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Adjusting to the sights and sounds of Freedom was talking some considerable adjustment, let alone the various changes that had happened over the last fifty-odd years. There was a long list of technology and changes that she'd not yet mastered, from the computer to figuring out Freedom City's mass transit but the television she'd at least got the basic hang of. She was in the middle of expressing her dismay at the television when she had been rousted for something like practice - or maybe just walkies. Leilani wasn't entirely certain, and sometimes the latter could prove taxing enough to her minimal control. 


"But... someone just shot J.R.!" It wasn't so much a protest as commentary to the message alert letting her know that one of the Freedom League was there for training time. 


Fortunately, training was interesting enough take her mind off of Dynasty at least for a little while as the one upside to her rather unfortunate set of meta-abilities came with an ability to glide - at least when she focused enough to do so. This section of the waterfront was either uninhabited enough - or inhabited by those willing to look the other way when a girl went surfing through the sky as if she were riding a board made of fire. Technically, she was gliding on superheated air currents but it felt enough like the sport she loved that the movements tracked well enough to it and Frost's ability to detect heat waves let him know well in advance when she was losing control so it was no surprise when her laugh turned into a yelp and she plummeted out of the sky like a rock. 


Really, like a literal rock as her transformation remained tied to her flight or fight responses and when she hit the waves, the hiss of water turning to steam was audible as she sank quickly to the bottom. The heat trail of her walking towards the surface was clear from the broil of boiling sea water above her head as she slogged towards the docks, specifically the shore underneath them. Fortunately, Leilani didn't need to breathe when she was made of rock and lava, so there was no real concern of drowning in the time it took her to walk up the bottom of the sea floor and hopefully the sight of a lava monster emerging from the waters of the Atlantic only frightened a few drunks lingering outside the steps of the nearby and largely empty bar. 

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"Ah, as the poet says, the one that burns the hottest is always the first to fall!" Comrade Frost was there to greet her on the beach, the icy Russian looking decidedly out of place against the summery beach in his heavy parka. "Welcome to Jersey Shore, Volcanic!" he said ebulliently, bestowing a winning smile on the lovely heroine-to-be. Being around her certainly was pleasant, even if he was careful to give her no hint about the many reasons that was true. "Haven't seen that one yet, eh? No matter, is not good show. Capitalism at worst. Anyway - how fare things?" he asked her as they walked down the beach together, careful not to take her up towards civilization until she was actually ready to be around people. "I hear wonderful things about you from Gaian Knight." 

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"That's what makes it engaging," Leilani countered, her voice rumbling in the odd manner it did when she was more lava than person as her head and shoulders emerged. How she even made the noises without vocal cords was something of a question for science. The wind caught the flames that flickered around her face as Leilani tried to think calm thoughts, or something akin to that. It still felt a little weird to take deep breaths and count to ten in the hopes that her body would just... change. Unfortunately, dwelling on how weird that all was was absolutely counter productive to the goal of not melting the sand around her feet. The idea that Gaian Knight said nice things about her, however, made Leilani smile and when she did, the plates began to crack off of body, thumping to the ground. 


"That's so gross," she commented, nudging one chunk of obsidian out of the way with her toe before she bent over to scoop up one of the larger chunks. Turning it over in her hands, she turned her attention back to Frost as the next step was reigning in the rest of the heat. "That's nice of him to say. Honestly, I think the rock stuff is just easier to do. The rock... it just wanna stay put, you know? I have to make it move." She commented as she began to squash and shape the obsidian between her hands absently. "Fire, though, it just wanna burn. 'Least if there's fuel. Its not really in my control... but I do like watching shows. So what's a good show if that ones so bad? I'm in the early eighties now. Lotta shoulder pads."

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It was a technically an abuse of her privileges at the Ministry but Klara couldn’t miss an opportunity to meet one of those she knew from the war, especially as there were less of them every year. Even over ninety Petia could hold her vodka as they reminisced about the brief time Klara had helped the famed Night Witches.


<”They say you grant long life to you you favor Klara. And I’ll drink to that.”>


<”Just good Russian gene’s I’m afraid, but I’ll happily drink to you health Petia.”> with a smile Klara drained her glass and gesture for a refill


<”It seems longer since I retired, don’t let them do that to you Klara.”> the old lady waggled her fingers under the Klara’s nose.


<”Oh don’t worry trouble seems to have an uncanny ability to find me.”>


Almost on time Volcanic crashed into the bay almost right outside their door. With a grin and shrug Klara went to investigate. Of cause it had to be him whatever spirits were watching over her obviously had a very strange sense of humour.

