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TheAbsurdist

Ventures Interrupted (IC)

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October 20th, 11:00AM

GM

The press conference was a simple thing to organize, especially when it was for a facility that was being funded by Amir al-Misri himself, and not a constituent of his company, and being done in conjunction with Fields Technology. Though al Misri did do additional investments outside of Summit Transnational, this was enough of a thing to draw attention to. Particular when a super-powered playboy billionaire showed up flanked with two other publicly known super-powered associates of his, the stunning Lady Winter and the brilliant (if acerbic) Jubatus (serious, check Amir's press releases). It looks like Apex Research and Development would be kicking off a nice big push of PR, if the amount of press at the event was indicating. To help show a level of separation, Amir's nominal ice-blonde shadow was not here, as this was Amir's baby, having done the negotiations after hearing an interview with Michael Fields. It just so happened his daughter was also in attendance, and on stage, as it was not feasible for her father to attend due to last minute circumstances.

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Catherine Fields looked semi-comfortable as she stood up on stage- for a first press conference, in fact, she looked remarkably comfortable, having memorised the cheat notes last night.

The young woman nodded as Asad walked up on the stage, smiling as she extended her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. al-Misri. D- my father sends his apologies that he can't be here."

At this, the first sign of uncomfortableness crossed Catherine's face- it was obvious to anyone with skill at reading body language that Catherine was not used to talking about Michael Fields in such formal language one bit. "You'll have to do most of the talking, I'm afraid. I did some reading last night, but I've only got a loose grasp on the technical details."

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He smiled disarmingly at Catherine. "It is okay, I am not too knowledgeable on the technical aspects either." The smile becoming a grin as he looked at her. "Just touch on the bullet points and we'll move on, it is like a magic show, little bit of abracadabra and wave your hands. I will speak first, and then you go, and we move on from there, the release covers all the questions, and tonight is not a Q and A, so it will work out for the best." Turning his head and nodding at the press, lifting a hand to wave at a few members he was more familiar with. "Besides, they are looking for me to make a mistake, so they will gloss over anything you do." A laugh as he glanced to his two companions, and sliding his hands into his pockets, looking exceedingly comfortable in his position, in spite of the scrutiny.

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Asad's smile was rewarded by a small blush from Catherine, before she cleared her throat. "Trying to catch out the billionaire superhero? I recognize a few journalists from Australia in there, as well."

Catherine grinned slightly, before looking at Asad's companions. Jubatus got a few blinks in surprise from the young woman, as did Lady Winter. "And it's a pleasure to meet you two as well. Um... I'm afraid I don't recognise either of you, though."

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Another day, another press conference. Sometimes Lady Winter had to wonder if Asad ever stood still for long. Then again, being on the move does stop a few potential attacks. She stood by her bosses side as she watched out for anything or anyone out of place. Lady Winter smiled and nodded at Catherine. Somewhere in the back of her mind she was hoping the air was not getting too cold for the young woman.

"Oh, Do not worry about that. I am Lady Winter." She replied.

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I never signed up for this. Damnit, al-Misri, I'm a troubleshooter, not a PR operative!

Jay Xavier hadn't expected he'd ever wear a suit again, let alone one that was hand-tailored to his distinctive form. Of course, the hand-tailoring was a flat-out necessity, because all off-the-rack clothing was designed and sewn for wearers with normal human anatomy… Xavier's cell phone pulsed at him, a two-minute warning before he was scheduled to jump into the spotlight.

He hrrphf out a small breath. Right. Showtime. And Jay Xavier, who was also publicly known as the heroic speedster Jubatus, stepped out of the private room in which he'd gotten dressed…

…and into a veritable ocean of paparazzi. Some people enjoyed being the center of attention; Xavier wasn't among that number. Fortunately, he didn't actively hate notoriety, but, rather, that in his view, being a public figure tended to have side-effects which got in the way of doing the job, for almost any value of the word "job". Here and now, however, those side=effects were the job, so he made a point of swallowing his reflexive snark, and generally doing as best he could to be a solid, respectable figure. Like that's gonna work. Well, maybe… having Mr. Moneybags here as a "fame attractor", to pull everyone's eyeballs away from me, sure won't hurt…

As was his habit, Xavier had made a point of researching the people he was working with. There was Amir "Asad" al-Misri, energy-absorbing hero of Middle Eastern descent with a ten-digit bank balance; Lady Winter, a Russian cryo-type super with greater-than-normal-human strength; and Catherine Fields, only child of an Australian technocrat. Xavier wasn't sure why Fields had chosen to move to Freedom City, but if he could judge from the available data, her reasons did not involve being on the outs with Daddy.

