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Midtown, Freedom City, New Jersey
Tuesday February 23, 2016
7:15 PM

The lights of Midtown seemed almost to blur past as Jason Draco drove through the busy streets near Liberty Park.  Although it was late evening, there was still plenty of traffic in this part of the city, and at least some of it was on account of the event to which Jason was making his way. 

Up ahead, just across 52nd Avenue from Liberty Park stood the mansion of the Midnight Society, an old stone building with several towers and peaked roofs.  The massive building was set back from the street, its large grounds separated from the sidewalk by stone walls.  A wide iron gate provided a path through the section of stone wall along 52nd Avenue and into the circular driveway which led to the front of the mansion. 

As Jason drove through, he joined a small line of cars which were delivering their passengers to the event being hosted by the Society this evening.  Several uniformed valets could be seen moving about, opening doors for those inside the stopped cars ahead. 

Jason had of course been to many events here while he was growing up, his parents having been members of the Midnight Society.  But this would be the first real time he had attended an event on his own, the invitation having been sent directly to him.

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Jason had been forced out the door by his old butler and friend, Randolph. He didn't honestly feel any reason to go, not knowing any of the people there, but Randolph begged to differ. "Mr. Draco, with all due respect, if you do not go to this event, I will be forced to take drastic measures". Jason still remembered when he was 12 and Randolph had been forced to take "drastic measures". He immediately changed and ran out the door. Jason hadn't been anywhere near a social gathering for 7 years, not even when at Stanford. He mostly kept to himself regardless and not knowing who was going to be here wasn't making it any easier. He stepped out of his car near the front of the sidewalk and waved over a valet. "Take care of her and there'll be more where this came from", Jason whispered while handing the valet 200 dollars. The car was his father's and he didn't want even a scratch on her. He looked around quickly and walked inside of the building.

Edited by geniusostrich
Weird formatting issue

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GM 

"Of course sir."  The valet stated with a nod as he pocketed the money and took the keys before climbing into the car to take it to the nearby parking structure the Society had spaces reserved.  As he faced the old stone building, Jason could hear the sounds of conversation and laughter from within. 

Although it was already well past dark, the lights around the circular driveway allowed Jason some details of the well maintained lawn and hedges around it, with a number of larger trees that rose up above the wall.  To the rights of the main entrance Jason could make out the entry to the mansion's gardens, which stretched around the building to continue on behind it. 

The doorman asked for Jason's invitation, glancing at it a moment before handing it back.  "Thank you Mr. Draco.  Enjoy your evening."  He stated before allowing Jason into the mansion. 

Inside, Jason found himself in the mansion's main hallway, filled with dozens of well-dressed men and women, a large central staircase led up to the upper levels.  The voices of many others could be heard from the open doorways to the various rooms off the main hallway.  Seeing as Society events tended to draw many of Freedom City's richest and most influential individuals, it was very likely that Stone was some within the building.

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Jason was aware of Stone's probable presence and made a mental note to avoid him however possible tonight. Jason didn't have anything against him but he always got the strangest feeling whenever he struck up a conversation with the current CEO. Stone was a polite person but he always seemed like he didn't want anything to do with Jason. No matter, don't let things like that bog you down, Jason thought to himself. Let's try to make the most of the situation. Jason went immediately to find something to eat. He had been out on patrol as Dragon before he had come to this party and using his ki tended to use up tremendous amounts of food energy as well. Who knew? Anyways, he tried to be polite to anyone who greeted him along the way, trying to keep it to short conversations until he happened across the spread. He grabbed whatever was on the table (not even paying attention to what he was grabbing) and began eating. He looked around at the people who were at the party, trying to see if there was anyone here who he even might know only in passing. Anything to make this night not consist of him standing in the corner.

Edited by geniusostrich
Fixing up a couple of grammar and spelling mistakes

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GM

Jason did not have to look too far to find some food, as one of the first rooms of the main hall was filled with long tables set with all manner of hor d’oeuvres.  Looking about as he began eating, Jason saw a few faces in the crowd around him that looked at least slightly familiar, although they all seemed to be of his parents' generation. 

While he was scanning the nearby crowd, Jason saw a man in his mid to late 50s enter the room and look about a moment before fixing his gaze on Jason.  The man started over to where Jason was standing, nodding politely to several people as he went by an excusing himself as he continued toward Jason.  The man had greying dark brown hair and was dressed in a finely tailored tuxedo (as were many of the other men in the room). 

