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alderwitch

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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Summer time was a relatively lazy time at Claremont, with a healthy mix of classes and extra-curricular activities for its unique student body. Today was no exception. For those students interested, the school was providing complementary tickets to a Freedom City Comets game at the Liberty Dome. Even a few students that were living at home for the summer were showing up for today's outing so the entrance to the school was busier than usual as students found their respective shuttles to the game. As the tickets were donations, there were broken up blocks of seats all over the stadium and kids were busy switching tickets with others so that they were sitting near their friends.

This of course led to quite a bit of a headache for the few teachers trying to get everyone sorted out.

Alex was out in the middle of the activity, blinking at the confusion and trying to search out her friends amongst the chaos.

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"Hey, Alex!" A cheerful Mark strode up behind her, looking jaunty in a Comets cap and wearing a jersey bearing the name of Bob Smithee, one of the greatest ballplayers ever to come out of Freedom City. "I had to go get my Comets swag. I've been cheering these guys on since the '93 re-opening." That game, of course, had been the famous match against the Mets that had reopened Freedom City's baseball stadium after the damage inflicted on it by the Terminus Invasion. He grinned at her, his height letting him stand out a little in the crowd. "'Course, I'm a lot bigger now. I think I saw our usual crew around here somewhere."

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Erin nudged her way through the crowd of students towards her roommate. For once she was smiling and looking pleased to be where she was, despite the noise and motion. In another lifetime, she'd been a softball player and a baseball fan, so this was at least somewhat familiar territory. She was dressed in the blue blouse and jeans that was one of her very limited choices of outfit, but today she'd accessorized with the blue and gold uniform headband that kept her hair back and out of her face when she was working. "Hey, where are you sitting?" she asked Alex, after a nod to Mark. "I checked online, and my ticket's pretty good, for mezzanine. You should see if you can get one close."

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Mike lumbered through the crowd scaning for Alex or anyone else he knew as he squinted in the sunlight. He had been up till all hours the night before working on his latest poetic endevor.

Catching sight of Mark and the others he quickly made his way through the crush wondering how Alex and Mark ahd talked him into this. Between his size and broody nature however most students got out of his way and soon was among his usual crowd again. A year ago the thought of having a 'usual crowd' was inconcievable but here he was and despite himself he even kinda liked it.

"Hey guys, where you all sitting?" he asked as he approached.

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James wandered into the courtyard with a smile on his face. He hadn't been here long, but it was certainly more fun than the Estate. For one, his oh-so-wonderful family wasn't here. Major bonus worthy of note all by itself. The fact that there were plenty of fun kids to hang with was just a bonus really. A good one though.

A baseball game? Sure, seemed fun. He hadn't been this year yet, though he'd had box seats at last year's playoffs. A perk of being a Prophet and having the cash. If nothing else, it'd be fun to relax with his new fellow classmates. He kept the jeans and black t-shirt; he'd left all his sports related stuff back at the Estate, figuring it wouldn't be worth taking. Wrong guess there. Ah well. Anyway...

He wandered up, only recognizing a few students unsurprisingly. He moved over to Mark and noted the extensive paraphernalia. "Hey there. Busy morning, huh? I see you're all decked out and ready for the game." He nodded with a warm smile at the other as well those he had and hadn't met yet. Nice weather, fun group. Sounds like a good time. "So, where is everyone sitting?"

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"Woohoo!" Eddie cheered as he sailed over the heads of the crowd. Spotting his friends gathered in a group near the vans he touched down near them.

"Take me out to the ball game!

Take me out with the crowd!..." Eddie projected the music happily as he strolled up to the group.

"Hey guys, whats up?" he asked, smiling, "Nice threads, Mark."

Eddie himself had ditched his normal pair of jeans in favor of a pair of Camouflage Cargo shorts. He had matched that with a white "Red Hot Chili Peppers" t-shirt. He wanted to dress for the hot weather and the sun that he knew would be present in the stadium.

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Tickets were pulled out of pockets and quickly compared. Luckily enough, Mark, Mike and Eddie were already sitting in the same block as Erin's good seats in the mez. Alex and James, however, were holding tickets for other places in the stadium.

"I think I heard that one of the RAs was looking to switch," Alex offered the information to James with a smile. Today, Alex was dressed almost tamely (for Alex). She had a long sleeved plum shirt with her pegged jeans, over which she was wearing a baseball style tshirt in Claremont blue and gold. She had her hair back in a thick braid but was wearing blue rimmed sunglasses.

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"Here, I'll switch with you," Erin offered, extending her ticket to James. "It's a good seat, but you can see the field from anywhere in the stadium." Having a good seat in the mezzanine might be compromised somewhat by having to listen to Mike, and Mark, and quite possibly Eddie, all wondering what Alex was doing with the newest of the new guys elsewhere in the park. It seemed like a better idea to let all the guys sit together.

