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DR: Tropical Stormers

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  October 26 - 27th, 2019
Marama, Cook Islands

Marama Island.png

The suggestion of a Stormer get-together had been an off-the-cuff remark by Davian in a meeting about how to market Nova Solutions as a corporation to work for. Ideas were bandied around and finally Davian laughed and threw out, "Well, it's October. We could throw a Halloween Stormers party." He should have known better. Ryan should have stopped him - teleported him out of the room or to another continent before the words escaped his lips. But he didn't and Deezy heard them and now Davian was making invitations and arrangements after convincing his father to let him use the private island they owned in the Cook Islands. 

Deezy and Ryan were responsible for getting the physical invites out, but Nova Solutions also made a press release (using Layton Industries media arm for now) inviting "all Stormers, regardless of nationality" to the Nova Solutions Halloween Storm Bash on October 26th and 27th. The island was in three parts, with the largest speck of land hosting an amazing stretch of beach with the sprawling beach house nestled just under the canopy of palm trees towards the center of the island. Cabana were set up along the beach along with a large tent home to a massive buffet. Everything was festooned in Halloween - spiders, skeletons, witches, zombies, and ghosts peaking out from every corner; candy apples, mummied sausages, and smoking punch bowls with witch's brew were tucked in with dozens of other Halloween'd gourmet foods. Inside the house, bowls of candy were scattered around, cobwebs dripped over the ornate surfaces and the servants were dressed like dancers from Michael Jackson's Thriller. 

Davian was dressed in sandals, a simple Grecian toga with gold braiding, and a laurel crown around his head; he looked every inch the young godling he was honestly raised to be. We've got real gods, now, he though ruefully to himself and chuckled. No more pretend. As the first guests began arriving through Ryan's portals, he effortlessly took up the duties of host, greeting and making people feel at ease while also making a mental list of just who all actually did decide to show up.  "Welcome, everyone! Happy Halloween!"

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whrrr-CLUNK....whrrr-CLUNK

Heavy footsteps came from behind Davian as his fellow party-host stepped up.

Deezy had been working on her costume for several days straight, and hadn't let Davian see it while it was under construction. During the Storm, her powers had apparently been heightened...building things like this now required several stages of work. Creating the 'solid pieces' separately, then assembling them via more conventional techniques. The results however, were still impressive.

She was clad in a large suit of armor, one that added three or four feet of height to her, and another foot or two of broadness across the shoulders. It whirred hydraulically when she took steps, or moved the oversized arms around, so there had to be some kind of mechanical system in there. Operating the suit looked like it took some physical effort too, considering the sweat trickling down her brow. The entire thing was black steel plates formed into a full suit of armor, and some kind of complicated backpack that looked like it had rockets in it. It was bedecked in ornamentation; red cloth sashes and swathes, insignia and accessories.

Then Deezy had bleached her hair white...or maybe it was a wig, Davian wasn't 100% clear on that... and cut it short into a bowl, given herself a bit of makeup to make a 'scar' over her left eye, and drawn a cross on her right cheek. The whole ensemble was rounded off by two comically oversized guns that were far too big for human hands, but fit quite well in the gauntlets of her suit.

"Halloween?!" she boomed...the suit seemed to have a loudspeaker secreted away in it somewhere. "SOUNDS LIKE HERESY!"

With that Deezy lifted her mecha-arms up and howled in delight as the guns bucked and kicked, spewing flames and...god, hopefully not projectiles...up into the air.

"CELEBRATE FOR THE EMPEROR!!"

Maybe, he couldn't help thinking, some ground rules would be good to establish for the next costume party.

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A Warpgate opened and Ryan exited just to Davian's other side, Just in time for Deezy's proclamation, and the thunder of the guns and muzzleflames.  He pulled Davian aside quickly out of reflex, interposing himself between the two more out of habit than anything else.

His mind and senses quickly reassured him that it was all just effects, and he relaxed and sighed.  "Holy crap, you're one of those crazy Cosplay girls aren't you Deezy?"

He looked sidelong to Davian, and the two older men shared a knowing look.   "Still I gotta admit, it does look great. I bet it probably all works too, doesn't it?"   She'd created a veritable power armor just for a costume party, the level of crazy that hinted at wasn't lost on him.  

At least they were on the same side, right?  By comparisson, his own costume was more sedate, and probably just as obscure in the modern age.   He was dressed as the original comics version of Nick Fury, complete with an eyepatch.  it was the version he'd grown up with and while he liked the MCU version for Samuel L.  JJackson, it just wasn't the same to him.

1265164-99_secret_warriors_20.jpg

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Deezy laughed at the charge of cosplay and waved at Ryan.

"Says the guy in a costume! Hell YEAH it works! ...kinda."

She struggled for a moment in the metal carapace, then got her foot back in the little lever armature that let it control the suit's leg, letting her adjust the suit's balance.

"It's not really comfortable! And it's slow! I think hydraulics were not the way to go with it, but I kinda needed to see it work before I figured that out and by then it was too late to start over so I just WENT WITH IT."

"Besides it doesn't have to be combat-spec, you know? It's all in fun here. Once we get more people I'll show off the Death Blossom!"

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"You're joking."  Steve 'Einherjar' Nord, Colour Sergeant formerly in Her Majesty's Royal Marines and currently in Her Special Air Service, stared at Sir Cecil with a mixture of amusement and disbelief.  At least at first - the amusement was fading somewhat as he realized that, yes, indeed, Sir Cecil was serious.  Over by the patio window, Kyria hid her grin by staring out at the grey, dismal October day.  England had some lovely countryside, but all those lush green hills seemed to require a lot of work with the sprinkler, so to speak.  Summer this year had been a case of 'blink and miss it'.

"It's a golden opportunity: most of the Stormers in the free world will be there, and possibly some from other nations too, using the occasion to do a little recruiting and scouting of their own."  Sir Cecil was 'the man from the Ministry'.  Officially he was a mid-level bureaucrat in the M.O.D, but unofficially he was the British government's man in charge of all Stormer related matters.  He oversaw the collection and analysis of intel, made sure briefings were read by senior military staff as, well as by the Prime Minister, and spent a lot of time getting to personally know the U.K's small selection of Storm-enhanced.  Word was that there was going to be an official 'Department of Enhanced Affairs' or some such, and when it was set up, Sir Cecil would be in charge of it.

He preferred a light touch - treating people with courtesy and dignity.  Technically, he could order Steve to attend the party, or at least arrange for orders to be so issued.  But for a bureaucrat Sir Cecil was a definite people person, presenting himself as a reasonable sage advisor whom it would be wise to heed, rather than a martinet who expected his orders to be treated as the word of God.  A lifetime of dealing with powerful, often mercurial people in the corridors of power translated well when it came to dealing with really powerful, often mercurial Stormers.  Steve and Kyria liked him - Kyria jokingly calling him 'Uncle Cecil', which the Man from the Ministry took in good humor.

"Hmm."  Steve sat back in his chair, regarding the briefing paper and the invite that had arrived, courtesy of the Home Office.  Kyria, being a private citizen, was free to come and go as she pleased.  Steve on the other hand, being both a serving soldier and currently a focus of international concern due to the scope of his abilities, was somewhat more restricted.  "Says here it's private land?"  he looked up at Cecil, who nodded as he sipped his tea.  Like most of their informal briefings, this was being conducted as a simple Sunday afternoon visit for a cup of tea and a chat at the pair's house on Hereford base.

