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    Default Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    The breathtaking debut of the Staggering Sharkguard, the greatest hero that's ever been on land or sea! Collect all four variant covers!

    Issue #1: Big Fish, Small Pond

    "There's no bad publicity except an obituary." -Brendan Behan


    7:00 AM, Thursday, February 23rd, 2012.
    Southside, Freedom City.


    Westpark Plaza was one of the countless cheap but reliable apartment buildings that sprung up in the Southside neighborhood of Freedom City in the '60s and '70s. Eight stories of sturdy red brick, it stood out from its steel and concrete peers, and might even be called good-looking, if one were feeling charitable. The neighborhood had never declined like some of Southside's other districts, and it was well-located; close to the college and the airport, with a great view of the South River and the harbor from the roof.

    Rising maintenance costs and an incompetent owner had put Westpark Plaza out of business by 2007. The city had hoped to seize the plot after the building was abandoned, only to find that the owner, one George Taylor, had willed the place to his son, a man with neither the skill, interest, or money to actually do anything with the building. Unfortunately for Freedom City's urban planners, he was also unwilling to sell the apartment complex. So Westpark Plaza sits, a treasure trove of valuable bricks on even more valuable land, looking just as solid as the day it was closed five years before, without a soul inside.

    Except, of course, for the two souls in the corner suite on the 5th floor...

    Sharkguard, Savior of the Seven Seas and unquestionably Freedom City's greatest defender, stretched his incredible form and looked down on the world from five stories up. Southside seemed peaceful in the early morning light. Not the tense "calm before the storm" that seemed to spread through the city on so many days, but genuine calm, as if Freedom City itself had elected to give up being crazy for one day and just decided to wander down to the corner and grab a cup of coffee. In fact, if anything, it was a bit too quiet. Usually by this time Alyssa was up and about, having breakfast and getting ready for school. Today, though, her father hadn't heard so much as a peep from the girl.

    With a surprisingly gentle knock for such a massive hand, Sharkguard opened her door and peered inside. Alyssa was awake, but still in bed, and the moment she saw her father enter she buried herself under the covers. "Ohhh, dad, go away! I don't want to have go to school today! I don't ever want to go back! They're horrible!" comes an indignant, if still sleepy voice from under the blankets.

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    OK, here we go! Just a little father-daughter moment to get a feel for his voice.

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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    Of the numerous days in his life, the half-man half-shark muscleman known as Sharkguard had two kind of days that he'd rarely seen. These amazingly quiet days, and the apocalyptic, war-fought days. As such, both are something he wasn't used to. Sharkguard looked out at the vast city from one of the numerous 5th floor windows. Today he wore a pair of casual shorts and a large blue t-shirt. He usually only wore such clothing when he's off-duty with Alyssa; today he wouldn't be wearing this for long however, not with what is planned. Sharkguard could almost smile bravely at what will be coming.

    Coming back from almost daydreaming, Sharkguard notices the time and that Alyssa hadn't woke up yet. He mumbled something unintelligent under his breath as he goes to her room. He often didn't get a lot of sleep, at worst 3 hours a day, but Alyssa slept for nearly 9 hours now. Her indignant tone towards him didn't surprise the shark-man; often Alyssa woke up in a bad mood especially when it came to school. Speaking softly was never something Sharkguard is good at, but he tries his best for his daughter. "Alyssa, c'mon. I know you hate those students in Math, but you need to go." He tries to be forceful while keeping an open heart. He didn't like forcing her out of bed, but sometimes it was needed. Just hopefully not yet.
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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    "Mmmm, I don't wanna." comes the petulant voice from under the covers. After a moment, Alyssa sticks her head out and looks up at you with her biggest, most pitiful puppy dog eyes. "Can't we just call the school and say I'm sick? I don't want to deal with Jenna Ross anymore. She's such a B-I-T-C-H!" Alyssa seems a bit unsure about what the word she's spelled out actually means, but she seems fairly certain that whatever it is, it's bad and it applies to people like Jenna. "You know what she said yesterday? That my parents must have known how useless I was going to be, and that's why they abandoned me." Her eyes are wet, but she's trying not to cry. "I-I just wish I could show them who my real dad is. That would shut her up so quick! B-Besides, I want to stay home and watch you at that fundraiser for the hospital. You're gonna be on TV again!" As is often the case, Alyssa's mood becomes less sour and sad as soon as she talks about you, a hint of excitement creeping into the background.

    Alyssa's complained about little Miss Ross before (many times, in fact). To hear her tell it, Jenna was the only daughter of a rich family, who acted as if the world revolved around her. Her parents hadn't helped matters, spoiling the girl rotten. Cunning enough to avoid getting caught by the teachers, she had a clique of friends who helped her dominate Alyssa's classes socially. A little Queen Bee in training, except that to call Jenna a Queen Bee would be a mortal insult to all of the crazed supervillains who had used that name over the years. Most of them were probably better people.
    Last edited by ripleycat; 2012-02-24 at 09:47 PM.

