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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Bounce
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G O T H A M C I T Y

Highway 204 Northbound

The vanity plate on the back was REDBIRD.

For day to day commuting for work, Dick had an unmarked police version of a Chevrolet Impala. For personal trips, he had something far less practical.

His feet alternated pressure on the pedals, as he eased back on the gas and engaged the clutch. His right hand smoothly guided the transmission, manually guiding the gearshift. Then he let off the clutch and opened it up as he hit the foot of Trigate Bridge into Gotham.

“What about Freddy?” the man asked, letting off the gas and shifting the car into neutral. Inertia carried them, coasting along as the pair headed into the more clustered nature of traffic inside the city. They were continuing the line the discussion from yesterday, about Toyboy having a name of his own.

Toyboy was perched up against the passenger window like a puppy. “The killer from Nightmare on Elm Street?” the doll uttered in reply, which seemed to be his answer.

Every name that Dick came up with seemed to be a serial killer or theatrical psychopath. “How about...” the man began, pausing as he navigated from out of the left lane and into position for the ramp that would put them on Plumber Street. “...Damian?”

“The kid from the Omen?” To be honest, until Toyboy had said the name of the film, Dick had completely forgotten about that one. Son of the Devil? Psychotic little bastard? Yeah, Dick could understand when Toyboy’s final answer was, “Pass.”

Returning his hand to the gearshift, Dick downshifted into third and then let the car coast in neutral along the contour of the ramp before he engaged the gear and gave the engine some gas again. “There’s always Winslow,” the man deadpanned with a wry grin.

Ugh,” Toyboy uttered. “Hard pass.”

The lines on Dick’s face shifted as he flashed a smile. It seemed a rare occasion now. Another trait that he’d picked up from Bruce, perhaps.

Turning off of Plumber, Dick pointed the car down West 47th. In the distance, the S.T.A.R. Labs building could be seen up ahead.

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“He asked for a drink of water?”

It had been awhile since Dick had been inside of Dr. Charles lab space. It was certainly an improvement over the cold storage area where they’d pulled Toyboy from out of the mortuary-style closet. Examining a Picasso print on the wall, Dick casually answered, “Said his coolant levels were low.” Turning back toward the interior of the room, the man stepped over to where Toyboy was seated on a counter top. Placing a hand on the doll’s back, he added, “Now, I’ve never had a robot before, so I wasn’t sure how often I should bring him in for an oil change.”

An eyebrow slipped up high on Sarah’s brow. “Interesting,” the woman remarked, before shifting attention from Dick to the child-like simulacrum. “So you have self-awareness of your own diagnostics?”

“Isn’t it like when the ‘check engine’ light comes on?”

“That’s a sensor,” Sarah offered in reply, giving a shake of her head. “Binary function. On or off. The car doesn’t tell you which sensor or what, specifically, to check.” Crossing her arms, she took a deep breath before she said, “This is a level of artificial intelligence we can’t pull off in 2019. Schott did this in 1980?”

“‘82 or ‘84, ma’am,” Toyboy noted. When both adults looked down at him, he gave a shrug and said, “I was kinda a work in progress for awhile.”

Sarah just blinked. Then a second time. A shake of her head, and the woman said, “All right, get his shirt off and I’ll see if I can find the computer cart.”

Immediately, Toyboy raised his arms up. Dick reached over to pull the shirt off and then set it down behind him. The half-naked doll waited there, until Sarah returned, wheeling in the same computer cart that they’d used from earlier. Two coaxial cables and a slew of thinner wires came out. Sarah handed the first coaxial cable to Toyboy, for connecting to the naval port. The second she passed to Dick.

Running a hand up along the nape of the doll’s neck, the man’s fingers found the port concealed in the hair and plugged the coaxial cable into the base of the boy’s skull. As they did, Sarah had an old laptop out and was starting to pull up a MS DOS window.

“Looks like one of his recirculating pumps is off-line,” the woman noted after another moment. Opening a second window, she typed a series of commands. Then paused to review the return before adding, “And total volume is below nominal.”

Dick was definitely not going to claim to be an expert in nuclear reactors generally. Horton Cell ones even less so. “So what, does he just cycle water around in there?”

Stepping away from the computer cart for a moment, Sarah sat down at her normal workstation and pulled up her files on Toyboy. The flatscreen television on the wall suddenly lit up, as Sarah displayed a photo of Toyboy’s body, with several wire diagrams overlaid. “It’s an interesting concept. Schott basically copied the pathways of the body,” Sarah commented, as the wire diagram highlighted in a variety of colors to denote the different identified components. “You probably don’t notice that Toyboy’s not breathing, because he does respirate. As the coolant loops filter through the lungs, there’s a gas exchange that vents through a sinus cavity to the mouth and nose. It gives Toyboy the illusion of having warm, moist breath.”

Standing up, the woman stepped over toward the screen and motioned with her hand to indicate the yellow colored diagram. “The primary coolant loop is a double helix originating in the abdomen, with the stomach divided into storage tanks that are retained and cycled through what you might call his intestines.”

Indicating the blue component next, she continued. “His heart is where the reactor is located,” she noted, indicating a mechanical organ that was precisely where Dick would have imagined a heart to have been. “Two chambers, a right ventricle and a left ventricle, housing the Horton Cells, though Schott appears to have made a major design flaw here.”

Dick looked from the illustrated schematic over to the woman. “Why do you say that?”

“The physical construct restricts Toyboy’s maximum power output,” Sarah remarked, pointing to the mechanical heart. Then, she offered, “My guess is that Schott just didn’t have any experience in reactor design. If he had full access to his Horton Cells, you could probably run all of Gotham City off him.”

Dick gave a slight laugh at that thought. “He doesn’t seem hindered much by that flaw,” the man remarked dryly.

Now it was Sarah’s turn to shrug. “I’ll need to get a team together to look at that pump,” the woman remarked, with a glance over to Dick. “The issue could be mechanical, electrical, software, firmware...” Turning back toward where Toyboy was sitting patiently atop the counter, with the laptop and cables plugged into him, the woman remarked, “I’d say it might take us some time to get it fixed, but I’d be talking years. If not decades.”

Dick did a double take at that announcement. “Sarah, I’m too old to be Nightwing and we’ve got a serial child killer on the loose,” the man uttered bluntly. “Toyboy’s the one who found those thirteen kids under the storage center and fought off their kidnapper. I’d like to have him back out there this week.”

A sigh. “Dick, Toyboy’s amazing by modern standards. But he’s not operating off modern standards. He’s running 1980’s era technology,” Sarah remarked, turning to face the man as she continued. “Even if we do manage to get his coolant system fully functional again, I’m not sure we’re going to be able to keep doing this.”

Motioning to the computer cart and the admittedly dated HP laptop on it, she commented, “This is the only laptop we have that still has a version of DOS on it. We should have thrown it away five or seven years ago, but Cindy in the cybernetics lab likes the autoCAD program on it because it’s what she used to compose her doctoral thesis, but if this laptop shits the bed or gets replaced…”

“Would it ever be possible to get Toyboy running modern software?”

“Dick, Toyboy shouldn't be possible at all,” Sarah countered, a tad more passionately than he’d expected. “The technology of 1982 didn’t have the capability to do what Schott wanted it to do, so he created his own programming language. In an era where an operating system would have been about a hundred lines of code, if that, Toyboy’s composed of millions of lines that we don’t understand, let alone begin to decipher.”

This time it was Dick who gave a heavy sigh. Glancing up at the ceiling, for a moment it was clear that the man was debating what he was about to do next. Then, finally, he reaching inside of his coat and pulled out a small case. Opening the case, he produced an SD card in the palm of his hand.

Sarah just had a quizzical look on her face. “What’s that?”

“The Rosetta Stone,” Dick stated dryly, holding it out for her to take. “If there’s something not there, I can go through what I have in storage and see if there’s a blueprint of schematic that I hadn’t scanned.”

Taking the SD card with the fingers of both hands, Sarah Charles just stared at the small chip, as though still having trouble digesting the reality of what Dick had just handed her. “You’ve had this the whole time.”

It wasn’t a question.

“We spent ten years trying to reverse engineer Toyboy and you had the master files the whole time?” the woman barked, looking up at Dick with nothing shy of hell’s own fury.

Dick just gave a shrug. Stepping back over to Toyboy, he ruffled the doll’s hair as he passed toward the door. “Read the notes about Toyboy’s heart,” the man offered cryptically, as he stood by the exit.

“I think you’ll find something there.”
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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06/22/46
Gotham Central
7:21 AM

Charlie Fields said, "Scotty Lees. Damn. Over the years I probably lost five hundred bucks betting on and against that bum."

Max sat at his desk in the Homicide pen. He eyeballed crime scene pix. Crime scene techs shot photos of Scotty Lee's body at various angles. They shot photos of the broken window and the motel room where he took the plunge. Max flipped through them. Something was off, he couldn’t place it. He tried for brain clicks. His brain clicked out. He tossed the photos on the desk.

Pix mingled with framed photos. Photos of Mary, photos of Max with Alice in the years before it fell apart. One of stone-faced USMC Lt. Eckhardt. The photo took him back to Guadalcanal. The heat and bugs. Flamethrowers and charging bunkers. A Jap commander with a samurai sword. The smell of burning flesh and the sound of screaming Japs.

Max blinked and looked over at Fields, "What was he like? Lees, I mean."

Charlie raised an eyebrow. “Not a boxing guy?”

Max shrugged. “More of a baseball man.”

"Well, Scotty was a puncher. He never had a defense, always went for the big hits and didn't protect his face. The last fight of his I saw ended in a TKO. The little negro he was fighting kept working a cut on his eyebrow. Kept tagging it until the ref called the fight in the sixth round. If a fighter could go the distance with Scotty and avoid his punch they could turn him into hamburger meat."

Max scratched his neck. "He's hamburger meat now."

Max checked his watch. Another late night turned into a long morning. He was supposed to take Mary to school. He called Mrs. Roselli next door and told her the details. She agreed to get her up and ready and to school for a few bucks. Another night and day without seeing his daughter. He kept promising her he'd take time off. He had vacation time accrued. As soon as he went off nights he'd take a long vacation.

Charlie walked off. Max went back to the case file. Something gnawed. He put his finger on it: Scotty Lees: punchdrunk and a half-wit for sure. Suicidal? It didn't jive with cooperating with the DA on a major investigation. A sign flashed in his head: YOU MISSED SOMETHING.

The phone ringing snapped him out of his reverie.

"This is Eckhardt."

"My office."

Max hung up and hit the lieutenant's office. Lieutenant Boyle sat behind his desk. Boyle was rail thin. He was trying some experimental treatment for the Big C. Cancer ate at his lungs going on five years now, since before Max left for the Pacific. Boyle’s clothing sagged off him. His hair fell out in clumps. He still smoked like a freight train. The fuck was too nasty let cancer do him in.

Boyle with no preamble. "You caught the jumper from last night, yeah?"

"Yes, sir."

"It's a suicide, right?"

Boylet lit a cigar. Max bristled. Boyle almost always gave them a long leash working murders. Now he was calling it a day. He was short shifting it. Something did not wash.

Max futzed with his necktie and said, "I want to wait on the medical examiner's official report on cause of death before I rule anything out or come to any conclusions. I'd also like to conduct an interview with the two officers and the remaining witnesses and find out what they have to say."

A voice behind him, deep and southern drawl. "Hell, I can get all that for you, Sergeant."

Two-Gun Jack Grogan strolled in. Max knew him by reputation and rumor alone. He wore six-guns and spat tobacco. He killed six men in the line of duty. He ran bag for Mayor Hill and the DA. He did the dirty work for Congressman Thorne. He shook down the mob for campaign contributions. He once beat a drug dealer to death for spitting on his boots. He was beaucoup bad news.

Grogan flopped in the chair beside Eckhardt. He stretched out and put a new plug of tobacco in his cheek. He looked at Eckhardt and winked.

"I got a meeting with the DA in an hour. He is gonna tear me a new asshole and I'm gonna try and calm him down, but I can expect he'll be mighty pissed. This was supposed to be his stepping stone to the US Senate."

Boyle blew cigar smoke and said, "His case was dependent on a Mexican obsessed with barely legal trim and a feeb with a battered brain. That was a pretty damn shaky stepping stone."

Grogan slapped a knee. It meant son, you slay me.

Two-Gun Jack said, "Sergeant, I will talk to my men about setting up an interview with you sometime later today. Joe Porter's wrath is looming close at hand, so I'll worry about that at the moment."

Boyle pointed at Max. He said, "I want your preliminary report written up by noon today. If Captain Grogan can't get his men to talk to you, I still want a final summation no later than the day after tomorrow. Understood, Sergeant?"

Max looked at Grogan. The captain grinned, flashing brown spit covered teeth. He spat tobacco juice in a paper cup and winked again.

Max nodded slowly and said, "Understood."

*****​


District Attorney's Office
8:30 AM

"Do you know what you've fucking cost me?"

District Attorney Joe Porter fumed at Slam. He sat at a desk fuck orgy-sized big. The entire wall behind him was glass. It looked out over the city. Three ADAs flanked his desk. They stonewalled Slam. They played indifferent. They gave him stink-eyes across the board. Grogan sat beside Slam. He held his hand up and called for peace.

Two-Gun Jack said, "Now, Joe, it ain't Samuel's fault he fell asleep. If you're looking for a scapegoat, blame me. I had him and Burke working a double shift before they relieved Harris and Simpson last night."

Porter pointed at Grogan. "Oh, I do blame you, Jack. I blame you and I blame him and if not for your fucking clout with the mayor, I would have you both charged with dereliction of duty and have you run out the PD!"

Grogan sniffed and lowered his eyelids. He went from agreeable to bored like that. When he spoke, the southern drawl was a little diminished and the charm was all the way gone. "If. If I weren't so tight with the mayor. If I didn't help get contributions to his slush fund. If I didn't help contributions to yourslush fund. If I didn't help your daughter get out of that jam with those nigger hopheads. If I didn't know all your dirty little secrets. If you didn't need me, and if I didn't need Samuel. That's a lot of goddamn ifs, Joe."

Porter's face went coronary red. He threatened to burst a blood vessel. An eyelid twitched. Grogan barely kept it together. Slam wanted to laugh out loud.

Porter said softly, "Go. Both of you get out of my sight. I'll be talking with Commissioner Akins soon."

They breezed out. They hit Gorgan's car and hit the parkway. Two-Gun Jack drove. They both laughed out loud and made fun of Porter. Their laughter subsided. Conversation hit a lull.

Grogan said, "Did you talk to the homicide man who showed up at the scene this morning?"

"Yeah. Eckhardt was his name."

Grogan spat tobacco juice and said, "What do you know of him?"

"Nothing other than he smelled like booze."

Grogan chuckled an expounded. "He wants to interview you, Burke, and Garcia about the events this morning. I said I would allow it. You caught a whiff of hooch? That’s with good reason. Max Eckhardt is a primo lush. They call him Whiskey Max. He has a stick up his ass and grand illusions about his career. He wants to make rank, but he can't stay sober long enough to make a decent case. He used to be ruthless and ambitious, but he's been worn down by this city, the war, and the bottle. Those things can do that to weaker men, Samuel. Men like us are resilient. Despite his boozing, Whiskey Max is still highly dangerous. If you made any mistakes with Scotty, he’ll come for you."

Slam popped his knuckles.

"He can fucking try."

*****​


GCPD Western District Station
11:40 AM

Max stretched. He fought back cramps. He sat in his car and took pulls off a flask of gin. Max knew he should be home sleeping. Night work fucked with his sleep cycle. He worked when the sun was down and slept when it was up. Insomnia seeped into the sleep and blew it up all to hell. The booze helped him stay asleep, but it did not bring sleep on.

The case also contributed to no sleep. He banged out a quick first summation report to Boyle. It said Scotty Lees was a probable jumper. A caveat at the end: He would not confirm that fact until the morgue cut loose its findings later tonight. Doubt ate at him. YOU MISSED SOMETHING flashed big time. YOU MISSED SOMETHING meant he got no sleep.

THIS helped to bring forth sleep. It calmed his nerves. It was a weekly routine. He was parked down the road from the Western station house. Prowl cars cruised by. Max sat low in his seat. They came and went. THERE: radio car 223. HIS car. It swooped into the parking lot. HE got out. Marcus Driver in uniform. His golden blonde hair hidden under his cap. Sergeant stripes on his sleeves. Max's pulse raced. Driver talked to a fellow uniformed officer. He rubbed his chin as he laughed. He smiled. Max swooned. He went gaga. Four years since 04/17/42 and he still peeped him from afar. His house, his job, anywhere Max knew he'd be.

The radio squaked, dispatch asking for a follow-up. He keyed the mic and talked. Said summons turned out to be bullshit. Alice’s lawyer asking for a callback or else. He pulled out on to the street and found the closest payphone and fed it quarters. He got an operator to direct the call to Merv Hamilish’s office .

The shyster was cheerful: “Sergeant Eckhardt. Good morning. Maybe I should say good afternoon by now. It’s almost noon, sergeant. Hopefully you’re not too inebriated.”

Max played it nonchalant. “Say what you have to say so I can get back to work.”

Work, right… well, I’d like you to know that we’re suing for custody of little Mary. You’ll be served papers in the coming days, sergeant.”

Max gripped the phone so hard his knuckles turned white. He felt sweat drip. His legs went rubbery. His world started to spin. Max got tight. He practically mumbled. “You can’t do this.

The lawyer chuckled. “There’s an old adage, sergeant: to the child the mother belongs.”

His eyelid twitched. “Alice gave up her rights to my daughter the minute she walked out on us. How is that going to look to a judge? You forget who I am, Hamlish? What I did?”

“I know very well who you are, sergeant. And I know your daughter sees babysitters and neighbors more than she sees you. As for what you did, sergeant? I know what you did… quite well..”

Max felt his stomach drop. Implications, but the threat was clear: Alice told the fucker about 04/17/42. The day before he shipped out for the Pacific. Alice threw him a going away party. Neighbors and PD friends mingled with spiked punch and finger foods. Max caught Driver’s eye. They meet in the bathroom for a quickie. A farewell fuck. They’re mid-coupling when Alice walked in. Alice dropped a plate of cold cuts when she saw Max had Driver in his mouth. Their marriage went up in flames. She kept up a facade to the neighbors while he was gone. She never wrote him a letter for the two years he was gone. Two days after he’s back, she packed a bag and left for parts unknown.

Hamlish came off smug. He said, “We can do this two ways, sergeant. You can forfeit your rights to sole custody of Mary without a fuss. Or we can go in front of a judge and make this real nasty.”

Max said, “Fuck you,” and pulled the phone’s handset until the cord snapped. He let it clatter to the ground and ran back to his car.

