When the heroes of Emerald City fail to protect their citizens, when hope seems lost, fear not for justice strikes...

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An old fashioned heist
So, as a break from checking in on the Black facilities and trying to figure out how to save the world from Affrighter (separately) and Affrighter and Blade (together) and evade Blade (separately) and find out what affrighter is up to (separately).....

And old fashioned heist is kind of refreshing. A rogue SOC agent, bitter about lack of upward mobility and pay scale, has stolen some SOC equipment and gone to ground. He's messed with the computers so it's hard to tell what he took, and activated some old Sentry robots. That's where the real fun started...

Not really. Sincew they''re trying to kill us...
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Bad Blood
It took some doing, but we managed to magically stuff Fearmonger into containment in my ring, temporarily. I was glad to be able to transfer him into a steel chime ball, though -- carrying him around on my finger wasn't comfortable at all.

It did, however, lead to a discovery -- he's apparently drawn to Affrighter, and we can use his "pull" to find Scaryface when the time is right.

On the downside-- we arranged to meet with Blade, to try to plan a way for him to "escort" his brother off planet so they could have their high-powered brawl where no one would get hurt. Seems he's not so concerned with that, he just wants to get to the brawl part as soon as possible. He graciously agreed to try to keep the damage contained to "just" about one-quarter of the world, including the part where our government is. I don't care much for our government, but even so, it wouldn't be a good thing to have it completely gone. Along with the rest of the East coast.

To him, the cost seems minimal. To us, it's unacceptable. But he's not willing to negotiate, and I think he expected us to knuckle under to his superior superiority. Too bad for him we're not great at that. Also, a good thing the "compass" is hidden at home, and not in the base or on my person...

In the end, a fight between us and Blade was only averted by the arrival of Amos, and us fleeing the scene. NOt sure what we're going to do next. Blade knows we have a way to point him right to Affrighter, and he is spoiling for a fight. We can't let them fight here on Earth but he doesn't care. not sure how we're going to pull this one off.....

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they say confession is good for the soul....
Meeting with the Knights was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do, I think. There was a small, cowardly part of me that really wished we could talk DD out of doing this, just let it go. What they didn’t know couldn’t hurt them, right? Or us? But… I understand that she needed this, even if it went badly. Still, it was hard to be welcomed into their headquarters and treated like guests, knowing what we’d come to say, and how it was likely to go down.

Once again, we have broken something that can’t be fixed or replaced, and this was just acknowledgement of that. And yet, it was, in a way, the most quietly heroic thing I have ever seen anyone do. Own up to a pretty big wrong and wait for the victims to decide what to do about it. Accepting whatever they decided was the right response.

The fallout was as bad emotionally as I had imagined, but not unexpected, except that I had not forseen DragonEye quitting. I suppose I could understand that: his friends were refusing to press charges (which was actually better than I had dared to hope for), and he felt that they weren’t taking his pain and loss into account. And from what happened later, when he stopped by our headquarters, he may never get over this. He’s so bitter and angry, so different from who he was… He’ll be waiting to pounce on our first mistake, so sure we’re going to screw up, or go back to being bad guys. Even though the event happened before we … changed.

Can’t dwell on it, we can’t fix it. We have to move on and try to be the better people we keep saying we are. Even when It isn’t easy – we’ll always be held to a higher standard, and even a small slip or mistake will be seen as a major (and deliberate) breach of trust, or a sign that we’re still working a long con. It’s a lot of pressure…

So, onward. What to do with baby Tara – one issue to resolve. And the question of transportation, beyond my car, I guess.

And… what about Matteo? He’s clearly interested in spending time with me. He hasn’t been reserved about that at all. Since things are fairly quiet and I need to get out of my own head for a while, it might be time to see the city from a tourist’s point of view. Time to deal with the bigger issues later.

And maybe I should talk to him about DD – if this is hurting me as much as it does, I have to wonder how she is feeling about all of it. She and Halcyon are so close, but there’s been some strain lately between them. And Zephyr is always off doing her own thing, and so is Golden Gloves. Having Matteo around has made me aware of one thing – I think I’m a little bit lonely, and I wonder if the others feel it, too. We aren’t any of us very good at sharing – we all feel like it makes us too vulnerable, maybe.

But we all trust each other to look out for us in a fight, so I guess that’s what’s important…
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How did we get HERE?
A lot of things have happened pretty quickly. The SOC collapsed in on itself, after Affighter had basically infiltrated it, ad we took out his agents /s. We called in Starkey, as at least having been clear of Black/White's influence, and he seemed less than optimal for taking over. Lupo showed up.... and we went on a mad dash to retrieve sensitive data before it could fall into the wrong hands -- whoever that might be. In the end, it comes down to trusting Lupo, which I do, weirdly enough.

Then came the unexpected twist. He asked us to work for him.

It's going to be interesting.

But first,we have to keep Affrighter and his brother from turning our little blue and green world into a desert like Mars.

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We have gotten so much be...
We have gotten so much better at coordinating our attacks, and it stood us in good stead in our escape from the SOC prison. We had to fight Aces and Skybolt again, and we were running out of time, so taking them down quickly was important. We sprang Mateo and Loki from their helmets, and for a moment there I thought we'd have to fight her to get her to come out. It took some pretty tense negotiations to get her onboard with the plan, and we had to agree to a sacrifice (which I kinda foresaw we'd have to do, since we were dealing with a trickster deity, after all). It dismays me how ready DD is to throw herself on the altar every time; we couldn't let her do that. We're a weird, dysfunctional little family, but we ARE a family, and I'm not going to let any of us just throw our lives away.

We agreed, together, on a price -- what redemption we'd earned, we'd give up. Not any future hope of redemption, just every hard-won scrap we'd scraped up to date as superheroes. I should have figured Loki would find away to... well, Loki her way into twisting it.

She was taking particular pleasure in needling DD and Halcyon... I wonder why?

Well, anyway...

Our next destination was the SOC Center itself -- and it was a nightmare of dead agents. Black and White were waiting for us in the basement, and made the usual villain offer of "join us or die," which we ignored in favor of trying to take them down. Individual attacks did very little good, so we teamed up, and timed our strikes so we all hit them at once, half hitting Black and the other half hitting White. We gave it all we had, I think, and it was just barely enough. But in the end, it WAS enough.

Then it was time for the lynchpins.... and Loki's twisted victory.

She put them into us.

There was a light, and a not-really noise exactly, and pain. And the realization that something had changed, fundamentally, and deeply.

WE now carry the lynchpins of the universe within us. Immeasurable cosmic power, visible to anyone with the right sort of sight. And we can't touch any of it.

Not that anyone will ever believe that. Or believe that the power won't corrupt us.

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