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November 17, 2013 

Port Regal 

Providence Asylum 

Dotted with cheerful statuary of frolicking cherubs, its rose-and-sandstone facade visible from miles away, the warmly lit and well-tended Providence Asylum looks like nothing more than a giant strawberry wedding cake - it's an excellent place for Freedom City's mentally ill to recuperate from the challenges of their disease - what kind of person puts an insane asylum in some Gothic hellhole, anyway?


Between Claremont training, patrolling, and the occasional help with a mass breakout, the heroes Wraith, Crimson Tiger, Blodeuwedd, and the second Foreshadow were all familiar indeed with the building and its contents - which made a summons to the rooftop for a meeting with the ever-mysterious Raven all the more intriguing! The night was dark, and cold, but dry for Freedom City in the fall, with a crisp bite in the air to mark the cool weather to come. Though security at the Asylum was famously tight, making breakouts almost impossible, sure enough (just as promised in the message conveyed to them by the Dark Detective's agents) it seemed particularly light tonight - there were gaps in the spotlight coverage and the cunningly concealed electric fence was actually deactivated, thus making it possible for a canny foursome to make their way not just to the building but to the very angel-dotted rooftop at its summit!

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A small part of Blodeuwedd was a little disappointed that there entry had been made so easy she would have like to have liked the challenge of trying to break into the Asylum grown. The more sensible side of her brain reason however that if the various inmate couldn’t escape someone with even her skills would struggle.

Still there was still the challenge of the climb which whilst not the most challenging, those were reserved for the glass and steel skyscraper of Downtown, was a nice test of her free climbing skills.


Once at the roof, almost out of habit, Blodeuwedd she found a secluded shadowy spot to hide and await the arrival of the rest of the hero that had been summoned tonight.

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It wasn't often that an acquaintance of his adoptive father's called him out for a meeting.  In fact it was pretty rare for Erick to find an acquaintance of David's that didn't want the man dead.  Interpersonal relations were left seriously by the wayside when you decide to keep everyone at an arm's length.  A fact that aided in Erick's decision to attend the rooftop meeting.  He just couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet someone who might have at some point maintained speaking terms with David other than himself for any period of time.

The cool air was refreshing and the costumed acrobat couldn't help but admire the view after scaling the building. Sure the beautiful scenery served to drive home the point as to why the director was often criticized with being too soft to run the asylum.  An unfair assessment as on any other night the incredibly tight security helped to quell those doubts.  A contrast that made the leisurely stroll to the roof all the more enjoyable.  Stretching his arms out, Foreshadow began looking around the area for any sign of the others or their reputable host of the evening.

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Not that she'd considered it realistic, but some part of Wraith had been hoping that there would be a decent population of the asylum's patients on the grounds; she'd found that they made excellent stealth practice. They had human-level senses but often didn't act like humans normally did, which made them difficult to predict and fantastic for keeping her on her toes...whether or not she actually happened to have toes at the time.

Even then, she almost would have preferred if the security hadn't had such large holes - as it was it didn't take her long to snake between the spotlights and poke her three-eyed, silver head over the edge of the roof like some kind of over-sized metal gecko. "I apologize if I'm late," she hummed, clawed body flipping up into a handstand as forearms turned into more humanoid legs and an entirely new head grew out of what used to be a tail. "I was unable to set out as early as I would have liked."

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The Raven. Mali snaked through the security with practiced ease. The Raven. One of the, if not the, scariest, most badass and most awesome super heroes in the world. She kept out of sight, grateful for the lax security. It might have made a better challenge if it weren't obviously reduced, but she assumed the Raven would want her to be there in a timely manner.


She calmed down, it wouldn't do to fangirl all over her while she was trying to explain whatever big, awesome thing she wanted her to help do.

