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[Time Warp] Fifty-Two Pickup (Jack of all Blades)

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In the night sky above Freedom City’s West End, a swift figure in royal blue leapt gracefully from rooftop to rooftop, racing through shadows only to reappear suddenly in the space over alleyways, flipping and tumbling like an acrobat. The swashbuckling swordsman known as Jack of all Blades knew every brick and stone of his neighbourhood so completely that he barely had to look where he was going. And that’s why nobody in their right mind causes trouble on my turf. Which made it all the more surprising when, at the apex of a gratuitously showy aerial tumble, the air seemed to rend itself before him, opening into a wormhole rift through which the flailing vigilante fell!

"Gah! I swear if I end up in some Medieval Times knock off one more time..." Jack grated as he fell through warped space uncontrollably, only to suddenly be ejected back out into the night. Now, however, the city around him was well lit my neon light as he reflexively shot off his grappling line and swung down to the street.

Looking about, he found that the buildings around him had sprung up into monstrosities several times the size they’d been moments ago. There was no mistaking that it was still the West End; he still recognised a handful on landmarks that had been incorporated into the unchecked urban sprawl, which seemed old enough now to look dingy and in disrepair. "Kansas, Toto, so on and so forth," Jack muttered to himself, rubbing the back of his neck.

As the hero attempted to get his bearings, high pitched cackling drew his attention. Out of the alley, a quintet of youths in gaudy, shredded clothes emerged, displaying a menacing mix of oversized cybernetic enhancements and predatory animalistic qualities. "Looks like somebody got lost on the way to the costume party," the group’s jackal faced leader snickered, brandishing foot long metal claws as his gang surrounded their quarry.

"Looks like you got lost on your way to the hospital, twip," a bold voice called from above a moment before a young black man in a leather jacket swung down to deliver a haymaker punch to the gang leader’s face, sending him reeling. "How ‘bout I draw you a map?" the new arrival grinned, gleaming white smile contrasting with the spade shaped tattoo over his left eye.

"It’s a Fifty-Two!" a thug with mechanical wings cried, attempting to lift off into the air a moment before a willowy girl with shock white hair slipped from a darkened corner and laid him out with a flurry of blows from her metallic bo staff. What first appeared to be red tear drops inscribed under her right eye were, on closer inspection, a trio of diamonds arranged in a horizontal line.

A motorcycle -like vehicle that floated well off of the ground roared onto the scene, it’s smirking driver bringing it to a sharp halt in front of the remaining cyborgs. "Ain’t you ever heard of a pocket pair?" he quipped with a distinct twang, patting a stylised set of hearts painted on the side of his ride while the amazonian blonde riding behind him trained an arrow notched in her composite bow on the suddenly outnumbered aggressors. Pulling the bowstring back with muscular ease revealed a club shaped cut-out in her top, made somewhat less alluring by the grim set of her tanned lips.

Sensing that they were well and truly outmatched the remaining would-be muggers gathered up their downed friends and beat a hasty retreat back down the alley. A bemused Jack was left to regard his new-found saviours with an arched brow. "Pretty slick moves, there. Thanks."

"Heh, no sweat," the jacketed youth assured the swordsman, crossing his arms with a confident smirk. "S’like the old man always says: nobody in their right mind causes trouble on the Fifty-Twos’ turf."

"The police may be too afraid to venture here," the brooding archer intoned with more than a little heated anger, "but the West Quarter is not without defenders."

"Or good taste," her red haired companion chimed in. "I mean, lordy, splicin’ and ‘borgin’? 2040 called, they want their feeb back!" The joke drew an amused giggle from the otherwise silent martial artist who had hopped up to balance impossibly in a crouch on the top of her staff.

"...right." Before the conversation could continue, another rippling portal opened up in the middle of the empty street. "Whoa, think that’s my ride, folks," the swordsman observed, calling over his shoulder as he ran toward the rift and jumped in. "Keep up the good work!"

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