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Dutemps Building, Château de Martel
Early Afternoon, Around Lunchtime

 

Eve leaned back in her office chair and sighed, rubbing her eyes and fighting off an encroaching headache.  She needed something to eat, and to see the other ladies of the Castle.  She gave herself a gentle mental chiding, reflecting that it was so typical of her to jump straight into to tackling the pile of paperwork tied to the company, the tower and the city projects she had instead of taking some time to reconnect with her friends.

 

"Yeah," she said out loud, padding off toward the kitchen, "Food."

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"Mmrrooow?" A brassy trill greeted Eve as she stepped out into the hallway. Avro, Kimber's pet manticore, had been growing slowly but steadily in the time he'd been living in the castle and had reached roughly the size of an adult Jack Russel terrier, which had had the effect of making his segmented scorpion-like tail considerably more off-putting. He still acted like a young house cat in spite of his developing armament and happily trotted over to rub against the lady of the château's shins, weaving around her ankles. In their relaxed state his quills were soft against her, something like an evergreen tree. His little simian face looked up at her questioningly, as if to confirm how rarely she found time to actually walk the halls of her castle.

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Meanwhile, elsewhere 

 

The waters of the unchlorinated pool were not as deep or as wide as the chlorinated one on the other side of the big room, but Aquaria far preferred them. She crouched in the shallow end and sang a little song, basking in the comfort of water on her skin and the sounds echoing off the walls. Then she opened them and laughed as she heard a familiar splashing. "Look at you, Baxter!" she croaked as the dog trotted down the small ramp into the water nearby. "Good dog!" Baxter carried the blood of many animals of his type, she knew, one of which had been bred to hunt game in water. Aquaria had never actually tried that, but Baxter was happy to be in the water. "Have some meat!" From inside her harness she produced a liver treat the dog always iked. 

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Ms Grue

Daphne was having one of those good days, both her human job and League commitments meant she could work from home. A fruitful morning had provided enough completed work that she could relax and enjoy herself a little. She was padding through the hall on her way to the pool, floating in the water reminded her zero-G, when she came upon Eve.

 

“It doesn’t take an empath to tell you’re a bundle of stress!” she smiled sweetly

 

She approached Avro so as to not surprise him and gave the little manticore a skritch behind the ear.

 

“I was going to the pool, maybe you should come with and get a relaxing sauna?”

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Crimson Tiger

 

Mali was in the middle of finishing a drink, with a towel over her shoulders and a pair of sandals. "I'm heading to the pool myself in a moment." She shrugged.  She was already in her bathing suit. "I need to relax a bit, been working too hard. I can't risk straining anything.  A relaxing soak should help." 

 

She motioned to Daphne. "Shall we?"

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Eve flashed Daphne a quick grin as she knelt to give Avro some attention.

 

"I really shouldn't, I have so much work to do," she said though it wasn't very convincing.  Her warring desire between getting caught up on paperwork and getting caught up with her friends gave way to relaxing in the pool once Mali wandered by.

 

"Sure," she said after a moment.  "Let me get my suit."

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At the bottom of the swimming pool Jessie sat crosslegged, her eyes closed and her lap full of diving weights. It was very peaceful there, warm and buoyant, with noises of Baxter and Aquaria far away but still audible from the other side of the pool. She'd been down there for a little while already but was still okay; she could hold her breath for a very long time when she wasn't doing anything to use up the oxygen in her blood. The weights just kept her from popping back to the surface like a cork. When she was little she'd liked doing this but hadn't been nearly as good at it, plus it had made her parents pretty nervous. Erin remembered that too, but ever since Typhoon had smashed her to the bottom of the ocean and broken a bunch of her bones doing it, being underwater didn't make Erin feel too good anymore. Jessie still liked it, though. 

 

Above, Baxter gulped down the treat happily, his tail a wet flag waving on the surface of the water. He loved the swimming pool, and especially loved the foam balls that Jessie kept for him to chase across the water. When they got home, Baxter would need a thorough drying so that the house did not smell like wet dog, a scent Jessie found objectionable, but for now he was pleased to be wet and play with his Deep One friend. 

