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Jack of all Blades

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Folks Jack Knows

September 12th, 2009

Hallowe'en Vignette

New Years Vignette

April 2010 Vignette

20 Questions

Timeline

September 12th, 2009 - This is a Stick Up

  • Jack attempts to stop Captain Knievel from robbing a gas station. This goes... poorly.

September 16th, 2009 - The Days of High Adventure
  • Jack finds himself in a strange, medieval version of Freedom City, complete with a knightly tournament!

September 22nd, 2009 - West End Warriors

  • Jack plan to take down one of Knievel's operations gets more than a few unexpected guests!

September 23rd, 2009 - Training in the Wharton State Forest
  • Jack heads out to the woods to brush up on his combat skills with the disciplined monk, Leon Mighty!

October 1st, 2009 - The Big Guns

  • Jack meets a new arrival to Freedom City: the alternate dimensional cowboy Colt!

October 16th, 2009 - Carnival in the Park
  • Erik takes a night off to visit Deedra's Travelling Menagerie with his sister while it's in town.

October 18th, 2009 - The Interceptors: Issue #0

  • Jack receives a mysterious invitation to join Freedom City's newest super team: The Interceptors!

October 31st, 2009 - Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-Legged Beasties
  • Ellie tags along as the Interceptors break in their new home with a spook-tacular Hallowe'en party!

November 10th, 2009 - Invasion! - West End

  • The Interceptors do their best to defend the West End against an overwhelming assault of supernatural forces!

  • Jack, uh... Jack dies. He get's better!

November 28th, 2009 - Interceptors! New Recruits

  • The Interceptors welcome a new member, the robotic hero Elektron! Jack pouts over the whole dying thing, the big baby.

December 19th, 2009 - Fisticuffs Fundraiser!
  • Jack participates in a boxing exhibition for charity. He gets to meet a personal hero: the gentleman adventurer Ace Danger!

December 19th, 2009 - Geiger Gal

  • Jack has an unexpected reunion which would probably be less awkward without all that Terminus radiation.

January 12th, 2010 - Interceptors: Intervention
  • Colt and Grim decide that they've had just about enough of Jack's bull and tell him so. He reacts... poorly.

January 12th, 2010 - Interceptors: Liquid Therapy

  • Erik and Billy deal with their problems like men: by getting drunk and punching out a college football team.

January 13th, 2010 - The Witch Doctor is IN
  • Grim calls in a favour with a friend on the force to get Jack's hellfire problem looked at. Things get a little trippy!

January 15th 2010 - The Good, The Bad, and The Extra Dimensional

  • Colt's got some troubles. Jack makes quesadillas!

February 2nd, 2010 - Surely You Jest
  • Jack proves that there's no wrong time to hit on a lady - even while she's trying to kill you.

February 4th, 2010 - One of These is Not Like the Other

  • Jack's a pretty grounded, street-level hero. So what's he doing fighting an evil version of the cosmically powered Dark Star?!

February 6th, 2010 - [interceptors] Zombie Powder is a Helluva Drug
  • Somebody is playing the gangs in the West End against each other and misled young people are paying the price.

February 7th, 2010 - S.H.A.D.O.W. over Freedom

  • Ace Danger recruits Jack and the young hero Edge to take on S.H.A.D.O.W. Aw yeah!

February 14th, 2010 - Life's Bazaar
  • Jack shows that nobody does 'swords and sorcery' quite like him.

February 28th, 2010 - Three of a Kind

  • Erik tries to get a few errands done around town when who should appear but Jaci O'Cups and Coinpurse Jack!

March 9th, 2010 - IN SPAAAAACE!
  • With space pirates and space tyrants out to catch a space princess, there's really only one place to go! Three guesses.

March 12th, 2010 - Green With Envy

  • What kind of plant could be so dangerous that even the Green Man wants it destroyed?

March 26th, 2010 - He Fights Meta Than You
  • While the Atom Family's out, Jack takes on the menacing Meta-Grue! And it is glorious. Oh, and Geckoman helps or whatever.

April 4th, 2010 - No Mutation Without Representation!

  • Jack earns his keep when an ArcheTech facility comes under attack, and gets a shot at some payback.

April 10th, 2010 - Public Service
  • Jack works with the brooding Avenger to evict some drug peddlers from the West End.

April 10th, 2010 - 8 Simple Rules...for Working with Jack

  • Meanwhile, Lynn invites Jack's sister over to the brownstone in an attempt to understand her teammate better.

April XX, 2010 - The Dragon Wakes
  • Doktor Archeville calls the Interceptors for help fight Dracula, but they're a little preoccupied with problems of their own!

April 19th, 2010 - Welcome Back, Kris!

  • An erstwhile teammate reappears, but just what has he been up to all this time?

May 7th, 2010 - Monsters in the Streets! - Greenback
  • Massive creatures appear throughout Freedom City and begin wreaking havoc! The Interceptors spring into action!

May 7th, 2010 - No Mercy

  • The Grue Invasion continues! The Interceptors and Young Freedom team up to protect Mercy Hospital.

May 23rd, 2010 - Fisticuffs 2: The Opening Credits
  • In the wake of the Grue Invasion, the heroes of Freedom City gather to test their mettle and learn a few new tricks.

May 23rd, 2010 - Fisticuffs 2: Dynamo vs Jack of All Blades

  • Jack squares off against a young hero who - unfortunately - reminds him a lot of himself.

June XX, 2010 - Interrupting Cow
  • Interrupting C- MOOOOO.

June XX, 2010 - Bananaphone

  • Erik gets an unexpected call followed by an extremely awkward conversation in a diner.

June XX, 2010 - Troubleshooter
  • Some rooftop meetings are a little more interesting than others. Jack meets Bombshell!

June 20th, 2010 - The Legacy of Al-Kazar: Happy Grimday!

  • It's Lynn's Birthday! Party time at the brownstone!

June 23rd, 2010 - "... And I'm a Mutant."
  • The Interceptors, and the country, watch as Alex Albright comes out as a Terminus Baby on national television.

June 24th, 2010 - Interceptors: The Sweet Science of Stabpunching

  • You can't always rely on your superpowers, so Erik decides to teach his teammates how to brawl the old fashioned way.

June 24th, 2010 - Stay On Target
  • Colt holds his own lesson as the Interceptors continue to train.

June 25th, 2010 - Of Martyrs and Men

  • Erik happens upon a mob harassing Alex shortly after her announcement, and gets a new perspective on the West End.

July 1st, 2010 - Me Like Hockey
  • The Espadas siblings are trying to take in a game at the Liberty Dome when the Crime League attacks!

July 3rd, 2010 - "Concert Auditions. Second Floor, 2B"

  • Jack happens upon a gathering of musicians and takes the opportunity to rock out!

July 5th, 2010 - A Case of Mistaken Identity
  • Jack meets someone on a rooftop who looks an awful lot like Avenger...

July 7th, 2010 - The SHADOW Falls

  • Jack and Grim go undercover when they get a tip about a panned museum theft.

August 9th, 2010 - Giant Dragon Bees!
  • Jack makes his peace with Wander the mature, adult way: fighting fire breathing bees the size of tanker trucks.

August 12th, 2010 - Crisis of Infinite Jacks

  • How many Jacks does it take to stabpunch a light bulb?

August 31st, 2010 - 20 Questions
  • Jack helps Vince fulfill a dream by appearing on his 'talk show'.

September 3rd, 2010 - Welcome to The Interceptors, Jill O'Cure

  • A brave new era for Jack of all Blades! New costume! New sidekick! New status quo!

September 12th, 2010 - The Church of Swordology
  • The Espadas family go out to Sunday Mass and meet St. Stephens' own Freedom Angel!

September 21st, 2010 - Meet the Interceptors!

  • Fulcrum brings Wander over the brownstone for a visit with the Indescribable Interceptors!

October 2nd, 2010 - Sword & Sheath
  • After helping Gaian Knight handle a duplicating thief, Jack offers a few pointers on swordsmanship.

October 3rd, 2010 - In A Handbasket

  • Jack and Jill arrive to stop a fire and square off with an Omegadrone! But is everything as it seems?

October 11th, 2010 - Flesh and Bone
  • Jill gets some healing tips from Fleur de Joie and advice of force fields from Supercape.

October 13th, 2010 - No Man's Land

  • After a month at Claremont, 'Jill Pique' still hasn't made many friends. Heading to the dorm common room, she meets Eve Martel.

