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alderwitch

1.21 Gigawatts [IC]

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Apparently, when Taylor said 'we bought a house with a yard so the baby would have more place to play', she really meant 'Jack and I looked around and thought that the apartment just didn't have enough creep factor so we bought a creepy old mansion to restore. It has a graveyard.' The place had a long and winding drive up to a Victorian era sprawling mansion that was perched on top of the hill. It looked like some sort of amalgamation of every scary house that any one ever had a broken down car in front of in any horror movie pretty much ever.

Taylor answered the door with a smile, already dressed up for an evening out. "Come on in. He's napping in front of the TV in the living room. One of the ghosts is keeping an eye on him at the moment."

She let the couple in, pointing out which parts of the house had already been retrofitted and which parts where still covered with sheets and waiting to be either restored or refitted with new furniture. The living room was entirely done, as was the kitchen and master bed and bath along with the nursery. Everything else was in mixed states of completion. "My cell number and Jack's are both written down so that should be easy enough and the baby's got a few bottles in the fridge if he needs them. You sure you're going to be alright?"

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Derrick smiled and nodded to Taylor as they walked in. "The house is rather rustic and historic. It fits you both," he said with a smile. It never occurred to him that the creepy mansion might scare or intimidate anyone, let alone not being the best place to raise a child (despite the child's heritage). He looked around curiously as she pointed things out. "The ghosts are helpful tenants," he asked curiously. He didn't encounter spirits too often and the last ones had been rather intent on destroying him.

He nodded. "You two go out and have a nice night off. I'm certain we'll be fine," he said despite the nervousness he felt. His baby experience was pretty much nonexistant and he really didn't know where to start either. Stesha did though and he was planning on taking some, ok all, of his cues from her. Besides, they were super heroes. What could possibly happen?

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Stesha did her best to disguise the fact that she was clinging to Derrick's arm even as she clung to Derrick's arm all through the tour of the house. Taylor was one of her best friends, but she had absolutely horrible taste in... well, pretty much everything. The entire house, inside and out, gave her the squirming collywobbles, and it was all she could do not to teleport away as fast as her little flowers could take her. Instead, she forced a cheerful smile. "No problem," she agreed. "You two have a good time. A great time. Think you'll be home by midnight?"

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"We'll try. If you can't find anything, just ask one of the ghosts. They sure help when Jack or I manage to get turned around. They're a little shy around new people but you'll get to know them in no time." She said as if that was all entirely reasonable logic. Her dimples flashed at Derrick, "This is really their house. Jack's been tracking down their bodies and setting them up in the expanded graveyard out back. I'll fire the wards up when I leave so you shouldn't have any trouble at all."

She pressed a quick kiss to the drowsing baby's forehead, the ghost who had been watching him vanishing quietly back into a clock at the entrance of the living. "Call if there's any problems!"

Taylor hugged them both and beamed, "Thanks so much for watching the baby again." Then she was clicking off towards the front door for her evening out.

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Derrick nodded. "Well that's good of him," he said in regards to Jack finding their bodies. It would probably help them find peace and all that, not that Derrick knew much about this sort of thing. It was nice that Jack was willing to go out of his way to help them. He returned the hug and waved as Taylor zipped off. "It'll be fine."

He looked down at the little fellow with a smile. He felt bad about not being around for the chaos that had happened during this little bundle's birth. Despite his inexperience, he couldn't help but marvel at the miracle of life. He was a little blessing to Jack and Taylor for sure. Derrick looked over at Stesha. "So...um, what now?"

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"We let him sleep," Stesha replied, still looking around uneasily at the mausoleum that was the new Casa Faretti. "As long as possible. Wow, I don't know how Taylor let herself be talked into this place. It looks like it belongs at Disneyland on Halloween. All it needs is a smirking tour guide and the overwhelming smell of funnel cake and greasepaint. Maybe I should offer to do her landscaping for her." She shuddered, sticking very close to Derrick as she sat down on the couch. At least that was new, if still in the black and red death and blood color scheme. "Poor little guy," she murmured. "Can you imagine growing up here?"

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Across the city on the steps of Freedom City Central Library there was a small thump as the only being to experience just that was without fanfare deposited. Still wearing the sandals and loose linen pants he'd been meditating in when everything had gone so very wrong he stood in the warm summer night lightly dusting himself and glancing around his surroundings curiously. There was no one here so whatever he had followed was long gone but at least he'd managed to get out. Now to see if he could figure out what had happened.

Looking around the empty streets he murmured a few words casting a hand up as a shimmering portal appeared before him for a fraction of a second before it slammed shut leaving him reeling for a moment. Shaking his head he made a quick gesture and vanished from sight as he crept down the stairs to try and puzzle out the next step. Why was his Masters home closed to him? There had to be an explanation, perhaps the same force as had locked him to the void had sealed the sanctum. He would have to investigate and if he was going to investigate he'd need clothes more appropriate to the task, preferably from somewhere that wouldn't raise suspicion that the Master Mage had been sealed in his sanctum.

