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Spring Fling - March/April 2020 Vignette


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Spring Fling (March/April 2020) 

“If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring.” - Victor Hugo 

 

That’s right, it’s springtime! That time of year when flowers bloom - a time of new love, new opportunities, and new adventure! 

 

““It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” - Mark Twain 

 

It’s a time of growth and development, when new things are budding, new life is growing, and everything looks just a little brighter. 

““Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.” - John Muir 

 

  • Sometimes people travel for spring - spring break, woo! Superpeople could go all over the world for spring break if they were so inclined - or even beyond! 

 

  • The baseball teams are in Vibora Bay for spring training. and the North American Soccer League is having its Spring Championship in Emerald City. (Bedlam’s local ice hockey teams are just finishing another disappointing season) 

 

  • Faith and begorrah - St. Patrick’s Day is March 15! 

 

  • Easter is April 12 this year - and Carnival on the 40 days before that. WOO! 

 

  • Claremont's prom is on the last day of April. The theme this year is "Party Like It's 1920 Again" 

 

  • It's springtime on a lot of planets (depending on what hemisphere you're in). Get out and breath unrecycled air, space jockeys! 

 

Lots of room for spring vignettes this year. 

 

Please post them here by April 30 2020.

 

(As a reminder, vignettes follow the same general rules as posts in terms of content, player character limits, and so on. You may have only one vignette per player character. Each vignette should be at least one page (~500 words) in length; if posted in your thread counts at the end of the month, it is worth 1pp for the associated character. An especially long vignette, 1000 words or more, may be worth up to 2pp. Multiple players can collaborate on a single vignette - we recommend Google Docs for this, it's very useful - but the vignette should be about one page per participating player. )
 

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Freedom City 
Riverside 
April 2020 

 

It was the morning after - and nothing bad had happened. No emergencies with Judy back at Claremont, no invasions by the Grue, no purse-snatchers running by in front of her face, nothing but Fa’Rua, a very nice Vietnamese restaurant that wasn’t as good as New Orleans but was still very good, a long ride through the city on her motorcycle, and then - well, luckily she’d planned ahead (and maybe a bit confidently) and reserved the hotel room in advance. It hadn’t been cheap but there was room service - and silk sheets. 

 

Ashley woke up with the dawn, used to a high school student’s hours, and briefly surprised to find herself in bed with someone else. She looked over at Fa’Rua and scrubbed her hand across the back of her face. Oh my god - I can’t believe she’s here. Star-crossing romance or not, it was still about seven o’clock in the morning, so she slipped out of bed as discreetly as she could and headed for the bathroom, glancing backwards just to make sure Fa’Rua was still there. When the door closed behind her, she was smiling. 

 

Luckily for the sleepy Lor she’d largely synced her schedule with that of her earthbound girlfriend, if only to be available for texts and calls at the same times.  Not that she hadn’t planned on sleeping in after the nights entertainments, but it was exceedingly hard to sneak away from an alien mentat able to sense the exact position of everything in her environs.

Fa’Rua sat up stretching sinuously as the door clicked shut and a satisfied, if sleepy, smile gracing her mischievous features.  She padded quietly to the window to look out over the corner of the city where they had come to roost and watch the early dawn light crawling along the boulevards.  Perhaps too accustomed to the windows facing into deep space and loneliness to fully process the inadvertent show she was putting on.  Or equally likely, not caring.  Regardless of the reason that’s where Ashley would find her when she emerged from the bathroom,   “So eating in or do you have a romantic brunch all planned out to Miss Overachiever?”

 

Ashley blushed, which she knew was a ridiculous reaction given that she’d seen all of that before, but enjoyed the show anyway. “I...thought we might stay in,” she said, moving to join Fa’Rua by the window. “I don’t want to interrupt the show, after all..” She grinned. She was wearing one of the hotel’s comfy white bathrobes herself, and reached over to snag the hotel’s room service menu. She stood behind Fa’Rua at the window, putting an arm around her as she leaned around her side to look at the menu with her. “My treat, honey. I don’t think they take credit chips here,” she added with a smile. She’d grown up with hearty breakfasts, and liked the burger with the fried egg on top. “You smell nice,” she commented. 

 

Leaning back into the embrace as Ashley approached Fa’Rua let out a satisfied hum and slowly turned lifting Ashleys chin to plant a soft kiss on her lips.  She was clearly unfazed by any show she may have put on.  “That sounds even better.”  she replied and peeked down at the menu before settling on a fruit plate, some things were hard to get in deep space and fresh produce was high on that list.  She smiled down at Ashley and winked, “If I didn’t know better Ms. Tran I’d say you wanted me in your debt.”  she teased playfully running a hand through her violet locks leaving them artfully tousled as she sunk back on the bed and waited for Ashley to finish ordering before becoming any more of a distraction.  Curling around the smaller womans back like an oversize cat she let out a contented sigh, “I guess I’ll just have to make it up to you and whisk you off to the stars next time.”

 

Once she placed the order, Ashley leaned back against Fa’Rua, relaxing bonelessly. “God, that sounds nice,” she confessed. They’d talked about the interstellar invader that she and Judy had dealt with back in February, but the bad side of the stars wasn’t something she wanted to think about just now, not when she was thinking about better things. “I think your brother might get a little tired of us living in each other’s space, though.” She laughed softly, then said, “...but it’s not impossible, right?” She asked it lightly, because asking it seriously and having it fall flat would have been a punch in the gut. “You said the Service sometimes uses civilian contractors who aren’t from inside the Republic. _Could_ someone like that actually serve long-term on a Scout Service ship?” 

 

Fa’Rua giggled against her shoulder at the mention of Jolans potential discomfort, “I dunno pretty sure he had that excised when he had the sense of humor removed.”  She traced a finger along Ashleys collar absently while she was briefly lost in thought, “No not impossible.” she murmured something clearly on her mind that she was struggling with.  She took a deep breath and dove in damn the torpedoes and all that.  

 

“They do.”  she assured Ashley, “But I’d been giving it some thought.”  She bit her lower lip uncertainly and then rushed ahead as she was wont to do, “After you graduate and are off your detail that is.”  she clarified out of order her nerves showing, “I could put in a transfer for the Star Rangers.”  The elite frontier law force was not exactly under the same  bureaucracy but there was enough trade back and forth for it not to be out of the question, “They try to partner Rangers up with locals sooo.”  She looked uncertainly toward Ashley.  It felt like a big step suggesting making a big career decision based on this still young relationship, but it wasn an even bigger ask to suggest the Terran join her in the stars long term, that she knew as well.”

