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Fun In the Sun (IC)

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

10:45 AM

Lake MacKenzie was a popular spot in Freedom City, and Jessica Parker had been worried that it would be crowded over Memorial Day weekend. Luckily though, she seemed to have avoided the worst of the crowds, or else everyone had left the city for more exotic vacation spots. In any case the parking lot was pretty empty when Jessica pulled her Explorer into an empty spot, and from where she sat she could only see a few other parties, widely spaced and giving each other plenty of room. Considering the type of people she'd invited here, that was probably a good thing.

The young inventor hopped out and glanced at her boyfriend Blake Salazar, riding in the passenger seat. "C'mon, Blake. We've got to get all the stuff down to the beach. Unless you want to see me carry everything by my frail self." She struck a pose, holding the back of her hand to her forehead and leaning against the car. It contrasted with her red crocs, denim shorts, and yellow halfshirt. She stood there for a moment, showing off the outfit, before breaking down into giggles and heading towards the rear of the vehicle.

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Blake checked her out in a not-too-subtle way. "Looking most bodacious, babe. He was wearing a black swim suit, and generous amounts of suntan lotion. His skin, although not as pale as before, was still rather pasty, and he would burn to a crisp if he didn't reapply frequently. He set his sunglasses over his bright green eyes, and smiled brightly. It was going to be a nice day, and hopefully he would have an opportunity to meet her friends from The Lab.

As he struggled to carry the fully-loaded picnic basket to their chosen spot, he couldn't keep the smile off his face. "Hey babe! I hope we don't have any unexpected guests...you made sure to send the emails encrypted, right?"

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If either Blake or Jessica happened to check the horizon, they'd see a blue speck that was rapidly growing. Soon, it'd resolve itself into the heroic figure of Cobalt Templar, in full costume. Within a minute, he landed on the ground beside them, a grin on his face and a beach bag in one hand.

"Great to see you guys! Especially you, buddy! I'm ready to rock the beach party!"

He glanced down and fake-frowned.

"Guess I'm not exactly dressed for success yet. Hang on..."

He concentrated, and in a flash of blue fire that obscured his body, he was suddenly wearing flip flops, knee-length dark blue swim trunks, and his mask. His not-that-small physique was on show for the world.

"Quo-Dis wasn't sure if she'd be able to make it, so she told me to go on ahead. Something about calling home or whatnot. Oh, and, uh, could we try to keep with "CT" for the name? I'd rather avoid too many being in on the whole "secret identity" thing right now."

He gave them both a sheepish grin, scratching the back of his head (and unknowingly flexing his arm in the process).

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"Not planning to give up my motorcycle, of course," Dragonfly noted as she flew through the air on four long, blade-like wings of neon blue energy. She'd had her helmet pull back the lower part of the faceguard: it just didn't seem quite right to use the 'electronic' Dragonfly voice around her girlfriend, so she'd opted to retract the lower part of her helmet and extend her force field a bit to protect them both from the elements as they made their way through the air toward the coast. "But have to admit flying is very...convenient."

Very convenient indeed, it turned out; she wasn't going to go full speed while carrying something so precious if she could help it, but even still they'd made excellent time. Before she knew it she was spotting Jessica's Explorer and coming down for a (very careful) landing off to the side of the parking lot.

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With her arms wrapped around her girlfriend's neck, Jill laughed in delight as she watched the ground speed by below them. It wasn't so much the sensation of flying - if anything, swinging from rooftop to rooftop in a constant state of barely-controlled plummeting was probably more thrilling - but knowing how much work Mara had put into getting the wings to work the way she wanted them to, refusing to take any shortcuts or make any compromises, made seeing the fruition of that dream something special.

"That was amazing!" she enthused as they set down, giving Dragonfly a hug she likely could feel much of through her newly minted battlesuit. The taller girl had opted to wear the crimson bandanna mask and jacket of her typical costume, but the two halves of a lighter red and white polka dot swimsuit peeked through the coat's flaps and a borrowed pair of baggy board shorts.

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Tom scratched his head, looking at the beach as he rode over it for the umpteenth time from above. He sighed and tugged at the bandanna he'd replaced his scarf with, a plain blue t-shirt, blue jeans, and Freedom City baseball cap replacing the usual outfit (he'd debated bringing the coat, but the thermometer put paid to that idea. And a Gear City baseball cap was just out of the question). Trunks were underneath, of course, but swimming wasn't exactly his forte; the huge stainless steel pot and materials for his famous five-alarm chili hanging off the sides of the hoverbike spoke about what he'd likely be doing for the whole thing. Though he did intend to do some socializing. Well...a little, anyway. Despite Push's bravado when 'on the job', he still needed work on how to deal with groups of people.

