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December 23, 2015. Freedom City. Midtown. Morgan’s Jewlery. 5:00 PM.


Christmas was almost here. The sense of the season was in the air…and on the lightpoles…and the windows…basically downtown was fully decorated to all of humanity’s ranged senses. Last minute shoppers mixed with the general hubbub that was downtown Freedom. In fact, Morgan’s Jewlery was doing a fairly brisk business. Normally, the shop usually dealt with custom orders from more wealthy Freedonians, but for this year’s Christmas shopping season they’d stocked up on more affordable jewelry, in hopes that the profits allow them to afford to move the shop to a new, larger location a few blocks away. Evidently, someone had a better idea as to where that money could go. The customers and staff were being menaced by, of all things, a lion while several others emptied the vault and display cases of gold and diamonds to a waiting truck. One of the staff was already downed, apparently badly injured. The alarm button was close to him, unpressed. Strangely, despite the fact that anyone could see what was happening inside if they glanced through one of the shop’s windows, life continued as usual outside of it.

Edited by EternalPhoenix
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Casey loved the holidays; her family had several traditions revolving around them, and she cherished the time she got to spend with her relatives. Her birthday fell two days after Christmas, and her parents were always good about not short-changing her on gifts because of that; she typically only got one gift from her folks on the 27th, but it was always special.


The extended Blankenship clan shared a large cabin in Aspen, which meant the holidays also included a reunion and lots of time on the slopes, two things Casey truly loved. Then New Year's was always spent with her mom's family in Miami, which meant swimming, windsurfing and other warm weather activities. But the blonde heroine knew she was blessed, and always tried to squeeze in some volunteer work this time of year as well.


Right now, she was cramming in a little minute shopping in Freedom before flying back home home (literally) on Christmas Eve, carrying several shopping bags by their handles in her free hand; so far, it was unseasonably warm and rainy on the East Coast this holiday season, but at least all the lights and shoppers made for a festive atmosphere. The native Coloradan was looking forward to seeing lots of white puffy snow, and was discussing this very topic with her big brother Josh via cellphone.


"Well, I was checking the snow report this morning, and it looked like we're going to have some amazing powder, so...yeah...oh, you wish!  I was a way better 'boarder even before my little 'accident'...Oh really?...You're....Josh, you're insane...In! Sane! Seriously...Oh, you want to make it interesting?...Alright, alright, how 'bout this: the loser buys the winner hot chocolate, on demand, for the rest of the weekend...done...done. Oh, you are so going to regret-"


But then a flicker of movement caught her eyes, and Casey paused to lower her glasses and peer at the jewelry store across the street. "Are those...lions?" Then she remembered her brother on the phone. "Oh, sorry, I'm...I have to go...yeah, work just got crazy...yep, lions...tons of 'em...okay, love you, too! See you tomorrow!" She hung up the phone, and looked around for a place to change and stash her presents. "Where can I...oh, there we go!" The teen powerhouse found a dark, dry corner in a nearby alley, where she changed in the blink of an eye.


Seconds later, Miracle Girl landed at the back of the jewelry store, near the loading entrance, and quickly looked around for any windows or doors she could (hopefully) force open without setting off an alarm; she'd been working on her stealth, and hoped to avoid a loud, obvious entrance.

Edited by Heritage
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Tomorrow morning, he would be on a plane, heading back to Mexico for the holidays. His bags were packed and the arrangements were made: Papa's private jet would be making a night flight from Guadalajara to Freedom City, hopefully without any hitches. With everything taken care of, Aníbal decided to put the rest of the day to good use. El Huracán flew above the city, patrolling the skies in search of trouble. The streets below were lit up with Christmas decorations. There didn't seem to be any trouble afoot. People were going about their business, getting some last minute shopping done and paying little mind to what was happening in the air above them. Occasionally someone would notice a black figure gliding above them and glance upwards or try and take a pic with their phone, but few people were particularly surprised by his presence. This wasn't exactly an uncommon sight in Freedom City. It appeared his last day in Freedom City would be an uneventful one. Perhaps it was for the best. It wouldn't do to get seriously injured a few days before Christmas.


