Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Jumbus
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Jumbus My life be like oooooh-aaaah ooooh-aaaah

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A week later...









Wings of Law was finally out of the way. They were over, done, dusted. The most popular super group erased in a couple of weeks. And who was even left to take up that mantle? Well, its Starbright. Heavy lies the crown and Starbright is more than happy and equipped to wear it. The past week had been a whirlwind of media attention, interviews, movie deals, and even his new album came out. After all, what more was expected for the guy who took down Sea Serpent and Seraph? It was only natural.




But he wasn't alone in the take down of Seraph. Nor was he alone in being a celebrity hero. The Bullet was an emerging personality in the public eye and Starbright was more than happy to give him his time in the sun. It was about time some real heroes were the face of HERO, not those Wings posers. Speaking of the Bullet he had yet to go on his big talk show interview on Castleburg Today. It was best to call up and make sure he was ready.

"Bullet, how are you doing? Look remember you got that Castleburg Today interview coming up today. This will be the first time people get to hear from the man himself, no pressure. Anyway I got some clothes for you to wear, just to help establish your image some more." The clothes set out were, in fact, scarily similar to Starbright's. But just within that call, Starbright remembered the way he was brought up, having no control over any decisions made. He decided against doing that to Chad. "Uh, scratch that actually, you can buy your own clothes. I'm sending you over some money for them. 5 grand should be enough right? Nah we will make it 10 grand to be safe. Anyway, yeah, knock yourself out. All I want to see when I look at you on that show is something that screams 'THIS IS THE BULLET'. I think you best know what that looks like. Oh and no Gucci stuff, thats all bargain bin trash anyway. Again no pressure, just a few million watching."

Mentions: @Duoya




The Bullet wasn't the only figure gaining a following though. Much to Starbright's dismay Patty was gaining a following. A group of his own fans really related to the sob story he guess. Either way he saw that it could be good for her, maybe with a following she would learn to be more likable. Although, his public persona would tell a different story.

"So, Starbright. I have been meaning to ask. You were one of the first to come out in support of your fellow hero Patricia Donnelly. Could you tell us about that?" The interviewer asked this question and Starbright was happy to answer having prepped it in advance. "I wouldn't just say she is a fellow hero, she is also a good friend. Just like I wish I was with all my fans, you know? The first thing I did when it was all over was make sure that she was alright." Starbright had a great talent to shamelessly lie on television. "But you know things have all being going back to stuff as normal. You know it honestly feels like nothing happened at all. I'm already back to giving her singing lessons."

"Singing lessons? Tell us about that." "Well I don't think she would want me to say. But I aim to please the people. One day, she came to me and said 'Starbright, I really want to be a singer like you. But I just don't think I can'. You know, I said 'nonsense Patty you can do anything you put your mind to. Even this. I'll give you a few lessons and we will bring that star out.' The improvements were night and day. I even plan on having her in my next album. I know, I know, its a bit early to be planning that sort of thing, but I hope it goes through. But yeah, to all my fans, please don't bring the lessons thing too much up to her. She can get a bit embarrassed."

Sure Starbright could justify that to Patty by saying he was strengthening her every-girl image. But frankly, he was on some petty shit there.

Mentions: @canaryrose




Starbright stood before what remained of Club 27 from behind a police line. The last relic of what remained of the Wings of Law. He remembered the first time he saw this place, he was jealous. They handled their merchandising so much better than him back then. But its not like you can keep up an operation like that from a cell. What criminal behavior was hidden behind the walls of this place under the cover of the stardom and glamour? It was a bad reflection into what he could be.

But who cared about all that? All that mattered now is how long it was going to take the police to finish up the investigation. Cause you better bet Starbright bought this place. He is going to demolish the entire thing and then build up his own club in the same spot as a big middle finger to Wings. What would he call it? Club Bright... Ok, the name may need some work but the point is, it is happening.

Hidden 1 yr ago Post by canaryrose
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canaryrose

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@Hitman and @canaryrose




August 18th, 2033
Bratchford College
5:30 PM


"Wow, look at that building! Now that’s something you don’t see every day."

Grace and Patricia were currently standing in the middle of Bratchford College in Kingsdale, a fairly small liberal arts college in the upper-class district. Grace had insisted that Patricia begin to seriously think about higher education now that she was entering her senior year, and had recently presented her with a massive itinerary of local college tours full of schools that Patricia could realistically get into. Grace insisted that Patricia not abandon her education, lest she end up like Jamie, and that being an employee of HERO meant that her chances of acceptance would be much higher, and tuition costs would be partially covered by the organization. Grace had pretty much strong-armed Patricia into going on the tours, but Grace promised that she would treat Patti to a nice dinner at a fancy steakhouse, all on her, and that she would go to the gym with her.

Grace was wearing a red-and-black Bratchford College sweatshirt that was a couple sizes too big on her and jean shorts. Her hair was freshly-dyed and braided, tied into two buns atop her head. She was holding a glossy Bratchford pamphlet and, as she was following the tour, made sure to constantly lob factoids about the college at Patricia. "That building is called Baker Hall. Constructed in 1898, originally as a church, but it was later purchased by the college for use for the department of history,” Grace explained as she followed the tour through the college campus. "You know, this school is a sister college of Kingsdale College. Definitely has a level of prestige there. It was founded in 1879 in response to Kingsdale College’s refusal to admit women. It’s still an all-girls school, though I’m sure you already know that..." Grace whisper-said to Patti, looking at the back of the pamphlet. "Your SAT scores are a bit lower than the average SATs here, so maybe you could retake it, but I’m sure being in HERO will be a massive boost to your resume. Plus, the financial aid packages here are very generous...combined with HERO scholarship money, you’re going to have extremely limited out-of-pocket costs. Isn’t that neat?"

Before Grace could hear a response, though, the woman leading the tour, a sweet-looking middle-aged blonde lady named Susan, stopped the group in the middle of a large plaza with a patina statue of a woman. ”I’m going to stop you guys here at Bratchford Plaza. Here’s our founder, Mary Anne Bratchford, a real fighter for women’s rights and equality. Here at Bratchford, we make sure that every young lady that attends our school will feel safe, comfortable, and obtain the best possible educational experience.” Susan smiled brightly. ”Anyway, I need to take a quick call, and we’ll resume the tour momentarily.” With that, she held her phone up to her ear and began whispering angrily at it as the tour group splintered apart into their own separate conversations.

Grace turned back to Patti with an equally bright Susan smile. "Sooo...what do you think? You like it? Don’t like it? You seem like you could be Bratchford Bear material.”

Patricia shrugged, not looking up from her phone. She had been too busy talking to Eliza to pay attention to most of the tour, so had pretty much missed everything except “women’s college”. Which sounded interesting enough, but this was not where she wanted to be today. “It’s alright. Their music program any good?” she asked, but more muttered, still tapping away on her phone.

It had not been Patricia’s choice to attend this college tour marathon with Grace, but unfortunately, overbearing mothers don’t give their daughters much of a choice. When Grace had sat down with Patricia and her mother to “talk” (immediate red flags, Patti had thought, and she had been right), her mom had jumped at the chance to get someone knowledgeable and intelligent and responsible to go on college tours with her. Which had got Patti stuck on this thing. It wasn’t so bad- she had planned to start doing tours sooner or later anyways, and she was becoming a senior. She had just been so busy for so long that she hadn’t thought about it, and was now being dragged through a women’s college by her coworker. Unlike Grace, Patricia had not really dressed for the occasion. In defiance, she had worn her deepest purple lipstick and applied her best smokey eye. But much to Patricia’s chagrin, her style seemed to fit in at Bratchford. Her black corduroy skirt, long-sleeved black and white crop top, and black high top boots made her seem like the perfect perspective student. Damn Eliza for suggesting she go goth today! She had also worn sunglasses, but, well… that was more for not being recognized anyways. Even though that hadn’t worked. Already, a couple people had pointed at them and gasped, either scared or gleeful to see a celebrity.

Being famous was the worst.

Grace folded her arms as Patricia spoke. "You are not paying attention at all, Patti,” Grace said condescendingly. She uncrossed one arm, raising it, and with a quick slashing motion, she opened a small portal right in front of Patti’s hands. The portal sucked the phone right out of the girl’s mitts, like a vacuum cleaner picking up dust, and a second mini-portal deposited the phone into Grace’s hands. Grace put the phone into her pocket. "You have to pay attention! This is your future. What if something were to happen to you, or your voice, and you get taken off of HERO’s roster? You need a degree. And plus, it’s important that you expand your educational experience and find a good college for you.” Grace tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "And before you ask, music does not count. Pick something better. Don’t you like history? Or political science? Or maybe even acoustics? That might help with your singing powers.”

“HEY!” Patti screeched, and grabbed for her phone right before Grace put it into her pocket unsuccessfully. She stomped her foot. A few eyes turned their way, curious about the portal and her screeching, and Patricia blushed bright red. Maybe she shouldn’t have shouted that. “That’s my phone, Grace!” she hissed, and grabbed for it again. “Give it back! I was texting Eliza…”

Knowing Grace, Patricia wasn’t about to get that phone back. She sighed heavy, rolled her eyes, and crossed her arms. Who did Grace think she was? Her mom? “You are the worst. I get the value of a college degree and everything, but if my voice gives out, I’m sure H.E.R.O will give me a job as a secretary or something. Or, my pretty impressive resume could get me a good job anywhere else. Patricia examined her nails, which she had painted a nice pink last night. “No, no, and… is that guitar? Acoustics sounds sort of cool.” Patricia took out the brochure out of her pocket (it had been folded very small), and browsed through it, frowning. “How about Women’s Studies? Or Superpower Studies? I’m a woman, and I have superpowers,” she commented, only half-joking. A couple majors on there sounded alright, but she wasn’t about to tell Grace that.

The older girl pursed her lips at Patti’s outburst. ”Do you want to be a secretary? Or do you want to do something you have passion for? Because college affords you a chance to do that.” She rolled her eyes at Patti’s jesting. ”Acoustics is a branch of physics that deals with the properties of mechanical waves, particularly sound...so yes, guitars, sort of. And if you’re really passionate about gender studies, then knock yourself out. Just...take this seriously, OK?”

“Oh. Ew.” Patricia wrinkled her nose at the mention of physics. Eugh.

Grace played with the same loose strand of purple hair, knotting it around her finger and then letting it unwind. ”I...I just wanted to do something good for you, OK? Be a good friend, help you with something that I’m good at. In case...in case I’m not in Castleburg for much longer,” she said finally, choking out the last phrase with a pained expression on her face.

Patricia’s eyes flicked to Grace, annoyance melting off her face in favor of concern. “What does tha-”

Before Patti could respond, though, Susan got off her phone and gave a bright, forced smile. ”Sorry for the delay, folks!” she chirped. ”We’ll get right back to the tour. We’re going to head to the President’s Hall now near the center of campus,” she explained, and the tour group began to move again. Grace didn’t speak, her eyes dimly turning to face the guide and walking, her hands shoved into her pockets as a large bubble of gum expanded from her lips.

Patricia followed the tour group, brochure forgotten in her hands. Grace wasn’t leaving... was she? Her chest tightened. As much as she would never admit it in a million years, in the past months Grace had become a friend. A good friend. A little more than that, even, with all the shit they had gone through together. It had occurred to Patti before that Grace might one day go back to Korea, but she had sort of though Grace would want to stay in Castleburg forever. She walked along, staring anxiously and only half-listening, before saying, “What does that mean? Grace, you aren’t… are you going back? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Grace popped the obnoxiously large bubble that was forming at her lips, spitting the wad into a nearby trashcan. ”You know that whole EAGLES thing...it didn’t exactly improve HERO’s reputation. The opposite, more like,” Grace explained softly as they walked through the campus. ”There’s been a surge of younger heroes, though, and so...how do I put this...ICOSA wants to trim the fat, so to speak. Ship out some of the older heroes so they can help mold the new ones into something that they want.” She spoke with a tone of intense disapproval in her voice. ”Brie going to LA wasn’t just some coincidence. I know it isn’t. ICOSA is just trying to prune us. Split us up. I’m expecting an official letter sometime today...” Grace looked down guiltily, trailing off, staring down at her sneakers as she walked.
Patricia’s heart stopped. Then started. Then stopped again. No. She stared off into the distance, still walking along, and clenched her fists. Why would they do that? They couldn’t just… take everybody away! Brie leaving had been enough of a blow- she had really been one of Patti’s best friends- but she hadn’t thought it was ICOSA’s fault. Was Grace leaving, too? Her stomach dropped at the thought. “N-no you’re not!” she exclaimed, loud. “They can’t just do that! Tell them you wanna stay. Because… because of that new C.R.E.W thing. They’ll get it. They have to.” Patricia turned her gaze to Grace again, and moved closer to her. She’d mind control ICOSA into letting her stay if she had to! “You can’t leave. If they’re “trimming the fat”, then… what about the rest of us?” She said “us”, but it was clear in that moment that Patricia really meant “me”. She said all this with near desperation in her voice, quiet but worried. Was that what Grace had meant earlier, that she might not have H.E.R.O. to rely on forever?

”Shush, shush, we’re in public, quiet down,” Grace whispered annoyedly at Patricia. ”I’ve already told them that I don’t want to go. I’m just going to have to wait and see...believe me, Patti, I don’t want to leave. I have…friends here.” By “friends,” of course, Grace meant the type of friends that hug and kiss, though she didn’t say that part aloud. ”You’ll probably be fine, at least for now. You still live with your mom, after all,” Grace said soothingly, putting a hand on Patti’s shoulder. ”They can’t just make a minor pack up and move to a foreign country. But if you were born and raised in that country, and worked there for most of our life...different story,” Grace explained bitterly, for once not paying close attention to the tour.

”Nothing is decided yet, but...just in case. I wanted to spend some time with you.” Grace smiled weakly. ”I’m surprised you didn’t sniff out my ruse already. You should know I would never, ever go to the gym unless something like this was happening,” she said lightly.

“I just thought you finally recognized the importance of being able to break someone’s nose or run for 10 minutes straight…” Patti muttered, half to the side. It was relieving that they couldn’t make her leave, but still. She was only a while away from 18. And she didn’t want Grace to leave, either. “Do you maybe have the addresses of these ICOSA guys? And do they maybe… live in Castleburg?” she asked, only half-jokingly, and glanced at Grace again.
”There’s nothing important about lifting a heavy metal bar over and over again,” Grace retorted. She frowned at Patricia’s next statement. ”If you do what I know you’re thinking of, you will be forced to move. Into a jail cell. For a long time,” Grace said plainly. ”Don’t worry too much about me. Even if I do get transferred...I’ll still be alright. PHANTOM was fun,” Grace said optimistically. ”You forget that I am Korean, anyway, and that I used to work there. I’m sure everything will turn out just fine. Now, why don’t you focus on the tour, and then we’ll grab a bite to eat afterwards. Do you like sushi? Of course you do, everybody likes sushi...”

“Hmph.” Patricia crossed her arms, again, scrunching up her face. She knew Grace would be fine, it was more the idea of her leaving that scared her. And plus, she totally wouldn’t get caught if she mind controlled some ICOSA councilmen. “Sushi sounds nice,” she said, and cracked a smile. She was still worried, but even if Grace was leaving, it would be nice. Then it would be even nicer to break her the following day in the gym. Then she raised up her hands, and chuckled. “Fine. I’ll focus on the tour if it makes you happy, jeez…”

Grace smiled back warmly. ”That’s the spirit! Well, actually, that’s not quite the spirit, but we’re getting there.” Grace smiled. ”Tour’s almost over, anyway. We just have to get to the science labs and that’s pretty much it. Then it’s off to a nice dinner. Here...” Grace fished into her pocket, giving Pati back her phone. ”But if I see you texting again, I will not hesitate to drop it directly into the harbor.,”

Though her words were harsh, Grace had on a gentle smile that made it clear she was joking. Well, half-joking.

“Oh thank God,” Patricia muttered. There was only so much yammering a girl could take, and after their fifth tour, Patti was at her limit. Plus, sushi did sound nice. Walking made her hungry. Seeing her phone, though, made her even happier. She snatched it out of Grace’s hands greedily, ready to text Eliza again, before Grace made her warning. “Fine, fine. You better get me the most expensive sushi roll they have.” So she tucked her phone into the tiny pocket of her skirt and followed the tour.




One very adult dinner later…

Grace was drunk.

She wasn’t totally and utterly wasted, her tolerance for alcohol having improved from inhumanly low alcohol tolerance to extremely lightweight, but she was still very clearly tipsy from having almost six shots of sake in her system. Her plate emptied, Grace was finishing off her last drink of sake, before putting the porcelain cup back down on the table. She gave a dopey smile. ”Well, I’ll drive you home,” she said, her words a bit jumbled as she stood from her seat, stumbling somewhat, the eyes of nearly every patron in the high-end sushi restaurant shooting towards her. ”Leeet’s go.”

True to Patricia’s word, she had made Grace buy her the most expensive rolls on the menu. Along with a California roll, of course. It was the best kind! But she munched on her rolls happily, with… one caveat. She watched Grace down 6 shots of sake with growing concern. Oh. This is going to be bad, she thought after the third. Grace had never handled alcohol well. She didn’t try to stop her, though. This would be hilarious. Patricia could barely hold back laughs now, watching her stagger up from her seat.

“No way are you driving,” Patricia said, and grabbed onto Grace’s arm. She was trying desperately to hold back her laughter, but a few giggles escaped anyways. “Give me your keys. Now. Come on.” She held out her hand for Grace’s car keys, motioning.

”Fine. You can drive. Not because I’m drunk or anything, but because...you should practice,” Grace mumbled as she removed her keys from her pocket, putting them in Patricia’s palm, before staggering for the door. She walked out, nearly tripping over herself as she made her way to her car. It was Grace’s favorite car, her Jaguar D-Type, a classic matte black 1950s racing vehicle that Grace had purchased at auction and refurbished. The vehicle could easily have been worth 7 digits (though Grace had shrewdly obtained it for less), but somehow seemed almost normal in the fancy sushi restaurant parking lot. Grace drunkenly attempted to slide over the hood of the car, failing and nearly falling off the vehicle, before sitting down in the passenger seat.

As Grace struggled to put her seatbelt into the socket, she spoke with a silly grin. ”Patti Patti Patti, you know what we should do?” she said, the excitement in her tone contrasted by the slow and jumbling, drunken manner she spoke with. ”We should do what you thought about before. We should go to that ICOSA guy’s house and mess him up. Do your singing thing, you know.” Grace giggled. ”I’ve been to his apartment before, so I know where he lives! Here...” Grace tapped on the (custom-created) screen on the head unit of the car, opening Google Maps. ”127 Terrace Avenue. It’s in Kingsdale, too! We just barge in, hypnotize him, and then get it. Easy-peasy. Woo! Grace and Patti adventure!”

“Oh yeah, totally, that’s the reason,” taunted Patti as they left the sushi restaurant. She held the keys tight, watching Grace. As they walked to the car. “C’mon, Grace. Door’s right there.”

Once Grace managed her way into the passenger seat, Patricia buckled her seatbelt in, too, getting settled in the driver’s seat with caution. She didn’t think she had ever driven such a fancy car before, and she wouldn’t want to mess it up. What was this… a Leopard? Some sort of cat. Nice car… she ran her hands over the steering wheels. This whole situation was funny, really. Getting Grace drunk, although disastrous, was fun. Except when she tried to hit on her. That was just weird.

When Grace suggested they go over to an ICOSA agent’s house, though, Patricia just cackled. Drunks came up with the craziest plans. “No way. That was just a joke, remember? We could go to jail? I’m taking you home, not to some dude’s house to fuck him up.” She turned the keys in the car, and pulled out of the parking lot and started to go in the direction of where she thought Grace’s house was.

”Wrong direction, Patti!” Grace called out. ”You’re being silly. Car, navigate to 127 Terrace Avenue, Kingsdale, Castleburg,” Grace commanded, and at once the car began to operate on its own, pulling a tight U-turn and speeding well above the limit down the highway in the opposite direction.

“Wait- nO!” Patricia screeched, suddenly panicking as the car wrenched itself from her control and started to speed onto the highway. This was not happening. They could not be going to that guy’s place- they’d get arrested, or worse, and Patricia had had so many unpleasant experiences with authorities lately that put the fear of God in her. “GRACE MOK! Nononono- car, go home! Home!” She banged on the display. “Grace, if we don’t get pulled over for speeding first, we’ll go to Coldwater, we can’t.” She tried desperately to control the car, pulling the steering wheel with all her might.
”Nope, not happening” Grace responded with a wide, very intoxicated smile. ”Come on, Patti, it’ll be fun! And easy! And we won’t get caught. We’re us!” The car narrowly avoided collision as it zoomed down the highway, well over 100 miles per hour at this point. ”I thought you wanted me to stay! This is the easiest way to do that!”

Patricia still tried to tug the steering wheel to the side, squeezing it. She also stepped on the brakes as hard as possible. “At least slow the car down, Jesus! We’ll hit someone,” she cried, seeing people swerving out of the way of their car. “Grace, you’re drunk, you’re not thinking straight, and we literally just got out of 50 first degree murder charges two weeks ago! This is a bad idea. I want you to stay, but you can also just like… ask them not to transfer you.” She let go of the wheel and took her by the shoulders and shook her, hard. “Stop! Being! Drunk!”

”I’M NOT DRUNK!” Grace shouted back with equal volume as the car took a narrow dive towards the right, barely making it onto the exit ramp without slamming into the guardrails. ”This is so much easier than asking. Plus, this way, they’re guaranteed to listen!” Grace said, sticking her tongue out as the vehicle finally began to slow down in front of a nice brick apartment building. Compared to the glamor of Kingside, it wasn’t anything particularly awesome, but it was still a nice, rustic building that Grace had spontaneously planned to break into.

Grace stepped out of the vehicle, somewhat winded from the high-speed car ride. ”Come on, Paaaatiii. It’ll be quick and easy. And then I get to stay!” Regular Grace would have thought of a plan of action first (in reality, Regular Grace would not have been in this situation in the first place), but Drunk Grace did not have any semblance of Regular Grace’s rationality. She instead lifted her hand and fired a disc-shaped, violet projectile at the oaken lobby doors, which promptly splintered cleanly in the center, leaving a smoldering hole in its wake.

”Right through here,” Grace said, stepping into the lobby of the apartment building as the night guard looked up from his magazine in total confusion.

“Intruders!”

Patti did not, in fact, calm down. “JESUS CHRIST!” Grace threw a portal frisbee at the door, making a splitting sound. Shit. She didn’t want to do this, but it looked like Grace was leaving her no choice- she had already committed a crime. The most Patricia could do was make sure they didn’t actually go to Coldwater. So Patricia got out of the car and dashed into the lobby after Grace, intent on making sure she didn’t do anything else. But the night guard was in there, and he was yelling and reaching for his phone…

“Laaaa-AAAAAA!~” Patricia opened her mouth and sang, much to the night guard’s complete confusion. “Don’t call anyone and don’t move,” she ordered, and he put down the phone and froze. Good. She stalked forward, and grasped his chin in her hand. “Listen to me. You will forget all of this, everything that happened tonight, you understand? None of this ever happened. You’ll forget us. And, once you wake up, you’ll wipe tonight’s tapes because they’re clearly faked. Nod if you understand.” He nodded, fearfully. “Good. Now go to sleep.”

The poor night guard closed his eyes and sank back into his chair, falling into a deep sleep. Then, Patricia turned to face Grace. “You are not going up there!” she cried, in a stark contrast from her prior tone. She grabbed Grace’s arm, stern. “Stop being a fucking idiot. I’m taking you home before you do anything dumb. Come on. Let’s go, now.”

