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December Vignette - Winter Wonderland

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Mid December, in the midst of 'normal' east coast weather, Freedom City is hit by a sudden cold snap that dumps feet of snow on the city. Given all the strange activities that go on in and around the city, it's entirely possible that the weather is not natural but the storm lasts only long enough to snow in the citizens of Freedom City for a weekend. 


For this month, we invite you to submit a vignette to Winter Wonderland (will add the link in when the thread's up), which can focus either on being snowed in, or dealing with the sudden blizzard in one way or another. Perhaps your hero ends up stuck in a house with someone they love - or hate! Or maybe you spend the day out making sure that no good citizens of Freedom City end up suffering in the inclement weather. Or perhaps a typical criminal caper is complicated by the unfriendly weather.


The usual vignette rules - and rewards, apply. Make sure to have all vignettes posted by the end of December. 

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Look Around, Look Around

Mid-December 2016 


"Mark, I'm pregnant." 


Sitting across the dining room table from Nina in their too-big house that suddenly seemed far too small, and indeed closing in on him, Mark nearly fell out of his chair. Absurdly a thought entered his mind - Well, that's one way to settle what we're going to do with our day off! He recovered a moment later, and did the only thing he could do.


He moved around to the other side of the table and putting his arms around Nina wordlessly. She hugged him back, her grip firm around his waist, and silently they held each other for a long moment. They'd had conversations, sometimes arguments, about this moment more than once in the last several years, but for now silence seemed like the best option. "I love you," he said when he pulled back. They were both in bulky Christmas sweaters, his in green and hers in red, a tacky American affectation that she'd adopted with her usual ability to blend in. "What do you want to do?" He knew what he wanted, he knew that he'd wanted children ever since he'd really understood what a father was - but that wasn't really an issue right now. Is Marcie Lucas doing cartwheels while her fiance wonders what he's going to do right now? 


"I don't know," she admitted, a slight tremor in her voice as she sipped her peppermint cocoa the only sign of a significant inner tension. She looked up at him - always taller than her, especially now when she was sitting and he was standing. "Don't-don't loom, Mark," she teased him distractedly, "sit down." He pulled his chair around and moved it next to her, and listened to her words. Outside the snow fell, thick and white, a silent blizzard that by all accounts was sweeping the area. "I don't want to tell anyone just yet," she said. "Not your friends, not mine. I looked it up on the Internet and I must have conceived just a few weeks ago." Mark did some quick math in his head and realized what must have happened. "Many things can happen." She took a breath, and then another. "Especially to people like us."


"I won't breathe a word," promised Mark, "not even at the Christmas party." His heart was pounding in his chest, but he was doing his best to stay calm. He gripped the handle of his mug tight, until he felt the warmth of the drink inside almost burn his knuckles. "You know the things that I want - but I want you to be happy most of all. Whatever you want to do," he promised her, "I'll be with you, every step of the way." He'd accepted for years that his vision of them one day settling down in the Freedom City suburbs, raising a blended family and continuing their work for the United Nations, wasn't what Nina wanted, especially with things the way they were in both countries - but now...now there was no knowing the future. He thought of visits from his future child, and the visits Trevor and Erin's had made. Was there something significant about these years? "'Uhabik. Wanahn sawf nnafeal dhlk maea," he added. 


"I love you too" She took his hand and squeezed it tight. "Whatever happens, let's get married. We can do it here civilly - and in Socotra in the Great Mosque." There was a job to do in her home nation too - one that had just gotten a lot more urgent. "I want you to be my husband, and the father of my children."


"Hey, that's supposed to be my line," Mark teased, his fingers brushing against the sharp edge of her diamond engagement ring. "You know that's what I've wanted for almost five years now. We'll talk about...the mosque later." The issue of conversion had come up before, the necessary requirements of a consort of a royal of Socotra (even one who might never set foot in that land again) but it had suddenly become substantially less urgent than it had been even a few weeks earlier. "Let's just stay inside today." He looked with her at the snow outside, listening to the wind howl. "It's a good day for that."

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  • 3 weeks later...


Mid-December, 2016


Winter had come to court Freedom, and in her infatuation she had gifted Freedom with the only symbol of love that she understood.


The streets piled high with snow, the salt road workers spread across the earth doing no good under the sheer weight of the ice. The city suffocated, lights dimmed, cars clearing from the roads when they were not simply abandoned there, leaving the city desolate, frozen and shy when winter had deigned to kiss her.


In the FCU dorms, snow sloughed of the slanted roofs and fell to the ground in clumps. The streets could not be told from the sidewalks, except for the carcasses of lost cars. One window, still lit, with the curtains drawn back. Framed in golden light, a girl peered into the storm from behind glass.


Her dorm was tiny—far smaller than her room at Claremont had been, but she had been given to expect that, all things considered. It said less about FCU's dorms than it did about how much Claremont had spoiled her.


All the same, it was quaint and warm. She sat upright on her bed, her laptop open and forgotten in her lab as she peered into the storm. She she bit at her lip and squirmed her toes, but no matter how much she wished, she could not see any real distance through the storm. She wore a set of headphones, connected to her computer.


Kat felt something pelt her in the back. She ignored it.


—Storm is expected to continue through the night commuters are encouraged to stay at home accidents can be found—


Again. And a third time, more quickly. Kat sighed and pulled the headphones down so they dangled around her neck. Before she could manage anything, she heard “Can't you go one day without burying yourself in that crap?


Kat spun around in bed toward her roommate. She was a broad-shouldered and well-endowed giant of a woman, with a broad stance and a hard, intimating scowl, dark haired with a streak of purple. The sort of woman that left many blushing, tongue-tied and intimidated all at once. Kat rolled her eyes. “What's your damage today, Ril?


What's MY damage?” Riley put hands on her hips and made a face. “You spend all day gods know where, or hidden up here with your headphones on like there ain't anything else in the world.” Ril crossed her arms and scowled. “No wonder you have no friends.


