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Issue 1: Pressure


The Chronicler
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A well dressed man, with greying hair sits in what would have once been called a Study, beside a crackling fireplace.   Tea sits on a small end table, and on his lap rests a tome that looks to be over a thousand pages in thickness.   He speaks softly, and the multiverse can only listen.  "
The history of the Multiverse is but a collection of stories.    Some are vast, epic tales of heroism and villainy, and some tell only of the common man, living a common life, in a simple, common world.    This story is somewhere in between, the story of those with awesome power, and the potential to rise to their Absolute Apex,  and yet they're far from it, and the lives of the common people still weigh upon them.   Many stories begin with "Once upon a time..." or "In the Beginning..."   He waves his hand, "No, no, it's all too pretentious isn't it?   Let's tell it not in grand scale or flowery language, let's see it happen, viscerally,  with all the action illustrated by the greatest of all mediums..."

In his hands, the tome seemed to change, become not pages with endless written script, but with colorful, impactful illustrations... and far less of a page count...

"As it is said, a picture is worth a thousand words..."

High above the Earth orbits Sentinel Station.   The Station is abuzz with the news.   The alien world of Zabazz, home to the Emerald Legionaire, Guiz,  is in dire need of assistance   They are under assault by the alien warlord Karrabas, and few others have agreed to come to their aid.   An All call has been put out to All Guardians, and virtually every member has responded, heeding the summons to Sentinel Station.   For the first time in history, the Guardians will be fighting for a world other than Earth.

Having said that, Not all Guardians will be going on this mission.   Even if there was transport for everyone, the Guardians have to maintain a presence on Earth.   Knowing the big three, they'll hand down the assignments  and make rousing speeches.

For one particular group of heroes, this happened first however.   

 

Spoiler

"Come to the briefing room on Level 3, section 3, in thirty minutes, do not be late.  Do not tell others about this."  the summons was unsigned, but came over alpha priority call, so only one of a handful of people could have sent it.   The primary concern is that Level 3 is generally Reserved only for senior Guardians, which none of you are.  As you make your way there, you'll be surprised that your ID card will actually allow you access, and once you're in the right section, the directional lights on the floor will lead you to a small meeting room with five chairs, and a large window view of the Earth.  You may arrive in any order, though Tempest will arrive there first, and be seated, looking out at the planet below.

 

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After arriving on the station after the summons, Doug walked to the elevator. He used his ID and accessed Level 3. With a grunt of surprise that this worked, Doug made his way onto the floor. Looking down he saw the lights leading him down the corridor. Speaking to no one in particular, Doug said, "Well, this is going to be interesting." Looking around cautiously, as he felt he was going to be caught at any moment and his membership revoked due to violating protocol and being where he shouldn't be. Once he reached to door to the conference room, he gathered himself by taking a deep breath and holding it for a few seconds, then focusing on the task at hand. He used his ID card and entered the room once the door slid open. Doug stepped in, and stopped dead in his tracks. The view of Earth from this room was amazing. He sighed and made his way over to one of the chairs, and nodded to Tempest. When he sat down, he took off his helmet, revealing an average looking man with mutton chops as dark as the hair on his head, and a relatively pale skin tone. His eyes were a piercing blue and his hair was styled in a small ponytail with a widow's peak in the front. Once comfortably seated, Doug looked over at Tempest and spoke softly, "Any ideas on why we're here?"

Edited by Veral
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"Most likely the 'all hands on deck' alert." The voice, a sultry contralto,  startled both Springboard and Tempest, who each twisted to stare toward the other end of the room by the beverage and snack station.

 

Tall, slender and shapely, sheathed in a formfitting one-piece of some sort of metallic cloth colored yellow and crimson, was *Hyper*, leaning against the coffee bar and cup in hand. Tempest brow furrowed, he had been here alone when Springboard had arrived a few moments ago, no one else had entered.

 

"How did you..." he started but was cut off.

