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New Home, New Life

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Date: May 22nd, 2009

Adia awoke to the sound of the alarm coming from her COMPACT (Computer-Optimized Multi-Protection and Communication Tech). Staring out the window, she didn't have to look at the time to know it was around five in the morning. Adia convinced herself to get up despite wanting to stay under the silk blanket and lying on her soft fluffy bed which made her feel like she were floating on water. It was not that her bed was so comfortable (she was already used to such luxuries) but because she had such a wonderful dream.

She dreamt of happier times with her father and hoped that she would dream the same dream if she went back to sleep. However, she knew it was unlikely for her to have the same dream twice. She arched her back, stretched her arms and curled her legs then slowly sat up.

"New city, new home, new life,"she thought to herself.

She got up making her blanket which was wrapped around her slide to the floor. Simultaneously, she loosened her silk and lace pale red nightgown letting it flow almost like water down her slender figure. Adia then walked to the bathroom to take a shower.

After Adia completed her morning rituals, she stepped out of the bedroom wearing a black low-cut blouse, slacks that showed the curves of her lower back, hips and thighs, a pair of black high-heeled toe-less shoes and minimal jewelry. She made her way to the leather recliner that was there and sat down. In front of her was an empty desk that protruded from the floor. Beside her was a side table with tea and toast prepared for her. Sipping her Tieguanyin tea, she placed her COMPACT in front of her, screen facing up. She presses a button then her COMPACT projects a holographic image of a screen and a keyboard. As if typing on air, she composed and sent a few e-mails, and finalized some documents. Just as she finished, there was a buzz from the intercom.

"Good morning, Ms. Angara, I hope you are having a splendid morning," said the voice.

"This is Captain Villamor. We would like to inform you that we will be landing at Trainor Airport, Freedom City shortly and request that you prepare for the descent. The local time is 6:57 in the morning. The outside temperature is..." The captain continued on while Adia stopped listening.

Shortly, a female flight attendant entered the cabin and moved the side table away and exited the cabin.

"It's about time," she tells herself.

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The plane landed with no trouble. Adia disembarked her customized G4 jet and walked towards the limousine waiting for her there.

"Good morning, ma'm. Did you have a pleasant flight, ma'm?" asked Adia's driver as he opens the door for her.

Entering the limo, she replies "It was fine. And,manong, do please be quick," in a haughty tone.

Manong, a man in his late forties wearing a barong tagalog, quietly closed the door and hurriedly assisted in placing her bags in the trunk. Manong is Adia's all-around chaperone. Mostly he drives and runs errands for Adia. Though he occasionally does menial tasks, he doesn't mind. He is well compensated for his troubles. He also reveres Adia so he is inspired to always do his best.

Inside the limousine, Adia holds up her COMPACT and dials her uncle's number. After a few rings, he picks-up and a live feed of Mr. Vinbar appears on the COMPACT's screen.

"Hello, Adia! Good morning! How was your flight?" greets Mr. Vinbar, his cheerful expression visible in the video. "I suppose you've landed at Freedom City by now,"

"Good evening, tito! I had a pleasant flight. On the way here I read up on some books and articles on the city and found some information quite tragic. I'm glad there are some parts of Freedom are untouched by...Tito, you look like you just came from a meeting, don't we hold meetings in the mornings? Is there something I should know?" Adia asks, noticing the shuffling of figures and shadows behind her uncle that tells her he just came out of a board room.

"Oh, don't worry about it, dear. There was another transport rally and traffic was so terrible nobody made it in time for today's meeting. We couldn't postpone the meeting to another date so we held it at night instead," Mr. Vinbar answers. His voice cool and relaxed as always.

"But it doesn't look like you're in the office, Tito"

"I AM in the office, dear. We had to hold the meeting at the 3rd floor board room," Mr. Vinbar assures her. "We had maintenance repair the lights 56th floor. Apparently there was some faulty wiring or something. Hmmm. Come to think of it, I don't remember you ever visiting the 3rd floor."

