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Raveled

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts (IC)

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December 22

Early evening

Freedom City was in the festive mood: red and green and white lights were strung from lamp posts and eaves; pine wreaths adorned windows and storefronts; brightly colored Christmas trees were interspersed with scenes of religious devotion; and the air waves were dominated by well-wishers, charity drives, and joyful carols. Soaring above it all with a cheerily wrapped sphere hugged to one hip, Ironclad hummed along with the music. The city really was beautiful, at least from high up enough, but as the superheroine moved out from the waterfront stores and homes were replaced by drab factories and dark warehouses. She double-checked her map and started dropping, even as she paid more attention to her sensors.

A few blocks out from her destination something caught the superheroine's eye. She double-checked her sensorium, running it back in a small window and -- yep, right there. A heat source flickered out of existence for a brief second, then reappeared. As Ironclad watched, the human-shaped heat source bent in a frankly impossible manner, stepped sideways -- and disappeared again. She frowned beneath her mask and checked her map again. Dragonfly's warehouse wasn't too far away, and this twigged the heroine's senses as something dangerous. She dropped to the nearest roof and peered over, scanning the alleyway.

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Maybe I should ask Dragonfly for a map or something.

This was probably the longest it had ever taken for her to find Dragonfly's warehouse, and not that she knew exactly how long she had been out there. It felt something like forty or so minutes, but it was probably longer. Thankfully she had avoided most the trouble on the way over since no one noticed the extra shadow with the bag dangling off of a single three dimensional finger stalking against the walls. She was tempted to flatten the bag with her, but she couldn't be sure of it's contents. Letting out a sigh she glanced around the corner and regained her form to try and get a better view since she greatly lacked as much depht perception as she did depht in her alternate form.

"It has to be around here somewhere, maybe I start looking for those tiny security cameras she has set up."

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Ironclad followed the strange woman in dark clothes down the alley, her frown deepening. It seemed obvious that the oddly flat figure was searching for something, and what besides Dragonfly's warehouse headquarters would be of such interested to a superpowered thief? On the one hand, Ironclad felt compelled to defend her friend's home. On the other hand, if this person didn't know exactly where it was, an armored figure dropping down and challenging them would pretty much dash and doubts whatsoever.

The heroine heard the thief mutter about searching for security cameras and made up her mind. She set her package down and leapt over the lip of the roof, floating down on her etheric drive. She landed in front of the flat woman and held out one hand in an unmistakable command to stop. "I think it's time for you to head home," she said. "Just turn around now, and this doesn't have to get ugly."

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Sil might of been surprised, but she looked at the woman who had suddenly appeared up and down, then let out a sigh,

"Why is it that every time I come here someone gets threatened at gunpoint?"

Lifting up her hands in an act of surrender she rolled her eyes under her expressionless mask then glanced quietly at her bag before saying,

"Right, you're probably making some unnessicary assumptions, so to clear things up I'll say right now, I don't fight heroes, it's cliche as all hell. So I'd like you to clarify something for me in return as an act of good faith, what is it that you think I'm doing out here that makes you think it is nessicary for us to be fighting?"

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Ironclad's hand dropped slightly, caught off-guard by the 'thief's' response. She flashed back to her first encounter with Dragonfly, where the two had tussled before that super-speedy mercenary had broken it up. She had fired first there, as well. Maybe she was a bit trigger-happy for all of this?

The heroine forced her thoughts back to the here-and-now. "I... was patrolling up above," Ironclad lied. "You were skulking around -- two-dimensionally, I might add, which isn't something most folks can do. It looked suspicious." It sounded lame, even to her, and she winced behind her mask. As surreptitiously as possible, she pinged Dragonfly's personal network and requested an open data line to share her visual data. Mara? It's Jessica. Do you recognize this woman?

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Dragonfly sighed as her computer alerted her to the request. always when I decide to spend a night in - too cold anyway - if I didn't like that short jacket so much... Putting down the wine glass, she sat up in her comfy chair and turned to glance at the nearest monitor...and blinked. why...?

Yes. Silhouette - heroine. Worked with her during the Halloween...mess, she sent back, not really bothering with a keyboard. She didn't want to dwell on the events surrounding Halloween for too long...bad memories. Helped her and her friend with a technical problem not long ago, as well. Why?