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"On the contrary, Wraith, you're right on time." The Raven didn't so much emerge from the shadows as she seemed to appear in them, perched above the shadowy figure of an eagle bearing children on its back as if she'd been born there. The Raven's costume had changed from what few pictures of her the heroes had seen; thickened like armor over the chest and back, with faintly visible blue piping to match her glowing blue eyes along the flanks of the costume itself - but she was nonetheless the dark champion of justice who had been watching Freedom City since before the heroes on the rooftop with her had been born. "I called you here because I need your services - an acrobat, a shapeshifter, a master of muay thai, and an artist with the blade." - she had seen the Welsh ninja, then, for all that not so much as a glance had gone Blod's way. Or had she? 


"For the last six months," she went on, cocking her head like some predatory bird as she watched them all, "a team of my operatives has been infiltrating the Circut Maximus, trying to put an end to meta-fighting in Freedom City before any more kids get killed jacked up on zoom and crystal meth trying to be the next Sir Razor." She shook her head. "But my team has had...complications, and at the worst possible time. I need someone to go in as their replacements for the main event on Thanksgiving weekend. Word has it this is a "Venation" - a Beast Hunt. That means they've captured _something_, tied it down, and they're going to send people in to beat it to death on international black broadcast. If we can catch them in the act, the League can swoop in and arrest them all right there. That's dozens of thugs and low-level metas, hundreds of scumbag guests, and maybe the Roman himself. But to do that...I need people on the ground. I need people in the ring."  

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Wraith bristled - literally, a series of spikes rippling up her torso in a fairly universal display of restrained aggression. "That is not a hunt," she insisted, features twisting into a scowl...or, at least, as much as they could without a mouth. "That is a prolonged execution. I do not mean to say that children dying from zoom and crystal meth is not worse," she quickly amended, glancing around at the others, "but it is...what is the phrase? Adding insult to injury?"

She shook her head, flexing a three-clawed hand that gleamed in the night's light. "I would be happy to help however I am needed."

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Foreshadow watched Wraith for a moment.  The claws made him pretty sure that he absolutely did not want to find what that one's definition of a hunt amounted to either.  Contemplating the odd reaction for a moment longer he'd parse his lips before adding his own input.  "Sounds like one way to wind down from the holiday festivities.  Even if we don't get all the metas and sycophants who pay for this kind of experience in one go,  the league should at least be able to free whatever it is they've caught for slaughter.  A chance to stop teen stupidity and thrill seeking is just the cherry on top.  If they want to pound on one another save it for legal organized competition."


To Erick was beyond disturbing that Roman's group had an exact word for their murder ritual broadcast.  Even worse that it was most likely just a marketing means to promote the illegal fight circuit and thereby drawing in more idiots to get in over their heads.  Outwardly the former gymnast was a bit more relaxed about the whole affair stretching arms out and letting out a yawn.  "Anyways, I'm in too.  A sting operation inside of a cage surrounded by people that would love to see us all dead if they had any idea as to our identities.  Sounds like a fun way to kill the weekend."

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Blodeuwedd couldn’t be completely sure if Raven knew exactly where she was or if she was working on where the Raven herself would have chosen to conceal herself. Raven wasn’t someone to underestimate and she was one of the few human’s she struggled to read her body language.

Blodeuwedd stepped from the shadow tipping back her hood slightly so the lens of her goggles glowed green in the darkness.


“You have my assistance in whatever way you need, we can’t allow this to continue any longer. What do you have in mind?â€

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"I'm honored to help." Mali said as she nodded. "This, this isn't just fighting. This is wrong, and I'll do what I can to help. I'm going to need a different costume, since the right people could figure out exactly who I am if they looked hard enough."


She knew Blod, and Wraith. She'd fought beside the both of them several times. Wraith was one of the most dangerous combatants she'd ever seen. Shifting and twisting, completely unpredictable. Blodeuwedd was also quite skilled, someone even she, with her training, would have a hard time seeing if she didn't want to be seen.


She did not know Foreshadow, not in person. She knew him by reputation, or at least his predecessor. A skilled combatant and acrobat.


Two people she knew and fought beside, and a third with a solid reputation. She'd gone into worse situations with worse help.