“I always like the one where there hero’s would get out of trouble with their brains, though I never looked good in shoulder pads unfortunately. Hello again Dimitri why don’t you introduce me to you new friend?”

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Dimitri stared at Klara, throwing his arms wide. "Do...you just loiter around every Russian bar in this damnable town all night?"This is what they teach you in that London of yours." It was as friendly as he was likely to get with Klara. "Volcanic, the famous Warrior Woman. I know her from old times in Great Patriotic War." He made a grand gesture between the two women. "Klara, Volcanic is my associate. We are here for...well," He looked up at the bar, then over at Volcanic. "...what do you think, you want to try some drinks?" he offered to Volcanic, gesturing up at the seedy-looking bar that Klara had just departed. The best way to be normal is to be normal, he thought to himself. The Night Witch over the door was clear as a bell to him in Russian. "You like the bartender, she is ruddy-faced old woman. Don't worry, you set anything on fire, we blame it on British embassy party." 

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Leilani watched the interplay, automatically hunching in on herself once there was a potentially more flammable target in arm's reach. "From the 1940's?" Leilani hazarded, as she wasn't entirely certain there hadn't been another war in the decades that she'd missed. The smile on the young woman's tanned face was friendly if a little strained and she folded her arms around her midsection automatically, "I'm not trying to be rude," she apologized as really she didn't want to offend the woman, nor did she want to accidentally set her on fire. "I'm hot. I mean, my HANDS get hot." 


She paused then, frowning, "I don't know how to say that without sounding insane. Sometimes I burst into flame and its only moderately under control." She tipped her head up towards Dimitri then, "I mean, we can go get drinks, sure - I'm a little thirsty but I'm pretty sure alcohol is a bad idea. Isn't it? Unless it won't do anything anymore to me, I guess."

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"Please call me Klara, all me friends do." the taller woman said with no sense of irony "Dimitri and myself served amount the People's Heroes during the Second World war. Time has been gentle to the two of us, but not so much for Petia so you be kind old man." 


If she was offended by Volcanic's actionable didn't show it, instead offering a rather friendly smile.


"I understand I've dealt with heroes with such powers before, and perhaps it is best if you stay away for the hard stuff. It's a bit of a secret but not all Russian drink just alcohol I'm sure we can find you something to drink. And I'd be happy to pick up the tab, for both of you!"

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"Your hands are lovely," Dimitri assured her grandly, patting hers as they headed inside the bar. "Petia! You old war horse, what are you doing hanging around with giant Englishwomen? Have you a collection?" They embraced, briefly, and bestowed cheek kisses - DImitri careful not to linger too much on old bones. There was rapid-fire Russian around the bar as Dimitri took his seat at the bar itself, the dusty old place adorned with mementos commemorating the Red Army in both its Soviet and Russian flavors. It was the sort of theme bar that might have already been colonized by hipsters if the bar itself had been in a better neighborhood. 


"So, never did ask," said Dimitri, fumbling around in his parka pockets. "Petia lets me get away with things in here because we are old Russian companions. You mind if I smoke?"

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"My name's Leilani," the young woman replied, her accent thickening as she gave the syllables of her name the proper lilt. She was quiet as she followed into the bar, focusing perhaps a little too hard on keeping her temperature well within 'normal'. Internally, Leilani was starting to feel that focusing on that strange new ability was a little like focusing on her breathing, or her heartbeat, turning the autonomic responses into something stressed and strained. 


The faint heat signature actually eased when Dimitri's question caught the young woman's attention and she gave him a baffled look. "Who minds smoking?" Asked the child of the thirties. She gave a little shrug and waved her hand as if to say 'have at' before she offered Klara another small, friendly smile. "I remember. I was pretty young during the war but I remember a bit of the news. We had a lot of chatter about the war in Hilo - not too surprisingly - but I was only eight or nine when it ended, maybe."

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Klara could never quite understand how Dimitri managed to stay friendly we so many people, especially women apparent. Even though they weren’t  on the best of terms she had to admit had a little soft spot for him, which she definitely didn’t understand.


“Just remember not all of us no longer need to use their lungs, or even I guess breath superheated air. And I don’t want to find out if I can get lung cancer from those dodgy Russian cancer sticks. But I’m sure you’d just smoke them to irritate me, so just go ahead.”


She took the bottle of Vodka she’d been sharing earlier and settle it on the table with two glasses, she poured herself a healthy shot and offered the bottle to Dimitr


“May I suggest you try Mors Leilani” she got the pronunciation perfect ”It’s a fruit drink of berries, sugar and water an ancient Russian drink as venerable as Vodka. I’m sure Petia makes her own, even if it’s for cocktails.”