He brought his attention back to the beach, and smiled underneath the bandanna as he finally spotted the group gathering. Whistling from above, he did a few twists, loops, and swoops, showing off Lazarus' new tweaks before bringing it down nicely and switching it back into road mode. A wry smile and the kineticist shrugged, leaning forward on the handlebars.

"Yo, am I late? Traffic was murder."

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Jessica watched Cobalt Templar swoop in, her attention focused on his imposing... presence. She shook herself, coming back to present time as people started dropping out of the sky all around her. "Hey, the gang's all here!" She glanced around quickly and added, "Well. Except for Nick. Oh, well, we can start unloading stuff!" She opened the rear hatch of her truck, revealing a veritable wall of picnic gear; two grills, several bags of charcoal, two coolers, and various inflatable toys and chairs. She grabbed a folded blanket and linked her arm with Dragonfly's armored one, pulling her and Jill towards the water. "C'mon, boys, we're waiting!"

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Eric had decided to take the bus to the lake; the Pale Horse would've stood out there like a hearse at a carnival. He was dressed in his usual street clothes, wearing trunks underneath, and carried a cooler bearing a variety of sandwiches from the Black Petal as well as some Cokes and bottled coffee drinks. It had been a while since he'd been to Lake MacKenzie -- most of last summer had been spent getting back into the swing at the Black Petal and patrolling, and his folks had decided the family would go to Chesapeake Bay for Memorial Day and Aunt Mary's house in Long Beach for the Fourth of July. But as he walked out onto the beach, memories of childhood came flooding back.

He scanned the beach and quickly caught sight of Blake. "Ahoy!" he called off, lifting the cooler high. "I bring refreshments!"

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Dragonfly had just shut her wings down and was about to reply to Jill when Jessica started to drag her off. Whatever she'd started to say ended in a surprised noise as she was pulled toward the beach, glancing back at the truck and the collection of other party-attendees. odd timing - seems to happen a lot here - everyone shows up at the same time? - very strange - odds are unlikely

"Could have helped unload before I change out of my armor," she insisted, when they were mostly out of ear shot of the rest of the bunch. "Can lift over half a ton...would have saved them some trouble carrying anything heavy."

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"Cobalt's got a ring," Jessica said, leading the other two women onwards, "that can lift a car. And Blake's not a lightweight anymore. Either of them could probably lift the whole truck and bring it down to the beach." She paused and glanced over her shoulder at the knot of men gathered around the vehicle. "Besides, this is the exchange. They lift and tote heavy things, and they get to look at us in swimwear. Well," she added, giving the other heroines the once-over, "that's how it normally goes in the movies, anyway."

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CT tilted his head as Dragonfly arrived in full armor, Jill in her arms.

'Huh. Thought Jill seemed more energetic in classes lately...Glad she's happy.'

He raises an eyebrow at a couple of the people showing up, then shrugs. He turns his attention to Blake, lifting his ring hand up and pointing it near the back of the car. Almost immediately, a solid platform appears that will easily hold all the accumulated stuff everyone has.

"All right, buddy. Toss it all on here and I'll take it down to the beach and help set up. It'll make everything go faster. And I promise, I won't make you look too wimpy in front of your girlfriend."

He winks jokingly at his good friend, before turning and waving his free hand in greeting at Push and Eric.

"Hello there! How are you guys doing?"

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"Uh huh..." Jill drawled sardonically at Jessica's suggested gender roles, giving Cobalt Templar, the only other person she recognized there, a brief wave before the girls reached a favourable spot on the beach. Slipping her jacket off to expose dark bronze shoulders, she draped it over one arm until the towels could be set up. "Well, they can look, I guess, but this isn't really for them." She kept her tone innocent enough, but shot her girlfriend a subtly teasing look before turning her attention to the water.

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Push cocked his head to the side, looking at the somewhat eccentric inventor in her new suit (quite impressive piece of tech, that. And shiny, too!), and her lady friend for a couple of seconds. A few idle thoughts ran through his head, although his expression wasn't surprised; instead it was rather thoughtful.

Huh. Did not see that one coming. Go figure.

Then he overheard Templar and turned back, looking somewhat abashed, and shrugged.

"Eh, could be better, could be worse. Occupational hazards, y'know?"

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Blake pshawed at his friend, grinning widely. "Oh, please. Like I need your help with that." Repressing a sigh of muscular strain, he hefted the items in the back of Jessica's Explorer onto Corbin's lift.