Grace nearly fell over when Patti pulled on her arm, her lack of balance very clearly apparent as she staggered for the front door. She seemed to have sobered up a bit, though, as she followed after Patricia, making her way over to the car and flopping into the seat after fumbling to open the door. She smiled with a look in her eyes that only a drunk person having succesfully accomplished something stupid would have. ”Guess what I managed to portal out of his office?” she said, holding up a manila file that had appeared in her hands, as if by magic. ”Transfer forms! I almost destroyed his desk in the process, but I got them!” She giggled. ”I’ll fill these out later...mission accomplished, though! Thank you so much, Patato.” She smiled. ”We’ve now successfully violated ICOSA Article 3, Title Fourteen of the official ICOSA handbook. It was soooo easy, too! Loser didn’t even have any security systems. What type of stupid-ass ICOSA agent doesn’t even have-”

At that moment, the sounds of sirens erupted through the building as the ICOSA representative’s security systems went off. The sounds of sirens began to grow louder as Grace blinked. ”Oh fuck. Drive!”

Patricia gasped at the sounds of the sirens. Oh, this was bad. Grace had stolen paperwork, just paperwork, and the police were definitely coming now. This was just the thing she needed, to be hunted by police for a second time this month. But it was okay. They definitely wouldn’t put them in real prison now, right? “Fuck!” she exclaimed, and turned the keys in the ignition. Then, she stepped on the brakes, and the expensive car zoomed forward and out of the parking lot. They were going fast, but Patti slowed down as they reached the traffic lanes, not wanting to make a scene. She could hear the police sirens, but maybe they wouldn’t know it was their car?

“Fuck, Grace, just like- put that in your empty space or your closet or something! It’s incriminating information, you dumbass! God, I’m never letting you drink alcohol again.”

”Alright, alright, put it in an empty space or my closet or something… ” Grace repeated, clutching the files to her chest. ”Got it! You can handle the cops, right? Of course you can, you’re Patti...alright, don’t dent the car!” And with those parting words, Grace opened a portal under her seat and dropped through, leaving Patti alone in the vehicle.

“Wait, what?” And just like that, Grace disappeared into a portal. Did Grace just… abandon her? Patti’s mouth dropped open for a second, flabbergasted, before she screamed in rage and dug out her phone. Grace was so dead. She got to Grace’s contact, the phone dialing, but not before...

Police sirens blared as they pulled up to the vehicle (which was so expensive, it was easily distinguishable from the others). Several cop cars pulled up next to Grace’s car, demanding that the driver pull over immediately.

Patti panicked, dropping the phone. Her driver’s lessons had taught her to pull over when the police asked, but nearly everything in her body screamed at her to drive away. She tried to find an opening in traffic, eyes flitting about wildly with her hands still on the driver’s wheel. But there was none, and about three cop cars were surrounding her. So Patti obeyed her driver’s lessons and pulled over to the side and rolled down her windows. This would’ve been so much easier to explain if Grace had been here, but now… she gulped. This wasn’t even her car. And everybody knew her face now!

Oh, God, she was so grounded. Patti’s hands tensed on the wheel, and she tried very hard not to hit something.
A flashlight ran over the outside of the car as a police officer walked up to the vehicle. She leaned down in front of the driver side window and removed her glasses, revealing the bruised face of Castleburg Police Department Officer Sarah Burke.

“Well, look what we got here,” the police officer said with a scarily vengeful grin. “You know, that stunt you pulled at the club got my salary slashed in half…” she muttered wistfully, before looking back at Patricia with a devilish grin. “I’m going to need to have you step out of the vehicle, ma’am. And no funny business.”

Shit. This was the worst cop possible to get caught by. Patti smiled nervously, starting to sweat. Her hands grew slippery on the wheel. She briefly considered using her power, but decided that would be a distinctly terrible idea. “L-listen, ma’am,” she started, unbuckling her seatbelt, “nothing about that encounter was personal. You know, I’m sorry. I didn’t really want to hypnotize anyone, especially a cop, of which I have the utmost respect for, but it was necessary. You know, I was innocent, and no one got hurt, so it worked out in the end, didn’t it? I’m sorry that your salary was slashed and everything, I really am, but can’t we just let bygones be bygones? You’d be doing me a big favor.” Patti was taking a page out of Starbright’s book, trying to charm the fuck out of this woman. She smiled, wide and slightly disconcerting, and unlocked the door just for prosperity. “Please?”

Officer Burke rolled her eyes. “Alright, I won’t make your life as miserable as possible, fine. But I’m still taking you in for trespassing and larceny,” she said, opening the door and grabbing Patti by the elbow, hauling her casually out of the vehicle (as it so happened, Officer Burke was quite strong). She pinned Patti’s hands behind her back and slapped a pair of sleek, silver-and-blue isocuffs on her wrists. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in court, et cetera, et cetera. Now, in the cop car, princess.” Officer Burke swung open the back door of her cruiser. “And if you try anything, particularly, anything musical, I will forget our bygones-be-bygones thing and smash your forehead directly into the side of the car.”

“W-wait, I didn’t steal anything, that wasn’t me!” Patti yelped as the officer cuffed her. As always, she felt a sinking, nauseous feeling in her stomach as the isolene cut off her superpower. “Hey! It wasn’t me, you can’t take me to jail!” Patricia didn’t step into the car, standing there, looking stubborn. She was so going to kill Grace when she saw her.

“Well, you’re the only one in the damn car, so unless the culprit mysterious teleported away, you were definitely responsible,” Officer Burke said sarcastically, grabbing Patti by the hair. “Now, since your legs are obviously failing you, I’ll give you a hand.” With those words, she roughly shoved Patti into the back of the cruiser and slammed the door shut. “Hope you enjoy sleeping behind bars!”





The next morning, the summer sun was shining brightly through the small, rectangular, cell window of Patti’s cell at the East Flank 48th Precinct holding cell. The cell was comfortably spacious and the inevitable ending location of the crew’s many misadventures. It even had a gumball machine.

At 7:00 AM sharp, the sounds of heavy footsteps filled the corridor as the tall, imposing figure of Director Hugo Powers entered the corridor. He walked up to the souped-up, rich-person cell that Patricia had been given, rapping his knuckles against one of the steel bars. Inexplicably, this simple action produced a lot of noise, comparable to the sound of a gong, as Powers peered into the cell. ”Good morning, Aria. I’m going to ask that you wake up now.”

Patricia… hadn’t really gone to sleep. Filled with anxiety at the thought of getting in trouble for something she definitely hadn’t done, she had stayed up for most of the night, worrying. She really hated being in jail, and felt tense for most of the night. But eventually she had dozed off on the bed in a weird half-sitting position. She had gotten about two hours of sleep. But at 7:00 AM sharp, she jolted awake from her sleep to the sound of Powers’s voice. Oh no. But at least it wasn’t her mom. She stared into his eyes, anxiety ramping up.

“G-good morning, sir!” Patti sat up ramrod straight and tried to hide terror. “I promise, this is not what it looks like. You see, Grace got drunk, and, well… it’s all her fault! Please don’t call my mom,” she begged, staying seated and as far away from the door as she could get.

The director looked at the girl, his arms behind his back, his gaze as stoic as ever. ”I know,” he said, reaching forward and opening the cell door. ”Bypass informed me of the whole situation this morning. You’re off the hook,” he said. ”You’re all clear to go now. You might want to check on Grace, though. Being fired can be a rough experience.”

"F-fired?" Although her relief was palpable after finding out she wasn't in trouble, that word in particular made her wince for her friend. Even though it had been her that had gone Patti into trouble, she still didn't want Grace to be in that much trouble. She stood up, and walked out of the door. "Sir, you can't fire Grace over this. I mean, yeah, she was being dumb… but Blake and Brie and Jamie used to he dumb together all the time and you never fired them. And-and you know she can't control herself when she's inebriated. She just wanted to… to stay here. That's why. So while I would love my vengeance… she deserves her job. I think."

If Powers was feeling any sort of emotion, he certainly didn’t show it, instead looking at Patti with a blank, collected expression. ”Out of my hands. ICOSA takes these matters very seriously. I’m forced to have her suspended from the organization until they do a whole formal investigation. Then they do some sort of tribunal, which will determine her future here,” Powers said. ”In any case, my hands are tied here. I’m sure if you talk to her, she’ll feel much better..” Powers pulled out a set of car keys from his pocket. ”Here’s your...well, Grace’s car keys. It’s a nice ride, enjoy the time you get to drive it while you can.” With that piece of advice, Powers walked out of the corridor, his heavy footsteps echoing through the area as he left.

Patricia grasped the keys in her hands and frowned. She watched Powers leave. That was… disappointing. She was a bit too tired to be mad about it, and she knew that Grace definitely had done something wrong, but still. Grace didn’t deserve to be fired! Maybe a pay cut, yeah, but…

It was out of her hands, though, unless she really wanted to come back to the precinct later that day. The only thing she could really do was try and be a good friend. Even if Grace had just gotten her arrested. So Patti left the precinct and went to go find the car. It wasn’t difficult to find- apparently someone had recovered it from when she had been pulled over. She unlocked the car door and sat in the driver’s seat.

“Car, direction to McDonald’s closest to Grace’s- I mean, my house?”





About 30 minutes later (it was that time of morning when everybody was going to work and Castleburg traffic was miserable), there was a ding as Grace’s doorbell rang. For good measure, Patti banged her fist on the door, too. Poor girl was probably passed out right now. “GRACE! Open up!” she yelled. She had gotten a Big Breakfast with Hotcakes for Grace, and an Egg McMuffin for herself, along with two frappes. “Come on, I’ve got food!”

”Coming! ” came the surprisingly chipper response, and a few moments later, Grace opened the door. She was unexpectedly in a rather good moment, though she did look somewhat hungover and disorderly. Her hair was tousled and fell in a knotted mess down her back, and she was wearing one of Tom’s t-shirts. For somebody that had just been suspended from their job without pay, though, she seemed astonishingly cheerful. ”Patti! Oh, I’m soooo sorry...” Grace said, wrapping her arms around the younger girl. ”I didn’t mean to ditch you, I hope you’re OK...come in! I took a few Aspirins, so I’m feeling better, I could use breakfast,” Grace said with a warm smile, opening the door for Patti.

Patricia nodded, stepped in, and raised a brow. “You look… chipper,” she commented. She put the platters of food and the drinks down on the nearest table, along with Grace’s stuff that she had left in her car. “You know, for a woman who’s about to go on trial and probably be revoked of her Hero Exemplar status and possibly fired from the organization she works for. I’m okay. Are you sure you’re okay?” Patti started to take the food out of the bags, laying it on the table.

”For the most part. Still feel bad about leaving you in jail...” Grace shrugged. ”Everything worked out, mostly according to plan. Ooh, are those hotcakes? I mean, I’m not really big on fast food, but those look good...”

“Oh, get over yourself and eat it. You’re lucky I even came to talk to you. You’re still on thin ice. And what do you mean everything went to plan? You wanted to be fired?” Patricia sat down and opened her own sandwich, sinking her teeth into it.

”You are adorable when you’re mad. And yeah, pretty much. You see, turns out that ICOSA can’t transfer you when you’re suspended. So, my plan was pretty much to get suspended. It’ll buy me some time to fix the actual transfer. I also messed with the apartment’s security footage and conveniently cropped out the footage that involved us. Luckily, the guy that you mesmerized is as dumb as a bag of rocks, so he’s not going to be blabbing any time soon. So, pretty much, they’re going to drop everything and bring me to trial, and then promptly look like a bunch of buffoons due to a lack of evidence.” Grace nibbled on a piece of McDonalds pancakes. ”No wonder all these ICOSA people keep getting dropped by Caustic. They haven’t even figured out how to encrypt files. I mean, honestly...it’s kind of sad. Only catch was dragging you into the whole mess...I really am sorry about that. You know I would never do that...I was just...well, you know.” Grace shrugged and took another bite of her food. ”And on the plus side, I get a week off of work, which is nice.”

Grace smirked at Patti. ”Let this be a lesson to you that even when I’m wasted, I’m still smarter than you.” The purple-haired girl gently jabbed Patricia with her plastic fork. ”Kidding.”

Well, now Patti felt like an idiot. “Oh,” she said, and frowned. She tapped her fingernails on the table. “I’m still mad at you, by the way. Why didn’t you tell me?!” Patti took a big sip of her mocha frappe.

”I was drunk! I’m sorry...I would’ve told you. I just...you know, I’m terrible once I start drinking. I just thought I would take a couple sips to take my mind off things and get a little less tense, and then...it went out of control.” Grace sighed, shaking her head. ”I really do owe you one, Patti. Big-time. Anything you need me to do.”

Meanwhile, Chell had entered the room and was currently aggressively licking Patti’s leg. Grace cracked a smile. ”Awww, she likes you! Chellie likes everybody, though, don’t you girlie? Aren’t you the bestest dog in the world?”

“Oh! Hi, Chell!” Patricia patted the dog on the head, cooing to her. “Please stop… licking me.” She giggled, ticklish, and gently pushed the dog’s head away from her leg. Then, she gave her a belly rub. All dogs liked belly rubs. Seeing Chell put a smile on her face. The dog had always been so adorable.

Patricia thought for a moment. So, Grace owed her, hm… good to know. She wouldn’t cash in on it just yet, though. She’d bide her time. Wait for the right moment to strike.

“You’re still going to the gym with me, right? You promised.” Patricia was reminding her of something she had promised yesterday, before the tours. She smirked and prepared to revel in Grace’s misery.

Grace made a sour face as she chewed a hotcake. ”I guess I did,” she said after a brief pause, as Chell snuggled up against her leg. ”Alright, alright...I will exercise with you in the gymnasium,” she said, an expression on her face that clearly showed that saying those words pained her. ”I guess I'll have to get changed…and showered…" she said, looking down at her messy appearance, before sighing. ”I'm still not sold on this whole exercise idea. You do realize I can just teleport people into the bay, right? I haven't figured out exactly what part of superpowers involves being able to lift a heavy metal bar or outrun a treadmill. Plus, I am perfectly in shape as is. You just want to torment me."

“Well, I exercise to increase my lung capacity, to run fast, and to break people’s jaws. You should exercise to not be a pathetic lump of usefulness when you lose your powers or can’t use them,” Patti commented, and sipped on her frappe with a certain look on her face. “If you’re in shape, drop and give me 30 push-ups.” She said this deadpan, and gestured to the floor.

Grace put on a stubborn face and set her drink down on the counter, before lowering herself to the floor. She got in position and sank into a pushup. ”One..." she wheezed as she lifted her body up and down. ”Two...thr-" Grace was halfway into her third push-up before collapsing on the expensive, fluffy carpet. ”Ow..." she grumbled. ”Fuck you! I'm still hungover!" Still lying on the floor, Grace lifted her hand from the ground and raised her middle finger at Patti.

Patti used both of her middle fingers to flip off Grace right back. “It’s definitely not just the hangover,” she commented, examining her nails. “You’re just weak. It’s okay. We can fix that. Not like I’m the fittest person either, if I’m being honest… but at least I’m better than you.” Patti offered a hand to Grace, who was still laying on the floor. “Come on. You can’t go to the HERO gym while you’re suspended, which is a shame, but there’s a Planet Fitness just around here. It’s a no judgement zone, you know.” Patricia giggled at that. “No one’s around to think you’re pathetic. Unlike at the HERO gym.”

”I may be weak, but at least I'm not technically Blake's sister," Grace fired back, taking Patti's hand and rising unsteadily to her feet. ”I said I would go already, jeez…" She dusted herself off. ”I'm going to take a long shower and get changed. And also mentally prepare myself for my impending demise. You should probably shower, too. You smell like prison. And mothballs. And...gumballs, for some reason. I think that's why Chell is licking your leg so much."

“Eliza and I are not marr- wait, hold up, how did you even know- what?!” Patricia looked incredulous for a moment, before dragging her hands down her face. “I may be… dating Eliza,” she admitted, “but I am NOT Blake’s sister! I don’t even know if Angie and his relationship will last.”

Patti rubbed her eyes and sniffed her armpit, and then made a face. “Eugh. I do. Do you have a second bathroom? You probably don’t, it’s Castleburg. If not, I’m going first.” She stood from the chair. “I’ll just wear your clothes.” She didn’t ask if that would be okay.

”First off, you should really come out soon. The two of you are not even remotely conspicuous," Grace said as she finished off her latte, portalling it into the trash. ”My sources tell me that you went to a musical and a concert, last week alone. Seriously.” Grace rolled her eyes. ”Second, you are most definitely Blake’s sister. You might as well dye your hair red at this point. And third, I am rich, Patti. Of course I have a second bathroom," Grace pointed across the fancy kitchen at a white door. ”Right in there. Unfortunately, the in-shower entertainment system doesn’t work on that one...I’ll have to take a look at it soon." Grace opened a portal on the countertop, reaching into it like it was a laundry basket. ”Here. Take one of Tom’s t-shirts," she said with a smirk, pulling a Die Hard t-shirt from the portal and chucking it at Patricia. ”It’s very soft material."

Patti stammered at the suggestion that Eliza and her weren’t good at hiding their relationship, but eventually hung her head in admission “Alright, alright, maybe we will soon…” she relented, and listened to the rest of Grace’s yammering. Her eyes went wide at the mention of “in-shower entertainment system”, and just the idea of having two bathrooms in a one-bedroom apartment. Patti definitely did not have two bathrooms, and she lived with her mom!

“Jesus, you’re rich…” she muttered, and caught the shirt in her hands. She squinted at it, and then rolled her eyes. “Fine. I guess your clothes are too small for me…” With that, Patricia yawned and went to go take a shower in Grace’s very fancy bathroom. Torturing Grace at the gym was going to be so fun.

After Patti went off to take a shower in Grace’s golden bathroom (much to Grace’s disappointment, it was not all real gold), Grace quickly portalled a Coke out of the fridge and swallowed another Aspirin, before making her way over towards the other bathroom of her penthouse. As she walked, she paused to look at a sleek glass etagere mounted on her wall, which had a number of framed photographs. Of her with her parents, her sister, her old friends at PHANTOM, and of course, the rest of the gang from HERO. She removed the photo from the shelf, looking at it warmly. ”I don’t know what I would do without you." she whispered to herself, clutching the frame to her chest, before putting it back and walking over to the bathroom.

She pet Chell as she opened the door to the bathroom. ”You better make up your mind on who you want to live with next, in case I don’t come back alive," she said, very seriously, to the dog, before closing the bathroom door.


Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Jumbus
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Jumbus My life be like oooooh-aaaah ooooh-aaaah

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A Letter from a 'Friend'




It had been a while since Doppio set foot in HERO. He quit pretty unceremoniously, in fact, it was barely a resignation at all. It wasn't an easy road afterward. With no income to speak of, there wasn't a chance he could get his family out of Brookside. But there are ways to make cash if you look hard enough. It wasn't hard to find the Proving Grounds, and from there he rose in the ranks of being a fighter. Quick and easy money. You get big enough and you get offered a position in the gang, Doppio accepted. It was more money coming in and from his estimates his family will be out of Brookside by the end of the month. A goal that had taken him years.

So he had joined the Brookside Bruisers. They were comparable to Wyatts gang, the new top dogs on the block. But Doppio came to the realization, that it would always exist. Some big Brookside group to push peoples faces in the mud. It was best that he just get on top of it, control it from the inside. If they were as ruthless as Wyatt's gang, he would be trying to destroy it from the inside. But they weren't like that, there was some strange sense of honor in the group. Maybe this was the best Brookside could get. Trying to take down the Bruisers would just mean someone meaner and more ruthless would take the mantle.

Anyway HERO tower, Doppio was glad to see that his clearance hadn't been removed with all the EAGLES chaos that directly followed his departure. With a mix of his clearance card and using his power to pass other barriers, he was able to get to Power's office and slip a letter under his door. Then Doppio left, he carried himself with a lot more confidence since he was last seen by HERO and made sure to salute the security cameras on his way out.






Mentions: Powers @Hitman
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Hitman
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Hitman Loosey Goosey

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= joined by =





August 12th, 12:52 PM
J & J Groceries
The East Flank, Castleburg

Blake was currently standing on a sidewalk in the East Flank, leaning back against a stop sign, looking down at his phone. He looked for all the world like some high-schooler enjoying the summer day. He was wearing a bright-colored Polamor Inc. t-shirt, cargo trousers, and a pair of Vans, and he had his skateboard tucked underneath his arm. He looked like he was about to hit the skate park, but in fact, he was not. Blake was currently working a very high-stakes job, taking down a very high-stakes member of the Brookside Bruisers.

He held his cell phone up to his ear. "Samantha, re-brief me on this ‘Wind thong’ guy again."

“Can do,” HERO’s AI responded. “The suspect is identified as Windsong. Real name Maxwell Matthews. No parents that we can identify in HERO’s database, so likely an orphan of some kind. Has a sister, Juliette, that is currently hospitalized after a debilitating accident. He’s been identified with several confirmed members of the Brookside Bruisers, a street gang that has been expanding in prevalence. Your objective is to take him in for questioning, but be careful. Suspect does have higher-tier aerokinetic powers that are dangerous.”

"Aerokawho?"

“Wind manipulation.”

"Oh, sick." Blake looked around. "So he’s supposed to be coming out of there, right?" Blake pointed towards a large supermarket.

“I’ve used my crime-mapping software to detect patterns in the suspect’s behavioral patterns. He seems to frequent this particular supermarket at this time of day, so it would be a reasonable estimation that he would be present inside. I’ll project an image of him onto your screen.”

Blake looked down at the picture, frowning. "He looks kind of like my age. I expected a bald guy, with like, a scar, and an eyepatch and stuff." He frowned as Samantha responded chipperly by saying, “The suspect is in fact your elder. He is precisely 442 days older than you.”
"How helpful, Samantha," Blake said sarcastically as he continued to eye the sliding door entrance of the supermarket. All he had to do was wait until the guy walked out, and then run at him, grab him, probably knock him out, and arrest him. Easy-peasy.

----

Sweet, got a two-for-one deal. Max thought idly, hauling his groceries out of the supermarket. The clerk even had the nerve to ask him to pay for 10 cents for a bag. Luckily, he had his reusable bags that paid its cost five times over.

Max had to get into the HERO somehow. Money was getting tight and he refused to use the little money his parents sent over. However it's been awkward what with the whole coup thing that he's recently learned happened. He spotted a redheaded teenager eyeing the doors as he left the store. The boy assumed he was waiting for his mother or some such and ignored him.

---
Blake looked up at the individual that had just walked out of the supermarket. A grin covered his face. "I see him now, I’ll move in to nab him," Blake said to his phone as he walked over. He ran a hair through his red locks (to make him look cooler, of course) as he walked towards the man. He then employed the classic Firebird catch-em-off-guard strategy. He pretended to look down at his phone as he walked, thus giving the appearance of him being distracted, and proceeded to walk towards Max. Once he got close, he then practically lunged into him, striking Max with his shoulder and intending to send him to the ground.

Max almost stumbled at getting shoulder-checked by the unknown teenager. What in the world was the kid made out of? Luckily his training and physicality helped him maintain his balance. ”Hey kiddo, look up when you’re walking with your phone.” Max warned as he straightened the groceries on his arms.

Blake blinked as the dude that he had bodied just kind of staggered backwards like it was nothing. What the hell was this guy made of? Blake put his phone in his pocket, dropping the skateboard to the ground. "Actually, I’m not just a kid." He narrowed his eyebrows. "Scratch that, I’m not a kid, period! I’m pretty much your age, and I’m with HERO, and you’re wanted for questioning, which means I have to take you in." Blake lifted his hand, the temperature of the area instantly rising a few degrees as a small scarlet ember appeared in his palm. The ember quickly expanded, forming a fully-fledged fireball the size of a small beach ball. "We can do this the easy way, which involves you giving up and just walking with me, or the hard way, which involves me smoking you in front of all these people. I’d like to point out that while the second option is much more fun for me, it probably isn’t for you. So, I would suggest Option Numero Uno."

