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Carnival in the Park (IC)


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Date: October 16th-26th, 2009

Light gleams blotchily upon silver and rust red as a tin sided truck rolls into downtown. The reflection of the sun off the truck mixes seemlessly with the sound of the horn to the ears of passerby, as if the light was voicing it's excitement at the opportunities the convoy brought with it. Deedra's Travelling Menagerie had come to Freedom City. The famous carnival hadn't come this far north in decades, only the most sagely and seasoned citizens recalled the curious sights and cotton candy the carnival had offered to all ages. The brightly colored faces on the side of the beat up trucks brought smiles and fluttering hearts to the children who witnessed their entrance off the freeway. A small niche of citizens stood in Liberty Park, watching the Carnival set up on a brisk October day.

There were few clouds in the sky of a month known for rainshowers, almost as if the Carnival itself cast away the dreery parts of the season and left only the brilliantly colored foliage and harvest themes. The children cheered when they saw the banner go up around the makeshift fences around the carnival, displaying the opening day and the times. Deedra's Travelling Menagerie would be in town for a full ten days! Two weekends of fried oreos, fat turkey legs, fast rides and fun games. There was, of course, also the Menagerie, a collection of the strangest among the strange, including such standby's as the bearded ladie and the contortionists. Deedra's was most famous for it's truely amazing fire eaters, however. In a world of super heroes and awesome powers, the fire eaters were still able to surprise and amaze, as if the spectacles of what could be commonplace with the right gadgets and spells were somehow more mystifying when unexplained, when an air of the mysterious hung to it.

Even in a world of jets and space shuttles, people loved their magic tricks.

The week of preparation went by fast for most, but slow for the ever excited children, but eventually Deedra's gates opened to the public. This would be a tenday Freedom City would come to remember, for it would be the last time Deedra's Travelling Menagerie would grace it's scenic Liberty Park.

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Yuki smiled as she got off the makeshift roller coaster. She was sitting in the front of the roller coaster, yet nearly dozed off as all the other people sitting around her was screaming. Compared to web-slinging, all othe modes of transport was tame. Very tame.

Something she did manage to do, while the coaster car was pulling cork screws and loops, was think. More specifically, on the robbery at the bank (where repairs were only recently finished thanks to the Free4dom league) and to her recent run-in with Sandstone. All the while, thinking on just how she can't shake the feeling that they were... linked.

No Yuki.... Now isn't the time. Just have fun.

Fun. Like a regular teenager. No labs. No needles or prodding. Just live life like a teen.

Yuki began to walk around, looking for another ride...

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Colt wandered the festival grounds, they used to have carnivals once a year when he was a kid. But when he got old enough to hold a gun and compete, they had started traveling. He hadn't been to one of these things since he was seven. "Reckon it makes me feel just like a kid again." He commented as he walked the grounds, briefly wondering if Ironhide would show his face. Colt had extended the invitation, but you never could tell with that one sometimes.

He was near the center of the fair when he saw something that made him stop dead in his tracks. There was a large booth set up with a railing and stools. mounted on the railing were a collection of toy rifles. In the back of the booth was a collection of targets.

Suddenly, Billy Renolds was six years old again.

"Come one come all! Try your luck! Try and shoot as many targets as you can!" The announcer cried.
The booth even had much the same setup. There had even been one man there that spent most of the day at the carnival shooting at the targets, never missing a shot. Billy had envied him like there was no tomorrow.
"Come and see the amazing Deadeye! The man that never misses!" It didn't take the announcer long to catch on to a good business deal.

Colt strode forward. Today he was going to be some little kid's "Deadeye". He took a seat at one of the stools.

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As they entered the carnival grounds, Ellie Espadas rounded on her older brother, scowling. "You are unbelievable, you know that? You're seriously chaperoning me?"

Hands in his pockets, Erik Espadas offered her a look of mild surprise. "Why sister dear, whatever do you mean? Maybe I'm just really in the mood for skee ball. Has nothing to do with Arnold over there." As he spoke he gave a small wave to the lanky blond teen standing just out of ear shot, who gave a start, then waved back with an uncertain smile.