Edited by Thunder King
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Raven raised her arm and fired a whirling Ravenrang into the concrete between the heroes, a black cylinder poking up from the side of the projectile not buried in stone. "Inside you'll find the directions to an abandoned warehouse in Greenbank, one owned by a...friend of the family. Go there and train together, learn each others' moves, and adopt a new secret identity. Your team is called "the Birds of Prey", so find nom de guerres and personal styles that match; half the supervillains on Earth are undiagnosed obsessive-compulsives who won't believe in a team that doesn't match. They'll come for you on the night of the 27th to move you to the arena. All we know about that is that's somewhere near Freedom City, but outside the city limits. Stay together, and watch for our signal once you're inside the arena. We'll take this scum down." She looked right at Blod, or seemed to anyway, a measure of her working with the heroine in the past. 


It was a serious, tense moment as the heroes contemplated their situation - Suddenly, as if signaled, a large black bird emerged from the mouth of a nearby statue and gave an avian SCREAM of anger at having its sleep interrupted. As the bird flew away, the heroes looked around and realized that Raven was gone...

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Mali headed to the Ravenrang and scoped out the directions. It was pretty easy for her to determine the location. Her own patrols through the city had given her a pretty good idea as to the layout of the city. She also felt confident that a new identity would be able to disguise her. Especially if she avoided using some signature Muay Thai stuff like knees and elbows.


"I'll meet you guys there." She said with a nod to the other heroes. "But if any of you need a ride, I'll be standing by my motorcycle not that far from here. I'll wait like, ten minutes before taking off. I won't be able to take more than one other person though."

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Foreshadow was impressed with the disappearing act.  He wasn't sure if the bird was just commitment to her whole theme or a light joke on the veteran's part due in part to the team's name.  Actually, he wasn't even sure if Raven was the type to crack a joke.  Making his way to the Ravenrang much like Mali, Foreshadow made sure to memorize the directions.  Turning towards the heroine whom based on appearances Raven had obviously dubbed a master of Muay Thai he'd flash a smile before responding to the offer.  "Thanks, but as for me I'll pass.  Any other time I'd hop aboard.  But it's such a good night.  I'd much rather fly for a bit.  I'll see you all at the warehouse I guess."  


Foreshadow's right hand found its way quickly to his utility belt reaching for the grapnel gun sitting on his side.  Upon drawing it he would immediately raise it into the air.  Of course he wasn't about to fire it blindly taking the moment to scout out where to aim before immediately taking a leap of faith off the angel dotted rooftop.  Foreshadow didn't know exactly what to expect from the warehouse itself.  But one thing was certain.  He wasn't going to wear an outfit with feathers.  A beaked cowl or an emblem was alright.  But feathers were a definite line in the sand place for him.

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"Hmm. I will have to look up pictures of birds," Wraith noted, one of her hands briefly rippling into an approximation of a bird's talons. "I shall meet you all at the warehouse once I have done so; I thank you for the offer, but I believe I can make my way faster across the rooftops and alleys on foot."

She bowed, body dissolving back into something quadrupedal and built low to the ground, disappearing back over the edge of the building the way she's come. It wouldn't be the first time she'd infiltrated a shady gathering in disguise, but it would be an interesting challenge to do so while retaining as many of her unique abilities as possible. Birds probably weren't known for their shapeshifting, but with a little research she was sure she could come up with something....

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As with the rest of them Blodeuwedd made sure to memorize the details of where they would be meeting up, and like the rest of them she had thing’s to do before she could go to the warehouse.

“I’ll take that lift if you could Crimson Tiger.†it seemed strange not to use her real name, but she didn’t know how much the other two knew about them.

“There are a few things I need to collect first, and I need to contact someone before we go into hiding.â€


After the year she and her friend’s had gone through, all of them had been kidnapped at least one, they were all a little sensitive to any of them disappearing for any length of time. Beside she wasn’t looking forward to that much time away from Subito.

