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Vibora Bay. Easton Tangle. Dragoneer’s Townhouse.

 

It had been a few-ish days since the whole giant…zombie…lizard…thing…and Dragoneer was still just a bit cranky. It was all right, honestly, he’d had a concert and then a match so he’d been having a busy and productive night. But maaaaan, what a way to make your debut onto the scene. UDK was dressed as he always was, and was pacing in front of his own front door. He’d never admit it, but meeting new people was stressful. He never knew how they’d respond to his unique brand of personal charisma. The townhouse was full of his merchandise (posters, action figures, one standee, etc), with photos of friends and family (except those with the surname Maguire) scattered on the walls and tables.

 

Hey, Niro? The invitations went out, right? I didn’t daydream that? Didn’t think about it instead of doing it?

 

Niro Saki, bestest pal to the one and only Ultimate Dragon Knight, was seated on UDK’s couch, reading a thin paperback. He too, was dressed as he always was. Around him on a few tables was a lovely spread of refreshments. The bigscreen television was on but muted. He did not look up.

 

No, Dragoneer. You followed through. I watched.

 

UDK nodded and kept pacing.

 

Cool. Cool cool cool. Cool. I guess they’ll…be here when they’ll be here.

 

He blew air out through his mouth. Niro turned the page.

 

A watched pot never boils.

 

The moment I leave is when the first one shows up.

 

Paranoia.

 

Gospel truth.

 

I somehow doubt that.

 

Dragoneer stopped pacing.

 

All right, I’ll…watch TV, I guess.

 

He sat down in his recliner and unmuted the television for the latest celebrity news. Ironically, it was not news to him. Because it was about him and his move to Vibora. Click. New channel, hello sports.

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Persephone

 

Despite living in Vibora Bay for twenty-nine of her thirty years on Planet Earth, Camellia Blume had never spent much time in Old Town. She'd heard often enough that the Tangles was the neighborhood for indie mom-&-pop stores, but she was always more of a mall rat. No one had ever accused her of having "edgy" tastes, and If they didn't sell it at the Windsong, then she probably hadn't heard of it anyway. She got lost a few times during the drive from Far Weston, and she had to back her car out of a dead-end alley more than once. She parked a few blocks away from the townhouse, leaving her clothes piled in the front seats. They were replaced with lavender-colored leaves and moss over green skin by the time Persephone arrived at the Dragoneer residence.

 

I don't know much about this man, but I know he's a performer. And that means he'll appreciate an entrance.

 

The ground shook. In the middle of a series of tremors, the doorbell rang. When it was answered, the open door revealed the culprit: A massive oak tree, as tall as half a dozen men. The bottom half of its trunk was bisected down the middle into a pair of legs, with bundles of roots for feet. Several branches were braided together on either side to form arms. Other branches in the front had woven together to form a structure similar to a balcony. Persephone leaned forward with both hands against the rim of the balcony, smiling. Slowly, the branches extended, lowering the balcony down to the ground. When it was hanging only a few feet in the air, the balcony split open, and branches extended from underneath. The wood molded itself like clay into the shape of a staircase leading down to the ground. Persephone walked down the stairs seemingly oblivious to them, despite the fact that each one sprang into existence barely a moment before she lowered her foot down onto it. Her hair, a deep, rich purple hue, glowed softly and trailed all the way down to her ankles, framing her entire body with a violet halo. Once Persephone was back on the ground, the oak tree stood up and walked away, shaking the ground with each step until it found its original home and took root in the soil once more.

 

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Posted (edited)

CHEVAL

 

Marcus had wanted to take public transportation to the event. That, or jump through the city, but that would probably have ruined his clothes. In either case, his agent, Francis, had vetoed that. "If you're going to visit someone as famous as the Ultimate Dragon Knight, then you do it right, kid." So, despite his protests, Marcus had complied to the private car that was now dropping him off in front of the house, the driver gawking up at Persephone and her walking tree. Marcus chuckled and handed the man a generous tip before stepping out of the car.

