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[IC] Smacking before Packing

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GM

 

Friday, June 9th, 2017
Caniff Street, The Waterfront, Freedom City
6:21 PM

 

Summer break was rapidly approaching. Which meant a few things. Lots of tests, and lots of people getting ready to leave Claremont for a while. Jann Fa-Re was amongst them, summer break being the only time of the year he had enough time to head home. The fact the dates coincided with Sun-Stay, the Avians’ largest holiday, certainly were a factor too.

 

There still were a few things that had to be taken care of in Freedom City. Jann had known that Corinne, one of Claremont’s most recent students, had been trying to learn more about locations in the city. So he’d simply dragged her along. That was two hours ago.

 

Ever since, the two of them had worked their way northwards from Claremont Academy, with Jann mentioning and pointing out all sorts of places, from stores, to a goth club/bar that looked like an old church, to places that were easy to hide in. Some had taken up only a few seconds (a small park not too far off the road (“difficult to find, keep it in mind”), some had taken longer. The mall had taken quite a while, with Jann buying all sorts of assorted things, but specifically not heading to the supermarket yet (“will be too much weight, on the way back home”).

 

Right now, the two of them were sitting in a small Mexican themed café/restaurant, Jann surrounded by, at this point, quite a few bags. He’d specifically ordered multiple glasses of their special salsa, and was now waiting for the waiter to deliver them, all the while looking over a list on his phone and drinking some soda.

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Corinne didn't know how she felt about Jann.  He seemed friendly enough, but he had... mannerisms that threw her for a loop.  Of course... that sounded bad, but he was a bit jarring at times.  

 

As it stood, however, he decided to pull the outgoing Corinne along to explore, and with Hannah busy, it seemed like an okay idea.  Even if Jann as a tour guide meant that she was getting his odd tactical assessments over all of this.  She was wearing a pair of acid wash jeans, and a rather odd-yellow green shirt with with a print of a mother-goddess, and some band's logo or something of the sort, with sneakers and sunglasses.  She took his assessments in stride, nodding a little bit as they kept on going it was clear he was fulfilling a mission that she was really not on the same page for.

 

She sipped at the cola as she looked at him, the mechanical way he spoke, like it was a script.  He reminded her of the worst stereotypes of people from LA, but here the lack of self-awareness seemed... innocent.  Like the script was there ot help him fit in, not because he only knew that.

 

 

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PC

 

Jann bowed down and moved around one of the many bags at his feet. It looked like it was the one by a sports store he’d taken a quick stop at. He’d purchased some hockey equipment there, a few sticks and a dozen pucks. His justification had been pretty simple, hockey was not a thing back in the Aerie. Of course, that amount of gear wasn’t exactly cheap, which did bring up a few questions, since even Corinne was aware that it wasn’t exactly a wealthy society.

 

He got back up, and continued staring at his phone as if nothing was happening, typing in something, then scrolling a bit. Next came a sentence that Corinne almost certainly didn’t expect. “Heh, come look at this.”, with even a slight chuckle.

 

A quick move over to the other side of the table didn’t reveal a funny cat video, or even just a picture. Just the phone’s default text editor. Which wasn’t particularly special, until Corinne actually read the most central piece of text.

 

Being followed. Act natural, we leave after the salsa and walk outside. Walk to the park. Open, hopefully will attract attention and make them stop. If not, we confront them. Multiple most likely, but you might be able to escape.

 

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She frowned, artfully, but then she had an expressive face.  Though it skewed towards a more stately or regal bearing, though it was hidden by her easy smiles and other things.  Her breath caught when she saw what he had written, her back stiffened, and she didn't look around.  Instead she moved a hand, that shook a little to pick up her cup and finish her soda.

 

This was not something that she knew what to say to, what to react to, really.  She laced her fingers together and stretched her arms up above her head and arched her back in an graceful movement, as she closed her eyes and breathed in slowly, and then exhaled, trying to make certain she looked calm.  Hoping that she would not have to do engage in a fight as Jann did not seem the type to just run from something like this.