 

“So you’d be...operating in the Solar System, or close to it?” Ashley closed her eyes for a moment and considered that possibility. The big thing holding her back from going into space had always been thinking of her family (and honestly Judy, if she was totally honest with herself), and how much leaving them for months or years at a time for the far-distant missions of the Scout Service on a permanent basis would hurt. One long-distance relationship was hard enough. But if she could have Fa’Rua, and space, and her family. “The Service doesn’t typically work with extraterrestrials, but I could apply for a transfer to AEGIS,” she said softly. “They tried to poach me a couple of times already. Yeah, I think I could get a liaison position.” She licked her lips and rolled over, looking at Fa’Rua. 

 

When she spoke, it was slow, halting Lor; the first time she’d had a chance to actually speak it to someone other than the language learning program in the Doom Room. “I love you. Let us try what is to become.” She bit her lip nervously, hoping she’d said that right. 

 

The Lor broke into a wide smile as Ashley thought aloud how it might be arranged, relief flooding her features, she hadn’t been moving too fast, for once.  She leaned in to give the terran a deep kiss and a whispered, “I love you Ashley.” all the tension bleeding from her body at the acknowledgement that this wasn’t all to come to an end when one or the other of them was transferred too distant or deep undercover to continue.  She didn’t know what more to say, the moment was already almost too perfect, luckily fate intervened in the form of a knock at the door as their breakfast arrived before she could say anything to spoil it.  She glanced down at her bare form and laughed lightly, “Hmm you should probably get that.”  She admitted with clear reluctance and let Ashley up to answer while she searched for the companion to Ashleys robe.

 

“I’ll be quick.” Ashley smiled at the delivery guy and tipped him 25% - what the hell, she wasn’t spending her money on much of anything else this weekend, and it had already been one hell of a weekend. The room wasn’t terribly well-appointed when it came to places to eat, but sitting together on the bed with their food wasn’t so bad. They put the television on one of the movie channels, and Ashley made some strong hotel coffee afterwards. They never did get very far that weekend - but that was okay. The stars awaited. 

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Spring Fling Vignette 

The Great Prank 

Angelic and Forever Boy 

 

Being on the morning announcement crew had its perks - including getting information ahead of the curve from the Prom Committee. Eira sat alone in the tech room studying the poster for the 2020 Spring Prom for quite some time after the crew was issued it, looking at the cheerful images of people in short skirts and fedoras, the brassy jukeboxes and 1920s Model Ts. She let Leroy and Ben give the announcement of the prom theme that morning - and over lunch, she went to track down Pan. It wasn’t true that everyone was talking about prom but quite a few people were; “Party Like It’s 1920 Again” sounded like it was a reasonably popular theme as things went. Eira wasn’t really paying attention to what other people were saying, though. 

 

“Only 100 years past?” Pan was sitting on a table, shaking his head. Surrounded by a few other students, some on their phones, others listening to him. “Come now, where is the fun in that?” With a shrug, he jumped up from the table. “Still, I do like the style. Very fancy.” Waving off to the other students, he started moving, until he spotted someone else he knew. A co-conspirator, a master of mischief, a star of shenanigans! “Eira!”

 

“Hey Pan.” Eira smiled at Pan, her teeth white against her blue-painted lips. “You saw it too, yes?” She shook her head. “Elizabeth will be happy, I suppose,” she said doubtfully, “but it is so uncreative!” She shot a skeptical-looking glance at a poster recently affixed to the exterior wall they were passing. “At least the distant past is distant.” She made a mimicing gesture in the air with her fingers. “Let’s go back to the era when women could not vote, gay people went to prison, and there was segregation. Ridiculous!” 

 

“Also, an even more ridiculous ban on alcohol than the one for minors in this world,” Pan added to the list. His grin was as wide as ever, while he motioned towards the poster with his left hand. “But, there is something about the fashion that I like, even if I cannot quite place what.” He stopped shortly, an elbow in his hand, the other hand on his chin, as he studied the poster. “No, I am really not sure what it is about it.” With a quick laugh, he drifted across the floor to catch up with Eira. “Anything new? Any great pranks to play?”

 

“You would look good in the fashion,” agreed Eira as she looked Pan up and down. “You could magic yourself up a tuxedo, and perhaps a fedora..” She added, “I promised to be on my best behavior for a while, so I am shackled for now.” She looked back at the poster and grinned, “I bet there could be some great pranks at the prom, though. What about this?” She glanced around, making sure they were alone on the quad. She took out one of the little holographic generators she’d shown Pan, and pressed a few buttons along the side, quickly summoning an image of a crystal punch bowl full of something red, with something distinctly visible moving inside it. “I have a robot for removing chemical impurities; I could put it in the punch, tell it to remove any alcohol…” She pressed a few buttons more, and suddenly glowing eyestalks emerged from the robot in the punch bowl. “Just imagine the looks on their faces!” She laughed. “And we will be _keeping_ the punch from being spiked! A heroic prank!”  

 

A snap of Pan’s fingers later, some golden dust exploding around Eira, and she found herself in an emerald green 1920’s style dress, reaching to just above her knees, complete with a headband with a little feather and long gloves. “Well, you and me both, then,” he agreed with another grin, drifting by her to admire his work for a moment. “A short leash does not quite fit you, does it?” There was some concern in his voice, while he studied the image of the punch bowl. “What exactly does that robot look like? Maybe it could just accidentally happen to swim up into someone’s drink… Eyestalks and all, of course.”

 

Eira looked down at herself and blinked a few times, tugging at the edges of the dress, and then when she looked up at Pan she said, “Of course you realize, this means you will have to be my date.” She laughed. “Wouldn’t that be hilarious? You and I at the Claremont junior prom, just like the rest of them.” She hmmed and added, “The water robot only becomes so small...but I could bring robotic insects, or perhaps mice.... All of them with cameras to keep the prom safe,” she said piously, a hand over her heart, “a perfectly heroic gesture while they scuttle about on their little legs, up the walls and on the ceiling…” She grinned at Pan.  

