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When its time to party we will party hard

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The invatations had been sent out weeks ago but the 'leak' to the Daily Word was sure to turn up a fair chunk of stragglers as well. A gathering of costumed adventures such as this was a rare enough occasion and Ace Danger had a way of attracting attention regardless.

Security teams were in place to ensure the simpler rabble didn't crash the party, as for big names well the presence of several of the cities premier heroes, not the mention the sheer press of less well know neighborhood protectors to contend with, would be a tempting but somewhat foolhardy target for most criminal types. All was going according to plan as the early arrivals filtered in to the lavish hall festooned with assorted memorbilia of the cities many heroes.

Ace, dressed in his battered bomber jacket, rumpled fedora, and domino mask, took a final stroll around the room shaking a few hands and straightening a crooked banner here and there. At the end of his circut he arrived at the main entrance and took up position to greet his guests as they arrived. The entry way was cleared to allow those with a flair for the dramatic to land or descend from ropes or whatever they preffered as well as a traditional red carpet for those prefering that style.

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The Claremont students attending Ace Danger's party had the luxury of two very special escorts tonight. One was Leeroy Hawke, the charismatic ethics teacher with the dark past as the former supervillian Turbo-Boost. Mr. Hawke was a man of enormous height and charisma, a muscular fellow whose bulk belies the speed and dexterity he still showed off when occasionally persuaded to take to the football field. In the immaculate grey suit he preferred, the supercriminal-turned-teacher could still go from charming, voluble intellectual to scary-eyed teacher you don't mess with at the drop of a hat. He was nothing, though, compared to their other escort.

:bat: "I am sure that you will all conduct yourself by the standards befitting students of the Claremont Academy for the Gifted,": said Duncan Summers as the kids boarded the school SUV that was taking them to the party. "Make no mistake. Mr. Hawke and I will be watching you. " He seemed to give each and every student The Look at those words, ones they knew only too well. "I already know you. This is your chance to show the world what you're made of." With that, he deftly boarded the big SUV, leaving the kids all in the huge backseat in an odd version of the usual high school trip to prom for the short trip out to the party.

Meanwhile, high in the rafters of Ace Danger's place, Jack watched and waited in the form of so much smoke and fog. His natural stealth made it almost impossible for anyone to detect his presence...even when he got a little careless and drifted beneath the light. He didn't look like a man, anyway, just like a bit of fog that had gotten in at the wrong place.

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Dark Star circled the Earth a few more times, just checking near-Earth space before descending from orbit. He had an engagement to attend of all things, which he was actually looking forward to.

Since becoming Dark Star, he hadn’t exactly had been a social maven. Oh, he’d hung out a few times while traveling around, made some friends. And since returning to Earth, he’d spent the vast majority of his time ‘working’; his only down tome spent with his extended family, keeping him connected. He could really use some straight up social time.

So when he’d received the invitation while he was out and about (an unusual event to happen during patrol but a pleasant change none-the-less), he had happily agreed. He needed the break and needed to connect to more people beyond mere villain-bashing. He didn’t want loneliness to turn into apathy towards people.

So it was that a mere 5 minutes after the invitation said to arrive, Dark Star floated down directly in front of the main door. He could have entered anywhere, but that would have been rather rude. He was invited, so he had to ‘knock’ and introduce himself.

Floating to a stop in front of the doorman, Dark Star nodded and introduced himself before moving into the main hall. No flash, no concealment. Just walking on in. While he looked around, he was doing his best to keep his enhanced sense reigned in. Nosing around and looking through walls, even accidentally, wasn’t very polite.

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Jack thought about dropping his disguise when Dark Star appeared in the hall, but he knew that he'd draw far too much attention to himself if he started disappearing and reappearing when there were only a couple of heroes here. He'd have to bide his time and wait until a crowd appeared. Still, it was nice to see Dark Star getting some play. Man needs to socialize more, he thought complacently. Can't spend all day talking to stars and passing Grue. You know, I wonder what a Grue tastes like... He drifted down low to listen as the two men talked.

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Ace nodded politely at Dark Star and smiled wide, "Welcome, welcome, Excelent work on that star island buisness, and the Knievel capture top shelf work." Ace said as greeting "Head right in and make yourself at home." he added with a wave of his arm gesturing into the ballroom. He never made an attempt to touch the insubstantial heroe but managed to condunct the greetign such that it seemed perfectly normal that he wouldn't.