Ellie gritted her teeth. "His name is Andrew."

Her brother nodded absently. "Sure, sure, what'd I say?" Turning back to look Ellie in the eye, he continued, "You have to admit you've gone out with some serious losers in the past."

"No, I haven't!" the younger Espadas exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air. "You're just a complete psychopath!" Jabbing a finger at Erik, she lowered her voice to barely above a harsh whisper. "I am seventeen. This is generally considered beyond the age requiring a babysitter. Now you are not going to ruin this date for me or I swear to god, the next time you break something, I'm just going to let you figure out how to set it on your own!"

Erik raised his hands in surrender, fighting off a grin. "Alright, point made hermanita." Walking over to her nervous date, he handed the teen a sawbuck. "Win her a giant stuffed badger or something, huh?" He turned to Ellie. "I'll be checking out the menagerie... if you need me." Glaring, she made a small shooing gesture, and Erik offered her a small shrug and smirk as he wandered off into the carnival grounds.

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Tweens and teens shrieked and squealed as the ran out of the carnival's Haunted House, and a few marveled at how realistic the zombie looked. Opinions were mixed on whether it was an animatronic or a guy in really good makeup, but all agreed it was the best part of the attraction. The realistic look wasn't the only reason: the zombie was in a different spot every hour, adding an element of unpredictability.

"Man, this is nice," he thought out loud between visits. "Earn a little pocket money for what comes second nature to me, and I get to interact with folks! Well, this ain't really 'interacting,' but I get to hang out with the carnies after hours, and they're good folks. Where else can a guy like me-"

The sounds of more 'victims' grabbed his attention. "Oooh, showtime. Ahem... brrraaaiiinnnsss....." he moaned as he lumbered out.

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So this is a carnival? Kristian Gerber had never been to a carnival, or a circus, or an amusement park, or anything of the sort. It had been weeks since he abandoned the Shadow Academy and was betrayed by Ronin. He had spent that time holing up in abandoned warehouses and taking "the good fight" to the streets of Freedom City, managing to acquire some meager funds from the hoods he brought low. Said funds were normally spent on warm meals, shelter, and fuel for the Razorcycle, but he had seen a flier for Deedra's Traveling Menagerie and something inside of him wanted to experience the event.

Walking through the throngs of spectators in his civilian attire, he watched with a measured eye the subtle nuances of interaction between "normal" people, joking and laughing and eating, each group appearing to disregard the actions of the others around them. Completely oblivious to the potential dangers around them...

Nearing the center of the fairgrounds, he saw something that struck him as peculiar. A shooting range had been set up and a young man dressed the part of a wild west gunslinger took a seat, hog leg in holster and long arm in hand. Kristian all but disappeared into the crowd, keeping his eye on the cowboy for any suspicious activities. Looks like a bounty hunter to me. I wonder if...

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*Pow* *plink* Colt picked off targets with the BB's he was supplied by the proprietor. "50 cents fer five shots." *Pow* *plink* Another target spun around, "Hit 20 targets and you win a prize." *Pow* *plink* and another, "Hit 4 targets and win five more shots for free." *Pow* *plink* "Reckon, that's like shootin' fish'n a barrel." *Pow* *plink*

Colt was deeply concentrating when he was shooting, assuming he was safe enough at a festival to concentrated on a game. But when he straightened up and waited for the man to bring him 5 more BB's he returned his senses to the area around him. Somethin's off. Better keep an eye out this time. He thought to himself.

"Thanks, partner," He said as he scooped up the next 5 BB's the man dumped on the table in front of him. "Hit 50 targets an' ya win a big prize, eh? Reckon that sounds like a challenge!" He pushed the brim of his hat up slightly and and bent down over the rifle once more...

