let him go out and put his skills to the test, so there was that, but this was something else, wasn't it? 


"He's hurt kids, and he's gonna hurt kids again, right? Then we take him down. Doesn't need to be more complicated than that." Of course it was more complicated. They'd be dealing with psychics and whatever else Wu had cooked up. Guess it was time to see how he measured up compared to these other heroes.

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"Aww shucks, I'm sure you'd have done just fine corona!" Facs said, finally sasiated on delicious stew and pickles and burning pain enough to move away from the free food table.


"But yeah guys a king asshat." He added to corona's brief "Dude has robot minions too, one tried a crotch shot on me so keep an eye out on them if we come across them they fight to win and have no problems dogpiling on folks to overwhelm em." He added as he rubbed his chin and looked around the room.


"Stinking coward too, ran that whole show from some hole in the ground miles away and bragged about it over the intercoms." He grumbled moodily at the memory.


"You cool detective, magic and techno types might wanna be ready to work on some kinda algorithm or spell or trace things if possible." He really wasn't in a position to truely comment about it beyond that it was frustrating in all honesty.


"As for white rook...well she fights like a animal and has no problem accepting orders to crush skulls and inflict grevious harm...hits like a freight train and trust me I know how that feels."  Rubbing at his jaw for emphasis as his brain scrambled for more possibly pertinent information to bring up.


"Oh and uh once we'd downed rook Wu teleported her out...I think. Might've been something else so presumably he can drop stuff in on our heads too...hordes of crotch kicking robots for example." Still obviously sore about the whole thing in that grumpy way. "Good thing I was made of concrete..."


"Didn't get to interact with the psychic" he concluded "but even the most moral and kind of telepaths got scary powers so be on your guard."

Edited by Exaccus
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Grim eagerly accepted the pint, which looked huge in her hands, gave Les a cheerful wink, and then hopped up onto a stool, leaving her feet dangling. But her impish mood began to darken as Corona described her past and what they'd be up against. She was also very attentive when Facsimile described Wu and his new team's tactics; this s### sounded serious.


Hopping down off the stool, she stepped to the ex-villain's side and placed a comforting hand on her arm. "You're not alone in this; you've got more friends than you realize, and we've all got your back." Her voice had dropped an octave, and for a second she saw the glint of Lynn's wisdom in her eyes.

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"All good things, I hope!" said Richard with a nervous little laugh. "The old man's an all right guy; he was probably my best friend back in the day..." Fast-Forward looked up at Corona's story, his face rapidly escalating from concerned to appalled. "Oh, jeez! That's awful. Hang on, I'll be right back." And with that, he was gone with only the quick sound of running feet behind him. 

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Merge Trois

Merge took in all the information, even if she looked like she was just staring at her drink. It was interesting how much her own experience, well technically Nicki’s, matched his own. Part of her suspect it was to good and this was a set up of some kind, a setup of some type or other. But whilst the cautious part of her wanted to bail now, like the old timer speedster, but Merge wasn’t one to give up. She’d see through and if it was something dodgy she’d make sure the good ones got protected.


“Yeah okay I’ll see this through!”

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 Serena looked out at all the people promising to help, and again, she felt a little emotional. They didn’t know her at all, but were willing to step up to the plate and help anyway. It reminded her how good the community was. She supposed Lynn was right. She did have more friends than she had realized.


 She smiled at Lynn, and then watched Richard go. “…He’ll be back,” she said. “Probably forgot something.”


She waited a second. “He did say he’ll be right back.”


Then, something occurred to her to bring up. She turned to Black Mamba. “Also, just so we’re clear… I’m not young. I’m in my 40s. I know I look young but that’s just good genes. So yeah, middle-aged, not young one…” She sounded more awkward than offended.


Then, she turned to Archer. “And hey! New Archer. That’s cool. Always considered myself lucky I didn’t fight the original. Glad you showed up.”


“Anyway… I’ll fill in a little more once Fast-Forward gets back.”

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No sooner had Serena spoken than the door burst open and Fast Forward returned, but not alone. Paige Cline, sometimes known as Hologram, hopped down from where she'd been riding pickaback on her husband and smoothed down her black slacks and matching polo shirt with Supercrime! embroidered on the breast. It was an outfit she often wore on the air, so she'd probably been at work when Richard came to collect her. She gave Serena a warm smile. "Corona, so nice to see you again! Richard said you were having trouble with a psychic and thought that maybe I would be able to help." She nodded to the other assembled heroes in greeting. 

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Serena’s eyes widened at the sight of Paige Cline. The last time she had seen the woman in person, it had been the early 90s and Serena was looking for advice on how to be a supervillain while they were skipping town. Serena had changed in appearance somewhat, developing what her daughter affectionately called “mom-bod”, while to Serena’s eyes, Paige basically looked exactly the same. Her jaw gaped for a moment.


“Holy crap,” she said for a moment. “Hi. You look… great. Even off the TV.”


She sighed. “Okay, good to see you, but yeah. Heather. Also known as Tantrum. She’s… Okay, so, background. Wu gave all of us powers, except for Heather. He helped lower hers. They were too strong at the time. She could hear what the entire city was thinking, all at once, and couldn’t turn it off. When she got mad, it was like stuff rattling. In fact, uh… She was kinda an orphan because she threw an entire mansion at her parents during an argument. That’s what she told me, anyway. But she couldn’t really control it, so Wu gave her these implants. They lowered her powers, but just enough so that she could manage them. She can read minds, change your personality, move stuff telekinetically, ”


She chewed her lip for a moment. “What I’m trying to say is Heather is powerful. Very, very powerful. And Wu has her on his side. He’s already used her to plant suggestions in my head. She could do that to anyone.”


She rubbed the back of her neck, feeling uncertain as to what to say. “…Look. Heather was my friend once, we were close. Like family. But she’s dangerous, and as long as Wu has her, he’s a massive threat. If he really wants to do damage, he could get her to do all sorts of stuff. Especially since she’s not… When I knew her, she wasn’t stable. She almost made a cop eat his gun, once, just because he pulled us over in a stolen car. Les had to pump the gas to get her away from him. We used to be safe from her using her powers on us, but… clearly that doesn’t apply anymore.”


She frowned. "Sorry, I'm going in circles."

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The old Archer was Fast-Forward's best friend back then? That was news, at least to Connor. He had never done much talking about his old days, aside from tactics, what not to do and such, but if that was the case, then that made Cline's reaction make much more sense. And meant that Connor would have to ask Keller some questions later.


Everyone signed up for what Corona was selling. Honestly, Connor doubted they would even have shown up here in the first place if they weren't about to help her out, anyway. He gave a quick nod in reaction to Corona's acknowledgement. She was probably right. The old man might be feeling bad about not having helped the Delinquents now, but back then, who's to say what would have happened, if he hadn't retired by then? 


And then Cline was back, carrying Hologram. He'd of course watched Supercrime! growing up. Hell, the old man had practically forced him to do it at first. Having a psychic of their own could help with this Tantrum. He refused to think of her as Heather. If she was against them, and as dangerous as Corona said, then he couldn't think of her as someone with a name like Heather. 


"She's strong, then, even if we got Hologram here to help." He decided to speak up. If they had an idea of facing someone like Tantrum, they might as well talk tactics. "As far as I know, the best way of dealing with a psychic is a sneak attack, so what else do you know about her powers? She can read minds, but can she sense when there's people nearby? And how many people can she affect at once? Know anything about her range? If she's unstable, we might be able to distract her, and those of us with range can take her out from outside her influence." Not the most impressive plan, sure, but at least he felt like he contributed something.

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