For a while, Kat had hated her roommate. She was in the way, and always so nosey. But after a while the nonsense slid off her like water off a duck. But this was just too much. “Rill. You jumped right past 'fussy' to 'terrible.' Either tell me what's actually bugging you or buzz off.


Ril huffed, but she didn't say anything. Kat fall back until she was laying on her back on her bed, head draped upside-down over the side. She stared soberly up at an increasingly baffled looking Riley. “I demand to be taken seriously.


To that, Ril barely managed to choke a laugh. “Weirdo,” she said, and finally stopped pacing, throwing herself back on her bunk. “Most of my teachers have called tomorrow off,” she admitted, finally. “But math is still holding off. Why? There's no WAY the buses are going to be able to run tomorrow. It's dumb.


Kat righted herself and shrugged. “You never know. There's probably some hero out there who'd be able to clear the snow out somehow, if it stops. Roads might be clean and dry tomorrow for all we know.


But Ril's hands clenched. “Freedom and its heroes,” she spat, her mouth twisting into a derisive line.


Kat didn't understand her roommate's knee-jerk reaction toward heroes, though it'd been obvious from within an hour of rooming with the girl. Maybe this was an opportunity. “Why do you hate heroes so much?


Hate?” A pensive look came over Ril's face. “No. I wouldn't say . . . You ever been to Bedlam?


Katharine shook her head.


It's a garbage-fire city.” And then Kat thought she COULD hear hate welling up. “Every bit of it is rotten. And you know what Bedlam has? Heroes.


Riley laid back, staring at the ceiling. “You come here, it's 'heroes' this, 'heroes' that, like they're the only thing that keeps this city above water. You know why Freedom is so great? It's the people. Like you and me, not those heroes they throw the spotlight at. If it weren't for the people, this city would be just as bad, but who gets the credit? Heroes. It just makes me so mad!


And it was clear that nothing Kat could say would change her mind, so she did not say anything.


—Pileup in west freedom, emergency workers can't to get through the snow, on—


Kat heard something through her headphones and held it closer to her ear, listening. She shut them off, closed her laptop and got up. “I'm going to go for a walk.


Ril gave her a weird look. “Where?


A smile. “Somewhere no one will bother me for listening to my music, for a start.


UGH.” Ril rolled away. “Just get out of here.


So Kat stood up, stepped outside and shut the door behind her.

Edited by Freely Seek
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No Place Like Home

Christmas Evening, 2016 6:12 PM


"Merry Christmas Mom!"  John proclaimed excitedly, happy to have spent his Christmas at home.  He lives over at the dorms of Claremont Academy now, but he needed to see his Mom on Christmas!  Besides, she provided a normalcy that he felt kept him grounded.  He made doubly sure his crimefighting was lessened the day before, so as to make sure he didn't accidentally let the sun come up on him on Christmas and miss spending it with his mom. 


"I'm just glad you made it down for the day.  How did you even get here anyway, the roads are all closed down?"  She gave him an inquisitive look.  "I mean, it've been near deadly to run here in the skin tight shirt and pants you were wearing... How did you get here?"


"Oh hehe, turns out my roommate is one of those superheroes here.  They had the ability to fly and when I mentioned that I was upset to not be able to visit my mom for Christmas for the day, they offered to bring me over here and pick me up tomorrow night."  John of course, had to lie to his mom and keep his secret hero life a secret, even the additional powers he acquired more recently.  He wanted to mention the holographic fight versus the weirdest enemy he'd ever faced, the many lives he'd protected throughout the night.  How he flew here himself regardless of how much it sucked to do so.  But that was besides the point now.  Now was just him and his mom, who had just brought in Hot Chocolate and gave him a cup, and sat down herself with a cup.


"Still, you should've worn a bit more than just that skintight stuff.  If it hasn't warmed up a little by tomorrow morning, then you are getting one of the spare clothes in the closet mister."  She gave him a slight disapproving frown, before smiling again.  John knew it was just more of a worry-filled frown than a real disapproving one, and he gave her a smile back.  Until he noticed a certain thing going on across the road.  Even in this weather, a robbery going on... and they had guns.  John turned to his mom.


"I'm sorry, gotta run to the restroom.  Might be a few minutes... remind me not to have spicy things!" and he ran to the bathroom, set up the little toy he had that basically just gave out a grunt of exertion every few moment, having recorded it on the toy and hiding it in the bathroom.  His mom used the other bathroom anyway, so she never noticed.  After he set that up, he ran to his old room, opened the window, and transformed as quickly as he could, and flew over there to help those people.  About 10 minutes later and a small trip to the police HQ to hand the crooks over, John flew back and climbed back in the window, transforming back as he does.  He runs back to the bathroom quietly and turns off the little toy, "Stupid friggin robbers.  Willing to hurt a family on Christmas today."  He flushed the toilet (after he actually went.  Didn't want to have to head back so soon after he went to the bathroom.) and wandered back to the living room to watch Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer with his mom some more.  


"Jeez, stink up the bathroom a bit more why don't ya killer?" She said with a smirk and a playful jab.  She laughed at her joke and continued, "By the way, you missed one of those heroes.  Took a bunch of crooks from the house across the way.  I know you love those heroes, but you were stuck in the bathroom so I didn't bother." She said, with a small smile as well.  


"Oh yeah?  Well I hope they can go home and visit their family soon.  After all, there's no place like home."

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Ice Floe Nowhere To Go

Wharton State Forest

Woodsman and Nighthawk


The wind woke Riley. Disengaging from Robin inside the sleeping bag wasn’t easy, at least not without waking her, but he could be very quiet when he wanted to be, especially with that howling outside that bespoke a change in the weather. Sure enough, a quick partial unzipping of the tree tent’s door revealed he’d been right to be suspicious. “Damn,” he whispered softly as he studied the thick, heavy snowfall outside. There was already a solid inch out there, maybe more, and the blizzard was one of the thickest he’d seen in this version of Freedom City. The woods he’d grown up with had hotter summers and colder winters than this version of Freedom City. Typically.


