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A Blind Alley, West End, Freedom CIty

7:30 pm 20th March 2015


Freedom City was for many a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Yes the near by New York had it impressive buildings but only Freedom offered so many superheroes. Despite this the city still offered dangers for those who didn’t have their wits about them.


The well dressed woman had obviously taken a wrong turn whilst exploring one of the lesser known area of Freedom City. She hadn’t realised it yet but she’d started walking down an alley closed at one end. The two muggers who followed in behind her did however know this and was obviously taking advantage of the situation.

Luckily for the woman the were heroes here even in this area of Freedom City.

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Blue Jay had been following the richly-attired woman for nearly three blocks now. It wasn't merely a lark; she was a hunter, and while she wasn't cruel enough to set out a stalking goat, she was more than willing to take advantage of one when it appeared to her. So she had followed this woman as she walked down the wrong alleys, and watched the group of muggers and thieves accumulate in her wake.

She watched the woman turn down a blind alley and knelt at the edge of the rooftop, watching the situation developing below. It didn't take a tactical genius to realize that pretty soon, the woman in a pretty dress would be a corpse in a pretty dress. Jay couldn't let that happen.

The archer fixed her anchor to an air duct and jumped down, the line playing out behind her. Her boots made contact with the shoulders of a thug in a leather jacket; he went down hard and she leapt off his crumpling body towards a skinny guy with beach-blond hair. He turned just at the last moment and Blue Jay's padded knee caught him on the tip of his chin; his head went back and she rode his body to the ground, rolling once he was on the ground.

She came to her feet between the muggers and their intended victim. There were seven or eight more blocking the exit, but Jay wasn't too worried about them. She rolled her neck and set her feet in a wide stance, hunkering slightly to lower her center of gravity. "You're going to want to stay behind me," she called over her shoulder to the civilian. "And maybe cover your eyes."

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There were many unusual reactions that target’s had when faced with a heroes, or even the fact that they were being mugged, but this one was high on the strange list. The young woman looked up at Tona with a mix of surprise and awe babbling away in French.

 

<â€Oh my god Clémentine is that you? Is this where you’ve been all this time.â€>

 

The lead mugger however spoke in a lot more direct manner

 

“Thing is I count ten of us and only one of you I’d say you’re ****ed!â€

 

Without any warning there was a clear slightly accented voice, soon joined by a shape crouched on one of the dumpsters. That of one of Blue Jay’s Claremont friends Blodeuwedd.

 

“I’d say you’d better figure those odds out again. Nice to see you again Blue Jay I was on my way to visit anyhow.â€

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"Bonjour, Blodeuwodd," Blue Jay said, grinning. "It's good to see you, too. We should go get coffee, once we show these guys why you don't attack someone in Freedom City. This is going to be f--" She paused, the words of the woman behind her finally registered and she turned around, confused. "Clementine? <My name is not Clementine. Who do you think I am?>"

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“We’ll see about that let’s get them.†it wasn’t the most original battle cry, but muggers have never been known for their originality.


Blodeuwedd sumulsalted into the crowd of muggers and began to attack them, not even bothering to draw her sword. She was apparently enjoying herself.


“Coffee sounds like a good idea after a good workout like this. Shall we go back to your place?â€


The woman gave a little squeal and hid herself behind a trash can, but still within sight of Tona.

 

<â€Are you not Princess Clémentine IV heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Foix? You look so much like her! It is a shame if you not the timing could be most fortuitous.â€>

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Blue Jay frowned at the woman cowering behind a trashcan. “<I have never met four Clementines, and I -- wait a moment.†A big man, three times Tona’s size and with ugly scars over his face, swung a haymaker at the back of her head. The archer ducked the blow effortlessly, caught the follow-up kick in her armpit, and used the outstretched, rigid limb to control the bruiser. She went right and he hopped right; she went left and he hopped into a Dumpster. She twisted the dirty boot and the big man howled. The lithe little girl controlled the three-hundred pound knuckle-breaker with just his boot and returned to the conversation, talking casually.

 

“<I do not know four Clementines,>†she repeated, “<and I do not know what Foix is. I did not think this Earth had any kingdoms anymore.>†She put her head to one side. “<Are you from space? I hear there are lots of space-people around these days.>â€

 

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The muggers even with their number weren’t an effective challenge for the two heroes and their numbers were rapidly thinning.

 

“Interesting conversation Blue Jay?†Blodeuwedd had many talents but languages wasn’t one of them.

