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Vanguard: Holding Out For a Hero

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Ironclad Charity Luncheon

Liverpool, England
Monday July 17, 2017

2:00 PM

 

Joseph Walker's Ironclad Charity had the sort of inspirational story that was begging to be turned into an inevitable "based on true events" movie.  Dockworker's and other "toughs" of Liverpool banded together with the sole purpose of giving a voice to the voiceless.  A true support organization with a dedicated focus to helping victims of abuse.  The head of the organization, the aforementioned Joseph Walker, was to perform an incredible feat of strength for the whole crowd.

 

The luncheon wasn't completely a high society affair.  With the various rugged members of the charity scattered about providing a contrast from the wealthy  Of course some people were there just to rub elbows with the wealthy, or to even propose business opportunities.  At the end of the day a majority of the guests were still there with the intention of giving back to a worthy cause.

 

Erick Sloane and Agnus Stone, however, weren't there simply to give back to a good cause.  For years, the Vanguard has been waging a battle against the distribution  of the Darwin X supervirus.  Their latest lead for a distribution route was in Liverpool.  With Dawn Farrignton's research going so far as to suggest that their charitable host could be at the center of the distribution.  

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Joseph sighed to himself as he ran through his index cards once more, though he was by no means unintelligent he had an unfortunate tendency to forget and fumble under pressure, though he paid no mind to this in his day to day life, prefering to laugh it off and make amends with any offended parties to the upmost of his abilities the idea of damaging the cause which many hard working Liverpudlians had scrounged up the time and effort to support and carry on their shoulders even under of the difficult climate the whole of the united kingdom was undergoing lately was something he would never be able to forgive himself for, so he had his safety net in place, quietly retreating to check his cards and chant quietly to himself the names he needed to remember and suppress his accent.

 

fidgeting nervously in his Sunday best costume, steel plates buffed and polished to a mirror sheen and helmet clipped to hhis belt  he peers out from behind the central podium to glance across the myriad faces of the assembled crowed, the comforting faces of his friends and fellow ironclads intermittent amongst those of strangers.

 

with a last flip through of his cards and a brief scanning of the audience he tucked them away beneath the large vulcanized rubber band on his left arm, the emblazoned symbol of the stylized anchor reminding him of the good he had so far done but also the good he could yet acheive, grounding him in his convictions as he re-enters the crowd on a leisurely approach to the next batch of bigshots he had yet to meet a list of names he'd only recently put to faces for the most part; he had been a fan of Agnus Stone's music since...well before the incident, one of the few memories of bonding with his adoptive brother was over the enjoyment of her music and it gave him comfort to think that where ever he was and whatever he was doing, Pete was out there, still listening along with him.

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"Not that I'm complaining.  A beautiful woman around my arms makes for a lovely evening either way.  But, if we get photographed together I'm going to come off looking like some sort of Lothario with as many pictures of Dawn and I as there are floating out there."  Erick joked as he and Agnus took to their seats.  Dee was hanging behind to act in a support role.

 

The male gymnast turned venture capitalist was wearing a plaid jacket over a white polo shirt.  His tan trousers sat comfortably over his expensive dress shoes.  An outfit that while not in poor taste, didn't sit at home with the number of people treating this as a black tie affair.  Including the rest of the males at their table.  Put their immediate acquaintances hadn't been filled with people under the Ministry's payroll, so a lack of coordination was to be expected.

 

It'd be a shame if this whole thing really is a front for a Darwin X operation.  He thought to himself out of habit.  Though without Dee within range, Agnus was not able to hear his thoughts in turn.

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Agnus had lost count of the number of events like this she had attended since she gained her powers, not that this was due to her powers more that it coincided with her turning her life around. Still, if it was a side effect of being a successful businesswoman she was more than happen to occasional put on a posh frock and turn up to free food and drink. Oh and help the Ministry obviously.

 

"I only turn up for follow-up stories these days like how the sad breakup leads to disaster date, not that I'm calling you a disaster date."

 

For tonight's "date", she'd worn another designer dress from a young designer she'd found herself, a wide band of red through the middle with white then blue either side.

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GM

 

Lauren Morra, a publicist for the event, walked up to Joseph.  "Mr. Walker we're ready for you.  After your speech we will proceed to bring in the objects for your display.  Then there will be a photo session with the kids and finally the meet and greet with all the various patrons as others give their speeches.  We're having a little trouble getting the lorry back here, but if need Mr. Kingston has suggested you can even carry the articulated lorry from downhill yourself.  Are you ready?"

