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Saturday, April 6th

11:32 AM


Cannonade usually wouldn't have been in costume and about town this early on a Saturday. But he, like the rest of the Liberty League, had been on high alert the last few days. There'd been a number of suspicious thefts in the Freedom area over the last few days, and if the pattern held up, odds were the thieves weren't going to take a day off. 


Midnight had been the first to notice the pattern. On Thursday night, at around 3 AM, several items went missing from the Harcourt family vault at Eastern Seaboard Bank. They could tell the time because the disappearance of the items had set off the motion detectors and pressure sensitive plates in the vault - even though the thieves had not. There was no sign of breach, no sign of forced entry, and no sign of electronic subversion of the vault's countermeasures. Then, around midnight on Friday, someone had done a smash-and-grab on the Valert mansion in the North End and had stolen several antiques from the family's private collection. 


Two thefts that might, by themselves, be either coincidences or the sign of a particularly brave gang of robbers. But the Valerts had a reputation for considering private acquisitions the family hobby. Their collection was rumored to consist of pieces that might better belong in a national museum - bits of Greek architecture, Renaissance painting... and paraphernalia from the homes of Hitler's inner circle. Likewise, the Harcourts had a black sheep in their family tree - Roland Harcourt, who it was rumored had made a bank securing Nazi funds in American institutions. Some of which he might have actually kept. 


So it appeared that somebody was going about stealing Nazi assets - or, worst case scenario, relics. Which was why Cannonade was on patrol in Midtown, keeping his eyes locked on the Super Museum. Midnight had been able to narrow down a few "avenues of interest" for the robbers to strike at, potential assets that the thieves might strike at - private collections, arcane libraries, and so forth.   The Museum was hosting another retrospective on the heroes of WWII, this time focusing on some of the artifacts belonging to the Reich's own superpowered operatives. There was little chance anything was going to go down in the light of day, but he'd volunteered to keep an eye on Downtown. And hey, nothing wrong with spending more time at the Super Museum. 


"Nothing big so far," he said into his communicator. "Anything on your ends?"

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"Nothing out here," Wander reported, swinging her legs as she perched on the roof of a building in Southside. "Except I kind of have an itch between my shoulderblades that says I ought to be ransacking this building myself. How do we keep ending up protecting Nazis, anyway?" The Museum of the Glorious Reich was not at all a popular tourist destination, to judge by its run-down real estate and the colorful graffiti that adorned the building, but it had some heavy-duty security protecting the small collection of Nazi artifacts and larger library of pro-Nazi literature. Erin suspected that her assignment was probably a waste of time and that the thieves would go after something more intrinsically valuable at another location, but it would suck to be wrong. 

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"You are very pretty young man," said the old woman with a smile as she patted Mark on the knee, sitting close to him on her musty old couch as they poured over creaking old photo albums that showed in black and white the inner circle of the Ubersoldaten at the start of World War II. "You remind me of your grandfather Jimmy. Now there was a pretty young man, I tell you, I remember when we captured him and Freedom Eagle and he told me, "Fraulein, if you get me out of these trap, I will get you into this-" 


Luckily, Mark was saved from a dire fate indeed by by Cannonade's message, and he briefly excused himself to talk on his communicator in the Bavarian-style kitchen. "Nothing, nothing of interest here," he said with a little cough, glancing through the passthrough at the frail old woman was leafing through her old photo albums with a look of great interest on her face. Mark had an eye for lovely women, and he could see in the frail old German emigre the tall, athletic Jaegerin who had gone from would-be Olympian in 1940 to super-soldier for her native Austria. Her lack of superpowers meant she had avoided prosecution afterwards, having presented herself as a commando in a mask rather than something more sinister. 

"Hannah Schmidt may have the biggest private collection of Ubersoldaten gear in Freedom City, but I don't think she's a likely theft risk. This house looks like any other senior citizen's place and she's been off the bad guy radar for thirty, forty years...." 

