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February 27th, 2013 8:00 P.M.

North Bay Marina

 

Ever since the fateful events in the previous month in which the Curator sprung a sense of terror that the city hadn't seen in well over twenty years, the word charity had become synonymous with Freedom City's night life.  And although the city itself would never be desperate for repairs with the spirit of Dr. Metropolis, the families of the victims and the civil servants who gave their all still needed the proper assistance to get through the most trying of times.  Of course proceeds for the needy in general would not go forgotten.  The somber subject didn't stop many an event from becoming such a grand celebration that it could be considered the go to event of the evening.

 

As could be expected along the piers of the North Bay Marina overlooking Freedom's own historical museum from the distance, a large 534 ft. luxury yacht would be home to just such an event. Celebrations were well under way, as one by one an expensive vehicle or limousine began arriving bringing many of Freedom City's elite all under one place.   The generous spirit of the night would do nothing to dissuade those with unsavory intent from partaking in the festivities.  In fact, it was even suspected that some of the items put up for auction were simply a means to transfer illegal goods.  

The massive vessel belonged to the financial titans at Rath & Stromberg.  Though one would be hard pressed to find the two children of Stromberg whom actually chose to attend the event.  Choosing not to be on full display as the family was one that valued privacy.

The roar of an engine would rip through the night as a dark blue rear engine sports car pulled into the pier.  Erick Sloane adopted son of David Sloane accompanied promptly exited the vehicle.  The handsome young man was dressed in a sleek custom tailored suit.  The 2-button classic styled vent jacket worn over a collared dress shirt afforded him little protection against the cold night air.  The Russian wasn't a stranger to less than favorable ambient temperatures and the only concession afforded to the temperature would be the slight moment in which he checked to see if his breath was visible.

Erick's light blue eyes rose to meet with the large lumbering vessel.  He didn't often attend the showy functions, and in fact dreaded the small talk that inevitably followed.   Other than sharing a tax bracket, Erick didn't often find he melded with higher society all that well.  "Remember it's for a good cause.  I can nod along for at least an evening...I think."

Edited by HG Morrison
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Megan Howell looked out the window of the limousine she was riding in as it pulled into the entrance for the North Bay Marina.  Of course, the attractive young blonde was no stranger to the exclusive marina, her family having been members for years.  It was just a bit unusual to be attending events here at this time of year.  However, the events of last month had been quite unusual as well, necessitating tonight’s charity event.

 

Never one to pass up a party like this, Megan had felt all the more compelled to attend because of the cause for which it was raising money.  Thankfully she had been able to get ahead of her work for her internship at Summit Transnational, preventing another late night at the company’s corporate headquarters in the Wading Way.

 

As the limousine pulled up, one of the valets came over to open the door, holding out a hand to assist Megan as she exited.  Accepting the young man's hand with a warm smile, Megan climbed out of the limousine with an easy grace. 

 

Tonight Megan had chosen a black, razorback bandaged gown by Herve Leger which clung tightly to her curvy figure.  As the dress was completely sleeveless, and also left her shoulders almost completely bare as well, she also had a shawl that was wrapped around her upper arms and back.  The shawl also served another purpose, concealed inside was Megan's Velocity costume.  The young woman certainly hoped she would have no need for it tonight, but she had learned long ago that in this town it always paid to be ready, just in case.

 

Glancing over at the valet, Megan handed him a generous tip, as well as flashing another charming smile, before she started forward towards the gangplank to the massive yacht belong to the Strombergs. 

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Stopping to adjust his tie and cuff links, Erick would make his way towards the yacht.  The walkway just as impressive as the massive ship itself.  Which in Erick's opinion was quite a feat on its own.  It became readily apparent that no expense was spared in the organization of the party.  The boat was lit up in such a way as to compete with the wondrous night sky.  Food catered by only the most highly decorated of chefs.  And the famous Freedom Philharmonic was in full attendance providing the evening with music to set the mood.  If it wasn't for all the items on display behind cases, one wouldn't know on first sight that there was even an intent to sell.

