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Sword & Sheath (IC)

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"This is getting kind of silly."

Gaian Knight stood in the road somewhere - he really had no idea where - in the West End. The sun was going down, the streets were empty, and it would have been a fairly nice night if he wasn't currently stuck in a fight with several copies of a guy Gaian would have sworn was cheating somehow. If criminals had rules. Which they really didn't. They ought to have rules.

"Really very kind of silly. I chase you all the way from Freedom City University and now you decide to put up a fight...and all you do is throw clones of yourself at me." A couple of the rocks hovering around his shoulders flew over to hit one of the copies in the stomach; the guy groaned and disappeared, but another just stepped forward to take his place. "Can't we just work something out, here? We're really getting nowhere. Just return the stuff you've been stealing and we can-"

The clone behind him had grabbed a board somewhere, and broke it - harmlessly, though it was certainly felt - over the hero's chestplate. "So that's a 'no', then."

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On a rooftop nearby, a figure in royal blue stood watching the fight below, one leg propped jauntily on a brick outcropping while his greatcoat flapped in the breeze about his ankles. "Hey buddy, want a hand down there," the swashbuckler known as Jack of all Blades called, cupping his hands around his mouth.

A coltish young woman in crimson appeared next to him, stepping closer to the edge of the roof to get a better look. "You're asking permission?" she observed with a raised eyebrow.

"Some people can be very touchy about the team-up thing," Jack advised his sister. "Guy's got a sword, see? Little professional courtesy rarely goes amiss."

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Gaian blinked, glancing up at the voice while he dodged another board. Where do they get these things? "Wouldn't mind it if you're offering!" he called back, another copy of the guy getting in a hit to his shoulder - that one actually hurt. "I'd kind of like to not destroy the street, you know? They keep popping up a little faster than I can put them down without property damage."

The one that got in the shoulder hit was rewarded with a rock to the noggin, but the copy to his left just split into two again when their injured comrade faded away. The coat-clad scowled behind the mask and goggles, bringing a couple rocks back up by his shoulders. "You guys are really, really annoying."

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"Ooh, geokinesis," Jill observed interestedly.

"Look, if you're just going to make up words..." he brother responded as he swung down on his grapple to the street below, booting a pair of the clones in the head and setting down lightly on the street in the space cleared by their blinking out of existence.

Still of the rooftop, the teenage girl rolled her eyes as a gesture caused a shimmering, translucent blue barrier to block a clone thrown trash bin. "He controls rocks with his mind," she called down.

A flick of his wrist brought Jack's lighter into his hand and lit in one smooth motion, a blazing rapier forming there with the ease of practiced motion. "Well, I can see that." As ever more duplicates swarmed the street, he turned to the goggle wearing fighter. "If you're waiting for an invitation to break out the steel, pal..."

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Gaian unconsciously rested a hand on the hilt of his sword, trying to clear out a group of the copies with a machine-gun fire of little rocks. A line of five or so fell, and didn't get replaced quite as quickly as lone defeated copies did. "Y'know, I would, but I'm really not sure it'd improve the odds."

He glanced over at the fiery blade, raising an eyebrow (the distraction earning him a tear in his coat, though thankfully not his person). Well there's something new. "Neat trick. Is that you, or a fancy lighter?"

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Jack looked incredulously over at the rock slinging hero, casually blocking a blow from a clone out of the corner of his eye. "What? Seriously? Do you not know who I am?"

"You're not as famous as you think, hermano!" Jill called out, creating a force field ramp to slide down to street level.

"I'm totally famous," the swashbuckler insisted. "Jack of all Blades! Defeated the Meta-Grue downtown? Fought off the Crime League at the Liberty Dome? Any of this ringing a bell?"

"Such a diva," his sister scoffed. "I'm Jill, Jill O'Cure."

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"Jack of...hmm." Gaian frowned, eyeing the pair. "No, don't think I know of you. ....sorry. I guess I really don't keep up with the news as much as I should." Well, this is awkward.

He was almost glad when he saw someone hurl an empty beer bottle at them, pulling together a small wall of debris to block it. Anything was better than completely fail to recognize someone he apparently should. "Gaian Knight, pleased to meet you both. I'm afraid the only fame I have is sort of turning the bay into a lake a few months back."

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"If it was a news story he wasn't in, he didn't see it," Jill predicted, bobbing and weaving through the violent duplicates to reach the pair at the center of the riot. Bringing her arms in tightly, she pushed them out again abruptly, and ring of energy surrounded the heroes, a shimmering blue barrier that seemed to stimy the clones while allowing Gaian Knight's projectiles to pass unhampered.

"Yeah, yeah," her brother grumbled before turning back to the hooded man. "Whatever. You wanna let us in on the one man mosh pit here?"

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"Huh. Nice trick. I wish my walls did that...maybe if I had a lot of sand or something...." Now there's a thought. I'm going to have to head to the beach and try that later. Sweeping an arm out, Gaian sent a score of blunt rocks to mow down another line of copies.