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Tarva

 

"ALL BEINGS MUST SUFFER TO BE MADE PURE! ALL BEINGS MUST SUFFER TO BE MADE PURE! ALL BEINGS MUST SUFFER TO BE MADE PURE!

 

With a sigh, Tarva dismissed the Chorus of Shadows and the forest of chanting faces around her kneeling form disappeared into the eldritch sigil at her feet. While their chants could be soothing, elementary spiritual truisms were not what she had in mind today. She pulled on a translucent black robe, the short one that wrapped around her knees, and slipped her feet into black slippers adorned with the blood-colored leaf that was the symbol of Kimber's homeland, and walked out of the small room attached to the space she occasionally shared with Kimber. 

 

She hmmed, looking down thoughtfully at her feet. The flag reminded her that there was someone else of Kimber's nation nearby, one whom she should speak to at the soonest opportunity. While she had spoken only at times to the Wendigo, Aquaria reported that Becky was not merely a friend but one who could be trusted to be reliable, having secured her pledge to eat her flesh if she should die upon the Surface. One who could do such a service...well, if the luck of darkness was with her, perhaps she would have a chance to have that conversation soon. 

 

As it was, she went to find Kimber, having a pretty good idea where she might find her boon... 

 

 

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As expected she found the poltergeist floating horizontally several feet above one of the long couches in the largest of the castle's common areas, a massive tome and a several loose sheets of paper levitating about her. Kimber's translucent cerulean hair was done up in a messy bun held in place with a pencil, technically an affectation but one she insisted helped to put her in the right mindset for research. She'd manifested an azure and teal plaid flannel buttoned only to the base of her sternum and tucked into high waisted blue denim jeans.

 

"Well you could skip this whole step if you don't have skin to melt off," she mused aloud to herself, the page of tome turning and a pen jotting down notes as she controlled them telekinetically. She seemed to sense Tarva's arrival before seeing or hearing her and swooped down with a sunny grin and a little midair twirl. "Look who decided to get up and join the unliving!" she teased brightly, floating in front of the taller woman as if supported in a bridal carry and leaning in for a long, not-entirely chaste kiss. "Mm, have I mentioned I love that robe on you, liquorice whip? Very nice."

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"Hello!" Aquaria boomed exuberantly when her friends arrived at poolside, dripping wet in her leather harness. "Jessie is down there," she added, pointing to the deep end, where Singularity's submerged but otherwise content form could be seen. The Deep One herself was crouched down alongside her and Jessie'd dog, toweling him down with intensity. The smell of wet dog was no more irksome than any other scent produced by mammals in her experience, and they indeed produced a great many scents, but she knew how to be polite. "Baxter has been swimming with us. He is a good dog." The dog gave a greeting bark to welcome the new arrivals, human friends and otherwise of long acquaintance, loud enough to let his regular human know that someone had arrived. The one who wasn't a human never needed such warnings. 

 

-

 

"Yet you also encourage me to remove it. Curious." Tarva smiled at Kimber, returning her kiss with a cold fire that was uniquely hers. "Come," she said, "let me take you from your books somewhere more pleasant." She actually dropped her robe at those words, revealing an equally short outfit that managed to resemble a late 19th century lapeled ladies bathing suit while clinging as tightly as only shadow stuff could. "All darkness says it is a pool party day." 

 

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It was at that moment that Eve was padding by in her own two-piece, halting when the robe pooled around Tarva's feet.  Her sage green eyes glanced down ever so briefly, before she quirked a snow white eyebrow in the direction of her companions.  She chuckled to herself, gave her head a little shake, and flashed Kimber and Tarva a faint smile before continuing her trek to the pool.

 

"Tarva's right," she called over her shoulder in her French accented english, "It's a pool party day.  So suit up, Kimber."