 

"I'll give them this.  They know how to throw a shindig."  Before he could even finish his sentence, a server had managed to place a glass of champagne in Erick's hand.  The nineteen year old was not only underage, but had no intention on risking cognizance.  Which is how the glass quickly became a mere accessory as he began walking around to make the rounds around the display cases.  Wondering just what exactly the rich and famous had put of for sale.  He had settled on giving up the boat in which both David and himself had traveled around the world in on their respective journeys.  Of course it was a shoddy little thing which most likely didn't stand much of a chance at faring well.  Which is why he had to toss in the caveat of promising an evening with himself on the boat to the highest bidder.

 

The atmosphere on deck was pleasant the frequent party goers waxed poetic on business and life.  Many of the guests already quite well familiar with one another.  Some were even members of the exclusive Midnight Society.  Whose presence was no stranger to the marina in the slightest.  The staff and crew were eager to please with the festivities well under way and it was hardly imaginable that any had been voicing complaints thus far.

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As Megan made her way up the gangplank and onto the massive yacht, the twenty one year old blonde took a deep breath of the chilly sea air.  It was nice to get out on the water some, even if it was at the pier.  She certainly was going to be looking forward to the annual regatta at the start of the Summer this year.

 

The sounds of the Freedom Philharmonic filled the air, making Megan smile.  Though the gathering was to be an auction, she was certain there was bound to be dancing at some point, something she very much looked forward to.  Assuming she could find a suitable dance partner of course. 

 

Once she reached the main deck, it was not long before Megan had a glass of champagne in hand, taking a few drinks as she began to weave her way through the gathered crowd.  Having grown up in North Bay to very wealthy parents, Megan had long been part of this world, and knew a good many of the people here, at least by name.  As the daughter of one of the prominent corporate attorneys in the city, she was known by many of the business and financial leaders present.  And recently, she had been gaining an small reputation of her own, as she was drawing near the end of her four years at Yale University, from which she would earn an Economics degree, and because she was currently interning with Summit Transnational as part of her last Semester.

 

After a bit of time greeting various couples or groups of people she or her parents knew, the young blonde made her way out onto one of the open decks of the ship where there were a number of tables set out with a wide assortment of food.  She wanted to get at least a little bit to eat before trying to head out to the dance floor for a bit before the auction was to start.

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Thumbing through the various listings Erick whistled at just how expensive some of the things put up for auction were.  It certainly put a new meaning on the phrase charity begins at home.  Chuckling to himself he would begin to make his way across the deck to the dining area.  Figuring it best to get off his feet.  

 

Looking around Erick recognized many people that he knew off.  The odd editorial here and there, online biographies, and even the odd story around the dinner table growing up.  Only a handful were actual acquaintances to him.  It was the palpable difference between old money and new sometimes.  Or at least that was one way to rationalize it, reality was more akin to Erick's social circle tended to lie outside of his own tax bracket athletes and students.  David having some reclusive habits didn't push for being immersed in the lifestyle either.

 

All in all his expectations on how the evening would go had thrown him.  The atmosphere was actually relaxing.  As he approached the dining areas nearing the food tables, Erick made his way towards a young woman.  Leaning over he'd put on a polite smile before suddenly speaking up.  "So, what looks good?"

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Megan had just been considering the various options when a handsome young man appeared next to her, asking what might look good.  The blonde young woman gave him a warm smile as she looked back at the elaborate spread.  "It is so hard to tell, isn't it?"  She stated with a light tone.

"But from experience at other events that used this catering service, the crab cakes are to die for.  The brie and caviar are excellent as well."  She commented.  "And to be honest, I believe they do most everything quite well, so it depends on what you’re in the mood for."

Megan turned back to regard the young man again, a look of recognition crossing her face as she did so.  "You're Erick Sloane.  I saw your performance at the last World Championship.  That was quite an amazing performance after leaving gymnastics for awhile."

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Extending his free hand towards hers Erick would look around the spread as she gave him a verbal tour of what to expect.  "Well I think I'll avoid the caviar.  It just feels less authentic outside of Russia.  Not to sound like some sort of hipster."  A smile formed on his face upon the woman's realization.  While the aim was normally to remain low key, it was nice to know he still was recognizable at a social function.  Especially when the phrase 'so sorry to hear about your parents' wasn't included in the statement.

 

"Always a pleasure to meet a fan.  Let me just cut off before the awkward moment in which I explain why I opted out of competing in the Olympics despite that showing.  I didn't want to.  Although, the introductions do feel a bit unfair.  You know all about me, and I don't even have your name."  