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Sil heard the faint traces of excuse making in the girls voice,

"I'll put this in perspective for you, if you were flying over Greenbank looking for criminals, you have probably passed over three prostitutes and a drug dealer to get to the suspicious looking loiterer dressed in black. Now if you're accusing me of not wanting to be seen, you are correct that I didn't want to attract attention to myself because I didn't come all the way out here to pick a fight. So can you kindly lower your weapon, because even if I can dodge whatever it is you're packing in that power suite of yours, I've got some additional cargo that I'd rather not be damaged."

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The woman's words stung, but Ironclad knew she was right. The superheroine texted back to her friend, She's standing outside your warehouse. Doesn't seem to know where it is. Want her to come inside? Aloud, she said to the other woman in the alley, "You're right -- Silhouette. But the fact is that you're sneaking around close to a friend's place. A friend, it seems, that we have in common." Behind her mask, Ironclad squeezed her eyes shut. It was never any easier to say this, but she turned her palm over so she was merely offering her hand to the other heroine. "I'm sorry."

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Looking at the girl for a second, she knew her name, and it was a friend. Well knowing she was Silhouette wasn't very rare, but knowing that she had a friend in the area was. Which meant that maybe she had communicated with DF, either way it meant one thing and that one thing made her let out a sigh of relief,

"Ohh, thank god."

Taking her hand she gave it a squeeze,

"I've out her for like an hour looking for her place. It looks like every other warehouse in the area, and she doesn't like it when I just slip in unannounced so I can't take peeks inside to try and see if I'm at the right one."

Stopping for a second she glanced around before saying,

"Wait, who are you talking about in common, can you give me a description?"

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right outside-? Dragonfly grabbed a gauntlet, slipping it on and triggering her dimensional pocket, letting her costume wash over her in a rippling, twisting wave. At a thought her computers went to screensaver - everything but her link with Ironclad was now encrypted and out of sight.

Not much point in standing around in the cold. Should probably come on in, if you're nearby; door will be unlocked. ....didn't try to punch her, did you?

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Ironclad winced under her helmet, the fingers of her free hand twitching a bit as she texted back to her friend. Punching was discussed, thankfully averted. I'll let her in. I still have to pick up something. Returning her attention to meatspace, she lead Silhouette down another nondescript alley, weaving around several piles of disused clothing. Ironclad was surprised that Mara let them sleep there, though perhaps something was to be said for disguises. The keypad was hidden inside an electrical fusebox, and actually manipulated with the correct sequence of fuses; the incorrect ones would plug the wielder into the city's power grid and several thousand volts of alternating current.

The door was actually one worked into the brickwork itself, not the roll-up steel loading bay door next to the fuse box; as far as Ironclad knew, that door was, again, electrified. The heroine motioned to the darkened interior. She'd step inside and hold the door open, except that she pretty sure Mara had never installed any pressure sensors; it would crush anyone caught between its jaws when it closed. "Go on in," she said to Silhouette. "I've got to pick up something that I left behind."

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She hadn't seen this particular entrance before, and it was a bit creepy to be honest. Still when the wall came out it seemed entirely within Dragonfly's style to have an extra place like this just in case. Passing Ironclad as she went to retrieve whatever it is she had left to try and confront Sil. It almost made her involentarily look at her bag. She knew her taste probably differed from Dragonfly's, but hopefully she would like it, and if not like find use for it at some point. After some darkness she found herself ringside to the little experimentation area Dragonfly had a couple of burnt manichans hanging around. She didn't see her at first so she decided to try the direct route,

"Hey, sorry I didn't knock this time around, but I had some trouble finding the door."

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Dragonfly had honestly been expecting them to use the front door - when Silhouette's voice rang out from the secret entrance at the very far end of the warehouse, the young blonde's head popped up from behind a counter in the kitchen, where she was stashing her wine bottle. why - probably just wanted to show it off - or approached from that side - mm

"Security measures. Can't just put a sign on the door," she replied, waving the ninja over. "A little warmer at this end of the warehouse, if you're cold. Difficult to heat the whole thing. First winter. Working out kinks in the system...water heating's inefficient. Plenty of bleed heat from the generators, anyway."