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Two clicks in rapid succession over the comlink's line indicated that all was quiet on Midnight's end as well. The black clad detective came in and out of view as the hanging light overhead swung back and forth, illuminating the menacing outline of the masked figure in one moment and leaving him a solitary pair of glowing red embers floating at eye-level the next. A pained, groggy groan from off to his right sent his arm into a blurred, precise motion, flinging an escrima stick like a missile to crack sharply against the shaved head of a broad-shouldered thug in a jacket festooned with numerous offensive patches and hateful slogans. The blow sent the neo-Nazi back down atop his colleges in a haphazard pile as the escrima stick bounced back to land neatly in Midnight's outstretched hand.

The numerous other enforcers and their employers about the club's hidden backroom remained unconscious for the time being, propped against locked doors or slumped in seats around the massive card table mid-game. The sizable pot at the center of the table, along with the larger items stacked nearby, included everything from wrapped bricks of high grade narcotics, memory sticks storing incriminating evidence against certain appointed officials and, more relevant to the evening's mission, several examples of Third Reich memorabilia that would be worth a small fortune to the right buyer.

As the hanging light's arc began to diminish and slow, Midnight idly turned up the edges of the hand of cards closest to him before placing them face down again with an unimpressed snort.

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"So nothing all around," said Cannonade, eyes locked on the front door of the museum. He'd kinda been hoping to get an excuse to break up the poker game or "secure" the museum in Southside - if you can call it that, it's probably just a walk-in closet full of Wehrmacht uniforms and really creepy photos - but he'd realized Wander and Midnight would have been a better bet for actually extracting info from the targets that might have been useful. That, and he'd drawn the short straw. "Mind you, nothing also means there's no mess yet. I'm gonna go get a closer look at the Museum, check possible points of entry --" 


The faint sound of roaring drew him away from the conversation. Across the street, people were running out of the museum in droves. From inside the museum, the roaring repeated, like some large beast had gotten loose. 


"Yeah, hold that thought," Cannonade said. "Super Museum, now. Sounds like someone let a T. rex loose in there." 

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--Your friend talks too much,-- La Renarde Bleue whispered in the mind of Midnight.  Outside the club a shadow shifted and dropped to the sidewalk below, the light from the sign revealing the hooded and vulpine-masked heroine that once went by the moniker Sage.  The petite psychic agreed to this outing as a favor to Midnight, Wander and Edge (though, admittedly, mostly Midnight) and opted to shadow her tall friend and provide backup if he needed it.  Not that he would need it, the psychic admitted to herself, but she was more comfortable around him than the others.  They talked too much.
Why are we protecting this trash anyway? she wondered while waiting for Midnight.
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"Frau Schmidt," said Mark immediately, "your pardon but I have to get going now." He stepped out of the kitchen, gave the too-friendly old lady a big smile, and disappeared-and appeared on the rooftop with Wander. "Man, lucky Cannonade called when he did," he commented as he took her hand for the teleport out. He'd studied ahead for once and memorized where everyone was likely to be posted. "I wasn't sure how much of that I could-" and disappeared with Wander, the two of them reappearing outside the club where Midnight and La Renarde Bleue had been posted. "take. That lady needs a bingo game, and maybe to get out to Freedomfest or something. Ride's here!" he called out loud. 


When they were all together, or rather when he was pretty sure even the sneaky ones were together, they vanished en masse and reappeared on the rooftop next to Cannonade .

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The moment they descended to the steps of the Super Museum, Wander drew her bat and looked around for any sign of the monster. "It must still be inside," she surmised aloud. "Probably in one of the bigger galleries. This place has a ton of skylights, some of us should go to the roof and try to catch a glimpse of it, and the rest go in through the ground level and head for the Nazi stuff. If someone is trying to steal artifacts, the monster thing is probably a distraction from whatever's going on elsewhere." She looked to Midnight, knowing full well that she was not the tactician of the group. 

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--You think everyone talks to much,-- Midnight reminded Renarde with the telepathic equivalent of a faint smile. For all Eve's protests, the dark haired detective thought it was good for her to get out and be what passed for social in their circles. It tended to be easier to encourage that in someone else than force oneself to do it, which was one of the ways the odd pair looked out for each other.

