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Reclaiming the Land (IC)


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Robert Moses State Park

Massena, Upstate New York

Friday, November 22, 2013

10:24 AM


Cold winds whipped across the waters of the St. Lawrence river, the major waterway that formed part of the international boundary between Ontario, Canada and New York State in the United States, before traversing through Ontario and Quebec before opening into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.  Massena was one of the many towns that lay along the New York side of the river, just before the point where the river continued northeast into Quebec. 


Located along the St. Lawrence Seaway, a pair of locks were located near the town, Massena was a logical location for a number of manufacturing and industrial sites in the Twentieth Century.  But like many such towns in the past couple of decades, many of those business had closed up and moved away, though there were still a few such plants in the town.


Located to the north of the town were a number of larger islands out in the river, much of which were covered by Robert Moses State Park, which contained thick wooded areas and wetlands, as well as beaches, boating areas, as well as a wide variety of other recreational areas.  Given the current cold temperatures that were hovering only a little above freezing, the park was understandably less than crowded.


Out on the eastern end of the inner island on which the park sat, a group of white vans pulled into the nearly empty Hawkins Point visitor's center parking lot.  After the vans came to a halt, the driver’s side door of the lead van opened and out stepped a man in his early fifties with dark grey hair, who stretched slightly before looking over at the other occupants of the van who were also exiting.  The man was Professor Walter Morris from Freedom City University, who was part of the environmental sciences department.  Inside the two vans were just over twenty students from FCU, Freedom College, as well as a couple of community colleges and even a couple of high schools in Freedom City that were involved in environmental studies courses at their schools, all of whom had signed up for this little trip to study the ecosystems in the wetlands and forested areas of the park.


"Okay everyone."  He called out to the students exiting the two vans as he pulled on a pair of warm gloves.  "I know it has been a long drive, but we have about an hour and a half until lunch time, so we don't want to waste it."



Alexander Cross made his way along one of the trails through the woodland areas that dotted Hawkins Point in Robert Moses State Park.  Having recently found himself in a time rather removed from the one in which he had retired from several decades service as a locomotive engineer.  He had been able to resettle himself somewhat, finding work as a night guard at the Museum of Science and Industry in Freedom City.   


When a chance to take a bit of vacation time had come up, Alexander had decided to revisit the area along the St. Lawrence river, recalling how more than three decades ago he taken trains along the river, delivering and picking up loads from the various industries that had sprung up, before carrying them further into the American heartland. 


Things had certainly changed in the intervening years.  Many of the industries were gone, the towns clearly suffering from the loss of jobs.  Most of the railways in the area were all but completely abandoned, over grown with weeds and other plants and generally not being utilized any longer. 

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Alex sighed contentedly as he strolled along the forest trail, not as bothered by the Cold as a man of his age should've been; he'd left his long coat open and loose to flap behind him in the breeze as he went. Occasionally he'd spot a landmark or some sign of the old rail-works and loose himself in the memories of ear splitting whistles and Blazing heat  same brisk air Blowing through his hair as his engine hurtled along the rails with all the purpose and speed in the world.


I miss that feeling, the feeling of knowing who you are, What you're doing and where you're going. he confessed to himself. I miss my trains.


Feeling parched and slightly dizzy he begins to make his way towards the nearest picnic area to sit down and drink the bottle of water he'd bought from the visitor center pulling his coat around him and doing up the buttons as he goes.

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Daphne had spent the entire journey with her face pressed against the window watching in fascination as the world rolled by at speed. Everything seemed so bright and colorful compared to the images she watched on the screens as she had journeyed to Earth.

I’m glad you’ve wrapped up warmly against the cold it’s below 10oC.

She had done her research as to what was suitable to wear in such situations and was sensibly wearing a large padded jacket with a faux collar a large multi-colored scarf and and and oversized knitted hat. Even though she wasn’t actually bothered by the cold in the slightest.


Mother Unit I grew up in deep space where temperature’s was -270oC, this is not really cold.

Still it’s important that you look after you health.

