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[IC] A Day at Starbase

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Friday, July 15th , 2016

One of many Starbase Coffees, North End, Freedom City

Noon

 

 

It had been an average Friday so far. The weather was nice, and so were most people. It had been rather quiet here in the North End recently, not a whole lot of news-worthy ongoings. The fact FCU’s semesters had ended probably played a major role in that. July was usually when the North End was most quiet, and quite a few locals were aware of that.

 

Still, during lunch there was not a whole lot of action. A few people walking around the streets, most of them sitting in one of the many restaurants and coffee stores. Amongst them, Dimitri Peshkov and Leilani Keli'i , member and mentee of the Freedom League Auxiliary, enjoying some time off. While some people probably realized who was currently sitting over at that table, nobody brought it up. The few other people in the store seemed content just enjoying their own coffee, some typing things on their Laptops or Tablets. Among said other people, Cassidy Bauer, Freelance Photographer and secretly super-hero/villain/terrorist, depending on who you asked. The past few weeks had been rather quiet, which while nice for his health, meant that money wasn’t something he could easily spend. So, Starbase Internet it was.

 

And then, what nobody except one person in the area looked forward too. The very distinct sound of something smashing into a stationary car with high force, and the alarm sounding off afterwards. And then, just a second later, a rock flying through the Starbase’s Front Window, fortunately missing everybody inside.

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"You will do well," Dimitri was assuring Leilani. "Your mastery of your abilities is remarkable, and your adjustment to Freedom City is-" His head went around at the noise outside - and his hood came up when the rock crashed through the window. His bluish skin and white hair had attracted attention before, but now as the  temperature near him dropped enough to freeze the surface layer on his second cup of not-actually-drunk coffee, there was no doubt this was Comrade Frost, member of the Freedom League. 

 

"Pardon a moment." He winked at Leilani, trusting her to handle this situation without prompting. "Must deal with troublesome youths outside." Turning, he headed straight for the door, the air around him practically crackling with the sudden cold. "Children! What are you doing making troubles on such a fine day as this?"

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Leilani missed the noise outside; in as crowded a setting as this was, she had to focus on picking Dimitri's voice out of the ambient noise. High registers and background noises were where her hearing loss was most noticeable so when the rock crashed through the window, she started automatically. Fortunately, Dimitri was right, and she'd gotten much better at suppressing her autonomic responses and nothing erupted in fire around her; a fact she'd be proud about when she recalled it later. Instead, her attention was on the rock and the training she'd done with Gaian Knight. Her mentors were right, doing these sorts of things under duress was a much different matter than when Tarant was lobbing stones at her in practice. 

 

Raising one hand like she was going to catch a baseball, Leilani focused with her nascent senses and corrected the trajectory of the rock from its path towards her hand. "Hah!" Leilani muttered as the grapefruit sized stone smacked into her palm, but the satisfaction was short lived as Dimitri was already off to deal with whatever had caused the ruckus. "I can probably help. Here, let me just..."

 

She did pause, still holding the stone as she reached out with her other hand. Glass was just sand and she'd moved sand before, so, similar principle, right? Leilani frowned and stretched out her hand, feeling entirely absurd for the moment before the glass shards began to move under her direction. It would have been easier but she was very focused on not accidentally nicking any of the reasonably distressed people. "I got it, I got it." She muttered mostly to herself as the glass shifted under her attention and clumped into one round ball that at least wouldn't cause anyone harm. "Sorry about your window," she added to the barista before heading for the opening. 

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The last few days had been rather boring. Not a whole lot happening on either front, the heroic or the job one. Still, that just meant Cass would have to look harder to find opportunities. Patrol more, write more Emails, that kinda stuff. And yet, here he was, sitting at Starbase. The one he’d been in was the one with the best coffee. Unfortunately, the internet they offered was a bit spotty. Enough to quickly check the inbox and then get to writing some Emails, yes, but not a whole lot more.

 

And then, action. Now, most people would probably have freaked out. Others would be upset. Well, Cassidy Bauer just saw an opportunity in that. At last, something for Bonfire to do.

Of course, he’d have to somehow become Bonfire. Running to the toilet now would’ve just been suspicious, no need to make it complicated. Nobody in here knew his name anyways, and just “bright red hair” wouldn’t mean soon everybody knew who he was. His head suddenly became more transparent, before being replaced completely by a cloud of smoke resting on his shoulders.