Noting the distinct lack of a battlesuit-clad best friend, Dragonfly turned part of her attention back to their connection. Where did you run off to?

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Retrieving mission-critical objective. :) Ironclad's expression matched the smiley she sent her friend. She knew that Mara didn't get out and socialize almost at all, so the heroine figured that a pet would be a good present. Of course, having something that shed hair and needed to go out on walks would probably not be appreciated by another technology-dependent hero, but Ironclad hoped her alternative would be acceptable.

It didn't take the heroine long to get back to where she had stashed the present, only to find that putting it in a puddle of water hadn't been the smartest idea. The wrapping paper was soaked through and the ink on the address tag had run into a mess. She made a face and pulled the paper off, wadding it up and dropping it in a Dumpster along one side of the building. She regarded the blue plastic of the hamster ball and quickly pinged the laptop inside; it responded quickly, and she brightened up. If the design really was waterproof, it would be a definite plus.

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Truthfully she was a bit cold, she had been outside doing the bare minimum of movement she usually did in her suite, walking. Usually she had gotten into a fight to increase adrenaline and bloodflow which in turn kept her warmer, but today she had come in costume strictly because she wouldn't be recognized without it. Which was a bit strange since the majority of heroes she knew wouldn't of recognized her with it. Didn't matter terribly though as she headed to the warmer side of the warehouse.

"It certianly has been getting colder, I don't know how you can go outside with that short little jacket."

It was at this point that she started smiling, though it really couldn't be seen. Reaching into the bag she looked over and pulled out a black scarf with a pattern which had a light blue diamond every through inches down its lengh. On the reverse side it was completely inversed and each end had a mix of the black and blue yarn bits hanging on fringes.

"Hopefully this should help a little bit."

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She blinked. "You actually made a scarf." sounds rude "Sorry, I mean - you made a scarf? Bought it? Found it...mm, unlikely. I...thank you. Got the force field to trap a little warm air but not enough to...will get good use out of this. Not...even really sure the work I did was worth a gift. Probably...took you a lot of time?"

She didn't even reach out to take it, just kind of blankly looking at it like she wasn't sure how to reply.

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"Didn't take long, I made it on a loom after all. It's much faster then knitting and not nearly as irritating, though you have to be careful you you might squash your fingers."

She presented her own flattened fingers as a joke.

"But yeah, it's a thank you for helping out me and Creature Feature out. Neither of us have much in the ways of tech, so our little mission would of been loads harder without your help."

She then took another glance around,

"Plus it's a bit of an apology for barging in on you that first time, this is your home after all."

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It was a short trip back to Dragonfly's warehouse, and Ironclad manipulated the fuses again to slip through the secret entrance. A quick glance around (wholly unnecessary due to her 360 degree sensorium, but some habits die hard) located the other two women near Mara's little kitchnette cubby. Ironclad walked over, holding the hamster ball-bot against her hip with one hand again. Her other hand pressed a switch near her jawline, and the helmet of her suit folded away from her face and into the armor itself, leaving her currently-short hair bobbing free. She brushed it back as she approached the pair and held out her gift in both hands. "Here you go," she said, placing it on the floor. Almost immediately, the webcam mounted on top began swiveling and the little machine made some tentative movements. "It's a pet," she explained. "One that doesn't have to be walked or fed or have its litter changed. Though you should probably plug it in every few days."

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Dragonfly just kind of stood there, occasionally moving her mouth but not really saying anything. She just had no idea how to react to gift-giving - vague memories of time with her mother was all she had, and that was so long ago that she was lucky she remembered anything at all. She was, in a word, completely floored - surprised at the sudden gifts, confused at the possible meaning behind it all, in love with the gift quality, and depressed that she didn't really have anything to give back.

She briefly considered crying, but decided she was a little too proud and a little too shocked. Instead she stammered out a, "I...I don't...thank you? Thank you."

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When Ironclad arrived and dehelmeted Sil took a step back so that she could present her gift. It was a cute and clever little device that greatly suited Dragonfly because it seemed like the sort of thing she might tinker with. A slight image of a hamsterball guard dog as a possible result made her giggle a bit until she looked back at Dragonfly to find that she was absolutely speechless. Leaning over to her companion in giftgiving she whispered,

"I think we might of short circuited her."

