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Between Freedom City University and various technology companies, the North End was well populated with coffee shops, cafes and bistros suited for relaxing between projects or last minute crunch time before a deadline. Few of them were strangers to eccentric clientele or outlandish fashions but the pair who had commandeered a table on the patio of the Hasbean Cafe surely pushed the limits.

"How long dost thou intend to sit here?" Sekhmet sighed, eyelids barely open as she stretched under the summer sun with one toned arm resting behind her asymmetrical haircut. Wariness of her companion only just outweighed the goddess' urge to doze off, a feline instinct made more insistent in a form that actually required sleep.

The smaller figure across from her was in no danger of sleep as he drummed the fingers of one hand rapidly along the table with tapping away at his smartphone with the other. "Why would we leave!" Set exclaimed, bouncing enough in his seat to tip his stylish sunglasses upward briefly and jostle his brick red dreadlocks. "Such delightful establishments are the very home of coolness, Sekhmet! We must soak up its trendy essence!" He punctuated the claim with an animated gesture at the rest of the patrons on the patio, most of whom were studiously focusing their attention on laptops and coffee cups. "Do you realize their wireless internets are entirely complementary?! Such an era of prosperous excess! And these charmingly tiny espresso beverages! Magnificent! You must try one, I've had three!"

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Summer was here at last, and Eliza was mostly happy for it. The new season brought with it a change in the courts of spirits - the spirits of growth had shaken off the spring cobwebs and were now going at full strength, and spirits of rising heat were trying to influence the winds. And right in front of her, a spirit of vigor was practically doing jumping jacks in its seat.

"This place is great! Get a lot of work here!" The spirit she was talking to was roughly man-shaped, in that the motes of energy that made up its form were colliding with one another in the rough aura of a human. And it seemed to be taking all its effort to maintain that rough orbit. "Lots of people! All trying to throw off sleep! Sleep bad! Waking good!"

Eliza couldn't very well talk to what everyone else saw as an empty chair. She had enough trouble. She instead slid her cell phone in front of the spirit, with a text message reading, "Any observations?"

"Lots! Oh, lots! Water spirits really like it here, there were 143 people who came in yesterday, I saw a squirrel that looked kinda suspicious..."

Well, there had been worse informants. Eliza decided to keep her ears open to see if the spirit dropped anything important. In the meantime, she kept her eyes forward and tried to focus on her blended ice coffee, using her powers to keep it from losing out to the heat.

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Today found Elias riding his bike through a part of the city he had yet to go to, the North End.  The reason for this was twofold
 
The first was just simple exploration.  Connected as he was to the minds and the world around him, this helped.  It was a bit of acclimation therapy, as he adjusted his senses to not just the crush of people that he had largely been shielded from, but also a city itself.  There was something here that was diffent, and he couldn't define it.  That much eluded him, so he tried to work it out, to find it.
 
The second was a bit more concrete.  Elias wanted a job.  Mostly as it would help fulfill his empty hours, when he wasn't playing catch up for his summer coursework.  But it would also shut up some people, like Subito, who said he needed to socialize more.  Not that he disagreed with them, he just had a different hierarchy of needs at this juncture.  If it would stop the pressure then it was worth it in Elias' estimation.
 
So riding a beat-up BMX he had gotten at a second hand store, he swept through the neighborhood, asking around at any place he could for a dishwasher job.  Not that he really expected it in this neighborhood, but in this case the effort was more important than the immediate success.
Edited by TheAbsurdist

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Thaelia's latest excursion North of the Wading River had included a healthy amount of window shopping. The technological advancements of the surface world never ceased to amaze her. It was as if the surface dwellers were artificially creating magic. "Yes but what does this contraption do?" The muscular teen's eyes squinting as her lips parted to understand the purpose of the smart phone in her hand. Trying her hardest not to break it with her impressive grip.

 

A question that would soon elicit a groan from a now frustrated saleswoman.  Having run down the explanation on smart phones at three times to no avail.  It was quickly becoming apparent that that the dark haired teen would be pushing the envelope on just how much patience accompanied the customer always being right. It would no doubt be of little comfort to know that thus far this had been the most successful line of questioning Thaelia had encountered during a shopping excursion.