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GM

 

Jann barely moved, either watching everything around him, or doing none of the sorts. It was hard to tell. “Will be fine. “ And then, the waiter returned, carrying a bunch of simple plastic bottles, all in all probably a fair amount. “Keep the rest. “ Jann handed him a bunch of notes, put the bottles into his bag, and finished up his drink in one gulp.

 

He used both of his hands to grab the different bags, standing up simultaneously, and making a first few steps towards the door, making sure to keep up the same pace as Corinne, and to stay somewhat close to her. It was only a walk across the street from where they’d been staying to the park. They passed through one crowd on their way to the crossing, even if thanks to Jann they generally split nicely down the middle.

 

The park was rather small, the sort of thing one could reliably cover within a few minutes. It was surprisingly empty, only a few people walking around. Jann leaned in to Corinne, speaking quieter than usual. “Keep walking. Don’t be surprised. Be ready to get away, if you want to.” Which they did, until after maybe 10 seconds, which certainly felt a lot longer, all the sudden, Jann spun around. And somehow, within the blink of an eye, held one of the previously held hockey sticks in his hand.

 

Immediately, the one person currently entering the park changed his stance, looking a lot more stern all the sudden, as if he was ready for what was about to come. But the bigger concern came barely moments afterwards, during the staredown. A slow clap. And another, followed by many more. An older teen-slash-young adult turned up from behind one of the trees, clapping slowly. His outfit was held in a light grey, fitting perfectly, with a mask associated with it.

 

“Good job, you’re not as bad as I thought.”

 

Jann had taken a few steps backwards as soon as this new arrival had turned up, and he looked visibily upset, reacting immediately, shouting. “Raktath! “ Whatever it meant, it probably was nothing good, judging by the context a swear. Then, he turned towards Corinne, in such a way he still had some idea of what the other two were doing. “Run! Do not stop! No phone signal!”

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Her heart thudded loudly in her ears as it happened, as the they came out, as Jann brandished that hockey stick like a weapon.  A step back, from them, her breath caught again.  Then she turned, and she ran.  She had made it clear before she was not a fighter.  She hated it.  It offered precious little she found appealing.  Ther was no beauty there.  Only violence.  Only pain.  Ugliness.

 

This seemed no different, as she heard precious little apart from his urge to run as she did that.  She headed towards a gap in a long legged, and frantic dash.  She a liability after all, and staying wouldn't help with this.  Though she might be able to get helps, cops, other Claremonters, something.  Her mind racing wildly.

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GM

 

There was another entrance to the park not far away, within view. It wouldn’t take long to get there, and Corinne ran, heart pounding. It felt like ages, as she continued to run. She heard wood, most likely the hockey stick, hit the ground behind her, but she didn’t have time to look around, she just continued to push ahead.

 

It was only when she arrived at the other entrance that she dared to even take a peek back. Jann was breathing heavily, moving through the air with a lot more grace than Corinne had expected, attempting to avoid … something? It didn’t appear like anything was being shot at him. Then, she noticed that the person that had originally been following them was now chasing after her, which gave her a good reason to keep running.

 

The street was empty, so that was where she ran. There was not much time to think, it was the fastest path. And there was no crowd to watch, surprisingly enough. Right across the intersection, her pursuer not too far behind her. And as she was in the middle of it, two more people stepped out, both of their intents clear.

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Corinne was not unathletic.  She couldn't live in her mother's household and be a laz-about.  That, her natural athleticism, and her gymnast training, coupled with her ability to step on air as if it was a solid meant she was running.  The man chasing her would note a glowing ripple in the air around her, trailing after her form.

When she arrived at fence, she just vaulted over it and started to... where were people?  Freedom City was a bustling metropolis this...  her chest heaving, as she skidded to a halt.  Something was off.  But before she could really do anything further, it was crashing down around her.

 

"Leave me alone!"

 

She started to run again, as the space around her started to rip and shred the was torn apart in an explosion of light, as she changed.  Her clothes reforming as it happened, her hair a riotous mass of the variegated colors of the dawn to make the summer dress she now wore as well, that distorting, rippling, artifacting light shimmered and moved around her body.  her bare feet hitting the asphalt, and deforming it as if she weighed far more than she did, she lifted her arms, and then threw them downward, and under her the asphalt rippled more like water.

