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The Theater District
Freedom City, New Jersey.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
7:00 PM

 

 

The theater district was adorned with flyers, streamers, and balloons all in varying shades of green, white, and orange.  There were carts full of vendors using the opportunity to sell their wares while relying on the theme.  Tattoo artists giving temporary sidewalk tattoos.  As the largest concentration of Freedom City's Irish community actually lived in the West End, it was clear that the celebration was mostly an excuse for young, rowdy, New Jerseyites to have a party.

Floats advertising not only local artists and plays, but the handful of corporate organizers involved in sponsoring the event were making their way through the streets.  The leader of the pack being of course Shaughnessey’s float.  The local brew-pub had organized the parade.  Partly as a 30th anniversary celebration of sorts.  And mostly to drum up business.  They had even gotten Jimmy Kirkpatrick, a municipal court judge to both speak at the opening and ride on the lead float.

The age of the parade crowd ranged from late teens to early 30s, but most wouldn't have been able to pick Judge Kirkpatrick out of lineup unless they had one too many unpaid parking ticket.  But, those who kept up with local politics knew that Judge Kirkpatrick was up for re-election.  He was a portly man in his 40s with a tough on crime attitude that would make Gerald R. Baker proud.  It was tough to say whether it was genetics or the stress of the job had begun taking its toll, but Judge Kirkpatrick's hairline had visibly begun receding.

Though it was clear the crowd was mostly here for the second-most float from the  front.  The local band, Whipping Dave.  With front-man Dave Tennet and the rest of the group standing on top of a giant leprechaun shaped float.  The band wearing green, blaring their instruments was audibly getting more of a reaction than the pub sponsored judge.

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Gauss stood on the marque of one of the theaters along the parade route, showing some holiday spirit with a pair of green shamrock earrings but otherwise in her standard grey and purple costume and wrapped in a cowl-necked white cape.  She was not above admitting to being here mostly for, essentially, a free Whipping Dave concert.  Largely the crowd had been well behaved, for a large gathering of New Jersyans with near unrestricted access to Guiness, Jameson, and more domestic beer dyed green anyway.  It had been simple enough to keep the already inebriated from wandering into the parade route and stop the occasional pick-pocket without having to leave her perch.

 

Letting her cape billow in the breeze she looked as stoic as she could on the rooftop, she was not here to distract from the official guests of the parade if she could help it.  An task she was having difficulty doing given how much she was enjoying the music.

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Tabitha Hannigan was not exactly part of this type of scene.  Her musical tastes being more at a home with a rave.  The teenager's metallic skin reflected a variety of lights as people's phones were held up.  Either to record Whipping Dave or with apps pretending to be lighters.  The Claremont student had only wandered to the theater district after classes came to an end because Tabitha thought she could blend in the crowd.  But, there was still a reason why her brother had begun calling her The Spectacle.

Some fifty yards out a quartet of unarmored vans began speeding down the street.  Which wouldn't be worth noting.  If not for the fact that the street had been closed off to outside traffic due to the parade.  Not to mention the all too important fact.  They were driving down the wrong way of a one way.  Directly towards the front of the float.

"Oi!"  Dave Tennet shouted while pointing forward at the oncoming traffic.  The band suddenly stopped playing not that they could matched the rowdy and vocal crowd who had begun shouting.  An odd mixture of concerned gasps, screams, and a whole lot of liquor filled obscenities as the scene quickly erupted into chaos..

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Gauss muttered slightly to herself, "Every year somebody has to screw with the parade.  This is, admittedly, bolder than most."

 

Taking off from her perch she sized up the vehicles as the raced down the road.  Raising her hands, purple light beginning to emanate from them and her left eye.  In a blink of an eye, she had a lock on the engines of three of the vehicles.  With an effort of will, she ripped the blocks out from under the hood, stopping the vans in seconds.  "Crap, that last driver's good," she muttered as the van moved erratically, keeping her from getting a solid grip on the van.

 

With another effort of will, Gauss began lining up the engines she did have in her mental grasp to throw at the last van.

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Like much of the crowd Tabitha's head turned to see the oncoming vans.  Normally, the fact that one of the nearby adults accidentally spilled his alcohol all over her in that moment would draw the girl's ire.  But, it barely even registered as the vehicles began to dismantle in front of her.  All save for one errant driver who erratically sped around.  Possibly evading whatever attacked the other vans.