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    Sharkguard forced a stern look on his face the moment Alyssa spelled out something she shouldn't have. "I don't want to hear that again Alyssa!" He didn't shout nor raised his voice, but he clearly was displeased with the young girl's choice of words. "I know that... Even if it fits her," the shark-man superhero couldn't stand the Ross family either, "you need to try avoiding her. All she's doing is trying to make you miserable." Sharkguard and Alyssa had agreed on the two never revealing to anyone else that he had adopted her, it would be best for them both that way.

    Upon hearing about the fundraiser, Sharkguard's face went from a stern look to a hearty laugh. "Ha! Aye, I've been looking forward ta that too!" He gives his sailor/pirate accent a bit of a practice run. Sharkguard more often than not acted that way in public, even if it is public knowledge that the accent is obviously not a real accent. He enjoys using it, reminding him of his times as a sailor, and that even now he's still a sailor at heart. "Yarr gots'a TV at school, don'cha? Watch there instead!" Leaning forward the time he talked to Alyssa, he stands straight up; the dorsal fin on his head almost touching the ceiling. He then says in a playful, if slightly commanding order, "Now get outta bed already!" His accent gave his voice a more hardened, gravel-y and slightly deeper tone compared to his normal one.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-03-02 at 06:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    Alyssa wilted a bit at Sharkguard's stern tone. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, it's just... She trails off, though you can hear her mutter "well, she is" under her breath.

    "I'll try to just avoid her. That's what all the teachers say I should try and do anyway. It's hard, though. It's not just class together, she likes to find me and pick on me at lunch, too."

    The last vestiges of Alyssa's sourpuss start to the day vanish when the sailor accent comes out, and you finally see her crack a real smile as she tries one of her own. "Tha' be starting durin' Mrs. Williams' class. She likes ye, says you're, uh, a 'positive role model.' I bet she'll say yes if I ask her te let us watch ye!"

    "Now get outta bed already!"
    "All right, you win, I'll get ready." Alyssa crawls out from under the covers and hugs you tightly, glomping onto one of your legs, which is all she can get her arms around anyway. You hear her tummy rumble after a few seconds. "I'm hungry. Can I have waffles this morning?" It's amazing how fast her mind can switch gears when she's in a good mood.

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    Glad to see that he convinced his daughter, Sharkguard chuckles quietly as Alyssa hugs her leg. At just over eight feet, Sharkguard is a colossus compared to most kids, something he's always found funny. He gets down on one leg and gently hugs Alyssa, wrapping his massive arms around her body. He made sure not to hug her tightly, and held her for a moment, remembering why he choose to take care of her and why to enjoy every moment of it.

    As soon as Alyssa stomach growls, the shark-man lets go of Alyssa and stands up. "Haha, alright," he says back in his normal tone. "Waffles would probably be best considering the time. Go get changed out of your pajamas." With that, Sharkguard leaves Alyssa's room and over to the kitchen right next to the main hall. He himself didn't eat much when he could. Usually he'll go for a few fish in the ocean when he is hungry, so Alyssa never notices him eating. As he prepares Alyssa's waffles, he checks the fridge to make sure that there is enough orange juice for her. His large and strong hands makes it too inconvenient to try and hold glasses, so she has to pour her own glass. Once finished, he waits for her to come. The fundraiser isn't happening within the next hour or two, so he wasn't in a hurry to go.
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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    Outside, you can see the bustle of the city start to increase as more people wake up and head out to start their day. Crowds of pedestrians mill past on the sidewalk, bundled up against the morning chill, and the trickle of cars on the roads has increased to a torrent. Though the earlier tranquility has started to fade, the peaceful vibe remains. The only sign of any sort of trouble has been a single ambulance going wailing past. It looks like the city just might cooperate with your plans, for once.

    A few minutes after you get everything set up, Alyssa comes out of her bedroom and makes a beeline for the orange juice in the fridge. She's changed out of her pajamas, wearing a pair of black jeans, a bright teal floral blouse, and a pair of red Converse Hi-Tops, her "lucky" shoes.

    Pouring herself a glass and slathering the waffles with syrup, she settles in at the counter and begins devouring them as if she hadn't had a meal in a week. "Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?" she asks, both hope and trepidation in her voice. All too often, the demands that come with being a hero have kept you away from Alyssa when you wanted to be around. It was one of the drawbacks of the unusual life of a superhero. Natural disasters and power-mad supervillains popped up at the most inconvenient times imaginable. Not that there was ever a convenient time for someone to point a death ray at City Hall, but sometimes it seemed like they conspired to disrupt a hero's life as much as possible.

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    Seeing the city begin activity again made the shark-man smile. He's always had bad timing with threats, and very often he didn't like it when he could spend time with his adopted daughter. But there has been good points to it. Not only was it usually exciting, but often it would go on camera and Alyssa could watch, sometimes right up close where the action really was. But hopefully today things will go alright for both of them.

    As Alyssa came, Sharkguard gave a wave to her. "You look wonderful today," he says to her. "I'm gonna do my best to be home on time. The pork is there to be heated in case I'm not, but the fundraiser shouldn't be done till 3 PM." It was almost seven now. The fundraiser started at ten. It was likely gonna be a long event, but Sharkguard isn't a stranger to long working times. "And even if I am, you'll at least be able to watch whatever you might have missed of the fundraiser, right?" He noticed the time. They had about twenty minutes, maybe more, before they needed to leave.
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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    "Yeah." Alyssa nodded her agreement. "That'll be fun. It'll be nice to see you get to do all that cool stuff without being in danger." Alyssa, of course, had supreme confidence in her adopted father's abilities, but sometimes even she got scared by the extreme situations Sharkguard found himself in.