Once Edge had teleported them to the rooftop, Midnight nodded at Wander's suggestion. "Sound. Renarde and I have reconnaissance." If there was something big and mean acting as a distraction, the team's heavy hitters could not only put it down quickly but avoid tipping their hand by holding back.

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"Got it," Cannonade said. "I'll take the big problem."

He leapt to the rooftop, taking the atriums to try to find the point of origin. Soon enough, the problem became clear. There was a gigantic T. rex rampaging through the main hall. It wasn't snapping at anyone - yet - but it did seem extremely confused and agitated, swiping at statues and exhibits with its gigantic tail. It raised its head high, as if crying out in defiance, and roared.

"Well. Knew it was gonna be dinosaurs sooner or later."

As the League's heavy hitters dealt with the dinosaur, Midnight and La Renarde Bleu took advantage of the distraction and worked their way through the halls of the Super Museum, tracing back where the T. rex must have come from. Sure enough, the voices of two people, both thick with brogues, who hadn't panicked echoed through one of the now empty rooms.

"You sure this is it?"

"I've parked my arse on it for centuries. I'm pretty sure it's mine."

"'Pretty sure' ain't good enough. Be sure."

The two men came into line of sight soon enough - tall, about 6 feet each, well-muscled, one with red hair, one with black. Both men had pointed ears, and a slight cast to their face that seemed otherworldly. But what was more worthy of attention was the fact that they were both clad in green Nazi uniforms...

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Edge looked down into the skylight, saw the rampaging skeleton, and nodded. "All right, people, we've been training for this! We can handle a rogue dinosaur, even if it is a skeleton! My advice is, go for the vital bones! The ones holding up the legs! We can deal with the teeth on our own time. Remember like in the movie, they have a big head, but very little arms!" And indeed they had been training for dinosaurs, thanks to Erin and Joe's experience dealing with dinosaur invaders from another dimension and Trevor's ability to plan for just about anything. Mark didn't know how Eve was vis-a-vis fighting skeleton monsters from the Cretaceous, but he was supremely confident that the agile psychic would come up with something useful. 


Turning to Wander, he tucked in to make grabbing him easier. "Let's do this!" 

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"It's just a big rack of bones. Hopefully they've got a list of how the pieces go together somewhere." Snagging Mark around the waist from behind, Wander broke a single square panel on the edge of the atrium (the easiest kind to replace) and dropped into the exhibit hall. She bent her knees and absorbed the landing, then deposited Mark on his feet and raced towards the dinosaur. This wasn't the sort of fight that needed a lot of cleverness or acrobatic finesse, just enough raw power and speed to take it down without getting a bite from those skeletal teeth. Heeding Mark's advice, she sped between the huge skeleton's legs and drove her bat into the back of one knee, then the other, a flurry of blows that left the thing staggering. 

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Wondering briefly if his lack of hesitation at the unlikely thieves meant he was becoming jaded, Midnight made a silent, courtly gesture in Renarde's direction. --Shall we?-- The sweeping movement released a wave of light devouring mist in its wake, a cloud that quickly rolled throughout the room and over the verdant fascists. "The only surety is your end," a cold, gravelly voice echoed throughout the abrupt darkness an instant before an escrima stick collided with the jaw of the first elfin Nazi in a brutal upward blow that left him stumbling away from his partner and reeling.

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The Nazi reeled as Midnight's stick cracked him across the jaw, stepping back as blood dripped down his chin. He wheeled his gaze around to meet the hero, his eyes alight - with fear or fury, it was hard to tell. "Oh, lad," he said in an Irish brogue thick as cream, "you've got no idea how many pathetic bastards have said that over the centuries. They always end up disappointed."


This was not Cannonade's first time dealing with dinosaurs. At least this one didn't seem to be a Nazi.