As he drew near, a small smile came to his face.  "Jason Draco, please allow me to introduce myself, I am Fredrick Vanderhoff, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Society."  He stated, extending his hand to the young man.

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Jason had been considering going and talking to Old Mrs. Levitt until Mr. Vanderhoff arrived. He put on a friendly smile and returned the handshake. "Nice to meet you, Mr.Vanderhoff. I recently got back into town so I'm can't say I've had the pleasure of your acquaintance. Do we know each other from somewhere?" Jason asked as he fidgeted with his tie.

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GM

"Only in passing, although it was quite a few years ago.  Before your trip to the Himalayas with your parents."  Mr. Vanderhoff replied.  "Please accept my deepest condolences.  Your parents were well respected members of our organization and the Freedom City community at large." 

"I was very pleased to hear of your plans to return to Freedom City and take the first steps toward taking full control of your family's company.  Given your family's long history with the Society, the Board of Trustees felt it only natural to extend an invitation to tonight's event.  As you begin to reestablish your roots, we hope you will consider continuing your family's membership with the Society."

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"Thank you" Jason said quietly after he mentioned the Himalayas. Jason tried not to dwell on the incident but it still hurt to even think about. He let it go once he heard about Draco Enterprises. "I'm not taking control yet but I will most likely at the beginning of next year. I don't know if you know him but Silver Stone is the current CEO of Draco Enterprises. He's been a great acting CEO and I absolutely plan to give him a high position with the company when I have the necessary experience". Jason enjoyed talking over his company. "I almost forgot to mention, thank you for the invitation. Just one question: What exactly does the Society do? My father never mentioned that detail."

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GM 

"I know Silver well."  Vanderhoff replied.  "I was just speaking with him a short while ago.  Last I saw he was upstairs.  He spoke a bit about the plans for preparing you to assume the role of CEO." 

At Jason's question about the Midnight Society, the older man gave a small nod.  "A fair question.  At the most basic level, we are a private social club.  But I firmly believe that we offer so much more.  Our members are some of the wealthiest, most influential individuals in Freedom City, and beyond."  Vanderhoff turned slightly to look out at the crowd of guests gathered near the two.

"Among our members you will find potential business partners, financing opportunities, politicians, attorneys, accountants, and even competitors.  We provide a neutral setting for you to meet and network, after all, today's competitor could be tomorrow's joint venture partner." 

Vanderhoff turned back toward Jason as he continued.  "But beyond our social and networking opportunities, the Society supports numerous local and national philanthropies."

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Jason tried his best to look intrigued. To tell the truth, he was interested in the business and philanthropy side of the Society. He had expected some sort of do-nothing's club and it impressed him that the wealthy of Freedom City actually did something. He had had too much experience with fat cats. "Well, another question if it doesn't bother you. As you know I've been out of the city for a long time and I don't really know many of the people here, besides the ones my father knew. Is there anyone in particular I should be talking to tonight?" Jason asked.

Edited by geniusostrich

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GM

A small smile came to Vanderhoff's face at Jason's next question.  "Well, the answer depends a great deal on what you are seeking to accomplish tonight."  He replied at first.   

He then added, "I would not be so quick to discount those that knew your parents.  As I stated, your parents were very well respected, and I am sure many of their friends and acquaintances would be happy to provide guidance and advice to their son.  But, if I may make a suggestion.  There will be plenty of other times for you to pursue your ambitions for Draco Enterprises.  Tonight, try to focus on reconnect with those that may have once known you."

"You grew up in North Bay and attended North Bay Academy correct?  A fair number of your peers are likely to be here tonight."  

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Megan Howell watched the lights of Midtown pass by outside the window as the black Bentley she was riding in made its way toward the Midnight Society mansion.  The young blonde woman was wearing a long, sleeveless black dress, over which she had a long black coat for the late winter cold that still hung over the city.  While attending an event at the Society was often something Megan looked forward to, tonight she had a number of things that were distracting her. 

"Are you certain that you and Lawrence will be alright while I am gone."  She asked as she turned away from the view outside and looked over at the man driving the Bentley.   

The man was a couple of years older than Megan, with similar blond hair and handsome features.  Lord Robert Harrow glanced over a moment with a small smile.  "We will be perfectly fine."  He replied in his distinguished British accent.  "Lawrence will be plenty busy with school, and I have no engagements next month."

"But I am going to be gone a month."  Megan responded.
 

Robert simply gave her another smile.  "I think we can survive a month without you.  Your mother is around to help if I need it.  So everything will be just fine."  He then turned and looked at her a brief moment before focusing back on the road.  "I will say I am a bit jealous.  It is not often that one gets an opportunity to travel to another dimension."