“Goddamn satellite weather forecast,” he muttered as he dug around for his binder and shirt. “Not gonna snow this weekend my ass.” They were a good ten feet up - they weren’t in any risk of being snowed into the tent proper, but their cooking spot was about to be overrun - not to mention his plans to take Robin hunting the next morning. The hike out had been fun - setting the tent up together had been _very_ fun, but now what?


Robin never slept all that soundly but, truth be told, she slept better next to Riley than she ever did alone. That part of her brain that never fully relaxed was able to know that the burden of vigilance was at least shared. The lack of body warmth finally stirred her from the cocoon she’d slept in and the sleeping bag rustled as she rolled to a sitting position. With the bag clutched over her torso more for warmth than any real modesty, she blinked sleepy grey eyes at the snow beyond with a blank expression on her features that faded to dismay.


“Ugh,” Robin muttered with feeling. Uncharacteristically she flopped back down to scooch under the blankets deeper. The words that followed were muffled but heartfelt. “I hate the snow.”


“Not supposed t’be snowin’,” Riley muttered loud enough for Robin to hear. “Supers prolly having a fight with Frosty the Snowman or somethin’” He thought about their options as he dressed, automatically preparing to go out there with his gear. “I can get the deer easy enough,” he promised Robin. “Can field butcher it, bring some back here. We can dig out a kitchen down there and cook it up.” Truth be told climbing back into the sleeping bag with Robin was a very appealing idea - but he couldn’t let her think a little weather would put him off.


Robin groaned as it became clearer that Riley was bound and determined to go out into the snow. She remerged from the sleeping bag to reach for her own clothing. “And I used to think the snow was so pretty,” Robin sighed as she shoved limbs into clothing in the sort of hurry one has when the temperature outside was too cold to be naked. “Are you sure we can’t just hide until it's over?”


She arched brows at Riley but her expression didn’t hold much hope. This was Riley’s world after all and if he said that they needed to get food now rather than later, well. She’d just roll with it but she was already not looking forward to the inevitable soaked clothes and numb fingers and toes that would come with it.


Riley gave Robin an uncertain look, his hatchet held unconsciously loose in one hand. “You sure you don’t mind just staying in?” They had ample enough supplies to get them through the rest of the day, of course, he’d seen to that. “I can go out there and handle the whole thing…” It was at that moment that his cellphone rang.


“Ah, dang it…” He sat down and picked it up - he was careful never to be out of communication with Peyton, especially after the last year. “Hey, Peyton. Yeah, it’s snowing a lot. No, we’re okay. No, you don’t need to pick us up.” He reached up and squeezed the bridge of his nose. “We’re gonna stick it out here and walk out tomorrow. It’s just a couple miles back to the road. We’ll be fine.”


Robin’s half-smile was bemused as she folded her leg up to pull on her boots one at a time carefully. Those had been a present as the duct tape on her sneakers had grown steadily worse over the last few months and she was very careful when putting them on to not strain or crease them. “It’s safer than driving in it,” she agreed with Riley, her voice low. “Remind her that we can go through the trees if we need to. Close enough together to make it with jumps no problem.”


She finished lacing up her boot and dangled her legs over the edge of the tent to take in the snow below. “Not gonna make her feel better if you point out that you’ve seen worse. Tell Payton that I think we’re fine. Probably help more?” She added with a quirk of her lips and a bemused smile as Riley’s not-mother was certainly aware that Robin was a city-kid.


Riley reassured Peyton that they had food and water, and that between the two of them the two miles back to the road was no problem. “I’ll see you tomorrow ‘t noon. Love you too.” He hung up and sighed softly, then moved to sit next to Robin at the edge of the tent, feet dangling out over the rapidly falling snow below. “You know,” he said reflectively. “You came real far yesterday. Even just being here, I know, is…we don’t hafta get the deer. I already know you like me pretty well.” He gave her a crooked grin.

Robin leaned her shoulder against Riley’s, giving a small shrug of her shoulders, “Once you’ve eaten outta a few dumpsters, hunting isn’t too big a hurdle. I just don’t like the snow, well, being out in it. We don’t get all that much snow but it always means being cold and wet or risking a shelter for the night… at least, s’what it used to mean.” She watched the snowflakes gather on the toes of her boots, and rested her chin against Riley’s shoulder. “It's not so bad like this though. Kinda pretty.”

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Aquaria Dreams Of Electric Fish


Sea Devil and Singularity’s Vignette


Aquaria dreamed. In her dream, she was Queen of the Deep Ones - a powerful matriarch sitting on a throne of black orichalcum, her ruling grotto carved with the eldritch symbols of Dagon and Hydra. Her young played and writhed at her feet while males posed artfully around her, their muscles bulging, their masculine scent thick and cloying like the smell of rotting fish. It was a good dream.


Jessie stared at the snow falling outside their window, thick and fast, gobby clumps instead of single flakes. She didn’t have too much experience with snow; Seattle occasionally got a storm, but she didn’t remember much about them except getting a snow day and getting really wet pants and mittens from trying to play in it. Snow in person was never as much fun as television made it look. This snow didn’t even look fun, it looked cold and unpleasant and was already shutting down the city. People were going to need help. But first she needed to fuel up and try to find some clothes a bit warmer than her usual uniform.


Aquaria had pulled the curtains rather than look at the horrible sight outside - not much was visible with all the condensation on their small windows, anyway. Her head down on the table, she chewed slowly and disconsolately on the contents of a can of SPAM that she’d pried open for her breakfast. When she realized she’d fallen asleep, she bolted upright at the table and found herself looking right at Jessie! She swallowed, the meat in her mouth sliding down her gullet, and croaked, “I am very tired.


“Yeah, I see that,” Jessie answered with a faint smile. “I guess maybe the weather makes you want to hibernate or something. Might as well go with it.” She coaxed her friend into eating the rest of the canned meat, waste not, want not, and then nudged her into the bedroom that held her warm swimming pool. “I gotta go out for awhile, but I’ll check in on you when I get back.” Aquaria didn’t even answer, sliding almost bonelessly into the pool. Jessie figured it was probably nothing to worry about; Aquaria had done much stranger things.


