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Supercape

Paint and Ink (IC)

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31st July

Rene had come to the Forest for a nice bit of painting. It always relaxed him.

He had reluctantly shoved some notes in the Taxi drivers hand, and refrained from cursing him (literally as well as figuratively). He had never learned to drive, and had enough money for taxi's. He was normally reasonably generous with his wealth, but overcharging drivers always irked him. The man was also a rude slob. That irked him too.

And he was in a bad mood. He had to walk with his easel. And his knees hurt. Not too badly. And certainly not as badly as he made out. But enough to add a little bit of foulness to his mood.

But the view was good, the air was clean, and he could settle down to paint. That would do him well enough. Clear his mind and lighten his spirits.

He was distracted enough not to notice the three Jocks in leather jackets and tattoos eyeing him up, who had followed him since spying his wallet heaving with dollar bills...

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Gwen had come out to Wharton to look over a small patch of dying perennials that the giant tree in the courtyard at Claremont had told her about. It was a wise old tree that also told her she should protect her identity while outside of school grounds, where the headmaster's reach could not protect her or her young vinelings from prying eyes. She had decided to wear a evergreen bathing suit, dark green shorts and carried with her a green masquerade mask she had found in the theater departments leftovers. Her brown/red hair flowed down her back in a tight braid that shortened it to mid back, she had tied it with a green ribbon, and her bangs were free. Out now? the inquisitive voice had been asking her the whole way here. Not yet, we need to be sure no one is around. The vines had settled around her neck, under the skin and were looking like a normal green tattoo of a beautiful floral scene. Through the dense brush she was in she could hear voices in the distance. DANGER! all the flora around her began to call.

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Rene was so engrossed in his painting he did not notice the three thugs approaching from behind. He could sense the danger, but somehow dismissed the three men. They really posed no challenge to him, or so he thought.

An annoyance, however, they would prove to be.

One kicked over the easel, and one shoved him to the floor. A third drew a flicknife.

"Yo, old man! flash the cash! or I'll cut ya!"

Rene sighed.

They were hardly a threat to a man who had faced off horrors from realms that should not be named, but the fall had hurt, and his painting had a smudge on it. He had ignored the tingle of warning, and got sloppy.

"Such rudeness!" he replied "Where are you manners?" he mocked from the floor...

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The voices carried over to Gwen and the vines. Danger! They echoed their wild brethren. Gwen reached her hand into her pocket, took out the mask and put it gently into place. She shuffled out of her light jacket, took her wallet and asked a kind old tree with a deep cavern in its bark to hold onto them for her. She made her way closer to the sound of the voices and the forest parted for her. She came upon the scene still hiding behind the green, there was an older man on the ground and three boys around him. Now you can come out. She told the vines, Stay close and do as I say. Gwen eyed the teen with the knife, her adrenaline rushed and she could feel the fear in the vines. It'll be Ok, just rush in and we'll grab the knife from him.

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"Yo, old man, shut your mouth and hand it over or Ill make ya' bleed" shouted the knife holder, who looked like the head thug.

One of his cronies gave Rene a good kick for measure.

It would have cracked the old man's Ribs if not for his talisman of protection, which shielded him like a suit of armour, stronger than earthly steel.

"I think, young man" said Rene, with a smile, "That I must decline. As generous as I am with my money for the right cause, I fear your method of obtaining it is not something worthy of my patronage. And I am not fond of knives, you see. Or being pushed over..."

"Why, you punk!" replied the head thug, who leapf forward, ready to spill blood

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GET HIM! Gwen screamed in her head, but there was silence in the forest around her as she lept forward from the tree line and interposed herself between the thug and the old man. As scared as she was she treated it like a mountain, it would be hard but she'd sieze the day in the end. A vine reached out from an outstretched hand and wrapped around the knife wielders leg. Two more vines crept out along the ground to be closer to the other two. "I'd advise you leave now." Gwen said, her voice more confidant than she felt in actuality.

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"Qu'est ce? Vines?"

Rene was just about to wrap the knife wielding thug in some mystic chains of his own, when to his surprise he was beat to it.

"Holy Baloney!" yelled the brute, dropping his knife and gazing slack jawed at the botanical beauty.

"Lets get out of here!" he added, with more emphasis, an order as much to himself as to his two pals.

Rene struggled to his feet as the three hoodlums struggled against the vines, and laughed at them.

He gave a wink at Flora.

"Madam! you may of course have to release them from your grasp if you wish them to leave!" he chuckled pointing at the iron grip of her vines that ensnared his assailants.

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"Oh!" Gwen looked at the snared teen. "If I ever catch you out here defiling my forest you will be hanging by this leg." The vines loosened their grip and slid away. Gwen decided to keep her eyes on the boys until they were gone. "Do you need a hand?" she asked the man as one of the vines offered itself to help the man to his feet as another righted his easel and yet another collected the brushes.