"Exactly.  The Cook Islands are loosely tied to New Zealand, but this particular bit is owned lock, stock and barrel by private interests.  Nobody to get irate about a living WMD wandering around inside their national borders.  You've even been personally invited by this Davian fellow."  Cecil explained as Kyria came over from the window and draped herself on the arm of Steve's chair, leaning on him as she peered at the satellite picture.

"Looks sunny."  she said with only a faint emphasis on the second word, but Steve glanced up at her with a slight smile, then shrugged as he looked back at Cecil.

"Might as well save myself argument.  I'm outgunned."  he said with a grin.  Kyria nodded, affecting a sober expression, then kissed him on the cheek as Cecil smiled.

"Excellent.  I'll send word to this Nova Solutions and arrange a time and place for your 'lift' - that teleporter fellow I believe will be doing the honours.  Have fun, get to know your fellow Enhanced, and get some Pacific sunshine in October.  I'm rather jealous."  Sir Cecil smiled as he gathered his briefcase and coat, shaking hands before leaving.  Steve and Kyria saw him out, then wandered back into the lounge.

"What the hell am I going to wear to a sodding costume party?"  Steve asked, almost plaintively.  Kyria grinned as she hooked her arms around his neck.

"It's a private island.  I guess you can wear what you like.  Or not wear what you like."  she teased, waggling her eyebrows.  'Einherjar' snorted, giving her a kiss.

"That's all I need - some Stormer's cellphone video of me starkers on the internet to go along with the half-naked ice monster footage."

"I still think you should do that Playgirl photoshoot."  Kyria giggled.  "If you're worried about it affecting field work, you could wear a balaclava and nothing else.  Trust me, they won't be looking at your face- Eep!" she squeaked as Steve smacked her backside firmly.  She pouted, theatrically rubbing her rump.  "Big bully." she said accusingly, then gave him a shark-like grin.  "Got another one in ya?"

"Focus, we've got work to do."  Steve said, affecting an aloof demeanour.  "Can't have Einherjar and Valkyrie showing up in shitty costumes.  And anything viking related is out - I'm not sweating my bollocks off in leather, fur and chainmail in a Pacific summer."

"Zombies?"  Kyria suggested, bouncing up and down on her toes as her arms went back around his neck.  "Vampires?  Vampire zombies?"  Steve sighed and picked her up, heading towards the bedroom.  "Wait, what are we doing now?"

"Searching for inspiration."  Steve rumbled as he carried her down the hallway.

"Really?  Feels like you're inspired in all the wrong ways, Mr 'We've got work to do'."  The lovely redhead made a half-hearted attempt at struggling.  "Help!  Oh help!  A big brute is carrying me off to have his wicked way with me-  Oh!  I've got it!  Pirates!"

Steve stopped, considering for a moment, then nodding.  "Yeah, that'll work.  Good pirate costumes, though.  No 'pirate stripper' costumes."

"Oh, it'll be awesome."  Kyria grinned ear to ear, then poked Steve in the chest.  "Now keep moving."

"But we've got the inspiration now."  Steve deadpanned.  "Wouldn't you rather have a nice cup of tea?"  A pair of surprisingly strong hands grabbed him either side of his head as the slim woman squirmed around so her legs were now scissored around his waist, her deep blue eyes looking into his glowing pale blue ones.

"No."  Kyria growled, not-quite-playfully.  "I would not."

===========

Right on time, Davian thought to himself as, ears still ringing from Deezy’s concussive display of pyrotechnics, he turned to see Ryan’s portal to Hereford, England open… and disgorge a pair of pirates.

Not cheap, thrift store pirates, or slutty bikini pirates, or ‘pirate-like’ costumes.  Nope.  Pirates, a villainous rough-looking pair indeed, though Kyria’s beaming smile at the sight of new people (and, let’s face it, Deezy’s costume) did a good job of reassuring Davian that this pirate lady, whilst she might cheat at cards, probably wouldn’t set fire to the place afterwards or stab too many people on the way out.  Brown tricorne hat, a russet-coloured coat with a dark red shirt beneath, and well-fitted brown leather pants tucked into knee-high boots were finished off with a baldric from which dangled a sword and pistol.  With her flaming red hair loose under the hat and her blue eyes sparkling with mirth and excitement, she was a sight to behold.

As was her companion, dressed in a long crimson-lined blue naval coat which looked, from the bloody hole over one breast, as though the wearer had liked the look of it so much they’d murdered the poor previous owner.  Under that grim, stained garment a white shirt was worn under a short jacket adorned with three braces of flintlock pistols, mounted cross-draw fashion down Steve’s broad torso.  Crimson pantaloons were tucked into fold-topped boots, and a baldric similar to Kyria’s supported a sword that was more butcher’s cleaver than elegant rapier, as though someone had taken a broadsword, roughly hewn a foot from the blade, then stuck it on a basket hilt meant for a different type of blade altogether.  Whereas Kyria’s outfit was mostly clean, as though this was her first cruise on the high seas for plunder and booty, Steve’s outfit was smoke-stained, patched, spotted with what could only be hoped was fake bloodstains, and altogether terrifying.  This pirate, in contrast to Kyria’s, would not only casually staple card cheats to the table, he’d then pillage, plunder and set fire to everything around him before carrying off any women who hadn’t already run away.

A black bandana was tied over Steve’s head, from under which his faintly glowing electric-blue eyes squinted in the Pacific sunshine, taking in their surroundings at a glance before regarding Davian, Deezy and Ryan with a friendly nod.

“This’d be the party, then.”  he said to no-one in particular, grinning at the three Nova Solutions people.  “Steve Nord, this is Kyria Stormborn.”  He rested the heel of his left hand on the hilt of his bastardised cutlass as he offered a lazy touch of his forelock to them in salute.  “Permission to come ashore?”

 

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Ryan had just been smiling at Deezy, and shrugged.  "I think Davian has the best idea, the better to enjoy the water at any rate, and the fact this is a tropical island."  he answered, before his set timer went off, to open a portal for the next set of guests.  When the Pirate duo came through, it was Davian who answered them.  "Permission granted.    Welcome to the party."  He smiled warmly glad to see a couple more normal costumes.  

"We're your hosts, I'm Davian Layton, This is Deezy Klatta.."  he indicated the redhead in armor  "And this is Ryan Hawke."  he indicated the slightly older gentleman who was standing there, and who had opened the gateway that brought them there.  

Ryan smiled at them.  "Those are some pretty authentic looking costumes.  You two look great."  He looked to Davian.  "I imagine the contest will be pretty intense."

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"You really planning on covering your face?" Donald asked Renata. The two had received invites to the big Stormer party, courtesy of Deezy and Ryan. The two had pointed out to their hosts that they would be coming together, since they lived close by. Saved a teleport for good measure. Right now, the two discussed costumes, and Renata seemed to be thinking about a ninja.

"Yeah," was her immediate reply. She glanced over at him quizzically. "It's a costume party. Besides, I'm still trying to keep this whole Stormer thing at arms length from the rest of my life."

Donald, restrained the urge to ask what life? He'd happened to remember Renata a couple weeks ago, at the park describing her life as "just reading books and listening to lectures and kind of dying inside." But also he then remembered the issues she'd mentioned as a senator's daughter and acknowledged Ren had a point here. Still, Donald thought his friend needed some guiding towards pepping up her life. And having looked into ninjutsu when he'd been in Japan, was discouraged to learn about how all the popular media images didn't match up with reality. "Ok, but you need something better." That's when he got the inspiration. "I'm going as a Jedi, you should be Darth Vader, or some other Sith. I mean, you have the Force!"