With another wave of his hand the portal opened once more closing behind him as he abandoned his invisibility to creep among the shadowed landscape outside his childhood home.

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As Stesha and Derrick were settling in, the bravest of the household's ghostly inhabitants was prodded by the rest of the collective to approach the living. Before she appeared however, both Jack Jr. in the graveyard would see a few white and faintly glowing heads peaking out of tombstones and vanishing quickly back into their tombs. After a few moments the clock that the babysitter from earlier had vanished into began to wind its way backwards, setting the chimes off.

When Stesha and Derrick looked over, the face of a young woman appeared in the glass face for a few moments before vanishing only to reappear in the mirror that hung over the fireplace. After a second or two of looking like Alice behind the Looking Glass, she raised one semi transparent hand and tapped politely.

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Derrick looked the place over again. "It's a little dark but not that bad. I'm sure Taylor and Jack will fix the place up and make it more...um, colorful. It just needs to be fixed up, right?" He was doing his best to be polite and respectful. But the place was a bit dim and a tiny bit imposing especially to a child. He had faith in them to make it more suitable for a child though.

He glanced over at the clock curiously as it ran backwards and chimed. "I think that clock my be broken," he said idly, before he noticed the face inside. He waved a little at the face. "Uh, hello there," he said.

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"I think it's more than broken," Stesha murmured, her fingers digging into his arm a little painfully as she watched the apparition in the clock, then in the big mirror. This was definitely the point, if this were a horror movie, that the formerly benevolent ghosts would start chasing them around with spectral butcher knives. But it wasn't a movie, she reminded herself, and it wasn't like they were normal, knife-vulnerable people. "Ah, hello," she called. "Come in?" She wasn't exactly sure how you addressed a ghost nanny, or whatever this critter was. "The baby's still sleeping, he's doing just fine."

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Jack wasn't too surprised the ghosts had seen him he was used to their more mystical senses uncovering his sneaking about. He was however put on edge by their skittishness, normally they would come up to berate or welcome or something. The hiding made him think something was wrong, perhaps whoever had attacked Eldrichts Sanctum had also been here? He slowly crept closer to the house and peeked in the windows. It looked like his parents were having another remodel done while they were away and he took advantage of a loose window as he burst into a puff of floating mist to slide through the gap pooling low on the floor and listening for sounds of trouble.

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The ghost looked relieved to have got their attention and her spectral form faded out along with the reflection and the mirror shimmered to show them the graveyard where Jack Jr. was and then the mist pouring into a room upstairs. Of course, since Jack Jr. was hiding, all it showed was creepy empty rooms and long twisting hallways before her nervous face reappeared. The ghosts were sensing the baby's mystical signature in two entirely different locations and it was making them all nervous.

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Stesha watched the reflections in the mirror, looking at Derrick and then back to the ghost with growing concern. "Are you saying that something got into the house?" she asked the ghost. "Something from the graveyard?" The ghost nodded, and suddenly an image of Jack Jr., peacefully sleeping in his bassinet. "Something's coming for the baby." Hastily, she got up and gathered Jack Jr. up from where he was sleeping, cuddling him protectively. "Well, they won't get him! Can you see anything?" she asked Derrick nervously.

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Derrick watched curiously as the images appeared. He didn't think much of it until the mist though. He'd seen Jack do that one many times after all. Stesha's words and worried tone put it all together for him. "The mist. It might be a vampire." He wasted no time, letting his own power come forth. "No one and nothing shall touch him, don't worry. But let's just make sure this isn't one of Jack's associates or something first," he said, not wanting to jump to conclusions. Nevertheless, he let his senses reach our, scouring the house for a possible threat or intruder.

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Jack slid silently through the house a small low hanging pool of mist willing himself to be overlooked, to be unseen as he moved through the house for some sign of what had the ghosts so on edge. Most of the house seemed to be under construction but he knew where wouldn't be. A creature of habit his father refused to change the master bedroom, there would be clothes there as well so that's where he headed.

Safely ensconced in the inner sanctum he coalesced and still taking care to be silent avoid notice quickly dug out what he was looking for. He pulled on the night black shirt and gloves, followed by the jeans and boots, slid into the battered leather jacket, and with a full smile pulled the mask down over his face. If nothing else it should earn him a moments surprise.

Costume complete he ghosted through the house to see if he could uncover what was happening.

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Dark Star's senses exploded outward, down to seeing the caskets in the freshly dug earth and up to the high rafters of the forgotten recesses in the attic. Movement caught his attention up in the Master bedroom and he tuned in just to see a familiar form pulling his hockey mask over the black ski mask. It had been almost half a year since he'd seen Avenger in the old costume but the masked figure moved with the same lethal grace before vanishing with Jack's usual see-me-now-you-don't. Now, why Jack was skulking around his house when he was supposed to be on a date with his wife was another matter entirely.