 

"Get in here? I came in at speed when Doug came in before the door closed. It was worth the look on y'all's faces."  The masked speedster chuckled and took a sip of coffee, " Want some?"

 

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gene-raz-von-edler-the-giant-torii-gate-by-ellysiumn-hd-as-1920.jpg.99651fecdbe613eb22be7e6ad632d13a.jpg"We are here because when the need is great, and the danger is fierce..." said a sourceless female voice that echoed eerily through the meeting room. The wall adjoining the window began to shimmer and become illuminated by strange lights that zipped around it, like bluish-white fireflies. "...duty, honor and compassion move our hearts," concluded the voice.

 

A pair of squared wooden pillars seemed to sprout from the floor then, pressed tightly against one another, growing nearly up to the ceiling before being capped off by a short horizontal beam that had a gleaming jewel of some kind affixed to its center. The two pillars then rumbled and split apart from one another, expanding out to either side. As they did, a pair of conjoining beams reeled out between them, the top beam developing a concave bend in the top. The space between the two pillars was not the gunmetal wall of the space station though.

 

Rather, there was an otherworldly vista; a vast and lush plain of grass, with occasional copses of pink-leaved trees. In the distant background foothills ramped up to a single mountainous peak. Reeds waved invitingly just on the 'inside' of the gate. Standing there was a woman of relatively small stature and petite build, wearing a colorful kimono that was worn open enough that it could flap dramatically in the wind on the other side. Navy blue silk embroidered with starbursts of pink and violet flowers, with the undershirt and hakama being lighter shades of sky blue. She wore a white mask in the stylized form of a fox's face that did nothing to stop her long black hair from streaming out behind her. Four fluffy white fox-tails swayed to and fro behind her.

 

She stepped through the torii gate, from wonderland into the drab station interior, and hordes of those odd 'fireflies' zipped in along with her and swarmed over the table, around each of the others seated...then lifted as a cloud and returned to the archway to fly in lazy circles around the wooden beams and pillars.

 

As Kitsune took a seat, the torii gate folded back in on itself and vanished again.

 

"Anybody bring a snack or something?" she asked, shrugging off her previous formal persona like a waterfowl might a brisk rain. "Bag of chips? Apple? I was on my way to the kitchen when I heard the thing beep."

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Posted (edited)

Tempest shook his head, "Nothing bad, I thnk."  Tempest hadn't unmasked, and likely wouldn't, unless whoever called this meeting insisted on it.   He had a reasonable idea who it was, as this was certainly his style.

He had been about to reply to Hyper when Kitsune made her grand entrance, and he sighed lightly before letting out a little chuckle.  "You'd be great in Showbiz, Kitsune."  She had a certain showmanship others lacked.  "No no food or drinks, I don't think we'll be here that long."

"You're right."    The door opened to admit a hero they all knew, and then close behind them.  Nightarrow looked to each of them, then to the unoccupied seats.  He took one and gestured for Hyper to join them.  Once she had,  a table rose up with a projector in the center of the chairs.   "So you've all heard the big announcement.  Seventy Five percent of the Guardians will be going to another world to defend them from an alien threat unlike any other that we've faced."

"That means Twenty five percent of our number will remain behind, here on Earth, to maintain the peace, and help wherever they're needed.  The decisions on who would go and stay were not made lightly, and not without some regret.   The four of you will be among those who remain here on Earth, and It will be your job to quickly respond to any major situation that develops.  The four of you will work as a squad, starting now.  You'll  report to the Arena for some acclimation training, and then be sent back home.  When needed, you'll be called, and at least one hour a day you'll meet for further acclimation training."