Noting that Fields wasn't feeling confident in her ability to carry off her role in the affair, Xavier said, "Hello, Ms. Fields. I'm Jay Xavier, ay-kay-ay Jubatus, and if you don't recognize this face, you must not watch the news at all." Hope I didn't come off too disapproving. "As for the presentation, I have a pretty damn solid grasp of the technical details—but I'm also enough of an asshole that me standing in for you is probably Plan E or F. So how about this for a Plan B: If you've got a text-capable phone I can hook up with, I can feed you answers to pretty much any question the newsthings drop on you. Think that'd be worth trying?"

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Catherine paused for half a second, then groaned. "Aw, geez... sorry, I'm normally better about remembering stuff like that. I just drew a blank- must be the stress. First time doing something like this, and dad had to ask me at the last minute- he said it needed a family member at least."

At Jubatus' suggestion, she slipped an iPhone out of her pocket. "...there are mobiles nowadays that don't have text?

Do you want my phone number, or do you want to set up a more direct connection?"

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Of course Asad found Jube's protests silently hilarious. But part of the reason was to get the idea of Jubatus as being associated with him, and him associated with Jubatus. Fortunately Lady Winter was able to handle herself, and frankly most of the press types tended to be distracted by her, just like they were by the cheetah. It was a carefully constructed image, that he seemingly chose these people based on the persona they presented, and not their abilities, that was entirely untrue, but such was what he wanted them to think.

"Catherine, may I call you Catherine? Just breathe deep, and relax. I am sure you will be able to handle yourself well here, just remember to smile as today's event is a good one, your father is putting some roots in the United States. If you want, I will happily stumble over a few lines, while glancing at you, the press knows I get distracted by a lovely woman." His smile changed to be sly, before glancing to Jubatus. "Do not worry Jay, we are not going to ask you stand in front of everyone, well... actually there are a few reporters I am not fond of... can you smile at them maybe?" His eyes drifted over to pointedly to the journalists who had been more than a critical of Asad thus far. "Or... conversely if they come bother us after the announcement I would not protest if it got colder." Despite the idle implication of threatening reporters, his tone was light he was bantering, fully aware of the timing of the event, especially since some of the camera men were still positioning to take shots.

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Catherine nodded at Asad's question. "Catherine is fine, Asad. And don't worry, I should be able to smile for the cameras, although I'm not going to insist on stumbling during the press conference..."

She blinked at Asad's next few comments. "The journalists can be... insistent, I take it? I mean, sure, I've read a few of the articles, and a couple are pretty uncomplimentary, but... didn't think it was that bad. In any case, I think I'm ready for the conference."

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Catherine paused for half a second, then groaned. "Aw, geez... sorry, I'm normally better about remembering stuff like that. I just drew a blank- must be the stress. First time doing something like this, and dad had to ask me at the last minute- he said it needed a family member at least."

Xavier smiled without letting his fangs show. "No worries—I thought it might be something like that. Don't self-flagellate over screwing up, because let's face it: You are a total novice, so you will screw up, end of discussion. The good news is, if you don't rub it in their faces, there's a better than even chance that the audience won't notice you've screwed up. So just wear the mask of confidence, and when you screw up, learn from it so you won't repeat that mistake. Okay?"

At Jubatus' suggestion, she slipped an iPhone out of her pocket. "...there are mobiles nowadays that don't have text?"

The feline's shoulders moved forward-and-up, in his version of a shrug. "Yes, there are, so I didn't want to assume. And… iPhone, great."

"Do you want my phone number, or do you want to set up a more direct connection?"

"Let's try Bluetooth first. What flavor of encryption?"

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Lady Winter shrugged. "I don not think I will need to give them the cold shoulder." She said with a small laugh. "But if they get to be too much, perhaps I should." Was really all Dasha had to say on the matter of the journalists.

She watched Xavier and Catherine talk. "I would not worry too much. Worry makes one slip up too much. Just relax. If you somehow make a mistake, just roll with it." She said with a nod. She hoped that would help calm the young woman down from her doubts. She turned to Asad. "When does this begin again?"