    "I'll make sure dinner's heating up when you get home, so you can relax, OK? Eep!" Alyssa's eyes go wide as she glances at the clock. "I gotta get ready!" She dashes off towards the bathroom to get set for school.

    While she's gone, you glance through the itinerary for the fundraiser. There was a press conference at 10:00, followed by a brief meet and greet with some of the wealthy donors. With displeasure, you spot the name "Ross" among the rich folk who've gotten their names in the program. Alyssa may not be the only one who who has to deal with that family today.

    After that, the events themselves kicked off. For Sharkguard, that meant a power-lifting demonstration, followed by a collection of somewhat less orthodox demonstrations of his might, including what for a lesser hero would be a firing squad, a quick sparring session with Claremont Academy's representative at the event, Megastar, and an opportunity to cut loose and use his strength on a collection of super-tough materials, a karate board-breaker's demo cranked up to eleven.

    After a break for lunch and another meet and greet, this one with some of the kids from the hospital, which promised to be more enjoyable than the one with the donors, there were a few more tests of skill and toughness, including the main event, a huge obstacle course that took up much of Liberty Park. After that, there was a chance to meet and mingle with the kids in some less-hazardous trials, and the auction, allowing the wealthy one more chance to show off just how generous they were.

    From there, Sharkguard was home free, though the press would probably want another word with him. They always did. If things worked out, he just might make it home for dinner after all.

    Alyssa returned, all rugged up for her trip to school. Against all odds, you both had a few spare minutes to relax before the day started. "Hey dad? This weekend, you think maybe we could go down to the bay and hang out some time?" The seashore out near Lonely Point was both pretty and essentially uninhabited, one of the spots in Freedom City you could enjoy both the outdoors and Alyssa's company without the risk of prying eyes.

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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    Sharkguard chuckled once more before switching to his sailor accent. "Ah, don't be so worried 'bout me! Yarr father's never in danger!" As Alyssa goes off to get ready for school, Sharkguard glances over what will be happening. The press conference wasn't likely gonna be anything fun, and with the Ross family there, meeting the donors would be just as sour. However the events was what Sharkguard is excited for. From the power-lifting to the durability and the sparring challenges, it hardly looked like a boring day for him. The obstacle course was going to be interesting; Sharkguard was never one for agility. From there it should be simple enough, have fun with the kids, have fun with the press, go home for dinner with Alyssa.

    With a few minutes to spare, Sharkguard sat on one of the big couch and let Alyssa sit on his lap. He wrapped one of his arms gently around her, letting his rubber, yet impossibly-hard skin be felt by her. "Aye. I was thinking of doing something like that," he says with a smile. "That would be a wonderful day to spend an evening." Sharkguard loved the sea, unsurprisingly since he is a shark-man. He didn't get much time to enjoy the sea, but he made the most of it when he could.
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    "Awesome!" Alyssa's face lights up when you agree. "We haven't gotten to go out there in forever."

    All too quickly, though, the little moment of repose is up, and it is time for the two of you to go out into the world. With no neighbors to eavesdrop, seeing Alyssa off is simple. In the lobby, she stretches up on her tip-toes to give you a goodbye kiss, but you still have to kneel down for her to reach your cheek. "Bye dad! Have fun! See you tonight. Love you!"

    There's a tall chain-link fence that surrounds the overgrown and dilapidated grounds of Westpark Plaza, but the lock on the gate snapped like a twig in Sharkguard's mighty hands long ago, and nobody bothers to come around and check such things. With pedestrians and workers wandering in and out of storefronts and back alleys, nobody so much as blinks as Alyssa joins the throng, heading down the sidewalk to take the four-block walk to Cyrus St. Elementary, out closer to the river.

    With Alyssa off to school for the day, Sharkguard finds himself with about an hour before the event begins, and surprisingly, nothing on his plate.

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    If there's nothing that comes to mind, we can timeskip, but I thought I'd put the opportunity out there.

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    As Sharkguard sees Alyssa off, he says to her softly, "Love you too Alyssa. Have a good day." He waits for her to go out of sight before making his own way to the fundraiser. He really was looking forward to the time he will spend with his adopted daughter on the weekend. Her and the sea are very personal to the shark-man. The city held great importance, but he loved the sea and his daughter as much, if not possibly more so.

    Now however was the time for Sharkguard to eat. He went off over to the seaside area of Freedom City, ready to nab some fish that were swimming freely. Since becoming a shark-man, he had an irresistible taste for aquatic creatures. Unsurprising, but it was a habit of his that he loved. Hopefully he won't take too long. An hour can go by very fast.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-02-28 at 12:27 AM.
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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    As Sharkguard heads to the docks, the crowds on the sidewalks part, and even Freedom City's notoriously fickle drivers let him cross the streets without so much as a honked horn. Being recognized helps clear some traffic. Being a giant musclebound shark-man helps more.