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Megan took Erick's offered hand as she smiled slightly as Erick mentioned why he would probably avoid the caviar.  She then nodded as he mentioned why he had not been part of the 2012 Olympic team after his strong showing at Worlds. 

 

"Of course, I’m sorry."  She said when he mentioned not knowing her name.  "I'm Megan Howell."

 

"I took quite a few gymnastics lessons when I was younger, but then I decided to focus on dance instead."  Megan continued.  "But I got to use some of my gymnastics background when I was cheerleader at North Bay Academy.  Since starting college, I have not really been able to do much of either, though I do keep up with my dancing as much as I can."

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"Megan, lovely name."  End the handshake he made sure to grab an available plate, Erick and just went on blind faith as the servers placed a variety of finger foods on his plate.  The watercress sandwich solicited an odd stare from the man whom rarely ventured outside of cold cut territory when accompanying his bread.  It seemed quiche's lined the outside of his plate bordering the foods whose names escaped him.  "I guess eating in bulk's not the idea of the night."

 

His attention quickly returned to the attractive woman whom had directed him to the food in the first place.  "A dancer?  Well I may not be quite as light on my feet when it comes to the dance floor.  But if you're looking for a dance partner this evening, let me be the first to toss my hat in."

 

Looking around the dining area, he begins to scan the area for somewhere to sit.  Choosing to opt for a table not filled with people discussing the wonders of whatever investment they had most recently tossed their money in.  Picking a table with a proper view of the marina since the yacht made no sign of leaving shore he'd turn his head back to Meagan.  "Shall we?"

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"Thank you."  Megan replied as Erick commented on her name.  The blonde then proceeded to get a plate for herself that contained some pasta salad, fruit, and a couple of the crab cakes she had mentioned.

 

When Erick brought up dancing latter, Megan gave him a wide smile.  "I was certainly planning to get out on the dance floor tonight.  And as luck would have it, I had not yet found a dance partner.  So at the very least, the first few dances are all yours."  She replied.

 

The young woman then glanced over towards the table Erick had indicated, noting with approval its wonderful view.  "That looks perfect."  She stated, as she started in the direction of the table.

 

Once the two were seated, Megan looked over at the blond young man as she asked, "So, Erick, what are you doing now if you're not still training for the next world championship?"

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Shrugging at the question, Erick would stop for a moment before answering.  "I'm pursuing higher educational pursuits at FCU.  I've also been getting shares in small businesses with the potential for growth.  Getting a recoup as long as they don't flounder.  I've been looking into setting up a line of fitness clubs across the country starting with the city of course.  But getting a good base of investors as well as an assortment of other hang ups have gotten in the way.  Not to mention finding the right location.  Suffice to say I keep busy.  And yourself dancing all over town?"  Of course he left out the less important details like dressing up at night and being shot at more times than a person should feel comfortable with by the mobs.  It was probably a conversation killer and all. 

 

As he awaited her answer, Erick placed one of the watercress sandwiches in his mouth.  The sandwich was surprisingly delectable for something that lacked any chance of filling a person up without a buttload of bulk.  He was of course more carnivore than food connoisseur so the good taste only made up for the fact that the miniature sandwich lacked a cold cut of any sort as a filter between the bread.

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Megan took a few bites of food as she listened to Erick, along with a sip or two of her champagne.  When he turned the question back on her, with the comment about dancing, the blonde young woman smiled.  "As much as I can."  She began.  "But I am also finishing up my economics degree at Yale.  Though most of my credits for this last semester are connected with my internship with Summit Transnational here in town.  I have a couple of seminars I am taking by teleconference, so I really am only up in New Haven one or two days every other week."

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Erick whistled in response to her ivy league credentials.  The school name alone came with a wealth of prestige, even for those there on a sports scholarship.  "Yale, that's certainly an impressive accomplishment.  Especially if you can swing it to avoid having to be in town more than four days a month.  Someone's a star lawyer in the making.  Has to be pretty inconvenient to make the trips back and forth, I'm not a fond of the idea of so much jet lag."  He continued making his way through his meal.  Which did not have the quickest survival life in store for it.  Raising his glass of champagne he thought it over for a moment and relented before it could touch his lips.  "Driving tonight, I think I'll stick to the water."