He drove with shaking hands back to the Western station house. Driver was long gone. He skedaddled during Max’s phone call. Max sighed. His longing for Driver simmered with his dread. He put his head on the steering wheel. He banged his forehead against the wheel again and again and--

THERE.

He sat upright. Leg cramps and back cramps cramped him cripple. Brainwaves blew strooong. THAT'S IT flashed in his head. He dug through the backseat. Case files piled up. He found the Lees file. He flipped through it. He found IT. The excitement burned through the booze. He felt a hangover come on strong. A headache pounded. He felt jacked. To hell with sleep. He started his car and blew code 3 across town.

The Gotham Arms. Crime scene rope still on the sixth floor. Crime scene pix in his arms. Max walked the room in grids. He rehashed original crime scene walkthrough. The THERE right in front of his face. An indent in the wall beside the window Scotty Lees fell out of. Max looked at the picture, compared it with the real McCoy. Something made that dent. Something smashed against the wall. That something was Scotty Lees' head. Max worked angles and heights. Scotty topped out at 6'2. The angle skewed tall. Someone grabbed Scotty's forehead and smashed it into the wall. Max went back to last night Feature: Slam Bradley. Swanky Slam came in at 6'4” easy.

Angles, brain clicks, thesis, and theory made a theorem.

Theorem: Slam Bradley smashed Scotty Lees' head into the wall. He made Scotty woozy and pushed him out the window. Bradley made it look like a suicide. Bradley worked for Two-Gun Grogan. Grogan pulled strings. Grogan ran rackets. Grogan and Bradley wanted the job shit canned. They were politically connected. The boxing probe was all political pandering. Powerful people wanted it to perish.

Summation: Bradley killed a state witness in cold blood to derail Porter’s investigation. Max pulled out his flask and slugged booze while he figured out his next move.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Dblade26
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Dblade26

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Location: Star City, The Star Bridge
Crisis! Part 2

Interaction(s): Soon to be Valor and the LoS
Previously: Crisis! 1


Connor was pretty sure that for most people 'first time borrowing Dad's car' didn't happen in the middle of a super-terrorist attack. At least Stanley was controlling it remotely with the help of some sort of on-board guidance system. He just had to trust that the butler knew what he was doing. Then again what else was new? It was weird that his first real moment for reflection came while sitting in the cockpit of a super-car racing to save lives. But now that he had time to think he felt like being stuck in a rocket car piloted by someone else was a good metaphor for his life lately.

Sure he'd told Roy it was his choice and he wasn't lying. He'd chosen this life and done a lot of good with it, he hoped. Just like he'd chosen to get in the car. But from the beginning he'd barely thought anything through. He went after Brick because...well, Brick was there and the biggest criminal name in the city. He hadn't known anything about Brick's history or motivations or even his operations beyond what little he'd read in articles and seen firsthand. Oh sure, Brick had done his whole motive rant before all the...unpleasantness but other than that Connor knew nothing about the guy. Once Overwatch involved herself he had thought about things even less. At first he was just grateful to have any help. Then he just went where she told him, beat up some guys and trusted things would work out. Even beating Brick was just...something that fell into place for him.

It was like he'd been an arrow aimed at someone else's target. He'd just flown forward with no control of his own. Neither of those was the best metaphor but he had a long way to go before matching Master Jansen's skill with koans or imagery. Anyway 'No Mind' might be a positive thing for meditation, but no way it was a positive thing in vigilantism, right? That was another thing! What did all this mean for his faith anyway? He'd left the monasteries behind. He'd even given up his initiation into the sangha too, the whole monastic community. What was left for him now? He'd never given it any thought...

Even from high speed and a distance the looming cables and towers of the Star Bridge were unmistakable and they shook him out of his contemplation. So when Stanley told him "Now slowing down for approach, young sir" he was already expecting it. What he wasn't expecting was the pure devastation around him once the world stopped blurring. There were hunks of twisted, burning metal that were once cars piled everywhere. People had gotten out on foot and even crawled still injured from their cars from the look of it, just to bash each other's heads in. Those who still had working vehicles were either getting ready to weaponize them or else uninfected and panicking.

A slight whine from his mask was Connor's first clue that the in-lense cameras were active. Sounds of shock and horror from Overwatch and Stanley echoed his own. Before any of them could even decide where to start a plane started falling from the sky right toward one of the main suspension towers. "Guys, I don't think I have an arrow for that!"

Connor felt helpless watching it plummet toward the bridge, just hoping that it wouldn't take the whole thing out and the buildings beyond along with hundreds, maybe thousands of innocents. When flying figures suddenly caught the plane and then actually started turning it away, all that helplessness turned to pure joy and relief. Unfortunately for the young archer that didn't last long. Something went wrong, then a wing ripped clean off and exploded midair and the two saviors went plummeting down even as the plane's remnants started falling at a much safer angle.

"Well can't just sit back and let everyone else play the hero, right?" Connor started visually ransacking the dashboard for the correct button. At the same time he flipped through a memorized manual in his head looking for- The big green button, duh! Connor had never tried a maneuver like this but he'd seen Oliver and Roy do it in news footage before. This was either going to work and be awesome or...Well, Connor had always liked pancakes. Ignoring the cold fear in his stomach as best he could, Connor flicked open the little protective casing and punched the side of the bisected button closest to him.

The supercar's canopy burst open and suddenly he was rocketing through the air toward the falling heroes, a living arrow. It was ridiculous and he had no idea how it actually worked but he immediately understood why the mechanism had appealed to Oliver so much. The freezing wind lashing his face and the brief feeling of flight was awesome and liberating. Thankfully just not distracting enough to make him forget what he was doing.

His flight path was set to intercept the man who'd caught the nose of the plane head on, but the one who'd walked on air would be too far to reach! Well, he couldn't be in two places at once, but a mid-air shot on a falling target while moving at high speed? No problem! Muscle memory guided his fingers to the right arrow and he placed it in the thicker fabric where her cape blended with her collar. A second later and he was drawing back another arrow until he heard the *click!* of something in the nock securing itself to his bowstring. He twisted in flight, launched an arrow-line at a gleaming support tower and secured the bow to his back. All barely in time to catch the falling hero in his arms.

It was a harder collision that the young Emerald Archer was going for and it knocked the wind out of him hard. He barely managed to keep his arms wrapped around the guy while they plummeted. The magnetic arrowhead latched onto the metal of Star Bridge and slowly drew his drag-line taut. Their fall slowed then stopped and Connor gasped in relief, staring into water that was far too close. He'd operated on instinct and training for those few moments. Now terror at all his near-misses rushed back in full force and left him feeling like he'd already been dunked in the sea.

As the grapple started automatically reeling them back up he remembered the girl and risked a quick, panicked glance over to his other target. He found her floating safely downward with a parachute blooming from the fletching embedded in her collar and his fear started to drain away. The whole thing had happened stupidly fast, but he'd actually pulled it off, somehow. From what felt like a far off distance he heard voices buzzing in his earpiece and noticed that the man he'd rescued was conscious, if maybe stunned.

"Real stylish aerial bridal carry! Soooooo, does this count as a meet-cute?" Connor didn't know what Overwatch meant but it sounded like it should make him uncomfortable. Stanley's "Well done young Sir, an excellent use of the catapult seats!" was much more straightforward praise. As for his passenger...

"Uh, hi? I'm Green Arrow, welcome to Star City. Can you fly? Because my arms are really freaking tired!"

Smooth as always, the perfect way to introduce himself in his first ever team-up.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Retired
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Retired "Hayao Miyazaki"

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Manhattan, New York City | Present Day

Chapter One | Part Seven

The four adolescents were situated in a loose circle, using crates as makeshift chairs. After announcing her presence, Kitty had quickly explained at Eli's prompting as to how she had found them. Having followed the trio back to the warehouse, subtly sticking to the shadows and using her ability to slip under the surface, it was then only a matter of waiting, hidden and observing. Although she had witnessed the duo of Elijah and Koriand'r risk their lives to save the boy, she had wanted more information before acting. It had become obvious each of the three had been equally as clueless on the motivations of Garfield's attackers, but it was also clear to Kitty that they were all genuinely decent. And, perhaps, she had believed, they could all help one another.

Kitty had spent the better part of the last hour debriefing everyone on what she knew based on her investigations of the missing mutant children. Elijah, for his part, had been a mostly silent yet attentive audience. To her, he gave the vibe of someone who was deeply contemplative and calculating. It was only after she had finished relaying her story that he began clarifying certain aspects.

Koriand'r, on the other hand, had been extremely vocal. Every other sentence had been interrupted by the redhead asking some of the most ridiculous questions. When she asked what the internet was, Kitty had begun to suspect something was off with the girl. She had put it off as Koriand'r being heavily sheltered, though. Given the ignorance of many modern commodities, and between the odd name and curious speech affectations, Kitty thought maybe Koriand'r came from an isolated, conservative family. Or an Amish community, perhaps. One who had hidden her away once they discovered she was a metahuman. With her own history of hiding from the outside world, Kitty figured it was a possibility. Knowing it wasn't a priority, however, and wanting to respect her privacy, she hadn't pressed the issue.

Then there was Garfield. Her first thought upon seeing him up and around was that he looked even younger than she had first believed. He seemed to be twelve, at most, she had thought. His scruffy, long hair had hidden much of his youthful face from a distance, and the green skin made it hard to tell initially. But the boy was small and frail. The torn hoodie he wore looked twice his size. Kitty was sure if she lifted the cloth up it'd reveal a skin and bones torso, ribs threatening to push out. She had almost cried when Garfield revealed he had been living on the streets alone for the past year. She couldn't imagine what the poor kid must have gone through, how he had starved and suffered, solely because he happened to be a mutant.

Worse, though, was having to reveal to Garfield that his supposed friend, Charlie, had been one of his attackers. The disappointment, confusion, and a whole host of other emotions that flashed across his face, followed by the fake smile that his lips stretched into as he cracked a joke at his own expense had broken Kitty's heart. It also made her blood boil and only reassured her she was making the right decision in her new crusade.

"So, you think these Purifiers are the guys responsible for all these missing kids? And the ones who attacked Garfield are a part of them?" Asked Elijah.

Kitty shook her head. "No. I mean, I did at first. Seemed to fit their style, going after young metahumans. But one of those guys who attacked Garfield was powered, and no way those supremacist jerks would taint their cherished purity like that."

Elijah nodded, apparently understanding, but Garfield's brow furrowed.

"But why me? I'm nobody..."

Eli offered a sympathetic hand on the boy's shoulder. "No offense, but if these guys were really after you because you're a mutant, then you were just an easy target. They're cowards who go after and manipulate helpless kids. It's nothing you did."

"Metahuman," Kitty said.

"What?"

"Metahuman. Not mutant," she pointed out.

"Oh, uh, right. Sorry. I didn't realize. I'm sorry." Elijah apologized somewhat sheepishly.

Kitty smiled reassuringly. She knew there was no need to tell him the term had a different connotation coming from a non-metahuman. "No worries."

Just then, Koriand'r chimed in. "If not these Purifiers you speak of, then who is responsible? I believe earlier you said you could help answer that question."

"Right," Kitty said, thankful that the conversation was steered back to the main point. "So, during the fight when you knocked out that Charlie creep, he dropped something."

Reaching into her back pocket, she retrieved a small piece of cardstock and held it up to the group. Printed on it in bold, capitalized letters was the heading META SOLUTIONS. Beneath in smaller text followed: Calvin Zabo, M.D., Ph.D. - Head Medical Researcher and Biochemist.

"Could be a coincidence, but it would seem like a pretty big one to me. Either way, it's the biggest lead I've gotten." Kitty told them, offering the business card to Elijah.

She continued, "I did some Googling on my phone while I was, uh, keeping an eye on you all. Meta Solutions is an independent research lab trying to find a cure for cancer. This guy, Zabo, is apparently brilliant. Whole lotta articles claiming he's the closest out of anyone to finding a cure. He specializes in hormone treatment and I guess he even made a serum a couple years back that increased the natural healing rate in rats or something. All from hormones."

Kitty looked expectantly back and forth between Garfield and Koriand'r, expecting them to see the link. It was Eli that caught on, though.

"And everyone keeps saying that the metagene that gives you your abilities are hormone based. That's why metahumans usually develop their powers around puberty." Eli turned the card over in his fingers. "So you're thinking this doctor might be responsible?"

"Maybe," Kitty answered. "I mean, he wouldn't be the first immoral doctor to run experiments on people for the supposed betterment of mankind. There are examples of it all throughout history. And if he thinks something about the metagene holds the solution to curing cancer and all the amounts of money that comes with that... We're talking billions of dollars, guys."

"So it's all about money?" Garfield asked. Kitty could see his hands grip the edge of the crate tightly.

"That's my guess, at least. Greed runs the world."

"This does not seem right," added Koriand'r. "Is there no authority who such crimes could be reported to?"

Kitty snickered. "Yeah. Like the NYPD's going to listen to an anonymous tip about a respected doctor kidnapping young mutants with zero evidence. Even with evidence I'm not sure they'd do anything."

Eli ran a hand across his smooth head and sighed. "But, let me guess. You plan to do something about it."

"I'm not going to just sit by and let this keep happening. Those kids need help. Like Garfield did." Kitty responded, a little defensively.

"I know you've got abilities, but if you go in there alone and you're right about all of this, you're bound to get yourself killed," Elijah told her. "You saw what the guy Starfire fought was capable of. No offense, you're sneaky, but what can you really do against him if it comes down to a fight?"

I can take care of myself, Kitty thought reactively. She stopped herself from voicing this opinion, though, knowing it wouldn't help her earn any favors here.

Instead, she said: "Well, that's the thing... I don't think I need to do this alone."

She let that hang there for a moment, trading glances at each of the three individuals before her.

"I've seen you do what's right." She said to Elijah before turning towards Koriand'r. "And I've seen you fly around and throw a guy twice your weight with ease. I know you can handle yourself. And you, Garfield—"

"I can turn into animals!" The young boy blurted, jumping to his feet excitedly. "I know it doesn't sound super impressive, but it is. I can fight, too."

Kitty flashed him a smile. "That sounds impressive to me. All I can do is walk through solid objects. And I kind of mess up electronics if I pass through any. But that won't stop me from fighting for what's right. And if I have to do it alone I will. But I was really hoping you'd all help me. That you'd help all those poor kids who were taken away from their families."

"I'm in!" Garfield shouted. "I'm so in."

Koriand'r levitated off of the crate, her eyes glowing briefly as she clutched her fist passionately to her chest. "I, too, will assist in rescuing these children!"

Grinning, Kitty turned to Eli. "And you?"

The young man also rose to his feet, sighing once more.

"It's okay. Really, I get it, it's not your fight, and—"

"No," Elijah interrupted. "I'm going. There's no way in Hell I'm not helping. But if we're doing this, we need a plan. And supplies. We can't just rush in there without knowing what to expect. We have to do this smart, okay?"

"I was thinking the same thing." Kitty's grin widened. "You know, for a bunch of strangers, you're all pretty amazing. I can't thank you enough for doing this."

"Thank us after we get those kids out," Eli said. "For now, why don't we start with figuring out everyone's capabilities."

"Dude, yes. Now you're speaking my language!" Garfield gestured excitedly towards the hovering redhead. "I so want to see what you can do."

"I have to admit," Kitty added, "I'm really curious about you, Koriand'r. You took so many hits in that fight and kept going. Your skin was practically peeling away, but you look fine now. You're strong and you heal fast?"

Koriand'r beamed. "I am most curious about you as well. I have never seen a being with abilities such as yours before."

She began unraveling the bandages on her left arm. The cloth slipped away to reveal patches of red among the golden tan. Much of the blistering had already vanished but the skin was still clearly raw.

"You are correct, though. Tamaraneans process certain energies better than other races. I believe the terminology is... ultraviolet radiation?" Koriand'r made a fist, flexing as she continued to explain. "This allows us considerable physical resilience and other benefits. I am finding my wounds heal much faster than I am accustomed to. I am not a scientist, but I believe this is because of the proximity of Earth's primary star. It is a very unexpected but appreciated experience. I am already feeling much better."

"Dude, that's so cool! I bet you're as strong as Wonder Woman!" Proclaimed the youngest of the group.

Kitty cocked her head to the side, chewing her bottom lip lightly. "Um, wait a sec. Tamaraneans? Is that..." Her eyes flicked back and forth between Koriand'r and Elijah.

"You're a metahuman, right? You're just, like..." Kitty replayed all the oddities she had noticed from the statuesque, cheerful young woman over the last hour. "Koriand'r, where are you from?"

Elijah interjected quietly, taking a step closer to the two girls. "Starfire, maybe we shouldn't do—"

"I am from the planet Tamaran in the Vega System." Koriand'r replied unhesitatingly. "And I am not a metahuman. I am not human at all."

Kitty narrowed her eyes, scanning the other girl's face for any signs of teasing or dishonesty. She was greeted with that same overly cheerful, smiling expression. Her gaze flipped towards Eli who was now burying his head in an open palm.

Kitty slumped back down onto the crate. "Well fuck."
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by DocTachyon
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DocTachyon Teenage Neenage Neetle Teetles

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Issue 9.2




New York City, NY --- Manhattan




Peter had heard of the Blue Beetle before, but he had always seemed like more of a hobbyist than anything -- a few stories here and there, nothing major. Not that it was much more than a hobby for Peter, anyway, but that the man decided to stick around for Supervillain Happy Hour said something about his character. Whether it said he was suicidal or heroic Peter wasn’t entirely sure, but it was better riding high in space-age tech than it was swinging through grungy streets and fighting the worst kind of flash mob this side of Star City.

The Bug’s interior was like the Jetsons had met the modern age -- futuristic technology called down to Earth by curved plates of blue metal and screens embedded in every surface. It was mad science and careful precision all in one; tremendous shining scanners and stealth shielding controllers paired with exposed sores overflowing with wires of every color, giving insight into the guts of the machine. Lightning in a bottle.

It was everything every tech company on the planet wanted: next gen stealth tech, unbelievable speed, and Peter had a feeling that the onboard systems would give anything Luthor or Wayne/Sionis was putting out a run for their money. He knew that Norman would burn down the city for it if he had the chance, Lord knows OsCorp couldn’t put it together themselves. That left Kord, but Ted probably had better things to do than cramming his dad-bod into a Blue Beetle suit.

Pfft, Ted, first name basis. I’ll just invite him down for some Smash Bros and pizza. On the other hand, he was more familiar with Kord than the clown in the blue jumpsuit. He was a whirlwind through the cockpit, pressing at buttons and pulling levers as the giant bug whirred over Manhattan, bound for Herald Square. His gun jingled at his hip, rustling against the fabric of his jumpsuit. It was all smooth, a hard metal chassis over some mechanism Peter could not describe. Something about it made his skin crawl, he felt the suit bunching up at the back of his neck.

