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Ravening Salt-Sea Sharks (IC)

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August 21, 2011

Riverside Park

5:46 PM

Riverside park was a little bit of beauty set at the tip of the city, jutting out into the waters of the Centery Narrows and greeting anyone who approached the city by the water. It boasted what was probably the city's most famous landmark, a statue of the Centurion holding a sword, facing out to the sea and prepared to greet any visitor, face any challenge. In fact, the park was so famous for the statue that some people forgot it still had several thousand feet of open green grass, but the Freedom City Players hadn't. Their stage was set up on a peninsula near the Tomb of the Unknown Hero, and a few hundred people were killing time in the Rose Garden or by one of the monuments, waiting for the show to start.

For his part, Brian Harris felt like he'd paced the entire park a dozen times. He stopped near the Sentry Statue, glanced up at it, and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He was dressed in a yellow polo shirt with the Claremont emblem over his heart, a pair of pressed khaki slacks, and his dress shoes, polished to a shine. He turned to his friend Morgan Crow and brushed bits of invisible fluff off his pants, then transferred the blanket he was carrying to his other shoulder. "How do I look," he asked for probably the hundredth time that night. Privately he thought he looked like some preppy college student, but he wanted to look nice for this double-date. He didn't have a lot of fashion choices -- most of his wardrobe was jeans and tee-shirts, until one hit his only suit. "Where do you think the girls are," he asked. "Vicky said she'd bring Gwen along, right?"

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Morgan raised an eyebrow at his somewhat panicky friend, the (outwardly) far more calm teen dressed in his usual black pea coat, blue jeans, and black loafers. Crowe wasn't much for a large wardrobe; but then, what he did wear, he tended to wear rather well. He'd also included a minor change to his outfit this time, a pair of sunglasses that reflected the sun as he leaned back on a bench, looking up at the sky. A small duffel bag sat beside him on the bench, a battered old thing he never left the campus without.

"Y'look like Overshadow himself just walked up and asked for directions, man. Relax. And yeah, she promised she'd get Gwen to come along. Heck, you probably didn't even need to ask her; not hard to see Gwen's got more than a li'l bit of interest in you, mate."

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Brian paced in front of his friend, literally wringing his hands. "I dunno. I mean, this is out first real date date, you know? I mean we went out for coffee a couple of times and I took her to the Boardwalk and she's still tutoring me, but... Is this too far?" He stopped in front of Morgan and faced his friend. "I mean, getting dressed up and going out to Shakespeare with you and Vicky? Is this just too much, too fast?" He resumed his pacing again. "Oh, god, it is. Man, Vicky's gonna show up alone and I'm gonna feel like an idiot and then I'm gonna fail Bio..."

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Morgan rolled his eyes, lowering the sunglasses before looking at Brian with an expression that spoke volumes about his opinion vis-a-vis his friend's current breakdown.

"Bri, Vick said she'd bring her, and she will. Besides, they're women; you ever know one who didn't exercise the feminine perogative of being fashionably late? And will you sit down already? Gotta look cool and relaxed for when they get here."

A wry smile creased his face as he pushed the sunglasses up, shifting himself about to present the best "cool" profile for when his significant other arrived. For all of his placid and calm demeanor, it was obvious pre-date jitters were not entirely Brian's bailiwick.

"Now, if we're talking about Bio...yeah, you're pretty much doomed, man."

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Vicky strolled up behind the bench Brian and Morgan sat, her steps almost silent on the boardwalk. She leaned down and whispered into Morgan's ear, "You two can try and look relaxed but we're women. We can smell your fear." Following that she kissed him on the cheek and stepped around the bench to sit next to him. She was wearing the pretty white blouse she'd worn a few dates back with a pair of black jeans. On her left shoulder hung the black strap to the messenger bag she nearly always carried. Her hair hung down her back in a long braid that bobbed as she moved. "Good evening boys."