    Though he's one of the best-known heroes in the city, and for that matter, the whole world, there are a lot of folks in Freedom, and the reactions of those seeing Sharkguard in person for the first time are always interesting. Some just stare, some scream or flee from the monster, much to the amusement of those who know the great hero a little better. Many more gasp in amazement or start taking pictures. You gets stopped and asked for autographs by three people before you reach the riverbank.

    As you near the wharves, things change. The smell in the air becomes sharper, the salty, unmistakable scent of the sea, tinged with the fishy smell of the seafood market and the fishing boats. Even in the open air it assaults your shark senses. The population changes too, thinning out, becoming mostly fishermen, sailors, and dockhands, a rougher crew than the tourists and office workers you had to wade through to get here, but at the same time, friendly in their own gruff way. They aren't the sort who flail and squeal and pull out a camera phone when they see you, but you were one of them, once, and there's a camaraderie in the air that feels very different from the rest of town.

    "Haha! Lookee here, boys, it's the biggest catch of 'em all!" The raucous laugh echoes around the back of the Farragut Fish Market as a barrel-chested, grey-bearded man emerges, toting a tub of salmon and ice destined for the front stalls, followed by a small throng of sailors and stevedores. Adam Washington has run the market for years, since long before you ever came to Freedom City. A former sailor himself, a nasty accident made him reconsider his life, opting for the slightly less eventful life of a dockside merchant. Tall for a human (though still a good two feet shorter than you), with rough, scar-covered hands and a twinkle in his eye, and decades of ropy muscle packed onto his frame by hard work, Adam looks like he stepped right out of a sea shanty and into the real world. Age has slowed him down a bit, but he's still not a man to be trifled with. Even you might feel the sting from one of his big roundhouse punches.

    "What brings the mighty Sharkguard down our way this mornin', hmm? If you're on the trail of one of them madmen you're always fighting on TV, we won't be much help, I'm afraid. Things have been quiet 'round here, well, least as quiet as they ever get!"

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    Walking through the large city, Sharkguard didn't show much surprise or annoyance to those who fled in fear of him. It was almost amusing to the shark-man, how one day someone will be terrified of him, and the next day they'll be so much in glee. The three people coming towards him wasn't a surprise either for Sharkguard. Usually he would gladly accept autographs normally, today he turned it down, instead answering with something along the lines of, "Yarr got's to wait till the fundraiser now!" His sailor accent is used a lot in public, something people have enjoyed a lot.

    Heading to the wharves, Sharkguard felt a lot more at home. He loved the salty air and the fishy smell. He knew about the gruff, friendly feel that it came to sailors. They were the kind that would arm-wrestle with the giant shark-man, even if they would lose horribly. They were the fearless, hearty kind. They were the kind like Sharkguard, the ones he knew best and the ones he enjoyed hanging around the most when he couldn't be with his daughter.

    Sharkguard always had to be careful not to go overboard with eating in the open air Farragut Fish market. The amount of fish and other creatures there sometimes made Sharkguard want to feast in the aquatic food. He's good at resisting the fish however. Seeing Adam Washington come, the shark-man gives off his own hearty laugh. "Well ya got to actually capture the fish before you can say you caught it!" Sharkguard had never tried actual wrestling with the rather muscled sailors before. It might have been interesting but still heavily one-sided. "I'm here for a few fish. Need something to eat before the fundraiser now." Adam was one of those people who could stare down at Sharkguard and not flinch. He would be one of those people Sharkguard would consider a friendly rival had both of them be human or super-powered musclemen. "Got about fourty minutes before it begins."
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    "Well, ya've come to the right place, then, haven't you?" Adam spreads his arms open wide over his displays and laughs. "Anything you want! Consider it returning the favor for saving our asses time and again."

    His tone turns more appraising and canny as he strokes his beard. "Though, if I'm remembering right, it's the shark part of you that's hungry, in't it? The hunter. Mmm. If you're after something still in the land o' the living when you're biting into it, there's been a bloody great swath of tuna migrating past the bay this last week or so. There's bound to be some of 'em coming in close to shore. Big, healthy fish, biggest I've seen in years. Bluefin are doing well again. You take your pick, Sharkguard, an all you can eat buffet, or a fast chase with a great slab of tunasteak at the end. If you're fast enough to catch 'em, that is. We got it all around here."

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    Sharkguard crosses his arms as he looks proudly at the former sailor. "Aye! That tuna sounds quite succulent. Now I gotta tell ya, I'm always the hunter, human or shark." He nods his head before heading out to the shore. The shark-man gave a quick dive off into the sea and began searching around for some meaty tuna, along with any other kind of fish he could find. Sharkguard swam abnormally fast compared to a normal great white or mako shark. He enjoyed the exhilaration of speed and hunting down other aquatic species. What became important is to not go overboard with the hunter part. As fun as hunting fish is, he never tried that on humans or other innocent civilians.

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    Okay wanted to lengthen my post but I didn't have a lot of time. Go ahead and fastforward to after Sharkguard has his fish meal (and also describe how it went if you want )
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-02-28 at 11:45 PM.
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    Sure enough, there are a number of the bluefin swimming about the mouth of the bay, and beyond them, out at the very edge of the coastal current, an enormous school heading south, like a ribbon twisting though the water. The full-grown tuna are huge fish, six feet long or more, weighing hundreds of pounds, and built for speed. They can top 40 miles an hour, letting them outrun damn near anything in the water. Except Sharkguard. In a wild pursuit across the bay, through the kelp beds and down into the depths, the true alpha predator catches one of the big fish in his jaws, staining the water red and netting himself a good 200 lbs of meaty goodness, more than enough to sate the hunter for the time being.