He rubbed at it and went to the port window and gazed out over the city through the yellowed glass. More fires and pillars of smoke reached out from the city like black tentacles dragging at the sky. He put a hand against the glass. He felt the steady hum of the engine as The Bug swooped low. Quiet screams reverberated through the metal, from somewhere in the lost city below. Peter looked back to the Blue Beetle, tapping away at his machines.

Some average joe in a beetle costume, here against all odds to fly the Bug-mobile into battle with gods and monsters whirling around like a metahuman themed edition of celebrity jeopardy. Maybe he was after fame, glory. Perhaps it was the adrenaline. Maybe this whole thing was to make one hell of a sales pitch for his wonder car. Could be personal tragedy, too, that always motivated the heroic types. The question nagged at Peter, a gnat swirling over his vision and blazing past his ears. They burned underneath his mask.

He thought about May and Ben and everyone back in Queens. They would be rejoicing in a bug free section of the city while Peter was playing mop up with the insect squad. He wondered if May had wound her way up to his room yet and discovered he wasn’t there, window ajar during the worst crisis the city had seen in decades.

He imagined her nagging and screaming over the phone, dropping Anna Watson’s name twelve times as she was given to do when she got stressed -- but the sound would be lost to the hordes roaming the streets like packs of hyenas, and the fleshy thud of fists into stomachs and bones cracking like firecrackers.

Like tenderizing meat. The thought welled up in Peter and laid back down on him like a weight on his chest. He stepped out of the Blue Beetle’s view and rolled his mask up over his nose; it was hard to breathe. Maybe some smoke was getting through the Bug’s filters.

Ben would be sitting at home now, watching that same smoke rise into the air through the same tube TV he’d had for years and had refused to get rid of. He’d be scratching at the little round scar and lines of stitches on his abdomen as Peter had seen him do when he did his crossword puzzles. The same scar from the tiny little brass bullet, now in a plastic evidence bag webbed inside the fireplace for safekeeping. The same bullet from one of Tombstone’s people.

Whoever he was, he probably didn’t have anything to do with this. At the moment he was likely ducking under alleyways and sewers and all the places people like him tried to hide from hell like this. He was almost certainly at his most vulnerable now, stretched thin trying to protect criminal assets when half his goons suddenly decided they liked murder more than dope.

Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find him even if I wanted to. He could be anyone. Peter’s mask began to leak down his face, sealing and binding itself back together into black silk as it passed his exposed lips. Until he hit the Thompson Memorial and looked for answers, all he could do was sit on his hands and wait. There was always the chance he wouldn’t find anything there, anyway -- it was already public that he’d hit the Police Station, and Tomby would’ve deduced what files he’d stolen and gotten his man out. Just like that, to the wind.

Spider-Man.. He was more like an insect, skittering around in a glass jar he couldn’t see. He turned on his heel and stalked back towards the window. He pressed his fingers against the glass. It vibrated in time with the engine, silent, but thrumming with power.

He imagined Flash Thompson, running scared through the streets and holding his red letterman tight to his body, with a hand clamped over his neck. Like it’d protect him from the bugs. He thought about all the times Flash had tripped him, taken his lunch money, thrown him down the halls and pumped his muscles like he was a goddamn god. Peter saw a slobbering group of muscle heads, bounding through the streets towards something he couldn’t see. He felt the liquid and sinew reinforcing his muscles, laced between the myofibril, his biceps were taut, bulging with impossible strength.

The Bug surged forward and Spider-Man spotted him, someone blue-and-yellow bounding over pavement and flinging himself over cars, with what looked like a little girl wrapped in his arms and the squadron of civilians snapping at his heels. A spiked tail trailed behind him, snapping in the wind. There was Peter’s X-Man.

And there’s something I can do about it.

“Pop the hatch B.B., I’m seeing bold and brash, twelve o’ clock!”

"Back moondoor," the Blue Beetle gestured to a closed trapdoor at the rear of the vehicle, "Opening in 3, 2, 1..." He hit a button on the console which briefly opened the door, and then quickly closed it again behind Spider-Man.

Spider-Man launched out of the hatch and twisted in the air. His first webline tagged The Bug’s bottom and his momentum carried him up The Bug’s bow and over again to the aft. The webline bounced against the stealth plating and it fizzled, adjusting to the change in scenery. He tapped his opposite wrist and a glob of webbing crumpled a car’s canopy a dozen yards in front of the X-Man with a resounding “THWANG”.

“Yo! Blue Man Group! Now or never!” He shot a long, trailing line down to the other hero and pulled himself up, wrapping the other line tightly around his fist.

If I dislocate another shoulder, I’m gonna kill somebody.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan The Real Dinoman

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Location: Central City
Post #1.10: Born to Run

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Nora


Four weeks since Flash fought the four Rogues.

Left, right, left, right, left right.

One foot in front of the other, each step faster than the last. His young legs were strong, his small frame was impressively fast, darting down the alleys, through a clothes line, down into the sidestreet, turning a corner he kept running, voices behind him. His breath was running shorter. The adult voices behind him were shouting, chasing him.

“Stop the brat!”

The lost sight of him when he turned the corner, him darting further down the street before they could follow and turning a second corner made them lose his scent properly.

“Where the hell did he go?”

And finally

“Shit, I think we lost him.”

The ginger haired boy was pressed against the fence, breathing as quietly as he could when the adult, tattooed, 250 pound man walked by. His heart was pounding, his hands felt numb, but he wasn’t scared. Perhaps due to the adrenaline or the runners high. After another few seconds of looking, the adult man decided that the kid had gotten away, like his partner suggested and turned back into the alley where they had run out of. The boy caught his breath, adjusting his red and silver cap, turning it backwards, his bangs poking through the front of the cap

“That was freaking close.” He admitted, hunching over slightly, hands on his knees to try and catch his breath. His red and white converse had come undone slightly, so he kneeled down to tie them, and as he did, the baseball bat came swinging through the fence, aiming for where his head had been moments ago.

“Shit.” the boy exclaimed, rolling on the dirt, facing the way of the bat, seeing the tattooed man and the bat in his hand.

“Think we’re fucking stupid, kid?!”

“I think you just might be. Considering you’re trying to be bad guys when you know this neighbourhood is protected by me.” He said, putting his hands to his face, his lips forming a cocky grin.

“Butch, look at this idiot. Who do you think you are, kid? Fuckin’ Batman?” The one goon told the second, Butch laughed.

“No, I’m not Batman. I’m someone far better.” He said, holding up the canvas bag he had jacked from the thugs.
“You want this bag, dirtbags? Come and get it.” He swung his fist towards them, but his entire weight was behind the momentum, feigning them and using it to turn himself around, holding onto the bag and running the other direction.

The two men returned to chasing him, running across the street, the teenager slid across the hood of a car that stopped when the driver saw him running. He ran into the alley, this one was a dead end, he got here before the goons, but they knew he ran into here, his only option was to hide - dump the bag and hide. He tossed the bag into the trash and hid behind the slight corner of the apartment on his left side, he found an iron pipe and grasped it in his gloved hand, his fingertips poking through the ‘tactical gloves’ he had bought on Ebay for 10 bucks.

He held the pipe close to his chest, like a sword, till he saw the shadow of the man with the bat, turning the corner, the kid swung the bat, striking the man in the nose, knocking him to the floor, surprising the other man.

“Boom bitch!” The kid shouted in excitement.

“WOO! What a swing!” He continued, the other thug grimaced and put up his hands.

“Let’s see how much of a smartass you are when I’m done wringing your neck!” The ginger kid knew that the two middle aged, somewhat overweight chain smokers were far more tired than he was, he had a chance despite the fact that they were each twice his weight. He swung the pipe, Butch caught it in his hand, he tried to jank the pipe out of Butch’s hand but that proved unfruitful. Butch chuckled and but his amusement was short lived as he got a swift kick to the nuts for his troubles. He groaned and the pipe was swung in his face, swatting him to the ground.

The first thug was now crawling to his feet, broken nose and asthma attack in full force.

“Dude. Just, stay down. You’re gonna get a heart attack at this rate.”

“Shut the fuck up!” He shouted and charged, his swing with the bat was a little too high, as the kid ducked out of the way and the bat collided with the brick wall, the vibrations through the aluminum hurt his hand as it left him wide open to be struck in the chest and then the face again with the pipe.

The teenager panted as both of the thugs were on the ground, he threw the pipe to the ground, hitting the ground with a metallic ‘clink’.

He grabbed the bag and got on his way, slinging it across his shoulder, when he felt one of the thugs grab his ankle with his tired hand.

“Who the hell are you?” His voice was weak, too dizzy from the concussion.

Wally turned the cap back, revealing the Flash Pin that was pinned to the front.

“I’m The Flash.” He said, delivering a swift kick to the thug’s head, knocking him out again.

Wally would run home, to his apartment in Downtown, the worst neighbourhood in the city, not too many blocks from where a certain someone lives.

He opened the door as quietly as he could, shutting it with equal care. His dad was sick, he had been sick for some months. Weak, even the slightest sound would often disturb him. But, something wasn’t the same today. There was a different energy in the house. A metallic smell stung the air, he saw a boot print in the hallway. His dad could barely walk, nonetheless wear boots.

He walked into his father's bedroom and was horrified to find the old man, Joseph West, former Police Detective of the CCPD, bleeding out on the floor, a seizure. His arm was broken, his face was beaten almost beyond recognition, on his chest a note was stapled.
Wallace fell to his father’s side, holding the old man, shouting for help. Trying to call his name, but Joe was unreachable, unconscious. Barely had any pulse. He scrambled for his cellphone, dialing 911. As he did, he noticed the note and what it read.

We know who you are Kid Flash
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Hidden 1 mo ago 30 days ago Post by Star Lord
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Star Lord Legendary Outlaw

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New York City, New York
Present Day

Issue #4.04
𝗪𝗢𝗡𝗗𝗘𝗥 𝗪𝗢𝗠𝗔𝗡 & 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗖

Diana was stuck with no means of escape or help while the bugs were biting her hands. Even know the bitings were intensifying, she was about to stand her ground until she saw lighting coming out of nowhere. Was it Zeus? Diana expected for the God to appear above her, but another teenager greeted her instead. He managed to take out all of the robotic bugs with ease. "So, uh, never thought I’d meet you like this. I’d imagine an autograph session, not an apocalypse. My name’s Static. You got a plan to take down that Stryfe chump, Wonder Woman?"

Static. Another metahuman with the ability to summon lightning. Diana took a quick look at his outfit and saw the little lighting symbol on his shirt. It wasn't like Supergirl's "S," but it was good enough. Then, she checked on her hands and saw the bite marks. She was amazed at the fact the bots had enough strength to leave marks. However, they didn't prevent her from using them. Diana looked back at Static and replied to his introduction. "I honestly don't know, Static. At the moment, nobody has any idea where Stryfe could be. But, let's deal with the infected below and then we can talk. There's something everyone should know about the tower."

Below them were still infected trying to grab their legs. Diana was going to deal with them by using her lasso, but she had an idea. "Static, can you use your powers to deal with the infected without killing them?"

The infected? Virgil's mind was still recovering from the utter surprise of meeting Wonder Woman, looking downwards to see what she meant. Oh, those infected. The horde within Central Park was moving slowly towards the both of them at the pace of slugs. Concentrating on them specifically. Odd. A floating woman and a teen with funky lightning powers wasn't exactly inconspicuous but why go towards difficult prey when there were plenty of civilians, still unrescued, on the ground? Did Stryfe program the drones to specifically go after metahumans? The sight of a limping infected man with his right eye missing broke him out of his reverie.

No time for theorizing. They were both lucky that the horde weren't wielding any firearms. They were futilely attempting their best to attack him and Wonder Woman such as piggybacking each other, doing an impression of an Olympics high-jumper or crawling onto trees or the hood of cars. Their screams of anger created an ear-bursting cacophony, frustrated that they couldn't break the laws of gravity. He replied back to Wonder Woman's question.

" Kill them? I'm not an electric chair, Wonder Woman." Virgil flashed a confident smile. " I've got a bunch of tricks to deal with these fools." He still had the juice. The problem was finding metal though. Central Park seemed almost entirely devoid of the substance that had birthed cities, seeing only buildings of wood and roads of grass instead. Virgil spotted several benches several yards away to his right, made out of old corrugated iron. He signed. It looked like he had to improvise. He reached his hand out towards it, ripping them out of the ground with a sharp shriek. He sent them flying out towards the horde, not at speeds that would break bones, but enough that it wouldn't tickle either. The horde relented but still pushed on, regardless of how many chairs he sent their way. A twist of his hand and the frames split into metal noodles. One by one, they looped around the feet and ankles of the horde, puncturing the dirt, and stapling them against the ground. His muscles burned with the effort as he continued to cuff and restrain each member of the horde individually.

" Mind giving me a little hand here?"

"Of course." Diana answered and made her way towards one of the infected tied up by the bench. It was admittedly impressive that Static was able to do that. Again, she noted mentally that further studying on the new heroes was severely needed. Getting back on the problem, Diana carefully punched an older infected man in the face. It wasn't hard enough to kill but enough to leave a headache. The man fell to the ground while she watched to make sure that he wasn't getting up. After a few more seconds, she made her way to the other infected and took care of them. With them knocked out, Diana began focusing on the other infected in the area while making sure to give Static a small break. He was a person, after all. She, on the other hand, got the attention of a small group of infected and made them follow her to a trap. Diana pulled out her lasso and tied all of them at once. Then, she spun fast enough to make them dizzy and vulnerable to a surprise sweep. All of them fell to the ground, unconscious. Then, she levitated high enough from the ground and saw Static nearby.

"How are things on your end?" Diana asked.

All Wonder Woman got from Virgil was a tired huff. “ I could use some lunch now…” Pretzels weren’t a good source of fuel, especially when he’d been hovering non-stop for the last few hours or so. Virgil restrained another infected against the trunk of an oak tree, gagging his mouth with a metal bar. He began to slowly float downwards, the clearing full of angry infected that were pulling against their bindings. Now, where was that last on-

BANG

The bullet whistled past his shoulder, zipping just an inch away from his head, before he hid behind a tree trunk. One of the infected had picked up a pistol from a dead cop and was firing it sideways, sprays of dirt and chips of wood marking each impact.

“ No, no, that’s cheating.” Virgil lifted out his arm and pulled on the pistol, ripping it from the grip. The infected person growled and reached down to grab it. If it wasn’t for a manhole slamming into her head at 40 miles per hour. Knocked out like a light, the infected dropped unconscious like a puddle.

Static. 1. New York. 0.

Then, the cramps hit him. He’d had to be careful wasting that much electricity next time. Virgil stumbled down and began riffing through the infected pockets for phones. Whilst charging himself back up, Virgil looked up towards Wonder Woman. She didn’t look worse for wear despite being munched on by death-bots for several minutes. Guess being bulletproof helped in that regard.

“ So, you said something about towers? What’s that gotta do with Stryfe’s plan?” He shouted out.

Diana didn't know where to begin with those towers. There were a lot more than expected and heavily guarded with Stryfe’s men, but the towers themselves were weak. After a moment of thinking it over, Diana made her way towards Static and watched while he was draining peoples' phones. She landed on the ground and started answering his question.

"I have underestimated their defenses and Stryfe himself. Destroying the towers seemed to have been for nothing based on what I saw. A decent-sized group of those bots headed towards this area, but most of them didn't go after me. Instead, they went towards every single body and bury themselves into the back of their neck; yet, most of them left me alone and headed towards different parts of the city. Then out of nowhere, the remaining swarm attacked me and tried to bury themselves into my neck also. Thankfully, they failed. As for Stryfe..."

She looked away and stared at one of the infected. Then, an idea appeared. "We might be able to cause some sort of malfunction to those bots if all of the towers are destroyed. I don't know if it would help us find Stryfe, but the most important thing is saving both New York City and Star City. Even if it means we don't find him."

Virgil shuddered at the thought. The thought of a bloodthirsty Wonder Woman was something that the world wasn’t ready for. If the infection had spread to Dakota, he didn’t even want to know what would happen if Stryfe’s drones touched Bang Babies. His muscles relaxed further as he drained another phone, this time a WayneMobile Model S.

“ Sounds like a plan.” Virgil tossed a flip-phone over his back. “ The problem is how are we going to find the towers? It’s not like Stryfe was kind enough to give us a map…….”

His voice trailed off as he stared at one of the drones embedded on a woman’s neck. If the towers controlled the drones. He kneeled down and pressed his hand against its shell. Since they weren’t all connected to the towers through giant extension cords, the next best thing were radio waves. New York turned into a city of voidless black and glowing blue as he focused on the faint signals that the bots were sputtering out. Concentrating. Following. It was a trail of breadcrumbs all leading to several locations spread throughout New York.

“ I think I can see where the towers are.” Virgil muttered in concentration, turning his head slowly towards the right. “ There’s one to the south. Over there. I think they call it...Wall Street?”

"How did you..." Diana was about to ask but stopped herself. Maybe she could ask him later. For now, they needed to stop the towers. One was on Wall Street. She took a deep breath and said with determination, "I will go and deal with the tower while you do damage control. Now that I know what to expect, I can handle them on my own. Also, if you encounter any other heroes, bring up what I told you about the towers' defenses. Be careful out there, Static."

And with that, Diana took off and headed towards the second tower.

“ Yeah. You too. Not that you really need it…”

Virgil watched Wonder Woman disappear over the distance like a red and gold rocket until she became nothing more than a dot on the horizon. An anguished scream of rage caught his attention as a man with his neck glued to the ground by a bench leg squirmed. Oddly enough, it reminded him of a pre-schooler having an awful tantrum.

“ KILL…” He reached out towards Static, eye twitching madly “ YOU!”

Virgil rolled his eyes before walking over towards the man and picking his cell-phone out of his pocket “ Like I haven’t heard that before."
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Stein That's Queen Stein, thank you.

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Issue 1.03 – Building Churches in the Wild Pt. 3 -My Name is My Name

New York, 10 Minutes Before the "Crisis"


Crack!


A burst of light from an alleyway in the Upper East Side signaled Baal’s appearance. He righted himself, preparing to dust himself off until he remembered the state of his clothes. “Ugh. Mortals.” Baal took a deep breath and inhaled the metallic air like cigarette smoke.

The sequence of car alarms blaring at his arrival let Baal know he needed to work on his landing impact. A clatter of glass from an opening window drew his attention.

“Fucking gods and their.. Oi! You haveta knockout my power every time you visit? I mean, right in the middle of AbFab?”

Baal shrugged. Was he supposed to apologize for appearing? The sky god at least had the decency to place himself in a more insulated area when he arrived via lightning. But, he noted the radius of charred cement around him.