 

In the meantime, it had appeared some other supers had been sitting inside this store too. Less attention towards Bonfire, that wasn’t that good. But then again, whatever was outside suddenly had a lot lower chances at getting away with this. He put down his cup of coffee, before joining the other two with heading outside.

 

“Can’t a man enjoy his coffee around these parts?”

Edited by olopi

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GM

 

 

Standing outside was a young woman, a bandana dragged across the lower parts of her face, her blonde hair cut short. She was wearing a black tank-top and cargo pants, the kind of outfit that was rather common yet somehow still stood out. In her hands, a baseball bat. Her face showed aggression, and her stance confirmed it.

 

Then, when Dimitri appeared at the door, she took a surprised step backwards. Clearly, she had not expected dealing with a superhero, much less a member of the FLA. Still, her stance told of anger. When, right afterwards, Leilani stood there too, holding a ball of glass in her hand, hesitation was clearly visible in the woman’s eyes. And then, when Bonfire joined in too, his head replaced by smoke, showed up next to the other two, it was clear that she had gained much more than she’d bargained for. It wasn’t hesitation any more, it was fear more than anything.

 

“Uuuh. Can we just pretend all of this never happened?”

 

She slowly backed off, taking careful steps backwards, holding out her bat across her body in front of her. The only emotion in her voice was fear, and her body was shaking slightly.

Edited by olopi

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Comrade Frost shook his head and said, not unsympathetically, "Not with so many witnesses, child." He pointed to the patrons inside the cafe, then the people on the street. Ah, to be young and have so few sins to regret! "What brought you to this place?" he inquired curiously. As he spoke, he circled casually to one side, making sure that there would be no escape further down the street. If he did let the young woman run, it would be on his own terms - though perhaps Volcanic would have to distract the young fellow who had just appeared. Young heroes can be so self-righteous! "Coffee is all right," he opined, "though I must admit I never actually tasted of it..." 

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"No one wanna hurt anyone," came Leilani's reassurance as she took a step through the window sill before she took in the smokey figure at her side with a sidelong glance. It wasn't exactly easy to read features when they didn't entirely exist. Tossing the ball from one hand to another absently in the way someone might knead a ball of dough, Leilani wasn't exactly sure of the social dynamics of this sort of thing. Her accent thickened as she gave a small nod of her chin to the stranger, "Hey, buddy. How you?"

 

Her gaze nervously flickered back to where Frost cut off the woman's retreat subtly, "Yeah, s'okay. It's no Kona but what can you do? Not bad enough to throw rocks over."

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This had turned interesting. Had Cass met this woman before? It kind of felt like it. He wasn’t sure, but something about her suggested that yes, he’d seen this person before. Then again, maybe it was just the fact she was his age and looked similar to a few people he’d occasionally talked to. Maybe he knew her, maybe not. Well, Bonfire certainly didn’t, and that was who was on scene right now.

 

He looked around himself. These two somehow seemed familiar. The man mainly. He’d seen him before, but where was it? Newspapers? TV? Not that he owned either of those, he simply went out into the city if he wanted access to either. He went through the people he’d heard of. No, no…. ah yeah, that could be it. He didn’t know the name, but he knew that this guy was part of the FLA. Big guns, huh. Not quite what Cass had expected, and probably far too much for a situation like this.

 

He turned his attention to the woman speaking to him, clearly the three of them were enough to handle this situation even without full attention.

 

“Nice change of pace. It’s been a bit quiet lately, feels good to have some smoke goin’ around again. “

 

Edited by olopi

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The woman continued taking careful steps backwards, even if it was getting ever more difficult with one side being cut off by the man circling. She didn’t want to be here anymore. All this had turned out wrong. Her body’s shaking continued to intensify, as she looked around frantically. Right afterwards, she took a deep breath, then responded to the question she had been asked.

 

“I …. I was going to send a message. Tell ‘em that things aren’t what the media tells ‘em. Things are bad. And writing letters isn’t gonna help. I tried.  Blog posts? Yeah, good luck. It’s …. Nothing helps. This is the only way we’ll get attention. Sure, it’ll not be good attention, but it’ll be attention. And I’m willing to deal with the … deal with the consequences. “

 

The shaking continued, as some tears started forming in her eyes and her mouth started trembling. She continued holding out her bat in front of her, as basic protection, but her grip clearly weakened.  She did her best to look tough, but it wasn’t working.