He was getting a little bored as he flew over Midtown, weaving his way between the towering residential buildings and passing over rows of high street shops. Idly scanning the streets for signs of criminal activity, he pondered turning and moving towards the southern part of town. Something bad was almost certainly going down in the Fens, as it usually did. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he noticed something in an alley down below. A lone figure rather suspiciously loitering behind one of the classy stores. The lone figure, a woman by the looks of it, was rather interested in the security arrangements in the back. She didn't look like an employee. She looked like she was trying to break in. It was probably nothing, he thought, but nevertheless swooped down to get a better look. As he moved closer, he found the prospective burglar's attire looked oddly familiar. An eyebrow arched in surprise. It looked like... Was it? What was she doing there? A gust of wind announced his arrival as he landed behind Casey, sending several old newspaper sheets and discarded wrappers flying.


"Is that you, Miracle Girl?", he asked, baffled yet intrigued by the situation, "What's going on?".

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Casey turned at the rush of wind, and smiled nervously at the air controller as she brushed the hair out of her eyes; she kept her voice low and hunched forward slightly, subconsciously indicating the need for discretion.


"Oh, hey, El Hurucan! We've got a weird situation here."


She pointed at the store.


"It looks like a robbery and potential hostage situation, but not like any I've seen before."


Her face scrunched up in disbelief.


"They've got lions in there, a whole pack! Wait, no, that's right, it's a pride of lions."


She shook her head and waved her hands.


"Anyway, I'm not sure the best way to go in; I was thinking of trying to sneak in the back, y'know, all stealthy so the lions don't have a chance to maul anyone, but-"


She indicated the back door and shrugged.


"I don't really know much about burglar alarms or security systems, and I don't want to set any of them off."

Edited by Heritage
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"Lio... Wha...", Aníbal mouthed in bafflement as Miracle Girl explained the situation to him. He nodded after a pause allowed the bizarre scenario to sink in. While he was slowly getting used to living a life surrounded by high weirdness, Freedom City could always find something new to surprise him with. Certainly, it wasn't the weirdest thing he'd seen since embarking on his career as a budding superhero, but it was up there. That, however, was beside the point. There was a robbery going on, however unusual the method, and the two of them had the opportunity to help. The mystery of what Miracle Girl was doing in the alley was resolved, but a much bigger problem remained. He thoughtfully stroked his chin as she explained her intention to go in stealthily. It was probably a smart thing to do, though whether the two of them had the skills to pull it off was another matter entirely.


"Hmm... Unfortunately neither do I.", Aníbal remarked, casting a glance at the rear entrance to the shop. Was there even an alarm? If so, was it on? He cursed himself for not paying more attention to the extensive security arrangements his father had installed at the Herrera family home in Mexico. Listening to the contractors' sales pitches would have proved useful now, but alas... Perhaps just taking the risk was worth it? 


"Well... There's two of us.", he mused, "Perhaps we could split up? One of us takes the front, the other one approaches from the back, either way we get the jump on them... I don't think we'll have any luck tampering with the alarm systems."

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Casey nodded as she ran her fingers through her hair; how would her dad approach this? She also thought back to her classes at Claremont, and what she'd seen the Hispanic hero do when they'd last worked together.


"Okay, how about this; unless they're some kind of super-lions, they're probably not going to be able to hurt me, so I will attempt to draw their fire and make myself as visible a target as I can, and hopefully drop a few."


Then she pointed at Anibal.


"If I remember right, your air control is pretty good; can you somehow quickly and safely get the people outside? Once we know the civilians are safe, you can join me for some kitty buttkicking."


The blonde powerhouse shrugged.


"How's that sound? I mean, I know my dad says 'no plan survives contact with the enemy', but at least as a start?"

Edited by Heritage
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"That might work, actually...", Aníbal stroked his chin. Presumably, although highly trained (or highly intelligent), the lions did not have the ability to fly, meaning Miracle Girl could pick a fight with them and easily bail out if things went badly. Meanwhile, he would get the customers and staff out through the back and join her afterwards. It wasn't much - a lot of things about the situation remained unknowns, which wasn't good when making plans - but it was worth a shot. He examined the back of the store, wondering what would be the best way in.