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"You're welcome to trade with me if you'd like, Alex," said Mark, gallantly offering her his tickets. "I know Mike and Erin are your buddies." He grinned. "I'm sure I'll find my way into good seats one way or the other. 'Sides, you've got the seats next to the concessionaire's, so I can get my hands on those Midnight Nachos I've been hearing so much about. They're loaded with midnight cheese."

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Mike glanced around at the group and spoke up "Everyone is trading, I'm sure we can manage seats together if we try."

He glanced around to see if he could make out or overhear anyone looking to unload seats around the cluster they already had.

At Marks words he looked over to his roommate "What the heck is midnight cheese?"

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"Yea, and with his luck it will be a cinch!" Eddie remarked. "How about you all take the tickets for the Mez, and Mark and I can scan the crowd for people who want to switch out of there."

Eddie turned to the new arrival and said, "By the way I don't think we've met. I'm Eddie." With a smile, Eddie exchanged tickets with him and shook hands.

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Chris ran up to the group, looking quite flushed. "Damn, am I late? Have we swapped to get seats next to each other? Dammit." He stopped to wipe sweat off his goggles. He seemed to still be wearing the familiar green of his Gecko-suit, only he'd thrown jeans and sneakers on over the top of it. To disguise the G logo and utility belt, he was wearing a baggy, dark green t-shirt with a picture of a baseball on it. It read 'Time to Score' underneath it. Metal wristbands were also visible on his wrists. His hair also seemed more ruffled than usual.

"Sorry I'm late, had coffee with Liz and kind of lost track of time. Still... baseball!"

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He flashed Alex and Erin a charming smile, out of habit. “Thanks. If you two would rather sit together, far be it from me to stand in the way.†He whispered sotto voice to them, “though I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to sit with a bunch of rowdy, out of control teenage boys at a baseba….Ah, check that. Nevermind,†he finished with a grin.

He nodded to Eddie, shaking his hand. “James Prophet. James or JP preferable though; your choice. Night ta meet ya.â€Â

He shrugged his shoulders a little. “I might be able to find us some seats together if we can’t find anything else. Would have to check though.â€Â

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"JP, Gotcha." Eddie smiled, ending the handshake. "Sounds like we you guys all have a good way of getting better tickets. I'll just tag along for the hell of it." Eddie smiled wryly.

He turned to Alex, Mike, and Erin. "So basically I'm thinking that if you guys want to go hang out near the bus for now, we can go forage for tickets. We can meet up with you after our 'mission'. This way you can save us some seats if the buses start to load up. Worst comes to worst we will know where you guys are so that way we won't lose you, and if we can't find the best tickets, then we can probably just negotiate the seating arrangement on the bus. Sound good?"

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It took a bit of wrangling while James placed a phone call, but it was remarkabally easy to lock down tickets that matched the good seats ("Yeah, Mark, we DO have three tickets to trade.") James was able to check with his family that the box was available and, even better, none of his family was using it today.

After that, the kids were hustled into a van. Attempts to suggest 'cooler' transportation were shot down by stern although not unkind adults. ("No convertible! No AIRSHIP!")

In an odd streak of bad luck for the group, they ended up in the last van leaving the school. Worse, they were plagued with red lights that seperated them from the other vans and snarled up in a traffic jam that tied them up for much longer than anticipated so when they were finally at the stadium, the game had already started.

Their driver let them out to run to their seats and drove the van off to park. Upon entering the stadium, it was almost eerily empty in the lobby. The game must be already quite under way!

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James nodded to everyone. "If you guys want to try those seat, we can. But I've got access to box seat if we want."

He grinned. "No waiting in line for snacks either..." He looked around at the empty lobby. "Though that might not be a problem this early." He shrugged. He didn't mention how he had access. They could make their own conclusions. He wasn't the type to flaunt his money, but what was the point of having it if you didn't use it to have fun?

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"Come on, we're missing it," Erin said impatiently, bounding up the stairs three and four at a time as she started heading for the mezzanine. "We should've started earlier, I wanted to check the lineup before it started. Are you guys coming?" she asked, pausing for a second and looking back from the first landing.

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Mike never really got the point of watching baseball so hadn't really been rushing. At Erins insistance he however began moving closer to full speed though still somewhat trailing the rest of the group.

When james suggested the box he paused to ask "So are we heading to our seats or the sky box?" Mike trailed off at the end of his statement "Uhm where are the people to take our tickets?"

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Eddie and Chris happened to be over by the concession stand and realize no one appears to be able to take their requests.

Mike, being the rule follower that he is, notices that the ticket takers are absent and the kids have strolled in without handing their ball park tickets to anyone.

James notices that a pair of booted feet are sticking out of one utility clost whose door isn't all the way closed.

Mark happens to be turned at just the right angle to see the flashing lights of Freedom's finest showing up in the parking lot.

At her place in the stairwell, Erin notices a sound, or in this case, a lack of sound from what should be a stadium full of people. Instead she hears the sort of silence that sends chills down her spine and evokes bad memories for the exchange student.