Renata rolled her eyes. "You know, I only saw those movies once each, and I wasn't even paying attention. But even with that, I know I can't afford a Darth Vader costume. My family's loaded, but I'm not, and I'm also not asking Dad to cover a Halloween costume. Besides, I don't have a glowy sword thing, so...isn't that the whole point?"

Donald shrugged. "I am loaded, so I can buy both for you. Does that work?" She grimaced. "A big full suit thing like that seems like it'd be really hot too...and...I dunno. Darth Vader. Do they even MAKE costumes for him to fit women?"

"Yeah, we're going to a tropical island." Donald reconsidered. "I'm sure I can google 'Sith costumes' and come up with a good one for you."
 
"Uuughh...I don't even know what 'sith' means," sighed Renata, rocking her head back to scowl theatrically at the ceiling. Then she scooted over next to Donald so she could see his computer screen. "Okay, do it. Lets see what hot pot of nerdery I'm getting dunked into."
 
===========
 
The next portal flared to life, and the next pair came through. The first wore a long black hooded robe with a gray mask covering her face. The second had on an oddly cut black suit of sorts. After a moment, those with a head for sci-fi realized it was the Luke Skywalker outfit from Return of the Jedi. Deezy and Ryan recognized Donald, with a smile that definitely fit the style of Luke.
 
"Deezy, Ryan! I heard you went corporate, but your own island? Nice." Then his eyes widened as he took in Steve and Kyria. "England's Einherjar and Valkyrie." A tad of awe, because they'd taken down a literal frost giant. Made fighting a bunch of zombies seem paltry. "I'm Donald Wallace, and this is..." He gave Renata a sudden wry look. "Actually, should I just call you Ski Mask?"

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After Superboy shattered the rock and all illusions that things were ever going to be the same again, Emily had gone back tot he same old do what your told and speak when spoken too like she had been at the Academy. Luckily that didn't last much longer.

When it was time to go, she knew that home to her family was not where she wanted to go, she still couldn't bring herself to face the disappointment from her grandfather, the Admiral. But neither could she face returning to Hawaii, not yet, she needed to unwind and come to terms with … this, on her own first. So she took the 'Witsec' offer at least for the time being.

Emily ended up in Santa Monica, she needed to be near the ocean, it had always been a part of her life and being in the desert, if it did anything at all, it drove that home.

She spent a couple of weeks just wandering around and hanging out on the beaches up and down the California coast and it was there she discovered a new change that ht storm had wrought.

She was swimming off of Catalina when a pair of dolphins started swimming around her. The frolicking twosome filled her with joy as they played with each other and her and she joined in. Suddenly without ever realizing it Emily became aware that she was deep underwater and had been for a very long time. She had lost track of, well everything except her new friends, and now she found herself underwater at a depth way beyond what a human should be able to dive unassisted, and on top of that she wasn't drowning. She wasn't exactly breathing either, it was as if the oxygen she needed was being absorbed directly from the water. And while she should have been almost blind at that depth she could see still as if her eyes had some how amplified the meager light available. It was all very strange and captivating and life changing. She belonged here in the ocean and she knew that with all her being.

 

A few days later she returned to Pearl with the intention of picking up the pieces of her interrupted life. She had powers and abilities that she could put to use and NOAA was a good place to start. Soon after that the party was announced. At first Emily was going to skip that whole scene but it kept nagging at her that she had made a less than stellar impression and in the end that is what decided the matter.

 

The Party

 

Thank god for schedules.

The surf was ever present as the background noise between songs and conversations. Ryan was the busiest Stormer there, having to open portals around the world and everything was scheduled rather tightly. He had been surprised when he had received a text from Emily a couple of days earlier asking for when the best time to arrive at the party would be. She had said she was looking at arriving some time in the middle of the arrivals you know not too early not too late. He gave her an idea of when that would be and she told him she would get back to him with a time for when she would need a lift. She hadn't though and Ryan, busy as he had been, simply forgot about it. Until now'

The surf drew back from the beach as the water was pulled into a monstrous wave which rose and rose almost fifty feet up into the air And there at the waves pinnacle was a figure riding on the backs of two dolphins made of animated water

Emily dressed as a gender-bent Aquaman complete with trident and tattoos made an entrance.

stunning-female-aquaman-cosplay.jpg

 

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nxwgDBr.jpgRenata frowned at Don's question, realizing belatedly she hadn't even thought of that before.

"How about just Mask," she suggests. "That's a thing, right? Darth Mask? Darth...ess Mask. Whatever, just Mask."

She had really flexed her powers for the costume. The actual clothing part of it was pretty simple. Baggy black pants with a black sash...a sort of black bustier top that went into big black shoulders. Some of it improvised, some bought online. The hard part of the costume would have been the makup, but Renata had used her power over her body to deepen her skin tone to an angry red, mottled with dark grey. She'd even gotten a sidecut hairstyle for it and altered the pigment in her eyes to a bright yellow...trusting the different hair and coloration to provide adequate disguise. And of course, she'd discovered she could alter the proportions of her body as well, giving herself the bust and abs to pull off the look.

She gave the hosts an acknowledging nod and glanced at the rather extensive preparations being made in the backgrounds.

"Looks like quite a thing you're planning for," Ren remarked. At that point her eyes grazed over the hot pirate girl and the scantily clad, uh...mermaid? Whatever she was, she was hot. "Definitely glad I let Luke Starwalker rope me into coming."

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Ryan chuckled at Donald's comment.  "We're our own bosses, and there's lots of other perks.   We can talk about all that later if you like.  No need to mix business with fun just yet."  He gave a knowing smile as Donald moved on to fanboying abit over Einherjar and Valkyrie.   He'd seen the released footage, and it was damn impressive.  He was glad they'd come as well, if only to connect with other Stormers.  There weren't so many of them out there.

"And that ladies and gentlemen, is how you make an entrance."   Ryan said softly, as Emily showed up.   Normally he wasn't one for gender-bent costumes, but he had to admit, She certainly pulled it off, and given her abilities, he thought it pretty fitting as well. 

"No wonder you never called me back, you have it all under control."   She smiled coyly at him and  he was grinning widely  "You look great Emily."

"I need a drink."   

Ryan nodded  "Sure thing, come on, I'll get you fixed up and then I can introduce you to everyone."  

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This was a dumb idea.  Why would you have a costume party on the shores of a sunny, sandy beach in ninety degree tropical weather?  He'd rather be swimming than dressed up.  Rich people made no sense.  Sebastian had been such a nice kid growing up in Shelby, Montana, until the storm came and imbued him with powers he never asked for.  Since then he'd been imprisoned by the government, and essentially told that because he didn't stop to cover his face up before putting the lives of others before himself, that his options were essentially 'go into witness protection and up root your life', or 'eff off'.  He was a minor and didn't have any real say, it fell to his parents who the government did a real number on with professional HUMINTers that preyed on their fears and worries and spun it all into an 'it's in the best interest of everybody' tear line that took Sebastian from his friends, his home... and that's how they lost the family Ranch that had been in their family for four generations.

All because he didn't cover his face when saving lives?