He held up one of his hands.  "Before you argue, know that I selected each of you for This team.   You remaining here isn't due to a view that you're not good enough to go to another world, but more that I have faith that with you here, there will still be a here to return to.  We each have a team we selected to remain.   Several veteran members will also be on-hand here, having volunteered to remain just in-case something comes up that the teams cannot handle.  Mainframe, Enchantress, Hyperion, and Silent Shadow will all remain here on Sentinel Station until the Guardians return."  The four heroes were each  quite powerful, though their abilities were somewhat focused.   Mainframe specialized in technology, Enchantress in what many considered the occult and Magic.   Hyperion was a solar powered highly mobile artillery piece.  He wasn't great in a close in fight, but he could hit targets from low orbit with his energy blasts.  Silent Shadow was one of Night Arrow's former protege, now a hero in her own right.   She never spoke, and was a master of stealth infiltration.
  
He looked up to the cameras in the room, and they winked off.  "Now, having said that, what I am about to say is not for more public consumption.  At least a dozen Guardians are unaccounted for, including ArcKnight, ChronoMan, and Downslope"   The three heroes listed were senior members, a powerful bruiser, a timemaster, and an ice controller.    "I want you, between missions, and your lives, to try to find out what happened to them."

 

Edited by Shameless
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"Wait... a dozen Guardians are missing? Why are we just now finding out about that? Is there any information about them at all? Any leads?" Doug looks over at Nightarrow. He then sighs and shakes his head. "Just making sure, but the disappearances are secondary to our more formal missions, correct?"

 

When Nightarrow nods, "I think we can handle this." He turns to the others in the room, "It'll be a pleasure to work with you all. Training should be a blast."

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*HYPER* frowns, "Ok this is weird, from several directions. First, were those who are unaccounted for working on something together? Second, when you say unaccounted for do you mean they aren't answering your call or do mean they are gone, disappeared like Spongebob said? And third, are we the only group being given this assignment? Cause if not we are going to have to work with the other teams so we don't cross investigate.

 

And last but not least, Do we get to work up here and do we get a shuttle?"

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"Wellll," Kitsune said, drawing out the word. "If a dozen are missing, four are staying up here, and we're working the case...that means only we're working the case. Because that's about a quarter of all the Guardians total...and everyone else is in space."

 

"There's no way they were ALL working on the same thing though, especially not now. The Guardians are stretched too thin. So...someone's hunting us, right, Night Arrow?"

 

The fox mask stretched into a smug grin. Downslope, in his 'super-skiing' gear appeared behind her, glitching slightly as if he was on a old-fashioned CRT display.

 

"Need us to make any public appearances?" asked Downslope jauntily. "You know, to allay suspicion? It's hard to hide missing superheroes when there's so few left on the planet!"

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Tempest looked to Night Arrow and sighed.  "You never give me something easy, do you?"

Night Arrow shook his head.  "Of Course not, I didn't for your father, and I certainly won't for you."   

The elder Hero looked to the others.  "You will be working the investigation alone, and for the most part your activities will remain North America-centric.  Both of Artemis' teams are geared for international operations, though they may call in others.  I've arranged it so that you will be the last team called in, if it comes to going overseas."   it was impressive, but clearly this was important enough that he was doing so.

"You are the only team on the investigation, because this is a recent development.  When we put out the all call, they didn't answer.  I checked on them, and their homes look like nothing out of the ordinary has happened.  When I went through the logs after that, I couldn't even locate their id badges on the planet.  I have Mainframe looking into this, but he is the only other person who knows that they are missing currently."

"I would normally have someone on the team with an investigative background, but with the exception of Silent Shadow,  all four other Guardians with such experience and abilities that lend themselves to such activity are also missing.   As to the question of them working on something together, To my knowledge the answer is no.  I've found no real connection between those who are missing aside from them all being guardians.   I have cleared you and indeed, all the other teams for use of the shuttles.   Each of you has your own apartment here, so you may remain here if you choose, though I know some cannot get away from their daily lives so easily."

He looked to Kitsune.  "No, no appearances, if the need arises, we'll simply say they were part of the team that went to space."

He lets a thin smile curl his lips slightly.  "Be the heroes I know you all to be, call on your friends and allies, and you'll be fine.   Remember, you've been selected for this because I know you can handle it."