Max whistled at the sight of fire being played with like a toy. He somewhat recognized Blake, as he was one of the major players in the coup. Still, HERO? He did intend to look for them soon but why was he wanted. It likely had to do with the whole Brookside situation. However, while he’s willing to clear things up, he couldn’t do it at this moment. He had to be present at his sister’s checkup, Juliette gets jittery and nervous when he isn’t there. ”Unfortunately,” The wind began picking up and soon, began whistling, ”I’ll have to take a rain check on your tempting offer.” The tumultuous wind wildly blew their clothes around as he tucked his groceries away safely in a corner.

”You know, nobody ever takes the ‘surrender quietly’ option," Blake lamented. ”Oh well, your loss-" His fireball nearly blew out, however, as the wind suddenly began to roar and pick up. Blake, of course, would not be disgraced like this. This guy could make a nice summer breeze, but Blake could make a wildfire. The heat intensified as Blake’s ball of fire burned with a brightening intensity, and two large wings made of flames spread from his back, shining brightly on the vicinity. Of course, Blake couldn’t actually fly with these wings. They were purely ornamental, but hopefully they would scare this “wind bong” guy off before they had to fight. As much as Blake enjoyed fighting, he had spent far too much time in the hospital this summer already, and didn’t want to blow the rest of it because of some stupid mistake during a stupid fight. It was a couple of weeks wasted after the whole coup thing went down, and a couple of weeks in early June had been blown after Blake was very badly maimed in his fight against the Razor-Claw, a villain that Blake had not taken remotely seriously, and paid the price for doing so. It turned out that Razor-Claw actually had, well, razor claws, and the razor claws in question were very, very sharp and very, very painful. Well, that wasn’t happening again, that was for sure.

”Oh, wow, nice gust. You might actually mess up my hair!" Blake taunted as he lifted his hand, the fireball moving in tandem and positioning itself over Blake’s shoulder. ”Last chance, Breeze Boy! Give up or get incinerated!"

Max took a guess that this was likely one of the stronger heroes. The intensity of his flames and the showy fire wings half-confirmed it. Though, being pragmatic, he didn’t know the purpose of the fire-wings. He glanced at his watch and he was almost late. ”I’m running out of time here, Mr. Spicy Fried Chicken.” He shot back with a slight grin, ”If you won’t start it, I will.”

As soon as he said that he raised up a single finger and sliced horizontally. A single, scythe-like strike formed from him and barrelled towards Blake’s legs. Max consciously toned down his power output- he didn’t want to really hurt the good guys, after all. Well, they’re probably the heroes considering what happened recently.

Blake was swept off his feet by the surprising attack of wind, which sent him careening to the ground. ”Ow..." Blake muttered as his wings and prepared fireball attacks fizzled away, but he was quickly back on his feet again, dusting off his now-ripped pants before lifting his palms and pointing them at Max. ”Alright, no more Mr. Nice Guy! You’re going down!" Blake fired back, before literally firing back, as he released two jets of fire from his palms, beams of swirling flames that hurtled directly towards Max.

Max’s eyes widened at how quickly Blake retaliated. While he had a good grasp of his powers he had pretty much no experience fighting other super-powered heroes, atleast those with different powers from him. He sidestepped as soon as he could but it singed his part of his hood and his shoulder. The flames started moving towards where he dodged, but reacted this time by pushing the flame away from him. ”Ouch ouch,” Max said, glancing at his seared shoulder, ”I swear, I’ll have HERO pay for this hoodie.”

Max continued the beam-o-war between fire and wind. It was somewhat dangerous as the flames were getting fed by his winds and the temperature continued rising. His ears pricked at his watch beeping. Damn, no time, He thought, I really didn’t want to do this. The air and flames would be violently pushed out in a certain radius. Blake may have also felt the wind lightly cut at him. A pseudo-dome with minute amounts of oxygen formed. It would be difficult for either combatants to use their powers within it. Max knew that he wouldn’t last long as it was already getting hard to breathe. He lunged at Blake with a hook; fully intent to knock the boy out.

Blake had put on a very confident smirk before, but it was quickly wiped away as the vicinity was engulfed in some sort of dome, one that obviously had very little oxygen, as Blake immediately detected the limited breathing space. His powers also fizzled out immediately due to the lack of oxygen, with only minute fiery sparks jumping from his fingers. Well, fuck me. Blake looked up to see a fist speeding towards his face. Fortunately for him, Blake’s reflexes were quite fast from years of training, even in this oxygen-deprived zone, and he was able to lift his forearm to block the punch from connecting with his face. ”Just...give up...dumbass..." Blake gasped, before swinging an uppercut with his non-blocking arm at Max’s gut.

It wasn’t everyday that someone could properly move in the dome. It was even rarer to have someone counter-attack. The heroes were definitely a different breed, could they have trained for this? Max honestly expected Blake to be like a fish out of water without his powers. ”You’re… good kiddo.” Max said as he dodged backwards. His chin got nicked by the uppercut, making him feel woozy and lightheaded. He managed to make an upwards kick aimed at Blake’s chin as he lost his footing and fell backwards. Max was the type to give back what he was given after all.

Blake crossed his arms in an ‘X’ formation, shielding his face from the kick. ”Gotcha...not a kiddo…loser” Blake managed between gasps for air. Before he could continue to attack, or gloat, or do much of anything, however, his body suddenly jerked spastically, his arms flailing about wildly, as he fell forwards, landing face-first on the ground with a parting ”oof.”

Approaching the scene was a group of uniformed police officers. Leading them was a man of rather short stature, with pale skin and neatly-combed auburn brown hair. He was wearing a tactical vest and was holding a sleek, futuristic-looking handgun that was softly smoking. He grinned. “Police Sergeant Joey ‘the Deagle’ Beagle is here, folks, no need to worry about the fighting anymore.” He blew the smoke away from his taser gun as he looked at the downed Max, who was on the floor. “Alright, buddy, now you’re gonna come quietly with us or I’m gonna have to taze you too, you understand?”

Max raised his hands up in mock surrender. It was already too late. He'd never hear the end of it from Julie. There was also no use in aggravating the police. ”Alright, alright...”

Of course, Sergeant Beagle ‘the Deagle’ was not exactly the most virtuous person in the world, for as soon as Max raised his hands, Beagle fired about five taser rounds directly into his chest. Needles to say, it hurt. Very, very badly. On top of that, it would be more than enough to cause unconsciousness. Beagle smiled at his clear act of police brutality, holstering his sidearm. “Cuff ‘em and haul ‘em off, boys. And let's get us some Dunkin Donuts. Woo, chocolate sprinkles time, baby!”


About One Hour Later
48th Precinct Holding Cells
The East Flank, Castleburg

Blake woke up with a groan, rubbing his head. ”Did I get drunk…?” he muttered, looking at his surroundings. He was in a very large, comfortable prison cell that had plenty of space, a gumball machine, and a mini-fridge. Then, he also saw Max sitting there, and everything made sense. ”Hey, hold on! You can’t put me in the same cell as this criminal! Blake shouted out, to no response. He grasped the bars. ”Let me out! This guy is like, a mobster or something!”

Max felt a stinging pain on his chest. ”That motherf...” He mumbled to himself as he groaned. He had always wondered what would happen if he pulled the air out of people’s lungs while causing the air to gyrate but he thought it too barbaric. But that police dog, what's-his-face, moved up the list of potential people to try it out on. Of course he really wouldn’t, he was just pissed that he was kicked whilst he already surrendered.

”Mobster, what?” Max asked the hotheaded teenager, ”Damn, do those idiots at HERO think I’m a vigilante?” He cracked his neck as he said this. His tongue was as loose and honest as it usually was. It wasn’t unreasonable atleast, he honestly thought that he did break some vigilante laws. He wasn’t clear on the laws on how HERO or the government treated them.

”I’ll make it straight, right here,” Max said flatly as he sighed, ”I only helped those kiddos out, heard ‘em scream and before I knew it I was helping them out. I’m just some nobody.”

Blake looked confused. ”Wait, so you’re not a criminal?” Blake scratched his chin. ”No, you’re lying! That’s what all criminals say when they get caught.”

”He’s not.”

Blake almost shit himself as he jumped from his (surprisingly comfortable) cot, turning over and giving a salute to Director Powers, who had appeared at the cell doors as if by magic. ”D-Director! This isn’t what it looks like. I can explain. I was just trying to do a mission-”

”Yes, yes, I understand.” Powers shook his head. ”It’s not entirely your fault, for once. Though I would advise you not to engage your adversaries before evacuating the nearby civilians. That’s just a recipe for disaster.” He turned his attention towards Max. ”As for you. Max, is it? I’m HERO’s Director Hugo Powers.” He extended a hand through the bars to shake. ”I apologize on behalf of some of my staff for the miscommunication. There was a rush to judgement that resulted in you being named as an associate of the Brookside Bruisers. We’ve corrected that, so you will not be staying here for much longer.” The man retracted his hand through the bars, putting both hands behind his back as he spoke professionally.

”While you are here, though, you clearly show a lot of promise with your powers that demonstrates a rather high level of skill and raw prowess with your abilities. I’d like to offer you a job at HERO.” Powers looked at Max thoughtfully. ”With somebody of your skill level, you’ll be able to take higher-level jobs right from the get-go and start with a rather high salary. And, of course, you’ll have free access to HERO’s resources, including our state-of-the-art hospital. Generally, we reserve hospital usage to HERO staff only, but we can make an exception for very close family. I understand that this may be valuable given your current situation.” Powers looked at the young man. ”What do you say?”

”You know you’re very intimidating Director Powers.” Max said as he shook his hand through the bars. He had no real reason to not accept, the terms were more than reasonable. Still though, higher-level jobs from the get-go? That kind of responsibility could crush anyone but he (hopefully) steeled himself for it. ”I’ll accept the job, it’s highly beneficial for me. I assume you’ve researched my history already, so I’ll thank you for the mindfulness of my sisters’ condition.”

”Though I do have one question,” Max began as a slight grin formed on his face, ”What’s that kiddos rank?” He pointed at Blake with his thumb. Though he didn’t mean to condescend, if more people were around his prowess then HERO’s likely full of monsters. He did also catch one more thing, ”He’s injured too, isn’t he?”

Powers smiled fondly. ”Welcome to HERO.” he said warmly. He handed an index card to Max. ”Report to the location given here at 9 A.M. sharp tomorrow morning. And bring a bagged lunch. All part of our entrance procedure.” Powers smiled as he heard Max's next question, his eyes falling onto Blake, who was currently pouting angrily and muttering something about having just turned 21. ”Firebird here is an A-minus ranked hero. He’s been with us for four or so years now. A bit of a knucklehead, but he gets things done, normally.” Powers folded his arms. ”I hope to see you soon.” And with that, Powers departed, walking out of the corridor.

Blake looked over at the individual that he was just trying to incinerate to death minutes earlier. He gave a weak smile. ”Hey, so, uhh, sorry about trying to turn you to ashes earlier. No hard feelings, right?” Blake scratched the back of his head with a bit of an embarrassed smile. ”Also, Powers forgot to...let us out of here…”

A-minus, huh? Max eyed Blake. ”It’s alright, not like I was in any danger, right?” He began, ”You may have made me miss my sisters’ appointment, but getting here into the HERO’s hospital may be worth her complaining about it for a few days, heh.”

”This is my first time in jail, is it usually this comfy?” Max asked quizzically as he stared at the amenities, ”Yeah you’re right, hopefully it’ll be soon so I can go back and pick up my damned groceries.”

”Oh right,” Max walked up to Blake and extended his hands towards the boy, ”We haven’t officially ‘met’. I’m Maxwell Matthews. If you don’t want me to call ya kiddo, tell me your name. Else it’ll just be Mr. Bird from now on.”

”Yeah, unless you do something really fucked up, you’ll be stuck here. Gumball?” Blake tossed a large green ball of gum at Max. ”Blake. Blake von Brandt, and I am not a kiddo.” Blake took Max’s hand, giving it a shake. ”Your power is pretty cool, glad you’re on our side after all. You’re pretty chill.”

Max caught the gumball, ”Nice to meet ya,” He popped the gum into his mouth, his face returned to its neutral stance. He purposefully ignored the kiddo comment, ”Your power is pretty terrifying. You did almost singe me alive; wouldn't wanna go through that again what the burning and ruined clothes, eh? Wait which prison are you thrown into if you've been a particularly bad boy?”

”When's that stupidly named dog cop going to get us out of here?” Max asked. His sister was likely going to grill him alive and no amounts of currying favour would help. While he was here he may as well try and ask questions about his missing relative, "Oh, speaking of my powers- have you ever seen anyone control it like I do?” It sounds like an odd brag but he really was curious.

”Wow, you have a lot of questions,” Blake said with a chuckle. ”You’ve never heard of Coldwater before?” he asked incredulously, raising his eyebrows. ”It’s the ultimate prison for big bads. Super high-security prison. Scary place. They pretty much lock you in a box and throw away the key.” Blake looked amused at his next questions. ”Hopefully soon. Oh, man, I have a date tonight, they better not leave me in this box forever...” Blake stood, making his way over to the cell bars and peering out to see if there was any sign of human life. ”I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody with that type of weird wind power before. At least, not like you did. It sounded almost like the wind was singing...oh, wait, I got it. I just got the name.”

Blake jolted as a nightstick suddenly slammed down on the bars, causing him to hop back in surprise as Beagle the Deagle approached again. He snarled at the two metahumans. “Alright, you two punks, if I ever see you on the streets putting innocent civilians in danger again, I’m gonna keep you in here for a long time, you understand?” Blake was tempted to tell this fool that there weren’t any civilians near them, and that he could kindly go stick it, but he did want to leave in a timely manner, so he just put on his best innocent face and nodded. Officer Beagle growled, opened the door, before stomping off.

Blake stepped outside of the cell, stretching his arms. ”Nice meeting you, man.” He smiled endearingly. ”I guess we’re co-workers now, so I’ll be seeing you around. Drinks are on me, since I can legally drink now!” Blake smiled. ”Oh, and one more thing.” Blake fished deep into his pocket and pulled out a crumbled business card, the words “C.R.E.W.” emblazoned on it in big red letters. ”I’m part of a hero group with a bunch of other guys. Kind of like the Wings of Law, but less evil and much, much cooler. You should join! You’d fit right in. We take jobs together and stuff...and we have our own headquarters, too, which is super cool.” Blake gave Max a thumbs-up. ”Alright, man, take care of yourself! Oh, and get ready to run tomorrow. A lot.”

Blake started to back out, before giving a fiery look. ”One more thing! If we ever get the chance to spar again...” He gave a wide, forboding grin. ”You better believe I'm gonna finish what I started.”


@Hitman and @Inertia
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Jumbus
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Jumbus My life be like oooooh-aaaah ooooh-aaaah

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Yui had been keeping a patrol in Athens since HERO took back over. She stopped a couple robberies, a shoplifting incident, and even an attempted murder. None of which were meta human criminals, but she was proud of her work none the less. In her short time of crime she had yet to find someone who she recognized. Well, until today.

Joey Goodman was anything but a good man. He was the drug dealer in her neighborhood growing up. He didn't care about the buyer or their age. He even got a few of her friends hooked. Luckily he got a reminder that he was selling on Koshiki Devils turf and she never saw him again. Although, the fact that he was living and breathing before her now meant that he was allowed to live. Probably went to go screw up some other neighborhood. How many lives did he destroy before he was here today? It must have been 10 or 11 years since she last saw him and the only thing that changed about him was the place he was selling. The man sickened her. He didn't seem to recognize her, so that was good.

Yui had cornered Joey in a New Athens alleyway. He remained in that corner under threat of the various blades that surrounded him. Meanwhile she kept a few metres distance, just pacing back and forth watching him. He squirmed like a rat, gone was the confidence he exuded back in the years. Guess he couldn't handle danger. "So let me get this straight. You thought because of the whole EAGLES thing, you could just waltz your way into New Athens and no one was going to be around to stop you? Is that right?" Her anger got the better of her a little bit, her blade drew ever so slightly closer. But she pulled the back that little bit when she noticed. "Yeah... yes yes, I'm sorry I don't know what I was thinking. Just let me go, I'll do whatever you want." Ignoring the pleading, she continued. "Do you know if anyone else got the same idea? To come to New Athens." "Oh, haha, I see what you are getting at. You want a c-cut right? How much do you want?" Yui gave him a light cut on the hand for that remark. "Ah! Shit! That hurts. Alright alright, I don't think anyone came up. Its just me, they sent me up to test the waters. See if it was good to sell, you know." "Who sent you? Actually, I couldn't care less. Either way, I think its best something bad happens to you, so we can avoid having more like you in New Athens. Wouldn't you agree?" She let the blades get real close, Joey squirmed under the threat. Then Yui tossed some handcuffs over to him. "Chuck those on yourself. You're going to Coldwater." Yui still had to get used to saying that.

It took about five or so minutes for the police arrive to take Joey away. It was a job well done and she thought she would take the day off. It was already 4 in the afternoon, so she only had an hour left. With her free time, she drove over to East Flank and sat by the shore side. It was quiet around this time, most people go over to the west side of Castleburg to watch the sunset. But she was looking at something different on this horizon, HERO One. Yui hadn't been inside since she had put herself in the system. She was still too nervous to go in. What if someone recognized her? She chuckled to herself when she got down that train of thought. As if delaying it was going to help. What would they say 'oh you are that super criminal from the Devils? Oh well you did catch a few small time criminals so I guess you are good now'. Yui was more than smart enough to know that isn't how the world works.

Either way she has to go in some day. It only takes that leap of courage to do it.

Maybe a few more days.


Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by DarkRecon
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DarkRecon The sword that smites evil

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Alpha


One week...one week that changed everything for me...

Alpha sat on the edge of his bed in his room inside Hero One. Still wondering if he had made the right choice...because his decision had one of several consequences.

But the primary one being that he was no longer an official "police officer" and being stripped of his police badge, sidearm and even his secondary codename "K Nine".

Though he also knew that this wasn't the first time he had messed up. His "secret" team back in his day weren't all that different. Well...they were smaller in number compared to the numbers assigned to Hero One. Plus, Hero One was a official team of Heroes. But even then, it was only because another Hero team had called them out.

This time, he had only but himself to blame...for the first time since he was only a kid...he lost control of himself...only this time, he didn't suddenly use his power to kill someone...he chose to help his new team. To trust them...and this was the result.

Not long afterwards, I.C.O.S.A. made it no secret that they wanted to split up all those involved with stopping Seraph's coup de tat. Though to him, it was only because they actually got the job done while they were still dragging their heels during the whole incident and just wanted to cover their own rear ends. It would look bad for the I.C.O.S.A. if they were disgraced for failing to react to a situation that Seraph and his EAGLES caused. The only reason Alpha knew any of this was because Alpha still had some friends within the US government here and there. At the very least, they warned him that he was going to be watched a lot more closely now. If not by Powers and/or Lavender but from anyone I.C.O.S.A. sends.

Though it wouldn't be the first time he got busted by the I.C.O.S.A. as he thought.

But...it was two days after the incident that both his parents paid him a visit...not only to check up on him and his well-being...but to celebrate his birthday...his 23rd birthday.

They were happy as always but even more so that he started talking to them normally rather than a stiff soldier. So much so they they even told him this.

"No matter how much you change. For better or worse...we both are proud of you."

Now...he was just an emotional mess.

But it was those emotions that he noticed that made his stronger...for one, when he was trying to heal Quake, he didn't waste energy doing so. He then followed both her and Joseph out and even had energy to spare to heal Joseph or at least stablize both of them and at least lessen their recovery time in the hospital. He could never do that when he had kept his feeling to himself. When he healed someone else's injury, even if it was a very minor one, he was exhausted afterwards.

His parents were now constantly calling him. No doubt aware of his emotional problems now but really, he was taking some down time until he can calm down or figure out what happened to him.

So far, he hasn't had any luck. At first, he felt that meeting Pandora was what first triggered it. His sudden outburst when Commander Lavender told and warned him about her history and her unique condition plus bad attitude towards others. But no. He'd met and even heard of such stories of other meta humans over the years during his training. Or perhaps meeting and interacting with other heroes more frequently simply made him realize how different from others he was...or maybe he just got fed up with being told who his friends and enemies were.

But that changed when he received a certain text message on his iPhone...an invitation to join a group..."C.R.E.W."

Seeing who the message came from, Alpha then thought about it...those group of rag tag heroes...joining them would lead to trouble no doubt...then again, that's probably why she contacted him...simply because he was the most level-headed operative...but not right now...not with his emotions clouding his judgement...but...sitting here and moping about it wasn't going to help either.

So, for better or worse, Alpha sent a reply text.

"...I'm in..."

Alien Angel


Meanwhile, a certain vigilante was on the roof of a nearby building from the place called the Neko Tengoku. But it wasn't that fancy restaurant that she was interested in.

It was the new "business" that was starting next door to it. The words "CREW" spray painted on the upper front door.

"Firewall", a well-known hacker now working for Infinite, had notified her about this. Even the "boss" was curious to see how far "the rookies" has the boss called them could take this business venture. Though Firewall warned her that it most likely wouldn't last. Both the I.C.O.S.A. were "supposedly" making moves against them and even the police were no longer trusting any meta humans from Hero One after the Club 27 incident.

She even had heard about that stiff guy Alpha losing his police badge after that.

As she looked at it, she really wanted to help. Normally getting too involved in others affairs in her line of work was NOT advised. They were just on opposite sides of the law. And even if she did openly join them, I.C.O.S.A. would use her as the excuse to cause those heroes more headaches than they need right now. Either that or "CREW" would look like "hired vigilantes". Bad publicity.

Still, Infinite had an interest here in Castleburg. Zero had shown itself here. She needed to do her part to figure out why. Yet it seemed like this group of heroes always seemed to find their way towards one or more of their members.

And somehow they all lived to tell the tale.

She was glad when she heard Quake and Joseph were ok but she couldn't go to visit herself. Even if he didn't like the I.C.O.S.A., Hugo Powers himself would no doubt arrest her personally on the spot. And she sure as hell wasn't going to risk her human form just to visit some hero's during their hospital stay. Sure, Firewall was good at what she does but Hero One also had their brains that could match hers or perhaps surpass it.

"Heh. Those ombre's probably don't even come close to my level but amigo, don't chance it. Too much heat going around", she had warned at the time.

But now, Firewall had tipped her off about the CREW business. Pulling out, with the usual pink color, an iPhone from her pink backpack. She then hit the speed dial on a certain number.

"Hola."

"English please."

"Oy loosen up A.A. but ok."

"I'm top of a building across from the target. Any updates?"

"Oh yeah. Text messages are going out. Can tell you Alpha, get this, accepted the job. Figured he'd say no after his emotional imbalance right now."

"Heh...well what do you know. The lap dog finally got fed up with the leash."

"Bound to happen...A.A. I know you hate those types but in this case, give him credit. Kid saw s*** very early in his life and it changed him. Even he saw how dangerous he was when he lost control."

"Yeah I know. The whole "living blue bomb" thing. Yet he can heal others. That's handy as hell I'll admit."

"Shame we can't recruit him but kid's got too much baggage with military parents and a dropped body on his conscience. Possibly more."

"..."

"...A.A. Back to reality."

"Yeah sorry. So what's the word from the boss?"

"While you can't join, we CAN shadow them. We'll watch and ONLY step in if it's necessary. Keeping secrets like the Zero Organization is most likely going to catch up with these newbs unless Powers finally decides to actually trust his own team a bit more for once. So for now, just keep tabs as usual but don't slack off on your patrols. You ain't the only meta that can fly you know. Peace out."

"Gotcha. Thanks for that update."

Hanging up and placing the iPhone back in her pink backpack, Alien Angel moved away from the edge of the roof and just started some stretching routines. Firewall was right though. Can't stay in one place for too long. Patrols still need to be done just like the Hero One members did no doubt.

