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Fisticuffs Fundraiser! (IC)


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"Well it looks like its going to be a full house here tonight at the Liberty Dome, doesn't it Mark?"

"You said it buddy. People have been practically camping out for seats since dawn. And it really is a nice sight to see isn't it Bill."

"Right you are Mark. All the proceeds raised today go directly to the Extra Snuggly Adorable Orphans Foundation thanks to the great people here at the Liberty Dome, all the great people of Freedom with their donations, and last but not least, all the heroes who signed up for the bouts here today."

"Speaking of Bill, why don't we go ahead and check in with Lisa who's standing by right outside with the Dome to greet the heroes who should start arriving shortly. Lisa, how's the atmosphere out there today?"

"...It's absolutely fantastic Mark. As you can see the crowd behind me is absolutely thrilled to be here, and the turnout is even bigger than we expected. There will be standing room only tonight."

"Now Lisa, we've heard rumors that - "

"Sorry Bill, I'm going to have to cut you off there. It looks like the first of the heroes is making their arrival."

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The camera panned to the door of the stretch limo swinging open to reveal Ace Danger in trademark world war two era bomber jacket and fedora. The famed hero of several decades stepped out with a dazzling smile and a quick wave to the crowd. The lights of the paparazzi flashes a visual stacato as he made his way towards the fighter entry way.

He fell into a deep bow taking Lisa's hand in his own and laying a delicate kiss on her knuckles. "Good to see you again Lisa," He said as he straightened. Nodding to the other reporters clustering around. "It's been awhile since I've done any exhibition matches." He said with a wink, "But I promised the shamballa masters I would defend their techniques against all comers and this seems just the place." He dropped the name of the famously mysterious shamballa order easily. "I would love to stay and chat but at my age I'll have to get some warm up in if I'm gonna show this youngsters what for." He added with a smile and quick joke about his ageless existance.

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As Ace Danger's limo pulled away, the next hero arrived on the scene. Over the crowd, the sound of a motor could be heard roaring down the street. Suddenly, Colt's motorcycle burst into view and slid amidst a cloud of smoke and squeeling rubber in front of the red carpet.

Colt easily dismounted the motorcycle and stepped onto the carpet. Colt hadn't been in town long, but it was plain to see that the crowd already knew who he was. As the crowd began cheering, he strode forward, fingers pointed outward formed into mock guns.

Suddenly he turned and pointed a small device at his motorcycle which promptly roared into a wheelie and screamed off down the street. He turned around once more and fired on of his fake guns at one of the good looking ladies in the crowd, who fainted into the arms of her friends.

He took a few more steps down the red carpet and approached Lisa. "Howdy!"

"Howdy, partner! You ready to wrastle? Gonna show us a few tricks you learned down in Texas?"

"Darn right there, little lady! When I heard there was gonna be a charity show fer the kiddies, I couldn't start my bike fast enough. Better get inside though! Time's a wastin'!"

"Go get'em partner! Wooo!"

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Soon after Colt had gone inside, Atlas made him arrival on the scene. He leapt down from one of the nearby buildings, onto the street. Atlas broke into a jog was he was making his way over to Lisa, hi-5'ing the crowd the whole way down. Atlas came to a stop by Lisa, and took a knee next to her so she wouldn't need a box to hold the microphone up to his mouth.

"So Atlas, I heard you managed to raise quite a bit of money for this event. How'd you pull it off."

"I do some vork vith ze good people at Builder's League United, on zeir bit projects, and I convinced zem to make a donation."

"Well good luck to you out there, and it looks like a few of your fans have showed up to cheer you own."

The camera panned down to show 3 kids, wearing T-shirts with the Extra Snuggly Adorable Orphans Foundation's logo; the oldest one looked to be about 8 years old.

"Wow.. he's big." "H-Hi. My name's Billy and ummmm... Mr. Atlas sir? Can I has your autograph?" "You sure can. 'To my best-est buddy in the whole world, Billy' 'signed Atlas'" Atlas spent a good 10 minutes messing with the kids and taking a bunch photographs as the kids climbed on him like a jungle gym. "Okay kiddies. I have to go or I am going to be late. See you after ze fights." called Atlas as he went into the Liberty Dome, which was thankfully easy to walk through because I had been built with athletes in mind.

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A commotion in the crowd drew the camera's attention as Atlas entered the Dome. Spectators around the velvet ropes moved outward in a circle, revealing Jack of all Blades locked in a passionate kiss with a gorgeous young woman he held in a low dip. They held the pose long enough for anyone watching to become flustered, and when they finally came up for air the swashbuckler twirled the lady lightly away by the hand, offering her a grin and wink before back flipping over the guard rail to land on the red carpet.

