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A Chance Meeting (IC)


Lone Star

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February 12th, 2010. Weather: Pleasantly cool.

Gregory was on patrol, once again. It had long become a part of his weekly routine. After work, he got on his mask and leather costuming, and went out to see what sort of things were happening in North Freedom. However, he had been patrolling for several fruitless hours, and it was more than time for a break.

His Harley rolled to a stop just outside of a small park in Kingston he had visited many times before. He hopped off the bike, and popped his back with a satisfying crunch. Mad Dog strolled through the park for a few minutes, admiring the nature around him. His boots clomped on the paved concrete path, and a squirrel ahead on the trail took one look at him and ran off. After a few more minutes of walking, Mad Dog finally parked it on a bench. Ah- it was nice to have a little time to relax.

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"It's nice this time of day, isn't it?" a voice called out, originating somewhere above and to the left of the black-clad hero. There, high up in the branches, lounged a young woman with her back against the truck. She was looking away from Mad Dog, her eyes fixed on the sky. "People are either home or on their way there so the roads are quieter. And the stars are coming out soon."
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He spun around and looked up at her. "Sure is. It's nice to be able to take a break from the big city and sit outside. At least, that's what I've always thought." He was admittedly startled at first, but there were far stranger things in Freedom than a girl climbing trees in the late evening. "I'm Mad Dog. What do they call you?"

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"Mm, they've called me and mine many things; sidhe, wood sprites, nymphs, dryad. A name for each tongue of Man." The woman stood as she spoke in her soft melodic soprano, amber eyes regarding Mad Dog from the lifeless branches of the oak.

And then she melded into the tree, only to reappear a heartbeat later leaning against the mighty oak at ground level, a ghost of a smile on her lips. "But that is not the question you meant to ask, is it?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "You wish to know my name, yes? That, my angry canine, is Willow."

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Mad Dog grinned beneath his mask. A wood nymph, huh? That was new. "I'm not angry all the time...it's more of a catchy title. It sounded good to me when I made the costume." Mad Dog stood up and stretched, his muscles bulging beneath his black leather duster. "So, I guess it wouldn't be a good question to ask what you're doing in the middle of a forest. I came out here because I wanted to take a break from patrol. I didn't really expect to meet anyone, much less a dryad. But pleased to meet your acquaintance nonetheless, Willow." With that, Mad Dog extended a leather glove.

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Willow regarded the proffered hand with a tilt of her head, a thoughtful expression on her face. With a small, nearly imperceptible shrug of her shoulders she reached forward and clasped the hero around the forearm. "Well met."

Amber eyes narrowed as the dryad studied Mad Dog before alighting upon the button pinned to his duster. "What is SPCA?"

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He was taken aback slightly when she grabbed his forearm, but he smiled and chucked a little bit nonetheless.

When she mentioned his button, Mad Dog smiled. He was more than happy to tell her about the group his veterinary office sponsored. He gave part of his monthly earnings to the group, as well. "It's an organization that helps animals who are being abused by their owners. It's a good cause...I figure if I'm ever on television, it'll get some advertisement for them in." He said as he adjusted the collar of his duster. "You've never seen their commercials?" Then again, she was a dryad. It was highly unlikely she owned a television.

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Willow shook her head. “No,” she admitted with a sigh, “I'm afraid I don't get in much.” She turned from Mad Dog then, long white hair flaring out behind her at the sudden movement, and settled herself onto the bench the masked man vacated. She was quiet for a moment, still, amber eyes watching.

“It is a good cause,” she finally said with a nod, gesturing for Mad Dog to sit beside her.

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Mad Dog sat beside the mystifying and beautiful woman. "I'd like to think so." he said, looking up at the stars. He turned to Willow, his eyes beneath his black hockey mask looking at her. "So what do you do around here? I'm sorry, I really don't know exactly what dryads...do. Do you ever go into town?" He tilted his head back up to the stars, his leather duster creaking as he adjusted his hands behind his head.

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The copper-hued woman shrugged. "I have been into town on occasion; generally I see little need to visit the places of Man unless needs must. However one could make the argument that right now I am in town due to the location of this place of Nature."

Willow lapsed into silence again, turning her gaze away from the masked hero and looking up at the stars. "My Sisters and I were Guardians," she paused, frowning at something. "We are Guardians. We performed this task before the Olympians… interfered."

She cut her gaze back to Mad Dog, amber eyes narrowing. "Dryad? That is a term THEY gave us when they shackled us to their whims; they and others like them."

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Mad Dog help his hands up apologetically. "I'm sorry, Willow. I didn't mean to offend. So you're here to defend nature?" he said, quickly changing the subject. "That is really neat. There's got to be someone out there who cares about nature. I recycle, if that means anything. Although so many people don't- I don't know if it really makes a difference."

His stomach growled aloud. "I'm kind of hungry. Can I buy you something to eat?"

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Willow shook her head. "You did not offend; sometimes the past attacks the present through pain of memory." She offered the masked hero a brief, sad, smile. "Every little bit makes a difference," she said, "though you could say that my true purpose is to strike a balance between Nature and Man."

"Sometimes it is the natural world that must be culled," Willow said with a shrug. "As for food; I do not require it and to partake would be wasteful. But I will accompany you while you find sustenance."

