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High Earth Orbit
The Lighthouse
March 8, 2016 

Amara Val-Ren slowed her velocity considerably as she drew close to the blue and green planet that was the third from this system's star.  The young Naram, known to many throughout the galaxy as Paradigm of the Praetorians, had been to this system before, but this was the closest she had been to Terra, the world so famous (or infamous depending on who you asked) among a number of the major spacefaring civilizations of this era.  Soon she was going to have an even closer look at the planet, but first certain protocols had to be followed. 

Amara's right arm was wrapped around her teammate, Moon-Moth, as she flew them both through the void of space.  The pair had arrived in the system a short time ago, by way of the wormhole that now connected it to other parts of the galaxy.  They had made a brief stop at the small space station the Freedom League maintained to monitor the wormhole, to arrange for their arrival at the group's main headquarters in orbit around Terra.  It was this large station that the two Praetorians were now drawing near. 

The reason for their visit to Terra was to interview two natives of the world regarding the time they had spent among the Spectrum Knights in that group's original headquarters.  The interview had been arranged with the assistance of the Star Knights, which had a representative both in the Praetorians and the Freedom League.  The Freedom League would be overseeing the interview at a facility they maintained on the surface of Terra.  Amara fully understood the need for having the Freedom League as an intermediary in this, given the misunderstandings that had taken place when the two Terrans had been discovered among the Spectrum Knights when a joint Praetorian/Star Knight task force had managed to assault the Spectrum Knight headquarters, a task force Amara had led. 

Slowing even further as they neared the Lighthouse, Amara guided herself and Moon-Moth over toward the airlock they had been instructed to use.

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GM 

The Lighthouse 

Star Knight Maria Montoya stood waiting just inside the Lighthouse as the two Praetorians entered the airlock and it cycled through pressurizing the chamber to allow them into the space station.  While Maria had not worked with any of the Praetorians during the Incursion, she had heard from other Star Knights who had.  And of course she knew Cavalier, who was the Star Knight's representative on the team. 

"Welcome to the Lighthouse."  She stated as the cycle finished and the inner door slide open.  "I am sri Montoya, known here on Earth as Star Knight." 

A short distance from Freedom Hall
City Center, Freedom City, New Jersey 

Aquaria Innsmouth and Jessie White were riding in the back of a van on their way to Freedom Hall.  Seated back there with them was a young attorney from Project Freedom, Bill Leonard.  Bill was in his late twenties, with light brown hair and was dressed in a grey suit.

"Okay, so I understand that these...'Praetorians'...are just wanting to interview you as witnesses, so there should not be any concerns with answering their questions.  But if for any reasons I think there are questions that could cause either of you some problems, then I will raise an objection and we can see if things can be worked out that they can ask some other question that does not have the same problems.  Similarly, if any of the questions are troubling to you and I have not spoke up, feel free to look over to me and ask to speak with me in private."

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Jessie White had dressed up for this interview, not in the black and gray costume she wore as Singularity, but in a rather severe-looking maroon business suit she'd bought off the rack when they'd had to do practice job interviews at Project Freedom. Her blonde hair was pinned up in a neat bun, and altogether she looked quite different from the person who'd accidentally gone to space in a sweatsuit and sneakers months ago. In fact, she'd have looked very poised and put together if it weren't for the fact that she couldnt' stop wringing her hands. "Do you know how long this is probably going to take?" she asked Mr. Leonard. "I have classes today, and I'm already on academic probation. I don't like to have to miss." 

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Moon-moth had rather enjoyed the ride, he'd often floated ponderously out in the empty vastness of space with his own casual levitation, it was strange that something so simple as a increase in speed could alter the peace and serenity to exhilleration and excitement as points of light blurred to lines as they rushed passed.

 

Mostly he'd chosen to remain quiet on the journey only intermittently mentioning small matters that crossed his mind as they raced through the space says but once he found himself on the space station he felt rather more talkative, eagerly extending his carapaced hand towards the starlight before him "Greetnings, Starknight; It is pleasurable to be here today." He chirps in English, even as with his spare hand he giddily gestured in lanturnian, thanks to the translation spell he'd been advised to perform prior to his departure. "My names are myothizar A'lira! Known as moon-moth in old delzatri territories; I comes in pieces." He quickly adds for good measure.