Jack gave the hostess a sloppy salute as his greatcoat settled around his ankles. "I do so love to mingle."

"Jack of all Blades!" Lisa exclaimed. "It's not often we see you at such a public event."

The scintillating swordsman shrugged. "Sometimes a cause is just too good to ignore." His smile became roguish smirk and his eyes twinkled behind his bandanna mask. "Besides, I've been called something of a showman." Reaching into his coat he withdrew a quintet of playing cards, fanning them out with a flourish. "Pick a card, any card," he drawled wryly.

Plucking one of the proffered cards, Lisa displayed it for the camera, revealing a Jack of Spades with a phone number written floridly across it in golden ink. Rotating his wrist, Jack showed the audience that the other four cards were identical, then flicked them into the crowd, ensuring that one made it to the young woman who was still recovering from their kiss. Turning the movement into a full body spin, coat flaring out below him, Jack turned on his heel and began to make his way inside.

"It's not much of a trick if they're all the same," Lisa called after him.

Turning back around, Jack grinned even more broadly. "Oh, I don't know. I've found the results can be quite magical indeed." Bowing deeply, he swaggered into the Liberty Dome.

As he departed, Lisa surreptitiously tucked the playing card away for safe keeping.

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Yet another limo pulls up, and a petite young woman in black and midnight blue leather steps out, waving like a gleeful idiot at the crowd; it's pretty obvious she's never been in a limo before :D She makes her way over to the red carpet, where Lisa at first looks confused until she places a hand up to her earpiece.

"Ah yes, this would be Grimalkin, who's made a bit of a name for herself on the city's West Side, and also made quite a stir back in October with a charity event of her own."

"That's right, Lisa! Hi everybody!"

The crowd cheers, just happy that a pretty girl is waving at them, even if they're not quite sure who it is. The reporter nods her as she gets more details from the network.

"I understand you actually ran a kissing booth at the carnival? How much did you make, and for what charity?"

"Uh, for the Our Lady of Sorrows shelter, and we raised close to two grand in three hours."

"Wow!" Lisa turned to the camera, looking genuinely impressed. "Not bad for a day's work!"

"Yeah, I know, right? We're gonna raise a lot more than that today, though!"

The crowd cheers again, glad that the city's heroes are eager to lend a hand.

"Well knock 'em dead in there, Grimalkin!"

"Thanks, I'll try!"

She waves one last time, flashing a big smile at the camera, then backflips her way into the Dome.

"What a remarkable young lady! It looks like we're in for a heck of show tonight, Bill!"

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Dark Star sighed. He disliked these public media events intensely. He certainly never attended something like this before. Sure, he would stop and answer questions at the scene of some problem after he helped deal with whatever. but he didn't hang around for the cameras. This seemed like grandstanding to him, all based around violence too. He shook his head sadly. But at least the money was going to a good cause.

He floated down, hard to spot in the night's sky before stopping at the street. He didn't particularly want this attention, but it would have been rude to fly directly into the area. He answered questions honestly as he headed towards the inside, unable to blend in and not be noticed.

"No John. I'm not participating. My abilities, not to mention my personal beliefs, preclude me from entering. However I was still asked to be here and I do want to help. I'm here to referee apparently and make sure no one gets hurt of course. And I promised to assist in the construction as well once it gets under way. Just trying to do my part."

He took a moment to give a group of kids who clammored for attention a few moments to play in a zero gravity field as he continued onward.

"I agree Lisa. I think that promoting violence is not the best message to send. But I'm here because the cause behind it all is worthy."

"No no, there is no alien armada waiting to invade or other immenent catastrophe. The heroes and leaders of this world are prepared if such an even does occur but you and every other citizen should rest at ease. Space is quite breathtaking I agree and the galaxy is full of such wonders."

He moved a group of pushy papparrazzi gently back from crushing other fans. "No, last time I checked there were no people on Venus or Mars actually," he said, missing the point. But at least he made it through inside...

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The heroes were lead into what was probably one of the locker rooms by the staff and various signs. Inside the room were a few of the organizers and officials for the event. The two prominent figures were Eric Roberts, the owner of the Liberty Dome, and Patricia Nielson, the organizer for the event. They were going over all the usual fair for this sort of thing. Explaining the rules, and reminding you that this was to be a friendly event. They also noted a door off to the side for any of the female competitors to have privacy if they needed to change before the event. There were also some refreshments along one of the walls. This was more of a social gathering right now more than anything. A nice time to chat before you went out to have your bouts. And once again, everyone thanked the heroes for their participation.