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The image of the missing hero vanished, and Kitsune shrugged.

 

"Okay, well, as much as I love the view from up here I probably should be heading back to Earth. Anyone else coming down with me on the shuttle? I know...why don't we all go? Then we can grab lunch or something, maybe work a few things out or just swap war stories. Whatever. Teambuilding!"

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Tempest nodded  "We won't let you down."  He definitely looked up to NightArrow, and he would do anything to live up to his expectations.

Night Arrow spoke reassuringly to him.   "I know you won't.  Now,  Tempest, I want you taking the lead here.   I'm giving you a long leash to look into the disappearances, and I've sent you a full list of the missing heroes.   Where you start is up to you, though I'd recommend you investigate in pairs at the least, just in case. "

He took a moment to smile to the four younger heroes, and nodded.  "I'd say get a training session in before you head back down, unless you absolutely have to go."  With that, he exit the room, leaving them alone.  

Tempest looked to his teammates, and nodded.  "Any objections to a little time in the Arena before we grab a bite and head back?"

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"I'm actually looking forward to time in the Arena. I can't wait to start learning how you all work, and after that, food." Springboard grins. "So, shall we adjourn to the Arena?" He picks up his helmet and secures it back on his head, and then he stands, turning to head to the door.

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*HYPER* follows Night Arrow's departure with narrowed eyes then looks at Tempest, "Yeah, sure, just don't be a dick like your mentor. None of us are kids and most of us have been doing this for a while.

 

Thing I find odd. If these guys are really missing why isn't it a priority instead of a 'when you have time' thing. Something about this is downright fishy."

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Posted (edited)

Tempest moved to pull up the list on the computer, looking at it, and nodded, and held up his hand before they all left.  "Everyone should take a look at the list That was odd to me as well.   Still, there's nothing saying we can't actually devote our time mostly to that, so long as we respond when there's an official call.  We need to go talk to Mainframe after the Arena, and get their last known whereabouts.  We should also  see if we've got any ties to those missing, and we can start investigating those heroes first.   For me, I've known Downslope for a good while, not just as a hero.   I went camping with his family a couple times.  I've been on a fair number of calls with him, and with Aquamarine. "  

  

Spoiler

Each of you should have ties to at least 2 missing heroes.  There can be overlap, that will help set up the mission teams later.  There are 4 veteran heroes and 8 newer heroes missing.   Downslope, ArcKnight, and Chronoman are three of the veterans.  that leaves 1 vet and eight newer heros for you all to "create" if you so choose.

 

Edited by Shameless
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"Sounded like they just missed a check-in or something. Could be normal reasons for it, who knows?" Kitsune speculates idly. "They're big boys, they can take care of themselves. Probably."

 

"Or maybe it's some kind of training scenario, and Night Arrow just isn't a very good actor."

 

"Or maaaaybe the Guardians have been telepathically controlled, and the 'missing' ones are the only ones that managed to avoid the mind control, and they're hiding out. And we'll lead the evil mind-melters right to them!"

 

She goes over to peer over Tempest's shoulder at the list, then shrugs.

 

"You sure you wanna fight me? I'd hate for you to lose face in front of all your new friends."

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"The point of the Arena isn't to fight each other, it's to get us accustomed to working with each other, to see how we can work together without putting anyone's lives on the line."  

He knew that she knew that, and all the same he played the straight man to it anyway.  "Now granted, it also serves to be somewhere we can air grievances and settle them if that's really something that's necessary.   I don't think any of us have any reason to have it set up for that though."

He shook his head.  "You don't blow off a call like this,  I certainly can't imagine some of these heroes doing so.   Second, If the guardians were mind controlled, and the missing weren't, that'd mean we were being controlled too.   I've had someone else in my mind before, and I can tell you, that's not happening right now.   Now it could be that those who are missing are being controlled, but it begs the question of why these specific heroes?"  Oddly enough, Tempest's tone was flat, similar to Night Arrow's, he wasn't angry or combative, an actual brainstorming session would be useful.   

