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January 22, 2016 

Claremont Academy 


In a clutch of trees near the athletics field, Woodsman was making notes. "All right, there's 'least two in th' buildin's," said Riley, pointing with his whittled-down golf pencil at the nearby campus structures. "And there's this one," he added, pointing towards the spot where they'd been told to wait for "special training." That meant the Doom Room - that meant more simulations. Thinking about the Doom Room made him remember the arrow in Dr. Metropolis' eye and the scorn of his peers that had followed, so he was spending his time thinking about more productive things. "There's gotta be at least one that leads off-campus," he said thoughtfully, chewing on one end of the pencil. "Down by the bay, when they go fishin'." He looked over at their "guest instructor" for today - the slim, brown-haired woman in the red tracksuit who had introduced herself as "Sam Capote" - and who he had recognized as the Claremont alum Relentless. "We goin' fishin?" 

"Easy there, soldier," she told him, giving the words more weight than other teachers at the school might have. "Everybody will be briefed at the same time."


"Just tryin' to stay productiv," said Riley, standing up and adjusting the crossbow that hung across his back. Slipping into his poncho and standing beneath the trees, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive, was a taste of home - but home had never been so bright, so clean, or so safe. He scratched his fingers against his chin, wondering not for the first time if that was stubble he felt there. How could he tell his teacher that he was tracking the paths used by the cannibal degenerates that lived in the Claremont Academy of his own reality? "Didn't think I was _this_ early." 

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Sarah was there bright and early, though she kept to herself. Shy and withdrawn, she was doing her best to stay out of trouble, or so it seemed. Hunched over, in unflattering clothing, she seems the picture of the reclusive bookworm. She's even had her nose buried in some tome of ancient lore since she got there! The little Asian girls dark eyes remained fixated on the pages, absorbing their contents with little regard for anything around her.


She's the new girl, and probably got introduced to the class just a couple days ago as Sarah Genmai Kahn. Those with money and connections (or maybe just a good knowledge of the financial world) would have recognized her as the owner of Kahn Industries, an incredibly wealthy young woman ever since her parents passed away in a rather gruesome plane crash. They left her everything, and the company has prospered somewhat under her care.

Sarah certainly wouldn't SEEM like your typical old money trust fund princess, given her nerdy nature and lack of anything resembling a butler. Aren't these rich girls supposed to have servants nearby at all times? Well, it seems as if she doesn't, instead content with nothing but her book for company.

Edited by AmyBall
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Huang loped across the field to the small stand of trees glaring at the world from beneath his dark glasses letting his trench coat flutter in the wind unfastened despite the chill of the winter air.  The hour was too early for passing in the dhampirs opinion.  He nodded greetings to Riley, "Hey hey so they send you on all these trips to the wild corners of campus?"  He asked with a light laugh though the small stand of trees was about as close to wilderness as farettis did without duress.  Turning he leaned down trying to catch the title of hte new girls book, "Hey there."  He said a small smile creasing his lips just a hint of fang showing, "You're Sara right?"  he confirmed, "Huang Faretti."  he introduced as he took in the glow of magic around her with a small nod as he stored that information away for later.  


"Briefed?"  he inquired of the young instructor, "It is definitely to early for briefs, can we do this whole cloak and dagger meet and greet thing somewhere less glaringly unpleasant?"

Edited by angrydurf
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Robin knew they weren't yet running late so she didn't hurry her step when it appeared the others were already gathering. "Hey, is that the new girl?" Robin asked towards the blonde she was walking next to - Raina was always more likely to know school gossip than the Fens native would ever manage. She wore the same well worn jeans and shirt that Robin was always in, if uniforms were not required. The smile she turned to Sarah was small but genuine as she added a laconic, "Hey."


The nod she gave Huang was companionable although she warmed markedly as she came to a stop on the grass next to the archer. Robin bumped her shoulder into his companionably. "Trying to earn brownie points for beating everyone else here?" She teased. 

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"I think so," Raina murmured back before they got too close to the others. "Word in the caf is that she's mega rich and maybe-probably evil. Of course, that's Madison's read on it, so she's probably got a hundred-thousand in her trust fund and wears black eyeliner," she added dismissively. Still, her eyes were sharp and guarded as she scanned the new arrival. Raina was just starting to find her feet around here, the last thing she needed was more new girls upsetting the apple cart.