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From her cramped apartment, Taylor Chun flicked the tv on to get a good look at the Plaza's entry way. She could have scryed out the gathering but why exert the effort when the event was already on tv. After shutting and locking the doors and windows and pulling the curtains, Taylor brushed her fingertips against the amulet at her throat. With a flash of light, Phantom's cloak and cowl replaced her pjs. Glancing one last time at the tv, she focused and teleported herself to the party.

On the plaza's doorstep, a ragged ball of cloth began to rapidly unfold outward into the ephemeral sillouhette of the Phantom. After a moment of wavering, her outline solidified into existance. Phantom stepped onto the ground, her boots echoing hollowly on the marble as her cloak writhed around her ankles.

She paused to introduce herself to the doorman before heading for the party's host.

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Dark Star nodded ato the man nd started to introduce himself before the man zipped right through and on into ushering him in. "Err. If you say so." Personally he thought some of that could have gone a good deal better. Live and learn though. He gave little shrug of his shoulders before nodding. "Thanks for the invitation by the way," he said as he left the man's presence, following the fellow's directions and heading into the ballroom, starting to wonder what he was actually doing here.

With intentionaly dampening his senses (a most annoying prospect), he never noticed the cloud above or the arrival of Phantom behind him.

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Good thing I've got investments that just grew in the time I was gone... Aristodemus thought to himself as he adjusted the tie on his suit. It cost him a good 450 dollars, but with his investments that had grown in the time he had been with Hades, he could easily afford it.

A week after his run-in with Knievel and Malice, the Spartan had done nothing but training down in his bunker over at the Boardwalk and had barely stepped out of his bunker except to eat along with some important guest at the hotel who needed extra protection. One could say that after all that training in the bunker, the Spartan needed a breather.

"Please state your name and alias." A security guard at the entrance to the plaza asked him as he approached.

"Aristodemus. No alias. I'm open." Aristodemus said as he held up his invitation.

"Go ahead, Spartan."

Aristodemus fixed his suit as he entered the party.

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Alex, better known as Mongrel Angel, or just Angel, knew she wasn't an A list hero, or even a B. At most she could get by as a C-lister, but she'd been at it for over a year and she did some good. Which meant she had gotten a spiffy little invitation to the party.

Flying over from across the river she once again finds herself thanking the fact that Freedom is partially designed with flyers in mind, otherwise she'd probably have trouble given her wingspan. And for once she wasn't alone, Wilhelm was coming along as well as her guest. The elderly mage was unusually enough not dressed in his usual black style, but instead sported a white version of it.

The pair landed without any particular flair and walked up and, after a brief exchange during which it was explained that Wilhelm was there as a guest, in without speaking to each other. Once inside they parted ways after a nod, Alex to check out the other guests according to her tastes, Wilhelm to do his own thing; using this as an opportunity to scope out at least some of the areas heroes a bit more fully. Particularly how many, and how much, some of them used magic in any regard.

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Jack almost joined the conversation at the sight of his old friend Dark Star, but the new face entering reminded him of why he couldn't. Avenger doesn't socialize. Avenger doesn't hang out with other heroes. Avenger is a weirdo who no one is supposed to like, because that means no one's going to develop an interest in his no-doubt creepy loser secret identity. But Jack himself wanted to socialize, which meant waiting until the crowd down below was just a little bit larger. Hey, is that Daedalus? No, that's some other Greekish guy. Hmm, I wonder if I could sneak into Freedom Hall like this... He drifted down and around, circling through the party as an invisible phantom. And then...Holy cow, is that an angel! Jack drifted in the opposite direction as fast as he could.

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This is absolutely terrifying.

The tiny figure, barely a foot high, circled and darted high over the red carpet leading into the hotel; Grimalkin was still not sure she actually wanted to go inside, and her new Tinkerbell form was as good a way as any to check the place out.

When was the last time you were invited to anything? And there's gonna be good food, cute guys, and a lot of heroic types you've never met before. What have you got to lose?

Being recognized had been an adjustment since Memorial Day; of course by the very nature of her powers she would only be recognized if she wanted to be, but more and more she actually did. Stopping in at some all-night taco joint for a bite when she was patrolling the Fens seemed to really cheer folks up, and it's not like the neighborhoods other defender who be caught dead getting takeout. And she usually didn't even have to pay; her cash was politely refused.