He'd never felt power like what he did when he smashed that pillar of stone.  It was incredible.  It opened his eyes to the reality of the world... it was a weak, frail place that needed guidance and stricter, less corruptible leadership.  He was growing more powerful by the day and one day he would deliver a simple message to the world: join under his protection, or eff off.  It would even come with a clean to read tear line on why it would be in the best interest of everybody.

His costume was simple.  Jeans, combat boots, and a black t-shirt with a red 'S' on it.  Now all he had to do was mingle and learn how exactly this company was going to put all the super powered under one roof.  As far as ideas went, it was a great one... it was the mingling he was having a problem with.  He'd arrived through a portal like everyone else, something he still wasn't okay with traveling through, but he'd accepted the invite, and felt obligated to show up.  He'd stepped through and didn't greet anybody, he just kept walking until he found a quiet spot on the beach and sat down under a tree and looked out over the ocean.

It was arrivals time.  Everyone had to show up and show out.  He'd wait until later to see what this Davian guy could do to help him get his family's home back and help him topple all the people that had a hand in taking it away from him.  There was no more Sebastian.  He was pushed aside to make room for Bastion.  Someone with power who could make people understand the basic principals of human decency and kindness.  If people didn't want to act like human beings, then he would treat them like rabid animals.  Like a certain Colonel that came to mind.

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"Nice to meet you Donald - and it's just Steve the pirate today."  the tall man with the desert tan and the irises that softly glowed as though backlit by lightning said to Donald with self-deprecating grin, offering a hand for the younger man to shake.  "'Einherjar' is a name I'm still not used to.  It's like a new pair of boots - pinches and chafes."  He shook hands in a casually brisk way, one-and-done, then turned to 'Darth Mask', smiling amiably.

"You could always go posh - end it with a q-u-e and call yourself 'Masque'." he said to the Sith Lady, offering her a hand in turn.  He radiated a laid-back, just-plain-folks ease which was a contrast to the lightning-wreathed figure that had been seen fighting a giant ice monster or the stern, businesslike pictures of him in military fatigues that had adorned the media for the last couple months.  He stepped back as Kyria introduced herself, turning to shake Davian and Ryan's hands and the end of one of Deezy's makeshift bolters, then grinned as Aquama'am made her entrance.  Showy, but the fun kind he mused, studying the water-controller.  Some of these people he'd read files on - those that had files at least.  Others were very much mysteries.

Like the young man who'd stepped through a portal then stalked off down the beach.  Steve had been around the block once or twice, and had been a young man himself once.  That youth (he disliked the term 'kid') had the look of someone who wanted to be here - for whatever reason - but wasn't sure how to proceed, especially in a crowd of adult superhumans all being fah-bulous.  Steve could relate: the Palace had been more a proud moment than an uncomfortable one for him - after all, meeting one's sovereign as she praised his valor was pretty much on the bucket list for most serving members of Her Majesty's Forces.  But the swanky parties were a little much for a man who was, at heart, more of a 'beer with his mates' sort than a 'stand around seeing and being seen' sort of guy. 

Even Kyria, social butterfly and people person though she was, had found the London party scene to be overmuch at times, so she'd been happy enough to come with Steve to Portsmouth to sit and have a drink with some of his old unit - who naturally were charmed by her and loudly proclaimed that she was too good for Steve and must have taken a knock on the noggin during the ice giant fight.  That night had gotten a little raucous, and Kyria had learned the lyrics to songs with catchy tunes but that were best not sung in polite company (like all the best soldier's songs), and had been adopted as somewhat of an unofficial mascot by the Commandos.

Now, though, she was excitedly greeting all the new Stormer faces, so Steve quietly ambled off towards where his keen nostrils detected food and drink.

= = = = = =

Sebastian was staring out over the ocean, his back to the palm tree and eyes squinting against the sunlight on the waves when he became aware of the soft sound of someone walking on sand nearby.  He glanced up just as the large figure in outlandish pirate garb settled down a few feet away with a sigh, heedless of the sand getting on the fancy long coat, and also looked out over the view.

"It's a lot, isn't it?"  the pirate with lightning eyes said quietly, holding out a hand with two still-capped bottles cold enough to be dripping condensation down their sides to the young brooder.  "Wasn't sure what your poison was, so I brought a Coke and a root beer.  You choose: I'm good with either."

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"Coke is fine, thank you." Sebastian said politely.  He had no idea who this guy was, but the eyes were kinda cool.  He'd seen him on television a few times, but his life was too busy getting up ended for him to concern himself with who the latest celebrities were.  He had a vague recollection of some of the news feeds.  "You're...  Weather Man, right?"

He flicked the cap of his coke with his thump like it was it was a movie prop bottle.  "I'm Bastion.  What brings you by?  Party is over there." He nodded back the attractive women, the music and festivities.

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"Steve."  the other man said with a smile, twisting the cap off his root beer, then clinking the bottle against Bastion's.  "Though I'm going to consider asking them to change my callsign to Weatherman now."  He took a pull on his drink, staring out at the ocean.

"As for why I'm here - you look like a lad with a lot on his mind who turned up to a Halloween party just to sit down the beach.  I can understand that a bit - all that back there is a lot of noise, excitement, people with powers and strange red-skinned half-naked birds and a crazy-eyed girl in powered armor..."

"And pirates."  Bastion said with a hint of a smile.  Steve nodded sagely, raising his bottle in acknowledgement.

"And pirates.  And it's a lot, like I said.  You seem a bit like me - sort of bloke who prefers to sit quietly most of the time with a friend or two, but you don't really know anyone here.  I've been at plenty of shindigs where that's the case."  Steve took another drink.  "So now you know me.  At least enough to sit and drink without a lot of fussing about.  Or you can say 'Ta, but nah, Steve.  I'm good by myself, off you toddle'. And no harm will be done."

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"The government hasn't gotten around to officially changing my name yet, so, Bastion is all I care to be.  Since nothing can hurt me, it fit."  Had Steve met him not long ago he would have seen, like Emily, a boy with all manner of innocence and joy in his eyes.  Today, there was nothing.  Hate wafted from the boy like... a fog, thick and heavy.  "My family raised horses, Mr. Steve.  Six generations.  For four of those generations we owned our own ranch.  Been raising horses their whole life, my parents have, don't know know nothing else.  Not any more.  Suits came and collected us us, made my ma and pa so worried and scared over my new abilities that they signed our lives over for protection and a new life."

"Six generations."  He said again, sipping his Coke.  "I was going to the seventh, teach my kids how to raise fine stallions and beautiful mares.  So now, there's a whole company of us.  Gonna go make a lot of money whoring ourselves out for popularity and profits.  I have to make the money now, Mr. Steve.  Ma and Pa don't know nothing else but raising horses."

"You was kind enough to bring a drink, Mr. Steve.  Least I can do is offer you my company, or what little of it I have to offer."

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"Tch."  The older man shook his head slightly.  "Trust the Yanks to overreact in a crisis."  His smile was good-natured, his tone dryly humorous.  He regarded the muscular youth then, his smile fading a little.  "I'm sorry about your farm, Bastion.  That's a bloody mischief, and no mistake.  My mum's side of the family are dairy farmers up in Somerset - cheese country - and they've been doing that a long time too.  Used to go spend school breaks up there helping out - and I tell you, I wish they were horses.  Bloody cows are quarter as smart and twice as stubborn."

"As for whoring... Yeah.  I guess that is a way to look at it." Steve said with the air of a man considering the word.  "I'm not here for that.  I've already got a job, though I'm pretty sure Queen and Country have no bleedin' clue what to do with me.  I'm just here to meet folks and see what this Nova Corp thingy is all about."