Her attention was diverted very effectively when she noticed Riley and Huang already there and waiting as well. Raina suppressed a groan. "You didn't tell me Riley was coming," she muttered to Robin, before mustering a polite smile for everyone. "Hey there, people." On her shoulder, Merlin chirruped in quick alarm, then conveyed privately to Raina that at least now if Riley got out of control in the simulator, Merlin could shut it down. Raina had to agree this was a plus. 

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Not used to all the attention, Sarah nodded to the questions. "Y-Yes, I'm Sarah." she said in a nervously accented English. Her eyes catching the light for a moment, she examined him in turn, noting that he didn't have the same stink of brimstone that some hell-users have. "I-I uh..." the young woman whispered... She stopped talking as the others arrived, her nose immediately returned to the pages of her book.

That book, if nothing else, would be a clue as to just how wealthy she is. The ancient tome was written in, appropriately, Ancient Greek. A treatise on some esoteric subject, it looks VERY old, and VERY expensive, and she was just sitting there, using it as if it were no more than light reading material! She gave a small nod of greeting in return, and stood as more than one or two people arrived. "I-I wasn't e-e-e-e-e-e-expecting so many people." she whispered to who she assumed was the instructor.

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“I’m surprised that she didn’t try to recruit her to the plastics, mega rich girl seems to be right up her alley.” Cathy was following up the rear trying to keep up in her two friend, Merlin was getting a free ride and didn’t count.


She was apparently dressed for the coldest of weather with her parka zipped right up to the top and her furry hood pulled up over her head. And even then then the temperature around her was still colder than everywhere else.


“I’m sure she’s perfectly normal, well as normal as anyone get’s at this school.”

She gave a little wave to Riley and Huang before waiting to find out what they in store for them today.

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"Oh, this isn't so many," Raina assured Sarah breezily, since the instructor looked like she was still fiddling with her notes. "Training teams are usually like four to six people. They only put us in bigger groups if they really want to make a mess." She gave Sarah a more up-close assessing look. "I'm Raina, by the way. That's Robin, Cathy, Riley, and Huang." She pointed to each of her classmates in turn, then gave a deeply put-upon sigh. "Or, if we're training, I'm Sparkler, and that's Nighthawk, Frostbyte, Woodsman, and Ouroborus, or R-Bus for short because nobody can pronounce that." She looked deeply pained at even having to speak their codenames aloud. "What do you do?" 

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It took the girl a moment to reply. "I'm sorry, I... I'm not used to being able to talk so freely about what I can do. I uh..." she blushed. "I'm a mage. I cast the spells that make the people fall down," the young woman finishes. "Sparkler is Raina. Robin is Nighthawk. Frostbyte is Cathy. Riley is Woodsman. And Huang is Ouroborus." It seems she knows her languages, because when she said Huang's name, she didn't stumble one bit.

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"Hey babe," said Riley, putting away his notebook as he rose to his feet. Wrapping his arm around Robin, he kissed her on the cheek. "And you guys. Looks like a real party." 


"Hello, everyone," said their instructor once they were all there. "I'm Sam Capote, but you can call me Relentless." She gave them a sharp, toothy grin at that. "You may know me as the first and second-year track coach, or as head of our LGBT Club." She picked up her pencil and made a few notes on the clipboard she was carrying. "You all have been picked for special training today. We'll be doing an exercise that will put your team in the place of superheroes from the past. You'll be given a tactical problem faced by members of the Freedom League, given time to come up with a response and implement it in a realistic setting, and then we'll debrief afterwards and match how well your response matches up to the historical reality." 


As she spoke, the ground behind was opening up and out was rising (as if that sort of thing happened every day on a high school campus), a chrome steel elevator that looked like something from a science fiction movie. "Hellbinder, or Sarah, I know this is your first time with special training. We'll be taking you down to our holographic simulator under the school to give you access to the kind of simulated reality training the Freedom League uses for their missions. There'll be a locker down there if you want to store your book," she added with a nod to her weighty text.


When the elevator doors opened, Relentless turned and zipped inside, taking her place in the rear with a smile, her clipboard still in hand. "Going down!" 