As the van pulled to a halt at there destination she snached up her backpack containing Mother Unit, along with an unfeasible amount of suitable study materials and bounced out of the vehicle. She was the first out of the vehicle and spun around admiring the view around her, arms held out wide.

“It’s this just wonderful? What an amazing place we’ve been brought to.â€

At least the level of atmospheric pollution has decreased.


It seemed many of the student’s were even less impressed with the place than Mother Unit, just staring blankly at her over-abundant enthusiasm.

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Giang Trang climbed out of one of the two white vans, a cold breeze blowing her long black hair slightly.  The Asian teen was dressed in a pair of dark jeans, a soft red sweater and a warm jacket, although she was actually not bothered by the cold at all. 


As was often the case, her expression was calm and serene as her dark eyes swept over the natural beauty of the nearby sections of the park and river, before focusing back on Professor Morris.  She smiled slightly at the enthusiasm of one of the other students.


Adjusting her small backpack over one shoulder, in which she had a couple of books and some note pads, Giang moved over towards the professor as most of the other students began gathering around.

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"I am glad you like it…umm, Daphne wasn't it?"  Replied Professor Morris as the rest of the students gathered around.  Once everyone was assembled, the professor got out some maps of the park that he passed out, pointing out some key areas for them to focus on as they made their way through the section of the park.


"Right then, lets divide into three groups to start."  He said as he turned and directed the division of the students.  Once the groups were selected, they each started off towards different sections of Hawkins Point.


Giang and Daphne ended up in the same group, along with four other students, three from FCU and one from Freedom College. 


As the six students started down a trial towards a section of wetlands near a picnic area, one of the FCU students, a dark haired young man with a bit of dark stubble on his face, turned towards Daphne.  "So you go to Burrough’s right?"  He asked.

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Alex takes a moment to look around the picnic area as he sits; producing from his coats deep left pocket a small bottle of still water and a conductors cap wrapped around an bag containing chopped apple segments in a seal-able freezer bag, using it as a a bowl of sorts he places his drink within it to keep the wind from wreaking mischief with it.


Tipping the wedges out into the hat he caught himself almost tossing the bag aside, managing to lunge after it and grasp a corner as the wind made to whisk it out of his reach. "Whoops....Old habits I guess." he rumbles,talking to no-one or thing in particular as he scrunches the plastic in his hand and stuffs it into his pocket again; A slight twinge of guilt visible on his face as his mind races back to one of the museums exhibits on the environment and his hand in the pollution of this area decades ago.


picking out a thicker apple slice he crunches it somberly as he mulls his mixed thoughts and feelings about this place and the times, lost in his own little world.

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Daphne beamed a large friendly smile at the Professor. She resisted the urge to hug the man, it seemed that some human’s found such things a little off putting.

“That right sir Daphne, Daphne Celeste. “

She listened intently as he then went on to explain the purpose of today’s visit to the park. It took all her effort to stand still and take all this in, she was just so excited by the whole experience. When the teams were assigned she waited to see how the other student’s behaved on meeting each other. She had made some embarrassing mistake on her first day at Burroughs.


“Well I’ve only just started there recently, I’ve just moved to the city from a long way away. But it’s just the best, I’ve already learned so much in just my short time there.†her voice was a mixture and sincerity and excitement. There wasn’t a trace of irony in her words.

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"I'm Brad, and this is Nathan and Molly."  He replied, indicating the two other students from FCU, both of whom gave her a small smile and wave in greeting.  Brad then turned to the other two members of the group, starting with Giang next.  "And you go to Claremont Academy right?"


"That is correct."  Giang replied.  "My name is Giang Trang, and it is very nice to meet you all."  She replied with a slight formality to her voice. 


"Isn't Claremont a really selective private school?"  As the other young woman in the group, the one who attended Freedom College.  She had short brown hair and was dressed rather casually, though warmly.  "I'm Cathy by the way."



As Alexander was finishing his small snack, he saw a group of six young people approaching the picnic area on one of the trails from the visitor's center.  There were four young women and two young men, and though it was a bit hard for him to really judge, he believed they ranged from their late teens to early twenties in age.