    Crossing the South River into the heart of town, the outskirts of the fundraiser can be seen well before Sharkguard gets within two blocks of Liberty Park. Streets have been cordoned off, pedestrians redirected, and within the blocked off area you can see a swarm of people running around, getting things ready, with the event tents rising behind them and some of the bigger chunks of the obstacle course rising behind those. The obstacle course looks a bit like the construction site for some huge, half-finished building from here, all concrete and plywood.

    A rather frazzled looking man with a clipboard and walkie-talkie in his hands practically vaults the cordon when he spots you in the distance, nearly bowling over an equally harried looking woman directing traffic. You hear him speak into his walkie-talkie as he runs. "I've got the big guy, we might actually start this thing on schedule. I know, it's a flippin' miracle." He skids to a halt in front of you and catches his breath for a second. The nametag on his chest tells you that you are in the presence of one Joseph Silva, Asst. Coordinator.

    "Sharkguard! Glad you could make it. You're the centerpiece of all this, you know. Wouldn't have gotten nearly the attention or the cash we did without you. You all set?" The words sort of tumble out in a rush, like he's forgotten how sentences work. "The press should be ready by the time we get to the media tent. Don't worry about 'em. I've seen you handle the cameras before, you're fantastic. Besides, it's fun and games to raise money for a children's hospital. They're gonna give you the softest of softball questions. No worries, right?"

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    Having a wonderful time nabbing his bluefin breakfast for the day, Sharkguard waves to the sailors as he moves off to the fundraiser. The feeling of the familiar salty air becoming the city air always came as a weird change to the shark-man; like it was something he could never get used to. It was almost as if he never really belonged on land in the first place. It really was but a minor thing however. In heart, he is still human, not a shark, and he liked it that way.

    Coming up at the fundraiser, Sharkguard could see the obstacle course. He wondered if making it look like a construction site was intentional or not. Either way, it seemed a bit like something out of his league. He didn't have any sort of super-speed or agility above the water. Despite this however, it would, at the very least, be a unique challenge for Sharkguard. When he sees Joseph come, he gives off a chuckle as the human comes up to him.

    "Of course I be ready! Yarr think ta mighty Sharkguard be caught off-guard for anything?" He gave off his sailor accent as proudly as he could. He felt that it would help lighten up the mood of a show that never needs to be worrying in the first place. "No time to waste. Let's 'ave this fundraiser started and the press comin' if they want it." It was always fun to talk with the press. He had hoped now that Alyssa would be watching now. Being the centerpiece, there's no way she could miss him.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-03-01 at 12:37 AM.
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    "Fantastic! And between you and me, I'm really glad to have a pro around. Makes my job a million times easier." Joseph leads you back through the cordon, getting a dirty look from the woman he almost knocked over as he does.

    The crowds milling around the park seem a bit more excited to see you than the folks you passed in the city, pointing and taking pictures as you pass. Nobody flees for their life.

    The media tent is a huge affair, covering about half a football field and doubling, it seems, as the place for the later meet-n'-greets. For now, it's filled with a mix of video and newspaper journalists, cameras and several rows of chairs laid out in front of a raised platform with a table and microphones. There are chairs for the VIPs behind the table, including a rather oversized monstrosity of reinforced steel. It's obvious that this is meant for you. A murmur runs through the reporters as they see you arrive, and a few snap pictures of their own.

    Two of the chairs are already filled. A tall, well-built man with spiky blue hair and a black half-mask over his glowing blue eyes, seemingly with metallic silver skin that shimmers and ripples when he moves, and a very professional-looking woman in her 40's with wire-rimmed glasses and long, prematurely white hair. From previous dealings, you recognize them as Dr. Chase, the hospital's director, and Megastar, leader of Claremont Academy's in-house superteam, the Next-Gen. You're also one of the few people outside the school who knows that inside that metallic shell is Chris Beck, a short, wiry 16-year old bonded to an alien superweapon that gives him his powers.

    There's a rush of wind as a blue-and-white blur streaks to a halt beside you. "Hey Jaws, there you are! What're we waiting for, let's get started!" Johnny Rocket, punctual as always, finally puts on an appearance. The speedster blurs again, appearing in his seat a split-second later.

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    A moment of interaction with the other heroes and the Doc, while I finish getting the press questions written up for later today.

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    Seeing the crowd grow excited with glee reminded Sharkguard just how popular he was in the city. It was almost unbelievable when he looks back on it. Before he was simply a former sailor who left the old city he lived in because of a mysterious storm that changed him. Now he was practically the most famous hero in Freedom City and had a life almost completely different from his old one. The shark-man didn't reminisce during such times like these however. He waved proudly at the crowd and news reporters as he went by. These were one of the many things he enjoyed about being a hero. The rest would need several more sets of arms to be able to count them with his fingers.