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Erik wandered aimlessly through the carnival, taking in the eclectic mix of bright lights and strong smells. He'd been acting as Jack of all Blades more than usual in the past several weeks, spurned on by the beating he'd taken from Captain Knievel. He'd lost sight of how important it was to take some time to be Erik Espadas, to ground himself. It was nice to just walk through a crowd of happy, smiling faces.

Looking from person to person, Erik suddenly gave a start. There was no mistaking it, the man drawing a crowd at the target shooting booth was clearly the interdimensional cowboy 'Jack' had met earlier that month. It didn't even look as though Colt had changed his outfit; at the very least he was still prominently displaying his firearms. Erik rubbed the back of his head, bemused, as a string regular 'plinks' attested to the man's extraordinary accuracy. The young man still wasn't crazy about having the gunman wandering around Freedom, but he felt a bit better knowing that at least it didn't look like Colt was likely to hit a bystander by accident.

Erik briefly considered going over to watch how long the cowboy could keep it up, but quickly dismissed the idea. There was almost no chance of Colt recognizing him as 'Jack', but he hadn't kept his secret identity a secret for so long by taking any chances with it. Heading in the opposite direction from the games, he made his way through the crowd and across the open space to the Haunted House. His interest piqued, Erik payed the attendant and journeyed inside.

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Marcus took a big bite of the cotton candy, loving the fuzzy tickle on his face and the sugary rush on his tongue. He leaned over and tried to take a bite from Cyndi's , but she laughed and yanked it away before he got to it, the two giggled and jostled each other as they mad their way through the crowds. He had always gone to the carnival when it had come, back home. His mother would point out the fire, breather or the sword swallower, while his father would tell them how unscientific the whole thing was. Young Marcus didn't disbelieve his father, but he couldn't disbelieve his eyes either.

Now he was older and he knew some of the tricks, but his eyes still danced with the jugglers, and went up and down with the dunk tanks. He still loved the smell of dry grass, and warm funnel cakes with powdered sugar. "So," Cyndi asked. "Are you going to win me something, my big hero?" She wrapped both arms around his arm and leaned on his shoulder.

"Of course," Marcus said. "Only the Biggest stuffed animal here. I'm not called All-Star for nothing." He had met Cyndi a few weeks back during campus mixer, he hadn't even bothered to hide the fact that he was a super. He would have worn his costume, but the horrified look on her face made him change his mind. She just wanted to be two kids in a park, which was fine, he supposed.

He strolled by the target shooting booth, and saw a man in a full cowboy get-up. He nudged Cyndi in the ribs to check out the guy's get up. "I bet he is part of the show," she said. He thought of trying to shoot, but this guy was good. Then Marcus spotted the test your might mallet. "Ok, now we're talking. Baby I'm gonna get you that bear."

"Wait lets go to the fun house real quick," Cyndi said.

"Huh? This wont take long. One swing." He marched over to the stall. The man at the stall wore a bright yellow shirt, and a faded waistcoat. He had that old but not ancient look and glassy fish eyes. Marcus looked up at the Prizes. His eyes went straight to large teddy bear that was bigger around than his chest. It had a red vest on over its white fur.

"One try for 3," said the Carnie in loud voice. "Or 3 tries for 6. How about you sir? You ready to win that lady a prize? Your a big strapping lad, don't be scared."

"I'm not scared of anything," Marcus said as he took the mallet. "Stand back baby, let a man show you how it's done," he said, only half-jokingly as he looked back at Cyndi. She groaned, rolled her eyes and tried not to smile. Marcus had a big grin on his face. He had the strength of a million men. This was almost unfair. He swung the hammer. The bell shot up, then stopped halfway where an indicator marked his attempt as 'average'. Marcus froze utter perplexity in his eyes.

"No shame son," the Carnie said. "No shame in being average." Marcus felt his face flushing hot at the man's words.

"Yeah right," Marcus answered. He began fishing in his pocket for another three dollars.

"Why not buy three tries son?" The Carnie asked.