Jeroen Thornedike, "The Doctor", sighed. “Damn divine wanker is what you are.” He disappeared from the winding before popping his head out again. “You coming up, or what?”

“You know, I typically don’t push back appointments. Even a few moments. However, I made an exception with you because…”

“I’m a god. I know.”

Jeroen snorted. The involuntary reaction sent drops of tea flying, spreading hints of lavender throughout the room. “Yeah. Right. That’s the reason.”

Baal stared at The Doctor. Did this mortal really want to try his patience?

“Oh come off it already. You’re not the first god I’ve met, real or proclaimed, and you certainly won’t be the final one. You’ve seen one godly ego, you’ve smelled them all. ‘s boring. No, I made the exception because well, you’re so divinely broken.
It took a moment before, through set teeth, Baal asked “Don’t you have a teapot to tend, doctor?” Wrinkling his nose at the burning smell now hanging in the air.

Jeroen tilted his cup back, draining the remaining contents. “No,” he let the clatter of porcelain on plate punctuate the air. “But you have a new couch to buy me, god.”

Baal started, jerking his hand up. The ox-blood red of his suit, dust-laden as it had become, was now Rorschach-ed with a splatter of melted leather. With a growl, Baal stood and ripped the arm of his suit off. The dim light of the Doctor’s apartment flickered as Baal surged electricity through the sleeve. The ashes listed to the hardwood floor before he spoke again. “That was unintentional.” He didn’t have wherewithal for two apologies.

“Hmm,” The Doctor responded as he stood. He made his way over to a shelf of books. “This routes rather nicely to my initial point: you’re broken. I mean if your world’s Baal Hammon is anything like the lore of ours, you were never one for good temperament to begin with but, your emotions are even more out of balance. Your music, while still profound, centers on pain and rage. Your patience, even more quick to deflate since you first came to me 2 months ago. You’re grieving, Baal. God or not. What’s interesting is, besides not realizing that you are, you don’t know what you’re grieving over: the death of Inanna, the potential death of your world, your death—because isn’t this just a new type of life? Your old one left behind. And in this new world, you can’t grieve because no one knows who you are. You need your identity but here, you don’t know where to start looking for it, because it never existed in this world in the first place. But! Enough on that, because you don’t have much time.”

Baal massaged his temples. “The buzzing here is deafening. So much energy I can feel. Was never this bad in my world’s New York. I don’t want to stay here longer, but I don’t have any other plans for the evening.”

“Heh, like that matters. Carrying on. You asked for answers. Well, you tried to demand answers initially. But all that aside, in terms of my theories about you getting home—I was completely wrong.”

Baal’s fists met the coffee table. The scorched ovals contrasted against the sandy finish of the table. He took a breath before looking up, blinking back sparks. “Don’t fuck with me, seer. I’ve had a day. And this…buzzing. The current of this city. So much energy I can feel, pricking my mind. My New York was never this bad.”

“Ah yes,” Jeroen commented, “that. Don’t worry, if you and the others aren’t completely daft, you’ll take care of ‘em. Or you won’t. New York’ll be destroyed. Machine domination, all that loveliness.” The Doctor placed a finger on the coffee table while he stared into the distance. “For the new table, make sure it’s mahogany. I rather like mahogany.”

Baal stood, creaking the hardwood of the loft. His hands splayed and blue traces of electricity spiraled down each finger. Thornedike waved him off, turning his attention to his glass front armoire. He rifled through the collection or relics. “See? This is why you should listen before you act. Hear me once more, sky god: I was wrong about my theories concerning you getting home.” The Doctor reached further in, balancing on his toes. “Care to sift through your rage enough to tell me what I said the first time you barged in here?”

“That I wasn’t able to go home. There was no way to go back.”

“Ah-ha! Exactly. But, I was wrong. After consulting with the other Doctors, it’s clear that your destiny—as of now—does not terminate in this realm. Now, as for when and how you get back. That, I have no idea of. I have other theories, but not information.”

“Tell me what you need.”

“Wonderful,” the not-mortal-mortal pulled his head out, trailing his hand, “I thought you’d never ask.”

In praise of the Doctor, Baal didn’t expect the man to move as fast as he did. In an instant, he’d taken Baal’s hand with a grin. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”

“Do what?”

There was a glint of light and a knife running down Baal’s palm before the god could react.

“Now then, best not to ask what I’m going to do with this. You won’t like the answer.” The Doctor pulled back his jacket, slipping the glowing relic into the darkness of one of his pockets. He checked his watch. “Besides, you don’t have time for the detailed explanation.”

“Blood—the fuck do you keep saying that for?”

There was a crash outside. The sound of metal falling over metal in a cascade. Screams followed, before the sound of sirens pierced the chaos like a dollop of whip cream.

“Right then. Like I said. We’ve both got things to do, people to see and egos to check.” Jeroen crossed to his window, opening the French bays. “Off you go! Don’t worry, place is magically insulated.”

Baal nodded, his eyes dancing with sparks. Pops of light on his lips. He charged the window, focusing on the night sky, the cityscape. The buzzing. He dove, smelling the surge of ozone, hearing the snap of air rapidly collapsing. The brightness of pure energy. And he was gone.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Bounce
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[ Prev ] FEAT OF CLAY, Part I” [ Next ]
B L U D H A V E N

12801 12th Street Northwest

“Two-Eighty-One. Robbery in progress. Pawn shop. MLK and Dodge.”

Another day, another series of random criminal acts, senseless violence, or just plain malfeasance on the part of humanity. Which, he supposed he should be grateful for, being that crime was something of job security for him.

“This is Unit Twelve, en route.”

Throwing the bulletproof vest over his head, Dick casually looked over at Cissy Chambers even as he fastened the vest to his torso. “Who’s in unit twelve?”

Chambers was in uniform, already in S.W.A.T. gear and checking the load out of the Glock 22 police pistol that she carried. It was a standard sidearm, carried by more than half the police organizations in the United States. Still, the .40 caliber pistol looked unusually large in the woman’s deceptively delicate hands. “Harrison and Dolph,” Cissy answered, tossing a look his way as she racked the slide back to load a round into the chamber.

Then she looked away again, dropping the magazine and loading another round in.

The Glock 22 was the Bludhaven Police standard issue for everyone who had graduated from the police academy. Every uniform cop carried the .40 caliber, though plains clothes detectives tended to have more leeway. Particularly as they often favored sub-compacts that were more readily concealed. Among BPD, that would be a Glock 19 or a Sig P229.

Dick carried the Sig, chambered .357. Like Cissy, he racked the slide and then dropped the magazine. As he fumbled about to find what he’d done with that spare bullet, Dick candidly remarked, “Double check the evidence room against their reports when they get back.”

Chambered gave what sounded like a nervous laugh. The kind of sound that made clear that the woman wasn’t certain just how she was supposed to react to a statement like that.

Sliding the magazine back into the grip, Dick gave the base of the pistol a quick slap to check that it was snugly locked in place, then just turned to level a stern look over at the lieutenant.

Cissy’s head cocked to one side. “You’re serious?” she blurted aloud.

“You tell me how Harrison’s leasing a Porche Macan with a baby on the way and paying child support on the last kid. All on a corporal’s salary,” Dick stated, in a matter-of-fact tone that seemed to leave no room for debate.

Returning the pistol to the underarm holster that he wore, Dick grabbed a black jacket that had yellow piping and the word POLICE emblazoned across the back. Throwing that on, the man adjusted the radio that was on his belt, clipping a mic up on the left shoulder and then looping an earpiece around his right ear. Finally, he switched frequencies and said, “All right, this is Grayson, we got eyes?”

“Hostetler. I’m across the street with visual. No lights or movement inside.”

It had been forty-two days since they’d pulled the thirteen kids out of the cages underneath the old Gotham Corridor Self-Storage. In that time, Anton Schott had gone from person of interest to official suspect. A CrimeStoppers tip had turned up, indicating that Schott might have taken up residence in these apartments.

The property manager had identified Schott’s photo as a resident went by the name Michael Jarret. It was a name that Dick hadn’t been able to place immediately, but he knew that he’d seen or heard it somewhere recently. If Toyboy was here, Dick probably could have gotten that answer in less than a minute. But, this was Dick’s other job. And so he’d just have to make do for the time being.

Schott, or Jarret, hadn’t been seen of late. He was never a punctual resident, but he’d missed this month’s rent payment.

Dick was worried that Schott had already fled. But sitting on the apartment wasn’t likely to tell them anything if that was the case. Toggling the radio again, Dick made the call. “Take down the door.”

From the stairwell, Dick could hear the S.W.A.T. make their move. Voices shouted, echoing in the night as a loud crash could be heard. Through the earpiece, Dick could clearly make out the words. “We’re in.”

At that point, Dick and Chambers were both on the move. Guns drawn, the commissioner and the lieutenant moved up the stairwell, passing quickly down the hall and then through the open door.

The S.W.A.T. team had posted inside. There was no one home.

Turning around, Dick did a slow turn to survey the interior of the apartment. It looked like it had been ransacked. Drawers yanked out of cabinets, then overturned and left discarded on the floor.

If Anton Schott had been here, he was long gone now. Grinding his teeth as he returned his pistol to it’s holster, concealed by the jacket that he wore. Then, planting his hands on his hips, Dick just stood back and watched as his officers did their job. Cordoned off the scene. The forensics team was on their way up, to start bagging and tagging whatever might turn up of interest.

Chambers had gloves on, picking through the trash for anything that might be of value.

Maybe something would turn up. Right now, it looked like they had nothing. “Shit,” Dick swore under his breath.

“Commissioner,” a voice called out. Dick looked up to see one of the S.W.A.T. officers. “Dispatch is calling you.”

A grunt and a nod of acknowledgement would have to pass as his thanks for now. Switching frequencies again, Dick tapped the mic on his shoulder and said, “Grayson. Go.”

“Commissioner, unit twelve is asking for you to stop by the scene of the two-eighty-one at MLK and Dodge.”

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

Earl’s Pawn Shop was a staple of the southwest corner of Bludhaven’s so-called Old Town district. It was catty-corner from the Sunoco gas station that was frequently referred to by Bludhaven Police as the Stop ‘n Rob.

A robbery in this neighborhood was just another day of the week.

Dick’s unmarked cruiser pulled up near the doors. As he exited the car, the first thing that he took note of was the doors to the shop. They appeared to be the industry standard. Heavy, metal frame. Safety glass with metal bar reinforcement.

The doors were off their hinges, as though a tank had come barreling through. Except, to get the doors and frame like that, it would have had to have hit them from the inside heading outward. Not from the position of someone trying to break inside.

It had his curiosity at least. Strolling in through the doors, he quickly spotted Dolph. In the dark blue Bludhaven uniform, talking to a woman who was presumably someone to do with the complaint.

So where was Harrison? As he glanced around the inside of the shop, he only saw the one uniform. As Dolph broke away from the witness, Dick called out and said, “All right, you wanted me here. What do you got?”

“To hear the witness tell it, Commissioner, we’ve got a larceny,” the young officer remarked. Dolph had graduated from the academy last year, but was easily one of the more promising of the recruits that Dick had on the force at present.

Made it a damn shame that he’d drawn Harrison as a partner. Eventually, either Dolph was going to dime out his partner or would fall prey to the all-too-common practice of following the bad example. Just which path the young Dolph was headed down, Dick wasn’t certain yet. “But it doesn’t make any sense,” the officer complained, seemingly at a loss.

“A larceny? Not a robbery?” Dick asked in a neutral tone. The complaint had come in about a robbery, which the state of the entrance would certainly suggest some force was used. “So the suspect wasn’t armed? What did he do, wait for an open register, grab the cash and go?”

Taking a half-step back, Dolph pivoted at the waist just enough to beckon Dick’s attention over to two hunks of twisted, wrought metal that were lying atop a counter. It was a moment before it clicked that the heavy, reinforced metal frame had been, at one time, a cash register. “Commissioner, the lady there says that a man did that with his bare hands.”

Dick’s frown deepened. The register. The doors. Could they be dealing with a metahuman? “They got video?” Dick asked, glancing back up at Dolph.

“Harrison’s seeing if he can figure out how to either run or record the tapes,” the officer answered with a nod. Then a shrug as he added, “Apparently, no one’s actually had to review the footage since it was installed.”

Dick gave a barely perceptible nod. “And the lady?” he asked, inclining his head to indicate the woman that Dolph had been speaking with when he’d come in.

“General Manager. She’s the one who called it in,” Dolph answered succinctly. “Says she saw the whole thing.”

“Got it,” Dick answered shortly. Then gave another nod as he said, “Get back out to the car and call over to the precinct. Tell them I want a forensic team to go over that register. See if Mister Big Hands left us some fingerprints.”

While Dolph hurried from out of the store, Dick ventured further inside. Strolling up on where the woman seemed to be trying to order a display, he simply asked,“You Earl?”

“Earl’s been dead since ‘Ninety-Two,” the woman offered in reply. By her voice, Dick was guessing she wasn’t a Jersey local. Transplant more likely. Somewhere in the South. “You a detective or something?”

“Or something,” the man quipped back in reply, even as he flipped his credentials out for her to inspect. “Dick Grayson. BPD.”

Flipping the badge case closed again, Dick tucked it away as he continued. “I know that you’ve had to do this a couple of times already, but would you mind talking me through what you saw again?”
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by webboysurf
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En Route to New York City - Present Day
Issue 1.02.2: Fight for your Right

Interaction(s): Arsenal and Captain America


Roy popped his head into the cockpit, his gaze falling towards Cap. ”I think I got something working.”

Steve turned his head around, raising an eyebrow before nodding and unbuckling himself from his seat. The jet was slowing down as it was getting close to the destination, just enough for the experienced soldier to navigate towards the back. Roy was holding on to a small metal disk with a button on the center, the whole thing sizing up to be about palm sized. The inventor of the small device slapped it onto the back of his own neck and tapped the button. The metal disk expanded out, seeming to mold around the base of his neck over his armor. Roy raised an eyebrow expectantly, and Steve gave a nod in response. This was enough for the archer, who removed the device and tossed it to the Captain before going back to his metal crates of armor and tools.

Steve stood before the SHIELD operatives in the back of the jet, holding on to a strap from the ceiling. ”We lost contact with our men at the UN headquarters. We are dropping in to the courtyard, and we are tasked with securing the HQ as a Rally Point. Any questions?”

The operatives all shook their head, as did Harper. Roy took the time to open up to start gearing up: he holstered an ICER sidearm on each side of his hip, before shouldering his advanced quiver and hooked his collapsed bow onto the small of his back. Steve moved to the back of the jet and raised a hand to grab on to a strap from the ceiling as the jet suddenly began lowering itself and spinning horizontally, causing Roy to nearly tumble before he grabbed on to a strap himself. The back of the jet opened up as the jet began hovering just over the ground, and Steve pulled out his ICER sidearm and shield to jump the last few feet and clear the area.

People seemed to be coming out of the woodwork at the sight of fresh blood. A mixture of civilians, cops, and SHIELD guards began rushing forth. The guards and cops raised their weapons, beginning to open fire. Steve raised his shield, managing to catch the hail of bullets as a few well-placed ICER rounds. The other shield operatives began firing from inside the jet, though the safety wasn’t exactly Roy’s speed. The Arsenal rushed out of the jet, unholstering both sidearms with a rolling of his eyes at the lack of courage on behalf of the SHIELD operatives.

They were a surprisingly cohesive pairing. Roy opened fire on Steve’s left before spinning around behind the Captain to the other side of the shield. Each of Roy’s shots aimed true, and each shot managed to down its target. In less than a minute, the courtyard of the UN compound was littered with unconscious bodies. The remaining Commandos piled out of the quinjet now that the coast was clear, and Roy reloaded his sidearms. Cap gave a raised eyebrow to his companion. ”Glad to have you on my side. Now, we-“

Steve’s voice was cut short as the sound of shattering glass from up above turned the soldier’s heads. A few crazed UN ambassadors were plummeting towards the ground, their wild movements a clear sign of infection. Steve’s eyes were filled with fear, but Roy immediately sprung into action. He reached pressed two buttons on his bow, The cylinders of the quiver rotated, and Harper pulled out an arrow with a rather large arrowhead. Roy fired the arrow towards the ground in front of them within a second. From the arrowhead, a geyser of thick foam sprayed out and created a mound of a frothy adhesive. The foam managed to safely catch the ambassadors, who simply sunk into it while still writhing. After mere moments of interacting with the foam, their movements slowed as they found themselves restrained by the adhesive.

Steve stared at the adhesive for a moment, his eyes glazing over slightly. That is, until he heard a large engine roar overhead. The Captain’s gaze turned upwards, managing to catch on to the view of another quinjet lowering for a vertical landing. Masters’ team had arrived. The ramp lowered, and Tony was at the forefront with a rifle drawn. The team moved out, supporting Cap’s team in securing the courtyard and the entrance to the various buildings in the UN compound. Tony made his way towards Cap, lowering the end of the rifle as he gave a curt nod. ”The Perimeter is secured, Captain. The scans show that our men managed to get most of the diplomats to the bunker. Everyone else is either deceased or…” Tony gave a quick look towards the individuals still struggling in the foam ”Indisposed. Should we start broadcasting?”

Steve gave a curt nod as he made his way towards the new quinjet. Inside were a few crates that had been unpacked to form a makeshift radio station. A single camera had been mounted on the wall, pointing towards Steve as he stood in position with shield in hand. The SHIELD tech monitoring the equipment tapped away on his laptop for a moment, before lifting one hand and pointing towards Steve, signaling him to start. Every radio station in New York City began playing the same voice, and every television screen had the same image: Captain America.

”Citizens, please remain calm. SHIELD has established a safe area at the United Nations Headquarters. We have taken over Emergency Services, and will send operatives to try and rescue you from danger. Please dial 911 and we will get to you as soon as possible. Help is on the way. This message will now repeat.”


Steve remained standing for a few moments, before the technician gave a nod. In the distance, he could hear his voice repeating the same message as before. Roy was waiting with his arms folded at the foot of the ramp as Steve went to regroup with the others. ”This place is a target now, Captain.”

Steve simply patted Roy’s shoulder briefly. ”You asked for this detail, soldier. Now let’s get into position and give them Hell.”
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06/23/46
The Bowery
6:31 PM

Slam hit the third floor landing and prayed it wouldn’t be bad. 3C. The apartment he grew up in. He let himself in. He caught a whiff of piss and mildew opening the door. The apartment was trashed: old newspapers stacked to the ceiling, cigarette butts scattered on the floor, cats running roughshod, jars of piss littering the room. Power and water hookups were a distant memory. He heard dutch babbling and followed the sound through the sty.