Tabitha wasn't Tremayne.  She wasn't excited at the prospect of dressing up in flashy costumes and beating up bad guys.  But, muscle memory kicked in.  All those exercise drills with the Orange Squad last year were driven in to her body.  There was also the fact that The Spectacle wasn't so callous as to actually ignore people in need in front of her.  So before she could even weigh her options, the sound of the Spectacle's heavy footsteps were carried through the air.

She had seen pictures of the Human Tank stopping vehicles with his bare hands before.   It didn't look that hard.  Squaring her body the Spectacle stretched her arms out waveringly.  Ready to try and push back against the oncoming vehicle.

"With all due respect you need to st-"  The warning was quickly put to a stop as the vehicle slammed against her.  The sound of the tires squealing drowned out the screaming voices of the four burly looking men inside the van as they struggle to budge against the resisting weight.  Cracks forming on the dashboard in the moment of impact.  It only took a moment, but it became readily apparent that squaring your upper-body instead of your feet against a moving object was about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

Tabitha wasn't quite sent flying.  Asphalt was upturned as the momentum pushed her backwards.  Up until the Spectacle fell flat on her rear.  Tripping over the sudden motion.  Staring up at the skyline Tabitha could only find four words to utter.  "I hate the city."

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Just before the airborne teen could fire her freshly acquired 'internal combustion projectiles' at the remaining van, she saw a girl not much younger than herself charge through the crowd and before the oncoming vehicle.

 

For a brief second she grimaced at the sounds of impact and the way the grill, bumper, and hood caved in around her before the van proceeded to plow over her.  Catching a better view of her metal skin, Gauss could easily tell how her impromptu ally was covered entirely in magnetic metal, if not made of the stuff.  Acting quickly, the magnetokinetic girl shifted plans.  'Not how I normally like to pick up girls but there's a first time for everything'

 

By the time Tabitha was muttering to herself, Gauss had dropped the engines and suddenly she felt herself being pulled through the air, neatly avoiding being dragged further along the street.  "Bravely done Citizen," she said with a smile, "The Human Tank himself would be proud of that.  How do you feel about a second shot at that?"

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GM

 

Smoke billowed out from the three disabled vehicles.  A violent grinding as the drivers furiously slammed their feet against the pedal.  Before suddenly and without warning four van doors swung open from one of the vehicles in the rear.  What filed out wasn't a group of soldiers or even intimidating looking thugs.  It was four young men in basketball jerseys holding assault rifles.  Each with the greek letters Kappa Epsilon Gamma.

"Bro!  That's not cool" the driver that filed out shouted before popping out from behind the door to shoot at Gauss who redirected the metallic bullets down into the asphalt beneath her feet.  The frat bro with a gun on the passenger side popped out to shoot at the  Spectacle.  Unfortunately for them their line of sight was quickly obscured as the still working van pulled back and attempted to slam right into the girl of metal.  Barely budging her and slightly bending the bumper in the process.

The remaining two members of this frat pack began running in opposite directions from the vehicle.  Taking potshots at the young women.  And missing wildly in their erratic panic.   Though none of the bullets threatened to reach the nearby crowds that had begun dispersing.  Harmlessly being magnetically slowed to a stop as they whizzed by.

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Tabitha looked at the girl who had picked her up as she pulled herself unbothered from the vehicle attempting to attach itself to her.  Although the compliment was nice.  She doubted the Human Tank would've had anywhere near as embarrassing a showing.  "Thank you kindly.  I reckon I still owe them a little more southern hospitality."

 

Luckily these boys couldn't find their rears if you placed their hands on the back of their jeans.  Giving the van a death glare, she actually pulled herself up over the hood and slowly crouched drown.  Pulling her arm back the Claremont teenager would wind her fist up before swinging. The full force of the Spectacle's fist slammed against the glass unencumbered.  A fist shaped hole was all that remained as Tabitha slammed her fist against the man.  The driver's head bounced backwards against the seat before he crumbled forward on the steering wheel. 

What followed was the loud and annoying constant blaring of the van's horn.

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