October 27th, 2010 - Red Rover
  • Bombshell arrives at the brownstone to see if Jack can come out to play.

October 31st, 2010 - Unbalanced

  • Jack and Jill fight off hordes of cultists as supernatural forces wage war!

November 1st, 2010 - This Party's Better Than It Seems
  • Jill runs into Erin as the other girl opens a birthday package.

November 2nd, 2010 - All Your Bank Are Belong To Us

  • Returning from foiling a bank robbery, Wander and Cobalt Templar get some medical assistance from Jill O'Cure.

November 8th, 2010 - Takes A Thief
  • Talya arrives at the Interceptors' brownstone looking for some advice regarding a book she 'acquired'.

November 9th, 2010 - No Place Like Home

  • Trapped in a living fairy tale, can the Interceptors save the day and themselves?

November 29th, 2010 - The Hypotenuse is Equal to the Sum
  • Jack gets some timely assistance from Miss Americana dealing with Fear-Master.

December 1st, 2010 - Pink Panther

  • Talya calls Jack for a very special favour: she needs him to bail her out of jail!

December 24th, 2010 - Crisis on Infinite Holidays
  • Jack and Jill are recruited on a desperate mission. The stakes? The very fate of Christmas itself!

December 25th, 2010 - A Very Interceptors Chirstmas

  • The Interceptors gather to celebrate the holidays just like any other family.

January 13th, 2010 - Visiting Hours
  • Jill stops by the Lab to hang out with her new friend Dragonfly. It goes much better than she was expecting!

January 20th, 2010 - When Did They Get Robots?

  • Gabriel ends up in over his head when some bank robbers break out the heavily artillery. Enter Jack of all Blades and Jill O'Cure!

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Gather Information

DC 10: Over the past three years, an increasing number of muggings and armed robberies in the West End have been foiled by what the frustrated criminals have described as, 'a loudmouthed super.' The vigilante, reportedly going by the name 'Jack of all Blades', is a skilled swordsman with the ability to create blades made of solid flame.

DC 15: Jack of all Blades is known to work with Grimalkin, Colt and others as part of the lesser known team called The Interceptors.

DC 20: In addition to fire, Jack of all Blades is able to create swords made from a variety of energies, including those generated by other superhumans. His costumed identity seems to be thematically patterned after the Jack of Swords playing card, precursor to the modern Jack of Spades.

DC 25: Additional superhumans have been sighted patterned after the remaining three suits: Cups, Coins and Staves. The trio are antagonistic towards Jack of all Blades as well as each other. They have made numerous references to being part of a 'tournament'.

Knowledge: Streetwise

DC 10: A masked vigilante who first appeared a few years ago, Jack of all Blades has made his presence known in Freedom City's West End.

DC 15: A superhuman with the ability to create swords from effectively-solid energy, Jack of all Blades is known to banter almost incessantly, and is purported to be a shameless flirt. As such he is considered by local criminals not only to be a significant threat to their operations but extremely obnoxious as well.

DC 20: Most often responding to armed robberies and muggings, Jack of all Blades seems to hold a vehement distaste for firearms of all types. Threatening violence against innocent bystanders, particularly women, is a sure way to provoke an immediate and decisive response from the hero.

Knowledge: Arcane Lore

DC 20: Jack of all Blades has been quietly making inquiries amongst Freedom City's most established mystic heroes regarding a playing card in his possession.

DC 25: The card, a Jack of Swords, appears to be entirely unremarkable, but the young hero seems convinced that it has come connection to his superhuman abilities. The arcane experts he has consulted with have found no proof of this beyond conjecture.

DC 30: Various rare texts hold scattered references to four playing card suits (Cups, Coins, Staves and Swords) which seem to describe them as noble houses of considerable power. Given the names of the face cards, however, these are generally accepted to be imperfectly translated metaphors.

Knowledge: Popular Culture

DC 10: Jack of all Blades tends to avoid appearing on camera, but when he does he demonstrates a knack for crowd pleasing showmanship and shameless flirting.

DC 15: Jack managed to literally run circles around his teammate Grimalkin at a charity boxing match - while blindfolded! He also once took out the Meta-Grue with assistance from teen hero Geckoman in a brutally one-sided fight.

DC 20: Any native West Ender will proudly tell you that Jack is one of their own. Anyone who messes with the 'End has to deal with Jack, and vice versa.

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Introduction

Give a two or three word description of yourself. (Describe your character's concept.)

Energy Manipulating Swashbuckler

Do you have any nicknames, street names, titles, or nom de plume?

Jack of all Blades, Jack of Swords, The Scintillating Swordsman

What is your full birth name?

Erik Jean Espadas

Where do you live?

Modest two-level home in the West End of Freedom City

Why do you live there?

It's my family's home. I grew up there, and feel a sense of responsibility toward the community.

What do you perceive as your greatest strength?

An unbreakable spirit, a total refusal to quit and my unpredictability.

What do you perceive as your greatest weakness?

I tend to feel outclassed by foes with stronger superpowers.

Physical Traits

How old are you? (Chronological age as well as age category.)

21 years. (Born 1988)

What is your sex?

Male.

What is your race?

French-Latino. Or is that ethnicity? Eh, whatever.

How tall are you?

5’11’’

How much do you weigh?

145 lbs

What is your general body type, frame, bone structure, and poise?

Lithe, with muscle stretched over a wiry frame. Angular features, with pronounced cheek bones, shoulder blades, etc. Acrobatic posture, constantly moving, very fluid.

What is your skin colour?

Medium tan.

What is your hair colour?

Dusty brown, but I wear a black wig as Jack of Blades

What is your hair style?

Shorn short; the wig is long enough to be wavy.

Do you have any facial hair?

Frequent stubble; I don’t shave as often as I should.

What is your eye colour?

Dark blue, ‘midnight blue’ if you’re looking to get poetic.

How attractive are you?

I’d say I stand out in a crowd as having strong, attractive features. I haven’t gotten any complaints, anyway!

What is your most distinguishing feature?

Long, narrow and perfectly straight nose, I guess? Nothing too unusual.

Do you have any scars, tattoos, or birthmarks?

Various minor scars, easily hidden under regular clothing. Hey, a guy can’t dodge every attack, y’know?

What is your handedness (left/right/ambidextrous)?

Right handed, but I’m reasonably competent with my left as well.

Do you resemble some currently known person?

No one in particular.

What kind of clothing do you wear?

My costume consists of a knee-length, deep blue jacket with crimson trim, cut in a jaunty, high-collared style and worn open over a black body suit and boots. A crimson bandana serves as my mask, attached to a black wig of wavy hair which helps to conceal my true identity. The finishing touch is a matching red sash around my waist. It all flaps around behind me nicely.

Do you wear makeup?

Sometimes, to cover bruises.

What sort of vocal tone do you have?

Smooth and melodic, with a wry undertone. Sort of an Errol Flynn thing.

History

Where is your homeland?

The United States.

Are you aware of its history?

I’m pretty well read concerning Silver Age heroes and any related history.

Are you patriotic or a social outcast?

I care more about individual people than the country as a whole, but I guess I’m reasonably patriotic if it comes down to it.

What are your opinion of home?

There are a lot of problems, but it’s worth protecting and fighting for.

Where is your home town?

Freedom City.

Are your real reasons for becoming an adventurer different from what you tell others?

I mostly tell people I'm in it for the thrills and the women, but it’s more about protecting my home and helping those in need, honestly.

How far would you go to keep such secrets from being revealed? What would you do if the truth became known?

Eh, I’d just laugh it off; I’m sort of uncomfortable with serious discussions.

What do you fear would occur if the truth became known?

Heh, people might start taking me more seriously!

Do you have any particularly high or low ability scores?

I’m pretty crazy quick, and charming, too.

How have these scores affected your life so far?

I did well in high school athletics and I’ve always been fairly popular and charming without much effort.

What about your race, growing up were you in the majority or a minority?

A minority, but thanks to my old man not a visualy obvious one.

Did this impact your outlook in any way?

Not particularly. My sister and I are second-generation Americans (on Mom’s side, anyway), and about as assimilated as you’re going to get.

How do you feel about other races?

I grew up in a very diverse community; I rarely consider race as any kind of factor.

Were there any traumatic experiences in your early years (death of a family member, abandonment, orphaned at an early age)?

Well, my father left when I was four, but it never bothered me much.

Briefly describe a defining moment in your childhood and how it influenced your life.

The Terminus Invasion; the stories my mother told me led to a fascination with super heroes. Too many good people gave their all in that one to let anything happen to the city now, y’know?