He sat quietly for a few minutes, then an idea apparently occurred to him.  "You'd think the sodding U.S. government could have set your folks up on another horse ranch somewhere.  I mean, it's not the same as the old family steading, but it's something at least.  I dunno, but if anyone tried that shit back home there'd have been merry hell to pay."  He shook his head.  "How did they get to your folks?  Spun them some nightmare scenario?"

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"Sure did."  He tipped his bottle up.  "Media frenzy, 'it's in everyone's best interest', 'think about his future'.  The Colonel already didn't like me, I kinda carried a large boulders and set them infront of and behind his car so he couldn't leave.  Figured it was only fair.  If he was gonna hold me like a prisoner, no harm in him hanging out too.  It's amazing how angry people get when you treat them the same way they're treating you."  He shrugged.

"Anyway, yeah.  He had them prey on the paranoia and knowing I was a minor, that I had no say of my own anyway."  He sighed, looking out over the horizon.  "Don't really make no sense to me though.  Human laws are for humans.  No human can do what I can do, so I ain't human no more, so why do they think their laws apply to me?"

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"Society's laws are for society."  Steve said after a few moments reflection.  "Don't know about 'human', but right now 'society' consists of whatever social group you want to be with."

"F'r instance, I'm a soldier.  Was one for well over a decade before the Storm.  When I joined the Royal Marines, I agreed to abide by the rules of that society, which themselves exist within and apart from wider society."  He took a long drink, then belched impressively.  "'Scuse me.  Soda always gives me the wind.  Anyway - Civvies don't have to abide by the laws I have to, like not talking to journalists without several layers of authorisation, and in some cases I don't abide by the laws they have to: for example, if you work in a bank it's generally not considered a legal defense to kill someone just because your boss tells you to."

"Now it sounds to me-" he pointed a finger of the hand holding his bottle at Bastion.  "That you got screwed over.  Your folks got screwed over.  So now you're looking at your old society, reading the fine print and thinking 'what's in it for me?' and 'why should I play fair if they don't?'  Which are both reasonable questions, no doubt.  And questions most men ask themselves sooner or later.  You've got to add the third question, though:  'What society do I want to be part of, if any?'"  The friendly, weather-tanned features were sober as they regarded Bastion.

"So what it really boils down to is 'What do I want to do and who do I want to be?'  If you want to raise horses, then look at what steps you need to take to do that, and make it happen.  Want your folks to get their life back?  You can't throw rocks at that problem, but you can figure out how to make it happen.  Me?  I'm looking to try and help people out while serving my country.  There's monsters out there in the wild places, once people like you and me who went crazy with the power on the night of the Storm and ain't coming back.  There's cities in ruins, people without clean water or infrastructure.  There's countries like goddamn China who are likely press-ganging every Stormer in their borders to weaponise them for the Glorious People's Army.  At which point they'll likely start flexing..."  Steve frowned, staring at the ocean and taking another swig of root beer.  "The world's in a shit state - the first thing blokes who can move mountains or summon hurricanes need to do is try and not make it worse for everyone."

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"That's kinda what I was thinking, Mr. Steve."  He tipped his bottle up and took another swig.  "Too many societies.   To many rules.  Too many people in power abusing their power with no one to keep them in line.  If there was just on society.  One set of rules, and one person to keep them in check, the world would be a far more fairer place."

"Been thinking a lot about my condition.  On how the storm evolved us.  We're not human anymore.  Humans, they're destructive, wasteful, they're don't contribute anything to the ecosystems they dwell in.  They consume, destroy, and consume.  They're parasites and Earth is their host."  His joyless eyes looked out over the horizon as he shrugged.  "A stronger species could do the world a favor by removing them, but weren't any, until now.  Just a thought."

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"Does that apply to your parents? Mine?  Your friends and their parents?"  Steve replied soberly.  "Who decides?  What happens when some Stormer as strong as you gets pissed because you killed his favorite mundane humans and returns the favour?"  When Bastion didn't immediately answer, Steve sighed.

"Simple solutions are for simple problems.  Trying to solve complex human problems with simple solutions is how the worst shit in the world's history gets started.  Take a look at the last century.  It all starts with 'Wouldn't it be great if everyone did what they were told for the greater good' and ends up with concentration camps, genocide and gulags."  Glowing blue eyes stared at the surf.  "Strikes me that if you want to build something better than humanity did, you can start by avoiding the same daft mistakes.  Make brand new ones, for a start.  Be better, not just stronger."  He was silent for a long moment.

"I've been thinking a lot about that myself.  Maybe I shouldn't be answering to a government, either.  I'm watching my people right now, watching them like a bloody hawk for any sign they're going to try and use me as a WMD for some bullshit political end.  The Storm changed my life too - can't just think like a Bootneck."  He glanced at Bastion again, sympathy in his tone.  "You've had it rough.  Don't let that define you, or that arsefaced Colonel might die, but he'll die being right.  And arsefaced Colonels don't deserve to be right.  They talk a lot of shit about Stormers, but even if we're not human, we're still people too.  Losing sight of that would be sad."

The tall soldier stood, stretching a little, then looked back up the beach a moment before regarding the younger man.  "I'm going to go and mingle with that crazy mob up there.  Could use a solid man on my left to make sure that loon in the powered armor doesn't step on my feet."  he said with a grin.  "Want to tag along?"

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Emily had laughed a flirted with Ryan (even though he was probably old enough to be her dad) while he showed her to the bar.

Ah the bar it was fucking enormously well stocked and she saw all her favorites and man did she have some favorites. She watch the supers coming and going and talked with a could exchanging names then she saw Superboy come stalking in from the beach where Ryan was still doing his thing. Sh watched him sort of slink off by himself and then say the Thor lookalike head after him. She leaned back against the bar for a few more minutes then turned to the bartender. "Hey can I have that unopened bottle of Patrone and three shot glasses?"

The bartender smiled and set the bottle and glasses in front of her. "Anything else Ma'am?"

She saw the tip jar and grimaced, she didn't have any cash, instead she gave him a big sexy smile, "Gimme a pen." He obliged and she grabbed a napkin, "What's your name?" 

"Albert, ma'am."

She wrote in big letters 

I owe Albert a very big tip.

 Emily Thompson

Then she folded it up slipped it in his vest pocket grabbed the bottle and glasses and went off after Superboy and Thor.

She wasn't the stealthiest in the land and they herd her coming before she came out of the palm trees and up over the dune. Seeing Thor standiing and Bastion sitting she raised the bottle and called out  "Hey Superboy, this a private party, or can a lonely sea witch join in?"

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"I won't say you've changed my mind," he said calmly, showing the typical defiance teenagers were known for.  "But it's something to think about.  I guess I can go meet people, although most of them I know already.  The crazy lady is Ms. Deezy, she's a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but good people.  The water lady, that's Ms. Emily.  She's a peach.  The portal guy is Mr. Hawk, he talks funny.  Don't know the red lady.  The other guy, young, like me, he's some rich kid.  Colonel asked him to show what he could do, so he danced on a wall... I guess the storm gave him dancing powers."

He stood up and brushed the sand aside, giving Steve a look at the red Kryptonian 'S' on his black t-shirt.  "C'mon, I'll introduce you to the people you don't know."