Her constitution could probably handle a couple more like them,then again so could Dimitri though she wasn’t planning to try to match him drink by drink.

“We probably have many tales about the war between us, but to be honest I’m interesting in your story Leilani.”

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"Well if I needed to use my lungs," declared Dimitri with an erratic wave of his hand, "I wouldn't be smoking these things. They give you cancer." He lit up and took a long drag, pulling back his hood and relaxing as the hot smoke filled his frozen lungs. "Pacific War was bad business, very bad. Americans fought like we did against fascists." He held the cigarette with the casual ease of a man raised in a different generation, holding it neatly between his fingers as he rested his arms on the table. When Petia brought out the drinks, he rose and pecked the old woman on the cheek with real warmth (well, as much as he could manage) before sitting down again. "Leilani has quite the story - may sound familiar." 

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"Sure, that sounds good," Leilani agreed with Klara and to her credit, although Leilani tensed a little at the mention of her story, the temperature didn't jump with her this time. "It's not really a very long story, I'm afraid."


Taking the drink as something to focus on, she cupped her hands around the glass and turned her gaze downward, watching the ripples in the drink with her bi-colored eyes. "I was out surfing in a storm not too far from Hilo - Hawaii," she added in case Klara was unfamiliar with the town. "I stayed out chasing the ground swell too long and a bomb rag dolled me like whoa."


She lifted one hand, gesturing one hand animatedly as she grimaced. "I was pulled down hard - drowning - and I blacked out. Not thing I know, I'm spat out and, you know, this." Leilani gestured towards herself even though she looked fully human at the moment. "An' its been like fifty years. So." She gave a sharp, frustrated gesture, "That's all I know, really. But the League's been helping me out."

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Klara listened intently as Leilani told her little tale watching carefully for the things that weren’t being said as the word themselves.


“It’s probably not much of a comfort right now but there a few out there that have been through similar experiences. I believe there’s someone, a lawyer of all things, who's originally from the early in the last century. It shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange to talk to them, some like that might be helpful for you to talk with and share experiences.”


Without an apparently concern Klara reached over and touch Leilani gently on the arm whilst offering a reassuring smile.

“For now though i’d be more than happy if you want someone to talk to about anything. I’m a lot more experience of the world that my age would suggest. I’m a lot older even that crusty old Dimitri there, though i know age doesn’t always mean wisdom.”

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"Mmm," said Dimitri, frowning a bit. He didn't want to get into another argument with Klara about the past - not when Leilani was right there. "You can do better than the two of us. Old people are just old because they have not died, not from any great wisdom." He took out his cigarette and held it between his fingers, gesticulating to make a point. "You should try beaches hereabouts. Some quiet beaches with good waters - and few people around to watch. I know you worry, but your control is good. All this time together, and you have not tried to hurl single ball of lava at my head." 

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"I'd probably hit everything but you - and its not like it would do any good if I did," Leilani replied to Dimitri with an absentminded smile, before adding, "Thank you, though. Its nice of you to say. You're probably right - can't hide away forever although I still got a lotta tv to get through."


Leilani's gaze odd gaze turned back to Klara, with one blue eye and one brown it was certainly the young woman's most noticeable feature although unrelated in fact to her 'gifts'. "Thank you," she replied with a lopsided grin, "I dunno how much it would help - seems like a lotta people with powers tend to have pretty a-typical experiences and..." She trailed off, her hands oddly graceful as they traced shapes in the air while the woman searched for words. "...it mostly helps having something to do."

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"You have the advantage of binge watching whole season at a time, some of us had to wait months sometimes between seasons."


Klara could easily understand completely having come to the world with a burning passion to help all it's people, something the Soviets quickly dampened though never extinguished completely.


"Just don't feel you have to do the hero think, once you have control of you powers. I spent the last twenty years in relatively normal circumstances, raising my three beautiful daughter. I stayed at home in suburbia whilst my wife went over to work."

Thinking about though it might not be quite as "normal" as Leilani was use to.

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"Hrm." Dimitri made a noise like a man experiencing indigestion. "Is a little early to be marrying Leilani off, Klara," he commented dryly, stubbing out his cigarette on his palm. "I think you would dislike retirement, my volcanic princess," he commented to Leilani. "When there is crisis, you show up anyway - might as well make career of it and get salary and benefits." He snorted. "Of course, in America, half the time you do it out of goodness of your heart, because Americans are...ah, perfectly lovely people," he said with a wink Leilani's way. "You deserve something for all the time you lost. Might as well be cheering crowds." 