Edited by Exaccus

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Aquaria put her hand flat against the cold, flat glass of the car window and pulled it away with a faint shlick, watching the three-fingered pattern left behind by her touch slowly fade against the glass. "You shouldn't have to stay long," she croaked, her guttural voice echoing oddly in the small space of the car. "I'm the one they want," she went on. She'd thought about wearing her armor for this meeting - but she couldn't justify it to herself when they weren't in space. So instead she'd worn her usual big, billowing hoodie and bell-bottomed pants, the former pulled up high to hide her Deep One features from any humans who happened to glance through the window of the van. 

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Amara could not help but smile slightly at Myothizar's last comment.  "I believe the phrase is 'come in peace' my friend."  She commented before focusing back Star Knight.  "Greetings sri Montoya.  I am Amara Val-Ren, also known and Paradigm and current Imperatrix of the Praetorians."  The Naram extended her hand as well after Star Knight had shaken Moon-Moth's. 

"Thank you again for helping to arrange for this meeting.  Hopefully we will be able to learn something that may help us in containing and dealing with the Spectrum Knights."  Amara added.  "And we appreciate the assistance of the Freedom League in facilitating this as well."

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GM

 

The Lighthouse 

Star Knight could not help but chuckle slightly at Moon-Moth’s inadvertent joke.  "It is a pleasure to meet you Myothizar A'lira."  She replied as she shook Moon-Moth's hand before shaking Paradigm's in turn.  "I am glad I could help Paradigm.  While we have thankfully been spared any trouble with the Spectrum Knights, it is certainly something we are happy to try to help address." 

The golden armored Star Knight led the two Praetorians into the central corridor of the Lighthouse, the pair passing a number of other human technicians along the way, who could not help but stare slightly at the two aliens.  "The meeting will take place down in Freedom City in the League's original headquarters.  We have teleporters here on the Lighthouse that can take us down.  It will allow a more discrete arrival.  People on Earth can get a little touchy sometimes when aliens just descend from the sky out of the blue." 

Downtown Freedom City 

"Well, while I believe that you are the one they most wish to speak with, I would not say they 'want you."  Mr. Leonard replied to Aquaria's comment.  "They have specifically stated this is only to question you as a witness, not to build any sort of case against you." 

The attorney then turned back to Jessie as he added, "but I believe Aquaria is right.  They will likely ask you some questions, but she is likely to be the focus, so you should be able to leave earlier if necessary."

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"Okay," Jessie replied with a nod. She looked down at her hands and, with some mental effort, forced them to stillness. "But if there's going to be any trouble, I'm not leaving. Nothing's going to happen, though," she told Aquaria. "They can't get you in any trouble down here, they don't have jurisdiction on Earth." She was pleased with herself for wrangling the legal term, even as she snuck a glance at the lawyer to see if she was even close to correct. "All they want is to find out what you did in training and stuff, things that might help keep other people from getting hurt by the Spectrum Knights. And maybe get some help for the ones who got sucked in like us, who didn't realize what was actually going on." 

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"Oh ho! Your skies is blues? How fascinatingly interesting." Moon-moth says drawing attention away from his little lingual whoopsie "Personally I liking purple better but blue is good...betters than brown at least." He rambles as he follows the lady starknight down the halls, waving at every human he encounters enthusiastically. 

 

"Buts enoughs of my babblings, saying you we're to interviews the witnessings planetside? Most unusual but interesting...normally one of the planets satellites is made neutral ground for such purposes." He states simply recounting dealings in the old delzatri empire. 

 

"Can you telling me more about the witnesses?" He asks hopefully

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Aquaria didn't say much after that - instead taking out her moisturizing gel and rubbing it on her arms and face as they went, rolling up her sleeves to expose the greenish-white flesh beneath. Jessie knew it was a sign of how nervous Aquaria was that she was rubbing herself down again; after all, she'd done that even before they left the apartment. But with her hood up and her eyes mostly in darkness; and squishy liquid against her skin, Aquaria could be comfortable on the outside even if she wasn't on the inside. When their car approached Freedom Hall, Aquaria ducked down deep inside her hoodie as they passed by the usual tourists eager for the sight of anyone who might be going to meet a superhero; and croaked a sigh of relief when they pulled into the secure underground parking facility that would connect them to the Hall without having to brave the crowd outside. It was dark and cool down here - just the way she liked it.