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Jack of all Blades sauntered casually over to Ace Danger and crossed his arms. "So, you're really him, huh?" The younger man wore a cocky smirk that couldn't quite help slipping into something more genuine. Jack had been fascinated with the more roguish Golden Age heroes, snapping up every scrap and anecdote about la Renard Rogue or Spitfire Jones he could find. In truth, he could recite a handful of the Danger family's more public adventures by heart, and being in the same room as Ace himself was a bit wild. The swordsman hoped he'd get a chance to match himself against the celebrity adventurer's legendary wit.

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Long after Dark Star disappeared inside, Fulcrum slowly circled the venue. A look of intense concentration dominated her expression. Every few moments she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Finally she steeled her nerve, clinched her fists and began her descent, "You can do this, Mona. You fought extra-dimensional monstrosities and killer robots, you can deal with an...arena full of people watching you..."

Her confidence wavered but her approach did not. She landed on the red tape with a light step and took in the crowds. By now many people had turned their attention to actually getting into the event. Smiling and waving at the few that noticed, she slipped down the lane amid a new round of cheers and flash strobes. Lisa was busy talking to the camera, and Fulcrum silently thanked her luck.

Just when she thought she was home free, fate intervened. Three fans in the crowd yelled and held up a sign reading Go Fulcrum! Rock and Sock'em! All Mona could do was laugh and wave at her neighbors. That interruption was all Lisa needed.

As Fulcrum headed for the entrance, Lisa deftly intercepted her, "Fulcrum! I hear that, along with Atlas, you brought in quite a bit of money for the Foundation. What did you use as a fundraiser?"

The reporter's sudden appearance brought Fulcrum to a flustered halt. Her smile faltered a moment, but soon she knelt down to the microphone, "Several sources actually. I donated five of my original pieces to the Foundation. Two will be raffled off tonight, and the other three are up for the charity auction next week. Most of the money came from portraits done at other Foundation fundraisers, all proceeds going into the fund."

"Did you use any special subjects or topics?"

"They cover slices of life and landscapes in Freedom City. My favorites are a landscape of Riverside Park at sunrise and a group of kids playing street baseball in the West End."

"They sound lovely. Fulcrum, can you tell us more about your new cost..."

Fulcrum waved her hand and stood up, "Tonight is about the kids, and I really should be going. Pleasure to be here, Lisa. Thank you."

Moments later she entered the locker room for briefing.

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"In the flesh." Ace replied with a over the top bow and florish. He casually examined the young hero and added, "And you would be Jack of Blades. You've earned quite a name for yourself in the Southside."

Ace hoped this didn't have anything to do with the young man and his fellow Jacks' Tournament as some of the others had a rather poorer reputations than the gentleman before him, "Should we be expecting your fellows?" Ace inquired curiously always perfering to know if things might get a bit chaotic.

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"Well, Colt and Grim turned out," Jack replied, missing the adventurer's meaning, "but some of the Interceptors prefer to keep, y'know, a lower profile." He certainly didn't expect to see Blink or Razorwing in front of any cameras, anyway. It seemed right up All-Star's alley, but perhaps the big man was uninterested in a competition that wouldn't give him a chance to display his full power. Elektron... Jack really couldn't say one way or the other. The swordsman realized with a hint of shame that he'd made little effort to get to know the team's newest member. Admittedly, he'd been preoccupied with his thoughts, but even so...

That line of thinking took him down a path he'd been attempting to avoid for at least one evening with this raucous event, to a dilemma which had been plaguing him since the demon invasion - or rather since the invasion had ceased to have happened at all. It dawned on Jack that it was a problem with which the man before him had a singular expertise. Clearing his throat, he began, hesitation in his voice, "Uh, listen, all those stories about you, ah, coming back from, well, back to life -"

It was at that point Jack was interrupted by a ball peen hammer blow to that back of the head.

That's what it felt like, in any case. It took the swashbuckler a stunned moment to realize that it was his energy awareness, translating confusingly into his conventional senses as it always did. He'd long since grown used to the constant hum of living beings. Within the locker room, the respective glows of Colt and Grim were familiar, the former wafting the faint residue of dimensional travel and the latter sparkling with the ethereal sheen of transformative magics. Ace was much the same, though he had a sort of circular motion to him, an odd looping sensation. Atlas registered more strongly, as a rumbling, bass redness with an alien aftertaste Jack couldn't identify. Darkstar was a veritable cacophony of cosmic chimes and strings, but even he didn't have the effect of the figure who just entered the room.