His mom talked to herself as she shifted through garbage. Hilda Janssen was lost to the world. Slam shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from throwing haymakers into the wall. Growing up Hilda had always been loopy. She had the strong accent, liked the bottle, and followed the wrath of god teachings of Sister Aimee Semple McPhersn. Slam caught grief from the neighborhood kids big time. When his old man split she swan-dived off the deep end. She had a full-blown nervous breakdown and turned full blown lush. She stopped speaking English and started sniffing model airplane glue. Slam was ten. The kids got mean with their taunts. They pushed him when he got mad. Slam learned how to use his fists. He learned that it paid to be the toughest son of a bitch around.

Slam said, “Ma.”

Hilda looked up from her sty. She looked through Slam. Her look said, “Who the hell are you?”

“Ma, it’s me.”

She mumbled something in dutch and went back to her mess. Back when he was boxing, Slam was able to afford nurses and maids to come by and check on Hilda. They came and went, and they didn’t come cheap. They always charged extra fees to put up with the old woman screaming and throwing shoes at them while they tried to clean. That money dried up the second Slam joined the PD. It allowed the apartment to devolve into… this.

But now he was flush. He had ten grand. Said ten grand was still nestled in the trunk of his car. It would do more than pay for nurses and maids. It’d give Slam’s mom a new start. Scotty Lee’s blood would mortgage Hilda’s comfort.

“Ma,” he said again. “I’ve got a placed lined up for you to stay. A nice rest home where you can be safe and have people to look after you. Doctors and nurses and orderlies.”

Slam heard more dutch. He recognized the words “no” and “fuck off.” Slam thought about his father. He wished the son of a bitch was here to see this. To see the wreckage he left behind in his wake. Part of Slam was glad he wasn’t here. He couldn’t trust himself to not blow the fucker away with his piece.

*****


Chinatown
10:19 PM

Two car convoy rolling through narrow streets. Slam drove the unmarked cop car in the lead. Two-Gun Jack Grogan rode shotgun. Burke and Harris sat in the back. Simpson drove the chase car packed with mob squad goons. They were headed to a Tong summit to act as muscle. One Tong family swore vengeance on another family. A Chinatown war loomed on the horizon. It defied Grogan's mandate for all Gotham gangs to keep the peace at all costs.

Slam's thoughts drifted during the ride. He thought back to his mom and his father. Meanwhile, his surrogate daddy had been busy. Grogan spent all day in confabs with the commissioner and other brass. SLAM was the topic of said confabs. Porter promised payback for Scotty Lees. Grogan contracted to make it copacetic. He said hard-on Whiskey Max Eckhardt had the case. The hush-hush huddles made Slam nervous. A sellout could be in store.

The convoy pulled up to a fish factory. They got out with pump-action shotguns and automatic pistols. Slam had his big .45 in his hand. Grogan stuck a plug of tobacco in his mouth and strutted into the factory with a bullhorn in his hands. The factory floor: Wall to wall to Chinese men yelling in their heathen language. Six Nation Tong on one side in red, the Yellow Dragon Tong on one side in yellow. They jabbered at each other, flashed knives and guns, and threatened to start the war right then and there.

Two-Gun Jack held the bullhorn to his mouth. His voice amplified across the din. The bullhorn made it screech weird. Grogan's voice sounded inhuman. Slam realized he was speaking Chinese. He gave the fucks the spiel in fluent Mandarin. The speech’s gestalt: Calm down right now or we will send in the riot squad and bash all your heathen brains in.

The panic subsided. Grogan grinned. He motioned the rest of the squad to flank out. They covered exits and corners with their guns. Grogan and Slam walked towards a card table in the middle of the mob. Fat Ricky Fat of the Six Nation sat on an opposite side from Hau Song and the Yellow Dragons. A third chair for Grogan sat between them. Two-Gun Jack sprawled into the chair. Slam stood behind him as muscle. Hundreds of eyes fell on Slam. He winked en masse to the crowd.

The negotiations began. The two old men spoke through Grogan. They talked to him and he talked to the other. All eyes fell on the negotiations. No noise from the crowd. You could hear a pin drop. Ricky Fat said something in his gobbledygook. He pounded the card table. A buzz filtered through the crowd. Ricky Fat made the throat slash sign.

Hau Song shook his head and rattled off gibberish. Grogan held both hands up. He talked, talked, talked in their tongue. He pointed to both men. He expounded on some theory that made both men's heads nod. He finished. They both agreed. The crowd clapped. Wolf-whistles broke out.

Grogan got up smiling. He pulled Slam close and whispered in his ear. "I give you peace. Peace for our time, son. Go find Burke. We've got some more work to do."

---

Burke drove and Slam rode shotgun. Grogan and the head of Six Nation Tong sat in the back. Fat Ricky Fat spoke in Chinese to Grogan, Grogan gave it right back. They laughed. Slam looked in the rearview mirror. He saw a pistol and hatchet in Ricky Fat's lap.

Grogan switched to English. He said, "GCPD caught a dead body two days ago. A Chinese girl stabbed to death in a Chinatown no-tell-motel room. The victim was Ricky Fat's niece. Her murderer is Yellow Dragon, some punk she was fucking. He saw her with a Six Nation boy and got jealous. He stabbed her sixteen times. A real Romeo and Juliet story. I learned all this at our summit just a few moments earlier. Knowing Homicide like I do, they will give the killing a cursory investigation and drop it. If it's not white, they don't care. This degenerate who killed Ricky Fat's niece has tarnished his family honor. Old world customs dictate that he must regain that honor with vigorous bloodletting."

Slam saw the hatchet blade glint in the sparse light. Ricky Fat held it up swung it around the backseat gracefully. Grogan laughed.

"To advert full on war, Yellow Dragon has agreed that this heinous crime must be avenged. Take a left here, Thomas."

Burke pulled up to a tenement building. They got out. Slam and Burke walked point, Grogan and Ricky Fat behind them. They hit the fourth floor. Apartment six. Slam had his .45 out, Burke gripped his snub nosed .38. Grogan pulled his six-shooters. Ricky Fat had a hatchet in one hand, his pistol in the other.

Grogan said, "Go!"

Burke kicked the door. Once, twice, three times. It snapped on the third kick. It fell to the floor. They walked over it. They ran in on five Chinese junkies geezing up on Big H. Slam and Burke aimed at the same man. They blew holes through his chest. Two-Gun Jack opened fire with both six-shooters. He turned two men into swiss cheese. Six shots a piece center mass. Ricky Fat charged the one man left alive. He screeched something in Chinese and hacked at the man with his hatchet. The man screamed and fell to the floor. Ricky Fat kept hacking. Grogan nodded, he spun his guns like a cowboy and holstered them. Burke went green. Slam holstered his piece. Grogan put a hand on his shoulder and lead him and Burke out.

"Let Ricky Fat have his fun. We need to talk since we have a moment."

Grogan spat tobacco on the floor and shook his head. He talked over Ricky Fat's screams/the killer's death groans.

"Tonight's your last night working with me for some time, boys. I did what I could, but you both gotta pay something for that mess with the boxers. Thomas, you're going to the Eastern District narco squad. Samuel, they're packing you to Homicide. It's supposed to be temporary. How long it'll last, we'll see."

More screaming inside. Choked, phlegm filled death rattle. Blood ran out the door and pooled at their shoes. Burke dry-heaved. Slam saw a severed eyeball float by.

*****


Gotham Central
1:33 AM

Max sucked on his flask and paced in the conference room. On the wall, the Scotty Lees case tacked to a corkboard. Form and void. Thought and theory. Implication and assumption. It was there. It was sketchy. It was enough. Crime scene pix laid out his findings. It was threadbare. The crack in the wall and the angles of height. The ME did not check Scotty's head and skull for signs of head trauma. His face got cut up by the fall. No obvious bruising on the skin. Threadbare, but enough for his purposes. They were meeting in a half hour for Bradey's interview. Grogan called and said they were on the way.

He walked through the Homicide pen towards his desk. The office was a ghost town. The rest of the squad hauled ass to Chinatown. Multiple 187's. He begged off, using his meeting with Bradley as an excuse. Fields called him from the scene. A fucking quintuple homicide. Five Chinese men were shot and hacked to death. Brutal stuff. That mass snuff and a stabbing from two days ago made it six open murders in Chinatown. He saw crime scene pix of the dead girl. She reminded him of Mary.

Mary.

He did what he had to do at the crime scene and picked her up from school. They exchanged pleasantries, talked about their day without saying really saying anything. They ate greasy fast food for dinner. She had a milkshake. He drank cut-rate bourbon. She excused herself and went to do homework. He passed out on the couch. Mary woke him up two hours before he had to be at work. He saw the sadness in her eyes. Those eyes said, what the hell are you doing? Why do you do this to yourself? Why do you do it to me? He ignored all of it and downed a pot of coffee to wake up. The babysitter showed up to stay with her through the night and Max came to work.

The door to Homicide opened. Max saw Grogan's stetson first. He killed what was left in his flask. Liquid courage steadied him. Grogan and Bradley stopped by his desk. Grogan snagged a GCPD mug off Fields's desk and spat tobacco in it.

Two-Gun Jack said, "Sergeant Eckhardt. Sorry if we're late. We were on a case and it got a little rough. Someone was eyeballing me."

A look passed between the two cops. Private joke. Max ignored it. Bradley stifled his giggles and held his hand out.

"Maxie."

Max stood. He looked at the hand. He let it linger there in front of him. "Call me Sergeant Eckhardt, please.”

Bradley prickled. He withdrew his hand. Grogan narrowed his eyes. Max motioned towards the conference room.

"Shall we?"

---

"It was getting late. We were listening to the radio and Scotty was sleeping and I started to nod off."

Slam sat at the conference room table. Eckhardt up close. Grogan halfway down from him and watching everything. Slam smoked. Eckhardt smoked. Two-Gun Jack chewed chaw. Eckhardt's eyes were distorted behind thick-framed glasses, they looked huge and all encompassing. He wrote down notes while Slam told the story. A tape recorder on the table spun and recorded the interview. Grogan spat into a coffee mug and kept watching.

Eckhardt said, "The radio was off when police arrived. Did you turn it off before or after Scotty jumped?"

No hesitation. "After. It seemed so loud and with everything going on, I turned it off."

"The sound of Scotty jumping is what woke you up?"

"Yes."

Eckhardt nodded. He held up a crime scene photo of the room. Two cheap, saggy beds. One on the left was unmade. The one on the right was immaculate.

"Sleep above the covers, sergeant?"

"I did."

Slam felt Grogan stir. He could feel Two-Gun Jack's eyes on him. He heard another loud spit into the coffee mug. Eckhardt nodded. He reached across the table and got the recorder.

"I think I have enough here."

He killed the recording. Slam felt relief. Eckhardt rummaged through a pile of files. He pulled out a photo and laid it front of Slam.

"You left an indent in the wall when you bashed Scotty Lees head into it."

Slam looked down. It was small. But sure as shit it was there. Slam’s head snapped up. Grogan's face was frozen. Eckhardt looked at Slam then at Two-Gun Jack, then back to him.

"The medical examiner's report missed any kind of exterior bruising due to all the lacerations on Scotty's head, but I bet a search underneath the skin will reveal a contusion he suffered moments before he died. I got a skin swab of that indent this afternoon. Skin flakes in the dent were a perfect match for Scotty. You smashed his head into a wall and you threw him out the window, you goddamn thug."

Slam saw red. He raised up and went over the table. He grabbed at Eckhardt. Eckhardt backed up faaast. He dodged Slam's mitts. The same mitts that beat the shit out of Scotty Lees eight years ago. The same mitts that tossed Scotty out of a window two nights ago. Grogan's big hands pulled him back to the chair. He got him back down and steady. Eckhardt looked white. His hands were shaking.

Grogan put his hands on Slam’s shoulder. He fumed at Eckhardt. He said, "What do you want, Eckhardt? You turned off the tape recorder before you went into it, so I bet you hadn't even raised this issue with Boyle or anybody else. What's your angle?"

Eckhardt straightened his glasses. His fixed his tie. He took deep breaths to calm himself. He beaded sweat. Slam fantasized about ringing his goddamn neck.

Eckhardt said, "I want a promotion to lieutenant. I consistently get passed over despite attaining the highest scores on all tests and exams. Furthermore, I want my promotion to come within the detective bureau. I want to run either Robbery or Homicide. You have juice with the commissioner, Captain. Make it happen and I will write a final summation that pushes Bradley’s narrative that Scotty Lees committed suicide. Failure to comply with my wishes and I send my findings to Porter. He's already riled at you, Captain. All he needs is proof that your men and squad are dirty and he will not hesitate to burn both you and Bradley."

Slam felt Grogan's hands tighten on his shoulders. Grogan breathed heavily. Slam couldn't see his face, but the man irradiated anger. Murderous anger. He saw Grogans's hands turning white from the grip on his shoulders.

Two-Gun Jack said, "You have a deal, you cocksucker. I'll talk to the commish and have you set up to take over for Hughes when he retires, or even Boyle when he finally kicks the bucket."

Eckhardt lit a fresh cig. He inhaled deeply and nodded. He blew out smoke when he said, "That sounds reasonable to me, Captain. I'll file my final report tonight, but I will hold on to the evidence I have. Insurance, you see? I need to protect myself."

Grogan walked out without another word. Slam stood. He stared down at Eckhardt. Eckhardt stared back. He saw sweat rolling down Eckhardt's face. Slam moved and Eckhardt flinched. Slam laughed and walked out after Grogan. He caught up to him by the elevator. Two-Gun Jack fumed. He spat his wad out in a trash can by the elevator and looked at Slam. The goofy cowboy shtick was gone. All Slam saw was raw anger and hate.

"If you want to make it out of your new Homicide assignment and come back to the mob squad, I have but one simple request: Kill Max Eckhardt."
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[ Prev ] FEAT OF CLAY, Part II” [ Next ]
G O T H A M C I T Y

S.T.A.R. Labs

Coming here was starting to feel like visiting a friend in the hospital.

The cybernetics lab resembled a surgical suite. All white walls, white tile, and a flood of lighting. A flat table was the centerpiece of the room, atop which the body of the doll was laid out. The illusion of his humanity had been cast aside. The left side of his face was missing, exposing metal plating and a series of blinking lights infused by a host of optic fiber. Most of his chest and torso was a gaping chasm, through which the mechanical anatomy was visible. Even still, someone had tucked a stuffed animal under the crook of the doll’s arm. A stuffed penguin that was supposed to be Tux, whom Dick had learned was a mascot associated with the Linux operating system.

Monitors overhead displayed a cascade of compiling code, as well as a variety of graphs that Dick couldn’t discern any meaning from.

“We’re getting close.”

Sarah Charles’ voice. Dick turned to glance off to his right and saw that the woman had stepped into the lab behind him. “Now I understand why he used DOS for the monokernal architecture,” the woman remarked, though what she said sailed straight over Dick’s head. More so when she cryptically declared, “Toyboy is the kernal level. There’s no user level.”

Not understanding, but taking that as a sign that progress was being made. Dick merely gave a nod as he half-heartedly uttered, “Of course.”

Not to be dissuaded by her guest’s lack of appreciation for proper operating system design, Sarah pointed up to one of the monitors, displaying a cascade of code, as she continued. “Now that we understand the language that Schott developed, we’re replicating the processes and the architecture, but moving him to a UNIX-like kernal that will mimic Linux close enough to be compatible with some off-the-shelf options for expanding his capabilities.”

All right, now Dick was able to start picking up what Sarah was putting down. By moving Toyboy to modern software, it put contemporary applications on the proverbial table. “We’ve also installed a second CPU for better task switching, and created a microkernal operating within a virtual drive running Tails. If this works, it’ll mask Toyboy’s internet connection through the Tor network, while protecting the host drive by isolated the executable file permissions within a partition of file structure that’s enclosed in ramdisk memory..”

Should he be getting college credit in computer science for having stayed awake through all of that? “I’m just going to nod and pretend I understand at least part of that,” Dick deadpanned glibly. And trust that it would be difficult to trace. Sarah’s work with secure computing and telecommunications was a large part of his success as Nightwing in the modern era. Bruce’s tactics and techniques for remaining hidden in the era of the 1970s had steadily eroded across the 1980s with the emergence of new technologies.

“I finally read the notes about the heart.”

Glancing over at the woman, Dick just inclined his head to indicate that he was listening. “I think I was hesitating because I was afraid when I did, I’d realize you were right,” Sarah admitted candidly. “Remember when we pulled Toyboy out of storage and I said that Schott must have been a right bastard to have used Horton Cells? You said ‘I think he’d agree.’

Something like that, anyway. At the nod from Dick, the woman continued. “All this time, I’d thought that you were talking about Toyboy,” she admitted. Then paused, before saying, “But you were talking about Schott.”

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

BLÜDHAVEN POLICE DEPARTMENT
Later that day

“Most of what was in the apartment is coming up empty, though preliminary lab analysis of hair samples confirms that Schott was there.”

Cissy Chambers was running Dick through the status of their major open cases. The search for the man wanted for fifteen separate counts of kidnapping, two counts of child murder, and three aggravated assault charges being at the top of the list.

“You said that the name ‘Michael Jarret’ rang a bell, so I looked into it,” the lieutenant noted. Flipping a brown folder down onto Dick’s desk, the woman continued as Dick started to read. He’d only just laid eyes on it when the recollection of his conversation with Toyboy about the 1996 case came back to mind.

“He was one of Schott’s classmates. Survived Hinkley Creek and then took his own life a few years later,” Cissy noted.

“Schott stole his identity,” Dick uttered gruffly. Laying the folder on his desk, the man just stared down at it for a moment. “My god. What if..?” he began, the thought seemingly stopped there. Instead, Dick looked up and said, “See what you can find on Jarret’s suicide.”

Reaching out with one hand, Cissy flipped several pages in the file. When she’d stopped, Dick realized that what he’d just asked for was right in front of him.

And it was only a single page. Half a page even. “There was a note and the ME didn’t ask for an autopsy, so they just closed the case file the same day that the body was found,” Cissy noted, her tone matching the scowl on Dick’s face. “But I agree that its suspicious in light of current events.”

“One more...” Dick uttered cryptically. He was quiet a moment, before he looked up and explained, “There’s another survivor who died by suicide. Check into it.”

The lieutenant gave a nod, retrieving the folder from off of Dick’s desk and replacing it with another from the stack in her arms. “That leaves the pawn shop case,” she offered, prefacing the brief to come. Dick flipped open the folder as she continued. “I asked Dolph for a preliminary report on the pawn shop case, but he says they’re coming up empty.”

“What about the forensics?” Dick asked, even as he thumbed over to the section of the file that contained the CSI notations.

“Dave’s team went over the cash register. There’s a clear impression of a hand, but no fingerprints. Only thing they came back with was some mud.”