But she was no hero. She was a vigilante.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey Large Fry Enjoyer

Member Seen 23 min ago



Brooke


Brooke had a bright pink box of donuts in one hand, and a styrofoam collection of cup holders with three coffee cups in them in the other. She trotted up a set of soft stairs, her white sneakers with gold plastic highlights thumping in a satisfying way that pleased Brooke. White socks, white leggings with gold lines up the side and around the waist, a white hoodie with gold inlay, unzipped to reveal a black shirt. Thick rimmed, circular black glasses sat on her nose. Her frazzled, curly dark hair was pulled up and to the side in a sort of combover.

She was travelling intently to the shared apartment of Brianna Hart and Jamie Stewart, Static and Quake respectively. Jamie had received some injuries during the final encounter with Seraph’s forces at HERO One. So Brooke figured she might as well try to brighten up her recovery. Also, she had read their file and deduced that these two were among the best to introduce herself too, first. Both personality ways and connections wise. Other than that, the choice was kind of arbitrary. Hopefully it went well. Donuts improved every social interaction from what she had gathered. She felt like the new kid at school. First impressions were important! Hopefully she didn’t screw this up.

Having memorized their apartment number it didn’t take long for her to track down the room. Once she was there, she paused to gather her composure. She rolled her shoulders and kicked out her legs, swaying back and forth.

”Okay. You got this.” She said to herself. She looked at her hands, full of coffee and donuts, and briefly raised her foot to kick-knock the door. But then she remembered she had super powers. So instead a spectral hand, the color of the neutral lighting of the hallway, appeared out of thin air. It rapped it’s knuckles on the door for her. Brooke looked at the peak-through thingy on the door and smiled. She probably smiled too early because she ended up having to hold it a bit, but she didn’t want one of them to come to the door and see her smile fade so she kept it up.

It was 7 AM on a Sunday, and Jamie absolutely did not want to be awake. She laid sprawled out on her bed on her side, groggy. Laying on the wounds was still painful, despite having healed, so she preferred to sleep on her side. It had almost been a week since she had been injured, but everything still ached and the painkillers made her sleepy and she had to be careful, so she preferred to sleep in. Which was why the knock at her door so early wasn’t well-received. At the sound of a sharp knock, she opened her eyes and groaned. Her eyes flicked to the digital clock on her nightstand, and she groaned even louder. “Oh, come on!” she yelled, voice filled with the grogginess of being woke up. She laid down on the bed and sighed, waiting for the knocks to abate and whoever it was to go away, but they didn’t.

“Ugh. Seriously?” Seeing no other alternative, Jamie climbed carefully out of her queen-sized bed and onto the carpet. She took a swig of the water on her cluttered nightstand and then cinched her cornflower blue bathrobe around herself. She probably shouldn’t be half-naked in front of a solicitor or a missionary or whatever. Castleburg summer was hot, and her air conditioning sucked, so she was currently sleeping in her bra and exercise shorts, plus the bandages and stitches on her wounds.

So, that’s how Jamie dragged herself to the front door- in a bathrobe with only underwear underneath, tangled blonde hair pulled into a messy bun, and looking like a zombie. As Jamie was Jamie, she didn’t look in the peephole before swinging the door out… only to see a smiling woman? With coffee and donuts? She looked kind, but was smiling strangely. Jamie briefly wondered what the box was, before realizing it was donuts, and a smile creeped on her face. She loved donuts! If only Brie was here… she loved donuts nearly as much as Jamie did. “I’m Jamie Stewart,” she started, at least remembering her manners. She leaned on the doorknob a bit as she spoke. “Did you knock on the wrong door or something? I wasn’t expecting anyone at, um, 7:00 AM, and this building has a no-solicitors policy, I think? So, um, who are you? Or, like, what’s your name. Or whatever. And why are you here with donuts?”

Brooke’s smile quickly turned into a nervous one as soon as she got a look at Jamie in her zombified state. As Jamie spoke, Brooke forze up. ”Oh, my God. It’s, like, 7 AM.” She said through grit teeth as if the full realisation of what that meant just occurred to her. “And you just got out of the hospital!” She hissed. Her eyes widened further.

Quickly she turned to leave. ”I’m so sorry,” She began. She got four steps before she turned around. ”Here, take these, they’re for you and Brianna Hart.” Once they were in Jamie’s hands. Then she turned around again, then immediately completed it into a 360. Her movements were erratic. She pointed at Jamie. ”I’m sorry!” Sweat was beginning to build on her forehead.

”I’m Brooke! Brooke Everette!” She blurted, her fingers grasped the open space as if social grace was an airborne resource she could draw upon if she tried hard enough.

”I’m not some villain! The donuts definitely aren’t poisoned!” She stated emphatically.

”Okayokayokay, now it sounds like they are poisoned. But they aren’t. They’re a gift! I-I’m-,” She exhaled. “God- is it- is it? Is it hot out here or what? She said. Brooke tugged at the collar of her shirt and nervously chuckled. It was as if Jamie had opened the door and stumbled across a fish out of water, flopping around and dying from a lack of oxygen.

Jamie watched all of this unfold with an incredulous look growing on her face. This Brooke girl was having… an utter and complete meltdown on her doorstep. To Jamie’s brain, this was hilarious. She took the donuts and coffee from Brooke’s hands, but frowned at the mention of Brie. Her roommate had been told of her imminent transfer to California just a few days ago (on her 21st birthday, no less!) and was spending some time with Will before she had to leave. Upon finding out, Jamie had (predictably) sobbed her eyes out and clung to her friend. But the good part was… well, there wasn’t a good part, but maybe more donuts for Jamie?

At the end of Brooke’s little meltdown, though, Jamie giggled and smiled. “No, not really. The hall’s air-conditioned. But maybe you’re just a sweaty person?” Jamie laughed again, and then opened the door fully. Maybe she shouldn’t invite this random woman inside, she didn’t really know what she was after, after all, but Jamie didn’t really have any plans with anyone today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. So it might be nice to have somebody over. Especially if they had brought donuts.

“It’s alright, Brooke. It’d be nice to have someone over, especially if they have donuts! Brie’s not here today, so it’s just really me and the TV.” Jamie stepped aside, gesturing to the door. “You can come in if you want. It’s a bit of a mess, but, like, I’m not supposed to be moving around anyways.”

Without waiting for a response, Jamie headed into the apartment, flicking a light on as she entered. True to her word, it was a bit messy. There were cardboard boxes (presumably Brie’s) strewn about the room, and a lot of miscellaneous things on the surfaces and chairs. It was a nice apartment for Castleburg, though. Jamie made a pretty good salary as a well-known S-Tier hero, so she had been able to rent out a two-bedroom. There was a kitchenette and a small dining table just off the living room. The sink was filled with dirty dishes. The living room itself, though, had brown wallpaper and beige carpet. There was a blue three-seater sofa and a grey armchair sat in front of a TV and a coffee table. Notably, both chairs’ legs and fabric had been scratched to oblivion. There were a couple pieces of trash on the coffee table, and the sofa was covered in blankets. Just to the left of the kitchenette, there was a hallway leading to what was presumably the bedrooms and bathroom.

“Sorry,” Jamie apologized for a second time as she headed inside. “I’ve been a bit of a mess lately. Do you wanna, like, sit down and chat?” Jamie led them both to the sofa, cleared the blankets off, and sat down. She put the donuts down, too, and uncovered them. “Ooh, Boston Kreme… so, why’d you, like, come to my apartment at 7 AM? Sort of a funny thing to do.”

Brooke smiled nervously, happy that Jamie hadn’t taken the opportunity to be mean. Already she was feeling more at ease. At the very least, Brooke knew donuts were a good call. Donuts could do the talking for her! Donuts were never wrong! The stranger glanced around the apartment she was graciously invited into and smiled. ”Wow, don’t worry it’s…” She caught sight of the dirty dishes in the sink. ”...really nice!” Brooke blinked and finished her genuine complement. Brooke wiped her forehead, her heart-rate de-escalating. By the way Jamie was acting, Brooke surmised she hadn’t totally screwed this up.

Brooke searched the place for any sign of Brianna Hart, but no luck. Just a bunch of boxes. Brooke raised an eyebrow and began to make some conclusions.

Brooke sat down on the couch and let Jamie have at the donuts first. She crossed one leg over the other.

At the question, she winced. ”Yes, well...I-, uh...y’know, jet lag, and all that. Oh! I just flew in from California! Yes, I should tell you-” She laughed. ”I should tell you why I’m here, before getting into how I got here at seven in the morning. Obviously!” She thwacked her own forehead.

”I’m a transfer hero!” Brooke announced proudly. Her round glasses had fogged up. ”I’m a hero that signed up with LATCH, and now I’m here! In Castleburg. Because of the whole, y’know,” She gestured vaguely. ”...Terrible...ness...”

“My hero name is Victory. My middle name is Victoria, too! Some people call me Vicky. You can, uh, if you want. Brooke works, too, obviously.” She shifted uncomfortably.

“B-but yeah, we’re going to be working together! I’m going to be living here in Castleburg, probably at HERO One, for the foreseeable future. So I’m really excited to get to know everyone. And I picked you first.” Brooke pointed at Jamie. Brooke clearly talked with her hands. Most people would consider it a distracting amount of hand movement.

“Oh, you’re from California?” Jamie took a sip of her frappuccino and then a bite of her donut. Delicious. It was nice to know that this Brooke girl wasn’t just some rando fan, but a coworker! “I went to LA once, it was nice. I’ve heard it’s really nice there. That’s where they’re transferring Brie, actually...”

With that slightly awkward comment, Jamie finished her donut and picked up another one. This one was plain jelly. “So, like, what’s your power? And like your tier and stuff? I’m S-Tier, and my thing is sort of like… well. I make earthquakes?” Her power was a bit hard to explain, so Jamie just left it at that. Plus, Brooke had seemed to know quite a bit about her earlier, so chances were she already knew everything.

Brooke’s eyebrow twitched as she looked down at the third cup of coffee for Brianna Hart. How had she missed that!?

At the talk of superpowers, Brooke brightened up. ”Of course! You’re Quake! I’ve read all about you guys. Seismokinesis!” She geeked. ”So cool!” Brooke put a hand to her chest and sighed.

”I’m what you guys at HERO would call an A-tier.” She said. ”I can kind of control light. Basically, when I see light, I can make it hard!” Without warning she reached out towards an open window behind Jamie. The natural light streaming in solidified into a transparent orb of the same color. It hit the ground with a dull thud and began to roll around. It came to a stop at the foot of the couch. Brooke winced.

“Oh, like Starbright!” Jamie said immediately, defaulting to the only other person she knew who used light. She didn’t quite understand how light became “hard”, but it was cool, she guessed? Jamie tried to kick the ball of light, and to her surprise, it actually felt like a ball. “Cooool! This is so much better than Starbright’s power. His is sort of lame. But all he really does is sit around and look pretty, so eh.” Jamie picked up the ball and sort of bounced it… which didn’t really work, since it wasn’t bouncy. She quickly gave that up once she realized it wasn’t going to bounce like a dodgeball. “Do you wanna see a demonstration of my power? I could- ohhhh, wait. Nevermind. Doctor’s orders, can’t use my powers for a bit or I’ll explode my intestines. I guess you’ll just have to watch some videos!” As a part of her recovery, Jamie had been order not to use her powers for an entire month lest she fuck up her intestines, which were recovering from massive internal bleeding. She smiled, though. “They’re really everywhere. The videos, I mean.” She sat forward and took another sip of her drink.

”Oh yeah, I know all about your power. I’ve watched like, all the videos.” Brooke said excitedly, nodding as Jamie complimented her powers. ”And my powers are very cool...if you ask me.” Brooke beckoned the ball toward her with her finger and it rolled.

”With a little bit of focus…” She picked up the ball and squeezed it. It compressed in her hands and before long it was much smaller, small enough to fit in one hand. It was also much harder to see through. Brooke turned to the side, and threw it at all the wall, where it bounced with a rubbery ‘thock’ sound and travelled back to her hand.

”Now it’s a bouncy ball!” She practically squealed. She handed it to Jamie.

Jamie actually squealed, and took the bouncy ball of light into her hands. “OhmyGod, that is so cool!” She chucked it at the wall, and it came back… so Jamie proceeded to do that about ten times. Until she remembered that Brooke was still there, she didn’t seem to get bored of it. But when she did, she turned back to Brooke and laughed. “Haha! That’s super fun. My power just sort of makes things shake, so it’s not really as fun unless you want to make a smoothie? I can’t make anything, is what I’m trying to say. I can make cracks in walls! Like that one over there…” Jamie pointed to a thin crack in the wall of the living room. Jamie finished off the jelly donut and took a sip of her frappuccino. She curled up on the couch.

“You should tell me about yourself!” she said, suddenly, after a moment of silence. “We just started C.R.E.W or whatever, so… tell me about yourself!”

Brooke was pleased that Jamie was enjoying her power. The novelty of it made it more fun than regular bouncy balls...unless Jamie just really liked toys like this. Not that there was anything wrong with that! Brooke looked over at the crack and the wall and put a hand up to her mouth, exhaling a laugh.

”Oh, me?” Brooke asked, pointing at herself. ”There’s not too much to tell.” She said dismissively. ”But, I guess it’s only fair, since I read your file.” She said that last part more to herself.

”Well, I was born in Los Angeles. I have three little brothers. I always wanted to be a superhero, pretty much. I own 322 comic books, 28 graphic novels, and 156 regular books. I’m left handed...” Brooke began using her fingers as a reference for how many facts she was rattling on about herself.

Jamie blinked. Woh. This girl was a nerd! “That’s a lot of books,” Jamie commented. After that, though, she couldn’t find anything to see She could rattle on facts about herself, and opened her mouth to do so, but hadn’t Brooke said she had read Jamie’s file already? So she probably knew everything about her already… Jamie took a long sip of her coffee instead of saying anything.

This was an odd silence. She hadn’t really been expecting guests today, so Jamie wasn’t quite… on, so to speak. The coffee was helping, but she was still waking up. “... I don’t own any books,” Jamie eventually added, which was technically true. Brooke didn’t respond to that, so Jamie just munched on her second donut and stared out her window awkwardly.

Brooke nodded. ”I guess it is.” Brooke scratched her head. She still hadn’t touched her donuts or coffee.

”Um...so...I was under the impression that Brianna Hart was going to be here? My intel must have been wrong.” Brooke said, glancing around the boxes. ”Is she moving or something?

Jamie sighed, long and loud. This was somewhat of a sore topic for her. It had only been a few days since her roommate and good friend had started the moving out process, not to mention that all this had happened when Jamie had just gotten out of the hospital. “Yeah, she is,” she said, rather sulkily. “ICOSA’s making her transfer to California. I think she leaves in a few days? She went to her boyfriend’s house last night, though, so she’s not here…” She trailed off a bit, adjusting her spot on the couch. “I guess that sort of makes you her replacement! Since you’re coming here and she’s, well, going there…” Jamie laughed at her own joke.

Brooke furrowed her eyebrows, frowned, and nodded. ”I guess that makes sense. ICOSA can be cold, sometimes, but…” Brooke trailed off. She refocused her eyes on Jamie and smiled.

“It’ll be alright, though. I’m gonna miss her, but I just really have to find a new roommate. Can’t be that hard, right?” She quirked a smile, but it was short-lived. Unfortunately, finding roommates was usually a struggle for Jamie, but she wasn’t about to say that to Brooke.

”I’m sure you’ll find a roommate. You’re super famous, you have super powers, and- well, you seem really nice.” Brooke shrugged. She smiled, one of her front teeth chipped.

That made Jamie smile. The corners of her lips ticked up. This Brooke woman was super nice! “Thanks!” she said. “Doesn’t really help me find a roommate though.” Jamie’s eyes then flicked down to the donuts and coffee, and she narrowed her brows in confusion. Had Brooke not eaten yet? “Are you gonna eat anything?” she asked, pointing to the donut box. “If you don’t want this stuff you bought, I could whip us up some pancakes or eggs or whatever. I haven’t set a fire in, like, a couple months!”

Brooke shook her head apologetically. ”Oh, no, it’s nothing, it’s fine. I- I didn’t even realise I was waiting.” Brooke reached out for her coffee and tipped the cup up. It was hot, and she exhaled into the cup. ”Wait, did you say fire?” She giggled.

Her round glasses had entirely fogged up from her interaction with the coffee, so much so that eye contact was difficult for the both of them.

Jamie giggled, too. If Brooke glanced at the kitchen, she’d notice that several parts of it seemed… slightly singed, and some even entirely new. “Yeah, I did! I’m not super good at cooking, so… but I can make some killer scrambled eggs if I don’t burn them.” She ran a hand through her straw blonde hair and blushed a bit. “You any good at cooking?”

Brooke laughed. ”There’s a difference between being bad at cooking and setting your kitchen on fire.” She said, looking at the replaced parts of the kitchen.

”Oh, I’m sorry. Was that mean?” She apologised, feeling bad. ”I bet your scrambled eggs are really good, for real.” With a nervous energy Brooke took off her fogged up glasses and rubbed them with her hoodie. After a moment, her right eye drifted lazily toward the center of her face as her left eye remained focused on the task. She put the glasses back on, and the eye corrected itself.

“No, no, it’s fine!” Jamie was fully aware of how shit she was at cooking. “I think I tried to put out a fire with vegetable oil. I guess that makes me really bad at cooking. But we all make mistakes!” Obviously, this “mistake” was very, very dumb, but Jamie wasn’t going to say that. “If you hadn’t brought these awesome not-poisoned donuts, I probably would’ve made scrambled eggs. Lucky me!”

Genuine concern briefly flashed across Brooke’s features. ”V-vegetable oil, huh?” She said. ”Haha, yeah, lucky you!” She cleared her throat, glancing down at her unpoisoned donuts. Then she laughed, covering her face. ”Right, vegetable oil. Obviously!” She shook her head, assuming Jamie was joking. ”I’m so stupid. My friends tell me jokes always fly right over my head. Phzooo, you know?” She pantomimed the motion of an object flying over her head.

Oblivious, Jamie didn’t notice Brooke’s clear concern and confusion. She, in fact, looked confused when Brooke tried to say it was a joke. “I’m not joking!” Smiling despite the ridiculousness of what she just said, Jamie giggled again. “I’m being totally serious. I thought it would put out the fire. Apparently, that’s not how vegetable oil works… whoops!”

”Nope!” Brooke squeaked. ”It sure doesn’t!” Brooke shifted in her seat. After a moment she erupted to her feet and walked over to the kitchen, looking over the damage. She was frantically checking for gas leaks and open flames at this point.

Jamie’s gaze followed Brooke to the kitchen, curious. “Whatcha doing?” she shouted. After a minute, she stood and followed Brooke into the kitchen. This was a bit odd. She stood over Brooke, who was crouched down and investigating the pipes under Jamie’s sink. “Are you looking for like, snacks or something? My water’s in the fridge… I don’t keep my food under my sink, you know.”

”You don’t make toast while you’re in the bathtub, do you?” Brooke asked, voice sounding echoey and distant from under there. She twisted her back, making sure nothing was clogged or sabotaged or- jammed with knives and duct tape or gum. No open wires, either. There were sounds of rattling and fiddling.

“... No? I don’t have a toaster in my bathroom, silly. Plus, it would get soggy.” Jamie wrinkled her nose, and then crouched down to see the inside of the sink. A shot of pain went through her abdomen, and she hissed, straightening up again. Right, right. The hole in her stomach. “Can I like… help you find anything?” she asked, hovering over Brooke. She wasn’t quite sure what Brooke was doing with her sink. “If something’s broken, I can call my landlord…”

There was a moment of silence. ”...Uh, no. No, I’m good.” Brooke emerged from underneath the sink and closed the doors. ”You...uhm. Well,” Brooke began stumbling over her own words again.

”W-well, th-the main reason...the main reason you shouldn’t make toast in the bathtub is because if you drop any electronics in the water you’ll zap yourself.” Brooke said, knitting her fingers together.

”A-and, if you use sleeping pills or painkillers, don’t drink alcohol at the same time!” Brooke added quickly. She looked down at Jamie’s abdomen. ”I know you-- it might be tempting- but, don’t do it! How- how are you, by the way? With the injury? I heard you got it pretty bad.” Brooke said.

A puzzled look flashed over Jamie’s face. Was Brooke giving her… advice? Weird. This was totally stuff she had already heard, though- totally. She winced at the mention of her injury, and her hand instinctively went to touch her abdomen. There was still a bandage there and on her back, covering the stitches that the doctors had used to make sure her guts didn’t fall out.

“Well, I, uh, I just got out of the hospital… it was pretty bad, but I’m doing fine now! It’s a long story, but I got shot through the intestines with a sharp, fast icicle,” Jamie explained. “This one lady tried to heal me on the battlefield by sticking her hand inside of me and it actually sort of worked, but I had to be taken to the hospital afterwards. I got a lot of stitches, and, now, uh, I’m on leave for a month!”

Brooke nodded, sagely. ”Icicles can be a killer. I know it was a long story- I read the report. Crazy stuff.” She blinked. ”I’m sorry, is it weird that I keep bringing up reports and stuff?” She asked. Before she could answer, she cut herself off.

”Sorry you got almost killed by the way, Ohmygod!” She slapped her own forehead apologetically, re-orienting her priorities.

“No, no, it’s okay!” Jamie rushed to comfort Brooke, patting her on the shoulder. Brooke was being a bit awkward, Jamie could tell, but she seemed so nice that it was endearing. “That’s not weird at all. Director Powers is always telling us to read the reports. Of course, I never listen because reports are boring, but… like… if you like them, that’s cool!” That was a lie. Liking reports was not cool, but that would probably hurt Brooke’s feeling, so Jamie didn’t say it. “If you read the report, tell me what that said. Maybe I can fill you in on stuff it didn’t say.”

Brooke briefly wondered if Jamie really thought reading the reports was cool considering she just called them boring. ”Yeah...I do like reading reports. They’re like comic books, except they actually happened, and there’s no pictures. Plus, you get the numbers on collateral damage and stuff which comics don’t usually include, so that’s cool.” Brooke said quietly.

”As for the report itself, well, it was kind of long. But basically Seraph framed Patricia Donnelly for murder, leveraging her familial connection to make it more convincing. HERO was temporarily scattered. There was an incident at Club 27 that didn’t have a lot of detail. Everyone reconvened at HERO One. There was a big fight, and Seraph essentially committed suicide. Thus, EAGLES came to an end.” Brooke reported.

”It just seemed like such a bad plan. Did he really think he could get away with it, all by himself? It seemed very poorly thought through, if you ask me.” Brooke rubbed her chin. ”I wondered if anything else was going on.” She said to herself.

“Well, he wasn’t all by himself,” Jamie corrected. Settling in for a bit of a story, she climbed up onto her counter and sat there, legs swinging. “He had the rest of the Wings of Law, and this villain organization who helped him out, and evil Blake… oh, I wonder how Blake’s doing! He looked pretty rough when they were hauling him off to the hospital. Hope he’s okay. Anyways, yeah, there was this other villain organization that was helping out Seraph. That was where the guy who shot me was from! They gave Seraph some leftover blood and he turned into a monster and fell into the ocean, too, that was weird. Anyways, this villain organization called ZE-” That was when Jamie realized her mistake. She clapped her hands over her mouth in the middle of her sentence, and her eyes went wide. Oh no. She wasn’t supposed to say that! “I wasn’t supposed to tell you that,” she moaned. “That was classified, like capital C classified. You have to swear you won’t tell anyone anything I just said!” Jamie hopped off the counter and seized Brooke by the shoulders, not quite shaking her but grasping her firmly. “I’m serious!” Jamie did, in fact, look and sound serious. Her eyes narrowed, and the smile fell off her face.

Brooke’s mouth had formed into a small ‘o’ of surprise at this revelation. ”O-okay, I won’t!” She exclaimed. Her arms had seized by her sides and her back was as straight as a log. She just kind of stood there and did nothing. Clearly she didn’t expect that much to be left off the report, nor did she expect to be talking to a walking security leak.