Of course the girl was far from lacking intelligence as her grades would attest. But having never used a phone personally, Thaelia was perhaps the last person who needed to hear the long list of possible applications the device could run as a selling point.

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The summer heat was enough to take the edge off most urgency as everyone from the common to the extraordinary went about their business at a languid pace. The lazy quality of the day was abruptly shattered by an explosion at one of the university's off-site laboratories, about a block away from the campus proper. The blast was large enough to rattle patio furniture and jostle shop shelves in a wide radius while dark smoke rose up into a growing cloud.

"Dammit, Khania!" A man in a light coloured summer suit that had probably been impeccable before he'd been caught too close to the explosion staggered a few steps out of the lab building and onto the street. Shouts of alarm arose from the gathering crowd as he lowed a hand from one eye to reveal nearly a third of his tanned, chiseled features completely missing, revealing a metallic skull.
"What happened to subtle?!"

In response, a woman of striking and obviously alien beauty flew through the smoke to float above a nearby lamppost. "Bah! The blame cannot be placing on me, Blackfire!" she insisted in a haughty, imperious tone, brushing aside voluminous, raven hair that trailed to her ankles with an emerald hand. "The guardsman was, how do you say, taking too long!"

"How the hell else would you say that?!" Blackfire groaned in palpable frustration, ripping off the tattered remains of a shirt sleeve and the skin beneath it from his arm and tossing it to the ground.

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Thaelia's ears ring after the sound of the explosion traveled through the air.  Caught by surprise her controlled grip tightened and the screen on the miniature phone began to crack.  If nothing else, her studies at Claremont had made her more cognizant about her strength which was the only saving grace the device in her palm found.  Quickly putting the phone away the Atlantean reached for a bundle of paper currency she had in her boots, thrusting it over to the saleswoman.  Taking in a deep breath she quickly spat out the first English phrase she had ever bothered to learn, "Send all questions and inquiries to the Atlantean Embassy!"

With haste the demigoddess burst through the door promptly exiting the store. Her attention focused solely on tracking down the source of such a massive commotion. Explosions in her limited experience were hardly a good sign. Sprinting towards the billowing smoke in the distance the Glamazon began to form an all too familiar smile. Excited at the prospect of running headlong into a potentially dangerous situation.

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It said a lot that Eliza's reaction to explosions at this point was to run towards them, not away from them. But before she could do that, she had to get into costume. She took a look back towards the bathroom - the faucets on the sink had been busted as of late, and water would come out in a slow trickle. She could command it out of the sink, but that would likely make a hideous mess of the plumbing. There was one certain source of water in there, but she really did not want to use it. 

 

Fortunately, she found her answer three blocks down. As often happened during a hot summer's day, some enterprising young child had cracked open a fire hydrant in an effort to create their own urban water park. It was fresh enough that the utilities had yet to shut it off, and the water was shooting into the air like a geyser. With some quick gestures of control, the water flew through the air, towards her. She ducked into a nearby alley, so that she'd have some cover when peoples' eyes naturally tracked the flight. It fell on to her quickly and, with a snap of her fingers, flash-froze into light mail and an elegant mask. 

 

Got the garb. She strode out of the alley, ready to meet the bad guys. Now it's time to go to work. 

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Elias felt the explosion scatter across several of his senses, fear, and panic filling the air, as the force of the shockwave hit his web.  It was a little disorientating, as he jerked on the bike to force it to slide across the asphalt and run into the front of the car.  That hurt, it was annoying.  But it was the only way he could stop, and then head towards an alley.  It was all not optimal, but he had something akin to his costume ready.  Though he still had to duck into the alley , and behind a dumpster as he felt what was happening more than able to see or hear it.  So he caught sight of them, and committed to memory, but now, he had to work out a plan, and hope he wasn't alone, and that the time he was taking here wouldn't cost someone else.