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Catching a glimpse of figures in motion in the corner of his eye; Alexander quickly snaps out of his ponderous stupor, he takes a moment to look across there faces before calling out, half expecting to be ignored and not quite sure what he was doing.


"Well, Hello there; What brings you youngsters to this neck of the woods?" he asks in the process of pulling his bright red neckerchief from his inside pocket and dabbing away any droplets of water that might be upon his mustache from his drink. "Come to see the old rail works?" he ventures as he gets a grip on the rim of his hat, pinching its cap between his left thumb and forefinger and flipping it right side up with a twist of his wrist.

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Daphne greeted each of them in turn with her normal enthusiasm still trying to take everything in at the same time. It was strange to have a whole world arranged around her in 360o vision when she had grown up with just an image in front of her. She resisted the urge to scan their mind to find out what they were thinking, she had discovered rather quickly that humans didn’t like there thoughts scanned. Luckily no one had figured out that it had been her who had the powers.

For the same reason she resisted the urge to scan this new man’s mind, even though he could be one of those “bad men†she knew about from this world broadcasts. That didn’t mean she feared him in the slightest.

“Were here to study Ecosystems of this park.†she held out her books in front of her as if to prove a point.


“But I’d love to see the rail works when we get a break. What is a rail work?†she asked with no hint of irony.

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"Yes, it is a small private school."  Giang replied to Cathy's question.  But before she could continue, or any of the other students could ask any further questions a man with greying hair and the slight signs of wrinkles on his face stepped forward and gave a friendly greeting before asking about why they were there.


Giang paused a moment to study the man, conflicted by two rather different feelings.  First, she had been raised to follow rather traditional Chinese values, such as respecting ones elders.  But she was also consistently reminding herself that there were a number of criminal organizations (which included some that were run by her father) based in Asia that were looking for chances to capture or kill her.  But as she looked at the man in front of the group, she believed it somewhat unlikely that he could be someone that was looking for her. 


However, during the time it had taken the Asian teen to reach that conclusion, one of the other students, the one who had introduced herself as Daphne, responded to the man’s greeting with some of the exuberance that she had exhibited during the drive up from Freedom City. 


Giang gave the man a small respectful bow as she added.  "I hope we are not disturbing you sir."  She added to Daphne's comments.

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Alexander decides to remain seated; This age was one filled with fear and paranoia, Simply rising to ones feet could be seen as an aggressive action; proceeding place his elbows on the tabletop and resting his chin on the backs of Interlocked fingers, regarding first the more Enthusiastic young lady with a a slight smile, visable only through the smallest movements of his mustache.


Its good to see someone so young with such spirit; I was worried it may have been stamped out by those wars.


"Well, My Young friend It was a little before your time but once there was a fairly busy train line in this part of the state; Long since gone silent now More than likely for the best; Might be the cause of some woe for the Eco-whatsit in this park today." with a slight chuckle he adds "I might have had a hand in it myself,  was a engineer back then." fixing his gaze on his hat he adds "this old cap is a memento from a friend; gave it me the day I retired; Oh and to answer your question the Rail Works is a place where  trains are kept, Built, Repaired and when the time comes Scrapped."


Pulling himself out of what he felt was the beginning off a inane babbling spree he shakes his head a little "its a long, Boring story really..." then turning to regard the more reserved of the two he quickly adds "And not at all Young lady; I'm sorry to have interrupted your work with my rambling."

Edited by Exaccus
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Daphne’s knowledge of train was a little limited most train she watched growing up were just used to transport people between scene’s. Except the little trains that had faces and talked, but she was a pretty sure that they weren’t real. She was hungry to learn more about these trains, well she was hungry to learn about everything but she could only focus on one thing at a time.

“Actually it all sound really quite exciting.†she moved to sit beside him before something struck her. She looked back at the rest of her study group.


“But I guess I better get back to our project. But I’d love to hear your stories later.†she spoke with an earnest sincerity.

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The other students had stopped as well as Alexander spoke to them, not quite as inquisitive as Daphne or as polite as Giang, but not openly rude or dismissive either.  "Well, while the trains likely did contribute some, the bigger problem around here was many of the factories and other industry, which caused heavily pollution and ecological damage with how they operated."  Stated Brad.  "But then, for all the damage caused by the railroads or factories and the like, they were a part of the process that led us to where we are today."