"I'm usually over in downtown," he explained, taking the chance to rub his shoulder. "There was a string of thefts over at Freedom City University. Televisions, laptops...you know, the usual stuff. Plus some...uh, some things a gentleman doesn't steal. Three days of watching to finally catch the guy in the act, and he makes me chase his sorry butt all the way to the West End. As near as I can tell this is his only trick, and the more of these things he pulls out the dumber they get. It was sort of a stalemate until you showed up - thanks, by the way. I'm trying to cut down on damaging the streets. It's a royal pain to put them back together again. Not-" He reflexively tucked at a thrown bit of wood, even though it just bounced off the shield. "-that this guy isn't making me tempted."

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"Gee, being cognisant of property damage," Jill drawled with a pointed look at her brother. "What a novel concept."

"Funny lady," Jack retorted flatly before returning his attention to mob of identical thugs. "Right then. Let's just mop this lot up and track down the real one. Door!" On cue, a gap opened in the faintly glowing barrier large enough for the swordsman to fit through. One of the clone attempted to squeeze inside first, and received a boot to the head for his efforts. The force field closing behind him, Jack of all Blades went to work, fiery rapier flashing back and forth as he weaved through the crowd, duplicates winking out of existence in his wake.

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"It's kind of a new thing," Gaian admitted. "I thought I'd give it a try. So far I think I'm better off just apologizing to road crews and taking an hour or two out of my day to lend a hand patching things up. It'd save me a lot of...trouble." He trailed off as he watched Jack go to work on the copies.

Not to be entirely done he 'grabbed' a couple bricks that'd been chucked his way earlier, sending them spinning into the rapidly-thinning crowd on the other side of the force field. He had to admit, though, that he wasn't doing quite the impressive level of damage the swordsman was...and was fairly distracted watching said swordsman work. "You two," he observed, somewhat redundantly, "are a very impressive pair."

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"Can I get a 'what what?'" Jack grinned, sidestepping a clumsy punch and bopping its owner over the head with the hilt of his blade.

"No. No you may not," Jill replied flatly, shifting her stance as he reinforced one section of the barrier against a group of clones who'd decided to hurl Gaian Knight's projectiles back at him the old fashioned way.

Her brother clucked his tongue in annoyance, the banter not impairing the rate at which he was thinning the crowd in the least. "Can I bargain you down to a congratulatory fist bump?"

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Gaian Knight chuckled. I like these two. If half the kids in my classes had half as much spirit....

"Tell you what," he said, giving the rear group an object lesson in why you shouldn't throw earth back at the earthmover; as he swept out a hand the bricks picked themselves up and spun in a wide circle, scything through the crowd...as much as a couple blunt objects can scythe, anyway. It wasn't as good as spikes from the ground, but it'd do. "If you can't get a fist bump from your friend here, I've gone one waiting when we've mopped up. It's the least I can offer."

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"Ah, don't sweat it, Gai," Jack called back, clearly having some fun with the rapidly diminishing intelligence of the clone horde. Sticking out his foot, he tripped a charging duplicate, sending it hurtling into a small group, the lot of them crashing into the ground and winking away. "Baby sisters, what can you do?" He left the diminutive in English for their new friend's benefit.

The indicated sibling snorted derisively. "Right, because you're clearly the adult one. Big brother, big rocks in his head," she informed Gaian Knight frankly.

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"Hey now. No need to be so insulting," the earth-mover replied, just barely keeping laughter out of his voice. "Rocks have feelings too, you know." He 'grabbed' the spinning bricks as they fell, swinging them back up into the crowd. "Siblings? That would certainly explain the banter. No one trades lines like-"

Pausing, Gaian Knight turned to blink as one of the bricks caught someone in the crowd with a 'thump!', the man grunting and holding his stomach but staying on his feet. Hello, there. I'm pretty sure copies don't go 'thump'. "Well! Look who I found. Those televisions and undergarments don't really seem worth it now, do they?"

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"Nice!" Jack congratulated Gaian Knight as he swiftly dispatched the remaining duplicates. "So, what's this jerk go by, anway? Lemme guess: Doub-Bill!"

Jill snorted as she let her force field fence shimmer away and walked casually to stand next to her brother. "Not everyone needs to make their sobriquet a horrible, horrible pun, y'know."

"You did," the elder sibling pointed out, crossing his arms.

"Yeah, 'cause you'd already established a theme, hadn't you?" She crossed her own arms in response. "Honestly, I was my hands of it."

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"Nothing wrong with a good pun," Gaian commented as he wrapped the disoriented duplicator in a few layers of stone and lifted him off the ground. "I'd probably use a pun-based name myself if I'd picked it. As for this guy...that's a good question, actually."

Tilting his head, the powered professor turned his captive upside-down and held him at head level, where the guy just growled and made angry noises. "I guess he'll have time to pick one in prison? Won't you, buddy. When he gets his wits back, anyway; from what I hear that might take a bit. At least he's caught, now...can't thank you enough for you help. Er, again."