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"Do you need a hand?"

Rene quickly shifted his body posture slightly, bending over a bit more, and putting his weight more to one hand.

"Why yes, thank you madam! I am a helpless old man, you see!" he said, emphatically.

He turned around and shook his first and the thugs who were running away.

"Vandals! Hooligans! Cowards! If I ever see you again, I'll turn you into small insec... ah...*ahem*" he caught himself, and turned back to face Flora.

I don't think I ever have turned anyone into an insect. I'm not sure I could. But I would give it a shot!

"In any case, I must thank you for your timely aid, madam! most fortunate! what remarkable botanical aptitude you have!"

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Gwen blushed heavily, "I was just in the right place at the right time." Gwen could hear the vines asking her New friend!? their excitement vibrated through her. I do not know. she replied. Gwen looked over the scene around her. "I don't understand, are there many bad kids like that around here?". Gwen hurriedly called the vines back into herself, she realized she was suddenly alone here with this man.

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"I don't understand, are there many bad kids like that around here?"

Rene shrugged "Quite how bad they are, I don't know. The one with the knife, may be. But bad men do good things, and good men do bad things, if ze time and the place are right" he sighed.

"As to how many there are around here, I don't know. I am not American. But I would have though the woods and trees safer than the meaner streets of Freedom City, hmmm? Some streets meaner than others, I understand. "

He dusted himself off, flicking off some earth and leaves, and adjusting his easel.

"But tell me Mademoiselle, from where do you come, and ze vines! how wonderful! magnificent! they are a part of you, non?"

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Gwen blushed. "I travel the world, I do not have a place of my own. The vines however, they are not part of me no. Gwen thought about that for a moment. "They have their own life, it is more of a symbiotic relationship. They live in me." she handed the man his brushes. "What brings you out to the forest today?"

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"I am a painter" replied Rene, quite simply, gesturing to his Easel by way of explanation. The preliminary sketches were still there, and showed an excellent standard of workmanship, even if it was somewhat ruined by earth and dust and being knocked over.

"And madam, I have never heard of anything quite so extraordinary! ze symbiosis! it is lovely!" Rene stood back a pace and gazed at Flora in admiration. There was nothing sexual or intimidating about his gaze - it was more that of an artist admiring a work of art.

"Madam, If I may be so bold, I would be delighted to paint you, consider it a reward for you *ahem* rescuing me. As I am a helpless old man. "

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Gwen blushed, the color rose to her eyes. "Madame is so formal, please call me--" Gwen thought for a moment, what should he call her? She hadn't thought this through, he surely couldn't call her Gwen. Flora! The vines chorused in her head and chanted it over and over. Flora, Flora, Flora! It beautiful, you beautiful, you be Flora! Gwen smiled. "Sorry, they--" she pointed to the vines who were now vibrating their excitement and peaking through her skin. "--They got excited at the thought of being painted." She peeked at the easel. "Wonderful work! You can call me Flora and I would be delighted to be your subject." Gwen liked this guy, he reminded her of Bo'koomakoome, an artist from her birth village in Venezuela who had painted her several times over the years. She smiled again when she realized that.

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"Well then, ze matter is settled!" said Rene enthusiastically. "I shall be painting the beautiful Flora, mistress of vines!"

He clapped his hands excitedly. "I feel a masterpiece coming on!" he proclaimed, excitedly. "Now, for background, for ambience...where shall we have you...the details I can of course complete at home, in my studio...although I may need you for extra sittings...but ze preliminary sketches will take a few hours. This will be ze bones upon which I put ze flesh. Where would you like this? your home? what scenery? oh the possibilities!"

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Gwen thought about that. Scenery, She'd seen some of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth. She gazed off thoughtfully before turning back to the man."I have always believed that art should be the artists choice. I am not particular about anything." Gwen looked around clearing then back to the man again. "Where would you like me to sit? Or pose? or..." she stopped herself when she realize her nerves had her babbling. "Sorry, I have not been painted in a long while."

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"Sorry, I have not been painted in a long while."

"You have been painted before then?" replied Rene, stroking his beard. "That, I should like to see. I wouldn't want to repeat the same painting. And of course, if you permit and old man's foolish pride, I would aim to excel the previous work" he chuckled.

INside his head he cracked his mental knuckles. Damn! Someone got there first! Well, we shall just have to make this a true masterpiece!!!

"As for the background, something suitably botanical and majestic! the forests of the Amazon, maybe? or a juxtaposition, perhaps, some arid desert? whatever takes your fancy. And, whatever you can tolerate...does the sun bother you?"

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"Oh!" Gwen squeaked out. "It has been such a long time, and it was in a very small village." A vine peeked out from around Gwen's shoulder. Speak bad! they said in her head. No telling! another chided her. Gwen shook her head slightly. He's just so easy to talk to. she replied to the vines. Hurry! Want more pizza! Gwen smiled at Renee. "We should get started, I may have other events to tend to." She reached up a hand and petted the peeking vine. "My friends will need to root soon for their nourishment, and I promised a small collective of berry bushes I'd come tend them today."