    Sharkguard was a little embarrassed upon seeing the massive chair. He was big sure, but he wasn't a fifty-foot tall giant whose touch would break even the hardest wooden object. Still, he wouldn't mind it on-camera. Turning to two people who had already arrived, Sharkguard could remember when Dr. Chase examined him with curiosity. She had taught him a few things about medicine and first aid since his arrival to the city, and he was appreciated that he got the chance to learn from her. As for Megastar, Sharkguard found himself uncomfortable having to spar with him. Bonded with an alien superweapon or not, Chris was still a teenager underneath that. The shark-man didn't find it comfortable having to fight with such young upcoming heroes. He didn't underestimate Megastar's abilities, not at all, but he still didn't like the idea of taking on such a young superhero.

    His thoughts with Megastar broke off as Johnny Rocket appeared. "Aye! Yarr almost came late ta this as well," he playfully retorted to the speedster. "We would've been waitin' on yarr instead!" One thing Sharkguard liked about Rocket was his carefree attitude, something he wish he had more of when he wasn't busy saving the world or taking care of Alyssa. Not deciding to take up any more time, Sharkguard nodded to Megastar and Dr. Chase before taking a seat for himself, all set to begin the fundraiser now.
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    As Sharkguard takes his seat, the press take their positions, cameras and recorders rolling, and Dr. Chase leans forward, tapping on her microphone to make sure it was on.

    "Ah, there we go. Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, welcome to the Fifth Annual Shriner's Children's Hospital Fundraiser and Charity Auction. I'm Dr. Anna Chase, the hospital's director. The three men next to me need no introduction, of course, but we'll give them one anyway." A few chuckles ripple through the crowd. "The fastest man in the world, Johnny Rocket, the leader of Claremont Academy's heroic Next-Gen team, Megastar, and last but not least, the truly incomparable Sharkguard." This last statement unleashes a flurry of clicks and flashbulbs from the press.

    "What we have planned today is an event that will show off the best Freedom City has to offer, and one we are sure will be tremendously entertaining for our patients, our immensely generous donors, and of course, all of you watching at home. Three of the finest heroes in our city, and indeed the entire world, will be demonstrating feats of strength, speed and skill beyond the wildest dreams of mortal men."

    "Before we begin, though, we would like to open the floor to questions for our participants today and myself."

    An immediate rabble of voices spring up from the press. "Dr. Chase, the hospital seems to have spared no expense in this effort. How much money do you expect to make after the costs of this event are subtracted? Isn't all this a bit counterproductive?"

    "Not at all. In fact, the increased exposure granted by the events have helped us raise more money than we have in the last four years combined. We expect to make a profit of well over $5,000,000 once all is said and done, money donated in amounts both large and small by the generous citizens of Freedom City. Enough to allow us to break ground on a new ward for burn victims, and a clinic to provide them with the specialized care they need and deserve. And of course, that's not counting the results of our auction later today."

    "Sharkguard! You've twice been voted as America's Greatest Hero by World Magazine, and are by all accounts the most powerful defender our city has. Getting you here today is quite a coup. What made you say yes?"

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    Sharkguard got comfortable in his large metal chair as he could tell this might take awhile. The cold steel didn't work well with his skin, however it was much better than hot metal that has been out in the sun for a long time. The view of the press's activity increasing as soon as Sharkguard was mentioned made him wonder if Megastar or Johnny were jealous. Focusing on the press however, Sharkguard responds as truthful as he could about the event. "Ta better question would be, what couldn't make me say 'aye'?" One thing about his sailor accent, he made sure not to use pirate-like words such as "Matey" and "Scurvy Dogs." It didn't fit him. At heart he's more of a sailor than a pirate, even if the latter breathes in his lungs. "I enjoy givin' yarr a showing for ta children, it's one of ta best ways one can think of for them, and I'm sure ta others think as such." He looks to Johnny and Megastar as he proudly yet heartfully asks them, "Do ye agree?"
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-03-02 at 06:30 PM.
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    Default Re: Sharkguard: The Sea-Roaring Defender IC

    "Aye, tha' be so." Johhny grins roguishly as he imitates Sharkguard's sailor accent. "I'm a hero because I want to help people. One day like this gives me more joy than busting 100 nutjobs with deathrays."

    "Yeah, these kids have gotten a raw deal, y'know? S'nice to let em enjoy themselves while they raise cash to take care of the hospital. Didn't wan' to pass that up." Megastar chimes in.

    "Megastar, the Claremont Academy's presence is something of a surprise. There were several rumors that not only are you here as a participant, but also with the large number of children present, that you're on the lookout for new potential students. Any truth to those rumors?"

    "Not one bit. I'm here because Dr. Chase invited me to participate, not as an official rep of the school. 'Sides, that's not how it works. Claremont's a school first, Next-Gen comes second. We don't go looking for kids with powers just 'cause they've got powers." He shifts in his chair, looking slightly uncomfortable. It was a half truth. The school did keep an eye out for young metahumans in need of training, and superpowered students often found themselves with generous scholarships to Claremont. It just wasn't Megastar's job to do it.

