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Avenger Assembled

A Three-Hour Tour

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Date: August 5th, 2009

Lawrence Normal Smalls was no one's favorite kid at Claremont, the self-styled "Gravity Master" combining the disadvantages of being physically awkward, incredibly brilliant, and a spoiled, immature brat whose attempts to ingratiate himself with his fellow students at best made him more everyone's annoying little brother than anyone they actually wanted to hang around with. Some people at the school worried that Lawrence (never Larry, always Lawrence) might grow up to be a supervillian, and what he was doing today was perhaps a step down that path. Up on the roof of the Diana Falk cafeteria, concealed by a special addition to his gravity belt, Lawrence worked on his latest invention; a teleporter that would allow him to beam anyone he wanted anywhere on the face of the Earth he wanted. He'd never have to worry about Sloth picking on him again!

-

Down below, Edge's attempt at recruiting another member to Young Freedom hadn't gone very well. At least he'd managed to get everyone sitting together around a big cafeteria table for their lunch-time meeting, even if it had taken some pretty heavy persuasion for some of his more recalcitrant members. The most recalcitrant of all, as it happened, had decided not to be a member at all. "Hey, guys, it's not that I don't appreciate the offer," said Hope Rogers, the erstwhile Agent H, "And I ain't getting high-hat on you or anything. Some of you are all right. I just don't think I'm a team player like what you want for the...team you've got here."

"Well, Hope, thanks for coming to the meeting anyway," said Mark with a wry smile. "I'm sure you'll do well on your own, just like we'll do well together. And the rest of you guys, thanks for coming out too. I know a lot of us have pretty busy schedules or aren't fans of this kind of thing, and I appreciate you making the effort to come out here." He had a feeling some of the people there had needed a little encouragement to get out there. "In the meantime, it's pizza day; let's eat!" The boxed pizzas they'd ordered in was already sitting on the table, the good aromas wafting in every direction. Truthfully, maybe the teenagers would have been able to concentrate better without the food there, but Mark was a teenager too: he was hungry!

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"Dude!" Eddie glared at Mark "You have gotta stop thanking me for coming to these meetings. You know I can't get enough of this super hero business!" Eddie eagerly supplied.

"In fact, if you weren't always pestering people about this stuff, it might be me in your position. But anyways, lets not keep that pizza waiting!" Eddie shouted with a smile. "Past the teeth and over the gums. Look out stomach, here it comes!" Eddie grabbed a slice of pizza and began to chow down.

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Alex gave Eddie a vaguely grossed out look from where she was cutting her pizza neatly up with a fork and a knife.

"Is this really like what the meetings the adult super-teams have?" She asked Edge curiously once she could look away from Eddie and his rhymes, "I always thought they'd be somehow more... super-hero-ey. Less like a school club. I guess that the social paradigm isn't that different although the emotions and motivations of the players probably are a little more dissimilar."

She trailed off with the end of that, more musing to herself then the group at large.

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"We don't exactly have a secret lair," Erin pointed out, setting aside her notebook and reaching for some pizza. She'd spent most of the meeting trying to take longhand notes for a book report on Cry, The Beloved Country. It wasn't going well, partially because it had taken her the better part of two chapters to even figure out who was talking most of the time, but it was rapidly coming due and had to be finished. "At least we get the money for pizza." She took a large slice and folded it in half, starting in on it while wondering if it was fair game to use up words complaining about text with no quotation marks.

"It's not a bad gig," she told Hope in an aside. "It's just another extracurricular, really, but you get access to more training stuff, and a club budget. There's weekly training you have to go to, but that's about it."

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Mike had shown up, there was after all pizza on offer, but remained quitely at the back. He tried to be supportive of the whole thing despite his own reluctance but recruitment was a bit beyond him. Which was probably for the best as he wasn't exactly the best speaker to be found.

As it now seemed to be pizza time he grabbed a couple slices and began to dig in asking edge between bites, "So why are we looking for more people? I mean it seems hard enough to mange just our scheduals for those training sessions Summers is making us do."

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Showing up for a meeting? Not freaking likely. This wasn't exactly a fortune 500 or some other society. James was late, intentionally so, totally unconcerned with the concept of a meeting. It would happen just fine without him. He had other things to do, people to see. But he got there eventually at least.

He headed over to the table and helped himself to a piece of pizza, not apologetic at all for being late. "So, how was the meeting?"

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"Awesomesauce! Just like this pizza!" Eddie said as he stuck another bite into his mouth. "Way'da show up!" Eddie said through a partially full mouth. He gave James a playful push. "This is Hope. She says she doesn't want to join." Eddie continued, his mouth finally empty again. "Come on, grab a seat and grab some pizza." Eddie moved over to make room for James.

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"We need to stop doing this. People turn up for free pizza, not to join," said Chris, scarfing a piece of pepperoni. "I mean, who'd turn up somewhere just to eat pizza?" Another slice managed to disappear. "The rest of us come to contribute, dammit!" Third slice down. "I would so come here if we didn't have pizza." Please don't mention the week without the pizza, please don't mention the week without the pizza...

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James gave Hope a dazzling smile. "Pleasure to meet you. Whether or not you do join, it's always still nice to see a friendly face." He moved over to find an empty seat. "Sorry, I'm mooching. Who do I owe money to for the pizza?" He'd spring for all the pizza without blinking. But if no one collected, he was just as happy to eat for free.

"So what else is going on? Besides harassing attractive young women who could hurt quite a few of us that is." He grinned as he reached to snag a piece of pizza.

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"I'm not sure I'd exactly fit in with some of these kids," muttered Hope to Erin. She was polite enough, after several months at Claremont, not to glare at any of the students to whom she was referring. But having worked with her a couple of times, Erin had a pretty good idea. Hope was a volatile girl, a veteran of bloody battles in her home dimension, and wasn't the most sociable of sorts at the best of times. But everyone there liked free food and good company, and they avoided any arguments as they ate. She gave James a speculative look as she ate, opting not to say anything. She was clearly sizing him up, but with Hope it was always hard to tell what she was sizing you up for.

"Glad you could join us, James," said Mark with a half-teasing glance at Hellion. Mark was pretty easy-going when it came to, well, most everything, but he wasn't so even-handed as to not be a little annoyed when his colleagues didn't show up. Still, as was usual when Mark was irritated about something, the moment passed very quickly. Hey, it wasn't like he'd paid any money out of pocket for the pizza. "Come up and pull up a chair. And the pizza's free; it's on the school's dime. And we'll meet in our lair when we get a lair," he said to Alex with a wry smile. "Right now this is as close as we're going to get to some real action." Later, Edge would curse himself. Probability controllers shouldn't say things like that.

-

Up on the roof, Gravity Master was beginning to panic as his teleporter began growing brighter and brighter. "No, no, this isn't right! Someone's trying to tap into my signal!" His fingers flew frantically over the machine, trying to dim the growing cycle of its activation, but ultimately his youthful bravado failed him as it became more and more clear that the machine he'd built was going haywire. Yelping in fear, Lawrence Smalls hastily reprogrammed his gravity belt and flew away as fast as his device could carry him, a moment before the teleporter erupted in a flash of light and sent a wall of energy cascading down into the cafeteria, completely enveloping the table where the various Young Freedom member sat!

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