 

“Oh, a date, then?” Pan looked up, a 1920’s style pinstripe suit in matching emerald green, complete with a red tie forming around him. “I suppose we should match?” He seemed to give a bit of thought. “I suppose it could be interesting to see the reactions. The forever boy and the angelic android on a date, no?” He sounded amused at the idea, at the least. “Did you have any other plans for how this prank date would turn out, hm?”

 

“It is only technically a date,” said Eira with a smirk. “I mean, we’re just doing it - ironically, yes?” She looked Pan up and down and smiled. “That _is_ a good look, you know. As for plans, well...I always have plans. Especially for this, when there will be so many people so full of themselves.” she reassured him. “We will have to be clever. We will join those setting up to make sure we know exactly what is where, and we will listen to know what other people are planning.” She slipped her arm experimentally inside Pan’s, the two of them seeming to make a convincing 1920s couple. “It will be the greatest prank. No one will ever see it coming.” 

 

“Well, technically a date is still a date, ironic or not, no?” He waved a hand, the emerald outfits disappearing while they stood there for a moment, not that he let go anyway. “Ah, so we will pretend to join the festivities, and then we will listen for what others plan. But what shall we do about the plans the others make, then?” He raised an eyebrow, as he looked at her. “Shall we mess with their plans, or shall we simply attempt to outdo them?” He seemed to think it over for the moment. “I had considered doing something with the music, but after Mrs. Summers’ little song number, I think people might actually expect that.”

 

Eira considered that, leaning against Pan. He’d felt her cool to the touch before (an artifact of her internal systems) but she seemed decidedly warm now. “Well...we don’t want to _ruin_ anyone’s plans,” she said thoughtfully, “unless they are terrible people. We just want to make prom suitably...memorable.” She grinned. “Something no one will ever forget.” She tapped her teeth with one finger, then said, “We could make an illusion - my holograms, your magic. As if there really is a gateway to the 1920s somewhere, and people have traveled in time to our party.” 

 

She released his arm and pulled out one of her hologram generators, pressing a few buttons until it summoned a blurry, black and white image of a dancing couple doing what she explained was the Charleston. “I can clean up the image quality and make it photorealistic, add more of them...if they love the past so much, we’ll fill them full of it!” She hummed for a moment, then added, “You know, I can do this to myself.” She hefted the generator. “I have some space in my palms; I _could_ implant this in my hands, so I could do these any time I wanted.” 

 

Pan didn’t pull back, though he seemed slightly puzzled at the warm touch. “Oh, but of course it should be memorable!” Pan threw his arms out to the side, the air around them filling with small men and women doing the Charleston. He grinned at her comment on the spare space and whether she could do this herself or not. “Well, of course you could do this yourself, but where is the fun in that? I tend to find the best pranks are the ones where you have a partner in crime. Or perhaps in this case, a partner in crime to change the time!” He let out a short laugh at his little rhyme, making a quick bow as the dancing couples around him stopped to clap. 

 

“So, filling up some more space with very useful devices, then?” He glanced down at Eira’s palms, at her hands. “But if you fill up all the space in your hand, then how will you hold anything in them?” He seemed genuinely curious, gently taking hold around Eira’s wrist and inspecting her palms. “A projector in the hand seems like it could easily be damaged… what if you could not even hold a hand?”

 

“Here, let me show you…” She took his hand in hers and guided his fingertip along the lines in her palm. “Do you feel that?” As she asked, Pan could feel a slight tingle in his fingertips. “My skin is electro-pliant. All I have to do is install the generators inside the bones of my hand, and I can use the skin of my hands as projectors without altering their appearance.” She took one of his hands in both of hers, creating a current effect a bit like a static charge, and smiled at him. “I provided significant input into my body’s construction. It is very well-made.” 

 

“Yes, it tingles.” A light spark, a touch? “To be fair, a lot of what you say is beyond me, but… yow!” He pulled his hand back, staring at Eira’s hand for a moment, then turning his eyes to her face. He looked absolutely shocked for a moment, before he started laughing at the little prank. “Ha! That was good!” He rubbed his hand, still laughing. “Yes, yes, I can only agree. Very well-made, inside and out.” He shook his head, the feeling returning to his hand. “So, an ironic date, where we make the greatest prank to make the junior prom as memorable as we can, yes? We dance, we prance, we bring back the past? Your images and mine, all together?”

 

Eira blinked a few times, processing his words, a frown crossing her features briefly before it faded away. “...yes.” She looked him up and down and added, “Your body must process electricity differently than I thought. We will have to spend much time together practicing our pranks.” She slowly grinned, rubbing her hands together with a look of anticipation on her face. She considered for a moment, then said, “Oh, I just realized…” She laughed. “I will have to call my aunts today, the ones who live in DuTemps, because otherwise they will hear about this from Abby first - you know she has ways of hearing about these things. And if that happens, they might, ha-ha, get the wrong idea.” She considered that, then said, “They will probably want to meet you.” 

 

“Maybe I do. Pixie Dust and happy thoughts, and all that. Not something I have given much thought.” Pan chewed on the mention of Abby for a moment. “Yes, Abby has a way of finding out about whoever is and is not dating, ironically or not. And she has a way of letting anyone know that you do not want to know, but why would your aunts care?” He seemed to hesitate a bit, as if the whole idea of meeting someone else’s family was a rather foreign concept to him. “Ah well, I am always happy to see new places! Let me know when, and we will make our plans!”

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SUNDAY SURPRISE (March 22, 2020)
Foreshadow II

 

Erick Sloane’s birth father was a lapsed Catholic Ruska Roma circus performer.  His mother a more traditional Russian Orthodox.  But neither pushed the church in his upbringing.  Rather, pushing him to attend the gym.  Not that he complained, Erick loved gymnastics.  His temple laid at the parallel bars. 

He only started attending Catholic mass again after learning of his forthcoming child.  Even going so far as to attend confession.  Erick wanted to put enough positive energy into the world that the birth would go problem free.  Father Mathias listened, but never judged.  “My child if you continue this path you will have more Hail Marys than the rest of my congregation by the month’s end.  Have you decided what you will do for Mothering Sunday?”
 

“Dee’s with her mom, doing that whole Mother’s Day thing.  I was just planning on spending the day earning a few more of those Hail Marys.  Really, you guys might need to give out one of those little stamp cards.  Your tenth confession and the wafers are free.”