What stupid things did you do when you were younger?

I tried to imitate acrobatic heroes; ended up with a lot of scrapes and bruises.

Which toys from your childhood have you kept?

Spitfire Jones Hallowe’en costume.

Why? What do they mean to you? If you didn't keep any, why not? What did you do to them all?

It was the closest I got to being like my heroes for a long time. Plus my mother doesn’t throw anything out from when Ellie and I were little.

Do you have any deep, dark secrets in the past that may come back to haunt you?

Not really.

Are you who you claim to be?

Other than the secret identity thing, yep.

Do you have any sort of criminal record?

Are you kidding? My mom would have disowned me! So no.

How do you view the heroes/legends of your country?

Mostly with awe, but also as a challenge to live up to or surpass.

Family

Who were your parents?

Gina Espadas (mother), John Pique (father)

Were you raised by them? If not, then why didn't they and who did raise you?

Raised by my mother, father left when I was young.

What was their standing in the community?

Lower middle class, but well respected.

Did your family stay in one area or move around a lot?

West Freedom City, born and raised! ... yeah, I went there.

How did you get along with their parents?

Mom was always my greatest role model. Shut up, she’s awesome.

How would your parents describe you? Answer this in the voice of your mother, then in your father's.

Stubborn and foolhardy, but with a strong sense of right and wrong.

Do you have any siblings? If so how many and what were their names? How did you get along with each of your siblings?

Ellie Espadas, my younger sister. She’s my only real confidant, and the reason I do a lot of what I do.

What was your birth position in the family?

Oldest.

List all current knowledge of family locations, spouses, children, birth dates, schooling, and any important incidents that only you and they might remember.

Four years younger than me, Ellie is in her senior year of high school. She discovered my secret identity after I took a pretty nasty thrashing, and probably saved my life with her first aid training.

Do you stay in touch with them or have you become estranged?

Still live together.

Do you love or hate one member of the family in particular?

I’d do pretty much anything for my sister.

Is any member of the family special to you in any way (perhaps, as a confidant, mentor, or arch-rival)?

Again, Ellie is the only person I can talk to about being Jack of all Blades.

Are there any black (or white) sheep in the family (including you)?

My father, to an extent.

If so, who are they and how did they "gain" the position?

Left when I was four, before Ellie was born.

Do you have a notorious or celebrated ancestor?

Not that I knows of.

If so, what did this person do to become famous or infamous?

NA

Do you try to live up to the reputation of your ancestor, try to live it down, or ignore it?

NA

Do you ever want to have a family of your own someday?

Don’t think about it much, but probably, yeah.

Would anything change your mind on this issue and if so, what?

I’d have to know Ellie and my mom were taken care of, and I’d probably have to retire from super heroics, which would be tough, not to mention being a one-woman man!

What type of person would be your ideal mate?

A beautiful and intelligent woman who could challenge me; probably another acrobatic hero, so that I could share that part of my life with her, too.

Relationships

Do you have any close friends? If so, who and what are they like?

Not really; I lost touch with most of my old friends after high school and don’t have much time for a social life now.

What is the history of their relationship(s) with you?

I was pretty popular, but never had a specific group of friends I was particularly close with.

Do you currently have a best friend whom you would protect with your reputation or your life?

My sister is probably my best friend. Kinda lame, but true.

If so, who are they and what caused you to feel so close to them? What would have to happen for you to end this relationship?

It would take a massive betrayal for me to turn my back on Ellie, something that ran against everything I believe in, including family. I can’t even imagine.

Do you have any bitter enemies?

The other Jacks. Those guys are Grade-A crazy beans, and they seem to know more about my powers than I do.

If so, who are they, what are they like, and what is the history of their feud with you?

Jaci o' Cups can add the force of any attack to her own strength, Coinpurse Jack is a probability manipulator and Jakken Staff is a skilled magic user. They’ve all attacked me on sight, making cryptic references to a Tournament of Suits. All three have proven to be dangerous and capable foes, forcing me to play upon their animosity towards each other to escape. I’m not sure how ‘evil’ they are, per se, but they’ll each do anything it takes to eliminate any of the other Jacks, including me.

Have you defeated them before?

... not as such, no.

How might these enemies seek to discomfit you in the future?

They’d certainly be willing to endanger innocents to draw me out.

Which person(s) or group(s) are you most loyal to?

My family.

Who is your most trusted ally?

Ellie.

Who do you trust, in general?

Most of Freedom City’s heroes, police officers, attractive women.

Who do you despise and why?

Gun-toting thugs; an armed robbery gone wrong landed my mother in a wheelchair.

Name seven things you hate in others.

Close-mindedness, Selfishness, Self Pity, Sense of Entitlement, Dour Outlook, Refusal to Accept Responsibility, Disloyalty

Is your image consistent?

Not really; I come across as a bit of a flaky glory hound, but in a crunch I’d say I’m surprisingly selfless and dependable.

Do you deliberately present yourself differently in different situations, and how?

I guess I play the fool largely because I’m uncomfortable with serious topics and prefer to avoid them.

What would you die for?

To protect the innocent, to permanently end a significant threat to those I care most about.

What is the worst thing someone has done to you?

Probably when my mother was injured; that pretty much shot my chances at living the life I thought I would. More importantly, seeing someone I love hurt really messes with me.

What is your general reaction to an attractive member of the opposite sex who lets you know they are available?

I’ve been called an incorrigible flirt; I do show off even more than usual around women. Given my double life, however, I’m wary of an actual relationship.

How do you get along with others of the same adventuring class?

I tend to get along well with other acrobatic, wisecracking heroes, so long as the competition for the spotlight doesn’t become too fierce.

Have you lost any loves?

I dated a few different girls in high school, but nothing really long term or serious.

How did you handle the situation (short & long term)?

Honestly? My pattern of keeping people at arm’s length worries me a bit.

Who would miss you should you go missing?

My mother and sister, any of my various employers, particularly at the movie theatre.

How close are you to your adventuring companions?

I’m a lone wolf by default, but I wouldn’t be against joining a team.

What do they not know about you?

I keep my true identity a complete secret even among heroes I trusts.

Are you a member of any house, guild, organisation, or church? What is your level of involvement?

Nope, free agent!

Personality & Beliefs

Do you, or did you, have any role models?

My mother, a FCPD officer.

Do you have any heroes or idols, either contemporary or from legend?

Golden Age heroes like Spitfire Jones and la Renard Rogue.

Did you ever become disillusioned with former heroes or idols? If so, why and what were the circumstances?

It’s tough knowing how they died, but I’m more concerned with the way they lived.

When did you decide to become an adventurer?

When I discovered my powers, I guess.

Why have you chosen to risk your life as a career?

I have a strong sense of responsibility to the community and has a passionate hatred of those who would hurt the innocent. Heh, ooh, dramatic!

What do you expect to get out of being an adventurer? What, if anything, would make you stop adventuring?

I’m hoping to make a difference; I’m acutely aware that my life expectancy is not terrific, given my chosen field.

Do you have any dreams or ambitions? If not, why?

To become a recognised hero in Freedom City, to leave behind a legend like my heroes.

What are your short term goals (what would you like to be doing within a year)?

Make new allies in the super hero community, earn enough money to put Ellie through med school, figure out what the deal is with this ‘Tournament of Suits’.

What are your long term goals (what would you like to be doing twenty years from now)?

Probably still operating as Jack of Blades, though nearing retirement. I’d like to have found someone to share my life with.

If these goals seem at odds with each other, or with your dreams, how do you reconcile the differences?

I don’t think too much about my own desires; I’ve gotten used to looking after other people.

Do you have any great rational or irrational fears or phobias? If so, what are the origins of, or reasons behind them?

That my super heroics will somehow endanger my family.

How do you react when this fear manifests itself?

I’m very protective of my secret identity.

What are your attitudes regarding material wealth?

It’d sure be nice to be independently wealthy!

Are you miserly with your share of the wealth, or do you spend it freely?

I doesn’t spend much on myself, just pay bills and save for Ellie’s tuition.

Do you see wealth as a mark of success, or just as a means to an end?

Just a means to an end.

How do you generally treat others?

Very friendly, a bit jocular.

Do you trust easily (perhaps too easily) or not?

Fairly trusting, besides my secret identity. I’m willing to take a chance on people.

Are you introverted (shy and withdrawn) or extroverted (outgoing)?

Extreme outgoing as Jack of Blades, somewhat less so normally.