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The titular warehouse wasn't very prepossessing on the outside - the metal roof was rusted in places and the masonry exterior was old and dirty, with only a giant inflatable Santa Claus on the roof looking down at the heroes like an omen. But inside conditions were much better - someone had gone through and fixed this place up pretty heavily. Most of the warehouse space itself had been converted to a big practice room large enough for multiple superheroes to compete against - there was everything from a giant monkey bars set to a series of rattan sword targets, with enough space for all of them to practice together simultaneously. There were bedrooms with cots enough for all of them and even a well-stocked kitchen, which had alongside its Thai food, Welsh potatoes and bacon, and black coffee, a selection of what turned out to be rare earth and mineral samples for the alien member of the group. 


A short, cryptic note was waiting for them, stuck to the fridge by a Freedom League Heroes Super Bowl XXXI magnet. 


See you on the big day. -R. 

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After helping Blod get where she needed to go, Crimson Tiger arrived at the warehouse and let herself in. She looked around. The facilities were solid. Definitely useful to her purposes. She thought about her allies and what she knew about them.


Wraith was the oddity. Not human, and didn't fight like one either. She was very flexible and adaptable without losing an iota of power. That was definitely an asset, especially when she couldn't be sure what kind of opponents they'd end up fighting.


Blodeuwedd was someone she could trust as well. Someone she'd fought beside. Blod was as good with her sword as Mali was with her fists, and just as dangerous in a fight. Blod had the advantage of her magical gear  Blod had the added advantage of being even more agile and stealthy than herself. A major asset.


She didn't know Foreshadow, but she knew fighters. Foreshadow had a lean, muscular frame and a sense of easy grace about him.  She imagined his fighting style was something quick and light. Something that would let him weave in and out of combat.


She was impressed, but that was obvious; this was the Raven. She of all people would know her stuff.

Edited by Thunder King
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Foreshadow arrived at the warehouse.  Having made sure to send a text message that amounted to 'won't be home for the holidays, will take a blood test or the like to prove I'm not a robot or something when I'm home.'  After David was replaced by a robot duplicate Erick updated the family security measures one had to take upon an extended leave of absence.  Besides if he was going to be spilling blood on the streets every so often leaving it in a syringe wasn't that big of a deal.


The sight of the motorcycle wasn't surprising, after all Erick expected himself to be the last to arrive.  Admittedly he was a bit unsure of what to expect going into this.  If the Raven of all people was vouching for them then of course he didn't have to worry about if they could accomplish the feat.  Not that he would have worried about something he wouldn't allow to occur like failure.  But it was an exorbitant amount of time to spend masked in close confines with strangers assuming they others didn't already know each other.   


Making his way inside Foreshadow gave a soft whistle of recognition.  Of course Erick was used to finer comforts.  But after the shoddy exterior this was quite a pleasant twist.  "So I'm guessing i'm not the only one who doesn't extend the phrase secret identity to the buildings I occupy."

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"It is a well-disguised location," Wraith agreed, limbless body extending down from one of the ceiling beams like an over-sized drop of water that refused to fall. Her eyes turned to look around their new, short-term training space - literally turned, the sharp-eyed might notice; rather than move her body, the creature's three almond-shaped black voids appeared to simply slide around the outside of her surface to take in all the sights.

Those eyes blinked as they caught sight of the decidedly non-standard foodstuffs available in the kitchen. She finally let go of the beam, body pulling back together into a vague but humanoid shape as she walked over to pick one up and inspect it. "The Raven has done a great deal of research. I am not entirely certain whether to thank her or be concerned, but at least I do not have to worry if I become hurt while training. That will make things easier."

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Mali nodded. "I think we should pair off and trade notes at first. Get an idea for what one another can do. I figure you and I can start off, Foreshadow. I've worked with the other two a couple of times before, and I don't know if they've ever worked together. We keep pairing off and chatting until we get a good sense, then we start training."


"What does everyone think?"