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"Eh?! Tis the call to adventure, oh Lady of Slaughter!" Set exclaimed as the sounds of the explosion rippled through the area, leaping to his feet with enough force to knock his chair to the patio floor as he slapped a hand excitedly against the table. "Let us make haste, haha!" With that the shirtless godling was off and sprinting down the street, espresso in one hand and smart phone in the other, leaving the taller goddess to sputter an objection that turned halfway through into a resigned growl. With feline grace Sekhmet rose and quickly caught up with her charge as they headed for the tower of smoke rising above the rooftops.

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Of the young heroes making ready, Glamazon was first to arrive on the scene as another figure emerged from the ragged hole in the wall. Clad in a swooping black ensemble that must have been sweltering in the summer heat, the figure sprung off of broken brick to land acrobatically on the sidewalk, broad brimmed hat and white, painted mask staying perfectly in place. "Mitigate your misgivings and moderate mollification, my mechanical mate!" he cried with distinct Irish lilt and obvious glee at the surrounding destruction. "The critical component is captured!" Under one arm he carried what looked like what was left of a robotic skull, heavily damaged and dented but recognizable. With his other hand he pulled something small and round from his cloak and tossed back into the building. A second later another explosion sounded behind him, followed by the creak of something load-bearing straining painfully and loud laughter from the bomber himself.

"Be careful with that, Fawkes," Blackfire grated through metal teeth with false white enamel flaking away. "Even following Heka's plan, with this much noise it's not going to be long before we see-- oh, bloody fantastic." The irritated cyborg spotted the armored Atlantean rounding the corner with a look of resignation coupled with the satisfaction of finding an appropriate target for his frustrations. "Khania, take down muscle girl before she can cause trouble."

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Temperance saw the crooks mobilize; they weren't fleeing, not immediately, but were instead grouping together. They knew they were about to meet interference, and planned to meet it in turn. This group looked like they were experienced in this line of work - your usual smash and grab crew didn't deploy high explosives so recklessly. Still, it might be worth it to demonstrate a show of force without bringing it crashing down on anyone's head. She looked back to the busted hydrant, still spewing water...

 

"Pardon me." 

 

By the time the Fearsome Five were in auditory range of Temperance, she had a wall of water backing her up. It floated just a few feet off the ground, but she'd managed to craft it to look like a crashing tidal wave, for that extra bit of kick. 

 

"You might want to quit while you're ahead." 

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The appearance of a second hero was enough to push even the petulant Khania into action. The green hued alien princess sped into the air above the streets lampposts and sneered at the statuesque bruiser Blackfire had directed her toward. "Eugh, the battle coverings on this primitive mudball, my eyes burn with their hideousness!" With a taunting laugh, twin beams of vivid purple energy lanced from each of her eyes, raking across the Atlantean's armor with sizzling power.

Her metallic companion, however, was taking the rapid appearance of superpowered samaritans more seriously. Grimacing, he took a step back from Temperance's show of elemental mastery and jabbed two fingers at one ear, clearly activating some sort of communication device. "Dammit! No! Not this time! Heka, we're attracting do-gooders like flies here! Round up Diehard's psychotic ass and get over here! I don't care what the plan was!" Spinning about, he grabbed at the small white sedan parked next to him, metal framework giving way under robotic finger as he heaved the vehicle over his head with ease and prepared to use it as an improvised projectile. "Just back off, girl! The Fearsome Five aren't going out like chumps today! Never again!"

Behind him the smoldering university lab creaked again, the remains of the roof visibly shuddering and from somewhere deep within rang a scream of pain and terror!

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Thaelia looked upwards towards the green skinned Alien just in time to catch sight of the energy directing its way towards her body.  The Atlantean braced herself against the impact before skidding across the ground.  Having to force herself up, the Glamazon would glare towards her attacker.  "What is the expression?  Green with envy I believe.  How unbecoming."  Truthfully she didn't take insult with the barbs towards her attire.  Even less insult taken by the unwarranted assault.  The Atlantean royal was, however, aggravated by the fact that the haughty princess dared to insult her in the first place.
 