 

The woman herself though scared now seemed determined to make herself understood

 

<â€I am not from space I am French! Foix is a small kingdom between France and Spain, one of the few true Monarchies in Europe. And it’s just Clémentine you... she is the fourth to hold the name, though the House of Foix may be coming to an end...â€>

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"<I've never been,>" Blue Jay said airily, more and more of her attention being consumed by the huge man she was corralling. "<I'm sure it's a... a lovely place. I hope you can -- excuse me.>" The archer released the foot and spun, stepping inside the man's reach and striking one, two, three times with the flat of her hands. He staggered, his eyes crossed, and he fell with a crash. Blue Jay nodded sharply at his unconscious body, and watched Blodeuwodd own the very last would-be mugger. With the alley clear, she turned back to the civilian and helped her stand. The heroines helped her step over the bodies and get back to the street. Blue Jay gave her a long look, then glanced between her and Bloduewodd before asking, in English, "Do you want to get some coffee?"

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Blodeuwedd sauntered over to the pair looking pretty pleased with herself, it hadn’t been a difficult fight but it had been a nice workout.

 

“You haven’t introduced me to my friend? Hi there I’m Blodeuwedd I’m guessing you’re from out of town?â€

 

The young woman stood up and as dignified as she could dusted herself down.

 

“I’m Noor Renier Cultural Attache to Kingdom of Foix.†her accent had an expected soft French tone “You look so much like her, maybe without the mask...†she reached out to Tona’s mask but thought better of it

 

“This sound like a coffee kind of story. Silberman’s not to far away, unless you want something more discreet?â€

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Blue Jay could just imagine the sort of questions her employer would have if some Frenchwoman started rambling that Tona was royalty. She suppressed a wince and just pointed across a street, at a Starbase Coffee. "Let's just go there," she said. It wasn't hard to dodge through the minimal traffic, and in moments they were inside the place. Blue Jay didn't bother ordering anything, instead taking a table near one of the floor-to-ceiling windows and staring out at the street traffic as she waited.

 

Once all three girls were seated and situated, the archer turned her attention to the woman they had just saved. "Why do you think I look like Clementine," she asked. "And why were you looking for a European princess in Freedom City?"

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It was telling that people didn't even bat an eyelid at two masked heroes buying coffee’s and whilst people were generally fan’s of heroes they knew enough to leave alone a couple of cowl’s like Blodeuwedd and Tona. Noor after initial discomfort seem to be more relaxed among the pair and after enjoying her coffee began to explain her reasons.

 

“About five year ago Clémentine decided she didn't want to be a princess anymore and walked away from it all. Despite our best efforts she’s never been found, truth be told I think they thought she would spend a few years wandering the world and return. And whilst she was missed no one was worried, thing were good in the kingdom. But a few weeks ago the Queen took ill and died suddenly.â€

 

“During the War the kingdom was conquered by the German’s and a puppet ruler put into place. If we don’t find our princess soon then there descendent can take hold of the throne, he’s a horrid little man who only wishes to strip our kingdom of it’s riches. That’s why I was here following a rumour of a sighting of our Clémentine.â€

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Blue Jay alternated her attention between Noor’s story and the bustling street outside. She didn’t really expect to be attacked in the middle of a coffee shop, but constant vigilance was her default. She was silent for a few moments, turning over the Frenchwoman’s story in her head. “I have not seen… many people in this city that look like me,†she said. “And the one or two I have seen… they are not your princess.†She couldn’t imagine what would happen if a Curator drone was sitting on the throne of a nation, but she didn’t think it would be good. “You should not walk around this city alone like that, though. You could get seriously hurt.†Blue Jay shifted slightly to address her friend. “What are you doing today, Blodeuwodd? We should at least keep Noor safe while she’s in town.â€

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Noor sipped her coffee apparently working up her courage to ask the heroes a question. Eventually after a moment or two silence she decided to finally speak her mind about what was bothering her.


“I wouldn’t normally ask anyone to do something dishonest but we are desperate. Would you stand in for our lost Princess? You would only need to spend the week and accept the crown, after that you could hand it over to her younger sister.” she sounded genuine in her desire to do what was best for their tiny little kingdom.