Are you a humble soul or blusteringly proud?

Definitely prone of showboating, but good naturedly, not arrogantly.

What habits do you find most annoying in friends?

Taking themselves too seriously, self-involvement.

What are your most annoying habits?

Constantly flirting, not appearing to take anything seriously.

Is there any race, creed, alignment, religion, class, profession, political viewpoint, or the like against which you are strongly prejudiced, and why?

Anyone wielding a gun, because of my mother’s accident.

What is your favourite food?

Movie theatre popcorn. It’s different from the stuff you get in the store.

What is your favourite drink?

Ginger ale. I know, but I can’t really afford to get drunk, now can I? I’m always ‘on duty’.

What is your favourite treat (desert)?

Not big into deserts; ice-cream waffles, maybe?

Do you favour a particular cuisine?

Take-out; I’m a lousy cook.

Do you savour the tastes when eating or "wolf down" your food?

Food is fuel!

Do you like food mild or heavily spiced?

Spicy can be good, provided there’s a drink nearby.

Are there any specific foodstuffs that you find disgusting or refuse to eat?

Not a big fan of fish as a rule.

What are your favourite colour(s)?

Dark blue, crimson.

Is there any colour that you dislike?

Neon fuchsia, actually.

Do you have a favourite (or hated) song, type of music, or instrument?

I love the instrumentals from old movie sword fight scenes.

If you have a favourite scent, what is it?

Musty old novels.

What is your favourite type of animal?

Cats in general; any animal associated with tricksters.

Are you allergic to any kinds of animals?

Nope.

Is there anything that enrages you?

Gun violence, violence against women.

Is there anything which embarrasses you?

Not a big fan of my middle name.

Do you enjoy "roughing it", or do you prefer your creature comforts?

I doesn’t exactly live in the lap of luxury, but I’m definitely a city person.

Do you have a patron deity?

Not really. I mean, I don’t go around smiting evildoers in anybody’s name.

Are you devout or impious?

I’m not particularly religious.

Do you actively worship and proselytise or do you simply pay lip service?

Neither.

What lengths would you go to defend your faith?

Non-issue.

Was your faith influenced or molded by anyone special?

It makes you a little cynical when there’s all kinds of supers and aliens flying around claiming to be gods. I guess I’m effectively agnostic, when it comes down to it.

Do you belong to a dominant church, or an independent church, cult, or sect (and is the group accepted, frowned upon, or considered heretics)?

Not so much.

Will you kill?

No; that’s the line between heroes and villains as I see it.

When did you decide (or learn) that you would?

NA

When do you consider it okay to kill (under what circumstances)?

If it was the only option left to protect my family, and I didn’t expect to be coming back from it.

When do you consider it wrong to kill (under what circumstances)?

All the time.

What would you do if someone else attempted to (or successfully did) kill under your "wrong" circumstances, what would be your reaction?

Intervene if possible; shock and disgust otherwise.

What if it was your enemy?

Take them down, hard.

What if it was your friend?

Try to understand, but it’d be pretty tough.

What if the opponent was not in control of his or her own actions (under duress, charmed, dominated, possessed)?

Try to take them out without hurting them; go after the controlling force if possible.

What would you do if something were stolen from you?

Find out who took it and get it back!

What would you do if you were badly insulted publicly?

Publicly refute the point; I certainly wouldn’t take it lying down.

What would you do if a good friend or relative were killed by means other than natural death?

Go to a very, very dark place.

What is the one task you would absolutely refuse to do?

Kill; significantly betray a trust.

What do you consider to be the worst crime someone could commit and why?

Hurting someone else just because they can. I just can’t fathom that kind of selfish thinking.

How do you feel about government (rulers) in general? Why do you feel that way?

I think they tend to forget about the little people, but are generally alright.

Do you support the current government of your homeland?

I’m not too political, but sure.

If so, how far are you willing to go to defend the government? If not, do you actively oppose it?

I’d certainly help fight off any kind of hostile take-over.

What form of government do you believe is the best (democracy, monarchy, anarchy, aristocratic rule, oligarchy, matriarchy) and why?

Democracy, no question.

Do you have any unusual habits or dominant personality traits that are evident to others?

Always like to make a dramatic entrance.

If so, describe them and how you acquired them, as well as when they might be more noticeable and what causes them.

I’ll often wait for a set-up for a one-liner before revealing himself; I get a bit annoyed if I’m forced to act before then. It’s about standards, really.

Do you have any unusual or nervous mannerisms, such as when talking, thinking, afraid, under stress, or when embarrassed?

I tend to move around a lot when thinking; jumping about, pacing on my hands.

What is your most treasured possession?

Old playing card, the Jack of Swords.

If your life were to end in 24 hours, what 5 things would you do in those remaining hours?

Make sure another hero would be watching over my neighbourhood.

Run across the rooftops of Freedom City.

Reveal my identity to my mother.

Spend time with my family.

Kiss every attractive woman I came across.

Career & Training

Where and how were you educated?

Public high school in Freedom City.

Who trained you in your adventuring class(es)?

Learned gymnastics and fencing from gym teachers, eventually sought training outside of school on my own.

What was your relationship with your teacher(s)/mentor(s)?

Well liked but not particularly close.

Is this person or institution still in existence?

Sure, my sister’s in her senior year at the same high school.

Were you a prize student or did you just barely pass?

Pretty much average academically. I worked hard enough to do well, but not stand out.

Look at your skills. How did you acquire them (especially the unusual ones)?

I’m not completely sure how I got my powers, honestly.

Have you ever done anything else for a living?

I work as a projectionist, various other odd jobs.

How do you function in combat (manoeuvres, weaknesses)?

Lots of leaping about, constantly moving and talking, dodging attacks while looking for an opening.

Have you ever received any awards or honours?

I was offered some modest athletic scholarships, but I turned them down.

Is there anything that you don't currently know how to do that you wish you could?

I’d like to learn some detective skills someday. You can’t always rely on being in the right place at the right time.

Are you envious of others who can do such things in a good-natured way or are you sullen and morose about it?

Ah, good-naturedly; I’m not the jealous type. I suppose I’m a bit envious of Claremont High graduates, though, since they had a lot of advantages I didn’t.

Lifestyle & Hobbies

When not adventuring, what is your normal daily routine?

Work, work and more work. There are bills to pay.

How do you feel and react when this routine is interrupted for some reason?

Honestly? A bit relieved.

What are your hobbies when you are not adventuring or training?

Love old movies and pulp novels.

What do you do for relaxation? What things do you do for enjoyment? What interests do you have?

In a lot of ways, being Jack of Blades is my way of relaxing; it’s certainly an outlet.

How do you normally dress when not in your adventuring gear?

Fitted t-shirt and well-worn jeans topped with an undone button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

What do you normally wear in bed at home?

Just boxers.

What do you normally wear in bed while adventuring?

I usually still sleep at home; otherwise, in my costume, minus the jacket and boots.

Do you wear any identifiable jewellery?

My mask or the sash around my waist, sort of? I guess those are more like ‘accessories’.

Where do you normally put your weapons, magic items, or other valuables when you are sleeping?

My coat has a few hidden pockets for that sort of thing. My ‘swords’ disappear when I’m not consciously sustaining them.

What morning or evening routines do you normally have?

I generally patrol my neighbourhood during the evening.

Do these change when you are adventuring?

I might be preoccupied with a threat on a larger scale.

Travel: how do you get around locally?

Jumping from building to building, lots of acrobatics. I own a bicycle, too.

Do you have a Last Will and Testament?

Actually, yes. I know how dangerous being a super hero can be.

What does it say?

It leaves everything to Ellie, on the condition that she goes to medical school and becomes a doctor.

Miscellaneous

What would you like to be remembered for after your death?

As a hero who laughed in the face of evil, and never compromised his morals.

What kind of threat do you present to the public?

Well, I am a masked vigilante.

If your features were to be destroyed beyond recognition, is there any other way of identifying your body?

Dental records? Sheesh, morbid.

As a player, if you could, what advice would you give your character? Speak as if he/she were sitting right here in front of you. Use proper tone so they might heed your advice...

Look, Erik, you can’t keep doing all this on your own. I know you like to shoulder all the responsibility yourself, but that’s letting your pride make you stupid. Find some people you can trust, and let them in a bit. That goes for your everyday life as well as heroics.