"Okay, so... You go in the front and intercept the lions, I'll go in, get the hostages out through the back and join the fun.", he cleared everything with Miracle Girl and took a deep breath. "Ready when you are. Good luck out there."

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Miracle Girl nodded decisively.


"Okay, let's do this."


She waved her hand vaguely at the back door.


"If this is locked, I'm guessing you can...like, huff and puff and blow it down?"


She grinned, slightly embarrassed by her silly joke, then gave Aníbal a quick thumbs up before taking to the air, flying over the top of the building to land directly in front of the store. Striding confidently in the front door, she cleared her throat and crossed her arms.


"Wow; this is more cats than I've ever seen outside of YouTube. If you don't want to get your fur all mussed up, I suggest you drop everything and get the heck out!"

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Aníbal flashed a pearly grin at Miracle Girl's joke. A cheesy joke it was, but in tense situations cheesy jokes were a welcome stress reliever. "I'll think of something. Good luck!", he replied and, with a wave, watched the blonde paragon fly over the building and head into action. Now it was time for his part of the plan. Inhaling deeply to steady his nerves, he approached the back door, hoping he wouldn't need to cause too much damage to pry it open. It was, naturally, locked - a shop door in a back alley was a prime spot for intrusion. Presumably there was an alarm as well, though given the situation, perhaps attracting the attention of law enforcement wasn't such a bad idea. He took a few steps back. There was only one way he was going to get it open. Time to play the big bad wolf...


He gestured like a martial artist to aid his concentration and propelled a burst of compressed air towards the door with a thrust of his palm, aiming for the area around the doorknob to minimise the damage and maximise the odds of getting it open.

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Casey’s sudden appearance was a little demoralizing to the lion pride. Three of the females whirled to face her, but cautiously spread out, a low snarl in their throats. Anibal’s trick worked maybe a little too well as the door blew open, smacking against the wall. This grabbed the attention of two more of the females, who dropped the jewelry they were carrying. However, Casey’s sudden appearance left them just as cautious as the others, so they did nothing but face their opponent. The remaining three females sprinted out past Anibal into the back alley. Their footsteps grew quieter as they ran towards the street. Meanwhile, the male lion menacing the customers and staff took a glance at both newcomers and yawned, apparently bored.

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Obviously something wasn't right here; beyond the fact that there were several lions commiting a frickin' robbery, their behaviour didn't seem very animal-like, especially the very bored male. Animal control? Shapeshifting? Casey didn't know the exact reason, but it was starting to annoy her.


To heck with this guy, she thought to herself; let's see how confident he is without the rest of his posse.


In a flash, Miracle Girl lunged at the nearest female lion, prepared to strike like a whirling dervish of Taekwondo. 

Edited by Heritage
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Woah... The door was blasted open, slamming against the wall with a loud thud that alerted the entire pack to his presence. So much for the "stealthy" approach from the back. Adjusting the force of his compressed air bursts was something he never quite managed to pull off. Determined not to let this affect the plan, he strode towards the now open back door, but stopped in front of it and instinctively jumped to the side as three lionesses came rushing past him. Woah! They didn't attack, but moved out the back and around the building, going to the front. Were they flanking? As he entered the shop, two more lionesses dropped their precious loot and stared at him, apparently spooked by Miracle Girl's arrival at the scene. It was an amazing sight. For a moment he stood there, motionless, admiring the savage beauty of the creatures. He had seen them at the zoo, but never this close. This was an unpleasant situation - lions were one of his favorite animals, and he hated the idea of having to hurt them to foil this surreal robbery. When Miracle Girl zoomed towards one of the lionesses and unleashed a ferocious Taekwondo attack, he winced. Cruelty towards animals wasn't his idea of a good time, but something had to be done. He extended his arm towards one of the two lionesses, the palm upright, like he was offering her something.


"Sorry, girl...", he muttered with a mournful sigh, balled his fist and pulled his arm towards himself, like he was lifting a weight, pulling the air out of the lioness' lungs to suffocate her. He had far more devastating moves in his arsenal, but he didn't want to hurt the majestic creatures any more than necessary.