    A hipster-looking guy with a notepad and recorder literally elbowed his way to the front, earning eyerolls and looks of annoyance from other journalists. "Issac King, Daily Word." The eyerolls increase at mention of the tabloid. "Sharkguard, we have a great many readers interested in your personal life, which you've been famously private about. Is there a Mrs. Sharkguard, or significant other in your world? What about-"

    Joseph steps in from the edge of the tent, clearly annoyed."Sir, that's not a pertinent question. Please-"

    "No, Mr. Silva, it's all right. It's an individual decision to answer such questions if our guests wish. This is an open session, after all." Dr. Chase cuts Joseph off in turn, though the long sigh she gives makes it clear what she thinks of the gossip hunters. Johnny Rocket facepalms. With his public identity, he never had to deal with this stuff. Of course, he had to deal with paparazzi instead, which might actually be worse.

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    Sharkguard tries his best to avoid chuckling from Johnny Rocket intimidating his sailor accent. The shark-man wasn't really the kind to mock others, whether playfully with allies or intimidatingly with villains. He was glad that there was some variety among the heroes; it would be boring if all the heroes were powerhouses after all. With the question addressed to Megastar, Sharkguard was tempted to speak up in favor of the teen. He was rather amazed how the teen was able to respond calmly, but Sharkguard hoped that Megastar was thinking of the fundraiser first, the Acadamy second.

    Upon being asked about his private life, Sharkguard leaned forward a bit to the audience. "Arrr," he says quietly, giving the press a question of whether they hit a soft spot with the shark-man or not. A moment later however he shifted back to his casual and confident state. "Sorry, but I ain't gots interest for love. I keeps private for a reason." He relaxed back on his chair now. He really didn't want anyone to know about his life with Alyssa, and was glad to have kept it that way for now.
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    King grumbles at your curt and honest response. He'd clearly been fishing for something he could get a column and some buzz out of, and had come up empty. A few of the other reporters smirk as the tabloid writer gets shut down.

    "Johnny, a lot of these events today are competitions of some kind. This is all for a good cause, but is there any pressure on you to win? Superheroes are a famously competitive lot, after all."

    "I think that's kind of looking at it backwards, Steve. It's not just that it's for a good cause, it's that we're the entertainment as well. Don't get me wrong, nobody likes to lose, but we're putting on a show here. You know what your old coaches used to tell you in little league, about how it's all about having a good time, and not about winning? Well, that's actually true here."

    The ease with which Johnny Rocket can work the press probably surpasses even your own. Aside from the famously conservative Daily Herald, who clutch their pearls and write some semi-hysterical op-ed piece about him every time the openly gay hero pops up in the public eye, nobody ever seems to have a harsh word about him. Aside from simply being a powerful and respected hero, a good part of it seems to be his talent at being clever and charismatic under the spotlight, always picking the right words for the situation. It's a skill that most PR agents would kill for.

    "Um, while I've seen all the precautions they've taken for the safety of the spectators, some of these events look downright dangerous for you three gentlemen, things out of your, uh, rather hazardous day jobs. Are you worried at all that one of you might get seriously injured, or worse?"

    Megastar and Johnny glance at each other, shake their heads, and reply "Naah!" in unison, almost like they planned it.

    "What about you, Sharkguard? Some of your challenges look terribly dangerous. Any concerns?"

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    Sharkguard really couldn't agree further with Johnny Rocket. The shark-man wasn't too worried about losing in friendly competitions. In feats of strength and toughness, there wasn't much that could faze him, an orbital satellite cannon at maximum velocity might, but not much below that. If the obstacle course was going to be a race however, then Sharkguard didn't have much in the way of a chance. Johnny completely outspeeds him and even Megastar had some agility over the shark-man. Still, wouldn't be fun to not do his best at it.

    Sharkguard's own thoughts on the hazardous challenges mirrored the other heroes. "My concern for damage ain't on us, but on ta hazards em'selves!" The shark-man was completely confident on getting through this without a scratch, possibly aside from Megastar.
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    Sharkguard's bravado earns a few chuckles and a few more pictures from the crowd. Even the other heroes and Dr. Chase seem amused. Joseph tries to get her attention, and when he does, the doc looks down at her watch and grumbles.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, I would love to continue this, but we have a schedule to keep to, unfortunately, and it would be unfair to our most generous donors, who were promised time with our stars today. I'm sure that after the events, there will be more time for the press."

    The journalists grumble, but allow the heroes to file out behind Joseph, who leads you to another large tent, practically next door. This one is strikingly different from the very practical press tent. There's a floor installed, covered in thick carpet, the tables around the outside are draped in white tablecloths, with several platters of very expensive food and drink laid out. Soft music plays in the background, and a number of staff are hovering around, quick to take care of any need the donors have.

    The donors themselves are mingling in small groups as you enter. You spot several people you're familiar with, both for good and ill. Fletcher Beaumont II, owner and publisher of the Freedom Ledger, the city's largest paper, and Duncan Summers, headmaster of Claremont Academy and one of the wealthiest men in Freedom both smile and nod as they see you. They might seem to have little to do with a rough sailor, but you know they're both retired heroes, the men once known as the Bowman and the Raven. Megastar practically collapses in relief when he sees Summers is here, so he's not alone in a room of the rich and powerful.