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"I don't make a very inspiring figure when I go all rock and fire," Leilani laughed, her dual colored eyes crinkling up at the corners in humor. "Terrifying maybe but I think that's less likely to result in adoring throngs. That's alright, though. I've never really been a fan of crowds. When the haole -" Leilani coughed sharply, cutting the word off and giving a small shake of her head like she'd said something perhaps a little rude.


"Sorry, when the tourists come in, it always made me tetchy. Seems like its way worse now too. So many people," she gave a little gesture of her hands towards the windows and the cities beyond before she tipped her head towards Dimitri with a sidelong smile, "But he's right. I think suburbia might be more distressing a thought than being attacked by the monster of the week."

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Never got the parades thing either, though I think my time during the war spoiled me of such things." she glanced at Dimitri but didn't say any more, she'd never been well served by the Soviet system.


"I guess the idea is to have a quiet place you can go and be normal , for me it suburbia for you it might be a place like this." She waved her arm around the bar. "Because I find heroes that are full on all the time are either insufferable or burn out quickly."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Is easy for you to say, Klara, you are Amazonian giantess from steppes," commented Dimitri with unusual mildness when it came to the subject of his former teammates. "Biggest challenge is chandeliers in homes." He ignited his butane lighter as they spoke, his eyes drifting down to the hissing flame. "Some of us are forever on because we are forever on." He held his hand lightly over the flame, almost immediately snuffing the fire as his anti-warm body drew the heat from its burning contents. "But you are right," he conceded. "There is place for humanity in business. Hence such fine things as bars, and surfing, and life!" He put away the lighter and looked back at the others. "Is like with any other profession. Time for self is what one needs." 

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Leilani shifted slightly in her seat, uncomfortable as she demurred, "I just got this power. Pretty sure calling yo'self hero is something that you earn." Absently, she shifted again to let her hand fall on Dimitri's forearm, the movement casual. Her control was growing, though, especially when she didn't over-think it and the hand that rested on his sleeve continued to stay warm despite the draw from the thermovore. 


"You gotta big family then?" She invited to Klara, shifting the topic as she left her hand in place. Switching to using her free hand to pick up her glass, she continued on, "Kids and grandkids and all?"

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“Not even my Great-Grandmother had ever lived on the Steppe’s, I’d never even seen them until I visited the world of man.” she knew Dimitri long enough not to challenge him on the rest of his statement, she knew there was a lot of sadness in his past


“Well a lot of being a hero is as much about up here and down here.” she pointed to her head and heart “Than what powers you have, Petia is probably the great hero of all of us here.”


She raised her glass before downing her drink and giving Leilani a big smile.


“But now the important stuff, family! My wife and I have three lovely daughters, of which I have many pictures I can show you. I took time off to raise them and now they’ve gone out into the world.”

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Dimitri laid his hand lightly on Leilani's, the contact having become familiar in the last few months as a way of keeping the other woman settled. "Well, don't call just any meta hero. Am confident of great success - Volcanic, greatest hero of waves! Give all those Atlanteans and Deep Ones and Magmawomen something to think about, eh?" As often when talking with the ex-Soviet, his manner started out serious, but he gave her a wink by the end of the conversation. "Be careful with Klara, she will tell you such tales of children and theirs! Is like Fleur de Joie and flowers, but ever more so." He thought for a moment, then hmmed. "Speaking of cheeldren, will have to discuss, ah, birds and bees. I know, I know!" he added quickly, "nothing you want to hear from old Frost! Maybe Lady Tiamat would be so kind - better to know about such things before such moments happen." 

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"I might be willing to settle for not burning through all the shoes I own in a week," Leilani replied in the same humorous vein. She'd actually gotten much better with keeping her clothes intact through a transformation. Her shoes, however, were inevitably a lost cause. "As to the birds and the bees, well, I think that's a sort of far off concern. I have to scrub char marks from the floor when a scary movie startles me. I'm reluctant to even hug the overly flammable. I don't think kids are going to ever be in my cards."


To say nothing of her dubious mystical biology. She gave Frost's hand a squeeze then as if she were comforting him. "But that's not really new and sounds like my sister, Laka, did more than her duty to carry on the family. Are you going to stay home and raise the next generation or is it back to active work for you then, Klara?"

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“I wouldn’t be so sure about never having children they are many places, like my home city, who know advanced mystical and scientific means to create children.” she left out the part about not being allowed back home, and even avoided giving Dimitir a dirty look


“In fact a mutual friend of ours who never expected to, is going to have a baby very soon. Give my love when you see Talya next Dimitri, I hope for an invite to the baby shower.”


She gave Dimitri something not seen for quite some time, a genuine friendly smile

“I’ve just spent twenty years raising my daughters, and whilst I’ll say no to another daughter, I’m itching to get back into action. Not that that might change if grandchildren come along...”

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