 

She charged straight for the two in front of her, eyes searing and depthless light.

 

 

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GM

 

The two men in the group now fighting Corinne flinched when she changed, while the girl, wearing sunglasses, seemed to not really care too much. Even when Corinne charged straight at her, she didn’t flinch. Meanwhile, the other guy, dressed up in just a mask covering his face, the rest of his clothes streetwear, jumped backwards. And upwards.

 

He floated in the air, occasionally dropping or rising a few inches, about 30 ft. away. He’d made the distance in the blink of an eye, clearly assisted by some sort of power. And once he’d stabilized himself somewhat, there was the sound of cracking, of metal working against concrete, as first the contents of a nearby trashcan, and then the can itself, rose up to meet him in the sky, a nearby streetlight also trembling, probably close to being ripped out of the ground.

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Zenith waved her hands about, and then things changed.

 

Her power poured out struck the rippling ground around her, and then the asphalt exploded and out in a twisting, swirling wave, as she deformed the ground around her, and sent it up and over at them, before it crashed down onto them all, as the power pulsed through the black slurry throbbing with her power.  It moved like a living thing, trying to wrap around them and tug them down to the ground.

 

As this happened she moved into the air, walking towards the the one who was pulling away.  "Maybe I was trying to save you."  Her voice a chaotic mass, jagged and colliding over herself, like a cacophony at war with itself.  

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GM

 

Both the two people that were still on the ground had to brace, as the very environment turned against them. However, both of them seemed proficient enough at what they were doing, outsmarting it at the last second, jumping away before it closed properly, leaving pillars of asphalt standing next to them.

 

The guy floating in the air was less fortunate, as he didn’t seem to have the manoeuvrability to evade. It wrapped around him, tying him down, just able to move his head.

 

Both of the ones who were still able to move freely continued onwards. The girl had already closed the distance, and then attacked, a punch to the side, which passed right through some of the visual noise surrounding Zenith. She added a follow-through, which didn’t connect with Zenith either, instead managing to hit the one who had started all of this, who had been in the process of running at the two women.

 

And all the while, more objects on the street began to float, another trash can and a fire hydrant joining the pile, the water released by the hydrant being ripped off floating in a bubble next to them.

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"I am going to ruin your day!"  That trainwreck of her voice coming into beautiful unison, and then breaking apart once more into ragged asymmetry, words running together and falling apart.  Her hands held open, like claws, as she brought them up and crossed her forearms and then threw them outward.  Like lacework, or outlines of shapes of things to come surrounded the people around her, before filling in the reality she redrew, like bubbling shades of reds interspersed with rainbow like veins before they hardened into rough hollow spheres around them, locking two in one and the other in the second.

She moved onto one of the objects, before they both rose in the air and then headed towards Jann and their friends. Zenith's jaw was clenching, and set, before her lips twisted into a tight little smile.  "Let's bring you back to your friends."

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GM

 

As it turned out, flying was a fair bit faster than running. It also gave you a much better look at the situation. The situation, which, at this point, didn’t look too good.

 

Where Jann had previously stood, all of his bags were on the ground, one or two having their content spill out, one or two looking a bit torn apart. Next to them, the hockey stick Jann had dropped. Finding the avian himself took a moment longer. He was barely standing upright, his previously white shirt essentially entirely red at this point. He was clutching his right shoulder, holding one of the swords he’d carried on him occasionally in his right hand, the other half of the set on the ground near him. His breathing was heavy enough to be noticeable even from the distance.

 

And meanwhile, his opponent didn’t look any worse off than he did back a few seconds ago. And just then, he turned his head, towards Zenith…

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She didn't wait. Zenith dropped one of those spheres onto the other man, riding it down the whole way as she threw one hand down as it accelerated. Lifting her other hand she reshaped the space around Jann into a half dome around him to shield him from the assailant, though allowing him to see what was happening.

 

The other sphere remained affixed in space, in the air.