Aquaria dreamed. She lived in a cave at the edge of the sea with a few other males and females, a small colony growing beneath the watchful gaze of Dagon and Hydra. At the edge of their territory was a lighthouse, manned by Surfacers to keep their ships from crashing into the rocks. The Surfacers in the lighthouse traded things with the People in the cave, and that was good. The lighthouse keeper was a Surfacer with auburn hair and a smile she showed too rarely….

Jessie left from her bedroom window, carefully shutting it behind her to keep the warmth inside. She didn’t even want to try braving the streets right now. Leaping to the nearest rooftop, she made her way across the city, helping stranded motorists and beleaguered pedestrians, trying to get as many people out of the cold as possible. It wasn’t unnaturally cold outside, at least not enough to put her in any danger, but she couldn’t seem to convince her body of that. It started shivering whenever she stood still for more than a minute, so it was good to keep going. This was not dramatic hero work, but it was the kind she was much better at than saving the world.

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Winter Memories


December, 2016
Theater district


Kwame had just recently arrived in Freedom City.  The apartment that he managed to get overlooked the South River.  He had just woken up to perform his daily morning workout. He turned on the TV as he took his shower.


It seems, life in Freedom City is going to be extremely difficult today.  An unusual snow storm has just hit the city.  Authorities are urging everyone to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.  The heavy snowfall has dropped visibility to a mere few feet distance.  Public transportation has been stopped due to the poor driving conditions.  All schools in the city have closed for the day.


Kwame moved to the window and looked out.  Snow was coming down so strongly that he was unable to see the river.  If it wasn't for the fact that he had a clock nearby, he would have thought it was still night.  Even the sunlight could not penetrate the heavy downfall.  He turned around and started flipping through channels on the television.  Each station showed scenes around the city.  Snow was piling up blocking streets as well as doors to homes.  Reports of water pipes bursting from the sudden drop in temperature filled another portion of the airwaves. 


This is bad.  Real bad.  I wonder how the city handles weather like this?  Chicago would have had the salt trucks out and about already.  If they didn't, the mayor would be out of a job.  It’s happened before.


Kwame thought of the winter storms that had hit Chicago during his childhood.  He still remember the blizzard of 1999 where 21.6 inches of snow fell upon the city.  Schools and businesses were forced to close.  He was caught at the local youth center and unable to get home for a few hours.  While he waited, Kwame had started wrestling with the other kids who were also stranded.  He smiled inwardly as the memory reminded him of his first taste of wrestling.


Kwame moved over to the dresser and grabbed a shirt.  Might as well check on the neighbors.  See if everyone is okay.  It’s not like I can go jogging in that mess.  Kwame opened the door and went across the short hall.  Carefully, he knocked on the door.  “Mrs. Dawson?  It’s Kwame, from across the hall. I just want to make sure you’re okay.


The door opened allowing the smell of freshly baked cookies to enter the hallway.  “Oh! I was going to ask if you wanted some cookies.  Why don’t you come on in?  You could tell me all about yourself.”  Standing in the doorway was a woman with gray hair pulled back in a bun.  She wore glasses that hung slightly too low on her nose.  Red earrings seemed to pull her head lower due to their weight.  Mrs. Dawson smiled up at Kwame and he saw in that smile a familiar face.  It wasn't until that moment that he realized just how much he missed his own grandmother.  The delicious aroma of cookies in the air simply added to the feeling of warmth and home.


Kwame smiled widely as he stepped inside.  It’s not Chicago, but it does feel like I've found another place to call home.

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A Song of Snow and Smoke



Jordan International Airport

10:14 AM
















09:30   DELAYED




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Looking around Jordan International Airport this morning was a depressing sight. The snow storm that had started fairly recently completely shut down the city’s air traffic. Which meant that those that had already checked in would simply have to wait. Wait for the snow storm to pass, or the airport and airlines to refund their tickets. Chances were neither would happen any time soon.


People reacted differently. Somebody with an interest in psychology would have gone out and classified the various people as various stages of grief. All of them were represented in different people. People were on their phones, talking to family, friends, business partners and lovers alike. The storm interfered with phone connections, but it was enough to make important calls, so long as people didn’t mind sudden loss of connection and bad quality. The sudden storm had, unsurprisingly, made the news all across the nation, so most people knew already. This being Freedom City, most people suspected some meta-evildoer, or hero-gone-wrong, and betting sites had already began to accept bets on the cause, how long it would last, and who would resolve it.


Various places inside the airport had also reacted differently. The employees seemed glad to be inside the airport, where supply of just about everything was no problem, and even get paid for it. The duty free shop was nearly empty save for a few people dressed in expensive suits (partly because people didn’t feel like spending money on perfume and expensive alcohol when they were stuck in a place, partly because most travellers were domestic ones).  Meanwhile, the many cafés, restaurants and the likes were filled. It was morning, it was rather cool, and people would be stuck in place for a long time, coffee and breakfast were a natural way of dealing with the situation. Inside, people crowded around the TVs mounted on the walls. Others were simply sipping their coffee, checking their phones and laptops.


Among that group of people was Cassidy Bauer. He was on his way back home, back towards Vermont. Holiday traffic would be bad, and thanks to his very, very loose working times (not including his time as Bonfire), it was easy for him to travel on an early date. Or, well, it would have been. But of course, something had to happen. This being Freedom, it would probably go one of two ways. Either, it’d be gone by the afternoon, or it would last for a while.


He’d already informed his family; they probably were okay with it. No one-hour drive in winter weather just yet, perhaps his parents could get Charlie to pick him up in her truck whenever he’d arrive now. He’d not been home the entire year. It wasn’t a matter of time, or money, his parents would pay the costs. It was a mix of “eh, it’s the country.”, and the feeling of something big happening whenever he’d leave. But, Christmas was more important than all of those. Even if, apparently, big events often happened on Christmas.