Quote

She wasn't the stealthiest in the land and they herd her coming before she came out of the palm trees and up over the dune. Seeing Thor standiing and Bastion sitting she raised the bottle and called out  "Hey Superboy, this a private party, or can a lonely sea witch join in?"

They met with Emily after but a few steps and Steve saw Bastion smile for the first time.  ""Miss. Emily, you're welcome to join.  We were just going to do some hob nobbin' with the others, an I'd never consider you a witch, ma'am, yer far to lovely."  That simple hint of an accent came back to the surface as Emily added a small ray of sunshine to his bleak depression.

"This is Steve."  He gestured to... well, Steve.  "He's the Weather Man."

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Emily hands Bastion the glasses and opens the bottle then gestures for him to hold them out so she can fill them which she does and taking one she hands it to Steve, then takes one for herself.

"Glad to meet you Steve, I don't have one of those fancy nicknames yet," she giggles, " but I like the Weatherman," she makes the toast gesture then shoots the shot of taquila with a slight grimace afterwards, "and now it looks like it's raining men."

She giggles some more.

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Steve grinned a little, matching the toast and shooting back the tequila with the lack of grimace that spoke of a lot of time in bars.

"The U.N. got pissy enough about me causing a continent sized fogbank.  If I make it start raining men they're really going to go spare." he said, his voice a good-natured rumble as he held his glass out for a refill.  "The MOD are calling me 'Einherjar' - obviously playing off the whole 'warrior / Norse / thunder god' thing while trying not to attract the wrath of Disney.  I like 'Weatherman', though - it was Bastion's idea."

Emily smiled at the younger of the two impressively built men, then at the older, who winked at her.

"Though if you want a codename other than Sea Witch, you could go with Siren.  How's your singing voice?" he asked with a piratical grin as she refilled his glass.

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wrrrklomp...wrrklomp...wrrklomp....

"Hey guys!" enthused Deezy's comically undersized head from atop the amazonian suit of armor she'd made. "Sorry if I'm butting in over here, I have NO IDEA what I'm doing!" She laughed. "Never tried to host a party before! You guys having fun? Anything missing? Like...a pavilion or chairs or...little robot butlers or something?"

"We're gonna have some live entertainment soon, and the catering's really good so help yourselves, and once we get a few more folks through the gates I'm gonna set off the Death Blossom."

Deezy held out a hand that was permanently attached to a fake gun and squinched her face in concentration.

"My thumb's up," she finally assured Bastion and everyone near him. "The glove's not really articulated, but my thumb's up. Woo! Death Blossom hype!"

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JCGZOod.jpgRenata couldn't help but feel a little out of place and intimidated as she drifted over to the tables of appetizers. She was a Stormer, but hadn't been part of that culture before. None of these people would know anything about her. Weirdly though, the whole crazy getup was kind of...empowering? No one knew her, no one would recognize her. Whatever happened here wouldn't bounce back and splash on her real life. She could be anyone. She...could BE anyone. Anyone she wanted.

That's when she spotted the gal who'd come in with the Thor guy. Hineyguard or something. Not that she was anyone to judge, but that sounded a little gay. Maybe they weren't together?

Hmm.

Normally this girl would be miles out of Renata's league...but Renata wasn't here, right? She was Mask (not Ski Mask, godfuckingdamnit), some kind of crazy space warlord. No one was out of her league.

So she cruised over to Kyria, a smile curving over her crimson-and-black face, and offered a hand.

"I don't think we've met. Call me Mask."

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"So Judge Steinbeck glared at Herr Walhman and firmly said: 'Enough. I see no reason to grant any more continuances.'" Reinhardt explained. "That was when I started getting a crippling headache, and bursting with light. Everything clears, but I start getting all woozy and slump on the table. The last thing I hear, is the Judge saying in that same calm firm voice, 'I will however, grant a recess.'"

Donald chuckled at that. Reinhardt Vassel was a paralegal from Bremen, Germany, in his 30s and a beneficiary of psi-type radiation. "So how did the case go?"

"We won!" Reinhardt smiled, and the two clinked beer bottles in victorious celebration. "The firm is plenty pleased with the publicity we got, though really, being able to control light isn't going to help our clients."

"But it sounds like Germany is taking the Stormers in stride." Donald observed, taking a drink. "More or less." Reinhardt agreed. "We're more low-key about it than the English, and if you'll forgive me, more calm and practical about it than the Americans."

"True." Donald admitted. "Either crazy for us or crazy hate us, no in-between."

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"Seawitch was what i was gonna go with originally but then I found out i could do a lot more than just the water tricks. I was limited by being in the middle of the desert." She said this while pouring Steve another drink then when she went to refill Bastion's glass she saw it was still full.

"Don't like Tequila, no worries there plenty to choose from, this Davian guy keeps an awesome bar, " she took his glass and downed it and smiled at him. Then she looped her arms into the arms of both of the big men and started them all back toward the party.

"Come on boys, let's go make all the other girls jealous."

 

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Steve grinned at the eccentric girl in the huge suit of armor.  Not just at the sight of her small head poking out from between the massive shoulder plates, but also at her cheerfully dizzy manner.  She seemed an almost classic mad-inventor trope come to life, though he reminded himself that someone who could work up a rough suit of power armor just for a party could probably, with funding and time, make a battle-ready one.  Or any manner of weapons of singular or mass destruction, for that matter.  He'd read reports about those Stormer who seemed to have enhanced intelligence and analytic skills, and whilst Kyria possessed a modicum of such enhancement Deezy seemed to have so much of it that it kind of... spilled out everywhere.

"Party's fine, luv."  he assured the hostess with a smile.  "Tell me, do I want to be standing nearby when the Death Blossom happens?"  Deezy's face screwed up cutely in exaggerated thought.

"Define 'nearby'.  I'm pretty sure the far side of the island is probably... maybe... possibly safe." she said, then grinned like a kid at Christmas.

"Great."  Steve replied dryly, rumbling a chuckle then as Emily linked arms with him and Bastion and started tugging the two large men in the direction of the main party.  "Making girls jealous?  Well, sounds like juggling grenades in a thunderstorm, but if we can survive that we might survive the Death Blossom."  He looked at Deezy as she wrrr-klomp'd alongside him.  "That armor is completely bananas." he said, unable to stop from chuckling further.  "How are you even going to eat or drink in that?"

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"Well I had plans for a set of articulated manipulator arms at about the hip level, BUT it's not lore-friendly and also I was running a little short on time," Deezy admitted. "So I'll hafta disembark."

Then she brightened. "OR...I could get someone to lob food at me and try to catch it in my mouth! Like the beanbag-toss game, only with food! And mouth!"

"So hey, I gotta ask..." Deezy quickly said to Steve right on the tails of her previous idea. "What are you going to do now? Stay a soldier? Join the civilian workforce?" She waggled her eyebrows. "Go rogue? Planning on using your powers for a living, or just looking for a 'normal plus' kinda life?"

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"It's awfully loud."  Bastion said, looking at it like it like he didn't care for it at all.  "And big.  You're easily getting in people's way and interrupting conversations as you thunder about while they're are trying to enjoy themselves.  I mean dang, Ms. Klatta, why invite everyone to your barn for a party if you're just gonna ride a bull on the dance floor?  Don't make a lick of sense to me, ma'am."

He looked to Emily and back at Deezy.  "She's not listening, is she?"

"Nope."  Emily smiled and took another shot.

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"We could play a round or two of 'feed the starving genius', I suppose."  Steve laughed.  "Personally, I think she'd end up with food inside there with her."