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Huang greeted Robin and Cathy with a small wave and frowned slightly at Raina's introductions, "Really?  ôr-rŏb'-ôr-rŭs, the eternal serpent? infinite dragon? the cylcles of,"  he huffed and shook his head, "read a book!"  he teased lightly back and flashed a smile to Sara at her correct pronunciation, "See first try even."  he pointed out before turning his attention to the instructor of the moment, "Uhm wouldn't the correct response for a group other than the freedom league differ though?"  he clarified as he settled with a sigh of relief into the welcome shade of the elevator.  He glanced to his fellow students, "I mean we're not exactly a mirror of any incarnation of the league.  Riley barely even drinks!"

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Robin offered Riley a small, sidelong smile as she shifted towards the back of the group and shoved her hands deep in the pockets of her leather jacket. She leaned her shoulder against the elevator, quiet but not uncomfortable among the small knot of students. 


"I don't think these scenarios are true/false sorts of things, Huang," Robin offered laconically from her spot in the back. Her lingering annoyance with the coach leached into her tone as she added, perhaps a little bitingly, "More like watching rats run a maze, I think. But, s'probably more about learning why we made the choices we did and what the Leaguers would'a done. History doesn't always mean its the best and all."


She nudged the tall magic user heel with one foot as she added, "Though isn't going counter the Freedom League's plans like a family tradition?" she teased before turning towards Sarah with a nod, "Raina and Huang are both spell-slingers. There are a couple of other magic-sorts in our year too."

Edited by alderwitch
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"Th-Thank you. I'll keep my book though," she said, striking the spine and snapping it closed before she stepped on. "I'm Sarah," she said to Robin, and held out a hand. "This is... I think it's my first day here. Or close to it. I was supposed to be home-schooled, but... Then I guess I lost control on the bus. I'm sorry. Should we," she paused for a moment, tilting her head to one side and listening. "Should I be in my costume for this?"

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Cathy followed her friends into the elevator racking her brains trying to remember all the different iterations of the League. Scottish school didn't teach much about the old leagues, focusing mostly on local heroes, and whilst Claremont did teach more about the League she couldn't remember much about the old teams.


"This isn't my strongest subject anyway so I'm probably running blind anyway. I guess we'll be okay as long as we don't repeat any past mistakes."


She hadn't been in the Doom Room with her friends, but most of her other times had been disasters

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"I know how to pronounce it," Raina told Huang as she followed him into the elevator, "I just think that trying to get out your entire four-syllable code name is eventually going to get somebody killed during an actual emergency situation. And calling you Ouro would just make us sound like confused dogs."


She turned to Sarah. "And wearing your uniform is a good idea if you don't want to mess up your clothes. They've got a bunch of the school uniforms down in the locker room for anybody to wear, I'm going to grab one and change into it before we start." Raina was wearing a very pretty scoop-neck sweater today, in a blue that accented her eyes, and there was no way on earth she was about to put it at risk. "Things can get messy in the simulator." She very deliberately avoided looking at Riley. 

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Huang shrugged to Robin, "No.  Maybe a little."  He scowled murmuring under his breath, "They're just uptight and full of rules and curfews and bring my daughter back to her home dimension before nightfall." he groused to himself but brightened a bit as the elevator began its descent and the sun vanished from view.  Sliding his glasses off he shrugged to Sara, "Some people go for that spandex look for training really mostly depends what you're going for though."  he explained and flashed Cathy a grin, "I'm sure there's no risk of that."  he said confidently, "Mistakes are just exciting ways to learn!"  he said with a bit too much vigor.  


He spared a raised brow for Rainas continuing complaints about his codename, "I'm sure we'll all manage."  he said dismissively after all his name was awesome and mysterious perfect for the image he wished to portray and that was far more important for hero work than ease of pronunciation under duress.

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Robin's response to the question was an enigmatic shrug, "Can change if you wanna. I end up fighting in my jeans cuz its what I got so it seems silly to change for combat training. Good to know how clothes bind up and all but sometimes its hard on what you're wearing, s'all."


As if for emphasis, she pulled one hand out of her pocket to gesture towards the beaten up leather jacket and the small neat stitches over the pocket from one of many repairs. "I keep meaning to have Riley help me dye one of the uniforms into less 'here I am, please shoot me' colors but we keep getting, uh, distracted."