The great lizard was already dazed by the flurry of blows from Wander, swaying across the main hall of the museum like it was drunk. He leapt forward, trying to take advantage of the gap in its defenses. He drove his fist into the beast's knee, then latched on and began to apply his weight. "Visiting hours are over," he said. "Think it's time you took a nap."

The beast proved stronger, however; with an idle kick, it shook Cannonade off, putting him somewhere between the creature and the wall. And as far as he could tell, his blow hadn't done much to the thing's knees. Great. Think it's gonna take a bigger hammer. Or a meteor...

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--After you,-- the vulpine masked heroine telepathically murmured, slipping into the room in the wake of Midnight's mist.  The Blue Fox focused her mental senses on her immediate proximity; she easily picked out Trevor's familiar mind--she'd never have difficulty finding that particular mental safe harbor--and was able to sense the other strange intellects.  One was close to Midnight, and from the sound of things it got cracked pretty hard.
"Oh, lad," he said in an Irish brogue thick as cream, "you've got no idea how many pathetic bastards have said that over the centuries. They always end up disappointed."
--They talk too much too,-- the psychic observed as she moved to engage the second, moving quickly and quietly, though her last few steps were strangely audible.  Vaulting over the Leprechaun, La Renarde Bleue struck at him from an unanticipated angle, slashed through him with a faint glowing blade of mental energy.
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The blade cut right through the uniformed fairy, causing him to convulse and shake as if someone had plugged him into the mains. Once he stopped trembling, he looked upon the Blue Fox with anger. "Been a while since I've been hit with a glamour like that," he said, his voice frosted over. "Let's see if you can take 'em like you can deal 'em out, lass."


Back in the main hall, the T. Rex roared, charging forward towards the heroes. As it got closer, the scales on the magnificent beast seemed to ripple, like a lake surface struck by a falling rock. It seemed like the behemoth wasn't a real dinosaur, but something trying to keep up the form. It charged for Wander, wrapping its mighty jaws around her.

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"C'mon, team," Edge exulted. "We can take these guys!" He looked up at the T-Rex and suddenly said, "Hey, wait a minute! You're some kind of _fake dinosaur!_ That is the worst!" He clapped his hands together. "Here I thought you were some kind of cool animated skeleton, but you're just some shapeshifting jerk, you big faker! Okay, guys, new plan - hit him where it hurts, organic being style! I bet he's got something soft and squishy tucked away under there after all!" Mark made good his words by joining in the fight, snapping his finger as somehow the T-Rex stumbled backwards and smashed its head into a support pillar, leaving it knocked silly for a moment as it forced itself back to its feet. He wasn't sure what everyone else on the team was doing, but he was sure it had to be vital. "Yeah, I bet you've got a brain in there somewhere, and soon we'll punch you right in it!" he added to the shapeshifted brute. 

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"Wait, it's not a dinosaur?" Wander was already in midleap when Edge made his pronoucement, and was startled enough by it that she flattened out too early, skipping off the dinosaur's back like a flat stone and bouncing away, She saved herself by catching the rail that surrounded the open balcony on the second floor and flipping upright once more. To an observer, it might even have looked like she meant to do that, rather than an embarrassing mistake. She shook herself off and glared at the skeletal beast. "It looks a hell of a lot like a dinosaur," she observed. "If it's not a dinosaur, what is it? And what has it got to do with the Nazis, anyway?" 

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Midnight responded to the boastful brogue by lashing out again from the darkness, driving both of his escrima sticks hard into the leprechaun's solar plexus. The Nazi uniform wearing creature simply shrugged off the blow, which would have been enough to take a human out of the fight entirely. Slipping back into the concealing mist blanketing the room, he thought to Eve, --Agreed. Tough hide, though. A psionic blade might solve both issues.-- Through their link the telepath could tell the black clad vigilante had cleared the way for her attack.

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"Well, if it's a shapeshifter," said Cannonade, "there always one reliable way to get those kinda guys to turn back." With that, he pushed off the ground, taking to the air and driving his fist into the scaly chin of the gigantic dinosaur. The behemoth lumbered under the blow, its head shaking back and forth and slamming against the walls of the main hall. In an attempt to minimize the property damage, Cannonade latched onto the beast's lip, climbed atop its head, and tried to wrestle for control. 