 

He was dressed in black pants with a nice pair of shoes, a red dress shirt in the same color red as his costume, and a black tie. He adjusted his cuff links as he approached the open door. "Bonswa, my friends. It is good to see you again, Persephone." 

Edited by RocketLord

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Persephone

 

When Persephone saw Cheval step out of the towncar, as with the handful of other times she'd seen him since they'd met, a wide smile spread over her whole face before she had time to consider whether or not to let it. First time I've seen him in something other than the wrestling singlet. The man can wear a suit. Good. I was hoping he'd clean up nice.

 

"Nobody told me this was a black-tie event," she teased. "Good thing I packed a change of clothes." The lavender leaves at her waist started expanding outward, pushed by new leaves growing behind them, which were pushed out in turn, layer after layer. The leaves still overlapped, weaving together in an interlocking pattern, but instead of clinging to her skin, they hung loosely around her legs. Once the leaves reached her ankles, the tapestry split up one side, almost to her hips. The leaves lining her decolletage expanded to wrap around her upper arms. Her usual leaf-leotard became a leaf-dress, with an off-the-shoulder sweetheart neckline. The leaves which had formed her "gloves" and "boots" dried up and fell off, revealing the bare arms, bare legs, and the pair of black pumps with five-inch heels which had all been hiding beneath. She stood at eye-level with Cheval.

 

That ought to get his attention.

 

Persephone glided up alongside Cheval and slipped her arm around his, still effortlessly smiling wide enough that her gleaming white teeth were on full display. "Shall we, Mon Chevalier?"

 

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There was a dull rumble as a sleek black sports car glided up the street. It looked to be of perhaps Italian design, though in fact it was the product of its creator's imagination. It finally pulled to a stop, the interior hidden behind smoked glass as the engine continued to throb. Suddenly, and in this crowd perhaps predictably, the shiny glass and steel began to collapse inward, as door panels folded like butterfly wings in reverse. Vibora's own 'Machine Maiden', as the newspapers called her, was tucking away her extra mass to resume her humanoid form.

 

As she did so, it appeared Taye had also dressed a bit more thoughtfully, her casual coveralls replaced by a stylish black jumpsuit and low-heeled boots. A fine silver chain was coiled into her braids, and a pair of diamond earrings flashed just below her magnificent updo, all of which made her appear taller and more statuesqe. 

 

"Hello, she said with a simple wave of her hand as she joined the other two near the front entrance; her expression was mild yet friendly.

Edited by Heritage

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You guys trying to impress me, or something?

 

Dragoneer, leaning casually in his doorway, flashed his famous goofy/confident/boyish grin. He, of course, had heard the giant tree walking. The doorbell did not work. Old houses, man. He was dressed casually. Jeans and a merch T.

 

I mean, I invited you guys to a meetup and hang out, not a wedding.

 

His tone was gently teasing. UDK was not a man who cared what clothes people had on. With, of course, the expected exception for heterosexual males: attractive women in not very much at all.

 

But what the hell, you’re here. Come on in, grab a sandwich and drink. Let’s get to know each other a bit. Meet my best bud.

 

He stepped back out of his doorway with a welcoming wave of the hand.

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Now wasn't that something? There was always something alluring about Persephone, but the dress that she shifted her usual attire into? It looked great on her. No, even before meeting the host, this seemed like it would turn out to be a good evening. "Oui, we cannot keep our host waiting, after all." He resisted the temptation to comment on her clothes, but happily accepted her arm in his.

 

He returned Torque's greeting with a nod, a smile and "It is good to see you again, my friend,", before turning to their host that had appeared in the doorway, dressed far more casually than his guests. The Dragoneer, the Ultimate Dragon Knight! 

 

"I always dress to impress, my friend. I have to stay on brand, after all." He followed their host into his home, leading Persephone for as long as she held on, at least. He gave a quick nod to the Dragoneer's "best bud", extending his hand to first him, then to their host himself. "It is good to meet you. I am Marcus Dumont, or Cheval when in action." 

 

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Persephone

 

Quote

"Hello."