"I don't need three tries," Marcus said hotly. He grabbed the mallet, and this time he reared back, this time he was going to put a hole in the ground. He slammed the mallet down. Not only did the machine not shatter form the force, but the bar only went slightly higher than it did last time. "What the hell?" Marcus shouted as he threw the mallet to the ground.

"Come on Marcus," Cyndi called, her voice plaintive. "You know these games are rigged anyway." Marcus stared at the old fish-eyed Carnie. What was this guy trying to pull.

"Now don't say that," the Carnie cried. "Don't say that little lady. We're nice and fair, provided you play fair with us. Know what I mean son?" The Carnie winked. Marcus frowned. "A nice, young, strapping lad like you, we would never cheat you, you would never cheat us right? One more time, on the house. No cheating. Promise." The flat note he ended the last word with made Marcus wonder who exactly he was talking to. Was he over relying on his powers? He picked up the hammer. It had taken him several hours and a lot of destroyed furniture to get gauge his new abilities, but he had a pretty good handle on where he used to before the accident. His old strength. It was what had brought him and his team to the State finals two years in row.

"Marcus," Cyndi called. "You don't have to do this. I don't even want the bear anymore. Lets just go." He barely heard her as he squared hismelf to machine. He found his center of gravity like he had been taught. He raised the Mallet above his head and brought it down. The bar shot right to the top, the clang as it hit the bell the sweetest sound Marcus had heard all night.

"Woo!" he shouted as he thrust his hands into the air. A big grin split his face as he slowly turned around fists still in the air. Cyndi yelled happily and ran and jumped into his arms.

"See that sir?" the Carnie asked. "Honest folk. No you can select your prize. I take it you fancy this big one up here, we call him Rufus." The Carnie pointed at the giant Polar Bear with the red vest. Marcus breathed deep, the thrill of victory slipping out with each breath. He stared into the bears, big glass eyes. Then he shook his head.

"Nah," he said. "Let me get that brown one, down there." He indicated a much smaller bear below the giant one. Cyndi gave him a puzzled look. "What? It looks cool and all but then you have to carry it around all night. Lets take soemthing small." She smiled and nodded. As he took the bear, his eye met the Carnie's. Sudden he felt like he was 10 again, with this father yakking in the background and his mother's arm around him, and a mouth sticky with caramel. Then it was gone. Marcus blinked in surprise.

"Ok now, we are going to the fun house," Cyndi said breaking the spell. "I bet you are gonna try to turn this into a competition too." He didn't answer. As he walked away he kept looking over his shoulder but the man had turned his head to the next customer.

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These humans were interesting. It was a phrase Tempest had used many times since he had been in Freedom, but this time he was quite sure it was justified. There was a band of carnival humans that would travel between the different human cities and put on shows and other forms of entertainment for the other human's entertainment. These carnie humans had very strange ways according to the city humans, but the carnie humans had said the opposite of the city humans. Tempest had marked this discrepency up to what the humans called perspective.

Apparently, a human was allowed to be wrong in their ideals so long as they remained ignorant to the truth. Often times, it would be considered acceptable if a human's actions also impeeded any knowledge generation practices. This is what humans would refer to as "sticking to one's guns" and "holding the course". Sometimes these traits are viewed as admirable. It was quite a confusing issue.

If Tempest wished to get to the bottom of this issue, then he would have to observe the interactions of the carnie humans with the city humans while remaining unmolested. He had realized earlier that he would attract undue attention, and therefore not get an objective opinion the humans if his presence was known. Ordinarily, there would be know way to be in a position to observe the human interactions and not interefere with them. However, given the city human's perceived oddities of the carnival, they would not pay special attention to a humanoid figure composed of earth and wood, so long as the figure were to be posed in a dramatic fashion.

For the first half hour the plan progressed smoothly, and without a hitch. Most humans continued in their ordinary course of action, without heed to Tempest's presence. Some however paused to pose for a photo opprotunity with the "cool statue". Cool in this context being a comment on the quality of an object, not its temperature. This was meant to be taken as a compliment. However, after one photo opportunity, one of the humans decided to deposit their gum on Tempest's shoulder. As they walked away, they found themselves suddenly dragged underground, until only their head remained above ground.