Jamie stared into Brooke’s eyes with suspicion. “You’d better not,” she warned, and released Brooke’s shoulders from her vice grip. The smile returned to her face, like nothing had just happened. “I’m really counting on you! That was a big mess-up, oh man… but I think I can trust you. So please… don’t talk about that! What the report said is what happened.” Jamie gabe Brooke an awkward thumbs-up and clapped her on the shoulder. “Thanks for keeping a secret!”

Brooke exhaled, relieved that the situation had de-escalated. ”Man…” She exclaimed quietly. ”Good thing I’m not some kinda supervillain, huh?” Brooke said.

”Oh, hey that reminds me. My ID.” She reached into her hoodie and pulled out a wallet. She removed a LATCH ID card from within, one that was customized with gold colored, wavy lines. ”Wanna see something cool?” She asked. She began to shift the ID card from side to side. The image of Brooke’s face transitioned from a neutral expression to a big toothy grin.

”It’s a 3D image! See? Serious Brooke, Happy Brooke, Serious Brooke, Happy Brooke!” She said, looking down at the ID card, extremely pleased.

”I wanted to get them standardized but for some reason, they never caught on. I think it’s neat. And the ID is real, by the way, definitely. This way you know I’m not evil.” Brooke explained. ”Or, at least, not unregistered.” She added.

Jamie squinted at the ID image. At first, she didn’t see the change, but once she did, she laughed. “That’s so cool!” she squealed. “Mine is just Serious Jamie. I kind of forgot where I put it though, so… imagine a super serious looking 17-year-old me. I hope Powers lets you do that with your ID here. He’s sort of a stickler for the rules.”

“Don’t worry, I can tell you’re not evil!” Jamie messed with her hair and took it out of its tangled messy bun while she spoke. “You seemed pretty not-evil. I think an evil person would’ve been a bit less… smile-y. And awkward. N-not that you’re awkward.”

Brooke shrugged apologetically. ”Yeah...sorry. Never been good at this part of the job. Fortunately, only so many memories of botched social interactions can keep me up at night at a time. So my brain always has new material to cycle through! But sometimes there’s nothing better than a re-run. Like the time I accidentally called my middle school english teacher Mom, and then apologized by saying ‘sorry, mom.’” Brooke laughed. Suddenly she was much less awkward than she was at the beginning of this conversation.

Jamie snorted. “No worries. You’re not that bad, really… If you think you are, you should meet Joseph! He’s super awkward,” she reassured Brooke. “Oh, believe me, that’s not just a you thing! I do embarrassing stuff all the time. I think I accidentally called Powers ‘dad’ once. SO embarrassing! I think about that all the time… and I still work for him!” Jamie slung her head back and laughed at herself, again. She liked this Brooke girl, she decided. Anyone that could make her laugh and smile was good in Jamie’s book!

Brooke smiled. ”Joseph Moore, right? I’ll be paying him a visit soon enough. I plan on making my rounds to everyone eventually. Though I had hoped to be more efficient than just one at a time. Still, maybe it’s the best I didn’t just plunge in head first.” She shrugged.

”Thanks for letting me fumble my way through a first impression, Jamie. I look forward to working with you.” Brooke said, extending her hand out for a handshake. ”And, uh...y’know. Be careful? Around the house?” She advised, her voice raising in pitch.

It took Jamie a moment, but she realized Brooke was trying for a handshake, so she shook it eagerly. “Me too, Brooke! If you’re looking for a nice place to meet all of us, you could head over to our speakeasy that we just bought. I think the address is in the database? Just say I invited you. We usually hang out there at night,” Jamie offered. She really wouldn’t mind seeing Brooke around after this.

“And yeah, I will!” Jamie laughed at Brooke’s seemingly out-of-place comment. “You too. If you’re leaving, I’ll… see you around?” She glanced to the door.

Brooke nodded unsurely. ”Okay, I’ll check it out.” She wasn’t confident about barging into their hangout in the middle of one of their...hangout sessions.

”And yeah, I should probably head out. Get really situated at HERO One and start working on meeting the next person. God...so many cool superheroes in Castleburg. Fortunately I won’t have to introduce myself to all of them, just the little group you’ve found yourself in. Bunch of troublemakers.” She smirked. ”Okay, I’ll let you get back to healing. And sleep. I’ll come by later next time. Bring lunch instead of donuts?” Brooke backed up towards the door.

Jamie smiled brightly. Another friend! Nice. “Yeah, that sounds awesome! Maybe we can go out for lunch sometime when I’m not…” She gestured to her wound. “I’ll see you, though. Just, like… call me when you wanna hang out next time, alright?” Jamie walked to the door with Brooke and opened it for her. But before Brooke left, she glanced around the room. Her eyes settled on the coffee table. “Oh! Don’t forget your coffee. And take a donut, you bought them, jeez…” Jamie strode over to the coffee table and picked up Brooke’s coffee and a glazed donut. She handed them both to her. “Thanks for the donuts and coffee!”

Brooke took the donut and coffee. ”Oh, uh, right, thanks. I mean- you’re welcome. Thanks.” She grimaced. ”Okay. Well, it was nice to meet you, Jamie! Looking forward to seeing you in action sometime! When you feel better! Get better!” Brooke backed up and was speaking like she was already far away even though she was just out the door. ”Bye!” She turned and began to make her way down the hall. Before she turned the final corner she poked her head back around. ”Bye!” She whisper-shouted.

“Byeee!” Jamie poked her head out of the door and waved furiously at Brooke. She waited until she was out of eyeshot before she slammed the door shut and flopped onto the couch. Even though she had had coffee, she still just wanted to lay around. That was okay. At least she had gotten something done today- making a new friend!

Brooke hurried back down the stairs. Soon she was out of the apartment building and to her white car with black tinted windows and plush black leather interior. She stared at the door handle, donut in one hand, coffee cup in the other. She glanced around, feeling extremely privileged that she was using her superpower to open up her car door because she was holding coffee and a donut in her hand. Ashamedly she used her hard light hand to reach into her wallet and produce the car keys stuffed crudely inside. She unlocked the door and then pulled it open, stepping inside. She summoned a clear glass plate and set her donut on the passenger seat. She placed her hands on the steering wheel and stared into the middle distance for a moment. Then she let her head fall onto the steering wheel.

”Fuuuuuccckkk…”
She exhaled. What a disaster! That was literally the worst. How stupid could she be!? Showing up a stranger’s house at 7 AM!? She was lucky Jamie didn’t call the cops! What a psycho! She headbutted the steering wheel a couple times and then sat back in the driver’s seat. Hoping she didn’t screw things up too badly, the electric engine of her rental car whirred to life and she scurried away, onto her next destination.


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Rabidporcupine Depression Tree.

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Joseph


@KaijuBaragon


It’d been a while since he’d last had to go through the experience, but Joseph was quickly remembering how little he liked hospitals.

“Mr Moore, please answer truthfully this time. Have you hidden any more flasks around this room?”

“No,” he sighed at the nurses question, “that was the last one. I am now officially out of ways to pass the time, thank you.”

“Moore, you do understand the condition you were in when you were found, don’t you?” The nurse asked, audibly straining to try and remain calm. “Even though you’re stable now, your body is still quite weak, to the point where the amount you drink normally may very well kill you.”

“You’re keeping me stuck in this bloody bed for at least three more days. I’d rather just take the liquor and die happy.” He replied, not putting nearly as much effort into not sounding petty as she had.

Apparently realising how low the odds of getting through to him were, the nurse simply shook her head with a sigh of her own and left, leaving Joseph to lie back and let out another sigh.

How the hell was he going to sneak out of this room?

Meanwhile, Tom was heading up the hospital corridor on his way to Joseph’s room. He hadn’t gotten off too badly from the whole experience, just a couple of burns that, while painful, weren’t going to do any long lasting damage. He also had some general bruises and bumps that the doctors wanted to take a look at, so he had to stay in the hospital for an extra day or so, while Grace got to be discharged pretty quickly, having been mostly safely tucked away in the safety gel in the plane.

As he got closer to Joseph’s room, he saw an angry looked nurse come out before walking in the other direction. Wondering what had happened, he cautiously walked over to Joseph’s door, knocking on it a few times, saying ”Hey, Joseph? It’s Tom.” He didn’t wait for a reply before opening the door to the room and peering inside.

Joseph’s eyes widened briefly as he heard the unexpected voice.

“Who?” He asked, turning to see Tom as he entered. “Oh, Tim. I’ll admit, not exactly the first person I’d expect, but at this point I’ll take just about anyone if it means a few seconds of something other than staring out the window to try to entertain myself.”

He paused for a second.

“By the way, and keep in mind I’ve been unconscious for the last day and a half-ish when I ask this, I’m gonna guess from the fact you were allowed in here that you’re not actually a traitor, right?”

Tom rolled his eyes as Joseph immediately started acting depressed about being stuck in the hospital room bored. ”Why don’t you ask for like, a book or a magazine or something… Do you not have a phone?” Tom asked, before probably wasn’t the best question to ask and instead pushed on instead with answering Joseph’s question.

[color=SteelBlue]”No, of course I’m not a traitor, that was just a ruse so I could get close to the Wings without them suspecting me or anything. Not like it lasted very long, thank god for Christina…” He said, shaking his head. ”Look, you can’t just sit here alone being sad the whole time.”

“Well, I had a phone, but… well...” Joseph nodded his head to a nearby bench, where a small plastic bag of smashed machinery had been placed. “Apparently pockets don’t provide much protection against getting clubbed. Who could’ve guessed? And for books and magazines…”

He paused again, wondering if he should continue, before finally sighing.

“I can’t really read very well. Not without my contacts.” He looked back to Tom, and if he hadn’t noticed before, it was now a lot more obvious that instead of their usual dark brown, Joseph’s eyes were now a light green. “And because they don’t want me ‘straining me eyes’, they aren’t giving them back ‘til tomorrow.”

He nodded at Tom’s explanation, a small grin growing on his face.

“Well, first of all, let me just say ‘called it’. And second, I actually agree completely! If you can find some crutches or something, I might even have something in mind.”

”Oh, yeah, well I can see how that phone isn’t gonna be much fun at the moment.” Tom said, glancing over at the plastic bag which once held Joseph’s phone. As he did, his eyes were drawn over Joseph’s face.... Were Joseph’s eyes always green? Tom obviously never paid much attention to them, but he was pretty sure they looked different. Whatever. He would ask him about it at some point down the line, maybe.

”Well, it wasn’t too hard to call, surely none of you thought that I would actually betray you all just like that.” He rolled his eyes, before cocking his head a little at Joseph’s suggestion. ”Crutches, huh? I can probably find you some.” He knew that he probably shouldn’t, but he was so bored being in this hospital, just hanging around waiting for people to visit him, he needed some entertainment.

He quickly backed out of the room and headed down the hallway for a little while, until he found a door that was labelled as a supply closet. He inconspicuously slipped inside, and presto, there were a bunch of crutches just lying there against the wall waiting for people to do something fun with them… And like, serious medical stuff too of course. He grabbed a pair and headed back out.

Soon he had cracked open the door to Joseph’s room again and headed inside, bringing the crutches over next to him. ”Here you go, crutches. Now what are we gonna do?” He asked.

“Well, if all goes well, this should be pretty simple.” Joseph started, wincing as he stepped out of the hospital bed, almost stumbling over. Turns out the staff might’ve had a point when they said he shouldn’t be walking yet. Still, the crutches helped, and after taking a few moments to adjust to the soreness, he felt good enough to get moving.

“Ok, considering my shins haven’t folded in half yet, I think we’re probably good to get started.” He said, nodding in satisfaction. “So yeah, here’s the deal. I’ve got someone I’ve been meaning to see in here myself, but I’ve been putting it off for a while because… stuff, I guess. But I’m stuck here now, so at this point, I might as well just suck it up and go. However, the staff here have made it pretty clear that I’m supposed to stay in bed at his point, with nothing to do but yearn for death.”

“And that’s where you come in.”
He said, nodding towards Tom. “I need you to help me sneak around the poorly disguised prison guards they call nurses here. That and fill me in on just what the hell has been going on over the last couple of days, because so far all I’ve gotten is ‘Jamie and Powers are both still alive.’ Other than that, I know pretty much nothing.”

Tom nodded. ”Alright, sounds good, I’ll help you go over and talk to this mysterious person. They better be fun to be around.” Tom added, walking over and standing near Joseph as he started to walk a little, just there to catch him in case he toppled over. But, luckily that didn’t happen, so Tom stepped back a little bit as Joseph started talking about Tom’s role in all this.

”So I’m just here to make you look like you’re not out of place walking around to find this person? Fair enough, I suppose.” Tom looked around the room. Hanging behind the door was a white doctor’s coat. Tom grabbed it and slipped it on, now feeling suitably disguised as he cracked the door open and peered out. ”Alright, I don’t see any nurses, c’mon…” He gestured for Joseph to come.

When the two had stepped outside, he started filling Joseph in. ”Well, Seraph is probably dead, Mr. Impressive and Sea Serpent are in prison. Blake is currently being psychologically deprogrammed… He got brainwashed. Oh, and uh… I’m dating Grace now, which is cool.” He said. He decided not to tell Joseph about Brie being transferred to California, at least not yet.

“Full disclosure, pretty sure she won’t be.” Joseph said in response to Tom’s ‘fun to be around’ comment. “She wasn’t especially talkative last time I visited, and I’d’ve heard if something changed.”

He listened to Tom speak as he hobbled along, nodding occasionally. A hint of sadness passed through his expression at the mention of Seraph dying, but it was gone so quickly that it was unlikely anyone would have realised what it was unless they were looking for it.

“Oh, well… cool. I mean, more like ‘finally’, you know? I honestly thought you were going out already, so the reveal is more just meh than anything. Congratulations though.”

Somehow, the path to their destination was clear of staff for the most part. A few nurses at the far ends of the halls, but nobody ever got close enough to really question them, which was good. Tom seemed so confident that the doctor's coat he’d stolen would be enough to disguise him, despite being an easily recognizable celebrity, so he’d have almost felt a little bad if a doctor had found them. He wasn’t even covering his face! On the other hand though, it wasn’t a big enough deal for Joseph to actually call out himself. Ruining Tom’s fun might drive him away, leaving Joseph as easy pickings for a swarm of angry medical staff.

Thankfully though, they made it to the room before that conversation ever had to come up. It was strange though. Before he’d been eager to do this, but now that he was actually here, he couldn’t help but feel nervous. Like he should just leave. His hand hung there, half stretched towards the door, and he wasn’t sure whether he was surprised or not to see that it was actually lightly trembling. Hopefully Tom wouldn’t notice, or if he did he’d just chalk it up to his body still being weak. Then again, he was going in with Joseph, so any point to hiding it would be gone soon anyway.

He turned to Tom.

“Before we go in there, I need you to promise not to talk about this. Nothing you hear comes out of this room, yeah?”

Tom crossed his arms at Joseph’s reaction to him saying he was now going out with Grace - although he supposed it was probably fair. ”Well… Yeah, I guess that’s fair, we probably should have started dating a while ago anyway.” And then he considered what Joseph said about the person that they were going to meet. ”She can’t be that bad, anyone is better than the same 3 or 4 nurses who keep harassing me in my room, I’m not even really injured!” He said.

Tom didn’t really expect his costume to work, considering it wasn’t really a costume at all, but as the pair made their way down the hospital corridor, it seemed like they were in the clear. Weather that was because of the disguise, or the fact that people in a hospital were too busy with more important things to care, was up for discussion. It didn’t really feel like long before they reached Joseph’s destination, a hospital door just like any other.

Tom crossed his arms and waited for Joseph to open the door so he could finally see who this mysterious person was. But it looked like Joseph was hesitating, at least a little. What was he doing? Was he just being slow because of his injury, or was there something else to it? And then, before Tom could say something about it, Joseph turned to him and asked him to not let anyone else know about what happened. Tom raised an eyebrow, but nodded anyway. ”Uh, yeah, sure. I won’t tell anyone, don’t worry.”

Joseph continued to stare at Tom for a moment, looking for any sign that he might be lying. In the end though, he realised that the gravity user just wasn’t thinking that deeply about it, and sighed.

“Alright. Let’s go.” He said, finally opening the door.

A young woman lay in the bed, hooked up to a number of life support machines. An oxygen mask was attached to her face. She was unconscious, just like she’d been the last time Joseph saw her. He slowly hobbled into the room, sitting in a chair that had already been set up not far from the bed.

“Hey El, it’s Jeremy.” He said, putting on a happier tone than usual. “Sorry it’s been so long since my last visit, some stuff came up. I… well, I joined HERO, just like I said I would last time. That’s been pretty interesting. I even brought one along! This guy is Tim, but his made up name for the news and stuff is Skywalker. There are a bunch more like him, it’s practically a whole team! Idiots, the lot of them, but not like we were any different, right? If I’m being honest, I can’t stop noticing things that remind me of us while I’m with them. It’s legitimately just like back then, but bigger, and… and I...”

He couldn’t do it.

“I don’t know what I’m doing anymore...”

It was as if his entire positive demeanor evaporated instantly, the happy facade falling away as he leaned forwards in the chair, his hands in his lap seemingly the only thing keeping him up.

“I mean, I thought this would be good, you know? I’d be a d-tier hero, help out where I can, and still be able to keep a low profile while I do it, but I-… I messed up again El. We got in a fight with someone strong. Too strong. I tried to fight him with the others but… I couldn’t do anything. Everything I tried, the guy just shrugged it off, and I was so sure that it was going to end with all of us dying, all because I couldn’t hold him off long enough, so I-...”

He hesitated for a moment, his hands clenching in frustration.

“I used Failnaught... I know it was stupid, but… I didn’t know what else to do. It was the only way I could think of to get out of there, but if they find out, if Louis finds out, I’ve fucked us all anyway, haven’t I?”

He let out a short, humorless chuckle, as he forced a weak smile back onto his face.

“Sorry about that. First visit in over two years and I start venting at you? Nobody wants that. Besides, you’ve got your own problems to deal with, I can’t be pushing all my issues onto you too...”

He turned to look at Tom.

“Tom, you got anything you wanna say, or should we get going?”

As soon as Tom followed Joseph into the room, he knew instantly that this visit wasn’t going to be anything fun. The girl lying on the bed was not at all in a good state - in fact, the amount of life support equipment that surrounded her made it look like she was in some kind of coma, or something like that. Whatever it was, it was immediately clear to Tom that this visit was of a highly sensitive nature.

When Joseph introduced him to the unconscious girl, Tom gave a meek and awkward wave, feeling that he should do something, even though he knew that she obviously wasn’t able to see or hear either of them. And then Joseph… Wait, did Joseph just call himself Jeremy? That was weird. Maybe Jeremy was his middle name or something, and this El person just knew him by that. Then it dawned on Tom that he didn’t really know anything at all about Joseph before he joined HERO. He knew general things from the lives of everyone else… But not Joseph.

And then Joseph seemed to lose the semi-joking vibe in an instant, pouring his heart out to the unconscious girl. Tom had the intense feeling that this was something that he really shouldn’t be listening to, something super personal. But he nevertheless remained rooted to the spot, watching on. Who was Louis? What the hell was the Failnaught? And then the rant was over.

Tom gulped a little as Joseph looked at him. ”Well… Uh, I don’t wanna say anything to her, because I don’t know her, and she’s, you know, unconscious… But to you, I think you’re being hard on yourself. From what I heard you did a solid job, and Jamie might not be alive if it weren’t for you. But yeah, let’s get going.”

“All I did was basic first aid, and it wouldn’t have even mattered if that guy had gotten bored of beating me to death before the others got there.” Joseph said. “Actually, I’m pretty sure the paramedics made it before Jamie would’ve died even without the runes, so in the end all I did was put her through unnecessary pain to apply them.”

He winced slightly as he stood up, ignoring the aches as he got set up with his crutches once again.

“But it doesn’t matter now. Can’t change what’s already happened. Let’s go.”

He hobbled over to the door, looking back into the room before he left.

“See ya El, I’ll try to come back sooner next time.”

And then he was out, looking over to Tom as he walked.

“Ok, now that that’s out of the way, we can move on to the next task. I don’t have the map on me, but I’ve got a bunch of flasks stashed around in the indoor plants here. I’m gonna need a good few of them to replace the ones the nurses stole from me.”

As he described the next plan to Tom, a man with a striking resemblance to the woman they’d just visited passed them in the corridor, heading towards her room. Before he entered the room, he turned back to glance at Joseph and Tom, and Joseph ignored it as if he didn’t even notice. After a few more moments, the man turned back and entered the room, leaving the two to their dumb plans.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Hitman
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Hitman Loosey Goosey

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Chapter IV



12:30 PM
August 31st, 2033
Sunset Superhero Resort
St. Florian, U.S. Virgin Islands


The island of St. Florian was one of the smaller islands of the USVI, located due east of Puerto Rico in the middle of the Caribbean. It was a stunning sight, the pinnacle of natural beauty, with a luscious landscape covered in palm trees galore, surrounded by a sparkling emerald bay. The sun was shining and the temperature was hot but not too overwhelming. It was, frankly, perfect. Despite its incredible beauty, St. Florian was a small island, and much of its resplendent natural glory was reserved to the Sunset Superhero Resort. The resort was the first and largest superhero-exclusive resort spa, and it makes a killing catering towards the needs of the world's superheroes. The resort is the premier hotspot for all superheroes seeking a relaxing vacation, and finding a reservation is difficult. Many of the world's hero agencies have the resort's limited spaces booked all around the year, leaving very limited spaces open at any given time. HERO had never before booked the resort for its own heroes, but after a disastrous summer that included a titanic coup and an endless multitude of certifiably insane supervillains seeking world domination or mass destruction, Director Hugo Powers had decided to take the initiative to book as many spots as the resort had available at the end of August.

Unfortunately, there weren't enough spaces for everybody involved in the massive coup d'etat to go to the resort, so Powers had simply chosen a group of people at random and told them to get ready to head down to the Caribbean. He had, however, given the stragglers a week of paid vacation and reservations to a nice restaurant in Castleburg. It was the best he could do. Sometimes, life wasn't fair, after all.

Those that had been lucky (or unlucky?) enough to go were flown down to the island in a large seaplane. The plane landed on the water, the rippling water splashing along the sides of the plane as it pulled up alongside the dock. The doors to the plane opened, a ramp out of the vehicle sliding out. Director Hugo Powers stepped out of the plane first, a large duffel bag in his hands. He was looking abnormally comfortable, wearing a Hawaiian t-shirt and board shorts, with flip-flops on his feet, a pair of sunglasses tucked into his shirt. Standing at the ready on the dock was a gorgeous Caribbean woman with dark skin and bleach-blonde hair tied into a ponytail. She was wearing a turquoise bikini and a wrap skirt, with a pair of sleek sunglasses perched on her nose. She smiled warmly at the group. "Hello, hello! Welcome to Sunset Superhero Resort. If I'm not mistaken, you guys are from HERO, which means you must be Director Powers." She extended a hand to Powers, who shook it. "My name is Naomi Lewis, and I am the coordinator here at Sunset. On behalf of all the staff here, I'd like to welcome you to our esteemed resort."

Powers nodded. Despite wearing casual vacation clothes, he looked as formal as ever. ”A pleasure to meet you as well, Mrs. Lewis. Thank you for your hospitable reception. If you could direct us to our lodgings as soon as possible, that would be excellent.” He held up his bag. ”We do have quite a bit of luggage to put down, and the sooner we can exit the preliminary unpacking phase and commence the enjoyment of the Caribbean air, the better.”