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Megan gave a modest smile at Erick's compliments. "No, my dad's the lawyer. And my brother will be one as well once he finishes law school next year." She replied. "But thank you, it has been a lot of hard work, both to get in and then once there." Of course, the young blonde did not mention that her superspeed had helped at least shorten the time it took to do all that work, allowing her time to both enjoy herself and be active as Velocity.

 

She then shrugged as he mentioned the commute time back and forth between New Haven that she had to make. "It is a small price to pay for having the opportunity for the internship. I am learning a lot at Summit. Besides, New Haven isn't that far away. But I have mainly been taking the train, as that allows me to do some work during the commute, and I don't have to sit in traffic around New York City."

 

When he mentioned sticking with water because he was driving, Megan nodded. "Very responsible. I rented a limo tonight, but I don’t plan on drinking too much myself."

"So, what are you studying at FCU?" She then asked.

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Palming the glass for a moment, Erick would wait for the moment a server passed by placing the glass on a tray as it passed.  He would easily switch it for a glass of lemonade in one fluid motion.  The drink would not take long to meet his lips as the fluid moved down his throat.  The stream danced merrily as it made its way down his throat.

 

"I'm a business major.  Minor in econ.  Aiming to get an MBA after my undergraduates work is complete.  Which taking summer courses into account is sooner rather than later.  Not aiming to become the next Summit Transnational or anything, but with time possibly holding a large enough conglomerate of athletic programs, fitness clubs, and supplements to inch my way forward and really give back.  Might open up a financial firm while I'm at it. know a boring plan for a gold medal winner, but hey I guess I'm a dull guy nowadays. "

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Megan listened as Erick talked, eating some of her food and taking a few sips of her champagne.  "Boring?  No, I wouldn't say it was boring.  After all, you already have a gold medal, why not move on to a new challenge?"  The blonde stated.

 

"I have thought about possibly pursuing an MBA myself."  She then added.  "And have thought once or twice about law school. But the MBA would be the more likely.  And I don't think I have it in me to try for a PhD in Economics or anything."

 

"Right now, I am still trying to decide what I want to do after getting my degree.  Assuming there is some offer from Summit when I am done, I need to decide whether I want to stay there or try something else."

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A warm smile would form on the blond male's face in response to the new challenge statement.  That was certainly something he had taken to heart.  "With the exception of added stature I don't imagine a PhD would be a very sound invested for Economics either.  Unless you are just so enthralled with the math that is.  I'd go as far as saying the only ones who really should pursue doing are careers in academia.  Not everyone gets tenure and all.  Still to on a the lighter note to new challenges.  Whether yours be in Summit or elsewhere."  As he spoke Erick made sure to lift up his glass in acknowledgement.

 

Folding a napkin from the table, Erick would dab slightly against his face.  His head tilting to take in the view.  "I will give the colossal thing this.  It comes with some nice scenery.  I can kind of see how the yacht club keeps its members.  If these are the sights they have to look forward to."

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"Well, a number of large investment companies and banks have PhDs working for them, and there are a number working for various government agencies as well, but yeah, most end up in academia.  And I just don't really see myself there.  So overall, it just seems like a lot of unnecessary effort.  There are far more people who are extremely successful in business and finance without a PhD economics than there are who do have one."  Megan replied with a small nod.

 

When Erick made a small toast to facing new challenges, the blonde lifted her champagne glass, lightly clicking it to Erick's glass.  "To new challenges!"  She stated with a grin before taking  a drink from her glass.

 

When the conversation turned to the view from the massive yacht, Megan looked out over the dark waters, with the bright lights of Freedom City glittering beyond with a smile.  "The views can indeed be impressive."  She acknowledged.  "The annual summer regatta is quite impressive as well, when you get out closer to the city as part of the evening cruise."

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"Summer regatta?   I'll have to take your word for it.  Don't get me wrong I'm enjoying myself.   Good ambiance  a pleasant view both on and off the boat."   Leaning forward towards the other blonde sharing the table with him, Erick would let out a joke whisper. "But little secret between you and I.  Not big on this whole scene usually.  I think I'll have to miss that summer showing."