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GM 
The Lighthouse 

"Well, the choice of Freedom Hall for the interviews is more tied to the fact that both Aquaria Innsmouth and Jessie White are not supposed to leave Freedom City except in limited situations."  Star Knight replied.  "While we could have requested permission for them to travel up to the Lighthouse, we did not want to cause them any potential problems by making too many requests for such special dispensations." 

"As for information about them, both have criminal records in Freedom City, but have been granted early parole from their sentences after completing a rehabilitation program designed for superpowered individuals."  The Freedom League member continued as she and the two Praetorians continued their casual walk through the station toward the teleportation platform.  "Aquaria is a member of a native species of Earth called 'Deep Ones,' who are aquatic and primarily live in Earth’s oceans.  Deep Ones are not particularly numerous, but a number of them attacked Freedom City several years ago.  Aquaria was not involved in that incident.  The crimes for which she was arrested involved some small thefts as well as a conflict with police and a superhero named Nereid." 

"Jessie is an alternate dimension version of the superhero known as Wander.  She was responsible for a large number of deaths in that alternate dimension, while under the control of others.  As I understand it, she had been put through extensive psychic torture and brainwashing while in that dimension.  She was sent to this dimension along with a number of other superpowered criminals, committing a number of crimes for which she was eventually charged and imprisoned.  During that imprisonment, her psyche was rebuilt and she was able to enter Project Freedom and eventually complete the program and be rehabilitated.  Like Aquaria, she is currently on parole from her prison term and is under the recognizance of Wander." 

The three reached the room in the Lighthouse which housed the teleportation pads.  Star Knight gestured toward them.  "If you could please just join me up on these pads, this is our teleportation system that will take us down to our headquarters in Freedom City."


Freedom City 

Mr. Leonard nodded at Jessie's comment about the Praetorians having no jurisdiction on Earth.  "That is correct Jessie, whoever these Praetorians are, they cannot just try to take you.  In any event, the Freedom League would not just let them do so if they tried.  There are only wanting to learn what they can about your time with this group known as the Spectrum Knights to possible learn something that can help them in stopping the Spectrum Knights still out there committing crimes." 

Not long after the van had pulled into the underground parking lot, the driver pulled it into a parking spot.  Waiting there for them was the familiar armored figure of Deadalus.  "Good morning.  Thank you both for coming.  I am Deadalus, and I will be your escort during your time here."  He stated as Jessie, Aquaria and Mr. Leonard exited.  "If you will please follow me, we will make our way into Freedom Hall.  I have received word that the two Praetorians that will be interviewing you have arrived at the Lighthouse and should be teleporting down shortly."

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Aquaria walked along behind Daedalus, head downcast and three-fingered hands in her pockets. It was the only way to avoid stares from anyone else they'd encounter on the way - and just then she wasn't in the mood to be stared at by Surfacers and their questions. At this time of year, she probably wasn't even going to be called the Christmas Frog again - a label which at least made the juveniles smile their tiny, toothy smiles. Jessie could see Aquaria's head bobbing up and down as they entered the elevator, and knew her friend was mouthing a prayer. Mother Hydra and Father Dagon - remember us as we walk into the mouths of those who are not your people. 

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Paradigm listened quietly to Star Knight provide information about Aquaria and Jessie, as the three continued through the Lighthouse toward the teleportation pads.  The fact that the two had previous criminal records was not something she would hold against them, as it appeared the two had been rehabilitated from that behavior.   

While Paradigm had not met Wander during the Incursion, her position on the Coalition Counsel meant that she had read reports about the Terran woman.  Wander had been impressive in all the actions she had participated in, in particular the assault on Garron-9, which had provided the opening for another group to disable the Communion mothership and end the Incursion. 

Like so many other worlds, Terra had made its contribution in the fight against the Communion.  While the fleet that had attacked Terra had been rather small, it had accompanied the Communion’s wormhole weapon, which the Terra suerpowered individuals had been able to delay, and eventually destroy.  It was impossible to know for certain how many worlds had been spared the fate of Lor-Van and others as a result of the Terran's keeping the wormhole weapon stuck at the edge of their solar system for months.   

Focusing back on the present as they entered the teleportation chamber, Paradigm nodded slightly as she walked up onto the pad.  Once Moon-Moth and Star Knight had joined them, there was a loud humming and then a flash of light.  Then the three were in a similar chamber, but slightly different chamber, down on the surface of Terra.