So, here he was, sitting at an airport, coffee on the table, laptop next to it. And there really wasn’t anything to do. The news was slow, unless one cared about every minute detail of what the storm was doing and causing. Cass really couldn’t care less about it. Two windows were open; one was what appeared to be a Podcast on youtube. The other his image editing software. No new photos, but he’d pulled up one of, well, himself. It took some effort, but after some time he’d found one on The People’s Eye’s website. It was a few months out of date, but it worked. Bonfire could use a new profile picture, and Cass’s skills had gotten a bit rusty lately. So, he went to work. Editing a picture that had no face was … interesting for sure.


He sat all the way in the back of the café, at a small round table, made for people like him. In front of him was the rest of the, rather small, café. Quite a crowd had gathered to watch Hockey on the TV, another reason to take a seat at the back. Cass liked Hockey, but there was enough ice in his life at the moment. Then again, perhaps that was why these people were watching. Behind him was a half-height wall, blocking entry into some parts of the café from the hallway, and doubling as a surface to put things on. It blocked entry, but that was about it. Sound and light didn’t really care. A fact that actually mattered, when Cass caught two people arguing. Two staff members, as he realized upon turning his head.


“Look, I’m gonna try it again. We don’t have a choice. They’re out of fuel, and this is the only airport that’s close enough. Unless you want to tell them to land on the freeway. “


“No, that’s not what I’m saying. We can’t make them land like this. It’s too dangerous. They can’t see ****. Can’t we call some super to take care of it? We’re in Freedom City for god’s sakes. “


“How would we do it? It’s not like you can go “Hey, we need somebody to save a plane”, and just have it work. And we don’t have time for some kind of request. I’m saying we don’t have an option. Tell the tower to give permission. “


“And what if it goes wrong? Do you even realize how bad this would be?”


Time to get involved. Cass folded his laptop’s screen downwards, continuing to follow the two. He waved them closer, trying to speak as loudly as possible while not disturbing the rather cosy atmosphere inside the café.


“Actually, you can. We are in FC after all, right?” He continued to pack up, having stored everything in his bag by now. He was travelling light, only hand luggage. The two staff had arrived by now, and looked on curiously, but also relieved. “Make sure nobody sees who I am, now and afterwards, and I’ll do it. Now, what’s the problem?”




Only seconds later

Runway 2A-WE, Jordan International Airport


It took about two seconds for the two to agree. About five for a basic run down of the situation. And maybe 10 more for a buggy to pick up Cass. With what either was a lot of hurry, or just reckless abandon, the driver sped through the hallway, and into the areas that travellers usually didn’t get to see. On the cart, there was a further briefing. A plane was approaching from the Atlantic, and it had run out of fuel, needed to pull an emergency landing. Jordan International was the only airport in range, but thee snow storm meant it would be incredibly difficult. So, somebody had to deal with the situation one way or another. And time was short, only a few minutes.


The buggy arrived at the edge of the building, and Cass, by now Bonfire, was rushed into an airport taxi. It would be dangerous to drive during the storm, but it was a necessary risk. And then, after a short drive, the taxi arrived at the closest East/West Runway. Truth be told, Bonfire didn’t have much of a plan. Heat up as much as possible. Try to cut a path through the storm. Not something he could really do, he had to admit. At least not normally. But, this was an airport after all. He’d requested a canister of the strongest burnable liquid available while being rushed to the car, and he’d gotten one. So, a Jerrycan of kerosene in hand, he opened the door and stepped outside, onto the runway.


It was cold. Even with his powers he could feel the sheer cold. And the strong wind didn’t make it easier. Every second spent out here was actually dangerous for him. Not in a “will catch a cold” sense, but in a “could die” sense. His powers didn’t like either, Ice or Wind.


“Okay...Ready. “


According to the tower (Cass had received a radio), the plane was about to arrive. This was it. First steps, figure out how much his powers would do. He tried to heat up the area surrounding him. It seemed to work quite well, but the wind was strong, and pushed against it. Now, as much of the runway as possible. It was a fair distance. In normal situation terms. For a runway, it was nothing. This wasn’t nearly enough. It was time to test how his powers reacted when backed up this much. Human lives depended on him, this wasn’t the time to hesitate.

Deep Breath. The Jerrycan was heavy, it had been filled to the brim. Still, with enough determination, Cass managed to push his body enough to lift it to head-height, where he poured it over himself. The smell, oh the smell. But inside, he could already feel the power. The heat. The tingling all across his body. Some pain, in his lungs and intestines.


Deep Breath. Eyes closed. Focus. Lives at stake. Power stronger than ever. He threw the can aside and waited. Waited for his body to adapt. And then, once he could feel his hands again, he was ready. A straight line, as long as possible. From the ground up high, so high he could get it. And go. Pillars of dense smoke shot upwards. Slowly, it became more transparent. In this distance, barely visible through smoke and ice, the plane was gliding downwards.


Inside, Cass felt his body break. He could not keep this up long. It was too much heat, even when projecting it all. His concentration held up. This was too important; a bit of stinging pain could not stop him.


Almost there. The plane came into view, breaking through the smoke, which by now had lost most of its colour. Partially because of what Bonfire did to it, specifically making it happen. Partially because the wind was stronger. The heat caused an updraft, but the pilots seemed experienced enough to handle it, as the plane remained mostly stable. The pain became worse by the second. By now most of his torso hurt. Too important to fail. He kept on focusing on the task at hand.


A few second passed, each more painful than the previous. The wheels made first contact with the runway, but the plane bounced off, taking it up slightly again. By now, a headache had joined in on the fun. It was getting more and more difficult to actually focus. But he was so close. He couldn’t fail now. “GAAAAAAAAH”.


More time passed. How long was it? Cass didn’t know? He’d stopped to think about time. Heat, heat, heat. The plane touched the ground once more. And this time, it stayed there. Relief. Cass was ready to simply collapse on the spot. He’d need a lot of coffee now. And just then he realized that the plane was still moving. Moving, directly at him, even.