"We can guess at what happened all day, but we'll only know once we get to work.   Taking time in the Arena is a good idea, and then we can get right to that."

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With everyone in agreement, The team made their way to the Arena.   It wasn't quite correct to say the Arena was part of the station, though it was only reachable through it.  It was in actuality, a programable dimension, one devoid of life, yet capable of sustaining it.     It had been Discovered by Mainframe decades before, and now served as somewhere they could train without endangering the people they wanted to protect.  Access was regulated, and it wasn't a surprise to find Mainframe there, in what passed as the dimensional control room.  

"Mainframe, it's been awhile."   

Mainframe, clad in a high-tech suit of armor and currently looking at several screens, his hands typing on hard light keyboards.  "I was expecting you, Tempest, and the new team you're on.  I've taken the liberty of setting the exercise to level Five, and of course you know how to raise that, should you all wish it.   The keyword is "Axios."   

"If an emergency arises, you may end things and call for the gate back by saying the Return Key, "Ithaca."

Tempest smiled at the choices, and the elder Hero.  "Always one for the classics."  

"You will have two minutes to take stock of the surroundings, and discuss any potential battle plan.  Should all of you be incapacitated, I will Forcibly Recall you here.  Good Luck."

Tempest nodded, and thanked him, before turning to the Gate, and walking through.  Once everyone had gone through, their communicators set an automatic 2 minute countdown.   looking around, they were on the beach of a tropical island resort, There were people playing in the water in the distance, and they could feel and smell the sea breeze and sand beneath their feet.  Tempest wasn't joking around anymore, and it was easy to see he was taking this seriously.  "Okay, a level five is fairly standard for new team training with experienced heroes.   We should be fine, I'm going to go on overwatch in the air.   Hyper, if you would, I want you to focus on being the ready reserve, I know you're the fastest of us here, it will be your job to get the people to safety to start.   Kitsune, Springboard,  I'd like to know abit more about your abilities first while we have a moment."

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Posted (edited)

Kitsune's porcelain mask grinned widely at that, showing needle-like teeth just inside the painted mouth. The fox tails swishing behind her made little poink noises as they split, then split again, quickly multiplying until nine of them fanned out.

 

"What can I do? What can't I do?"

 

Three tails broke off from her, and smaller versions of Kitsune grew back from their bases to start running around whooping and laughing. Meanwhile the 'main' Kitsune shimmered and zipped from one spot to another, so fast as to leave only an afterimage in her wake. The little ones started summoning little fireballs and hurling them at one another, or blasting at each other with lightning bolts.

 

"My ability is imagination. The light..." And here a beam of white radiance speared down from on high, spotlighting her. "...and the dark."

 

Terrifying dark clouds crawled through the air over the 'resort' then, crackling with thunder, blotting out the sun and plunging the beach into twilight gloom.

 

She snapped her fingers, and everything was as it had been. Even the L'il Kitsunes were gone.

 

Tempest frowned slightly, feeling as if she might not be taking this seriously enough. "So...duplication? Weather control?"

 

Then her voice came from behind him, and he felt a heat from that direction. On glancing back he spotted Kitsune, with a normal mask and no tails at all. "Actually," she said, "More like distraction and misdirection."

 

Then she spread her hand, and a lance of light shot out to etch a little line in the ground.

 

"Also, lasers," she explained with a chuckle. "You were probably more interested in the lasers."

 

 

Edited by SalmonMax
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"Unlike Kitsune here, my powers are very straightforward and physical in nature. I am very strong, but if you hit me with a physical attack I get stronger. I'm also tough to damage. As for the speed end of things I react a little bit faster than most to changes in the environment like sudden attacks. I do have the capability of great leaps, as well." Springboard says. "I also should make you aware, I am a bit vulnerable to electrical attacks, compared to my usual tough self."