Alex has frozen in the lobby, her hands going to her head, "That's not right. I should feel a bunch of thoughts. Its like... everyone's sleeping? Or all thinking the same thing?"

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"Dude, where are the staff?" said Chris, looking uncomfortable. "This is... weird. There should be people around." He pulled his goggles from his belt and pulled them on. "Y'know, last time I was here, a supervillain attacked. And I mean, like the Raven struggles to deal with this guy. What if he came back? None of us could outwit him."

He smiled wryly. "Or it could be I'm getting really paranoid."

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"Jesus Christ," Erin muttered, more like a prayer than a curse. "Where are the people?" Disregarding the pretense of using the stairs, she leapt up the stairwell to the next level of seating, trying to get a look at what was going on inside the stadium. Under her breath, she muttered, "don't be dead, don't be dead, don't be dead." There had to be another explanation, but the nauseating familiarity was making it hard to think reasonably.

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"Nah dude, This is weird." Eddie said, leaning over the concession stand counter. "There should be people here! Who's gonna serve us our food?"

Eddie's usually chipper mood dulled for a moment. "Did anyone else just get a chill?" he asked, more seriously than the others might have thought possible for him.

"Erin! What's it look like up there?"

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"Oh my God..." Mark didn't try to get around the fast-moving Wander, he'd seen her run enough to know how impossible that was. "All right, the cops just got here! I, uh, need some action here, people." Dr. Marquez thinks I'm leadership material; oh God, I can't let them see that I have no idea what's going on. Despite his own pulse-pounding alarm, Edge was for a few moments in his element. "Psyche, you go after Wander!" he called. "Phalanx, follow her! Get in the air if you can, tell me what's going on inside the stadium. E, uh..." Not knowing Eddie's super-name, he pointed at him.

The two young men looked at each other for a moment before Eddie yelled, "Breakdown!"

"All right! Good! Breakdown! See if you can hear anything happening on the radio, either on the stadium's system or what the cops are saying, or something..." Stay calm, he reminded himself. Stay calm. Remember what Lou Gehrig said. "Geckoman, can you call the Pitchoo from here? We may need something faster than the van in the next couple of minutes." He studied James for a moment, realized he had no idea what name the other guy was operating under either...or what his powers were, for that matter. "You! What are you looking at over there?"

For his part, Mark removed his baseball cap and tossed it aside, then pulled off his jersey with a single dramatic gesture to reveal his costume underneath. Pulling his goggles down over his head and dropping his cape behind him, blasters standing out like lines of hard muscle on his forearms, grapple gun at his side, he looked for a single instant like the superhero he'd always wanted to be. He pulled his goggles down over his eyes and cocked his head, thanking his good luck that he'd thought to wear all this underneath his baseball outfit. "As for me, I'm..." Crap! "I'm getting a look outside." He fired his grapple gun up at the ceiling, neatly pulling himself up to get a look out the stadium entry-way windows at the cops outside.

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"Hey! I'm the one with the goggles here!" said Geckoman, hurling off his t-shirt to reveal the bright yellow G emblazoned on his chest. He pulled his mask and remote control from his belt, and tugged on the mask as he thumbed a few buttons. "Pitchoo en route, ETA won't be long. Goddammit, why is every time I end up here I don't end up watching the game? Just one time," he complained, pulling his goggles on over the eye holes in his mask, "One time I'd like to go somewhere and not have this happen to me." He dropped his jeans and took off his sneakers, revealing himself to be wearing his spandex and thin boots under them too.

He grabbed his clothing and went to walk outside. As he did, he let his zappers unfurl from their metal bracelets, the barrel and finger hooks whizzing out and clicking into position. He raised a hand in greeting to the cops.

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DUH! Breakdown quickly jumped onto all of the radio frequencies to see what he could find. A broadcast of the game, a news flash, anything. If all else fails, he zero's in on emergency services frequencies.

"I'm on it!" Breakdown called out. while reaching into his bag. He quickly drew out a folded leather jacket and drew it on. He had been thinking about a costume, but he had only really managed to get this one thing. He gazed down at his Camo shorts and boots he happened to be wearing and shrugged. He kinda liked it. Casual was just his thing.

He whipped one more thing out of his bag. He replaced the headphones on his head with what looked like a combination headset and visor. The two were attached at the ears. The visor was made of the type of obscuring plastic used on many sunglasses. The visor was enough to obscure his eyes and protect his identity. It was adjoined to a pair of expensive looking headphones.

After his suit was on, Eddie tapped his left forearm a few times. Underneath the leather, he had placed circuits that were each linked to a separate iPod. Each iPod contained a certain type of music. All were constantly running, and broadcasting directly to his headset. Thus all he needed to do to switch his power set was to touch his forearm a certain way.

After making sure all his systems were go, Breakdown turned his full attention to the radio waves, tossing his side bag over the counter into the concession stand.

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