 

Still the laconic sort. Will we ever get more than two words out of that girl? Maybe she'll warm up to us eventually. On the other hand, she does show several symptoms of...No, don't you start. You already diagnose too many people for free as it is. Turn it off. She has my number. If she wants my help, she'll ask for it.

 

"Hey there, Sweetie, great to see you again!" The green woman gave the robot girl's upper arm a quick friendly squeeze. I know better than to go for a hug, but it seems like SOME kind of friendly touch would do her some good.

 

Once inside the townhouse, the green woman didn't seem any more eager to release Cheval's arm than he was to pry it loose. She extended her other hand and a warm smile in greeting to both Dragoneer and his associate. "'Persephone' is my 'professional' name. Not all of us are living quite as publicly as you and Marcus are, at least not yet. Give us some time to ease into it. But it's delightful to finally meet both of y'all! Thank you so much for inviting us into your lovely home! We were happier than a woodpecker in a lumberyard to hear from you. I reckon with the recent surge of metahuman activity in Vibora Bay, coordinating with each other like this as soon as possible is our best chance to do the most good for our community. We'll be about as useful to the people of this city as a pair of steel-toed flip-flops if danger strikes and we're all paddlin' our own little canoes in circles, each one of us with only one oar in the water, just because we're too proud or too scared to talk to each other."

 

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"You guys trying to impress me, or something? I mean, I invited you guys to a meetup and hang out, not a wedding."

 

"Well aren't you sweet as maple syrup on a Pancake Sunday!" Persephone pressed a hand against her chest. "You're too kind. I really did just throw it together at the last minute."

 

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"I always dress to impress, my friend."

 

Persephone couldn't help looking Cheval up and down and smirk in response to that statement. Mission accomplished.

 

"So, if you don't mind my asking, what motivated the move to Vibora Bay? I've lived here for most of my life, so I can rattle off ten-thousand reasons a person would want to live here, but that wouldn't tell me which ones were yours."

 

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"You can call me Torque, for now, said the shapeshifter as she stepped inside. "And thank you for the invitation." When the subject of food was broached, she looked slightly uncomfortable. "I...regret that I must decline your offer of food. Despite my appearance, I am no longer human, and therefore cannot enjoy it. However, on the off-chance you have any scrap metal or even recycling on hand, I would happily partake."

 

It seemed like Cheval and Persephone were getting on well. Good; they made a lovely couple. Torque took a seat by Niro, and gave him a polite nod and smile in greeting.

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Since Cheval was first, Dragoneer shook his hand. Niro placed a bookmark and then shut his book. “Nice to meet you, Marcus.

 

Standing for a moment, Niro shook Cheval’s hand before returning to his seat. “Niro Saki. A pleasure. I do agree, Miss Persephone. Not all of us have Dragoneer’s boundless confidence. A variety of skills, powers, and personalities can only be beneficial.

 

Dragoneer rolled his eyes. “He says that like I think I can take Omega by myself.” He winked conspiratorially and leaned in to whisper. “Well…we’d just have to see, wouldn’t we?” And then Persephone asked her question. UDK shrugged. “One place is as good as another, you know? I mean, Freedom and Emerald are a little…crowded for me, but otherwise yeah.

 

Niro let out a soft chuckle. “He threw six darts at a map of the United States, and then rolled a die. This did not fool me. His daughter is attending the University of Miami this semester.

 

UDK let out an aggrieved sigh. “Sure, give away all my secrets why don’t you?” But he said it with a smile. “Do you do aluminum, Torque? We recycle, so you can have all the soda cans you want. Or pour out some of the unopened ones. I don’t care.” There was a hint of apology in his eyes and tone, but he said nothing of it.

 

 

 

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Marcus shook the Dragonner's firmly, like his father had taught him. A firm handshake didn't need to crush the other man's hand, but should be firm enough to let him know you were not scared, either. 

 

"Ha, like I would let you have Omega to yourself if he dared show up here!" Bravado, sure, but part of him wondered about just that. There was something else that he focused on, however, perhaps something uncharacteristic for him. "The University of Miami, you say? What is she studying?" 