    Others seem less pleased to see you in particular, and are obviously keeping up appearances by being here. There are the Rosses, of course, George and Haley, the parents of Alyssa's arch-nemesis at school, and Hieronymus King, the CEO of Majestic Industries. While he's done a lot of good with his money, providing much of the medicine used by the hospital, for example, he's also famously ruthless, allowing nothing to stand in his company's way, and certainly not things like "morals" or "laws." He's currently looking at you the way he would a particularly interesting sample in a lab.

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    Seeing how the people were amused at his brave words, Sharkguard couldn't help but chuckle quietly too. His sailor accent was never really a thing of intimidation, more of amusement and theatrics. As he hears that it is time to meet the donors, the shark-man had wondered where the time went. It certainly didn't feel as long as it should have and he was rather disappointed that he had to leave the press for now. Still, this was a fundraiser and it wouldn't be proper to not meet the donors like he had promised to when he signed up.

    Coming into the new tent, Sharkguard was rather impressed by the place. Between the food, the aesthetics, and the overall mood compared to the press, this felt a lot more at peace. He relinquished himself from the food; he already had his fill beforehand and it wouldn't be fair to the donors in the first place. He wouldn't want to go and skip lunch, however now was way to early to even ask for a snack. A hero such as him should be vigilant and strong in mind and body.

    Once the donors came in, Sharkguard was glad to see some of the retired heroes there. It would be incredibly rude of him to go and avoid greeting those that he didn't like much, however he preferred to meet the ones he was looking forward to first. "Mr. Beaumont," he began as he slowly walked up to Fletcher. Sharkguard had heard of the owner's numerous activities that he performed as the Bowman. He knew what it was like to perform heroics without superpowers, he had done it himself before after all. "A welcome sight to see you here. For a while I was worried you would have been caught up in the press." Sharkguard kept civil here, no need of his accent when talking in private.
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    Behind Beaumont, Megastar was chatting with Summers and some of his colleagues, clinging to the headmaster's words like a social life raft. Whoever signed off on tossing a teenager into the middle of Freedom City's social elite hadn't thought this through. Johnny has already slipped into storytelling mode, animatedly telling the tale of one of his latest exploits to the two youngest people there, the teenage daughters of the Sinclair family, who are giggling loudly in the corner, earning disapproving looks from some of the older attendees.

    "Don't I wish." Beaumont chuckles a bit. "I'd much rather be with my reporters, to be honest, but publishing the Ledger leaves little time for that, and a lot of time for situations like this. Not that this is bad, mind you."

    "Can I tempt you?" He holds up a long stemmed glass of champagne with a half-smile. "Or does the sharky part of you react badly to such things?" Beaumont's battles with alcoholism were well known in both the hero and civilian communities. He'd curbed the worst of his excesses, but still never seemed to miss a chance to offer toasts and drinks to those around him.

    "A toast, Fletcher? Well, can't say I'm shocked, but you've picked a good one." Hieronymus King approaches and picks up a glass from the tray, misinterpreting (perhaps deliberately, you're not sure) Beaumont's offer to you as a cheer. He gives you an appraising, and apparently approving glance, nodding and raising his own flute of champagne. "To Sharkguard. I've never had the honor of meeting you in person, sir. Must say, the TV cameras don't do ya justice. You're damn near a giant. Glad you work for the side of the angels, and it's nice to see you out for these kids. Lot of them could really use the pick-me-up from today."

    Hearing King speak is odd. His words seem genuine enough. His body language and expressions are all correct for someone expressing his sorts of feelings, but there's a weird undercurrent, an oiliness, like he's channeling the world's most sinister used car salesman.

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    Sharkguard notices Megastar and Johnny having their chatting sessions. He wondered why in the world they would send a teenager to an event, even if said teen was one of the most elite heroes of his age Sharkguard knew of. The shark-man then looked at Johnny, who was much more at ease compared to Megastar. Though Sharkguard didn't always approve of Johnny's... Somewhat womanizing habits, they were sometimes nice to have among the social circles, especially when some people were out of place such as Megastar and the shark-man.

    Being tempted by Beaumont for a toast, Sharkguard wasn't surprised at the offer. The shark-man however wasn't too used to such things like fine wine. Once working as a sailor, Sharkguard was more used to downing large amounts of more rough kinds of alcohol; ale, beer, whiskey, such kinds and other similar beverages. To respond to the retired superhero, Sharkguard says, "Well I can't say that such fine wine is a proper fit for me. But if you can get everyone," he gives a quick look around, remembering some of the younger people here, "er, Mostly everyone, to raise a toast as well in honor of this fundraiser, then I'd agree." The shark-man was pretty confident that Beaumont wouldn't have an issue routing everyone to the toast.

    Sharkguard's attention then turns to Hieronymus King, who comes in with a cheer. He always was wary of the CEO, hearing about the numerous ruthless acts King made for his benefit. Sharkguard didn't want to spoil either of their images however in trying to start an argument, so rather he tried to go along with it like a friend. After all, better the CEO than the Rosses. "No need to embarrass me sir," he responds to King calmly. "I appreciate it if this toast goes to the fundraiser now, this isn't just about me after all." Sharkguard kept reminding himself to remain civil. No pirate accent, no shouting, no boisterous attitude; that will come latter.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-03-07 at 10:08 PM.
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