The man raised an eyebrow, but continued on. “We get the footage from the store?”

Cissy gave a nod. “It’s on the sharedrive.”

Setting the folder down, Dick shifted his posture as he turned toward the workstation on his desk. Logging in, he pulled up the reports database and then glanced over for the referenced investigation number. Then, pulling up the media files associated with the case call number, brought up the video file.

On the computer monitor, a man who could have been Boris Karloff’s ugly twin stormed into the store. And, sure enough, grabbed the cash register and proceeded to crack it like an egg with his bare hands.

The stony face was distinctive to start with, but what stuck out to Dick most of all were the eyes. There was something about those eyes. “How does someone get a face like that?” the man blurted aloud.

“We already ran the image,” Cissy said, chiming in from over Dick’s shoulder. “Cross-referenced against DMV, FBI, and Department of State. Whoever he is, he’s off the...”

The phone ringing on Dick’s desk interrupted them.

Reaching over, Dick swiped the handset. “Grayson,” the man uttered. As he did, Cissy stepped back around toward the front of the office. “Uh huh,” Dick remarked, cradling the handset between his head and shoulder, freeing his hands to fumble for a pen and paper. “Twelfth and Farnam? Tell them that Lieutenant Chambers and I are en route.”

Cissy was obviously curious as he hung up the phone. Standing from the desk, Dick reached over and pulled on his usual, sable-colored trench coat. “Jewelry store robbery,” he offered, tossing a pair of car keys at her.

“Description matches our pawn shop case.”
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Soaring through the streets of Star City, Magik wished she’d been visiting this city under better circumstances. Normally it was beautiful compared to places like Gotham, with lush greenery and scenic architecture. Now it was a hellscape. She watched as the people on the ground below her tore each other apart. The sight only made her more determined. She had to stop this. She had to help.

Illyana’s goal was clear. Find somewhere safe and perform the protective incantation that Strange had taught her. It seemed simple enough at first glance, but when the city was a warzone, it understandably became a lot harder than it had been when she’d been practicing the spell all those weeks ago tucked away in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Strange had made the task look so easy back in New York. The work of a true Sorcerer Supreme. Sure, she was a capable sorceress herself, but she was nothing compared to him. For incantations like this, she needed spell components. A supply of raw magical energy. And if Illyana was correct, there was only one place in this city where she could find such power.

The Grell Museum sat in the heart of the city, having been constructed when the city was first formed. It was said to house a number of magical relics from throughout the ages: Old tapestries describing ancient wars, and artifacts from supposed sorcerers of old. The general public refused to believe the legitimacy of these items, but Strange knew them all to be true. He had even promised to take Illyana there at one point. Illyana had been looking forward to that day. Now it seemed she’d be going alone.

It didn’t take long for her to near the Grell Museum plaza, however, the constant battle against the city’s inhabitants drained her throughout her journey. There were just so many of them, their numbers seeming to almost mirror the metallic looking swarms that had caused this mess in the first place.

She could barely concentrate as she flew into the plaza, which proved to be a grave mistake as the raging sound of gunfire pierced the air around her. Her arm erupted into pain as if a fire had just entered her body. Falling to the ground and skidding painfully across the concrete of the pavement, she barely had enough time to throw her hands above her head and throw a shield around herself before a further round of gunfire rained down upon her. The bullets ricocheted against the sapphire dome that materialized around her, each impact echoing the sound of breaking glass.

Her breathing heavied as she struggled to maintain her focus on the shield, the pain of the gunshot wound in her right should screaming into her mind, attempting to pull her away. Gritting her teeth, she took in the gunmen before her, her vision slightly hazing.

There were about seven of them, all clad in black militaristic uniforms. They stood in a line like a firing squad, their weapons continuously pelting her shield with bullets. The sight shocked her at first, with her believing them to simply be another group amongst the rampaging citizens, however, she quickly realized what was happening as she took in what was behind them.

The obsidian tower the soldiers were protecting looked just like the one from the hijacked broadcast; tall and imposing, the black phallic hunk of metal towered over the group. It cut triumphantly out of the ground at the foot of the museum’s front steps, contrasting greatly against the pale stone.

She cursed under her breath. She should’ve checked the locations of the towers beforehand. There just had to be one where she was heading. Now she would have to get her hands dirty.

Moving one hand down from the underside of the shield, she brought it to her face. Breathing out deeply, a thick black smog emerged from her mouth, forming a smokey sphere in the palm of her hand. It sat there whirling around for several seconds before Illyana tossed it forwards. It didn’t come close to hitting the guards, landing a mere few metres in front of her, however as soon as it hit the ground, the smoke surged forward. The Mists of Munnopor slithered across the ground towards the soldiers who reared back in confusion as the ghostly serpent encapsulated them, forming a thick cloud of black sickly smoke around them. They shouted in confusion, aiming their weapons around them in fear.

None of them noticed the disappearance of the small dome they had just been firing at, nor the brief flash of yellow that followed it.

They readied themselves, circling together.

And then the smoke cleared, and Magik stood in the centre of them.

Boo”. She uttered with a smile.

Gunfire rang out as she darted forwards, her staff sweeping out the feet of one of the men. Moving her body down, she brought her staff back around, slamming it upwards into a second, sending both him and his weapon flying. Still, she continued. One moment she was at the firing end of one of the men’s rifles, the next her staff was at his neck. Sure there were many of them, but she was nimble. Quick. Strange may have taught her her magics, but Limbo has taught her to survive.

Now she was too close for them to fire safety. Instead, they attempted to strike her with their guns like makeshift clubs. When their strikes neared she arched her back as far as it could bend, dodging. She was still arching back when the next one came to attack, slamming their weapon down with such force. She threw herself to the side, rolling out of the group. They turned on her as she struggled to find her footing, however before they could gun her down, her eyes came alive in magic.

Rolling to her feet, she thrust her hands forward, bolts of energy rupturing out of them. They screamed in pain as the spell hit them, their armour seeming to melt, with blisters forming rapidly on the patches of skin that was visible under their now seared balaclavas. They huddled together, clutching their faces in some ill-fitted attempt to stop the burning.

Pushing off from her front leg, she leaped forward into the air, swinging her arms for momentum. Soaring over the ground, she once again found herself in the middle of them. However, before they could react, she slammed the butt of her Soul Staff into the ground, uttering the words of old in an icy tone.

Ikthalon

Frost rippled across the ground from where she’d struck it, growing exponentially. Ice burst from the ground around her, rapidly creeping up the legs of the soldiers. The ice entombed their bodies, bar their heads, trapping them like statues in various poses of incredible pain and disbelief.

She smirked. It was child's play.

She turned her back on the men and took a step towards her new target. Now up close, Illyana could take in the full view of the tower. She had to admit it was impressive. Yet even that would fall underneath her might.

Her hand moved forwards in front of her. With a simple wave, a stepping disc materialized before her, jutting through the middle of the toward, severing it in two. Sparks flew immediately, as the structure seemed to crumble slightly at where it had been severed. Then just as quickly as it had appeared, the yellow of the disc disappeared. And with it, went the upper half of the tower.

The guard’s gasps at the disappearance were immediately turned into cries of horror as the upper portion appeared once more, this time around ten feet lower. Shards of metal erupted everywhere as the tower sections appeared within one another, combusting outwards. A surge of electrical energy pulsed through the skyline above the plaza, showering the area in a rainbow of colours. The destruction was almost beautiful.

Illyana simply watched. However, after a few seconds, the silence was broken.

“What in God’s name are you?” One of the soldiers cried out from where he stood frozen behind her.

Turning towards him, Illyana saw the fear in his eyes. The sight bemused her. He had the right to be scared. He shifted uncomfortably as Illyana marched towards him, gulping once she stopped right in front of his frozen figure. With one quick jab from the hilt of the staff, the ice entrapping him crumbled, releasing the man back into her fury. He fell to the ground, his breathing growing rapid.

I’m vone of the mutants whose rights you claim to fight for.” Magik declared, pulling the man to his feet by the scruff of his armour’s neck. “And you’re going to help me end this, vonce and for all.
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Part II:
SNAPSHOT

BANNER: Gotham Globe, 06/30/46
DA FILES NO CHARGES IN BOXING PROBE

BANNER: Gotham Herald, 08/21/46
DA PORTER DECLINES SENATE BID

EXTRACT: Gotham Herald, 10/10/46

FOURTH WOMAN KILLED, POLICE SAY NO CONNECTION

The body of a woman found yesterday morning is the latest in a string of murders on Gotham City's west side. The victim, identified as twenty-eight-year-old Jane Lewis of a Dutch Hill address, was found just after three in the morning near a west side bar. Like previous victims, Ms. Lewis was killed by gunshot wound.

"There is no way these murders are connected," said Sgt. Max Eckhardt, squad sergeant in GCPD's Homicide unit and lead investigator of the case. "The similarities in question are too vague. Causes of death are the same, but that's it. There's nothing else that connects these crimes."

Despite denial from Eckhardt, sources say that Ms. Lewis' body was left in a manner similar to previous victims. What that is, sources will not reveal for fear of provoking copycats or false confessors. When pressed about the possibility of a connection, Sgt. Eckhardt remained placid. "Everyone's tendency is to always assume the worse. There is no way the same killer committed these murders."

Sgt. Eckhardt said that, regardless of the lack of connections, the GCPD is treating each and every unopened murder as serious as the next one. "There is no statute of limitations on murder," said Eckhardt. "And we will continue to look into the deaths of Ms. Lewis and the other girls who were murdered. Absolute justice is demanded."

The GCPD are asking that anyone with relevant information regarding Ms. Lewis' murder and any of the other murders to come forward.

BANNER: Gotham Globe, 11/6/46
THORNE ELECTED TO SENATE IN LANDSLIDE

BANNER: Gotham Herald, 11/14/46
SIXTH BODY FOUND, POLICE ADMIT LINK TO OTHER MURDERS

BANNER: Gotham Gabber, 11/20/46
IS YOUR HUBBIE A MURDEROUS MANIAC? FIVE WAYS TO FIND OUT INSIDE!

BANNER: Gotham Globe, 12/01/46
SOURCES: KILLER LEAVING PHOTOGRAPHS OF VICS AT CRIME SCENES

BANNER: Gotham Globe, 12/19/46
SNAPSHOT KILLER CLAIMS SEVENTH VICTIM, GCPD WARN WOMEN OF DANGERS

*****​


December 21st, 1946
Western Gotham City
3:29 AM

Detective Jim Corrigan cruised the strip towards county territory, his sights on a shakedown sortie. Shakedown Jim, the Narco Nightshift Ne'er-do-well. He was the scourge of sycophantic scum and stimulant selling stooges. He'd pop pill peddlers and pilfer their prescription pile. He popped pills with aplomb. He dug the delirious dope high. This baaaaad bloodhound beats beaucoup bad bums and breaks the bones of bandits.

Jim rode a righteous rapture of speed and painkillers. A killer kombo kreated krazy kreations of the kranium. He cruised and saw Christmas trees melting and molting. He saw reindeer dripping blood from their snouts. Nobody out tonight. No whores walking the beat, no pimps plying their pugilistic power. No drug dealers digging on the diabolical dichotomy of their dreary lives.

Nobody out tonight because a psycho sought out senoritas to slash. Said psycho killer slaughtered with skill. Seven bodies stacked up in the moldy municipal morgue. The Snapshot shooter seriously spooked slum squatters. Nix on that. Tonight the big bad bloodhound bounced through blocks of blight to bag his blow.

Near the county line he pulled into a side alley. Nobody on the street, nobody on the corners. Nobody out to shakedown. A wasted night. Jim prepared to turn around. Headlights flashed on something in the road. A dead body. Corrigan parked. He lumbered out. He saw a dead girl. He saw photos on her body. He freaked. He ran back to the car and got on the radio.

*****​


Western Gotham City
4:05 AM

Blue lights and arc lights illuminated the crime scene. A dead woman, face down in the cold mud. Two exit wounds on the back of the head. Disheveled clothing. Harness bulls in coats smoked cigarettes and drank coffee and mulled around. Shakedown Jim smoking with them. Police scientists en route, ditto on the brass.

Slam squatted by the body. Steam poured from his mouth. Just below freezing outside. Narco dick Corrigan stumbled upon her while chasing down a lead. Slam caught the squeal. He saw the photos on the back. Snapshots of the vic. She's squinting. She has her hand up to her face. She looks scared shitless. Last moments of her life before two bullets blow her brains out. The Snapshot Killer strikes again. Slam reported it back to Gotham Central. Max fucking Eckhardt was on the way.

The dead girl on the ground made it murder number eight of the spree. Eckhardt caught the first murder back in September. Homicide's first man up rule dictated he got stuck with any subsequent murders. Whiskey Max stuck with eight unsolved stiffs made Slam smile. The brass tried to downplay the snuffs and say they weren't connected. Slam got a little payback by leaking classified material to the papers. They broke the story wide and ran with it. It caused the brass grief, but it fucked Eckhardt up. Good. Fuck him, the blackmailing prick Slam stood. His knees popped. He bummed a smoke from a uniformed cop. He lit up and stared at the dead girl.

Six months in, Homicide was the pits. His rep was that of an enforcer and not a case man. Eckhardt bypassed him when he dished out assignments. He was always secondary on cases and assisted other detectives. Lt. Boyle’s mandate was a pussy one: no hitting suspects. Slam played psycho in Mutt and Jeff interrogations. Acted like he was gonna hit and then pull back at the last second. He could handle that if they would let him actually work cases.

The Snapshot case was something interesting, but he got the shit work from it. He pined for the street. He kept in touch with Two-Gun Jack Grogan. His order was still good: Kill Max Eckhardt. Kill the fucker outright and come out of the cold and back to warming embrace of the mob squad. His hatred for Eckhardt burned as strong as Slam's. Slam did not want to kill Eckhardt outright. That was too easy. Slam wanted him to suffer. He wanted him to beg for mercy before he killed him.

*****


Max got out the car. He pulled his coat close. Fields drove and served as secondary on the case. Max lugged his crime scene equipment, still tasting the bourbon in his mouth. A few shots to steady himself before he went out in the cold. Fields lit up a stogie and blew smoke. They passed under crime scene rope. Reporters already dogged the scene. And why not? A goddamn maniac was on the loose and they needed copy.

Three uniforms stood around a body. Slam Bradley off to the side smoking. Max felt prickles on the back of his neck. They worked together for sixth months now and hadn’t said more than two words to each other. They stayed out of each other’s way and liked it like that. Any conversation would be laced with rancor. Any discussions would devolve into hostility. Bradley: A thug who outright murdered a state's witness, yet Max was the bad guy in this particular narrative. He sold his silence for rank. He bought a lieutenancy with extortion. Maybe there was something to Bradley's hatred.

Bradley wore a smirk. Max pegged it: He's getting a kick out of watching you flail. He likes seeing you with seven -- now eight -- murders on your cart. He wants you to fuck up and fail. Save for Charlie, they all want you to fail. They know you're next in line for promotion. They know when Boyle finally dies you'll be their boss. They're envious. They want what you have. They despise you because of all you have and will soon have.

Fields talked to Slam while Max examined the body. He ginglerly turned the body over and went to work. The victim matched the basic description of the previous seven. White female, somewhere in her twenties or thirties. Two bullet wounds in the head. Bullet wounds were the basic shape and hole of a .38, the killer's weapon of choice. Max glommed the pix on the body. Cheap film, washed out exposure. The victim crying, trying to resist. Her hands flailing and fighting back. Mark it as number eight on the Snapshot Killer's victim scorecard.

Charlie Fields walked over and said, "One of ours discovered the body. Corrigan out of Central Narco."

Max stood and said, "Shakedown Jim? Hopefully he's not high. The man is a disgrace."

Charlie winked. "I wouldn't be too quick to judge if I were you, Whiskey Max."

Max scowled. He pushed past Fields. The gaggle of cops gossiping like schoolgirls. They passed around a flask and snickered when they saw him approach.

One cop said, "Whiskey Max is here."

Another cop said, "He must have smelled hooch from clear across the street."

Slam shook the flask at Max and said, "I think his mouth is watering."

Max said, "Cut the crap before I have you all written up and suspended. A woman is dead over there, the eighth victim of a maniac. This is no time for jokes. Detective Corrigan, follow me to my car. I want your statement on your discovery of the body. I want everyone else canvassing the area right now to find out who saw her before her death, and if they saw anything else. If you have anything to report, find Detective Fields. Failure to comply with my orders will result in suspension and a potential trial board. Get to it."

Most of the cops high-tailed it. They amscrayed to get to work. Bradley drug his feet. He sulked and took his time. Max locked eyes with him.

"That means you too, Bradley. Do not make me repeat myself. I'll use big words like you pal, Two-Gun Jack: You will find that curlishness perturbs me."

Bradley stalked off. Corrigan and Fields traded looks that said what the hell was that all about? Max ignored them. He motioned for Corrigan to follow him. Fields headed out to canvass. They stopped at the dead body.

Max said, "Eight women are dead, Detective."

Corrigan ran a shaky hand across his poorly shaved face "The sick fuck is running roughshod over the goddamn city."

"Not for much longer."

Max said a silent prayer. A prayer for the dead girl's soul. A prayer for the previous seven dead girls. He prayed for safe passage of their soul. He prayed for divine retribution. He prayed for justice. He prayed for his own soul. His own divine intervention. He prayed for the strength to stop drinking.

He prayed to break the case wide open. Catching a killer like this would cement him in the PD, make his career, and make him nigh untouchable to demons like Bradley and Grogan. Max looked across the street. Bradley watched. He smiled. He mimed shooting a gun with his finger. He blew on his fingertip. Steam from his breath aped gunsmoke.
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Hidden 29 days ago Post by Xandrya
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Xandrya How the mighty have fallen

Member Seen 12 hrs ago


A few minutes after the attack


When the Soul-Self reached Central Park, Rachel was surprised to see how bad the attack had gotten. The scene was nothing short of chaotic, the point reinforced when a couple of bullets whizzed through her spirit form. Rachel wasn't harmed, but she needed to deal with whatever was going on in person. She opened her eyes and quickly got to her feet, the Soul-Self disappearing from the sights of those targeting it. Within the next couple of minutes, Raven flew out of her window and headed south towards the Hudson River. She wanted to circle the city as well as the surrounding areas to see how far the mess extended, beyond what she was originally able to see.

Raven was in the air making her way over to Governors Island when she was knocked off trajectory by what could be described as a wrecking ball being dropped on her back. The heavy impact knocked the wind out of her, making her crash-land atop a building as a result. Pain immediately followed, though it was tolerable and not crippling despite appearing otherwise. She ignored the feeling and attempted to shake off the daze, her eyes focusing on the hooded figure hovering some distance above her. Raven got to her feet, but an almost identical attack caught her by surprise again, this time making her fall and hit the pavement below.