As the city human looked around frantically for a cause for his current situation, Tempest knelt down beside the city human. Without uttering a word, Tempest removed the gum from his shoulder and deposited it back in the city human's mouth which was currently. Tempest then gently placed a hand under the city human's jaw and closed his mouth for him. As he stood, and the city human was freed from his earthly prison, Tempest simply said ""A smart human would learn to respect nature." before returning to his previous pose.

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"Oh yeah, well I bet you that you can't reach the bell" The brown haired, puffed up jock challenged david, who did'nt answer as he had a full half of a hot-dog in his moulth "Fump huff" He mumbled, his true words dawning after a moment, making the football player turn red "I oughta-" "Shut it you-gimme that" David grwled at the carnie and grabbed the handle of the hammer "You try first" He offered with a decidedly fake grin-a predatory gleam in his eyes. The bigger, more muscular man slammed down with all his might, hitting the bell dead on and getting a round of cheers and back-slapping from the crowd. David grinned and politely took the hammer "now, watch a pro" He activated just a bit of his power and brought the hammer down. Clangggggg. the crowd went silent as the bell unhinged itself with davids blow.

"B..but..heros dont cheat" The bigger man said, wide eyed "Shut it-you look like your bout to cry" David reprimanded "Besides, im not a hero" He gave the man a nasty glare that sent him running before buying more of the oh-so-tasty fair food. "Wheres he at?" David wondered out loud before spotting a familiar duster in the crowd. "Boo!!" He shouted at his partner, the sharp-shooting colt "Whats up?" He asked, offering his an elephant ear and soda.

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:!: :!: :!:

Incoming projectile...

:!: :!: :!:

Yuki ducked as something resemblinga bell nearly decapitated her. Okay, that was an exageration, but it still might've hurt. But now she was in a situation...

Two teenagers, who were necking on a nearby bench, was looking right at her. "...woah... I never seen anyone move that fast..."

"Yes you did. You saw it just now!" Yuki turned to the object on the ground. "I heard it coming a mile away. If you two wasn't necking, you would've too."

Through her lie, Yuki grinned and continued walking. Her eyes then spied something from the corner of her eyes... a hedge maze.

...why not? Yuki still had time before curfew.

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"...Three..." *Pow* *ping* "...Two..." *Pow* *ping* "...One..." *Pow* *ping*

"Fifty targets in a row ladies and gentleman!" The carnival worker running the both waved his hand in front of the toy gun as Colt sat back. He glanced down at the twelve fresh bb's laying on the counter. He hadn't even needed them. He hadn't missed a shot. "Name your prize, sir! Anything you want!" He waved his hand at the back wall.

"Reckon that pop gun will do mighty nicely." and Colt received the prize.

"Boo!!" He shouted at his partner, the sharp-shooting colt "Whats up?" He asked, offering his an elephant ear and soda.

Colt tipped his hat to his friend as he turned away from the booth. "Howdy, partner." He said, declining the treats with a wave of his hand. He quickly scooped up the extra bb's on the counter and walked away from the booth to the crowd that was still assembled. He knelt down in front of one child about 6 or 7 years old, popped the pop gun at him. Reloading the pop gun he handed it to the child. "Hold out yer hand." the child did, and Colt dumped the spare BB's into his outstretched hand. The child beamed at him. "Go on. Give it a shot." And the child ran off around him with his mother in tow.

Colt stood and turned to face Ironhide. "Glad ya found the place. It'll do ya good ta get out. Just try not ta go destroyin' any more'a the attractions." Colt nodded at the ring the bell attraction that Ironhide had so effectively dismantled. "Oh an' a word'a caution. I think there's been some others in the crowd that've been watchin' me. Don't know what they want rigtht yet, but I reckon we'll find out soon enough."