Leaping into the air Thaelia would cross a prodigious distance due in part to the strength of her muscular legs making sure her voice carried.  "But of course the coward dancing in the sky does not have the heart brazen enough to exchange with the Glamazon.  Hiding out in the sky, will you not come take your proper beating?" Her complete lack of subterfuge made ever apparent as she shouted through the sky with obvious intent.  Fighting an aerial bound opponent was far from advantageous, spurring Thaelia to try and make the alien give up the higher ground.  The Atlantean's eyes darting towards the roof of the lab as she came back down to ground level, the screaming drawing in her attention.

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"This is not an expression I have been hearing," Khania snapped back as the arc of he flight took her around to the leaping warrior's side, bursts of energy from her eyebeams harrying Glamazon's movement. "It is stupid! You are also stupid, yes?" Despite obviously seeing through the poor attempt at a ruse, the muscles in the alien's cheek twitched in irritation at the insult. "On my glorious homeworld even small children know enough to fly. It is a wonder your kind can open doors unassisted."

Nearby, Guy Fawkes was demonstrating either iron will or a seriously unhinged mind by flipping acrobatically toward Temperance and her poised wave. "Ha! Your warning won't ward off my whetted wrath, watery woman!" he babbled in a rapid-fire staccato, bounding about the street. Just as he used a mailbox as a stepping stone into the air, one of his hands blurred in motion, whipping a long, lean knife from somewhere within the folds of his cloak and flinging it like a six inch dart at Temperance's face!

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Errant dashed out, timed just enough to see Guy Fawkes throw a knife at Temperance, so he simply reached out to try and slow or halt the man by scrambling his senses.  Whatever the reason, he could not grasp at the villains thoughts enough to wrangle them about into the desired effect.  So he dropped low, coming to rest in a crouch in the car that was nearest to the mouth of the alley.  As much as he wanted to chide himself for his failure, he instead focused on what to next, while trying to give himself some cover, and then set about getting a lay of the situation.

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At nearly the same instant the masked telepath appeared on the scene in his Claremont blue-and-golds, a black robed figure appeared from hiding behind a billboard down the street, the folds of his outfit flapping in the wind as he flew toward the growing chaos. The bronze skin of his shaved head came into view along with a contemptuous scowl of supreme irritation. A massive hand of translucent blue energies floated along beside him, palm upward to carry a second figure along for the ride. Wearing a red jumpsuit with a single black stripe down its length, the second man was soon deposited onto the street, where he assumed a ready pose marred by the vibration of someone physically unable to stand still.
 
"Weeks of planning, Blackfire!" Heka exclaimed with an accusatory tone, floating above the battlefield imperiously. "Ruined by you cretins in mere moments. Typical." With a melodramatic gesture the sorcerer launched the mystical hand, emptied of its passenger, across the street in a grasping claw. The glowing magics passed through the car behind which Errant had crouched as if there was nothing there but the gigantic fingers closed around the hero in training like iron vices, dragging him off of his feet and into the air. "Now the so-called modern age will see the true might of--!"

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"Tis my line, oh polished pool ball!" a laughing voice cried out, interrupting Heka's boast. Hoping onto the hood of the car Errant had been dragged away from, Set flashed a grin of perfect teeth and took a last sip from his paper cup before tossing it into a nearby garbage can and planting the freed hand on his hip. "Ah, hello, my frosted desert spring!" he called to Temperance, waving energetically. "Teaching more second-rate magisters the error of their ways? A good showing, haha! The leprous metal man disagrees, mayhaps?"

The wave turned with a flick of the wrist into an arcane gesture of his own and in response the shadows cast by the sedan lifted over Blackfire's head abruptly writhed to life. Inky black tentacles erupted forth, twining about the android and tightening into a suffocating snare that completely covered him. "Sonova--mmh...!" he managed before the car toppled from his grip and landed with a crash, headlights first, on the sidewalk.

Shadowy tendrils attempted to grasp the nearby Guy Fawkes as well but it seemed his erratic movements were just as good as evading magic as his erratic thoughts were at overcoming a telepathic attack. "Aie! An additional ageless arcane adept? Absolutely absurd, hahaha!"

