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Ecalsneerg

Banking On It [IC]

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Claremont cafeteria, evening meal

It was dinner time at the Claremont Academy, students filtering down to get lunch and sit in their little cliques. It was a fairly quiet evening, without the usual panoply of food fights, catfights and fist fights.

The downside? It was mystery meat day.

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Mike stared quizzically down at the "meat" on his plate silently hopeing it was in fact some kind of processed soy food as meat should definitely not be that color. "Yea Alex definitely won out with the special training tonight." he mumbled as he headed towards the corner Mark and the other Young Freedom crowd frequented, situated a strategic opposite from the Next Gen tables.

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Eddie flopped down in the seat next to Mike. "I think you got that one right, Mike." He frowned at the food in front of him. A well known beat started playing over the air as Eddie solemnly stared at the meal in front of him. As the lyrics started playing, the others realized that it wasn't quite the song that they'd expected. "I really wish we could petition to put in a deli or something good."

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"Hey, the food here isn't that bad," said Mark, chewing on the poutine and hamburger mix that was one of his favorite ethnic foods. "I mean, it's a little weird sometimes, but we've got students from many lands. Aw man, last year, we had International Food Day, that was freaking sweet. Until Ultiteen made her souffle. It turns out her people, wherever she's from, they don't normally eat much, so her souffle was...I don't know. It was some sort of thing." He made an inarticulate gesture with his hands, then shrugged. "Have you guys seen Faith lately?"

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Faith was not used to the lunchroom. It was quite different. She usually cooked for Mark. Or Nicholas. Definitely for herself. But Mark suggested they do this. They would meet here. She didn't see him anywhere. Apparently she was late and had to do this by herself. She got stuck in line between a quiet pink haired girl that gave her the willies and and a ebony-skinned girl that did the same. She couldn't wait to get out of this line. Looking at the choices for the food she saw grease, grease, grease, salad that wouldn't last three bites, and grease. When it was her turn she quickly ordered what looked like a somewhat moderate sized calzone and a cherry slushie. Quickly scurrying into the main dining room she looked around for Mark. THERE HE WAS! She hurriedly walked to the table where he was and sat down next to him. Greeting him with a hug he could almost feel her heart beating through her chest. "Mark," she whispered in hsi ear, "if we do this again can you wait for me?"

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Mike looked somewhat confused to Faith, he'd have thought that by now she would have realized that planning and waiting were not really Marks strong suit. He shrugged maybe she was the one and he would change for her. "I dunno Mark its usually pretty good but..." He trailed off as he poked at the gray brown chunk under the thick 'gravy' "I dunno about today."

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"Uh, okay," said Mark, sounding honestly confused. "Sorry if I made you worry," he added apologetically. He pecked her on the cheek and said, "Really, I think it's healthy to eat in the cafeteria. It keeps you grounded, keeps you from just eating refined food all the time. You guys should get the burger more often."

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"No way, man." Eddie replied, shoveling some of the mashed potatoes into his mouth as he spoke. Quickly swallowing he finished his thought. "The burger costs like a buck extra on top of the meal plan. It's totally not worth it." In went more mashed potatoes.

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Faith let go of Mark and poked at the large calzone with a fork. It was probably the only appetizing thing on the lunch menu, and that wasn't saying much. Still she was hungry and she had to eat. She began to carve the meal with her plastic fork. She stuck the greasy bread cheese and meat in her mouth and chew while smiling apprehensively. Much to her surprise it wasn't bad. It wasn't something she'd eat every day, but it wasn't bad. She nodded to Mark, "I guess. It couldn't hurt to eat here every once in a while." She sighed and ate another bite. After she was finished with it, she wiped her mouth with a napkin and smiled to Mark, "I mean, it's not better than my cooking is it?"

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Mike shrugged, "Yea the burgers are better but you can't do that everyday." He replied as he picked at the plate before him.

"Of Course today would have been the day to go that route." He agreed as he took another bite followed by a large gulp of his juice. When Faith offered her opinion he kept his head down wholly confused at how the world worked in her head. Maybe Mark and her were meant for each other after all.

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"No, baby," said Mark reassuringly, "your cooking is the best ever." He smiled at her, and in her eyes totally forgot about the weird doubts he'd had about their relationship lately...for a little while, anyway. Faith wasn't _that_ into him, anyway. "So, Mike," he asked, "are you and Alex going out anywhere tonight?" he asked hopefully.

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Mike looked up and quickly swallowed his mouthful of food, "Nothing in particular." He replied, "We'll probably hang out or patrol if she doesn't have homework she still needs to do." He explained with a shrug. "We've been doing dance classes Thursday nights but that's the only scheduled thing." He added as an afterthought.