 

"Am I interrupting?"  Came the exultant cry from her.  They wanted conflict, she'd give it to them.  They may even swear later they heard Wagner blasting as it happened. Zenith laughed, an echoing crescendo, as she leaped free of the sphere after impact. 

 

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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GM

 

The sphere came down, Zenith on top of it. Whoever her new opponent was, he didn’t seem to care. He just stood there, as if it wasn’t currently flying towards him. He waited, not even bracing himself or anything. It came closer, and then…

 

It simply stopped in mid-air, coming to a complete stop. The same went for Zenith, who was first thrown off by the sudden deacceleration, and then smacked forward, into some sort of invisible wall, surrounding this teenager, about as tall as her.

 

And then, all the sudden, she felt a stinging pain, as if somebody had stabbed her. Even if she couldn’t see any sort of attack happening, and it certainly hadn’t come from a long distance. Jann managed to get back onto both his feet properly, sounding quite strained.

 

“Watch … his fingers for att … acks…”

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Something struck her and it made her take a step back, and she blinked a little bit, as she was aware of him doing something, and the pain... but...  She sneered then as she looked at him.

 

"Fine.  FINE!"  The shimmering around her became more, sharper, before it burst out in a violent swirling outpouring of energy, as it spiraled around her counter to the pirouette she did, before leveling her eyes back onto him.  Her brilliant coruscating power struck at him, and then knocked him down as it hit him in two different directions.  "You brought this on yourselves!"

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GM

 

The energy struck its target. He looked at least somewhat surprised, as it took him off his feet, and made him drop onto the ground. Just as he impacted, however, something pushed against Zenith, as well as everything else in the area. The bubbles moved slightly, the trees looked like there was strong wind, some branches cracked.

 

Zenith didn’t really care, she was able to dodge whatever had pushed it all outwards. Solid air, perhaps? It had pushed against her shortly, before it had simply left her standing, and affected things behind her. She was now towering over her opponent, lying on the ground, but already ready to move again.

 

An opportunity Jann wouldn’t let go to waste. As soon as Null had hit the ground, Jann already had charged forwards, landing on his chest, his feet to the side so getting up would be more difficult. At which point, the Avian yelled out something, and, quite literally, tore into his opponent, unleashing a flurry of swipes from his claws, not stopping for even a moment, just continuing to attack. One slash after another, at least some going through whatever was shielding his opponent, and drawing some blood of their own. Which made it hard to tell which blood belonged to whom.

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Zenith laughed contemptuously, one hand sweeping back her hair, and the spheres rose in response, as her colors shifted to harshly cool greens and blues.  One sphere slammed hard into the other before it drove that one right at the man on the ground.  Then they started to rise again before her formed shimmered, and she folded in on herself, before bursting back into atop of the sphere.

 

She glanced to Jann, while keeping pressure down on the man who had injured him, and attacked her directly.  She was more than a little done with this, with them.  

 

 

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GM

 

Between the pressure from Zenith’s force and the Avian sitting ontop of his chest, the attacker could not do much to react to Jann’s attacks. Some of them seemed to simply get stopped without actually hurting him, but many more came through, some not doing much, some drawing more blood. They were focused on a few distinct spots, and even as he continued, Jann did not slow down at all, each swipe executed with the same force as the dozens before.

 

Even if more and more of them simply glanced off, or maybe it just felt that way. There wasn’t much else happening, no traffic, no walking crowds, nothing. Completely silent, save for the fight currently happening. It only got louder again as something crumbled. Namely, the sphere Zenith had locked the girl that had attacked her in. The girl, who, at this point, was no longer wearing a hoodie, revealing the fact she had two large metallic arms. She crawled out of a hole she’d made, but even then looked ready to attack at any moment.

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Zenith turned towards the other woman on her toes, standing in the air. With a wave of a hand there was a twisting spiral of fire and force, as her color scheme shifted again, back to the colors of dawn, as there was a lock crackle in the air around her.  Her power arching out and filling the space around her.  Striking through the spheres and punishing the man who had started this.  "Stay.  Down."