Turning to the door, Jack was nearly overwhelmed. As his senses adjusted, he briefly saw the newcomer outlined as a silhouette backlit by a cascading explosion of pitch black energy. It carried with it an intense strangeness, not the oilslick discomfort of Dead Head's animating forces, but an almost active warping of the space around it. As he regained his composure the silhouette resolved into what Jack was surprised to recognize as the statuesque heroine Fulcrum. "Dios..." he managed faintly. Realizing his jaw was hanging open, he snapped it shut, his teeth practically vibrating with the dark energy that radiated from the blue and gold clad woman like a belladonna perfume. Well, that's new and unsettling.

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"Woh there, Big fella!" Colt said, as he strolled up to Atlas. "Ain't'cha a bit big fer this here whole fair fight thing? I mean we all saw wat'cha did ta them demons..."

Not needing to use the ladies' room to change due to the nature of her powers, Grim instead chose to leap onto Colt's back, wrapping her legs around his chest and giving him a quick kiss on the cheek; whenever she pulled a stunt like this, she always made sure to make a little bit of noise, so he'd be able to brace himself for impact.

"Howdy, cowboy!" Turning her attention to Atlas, she nodded vigourously to her boyfriend's comment. "Yeah, you totally kicked ass there, Atlas, though I guess we all did. Hi guys!"

She waved at the others, noting that all present are veterans of that horrible day; despite her cheerful demeanor, she still woke up in a cold sweat from vivid nightmares several times a week.

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"Howdy, cowboy!"

"Hey, fey!" Colt said, returning her thematic greeting as he tucked his hands under her legs to support her. After she nearly knocked his hat off, he decided to remove it altogether. He quickly freed one of his hands, removed it, and flipped it up onto Grim's head, lacking any other place to put it.

"Hey, reckon this'd make a good fight. You'n ma shoulders, an' two others the same way. We gotta hold you up, while the ones on top duke it out? What was that pool game ya were tellin' me 'bout? ...Chicken? It'd be like that."

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Ace cocked an eyebrow at Jacks sudden distraction. Fulcrum had made a bit of a name for herself, and with the rumors flying about the costume it certainly wasn't a surprise that people were a little taken aback. Ace felt that if the scrap of fabric gave her the confidence to use her abilities for justice and right she deserved it. Inspiration could take many forms after all.

"I like to say I'm too pretty to die." Ace said with a quick wink trying to get the conversation back on track before the young heroine was scared off by all the attention.

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"Ha, pretty, right," Jack said distractedly as he turned back around, briefly wincing as he covered one eye with the heel of hi hand. Having adjusted to the sheer amount of energy radiating from Fulcrum, it suddenly occurred to him that he recognized the type of energy. It reminded him vaguely of the reading he'd gotten from the alternate, medieval version of Omega he'd encountered alongside Darkstar. Could her powers be connected to the Terminus Invasion somehow? She looks too old to be a Terminus Baby. Still, he'd heard nothing but good things about the heroine, and she certainly wouldn't be the first to put abilities from a suspect source to noble use. If she wasn't advertising her secret origin, Jack wasn't about to bring it up, at least not is such a public venue. Doesn't mean she doesn't creep me the heck out.

Returning his attention to Ace, the swordsman did his best to compose himself. "Sorry, always did go a bit rubber necked around a pretty face," he grinned shamelessly. "Anyway, the reason I ask is... well, the whole 'Hell on Earth' thing, right? It's all pretty fuzzy, but I remember, uh, dying. Pretty clearly. Really clearly, actually. Then everything went back to the way it was and poof, here I am again. So yay. But I gotta tell you, little bit freaked out, on the whole." Jack rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, shrugging at Ace. "I guess what I'm asking is if there's like a 'So You Came Back To Life' pamphlet I should be reading or something."

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Atlas couldn't help but laugh at the antics of Colt and Grim. "Chicken!? Zem be fightan words zere!" said Atlas with mock indignation. He got into a 1900's British boxing pose. "Put zem up, put zem up." It was about that time that GrimColt realized Atlas was still bigger than the both of them, and if he timed it just right, he might be able to punch both of them in the face at the same time; that is of course only if GrimColt forgot how to duck all of a sudden. "I am surprised to see you here zough Colt. You alvays are using ze guns. I vonder if you even know how to throw a proper punch." grinned Atlas. He clearly wasn't being serious, he was just messing with Colt.