After she was able to compose herself, two of her brothers came into view, getting close enough to Raven for her to identify her attackers, Jesse and Jared. The siblings stood side by side, the expression on their faces one that Raven recognized a little too well.

"What are you doing here?" she questioned, but failing to get a response. After a few tense moments passed, Raven looked beyond the pair to make out a familiar frame she hadn't yet noticed. Her breath caught in her throat almost instantly, the dark-haired woman slowly approaching her. Neither of them said a word to each other, they simply stared. Raven hadn't seen her mother in years, yet now she was standing a few feet across from her. Or at least, the woman she thought was her mother.

"Is it really you?" Raven went on, noticing there was a slight change about her looks but nonetheless recognizing the woman as her mother. Her stance, the way she looked at Raven, the silence...

Raven breathed a sigh of relief when Arella nodded at her. She smiled a little, an unfamiliar sense of happiness washing over her. Raven had been brought back to life before, taking on a new physical form, and the possibility that the same had occurred to her mother wasn't all that far-fetched. But Raven was too caught up in the blissful moment to realize that her brothers were there too, and it wasn't to witness a happy reunion.

Raven's smile vanished when Arella's appearance shifted and took on a new form, that of her other brother Jacob. She watched for a moment before she forced herself to react, although by then her siblings had the advantage. Despite Raven's attempt to lunge at Jacob, she couldn't move. She looked down to see her hands trapped in orbs of dark energy. She had been fooled by their emotional manipulation, and the idea didn't sit well with her.

"What the hell do you want?" Raven was growing frustrated, the image of whom she believed to be her mother burning in her brain and clouding her judgement. Jesse took a few steps forward, arms crossed in front of his chest.

"Nothing complicated, except for our father's return. Of course if that's to happen you're going to have to die."

"Is that so?"

Raven's eyes starting glowing, but a bright flash that nearly blinded her knocked her back roughly 100 feet. The initial shock quickly wore off and was replaced by a burning sensation, something much more painful than if were set on fire. Her lungs were slowly deprived of air, allowing just enough for her to not suffocate right away. Raven panicked, faintly remembering a similar attack strategy used by her father. If that was the case, then she wasn't making it out alive.

Raven was unable to protest when her brothers surrounded her. She was looking up at the three monsters responsible for a lot of misery in her life, but she didn't think she would die at their feet. Raven's breath grew more shallow when she attempted to speak.

"He's waiting for me..."

There were no more words from either of them. Raven closed her eyes, feeling herself growing numb as was her body's response to the overbearing pain. She figured she was done, that she would be left alone to die at that point but she was wrong. The same crackling noise from before filled the air, and through her eyelids, Raven noticed another bright flash before her world turned black.
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Hidden 28 days ago Post by IceHeart
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IceHeart

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Location: New York City, United States - Present
Issue #1.08: Obelisks of Doom / Crisis Event



“Well that just happened, never expected to meet The Wonder Woman while trying to save the world. Course most people never expected they would be trying to save the world in the first place!” Kara thought to herself after she left Wonder Woman behind to deal with the central park issue. It was fine to leave Wonder Woman behind, right? I mean she was The Wonder Woman after all and considering these Black cheap Egyptian knock-offs were spewing mind messing robot bugs all over the place she really couldn’t afford to waste much time.

Everywhere she looked there were people to save, a woman getting trapped by infected citizens trying to rip her to pieces to drop off in a safe place, infected cops firing at whatever moved she quickly had to disarm before someone had a new air hole they didn’t want, and of course decking any of the original terrorists she could find. The problem was no matter how many people she saved the core problem was still there, some madman was using robotic bugs to mind jack thousands of people but she had no idea where to find the shiny villain, plus even if she did know there was no guarantee that taking him out would stop this mess, the only thing that seemed like it could help was taking out those obelisks which were probably acting as transmitter towers for the bugs, though this was just speculation.

“I need to know where these Obelisks things are, but if I just fly about like a madwoman I could miss someone who needs my help. I need a navigator.”

“I can be of assistance Kara of House El.”

“Whoa! Wait! What? Kelex is that you? But you’ll all the way in the tippy-top of Canada!” Supergirl had nearly spun out of the sky in surprise at hearing the now familiar robotic voice. Before it could reply back Kara noticed a man being chased by some of the infected people.

“Just a sec.” She quickly swooped down and carried the man off to a quiet corner, “Sorry for the quick ride but I’m kinda in a hurry here! Better get as far away as you can!” Before the man could really react she was already back in the air.

“So how are you talking to me?”

“During your last visit I had a communication crystal weave installed in your family crest. By bouncing a signal off of this world’s primitive satellites I am able to communicate with you from the research facility.”

“So I have a Kryptonian microphone installed on the chest, well that isn’t creepy at all…” The AI didn’t catch the bit of displeasure in her voice and continued on.

“I can assist you Kara of House El in finding the location of unknown technology currently injecting the city. From the recordings sent by the terrorist, I have deduced that the closest Obelisk to your location is on the grounds of a certain, Long Island Univeristy, just east of your position.”

“I appreciate the assist Kelex but I think we’re going to have to have a little talk about a thing called ‘personal boundaries’. You will definitely tell me how I can switch this thing off later!”

The red and blue clad Supergirl sped off toward Long Island University, thankfully it really was quite close and within a very short time frame she found her target. It was quite the grizzly scene, many students, people around her age were either terribly injured, infected by the bots, or even dead. The lawns were messed up and there was quite a bit of collateral damage from the rampaging people. There were quite a few people here she would have met through college meets and the like, but some lunatic, this Stryfe, had decided to take action which had ended quite a few careers and lives in a few short hours.

Supergirl clenched her fist as she touched down on the ground so she could be on the same level as the guys working with the bad guy who were circling around the Obelisk to protect it.

“So what kind of messed up ideas made you guys think it was a good idea to hurt people with dreams of being something better huh!?” Supergirl walked forward while most of the baddies either looked at her stupidly or just laughed.

“The heck is with this crazy girl? Let’s take her out quick guys!” One of the terrorists with a rifle spoke up and started unloading on Supergirl and everyone else nearby quickly followed. Supergirl merely smiled and walked with flinching which caused the faces of her enemies to change to confusion and horror. Thankfully there didn’t appear to be anything she had to worry about herself at the moment, but before she could take out the Obelisk it would be best to take out of trash mobs around it first so they couldn’t do anymore damage.

“Say you guys all know about Wonder Woman right? Can deflect bullets with her bracelets and all that? Well I can do that do it’s just that my whole body is like that so good luck!”

“What the heck! That’s just cheating!” The guy tried different parts of the body to aim at but no matter where the bullet went it just bounced off, though admittedly Kara made sure none of the bullets hit or eye or entered her mouth, just in case. She might be pretty much invincible but no one should just let a piece of metal hit them in the eye.

“Sorry but like a lot of people say, life just isn’t fair!” Supergirl rushed the man, grabbed his rifle and twisted it up like a pretzel much to his horror. “Well I’ll be taking you all down right now, don’t hold it against me too much alright?” Kara couldn't help but grin a little too much as she casually tossed the ruined weapon aside.

Realizing he was completely outmatched the man instead changed tactics. “Don’t you know who we are? Well I guess we just announced ourselves so you wouldn’t, but we’re the Metahuman Supremacy Front! If you take us down you’re just hurting metas like yourself!”

“Oh such a stunning argument but, I’m kind of an Alien so that really doesn’t apply to me anyway, sorry about that!” With a soft whack, she knocked him out cold and set him on the ground. “Time to stop wasting time and take you crazies out!”

A ton of gunfire erupted across the campus but the sounds were quickly being stifled as Supergirl started laying them all out flat. It wouldn’t be too long before she could focus on the bad piece of light sucking artwork in front of the campus.
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Hidden 27 days ago 27 days ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 A Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

Member Seen 21 min ago

With Muchos Help from @DocTachyon We Proudly Present...




M A N H A T T A N , N E W Y O R K

Present Day | C’mon man, pay attention. Manhattan New York

"Hell of a lot of fighting considering the Rangers aren't even in town..."

Hup, let's back up a bit. We're not up to there yet...




The webline pulled taut. The dark blue X-Man caught the line, and with a single flash of flexed muscle, the Spider-Man hauled the pair to safety on the hull of the strange aircraft, the Bug. He then performed the same trick he had earlier to swing himself up there too, finding Nightcrawler still doubled over panting from exhaustion.

"Zhanks for zhe assist!" Ted heard a german accent filtered through the Bug's internal speakers. Then, two clangs of a costumed fist against the battle plating.

"Open 'er up, Beetle. Believe it or not, blue's in this year."

The Blue Beetle opened the hatch and began to pull his craft up to a safer altitude, as Spider-Man seemingly sluiced his way back into the Bug whilst Nightcrawler acrobatically dropped in, his tail swinging, as he reached up to help the small girl safely drop into the interior.

"Introducing the astonishing..." Spider-Man paused for a moment. "X... Guy? And guest."

"Nightcrawler." The X-Man offered. He extended a three-fingered hand. The little girl he had brought with him fussed at his side, wringing her hands and slowly venturing out to see the rest of the aircraft.

"Well, you two sure know how to make a guy feel self-conscious about just slapping on some blue spandex and calling himself the Blue Beetle. Look at you two. Going the extra mile."

"Spandex?" Asked Kurt, "Zat is vhat you vear?"

"Well, no. But what I actually wear would be too wordy and you'd miss the bite of the joke. Sometimes it's best just to roll with it and not think about it too much... speaking of which, we're coming up to Madison Square Garden now. I can have the Bug circle on autopilot with Little Miss Innocent Bystander New York City 2019 here, whilst we three go take care of business in the House of Perpetual Knicks Sadness. How's that sound?"

The Blue Beetle tapped at some buttons on the console as he got out of his seat, he set a circling flight pattern over the city below and one of the monitors changed to a regular kids TV feed. He cut some of the displays to the horrors of what was going on far below. Ted lowered the drivers seat and put the little girl in it, manually adjusting the seatbelt restraints.

“There. Now you’re tucked in all safe. Aaaaaand you get to be in charge of your own airship. So long as you don’t touch anything. DO NOT. TOUCH. ANYTHING.” The Blue Beetle emphasized seriously. “You’ve got your tv, you can see where you’re going, you’re in charge!” His smile returned.

“So long as I don’t do anything…” The girl noted, with one eyebrow cocked in suspicion.

“Exactly. When I get back you’ll be all primed and ready to work in politics. Or as a CEO somewhere.”

Suddenly the kids network flicked over to another singular face, filling the tv. “Citizens, please remain calm. SHIELD has established a safe area at the United Nations Headquarters. We have taken over the Emergency Services, and will send operatives to try and rescue you from danger. Please dial 911 and we will get to you as soon as possible. This message will now repeat.”

Ted flicked the channel over for another kids channel.

“Citizens, please remain calm…”

“...SHIELD has established…”

“...--fe area at the United Nations He--...”


The Blue Beetle furrowed his brow. The last thing he needed was this girl to be worked up into a greater and greater panic being strapped in and forced to watch Captain America dwelling on the situation at hand. Earnest and sincere as he may well be.

“You know what? Forget TV. You’re in charge, remember?” He changed the monitor display from the TV to the assortment of towers surrounding New York that were active. “So you can be a big girl and watch us fix this thing, and you can be our Eye-In-the-Sky. Here.”

He slid open a drawer and removed three earpiece telecommunication devices, giving one to the girl and tossing two to the others.

“That way you can talk to us and tell us what’s happening.”

“What about yours?”

“Mine’s already fitted in the cowl.”

“Can I call 911 with this?”

“You don’t need to call 911. The heroes are already here.” He smiled reassuringly.

She cocked her eyebrow suspiciously again. "Do heroes usually sweat this much?”

“I don’t know.” Ted shot back. “Do grateful rescued little girls usually bust chops this much?”

Neither of them knew it right then, but in the weeks to come Ted would come to understand that the answer to that particular rhetorical question was “Yeah, more than you might think.”

"You ever get that you have a gift with children?" Spider-Man said, eyeing the windows as The Bug drew close.

"Oh, all the time. I have so many plaques I had to start throwing them away." The Bug swooped through the air and descended on Madison Square Garden. It was alight with red and blue neon and long panes of glass stretched around its circular body. Throngs of people washed in and out of it, two waves of bodies clashing at the entrance.

"Are ve sure zhat ve can get through zhat?" Nightcrawler asked. He fidgeted with the breastplate of his costume.

"No, but I guess we're gonna try anyway." Ted attached himself to the sky-wire and tugged against the connection point on his belt, wondering if that sounded heroic.

Spider-Man pressed the key designated for opening the hatch and deploying the sky-wire. The hatch began to trundle open. "Anyone have any inspiring words? I left my phrasebook in my other pants."

"Vhonce more unto zhe breach." Nightcrawler said.

That was way more heroic...

Spider-Man web-slung his way to the ground far below, Ted dropped in on his Sky-wire and the Nightcrawler made his own dramatic entrance as puffs of ebony smoke dispersed at distant interval from the Bug towards the ground, before a final burst on the ground saw a twistng dark blue metahuman nailing raging citizens with an assortment of acrobatic kicks, clearing a safe space for the other two to come to ground.

Spider-Man hit the ground and bounded forward on legs coiled like springs, bowling over rows of oncoming combatants and propelling himself forward with webline after webline. Nightcrawler vanished in a burst of black smoke and seemed to flicker across the battlefield, taking down civilians and sweeping legs as Spider-Man pirouetted in the sky. Ted jogged forward and thought that maybe twenty minutes on the treadmill every day would be a good idea.

"Hup!" Ted pulled himself over the turnstile with his good arm as Spider-Man launched past him and burst through the Garden's glass doors, with Nightcrawler on his heels. Ted hauled himself up and forward, sprinting through the doors and nearly slamming into Spider-Man and Nightcrawler who stood before him, surveying the stadium.

“Whoa…” The three said in unison.

A small tower edifice was set up at center court, protected by two armed guards. But it was what surrounded them that prompted their reaction.

Dozens. Perhaps as many as a hundred… perhaps even slightly more, average janes and joes brawling all around them on the court. As vicious as earlier on the street.

"Hell of a lot of fighting considering the Rangers aren't even in town..."

“Is it just me, or do ze vones vith ze guns not seem at all bothered with ze idea of ze others even trying to hurt zem?”

“Huh. I think you’re onto something there.”

Suddenly the little girl broke in far too loud over the comm-link. “I think the one at the Park stopped working. The little blinking light has gone out!”

Ted cycled throught the displays on his visor until he got to an overlay of the tower map. Spider-Man scrapped for his phone. She was right.

“Thank you very much. You’re being very helpful.”

“I knew phone-a-friend would come in handy.” Spider-Man said over the line. They heard a giggle and then things went back to radio silence.

"If you two can keep them busy, then I should be able to get down there and check out what kind of hardware they’re rocking.” Ted said, reaching into his belt and pulling at a USB drive attached to a cord which was filled with Hack-and-Crack tools.

The gesture was far less impressive than Blue Beetle had hoped, as the other two looked on with uncertainty. Nightcrawler scratched the back of his head with his tail.

“Oh, come on! We just jumped out of a custom aircraft which I made myself, which is currently circling on auto-pilot! You think I can’t do this!?” He whispered hoarsely.

“I don’t know… There vere a lot of loose vires everyvhere in there…”

Spider-Man eyed the gun-toting goons, who were just beginning to notice them.

"We better get a key to the city or something for this... At least a commemorative keychain." Spider-Man launched forward and hung a webline off the rafters, swooping over the obsidian tower.

"Viel glück, Herr Beetle." Nightcrawler said as he stepped forward, vanishing into a plume of smoke.

Gunfire erupted enmasse from the goons guarding the tower, peppering the ceiling with bulletholes as Spider-Man dodged between support beams and launched balls of webbing down at the guards. Nightcrawler supported him, creeping up from behind in ghostly flashes of purple as he ripped assault rifles from hands and disappeared as quickly as he had come.

Spider-Man dove from his perch while the gunmen searched for their teleporting assailant. He had barely kissed the ground before he was moving again, launching through the crowd and lashing out with kicks and bursts of webbing. "Hurry up, BB! I'm allergic to lead!"

"Vell, zhey seem to be allergic to X-Men!" Nightcrawler erupted from the floor in a wave of smoke and caught a gunman in the stomach.

Ted saw his opening and raced over to the tower, his shoes’ squeaks echoing as he crossed the hardwood basketball court. He slid unnecessarily over to the tower, took off a cover panel which revealed a display monitor and auxiliary ports for the device. The Blue Beetle jacked in his USB and quickly got to work on cracking the tech. A few seconds passed as he tried various things before he found a way in. The display monitor started regurgitating code at a rapid pace, scrolling down the monitor.

“I’m in!” He alerted the others through comms.

“Ja wirklich??? I mean, Vell Done! Now hurry up and turn it off or self destruct it, or somezing!” Nightcrawler’s voice came through, muffled presumably from physical altercations.

“I don’t think that would help, unfortunately.” Beetle said, trying desperately to keep up with the code.

“What do you mean?” Spider-Man called through, backflipping over a small mob, before webbing them to the ground.

“They’re semi-autonomous. They’ll just look for another signal. Another tower. They’ll pick up a faint tertiary signal, divert and resume full control once they’re in close enough proximity to resume primary signal.”

“So what now..?” Spider-Man asked, thwipping away.

“Well, gimme a minute to see all of what I’m working with...”

Ted kept his thoughts silent, that he wished that Murray Takamoto could see what he was looking at. Murray was the real cyber-wiz at K.O.R.D. Ted kind of just tinkered in his free time and muddled along, figuring things out as he went. What he needed was an anchor, something that he recognized which he could--

“I’ve got it!”

“What?” The pair of acrobatic, scrapping heroes said in unison.

“This string of code here. I’ve seen it before. Air traffic control use it. For T.A.C beacons and automated flight paths.” Ted’s excitement grew.

“You can remote deactivate all of the towers at once? End this?”

“No. But I think I can--” Ted paused in mid-thought.

“Vhat?”

“How much do you two want to be heroes..?”

“I don’t like the way you’re asking that question, Blue…” Spider-Man said down the line, his breath steady as he was taking a short rest break on top of a backboard, whilst deranged civilians floundered around beneath, trying unsuccessfully to jump up to where he sat.

“I can’t shut the others down. But I can limit the damage. Change the battlefield. I can set this tower as the ‘master’ signal. Bring it all down on us here. It will leave the other towers less defended. Just the goons with guns. No more crazy civilians or hideous nanodrone swarms anywhere else. Because they’ll all be on their way here. You heard what Captain America said, they’re working on taking the other towers down. We can make that easier for them. And limit the number of people geting infected as this sprawls out across all of New York...” Ted spoke earnestly down the comm-line.