"As for my plans - pretty undefined right now.  Technically I'm still a serving soldier, but being a Stormer means they can't actually deploy me right now.  No government wants to be the first to open that particular can of worms - Stormer soldiers who can wipe countries off the map are pretty much a U.N. nightmare scenario."

"Person of Mass Destruction, that one opinion piece said, I remember."  Deezy nodded.  Steve made a face, remembering the MSNBC 'Special' on high-profile Stormers and how it had focused a segment on his abilities.  It had just stopped short of becoming a scaremongering piece.

"Yeah.  Not the best thing I've been called on a Friday night."  He shrugged as the odd group made it's way back into the main body of the party.  "Still, opinions are like arseholes - everyone's got one and most of them stink."

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Emily laughed and took another shot and filled glasses of those who were still drinking. 

"We're the new gods, we aren't celebrities on television, we are in the world, we are the world. Everyone is trying to figure out what to do with us, where we fit. But that's not really their problem is it?

 The problem is what do we do with what we have been given? Where do we want to be? Who do we want to be?" 

She paused and looked at the nearly empty bottle.

"This sucks, before the storm, if I'd have drunk this much I'd be so lit, I'd probably be up on the bar stripping. Now I barely have a buzz and even that is fading.

Deezy, you need to invent some thing to replace alcohol for us, that is your new priority."

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"Hoo, okay!" Deezy said, laughing. "First things first!"

She looked down at Bastion and said, "Of course I'm listening! I was just talking to someone else at that exact second. I'm actually sorry about the noise, I didn't realize it was that bad. I just thought it'd be a really cool costume! Anyway...won't be a problem much longer. I think pretty much everyone's here. Plus, I need my hands."

Then she waved a hand vaguely in Emily's direction.

"And as for THAT...I am way ahead of you. When I was taking breaks blueprinting out this bad boy, I did a little light reading in biochemistry and neurology and thought of a pretty good way to give drinks a bit of an extra KICK!" She poked the inside of her cheek out with her tongue for a second, then admitted, "Buuuuut Davian reminded me that everyone would have to sign waivers if we wanted to serve them, and that if a Stormer that didn't have super-enhanced metabolism tried one, even by mistake...it could be really bad. So we didn't put any out."

Deezy waggled her eyebrows at Emily.

"Wanna try one? Just a little one?"

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"Why not just increase the percentage of alcohol by volume, if we burn it faster then a higher ABV will have a lesser effect, but we'd burn it slower, 'an according to the science people, we all have enhanced metabo-thingies."  Everyone kind of looked at the 'dumb' country boy.  "What?  Buddy of mine's paw make moonshine.  I never said I was an angel, I'm just better than average..."  He shrugged, considering his personal appraisal.  "Okay... I'm fair t'midland."

"Unless it's made from like, pure jet fuel or something, I guess."

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Kyria smiled at 'Mask' and shook her hand, unabashedly studying her face. "Nice to meet you. Your costume is so awesome! And looks way cooler than mine. Pirates are hot, but they had to actually be hot. Long coats are not tropical-island friendly." She pulled off her long-coat and shook out the shirt underneath, folding it over an arm. 

"I seem to have been abandoned for the time being. Which is fair since I wandered off first," she said with a chuckle. "Wanna go grab a drink?" She motioned over to the buffet and bar tent.

Renata looked down at her rather revealing costume, concealed mostly by the flowing black cloak. "Thanks," she remarked, grateful that her altered pigmentation concealed a pleased blush. She returned, "I like your outfit too though. Seriously it looks like you put a lot of effort into it." Then added, "Yeah, a drink sounds good." She moved up alongside Kyria and walked with her. "So what am I calling you?"

"Oh!" Kyria flushed, "Sorry, I guess I'm used to people knowing who I am before I even know they exist. I'm Kyria.  Uh, Stormborn. They told me I had to pick a surname for paperwork. So, Stormborn. Made the clerk twitch." She grinned, all red-head fox mischief. 

She grabbed a beer she vaguely recognized and scooped up a quick plate of finger-foods. "So, you're American, right? Like Karrie. I read they had you all cooped up like Steve and I, but let you out earlier. Thanks for paving the way. We'd've destroyed the whole row of houses on the base if they'd kept us cooped up for much longer."

Renata took a beer for herself as well and popped the top, feeling a little conspicuous...but she wasn't in the US and no one knew who she was so...yep. She took a swallow and shook her head. "Yeah, we had a guy blow his top and beat up a mountain," she said. "I guess tensions run high or something." Ren eyed Kyria speculatively and waggled her beer can at her. "Stormborn. That's like that TV show right? The dragon thing everyone was talking about?

Kyria shrugged her shoulders. "No clue. I get some cultural references, but anything from the past few years I've got nothing on. Everything else is kinda weirdly hit or miss. Guess it's whatever leftovers didn't get completely scrambled when my brain rewrote itself. But if there's a show out there about me, I'm gonna make Steve watch it with me." The last was said in obvious jest.

"Steve...that's the guy you came in with right? Are you two together?"

"Yeah, we came together. The whole pirate get-up was his idea. If this becomes a yearly thing, next time I'm going to make him dress up like a merman or something." There was that impish look again. Maybe the woman didn't know many other expressions. "Payback for boots and hot coats."

Renata chuckled, even as a familiar sting of disappointment hit her. "Crazy, huh? There's hardly any Stormers anywhere in the world...I mean, like as a percentage of everyone...and you two found each other anyway." She shrugged and took a drink. "Congrats though. I definitely think next time you should be in charge of costumes." A little smile curved her lips then. "So, yeah...I haven't really been into Stormer stuff. I don't know your bio. So what're your powers, if you don't mind my asking?"

"We didn't so much find each other as a giant ice monster started destroying things near us and then we got thrown together in a plastic bubble for weeks," Kyria said with more amusement than annoyance. She knew something was bothering Mask now, but hadn't the vaguest clue what. "And I don't really have a bio. Like literally. No one knows who I was before the Storm except Jane Doe coma patient, and I only know that because they told me after they managed to track down where I'd woken up."

"As for what I can do...." She folded her legs up under her without sitting down, her body just suspending itself in midair; she grinned. "That's the most fun. I'm a bit smarter, stronger, more perceptive, that sort of thing. Like I just got boosted and tossed out a hospital's window. Well, I did jump."

"Huh, that sounds pretty cool, I guess," Renata said, nodding. "So...that's why no one can figure out who you are? Like, if your whole body changed, your fingerprints and voice and everything changed too? As for me..." She let go of her beer can, now empty, and left it hovering in midair.  With a gentle wave of her hand, she moved it this way and that...then crushed it by clenching a fist. The flattened remains flipped into a nearby trash can.

"Ha! Neat!" Kyria looked delighted, but shook her head to answer Mask's question. "Nah, my fingerprints didn't change, at least from what they had on file. I just had pretty severe brain damage. They figure when the Storm came through and changed me, it just 'fixed' all the stuff that was broken - mangled brain and all. Doing so took out...uh, neural pathways, they said? So, no more memories from those areas of the brain.

"So, Mask, everyone asks me this question, might as well give it a try from the other side," Kyria said with a cute scrunch of her nose. "Do you have any plans on what to do with your newfound powers of beer can crushing and tossing?"