 

A server dropped a manila envelope on the table Agnus and Erick were sitting at.  Inside contained quick profiles of various members of the charity.  Specifically those with a criminal background.  One of which, Eddie Kingston, was a former fence.  If anyone was in the business of selling illegal superviruses he would certainly be an attractive offer.

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"Thank you Lauren and please, call me Joseph, everyone does." he says with a gentle grin as he Unfastens his helmet from his belt and tucks it under his arm, the prompt hastily duct taped to the inside of the domed metal headpiece all but invisible to anyone who wasn't looking directly down into it.

 

"I'm certain I can give Eddie a lift once everything is concluded, thank you for all your hard work." he adds with sincerity before stepping out to address the gathered patrons, it was still difficult for him to comprehend that the people around him were adults as he loomed over them like a classroom of small children at desks rather than a floor of adults at dinner tables.

 

Knowing better than to tap on the rather expensive looking microphone resting on the podium in front of him he opts to clear his throat to call the attention of the assorted guests

 

"Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen; First I would like to welcome you to the Ironclad Charity Luncheon, I hope getting here wasn't bothersome for those of you whom have travelled a great to be here with us today" using the slight pause between breaths to quickly move his eyes to his prompt and back to look out into the crowd again all but imperceivable speed.

 

"and on top of that, I would like to thank you, one and all for your support, without which we at ironclad couldn't continue to provide the support and protection to victims of abuse without; so thank you to our generous supporters whom have enabled us to expand our capabilities father than i had ever dreamed;Thank you to our selfless staff whom have given up their free time to this noble cause without hesitation and thank you to the numerous allies and friends we have made in our work." humbly bowing his head with eyes gently closed, he didn't need to look at his prompt for the next bit.

 

"As many of you know I was myself the victim of an abusive father and an absent mother...I remember quite clearly the constant fear and awe i held my father in; He was an amazingly strong man...able to lift an engine from a car unassisted; how the whole world would spin when he brought that same strength down on my head." pausing for a moment to calm himself before continuing "back then, there was no-one in the world who was more powerful in my mind than my father, I didn't believe that anyone could protect me from him even if they wanted too and so I suffered in terrified silence." once again pausing to let the weight of his words settle on the minds of his audience.

 

"But I was Fortunate enough to have teachers whom noticed that i was often late and injured upon arrival and a short simple investigation later i was removed from that harmful environment and taken into the care of the walker family." he can't help but smile a little even as his eyes begin to glisten with beginnings of tears "God rest their souls."

 

"What happend next is as they say, history, I was granted an all but invulnerable body and immense physical strength by the same incident that took my parents and step brother from me and I Decided that i would use them to combat that fear i had felt so very clearly, to make it clear to children and their parents whom are suffering abuse from a loved one that there are people who are stronger, people who can and more importantly will protect you; this was how Ironclad began and it is thanks to you that this pledge resounds across our great country." he feels his back straightening in instinctual pride.

 

"It is thanks to you that we are able to provide those protections and safe spaces to those whom so dearly need them; So once again; Thank you so much for your Support, for your kindness, for your help in putting a stop to domestic abuse all over the United Kingdom." allowing himself a brief moment to look out across the room and miriad faces before him "Now ladies, gentlemen and those whom identify otherwise if you'll excuse me, there are a few matters that i need to attend to before the show get get under way; so i leave you in our next speaker's capable hands and the care of our wonderful staff of volunteers."

Edited by Exaccus

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Agnus wasn't a massive public speaker, she preferred to sing over talking obviously, but she could turn a half decent speech if needed. It also meant she could appreciate a decent turn when she heard it, she could appreciate a good performer when she heard one.

 

"The kids not half bad, do we know anything about him? I mean everyone here could be suspect right?" she whispered to Erick

 

She was trying to stay aware of everything going on around her, whilst trying to enjoy herself as well, she didn't get to go to as many parties as you'd think.

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"Young, successful, and superhumanly strong.  Just your type."  Erick teased half seriously.  "It's not all sunshine's and rainbows.  His file said he was abused as a kid.  Dad was a straight up bastard.  But, he doesn't have his own criminal record.  Really, he doesn't have much of a record at all according to these files.  The ministry doesn't have too much on him, unless Dee missed something while writing these up for us.  Which for a public powerhouse is odd.  Odd enough to make me suspect someone covered up his history.  So if this really is a front, this guy's either the muscle or the mastermind."