 

Leaning back into his seat he would let out a chuckle as a grin appeared on his face.  The night air brushing against his hair as he stared out at the cityscape.  The more time he spent away from the Southside the more apparent it became to the young man just how many perspectives there were to this one city.  Whether that was a good thing or not had never really solidified in his mind.  But the concept was certainly a trait worth acknowledging.  As the drug dens in the Fens were just as much a part of the city as the one percenters enjoying a seaside auction.

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"Ah."  Megan replied with a small nod as Erick mentioned that he tended to avoid the high society social scene when he could.  While the young blonde had grown up as part of that scene, she could also understand how someone might not enjoy it. 

 

"Well, maybe you are looking at these events the wrong way."  She offered.  "Try view going to them as just a rather elaborate business meeting.  You stated you had been having a bit of a tough time getting a good investor base for your plans," the young woman swept one of her hands out to the side, indicating the people at some of the other tables, "somewhere out there, there are bound to be one or two that will be interested, and they will lead you to one or two more, and so on."

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"Hm,  It's valid, logical, and probably the smartest idea.  But pbbbft.  I may not frequent the black tie events all that often.  But even I know to give my attention to the beautiful woman making the small talk in front of me rather than potential business opportunities from gentlemen with wrinkles older than me.  Although I will keep the butterfly effect of party politics in mind."  The blonde haired man gave a curt smile before letting a chuckle or two escape.  Erick would then pat down his coat rising up from his seat and then extending a hand in the woman's direction.  "I do think that's enough business talk for now at least.  And I was promised a dance.  I'd be quite the fool not to collect."

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Megan smiled at Erick's comment about realizing he should be paying more attention to her than focusing on trying to find potential investors.  When he stood up and mentioned heading towards the dance floor, her smile broadened.  Taking one last sip from her glass, the blonde young woman sat the glass down before lifting her hand and placing it in his, allowing him to help her to her feet.  "Well, I am certainly ready to head out to the dance floor for a little bit before the bidding starts."  She replied.

 

Once up on her feet, Megan wrapped one of her arms around Erick's, as she added, "So please, lead on."

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The sounds of the philharmonic choir filled the air with pairs already making their rounds on the dance floor.  A loud clinking noise would cut through the night air a short slightly heavyset man would cut into the musical proceedings.  The music would come to a complete stop allowing the man to rise up on to a stage and begin to address the entire deck.  His face was flushed pink with beads of sweat pooling most likely nervous to speak in front of a large crowd.  The hat from the lights focusing in on him weren't doing any favors either.  "May I have your attention please.  I am pleased to inform you all that opening bids will begin in thirty minutes.  We ask that all wishing to participate in the bidding head down to the middle deck at that time in which the auction will take place.  And thank you all for coming."  As the man finished speaking the philharmonic would begin to play a rendition of The Blue Danube Waltz by Johan Strauss II.  Resuming the festivities as if the interruption had never occured.

Edited by HG Morrison
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Clad with Megan around his arm, Erick would lead the pair to the dance floor.  Once there he would move to try and secure his right hand on her left shoulder blade. His left hand would be outstretched to the side awaiting the company of her hand to meet it.  "I am completely secure enough to state that if the looming risk of my feet coming down on yours becomes apparent it may be proper for you to take the lead instead."  The blonde man would turn to acknowledge the stage as the chubby man made his way down.  With his informative update as to the status in the evening.  "Well it certainly sounds as if we have the time for a little enjoyment before the main event of the evening."

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As Megan and Erick made their way to the dance floor, an announcement was made about when the bidding for the auction would begin.  Thankfully, there was still plenty of time for some dancing first.  Taking Erick's extended left hand with her right, her left hand reaching up to his right shoulder, the blonde smile as Erick admitted that it might become necessary for her to lead.  "I will be ready if need then."  She replied.

 

As the waltz began, the pair moved out onto the floor, joining the other pairs of dancers already out there.  Megan quickly matched her steps to the rhythm of the music, the heels on her shoes not at all slowing her down as she gracefully began to glide across the dance floor with Erick.  As she went, the young woman made sure not to get ahead of him.  "Hmm, only thirty minutes or so."  She said with a feigned look of disappointment.  "But I suppose it will have to do."

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