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July 30th, 2016

ASTRO Labs, Freedom City

Lunchtime

 

Downtown Freedom City was busy every single day. No matter what else was going on, the streets were crowded with pedestrians and cars, the weekend just meant the people were of a different flavor. The soaring towers of ASTRO Labs looked down on. Happy families and trendy teenagers thronged the streets, moving from place to place and interspersed with groups of tourists eager to experience the City of Heroes.

 

A large group of elderly Asians with cameras around their necks lined up in front of the skyscraper, a young woman in a red pantsuit in their lead. The woman held a folded map in the air and started talking. "This is the headquarters of ASTRO Labs," she said, her voice projecting above the noise of traffic. "A world leader in scientific R&D, ASTRO Labs is proud to help Freedom City's hero population whenever a mystery is in their path!"

 

Near the back of the group, a man in a trenchcoat lurked underneath a young tree. He chuckled when he heard to guide's pithy summation. Pretty soon ASTRO Labs was going to feel the burn from helping so many heroes.

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Sakurako had different ideas about sharing a Saturday Afternoon. She had been adjusting the power output on her refitted flight system, which she had re-wired feverishly over a week of time in a lab, re-modulating the graviton diversion system to get the most efficient power to effect ratio she could. Happy at her work she was flying around, seeing what was the safe maneuvering speed for her system, particularly with the repulsor system helping in steering. Which would be highly important on space missions.

 

Satisfied she wouldn't knock herself out from her own G-forces she landed at a hot dog vendor near the ASTRO Labs building, ordering up a couple chili cheese dogs. Then she remembered she was around ordinary folk dressed up like a high-tech update of your typical retro astronaut girl. She brushed off the white and pink counter-pressure suit and smiled, having the suit's bubble helmet "derezz" as the nanites that were part of the helmet's skin consume the material and stow themselves in the collar of her suit like nanoscopic satiated bugs.

She waved, blushing at the attention as her lunch was all ready. In fact her doing every-day things actually started to blunt the attention. That and the fact for all she's been stuck into her fame was rather cold. To everyone she looked like a new face. And in a city full of capes and tights she wasn't exactly a stand-out. Just another flavor in a flavorful city.

"Thank you..." She said to the vendor, paying him, after grabbing a soft drink from the cooler that was part of his setup, sitting down at a bench in a small plaza other lunch-time break enjoying folk were.

 

She looked about for a moment. "Hmm... looks like I'm not insulting any eyes." She thought, still feeling somewhat self-concious she didn't pack a lunch to eat out of sight. "Oh well... it's sorta warm today... the suit's keeping me cool. I hate hot days."

She cursed the heat-island that was Freedom City... even if it wasn't considerably a hot day, although she was spoiled by the environs of a air-conditioned campus most of the day, so hiding from the heat was common for her. She almost felt spoiled as she started eating. "I'm getting too comfortable... there's gonna be days where all I'll have is rations and hope out there... days like this will only cost me... but then again I gotta enjoy them none the less. Dunno how many quiet days I'll have in the future."

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Selena followed the tour guide, the suggestion from Mr. Summers playing in her mind again as the group stopped.  Having new students take a few local tours is actually a pretty good idea, she thought to herself.  As the young woman pointed out ASTRO Labs and their aid in superhero activities she subtly adjusted the backpack she wore which contained the costume Sakurako and she had designed.  Saku had called it a rough draft but Selena was still glad to have it, especially after hearing about some of the other students' adventures around the city.

 

Taking a swig from her water bottle she hurried to keep pace with the group, several of which had stopped to stare and snap pictures at her friend dropping from the sky to grab a couple hotdogs.  Well, that explains why I didn't see her this morning, she mused as the group moved on.

Edited by Azuth65

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Jann had decided to join the tour too, a way to see more places. He had been to ASTRO labs before, the current iteration of his armor had started here. He’d only ever visited the labs once himself, the rest had been done by other people.  Sakurako had talked to him about some upgrades, but those hadn’t been done yet due to some minor inconvenience, also tracking back to ASTRO labs.

 

He had followed the tour all the way, learning various things about the area that way. The tour guides spoke in simple English, so it was a better way for him to learn about the area than to just ask the locals. Flying around was a good way to learn about the layout, but not about the history and places of interest. His wings meant that people took some pictures, but sooner or later they stopped, there were enough other things to see. And posing for a selfie or two wasn’t that bad either.