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Mad Dog shrugged. "Come along. There's a BK close to the park.

He walked her to the local Burger King, where he proceeded to order a Double Whopper with no fries, and a water. "I enjoy a good hamburger. It helps keep my protein levels high, so that's a plus. I rarely eat all of the other stuff with it...the fries and shakes. That's just unnecessary fat. Although it is nice to indulge from time to time...it's never a good idea to do that very much." He took a big bite out of his burger. "Mind if I'm a little nosy? Got a guy-friend? I've got a girl that lives a little ways away."

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"No," the dryad said with a shake of her head, "There is little point to it." Willow opened her mouth as if to continue, but then closed it with a shrug. Instead she just watched Mad Dog eat, silent and still.

"I have sisters," she said after a long period of silence. "I have not seen them in a while, and they could very well be dead. But I do have family, so I'm not completely alone. I think."

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Mad Dog swallowed his bite, and looked at her. He wasn't sure how to react to such a statement. "I'm sorry to hear that, Willow. Well, it's good to know you've got some family left. And hey- I'll be your friend. So you're not totally alone out there, okay?" Mad Dog said as he finished off his burger, crumbling up the wrapping paper. He took a sip of his water, and looked up at her. "So where do you come from?"

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The dryad held up a finger as if raising a point. "I might have family left," she corrected. "When I last saw my sisters together we bore witness to the birth Rhea Silvia's twins; Romulus and Remus." An errant breeze blew a lock of winter white hair into Willow's face, which she brushed aside, tucking it behind a pointed ear.

"As to your question?" Willow shrugged and the said in a quiet voice, "I do not know. There are gaps in my memory; holes that I know should be filled. I try not to think about it."

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Mad Dog blinked at her response. He vaguely remembered hearing about Romulus from his Ancient Mythology class in college. "Wow." was all he could say. It wasn't that what she was saying was unlikely...living his whole life in Freedom City certainly left his disbelief thoroughly suspended. He decided to change the subject. "Want to walk around for a bit?"

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Mad Dog nodded at they walked out of the restaurant. They walked along the streets, and he paused for a moment to enjoy a pleasant breeze. "Yeah, I try to patrol whenever I can. I try to at least three or four times a week, from varying lengths of time. The weekends are a lot easier for me. But yeah, I just try to keep the poorer districts safe. There's so much crime down there, it's ridiculous. A lot of the more powerful heroes fight the real villains...the ones that are a threat to the city as a whole. I try to keep the smaller criminals at bay."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Willow studied Mad Dog as they walked, offering a slight nod of approval at the young man's activities. The dryad couldn't help but smile at the humble tone and mannerisms; this was a person who was a hero for the right reasons. "Humans don't change much," she said after a period of silence. "For as long as I can remember, your kind have always preyed on each other." The dryad smiled and held up a hand to cut off any interruption. "But humanity has always had its defenders as well. It's why your kind are always so difficult to deal with."

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Mad Dog nodded. "It's unfortunately a part of who we are. As long as there are two people left on the Earth, someone'll want someone dead. I'm no doubt sure you're aware of our wars from the dawn of time, but yeah. We've always had noble ones who are willing to stand up for what's right. Look at me monologueing here!" he said, embarrassed. "I don't know philosophy. I'm hardly one to talk about the nature of mankind."

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"I remember Atlantis and Lemuria," the dryad said, her voice somber and her eyes hard. "And though that was your races fight for survival against a more numerous foe, I remember the damage caused. I remember when we decided that cleaning up the mess was too costly and ultimately futile. I remember the choice we had to make."

Willow smiled a sad smile, "So, yes. I remember your wars." Then her expression warmed slightly, "But I do not judge you harshly for them, not anymore. It is mankind's nature to build and destroy."

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Mad Dog shrugged. "I guess that's true. We've been doing okay so far." He looked at their surroundings, and blinked. "Do you want to look around for some crime? I just realized that's what I came here for." He adjusted his leather jacket over his shoulders and cracked his neck. "I've got a little aggression built up."

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"If you want," the dryad responded, glancing around the area. She spied a small evergreen shrub, sickly, yellowed, and slowly dying and wandered over to it. Willow whispered something to the bush, too quiet to be overheard and then tilted her head as if listening.

Then she smiled and gave a short nod of thanks as she stood and touched the bush. Pulling itself free from the ground, the plant's structure started to warp and shift as it wrapped itself around the dryad, forming a massive suit of living armor.

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"That's totally badass, gotta say. So where's the local criminal types around here?"

Mad Dog saw the second most strange thing he had seen that day. A man dressed in what appeared to be a cross between an Army Marine's outfit and Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat flew by on a triangular hoverpad. The flight trail behind him left a brilliant rainbow light. The colorfully-clad man looked to Mad Dog and Willow, and pointed at them.

"You!" he shouted, his eyes staring intensely. "You are superheroes! I am called Color Commando! Prepare to be defeated!"

Mad Dog looked up at the man, and said to himself "Oh, what the hell."

The madman swooped towards them, firing a dazzling strobe light at Mad Dog. A dazzling display of colors flies towards him, but he manages to dodge the light show, flipping out of the way. "This guy's serious. Let's take this clown down."

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