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"I figured it was either this or take up needlepoint," Temperance said, temporarily letting the flirtation slide. She figured that, of all the guff she could be receiving from a god, the ladies' man act was somewhere on the lighter end of the scale. She instead focused on the band of bad guys. They definitely weren't an organized unit - then again, neither was her little flash mob. But at least her group had the good sense not to loudly advertise who was the master tactician...

 

"Have to say, Set, you've got something going there." A large portion of the crashing wave behind her broke off, flying towards Heka. It washed around him like a horizontal tidal wave, wrapping him in a near-sarcophagus of water - and then, in a flash, it froze solid, rooting the ancient sorcerer to the ground. 

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As Temperance's geyser froze around an indignant Heka in an icy column, another face familiar to the young woman arrived on the scene looking characteristically annoyed. Taller even than Thaelia, Sekhmet stopped to irritably flick the tawny streak in her jet black hair from her smoldering, golden eye. "My duty is arduous enough without thy flighty ways, deceiver," she snarled at Set, taking stock of the ongoing battle. "Tt. Still, if Temperance has arrayed herself against these villains, tis justice to be meted out!"

With a fully leonine roar, the goddess kicked off of the pavement, form rippling midair so that she landed not as an uncommonly attired young woman but as a powerfully muscled lioness. The beast charged forward, pouncing at the knife wielding Guy Fawkes. By the nearest of margins, her claws and fangs missed their mark, instead ripping parallel lines in his black cloak as he bounded away.

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The gymnastic arsonist came to a brief stop nearby his red clad ally. Diehard's eyes, wide enough that they practically seemed to be trying to escape their sockets, flicked from person to person, his shoulders rising and falling with heavy breaths. Without warning, he let out a mad shout and tore across the street, the musculature of a peak athlete propelling him forward! "Nnnaaaaargh!" Leaping onto the overturned car Blackfire had dropped, he continued his arc to place a brutal flying kick directly into Glamazon's sternum while her attention was on Khania.

Temporarily freed up, the alien princess quickly turned her gaze on the more outspoken of the latest arrivals, staying in the air but flying closer to Set. "Do not be wasting your time with the little girl who is all washed up, yes? All flattery is to be directed here!" she purred, brushing her voluminous hair backward with both hands.

"You are beauteous indeed, oh otherworldly emerald," the godling agreed with a dramatic bow from the waist, "but I fear we would be poor influences on each other. Besides, you mangle the modern vernacular even worse tha- yaiee!" His verbal jab was cut short as twin beams of energy sprang from Khania's eyes and caught him across his bare chest, the force of the blast knocking him off of his feet and crashing into the building behind him with a pained groan.

The shadows holding Blackfire in place shuddered as their master was attacked and a moment later cracked with a sound like shattered glass, revealing an incensed android. Though still struggling against the remaining ribbons of ebony darkness constraining his movements, he was free to move about again. "I am sick of you damn kids tossing me in damn holes! Who wants some?!"

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Slipping into her native dialect Glamazon would begin to whisper under her breath, <Such an infuriating eyesore!>  The Atlantean teen was outright fuming.  Just as her retaliatory response towards the skyward diva began to form the verbal jab cut short.  The Glamazon was struck dead center in her sternum by Diehard's fearsome kick.  The blow sent Glamazon spiraling into a parked SUV.  Her body smashing against it's metallic frame leaving it to take the brunt of the damage.  Struggling to pull herself off the automobile an pained groan could be heard as she struggled to recover her bearings.  

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Backing away from the growling lioness, Fawkes tucked into a tumbling roll that brought him around to scoop up his thrown dagger and then behind a parked car. Using the ample distractions of the ongoing battle royale, the mask wearing demolition man managed to double back into the welcoming shadows of a nearby alleyway, quickly slipping out of view. Unfortunately for him the scent of sweat under a black cloak in summer heat still hung in the air, more than enough for Sekhmet to corner him once more, leaping about the concrete jungle as easily as savannah plains.