 

“Sacramental bread.  My son rather than bring violence upon this world, perhaps you should try bringing joy?”  Father Mathias step forward and placed a hand on Erick’s shoulder.  “This will be the last Mothering Sunday before your wife is a mother.  It is the perfect opportunity to show her how much you truly do love the mother of your child.”

“We’re not married.  Engaged to be engage-you know father.  Not important.  I’m gonna go good talk, all the big hits padre.  Same time next week?”  Although Erick quickly rushed out of the parish.  Having taken the priest’s words under consideration.  He did begin to think it was the perfect time to give Dee some sort of gesture of romance.

 

Erick quickly beelined it for his yellow LaFerrari.  Another sign that his continued Seed and SeriesA investments were paying off.  Though, he participated in more than his fair share of charities and angel invested with unfavorable levels of equity ownership.  He was still on the outlook for more ways to invest that could help people. 

He had gotten an idea that he wanted to run by Dee.  Co-founding an organization meant to address superhuman trafficking and unethical genetic manipulation.  He hadn’t started an actual business from the ground up.  And knew her mind for creating the software or algorithms needed would do more of the heavy lifting.  But it was a way their civilian lives could continue to help.  In ways that fists, and telekinetic blasts couldn’t.  Plus, he didn’t want to have to keep playing the fool while his best friend had to fake stakeholders complaining about some of his choices in Sloane Solutions.  Allowing a little distancing from his venture capital firm in this side project.  But before they talked business perhaps the good father was right on how Erick should spend the day.

 

Instead of heading straight home, Erick decided to spend a few hours going through the local shops.  The first store Erick found himself in was an aromatherapy store.  He bought an assortment of candles walking through aisles filled with cocktail shrub giftset.  For making mocktails.  “Well it’s not quite alcohol.  I mean doctor’s say a glass of wine is alright.  But seltzer and whatever this is?”

Granted if there was an actual risk in consumption, he trusted his sixth sense would’ve warned him.  But, he also didn’t want her to spit out plant food in an attempt to pretend to drink wine.  Of course, the fact that he was already picturing it as akin to plant food didn’t exactly endear him to the purchase.  Erick then looked around before popping the cork of one of the bottles in the store and taking a free trial.  It was earthy.  But, not in the way one wanted a wine substitute to be.  “I can work with this maybe with some advice from VERA I can add or take a few things in the lab.  But, we can probably work up a mocktail that doesn’t entirely make you miss a good buzz.  Too bad it’ll take me four times as long than as if Dee were the one inside the lab.”

Next, Erick found himself a records store.  Looking through the vinyl collections of music, even though his technologically minded girlfriend likely already had anything he could find in digital.  Vinyl was back.  And even local new grunge and rock groups tried to release records to be retro.  There was a chance that something she’d like would be in the mix.  He asked for recommendations on the local scene from the music purveyors.  Using his social engineering for something other than finding out crime dens and drug hideouts.   He got word of a couple of shows that would be playing in clubs.  He hadn’t heard of half the local talent.  But, that didn’t stop Erick from buying the tickets. 

Lastly, he knew the most difficult part of the more domestic adjustment would be that at her heart, Dee was a thrill seeker.  Perhaps even more of a daredevil than himself, Erick didn’t want to have her stuck sitting around without excitement between whatever heroic activity she could still muster.  He went to multiple shops looking for an exciting activity.  Until finally he settled on buying two sets of paddleboards.  Making for an uncomfortable carry back to the LaFerrari he had driven there.

We really are going to need a minivan.  The struggle to place the paddleboards in the car wasn’t exactly easy going.  Only succeeding after getting a bit of rope and accepting that his clothes were about to get very dirty.  Leaning over the trunk of his car, Erick took a moment to catch his breath.  That was when he locked eyes with the small Belgian Malinois puppy across the street.

When David adopted Erick they also got a puppy.  It was a Belgian Malinois that acted as a guard dog to the estate.  Only listening to commands in Galstandard.  Which either Raven or Daedalus had thought David.  Erick was never clear on which.  He was however clear on how to speak Galactic Standard despite not exactly frequenting space.  There were enough bad guys with guns for him to worry on Earth.

“Oh, she would kill me.  Or…maybe not.  Hm…” 

 

 

Edited by HGM
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GOLD IS THE NEW BLOOD
Glamazon

 

Nuvanut, Canada’s newest, largest, and most northerly territory is also its most remote.  At 50 square miles of ice per person, the territory was the most isolated holiday destination that the Atlantean Princess could have taken.  With a population of only 7,000 strong it didn’t take long for word to spread in Iqaluit that a superheroine was visiting the only in city in Nuvanut.

Even without her armored attire, the fact that Glamazon would audibly shout her name didn’t help keep a low profile either.  Currently, she was wearing an Iqaluit Blizzard t-shirt and a comfortable of shorts.  Not even bothering to cover her feet as the walked across the tundra.  Sitting in the back of a jeep as her tour guide and translator, Eva Ipellie, drove towards Apex Beach.

Eva was an Inuk teenager in her teens and a part time fleet service technician, full time superhero fan fiction writer.  A career whose concept Thaelia didn’t quite understand still.  Eva much like Thaelia was also of divine heritage. Her grandfather was a Shaman and the son of Sedna.  He was the reason Thaelia was here.  “He’s done.”  Though Glamazon had not asked, she suspected that Eva had inherited some power through her divine blood as well.

As the Jeep drove over the hill Kallik Ipellie came into the view rising from the depths of the Koojesse Inlet.  Kallik was an elderly man in his eighties wearing a dark parka.  A hood covered his head where a carved wooden mask concealed his face.  Kallik’s clothing was completely dry, but as he neared them Thaelia could see the burns pressed against the flesh of his right hand.  A tight grip held onto a small green jewel.  “I could not destroy this foul monstrosity, but I managed to contain it.  Princess, I don’t know what you wish to do with it.  But I ask you do it far away.”   

“I apologize for the trouble I have brought.  I had hoped you would be successful. By  restraining  it the danger should have passed, no?”  Thaelia asked hopefully.  To which Kallik gave a dry laugh before reaching out to hand the .

“That darkness craves to consume all it touches.  It’s vengeful and malicious.  The danger is ever present.  What is this thing?”

“Miasma.  A remnant from when the Deep Ones and the Yellow Sign attempted to summon one of their dark gods under the guise of controlling Atlantis to attack the surface.  We have scoured the land for a means to rid the world of this foul taint.”   Thaelia cursed, “I will leave your city henceforth, but I must remain in your lands a bit longer.”