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Gwen was to Vicky's right as they walked up to the boys. She had chosen a light green peasant top, long flowing

green skirt and green sandals with a heart shaped design near the toes Her red brown hair was curled slightly and fell around her body like a curtain. Her vines were out of sight and her face had no makeup yet was still radiant. I can do this, I can do this. Gwen chanted to herself. She was extremely nervous but managed to hide it well. Despite the tutoring sessions and coffee breaks Gwen had never been on a real date before. "Hello boys."

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Brian took a deep breath when he saw Gwen in her all-green ensemble. He stepped up close and took her hand, squeezing gently. "I'm so glad you came. You look absolutely amazing." He stood there, drinking in the sight of her, and only after minute realize he was kinda staring at her creepily. He backed off and coughed into his fist, blushing redly. "So we've got maybe ten minutes before the show starts. Do you want to try and grab some good seats? Or they've got a rose garden here we could check out?"

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The vines clamored with excitement, slithering across skin under Gwen's clothes. Make new friends? they asked Gwen. They liked meeting new local plants and had made a few friends among the town. "I'd really like to see the rose garden, but I also want to get a good spot. We can go see them during the intermission?" Gwen blushed a little and took Brian's hand. "Which way do we go?" Gwen inquired. She was pretending she couldn't hear the roses calling out to her, begging her to come see them, but she tried to push it down with all the other local flora that wanted to meet her. We can make new friends any time. You will like this play, promise.

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"Sure, okay." Brian took Gwen's hand and lead them over to the little peninsula where the stage was set up. It wasn't much -- a raised wooden platform with supports for a backdrop, and ramps on either side. A banner up top had the classic tragedy/comedy masks, and underneath that the words "FREEDOM PLAYERS PRESENT: MACBETH." Several couples and larger groups had already staked out places, but by luck there was a tree just a stone's throw from the stage that was unoccupied. Brian shook out the blanket over his arm, a blue and yellow checkerboard pattern, and did his best to cover the lumpier parts of the ground where the tree's roots broke the surface. He made to take a seat, then stopped himself and faced Gwen, making a sweeping gesture with his arms. "Would you like a seat?"

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Vicky held Morgan's hand as they walked behind Gwen and Brian towards the handily unoccupied area. Ducking into the shadows the trees cast she took a seat herself, she scanned the stage without removing her sunglasses. "When you guys first suggested Shakespeare in the park, I'll be honest, I confused this play for Hamlet. Probably for the best that it isn't, with our luck some necromantic jack-ass would animate Yorik's skull into some mindless rampaging abomination."

Inwardly, she wished she didn't know from experience how likely it was that a date in Freedom would be interrupted by some sort of villainous incident, recalling the first time she, Morgan, and Janis had gone to the Bayview mall together.

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Gwen blushed at the offer and pulled her skirt around her, gracefully falling to the blanket like a flower pedal falls to the ground. "Thank you." Gwen nodded to Brian and arranged her skirts and hair around her so not to be sitting oddly on either. Gwen winced at the thought of what Vicky said about bad guys. The last thing she wanted was a repeat of the Green Freedom incident. She had her mask with her, as she always did, along with the green bodysuit that was now a staple under the short girls clothes. One never knew where danger could crop up. "So which of you maverick men picked this as our date today?

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Brian lowered himself to the blanket, careful not to sit on Gwen's dress or hair. "I did," he said. "Classes start back up next week," for those of us who weren't in summer school, he added silently, "and this seemed to be a nice thing to see before school take up all our time." Of course, for him and Vicky and Morgan, training took up all their time anyway. "Besides," he said, "we've spent so much time studying, you and me. I wanted to show you that I'm more than just a jock. I can enjoy Shakespeare, too!" He reached into a back pocket and pulled out a folded program, handing it to his date. "It's MacBeth, but updated to a 1920s gangland setting. Tommy guns and zoot suits, not swords and chainmail, right?"

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Morgan winced at Brian's description of the "updated" Macbeth, walking in the back with Vicky. The teen kept himself quiet, letting his roommate and his roommate's prospective girlfriend talk; Morgan might have been a somewhat sarcastic individual, and he'd tease Bri mercilessly about this afterwards, but he wasn't going to blow his friend's chances like that. That'd be just plain mean.