 

Her anger showing, as the ground around her started to push upwards into spike like protrusions as she leveled a glare at the woman.  "Or run.  This is your choice what happens next." And then her power pulled back to her like a ripcurrent, trying to yank the other girl off of her feet.  "Test not my benevolence."  As her words came back to that terrible, beautiful harmony, a hand held up and aimed at that.

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GM

 

The man on the ground did his best to struggle. But between everything pushing down on him, even his best wasn’t enough. He was trying, but no matter his movements, they didn’t seem to faze Jann much. Most likely because just fighting through everything pushing him down required more strength than most people could muster.

 

The girl, on the other hand, was prepared. She jumped into the air as the current approached, managing to avoid it just barely. It was not a hop by any means, but a high jump. She managed to clear Zenith’s height without much issue, and moved forwards a fair amount, sailing over her enemy’s head. But that wasn’t the only thing, as she came down with a downwards heel kick, managing to connect with Jann’s head, who didn’t seem to properly notice it. He tucked his head back at the last moment, but it was still more than enough force to smack him backwards a fair amount, and leave him lying on the ground, another nasty wound added to what he’d already been displaying.

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Snarling Zenith curled her hands into claws and lifted them up, as her power erupted around her as she just pulled matter out of nowhere, shaping around her, and the inert guy, then she swatted her hands down, and she flung the three spheres up into the air, as high as she could.  "Do you not understand when I say stop!?"  It was an earnest expression as her distorted, cacophonous voice was a roar.  She dropped one knee, her hands shoved to the dirt, fingers digging into them, as if the pressure of her gesture was what was pushing them up higher and higher.  Spinning about as in orbit of each other s it happened.

 

She saw Jann and grew even angrier, the ground under warping as she glared upwards at them all the while, and then lifted her hands and spread her hands, and parted the group away from each other.

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GM

 

The spheres rose higher and higher, Zenith’s emotional state helping her quite literally reach new heights. They rose for quite some time, and also got further and further spread apart. And then, one moment to the next, as if it had been coordinated, the two containing the still active fighters broke open, getting torn apart with a massive force.

 

The woman jumped over to the third sphere, managing to clear way more distance than any average person could. She tore through the sphere bare-handed, and by the time Zenith had a chance to react, had already jumped towards a nearby rooftop, carrying both her allies on her shoulders.

 

As for the one who’d fought Jann, she’d lost him, focused on the woman instead. She’s only seen him also jump away, probably heading in the opposite direction.

 

As for Jann himself, he could not yet get up even if he clearly struggled to, and wanted to give chase. He spoke, even slower than he already did, clearly in some pain. “Cannot let them escape again. “

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Zenith's eyes narrowed, and the way she looked at him, Jann knew that this wasn't entirely the Corinne he had met.  "You cannot continue."  She looked back up towards where they had scattered, she lost track of one... but the other group.  "Yet."  The voice coming together in beautiful, horrifying unison, as she raised a hand, and that power of hers, shifting, distorting around her hand, before it lanced through him.

 

It hurt.  A lot.

 

To her she was repairing a pattern.  Reorganizing the chaos that had been visited on to him.  When it was done, she had pulled him back together.

 

Then she shimmered, and lept towards the floating remains of her spheres.  Appearing in a crackle of her power, warping the remains of the matter, even as they were fixed in air.  She looked towards the direction of where most of them had gone, the intent of hunting them down clear.

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GM

 

Jann did not visibly react to the pain. No heavy breathing, no gasping for air, not even a sound. He just calmly laid there, looking upwards, tilting his head to the side a bit, perhaps to see if he couldn’t follow wherever the attackers were now fleeing to.  

 

And then, the spheres. All three had been broken in large chunks. The one containing the original attacker was almost entirely dust, only a few pieces still holding together. The other two were more intact, their bottom still fully holding together.

 

Being this high up was quite a feeling. About twice as high as all nearby buildings, with a great view down to the river, and over to Bayview, even Claremont was visible. And in the other direction, Downtown, the entire skyline. But no trace of the attackers. They were no longer on the rooftops, and not visibly running down any street. Wherever they’d gone, they’d been prepared.

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