He looked up at his two friends. "Nick!" he said, quickly finishing his task to give his friend a hug. "It's been a while, buddy! And Push!" The grin was evident on his face as he gave his other friend a bro-hug as well. "I missed you guys! It's been...well, since that incident with Roland." As much as he tried to move it to the back of his mind, it kept resurfacing. He didn't know what caused him to act so irrationally- much less the all-too-familiar otherworldly green flame that caught his sleeve on fire. His past seemed to be catching up with him once again.

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Dragonfly had a rather dubious expression on her face when Jessica mentioned the boys admiring their swimsuits, and an uncharacteristically pleased one as her girlfriend pulled off her jacket; thankfully, both were hidden behind her helmet. Which really only reminded her that she still had it, and the associated suit, still on. "Suit is very comfortable," she noted aloud, glancing at the people near and far, "but...probably not appropriate to the event. Mmh."

She carefully extricated her arm from Jessica's and, with a little hesitation, changed outfits: a ripple in space flowed outward from her torso, leaving in its wake not the usual casual clothes but a simple one-piece swimsuit and sandals. And, oddly, gauntlets and a visor, both sleeker, newer versions of the ones she'd used until only recently.

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He looked up at his two friends. "Nick!" he said, quickly finishing his task to give his friend a hug. "It's been a while, buddy! And Push!" The grin was evident on his face as he gave his other friend a bro-hug as well. "I missed you guys! It's been...well, since that incident with Roland." As much as he tried to move it to the back of his mind, it kept resurfacing. He didn't know what caused him to act so irrationally- much less the all-too-familiar otherworldly green flame that caught his sleeve on fire. His past seemed to be catching up with him once again.

"Hey, Blake," Eric said, returning the hug. "I see you've run into Push before. Hero circles seem to be getting tighter and tighter every day." He set the cooler down on the ground and started unfurling a towel. "What's this Roland incident you're talking about? Must've been something I missed. Then again, given all the stuff that goes on in this town, it's pretty hard to keep track of everything." He sat down on the towel. "Which is why it's good to get a day away -- y'know, I'm not even going to finish that sentence. I'm not setting myself up like that."

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Push stiffened slightly at the bro-hug, then relaxed once Warlock had let go. Sticking his hands in his pockets, the pot and ingredients lifted up and began floating around shoulder-height beside him.

"Didn't I tell you, Nick? Warlock and Ironclad were the ones who helped me refurbish the LAIR, security systems, wards, and everything. Even slapped up some new and improved wards after those demons kicked down the door. They've been doing a hell of a job too, 'lock, thanks."

The kineticist cocked his head to the side, pondering, then talked slowly as he tried to figure out what he could actually remember about that whole mess. Whatever that dude had done, it didn't exactly leave a clear memory; there was a lot of rage overriding the mental images of the skirmish.

"Some dude with a magical tommy gun and a really nasty mind-whammy managed to cause havoc all over Southside. Said he was trying to stir up the city and kick off some major riots, loosen tensions and conflicts that way."

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Traffic was just plain horrible, of course, but it really wasn't feasible to swing from tree to lamppost all the way out to Lake Mackenzie, so Dr. Estelle de Havilland had rented a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler with its back cover removed for the day, and made the most of it. With her iPod playing a selection of classic summertime metal jams through the stereo, she finally made her way out to the lake, her pale blur eyes scanning for her group. Soon enough she picked out Jessica and Dragonfly (the latter looking simply adorable in a swimsuit and goggles), and what looked like a number of their younger friends. Much younger.

Hmm. Will I be the cool big sister or annoying aunt? Only time will tell.

She parked the Jeep and stepped out onto the hot asphalt; at five foot nine she was taller than most of the girls and a bit more mature. Today she was looking more casual than she'd dressed in years, wearing boating shoes, baggy cargo shorts, a vintage AC/DC t-shirt and a tennis visor integrated into magnificent golden tresses. From the trunk she easily lifted a cooler, folding chair and a sport boombox with an iPod docking station, the three beach party staples floating a few inches off the ground in her fibrous grasp.

"Hello!" She smiled and waved cheerfully; her Hamptonian accent suggested many summers spent in the vicinity of yachts, but her demeanor is relaxed and open. "Sorry I'm a bit late; I haven't driven in a few years, and I'm afraid I'm not very good at it. Old folks like me tend to drive a bit slower as well." Setting down her burdens, she swept her gaze over the assembled young people. "Well, I'm afraid I don't know most of you; Estelle de Havilland, a pleasure."