Molly gave a small nod as Daphne mentioned needing to get back to their project.  "Yeah, sorry sir, but we are a bit short for time right now.  Otherwise it would be interesting to hear some of your stories."

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Alex nods solemnly as he listens to the Lad that spoke up.


"Aah, Still I'm Sorry it; Its you young'uns who have to pay the price, living down the mistakes of us old codgers." His brow beginning to furrow slightly as this weighty idea sinks in.


Well there is no room too deny it now The verdict is clear from the mouth of babes no less.


Quickly hiding what he could of his expression  behind his interlocked fingers and putting on his cheeriest grandpa voice he swiftly makes to change the subject ."Well don't get into bother on my account." he smiles gently slightly "If you have time later and I'm still around feel free to ask me what you like, Ill answer to the best of my capabilities but it ain't worth a caning....or whatever it is they do now." Squeezing out a laugh he quickly disengages his fingers and gives a swift wave of farewell. "look after yourselves now."

Edited by Exaccus
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Giang was quite a few moments as Daphne continued to talk to the elderly gentleman and then a couple of the others joined in as well indicating that they were a bit pressed for time at the moment.  While she also would have found it interesting to hear some of what he could tell them about the railways that used to run through this area, the Asian teen knew they had a fair bit to try to do in what remained of the morning.


"Thank you sir."  She replied to his farewell, with another small bow.  "Please look after yourself as well."


The other students added their own farewells, if somewhat less formal and the group began moving on once more over towards the nearby wetlands and wooded area to begin their tasks.

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If there was one thing Daphne loved about actually being on Earth, rather than watching it on a screen, was actually meeting real people.

You must be careful there are some very bad people on this planet.

Well yes but I’d know remember we’re a telepath.

Hurmph, she actually made that sound in Daphne’s head, trust your Mother Unit on this one.

Daphne gave the older man a large smile and a final little wave as she turned away to rejoin her study group.


“Well wasn’t he nice? So where do we have to start on today’s project?â€

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"Yeah, he seemed alright."  Cathy replied to Daphne's comment about Alexander.  "But you never know when someone can be some weirdo."


"Hmm..."  Brad began as Daphne'' question about where they should start.  "How about half of us start with the wetlands here, and the other half go over to the woods just over there."  He said, indicating the two areas that were both near the picnic area they were currently leaving. 


"We can then switch.  That should easily take what time we have until lunch."


With everyone agreeable to Brad's suggestion, the students divide into two groups and begin their study of the ecosystems in this section of the park.  It had only been a short while after they had begun that the quite morning was disrupted by a loud echoing BOOM that seemed to come from somewhere across the water to the southeast. 


Looking in that direction, a column of black smoke could be seen rising up from a mile or so away, just to the east of Massena and in the direction of some of the few remaining manufacturing plants in the town...

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Alexander had dozed off at the bench, all to eager to regale people who would listen to tales of his old glory days he thought it best to stay where they left him last; twisting to get a better look at the plume of black smoke on the skyline he sighs, a little disappointed he'd not be able to spin his yarn.


The best laid plans of mice and men i figure.


Moving with the up most speed he is capable of he hurtles headlong towards the sight of the explosion, hastily donning his cowl as he goes; retaining his secret being but an after thought when lives were at risk. trying his hardest not to clip any trees as he rushes through the forrest.

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Wandering away from the little the rest of the student’s Daphne had taken it upon herself to study the frog’s living in the wetland in her own unique way, she had her head submerged in the water reading there little froggy minds. Even these small little brains were fascinating to her and she loved there color maybe she should try being green for a while?

That all changed when she heard the explosion she was instantly out of the water.

There seems to have been an accident nearby, I forbid you from assisting it may be...

Mother Unit was quitened by being stuffed into her backpack along with all her important notes. Then she altered herself to her natural red skinned form and shimmered to almost transparency before taking to the air and heading towards the source of the explosion.


If you’ve stopped sulking I need you to monitor the emergency channels. If they don’t know something is happening then you need to tell them. And fire up Birthing Unit in case we need her.