"Why wasn't I informed about the 56th floor? We're Lawin Tech for heaven's sake! Things like faulty wiring shouldn't happen in our building!" Adia says, raising her voice but not in anger. She rarely raised her voice in the presence of her uncle and she could never directly get mad at him.

"I didn't feel there was a need to inform you about such trivial matter. The one responsible for the oversight has already been relieved and everything is back in order. Forget about it dear," he replies, smiling. "Enough of that...I mean, look at you! You're dressed as if you're about to buy a company." Mr. Vinbar chuckles.

Adia rarely wore casual clothing and reserved dresses for parties and dinners. Indeed, her attire looked like she was on her way to a corporate meeting.

"I feel comfortable in this ensemble, what is it to you?" Adia joked smiling. "I'm here at North Bay. Manong tells me the Mother's family estate is just a few minutes from here."

"So you're not buying a new company?" Mr. Vinbar laughs. "Speaking of the estate, I called ahead and told the house keepers that they no longer have to stay there. I had dollars wired to their accounts so they could buy a decent house somewhere in the city. In a few days the help from your house here will be arriving there. I decided instead of hiring new maids, I'd send them over to you, that way you'd be comforted by familiar face," he smiles. "What else, oh I also hired private security for the estate. The company's name is Stronghold. I'll e-mail you the details and contact numbers. I hear that Titan security is the best, you should look them up if you like."

"Tito! You don't have to baby me like that. I've lived alone, out of the country before. I can take care of myself, Tito," she complains.

"I apologize. I know you're a very responsible young woman. But with your father gone, I feel like I have the responsibility to take care of you."

Adia was silent. The mention of her father brought pain in her chest. Her face did not show the pain, but to Mr. Vinbar it was obvious in her silence.

"I'm sorry, dear. I know these are hard times, but don't worry your heart too much. I'll handle everything here for you. And when everything settles down you can come back." He says in concern.

"And of my sister? I know people think I had something to do with her murder. I know you told me that coming here is going to make things easier, but it feels like I'm running away from the problem. It doesn't make sense." She says, with sadness in her voice.

"Adia, Adia, Adia...you need not worry what the public would think. You can't let your feelings cloud your judgement. I've hired the best to solve your sister's murder. The truth will reveal itself. In time everything will be alright. You're not running away from anything" he said in his cool soothing voice.

Adia felt that Mr. Vinbar wasn't making any sense nor explaining his advice very well, but for some reason he sounded right. Because he was always at her father's side and a close family friend, she respects his advice and decisions. Even if what he says are cliched, she does not notice. There are even times when she looks up to him. In fact, he is one of the few people to whom she does not fake/hide her emotions with/from.

"Well, you do always know what's best," she sighed. "Anyway, we've just arrived at the estate. Goodnight, tito."

"I see..let's continue this discussion some other time if you like. I'm always here for you, dear. Good morning, Adia. You have a new life ahead of you, be strong."

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Located at North Bay, several minutes away by car in between Trainor Airport and the North Bay Yacht Club, and by the bay itself, we find the Paloma Estate. The 2 storey high Spanish Colonial Mansion used to belong to the family of Adia's mother, and was the wedding gift from her family when she got married to Adia's father. Outside, it's walls have a beige stucco finish with a number of leaded window panels and it's roof is composed of clay tiles. Found on the beyond the yard facing the bay there is a dock that can accommodate a small yacht. It is positioned a distance away from the house, so the view of the Great Bay from the beach front would not be obstructed. Upon entering the front door, there is a large circular hallway, about 20ft in diameter. Running along the side of the hall is a curved varnish oak staircase leading to the second floor, which is visible as one enters the hall. Hanging from the ceiling is a wrought iron chandelier, and underneath it in the center of the hall is a small stone fountain. In the first and second floor there are arched doors leading to different parts of the mansion. Among the rooms typical in a mansion, like a master bedroom with luxurious en suite bathroom or a fully fitted kitchen, can be found a library, a music room, wine cellar and other utility and function rooms. The whole interior of the mansion is accented by Spanish colonial furniture and various paintings-one of those being Juan Luna's Parisan Life. Surrounding the around 230000 sq ft mansion are palm and fig trees. In front of the house is a private driveway where we now find Adia's limousine.