 

By now he’d gotten somewhat used to dealing with the heat . Today wasn’t as warm as some of the other days, so the heat wasn’t as bad as it had been around the time of Jann’s arrival. He still felt somewhat sluggish, but he had gotten more used to actually doing something, even with the heat.

When Sakurako suddenly dropped from the sky, he wasn’t all that surprised, or it didn’t show at least. He quickly looked over to Selena, who had been following the guide too.

 

“Will say hello real quick. And grab a cool drink. Want something too?”

 

Right afterwards, he took a few steps backwards, before changing his pace to a run, taking a few steps, and then rising upwards, carried by his wings. He decided to stay low for now, just high enough to not run into any tall people, and made his way over to the hot dog vendor he had just seen Saku at.

Edited by olopi

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"Oh! Hey!" Sakurako said, waving cutely. "Decided to play spacegirl again it seems." She said with a blush to Jann, trying not to reveal Selena as someone she knew. Being careful not to get any chili on the sensitive equipment she was wearing. "Starting to think this is a common hangout suddenly" She thought as she looked about. Something started to cross her mind. Having 1 superhuman is something novel, but having three present, although with two overtly showing their status was something that could be an issue.

 

She might have to brief the freshmen on how not to start making an area look like a spandex enthusiast convention.

 

She stood up walking over to Jann, trying not to blow Selena's cover. "Managing in the warmth?" She said, tossing something that looked like a torque to put around the neck. "That should cool things down a little if you need it."

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Jann had walked over to the food stall and was now picking a drink from a variety he still hadn’t gotten used to, having been limited to “Water, Juices and something alcoholic” for most of his life. Just as he had handed the cashier the money with one hand, his other arm went up behind his back, effortlessly catching the torque Saku had thrown at him, which he then stored in his messenger bag he was carrying. He turned around, a can of local-brand orange soda in hand, and walked back over to the senior student.

 

“Will manage, more used to it every day. “

 

He took a seat next to her, his wings behind the bench. Then, he simply poked a hole into the side of the can using his talon-esque fingers, and started to drink from there. As he finished, he turned the can over on its side, the hole pointing upwards so no juice would leave through it, and continued talking. The crowd wouldn’t move too far too quick, he had some time to spend.

 

“Flight tests going well? “

Edited by olopi

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Gauss found herself back towards the rear of the group, listening as the tour guide started expounding on some of the superheroes and government groups that had worked closely with ASTRO Labs in the past. She found that she was walking next to a short man in a long coat who was laughing quietly at the tour guide's words. "Man, what a sack of crap," the man said, apparently to Gauss. "People see the capes going inside and they think this building might as well be the Lighthouse, ehn?" He punched Gauss lightly in the arm, like they were old friends, and gave her a lopsided smile. "Pretty soon though, they're gonna see just what a building full of eggheads can really do against scary people." The man rolled back the sleeve of his coat and checked a wristwatch. "Aaaaaany second now."

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"As well as can be expected. Just a little wibbly on the control programming, bit of a lag."

 

She looks up and sees the contrail of air created by someone disturbing it enough to create some heating and someone... can't really pick it out... flying overhead. "A darned convention going on around here? There's someone flying around the ASTRO Labs tower." She said, adjusting her data glasses that are giving her the infrared readout.

 

She tapped one of the arms on her glasses and a readout of her EM Wand's readiness and her suit's readiness came up.

 

"Running diagnostic... green across the board. Could one quiet day be anything to ask... please let this just be a bunch of capes being in the same place for the chili dogs..." She thought, preparing for the worst. Observing her surroundings. Something her mom and dad taught her... if there's more than the capes you know in sight... there's gonna be trouble. "Be wary... Something's up." She said, reforming the helmet of her suit setting her lunch aside, drawing her EM-Wand.

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Jann shot up from his seated position, his head looking towards the sky. His eyebrows lowered, and his eyes narrowed a bit, as he started to track the movements. He muttered a few words, while reaching for the pockets of his pants. The can he had just held was now sitting on the bench, he'd dropped it while standing up, but it hadn't spilled even a drop, sitting there and waiting to be finished instead.