“Why?”  Eva called out curious.  She

“I must cross the gates to the underworld.”  The Inuit pair looked at each other uncomfortably.  Iqaluit had a unique distinction in Canada of being the nearest city to Kreeg, the Atlantean penal colony.  Even at quite a distance away, amongst the local population the Atlantean penal colony was referred to as the underworld.  Though, few had ever ventured inside.  Sorcerers throughout the ages have warned never to cross.


*        *        *

 

Thaelia didn’t understand why her tour guide had chosen to drive her to the edge of Anigumi Lake.  By foot, she could have crossed the distance faster than most surface vehicles.  Still Thaelia accepted Eva’s offer.  And the myriad of questions that came on the multiple day long trip.  As Thaelia exited the Jeep, Eva quickly reached out.  A look of concern on the teenage girl’s face, “Are you going to be okay?”

“A daughter of the seas must never fear what lies beneath it.”  Thaelia stated matter of factly.  Pausing before finally diving into the lake.  Glamazon quickly sped through the water to the gates of Kreeg where two guards quickly came out pointing their spears at her.

“Point your weapons away or I shall remove them for you!”  The Atlantean princess called out.  On the last night of their trip she had changed into her royal armored attire.  A necklace with the insignia designating the house of Atlan floating from her neck.

“Your highness!  Forgive us,” the wide-eyed guard to the left called out.  The guards smacked their fist across their chest.  Saluting to the approaching royal.   

The older guard to the right quickly continued.  “We are honored with your princess, but entrance to the city is ill advised.”  It was about the reaction Thaelia expected.  Kreeg had a mixture of cursed vampiric residents, bioweapons, outcasts, and all manner of Atlantis’ worst traitors and criminals.

Let the girl in. 

A voice rang in all their heads.  Officially the penal colony was the only city-state where no one sat on the throne.  Unofficially however…



The guards hesitated momentarily before ceding to both Thaelia and the mysterious voice’s head.  The streets of Kreeg were filled with dome shaped buildings with orichalcum lined sockets powered by crystals.  The residents, both guard and prisoner alike, occasionally looked over as Thaelia swam by.  But, none actually approached. 

The castle in the center of Kreeg was equally rounded.  Appearing like five interconnected domes with a large tower in the center.  At the top of the tower was a pronged structure holding a floating eye.  The eye of Dagon. Thaelia sucked in water before speeding faster to her destination.  The accursed gaudy castle in the center.

Uninterrupted once she entered the throne room Thaelia coughed.  Every inch of it was adorned with orichalcum.  A golden chamber clearly meant to clear vampirism before it became permanent.  But, to Remora the first vampiric daughter of the Dark Mother and Father.  It was merely boisterous taunt in the face of the visiting royal.  “I am Princess Thalassa of the House of Atlan.  You are the one called the Undying One?  Remora.”

“Princess Thalassa.  Bend a knee and refer to me by my station before declaring your own.  Or does Theseus not educate his daughters properly in etiquette? ”  A pale skinned, red-eyed Atlantean woman sitting on a throne chiseled from skulls smiled.  Her sharp teeth were visible.  She audaciously puffed out her chest before laughing.  Whispers filled the chamber that appeared empty if not for the two women.

“I think not.  Undying one, I come upon thee representing the houses of the royal assembly.  The royal assembly of Atlantis asks a favor most dire of you.”

“The child asks a favor.  Yet she does not bite her tongue.  An amusing morsel to be sure.”  Remora once again roared with laughter twirling her fingers mockingly all the while for Glamazon to continue.

“Miasma from a failed summoning has been uncovered.  Its reach is long, and the corruption unencumbered.  We ask that you aid us in ridding the seas of this dark taint.”  Thaelia lowered her head before the vampiric entity sitting in front of her. 

“The child believes I would go against the will of the Dark Father and Mother.  Presumptuous indeed.”  Remora eyed Thaelia closely before licking her lips.  “Tell me child do you know how you came into this world?”

“I have had relations you old crone; I understand how children are made.”  Thaelia sneered both immaturely and defensively.  It took as much impulse control as she could muster to avoid from swimming over and punching Remora.

“Oh, yes child.  Spin us of tales of lonely bar wenches and strapping guards attempting to live a life of comfort on the throne,” Remora responded bemusedly.  “No princess, I speak of the magicks involved.  Your father came into this world through foolish sacrifice.  A fool loved your mother and paid a heavy toll.  Half the time, his body would be inhabited by your lesser god of a parent.    In the end, it was not only time he lost but love.” 

“I have heard the stories.  It is all hardly relevant.”

“When Poseidon sired this child.  The child inherited more than the ability to lift large rocks.  She inherited a blood more precious.  The divine ichor is one means that can be used to properly seal the miasma.  It cannot be destroyed with such ease but commanded, that is within my ability.  A toll must be paid.  The fair lies from within the child’s body.” 

“If it is my blood you require to prevent disaster then take it.  My body is not my own.  It exists to serve Atlantis and its people.”

“Such a cheeky child.  An agreement has not yet been made.  Arrangements must be equal.  If you wish for my assistance.  Either Kreeg receives a representative in the royal assembly or none shall have hone.”  Remora coyly responded.  Clearly demanding that the city-state had a recognize queen like the other Atlantean colonies.

“Fine…”  Thaelia bit down on her lower lip in agitation.  Immediately the water felt denser and Thaelia felt an oppressive pressure unfamiliar to her, Thaelia’s knees actually managed to abruptly bent.  Soon after she began resisting, the excessive creaking of her bones resounding across the water in the chamber.   Looking up to the roof, Thaelia found the source of the pressure.  She wasn’t sure when Remora had retrieved the miasma orb from her but clearly, she had prepared the ritual from the beginning of this conversation.

 

Thaelia looked around frantically, blood seeping forth from her pores seemed to be the only thing rising with ease.  Desperately thinking of how to survive this encounter, before she heard the Undying One’s voice come out,” Child, if you do not wish to lose your life, the ritual requires more than simply blood.  Your will must take physical form.  Compel the miasma to obey.  Or disappoint me and die.  Frankly, I care not.”

Heeding the vampiric queen’s words Thaelia tried to form some sort of mental image.  Her mind raced with powerful visages.  But nothing seemed to stick as her body trembled under the weight above her.  Stepping forward dark red blood oozed to the floor before congealing into golden streams aggregating around the green orb in the air.