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GM 

Daedalus led Aquaria, Jessie and Mr. Leonard through a security check point and into one of the lower levels of Freedom Hall.  From there they took an elevator up to the second floor of the League’' headquarters and made their way into one of the smaller conference rooms.   

There was a medium sized table in the center of the room, around which there were a number of leather chairs.  Large windows provided a view of City Hall outside.  A large pitcher of water was set out in the center of the table, with a number of glasses beside it.   

"Please have a seat."  Daedalus said with a gesture towards the empty chairs on one side of the table as he moved towards one toward one end.  "Let me know if there is anything you might want other than water."

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Aquaria sat down awkwardly in one of the chairs, its rounded interior not shaped quite right for her posterior, and squeaked around on it a few times until she settled into a posture that looked like she was leaning back from the opposite side of the table. At the sight of the water, she first poured Jessie a glass, then set the pitcher directly in front of her. "Thank you," she croaked softly. "Will they be here soon?" Shifting nervously in her seat as Daedalus spoke, she reached down and suddenly pulled off her hoodie, exposing her muscular, tattooed upper torso, and began spreading her hydrating cream over her back and chest. She didn't want to be the least bit dried out when the Praetorians got here. 

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Moon-Moth found it strange to be teleported by something outside of his own power,it was sort of like so done hooking their finger into his pallet and pulling him through an emergency induction port, he hoped that his passengers didn't have to go through that as he stepped off the pad briskly.

 

"It has been a pleasing time speaking to you sir starknight I hopings next times we can conversing it is over less troubling matters." He says sedately as he shakes himself off a little, twisting his head this way and that and flick flick flicking his antenna to shake off the staticy feeling the machine had given him "but for now I fears we has left our witnesses stewings much too many long."

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GM

"I would enjoy a chance to do so Moon-Moth."  Star Knight replied to the Praetorian's comments about perhaps talking about less serious topics sometime in the future.  "I have been meaning to get out to CoVic Station at some point, when I do, I will certainly stop by your headquarters there."
 

"In any event, as the League member with the second most experience in intergalactic matyers, I will be sitting in on your interview."  She continued, as she led the two Praetorians out of the teleporter room and down a hallway until they reached a conference room. 

Daedalus had just been about to respond to Aquaria's question when the door to the room began to open.  "It would appear that they are here."  He commented, as Star Knight led the two Praetorians into the room and closed the door behind them.

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Aquaria looked across the table at the Praetorians, her big goggle eyes swiveling forward to look Moon-Moth up and down for a long second. "Behold," she croaked after a moment's pause, her voice the deep rumble of an aquatic species on land. "Welcome, Praetorians, to the World." She spread her hands on the table, big, thick-fingered the triple digits wide apart as if she was thinking about springing. "I remember you," she said, focusing on Paradigm. "You were the one who was there. You said bad things."  To Moon-Moth's eyes, the aquatic humanoid was adorned with tattoos and other markings that bespoke an ancient arcane legacy - he'd come looking for a science-terrorist but found a female from a species that worshiped some of the great and terrible gods of Creation, the symbols of her people arranged in blue layers across her green and white hide. 

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Jessie was seated next to Aquaria, in a seat that offered her a clear view of both the doorway and the window. She sat perfectly still and appeared calm, but for the fact that her eyes scanned the room more often than necessary, and her breaths came a little faster and more shallowly than was typical for Terran women. She watched Aquaria as that notable spoke, then turned her wide-eyed attention to the interrogators across the table. "What do you want us to tell you?" she asked quietly, her voice inflectionless. 

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Star Knight had seemed about to speak, but instead moved over to have a seat near Daedalus.  "I guess some of you know each other already."  She said quietly.

Paradigm looked at Aquaria and Jessie, recognizing them both from the encounter at the Spectrum Knight's base of operations.  The Naram's expression was friendly, not angry or otherwise aggressive as she gave a small nod to Aquaria's statement.  "Yes, I was there, although the words you heard from me were not accurate.  We later learned that the translation system the Spectrum Knights had in place was rather selective in its translations.  Had I know you were Terran, I would have used English, and perhaps we could have avoided a lot of unpleasantness."  She stated in accented English.

"I am Amara Val-Ren, also known as Paradigm, current Imperatrix of the Praetorians."  She stated before gesturing to Moon-Moth.  "This is one of my fellow Praetorians, Myothizar A'lira, also known as Moon-Moth."
 