 

“Looked at wrist. Turning towards the building. Accelerating.”

 

He reached under the t-shirt he was wearing, towards the top of his hips. Both of his hands grabbed something below it, and move upwards a bit, to the sound of a mechanical *click*. Immediately upon the click, his stance changed notably, and his body seemed to move in even smoother motions. He quickly exhaled, not loud but noticeably enough for Saku to hear, before taking a jump and propelling himself upwards with his wings, ascending with mighty flaps of his wings to get closer to the man flying around the ASTRO building. Under his shirt, the outlines of his armor, sleeveless and fitting to his body as tight as possible, were now slightly visible, thanks to a section at each of his hips pointing outwards a bit.

 

His eyes were locked on the man, not leaving him out of sight for even a moment, and barely even blinking. At the same time, every slight movement of his body was fully controlled, all working towards ascending even faster, using even less effort. Jann was now completely focused, all his attention turned towards the man and whatever was about to happen.

Edited by olopi

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Selena tried her best to remain polite but a person in any long coat with setting off alarms in the teen's head.  Said alarms began waving red flags as they blared in her mind the more he talked.  He spoke like he was anticipating trouble, something that she had heard from other students could be either a precursor to some kind of attack or honed survival instinct in the local population.  His glancing at his watch however had her believing the former.  Turning to him after he touched her she said, "Poquito English.  Lo que es cabeza de huevo?"

Hoping to have distracted him for a minute, she glanced around for a place she could duck away and get into costume.

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The man in the trenchcoat laughed out loud at Gauss's burst of Spanish. "Look and learn, girl, look and learn. You don't need to know what I'm saying to get what I'm teaching, you know? Just have to keep your eyes open." Then he disappeared, a small clap of thunder and a cavity in the crowd the only sign that he was ever there.

 

Up in the sky the man barely even glanced at the rising Avian before he put on a final burst of acceleration. He plunged into the building with a sudden gout of energy and fire.

 

The crowds on street level suddenly looked up, taking a collective breath as the explosion rippled out of the ASTRO building. Then shards of glass glittered in the noonday sun and everyone started to scream and push at once.

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Jann continued to ascend, his wings carrying him higher and higher every second. He did not manage to get to an adequate height in time, the man crashing into the building before he had the ability to intercept him. A variety of debris made its way towards Jann, who dodge one or two pieces of rubble, while re-assessing the situation, his eyes wandering all around the wall of the building.

 

Then, with only a barely noticeable delay, he flapped his wings one more time, but this time, his body was in a different position. In the same movement as his wings, he raised his legs upwards, in front of his torso. His wings immediately went inwards, into a passive position, as his body continued turning around, driven by the momentum behind the movement of his legs.

 

Once he had turned so far to have his head face towards the hole in the wall, left by the explosion, his wings went outwards again, allowing him to dive downwards, into the hole, and into the smoke. At high velocity he dove towards the building, his body in a position that would offer the least air resistance.

 

As he approached the hole, a his right hand moved downwards a bit, towards Jann’s waist. He grabbed onto something – one of the quarterstaffs he had on him at all times, while continuing to dive, about to break through the smoke, and ready for a full stop at any moment, should he approach a wall or floor.

 

 

Edited by olopi

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Jann's mighty wings moved him easily into the hole, the backwash clearing out the smoke and revealing a lab thrown into disarray. Glass implements and electronic devices were scattered across the floor, and men and women in labcoats were cowering in corners or behind desks. The Avian prince gave a whirl of his weapon and the scientists screamed, cowering away from him. There was a dull roar that shook through the building and he saw the man with the yellow-orange aura flying deeper into the building.

 

On street level, the man in the trenchcoat reappeared on the steps leading up to the building. A security guard tried to push him away, and was suddenly grabbing at an empty coat; a moment later the man reappeared in a blue and gray one suit and slammed his fist into the back of the guard's head. The man dropped and stopped moving, and the teleporter continued deeper into the building.

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Selena joined the crowd in rushing away from the falling glass, taking the opportunity of the confusion to duck down a nearby alley and slip out of sight.  Once she was sure she was not being observed she unzipped her backpack and pulled out her costume, a pair of ball bearings, and a domino mask.  Shoving her backpack behind a dumpster she quickly donned the grey and purple costume she had designed.