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"I feel like there's a joke here about warping physics to get undressed faster," Jill drawled with amusement even as she beamed at Dragonfly's rapid costume change, "but good taste prevents me. Did you put on sunscreen before we left?" The medically minded young woman dithered over her considerably fairer complexioned partner even as her own sienna tone easily soaked up the sun without issue. Shading her eyes with one hand, she looked back up the beach as people continued to arrive. "Okay, Shortround I know from school, Doc de Havilland is pretty hard to miss and I'm assuming that was your beau," she noted, turning to Jessica. "Anyone else I should recognize?"

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"You're right, buddy. We're each examples of the pinnacle of macho manly might."

There's a cheesy grin on his face as he finished loading things. He glanced at Push's floating pot and ingredients.

"Hey, uh, Push? After I get this stuff set down, how about I give you a nice stable cooking surface?"

He walked casually to the beach, hauling all the stuff on his improvised sled. It was clear he was feeling less creative this morning. The load was soon deposited gently on the sand, with CT's telekinesis making short work of the arrangement. Having completed that task, he walked over to a small stretch of beach.

"Maybe set it up right here?"

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"Push," Dragonfly helpfully supplied, gesturing vaguely at the vertically-challenged hero with the pot-laden bike. "Have run into him once or twice. Don't let him near anything fragile," she cautioned. "And don't stand near him in a fight. If possible. Though, in fairness, has been a while since I saw him fight. Other one is....Nick Cimitiere?" She tilted her head, frowning, and wishing her visor had a proper image magnification system. "Haven't seen him in a long time...and out of costume. Hard to tell. Sounds like him."

She shook her head, pulling some hair back behind an ear. "And...no, sunscreen. Not yet, anyway. Brought some, but wasn't sure I'd be changing - not used to exposing much skin."

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He walked towards the oldest among their group- although she wasn't elderly by any means, she looked rather out of place in a group of teenagers. If nothing else, Blake wanted to make sure everyone felt welcome at a beach party he was co-hosting.

"Hi! My name's Blake Salazar, also known as Warlock, or previously known as Kid Cthulhu...nice to meet you, Ms. Estelle." He looked at her long and flowing blonde hair. "Are you by any chance Gossamer?"

Blake overheard Mara's discussion about sunscreen with her girlfriend, and he uttered a noise of surprise. "Excuse me for a moment, would you?"

He ran to his bag, which was on CT's telekinetic sled. Sure enough- although he had brought everything else, he forgotten sunscreen. His rather pasty complexion would surely barbecue in the hot sun.

"Anyone have any suntan lotion?"

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Jessica watched Dragonfly's suit transform with an expression of frank regard. "Very nice," she complemented. "Never mastered the small changes, myself." She piked a spot on the beach well above the tide-line and unfurled the towel with a snap. She settled the edges and squared the corners, finishing just as Cobalt and everyone else got down to them. She walked up to the sled and lifted a picnic basket from the heap. Opening it up, she revealed a number of tubes of SPF 30 sunscreen, along with a couple of Frisbees and deflated beach balls.=. She glanced around, noting Push, Nick, and deHavilard had brought there own food and coolers, and pointed at one of the grills that had been brought down. "Cobalt, Push, could you get that one set up? I don't know how long the chili needs to cook." For her own part, she tugged Blake over to the beach towel and forced him to sit. The young girl squirted some of the lotion onto her hands before handing it off to her boyfriend, covering her own pale arms before they had a chance to burn.

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Physically biting her lower lip to hold back a number of off-colour jokes that sprang to mind at Dragonfly's mention of exposing skin, Jill looked about the gathered beach goers and their range from fair skinned to outright pasty. Clearly the pale tendencies of the invitees had occurred to Jessica as well, and the prospective medical student was glad their hostess had thought to come prepared; between the multiple inventors and force field projectors, they probably could have worked up something to block UV radiation, but it would have been a lot of work for a party. "Well, I guess it's my responsibility to help you out with that," she sighed to her girlfriend with exaggerated weary resignation. "Work work work work work."

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"Nice to see you again, Dr. Haviland," said Eric, extending a hand to Estelle. "Haven't seen you since the poltergeist incident. That thing's been staying nice and dormant, by the way; if it's conscious in any way, I think it's learned to stay away from the power grid." He reached down and cracked open the cooler. "Okay, I brought some paninis, some plain old sandwiches, some Cokes, some Pepsis, and some iced coffees. Got drip, drip with cream and sugar, vanilla latte, mocha. Not sure how well they'll go with the chili, but today seems like a day for experimentation."

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