 

Interesting, the Dragoneer didn't seem nearly old enough to have a daughter at that age, at least not if he hadn't become a father during his early teens. Marcus supposed that could have happened, but he somehow doubted it.

 

"What does she think about it? My brother is attending the University of Florida Vibora Bay."

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"Some aluminum would be excellent, thank you," the synthetic human said with a slight, pleasant smile. "And UFVB is a very good school; I graduated from the engineering program several years ago, and was well-employed prior to my transformation. I still follow the Gators, and try to make at least one game a season."

 

Then she turned to her host and sighed, a residual human behavior. "You'll have to forgive me, Mr. Knight, but I don't follow follow professional wrestling; are you still an active participant, or are you focusing on the other aspects of your career?" 

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Persephone

 

Quote

"His daughter is attending the University of Miami this semester."

 

Quote

"The University of Miami, you say? What is she studying?"

 

"Oh, good for her! It's a great school. Made my short list back in the day. Leonard Miller's one of the top medical schools in the country. You must be so excited! I was going to ask the same thing, does she know what she wants to be when she grows up yet?"

 

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"My brother is attending the University of Florida Vibora Bay."

 

She turned to Cheval, smiled, and playfully punched his upper arm with a half-closed fist. "I didn't know that! I did grad school at UFVB." She rolled her eyes. "My parents weren't exactly thrilled about it, but they came around eventually."

 

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"And UFVB is a very good school; I graduated from the engineering program several years ago, and was well-employed prior to my transformation. I still follow the Gators, and try to make at least one game a season."

 

"No kidding? For the most part, I couldn't care less about sports, but I NEVER miss a Gators home game! Got the Orange and Blue in my blood and it'll be there 'till my dying day. We should go together next time!"

 

Persephone  turned back to the Dragoneer. "So, were you planning on operating here independently? Or were you hoping to become a municipal defender?"

 

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Dragoneer was caught off guard. People didn’t usually ask about Sarah without some kind of…insinuation. Like he didn’t know, or something. “Physical education, anatomy and stuff. Not like to be a doctor, but like a personal trainer. Only, you know, with a Bachelor’s degree.” Then he did feel kind of bad, as he hadn’t directly asked her how she felt about the school. Though she’d seemed excited to get in? “I think she likes it there? I mean, we’re both pretty busy so we don’t talk as much as either of us would like.” Did…did Marcus not know? UDK thought everybody who knew him knew these days. But eh…he’d really rather not get the looks again, so moving right along.

 

“It does suit her better than USC.” Dragoneer looked at his friend, a little surprised. “Sayomi keeps in touch. And talks to her mother. Who talks to me.” A moment. “You are the one with two and a half careers to manage. It only makes sense that those of us with just the one can manage to keep in touch.” To the others he said, “Sayomi is my daughter. She is still in high school in San Francisco, under the supervision of my wife Hiromi. I get back when I can.

 

UDK nodded. “Okay, then.” And then he visibly winced when when Torque called him “Mr. Knight”. “Good god, none of that. Ultimate Dragon Knight’s just a nickname. My name is Dragoneer. D for short. Or UDK if you’re feeling fancy. None of that ‘mister’ stuff.” He held up his hands placatingly. “Please.” He put them down again. “To answer the question, yes. I have not doing house shows in my contract, so basically I’m only appearing one night a week with one more for Pay Per Views. Those I have that in my contract so I can do music stuff, AvDrag’s on a bit of a break. So I’ve got the free time to superhero.” AvDrag being the shortened form of his band’s name, Avenging Dragons. “You didn’t hear this from me, but new album’s in the can. Should be out in time for Christmas. We’ll probably do a couple festivals in spring, throw out another world tour over the summer, and bounce around the States in the fall.” He waved his hands as if to dismiss it. “Henry’s got his acting commitments, so that won’t be full time work, either.” He referred to Henry Peterson, co-frontman (with UDK, naturally) of the band and one of the most famous actors on the planet. “Honestly, I work less than most people with full time jobs do. It’s all the extra stuff that eats time. Interview with this magazine then that celebrity news show. Public appearances, award shows, guesting on TV or web shows, my charity work, Make A Wish, my god does it ever end?” He exhaled, shedding his building frustration like water off a duck. “Nah, I don’t mean that. Most of it’s pretty cool, actually. If you ever get a chance to go to the Teen Choice Awards, take it.” He blew out more air. “But yeah, if I let it build up it can be A Lot. World’s full of people who don’t really care you’re running on four hours sleep in two days with only light snacks for fuel, just give us some of the ol’ Dragoneer charm please.” He grinned that (in?)famous grin of his again. “So now and again I tell ‘em all to stick that extra stuff where the sun don’t shine. Let my sister handle the charity work, and keep doing Make A Wish.