Edited by TheRedGuy
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Miracle Girl’s assault was a wonderful idea in theory, but in practice the first lion she hit (a female) absorbed the blow. It rocked back on the balls of its feet, but otherwise showed no sign of injury. El Hurican’s attempt at a less…violent approach on one of his pair of lions met with a similar failure. The response was immediate. Three sets of claws and teeth went after Miracle Girl. Two found their mark. El Hurican’s twosome wanted a piece of him as well, but only one of them was able to make contact. Meanwhile, the remaining pair of lionesses burst full speed past El Hurican and outside to join their compatriots. The male continued to look vaguely bored.

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It was simply a matter of physics, or rather the painful place where physics and biology meet.


In the course of her short superhero career, Casey had already been shot a few times, and while it could be very painful, it very quickly subsided. What she hadn't taken into consideration was that while a lion's bite wasn't as hard as a bullet's impact, it affected a much larger area and last much longer.


So when the two lionesses buried their razor-sharp teeth into her left shoulder and right thigh, applying close to a thousand pounds per square inch, Casey's scream was as much one of shock as it was pain.


Enraged at her own arrogance, the blonde bruiser shot her elbow back into the chest of the great cat to her right as hard as she could, hoping to return tbe favor. 

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This was a bad idea, he thought, as the lioness shrugged off his attempt to choke her out using his powers. The ladies of the pack soon overcame their initial fear of the newcomers and went on the offensive. One pair of lionesses, which he hadn't noticed earlier, stormed past him carrying jewelry. He tried to maintain his attempt at suffocation to no avail. The lioness he was attacking lunged forward and snapped her maw at him, but thankfully she was at least somewhat off balance. He skillfully dodged her attempted attack, but backed straight into the path of the second lioness, who bit into his forearm with amazing force. The pain was unbelievable, comparable to the burning sensation he felt when the pyrokinetic terrorist set herself ablaze on his shoulder a few months ago. This time it was razor-sharp teeth, pressing themselves into his flesh. The protective lining on his suit was designed to deal with ballistic damage, not animal bites. Despite the enormous strain it was subjected to, it held out, making the pain bearable and absorbing much of the pressure on Aníbal's arm. He cried out in agony and tried to extricate his arm from the lioness' maw. Christmas Eve was tomorrow. Christmas Eve was tomorrow, he thought, and he was not going to spend it in a hospital bed. With renewed determination, he somehow managed to free himself from the bite before the teeth had cut through the lining and reached his flesh. Instinctively, he propelled himself towards the exit, flying out on a sudden rush of air and barely landing on his feet. He turned towards his attackers and took a deep breath. Clearly, the less violent option wasn't working. The fact that the magnificent beasts were clearly not going to extend him the courtesy of a gentler approach considerably weakened his reservations about hurting animals. He was still uneasy about having to do this, but it was a life and death situation. 


"Okay... Want to play rough?", he huffed as he aimed a blast of compressed air at the lioness that bit him, "Now we play rough." 


He thrust his palm forward, sending a blast of air towards his target. The blast was weaker than before - a small mercy towards the lion that also made it easier to accurately manage its path.

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Miracle Girl scored a solid hit. The lioness dropped to the floor and…faded away? Meanwhile, El Hurican’s burst of air ruffled the fur (and feline dignity) of his target, but caused no physical damage. Outside, the truck started running. It was a quiet engine, so El Hurican likely could not hear it. However, it remained to be seen if Miracle Girl could. Casey’s lions went after her again. Both sets of claws found her skin. It took some teamwork, but Anibal’s pair managed to attack him in mid air. Basically one lioness climbed on the other, the bottom one took a running leap into the air, and at the apex of her arc, the top one leap attacked. However, It just wasn’t enough height and she missed him. The other five lionesses hopped in the open back of the truck, jewelry in their mouths. The male lion once again continued to look vaguely bored.

Edited by EternalPhoenix
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When the lioness she hit suddenly went 'poof', a light bulb suddenly went off over Casey's head.