Naomi chuckled, gesturing towards her with her hand. "Of course. Follow me." The woman walked down the dock towards the gorgeous resort, which had done an excellent job of preserving nature. There was no giant tower or massive building present, but instead, the resort was composed of a line of small, separated villas that wrapped around the shoreline of the island. Several tropical-looking buildings stood inland, between the tropical bushes, palm trees, and sand dunes. Naomi guided them towards the lobby, a lovely building with glass walls and a bonnet roof, supported by wooden pillars. The interior of the reception area was decorated with all manner of ocean-related items, including old anchors, bottled ships, and most impressively, a number of taxidermized fishes. Naomi said something in some foreign language to the lady working at the desk, before smiling and turning back to the group. She had grabbed a tray from the desk, and on the tray were a collection of manila envelopes. "All of your villas are ready for you to go. Your keys are inside these here envelopes, along with our brochure that details the services we provide here at Sunset, along with our room service menu. Our staff has put you with the individuals you have requested to stay with, if any. I do hope you enjoy your stay. If you have any questions, concerns, or requests, please feel free to call me. I wrote my phone number on the back of each brochure. Have fun, and thank you for staying at Sunset."

”Thank you again, Ms. Lewis.” Powers took his envelope. "Before you all go, I have reserved a late dinner at the Solaris, which is the resort's five-star restaurant. If you could join me there at 8:00 PM, that would be excellent. Until then, make sure you enjoy yourselves.” Powers looked towards Pandora. ”Pandora, if you could join me for a quick outing of croquet. There are a couple of matters I would like to discuss with you individually, and croquet is a phenomenal activity to engage in during a discussion. I'll see you there at 1300 hours.” With that, Powers took his envelope and trudged off towards the boardwalk.

Grace, who was quietly observing the beauty of the island and her surroundings, stepped forwards and snatched the envelope with her name scribbled on it. She stepped back, ripping open the top of the envelope and reaching inside. "Tom, we're in the Mahi-Mahi Hutt," Grace said, dangling the keys in her hand, which was a thick wooden cutout of a mahi-mahi attached to a jingling set of golden keys. She was wearing a white linen shirt with her sleeves rolled up and shorts, a straw sun hat on her head, and pink-lense sunglasses perched on her nose. She held a purple carry-on luggage bag in her other hand. "Let's go, hon." She walked off, rolling her bag behind her as she made her way out of the building, walking around the boardwalk slowly, until she found the building they were looking for. It was a decently-sized wooden bungalow with a thatched roof that was perched on wooden pillars, situating it right above the water. Grace rolled her bag up to the front door, inserting the key inside, before swinging it open. The inside of the villa was as impressive as one might expect, sea-green wallpaper covering the interiors of the building. There was a nice-sized den with a comfortable-looking couch and a giant, wall-mounted flat-screen TV, along with a comfortably spacious bedroom, bathroom, and a beautiful view of the water from the several sliding-glass doors.

Grace rolled her bag to the wall, removing the glossy brochure from the envelope and skimming it quickly. "So many spa treatments and massages...some of them I haven't even heard of before. Woah." She leafed through a couple of pages. "Ooh, they have a natural hot spring here. We should totally do that. Ooh, but I would like to do a deep-tissue massage...there's just so much stuff to do here!" Grace exclaimed excitedly. "What about a hot stone massage? I don't think I've ever had one before...does that sound alright?" Grace asked, scribbling down a rough itinerary on the resort notepad she had found on a desk. "Then we can probably come back here, or get lunch together..." Grace made a few more notes on her pad. "If we can get an appointment by 1, we can probably get a couple of treatments in, get lunch, and still have plenty of time to come back here...and maybe snuggle or something," Grace squeaked out, a small tinge of a blush coming onto her face as she laid her the notepad on the desk. "What do you think, Tom?"




August 31st, 2033
HERO One
Savior's Island, Castleburg


"Well, my day off didn't last very long at all, did it..."

Blake reluctantly trudged into HERO One's 4th-floor conference room. He looked like he had just woken up, which was because that was the case. Blake had been notified the week before that while had had not won a free vacation to the Caribbean, he would at least get a week off from work to do whatever he wanted, and so Blake had planned to do a lot of extra sleeping. Unfortunately, on the first day of his day off, in the middle of his nice long nap, Blake had been rudely awakened by a loud beeping sound from his phone. Apparently, he had been summoned to an emergency meeting at HERO One that he had to get to, ASAP.

Life is cruel.

Blake plopped down in an armchair, running a hand through his scarlet hair as he looked around the room to see who was there. It was composed mostly of the people that he thought would be there. Patato, Rumi, Eliza, Angiedoodles, the other usual suspects, but also a few other individuals that Blake had expected less, such as that cop guy that had hounded his July 4th party, and that new guy Max, along with a few other people that Blake didn't quite recognize, including a dark-skinned girl with curly black hair and a gangster-y looking one with short blonde hair. The last to enter the room was Christina, who was, contrary to her normal garb, wearing a black pantsuit and a golden necklace. She was holding a large pile of manila folders in her hand, which she distributed to those sitting at the round table. She also gave everybody a single peppermint. "Sorry to interrupt your vacation, everybody, but we have an important emergency that does require a briefing. Listen up. This is some serious stuff we're about to delve into."

Christina strode up to the head of the table, removing a clicker from her pocket and pressing down on it. An incredibly realistic, 3D, color holographic image of a mysterious person shimmered into existence on the middle of the oval conference table. The man was wearing a black uniform, like military attire, with golden highlights. He was wearing a German spiked pickelhaube on his head, and a black-and-gold ornate mask, almost like an ancient funeral mask, covered his face. Christina spoke. "This is an image of the Black Baron. He was a prolific superhero hunter in the 1990s in Castleburg, working for a group called the Castleburg North Club, a criminal organization and radical group that believes superhumans are poison. At his peak activity, he would hunt down and either abduct or kill multiple heroes per day. It is our belief that he has returned to Castleburg."

Christina clicked again, the hologram morphing into a graph. "Here's a graph of yearly murders and abductions associated with the Black Baron. As you can say, in 1993 he started out with a minimal number, before increasing every year until his peak in 1997. Then, he only picks up a couple in early 1998 before vanishing off the face of the Earth, and he's been out of commission for nearly 35 years now. We had listed him in HERO archives as "MIA/Dead," and we were never able to uncover who he was." Christina pressed her button again, the hologram morphing into a piece of paper. "All we know about the Black Baron was his general appearance and his modus operandi. He- or maybe she- loved poems. A lot. By the time he was reaching his height of terror, he would always leave a poem written in ink on an old piece of parchment somewhere near the scene of the abduction or murder, usually pinned to a wall or nearby object with a knife. In the early hours of this morning, we found Tree-Man and The Whistler murdered in their apartments, each with a poem pinned with a knife to the wall. One was John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian urn," and the other we believe to be written by the Baron himself. We've collected them both for evidence, but the Baron has never left any identifying evidence before, and we don't expect him to do so again."

The hologram changed once more into a cage, with a mini Black Baron inside of it. "Even though the Black Baron is likely a senior now, he is still extremely dangerous and must be stopped at all costs, ASAP. I know Director Powers would've liked to have taken this case personally- considering that the Black Baron was one of his cases back when he was still a regular superhero- but we'll have to act quickly without him. I'll be calling him from the Caribbean frequently to ask for his advice. Still, if a bunch of sweaty old men couldn't capture the Black Baron, I think a lady's touch might be in order," Christina said with a smirk, before pressing her button again to turn off the hologram. "Anyway, I've managed to create a plan to take the Black Baron down. As it happens, one of our undercover moles, Falseman, has informed us of a major meeting of several criminal elements in Castleburg. A big gathering of the head honchos of Castleburg's crime syndicates. The Wah Ching, Koshiki Devils, Brookside Bruisers, Bratva, what's left of the Guglianos, they'll all be in attendance. In all likelihood, the North Club will show up too. They're elusive, but they are still stupid," Christina said with a mischievous smile. "So, pretty much, you guys are going undercover to infiltrate a top-secret criminal gathering to locate a master murderer and help bring about the downfall of a powerful criminal entity. Sound familiar?" Christina laughed.

"Anyways, you guys are going to need to think up some cover identities. I put a Dungeons and Dragons character-creation sheet in your briefing to help you get your creative juices flowing. You guys have access to the HERO armory, too, so take what you need. Also, the entire party is being hosted by the local Irish mob, the Mad Rabbits, who are throwing the whole fiesta on their restored river boat. So, you guys get to go on a cruise!" Christina smiled widely. "See? You get a vacation after all!"

"A vacation surrounded by people that would kill me if they knew who I really was," Blake said with a roll of the eyes. "Can I go back to bed yet?"

"If you fall asleep, you're fired. This is a sensitive operation."

Blake sighed, opening the folder. "And I thought Powers was the mean one..." Blake mumbled as he looked at the sheets. "I bet I could pull off a pretty good Irish, though. Top of the morning to ya, laddies! What do you think, guys? Irish mobster Blake O'Brandt?"

Christina smiled. "See? This may be a matter of life or death for many people, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun! Right, gang?"

Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Inertia
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Inertia Pretty Lackadaisical

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Location: Home -> Savior's Island




The past three weeks or so have been interesting, to say the least. The happiest news was that his sister's transfer to HERO's state-of-the-art hospital. It was definitely impressive and tricked out. Max's sister, Juliette, got a bigger and private room, which was great but made her feel lonely at times. She was more excited and peppier whenever Max visited. The doctors and nurses who attended her definitely felt more experienced; they even seemed glad they had a relatively normal girl to look after instead of the wave of super-powered individuals who had a deluge of unique and different injuries whenever they checked in.

After the coup attempt by EAGLES there was alot of cleaning up to do in regards to the criminals who tried to take advantage of the disarray of HERO. Max didn't have full information but it seemed that the smarter criminals laid low during this time. Only the two bit criminals stayed and got demolished by HERO's agents. Max's past few weeks have been relatively tame aswell, having only had to deal with low-level crime and a few, weaker, power individuals. One thing Max would never get used to is the ride to Savior's Island. Juliette even asked him tales of his exploits but he really didn't have much to tell other than his scrape with an A- Hero, Blake. She got pouty when told the reason why and formed a somewhat bad opinion of the fire hero despite Max telling her it was alright.

Max also hasn't really conversed with the other HERO agents. He was invited to C.R.E.W and had unofficially joined but it seemed everyone was too busy due to the coup. It made sense to him, he couldn't imagine how taxing it would've been. HERO definitely has had a hard year and when he wasn't surprised when he heard they were going for a vacation. It was good that Blake stayed back as Max still feels like he hasn't really gotten the hang of this whole superhero business.

Another thing he's noticed is that most of the heroes had pretty dope looking costumes while he's stood there with his beat-up hoodie stopping petty crime. Max really had no mind for building an image or reputation like the other heroes. The initial awe of his being declared as an A- hero was a surprise that lasted all but a week. 'Windsong' definitely wasn't a household name. The push to make him something more came from his sister, but he wouldn't have really minded being a nameless B or C class. Hell he was even surprised he got into A class.

The salary Max got from HERO was pretty substantial. He still lived the same and opened up a separate bank account for his sister and funneled the extra money he got in there for her future. Living lavishly versus saving for his sister's future was a no-brainer to him.




Max could never get used to the ride to Savior's island. He didn't think he would get that nauseous. He asked to be led by one of the staff to the conference room since he still wasn't used to the layout. It seemed that he arrived way earlier than everyone else. He couldn't really leave or anything and just plopped down and awkwardly waited. Soon the room would begin filling up with people he didn't know. The only familiar face was Blake who he gave a nod when their eyes met.

The meeting started as soon as Christina, who he was introduced to by Blake, entered the room. Every eyes looked up at her. He listened closely to the meeting but he really had nothing to say. All of this was new to him; so he took time to take it all in. He flicked through the file handed to him and commited the face to memory. He would continue listening to the meeting. His ears, however, pricked at the mention of Brookside Bruisers. Uh-oh, I hope they don't hold grudges, surely gangs were the reasonable sort, right? Max thought sardonically. He hoped he wouldn't blow their covers by being recognized by Steel George... was it Bronze George?

The Black Baron was bad news, killing supers for a superfluous reasons like thinking they were 'poison' was something that didn't gel with Max. Supers were still human and it made his stomach turn thinking they died just because of luck of the draw. It was sickening. He snapped himself out of his stupor when the meeting came to an end.

Max waited for Blake to finish joking around with Christina and the meeting to be adjourned before approaching him. He honestly would likely just follow his lead. Sure Max had good control over his power, control didn't make up for the lack of experience in the field, however. He hoped that following Blake would circumvent that.

"Hey Blake," Max greeted the redhead casually, "Lead me to that armoury, will ya? This whole place is like a labyrinth to me." He recalled looking for a toilet and ending up in some R&D room somehow. Since then he's always asked someone in the building to lead him to where he needs to go.

"I also might need help with this D&D sheet thing, I've never heard of it." Max continued and waved the sheet; not entirely certain if Christina was joking or not.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey Large Fry Enjoyer

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This place was gaudy. It absolutely reeked of a disgusting kind of luxury. However, that wasn't going to stop Pandora from engaging in it. She didn't care nearly enough to do that.

Pandora's athletic body was on full display. She wore an orange bikini and a high slit, open fronted, thick floral pattern skirt, and nothing else except for a large pair of dark sunglasses. That had her been her outfit on the entire way over here and would probably be her outfit the entire way back.

Pandora glanced around at the others, checking out their vacation wear as well. Fashion was something that had managed to keep her interest. It was always changing, and decorating the human body was an under-appreciated art form. So many people just slapped on whatever and thought themselves better for it, sniping at those who actually bothered to put effort into how they looked. How dull.

She found herself amused by Powers' orderly personality being maintained even while in vacation mode. Speaking of Powers, Pandora had wondered why she was invited along on this vacation.

(I certainly didn't need a vacation from all the retiring I was doing.) She thought to herself.

Her thoughts were dispersed as Powers asked her for a quick croquet outing. Pandora looked him up and down from over her sunglasses. "Right..." She said, watching him walk off. A meeting at 1300 hours, or about thirty minutes from now.

Well. She would see what that was about. What the hell else was she going to do? Spend quality time with martini-drinking teenagers? Pass. Pandora plainly gave the group a once over and then silently wandered off with nary a goodbye.

The british woman silently waited at the beginning of the croquet course, staring off into the middle distance as she leaned against a wall. Thirty minutes passed and she barely even registered it. When she noticed Powers approach she crossed her arms.

She spoke first. Her voice was quiet, but clear. "Croquet. I remember when people first started playing it in England, back in the sixties. These days it seems to be only associated with resorts and luxury, but when it first started out it was a common man's game. Us 'important folk' played croquet while discussing our plans for imperial expansion. Ever decide the fate of a thousand families based on a single whack of a wooden mallet?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. "Exhilarating stuff." Her voice dripped with bitter sarcasm.

"The point here is this: If you're looking for advice, you may want to reconsider your source. I'm sure one of your many plucky twenty-somethings could provide you with better counsel. She stood up straight, resting a light mallet on her bare shoulder.

"With that out of the way, I'm always up for a chat." She said, in a way that seemed completely serious but was definitely untrue. Perhaps I assumed too much, and you simply invited me out here because of my winning personality."
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by DarkRecon
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DarkRecon The sword that smites evil

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Alpha


Alpha had taken his own chair in the meeting room as he listened in on what the emergency was.

And it was, indeed, an emergency. Two heroes KIA and the person ID'ed as a old enemy to Hugo Powers it seemed. More important, he recognized the name that is Black Baron. As Miss Lavender said, he believed that super powers were a poison but by the end of the day, he was just another villain.

No...that wasn't right. He or she was perhaps something worse.

A hero killer.

Even back in his training days and even his run with the "secret" government team, he knew how bad this individual was. Weird poems aside, Black Baron was a high threat. Tier S threat as far as he was concerned. Baron didn't care about the lives lost. If the target had a power, said target was on borrowed time. It was because of individuals like this that the US government wanted their own team in case they had to personally respond to such threats quicker than any other organization.

Of course, ICOSA would never have any of it at the time...

Putting those thoughts aside, Alpha then raised his hand briefly then spoke monotone about something else he had to ask.

"...all due respect Ma'am, this isn't going to be fun...I won't mince words everyone...even in my early training days, I've heard stories about...many dangerous individuals...Black Baron is among them...simply put...a hero killer...he says super powers are a poison but far as I heard, he only targets hero's and possibly works with villains...you can add hypocrite to his dossier..."

He then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He felt that he most likely scared everyone in the entire room with such a statement.

That's when he spoke in a normal tone, perhaps surprising those that knew him to be strict or stiff.

"Sorry everyone. What I mean is that we have to be extra careful on this one. This isn't going to be some random showdown. This is undercover ops. Much more sensitive work. Which leads me to ask some things. First off, Black Baron's known abilities. Is the target super powered or not?"

He then asked this from everyone in the room.

"Now to all of you. I apologize if this sounds rude and over stepping my rank but based on what Commander Lavender said, most of the known gangs in Castleburg are going to be there so...if there's any "dirty laundry" or some history you may have with any of them, now's the time to say so before it rears it's ugly head. I'm concerned as well since when I work with...I mean...when I USED to be "K Nine" of C.P.D., I've done patrols and it's possible that thugs may know me by face so as to avoid me. The last thing we need is one person being called out and we all pay for it."
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Jumbus My life be like oooooh-aaaah ooooh-aaaah

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Yui was nervous. She was called in for a meeting in HERO One and she had to pretend as if she has been here before. The tower was a winding vertical maze without a person she could call to help find directions. Yui's best shot at navigating the building was the occasional map and room markers. She eventually found the meeting room, but had arrived late. Yui quietly took a seat near the back and leaned back on it, trying to give off a look of experience. But that was far from the case. Yui was nervous. Without the ability to smoke in HERO One, she resorted to twirling a dagger continuously around her hand under the desk. Smoking was a bad habit anyway.

The twirl of the dagger grew gradually faster as the meeting went along. Her first mission could not have been worse for her. An undercover mission into a gang meet up seemed like a nightmare. And for what? Some geriatric hero hunter. He probably doesn't have much left in him until his hips give out anyway. But a mission is a mission, she wasn't about to screw up this gig now with some petty fears. Besides, outright rejecting a mission like this would be a bad look.

The Black Baron was something else though. While the man was before her time, she sure as hell heard of him while she was in the Devils. As far as anyone knew, he was did not have any powers. Well it would just be assumed, it would be mighty hypocritical from him to go around taking care of poison with poison. But for an unpowered person to take down that many heroes and even give Powers a run for his money? Yeah you could say he was a legend. Any nobody goon off the street could hear the tale and think they could be the next Black Baron. The motives for his attacks never came up to much in the stories, so it was easy to place yourself in the shoes and think you could do the same. Still, Yui was surprised to hear that he was back after 35 years. The boogeyman walks again, or was he?

Yui's brow furled ever so slightly at hearing Alpha's speech. Although she didn't know the guy and knew for a certainty he didn't know her past, she couldn't help but feel like it was directed toward her. "With all due respect Mr... Sorry I didn't catch your name. We all have some 'dirty laundry' with these people. I assume most of us has had a brush with them, and quite a few have put their guys away to Coldwater. Hell, some here even toppled the Guglianos." She tipped her head over to Blake's direction before continuing. "For one reason or another, I think we all have our faces on these peoples' radar. We just have to make our covers good."

Yui didn't recognize what this sheet was, but she saw the space to write a name up the top. The Koshiki Witch, she was going to use her old identity. She never really told the Devils she was leaving. Yui just disappeared without a trace. It would be easy enough to convince them that something else happened. Then for the other heroes, she can just convince them that her cover is really good. That's the only way she was going to get through all this without either side trying to get her.

"Besides how do we know it isn't just a copycat killer? Seems a lot more reasonable to me that some upstart is trying to fill the shoes of the Black Baron than some geezer trying to start up his youthful years again."


Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Duoya
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Duoya

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Lucky for Chad, neither Starbright nor the guard he was with noticed the inexperienced Hero's presence. They moved through the halls of the complex, Chad following as silently as possible for someone who could only hobble. It wasn't a long struggle for Chad, however - before long, the pair he had been tailing arrived at a dead end. Chad was initially confused, before seeing the guard level his gun at Starbright's head. Chad's mind took a few seconds to process what was happening, and he was too far away to hear anything very well. But if Chad was able to do anything well, it was move fast.

Chad ran towards the guard as fast as he could with his injury, vision and hearing dimming as his power intensified. Chad probably could have run a bit slower - but the situation really didn't let that thought cross his mind. As he ran, he misstepped, losing his grip on the wall - his injured foot landed on the ground, and the broken ankle once again reminded Chad it was there. Chad was able to react in time, however - while the misstep took him off his course towards the guard, Chad managed to throw his arm out in time, catching the guard in the skull as he fell. The blow on the guard made a disturbing whacking sound, similar to a baton. Chad didn't have time to worry too much, as he crashed into the floor from his run.

Chad pulled himself towards the wall, and located Starbright quickly - he appeared unharmed, so Chad must have not accidentally hit him while trying to save him. Totally intentional. Chad managed to stand by using the wall.

"You had to go and beat the guard up. I obviously had it under control. Honestly, it..."

Chad felt nervous as he looked at the guard - Chad didn't like using his power on normal people, and the guard effectively got hit by a high-speed Clothesline. He was still breathing, even if he was unconscious, but Chad was a recent high school dropout - he had no clue if the guard was internally bleeding or had any other injuries. If the situation was different, Chad probably wouldn't have hit as hard as he did...

"S-sorry Starbright, I was worried-"

Chad was cut off as Starbright pulled him in for a hug. Chad bit his lip slightly, being reminded of the burn on his back - he'd have to talk to ask the Shocker to apologize for that when this was all over.

"I'm just glad you're alive."

Chad returned the hug, cautious at first. It was a little weird, being so close to someone that you idolized from behind a screen for so long. It was nice though - Chad had been in more danger today than any other day in his life. Hell, he fell off a buidling. And despite the threat of death, Chad didn't really know if many people would care. Percy would, maybe Powers after he was found? Chad didn't really know most of the other heroes that well (or at all), and Pandora... Well, She didn't really seem like she'd lose any sleep if Chad died. And as for his parents...

It felt nice knowing that someone was happy Chad survived.

Eventually, Starbright broke the hug, turning to look over at Sea Serpent as he spoke.

"Oh, right, I probably shouldn't let her drop like that huh?"

He picked her up again and turned back to face Chad as he continued speaking.

"We have one more to take down, Seraph. He's at the top of this tower, we take him down and it will all start crumbling. If it isn't going down already, we need to hurry."

Chad nodded in agreement. Chad had seen some of the collateral damage that Heroes could cause, and while this building was fortified, Chad had no doubt that someone like Quake could bring it down if she wanted to. The sooner they found Powers and escaped, the better...

"You smashed it pretty hard in the fall then? Not to worry, I have three words for you, privatized HERO healthcare. I have the best medic in HERO on speed dial, he can patch that up good as new. We just... have to finish this first."

Chad looked down at his ankle as he continued after Starbright. Even with a boot and legging covering it, the damage was easy to see. Chad smile behind his mask - getting his leg healed would mean he wouldn't have to stop his training. Depending on how good Starbright's Healer was, maybe Chad would be able to get back to HERO work in a matter of days!

"I'm glad to hear that... Thanks, Starbright."

Chad's mind began to wander towards the others - Chad had gotten lucky being in the same minijet as Starbright since he was such a good pilot and took them to the top of the complex immediately. But the others might not have been so lucky - The minijet that saved Chad's life when he fell was abandoned other than a single guard, and the rumbling and shaking the building experienced was concerning, to say the least...

Chad tried to stop worrying about them. Grace could teleport, Pandora could just swim through the ground, and Quake was an S tier Hero. If things got bad, they would probably be fine. Besides, Chad had enough on his own plate right now - he glanced at the unconscious Sea Serpent, hoping she remained knocked out until they could reasonably restrain her. Chad had dropped Starbright's belt during the fall, otherwise he would have used that to at least bind her legs.

Not like that would have done much to stop her powers though. Chad was still soaking wet, so she wouldn't even need to look far for a water-

"Bullet, I'm not going to force you into this. I'm going up these stairs to confront Seraph and it may not turn out well. I'm giving you an out here, you can take it or you can stay. But that decision rests only on your shoulders alone."