 

He blinked. “And you didn’t ask me all of that, but look at how I kept on rolling.” He rubbed the back of his head. “Sorry. Pro wrestling doesn’t exactly teach me how to shut up about myself. To actually answer the question, I try to keep a balance.” And then there was Persephone’s question. “A what now?” He genuinely did not know what that was.

 

A municipal defender.” Niro interjected, as he knew things UDK neglected to pay attention to. “Basically you’d be employed by the city as a superhero. There’s more to it, but it doesn’t strike me as something you would be a part of.

 

UDK nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got two jobs already. Who needs a third? But enough about me. How did you guys get your powers? Why are you superheroes instead of, I dunno, accountants? Got any fun facts you’d like to share? Niro, add something buddy.”

 

Niro gave an amused smile. “They’ve barely spoken to me, Dragoneer. You are, as ever, the center of attention.” Neither his face nor his tone suggested he minded at all. “Still, we were on the subject of education and careers. Torque has shared hers. Persephone, Marcus, would you care to do so?

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To be honest, Marcus was a bit taken aback by Dragoneer's rather rapid explanations of everything. He nodded along, taking it all in and listening. 

 

On 10/26/2019 at 6:16 AM, EternalPhoenix said:

I think she likes it there? I mean, we’re both pretty busy so we don’t talk as much as either of us would like.

 

On 10/26/2019 at 2:01 AM, Grumblefloof said:

She turned to Cheval, smiled, and playfully punched his upper arm with a half-closed fist. "I didn't know that! I did grad school at UFVB." She rolled her eyes. "My parents weren't exactly thrilled about it, but they came around eventually."

 

It didn't really hurt, but he still rubbed his arm where Persephone hit him, shaking his head to defend himself.

 

"Well, it is not exactly a secret, but no reason to draw more attention to him than I already do. It isn't always easy to have families super hero in the family, is that not right, D?" If that was what Dragoneer wanted to be called, then so be it. Still, such an odd name. He probably had his reasons for such a name, or his parents had, at least, but it seemed odd to him. D sounded more normal, at least.

 

On 10/26/2019 at 6:16 AM, EternalPhoenix said:

A municipal defender.” Niro interjected, as he knew things UDK neglected to pay attention to. “Basically you’d be employed by the city as a superhero. There’s more to it, but it doesn’t strike me as something you would be a part of.

 

UDK nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got two jobs already. Who needs a third? But enough about me. How did you guys get your powers? Why are you superheroes instead of, I dunno, accountants? Got any fun facts you’d like to share? Niro, add something buddy.”

 

Niro gave an amused smile. “They’ve barely spoken to me, Dragoneer. You are, as ever, the center of attention.” Neither his face nor his tone suggested he minded at all. “Still, we were on the subject of education and careers. Torque has shared hers. Persephone, Marcus, would you care to do so?

