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Electra

Bring in the Noise (IC)

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Wander had no idea why she was patrolling tonight. It was way too hot for anyone to be committing any sort of crime. Even up on the rooftops where there was a bit of a breeze, she was about to melt into a puddle inside the very sturdy, very long-sleeved and long-pantsed new uniform Frank had made her. She definitely preferred winter patrols. Normally she wouldn't have been out at all on a night like tonight, but with the city still unsettled from the latest world-shaking threat, who knew what could be going down? Not to mention the fact that Trevor was sleeping and every goddamned time she closed her eyes she was back on EZO1 and that wasn't where she liked to spend her evenings. Even Freedom City in the melting summer heat was better.

Late in the evening she found herself down near Lincoln, not her usual territory, but a place where she'd spent some time. She'd patrolled every neighborhood in the city during her training, just to get familiar with them. There seemed to be something interesting going on here, at least. A lot more guys than usual wearing a lot more clothes than seemed necessary on a night like this were walking furtively down the streets, heading towards what looked like some old factory. Her nose caught the scent of smoke on the air, and dimly against the sky she could see puffs coming from the big old brick chimney. Curious, she began to draw closer.

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Keith LaMarr may have been accustomed to hot summer nights in Lincoln, but his heavy physique didn't make the heat any more bearable, even without taking his super-dense muscle tissue into account. Clad in a thin black tank top and worn jeans, the metahuman high school teacher reclined in a chair that was more cinder block than furniture next to a pitcher of lemonade and a stack of unmarked papers as he looked out into the dark of the night from the porch outside his first storey apartment, accepting that sleep was unlikely to come any time soon.

The quiet ricochet of a pebble sized piece of loose brick drew his attention upward just in time to see the faint outline of a dark form running speedily bu silently across the rooftops on the other side of the street. Eyebrows lifting, the audible educator decided that perhaps a light workout was just the thing and started off in the same direction.

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Wander was intent enough upon her destination that she didn't notice the shadow pacing her from the ground. She stopped on the roof of the building next to the factory and watched another group of nondescript figures in hats and heavy coats going into the factory. She couldn't see a darn thing from this vantage point, though. Whatever was happening, it wasn't being done on the roof. She stepped off the edge of the building and dropped silently to the ground, looking for a window from which to get a look inside the factory.

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As Wander landed easily on the ground, heavy footsteps and the pointed clearing of a resonant throat from behind her alerted her to a much less stealthy presence. "Now, I know how popular the whole cloak and dagger approach is these days," the broad-shouldered form noted in a rumbling bass as it stepped close enough for the teen to recognize the sonic shouting hero Wail. "But in my time ninjas were dime-a-dozen punks, so can't say I really 'get it'." From his manner, it was clear that between the dark and her new look, he didn't recognize Wander in turn.

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"Beats the traffic, and it's great exercise," Wander replied in a murmur, stepping back from the window. She was a little surprised to see anyone else out tonight, much less a sort-of familiar face. "You're Wail, right?" she asked, taking another step closer to the big man with no apparent concern. "I forgot that this was your beat. Haven't seen you since the thing with the alien raptor guys. Wander," she thought to add at the last minute. She wasn't the most memorable-looking hero around, even before her costume change. "You know anything about what's going on here?"

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LaMarr tilted his head slightly as he regarded the young woman more closely, recognizing the untalkative powerhouse from the bizarre saurian incursion on the Brick. "Huh. You got a haircut," he noted aloud, not even bothering to mention the entirely new costume. Inwardly he decided it was a good look for the teen, certainly more adult, but he'd found over the years that nothing put a young person off a new image like approval from a teacher. "Starting to sound like I'm coming in halfway through," he admitted, scanning the area around them, spotting the puffing smokestack. "What am I-- hey now. Somebody's cooking."

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"I don't know much either," she admitted. "Just saw some people acting strange, heading in this direction. It doesn't look like this place is open for business, and it's pretty hot for people to be running around in long coats. Thought I'd check it out. Could probably use a hand, if you're not busy," she offered. Depending on the situation, a big imposing-looking guy could be a lot more effective at breaking up a situation than a young girl, no matter how talented a fighter she was. It was too damn hot to start mixing it up tonight. She nodded her head in the direction of the window she'd been heading towards.

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Wail rumbled in agreement at Wander's comment about the heat, stroking his grey streak beard absently with one hand. "That's a red flag, alright." The sparse light of the late evening glinted off teeth revealed in a broadening if largely humourless smile. "Well, it's been a while since I was in the mystery solving biz, but old habits and old dogs." He gestured with a muscle bound arm for the young heroine to lead the way. He'd seen her in action well enough to know she had no difficulty fending for herself, and this way she might have a chance to use the element of surprise before he made use of his less subtle talents.

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Wander nodded and stepped towards the high window. She put her hands on the sill and levered herself effortlessly off the ground to look inside. She watched what was going on for a minute and then cocked her head, frowning. Drawing back from the window, she waved Wail forward to look inside. She didn't know what to make of what she was seeing, but perhaps someone with a few more decades experience could parse it.

Inside, the dilapidated factory was awash in shadows, but for the very center of the empty production floor. More than a dozen people of varying ages, races and sexes were gathered together, listening to a speaker on a makeshift platform made of an old flatbed. It could've been any slightly illicit meeting, except that everyone there was dressed in skintight uniforms in bold colors, some with masks, some with capes. Some seemed to be carrying weapons. Off to one side, the factory furnace had been activated and was burning very hot, its fire casting an orange glow over the proceedings.