Looking back at Jessie, Paradigm noted how on edge she appeared.  "We would appreciate any information you might be able to provide us."  She began.  "Despite the capture of Bie Yie and several of the other leaders of the Spectrum Knights from the base the two of you were taken to, new Spectrum Knights have continued to appear throughout the quadrant.  These newer Spectrum Knights might be less organized than before, but they are no less violent, causing as much death and destruction as they can before they can be stopped.  We need to understand more about how individuals are selected for the organization.  Perhaps you could begin with how you were contacted and transported to the Spectrum Knights?"

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Moon-Moth was surprised to see the markings etched upon the very being of the person before him, the touch of elder gods with their alien minds so vast and unknowable rarely seemed to favor lifeforms that might've otherwise arisen from a world so much as their pseudonatural mockeries of gibbering flesh, fanged orifices and unblinking eyes, but this was not why he was here.

 

"Thanking yous, it's very nicely times being here's. Those are some very interesting markings you is having if I may say.." He responds calmly as he rests his hands on the table before him for a moment before pouring himself a glass of water, holding it to his face and flicking his thin ship of a tongue into its depths one or twice, antenna ever alert as he quietly requests some "Soo-gar" for his drink, turning over the already established facts as his mind ticks meticulously with ponderous thoughts.

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"They sent me a trident, the holy symbol of my people. All I had to do was take it in my hand and I was transported to their island - along with Jessie." She didn't speak of how the trident itself had been worked and reworked by her under Bie Yie's guidance, first into armor she could summon with a thought, then into armor itself - she didn't understand how the magic of that worked, and she was still afraid that the armor would be taken from her if she spoke about it too much. "They promised me justice," she croaked sadly, throat inflating and deflating unhappily as she looked down at the table before her. "Do you know what that meant? We have nothing in this world but the gods whose marks I bear," she croaked, looking up at the Praetorians. "My people starve in the barren parts of the waters and are hunted like animals when we try to feed ourselves. All I wanted to do was to try and be a hero for them. But it was all LIES." The last word was a deep bass bellow. 

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Moon-moth very nearly sprays the room with his drink as he's told about these apparent atrocities but manages to compose himself enough to avoid derailing the interview, it was the internal affairs of the planet and therefor none of his business, though he glances at the attending heroes to briefly display his dismay he pursues it no further.

 

"I can't imagines what that must be likes." He admits as he carefully picks through his words "That promise must've meant a great deal to you, maybe they was hoping so, maybe they wanted your justice to be bloody and swift, that you are here before me is proof of yous personal strengths." He says as soothingly as possible to the obviously distressed amphibian.

 

"You do not need to explains yourself to us." He gently reminds her "we just wanting to keep such mighty weapons out of such savage hands and appreciating your helps in this endeavour."

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GM 

"That is not…"  Star Knight began to reply in response to Aquaria's comments about the Deep Ones, her tone defensive, but she was stopped by Daedalus’ outstretched hand. 

"The relationships between humans, Serpent People, Atlanteans and Deep Ones is complicated, and goes back thousands of years."  The immortal inventor then stated.  "Each side has a rather different view of how hostilities began, and who is the aggressor.  The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, and there is blame that can be placed on all sides."

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Aquaria's response did not surprise Paradigm as much as it had Moon-Moth.  While it was upsetting to hear Aquaria's statements about how her people were treated, it helped confirm something the Praetorian Imperatrix and others had begun to suspect about how the Spectrum Knights identified new recruits.  Of course it did serve to add new tension into an already tense meeting.   

"We are not here to pass judgement or level blame on anyone."  Paradigm replied after Moon-Moth's statements.  "I am sorry to hear of your people’s plight Aquaria.  But I believe you may yet be more of hero for your people than you realize." 

"I am afraid to say that it is not at all uncommon for worlds with multiple sentient species to have long histories of violence and prejudice between those species.  More often than not, on those worlds where the species have learned to live together with peace and equality, it is usually because individuals on each side came forward to present a new path.  You have clearly developed a strong friendship with Jessie," Paradigm continued, glancing over toward the quiet Terran, "someone traditionally one of your people's enemies.  I cannot say it will be easy, or even come to be in your lifetimes, but your example could serve to create a bridge between both your species by changing existing attitudes." 

"Although it may be painful to recall, I would like to hear more about the promises they made to you about justice."  The Praetorian then asked.  "As Myothizar has suggested, I believe this is a key element of their identifying potential recruits and indoctrinating them."

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