 

As she ascended into the air and the ball bearings began a quick orbit around her, she finished attaching the white cape and flew out towards the main entrance to ASTRO Labs.

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Sakurako didn't think... then again she did when she needed to, a credit for how even for her teenage grade of restraint was tempered by intellect and common sense. Perhaps too much. As her team dashed off...

 

But that was expected. Time to show these green shirts how Endeavor does the hero thing. Namely by keeping the civilians safe as best she can. Luckily ASTRO Labs had a display of some pre-wired wall siding. Looked sort of sci-fi, but she knew there was enough ferrous wiring inside to make that levitate. And that's all she needed really as she in one motion caused her EM-Wand to grow in length and swipes it in the air almost like a magical girl.

 

She really was embarassed by the mo-cap system installed in that thing. That'll change when she imbeds the system into her suit for the Mark II...

 

But when she looked again the wall paneling did it's job stoping the initial collision of glass, but there was some people who instinctually ran who tripped on things, and there were some that had some minor injuries. "Stick to training, Sakurako... you've handled this in training numerous times..."

 

Setting the wall paneling down gently tipping it so the glass wouldn't be a threat. "Okay everyone that can walk, please head that way along the clear strip I made in an orderly fashion. Please avoid the glass if you're wearing business casual shoes, and get clear of the building. Notify any emergency response this is a active meta-human conflict underway."

 

She turned to where there were some injured individuals, the wand shifted into a smaller form putting off a green light... "Time to triage."

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As Jann’s legs touched the ground, his head had already turned around the room, searching for the man responsible for the explosion. Fortunately for the avian, the man wasn’t exactly subtle. Right as Jann’s feet hit the floor, he immediately pushed off again, like a sprinter at the start of a race, moving forwards with a mix of flying, and where his wings took up too much space, running and jumping over obstacles. Quickly vaulting across a table and smashing a few empty glass beakers in doing so, he used his wings to give himself a boost, closing more distance than by running, then landed and just ran as there was not enough space to fully use his wings.  He would not let the man increase his lead.

 

He continued chasing the man, his body moving in smooth motions while switching between the various methods of travel, his eyes focused on letting the man out of sight. He didn’t pay much attention to his surroundings if they were not direct obstacles, sliding over tables or pushing them out of the way if it was the fastest way to get around them.

Edited by olopi

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Jann followed the man with his explosion aura easily through the top levels of ASTRO Labs, the energy seeming to reach out to shatter glass walls or blow out lights or rip up floor boards. It didn't stop the trained Avian warrior from following him, though. The chase ended at a metal door with a complicated keypad to one side; the criminal turned and with a yell shot a beam of yellow-orange energy out that filled the corridor. Jann was able to duck it, but he felt the heat of it on his wings.

 

On the ground, the teleporting man continued moving around the security guards with ease. He broke one's wrist with an economical snap and threw another down the stone steps leading up to ASTRO's front door. Then he was in the lobby, people screaming and fleeing from his hungry grin.

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Gauss flew over the crowd and Sakurako as she attended to the wounded.  She came around the building just in time to see the teleporter disable the two guards in seconds before vanishing and reappearing in the lobby.  Feeling the need to take his attention off the civilians inside the young magnetokinetic lined up one of her steel ball bearings and unleashed it at the assailant.

 

In another, much smaller shower of safety glass the steel sphere flew past him and smacked into the wall.  Cursing mentally in all three languages she spoke she schooled her face and called out, "That was your one and only warning shot.  Surrender now."

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Endeavor scanned the scene visually. Mostly superficial scrapes and cuts from random glass bouncing around. Those people were quickly leaving the area. They'll get help from emergency response that'll be sure to arrive shortly. Hopefully not to a war zone. But one person was on the ground, a girl who was on the tour. She was in her early 20's, and looked like she was one of the Japanese tourists. Sakurako quickly hovers over to look at the damage. "Do not move." Sakurako said in Japanese, taking a educated guess.

 

"R... Right..."