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Fulcrum smiled and waved at Ace and Jack. Getting the rundown from the organizer took only a moment, and in the process she glanced furtively back to Jack. Something about the way he looked at her seemed off. She was accustomed to getting strong reactions from people, but the colorful rogue looked like she had gut checked him. Considering what little she had heard of the swordman's reputation, she chalked it up to his demeanor with the ladies. Even if he did seem a bit out of character...

In any case more practical matters came first. Thanking Ms. Nielson, Mona headed past the two and into the lady's changing area. Soon enough she returned, her normal costume replaced by more appropriate boxing attire. The new look sported gold trunks, a white top and blue/gold-striped gym shoes. All matched her costume's hues and the blue boxing gloves over one shoulder. Since Ace and Jack appeared deep in conversation, she veered over to Colt, Grimalkin and Atlas while fighting her hair into a manageable pony tail.

Grinning, she hopped up to them stiff-legged, striking a similar pose to Atlas, "You dare insult a man of honor?" she chuckled, winking to Atlas, "Hi, guys. How's it going?"

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Atlas was floored. His arms and shoulders slacked as he looked at Fulcrum. Holy #$%^&! She's at eye level. Sure he was a bit taller than her, but not by much, especially compared to how he towered over everyone else. Atlas did his best to recover quickly, and was thankful that it was much harder to tell when he was blushing now. "Pleased to meet you. Fulcrum is it? Atlas." said Atlas as he remembered his manners and offered his hand to the new comer. He marveled for a moment at the fact that he didn't have to duck to do so.

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"Reckon I'm as good at punchin' as the next man, Atlas." Colt smiled at his imitation of a boxer. "Though, I actually prefer more'a a wrestlin' approach. I don't put all ma eggs in one basket. Just most'a'em."

When Fulcrum joined their discussion, Colt greeted her as well. "Howdy, Fulcrum, nice getup ya got there." Seeing as how Fulcrum was way above him, he jokingly added, "Grim, shake th' lady's hand fer me would'ja?"

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"No, no pamphlet." Ace replied with a soft laugh. "Its my understandign from consulting with some very knowledgeable folks that once the Invasion was prevented everything was reset." He explained casually.

Ace gently guided Jack to the remainder of the group and continued, "Some were more buffered from the temporal shift than others, so in truth you never actually died, though to your perception you certainly did." Ace smiled at the younger Hero, "As for advice I suggest you avoid saying anything about what you may or may not have seen while dead people get very particular about their opinions on the afterlife."

Ace shot Jack a quizical look to ensure the young man didn't have any further questions pauseing before they had joined the ranks of hte other fighters.

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"Right, yeah, never happened. Just checking," Jack nodded stiffly as Ace moved off. Intellectually he knew that it shouldn't be a problem; he was hardly the only person to have been saved by the invasions undoing. Still, he just hadn't been able to shake the lingering feeling of dread the incident had left him with, even weeks later. At least blabbing about the great beyond wasn't an issue; Jack couldn't remember anything about that. Honestly, that worried him more than a bit, too.

The swordsman did the best to push his concerns out of his mind as he sauntered over to the event's other participants. Unconsciously making sure there were at least a couple of other people between himself and Fulcrum's unsettling energy emissions, he glanced between the heroine and the similarly massive Atlas. "Jeeze, this has gotta be how you feel all the time, Grim," he remarked dryly with convincing levity.

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Dark Star moved over to the 'ring' while the others finished their various interviews. He didn't particularly enjoy the idea behind all this, but it was for a good cause as he had to keep reminding himself. He was just here as a referree. A token position really since no one hear would dream of doing anything underhanded. They were all heroes after all. Sure, they all had their faults, but who didn't? He was simply going to do the best he could to make sure everything worked out well for everyone.

He moved to the edge of the ring and waited, peacefully. He avoided sighing. There were so many other things he should be doing than baby sitting foolish brawlers. The orphans. Remember the orphans. He idly wondered if he shouldn't just go get a giant meteor for the cause and let them sell it. It was an idle thought though. He didn't want to interferre with the various commodities markets after all. He'd just have to wait, be patient and friendly as possible. Shouldn't be too hard considering that was what he generally did anyway.

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To be honest, Fulcrum was flattered by Atlas' fluster. Even if her size alone was the cause, but she couldn't be sure of that. Her smile turned coy, and she shook his hand firmly, enjoying a normal handshake just as much, "A pleasure to meet you too, Atlas." Another little wink and her attention shifted.

"Thanks, Colt. These are just my normal gym clothes if you can believe it." She offered her hand to Grim, "So this is the indomitable Grim, huh? Nice to meet you."

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