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Glancing to them and smiling reassuringly. "When they get into place. They are a little like spoiled kids, because they over inflate their personal importance, you will see them settle, and when the camera men are done then we do it. It is overstating the issue a bit, perhaps but that is the nature of these things. But I can nudge them along a little bit. Places everyone, I am going to, in the vernacular 'straight P.T. Barnum up in this joint.'" Flashing a wink to Catherine as he stepped from them to the podium, covering his mouth with a hand and coughing, just loud enough for the microphone to pick it up. Looking at the assorted members of the press, he swept that winning, red carpet smile over them all. His compatriots may not be comfortable with this kind of attention, this kind of scrutiny, but here, now, Asad was as powerful as when he fought supervillains. "We would like to get this under way, mostly because, as you can see, I made sure the event was catered and I would like everyone to be able to dig in while everything is fresh." And he shot the reporters a conspiratorial glance, chuckling softly. True to his word, they started to stop milling and focused on their jobs, because Amir al Misri was generally a good source for a story, even if it was just additional speculation. The make up of the reporters indicated that, with tabloid journalists, who no doubt took pictures of Asad giving Catherine a bit of extra attention.

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Catherine grinned a little at Asad's comment, and watched as the journalists started to settle down, noticing...

Oh, great. Tabloid journalists. Catherine kept the frown off her face, instead turning her grin from earlier into a gentle smile as she stepped up beside Asad. She could certainly see how he got the reputation, even if he was respectful to her- there was a very flirtatious side to how he behaved towards her. The Australian, however, got the strong impression that Asir al-Misri had more depth than on the surface.

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Xavier and Fields quickly worked out a highly secure communications channel between them, one that would be difficult-to-impossible for any hostile entity to successfully eavesdrop upon in the short time available. After that, Xavier whispered to al-Misri, "Gonna sweep the crowd for uninvited guests."

Then he vanished in an upshifted blur.

At a tempo of 40, the cheetah sped deftly through the gathered reporters and other persons, getting a good whiff of each person's scent as he zipped by, and a good look at whatever ID they were carrying openly. Xavier hadn't met all of the newsthings that covered the Freedom City beat, but for those he had dealt with, he could definitely tell if one of them had a different scent than he recalled—and therefore, in consequence, was probably an impostor. Likewise, he could tell if any of the people here carried the scent of any of the villains he'd encountered.

A few clock-seconds later, Xavier's sweep was finished. Only two persons carried any scent of a questionable nature, and in both cases, it was the distinctive scent of certain polymers that were only used in bleeding-edge tech. Hmm. White dudes, brown-haired, in their 30s, both carrying Press ID. Their looks aren't ringing any bells, but that hardly means anything. Okay, time to clue in the host of this shindig. Xavier got clear images of both men, then zipped back to al-Misri's side and downshifted to the normal tempo of 1.

"'Possible trouble," Xavier whispered to the financier as he took a tablet computer from one vest-pocket and brought the pictures up on screen. "Don't recognize their names, faces, or scents, but both of 'em are carrying stuff that reeks of supertech. Anybody you know?"

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GM

It would be hard to tell what the attention of the men entailed, they were posing as reporters after all, and if they were fakes they were acting in character. Even as the Jubatus moved to Asad and started talking to him the just took more pictures and made notes. Like everyone else. Then out came the tablet, and whatever urge they had to keep quiet to keep laying low was over and they surged up, outlines of something forming around each and then shimmered into solidity as suits. The larger man's suit was gray and red in color, and clung to his form tighter, whereas the smaller man now loomed over him in a larger suit. This exposure sent the crowd into a slow wave of panic, particularly to the heightened perceptions of Jubatus, as this all was moving to a crawl.

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Jubatus recognized the two costumes from his continuing research into supervillains. Oh, frigging joyous. So much for the hope that they might not be jerkwads. Rather than downshift and expend the necessary clock-time in would take to clue in his comrades via speech at a tempo of 1, the feline upshifted and whipped up a concise (if somewhat rudimentary) dossier on the two badguys, which he transmitted to the rest of his crew:

These guys are two of a Miami-based trio of villains.

[head shot of the one in gray-and-red]

Name: RPM

Powers: Speedster. Jube isn't sure of his top end, but it's a good bet that he's slower than Jube

[head shot of the other one]

Name: Collision

Powers: Flight & strength. Can bench 1 ton for sure, possibly more (inconsistent reports, sigh)

Third member of the trio: Not visible, but Jube thinks we should assume they're here regardless.

Name: Gunrunner

Powers: Marksman with specialized ammo. Non-trivial odds of them playing sniper from a safe distance away

Having done as much as he could vis a vis briefing his comrades in the short time available, Jubatus whispered to Asad, "You and Winter have got mail, and you want to read it." Then he upshifted and blurred towards the fiends from Florida…

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Catherine blinked as the meeting was attacked, and started to move into a ready stance, when she remembered that a) her costume wasn't on, and B) there was no possible way for her to act without publicly revealing that she was Vector.

She paused. Thought. And made a decision.

...if they start going after the bystanders, I'll act, but otherwise, I need to just watch and wait, even if I'd love to help take them down...

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