Starbright broke Chad's train of thought - they were in front of the stairway to the next floor. Chad did his best to not be surprised at what Starbright had just said - Chad was being given a way out of the fight against Seraph. Normally, he'd probably leap on that opportunity - Chad didn't feel like he'd win against Seraph even if he wasn't injured. Seraph can freaking fly for God's sake. That alone pretty much made Chad worthless against him.

Chad followed close behind Starbright as they ascended the stairs, not bothering to respond to his statement. Running away wasn't an option this time around. Seraph killed dozens of people in Club 27, kidnapped Powers, framed Aria, and who knows what else. Even if Chad couldn't do anything to help, leaving just wasn't something he would do.

Besides - it wasn't like they were going to lose the fight. Starbright was here, he had Sea Serpent as a bargaining chip, and they were indoors - Seraph wouldn't be able to make much use of his flight because of that.

But Chad didn't think they were going to win for any of those reasons - no, the reason he thought they would win was that he didn't want to consider failing. Thinking about what you didn't want to happen meant it might be an option - so as long as Chad felt he and Starbright could win, they would!

Chad did his best to cling to this delusional belief as he limped up the stairs.



Seraph was drinking heavily from a dark bottle as they opened the door to confront him. Chad's eyes darted around the room as Starbright spoke, searching for anything that might give them an advantage - a weapon, or something to stop Seraph's wings. The opulent golden desk that Seraph stood at was too large and most likely too heavy to serve as a weapon, but maybe it could serve as cover from Seraph's feathers. Various paintings covered the walls, and while most of them were too large to make use of, there were a few plaques that Chad could throw. Potted plants? Too cumbersome.

Chad slowly lowered himself, kneeling down to pick up a sharp glass shard next to the door. Chad recognized it as soon as he saw it - broken wine glass. Nothing compared to Seraph's feathers, but it was sharp and might cause Seraph to start bleeding.

That was a lot better than punching Seraph. If Chad hit him too hard, Seraph might die from internal bleeding or something Chad couldn't recognize. At least with this, Chad could try and staunch Seraph's wounds when he was knocked unconscious-

"Yes...yes...yes....the POWER! I can feel it! The limitless power! It's...it's overwhelming! Yes! Yes! ARRRGH!”

Seraph was changing, dropping the bottle that he was drinking from as his flesh warped and bulged. His legs and torso seemed to elongate and pull themselves apart, and muscles began ballooning to monstrous proportions all across Seraph's body. His shirt burst as additional wings sprouted fully formed from his back, and his head almost seemed to warp and cave in on itself. His eyes bulged in their sockets from the pressure, and Chad feared that they might pop out of Seraph's skull and hang down near his cheek.

Chad immediately began questioning what the hell was happening - years of seeing Seraph on reality TV and other media have never prepared him for this. He had no reasonable explanation for this sudden change...

Suddenly, he remembered! Supernova! That was a drug that Supers could take to boost their powers! Chad shuddered as Seraph completed his transformation - it was no wonder his school told his Superpowered classmates to avoid the stuff, if this is what it caused.

”Now, let me unleash the power upon my enemies!”

Chad tightened his grip on the shard of glass, his mind racing to figure out what the hell he could do to stop this monster. Seraph threw his arms and wings out seemingly at random, swiping chairs and other pieces of furniture around the room with the same ease a toddler might throw a wooden block. But he was also clutching at his head and screaming...

As Seraph flailed around, he accidentally did something Chad had been fearing his entire time in this tower - he broke through a window. And while Seraph could usually fly, this monstrous form seemed too heavy for his wings to support himself.

”NOOO!”

Chad stared as Seraph fall into the ocean waves, water shooting up dozens of feet from where he crashed. Chad's grip on the glass shard loosened, and he let it fall limply to the floor - thanks to the window Seraph just broke, it joined the many other shards with a clinking sound. Was... Was that an Overdose?

Things turned out just like Chad expected - somehow, Seraph was even less difficult to fight than Sea Serpent. But despite winning against an A tier villain, Chad didn't feel very happy. If he had only been a little bit less lucky, if there wasn't something to break his fall only a few dozen minutes ago, Chad would be in the ocean alongside Seraph right now.

Luckily, they didn't need to kill Seraph directly. If Chad had to look directly at Seraph's body rather than the ocean, he probably would have been a bit more shaken than he already was.

"Oh... right, yes. I knew that was going to happen."

"Th... That's not a common thing... is it?"

If that was how most villains were taken care of, Chad felt it'd take a bit longer than expected to get used to the job. Starbright placed Sea Serpent down on an area of the floor that was relatively free of debris and glass from the short fight, before moving alongside Chad.

"This though, this just won't do. We can't have Seraph just die from going ghoul. Wheres the drama in that? Wheres the pizazz? There is no value in any of this."

"Lesson 2 Bullet, this ones important. Do you know the value of a story? What happened today will be remembered in history. We can't have it ruined by, well this." He gestured over to the hole. "Looking like a hero can be just as important as being one. Think about this, what criminal is going to want to fight the two who destroyed that monster in seconds? No conflict, no casualties, no collateral damage."

"You and I are the only ones who saw what happened here. We did this. We pulled out and new, never before seen, combo that finished Seraph in seconds. Who in their right mind would go up against something like that? ...I won't go through with saying that if you aren't on board with it. But if you do, I think there's going to be a big future for you coming up."

Chad turned away from Starbright when he finished speaking, gazing back at the large hole that Seraph had left in the wake of his rampage. Lying wasn't really a good thing to do - especially not for something this big and important. And not just that, but something really messed up happened with Seraph - his fans deserved to know what really happened to him, right?

Chad pushed down these bad feelings. Starbright was right, like usual - If villains thought that HERO had people who could take out someone like Seraph in seconds, than they would surrender the second a Hero showed up to fight them. Or even better, they just wouldn't commit crimes in the first place. People could sleep easier, knowing that there were heroes that could stop villains with a single blow.

And THE BULLET could be one of those Heroes.

"No, you're right... I-I think I can do this. I trust you, Starbright..."

Chad really hoped he was making the right decision. Even if it was for the right reasons, he could feel a stab of anxiety at the thought of lying to all of Castleburg.

The pair began moving, ready to meet up with the other heroes and bring Sea Serpent to Coldwater. Chad lingered a little bit longer than Starbright did, however.

On the ground, was a beautifully ornate bottle - somehow, the bottle that Seraph had drunk from survived his death throes, while his desk and many other pieces of furniture were reduced to splinters. A single crack marked the area near its ornamental leaf, and at the bottom of the otherwise untouched glass, were the stains left from Seraph's last drink.

Chad took the bottle without even stopping to consider it, the last dregs of liquid dripping from the crack as he did so.

After all - what would make a better souvenir for your first mission?



3 days later...

"Damn, wish I was on Starbright's payroll - the report said your injury would require an internal fixator and at least 2 months of rest, but you're walking as if nothing happened. The healer must have been something, huh?"

Chad scratched the back of his head, nervous about how to respond to the light conversation. He was in the office of Dr. Illin, the chief proctor of Chad's Aptitude Tests. Thankfully, it seemed like she was unphased by the recent events that had occurred - she was the same as always, even after EAGLES.

Things had been hectic the last few days, and they only seemed to get more intense by the day. Everyone bought Starbright's lie at face value, and HERO did little to fight against his telling of the events. Chad was lucky his costume concealed his identity fairly well - defeating Seraph and Starbright's praise had catapulted The Bullet to popularity that few new heroes ever experience, and if they knew his identity, Chad was worried they might actually find where he lived.

Several of the heroes that had raided Elmore Island were injured in some way, with Firebird apparently having gone crazy for a bit, and Quake being shot by Winterfall. Chad dropped off flowers he bought from Pandora, but he didn't stick around to talk with them... It would kind of be awkward to officially meet a coworker while they were in the hospital, wouldn't it?

"Anyways, here's the file - just be sure to hand it back before you leave, I'm already breaking rules just showing it to a greenhorn like you."

Chad was thankful to be here - it was like a small break from everything. He took the manilla folder that Dr. Illin had given him, opening the contents quickly.

Dozens of pictures, all in various positions and focusing on different body parts. Seraph's corpse had been in the water for an hour or two before they managed to find and dredge it up - not that Chad could really tell how waterlogged the body was. His vision swam slightly as he tried to read the text, moving the pictures out of his view.

'Extreme mutations across the body - muscle tears in several locations indicate high-speed growth.'

"Fall didn't kill him - that stuff he drank was good shit. He didn't have enough control over his body to tread water, so he drowned."

'Autopsy shows presence of Mutagenic Compound, presumed to be Leftover blood. Testing to determine the origin of the blood is still underway.'

Chad's eyes nearly glazed over as he continued reading the Forensic Report on Seraph. Apparently, his file was a bit larger than most heroes who die on the line of duty - most likely a result of his massively altered body.

'Blood adopted darker coloration and is highly viscous - possible clotting from substance?'

Chad closed the folder and held his hand to his mouth. He'd been relatively unscathed mentally the last few days - he didn't directly cause Seraph's death, and Chad didn't see him die. But looking at someone you always looked up to on TV, deformed and cut open and dead, made Chad feel like-

"If you're going to puke, you're going to be taking my trash out."

Dr. Illin was holding a small wastebasket towards Chad, who took it and breathed slowly. He didn't end up puking - Chad knew how to stop himself when he was feeling terrible. He kept breathing and closed his eyes till the nausea left him.

"Bullet? I know you're dressed and everything, but maybe you should take the chance to relax for a bit. You seem pretty out of it. Plus if you get injured again, I have to write it up, and I hate the paperwork."

"It's THE Bul... Nevermind. Sure thing, Dr. Illin, I'll take a few days off. Have a good day."



Chad came down from the sixth floor of HERO One after completing the Monkey Run for the second time - even after intense training in the gym, he was able to complete the course in just over a minute. Not too impressive for a Speedster considering his lack of dexterity, but Chad's time was much faster than most of the Heroes who had attempted the obstacle course. Of course, he still failed the course most of the time he tried it, but Chad decided to blame that on leftover nausea.

As the elevator opened to the third floor, Chad came face to face with The Shocker, the massive electric superhero. His popularity, while hardly exceptional before, was outright detrimental after his 'killing' of Starbright. Many fans of the more popular hero were demanding The Shocker to be fired immediately or to even be imprisoned.

He walked into the elevator, bumping Chad into the wall as he did so. Chad frowned from behind his damaged helmet - it was probably because he had been healed from his back wound and he got a new phone, but Chad felt bad for The Shocker's predicament. Even if he was misguided and attacked them before, he was still a Hero.

Chad decided to forgive The Shocker for injuring him earlier and planned to be nicer to him in the future. He could probably use a friend right now - maybe they'd go out to eat sometime! Starbright could come to, then their fight would just be a funny bonding story!

Chad moved over to the nearest silver booth, entering it casually. Apparently, it was possible to use an app to create patrols or apply for assignments, but Chad wasn't exactly a very tech-savvy individual. Chad planned on asking someone how to download and sign up for that later - Starbright had replaced the phone Chad lost a few days prior.

"Okay... What have we got today?"

Talking to himself, Chad went through the various job listings available to pick from. As usual, Chad pretty much signed up for everything below a certain level of difficulty - finding lost animals, a few Slime Cleanups, and busting drug dealers in Brookside.

Y'know, things that the police usually do. Or at most, something a Hero may do for the publicity.

Chad, obsessive about cheesy heroic fiction and cartoons, found these to be the perfect tasks for him. He didn't cause much property damage, and it allowed him to interact more closely with the people he was helping. Not to mention, the risk of ending up in a fight was pretty low - and while the Seraph Situation made Chad pretty confident most criminals wouldn't want to fight The Bullet, he didn't want to push his luck that much. Especially not today, after seeing those photos.

Of course, Chad wasn't going to be paid much for these lower-grade missions. That's why he took up a Patrol as well! He got to run around Watervale and Brookside, looking for crime as it happened - the old fashioned way of heroics! Not to mention, patrolling those areas paid a bit more than the other boroughs.

Chad didn't realize it yet, but there was a reason Brookside and Watervale were patrolled by very few heroes. They were hives of villainy, with the vast majority of gangs within Castleburg being based in one of the two Boroughs. Not to mention, with the recent EAGLES fiasco, even some of the normal citizens were becoming upset with heroes.

Finishing up, Chad decided to get to work fast - the sooner he finished up his jobs for the day, the sooner he could start his patrol.

His first mission: A Derek Jackson reported a lost Climber Cat somewhere in the East Flank.

"Shouldn't be too hard - those things are Leftovers. Can't be too many of them to look for..."



1 Week Later...

"You Nervous?"

Chad moved over slightly seeing his boss, Percy, standing in the doorway of the bathroom. Chad was nearly done dyeing his hair, and sitting on the edge of his bathtub.

"I guess. Yeah, I'm super nervous... I'm going to be on live television - that's pretty cool!"

Chad was ecstatic to see his name in The Castleburg Times, even if newspaper was kind of dead. Sometime in the last few days, however, Castleburg Today, one of the biggest talk shows on the East Coast, wanted to have him come in for an interview. Chad wasn't sure if this was purely from his role in the defeat of Seraph, or if Starbright had pulled any strings. Whatever the reason, Chad was still thrilled at the opportunity.

"I'm sure you'll do fine Chad. Just try and be yourself, that's all they can ask of you."

Chad nodded. He had already prepped some things to talk about during the interview! The correct pronunciation of his alias, the people he's met with the last week during his missions and patrols, the Climber Cat that took him 13 hours to find (WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THESE THINGS!?), and some of his hobbies. Yesterday The Shocker denied going out for lunch with Chad (and said some pretty mean words...), so Chad also wanted to try and mention him to help boost his popularity.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to recommend his blog to people currently - when he updated it a few days ago, it was taken down. Apparently, the web host thought that it was someone trying to bash on The Bullet, rather than Chad posting it himself! If it wasn't for his Hero work taking up so much time, it probably would have been back up by now...

Oh well! No sense in being upset about something else when there was good news to celebrate!

Percy left a few moments later - it was still business hours, and he needed to cover for Chad's absence. It didn't take long for Chad to finish his hair and shave (and he didn't even cut himself!), and looking at the mirror, he felt pretty happy with his appearance. It didn't fit Chad's personality whatsoever, but his ex was a big fan of the look, and it grew on him as time passed on. He especially liked the tattoo - while others called it lame, he thought it made him look super cool!

Chad's phone began to buzz beside him, displaying the cover of Starbright's newest album. Chad quickly answered it - Chad didn't want to assume things, especially since famous people don't seem to like clingy fans, but he was starting to think that Starbright and him were friends now!

"Bullet, how are you doing? Look remember you got that Castleburg Today interview coming up today. This will be the first time people get to hear from the man himself, no pressure. Anyway, I got some clothes for you to wear, just to help establish your image some more."

"Uh, scratch that actually, you can buy your own clothes. I'm sending you over some money for them. 5 grand should be enough right? Nah we will make it 10 grand to be safe. Anyway, yeah, knock yourself out. All I want to see when I look at you on that show is something that screams 'THIS IS THE BULLET'. I think you best know what that looks like. Oh and no Gucci stuff, thats all bargain bin trash anyway. Again no pressure, just a few million watching."

Chad could see himself pale in the mirror, blood rushing from his head as he heard the ridiculous amount that Starbright was giving him. He'd already bought Chad one of the most expensive phones on the market, but 10 grand was more than Chad had ever held in his life.

"A... Are you sure about giving me that much money? I don't think I'd be able to pay you back for a few months..."

More than a few months - Chad accidentally crashed through a building while running from a pack of M.W.E.s his last patrol, and his pay this week was cut pretty drastically as a result. Chad felt justified in his dislike of animals after that.

"Not that I don't appreciate it! I don't own many outfits, haha..."

The call ended shortly after, and Chad struggled to cope with his sudden influx of cash. People online talked about Heroes making a ton of money, but Starbright was able to throw around what most people made in months like it was nothing. Of course, Chad didn't consider that Starbright's money was supplemented by his massively famous singing career.

Chad went to his room, and quickly started rummaging through his closet for something to wear - eventually, he decided on polo shirt and khakis, one of his more common outfits. As he reached around, however, he accidentally dropped a shirt from its hanger. Behind it was a partially filled Helium tank, very out of place for the otherwise comfy bedroom Chad had made for himself. Chad quickly covered it again, heart racing as he closed the closet door. No time to think about that kind of stuff - Chad had a busy day ahead of him!



Chad knew exactly what to wear to an interview that would be seen by millions - a brand new costume! It'd have an air of mystique since his identity hadn't been revealed to the public yet, and superhero costumes were way cooler looking than a suit or something. And since Starbright had given him such a windfall, it was the perfect time to replace his damaged costume!

Of course, buying a complete costume was pretty difficult within such a short time frame. As a result, Chad had to rely on the same strategy he used to make his last suit - taking random pieces he found that looked cool, and slapping them together. This time though, instead of barely having a hundred or so dollars, he had 10 thousand...

Chad originally wanted to buy Riot gear and possibly avoid hurting as much from collisions or getting stabbed, but the nice officer he asked said that he needed government identification to purchase that. Chad wasn't sure if being a Hero counted, but he could always worry about it when he didn't have a deadline - his interview was only a few hours away. Instead, he bought an armored one-piece suit, like the motorcyclists and daredevils wore - that was still pretty cool!

Chad's purchases were fairly nonsensical and sporadic after that - a cool looking helmet from the same bike shop, ballistic plates from some shady guy Chad found in a gun shop, a bunch of zip-ties to capture bad guys, and some white steel-toed boots.

Chad paused as he continued his shopping, however. While buying all of these things was cool, Chad's mind flashed back to his fall and the broken leg he earned from it. He really lucked out - He could have died so easily if he missed the minijet, and even if he didn't miss it, he could have cut an artery or something and bled out.

The first aid kit that Chad bought was pretty expensive for Chad's taste, but it was compact and could save a life in an emergency. Not to mention it was less expensive more useful than a parachute. Next time he breaks his leg, Chad will have a splint!

Chad really hoped he wouldn't need to break his leg again...

After all of that, Chad hadn't made much of a dent in the funds that Starbright had given him - at least, not until he got to his final purchase. Chad could almost feel the looks of reproach as he arrived at one of the most high-end fashion store in Kingsdale. Chad was dressed in one of his better outfits, but considering he was a pizza delivery guy, he wasn't exactly blending in. Chad kept his head down and tried to avoid making eye contact with others as he started looking for the belts.

Starbright was the person that had helped Chad the most so far - heck, even over the last week, his interactions with the other heroes have been limited. Chad didn't think most of them even knew his name - not that it was their fault. He'd been pretty busy the last few days, but Chad probably should have tried a little harder to get to know his coworkers.

The one that Starbright wore obviously wasn't available - Starbright must have bought his belt from abroad, or maybe it was custom-made. But Chad picked the one that seemed most similar, and they looked close enough, right? Chad paused - after making sure it wasn't Gucci as per Starbright's request, Chad quickly made his purchase, questioning why a belt was worth more than the rest of his costume combined.

Chad shook the thought from his mind as he walked home. He didn't have a right to complain - after all, it wasn't his money. He'd pay Starbright back later

For only having a few hours to get ready, Chad had managed to fix up a pretty good looking costume. Sewing was one of the few things Chad felt confident in, and while he wasn't an expert, it was the best he could do with what he had available. He even managed to sew the plates into the suit! And the cape didn't turn out as bad as he thought it might have.

Of course, functionally, the thing was pretty pathetic. Chad effectively just threw together what he thought would look cool, not taking into account if it would actually help protect him in a fight or if it would fall apart the second he took a hit. Chad mostly just wanted it to look nice before being gawked at by millions - he could make it work well after he was done his interview.

Chad felt pretty confident as he left his home - this interview was going to be great!



Somehow Chad hadn't screwed himself over by thinking that. The interview actually did go pretty well.

Surprisingly, Chad's decision to wear his new costume had actually worked out - his desire to maintain a 'Secret Identity' wasn't common among most of HERO, at least not for the last few decades. That, combined with his loud and boisterous personality, had managed to make him stand out more than he expected.

"Let's get this out of the way right off the bat - how did you and Starbright manage to take down Seraph so fast? Starbright and some HERO officials said the confrontation was over in seconds!" "W-well, Starbright is really strong and cool and powerful and awesome, so it wasn't too bad... A-and I'm pretty fast, y'know? Haha..."

"How is HERO handling the loss of three A tier heroes? Seraph was a major face for HERO as an organization, and they haven't commented on his current situation. Could you tell us - is Seraph dead?" Chad's mind flashed to the pictures of Seraph's bloated and deformed corpse, and he was suddenly glad he was wearing a helmet - it meant no one could see the color drain from his face.

"I don't think I can talk about that, sorry..."

Eventually, the interviewer grew frustrated and started asking about other topics, and Chad visibly relaxed. The interview went much more smoothly when Chad began talking about how he was acclimating to HERO, and his actions in costume after EAGLES was disbanded.

The interviewer looked a little disturbed when Chad described smashing in one of the heads of a MWE, only to be bitten by another. And no one ever wanted to listen to a Slime Cleaning. But Chad's patrol route was what caused the most interest.

"I'm sorry, your patrol goes through Brookside?"

"And Watervale! I think I do a pretty good job too, I arrested some drug dealers already and the officer that came to get them let me use his Siren-"

Chad was incredibly lucky to not have faced any problems yet - few heroes interact with Brookside or Watervale in any capacity and both boroughs were filled with gangs and criminals, but the only injury Chad received so far was a bite from a Leftover.

Then again, Chad was probably one of the people in HERO who could avoid trouble on a patrol in Brookside. Even from a fairly short distance, his all-black costume looked just like a villain - along with the fact that Chad's patrols were done at relatively high speeds, he probably hadn't been attacked simply because he wasn't noticed fast enough. After making his patrol common knowledge during this interview, Chad had probably made things much more difficult for himself.

Not that Chad knew that of course - he was just answering questions as they came to him, ignorant of what consequences they would have.

As the interview came to a close, Chad made sure to give out his message to 'Stop bullying The Shocker' (Which was met with many confused looks from people who had no idea who that was), and he left the building, eager to tell Starbright how the interview had gone.

Who knows - maybe some of the other Heroes had watched it, and Chad could talk with them about it.



Chad shakily stepped out of the plane, doing his best to keep his three bags of luggage from falling into the water. He wasn't wearing his new costume - a benefit to this being a Superhero-only resort. Instead, Chad was wearing a button-down dress shirt, khakis, the belt he bought recently, and a pair of Oxfords that his father had gotten him for a school dance a year or two ago.

In short, not something you should wear to a resort. Chad felt a bit anxious as he saw that most of the others who had also come were dressed in far more casual clothing. He hadn't brought a swimsuit since he couldn't swim didn't like hanging out in the water, but he probably should have dressed down a bit more than he usually did...

No sense in being upset though! Chad was lucky to have come on the resort trip since he was so new, so being upset just cause he wasn't dressed properly was dumb. Chad had been working every day since the EAGLE incident, so he should try and get the most out of this vacation time.

As they arrived at the resort itself and were handed their brochures and villa keys, Chad smiled brightly. He'd never been on a vacation before, so this was all very exciting and new! He could go build a sandcastle on the beach, check out the gym they had here - maybe he could even ask some of the staff to teach him how to swim!

"Before you all go, I have reserved a late dinner at the Solaris, which is the resort's five-star restaurant. If you could join me there at 8:00 PM, that would be excellent. Until then, make sure you enjoy yourselves.”

Chad grinned, making an alarm on his phone (He learned how to put alarms on his phone! How cool was that!!!). Chad had never really eaten at a five-star restaurant, to so that sounded like something he wouldn't want to miss!