They not real lions; they're solid light projections or something like that. Which makes sense, because since when to lions rob banks?


The last little bit of residual Girl Scout guilt she felt over beating up such magnificent creatures disappeared just as quickly, and a confident smirk spread across her face.


"You're nothing but a pack of phonies! Sorry, pride!"


And with that she reached out to grab the closest lioness around the neck, fully intending to flip her over her shoulder and hurl her against the wall.

Edited by Heritage
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The blast hit its intended target. Unfortunately, the target simply shrugged it off and followed him outside. The lionesses executed an impressive joint attack on the young air-controller, one of them serving as a makeshift launch pad for the other, who jumped off of her and lunged towards its tasty prey.


"Woah!", Aníbal pushed himself upwards on the airflow, barely managed to avoid the claws of the leaping lioness. The pair were well trained indeed, or exceptionally clever. He certainly never saw this sort of behavior on National Geographic. Clearly, taking these two on while within their striking distance was a recipe for disaster. He ascended higher, almost level with the top of the building, and looked down on the predators below. Unless they were supernaturally talented at climbing, there was no way they could reach him now. It wasn't a fair fight, he thought, but then again, two 400 pound beasts on one kid wasn't fair either. He focused again, aiming for one of the lionesses, and unleashed another air blast. This time he wasn't holding back, but he still couldn't hit with full force, as he was splitting his efforts between attacking and remaining airborne. He hoped this one would at least have some effect, and wondered how Miracle Girl was doing inside the jewelery shop. 

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Miracle Girl’s hands caught fur, but surprisingly the young paragon couldn’t outmuscle the beast and it slipped free. As it did so, it lashed out with claws that bit deep.  The other lioness could not find MG’s flesh, however. El Hurican’s burst of knocked one of his lionesses of her feet, where she…faded away? However, a sound of thudding feet heralded the arrival of one of the lionesses from the truck, and they performed the exact same maneuver as before to attempt to strike the young aerokinetic.

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GM (note: All posts thus far have been such, however this will no longer be true)


Miracle Girl was stunned from the force of the blow. For the first time in a while, she was actually bleeding. El Hurican was doing better, but all the same it was safe to say the two heroes were in a bit of trouble. Then one of the customers being menaced by the male lion stood up. The customer yawned and stretched. The male didn’t do a thing to stop her. This was when the heroes began to feel very tired, and someone outside screamed. The female lions dissolved into the either, and the male one loped out of the jewelry store, casually vaulting over Miracle Girl on the way out and into the back of the truck. The “customer” who had stood sighed, and started walking towards the front door. The heroes felt utterly exhausted and unable to take action. Casey recognized her. Skye Horne. Missing for a week and a half. She walked past Casey, and the young paragon was no longer able to keep her eyes open. She collapsed, fast asleep. El Hurican couldn’t concentrate on staying in the air and had to touch down. He saw and recognized Horne as she exited the store. However, she flicked her eyes at him and he too could not resist falling asleep.

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“Miracle Girl? What are you doing on the floor?” Terrifica was squatting next to the sleeping teen. Police techs were in the store. The wounded man had been removed and detectives were questioning the customers and staff. El Hurican, outside, had a police officer attempting to wake him as well. How odd. A report of lions in a jewelry shop. Then Miracle Girl and another hero, El Hurican were stretched out asleep on the ground inside same. It…didn’t make any sense. There was the report of a truck fleeing the scene, however it had already been found abandoned. Hopefully one of the two teens could provide some answers.

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Casey looked around blearily, then suddenly winced in pain as she rexperienced of her injuries; she couldn't remember the last time she'd felt real pain. "Terrifica? What are you doing here?" She groggily swiveled her eyes around until she saw the prone form of the Latino hero; that instantly woke her up. "El Hurican! Is he okay?" She struggled to her feet then toppled, catching herself on one knee; what ever Skye Horne had done to her, it packed quite a wallop. Wait, that's right!


"Skye Horne was here; she seemed to be...working with the lions?" The teen heroine squinted and shook her head. "But they weren't real! They popped into clouds if you hit them hard enough. And Skye was the one who put me to sleep! None of this makes any sense..."