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TV Tropes

Erik's Action Mom, a FCPD beat cop, did her best to make up for his Disappeared Dad. She did a good job, too, despite giving both of her children Alliterative Names. Once she was shot and forced into a wheelchair by a Token Motivational Nemesis (explaining why Eric Doesn't Like Guns) , however, he recieved a partial Promotion to Parent, working a string of part time jobs due to their Perpetual Poverty, and looking after his sister Ellie. He can sometimes take this a little too far, becoming the Knight Templar Big Brother, but she returns the favour when he's injured as Jack of all Blades, making use of her skills as a Medic.

On top of those Great Responsibilities, Eric suffers from the Samaritan Syndrome. In particular he'll do anything to Save The Girl, Short Of Killing. Sure, he could probably solve a lot of his problems with a couple of robberies of his own, but Screw The Money, He Has Rules!

A Deadpan Snarker, Jack of all Blades Shall Taunt You, explaining quite clearly The Reason You Suck (chances are You Fight Like A Cow). Regardless, he's certain to be Defiant To The End. Around attractive women this taunting turns to innuendo, and he runs the risk of becoming a Dionysus.

Erik can create a variety of really Cool Swords, such as the Flaming Sword or Laser Blade, by manipulating Pure Energy. He seems to have recieved these powers due to Random Selection. Erik also displays Implausible Fencing Powers, such as Flynning and Zorro Marking his foes with a spade shape.

HIs costume consists of a Badass Longcoat (of the third type) over a Civvie Spandex bodysuit. He also benefits from Mask Power and tops things of with a Sash of Asskicking.

Eric has not one Evil Counterpart, but three! There's the beautful but competition obsessed Jaci o' Cups, the self-involved profiteer Coinpurse Jack and the grimly humourless battlemage Jakken Staff. They're collectively determined to drag Eric into the Inevitable Tournament they keep mentioning.

Finally, let's face it, 'Jack of all Blades' is an Incredibly Lame Pun.

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September 12, 2009

Ellie Espadas awoke to the sound of the pager hidden under her pillow vibrating softly. She shook off her weariness; a quick glance at her alarm clock confirmed that it was nearly midnight. Dressing quickly in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, she grabbed her black bag of medical supplies and quietly stepped into the back yard of her family's modest home in Freedom City's West End, careful not to wake her mother. Outside, propped up against their fence, she found the battered form of her brother.

Erik had removed his mask and wig, leaving them in a pile atop his greatcoat. His black body suit didn't show any undue wear, but blood stained his face and Ellie could tell by the way that he was breathing that his ribs were causing him considerable pain. The younger Espadas moved swiftly to his side, and began gently examining his head. "What'd you do, headbutt a brick wall?" she asked exasperatedly.

The injured superhero gave a hacking chuckle, regretting it immediately as his mouth filled with blood. Spitting it out onto the grass, he turned back to his sister. "Just about, only replace 'brick wall' with 'Captain Knievel's fist.'"

Ellie raised an eyebrow as she checked for signs of a concussion under the short, dusty brown hair that matched the shade of her shoulder length locks, left out of their customary ponytail in her haste. "Oh, wonderful," she said dryly. "Isn't he that nutso 'roid-rage freak who escaped from his own trial? I thought he'd disappeared."

"Apparently he's back," Erik replied with a grimace, "and 'roid-ragier than ever. Robbing a 7-11 with some thugs. Took out the help and got the cashier away safe, but..." He gestured at his injuries with frustration, coughing again with a wince. "I mean, laser whip? Who has a laser whip?" he asked indignantly.

"Captain Knievel, I gather," Ellie deadpanned as she snapped her bag open and rummaged through her medical supplies. A pair of small bandages dealt with the most severe scrapes on her brother's face, and a cold pack wrapped in a dishcloth saw to any swelling. "Shirt," she demanded tersely. When Erik gave her a reluctant look, the seventeen-year-old rolled her eyes. "Suck it up, tough guy." Leaning forward, the swordsman undid the snaps along his back to his waist, stiffly pulling the top of his body suit over his arms to lie in his lap. The revealed torso was marked with numerous scars of varying length, some faint enough to be all but invisible in the dim light, others a puckered white.

Ellie quickly examined Erik's ribs, ignoring his strangled protests. "Well, it doesn't look like anything's broken, just bashed up a bit. Take something for the pain and use that heating muscle cream I gave you. More importantly, take a couple of bloody nights off, you maniac." She gave her sibling a stern glare as he helped him to his feet.

"No can do, sis," Erik grunted as he stood."Gotta get back out there, gotta keep training." He recited the words like a mantra, and Ellie wondered if he was addressing her or himself.

"Right, because the city can't possibly do without your amazing services," the young woman snapped angrily, immediately regretting it. She had long since come to terms with Erik's almost compulsive need to use his abilities to battle crime, but as his sister and as a prospective medical student she knew he was pushing himself too hard, and risked burning out.

For his part, Erik only shook his head determinedly. "I didn't stop the bad guy, but if I hadn't been there, that cashier might have taken this beating instead." He forced his battered frame to shrug. "Just 'cause you can't get everything right doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can, you know?" After a few steps, he stumbled, almost tumbling to the ground before Ellie caught his arm and righted him. His sister gave Eric a flat look as she helped him gradually make his way inside. "Alright, so maybe one night off."

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Erik Espadas sat in his room, head resting on the arms folded across the back of his chair, staring at the costume lying on his bed. The eye holes in the crimson bandana seemed to stare back at him, and the young West Ender had the unsettling feeling of staring down an unblinking opponent. His mouth felt dry and chalky and his hands itched to snatch up the mask and put it on.

He'd been patrolling his neighbourhood as the swashbuckling Jack of all Blades for about three years now. At first it had just been a few blocks, to make sure the muggers and vandals didn't get too close to the modest home he shared with his mother and sister. Over the months the area he considered his responsibility kept expanding, growing to include the entire West End, even seeping into the rest of Freedom City.

Erik had started carrying the costume with him everywhere he went, 'just in case,' he'd told himself. He began looking for any excuse to become Jack, travelling past his usual borders in search of fights he couldn't always win. It consumed more and more of his time, to the point where he realised he'd begun to sleep less and even turn down extra hours at his various jobs. That, he supposed, had been the tip off. Before, he could always argue that he had a responsibility to the city to be out there, protecting the public, but he had a greater responsibility to support his family, and every dollar helped. Erik had been forced to admit that he was spending more time as Jack because he liked it.

And why not? As Jack he could do things Erik could never do; leap from rooftop to rooftop, foiling crimes and spouting quips, all while blissfully anonymous behind his mask and wig. It was the power fantasy of everyone who had grown up with superhumans soaring overhead made reality. For a young man who's obligations had far outweighed his years, the freedom of it was intoxicating.

That was the trouble, Erik mused darkly. It was like a drug, a rush that never got old but demanded more and more of him. Jack of all Blades was only ever supposed to be a mask for Erik Espadas the wear, to protect those important to him, to honour his heroes. More and more, however, it seemed to be the other way around. He'd caught himself thinking of himself as 'Jack' more than once now, even when out of costume, and every moment as 'Erik' felt like a performance, an elaborate con. He was losing himself to it, and the worst part was that he wasn't sure he minded.

There was an easy answer, of course. He could simply stop being a superhero. It wasn't like the city couldn't manage without his meagre abilities; there were a dozen more to take his place. He could throw the mask away and let Erik Espadas slowly return to being. One last act of heroism: saving himself.

The sound of wailing police sirens cut through the heavy silence, growing louder then softer as they passed by outside. Erik squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath. When his eyes snapped open, Jack scooped up his great coat from the bed, and was out the window, speeding after the sirens moments later.

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Folks Jack Knows

The Interceptors

Geckoman - Animalistic Acrobat

  • Mini-Me! Alright, fine, the kid's more than proven himself, but don't tell him I said so.

Jill O'Cure - Sarcastic Sibling
  • She ain't heavy, she's my sister. Although she could stand to lay of the-- not the face! Not the face!

Vince - Gregarious A.I. Aide

  • I love this guy! Dude's a computer and he's got better comedic timing than most of the humans I know.

Willow - Ancient Amor
  • She's my immortal, inscrutable baby-momma. We... click. It's complicated.

Reserve Members

Doktor Archeville - Mostly Mad Scientist

  • He messed up. End of story.

Fulcrum - Statuesque Paragon
  • ...I just hope she's okay, wherever she ended up. Archeville better bring her back in one piece.

Close Friends and Family

Colt - Gunslinger From A Parallel World

  • Colt's solid. Knows when to keep his cool and when to unload with both barrels. Terrific wingman, before he settled down.