Edited by TiffanyKorta
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Giang had been over in the nearby wooded area with some of the others when the explosion had echoed across the water.  The Asian teen quickly scanned the far river bank, spotting the black column of smoke as she started moving slowly to one side, away from the others.  While not having extensive training in stealth, time spent with Cerys and Mail had certainly resulted in her picking up a few things.


"What was that?"  Cathy stated as she looked through the trees towards the shore before her mouth dropped open at the site of the thick black smoke.  "What do you think happened?"  She asked, and not getting a response, glanced over to find herself alone.  "Giang?"  She said in surprise, glancing around to see where the Asian teen might have gone.


Further in the woods and now out of sight, Giang had slipped off the outer layer of clothes that she had decided to wear over her costume.  Experience had taught her that one never knew when something might happen that required her to use her powers.  For several months the teen had worn the standard Claremont uniform as a costume, sometimes with the addition of a small mask.  Since returning from Summer break, she had opted for an individualized costume.


Her new costume was a full body suit of morphic molecules colored several shades of blue in a patter than seemed almost to flow and shimmer like water.  Stowing her clothes in her backpack, the teen hide it in some bushes near the edge of the water as she glanced across at the rising smoke.  Another faint explosion echoed over the water.  Putting a dark blue domino mask over her upper face, Giang dove into the rough waters of the St. Lawrence River, disappearing beneath the surface as she sliced through the water with ease, headed in the direction of the explosions. 

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Moving quickly away from the picnic area, Alexander was able to change himself into Ulysses as he went.  Because the location the smoke was coming from was on the opposite side of the canal, the only way he could get to the scene was by doubling back through the park to take the bridge back to the north of town.  Luckily he was quick enough to do so in a few short moments, turning to follow the banks of the river back towards the eastern edge of town towards where the smoke column was still rising in the air as a second explosion echoed in the air.


Passing some buildings along the north end of town, Ulysses saw a number of people had come out into the cold to try and get a glimpse of what was going on.  It was moments later that he began to draw closer to a large manufacturing plant located near the banks of the St. Lawrence River.



Elsewhere, Daphne, now operating as Miss Grue, was gliding through the air towards the scene, her progress somewhat slowed by the need to allow her blending camouflage to adapt and keep her concealed.  Having gained a bit of altitude while drawing closer towards the eastern edge of town, the young Grue saw a large building with several smokestacks rising up above it.  The column of black smoke was definitely coming from that building and there appeared to be some sort of commotion going on near it as a second muffled explosion echoed from ahead.

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As Ulysses drew near the fence surrounding the plant, he saw a corporate logo along a section of the fence which was a large yellow star with the company name, PanStar, written across the middle of the star.  The steam powered hero could hear shouts coming from the other side of the fence, though whether they were of panic or something else he could not tell.  There was also a couple of unusual sounds that he could not quite make out. 


But perhaps the thing that most quickly attracted his attention were two glowing figures hovering about twenty feet in the air near the plant.  Ulysses was close enough to make out that they were both female, with black hair and wearing what looked like gold colored costumes, one with a section of green on the left side of her costume, the other red on the right.  A faint green glow surrounded them both.  The one with the red in her costume sent a blast of red energy down towards the ground impacting somewhere behind the fence that Ulysses could not see, though he thought he heard the sound of brick being blow apart.


The young woman with the green aimed one hand towards the ground, sending what looked like wide, glowing yellow wall of energy down towards the ground, also disappearing out of Ulysses' line of sight.


The young woman that fired the red blast of energy then turned her head in the direction Ulysses was coming from and a moment later her companion did as well.



Up in the air, Miss Grue had a bit better view of what was going on down beside the plant.  In the yard next to the building, a number of people wearing yellow hard hats were running in apparent panic.  There was a large hole in the side of the building, from which came the black smoke that was rising up into the air.  The young Grue could see the two glowing female figures hovering in the air, and could also see that they appeared to be holding hands.


Down in the middle of the yard in front of the hole in the building was a third figure, also female, wearing a red costume with some gold highlights.  She had short black hair and there was something odd about her that Miss Grue could not quite make out from this distance. 