"It's on da house, Grimmie; you be careful out there, alright?"

And it's the thought of the guy at the taco joint, and the old lady who runs the newsstand, that finally pushes her to head inside, because it's always nice to see the local kid do good. In fact it was Tony the pizza guy who gave her the invitation, said a man in a nice suit dropped it off for her.

Grim lands discretely in a nearby alley, assumes her normal proportions, and then just walks up to the front door. Just for fun, she's wearing a somewhat more glamorous version of her costume, with nice heels, a little collarbone showing and a more stylish overall 'cut'; her hair is copied from a poster she liked the other day, still short but with angled salon-style bangs. Instead of her normal leather-style domino mask, she opted for a small black-sequined one.

So yeah, an actual red carpet! Some paparazzi guys with cameras are there, bombarding her with flashes, and just outside the blinding ring of lights, a pack of massive security guards with expensive suits and no necks are keeping away the gawkers and wannabees in their ghastly cheap tights. She waves and smiles, gives a thumbs up and the two-finger metalhead salute before heading to the front door.

Oh God, I feel like a movie star! But lucky me, I can disappear whenever I want.

The doorman checks her invite, touches his earpiece and mutters something, then he just nods tersely and waves her through.

Look at all this cool old stuff! Oh my god, that's one of great-grandpa's old costumes! Cool!

Grim steps closer to the case to study the turban and flowing robe, and places her hand against the glass, head bowed; after a few moments of reverent contemplation, she turns and walks up to the man who must be Ace Danger. Beaming, she extends an elegantly-gloved hand.

"Hi, I'm Grimalkin! This is so awesome!"

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The Scarab hesitated for what felt like an eternity. Her enhanced senses scoured the hotel ballroom, over and over again.

What am I so afraid of? They all must know by now that I've returned. I've been quiet, but it's a loud kind of quiet. I haven't stayed to talk to the press, but plenty of blurry cell phone pictures have circulated around the Internet.

No, they don't know. I could be some impostor. A pretender to the throne.

Or am I just kidding myself?

Plenty of familiar faces. But no old familiar faces. This could work out.

It's a big party. Maybe I can avoid them, if I'm careful.

Maybe they'll have more important things to do tonight. Maybe they won't show up at all.

Maybe this is a good idea. Get in front. Take control. Come out on my terms, not theirs.

(Right. Because that worked out so well for you before.)

Maybe I'm just kidding myself again.

Over the course of two seconds, The Scarab slowly dropped her mental cloak and faded into view at the entrance to the Plaza Hotel. Her cape waved and billowed behind her, buoyed by some seemingly nonexistent wind.

The doorman at the hotel entrance cleared his throat. "Um...can I please see your invitation?"

The Scarab just stood motionless for a few moments. Then she glanced to her right. The doorman turned to follow her gaze, and saw the embossed bronze relief adorning the wall of the lobby from floor to ceiling. The bronze relief depicting The Battle of Pyramid Plaza. He saw The Scarab and Brainstorm, fighting the sinister crocodile-headed sorcerers, The Scions of Sobek. Fighting them with their last breaths. To our eternal gratitude, and everlasting sorrow. 1979.

The Scarab turned back to face the doorman. She waved two fingers across his face. "You don't need to see my invitation."

"Heh. Right. *ahem* Sorry." He unhooked the velvet rope and waved her in.

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As the Phantom appeared the paparazzi's cameras flashed furiously. This was not a common sighting and the manner was certainly enough to get some attention. Ace clicked closed his phone and took a step forward sticking his hand out in greeting "Hi, Captain Ace Danger," He takes her hand and deftly turns it to plant a delicate kiss on her knuckles. He stands and beams at her "Wonderful costume, a great look." His eyes catch for a moment on the glittering Jewel at her throat, 'now where have I seen that before' he asks himself as he turns to guide the heroine into the ballroom proper.

As he turns back tot he receiving line Ace's face lights up at the sight of Grimalkin, "Welcome, Welcome, I was worried you wouldn't get the invitation in time." He said then added conspiratorially "You're a hard woman to find." He presents an arm "Ace Danger at your service," he greets her warmly "You've been busy to, solid work no wonder your all they can talk about down your way." He adds with a broad smile. He walks her into the ballroom and points out a few others who she might find engaging companions before he once more turns to his hostly duties in time to see the Scarab passing his doorman.