Dragonfly - Earnest Inventor
  • Well, I wouldn't let just anybody date my sister, y'know. Mara's been through some stuff but keeps on going. I like her.

Dynamo - Spastic Speedster

  • He's a totally different person since he came back from the future. More interested in research now than fighting.

Grimalkin - Sprightly Shapeshifter
  • Grim's good people. Total heart-of-the-team, den mother type. If she'd just shut up about feelings now and then...

Former Interceptors

All-Star - Overconfident Powerhouse

  • I swear, this guys drives me up the wall. Nice to have all that muscle in a fight, but no idea where he is these days.

Blink - Teleporting Ex-Thief
  • About the only person I know who's as hard on themselves as I am. Shouldn't be surprised the teleporter disappeared, really.

Razorwing - Brooding Teenage Vigilante

  • Guess the 'redemption' thing didn't take. ...yeah, I don't want to talk about Razorwing.

Velocity - All-American Speedster
  • Booked it after the demon invasion. Can't say I blame her.

Heroes

Ace Danger - Gentleman Adventurer

  • Holy snap! Ace freaking Danger! So cool, I swear.

Arrowhawk - Archer Extraordinaire
  • Fun guy; I wonder if he does parties? Possibly the only hero around who like guns even less than me.

Atlas - Hulking Heavy

  • He's about a bazillion pounds of muscle, but c'mon, he takes time to sign autographs for orphans. Good guy.

Avenger - Vampiric Vindicator
  • "Grr, argh, brooding is srs bsns." Whatever, dude. You're rich and happily married with a kid. Lighten up.

Breakdown - Jukebox Jerk

  • Jeez, ease up on the sugar intake, kid. If the gossip is true, he went off the deep-end big time.

Citizen - Cyber Sidekick
  • I guess he's Miss A's nephew or something? I assume he's a good kid, but we've barely met.

Darkstar - Living Cosmic Energy

  • All that cosmic power and he wouldn't know a joke if it bit him on the black hole...

Dead Head - Heavy Metal Zombie
  • Pretty much the most easy going undead you're like to meet. He's a chill dude, I like him, even if he is kinda gross.

Edge - Positive Probability Controller

  • Not sure how I feel about anyone who smiles that much being able to blow things up like that...

Equinox - Black Magic Woman
  • Lady can sling a fireball, I tell you what. Takes a lot on her shoulders, but who am I to talk?

Fleur de Joie - Flower Child

  • So, she runs an entire planet filled with giant, talking bees and makes cookies. Everyone's fave Mother Nature.

Gaian Knight - Earth Mover
  • Man, it's a crime he doesn't know how to use that sword, but not everyone can be as fly as me.

Harrier - Freed Omegadrone

  • Starting a barfight over a lady's honor makes a good impression with me. I've got Steve's back if he needs it.

Hellion - Demonic Dilettante
  • Not a big fan of the hellfire, gotta say. Little full of himself, too. I know, glass houses, but still.

Ironclad - Big Brain Battlesuit

  • Friend-of-a-girlfriend-of-a-sister scenario, but she seems to know her freaky science stuff well enough.

Gabriel - Pious Stalwart
  • Does not shy away from speechifying, that's for sure. I wonder if he's even considered politics?

Midnight II - Silent Shadow

  • No way this is the original guy from back in the day. ...right?

Miss Americana The Nation's Sweetheart
  • Man, they don't make 'em like than anymore, huh? Uh, I mean how intelligent and driven she is, obviously.

Nick Cimitiere - Psychobilly Necromancer

  • Pretty much my go-to guy for magic stuff. Seems like he's got every supernatural spook in his little black book.

Phantom - Interdimensional Guardian
  • When I met her she was totes preggers with a lil' vamp and her friend had just 'died', so... she handles stress well?

Scholar - Resurrecting Alien

  • Looking pretty fine for a lady who died in my arms right after we met! Nice enough, but way stressed out.

Victory - High-Flying Cyborg
  • I have trouble trusting military types, but Victory seems like a pretty straight-forward good guy.

Wander - Aggressive Amazon

  • Definitely intense; there's more going on there than she says. I think we're more or less okay with each other now.

Wesley Knight - Life Controller
  • Nice enough guy, really mellow, but... I'm sorry, those tentacle are just creepy.

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New Years 2010 Vingette

Though it was the middle of a winter night, Pyramid Plaza was filled with the warmth of New Year’s celebrators, bundled against the cold and crowded together to welcome a new beginning amid the noise and spectacle of Freedom City’s annual festivities. With so many super geniuses and enhanced intelligences living together, Freedom was able to do much better than a simple ball drop. This year Daedalus had devised a carefully timed light show, designed to reach its climax as the clock struck midnight.

As one of the spotlights arced its beam across the city’s skyline, it caught the silhouettes of a pair of figures atop the Rhodes Foundation building. The night breeze lifted Jack of all Blades’ great coat, spreading it out behind him and blurring the definition of his lithe outline against the night sky. Across from the swordsman, a blonde pixie cut, bright red top and pale skin flushed with cold ensured that Jaci o’ Cups stood out in the darkness like a beacon. Her only concession to the winter chill was a bomber jacket, unzipped with the sleeves rolled up. If the temperature bothered her, her broad smirk gave no such indication.

"What’s the game, Rose?" Jack asked cooly. "Why tip me off that you were going to try to pull something here tonight? Why’d you want me here?"

The scion of the House of Cups put on an exaggerated pout. "Aw, how’d you know it was me?"

The swashbuckler snorted and crossed his arms. "Please. Subtlety has never been your... strong suit."

"Argh, a card pun?" Rose rolled her eyes. "I thought we’d agreed to avoid those. They’re just too easy."

Far below them the crowd began the final count down to the new year. 10... 9... 8...

The corner of Jack’s mouth quirked upward. "I‘m serious, Rose. What’s this about?"

6... 5...

Tapping her chin, Rose set her mouth in a thin line of mock earnestness. "Well, I guess a gal’s just gotta stop trying to be subtle, then." With that, she leaped toward the hero.

2... 1...

Caught off guard, Jack hastily reached for his lighter but it was too late. Before he could defend himself, Rose’s arms here around his neck and he lips were planted firmly on his own. Surprise gave way to thoughtless pleasure, as the hand thrown out to block her lunge snaked around her waist and he returned the kiss.

Happy New Year!

A kaleidoscope of multihued lasers rebounded off of mirrors, criss-crossing across the sky like futuristic fireworks. The heirs of rival houses atop the Rhodes building were oblivious to it all.

Finally breaking the kiss, Rose leapt back as quickly as she’d advanced, balancing on the edge of the rooftop. She offered the stunned Jack a sloppy salute. "See you soon, lover," she smirked before stepping off into the night air.

Jack rushed forward just in time to see Jaci o’ Cups punch a fist into the side of the building, tearing a gutter down the skyscraper to slow her fall before creating a small crater as she landed in the street. Her superhuman powers shrugged off the impact, and squinting the swashbuckler could just barely make out the woman disappearing into the crowd.

Stepping back, Jack shook his head. "Gotta get me a grappling hook..." he grinned.

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April 1st, 2006

"Ellie!" Eric Espadas ducked his head into his family’s kitchen, dufflebag in one hand and a long piece of colourful foam in the other. Seated at the table, his younger sister looked up, her expression the picture of innocent inquiry. "I’m late for practice and all of my foils have been replaced with pool noodles," Eric continued through gritted teeth. "You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"Couldn’t tell you," Ellie replied lightly, busying herself with her breakfast.

Her brother gave her a flat look. "Right. How’s the cereal?"

The younger Espadas let her mouthful drop back into the bowl with a grimace. "Switched the salt and sugar? Really?"

Eric shrugged. "I’m a traditionalist," he noted through a broad grin.

April 1st, 2008

"You threw out all my black nail polish!" Ellie accused as her brother moved about the kitchen.

Closing the fridge, Eric quirked an eyebrow. "Pretty sure that was the good taste fairy, hermanita."

His sister crossed her arms with a huff. "How’s the cereal?" she asked smugly.

"Please, like I didn’t check all the food first." Eric rummaged through the drawer in vain for nearly a full minute before staring at it, nonplussed. "You’ve hidden all of the spoons," he observed flatly.

Behind him, Ellie waved her fingers in emphatic jazz hands. "Hidden them in exciting and unexpected places!" she elaborated.

"Touché."