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Erik, Marcus, and Cyndi were not exactly wowed by the Fun House/Haunted House, at least not at first. A few monsters painted on the entrance, faded with age, greeted them, and as they walked through the entrance white plastic ghosts dropped down in front of them. Pre-recorded shrieks and groans echoed through the halls, which covered most of the sounds of the hydraulics moving the monstrous mannequins and papier-mâché limbs from in and out of their recessed hiding spots. A few spots did throw them, since there were some obvious areas where something would be expected to pop out, but nothing did, only for something to pop out from a separate, better-concealed area a few feet away, or behind them.

As they sensed they were nearing the end of the winding path, the recording abruptly cut off, and all the hydraulics and other noises stopped, plunging the attendees into an eerie quiet. They could hear the sounds of the carnival outside, but they were muted, moreso than they might expect. Were they farther from the exit than they thought? Or was it just some really good sound insulation in the walls?

A new sound was soon noticed, a stomp-draaag, stomp-draaag shuffle that echoed throughout the halls. The sound was soon joined by a low moan, and these sounds now came across on whatever hidden speakers had been broadcasting the more standard shrieks and groan earlier, making it impossible to tell where it was truly coming from.

What looked like a Hells Angels biker appeared far down the hall, his face hidden in an unusually deep patch of shadows. It shuffled towards the attendants, hands outstretched -- hands that were twisted into claws. As the figure continued forward and out of the shadows, its face could be clearly seen: withered, painfully tight, the mouth hanging open but the lips pulled back and frozen, and the unfocused eyes glowing an eerie green.

Eric recognized it, from his encounter with it a few weeks prior in Wharton State Forest.

"brrraaaiiinnnsss... brrraaaiii-"

Then it stopped, and its eyes focused with alarming sharpness on the group. And then it began to sprint towards them.


Oh, I think that's Jack, from the forest! I'll have to see if I can chat with him on my next break.

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At exactly three o'clock in the afternoon the loudspeakers interspersed throughout the park suddenly blared an announcement:

"Thank you and welcome to Deedra's Travelling Menagerie! We hope you are enjoying the festivities thus far and would like to announce that Deedra's World Famous Fire Eaters will begin their show promptly at 3:30. All interested in seeing the finest Conquerors of Conflagaration make your way to the west side of the park as soon as possible. Again thank you for your patronage!"

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Kristian had watched the cowboy land fifty out fifty shots on the tin targets, never missing a beat. As he was about to close the distance and take a better look at the man's unique weapons, a scrappy red-headed young man had sauntered over to him, snacks in hand, and spoke to him as if they were old friends. Keeping within earshot of the two, Kristian's attention was drawn to the broken bell attraction for a moment, and then right back to the pair when he overheard the cowboy warn the newcomer of possible eyes in the crowd. He's not here for me, otherwise he'd have been more alert for his target's presence. But then again...

To test his theory, Kristian walked by the two men on his way to another booth, the bill of his black military cap hung low on his brow to cover his eyes. It was stupid to make himself such obvious prey for such a skilled marksman, especially at point-blank range, but he needed to know if this was the real deal or if his imagination was getting the best of him. He was just steps away from brushing shoulders with the cowboy as he walked by, but then an announcement blared over the loudspeakers, drawing the crowd's attention.

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Spitfire pulled his head out of the sink in his trailer, water trickling down over his face and newly shaved head. He rubbed briskly at his scalp, and smiled at himself in the mirror.

"I am one han'sum sumbitch," Maxie said, then turned to put on his favorite shirt, a brown, faded shirt advertising a mexican beer. Maxie sniffed at the air, as all teenager's rooms, his smelled just a bit ripe, which wouldn't do if one of the crowd wanted to come back to his trailer and learn just how many fires Maxie could light, and where, so he turned to the nearest scented candle and spit a gout of flame from his mouth, lighting it easily. Soon the room filled with aromic smell of pumpkin spice.

"There. That's better."

Maxie was putting on his shoes when the announcement of his act went over the loudspeakers. He quickly finished tieing his shoes then headed for the door and out into the sun. It was a beautiful day, a great day for a show. The breeze was a little cool, but Maxie and his older counterpart were about to change all that. Maxie looked out over the growing crowd and smiled. "Show time."