"Scarab, Well Scarab two I suppose is somewhat more accurate but you do honor the name." He speaks as if unsurprised by the arrival, "I was worried you'd not come and you deserve to be here. Thank you for being here." He offered a hand, "I met your predecessor once, It was a sad loss for us all when he fell, but as they say from the ashes arise something new, yes?" He sweeps his hand to the ballroom with a flourish "Have fun, its a party."

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"At last, the prodigal son returns."

"Scarab, Well Scarab two I suppose is somewhat more accurate but you do honor the name."

"No. You were right the first time."

"I was worried you'd not come and you deserve to be here. Thank you for being here."

"I thought my presence might help add some...legitimacy to your return. And my own."

He offered a hand, "I met your predecessor once, It was a sad loss for us all when he fell, but as they say from the ashes arise something new, yes?"

The Scarab shook Danger's hand, then held onto it when he tried to withdraw. Ace heard her voice echo inside his head.

He isn't my predecessor. He's me. I remember the day we met, Ace. It was December 22nd, 1964. 'Operation: Foul Ball.' You were working for AEGIS. We had both stumbled onto a ring of Communist spies, led by that big East German fellow. The one who planned to destabilize the American economy by nuking the Federal gold reserves. I found them with my psychic powers. You seduced his assistant and beat him at golf. He cheated, but you cheated better. The whole incident was classified. There was a movie later. We're probably the only two people left alive who know it was based on actual events.

The Scarab let go of his hand. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to try the cannoli. I heard you had it flown in from Italy this morning...fresh."

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Ace nodded thoughtfully for a moment thinking over what was said and unsaid. He smiled warmly to Scarab, perhaps his expected lifespan would be less lonely than he originally surmised, interesting very interesting. "Well I hope we have oportunities to work together in the future, I believe we may have more in common than dashing fashion sense." He replied.

His phone silently vibrated in his pocket and he Bowed tothe Scarab and indicated the table with the cannoli, "You have good sources my friend, right over there on the left." He pulled his phone out and glanced at it "I should take this enjoy yourself."

He took a step back and answered the phone listening for a momment before thanking the person on the other end of the line. As he clicked shut his phone he spoke into the small mike on his collar and began peering over the heads of the crowd as best he could. Sighting the destinctive headwear of his quarry he glided through the crowd waiting for the Exile to break off from his angelic companion.

At the first oportunity Ace slid seemlessly up to the interloper and with a hard smile spoke quickly and quietly his normally warm smile hardened to a razors edge, "I know you, I don't think I need to further explain that a man with your connections and associations isn't welcome at this event." Ace peered directly into the elderly mans eyes to get across the full gravity of his statements, "You've managed to keep a low profile so far so your free to leave unmolested. However," Ace gestured absently to the assembling heroes in the hall, "others may not be so gracious if they were to learn what you get up to in your free time." The threat was subtle but clear in the favor of peace Ace was willing to let him walk with a warning so long as he made a speedy exit. "I'll make excuses to your companion for you." Ace added as he began to turn away.

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Alicia "Thunderstanding" Whiting leaped across a field of moving cars, using their roofs as stepping stones. The insane maneuver was made almost ridiculous by the slinky, candy red dress and stiletto heels that she wore. With an exhilarated whoop, the muscular heroine landed with an impossibly light step on the pavement outside Pyramid Plaza's Tower One. Smiling and waving at the paparazzi and gawkers gathered both in and outside the building, she made her way through the doors and headed toward the elevators.

As soon as she stepped out of the elevator into the Plaza hotel's sixth floor lobby, the flashing lights of yet more paparazzi assaulted her. She grinned widely and and stopped every so often to make a few body builder's poses for the cameras as she sashayed toward the entrance to the party proper.

"Here you go, hon," she said to the door guard as she fished her invitation out of the small clutch she carried.

After pushing her way into the party room, Thunder loudly proclaimed to nobody in particular, "Whoo! Everybody's here!" Looking around, she added, "Now where's the bar?" and headed off in search of something tall and liquid.