“Oh.  The child’s words are not entirely hollow.”  Whispers filled the empty room as Thaelia began to slowly swim upwards.  The ghastly smell of blood filling the chambers to which Remora once more licked her lips.  When Thaelia reached the orb of miasma, which was now covered in a golden layer, she reached out and grasped it.  The force of which threatened to tear her apart.  “Now form an image.  The most powerful vessel you can think of to contain the living will of this miasma.”

Only one thing came to mind before Thaelia passed out. 


*        *        *


When she awoke two days later, Thaelia was in the bed of a jeep.  Recognizing the surroundings as halfway back to Iqaluit, she turned her gaze upwards.  There Thaelia saw Eva at the wheel and sitting in the passenger seat was a golden trident with an inscription.  The base of which held a ngreen orb.  Eva saw Thaelia stir from the rear-view mirror and called out excitedly. “So…what’d you think of Canada?”  

 

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Muirne felt the cold sweat beginning. She'd turned on the television, and started watching one of the movies that was being played. She'd missed the start, tuning in as the massive, muscular man with a strange-sounding voice fought a giant snake. That was not what bothered her. That came after. Her fear struck as the sorcerer ordered a woman to leap to her death. She felt her panic rise, even as a small part of her protested. It knew this wasn't real, yet that voice was drowned out, and she began to panic. She could feel the transformation coming. She had to get away, to calm down before it took hold. Her hands shook while she pulled on her shoes, the box blaring the sounds of battle against ghosts behind her. She managed to muster the presence of mind to turn off the television before leaving. She'd planned this trip before as a fantasy. But she started to run, her feet taking her across the city. It was early in the morning, and the train had several people on board, some looked at her curiously, others pretended she wasn't there.

 

It took about an hour and a half to complete the trip. After which she ran for another thirty minutes, before arriving at the place she was after. She knew what she'd find, but the empty field struck her heart nonetheless. "Mín húswist... Mín cynn! Oþ déaþsele eac unc Dougal!" She roared her rage to the sky, before collapsing to her knees in the field that once contained her village. She felt the shadow creeping through the connection to what Dee had called the Schattenwelt. Muirne didn't fight it this time, feeling more inclined to wallow in her impotent rage. The wind seemed to whisper of her failure. Taunted her with Dougal’s voice while her sobs began to warp into the inhuman cries of a Shadowbeast. For a few hours she sat there, cursing Dougal with all the words she knew, until her transformation faded and she collapsed fully to the ground, exhausted.

She didn't know how long she lay there, drained both physically and emotionally, the wind continuing to hurl barbs at her in Dougal’s voice, about her failure, about how she could never be a hero, about how no one would ever accept her. She watched as a vixen walked past, her cubs played in the grass next to her. She smiled slightly as they pounced and growled. As she watched them frolic she began to hum gently. It was a simple tune that she’d learnt as a child. The vixen’s ears twitched and she looked over at Muirne, while she began to sing. The wind quieted, and her voice carried over the field. The foxes watched her curiously.

 

She sang and sang, singing of the past, of her home and family, and of her new life. At first she'd been hesitant. She had been surrounded by strangers who spoke a language she hadn't known, barring some half shared words that sounded like a child talking with their mouth full. Who pronounced it "Wolf" anyway? Her lips quirked up at that recollection. And then there were Dee and Erick. She had been so shocked. The men in suits who had been trying to talk to her had brought in some woman with metal studs in their face and a streak of colour through their hair and she had been scandalized at that. And then she spoke, and for the first time since she'd been found she could understand her. After Dee had taken her home she'd once again been mortified as she learned of her relationship with Erick, and the train of culture shock had just kept stopping off. Electricity and plumbing had caught her off guard completely. She'd stabbed her first phone when it had started screaming at her. Yet here she was. Spring had always been the time of new things and rebirth, and she supposed it still held true.

She didn't begrudge the foxes her old home. She had a new one now.

Edited by Kaede Kimura
Typos
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Empty Shell (April 2020)

Synapse

 

Since the recent announcement by Talos various departments within the British government had been closely monitoring the situation in the territory the robotic supercriminal had purchased from the Ukrainian government, including the Ministry of Powers. But despite those troubling developments that had resulted in lots of lost sleep for Dee Farrington, she had received news out of the Welsh Marches that had pulled her away from the Haven and regular meetings with the Ministry.

 

And so the super-genius psychic member of Vanguard found herself walking down a dim corridor on a military installation in Herefordshire. Stirling Lines was the remote headquarters of the 22 Special Air Service Regiment and its supporting units. Given that Herefordshire was one of the most rural and sparsely populated counties in England, the base had been selected as the holding facility for one of the founding members of the original Vanguard.

 

As she followed after the pair of SAS soldiers acting as her escort, Dee’s mind was awash with various emotions. 

 
Dee and her escort reached a door at the end of the hallway, where another pair of SAS soldiers were stationed. The Englishwoman flashed her Ministry of Powers ID and the door was soon opened for her. Dee made her way through the door, leaving the soldiers behind in the hallway, one of whom closed the door behind her.

 

The room beyond the door was small, and brightly lit, but was cold and sterile. It was almost completely empty, save for a pair of metal tables set against the far wall. Two men in military uniforms, one wearing a white apron over his, were standing in the center of the room, but it was the object around which the two men were standing that immediately became the focus of Dee’s attention.

 

At the center of the room was a metal gurney, covered in a white sheet, under which was a form which was vaguely human, only the proportions where completely off.

 

"Ah, Lady Farrington." Stated the older of the two officers in the room. "We have been waiting for you to begin." Dee moved forward to stand closer to the gurney as the older officer nodded to the one in the white apron, who had donned surgical gloves and a mask, giving a nod.

 

The military doctor pulled back the white sheet as he spoke. "Begin recording, subject John Crab, aka Headcase."

 

Beneath the sheet was the grotesque form of a human male with a massive, overly large head and a withered frail body that was far too small. Even without the doctor's announcement of the identity of the corpse, Dee knew him well enough, and the various emotions that had been swirling through her since she had first heard the news focused on one single one, loathing.

 

"So the reports are accurate?" She asked aloud, glancing over at the older military officer. 

“Yes, died quietly in his sleep overnight.” The older man replied with a slightly somber tone.