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"Oh captain, my captain!" Kimber snapped upright from her horizontal lounge and gave Eve a sharp salute. Her outline lost focus for a split second as though seen at the very edge of peripheral vision and her outfit was replaced by what might be described as a sailor's uniform in the same way a fashionable clutch might be described as luggage. Ruffles giving the faintest suggestion of a skirt sat on either hip of the bottoms while the striped top came together in a navy blue bow in front. A jaunty little hat sat atop her suddenly much tidier bun while she floated back down to hover just barely off of the floor to link arms with Tarva. "Allons-y!"

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Mali, seeing as how her friends would also be joining her, gave a wave to the rest of them before she threw her towel over her shoulder and walked towards the pool.  She certainly didn't mind the company.  There were several ways to relax, and one involved fun with friends. 

 

"Meet you guys at the pool." She said, vanishing out of sight. 

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As the group around the pool got bigger, Aquaria let Baxter go to his usual spot, perched by the water and peering down at the spot where Jessie was still meditating. "Hello, friends!" she called cheerfully. "It is a pool party day!"  She hopped around on the floor by the pool, glorious in her dampness, and called aloud "Bluebird, play us a song for a pool party!" That got them two things; the cheerfully-blasting music of the Aquabats and Bluebird herself, manifest in a blue, low-cut battle harness suitable for aquatic campaigns. Aquaria had initially been uneasy around the seemingly-soulless machine, but there were plenty of strange things around here that had turned out to be friends. 

 

"Greetings, sisters of battle!" she declared, looking well-pleased with the growing social gathering. 

 

For her part, Tarva promptly settled down by poolside beneath the shelter of a large umbrella. She had obviously placed it there deliberately, putting herself in the sun streaming in from the nearby full-length windows and then found shade inside it, but such was her way. She exchanged her usual look with the Furion machine intelligence, then smiled at the sight of Eve. "My lady!" she called with a wave, inviting Eve to join her under the shelter of her umbrella. It was a very big space, with room for three. "I would speak with you," she said, tapping the side of her head. 

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Ms Grue

On the way to the pool Daphne shifted her clothes, those she’d had since she’d came out of the birthing pod, into a natty silver one piece with a cut-out of the three pointed star that was her symbol. She was in her human form, one she’d be refining over the last few years. So use was she to taking human form, even among her friends her Grue form made some of them nervous, she tended to adopt it even without trying.

 

Though she’d originally wanted to use the sauna Daphne always enjoyed the pool, it reminded her of floating in zero-G. So she climbed into the pool and began to float under the water, subtly controlling her buoyancy to keep in place. She could keep like this as long as she wished, and as a telepath she could still keep up with everything going on around the pool.

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The white-haired telepath gave the pool a considering look before turning toward Tarva and her umbrella and joining the shadow witch in the shade.  Eve liked Tarva, though she'd long given up on trying to bridge the distance and formality that existed in their relationship.  It use to frustrate the Frenchwoman a lot in the past, but she'd made her peace with it, and now she was simply glad for both her and Kimber.

 

Settling down, Eve tucked her legs under herself and gave Tarva a faint smile before looking back out across the pool and her friends.  --What can I help you with?-- she thought.

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--Excellent,-- came Tarva's thoughts, as black and rich as the darkest chocolates of Europe. --I wanted to ask you about your relationship with Becky,-- she went on, an image of the wendigo as Tarva saw her briefly popping into her head. She turned to Eve, gesturing with one hand as if she was speaking out loud. --Is everything well?-- she asked with a tone of genuine interest. --Are you confident with each other?--

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Ms Grue

Daphne happily floated down in the water, enjoying the floating sensation. As she did her mind wandered taking in the sensations of the others, she’d never lik Tarva’s mind it always felt icky to her so she choose not to ease drop on the conversation, even if she was really curious. Instead she decided to float down to check on Jesse at the bottom of the pool.