Renata grinned. "Cleaning up after sports events, probably." With a laugh and a shake of her head she said, "Actually, honestly, no fucking idea. Before all this I was in school, you know? I wanted to get into law enforcement, but I was a ways off from really doing it. I still want to do that, but...I have this feeling like having powers kind of messes it up." She shrugged. "Personally, I think it could make me really good at it...buuuut...legal issues, and public opinion issues. I dunno. RIght now I'm just going to focus on getting through school. God only knows what'll happen next, so planning seems kind of futile."

"Always plan," Kyria said more levelly. "Be flexible and open, but still plan. You want to go into law enforcement. You're American, but if the American's won't let you do something you'd probably be amazing at because you'd be amazing at it, then come over to the UK. I don't think you'd have a problem with us."

She spread her hands. "Kind of a tall ask, don't you think? Can't have your dream job, so bail on your country? I mean, what you would leave England to go do?"

Kyria shrugged and answered truthfully, "Whatever I wanted to do that they said I couldn't?" Clearly national loyalty was also a lesson lost to the amnesiac Stormer.

Renata nodded, feeling a stab of sympathy. This girl didn't have anything to leave behind. No connection. She'd lost all that. And that sucked. "I've got family...friends... I don't know. I'm the first to admit that the USA stinks for me sometimes...and for a lot of reasons...but that just makes me want to make it better, you know?"

"What about you? You've got Steve...anyone else? New friends? Maybe people from your past who remember you, even if you can't remember them yet?"

"Oh, I get mail all the time about a lost relative. Apparently I have dozens of concerned parents, cousins I 'spent my whole childhood' with, and siblings that have been searching just everywhere for me." She rolled her eyes, taking a bite of food from her plate. "No one real yet and people seem put off that I don't really care. I mean, I was in a hospital bed for three years. Even if there are people that know the old me out there, it was three years. They've moved on and I don't remember them. New friends...a few. Mostly Steve's friends, old mates of his."

"Shit," Renata said, the enormity of the situation sinking in. "That's the worst. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm the first to say family can be a giant pain in the ass, but...that's rough. People suck sometimes, and you deserve better." She wagged a finger at Kyria. "Not to get up in your business, but if most of your friends are your boyfriend's friends, you need to get out on your own more."

Kyria blinked, surprised at Mask's comment. "I, uh, don't really have anywhere to go. I haven't figured out a job yet and the few times Steve and I have been out in public for very long, things get....loud? I don't know that I could actually do most jobs I have any qualifications for. Which is to say jobs that don't need any qualifications. I'm smart, but I don't have any degrees or work history or anything. Maybe I could do construction? I basically function as a crane." She shrugged, "And I don't go to church or have old chums or anything." 

She motioned to the crowd, where she was one of the Pretty People, but not the Pretty Person, grinning. "This is the best time I've had with more people than just Steve since I woke up. I'm practically unremarkable here."

That brought another laugh from Renata. "You're a long way from unremarkable, trust me. But I get you about being recognized. There's a reason I'm going by a stupid fake name and changing my face and...other stuff for this. I lucked out, and didn't get my real face attached to what everyone saw during the Storm." She considers Kyria for a moment. "We could probably get you some kind of disguise if you wanted. I mean, I can't help with the job or degree or anything, but if you just want to hang out with me sometime without drowning in paparazzi, I could help you out with that."

That got a genuine, non-mischievous smile out of her. "That could be fun." 

 

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"Why not just increase the percentage of alcohol by volume, if we burn it faster then a higher ABV will have a lesser effect, but we'd burn it slower, 'an according to the science people, we all have enhanced metabo-thingies."  Everyone kind of looked at the 'dumb' country boy.  "What?  Buddy of mine's paw make moonshine.  I never said I was an angel, I'm just better than average..."  He shrugged, considering his personal appraisal.  "Okay... I'm fair t'midland."

"Unless it's made from like, pure jet fuel or something, I guess."

Deezy shook a hand at Bastion and nodded happily. "That's actually REALLY close! Hang on, lemme ditch this thing."

She clomped over to a spot a little farther down the beach, where a small concrete square was planted on the sand. She maneuvered onto the square, then powered the suit down. A moment later, with a pneumatic hiss, bolts popped out, and the torso of the suit opened like a clamshell. And out popped Deezy in a blue bikini.

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She hurried back over to where she'd left everyone.

"So I thought about just upping the alcohol concentration, but it turns out that just makes the drink taste really bad! It totally overwhelms whatever else is in there and makes it taste like you're just drinking pure alcohol! Plus, even though most of us...not all of us!...have enhanced metabolisms, there's enhanced...and there's ENHANCED. You know? Like, there's folks who visibly heal injuries up. So to make alcohol hit, there has to be a LOT...and it has to spend as little time as possible in the body before it gets where you want it to go."

She tapped her head.

"The answer? Tiny bubbles!"

Deezy laughed at that and actually sang a little bit, "...tiny bubbles...in the wine...I mean like literally. Tiny bubbles."

She cleared her throat. "The, uh, bubbles are like those capsules you get drugs in sometimes. Time release. Only they're tiny. Microscopic actually. So you don't FEEL them as you drink, and the alcohol in them doesn't mess up the flavor, but there's ENOUGH of them that they can really up the amount of booze hitting the old noggin! The shell is composed so that it will react to the specific blood composition within the brain. So they get into your blood during digestion, circulate around, and then when they get to your brain they rupture...and suddenly the BAC right in that spot spikes."

With another laugh, she smacked her hands together. "BAM! Super drunk. Or, you know, if you're a regular human...probably dead."

Deezy then gestured at the refreshment table and nodded at Emily.

"Pick whatever you want out, and I'll do my thing, and you can try it. If you're sure. I don't want to hurt you. We DO have trauma teams stationed...uh..." She looked around. "Here and there. Out of the way. Just in case. But still."

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"Oh, not thank you ma'am," Bastion raised a hand at the offered counter.  "I don't drink."

Bastion looked at the armor, then the booze, then back to Deezy.  "Miss Klatta, ma'am, pardon my asking, and I hope I'm not crossing a line here, but," he shook a lazy finger at the armor.  "If you can make anything you want, why are you wasting your time with gawdy suits or armor and super booze?  Seems like a waste of talent when you could be providing homes for the homeless, making free medication for people who have no insurance and companies are charging a thousand dollars a pill.  Blankets to those who need them, clothes, plasma for hospitals, presents under a tree, a new roof, or redo someone's old pluming, heck, I don't know... it just seems people could benefit a lot more from your gift than what you're doing with it."

His cheeks flushed, "My apologies, I didn't mean it like that, that came out sounded rude."

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"Nah, it's okay!" Deezy assured him. "It's because THIS is a party. And because solving all that other stuff isn't just about whipping stuff up out of nowhere, you know? People aren't homeless because there's no homes. There's a looooooooot of institutional and social stuff going on that factors into it! Pharma isn't quite the same set of obstacles, but it's a similar idea. Scarcity of resources, at least in the context of the United States, not the source of our ills. Which is not to say that I'm giving up on the situation, just saying it's a bit more complicated than you might think!"

"I do have plans though. This party is part of them. So, in a roundabout sort of way, making a cool costume and serving super-drinks to super-people is actually helping solve those things."

"In theory at least. And I know where you're going next!" Deezy pointed. "What about places that aren't the United States! Places where scarcity is TOTALLY a source of ills! On it too. The key is building an infrastructure though. My powers to whiff things up aren't unlimited. But the power of money and influence to distribute things to where they need to be?"

She winked. "Much less so."

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