Megan smirked slightly.  "Says someone that spent over six years in a null time."

"And it was six years with you, and Lawrence, which made it all the better."  Robert added as he pulled the luxury car into the driveway to the Society mansion.

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Jason nodded at the advice he was given. "Appreciate it. I guess I'll go see if I can find any of those people now. Thanks for helping me out, Mr.Vanderhoff." Jason said as he shook Vanderhoff's hand one more time and began to walk around the party. He began to look around for any people he may know from his times at his old school.

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The soiree was already started and in the swing of things when Asad arrived.  By god, did he arrive.  It was in a Vanquish, with a copper like chromed front and hood, and a very matte black rear and under.  A joking reference to the Bronze Lion he had occasionally be termed in the financials.  The engine roared even as it idled and slowly crept up to the front of the very exclusive club.

 

The super powered billionaire stepped out, in bleeding edge of fashion with his all black suit, Cifonelli for those in the know, with a watch to match the copper effects of the car.  If there wasn't press and paparazzi at the start they were there now.  That smile was there on Amir's face, and he stepped up to give a valet the key before moving up to the front door and went on inside.

 

The not-quite-scion of the al-Misri empire was a perpetual outsider among the upperclass here in Freedom City, as he didn't feel a need to play ball with others.  As he efforts to buy local sports teams here aggressively, as well as other things.  Or that he mingled with Hollywood types as readily as financial types.  And then there was the whole superhero thing.  Certainly he was hard to hate, but he was often viewed as a bit of a big pawed puppy trouncing into things without apparent regards for the consequences.  It helped he was so good at being a foppish twit.
 

"Greetings and salutations!  All that!"  He immediately came in with an impact, jumping into conversations and flirting relentlessly.  Mingling like a wrecking ball was apt to do, acquiring a glass of whatever wine, or scotch, or champagne along the way.  Possibly in that order.

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Jason stopped his search when this black suited man busted in the mansion's door. He smirked a little at the guy's boisterous entrance. The dry atmosphere of the party seemed to get a little more interesting when the new guy walked in. Jason sauntered up to him. "I see you like making big entrances. Can't say I'm a fan of them myself but you make them look good, if nothing else". Jason holds out his hand in a friendly manner. "Name's Jason Draco. And you are?"

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Amir had inserted himself in a group with an ease as to be seamless.  When Jason approached the older businessman, blinked a little bit, and then looked to him.  There was a pause before the corner of his mouth curled up into a smile, and he shifted the champagne glass to his left hand and he stretched out his hand to the younger man.  "We'll shorten it to Amir al-Misri, owner of Summit Transnational, but then everyone knows me.  Or of me.  Sometimes I am known as Asad, or other, dirtier words, if you are a rival.  Cash cow if you own a tabloid... though... That isn't the case, but then if you did a private acquisition of one and it wasn't listed under Draco Industries, then I wouldn't know yet."

 

At that point his crooked smile became a full on smile, that winning Amir smile.  One that had defeated villainesses, charmed reporters, and was frequently punched by super strong goons.

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Jason shook Amir's hand and smiled back. "Sorry, I've been out of town for quite a while. I haven't heard of a lot of people, apparently. I'm just trying to network a little bit. You seemed like the place I should start". Jason attempted to put on the winning charm that was dormant somewhere within him, probably. "Now that I think about it, I think I have seen your face before. "Most Wild People in Freedom City" if I'm correct. Honestly, you might be the only person I was aware existed that I didn't know from 8 years ago. The city's changed a lot". Jason tried to leave the conversation open so that his night stayed interesting.

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Jennifer Owens passed her coat to the coat check attendant, her black asymmetrically strapped dress rustling slightly as she stepped towards one of the servers carrying a tray of drinks.  Lifting a champagne flute from the tray she stepped into the main hall, looking for a familiar face in the crowd of corporate heads, lawyers, and politicians.

 

Of course, noticing the time her watch displayed, it was just her luck to have actually arrived before her friend Megan had.  Megan had sent her an email asking her to come to tonight's meeting almost two weeks ago.  The young engineer mused to herself how funny it was for her friend with super-speed to be late.

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GM 

While Jason and Amir talked, a new figure came up near them.  "Jason has barely returned to Freedom City and already you are trying to poach him Amir?"  The newcomer commented, a small smile on his face.  Silver Stone was in his early 60's, slightly shorter than average and with a full head of grey hair.  Like many of the others men attending the Society's event, Stone was dressed in an expensive black suit. 