April 1st, 2010

An irate Eric descended the stairs of the Interceptors’ brownstone apartment building, hair still wet from his shower, to find his sister casually munching on piece of toast on a tall stool. "Pink dye in my shampoo? You don’t even live here!"

Ellie snorted. "Oh come on, you know you’d have missed it if I hadn’t done something," she countered.

After a brief pause, the corner of the fencer’s mouth turned upward. "Yeah, I guess I would have. I’ll ask Grim if you can borrow a pair of pants from her."

His sister gave him a confused look. "Why would I...?"

"Because you’re superglued to that stool," Eric answered, snatching the second piece of toast from her plate and sauntering into the common room to turn on the television.

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House of L Vignette: Jack of all Blades 

 

"Listen," Jack of all Blades quipped as he leapt over the rocky fist, leaving it to crash into the lamppost, bending the pole into a deep bow, "do we have to do this now? I kinda have somewhere to be."

"RAGH!" Smash bellowed as he threw another earth shattering blow at the acrobatic swordsman, who deftly cartwheeled out of the way once more. "You stay away from L’Ann!" The slate grey bruiser’s lack of success only seemed to enrage him further, spurning on his assault.

"How was I supposed to know ‘Grab’ was her name and not a request?" Jack asked glibly, bringing the fiery blade of the Omni-Sword down across Smash’s exposed back. Capable of mimicking the four classical elements, the button studded device had been Professor Ryerson’s greatest achievement, and when members of a local gang had broken into the university to steal its mysterious power source, the young man who would become Jack of all Blades had given it its first field test in the professor’s defence.

Now, seeing the flames slide harmlessly off of Smash’s stoney hide, Jack leapt backward and pressed a key on his weapon’s hilt. Instantly the sizzling fire was replaced with a sword made of cascading water. A quick slash left his opponent feeling like he’d must been doused in the face with a hose, but otherwise left him unfazed. "Ha! Puny jumping man can’t hurt me!"

Another button switched the Omni-Sword from water to lightning as Jack landed nimbly atop a mailbox and launched back in Smash’s direction. "I hate to tell you this, chum," he noted as he brought the arcing electricity down in a two-handed blow, "but you’re in for a shock!"

The electricity surged across Smash’s damp skin, leaving the surprised bruiser standing rigidly still for a moments before collapsed on the street, smoking slightly. With a satisfied smirk, the masked swashbuckler bowed to the crowd of onlookers before triggering the opposite end of the Omni-Sword and firing a grapple which quickly carried him away from the scene.

-----

"Espadas!" Back at the offices of the Daily Trumpet, the West End’s premier - and only - local newspaper, the gauntly man wit the handlebar moustache hollered from his office. Wilson Worth White was a man better known for his pungent cigars than his patience. "Where is that kid?"

Bespectacled and clad in thin, black suspenders, Erik Espadas ducked in through the monogrammed door, camera around his neck and manilla folder in his hand. "You called, Triple-Dub?"

White glared at the younger man and slammed a fist down onto his desk. "Where have you been?! That punk Jack of all Blades showed up downtown and I’ve got no pictures to run with the story!"

"You mean like these, chief?" Erik asked, emptying the contents of the folder onto the desk. A stack of large photos spilled out, showing the blue clad hero in his battle with Smash. "See, I was out for lunch when I heard--"

"Yeah yeah yeah, don’t care," White interrupted him with a wave of his cigar. "Ah, here we go. This look great next to ‘Jack of all Blades Terrorizes Young Mother’!" the editor crowed.

Erik blinked. "I, uh, I think he’s moving that baby carriage out of danger there, Mr. White..."

This boss guffawed. "Espadas, you take a good picture, but you’ve got a lot to learn about the newspaper game. Now get outta here!" White waved him out the door while thumbing through the remaining photos.

Dejected, Erik walked out of the office and closed the door behind him. "Aw, cheer up, Rikky," Zelda told him from her desk. The blonde secretary handed him a check for his usual freelance fee with a dimpled smile. "Tell you what, why don’t we grab a coffee over at the Java Joint when I get off work?"

"Well, gosh, that’d be swell, Zelda!" Erik replied, pocketing the check. Most of it would have to go toward bill around the house, but with the discount his sister got as a waitress, there ought to be enough left over a couple of coffees. "I’ll see you there? Half an hour?"

Zelda happily nodded and the photographer moved to open the door out of the offices, a jaunty grin spreading across his face. As his hand reached for the doorknob, the portal suddenly flew open and three figures strode through. Erik recognized them as Smash’s teammates from Lanceny, Inc.

"Hello, my good journalists!" Trap-Door greeted, twirling his glowing staff in his hands. "I understand that you seem to be the people to talk to about tracking down a certain obnoxious swordsman with whom my associates and I are eager to share a few words with."

Erik groaned inwardly. Always when I have a date...

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Jack of all Blades stepped out of the Underground’s gym to find the screens running along the wall of the hallway in front of him projecting an entire studio audience who broke out into raucous applause as he appeared. Turning around, the swordsman was greeted by the Interceptors’ gregarious AI Vince, seated behind his customary desk and flanked by a small studio band.

“Here he is folks, straight from the Underground, Jack of all Blaaades!†the nattily dressed computer exclaimed, prompting the simulated crowd to redouble their cheers.

Jack walked over to stand next to Vince’s desk. “Seriously?â€

The would-be talk show host gave him a pleading look. “Aw, c’mon, Jacko, help a guy live the dream, huh?â€

With a sigh and a shrug, the fencer turned to wave to the projected crowd. The quality of the screens made the illusion fairly convincing, save the the plain ceiling and floor. “Hi Vince, happy to be here,†he grinned with exaggerated enthusiasm.

“Thanks for coming out, big guy! Now, you’re a native of the West End, correct?†Vince asked him.

Jack nodded. “Born and raised, Vince, and proud of it.â€

“And how would you say that effected you?†the AI continued, adjusting the mug on his desk.

Jack pondered the question for a moment, rubbing his chin. “Well, lemme put it this way. We’ve got a way of doing things in the ‘End. You’re not going to last too long around here if you’re not willing to stand your ground and work for what you want.â€

“Truer words,†Vince agreed amiably. “Now, fencing can’t be that common a hobby, right? How’d you get into that?â€

“We actually had a team at my high school,†Jack explained. “By ‘team’ I mean like three guys, but still. I’m a pretty physical guy, but I never really went in for group sports. I like things one on one. It didn’t take long to figure out I was pretty good - well, really good, honestly - so I kept at it.â€

Vince nodded. “I’ll say! What do you think gives you that ‘edge’?â€

Jack considered for a moment. â€Well, these days it helps that I’ve got my whole weird supersenses thing going on. I can feel a lot of stuff coming before it hits.†He scratched his chin idly. â€Working with a sword that doesn’t weigh anything is pretty sweet, too. But back then? I dunno, just natural talent, I guess. Feels like I’m built for it.â€

“Well, let’s talk a little bit about ‘back then’,†Vince suggested. “What was high school like for you?â€

The swashbuckler shrugged dismissively. “I pretty much just coasted through. I did some sports, some plays and stuff, never failed anything.†Jack leaned against the wall, somewhat marring the illusion of the studio. “I was pretty popular, I guess. I didn’t really have a crew I was tight with, but I got invited to all the best parties, that sort of thing.â€

“Had your pick of the ladies, amirite?†Vince waggled his eyebrows suggestively, eliciting laughter from the audience.

“Well, I dated a lot of girls, yeah,†Jack admitted rubbing the back of his head. “Nothing really serious, though, couple of months, tops. I guess I just got bored. It was always about looking good in front of the right people and showing up so and so. Pretty vacuous.†The young man smirked. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I did get a bit of a reputation for going through girlfriends pretty quickly.â€

“Nothing but a parade of meaningless, string-free lovin’, you poor sap,†the AI drawled. “How about these days? Seeing anyone special? Or just especially naked?â€

Jack shook his head. “Oh, see, now I get why you invited my on the show. It’s all lockerroom talk with you, huh? Little tabloid scandal? You got a paternity test coming up after the break?â€

Vince chuckled along with the audience and he held his hands up in his defense. “Hey, I gotta think of the ratings, right?â€

“Sorry to disappoint everybody,†Jack smirked, “but really, who’s got the time anymore? When I’m not patrolling, I’m training and when I’m not training, I’m sleeping. ‘Sides, not like I’m going to take the mask off for some random chica I pick up.â€

The AI spread his hands from their upraised position. “Must do something to unwind, though, right? All work an no play...â€

“Makes Jack a dull boy, huh?†The fencer gave Vince a wry look. “Trying to make point, pal?â€

“Hey, I’m just the interviewer here, not your therapist,†the gregarious computer program insisted.