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The massive Volkswagon Beetle-Limousine slithered sedately through traffic, like an anaconda in a concrete jungle. Pompadour (legally named Brett Mason) and his Super Agent Mandy (legally named Amanda Karlson) sat behind the gold-tinted glass. Pompadour was somewhat nervous and trying not to fidget in his seat. "You need to relax. You're a superhero, not a poseur. You fought a thunder-god, and took on a horde of demons. An invitation to this party is just the Hero Communities stamp of approval."

Pompadour eyed his agent. "That doesn't mean I'm not a total newb. Ace Danger has been fighting bad guys for like, 100 years." His gaze fell on the little LCD television by the mini-bar. "Do you see that? The rumours are true! Scarab is back! Scarab!" He shook his head at Mandy. "The big kids are playing hardball, and the best I can hope for is that they're too polite to point out that I'm using a Nerf bat."

The limo pulled to a halt outside Pyramid Plaza, and a waiting functionary jumped forward to open the limo's door. As Pompadour stepped toward the curb, Mandy gave him a little wave. "Aren't you coming?" She shook her head. "I'm not a hero. Besides, if you want to play with the big kids, you can't hang onto Momma's apron. Have a good time, but not too good."

Pompadour allowed the car door to be closed, and stepped out onto the red carpet. He wasn't wearing his traditional greaser threads. His well-worn blue jeans were replaced by grey pinstriped slacks. Instead of a battered leather jacket, he wore a bronze coloured, crushed velvet Valentino coat. In addition, he had opted for a tuxedo shirt instead of a wife-beater, the shirt was held closed with jeweled buttons, but he had left the neck open. Finally, he wore a tiny, almost infinitesimal domino mask that matched his jacket. Pompadour walked up the red carpet slowly, turning frequently to allow fans and paparazzi to get a good look, and some good photos. His hair is looking especially large and prominent tonight. When he finally reached the doorman, a tendril of hair reached into the jacket to pull out the invitation. Pompadour freeze-framed briefly while presenting the invitation, also with his hair, for the last good photo-op before entering the building.

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And so the brave Grimalkin finds herself standing near the buffet table holding a glass of champagne in one hand and small plate of hors d'oeuvres in the other; after she meekly asked the waitstaff which of the tasty-looking mouthfuls were kosher (about half), she made a large pile on her plate, but then got rather self-conscious about it.

Wow, I am so tempted to fade out right now.

She felt like a kid who snuck into her parents' party and was desperately trying not to get caught; everyone looked older and more dignified, and the few people she did know from 'work' weren't exactly the kind of folks you got chummy with over cocktails.

Plus I kinda hate Phantom's guts :twisted:

Just then there was a mild commotion near the door.

"Whoo! Everybody's here! Now where's the bar?"

Now this looked like someone who she'd feel comfortable around; attempting to look inconspicuous, she drifted over in the direction of the open bar. Once she got close enough, she nodded and smiled.

"Hi, I'm Grimalkin."

She waves her champagne glass about in a vague fashion.

"I'm not usually in this part of town; they don't let me outta the Fens too often."

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Well, it certainly isn't boring around here.

Aristodemus watched as the superheroes came like flies to honey. This Captain Ace Danger was certainly a very respect worthy person. The Spartan had obviously failed to gather information on today's superheroes.

Fortunately for him, the Spartan had narrowly managed to avoid the paparazzi down there. Most would have asked how it came that he was immortal, to the extent that it would have a nervous breakdown on the Spartan. Last time wasn't very pleasant.

So many heroes in town. Aristodemus could barely believe that there were villains in this town at all.

I'll guess I'll just sit over there and sip my drink... He went to a couple of empty seats.

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Now this looked like someone who she'd feel comfortable around; attempting to look inconspicuous, she drifted over in the direction of the open bar. Once she got close enough, she nodded and smiled.

"Hi, I'm Grimalkin."

She waves her champagne glass about in a vague fashion.

"I'm not usually in this part of town; they don't let me outta the Fens too often."

Returning the smile and holding up a tall, multi-colored drink by way of a greeting, Alicia replied, "Thunderstanding. Pleased t'meetcha. The Fens, huh? Southside and Lincoln are my usual beat."

The tall heroine regarded her dark blue and red beverage. "They do make their drinks fancy on this side of the tracks. The bartender called this thing a nuclear fallout. Let's see if it lives up to its name." With that, she threw back a healthy gulp of the stuff. "Mmmmm. Orange-y. Not bad..."