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Cyndi clung tight to Marcus, who didn't protest as they walked through the darkness. He wrapped one of his arms her, his earlier incident forgotten. The haunted house was a standard affair. Cyndi jumped and shrieked, while he laughed, focusing on not being scared. He jumped more than a few times and denied it every time.

It was when the lights cut out that things changed. "Oh my god," Cyndi whispered. Marcus chuckled, then swallowed.

"Its just part of the show," he assured her. He put both arms around her as the noises came. He knew it was just a show but he couldn't help getting swept up into it. He stopped as he looked at the strange man who appeared.

As the man shuffled forward Cyndi began making noise. Marcus smiled. Nice costume. As it shuffled closer he could make out the pale taught skin. Wow really good costume. The creature ran towards them, he felt Cyndi burying her head in his chest, he laughed. He switched to his X-Ray vision. It was just a guy in...

"Everyone, get down!" he said as he moved Cyndi behind him. A real zombie! The darkness lit up as Marcus's eyes glowed with restrained energy. Energy he was about to unleash on the charging ghoul.

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A mutant! Well, probably. Oooh, I could give them all a real scare...

The zombie continued charging, clawed hands outstretched, clenching and unclenching in what could only be anticipation for sweet, sweet flesh.


young guy, probably aim for my center mass. Or my head, after watching too many zombie movies. Prep myself so he blasts my head off, then have my body sit up and grab for 'em after a moment. Or if he hits my chest, might leave a big hole, I fall, then sit up and grab for 'em after a moment.

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Erik walked a bit behind Marcus and Cyndi, giving the couple a modicum of privacy. He'd never been one to startle easily, and the paltry decorations of the carnival attraction served as more of a curiosity that anything. He realized with some concern how detached he felt from the experience. After fighting for his life against super powered foes, a haunted house seemed like such a non event.

As they ventured further in, however, Erik felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, a feeling of unease resting in the pit of his stomach. Ever since his powers had been awakened, he'd had a vague sense for the energy around him, from hidden power lines to the electrical fields running through all living things. Even now he could subtly sense the pair walking in front of him even without looking. Concentrating on the uncomfortable feeling, he realized that there was another presence somewhere in the building, one that felt almost like a person, but was somehow... off. The thought of a creepy, not-quite-right porcelain doll sprang to the young man's mind. After a moment it slowly dawned on him that it was a sensation he recognized.

Dead Head...? came the surprised thought. Before he could consider further, the leather jacketed ghoul made his presence known in no uncertain terms. A smirk flicked across Erik's lips. He had to hand it to the zombie; finding honest work couldn't be easy with his particular condition.

Suddenly a sharp tingle ran through Erik's body as the musclebound jock shouted, his body's energy level flaring up in Erik's sixth sense. Fortunately he was already between the superpowered bruiser and the playacting zombie, and he raised his hands to forestall both of them. "Whoa, zap-happy, reign it in, huh?" He turned to regard the ghoul. "Honestly, 'Head, you're only perpetuating negative stereotypes here."

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He was just steps away from brushing shoulders with the cowboy as he walked by

"Hey now, watch where yer walkin' there, partner." Colt knew the pass had been intentional. The man was testing the waters. But why? Who are you? Colt puzzled. Reckon I'd better follo'ya. Just in case...

Colt turned to Ironhide. "Wait here," He said curtly as he ducked into the crowd. He followed a slightly different route than the strange man did, so as not to tip him off. Now we'll see what this fella's up ta.

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All-Star froze as he stared at the scene before him room flickering from his blazing eyes. "Wait, what?" he asked puzzled. He looked between the two. The room returned to darkness as his eyes flickered down. Cyndi gave him a puzzled look.

"Marcus, what are you doing? It's just a guy in a suit." She looked towards the two men. "Are you alright Marcus you could have killed him."