 

It wouldn't be too farfetched to believe either.  Joseph had a physique that would make Charles Atlas jealous.   With the sort of power that would make the Russian Darwinites from years ago look like a joke.  It was the ballsiest most attention-grabbing cover Doctor Zero could have created for an operation.  But, then again he did try and publicly assassinate Edward Farrington on multiple occasions with little thought to the possible political fallout.  

 

"Maybe one of us should try and mingle?"

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Joeseph knew better than to put off what he could do now till later but there was a certain level of decorum that he'd learned must be kept in these events and whilst there was nothing physically stopping him from leaving he found himself slowed to a ambling gait as he made his way across the room being brought into various conversations by various patrons and event goers and contributing a little until he found room to excuse himself politely and move a few more feet towards the exit before being drawn back in.

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"Needs to work on the beard a little before he's just my type," Agnus added with a laugh

 

Whilst she was a little rusty she knew how to work a crowd and truth be told she was probably going to attract the most attention anyhow. Even if it was a round of wait I know you from somewhere...

 

It was sometimes exhausting but she'd come to term with it just being the way thing went

 

"Okay, I guess I'll work for the crowd whilst you do that lurking stuff you do so well. Want me to try and chat to the kid whilst we're at it?"

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GM

 

"Just make sure he's not the disaster date either."  Erick teased before slipping away into the crowd.  Only to quickly find himself caught by Lauren Morra.  In a fascinating display of bad timing the publicist was able to actually get hold of him just before he could slip deep into the crowd and get a good look around.  "What brings the ever-charitable Erick Sloane to our humble organization?  If you were looking to, I'm sorry to say Jonathan is the star.  Now a partnership.  That, we can work with."

 

As Joseph stepped through the exit door on the other side what he found wasn't the staging area for the big display of strength his charity the organization had planned.  Instead, he found himself standing over a pile of rubble.  There was police tape and the air smelled slightly of oil.  Turning his head back behind him, what remained of the grounds was in an equally sordid state.    However, there were two familiar sights.  A half torn banner with the name of his charity and the very podium he had just spoken to. 

 

What Joseph wasn't aware of was that he was not alone.  At least not mentally.  On the other end of the room staring directly at him was Erick Sloane.  Rather Erick was being shown the state of the gala grounds in a vision.  "I'm sorry are you alright?"  Morra asked the former gymnast as blood dripped from his nose reeling back from the premonition.

 

Agnus fared better in her attempt to near Joseph, sneaking past the crowd to the exit door.  Only the man she bumped into was not Joseph Walker who was currently nowhere to be seen.  Instead, she crashed into Eddie Kingston the former fence.  He was young, about 17 or 18, and his sleeveless white shirt and jeans were a far cry from the attire of upper-class society.  But, it wasn't a strange display among the dockworkers attending the function either. "Oy.  You been 'avin too many bevys?  Well ain't you a proper bird?  Me name's Eddie."  Eddie called out in a thick 'Scouse accent that made it hard to get a real read for what he was saying as he offered his hand to Agnus.

 

And that might have been a real concern.  But, not as much as the fact that the Eddie Kingston listed in the profile Dee had written up was from Somerset not Liverpool.  

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Dreadnought feels what might once have been a stomach churning in him at the sight of the carnage flashing before his eyes "no...no!" he whispered to himself as he claps his hands over his head and barely avoids making the mistake of slumping against something in shock, his solid legs wobbling only briefly before reaffirming themselves.

 

A rough shake of his head cleared off the last of the vision but left him weighed down beneath the 

 

He wouldn't let that happen, he couldn't let that happen. not now, not ever.

 

But its a helluva rock and anvil ive wedged myself between...this event is supposed to make people feel safe and protected, can't go calling it off now.

 

He felt his resolve hardening to impervium within him as he took his next step forwards "Ill handle it..." he mumbles to himself as continues on his way "whatever might come."

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Agnus was a little distracted as she made her way through the crowd, Deja Vous was a terrible thing when you'd lived hundreds of lives, and she couldn't help but feel that she knew the kid from somewhere. Still, a really good memory helped to remember details like punks like Eddie.

 

"Well, outa your league love." it was a long way from her normal thick London accent but with an ear for languages she did a near perfect Liverpool accent. "Do I dare ask what you're doing back here, such long way from your home?"

 

She suspected she really wasn't going to like the answer, but she had to try at least.

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