Satisfied that the living were going to protect the baby, the mirror in the living room faded into a simple mirror once more, the ghost girl vanishing much as she'd appeared.

As for Jack Jr., the only noises in the old house were coming from the living room. Upstairs, again, there was a definite lack of scolding apparitions. Even Ms. McNattery hadn't shown up yet to waspishly inform him that he still needed a haircut.

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Dark Star's shoulders relaxed as his senses searched the home and found someone. True to his form, he went with the best possible outlook. "Oh, it's alright. It's just Jack. He must have forgotten his costume or had the old one wrecked maybe. See? Even the ghost left," he said pointing at the now-normal looking reflection. He checked the house once more, just to be safe, but nothing else amiss came to his 'sight'. "False alarm I guess."

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"Jack?" Stesha asked, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet to keep the baby snoozing. "That doesn't make any sense! Taylor would've called to tell us if they were coming home for something. She knows how I feel about Jack, she wouldn't have sent him sneaking around unannounced. And why would the ghosts be upset? They apparently know Jack and Taylor already. If there's another vampire around, and he's disguised as Jack, we've got some big trouble on our hands."

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Jack steadily made his way silently and hidden through the house to the living room where the only signs of life seemed to be. Lurking in the shadows outside the doors he looked in to see what had the ghosts so upset. As he caught sight of the rooms sole inhabitants he grew puzzled. The Lumins were well known, and why was he here as Darkstar? Perhaps they had run off whatever intruders had come. His thoughts whirled and he nearly stepped out to ask what had happened when he caught sight of the infant in Steshas arms. She had always all but refused to bring their children over and none of them were near that young. It slowly dawned on him that there was but one explanation as impossible as it seemed. He dropped back into the comfort of the shadows and watched to confirm his suspicions.

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Dark Star looked at Stesha and frowned. He tended to be a bit more trusting, but she was getting a little agitated and was making sense too he guessed. "Maybe you're right," he said. He turned his senses to focusing outward once more but he could find nothing. Just like Jack, this pretender had vanished. Dark Star's relaxed manner immediately shifted, though likely only those who knew him would notice. "Uh, he's vanished. I can't find him anywhere." He shifted his thoughts a little, readying himself for battle as he continued to search around using his senses. "Maybe the spirits can help find him for us," he whispered to Stesha softly.

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Stesha held the baby closer and scattered a few seeds on the carpet as a precautionary measure. They began to grow immediately, curling vines and tendrils along the carpet that would act as a shield or a trap in a pinch. Or, if necessary, an escape route. "I'm nervous about teleporting with the baby," she murmured to Derrick, looking anxiously into the corners. "If he gets an idea into his head and teleports himself, we have no way to find him again. That would be... very bad."

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Jack watched their preparations cautiously as the situation Began to sink in. All the pieces were starting to fit together now, and the picture was not one he really wanted to see. As Stesha spoke about the chance of the infant teleporting it left little doubt who she was holding.

His shoulders slumped against the wall behind him and he let out a breath he had been holding who knows how long and murmured, "Whew boy." almost silently before realizing he'd let a sound slip and snapping his eyes to attention once more hoping futilely they hadn't noticed his lapse in concentration.

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"There!" Dark Star flickered as his senses latched onto the impostor's slip. Without thinking, he reached out and grabbed the intruder in a telekinetic grip, well aware of their tendency to go insubstantial on him. He wasn't going to let go though, not until he knew what was going on. "I don't know who you are, but you are not Avenger. Who are you and what are you doing here? Tell me what is going on and I won't feel compelled to have one of the most powerful telepaths in the world pull the information from you." He normally wouldn't call someone like Scarab for this; it was violating their mind after all. But this was Jack and Taylor's child on the line here and Dark Star was playing it safe.

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"Show yourself!" Stesha demanded in turn. Dark Star surely had the situation under control, but she helped as best she could, sending vines shooting over in that direction, prepared to dogpile and restrain anything that attempted to get past. "You've no right to be here, but surrender now and we promise we won't hurt you." She couldn't make the same promise for Jack and Taylor when they found out, but that was neither here nor there. Her voice roused the baby, who started to whimper against her shoulder. "Shh, shh," she murmured, kissing the little forehead. "It's okay, we won't let anyone hurt you."

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For his first solo foray this was not going at all how he had hoped or expected. Then again he was still reeling with the implications of his situation. He strained futilely against Darkstars gravtic grip this was definitely not how he wanted to start things off. He paused to take stock of the situation and considered telling them but he had no idea what kind of impact that could have on the time line.

He went slack against the bindings and stared at them through the eyeholes of the mask, "I'm sorry to say I can't tell you that." he replied coolly, "Don't bother calling Psyche either she wo..." he trailed off with a wince if he was an infant Psyche would be like 13 or something. "I really can't say more but if you'll just let me down I'll be on my way and you two can get on with your evening." he explained firmly.

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