 

He resisted the temptatoin to cross his arms and instead just nodded to Niro's explanation. "Yes, there is more to it. For one, letting the people of this city know that there is someone out there to protect them, but I see no reason to force the matter. I've so far been able to continue my personal work in peace, at least." He clenched his free hand into a fist, and raised it in response to their other questions. "I must admit that I'm not as well educated as either Torque or Persephone. I never went to any fancy universities, but I admit that it is not for me. I'm a boxer by trade, taught by the best. Maybe you heard of Marcus Dumont, the Iron Horse? I wasn't quite as well known as the Ultimate Dragon Knight, of course, but most of the people of this city seems to have heard of me." He drifted off for a moment, thinking of what could have been. "I like helping people, it seemed only natural when to do so when I gained these powers. Besides, my debut was rather public, no one wanted to let the man that could turn into iron to get back into the ring."

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Torque nodded attentively as Dragoneer explained his high pressure lifestyle; it sounded exhausting to her, and she no longer slept! So she could hardly judge him for not making 'hero work' a full time job. At the mention of how she got her powers, she suddenly became coy.

 

"There are...details of my private life that I am not able to share," she said as she shifted uncomfortably on the sofa. "Suffice to say it involved nanotechnology, and a significant change in my body's structure."

 

 

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Persephone

 

Quote

"It isn't always easy to have families super hero in the family, is that not right, D?"

 

"It's true, 'family' is one of the big reasons why I've kept my two lives separate for now. I imagine that's the case with most folks like us. It's not so much that I'd put them in any real danger. They're well off enough that they can afford to keep themselves safe, even when I'm not around to do it. But it would make their lives a heap more complicated. And I've already slipped more than one burr into their saddle over the years, when the daughter they were trying to raise didn't quite match up with the daughter they got. I'm not all that concerned with my own reputation, but I've already done some damage to their's. Nothing major, just a few scratches and dents, but I'd hate to ding it up even more if I didn't have to. I hear Daddy's friends at the club still tease him now and then for having a daughter who lives, works, and went to school on the 'wrong' side of town, and Momma's gal-pals have brought it up at brunch more than once."

 

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"Yeah, I’ve got two jobs already. Who needs a third? But enough about me. How did you guys get your powers? Why are you superheroes instead of, I dunno, accountants? Got any fun facts you’d like to share? Niro, add something buddy."

 

"Oh, 'City Defender' is definitely a second job for me. I was already a 'professional', a self-employed one at that, so as you can imagine, I didn't exactly have a wealth of free time even before I became a superhero on the side. Most days I was already as busy as a mustard paddle at a weenie roast. But I worked too hard and sacrificed too much for far too long for that first career to abandon it if I don't absolutely have to. And unlike Marcus, I was lucky enough to have a fairly discreet 'debut', discreet enough that I had the luxury of choosing which parts of my life to keep private. That's not to say that 'going public' would necessarily end my first career, but, just like with the family, it would complicate things. As for the powers, it was all just luck for me, good luck and bad. Being in the right and wrong places at the right and wrong times. What seemed like me just trying to be a Good Samaritan turned out to be the closest I've ever come to meeting my maker. What seemed like just a mugging by some desperate folks down on their luck, folks I thought I could scare off by flashing my headlights and calling '911' on my cell, that turned out to be an attempted murder, by a pack of supernatural predators. What seemed like just another flower for my garden turned out to be a biological weapon from another dimension. What seemed like the worst mistake I would ever make, and the last one too, turned out to be opening the door to a whole new world of wonder."

 

Quote

Niro gave an amused smile. "They’ve barely spoken to me, Dragoneer. You are, as ever, the center of attention." Neither his face nor his tone suggested he minded at all. "Still, we were on the subject of education and careers. Torque has shared hers. Persephone, Marcus, would you care to do so?"

 

"My goodness, Mister Saki, I am so sorry. I certainly didn't mean to make you feel excluded or superfluous. You can rest assurred that I'm every bit as interested in your own plans for our beloved city as those of your comrade-in-arms here. I just try to avoid dragging anybody into the spotlight who doesn't want to be there. I always loved center stage so much that it took me a while to figure out that some people are in the back because that's where they want to be. More than once while I was growing up, I uprooted a wallflower and tried to re-plant them in different soil where they'd get more sunlight, only to learn the hard way that not every flower thrives in the same type of garden."

 

Edited by Grumblefloof

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