"What?" Marcus asked. "No. It was... I mean... hes a Zombie." He spread his hands indicating Dead Head.

"It is just a Carnival Marcus," Cyndi said shaking her head, she huffed and ran her fingers through her hair.. "I'm gonna get some air. You scared me half to death." As she passed Dead Head she said. "That was a great show thank you, you were really scary." She paused as she smelled something funny, but didn't give it much thought as she walked out.

When she left Marcus stood there arms spread incredulously, looking at the two.

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Dangit, I should've winked at Jack, or something, to let him in on it. Not like I was in any real danger.

"Thank ya, ma'am," the 'zombie' relied to Cyndi, his voice very gravelly. "And don't worry none about me, I'm used to gettin' hit on. Er, beat on, that is," he corrected, though the way he held himself indicated he'd said exactly what he'd meant to.

As Cyndi walked out, the 'zombie' approached Marcus and Erik. He leaned to one side to whisper to Marcus, "Er, confidentially speakin', Mac -- you're right!" He winked at Marucs, then turned to Eric and offered his hand to shake, "hey, Jack! I've got a break due to me in a bit, you free to chat for a spell?"

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David nodded to colt, continuing to eat the assembled foods "Don't shoot anyone" He told his partner as the futuristic cowboy swept off behind the strange man "Great, can't even go to the carnival without something weird happening-but at least i'm never bored." He smiled and took a seat in front of the fun house as he finished his food. He handed the ticket taker lady the required amount and stepped in, only to be confronted by a zombie "Nice" He murmured, admiring what he thought was a specail effects or really good make up job "Though a bit advanced for carny tech" He told himself, his eyes narrowing. It did'nt last long however, once the "zombie" proved to be just another one of the numerous oddities that a carnival in freedom city had to offer. He managed to ignore the numerous stares as he tried to quiet his laughter at the apparent real life zombie.

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Among the crowds that covered the carnival grounds, a small group of teenage girls were making their way down the center of the carnival, taking in the various sights. The three girls tended to attract quite a few looks from young men that they passed, particularly the blonde, who was the oldest of the three.

Megan Howell (the blonde) glanced around at the sights of the carnival, which put the annual Halloween Block Party in the Theater District to shame. She then focused on the two younger girls that where with her. “This is pretty cool, thanks for asking me to come and help you guys out with some routines this weekend.†She said with a genuine smile. “Its nice to get away from campus for a bit.â€Â

“We are glad you where willing to help us out some Megan.†Replied Summer.

The other girl, Dawn, nodded in agreement. “Yeah, you always came up with great routines our first year on the team.â€Â

Megan’s smile widened slightly. The two younger girls where the current co-captains of the cheerleading team at North Bay Academy, the elite prep school Megan had attended. They had both been Sophomores during Megan’s Senior year, when she had been team captain. “Well, I might have come up with the routines, but it took everyone to pull them off.†She then replied.

The two girls smiled. “So how is your Sophomore year in college shaping up?†Asked Summer.

Megan shrugged slightly. “Not too bad, yet. Around mid-semester is when it really starts to get rough.†She replied with a slight lie. While the work load did get heavier, but the increase really did not affect Megan much. Ever since the accident at Astro Labs during her Sophomore year at North Bay Academy that gave her superspeed, homework had become the least of her problems, as she could fit hours of study into just a few minutes. When she had decided to use her powers to help people and fight crime, she had to learn how to live two separate lives, a balancing act which was now second nature.

“How about we try out that ride first?†Asked Dawn, pointing to a rollercoaster.

Megan looked over at the ride, not expecting much from it, after all, when one could easily break the sound barrier, a simple rollercoaster ride tended to fell as if you where standing still. “Sure, that looks good.†She replied with faked enthusiasm.

It was just then that the announcement for a fire eating act came over the loudspeaker.

“Maybe we should come back after that show.†Stated Summer after the announcement. “The ride won’t be going anywhere and the line looks to long to get through in time.â€Â

“Alright, sounds good.†Megan replied as she started off towards the west side of the park with the other two.

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