Robin might have colored slightly at that before slipping her hands once more into her pockets. 

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As they stepped off the elevator, the young woman drew up a curtain of eldritch power. The flames licked along her limbs and through her hair, and scorched away all they found. It was a moderately spectacular transformation sequence, her clothes burned away, replaced with eldritch flames. And when she stood up straight, one fact became apparent. She was far more attractive than her mousy, slouched posture suggested. The flames dissipated, to reveal a set of hellish black cloth with flame trim stitched up the front and sides. Her back was covered by a large bat-winged cape, and her face... Was only covered by a simple black mask. The horns that grew from the top of her head were probably fake, right? Sarah's clothes were also of uncommonly fine, expensive fabric, very much unlike her normal outfit.

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"Heh, still think you look good in green," said Riley in a soft whisper to Robin, evidently a private joke from the rather saucy grin he shot her. He watched Sarah's transformation with interest, checking out the abilities of his new teammate, but he was focused on his friends, the mission, and shooting a glare at the back of Raina's head (several inches above his own) as they headed down the sterile steel corridor towards a set of sliding metal doors that swooshed open as they entered like something out of Star Trek. 


Relentless gave the heroes time to change and put away their non-essentials - but everyone's focus was on the simulator. The walls were a different design than the last time the more experienced heroes had been there, cast in a grid of white and black squares like a too-perfectly-polished chessboard, but one that didn't scuff as they walked their way onto the center of the room. Relentless took her place in the control booth, keeping the screen rolled back so she could talk to the heroes. "Okay, let's get you set up." She pressed a few buttons around them and the empty room slowly rippled before being replaced by something entirely new. 




The heroes were now standing in a lushly appointed corridor, the carpet thick under their feet, patriotic images depicting scenes from American history on the walls. Men in old-fashioned suits were frozen in a hurried attitude around them, one just about to open the double doors in front of them. "Welcome to October 20, 1962." came Relentless's voice from above, her figure in the control booth visible when they looked up. "President Kennedy has just asked to meet with the Freedom League.


A moment later, the people around them unfroze. Two uniformed Marines opened the door for them, and a man in barely-rimmed glasses with a thick part in his hair walked them into the Oval Office, where a figure familiar to any American schoolchild was waiting for them. "Greetings," said John F. Kennedy. The handsome President looked tired and care-worn, without the attention given to his appearance he must have given before his usual TV appearances or photo ops. "Won't you, ah, gentlemen and ladies have a seat? Secretary McNamara and I want to talk with you about the situation developing in Cuba." 

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The only thing that Robin bothered to stow was the backpack slung over her shoulder before she headed for the simulator itself. With her hands still in her pockets, Robin looked relaxed enough but for the clear tension in her posture. As the simulation flexed to life, a muscle flexed in Robin's jaw. She vastly preferred the training that happened in the gym and field. Here, Robin's mistrust ran deep. 


"Mr. President, we're at your disposal," Robin said as she recognized enough to know where they were. She glanced around, assessing the various threat levels of the Marines before giving a small nod to the other kids as she remained on her feet, intending to sit last - or hopefully stand if there wasn't enough places to sit down. "I imagine time is of the essence."

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Not bothering to change or leave behind anything of his own Huang gave Sarah a friendly thumbs up on the costume, "Evocative lotsa drama."  he complimented then ambled into the simulator as it spun up the scenario of the day, or apparently a day long past.  He seemed unconcerned with the antsy marine guards and peered at the room with interest as he tested the simulations limits expanding his senses to the supernatural realms to see how the simulation held up.  He was not overly surprised it did not, the school being woefully ill prepared for much in the way of real magical instruction after all.  However he well knew such illusory effects were not easy to maintain without an active practitioner at the helm so merely took a note to focus on his mundane senses for the time being.  


Once his inspection was complete he focused on the president, "Sir."  he said with a lazy if technically polite greeting as he sunk into a plush chair.  "Cuba?  Tropical, no good will come of this."  he noted to the other students and called out breaking immersion, "So relentless are we playing at being time displaced here or are we supposed to be natives of this simulated timestream?"  he asked, "Like are we supposed to buy into that nonsense about not changing history butterfly effects and all that?"