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Fortunately Wail's greater height allowed him to peer over the window's ledge without too much difficulty; the side of the warehouse certainly wouldn't have supported his weight. The older hero raised an eyebrow at the bizarre gathering before backing away from the window to consider. This wouldn't be the first demagogue he'd dealt with; Lincoln had been through some tough times and there were always those looking to use the resulting frustrations to their own ends. The mismatched outfits were a new, bizarre twist, however.

"Hnn. Shoulda changed before following you. Going to be the only one out of costume." Looking over Wander's dramatically different ensemble, a thought occurred to him. "You think those new threads still have a little anonymity left in them?" he asked the young woman, nodding significantly to the warehouse door.

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"They should, I've only been wearing them a week, and I haven't done anything really exciting," Wander whispered back, looking at her costume. She looked like she was going to ask where he was going with that, but caught his glance towards the door and understood. "You want me to go in there?" she asked, incredulity and interest mixed in her tone. "Just waltz in and try to blend in?" She considered the idea. "I guess it could work, or it might just start a fight faster. Which could also work."

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The smile Wail gave Wander made it clear that as much as Keith LaMarr may have been a man of learning who had mellowed with age and sough a better way, he was not, nor had he ever been, one to shy away from a fight. "Just gotta act like you're so sure you're supposed to be there, they wonder if maybe they got the wrong address, kid," he advised the young woman. He'd have been considerably more reluctant to send her in ahead if he hadn't seen her go toe to toe with a fascist dinosaur from another dimension. He was reasonably sure she could handle herself. "Things go south, just shout."

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"Thought that was your job," Wander muttered with a half-smirk, even as she turned towards the oversized entrance doors. Rolling her shoulders in preparation, she took the bat from her belt and palmed it, then headed in. It was a few moments before she became visible from Wail's window view again, approaching the rear of the group. Two of the watchers broke off to confront her, while the rest didn't seem to pay much attention.

Compared to Wander's professionally crafted morphic-molecule attire, the guardians' clothes looked rather shabby and homemade. A few words were exchanged, before Wander glared at them and simply turned to pay attention to the speaker. They didn't seem inclined to press the issue further. In the sullen heat of the summer night, the air began to smell more strongly of the smoke from the factory chimney.

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Giving Wander a reassuring nod as she entered, Wail returned to watching carefully though the warehouse window, silently observing the continuing meeting. The entire affair was disconcertingly organizer, and the experienced hero was unsettled that things had come this far in his own backyard without him noticing. There had been a time when he had prided himself on having his finger on the pulse of the entire city, Lincoln in particular, and he wondered if that was still the case.

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It was small consolation that Wail didn't recognize any of the members of the crowd, who didn't necessarily seem to be local characters. Many of them were wearing masks or helmets anyway, so they could be anyone. He couldn't make out the words the speaker was saying from his post by the window, but he could observe the body language of the crowd. They were paying close attention, but many of them darted glances now and then towards the furnace. Some of them seemed merely interested, but some were nervous, even afraid.

Inside, Wander wasn't having much more luck deciphering the purpose of the gathering, despite being privy to the speaker's word. He sounded a lot like her chemistry teacher when he was off on an enthusiastic explanatory kick that left the class behind. Something about the release of endorphins and adrenaline triggering unused portions of the brain, and how a bunch of different brain chemicals were stimulated by danger and excitement. A glance around her seemed to indicate that others were absorbing the explanation way more than she was, in fact the atmosphere was almost electric. She tuned back into the speaker just in time to hear him say "And it is the release of these chemicals that triggers the latent superabilities in normal human beings. With my secret patented formula, any exposure to danger will cause a chain reaction that can change your entire life!" He looked towards the furnace, which now looked like it was most certainly exceeding its design specifications.

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From his vigil at the warehouse window, Wail could clearly make out the furnace, and didn't need any particular technical knowledge to tell that if it wasn't yet an immediate danger to everyone present, it soon would be. The aging hero considered for a moment, hesitant to tip their hand while Wander was still under cover, but quickly decided that they were better off taking the group down and sorting out the specifics before anyone could hurt themselves.

With a few long stride, he moved to the warehouse door and sent it crashing in with a single shove. "Alright, time to take the costume party somewhere without an exploding furnace!" the imposing figure demanded in a commanding voice that shook the entire building.

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Wail's sudden appearance caused a major disruption in the gathering, which was apparently mostly made up of people who didn't spend a lot of time with superheroes in the flesh. A few screamed and ran into the dim depths of the warehouse, while most just stood and looked dumbfounded for a few moments. The leader, though, seemed almost energized by this new development. "Perfect! The ambient energy of an already realized metahuman power will only increase the potency of the endocrinal excitement compound! Quickly, everyone, the pills!" About a third of the crowd remained stunned with the shock of Wail's entrance, but the rest withdrew paper envelopes from pockets or sleeves and swallowed the contents, looking expectant. In the middle of the crowd, Wander smacked the hand of the person nearest her and made him drop his pills, but had no idea what to do beyond that. She looked over the heads of the motley gathering to Wail and shrugged her shoulders.

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"The hell is the matter with you fools?!" Wail boomed, his indignation resounding in the bones of everyone present. "Some joker tells you to drink the Kool-Aid and you ask how big a glass?" One of the bolder among the pill swallowing, costume wearing group began to voice a counterpoint but was cut off by an emphatic, "Sit DOWN!" This time, the broad-shouldered educators shout carried physical force, knocking the entire crowd to the warehouse floor and silencing any objections.

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