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Food. Sustenance. Life giving edible proteins. Darian needs them now. The food generator in the lab was recharging, so he had to get real food. Sure he could pop out in Tokyo or Italy and experience real cuisine, but he wants to be with his companions too. Spending his days as a teacher's aid didn't give him much interaction with kids his age. And when he did have time to himself it seemed everyone was busy. But dinner time is the perfect time talk to people. Food be damned. Actually not, he grabs a some fruits and some vegetables along with a few cartons of milk. Now to find some place to sit. He remembers Chris has some friends he sits with. Those friends happen to be Young Freedom. Quark does not want to interrupt their sanctified bastion. He just wants to sit with somebody he knows. Taking his tray full of fruits and vegetables over to the Young Freedom table, he doesn't sit down. He quietly addresses them, "Hello, have any of you seen Chris around?"

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Eddie looked up at the other boy, recognizing him, his face lit up. "Hey, Bid D. I actually haven't seen Chris since this morning. You wanna sit?" Eddie asked him, noting the anxious look on his face. "Chris will probably show up soon, I'm sure. You're welcome to wait with us if you want."

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Suddenly, all those present with communicators felt them sounding off. "This is Geckoman. There's this robbery in progress, requesting back-up at my current position. Hostages have been taken. Someone get down here!"

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Mike had just moved aside his bag to make more room for Darien when the alert poured out of his communicator. He came to his feet in a flash and in a blur his civies were replaced but the blue and gold of his Phalanx costume. Subtlety regarding his secret ID was not something he had mastered yet.

He looked to Breakdown and Quark, "I can carry Edge and Seraph easily do you guys need a lift?"

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Eddie stood bolt upright from the table. I'm on it, buddy. His thoughts were transmitted over the airwaves to Geckoman's radio.

"No, Phalanx. No need." He used one hand to extract the tray from Darian's hand, letting it clatter carelessly to the table in his haste. His other hand drew an iPod out of they grey and black messenger bag that never left his side. "I'll get us there faster." His fingers flew around the iPod's menu. One last press, and the collection of teens at the table disappeared entirely.

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They arrived at the bank shortly thereafter (after a couple of brief stops). The building was surrounded by police, and Geckoman was discussing something with one of them.

"Hey, guys," he said, raising a hand in greeting. "The robbers are inside, with hostages at gunpoint. We need some sort of plan for getting them taken out." He frowned momentarily. "Psyche not with you?"

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"No, which is too bad, because I could use her to solve this thing easy-peasy," said Edge, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. He'd changed into his costume in a moment, and had encouraged Faith to put on her school uniform as well. "If I could just see inside there, I could help them all out. I wouldn't even need to be near the building to do it. Do the cops have a security camera set up or something, like in those SWAT movies?"

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"Well," Breakdown supplied. He was also in his costume, which had been evolving recently. He now sported the blue and gold spandex school uniform, but on top of it, he wore his green camo cargo pants and motorcycle jacket. His gloves and visor were present as usual, and he sported a pair of high top red converse all stars on his feet. "I could get us in there. Or out of there, for that matter. But I'm betting those guys have some pretty itchy trigger fingers. Any one of us goes in there, and it's gonna be worse than Cobain."

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Faith nodded happily when Mark agreed with her cooking prowess. She so loved making things for him and doing things that made him happy. Then the nerdy kid joined them, asking for Chris, she would have answered her not knowingness after Eddie, but was interrupted before she could open her mouth by Chris himself! It sounded serious. She could teleport them there herself but was beat to the punch by Breakdown. When Edge encouraged her to put her costume on she smiled and nodded. A bubble of psionic light surrounded her where no one could see. She had not yet mastered the art of changing in an instant. She pulled off her dress and shoes and pulled the costume out of her book bag. She tried as fast as she could to put the skintight school uniform on. The bubble of light dissipated when she was done. She stuffed the shoes and dress in the book bag and curtsied to Edge, seeking his approval.

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"Do the cops have a security camera set up or something, like in those SWAT movies?"

"Unfortunately, it got shot out. These guys have really planned this one."

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Phalanx frowned, "Well I can't show it to you but I can at least get us the layout and where everyone is." He said as he began to peer intently at the bank, "If its like all the movies they'll have herded everyone into one area and maybe we can get in to a different spot and surprise them." He continued to explain as he looked through the walls of the bank passing on his best description of the interior as he did so.

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"I've got an idea," said Edge. He fired his grapple gun at the roof of the nearest building and was soon climbing his way up the side, just like Adam West in the old Raven TV show. Over his commlink, he said, "I just need to get high enough so I can see all the police officer's guns! And you guys better be ready to move in real fast if the bad guys do anything bad!"

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"Bad guys doing bad things?" Breakdown questioned Edge's phrasing. "Surely that could never be!"

"We're ready when you are, Edge. Just give us the sign." Breakdown had his hand poised over the buttons on his left arm. He was ready to rock and roll whenever things started getting crazy.

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