 

Edited by olopi

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"At the coffee shop?" inquired Dimitri curiously, turning his head to study the business in question and shrugging under his parka, wondering exactly what social cause had brought the young woman out with vandalism on her mind. "Is...this one of those places where the beverage is actually weasel dung?" he asked, alarm growing in his voice. The truth was he didn't really follow coffee very closely, not being a drinker of the stuff except socially. Privately, he was beginning to wonder if a night in a holding cell might not do the young would-be radical a bit of good. If nothing else, she might learn to plan her targets a little better! "Who is we, young lady? Is it you young people with your troubles?"

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"Sure, sure," Leilani agreed distractedly with the smoke-headed super hero, her attention split between that and the conversation going on between Dimitri and the young rebel. Glancing around at the scene, and the reasonably distressed by-standers, Leilani pinched the bridge of her nose. This was really not what she'd pictured for super-hero work. 

 

"Kid," she said, a touch of impatience in her tone, "I got nothing but sympathy for someone who's got some impulse control issues and a bit of a lack of forethought but just lower the bat and chill, okay? If he was gonna take you down, he'd have done it already. You got a town here thick with people who give a damn and you got one, clearly, standing right in front of you. Why don't you just tell him your troubles and we can all move along outta the street and away from people who are..." Leilani paused, "Who are starting to take cell phone videos? What's wrong with you?" She scolded one bystander who had decided it was worth capturing the micro-drama on his cell phone. "Not everything needs to be recorded on a video phone!"

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Bonfire took a few steps around, towards the street on the opposite side of his heroic colleague. The other two seemed to have the handle on the social aspect of this encounter, no need to get involved in it himself. Dealing with possible escape routes was something he could still help with. So far, no crowd control really was necessary, beyond telling people not to record it. And that was something the stone-controlling woman already was doing. So, perhaps for now it was best to leave any direct interaction to those more experienced.

 

If this went the way he expected it to go, he could always use his reputation to ease the tension. For now, he just continued taking small steps towards the street, using his presence to make sure the gathering crowd did not get too close to the action. One never knew when things turned hot.

Edited by olopi

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The young woman took one step after the other, still slowly backing off. Then, she bumped into the wall behind her. So much for that. She stumbled a bit, not expecting to have already gotten that close to the wall, but caught herself while still standing upright. Her eyes darted around, now being completely cornered. Then, her eyes ended up looking at Comrade Frost. She began speaking, slowly, panic still in her voice.

 

“Wasn’t …. Wasn’t targeting anything specific. I just …. Big windows make for nice targets, okay? … “

 

She stopped, being addressed by Volcanic. As she listened, her facial expression changed. Less fear and panic, more sadness and anger. Which one? Hard to tell, probably both to some degree. Her face became more stern, yet at the same time tears started to build up. Her voice was filled with disappointment, anger, and many more things. Yelling more than anything, occasionally stopping to get more air.

 

“Care? Yeah, care. … Have you been to Greenbank any time recently? Go there and tell me you all care. No, you don’t care about us. You care about the people here in downtown, that’s it. None of you “heroes” give a ---- about us. The police don’t, you don’t, the media don’t. … "

 

"…. You all just want your fancy reputation. Us? We’re the people stuck with everything you don’t want to do. “

 

By now the tears were freely streaming down her face. Yet, she had also taken a step back forward, her stance more imposing. She gripped her baseball bat more tightly, but also lowered it, it no longer shielded her upper body.

Edited by olopi

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Dimitri's brows furrowed - and he considered a sharp response before remembering the nearby presence of Leilani and Bonfire - a fellow he did not recognize but who obviously had superpowers. Harsh words with so many witnesses present would only be a trouble for him later if people asked why a Freedom League member was speaking so poorly to some harmless street anarchist; and Leilani would probably be offended. Or worse, think him an old man. "Why don't you show us your troubles, child?" he suggested diplomatically. "Pause a moment and speak with young people," he said, turning and heading inside the cafe. "Must go use fancy Freedom League expense account to cover damages!" Inside the cafe, he headed straight for the fellow who he had recognized as the general manager, ready to dictate terms with the skinny young man with the goatee. 

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"The hell you say?" Leilani's chin tipped up, her eyes flashing for a moment. The heat spiked only momentarily around the elemental and she propped her hands on her hips, ratcheting her temper - and the threatening flames - back under her control. She gestured towards Frost's retreating back with one abrupt movement, "That man there an' the League with him, they showed up when I went all fire and eruption on a beach - in Hawaii. It didn't even make the news here. No, of course it didn't. They probably kept about a hundred tourists from getting burned to a crisp - and me from being a murderer but, yeah, they do it for the glory. It's a whole lotta glory there. And that was one hour - one - of one day."