Saying it out loud, it even sounded ridiculous to her, but she knew it was somehow all true.

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Wha... Gone? Aníbal was stunned as his projected blast found its target, apparently vaporizing the lioness. Some sort of illusion? Was it magic? He wished Raina were here, she'd probably know how to handle this. Before he could take another action, the second lioness vanished into thin air. Suddenly he felt tired, abnormally tired. It wasn't the exertion of battle, it was something else. It felt like a pair of lead weights was tied to his legs, pulling him down towards the ground. All his exertions and attempts to remain focused and shrug off the sudden onset of drowsiness were useless. He landed in the back alley, not far from the spot where the lionesses had disappeared, and dragged himself back inside the jewelry shop using his last reserves of stamina. Was Miracle Girl okay? Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a girl leaving the store. She looked familiar: he'd seen that face somewhere, perhaps a news article. Who are you?, he thought, and then everything went black. He slumped on the floor of the jewelry shop, not far from Miracle Girl.


Later, he felt a firm hand on his shoulder, trying to shake him awake. "Déjame dormir, Mama...", he muttered and rolled to his side, pawing at a nonexistent cover. Slowly, the events of the day came rushing back into his mind and he awoke with a jolt. The lions were gone, and most of the jewelry was cleaned out. The hand on his shoulder belonged to a rather burly police officer. He nodded to the man, slightly flustered, and quickly stood up. While he was unharmed, his ego took quite a bruising. Miracle Girl was awake too, joined by another heroine. He walked up to the pair and greeted the newcomer with a friendly nod.


"What... What happened? How long were we out?", he asked, still a bit groggy from the ordeal. Second time, he thought bitterly. This was the second time a foe had eluded his grasp. One more score to settle.

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Terrifica blinked, thoroughly surprised. A rarity, for her. She stood as Miracle Girl, lending a hand as she staggered. “Skye Horne? The missing heiress?” The Horne family owned a few patents here and there. They were all millionaires, but fairly low on Forbes’s list. Their daughter Skye, aged sixteen, had disappeared a week and a half ago. Terrifica had investigated, but there was no direct evidence of foul play. Indirectly, however… “Was there anyone with her, besides the lions?” Her hackles were raised. There had been two other disappearances that same day which had much less fanfare. Terrifica did not believe in coincidences. Not in this line of work. “Perhaps in the truck?”


El Hurican walked up, and she waved in the paramedic. “Miracle Girl is bleeding. If you would?” She glanced back at a detective. “Watson, I’ll vouch for these two.” Watson gave her a nod and got back to his interview. She turned back around and addressed the young Hispanic hero. “Terrifica. I’ve worked with Miracle Girl before.” To Miracle Girl herself, “Get patched up, and meet us outside.” Back to El Hurican. “Let’s talk outside and let the police do their work.” She walked outside and stood, waiting.

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Miracle Girl nodded and dutifully followed the EMT to a waiting ambulance. "Here, come inside and I'll patch you up," she offered kindly. Once Casey was inside, she pulled the door closed and looked the blonde heroine over. "Okay, so how...how does this come off?" The bodysuit seemed to be throwing her.


"Oh, there are these hidden zips; here, I'll do it." She carefully peeled back the suit to expose her injured shoulder, torso and thigh; she clutched the ripped materially tightly, feeling very self-conscious.


The EMT whistled as she saw the extent of the damage. "Wow, those cats did a number on you, sweetie! Still, looks like it could have been much worse; mostly superficial bleeding, but you're going to turn every color of the rainbow by tomorrow." She applied antiseptic and prepared some bandages.


"'Nobody make me bleed my own blood'," Casey ruefully joked.


"I'm sorry?"


"I...nothing." Miracle Girl looked sheepish and shook her head. "Just quoting that movie Dodgeball." She sighed and endured the medic's ministrations with quiet dignity as she tried to imagine how the missing heiress was involved in all this. Hypnosis? Mind control? Bodysnatching? There were too many variables to consider at this point, any one of which could be the truth.

Edited by Heritage
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