However, that didn't stop him from talking quietly with his girlfriend as they headed towards the theatre dome.

"Meh. With our luck, Durnham Wood'll be a bunch of angry walking trees trying to 'take back' the park. Or maybe the Maestro'll show up complaining about the orchestra. Or...yeah, I'll shut up now."

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Gwen listened to Brian's description of the play. She nearly laughed out loud but instead she took the playbill and started to look it over. She stared at the cover. He was right, full on 1920s mafia style men on the cover. "So it's like the Leonardo DiCaprio Romeo and Juliet..." Gwen mulled over the cast. It was a version of the play most befitting to him. It was something that was starting to grow on Gwen actually, the contrasts between the two of them made things interesting. "Sounds new and interesting!" Gwen said to Brian, still looking over the playbill. She kicked off her sandals and let her bare feet fall of the blanket and into the grass.

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"I'm with Gwen on this, I'm rather intrigued by the change-up. Royalty and mob bosses do work pretty well. Besides, this isn't the first of The Bard's works to be modernized. West Side Story springs to mind," she said to Brian and Gwen after their comments on the play. While they waited she set her bag on the blanket and laid back, using it as a pillow while waiting for the show to start.

To Morgan she added in equally hushed tones, "Best case of attacks, maybe I get to knock Angle on her ass with one punch again. And hey, no exploding door traps to set off. I was pulling those tiny glass shards out of that sweater for a week, though I should count myself lucky that it's wearable and doesn't look too damaged."

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The four teens settled down to watch the show. While the visuals and some of the names had been updates (King Duncan had become Capo Danny) but the language has stayed almost unchanged. It was odd listening to people in natty suits and trilby hats throwing around 'thee's and 'thou's, but it certainly kept everyone's attention.

Well, most everyone's attention. Brian's was more on his (possible, maybe, crossing his fingers) girlfriend. Through the show he'd inched his hand closer to hers, and by the send of the first act they were holding hands. His heart was thumping and he could barely keep his eyes on the stage -- he kept sneaking glances at Gwen.

Things progressed normally (well, as normally as Shakespeare recited by gangster could be) into the third act. The hired killers laid in wait for Banquo (Mr. Banks) and Fleance (Fletty). As they rose to strike down the Scottish nobles, a shrill scream split the air, quite close. The actors stumbled suddenly and the audience stirred, suddenly uneasy. The feeling peaked when a stream of thespians bolted from backstage and into the crowd, eyes wild. With a sudden noise, the backdrop to the stage was torn down by a horrific figure -- a shark, seven feet from tail to nose, standing on two human-like legs! Behind it two more were struggling out of the water of the bay.

Brian swore and dropped Gwen's hand, bouncing to his feet. "Looks like date's on hold," he muttered. "C'mon, let's take these guys down!"

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"Can't I have ONE nice day outside the school?!" Gwen muttered as she spotted... was that TWO more fins. She swore under her breath in Spanish as she swung up into the foliage of the tree. The same they had been sitting under, this tree was a kind old maple who was more than willing to shield her from prying eyes as she stripped down to the green bodysuit. She had made some changes to it, added some darker green trim around the collar, arms and legs. One of the vines curled through her hair and pulled it up into a tight net and flowered bright red around it. She felt confidant enough to swing down from the tree. She thanked it for its willingness to hide her clothing and began to move to rejoin her allies.

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The first scream had hardly broken the air before Morgan was up and out of his seat, bolting up the aisle in record time. When the actors came stumbling out from backstage, he was up and over the hill, disappearing into the foliage himself. Tactics and schemes ran through his head, but the rest went to routine; surprisingly, part of Archer's training had been rapid changing of costumes. Boots, on, pants and sweatshirt, check, bandanna, tied, gloves, on, hood, up, coat, on, done!

Mentally, he silently reviewed the situation, carefully racking his brains to remember what he'd noticed looking back upon the scene before he'd hit the tree line. One shark coming out from the backdrop. Two coming up from the beach. Two more fins still in the water. Remembering the shark-man's really, really sharp teeth distracted him for a moment, and he swore. Not an enviable situation; not an enviable situation at ALL.