When Dragonfly did talk, Sil smiled again, it seemed a bit awkward, but then again she didn't know Dragonfly well enough to completely register what might of been considered normal,

"Your welcome."

She then took a second to glance down at her bag once more as she wondered whether she should present the next little thing she had in there.

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Jessica smiled at her friend's awkward silence, but inside she was troubled. Was this the first Christmas present Mara had ever received? She'd never been forthcoming about her past, but Jessica hadn't thought it was this bad. On an impulse she stepped forward and hugged the other woman, careful not to crush her with the suit's augmented strength. "You're welcome," she said. Jessica made to step back again, but this near to Mara something was bothering her...

It finally clicked and Jessica put a level hand on her friend's head, moving to her body and comparing. "Are... are you wearing lifts, Ma-- uh, Dragonfly?" Indoors? When she wasn't expecting company? Jessica's shock almost let the other woman's 'real' name slip out, but she caught it at the last moment.

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Dragonfly just kept staring at her presents, having at some point - she couldn't remember when - reached out and taken the scarf, which she was now clutching like it was going to evaporate while staring at the little pet rolled around the warehouse floor figuring out which shelves had the clearance to roll under, which didn't. Eventually, though, her brain caught up and she tried to shake herself out of it, those little redundant thought processes poking her brain and reminding her that she'd been asked a question.

"I- no. Short heels on the costume, I mean," she corrected, lifting a foot to point at them, "but haven't made them any taller. It's a side-eff....mm." She paused, trying to get her mind working again to remember how much she'd told anyone about anything from before she came to the city. "....artificially delayed growth," she decided on, with a little grump and a touch of bitterness in her voice. "Suspected it might happen. Annoying - should have been done a long time ago, normally. Suppose I can't complain. Could use the height." and other effects

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She waited and watched Dragonfly, well she didn't have any better way to describe it, reboot herself to recover from the shock. Which said a lot that such an incident was so very shocking to her. She might of lingered on it if the conversation didn't shift to percieved height. Looking at the heel then to Dragonfly Sil took a step forward so the two of them were maybe a foot appart and placed her hand on top of her head and plained it forward so that it stapped maybe a bit at Dragonfly's forehead,

"You don't seem too have 'delayed growth' to me. Lose the heels you can't be much shorter then five four, five five at the least. Even than, that's not even short, statistically average full grown female height in North America is five six."

She shrugged her shoulders,

"Though honestly you wouldn't know looking at half the heroines in this city, they're either noticably petite like Grimalkin or suspect to giantism like Fulcrum. I prefer the slightly smaller then average build I have going, a lower point of balance is better for gaining leverage if you want to do a throw or a pin and lighter builds are more practical for aerobatics."

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She frowned. "Five five. Genetics...mother was tall and..." She hesitated, pulling the scarf around her shoulders to free her hands, which traced an hourglass shape in the air. "...attractive. Heels give less than an inch, if that...practical considerations. Vanity only goes so far. Suspect I won't reach my mother's physical standards, naturally or not - just annoyed it's come so late." and annoyed by cause - keep that to yourselfl "Not very acrobatic, don't tend to grapple. Have noticed the polarization - suppose I'd rather be on the tall end of the spectrum, if not truly huge. Will see how far this last delayed growth takes me."

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"Though honestly you wouldn't know looking at half the heroines in this city, they're either noticably petite like Grimalkin or suspect to giantism like Fulcrum. I prefer the slightly smaller then average build I have going, a lower point of balance is better for gaining leverage if you want to do a throw or a pin and lighter builds are more practical for aerobatics."

Jessica, all of six foot and an inch or two more in her armor, felt suddenly and acutely out of place. She stepped back from her friend and ran her flight system through a quick check. When it all came up green a second or two later she gave her friend a nod and said, "I hope you enjoy your pet. All the documentation is on the laptop." She turned to Silhouette and inclined her head slightly. "Again, sorry about the 'thinking you were a thief' thing." She turned away from the pair and moved further into Mara's warehouse, moving to the front door this time. As she moved, though, her fingers twitched against the skin of her armor and she tapped out a text message for her friend. Need to talk with you on something. Later. In private.

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