With whatever power hadn’t been drained, he took to his heels and booked it away from the runway. Now that he no longer sustained and fed it, the heat disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived. And just as he’d made it to the taxi, parked a few feet away from the runway, the plane went past, descending rapidly. Cass opened the door, hurrying inside and just falling onto the backseats.


“You owe me a lot of coffee. “

Edited by olopi
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In a Deep and Dark December

Miracle Girl


One of the great things about having super-speed was that homework occupied very little of Casey Blankenship's day; she could easily complete a full day's assignments, including double and triple checking her work, in a matter of seconds, which meant she had lots of time to devote to Scouting or hero stuff. In fact, the amount of things she managed to accomplish in a typical day was simply staggering, although most of it was actually fairly mundane.


But this particular weekend in December, even Casey was going to have a lot on her plate.


- - -


When she first heard the forcecast, Casey suited up and flew to various agencies throughout the city to let them know she was on call, and the best radio frequencies to reach her on; this included the FCPD, FCFD, Coast Guard, NJDOT, both airports and the major hospitals. Then she went home and did all her homework, checked in with her family via Skype, ate a truly tremendous dinner, and filled a big camper's Thermos with coffee. Then, with a bright red scarf around her neck and the Thermos slung over her back on a strap, she took to the sky as the first clumps of snow started to fall.


Over the next 48 hours, Miracle Girl was all over the city, using her powers in a number of ways she hasn't even thought of before; using her heatvision to melt ice, spotting trapped cars by their heat signatures, plowing snow off of stretches of highway, delivering food, hot coffee and supplies to rescue workers out in the cold, carrying ambulances to and from accidents when whiteout conditions grounded medivac copters, you name it. The calls kept coming in, one after the other, and more often than not she was able to offer at least some assistance. Her warm and sunny personality was often appreciated almost as much as her physical aid, and she posed for more selfies than she would ever be able to recall. 


Of course, she ate a lot, too, but she didn't have to pay for any of it; appreciative families gave her fresh baked goods, store owners gave her pizza, egg rolls and cupcakes, and cops shared their donuts and coffee (the stuff in her Thermos was mostly for other people, when they needed it most) and swapped corny jokes. She rarely paused for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time, though a two hour nap on a hospital bed happened at some point.


When Sunday night finally rolled around, a weary Miracle Girl finally flew home, wobbling slightly with fatigue; she had just enough energy to take a long, hot shower and enjoy a hot cup of herbal tea before collapsing in an exhausted heap on her bed.


"Well...that was...fun...," she managed to mumble before drifting off to sleep.

Edited by Heritage
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Miles from Nowhere 

Grimalkin and the Shrike


They'd booked the cabin via Airbnb a month in advance, their first real trip off on their own since they started dating. Gretch really wanted to show her girlfriend the wonder of Maine in the wintertime, and Lynn eagerly agreed. Though they weren't like most couples in many ways (two sets of superpowers, Lynn's bizarre faerie body, etc.), they enjoyed the same things most people in love liked to share. Gretch insisted that they pack at least a few bags for a sense of normalcy, so in addition to the barista's clothes, they planned to bring books, boardgames, musical instruments, and ingredients for a few special meals.


As the day of departure approached, the forecast grew increasingly, well, grim; the owner of the cabin sheepishly inquired via email, asking if the needed to postpone their trip?


Nope! Absolutely not.


They would be well beyond the range of any of Lynn's glamoured creations, so teleportation would be out of the question, and that much snowfall certainly made any sort of flying too risky. They would be well and truly trapped, just like any other couple snowed in up in the mountains; perfect!


They took the train up to Portland, then drove their rental car up through twisting mountain roads through the woods; the views were truly breathtaking, and the Maine native was quietly delighted to see that wonder reflected in Lynn's face. And the cabin itself was delightful, a classic one room log cabin built over a hundred years ago, but with electricity and a working kerosine stove.


Over the course of the weekend, Gretchen composed songs on her acoustic guitar by the fireplace, while Lynn struggled to read the new Player's Handbook. They shared several bottles of wine as they gazed into the flames and discussed everything from videogames to politics to Jewish history. They shared a wonderful big bed, and delighted in each other's bodies. And they did the New York Times crossword puzzle together while sipping coffee and wearing bathrobes on a lazy Sunday morning, hair still damp from the tiny shower.


"Wow. We are so boring," muttered Gretch as they enjoyed their coffee on the couch.


"Mmm," Lynn agreed, curled up in her lap. "Ain't it great?"


And after a moment, Gretch smiled her little half smile, and kissed the top of her lover's head. "Yeah. I suppose you're right."

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Homely Feelings



Claremont Academy



 The snowstorm had hit Claremont Academy quite hard. It did the same as it did to the rest of the city. Everything was shut down. More so than it usually was on weekends. The snow had come quickly, and a bunch of volunteers, together with parts of the staff, did their best to go out and shovel the walkways once every few hours. Even if they were aware that there wasn’t much use to it, it was a nice way of bonding. And of exercising.


Most other students were inside, in the dorms. Some heard of the storm, simply turned over in their bed and decided to use the occasion for catching up on sleep. Not that it usually worked out, as most the common rooms were quite busy. People met up in different ones. Some played videogames, some watched movies. Others went onto an impromptu jam session, much to most people’s dislike.  And of course, quite a few stayed in their own rooms, or those of people they knew. Still, most people seemed to bear with the snowstorm quite well. Some few courageous souls even ventured outside, into the storm itself. Most quickly decided it wasn’t the best of ideas. Some went to do their things regardless.



And then there was Jann Fa-Re-slash-Lo-Nah. He’d gotten up at 7 AM like usual, ready for his weekend routine. By the time he’d finished his in-bed pull-ups (very stealthily as to not wake up Jake, his roommate), something caught his attention. The window, or more specifically what it showed. He’d gone to bed last night with the usual sight of green. But when he got up, it looked like something more like what he was used to from home.