 

Hi are you okay down here? She projected cheerfully but softly to Jesse’s brain I’ll admit I don’t know everyone's powers, do you have water breathing or increased endurance?

 

Thinking she added carefully

 

You can just think and I’ll pick it up, if you can’t speak underwater.

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--Of course,-- Eve mentally replied.  Now that Eve was largely retired, focusing more on philanthropic work instead of the hero life (though she would still jaunt out on occasion to keep her mind and skills sharp), she had been spending a lot more time up in Ottawa where True North was headquartered since her wife was still a member of the Canadian superteam.

 

She cocked her head to the side to regard the shadow witch, and quirked an eyebrow in question.  --Why do you ask?--

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Jessie had been sitting at the bottom of the pool with her eyes closed, strands of her short blonde hair floating like seaweed in the currents from other swimmers. Her mind was peaceful and meditative, easy for Daphne to slip into without a moment's work. The first intrusion of her mental voice, however, changed everything. Panic response lit Jessie's mind like an alarm klaxon, wordlessly shrieking at the invasion. Her eyes flew open and she sucked in a huge involuntary gulp of water, choked on it, then shot to the surface with one powerful leg kick that was enough to propel her out of the water and onto the pool's tiled apron. She coughed up the water, her eyes streaming even as she looked around for the threat. Baxter trotted over and licked her cheek, but she did at least have the presence of mind not to take a reflexive swing at him. "What?" she coughed. 

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Kimber had been floating a few centimetres above the surface of the pool in a reclined position and keeping half an eye on Avro as he tried to slowly, stealthily creep up on Baxter. As soon as Jessie burst out of the water she hurried over to her, keeping a little less than an arm length's alway and pointedly waiting for a sign that it would be acceptable to touch the startled woman. "Most folks dive into the pool, eh? That was a heckuva jump! Everything alright, hun?" She'd always gone out of her way not to pry too much into Jessie's past but like most of the castle's residents she had plenty of experience recognizing triggered trauma by now and there was a sort of unspoken agreement that the one who could be incorporeal should be the first to check on her in such a situation.

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Aquaria saw Jessie leap out of the water and settled back onto her haunches, watching her friend with concern but knowing there were times when Jessie preferred to let her keep her distance. She knew the difference between a real panic attack (a word she had learned from the therapy sessions she and Jessie had shared back in Project Freedom, something that seemed at times a lifetime ago) and moments when Jessie was just feeling jumpy. She was fairly sure that she'd been assigned as Jessie's roomate back in those days because she had been the nimblest and the quickest of the other Project Freedom members there at the time. A Surfacer might have objected to that sort of calculation, but to Aquaria's mind it had been a thoroughly sensible measure. 

 

Tarva too eyed the display, but when Jessie seemed like she wasn't going to be demonstrative in other ways, Tarva asked Eve. -How do you keep things so...confident, over time?-  

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Ms Grue

Mortified Daphne floated out of the pool a mix of embarrassment and concern on her face. She’d faced some negative reaction to her species and powers before, but it still stung when she caused someone anything resembling mental anguish. Daphne was an empath and she couldn’t help but feel the strong emotions of everyone around her.

 

I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to surprise you like that.” she was most definitely using her speaking voice

 

It was concerning how her powers had been increasing over the last few years, especially as she was floating only a half meter from the ceiling of the room supporting herself telekinetically without even thinking about it.

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"'s okay," Jessie assured her Daphne, only wheezing a little as she waved Kimber off. "You just startled me. I drank a little bit of the pool." She coughed a couple more times before settling down and putting one arm around Baxter. He smelled uniquely terrible, like wet dog and fish, but he was a warm and comforting weight as he settled down half-across her lap. "You should try it out," she suggested. "Swimming I mean, not drinking. It's nice and warm." Her cheeks were flushed pink, either with embarrassment or from coughing, but she kept her head down as she concentrated on petting the dog. Baxter, for his part, was in full therapy dog mode, sparing Avro no more than a glance from where he was sprawled over his person. 

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