Two men dressed in some sort of red uniform were down on the ground as well, aiming what looked like pistols at the woman standing on the ground.  Both weapons fired a beam of energy, one missing the target the other hitting, but appearing to have little or no effect.


One of the hovering young women sent a blast of red energy down towards the side of the plant, blasting away a bit more of the wall.  The other sent a wide section of yellow glowing energy down at the two men in the red uniforms.  The "wall" of yellow energy struck both men, knocking them off their feet and pushing them several dozen yards away.


The woman standing on the ground raised her arms upward, as sections of concrete around her ripped up from the ground, hovering in the air a few feet up for a moment before they went hurtling across the yard to smash into the side of a truck parked to one side, crushing the vehicle and flipping it over on its side.


Miss Grue saw first one, then the other of the two hovering women look off to the west, where the young heroine spotted a figure running along the ground at incredible speeds towards the fence surrounding facility.

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The hovering woman with the green in her costume turned back to focus on the scene in the plant's yard down below her.  With the two men in red uniforms appearing to be unconscious, she focused her attention on a small truck parked near the plant.  Holding up her free hand, she created a large glowing yellow sphere of energy which she then allowed to drop down onto the vehicle.  The impact crushed the top of the truck in and as the fuel tank ruptured, there was a loud explosion before more black smoke began to rise into the air.


The other flying woman keeps her attention focused on the rapidly approaching figure from the west.  Her free hand comes up as she sends a bolt of red energy at the fleet figure.  But her aim was well off, as the blast flew over Ulysses head, impacting into the ground a few dozen yards behind him with a loud explosions as bits of cement and dirt are flow up from the crater created by the blast.


The third figure on the ground in the yard turns back to regard the large hole in the side of the plant.  She raises her arms to either side of her as large chucks of pavement are torn up on either side of her, hovering in the air for a moment before she throws her arms forward and the chunks of pavement a flung forward, passing through the hole in the side of the building, impacting somewhere beyond with several loud crashes and the sounds of twisting metal.

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Ulysses slows for a moment and jogs backwards as passes through the streets "best get inside folks; Don't know what sorta nasty gunk might be airborne now and a quick thrill ain't worth your well-being." he bellows as loudly as he can in the general direction of the congregation and allowing himself a moment to see if people heeded his advice before turning back around and resuming to move at his top speed.


scanning the plant on the horizon as he approaches he takes note of the two floating women he found himself somewhat unnerved by the prospect of fighting them for a moment before his mind flew back to a time when he was young; Born a whole two years after suffrage had been granted to women it was still very much the talk of the age, he'd heard of it from his mother and father as close to from the same sheet of music as could be. Noble; strong women had fought and suffered to be treated as equally under the laws prosecution as its protection. He would have to deal with the knot in his chest, swallow his chivalry? chauvinism?,he dared not assume either, To respect the sanctity of these women's choice to be criminals and treat them as such or if they would try to hide behind there own petticoats; the honor of noble people who had come before.

he was snapped back to reality by the palpable pricking and intense glow of the red blast as it soared overhead and devestated the concrete behind him with a cacophonous explosion of its impact against the concrete behind him.


Well look at me talking all big before a fight i might not even win!


With a grunt of exertion he bends forward a little and without putting so much as a toe out of the bee line he had been making sprints up the fences surface and down the other side again; moving with a slight care not to trip on the larger rocks but brazenly crushing the smaller debris hg e moves to stand between the villains and the downed men and in his sternest disappointed grandpa voice calls out to them.


"Whats all this then?!" Steam beginning to pour from the cusps of his sleeves as he felt his chest swelling like a boiler fit to burst "you young people got nothing better to do than vandalize property and assault working folk and old people with yer laser-phaser blasts? go back to your schoolhouse before I call yer parents!" he says even as his stance shifts to brace for impact from blows and blasts he doubted even his steely sinew could turn aside. his broad hands firmly clenched into tight fists that pulled his weathered flesh taunt across his knuckles with a quiet pop from his fingers.

Edited by Exaccus
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