The current CEO of Draco Enterprises then focused on Jason, giving the young man a warm smile.  "Jason, it is good to see you out and about."  Stone then turned to Amir.  "Amir, good to see you as well, I believe last we saw one another was the last Board of Trustees meeting for the Hunter Museum."

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Jennifer did not have to wait very long, as once Megan had dropped off her coat at the entrance, she and Robert quickly began making their way through the small crowd that was gathered in the front of the main hall.  Spotting Jennifer across the crowd, Megan steered Robert in that direction, the pair only being slightly slowed down by greetings to some of the other guests they passed on their way. 

As they drew near, a broad smile came to Megan's face as she greeted her friend.  "Hey Jen!  How have you been?"     

Robert gave the other woman a warm smile as well.  "Good to see you again Jennifer."

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Taking another drink from her glass, Jen heard her friend and her fiance approach.  "Megs, Robert.  Good to see you too," she replied, exchanging a quick hug and a handshake with the pair respectively.  "As for how I've been, pretty much the usual.  Busy days at work, long nights in my lab or in the garage.  Some afternoons, I swear the only time I can relax is when I'm tuning up one of my project cars."

 

"But enough about me, how have you guys been doing?  It's been way too long since we've been able to talk."

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"This city is a beacon for the strange.  That is certain."  Amir was a natural with the charm, and while he was renown for being catty, he currently wasn't aiming it at Jason.  "I've been here for longer than that, if you were paying attention to the tabloids or the business news, if not then my ego is crushed.  Utterly crushed."

 

And then Silver Stone was there, and Amir flashed the smile at him.  "Poach?  I don't poach anyone.  Why must you all wound me tonight?"  He made an overdramatic sigh and he drained the glass of champagne before he laughed a little.  "Mm, hm.  Something like that, I've avoided coming to these events as it seems to be attacks every time, and it's never aimed at me.  So either I have horrible luck, or I am bad luck.  Anyway..."

 

 Turning to Jason once more, and he clapped the younger man on the back with a hint of his strength, not a lot, but there was just a bit that leaked out.  "Make sure to get your phone out to snap a few selfies of yourself with the villains with they come.  Always good for a laugh!"  Said while barking out his own laugh.

 

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Oh, great. Jason didn't mind interacting with Stone through a business relationship but he really didn't like talking to Stone on a personal level. Oh well, guess it's time to get over that phobia. The pat on the back was welcome though. It kept Jason focused. "So Mr. Amir, I was wondering if there's any places in the city I should be seeing. A lot of journalists have already labeled me a recluse."

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On ‎3‎/‎23‎/‎2016 at 4:44 AM, Azuth65 said:

Taking another drink from her glass, Jen heard her friend and her fiance approach.  "Megs, Robert.  Good to see you too," she replied, exchanging a quick hug and a handshake with the pair respectively.  "As for how I've been, pretty much the usual.  Busy days at work, long nights in my lab or in the garage.  Some afternoons, I swear the only time I can relax is when I'm tuning up one of my project cars."

 

"But enough about me, how have you guys been doing?  It's been way too long since we've been able to talk."

 

Megan smiled as Jennifer talked about how busy she had been and working on her project cars.  The blonde young woman had missed seeing her friend more, but their schedules had been hard to align.  When Jen asked about how they were, Megan shrugged slightly.  "Oh, a lot of the same, keeping up with Lawrence and his activities, while involved with some of the non-profits my mom has been part of for years.  I am sure you and Robert could have a long over-my-head discussion of some of the stuff he has been up to."  She added with a grin, glancing over at Robert. 

"I have mainly been finalizing a few papers on theoretical temporal mechanics."  Robert replied.  "But truth be told, I have been a bit more focused on rearranging some of my family's holdings to focus on that as much as I might like."

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Jennifer relaxed into the conversation, nipping a canape from a server who offered his tray to the group.  "That reminds me, in a couple weeks I'm heading out to Columbus for a fundraiser.  I actually just finished restoring, and because I could, upgrading a '59 Jaguar Roadster that is going to be auctioned off by the Dave Thomas Foundation.  It was that or raffle off a trip to the company's prototype firing range and this just seemed less likely to anger the DoD."

 

As Robert explained his own activities the engineer nodded, "Sounds like a fascinating read, though temporal mechanics aren't really my strong point.  I do however have a small library of notes on gravitons I need to sit down and organize.  Might be able to figure out the kinks in some construction tools one of the other designers have been working on.  That it'll end up another toy for AEGIS and the rest of the alphabet soup."

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