The curse hung in the air as he vanished, knowing he was probably already late to the fight...

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GM

The little knot of teen heroes was about the only group not fleeing in terror; why the sharks chose them, no one could say. Maybe it was that they were simply the closest. In any case, the shark on the stage rushed for Wisp, but the Russian-American heroine slipped nimbly aside. Flora wasn't so lucky. The man-shark leapt up and fastened onto her leg, abrading the flesh and vines there before dropping down into the midst of the heroes.

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As the shark lunged for her, Vicky dodged easily with a sideways one-handed cartwheel, her free hand grabbing the strap of her bag, before vanishing in a plume of her usual smoke. Reappearing in the tree a few limbs above Gwen she focused her mind and suddenly the clothes in her bag and the clothes she wore changed places. The process was all but instantaneous allowing nobody nearby to see any form of exposed skin. Without leaving the hide-away she called up her power one more time and launched a series of powerful punches and kicks into the shark-men, knocking several of their superfluous teeth from their jaws.

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Brian touched the ring on his hand and silver threads sprang out, covering his body. In moments he was clad in his metallic jumpsuit, with the high-collared half-cape snapping out behind him. He gave a smile fit to match the sharks and stepped up to the closest one, hand wreathed in red energy as he socked it square in the nose. Perhaps he wouldn't have connected if the beast hadn't been wavering from Wisp's assault, but this last blow managed to down the fishy intruder. Glowstar stood there and gave his friends a satisfied smile. "Well, that wasn't so bad," he said. "Was over quickly, anyway. Maybe we can still grab a coffee, or... uh..."

Turning back to the bay, he saw what the other teens had spotted earlier; two more black fins cutting through the water, making a beeline for the shore. They disappeared for a moment, then two more bipedal sharks pulled themselves out the bay. They bared their rows of teeth at the teen heroes menacingly and Glowstar slapped one hand against his forehead. "Stupid, stupid, stupid," he admonished himself. "Never say it's over until the bad guy's in Blackstone."

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The shark had gotten Gwen's leg just as she was swinging down from the tree. She groaned in pain and lost her footing slipping from the tree. She could barely see Brian and Vicky come to her rescue as she flopped on the floor. She shook her head, stood up and looked down to survey the damage. Her leg was grazed pretty well, small trickle of blood from the abrasions and a lot of red, raw skin. She swore under her breath as she put weight on it and was glad that it wasn't broken. She saw the other two sharks coming farther out of the water and charged towards them. The vines, who had acquired injuries of their own overshot their target and missed the shark horribly.

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GM

Flora's failed attack didn't even turn their shark-creatures from their charge. One drew forward of the other, digging its clawed toes into the turf as it turned at the last moment. Its huge, fang-crowded jaw snapped at Wisp, but the teenage teleporter easily avoided the attack. The momentum carried the beast past the teens and towards the rear of the fleeing crowd.

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As the shark ran past her, Wisp's arm shot out like an arrow from a bow and latched on to the shark-man's tail and yanked him back. When his head came around to snap at her arm with it's mouth full of a gratuitous amount of wickedly sharp teeth she yanked again, pulling him closer before sliding her arms around the beast's neck and holding him in a painful looking full-nelson. With a quick sweep of her feet she took his legs out from under him before forcing him face first into the ground. "Eh, he's not an eel but I'm seeing why the phrase about holding one is popular," she muttered as the shark tried to escape.

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The last shark bowled into Glowstar, sending the teen tumbling head over heels across the grass. The massive beast ended up on top of him, trying to use its greater mass to bear down on the teen hero. Thankfully, Glowstar had managed to get an arm wedged into the monster's mouth, holding it back. The creature's serrated teeth ground against his force field, but seemed unable to get past the sparking energies. For his part, the teen hero was obviously straining against the land-shark's greater strength, but he worked to keep his tone light. "Woo! That's some breath, chowder-head. You guys couldn't have stolen some after dinner mints before this? Like, a wheelbarrow apiece?"

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