"Watch where you're stepping," he said. "You don't wanna... break something valuable and get... stuck with the bill --" 


The jaws snapped open suddenly, breaking Cannonade's grasp. "Really?" 

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La Renarde Bleue chuckled, a half smile forming behind her vulpine mask.
"You have to catch me first."
It wasn't a taunt, just a simple statement of fact.  Her next few attacks where mere probes of her foes defenses, just keeping him occupied while she considered what he said.  Glamour, huh?  Eve thought to herself.  That's what Etain uses.  I guess these guys share the same point of reference.
The telepath abruptly abandoned her assault on the leprechaun in front of her, drifting off to one side and then rushing past in a powerful telekinesis assisted leap to land next to his compatriot, where she combined her efforts with Midnight's.  Again her telepathic blade slashed through flesh, overloading the nervous system and triggering psychosomatic injury as her will briefly dominated her opponent's.
--Update,-- she mentally projected to the Leaguers.  --Two inside; pointed ears, Nazi uniforms, referred to my psychic projections as glamour.  Think illusions but with more substance, heroine Changeling uses the stuff, thinking they have similar point of reference.--
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The contact with one of the Nazis sent him reeling back as Sage's thought plunged into his brain like an icepick. He struggled to stay afoot, blood red as wine flowing from his nose. "That's one hell of a bite, lass," he said. "But I've taken worse." 


"And we've dealt out worse." His partner in crime came at Sage with a haymaker - plenty of power, but definitely clumsy. She was able to easily duck under the blow and maintain her poise. 




Cannonade, meanwhile, ducked around the clawed feet of the T. rex, trying to get some sort of advantage, when Sage's missive touched on his hindbrain. --Greaaaaaaat. Only thing worse than Nazis is really weird Nazis. Pointy ears, huh? Did the Reich take over the North Pole when we weren't looking?--

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With the dinosaur down, Edge ran forward enough to take in the whole scene - or as much as he could given the stealthy nature of his teammates. "Okay, fairy Nazis is a little weird, I'll grant you!" he called to the others, his voice projected through Eve's telepathy to whoever his powerful voice couldn't reach. He climbed up on a plaster display that showed life inside a prehistoric cave, rising above the scene even as his voice rose out to reach everybody. 


He understood Eve's message about what the bad guys were, at least a little - Changeling had always seemed a little uncomfortable around him when they were teaming up, but he knew enough to understand fairies. or thought he did, anyway, and that was probably good enough. "But we're the Liberty League, we fight weird implausible stuff all the time! Remember the radioactive cockroaches on Venus in the future? That makes these guys look like just a bunch of St. Patty's Day hooligans who decided to play dressup with Uncle Hans' clothes! Let's show them what we think of Nazis from another dimension in Freedom City!" 

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"Well, illusion or not, Nazi fairies or not, we've still got to get rid of it." Erin blew out a breath of frustration and faced down the lizard again. The tyrannosaurus was obviously considerably the worse for wear, bruised and weaving on its massive legs, but it still wasn't down. Getting hung up like this on the distraction was not a good thing to have happen in a fight like this. Who knew what they were missing?


"Edge, Cannonade," she called, even as she dropped off the edge of the balcony like a swimmer off the high dive. "Go back up the other team, they've got the real bad guys. I'll finish up here." She dropped onto the dinosaur's thick scaly neck, delivering a punishing flurry of blows that it could not block with its ridiculous short arms. 

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--Meant to ask, how is that going?-- Midnight conversationally asked Renarde privately over their psychic link as he stepped abruptly out of the concealing midnight mist jab the butt of an escrima stick into the base of injured leprechaun's skull. The stick's twin quickly followed with a body blow to the side, the combination causing the bizarre thug to crumple awkwardly to the museum floor. --Still living at the hotel?-- Outwardly the shadowy vigilante gave no indication of the telepathic conversation, circling around to the remaining Nazi.

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