 

She frowned, shaking her head angrily, "Super powers don't mean they can make the world perfect and you think that cuz they got em that they don't got problems too? They do a hell of a lot to help and even though you committed, like, what - two, three crimes? - He gonna go pay for the window and probably still help you with your problems to boot. You ungrateful. Put that down, sit your butt down and you wait right there." Volcanic tsked once, shaking her head disapprovingly, "And watch your language."

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Oh. So much for his reputation possibly helping here. Bonfire’s reputation did anything but help here. Sure, he’d done a fair bit of good work, but, yeah, he was a glory-seeker. He had gained some popularity, and it was what kept him from ending up on the street, so obviously he would continue to do things that gave him public attention. Reputation was important, especially after being branded all kinds of things just a few months prior.

 

Best to stay quiet, yeah. The crowd had already taken a few steps backwards when the woman had taken steps forward, and her yelling made everybody take another step as well. Good enough, meant less problems. Especially when the heat suddenly increased. Not a lot, but it was noticeable. And it was not his own doing. Last time the heat had suddenly increased around Cass it had been nuclear materials … but clearly there were none here? Ah, the lady holding those glass shards, then. Fire, huh? Interesting. Perhaps she had some tips on how to use all those fire-powers. Cass had his, but clearly one could do more with them?

 

 

Edited by olopi

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The inside oft he café looked clean, almost as if it hadn’t been the target of an attack just seconds ago. The only thing still telling of the attack was the empty window-frame, everything else had already been cleaned up. Behind the counter stood the general manager, a skinny young man. As Comrade Frost entered the building again, the manager looked up, he had been writing something on a form of some sort beforehand.

 

“Oh, all Starbase branches here in FC get full insurance when it comes to super-combat. It’s covered already, just have to quickly finish this form. I could use a signature, actually. Means they’ll prioritize it. As for the window….”

 

A woman, the second employee currently at the store, poked her head through the doorframe leading into the store’s staff area, from what could be seen from the current angle just a small room.

 

“Yeah, you were right, we’ve still got a replacement in here”

 

___

 

 

Outside, the situation had gotten a bit more tense. The young woman had quickly glanced to the side, aware of the fact she now had a route of escape again. She took a step forward, a position ready to run, when Leilani addressed her. All through, the offender stood there, completely silent, not moving an inch. As Leilani finished, the woman threw her bat on the ground in one swift motion, then just fell onto her knees. The sobbing got louder again and tears streamed down onto the concrete.

 

She slightly raised one of her fists from the ground, before punching down into it, still crying and sobbing. Tiny amounts of concrete flew away, and her fist had created a small dent in the street.

Edited by olopi

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Coming back out with his good deed done, Dimitri realized that he was unhappily in the role of diplomat. He hated to see such a display with so many witnesses. "Come, child, such a display does your cause no good," he said, standing over the weeping woman with his hands in his pockets. Ah, this takes me back! How many times must I find myself in such a place, with someone weeping over the unfairness of the world. If they only knew. "Come, show us your troubles, and then we discuss your fate next, eh?" He caught Leilani's eyes over the woman's head and shrugged, obviously making all this up as he went along. "You, young fellow," he said to Bonfire, "What's your name? You come in journey too?"

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Leilani sighed heavily as the girl collapsed, rolling her eyes heavenward at the rapid shift in moods. My mother must be laughing herself sick right now. Karma and then some. Giving Dimitri a faintly apologetic shrug in return at the scene he returned to. Leilani didn't feel guilt, so much, as she stood by her statements but she was well aware her temper didn't exactly help. She had nothing but sympathy for someone who had a lot of rage and grief, clearly, but not so much when that resulted in outbursts that could hurt innocent bystanders. 

 

"I'm Leilani, that's Dimitri," she added to Bonfire absently, "Or, Volcanic and Comrade Frost if you prefer."

 

Taking a few steps away and into the street, Leilani let the flame inside her rise up. Flesh turned molten and upon contact with the air, hardened into shiny, black obsidian with only the cracks of her joints glowing red hot, as she added as if the young woman weren't a hairsbreath from hysterical, "Thanks for dropping the bat. You got quite a right hook there, kid.

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“Name’s Bonfire. Nice to meet you.  I’ll gladly ride along with this, I might learn something from working with professionals. And I enjoy doing good, win-win.“

 

It was true. On one hand, he really just wanted to do some hero work again, the past few weeks had been on the quiet side. There were things going on, but not a whole lot. And more action meant more attention and more blog posts, which lead to more income. Any income, really. 