Edited by Tiffany Korta

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Jay blinked rapidly, shocked speechless by Noor’s suggestion. “I… am not a princess,” she protested. “I do not know how to rule people or make proclamations or go to fancy parties, or wear… dresses.” She turned away from Foix woman, burying her face in her coffee cup and staring out the window, her mind racing. “I could never pass for your princes,” she insisted. “I would be found out right away, and we would all be thrown in a… oubliette.” She put her face in her coffee cup again, refusing to meet either Noor or Blodeuwodd’s eyes. Truthfully being arrested didn’t bother her too much; she was much more worried about being embarrassed.

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Blodeuwedd listened to the french woman as she explained the apparently serious situation her little kingdom was under.

“Can we have a few seconds to talk this through?” she waited for a few as the woman went to power her nose and turned to Tona “They need our help and you seem to be the best option to help them. And whilst I can’t speak French and I and Noor can talk you through the social bits.” she gave one of her half smile “And you’ll get a chance to enjoy French culture for a week or so, whats not to love?”

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Blue Jay pulled a face. "I'm going to have to wear dresses," she said. "Fancy, glittery dresses. I don't know anything about that. If someone attacked I could protect the princess," she allowed, "but I'm not comfortable having everyone... watch me like that." She squirmed uncomfortably in her chair, already feeling her face heat up. "I don't think it would help to have a princess mumbling and frowning at her coronation."

She sighed, looking down at her drink. "I'll do it," she said. "I'm not going to leave people in need. I just... don't like the plan. Can't we just arrest the prince?"

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Noor with a gallic flare hugged the two girls almost overcome with emotion.

"If we can prove the Prince is guilty of a crime then all the better for us all, but with this he personally won't be able to claim the throne."

She wrote a few details on a napkin, in French, and handed it to Tona with the slightest bit of reverence.

"We have a small plan that can transport us all to Foix, as an official diplomat of the country I can have you weapons carried on as diplomatic bags and clear you of any paperwork to leave the country. Shall we meet at the airport tomorrow morning at say ten in the morning?"

Edited by Tiffany Korta

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Tona barely slept that night. She packed a tiny bag, mostly filled with her costume and her bow and her arrows, and tried to get to sleep. At some point in the night she got up and packed a second bag with all sorts of wires and caltrops and glass bottles and sand and other tricks she'd need for making traps, and placed both bags by the door before going back to bed. And then she got up a second time and put the trap bag away, grumbling at herself for how silly she was being, and grabbed another couple of shirts to stuff into the first bag. And over that night she didn't get more than about fifteen minutes of sleep.

So it was understandable that, when she showed up at the airport, her eyes were dark and puffy from lack of sleep and she snapped unsociably at anyone who tried to help her with the three bags she was lugging.

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With Noor's assistance they where hustled through to the tarmac without any resistance from the security staff. The plane they were travelling on was a Learjet of some kind. The bags were loaded in the hold, Tona having to finally give up some of her bags, and they boarded the plane. The jet was rather luxurious decorated in a tasteful manner, as you'd expect from the French.

The plane smoothly taxied down the runway and they were soon in the air for the eight hour flight to the tiny Kingdom of Foix.

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Tona stared glumly at the airplane. "It had to be by air," she said as the baggage handlers loaded her heavy bags, clutching at her carry-on. "No one travels anywhere by foot or by plane anymore. No, everyone thinks it's perfectly fine to climb into the air and hope it doesn't fall out of the sky like would make sense." Eventually she was allowed to board and she chose a seat more or less at random, hugging her bag to herself. She had to be shown how to buckle the restraint, and absolutely refused to let go of her weapons. As the airplane spooled up and taxied down the runway, the acceleration pushed her back into the cushions; she closed her eyes tightly and felt her heart try to beat its way out of her chest. Images surfaced from her memories; snow, a man who was dangerous to be around, a mocking Russian accent, a twisted wreckage of metal, a man bleeding out on her arms.

She opened her eyes a crack, staring at Cerys. "If we crash," she groaned, "I'm going to eat you first."

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The diplomat Noor was also getting herself seated, a lot more comfortable flying than Tona.

“Actually it’s mostly over...” a look from Blodeuwedd stopped her from pointing out the flight was mostly over the Atlantic

“It’s about 6,000 km to Foix it’s not something we can do any otherway. It’s not like we can walk into the League's offices and ask to use there Teleporters to cheat a European leader.” she’d checked that the doors were closed before adding that, she’d knew what Tona would have been tempted to do at that point.

She opened a mini-fridge and got out a juice, offer to throw one over to Tona

“If it helps once we’re in the air we’re under French laws, which means we can drink alcohol like the rest of the civilized world.”

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