 

Her right leg was gashed severely, she was losing blood. Might have been an arterial nick. She had to work quick, but that woman would be in no condition to move. Her cursory scan with her EMWand in it's medical mode showed that. She'd be too weak. But Sakurako put the calculation of escape aside to help her. Radiating a yellowish gold light that poured into the wound, cells pushing out any foreign matter while the energy ensured bacteria was kept out. "You still with me?"

 

The girl nodded, although she looked a bit pale. Sakurako pulled out a medical kit from her utility vest, and took her vest off, inflating the life preserver attached to it. She carefully sat the vest under her head while pulling out a thermal blanket to cover her. "Now to figure out how to get you away from here... you've lost a lot of blood."

 

She looked about for any new threats. "We're the worst possible bait, the medic and the survivor."

 

"W... will we be okay?"

 

Sakurako switched her EM-Wand into it's projector mode as it's glow turned red. "They'll have to get through me first, miss."

 

"I'm Endeavor... and I'm here to help."

 

The girl grinned. "D... didn't you have a sailor outfit at one time?"

 

Endeavor blushed. "W.... we could talk about that later, right now, my job is keeping you safe and figure out a way to get you safe."

 

"A bridge too far, Saku-chan... a bridge too far..." she thought. This day just went from bad to worse.

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Jann had dodged below the beam shot at him, sliding alongside the ground, coming to a stop about halfway between where he had gone to slide and the enemy. Using his quarterstaff, he pushed himself upwards in one smooth motion, back onto his feet and still running towards the man. His entire body continued to move in one smooth motion, every action planned and executed with prowess. He took a last few steps, before turning his feet towards the side, making him slide a bit further before coming to a full stop, in melee distance.

 

His head had not turned away from the man once during the chase, and now that the two were face-to-face his eyes were focused, looking at the man’s face, without even blinking. Jann showed no emotions, his entire face resting in a neural motion. After barely a moment, Jann went onto the offense.

 

He attacked from the right, the quarterstaff moving towards the man’s shoulder, assisted by the momentum of Jann’s body turning alongside it. Before it actually touched his opponent’s body, Jann pulled his arm backwards, using the momentum created by this to guide his left elbow into the now open side, and glancing his opponent’s face, but only leaving minimal damage. His hand now in the right position, he moved both his arms downwards, the bottom of his quarterstaff hitting the enemy’s body, targeting the kidneys and smashing into the lower section just above the pelvis.

 

As he did this, he felt something hit him back. An aura of sorts, damaging him as he attacked. It did not stop him. Nor did it injure him. A few small scrapes, his armor had absorbed most of the direct damage. The t-shirt Jann had been wearing above his armor had already been torn up by the glass shards, both during the explosion and the chase following it. The armor below was clearly visible, the shirt itself was in tatters. At the same time, a variety of small wounds all across Jann’s arms started to be visible. Tiny cuts, caused by the glass too. While a few of them bled, it was not more than superficial damage, nothing that would affect him.

Edited by olopi

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The man with the glowing aura grunted as the Avian warrior's staff impacted him, raising his hands and taking the impacts on his wrists and forearms. He was an expert fighter, and after a little quick fumbling he was able to turn aside the blows without a problem. "C'mon in close," he said, slapping the probing end of the staff away. "See what it feels like to being the middle of an explosion!" He grabbed the staff and pulled, opening his hands wide to try and embrace Bird of Arms. Jann wasn't a neophyte either, though, and the man wasn't able to so much as touch the Avian's feathers. "Dammit, stand still and let me hit you!"

 

Down in the lobby, the man in the red outfit glanced out at Gauss. "Tip for the future," he said. "Don't fire warning shots." He sauntered towards the main elevator, speaking over his shoulder. "If someone's really going to surrender, they wouldn't be hurting people in the first place!" He pressed the button to summon the car and then leaned back, crossing his arms casually. "Shoot to kill or don't shoot at all, girl."

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"Fine," she snarled laconically, yanking the sphere she had missed with back from the drywall and to her side while taking better care to line up her shot, aiming for his smug smirk.  With a strong push on her powers and a slowly exhaled breath, the light emanating from her left eye flared for a brief second and the metal sailed on a direct trajectory at the teleporting villain.  With a solid thud the projectile struck home, punching him in the chest.

 

With a jerk of her head and another eye flare, the sphere flew back to hover just before Gauss' outstretched right hand as she lined up for another shot at her opponent.

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