 

On the other hand, networking. Just having met people already helped, or possibly would in the future. And then, there obviously was the whole experience things. He’d only been doing this for a few months, these people for a lot longer. They probably knew something he didn’t, and he was eager to learn just that.

 

And then, Leilani did her thing. Wow, that looked quite different from what Bonfire did. He turned less solid, into smoke. She turned more solid, into what looked like rock. Cool. Well, apart from the fact this did in fact challenge the whole “Freedom’s HOTTEST Newcomer” title. Good thing he’d been around less long, most likely? She didn’t look like somebody that only started doing this recently.

 

Edited by olopi

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Slowly, the woman sat up, onto her legs. She looked around for a bit, looking at the crowd which was by now slowly dispersing. Most of them had come for action, but that became less and less likely. A few still stood there and watched nevertheless. Her head turned towards Leilani, now with skin of obsidian. The face was still trembling a bit, and a few more tears made their way down the cheeks as they got wiped away by a slim yet somewhat muscular arm. A bit of uncertainty showing, but also relief.

 

“Yours beats mine. Strength’s nice, but have you looked at a mirror? Now that’s … cool, I guess?. “

 

She slowly pushed herself up, first back onto her feet and then fully upright. There, she stood, still breathing quite heavily, her eyes still red thanks to all the tears, and still shaking just a bit.Taking  a few steps forwards, towards the heroes, she looked at each of them, before focusing on Comrade Frost.

 

“So, what now?”

 

 

Edited by olopi

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Comrade Frost practically lit up around Bonfire - and especially Volcanic. A smile grew across his face and his voice grew more cheerful, without even the usual menace such a thing generally meant for those who knew him well. "Well, my dear leetle radical, now we take a leetle tour of Freedom City and you tell us your troubles. You say we never see your Greenbank, well, you show us your Greenbank. And tell us about yourself," he inquired, "where did you get yourself such great strength?" He pointed to the crater her blows had left on the sidewalk. "Unless old Metropolis has been no good lately, that should not be! What do they call you?"

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"Not so much 'cool'; more hot to the touch," it wasn't exactly easy to read the harsh lines that the obsidian plates of Volcanic's features, nor the crackle of her inhuman voice but her words were good natured. "My 'heart' is above nine hundred degrees. Takes some getting used to, for sure."

 

Scuffing her foot over the indentation, Volcanic patched the small hole absent-mindedly as Frost rejoined them once more, letting the senior hero take over things like pep-talk and information gathering. Dimitri, at least, had seen Leilani's armored form on enough occasion to recognize the shifting of her features and the way her flames flickered as a smile in return before she turned to answer Bonfire, "Comrade Frost is the professional, really, but I'm sure you can learn a lot from him. You need someone to take your clothes or do they go smokey with you?" She tipped her head then towards Dimtri, "We're not taking the car, right? Do you want a tunnel?"

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Bonfire looked down, at his own body. For once, he had actually been wearing clothes. Not just underwear and illusionary fabric, but actual, corporeal clothes. He hadn’t expected to go on-duty today, but welcomed it. It would be a bit of a hassle to deal with the clothes.  After a few short moments, he looked upwards again, towards the Obsidian-skinned woman.

 

“Unless we plan on flying there I’ll be fine, but thanks for reminding me. “

 

As questions regarding the method of transportation came up, he moved the cloud making up his head, it’s form resembling that of a question mark. It wasn’t really the time to do things like that, but he’d been working on fine movements of smoke, and this was a good way to practice it. Rough motions had never been a problem, creating huge amounts of smoke was fine too. But anything finer had always taken a lot of effort, and practicing would mean it’d only get easier in the future.

 

“I’m probably not gonna be much help with getting there, I can’t really carry anyone along. I got here by public transport in the first place, so that’s an option I guess. If we don’t mind various onlookers and journalists…”

 

 

Edited by olopi

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“Natural mutation I think. While working out one day, it suddenly became a lot easier. Like, maybe I had hit some kind of threshold, and then I just suddenly became a lot stronger. How much it is just changes every once in a while. “

 

She started to look more and more relaxed, her body’s shaking slowly weakening. No longer did she look afraid, now it was just some uncertainty, but also hope, all in contrast to her face still showing the signs of her previous tears.

 

“My name’s Pax. Don’t ask why, my parents had a thing for latin I think. No alias or anything, just Pax. So, you’re Comrade Frost, right? Didn’t expect to meet one of the big’uns today, heh. “

Edited by olopi

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