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The Happiest Place on Earth [IC]

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Somewhere just off of State Route 4, 7:00 p.m.

Maxwell Decker was donning his uniform as he exited his trailer onto the fairgrounds. As his employees expected, he immediately found fault in everything around him. "What is all this?" he shouted to the scrambling carnies. "We don't have time for you loons to be slacking off! Kick it into overdrive! We need to be open before dusk, you schmucks!" Still pulling his cliched red-and-white jacket on (something that he didn't particular care for, but patrons seemed to expect), he marched down the midway barking orders to anyone he met. "Logan, those friers better already be hot! Nobody's going to have time to wait around while you twiddle your thumbs! Hey! I can still see the dang animal cages by the tent! Wolfgang, get over there and give them a hand setting the siding up! Has anyone seen Derringer?"

"Over here, Boss," called a stick-thin young man with a long, thick beard dressed in cowboy garb.

"Ah, there you are. You made sure everything I asked you to do is ready?"

"Yes, sir." The young man faced a wall while Maxwell talked to him. He quick-drew a revolver from a holster on his hip, replaced it, and continued to repeated the process without any variation.

"Eh, ease up on that, boy. Save it for the act. Don't want you getting carpal tunnel or something during the show. Oh, and Fabula was looking for you earlier. Said to meet her in her tent. I wouldn't keep her waiting."

With that, Derringer holstered his sidearm one more time, nodded to his boss, and made his way to the rear of the carnival grounds.

Maxwell shook his head and began climbing a ladder leading up above the carnival entrance. "Yeesh. Always was a quiet bugger." When he reached the top of the ladder, he crouched behind a facade above the entryway and carnival sign, flipping some switches that turned on several lights around the front of the fair and started a track of calliope music which carried for a mile or more in each direction. With the full show going, he stood up and looked down on the crowd that had already gathered in front of the entrance. It was a good crowd, larger than all but a few that he'd seen before, exactly what he was hoping for from Freedom City. Tonight was going to be a good night.

"Ladies and gentlemen! And, of course, boys and girls!" he bellowed over the music, not bothering with a bullhorn or microphone. "Thank you for coming out to visit us tonight! Here in half an hour, it will be my personal pleasure to welcome you to the greatest spectacle on earth, in town for one night only! Circuuuuus Maximuuuuuus!"


While Maxwell was giving his speech, Derringer had ducked into a purple-and-gold tent adorned with a sign reading "Fabula the Fabulous, Psychic Extraordinaire." Quite a bit larger than most other tents, as was necessary for the performer, the interior gave plenty of room for both Derringer and his partner to stand and talk.

"Everything is prepared?" Fabula asked, as she stared into the mirror at the very back of the tent, primping her costume.

"Exactly the way you told me to," he answered. "It's gonna be another smooth night. No muss, no fuss."

"I should hope so." Fabula turned around to face Derringer. "If things go as well as we hope, with all the traffic Freedom City should bring, we could be set for life after tonight. You're certain you didn't miss anything?"

"Totally. You have my word."

"Good. Because if anything were to trip us up tonight, instead I'll have your head, as they say."



Freedom City, Midtown, at the same time

Halfway across the city, a man in a black suit was sitting at an outdoor table at a small cafe. Deputy Inspector McMahon, from the Freedom City Police Department, held a full mug of coffee with one hand as he slowly scrolled down a web page with the other. The page in question was an article on the Daily Word's website about Circus Maximus coming to Freedom this evening. His expression only became more and more stern and focused as he reviewed the page repeatedly. He knew that somebody at this carnival was bad news, a suspicion he'd confirmed with several other members of the force, but had no proof and no leads to follow. Thus the reason he was out here this evening. He'd attempted to get in contact with a few local heroes in hopes of scoping out the fair, and all he could do now was hope somebody showed.

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There was a part of her that said at nearly 21 Nicki Dee was too old for place’s like this but there was a very vocal part of her that said she had some fun now and again, even in a lame place like the Fairground. Of cause it wasn’t many people that could have their alter ego stand in front of them and complain about not having enough fun.

In the end it was determined by her brother, well his doctors at least, Dwayne Dee aka Camera Obscura. After months of treatment he was starting to show some reaction to outside stimuli and the doctor suggested that it might be good for him to get among people.


And though she hated to admit it Nicki was starting to enjoy the whole thing, especially as she left Merge at home so to speak.

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Elias didn't like carnivals.  Well, really Elias didn't like much of anything.  He was a dour little man, or a wet blanket (a metaphor that still confused the psychic even after Subito's explanation).  Still when Mali was all smiles and wanted to cajole him (read: offered to pay for food and such) he really didn't have the ability to refuse her.  Plus he had heard a whisper somewhere about the real reason the Circus was in town, not that he volunteered that he knew something might be up, or where he found out.


 So he had urged Mali to go with him somewhere else a cafe in Midtown.  Though this was most assuredly not a date.  Why people felt the urge to reiterate that as frequently as they did was confusing to him (he agreed with Shakeapeare).  As were clowns, clowns were very confusing.  But he was going to look into this, and he'd owe Mali to go out to a proper dinner later, but then their friendship was predicated on just how dedicated (others might say obsessive) they could be, so she would understand.  Hopefully.

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Why am I not surprised the deputy inspector knew how to contact me right away?

Sam's old job's definitely earned her the reputation. That it has the cops relying on her now is... weird. Still, heroing's the new job. And it's a fun gig.

Fortunately, no one questioned her when she walked right in. Obviously, tweaking everyone around her's minds so that they didn't notice her had nothing at all to do with it. Though affecting so many minds is heating up her brand faster than she's used to; she slips off her jacket and ties it around her waist, so she doesn't set it alight.

So, she sets about wandering about the carnival, taking in the sights. What's the game, here? Soul-devouring clowns? Evil hypnotist? The animals are actually an invading alien army?

Hm... Where to investigate first?

The little thief decides she should inspect some of the cuisine. For any potential nefariousness, of course.

So, she slips by the pretzel stand and knicks a nice, big, salty pretzel unnoticed, and begins to eat. Hm... that first bite didn't seem to have any detectable evil, but it would be best to inspect the rest of it, just in case.

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Mali chuckled to herself. Elias was too serious for his own good sometimes. She had a certain affection for the guy, and felt almost obligated to help him enjoy things more. Life was too short and too harsh not to find fun wherever you could find it.


Of course, if there -were- sinister goings on, well, that was a different kind of fun. Punching bad guys, helping people. Felt good, felt like she was making a difference.


Though all that fattening food was going to require some serious training. She eyed some funnel cakes and sighed. She'd pay for indulging, but there was no point in trying to help Elias have fun if she wouldn't do so herself.


"Do you like sweets?" She asked

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Elias' attention was never, generally, focused on the immediacy.  Though Mali had picked up that it just seemed that way.  His attention was spread thin.  Still he heard the offer of her food, and he shrugged a little bit.  "It is useful for high caloric intake.  I don't eat it most of the time."  Which was true, at least as far as Mali knew.  


Truthfully Elias knew how harsh life could be, though it wasn't a topic he broached with Mali, unlike he had with others at Claremont.  And part of his aloof demeanor was pretty clear, if he didn't control himself, then his emotions tended to leak out.

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