Jack scoffed. “Right. Well, it’s not like I never get out. Bill and Lynn’ll drag me off for a drink now and then, or vice versa. Swear, like they’re joined at the hip. I like to think of them as ‘Billynn’.†The audience guffawed accommodatingly.

“Ha, I can see the tabloid headlines now!†Vince picked up a mug from his desk and swirled it around. “How about the newer members of the Interceptors? Getting along?â€

The acrobatic young man nodded amiably. â€Sure. Me and Mo’ go way back. It’s pretty weird seeing her again after so long, especially since she’s still got a couple feet on me! Zip, well...†Jack rubbed the stubble along his jawline. â€Funny thing. He reminds me a lot of me. He takes stuff too far sometimes, doesn’t know where the line is, but... plenty of folks’d say the same about me. And he’s fast, Rocket fast at least. Don’t tell I said so, but he’s gonna be one of the greats some day.â€

The AI’s expression grew a little more serious, the change in mood evidenced by the simulated audience’s failure to react to the show of sentimentality. “Sounds like you really care about them.†The implied question was left unsaid.

Jack let out a breathy chuckle, rubbing the back of his head. â€Ha, yeah, I guess I do. Always been my problem; either keep people at arm’s length or put ‘em under the ‘family’ category. Got big sis and li’l bro, and the lovebirds who spend all Thanksgiving making out. It’s good.†The swordsman had a faint smile on his face, for once devoid of sardonic wryness.

Vince gave Jack a curious look. “You mentioned keeping people at arm’s length. With the jokes and teasing, you mean?â€

â€Actually, no,†the fencer answered. â€That’s more like how I deal with people I actually like. That’s just the way me, Ellie and nuestra madre always rolled, y’know? You know you’re family when you can joke around with worrying about people getting all ticked for no reason.†Jack shrugged sheepishly. â€Granted, I guess that’s not the way everybody sees it.â€

The talk show host gave his a broad and knowing grin. â€Gotten you into trouble before huh?†The audience whooped and chuckled in response, leaving Jack to hold up his hands defensively.

â€Hey now,†he warned jokingly. â€All I can say is that when I was in high school, I had a lot thicker skin than some of those Claremont kids. I mean, you’re young, rich enough to attend a fancy private school and you’ve got superpowers. Cry me a river, right?â€

â€You’re a paragon of boundless compassion,†Vince drawled.

Jack chuckled. â€Yeah, yeah. If we’re being honest -â€

â€And I always am!†Vince interjected.

â€If were being honest,†Jack continued, ignoring the host to the simulated audience’s delight, â€Sometimes I forget that those kids aren’t really adults yet, y’know? Wouldn’t kill me to be a little nicer, I guess.â€

â€Well, it’s not just the kids who have a problem with you,†Vince pointed out.

Jack shot him a wounded look. â€Et tu, Vince?â€

The AI laughed. â€Well it’s true! I mean, what’s with all the nicknames? People hate that!â€

â€Aw, people need to get over themselves,†Jack dismissed with a wave. â€That’s just me being, what d’you call it, jocular. Joking around. If I was actually insulting them, trust me, they’d know it.â€

â€Before we get to far off topic, you mentioned your family,†Vince noted by way of segue, shaking his head in surrender. â€I understand you and your sister are quite close?â€

â€Well, yeah,†the swashbuckler answered with a raised eyebrow. â€She’s my sister. We bust chops a lot, but c’mon.†He glanced over at the AI’s representation on the wall and pointed a finger at him. â€She’s always been the smart one, y’know? Things have been tight, but she’s going to go to some big muckity muck school and end up doing more good that I ever will.â€

Vince seemed a little taken aback by the statement, but carried on. â€What field is she looking to go into, then?â€

â€Medicine.†Jack chuckled ruefully. â€She’s read just about every manual or textbook or whatever she could get her hands on, and my little nighttime excursions gave her a lot of chances to practice. She wants to be a paramedic.†The pride in the fencer’s voice was obvious.

There was a long pause before Vince asked his next question. â€When you say things have been tight, you mean since your mother’s... accident?â€

â€Wasn’t an accident,†Jack barked back heatedly. â€You don’t ‘accidentally’ try to rob a convenience store or ‘accidentally’ pull the trigger when the cops show. You...†He took a deep breath and let it out, closing his eyes momentarily. â€Sorry, man. I just... I don’t really like talking about it. But yeah, since she got put in the chair. It’s been tough.†It was clear the fencer wasn’t going to say anything else on the matter.

Nevertheless, Vince continued to probe. â€So. That’s what drives you, then.â€

Jack looked up sharply, a rebuke on his lips, before he realized that the AI had let the projected studio and audience fade away and was simply standing on the screen next to him, hands in his pockets. After a moment, the swordsman answered. â€Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. It’s just... I can’t ever stop, y’know? It only takes one night, one minute for something like that to happen to somebody else. So I gotta try.â€

Vince nodded quietly. â€So that’s why you do it, but how about why you do it that way you do? The whole swashbuckler thing?â€

Jack gave his friend a flat look. â€My power... is making swords,†he answered flatly.

â€And there are lots of types of sword fighters,†Vince countered. â€So why this?â€

â€â€™Cause it should look easy,†Jack told him. â€I go up against guys a lot stronger than me, so I get them man, don’t give them time to think. Some heroes try to be scary, but I’d rather let the bad guys know they’re not.â€

It was Vince’s turn to give Jack a look of dry amusement. â€My goodness, you’re serious when you get like this. Don’t you let yourself have any fun at all?â€

â€Never said that! Honestly?†Jack grinned. â€I like fighting. I love jumping from rooftop to rooftop, I love laughing in a demigod’s face, I love swinging in just in time to save the day. So yeah, I take it seriously, but I wouldn’t change it, either.â€

â€There’s the Jacko we all know and love,†Vince grinned. â€Alright, pal. I just have to ask one more. What’s with the coat? I mean, has to be easier things to fight in! So what’s the story? Handed down to you? Conceals your movements? What?â€

Jack’s eyebrows rose as he shrugged. â€What? Nah, I just think it looks cool. Found it in a thrift store.â€

The AI looked vaguely aghast. â€You’re pulling my leg.â€

The swordsman gave him a broad smirk. â€Now, would I do that?â€

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Character Score Meme

Jack of all Blades

Theme Song:

[groove]21721169[/groove]

When inclined for to spend; He walks with a friend;

And with pleasure he sits himself down.

He tips off his glass; And he winks at the lass;

And he smiles if she happens to frown.

Combat:

[groove]23379632[/groove]

I can rip you off, and steal all your cash;

Suckerpunch you in the face, stand back and laugh;

Leave you stranded as fast as a heart-attack.

All day, I think bad thoughts!

Romance:

[groove]21721105[/groove]

I've made time with girls; From every walk of life; And line of work;

It's fine, I'm sure there must be something more.

Because when we touch I swear; I think I think too much

I still remember every minute if you were in it.

Tragedy:

[groove]21721238[/groove]

But my dreams; They aren't as empty;

As my conscience seems to be.

I have hours, only lonely;

My love is vengeance; That's never free.

Story Arc Specific: Espadas Siblings Duet!

[groove]21721178[/groove]

We're not gonna join your army;

We're gonna start our own.

And we'll fight until we win or lose it;

Oh! Oh, oh! Oh! Oh, oh!

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Jill O'Cure

Theme Song:

[groove]21820092[/groove]

Her words are fox tracks; her smile's a snake trap.

Her love's a hornet's nest; Her heart's a lion's den.

She's a swan, a songbird, in the house;

And well, you know what they say.

Combat:

[groove]21820353[/groove]

And all we get is…

Dead disco; Dead funk; Dead rock and roll.

Remodel! Everything has been done.

La la la la la la la la la la...

Romance:

[groove]21820370[/groove]

Why don't you sit right down and stay a while?

We like the same things and I like your style.

It's not a secret; Why do you keep it?

I'm just sitting on the shelf.

Tragedy:

[groove]21820431[/groove]

Were you born a closed book;

Full of secret lines? (And bound so tight.)

Or did you learn to lock it;

As not to break your spine? (Oh! You were bound so tight.)

Story Arc Specific: Moar Espadas Siblings!

[groove]21820506[/groove]

Maps won't show us where we're going;

All they are is just the boring facts.

Relax.

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