Through the darkness of an early winter morning, his eyes, accustomed to the darkness of winter (except that it was dark all the time!), and naturally able to see in these conditions to begin with, spotted a welcome sight. That of snow. And not just the tiny slivers of snow they called “winter” here. No, an actual mantle of snow, covering the ground, leaf-less trees, and everything else. Even the lights in the park were almost entirely covered. Memories of home came to Jann. It had been a few months since he’d left to attend Claremont. Communication had been rare. His homeland did not have the benefits of mobile phones or internet – just yet, apparently there had been some talk of getting it in the Royal Palace after Jann had sent a letter. If there was one thing On, his brother, cared about it was modernizing.


Jann had had his concerns about On’s suggestions, but ever since his arrival at Claremont, those had faded and sometimes even become excitement. There were many things that this place did well, especially when compared to his homeland. But he had also seen the problems. Hunting was difficult, and the rivers did not offer much in terms of bounty. Jann had heard of hunting in the forest to the Sun-Rest, or West, as they called it down here. He’d also heard of one of the students being an experienced hunter, one who knew how to utilize every part of his prey’s body. So far, he’d not had time to go after either. The forest was tempting, but other things were a priority, and so far Jann had been busy with the other part of living at Claremont – the school. But, now that a time of rest and recovery was imminent, he would have to track down this fellow student of his. A true hunter would probably prove to be a valuable ally.


Jann snapped out of his thoughts. This usually didn’t happen, strange. He’d not thought much about home these past few months. He’d met a lot of nice people, the stay was good, and there was nothing to complain about. And he was used enough to staying away from home, having trained in all kinds of places ever since his childhood. But the sight of all this snow, it had caused something. Something he’d not really felt before. He wasn’t sure how to describe it. For just a moment, he thought of home. It was Star-Stay season. The time when the sun gathered power again, when soon it would come back onto the sky, and chase away the stars. Other stars, as he knew now, but even if they believed the sun was a star here, it was not the same. He’d been preparing for his personal festivities. But it was not the same down here. Not only because the sun showed its face every day, but also, as he now realized, because he was alone.


Some people had shown interest in his preparation. Some of the teachers, who had learned of it through a variety of channels, and some of his fellow students. Either they saw him preparing, or heard it some way. But it was not the same. There was nobody who knew the ins and outs. Nobody to proclaim the phrases and follow the procedures of those rituals he was not able to do yet. Be it because of age, rank (even if he was the prince!), or a simple lack of knowledge. Plus, he lacked equipment. Some things could be gotten from stores. He’d found an online store selling products that looked similar to what he would have had at home. But, he realized, what he missed most was his family. The rituals, his mother at the centre of them all. His sister, the time he would normally spend sparring with her. And his brother, who would tell him all about the world of the flightless, the world Jann now knew from first-hand experience. The meals, the ones for Star-Stay, but also the ones on the tail-end of every Solitary Hunt. Being part of the royal family had meant he always had an open invitation to them. And they always were enjoyable.


He looked downwards, at his phone. He’d wasted more time than he could afford on these thoughts. So, he grabbed his shirt (a plain white one, the others always ended up getting destroyed) and got dressed, before stealthily sneaking out of the room, and out of the dorms as a whole. Once he was outside, he let the feeling sink in. All this snow, completely untouched. The temperature, finally at a level he enjoyed. And the cool wind, the one he knew how to ride. He took a few steps to the side of the building, and held his hands into the snow. The wind blasted against his naked arms, the cold sense of the snow was on his hands. He’d already wasted time; he was already behind his plan. But, did that plan really matter? He’d have enough time soon, and he’d have the entire gym for himself all day.


He spread out his wings. One small jump, and off he was. He didn’t need to move much, he had experience in letting the wind carry him. His exercise could wait; he would enjoy the weather for now.

Edited by olopi
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Winter Viewing

Claremont Academy Dorms

Lillian King stared out of the window of her dorm room. The world outside was blanketed in thick layers of snow, both in the air and the ground.  Through the blizzard she could make out a few strange figures below. Some resembled spiders if they were made of some strange combination ice, snow and snowflakes. Others looked closer to humans crafted from jagged icicles. They twirled and danced in the blizzard that rained down on the city.

She sighed as she wrapped her black and purple blanket around herself and closed the curtains. The weather felt off to her in some impercivable way, but there was little she could do. The dorm had been snowed in and her powers gave her little protection over the freezing weather. At least class had been cancelled. No way anyone was leaving the building in this weather. A small consolation to Lilly as she was still trapped inside a buidling full of students.

That thought alone made her shiver harder. Memories of Thornwood came back to her. Imagining them with even a quarter of the powers she had seen here felt horrible.

She shuffled back to her bed and went back to browsing the internet on her laptop, a stream of youtube videos and some music loaded and ready to keep her company. There was a some running outside her room, followed by some laughter. A slow, sad sigh leaked out as she started scrolling through her choices.

A knock came from her door. It nearly made Lilly leap out of the bed. Her heart was racing as she tried to calm down. “Uh, just a sec.” She called out as struggled out of her bed, which had only started to get nice and warm. A quick look in the mirror to make sure her eyeliner was still holding up and she opened the door.

Angel Davis was standing there. From what Lilly recalled she gave herself The White Witch, though the reason for the name escaped her other than the fact she had access to real magic. “Hey. Noah and the others managed to find some movies and are getting them ready downstairs. They were wondering if you were interested in joining them.”

“What kind of movies?” Lilly asked. Angel shurgged. “I think they said the ‘Bad-good’ kind. Whatever that means. I think Noah one of them had a killer snowman in them. ”

Black fingernails tapped against the door while Lilly processed. She looked back into her room with the Laptop. Then her attention went back to Angel who was still waiting for an answer.

“…I guess I could watch a few. Snow day after all.”  Lilly relented.