Chad quickly made his way to his villa, and after oohing and ahhing at his temporary accommodations, he unloaded his luggage and changed into his workout clothes.

Chad nodded his head to himself. First things first - 'Operation: Make Friends' was a go! A vacation was the perfect time to get to know your coworkers better, right? So he just needed to look around for people to hang out with! Unfortunately, Starbright hadn't won the drawing on who got to come on the vacation - if he had, Chad could have asked to been introduced to some of the others. Starbright was probably beloved by the other heroes, right?

Nodding to himself, Chad left his villa and started to look around the resort for the gym or someone to hang out with, whichever he found first. That's when he realized... He probably should have asked to hang out with someone before he left for his villa in the first place, huh? Chad groaned - stupid move. Oh well, he had 7 hours to find someone to hang out with. Worst case scenario, he could always make plans with someone over dinner tonight.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by DarkRecon
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Alpha


Alpha looked at the team member that addressed his comments (Cerise).

"...first, my name is Alpha Miss...formerly K Nine as stated...copycat or not, this individual has taken two lives so regardless, must be stopped...a good disguise is needed yes...but all the same, myself and others might need to know of such things...and my time as CPD may compromise this mission regardless of a disguise...", Alpha monotoned.

He then looked around the room noting the new faces but then tilted his head slightly at Cerise and then talked normally again.

"I'm sorry but do I know you? Are you one of the new transfer Heroes I heard about?"

@Jumbus
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Tom hadn't actually been on a vacation in a really long time (unless visiting his Dad in LA counted as a vacation, which Tom didn't) - there was no way it had been less than a couple of years since he had last gone on one. So when Powers had announced that some people were being selected to go on an all-expenses-paid tropical vacation to the Caribbean, Tom crossed his fingers that he would be one of the lucky few selected. And if he did get selected, he also was hoping that Grace got selected to go along with him. He knew that their relationship had started way later than it probably should have, but Tom didn't care, because it seemed to be going perfectly so far, despite Grace's apparent need to itinerise and schedule their dates, which Tom would have preferred to be totally spontaneous. But he knew Grace was just like that.

He stepped off the plane after her, taking a note of the pleasant heat which seemingly filled the air, way different to the city temperatures of Castleburg. He was wearing some shorts (uncharacteristically for him, but he was on vacation) and a button-up Hawaiian shirt, which was luckily a different colour to the one Powers was wearing. He glanced down at Grace, thinking her holiday attire was absolutely adorable, which he had told her at least a few times already on the plane. It wasn't long before the group was greeted by the resort coordinator, and he rolled his eyes at Powers acting so characteristically formal despite the fact they were all here to enjoy a nice vacation - of course, he made sure Powers didn't see him doing this.

There was no denying that the resort was absolutely beautiful. It was maybe the furthest setting from Castleburg that could possibly exist, no tall buildings, no cars, no vague and probably unhealthy smog that sometimes appeared in the city that was either the result of cars or some mild smog-based villain. Just sand, palm trees and tropical birds. And the pretty looking huts that they would be staying in, wrapped around the pristine coast with the turquoise water. If there was a place on earth that was picture perfect, it was likely this. They headed inside the reception area and Tom looked around at all the old timey maritime stuff on display, which was cool, before Naomi handed out everyone's room keys inside little envelopes.

Grace, of course, went to get it first, and Tom walked up to her to find out where the pair would be staying. "The Mahi Mahi hut? Isn't that a kind of tu-" He stopped when he saw the little carved tuna on the end of the key. "Yeah." He walked along side Grace as they headed towards their hut. It felt a little weird being called "hon"... He hadn't had an actual girlfriend in a fairly long time. But as much as it felt weird, it also felt pretty sweet. It was a nice feeling to have.

Soon they reached their hut and stepped inside. Tom whistled as he looked around, clearly impressed. Damn, this is swanky, it must have cost a fortune to book this place!" He noted, walking back over to Grace as she pulled the fancy brochure from her bag and started flicking through it. He listened as she rattled off all of the different types of massages that were available, unable to suppress a smile as she immediately went about attempting to build an itinerary for their vacation. When she asked his opinion, she answered. "That all sounds great... Especially the snuggling... But you don't need to try and schedule everything in smooth timeslots, Gracie, we're on vacation, you can just chill and enjoy yourself." He quickly snatched the calendar off the table to prevent her writing any more. "The hot stone massage sounds pretty cool, let's do that."

@Hitman
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When the seaplane touched down on St. Florian, Jamie hopped up from her seat with glee. That plane ride had been so long, but they were finally here! For most of the plane ride, she had glued herself to the window and gazed at the Caribbean. Or what she could see of it. Most of it had just been water. But now it was land! Because they were here. The plane came to a stop smoothly, and as soon as she could, Jamie wanted out. In a swift motion, she took her two bags (her suitcase and her beach bag), put on her sunglasses and hat, and walked out into the sunlight. Jamie was the first one out of the plane, right after Powers, of course.

Once she was fully out of the plane, he shook out her fishtail-braided hair and took a deep breath of the humid island air. God, how she loved the Caribbean. Castleburg was nice and all, but it was also nice to be somewhere warm. With beaches. And crystalline blue water… She hadn’t been to the Caribbean since she was a teenager, and she was happy to be back. Especially given the last few months she had had, which had been interesting, to say the least. Jamie had had a “vacation” a few months ago, but it hadn’t been much of one. Sitting around on her couch for a few weeks waiting for her body to heal wasn’t a vacation. That was why she was happy to have a real vacation!

Plus, all of her friends were here. Well… some. Really just Tom and Joseph, but they were plenty fun. In preparation for the tropics, Jamie was wearing a buttoned maxi dress, leather sandals, a floppy hat, and sunglasses. She had also braided her hair into a fishtail, which she was quite proud of! There were a ton more outfits in her suitcase (she had mostly borrowed from her younger self, but had also done a lot of shopping), so she was prepared for anything that would come their way!

Jamie listened to Powers and Naomi Lewi. Dinner at 8:00! She would be there. “See you then!” she said as Powers walked off. This whole place seemed so fun. And the beach was calling to her! Jamie stepped forward to take her envelope, opened it, and squinted at its content. “Sea Turtle Hut, huh…” she muttered, and took out her keychain. It was a sea turtle! How cute! Jamie squealed a teensy bit. Then, she grinned wide and dashed off to go look for her room.

Unpacking wasn’t too strenuous of a process if you didn’t actually unpack. Jamie just sort of dumped her suitcase onto the floor, threw some bags of toiletries into the bathroom, and ran back out again. It was too nice of a day to unpack! She’d do it later. Or maybe never. A suitcase was a fine dresser, even though her room had one. Her room was nice, actually. It was themed around the sea turtle, so it was blue and green all over. But Jamie couldn’t be entertained for long by looking around her room. She needed something to do!

Without bothering to put on sunscreen (sunscreen was for chumps), Jamie grabbed her beach bag and left her villa. Now it was just time to find someone to hang out with. She heaved a sigh. Everyone she knew seemed to be in their villas. But she did see someone she had met a few times! An awkward, teenager-looking guy was wandering around. Jamie racked her brain for his name. Chad? Chase? She was pretty sure it was Chad, but she could be wrong…

Jamie ran up to him anyways. “Hey, Chad!” she yelled, and stopped right in front of him. “This place is so nice. There’s a beach, and a bar, and an ocean, and a lot of cool stuff… wanna hang out, maybe? We have a lot of time until dinner with the director. We could build a sand castle or, like, go swimming… it’ll be fun!” Jamie grinned. What was a vacation for if not hanging out with people?









This was not a vacation.

Patricia entered the conference room with a scowl on her face. She had been promised a full week off- this was total bullshit! If everyone else got to go to a fancy resort in the Caribbean, why shouldn’t she get a week off? Stupid emergency meetings… Patricia flopped into an armchair next to Eliza, slung her head back, and groaned. “Ughhhh!” Once she was done being dramatic, she sat up and gave Eliza a light smile. “Hey, Ellie. Hug?” When Eliza said yes, Patti leaned in for a long, sweet side-hug. She almost wanted to kiss her, but everyone was here! Even people she didn’t know…

Looking around the room after hugging Eliza, Patti noticed several people she had never met. Which was strange! There was a brown-haired man, a dark-skinned woman, and a gangster-looking blonde lady, all of whom she didn’t know. She looked at the three of them for a short moment and then shrugged. Didn’t matter. If they were here, they were here. Whatever.

The last couple of months had been… strange for Patti, to say the least. After that whole fiasco with the coup, she had had a lot of bonus money and a lot of time off. After she had been accused of murder, no one had wanted her back at HERO One for quite a bit. So… she had gone on vacation! A real one, with her mom. They had gone on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean a month or so ago, which had been a ton of fun. They had never really gone on vacations like that before, so it was exciting to Patti. And in Castleburg, people had started to recognize Patti. In a positive way! Apparently, that whole disaster had netted her some fame. Which was… weird.

Patti sat up straight in her seat when Christina walked into the room. She looked serious. Patricia took her manila folder and immediately popped the peppermint into her mouth. Hopefully that hadn’t been important or anything. She put her best serious face on and listened to Christina speak.

Well, this sounded… serious. The Black Boron, huh? A superhero killer. An old one. Shouldn’t he be in a nursing home or something? An old dude couldn’t pose that much of a threat, although she supposed she should probably listen to Christina. Couldn’t be too hard though. Plus, they got to go undercover. So Patricia opened her folder, and sorted through its contents.

“Oh God, please don’t give Eliza a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet,” Patricia groaned, jokingly, and glanced at her girlfriend. Having involuntarily played in a campaign or two with Eliza, Patti knew how excited her girlfriend could get about this nerd stuff. Please don’t tell me you brought any dice today.”

“Anyways, this shouldn’t be too hard. Not harder than the Gugliano bit, at least. I think I’ll be… hm. Keeping with the Irish theme, I’ll be Patricia O’Connor? My first name’s Irish enough. But we definitely shouldn’t all keep our first names! Mine just sounds Irish. Ooh, and we all need backstories… definitely not gonna be a prostitute this time, so I’ll be a gangster or something…” It had been a while since Patricia had actually gone undercover, so she was looking forward to it again. She had definitely toughened up since the last time they had went undercover.



Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Brooke


Brooke was feeling kind of nervous. Which wasn't exactly unheard of. She had lost all of her momentum and many of the people she had succeeded in introducing herself too were now near the equator and she was once again in a room filled with mostly strangers. Bad luck. She adjusted her glassed and then stuffed her hands into her zipped up green hoodie. Everything was a little chillier on the east coast compared to the west coast. So she was having to adapt to that. Not like she would complain out loud though, lest she be subjected to a thousand years of "You think THIS is cold!?". She would just keep it to herself.

Much like she should probably keep her thoughts about this plan to herself. Brooke shifted uncomfortably, glancing around to gauge the others reactions. Patricia Donnelly, the superhero who was made the focus of the recent coup, immediately seemed onboard. Brooke wrinkled her nose. The man who called himself Alpha seemed wary, as well as Cerise. Brooke actually knew everyone here's name, of course. Christina and Blake and Eliza and Rumi were the others in the room.

Brooke cleared her throat and spoke up. "Um...hi. My name's Brooke Everette. I'm a transfer from LATCH. I meant to get around to everyone but...now the people I met are all on vacation. S-so, y'know, that kinda makes things awkward for me!" She laughed anxiously, waving at everyone.

"Um, um, okay, I'm sorry," Brooke leaned forward toward Christina and the others her voice getting very high pitch. "Wh-whyyy? Why, are we doing this? Going undercover? I'm not- I'm not- an actress? I get stage fright? Question mark? I mean I've played Dungeons and Dragons before but doing a silly voice was always the hardest- I mean- playing a character is...not life or death. Right?" She said, not stopping talking.

"What if I just, like, attached myself to the under side of the boat with my hard light powers and just hid under there until something inevitably explodes?" She asked, borderline pleading. After a moment she seemed to concede under the pressure and went along with the plan, even if there was no pressure at all.

She rubbed her face. "Or...maybe I'll just...be someone's evil silent bodyguard. That way I don't have to, uh, talk. Or, do anything." She stared off into the middle distance for a moment.

"I'm thinking something like...this?" She suddenly rose from her chair. Taking a few steps back, she looked down at herself and concentrated. From thin air sabatons, gauntlets, shoulder pauldrons, a chest plate and leggings all began to materialize out of thin air. They strapped themselves onto her and became opaque. They were grey in color but slowly darkened into being black. A helmet covered her face and she grew one foot in height as the armor completed itself and she made her legs longer. It was all spiky and hard edges. She summoned a massive greatsword as well. She looked like a fantasy knight from a grimdark world, and it was quite corny.

Her less than imposing voice echoed from underneath the helmet. "F-fear me...I...I am Hurt...you...I am Lord...Um..." She hesitated for a moment. "Hurtpain Murderdeath McMaimKill!" She announced. Her voice attempted to rise with confidence, and she rose her sword in the air, aswell.
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Grace pouted as Tom snatched away her notepad, looking like a child that just had her favorite toy taken away. In a way, the analogy was not too far from the truth. "To~m! You know that I need to plan ahead! How else can I possibly maximize the time efficiency of this vacation? I want to make the most productive use of every second of our time together, and the only way I can do that is by properly allotting our total time into given subsections! That's the only way we can optimize this entire experience!" Grace ranted, but her annoyance quickly subsided, perhaps because of the nice Caribbean air or something like that. "Alright, fine...I'll try being a little more...chill," Grace said mopily. "I've never understood why you want me to be more...spontaneous. Surely we have enough entropy and disorder in the natural universe already, which is beyond the control of physicists. At the very least I should be able to plan our dates..." Grace said to herself, but she relented nonetheless, taking off her hat and sunglasses and resting them on the desk. "Alright, hot stone massage. Let's go. This is bound to be relaxing, that's for sure..."

Grace stepped back out into the Caribbean sun, stretching and enjoying the sensation of the daylight touching her skin. She walked down the boardwalk, noticing the hut right next to theirs was the Great White Shark Hut. "That's the Director's hut," Grace said, having quickly observed the key that Powers had taken earlier. She looked at his doorstep, which still had some of his luggage on it, and noticed something that bothered her somewhat. Sitting in front of his door was a large green bag, and inside the bag was an item that seemed to vaguely resemble an assault rifle. Her observation was quickly overpowered by her rationality- there was no way Powers could've smuggled weapons to a vacation, and there was no reason for Powers to do so anyways, right? Grace pushed the idea out of her mind as much as possible as she took Tom's hand. "Let's go," she said, walking across the island with a bit of spring in her step, but the image of Powers' weapon-bag still gnawed at her mind as the couple made their way over to the massage parlor. Was there more at play here than Grace thought?

The massage parlor on the island was a large, swanky-looking building of marble with golden highlights that was surrounded by palm trees, with a sliding glass door. It was an impressively fancy structure, Grace had to admit. She walked past two golden dolphin fountains, speaking to the woman behind the desk. "We have an appointment," she said bluntly to the lady, who smiled and tapped her computer a few times. “Of course. You’re in the Ocean Room. Your masseur will be with you shortly,” she said. Grace nodded stiffly, gesturing towards Tom to come over. She walked down the hallway, entering the room labelled “Ocean.”

The room was filled with water-themed decor, with waves painted on the walls and conch shells everywhere. There were a couple wooden buckets full of what Grace assumed would be the hot stones for the massage, and two massage beds sat in the middle of the room. Grace smiled relaxedly, looking over at Tom. "This is...nice," she said plainly, leaning towards Tom and standing on her toes, briefly resting her lips against the bottom of Tom’s chin for a moment before withdrawing, her eyes twinkling with a delight that Grace rarely exhibited. "I like this. Not having to work or deal with that stress, getting to hang out in the sun...it’s perfect," Grace said with a demure smile. "And I’m so happy I get to do it with you." She looked at Tom warmly. "Let’s get ready, then?"

Grace unbuttoned her shirt, taking it off to reveal a vibrantly tropical and distinctively un-Grace-like bikini of bright orange and hot pink. She gave Tom a coy smile before she kicked off her shorts as well, scooping her clothes in her hand and walking over to find a place to hang them. "Alright, now we just have to wind back and let the magic happen...” Grace hung her clothes on a peg above several large prop barrels (like something one would find on a pirate ship) before sitting down on one of the massage beds, kicking her legs back and forth. "Sooo..." Grace said, looking at the wall. "This is a long wait. Guess they’re busy today...well, we can definitely talk about something! Like...I dunno. Ooh, movies!" Movies were always a safe conversation topic. "You know, I don’t think I’ve ever figured out what your favorite movie was. So, what’s your favorite movie? Actually, I don’t know too many of your favorite things at all. Favorite food? Favorite ice cream flavor? Favorite animal? Man, I wish we had more chances to just talk…"






Blake was very busy thinking about his epic tale and backstory that he would give to the other mobsters, but his daydreams were interrupted by somebody speaking to him. "Who’s the armor? Oh, the armory! Got it." Blake stood, resting his files on the table. "Let’s go! And yeah, I’m 99% sure Christina is joking. 99%," Blake repeated as he made his way out of the room, heading over to the elevator. He pressed the 9th floor button, and the elevator zoomed up. When the doors opened again, an entirely different scene awaited them. Sleek black metal walls with pulsing teal lights filled the area. Several display cases with various HERO memorabilia were presented along the walls.

"Here’s the armory. It’s super cool. They have scientists here that make shit just for us. Just for us! Isn’t that neat?" Blake guided Max down the hall, past plenty of display cases, towards an area with two doorways, one labelled with a little blue man and the other a little pink girl. Blake pushed open the door with the man symbol, revealing a large area, similar to a locker room.

"Everybody has a locker. Yours is in here somewhere...the people who work here deposit all our hero stuff right into the lockers. All our mail, new equipment, y’know. Here’s mine...." Blake pressed his palm to the encryptor before he swung his locker door open, a pile of fan mail pouring out from inside. Blake picked a bright pink envelope that was covered in hearts up, making a face, before throwing it back into the pile. "You didn’t see anything," Blake said, pointing index and middle finger at the pile, and in a split second the entire mass of letters lit up in ember flames before vanishing. "I hope Angie doesn’t dig around through my stuff, ew...anyway, HERO gives us some complementary stuff to use, even though most of it is useless." Blake removed what appeared to be a sparkly leotard from his locker. "I’m pretty sure this one is just a straight-up joke." He tossed it back in. "Ooh, element gun!." Blake removed what appeared to be an elaborate flare gun from the locker. "Here, this gun lets you compact your powers up and shoot it in a blast. You want it?" Blake tossed the weapon over to Max. "Tornado gun! Now, that sounds sick."





Christina chuckled. "No dice, I’m afraid. Can’t go starting a whole campaign now...," she said, looking over at the brewing conflict at the table. "Excellent points, you guys. Much of the information is actually contained in the dossier. But in short- yes, the Black Baron does have powers, and the fact that he does have superpowers is exactly why we know it’s him.” Christina said, opening up her own files. "Baron’s power is called Omen. An exceedingly dangerous superpower. There’s some scientific explanation involving microscopic bacteria and stuff, but in essence, if he cuts your skin, you die," Christina said.. "His power allows him to rapidly exacerbate the effects of a small wound. A paper cut becomes a gash oozing with blood. A stab wound becomes...well, at that point, you’re done," Christina said. "The way that the two recent murders were committed were highly consistent with the Baron’s powers. You can copy a modus operandi, but it’s very difficult to copy a superpower."

Christina laughed at Brooke’s place. "Cute, but I don’t think Mrs. McMaimKill is fooling anybody." She rested both her elbows against the table, leaning forwards. "Imagine...that you’re your favorite character from a movie! And try and channel that energy! A whole different type of energy. Acting is just feeling like and being somebody that you aren’t. Anybody can do it," Christina said warmly. "In any case, we’re going to need a couple people to play hostages. Can’t have too many superheroes disguising themselves at once. Too many newcomers would be suspicious. And plus, bring a hostage is like bringing a bottle of wine in the criminal world. It’ll help ease tensions and establish trust. Any volunteers?"





Powers lightly tapped the ballet, sending a croquet ball rolling elegantly through one of the wickets. "Both of those assertions are definitely well-founded and valid predictions, but they are also both false." Powers lifted his croquet ballet, his eyes rising from his ball up to the horizon. "The reason I summoned you here privately is because I reasoned that you would be undeniably much less interested in the resort than the rest of the group. I feel guilty interrupting the rest of the...much, much younger heroes from their vacation, and I believed that you would be more interested in something...exciting. Eventually, the rest of the group will be informed, but it would be best if we can get the preliminary housekeeping out of the way first." Powers rested his mallet over his broad shoulders, one muscled arm grasping each end of the hammer.

"The first piece of legislation passed by ICOSA was the Commission Act, in 1816. It formalized the establishment of territories for autonomous hero companies to police. However, there were some shortcomings to the act, leaving several areas open to interpretation, which has led to a lack of coverage in those regions. The United States Virgin Islands, for instance, is theoretically under jurisdiction of both TEXAS and CARD. Because of this, it is truthfully under neither of their jurisdictions, meaning that any enterprising criminal could use these locations for nefarious purposes.

”It is my belief that the organization known as Zero, a nefarious group of villains hellbent on world domination, have been using this resort as a money laundering source, and that they have set up a base somewhere on the island. My goal during this ‘vacation’ was to root ZERO out alone while the rest of the group was enjoying the spa treatments. If you would like, you could join me on this expedition.”

Powers swung his mallet down again, sending his ball spiraling through another wicket. ”My initial assumption was that you would prefer to do nothing this entire vacation, meaning that you would be accepting of my proposition. Of course, if you want, you are more than free to go vacation with the others. I believe happy hour will be commencing in a few hours, and I expect things to get quite rowdy, knowing the rest of them.” Powers lifted the mallet. ”The choice is yours. Also, it’s your turn to go. It would be disappointing if a native Briton were to be schooled by an American in a traditional game of croquet.”


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Pandora glanced between Powers and the ball as he talked. He had decidedly ignored her warnings and decided to trust her with his currently secret mission anyway. She scratched at the bare small of her back, her ample exposed skin warmed in the sun. Getting briefed was something she hadn't done in a while.

”...It is my belief that the organization known as Zero, a nefarious group of villains hellbent on world domination..." Hugo said. Pandora chuckled at this.

As Powers mentioned it was her go, Pandora furrowed her eyebrows and lined up a shot. The ball rolled wide and missed the wicket she was aiming at entirely. The british woman frowned. "It's a bloody French game, anyway." She mumbled. She repositioned on the grass and sighed.

She gestured in assention at the Director. "Well, of course I'll take you up on it. I've no intention of spending time with a bunch of drunk children. Sounds like a nightmare." She said.

Brooke


Brooke deflated at Christina's laugh. The towering knight laughed half-heartedly in agreement before vanishing. Brooke shrank down to her original size. No longer elevated by armor she sat back down in her chair and considered Christina's words. Both about her disguise, and the nature of the Black Baron's cruel ability. She flipped through the mentioned dossier and went quiet. Her brown eyes devoured the written information with renewed vigor. Calmer, she was, in the presence of written information.

Christina mentioned the idea of a hostage. Without looking up Brooke raised a hand like she was in school. Then she sat it down and wasn't sure what to do with it. "Me. I'll do it." She said.

"I mean, I'm a terrible actress. I'll be nervous anyway. My weakness is if I can't see, I can't use my light power. So my capture is uh, more believable, I guess, than some other people. I tried to keep my weakness a secret, b-but, I found people talking about it on the internet so the word is out." She admitted.

"And, y'know, besides. I've got the most experience out of this team, so if anyone should get the tough job it should be me. And my armor will let me go toe-to-toe with the Baron without letting him draw blood as easy." Brooke explained. "Not that that's going to happen. But if I'm one of the only known goodies on a ship full of baddies I imagine someone might try to poke at me a little. But I can handle it." She smile wide, revealing her chipped front tooth. She sat straighter and prouder, assured of her stance and role in the mission.

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