Turning back to Grim, Thunder asked, "Grimmel-kin, huh? Cool name. What's it mean?"

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Phantom had strolled around the ballroom once, hands tucked behind her back. She'd thought about taking a drink to just look like she blended but discarded it. She didn't need to eat anymore and the alchohol wouldn't even affect her.

After almost being bumped into for the third time, she gave up on clinging to the physical. Once she started to ghost through people, she was given a slightly wider bearth and let out a little sigh of relief.

She spotted Scarab's distinctive red and gold accross the room and glided over to the Italian table, "Good evening, Scarab. I'll confess to surprise at your appearance tonight. Although the entire evening is proving unusual. How is the food?"

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"Hello, ladies." When Jack appeared next to Grimalkin and Thunderstanding at the bar, it was with a cheerful grin on his face and an old-fashioned black domino mask on his face. He was playing the cheerful Lothario at this moment, one of the many party personalities he'd adopted over the years. He'd timed things well, appearing just as Ace went over to talk to the evident interloper, meaning that the room's security staff was paying attention to their boss and not to any handsome young men in black suits who simply came into being at the bar. "Bartender, lemme have a mint julep. Drop it in that frosted glass, would you?" Because that way, no one would notice the level of what he was drinking. And he already had mint on what passed for his breath thanks to the mints he'd chewed that night. No smell of blood on him!

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Pompadour paused by the entrance of the ballroom proper. The host of the event seemed to be involved in some sort of stand-off, which left Pomp to his own devices. Looking around the party, he recognized as many faces as faces he didn't. With the exception of Thunderstanding, he hadn't met anyone here that he could see. He was feeling a bit intimidated by the names he could put to faces. Since Thunderstanding was already in conversation, anyone he could talk to would be a stranger. It would be just my luck if someone recognized me as a supervillain, without having heard that I'm on the right side now.

Pompadour's brain ticked away as he headed to the bar. According to his agent, the Miller people were still balking on an endorsement deal. Would it make more sense to give them a freebie, by being photographed drinking their product at the Party of the Year... or should he make them kick themselves for not signing him sooner? Deciding that this was not the sort of party one drank lite beer at, he opted for a flute filled with champagne.

He realized that since getting out of the limo, he had said "Here you go," to the doorman who asked for his invitation and "champagne" to the bartender... if he didn't say a complete sentence to someone soon, he might freeze up for the night. He sipped from his glass, and glanced around, looking for a likely suspect. Over there, by the wall... I don't recognize him, so I can't be too badly out-classed... and he looks even more uncomfortable than I feel. Talking to him might do us both some good.

"I'm probably giving away how inexperienced I am at this, but I don't recognize you at all. I'm Pompadour." He extended a hand in greeting to The Spartan.

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(Sorry, I had Onee-chan's login)

"Pleased to meet you." Aristodemus took Pompadour's hand and shook it hard. "I'm the Spartan." The heavy Doric Greek accent could have given him away, since it had been a dead accent since the Roman occupation.

"You thought Daedalus was the only Greek around these parts? Well, it's fine anyway. Having been stuck for forty years kinda makes one pretty much forgotten."

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Dark Star moved around slowly, wondering at his being here.

He was was impressed, honored even, to be around some of these heroes. Despite his 'membership' in the hero profession, he still felt inexperienced and out of place among this crowd. Yeah, he had some power (so much so it worried him sometimes). But being a hero was something in the mind and heart, not just the power. He'd met a few of those. They didn't have powers yet they were still heroes. They had it. He might not always agree with the specifics of what they did; he might not agree with their methodologies. But they were heroes nonetheless.

He never was good at the whole 'socializing' thing, even when he had been human. Now it seemed even harder. He only changed back once in a great while, and he didn't particularly enjoy the feeling too much. There just weren't too many reasons to change. His sister-in-law and her kids, that's about it. And they didn't really need him. He was just there to help out a little. Eventually, they'd be fine without him. Then what would he do? He wasn't sure.

He liked being around people; he just didn't have much in common with them anymore. This was a room full of heroes and he still felt out of place. But at least he had something in common with people here. So, he continued to drift around; his black form gliding easily through the crowds and through life.

Man, he had always hated these things...

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