Edited by angrydurf
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The simulation paused, briefly. When Relentless spoke, there was a definite note of approval in her voice. "Good question, Ouroboros. You should assume that you are members of the Freedom League native to October 1962."


Though he was completely lost (for all that he vaguely recognized President Kennedy and had heard of the island of Cuba), Riley took a seat. It occurred to him, from what little he knew of history, that the real Kennedy probably wouldn't have liked someone like Riley Smith-Quinn in his office. That idea made him smile. "We're all good Americans here, Mr. President," he said with a wink at Robin. "100%. What can we do forya today?" 


Kennedy and McNamara, evidently the Secretary of Defense, gave a short presentation to the heroes using an easel and set of painted maps of the island of Cuba. The situation sounded grim. "As you know, we have hard evidence that the Soviet Union has begun the construction of short and medium-range ballistic missiles on the island of Cuba, carrying nuclear weapons that could be used to target the, er, East Coast in the event of all-out war." 


"We've put a blockade around the island and we're currently eyeball-to-eyeball with the other fellow in the waters around Cuba - we can keep the Reds from bringing more supplies to the island. But we can't do anything about the nuclear weapons already there; where at least twenty nuclear missiles are already partially constructed." When he talked, standing up and changing posters to show the heroes first the aerial photographs of the missiles, then the images of the blockade, McNamara sounded more like an academic than a military specialist. "Right now we don't have any way short of getting rid of those missiles without persuading the Reds to withdraw them - or military intervention." 

"But that's what I wanted to talk to you about," said Kennedy, looking from one to the other. "I don't want to send American boys to Cuba unless there's no, er, other choice in the matteh. That'll just get people killed on both sides, and it might move the Soviets to a war footing. We've already had some near-misses." 


"What we want to know is," said McNamara with a glance at the President, "in the name of protecting our nation, and the world, would the Freedom League be willing to intervene on the island of Cuba and seize control of the Soviet missiles?" 

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Raina had watched Sarah's transformation with professional interest, despite the heebie-jeebies creeping up her spine from the brimstone "smell" of the girl's magic. She'd skinned hastily into her own stupid-looking blue and gold jumpsuit in the locker room, then helped Merlin with the matching tiny shirt he was required to wear when they were working. He complained a little about it, mostly for form. "Hey," she encouraged him, "you look like a Star Trek doctor if he were a monkey. Chin up, at least they aren't making you wear a little fez." Merlin made a rude noise. "You eat your monkey biscuits with that mouth?" she'd asked mildly as they left the room to join the others. 


The simulation looked like a snoozer at first, which Raina appreciated because it seemed less likely that Riley was going to shoot anybody.  It was interesting to see the Oval Office and President Kennedy, who even Raina could recognize at a glance, but it did leave her sort of wishing she'd paid more attention in history class. She didn't know too much about this chapter of history except that the Soviet Union and the United States almost nuked each other to oblivion a couple times before the Berlin Wall got knocked down and somehow it collapsed the Soviet government. That didn't seem to be pertinent. "If sending American troops to Cuba would cause a war, wouldn't it be even worse if American superheroes went down on behalf of the government?" she asked. "Don't the Soviets have metahumans on their side too?" 

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"I think that's a good question," she said, looking over at Raina. Her outfit was just a touch clingy, but her relaxed posture proved that she could move in it. "They would have had super-heroes on their side as well. Though I see the point in sending Supers. Mundane people couldn't get there fast enough. Between us we have portal creation and astral projection. Telekinesis and..." she stopped at the last one. "We have a lot of ability to scout that most people wouldn't have."

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Once the elevator had stopped and the others had made a move out she’d changed herself into her ice form, chilling the air around her, ready for just about anything the Room could throw at them. She wasn’t expecting the Oval office, something she’d seem millions of time on television and movies. Felling a little self conscious she took down her hood and shuffled behind those that were sitting down for the briefing.


“Oh aye good Americans here.” she mumbled just loud enough for her fellow teens to hear.


All this was so far in the past and she remembered nothing about this period, they must have made it through as they were standing here to do this simulation.

“Aye and I bet Cuba had a hero or two to call their own. And what do we do if we succeed? I’m sure the Russians will be unhappy if we succeed.”

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