Angel smiled. “Cool. I need to see anyone else is interested. I’ll see you down there.” And with that the younge witch started making her way down the dorm hall to another room. Lilly took a step ouside her room and closed the door. Perhaps the sutdents here really were not as bad as Thornwood High.

That thought managed to bring a small smile to her face as she started making her way downstairs.

Edited by Darksider42
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Creatures Stirring

Bombshell and Jack of all Blades


Espadas Apartment


“Hush, hush, you’ll wake everyone up again,” Talya’s voice was soft, and her footfalls even softer as she padded into the nursery that the twins shared to collect her wide-awake son before he could wake up his sisters with his babbling. The thief smiled despite herself as she scooped up the blonde baby and pressed a kiss to those almost-white curls as she swooped him out of the room and across the apartment to hopefully let the rest of the Espadas family sleep.


“I suppose someone was bound to inherit the night-owl tendencies, hmm?” Talya kept her voice low as she returned with Terry in her arms to where her cup of tea was cooling next to her favorite chair. “Or maybe you just wanted to watch the snow fall?”


Clearly, Talya didn’t expect a response as she let Terry pull himself up on her curled fingers, absently smiling at his pleased shrieks but her gaze kept turning to the windows as the heavy snowfall blanketed the city.


Someone less observant would have missed the clump of white that dislodged itself from the edge of the building’s roof to fall onto the unusually hardy evergreen shrubs weaving about Min’s planters. The landing was almost silent and even straining her ears Talya couldn’t make out any footfalls against the din of the weather but it was no surprise when the door to the apartment was unlocked and opened painstakingly slowly to minimize the creak.


Erik had already taken off his no-doubt snow covered greatcoat as he rounded the corner, his mask and thermal shirt bunched up in one hand. The other held a handful of snow compacted down into ice against a dark bruise spreading over his right side about halfway up his ribcage. A soft hiss of annoyance turned quickly to chagrin as he realized he wasn’t the only one still up. “Hey. Somebody being fussy?”


Talya’s posture relaxed minutely at the disturbance. Her gaze swept over Erik, absently cataloguing the injury as she stood and shifted Terry to her hip, “No, just nocturnal. I suppose that’s no great surprise. Really, it's a wonder that any of them sleep at all.”


Terry, for his part, looked most pleased with having successfully garnered two parents attention entirely to himself. Every so often he glanced around for his other mother but two out of three was great success all things considered. To celebrate, he greeted his father with his latest string of babbled words, the glow from his ‘bad eye’ casting odd shadows around the room.


With Terry balanced on one hip, Talya reached up to gather the well stocked first aid kit from above the fridge. “Do you think you broke any ribs?” She asked as she set it down on the kitchen island. The light caught her faint smile as she added, “You’re lucky that I’m the one staying up tonight. It’s winter, after all. Or should I say, whatever miscreant that thwacked you is likely lucky that it's me. Strangled by plants is a terrible way to go.”


Absently, she shook her head to free her hair from the baby’s excited flailing. ”Take Terry, and I’ll see to your ribs. You might have better luck settling him before he manages to rouse the entire house.”


Erik looked suitably chastised as he took the infant in his left arm while moving his right to give Talya better access to his side. “Hey little man, staying up working on your standup routine? Getting the patter down?” He hissed through his teeth as the Englishwoman went to work, quickly giving their son a reassuring grin and bouncing him up and down. Of the three of them Erik was unfortunately better at getting the kids riled up than settled.


“Ribs are fine, I think. I just…” The swordsman sighed and took on an expression of ultimate wounded pride. “I slipped on some ice and fell onto a fire hydrant under a snowbank. There were five kids trying to do some looting with the roads clogged. Wait, six!” He quickly corrected himself, gesturing dramatically with the arm holding Terry and whirling the delighted child about. “Stealing snowmobiles, which is almost clever. Scared them off without throwing a punch but once they were gone I jumped down to see if they’d damaged anything and… well…”


“This is what you get for picking style over traction in your footwear,” Talya replied dryly, her blonde head bent down so she could watch her hands as she worked. Despite the scolding note in her tone, her fingers were gentle as she wrapped the bruise.


Terry shrieked in glee as he was whirled about while Talya tucked in the edges of the bandage. Running her hand over it to make sure the bandages were smooth and flat, she clucked her tongue disapprovingly as she tucked a cold pack in to help with the bruising. “It could have been your neck.”


“Ha, yeah. Now that would have been embarrassing.” Erik chuckled for a moment before catching her expression, hastily turning it into a cough. Tucking Terry into the crook between his elbow and side the swordsman covered her hand with his own. “Hey, we’ve got a couple decades before you have to worry about me breaking a hip walking down the street, cielo. Give it a day and you probably won’t even be able to see the bruise. I’d give mi hermanita a call if it was serious, yeah?”


Turning about to face Talya directly he wrapped his right arm around her waist, ignoring the twinge under the bandages to pull her in close. “I could probably convinced to stay inside until the snow stops coming down, though. The fliers can handle anybody dumb enough to go out in that tonight, I’ll wait for the plow.” He offered her a lopsided grin that made maintaining a stern countenance a challenge.


Mollified despite herself, Talya leaned into the proffered arm around her slim waist with only the softest of grumbles. Her nose scrunched - an expression that never would have flickered across her features in persona. The indomitable Bombshell was more prone to a haughty arched brow, after all or perhaps a composed smirk.


“I highly doubt it. In a couple of decades, you’ll probably still be falling into dimensional rifts on your way to fetch milk.” Her tone was dry, bemused as she let her cheek rest against Erik’s shoulder. Reaching out for their son with those elegant hands as her smile softened, she added, “Though, you’ll probably have an entourage following you at that point. Why don’t you have Vince listen for any true emergencies and come to bed?”


“Twist my arm,” he agreed with an exaggerated sigh, handing over a yawning Terry. He leaned over to give the infant a kiss on his forehead before planting another against Talya’s neck just below her ear. “Y’know, I guess they probably do get it from me,” he mused slyly as they left the living room. “I’m not really tired, either.”

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