 

Meanwhile, the phantom hand pinning Errant's arms to his sides and holding him in the air had begun to waver as soon as Temperance's attack had taken hold of Heka. As the young telepath continued to struggle, the digits finally disappeared in a great, rolling puff of thin blue smoke as is someone had suddenly blown on a pile of sawdust. Free once more, he dropped back down to the street nearby a discombobulated Set just in time to hear the roof of the university lab give way, one side falling inward at a steep angle while shouts of alarm continued from within!

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He drew in a sharp breath, trying not to cry out at that phantom hand wrapped him up, only to have it dissipate within moments, leaving him standing in a different place, and he was drawing a breath, his head snapping to the sounds of screaming... and...  He'd swear, if he knew anything good, so instead he turned to move.  Unlike his parents, he couldn't shut people out, he couldn't separate himself from others, from the screaming, the pain, the fear.

 

Errant's senses went raw with the arc of pain from Glamazon, and the telepath twisted about to level his gaze to her, and he reached out to the flying villaness providing airborne firepower, and he grasped at her senses and he rewired them, painting the world around her in a new light. His focus spread out it wasn't as effective, but ideally it would be enough to give them an edge over her, as he inflicted her with synesthetia.

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Khania let out a cry of confusion tinged with outrage, weaving about in the sky as she fought through Errant's attack. Her alien mind was slick under the telepath's grasp, nearly slipping away from him and preventing him from taking the princess out of the fight entirely. Even so, her unsteady hovering suggested she was no longer operating at full capacity and it was becoming clear that the heroes needed every advantage they could muster.
 
If any doubt as to that remained, it evaporated a moment later as Heka's eyes flared with arcane power from within his icy bonds. Turning as transparent as the ice itself, he slid back out and into the open air as if passing through a cloud, his entire body taking on the same phantom quality as the giant hand that had gripped Errant. "You shall rue that indignity, water witch!" he snarled, raising a fist and clenching so hard the popping of knuckles was audible. You shall-- hold. I... She Who Mauls? The Lord of Sepermeru? What blasphemy is this...?!"

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"Ra's glorious buttock, apparently looks can kill," Set muttered, holding his scorched pectorals as he forced himself back to his feet with more effort than he would have liked to admit. "Hoo! Sepermeru. That takes me back. Frontier town! Cowboys of the desert, haha! Tsk. You know, I have not had this body long; I'd prefer to keep it in one piece!" Dusting himself off and squaring his shoulders, the godling have Errant a gesture of gratitude as Khania was temporarily kept from attacking again. "My earnest thanks, oh silent sheik! Now for some thrilling heroics, yes?"

With that Set abruptly slid away into the shadow of the car he'd been perched upon, sinking into the darkness as though it were a pool of water. He reappeared out of view of the battle, underneath a fallen support beam in the laboratory itself, smoke filling the room and crackling flames generating a heat that would have been life threatening to any ordinary mortal. Indeed Set's storm cloud grey eyes pierced the smog to spot a pair of people in lab coats, an older woman with greying hair and thick glasses and a younger man, presumably a student at the university with disheveled blond locks.

The former was crouched near the latter, who had a leg pinned under more of the collapsed laboratory, shouting for assistance. A quick step around a falling ceiling tile brought Set next to them with a reassuring smile. "I admire your dedication to scholarly pursuits, citizens, but school be perhaps out for the day, yes? Haha!" Placing a hand on each of their shoulders, he pulled them both along with him into another shadow, coming back out in the darkened alleyway across the street.

"Charles needs medical attention," the professor noted as soon as she'd regained her bearings, taking the unconventional method of extraction in stride even as the younger man was attempting to stutter out a disbelieving question. "And you mustn't allow those thugs to escape with that sample! It's from one of those alien, infiltrator automatons, who knows what they might plan for it!"

Her warning coincided with Guy Fawkes seeking a hiding place in the same alleyway, quickly placing him between Set and Sekhmet in her leonine form, poised to pounce from atop a car. "Never fear, oh honored pedagogue! You are under the protection of Set, Prince of the Desert Winds, ever a friend to academia and an enemy to jumping men in silly masks! Follow me on the feed of tweeting!"

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