 

Bloody bastard got off easy. Dee thought to herself as she looked back down at the body of the man that had given her her powers, at a terrible cost.

 

The older officer gave Dee a slightly concerned look as he began to ask, "Lady Farrington, are you certain you wish to be here for.."


"Get on with it." Dee stated simply, cutting the man off as she looked up at the military doctor. The man barely hesitated as he gave a small nod and picked up a scalpel from a small tray beside him.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Meanwhile, in Liverpool, England….

 

Two large trucks were parked next to the ruins of an old warehouse in the industrial part of town. The area around the building had been roped off by police, and a pair of officer kept watch around the perimeter, no one coming close enough to the scene to note the glassy look in the two officer's eyes as they went about their task.

 

Amidst the rubble of the collapsed building were several large men who were busy working at clearing away debris to reveal various high-tech weapons and devices which were buried just underneath. As with the two police officers at the perimeter, all the men had glassy eyes as they methodically went about their work.

 

"Get all of this loaded." Stated a figure standing at the edge of the rubble, a young man in his early twenties. Looking at the high-tech devices being removed from the debris, a small smile came to his face. "Yes, this will do nicely. Soon the new Vanguard will learn what it means to cross Headcase!"

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In Bloom

The Fens (2019-2020)

Red Lynx and Nighthawk

 

It hadn’t taken long after the Royals lost product for word to start circulating that the Fens had a new defender, or at the least one of it’s old defenders had a new sidekick.  Kam spent his nights patrolling the nadir of Freedom with single minded determination.  Drug deals broken up and gang violence interrupted.  It was weeks later when Robin received a call requesting her surreptitious presence in one of the paved over blocks that passed as a park in this part of the city.  When she arrived she found Red Lynx perched in a darkened corner looming over the crumpled form of one of the districts too common would be pimps, and a tearful young latina lobbing occasional epithets his direction in spanish.

 

“Making friends and influencing people again, I see,” Robin strolled up, dressed down and her hands in her pockets. The weak moonlight glinted dully off her prosthetic, where her thin shirt rode up from where her hands were stuffed casually in the threadbare denim of her jeans. Robin didn’t wear her uniform anymore. That had gone in a box, in a shelf in her closet along with the rest of her high school memories. 

 

She tipped her head to the side, her grey eyes taking in the woman’s distress and the snatches of Spanish. 

 

“No pasa nada,” Robin offered soothingly to the young woman. She took a step closer, her body language easy and relaxed until she could put a gentle hand on her shoulder. The flesh and bone one, with her prosthetic still firmly in her pocket. “Indocumentado? Tengo un amigo… “

With a few soothing words, Robin managed to calm the young woman enough that her panic began to slow enough that Robin could reach into her wallet. With the deftness of someone used to making deals on the Fens rough streets, only Kam’s quick eyes caught the exchange of money and a business card. As the young woman bolted, Robin’s grey eyes flicked to the younger vigilante. 

 

“Better the evil you know than the evil you don’t for a lot of folks here,” she offered gently, the words kind. “She doesn’t have anywhere else to go. When you can’t get legit work, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in an abusive situation. Sometimes the easiest part is punching the bad guy...”

Now that the girl was gone, Robin pulled her other hand out of her pocket, her posture relaxing fully and she gently clapped the Lynx’s shoulder with empathy rather than anything like pity or condescension. “She’ll have a place to stay for a little bit but you’ll probably see her out here again. That’s not a failure on your part; it’s the system that’s broken.”

 

The Masked Figure relaxed slightly as Robin approached trying to offer some explanation but Robin clearly had it in hand on approach, as he knew she would which was why he’d called.  “Thank you.”  he finally offered as the women took her leave and he let out a heavy sigh.  He looked back to Robin at the explanation and grimaced beneath the mask, “Then someone should fix it.”  He declared firmly, “Where did you send her?”  he asked filing the information away for his next encounter as he added language study to his already busy schedule.  The organization would see an uptick in anonymous donations in the near future as well.

 

***

 

Time crept forward, Kam spending more nights in the fens than not.  Sometimes he’d find Robin on patrol or stakeout, others he’d call in her aid on a sticky situation.  Word traveled fast in the Fens, the Nighthawk had a partner, again.  Rumors Robin was likely not happy to hear regardless of the good done and aid rendered.  

 

The winter chill was thick when Nighthawk got the tip, arms dealers moving a big shipment into the Fens.  Unloading product on the cheap.  They were well organized and well armed, and looking to get the goods out fast.  No time for a police case, the warehouse too well defended to risk a solo raid, Fred was on a flight to Florida of all places.  So she made the call on the comms channel he’d passed her that first night.  

 

He was waiting on her roof as dusk settled falling seamlessly into following her lead on the approach. Stealthily take out the guards on the perimeter then move in on the main storehouse.  Leadership would be there, they did this right they could take out the whole organization.  And it went like clockwork.  The duo came in loud through the skylight when the time came, shock and awe.  Between the two of them the mafia soldiers hadn’t a chance.  Half of them were dropped in the initial burst of violence.  Red Lynx stuck to the shadows emerging to strike then vanish again before they could get a fix on him.  

 

Her tip hadn’t said anything about a decommissioned soviet super soldier being in charge however.  He shrugged off the flurry of attacks from Red Lynx and smirked down at the young hero with a scolding tisk.  The bear of a man unleashed a punishing gut shot staggering the Dakanan then grasped him by the neck to slam him into an I-beam overhead and tossing the unconscious teen aside like a rag doll to slump in a corner of the warehouse.

 

Kam came to just as gentle fingers tugged his mask off. Behind Robin’s crouched form, the super soldier slumped in a bloody heap. Her grey eyes were lined with concern and then surprise. There was no flash of recognition. She had no idea who Kam was but her gaze took in his youthful features and that concern turned into a frown. 

 

“Aw, hell, you’re just a kid,” Robin said with clear worry. He wasn’t so very much younger than Robin, two years or perhaps a little less, but young enough that she marked him as the teenager that he was. Her brow creased with irritation. “!@#ing Claremont. You alright there? Want me to call someone?”

 

Her fingers coiled around his biceps; her strength restrained enough to ensure that her handling was gentle as she helped him up. 