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"My friends will need to root soon for their nourishment, and I promised a small collective of berry bushes I'd come tend them today."

"Hmm, they are your friends, are they? well, they have my thanks too, and you can tell them I am most pleased to meet them...." replied Rene, as he made another adjustment to his Easel.

He took a look around.

"Well, I came here to paint, and this is a good a view as any. And, if I may say, an appropriate scene for such a botanical marvel as yourself! And, to cap it all, it has some significance, as it is here you single handedly defeated three brutes and rescued a helpless old man!"

He brought out his paintbrush and gave it a lick.

"Unless you have any objections? Perhaps your friends can take root here?"

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Gwen looked around to be sure she wouldn't be disturbing any higher plants. She found a spot and directed the vines towards it, they crept down her arm and spread out in the grass. Another vine drifted down her leg and split off around the knee. Both drifted across the grass and flowered giant purple and white star shaped flowers. Several more vines joined the first two, they weaved around each other until Gwen appeared almost rooted to the spot. She smiled at Renee. "Again, I would be honored to be painted by you.

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Rene took a long careful look at Flora and got to work, sketching her.

"Stay still madam!"

"Turn your a little, face me, a little to your left... non! too far!"

"Up a little, a little.. a little more... turn into ze sunlight please..."

"Right arm up, oui..oui..NON!.. too far!.. down!.. oui!... perfect!"

He dabbed and drew furiously, determined to get it perfect.

"So, in order to paint un masterpiece I always like to get to know ze subject and what he or she is like on ze inside. Personality is so important, you know? although one must not neglect ze visage... as my good friend Oscar said, it is only shallow people who do not judge by ze appearances!"

He chuckled softly, remembering his old friend.

"Anyway, could you tell me a little about yourself?"

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Gwen posed and moved as Renee asked, she could feel the vines basking in the glow, and they had even struck up a conversation of sorts with the local trees explaining the wondrous things they had seen while traveling the world with Gwen.

"Anyway, could you tell me a little about yourself?" she could hear Renee ask it, but she was admiring the vines extensive vocabulary compared to those of the other young plants in the field. While young plants are often most eager to talk they lack both the large vocabulary and self awareness that older more mature plants had. "Oh?" Gwen looked as if she was coming out of a daze. "Sorry, there are so many conversations going on around us, I got a little lost." The vines stopped their conversation. Careful!, Danger, Shhhh. They told her in their voice. I'll be careful.

"I was born in a jungle, next to a waterfall... Gwen went on, omitting specifics like names, dates, or other minutia that could possibly give her away. "I'm just passing through, checking on the forests and local plants."

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"I was born in a jungle, next to a waterfall..."

"I'm just passing through, checking on the forests and local plants."

"In a jungle? Oh tres bon!" replied Rene excitedly with a theatrical flourish of his paintbrush.

"Next to a waterfall!" he said, almost delirious.

"Magnificent Flora, how romantic! like the gardens of eve, the passions of golden ages only dimly remembered... It is superb! superb!!!" he exclaimed, almost shouting in his excitement. "How can any painter ask for a greater muse... I tremble at the possibilities! How the gods and the fates favour me today, showering me with such a wonder to paint!"

He daubed a few violent splashed of colour on the canvas.

"And then? tell me more! more!!!"

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Man ask many questions. The vines were starting to feel unsettled and it showed in their flowers. The star shaped blossoms changed from purple on white to black spots on red backing, the shift was like a shimmer of water across their surface. Easy, please don't scare him. Gwen asked them. But he ask many questions! Gwen smiled at Renee. "I would like to see more of Amsterdam's plants. Maybe make a stop in Iceland. She got a little unsettled about lying but she didn't want to give too much away. As nice as Renee seems she still didn't know who he really was. "What about you? What brings you to America?

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"I would like to see more of Amsterdam's plants. Maybe make a stop in Iceland."

"Iceland?" replied Rene "Very scenic. Very nice people, very beautiful. Good cheekbones" he rambled, engrossed in his paintings. "Been there once... no...twice, I think. Sky a bit drab, but one of ze more unique places on earth. Landscapes incredible. Hmmm, I may go there again! Do you fancy a trip? hmmm? now?... but we are painting! or did you want a more majestic landscape?"

"What about you? What brings you to America?"

"Ze fates. I have a nose for these things. An inkling..." he said, with a twinkling in his eye and a tap of his nose. "And I can tolerate ze colonials now they finally have ze good French wine and ze good food, and at least a smattering of culture. You may even become cultured one day. Ze signs are good! you invented Jazz!" he chuckled, twirling his paintbrush like a conductor for a moment.

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