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Tempest nodded.  "OK, so Kitsune, I want you to hide yourself, somewhere near the resort itself, but somewhere you can get away from quickly.   I have a feeling whatever is  coming will come from the sea, but if I'm wrong, you'll be able to react and reposition.   You'll have a good shot to attack with your lasers, or if you need to, create an illusion to confound whatever our opposition ends up being."

He looked to Springboard.  "So, just general physical attacks?  Do they actually need to cause you damage for you to get a benefit?   How long does your increased strength last?"

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"Yup. General physical attacks. Bullets, punches, even car crashes. They don't need to get through my toughness. The benefit lasts a little after the battle I'm involved in." Springboard shrugs, "At least that's what I've figured out so far. Want me to go stand by the water? or do you want me to jump from a central point?" He looks over at Tempest. "Let's hope this works."

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"Alright, that's good to know.  If we knew a set time frame, I'd see about us powering you up abit beforehand, but let's wait and see just what Mainframe's got in store for us."

As everyone took their positions, a cry went up from the civilians.   Dozens of fins broke the surface of the water, angling towards the shore.   Before they could react, two dozen atlantean warriors, or at least reasonable facsimilies of them, complete with blaster spears rose from the water, heading towards Springboard and the people, who had begun to flee in panic.   In seconds they'd cleared the water's edge, onto the sands of the beach.   What was more the people still in the water were being circled by more, larger fins.  The heroes would have to act fast.


Tempest, in the air, was quick to act, electing to use ice over electricity, hurling two ice bolts towards a group of six of the atlanteans.   While they did little initial damage,  they froze all six of them in place up to their shoulders.   "Atlanteans, and they're fast."   He called to his comrades.  "They have light armor, and are vulnerable to cold an electricity.   Protect the people!"   It was an order he was sure he didn't have to give, but it had another effect which he desired.   Several of the advancing warriors he hadn't frozen  turned their blaster staves towards him and loosed a storm of energy bolts, to no avail as he nimbly dodged them all.  He'd drawn a fair amount of attention to himself, knowing Atlanteans were noted headhunters, as that was a sure way to get ahead and gain accolades.
 

Spoiler

time to roll for initiative, and your first actions please.   For ease of reference, these enemies have 50 hp, 10 armor, ACV/DCV 8 and their unarmed attacks do 20 damage, the staff does 35 physical damage and an energy blast from it can do 65 damage, but only every other turn.

pic

68c17c1ec8985f4a304c5abf48c9db3b.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

Springboard leaps into action, literally. He jumps from his current position, heading for one of the leading attackers, aiming for him with a leaping kick. The kick connects, sending the target sprawling back into the water, hitting the sand underneath but rolling with the attack so it didn't knock him down completely. Springboard landed right next to him, looking around at the attackers he was now in the middle of. "Come on, you Atlantean soft shelled crabs. I'm gonna take you down," Springboard growled, trying to get them to focus on him. 

 

Spoiler

Initiative: 15

 

Attack(Jump kick) 13+2d6 = 23

Defense of atlantean 8+2d6 = 16

 

Damage: 10(weapon+Dam mod+ Rush) + 30(superstrength) + ACV(Unarmed) 13 - 20(Armor+Nonpenetrating) = 33 pts of damage(Stun)

 

Edited by Veral
forgot rush attack.
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From her vantage point *HYPER* took in the scene, the Atlantean's coming ashore, Tempest freezing a half dozen and Springboard laying into them with leaps and kicks. She saw immediately that the blasters were a problem, one she could remedy.

 

With a crackle of energy, *HYPER* literally vanished from sight but not sound or feeling. Sand flew, and a knife edged wind tore down the beach, weaving in and out among the Atlantean warriors, leaving another dozen standing staring with astonishment at their now empty hands.

 

Arms full of blast staffs *HYPER*  made a full circle depositing the weapons on the other side of the island, as far away from the bad guys as possible and then back to see what other mischief she could commit.

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