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"Huh, rock restraints. That's handy," Jill commented, lifting her left hand as a virulent green glow surrounded it. "I was just going to make him to sick to move without throwing up all over the place."

"Because classy is how we roll," Jack chimed in cracking his neck in a relaxed manner as he moved to join them, te blazing rapier evaporating from his hand. Addressing Gaian Knight, he contined, "Don't sweat it. Somebody pulls something in the West End, they have to deal with us." He punctuated each word by tapping the captured criminal on the forehead. "So, what's the deal with the sword, if you don't use it?"

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"I find there are very few problems that can't be solved with enough rocks," Gaian replied, turning the guy back right-side-up and leaving him suspended there. "Very underestimated, these rocks."

Addressing Gaian Knight, he contined, "Don't sweat it. Somebody pulls something in the West End the have to deal with us." He punctuated each word by tapping the captured criminal on the forehead. "So, what's the deal with the sword, if you don't use it?"

Scratching his chin through the facecloth, Gaian shook his head. "It was a gift from a magic answering machine. I honestly couldn't tell you much more than that."

He drew the sword, holding it up for inspection - Jack's and his own, as he peered at it, daring it to... I don't even know. Talk, or something. That wouldn't surprise me at all. "Near as I can tell it never goes dull, it doesn't rust, it can't be chipped or broken, and only I can draw it." He paused, chuckled, and added, "Drawing it is about all I can do, though...I'm pretty awful with the thing. I only carry it with me because I never feel right if it's away for too long."

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"Sure," Jack nodded agreeably at Gaian Knight's explanation, "it happens."

His sister gave him a flat look. "What."

He simply shrugged in reply. "We hang out with a cowboy from another dimension and a tiny magic pixie girl. It happens." Turning back to their new friend, he idly scratched the stubble on his exposed chin. "Well, duh, it's not going to dull or chip if you don't use it. Tch, look, you want to hold it like this, see?" Swinging to stand parallel to Gaian Knight, he adopted a loose fighting stance and mimed a grip on a hilt.

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"No, I mean...hm." Gaian Knight studied Jack's pose for a moment before mimicking it - not very well, but it was a start. "I'm going to need a little more wrist strength, I think," he observed. "For long fights, anyway, if I ever intend to use this thing. As for chipping...."

He relaxed the pose, calmly bringing the sword up over his head and, both hands on the hilt, and brought it down on a conveniently-forming 'blade' of solid rock with considerable force. The rock was barely even harmed - a testament either to what it as made out of, or the power that made it - and the sword, when he brought it back up to eye-level, didn't have so much as a scratch. "I mean that it does not chip. Or get hurt in general. A few lucky thugs have even caught the thing with bullets; I ran it on a grindstone once for half an hour just to experiment, and the thing was as sharp as it was when I got it. It ruined the grindstone, even."

Shrugging, he went back to mimicking the stance, adjusting his legs a little to better match Jack's. "Like this?"

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Jack looked Gaian Knight's stance up and down with an ill concealed wince. "Yeesh..."

Next to him, Jill slugged her brother in the shoulder, casting a reprimanding look his way. "Be nice."

"What?" he protested, rubbing his arm before turning back to the amateur swordslinger. "Alright, look, you're stance is kinda wonky, but the main thing is your grip. Hold it like it's a third section of your arm, see?"

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Gaian chuckled, trying to adjust his grip. "Nothing wrong with a little criticism, miss. I promise, my ego can take it - it's certainly better than thinking I've perfected the grip...right up until someone knocks the sword out of my hand. Something tells me there are bad hands for magic swords to fall into."

He glanced at Jack again and re-adjusted, getting a somewhat better feel for the hilt. "I'm not really used to holding my own arms. Let's see, here...."

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"No, see, there's your problem, don't think about holding a weapon," Jack insisted, stepping over to adjust Gaian Knight's stance, knocking one foot a little to the right and bringing his elbow down slightly. "Look when you do the thing with the rocks, you're not imagining moving each bit by hand, right? You picture the result, the rest follows." The swashbuckler took a pair of steps back to get a better look at the older man's corrected positioning. "You're not holding your arm, it is your arm."

Hopping up to take a seat on the rocky outcropping the geokinetic had created to demonstrate his blade's durability, Jill raised an eyebrow. "Is it bad that some of that almost made sense to me?"

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"Hm," he grunted, looking down at his feet. "That's easy for you to say; I say moving tons of rock is easier. It listens better than my arm does."

Still, years of study had made Tarrant - and thus, Gaian Knight - a good student. He took a moment to memorize his 'fixed' position (and, without glancing up, remold some of the rock around Jill into a more proper chair; never leave a lady in the most uncomfortable seat in the house) before closing his eyes and trying to concentrate less on what he looked like in a fighting stance, and more on what it felt like to be in the fighting stance. The weight of the sword, the balance on his feet. His hand and legs relaxed a little as he settled back, wishing he could feel out metal as well as he did earth.

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