 

Kams eyes slit open and to his credit he didn’t start as he came too.  He remained still for a long moment taking in his surroundings and cataloguing his injuries before finally spoke, “Eighteen in the spring.”  he corrected with good humor.  “I take it then that you were victorious?”  he inquired with a fond smile as she helped him to his feet, without the mask he was really quite expressive, the stoic act was clearly not a natural fit though it did serve its purpose.  He ran a hand down his side and slowly turned his head focusing his eyes on a distant spot.  “Cracked rib, minor concussion, greater injury to my pride.”  he offered in reply to her question.  

 

“This is my choice nothing to do with the school nor it’s dubious reverse psychology in restricting extracurriculars.”  He corrected a bit more firmly, “Or I suppose the answer is supposed to be something about this being my bad boy rebellion and avoidance of the watchful gaze of the headmistress.”  he shrugged with a half smile at his own ironic jest.  

 

He however was clearly not surprised she knew of the school, so he probably knew she had been a student there.  He also watched as she digested this information and allowed it to percolate before offering assurance, “I am not here at the headmistress behest to follow you or your friends post graduation activities.”  He winced as he flexed the sore side and bit his lip slightly, “We should likely make our egress before the authorities arrive to clean up the mess.”  he suggested and glanced at her as he offered an explanation of how he knew her as a former student, “I saw you when you visited, paperwork I assume, the admin building.”  he explained rattling off the date still a bit too rung out by the recent visit to dream land to hold back on filling in the details from memory.

 

Robin chuckled, “Relax. I’m in the yearbook and everything. Summers has better things to do than spy on me. Let’s get you home.”

 

***


Robin perched on the crumbling roofline of one of the Fens more run down buildings, her expression contemplative as she surveyed the dimly lit city streets. Her leather jacket was discarded and the tanktop hid none of her prosthetics this far away from prying eyes. Kam had picked up long ago that she hid the smooth metal of her arm from people’s eyes for their comfort, not her own.

 

When Kam settled on the rooftop next to her, she sent the teen a small smile. 

 

“It’s the anniversary today,” she explained with a nod towards her arm. “I had to get out. Fred’s sorrow and guilt… It’s easier if I’m not there as a reminder, I think. I hope.”

 

She chafed the chilled metal with her other hand absently before lacing her fingers loosely in her lap. “Have anyone that you’re hunting tonight, Lynx?”

 

Kam slid his helmet and mask off as he came to rest at Robin's side.  No longer hiding his identity from here he saw no reason to hide the subtleties of expression the mask concealed.  He knew better than to ask about it, clearly it was not an event she wanted to share and he did not think he was the one to push on that even if perhaps she should.


“She most likely takes it as a rejection and blame.”  he stated openly.  One of many things he enjoyed about Robin's company is that he did not need to disguise his frank assessment of people's motivations.  “She feels guilt and will justify it with or without your presence and regardless of any objective truth or your feelings.”

 

He had, somewhat invasively in hindsight, researched the circumstance around her arm.  Medical records told but part of the story but enough.  The specifics were less important than her reactions and requests.  “I know they could have sleeved the arm in sythskin.”  he pointed out delicately knowing she’d soundly refused the suggestion at the time.  “Whatever your intentions to those outside your mind it is a constant reminder of what happened and how.”  He paused for a moment and added carefully.  “Something to consider, I do not know Fred, but I know that is not your intention, perhaps they do not.”

 

He dropped from his haunches to a more lazy sprawl along the roofline to let her consider his words. After a moment's respite shook his head slightly.  “I do not.”  he admitted he was here for her not the unending task of cleaning up the fens.  “But I will find one if you desire the distraction.”  he glanced to the arm then back to her with a sad frown.  

 

The young prince sat up and met her eyes, “I have an alternative offer however.”  he stated boldly.  “Dinner.  And in that a reason for you to be out that doesn’t look like avoidance.”  he smiled slightly and tilted his head nervously, “Though I admit my intentions are not entirely selfless.”  he was not going to pretend as convenient as it might have been this wasn’t a date he was suggesting.

 

“Synthskin isn’t as strong. I don’t have the resources that Claremont does and I don’t like owing people,” Robin replied, avoiding the more emotionally fraught parts of the conversation. She considered the offer and for a moment, Kam thought she’d refuse.

“There’s a Chinese place around the block. One of my favorites. I’ll give you a few minutes to change and meet you there,” Before Kam could comment, or before Robin could change her mind, she dropped from the four story roof without another word.

 

Kam opened his mouth to reply but was cut off by her exit and he smiled softly to himself.  If she wasn’t ready yet to share her reasons so be it, they would instead share a meal.  To his mind that was a very good start.  He dropped in the alley soundlessly and once sure it was clear quickly retrieved his civilian clothes and changed tucking the costume carefully into his backpack before slinging it over a shoulder and following around the corner to the restaurant she’d suggested.  If he played his cards right she might even let him pay, despite not liking to owe people.

 

***


It was a slow burn, but Kam was both patient and persistent.  Occasional deviations from crime fighting for meals, eventually a movie not under guise of surveillance, progress was made.  By the time April rolled around he was comfortable with a slightly bigger ask.  Prom.

 

Thus he arrived at the appointed hour, the limo drawing some looks from passersby in the Fens was to be expected.  It was however unlikely to be associated with the private investigation firm with offices in the building perhaps a developer, or an extravagance for a local that hit a big score.  He strode confidently to thumb the buzzer and announce his arrival and all that was left was the waiting.

 

And wait he did. It took Robin not very much time to dress, but it took her far longer to go downstairs and open the door. Jumping in front of bullets? No problem. Putting herself out there emotionally, though, that was far harder. 

 

Finally, Robin opened the door herself, looking just a little uncomfortable. The dress was a simple one, a soft dove grey that made her eyes seem even more brilliant. It fastened high around her throat but left her back and arms bare. The skirt draped down to her ankles but was flowy enough that Robin didn’t feel she’d be at a disadvantage in a fight. It was Claremont after all. She’d even weathered the salon to have her curls woven into box braids threaded with silver. Robin didn’t wear any jewelry - she didn’t even own any - but the silver of her prosthetic glittered under the light. 

“Uhm, so…” Robin asked, spreading her hands in front of her skirt. “This okay?”

 

Kam grew increasingly nervous and had to work through a few breathing exercises as he waited to keep from fidgeting or pressing the buzzer again.  He knew she was here and she’d come down when ready.  When the door opened a smile bloomed on his face unbidden.  He met her eyes and replied, “It’s perfect.”
 

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