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Foreshadow's attention was still trying to get a read on the shapeshifter's movements that he almost didn't hear the suggestion.  His mouth almost parted to ask about the little taste of geology going on in the kitchen, but decided against it as Mali's suggestion allowed him to refocus.  Soon folding his arms, Foreshadow found himself nodding along in agreement.  "Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.  Do you have a set time frame in mind for how long you want each partner session to last?  I'd find it efficient if we have some sort of set training schedule to adhere to for this.  Setting up the new costumes and identities to match the theme might take a minute or two afterwards.  Well for some of us."

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Blodeuwedd had entered the warehouse unobserved, as was her habit, as the other three had been discussing what their plans would be. She had made the relevant phone calls and packed a bag with all her necessary equipment.

“It rather depends on what type of arena fighting this is all about? If it’s a pure blood sport then it will be all about quick rapid takedown, and rather brutal at that. Whilst if it truer to the original gladiatorial game it would be more about showy moves and longer games. A little like modern wrestling.â€

Blodeuwedd looked around the warehouse that would be there home for a bit she was impressed how thorough Raven was in planning in all this.


“I wouldn’t be surprised if Raven has left us some cliff notes about what we’re getting ourselves into.â€

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The heroes got their instructional video on their second day of training, a low-quality image that looked to be a phone-shot video of a broadcast on somebody's big screen TV. It showed four people in vaguely Greco-Roman dress, engaged in vigorous melee combat in a multi-tiered, scenery-heavy arena against a roaring half-man, half-bear that towered at least twelve feet tall. The giant man-bear was nude, save for the big metal collar around his neck, and was a formidable foe - knocking one of the combatants down and bending low to bite through bone with a sickening crunch - the pause gave another of the gladiators time to drive their blade through its head and kill it, but it was still a grim scene. Between the morbidly upbeat announcer and the interstitial clips with fighter interviews and stats, it was pretty clear this was an experienced, practiced operation - a real multimedia enterprise of murder and crime. 


Not actually Agrius. DNAscendent clone. Big monsters, fast kills. Collars have a control effect. Hope you've been practicing. See you soon. -R. 


In his room, Foreshadow II found that nobody had bothered to empty the trashcan in his attached bathroom - like any good detective, he caught sight of the positive home pregnancy test sitting on top of the pile. 

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There are four occupants cohabitating this temporary residence.  Three of which are female, well at least I'm sure two are.  And yet the one who runs into the awkward belongings of the previous team...  Yup, didn't have to be able to see the future to see something like this coming.  In spite of his reservation with the new bit of light shed on the circumstances Raven's previous team's complications, Erick's inquisitive side found himself a bit drawn into the mystery.


Although it might supersede them.  Could even be Raven's.  Is she even seeing someone?  Couldn't even imagine actually maintaining a marriage in this life.  Dating's hard enough and it's hard to separate her as a symbol and a person.  Wonder if her and David ever had a thing between them?  It took Erick a moment to actually gather his thoughts away from trying to figure out the possibly heroic maternity mystery.  "Wait.  I'm getting off track here.  Solving this will be a fun way to spend the free time and all, but apparently I have some cleaning to do first."


Reaching for the trash bag Foreshadow sealed the container and promptly pulled it out pee stick and all.  Turning afterwards to head out of the bathroom so that he could get rid of the gossip material.  Even if Foreshadow was going to invasively try and pierce together answers for his queries, he still had the common decency not to air dirty laundry.

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"It is obscene," Wraith noted. She'd neither flinched nor turned away at crunching bone and sword thrust, but every second of the video appeared to make her angrier and more offended. "They are not equipped to fight such a creature, and it is given no freedom or dignity. In the wild, perhaps, or if it presented a real danger, but this is...I do not have words for this. I look forward to helping shut it down."

That at least brought her attention back to her arm, which she'd been spending the last half-hour shaping and re-shaping into something akin to a long, muscled wing of steel feathers and thick talons - no good for flight, of course, but hopefully intimidating. "A good disguise will be a challenge. I could pass for a robot, perhaps, or someone affected by...what is the word? Nanites?"

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