Adia stepped out the limousine, Manong opening the door for her. She was hugely impressed with the sight of the mansion. It was beautiful. Excited to see the interiors, she went inside and left Manong to deal with her luggage. She could smell a faint scent of earth, old wood and breeze from the bay. The smell reminded her of the various beaches she's been to. It was the smell of peace and tranquility. It lifted her spirits up. Wanting to save exploring the rest of the house for the afternoon, she looked for the masters bedroom-Manong following behind lugging her bags. Upon finding the room, she had Manong leave her bags and wait outside. She did her own unpacking. Emerging from the walk-in closet, she gave herself a few minutes to enjoy the king sized four poster bed.

She was unusually, authentically happy. It was like a great weight has been removed from her chest. With her father and sister gone, she lost the chance to prove to him that she was the better daughter. But instead of seeing it that way, she saw it as freedom. Indeed..

"New home, new life," she mused.

Having creased her attire while swimming in an ocean of softness, she changed clothes before venturing the rest of the mansion. She wore white, loose, flowing blouse and pants. Wanting to feel the terracotta tiled floors, she went barefoot. The rest of the day was spent exploring every inch of her new mansion.

A few days have passed and Adia settled in quite well. She had Manong assist her in turning one of the larger rooms into a workshop/laboratory/communications suite. While she did all the instructing and planning, he did all the heavy lifting, installing, wire connecting, and other physical work Adia's delicate hands refused to do. She also did a bit of reading up on the city and it's citizens (she wasn't too pleased learning about how supers ran the city, one even being downtown itself, but she was happy with her home, and that's all that mattered) but most of her time was spent relaxing and forgetting whatever stress she had before coming to Freedom. The maids also arrived and they did all the daily cleaning and cooking. There had been a bit of redecorating here and there, but most of the mansion stayed the same. Adia was home.

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One morning, Adia recieves a call.

"Good morning, dear, how are you doing?" Mr. Vinbar asked.

"Good evening, Tito. Checking up on me?" she replies with a smile. "As a matter of fact, I'm feeling wonderful. How are things over there? I've believe now would be ok for me to go back there and help"

"I've got news..oh but nevermind"

"What is it, Tito?"

"Well, there have been new developments in the investigation and we suspect a mutant murdered your sister," he revealed.

"What? What have they found? Tell me!" Adia demanded, raising her voice and losing her cool. It was unlike her to act this way. She usually is composed and under control of her emotions. Then again, this past weeks have been strange.

"I can't give you the details, I hope you understand. And it is important you stay there. It could be terribly dangerous for you here. We have no reason to believe that the murderer would follow you there."

Again, Mr. Vinbar hasn't making sense to Adia.

"How can you ask me to stay-" she was about to protest but was interrupted.

"This is what you do: Stay there, take care of yourself and clear your head. I'm telling you, it's dangerous. We can handle things here. You don't have to get involved."

"But I AM already involved. And there are still rumours that I had something to do with her death. Tito, you aren't making any sense" Adia says, almost screaming.

"Adia, Adia, Adia," he replies, trying to soothe her "stay in Freedom. Trust me in this."

Adia gave herself a few moments to breathe and then said "Ok, Tito. I believe you know what you're doing"

"That's a good girl," Mr. Vinbar says. "Now I have to go, take care, dear. Good morning"

"Goodnight"

Later that day, Adia thought to cool herself in the bay. Swimming usually helps clear her mind, but the news coming from her uncle consumed her thoughts. Back in the Philippines, she had a number of stalkers, some of them suspected mutants. Even her sister had one or two mutant stalkers. Could it have been one of them? Why did her Tito give such vague information? Why did he even call if he wont tell her everything. It didn't add up. It never crossed her mind that her uncle could have been conspiring against her. She trusted him too much.

All this stress gave her a headache. What she needed was a distraction..something new to do. She decided to go find somewhere to go tonight. Using her COMPACT, she found an online city guide and noted the possible places she could visit.

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