“And kill us?”

“Not necessarily,” Ted said with probably not enough optimism to sell the idea, “we buy them time and monitor the way they’re taking down the other towers. The second they’ve taken down the last one, we disable this one and it should end all of this.”

“Are we going to be able to take down the tower, once we’ve brought all of the swarms, and all of New York’s infected civilians down on ourselves, fighting in this little box?” Spider-Man asked.

“...”

“Do it!” Nightcrawler said. “I vill not have zhis plague spread any furzher across zhis city in zhe name of mutantkind!”

“It’s done.” Blue Beetle said.

“Why not?” Spider-Man said. “We’re already having a Hell of a party here, it’d be rude not to invite everyone.”

“Just give me a second… Cap left a message for us. So, I’m just going to leave an invitation for everyone else… and done.” Ted typed rapidly, then put his USB back in his belt, and dropped the cover panelling back into place.

“Now get me up and out of here, before they see me and tear me to shreds.”

Spider-Man swept down, and grabbed the blue garbed hero, before shooting a web-line for the rafters far above.




Suddenly all of the towers across New York City began printing reams of paper, and flashing a message across their internal display screens.

“Yoink! Got your swarm! BWA HA HA! Take out the other towers and come on down! The Blue Beetle, Spider-Man, Nightcrawler and Marv Albert Live from Madison Square Garden! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”
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Hidden 27 days ago 25 days ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Leaf on the Wind

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♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ SEASON ONE: GODS AMONG MEN ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Location: Four Freedoms Plaza - New York City, United States of America
Season One #1.04: The Needs of the Many

Interaction(s): @Hound55 as the Blue Beetle & @DocTachyon as Spider-Man
Previously: Mass Panic

Live broadcasts from numerous news outlets across the two cities were proudly displayed on the collection of monitors. Standing in front of a large bay window, Reverend Stryker intently listened to the various reports, a smug smile spreading across his face beneath the heavy helmet. His back was turned to the screens, his attention drawn else while the newscasters babbled on about the 'mutant attack' that was spreading across both New York and Star City. Much to Stryker's surprise there was even a report from Gotham City.

The Four Freedoms Plaza was situated on the mouth of the Hudson, where the river emptied into the bay that led to the Atlantic. To the North, was the New York Stock Exchange and from there, his eyes wandered towards Central Park. There were nine units laid out across New York City, even if the mutants could destroy more than half, they would never negate all the damage caused by the attack. Especially the tarnishing of mutants everywhere. The plan had been executed perfectly. When it was all over, in conjunction with the investigation into Wonder Woman's actions in Transia, congress would be unable to avoid moving forward with a Metahuman Registration Act. The Sentinel App was only the tip of the iceberg of what could truly be accomplished if every mutant was forced to register their identity and abilities.

"Sir!" A member of the 'Metahuman Supremacy Front' suddenly exclaimed. "Central Park just went offline!" He stated, gesturing towards the screen. Waving a hand dismissively, the Reverend merely laughed.

"Let them have that one, it's too late," Stryker warned before turning back to watching the city below. This orchestrated crisis had brought out some of the biggest names in the metahuman community. The aforementioned tower had been destroyed by Wonder Woman of all people. Spinning around, Stryker approached a monitor, rewinding the last few minutes of footage on the Central Park Tower to get a better look at the vigilante aiding Wonder Woman.

It took Stryker a moment, but eventually, he recognized the so-called hero as the vigilante from Dakota. The Kilowatt Kid the locals had dubbed him before he announced him as Static. There was something flattering about heroes from as far away as Dakota coming to help 'save the day'. Still, it wouldn't be enough, the city would pay a terrible price today but it was for the future. It was so his grandchildren wouldn't grow up in a world where they had to be afraid of mutants and their kind.

"Someone is hijacking the broadcasts!" The shock was evident in Griffin's voice as he turned to look towards his father. Meeting his son's glance, Stryker motioned for the volume to be turned up as all eyes turned towards the broadcast.

"Citizens, please remain calm." An authoritative voice stated calmly as none other than Captain America appeared on every screen in front of the Metahuman Supremacy Front. "SHIELD has established a safe area at the United Nations Headquarters. We have taken over Emergency Services and will send operatives to try and rescue you from danger. Please dial 911 and we will get to you as soon as possible. Help is on the way. This message will now repeat."

"Captain America is still alive?" Came a stunned voice only to be interrupted as another individual piped up.

"Supergirl was just reported heading towards Long Island-" they yelled, pausing before slamming a hand against the desk. "We just lost Long Island University, she took out our men like they were nothing."

"This is getting out of hand now," Stryker muttered. "First Wonder Woman, now Captain America and Supergirl. We need to accelerate the plan. Send a new command to the drones-"

"I-I can't!" Stammered one of the technicians. "We're locked out of the system, our network has been compromised." A message began to scrawl across the screen causing all of the gathered Metahuman Supremacy Front to take a deep breath.

Yoink!
Got your swarm!
BWA HA HA!
Take out the other towers and come on down!
The Blue Beetle, Spider-Man, Nightcrawler and Marv Albert Live from Madison Square Garden!
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

"All the drones are converging on Madison Square, whatever they did, they're funnelling all of the action to one spot essentially leaving the other towers defenceless." The same technician explained. Stryker suddenly patted him reassuringly before addressing the group.

"They have forced our hand. Prepare the suit for battle and set the other towers to blow. There's no way they'll get to them all in time."

"But, Sir? The casualties in Star City alone, not to mention New York will be astronomical. We're doing this for the people, not to the people."

"Sacrifice is a part of life and the needs of the many outweigh those of the few," Stryker answered before beginning a full run-through of the suits systems. Hovering above the floor, he lowered himself back down before stretching out a hand, moving several objects from across the room.

"There are over seven billion people in the world, even if we wiped out all of New York today, we'd barely kill ten percent of them. Ninety percent of humanity would go on to live in a world free of mutants like them." He screamed, pointing towards the screens of Blue Beetle, Spider-Man and Nightcrawler.

Reluctantly entering the command, an internal timer was triggered on all of the remaining obelisks across both New York and Star City. The internal clock starting at thirty minutes. Just enough time for Stryfe to make his debut only to die a martyr in front of the watching world. If he was lucky, he would die with Wonder Woman's sword through his chest while the heroine was too distracted to notice the world exploding around her.

"Dad?" Griffin's voice gave Stryker pause. But sacrifice was part of life and he had resolved to see this through.

"Take care of your mother for me." He replied, placing an armoured hand on his son's shoulder. "I'm so proud of you, you're going to accomplish great things in our new world."

"Don't do this!" Griffin protested but Stryker only shook his head.

"You need to stand back." The older man ordered. Launching through the same window he had watched the chaos unfurl from, Stryfe flew through the air, piloting the obnoxious suit towards Madison Square. Landing roughly, Stryfe didn't waste any time introducing himself before firing a blast from the gauntlet and removing the blue-furred X-Men from the equation.

"You get one chance to walk away." Stryfe's voice was loud and clear, the exaggerated baritone drowning out the din of the frenzied crowd. "I suggest you take it."
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Hidden 26 days ago 26 days ago Post by Natty
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Natty Supervillain Enthusiast

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A sharp screech cut loudly through the library as Kristine Calverly moved the whetstone over the claws of her gauntlets. The noise was the only sound to be heard from within the Star City Public Library, bar the occasional chime of the servers stacked in the centre of the room or the occasional shrieks from the streets beyond its walls. She merely let out a menacing smirk as her four-armed compatriot Michael McCain flashed a scowl in her direction, before returning his gaze back towards the monitor.

The sight of the muscle clad behemoth pouring over the computers bemused her greatly, a fact she made no attempt to hide. The look of fear on his face as he watched the battle of New York on the machine’s monitors merely added to the smile on her face. For a man who went by Forearm you think he’d be used to the horrifying appearances of the mutants that flashed across the screen, yet here he stood like a whimpering baby, clutching his extra pair of limbs as if they would fall off at a moments notice. Kristine couldn’t entirely blame him for his fear. The blue-furred demon that jumped about the screen was enough to make any man’s skin crawl. But that was why they were here; to put an end to the scourge of their kind.

She watched as Forearm reached into his pocket, producing a pill bottle. The pills inside rattled frantically as he poured a number into his hand, before shoving them down his throat with a large gulp. After a few seconds, his body stopped fidgeting, his artificial arms growing more relaxed as the painkillers did their job. The experiments had had an effect on all of them, Michael more than the rest. She looked down at her own hand, her palm the only part exposed from the ragged claws she wore. Her veins pulsated vividly, a deep purple from the Velocity 9 that gave her her abilities. Sure the enhancer gave her speed, but the pain it gave her, as a result, was worse than her cramps. It was a pain she had chosen though. It would all be worth it in the end.

“Has the Grell tower regained contact again?”

Haruo’s voice called from the balcony above them. He spoke sharply in an authoritative manner, his eyes unmoving from the tablet in his hands. He looked almost fearsome in his suit of red and white, the visor covering his face making him appear just like one of the mutants she’d previously spotted on the news. He played the part well, although for Kristine it was often hard to see where Haruo ended and the Kamikaze began.

McCain gave a questioning look to the central monitor which displayed a series of flashing lights over a wireframe map of the city. He shook his head with irritation.

“Nope, and no contact from the squad there either.”

“The new Robin Hood?” Kristine asked if only to stop herself from making a comment at the pissed off expression on both of her teammate’s faces.

“Doesn’t look like it,” Michael said, rubbing his chin with one of his multiple arms. “Looks like some crazy blonde chick just whooshed through and beat the crap out of them.”

The news brought a smile to Burnout’s face, her gaze running alongside the edge of her blades.

“Perfect. A new wannabe hero for us to gut then.”

Haruo’s stern voice cut her off, as he moved around the balcony above until he backed a large bay window that looked out over the city.

“I wouldn’t get your hopes up Burnout.” He jeered, oblivious to the skyline darkening behind him. “It would take a miracle for anyone to find us here.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, the window behind him exploded with a mass of sickly black energy, as if to mock him for his naivety The blast took out a large portion of the upstairs wall, with debris and broken glass scattering everywhere. Kamikaze followed suit, his body plummeting to the ground floor like a ragdoll.

And then, just as quickly as the explosion came, it was gone, replaced by the visage of a young woman. She stood menacingly on the remains of the balcony before them, the sleek black staff in her hand radiating with a poisonous energy. Her hair was a mess of blonde, with her now scruffy fringe covering the entirety of her forehead. Her clothes followed suit; torn and ragged, the rock band logo on her shirt unreadable due to the splatters of blood and the tears that cut through it.

Her eyes were alive with all of the fury and anger that the hordes were fighting with outside. All of the fury of Hell.

Burnout locked eyes with the newcomer, brandishing her claws dramatically.

“Finally.” She uttered, gritting her teeth with a murderous joy.
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Hidden 25 days ago 25 days ago Post by The Bork Lazer
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The Bork Lazer Chomping Time

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STATIC: SPECIAL CROSSOVER ISSUE # 3


EVENT: ABSOLUTE CRISIS


Cold. That was the first word on his mind, flying upwards above the Narrows. Teeth chattering, he wiped a sheen of dew that had accumulated on his googles from his trek towards Staten Island.

Then, a face-full of sea-gull slammed into him.

“ Motherfu-” His shouts were blocked out by the wild roar of the southerly wind. Feathered wings flapped in his face, the smell of bird poo and sour fish choking his senses. He waved his arms uncoordinatedly, one foot coming loose. Crud. He slipped off the slick metal and would have nearly fell into the murky depths below. If it wasn't for his last minute thinking. Static charge built up on his fingertips, allowing him to stick to the bottom of the manhole like an old piece of gum. He watched as the flock dispersed, squawking in laughter. Virgil swayed in the air precariously for a few moments before managing to haul himself back up on the thick disc of grilled steel. He'd imagined his obituary for a second.

VIRGIL HAWKINS. 2001 - 2019. DIED BECAUSE HE WAS SURPRISED BY BIRDS.

He would never live that one down if it happened.

Virgil found it odd that he’d never seen the ocean before. He’d explored swimming pools, rivers and lakes before but nothing could compare to the wide open blue vistas in front of him. Sea salt flecked on his lips, soaking in the cold, briny air. The polarized goggles protected his pupils from the blistering autumn gales, eyes narrowing on his target. Staten Island. The site of one of the last towers. He was still too far away and worse of all, the weather wasn't helping either. The Dakotan native muscles bunched up in the chill. The cloth of his jacket flapped relentlessly in the middle of the bay. That and his reserves were beginning to peter out. His legs were beginning to feel like jelly. He hadn’t traveled this far and for so long before. The glowing stripes on his jacket began to dim in luminescence in a traffic light.

Screams echoed over the waters. Words that he heard a dozen times over in different contexts over hundreds of patrols, coming somewhere over from the bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island.

HELP ME.

PLEASE, SOMEONE

ANYONE

No. He couldn’t give up now. He still needed to do this. If he'd give up now, then, what about Dakota? Dakota could have been hit by this damn thing and he'd have been none the wiser for it. Hell, if Sharon and Dad were in the thick of it right now......A look of grim determination spread upon his face. He needed more speed. The low hum of current increased in volume and the bottom of his surfboard exploded in a starburst of blue brilliance. He burned away in a trajectory of thick ozone and lightning. Air parted away and rushed back into the empty vacuum in his aftertrail, creating thunderclaps.

The Verrazano sliced through the bay like a rib-cage, a bulky mass of gun-metal steel protruding above the swirling water. He flew in closer, hovering above the chaos of beeping cars and shouting drivers. The intersections were gummed up with mile-long traffic jams, everyone trying desperately to flee from Brooklyn towards Staten Island. At the back were a school of buses and behind them were a crowd of infected individuals that were slowly closing their jaws on the rear of the conga line. The mass of infected individuals were battering the sides of the vehicles, passengers inside huddling together frightened.

He struck down like a bolt of lightning. The horde stopped in their tracks for once, eyeing the newest arrival with surprise.

“ I’ve had a real long day today.” Virgil’s eyes scanned the loosely organized crowd of bloodthirsty civilians. “ So, here’s what I’m only gonna say this once. All of you can just go have fun with one another while I escort these people out of here. Sound like a deal?”

There was a pregnant pause. The bus passengers behind him waited with bated breath. A scream followed by several others dashed Virgil’s hopes as dozens charged towards him, leaping and vaulting over cars and obstacles.

“ All right, then.” Virgil grunted, electromagnetically pushing a sedan that had stopped in the middle of the intersection in front of the crowd to act as a shield. One teen against a hundred people. No sweat.

" If you're still alive after this - " He looked back. " I'm gonna need to borrow one of your buses for a second."

Looks of confusion were shared between each of the passengers. Virgil signed. " Trust me. It'll make more sense later."

A scream of terror and a pointed finger behind the window turned his head towards the left. They were already clambering on top of the sedan. He raised out his hands and a slash of light followed.




Drone 4_A_23_Alpha host would soon expire within 23 hours, 15 minutes and 10 seconds from a cerebral stroke from an overdose of hormones within the male’s circulatory system. Enough time to fulfill the parameters of the task that it had been given.

It, along with the rest of Group Alpha, is on alert, has been maintaining a one point five klick perimeter radius around the central tower in Staten Park whilst fulfilling the parameters of its secondary objective. The loss of Group Beta in Central Park is an obstacle towards their primary mission. The network recalculates. The network accounts. The network alters the mission objectives and issues instructions to all drones in Group Alpha to move back towards Tower Alpha.

It’s host sensory organs detect a moving object above them. It observes and relays the image towards the rest of the drones in its group. The target is currently airborne, a distance of 80 meters above and 0.5 klicks away from the central node. Further analysis through the drones infra-red sensors and through the vision of their hosts indicates that this unknown metahuman is on top of this bus. Images received through their hosts retinal organs indicate that the appearance of the individual matches those of the metahuman known as Static. Current analysis of its trajectory and behavioural patterns indicate that this Static is heading towards Tower Alpha.

Drone 4_A_23_Alpha signals to the rest of the swarm to move in on the proposed coordinates.

High priority.

The tower is under attack.




“ Are you folks all ready for the Magic School Bus?!” Virgil shouted out to no one in particular with a grin, trying to ignore the agonizing fatigue that had infected all the muscles in his body. Some might have called him insane for surfing on top of a 10 ton vehicle but who was going to stop him? The four-wheeler public bus moved with the grace of a dinosaur and at the speed of a bicycle under his command. The Bang Baby vigilante grunted with exertion as he shifted his entire body to the right, forcing the five-ton monstrosity of steel and rubber to change its direction. It was all going to be worth it in the end. Besides, the bigger the better, right? It was simple high-school physics. Half times the mass in grams times velocity squared. Or was it mass times acceleration? Eh, he couldn't care less.

The park comes into view and with it, the four-story tall tower. Virgil drops his hold onto the power and the bus slams into the base of the tower like a battering ram. He falls off the roof during the impact and lands painfully on his back. It takes every inch of what will he has left remaining to ignore the nauseous strain on his muscles and stand up. Sweaty tangles of hair swayed in his blurred vision. Was he really that tired? He didn’t know what he was running on now. Will? Courage? Pretzels? Maybe, it was a product of the Big Bang. He didn’t have to ruminate, pushing away the crumpled front of the bus by a few degrees by magnetically repelling it away.

The metal exterior of the tower had been crumpled inwards and a torn portion of it revealed a glowing relay. The power conduit. Virgil gingerly removed the glove right hand, hairs on end. Electricity permeated the air, suffusing it with the sinister hum of lethal current. Breathing in, he touched -

White.

So much.

White.

All he could see was a vast cauldron of white that was boiling him alive to the marrow. The generator in Hemingway was a mere hill compared to the mountain of power that the tower funneled throughout its entire circuitry. In spite of the pain, Virgil pushed on, letting the river of current overwhelm him before making his move. With a scream, he reversed and amplified the flow of electricity out into the web of wiring interlaced throughout the tower. Circuits overloaded, capacitors shattered apart and internal resistors melted like wax. Every drop of electricity he had within him and more was forced within the machine, its massive reserves of power being used as its own weapon. Lifting out his other arm, he forced a left fist to smash into the conduit, pulling out burning rubber -

Before everything exploded. He was launched back, weightless for a moment, before landing sideways on his elbow. Ringing dwelled throughout his ears, dissipating slowly, as he rolled over onto his back.

Staring out at the cloudless sky, he let a laugh of fearful mirth.

Something trickled down his nose. He wiped his upper lip with a finger and saw crimson stained on the whorls of his fingerprints.

That wasn't supposed to come out of your nose like that.

Why was he feeling tired so suddenly?

And then, Virgil let the sweet sensations of slumber take him away.
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